Breaking the Mold

Learning to be who God made me to be

Okay with Okay for the Holidays — December 9, 2016

Okay with Okay for the Holidays

This holiday season has been a bit of a struggle for me.
“No time! There’s no time!” “I can’t even make the rolls!” “Has Benjamin even done school this week?!”

We’ve had a big year of transitions (well really just a few months that feel like a year). Our church has started a second campus of which my husband is a co-coordinator along with continuing his youth pastor duties and I’ve started a new part-time job as a science teacher twice a week. Oh, and we’re also trying to finish up our addition on the house, our youngest turned 1, our middle is potty-trained(ing) and our oldest started “kindergarten”.

Yeh, I know…

Honestly, I feel accomplished if I have a day without a mountain of laundry at the foot of my bed or I remembered to have Benjamin actually do his school-time for the day (but hey what’s homeschooling for if you can’t be flexible?). So when the holidays were approaching, I decided I was going to be okay with just okay for the holidays.

My children enjoy the Christmas music (when I remember to turn some on), and our sugar cookies so far haven’t made it past the bowl we mixed the dough in. We’ve only watched one Christmas movie (A Charlie Brown Christmas) and only half the lights on our tree actually work. I’ve missed all the Christmas parades and don’t really plan on driving around to see lights. And you know what? My kids DON’T EVEN CARE! I had to start making choices. Was I going to try to “do it all” to look/feel like a good mom… or was I going to BE a good mom and just allow some things to slide.

We’ve chosen just one thing to really focus on this year; learning about the birth of Jesus. This year I’m using an advent story called The Truth in the Tinsel. It lays it all out for you. Which verses to read, discussion questions and a little craft. READ THIS: I AM NOT A CRAFTY PERSON. But these are super simple and the kids love them! I have been pleasantly surprised by how much they remember each night from the previous ones!

So if we do nothing else this holiday season, i.e. see the lights, parades, visits with Santa, actually baking the sugar cookies, etc., I know that we will have done what’s most important. If my kids can enjoy me and not deal with the me who is stressing out over all the “should haves” and “need tos”, we will have done what is most important.

So I encourage you to take some time and evaluate if maybe you also need to be okay with just okay this holiday.

 

Merry Christmas!

The Duplo That Broke the Dam — July 8, 2016

The Duplo That Broke the Dam

This morning we were all playing with Duplo blocks in the boys’ room before Johnathan had to go to work. I love this kind of play because it’s a little more subdued than some of the other forms of play my boys usually get into… so I thought.

My boys are obsessed with super heroes. Any kind, any story. Any character can be changed into a super hero just by adding “super” to the front of their name. And as with any good super hero story, there must also be a villain. Enter: Cake Robot. A character J and the boys developed during their bedtime ritual of “short story” (which usually aren’t very short…). J built a Duplo version of Cake Robot while Isaac was Superman. I’m playing on the floor with Rosalee when BAM! Cake Robot right to my head. Holy Toledo that hurt!

All of a sudden I felt myself breaking down, essentially sobbing in front of my family. I mean it hurt, but did it really hurt that bad? I left the room because my children didn’t really know what to do with mom crying and I didn’t really know why I was so upset. Johnathan was visibly concerned  about my reaction thinking maybe I had a concussion, but I couldn’t bring myself to talk about it at that moment. Despite his best efforts to lighten the mood I was in a funk of sadness.

After about 20 minutes, Johnathan nailed it on the head. He told me, “You were hit in the head, but it hurt your heart.” (man do I love this guy). And that was it exactly.

It had felt intentional, even though I KNEW it wasn’t. Like my kids were finally so tired of mom telling them what to do, being grumpy, making them nap, not letting them have dessert, etc. that they just launched a huge duplo creation at my head. But my kids haven’t learned how to hold grudges, so why would I think this?

I think it was really my guilt about my parenting skills/success (or lack there of). As if this final example of their disobedience or carelessness was a reflection on my failure to teach them right and wrong. As though they’d finally seen through the façade of mom and saw me for the broken, angry person I am. Like I deserved it…

Ouch.

Now where would I get that idea?

Has my husband ever said something like that to me? Have my children? My family? My friends?

No.

What about the world?

Ah, there it is.

So no one has told me explicitly that I’m a failure, but somehow I’ve allowed the lies of the world to slither into my vision for my family. All the blogs/articles/Facebook posts that I’ve read over the last 6 years of parenthood have condensed into this idealistic vision for my family. Like the serpent in the garden telling Eve that, “God is wrong, this isn’t all there is, you can do more, be more, know more!”This vision, often unmet by my very real and often sinful offspring has bred discontent that I’ve buried. I know that I shouldn’t have these expectations and yet I also feel that I should be able to do better, be better and have better behaved/educated/skilled children.

All of this welled up from my heart in that instant of pain. It overwhelmed me like a dam breaking and I wasn’t ready. Honestly, I’m probably still not ready to face the things God has been trying to show me, but God’s ready.

Ready for me to learn that I am loved, even at my most unlovable moments. That when I do fail, His grace covers it and seeps into the brokenness of my relationships with my kids and my husband. God’s grace…

It’s not just for those visibly broken. It’s for me too. The one who looks like I have it all together when really I’m just a Duplo away from the dam breaking.

I am reminded that everyday is a battle, often with things we can’t see. As such I turn to Ephesians 6:10-18 for the Armor of God:

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith,with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

 

What about you? What voice do you choose to give authority in your life?

Be Anchored — March 23, 2016

Be Anchored

So much is happening this time of year it’s overwhelming. I recently told one of my friends that I felt like I was failing at life right now. You know the story. House is a wreck, the kids are constantly fighting and the baby is still waking up 3 times a night. You try to meal plan and then forget, you also forget about the load of clothes in the washer that have been there for a day (or 2?) already. By the time the husband comes home and the kids are in bed, all you can do is sit on the couch, in an almost stupor, and think about all the things you’d wanted to do that day.

SO… it’s been one of those weeks/months. I’ve been swinging back and forth from feeling like I’m on top of things to feeling completely overwhelmed.

Yesterday I brought a blanket outside for my 6 mo old to roll around on while her brothers romped through the backyard. They decided the blanket was much more interesting so they came and sat. After a bit we decided to roll a ball around and then it rolled off the blanket. When my 2-year-old ran off to get it, all of a sudden I just yelled, “Swim Isaac!” and instantly our blanket became a boat in an ocean and we spent the afternoon sailing around the world finding wild animals and weathering storms.

Our blanket "boat" and my 3 hardy sailors.
Our blanket “boat” and my 3 hardy sailors.

I don’t know why I yelled that…normally it takes a lot for me to stop thinking about the things that need doing and to just be with my kids. To spend those few minutes and spark their imagination in a way they hadn’t thought of yet. I normally can’t stand to just sit and play with my kids. I know that sounds terrible, but I also know several moms who are right there with me. BUT.

I realized that God was calling me, in that moment on our “boat”, to let go. Let go of my anxiety about the state of the house. Let go of my frustration about how much time I wasn’t getting with my husband during this Easter season. Let go of my feeling of inadequacy as a mom as my kids continue to bicker and yell.

God called me to release these struggles. To toss them overboard so that I might be anchored in who HE is.

Truth is, your struggles will either weigh you down until your drowning in overwhelm and despair, or they’ll anchor you in the provision and mercy and grace of our heavenly father. BUT only if you let them go first.

I am choosing to be anchored in God, who has shown me, over and over, His desire for me to be close to him. Be anchored in the God who, time and again, has provided for us (to the point even, that my house is stuffed with stuff!). Be anchored in the God who cares about my worries, no matter how trivial. Be anchored in the hope, mercy and grace he gives me as a wife and mother.

What will you choose? Will you be weighed down or will you be anchored?

 

So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls[…]

Hebrews 6:18-19 (emphasis mine)

What Mario Kart Taught Me About Facebook — February 9, 2016

What Mario Kart Taught Me About Facebook

Over the last several months I had this nagging feeling that I really wanted to get rid of my FB. I was tired of scrolling past all the “type ‘amen'” and “can we get 100 likes?” “show my kids/students how far pictures go on social media”. And yet despite the annoying amount of requests to play games that would waste even more time than scrolling endlessly through FB, I found myself defaulting to it. I had a spare moment? Wonder what _______ is doing. Feeding the baby? I wonder if anyone has commented on _______. Making dinner? Maybe I should post about what delicious concoction we’re feeding the minions tonight. It was infuriating to me that I couldn’t NOT look at FB for a day!

It totally reminds me of what Paul was talking about in Romans 7:15 & 19 (NLT)

I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.

I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.

I feel ya Paul.

My reservations about shutting it down can be linked solely to the communication factor available through FB. My family lives 700 miles away and FB was the easiest way to update them about things we were doing and how the kids were growing. But did everyone else on FB really need to know? Especially if they lived near us? I also am a small group leader for the middle school girls at our church and I used FB to keep up with their parents and them. Creating events and updating them about things going on in student ministry for that week/month. I participated in forums for our homeschool group allowing me to explore different options and catch “homeschool deals” that I wouldn’t otherwise know about (or would I?)… see how easy it is for me to justify it?

Something else radical I did that week was take away screens completely from my children. No tv/movies/wii. This is a bigger deal than you may think. My kids don’t sit all day in front of the screen by any means, they were limited to 1 movie and some Mario Kart for my oldest. BUT when that movie ended??? You’d have thought someone was dying. Time up for Mario Kart? I just punched you in the face apparently. There were nasty attitudes all day everyday (and not just the kids). So finally I’d had it. I wasn’t going to fight about how many movies/how much Mario Kart they were allowed. This mama ain’t negotiating NO MORE! I took a crib sheet and placed it over the TV, unplugged the dvd player and hid all the remotes

I’m so glad no one could see us that first day. SO MUCH CRYING. But I held firm and we made it through day one. Day two was just as bad, but they started to understand that I was serious. By day three they didn’t even ask! I was stunned! They were playing together without screaming at each other! They were figuring out things to do and…what’s that?! playing with your toys?! I started seeing my children think and interact in ways that I’d been longing for. Even outside our home I noticed a difference. We had to take the baby to the doctor, and they were content to play with the one toy they each brought. No whining. Because of this fast from TV I’ve been able to have more conversations with my 5-year old about behavioral issues and how God wants us to interact with others.

I don’t know where this break from social media and screen time will take us, and we definitely are cutting it out 100% (I mean some days it just has to happen) but so far I am LOVING the change in my family.

So how about you? Have you ever decided to take a break? Fast from technology? Did it make a difference?

Revamping My Time with God: Open Heart, Open Home — September 29, 2015

Revamping My Time with God: Open Heart, Open Home

So over the last month or so I’ve been noticing a real dryness in my spiritual life. I knew what I needed to be doing each day. I knew how I needed to act (or react) towards my children and husband. But  I just felt…dry. As a mom it’s hard for us to make time to invest in things outside of our children. So much of our time is given over to these little beings that we love so much. But can we truly love them if we’re not investing in a relationship with God? Sure, but will it be a picture of Christ-like love? Probably not. I can attest to that.

So I decided that I needed to revamp my study habits. I was mostly motivated by a podcast I started listening to during nap time/folding laundry. Inspired to Action is a blog/podcast just for moms! Kat does a wonderful job of hitting topics that we can all relate too and providing resources that will encourage and inspire you to action! She has one that talks about “Maximizing Your Morning”. Now, I just had a baby, so there’s only so much “maximizing my mornings” I’m doing right now other than nursing a baby 2-3 times a night, BUT I understand the motivation for doing this! I know the amount of stuff I can get done during a 30 minute or longer nap time, so what could I do with an hour in the morning when the littles haven’t disassembled half the house?

Kat tells you to focus on 3 things in the mornings. God. Plan. Move. So I’ve been trying to do this with at least reading my phone Bible during the 4 am nursing time. It’s been good to start something consistent. TODAY though B-dawg wasn’t feeling well and by some miracle ALL THREE of the kids napped at the same time! So I took this time to really dig in to a Bible study method that I’d been wanting to try. It’s promoted by Courtney Joseph of Women Living Well. She has a whole group called “Good Morning Girls” that you HAVE to check out! It’s simple and quick. I was a little weirded out by coloring in my Bible, but it’s actually kind of fun! Also, one chapter a day? Easy. So if you feel that you don’t have time for a in-depth study or you don’t want to continue to spend money on studies and devotionals that are going to sit on a shelf *cough cough* this is a great option for you! I especially love the SOAK method. This is what I learned from today’s reading.

S – Scripture

When she [Lydia] and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us. Acts 16:15

O – Observation

Lydia felt the need to provide for fellow believers in need. She offered her home, and most likely food, to men she’d just met out of the JOY of being saved! Maybe she felt it was the least she could do for the folks that had saved her and her entire household.

A – Application

We should be willing to open our homes if/when the opportunities arise, regardless of the “inconvenience” we may feel at having our space invaded.

K – Kneel in prayer

Dear Lord, help me to see the times of opening my home as an opportunity to love others and not as an inconvenience. Help me not to worry about the tidiness of my home to the exclusion of investing in the lives of others.

Lydia didn’t stop to consider the state of her home. Were the dishes washed? The floors swept? The guest room made ready? She only saw fellow believers in need and without hesitation offered her home.How many times have we passed on showing hospitality because our home was a veritable disaster zone. Let me be honest with you, with 2 boys and a newborn, my home is pretty much this way 6 out of 7 days a week. But this one verse out of the whole chapter has challenged me to make hospitality something to be sought and not avoided or resented.

So even with my just beginning to get back into reading (I’ll write another post later about why I feel reading printed text is better than on a screen) I feel that God is being faithful to show me truths revealed through out His word.

Your turn!

Do you have a morning routine? Do you get up before the littles? What have you read recently that spoke to or challenged you?

New Mom x 3 — September 28, 2015

New Mom x 3

Little sister is finally here! Well, she came 3 weeks ago, but I’m just now starting to feel “normal” again. She was born on Labor Day (insert Labor Day and labor joke here) and she came really fast. I started having contractions on Saturday morning, but nothing consistent so I wasn’t really sure what was happening. Then after we got the boys to bed Sunday night, they just took off! We left for the hospital after the sitters arrived and we jump-started the truck (…yeh we had to jump the vehicle we were trying to take to the hospital). Got there around 11:30 pm and she was here by 12:35am! She missed her actual due date by 35 minutes ya’ll!

I have been pleasantly surprised by the transition from 2 kids to 3. Granted right now all Little Sister does is eat, sleep and poop (oh my, the poop!).You know, baby stuff. The boys LOVE her and are huge helpers. Isaac especially has surprised me. He is the first to look for the baby if she’s not in the room, if she’s crying, or during a diaper change. He makes sure she has everything that she needs and will give her pats and say “it’s oday disder” (It’s okay sister). SO CUTE! I imagine that it will all change once Sister becomes a little more active, but all things considered we have been blessed with an easy transition.

I do have to admit that having a newborn again has been weird. She’s a pretty good sleeper and gives me about 3-4 hours at a time.

Homeschooling-So far I’ve learned… — September 3, 2015

Homeschooling-So far I’ve learned…

Last week we officially started our 4.5 year old on a homeschool program called “Classical Conversations“.
It has really been amazing to see what he’s learned in just 2 weeks! BUT it also brings out my *cough* not so nice mom *cough* side.

Maybe it’s because I’m 10 months pregnant (yeh we’ll go with that), but most likely it’s because I have, yet again, started my day by reading through FB, instagram, etc. instead of doing something worthwhile. You know, like getting up earlier than the ya-hoos and reading the Bible/praying? But I think that’s the struggle for any and every mom amiright?

So far I’ve learned:

  1. My child understands more than I think he does
  2. I understand way LESS than I thought I did
  3. I thought I was patient
  4. Lots of prayer…

CC is also a great program because they provide a community that you can  lean on! The groups meet once a week and the kids go to little “classes” and a tutor (because YOU are your child’s teacher) go over the memory work for the week. The students also give presentations every week. Yes, even my 4.5 year old does a presentation every week! It’s amazing! If you’ve ever thought about homeschooling but think you’re not patient enough, not educated enough, insert other reason here, I’d tell you to reconsider. It’s a good growth opportunity for you and your children. I don’t know your situation, but I do know that if God has placed homeschooling on your heart/mind, then you can bet that He will equip you to do it!

B-Dawg's First Community Day
B-Dawg’s First Community Day
The tri-fold isn't up on the wall anymore. We fold it and put it away when we're not doing school time.
The tri-fold isn’t up on the wall anymore. We fold it and put it away when we’re not doing school time.
Little Sister — August 19, 2015

Little Sister

Well I’m at 37.5 weeks with who knows how much longer left! I’ve never had babies early so I’m not betting on little sister coming early either. Benjamin was 42 weeks and Isaac was 41! It’s been so fun decorating and getting ready for little Rosalee! I’m not a huge fan of pink so I wanted her room to have more purples and teals than pink. Obviously you can’t have a girl without getting some pink, but I’m happy with the amount that made its way in.

See that peacock painting on the wall with the sunset? One of my husband’s youth students painted that for the baby! Isn’t she phenomenal? I wish I were that gifted at 16! I recovered the glider because I spilled half a gallon of paint on it while painting the room, oops. But I’m not a very good sewer so I cheated. There’s this amazing product called ” ” that you can use to iron/fuse fabric together! It’s amazing and took hardly anytime to get down!

Benjamin is SO excited for his little sister, but Isaac…well let’s just say he finally is giving my belly some love instead of smacking it. It’s progress so I’ll take it.

I can’t believe that in just a few days/weeks we’ll be a family of 5 and have a GIRL! Please pray for a smooth labor/delivery. I don’t have small babies ( 9 lbs 5 oz and 8 lbs 8.5 oz) and have had labors on either end of the spectrum. So who knows what #3 will be like?

 

P.S. Having your husband do your maternity shoot really is the way to go 😉

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Nesting — June 24, 2015

Nesting

So our baby girl is making her arrival in about 11 weeks! WOW! I say about because neither of our boys came on time (Benji was 15 days late and Isaac was 7 days late). So I’m not expecting her to come on time either. We’re due September 6th and were SO excited to find out that we’ll be having a girl, but MAN! All the little differences of having a girl vs. a boy! We have been overwhelmed with friends’ and family’s generosity already and I can’t imagine what it will be like after she arrives!

With the realization that I have no idea what to do with a girl after having 2 boys, I quickly made my way to Pinterest to find ideas. I wanted something that was girly, but not too girly. As the youngest of 5, I like to think I have a pretty good balance of girly and tomboy and I’d like our daughter to as well. I was delighted when I found girl-nursery ideas that weren’t all PINK. Nothing against pink, but purple is my favorite! I combed through hundreds of pins of the next few weeks and finally settled on some that I figured I could actually do. I am NOT a crafty person y’all, so attempt anything is an accomplishment.

Trying for a girl? — January 16, 2015

Trying for a girl?

So a few weeks ago I shared this photo with friends and family…

Buddah and B-Dawg have a family announcement!
Buddah and B-Dawg have a family announcement!

Since then I’ve gotten the typical “mom of 2 boys” questions and comments.

  • So trying for your girl huh?
  • You better have a girl this time!
  • If you have another boy…
  • Were you trying or did it just happen
  • I’ll be thinking pink for you!
  • What if it’s another boy?

Now all these folks are lovely and don’t have any intention of being rude. I suppose it makes sense for them to assume I want a girl after having 2 boys. I usually respond something along the lines of, “I’m not really sure I’d know what to do with a girl after having 2 boys!” or “Well if it’s another boy, we won’t have to buy anything!”

Sometimes the comments and questions irritate me but I’m not really offended because I know that they’re excited for us! They’re sharing in our joy. I know that whatever little bean ends up being, all will love him/her endlessly.

We weren’t trying for girl. J and I would like a large family. Not Duggar large, ok, large for the average American. Ideally we’ll have 4 kids of our own and once they’re a bit older we’d love to adopt. So no, we weren’t trying for a girl, we were trying for baby #3. And guess what? God is good!