HS #287 Fitting your own passions into this busy season of motherhood
Links and Resources:
- Kelli Stuart on Instagram
- Kelli Stuart on Facebook
- Wendy Speake on Instagram
- Wendy Speake on Facebook
Wendy Speake and Kelli Stuart talk about how common it is as homeschool moms to feel that we’ve lost ourselves in this season of homeschooling. We used to have interests, passions and plans, even careers.
While Wendy and Kelli both had to learn to fit their writing careers into the cracks and crevices of family life, they want to encourage you to remember and reclaim some of your passions and pleasures.
Together Kelli Stuart and Wendy Speake wrote the book, Life Creative: Inspiration for Today’s Renaissance Mom. Kelli is also the author of two historical novels: Like a River From its Course and A Silver Willow by the Shore.
Life Creative: Inspiration for Today’s Renaissance Mom
HS EP 287
Hello, and welcome back to another installment of the Homeschool Solution Show. My name is Wendy Speake and I am one of the many hosts we have here on the podcast. Each week you'll hear from one of us inviting one of our friends to join for a conversation about this busy, blessed season as we educate our children at home.
Now the title of the show is Homeschool Solutions. While we don't have the answer to every question, we know that all the solutions to every stress and every struggle can be found in the Person and presence of Jesus Christ and His living and active and applicable Word. We are so glad that you're here to join us for today's conversation. But before we start the show, I'd like to thank our sponsor.
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And now, on to today's show.
Well, hello everybody. I'm so excited about today's guest because she has been a dear friend of mine for almost twenty years. Well, I'm gonna let her tell you a bit of our backstory, let me gush a bit about this talented friend of mind.
Kelly Stewart is a storyteller. Specifically, a novelist. She studied creative writing at Baylor and went on to write the novel, Like a River from Its Course, a sweeping historical fiction set in Ukraine during World War Two. Next came A Silver Willow by the Shore, and in the next two years, Kelly has two more novels slated to release and she's someone you're gonna want to follow along with if you love a good yarn. A good story. Which I do.
But without further ado, let me introduce Kelly to the Homeschool Solution Show. Hey, Kelly.
Hi. I'm so happy to be here with you.
Yeah, well you're one of my favorite people to hang out with and now I get to introduce you to other friends, so. Before we dive into our story, would you share a little bit of the background of our story together? Our friendship story?
Sure. So, 2001, I was living in Dallas, TX, with my new husband, and he went to a Bible study one Tuesday morning. A men's Bible study at the church we were attending, and he came home later and he said, you're not gonna believe this. He said, I met this guy today and he's married to this girl who likes to drink tea like you love to drink tea. And she's an actress and she likes to write and I told, I gave the guy our number and I totally think that you need to get in touch with her. And I was like...and he was always throwing me into these situations.
Yeah, hooking you up, right?
So, I said, okay. Well then, not long after that, I got a phone call and I answered the phone, as one does, and I said, hello? And, on the other line, I heard this little honey voice that said, I hear you like to take tea.
Every time I hear you tell this story, I'm equally parts embarrassed, horrified, and delighted with myself. What a dork.
That was my introduction to Wendy, and our husbands were right. We hit it off right away, and we started meeting weekly and sharing stories we were writing and dreaming about projects we would do together, and a friendship just grew. And even though we ended up moving away and they ended up moving away, we just continued that friendship through creativity and motherhood and here we are, almost twenty years later.
Yeah. We really are. We're almost to our twenty-year anniversary both to our spouses, but to each other. We connected deeply because of our shared faith in Christ, I think first. And then our shared love for tea. But also, our shared love for creative expression. You were and always have been really since you were a child, a lover of stories and a writer of stories, but you also sang and you studied acting and you did musical theatre, and I did all of those things too. And during the early years of our marriage, we spent a lot of time encouraging one another in those creative pursuits. And like you mentioned, we then moved to different cities, different states actually.
But Kelly, would you tell us what happened to you. Or perhaps, what it is that's so common for many creative women. Man, I use the term creative loosely. Maybe I should just say women who have lives before becoming moms. They have passions. They have interests. What was your experience when you became a mom? And maybe not a mom of one or even two, but maybe three? And somehow, I think...well you tell us. What happened to you?
Well, you know, it's funny, I was pregnant with my first, and I was really working on this book about World War Two survivors from the former Soviet Union, and I even, when I was five months pregnant, went to Ukraine to interview World War Two survivors and I had this book contract that I was working under. And then when I got back, that fell through and so I had this baby and I think there was a part of me that thought, oh no, I didn't get this book done before the baby was born. And now I've missed my chance. And I was doing some, like, freelance editing and stuff on the side, but at that point, like, blogs were still, like, they were just brand new. I was hearing about them, but I didn't really get what they were.
And I did, I just started to feel lost. And then I quickly had a second child, and then we had a third child. And when my oldest was about five, I actually flew out to see you in California. And I remember sitting on your couch and I just broke down and started crying, because I was so tired, and I just felt very overwhelmed with motherhood. And you know, I had three very young children. And I didn't know who I was at that point, and I was really struggling and that was sort of the beginning of this journey of discovering what it looks like to sort of fit these creative passions of who we are back into our day to day lives as moms and mothers. and shortly after that, I started my blog and started writing more. But that was really sort of this, like, genesis of, there was a person that was me before these babies were born. And she's still in there and I think that I thought I had to just suppress her because that part of my life was over cause I didn't do it before kids. And that wasn't necessarily the case. I just needed to learn a new way to fit the creativity in now that I had children. And now I have five children and I'm still doing it too.
My oldest is almost 18, and I'm still figuring out how I fit those creative parts of me in. Now that I know they're there and I'm not ignoring them, I'm in a much healthier emotional place.
Right. Let me mention that Kelly and I ended up, this is a bit later in our story, but we ended up writing a book together called Life Creative. And the subtitle is Inspiration for Today's Renaissance Mom. And I think it was actually during the writing, not before the writing, but during it, that I came to understand that it wasn't a matter of what we do, but who we are. And so it's not just that what I love to do doesn't fit in the season of motherhood. It's, I'm not sure I'm alive and well in this season.
Now, I know I love my family. I know I love serving them. I know that I'm called to educate them at home. I know, I know, I know. But somehow, we started using this term, the dark ages. It can feel like personally, you enter into a season of the dark ages, which we were already planning on referring to this book as Renaissance Mom or that would be somewhere in the subtitle and I loved that we came to this term, the dark ages before we realized how the dark ages actually preceded the Renaissance.
Now, many of you are listening, you have studied the story of the world with your kids, and you know your history. But it's so beautiful to me that it just speaks to the hope of what seasons do come as it's not quite so overwhelming with young children. But in the meantime, in the meantime, how do we start acknowledging our role and the importance of who we are in the family, within this season? It's not, if Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy. It's not even, how do I fit in the writing or how do I fit in going to church to be part of the worship team. Though we might talk about those things, it's how I prioritize that I'm a character in the story of our family as completely as my children and my husband are?
And that was really when we set out to write Life Creative, I don't think I recognized how important just valuing the way God designed me was.
Yeah, I think it's really important to understand how God designed us. And, you know, I mean, you and I both have, in different ways and on and off educated our children at home, which adds a whole other layer of fitting "yourself" in, right? But knowing, like my, I think for one thing that really helped me is just sitting down and even talking with my husband about it and just letting him know, like, I, it's not, like you said, it's not that I just, I love, or I enjoy telling stories. It's that I genuinely feel like the Lord created me to be a storyteller, and there's a part of that that comes out in motherhood when I'm teaching my kids and when we're reading a book and I can read the book in different voices and I can bring the story alive to them in a certain way. Like, that's certainly something that is life-giving to me.
But, when I'm writing, I feel like I can feel the Lord's favor. And I know that that's who God created me to be, and I think once I figure that out for myself, and then I shared that with my husband, and he got on board with that, he recognizes now, like, when I say, hey, I really need to get away on a Saturday morning. Or maybe I need to take a Friday night and, you know, go spend the night at my parent's house. Or get a hotel or something. And just have 24 hours away to tap into that part of who God created me to be. He recognizes that when I come back, I am able to dive right back into motherhood with so much more energy. Not that I was resenting it before, but there's just something that's like you get a little deep breath of oxygen and then you get to come back, and you get to start doin' that mommy thing again with excellence.
Yes. I totally agree. One of the things that has helped me the most over recent years is to do what you're saying, which is to invite my husband into this area of my life, and it helps me to remember that he fell in love with me, and he married me because he was attracted to me and my zest for life and my passion of the creative. I used to sneak away in the midst of these long days with very little kids if I wanted to do something like write or even post a clever picture or caption to Facebook. I felt like I was maybe skirting my responsibilities. That I had to hide anything I wanted to do beyond taking care of people. But those responsibilities, as you know, they're constant.
But when I remembered that Matt loves who I am and he wants to encourage and support me, that was when I dared to invite him into my challenges. Which is what I hear you saying. But it's important that I had to find time and I had to find ways to communicate my needs and my desires so that they didn't flow out of my mouth and find, you know, find a target in his heart when I was feeling bitter. Because there are moments of exhaustion, exasperation.
For example, when I've been with children all day and he, these are air quotes, "waltzes in from work" having stopped on the whim to get his haircut. And I'm worn out and I haven't had a haircut in eighteen months. That's not the time to communicate my needs, whether it's those basic needs or my need for space to enjoy some of my own interests.
So, that was when I started purposefully and intentionally looking for times to communicate, one on one with him about things that I miss. I miss doing the projects I've committed to that I can't find the time and the space for. And then I learned to ask him to help me, to come up with a plan, rather than it being me against him. He has time in his life to have, you know, go out with a guy friend for lunch in the middle of his business day. But I can't even fit in, you know, a walk around the block. But when I remembered that he loved that I loved taking walks, and I know that he's good at coming up with solutions, then I got to invite him into helping fit me, not just my interests, but me, back into motherhood and back into this family life.
Well, and I think it's also good, especially as kids grow older, to invite our kids into that process too. So, you know, I have three teenagers, and then I have two six-year old's, but now, like my three older kids, they get it. Number one, they've seen, and they've celebrated with me the accomplishments of the books. And you know, it doesn't have to be anything big, like a book or whatever, but even, you know, if you love, like you said, taking a walk. Or you love drawing or painting or rearranging your home or decorating. Any of these things are creative outlets. If you love cooking or being in the kitchen, allowing your kids to see how much you love this, and what joy it brings you to dive into this, as they get older, then, not only do they appreciate it, but I think it also gives them an opportunity to see where am I finding joy and passion like grandma. Where am I gifted? And where should I pour my energy?
And we talk a lot about that with my kids, especially the older ones, the Lord has created each of you with different skills and talents and, you know, the Lord has created me with these things, and I had to work really, really hard to see some of this success. To see these accomplishments. And you're gonna have to work really, really hard. Like you can't just coast by on natural talent or think something's gonna fall in your lap, and.
So, I think, even just for kids to see their moms, cause they see their dad's working hard often. But to see mom working hard for something that she loves and finding joy in it is really impactful for kids. And it's important.
Yeah, I agree with you. One of the Scriptures that we share in Life Creative is Psalm 139 and honestly, I was looking through it again this morning. And I just love the whole thing. I mean the joy of knowing that God knit me, ME, and know that He knit them together, inside of my belly, it's awesome, and I celebrate that, and I quote that so often. But, in Psalm 139, verses thirteen and fourteen, it's actually written by King David about himself. And you know, King David, as the king over Israel, is sort of like the Father, right? Over Israel. But he's not saying, he's not praising God because God did such a great job in how He made the children. He's talking about himself. He said you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful. I know that full well.
And I think that as moms, we can be really good at praising God for the good work that He did in creating our children. But it takes slowing down, sitting down, and maybe even jotting down some things that are special about us. That we haven't had the space to delight in for a while and then again, when you're not in an exasperated, bitter moment, presenting that to your husband. Say, I really like these things about how God made me. I miss being part of the worship team at church. I miss having dinner parties. Remember how much we enjoyed that when we would use the china from our, and the crystal, from our wedding? And I would like to maybe four times this year, throw a dinner party. Maybe one of them can be with the kids and another family. But let's choose two or three other couples that we've just missed spending time with, because, while this is a different conversation, it's the same conversation. What things don't fit that are life-giving to you? And remind your spouse about those things and ask him to come up with creative ways for you to enjoy those things again.
Yeah, especially when you are educating children at home. And so, so much more of your time is being spent pouring into your children. In a wonderful way, that is also in its own way very life-giving. And freeing, and empowering, and just a gift from the Lord. But, when you're all in with your kids all the time, and I do think that as women in general and as moms, we tend to place ourselves on the back burner because we feel like that's the way it has to be. And while there's certainly, definitely things that we give up, and we give up willingly, and even, maybe not always joyfully, but we do it. Because we believe that this is what God has called us to do. We are passionate about it. I don't think that the Lord really, and, Wendy, I remember you talking a lot about this when we were writing Life Creative. I think you even wrote it in the book. But the Lord didn't ask us to sacrifice all of ourselves. That's not what He asked us to do. He wants our hearts, and He wants our lives. We're to give all of ourselves to Him. But we don't have to sacrifice ourselves on the altar of motherhood. That's not what we were called to do. We were called to lay ourselves down at the feet of Christ. And how can He use us? And He's created us in a lot of different ways, and so.
It doesn't look perfect. It doesn't always look beautiful. My house is not, well, it's not clean at all right now. But it's not always very clean. You know, sometimes, I do a really, really good job of getting through those lessons with my daughter, and sometimes we don't get through as much as I would like to. Sometimes I get a lot of work done in a week, and sometimes I get very little done in a week. It ebbs and flows and it's certainly not perfect, but I do feel like when I'm able to find ways to pull in all these different pieces, all these different things that even the Lord has laid before me, I do feel His favor.
I love that. I know that you watched the film, Chariots of Fire. It's my husband's favorite. and there is a scene in it, you know, Eric Little comes from a missionary family and he does feel called to be a missionary in China. And he gets some pressure from his sister, saying, you need to stop pursuing running. He ended up as a very famous Olympic runner from Scotland. And she said you need to stop this. God has called you to be a missionary to China. And he said, ‘I know that I was made for China. But when I run, I feel His pleasure’. And that's what I, you've been using the word favor. You just, you feel His Touch upon you. And I've had that experience as well.
You know, this may sound like it's a totally different topic, but I remember, I was speaking at the Great Homeschool Conventions about five years ago and I was doing, giving a talk, based on this idea of how do we fit mom back into this season of motherhood, especially as a homeschool mom. And one of the things that, I was just asking questions, asking them to jot down some things to just get going, creatively in their mind, what are the things that I enjoy doing that I don't have time for anymore? And one of the questions that I asked near the beginning was, what kind of music do you enjoy. And it was like, absolutely quiet. And one woman yelled out Kidz Bop. And another person yelled out Veggie Tales. And we all laughed, but the reality is, we can forget.
And so, I guess, one of the main take-aways that Kelly and I hope that you walk away with is, we wanna invite you to remember. When God knit you together, fearfully and wonderfully, what are some of the unique things about you that He delighted in creating you with? Do you love walking? Do you love singing? Do you love baking? Do you love decorating? What are the things that might not fit comfortably into your life? I would even recommend, right now, you just jot down a thing or two. Remind yourself what kind of books you like to read and things you enjoyed doing with your husband before you had children, or with a friend.
Kelly mentioned that we would get together. We would meet up at the Starbucks in Barnes and Noble near us. Like in between our two houses, and we would each get a cup of tea, of course, and we would get a maple scone from Starbucks, and we would cut it in half and share it. And we would just...
We were such nerds.
I know. I know, it's wonderful. Well, we're doing it right now. We're just, you know, we bought a really big pot of tea together, so I hope that some of you are pulling up a seat and enjoying this conversation with us.
But I just wanna encourage you to remember that with the same love and care that He knit together your children, and created them in such unique ways, He took that same care and did that same marvelous job when He created you. And I just want you to hear Kelly and I both say that we think God did a really good job when He made you. And we hope that you can, in some quiet moments in the next few days, come up with a plan to fit you back into motherhood. And I wanna go to the next step. Kelly already alluded to this and said, it's going to be a blessing to your kids to have more of you enjoying you than you giving up you to pour into them. It does pour into them when they see that you have a healthy life. Physically healthy, fitting in time to get that haircut and go to the doctor and make sure you're picking up your vitamins. Spiritually healthy, that you make the time to go to the Bible study at church. That you sign up for the women's retreat. That you open the Word in the morning, rather than just track their Bible study for the day. Because we think God did a really good job when He made you. And we're happy that you got to be part of making them too.
But we're just here to encourage you today. Do you have a last bit of encouragement, Kelly, for these ladies?
Well, I think you summed it up really well. I just think that it's so good to just take that, like Wendy said, take that quiet space and just give yourself a few minutes and remember who you were before babies came into the picture. And that person is still there, and that person will still be there when those babies leave the nest. And you know, nourish her too, because it will bless you. It will bless the Lord. It will bless your children. So, nourish that part of who God knit you together as just an act of praise to Him.
One of the other themes in Life Creative is that so often, the great commission starts in our home and it works its way out into the world, right? Do you remember that we were told that it starts in Judaea, or it starts in Jerusalem, and then it flows out to Judaea and Samaria, and then from there, out into the world? And I think of that as our creativity, even at home, it starts right there in our home. Then maybe it goes to serving at the church, helping prepare some of the fun crafts for the kids in the Sunday school class. Or hosting a co-op for your kid's friends on poetry or whatever your interest is. It starts at home. It flows out from there. And it can even go beyond that into the world.
I just wanna encourage you that who you were made to be, God made you for good works. And sometimes those good works are works of art. Sometimes it's just an availability to people through what your interests are, and so, it's not just for your own benefit that we're looking for. It's for the benefit of your family and your neighbors. Your local community, and the world at large, because God wasn't remiss when He made you unique and then gave you a family and called you to lay down your life. Yes, it doesn't all fit comfortably, and there is a very large element of sacrifice. But it's not just for your benefit that He wants you to tap into your unique design, your uniqueness in His image design, even. It's for the benefit of your loved ones right where you are, and even the world at large. Because there's Gospel power in your creativity and your interests.
So, Kelly, would you pray for our listeners today?
Absolutely. Lord, we just thank You for each listener here, Lord, who, Lord, loves You and loves her children, Father, and just, I pray for her children as she is praying with us, Lord. And Lord, I thank You that You knit each one of us with such a unique purpose, Lord. You knit us to be the mothers to the children inside our homes and You gave us the specific children with their specific needs to refine us, to use us, to refine them, Lord, to bring You glory, and we thank you for that, Lord. And I thank You that You've also knit and created each one of us as unique and creative and intelligent and strong women, Lord. And I pray that we would not lose ourselves in motherhood. That we would not sacrifice so much of who You created us to be because we feel like we have to, Lord. And so, Lord, I just pray for the woman who feels like she's a little bit lost, who may be struggling, who may have forgotten who she was before the kids. And Lord, I pray that You would just recall to her mind, Lord, something that she once loved. And help her to find ways to fit that into maybe even just the cracks of her day, Lord. It doesn't have to be much, Lord, to give us that energy and that zest. And so, Lord, we thank You that You have created each one of us uniquely, and we lay those things down before You and we praise You for them. It's in Your Name we pray. Amen.
Amen. Well, if you would consider yourself creative and perhaps that means you've been toying with the idea of having a little side hustle. You enjoy sewing. You enjoy knitting. Maybe you enjoy macrame. You've put together fun ways to hold your oils, your essential oils, and you've considered even starting an Etsy site, or maybe doing some farmer's markets and bringing your kids to pull the little red wagon carrying all of your supplies. Or maybe it's serving at church or bringing out the clarinet you used to play. We would love to invite you to grab a copy of Life Creative. Inspiration for today's Renaissance Mom. It's really easy to find on Amazon. And the link to that book, along with the novels that Kelly has written, A Silver Willow by the Shore, and Like a River from Its Course. You can find direct links on the landing page for this website. And we pray that this conversation was a blessing to you, and we were so happy to have it with one another and with you. Have a great day.
Thank you for joining us this week on the Homeschool Solution Show. As always, you can find show notes and links to all the resources mentioned at homeschooling.mom. I hope you'll take a moment to subscribe to the podcast, and, if it was especially meaningful to you, share it with your friends via email or social media. This is just another way we can all encourage and love and support one another.
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