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.   
 

Monday, December 31, 2012

2012

2012 has been one of the very best years of my life! So, as a reminder, I am going to roundup some of my favorite moments over the past 365 days!

My beautiful babies turned 1 and 2 and changed so much this year! Rocklyn finished his first year of pre-k and in August both boys went to Immanuel Baptist for the WEE program! This has been the year of both of them really beginning to speak, pottytraining and breaking off into more independent little men : ( !
 
 
HEALTH: I had some big changes in my health this year! I had my tonsils removed (worst experience of my life!!!) and dropped 30 pounds.  I am continuing to strive to lose more in the New Year but am pretty darn proud of my progress so far! Below is a before and after!
 
 
JOBS: Cory got hired on with Mid-Cumberland as a Crisis Counselor and has also been substituting for LSSD and teaching bible at the preschool.  I am continuing to work for VIP bring drunk driving awareness to offenders.  I also began teaching at Immanuel in the WEE program with the cutest group of kids and best of all in the same hallway as both of my boys classrooms! I recently started working at Lulu's clothing boutique on the square and am loving it! Between the two of us are six positions but we are soooooo grateful in this crazy economy to have work and six jobs that we love!
 
FUN: The boys were put in a country music video for Cathy Louvin and it was such an amazing experience!  We also had some other fun times including a trip to Missouri, two weeks spent back home in Illinois, multiple zoo and waterpark trips, football games, hikes, movies and more! I am loving the ages they are at and being able to do so many new things whether it is a simple hike in the woods or them now understanding concepts like trick-or-treating and Santa Clause.
  Some more big things in 2013: Our dog Rex became a part of the family and he is so loved and has made our family even more complete.  I had some trials and some hard decisions to make this year but in the end, I am so much more happy because of them and have continued to walk closer and closer to God through them all.  I have made some big decisions about what exactly I want to be doing as far as future career plans and am excited to see Cory begin doing what he loves, teaching, after he is done with his education.  God has been so good to us and I am so grateful for everything.  Ready to welcome 2013 and see where it takes us!
 
 
 
 


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Today, the sermon at church was focused on Matthew 19:13-15 and the topic of children.  I was so excited for this message because the focus of so much of my time, is in fact, children. A brief overview of the main points of today included Jesus' love for and focus on the importance of children and how we need to be aware to not lessen the value of these humble, wide-eyed, pride-less beings.  We are all born sinful and need the love of Jesus and children are no exception.  From catechism to family worship nights to bible studies with our children; these things are of so much more value than television shows and sports games. We have such a small amount of time with our children and it is gone in the blink of an eye. I for one, do not want to be one who regrets the faith I have instilled in them.  That being said, I left feeling very proud of the job Cory and I are doing as parents. Even the resources our pastor mentioned are ones we have in the home and I know at the end of every day that even though I am far from a perfect parent, they are in a home where they are praying often, learning about Jesus and learning what love is all the time.  Cory has done an amazing job being a spiritual leader in our home and we both know there is always more ways to improve and improve in this area. 
But then it hit me... yes, my children hear bible stories on the regular, yes we pray before bedtime and meals and in between, yes we do devotionals every night and worship nights often and yes they live in a home where they see two parents who love eachother and their kids and work daily at making this all happen but they also have a mother who has put so much focus on these things along with their meals, daily activities, art projects and all the chaos of motherhood that she has forgotten to nourish her own soul more often than not.  Most days I am running so hard and fast to keep up with my family that by the time bedtime comes, I am dozed off before the boys are even into a rem cycle yet. Naptimes consist of laundry, dishes, couponing and the like that the Bible or even time for prayer is nowhere near my mind.
In my attempt to become the exemplary mother, I have become the opposite, even a fake if you will.  Yes, I can talk all day long and read bible stories until my voice is gone but what I am doing with my life is going to speak volumes and volumes louder than any of this! How I treat people, how I speak of people behind closed doors, the television shows I watch, the books I chose to read and every other area of my life is what is going to have major impact, especially if it doesn't coincide with what I am teaching them daily.  When my children enter Heaven's gates at the end of their lives, I want to be there waiting for them.  I want my husband and I to be open-armed and full of joy at their arrival and in order for this to happen we need to be putting God at the focus of every area of our lives, even as tough as it is for us moms who want to make everyone else's life great and tend to forget ourselves. 
Today's message was an eye-opener for me in a completely different way than maybe our pastor intended, but exactly in the way that God has intended for it to be.  Let us not forget what we are here on this earth for and what a blessing these children are even in the most difficult of times.