Ready…aim…shoot.

Fear and parenting…they seem to go hand in hand for most of us, right?  I have never experienced fear in my life as I have as a parent.  As soon as I had a little one under my care, the world began to look a lot scarier and a whole lot darker.  Have you ever had the overwhelming feeling of fear and asked yourself, “WHY did I bring innocent babies into this dark and terrifying world?”  Pain and suffering abound.  We hear about terrorism everyday, as well as racism, bullying, drugs, suicide, and crimes against children.  Those are only a few of the frightening things our children are faced with as they grow up.  Fear comes as naturally to a parent as the need to protect them from ever experiencing any of these things.   

  

Sometimes, the fear is almost debilitating.  It sits on my chest like a weight and I can think of everything awful thing that could possibly happen to my family.  It becomes a very dark place for me, and I will go to it easily when I am allowing myself to worry and dwell on the darkness of the world.  Plain and simple, it’s the work of the Evil One.  He makes me believe that only I have control over what happens to my children.  That am the one who protects them.  And then I am overwhelmed and drowning in self-doubt and fear.

Don’t lose heart yet.  (2 Corinthians 4)  If we allow Him, God can work powerfully through us as parents.

It helps me to remember that our Father told us do not be afraid.  Do not worry.  Do not be anxious.  (Matthew 10:28, 1 John 4:18, Psalm 118:6, Hebrews 13:6, Matthew 6, Phillippians 4:6)  The Bible commands us not to worry.  Will we chose to obey that command?  When I find myself overwhelmed with fear and worry, I have to remind myself that by doing that, I am disobeying my Father.  

  

Let me share something that The Lord is teaching me.  One of my favorite Scriptures of all time is Psalm 127.  Verse 4 says that “Children born to a young man are like arrows in a warrior’s hands.”  I love that!  They are arrows in our hands.  We, as parents, have the ability to sharpen our arrows.  When our arrows are sharp and ready to be used we must intentionally aim them at this dark world to be used as instruments of light.  Our arrows of light are to be sharpened, aimed, and shot into the world to be used by God.

  

So when I fear that the world will overcome, overtake, overwhelm my children, I must remember that my children were created to be used by God.  They are to be salt and light to this dying, dark, flavorless world.  How will they ever be used if I do everything in fear and hold them back from what they were created to do?  Every day, every interaction with my children is an opportunity to sharpen and mold.

I often pray over my children (and often out loud with them so they hear the words I speak on their behalf).  

I pray that they will place their trust in The Lord at an early age.

I pray for all my children to become leaders.  

I pray that they will be bold and brave with their lives.  

I pray that in their lives they will stand up for Christ, biblical truth, and those that don’t have a voice.  

I pray that their lives would be marked by complete devotion to The Lord in whatever they choose to do.  

These are powerful prayers.  These prayers fight fear and darkness.  These prayers are heard by an all-powerful God who loves them fiercely.  

Join me in fighting fear.  Pray power over your children and know that your prayers are heard.  Let’s put off the fear and worry about things we can’t control.  Let’s parent our kids with boldness and bravery.  We are the warriors, these are our arrows.  Without fear we can sharpen, refine, aim, shoot, and watch what magnificent work The Lord can do as a result of our obedience.  

It’s Spring in more ways than one.

I’ve written mostly about the hard and messy moments of being a mother.  Those days seem endless.  Sure, those days have beautiful moments in the mess.  Anytime The Lord is present in our homes, in our days, there’s always beauty.  Those are the days when I cling to Him and the strength He provides.  His Word gives me a light.  He assures me that I’m not alone.  I am seen, I am known, I am loved by Him.

But sometimes, things just smooth themselves out.  Silas is finally sleeping so well and has stopped being fussy all the time.  He’s happy and entertains himself during the day by playing and exploring.  He eats so much better than he was.  What a difference two months have made!  The difference is HUGE.  



Also, we are settling in well here.  We are meeting new people all the time (which we love!) We love our church and our community group.  We love our neighborhood and the community here.  I am so thankful that God placed us in this city at this time.  I think we are over the shock this huge change has been!

Audrey and Maddox are thriving as well.  They haven’t made a lot of friends, but they have a few.  They get along great and have become best of friends.  We have our weekly routines; library, park (when the weather is nice), dance (for Audrey), community group, and church.  They are settling in so well.

I am so thankful for this time right now.  It seems that as Spring makes it’s debut, it brings in new life to our home and family.  It’s during these times that I can relax and enjoy my strengths as a mother to these three.  Though I do still need to be reminded that He is here in the small moments of my days; the way my baby snuggles next to me before bed time, the dancing my daughter does in the living room, the way my son notices the bugs and the worms outside.  I can see His beauty in a full night’s sleep, in a slow morning snuggled on the couch, or a bouquet of weeds picked just for me.  My heart overflows.  These days are so good.


I am so thankful.  May I not take these days and moments with God for granted.  I want to use them to draw nearer to Him.  I want to see his handiwork in every day and become more awestruck.  He is so good to provide mamas with seasons like this after a hard one.  It’s refreshing.  It’s SPRING!

In an effort to keep things real in my life, I have to share the beauty of these months with you.  Motherhood is not always hard with ugly, endless days.  There are good days and months as well.  If you’re not there yet, you will be.  Cling to Jesus every single day and seek out those beauty-filled moments.

I know our family will go through more months of sickness, no sleep, general growing pains, or maybe even hard and unforeseen trials, if that’s what God wills, but for now I feel like celebrating these good days!



How did I get here?!

I was driving down the highway today on the way to run an errand and the thought struck me, “how did I GET here?” This strange city, this strange highway. These kids I’m rushing to run errands for. This has become a familiar feeling. You’d think I would figure it out by now. I live in Arkansas, far away from my family and close friends, far away from everything I grew up with. I am running on 3.5 hours of sleep, because even though my baby slept fine last night, I didn’t. That is becoming more and more frequent. I have three kids under 4, a big messy house, dishes piled in the sink, a mountain of laundry waiting for me, Christmas cookies to bake, gifts to wrap, and grocery shopping that needs to be done. Wasn’t it just yesterday that I was a carefree 20 year old, driving around way too fast in my shiny, red Camaro? Wasn’t it just yesterday that I was going to concerts every weekend and sleeping in until 11:00? How did I GET here?!

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That life was good. I loved being 20. I actually remember thinking to myself, “I LOVE my life right now. I love it.” I got to do what I wanted, buy what I wanted, sleep when I wanted. I had responsibilities, of course (a job, a Sunday school class to teach) but I lived a simpler life for sure. Life was working during the week to make some money for the weekend. (Have I mentioned that money is NOT my strong point? And that’s why I’m thankful for Micah!)

It’s not that I don’t love my life right now at 30. In Arkansas. With 3 kids. My life is still really good and I still love my life. It’s just…different, harder, and a little messier. I’m more tired. And four people depend on me on a daily basis to be who I am: wife and mom. Nobody depended on me at 20. No one.

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I struggle with all the feelings that come with this stage in life. Feelings like failure, unworthiness, and loneliness. My lack of sleep only makes those feelings worse. It takes a lot of prayer, perspective, and grace to step back and think “those are only feelings. They are not the truth.” I am not failing. I fail sometimes in the small battles, yes. But when I am relying on The Lord’s strength, not mine, I am not failing. When I am going about the business He gave me with joy and obedience, I am not failing. And Who’s really in control here? It’s not me, although I like to think it is, sometimes.

I am not unworthy of this calling of mother and wife. I am worthy because He makes me worthy. He gave me this life. I am worthy simply because of Him.

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The feeling of loneliness comes with the territory of being a wife and mom far from everything familiar. But I knew this would happen. It’s not a surprise to me. And really, I am not that lonely, it’s only a feeling. I have my family. I have a few new friends. I have Facebook (ha! I don’t actually think that counts).

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The Lord is so faithful beyond my circumstances. Because of Him I have joy and hope. Because of Him I can do this. This is a season. Only a season. I can live it with doubt and insecurities, or I can choose to live it with joy and hope because of the One who gave me this abundant life. I want to choose to live right in the moment with intentionality and with purpose instead of wishing this season would hurry up and move on. This is where I am. In the messy house with the three kids and the husband. Sleep deprived and barely ever getting dressed outside of yoga pants. In Arkansas. Here I am. And He is faithful always.

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Making your week nights easier!

Mama Life is so busy for most. Some of us are running our kids all over creation to all of their activities. Some of us are not at that stage yet, but our lives with our babies at home are exhausting, we are sleep deprived and just trying to stay on top of the laundry! One of the last things we think about sometimes is dinner for our family. But where else are we going to get any energy from?? We need nourishing food for the whole family. Nobody wants sick kiddos or mommy. Home made food is the best kind of food for energy and staying healthy. It’s fun to eat out and eat some junk every now and then, but it takes it’s toll eventually on our weight, energy, and health. I hope you can take at least one or two of these ideas and run with it! Make and change them into something that suits your family and your taste.

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On the nights when it’s hard to get dinner on the table, I have some great go-to meals. Maybe they can help you when you need a little dinner inspiration.

But first? I keep some staples in the pantry, fridge, and freezer that help me out so I’m never in a jam. Here’s some of the things that help me out:

Pantry:
Brown rice
Canned black beans
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts)
Dried fruit (cherries, cranberries)
Chicken stock (from the store)
Onions
Garlic
Tomato purée
Tomato paste
Pasta (spaghetti, penne, macaroni, linguini)
Dried beans (Great Northern, navy, small red, split peas)

Freezer:
Chicken breasts
Sausage
Ground chuck
Frozen peas
Chicken stock (homemade)
Ham hocks

Refrigerator:
Corn and flour tortillas
Eggs
Salad greens
Broccoli
Carrots
Celery
Goat cheese
Parmesan
Cheddar
Soy sauce
Dijon
Lime
Lemon
Cilantro
Parsley
Rosemary
Butter
Buttermilk
Bacon
Sriracha
Salsa
Sour cream

Now, I am probably opposite of most people, but I usually feel like doing most of my cooking during the week. Micah gets home around 5:00, takes over kid-duty, and I head to the kitchen for some time alone (mostly) to cook something yummy. It’s relaxing. I love it. Weekends are just so chill around here that I’m not in the mindset to get something together for dinner. So for the most part, I plan crockpot meals or something simple on Saturdays and Sundays. They cook all day, the house smells incredible, and there are usually left-overs for the next day. Win, win, win!

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We have some favorites that make their way on our dinner table regularly:

Spaghetti
Whole roast chicken
Sour cream noodle bake
Chicken enchiladas
Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup
Taco salad
Lasagna
Meatloaf

But sometimes I just don’t have the ingredients, energy, or time to make one of these favorites and I just need something simple where I can use whatever ingredients I have on hand. That’s where these gems come in handy.

My go-to weekday meals usually include:

Tacos. We put whatever we’ve got in them. They’re not always traditional tacos. If there’s no meat, we do scrambled egg tacos! Black beans, onions, salsa…yum. We use whatever veggies, meat, and cheese that goes well together and throw them in a tortilla.

Rice bowls. We usually do brown rice, but white is faster so that’s helpful when there’s not much time! Ours usually include broccoli, chicken or sausage, onions, peas, a vinegary sauce that I usually make at the last minute and topped with Parmesan. But again, lots of veggies and meat would go great on top of rice. You can make these Asian or Mexican inspired too. Just use what you’ve got!

Pizza. Make or buy a great crust. I like this one. Use sauce, or don’t! Pizzas are great with just cheese and veggies. Much more Italian. Any cheese you’ve got, Parmesan, mozzarella, cheddar, ricotta, goat cheese, Gorgonzola…so many options! Some veggies we like are onions (fresh or caramelized), bell peppers, mushrooms, and tomatoes. Any meat is great, do a white cheese and chicken pizza. Or a taco pizza. Marguerita pizzas are one of our favorites in the summer with fresh basil.

Pancakes and bacon. Buttermilk pancakes with bananas or blueberries in them are the kids’ favorites. Micah’s favorite? These peanut butter pancakes from Joy the Baker. They’re incredible!

Omelettes. They’re so filling, and you can get your veggies in easily. We put whatever cheese and veggies we have. Add some sriracha or salsa on top and you’ll make your man so happy. At least, it makes my man so happy.

Or weekend meals include:

(most of these are cold-weather recipes because they’re super warm and filling)

Ham and beans in the crockpot. I like this recipe. But I chop up a whole onion instead of using onion powder. I bake up some cornbread to go with them right before we eat.

Split pea soup. I like this recipe. I use my homemade stock for this because it’s packed with flavor. Cornbread goes great with this too!

Red beans and rice. I like this recipe. But I tone down the spices because it’s too much for kiddos. Again, make some cornbread and you’ve got a winner! This recipe makes tons of left-overs for us!

Pulled pork. Put some bar-b-que sauce on top and you can do pulled pork tacos after church. I like sour cream, cilantro, and fresh onions on top of mine!

Salad. On Sunday nights, if we’ve had a big meal, we like to eat light. Fresh greens, chicken, caramelized onions, dried cherries, walnuts, goat cheese, balsamic vinaigrette. Done.

Maybe these ideas can make your Mama Life just a little easier? It’s all about keeping it simple. And yummy. That’s important.

You can find a lot of my family’s favorite recipes on my Pinterest board “our favorites”, if you’re interested!

Happy cooking!

What it’s REALLY like to be married to Micah. {It’s our anniversary!}

We’ve been married eight years today!

These eight years have been spent loving a man who is down-to-earth and content. He is happiest with the simple things in life. He’s happy with his family, his home, his job. He needs little else. I love that about him.

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His heart is sensitive to The Lord. He leads us, guides us, teaches the children, and loves me selflessly. He sees the Lord’s work in our lives and always stops to give Him the praise.

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He shows me grace. Every day I am amazed at his ability to show me so much grace. He is patient in my shortcomings and never brings light to my weaknesses. He knows my strengths and he praises them.

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He is compassionate. He is sensitive toward anyone who’s hurting or needs help. He is particularly compassionate towards children, and he’s passionately pro-life.

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But I think my favorite thing about my husband is his bravery. He knew he wanted more for himself, for our family. He didn’t want to settle. So in 2014, he made the brave decision to change careers and states. He has doubted himself so many times along the way, and it’s been a HARD year. We made the right decision though, and I admire his bravery so much.

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Countless times this year I have thought that there is no one else I’d rather do this crazy life with. No one. And I couldn’t do it alone. I’m so incredibly grateful for him and the example of Christ’s love that he is to me.

Happy 8th anniversary, Love.

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Monday morning mess

So how many times have the younger moms heard from the older moms, “enjoy every minute while they’re young, they grow up so fast!” Hundreds of items, right? And it’s great advice. In fact, one of my goals for this year is to keep learning how to embrace this season instead of wishing it away. I try to enjoy this season, and so often I do.

But then, this morning happened.

Actually, let’s back up. It started last night (Sunday night).

Silas didn’t go to bed for the night until 12:30 am. (Advice?! Anyone??) I take a shower (finally) and Micah and I go to bed. But I can’t sleep. I can’t turn my brain off. This happens pretty frequently.

At 1:45 am, I still haven’t fallen asleep and Silas decides to wake up and take another bottle (he doesn’t eat much during the day and gets super hungry at night…again, advice?!). After his bottle I can’t put him back to sleep. I’m just sitting there in bed with him, he’s crying off and on, and I’m thinking “I hate this. I hate the night time. I just want sleep, and rest, and I want a baby that sleeps!” Silas is such a mystery sometimes. He has no rhythms, he changes daily. He gets mad at the smallest things and I am baffled at how to help him most of the time. Bless it.

Micah took him again (by now it’s like 2:30 and Micah has to get up early.) And of course, Silas goes to sleep for him. But during the night, Silas wakes up every hour or so just to cry, moan, and need his paci back in his mouth. So that’s how often I woke up too.

Oh, and I had my alarm set for 6:30. I always set it, because I think if the night goes well and I get lots of sleep (which does happen every once in a while!) I’ll feel rested enough to get up and have my quiet time. Well, somewhere during the night I turned it off because I haven’t slept and there’s NO way I’m getting up early! Most nights (um, mornings) my best sleep is somewhere between 5 am to 8 am. So, I felt that I needed that this morning.

Silas wakes me up this morning, much later than I wanted to get up, and I hear him pooping. Uh-oh. Nine times out of ten, his poop goes everywhere. I go to pick him up, he’s perfectly happy, but he has soaked his pajamas and blanket in poop. GREAT start to my morning. I take him straight to the bath and wash him off, throwing the pajamas out with the diaper.

After his bath, I put all of his blankets in the wash and put him in his walker in the kitchen so I can get the other two their cereal. Oh, wait. There’s no clean bowls. I wash some bowls. I have to move the huge, empty pizza box off of the kitchen table for the kids to have enough room to eat.

After they had their cereal, I bring Silas to the living room to have a bottle. He takes two sips and decides he’s mad about something (who knows what) and won’t take anymore. After trying on and off through the next hour, I finally get him to take only 4.5 oz.

I told the kids to bring me their Bible. I am not letting this morning get the best of us! So we read stories about Jesus and I pray over them and our morning is somewhat salvaged.

I finally have time to make some coffee. I change another poopy diaper, clean the living room with one hand and Silas on my hip while I waited for his blankets in the dryer because he was so tired and needed to go down for his morning nap. I rock him to sleep while I’m drinking my coffee. He’s finally out, so I lay him down and guess what? He wakes right up! Forget it, I leave him in there to go back to sleep. I managed to do the dishes and drink some more coffee while I waited and listened for him to fall asleep. And he does go to sleep more easily than I thought he would. Thank goodness. And now to fold the laundry…

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Have I made your life look really good right about now? Maybe you just feel relieved because your life is crazy too. Or maybe my morning looks pretty good compared to yours.

I don’t know. I find myself wishing for a different season on days like today. It’s hard to embrace this season when you’re sleep-deprived and simply hanging on by a thread. Days like today are not rare. In fact, most days look like this. I’ve told Micah before, “I can’t keep doing this with no sleep. I can’t.” But I do. Most of the time these days are so hard because I tend to lose sight of Who’s helping me. He didn’t put me in this Mom Life and leave me here on my own.

And you know what? This day had it’s beauty. My kids played together like the best friends they’ve become, they prayed for each other to learn to obey Mommy and Daddy, and Audrey read her first book! This season, it’s precious. There will always be dirty, messy parts of every season. I will get more sleep one day. I will make it through a week without crying. I won’t always have to clean poop!

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I’d love it if you joined me this year in my goal: to learn to live and be present in this season. Let’s be thankful and intentional. Let’s choose JOY in this calling as Mom. Because we are seen, we are known, we are loved.

I’ll show you mine if you show me yours

My big goal for 2015 was to start a blog.  Well, YAY for me because I accomplished it!  Nothing else productive may happen for the rest of the year.

Just kidding, I hope.

But really, so often I find myself with words, prayers, and stories bubbling up inside me and I am always wishing I had a place to write them down.  Because, chances are, some other mom feels the same.  Maybe we can relate, maybe we can encourage each other.  Maybe we can celebrate our battles won or maybe we can relate in our failures.  I know I’m not alone.

Unless you’re Rachel Zoe, being a mother is not always glamorous.  {If she offered to switch lives for a day, I wouldn’t say no!}  It’s hard, messy, heartbreaking, and it brings out the ugly in us.  It’s frustrating to read any outlet of social media and see moms who look like they have it all together.  It makes me want to scream at them to just be real.  Just show us your mess, just tell us about your tears, your heartbreak.  Don’t misunderstand me, I LOVE seeing moms be awesome and strong and creative.  It’s inspiring.  There are so many moms I know that I wish I could be more like, they are God-given examples to me.

Let’s be real.  Sometimes the opinions and expectations of others stop me from putting my real, messy mom-self out there.  I’m not going to let that stop me anymore.  I am who I am, and I’m doing the best I can.  You are too, so let’s be real together.  Please?  I need this.  I bet you do too.  I’ll show you my mess if you show me yours.  And together, with the Lord, we’re gonna make it into something beautiful to present before Him.  Our best work.  We’re going to encourage each other, heap grace on each other, and then celebrate together because we’re awesome moms!  Awesome mom does not equal perfect mom.  Let’s be imperfect together.  Let’s encourage each other.

Our God, in His power and grace, gave us these children to raise for HIS GLORY.  Let’s do it.  He has gone ahead of us and prepared the way.  He walks along beside us and teaches us how.  He gives us creativity and wisdom and grace {have I said that word enough?}  Grace.  Let’s stop passing judgement on each other and embrace each other as mothers who are trying to please the Lord in everything we do.

I still have some work to do on the blog, but this is a start.  Join me?

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