Suddenly, Nothing Else Matters

This past week kinda got away from me. I didn’t take the time to write, and honestly was just not motivated to do so. This happens every so often, so I was just going to do something light-hearted. But that will have to wait. It just doesn’t seem right. I don’t feel light-hearted today. I actually feel very, very heavy. I feel heavy about loss of life this week. I feel heavy that there is so much hurt, anger, and division in our country. I feel heavy that my brother-in-law lost his father. And I feel heavy that 2 little boys lost their mom this weekend.

A classmate of mine from college whom I was in the dental hygiene program with, has lost her battle with cancer. It was all so sudden that it has left many, including myself, trying to catch up. What happened? How did this happen? Why did it have to happen. It makes me weep and want to scream.

Two and a half months ago she was performing in a local production of Steel Magnolias. Two months ago she was celebrating her son’s 9th birthday. A month ago she shared this on Facebook:

CANCER….for those who’ve wondered & those who’ve already known….yes it’s what I’ve got! The thing about cancer is, it causes a person to experience MANY different emotions but it also causes you to really reflect on life. One thing I’ve learned is that my family is so incredibly loved by SO many people that I can’t even begin to explain how that makes me feel!
And, so whatever happens during this journey…..I am blessed beyond measure because I know that I AM the daughter of a KING that is NOT moved by this world!!! There is nothing that happens in my life that HE doesn’t already know about. I shall not fear because HE goes before me! HE is the Great Physician & I know that HE will protect me….HE has great plans for me! My JESUS has me in the palm of his hand & HE knows exactly what I need when I need it!!!! And for that I am thankful!! So…It’s ALL GOOD y’all.

And today, she is gone.

She was not a close friend, but her death has hit me incredibly hard. The tears just won’t stop. Without Facebook, I probably would not have any clue what her life was like, or that any of this was happening. But I do know that she was an incredibly bright, loving, and kind person. She was when she was a part of my daily school life, and seeing the response of her death, I know that her influence has only increased over the years. Now, she is not just in the “palm of his hand” but truly in the arms of Jesus. What a beautiful image.

She was loved greatly, because she loved greatly. She is absolutely the daughter of a King who is in complete control. We do not understand His ways, but we can trust Him. We may not like the outcome, but we can rest in His peace. I agree with her, it is ALL GOOD!

I feel so much pain for her parents, her husband, and her boys. I know they are in shock, overcome with grief, and wondering how they will make it through each day. There is no advice, there are no words, to ease the pain they feel. Jesus says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” The comfort will come, but for now, just mourning. Deep, gut-wrenching, painful mourning.

It’s so easy to get caught up in day-to-day things. It’s not that those things don’t matter, or that the Lord is not using those things to teach us, or encourage us, or heal us. But there are seasons in life that our perspective shifts. For this precious family, suddenly nothing else matters. I’m sure they are not caring about what they are wearing, or what they need to get done this week, or who is running for president. They only know the love they feel for this incredibly special woman and the hole that exists in their lives now that she is gone.

For today, I have no deeper message to share. Only that I wish to weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15).

xoxo

Replacing the Lies

After months of brainstorming, planning, critiquing there is now a shop of items offered through this little blog. I’m excited to tell you more about it, because it is more than pretty jewelry, or cute apparel. Please allow me to share my heart with you.

We have all had encounters and experiences in our lives that have planted a seed of doubt. They have made us question our purpose, our value, ourselves. These are lies that have been whispered to us repeatedly, and if we don’t acknowledge them, they can make us less effective and destroy our influence. These lies feed our defensiveness to protect ourselves from feeling weak. Our weaknesses can hinder us and cause insecurities, but those same weaknesses, if we acknowledge and address them they can bring us strength and give glory to God. Let’s change the repetition of lies. Let’s replace them with the truth of God.

Afraid, but GOD…has loved you.
Running, but GOD…has pursued you.
Broken, but GOD…has redeemed you.
Messy, but GOD…thinks you are beautiful.
Striving, but GOD…says you are enough.

I believe in a God, and that He is good. As C.S. Lewis wrote in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe:

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “… Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” 

I also believe that there is an enemy that wants to destroy our influence and ultimately our lives.

This message that I want to share I believe is from God, and I believe the enemy wants to keep me silent and to keep you from hearing it. This past week, I felt completely under attack mentally and emotionally. To make it worse, I was attacked with each of these lies that I am telling others to replace with truth.

I felt afraid that people would reject me. I wanted to run away from this project. I felt defeated and broken in my spirit. I felt like my life was out of control and messy. I felt like I needed to strive to be different and felt envious of others. And when I realized that I was struggling with the very thing I was speaking against, I felt like an imposter. Who am I to be sharing this? This is the exact response the enemy was looking for.

The morning after I realized all of this, my oldest son woke up and wanted to tell me about a dream he had. In his dream, he was with Jesus and they were fighting demons. He wanted to know what it meant. I told him that I believe we are constantly in a battle. And that is why it is important to put on the armor of God that he has been learning about at church.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. Ephesians 6:10-18, ESV

Shortly after this, my middle child woke up and he started talking about his dream. In his dream he was standing in our living room and people were trying to break in and attack us. Yikes.

After sharing this with my mother-in-law, she shared with me:

…Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. Revelations 12:10, ESV

The enemy accuses us of being imposters, of being weak, of being sinful. BUT, he has been thrown down!! He has been defeated!! Hallelujah, there is a NEW truth!

Yes, I would say that the enemy doesn’t want you believe the truth. The enemy wants you to be afraid, running, broken, messy, and striving…

but GOD….

Oh ladies!! This is where it gets good!

but GOD…

That means the story changes!

but GOD…

It means there is hope!

Afraid, but GOD…has loved you.
Running, but GOD…has pursued you.
Broken, but GOD…has redeemed you.
Messy, but GOD…thinks you are beautiful.
Striving, but GOD…says you are enough.

Here is the truth: You are loved by the Almighty, and He is pursuing you in order to redeem you. He has made you beautiful, and because he has loved you, pursued you, and redeemed you; you are enough!

I wish you could hear the excitement in my voice! I wish I could tell you to your lovely face! I wish I could rejoice with you right now as you are reading this!

The items in the shop are simply to help remind us of the truth and to change the repetition of lies that we have listened to. I pray for us all to change the dialogue in our minds and to live the abundant life that Jesus told us about.

Here are several of the items.

Click on any picture to take you to the shop to see all of them.

bracelet-silver

earrings-loved

necklace-pursued2

ring

Shirt

Bag

I will be in the Louisville, Kentucky area Memorial Day weekend. If you live in that area, and would like to eliminate shipping cost by picking them up from me while I am there, simply select “Pick up” when checking out and send me a note. xoxo

3 Bad Words

I’ve been known to use a few bad words in my life. Actually, I think a well-timed, well-placed bad word can be quite effective. There are times that it is simply the best way to get your point across. That being said, I don’t typically use bad words on a day to day basis. You know, the whole kids-are-always-listening thing.

There are other not-bad words I use that have gotten a nasty reputation. Which is a shame because they are vital to three areas of my life that I am extremely passionate about: my faith, my marriage, and my children.

 


 

My faith requires obedience.

This feels uncomfortable. It’s ok to use that word when we are talking about our children, but as an adult this seems preposterous. I’ve paid my dues. Now that I’m all grown up I can do whatever I want to do.

…to obey is better than sacrifice… (1 Samuel 15:22, ESV)

There is a quote by Timothy Keller that says, “If your god never disagrees with you, you might just be worshipping an idealized version of yourself.” Insert punch into gut. Sometimes I need to be confronted with truth. And sometimes that truth may require me to make a change. Our thoughts and actions have consequences, good and bad. Anything that we do has an effect on others. We may say, “It’s my life I can do what I want,” but what about the child, or spouse, or even stranger that feels the ripple of that decision.

The Lord requires obedience so that our lives will be blessed, not hindered. I don’t limit the amount of sugar my children consume because I want to hinder their lives. I limit it because I want them to live a fuller, healthier life and enjoy more things. I don’t put boundaries on how far they go in the backyard because I want to control them. They have boundaries so they don’t run into a copperhead snake or mountain lion (I know, crazy life we live). Likewise, the Lord places boundaries in my life to protect me.

My marriage requires submission.

This feels icky. What a horrible thing to ask of a wife. It seems like this could lead to abuse. As women we have fought for our rights. I don’t want someone, even my husband, telling me what I can or cannot do.

Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. (Colossians 3:18, ESV)

Isolating this single scripture doesn’t make me feel any better. Let’s add the next one, shall we?

Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. (Colossians 3:19, ESV)

There, I like that one much better. I really like how both of these are written in The Message:

Wives, understand and support your husbands by submitting to them in ways that honor the Master. Husbands, go all out in love for your wives. Don’t take advantage of them.

To be submissive to my husband is respecting his decisions and supporting him in that process. Being supportive does not mean saying, “Yes, dear” to whatever he wants to do. Being supportive is asking questions to help him think something through, or providing suggestions if he needs help. Being supportive is encouraging him to take the next step, or warning him that something doesn’t seem right. And then sometimes being supportive is knowing when to keep thoughts to myself and let him figure something out on his own.

In my husband and mine’s relationship, everything gets discussed. And if we ever are at an impasse and can’t come to an agreement, that is when I take a deep breath and let it go. I’m showing my husband respect by trusting his decision. And in return, he goes “all out in love” for me.

My children require discipline.

This feels harsh. All children behave this way, it’s just how they are. I want them to experience a full life. I want them to learn independence and be free thinkers.

Let’s revisit Colossians again.

Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. (Colossians 3:20, ESV)

And again, let’s add the next verse.

[Parents], do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. (Colossians 3:21, ESV)

To discipline our children does not mean to punish them all the time. It means to train them. Sometimes training is simply having a discussion, and sometimes it is working through a consequence. We have to train them to do everything, right? How to hold a spoon, how to drink, how to walk, how to use the toilet, how to spell, how to ride a bike, how to tie their shoes. So why do we think that they do not have to be trained to be polite, to be kind, to be generous, to be considerate, to be thankful, to forgive, to trust. These things do not come natural. We all want our children to be independent thinkers, but without training, their thinking can develop into only focusing on themselves.

Whenever I have to confront my oldest, now 8 years old, on why he shouldn’t behave a certain way, I explain to him that I am not scolding him. I am teaching him what is appropriate, and how to love others, and how to be respectful. I am not training his behavior, I am training his heart. This leads to him thinking through situations on his own. This teaches him how to grow and become a considerate, independent free thinker.

Now, when my son was younger we could not take this approach. It is not fair to expect a 2 or 3 year old to understand the concept of heart issues. Yes, they are talked about, but there is also a concrete consequence that comes along with the discussion. This teaches them that their are consequences to our actions. Our entire lives we have to deal with the consequences of our decisions.

I truly do not enjoy discipling my children. Training is not easy, it is sacrificial. But isn’t that a wonderful way to show that we love them?

 


 

So gosh-darnit-fiddlesticks! Important things in life take work. But doing what is uncomfortable in the present can lead to a future of positive results. Don’t be afraid of using these bad words!

Have you experienced the positives of using these bad words? Please share by commenting below or joining the conversation on the Facebook page.

xoxo

 

 

 

In Her Corner, episode 4

This is a series to learn about different moms and their different situations. Through interviewing these women and sharing their stories I hope that we can all have a better understanding and appreciation of each other. Hopefully we can support and encourage her “in her corner.”



 

Who She Is…

 

She is a working mom of one child who has been diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder. Her work schedule as a pilot is consistent in the fact that it is never consistent. Some weeks she is only gone one night, other weeks she is away for multiple days. She loves to cook, and to be on the go, but has had to sacrifice these parts of herself in order to care for her son, who is in kindergarten.

She explains her son’s condition as not being able to process information the way other people do. His body takes in and receives all information all the time. He isn’t able to filter out information that is not necessary. He sees everything, feels everything, hears everything, and his body sometimes can’t handle all that it is processing. He is constantly bouncing between being over-stimulated and under-stimulated. 

He takes everything she says very literally, so she has to be very careful how she talks to him, and to be very specific. She has learned to avoid certain situations so that he does not become over-stimulated and experience a complete meltdown.

“Target is the worst place ever. All the lights would send him on overdrive. It was too much, he couldn’t handle it.”

The first clue that there was a problem was shortly after birth. He was born at a normal weight, but was having difficulty nursing and lost a considerable amount of weight that took him a month to regain. She began to supplement with formula, but he was still not growing at the rate the doctors hoped to see. It took several tries to find a formula that he would accept, and she found that it had to be at a certain temperature. By nine months he had begun some solid foods but it wasn’t enough to gain weight. From 9-12 month he did not gain any weight at all. They then began to investigate if he was failure to thrive, or if his body was just not able to process calories. She was becoming desperate, even resorting to feeding him ice cream just so he would eat something.

“It was hard, that whole first year. I was a new mom, everybody is telling me that babies will cry when they want to eat, but my baby didn’t cry for food, so we put him on a schedule, and even still he wasn’t into food.”

Their doctor was able to get them in with an Occupational Therapist and that was when they got the diagnosis. They were finally able to put together all the pieces. Looking back they were able to see that he had this from birth. Currently, eating is still a struggle. They only have a few foods that he will accept. They may gain an item, but then lose another.

Physically, he struggles to know where his body is in space. This means he needs a lot of physical pressure and heavy work. He is often bumping or pushing into other people, which usually ends up being her.

Going into kindergarten, he was not (and still not completely) potty trained. By the second week of school she noticed that he was wet when she went to pick him up. They have gone to see more specialists, and are thankfully getting close to resolution. His body cannot always process the sense of needing to go. Once he does feel the urge there is not always enough notice to get to the toilet in time. He wants to be able to control it but can’t.

“At one point things were going so well. We had been 3 weeks with no accidents! And then we had 5 accidents in a row. I had to pick that weight back up, and manage it again. I’ve been managing the potty every day for 4 years.”

He is gradually learning his body. He is beginning to be able to know and give his body what it needs. This could include quiet alone time, listening to music, or jumping on the trampoline.

What her days look like…

Because of her work schedule, it is difficult to have consistency in their family schedule, and they have to be flexible. It would be easier if they could be more consistent, but that is not an option, so they try to consistent in the areas that they can be. This means her husband puts their son to bed at night even if she is home since there are many nights that she is away.

She has to manage everything. Even though her schedule is the inconsistent one, she is the one that drives the consistency that he requires. She is constantly managing his nutritional intake, whether or not he needs to use the restroom, and making sure his schedule is not over-stimulating him.

It was difficult to find the school that was the right fit for him. First, they wanted to send him to a small school, but it had too many transitions throughout the day which  included having to walk outside between buildings. In this situation he would have had to process a change in temperature, a change in environment, and a change in smells. The school they settled on is actually a very sterile environment. Most people would think it was boring, but it works for him so that he is able to focus. They knew he needed an environment with as few distractions as possible.

His school has been wonderfully supportive and willing to work with him. Sometimes he needs to stand to do his work, or carry a heavy backpack to the office. The teacher has given him permission that he doesn’t need to raise his hand and ask for permission to go use the restroom. During rest time he is allowed to spend time in restroom.

“When you have a child with special needs, you can be overly hard on yourself. You think you should be doing more, or you are a bad parent because your child is not excelling in some of the basic things, like going to the potty!”

What her strengths are…

She is thankful that organization and structure come naturally to her, since this is vital to his success.

What she struggles with…

When he was younger she often felt judged by others because of her son’s behavior and has even lost friends because of it. Sometimes he comes across as rude, or will throw a tantrum in public. It’s difficult because you can’t actually see that there is anything wrong. If people really knew what he was having to do to function everyday, they would probably be amazed.

She wishes she was able to read his brain. It seems that his rules are constantly changing in his world, and he gets angry with her when she doesn’t do something the way he wants it to be done.

“He wanted his sandwich cut a certain direction, but I cut a different direction, and he had a meltdown. He can lose it over something so little.”

She struggles with all that she has had to sacrifice in order to keep him from becoming over-stimulated. She misses being able to just go and do and be social. She struggles with how little he eats and that it is not as healthy as it should be. She struggles with knowing how to discipline him, trying to distinguish between the condition and just plain old bad behavior.

What her fears are…

It’s difficult to watch your child be different. She wonders if he is going to be an outcast, or an outsider. She wants him to be accepted socially. She wants him to have good friends that accept him for who he is.

She also fears that her son is going to grow up with a mother that constantly says, “Stop touching me.” And wonders how that will affect him.

“He’s not coming up and giving me hugs. He is hitting me or running into me, or crashing into me. I’m in a state of fight all day long.”

What her joys are…

She loves watching his mind work and seeing how he processes things. He can get fixated on certain things, but then he ends up knowing a lot about a particular topic. When he is enjoying something, there is nothing brighter.

He can also be very adventurous. He loves going places. He just may not participate when they get there.

What she does to stay sane…

“I run!”

She makes sure that she takes time to recharge and makes time to spend with friends without her son being there. She leans on her husband to take over when she is at her max. And going to work helps her stay sane too.

What she wants you to know…

She wishes people understood that there is not an easy fix. She feels like people think that she has all of this made up in her head or that he will simply grow out of it. She wants people to see that he is an amazing kid that just thinks differently. She doesn’t want him to be judged because it’s not something he can control. She wants others to understand that we are all dealing with something and we are all unique.

She doesn’t want to be seen as a bad parent.

“I’m struggling just like everyone else to handle whatever life brings.”

She wishes people would be more accepting of people for who they are. Support other moms, who might be struggling, by telling them that they are doing a good job and are an awesome parent.

And finally, ask questions, don’t give advice.

“People would tell me just put the food in front of him, and that he’ll eat it if he’s hungry enough. No, no he won’t. He’ll starve himself and go to the hospital, but thanks for the advice anyway.”



Oh mommas! We never really know what others are dealing with. Let’s encourage one another, support one another, and love one another. Hang in there momma, you got this!

I learned so much from listening to this momma’s story. Let’s spread the encouragement by sharing her story with others.

Are you a momma that needs encouragement? Do you know someone that needs someone in her corner? I would love to meet her! Please feel free to contact me and we can chat.

xoxo

 

A Beautiful Romance

By the time I graduated from college, the phrase, “I love you” no longer meant anything. The words became cheap, and that made me sad. I made a vow to myself that the next time I would say those words, it would be to the man I was going to marry.

Thus began a great romance. Not between myself and yet another guy, but between myself and the Lord. I began to “date” Jesus. Does that sound strange? It shouldn’t. The bible calls the church (that would you and me) his “bride.” And what is more romantic than being at a wedding and watching the groom’s face when his bride enters and begins to walk toward her love? Picture it!! There is Jesus, his face beaming, full of admiration as you are approaching him. The thought gets me all teary eyed and so excited that I want to jump up and down and run to him and be embraced in his arms.

During this romance I would imagine the qualities that I desired in my future husband: Bold, strong, confident, kind, gentle. Jesus is all of these things. And I would think about things I would want my spouse to do for me. I wanted him to sing me songs. And I would notice as I was walking into a building a bird chirping in the tree, and I thought, “Wow, Jesus just sang me a song!” And I wanted him to bring me flowers. And I began noticing the most beautiful wild flowers, and I thought, “Thank you Jesus for bringing me flowers!” And I wanted him to listen to me, to hear all my hopes and dreams and not judge me for them. And I began to share my deepest thoughts with Jesus and I felt total acceptance.

I truly fell in love with Jesus. When I think back to that time, it was full of sweetness and tenderness. Before that time, I had settled. I had believed the lie that I was not good enough to be with a good man. But then…Then I chose to believe the truth. And the truth was, if Jesus (the truly perfect man) wanted me and was willing to die for me, then I am good enough to be treated well and loved by a good man on earth.

A godly man will be bold in his pursuit of a godly lady. He will stand up for her. He will respect her. He will desire to protect her heart before having her body. And this godly lady did get pursued by a godly man. And he did sing her songs and bring her flowers. And he did listen to her deepest hopes and fears and loved her for them. And even though this life has had it’s shares of trials and difficult times, there is no one I would rather do life with.

The truth is: I was worth pursuing. And here is the truth that remains to stand strong: I am still worth pursuing. Jesus still pursues me. I am still desirable. I am still beautiful. I continue to share my heart with Him. I continue to lean on Him. Goodness knows, I wouldn’t be able to stand sometimes if I didn’t. And I’m still worth being pursued by my husband. The romance continues regardless of jobs, children, mortgages, or illness.

Dear momma, you are worth pursuing, you are desirable, you are beautiful. And if you find yourself in a loveless marriage, please know that Jesus will always find you to be lovely. It’s never too late to begin your own beautiful romance.

xoxo

 

I love hearing from you! Please feel free to share a comment, and to share this post with others.

 

 

 

Legacy of Beauty

It’s normal for a baby to smile at themselves in the mirror. It’s even listed as a developmental action that babies do around 4 months old. So I know that my baby girl is not the first to do this, but my goodness, she sure is cute when she does. Her little face just lights up. She is happy to see that other little person smiling back at her.

When she first started doing this, it struck me, when did we stop smiling at ourselves in the mirror?

 


Stop It!!

I’m my own worst critic. Standing in front of the mirror, examining, critiquing, judging. I’m too pale, too flat chested, too much skin around my belly, and my hair has too many cowlicks. This is not the example I want to be for my daughter. It is not the legacy I want to pass on. I want her to know that she can accept herself for who she is, and even like who she is without feeling guilty. There is nothing wrong with her or her appearance. I want her to know that beauty is not defined by the way we look, or the comments of others.

It is ridiculous how many voices we listen to in our heads. First we tear ourselves down, thinking that we are not “enough.” And then when we start to change the voice in our head, and feel good about who we are, we feel guilty for being confident and worry that we sound arrogant and conceited.

This past week I was holding my daughter and looking in the mirror. At first I said, “Look at that pretty girl.” And I felt troubled, knowing that I want to pass on a legacy of beauty. So I said, “look at those pretty girls. They are beautiful, and healthy, and strong!”

 


Epiphany

 

I don’t fix myself up to become beautiful. I fix myself up because I am beautiful.

I don’t make myself look pretty because I need to feel confident. It is simply that I am worth spending time on. I do not want my daughter to think she needs makeup and perfect hair to be deemed beautiful. I want her to see her outward appearance as an expression of the beauty within her.

I don’t eat good things to become healthy. I eat good things because I am healthy.

I don’t deny myself doughnuts because I need to lose weight. I make healthy choices because my body is worth taking care of. I do not want my daughter to become obsessed with food, neither over-indulging, nor over-denying. I want her to see food as nourishment, not as a comfort or as something to control.

I don’t exercise to become strong. I exercise because I am strong.

I don’t run to prove myself to others. I run because God created me with the ability and desire to do so. I do not want my daughter to feel pressure to be someone she is not. I want her to be confident and strong, knowing who God has created her to be.

 


 

If we are always striving to become something, we never experience the freedom of being what we already are.

Quick! Go find a mirror and smile at yourself. It’s ok to like that beautiful person smiling back at you. She is pretty remarkable!

 

xoxo

Do you know other beautiful, healthy, strong mommas that need to know their worth?

 

In Her Corner, episode 3

This is a series to learn about different moms and their different situations. Through interviewing these women and sharing their stories I hope that we can all have a better understanding and appreciation of each other. Hopefully we can support and encourage her “in her corner.”



 

Who she is…

She is a military mom of three who has moved away from her hometown for the first time. She anticipated this move to be difficult and that it would be out of her comfort zone. Her whole adult life has been one trial after another, so she has just expected the bottom to drop out yet once again. Thankfully, the opposite has been true. A weight has been lifted, and she is feeling refreshed, relishing in her new life.

Where she’s been…

A month into marriage, she wanted out and she wanted to go back home. It wasn’t what she had pictured. She didn’t receive flowers, she wasn’t told she was beautiful, she wasn’t having fun. There was never enough money, and she didn’t like where they lived. In that first year she consoled herself by eating, and as a result gained 25 pounds. And then she became pregnant. She was a baby herself, only 19 years old, having to learn to be a mom and struggling with postpartum depression. Two years later, a second baby was born. She has very few memories of those first few years. She was on a high dosage of anti-depressants that left her feeling numb. She was chronically disappointed in her life and in the man she had married.

Her medication was adjusted and she eventually leveled out. Life was beginning to look a little brighter. She started to work a part-time job that helped build her confidence. Her spirit was rising. Then she decided to go down a wrong path and pursued a relationship with another man. And although adultery was not committed to the fullest extent, it was committed within her heart. There was then a massive divide in an already unstable marriage that resulted in years of repercussions.

But they stuck it out, and kept on working on their marriage. Six months later, she was pregnant again. There was still not enough money, and they were moving from one unhappy rental to the next. Her husband did finally have a good job, but instead of feeling relief the divide widened. She ate, and he drank. They argued. A lot. She finally told him that if he didn’t stop wasting their money and drinking she was going to take the kids and leave. She made good on her threat, taking her children to live with her parents for about 3 months. During this time she was able to find herself and her identity. She was being healed.

“I wasn’t just a survivor, I could thrive. I was still a daughter of God.”

She and her husband went through a lot of counselling, and reunited. It went smoothly for about a year until it started to slip, and they were sliding, once again, down that hill. They decided they were tired of living like roommates and not actually sharing the role of husband and wife. They were going to give up, and call it quits. Leaders in their church came along side of them and loved on them and gave them the freedom to split up. It wasn’t that the church wanted them to split, rather that the church wanted them to know that even if they did, they would still be loved and cared for by the church.

So they stayed together, yet again. She still expected the bottom to drop out, but she was no longer worried about it. Two weeks later he lost his job. He expressed interest in joining the military, even though she told him before they were married that she would never be a minister’s wife or a military wife. They talked together and decided that National Guard was the best choice. He enlisted, and left for basic training. Meanwhile, she went to school to be a nail tech. During this time they wrote letters. And letters. And more letters. In his 10 weeks at basic training, he wrote 50 letters.

“Through the mail, I fell in love with him for the first time.”

Since then, things have been improving. Not always easy, but improving. He served ten months in Africa, leaving her to work and care for their 3 children. Eventually that position ended with the Guard, and he worked a job that put them on opposite schedules. Her life was completely scheduled with work, church, children, family, friends.

“These trials that we endure, if we can be faithful, absolutely strengthen us. And they make us more fit for presenting the gospel, if not to the nations, then to my children. What better calling.”

And then, out of the blue, an incredible opportunity with the National Guard landed in his lap. Great job, nice area, good schools, and finally enough money. She never felt like she would arrive at this moment. She had resigned to the belief that her life was going to consist of simply surviving and only having the hope of heaven to keep her going.

In the first few weeks, they bickered a lot. They had to learn how to live on this new schedule, and to actually be with each other. They came to the realization that they didn’t know each other. They didn’t even know what the other’s likes and dislikes were. She is grateful to have this opportunity to start over and have a new beginning. She is learning who she really is without the baggage.

“Who we are becoming is the life I had dreamed and prayed for when I was growing up. And it’s even better than I hoped for!”

She knows that God has redeemed what has happened in their lives. Sometimes she lost sight that God was always pursuing her. Regardless of what she had done, He was always there pursuing her. After going through what she has gone through, it has made her appreciate what they have been given.

“God alone has done this. And it is marvelous!”

What her days look like…

Now she finds herself trying to be wise with what to do with her time. For the first time as an adult, she has had options for what to do with her day. She is relishing in it, and praying for wisdom in how to use it wisely.

After she gets her kids off to school, she spends time catching up with friends, does a bible study, workouts, gets ready, writes letters, runs errands, does housework, and then picks up her kids. And for the first time, they consistently have dinner as a family.

What her fears are…

She fears she will forget what God has done for her. In this season of blessing, she wants to remember how she got here and Who did it. She doesn’t want to take credit for any of it. It has truly been a gift. One that she has waited a long time for.

What her joys are…

For the first time, simply getting up in the morning is a joy.

“Here I am! I’m being blessed!”

How she stays sane…

She treats herself to fresh flowers in the house every week. She also has a love for writing. With an actual pen and paper! She loves blessing others by writing letters, and enjoys writing in her journal.

What she wants you to know…

She’s been told that she has a facade that makes it seem like she has it all together, and she feels like that makes her unapproachable, but she’s not like that at all. She doesn’t want to be read by her cover. She’s been deeply wounded, and she’s been restored. She doesn’t take the lessons she has learned for granted, and wants to be a friend to others. She wants to hear their stories as well. And maybe have a good laugh over a bottle of wine!


Oh mommas! We never really know what is going on behind the scenes of someone else’s life. Let’s carry each other’s burdens in times of sorrow, and rejoice with each other in times of blessing!

 

 

In Her Corner, episode 2

This is a series to learn about different moms and their different situations. Through interviewing these women and sharing their stories I hope that we can all have a better understanding and appreciation of each other. Hopefully we can support and encourage her “in her corner.”

 



 

Who she is…

A mom of 4 in her mid 40’s. She homeschools her younger two. Shuttles her older two to and from school and work. Sings at her church. Mentors college students. Teaches English at her homeschool coop, as well as teaches a college English course online. And she juggles doctor appointments and treatments for her third child.

Her third child is thirteen. As a baby he had reflux, only they didn’t know it because he was aspirating it. This led to damage in his lungs causing asthma. He currently still has scar tissue in his throat. Later he was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, a type of arthritis which, for him, is mostly in his knees. This arthritis has also led to uveitis, inflammation in his eye that, if not treated, can lead to blindness. His treatment for this is to have an infusion of drugs every 3 weeks, without an end date in sight. Mentally he is a normal 13 year old boy, physically he is the size of a 5 year old. And they don’t know why. They’ve seen a geneticist and an endocrinologist, and have come to accept that even if they had a name for it, he would still need his symptoms treated in the same way.

“We keep our dishes down low in the bottom cabinet so he can get them himself and help unload the dishwasher and be a contributing member of the family. But the reality is if I try to let him do too many things on his own, somebody is probably going to try to report me to DSS! They’re going to be like, what is this woman doing letting this little kid run around?!?”

On any given day she may need to take her son to either the Rheumatologist, Orthopedic, ENT, Pulmonologist, Sleep Doctor, Endocrinologist, Geneticist, Oral Surgeon,  or Gastrologist.

What her day looks like…

She rises early to read scripture, plan her day, and exercise with a friend. Then it’s breakfast, homeschool, doctor’s appointments, lunch, groceries, pick up children, and fix dinner.

There are parts of her homeschooling day that her children require her full attention, and other times they just need her present in case they have a question. During this time she checks in with her online class, answers emails, sends texts to stay in touch with friends.

“When my kids were younger, we had a much more structured schedule. But I have found it to be easier to think in terms of, this is what we need to finish in a week.”

What she struggles with…

She struggles with getting frustrated and overreacting. She forgets that her children are still young and still learning. She wants them to be more mature than they are, but she knows that what they need is for her to extend extra grace to them.

She also struggles with being easily offended. When her children don’t do the things that she wants them to, she takes it personal. She has a tendency to sit and fume and think that they have a personal vendetta against her.

“They didn’t leave their plate on the counter because they were doing it to me. They didn’t leave their pants in the bathroom because they were personally trying to get to me.”

What her strengths are…

Going to the Lord in prayer has always been natural for her.  Whenever there is a concern, or dispute, her first response is to pray. She is continually living out her faith in front of her kids so they can learn from her example.

What her fears are…

She fears her children’s faith is not going to matter to them when they grow up. She has sacrificed as a mother and put things in her own life on hold believing that this would encourage her children to live with the same faith. Now her oldest is struggling with what she believes and is struggling with making certain life decisions.

“Did the past 18 years really make a difference?”

And this is scary for her. She wants to parent with passion and doesn’t want to change the way she feels about parenting.

What are her joys…

“That’s kind of hard right now. I know there are things that bring me joy. I kind of need to remember what they are.”

She does find joy when she sees her children learning and are self motivated and take personal responsibility. And when someone else brags on her kids she is encouraged. It’s easy to feel discouraged. Parenting is one of the hardest jobs.

“Nobody is coming in saying, ‘Thank you for making me clean my room.'”

She clings to the Bible verse that says, “don’t grow weary of doing good.”

What she wants you to know…

She is her own worst critic, and believes that most mom’s (including herself) feel like they are doing a horrible job. It seems that whatever decision a mom makes, she will second guess it. Moms are so hard on each other and themselves, comparing themselves to others. She wishes everyone would be a little kinder to each other. She is doing the best that she can, so please show her grace and don’t tell her how to parent her children.

“If I could [parent] any better or different, I already would have by now.”

How she stays sane…

Exercising helps her release extra energy. And she really enjoys walking with friends. If she is happier, then everyone else in the house is happier. Pouring into other people energizes her and makes her feel special and needed.

“All of that, and of course coffee!”

 


 

Oh mommas! We are all doing the best that we can. The Lord has given each of us our own particular children. No one can be a better mom to our children than us. No one. Let us encourage one another to be our own kind of mom.

 

xoxo

Expect Nothing, Gain Everything

My husband had (at least) two expectations that were not met when we got married. He thought I was going to make sweet tea everyday. And he thought we would fall asleep snuggling at night. He was disappointed.

Having expectations is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s kind of like having a goal. It’s something to work for and strive to attain. Without goals we would become complacent and stagnate. Some expectations, however, can rob us of enjoying what we have, and who we are with. It can discourage our souls and cause relationships to crumble. Let’s look at three areas expectations can cause disappointment…

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Expectations of Others

Problems arise when:

  1. The expectations are not communicated
  2. The expectations are unrealistic

Spouse:

As a woman I possess the power to read my husband’s mind and completely understand what he is needing at any given moment. Or, maybe not. So why do I expect him to read mine? Why do I expect him to know that I need something done around the house if I haven’t asked him to do it? Why do I expect him to know that I am struggling with fear if I don’t share with him?

There have been many times when he has “read my mind” and did exactly what I was hoping he would do. If I would remove my expectations, then instead of feeling frustrated when they are not met, I would feel cared for when they were. I don’t want my spouse to meet my expectations due to the fear of what will happen if he doesn’t. Rather I want him to meet them so that it will bless me when he does.

I also have learned am learning that I cannot expect my husband to be someone that he was not created to be. He is calm, level-headed, and steady (and praise the Lord that he is). I, on the other hand, am not. So when I am getting worked up about something and getting frustrated with him that he is not getting worked up, I am not being fair. I am expecting him to suddenly be a different person (but seriously, isn’t that so maddening when you’re upset about something and the other person just sits there so calm!).

Children:

For some reason I feel like my nearly 8 year old and 4 year old should have their acts together by now. Logically I know this is ridiculous, but my frustrations would show otherwise. I feel like I should only have to tell them one time to stop rubbing their hands on the wall, or to wash their hands before eating, or to give the dog food AND water, or pick up toys before bed, or… If it is unrealistic to expect my husband to know what I want, how can I expect this from my children. Of course, I don’t have to tell my husband to wash his hands, but for now I do need to tell my 4 year old. My 4 year old: I have to Tell. Him. Everything. He’s four. My 8 year old, I give hints. “What do you need to do before bed…?” And give him a chance to realize he needs to put his 4 million Lego’s away.

I’m still learning who my children are. I’m learning that my oldest may be super competitive with his brother, but not with friends. I want him to be competitive with sports, because he has the talent and that’s “what you’re suppose to do.” We keep putting him in sports and I keep getting frustrated that he is not aggressive enough. I’ve had a lightbulb moment. I’m trying to make him be someone he is not. And the thing is, I like who he is. He is sweet, and compassionate, and friendly.

 

Expectations of Ourselves

Problems arise when:

  1. We are expecting ourselves to be someone we are not
  2. We are expecting to achieve something unrealistic, and/or in an unrealistic time frame

I love to have dance parties. At home. With my children. I have always loved dancing. I have always danced badly. Thankfully, ever since college, this has not bothered me and I have accepted that I can’t dance and it doesn’t stop me from still enjoying myself. But when I was in middle school this was heartbreaking. I tried out for the dance team. Twice. Got cut on the the first go round. Twice. This is alright, I’m not scarred. But I did have to learn and accept the fact that this knobby knee’d girl looks awkward even doing the electric slide. After accepting this I was able to find a new love, running. And I still love it.

It’s also harmful to expect too much from ourselves within certain time restraints. I was naturally a good runner, but when it came to competing I expected too much too soon. My first race was 1500M (just shy of a mile) on in indoor track. I actually envisioned myself winning. Ended up I got lapped. I was expecting too much (and maybe a tad unrealistic) too soon.

After years of training I ended up running at a fairly competitive level. But I never “won gold.” And I was ok with that. There is ALWAYS somebody faster, smarter, wealthier. The most we can expect is our best. As long as we are doing that, we are good.

 

Expectations of Situations

Problems arise when:

  1. We try to control outcomes
  2. We depend on those outcomes

So many things are out of my control: taxes, weather, jobs, other people. And if I try to control those things I will end up living a life that leaves me feeling completely disappointed. There is nothing wrong with feeling disappointed when bad things happen. But ideally we don’t stay in that place, and instead use it as an opportunity.

My husband and I were married 15 years ago on a Friday. It just happened to be the 13th. As the ceremony was about to begin, I could hear people whispering around me in the room I was waiting in. Stress was rising. My sister-in-law came to me and said, “Remember what I said earlier about today being just a ceremony and that it’s your marriage that matters? And that there is bound to be something that will go wrong? Well, your florist thought the wedding was tomorrow. You have no flowers.” So I walked down the aisle holding tight to my dad with both arms. I rocked the no-flowers thing. People thought we did it on purpose.

It’s fine to plan and prepare, but then let go and remember what the main purpose is.

 


To Sum It Up…

 

Life would be more peaceful if we could live without unrealistic expectations. Even so, do expect to have expectations and remember it’s alright to “mess up.” That’s why we get to start over the next day.

Want some marital advice? Expect nothing.

Want some parenting advice? Expect nothing.

Want some how-to-enjoy-life-more advice? Expect nothing.

Expect nothing, and gain everything.

 

xoxo

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In Her Corner, episode 1

This is a series to learn about different moms and their different situations. Through interviewing these women and sharing their stories I hope that we can all have a better understanding and appreciation of each other. Hopefully we can support and encourage her “in her corner.”

 



 

Who she is…

She is a mom like many others. Maybe even a bit like you and me. She wants what is best for her son and is trying to figure out the best way to do it. Where her story may differ is with her son. It was recently confirmed what she had long suspected: Her four year old son was diagnosed with autism. Now, when she is deciding what school to send him to there is more weight as she considers all the variables. Now, when she is planning her days she needs to consider all the events that may increase his anxiety.

What her days look like…

Even though she has just the one son, she is on the go a lot. He is in school for half a day, 5 days a week. During the school day she is either working or volunteering or feeding her soul in a Bible study. She would like to find a moment to relax, but usually finds herself eating lunch in the car and trying to find time to use the restroom. After school she juggles a busy schedule including appointments for speech, early intervention, and occupational therapy.

With all of her busyness, and stress, and frustrations, as well as joy and excitement, she finds that she needs to rely on prayer, family support, and exercise to get through each day with her sanity.

What she struggles with…

She struggles with patience. She’s a no-nonsense kinda gal. She wants to instruct her son in a calm tone, knowing it is more effective. But sometimes she resorts to raising her voice which only temporarily addresses the issue, and leads to more difficulties later (as a child with autism he copies to excess, so when she yells, he yells). He is not yet able to identify the reason for his emotions, which tend to be explosive, and this is frustrating for her. She wants to know what the problem is so she can fix it. But he is just not able to tell her.

She struggles with being controlling. She wants him to do what she wants him to do when she wants it done. She aims to allow him to be his own person. To let him learn and grow to be the person he is meant to be.

What her strengths are…

Her past experience of being a teacher has taught her how to plan and schedule while being able to bend when something unexpected arises. Each week she has a plan so her household flows smoothly. In the mornings, over breakfast, she talks with her son about the day ahead and does role-playing so he will know what to do and say in certain situations. Or perhaps it includes looking at pictures online of new places they will be going. But even with all her preparations and planning, there is sure to be something that will come up. And that’s when she makes the most of the moment and teaches him how to be flexible and adventurous.

What her fears are…

When her and her husband received their son’s diagnosis, she felt alone. She was jealous of other “normal” families and felt that people couldn’t, and wouldn’t, understand. She was afraid that she would be stuck in this hardship forever and never experience the “sweet spot” of parenting where she could relax and enjoy the moment. But her biggest fear has been that her son would get to the point of where he feels uncomfortable in his own skin, and feels hurt because he is different.

What her joys are…

From these fears have come the joys of finding community and experiencing the goodness of people. By speaking up, she has found other families to journey with that are facing this same challenge. People that have and are walking the same road have been there to encourage her and support her with advice and recommendation

Her fear of watching her son struggle socially is balanced with the joy of seeing the progress he has made with how he interacts with his peers. It give her hope for the future. She is believing her son is going to be ok.  Some days are so easy and some days are so hard, but she knows that he is doing his best each day. And she is doing the best she can the skills she possesses. And she knows that tomorrow is a new day.

What she wants you to know…

She needs you to know and trust that every child and every family is doing the best they can and are trying to do what is best. Ideally we could accept that people in general are doing the best they can. Also, please know that children with special needs need a pat on the back. People don’t realize how much work went into accomplishing a simple task that many take for granted.