About Rita Clucas

I am an incredibly blessed wife of Jon and mother to four--Kieran, Kaila, Samara, and Avielle. Together we strive to love better. I have a passion for families and especially for the mamas raising them and I love to encourage them in any way I can, be it writing, speaking, or a smile along the way. Join me will you?

A Tribute To The Dads–Because You Just Do Some Things Better

thumb_IMG_4979_1024There are some things a Daddy can do like no one else. It used to annoy me that I would do exactly what Jon did only to get a much less enthusiastic response. I remember especially the devastating moment when Kieran, at five years old, excitedly announced, “Daddy just taught me to ride a bike!”

Never mind that I had spent five days in a row running breathlessly down the street hanging on to him. Never mind that I cried more than he did when he fell off and scraped his knee. None of that counted five minutes after Jon went off with him, gave him a shove on his new bike and called out, “Now pedal!” Daddy did in minutes what I could not in nearly a week of dashed hopes and tears.

Over the years, Jon has stopped doing some of these things because the kids have grown too big. Others he still does no matter how big they are or how much they think they don’t need them anymore.

Some Things Daddy Just Does Better (I’m not saying we moms can’t do them, but in our house, Dad just has a special knack):

  • Give pony rides that rival a circus event.
  • Carry toddlers on his shoulders for hours to give them a better view.
Daddy and Avielle

Daddy and Avielle

Daddy and Samara

Daddy and Samara

 

  • Dance with his girls standing on his toes.

 

 

 

 

 

Kaila no longer needs to stand on her daddy's toes, but sometimes still does.

Kaila no longer needs to stand on her daddy’s toes, but sometimes still does anyway.

  • Give the biggest, best bear hugs.
  • Watch the same Disney movie over and over and over again.
  • Tell jokes that make his kids laugh out loud.
  • Come home to a chaotic mess and bring it peace.
  • Make his daughters feel like they are the most special girls in the world with just one look.
  • Be ridiculously goofy no matter who’s watching.thumb_IMG_5061_1024thumb_IMG_6751_1024
  • Empower his son to treat all women with dignity and respect by seeing how Dad treats Mom.
  • Teach his daughters what to look for in a man.
  • Turn boys into men.
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    Jon and Kieran (at 5).

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    Jon and Kieran (at 20).

  • Make his daughters feel beautiful, and loved, and treasured.
  • Pass on an appreciation and respect for heritage.

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    Commercial fishing in Alaska.

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  • Make all of them feel safe in the worst of storms.
  • Teach his children that nothing is more important than them–no job promotion, no amount of money, no “stuff”.
  • Release them to become all they can be and encourage Mom to do the same–who otherwise might clutch them for dear life (of course, not yours truly ;)).

To those without a daddy like this here on earth, I believe you have One in Heaven who assures you that you are the “apple of His eye” (Zechariah 2:8) and that “He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17)

To my children’s daddy, thank you for doing so many things better than I can.P1020532

To my own Daddy, thank you for showing me how to find someone like you. You will always be my greatest hero.

My Daddy

My Daddy

And to all dads, ones who have it good and ones who are struggling, thank you for trying to do what only you can. You are the most incredible man in your children’s lives, whether they say it or not. You may feel under-appreciated, but you are always needed.

Happy Fathers Day Every Day!

(This post was pulled from the archives and updated. See original article from June 2014.)

 

How To Tame Your To-Do List and Take Back Your Time

Family Photo copyIt stares at me. From its place on my side table, my to-do list takes on a life of its own and demands I do this and do that, go here and go there as it whips me into a frenetic pace that drains me. Until I decide who’s really in charge, it becomes a relentless dictator that drives my life and my choices. And unfortunately even my joy.

Whether or not you make a written to-do list or carry one in your head, I’m sure you have days or weeks that it gets out of control and begins dictating your time instead of the other way around.

In itself, my to-do list can be liberating. But when I fail to rule what goes on it, it becomes a taskmaster that demands too much, rewards little, and keeps me chained to the insignificant. I find myself racing from one thing to another instead of doing what I truly love and making an impact in what matters most to me. 

The Word says, “Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:10).

Life is short. If we establish our priorities as we talked about in 3 Steps to Putting First Things First, then we must also ensure that the snatch of time we have each day lines up with those priorities. If we do, one day we will look back on these moments with satisfaction instead of longing for what could have been.

So how can we tame our to-do list and experience the joy of doing what we love and pursuing what we were created for?

1—Protect the important things by putting them on the calendar first. Is it a date with your husband? A game night with the kids? Time to exercise, or work on that book you have inside you? If it’s really a priority, then your calendar should reflect it and your to-do list should include it.

2—Eliminate everything that doesn’t line up with your priorities. Is a birthday party of a friend’s friend really something you should allot time for simply because you ran into her at the mall and she extended the invitation? Will that really move you closer to where you want to be or will it rob you of time you could be spending more wisely?

3—Keep it short and be realistic. We all have a million things to do, but we can’t do a million things. Effective people know they can do perhaps 5 things and they can do those 5 things well.

There are days I actually believe I can enthusiastically homeschool my children, pay the bills, organize my closets, finally sift through my emails, make business calls for my husband, whip up a gourmet dinner, get 4 loads of laundry finished, and still have the energy to be the perky little wife my husband would love me to be by lights out.

Instead, the fact is, I impatiently hurry the kids through lessons, pay the wrong amount to the electric company (really!), throw a few things out of my closet and plan to get back to it later, press “Delete All” on my emails (except yours of course 🙂 ), get annoyed with the customer who asks me the same question 4 different ways, order pizza, wash some underwear, and collapse into bed unshowered. Busy, yes, but hardly the outcome I wanted.

4—Give yourself permission to say, “No.” If this is hard for you, then practice saying, “Can I let you know tomorrow?” Then consider if the request is really something that lines up with your priorities. If not, craft a kind response and move on. I usually say, “I’m sorry. I appreciate the offer, but I have to honor the commitments I’ve already made.” You cannot make everyone happy, and you are not responsible for trying.

5—Have grace. You’ll get off track. You’ll get irritated at the unsuspecting cable guy who showed up 30 minutes late (and they always do) because your day is now behind schedule, you’ll glare at your husband when he asks if he has clean jeans and say, “Why doesn’t ANYONE else EVER do ANYTHING around here?!” (Of course that’s hypothetical since I’ve never done that). It’s okay. Claim a do-over, a pray-over, and then start over.

So, when you find yourself feeling like there’s no way to get everything done, you’re probably right. It’s a good way to know you need to dial back the insanity of busyness and be more intentional. So, take a deep breath, determine what is really important–what you hope your children will remember about you in 20 years, tame your to-do list and take back your time.

What would taming your to-do list leave you time for today? I’d love for you to leave me a comment telling me what your perfect day looks like.

 

 

 

When My Heart Is Overwhelmed

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This is a beautiful story of faith in spite of great loss. Katrina Workman has great experience and wonderful insight in learning to trust God in the longing, the waiting, and the loss of a child through miscarriage. I hope you’re encouraged by her words..

“When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I” (Psalm 61:2)

Being all too familiar with pregnancy loss, a friend recently asked what I thought was more challenging in my faith walk, struggling with trying to conceive again, or dealing with the anxiety of being pregnant again after suffering a loss.

I have been on both sides of this emotional see-saw, and I think they are equally challenging.

After our first baby died at 23 weeks gestation, it took me almost a year to get pregnant again. It was a tremendous struggle emotionally and spiritually. Every month spent waiting to see if I would get my period was so stressful. I would obsess over my ovulation timing and keep charts to track the “best” days to get pregnant.

I prayed fervently, “Lord, please, please, PLEASE just let me be pregnant again!” Then, although I kicked myself for it, I would get cranky at all the people on Facebook announcing pregnancies and births.

Finally, at the end of that long year and another disappointing “Negative” on the pregnancy test, I had an epiphany: I was asking God for what I wanted, instead of trusting Him to give me what He knew I needed in His perfect timing. Of course, I knew this all along but until that moment, I didn’t truly accept it with my heart.

Once I had that realization, it was like a huge load had been lifted off my shoulders and I just said, “OK, God, I’m along for the ride, whatever it is, wherever it might lead.” And then, one week later, despite a negative test and no way medically I should have been, I was pregnant.

But once that initial excitement has a few moments to sink in, so does the anxiety! Once you have lost a baby to miscarriage or stillbirth, being pregnant can be terrifying even though it’s joyful. You can never really relax. Every appointment, every wave of the Doppler wand, every second spent waiting to hear the baby’s heartbeat was like a pop quiz of my faith. My heart would stop for a half-second while I waited to hear those reassuring thumps.

But that, again, was an opportunity for God to strengthen my faith. It really was like falling off a tightrope and trusting that God has put a net below you.

During those long 9 months of waiting (OK, who are we kidding, it’s really 10 months), I learned to rely on faith and fellowship and it became my sustenance:

  • I would group-chat on Facebook Messenger with some of my close girlfriends who are believers and they would send me verses and encouragement.
  • I leaned on the support and love of the older women in my ladies’ group at church (most of whom were moms and many of whom had also suffered pregnancy loss in their lifetimes).
  • Before every checkup, I sang praise songs loudly in my car and in my head in the waiting room (and sometimes out loud there too!).
  • I read a devotional book for pregnant mothers to help me stay in the Word. Reading about God’s promises to others reminded me that I wasn’t alone.

The entire pregnancy was a reminder of how I’m not really in control of any of it. In the end, I experienced the sweet relief of having a healthy son placed in my arms, and I will never stop being thankful, especially because I know not everyone gets that result.

Unfortunately, going through one loss doesn’t make you immune to more. We suffered an early miscarriage this past fall and another, later miscarriage just last month. In some ways those were more challenging than our first loss, because when you walk through a fire like that once, you feel like you’ve paid your dues…until you remember your not the only one. The Bible is full of people who were tested over and over again!

Think about Joseph being thrown into the pit by his brothers. He never saw it coming and often the same is true for us. Terrible things can happen with no warning. Joseph’s story got worse before it got better as he continued to have unexpected and undeserved challenges. But he never gave up and never lost his faith.

We too need a solid foundation to hold us steady in the midst of all the twists and turns and anxieties that life and motherhood and womanhood throw at us. God is that foundation. Just as Jesus calmed the storm in the Sea of Galilee, God calms the storms in each of our lives.

“Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress. He still the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed.” (Psalm 107:28-29)

So just weeks ago, I was managing the anxiety that came hand-in-hand with being pregnant after suffering prior losses. Now, I find myself on the other side of the equation again–grieving our miscarriage and confronted with the questions about whether and when I will become pregnant. And holding my breath again.

But then I remember: It’s out of my hands. And whose better hands to be in than God’s?

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in Me. Here on earth you will have many trials & sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

 

 

 

Prayers For Mothers

prayer-1308663_1280PRAYERS FOR MOTHERS

by Chris Ann Waters

For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb.

Psalm 139:14

Lord Jesus, we pray for mothers who chase curious toddlers around backyards, grocery stores, and hide-in-seek spots.

Lord Jesus, we pray for mothers who sit at the side of sons and daughters in hospitals, chemotherapy treatments, dentist chairs, and psychiatry sessions.

Lord Jesus, we pray for mothers who juggle peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, soccer schedules, laptop computers, and laptop bedtime stories.

Lord Jesus, we pray for the mothers who pray for their prodigal sons and daughters.

Lord Jesus, we pray for mothers with children who cannot find their homework.

Lord Jesus, we pray for mothers who cannot find their children.

Lord Jesus, we pray for mothers in the military who skype their children to bed.

Lord Jesus, we pray for mothers with sons and daughters in the military who do not have a bed.

Lord Jesus, we pray for the mothers who raise children to pray, read, laugh, and walk the dog.

Lord Jesus, we pray for the mothers-to-be who want to raise children.

Lord Jesus, we pray for mothers who hide their children in dark places for fear of capture.

Lord Jesus, we pray for mothers who run on the beach with their children in freedom.

Lord Jesus, we pray for mothers who have aborted children for reasons You know and ask You to be close to them.

Lord Jesus, we pray for mothers who grieve the loss of a child to death, disagreement or disillusionment.

Lord Jesus, we pray for mothers in their December season with bodies stiller now.

Lord Jesus, we pray for mothers who are ill in body, mind or spirit.

Lord Jesus, we pray for mothers who have mothered and have returned Home to You.

Lord Jesus, we pray for children of every age who have no mother.

Lord Jesus, we pray for children of every age who have a mother.

Lord Jesus, Thank You for answering prayers as only You can.  By faith, we anticipate Your loving answers.  In Thy Name, Lord Jesus, Amen.

10 Truths For Moms

With Mother’s Day around the corner, I thought I’d write a few truths we moms often forget. I pray you are encouraged and reminded that there is no one like you, you are enough, and that despite the hard places along the journey, you are an irreplaceable part of God’s design for your family.

1—There is no one who can parent your child better than you.

Your kids don’t need a perfect mom; they need a real mom. Or in my 9-year-old daughter’s words:FullSizeRender

Comparing yourself to others is a defeating trap—No one has it all together no matter how it may seem. Learn from other moms who do something well, but don’t think they could do a better job with your children than you can. God makes no mistakes and He gave your children the best mom ever.

2—You cannot assume all the credit for your child’s success or all the guilt for their failure.

God was a perfect parent raising His children in a perfect environment and Adam and Eve were still rebellious. A fallen world and free will guarantees there will be poor decisions that are made. We can do our best to sow in God’s word, water it in your children’s hearts, diligently pluck out the weeds that spring up, and then trust God for the outcome.

3—Great lovers make great parents.

Keep your spouse in his rightful first place and everyone thrives. This doesn’t mean you can ignore the urgent things of being a mom, but you can’t let them replace the more important things of being a wife. Give your children the gift of a mom who loves their dad even more than them. My parents modeled this well and it gave me greater security than anything else in the world. During the most turbulent years of my life, the fact that nothing I did could shake their love for one another held me steady and saw me through.

4—Your beauty is not measured by the scale or the latest fashions, but by the kindness and love you display.

Your children will likely never tell their own children one day how much they liked your hair. However, they will tell them about how you stopped what you were doing and looked them in the eye when they had a story to tell. They will recount how you used to lay in bed with them and whisper about the day.

1 Peter 3:3-4 (ESV) reminds us, “ Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear, but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” While I’m not recommending that we pay no attention to our outward appearance, I do think we must be sure it takes a backseat to the issues of the heart.

5—Raising holy children is more important than raising happy children.

The first will lead to the last, but the last will not lead to the first. There are more gadgets and opportunities today than ever to eat up our time and our attention, and your children will convince you that they need them all in order to be happy. Don’t buy it (literally)!

Happiness cannot be achieved with more things or more activities. Remember that true joy can only be found in serving God and serving others. That won’t happen miraculously when they are adults if you have not purposed to lay the foundation now. Teaching them to Invest in eternal rewards and in people will always reap a greater blessing than investing in more stuff.

6—Self-care is not selfish.

Properly caring for your body means you can more properly care for your family. A mama is supposed to be like fresh water pouring into her family, but she can’t do that from a dry well. This doesn’t mean a daily spending spree at the mall or weekly spa treatments. It means taking the time to nurture and care for your own heart, mind, and body. Eating well, getting adequate sleep and exercise, and spending time in activities that rejuvenate you are vital for both you and your family.

7—You cannot do it all and that’s okay.

The laundry will never be done, the floors will always need to be vacuumed. This is not a reflection on your parenting. Productiveness as a mom cannot be measured by a to-do list but by the silent unseen sacrifices for the sake of those you love.

When you are feeling like what you do doesn’t matter, remember this from Andy Stanley:

“You greatest contribution to the kingdom of God may not be something you do but someone you raise.”13166076_10209419439273723_1325231446447934723_n

8—You are not invisible.

God sees you and all your sacrifices even if it seems no one else does. Those rainy day snuggles with the same book, the 1000th peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and the umpteenth time you’ve kissed an imaginary boo-boo will reap a harvest one day.

All those ordinary moments that seem so insignificant will one day string together to make an extraordinary life.

9—Prayer fixes a multitude of sins.

The word says, “Love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8). It is God’s love for us that prompts Him to hear our prayers and move on our behalf. Are you blowing it? He knows, and He’s not moved to condemnation but compassion. Ask Him to fill in the gaps and cover all your sins and He will be faithful to do it.

What is it you’re in need of? Do you need wisdom? Ask Him and He promises to give it “liberally and without reproach” (James 1:5). Are you scared for a wayward child? Ask Him to protect your child and to give you a “word fitly spoken” (Proverbs 25:11) when the opportunity arises. Pray for and over your children believing that we do not have because we do not ask (James 4:2).

10—It’s never too late!

No matter where you are in the process, so long as there is a breath to be taken, God is at work. If your family has fallen apart and in need of repair, I have good news for you: Every family is a fixer-up family and God is in the construction and remodeling industry. There is no problem so big that God cannot solve it.

His redemptive work on the cross stretched behind and ahead, so we should expect no less from Him in our families. What has fallen into decay, given to Him, He can rebuild. What Satan has robbed, He can restore. What we have torn down, He can redeem. He is the great rebuilder, restorer, redeemer, and He waits for us to hand him the ashes of our lives so that he can give us beauty in return.

What other truths have you learned along the way? I hope you’ll scroll down and share them.