A Mama on Her Knees

I’ve been doing so good these past few weeks at keeping my sense of humor and finding the silver lining; but today, things hit my heart a bit harder…

Part of it was just exhaustion from being out of routine and normalcy with the kids.  Everything kind of caught up with me, and I felt the weight of all that’s going on in the world around us.  My heart felt heavy.

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Then tonight, B-boy asked to sleep with a stuffed animal…

He never, ever has been into sleeping with stuffed animals, but I’ve seen all of the current events slowly start to affect him.  We try to explain things on his level and allow him to live in as safe of a bubble as possible, but he does know that we can’t see many family members – and any friends – right now because so many people in our state are sick.  He knows that most stores are closed for two weeks, that church has had to close its doors for now, and that he’s not allowed to go to the grocery store with mommy for his safety.   He cried when I told him that we can’t visit my grandfather for awhile.

He hasn’t been allowed anywhere other than home or outside to play for almost three weeks now.  His little mind can’t understand it all, but he’s smart.  He knows something big and scary has changed our normalcy.  And I saw it tonight in the way he fell asleep, clinging tightly to a fuzzy, stuffed monkey.  It broke my heart.

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Afterward, I popped onto Facebook (which is really dangerous these days for one’s stress level), and the first thing that caught my eyes was a chart in which the New York Times (or some kind of publication like that) tried to predict just how widely this virus would spread and how greatly it would impact our country by May 2020.

And my brain started spinning…

Are we going to really be okay like I’ve been telling myself?  What about the lives lost?  I have so many close friends and family who are high risk, and I try not to think about how hard it would be for them to beat a virus like this.  What about the jobs lost and the families who are losing income (or even businesses) over this?  My heart started to race and panic and break, all at once.

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And so I started praying…

Almost right away, God brought a verse to my mind about praying for leaders and those in government.

1 Timothy 2:1 – 4.  “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.”

Here’s the thing…  My anxiety rises when I start to think about absolutely everything that is out of my control.  Because I start to see all of these problems – physical and financial – and I worry about how they can be fixed.  I worry about how they’re going to hurt those I love if they’re not fixed.

But as I sat there, I was reminded that I am not in a position where I have absolutely any control over these things.   Not a bit!  I can’t write laws.  I’m not sitting in a board room, trying to determine the best way to make sure people are provided for.  I’m not working on a cure or helping to determine the best way to slow the virus’ spread.

What I have been charged with is praying for those who are.  Imagine if we all joined together and prayed for our leaders…  That they might have wisdom right now.  That they would have the answers to save lives and bring about financial stability for those who are losing so much.  Imagine if we surrounded them with so much prayer support that they could actually feel God’s strength and guidance in every decision they made!

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That’s a powerful force right there!

Right now, I am not called to solve the world’s problems by sitting at home and worrying about what might happen, because – spoiler alert – that won’t do anyone any good.  More than ever, any other role or job that I have ever balanced has been pushed aside; and I am mom.  I have nothing to do and nowhere to go except to pour into their lives.

I can’t control what’s happening outside my home, but – inside these walls – I can be THE best mommy and wife that I can possibly be.  I can bring light and joy into our home, when outside the darkness is trying to spread fear.  I can teach my children to appreciate what really matters and to be thankful for every provision that God has blessed us with.  I can guide them in how to trust in God when they feel a little uncertain. And I can shower them with love and laughter while holding them close.

That is the task with which I have been entrusted.

Right now, my job is to just be mommy.  And to fight the other battles through prayer, not worry!  And fully realizing and embracing that put it all into perspective for me.

Prayer is powerful.  Raising two little ones is a precious responsibility.  That is enough!  Anxiety and worry does nothing but get in the way of those two incredible actions that I can take to make a difference in a world that’s hurting.

The most important work you will ever do will be within the walls of your own home. I love this quote - and this free printable!

Blank Squares

I just ordered a new calendar this morning, and – as I hit ‘purchase’ – I found myself reflecting on this upcoming year.  January 1st may just be a date written on a 12 x 24 piece of paper hanging from my kitchen door, but it really does send the Type-A side of my brain into overdrive just a bit.  We’ve already almost completed another 365 days, and the countdown is about to begin on another.

What did I do with this past year?  Did I accomplish my goals?  What do I want to achieve during the brand new year?

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Although I’m not big on having New Year’s resolutions like “this year I’m going to lose five pounds” hanging over my head, I do enjoy setting goals for myself.   After all, you’re not really living if you’re not growing.  And I always want to strive to be a better person.

But the funny thing is that – looking back – what I see as my biggest accomplishment of 2019 was what I didn’t do.

As a planner freak, the white squares on a brand new calendar make me positively giddy with delight, because I can’t wait to fill them up.  Just hand me a pen, and ready…set…scribble.  Let’s plan out this year!

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But for the first time in probably forever, I’ve started to focus more on the significance of those white squares themselves.  Because each one designates a day.  Valuable time that, once spent, I won’t get back.

So what am I spending it on?  Who am I spending it on?

Over the course of these past few months, I was – out of necessity – forced to say “no” and prioritize what I said “yes” to more than I had in the past.  My hubby was under a lot of stress at work and started a new position…  We were all stretched a bit thin… The kids were acting more emotional than normal… I was burnt out…

Something had to give.

Everything just kind of felt as though it was spinning out of control, so – in a desperate attempt to gain footing – I cleared our schedules… a lot.  And at the time, being forced to do that made me feel like I was being punished.  😉  As I cut back and scribbled out plans (or said “no” to new ones), I kind of wanted to pout like a two year old and declare, “Well, that’s not fair!”

But I knew it had to be done…  So I kept a close eye on our weekly schedules, making sure they were balanced more towards a slower pace.  I didn’t rush us out the door for every story time, play date, and activity we were invited to. Gasp, during a particularly busy week, I even purchased cookies from a bakery instead of making them homemade for a family event (an action which nearly gave me a heart attack, but I somehow survived to tell the tale).

I consoled myself with the fact that this would only be for a season…  I could pick everything back up once our family unit was allowed to breathe and collect itself.

But here’s the thing…  Over these past few months, I haven’t just grown accustomed to this new lifestyle.  I’ve started to thrive in it.

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Everything I did had been for my kids, but – along the way – we were so busy that they were unintentionally getting lost amidst the movement.  At the end of the day, they cherish the simple moments together most.  They get excited for playdates, enjoy library story times, and feel giddy at the thought of exploring new places.  But they particularly live for ‘lazy days’ (which is what we now call our ‘mommy-and-me’ days).

Granted, those lazy days, which I try to make happen once or twice a week now, are particularly busy for me…  😉  I sneak in a load of laundry or two; but we mostly do messy crafts, have dance parties, play outside, do chores together, make messes in the kitchen sink, snuggle, bake, and learn.  We hardly ever look at the clock, because we have nowhere to be.

My one focus is them.

Now of course, at the very core of things, that has always been my focus!  Everything I do is for them.  But when you’re all wrapped up in timelines, schedules, and ‘doing’, sometimes I wonder if little ones even realize that.  When you’re scolding your kids to hurry up and get their shoes on, because you’re going to rush off to the library to have so much fun learning…  Or when you chastise, because you had another craft planned out for the day and it’s just not turning out right…  Well, the chaos can – at times – steal some of the joy.

Impatient words or tones can overshadow the love behind what propels your actions to begin with.

Kids just want their moms.  The happy, smiling, full-of-life versions of their moms that too often get pushed aside and replaced with tired, impatient, stretched-too-thin mama’s.  (Let’s face it, we moms are already juggling way too much!  But thanks in part to mom-guilt fueled by Pinterest and social media, now we can also compare our efforts to unrealistic versions of other women.  So suddenly, we think we need to be doing ALL the crafts, serving pancakes decorated like Santa Claus, joining all the socialization playgroups, baking homemade breads for dinner, starting all the holiday traditions, teaching our six year olds Latin, and living in pristine homes decorated all in white).

Nope, nope, and nope!

Let’s let children be children… and mama’s be mama’s!

Slowing down a bit not only helped me and the kids reconnect on a deeper level, but it also encouraged me to take a bit of time for my own self-care. I’m talking healthy lunches.  Listening to encouraging podcasts while doing dishes.  Connecting with friends.  Taking a moment, on occasion, to do something ‘just for me’.

***Making sure morning devotions are top priority!***

Wait, let me put that in bold…

Making sure morning devotions are top priority!  

Girl, I don’t even take my first sip of coffee until I’ve had prayer and Bible time now.  If I worry about having time for that, I’m too busy.  Priorities!!

For me, it comes down to investing in faith, family, and friends.  Serving my King.  Loving people.  Taking care of myself and my family.  And finding balance, knowing that I can’t do everything.  So sometimes I need to say “no” in order to be able to fully say “yes.”

For I know the plans I have for you... to prosper you and not | Etsy

Sometimes, you can get so busy doing things for your family, that you lose the connection with your family.  (The same goes with your relationship with God, church, and friends too).  We need to stop…being…so… busy and to start connecting!

Sometimes, we just need a white square or two!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mama Has Gas (Part 2)

Part 1 in case you missed it

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I’ve read through the book of Galations more times than I can count and glossed over the verse “Love your neighbor as yourself” without a second thought, but only because it’s such a black and white commandment.  Love those around you, be a cheerful giver, and – whenever possible – find ways to help others with their needs.  It all fits under that verse, and it’s something that I really do try to live by.

That being said, I read that verse the other day during my morning devotions, and I froze as if I had never read those words before.  Wait, what?  Love my neighbor as myself?!? 

I’m just sayin’, if I loved my neighbors and friends the way I too often love and care for myself, they wouldn’t like me very much…

“Oh I’m sorry to hear about your surgery!  Here’s a few spoonfuls of leftover macaroni and cheese for you to eat for dinner.  And since I love you, I’ve also included a half-eaten hotdog and a strawberry.  Enjoy!”

I’d never treat anyone like that!  Well, anyone except for myself.

Is anyone else out there practically living off of whatever their kids didn’t eat for lunch?  And surviving on such little sleep and personal time that you probably shouldn’t be functioning?  Or how about putting so much effort into your family’s appearance on Sunday morning that you freeze in the church parking lot and look down, just to make sure that you’re wearing pants?

I always push forward with my half-empty tank of gas, because – well – I’m a mom.  So I’ve got this.  I’m good!  I’m SO ridiculously blessed by this beautiful family that how dare I ask for anything else?  How dare I complain?  Ever?!?

I’ve bought into the lie that I need to be all things…for all people…at all times.

Because somewhere along the way, we’ve tried to place moms on a pedestal dangerously close to a position that only God can hold.  God is the One who is all things for all people.  God is the only One who can provide, protect, comfort, nourish, and love without ever needing anything in return.

Love your neighbor as yourself…  Can we even do that if we’ve let our tanks run empty?  Can you pour from an empty cup?

I was not only created to desperately need Him to get through each day; but to also need nourishment and rest.  And He also created me with individual talents and passions that fill my heart with so much happiness when I get to take part in them.  That didn’t change just because I’m now a mommy. In fact, I need it all the more!

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As a mom, it’s not selfish to take care of yourself.  It’s critical (especially when you’re in the busy phase of raising little ones who need you for absolutely everything)!  And it’s also not selfish to do things that make you happy.  You know the saying, “When mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy?”  Well guess what?  A happy mom is contagious too!

If only we saw caring for ourselves as a part of caring for our children!

As a mom, the scales will always be tipped unevenly, as my family will come first every time.  But I’m doing better, because I desperately needed to.

At least once every few months, I try to get out without children and invest in my own personal friendships over a cup of coffee.  Laughter is SO important when you’re a mom.  As is being able to share your heart with someone who will understand, encourage, and pray with you.

I’ve started to plan out my lunches (sometimes prepping them ahead of time), so that I have quick and easy – but also healthy and tasty – options throughout the week.  Shoveling spoonfuls of my children’s leftovers into my mouth doesn’t count as a meal anymore!

Some days, I apply a touch of eye-liner…  just because I want to feel put together and not because I have anywhere fancy to go.

I love photography and so – for me – taking five minutes to snap a picture and practice using my camera has been a creative outlet that I do just for myself.  It makes my heart feel like it’s smiling!  🙂

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I even just recently stepped into a gym for the first time in 9 years, and it…felt… great!!  It’s amazing how movement and exercise can really clear one’s head.

As for sleep…  I’m still not getting nearly enough.  😉   But I stick a cartoon on in the mornings now to occupy my early risers, and I take some time – alone – in my bedroom to read the Bible and pray for some quiet devotions to start my day.

That’s…not…selfish!

These things make me smile, and they help to fill my tank.

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Sooooo how about you?  Brainstorm a bit…  What fills your tank?

Do you love to paint?  Could you sneak over to the home of an encouraging older woman and have her teach you a skill or baking technique?  Maybe you can find a babysitter one afternoon and host a few moms at your own house and do some creative teaching of your own (and not only fill your tank, but fill the tank of others too).

Wake up in the morning and start your day by thanking God for the blessings He has given you.  Start a thankful project and write down little blessings that make you smile or that leave your heart feeling content.  Then make five minutes here or a treat there count!

Whip up a hot breakfast for yourself and fix it up all pretty.  (I’ve been making myself tasty bowls of oatmeal in the morning and going all crazy with the yummy additions like raisins and spices).  Create a cozy reading nook, complete with cup or tea and snuggly blanket, so that five minutes of downtime when the kids are asleep feels more conscious and appreciated.  Make your morning coffee in a cute mug and slow down just along enough to appreciate it.  Light a candle and take a hot bath.

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Better yet, set aside two hours ever week as “mom time” and let the kiddos enjoy special time with your hubby.  (I’m still a work in progress with this one, but a mom should have goals.  Ha, ha.).

Get out of your mom routine for just a bit, so that you can refresh, feel human, and then hop back into mom life feeling a bit more like yourself!  🙂  Try to squeeze some rest in if you can (because you need it).  And fix yourself actual meals and drink actual water, because – even if sometimes you might forget it – you’re an actual human who functions on those things.

Oh and lastly… Remember this.

You were handpicked by the Creator of the universe to be the mama of your specific children.  He knew you were the right one for them!

And you are a daughter of the King.  It’s time you started to treat yourself like you believe that.  Girl, you are loved.  You are seen.  And you matter!  Even on those days, weeks, and months that leave you feeling as though you’ve given all you can and there just isn’t one free moment to breathe, know that there is One who sees each sacrifice you make.  He sees your silent tears, lonely heart, and tired mind.  And He treasures you, not only for your role as a mom… but also as the beautiful treasure that you are as a person.  He sees you as a masterpiece worthy of love, not because of what you are doing but because of who you are.  His!

So don’t let yourself get empty.  Make sure that you’re a mom who has gas!  🙂

Love Never Fails 8x10

Mama Has Gas

We had a three day snowstorm last weekend that was grossly underrated and which left us with roughly two FEET of snow.  And this mama was NOT prepared.  Never mind the bread and the eggs I probably should have stocked up on beforehand,  we were dangerously close to using up the last of our coffee stash.

(I’m not kidding, if we had run out, I would have ventured out in waste-deep snow with cereal boxes strapped to my feet like makeshift snowshoes, and I would have found coffee… or died trying).

Priorities…

Anyway, in the midst of December’s Snowmageddon, my hard-working husband was outside clearing our driveway when the snowblower shuddered, took one final gasp, and died.  Fuel…empty.  And I could see that Nate still had to clear a decent amount of snow, including the end where the plows had come through and pushed a small mountain onto the driveway’s edge.  So I ran into the basement to grab our spare jug of gasoline.

After retrieving the can, I opened the kitchen door – swirling wind and snow suddenly smacking me in the face – to place it onto the porch for my husband.  And before I could react, my son eagerly stuck his face outside as well and innocently – but very loudly – yelled out to my husband, “Mama has gas!”

I’d say that I was mortified, but I don’t know that anything shocks my neighbors anymore.  Also, to be honest, five years into raising my son, very little shocks me anymore either.  

I pulled my boy back into the house, and – as I was closing the kitchen door behind me – I noticed the outline of gasoline in the thin, red tank.  It was low.  There was just over an inch of sludge at the bottom of the can, and I wondered if that would be enough to help my husband finish clearing all the snow.  Suddenly all of my needs (and the needs of my family) were relying on this bit of fuel.

Just like so many needs of my family are often relying on me.

Hmmm, Mama has gas…

Or does she?

Here’s the thing…  I adore being a mom.  I really, truly do.  I value it as the most precious responsibility that I have ever been charged with, and nothing fills my heart more than those two little children.  I love them more than anything else in this entire world.  But there are moments when the cost of pouring out catches up to me.  And my tank starts to feel a little empty.

Acting in love when a child you adore looks up at you and responds in anger or disobedience takes something.  Balancing a full schedule on little sleep takes something.  Comforting and soothing away hurt takes something.  Always doing and never stopping to rest takes something.  Feeling as though you’re the one who has to hold it all together until a hard situation resolves itself and everything feels safe, normal, and routine again… takes something.

Taking care of and nurturing – as much as it fills our mommy hearts – does also require us to give emotionally and physically.

There are days that I feel like supermom, because it all came together.  And then there are the days when it’s just hard.  When I don’t feel worthy of the pedestal my adoring children have placed me on, because I feel as though I failed them.  When I’m so tired that I’m not sure what hurts worse, my body or my heart.

I need space and time to be alone… but I feel lonely.

I need just two minutes without little hands grabbing at me… but I need to be held.

I’m tired of being asked “why”… but I long for someone to talk to who ‘gets it’.

As moms, we too often forget that as selfless and self-sacrificing as we’re willing to be, we can’t function if we’re empty.  I’m talking basic human needs that we too often go without, because we’ve pushed ourselves so far onto the back burner.  Like proper nutrition.  Sleep.  A bit of alone time.  Encouragement.  Companionship.  Maybe even some mascara, eyeliner, and a cute outfit once in awhile.

We stop realizing that we’re even worth those things.

(… to be continued).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just a Mom (Part 2)

Part 1, in case you missed it!  🙂

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More often than not, I am almost overwhelmed by the happiness that being a mom brings to my life!  One little kiss, snuggle, or “I love you” from my kiddos; and the bad stuff just melts away like winter leaving Arendelle.

Image result for Olaf in summer

The excitement of experiencing things for the first time all over again through their eyes…  The feeling of their little hands in mine…  The excuse to see Disney movies at the theaters.  🙂  It’s all too precious for words, and I love it.

love being a mom.  I love that I get the incredible opportunity to stay home with them right now too!

But there are some days that leave me wishing that Mary Poppins would float out of the sky and into my living room, just to give me a little I-need-to-feel-human break.  She’d keep the children entertained while cleaning my house, and so it would be a win-win situation for all involved.  (Let’s face it, Mary Poppins is basically  the mom version of a unicorn).

I keep reminding myself that a lot of what we’re juggling is due to the phase that we’re currently in…  My husband Nate and I still have a two year old daughter in diapers who has decided that sleep is overrated.  Our four year old son would probably have blown up the moon by now if I didn’t stay on top of absolutely everything he touches.  And both children still think that mommy’s attempts to use the bathroom are the perfect time to come together for a family conference.

The mental juggling and physical exhaustion of parenting with no break and little sleep catches up with a mommy after awhile.  And nothing can really prepare you for that.  (Although coffee does help!  Coffee… and a whole lot of praying to Jesus!)

All.the.time

Suddenly it’s like your real name no longer exists, and you’re being called “Mama” by absolutely everyone as though you have more children than father Abraham… While trying to have a conversation with an adult,  you’re cut off because they’re SO invested in the children that what you were saying becomes background noise.   (It’s probably due to the fact that you were talking about such exciting topics as ‘poop’ and ‘sleep training’, but still...).  Or you miss out on adult conversation completely, because you’re too busy chasing after your kids (both of whom have already mastered the art of running in completely different directions at the same time).

Missing...

Basically you miss conversations with adults so much that telemarketers have stopped calling the house, because you’ve started asking them questions like “what’s new” and “do you think this type of poop is normal for a toddler”?

Some days are hard.  Some days I wish I could sit and eat my dinner without having to referee…  That I could lay my head on my pillow at the end of a long day and be able to leave it there until morning…  Or even that I could go grocery shopping without my kids going at it like a couple of MMA fighters chained to a shopping cart.

But each day, I choose to wake up and ‘get it done’ with a smile on my face and a song in my heart.  (Or I try anyway. I get bonus points for trying).  Scrubbing floors, making playdough, folding laundry, dancing to the Wiggles, and cutting grilled cheese sandwiches into the shape of a heart will never matter to anyone outside of this house.  Yet inside this home, it does matter, even if – as a collective whole – it may sometimes go unnoticed.

Being a mom is not glamorous or glitzy.  It’s exhausting and ALL in.  Oftentimes, it’s thankless.  And we stay-at-home moms can so easily struggle with the doubts of, “Am I contributing enough?” Am I valued?  Is what I’m doing really important, and am I capable of continuously giving of myself?

Let’s face it, self sacrifice and putting others first isn’t exactly the ‘in’ thing to do right now, even if it’s for your family.  (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been criticized for slapping some deli meat and cheese between two slices of bread, because making your soulmate a sandwich for lunch is apparently a demeaning thing for a wife to do).

But if we’re focused on all the sacrifices and what we ourselves ‘deserve’, being a mom will be exhausting.  Because what makes us happiest is what makes them happiest.  It’s not balanced evenly, and that’s what makes us superheroes.  We don’t give and then ask “What will I get in return?”  The love we moms possess allows us to willingly put the needs of another before our own.  And that is beautiful!

It doesn’t mean it will always be easy or that we won’t – at times – doubt our value or long for the days when we felt a little more human.  It doesn’t mean that we won’t, at times, question the sanity of raising little versions of ourselves.  But the love we have for our children is what helps us focus on what really matters, not on what we have chosen to give up.

For our role as mom, we will never receive a paycheck, a rousing speech, or a medal.  We will not be recognized by this world.  But how we act when our children make mistakes is shaping their views of themselves.  Our words become the voice they hear in their heads regarding their self-worth and their purpose.  How we teach them to respond to bullies is guiding them in confidence and forgiveness.

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We may be pouring out of ourselves, but we are pouring into something we value most: our children.  What we do matters more than we even know.

Oh yeah, and then there’s the laundry and other stuff, because that matters too!  🙂

We have the greatest of responsibilities.  The most beautiful of opportunities.  (Teaching my children about Jesus Christ is what matters the utmost to me)!  And we have the ability to serve our families, even if it oftentimes goes unseen and unappreciated here on earth.

Maybe being ‘just’ a mom wasn’t enough as documentation for my proof of citizenship…  But it’s sure enough for me.  Because even on the toughest of days, I wouldn’t trade being a mom for any other role offered to me.

My kids need ‘just’ a mom in their lives.  And I am SO thankful that I get the opportunity to be that person for them!

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Just a Mom (Part 1)

My driver’s license expired on my birthday, but I didn’t realize it until 7 days afterward.   So slight chaos ensued, as I quickly tried to pull together paperwork to renew my license and find a babysitter for my children.  Because, as you know, driving around without a license isn’t exactly legal and getting locked up in jail doesn’t fit into my schedule right now.

Now I honestly thought that my license being expired by a few days wouldn’t be too big of an issue, because the website had said there was a 10 day grace period.  And if not, I had my smile to back me up.  I don’t want to sound cocky or anything, but I do pride myself in having a genuine, friendly, I-am-not-a-terrorist type of smile.

rescue donkey_Frozen has the best smile

The guy at the front desk of the RMV, however, took one look at my expired license and threw it back at me, saying “This isn’t any good as documentation of your citizenship.  It’s expired.”

The man started rattling off all of the papers that I could now use as proof of citizenship, and I felt calmer… for one second.  Bank statement.  Phone bill.  Mortgage.  None of those papers sounded scary.  But then I realized, I’m a stay-at-home-mom now.  My name isn’t on any of those bills, because I can’t afford to pay any of those bills.  My husband is the one ‘bringing home the bacon’, and his name is on everything.

One doesn’t get a statement each month for being the “Sweeper of floors” and “Kisser of boo-boos.”

When I tried explaining this, the man shrugged and said.  “I can’t help you then.”  Even my birth certificate wasn’t a valid form of citizenship ID, because it didn’t have my current address listed on it.  And, for some reason, he didn’t find it funny when I suggested that he call my local coffee shop, as all the employees there could easily verify which town I lived in.  Tough crowd!

I quickly shuffled away, my face stinging red from embarrassment; because I felt SO stupid and small.

I called Nate at work and started talking a mile-a-minute, trying to sort this out; because I had NO idea what to do.  Not having a license obviously wasn’t an option, but – now that mine was expired and invalid – I had NO idea what to use as citizenship verification.    Long story short, my husband is a super-hero and had remembered that my name is on our car insurance statement.  So he had printed it out for me just in case my birth certificate didn’t work.  I was able to use that, and I was finally approved!

Disaster averted…

But to be honest, the whole experience left me reeling a bit, because it had shrunk me to a position of being less than.  I was embarrassed at how helpless I had been when asked to provide monetary proof of who I was.  I was left with a mere, “I’m a mom.”

And that hadn’t been enough…

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To be honest, one of the things that I was most unprepared for when it came to becoming a mom was the complete submersion… followed by the loneliness that sometimes comes with it.  Yes, I love my life!  From the moment I laid eyes on my children, I knew that I would do absolutely anything for them; and they fill each day with so much laughter, adventure and beauty.

But I’m human.  And the process of suddenly becoming “mom” instead of “Nicole” has – at times – been challenging to say the least.

Life right now is a lot of chasing, calling out, carrying heavy things, drinking bottomless mugs of coffee, and exclaiming “oh my goodness, we don’t stick that up our nose”.  And at times, the role of motherhood can make a woman feel a little invisible.

(to be continued…).

Beautiful

I prefer to keep this blog upbeat and positive, seeking the humor in every situation.  But sometimes, life is hard; and I also want this little space of the internet to reflect that.  Life isn’t always sunshine and happiness, and I prefer to be real than to photo-shop perfection into my blog posts.  There are moments that require our paths to wind up a mountain, tall and daunting.  And we’re required to take a deep breath and to step forward – one footstep at a time – as bravely as we can.  So with that being said, I feel as though I do need to share this difficult journey that lies before me with my readers in an attempt to remain real.

*Takes a deep breath*

I have to go bathing suit shopping this year.

*shudders….but feels a sense of relief at having typed out the difficult truth*

To be honest, like most women, I’d literally rather do just about anything else…  And it’s not that I really struggle with my body image.  I just wish that bathing suits looked a bit more like snuggies than leftover scraps of fabric.

In the past, I’ve always gone with an experienced support group (a.k.a. my mom and sister).  Because these two are good.  No matter how many times they’d say, “It’s not you, it’s the bathing suit” I’d always believe them.  Because yes, the issue is obviously with the bathing suit.  And the lighting.  And the fact that I forgot to paint my toenails.

But this time around, there will also be the C-section scar.  And the soft skin on my stomach from growing healthy babies… and liking the taste of icecream too much.  My ‘baby’ is turning two next month, and I’m just now starting to work at losing the ‘baby weight’.  My body has been stretched, and pushed to the limits, and – quite frankly – in need of the gym but just too tired to get there most days.

And there’s nothing like trying on a bathing suit to make a woman feel as though she’s trapped in a body made out of silly putty.

Lol

But you know what?  I’ve also been on the ‘other side’.  Back when I was at my skinniest as a young teen, before God healed me of an eating disorder, I was ‘skinny enough’ to fit the bathing suit model standards.  But I also hadn’t menstruated for a year.  My hair was falling out.  Skin flaked off my body like dandruff, I was freezing cold in the middle of a hot summer’s day, and I was constantly at the doctor’s.

All this to try to meet standards of beauty that a world had set for me.

I was thinking about this just the other day…  About how I am so much more confident now, curves and all, than I was back then when I was ridiculously thin.  It makes me look in the mirror and feel thankful.  Thankful for this amazing body that grew babies.  Thankful for my strength, and my health, and the blessing it is to spend every day with my family.

When you start to look at things that way, the size and shape of your body kind of takes a back-seat!

Women (and even men) are constantly bombarded with images that have been photo-shopped to perfection.  Models and actresses flaunt their seemingly-perfect bodies and lives, leaving so many feeling ashamed and inadequate.  These images set what so many view as the ultimate representation of beauty.

But here’s the thing…  Contrary to what Hollywood would like you to believe, you and I are not cookie cutters.  We are not gingerbread men, cut from the same mold to resemble a specific outline.  We are unique, and there is no one image that we need to critique our bodies against.

We all have individual markings, characteristics, sizes, and shapes.  If only we could learn to embrace that!

Psalm 139 | I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made| Psalm 139 printable wall art| Psal

And here’s where freedom truly lies…  Ultimately, I am a child of God.  My beauty has nothing to do with anything that a mirror can reflect.  I was created by a perfect Creator to worship and to bring glory to His name.  The size of my shorts has absolutely no impact on that.  🙂

That’s not to say that I shouldn’t always strive to take care of my body!  But fully embracing my status as a child of the King sure takes a whole lot of pressure off of needing to look ‘perfect’ for the summer season.  Because curves and ‘imperfections’ looking back at me in the mirror mean so much less.

I’m excited to just get out there and live the life that God has given me!  I mean, how dare social media, television, and magazines tell me that I’m less than?  I’m beautiful… right now!

So yeah, bring on the bathing suit shopping and the confident splashing on the beach with my kiddos.  Because in Him I find my beauty, which means I am ready – right now- for summer… and my summer wardrobe.  🙂