No Mom Left Behind: The Baby and Toddler Years with Julia Shirey.

Last September we asked several incredible friends to guest blog at Bare Feet and Curls for our series on marriage. They quickly became some of our most read posts of the year. We wanted to do something similar for 2020 by bringing in our “experts” to talk with you about the different stages of mommyhood. 

From that moment you find out your pregnant to the joy that comes with helping raise grandchildren – every stage of mothering has its unique set of blessings and challenges. In October of 2018 Julia Shirey walked into our home and I experienced love at first sight. She is one of the cutest, most compassionate mamas I know. Please give a warm welcome to this sweet and beautiful friend as she kicks off our No Mom Left Behind series by talking about what her life is like with a toddler son and a newborn soon to come.

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My name is Julia Shirey and I am a fellow mama living in Rochester, New York. I was born and raised in Florida, which can make my story to how we came all the way up the east coast a little more interesting. I have been happily married for a little over three years to my wonderful husband, John. I am an all boy mama (currently) to two sweet little men. My oldest, David, will be two in April. My youngest, Judah, is still cooking in the oven. He is due in March and we are counting down the days.

My husband is one of the worship directors at our church, Northridge. So you can stamp ministry wife on my name as well! I work part time from home for Northridge as the Youth Administrative Assistant, but mostly work full time as a mom of an active toddler. It is a joy to be a stay at home mom and never miss a beat of this short, short time in my little guy’s life. Other than being a mom, I love thrifting, fixing up old furniture, and snapping photos of everything around me. I’m loving the season my family and I are in, even on the crazy not-so-perfect days! 

How do you balance life in your home?

Trying to balance life as a new wife and young mom can be a challenge at times, as I am very much still in the learning stages of both of those roles. I try to remember that this stage of life is chaotic but this time is precious and it only gets crazier from here! We seem to always have a packed full schedule between work, volunteering with youth, community groups, and other family events. I have found a love for being organized and a gratitude in a flexible toddler.

I, also, have had to strongly work and learn how to say, “No.” I easily will fill my schedule to the brim and wonder why I feel like I am drowning. I love people and being a social butterfly but at times it can make other parts of my life fall into the cracks if I am not careful. Learning how to prioritize family time and specific calendar events has made me feel more in the moment at the events I say “Yes” to.

What makes your home a loving and safe environment?

I love this question because this is something my husband and I strive to do on a daily basis. My college degree is in social work so the word “safe” automatically strikes a million different topics in my mind. But as a Christian, the word “safe” means raising my children in an atmosphere where they know they are loved and will always be pointed towards Christ. My son is still too young to understand the full grasp of being honest and at times just being kind (he’s a work in progress), but even from this age both my husband and I seek to admit when we are wrong whether it is with each other, others we are with, or David. Modeling to him how to be real and seek forgiveness when we are wrong is our goal in instilling strong character and integrity into our home.

How do you grow your spiritual life as a mom? 

Finding daily time to grow spiritually in this stage of my life is something I have to continually stay disciplined in. I seek accountability and encouragement from others to help press on me to dive deeper into the Word and in my relationship with Jesus. Finding time to breath is difficult… let alone finding fifteen or more uninterrupted minutes to plant my eyes on the pages of the Bible. I understand the value in that relationship and feel the difference that consistent daily time has on my life. My daily time might look different each day, but I press hard to continue to keep it apart of my everyday life.

Some days are listening to a recommended podcast in the background while cooking dinner. Others are blasting worship music in the car on the way to and from getting groceries. Most days it means getting up before the little dude or setting aside time during his nap to dive into a devotional with a coffee cup in hand. Everyday is a little different but each moment spent with Jesus is rejuvenating in itself.

As far as resources go, I just finished “It’s Not Suppose to be This Way” by Lisa Terkeurst and alls I can say is “Wow”. That book has so many simple truths restated as unbelievable bombs. Hearing her story and how she walked faithfully alongside Christ through it all was empowering in my own life. I highly recommend it! The next book I am jumping into is “Bringing Up Boys” by Dr. James Dobson. Even though I have not started it, I have heard nothing but amazing reviews. It has been recommended to me by so many other fellow boy moms because it offers encouragement and sensible advice in the season we are in of raising boys.

What does serving the church look like for your family?

As I mentioned before, my husband is one of the worship directors at our church, Northridge. Many people believe the lie that pastors and those who work in the church only work one day a week, however it is so far from the truth. He works five to six days a week to contribute to the organic and uplifting atmosphere that flows from the stage. Being a ministry family means that serving the church often includes sacrificing family time to pour into the others around us. It means long Sundays, little sleep, and giving a lot of yourself to others. And finally, for us, it means being states away from family in order to continually be used where God has called us. We love the church we serve, the people we work with, and where the Lord has us. I would be lying if I said it was easy, but being where we are called is far greater than any other plan I would have for our lives.

Serving the church for us may look a little different than someone who does not work in a church. However, we still burn and thrive with the same passion volunteers and leaders in the church serve with. Each individual plays such a vital role whether on Sunday or throughout the week that brings light to the city and our community.

Along with helping with Kids ministry on Sundays, my husband and I have the amazing opportunity to invest in the lives of the youth at our church. We are both leaders of an eleventh grade small group. I have always served with younger kids so working with teens was a challenge I was skeptical and excited to take on. I walked into the role as a small group leader not knowing where to even start or how to fully serve each of my girls. What I didn’t realize is that they would bring so much joy and untapped passion to my life. I love meeting them where they are at in life and with their spiritual journey. I love hearing their goofy stories that I not-so-long ago was experiencing as well, knowing in just a few years they will look back and laugh… just as I have. I love being a voice of reason in their life that points them to Jesus and encourages growth. Serving the youth has been a challenge I did not know I was going to love but I am so glad I found it when I did.

What words of advice or encouragement do you have for mothers who are in the same stage of life as you?

I have the privilege of having four nieces and nephews. Beginning to watch them grow before I had kids of my own was so enriching in my life. I was able to see just how fast it truly goes. I cannot believe with every blink, they are a little older. I take that knowledge and apply it to my own life. I always tell my husband, “He (David) will only be ‘today day’s old’ once.” It goes so fast, soak it in. The long hard days are worth it.

My advice besides clinging to Jesus and His word, would be to never walk this life alone. For me, my spiritual life, ministry life, wife life, mom life, and just everyday life flourish far greater when I have a team running along side me and cheering me on. I would never make it without leaning close to Jesus and holding on tight to those He has graced my life with.

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