Subscribe to my newsletter:

Subscribe to my Newsletter

* indicates required

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

when haven and hell are just inches apart

Grief is a funny thing. (Obviously, I don't mean ha-ha funny, I mean head-scratchingly befuddling) Sometimes I feel like, in our culture, we don't know how to grieve. Every September I end up colliding with the reality of this - my little brother Ian's birthday comes and goes and with it the pain of losing him at 16 to suicide. Then the very next day I celebrate the birth of my own oldest boy Josiah, who this year is turning 10 and he is the most excited about his birthday that he could possibly be. When Josiah was little, and the loss of my brother was fresh, this month I focused 100% of my attention on Josiah's birthday and Ian's birthday was just another day on the calendar, a day when I was busy getting ready to celebrate Josiah and not a sad day at all. But for the last couple of years, it has been hard. 

Yesterday I let myself get swept up in busyness, trying to outrun a killer headache and mental fog that was chasing me down. The grief was there, hiding around the corner, where it's been for the last couple of days, but all I did was sweep it under the rug (my default reaction to all unpleasant emotions) and now today I am dealing with the consequences of not having dealt with my emotions yesterday. Today sadness is here like the John Green quote "the thing about pain is that it demands to be felt" I avoided it yesterday but today it is demanding to be felt, refusing to be compliant and just go away. ugh.  All morning I've been remembering the words of that Rich Mullins song "our hell and our heaven only inches apart we must be awfully small and not as strong as we think we are." so true

Joy and grief are cohabitating in this month - but that's life, right? You don't have to live for very long to learn this lesson - that joy and grief, sorrow and celebration, they do not stay in their own tidy little separated boxes. We don't usually get to experience life one thing at a time. They are all mixed together, baked into a shepherds pie - beauty and blessing one minute, and the next (or in the same breath) brokenness and pain.

As I trudge through this day, a thought surprises me -  that joy and pain cohabitate in the little space of today, but there is a third thing wanting to be here too - God's presence. He wants to cohabitate with my sorrow. He cares that today is hard and wants to share this space with me.  It's hard for me to even begin to understand what that means - how to invite the Holy Spirit into my grief. It isn't something I necessarily have a vocabulary for.

I open my Bible and today's Psalm speaks hope:

"Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning. You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever!" Psalms 30:5,11-12


I hope that I'm learning a lesson - to face my sorrow on my brother's birthday and not wait until it flows over to the next day. I'm thankful that homeschooling is simple and that the weather is nice enough that we can spend a few minutes at the park. Today I'm leaning into the ministry of sunshine and music, and the joy of the sweet smiles of my little ones and the routine of an ordinary day.









I'm writing a book!! If you'd like to get more information as it becomes available please subscribe to my newsletter:

Subscribe to my Newsletter

* indicates required

Sunday, September 17, 2017

when the rain becomes a storm



I was sitting in car line this morning, waiting to drop my son off at school, listening to the song "There is a Cloud" by Elevation Worship. The lyrics of this song talk about a cloud "beginning to swell" with blessings about to break out - the presence of the Holy Spirit raining down.  As someone who just went through a period of a lot of rain both physically, in the form of Hurricane Irma, and also spiritually I have some thoughts about this.

I'm writing this on the first day back to school after Hurricane Irma swept through our town, felling branches and knocking out power in our area. This morning, all along the way to school, I witnessed the litter of this storm - twigs by the side of the road, an overabundance of leaves on the ground for September, a veritable shower of Pine needles and as I was driving this morning I had this thought:

what about when the blessings of rain become the storm of a hurricane?


I went through a two-year hurricane a few years ago and during this season of storms, nearly everything in my life was beaten down. My faith shuddered and the walls fell down leaving only a foundation, with only the most basic of beliefs, as God held onto me and I clung to my faith in the middle of the storm.

On the other side, as the clouds began to clear and the debris on my shoreline was revealed I was overcome with shame - I was such a disaster. Weren't "good Christians" supposed to weather storms with strength and an unshakable faith? My faith had been shaken and tested and a lot of my faith had fallen down. So what now? I felt like Christians looked down their nose at people who are genuinely and thoroughly struggling. I  had dropped their "right answers" and I questioned how to reconcile my pain with God's love.

I lived in the shame of that storm-wrecked beach for about a year. I thought I had failed - I had been tested and I had been found lacking. But then in one remarkable moment, God showed me a picture of my beach storm-wrecked and full of debris but then I saw the Holy Spirit cleaning up my mess. He was the one doing the heavy lifting - I was just there to help.  And this is what I discovered - God still loved me. He loved me as fiercely and as tenderly in the middle of my mess as He had in the middle of my religious pride  - He loved me. He had held onto me and carried me tenderly all along the way and now it wasn't up to me to clean myself up. All I had to do was cooperate - to let go of the junk that was cluttering up my beach and to be allowed to be redefined.

Over the last few years, this is exactly what God has been doing. He has been cleaning up my beach, He's been tearing down the old decayed buildings and clearing away the wreckage. Sometimes I'll pass by a spot that used to be standing and sometimes I think, for better or for worse, I'm not the same person anymore. I have changed a lot since then and the landscape of my faith has drastically changed.




I thought nothing good could ever possibly come out of that storm but from where I sit now - I can say that it has. The Holy Spirit was tearing down some things that needed to be torn down and He has been rebuilding some things that need to be built.  Now, all this time later I can say that that storm did me good. It was heartbreaking, but it did me good.

And now that I'm on the other side I want to stand up and say, for everyone who is going through a season of storms, and for anyone who is looking around their own storm-wrecked beach wondering how anything good could ever come out of the storm - yes it can. Something good can come out of this. Something beautiful. You just have to let it. Let the season of testing, of pain and sorrow, trial and suffering, produce something good in you. Try not to fight the pain - just because this hurts doesn't mean that it's bad. And hold onto the hope that God is working good out of this wreck.

I am here to say that through all of my failing and all of my faltering, through all of my flailing around and not believing God to carry me through this trial and storm, through all of my doubt that God could make something beautiful out of this - He loved me. He held onto me and He carried me through the storm and brought me safely to the other side. He cleaned up the mess and He built something new - something beautiful, something better.

Lately, I have noticed that I'm not the only one. I'm not the only person who has gone through really hard things, and I'm not the only one who has had my faith tested. In fact, this seems to be a fairly common thing that ordinary people go through. And so if that's you today - if you feel like your heart looks about like those storm-wrecked beaches of the Atlantic coastline - I want to say to you that God still loves you, and He is for you. Your mess does not separate you from the love of God. Nothing can separate you from the love of God and definitely definitely definitely not a season of struggle. Definitely not being a mess. Definitely not doubt, and definitely not wondering what in the world God is up to in this season of struggle.

So if that is you today, if you feel like you are indeed a storm-wrecked heart. This is what I think God would want to say to you: you are loved and you are not alone. Don't be afraid or ashamed. Come to God and let Him bring back order from your chaos. He will come and make all things new, come to Him in the middle of your mess. Come to Him with all your questions, all of your hurt and all of your aching and anger, and all of your longing and all of your confusion and all of your doubt. He is still here - He never left and through it all God loves you. Just wait, something really good just might come out of this.

And stay tuned because I have another blog post coming about some thoughts about going through a season of storms.

I wrote about my season of storm, and the shame I experienced in the aftermath - I'm calling it Confessions of a Roadkill Christian and it is launching in January. If you want to learn more about it click here. 

Saturday, September 9, 2017

A few book recommendation for this long rainy weekend

Untitled

Here in Augusta, we have a day (or maybe two) before whatever is left of hurricane Irma sends keeps us at home. School is already canceled for Monday and I'm mentally preparing for the possibility of being home on Tuesday too. My main hope for this weekend is to make a dent in my (totally out of control) To Be Read pile.

Earlier today I went live on my Instagram to give you a few ideas of what you might enjoy reading over this rainy weekend

Loving my Actual Christmas (currently only $7.40 on Amazon!!)
Because Christmas is around the corner, and sometimes it is most definitely not the most wonderful time of the year.

Reading People
Because not everyone sees the world the same way that you do.

Deeper Waters
Because life is just better when we draw closer to God through His Word.

Brave is the new Beautiful
Becuase "beautiful" is more than just a size.
She also wrote Table in the Darkness about her healing journey through an eating disorder

Fear Fighting
Becuase it is time to get out of the swampy place of fear and anxiety.

Never Unfriended
Because the key to finding the friend you want is being the friend you want.
Companion Bible Study: We Save You a Seat

its not fair: learning to love the life you didn't choose
Because sometimes life is really really not fair, and sometimes you just need a girlfriend who has "been there, done that" to be honest with you about when life does not go as expected.

Looking for Lovely
Companion Bible Study & Bible Study for Teen Girls
by Emily Freeman: simply tuesday & a million little ways
also Simply Tuesday Coloring Book & Grace for the Good Girl

out of sorts
Because now more than ever we need to talk about the evolution of faith.

sacred marriage by Gary Thomas
Because marriage is more about holiness than happiness.
also by Gary Thomas: cherish

I'll be posting about more Christian new releases soon! 

Untitled
Fiction: 
I didn't have time to mention some of the fiction books I've read from the Library. If you're looking for a light clean novel to download onto your Kindle or request from the Library here are a few I enjoyed:

Finding Audrey
Sophie Kinsella is the queen of chick-lit and this one is my favorite - it's also the cleanest of her novels (that I have read so far). It is about a teen coping with anxiety after an undescribed incident at school and it is just so good. I read it quickly and enjoyed it thoroughly.

Close Enough to Touch
Here is the basic plot: Jubilee Jenkins is allergic to human touch. She is working in a library which is where she meets Eric and his adopted son (who happens to be my favorite character of the whole book). It has light romance, lots of books and mainly happens in a library. So obviously, I loved it.
Side note: the cover on Amazon looks different than the cover of the one that I checked out of my library.

Ginny Moon 
If you have asked me for a book recommendation in the last six months this is probably the first one that I suggested because I love this book. It is about Ginny - a girl with autism who was recently adopted. She is obsessed with her "baby doll" who she left in a suitcase under her bed at her apartment when the police took her away from her negligent mother and string of abusive boyfriends, but it becomes increasingly obvious that her "baby doll" was actually her baby sister. This book is everything I wanted it to be. I wanted to read it as fast as possible. I wanted to know what happened to Baby Doll. My heart broke for Ginny and her adoptive mom as they struggled to work through their relationship. It was nice to read something not romantic or dark or too deep.

Today Will Be Different
To be honest I didn't love "Where'd You Go Bernadette: a Novel" (by the same author) but I loved this one. It is about a middle-aged woman who is struggling with depression, feeling creatively stuck and suspicions about her husband's recent behavior. It is a terrific read and has a satisfying ending.

for more fiction suggestions read my fiction blog

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

A review of "Reading People" by Anne Bogel


First of all, I have to confess to being a big fan of Anne Bogel's Modern Mrs. Darcy blog. Because of her blog I was able to rekindle my love of reading fiction and re-discovered a piece of myself that I had lost in the chaos of parenting a half-dozen little ones. Now I will often say I feel most like myself when I have a good book to read. I appreciate Anne's presence on the internet so much and feel like she is a kindred spirit and an older sister. 

So when I heard that Anne was writing a new book I knew I'd read it, whatever it was about. Then I heard that the title was "Reading People" and I heard about a "what type of reader are you?" quiz and for a minute I was confused about what her book might be about. If you were confused too - let me clear it up: Anne Bogel's new book Reading People is a brief survey of her favorite personality frameworks. Like having a long conversation at your favorite coffee shop with your very smart (and slightly nerdy - in the best way possible) best friend, she shares the basics of each framework and, between stories about herself and her family, helps us understand why having a basic understanding of these personality frameworks has the potential to positively affect how we relate to people - both at home and at work,  as well as to help us function more optimally ourselves.


When my oldest was little, maybe two or three years old, we lived in a little duplex by the railroad tracks. Every morning, when she would wake up, she would ask "Can I go outside to play?" and every morning I would say "No baby, the grass is too wet to play." and every morning she would say "Can I go check?" and every morning I would get my feelings hurt by this. I would answer "No, I already told you, the grass is wet." Every morning I would get exasperated with her - did my daughter not trust me? Did she think I would lie about grass being wet? Did she think I was so stupid that I didn't understand the concept of dew?

Around this time, I borrowed a book from my MOPs mentor about personality frameworks (this one was specifically about how personality impacts education) and one of the sections dealt with the difference between the "abstract" thinker and the "concrete" thinker. I am an "abstract" thinker - I am future-oriented and can easily grasp big-picture ideas (but lose details easily). My daughter is very much a "concrete" thinker. She is detail-oriented, very literal, and she likes to be able to "touch" what she is learning; to experience it for herself, or in other words, nothing is true in the mind of the concrete learner until they have discovered it to be true for themselves. This is terrific for scientists and researchers and all kinds of innovators, but it can be hard to parent at age three. This ongoing struggle with wet grass had nothing to do with respect or trust, this was just how my daughter processed information and perceived her world.

The next morning my daughter woke up and asked "Can I go play outside?" I said "No baby, the grass is too wet." she whipped out her usual question, "Can I go check?" and this time I said "Sure." She went outside, touched the grass, came back in, and said "Yep, the grass is wet."  I don't remember having this discussion ever again.


One of the most important ways that I have grown as a parent has been trying to learn to understand my children. I have six and each one of them are unique (and constantly growing). They are each a one-of-a-kind combination of personality, preference, sensitivity and strengths. Trying to understand them is an ongoing study and every time I am able to have an "aha" moment about one or the other of my kids is a moment of achievement for me. Honestly, I don't have an enormous amount of time (or brain power) to read a lot of techincal books on personality. I wish I did, and I will occasionally check out a couple big fat ones from my local library but I usually fall asleep trying to read them. Reading People is just the kind of book to get our toes wet in the kiddie-pool area of the swimming pool of personality frameworks.

Reading People covers the topics of Introversion vs Extroversion, what it means to be a Highly Sensitive Person, the Five Love Languages, Myers-Briggs Types Indicator, MBTI Cognitive Functions, Strengths Finder, and the Enneagram. Anne Bogel writes that these personality frameworks are "tools for understanding why we do the things we do, why some things come easy while others are difficult" and that they "help us understand why other people do the things they do especially when their thoughts, feelings and actions in a given situation are profoundly different from our own."  Each chapter gave me something to think about.

Anne also shares through the book about her experience with trying to understand herself better and the importance of being honest with ourselves. She writes "I made the mistake of answering the questions based on what I wanted to be like, not what I really was like... [or] I answered questions according to my learned behaviors, not according to my inborn preferences."


Understanding these personality frameworks help us with understanding what we need "to feel like [our] best selves (ideally) or a functional human being (realistically)" This is one of my favorite quotes! It is so relatable. I just turned 34 last weekend and lately I have been surprised by some of the things I have been learning about myself. I thought I was self-accepting, I thought I had come to terms with the person I see in the mirror. Turns out I consistently see myself as who I want to be or wish I were and I keep bumping into the limits of what I can and can not do and still be a "functional human being". Learning my personality has been helping me understand who I  really am and what I need to function optimally.


One of the chapters I struggled with, surprisingly enough, was the chapter on love languages. My self-image in this area is that I am a low-maintenance gal.  I don't like to admit that I have needs, wants or even preferences.  But this past weekend, as I unwrapped my husband's gift I literally burst into tears. He upgraded my phone, something that I had been wanting but was positive it was something we would not be able to afford for awhile. Not only that he made sure that my phone was backed up and had it delivered before my birthday. It meant so much to me that he'd been planning this for weeks. For my husband it was gratifying for him to see that he was able to make me so happy. I don't want to admit it - but my love language is probably gift giving. Fighting this about myself and refusing to admit that this is my love language has kept me from being able to communicate to my husband about what I need from him in order to feel loved.


There have been so many aha moments as I've been reading Reading People. Especially while reading the chapter on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) Cognitive Functions. I know it is a mouthful, and it did make my brain hurt a little bit, but this chapter is brilliant and it helped me discover more clearly what my Myers-Briggs Type is and even more than the what of my type I feel like I am starting to understand clearly the why of my type. This chapter also clarified why I feel the way I do about my Enneagram type. That is a whole other post for a whole other day.

So there you go. I highly recommend this book. Unless you are super well-read in personality frameworks, then this might seem too basic for you - or maybe you will enjoy comparing notes? I don't know. I will be reading this book again for sure, especially as my youngest kids get older (I have no idea what personality type my youngest has. Is there a practically perfect in every way type? Oh that's right no. Every personality has it's strengths and it's weaknesses.) If you are a fan of the Myers-Briggs this might help you understand some of the psychology it is based on and help you understand your type a little bit better. If you don't know your MB personality type I think this book would definitely help you figure it out. Or if you kinda hate personality types (she addresses pretty much everything that made me once hate this particular type-sorter) there is still something to be learned in here and it is such an enjoyable read that I think you'll agree that whether you jump on the personality framework band-wagon or not you at least now know enough to engage in some small-talk on the topic.

To learn more about the pre-order gifts available click here.

I am thrilled to have been a part of Anne's Launch Team! This review is based on the electronic advanced reader copy that I received for the purpose of review. Some of the links in this post are Amazon affiliate links, thank you for supporting my blog!  Honestly though, whether you request the books I review from your local library or borrow it from your friend I hope that I can help you find a good book. Because I don't know about you but I feel most like myself when I have a good book to read. 

If you are visiting from the Launch Team please let me know! Either in a comment below or on my Instagram, Facebook or Twitter pages. I am getting ready to publish my first book! If you'd like to learn more about it please click here.

Want to chat more about personality type and how you can apply it to you day to day life? Check out my coaching page and request a free 30 minute call.



Monday, August 28, 2017

What is my measure of failure?


morning 

I am the kind of person who has a steady running monologue in their head.  Sometimes I am more aware of this than at other times. Sometimes this inner voice is like my "talker" kids, it just rambles on about nothing at all. But sometimes, like this morning, it comes in pounding hard and loud like a two year old in full-on meltdown and I hear it clearly.

This morning I was just changing the baby's diaper and I heard it loud and clear, the wail between my ears crying I am failing at everything!!!! 

Most days I agree with the voice in my head. I say to her ugh, yes! You are SO right. Can you believe how badly I responded to that kid, and how far from my ideal the kitchen is right now? Why can't you get your act together girl? It's not really that hard.

Today was a little different though. I surprised even myself and I contradicted this voice of accusation. I asked myself - define failure. I looked around and I thought - yes, I agree that I am not going to get a 100 in any area of my life right now. But I'm also not getting a zero in any area of my life either. So define failure. Is failure a 70? Is failure less than 50? 

I grew up with a perfectionist dad. Being a perfectionist is awesome when you are a computer programmer like my dad was -  a single character our out of place can ruin the whole day. You have to be critical and you have to quickly spot errors. It is a brilliant quality for problem solvers but it can be a double-edged sword, because the quality that makes you successful as a worker can make you be less-successful as a dad. Nobody likes to be constantly criticized or told that they could do better, especially a child. Especially when that child really did try but the only things that gets noticed is the errors.

I've been reading Jen Hatmaker's book Of Mess and Moxie (and posting about it on Instagram constantly) and she very humorously comments on her lack of perfection throughout the book. She fully recognizes and she accepts that she is not perfect. She writes that usually she is failing somewhere around 30% of the time and she accepts it, laughs about it even and she celebrates the part that she is getting right.

Today I hear the words of accusation that I'm failing at everything and asking myself to back up a second and remember that just because I'm struggling or all-out failing at something some of the time, does that mean that I am a complete failure? Does that mean that I am "failing at everything".

Today what I really meant was that I'm feeling stressed out and lacked direction for the day. Once Eli and I got started with school and we got caught up for the week and I watched him laugh through his dictation and watched him try to write his spelling words with zero push-back I was doing a happy dance on the inside.  And instead of automatically accepting the fact that I am failing because I'm struggling at keeping up with my son's (cyber) homeschool lessons on just the 2nd week of school I am celebrating the fact that he knew every single one of the sight words in both his basic card pack and the advanced pack. So I'm not doing everything wrong.

I  am not failing.
I am not perfect.
I accept my imperfection
and move on.



How do you practice accepting your imperfections? Lave a comment below or let me know on my Instagram, Facebook or Twitter pages. Want to chat more about perfectionism and embracing your imperfections? Check out my coaching page and request a free 30 minute call.



I'm writing a book!! If you'd like to get more information as it becomes available please subscribe to my newsletter:

Subscribe to my Newsletter

* indicates required

Monday, August 21, 2017

Confessions


Here is my confession: Last week I was struggling - big time. I sat on the front seat of that struggle bus and rode it all the way home. I struggled to do basic things like take showers and eat. Almost every night I found myself scrolling Facebook mindlessly at 1am. By Friday I was in full-on zombie mode, and by Sunday I was having a meltdown.

It's Monday morning here at my house as I start Back to School Week 2. This morning I stumbled around the kitchen thinking what in the world am I supposed to be doing? I am really not a morning person. Thankfully I finally remembered that Monday = packing Josiah's lunch, dragging Eli out of bed and getting ourselves into carline.

Josiah just started back to going to a brick and mortar school after a year and a half at home with me doing cyber-shcool/homeschool. Hopefully this is going to be a wonderful experience for him but it requires me to do the whole car line thing every day - there's no bus option available at his school. So we're doing car line, something I haven't had to do since Josiah was about two years old. He's in 4th grade now. So to all my other car line mammas - solidarity.

There were some things I did well this week - I got Josiah to school and picked him up on time every day, despite my fear that I would zone-out and end up at the Starbucks drive-thru. Also I got all of Eli's assignments for cyber-school checked off. So this week wasn't a total loss.

If I could be sorted into the Divergent faction system I would be Abnegation. Every time. I grew up in a religious community that valued the forgetting of self and consequently the term "self-care" has always been a bit cringy to me. The problem with this - with not paying attention to self-care - is that it makes it hard for me to communicate with others, or even recognize within myself, when things are starting to go off the rails.

You might call self-care "self-knowledge put into action". This spring when I was chatting with my life coach about this I called it "optimized operation" because just like a piece of machinery has it's conditions in which it operates well and then the conditions in which it will become glitchy - I need to be aware of the conditions in which I start becoming glitchy and turn into a momzilla.

This week: I'm re-organizing myself and re-prioritizing what goes done in a day. It turns out taking a shower most days is more important to me than I realized and (duh) spending too much time on social media messes with my mood. I'm reminding myself that I need to make sure that I do the things that turn me towards optimum performance, which means saying no to the yummy 99cent coffee at car-line because no matter how much I enjoy it in the moment I don't enjoy the 1am jittery sleeplessness that results from said treat. I'm putting priority in spending a little time with girlfriends because a whole week without any adult female face-to-face time is just too long.

How do you practice self-care? Lave a comment below or let me know on my Instagram, Facebook or Twitter pages. Want to talk about what self-care changes you might need to make as you move into a new season? Check out my coaching page.



I'm writing a book!! If you'd like to get more information as it becomes available please subscribe to my newsletter:

Subscribe to my Newsletter

* indicates required

Sunday, August 13, 2017

So what is up with this whole blogging thing?

A post shared by faith raider (@faithraider) on

So I wrote the other day about this blogging webinar I sat through... and I wanted to share a few thoughts I had about blogging and life as a busy mama. So as it this webinar was coming up I walked outside with Grayson and we took a few deep breaths, and laughed in the sunshine as he jumped on our trampoline. And I thought about blogging and what I hoped to get out of this webinar.

It seems like if you are a blogger you can not open Facebook without seeing about a million and a half ads telling you they they can increase your traffic, help you launch that successful course, host that webinar, build that list. And y'all it is just so overwhelming and exhausting to me.

And as I was standing out there in the sunshine I had this realization: having a huge blog that pays all of the bills around here is not what God has called me to do.

Now I realize that a blog and an email list is part of the business of publishing a book. But you can have a successful book launch without a massively popular blog. I'm not saying I don't want to write a blog - I do. I am just saying that I finally realize that it's just a means to an end. Not the end in and of itself.


A post shared by faith raider (@faithraider) on

What God has called me to do is this: love people.
First my family - my hubs and these awesome six little (and not so little anymore) people. Then the small circle of people who are my real-life friends. These are the friends I love with words but mostly with listening, and speaking and hugging and texting.

Then I love with words. Mostly in a file on my computer at the moment, but one day with books. And the point of the books is still to love people. The point of this blog is simply to love one word and picture at a time: to shine light, to display beauty, to be authentic and vulnerable. To share what I'm learning at the moment as best as I can.

Blogging is a beast. It can chew you up and spit you out in a minute. Blogging can be insanely frustrating and disappointing and all that plus a little. It can be tempting and can warp your self-image in a hot-minute.

Writing is my calling. I didn't ask God to make my a writerly soul - but he did. With my own unique perspective and experience and place in this journey and my own little splinter of His image - and I want to display His beauty as bravely as I possibly can.

So in case you were wondering, and I know you probably weren't but I'm writing it here anyway, this is why I'm blogging.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Blog Inspiration

Today I sat for about an hour listening to one of those FREE webinars. sigh. Yes they pitched their course at the end. I didn't hang around to hear how much money that I don't have right now they want me to fork over so that I can make a "full-time income with my blog". I have some more thoughts on all of this which I plan to share after the weekend. However, the up side to all of this is input is that it has turned my creativity into high gear. I even started a Pinterest board with blog inspiration! Like a style board maybe? But for my blog. Who am I even?  Okay. So anyway the pins on this board are just way too cute to keep to myself so I'm sharing a couple bunch of my favorites here, for no particular reason. I'm not even going to give any commentary on why I included them in my inspiration board I'm just going to leave it here for you and hopefully these will brighten up your day.
source
source

source
source
source
Tumblr
source

source
Dear Friend blog

via: Aliza Latta's blog
source

source
Tumblr

Instagram
Andrea Hanki Photography
source
source

Amelia Lyon Photography

Etsy




SaveSaveSaveSave
SaveSave

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

the one thing I don't want to do

A lot of people online are writing about Lysa TerKeurst's divorce. I posted a link to one of those posts on my Facebook page this morning, it's a beautiful post from the husband's perspective, but as I read his post I felt like maybe I should write from my own experience. Because while I don't know what it is like to experience the kind of heartbreak and betrayal that Lysa has been experiencing I do know a little something about being in a failing marriage. I do not mean this as a criticism of Lysa or her marriage, I am the last person in the world to judge another woman about her marriage.  I have been the foolish woman who tears down her house with her own two hands, and I have sat across the room from Daniel as he is telling me that he doesn't want to be married to me any more. Words spoken not out of anger  in the middle of an argument, but words of surrender to the heartache of a failing marriage. We have walked through that fire and come out on the other side, and I'd say we are stronger now than we have been in a long long time. I'd consider this  nothing less than a miracle.


As I have lived on the roller coaster of an unhappy marriage I have learned that there is a time to be quiet. When marriage is hard sometimes  the only thing you can do is bring your broken heart to God and cry out to Him and trust Him, in the middle of the wind and waves, to be the rock under your feet. Sometimes you just have to stand still and trust that God will make the walls fall down. Sometimes you have to be quiet and let God fight your battles. I think that maybe this comes more naturally for me. I am good at standing still and I am good at being quiet.


But lately I have been learning that sometimes  I need to do the one thing that I don't want to do to fight for my marriage. Sometimes I need to speak up. I am learning that I am the canary in our marriage. I am the one who makes mountains out of molehills before the molehills become mountains. I am learning that sometimes I have to fight for my marriage with my mouth. With kindness and with encouragement and with a challenge. It didn't take me long to learn that I'm not the Holy Spirit and it's not my job to take responsibility for Daniel's walk with God. It's not my job to be picky,nagging or complaining, and it's not my job to change my husband so that things are more comfortable for myself. But it is my job to fight for my marriage. It means I don't give up and I don't give up and I keep on speaking up. It means I don't expect him to agree the first time or the second time and I try not to take it personally but I keep on believing in my marriage. I keep on loving. I don't give up the hope that I will have a happy marriage one day with the man I'm married to now.

I totally suck at this. I am better at getting offended and angry or quiet and bitter. I am not good at giving a loving challenge, especially when I know it probably won't be well-received. But I've also learned what happenes when I am quiet when I should speak up. It is unloving and selfish and the one way I don't want to love my husband. I am very good at sweeping things under the rug and getting over it and letting things go. I would rather love my husband with all of the hugs and cups of coffee in the world just don't ask me to have another hard conversation where I feel not-listened to.

When my marriage hit rock-bottom I felt like God gave me this challenge - was I willing to do the one thing I don't want to do in order to fight for my marriage?  I don't know what your one thing that you don't want to do might be. This is mine.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Kid Lit Book Review: Can you Find My Robot's Arm?


There is a time in the life our young child, as they are learning to enjoy the wonderful things that we call books, when all they want is books with only a few words on each page. This can be a challenging stage and we tend to either read a lot of really boring books and/or we end up reading the same few over and over and over until we can pretty much "read" without so much as look at the page. Well, let me introduce you to a newcomer to your children's bookshelf. It is called  Can You Find My Robot's Arm? - it is by Chihiro Takeuchi and it features beautiful hand-cut paper illustrations.


The story follows a young robot who has lost his arm. The robot and it's small friend search around town -  in the garden, at the candy store,  the amusement park, the aquarium - trying to find a suitable replacement for the robot's arm. Each illustration is intricate and interesting - sure to capture the imagination of the robot-loving and detail-loving child. Each page is simple and can be read quickly. Each illustration is beautifully intricate. You can pre-order the book on Amazon - it releases July 4.


I received a digital copy of this book from NetGalley.com for the purpose of this review. Links to Amazon are affiliate links. Thank you for supporting my blog! If you want to see what I'm reading to my kids right now then be sure to follow me on Instagram! 

SaveSave

Monday, May 15, 2017

Dear Mothers of Littles who Struggle to Keep Up with Housework

So, tonight I cleaned my kitchen. Maybe in your house that's an everyday thing but my big girls have been doing the dishes after dinner most nights for the last couple of years (yes, it's pretty much as wonderful as it sounds). However tonight they messed up and didn't do their chores, and since Grayson was asleep I decided I would go ahead and clean the kitchen so things wouldn't pile up.

As I wiped down the counters I found a note from a friend. I had stashed it there specifically so that a) it wouldn't get lost or destroyed and b) so that I could read it again one day when I'd needed the encouragement. So with a dish rag in one hand and a kitchen towel over my shoulder I sat down at the kitchen table and read that note again. My friend reminded me of who she sees when she looks at me - not someone who is a mess, or a disaster or boring or whatever, but someone who is a gift. And some other really nice things that helped me remember who I am.

I put the card in a more semi-permanant place where it should be safe from the fingers of my 18 month old but where I'll find it again and as I got back to wiping counters I felt the Holy Spirit remind me of the words Jesus said to Martha"she has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her." 

It made me pause.

what I REALLY wore

I shared this picture on my Instagram the other day - it's one of my all time favorite pictures from when Eli was a baby because it is just so honest. This is exactly what my room looked like and pretty much what I looked like most days back then. Honestly it is still what I look like most days - except for that shirt is too small for me now so one of my big girls wears it and it looks so much better on her than it ever did on me.

I don't think it is any surprise to anyone who knows me at all but I am one of "those moms" who struggle with housework. I had a messy room as a kid (I hated it when my mom made me clean because I could never find anything!) and I struggled with a messy house for the approximately five seconds between when we got married and I got pregnant. I struggled under the mountain of laundry and the kitchen sink full of dishes and a bunch of little kids. I'd momentarily "get my act together" and luxuriate in the bliss of clean surfaces but that never lasted.

I just can't wash dishes while my baby cries and I don't care if there is laundry to be folded if my kiddo needs a cuddle, and since we are being honest here - I would way rather read a book than vacuum. I am also super lazy about dusting, I would just way rather do other things that help me calm down after an emotionally overwhelming day. Yes, this drives my neat freak very tidy husband totally nuts.

During these fifteen years of struggling with the housework I have struggled even more with feeling guilty about it. Over the years I've taken small steps away from the burden of shame and I have let go of the the jealousy of comparison. I have more or less stopped judging what is hard for me against what brings other women joy, bust still. It's a temptation to feel like I'm less of a good mom because I'm a horrific housewife.

I'm not saying that y'all all stop caring about your housework or become more like me, not even for a minute but, over the years I have chosen to snuggle babies and sit and read with little kiddos. I've sat and talked with teenagers. I've taken a nap  (because I'm just not the same person as when I've had enough sleep). I've read books and stayed up too late writing. I've chosen to go have coffee with a friend, and chosen to just go take a bath and think. Over these fifteen years I have become the result of all of those little choices and maybe not all of those choices were always the "best" ones but a lot of them were really good ones for me and I am thankful for what that has done to the inside of me.

So what I am saying is that we all keep taking another step away from the "shoulds" and the "oughts" and the lies of shame - it isn't helping anyway. You're not able to do everything all of the time. Some balls are going to drop - so take a second and make sure they are the right ones.

So Dear Mother of Littles who Struggles to Keep Up with the Housework - I'm cheering for you. On the flip side of this weakness there is a strength. Ask God to open your eyes to it. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you see your days the way Jesus sees them. I bet he loves the way you listen and the way you play. The way you teach and the way you take your time when you could have rushed. He loves every minute you spent tickling that baby and every moment you spent looking at the random bug your kid is interested in because He loves to see you love so well. I don't think God looks at some Heavenly chore chart that is lacking in gold stars for the day, not even a little. He sees the hours spent rocking crying babies and He notices how gently we bathe them after the massive diaper blow-out.

This is the stuff of Heaven here on earth.



Saturday, May 13, 2017

#DearMotherofLittles

My second-oldest had her eighth-grade formal last night. I'm remembering her older sister's formal just last year and I'm feeling every shade of nostalgic today. My girls have just grown so fast this year. And so I've been thinking about that sweet young mama who was me not all that long ago, and I have been trying to think about what she needed to hear...  


DSCF0034
2004

Dear Mother of Littles,
I remember what it was like as a mother of littles - in the quiet, when the day had been long and hard and I hadn't quite been the person I had hoped I would be, motherhood felt unbearably heavy. It felt a lot like drowning and a little bit like being buried alive. Sometimes I'd look around me and wonder why I struggled so much.  I felt like I should be able to do all of this (and with a smile on my face!) but the reality of most days was that I felt more like crying. I was trying so desperately to be a good mom for my kids but I felt like I must be doing something wrong for this to be so hard.

I remember feeling so lonely even though I barely got a minute alone. I remember feeling utterly exhausted emotionally and at the same time bored out of my mind.  I felt trapped at the same time as I felt like there was no place I'd rather be. I felt like I was doing both the most important and the most meaningless work. I was scared to death that my kids would grow up, turn to point an accusing finger at me, and list all of the ways I had failed them as they were growing up.

Dear Mother of Littles this season is so hard. It is just really really really really really (shall I keep going?) really really hard. It is so hard to have little people crying, screeching and whining at you all day long. Those moments when everyone is happy and things are running smoothly are just too few and far between. It is so hard to deal with the pressure of the sleep training and the potty training and the everything-else-training every waking moment (and a lot of the moments when you should be sleeping). It is so hard when sleep deprivation stretches out beyond days or weeks into years. And why on earth does it have to be so hard just to do something as simple as empty the dishwasher?! It is so very hard when it feels like no one else in our little home really understands how brutally hard theses days usually are. But sweet mama, please hear this, because it took me altogether too long to learn this for myself. It doesn't feel this hard because you are weak or because you're doing it wrong,  it feels this hard because This Is Hard. 




We all struggled through this season. Some of us coped with the struggle by writing or photography or craft projects or going places with our kids. Some of us coped by trying to keep our houses clean, some of us coped by giving up on housework completely. Some of us coped by exercising a lot, some of us gave up on exercise completely for awhile. Please don't judge your inside by somebody else's outside or your weakness against another mother's strength.

Eventually your little one is going to be able to do the most amazing things. They are going to grow up and be able to make you a sandwich and help you remember where you left your shoes. They are going to sleep all night in their own bed, every night. They will help you with that mountain of laundry you can never quite conquer. And eventually you are going to set aside those Dora the Explorer DVDs (or Paw Patrol or whatever it is the little kids are watching on Netflix these days) and the two of you are going to go see that movie that just came out that is based on the book you both read and it is going to be amazing. 

Dear Mother of Littles - you are going to be okay. You are going survive this season and head into the next one better and stronger for it. I know there are moments when you wonder if you have what it takes to get through this. You do. This is a season of intense sowing but right around the corner you'll finally start reaping the first little bit of a harvest and it is going to be so satisfying. Keep your eyes open for it. Don't miss it. He is eventually going to walk right along beside you without fighting you every step of the way, and she is going to show so much compassion for a sibling or a friend that it is going to melt your heart. You are going to watch her do something you thought was maybe too hard for her and you are going to witness his intelligence and curiosity. Eventually, she is going to sit up in the front seat and talk about the way she sees the world and it is going to blow your mind what a smart, kind person is growing up next to you. 

Right now you can only barely imagine what incredible young people these little kids are going to become. I know you might have an idea in your head - but take that, multiply it times ten and maybe you are in the same neighborhood of how awesome your kids are becoming.  They are going to be real people, with their own quirks and irritating behavior and weaknesses and struggles. They are going to drive you crazy sometimes, and sometimes the parenting issues you are going to face with them are going to knock the wind out of you for a minute. But not every day, and definitely not in the rapid-fire way that it is when you are home with little ones.

Dear Mother of Littles - what you are doing now matters. The way you hug her when she falls, the way you encourage him to try again, the way that you walk around in the world and talk to your friends. The way that you encourage, challenge, and correct your sweet littles matters. Eventually you're going to visit your child at school or bump into other older kids at the park and you're going to see what it does to a child to not have a parent who is nurturing, and you're going to realize all over again that what you are doing now matters a lot. It might not feel like it in the moments - all of these hours of nursing and bottles and diapers and walking around with spit-up on your shirt, or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and legos - they usually feel like nothing in the moment. These ordinary moments seem like the spare change that falls into the couch and isn't missed, the pennies that we pass in the parking lot and don't bother to stop and pick up. Our days are full of these penny moments - but these penny moments add up to something really valuable. Eventually our kids meet the world with an ocean full of penny moments, and they are rich with compassion and curiosity; the ability to show respect and exercise self-control. 



I know that these days feel long, hard, and sometimes suffocating. I know that sometimes each season feels like an entire lifetime. I know that sometimes it is infuriating, the way that just as you were finally settling into a rhythm your baby grows and changes, and your routine has to grow with it. I remember how hard it was during those first few years after they started school and how it felt like maybe now nothing in my life was ever going to change again ever. And I know that mothers with older kids, like me, sometimes say annoying things about how much we miss the baby years or how fast these years fly by. Sometimes we complain about how hard the teen years are and try to compare our struggle to yours. Ugh, just to all of it, ugh. But when I stop to remember what it felt like for me, as a mother of littles, all I just want to say is - you are doing the thing the that matters most. Your imperfect mothering is enough and you are doing a good job. I don't think you can even know right now, from the place where you sit on the floor with your kids, what an amazing thing it is that you are doing. And I love you for that.


IMG_1070



Dear Mother of Not-So-Littles,

My friend Jessica recently re-posted a link to this post where she asks the moms of the not-so-littles to remember what words mamas of littles really need to hear (and what is less helpful). She is deep in the trenches of motherhood, in the struggle of the static-hold-hard of the elementary school years - the day after day after day of lunch boxes to pack, car lines to wait in, and homework - wash, rinse, repeat. She does not want to hear that the teen years are even harder. It's just not helpful.

I had another conversation recently, with my friend Bethany, that went along the same lines. She has two kids under three, her days are long and hard and she confessed that when other moms say things like like "you'll miss this one day" and "these years fly by" or "cherish every moment!" that she doesn't feel any better. It's just not helpful.

So I am starting a hashtag on Instagram where I'll be writing encouraging notes to those who are just beginning their journey of motherhood and I'm calling it #DearMotherofLittles. I'm also offering this hashtag to you - what did your younger self need to hear? Tag your note #DearMotherofLittles. Now that you have made it around the bend, would you pause for a moment to glance back and leave a love note for those who are on their way? Use the hashtag #DearMotherofLittles and feel free to join in wherever you show up on social media.