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motherhood

Living Intently Through Grace-Filled Motherhood

Grace-filled motherhood can be hard to live. But it's absolutely attainable. Learn how.

Grace-filled motherhood—it’s something I’ve struggled with over the last few years. I’m quick to give others grace, and to tell others to give themselves grace. But myself? Yeah, no. That’s hard.

When we’re young adults without kids, we think we know everything there is to know about raising children. It’s partially because we still very much remember being kids ourselves. I’d never be that type of parent, we tell ourselves. And then some days our mother flows right out of us and we get slapped upside the head with the wet noodle of reality. But if you’re anything like me, you think back to the times when your parents were right, and you were wrong. And to the times when you were right, and your parents were wrong.

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Taking a Vacation When You Homestead

Taking a vacation when you homestead—it’s almost taboo to say that, isn’t it? You feel a little dirty for saying “vacation” when you’re a homesteader. It might stem from the fact that you just have so much to do that you can’t stand the thought of leaving. Or it could stem from the stigma that people always say “you can’t homestead and take a vacation”. Lies, total lies.

Recently we took the first vacation we’ve taken in over five years, and it was glorious. We stayed in a friend’s beach house on Hatteras Island. We enjoyed time with friends and family, ate well, and laughed even more. It was the best vacation we’ve ever taken. Period. But how did we take a vacation and still run the homestead? Let me show you exactly that.

Hiring A Trusted Source for Vacation

Before you leave on vacation, here are some systems you need to have in place on the homestead before you hand it over to someone else to take care of.

  • Make Sure You Hire a Trusted Caretaker— We did this by using one of our neighbors to take care of the gardens and seeds, and my in-laws to take care of the animals. Splitting the chores between them all really helped carry the load fairly easily. One person wasn’t doing all the work, making chores go by quicker. We paid them with lots of love, eggs, and when summer comes, some vegetables! Most people you know personally are eager to help out because they want to experience the homesteading lifestyle, or because they have their own homesteads!
  • Training and Organization is Essential— What happens if your livestock get out? What happens if something happens to the feed bins and they need to run and get more feed? If they don’t already know your sources and resources, they should. Leave a binder with information on hand, or bring them to your house a couple of times before you leave to train them on the “what-if” scenarios. Also, if you have dairy animals, make sure your caretaker knows how to efficiently do their job. Training is a must for that situation.

Making Sure Your Property is Secure and Prepared

Not only is hiring a trusted caretaker essential, but making sure your property is secure and stocked up is key. This will help ease the process along for your caretaker while they are there.

  • Make Sure Your Fencing is Secure— we thought we did this before we left, but apparently we were wrong. We lost a few chickens while we were gone, but nothing that can’t be replaced. Make sure your fencing is working well before you leave. It’s no one elses responsibility to fix that while you’re gone!
  • Have Extra Feed and Medical Supplies On-hand— because you never know what could happen. If you make your own chicken feed, make sure that you’ve made enough of it in advance.
  • Emergency Contacts— If you’re not hiring someone that knows your homestead well, you’ll probably need to leave a list of emergency contacts. If you have large livestock, your vet will be top priority on that list. After that, your contact information and others.
  • Don’t Take a Vacation During Calving Season— or breed any livestock that are due to have babies while you’re gone.

 

We had an amazing time on vacation, and it’s so important to make that time to get away with your family. Check out this week’s video to learn more about how we were able to take a successful vacation, where we went, what we did, how it affected us, and for updates about what’s happening around the homestead!

 

She Intimidates Me…

 

It was probably the fourth time in the last year that I’ve heard the phrase—by four different women. Man, what did I do to deserve this? Of course, we could laugh it off now, but as she told me how much I use to intimidate her, I’ll admit, I felt a bit of offense. Me? Intimidating?

There’s always that chance to ask her why. Why did she think I was so intimidating? Why did she feel she couldn’t approach me and stood back in a distance silently judging me? Now, she’s loving all of this girl right here but, not always.

You just seem like you have it all together. 

You’re so confident.

You know who you are in Christ, and that’s intimidating for a woman like me.

I’ve heard it all. I get it often…

Confidence isn’t something that is easily understood. On one hand you’re a leader, someone people respect and look up to. Someone that people can count on. On the other hand, you’re judged…called obscene words that normally start with a giant “B”, and you’re inapproachable.

There’s a fine line between confidence, arrogance, and insecurity.

But, if we’re being honest, I don’t have it all together…at all.

If we’re being honest, this girl you think I am, she intimidates me too.

I’m messy.

I have 100 things that have to get done and I often find that I choose the things that bring me joy or feelings of accomplishments first.

I hate my body—my chin, my arms, my mom stomach, my jiggles everywhere.

I typed in “mom” stomach to make myself feel better, realizing that it’s just an excuse I use.

I’m insecure. I’m terrified people won’t like me when I meet them. First impressions are everything, right?

I care a little too much about what people think about me, and I’m one of the  biggest introverts that you’ll ever meet, and yet, I won’t seem much like one.

I can be mean, but I can be the kindest person you’ll ever meet.

I can be selfish, immature, and rude.

But I can be loving, a saving grace, and eloquent.

I can be bad arse but I’m scared to death.

And I miss the girl I use to be. But, that girl has come a long way in life. A long, long way.

A man once told me, when I was young and naive, that I wasn’t like “all the other girls”. That I was cool. That I was like “one of the guys”. I smirked because, back then, it seemed rare. But the reality is that I was exactly like every other girl.

I was imperfect. Imperfectly beautiful.

There’s nothing quite like embracing imperfection.

There’s nothing quite like owning it.

There’s nothing quite as satisfying as knowing absolutely nothing about anything and yet determined to know anything about everything.

And this is her…this is me…

I’m confident because I’ve been less than confident.

I’m confident because I’ve been walked all over, taken advantage of, and whispered sweet nothings to, with nothing but heartache in return.

I’m confident because I know what I want in life, who I want in life, and how I want life to be. Because I’ve had the rest…the other…the settled for.

I’m confident because not a single person in this world is going to be able to tell you all the things you need to hear that you are…not until you believe them yourself. 

I’m confident because I’m insecure. I’m shaking on the inside but I can’t dare let it show on the outside because, well, I know how that turns out…and it goes absolutely no where.

I’m confident…but I am exactly like every other woman out there….

I’m vulnerable, insecure, contagiously zealous, unknowingly jealous, comparative, and sassy.

But I am kind, I am quiet, and I am undoubtedly in love with the only Being in the entire universe who knows the depths of my heart, the good and the ugly, and what my confidence really is—Jesus.

If not for Him, and knowing my worth within His hands of warmth and love, I’d wear my insecurities on my sleeve, and my heart would certainly be one of stone.

I’m a hard worker, and I don’t complain about it. You don’t get anywhere in life by complaining about your chores, your aches, your drama, or your reluctance. I’ve learned that the hard way . . . I’ve learned it early in life.

This woman you think I am…she scares me. This is so true.

The confident woman that I actually am?…she wants to love you, laugh with you, be goofy with you.

She wants the fun and chaos, but she wants the depth of meaningful conversations.

She hates small talk and no, it doesn’t mean she knows more than you—it simply means she feels deeply, thinks widely, and her horizons are limitless.

This woman, she is confident. But never, ever, forget that she is exactly like you. When you see other women like her, don’t fight her. Relate to her. Love on her. Be proud of her.

She’s just a woman trying to make it in a sea of people, with little hands that tug on her shirt, dirt under her fingernails, and the world, literally, at her fingertips. Sometimes she just shows less of her insecurities and imperfections because she knows that if she shows it, then she’ll believe it.

She intimidates me…she intimidates you…and it’s only because we wish we were exactly like her…the thought of her.

The reality, however, is that we are exactly her…at exactly the right time…in exactly the right space. And the rest of the time, when we’re a mess of runny mascara, broken hearts, lost battles, and spilled sippy cup chaos…in the middle of imperfection… Well, that’s where my sweet Jesus takes the front seat, and whispers softly, “you are the daughter of a King…you are imperfectly beautiful”

Embrace it, sweet girl. And next time, when you see her—that friend, that co-worker, that blogger—don’t judge her….smile at her. Because after the confidence, she’s a puddle of mush just waiting for the next saving grace to scoop her up and love her to pieces. She’s waiting for the reminder that she’s just like everyone else…she’s exactly like you…and you are exactly like her.

Womanhood is tricky, but I promise, womanhood takes a village . . .

 

The Task of Raising Warrior Sons

I can remember when I was pregnant, vividly remember. I remember praying every single night that my child would have a kind and gentle and sweet spirit. I can remember when he was two, and he would just go along with whatever his cousins would tell him to do. I can remember when he was four, and he had such a gentle, quiet spirit that would break so easily over the littlest of things. He was so loving, so kind, so gentle.
This year, he turned seven. Over the past two years, there has been a shift inside of him like never before. We’ve dealt with it for some time now, but this year was tougher. That gentle spirit became a warrior lashing out at everything. It became a fighter. And here I was, stressed to the max on trying to learn how to deal with it. I wanted to conform him back into this tiny box he was in before. The kindness, the quiet little voice that went along with everything. The little boy who loved to cuddle with mom. The little boy who was so quiet and peaceful no matter what.
Yeah, no, not happening. I gave up. I stressed out. I gave up and I didn’t want to deal with the attitude anymore. Not long ago, I prayed my heart out again. I prayed for guidance and understanding. I prayed for strength to get through one more day of attitude from this strong willed child. And do you know what happened? I realized that maybe my job wasn’t to control him and conform him into who I wanted him to be, but to nurture, train, and encourage who God wants him to be. 

Several months back, a friend of mine was mentioning how her little boy has this warrior spirit about him. He’s just like a bull in a china cabinet, head strong, and ruff and tough. The concept of “warrior” never really struck me as intriguing, but as I listened to her talk, she said something that changed my entire perspective, she said, “I know he’s tough to parent, but he has a warrior spirit that I don’t want to break, because I know he’ll need it one day.”

It’s along the same lines of things I’ve told my mom for the past year or so. Raising a strong willed child (not a brat, just a strong willed younger child), is incredibly hard, but at the same time, you know that they were born leaders with a leadership mentality. The difficulty is making them understand that they cannot lead unless they learn how to follow and take direction. How else will they understand how to do things if they don’t learn and listen? But, that’s like trying to herd cats—trying to get them to understand what you’re trying to explain to them—and they think you’re speaking a third world language that hasn’t yet been discovered by English speaking people.

I was in the store this past Summer, and my son wanted to argue with me about something that I can’t even remember now. I rolled my eyes at him and simply stopped talking, because I refuse to argue with a child. That has been something that I’ve set a standard of from day one. I will not argue with you, you either do it, or you don’t, and you suffer the consequence when we get home or when company leaves our home. Plain and simple.

Anyhow, he continued to talk, and talk, and talk….explaining to me why he was right and I was wrong. I continued to ignore him. He wasn’t doing it in a condescending way, he just knew he was right, even though he wasn’t completely right.

Suddenly, I felt a hand on my shoulder.

Listen, people, I get you’re trying to be nice but I will ninja chop you if you don’t give me some warning, just saying.

Let’s continue….

So I felt this hand on my shoulder and I quickly turned around, knowing that my, then, six year old wasn’t tall enough or had hands big enough for it to be him. There was an older lady standing there smiling, she must have been in her 70s or 80s, but she was young at heart, you could tell. I had walked right past her in my frustration and didn’t even realize there was someone else in the aisle with us. I was so frustrated with my child.

I put on my Christian-like attitude and smiled and said, “oh hello! Do you need help with something?” Her smile got even bigger and she said, “no, but you do.”

You could have bought me for a penny. I was embarrassed and angry and humiliated all at one time. I was embarrassed because someone was confronting me in public—was I a bad parent? I was angry because my kid was acting like a you know what—she must be thinking he’s a brat and wants to school me in parenting. And I was humiliated because I wanted to give this old lady a piece of my mind, and that’s just not something anybody wants to say about a 70 year old grandma. How rude.

Again, with the smile. I’m not sure she ever stopped smiling, but I had to look away from her 100 times in that split second to collect a thought, and every time I looked back at her, she was steadfast in that smile.

I raised my eyebrows and said, “oh?” She patted my shoulder and said something that began changing my outlook on this strong willed child that stood beside me. Maybe God knew I needed her, in fact, I’m sure He did. She proceeded to look over at my son and then back at me saying [and I paraphrase]….., you know, I raised a boy just like him, and it doesn’t seem like it was long ago. That boy would argue with me about everything. I’d put him on restriction and tell him he was disrespectful, and he’d go outside for the rest of the day just so I could find some peace and quiet to get my housework done. Do you like to go outside boy?

Junior smiled and very gently shook his head yes and said “yes ma’am”—more likely out of amazement that this woman was talking to him for no reason, and also the fact that she had a presence that simply commanded respect. I chuckled because she referred to him as boy, which is such an older term when used in that context. She smiled again and looked me in the eye, finishing her thought….

Good! Anyway, that’s beside the point. As she threw up her hands and shrugged. The point of me interrupting your grocery trip was to tell you something I feel like one mother can say to another, and it should be done more often in today’s ultra-sensitive world. I never had a daughter, just a son. What a trying first 10 years that was. But it gets easier. Your son has a character trait that is a gift, I know, because I raised one just like him. I’ve been watching you the entire way down this aisle. It’s normal, though frustrating. But it gets easier when you realize that his character will destine him for great things. Do you want to know where my boy is now?

We shook our heads, now intrigued by her story…we had no clue where this “boy” was now, but we wanted to know.

He’s a missionary in the middle east, and has been for over 20 years, because He felt God calling him to do something greater. When his father and I questioned his decision to up-root his family and take them into one of the most dangerous areas in the world, he wasn’t having any of it. I was reminded of the memories of when he was so set in his ways as a young boy, that no one could change his mind. And I knew that he was given that spirit for such a time as this. He’s changed so many lives, and we would have talked him out of it. You remember the story of Esther? For such a time as this, and times change so much, and so do our children and the way they change the world. 

 

I think my heart stopped. I know my brain stopped working, because I just looked at her dumbfounded. She must have thought I was insane. Here this woman had poured her heart out to me and all I could do was stand there with my mouth wide open.

In a brief moment I felt sorry for her, and how she must worry about her child and grandchildren being in such a hateful region of that continent. How devastating it must be to know their likelihood of being killed for being Christians is of greater likelihood than some of the soldiers protecting certain cities over there.

The next moment I thought, wow, what a woman of faith, to tell a story like that not even knowing if I were a Christian or not.

I didn’t know what to say. So I just said, wow, that’s incredible. She shook her head in pride with agreement, and gently patted my son on the back saying, you’re raising a fine young man. You may not realize it yet, though I’m sure you do, but with a little polishing up, and a lot of patience, he’s going to be a gem…and a warrior….I just know it.

There was that word again. Warrior….

And just like that, she was off on her way down the baking aisle, putting flour into her basket. And I just stood there looking into my basket as if there were a bottomless pit.

We were quiet the rest of the trip through the store and on the way home. I don’t know why he was quiet, but he just was. It was as if we had been in the presence of greatness, or as if a parent had scolded us both, but in a good way. In some way, I like to think that she spoke life into him without him even realizing it. That she called out of him what she saw, not what his mom saw, the same way God calls us who we are, before we are.

We got home and he helped me unload the groceries just like he always does—without me asking or begging him to. And as I watched him go unlock the front door and take groceries inside, I turned my head to the side in disbelief of what my focus had been on all morning before our chat in the grocery store.

My focus wasn’t on my child’s needs. It wasn’t on why he was acting the way he was or why he said the things he said. My focus was on getting out of the house on time, running 100 mph through the grocery store so that we could get back in time for me to make a phone call to an important client, and then good grief, the house needed cleaning too. My focus on how I felt, how he was treating me, how I felt disrespected and angry. Without reminding myself that I’m the parent—a child has no control over how I feel. I do. I’m in control of that. I’m the teacher, he’s the student.

And here he was, taking groceries into the house without me ever asking him, because he knew that mom had a lot on her plate that day, and because he’d been trained to do so.

Who was being the butt head now….

More recently, I made a note to myself to pay attention to the things he does regularly that I might not be aware of. Like cleaning up the new bathroom sink when he’s made a muddy mess from being outside. Or by making himself lunch. Or by waking up, pulling his clothes on, and feeding the animals once the sun comes up. I studied him through out the day, paying attention to the way he would interact with his friends next door, or just playing with his imagination.

Do you know what I discovered?

I discovered that he has Christ like morals beyond what I realized. Of course he has his failing moments, everyone does. But I focused on those a whole lot more than the others.

I discovered that he is independent and prideful, but willing to take the back seat for those younger than him, or the least of these.

I discovered that he sticks up for his friends that are getting picked on by the bigger kids, and he doesn’t take no for an answer, even if the bigger kids are bigger than him. He likes the think that he could take them on if he had to. And who am I to say he couldn’t….

I discovered that he’s gentle and mindful of smaller children who aren’t necessarily paying attention to what’s around them that could be harmful. On multiple occasions he has spared them from getting hurt or from getting into trouble.

I discovered he’s a no drama kid, and he can’t handle it well. And that’s ok.

I discovered that he gets angry when he can’t get things to work the way he wants them to, but he’ll sit there and figure it out until it starts working.

I discovered that he loves to fix things.

I discovered that he doesn’t give up. Ever.

I discovered that he does things without being asked to, yet I focus on the things I’ve asked him to do that he doesn’t do.

I discovered that I’ve raised a mighty fine child. And while he might be rough around the edges, we have another 11 years with him before he leaves this house. Maybe more. His training doesn’t end any time soon. I’d say for 7 years of life, he’s doing a pretty good job.

But even more so, I discovered a whole lot about myself as a mom. We beat ourselves up and tear ourselves down, when if we just quieted the world around us, and looked at our kids rather than our computers and cell phones, we might see just how great they are.

He goes through phases, all kids do. They reach ages and hormone levels where they test waters, where they see what their limits are with mom and dad, and where they can grow and excel.

Our society wants all of our children to act the same. Sit down, shut up, do what you’re told, and then,  you’re labeled the perfect child. But what a boring world we would live in if all children were the same, and ultimately, grow up to be adults that are the same.

We are often so concerned about having the perfect child, that we forget that we are not the perfect parent. What an absurd expectation, to put such a limitation on a human being. I don’t even dare put it on myself.

We are concerned with how people see our children, what people think about our children, and what people think about us. When we should be more concerned with training out children, seeing their flaws, and teaching them how to be contributing individuals to society. Yet, we can’t forget that sometimes, we’re raising warriors. Leaders. Future men that will raise up in a time of need and they will not waver in their faith or morals or convictions when the time comes. Even daughter warriors, for that matter.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been doing an experiment on my child, and I am intrigued by the outcome of it. When his time isn’t being filled with useless information, like video games and electronics, his focus is better.

When my focus is on him—when I am not short tempered and annoyed with having to stop and be bothered with him—he excels. When I am not distracted by “better things” or “more important things” — his attitude is to a minimum, and though he’s still head strong. He might be strong willed still, but the level of respect is so much higher.

When my focus is on things that are happening around us, or in my life, or with work, or with an annoyance with someone else—he becomes irritated, equally as annoyed, frustrated, and angered.

Why is that?

It’s because in life, I am a wife, then a mom, then everything else. When my prioritizes are disorganized, there is chaos. As a wife and mom, I set the tone. I cannot simply blame my child for his attitude. I must take some form of responsibility as well. After all, I’m the teacher, he’s the student.

“Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her” Proverbs 31:25-28

 

As I prioritize motherhood and life, I have noticed it takes me away from things that fill my own life with annoyance and anger. Or things that are simply time fillers, not priorities. And as I pour into my son more, the outcome is greater. He’s still head strong. He’s still a warrior soul. But who am I to tame that?

There’s a difference in allowing your child to be disrespectful, allowing your child to find their voice, and allowing your child to be undisciplined. We are finding a happy medium through it all.

But it begins with understanding that you can not approach it from a standpoint of “I’m the parent and you’re the child and I control you.” Because strong willed children will simply become enraged and frustrated. We are discovering that it comes from a standpoint of, “let me teach you, and then, you can teach me”. Or by expressing an earnest empathy to understanding their frustration, and finding a better way.

They say the best way to learn is to teach. And we are finding this incredibly true for ourselves and our own child. But as we embrace the task of training a child that has a big character, we remember this scripture…

“Children are a heritage from the Lord,
offspring a reward from him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
are children born in one’s youth.”
Psalm 127:3-4
 
We are learning as we teach. We don’t know it all, but my goodness, are we learning.
As you evaluate your priorities as a parent, and evaluate your child’s character, remember this, more than anything…
it gets easier.
 
Maybe not right away. But I promise, as you begin to work on your own heart, and remember that you are training a child, and not to take things personally, you’ll realize there is a greater potential than you realized in this little soul who is simply harboring a giant warrior inside, that one day, may just be the change this world needs.

Hormone Imbalance, Essential Oils, & the PCOS Elephant in the Room

When I was trying to get pregnant with our son, I was part of an incredible online forum of women who were on the trying to conceive journey as well. You could say that it was really my first experience in interacting with other like minded women online…the basis of a community. A real online community.

I can remember reading through some of their posts though, and even some of my dearest friends on there would often post about hormone imbalances. I was a healthy early 20’s year old woman though, I couldn’t let my mind wander to that.

I’ve always said, even right after I had Junior, that he was my miracle child. Some how, I just knew, he might be my one and only. But I refused to speak it, I refused to think about it. I refused to think about the possibility of my body being ailed by a condition such as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).

Fast forwarding 7 years—here I am. I have a 7 year old little boy, healthy as could be. But I’ve also had a miscarriage, and I’ve fought infertility for the past 5 years. But again, I refused to let my mind go to PCOS.

As most know, my journey into herbs, holistic health care, and essential oils (EOs) was really prompted by my son’s early childhood asthma. Thank the Lord, he has outgrown it, and I’m sure our lifestyle changes helped. But more recently, I’m turning to them for my own health.

There is something to be said about living a mostly healthy lifestyle, and yet, being ill. Why does that happen? How does it happen? A few months back, I noticed an over abundant amount of facial hair on my chin and upper neck. Maybe you’ve noticed it if you’ve been around me. Maybe you haven’t. I hide it pretty well (by waxing etc.) when we go out somewhere or plan on seeing someone. But sometimes, it just pops up before I have a chance. We joke that I can grow a 5 o’clock shadow quicker than my husband, but in all reality, it’s incredibly humiliating and discouraging as a woman.

This new discovery (along with many other new symptoms) instantly triggered my encyclopedia of brain knowledge and I quickly turned my attention to the possibility of thyroid and hormone imbalance. Because, you know, I didn’t really want to consider the elephant in the room.

While thyroid issues can cause infertility and unwanted hair, the kind of symptoms I was having didn’t seem to completely match up with all of the thyroid symptoms that a person would have. Either way, I knew that my estrogen and progesterone levels needed to be leveled out, and so I researched my options and opted for EOs this time. Clary Sage and Thyme, to be exact. Clary Sage is an incredible EO for balancing out estrogen, and Thyme may help level out progesterone.

While they helped, it wasn’t enough. I knew it wasn’t enough. I knew I was missing a key component, I knew I had some unwanted over abundance of male hormone in my system. Its been causing hormonal outbursts, which is unlike me. I am not a hormonal person, generally speaking. I have always been pretty level headed and easy going. Something is going on and I need to figure it out.

So, I sat down, I opened my books, and I opened the web browser, and every. single. symptom. led me to PCOS. Every single one. I have every single symptom, to every single degree. It is the one and only medical condition that my symptoms line up with—infertility, Hirsutism syndrome (excessive hair growth caused by excessive androgens), irregular periods (cycles longer than 35 days, or none in 4 month intervals), polycystic ovaries (I’ve had ovarian cysts my entire life), weight gain or issues losing weight in the waist, darkening of skin (specifically under the breasts and along neck creases), and more.

PCOS is caused by high levels of androgens—male hormones—or by insulin resistance. Or both. Either way, when you have PCOS, it heightens your chances of heart disease, heart attack, endometrial cancer, sleep apnea, high blood pressure and cholesterol, depression and anxiety, and type 2 diabetes—either as you age, or imminently.

Talk about an elephant in the room.

I have prided myself, so many times, on my good health now that we live healthier lifestyles. And, certainly, I am trying to lose weight—that’s still a big issue, I know. I’m a work in progress.

There is something to be said about self diagnosis, though. To be clear, I’ve not been professional diagnosed with PCOS. I most certainly should go to the doctor, but if you know me, you know I will most likely try everything in my power to fix it before turning to alternative medicine. That’s right, I’m calling it that, because herbalism was the original medicine, not the other way around.

So, the Clary Sage and Thyme. It’s helping, and it will continue to help. As with most herbs and holistic remedies, sometimes you can’t tell it’s helping until you stop using it. That has been the case with Clary Sage and Thyme. I’ve felt bad for so long, that I have forgotten what feeling good feels like…until I’m feeling bad again.

While these two are helping, I’m still going to need to put a few more things in my arsenal. So, here’s what I’m going to try.

Essential Oils for Balancing Hormones

By placing 20 drops of each of these into a roller bottle, and then filling the roller bottle the remainder of the way up with a carrier oil, you’ll create your own unique PCOS blend. Roll the oil on the areas of your stomach where your reproductive system is, especially where your ovaries are located, or in the general area. Do this daily.

Clary Sage
In a study published in the Journal of Phytotherapy Research in 2014, Clary Sage was proven to have anti-depressant effects on women in menopause with hormonal imbalance. Clary Sage oil had the ability to reduce cortisol levels by 36% and improved thyroid hormone levels (TSH). Clary Sage’s biggest ability is to help level out the female hormones, whether they are in excess or decline.

Thyme
Many women deal with low progesterone levels. Thyme has the ability to help even those levels out. Low progesterone levels have been linked to infertility, PCOS, depression, anxiety, and overall imbalanced hormones.

Geranium
Geranium in and of itself is a stimulant of the adrenal cortex. This allows your body to de-stress and release the proper amount of hormones into your system. This is extremely important, as depression and stress in general can cause hormone imbalance.

Sweet Fennel
Sweet Fennel also helps balance hormones and the menstural cycle by reducing hormone fluctuations.

Sandalwood
While we like to talk about estrogen and hormone imbalance, let’s not forget about testosterone and androgens. Sandalwood helps balance out these male hormones in the body. Which is really important for someone with PCOS, most likely caused by a high level of male hormone.

Cinnamon
Cinnomon sounds like a really weird option for PCOS and hormone balance, and in fact, it doesn’t balance hormones at all. However, don’t forget that one of the issues with PCOS is insulin resistance. Cinnamon helps with that, allowing your body to level out blood sugars naturally.

Ultimately, diet, health, and exercise are all important aspects of healing PCOS as well. There are many herbs that can help with PCOS, but I plan to finish this journey of EOs first, and then if necessary, add herbs. And then, if all of that fails, I suppose it will be time to take that next leap into modern medicine.

However, I will say that in the small amount of time that I’ve been using the Clary Sage and Thyme, my body feels a difference. A big difference. And I have no doubt that adding these other oils will increase that feel good as well!

If you are interested in joining my essential oils family, and learning more about holistic remedies in general, please feel free to reach out to me! Or, visit my website here. You can also join my online Facebook Group here.

 

The Grief of Infertility

What you're about to read are raw emotions from a night of pain, grief, tears, and heartache. These are some of the emotions that a woman struggling with infertility goes through. These are the thoughts she thinks. This is the grief she knows regularly. How do know? Because that woman, is me...

What you’re about to read are raw emotions from a night of pain, grief, tears, and heartache. These are some of the emotions that a woman struggling with infertility goes through. These are the thoughts she thinks. This is the grief she knows regularly. How do I know?

Because that woman, is me…

It’s  a constant grief. It doesn’t matter if it’s your first child, or your 5th child. It’s not something where you just wake up one morning and “get over it”. You have good days and bad days. And when the good days start outweighing the bad, someone suddenly announces a pregnancy, normally one they didn’t even want. Or a distant friend posts her new born baby photos on your Facebook newsfeed.

You get your hopes up when you’re certain you’re expecting. That rare time once or twice a year. You get to a point where you’re finally comfortable to share that hope with close friends and relatives…..three weeks late…five weeks late…and then, the very next day after you’ve told them,  you start your period, or worse, have a miscarriage.

You bare your soul and your hope to others, but they don’t get it. You bare your hope and soul, only to have it ripped to shreds in front of you and tossed in a coffin full of heartache and death. It will be buried in whispers of “let’s not say anything except ‘sorry'”, and the dirt shovels in…scoop by scoop. Good bye, hopes. Good bye, what could have been. Goodbye baby that I never got to meet. Good bye fingers that I never got to count, or see, or kiss.
You are raw. You become hardened. You become numb. And not a single person can or ever will understand it unless they’ve gone through it. Never.
It’s one of the loneliest feelings in the world. They will say “it’s just not God’s will”, and yet in the same breath they will quote  the scripture of the barren woman and the scripture where we are commanded to bare fruit and multiply. You think maybe God thinks you don’t deserve another child, or a child in general. You think that you’ve done something to get on His naughty list. You blame yourself, you blame your husband, you blame GMOs and the weather. You might even blame the President.
You attempt to be funny and joke, because you need something to hide the heartache and pain. If others are laughing, you can laugh too.
You make remarks like, “yeah I really don’t want anymore kids”, or, “well, God will give one at the right time.” But you know you don’t believe in either of those statements, and you question why you said them as they prance out of your mouth. But you just need something to hide the raw emotion that you know could wake up at any moment and have you in tears for absolutely no reason. Then you’d really look like a cooky crazy woman.
You’re trapped…
There is no getting away from it.
The only way to get away from it is to have a baby.
But you can’t have a baby.
…and reality sinks in once again.
After sitting in silence for awhile, you feel the big tears. The tears that mean the crying will be ending soon. You can read through them, write through them, but somehow you want them to linger a little longer. You feel the warmth, not the tears, as they trickle down your cheeks and rest in the crease of your mouth. Your rawness allows you to feel something…anything…
But then dishes need washing. Clothes need folding. Work needs to get done. Someone needs something. So you wipe your less than lady like snotty nose. You press firmly on your eyes with the tips of your fingers to stop the tears. You dab away the wetness on your face. And you stand up, take a deep breath, shake your hands, and you regress everything you just let out…and go about your day.
It gets easier. You’ll forget about it for a few months, a few weeks. Until you have a child dedication service at church, and you have to go to the bathroom because you can’t hold back tears. Or you’ll be singing worship songs one Sunday morning, and the baby in front of you leans over its mamas shoulder and smiles at you. Oh boy, here come the water works again.
There’s no notice. There’s no method to the madness. When it wants to take hold of you, it will. It won’t ask for permission. It won’t ask if you’re ready for another episode of “when me”. It won’t ask you how you want it—heartache, extra heartache, or burnt crispy like the crispy fried KFC Colonel sitting on the beach.

No one sees and hears heartache like the walls of your shower. You can ugly cry in there. You can cry and your husband won’t see. Your face will be wet and you can say “it’s just water” or “I got shampoo in my eyes”. He’ll go about his business and never know. You can whisper all of your hurt to those shower walls. All of your anger. All of your frustration. But you only have about 5-8 minutes to get it all out. Wipe that water off your face, girl, it’s time to put your pretty face on.

You fill time. You buy baby things for other people and wish you were buying it for your own new baby. You smile at baby showers and look for the soonest excuse to dart out of there. But it’s not because you’re not happy for the expecting mother. In fact, you’re so over joyed that you could burst. And that is exactly when the grief comes. And you know it’s coming. You’ll either block it out and lie to yourself, “I really don’t want kids/more kids”, or you’ll feel tears welling up while Aunt May is talking about how she used to use cloth diapers back in her day and how the new mother-to-be should be using cloth diapers, and all you can think of is how you want to use cloth diapers and wipe poo off of a baby’s butt….

And then your mouth starts curving, fighting back leaky eyes. You say excuse me, or try to laugh it off. But the reality is that when you sit back in your car, and you start driving home, you can barely see through the liquid that fills your eyes and streams down your face.

But it gets easier.

I promise it does.

After a few years, you learn to cope with it. You have less episodes of heartache. You come to terms with everything. It doesn’t mean you won’t cry about it every now and then. It doesn’t mean that sweet baby in church won’t smile at you and you have to excuse yourself to the bathroom again because “the Holy Spirit” just had His grasp on you!

But it does mean, that if you allow the sweet spirit of God to seep slowly into the cracks that are in your hardened heart, that in those moments you will find great joy. A joy unspeakable. A joy that, if not…if it doesn’t happen…then God is still good, and righteous, and holy, and to be praised. You find peace that surpasses all understanding.

You’ll still cry in the shower.

You’ll still have hard nights…the ones where you let yourself get hopeful when you know you shouldn’t have.

But they get easier if you let them.

It is only by the grace and mercy of God. Because brokenness can be so beautiful, if grace is the one singing the melody.

You’ll laugh again. You’ll smile again. And you’ll mean it.

Your friend will get pregnant, and you’ll be over joyed. You’ll have a new niece or nephew that you’ll get to spoil. And while it’s not the same—new life, no matter who’s life it is, is to be welcomed and celebrated with love and beauty, not heartache and despair.

And more than anything, you’ll love yourself again. You’ll love yourself when you’re ugly crying in the shower. You’ll love yourself when you are washing the dishes and it hits you out of no where. You’ll love yourself when the nights are long and you lie awake wondering, “if”…”when”…

And if it doesn’t happen, you’ll be ok. Because God has great plans for you, and His plans are always better and greater in the grand scheme of life. And if it does happen, then my goodness, what character and amazing love you’ve grown in. What a fabulous testimony He is using for His goodness and mercy to appear to those around you!

And one day, I pray, it will all make sense. The struggle. The heartache. The pain. The grief.…..

Sons and Daughters (Part 1) | Raising Our Boys to Be Men

Part 1 in a series about raising boys to be kind men, and raising girls to be courageous women.

In society, I’m a brand new mom. I’m only (almost) 7 years old in motherhood. But I would like to think that my soul is an ancient one full of wisdom and knowledge. I cannot look at a woman who has been a mother for 25 years and tell her I know more than her. I don’t. But I cannot doubt that there are women in this world who can go through the motions and never actually learn. While there are other women who go through the motions and crave more knowledge. I’d like to think I’m the later.

And so, my journey of motherhood didn’t begin when I became a mother, in fact,it began when I became a young woman who was interested in men. And even more so, when I married my husband.

Growing up, we can all say our parents made mistakes. Heck, our parents will tell you they made mistakes. And I’ll tell my adult child (when that day comes) how many mistakes I made. But the reality is that when we, ourselves, are children, we often think we can do things better than our parents. And thus begins the course of trying to find what we really want in life.

For me, I wanted to graduate high school, get married, have babies, and live happily ever after. But, I failed to understand one thing…

…I had absolutely no idea what a real man was.

And so I tried to find a real man in a high school boy I barely knew…

I tried to find a real man in a man who didn’t even know himself, but wanted to know me…

I tried to find a real man in a boy who, to this day, is probably still one of the most childish people I know…

And I tried to find a real man in my now husband.

Oh, how I wish I would have waited for him.

What a naive girl I was, as most young women are.

I sing that song in my head sometimes, Mama’s don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys.

Mama’s, don’t let your babies grow up to be men who disrespect women, are unkind, lazy, rude, and useless.

Mama’s, raise your babies to be strong and courageous men. Raise them to be kind and gentle, and yet strong and manly. Raise them with soft hearts and strong skin. Raise them to the highest standard. Raise them to the standard you deserve. Raise them to the standard that one day she, his future wife, will deserve. 

When my husband and I first married, we both had a lot of growing up to do. A lot. I am grateful we “grew up” together. Though there was a time when we thought we might not make it. Honestly, I’m grateful for that time too.

And as I look at my son now, I see his father in him. All of the good parts, and a few of the bad. Some of my good characteristics, and some of my bad as well. But I am constantly reminded that, no matter what….

I have been given one of the greatest tasks in life—raising and training a man. 

2012 – ©Courtney Anderson Photography

It has been challenging, and I mess up, daily. And the sad reality is that so many times, he is training me, rather than me training him. Parenthood is a calling, of that I am certain. It’s the calling that shatters our hearts, mends them over, and breaks them into a thousand pieces again…followed by hugs and kisses. It forces us to face our biggest flaws, and to celebrate our smallest of victories. It makes us realize that we weren’t right about everything when we were 13, and sometimes, our kids might be able to teach us a thing or to.

During these years, I have had to remind myself of these things. Daily.

And while the emotional and characteristic side of manhood is necessary, there are some practical things to teach him as well.

:: How to Raise Our Boys to Be Men ::

Teach him kindness. With his words….with his body language…with his heart. Teach them to have a kind heart when someone is being picked on. Teach them not to pick on anyone. Show them love and tell them it’s ok to love. Loving them unconditionally will allow them to love unconditionally when they become men.

Teach him to work through emotions. And let them know that emotions are ok…even for a man. The human body was created to have emotions, for good reason. But little boys still must be trained on how to properly handle them. Crying is ok (if you’re hurt, really sad, or not feeling well), whining is not. Being happy and excited is ok. Loving on mama is ok, and daddy too. Being angry when someone has hurt you is ok, but there is also grace and forgiveness to be taught.

Teach him to be helpful and independent. No matter how little, teach them how to clean, do their own laundry, how to wash dishes, how to keep a clean house (I royally suck at this), how to keep their bodies clean. Teach them how to live on their own, rather than them waiting for a wife to come along to do it for them. You want to talk about culture shock when I got married? I came from a household where dad cleaned up after himself and did his own laundry. My husband came from a household where he didn’t do a darn thing. We have since found our happy  medium. That happy medium is called “clean it up yourself, or it will sit there until I have the time, and don’t you dare complain about it.”

Teach him to be a provider. Not only for himself, but for others. Teach him work ethic and independence. Teach him how honorable it is to be a man of stature and provision. Teach him the Biblical standard of a hard working man.

Teach him to respect women. Teach him that her body is her body, not his. And that even after marriage, he can’t just treat her however he wants to. Teach him that she is a daughter of a King. From a young age, they should be holding doors open for women, even mom. But of course, they will forget most days. Teach them “ladies first” and how to be proper. Sure, there are women out there who like to act like men, but not a single one of them will complain if treated like a princess. But that brings me to my next point…

Teach him to be courageous, and to never be walked all over. There are some very strong women in this world, and if given the chance, they can walk all over a kind hearted man. Teach him to be courageous and respectful, but to never tolerate being walked all over. Teach him to stand up for himself when another person comes against him in life. But also teach him to have a teachable spirit in case he needs to learn a lesson.

Teach him to work with his hands. Because he will need that skill more than either of you realize in the real world. A little dirt goes a long way. And you never know when he might have to fall back on that skill.

Teach him to be self-sufficient. Does he know how to take care of a family? That’s a big deal when it comes to learning manhood.

Teach him to hide the word of God in his heart. There will be trials and tribulations—temptations and personal demons. Teach him, from a young age, to hide the word of the Lord in his heart. So that if ever he strays away, he will remember. And that when he does find his wife, he can share it with her as well.

Teach him to be a leader. But with humility and justice.

Teach him right from wrong. This is a given, but unfortunately so many parents just think their children automatically know right from wrong. Trust me, if you are not actively teaching it to them, someone else will…and not necessarily in the way you wish.

Make sure he knows that he owes no one anything, that he doesn’t have to depend on someone else to live this life (other than Jesus), and that he was fearfully and wonderfully made by the same hands that created the entire universe.

But most of all? Teach him who he is in Christ. If nothing else, mama, teach him this. Who does God say he is?

List them all, one by one…

He is a child of the most high King. (Galatians 3:26)

He is greatly loved by his Father. (Romans 5:8)

He is a friend of Jesus. (John 15:15)

He has been redeemed. (Romans 3:24)

He is a temple of God. (1 Corinthians 6:19)

He is predestined in Christ. (Ephesians 1:11)

He is a workman of God. (Ephesians 2:10)

He is bold and confident. (Ephesians 3:12)

He is guarded by peace. (Philippians 4:7)

He is dearly loved, chosen, and clothed in compassion. (Colossians 3:12)

…and the list goes on and on.

Mama, I know the days are long sometimes, and the road is hard. But never ever forget what you’ve been entrusted with. And most importantly, never forget that we are constantly in training, as we train our own young boys to become incredible young men.

 

 

Bible Study | The Story of Nehemiah

One of my New Year goals has been to Bible journal more often. I started bible journaling last year when I came across Darlene Schacht’s  (Time-Warp Wife) Bible Journaling facebook group. It seemed silly to draw in my bible at first, but then it quickly became therapeutic. It caused me to really connect with the words and understand. Unfortunately, I don’t have a “journaling” bible. However, I found a cute little mini journal on Amazon and prefer journaling and doodling in there. Since I’m a note taker and researcher, this was the best option for me. However, you can find amazing journaling bibles online as well.

Getting back on track—at the beginning of the year I consistently kept seeing or hearing the name Nehemiah. I thought to myself, you know, that’s not a book of the Bible I’ve really dived into yet. There are a lot of books in the Bible I haven’t dived into yet. So, last Friday night, I read through the entire book of Nehemiah.

I’ll admit, it was quite boring at first. I began to doubt that this was something timely for my life right now. But boy, was I wrong.

I flipped through the pages, painstakingly reading through about a hundred names of written genealogy. I reminded myself that genealogy can be important, we had just learned about it in church a few weeks before. But honestly, I wasn’t “getting” anything out of this family tree.

I continued to press on. It had already been quite a trying day and evening. There were things happening in our life that had simply gotten to the point of just giving up. I was angry at a man on the other end of a telephone because he couldn’t give me answers I needed. I was mad at his co-worker for lying to me. I was angry because I just spent $500 on a doctor visit that afternoon that got me absolutely no where. I was almost on the verge of screaming at someone I had never even met face to face. It just hadn’t been my week. And still, I pressed into Nehemiah.

To give you some background, God set a desire and promise into Nehemiah’s heart—a direct instruction from God. Nehemiah was to rebuild Jerusalem. If you know anything about those times, anyone who hated the Jews didn’t want Jerusalem rebuilt. But Nehemiah knew it was God’s will, and so he set out to rebuild Jerusalem. To set things into perspective for you, Nehemiah wasn’t a warrior or amazingly talented architect. He was a cup bearer. A cup bearer.

When people caught word of Nehemiah’s plan, the Jews rejoiced, but were scared as well. And of course, there were some nay-sayers—threats, people lying about Nehemiah, people making stories up, and people wishing to kill him.

But Nehemiah pressed on.

In fact, a certain group of people constantly begged him to come and meet with them, but he knew their motives were not pure. Those people then accused Nehemiah of being “out to get them”, and Nehemiah’s response was absolutely incredible. He replied, “Nothing like what you’re saying is true. You’re just making it all up in your head.” In fact, the KJV says, “you’re making it all up in your heart.”

Distractions came at Nehemiah every which way. Distractions that would have discouraged and caused any other man to forget the path laid before him.

Nehemiah pressed on.

Nehemiah completed the job he had set out to do.

And Nehemiah could have given a crap less what everyone else had to say about it, or him. I thoroughly enjoyed Nehemiah’s attitude through out the entire book. He was so sure of himself, because he was so sure of who he was in God.

We could all learn a few things from Nehemiah.

Press on through the distractions.
Set your mind on things above at all times.
And pay no attention to the people who are determined to think what they want to think about you.

There are some people who live their lives in manipulation, and if you allow it, you’ll become exactly like them. Do the work God has called you to do. Because when you know who you are in Christ, you become incredibly unshakable.

I wanted to hug the guy on the other side of the phone this morning, but I got his voicemail. A virtual hug may not have been the best way to start our conversation anyhow.

The things happening in our lives right now are just a distraction from the greater work that God has called us to do.

And then on Sunday…our Pastor said something like this…

And it all set itself into place.

Don’t chase after the blessings of God. Let the blessings of God chase after you. Because when you are diligent, and kind, and kingdom minded, and faithful, His blessings follow you. That’s not to say his blessings don’t follow people who are struggling—we all struggle. Some of us simply don’t broadcast it as much as others. But don’t seek them (blessings) out. Seek HIM first, and all these things will be added unto you.

I’m pretty sure Nehemiah became one of my favorite books in the Bible this past week. The simplicity is exactly what this soul needed. I hope you can learn a thing or two from Nehemiah and apply them into your life this week! I encourage you to read it as part of your personal study time.

 

Dear Mom of “Just One Child”

Dear Mom of “Just One Child”,

Let me first start by apologizing for the people who’ve said that to you….for the people who have said, “but you only have one child”. How insulting.

Standing in the grocery store the other day, I could see it on your face. Your little boy was grumpy and moody, and certainly wasn’t being “kind” with his mini-tantrum. He crossed his arms and made a pout face, and I chuckled, because I have “one of those kids” too. And as you rolled your eyes and began to walk, the mother walking past you with five children chuckled too. But instead of just smiling and saying, “cheer up”, she decided to innocently say, “goodness, imagine having 5 of those!”

You forced a small smile and a “yeah…really…”, but as you looked at him your heart felt happiness and sadness all at once. Your face was crinkled with annoyance and you probably prayed a quick prayer, hoping this shopping trip would be short and sweet the rest of the time. How embarrassing for you.

Our eyes met, I smiled and said, “it’s ok, I have one of those too, only one, and honestly, it doesn’t matter whether you have 1 or 10, it’s never the same….but it will get better.” And your body language completely changed. You relaxed and said, “thank you, you have no idea how much I needed that”, and grabbing your little ones hand, you smiled and went about your way, and I mine.

It’s mostly harmless when people say it — you must realize that. But most don’t realize the frustration it can cause a mom of “just one child”.

The reality is that whether you have one child, or 20 children, it’s never the same.

Women with multiple children have most likely never had a single child at an older age unless they began having more children later in life. Therefore, they absolutely cannot sympathize with you on the daily challenges you have with “just one child”. At the same time, you cannot sympathize with them on the daily challenges they have with multiple children. But it’s still “different”. Your challenges will not be the same as theirs, and their challenges will not be the same as yours.

We don’t go around saying, “wow, imagine only having one of those….” how insulting would that be to a mother with multiple children?

We’re all mothers, and just because we have one child or multiple children, it doesn’t make us better or more able than any other mother. Your parenting skills do, not the number of children you have. Your life isn’t any harder or easier because of the number of children you have, because your life adapts.

Whenever the statement is said, “imagine having two….” or three or five or fifteen….I always have to bite my tongue. Actually, I have “imagined” having more than one child for the past 5 years, but the sad reality is, I don’t have them here with me. Whether from infertility or miscarriage, it just hasn’t happened yet, and therefore, it remains “in my imagination”. But people don’t realize…..

Or what if you’re a mother of one child and that’s just all that you want? Maybe your job doesn’t allow you to spend time with your children like you’d want to. Maybe you’re a single mom. Or maybe your marriage isn’t in a place where you want to have more children right now. Or maybe one was enough for you, because you’ve realized you really just can’t handle another one. Good for you, there is absolutely no failure in that, don’t beat yourself up about it. Because it takes greater courage to not have children than it does to have children you cannot adequately and emotionally tend to properly.

Momma, I get it. And maybe it doesn’t annoy me all of the time, because I understand the true intention. But sometimes, I just wish people would think before they speak as if they “know more” than we do….

Which brings me to my next letter….

Dear “Imagine Having More Than One of Them” Mom,

Please stop. Because the truth is, when a mom of one child is venting or struggling, the struggle is real. And no, you absolutely cannot sympathize because you have “more kids than her”. Her struggles are much different than yours, and your struggles are very real as well!

We are one child’s entertainment all day long. Sounds fun, right? No. There are no play mates, we are the play mate. There is no one to fight with other than “mom”. And quite honestly, they get tired of seeing mom all of the time. But guess what, we love this child with ever fiber in our being.

Many of us still work for a living, and some of us from home….guess what, that means we have to work, make money, make phone calls, be glued to a computer half the day, some of us homeschool, AND take care of a child. Oh, and we have a house to tend to. And when we can’t pay attention to them, and they don’t have a playmate (even if they fight), we feel guilty….really, really guilty….

Some of us work all day outside of the home, which means less time with our child, which means our child becomes independent and clingy all at once. Or maybe they just become rebellious or even introverted. And then they want our attention at home, but sadly, we still have a house to clean and real life is waiting for us.

Some of us have it easy, we really do. While others have a completely different situation….with “just one child”.

Some of us who can’t have more children think about it, often. We think about how our child may never have a sibling to laugh with, and even to fight with. We think about how our child will never have a brother or sister to stand beside at a wedding, or how his future children may never have an aunt or uncle on his side of the family. We think about how our child will most likely have his childhood days cut short, because he’ll be more independent than most, and will be more mature at an older age than most boys his age. The list goes on…..

Maybe next time instead of saying “imagine having xx of them” say something like, “it’s ok, all kids are like that, it will get better”.

Wow!! How much more encouraging that would be for a mother to hear rather than the condemnation that she shouldn’t feel annoyed with her child because she “just has one”.

Dear Moms….

Most of all, don’t forget that we’re in this together. No matter how many children we have or don’t have, we are the only ones who can sympathize with each other. We are the only ones who “get” one another. Build a community of like minded people, not just like minded family sizes. Encourage fellow moms, and choose your words wisely. There literally is a heartbreak behind every door, and while you may say something that you think is harmless, sometimes, it’s not. It’s not your fault, at all, but there are ways around it.

Dear Moms….

Most of all, try to be understanding.

Be compassionate.

Be kind.

Be merciful.

Show grace.

Don’t compare.

Be encouraging.

Love.

And stop trying to hide flaws. We all have them, we all know it. We’re wasting our time when we act like we don’t. Share them. Embrace them. And teach others how to do the same.

We’re all in this together….and our kids are too….

{The Real Side of Motherhood} I’m Not “Super-Mom”…

I hear it about once or twice a month. From friends, family, facebook. It’s always that one sentence that is uttered, and while it is said to make me feel wonderful, it also breaks my heart when I hear someone say it, and I’m quick to correct them.

It’s a short phrase, but it is a cut to the core one….
“I don’t know how you do it all, you are super-mom.”
 
Just last week two people asked me how I managed to do everything — tending to animals, which includes feeding, watering, breeding, and tending to their babies. Managing a household, homeschooling, cooking, extra-curricular activities.
And my answer is always simple….. “I don’t”.

Let’s just set the record straight very quickly, I am not super-mom.
As you can see above, most days my hair is barely done, and I’m surprised I even left it down yesterday when this photo was taken.
I know a lot of super-mom’s, and I’m not one of them.
I take care of our backyard animals, which includes 11+ rabbits (and their babies), a flock of 20+ chickens, two ducks, and there are ten chicks in the basement.
I home-school my one and only child.
I am a part-time photographer, journalist, and ad sales manager for a regional magazine — none of the three are related. And I blog… all of this from the comfort of my own home…which I live in 24/7/365. This means we use the house all day — I don’t get to clean the house and leave and come home to a clean house. No way. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
I have a husband to tend to and clean up after, and a household to manage.
 
And while all of these things are great, let me tell you the things that are lacking….
The carpet in our bedroom is a wreck. Who am I kidding, our entire bedroom is a wreck. There are unfolded clothes strewn about, sometimes I have to do a sniff check because I’m not sure who threw their clothes where before their evening shower.
There’s a laundry basket (or two or three) full of clothes pouring out of it that need folding…right after the dishes piling over the sink in the kitchen.
I can’t see the top of my dresser, because there are folded clothes on top because no one wants to get rid of their old clothes…therefore I have to put them somewhere.
The best part is that my bed is made — I’m always very adamant about that. I hate a bed that’s not made.
My son’s bedroom is a wreck. As soon as we clean it and vacuum it, it’s full of toys again. I don’t think I’ve been able to see his floor for the past 3 months, except for the weekly vacuuming that it gets. Husband is putting down the wood floor in his room this week, which means this mama is going on a purging spree.
My living room normally has tiny pieces of shredded paper all over it from the dog. As soon as the vacuum is put away, it’s apparently a signal to shred every piece of paper towel and piece of paper possible. Half the time I just leave it there. When husband gets home and says “look at this mess”, I say, “oh wow, he must have done that while I was washing dishes, vacuuming, talking to 10 different clients, and trying to calm down a screaming child because he wants his green pencil for school work instead of his red one.
There’s a closet in my living room piled high with unorganized shoes. And the door is broken, so it has been leaning up against the closet for the past 8 months. Talk about an eye sore.
My bathroom is painted 20 different shades of 20 different colors, none of which we’ve decided on for the past 5 years. While I clean the toilet and sink daily, it normally looks like a train wreck — white toothpaste on the mirror, pee on the floor (most likely from the toddler, I hope). Oh, and my shower is green from hard water….and I just don’t care anymore.
I don’t have doors on my kitchen cabinets. Did I mention we’ve been in the process of renovating for the past 6 years?
Sometimes my kitchen table is so full of “crap”, that I give up on cleaning it off. I know that as soon as I do, someone is going to fill it up with bills, junk mail, loose change, play-dough, gum and candy wrappers, and Lord only knows what else.
Did I mention we only live in a 900-square foot house?
There’s 10 packages of wood floor sitting in my very small living room, and I’m pretty sure the dust bunnies around the edges of it have decided to make this place their permanent home. Just a few more bunnies to take care of….what’s a few more…
I lose my cool more than once a day — sometimes loudly, sometimes silently where no one can hear me.
I suck when I get overwhelmed, especially on days like today when there’s a toddler screaming at me, a house that’s a mess, and let’s not even talk about attempting homeschool today, k?
Home-school, let’s just say I’m thankful he’s already ahead for the weeks and months that we fall behind.
My computer desk is…disgusting. To say the least. And I just cleaned it last week. Between grimy little toddler hands, leaky coffee cups, and snotty tissues…..
I check emails and facebook more than I should, and sometimes I don’t know where an hour of my day has gone because of it.
If we’re being real here, then I should tell you to never ever go into my basement until we completely finish renovating it. You’ll probably step on a nail, die from dust engulfing your innermost being, and you’d be able to swim in the mound of laundry piling up in the laundry room.
I don’t cook dinner every night. Some nights it’s cereal, some night’s is a good stick to your bones roast and potatoes. Either way, they’re either going to love it or hate it. One or the other…
My walk in pantry isn’t so “walk-in”. There’s junk all over the floor because I have zero cabinet space for any of my pots and pans.
I don’t have a trash can and I can’t remember how long it has been since I’ve had one. I couldn’t get to it from the wood floor packages piled up in front of the pantry one day, so I took the trash bag out and told the boys  not to use the trash can. Apparently, their monkey arms could reach it, and God only knows how long they had been putting trash in it. I didn’t know mold could get so fuzzy and grow so tall until I found a God awful smell in my pantry and realized that’s where it was coming from. I have a trash bag hanging on the outside handle of my pantry door now, and I can’t say that I foresee a trash can in my future.
I could keep going….and going….and going….
I could keep telling you about the socks under my bed, the cobwebs in the corner, or about the fact that I can’t deal with it all on most days.
But you know what?
My kid is loved and taken care of.
My animals are loved and taken care of.
My husband is loved and taken care of.
My job get’s done, even if I have to stay up until 2 a.m. to finish it.
The important things get done…and that’s all that matters anymore.
I refuse to live my life pretending to be super-mom or super-woman or whatever you think you need to call her or yourself.
I refuse to live my life waiting for my big house, perfect child, and for my husband to miraculously become pristinely (yes, I just made that word up) clean.
I love my family, I get my job done, and everyone is fed, clothed, and tended to.
But guess what, I’m not super mom. I eat real food, and yes some nights that means cereal for dinner.
I might crochet, sew, knit, and work with my hands….but I am not wonder woman because of those things. And in fact, I am far from it.
So please, let’s just do us all a favor — let’s stop comparing. 
Because the sad reality is that the person you most likely set up on a pedestal, has their very own flaws, faults, and messiness.
I’m not super-mom….I will never claim to be super-mom. And if you have that false assumption of me in your mind, that’s your fault, not mine.
So, for now I will love and live….and the housework will get done after the billions of other things I have to do today.
As I told a sweet friend of mine this week — sure, I get all of these other things done, and I enjoy them. But something is always lacking. Always.
We cannot “do it all”. We cannot be “super woman”. Because in the end, whether you realize it or not, whatever you say “yes” to, means you say “no” to something else.
Yes, clean your house and tend to your household. But make sure you say “yes” to the most important things first — your husband, your children, your family. Everything else will eventually fall into its proper place.
I have recently discovered that the less I think about housework, the more it gets done…the less overwhelming it is….and the more I enjoy it. Enjoy it? Pfff, yeah right. But the more satisfaction it brings me.
Now, I must go tend to those dust bunnies. I have realized while writing this that I do not need anymore bunnies on my homestead!! Contrary to what I may tell my husband 😉

Seeking God During Those Simple Everyday Moments

I’ve been talking to God in my head alot this past week, especially about my prayer list for 2014. One of my worst character traits is becoming easily overwhelmed, even with simple things. So one of the things I’ve been praying a lot about recently is strength and direction on how to overcome that.

But this week has been different, because God has been dealing with my heart on so many other things.

You see, I’m one to always have a quick answer when it comes to biblical questions or when someone is looking for advice. I love giving Godly advice, I always have. You can ask my mother, she’ll tell you that I’ve always been one to speak my mind and give good advice….even to her 😉

But with that said, my biggest obstacle is being “quick” to answer. When in fact we’re called to be slow to speak.

“So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath;” [James 1:19]

I realized this week that while I have bible knowledge and try my hardest to allow the Holy Spirit to speak through me, I rarely pray before giving an answer. And that’s extremely dangerous….

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