Monday, August 7, 2017

Look up

I had the rare moment last week to spend some one on one time with my oldest child. We were driving and sharing a delicious peach shake, passing it back and forth from front seat to back. The windows were down as we sang along to the radio until we came to a red light. And then my simple, quiet seven year old son looked at the driver next to us and said something so profound, "Mommy, why does everyone always stare into their phones. It's not like the whole world is in there.  They need to look up more."

We are going through life at such a rapid pace that I think as adults we don't notice it much, but if we take a moment to peer through the eyes of a child, it must look odd.  Sunsets, trees, old buildings, people and living in one of the most beautiful places in the world and so many are staring into a screen looking for fulfillment to jump out of a device.  We can't even sit at a stoplight taking in the view around us without so many feeling that pull to check text messages, email or some form of social media.  It hit me, convicted me and has stuck with me so much.

My kids are growing rapidly and I don't want snapshots posted to Facebook to ever overtake the feelings those memories give me when I close my eyes and can put myself right back into a place in the past where their smiles melted my heart or their cuddles made me feel right at home.  I don't want anyone to feel like they own my time and that their email demands time over what is happening around the supper table.  I hate the thought of my husband and I sitting side by side silently as we scroll through the lives of others and ignore the beauty our life provides.  

One thing I have gotten my kids to do is when we try a new or particularly delicious food, we close our eyes and try to distinguish the flavors and ingredients without our eyes. I want them to create a life filled with more knowledge from their own senses than from what the world is throwing at them. I want them to have the freedom that seems so rare to others as the world is becoming slaves to technology.  This week let's all take the time to appreciate the beauty around us, breathe in slowly, smells the roses and spend more time just looking up.


Thursday, August 3, 2017

Something it seems only we have...

I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and randomly ended up here in Hartsville for a summer in 2003. It seemed everyone I talked to here was so interested in getting out of dodge and checking out places like where I am from. For me, I felt like I had hit the jackpot in this two stoplight town.  I dreaded the end of that summer and having to leave this place.

I spent the next few years in Illinois working and starting college, all the while dreaming of Tennessee. What tugged at my heart the most? Those stars. Nowhere I had traveled had a sky quite like the one over Trousdale County.  It is the kind of sky that you look up and forget the rest of the world because you are so transfixed in that moment.

That sky drew me back in 2007 when I moved to Lebanon to finish my degree and while most of my friends at Cumberland University graduated and moved closer to wherever home was for them, I fell in love with my future husband and we both decided that after graduation, our life would continue in Tennessee.  We lived close to the school on a five year plan that turned into longer, busting our tails to make our dreams come true.  What was that dream? A humble country home on a piece of land under that sky that captivated us.

Here we have been for a year now with dreams having become reality.  As I write this, the moon is full and clear surrounded by a countless amount of stars that don't seem to be the same ones shining even just a city over.  The bugs and frogs are performing an orchestra and the air is rejuvenating my lungs after a busy day. This place is a slice of heaven on Earth. I know that you can find beauty anywhere you look for it, but I truly believe we don't have to look far at all for those of us who call Hartsville our home.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

What you don't see...

We live so much of our lives behind a screen: posting the best, taking twenty shots before one looks just right, able to edit our words to turn out just right when in real life we babble nonsense all the time wishing we could use that edit button over our mouths. 
People have told me how perfect my family is, my marriage is, my life is. And I feel guilty because if that is what people are seeing through their phone screens, I feel like what I am portraying is a lie. Let me tell you what you don't see. Mamas I know so many of you can relate. 
What you see is a woman who seems to do it all and keep a smile on her face.
What you don't see is someone who feels like the clown in a circus, spinning so many plates and trying not to let one drop. Someone who gives every single ounce of herself to her family and still lays her head on the pillow at night feeling guilty for not mustering up 110% that day. Who feels like criticizing eyes are around every corner waiting for her next failure. 
What you see is a woman who some days feels like the most beautiful creature on earth, empowered by the fact that I carried three lives in my own body, that my breasts hold the power to nourish my child with everything she needs and that I can keep up with my three children with energy to spare.  But what you don't see is a girl who is consumed sometimes with not eating "too much", who walks into a workout class knowing I have the stamina to far outdo most women in there but still immediately recognizes that I am the biggest one compared to the tiny frames surrounding me. The one who spends countless amount of moments cursing herself because all of the clean eating and working out isn't making a large dent in the scale and will never fully believe her husband when he tells her she is the most beautiful woman he has ever laid eyes on.
What you see is a quiet, well-behaved child who stays to himself and loves his mama with all of his heart.
What you don't see is a mother who dies inside every time her boy isn't able to do things other kids can, can't comprehend the world like everyone else and struggles at things that should come easy. A mom who has to hide her face in the front seat of the car and sob in her jacket when her firstborn tells her the neighborhood kids called him dumb or different. A mother who spends hours meal-planning, researching and working with her son so he can learn and feel and behave to the best of his ability.
  What you see is a super intelligent child with a vigor for life like no other.
What you don't see is a boy who comprehends the world like an adult should, not a child. Who wakes up screaming from nightmares on the regular and cries for orphans and prays for the homeless daily.  A boy who can't sit still and who's behavior has sent his parents to the point of praying face-down on his floor so just reaching their hands out: one covering him in prayer and one reaching up toward God asking for answers for his obedience.
 And a beautiful baby girl who has brought so much joy into the world. But who has also brought much fear- raising girls is scary stuff in a world driven by sex and power and what feels like predators lurking around every corner. A girl whose Mama prays to raise into a powerful, loving, Christ-filled woman who knows who she is and forever remains her best friend.
And finally, what you see is two people who love each other fiercely, who can joke through the hard times when they want to wring each other's necks and who are best friends.
What you don't see is a couple who are working so hard to pay down student loans that some days they see each other for a total of 15 minutes, trying to keep love alive through text messages and brief phone conversations. Two people who had a rough first few years that probably could have easily ended in divorce but they kept putting it in God's hands and praying for better until it came true. Two people who have broken each other's hearts countless times but have chosen forgiveness each time and have busted their tails to be in the relationship they are in today. 
When we moved into our new home, the neighbor kids drove me nuts. They are far more "worldly" and know way more language and things than I am ready for my kids to know. They can be mean and ugly and I got to the point that I was banning them from our yard. But it hit me- I decided to love them anyways and see where it went from there. And I have seen big things happen from inviting them into our lives, our church events, our homes. Huge things. 
And just recently it hit me- yes it's easy to love on children but why am I not doing this with adults too? We all have junk, big time stuff that we hide behind our pretty poses and status updates and fake smiles. We quickly judge and make up our mind. We don't take the time to get to the root of who a person is and just easily write them off. 
I was working with a group of about 20 elementary age students the other day and I asked them, "Who in here is struggling with something that no one else knows about right now?". Every single one of them shot a hand up in the air. These are little kids. I am guessing us adults can take most of those problems and multiply them by ten to equal our own. 
So do I write all this for you to understand me better? No I want you to understand every person better. What you see is NEVER what you get. Let's step out of our comfort zones and be vulnerable. Let's open up and be real and let others do the same. And when we are all big, messy, honest, broken pieces-let's love each other big time and watch our shattered selves slowly mend back together. I have watched 2016 be filled with more hate and greed and judgment than my heart could handle. Let's fix it. Let's outdo all that hate with love so big our world can't contain it. 
Who's with me? 

Friday, November 18, 2016

The Greatest Lesson

Here we are. My boys and I. I have taught them so much in the time we home-schooled. I taught them how to read, mathematics, all about the planets and the names of the oceans and continents. They have learned in depth about 23 of our states, the role of our government and the foundations of our country. We have written poems together, developed their language and practiced the basic poses of yoga. But today, as I give up being their school teacher and turn back into their full-time mom, I am teaching them the biggest lesson of all of those I have so far.

I am teaching them that listening and obeying God is the most important thing they can do. They are seeing a woman being completely dependent on God and jumping in faith against everything her flesh wants. I have been patient and praying for an answer for months. What is it I need to give up because something's gotta give. First, He spoke to me and said anything my heart isn't on fire for. While I love Plexus products and still believe in their health promotion and take them, it wasn't a passion for me like homeschooling, the coffee business and our farm is. So I obeyed and cut off the time I had spent there. But I knew more was coming. And when He spoke Sunday into my heart, God asked me to give up my passion and number one love- educating my children. Really? Couldn't it have been my job, Cory's second job or something I didn't grip onto so hard????

But I realized I had made it my identity and my everything. And while my boys were well advanced knowledge wise, it had turned into finishing worksheets while I bounced Scout on my knee to stay content and some nights we weren't finishing until 9 pm. This meant I wasn't able to turn off teacher and be mom for even a minute of the day to them and they deserve so much more. So I jumped and took them to register early Monday. Unaware of the financial cost, the emotional cost and without thinking for myself I obeyed. And then I cried for three days straight, all the while knowing God me in his hand and it was going to turn out alright in the end.

I am teaching them that when they are adults, their marriage needs to be a priority. I have put mine on the backburner since the beginning- skipping date nights and connection to pour into my kids 24-7. And my loving husband has always let it be, knowing one day they will fly the coop. He is my best friend and my kids need to see a rejuvenated woman who is eager for time alone to connect with her spouse. And when my husband held me while I cried on the pantry floor, not saying a word just letting me go through all of the emotions this has left me with, I knew more than ever that he deserves me to be a wife who knows how to be all things at their appropriate time- to put off my mom cap when the babies are all asleep and be the woman he first fell in love with.

I am teaching them that using busyness to escape thinking it so hurtful in the long run. I laid on the hammock yesterday staring at the sky and being alone with my thoughts and I realized that it is the first time I have done that in over 7 years. Life is messy and there are hurts and pains and healing to be done. And instead of working through any of it- I have busied myself to a point that I haven't had a chance to, afraid of what it may lead to. So I go through my days in a whirlwind of working, teaching my children, taking care of them, cooking, cleaning, working out and doing more in a day than I should be doing in a week. And now, I am sitting here in silence except for the heartbeat on my baby girl's sound machine. And it is deafening but I am going to learn to love it.

Finally, I am teaching them to love themselves by showing them what that looks like. I am learning to love myself and do it fiercely and passionately. To get back to the girl who sang and danced and created art and was going to be a famous writer. That girl who felt so alive that she blazed with emotions and loved big time. The girl who reveled in her friendships and dreamed so big. I have mourned that girl, but she is not dead she has just been waiting to reappear. And my husband has been patiently waiting on her.


And I can't wait for my kids to meet her.  

The Greatest Lesson

Here we are. My boys and I. I have taught them so much in the time we home-schooled. I taught them how to read, mathematics, all about the planets and the names of the oceans and continents. They have learned in depth about 23 of our states, the role of our government and the foundations of our country. We have written poems together, developed their language and practiced the basic poses of yoga. But today, as I give up being their school teacher and turn back into their full-time mom, I am teaching them the biggest lesson of all of those I have so far.

I am teaching them that listening and obeying God is the most important thing they can do. They are seeing a woman being completely dependent on God and jumping in faith against everything her flesh wants. I have been patient and praying for an answer for months. What is it I need to give up because something's gotta give. First, He spoke to me and said anything my heart isn't on fire for. While I love Plexus products and still believe in their health promotion and take them, it wasn't a passion for me like homeschooling, the coffee business and our farm is. So I obeyed and cut off the time I had spent there. But I knew more was coming. And when He spoke Sunday into my heart, God asked me to give up my passion and number one love- educating my children. Really? Couldn't it have been my job, Cory's second job or something I didn't grip onto so hard????

But I realized I had made it my identity and my everything. And while my boys were well advanced knowledge wise, it had turned into finishing worksheets while I bounced Scout on my knee to stay content and some nights we weren't finishing until 9 pm. This meant I wasn't able to turn off teacher and be mom for even a minute of the day to them and they deserve so much more. So I jumped and took them to register early Monday. Unaware of the financial cost, the emotional cost and without thinking for myself I obeyed. And then I cried for three days straight, all the while knowing God me in his hand and it was going to turn out alright in the end.

I am teaching them that when they are adults, their marriage needs to be a priority. I have put mine on the backburner since the beginning- skipping date nights and connection to pour into my kids 24-7. And my loving husband has always let it be, knowing one day they will fly the coop. He is my best friend and my kids need to see a rejuvenated woman who is eager for time alone to connect with her spouse. And when my husband held me while I cried on the pantry floor, not saying a word just letting me go through all of the emotions this has left me with, I knew more than ever that he deserves me to be a wife who knows how to be all things at their appropriate time- to put off my mom cap when the babies are all asleep and be the woman he first fell in love with.

I am teaching them that using busyness to escape thinking it so hurtful in the long run. I laid on the hammock yesterday staring at the sky and being alone with my thoughts and I realized that it is the first time I have done that in over 7 years. Life is messy and there are hurts and pains and healing to be done. And instead of working through any of it- I have busied myself to a point that I haven't had a chance to, afraid of what it may lead to. So I go through my days in a whirlwind of working, teaching my children, taking care of them, cooking, cleaning, working out and doing more in a day than I should be doing in a week. And now, I am sitting here in silence except for the heartbeat on my baby girl's sound machine. And it is deafening but I am going to learn to love it.

Finally, I am teaching them to love themselves by showing them what that looks like. I am learning to love myself and do it fiercely and passionately. To get back to the girl who sang and danced and created art and was going to be a famous writer. That girl who felt so alive that she blazed with emotions and loved big time. The girl who reveled in her friendships and dreamed so big. I have mourned that girl, but she is not dead she has just been waiting to reappear. And my husband has been patiently waiting on her.


And I can't wait for my kids to meet her.  

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

What Little Boys Don't Understand

It is the 4th birthday of my first born child and also the end to 2013. I feel like I have grown so much this year and watched my babies grow even more but I am leaving this year in hopes of more. One thing I need more of is patience and understanding of BOYS. Believe me, two boys entering my life in less than 13 months, I got a crash course in them but the more they grow, the more I think "why do they do what they do??!?!?!". Which made me realize today that there is so much on the opposite end of that. Here are a few things little boys don't understand about us mamas... 1. Your destructiveness will never make sense to us. While we accept that anything nice we own will probably end up in pieces, we will never understand the need to throw, stomp and destroy whatever you can get your hands on. Not out of anger but out of sheer joy in watching things "come undone". I know, I have watched your faces light up as you shatter flower pots, throw rolls of toilet paper in the toilet water and pee on my new couch. 2. No girl will ever be good enough for our babies but we really fear those girls that have mothers making them so high maintenance by 3 years old that their wardrobe costs more than our family vehicle and a constant pout is plastered to their spoiled faces. Our prayers for you have many versions of "please Lord bring them humble, down to earth wives" in them. When you do finally decide to date at 30 years old, I have fantasies of earthy, talkative girls who come from families of 10 or more children that know what it was like to share rooms with multiple siblings and cooked and cleaned for their parents throughout their lives. Lord please! 3. Looking at you makes us fall more in love with daddy. My boys look just like me. When I look at their faces I see me through and through. But their mannerisms, their expressions, the way they breathe is so much my husband. And is it possible to watch these perfect beings doing what they do as children and not love their dad more because he made them half of who they are? 4. Your small acts of kindness fill us with such hope and pride. Opening a door, picking a flower for us, kissing our cheeks... Nothing swells our hearts or gives us hope that chivalry will continue in the future quite like these things. 5. Your bodily functions are just as bad as anyone else's. I remember the days when it didn't bother me because they were my sweet babies and it was just poop. But suddenly something changed and now I have as much fear sometimes of wiping your butt as I do of letting you do it on your own and the mess that entails. In other words, this is only going to get worse so please don't try to increase the gross-out factor on your mom the older you get. 6. Being a mom to multiple sons is a whole different world and we secretly hope you get this payback plus some someday. As my boys whipped circles around me at the grocery store today, one fell hard and hit his face on the dirty floor and the other was busy bunching up a loaf of bread on the shelf. I in no way downplay what being a mother to daughters is like... that is something I do not and may not ever know with the tears and drama that come along with it. But being a mother to more than one son is absolute insanity sometimes. I regret ever looking at moms in this position before I had my own and thinking "why are you letting them do that?!?!?!" because boy oh boy am I getting my payback. 7. No matter what you do or how hard the day is, you have taught me a love that exceeds any other type of love I know. I could stare at you forever. Every time I hear one of my friends is pregnant, I secretly hope it's a boy because there is nothing quite like the bond of a mother and her sons. Being a mother to you boys is such a blessing and what I have realized is that you get out what you put into it just like anything else in life. This is the most important job I have been given and I treat it as that and cringe when I see others treating it like a burden or a joke. I know my boys have no clue what it takes to be a parent but what I do hope is that someday they do and not for selfish reasons but so their children can be raised right.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Home is wherever we are together

It seems the perfect answer to us for wanting more is simply... less. I'm surrounded by a world of more: more square footage, more cosmetic beauty, more money, more travel, the list goes on and on. We pretend that we're not idolizing it, putting it above God, but at the end of the day sometimes I know my pinterest app was open a lot more than my Bible as I search for more things to want and desire.  When I put down the phone and snap into reality this is truth: we are rich.  We have more love, more fun and are making more memories daily than some do in a lifetime.  I am not that girl.. the shopper, the one who lets my belongings define me and spends more time in a mall than in the woods BUT I have found myself being influenced into it.
 
Another truth: Debt, in the form of student loans, is holding us back.  We have acquired a hefty old lump of them and they've caused more arguments, bitterness and low-down feelings in this marriage than I ever want to admit.  We tried to pretend they weren't going to pop up on us soon as we strived for the "American dream" and here we are a house, 2 kids and 2 cars in the drive later and those loans continue to haunt. 
 
Our dreams are simple when we don't let the world view of what's normal impact them.  A farm, a very self-sufficient life aka living off our land, homeschooling our children and basically living on love with the wonderful people we are surrounded with.  We recently found ourselves looking to buy this piece of land and new home and through our prayer and search we kept ending up in similar places.  Apartment parking lots and the like.  Once we opened our ears and realized what God was leading us towards it brought us to our current state and we had big decisions to make.
 
Living in this debt is not only uncomfortable, I believe it is sinful.  Don't get me wrong, WE ARE NOT SPENDERS! This is simply student loans we have acquired as we continue to live an anti-credit card life and we live far within our budget.  After much praying we have decided to not only sell our home like we had planned, but instead of that farm we want now, we are choosing to put it off for three years as we live renting someplace very small, simple and cheap.  We have a goal of 3 years maximum as we will take every extra bit of money we save through this process and watch our debt eliminate into nothing. Oh, the feeling that the final zero dollar fee will bring us is unimagineable.
 
Now, I know this post sounds completely positive but don't get me wrong... I love my house, I love my yard, I love my stuff.  I want nothing less than to see it all go into boxes or be sold as I move into a place where a hide-a-bed sofa may be my sleeping arrangements.  But isn't that the problem with us people?!?! We want want want more and we love our stuff so much that it places a higher priority on us than Jesus, than living life, than so much more???
 
So, here we go, sign is in the front yard and if what we are doing is honoring God's plan for us, hopefully we'll see our home turn into someone else's quickly.  We plan to keep everyone up to date on this because we want this to be inspiring to people who feel theyre swimming in a sea of money issues that they can't escape.  We ask for prayers and support for us and hope that we can exemplify what Jesus wants us to and that's loving people and using our lives in a way that is not evolving around belongings but instead around the beauty of people and this Earth God has given us.