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Parenting: The first step is to admit you are one.

This is the post excerpt.

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Hey there everyone. My name is Amber, and I am a parent. Sometimes, parenting can seem like a 12 step program. First, we have to admit that once that baby crowns, we are powerless over parenting and left unchecked it can make our lives seem unmanageable. Next, we have got to come to believe that only a Higher Power can restore us to sanity (Jesus, fix it). As a parent you are going to have to make amends, a lot. Amends for the fact that no one is a perfect parent (sorry perfect social media moms, we are on to you). Amends for the fact that you are going to have to live with imperfect kids, no matter what your bumper sticker says. We (as parents, or alcoholics) will have to continue to take personal inventory and admit when we are wrong. Finally, and really by this point I am starting to think the founder of the AA model was really also writing a parenting book, we have to humbly ask God to remove our shortcomings. Parenting is HARD. There is no other way to put it. However, it is also hilarious and wonderful and the best way to get ourselves out of our own way. There is no room for things like pride or vanity when you are coming off a three day ear infection bender covered in someone else’s bodily functions. There is no filter for that. In this blog I want to provide some stories from my own journey as a mom of four to make this thing called parenting seem a little more normal and (hopefully) a lot more joyful.

 

Confessions of a bad classroom mom

Today, my four year old had a field trip to the fire station. She was to be dropped off there and picked up one hour later. She was the ONLY one, out of 15 kids who did not have a parent there with her.

*insert mom guilt: level 1,000*

Prior to taking on this stay at home mom life I worked full time. My son went to daycare full time until he went to preschool at age four. My first daughter went to daycare until she was two. At that time baby three was born and I decided I wanted to try my hand at staying home. I had big dreams and plans of helping with the class parties, being a “room mom”, helping the office staff with….whatever parent volunteers do for office staff. What I didn’t realize is that I wouldn’t really be able to do any of that stuff. At least not until my youngest child was also in full time school (by that time my oldest child will be in sixth grade). My son is now in second grade and I can count on a sloths foot the number of times I’ve been in his classroom. In three years of full time school I’ve been there three times. My husband has been on a couple field trips to the zoo but for the most part, my involvement is the same as it would be if I worked full time. For good reason, younger siblings are not allowed to attend the field trips, class parties etc etc. I totally respect this rule, I don’t want to bring my three, preschool age kids to a second grade classroom either. I think going to the gynecologist sounds more fun than that. It’s kind of like when people do an “adults only” wedding. I am totally for it. I absolutely do not want to bring my kids to your wedding either. By taking that possibility away, it makes it easier for me to say no if I can’t find a sitter or to actually work up the gumption to find one if I really do want to go. (Also, we rarely get date nights so…two birds, one stone is what I say.) But, I’m not talking about a maybe once every summer wedding here, I’m talking about almost weekly possibilities to be involved in a child’s classroom environment.

I don’t know if this is actually true since I stopped working before my son got to elementary school, but I seriously can’t help but wonder if it would be easier for me to volunteer or be a room parent if I was still working? If I already had my younger children in daycare, could I find more ways to adjust my schedule, take a different lunch time, get approved for leave? If childcare for my younger children was not an issue, I wonder if I could find it easier to go to the hour long parties or be the reading helper for 30 minutes? So much of the involvement in the classroom is a short period of time. This makes it seem almost more of a hassle to try to find childcare than it’s worth. Especially when “finding childcare” can be right up there with “finding out where all the socks go in the dryer” or “finding out what exactly takes my husband so long to go to the bathroom” it can feel almost impossible. Sure, I have great friends I can ask and they would probably say yes but they have school aged kids too. Most of the parties are on the same day. They also have lives and school things and volunteer things to do as well, not to mention their own small children at home. Adding an extra 2-3 kids is a lot for anyone and it is often times hard to ask that of our friends. So, barring a nice home school family with a babysitting teenager moving in next door with unlimited availability, I generally have to choose to sit the field trips and classroom parties out. This was not something I planned on when I became a stay at home mom.

Now, I am not saying it’s easier to be a working parent, please, I’ve been a working parent. I know it’s not easier. Being a working mom brings a whole new level of guilt and things to worry that you are missing or messing up or not doing well. It can be so rewarding but not without so many challenges. What I do know is that when I was a working mother I thought staying home was going to be a lot easier than it is (insert hilarious laughter). I actually remember thinking that my house would be cleaner if I stayed home. I neglected to factor in that when I worked, no one was in my house for 10 hours a day. Now, I’m my third year of staying home I can find myself thinking “I wish I could go back to work.” That is, until I actually think about dropping my youngest two off to someone else when I have been with them every day of their lives thus far and I start sobbing uncontrollably (not to mention my daily wardrobe of sweatpants is generally frowned upon in the professional realm, if memory serves).

No, you will never hear me picking a side in the stay home vs. work debate. It’s hard either way, there are great things about both and there are sucky things about both. I am only wondering for the sake of wondering if working would actually help me be more involved in my kids school like I always thought I would be? I know stay at home moms might say “yes, I absolutely think so” and working moms will say “lol have you gotten a jump on the recreational weed smoking because you sound high” so this isn’t really a debate with a winner. It’s just something I thought today with tears in my eyes as I watched my little girl take a seat next to her teacher, instead of her mom like all the other kids at the fire station.

Dear food, it’s not you. It’s me.

Food: we all have to eat it. It’s delicious and for most of us, it’s everywhere. Like most people (the sane ones anyway) I love food. I have, however also had a very tumultuous relationship with it. There have been times when I didn’t eat enough of it, times when I ate too much of it, and times when I tried to throw it up after I ate it (that lasted a solid 2 days or so before I realized it was NOT for me). At the end of the day I have realized that this relationship with something that is essential to life is also something that can make life miserable. If I am not careful, thoughts of it can consume basically every minute of my day. It kind of sounds like a pretty dysfunctional relationship. Like, if one of my girlfriends came to me and was like “so, I’m seeing this guy and he’s really great and hot and sometimes it’s really amazing. But then like, the rest of the time, he basically makes me feel like crap about myself and I can’t stay away from him or I stay too far away from him and then I just get all sick and weak.” I would pretty much say, in no uncertain terms that she needs to pull an Ariana on that relationship and say “thank you, next.”

For me, I seem to operate on an “all or nothing” type of mentality. When I have a project or a goal, it is nearly impossible to stop me from accomplishing it. When I wanted to lose the 40 plus pounds I put on from all the babies and all the pasta, I buckled down and did it. I drastically changed my eating habits and portion sizes. I’m not saying it was easy because it wasn’t. It was actually one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Generally, when I try to lose weight I go into it by doing what I thought forever was the only way to do it. Limiting what I eat so much that I end up shaky and sick and angry, eventually eating everything in sight. It goes round and round and the goal, losing weight, never really happens. I used to truly believe that I could never lose weight because I was bad at being anorexic. Like, I TRULY believed that the only way for me to lose weight was starving myself. I am not athletic, my clumsiness is enough to make me look like I belong in a Three Stooges remake and as a young woman my self-esteem was essentially non existent. The ways I saw other people getting those bodies envied were by working out and playing sports. Eating healthy and balanced never seemed to be part of the equation for the people around me. As a teenager and young adult all the women I saw who looked the way I wanted to seemed to eat whatever they wanted, they just played a sport or had good genes or high metabolism. I didn’t really have any of those things, I had the belief that starvation equals success and it became another thing that I just beat myself up over not being good at.

Now, I can’t really even say what the turning point was for me and food. Maybe it was realizing that my daughters would learn their eating habits from me. Maybe it was just getting sick of trying to do the same things over and over again without seeing any changes. I would be lying if I said the relationship has completely did a one-eighty and I’m now on the other end of the tunnel and it’s all sunshine and rainbows and balanced diets. It’s not a secret for those who know me that I used the popular points system weight loss plan for around 10 months and lost around 40 pounds. In the beginning it was pure grit and determination to reach my scale goals. I was still doing some of the unhealthy things such as eating the minimal amount of food to save my points so I could eat a big dessert at the end of the day. I kept my addiction to pop and just changed it to diet pop (spoiler alert: zero points does not always equal healthy food). I learned all the low point “tricks” and memorized serving sizes. I did see results this way and it did help to introdue me to some actually healthy foods and it showed me that I was out of control on portion sizes on most of the food I ate. I am thankful for that plan because honestly, I don’t think I could’ve started without it. Plus it did lead me to the place where I am at currently which is truly much healthier. Along the way I did slowly start to learn healthier habits. I started using all of my points on foods that filled me up and had more nutritional value. I started to cut sugar, I completely gave up pop last January, a move I thought for sure would kill me when I started. Now, almost a year later it feels like the easiest part of this whole thing (I was a religious 32-48 ounces a day Diet Mountain Dew drinker). When my weight loss goal was met I was kind of lost (remember I am a goal oriented person). I had learned to truly be content at the weight I was, I liked the way my clothes fit, and I really saw no desire to see it go any lower (a HUGE victory for me, I previously had never felt that way, not matter how low the scale got). So, I moved onto my next goal. The one I’m still working on which is getting stronger, more fit, gaining endurance and (hopefully) energy (I am conviced any energy I gain now is just magically funneled to my children bypassing me completely). I stopped using the points system, I got a subscription to an online workout program instead. I have found maintance success with other diets like the Keto diet but I have had to scale back on that because it started to feel too restrictive. Despite not really being on “a plan” or using a particular diet the scale has been staying relatively the same due to the workouts every morning and the fact that my metabolism has increased along with gaining some fat burning muscle. However, and this is where I wanted to get to today in this blog, I have been reminded lately that old habits die hard.

The workouts my husband and I are doing are a mix of lifting and HIIT (high intensity interval training) some days it is half lifting and half cardio type moves. Some days it is all lifting and the program is only four days a week. Now, I have been doing 6-7 days a week so this is a big change for me. The times I see my old demons rear their ugly heads is on those days where it is all lifting or on the rest days. I hear those little lies in my head “you really didn’t work that hard today, you were barely sweating, you probably should skip breakfast” (or whatever other meal the lies tell me to skip, sometimes it’s all of them). Even after almost two years of learning healthier eating habits, I still have a tendency to resort to this line of thinking. Like I said, old habits die HARD.

The good news is, now, for the most part I know what to say to the lies. I know that I have to go against my feelings, my emotions, and what I think I see in the mirror and go with the truth. The truth is, building muscle takes fuel for my body just like a high intensity cardio program. The truth is, not working out for a day does not mean I punish myself by withholding food, it actually keeps me from reaching my goals for my body when I do that. The TRUTH is, I am made in the image of a creator who loves me and who never makes mistakes and I know it breaks His heart when I believe the lies of the enemy that say I am not enough as I am. Now, I’m a work in progress just like all of us. There are good days and bad days. Balancing eating healthy food with living a full life can seem like they are in direct opposition to each other. Especially in our “treat yourself” culture where any little disruption in our day or schedule or routine seems to be met by a mentality that says “I deserve this” when we want to cope with food. Or if you’re like me and you have those moments where you do indulge, your shame driven brain can automatically switch over to feeling that you need to punish yourself by withholding foods, even the healthy ones. It is a viscious cycle that does nothing but keep us tied down in bondage. It is something that will destroy your life and as a mom, possibly pass down the same cycle to your children.That thought alone, is enough for me to say “no more, this ends now.”

There is no fun little bow to put on a blog like this, no completion where I say “and she never struggled with disordered eating again and lived happily ever after. The end.” I am working on that freedom in my own life. I hope you will too if you struggle with these issues in any way. Find a counselor who you trust, tell your loved ones when you are struggling, get in the word. Find out who Jesus says you are and read about what He did specifically for you so that you can be free to live your best life. I know that I am free, I just have to remind myself of it every once in a while, I hope, if any of this speaks to you, that you are reminded too.

Forests and trees and…donkeys

First of all, I need to start this blog by saying that I got most of this content from a sermon I heard preached a few months back. I meant to blog about it right after I heard it but then, I didn’t. So if you are impressed by this be impressed by Pastor Matt Keller of…some church that I forgot the name of, not me. Well, you can be a little impressed by me. I mean I DO still know the entire rap from “Waterfalls” after memorizing it in fifth grade AND I once brought an entire training room to stunned silence after quoting the movie “Anchorman” at a completely inappropriate time. So, yeah I’m KINDA still a big deal.

Anyway, back to this sermon that I am hijacking. It’s about something called a “donkey mission” and how they can be, well, a real pain in the…ass. (I can’t write a whole blog about donkeys and not make one “ass” pun…I just can’t. LET ME LIVE!) Anyway again, back to donkey missions. This whole thing actually comes from a real mission to find donkeys. It’s found in 1 Samuel chapter 9. The bible tells us that a man named Kish had a son named Saul and Saul was…oh I don’t know…like the Chris Hemsworth of all his other Hemsworth type brothers. Or the Liam I guess, if you’re into that…ok or the third, non-famous Hemsworth brother who is also very attractive. Either way, the point is he was attractive and tall and probably had an unexplainable sexy accent that no one else in his region had or something. So, one day Kish lost his donkeys and sent Saul to get them, along with a servant. Probably should’ve been a female servant in my opinion because they would’ve gotten found a lot faster, but I digress. So, Saul and the servant, (I’m going to call him Chris since we are talking about our favorite Hemsworth’s) go to look for these donkeys. They look everywhere and walk for days. Eventually, Saul get’s pretty ticked off and wants to scrap the whole mission because he thinks his dad is really going to be more worried about him than the donkeys. This sounds like something that would be true, but in actuality Saul was just a little ticked off that someone of his stature and importance was off looking for donkeys when he should’ve been back at home, where he was “really important.” Well “Chris” the servant stops him with some wisdom he said: “Behold, there is in this city a man of God, a man held in honor; all that he says surely comes true. Now let us go there. Perhaps he can show us where we should go.” Well, point number one for Chris because the “man of God” that he was talking about was Samuel. And Samuel had already been told by God that Saul was supposed to be anointed the first king of Israel. So, Saul met with Samuel and instead of finding out where his donkeys were, he found out he had been anointed as king over all twelve tribes of Israel. Can you imagine that? What Saul had thought was something mundane and meaningless was actually the most important thing he had ever done.

Drawing any comparisons yet? If not let me help you out. Motherhood, or parenting in general can seem like the world’s longest and messiest donkey mission.

Now, Saul knew he was important, he knew he was good-looking and had prominence in his tribe. He probably wondered why his dad sent him to look for a bunch of animals when they had servants to do things like that (I’m imagining him whining in a Draco Malfoy voice here; “but Dad, this is SERVANT stuff!”) Yet, there he was looking for donkeys.

Donkey Missions keep you humble. Parenting will humble you like nothing else will. Saul was humbled to go do servants work. As parents we do servants work every day. For me, I didn’t really know humility until I was up at 2 am, covered in other people’s bodily fluid. Or, when you want nothing but to be alone or do something for yourself but you still need to get those sippy cups of water to thirsty babies. Or, when you have to apologize to a little tiny person because you know that you lost your temper and it had nothing to do with anything they had actually done and everything to do with your own self. Parenting little ones is no respecter of persons. I’m sure even the queen Beyoncé has had her fair share of being humbled by her kids. For me, there are times when my pride will try to well up, just like Saul’s. “Well, why does my husband never do…? Why am I always the one…” And if you are like me, you sometimes use these words like “always and never” even though you took several classes in social work school that tell you not to because quite frankly it’s just not accurate. Or, just the old “I can’t believe I have a master’s degree and all I do is change poopy diapers and clean up other people’s mess all day, I could be doing so much MORE.” Many times your work goes unnoticed to others. Or, you don’t even see it yourself. I can’t tell you how many times I have gotten to the end of the day and thought “what on earth did I do all day today and why are we all still in pajamas at 6:00 at night??” Being a parent humbles you my friends. Just like going to look for a bunch of mules humbled Saul.

Donkey missions test your patience. I really don’t need to go very far for any parents reading this to shake their head and say “yes and amen.” In our story, Saul was getting pretty impatient and wanted to just turn around and go home. I have frequently lamented that I cannot actually “turn around and go home” in the midst of a challenging parenting moment (unless you count running to the closet and locking the door, I’m not above that sometimes). Staying home with my four kids has been the largest test to my very small patience that I have ever known. I mean, the other day I had to have the most frustrating conversation with a three-year old because a bear in a book we were reading didn’t have a yellow shirt on and she thought he should and was a complete basket case about it. I lose my patience way more than I should, I yell and I get frustrated. I am trying to be better, I think most of us are but it’s a daily struggle. The testing of our patience only gets harder the longer our mission lasts. I wonder really how long it took for Saul to start complaining, to start thinking about turning back? I can tell you it probably would have been a lot sooner had he been traveling with a seven-year old who was trying to learn new math. Or with a three-year old who could absolutely zip her own coat, thank you very much. Being on this parenting mission can get so daunting, it can be so overwhelming that it swallows you up whole. I can tell you as someone who transitioned from being a full-time working mom to a stay at home mom, the mission increases exponentially in difficulty the more you have to actually be around your kids. You see parenting, like looking for donkeys can be so tedious, so mundane, can make you feel so ordinary, and less than, and just plain tired that you forget what they are really about.

Donkey missions are always about something greater. For Saul, it was about receiving his anointing as king. For us, it is about raising children that make this world a better place by simply being in it. I am not going to say we have to all raise the next Billy Graham or Maya Angelou or Mother Theresa. I am saying we are on a mission to raise children that are a reflection of Jesus, in whatever form that takes. You know that cliché “you can’t see the forest through the trees” well if we let it that’s what can happen with parenting. I am as guilty as anyone at looking at all these trees and losing my way. Even now as I am reflecting on this I can’t say as I’m doing an amazing job at remembering my ultimate goal is to raise kind and loving people. Some days, my goal is just to get to the end of the day without committing any felonies, and that’s ok! But the reason this story and this sermon have stayed so fresh in my mind for all these months is because God wanted me to know that there is a bigger purpose for all of this unseen work I am putting in. Like Saul I may not completely understand it and I will lose sight of it at times but it’s there. It’s there in the four little faces that will one day become big faces who go on to live their lives in this crazy world. I am currently responsible for shaping four worldviews, four sets of morals, four little lives! When I stop to think about it that way, it seems so much more important that trying to find a bunch of donkeys. I hope you can see it that way too, my friends because it is so important and YOU are the vital piece.

Your pumpkins are better than mine…and that’s ok

It’s officially Fall in Michigan. Now, when we say “fall” we mean it. Despite the occasional 80 degree day thrown in just to test our immune systems, it is the textbook definition of autumn. Leaves, 50 degree temps, sweaters, pumpkins, boots, the whole basic nine yards. I have some friends in the south and bless their hearts, they like to talk about fall like they also have it. I know they have to just work with what they are given but 80 degrees is not fall, I’m sorry, it’s just not. I see them on Instagram in their cute cozy sweaters, drinking their pumpkin drinks but us Northerners are onto you. You can only wear those things in your air-conditioned house, because you would sweat to death if you actually went outside in them. Here’s the deal. We get to have fall because we also are forced to suffer through winter. You southerners want to have fall with all the decor and whatnot but in my opinion, you just haven’t earned it. When winter comes you will all be down there having perfect weather and we will all be dreaming of the vacation we want to take to where you live as we dig ourselves out of 12 foot snow banks. It’s only fair. LET US HAVE FALL, WE DON’T HAVE MUCH ELSE. We are literally staring down the barrel of 5-6 months of garbage weather.

Where was I going with this? Ah yes, fall decor and how I have to learn to stop being jealous of everyone. (Basically seems like that intro was incoherent rambling right? Well, it basically was. Sorry.)

So, I like home decor. I follow lots of home decor rock stars on IG. I have basically zero knowledge of it beyond copying other people but as I have gotten older, it has really become something I love. Specifically I love a mix of farmhouse and urban and modern (my home decor style is much like my life, completely unorganized with no specific focus). I love HGTV as much as anyone but I had to stop watching. Why? Because I found a direct link between watching that channel and a growing sense of dissatisfaction with what I have. I have a lot, I have everything I need but I always wanted more and different and better. Plus, when you have farmhouse style, you keep bringing home stuff that is so chippy and broken down that it looks like you got it off the side of the road but actually, it cost as much as if it were bought brand new from Pottery Barn…this is a very confusing thing for men such as my husband to accept. No matter how many episodes of Fixer Upper we watch, he still just says “that costs how much!?” whenever I bring home an amazing new piece of decor from my local vendor market. Comparison is the worst. We all do it. It’s a tale literally as old as time. It affects us in different ways. For me, it’s comparison over what I have. This year I decided I was going to appreciate what I have and that meant, I didn’t need to go out and spend a whole bunch more money buying seasonal things for my house. I love decorating my front porch, I love decorating my mantles and other places for the season. I see so many amazing ideas on the internet and all those ideas cost money. If you are like most of us and not getting sponsored or given things to display on your porch and in your house, it is crazy expensive! Front porches overflowing with heirloom pumpkins? Ok, well at my local greenhouse those things will run you about $6 each or 4 for $20. Now, I’m no mathematician but I wager that to get my porch to look like the mum and pumpkin wonderland I see on my screen I would need approximately….way more dollars than I have to decorate my porch. Now, in years past I’ve done it. I’ve spent the money and felt the sting at the register. “How much did you say??” So this year I toned it way down, bought the smaller mums, didn’t do the pumpkins and guess what, I still have a cute fall porch. It’s not Pinterest perfect but I like it and I don’t have that guilt that I spent all that money for the sole purpose of satisfying my need to keep up with…whomever the powers that be say I need to keep up with. **Side note: My husband read this blog and said “you spent $60 on our porch this year and you call THAT toning it down, what on EARTH did you spend last year?? So, Rome wasn’t built in a day people, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.**

Now, home decor might not be your issue. It might be your clothes, or your weight, or your parenting or your…whatever. There is no shortage of areas that we tend to compare ourselves. Maybe you compare your marriage to so and so’s down the street and find it lacking. Maybe you look at your kids, acting like complete fools in the church parking lot and then see a family with children perfectly composed, hair combed, shoes on, seemingly obeying their parents who aren’t raving like lunatics about not wanting to scrape their corpses off of the pavement because they got hit by a car. (Hypothetically speaking of course, I in no way have any experience with a situation like that. Totally hypothetical. Totally, I promise). The point is, we all get sucked in to the trap of comparison. Here are the only two solutions I have found for this issue that have worked at all. First, spend more time getting to know Jesus (I know that sounds SUPER churchy but go with me here). I think the more time we can spend learning about Jesus and his life, the less we feel the need to compare our own lives to anyone else. When we get to know who Jesus is we realize that we don’t need to compare. We are ALL sinners, we are ALL saved by grace that we don’t deserve. Another lovely little byproduct of knowing Jesus is gaining contentment. A contentment that ONLY comes from knowing Him. I’m sorry to anyone who thinks they can get it somewhere else…that obviously isn’t working out for anyone (please see the growing list of people who take their own lives despite infinite riches, experiences, college degrees, fame, etc, etc, etc for reference on that). Secondly, I think sometimes we need to remove some of the major things that are causing us to compare. One thing I had to do was make the “no more HGTV” rule. For some it might be unfollowing some people on social media. For others it might be actually making an effort and getting to know that other mom who you have been silently judging because you are sure she is just soooo perfect with the perfect life and hair and….When you do get to know her, you are going to find out that she is nothing like you thought. In reality, I have had to do all three of those things several times over and I STILL struggle with comparison.

Look, someone is always going to be doing it better than you, faster than you, more effectively than you (unless you’re Beyoncé of course, and there is only one of those). I think as soon as we realize that AND that NOBODY is telling the whole truth on the internet we can be one million percent happier. I, for one want to break out from the weight of comparison. I am tired of buying the lie that everyone else has everything so much more together than I do. I am fed up with all of it. So this year, I started with my front porch. Where can you start? What little thing can you do that says “I refuse to compare myself anymore?” It doesn’t have to be big. For me, it was saying no to pumpkins, despite all those beautiful pictures on my feed that make me really think I need them. Plus let’s face it, most of them are Southerners and we all know those things are going to be rotten in no time in their 80 degree “fall” weather 😉

Lessons in the giving

Tonight, we gave our son a gift. A really, really big gift, like the kind that is usually reserved for Christmas. It was something that he has been asking about for

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Portrait of a happy boy

months and months. A video game system and game. Every chance he gets, he asks if he can watch YouTube videos of other people playing this game. (Side note: why on earth is this appealing to kids?? I am completely baffled but then I also got immeasurable joy out of keeping three Tamogatchi’s alive at the same time so….I suppose I cannot really be too baffled.) Well, today my husband was at Costco and they had the system and game and some other things in a bundle for a price cheaper than it would be normally. So, we bought it. We had the option of saving it for Christmas, it’s true. We could’ve just held onto it until he saved enough money (he had enough for about a third of it). But, the truth is I was just TOO excited to give it to him. Also, I felt a little weird about giving it to him as a Christmas present and then asking him to give me all of his saved money to help pay for it. I’m not saying that is the wrong thing to do or anything, it just wasn’t something I wanted to do. My husband and I then planned how we were going to surprise him. We called him home from his friend’s house for dinner and we had it all set out on his bed, along with his jar of saved money. Over dinner we started talking about it and asked him if he was really wanting to give all his money to help pay for it. His answer was obviously yes so we asked him to go get his money from his bedroom so we could see how much he had. He ran to his room, was in there for about two minutes then he ran out, holding his money, a look of complete bewilderment on his face. “Mom, there’s a Nintendo Switch in my room!” As I watched him, I was feeling the most overwhelming joy. I’m sure I looked like and absolute lunatic for the huge smile that stretched from ear to ear, and yes, there were a few tears that leaked out too. In that perfect moment I heard God whisper to me: “This is what it feels like for me too, daughter.”

What I realized when those words were whispered across my soul was two-fold.

  1. God wants to bless me and it makes Him immeasurably happy to do so.
  2. God does not care if I am worthy enough or if I am deserving enough for a blessing, He just wants me to get out of my own way and let Him do it.

My husband and I wanted to bless our son with that gift, why? Because he had done something extraordinary that day? No. Because of some great accomplishment? No, he’s seven, his greatest accomplishment so far is if he manages to get all his pee in the toilet every time he goes. Was it because he has been so well-behaved? No, (and lol). It was because we know he has so desperately wanted it and we were in the position to give it to him. We knew it would make him happy. That’s all, that’s the only reason. It is the same with God. If we had waited for Christmas, he would have expected a gift. Maybe not that particular gift, but a gift nonetheless. As it was, he could not figure out what was going on. He kept saying “I can’t believe it, I can’t believe it.” I’m sure he was wracking his little seven-year old brain trying to wrap his head around this. The thing he had been (literally) dreaming of was here! And he didn’t have to do anything? It is the same with God. The Bible says in Ezekiel 34:26-27: “I will make them and the places surrounding my hill a blessing. I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing, The trees will yield their fruit and the ground will yield its crops; the people will be secure in their land.” It says in 2 Corinthians 9:8: “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” For those of us who have accepted Jesus, we have gained entry into the family of God. God, our Father is literally (ok, maybe not literally) jumping up and down with joy for the chance to shower us with blessing. It’s why we feel that way when we get to do it for our children, because He created us in His image and He, well He is always good. (Psalm 84:11, Psalm 145:9, John 3:16, James 1:17 etc. etc.)

Now, I know that giving him that thing is not the end. I know he is going to lose the privilege of playing it at least one a week (or a day, if I’m being honest). As his mom I understand this and yet, I was still willing to give it to him. Why? Well, if you haven’t caught on the answer is because I love him, that’s why. The point of this is not that we should all give our children gifts whenever we want, it is so much more than that. It is seeing that we are WORTHY to be given blessings by our Father in heaven, even if we feel like we don’t deserve them. So many times in my life I have not dared to ask God for anything. ” I have everything I need” or “I really can’t ask for anything because I am already so blessed.” Or, my personal favorite “there is NO WAY God is going to give me anything with all the sinning I’ve been doing lately.” Well, all we have to do is read ANY story pertaining to the Israelites in the Bible to see that God will bless His children, even when they act like total a-holes (of course that’s the Amber translation of the bible, your’s will probably say something like “they acted like wayward children.”) I battle daily with feeling like God should not love me, or do good things for me. When something bad happens, my flesh response is to think “well, here is my punishment for that bad thing I did last Tuesday.” This is not congruent with God’s character. My spirit knows this, but my flesh, well my flesh is a painfully slow learner. It took me giving a gift to my son for it to finally sink in in a way it had not before. Despite all of my screw ups, all of my failures and shortcomings, God still wants nothing more than to bless me. He still sent His son to pay the ultimate sacrifice, knowing that I would break His heart daily. He loves me that much, just like He loves every single one of you. What is that thing that holds you back from believing God will bless you? Is it your own shame? Your belief that you don’t have the right to ask? Well, to quote my MBBFF (make-believe best friend forever) Rachel Hollis “wash your face” from all those lies and start believing and declaring that God, as your loving Father wants nothing more than to give you absolutely nothing more than the deepest and most amazing desires of your heart! It took me buying my kid a video game to realize this, I hope I just saved you all some money and helped you realize it too.

Life and death…and earrings

Let’s talk about the power of your words, shall we? See, I used to wear earrings a lot. I loved all of them, especially big, round ones. Until one day I let someone’s words about what type of earrings I “shouldn’t wear” for my face shape influence how I felt about the entire accessory. I know it sounds ridiculous to some, but to others you too know how one persons words can cause a major shift in your thinking. Now, the Bible tells us (said in my best Bob the Tomato voice) in Proverbs 15:4 that “gentle words bring life and health but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.” Then in the familiar verse in Proverbs 18:21 we read that “there is life and death in the power of the tongue.”

We need to be gentle in our words to each other. I know in today’s world, there is an expectation to “keep it real” and it is celebrated by many to be “savage” in your words but what do we lose because of this? We are a society that acknowledges a real problem in the form of bullying but then laughs when a cute kid makes a YouTube video that is nothing but harsh words spoken in an adorable, chipmunk voice. I myself have been rightly accused on several occasions of having “no filter” but I have been reminded all too often that the things I say DO matter. I cannot just say whatever I think and feel at random and not expect there to be casualties. Just as I really do not want people to say and think whatever they feel about me without filtering their words with love and consideration for me as a person.

Now, I am not mad at the person who said those words to me. Truly, I don’t think they were said to me in a malicious way. They just were not thought out and I did not challenge them, despite feeling like I should have at the time. I have learned, slowly, that just because people’s negative words over us hurt and they bring pain, it is up to us to believe them or not. Just typing this blog I realize how crazy it is that I let one comment keep me from doing something as silly as wearing earrings for basically an entire decade! But, that is the power of words.

I got these amazing earrings in the mail from a Noonday jewelry order I made. They sent them to me for free and (probably) as a mistake, but I’ve never been one to turn down free jewelry so, finders keepers. When I opened them, I immediately loved them but at the same time I heard those words in my head again. Here were some earrings, it the exact shape as the ones I was told I should “never wear” and I had a choice. I could choose to continue to let those words dictate my actions. Or, I could decide that they simply weren’t going to have power over me anymore.

What words have been spoken over you that you have let dictate parts of your life today? Maybe it’s something like me and you were told something you should “never wear” even though you really wanted to because of some part of you that that person deemed unacceptable? Maybe it’s something you have a dream to do or be someday but were told you weren’t a “good fit” for that thing? Maybe someone said you were pretty enough, smart enough… “enough” enough? Well, I’m here to tell you it’s time to stop letting those words keep you from doing whatever it is that you love.

Even if it’s something as simple as putting on a pair of earrings. ❤️

 

The trouble with my toddler

Tonight I snapped at my husband. I know, I know most people are thinking “yeah, so.” But really I am not generally a person who snaps at my husband (hopefully he agrees, if not, what does he know he thinks frosting is gross so he obviously can’t be trusted on anything). I also had no reason to snap, he was simply making conversation with me over dinner. Asking me about my upcoming by plans to go out to the beach with my girlfriends. He was just asking the normal questions, who is all going? Where are we eating etc. etc. etc. Why was I so frustrated? He was taking interest in my plans, my day and my friends? What was the problem??

The problem was and is my toddler.

I have a toddler named Sutton. She is going to be three in August. She is funny and sweet and absolutely adorable (like cabbage patch doll on steroids adorable). However she is also completely and utterly attached to me and she is (like most 2 year olds) operating on the false belief that if she cannot physically see me, then I must be dead or I must have abandoned her forever. She is also constantly asking questions. She has questions about her questions. Most of them (ok, all of them) are centered on what one person is doing. I don’t think it will take a game of Guess Who to figure out who that person is. It’s me. Only me. All the time. Me. From the time she gets up until the time she falls asleep (and often times during the night) I am inundated with the following questions “what are you doing?” And “where are you going?” “Why are you doing that?” And “what do you have.” Then, to make matters worse when I do answer her it seems like I she must be hearing me speak a language that only Tolkien would understand because the question is repeated at least 10-10,000 times after I answer initially. What’s worse is, she often times can SEE WITH HER EVER LOVING EYES what I am doing! “Honey, you can see that Mommy is getting ice out of the fridge, mommy is filling up the water bottle, mommy is picking up a toy. Mommy is trying not to lose her shit over all of these asinine questions!!!” Over and over I have to describe what I am doing, how I am doing it and why. Where I am going and why I am going there. This is not a problem for some people who may be external processors. I am not. I am an internal processor. You will sometimes see the stereotype where the housewife verbally unloads on her husband the second he walks through the door while the poor guy literally only wants to escape to the bathroom for his daily 1/2 hour post work poop. Well, this is not me. I don’t really like to talk it out on very many occasions. In fact, many of my biggest decisions (nose ring, new tattoo, wanting to have a fourth baby) have seemed, to my husband to literally come out of nowhere. In reality, I had been thinking about all of those things for anywhere between six months to 10 years without saying a single word! I am not the person who wants to pick up the phone and chat with her girlfriends. I almost never call anyone when I am on a long drive, even if I’m by myself (I have friends who would think this is certifiably nuts). Maybe it is, maybe something is wrong with the female portion of my brain (wouldn’t be the only issue where I have thought this before). So, it is a STRUGGLE to say the least for me to give my toddler what she needs, and that is constant conversation.

Now, that doesn’t mean I don’t give her what she needs. What kind of mother would I be if I did that? What I do need to do is work on giving her what she needs while also keeping my sanity. To be honest, it’s a day to day struggle over if I feel like I am winning that battle. I am trying to work on “using my words” with her and with my husband. Now, when I am face to face with friends and I am not feeling like I haven’t already used up all my words on my toddler, I CAN be a real chatty Kathy. I can also fake it pretty well a lot of the time but what I am left with, is exhaustion. Part of the reason I also haven’t blogged much is because I also feel like I don’t even have energy to form thoughts and write them out! I am using all my words both verbally and mentally and by the end of the day, I can’t make myself write them down. So, the moral of this blog is…well I guess there isn’t a moral. There is an assurance that if you at all identify with me or my struggle, you are not alone. If you honestly cannot answer one more question or form one more sentence at the end of the day, I am with you. If you find yourself snapping at a little face who literally only wants to be your best friend and talk to you, I am with you. If you cannot explain everything you are doing like a play by play announcer one more day, I am with you. And I will be with you tomorrow when it starts all over again. Because, that’s what moms do for their kids, we give them what they need regardless of how we feel. Stay strong, fellow mommas. What doesn’t kill us will make us stronger they say…and if not at least we won’t be able to answer any more questions when we’re dead. 🤷🏻‍♀️