Raleigh Moms Blog

FullSizeRender (7)Y’all. I’ve missed you. I’ve missed sharing this space, this time and my thoughts with you. It hasn’t been the same without a lovely place to connect. Unfortunately, as I mentioned in My Life vs. Writing about My Life, the little people have been busy taking up all of my time, all of my energy and all of the space in my head where my writing occurs. And, so I pulled back from Elle Bee Lovely. I let go for a little while. I accepted the happy chaos around me … even if that meant I stopped writing as much. This place will still remain and, hopefully, grow again soon! I have dreams and hopes for us!

In the meantime, you can find me over at Raleigh Moms Blog, where I’m a new contributor. Yay! I’m excited to be adding my voice to their collection of fun, inspiring women!

In their own words Raleigh Moms Blog is “more than just an awesome site providing entertaining content to moms in the Triangle and throughout the country, we hope to be a positive representation of the city we love!” I’m thrilled to be part of their growing them!

 

 

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My Life vs. Writing about My Life

I want to write. I do. I want to curl up with a hot cup of coffee and my computer. I want to sit and write and share my soul with you. I want to think and read and reflect and consider and ponder and imagine and … write. That’s what I want to do. But, I’m sure that my absence from the world of blogging would reveal that what I want isn’t always what happens. It’s, quite honestly, rarely what happens. That type of quiet time is simply a luxury that I currently don’t possess. And, it’s fine. I’ve accepted it. I like the happy chaos that surrounds me. But, quiet time to write is just a bit elusive. Which means less time for Elle Bee Lovely. Less time for you, my dears. Less time for me.

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I’ve been a Stay-At-Home-Mom for two years now. TWO YEARS! I can not believe it. Where did two years go?! It’s not possible. It’s just not. I remember my last day of work, walking to my car at the end of the day, walking away from my lovely team at The Green Kangaroo, as if it were just a few months ago. I was excited then, and maybe a tad apprehensive, for a new adventure with my babies. And, what an adventure it has been!! N was going on 3 then and A was still baking in my belly. Now, N will turn 5 (FIVE?!) late this summer and A will be 2. Time flies! I mean, it really flies, doesn’t it?! Sure, the days can be, at times, long. Some days, really long. But, even still, it goes quick. Staying at home is, well, not quite what I expected and exactly what I expected, if that makes sense. It is easily the hardest I’ve ever worked. Easily. And, maybe that’s because it’s so many roles in one and you never, ever go off the clock. And, I’m so invested in it. I love it. I’m rewarded by it. I care so much about it. I desperately want to get it right. The “SAHM” title makes me chuckle though. It’s not-so-accurate. It doesn’t bother me and I don’t spend much time thinking about that sort of thing. But, still … we don’t really “stay at home.” We go everywhere. We do all the things. My mom (who was also a SAHM) still talks about a male family friend who used to laugh when she’d say that she stayed home with her children and say, “Your house must be so clean! Do you just sit around and watch soap operas?” Clearly he had no clue. No. Clue. We go out and about nearly every day … parks, playgrounds, pools, libraries, play dates, Chick-fil-a, shopping, errands. We go out. And, some days, we don’t. Some days, we stay in. We (I) clean, we relax, we make messes, we do art projects, we color, we play, we build legos, we go for walks, we play outside, we make cookies, we read, we laugh, we dance, we watch movies, we kiss, we hug. Whether we are out or we’re at home, we are always doing something. It sounds idyllic, doesn’t it? I’m snorting a little as I write this, because it sounds so fun, so easy, so carefree. And, it is lovely. It is special. It is a blessing. But, it is not easy breezy. Because, in listing all the “fun” things that we get to do, I’ve left out all the other things — the tears that happen as we drive around town — the hundreds of cups of juice/milk/water that must be filled and not forgotten — the snacks and messes and spills that happen in the car — the kid who needs to pee just as we pull onto the highway — the other kid that howls like she’s being tortured most of the time that she’s in her carseat — the diapers that must be changed at the most inconvenient times — the lost pacifiers — how much you sweat as you are attempting to get everyone seated for what “appears” to be a simple lunch out — the boo-boos that must be kissed — the toys that are All Over The House at all times — the cleaning up and putting away that never ends — the laundry — the way everything seems to fall completely apart right as you are trying to fix lunch and dinner (don’t even get me started on dinner) — the silly battles that happen — and on and on and on. That list above, that sweet list of all the things we do … it needs to also include these: we cry, we yell, we argue, we sit in time-out, we make-up, we negotiate, we talk it out, we color on walls, we stomp our feet, we throw tantrums, some of us throw food, we use some mean words, we pray, we are sticky, we make other things sticky, we say “I’m sorry”, we pray some more, we love. We love. Through all things – we love. And, we sweat. Did I mention that? I had no idea. I was never much of a Sweaty Betty, but motherhood is sweaty. I’m not kidding. It’s one of those things that no one tells you. That kids make you sweat. You should know that. They should put that on the warning label that comes with the children. Ohhh wait, that’s right! 🙂 A few weeks ago N, A and I met a group from N’s awesome pre-school (Grow Pre-school, if you are curious) for a rainy morning at an indoor mall playground and a food-court lunch. As we struggled with our strollers and trays of food; as we struggled to get all of our children seated, to get their plastic placemats stuck down (only for them to be ripped right back up); as we struggled to get everyone’s meat cut and drinks handed out and to avoid ketchup spills; as we just struggled in general – I looked across the table at one of the other mommas and she, literally, had beads of sweat covering her forehead and another momma was fanning herself as sweat ran down her face, and it wasn’t even that hot. We were just … working hard. And, then, we finally get to eat … for 35 seconds and then someone has to pee again and then someone else is crying to get out of her highchair. So, yeah … it is the life of leisure …

Did I mention that I’ve been a SAHM for two years now?! Ha ha! Don’t get me wrong. I celebrate it. I do. It may be challenging. It may be hard. But, it’s beautiful. It’s my beautiful, messy adventure and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Not anything.

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In trying to balance it, trying to figure it all out, I’ve let the writing (among a list of other things) slide. You’ll hear from me still. Just, less, for now. A is growing and napping less and demanding more. N is out of school for the summer. Any quiet time that I may have had, seems to have floated away and it’s remaining just beyond my grasp. And, yet, it’s okay. I’m allowing myself to be okay with it. Give yourself the gift of letting yourself off the hook. One can not do it all or have it all, despite what society may say. One still must prioritize. And, it’s just a season, remember. In the long run, this time will be a little sliver out of my life. Probably the best, most cherished, little silver. I’ll have plenty of “me time” in the years to come. This is my “momma with littles” season. I’m choosing to embrace it. Let’s embrace it. Let’s own it. Let’s roll with it. Let’s make it the best damn season under the sun!!!

Xoxo

Being Still

Sometimes, some days, my heart just gets caught up in all of it. In all of the … the mothering. And, I start to forget. I forget the point of it all. I start yearning to hear God’s voice. I start aching for … more. I start feeling like I should be doing more of something.

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The past few weeks have been harder than most. Full of chaos, tears, tantrums, sickness, teething, messes, more tantrums and just … soooo many needs that must be met. I’ve felt pushed and stretched and tested. I’ve felt raw, vulnerable, exposed. I’ve felt like a big, giant failure. Yes, there will always be days like this. Weeks like this. Days when motherhood will take all that you have to give, and then ask you to give even more. It’s easy to get caught up. Lost. That’s what was happening. I was starting to lose myself to these types days. Starting to drown in them.

But, then … yesterday happened. The sun was bright and warm against my skin. I had a few minutes to myself (let’s be honest, I was going to the doctor, but still … I was alone.) I felt … something more. And then, today happened. Today, my sweet girl (who doesn’t like to be held) actually fell asleep in my arms. This is so rare. Sooo rare. She typically pushes me away and reaches for her bed. Yes, honestly. She’s only 20 months. It’s tragic. I know. So, when she let me hold her for longer than 1.2 seconds, I was immediately in tears. I was in tears and thanking God for this sweet gift. This precious moment to just let go, be still and stare at her. I took in her beautiful baby profile, her flawless skin, her sweet smell, the gentleness of her breathing. Time stood still. Everything got quiet. My mind. My heart. In that moment, I pictured her … I pictured her jumping into crisp, beautiful lake water – feeling the coolness on her skin. I pictured her laying in the grass watching the clouds roll by. Feeling the fresh wind of spring on her face. The spray of saltwater on her warm skin. The butterflies that come with new love. The warm sand beneath her toes. The voice of God within her heart. The feel of her own baby in her strong arms. I just sat there, held her and glimpsed into her future … and let the quietness carry me…

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As time started moving again, as I laid her in her bed, I knew I had been given a gift. A moment of stillness with my growing girl. A moment of calm during days of storm. A chance to hear God’s voice in my own heart. A confirmation that I’ve been needing. I’ve been praying and seeking – wanting to know the plan. The next step. Yearning to understand what I’m supposed to be doing. What I’m supposed to be writing. If this blog should be growing. But, clarity comes … with stillness, clarity comes … and the voice I’ve been seeking has been trying to answer me all along. “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10) Be still. Be STILL. And know. He’ll let me in on the next step when it’s time. Right now, it’s not time. I’m right where I’m supposed to be. This is my season in the sun with the littles. These are short, precious years. “Be still.” THIS is what I’m supposed to be doing. Being “Mommy”. The rest … He’ll reveal it all in time. I can rest in that beautiful knowledge.

XOXO

Side Note: My sweet husband, R, sent me a link to this video and it was exactly what I needed to watch. It’s short and sweet … if you want to check it out. I already loved Joanna Gaines from Fixer Upper and Magnolia Homes, but now I love her even more.

Photo Credit: The top photo is from Janna at Yellow Prairie Interior Design. I love following her Instagram page and snatched this photo to share with y’all. Isn’t she awesome? Also, the “Be Still” sign, as well as the other, are from The Rustic Orange. The bottom photo is from The Secret Place Ministries.

Learning to Trust – A Testimony

Am I asking all the wrong questions? Lately, I think – yes – I am. I have been. Maybe?

You see, a little while ago, almost a year now,  I (we) … without uttering any actual words because they seemed so cliche somehow and they don’t feel like the right fit … but, I suppose, for lack of a better phrase, we re-dedicated our lives to The Lord. We are trying. One day at a time. To break free. To learn as much as we can and grow as much as we can. To live IN Christ. To walk by faith. To trust. To experience his fullness. To surrender. At this point in my life, I’m ready. It feels different now. I grew up in church. I grew up loving The Lord. Then … I dunno. I drifted. I guess, I drifted slowly, yet steadily, away from God. I took my eyes off of him and looked toward the world. I even wanted to be part of it, to experience it. I was young. I thought it would be living. I spent years and years there, just drifting along. I thought it was okay, and, in a lot of ways, I was okay. I thought it wasn’t a big deal. I thought I was fine. I thought I still had a “relationship” with God. He remained in my heart. I knew he was still there, watching out for me. Yet, somewhere along the way, I got lost. I kept putting Him off … waiting for another day. A better time. When I’m not so busy. When I don’t need to sleep in on Sundays. When R and I are ready. When the baby is a little older. Excuses. Excuses. My whole life was worldly and not of God. I realize it. I always realized it. I just ignored it … to be honest. Which is, exactly what I’m being – honest. Raw. Honest. Vulnerable. Truthful. Me.

You see, I am not a person who generally sees things as black and white. I just don’t. I see gray. I see hundreds of shades of gray. I even tend to live in the gray. I can usually (usually, not always) empathize and sympathize and understand why some people may do the things that they do. It seems to me, that so many Christians that I know and have known in the past are so easily convicted. They seem to see things as “wrong” vs. “right.” I’ve always struggled with this because it’s not always how I’ve been and I didn’t understand. I didn’t understand why it seemed so easy for them. I didn’t, and still don’t, always see “wrong” and “right” as defined spaces or things. And, so, for much of my life I held myself separate from other Christians. I was afraid to be part of a church. Afraid of hypocrisy or judgement. I was afraid to feel convicted (I understand that now, but I couldn’t then.) I was afraid of … something. But, I was wrong. I was wrong. I was focused on the wrong thing. I was missing the point entirely. The point was HIM.

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Luckily, His loving grace is so good. He waited for me to let Him back it. Now, I want It in a way I never truly did when I was younger. I realize that my hesitation is unimportant. That the wrong vs. right isn’t really what matters. The “rules” don’t matter. It’s my heart that matters. The Lord will take care of all of the rest. He will show me the way. He will show me my own ‘right’ way. He will convict me, change me, challenge me and inspire me. Now. Now, the desire to truly know my Lord is there. I understand clearly that I’m not in control. That my life is His. Yet, I stumble daily. I struggle with true trust and true surrender.

We’ve been tested lately. I don’t know what else to think … what else to call it, but a test…
October. November. December. Things have happened. Things still happen. Financially, things happen. As homeowners and car owners, things happen. Money is tight. We are unsure. The same questions keep forming. Why? Why can’t it be easier? Why can’t the money come more freely? Why does this keep happening? What are You trying to teach us?
I am trying to throw off my worldly desires … To cry. To yell. To question. To fall apart. To CONTROL it. I don’t get to control any of it. It’s not mine to control. Where is my trust? What questions should I be asking? What lessons should we be learning? Are we not understanding? Are we not getting it?

The truth is, right now I don’t know. I’m not here to tell you that I have the answers. I’m here to tell you that I don’t. I don’t have the answers. Maybe you don’t either. Maybe you are trying too. Let’s keep trying. We don’t need answers all of the time. We need God’s Word. We need trust. Let’s trust. And, until that trust comes more naturally, let’s keep trying to trust. My heart knows that there is a lesson to learn. Probably many, many lessons. Read/Pray/Trust/Obey. Xoxo

Photo Credit: photo from (In)Courage, a lovely online community that’s “Insta-awesome“)

A Fresh, New Year. Hello, 2015!

The new year opens before us like a fresh, crisp notebook – waiting to be filled, written in, inspired. Welcome. I’ve always liked the beginning of a new year. A chance to start fresh. A chance to move forward. December is a time for me to step away, to look back, to reflect, and to surround myself with love and memories. This year I was able to fully embrace all of it. I took advantage of all of it. I actually, really, stepped away. I didn’t write, at all, in December, and I hope you’ve missed me. I hate to take long blog breaks, but during this season of my life, my littles are my very top priority. I gladly let everything else slide, as we truly enjoyed every day of December – of this Christmas season. It was such a special year. N is 4. A is 16 months. It was magical. We baked, we played, we created, we read, we crafted, we put together a special Jesse Tree, we decorated, we explored, we looked at lights, we visited Santa, we shopped, we played more, we baked more. It was easily one of the best holidays I’ve ever had. We were together. We enjoyed!

Now, January is here and it’s time for a new beginning. Fresh air. New hopes. Possibility. Let’s all just take a deep breath together. Ahh. And, onward march. For me, there are no resolutions. I make goals, plans, lists, etc. But, I don’t make resolutions. I just don’t. I don’t make A New Years Resolution. I find them discouraging somehow. Disappointing. Stifling. Rather, I make a list if things I’d like to happen. The key word is “like.” I’d like these things to happen. If they don’t, it’s okay. They give me something to work toward. Goals. Projects I’d like to tackle. Dreams for the future. Plans (if they be God’s will) for the year. Generally they follow the same sort of tune and this year is no different. Organize and Simplify. But, this year I want to take it a step further. Organize. Simplify. Deepen. Not just our home, our routine and our lives – but, also our hearts, our spirits and our bodies. There are lots of things, words and ideas that fall under these categories. Lots. But this is the gist … of my list (insert snort/chuckle). To organize, simplify and deepen. And, the big word for the year, I believe, is TRUST. We made great strides, spiritually, in 2014. Huge strides. Huge changes. We joined a church. We actually GO. We are becoming more involved. R was baptized. Like I said, big strides. This year, we will attempt to go further. To trust more completely. Stress less. Worry less. “Read, Pray, Trust, Obey.” These words will be our guide as we tackle our lists, goals, plans and dreams.

Let’s take one more deep breath. Ahh. Hello, 2015!! Let’s make it a joyful year!

Letting Go of “Picture Perfect”

For the past several months, maybe longer, I’ve been thinking about perfection. I’ve been watching myself. I’ve attempted to observe my behavior – to get to know myself better. It’s kind-of a hard thing to do. It’s definitely a work in progress. It’s been over a year now, since I left my full-time job for the Stay-At-Home-Mom gig. And, a lot has changed. A lot HAD to change. Before, I’d (we’d) spent 8-9 hours a day outside of the house. It was easier, somehow, to keep things tidy, picked up, put away. Now, spending my days at home with tiny mess-makers makes it nearly impossible to keep up with normal order, much less anything that reassembles perfection. I mean, how many times can one person clean up a kitchen?! For real?! I realized, fairly quickly, that my natural inclination toward order, toward a controlled environment, wasn’t going to cut it. It took awhile before I could pinpoint the problem. But, I did.  It’s Perfectionism. The urge for perfection is the main thing that robs me of peace. I want everything to be clean, neat, pretty, organized and tidy. But, it isn’t. Life isn’t. Life is NOT clean, neat, pretty, organized or tidy. So, I’ve slowly come to the realization that if I want to live my life with peace and happiness amidst the chaos of motherhood, I have to let go of perfection. I have to Let. It. Go.

I’ve been trying to spend more time in God’s Word lately. It’s something that has been missing from my life for far too long. I knew that I had spiritually drifted. I just didn’t realize how far. Now, I’m trying to study, learn and grow. During a recent Bible study lesson, I read that, “without God we’re incomplete, not yet finished, not who we should be. And, we all feel this; we know we should be different than we are. We try to fix ourselves, but we can’t.” Now, I don’t know about y’all, but I just had to sit there and let those words sink in for a while. It was an Aha! moment. As in, Aha – we were actually meant to be perfect. We were created in God’s perfect likeness. But, Eve’s sin changed all of that. Afterwards, we were no longer perfect. We were no longer what we were meant to be. We were incomplete and imperfect. We will never be perfect. We will never be everything we want or need to be. And, we all feel that. All the time. That missing piece. Once I let this all sink, it just hit me. No wonder! No wonder I’m like this! Aha! But, after that Aha! moment came and even better realization. We don’t have to worry about it. We don’t have to worry about being perfect. That’s the most amazing part. Jesus took care of that for us. We don’t have to want a perfection that will never come. It’s kinda freeing isn’t it? It allows us to breathe. It allows us to rest in Him. Let’s do that. Let’s breathe and Let. It. Go.

So, what now? What does it look like if I stop longing for perfection? Truthfully, I don’t know yet. I’m still trying to figure it out. I’m still trying to stop. It’s not natural for me. Messy bothers me. Clutter gets under my skin. I can’t just turn that off so easily. I can, however, stop beating myself up about it. I don’t have to always like the way my house looks or the way that I look, BUT, I can stop feeling bad about it. Stop feeling like LESS because of it. Breathe out negativity and perfectionism. Breathe in rest, calm and peace (amidst chaos of course.) What if I just go ahead and say that no perfect people are welcome here – in my life, in my home, on this blog? Right? No perfect people. Of course, that means that you are all still welcome. That everyone is still welcome. Including myself. That means that we are off the hook a little bit. If I throw a party and it’s good, but not quite perfect, and a little off-balance, it’s okay. It’s even welcome. If you come to a girls night and your toenails aren’t painted and you have a little PB&J on your shirt, it’s okay. You are welcome here. I am welcome. If I spend the day with my kids at the pool and my hair is in a wet bun, it’s okay. I can still go out to dinner. I don’t have to be perfect to BE. There are toys that line my floor at any given point. It’s just the way my house looks right now. And, if I’m truthfully honest, it doesn’t bother me as much as it used to. I’m getting over it. I’m letting it go. I’m going to go ahead and choose to say that it looks happy. It looks loved. It looks like memories are being made here. Y’all! It looks happy! I’m gonna pick happy over perfect, aren’t you? I can fight it and feel terrible about it OR I can embrace it and feel happy that I have two little people filling my home with joy and toys and mess and laughter. I’m going to embrace it. The dishes are endless, the dishwasher always needs emptied, the laundry always needs folded. I’m never quite caught up. I don’t know why, but in my crazy-woman-mom-brain I’ve always felt like if I were more, if I were better, all of these things would be done. My house would be tidy. My kids would be happy. My nails would be painted. My hair would look flawless. I would always have make up on. I would shower. Every day. I wouldn’t have snot on my shoulder or food on my shirt. Gah! I’m letting it go. Because, really … it’s not making me happy. It’s stealing my happiness. I don’t know why it’s taking me so long to realize this. What makes me happy is simply being with my babies. Holding them, watching them, smelling them. Even if that means forsaking the other things, the perfection, the overall look of having it all together. Let it go! It’s time to let go of that “picture perfect” image in our heads. We tried this with the “I’m Sorries”, didn’t we? That went really well, don’t y’all think? We let THAT go. Now we need to let “picture perfect” go. It’s holding all of us #GoodEnoughMomma’s back. It’s clouding the way we see life. It doesn’t lead to the happiness that we imagine it leading to. Embracing our imperfections, our gifts, God’s beautiful plan for our lives and building from there … that leads to happy.

 

Update: Letting Go of the Sorries

A few months ago I set out on a quest to free myself of all of those unnecessary “Sorries”, with an article called Letting Go: No More Sorries. I quickly realized two things. ONE: I’m not alone. So many of you related! I was a little surprised. Why do we do this to ourselves? WHY do we feel the need to apologize when there is nothing to apologize for?!? And, TWO: Old habits might die hard, but they still die!

How is your journey of “No More Sorries” going? I’ve been determined. I’ve done well. I’ve got some more work to do, of course, and from time to time I catch myself slipping back into the habit of using an apology in place of a comma, but for the most part … this is working, y’all! I catch myself right before (or sometimes right after) I apologize. I stop. I think. Am I sorry? No! Then, gasp, I don’t say it! It’s been transforming, freeing and just plain good for me.

Then. I saw this lovely Pantene commercial and it played right into what I’ve been thinking and saying. They chose to focus only on women, and it got some negative feedback, which I guess I get. It’s true that anyone can be an over-apologizer … it’s not necessarily a “women’s” issue. I do get that. But, I watched it. I didn’t over-think it. I didn’t over-analyze it. I just watched it. And, I just happen to think it’s lovely. Check it out…

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What do y’all think? Do you like it? I’d love to hear your thoughts and how you are doing on the road to “No More Sorries!”