You’re Gonna be Okay

Hey you! Yes you – beautiful mama over there…the one running her fingers through her 2 day old dry-shampooed hair; the one harshly critiquing those stretch marks and that baby belly that bravely held life for 9 months; the mama with the bags under her eyes because she had one too many interruptions in the night to calm scared little ones who awoke from bad dreams; the mom frustrated and overwhelmed with her pre-teens and teens who suddenly think they know everything about life; the mama over there scrambling to get the kids out the door for school so that the bus isn’t waiting on them…again….I’m talking to you….

I know the stress of the mounting pile of laundry, or toys, or dishes, or papers…the never-ending task of picking up and putting away the things…oh the things….again and again and again…so much stuff!

I see the frustration, the weariness, the exhaustion, the anger, the hopelessness, the weight of it all…. the weight of the thoughts, of the expectations, of the hopes, of the disappointments, of the desires, of the dreams…I see it and I feel it too.

I see you struggling to do your best, but at the same time wanting to just quit. I see you wanting to connect genuinely with your children, with your spouse…but also just wanting a few moments to yourself to forget about all of the responsibility, to just relax. I see you patiently listening to each one tell about their day, giving your best to just be in the moment with them…to soak it all up…but simultaneously being so overcome with guilt at your desire to just get it over with so you can get to your “me time”. I see you trying to fall asleep at night, but tossing and turning, replaying all of the moments that you lost your cool…the moments that you could have spent bonding with your children instead of criticizing them, instead of cleaning, instead of answering that text or checking that post….I see the guilt of all that you didn’t do to make your husband feel important and loved today…the missed kisses, hugs, thank you’s…the guilt over the angry and impatient words and tone spoken in haste…I see the comparison to the other mom’s out there that packed their children those home-made healthy lunches instead of the pre-made on-sale cookies. I see the disappointment within yourself for missing yet another day of exercise…and not sticking to those healthy eating habits…I see the undesirability and unattractiveness you feel..and then the guilt that arises yet again for being so focused on yourself instead of everyone else around you. I see it all.

Here’s the thing mama….what you’re feeling…and even what you’re thinking right now…”does it all even matter?” …”do I even really matter?”…..the answer is…

Yes!

an emphatic “YES!”

Yes you do matter.

And Yes, you’re going to be okay.

You matter & you are going to be okay Click To Tweet

You’re not alone.  You wanna know how I know?  Because I’ve experienced it…because I’ve been in that same battle so many times friend….because:

Every. Single. Time. He is right there with me…my Heavenly Father.

He is right there with you too.

He’s right there, smack dab in the middle of it all…in the middle of the mess…in the middle of the thoughts…in the middle of the exhaustion…in the middle of the fears, of the hopes, of the desires…

He is there.

He is the One who sees it all.

And He wants you to know that you’re gonna be okay. You’re going to get through this, and you’re going to succeed. He’s there to quiet your soul with His love…His arms aren’t too tired to hold you…and He’s not too busy to soothe you. In fact…He’s waiting for an invitation from you….so that He can come and carry you…so that He can lift those weights off of your shoulders…His are plenty big enough for them…He’s there to remind you of who you really are…and of Whose you really are.

So just let it all go…and grab onto Him…because He is all you need.

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{FDF}: When Life Throws You A Snag

Happy Friday Friends!

If I’m going to be completely honest with you here though, I must admit, that first of all…it’s actually Thursday…and while it started out to be a great day today, it all quickly went south when I ran into some computer issues. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s ever had that problem!

So I was thinking about how I respond when something happens that is beyond my control.  Computer’s are a biggie for me, as I know the bare minimum in order to keep my Blog up and running but when I run into a snag, and it’s happened a couple of times now in the past few weeks, I’m very much at the mercy of Help Forums and Google Search…and that can leave me feeling very frustrated and powerless…two words I’m not very fond of.

Looking back at how I usually react in times like these…well I can see why I’ve left feeling less like a champ and more like a chump.  Most times I repetitively do the same thing – close the program, log off, log back on, open the program, recreate the scenario, hope for different results…and when I get the same…hit the help button…and start through the whole cycle again.  Talk about spinning your wheels!  It’s no wonder I’m feeling frustrated, overwhelmed, and powerless by the time I finally give up!

Maybe you can relate.  Maybe you’ve been in situations beyond your control.  Maybe you’ve felt that powerlessness and frustration that I felt.  In fact – I’m positive you have, because that’s just life.  So how can we respond when things like this happen?

Well, in my instance today…I could feel the wheels spinning…I could feel the frustration rising…and well…the tears were already beginning to stream down my face as I helplessly stood up…BUT…that was where I did something different!

I stood up!

Simple right?  But powerful!

You see, in standing up, I was choosing to step away from the situation that was causing me so much frustration; to do something different, and really – it wasn’t until after I changed my position that I realized how important that decision was.

Did I do something drastic?  Did I call every techy person I knew?  (while the temptation was there…common sense told me that they’d all be busy at work at the moment anyways..sooooo no I didn’t)  Nope, instead I saw that it was lunch time, and while I’m usually terrible at breaking for lunch if my toddler is napping because I like to keep barreling through to get as much done in that time as possible (which is also why events like this cause so much frustration being a busy mama with so little time) I decided to break for lunch and some fresh air (since this week has been crazy warm for February in Canada – bring it on!).  And it wasn’t until I was away from the situation that I could feel the weight of it all lift off of me and new perspective move in.

And that’s the ticket right there.  In order for us to stand up, we must change position; that means that as we interrupt the current crazy cycle that we’re in we become free to see things from a new perspective, an elevated perspective.  It’s like we become detached for long enough from the situation and the emotions of it that we are then free to see it in a new light.

As we interrupt our crazy cycle we become free to see things from a new elevated perspective Click To Tweet

So what did I see from my new perspective?  Well, first off I could see that I needed help because this was beyond my reach.  It’s interesting because this morning I read and wrote this verse out for the day:

“Come and listen to my counsel.  I’ll share my heart with you and make you wise.”  ~Proverbs 1:23

So first off, I went to God while I was having my lunch and I dumped my frustration off on Him, then I asked for help.  After that I felt like I was in a much better position to seek help from the good old-fashioned “help/contact us” feature without losing my mind on those poor folks.  You see, when we’re in the midst of that cycle and we’re being overwhelmed by it all, just like someone who is drowning at sea – we can completely miss the help that is right there, literally within arms reach, and sometimes we can even fight it without meaning to.

I recall being in swimming lessons and being taught that in a rescue, the victim can be so fearful that their adrenaline will actually increase their strength so that they could potentially drown their rescuer…so the solution…punch them if need be – but do not let them overpower you…or you’ll both drown.  Now punching ourselves out is a little drastic of a solution…well….a lot drastic…ha hah I bet it even shocked you reading that just now….but the principle remains the same… the punch interrupts the situation so that the individual is in a place where they can now receive help.

When you're overwhelmed, you can completely miss the help right within arms reach Click To Tweet

So after seeking out the help I needed I switched gears and moved on to something else while I waited to hear back on my questions; and while it was tempting to return to that cycle of figuring it out myself, instead, I held off until the answer came (something I’m learning to do…although I will admit, the abnormally warm weather also helped…’stay indoors with the stupid computer or get out in the lovely sunshine?’…sunshine you win – hands down!).

Friends, I know the temptation can be huge to jump back into looking for an answer when you’re in that period of waiting, whether it’s something little like my frustration (which I’ll point out – certainly did NOT seem little at the moment! ha hah), or whether it’s something larger, like waiting on your dream, your career, a spouse, a baby, healing, to get out of debt, to move, to change…whatever…but just trust me…it’s always better to leave it in God’s hands…and I’m not downplaying the difficulty of your situation…I know what it’s like to wait for something that you have no control over, and all of the pain, the thoughts and the emotions that go with it..but friends…it’s better to trust.

Trust that He has a plan, believe that He has your best interest in mind…and every time the temptation comes up again to figure it out – remember the weight of it when you were in that cycle of frustration and hopelessness and let Him have it.  He’ll show you the next step to take when the time is right – you won’t miss it.

God will show you the next step to take when the time is right - you won't miss it. Click To Tweet

Now, I’m happy to report that this story has a happy ending.  The solution did not come from the help that I sought, but it did point me in the right direction for more help, whereupon I indeed found the answer to my dilemma (and guess what? I actually learned something techy!).  Upon reflecting, I think what struck me the most in all of this was how frustrated I initially was…and could have been had I stayed on that path.  I obviously didn’t consciously think this, but I think somewhere I had this expectation that life should go smoothly and shouldn’t have roadblocks; so then when I did encounter one…all of that frustration would come up almost as a way of saying, “I can’t believe something went wrong! Everything’s supposed to go off without a hitch!”

Maybe you can relate?  Maybe you can see that same reaction within yourself…frustration, feeling overwhelmed at your inability to do anything, angry, hopeless.

Friends, can I be so bold to say, that perhaps it’s because we’ve believed a lie…a lie that’s told us that “everything is supposed to go smoothly and if it doesn’t then it must be because we’ve done something wrong”?

Well I for one, have believed that lie for far too long…it’s caused me to get stuck, to be selfish, and to have tunnel vision.  I think it’s time that we start believing the truth; that life is bumpy, it has detours, and yes, some are self-inflicted, but for the most part…it’s curveballs…things we didn’t plan for, or see coming…and the important thing is not if or when we get out No, the important thing is how we come through.

You see these situations will either make you bitter or they’ll make you better, they’ll either best you, or they will bring out your best.  Your troubles of today are someone else’s triumphs for tomorrow.

Your troubles of today are someone else's triumphs for tomorrow. Click To Tweet

Allow every roadblock to shape you into the person that you want to be, because when you do come through it, there will be more challenges…but with every challenge comes the opportunity for growth to better prepare you for your future.  So let’s be individuals who expect challenges, who grow through them for not only our benefit, but for the benefit of those around us, and who run out to greet them with tenacity, leaving our timidity in the dust.

 

 

 

PS: I do apologize for getting long-winded & all serious on this Full Disclosure Friday…I swear I had no idea it was going here when I first started!  But see look…my trouble became your triumph…and mine…gonna have to review this again I’m sure! 😉 )

 

Thank you to Angie Makes at angiemakes.com for the pretty Free Watercolor Tropical Flower Image shown above! Be sure to check out her lovely site. 

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What Your Family Really Needs

Hello Friends & Happy Family Day to you!

In light of today’s holiday, I wanted to share something on the topic of Family.  I tossed around several ideas, and even wrote half of a blog on one, but it just wasn’t going anywhere really.  So here’s what I want to talk about today: what is the greatest gift I can give to my family?

Now I don’t know what you’re like, but I absolutely love, and I mean LOVE to pick out presents for my family.  I love to think of their personality, their likes, their dislikes and what makes them unique…and then I shop like a madwoman…I’m talking like Indiana Jones-style treasure hunting…at Christmas it gets really bad…like, last year for example the hunt started in October (isn’t there a movie title something like that “The Hunt for Red October” or something?), but truth be told, the first item purchased was actually in August. (yikes)  I just can’t wait to see the expressions of surprise, happiness, and excitement on their faces when they rip into it and have their miiii-i-n-ds bl-o-wn. (I wish you could hear the way that sounded in my head…I tried to spell it out for you to catch but I apologize if it just looks like I’m incompetent…I promise I’m *mostly* not).

Anyways, where was I?  Right…gifts.  So yeah, it’s like a continual hunt when I’m out and about…”oooh…so and so would really like that….wouldn’t that make a lovely Birthday/Christmas/Just Because gift”?  But here’s what I’m finding; while these gifts are always great in the moment – the memories of them don’t tend to last far beyond then.  Take Valentines, for example, when the kids received their little gifts I was the World’s Best Mom, but now that they’ve all been eaten, lost, or broken (yes, sadly it only took less than a week) do they really remember all the “stuff”?  Not so much.

I’m not really sure what goes on in my mind that causes me to believe that because I spent time searching the whatever-it-is out that they will recognize that sacrifice and be honored by it…maybe that’ll change when they’re teenagers but I have a strong feeling that that’s not quite the case.  As I’m sure you’re already aware, our kids don’t really notice the time we spend cooking or cleaning or shopping for them when they’re busy playing; but what they do notice, is the time that we don’t spend with them when they are present, the times that we’re too tired to play dolls, or hockey, or blocks, the times that we’re too busy to sit and read or color, and the times that we seem more interested in our phone than in what they’re trying to show us (more on that here: The Day my Cell Phone Died).

I know it’s a tall order because we’re busy and we’re tired…as parents, I think we’re always tired…secretly I tell myself that there will be a day when that will all change and I’ll catch up on all those years of sleep…I might be delusional, but this I do know…if we really want to give our families a great gift – we’ll give them ourselves…our love…our time…our presence.

If we really want to give our families a great gift - we'll give them ourselves. Click To Tweet

Now before you get ticked off at me for adding yet another “to do” to your long list, or you think I’m here to shame you into being a better parent…just hold on.  Because the truth is;

In order to give of ourselves, we first must give to ourselves. We can’t expect to have enough fuel to give to others if our own tanks are on empty.

So here’s a few questions for you to ponder:

  1. Are you loving yourself and receiving love?
  2. Are you making time for the things that bring you joy and refreshment?
  3. Are you giving yourself the gift of God’s Presence? (more on that here: When Rest Isn’t Enough)

If you can confidently answer yes to those questions, then you will be much better equipped to give of yourself…because you will be giving out of your overflow…not out of frustration and weariness…running on fumes so-to-speak.  I think giving of yourself will at most times be a sacrifice, because by nature, human beings are selfish, but it’s important to remember that,

when you give of yourself, you’re not only meeting an immediate need of another, but you are also making a long-term investment in your family which can yield a good return long into your child’s teen and adult years.

If you feel like you’re already giving yourself time and giving of your time and are still getting frustrated, try a few of these tips to help you get started:

So although that half an hour of playing dolls can sometimes seem like an eternity, or you’d rather scrub toilets than have to play Monopoly one more time, and although the thought of just giving a gift or a treat can often seem so much more appealing; keep in mind the greater goal, and if you need extra incentive, just sneak a peek at the smiles on their faces…and that should help.

 

 

 

PS: While I geared most of this towards connecting with your children, feel free to apply it to your marriage as well! 😉

 

Thank you to Astrid Mueller at astridmueller.com for the pretty Free Watercolor brush stroke shown above! Be sure to check out her lovely site.

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{FDF}: My slightly jaded Valentine’s

Well friends,

Valentine’s Day…It came and went without a hitch…I know that because I saw it posted everywhere…on the feeds of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter…and I’m pretty certain every other media platform.  Happy pictures of happy couples, little heart filters decorating profile pictures, status updates of love stories, sentiments, and declarations of undying love, pictures of gifts given and received…tokens of love and affection.

And while it’s all good and great to celebrate love…somehow I just wasn’t buying into all of it this year.  Maybe it’s because it was on a Tuesday (a busy night for this household with students coming and going for music lessons), maybe it’s because I was feeling physically run-down with a headache and achy in general, or maybe it was because all of those love declarations out there on display for the general public to see hit me as more of a competition…a who-did-it-better moment.

Please forgive me if I’m stepping on toes here…and hey…I’ve put my fair share of “love declaration” posts out there myself…but I’m just saying…and maybe it was just for me…but perhaps we need to look less at everyone else’s love story, and focus more on our own.  We all like a happy love story, whether it’s real life or the movies (which are totally not true to life just in case you’re still day-dreaming about that last rom-com you saw and how that could totally be you one day), but we don’t all like to look at the regular day’s…the one’s where real love is worked out…when it’s tough…and the good feelings aren’t necessarily there…when love means choosing to believe the best in one another…when it means not getting our own way….those days that pave the way for the “feel-good” day’s.  Sometimes in the over-saturation of everyone else’s stories we can be too quick to disregard our own, too quick to take the happy posts at face value – forgetting all of the hard work of love that takes place under the surface…and ladies…please don’t tell me I’m the only one out there that’s seen those “love posts” by the men-folk and thought “well why doesn’t my husband do that?”…seriously girls….we’ve just gotta stop it (I’m talking to me here too)!  The comparing – it’s not fair to our husbands, to ourselves, or to our marriages.  It surely doesn’t cause us to believe the best in one another…either of our own marriage or of the one’s we’re comparing to…and it doesn’t lead us down the path of thankfulness to see all that we do possess in our own relationship.  Comparison will only ever make us ungrateful and miserable and those are definitely two words we don’t want in our love stories.

So while I admittedly have wrestled with these things in my heart from time to time (and felt absolutely ridiculous doing so at the time), I’m also incredibly thankful for my own love story and that we don’t have to save our celebrations for one day only….we celebrate it with every word spoken and every action done in love…on both the happy heart days and the working-it-out days…and only then, without taking away from our own story, will we truly be able to celebrate each other’s stories.

(Oh and just for the record – my super thoughtful husband did give roses to myself, our three children, and to his own two sisters. Aaaannnnnd…made me a super tasty steak dinner on the weekend. #grateful #thankful #blessed – not that I’m bragging or anything 😉 )

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When Rest isn’t Enough

Ironically enough I’m writing this post immediately after returning from an overnight family vacation; however the eye-opener happened a few weeks prior to this trip…in the middle of busyness, mood swings, and what seemed to be a whole lot of inner turmoil and mess in what was really just regular, everyday mama life.

Parent, or not, I’m sure we’ve all been there – that place when life is moving at too fast a pace for you to keep up.  For me, I often don’t realize it until it’s too late and I’ve been on a week-long streak of being miserable and short with my amazing family who have taken the brunt of it and inside I’m in a volatile, volcanic state…ready to erupt at any given moment.  Yeah, sadly you’d think I’d be more in touch with myself by now, but what can I say; I’m still learning and figuring out this business of being a grown-up.

So anyways, being in this state of mind a few weeks back on one particular evening, after reading a new devotional that I had begun on my Bible app entitled How’s Your Soul? (based on the book of the same title by Judah Smith…which I think I may need to read at some point in the near future…again…not getting commission here but dang it…I should be! ha hah!)…I was faced with a few questions on the topic of “rest” to reflect on.  The first question was seemingly quite easy, asking what I do to unwind and rest and how often I do that particular thing.  My answer came almost immediately as I pictured myself relaxing on the couch with my favorite pillow/blanket/tea combo, watching Netflix to nothing but the sound of sweet sleep coming from the children’s bedrooms (after the final bathroom break, water run, injury-of-the-day report, and umpteen trips out of the room for whatever else they could think of had wrapped up).  But before you could say “Nailed it”, and as I tried to move onto the next question, I had this nagging feeling that I wasn’t quite through with that one.  It was then that the real eye opener came when I heard God whisper in my heart…

“but do you feel refreshed?”

Whoa!  Now there was a new thought that had never occurred to me before.  Here I was thinking that I was getting rest on a regular basis once the kids went to sleep, but in reality…I was only getting to step one…unwinding…but never truly entering into the rest that brought refreshment.

So of course, the question begged to be asked…”what do you do to be refreshed?”.  Friends, I can honestly tell you that after searching long and hard for an answer, I came up empty.  It shocked me to realize that the refreshment I was in so desperate need of on a daily basis, was an elusive thing that came and went with the changing of the wind.  It became clear to me all too soon the source of my anger, frustration, weariness and irritability.  I was neglecting my soul – and my body, mind, and emotions were all suffering for it (not to mention my poor family!)

So what was the answer…where was I to go from here?  Take up another activity?  Exercise more?  Eat healthier?  Sleep more?  While those things are definitely all good and necessary in the maintenance of the soul, it was something else entirely that I found to be the solution.  Again as my thoughts began to run amuck searching for the answer, I heard something very different in the midst of all of the chaotic thoughts…a thought that wasn’t my own….”you could get up a bit earlier to spend time with Me“…It was the whisper of God’s heart again.  Inside I could feel of all the excuses forming…”but I’ve tried that and I just waste that time on my phone with a million notices from the night before”…silence on the other end….so I followed up with…”but I nee-e-e-e-e-d my sleep…I give out all day to little one’s and I’m exhausted when my head hits that pillow…I can’t sacrifice any of that time”….this time an answer…again, “but do you wake up feeling refreshed?“. Gah!  Again, I was without a sufficient response…speechless.  As I sat dumbfounded in the silence, the voice continued,

Just a few moments of  time spent with me would refresh your soul more than those 10 minutes of sleep that you think you need.”

I was shocked.  I had no response, no rebuttal, no witty comeback…nothing.  This was it…my answer…my moment of “aha!”…my solution to all that had been weighing me down.  So I decided that I’d try it out…my prayer was simple…”God give me grace!”…and His response just as simple…”it’s for your benefit…refreshment“….that right there was my grace…my ace in the back pocket for when I didn’t want to drag my weary butt out of bed.

The lasting result of rest is refreshment; anything less is artificial & temporal Click To Tweet

It’s been a few weeks since I started this new routine of finding refreshment in the mornings…sometimes it looks like reading a chapter of scripture from the bible, sometimes a devotion with a short bible verse, and sometimes just listening to worship music where the deepest parts of my heart can reach out to my Savior..sometimes it’s just sitting silent and listening for Him to whisper words of encouragement to my tired soul…but always, it’s refreshing, (and always it involves coffee).

For you, refreshment may look different. While I believe that it’s important for believers to read the bible, and pray…when it becomes just another “have to” thing in our life…we’ve reduced it to nothing more than religion…which is man’s attempt to reach God through outward performance and ritual…and friend’s…there is absolutely nothing in that, that will bring refreshment to the soul (rather it will weary you in doing all the “right” things to attempt to reach God…and in vain…we can never “do enough” to reach Him…our reaching Him is only through receiving the gift of His Son Jesus who gave Himself in order to reach us)  I’m also not saying that it’s wrong to do things like watch TV to unwind…but let’s make sure that in our unwinding…we also mix in some refreshing.  My strategy for refreshment might not be the same as yours, and hey…it might not look the same for me in every season of my life either…there’s been other times where it’s came through creating, writing, journaling, quiet walks in the woods, or reflecting by the water (that pun wasn’t lost on me…but if you know me at all you know that there’s just something about the water that inspires me like none other)…but always…the deepest refreshment has come when I’ve invited Jesus into those times to just do life with me.   Really, that’s all that He’s after..just connection with you…in the things that you love…do that…and trust me…you’ll be refreshed.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” ~ Matthew 11:28 (The Message Bible)

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{FDF}: Productivity

G’day Friends!

Today we’re taking a look at productivity.  Sometimes productivity in the life of a mama looks like unproductivity to the eye of the beholder because the mess can be constant and the children ever-present.  Monday was one of those days for me this week.  Besides a load of laundry and getting the grocery shopping done for the week, I’d have to say that after spending much of the afternoon unsuccessfully brainstorming for the blog while the little one napped – my greatest accomplishment came later when I successfully dislodged a piece of cheese which my toddler had thought to creatively cram into a sippy cup lid while my back was turned.  (Because why wouldn’t you think to shove cheese into the unreachable crevice of a lid? I mean, she knew what it would taste like, but how it would fit into a lid…well that opened up a whole new world of possibilities!)

We all have those kinds of days.  Sometimes it looks like rejoicing over a cup that was saved from a lifetime of inevitable mold and consequently the garbage heap, and other times the victories and accomplishments are only visible to the unseen eyes of the heart.  The days where it takes everything within to get out of bed and fight for your peace within; to silence the voices of doubt and discouragement and boldly embrace the voice of Truth over and over and over again until you actually start to believe it.  Those days aren’t easy, and I know them all too well, but rather than letting them envelope us in defeat, let’s choose to both receive God’s grace and give ourselves that same grace so we can remember that every battle won, whether seen or unseen, is an accomplishment and a victory worth celebrating.

Until next week…keep it real,

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The Day My Cell Phone Died

Well friends, tis true…my cell phone did die; however before any of you rush out and buy me a new one, I should point out that this happened in December and I have since replaced the ol’ girl.  Thus the story begins…

If you’re anything like me you suffer from a terrible case of the “dropsies” when it comes to the safe handling of your device.  On any given day my phone will fall several times (well, not my new one with the blinged out 24K gold case…yeah I’m cool like that…tbh…totally scored it on sale…but still…its genuine folks…stepping up in the world apparently) ANYWAYS….where was I?  Oh, right…dropsies.  So, unfortunately, (or perhaps it was fortunately? I’ll let you decide later) on this particular occasion in which my phone fell…it was only wearing it’s birthday suit…and when it hit the ground…it hit it hard…it’s poor little face was smashed to smithereens.

Was it coincidence that the day it fell was Christmas Eve – Eve (on a Friday of course) and that any shipping would have – not only the regular wait of the weekend – but an additional two days to make up for the fact that Boxing Day was on the Monday and Christmas (which occurred on the weekend) would be observed by businesses on the Tuesday?  I think not.  Was it also co-incidence that when my warranty replacement arrived on the Thursday I would discover that it also had issues and would need to be sent back immediately if I wanted a refund so that I could end my contract and begin a new one?  I think not – again.  So if we factor in New Years….that left me without a phone for the entire duration of Christmas Eve – Eve (I’m making it a thing now if it isn’t already), right through to New Year’s Day….and more than halfway into the first week of January….so in total: 12.5 days without a phone…unheard of in today’s day and age…but quite ridiculous to make a big deal of only 10 short years ago (might be aging myself now…I care not…30’s are the new 20’s as far as I’m concerned…spread the word.)

Anyways, so here’s the power punch…what I learned from my time in the dark ages so to speak: after almost two weeks without access to a phone and very little access to Facebook (computer’s just aren’t as portable) I realized this:

I didn’t miss much.

I know you’re probably looking at me like I have two heads right about now…but it’s 100% true…and this is coming from a girl who carried her phone in her back pocket and checked it regularly…E-mail, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest…you name it…I checked it (except Snapchat…I just don’t get it….and likely by the time I did..that ship would have sailed).  Now I will admit that the first few days I experienced withdrawal symptoms, but thank the Lord, I had the busyness of Christmas to keep me preoccupied.  However, as the days passed I began to discover that I had a new-found freedom from my constant addiction…I could come and go as I pleased without the pressure of immediately responding to texts, e-mails, or Facebook comments, likes, tags, and messages…after all I had a wonderful excuse with no phone…I could go to bed on time, without the distraction of a phone by my bedside table, and begin my day without checking what I may have missed during those precious few hours of sleep…I began to look up and discover little things that I would’ve been missing had my phone been present.

I discovered that while I had been so busy trying to “keep up” with my social media life…I had been missing out on real life…with the real people who were closest and most important to me…not in huge obvious ways…but in the little things; the cues and clues that we take for granted in daily life.

Sound too good to be true?  T’wasn’t.  But here’s the thing: I knew that my day’s were numbered with this new-found love affair and that when the shiny new device arrived, the lure back into that crazy world would be waiting to pounce on me like a Cheetah would her prey (picture that…it would be exactly like that).  So what did I do about it?  Well, I made some very key decisions there and then; simple and small, but key to keeping this change.  For starters, I decided to purge my personal Instagram account (as that was what could devour most of my time)…I asked myself why I was following so many people whom I only knew of from a distance…musicians, actors, artists…and if the only reason was because I was curious about their personalities and lives…than I deemed that as inadequate and unnecessary time baggage for my screen life…and gave them the axe.  I also changed the amount of notifications I received from various groups and pages on Facebook, and when my new phone did arrive, I chose to keep apps with several notifications (you know – that little number bubble that pops up in the corner to say how many actions have happened since you last checked) off of my home screens so that the temptation was at bay.  I limited my amount of downloaded games, and lastly decided to keep my phone on the counter rather than in my pockets when at home.  In addition to changes involving the amount of time on my phone, I also decided that instead of always reaching for my phone to entertain me…this year I wanted to begin a new habit of reaching for a book…not a Kobo (which I don’t actually own), or any other electronic device…but a real book with real pages.  I also decided to return to an art form that had been pushed to the back burner…keeping a journal…not to write in every day so it becomes just another chore…but a place where I can find inspiration leap off of my pen and onto the pages at will…and I decided to dig out my beloved coloring book and use that as another way to find creative inspiration. 

It’s been about three weeks now since I’ve re-entered the world of cell phones and I’m happy to say that the boundaries I have set in place are definitely helping…although the temptation is still there to keep scrolling until I’ve caught up on everything that happened since I last checked my phone…I’m way more mindful of how easy it is to get sucked back into that place where it becomes an addiction…and when I begin feeling that pull I know it’s time to just put the phone down.  And hey!  I’ve even had more enlightenment since returning to phone land….brace yourself because this may hit home…but Pinterest…that page we all know and love to get “inspiration” from…well…I realized that unless I’m purposefully looking for something on there, it actually does the opposite of inspire me…it entertains, and gift wraps the ideas and inspiration so that instead of looking at the real world for relevant, genuine inspiration, I’m only regurgitating the inspiration of another.  Now that’s not to say that I’ve eliminated it completely from my life…but it’s definitely no longer my main source of inspiration.

Less screen time = heightened awareness, leading to meaningful connection & genuine inspiration. Click To Tweet

Maybe you’re not quite ready to turn back the dial on your screen time…but I’d like to challenge you to put at least one limitation in place…for a week…and see what you discover about yourself, and those around you in that time.  You may discover that you like it.  While technology is a wonderful thing, it’s important to remember that as it continues to advance and we continue to keep up…the real world moves at an even faster pace and if we don’t look up soon…we’ll miss it….and I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather miss the screen world than the real world.

 

 

 

PS: I’d love to hear some feedback about your similar experiences!  And if you take me up on my offer, please check back in and share with me how it went!

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{FDF}: Mom Fashion

Hey Guys!

So today we’re talking fashion… More specifically… Mom fashion. If you’re anything like me, you likely have a Pinterest page a mile long with outfits that you’ll never actually own, let alone wear… It’s the dream closet so to speak… Great for inspiration but also great for breeding discontent. Mix in a little bit of social media, a dash of comparison, and we can be left feeling pretty defeated and inadequate at the worn-out reflection in the mirror.

So today I thought I’d share with you a typical outfit of the day when I’m doing mom-life at home (please ignore the slight belly ponch… I’m a little behind on those”eat healthier” New Year’s Resolutions).

Real splashy right? Prior to mom-life I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing matching colors on top and bottom… But when the bus is coming and you’ve gotta hustle to get the kids out the door you flip into survival mode.  Not gonna lie here… That t-shirt was totally the pj shirt from the night before, and yes – it does read “I Sleigh” because that’s totally something I say often..not really…but for that reason I love it even more. I do apologize for cutting off my head… You’re not missing much… Just bed head, glasses, and a make-up free face… Seeing as my selfie skills are at the “shallow end of the dream pool” (shout out to Scar circa 1994 courtesy of The Lion King), and I lack a selfie stick I had to resort to carefully arranging my phone in a Kleenex box and selecting the least awkwardly posed picture – which meant settling for what happened to be a headless shot.

Anyways, there ya have it friends. We’re not all fashion models and we don’t always have to have it all together. Focus on the things that really matter and let’s agree to invite perspective into our social media lives. (And I find on these half-pajama days sneaking in a quick shower.. Even if it’s at 2 pm does wonders for the morale 😉)

Until next week… Keep it real

 

 

 

 

Thank you to Angie Makes at angiemakes.com for the pretty Free Watercolor Swash shown above! Be sure to check out her lovely site. 

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When the Real World Hits Home

Please excuse me friends, but I’m having a moment here.  You see tonight I encountered the reality of the harsh world that we live in within the four walls of my home.  Tonight consisted of a very heartbreaking conversation that had to take place with one of my young children about an image that had popped up on the iPad at school during a very innocent search for a related assignment.

Up until this point my children hadn’t really needed any “talks” but tonight, at an age far too ripe for any child, issues had to be discussed that I hoped could have been avoided until they were …. well …forever…or at least 10!  Naive? Maybe – but you carry someone for 9 months, then endure unbearable pain to deliver that person, bring them home knowing that their complete survival is dependent on you, and teach them everything from smiling to walking to riding a bike, not to mention all of the bedtime rituals of hugs, kisses, stories, prayers, more hugs, more kisses, midnight wake-ups and endless nights of rocking chairs, lullaby’s, prayer’s, and tears from both parties…and then tell me that I don’t have a right to feel that way!  But I digress.

It wasn’t the big life talk…we haven’t even made it there yet….but this…tonight…it make’s me angry.  I know, I know…you’re sick of all of the anger going on in the world with world leaders, and policies, and the list goes on and on and on….and yeah…I agree that we need more love in this hate-filled world…but right now I’m angry.  I’m angry that in this sex-driven world in which we live a young child can go on an iPad for a school project and find indecency…I’m angry that what was once private has now become something for public consumption…I’m angry that I can’t go into a grocery store in the checkout line without having to flip magazine covers or avert my eyes…I’m angry that I can’t go on Netflix without having to scroll past disgusting images to get to the shows I want to watch…I’m angry that my children come home asking what “sexy” means because they’ve heard it in school by other children who likely are just as clueless but know enough from the images that are plastered everywhere that it’s now something to be equated with power.  But most of all, I’m angry that the innocence of our children, of my children, is being stolen at every corner and it’s all happening right under our noses.

So what do we do about it?  How do we shield them?  How do we protect these one’s that we have raised with, quite literally, our blood, sweat and tears, from the lust-driven world around them that wait’s to entice them at every turn?  Honestly, right now I’m afraid that neither one of us will like that answer…but if we allow that answer to drive us to fear, we’ll either shame or isolate them and neither of those options are realistic or beneficial.

I don’t pretend for one minute to have all of the answers…as I’m sure you know…parenting manuals are never one-size-fits-all, but what I can tell you is this; open communication and valuing the relationship over the issue will create a safe atmosphere for your child, and in a world of unsafe things bombarding them, they need to know that you are safe.  I definitely have my flaws, but right now despite the heartbreak, I can say that I am so sooo thankful that my child felt safe enough to willingly tell me what they saw without any prompting or foreknowledge on my part so that the door could be opened to have a healthy discussion without shame, anger, or fear.

In a world of unsafe things bombarding your children they need to know that you are safe. Click To Tweet

Maybe for you your children have already crossed this hurdle, and forgive me, as I have no experience raising teenagers or adults, but I’d like to challenge you with the same thing…regardless of what struggle your child is facing…keep the lines open by creating a safe atmosphere where they can come to you and know that you will always value the relationship you have over the issues they are facing.  It may not have immediate results, especially if you have a different history with your child as of now, but keep with it…eventually trust will be restored…and when that happens…your opinions will be invaluable to them.

As far as practical resources, for approaching the subject of internet safety and what to do when our children see inappropriate images, I would highly recommend the book “Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids” by Kristen A. Jenson M.A. and Gail A. Poyner Ph.D.  It covers this topic from a very scientific point of view looking at how the brain is divided into the thinking and feeling side and how those side’s both work, as well as providing a simple, graphic-free definition of what pornography is, why it’s dangerous (covering addiction and why addiction is harmful), and most importantly, how to reject it.  Straight up guys, I’m (sadly) not receiving any reimbursements for endorsing this book and I wasn’t coerced by anyone into writing anything – I’m just a mama trying to help other mama’s in any way that I can. 😉 And if you don’t need this resource yet, I’d still consider getting it in advance…I bought it around June and it was gathering dust until tonight when I was so thankful to be able to pull it out for our conversation.  (And don’t worry..it’s written from the point of view of a child having a conversation with his mom so it leave’s out much of the gooey cheesiness that other books in this genre tend to ooze of).

So anyways, I guess the light at the end of the tunnel in all of this is that sometimes life sucks…(ha ha…that wasn’t it…wait …for….it…) but you know, after the tears subsided and my mom anger melted away (as I got partway through my blog post…and yes there will be follow-up…not pointing of the finger and blame since I trust and am very grateful for our teacher’s and school…but definitely a working together to continually improve in this ongoing battle) I realized something that brought much comfort to my heart….and that is this: my child trusts me.  It’s a scary world out there guys, but when we’ve invested into the little people in our lives and demonstrated that we’re not going to freak out when they spill the milk everywhere but instead teach them to wipe up their mess with hugs and reassurance to carry on (and sometimes that means leading by example when we spill the milk!)…they’ll trust us with the bigger spills that happen…because they know that above all…we love them…and that relationship is more important than the bumps, spills, and messes that come their way…it’s a safe place in a not-so-safe world.  And after all, isn’t that what we really want for them?  Not to be so sheltered that any ripple in life rocks them…but to empower them to make those good decisions with room to grow, knowing that when mistakes are made – we’re always in their corner to toss them the towel with one hand and help them up with the other.

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Editor’s Note: This post was written at an earlier time and I’m pleased to report that my child continues to quickly point out signs of immodesty on magazines or TV ads as they appear.  I couldn’t be more proud!

 

Thank you to Astrid Mueller at astridmueller.com for the pretty Free Watercolor brush stroke shown above! Be sure to check out her lovely site.

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{FDF}: Toddlers & Tantrums

So this week’s Full Disclosure Moment is brought to you by Toddlers and Costco.  I really have to wake up on the right side of the bed in order to brave a trip into the mammoth sized grocery store that we all know and love…and with a toddler in tow…trust me…it’s not for the faint of heart.

I probably should have turned and tucked tail at the first sign of trouble (which may or may not have been when my toddler refused to get into the cart…in the parking lot); however, being as it takes us a little over 45 minutes to get to the closest Costco from our house, and (likely this is the larger reason) being that I’m somewhat (ahem) stubborn (only paralleled by two of my three children), I chose to dig my heels in and head into battle…armed with snacks, juice, toys, books, my secret weapon, (the soother)…and conveniently arrived in time for the free sample buffet.

One could say things didn’t exactly go swimmingly….however between the free samples, my weapons of choice, and some strategic distraction maneuvers of rehearsing nursery rhymes, counting, and some extremely kindhearted employees…we somehow managed to survive.

The truth is, that some day’s parenting isn’t all sunshine and roses…some day’s…it just plain sucks.  Sometimes the tantrums outweigh the patience we can muster up and we find ourselves torn within trying to maintain every shred of peace we can so that the captain doesn’t go down with the ship.  Sometimes we question our ability as a parent, and even our desire to do this parenting business at all…and in all honesty…that was where I was on more than one occasion during this trip.  Seriously, never in my life have I ever experienced the wild emotions that parenting can bring…one minute I can be furiously frustrated, overwhelmed with anger…and the thoughts…oh the thought’s…”why did I ever become a mom?”, “this job is too demanding for me…I want out”, “how can I possibly love anyone else when I’m struggling to love my own child right now?!”….and then the next minute when the matter has settled and I’m looking into that sweet little face saying “I Sow-wy ” the just-as furious love that floods over…fierce and wild makes me a force to be reckoned with for any fool that would dare pose a threat to that little one.  If one didn’t know the reality of those emotions or the frequency of them, they could be led to believe that there was something wrong with me….but I’m almost positive that I’m not alone in this and that it’s something that all of us, as parents to children – young or old – experience.

Here’s the thing…in those moments when the anger, the frustration, and the hopelessness seem more than we can bear…we need to remember that eventually it will melt away, the moment will pass, and life will go on.  Take a moment, breathe, get out of the room if you need to, and don’t bite the lie that you’re a horrible parent for feeling/thinking that way!  Accept that frustration is normal (because you’re a human being!!), and look up to receive God’s grace and love so that you can extend it outward to the little one (or older one) needing it so much.  Love is not an emotion…otherwise our children would be doomed…ha hah…Love is a choice, love is commitment…and friends…love is a miracle….That’s how it was intended to be…so that when our strength becomes limited and our love supply runs dry, we can go to our Heavenly Father, the very source of love  Himself, to be filled up in order to let it flow out.

It’s not easy this parenting thing…but it’s so worth it for those moments of joy and bliss (over a $1.60 hot dog and pop).

Until next week…keep walking in grace and love one to another…and keep it real.

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