But What If They Don’t Like Me?

This is my first “real” blog post since I have moved to this public blog. Before, when my blog was private and only read by people I knew, I wrote a lot more from the heart. Once I decided to switch my blog to a public format, I have frozen up. Sure I don’t mind sharing DIY tips or our vacation itineraries. But really writing how I feel about things like I used to do has become incredibly scary. So scary I have been paralyzed. I will think of something I want to write about and immediately start to worry if someone will take it the wrong way or if someone won’t like it.

I have always struggled with people pleasing and thought it would get better as I got older, but somehow lately it’s become worse. I used to think that once I had a husband and wasn’t worrying about the dating scene things would be much easier. I also thought I wouldn’t struggle with it as much if I was no longer in school or working and therefore not having to “prove” myself to my classmates/professors or co-workers/bosses.

But now that I am married and staying home with my girls, it’s still a struggle. Now instead of worrying about what a certain guy will think of me, I worry what that mom will think of me when she sees me hand my kid a non-organic snack. Or what my friend will think of me when she comes to visit my home knowing hers is worth 3 times mine. See, if you struggle with a sin and you don’t deal with the heart issue, it will never go away. It will just change with you as you go, causing a struggle no matter your life stage.

Knowing someone doesn’t like me kills me. And whenever someone is mad at me, my mind always goes to “what did I do wrong?” I never consider the possibility that maybe they’re wrong or struggling with something and taking it out on me. That may sound noble, but it’s really not. It leads to very wrong thinking. I always assume I’ve done something wrong to the person, and therefore I’ve done something wrong to God. So when someone is not pleased with me, my mind always makes the leap to – “I’ve failed God.” Because of that, I have been operating out of this mentality that says to please God, I must please all people all the time. The problem with that is the Bible.

Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 2:4-6, “On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts. You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed—God is our witness. We were not looking for praise from people, not from you or anyone else, even though as apostles of Christ we could have asserted our authority.” (emphasis mine)

And also in Galatians 1:10, “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Wow. He goes as far as to say if I am trying to please people, I am NOT a servant of Christ. Ouch.

Even Jesus said, “You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 10:22)

Coming to the realization that people disliking me is NORMAL and actually to be expected, not a sign that I am sinning against God, has been incredibly freeing for me. So freeing that I am writing this blog post.

I love writing. I want to share my heart, but I have become so scared to let anyone in past surface level that I have shut down. My fear of people has led me to not move forward with what I feel God is calling me to do – to write. So this is my first feeble attempt to push through. Feel free to call me out if I continue not writing, but don’t make me think you don’t like me 😉 (kidding of course)

*I feel like I should add a disclaimer here and say that if you ARE sinning, and people are mad at you because of that, then yeah you’re in the wrong and have done something against God. What I’m talking about here is not doing anything wrong, but people just not liking you for whatever reason (and with the Internet the way it is these days, people find a WHOLE LOT of ridiculous reasons not to like other people).*

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Tour of Texas

My husband and I have been wanting to do a trip to Texas Hill Country for a while, so we figured now is a good time! It was really a lot of fun, and I feel like we go to see so many things! And the drive from Dallas wasn’t bad. We definitely didn’t do EVERYTHING there is to do, but we fit in quite a bit. So if you’d like to take your own Tour of Texas, feel free to follow in our footsteps!

I declared our theme song to be “Texas Time Travelin'” by Cory Morrow. Although “My Texas” by Josh Abbott Band would have also been a good choice. We decided to do the biggest chunk of driving on the first day when we were still rested. Nowadays I don’t even mind driving. As long as there’s no kids, it’s a nice little break 😉 Our first stop was the Czech Stop in West, Texas. The kolaches and really everything there is SO good!

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From there we drove straight to San Antonio. Our first stop was the Alamo. Since I used to teach 4th grade Texas History, I could have totally led the tour. (Just kidding – I sadly don’t remember much. I blame having kids.)

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Several people recommended getting dinner at Pearl Brewery, but we were very confused by this. We thought it was a brewery (one place) that also served food, but we couldn’t find a menu or any info on a “Pearl Brewery” restaurant. We just decided to go there and check it out for ourselves. We quickly realized that Pearl Brewery is actually a neighborhood complete with different restaurants, bars and shops.

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We went to Southerleigh first (since it is actually a brewery) for drinks and appetizers.

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Rustin REALLY wanted the deviled eggs, and I have to admit they were pretty tasty! We left there and went to get dinner. There were several places to choose from, but we landed on La Gloria since you have to get Tex Mex in San Antone! Everyone was ordering these fun-looking drinks, so we decided to give it a try. It’s called a Mangonada.

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La Gloria wasn’t bad, and it had a great patio right on the Riverwalk, but it wasn’t that great. I found out later that we apparently should have gone to Mi Tierra.

After dinner, we decided to walk along the Riverwalk several miles back to our hotel. The weather was absolutely perfect and everything was still lit up from Christmas. It was a great walk!

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The next morning Rustin brought me breakfast and I stayed in bed watching HGTV as long as I wanted, and it was AMAZING!!

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From San Antonio, we started making our way to Fredericksburg. We could have taken a more direct route, but wanted to go to Johnson City and Wine Road 290, so we took 281 north to Johnson City. I wanted to go there because they have the BEST BEEF JERKY EVER! The place is called Whittington’s, and I found out you can buy it online now. You’re welcome.

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We also went to Lyndon B. Johnson’s boyhood home.

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We got there at 1:59pm and a tour started at 2pm! I am a bit of a history geek so I loved hearing the stories and looking around. This is the parlor and the furniture is original.

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And the kitchen –

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And of course LBJ’s room (that is a picture of him above the bed) –

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The road from Johnson City to Fredericksburg is called Wine Road 290 because, well, there’s lots of wineries. We had recommendations from friends so we stopped by a few  – William & Chris, Hilmy, and Woodrose (which was our favorite!).

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As it was getting dark, we made it to our bed and breakfast – Cotton Gin Village – and we stayed in the Rio Grande cabin. I LOVED it!

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The next morning we woke up to a delicious picnic breakfast!

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The first place we went in Fredericksburg was the National Museum of the Pacific War (like I said – I’m a history geek). It was really a neat museum, and I highly recommend going at least once.

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We headed to Fredericksburg Brewing Company and hung out in the Biergarten while we waited for our table. Prost!

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We, of course, had to do a shopping stroll down Main Street then decided to try another winery – Fat Ass Ranch and Winery. No, I’m not making this up.

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After that we went to Luckenbach. Not sure why, but I have been DYING to go there forever!! I don’t know what I was expecting but there wasn’t much to it, although if someone was playing in the Dance Hall, I could see it being super fun! We did total tourist things like taking pictures in front of the signs and buying a coffee mug and shirt.

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The next day we were sort of tired (can you blame us?) so we thought we would just go to a few wineries. We went to one and while we were there, we decided to go to Garrison Brothers Distillery. Or should I say RUSTIN decided. I am not a fan of bourbon and wasn’t thrilled about going, but I had already drug him to several “not fun” things on the trip, so I figured we’d go. Well we were SO GLAD we did!! It may have been one of our favorite places. The ranch was just so neat.

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They have several fire pits outside and a lot of refreshments (hot cocoa, water, wine, beer, and all the ingredients for s’mores)! All you have to do is put money in an “honor box” and get what you want. It was about an hour until the next tour so we hung out by the fire.

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They take you on a little “hay ride” for the tour –

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I wasn’t a huge fan of the actual tour because, like I said, I am not interested in bourbon, but Rustin had fun!

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From there we started making our way back toward Dallas. Between Fredericksburg and Austin, we stumbled on Twisted X Brewing Company and stopped by there. In Austin we met up with Rustin’s cousin and her husband who runs Still Austin Whiskey Distillery (which is coming soon) for dinner.

We stayed the night at a hotel in Round Rock and the next day went to my Mothership – Magnolia Market. Yes, I am the typical Fixer Upper fanatic. I had a HUGE shopping list and went.to.town. I may be biased, but it is a really cool place. They have a big outdoor area, which is where Rustin hung out while I shopped. The weather was great, and he grabbed a cup of coffee and told me to take my time 🙂

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I can’t wait to show y’all this Cup for Days rack in my kitchen! And of course I stopped by the bakery for cupcakes and they did not disappoint!

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From there we stopped in West (again) at the Czech Stop for lunch and headed back to Dallas. I hope you enjoyed this post, and if you take your own Tour of Texas, please let me know!

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My Night Alone in a Hotel Room

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I realize the title may be misleading and make this post sound waaaaay cooler than it actually is. You’ve been warned.

I am an introvert. It’s just who I am. Because of that, I NEED alone time. Not in a – oh I enjoy this and would like to do it if I have time – sort of way. No, in a – I might go insane and copy that lady who just left one day and lived as a homeless person in Key West – sort of way. Since becoming a mom, I have lost my alone time in a way I never imagined.

I obviously lost a lot of my alone time when I had my first daughter, and it took some time to adjust, but since she was the only one, I was guaranteed alone time when she was sleeping or visiting the grandparents. Ever since #2 has been thrown in the mix, I have been walking a thin layer of pudding skin between normal and crazy. I always have one kid with me. In the bathroom, when I’m sleeping (my oldest has started the creepy thing of coming into our room at night and looking at us), in the car, running all errands.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids to pieces and wouldn’t trade staying home with them for anything, I’m just saying it was to the point where I needed a sanity break. I had joked that my dream was to get a hotel room alone for just one night ever since I was still nursing my first. It seemed so magical to be in a room where NO ONE would talk to you. You could lay in bed as long as you wanted. You could watch whatever you wanted on TV. YOU COULD SLEEP IN AS LONG AS YOU WANTED!!! The thought was so wonderful. Usually when my husband would bring it up, I would say “oh no, it’s ok” like a good mom-martyr. But this time he asked and I said YES. I think I surprised him by my response. I guess it will teach him to not ask questions if he doesn’t expect me to take him up on it hehe.

So I did it. I stayed in a hotel room by myself. As I was driving to the hotel (which was like 5 miles from my house) I started thinking the only thing that could make it better was if it was raining. When it’s raining, I somehow feel validated that I’m in bed being lazy. When it’s all sunny and pretty outside, I feel guilty that I’m not out enjoying it. Well this day it was sunny and no rain was in the forecast. Shortly after checking in to my room, the sky got dark and a HUGE rainstorm came! God had already given me my dream night away, He didn’t owe me this. He didn’t owe me any of this. But it just reminded me of how good He is. And even in times we don’t see Him, or feel like we’re unraveling and He’s not doing anything, it reminded me that He will always provide and provide abundantly.

So back to me being lazy and watching TV… I wasn’t sure about this part because I wouldn’t have my DVR, Hulu, etc. What shows would I watch?? I love true crime shows. Like addicted. The First 48 is my favorite. I turned on A&E – nothing. So I did other things, got food, etc. Turned it back…. The First 48 was on… for HOURS!! I did a small dance in my bed… alone (again did I mention I am ALONE – no one asking for food, no one crying, no one asking to watch Daniel Tiger).

Even though this wasn’t something crazy and huge, it made a world of difference for me. I felt refreshed. I felt like I could handle life again. If you feel like you are about to lose it, I highly encourage you to do this. Take just one night to relax alone.

Of course, I couldn’t be away from the fam for too long, so I told them I would allow them to come visit me at my oasis in the morning to swim. But not before 10am. Because I was going to wake up when I wanted and watch HGTV while drinking coffee #heaven

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Our 8th Anniversary

Rustin and I celebrated our 8th anniversary last week! I know everyone says this, but I really can’t believe this was 8 years ago…

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We’re usually pretty lame and rotate between the same three restaurants all the time, but we decided to get a bit fancy for our anniversary and go to downtown McKinney! I absolutely adore that area.

Our first stop was one of my all-time favorites – Landon Winery. I love how you can sit outside on the patio, and on the weekends they have live music. Their Yellow Rose and Peach wine are to die for!

Next we went to dinner at rye. I have been wanting to try it for a while. My friend Michelle’s husband, Jeff, is the chef. Back when Michelle and I were teaching together, we would get together to watch The Bachelor and Jeff made snacks for us a couple of times, so I knew it would be good! And it did not disappoint!

We started out with the “Book Club” Peppers for an appetizer, but apparently Jeff decided we needed a bit more because he kept sending out bites of other things for us to try. And each one was delicious! Rustin and I split the Guajillo Chile Rubbed Niman Ranch Pork Tenderloin and the Grilled Beef Filet.

As if we weren’t stuffed enough from all of that, Jeff sent out a dessert sampler to help us celebrate complete with the Chocolate Pot de Creme, Apple Pot Pie, and Lemon-Ricotta Cheesecake. Although they were all delicious, if I was forced to choose my favorite, I would say the cheesecake.

If you are looking for a fun date night or a new place to try in downtown McKinney, check out rye. You won’t be disappointed!

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Finding Contentment in the Craziness

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I NEED alone time. What I mean is if I don’t have some alone/downtime, I start to lose it a little. My kids are four and one. We went through this phase where one of them was awake at almost all times (except for a few hours at night). I was never alone. Even if I did seem to get them both down at the same time, there was the husband. Don’t get me wrong, I love my husband, but it just seemed that at every second of the day someone needed me and I didn’t have time to recharge.

Along with no alone time, I also seemed to have no time to do my normal “mom duties” like clean, do laundry, and cook. I felt like everything was crumbling. I was going crazy, and I felt like the enormous piles of dishes and laundry (that never seemed to go away) were going to suffocate me.

Then to add to my feeling like a failure, it seemed I had no time for God. In college, I would wake up two hours before class and spend time praying, journaling, and doing a Beth Moore study. (Who was that person??) But I somehow made it a priority to fit that in amidst class and work. In fact, in college I was always a full time student and at one point had three jobs. Surely if I could handle that, I should be handling this mom thing, right??

After about a year of struggling and finding anger boil up in me towards God when my kids woke up early from naps or at night, I decided that I could keep living like this or I could try to make changes. These are a few practical things I did to try to keep from going insane:

1. Understand it was a heart problem. I was letting discontentment have complete dominion in my heart. It took me a long time to realize this. When I think of contentment, I tend to think of how it relates to material things – “Am I content with my car, the size of my house, my clothes, etc.?” But it’s so much more than that. In fact when Paul spoke of contentment, he says, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” (Philippians 4:11, emphasis mine). I realized I had to accept that these were my circumstances right now. I have two very young children who need me, and with whom I chose to say home. It won’t always be like this. One day I will use the restroom alone. But that day is not today. One day I may be able to have that two hour quiet time with candles burning while I sip a homemade latte. But today it’s ok if my quiet time is reading the children’s Bible with my kids in the morning and praying at breakfast. In fact, I realized maybe that’s better? Doing a quiet time by myself (while necessary for my soul sometimes) isn’t modeling for them what it looks like. If I invite them in to my time with the Lord, that is teaching them more than my words ever could. Instead of complaining and being bitter about my lack of “me time,” I am praying to be content with whatever time God gives me. After all, He doesn’t owe me anything. If I have 15 minutes to stare at a wall, and that’s all I have that day – praise Him. He didn’t have to give me that. It’s a constant battle with my heart to not demand He provide more and to trust that the time He does give me is enough.

2. Wake up before my kids. There are two groups of people reading that statement. The first group read it and said, “Duh!” The second group (where I used to fall) wants to stone me. I love sleep. In fact I’ve written several posts about that. My view was that if God, in His goodness decided to part the skies with angels singing and make my kids sleep longer, I would be ungrateful to not take advantage and sleep longer myself. But after hearing from many moms how this helped them so much, I decided it was a sacrifice I needed to make if I wanted to see changes. I started out slow, waking up just 30 minutes earlier. I told myself, “Really how much less tired is 30 minutes going to make me?” I have to admit, now that I’ve been doing it, I’m hooked. It is literally the only time during the day when no one else is around. I take that time to pray, work on my Bible study, and if I finish those and by some miracle my kids sleep past 7, I get to watch the Today Show ALONE while drinking coffee. It’s pure heaven. That alone time has made a huge difference for me.

3. Prepare meals ahead of time. This one is still a work in progress, but what I did was get a crockpot meal cookbook that had a grocery list pre-made for seven meals. Usually I waste so much time going through recipes, making sure there’s no weird ingredients that I don’t know where to find, etc. But I took a different approach to this one – “cookin’ without lookin’.” I bought every single thing on the list and decided I was going to cook every single meal – weird ingredients or not. I prepped them when my mom was here one weekend and put them all in the freezer. My family wasn’t going to starve!! (ALL the praise hands!) The drawback was the meals were pretty bland and not my favorite. But they were healthy. And they were food. Even if it’s not a crockpot meal, I’ve had to make myself do the prep ahead of time – either the night before or during the kids’ nap time. I’ve also had to tell myself it’s ok to cut corners. Yes, I know it costs more money to buy the prepackaged salad, or the frozen pre-cut onions, but my sanity has a value too. And sometimes it’s just worth it.

4. Utilize the Samodoro method. That’s right – I made up my own method and named it after myself. This is very loosely based on the Pomodoro Technique. The entire technique wasn’t going to work for me. If I had several chunks of 25 minutes to work with each day, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. I figured I could swing ONE 25 minute chunk that did not include my morning alone time. I decided this chunk would be right when I put my kids down for nap and would be dedicated completely to cleaning/household chores. I realized what was happening to me with house tasks was that it was constantly so overwhelming and to get it all done, I knew it would require 5 hours. So when I knew I was only going to have about one hour when the kids were napping, I sort of gave up and did some sort of escapism activity like waste 30 minutes on social media. So when the kids went down, I went to the kitchen and told myself I didn’t have to get it all done, I just had to give it my all for 25 minutes (or sometimes just 15 minutes). Giving myself the freedom to not have to completely finish, made me feel a lot better. I would set the kitchen timer, turn my phone on silent, and attack it. The funny thing was – with no distractions, a lot of times I was able to get it completely cleaned. If things were still out of control, I would do the same thing when I put the kids down at night. Again, giving myself the freedom to not have to finish it, but just work at it for a certain amount of time helped me not get so discouraged and feel like I had to give up my entire “night chill time.”

5. Clean with Kids. Again this is another one I think there are two groups of people reading – one that says “duh” and one that says “no way.” I was in the no way group. It seemed whenever I tried to clean with the kids, another equal or greater mess would be made in another part of the house, so there was no point. I also felt bad cleaning when they were around. It was this mom guilt that said, “Why are you wasting precious seconds with these two angels who will grow up so fast with cleaning when you could be cuddling them and squeezing their cheeks??” But it is important for them to learn they need to contribute to the house, and what I’ve found is they actually like it! The key to not making things worse is to do the task with them. Leaving them to do the task will almost always result in a mess. Yes doing it with them will take longer and it may not be done as perfectly as you would like but in the words of Elsa- “Let it go.”

I feel like I should add a disclaimer: I have not perfected this. There are days when the kids are up at night and I turn my alarm off. Or everything wars against me in the morning – like my plan backfires and the kids wake up earlier (how do they always KNOW you’re awake??) or I just can’t deal with dinner and we get pizza. And the messes sometimes pile up and my house is Hoarder worthy. But those things are slowly becoming the exception and not the norm.

I hope a few of these things will help someone not go insane 🙂 And if you’d like to share your methods to keep your sanity, please share!

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He Grants Sleep to Those He Loves

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I have long since quoted Psalm 127:2 to myself. I really think I need more sleep than the average person, so of course with two little ones, my sleep tank seems to always be on E. But I would always remind myself of this verse when what I really wanted to do was just crawl in bed, what what I needed to do was clean up the mountain of dishes, fold the laundry, feed the pets, vacuum, etc. etc. It was sort of my pep talk. I would think, ok I’m sleepy but God is able to give me sleep. He is big enough to make the four hours I’m going to get seem like eight. I should trust Him on that. So I would feel guilty for resting when I needed to be doing other things because I felt like I wasn’t trusting God to give me rest. You following me??

Well I went to a mom’s group yesterday and the speaker talked about this verse in a whole new way. First of all, she quoted the whole verse (hint: the graphic is only the part I was reading). The verse in its entirety says, “In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat – for he grands sleep to those he loves.” Psalm 127:2

The speaker took this verse in a whole different (more correct) direction than I always had. She said that when it’s time to rest, we need to rest and trust that God will take care of all the things we feel like we have to get done. In fact, it says waking up early and staying up late is in VAIN! I was looking at it all wrong!

So I thought I’d try it out last night. I really can’t describe the condition of my house. Hoarders worthy maybe? I knew the next day was going to be hard because my husband was out of town camping and I really needed to take advantage of the time when my kids were sleeping to clean up. But I just wanted to go to sleep. So I did and trusted that God would intervene and magically wash my dishes (kidding…sort of).

The next morning was awful. My four year old woke up only speaking one language – whine, and when I went to get my one year old out of bed, I was almost knocked to the floor by the stench coming from her room. I’ll spare you the details but let’s just say she had thrown up. Nothing like having to do an immediate bath and laundry to wake you up on a Saturday morning. At one point they were both crying and I looked at the clock and it was only 8:30am. I seriously wondered how it was possible for me to make it through this day. And, in case you were wondering, God did not do my dishes while I was sleeping, so the house was still a mess.

And then a text came in… my in laws wanted to know if they could pick my oldest up to run errands and hang out with them. My answer – “Umm YES!” So while she was out having fun, my youngest took a good long nap (she’s obviously not feeling well) and I got ALL THE THINGS done!! Yes I said it – ALL.THE.THINGS!

It served as a reminder to me that I need to “cease striving.” I think that I have to do all this stuff and it’s just burning me out, and it’s not working. I need to trust that God will provide the things I need even if it is just a bit of sanity time. He is bigger than my mess of dishes.

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DIY Framed “Dry Erase Board” & Thoughts on Goals

I published this post last night then started worrying (story of my life) that it wasn’t worded right or people would misunderstand what I was trying to say, so I reverted it to a draft. Then this morning when I went to Bible Study Fellowship, the hymn we sang was “Jesus Paid It All” and I knew I needed to publish this. (You’ll see why.) 

I am not one of those people who makes new year’s resolutions. In fact, I refuse to. No one (including me) ever keeps them. BUT I did decide to set some goals for myself this year. I am a pro at wasting time if I don’t have something pressing to do, so I wanted to set goals to make the action I needed to get there, well, pressing. I also wanted a place to display them so I would see them every day. (Side note: I created a daily schedule for myself to also help me not waste time, which I’ll share in another post if anyone is interested.)

This may be common knowledge to everyone else, but did you know you can easily write on glass (and mirrors) with a dry (and wet) erase marker and it comes right off?? I discovered it when I tested out some memory verses on our bathroom mirror.

So I went to Hobby Lobby to get a frame, which led to hours of me wandering around the store in craft heaven. What I really wanted to do was get an unfinished wood frame and do some cute stuff with it myself, but I have learned my limits and when to say no.  So I bought one that looks distressed and I’ll just pretend I did it.

Next, I needed a background. You could use anything – scrapbook paper, colored paper, or heck – even a brown paper bag! I chose a page from a hymnal and chose this hymn specifically. I wanted it to serve as a reminder that even if I accomplish the goals I have set for myself, it is not my doing, it is Christ’s ALONE. All to Him I owe. He is the one who gifted me with whatever inherit personality traits will get me there, and I always want to remember that.

So I took the page and placed the glass over it to cut it to fit. Normally I would trace on the back, but I needed to see exactly what would be showing in the frame so I just traced very lightly with pencil.

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Then I stuck it in. If you don’t want to write anything on it, it looks great as is. Find a cute frame and put your favorite hymn in there!

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Because, as you can see, I ruined it with my 3rd grade boy’s handwriting. For real – is there a class you can take on how to get cute handwriting? If I wanted to spend more time I could have printed something out and traced it, but that was too much effort.

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In church last Sunday the pastor referenced these verses, and I started thinking about them in relation to my goals. I’ve read them before, but this time they stuck out to me in a whole new way (funny how that happens all.the.time.).

Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 9:23-24

I just loved that. And it spoke to me about something I have been struggling with lately. I feel weird even saying it. I have known for a LONG time that I struggle with fear of failure, but lately I have realized I also have a fear of success. That somehow if I succeed in my goals/dreams that it will automatically mean I won’t be as close to the Lord or that I’m selfish or evil or prideful. But these verses don’t condemn the wise man for being wise or the mighty man for being mighty or even the rich man for being rich (disclaimer: I am in NO way saying *I* am wise or mighty or rich). They simply say don’t boast in those things. YOU didn’t get them for yourself. I realized that not going for things that God is calling me to do based on my fear of success is the same mistrust in God that my fear of failure is.

I don’t know what next year holds, but whatever happens, my prayer is that I would hold fast to the Lord and serve Him wherever He leads me – whether it’s into success or into failure.

I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:11-13

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The Hobbit and The Velveteen Rabbit

{from January 4, 2013}

I’ve been a little sad and introspective after Christmas this year. I think several things happened together to make me feel this way.

Every year on Christmas I get a little sad that it’s not magical like it was when I was a little kid. I remember waiting ALL year for Christmas. We would make these rings out of paper and take one off each day until Christmas and it seemed like an eternity. I would beg my parents for weeks to let me open just ONE present. My brother and I would always sleep in the same room and take turns waking each other up during the night to see if Santa had come yet.

Then you get older and it loses its magic. Of course part of it is lost when you discover the truth about Santa. But then also you start asking for more expensive presents so you really only get a few and you know what they are. Also when you’re older, you can go and buy yourself something whenever you want (to some extent). You don’t have that freedom when you’re a kid, so you HAVE to wait until Christmas (or your birthday) to get that really cool toy.

(Yes, yes the point of Christmas isn’t what toys you get, but that isn’t the direction I’m going with this post.)

As I went to bed on Dec. 24 with no real anticipation for the next day, it made me a little sad.

So I was already feeling this way then one of Avery’s presents came in the mail. I ordered The Velveteen Rabbit for her. Each Christmas I get her a book that I love and Rustin and I sign and date it, so when she’s older she’ll have a collection of great books representing each of her Christmases. Last year we got her The Polar Express.

Anyway that is one of the books that always makes me cry a little – especially this part.

“Weeks passed, and the little Rabbit grew very old and shabby, but the Boy loved him just as much. He loved him so hard that he loved all his whiskers off, and the pink lining to his ears turned grey, and his brown spots faded. He even began to lose his shape, and he scarcely looked like a rabbit any more, except to the Boy. To him he was always beautiful, and that was all that the little Rabbit cared about. He didn’t mind how he looked to other people, because the nursery magic had made him Real, and when you are Real shabbiness doesn’t matter.” 

I guess it just reminded me of when I was little and had stuffed animals and truly loved them. Loved them so much that I really felt like they were my friends and whenever I went somewhere they couldn’t be left behind.

And then…. I went to see The Hobbit. I LOVE The Lord of the Rings movies so I have been anxiously awaiting this one. Well it was great – as expected – and sort of took me back to being little. I was all caught up in the make believe world. But then it made it even harder to come back to real life.

So it got me thinking – what is that inner longing for our childhood? Since God made us, He must have put it there, but why? Did He always intend for us to lose our imagination and sense of humor (to an extent) when we grow up and start caring more about money, bills and cleaning?

Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think that’s how it was originally designed. In the Garden, before the Fall, Adam and Eve were naked and were not ashamed. Well if you look at little children who have not “grown up” yet, that describes them exactly. They run around the house without a stitch of clothes happy as they can be.

Because of that, I like to think that we will be restored to that child-like innocence that breeds such joy and excitement in heaven. But also here on Earth, I don’t think it is completely lost. I think God lets you experience that joy again when you have kids and see how excited they are. And then if you’re lucky, even again in yet another different way when you have grandchildren.

So instead of being sad about it, I’m going to look forward to the years ahead when I get to see Avery’s joy and wonder and wait for the day when we get to experience the ultimate joy and wonder when all things are restored in Heaven.

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What I’ll Do Different Next Time

I am a planner, perfectionist, Type A… you name it, and when it came to pregnancy/baby that was no different.

When I got pregnant, I read What to Expect When You’re Expecting. I followed all the rules about what to eat/ not eat, etc. I wanted to do everything exactly right. So after I had the pregnancy thing nailed (yeah right), I thought I should start studying up on what to do with this little baby once it was actually here.

I figured this would be a somewhat easy task. I mean people have been having babies for millennia, and we live in an age where information is so readily available and medicine is quite advanced. So I assumed people had this whole “raising a baby” thing figured out by now and all I had to do was read a few books and I’d be set.

I started out with recommendations from friends. The first book I read was Happiest Baby on the Block. I really liked it and what he said made sense. Of course it was focusing mostly on the first four months, so I moved on to another recommendation – Babywise. Much to my shock and confusion, not only did it have a different overall philosophy, but some of its points were completely opposite!

This wasn’t how I wanted this to go. I wanted a black and white plan to raising a baby. That way I could easily tell if I was doing it right. But then as I read more material, my eyes were opened to the fact that there are two totally opposite camps on baby rearing who both have professionals, doctors and many moms in their corner. So who was I to believe??

Well this just threw everything off, and I went through several months of constantly feeling like I was failing because at least one of the philosophies was telling me I was doing it wrong. (If I nursed my baby whenever she wanted to, that was wrong because I was spoiling her. If I put her on a schedule for feeding that was wrong because I was starving her, etc. etc.)

I went through a long period of constant anxiety, frustration and feelings of failure. So looking back I wanted to write down things I want to do differently the second time. Obviously I haven’t figured it all out and although we don’t plan to have three kids, if we did, I’m sure I could also write about what I would do different the third time. (I feel like I should note here- I am NOT pregnant.)

1. Listen To Your Gut!
I hate starting new jobs. I hate feeling overwhelmed and like I don’t know anything and the uncertainty of exactly what is expected of me. But that’s how I felt when I got the job of “mom.” I felt like everyone had to know more than me because they were either doctors who had studied it for years or moms who already had kids and lived through it.

But “back in the day” they didn’t have books or articles or, in some cases, even doctors. So how did moms and babies survive then? I believe God put in each mom an instinct for caring for her baby that can’t be replaced by anyone else.

I did not like my first pediatrician at all, but since I’d never had one before, I kept going to her because I thought maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be. I knew something was wrong with Avery. She cried all.the.time. I mentioned this to the doctor and she would tell me that it was normal, she’d grow out of it, etc.

Well at 6 months, when I took Avery to a new pediatrician, she was finally diagnosed with reflux and given meds, and then at a year it was confirmed she was in fact lactose intolerant.

When I was nursing, the doctors told me I probably didn’t need to give up milk. And I thought maybe I was going crazy and just thinking she was more fussy after I ate dairy. Next time I’m just buying some soy milk even if there’s no reason for it and going from there. I don’t mind the taste and I’m not going through that again.

They also made me feel crazy for putting her on a hypoallergenic formula (alimentum) which was $30 for a small can (ugh). But now I know she needed it.

Next time if I suspect reflux, I am demanding meds. I believe if I would have done that from the beginning, she wouldn’t have stopped nursing and the first six months of her life wouldn’t have been the hardest six months of mine.

Which leads me to #2

2. If you feel like your pediatrician isn’t listening to you – switch…NOW! Don’t let them make you think you don’t know anything. You’re the mom. I’m so happy I finally switched, just wish I had done it sooner.

3. Choose your schedule (or no schedule) and don’t let anyone else make you feel bad for your choice.

I think/hope that moms don’t intentionally set out to make other moms feel bad for not following their “way.” I think that certain things just work really well for certain moms. I know moms who have loved the scheduling/Babywise way and moms who have loved attachment parenting.

I think when you have your first kid and you finally figure out what works for you, you’re so excited and want to share it and assume that it will also work wonders for everyone else’s baby too.

But that’s the problem – nothing works for every baby. I had several moms just tell me to do Babywise – it was the secret. I tried and tried and constantly felt like a failure. But it wasn’t because I was doing something wrong, it was because that didn’t work for us.

Anyway I would be a complete hypocrite here if I said one way was better than the other. My whole point is that it’s not. They are all fine, it’s just all about what works for you and your baby.

So don’t let others (or Internet articles) make you feel bad for the way you’ve chosen, and when it’s your turn to give advice, don’t do the same to others.

4. It gets better.

I remember the first two weeks and waking up every 3 hours to nurse her and feeling such despair because I thought it was always going to be like this. I will always be this exhausted. Then that stage ended.

Then she refused to nap and I thought it would never change. Then it did.

Then she was teething and constantly fussy and wanting my attention and waking up at all hours of the night. I didn’t think I could make it through, then it was over.

When you’re in each stage, it feels all-consuming and like it will always be this way. But remember the old saying – “this too shall pass.”

5. Don’t get caught up in the competition.

Some moms are just competitive and it carries over into child rearing. They think their kid is the next Einstein or Michael Jordan because he hit (insert whatever milestone here) early. Also many parents find their identity and worth in how well their kid performs.

Avery has hit all of her milestones late. Not so late that it was out of the “normal” range, but on the late end of that range. At first I worried and felt like I had to compete with other moms, but not only is that bad for me – it’s bad for Avery.

She is who she is and I NEVER want to make her feel “less than” because she’s not doing what all the other kids are doing. I want her to be confident in who she is and not feel that her worth is found in how she measures up to others. (Eventually I want her to understand that her worth is found in who she is in Christ, but we’ll get there.)

I hope they don’t mind me sharing this story, but a friend of mine’s brother was going to be tested for mental retardation at 2 years old because he hadn’t talked yet. Long story short, nothing was wrong with him and he is currently in grad school at an Ivy League University.

I don’t believe on any of my college entrance exams or in any job interview anyone ever asked me at what age I walked, learned my ABC’s, learned to count to 10 etc. … Because it doesn’t matter.

I know the competition thing will only get worse as she gets older and is in school and sports, but I hope to constantly remind myself to not get caught up in it.

Well I feel like I’ve written a novel, yet only have 5 things listed. I’m sure I could go on but this post is long enough as is. If I think of anymore to add, I’ll write a new post. Hopefully this will encourage someone.

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Confessions Part 1

I wrote this when my first daughter was less than a year old (in May 2012), and pretty much all of it holds true for the second one…

Sometimes I feel like every other mom but me has it all together. It seems they have perfect babies who never cry and sleep all the time. What has been my saving grace is my ONE friend who had a baby as difficult as Avery. Hearing her stories make me think that maybe I’m not such a bad parent.

Anyway I thought I would write this post in case there’s any other not-so-perfect moms out there in hopes it might make them feel better. So here goes…

– Avery cries. Not too long ago a friend said to me that she can’t remember the last time her baby cried. Mine cries several times a day. Not for long periods anymore (the first few months it was non stop), but it happens. I don’t think a day has passed since she came home from the hospital that she hasn’t cried.

– For the first 5 months of her life I had to bounce her on an exercise ball until she fell asleep, then put her (swaddled) into her swing which was already turned on full blast. Usually she would wake up and the process would need to be repeated several times. If she didn’t sleep in her swing, she slept next to me. And no, it did not create a bad habit. Now she sleeps unswaddled in her crib every night and for every nap just fine.

– Her naps are usually only 45 minutes. This used to drive me insane. I read every book and Internet article I could get my hands on. I tried everything they suggested. Nothing worked. To go along with that – she is not on a perfect schedule. I tried it. I’m not anti-Babywise, it just didn’t work for us. Avery just does not have the temperament to be on an exact schedule. I started enjoying life a lot more when I stopped obsessing about it.

– I was a hermit until the last few months because she cried at the top of her lungs any time I took her somewhere. I just got the guts to take her to the church nursery last weekend…at 8 months old. People who don’t have difficult babies probably thought I was anal. But I just knew that she would cry and wouldn’t stop until I got her home and put her down to sleep.

– I’m not a health nut. Yes, I try to eat healthy but my diet consists of more than just organic fruits and vegetables. Growing up I remember eating “sugary” cereals like Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Fruit Loops and loving them. We didn’t go out to eat or eat fast food much – my mom mostly cooked- but to this day she still cooks veggies with grease. But neither my brother nor I have been obese or had health problems. I like to eat donuts on Saturday mornings every now and then and nothing tastes better on a hot day than an ice cold Coke. Having Big A has made me want to eat healthier and of course I’m not feeding her McDonald’s or anything, but will she at some point eat a Happy Meal? More than likely. Will we go out occasionally on Saturday mornings for donuts? Absolutely. If God chooses to let me live a long life but I go at 87 instead of 88 because of my meal choices, so be it. Enjoying my food was worth it.

– I feed her formula. I talked in a previous post about why she stopped nursing so I won’t go into it. But I feel like that’s the #1 thing moms judge other moms on.

– I failed at making my own baby food. All my friends talked about how easy it was, but it was stressing me out. Also (this may sound weird if you don’t know me) but I have this disease where my esophagus is really small and I choke easily, and I think Avery has the same disease. I couldn’t get the food pureed enough and she started choking. I also don’t buy the most expensive organic baby food. It’s all Gerber in this house.

– She has a pacifier. She probably will for a while.

– I hold her when she wants to be held. Some of the books say it creates a bad habit. All I know is that there will come a day when she won’t want me to hold her anymore. She’s only little for such a short time. I already miss when she would take naps with me.

– I watch TV. I don’t sit in front of it all day (who has time?) but I have it on while I’m playing with Avery. I guess since we’re home by ourselves, the noise makes me feel connected to the rest of the world. I haven’t let her watch TV – as in shows for her like Baby Einstein. I’m trying not to until 2 years (not sure that will happen) but after that, yes she will watch some TV. When I was little, I had all Disney movies memorized. I don’t have ADD and I know how to interact with others.

– If we’re in a public place and she’s not happy – anything goes. She can chew on whatever I can find in my purse if the toys aren’t fun anymore. I have also been known to feed her tons of puffs. But one serving is like 80 pieces so that’s ok right??

– I am usually wearing no makeup, workout clothes, and hair in a ponytail. I don’t have the energy to get dressed up to just be at home or go to the grocery store. Showers usually happen at the end of the day when she goes to bed.

– I nap when she naps. I know I should be cleaning or doing laundry or some Pinterest project. I don’t. I sleep.

That’s all I can think of for now. I’m not sure there will be other confessions but just in case, I wanted to leave it open. Hopefully this encouraged another “not-so-perfect” mom out there.

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