Enough With the Mom Guilt!!!

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The other day, on my weekly trip to Costco, I was going about my business, pondering important life questions like “Where’d they move the yogurt?” and “Should I order one pizza or two?” You know, the big ones.

Suddenly my important thoughts were interrupted. While I was mid-debate, I had an epiphany. There is something about perusing the aisles of Costco that causes me to reflect on my precious children. Perhaps it’s triggered when I grab 3 boxes of my boys’ favorite cereal. Or more twirly dresses for my girls. Whatever the reason, my thoughts turned from food to heartache.

I have ruined my children’s lives. Forever.

The heart of my daughter is broken today, and I did it.

My son is struggling… and in my parental power-trip, I didn’t listen to his thoughtful insight.

The kids are in a habit of yelling disrespectfully at each other instead of being quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.

(Again, that one can be pinned on me.)

So there I was, grabbing yet another rotisserie chicken, feeling the weight of my “mom failures” on my shoulders.

MOM GUILT.

If you have had a child address you as “Mom” at any time in your life, you know what I’m talking about.

It’s that thing that hits your heart after your kid walks out the door to school and you left on a bad note (read: YELLING at them to leave and slamming the door rather than kissing their head and waving while they get on the bus).

It’s that twinge of *UGH* that floods your conscience when you realize you actually said what you were thinking about them OUT LOUD instead of keeping it tucked deep inside where no one could ever see or hear those atrocious, frustrated feelings that come with raising little people.

Please tell me you know what I’m talking about.

I  love my children fiercely and will go all “mama bear” on anyone who messes with them.

But I am also human (read: BROKEN and imperfect). I have human feelings, human reactions and human baggage that I unintentionally drag with me everywhere that permeates throughout how I do life, whether I mean for it to or not.

My humanity is revealed to me often through my offspring, who peel me raw with THEIR humanity. They complain. They fight. They disobey. They YELL (I don’t know where they learned that). They defy. They can be lazy. They talk over one another. They’re MESSY, literally and metaphorically.

So when my humans act just like me (because I am ALL of those things), I don’t respond well all the time. And as a result, I feel GUILTY.

Maybe you feel the same way. 

But guess what. Guilt? It is not a burden we have to carry. 

We can be sad that we’ve messed up.

It’s okay, even good to be SAD when we get it all wrong; to feel remorse for what we did or did not do.

It is when we feel those things deeply, that we’re motivated to do things differently.

“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” (2 Corinthians 7:10)

Don’t confuse guilt with sadness.

Guilt is tied to judgment; to condemnation. For some it is temporary and others it is constant.

But it doesn’t need to be.

If you love Jesus, you are no longer condemned for your wrongdoings.  You have been declared guiltless!!! Your screw-ups aren’t the end!

The Bible says “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)

Jesus, the Son of God, who is fully God and also fully man (see: Desiring God for further information), perfect in all aspects, TOOK OUR PLACE. He took our guilt. He took our shame. He took our sin and every. last. piece. of our ugly… and put it on Himself. Then He died, taking all of it with Him to the grave.

But then.

Then He left it behind. He left the grave and ROSE from the dead, being fully alive again! And in doing so, He stands before God, pure and spotless, perfectly Holy, with us and says, “I took her guilt. I took her shame. I took that mistake (yes, THAT one) with Me when I died and I left it behind. She is now innocent.”

And God agrees.

Do you hear that in your heart, friend?

With Jesus, there is no longer any guilt or shame.

With Jesus, we move FORWARD, no longer being dragged down by our pasts or our mistakes.

With Jesus, “we know that in ALL THINGS God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes.” (Romans 8:28)

That means that the mistakes we’ve made with our kids? He can turn them into something good. Something beautiful, in fact.

We are also told that His mercy is new every morning:

“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, His mercies never come to an end; They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)

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With every sunrise comes a fresh start.

Can I get an “Amen!”?

Yes. I make mistakes. Yes, my children are often the unfortunate “benefactors” of those mistakes. But because of them they also get to see WHY we as broken, sinful humans need Jesus. They get to see Mom ask forgiveness. They get to see repentance in action. They get to see and also demonstrate grace, the bestowing of kind favor on someone who doesn’t deserve it.

They are learning and demonstrating LOVE because of this.

So, friends, the next time Mom Guilt creeps in and tries to take you captive, REMEMBER JESUS, who, while we were still sinners, died for us (Romans 5:8), that we may be set free.

Mom guilt comes at us all of the time, but friend, we don’t have to hang on to it.

❤ ,

Summer

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So, about homeschooling….

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So I guess I should finally address this….

Okay, okay, I’ve heard from a number of people who have wanted to know how our first year of homeschooling has been going. Enough that I should probably give an update.

Here goes: We quit.

We made it 9 long weeks before the whole family agreed that, for us? Homeschooling is just not a good fit.

In those 9 weeks we all learned a great deal, me probably more than anyone else. Sadly, that might say something about my ability to teach my kids. Kidding. Kind of.

Among some of the things I learned were that I admire mothers who successfully educate their children at home TREMENDOUSLY. Oh my goodness. The women I met at the co-op we attended once-a-week were so amazing. They are smart, creative, organized, have hearts of gold, patience that I can’t even think of duplicating, and are great teachers.

They are also, in fact, human (perhaps super-human, but human nonetheless). They were honest about how hard homeschooling their children can be. They were truthful about the frustrations and difficulties that come with being around their kiddos 24/7. I was so grateful for that transparency because around week 3 (still in September, friends), I was wondering what on earth I had done, bringing my girls home.

I learned that these wonderful families don’t necessarily school their kids at home for religious reasons, but because it is the best choice for their families. Some travel a lot. Some have kiddos with learning difficulties that the public school system just isn’t equipped for. Others just really want to be with their kids. ALL are great reasons.

I learned about GRACE and giving myself a ton of it. Having grown up in the public school system, I have only ever “done school” a certain way. The freedom allowed by homeschooling, both in schedule and in structure, can be overwhelming to people like me who have never been educated outside of a classroom setting. So when I found our family falling behind from the schedule I had laid out, I was convinced I was ruining my girls, ensuring they’d never graduate, setting them up for lifelong poverty of mind and bank account.

Not so. These mamas always reminded me that the schedules are guidelines and that the kids WILL learn. They’ll learn more than I think and be just fine. “Give yourself grace!” they’d say.

So why, with all this learning taking place, was it not a good fit for our family?

All I had to do was look to my children.

One of my daughters is a natural leader. The girl thrives when she is helping others and encouraging them. I was told by one of her teachers in first grade that if she (the teacher) needed a sub, she could put my girl in charge and the class would do great!

This daughter grieved leaving school so badly. I watched my daughter wither. Sure, she completed her work, pushed herself and strove to do better than her sister (gotta love the sibling rivalry), but her spirit wilted being away from her school and friends.

My other girl is so much like her mother. She is energetic, uses a lot of words, has a will of iron and likes to be liked by others. Her love languages are words of affirmation and quality time. Homeschooling was her idea! She wanted to be home with her mama because, being one of 6, quality time with mama is rare. Couple that with the frustration of schoolwork AND having a baby & preschooler to compete with and what we found is that this girl didn’t need mama as a teacher, but to be mama.

Then there’s that phrase that really did us in: Homeschooling FAMILY.

In our home we have a lot of people. But one of those people, the tallest one with the deepest voice that is the provider, he’s gone a lot. Not just normal job “a lot”, but a LOT. Between work, commute and Air Force Reserve duties and trips, (sometimes being multiple weeks long), I found myself depleted. Two of the kids don’t sleep through the night. Two other kids have school, friend and youth group obligations. Two more have activities.

I. Was. EMPTY.

Empty isn’t even the right word. “Barren” might be better. I had nothing to offer. Not one thing to give beyond the basics. One can only run on 5-ish hours of sleep each night for so many years before running dry.

SO. When the girls mentioned they’d like to go back to school, I prayed, wrestled (was I giving up? Was the enemy trying to get me to quit so God wouldn’t get the glory for whatever success might come?) talked with my hubby and re-registered the girls for school.

And we’ve never looked back.

They’re thriving. I’m rebuilding. We’re all right where we should be.

There’s this “Christian-ese” phrase that says, “If He calls you to it, He’ll bring you through it.” Well, friends? It was evident that we weren’t “called” to homeschool.

AND THAT IS OKAY.

It is important, especially as followers of Jesus, that we trust God to work HIS way. So often we place these expectations on ourselves and others that HE NEVER MEANT TO BE THERE.

God is King. He is sovereign. His plans are good. If He doesn’t want a specific thing for us, why on earth would we try and force it to be so? Even if it LOOKS good?

I would LOVE to have our family be a successful homeschooling one, but it’s just not God’s plan for us at this juncture in our lives. I’m glad we gave it a try so we know that.

To all you homeschooling parents out there, you have my admiration, support and utmost respect. I pray God’s provision for your daily needs in mind, body and spirit and evidence of grace throughout your day.

To the rest of us? I say and pray the exact. same. things. This parenting gig is hard. But God is good. He loves our kids more than we ever could. He will work His will out in their lives; it’s up to us to trust Him to do just that!

Summer

I Still Like You. Will You Still Like Me?

We all feel it.

The tension surrounding this crazy election is so thick that it truly feels like we’re tiptoeing around one another.

We find ourselves afraid to be honest with one another. We’re ANGRY at each other. We feel betrayed by those we *thought* we knew.

All because of a vote.

Over the past several months we’ve found ourselves faced with an excruciatingly hard question: Who will we vote for to lead our nation? Who will we elect to represent us? Who do we want to continue laying the groundwork for our children’s future?

And our choices aren’t that great.

But here’s the thing: who you vote for isn’t going to change my opinion about you as a person. You are still my friend. Some of us bonded while brushing our Barbies’ hair when we were still in pigtails. Perhaps we shared a middle school crush or had  inside jokes; took a road trip across the country or went Mermaiding in college. Maybe we dated. Perhaps I broke your heart (sorry!) or you broke mine (forgiven!). There were weddings attended and births celebrated; hugs shared and tears shed when our hearts hurt… and when they rejoiced.

We have done life together. Maybe not all of it, but you helped me become who I am today and part of me helped you become you. What a privilege, influencing the life of another. Thank you.

This is why, in these uncertain, division-filled, on-edge times, I want you to know this:

I VALUE YOU.

I AM GRATEFUL FOR YOU.

Our politics and beliefs may differ, but that doesn’t change that I think YOU ARE GREAT. And I STILL want to be your friend tomorrow, regardless of who gets elected today.

Here’s the thing: after all the votes are counted and the celebrating or weeping is done, we’re going to have to work together in order to succeed, as individuals and as a nation: UNITED.

Unlike the politicians we’ve seen drag each other through the mud, slinging words of division and hatred and disgust at one another, will you join me in taking the high road and respectfully disagree without taking personal offense? And encourage our kids and those in our circles to do the same?

Proverbs 15:1 says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

I commit to speaking gently.

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” -Ephesians 4:32

I will be kind to you and have compassion on you, seeking to understand where you’re coming from and why you feel the way you do.

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” -James 1:19

I will listen first. I won’t argue with you to be right, but I do want to understand your perspective, so I’ll listen.

We may disagree about the issues. That’s okay. But I will choose to love you and be kind to you regardless of the boxes you marked on your ballot. Will you do the same? After all, for better or worse, we’re going to wake up on November 9th and have to face the results of our choices together.

Let’s choose better. 

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Words of encouragement for mamas…

An oldie but a goodie!

The Transparency Project

It’s been awhile since I’ve had a chance to jot down my many thoughts.  My days have been filled with camping, swim lessons, sleepovers and every other thing that a mom does to cram fun into the last few weeks of summer before school starts up again.  But that’s not to say I’ve not had a LOT of ponderings.  I have.

One of the things I’ve learned so much of these last few weeks of summer vacation is how much I, we all, actually, need grace.

If you’re a mom who stays at home with your kiddos, whether by choice or not, summer break gives you ample opportunity to screw up.  Heck, even if you’re a working mom, summer break can be challenging.  Can I get an ‘Amen’?

Before I go on I want to clear something up.  I LOVE my kids to infinity and beyond.  I LOVE summer break. …

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So… this is new.

Several years ago, when our oldest was just getting ready to start kindergarten, I COULD. NOT. WAIT.

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At the time, we had 3 young children that always needed me. Always. Every second of the day (or at least that’s how it felt). My firstborn and I had some serious power struggles that made us both look forward to getting some breathing time while he was at school. We needed a break from each other for part of the day and school was going to provide that break. The teachers who cared for all the children in the classroom? GOD BLESS THEM!

I think many moms can relate. Maybe not to the specific issues, but as the first day of school approaches in our area (we start in September), there are videos and memes made expressing the joy that will be “THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL!” All the kids will be out of the house for 7 hours a day and mom can finally breathe! Or go to Target by herself! Or any number of “Oh-my-gosh-they’re-gone! PARTY TIME!!!” moments.

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I get it. I have six kids. I. SO. GET. IT.

Way back in 2007 when we were preparing to launch our Bubba off to school, I was pouring my heart out to a friend hoping for empathy. Having a husband who has multiple jobs, is often gone for extended periods at a time, left me to deal with some pretty incredible and intense times with our boy. I was often left in tears, as was he. Parenting. (Sigh).

My friend, in whom I was confiding in and hoping for emotional support from said,

“You don’t think that’s going to get better by sending him to school, do you?”

My mouth dropped. I mumbled something about needing to go, turned on my heel and fumbled my way back to the car.

If you’re a parent, you pour your heart into doing what’s best for your kids. It’s not unusual, especially with your first one (or six) to wonder if you’re doing the right thing or if you’re going to screw them up somehow. When someone else questions how you’re raising your kids, even if it’s meant well (as it often is)? It can hurt. It can be brutal, especially when you’re already dealing with difficult things and doubting your own abilities.

So it came as a total surprise to this mama’s heart when, 9 years later, after 4 of my 6 kids had been in public school, I started feeling a nudge to pull some of my kids from public school and bring them home for their education instead. I was like, “NO. WAY. Not happening.”

My thoughts went back to the aforementioned interaction. The wounds were still there. Forgiven, but still sore.

I had unintentionally become a bit jaded regarding homeschooling. While I’ve had (and have) several friends who school their kids at home and are AWESOME, both in ability and overall coolness, I had seen others who made non-homeschooling families feel “less than” and were quite vocal about it. By choosing to bring my kids home, I didn’t want to be a part of an unofficial “club” that made others feel like I was made to feel; like a bad mom who was too self-focused to take on educating her children herself.

Or that made others feel inferior because “they can’t handle teaching their own kids”.

Both of which are utter nonsense.

Those perceptions were based on personal experiences and reactions and NOT to be confused with the actual act of educating one’s kids at home. Once I got over that, I still tried to push the notion away, but I kept meeting people who educated at home and LOVED IT. And they were so gracious about it.

Try as I might to deny it, the pros were outweighing the cons by a long shot.

Darn it. I couldn’t get away from this annoying tugging at my heart.

But, having always been a public school proponent, I felt like I needed to hear the voice of the Almighty shouting straight down from heaven, “SUMMER! You are going to begin homeschooling your children!” I mean, my husband and I grew up in public school and turned out alright, right? (If you know us personally, please just go along with this 😉 ).

We live across the street from our local elementary school. Talk about convenience! When the morning bell rings? Just push the kids out the door and into the classroom! Super easy. And there’s this old perception of who homeschooling families are… They’re often thought of as this:

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Or that mom and daughters will start dressing like:

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(Okay, I might wear a denim jumper, but it’ll be this one:

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Cute, right?! I digress.)

But, much to my initial chagrin, we did receive some pretty obvious confirmation from God that, denim jumpers aside, we were to begin educating some of our kids at home. There was no denying it, so rather than keep resisting, it was time to just do it and dive right in!

I am not really sure what homeschooling will look like for our family. I’m totally new at it. I’m a bit afraid of what I don’t know and bit afraid of what I DO know.

Ultimately, however, I know we prayed about it and because God HAS confirmed to us that this is the right thing for us right now, He will equip me to do this job well and find joy in it.

So here we are. I’m still a public school mama and now also a homeschooling mama… all wrapped up in one person. You get to read all about our journey, among many other things and thoughts I have, right here, just like always. (Thank you, by the way, for joining me!)

Would you please pray for us as we start this new adventure?  And, if you’re getting ready to start something new and would like prayer, let me know! We’ll pray for you too!

<3,

Summer

PS

I wanted to share with you that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that my friend in the story above meant no ill-will toward us. She was unknowingly pressing into a painful area in our family with wonderful intentions, but I wasn’t ready to receive those intentions at the time. Please know, too, that I have no intention of telling you that you need to homeschool or send your kids to public school. My job is as mother to my kids, yours is to be mother (or father) to yours. If you’re wondering what to do? Pray about it. Pray in earnest. God will direct you as He directed us!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My 14-year-old made me cry.

Now before you go on thinking this is going to be a sob story about the woes of having a 14-year-old in the throes of adolescence, take a deep breath. It’s not. Well, maybe it is, but not in the way you’re thinking.

Yesterday our internet was down… again. It’s been happening a lot lately and has been super annoying. Don’t the people know that we need the internet like we need air?

The first few times it went out I was mad because I really do have things to do and only the internet can help me do those things. Like catch up on Facebook. Or hit that online sale. Or… really waste my time in other ways that disguise themselves as being productive. (It’s a problem, I know. But cleaning the bathrooms and folding laundry just aren’t as appealing 😛 ).

But this time something was different. Maybe it was because the sun was out and it was warm and I had just had the privilege of going on a field trip to the beach with our first grader and was finally feeling a little rested. Whatever it was, I started to look at the internet outage from a different perspective, like maybe an opportunity to get things done or to pause and look at life differently. Because yesterday, as I was on hold with our provider I experienced something that could only be called a divine mothering moment.

I know, I know, being a mother to a 14-year-old teenager that is obsessed with gaming and creating YouTube channels with his friends and making videos while arguing with his parents about all of the time spent doing the above doesn’t sound divine. But there are moments, and yesterday afternoon I had one.

Because of the internet outage (our 3rd in 3 weeks) I called our provider, which meant I would spend a lot of time on hold. So there I was, sitting on the back porch in the unseasonably, delightfully warm sunshine with an attitude of frustration. The hold music was staticky, but semi-soothing (smart move, Frontier). Then it happened.

My oldest boy came outside and meandered over to our raspberry bush. Because of the recent warm spells the bush has had an early bloom and we’ve already harvested some delicious sun-sweetened raspberries. (YAY!)

I started watching him, reaching his long arms over the tallest parts of the bushes and grabbing the berries and popping them in his mouth, totally unaware of his mom staring at him.

A few seconds in I had a flashback that just about killed my heart in that “Are you serious, this boy is my baby” kind of way.

I saw this little boy…

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… in this young man.

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*Cue all the emotions*

I sat there watching my man-child and the tears started flowing, one-by-one.

Watching him pop raspberries in his mouth just like he did when he was 3.

Back when he was certain he was Thomas the Train.

When he would crawl around on the ground rescuing Roly Poly bugs from imminent doom and collecting them in jars, naming each one.

When he would sit in the back seat of our van singing quietly to himself, “You placed the stars in the sky and you know them by name… You are amazing God!”

That same little boy is now 5’8″ and has a size 11 shoe. Bigger than his dad’s.

That same precious blond boy who talked with a lisp and fumbled over his “R’s”now sounds like he’s 32 when he answers the phone.

The same one who now sits shotgun in the car but refuses to sing because it’s too embarrassing.

He’s still my little boy. And he still has so much to learn before he’s off on his own four years from now. There are so many things I want to teach him and speak into his heart.

For all the times the sweet old ladies would tell me “Enjoy every moment, dear, the years go by so fast” and I wanted to snap back, “BUT DO YOU EVEN KNOW HOW HARD THIS IS?! I HOPE they go by fast because I’m drowning here!!!”, for all those times, I now wish I had a few more moments to snap up memories of my little boy.

So there I sat, phone to my ear, staticky music in the background and my own real-life memory montage flashing before my eyes. It was a gift; a Divine gift that reminded me that the days are indeed so very long, but the years are short. I can choose to plow through them, just trying to get to the other side, OR I can slow down and savor the moments, especially the precious ones.

This life we live is so full of distractions. When I am old and grey I want to make sure that the memories I have are filled with things that matter, like my wonderful children who make me cry, sometimes intentionally, other times just because they’re wonderful.

The 14-year-old boy looked at me with a goofy, raspberry-seed covered, teenaged grin and said, “Mom, what are you looking at?”

“You, Bubba. I love you.”

 

 

Life, Truth and the Almighty Google

Oh gosh, you guys, it happened. I did something I had previously only mocked. I have hit a new level of ridiculous. I know, it’s hard to believe that is even possible, but apparently it is. I have my reasons though….

There comes a point in life when things get so overwhelming or intense or even stagnant that we start to look for something, ANYTHING to give us answers.  Or at least point us in the direction which we should go!

Right now is like that.  I want answers to my many, many questions… When will I sleep through the night? (Yes, me. My sleep state is directly related to the sleep states of my youngest 2 offspring). When will I have the freedom to pursue MY dreams? How much longer will this last? When can we move on to the next adventure? Is it okay for me to long for more than what I’m doing right now as a wife and mother even though it is the noblest job on the planet?

So, because I live in the 21st Century and it seems as though no one in my immediate circles can answer these questions, I do what any semi-sane person would do in my shoes:is-google-making-us-stupid-3-638

I Google it.

Yes, you read correctly, I confess to looking for the answers of life’s toughest questions on Google.

And you know what?  Google doesn’t know them.

Sure, Google can give me statistics and tips about getting young children to sleep (many of which are contradictory). Google can tell me all about setting goals. Google can give me information about all sorts of things that are kind of on topic, but can it answer the really tough questions?  The ones that apply directly to me?

No.

Because Google doesn’t know the future.  It can’t know with 100% accuracy the outcome or purpose of any person’s life or circumstances.  Google isn’t God.

So why do I keep Googling?

It certainly isn’t for my own amusement, because it’s pretty stinking frustrating to not actually get any answers time and time again.

I think the reason I am seeking answers on the world wide web is because the uncertainty and open-endedness of life just isn’t comfortable.  Comfort is something we all crave, young and old. When we’re hungry we seek food to satisfy the ache in our bellies. When we’re thirsty we look for water to quench our parched throats. When we’re lacking anything we seek something to fill us, to make us complete again.

Where do you go when you’re lacking?  Where is that first place you run to fill the void?  To satisfy your thirst?

I wish I could say that every time I felt empty I ran to Jesus and He filled me up and made me better.  That would be the “Good Christian” thing to say. (Side note: Any Christian who is having a “Good Christian” day has to give full credit to God. Left to our own devices and efforts, most of us will need to ask for forgiveness from Him and/or mankind within minutes of opening our eyes in the morning.  We’re ALL sinners; it’s GOD who can take our mess and make it beautiful!).

But I’m not perfect and I don’t always do that.  I don’t often run to Him first. Oftentimes I run to other things… Google, Facebook, shopping, watching a foreign film on Netflix or any other temporal and temporary thing to fill those holes.

Do they satisfy? Sometimes, but only for a short while. After the bandaid falls off the hole is still there, waiting to be filled.

And it’s usually then that I go to Jesus. It’s then, after I have gone through a whole list of “bandaids” that I remember that the Maker knows my heart inside and out and knows what needs healing or dealing and when and how to heal it and deal with it. ❤

Isn’t that a comforting thought? That your heart is known in *such* detail by God that He knows how to mend up the broken parts so they’re like new again? Often better off than before?  That’s a balm of goodness to this girl’s weary heart.

Life is full of questions begging for answers, some of which we don’t get the privilege of knowing while we’re on earth. That is a fact, whether we like it or not. It’s up to us, however, to determine what or Who we look to for comfort in the meantime. Will the fix be temporary or permanent? I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of temporary. It may take a long time, but I want the real deal; the permanent fix.

That means entrusting my life and the lives of my family to God and letting Him take charge of it.  He may choose to fill me in on His plan, providing answers to some of my questions, or He might not. He might just keep saying, “Trust Me. Keep your eyes on Me. I HAVE THIS. Let go.”

And I will have to let go and trust Him, resting in His promises to never leave or turn His back on us; that He SO loves us that He gave His one and only Son to die for us, bearing every one of these burdens we struggle with today on His shoulders. There is no greater love than that.

Step Away from the Google

So I challenge you: step away from the Google.

Close your wallet.

Get off Facebook.

Open God’s Word.

The more we get to know Him, the more comfortable we will become with entrusting Him with the uncertainties of this life and the more joy we’ll find when He surprises us with what He’s got in store!

❤ ,

Summer

 

Motherhood in the Raw

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Crazy Mom Face

 

I’m going to be flat out raw with you.

Being a mom is so hard.

From the outside, especially if you’ve not had kids yet, it’s so easy to think, “How hard can it be? You wipe noses, go to parks, cut grapes into quarter-sizes to prevent choking and post pictures of your perfect life on Facebook.

But from the inside? *deep breath*

Oh from the inside….

Recently my husband had to go away for several weeks. As in more than a month.

This meant, of course, that I would be mothering AND fathering by myself. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem because I’d look at his absence as an opportunity to do the things I’d wanted to do in and for the family (like be a die-hard sleep disciplinarian, bedtime policewoman, and dietician) that I was less able to do when my beloved was home (hey, he loves spending time with the kids until way past bedtime AND likes Doritos… gotta cut the guy some slack… he works hard!). But this time NOTHING has gone as planned. N.O.T.H.I.N.G.

We had prayed that this time apart would be fruit-bearing for all of us; restful for him and great relationship-building time for me and the kids, while it HAS been fruit-bearing, it wasn’t in the way either of us expected. AT. ALL.

Instead of me being able to pat myself on the back at how awesome I did (you know that’s what I expected to be able to do), I was forced to face the fact that I can’t do this job by myself.

The first 3 nights I slept for 8 of 72 hours. TOTAL. 4 kids got sick; two double ear infections, two sinus infections…one had it all PLUS croup.

Throughout the next week we had teething, hormonal teenagers and tweens. Ants decided to take up residence INSIDE the house. The toilet broke. The power went out. The kitchen sink started leaking… but by God’s grace we made it.

After that really difficult first 10 days I was looking forward to my planned respite… getting my hair done. The first outing I’d have by myself since Phoebe’s birth 6 months ago. I had been longing for this day for several weeks and was going to relish in every minute of it…

…until the color turned out several shades darker than I had requested (chocolate instead of chestnut) and my “Lob” became a “bob”.

Read: I lost 8″ when I had asked for 4″.

*Cue the crying*

While processing the new appearance and grieving the loss of ‘Me’, I proceeded to back out of the parking spot in the salon’s garage and tear the driver’s side mirror off the van and scratch the door up courtesy of a cement pole that was in my blind spot behind the baby’s window shade.

What was supposed to be a life-giving, restful day turned into very expensive, very BAD hair day.

And I had to go home and do my job alone for several more weeks.

My house was a wreck. My car was a wreck. My hair was a wreck. And worse? SO WAS MY HEART.

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I left the salon looking JUST. LIKE. THIS. Thank you. 😛

After getting home and grilled about my new “black” hair (“Mom. What did you DO?! You look like that professor from Harry Potter!), I sat in the middle of the world’s largest laundry pile and cried. Not out of weakness, but because after all that, I had nothing left. I felt defeated.

I am NOT Superwoman.

I know you all know that already, but you know what? I kinda thought I was. I mean, I have six kids and my socks match. That’s really a big deal when washing 56 pairs of socks a week.

Truthfully, the hardest part of the last weeks hasn’t been the difficult events that have taken place but the realization that the view I’ve had of myself (fully capable of succeeding at anything I tried if I truly applied), is all wrong.

You see, I CAN’T do it all. I mean, I think I knew it at a sub-superficial level, but facing the reality of my inadequacy has been incredibly humbling in a very real and raw way.

It is painful to my heart that others have seen me “weak”. Our society only praises those who *can* do it all. The ones who can’t or express weakness are frowned upon in a major way. (Major pride issue here… I want to be one of the ones praised, but motherhood is often a praiseless job).

It has been hard on my pride to have friends offer meals, knowing full well that we all need a hand sometimes, especially with life and kids. Rather, it has been hard for me to accept the lovingkindness of those who truly want to be there for us because they LOVE us and know life is a struggle. (Again with the pride)

I’ve felt incredibly unworthy and even guilty of receiving help, gifts of dinners or coffees or even a random floral arrangement “just because“.

WHY?! It is RIDICULOUS that a person should feel guilty because of the generosity and lovingkindness of others. Why isn’t gratitude and joy my first response?

I am surrounded by amazing women who have stepped up and filled in the gaps that I have tried so hard to keep hidden… not just from them, but from myself.

I am not perfect. Not even close. Everyone has known that but meand they not only love me anyway, they want to do life with me because of and through it.

Amazing. Humbling.

Each one of the women who has stepped in to demonstrate true friendship during my beloved’s absence has been instrumental in reminding me of God’s provision.

It would be so easy for me to wallow in self-pity and get angry and bitter at my husband for leaving us for so long, even if it WAS for work, but through these friends God has lovingly shouted at me, “I AM HERE. I AM WITH YOU. I told you I’d never leave you or turn my back on you. If I take care of the sparrows and the lilies of the field, how much more will I take care of you?” (Hebrews 13:5, Luke 12:27)

That’s right. My circumstances, as difficult and frustrating and embarrassing as they’ve been, do NOT CHANGE THE TRUTH that God’s love for me is constant. Just because I’ve had some really bad days and sleepless nights does NOT mean He’s left me to fend for myself. The enemy would have me (and you) think that though.

See, that’s the thing about the enemy; he is THE deceiver. He says, “God didn’t hear you this time. You’re all alone. God LEFT you.” But God says, “You know those friends who brought you coffee on Days 2 and 3 of minimal sleep? That was Me loving you… and those friends that brought you meals on the same day? I was providing in ABUNDANCE for you BECAUSE I LOVE YOU.”

THAT is my God.

He doesn’t leave His children; in our hardships HE. IS. THERE.

And He’s not only there, He is ACTIVELY WORKING IN FRONT and ALONGSIDE us to get through it successfully and in such a way that we are stronger and more beautiful because of it.

In this crazy-hard job of motherhood; in those overwhelming, draining, exhausting, flat-out difficult days when we just want to quit… He is right there cheering us on, equipping us to finish well.

We just need to listen. I just need to listen.

“Mama, you’re doing great. Keep running the race. The reward will be incredible. I love you…”

Your Father in Heaven

So, fellow mamas, I’m telling you too… You’re doing great. Keep running the race. The reward will be incredible. You are SO loved.

❤ ,

Summer

 

PS

After another really rough day one of my girls gave me this:

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Maybe it’s going to be alright after all 😉

It’s Been a Year… and God is Faithful.

A year ago today, December 22, 2014, my husband and I were shocked with the news that we were expecting our 6th baby. Just one day after he turned 40.

I remember waking up that morning with the complete understanding that if a certain thing didn’t show up, I would need to go to Target to get “the test”.

I remember the long drive to Target, my 5 and almost 3-year-old in tow, navigating the aisles to get the test and feeling like people were staring at me, somehow knowing that 1) I was buying a pregnancy test, 2) it would be our 6th child and 3) I was less than thrilled at the prospect. All of this meant I had a right to cry. And I did.

I remember taking the test, the “+” showing up before the test line.

I remember sending my husband an e-mail (no creativity points for this news) saying, “Call that doctor. TODAY.” and him calling me within minutes and saying, “Are you okay?

He knew I wasn’t thrilled. I wept and cried and frightened the kids because I was on the phone with Daddy and was crying (“Did Daddy lose his job?” “Is Daddy Sick?” “What happened, Mama?”).

My husband tried to comfort me… “We’ll get a bigger house.” “We’ll get a bigger car.” “It’ll be okay.” yet I continued to cry and just be angry with God. I wanted to be done with the baby phase. I wanted to do something else. I had been doing the pregnant/breastfeeding thing for 13 years and I was done. I needed something to feed my soul and nourish my heart. I was tired.

Have you ever felt like that? Just flat-out spent? Not even running on empty because “empty” was too full?

That was me.

And then, as the weeks went by and I succumbed to the fact that we *would* be starting over again (after I had gotten rid of  the crib, the carseats, the strollers, the clothes, the rocker literally one month before the  “+” sign showed up), I wrestled hard with God.

I knew in my head and my heart that God allowed us to get pregnant. It didn’t just “happen”. He had a purpose for that “+” on a stick.

When I went into my obstetrician’s office that January morning at 10 o’clock I had no idea our lives were about to take a turn, and a major one at that.

“I’m sorry. Your baby has what is called a ‘cystic hygroma’. It’s indicative of a major chromosomal abnormality and you’ll likely miscarry in the next few weeks.”

Followed by, “She has less than 1% chance of being born. Most women choose termination. I’m so sorry” just a few hours later.

But as I sat there and I heard the voice of the enemy say, “No one knows you’re pregnant. You should just do it. She’s not going to make it anyway. You’ll save yourself so much pain….” I remember so very clearly hearing the Holy Spirit say, “If the enemy is trying to get you to break God’s law by committing murder, you know FULL WELL that he is afraid of what God can and will do through this. God WILL be glorified.”

We chose to obey. We were very afraid of the hurt that was to come, but we knew that God is bigger than our fear. Fear does not come from the Lord. He asked us to trust Him. He would take care of us.

And He did. Oh how beautifully He did.

At the very beginning of our daughter’s life I was so angry. Why would God do this? Why would he make us have another child when we’re spread so thin already?

Yet as I sit here, with our miracle girl on my lap, defeating every odd she faced, I am astonished at how God used her precious, amazing life to save MINE.

Because of the absolute brokenness of our girl in utero I was forced to recognize and deal with deeply rooted problems in my own heart; things that had the potential to be incredibly destructive to me and my family. What was initially about me and MY life became entirely about the absolute value and preciousness of hers.

This little muffin, who very clearly desired to be here on earth, forced me to press into God when I hurt. No, when I ACHED in such a way that was so deep that breathing was laborious. Her broken little body forced me to ask God questions about His character that I knew in my head, but hadn’t ever recognized with my heart.

And He didn’t hold back.

He showed me that He is LOVE unconditional.

He showed me that He is CONSTANT and unchanging.

He showed me that He is GOOD and His goodness doesn’t depend on my (or any) circumstances.

He showed me that He KEEPS His promises.

He showed me that HE is the Author of our stories and of creation and that  as the author, He doesn’t have to abide by the “rules” here on earth. Statistics? Odds? Chances? Yeah, He doesn’t have to work within those confines.

He showed all of us that He is the God of MIRACLES. Flat-out miracles.

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Less than 1% chance of living outside the womb, yet here she is, 100% alive and extremely healthy. Hallelujah!

Friends, we NEED this God. This God loves us powerfully and wonderfully.

When life happens, when the really hard stuff of this world is thrown at us, it is easy to listen to the voices that tell us God doesn’t care. It is easy to say, “If He was a good, loving God, then WHY does this happen?” and to just be mad at Him. But it is right there, right after we cry “WHY?!” that the enemy wants us to take up residence. When we sit and are angry at God for what has happened we are blinded from seeing what He is actively doing. When we focus on the “why”, we are not focused on the “Who” that has the power to bring us through it. “Why?!” is hopeless. “WHO?” offers us hope. Jesus. Jesus is who.

I beg you, if you are asking “Why?!” and are hurting in ways you can’t describe, I beg you to trust Him. In His word God says,

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Deuteronomy 31:6

Tell Him, “Lord, I am AFRAID. I am HURTING. I DON’T want to be going through this. BUT I TRUST YOU. I trust your character, your promises and in your absolute, unfailing love. I will follow You.”

The words might not be true of your feelings yet, but ask Him to help you get there. He will do it and your load will be lighter for it.

Have you gone through something so incredibly difficult that even acknowledging that there is a God seems ridiculous? May I challenge you to ask Him to reveal Himself to you? If you are willing to open your heart to Him, He will show up. He says so.

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.”

–Revelation 3:20

He’s already there, waiting for you to invite Him in.


One year. 

It’s only been one year, yet everything is different….

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

“My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.” –Job 42:5


“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people,” –Ephesians 1:18

I. QUIT.

The Transparency Project

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Can I just say something?  I am tired.

After having a handful of kids and trying to do everything right by them for 13 years… I. AM. TIRED.

Tired of feeling pressure to make 100% healthy lunches that are cut out in shapes from Frozen or Thomas the Train that my kids will want to eat.

Tired of trying to have birthday parties that blow every mom’s socks off (kids don’t care if their party is Pinterest-worthy… they want presents).

Tired of feeling pressure to have a Lululemon-type body so that when I put my comfy clothes on (read: yoga pants and a sweatshirt) I look like I actually do yoga.  (Which I don’t.  I fully embody the activewear for the inactive lifestyle ideal).

I’m also tired of this unspoken mandate by magazines, websites and who knows what other types of media that tell me the Jones’ really do have…

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