encouragement

For the Days When You Cry on the Kitchen Floor

Image via @WomenIRL on Instagram

Image via @WomenIRL on Instagram

It’s happened to all of us before. Little things and maybe even a few big things build up to create the perfect storm that take you to a place of overwhelm and sends you straight to the kitchen floor in a puddle of your own tears. I’ve had many of these moments since becoming a mom, and I know that I will have many more in the years to come. The details of what sent me to the kitchen floor this morning are irrelevant; the point is that I was there. You know what it feels like; you’ve been there too. When you feel like nothing is within your control, and all you can do is cry. You feel absolutely hopeless and it’s suffocating.

Here’s the deal–we are not in control. We never were, and never will be. Control is an illusion that will drive you mad if you attempt to pursue it. Yet it’s something that we crave so deeply, it seems impossible to let go.

So there I was, crying on the kitchen floor, feeling as though the house was suffocating me. As far as I saw, I had two options:

  1. Try to shove it down, and push through the day as planned running errands and doing laundry.
  2. Say ‘screw it’ and get out of the house, even if I still had to take all the kids with me.

Usually, I pick the first option because life has to move on. The laundry never stops, and someone’s gotta do it. But today, I decided to leave the piles of clothes and empty pantry and do something for myself. Something that, at that moment, I desperately needed. We live 10 minutes away from a river, and water always has a way of calming me. So I got the girls dressed, packed a picnic and ran away to the beach.

There’s just something about being in nature that helps a mind that’s spinning out of control to reset, if you will.

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If you focus, you can feel God’s presence in the perfectly blue skies, in the soft lapping of the water against your feet, and the sweet, cool breeze blowing through your hair.

I am with you.

And even though nothing has changed really, you feel at peace because you know God is working on something good for your life.

Nothing is forever.

It will not always be this hard.

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Don’t get me wrong; it’s not like the rest of this day was suddenly peaches. The life guard wouldn’t let the kids use the floaties that I spent 20 minutes blowing up, pushing a stroller in sand was impossibly hard, the baby woke up when I tried to transfer her to the stroller and screamed the whole time I packed up our stuff, and I am writing this post on my phone from the floor of the older girls’ room because they are fighting me on nap AGAIN. But my stores have been revitalized enough that I’m not a crumbling mess on the floor. My mind is focused on God again, and I am able to hold on to the promises He has made, knowing, not just hoping but knowing, that He will keep those promises.

So the next time you have one of those days that sends you crying on the kitchen floor, know that you are still a good mom. Know that you are not alone. Know that nothing is forever. It will not always be this hard.

And get yourself outside; to water if you can. It really does help.

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Verse of the Day: More than You Can Imagine

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What’s the craziest thing you can imagine for your life? What is the most unattainable thing that you desire with all your heart, but that you don’t speak out loud because you believe it’s impossible for you to actually grasp?

You don’t need to tell me what it is for you. It’s different for everyone, and the goal or dream in and of itself doesn’t even matter. Because whatever it is, God can make it happen. In fact, He even wants to make it happen. Going even further, God wants to do more than whatever impossible thing that you are imagining.

The Bible gives us pretty clear instructions on this:

“Ask and it will be given to you,

Seek and you will find,

Knock, and the door will be opened.”

-Matthew 7:7

Being human, we tend to over complicate matters and can’t wrap our minds around simply asking for something and then getting it. You have to work hard for what you want, right? Well, trust me–asking for your biggest, wildest dream from God is going to be work. You’ll have to be like the persistent widow in Luke 18 and keep on asking, every day. You’ll have to summon hope in most likely a hopeless situation and hold on to your faith that God will finish the work He has started, even when that prowling lion is whispering every kind of doubt into your ear. You will have to wrestle with God like Jacob, refusing to let go until He blesses you. You will have to keep coming back to God with your request, feeling like a fool for even asking.

But here’s a thought–what if that impossible dream that’s been hiding in your heart was put there by God Himself?

God is waiting to open up the floodgates of heaven and bless you so much that you don’t even know what to do with it all.

So start asking!

 

Quiet Time: Giving Yourself to God

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Giving yourself to God is both exhilarating and terrifying. It’s a lot like riding a roller coaster: it’s positively thrilling, yet your stomach feels as if it’s going to drop out of you and you can’t shake the “DANGER” alarm that your body is sending. But you know that you’re safe; there is a very heavy harness strapping you in, making it impossible to wiggle in your seat, much less fall out. Yet every time you go through a loop, you brace yourself for the potential danger and hold your breath, because you know that it’s going to feel like the world just collapsed underneath you. But when you are at the very top of the loop, you see the world from a view that you have never experienced before and you feel like you are flying as free as a bird and you are exuberant with every kind of feeling all at once. Even after you survive the ride, you will still have that strange mix of emotions of sheer panic and thrilling joy. Your stomach will still drop to the deepest pit and the question of, “Why am I doing this?” will still cross your mind at the exact spot of the ride. Every. Single. Time. It doesn’t matter how many times you go on the roller coaster. You will panic every time.

God asks us to do crazy things. Things that make absolutely no sense. Things that push us way out of our comfort zone, and cause us to panic. Sometimes He asks us to do things that will hurt. In the moment, we can’t understand why He is asking us to do whatever it is that He is asking. We want to know the why so that we can talk ourselves into going through that ginormous loop on the roller coaster, because from where we’re standing it’s absolutely terrifying and seems like a horrible idea. But He doesn’t tell us the why. He wants us to trust in the knowledge that His harness will keep us safe and will never let us go. Once we say “yes” to whatever journey He is calling us to and allow Him to wrap us in His arms, He will never let go. So even when we’re in the middle of the biggest loop and we’re screaming, “WHY AM I DOING THIS?!!!”, we feel the strong hold of God’s harness not allowing us to even wiggle. Even though our world is completely upside down, we know that, somehow, we are still safe.

I don’t know what journey God has called you to. I don’t know what part of the roller coaster you’re on, if you’re sailing happily with the breeze in your hair, or if you’re hanging upside down where nothing makes sense. But if you’re on one of the scarier bits, I want to encourage you to trust in that harness. Everything else might be spinning out of control around you, but you can still feel God’s arms holding you.

He will never let you go, my friends.

You will feel scared every time you come up to a new loop. It doesn’t matter how many you have already safely gone through. Every time God comes to you with the next crazy thing for you to do, your stomach will drop and your heartbeat will quicken and you will doubt if you will be able to do it. That’s just being human. Just take a deep breath, grab the handlebars on your harness, and go for it again. Trust in Him, for He will get you through it. And you won’t believe all the goodness He has in store for you! Just hold on and follow His lead.

I Call You Blessed

Today was seemingly insignificant. I didn’t accomplish anything worth talking about; laundry, a few dishes, dance class, dinner. It was a very typical day in the life of a stay-at-home mom.

It’s really easy to feel insignificant and unimportant in the role of motherhood. On the surface, it doesn’t look like you do very much at all. At the end of days where I literally only accomplish keeping the kids fed and alive, I sometimes feel stressed because I wasn’t even able to keep up on housework. This feeling is compounded when my 4 year old actually complains about not going to day care like all of her friends and says things like, “Auntie works all the time, but you never work Mom.”

When you work a 9 to 5 job, it’s easy to find satisfaction. You keep busy all day doing important things and at the end of the day, have finished one or many projects. So you give yourself a mental gold star for doing something of value with your life for that day and are happy about it.

I feel like being a stay-at-home mom is looked down on in our culture. Since the feminist movement to allow women into the work force, it seems that if you are a woman who chooses to stay home instead of work, you are then wasting all the efforts of the women who fought so hard for that right. I feel our culture teaching us that if you don’t work, that you aren’t doing enough with your life.

So even though I don’t believe that anymore, I still allow that thinking to make me insecure.

Am I doing enough?

Am I wasting my life?

I put unrealistic expectations on myself, believing that I have to have the house spic and span all the time, homemade dinners ready at the same time every night, and laundry clean/folded/put away. So when I am unable to keep up on the house or when I can’t manage to get dinner out any earlier than 8 pm or when only half of the laundry is clean and is in an unfolded pile, I feel like I am just not cutting it. I feel like I am not enough.

And I know that some people will look at my life and say, ‘I feel sorry for her. I mean, she raised great kids, but she didn’t really do anything with her life.’

But if at the end, I’ve done my job right (because motherhood is a JOB), my children will rise up and call me blessed. How do I know this? Because the Bible tells me so:

 

Image via pixshark

Image via pixshark

I can’t stop thinking about the deliberate language in this verse: her children rise. Why ‘rise’? Why doesn’t the verse just say, ‘her children call her blessed’? That would send the same message. But it says that they rise. Rise against whom?

Do you want to know what I think?

I think that her children are rising against those who would dare call their mother’s life insignificant. I think that now that they are grown, her children are able to see how much she has done for them. They couldn’t see it when they were young, but they see it now. They know now that they would not have become the people that they are without her. They also see that there are people who do not understand everything that this woman, their mother, is worth.

Another thought–why doesn’t the mother defend herself? If you read the previous verses that describe her, you will see that she is a strong woman. Why does she stay silent?

Maybe because for a moment, she doesn’t fully see the significance in her life either. Perhaps she is just like me, wondering if she did enough.

But her children say she was more than enough. And they rise up for her, at a time when she cannot do it for herself, and call her BLESSED.

It’s so very easy to sweep all the extraordinary that we do as mothers under the rug of mundane. But we mustn’t forget how very important our job is. We are shaping lives. It is the most important job in the world, and yet is the most undervalued one. Personally, I feel that true feminism should embrace all that a woman can be, including a mother. Motherhood is not something to demean; I truly believe it is the highest honor and calling in life. Think about it– God is trusting us to raise tiny humans into extraordinary beings. What an honor!

So if you are reading this on a day where you are thinking, “Seriously, what did I do with my life today?”, I want to say:

I will rise up and call you blessed.

And one day, your children will too.

 

At Least Pee is Sterile

My sister came out from California to spend last week with us. I had plans of surprising her with a birthday cake since we couldn’t be with her in February for her actual birthday, of painting nails, of days spent outside playing with the kids, of nights drinking wine while watching stupid television shows, of finally getting to show her the place that I now call home because the last time she came to visit was for Laurelyn’s birth & the time before that was in the middle of the polar vortex winter. But reality looked totally different than my fantasy, as it normally does. I wasn’t able to find the time to make her birthday cake. It rained most of the time she was here, keeping us housebound. And to top it off, the 2 older girls got hit with a stomach bug; Eowyn was sick the first day she was here, and Arya 2 days later. Aside from Target & Arya’s dance class, we didn’t get out of the house until her 4th day here! We went to the Mall of America that day for a Barbie’s Dreamhouse / Nickelodeon Universe / Disney store extravaganza.

The next day, I had planned on taking her to the downtown area of our little town. It has a quaint small-town America feel and is right next to the river, so there’s gorgeous views everywhere. The first time I went to the downtown area was the first time I fell in love with this area, which has now become my home. It was really important to me to share that with my sister.

So of course, everything went wrong.

The plan was to make sandwiches and have a picnic, because frankly it wasn’t in the budget to eat out. But we ended up running late in the way that only happens when you have kids: you wake up with the sole goal of getting ready to leave, yet mysteriously it gets dragged out in extra potty trips, nursing sessions, and the extra time it takes to get the kids moving at a pace that doesn’t make you want to gouge your eyes out Fish Mooney style. No way was I going to add making sandwiches to the list when we were finally getting out of the door at 1:30. Fast food was the best choice economically speaking, but I knew that going inside to eat would waste at least another hour because of the reality of the pace of a 4 year old, 2 year old, and nursing 5 month old. The food would have been cold if we drove through and ate it picnic style at the river. So I chose to go to a restaurant downtown, because that would give us the most time. Time to spend together in one of my favorite places on the second to last day of my sister’s visit. I knew we couldn’t afford it, but sometimes I feel it’s important to choose the option that will make you happier, rather than the more frugal one.

We went to a burger joint that I really like that’s right in the middle of downtown. Unfortunately, they messed up my burger and put cheese on it (I’m allergic to dairy). So everyone else ate before me. But I will say that the waitress handled it perfectly: she caught the mistake before bringing the food out and had the manager take my meal off the bill without me having to complain first. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to A. Remind the server that I can’t eat the food they served me because of the cheese that’s sitting right on top of it, even though I told them about my allergy when I ordered and, B. Had to complain to the manager because the server made clear to me that my allergy was really inconveniencing them. I don’t like having to make a big stink, so I really appreciated the waitress being so pro-active in fixing the mistake.

Right when I was finishing up eating, Laurelyn pooped. I discovered when I took her to the bathroom that it was a blow out diaper. Like, an up-her-back-and-in-her-leg-rolls blow out diaper. If we had been at home, this would have been a you-need-a-bath kind of diaper. And I had 3 diaper wipes. I managed to get the onesie off without the poop getting in her hair, but I had to resort to using toilet paper to wipe a lot of it up because the 3 diaper wipes didn’t cut it on their own. After she was poop free, I had to put her naked self on my hip so that I could wipe the poop off of the changing pad, so that the new diaper wouldn’t be covered in it. While I was doing this, she peed on me.

Not just a little trickle either.

Oh no, this was a soak-the-whole-left-side-of-my-shirt-and-roll-down-my-pant-leg-and-on-to-my-shoe-ending-in-a-massive-puddle-on-the-floor kind of pee.

I had no extra clothes for myself, because who does that? There was a part of me that wanted to throw in the towel, just go home and give up on this impossible day. But the kids were so excited to run around by the river, and my poor sister had spent almost her whole visit cooped up in my house. So even though I felt positively gross, I decided that I was not going to give up on this day, and forged on in my peed on clothes.

At least pee is sterile.

We went back to the car to get the girls’ kite & balls, to discover that the damn kite had broken! The girls were instantly devastated and threatened to throw tantrums over it. Luckily my husband calmed them down, because if they had thrown fits over that kite I would have lost it. They kicked the ball around for about 5 minutes and then were done. Whatever happened to kids being able to amuse themselves forever with a ball and lots of space to run?

They wanted to walk along the water now. I was nursing again, so my sister took them down by the shore solo while Tyler kept me company.

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This too, only lasted 5 minutes, because Ary kept trying to go in the water. No matter that the water is freezing cold and she didn’t have a bathing suit or floaties on. My sister came walking back to us carrying Ary like a football because she wouldn’t walk on her own. She was also shoeless; she had managed to kick off her shoes in the struggle without my sister noticing.

While my sister went back to retrieve the missing shoes, Eowyn managed to climb a tree entirely on her own. This has been something that she always wanted to do, so it was such an honor to watch it unfold. My daughter checked off her first bucket list item, and I was there to witness it. There it is friends– extraordinary peeking through the ordinary day.

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The moment was broken by a yell of, “I need ta go potty!” I passed the baby off to Tyler, grabbed Ary, and ran to the bathrooms. Which were locked. Why were the park bathrooms locked on a Saturday?! I knew she wouldn’t make it back to the restaurants, so there was only one other option: she was going to have to squat. I took her to a wooded area off the shore of the river, held her in a squatting position above the sand, and told her to go. “NOOOOO!”, she protested. “It’s ok, Ary; the dogs pee outside all the time. Just let it out.” It was really windy that day, so it was kind of a messy experience. But, I kept things light hearted and silly, and when she was done, we were laughing about it. When we were back with everyone else, she proudly announced, “I pee in da woods!”

Hey, at least pee is sterile.

There’s a bridge that goes across the river that I had yet to walk, so we decided to cross that bridge (pun intended). Eowyn was pretty disappointed by this idea, as she wanted to continue climbing trees for the rest of the day.

The view was absolutely breathtaking.

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But both the girls were quickly complaining about how bored they were, and could we please go back now? (INSERT MAJOR EYE ROLL HERE) “How can you be bored when you have all of this beauty surrounding you?”, my sister asked them. I then had a flashback of our childhood when we were the bored children being asked that question. When did we become so old? The girls finally wore us down however, and we headed back halfway through.

Wanting to recreate the iconic picture of Winnie-the-Pooh and Christopher Robin dropping sticks on one side of a bridge to see who’s stick made it to the other side first, we all picked out sticks and dropped them in the water. Despite the wind being very strong, the current was stubbornly pushing against it, so non of our sticks actually made it to the other side. They actually got carried in the other direction! So much for that moment.

We headed back to the main street to get coffee and ice cream.

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Then we packed up and went home. The girls were not happy about this; there were boo boo lips across the board.

The moment we were pulling into the garage, Eowyn asked if we could play outside. We were completely dumbfounded by her request, since we had just spent the last 4 hours outside. She threw a fit when we denied her request, “But we just walked around on a bridge, we didn’t play in my yard!” (INSERT EVEN BIGGER EYE ROLL HERE)

Sometimes, you just can’t win. You try to plan a nice family day out of the house to make some memories for the scrapbook, and life takes a piss on it (literally).

But you know what? On the way to church the next day, Eowyn said, “Mom, remember when we walked on that bridge yesterday? That was a lot of fun.” BAM! Mom for the win! Even though the day was far from flawless, I think the kids will actually file that memory away as a nice day out. They’ll remember climbing trees and a windy walk on a bridge and ice cream and forget the not-so-great bits.

As moms we try so hard sometimes to create “perfect” memories. But, life isn’t perfect. Stories are more interesting when things go wrong anyways. So the next time a day isn’t going as planned, I will remind myself, ‘at least pee is sterile’. Because if I try too hard to force something to be perfect, I’ll ruin any chance of it being fun because I’ll be stressed out.

We’ve got to hold tight to all that is good, refusing to let it go.

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Stop Hiding Behind Your Kids, Mom

One of my best friends is also a mommy blogger. In fact, she’s the one who inspired me to start blogging. I could write a whole post about how awesome she is, but one of the many things that I love about our friendship is that we are always inspiring one another.

Yesterday she published a post titled Mamas Need Selfies Too, and managed to inspire me once more. She’s challenging her fellow mamas to post a selfie on Instagram this week with the hashtag #mamasneedselfiestoo because too many of us hide behind our kids in pictures because we’re embarrassed of our uniform of yoga pants, messy ponytails, and spit up. We’re especially embarrassed of our worn and torn bodies that are forever soft where our sweet babes were formed. Our society preaches that beauty looks like toned abs, flawless makeup, and perfect carefree curls (which actually take a good hour and are anything but carefree). So we use our adorable kids as shields to hide our weak spot–our insecurity about our bodies.

But the truth is–beauty does not come from a bottle of mascara; it glows from our hearts that overflow with love for our babies. Jesus taught that the most beautiful thing is laying down one’s life for another. By that definition, mothers are the fairest ones of all. We put ourselves aside in order to take care of our kids, and the King of Kings says that that is beautiful . And that’s good enough for me.

When we lived in California, I was taking classes at our church. We only had 2 kids at that time, but Ary was a very difficult baby. I was lucky to get through 20 minutes before the nursery called me to get her because she was screaming the whole time. I would always end up sitting with her on the floor in the back, trying to pay attention to the study while playing with her. I even had to take the midterm while I was nursing her, because she was teething at the time and nursing around the clock. One night I was feeling a bit defeated; I was tired and worn out, and in desperate need of a break. I wondered why I kept trying when I knew that Ary would never allow me to get through an entire evening uninterrupted. How much was I actually able to absorb when I had to listen with one ear every time because I had to play with my high maintenance child in the back? Was I being a distraction to everyone else who was there trying to grow in God? It was becoming really exhausting, and I felt like giving up.

My thoughts were interrupted when the pastor asked us to try an exercise: sit in silence with our eyes closed, and ask God to reveal Himself to us. Then, we were challenged to ask God how He sees us. I was so broken in that moment, that I came before God with no reserves and a heart that was completely open to Him. When I asked Him to show me how He sees me, I saw myself holding my daughters and twirling around in a field. I was wearing a blue shirt that I wore frequently and I looked as I always did: slightly frizzy hair, glasses, and no makeup. But–I was so happy. I had the biggest smile on my face and I could actually see the happiness radiating out of me in a brilliant yellow glow. All of the unkempt hair, dark circles, and soft spots got swept away in that glow, and I truly was beautiful. That’s how God sees me, and it’s how He sees you too.

As a mother of 3 girls, I am very mindful of instilling self-confidence in them. I tell them how beautiful they are every day, because I know that all too soon someone is going to tell them that they aren’t good enough. But I know that telling them to be confident in themselves isn’t good enough; I have to show them what confidence and true beauty looks like. If you’re a mother to a son, then you have to show them what true beauty is, so that they will grow up with a respect for women and not fall into the trap of only valuing her looks. So I will accept my friend’s challenge to tackle my fear of not being good enough, and post a selfie. I will not hide behind my kids. I will show you me, in all my imperfect glory.

I would love for you to join us. Because you are beautiful.

I know that those dark circles are a product of taking care of the sick kid all night, and that is beautiful.

I know that your hair is in a ponytail again because you spent all of your time getting the kids decked out in their awesome rainbow tutu, Frozen shirt and neon leggings that they’re rocking, and that is beautiful.

I know that your body may not look like what it used to, but you created life inside that soft tummy, and that is beautiful .

You are beautiful.

So sometime this week, take a picture by yourself and post it on Instagram. Tag my friend @andifranklin and myself @ajonsson31 with the hash tag #mamasneedselfiestoo and let us remind you of how beautiful you are. Then search the hash tag and comment on another mama’s picture, so that we might encourage one another. This challenge isn’t just for young moms; you are still a mom, no matter how old your children become. Grandmas and great-grandmas, you survived the trenches of motherhood and stuck around for grandkids. You are BEAUTIFUL! I want to see you too. If anyone doesn’t have an Instagram, head over to my friend’s Facebook page and post your picture there.

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This is me. I’m in sweats and though you can’t see it, there’s spit up on my shirt. I most definitely am not wearing make up and my hair is not only uncombed, it is also in a messy bun. But I have brushed my teeth. I have been taking care of Ary all day, because she is on day 3 of a stomach bug. Oh, and I was nursing when I took these pictures. Nursing in my dark room, where Ary is FINALLY napping. I’m going to have to sit in here to keep an ear out for any more diarrhea because diapers don’t do well with liquid poop. But even though it may seem like the most unimportant work ever, it’s actually the most important work.

And that is beautiful.

I love you, all of my fellow mamas! I sincerely do.

For the Days When You Have Cookies and Beer For Dinner

We just had our 3rd baby a week ago. Whether it’s your first baby or your third, bringing a new tiny human into your life is a huge adjustment. They completely disrupt your routine, throwing everything into a temporary chaos until a new balance can be found. It’s a stressful process, which I’m discovering gets more complicated with each child. For the older kids also feel the stress of change and don’t know how to process it. Although our 3 & 2 year old girls love their new sister, they miss Mom and Dad’s attention that just got divided to include the newest addition.

I ended up hemorrhaging with this birth and lost a liter and a half of blood. Two units of blood transfusions got my hemoglobin up to 8.9 (normal being 12), but it could take anywhere from 4-8 weeks for me to feel 100%. Until then, I’m going to be low energy and in need of rest. Which my 3 and 2 year olds don’t understand. “I need Mommy!” the 2 year old cries out all day. “But you’re not pregnant anymore Mom. Why can’t you run with me?” the 3 year old asks. It’s not that I don’t have help; my husband and extended family have been amazing. But sometimes the kids just want their Mom. So I push myself and try to do little things with them, even though all I have the energy to do is sit and watch Netflix. I make an extra trip up the stairs to be there for our bedtime story. But kids want ALL of you, and the little that I’m able to offer right now isn’t enough. They don’t understand that my whole body aches from the struggle of bringing a new life into this world. A painful process that almost killed me this time. And because they’re toddlers and are still learning how to express and process their emotions, their stress and frustration manifest into misbehavior and fits. Loud fits. Which is stressful, and makes you lose your temper because you’re exhausted, and in my case running off fumes.

Today there were a lot of fits. My dad had been staying with us, but had to go home today. So the kids were sad about that. My mom is flying out today to visit, but her flight got delayed so she won’t be getting in until after bedtime. Big fit about that. There were countless fights over what we were going to watch on TV and over toys that they both suddenly couldn’t live without because the other had it, making it instantly irresistible. Even though Dad took them outside to run off energy, they didn’t take a nap. Dance class got cancelled, so the world was over. The 2 year has started randomly crying over literally nothing, multiple times throughout the day. The house is a DISASTER. They are fighting us on every little thing because their little toddler worlds are upside down and they’re desperately trying to control something.

So on days like this when the kids are being a total nightmare and you’ve lost your temper with them more times than you can count, there’s only one way to handle it. Make cookies with your monsters. Even though they will make a mess. Even though the 2 year old will sneeze on the dough. Even though the last thing they need is sugar. Make the cookies. Put them on a plate, cuddle up with your kids in front of Cinderella III even though you hate that movie, and throw out your rules of not eating on the couch or eating dessert before dinner, and have cookies for dinner. Don’t stress about the crumbs; the dogs will take care of them. Chase it with a beer and leftover pizza and Chinese food and lots of GRACE.

Grace for your children who don’t know any better.

Grace for your spouse who is also stressed and doing the best they can.

Grace for YOURSELF. You’re only human and can only do so much. Give yourself a break.

Especially when the 3 year old accidentally spills an entire cup of orange juice all over the dinner table which happens to have your brand new laptop on it. Anyone would lose their shit. After you calm down and apologize to the 3 year old, remember to forgive yourself.

Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares for you.

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Allow yourself to feel horribly flawed but not be defined by it. Everyone has bad days. This too shall pass.

And do your best to focus on the good, because it’s worth the struggle and the fight.

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My Eggo is Prego: 38 Weeks

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38 Weeks

I was very excited when I took this picture because it was taken after I realized that despite my 38 week pumpkin bump, I could still zip up my jacket. Mind you the jacket is a crop fit, but still–made me feel good about myself. Here’s a better bump picture, which was taken on Wednesday:

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38 Weeks and 3 Days (But who's counting... )

I’m horribly grumpy about this whole pregnant thing now, however. My instinct is to keep this post short and sweet by saying this: I’m still pregnant, I’m not happy about the fact that I’m still pregnant, and my mood will progressively get worse until I am no longer pregnant. But, there was a lot more to the story of this week than my bad mood. So in the name of good story telling, here it goes.

Last Sunday, we had a splendid afternoon outside enjoying the beautiful mid 50’s fall weather. We raked up the few leaves that we had in our yard into a pile and let the girls have at it. They had a blast!

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Wednesday was Baby Ary’s 2nd birthday. I figured that I would be tempting fate a bit too much if I tried to plan a big party for her 2 weeks before my due date, so we decided to throw the girls a combination party on Eowyn’s birthday in November. She didn’t get a first birthday party though because it was scheduled 2 weeks before we moved across the country and we all got sick with a stomach flu from hell. We were forced to cancel it and couldn’t reschedule because the next weekend was ‘pack the moving van up’. It was heart breaking and I’m still upset about it to this day. So even though we weren’t planning a party for her actual birthday, we still wanted to make it special for her. We hung some streamers around the house and blew up 30 balloons to fill up the living room. I made chocolate chip Mickey Mouse shaped pancakes from scratch for breakfast, we took her to Denny’s for lunch (her favorite place, tied with McDonald’s), went to a pumpkin patch, had pizza for dinner, and I made her a chocolate with marshmallow buttercream pink Elmo cake (she LOVES marshmallows). On top of all that, we also got her an Elsa dress in her size (she’s been tripping around in Eowyn’s up until now) and a stroller for her dolls, which has been in constant use ever since (and which I also got at Goodwill for $4!). Let me tell you–she was one happy toddler!

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Of course it wouldn’t truly be Baby Ary’s cake if she didn’t get into it beforehand.

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I was so beat by the end of the day. I am so glad that we didn’t attempt a big party, because it would have been way too much for me right now. By the time we were having our pizza dinner, I started having contractions. They lasted for a full 24 hours, and they were pretty good ones. But they were inconsistent and never grew in intensity; just more prep work. As we were gathering the girls for bed that night though, I felt a distinct pressure. Forgive my bluntness, but I actually turned to Tyler and said, “I swear the baby has it’s foot down my vagina.”

The next day I had an OB appointment, and it turns out that although it wasn’t a foot, it was a head–baby is head down and engaged. I’m also 2-3 cm dilated and 80% effaced. My doctor said the water bag is really low as well. She was really surprised by the progress that was made in a week. She doesn’t expect me to make it to my appointment next week, but I’ve heard that before.

All this really means is that I am thoroughly uncomfortable. Having a baby’s head stuck in your pelvis feels exactly like it sounds–awful. There is no such thing as a comfortable position for me at this point. I managed to somehow gain 4 pounds since last week, which I chalk up to water retention because I have had major swelling problems out of nowhere. Suddenly my wedding ring is too tight on my sausage fingers and cankles are a daily occurrence. Sitting for longer than 30 minutes makes my arms tingle and my hips tighten up, standing for longer than 30 minutes flares up the cankles and makes my feet tingle, and laying down is just about the most painful position for my hips (baby’s head probably to blame).

This is the hard part. I’ve never been good at waiting; especially when I’m in so much discomfort. Even though this is my 3rd go around, I still feel just as confused and frustrated as I did the first time. Friday evening I had contractions every 1:45 minutes for 2 1/2 hours. They were stronger than Braxton-Hicks; I could even feel the top of my uterus tighten with each one. I’ve had timeable contractions twice before, and both times I was in active labor. My practice pre-labor contractions have always been inconsistent. So naturally, I was inclined to think that I was in the early stages of active labor. Especially since I had had a 24 hour marathon of good contractions the day before. Obviously, I was wrong. It makes you feel stupid, which is frustrating. I guess just like every pregnancy is different, so is every labor. This one will be different than the other two, which means that all my experience is completely useless.

I want to be able to do something to help it along. To feel like I have some sort of control over what’s happening. I nearly drove myself and everyone around me mad when I got to this point with Eowyn. I tried every labor inducing trick there was to try and ended up just making myself miserable because none of it worked. When I was pregnant with Arya, I made the decision to give it up to God and not try to take matters into my own hands, but let things happen the way they were supposed to. I’ve wisely made the same decision this time around as well. There’s no use trying to control something that is completely out of your hands. You’ll just drive yourself crazy trying. The baby will come when it’s time for it to come. This part of having children has been the ultimate lesson in patience and humility. I know that God is with me and that He sees my frustration, for He gives me encouragement just when I need it. Like in the ‘Verse of the Day’ that’s now on my white board:

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And in my devotional:

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Every day, I will fight the urge to be frustrated and upset and will instead wait patiently for God’s perfect timing to unfold.

I will focus on my awesome girls that bless me with love every day.

I will focus on my husband, who is the best support and is the only one who can get me to laugh despite my grumpy mood.

I will focus on the beauty that God has painted all around me.

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And I will focus on the promise of a tomorrow that is full of wonderful surprises that have been carefully laid out for me by the Creator.

Baby Stats:

-Baby is about 6.8 pounds and around 19 1/2 inches long (about the length of a leak)

-Organs are mature and ready for life outside of the womb (in other words–you can get out of me now)

My sister’s coming out from California on Thursday and will be staying with us for a week. I am so excited to see her! And hopefully, Henderson will make his/her debut 🙂

Quiet Time: Letting Go of Control

I had a rough Mommy day yesterday. I woke up exhausted from not getting enough sleep, because I had been up late the night before spending time with my husband catching up on Cake Boss and then writing a blog post. It may have been my fault, but there are only so many hours in a day. I hate writing while the kids are awake because they’re constantly interrupting my thought process, plus I have a hard time telling them to play on their own so that I can do something for myself. I feel like they should get my attention during the day because they are my primary job right now. I will never apologize for staying up late to spend time with my husband because that is precious time that is not only essential to the health of our marriage, but it’s also essential to my sanity.

Ary was excelling in being a baby-toddler. The only time she wasn’t on the move was for the hour and a half that she was napping. Other than that, she was all over the place. As always, she was on top of the table repeatedly throughout the entire day, no matter that I yelled at her every time to get down. She got into their plastic cups and poured herself water from the dispenser on the fridge about a dozen times throughout the day, spilling water on the kitchen floor and all over herself every time. She even took a cup of water one time and poured it all over Eowyn. From swinging on pull out cabinet drawers in the kitchen to mysterious crashes in the playroom to rubbing hand soap all over her legs and tummy, you name it and she was doing it yesterday. When I took them outside to play for an hour, she snuck off while I was helping Eowyn on her bike. I turned around to check on her because I couldn’t hear her shoes squeaking and I couldn’t find her. I went into the backyard to find her going down the slide on the playset. Which means that she walked about 300 feet from the driveway to the backyard on her tip toes so that her shoes wouldn’t squeak and I wouldn’t know that she was gone. To top it off, I ran out of duct tape half way through the afternoon so she ran around stark naked for about 2 hours until Tyler was able to run to Target to get more. Thankfully, she only had one accident and it was pee and it was mostly on the tile.

As if she wasn’t enough on her own, Eowyn, who is usually a really good girl, was also giving me a run for my money. She’s gotten into the habit of tattling on her sister every single time Ary does anything. But when she’s tattling, she’s yelling in a very loud, whiny voice. I can’t stand whining, and there was a lot of it going on. I was counting on being able to take a nap with the kids, but Eowyn decided that she didn’t want to take a nap even though she had dark circles under her eyes and was obviously tired. She was excelling at being a 3 year old; for every time I told her to stop doing something (like using the couch as a trampoline), she ignored me and continued doing it.

All day I felt like I was having to repeat myself over and over and over again, and it was so frustrating. Why can’t they listen to me the first time I ask them to do something? Why must I have to yell and get angry in order for them to actually listen?

Says every mom on the planet.

On top of all of the frustration that was my children, I was struggling physically. My hips were aching and I was nauseous all day. The house was a nasty mess too; the carpets desperately needed vacuuming, the dishes were out of control again, and all of the toilet bowls needed scrubbing. It was humid as all could be, so my pregnancy discomfort was amplified by 100%. All I wanted was to have a normal day where I wasn’t so exhausted and uncomfortable, the kids weren’t downright crazy, and I could clean up the house in between playing with the not-crazy kids. I tried to control my temper, but failed miserably. I feel like I spent most of yesterday yelling at the kids.

Then at the end of the day, once the kids were asleep and the house was quiet, I opened up my devotional Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young, and opened up my heart so Jesus could come in and clean out all of the nastiness I had let inside. This is what I read:

“Draw near to Me with a thankful heart, aware that your cup is overflowing with blessings. Gratitude enables you to perceive Me more clearly and to rejoice in our Love-relationship. Nothing can separate you from My loving Presence! That is the basis of your security. Whenever you start to feel anxious, remind yourself that your security rests in Me alone, and I am totally trustworthy.

You will never be in control of your life circumstances, but you can relax and trust in My control. Instead of striving for a predictable, safe lifestyle, seek to know Me in greater depth and breadth. I long to make your life a glorious adventure, but you must stop clinging to old ways. I am always doing something new within My beloved ones. Be on the lookout for all that I have prepared for you.

Romans 8: 38-39; Psalms 56:3-4; Isaiah 43:19″

After the day that I had had, this was exactly what I needed to read. It’s hard to focus on the blessings in your life when you become consumed with frustration over what’s going wrong. As frustrating as they may be at times, my children are the primary reason why my cup is constantly overflowing with blessings. Looking back, I can see now that one of the reasons why I spent all of yesterday in such a bad mood was because I kept desperately grasping for something that I could control. My body wasn’t behaving the way I wanted it to, my kids were not behaving the way I wanted them to, my house didn’t look the way I wanted it to, even the weather was not what I wanted it to be, and I was completely powerless to change any of it. Which is extremely frustrating.

As an adult and especially as a mother, I feel like I should be in control of my life. Yet I am constantly reminded that in fact, I do not have my stuff together. But as always, God’s way is the exact opposite of the world’s way. Where the world teaches that at a certain age we should be in control of our lives, God tells us to release all control over to Him, because we were never really in control to begin with. The successful stock broker that has all his p’s and q’s in order by the world’s standards could suddenly not have a job one day when the market crashes, and his whole life suddenly spirals out of control. The happy couple finally stops birth control when they are ready to have kids, only to find out that they can’t conceive. The outdoor August wedding in Southern California that took a year to plan is destroyed by a freak-of-nature torrential rain storm that no one saw coming.

We like to think we are in control of our lives because it gives us a sense of security; it makes us feel safe. But the reality is that we can only control what we place our trust in. If we choose to put our trust in schedules and jobs and plans, then we will always be left disappointed. But if we choose  to put our trust in God, we can feel secure in the knowledge that we may not know what each day is going to bring us, but we know that God’s in the driver seat and that He wants good for us. Everything is out of our control. The sooner we accept it and fully release our lives to God–like every single day in and day out aspect of our lives–the happier we will be.

Mind you, this is easier said than done. But every day, I will remind myself that I am not in control of that day. That does not make me an irresponsible adult. It puts me in a position where God can mold me into the woman that He destined me to become before the beginning of time. I will continue to make plans, but I will make them with the knowledge that God might decide to scrap them and do something completely different (which He is prone to do). I will do my best to work with whatever I’ve got, rather than be upset that it wasn’t what I was expecting. I will proudly admit that I do not know what I am doing, because I know that God knows what He’s doing. I may not know where I am headed, but I know that as long as it’s where God wants me to be, then it will be better than anything I could have ever planned for myself. Because only when I leap off the cliff in blind trust, will the true adventure begin.

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The Day I Got a Medal

The day I got a medal, was just an ordinary day.  A lazy Sunday, where we only got out of our pajamas because they got covered in food coloring.  It was a movie marathon kind of day.  A left-overs for dinner day.  I didn’t clean a single thing (except the dog pee off of the carpet).  I left the clean laundry in a pile on the recliner and the dishes stacked in the sink, because Sundays are family days.

The day I got a medal, I did not make a fancy Pinterest breakfast; it was a Lucky Charms morning. I did not have a fancy Pinterest activity planned and prepped today, for we were all just content to do nothing together.

The day I got a medal, I said ‘yes’ when the 3 year old asked if we could make a snow volcano, even though I knew it was going to be a royal mess.  I also said ‘yes’ to painting the snow, which equated to the kids dropping food coloring directly onto it because I was feeling too lazy to mix up water colors.  We all got covered in food coloring from all our snow fun; I’m quite sure the stains will never fully come out of our clothes.

The day I got a medal,  no one’s hair got combed.  We didn’t learn a single thing.  And nap times got completely messed up.

Yet there were still hidden triumphs in this lazy, wasted day.  Hidden in my 3 year old’s telling me that God’s promise goes from Abraham, to Issac, to Jacob, from memory.  Hidden in their smiles and laughs.

Hidden in my 1 year old saying the prayer before we ate.

And so on this lazy day, my 3 year old daughter came up to me and placed the tassel from the living room curtain around my neck and said, “Mom, you get a medal!”  What did I do to deserve such acclaim?  “You kept my sister off the table while I ate my cereal.”  Then she gave me a hug, and went on to play.

There was nothing significant about today if you look at it on paper.  Nothing at all extraordinary, except the memories we made.  Memories of colored snow volcanoes and snuggles on the couch. Memories of princess coloring sheets and making play chicken pot pie soup (the 3 year old’s recipe, of course).

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Memories of Bible stories, which are already becoming etched onto their hearts.  Of prayers together.  Of singing the same songs on repeat all day, each time with the same enthusiasm.  I know that when my children are grown up and they look back on their childhood, that they will remember days like today with a fondness in their hearts.  Because when I look back at my childhood, I remember times spent watching The Wonderful World of Disney as a family; having my mom do my makeup and dress me up in her clothes; laying around a pool with my sister.  It is the every day nothingness that is so extraordinary, because that’s where relationships live.

Relationships live in the snuggles, in the messy play, in the extra Eskimo kisses before bed.

So on this day that I accomplished absolutely nothing, I somehow accomplished everything.

Because today, my daughter gave me a medal for being a good mom.