The Truth Is…

In a perfect world everyone would tell the truth. The truth is though that a lot of people are scared of the truth. They are scared to tell the truth and scared to hear the truth. Sometimes we are scared to admit the truth to ourselves.

Maybe the truth goes deeper than: “does this make me look fat?” Or “I’m on my way”-when you haven’t left yet. Maybe the truth is “I’m hurting”, “I’m hiding”, “something isn’t right but I don’t know what it is”. Continue reading “The Truth Is…”

YOU are a Good Mom

Do you use over the counter medicines or all natural/ essential oils/ earthy products when your kids are sick?

It doesn’t matter. YOU are a good mom.

Does your kid go to daycare or stay home with you?

It doesn’t matter. YOU are a good mom.

Do you feed your kid fast food or cook from scratch?

It doesn’t matter. YOU are a good mom.

Does your kid go to public school, Christian school, or homeschool?

It doesn’t matter. YOU are a good mom.

Did you have a natural birth, c-section, pain management birth adoption…foster…etc?

It doesn’t matter. YOU are a good mom.

Breast or formula?

It doesn’t matter. YOU are a good mom.

The list could go on and on. I find myself reminding myself that I am a good mom even if I choose Tylenol over essential oils. If I opt to stay at home rather than go to work. If I set my kids in front of the tv all day because I just can’t deal. It’s not every day. It’s not every time. Organic vs store brand isn’t always the right answer.

Are your kids happy? Are you happy? Is your family being cared for in the best way that you can provide? YOU are a good mom.

Proverbs 31:28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;

Motherhood isn’t always sunshine and rainbows. That. Is. Okay. It is okay to have a bad moment or a bad day. Maybe even a bad week. I suggest not unpacking and living in that bad moment. Sometimes it’s okay to let it all out. To scream or cry. As mothers we tend to hold ourselves together for the sake of our family. I’m telling you from experience that it is not good to keep emotions all bottled up. You will eventually explode.

Find a good outlet. Try your best to get some alone time or time with a friend. Join a bible study or play group. Don’t let the title of mom define you. But still…YOU are a good mom.

I see you mama. You are tired. Overwhelmed. Done. The judgement sometimes comes flying at you. Unwanted opinions and articles are sent your way. I see you. I hear you. YOU are a good mom.

I am a good mom.

No Shoes? No Problem!

I know you have all seen those signs on the doors of restaurants and other businesses that say No shoes. No service. I completely respect those signs and follow that rule. But! When I am at home I all but refuse to wear shoes.

Did you know that there are over 7,000 nerve endings in each foot? That’s a lot of data to be processed when you are walking without shoes or socks. All those nerves are sending messages to your brain to tell you something is soft or sharp or uneven.

I am that mom at the park that lets her child run around without shoes. I feel the evil glances from other parents as they shout at their kids to leave their shoes on. I remember a time specifically on vacation recently. Our hotel had a nice little playground-which was awesome for our almost three year old to burn energy. The shaded, fenced in play area had pea gravel instead of wood chips or rubber mats. It was hot and everyone wore sandals. Clearly the tiny rocks were getting in shoes. Just walking in there I had twelve dozen rocks in my footwear. Jack asked if he could take his shoes off. “Of course” was my response. I’d rather him play barefoot than have to help him dig rocks out of his shoes for thirty minutes. Ugh. Meanwhile almost every other kid that came and went asked to take their shoes off. Their parents responded with no. Some parents even told their kids to not get dirty – but that’s an issue for another time. Ha!

Why? Why don’t I like to wear shoes? Why don’t I care if my child wears shoes?

God did not create us with shoes on. I know that seems like a silly answer. But it’s true. We created shoes to protect our feet from getting injured. I totally respect that. And of course it hurts when you step on a rock or a stick but in all honesty if you do it enough you will build up a tolerance- just like with many other things.

You are not a bad parent if your kid wears shoes all the time but just know that I am not a bad parent for allowing my child to be barefoot…and he does ask to wear shoes sometimes when we are walking in rough areas and he has opted to leave them on at the park on occasion.

My point is that you do feel and experience more when your shoes and socks are off. There is a freedom from going barefoot! I challenge you to try it.

Here’s a link to an article with some good points. https://www.mother.ly/child/benefits-of-being-barefoot-for-children

Cultivating Connection

This week I have been hit with small moments of depression. Any amount of depression, no matter how small, is not enjoyable. It hits me at weird times like when I’m driving to the store or a memory pops into my head. I can feel myself shutting down. I want so badly to let the darkness take over and just lay in a bed wallowing. That is exactly what Satan wants. He wants me to grab onto those dark feelings and fall into the pit of hopelessness.

Only by the grace of God am I able to pull myself out of that pit and shake off the darkness and function for my family.

Psalm 23:4 Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;

I am reminded pretty regularly how different we all are. How our mountains look extremely different from someone else’s and our valleys, or pits, can look different as well. But that doesn’t make my suffering or your suffering any less than that of someone else.

Continue reading “Cultivating Connection”

At Least

Two words I am trying to say less are “at least”. More specifically I am trying not to downplay someone’s suffering.

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When a friend tells you “I lost my pregnancy” is it your first instinct to reply with “at least it was early on” or “at least you already have a child”?

When a loved one shares with you the difficulty they are facing taking care of their parent is your first instinct to say “at least you still have that parent” or “at least you aren’t juggling small kids while taking care of your parent”?

When anyone shares a difficulty that they are facing my natural instinct is to downplay it or explain to them they what they are going through could be far worse. My first instinct is to compare their suffering to what I’ve suffered through. But the fact of the matter is that we all go through different suffering. Not one person can experience the exact same thing that another person is experiencing-not even siblings or a spouse. We all suffer differently and we all grieve differently. We all celebrate differently and experience different types of joy. Why? Because we are all created differently.

Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

I have definitely made more of an effort to think before I speak when someone is sharing something personal. I try extremely hard to not just reply with “at least…”. The best thing that I can do is listen, absorb, love and pray.

Romans 14:13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.

The best advice that I can give is to be honest but in a loving way. If you don’t understand then say something along the lines of “that sounds terrible, I cannot begin to understand what you are going through but I will be praying for you (maybe even pray in the moment if you are led to do so).

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There are so many things that I have never experienced but what I have experienced I am willing to share. I have had close friends refer me to their friends or family who are facing difficulties similar to mine; they weren’t able to help but they knew that I might have knowledge that could help or encourage.

My Life As A Tree

As I look out my living room window I see our maple trees. Those trees are beginning to change colors. The season is about to change. Not long ago my season was very difficult-probably the most difficult season I have ever endured. By the grace of God I weathered that stormy season just like our maples have endured many stormy seasons. Every year they lose their leaves in preparation for the hard winter. They freeze and shut down. The spring comes. The trees wake up, they thaw and their sap starts flowing again. Do you know what that sap produces? Deliciously sweet maple syrup. After a long hard season those trees begin to produce good “fruit” again.

Just like those trees, I shut down during my long, difficult season. I weathered a long winter. Then the spring came. My heart began to open and thaw. I began to produce good fruit again. I became human once more. My attitude changed. My spirit lifted.

My life isn’t perfect by any means. There may be more difficult seasons ahead. The one thing I know for sure is that God, and only God helped me through. One major breakthrough that God revealed to me is that I needed to forgive.

John 15:5-8 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.  If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

Forgiveness is huge. When we don’t forgive someone it doesn’t hurt them. Sometimes they don’t even know that they hurt you. That unforgiveness is like a disease that roots itself into our hearts. Bitterness grows and it can turn into hate, resentment, envy. It takes up residence in our lives and it isn’t destroying the life of that person who hurt you it’s hurting your life.

I thought I had forgiven my dad for the difficult season that I had endured. I told myself that I forgave him anyway. The more that the negative thoughts and even the negative attitude showed up the more that God revealed to me that I had not forgiven my dad completely. There were others that I needed to forgive too. Those burdens, yes multiple burdens, were still there and I needed to hand them over to God. Most of all-I needed to forgive myself.

A lot of the time there are opportunities that you can physically or at least call, text or email someone to offer forgiveness. But, what if that person is no longer living. Offering forgiveness to someone who isn’t around is hard but it’s essentially letting go of the hurt, it’s letting go of the disappointment, it’s letting go of every situation that ever had a negative impact on your life. Its letting those leaves fall in preparation for new fruit. It’s giving ALL of that over to God; and do you know what he does with it? He throws it all away. It doesn’t matter anymore. Let that season help you grow stronger.

Colossians 3:12-14 “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

If you need to ask for forgiveness-that is hard. That means you have to swallow pride and admit that you were in the wrong. I don’t think anyone likes to do that. I’ve had to ask for forgiveness several times and it has never been easy. However, once it’s done a new relationship can grow. Hearts are mended. Trust is renewed. What is really hard is forgiving yourself. Letting go of self destruction, admitting that you have been hurting yourself is never easy. Admitting that what you are going through has been dragging on because you just couldn’t let it go. Give that over to God.

When I decided I needed to forgive myself and my dad and others I had so much bitterness and negativity in my heart. I realized that I needed to let it go. One day I decided it was time to move on. I clinched my fists hard. I said out loud “God, I don’t want to carry this burden anymore. I need you to take it now.” And I opened my fists and symbolically let go of that burden. I instantly felt lighter. I felt at peace. I felt as though God had actually lifted a boulder off my shoulders.

Friends, I want you to honestly offer yourself some grace. Offer yourself and others forgiveness. Maybe you didn’t realize that is what needed to happen until today-but try it and see if your attitude changes or if your season begins to change. Though I may not know you or your situation I pray that you can let those bitterness seeds fall into the hands of Jesus.

You Aren’t Doing Anything Wrong

One of the best pieces of parenting advice I have received to date is: “you aren’t doing anything wrong”.

I received that bit of advice, or maybe it was just a comment or form of encouragement, at our churches Vacation Bible School program. Our oldest is 3 and didn’t quite meet the age requirement to participate but they told us that if we were willing to walk around with him to the classes he was more than welcome to join in. Little man had never been in any kind of classroom or structured environment; I decided this would be a great first time exposure as there aren’t many requirements. That week was also in the middle of our potty training journey. We were fighting an uphill battle.

Colossians 3:23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,

As the kids were in the opening session of VBS I sat next to someone I know, a wonderful mom of three. She had told me at one point, many years ago, that it wasn’t her intention on having kids-at least when they started coming. I related to that remark completely. Anyway, we caught up a little bit and exchanged typical parenting pleasantries when I confessed that we were struggling with potty training. As a parent I think its normal to just assume if something isn’t working right then you are, in fact, doing something wrong. This was exactly my thought-I am doing it wrong. I didn’t confess that thought but through motherhood ESP she must have sensed it. She immediately said “you are not doing anything wrong, keep doing what you are doing. All kids are different and it takes some a bit longer. You are a good mom”. I melted with a sigh of relief and her words enveloped me like a hug.

In the moment I didn’t need criticism. I didn’t need suggestions. I didn’t need advice. She didn’t pry. She instantly encouraged me- this struggling mother of two rambunctious boys. She-the mother of three rambunctious children (her youngest was taking her clothes off at that moment)-doesn’t has everything all figured out. She wasn’t boasting or judging. She knew the struggle and she knew exactly what I needed to hear.

Why can’t we all step up and be encouraging? From one mother to another or even one parent to another, we have a choice and that choice is to not condemn but to lift each other up. As parents we are all fighting a similar battle. Some parents fight a battle that others could never withstand. Every single parent struggles at some point. We all have our good days and our bad days, and some days aren’t even worth mentioning.

1 Thessalonians 5:11a Therefore encourage one another and build each other up,

We are still, weeks later, fighting an uphill battle with our 3 year old about potty training. I don’t think he inherited any of my stubbornness. But one thing I know for sure is that I know I am not doing anything wrong. I am being consistent and he and I are both growing through this process.

Yesterday, today and tomorrow I will offer myself grace for losing my temper. I will offer my son grace when he has an accident or doesn’t quite make it to the potty on time. He is only three years old after all. He is not perfect and neither am I. and guess what- you aren’t perfect either and that’s what makes us all similar.

If you are on a potty training journey I do recommend this travel training seat. It conveniently folds up inside a bag that you can carry in the diaper bag while on the go. It has come in handy more than once.