Friday, March 15, 2019

Wisdom comes from the Lord, not Facebook

One of the things I have slowly learned as I take more and more space from Facebook is that wisdom comes from the Lord.

I was a Facebook drama queen. I loved my Facebook groups. Responding to all the bickering about marriage, kids, broken washers, lost puppies, spouses and jobs felt purposeful. I liked polling the masses through a well-worded Facebook status when I had conflict. I even enjoyed giving and receiving likes. Is what you said witty or thought provoking? Like.

I felt good about myself when I received likes on my status too. And comments. I checked my notifications like it was part of my religion.

In short, I created on Facebook a whole little world just about me and what I like and my opinions, complete with pictures.

I am sure there are people out there who use Facebook with boundaries in place and update their status intentionally. I was not one of those people. I know most people who use Facebook are not  those people. Or Facebook would not be the gossip-centered cesspool that it is.

Here is what I have learned. Instead of posting in my Facebook mommy group about how upset I am about my husband doing X Y or Z, I should instead talk to my husband. Venting about whatever my husband did that infuriated me with a bunch of strangers on the internet won't solve or defuse the situation. So why did I participate in this style of gossip?

I have realized that the reason I make those types of posts is because I enjoy simmering in injustice against my husband and having people tell me I am “so right” to feel that way and “they completely understand” my anger. I have found it's easier to feel justified about how hurt I am than it is to actually talk to my husband about the problem.

Today I was reading my bible (you should try it sometime) when I was hit by a bombshell revelation. No, not the biblical kind (I mean, I am not adding to the word) but a personal growth kind of revelation. All this time I have been going to Facebook like it's the source of wisdom. Do I have a problem? Make a post about it. Receive feedback. Am I bored? Check my notifications, groups and messages. Am I angry? Happy? Sad? Update my status with the appropriate emoji and wait for people to comment. Do I need to vent? There is a group for that. And I am in it.

Instead my process should look like this: Do I have a problem? Pray about it. Communicate with the people that the problem actually pertains to. Am I bored? Seek out God and his purpose for me. Am I angry? Happy? Sad? Read my bible and thank God for my blessings. Do I need to vent? Pray. My prayers should be that I don't speak in anger.

Now I am not saying that Facebook is the cause of my problems. Clearly that is my heart. But it has provided people with an easy way to indulge in gossip and selfish behavior.

I could pray and make an edifying post that glorifies God, for sure. But do I? Has that been my track record? Maybe 2% out of 98%. Honestly, it is so much easier to vindictively type away on my computer than it is to go to God with my problems! Facebook allows me the ease of throwing God to the side and gratifying my flesh in the comment section.

Well, I am done with allowing this idol in my life.

Take a good look at your own Facebook habits. And the types of comments you see on your feed. And perhaps log out and see how you feel.

I'm not going back.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Diet Woes and a Health Update

If you have followed my blog for awhile, you know I have gut problems. I finally found a diet that works (dairy and gluten free, preservative free and low sugar) for my myriad of problems. I have a wheat allergy, a dairy intolerance, insulin resistance (prediabetic), and chronic constipation. When I don't change my diet I have the following symptoms: brain fog, joint pain, anxiety, tired all the time, constipation, miscarriages, sugar cravings, stomach pain, eczema, itchy flaky scalp, ear issues and low immune system. Wehww, even I am tired after typing all that.

Thankfully after suffering for years I know what to do. If you have followed my journey I tried a bunch of things and went to a lot of doctors (and got nowhere) before stumbling upon the paleo diet 5ish years ago. The paleo diet solved 90% of my problems. Than I went keto after that. Keto solved the problem the paleo diet did not solve: my brain fog. However, keto made my constipation worse. So still not ideal. Also keto isn't very fun and I didn't like it.

Now for the last 6 months I have just been dairy, preservative, low-sugar, and gluten free eating almost 100% from a cookbook called "Nourishing Meals". Eating this way solves all of my issues most of the time as long as I make sure to not eat a lot of carbs or honey (because of the diabetes) and exercise. I have to exercise twice a day, every day. I usually do after breakfast and lunch as these times are the easiest for me. That only leaves dinner, so I try to eat something low carb for dinner so my blood sugar is not high. I do yoga after breakfast and go for a walk with the kids after lunch (bonus: it puts Becky to sleep for her nap). I do check my sugars with my monitor, and if I don't exercise it is usually 140 or higher two hours after eating. That is not good.

I have learned that I can't eat out. Maybe once every 2-3 months. I also can't eat food other people make. Mostly because they are not gluten free and a tiny bit of gluten destroys me. And also preservatives, sugar, dairy... they can be hidden in a lot of things that someone without my range of issues is not aware of. "Person A" can tell me "its gluten free" but the last thing they cooked in the dish had gluten in it, so I'll be in a world of pain. I have two good friends who are also gluten free and I do eat after them, but I am no longer going to eat anything after anyone else. It makes events hard sometimes. And it makes people bringing me meals almost impossible. 

It does not help that Reuben seems to have inherited a lot of my issues. Poor kid. Sometimes when he tries a new food or has a lot of new things he gets sick and throws up. I don't think even he understands it. Becky does not have any issues that I have noted thus far, and I am so happy for her! I never wanted to pass on my health problems to my kids, but like everything else I don't get to choose. It just happened. At least I know how to help him deal with it so he is not in a world of pain like I was in my 20s. 

I am very lucky that I am strong enough to babywear. I am lucky that I found a diet that works for me so I can function. I try to remind myself of this at potlucks where I can't eat anything or when someone offers to bring me food and I have to turn them down. My health comes with a price and that's okay. I have to make my health the number one priority so that I have energy and vitality to live. 

I am learning to make everything from scratch this year. I now make bread and all nut milk from scratch. To supplement for calcium, I eat egg shells (properly cooked). This week I am making sourdough (gluten free) and ordered a yogurt maker. I also make my own salad dressing, but I have only been doing that for a month. It takes a lot of time but I feel great. Preservatives do drain my energy and hurt my gut. So does soy. Those last two things are in most prepackaged foods, so I try my hardest to avoid them. Bonus, we buy less plastics! Although that was not intentional!

How are you doing on your health journey, friend? 

Monday, March 4, 2019

Jesus holds Motherhood Together

Sometimes I feel like I am the only thing holding the world together. My world is small. About the size of my house. But within this tiny domain, I reign as one of two ruling monarchs (I'm the Queen). But I also moonlight as the scullery maid, so it's not all crowns and silk.

I do the dishes. I wash the floors. I nap the babies. I pick up, haul, schedule, list, change, and regulate in many different ways and sometimes on an hourly basis.

I make no money. I do make happy memories, fun messes and a lot of life discoveries.

On top of the tangible drudgery, I do a lot of emotional and mental work. I set the mood of the house. I support my husband, not only physically but emotionally as well. Daily I am teaching my small humans how to manage their own temperaments. And there is the delicate transaction that is responding to a tantrum in just the right way. I try to deescalate it by methods that not only teach my son how to better manage his emotions but to cope in a way that leaves the glass “half full” instead of “tipped over shattered on the floor” for the rest of the evening. If you have a toddler you will know of what I speak.

Today I was sitting exhausted in my recliner chair watching my non-napping one year old dump out a box of toys and feeling very out of touch with my world. The dishes were half done, Becky (the one year old) was wearing only one sock and my son (3.5) was whining for me to get up and retrieve a puzzle for him. All I wanted was a hot pot of tea and a nap and some quiet.

All of a sudden I remembered a book a friend had given to me when I was researching homeschooling. You see, I wasn't home-schooled and I was dealing with defeating thoughts that I couldn't do it. She gave me this book called “Teaching From Rest” that I still need to read (it's on my shelf, next to more Charlotte Mason books). But it was just the reminder I needed at this moment. Because yes, I do want to home-school from a place of rest and peace. But more than that—I want to parent from a place of rest and peace! I want the peace of God to just envelope my whole life and become my foundation so that it springs out of the wellspring of my heart. I need Parenting for Rest and Peace, the book. If such a book exists.

'For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. Do not be afraid, for I myself will help you,'declares the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.” ~Isaiah 41:13-14 

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”…He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.  You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you…For he will command his angels concerning you, to guard you in all your ways…“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him…” ~Psalm 91:1-16

I also need to stop living like I hold any part of this world together. Jesus is the only one who holds the world together. He is supposed to be my strength. And he is the glue that fastens everything. In him I rest and only by his strength and by his mercy do I accomplish a task. One of the reasons I get so run down and tired is that I try and rely on my own willpower. This is a lie. I am who I am only by the grace of God.

Jesus holds motherhood together. He created it for His Glory. Motherhood is not about what I want, or what I envision for my kids or my family now or in the future. It's for one thing and one thing only: the Glory of God. And I don't know what that looks like but I do know what it does not look like. It's not me whining. It's not me giving up. It's not me carrying the weight of lists and toiling alone. 

It is me, day after day working in abject surrender to Christ and his will. No matter what comes my way. 

So stay strong, sweet mom, strong in his word, strong in his presence and point those little ones to Christ.

“Do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear.  Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.  Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!  Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?  Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” ~ Luke 12:22-26

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Bone-Numbing Tired

I have had a string of good days lately. No one has been sick. No back to back appointments, no rushing, and we didn't forget any food at the grocery store.

But still in the evening I am worn out. I do a lot. With allergies and our budget, I cook everything at home from scratch, even bread and milk now (we do nut milk). I have been able to heal a lot of my autoimmune problems with food, a fact I am extremely grateful for. But it takes massive work and planning. On top of Reuben and I being dairy and gluten free (and preservative free) and low sugar--my husband is keto. So I usually batch cook keto for him, since he likes a lot of cheese and dairy in things and that helps keep the fat content high for his meals. I make my husband breakfast most days and lunch every day, keep the kids entertained, clean the house, teach Reuben a bit of preschool, keep up with friends and devote myself to studying God's word and muddle over God's will in my life (spoilers: its raising kids).

Today I wanted to spend some time with my husband because we get so little time together. His work hours are crazy this year and on top of that I still am not sleeping through the night (Becky wakes up 3-5 times a night). But I am so tired in the evenings that I struggle to put a sentence together. I also feel like I have nothing to talk to him about besides how tired I am or what the kids did that day. We used to discuss politics, world events, dreams, books, and history, but I honestly don't have the mental prowess to deconstruct an argument, much less form an opinion when I am so out of the loop on current events!

I signed out of Facebook again, pausing my account--or whatever it is called. Facebook and me just don't get along. I have tried twice and each time fall back into really destructive habits, feeling like less of a mother because I don't have "what Sally has" or spending too much time clicking on ads and wanting to buy things. Also, I hate the drama and the arguments. I don't have the mental energy to get angry over social media anymore. I just need to stay off Facebook once and for all. I am a better mother without Facebook. I am a happier and more joy-filled person without Facebook.

But let me get back to the point. I am tired. Short of sleep training Becky (and she isn't ready) I don't know what to do. I try to take time to rest during the day. I am working on balancing out-of-the-house occasions and cultivating long stretches at home. I am creating good boundaries with event invites and I am fully accepting that this season of crazy cooking and small children requires me to stay home as much as possible for my mental health and to promote healthy parenting.

I'm an extrovert learning to love long days at home.

But the next thing I really want to tackle is working some rest into my life. I want to create a atmosphere of repose, a home and a heart of peace and tranquility. Instead as the end of the day draws neigh, I find myself stressed and anxious and worn out. I'm ready for bed at 7pm, usually right as my husband arrives home. After 3pm I am tired all the time and fighting fatigue. I need sleep. But I also need to spend time with my husband and do the dishes, so...tired is the new fun? I don't know. Do all moms go through this?

Wondering. Let me know what your experience is or if you have any tips.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Shō ga nai when your husband works late

From the beginning (even when dating) the hours my husband puts into his job has been a constant source of marital contention. He works so long! My husband is a electrical engineer and is supposed to work a 40 hour week and is supposed to get off work at 5. This would put him home by 5:30. 

He has been home by 5:30 perhaps 12 times in our entire marriage. In fact, the last time he came home "on time" I, in shock, asked him if he had been fired. 

No, he had not been fired. He had just arrived home on time. 

I wrote "how to be happy when your husband works late," a blog post that contains practical advice to help you deal with a spouse who works long hours during the weekdays (and sometimes the weekends depending on issues). I myself practice all of my points that I make in that post.

After six years of late-night husband, I can now make it through the day and evening without wiping myself out. But even though I have learned to expect him to come home late--even if I have practical tips to help me through it--still I harbor feelings against my husband in my heart as 6, 7 or even 8 o'clock strolls around without the noise of the door creaking and my husbands footsteps descending into our home.  

In sort, I still struggle with accepting my husbands work hours.

I finally realized that I need to deal with my resentment. So, as the weeks went by, I prayed for God to open my eyes to my husbands struggles and to shift the viewpoint from my own woes to whatever God was trying to teach me.  

God has taught me two things so far. One is I no longer view my husband's work as "outside" the scope of family life. I used to pine for him to come home so he could help with the kids and be with me, but now I see that he is fulfilling his purpose towards our family as he works. His job is not something that gets in the way of my plans or our family, but something that supports and is necessary to the function of our household. I mean, I used to just think he worked to make money, and yes, we do need money to live. But his job is much more than just making money! Just like I worship God by loving and raising my kids, my husband is worshiping God as he pours out his time and his energy into his job to support me raising his kids. He works for our family, yes, but mostly he works for me. So I can stay home and raise our kids. So I better be sure to do a good job because I don't want him to be working in vain and I don't want to squander the sacrifice he is making as he works Monday through Friday. 

My husband, much like myself, has dreams that do not revolve around his job or office. But he, like me, must set those dreams aside to work to support our family and our home. He is slowly giving his life to his work so that I can give my life to our family.

When viewed God's way my husband's job goes from a hindrance to a beautiful picture of sacrifice not only to God but also to me and our family. I mean, I can't say I love that he works late, but I no longer feel bent out of shape and frustrated with him when he does. I see it just as an extension of him doing what he feels is right for his job, which in turn would be right for our family as his job supports our family and our lifestyle. I extend mercy towards my husband and towards myself and I buckle down, dig deep into God's word and try not to worry about my own temporary comfort. Parenting, motherhood, marriage: it's all work. And it's not about getting a break or completing a list. It's about God's glory.

The Japanese have a word that embodies a lot of what I discussed above, at least for me. Shō ga nai (pronouced SHOGANAI). It means (roughly) "it can't be helped". I often think of this Japanese word when my husband is working late and I am frustrated. Shō ga nai. Accept what cannot be helped.

Right now in this season, my husband working late is part of my existence. And God is teaching and stretching me as I deal with it. Who am I to refuse a trial given to me by God? Instead, I should turn to him and accept his lessons as they come. God is good and he knows what is best for me and best for our family. 

Monday, February 18, 2019


I finally finished this scarf I crochet in 100% alpaca. I bought this yarn before Reuben was born, and started on it when he was around 28 weeks. I am so glad to finally finish it!

I love this scarf. It's so soft and just a dream to wear.

What are you making lately? I have, in the works, one rainbow sweater for myself, a bunny hat for Reuben, a pair of socks, and two other project bags sitting on my shelf that I have forgotten the contents of. I am too lazy to stand up and look.

I hope you find time in your day for a hobby or two. I know I have learned, as a mother of two, to make time when I can. Often it is while during something else--while breastfeeding, or sitting on the floor playing one of Reuben's creative "games".

Sunday, February 10, 2019

when you are frustrated

I told my husband yesterday that I felt I had no purpose anymore. My life seems to consist of watching small children and cooking, and I struggle with feeling satisfied on a daily basis. I have all these dreams and ambitions and many of them now seem hopeless when faced with the work of raising and caring for my offspring.

My husband always is willing to listen to me, a trait I love about him. He is unfailingly patient and thoughtful. I am not patient. I am like a freight train going from 0 to 60.

So he listened to me pour out my heart and my struggles and than he challenged me to really stop and think about what I was saying. To identify my goals and list what makes me feel satisfied. Doing this really helped me understand some basic concepts about myself and the way I work. I like completing things, the task of crossing something off my list, of moving on to the next task. I like seeing a finished product and holding it tangibly in my hands. I love knitting, sewing, reading and writing. I dream of knitting and crochet projects to design and could devote myself for life to creating patterns for people to follow. It makes me happy, it brings me joy and most of all I get a sense of fulfillment from doing those things.

Raising children is never "done" at least not for the foreseeable future. Children are unpredictable. They require unfailing patience, they don't listen, they take swathes of emotional and mental energy. At present, it is not a task that fulfills me. I am constantly frustrated, tired, worn thin and baffled by my children. I can parent for hours but then I need some space to recharge and small children don't understand the concept of space. At least not mine, not yet.

With my husbands help I continued deconstructing my thought patterns. What would I want my life to look like, when I looked back upon it in 60 years? Decades of making knitting and crochet patterns and YouTube videos? Or decades of dying to myself and putting my trust in God for this season of raising kids? What would fulfill me in the long run? The answer to this question required no thought. I hope to look back upon life in 60 years (I'll be 92 so this is unlikely, but I can dream) and see that I ran the race with endurance and sacrificed my selfish desires on the alter of God's Will. I want my children to know they are loved, more than any dreams or passions I have. I want them to spend each day knowing they are special and seeing God's work in my life and theirs. Yes, it would be nice if I had some time to knit, but that is not the purpose God has for me right now.

In parenting it is easy to be consumed by frustration over the fact that nothing is going my way. I am daily bogged down by the emotional and mental weight of caring for small kids, cooking, cleaning and managing a house, communicating with my husband and raising Reuben and Rebekah. It's a alpine climb, like Anne says. But it is so worth it. There is meaning in what I am doing, even if I don't feel the sense of fulfillment at this time. And what more perfect opportunity can be found for being perfected by God's fire? He is pruning me as I devote myself to his task. He is teaching me so many things, but most of all I am learning that life is not about me. Life is not leisure, life is hard work. Life is devoting oneself to God and to his plan, regardless of ones own dreams and desires.

And I know in the end I will have no regrets because God's will for me is perfect and he is without flaw.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Goals in Motherhood and How I Mess Up

Often after a hard week I feel like I am suffocating. Drowning in small children. Smothered with laundry and dishes and mommy mommy mommy whines.

It's at this time that God reminds me that I can't do it alone. I can't mother on my own strength. Oh, how I love this reminder. Sarcasm, like coffee, is a necessity to motherhood.

But, why is this a lesson I have to keep relearning? I surrender only to find myself stuck back right in the mire of frustration, drowning in my own woes and with only the bleak realities of my life to keep me comfort. 

This cycle is not fun. I am not enjoying it. I want to break the cycle, I pray to break it. Teach me to see my kids the way you do, God, I cry. Let me mother them as fallen human beings, not as an Overseer who only wants to control them. Let my words be gentle and my patience everlasting, and for goodness sake let me make some time for them and not get caught up in homemaking perfection.

And for awhile it works. One blessed day my heart is in the right place, and I soak in the inner joy and peace that comes from yielding to God's plan and will in my life. I feel on top of the world! During this time I calmly parent my kids with grace and mercy that can only come from God above. I think "how can I point my child to God" when dealing with strife, and I remember to open my mouth with humility and love when contention arises in my marriage.

Two hours later it's like I am a totally different person. It only takes one small thing--today it was Reuben throwing up after dinner. After my carefully constructed, 45-minutes-to-cook-dinner, he had the audacity to throw up all my hard work. All over the carpet.

I yelled at him. My exact words were: don't throw up there throw up in the trash can, what are you doing because of course that is what every three year old needs to be told while they are tossing their cookies helplessly on the floor. Well, in this case it was buckwheat cake, but you get the idea.

Poor kid. After he was done he turned to me and said in the saddest voice mommy I am so sorry I was sick. can you please wash my hands I threw up on them. His blue eyes were full of tears as he hovered over the trash can, gulping for breath.

Oh, my heart.

I lost it. I gathered him up and washed his hands and started the shower for him and apologized for my upset tone and demanding attitude. I held him and read books and chastised my inner self for trying, once again, to micro-manage my child and forgetting, even for a second, how precious and beautiful he is.

An hour after his tossing-buckwheat-cake episode, he was back trying to climb and jump off everything and tearing around the house and I was back to contemplating motherhood and all the parts I do wrong and thanking God for his mercy and grace, because like His child oh boy do I need it.

When I am mothering, I forget that I am not God to my children. God is God to them. I am not there to correct every little thing.

God made me a mother. He wants me to find joy in this role. He wants me to love and worship as I mother. So often I just want to get through the day and I forget that I am here, in this moment, with my kids and my goal is to worship God.

My goal is to worship God. Not the dishes. Not a clean floor. Not a carefully prepared meal or good behavior. Those things have their place, but they are not the epoch of my existance.

My goal is to worship God.

Monday, January 28, 2019

The problem with discipline

In my last blog post I talked about how having children taught me discipline and I explained some of the things I do to manage my household. I am now going to talk about the other side of the coin: how I rage against the need of discipline, and how my own selfish nature throws darts in the cogs of my well-ordered life.

Raising a family and being a mother is a lot of work. I love it 85 percent of the time but the other 15 percent leaves me curled up in my armchair throwing a pity party. I vacillate from anger over our tight finances, anxiety about our cluttered house, my lack of free time and the never ending laundry rotation. I want a break. I deserve a break, I tell myself. Because sometimes after working hard to feed, teach, clothe and love my children, I am emotionally and mentally worn out. And I have to feed, teach, clothe and love my children every day. Parenting is 24/hrs around the clock.

As a mother, I often get stuck in this self-defeating negative cycle. I am worn out, so I crab at my kids. My kids act up because I am crabby causing me to loose my temper and yell at them. Then after I apologize and calm down, I need a break. Trying to find a break takes all day only for me to be too worn out to cook supper, leaving me frustrated and angry. Husband comes home to a frazzled mess of a house with no food to greet him and a snappy, anxious wife who desperately wants him to hold a baby so she can escape. I will also mention that the above cycle makes me feel like a bad mom, causing guilt and anger to simmer in my soul. Why can't I manage everything like everyone else? Why is this such a struggle?

During this time I just want my husband to take both kids (no matter how tired he may be) while I go check out at a coffee shop and relax on the internet. Or knit. Or crochet. All my discipline goes right out the window and I throw what I like to call an “adult tantrum”. I want to be left alone. I want to do something for myself. My kids bother me and I am easily annoyed and angry over every small thing. Instead of thinking of all the things my husband does for us, I start obsessing over everything he does not do. I'm not a pretty person when I am stuck in that negative mindset, nor am I easy to be around.

After several rotations through the above cycle I finally (with the help of my counselor) began to recognize the lies I get caught up in. And while I still get stuck in my pity party mode, I now am working on breaking the cycle and escaping my negative thinking and attempting to generate more positive reactions to the things I can't control. My counselor is helping me identify the cognitive distortions I am allowing to control my life.

For one, I am participating in all or nothing thinking. I am seeing things as black and white (I'm a bad mom because I didn't make dinner/ yelled at my kids). I am allowing that tiny fact to color my perception of myself. I'm no longer a struggling sinner, saved by grace. With my black and white thinking I am a total failure for not making dinner. This is a huge overgeneralizaion. I am allowing this single negative event to cast me into the depths of a guilty pity-party. My mental filter is skewed as I obsess over a single detail and dwell on it exclusively, like one moment eclipses all others in a day.

Motherhood is not the sum of one moment. Yes, I yell at my kids sometimes when I get frustrated. Yes, sometimes I am too tired to make dinner. But I need to stop jumping to conclusions when things go different than I imagined! I should not allow the fact that I lost my temper to discolor my entire reality and destroy my entire day.

If I am honest with you and with myself, though: sometimes a small thing that goes wrong does destroy my entire day, or days.

Where is God when this happens? Right where he as always been. It is me who has moved away from my biblical foundations and forgotten his promises. It's me who is is trying to manage my own life without anchoring myself in the word and surrendering my purpose to his glory.

I am forgetting that everything comes to me by the loving hand of the father. God is with me. Many are the afflictions of the righteous (Psalm 34). Trials show us how to live by faith. And faith conquers kingdoms ( Hebrews 11:32). Don't forget, dear mother, that the Lord disciplines the ones he loves as a father disciplines as son (Hebrews 12:3).

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer (Romans 12:12). Don't let one moment destroy the future or one tragedy blot out all the light.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Practical Advice for Managing Motherhood

Being a mom to a baby/toddler is so, so hard. It feels like nonstop work with a few pockets of rest. Rest, for this mom (me) of 2 kids under 4, has to be carefully scheduled. And I need rest, so I have to make sure to schedule it or I will quite literally fall apart. On top of being a mother, I surmount other obstacles. Like my husband working late. And our food allergies—I have to do a lot of cooking. And, of course, on top of managing a household, I have to try and teach my 3.5 year old patience, kindness and the alphabet when I don't feel patient or kind myself. 

Through the years I have learned a lot about managing my time. Practical advice for managing motherhood—or you can call it tips for stressed out moms who need ideas. This blog post will be full of the tips and tricks parenting has taught me about, well, parenting. Motherhood is 24/7 baby, so roll up your sleeves and dig in. This season is full of joy if you just know where to look. And a little bit of discipline never hurt anyone.

That was the first thing motherhood taught me. Discipline. I have never been what you would call “disciplined” in my life. I used to quit things when they get too hard. In school, I gave minimal effort when I felt like it, or no effort when I didn't feel like it. I followed my whims and for the most part (before kids) was content with doing what I could, when I could. Or putting off what didn't appeal to me.

Motherhood, as I have said before on this blog—hit me like a freight train. It only took one day for me to become an anxious stressed out mess. When they placed that thatprecious 10 pound 6oz baby boy into my arms (that yes, I delivered vaginally, may we pray for my nether regions) it's like I went from a relaxed, happy wife to a irritable, cranky mother all at one moment. It didn't help that I had an emotionally high needs baby who didn't sleep and who had serious food allergies that I had to contend with, on top of managing motherhood. 

I've already talked about how that first year was the worst year of my life.

But the second year something changed. Well, someones. Me, and my husband and my son. We all adjusted. And it wasn't something (at least for me) that happened naturally. It took a lot of hard work as I gave up a lot of control, praying that I would trust in God's plan, and accept his grace. Somewhere along the way lazy me found discipline. And learning to be disciplined changed my life. Changed my motherhood. Changed me from a sourpuss into a planner, from a grouch into a willing servant, giving me the power and the strength to serve my family.

What happened is this. I saw that the dishes, laundry, floor, all needed to be cleaned. And if I put it off today, it only grew worse overnight. And the bigger the mess, the more I did not want to clean it and the more resentful my heart was. Not only did I have these chores—but I had a small demanding child to take care of too! But I also saw that my mood was lighter, happier when these chores were done. When the house is clean I feel less stressed. And thus, somewhere along the way I realized that 1) I needed to clean because no one else was going to clean and 2) if I did it when it needed to be done, it was less work and caused the least amount of stress.

Being a minimalist is somehow caught up in all my discipline. Because not only did I start to clean and schedule chores to manage my time the best, I started to declutter as much as I could so I had less to clean and organize. It's all one big circle.

Somewhere a long the way doing what I had to do became a romance, a machine of enjoyment, as I worshiped God as I worked. I don't know exactly how or when it happened, but it did. I think it might be a God thing. God working slowly on my heart to help me be disciplined and to love the motherhood role he placed me in.

So, discipline. And rest. I am disciplined enough to get the chores done that I know I need to every day, I am wise enough to minimize my tasks so that I don't feel overwhelmed or stressed. (Okay, I still get overwhelmed and stressed, but its a lot better than it used to be). And here is the thing: discipline begets rest. When I get my chores done, I can rest. I can take breaks between chores and I don't have to worry or feel stressed about “all the things I didn't do” because I know the plan and I've scheduled them out so they all get done.

It is a weight off my back for sure.

Now, when I say schedule—I don't mean like I have every hour of every day scheduled out or even written down. What I have is a loose handful of chores that I make sure get done every week so that our house runs smoothly. My goal isn't to micromanage myself. My goal is literally: can we can find what we want where it is supposed to be?

So every day I do 1-2 loads of laundry. We cloth diaper, and I wash diapers every other day, so the days I wash diapers I do 2 loads of laundry. Every other day I do 1. This way everything gets washed each week. Sometimes I do skip a day of laundry, and then I just do 3 the next get the idea. We grocery shop on Saturdays, together as a family. I do the dishes either after breakfast or after dinner if I don't get to them after breakfast. Sometimes if I desire a clean kitchen for my anxiety, I wash dishes in the morning and the evening. I love to wake up to a clean kitchen!

I sweep the floor after every meal because if I don't, Becky will crawl through the crumbs and make a bigger mess.

Other chores, I do weekly or bi-weekly. For example, I clean the bathrooms once a week. I wish I could do it twice a week, but I just have not been able too. I vacuum every three days, I change the sheets bi-weekly.

One of the biggest pet peeves of mine is trash that is not in the trash can. Recipes, drive-through coffee cups, disposable bags, wrappers for things we bought...I always make sure to put trash directly in the trash. I don't let it pile up into a mess, and I don't let the kids play with it. This drastically reduces the clutter in my home!

Another thing I do is I am always putting everything back where it goes all the time. Every time I walk to the bathroom I pick up things I see out of place and put them back. Like the VHS tapes under the TV. Becky loves to pull them out, and I let her because it distracts her and is harmless. But then I go back and fix them 2-3 times a day so it doesn't get totally out of control. This concept may seem like a lot, but cleaning with this method spreads the work throughout the day, and keeps me from becoming overwhelmed by a huge mess as evening looms.

I have a disciplined daily routine too. I wanted to make sure I took all my supplements, got to brush my teeth (before Becky fell asleep on me) and exercised twice a day for my blood sugar (I have borderline type two diabetes, usually called insulin resistance). I get all these things done. It was hard when Becky was really little, but once she hit six/seven months meeting my personal daily goals became easier. Now that she is one, I try to make sure I brush my hair every day, but that sometimes does not happen. Life with kids is what it is. I know when goals are fundamental and when they are superfluous.

If you want to check out my other posts in the practical advice for managing motherhood series, you can below. #1 is Discipline, #2 is Letting Go of Control, #3 is Build a Space of Calm and Peace, #4 Ask For Help and #5 is Love. All #1-5 are integral to managing my day and enable me to (mostly) live a life free from stress and anxiety. Motherhood is not an easy walk in the woods by any means, and I am learning to gird my loins. Onward and upwards, weary travelers.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Becky Bunny Hat

Becky needed a new hat. So I made her a bunny hat. It is so cute I literally squeal when I see her in it! I finished it right before bedtime and had to take these pictures even if it was dark, and she was ready for bed and not ready for hat wearing. I know myself: I need to take pictures when I can, because Life Happens. She loves her hat, most of the time. We wear it everywhere now, on walks, to church, and even on grocery shopping outings.

sad bunny

This is based on the crochet Ribbed Bunny Bonnet pattern I found on Ravelry. I made half the hat following the pattern, got bored at reading the pattern off my screen and made up the other half myself.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

2019 Update

December was awful. I don't even want to think about how awful it was. January, I hope, will be better. Or at least, I pray I will have a positive mood regardless!

After a stressful, horrible thing happened to a person in my extended family (that I am still praying about), mid December hit us like a freight train. Without fail, 24 hours after “the stressful family event” we all caught the stomach bug. The kids had it the first day, and 24 hours later Brian and I both succumbed. It was awful. Luckily my mother in law was amazing and came over and took care of the kids while Brian and I both puked our guts out. I don't know what we would have done without her, I could not move off the couch. I could barely nurse. Movement made my eyes swim. I had visions of what the first trimester of pregnancy was like and remember vehemently telling myself not to get pregnant again because constant nausea is horrible.

celebrating Christmas with family when we arrived home
Then Christmas happened, and we traveled. It went smoothly, but traveling brings out all my anxiety! We arrived home only to have me catch the worst eye infection I have ever had in my entire life. My whole left face was swollen and I was absolutely miserable. I went to the doctor three times and I never go to the doctor! It was exactly how my husband dreamed that our last week of 2018 would go, of course—he was off work and thus spent most of his vacation taking care of a sick wife and two small children. That last sentence is sarcasm.

Now January is here. I love January. It's my birthday month, and now my daughters birthday month too! As the new year dawned I was still recovering from conjunctivitis and scrambling to get back into my routine. My routine is the soft safety net that makes life bearable and places the chaos of managing my almost toddler and my almost child into a semblance of order. Being a mom of two wilds isn't easy, ya'll. I am an woebegone mess without my morning routine! I am a lost, dejected mess without my night routine.

It's January 8th now. My eye has just a smidgen of recovery to traverse. My routine is back in place and my wilds are doing their wild thing while I sit and contemplate 2019. 2019 with two babies. 2019 where I met my weight goals and feel great about my body. 2019 that I hope remains pregnancy free. 

My only “resolutions” this year are culinary in nature. Sure, I'd like to publish my book and have more of a personal life, but I don't think that is going to happen so I am not going to set myself up for disappointment. Instead, I would like to bake homemade bread and make nut milk at home to save us money and to reduce preservatives in our life. So far those goals have been going well! Reuben loves to bake with me and making nut milk is so easy I can't believe I have gone this long without trying it. It tastes 600x better than the stuff they sell at the store, too. 

this is the only pic I could find of me! new resolution: take pictures of self
I have a lot of fears to face in 2019. My daughter turns one and my son turns four. I approach mid30s. Homeschooling is right around the corner (in our state it starts at 5) and I still have a house and a marriage to manage. I have so many dreams and ideas and no time to do them. For example, I would love to make some YouTube videos for my main YouTube channel. I would also love to have a baby-free night with my husband. One of our kids goes to bed easily now, but the other does not, causing me to hold said kid from their bedtime until my bedtime! It's only a season, I know. But I am tired of this season and ready for the next!

I also want to start a mom club or mom meet up at my house! We just need to fence in our yard and I can do that. I need some society, and stressed out moms sound just like the kind of people that would love to let their kids run wild in my yard while I serve them tea.

I also want to spend more time writing here, or writing in general. And I would love to have a clean kitchen floor for more than 2 hours of the day.

So many goals. So little time. 2019 will fly by. All I can hope for is that I honor God through it and cover myself in prayer and grace. 

Monday, January 7, 2019

Sweater Redo

This has been my favorite sweater for two years. Unfortunately I spilled some bleach on it and was about to throw it out...when I realized that I could cut it up and sew it into a smaller sweater for Reuben.

I was able to sew late at night and didn't get very good pictures, but there it is. I also did not adjust the neck but it is what it is. He loves it and my old sweater gets a new life! Perfect for new years.

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