Maintaining Motivation

There’s no doubt about it. These times are trying. Hard. Difficult. Confusing. The Covid-19 pandemic is upon us and we are forced to stay home. Now, I don’t want to talk about the coronavirus. I really don’t. I want to talk about being a stay at home mom.

I’ve been having some conversations via text with some friends who work away from home and they are now stay at home parents with full time kids. Life has been a huge change for them.

One friend asked me how I stay motivated. It took me a while to respond. I thought about it…

This is new territory for most of us. Many of you work outside of the home-that’s hard. Now you are staying home-really hard. Your kids aren’t in school-you are now their teacher-super hard. Working from home with kids in the house is super duper hard! Nothing is easy-no one said it would be. You can do it though-because you have to.

Many of you rely on social situations. You have friends and spend time with them. You see co-workers every day and thrive on that connection. You have a support system in family or friends. However, now you are physically cut off from all of those things. Aside from your immediate family, everyone is in isolation.

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians‬ ‭5:11‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Everyone needs support and connection. For me I connect through texting. I send people texts through the day mostly just to get a response, any response to validate that I exist. There have been times that I have gone days without a reply from anyone. That is when I sink into a depression. It’s easy to sink when you think no one in the outside world thinks your are important enough to reply to. It’s lonely.

I look at all of you struggling with this new territory and almost smirk. This has been my life. Yes, I chose to be a stay at home mom and I love it-but it is HARD! I like to have connection outside of my home and I fight hard to get it. I don’t have parents or siblings, I don’t have that familial support system that others do. My husband is still able to work and he isn’t home during the day, he then comes home and goes right out to farm. I am in isolation with my kids all day every day. The only thing that has changed for us is that we can’t go out to public places.

My suggestion is this: have some sort of routine. Have a to-do list, a simple one. My anxiety gets out of control when my house is messy so I clean on a schedule. I’ll post a sample of what that looks like but I have tasks I do every day -make the bed, laundry, dishes. I have weekly tasks-cleaning the bathroom, floors, dusting. Then I have monthly tasks like cleaning the fridge. It’s not rocket science but it works.

Shower and getting dressed will help you get through the day! Basic hygiene is vital when you stay at home. It’s so easy to not want to do those simple things but I promise it helps. I would love to just sit in my pajamas all day and watch cartoons with my kids and yes, sometimes that does happen-but for the most part we get stuff done.

Reach out to people. You aren’t the only one struggling-and maybe you aren’t struggling-but reach out anyway. Whether it’s a text, phone call, FaceTime, email, snail mail…reach out and make some sort of connection. Leave the house if you are able. We are blessed to live on a farm. When the weather is nice we are absolutely outside, moving around and getting fresh air. My goal is 15 minutes but it’s always longer than that. Which brings me to another suggestion…

Have almost zero expectations-expectations lead to resentment. Don’t set the bar so high that you can’t reach it. Set reasonable goals. My kids aren’t school age yet but our goals are simple: get dressed, eat, burn energy, don’t just sit in front of the tv-even though it’s so easy to do. When Oliver naps Jack has independent play-cars, tractors, playdoh, kinetic sand, etc. Occasionally I hand Jack a tablet just to get a break. I need it-and I have no guilt in doing that.

Grace. Lots of grace. Give it away. Give it to yourself. Accept it from those around you and accept it from God. Things will not go the way you plan and that’s okay. You will lose your temper-it’s easy to do in closed quarters. Grace upon grace is my biggest suggestion.

“But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”” James‬ ‭4:6‬ ‭NIV‬‬

You will survive this because you have to. Make the most of it by spending more time with your family-maybe that’s having regular family meals, playing games, or exercising together. Make it a point to turn off the screens in your home too. You’ll all need a break from tv, social media, the news, games. Take time to just enjoy your family. Make time for your bible. Spending time in the Word will help you. Seriously. A simple devotion can inspire you to function. This time is a gift-even though it may not always feel that way.

Reach out to me- I am here if you need to talk. I may not have answers but I can listen and love.

Dream

I have never been one to give much thought to dreams. Occasionally I will have a vivid dream and just can’t shake it.

“Each of us had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own.” Genesis‬ ‭41:11‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Some people keep dream journals and others, like my husband, can’t remember a dream to save their life. Some people believe in dreams as prophecy while others believe dreams are what you truly desire.

I don’t really know what the true meaning of dreams are but they are mentioned in the Bible several times. Daniel was given the ability to interpret dreams which is think is fascinating.

Last night I had one of those vivid dreams that I mentioned earlier. The end of this month will mark the one year point at which my dad passed away. Naturally my thoughts are rotating around that. The dream that I had was quite intense and involved my dad being in a building. The building was on fire. My dad called me on the phone and I answered in a panic. He was saying he couldn’t get out of the building because of his physical limits. His body wouldn’t allow him to move from the spot he was in. If he could move he could get out. He was saying his goodbyes over the phone.

In my dream I was screaming “it’s going to be painful, it won’t be easy, but you can do hard things!”. I said it over and over to no avail. I then attempted to go into the burning building to help my dad. I found him but he still wouldn’t move. I couldn’t save him.

When I woke up I knew I had to write about that dream but I wasn’t sure why or how. I mentioned it to my sister in law, Liz, and she gave me some possible insight: every single one of us has felt, at some point, like we are the person in the burning building or the person on the other end of the phone.

For me, I think I’ve been feeling guilty. I couldn’t save my dad. I tried and I failed. I’ve been holding onto that when it’s not my burden to carry. I was never going to be able to save him. God had a plan. It was Gods job to save him and ultimately he did by taking away his pain and giving him the ultimate healing.

The truth is that it’s not our job to save people. I’m not talking about giving life saving CPR, rescuing someone from an actual burning building, or some sort of surgery-but we cannot save people from their sins. Only God can do that. You have to be willing to be saved. You have to work at it and make an effort. You have to be motivated. It definitely won’t be easy. It will probably hurt sometimes. But YOU CAN DO HARD THINGS!

“What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a rod of discipline, or shall I come in love and with a gentle spirit?” 1 Corinthians‬ ‭4:21‬ ‭NIV‬‬

God asks us to plant the seed and maybe do a little watering but it is not our job to force that seed to grow by screaming at it or beating it with a book. We are instructed to love with a gentle spirit.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”” Mark‬ ‭12:30-31‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Are you the person in the burning building giving up or waiting to be saved? Unwilling to to do the hard thing? Are you the person on the other end of the phone screaming and trying to take control? Either way…let go and let God have control of that situation. He will guide and direct you through the hard things.

Denial

Have you ever done something that you know you shouldn’t but just can’t help yourself. Maybe it’s a guilty pleasure like watching something that’s a little “mature” or reading something that is vulgar. Maybe it’s eating something when a health condition says it’s probably wise to avoid those types of foods.

How do you feel after you’ve done those things? Happy? Satisfied? Maybe disappointed in yourself?

While indulging in those “guilty pleasures” might feel good in the moment they can be detrimental in the long run-to your physical and/or mental health.

I have been fairly candid about my mental health and what causes some of my anxiety and depression. I have gone to therapy and take medication for my problems. I do exercises that help me get through the day when I’m stressed and overwhelmed. I have learned to break down boundaries and build up healthy ones. I have been doing daily devotionals and spending more time with God-I’ve been consistent for over 100 days but something is still feeling off.

“Then the Lord replied: “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.”

Habakkuk‬ ‭2:2-3‬

I decided to give up Instagram. Gasp! The horror! I gave up one measly social media site that means nothing to do many people. Instagram can be used for so much good and education and connecting but it can also be used for comparison, bragging, immorality, and the list goes on. The fact of the matter is that Instagram was hurting my mental health. I’ve been free of that branch of social media for several weeks now and my mood has changed 10,000%. Okay, maybe not that much but there has been an improvement and I LOVE it-so much so that I deleted the Facebook app off of my phone to test that too. I still log in through my web browser but it’s work and I get frustrated by how long it takes. I log on only to post to some groups that I am in charge of. My mood has changed significantly within the past week and I’m considering logging off of social media for good.

Some of you couldn’t care less about social media and it doesn’t effect you at all and that is great. Others of you know exactly what I am talking about and maybe you’re considering making changes in your social media lives as well. Good for you!

I’ve been in denial that social media is at the root of my mental health problems. I’m not saying that by deleting said programs will cure me but it certainly doesn’t hurt. I love feeling connected but I now have more of a desire to be physically connected with my family. I want to be content with my current life and not feel drawn to know what others are doing.

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

James‬ ‭1:27‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I feel that God is leading me to continue this blog so I will do that. If you want to keep up with it please subscribe through email! Deleting Facebook is something that I feel needs to be done for myself. For those of you wondering how you will keep up with my kids and their cuteness-you know my number, my email, where we live. You will survive not getting updates every day.

Think about what you can detox out of your life to give you more happiness. What are you giving control to?

5 Ways to Practice Self Care

So much of what I see online and hear about from other moms is to take time for self care. My initial thought was to spoil myself. To treat myself to spa days and girls nights. While those things are really nice to do on occasion I think they miss the point.

In my opinion it’s important to take care of your self-mentally, physically, spiritually. While that may include spoiling yourself with a pedicure now and then I’ve discovered five areas to improve my own long term self care.

Set Healthy Boundaries

  • This is one of my New Years Resolutions. I’m learning that setting healthy boundaries is fantastic for my mental health. For me this means not over committing my life to others, saying no more, and taking care of relationships-whether that is to end an unhealthy relationship or cultivate a new one. I’m sharing less of my life on social media and living more in the moment.
  • “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs‬ ‭4:23‬ ‭NIV‬‬

    Practice forgiveness and gratitude

  • I tend to hold grudges. Do you? When someone wrongs me I just hang onto that and let it fester in my mind. That is not a great way to spend my life. There have been times when I’ve had to ask for forgiveness for holding a grudge and that person had no idea that I was mad at them. There’s also been times when I’ve had to forgive someone who wasn’t sorry-or even alive. Letting go of those grudges frees my heart and my spirit.
  • “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” Mark‬ ‭11:25‬ ‭NIV‬‬

  • Gratitude goes hand in hand with forgiveness. I’ve learned that if I’m grateful for things in my life I see less of the negative. When I am grateful for certain aspects of people and the relationships with them I don’t see the bad things as much.
  • “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy” Philippians‬ ‭1:3-4‬ ‭NIV‬‬

    Invest in community and connection

  • Whoa! This is a hard one for me and I know for many others as well. This is stepping out of my comfort zone and reaching out human to human. Face to face. NOT ON SOCIAL MEDIA! Community and connection seems so much easier when you aren’t actually meeting face to face. I’m currently taking a break from social media and it has been fantastic. I don’t really miss it. I do log on occasionally to update groups that I lead-but it’s in the name of building community.
  • “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs‬ ‭27:17‬ ‭NIV‬‬

  • I started a small bible study in our church and it’s been great. I love getting together with these other moms and talking about our struggles. It’s crazy to see these moms-who look like they have it all together- and they are falling apart just like me. Motherhood is surprisingly isolating and community -face to face community is vital for survival.
  • Practice good health

  • To me this seems pretty obvious for self care but I struggle with it. Staying active, eating healthy-instead of junk, getting outside…these all help with self care. The more we move around, get our heart rate up, put good stuff in our bodies-the better we feel. In return we can help our families feel better too. We set good examples for our kids and we are ultimately able to do more without the added stress and exhaustion.
  • “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” 1 Corinthians‬ ‭6:19-20‬ ‭NIV‬‬

    Rest

  • I mean…come on. This is obvious. Rest is vital to our survival. Our physical and mental health depend on rest. Rest may not even be sleep (though very important) it could be setting a boundary and saying no to something and instead spending time with your kids or spouse. Occasionally we like to book a night away in a hotel. We intentionally go away to spend time as a family uninterrupted. We could have a family day at home but life is still there-asking for help or advice. It’s good to step away from responsibility for just a moment to rest and recover and then you will be better at your responsibilities later.
  • “There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.” Hebrews‬ ‭4:9-11‬ ‭NIV‬‬

    Spend time in the Word

  • To me this is another no-brained but also another hard one to accomplish. I’ve found that the YouVersion Bible App helps to keep me focused. No, it’s not an actual paper bible but I can grab my phone anywhere and read some scripture or a devotional any time that I have a quick moment-during nap time or in the car when I have a moment waiting to go in somewhere. I wake up to tend to my kids in the middle of the night. Sometimes I can’t go back to sleep. I will grab my phone and read in my bible app. It’s pretty convenient. These actions have changed my mood and have allowed me to grow in my spiritual walk. When I’m struggling I know that I can find encouragement and truth in my bible.
  • “So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”” John‬ ‭8:31-32‬ ‭ESV‬‬

    Truthfully I don’t know if these five things will help YOU practice self care but I do know that they have helped me. I have learned so much about myself and my relationships by doing these things. My life seems to be less irritating and my difficult seasons are shorter. I have learned to have an attitude of gratitude and my mental health has improved greatly through that.

    Send me your suggestions for self care!

    The Messy Side

    I love to keep a neat, clean, organized home. My anxiety feeds on messy. I cannot calm down when everything is in disarray. I end up rage cleaning-you know-the type of cleaning that someone does when they are angry and can’t control anything else so they scrub and scrub until a hole forms in the counter because it makes them feel in control. Yeah…that’s me. I shamefully admit that more than once I’ve broken a dish or bent silverware during my rage cleaning. Good times. What a mess.

    Hot Lava and a Messy House filled with love.

    Recently my dishwasher broke. I loathe washing dishes. I would rather clean the toilet with my own toothbrush than wash dishes. So, my dishes sit in the sink for as long as I can tolerate them-hoping that someone will pop by and ask to wash them for me-after all…I’m a fabulous stay at home mom and there are tons of people who want to just “bless” me by doing my chores. A girl can dream can’t she? What a mess.

    And then there’s this other pile. A paper pile. I’m sure you’re familiar with it-I think it’s called “bills”. It sits there. All day. Every day. Looking at me-waiting to be paid. I know those bills are due but I look at them and look at our bank account and try to figure out when to mail these bills so that they don’t overlap or come close to grocery day. What a mess.

    I am a mess. My life is a mess. My kids are a mess. My house is a mess. But guess what…God doesn’t care. In fact-he sent His son to earth to take care of my mess. He’s with me in my anxiety driven rage cleaning. He’s with me when I’m avoiding doing the dishes and filling the sink with water one more time. He’s with me when I’m juggling bills and pay checks and trips to the grocery store trying to make every penny count.

    Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30

    God never said we have to be perfect, organized, bathed every day, house spotless. He wants us to make an effort and give our best and if our best is less than perfect that’s okay because it’s our best. What is important is that we meet with Him every day.

    I love that I can come to Him with my mess. My sins-my anger, discontentment, jealousy, gossip, unforgiveness or whatever else is messy in my life and he takes it upon him and buries it at the bottom of the sea.

    As far as the East is from the west, so far he has removed our sins from us. Psalm 103:12

    Where are you today? Trying to be perfect? Content in your journey? Giving your best effort? Wherever you are know that you can be there and meet God in that place too. You don’t need to be perfect, pray perfect, look perfect…we are all a little messy.

    Contentment

    Before Christmas and New Years I wrote about my word for 2020. Boundaries kept coming up and I set out to learn more about setting boundaries, keeping boundaries and respecting boundaries. Nearly two weeks into the new year I feel like I have a pretty good grasp on the boundary concept. It’s definitely still a work in progress but I now feel God pointing me in another direction for my word of the year. Contentment.

    My entire life I have struggled with comparison. I’m sure I’ve written about that before -I don’t like to dwell on my past blog posts though. I’ve struggled with items I own and wanting better. I’ve struggled with how many friends I have and wanting more. I’ve struggled with keeping my home in a perfect state like people on tv or Instagram influencers. I’ve struggled with raising my kids in a way that someone else does that I admire.

    The truth is that the word contentment was a slap across my face. I need to be content with what I have, who I am, my home, my car, my kids, my life…

    While I continue to work on boundaries, contentment falls into line with that-for me anyway. This year I will be content with what I have and not wanting more. Spending time with my family will remain my number one priority-and that doesn’t mean that every day needs to be perfect…because it definitely won’t be.

    I pray that in my search for contentment my children will also be content in what they have and how we live. I pray that they will enjoy the simpler pleasures of life and value our family time. I know that I find joy in swinging with my kids and baking with them. I enjoy building train tracks and going on adventures to our “treasure tree”. I pray that they learn to appreciate the little things now and that I don’t build up their expectations too much.

    I choose joy.

    I choose happiness.

    I choose love.

    I choose laughter.

    I choose grace.

    I choose contentment.

    I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. (‭Philippians‬ ‭4‬:‭12‬ NIV)

    Healthy Boundaries

    Does anyone set a New Years Resolution and actually keep it? I’ve never really taken it seriously. For the past couple years though a word would present itself to me and stick. One year it was grace. I worked on learning about grace. It’s importance. How to give and receive it. This past year the word has been surrender. I am a huge control freak. I’ve had to learn how to let go and let God. Lately the word has been boundaries. All arrows are pointing to setting boundaries and respecting boundaries. So guess what? That’s going to be my word for 2020.

    According to the highly credible website Wikipedia, a New Years Resolution is  “a tradition, most common in the Western Hemisphere but also found in the Eastern Hemisphere, in which a person resolves to change an undesired trait or behavior, to accomplish a personal goal or otherwise improve their life.”

    This explanation seems to be pretty accurate. I think most people resolve to improve themselves physically…diet, exercise, quit a bad habit, etc. But why don’t we make more of an effort to resolve our mental issues. Let’s focus on improving our mental health. That will look differently to everyone and maybe dieting, exercising or quitting a bad habit will help you mentally. However, maybe working on forgiveness, relationships, grace, surrender, boundaries and the like might be a better option. How about getting back into church or diving into your bible every day?

    In my opinion when your heart and mind are healthy everything else will fall into place. God has a plan.

    When I first started having these words: grace, surrender, boundaries, appear to me I wasn’t sure I could make those kind of changes in my life. When you’ve lived a certain way your entire life and then try to change something it’s like throwing a stick into a tire spoke. I fell. A lot. I got hurt. But, as with many things, consistency is key. I kept at it. Those things I was changing got easier. Before I knew it I was giving grace and surrendering without struggle.

    This coming year as I focus on boundaries I wanted to look up what that really means. According to the “interwebs”, most sites had a similar definition, “a real or imagined line that marks the edge or limit of something“. That definition came from Cambridge Dictionary. I liked the wording of that explanation. The limit of something.

    Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23

    During the year of 2020 I will be more mindful of my personal boundaries. I will say “no” more. I will be setting limits as to what I share on social media-not only for myself but for my kids. I will be respecting others’ boundaries. I will listen to my heart and prayerfully consider things before I make commitments. I will not settle for something just to make someone else happy. This might sound a little selfish but my mental health has been struggling because I have worked too hard at pleasing others. I will now guide my focus on what God is calling me to do and what is best for my family. I have been extremely hasty at making decisions in the past. From now on it might take me a little longer to respond and commit to something simply because I want to do what is right in my heart and within Gods Will for my life and my family.

    As silly as New Years Resolutions may seem I encourage you to make one. A silly resolution or a serious one. The more you work on something the easier it becomes. It takes 21 days to form a habit and 90 days to create a lifestyle.

    The Broken Vase

    My sister in law, Liz, and I were having a conversation not too long ago. Actually we have this conversation quite often…getting rid of junk. Literal junk in our homes. We do not want to become “hoarders” or pack rats.

    Matthew 6:19-21 Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

    It’s funny what items have emotional ties though. An old stained t-shirt, a book with the cover torn off, a birthday card signed by someone who is now gone, a onesie your baby wore. Continue reading “The Broken Vase”

    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.

    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”