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.

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Freedom from The Mommy Guilt

Aha! Aha! A few weeks ago, a light bulb went off. I was sitting at a women’s conference (Tara Furman’s uh-maz-ing “Making a Difference in My Generation” conference), listening intently, taking notes, when all of the sudden a distracting thought smacked me across the face. Really. She was talking about something mostly unrelated. But, still, somehow in the midst of her words, a thought came over me and I haven’t been able to shake it.

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It’s about that good ‘ole Mommy Guilt. Some of you know it well. Some of you don’t let it bug you. Either way, get this — All of the “mommy guilt” (or, honestly, any guilt for that matter) that we are always talking about/thinking about/fretting about — IT’S NOT REAL! Hello, people! Oh. My. Gosh. It’s just so simple all of the sudden. It’s so clear. How did we not see it all along? It’s just not real. Can it be?! Can it be that easy. Holy freedom! All it is … all the “guilt” really is, is the devil telling us that we aren’t enough. IT’S THE DEVIL TELLING US THAT WE AREN’T ENOUGH. That sneaky little bastard. He whispers it. He yells it. When we are running late. When our houses are littered with toys. When we work an extra hour one night. When we ignore work to read two more bedtime stories. When we let the littles eat waffles for dinner. When we forgot to put a single veggie on their plate. When the library books are overdue. He whispers quietly, “Hhhheeeyyyyy, you should have done better. You should be more. You should get it together. You should be able to do. it. all……” He whispers these little lies in our ears and we believe him. But, y’all, he’s a liar! He’s a notorious liar! He wants us to think we aren’t enough. But we ARE! We are ENOUGH! He wants us to think God doesn’t love us; that God doesn’t have our backs. But, He DOES! We are amazing mothers! We work hard. In and out. Every single day. We love. We give. We pray. We try. We fall. We get back up. We’ve got this. “The eternal God is your refuge, and his everlasting arms are under you” (Deut. 33:27a) and … WE ARE ENOUGH! Repeat after me:

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So, whatever is guilting you today. Give it up. Turn it over. March on. You got this! Don’t forget. God made you. He loves you. YOU are exactly who you need to be.

Stop Comparing – Focus On YOUR Gifts

I continue to take my eyes off of the prize. I continue to slip. To look around. To watch others. And, you know what … when this happens, I start to feel a shift inside of me. I start comparing. I compare. It’s no good. It’s simply bad for me. But, it’s a truth that I struggle with. It’s not quite as green and ugly as straight up envy or jealously. It’s more subtle, swirling around inside of me and whispering, “You need that. You should have that, too. That is so cute. You deserve that.” Maybe the fact that it’s so subtle is what makes it so evil. I don’t think that I feel envious of others. I don’t feel jealous. So, I don’t even notice that it’s happening. Yet, when I give in – when I start comparing, I stop focusing on what’s truly important and I fall, like Alice, down a materialistic shaped rabbit hole. So, how do I stop, ya know, “coveting thy neighbor’s kitchen“?

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I know y’all love Glennon over at Momastery, right?! If you don’t know who I’m talking about, you need to. I think she’s probably the Queen of the Mommy/Woman Blogging World. That’s what I’ll call her. Queen G. She is always honest and brutiful, and she says, “I think comparison and competition exist partly because we believe that there is a scarcity of good things in the universe. And that belief makes us kind of small and scared and unable to feel true joy for others or peace for ourselves.” Wow, right?! But, there is enough, y’all. And, WE are ENOUGH.

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Why do we think we need MORE all of the time?? It’s something that’s been weighing on my heart and mind a lot lately. Why do you think you need more? Why are we all constantly looking to the next better thing? Ugh. It feels kinda gross, doesn’t it? It feels sinful and ugly for sure. Why do I think I need more? I have everything. I am in love with my husband, and he happens to adore me too. I like our marriage. A lot. We have two healthy, beautiful, contagiously happy children and a fantastically, loyal doggy companion. We have LOVE. We own our own home and have food in the fridge. We have cars to drive. I have supportive and loving parents, that also happen to be supportive and loving grandparents. I get along with my mother-in-law. She’s kinda awesome. What more is there? For real?!

Maybe I need to spend a little less time daydreaming about what color my cabinets are … and more time encouraging the fruits of the spirit within my children.

Maybe I need to spend less time looking at houses online and more time reading The Word, writing from my heart and creating something beautiful.

Maybe I need to spend less time thinking about what I can do better or how I can be better … when the truth is I am already enough. I am enough. We are enough.

The materialistic things that I don’t have, the things that I think that I want or need, won’t make me more. They won’t make me more of anything. That won’t make me happier or more fulfilled. Things don’t make us more or less. They are things. They are JUST things. We are not defined by what we have. We are not defined by THINGS.

Our lives are not meant to be the same as someone else’s. Our things aren’t meant to be the same. And, our GIFTS are not meant to be the same as someone else’s. At times, we might even find greatness in the midst of our own imperfection. We must embrace it. We must share it. We were created unique for a reason. We may to0 often analyze ourselves and focus on where we think we are lacking. We may consider something to be a weakness … when, in fact, that “weakness” may be the very thing that inspires or saves someone else. So, let’s stop. Or, attempt to stop. Or, at the very least, let’s just tone it all down a bit. Let’s stop looking around to see what everyone else is doing and wearing and keep focused. Keep our eyes fixed on The Lord. Feed our hearts and our souls.

“We were made for so much more than ordinary lives. It’s time for us to more than just survive. We were made to fly!” (Casting Crowns)

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing they way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)

“Oh, don’t worry; we wouldn’t dare say that we are as wonderful as these other men who tell you how important they are! But they are only comparing themselves with each other, using themselves as a standard of measurement. How ignorant.” (2 Corinthians 10:12)

“Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.” (Galatians 1:7)

 

Photo Credit: 1.  Thrive Moms – Empowering Imperfect Moms With His Perfect Grace. 2. Momastery – Truth Tells and Hope Spreaders. Check ’em out!

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!

The Jesse Tree – A New Tradition

First, with a thankful heart, I wish you a lovely Thanksgiving. I hope you are spending the holiday loving on your sweet family. But, if you aren’t, if your day will be spent working, or if the holiday feels bittersweet to you … my prayers are with you …

Honestly, though, today my heart is focused on the upcoming Christmas holiday. I’ve tried to plan a little more this year … though to be perfectly honest, we all know what happens when we plan … life laughs in the face of our plans, right? But, by plan, I don’t mean decorate or prepare my home. I haven’t even touched any of that yet. My decorations are still in the attic. Maybe next year I’ll “plan” to decorate earlier. This year, I’ve been attempting to prepare my heart for the holiday. I truly want to focus our family’s thoughts and hearts on The Lord this year, as He is The Reason For The Season after all. There will still be plenty of Santa, our Elf-On-The-Shelf, Christmas cookies, Christmas movies and reindeer in our house. We do love those things too! But, I want to raise my children with a clear focus toward God. What better time to start then now?

Have you heard of the Jesse Tree? Maybe you have. Maybe you’ve been doing it for years. If so, good for you! I’d love to hear from you about how your family incorporates this tradition. Feel free to comment below and share with the rest of us. If you are like me, and you are just discovering this amazing tradition, maybe you can start with me …

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I was initially inspired by an article on Missional Motherhood (which is a fantastic resource for women, by the way) titled Teaching Your Children His Story With The Jesse Tree. So, what is the Jesse Tree? To put it simply, it is an advent re-telling of the lineage of Christ. It’s told in a chronological way (from Creation to the birth of Jesus) that makes more sense to our children … and, honestly, to us too. Each day, starting either after Thanksgiving or on December 1st, a new ornament (one that you can create, download, buy, etc.) is put on your Jesse Tree, representing the story for that day. My plan is to keep this tradition as simple as possible this year as my children are only 4 and 1. Then, I’ll grow it as they grow. I don’t want this to feel like a hassle, something else that we have to do. I want it to be enjoyable, easy, fun and meaningful. This year, we will read the Bible verses and story for each day together, then we will create the ornament for the day with foam paper, crayons, markers and yarn. The ornaments will be messy, childlike and … wonderful! I’m going to place a small tree in the dining room that will act as our Jesse Tree. The Littles can add their handmade ornament each day and decorate this tree as they choose. I’m not looking for pretty or perfect here. I’m looking for meaning and memories.

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The goal, with the Jesse Tree, is to have a more intentional Christmas. To approach the holiday with faith and the desire for our children (and ourselves) to grow spiritually. To create meaningful traditions and memories, while allowing the Holy Spirit to illuminate their precious hearts to be drawn to Him.

Let’s do it. Let’s create meaning.

A list of helpful resources for you:

Missional Motherhood

Ann Voskamp

Blessed Beyond a Doubt

Halloween Recap

Yes, Halloween is over. The costumes have been tucked away. Thanksgiving and Christmas is just around the corner … and already filling our minds. Yet, I just have to take a day to recap our 2014 Halloween costumes. This year, we went the DIY route and I’m thrilled with how they turned out. Of course, I’m no seamstress and couldn’t have done it without the help of my mother (N & A’s talented Gram). I mean, really, they would not have had these costumes without her.

N wanted to be The Man With The Yellow Hat. It truly was the most fitting costume that he could have chosen for himself. He’s loved his Curious “Georgie” for nearly a year and a half now. That stuffed George of his looks loved too, let me tell you. So, I was pretty thrilled that he selected such a unique costume, and one that was just so HIM. However, a brief Google search showed that there weren’t any Man With The Yellow Hat costumes for kids. None. Amazon offers an adult version, but that wouldn’t help us any. So, I enlisted the help of good ‘ole Gram and we tackled N’s costume together. She really did the hard part. She sewed yellow pants and a yellow shirt. I made the yellow tie and the yellow hat.

I started with a basic, black, kids-sized witch hat and yellow felt. Then, really, I just went for it. I wish I had step-by-step DIY instructions that I could share with you, but I don’t. I just held my breath and got started. My goal – to cover the witches hat with yellow felt, make it less pointy on top, and reassemble The Man’s yellow hat as much as possible. Perfection was NOT the goal. And, after doing, I’m so glad it wasn’t, because I sure didn’t achieve the PERFECT yellow hat. But, I did achieve my goal!

As for the tie, I simply used one of N’s ties as a guide, traced it onto the felt, cut out separate pieces, and hot-glued it together. I doubled the felt so that the tie would be thicker and I left room at the top (knot) to thread the elastic through so that N could easily wear it around his neck. I’ll admit, the tie was easy. The hat …. not easy.

In the end, N was The Man With The Yellow Hat. He looked awesome. He felt awesome. It was ALL awesome!

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Next came A’s costume. This was her first REAL Halloween. Last year, she was an itty-bitty 2-month-old and I didn’t put her in a costume. This year, A’s one and this momma wanted to have some fun! Plus, A didn’t care about Halloween. She didn’t have multiple ideas and opinions about what she wanted to be (unlike a certain brother of hers). She didn’t even really know what was going on … she was just along for the ride. So, I just had to, HAD TO do one more “peach” themed something for our little Peachie. I just couldn’t help myself. I had seen a Rockford Peach costume on Pinterest months earlier and I couldn’t get it out of my head. It was perfect for her, really. And, A League of Their Own had always been one of my favorite movies. SOOO… Gram to the rescue once more! She found an adorable little dress pattern, some peachie pink fabric and she created the sweetest little dress for A. I found Rockford Peach patches on Etsy and a tiny red hat on Amazon, and Ta-Da…. a costume was born!!

Here she is in all of her Rockford Peach baseball glory! My Little Miss Peachie!

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Hope y’all enjoy our costumes as much as we did! Happy Halloween!

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.