How to Pursue Success Without a Degree

I’m so sorry I have not been very consistent with my posts! However, today marks a new series that I am going to try! Let me know how you like it! I’m super excited about this series because I can share some awesome stories and inspiration with you that I can’t share from personal experience! We are going to call this new series Extraordinary Women! Come back the third week of every month to hear some extraordinary stories and inspiration from women I have learned so much from and am inspired by everyday!

That being said, I am excited to introduce you to our first Extraordinary Woman! She was my boss at Chick-fil-a in high school and for a reason only God knew, we stayed in touch, eventually living together for a short phase of life. She has seen me through so much and is always there to provide a listening ear and words of wisdom. (even when the truth hurts).

I’ve always admired her willingness to do any job and to truly live out her faith that God does provide for his children! Okay, I’ll stop talking and let her tell her story! Thank you Connie! I’m so glad to call you friend!

My Life Without a Degree

I’ve lived my twenty years as an adult without a college degree, and managed to get along pretty well. We won’t go into the reasons or thought processes about why I quit college, because that would take all day. What I want to talk about is how I made it work, why it worked for me, and what I’ve learned from it.

How I Made It Work:

1) I didn’t consider any job above me. If I needed work, I would go find a job. I can’t say that I didn’t have times of feeling like others looked at me a little differently – as “uneducated.” Now that I am past my insecure young adulthood phase, I’m beyond that. But no matter my worry about what other people thought, I didn’t let it keep me from making a living. At times, that meant having three part-time jobs. I kind of liked doing that, actually. It broke up the monotony. For example, I’ve been a pizza delivery driver, a farm-hand, and a carpentry assistant.

2) I worked hard at every job I had. Everything worth doing is worth doing well. “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” Colossians 3:23-24 I can’t say that I’ve been passionate about most (if any) of the jobs I’ve had. But that hasn’t stopped me from working really hard at all of them. The result? People always wanted to promote me and give me more responsibility, which, of course, equaled more money. Doing a good job IS recognized because in our world, it is, unfortunately, uncommon. I could have moved further up the ladder at many of the companies I worked for, but, honestly, I learned that the more responsibility I took on, the less I liked the job. So, after a few jobs where I eventually quit because the stress became more than I wanted in a position, I stopped taking the promotions and extra tasks.

3) I learned whatever what was put in front of me. I have done clerical work, and one of those positions grew to include bookkeeping. I was taught how to use Quickbooks by a CPA, learned how to manage business taxes, etc. That knowledge has been invaluable to me. I couldn’t have known that, in the future, my husband would start a non-profit and I would start my own business. If I hadn’t had that groundwork, our bookkeeping/CPA fees would have put us OUT of business by now. And the power tool skills I learned as a carpentry assistant have helped me out on many a home project. Not to mention the culinary concepts I learned while working for a caterer. I can now edit a recipe with some confidence.

4) Learn what ISN’T put in front of you. I do a lot of things myself in order to save money, so that life doesn’t have as much overhead as some people’s, and I can live happily on a smaller budget. You have to be intentional about making this possible. I make my own laundry detergent, shampoo, and body wash. I cut my own hair. I do my own yard work. I do my own taxes. Things not to skimp on? Insurance and shoes. Trust me.

Why It Worked for Me

1) I got to do the things I loved. I said above that I wasn’t passionate about any of my jobs, which some of you may have found sad. What I didn’t say is that, most of the time, (there have been some stressful eras where this was not the case), having jobs that did not tax me emotionally and mentally left me enough reserve energy to do the things I was passionate about. I’ve been in a band, and I frequently do art projects. Last year, I wrote my first book, and now I’m working on the sequel.

2) I felt free to move on any time I was undermined or belittled. Basically, I didn’t feel the need to put up with being treated poorly. I could go find another restaurant to be a server in, or another family to nanny for. Switching jobs was no problem.

3) I got to try new things. I have a restless nature and I bore easily. I found that once I’d mastered a position, I didn’t really want to do it anymore. By continuing to consider no job above me, I could move on without compunction, even if it meant taking a “step down” in job status.

4) No one could tell me when my vacation had to be. I’ve done about 6.5 years in jobs where they tell you when and for how long you can be off. The rest of my working career, I said: “Hey, I’m going out of town,” and no one could tell me any different. Now, that did often mean that I had to spend the previous weeks leading up to vacation hustling and taking extra work to cover my time off, but I really don’t see that as a downside. Even now, if I need more money, I just skip my days off and do a little extra work.

What I Learned from It

1) It helped me learn what I want. I like autonomy and self-direction. Therefore, for me, business ownership is the bomb! Is it easy? Heck, no. Transitioning into making my cleaning business my sole profession took a year and a half of working 60-70 hours between getting the business going and keeping my gas station attendant job in the meantime. But now that I’m in it full-fledged, the idea of going back to a 9-5, or even just something where I’m told when and where I have to be, sounds terrible. As it is, I make my own schedule. I make my own decisions. Most days, I can sleep in. If a client is consistently making my life difficult, I just stop working with them. I couldn’t walk away from mean customers when I was the manager of a fast food restaurant. Now, I can. It’s still not easy work. I have 65 clients, some who like to discuss the minuscule details of their homes. I have seemingly endless paperwork and employees who I have to figure out how to keep happy. But I wouldn’t trade it, even for the bank teller position that holds my adult job longevity record at 5 years. I mentioned above that I always wanted to leave a job once I felt that I’d mastered it. Well, here’s a secret: I don’t think you can ever really master owning a business. There are a million ways to improve in innumerable areas! So, maybe this is my calling!

2) It helped me learn what I DON’T want. I learned that the corporate world is not for me. (I did have some very respectable jobs at very respectable establishments.) I learned that the rigidity of that environment and its lack of individualization stifles me. I am a creative person, and the cookie-cutter requirements made me feel like a drone. Also, I noted earlier that you are recognized for doing a great job in today’s world. I found that to be less true in the corporate world. Everything was formulaic, and there was very little room to stand out. And standing out was discouraged. My sole negative at a performance review was that my dress was too trendy. When that’s part of your job performance assessment, I, personally, think there is a problem (unless you’re breaking some dress code you agreed to, which I wasn’t). I learned that I don’t like jobs with a lot of open-ended tasks. I am very task oriented and when I have a lot of unfinished things hanging over my head, I get overwhelmed.

3) I learned not to find my identity in my work! Who you are as a person is much more important than what you do for a living. If it is honest work, and you are doing your best at it, then you are doing great, and don’t you let anyone else tell you otherwise.

4) It taught me to take risks. Maybe that new job will be worse than the one you have; but maybe it won’t! You owe it to yourself to find out. Don’t stagnate in a place you are not flourishing. Do your best while you are there, but find a way to move on as quickly as possible. There was a time I found that my job had exceeded the stress limitations of my severe introvert nature and was turning me into someone I didn’t like very much. I hit a breaking point, and quit before I had another job. I somehow fell into the role of logistical organizer at a very large music festival with weekly concerts. I was in charge of lighting and tents and the power needs of all vendors and booths. The festival lasted three or four weeks – long enough for me to find new work. I’d never done anything like that before, but I truly believe God provided it for me.

5) I learned not to fear a struggle. I’ve lived paycheck to paycheck most of my life. Maybe that sounds like a nightmare to some of you, but I’ve never minded it. I’ve had a few jobs where I didn’t have to do that, and, honestly, those were the jobs I liked the least. Sometimes I’ve been able to have a little in savings. All in all, I’ve tried not to let my standard of living grow too much, even when I had better paying jobs, because a higher standard of living feels like a trap to me. You get caught in payments that require you to stay in your job because you can’t take a lower paying job, etc. I’d rather be willing to struggle and strive to change things than be stuck somewhere I am unhappy.

6) I learned not to live beyond my means. Thrift stores are awesome! Thankfully, I was never a person who thought keeping up with the Joneses by getting into debt was a super great idea. Otherwise, I’d have been “another day older and deeper in debt” every day and becoming more miserable all the while. If I’d been snared in debt, I would have been far more fearful of changing jobs, moving on, etc. Debt is a trap that keeps you from having the freedom of choice!

7) I learned to seek outside advice. I have found this to be especially helpful since I’ve owned my own business. Using resources like the Small Business Administration has given me a lot of guidance in how to successfully grow. Without seeking assistance, I would be stuck at the level of my own knowledge, which is never going to be endless. Getting help makes you see how much room you have to improve and gives you the motivation and ability to do just that. I have also used consultants in other areas. For instance, I have paid a CPA to consult when I had concerns about tax questions. It’s much cheaper than purchasing their actual services, and it’s not too hard to find someone willing to do it.

Wrap-Up

I’m not knocking college. If you have a dream job that requires a degree, go for it. I will add a caveat, though. Go find several people who work in that job, and interview them. Find out the good and the bad. Ask them if they would do it all over again. Ask them about the stresses of the job versus the rewards. Then think about your personality. Ask yourself if those stresses are things that would make you miserable or things you could brush off. Ask yourself if the rewards are really things that matter to you. Then make an educated decision.

I’m probably never going to be rich. So, if being rich is your goal, maybe getting a degree is your best bet, although, I wouldn’t count on it. The trend seems to indicate that having a degree is no guarantee of getting a good job, much less your dream job, and I think that a discouraging number of people find out that their dream job is not really their dream job.  There are definitely things I would do differently if I could go back, but getting a degree wouldn’t be one of them.

So, be resourceful. Work hard. Trust God. Don’t give up. And whatever else you do, be nice. That is about as successful as you can get.

 

Thanks for your insight Connie! My favorite take away (though there are many): Debt is trap that takes away your freedom of choice!  I have learned that lesson the hard way as I am in that trap! 

Love Does not Keep a Marriage Together

Love does not keep a marriage together.  I know that is what we all want to believe. We want to believe in the happy every after and the fairytale endings. But fairytales don’t tell the rest of the story.  Marriage is hard.

What right do I have to talk about marriage? I am not a marriage counselor. I am married, but I have not been married long, only six years. That is not a long time in the large scheme of life. We work hard to make our marriage stronger every day, but as in all marriages, some days we have more conflict than other days. Some days we try harder than other days. We love each other, though there are many days where we really don’t appreciate each others’ actions. There are times we are rude to each other and say things that we do not mean. I don’t say all this to berate marriage or bash my husband (it is a two way street), but I only want to be real with you, and this is the honest truth. I love my husband with all my heart, but that is not the reason I stay married to him.

I challenge anybody who says their marriage has been easy the entire time they have been married. They are lying. They are either lying to themselves or they are lying to you.

Don’t get me wrong, marriage has many good merits. I don’t mean to discourage anybody thinking about getting married. I do mean for you to think, to think long and hard why you want to get married and why you want to marry the person you want to marry. I want you to talk to each other and know that your opinions will probably change and that you will not always agree and you will probably forget to talk about the things you should talk about before you get married and during marriage.

This is not a lesson in how to make your marriage work or a check list of what to do before you get married. This is just the truth.

Lately, this subject has been on my heart. This season of young children has not been an easy one for my husband and I. We find ourselves, at times, disagreeing more than agreeing and we often find ourselves blaming each other instead of encouraging each other. Maybe this subject has been on my heart because I know of several newly married and young married people getting a divorce or talking about divorce. I know of some marriages that I thought were strong that are faltering and are on the brink of breaking up. I know of many women scorned and hardened and bitter about their previous marriage(s), and probably justly so.  It makes me sad; my heart breaks for them.

That brings me back to the point.

Love will not keep your marriage together.

It takes much much more than love. Marriage takes commitment, sacrifice, perseverance, and hard work. Lots of it!  You have to choose to work through your conflict and make your marriage work! Don’t compare your marriage to others and don’t pretend to be something you are not.  In this world of social media, all we see are glimpses of the good and the happy in people’s lives. Rarely do you see the whole picture.  A picture is not always worth a thousand words. Have you ever taken a picture and right before you snapped the picture,you were all fighting or the toddler was screaming or the teenager was sulking? Or have you ever been in a feud with your husband, then walked into church and put on the happy church mask?  People rarely take pictures of their kid in a tantrum or their husband with the other woman. They don’t usually take pictures of their house with laundry piles everywhere. I’m not saying we should post these things, and I’m especially not saying to get on social media or with your friends and bash your husbands or wives and hash out your spouse’s latest failings.  That is neither healthy, nor productive. I’ve heard of these said groups, and while I don’t try to be fake on my social media accounts, I do try to be real and positive. The world or your mother or your sister do not need to hear about your latest argument or the latest thing your spouse did to wrong you. I’m not saying to never discuss these situations with a trusted friend or mentor. However, I do believe that those moments should mostly be between you, your spouse, God and a licensed therapist, if necessary.

Yes, marriage is hard. It takes sacrifice and a whole lot of sweat!  You may wonder, why am I saying all this?  Haven’t I talked about how sweet and helpful my husband has been?  Yes, and he is, much of the time. But many times, he is not. Many times he fails me and yes, many times, more than I can count, I fail him. But you know what? We choose to stay together. We choose to work on our conflict and work on our marriage.  We both acknowledge that we are not perfect (most of the time). As stated before, I do not want to berate marriage or my husband, I just want people to know the truth, the real genuine truth.

Your husband is probably not going to pick up his shoes; your wife may never put your clothes away and they may constantly be wrinkled. Your husband may withdraw when he gets home from work or spend more time then you like in front of electronics. Your wife may insult your parenting skills.  Your husband will probably forget to pick up the milk. Your wife will probably bust your budget.

But marriage is from God, and only good comes from God.

“Have you not heard that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh?’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” Matthew 19: 4-6

Marriage is good. Marriage allows for unconditional love by choice. Marriage opens your heart and mind to other perspectives and other ways of doing things. Marriage is someone who is there for you when a loved one dies or when you are laid off or your dreams are crushed or your children go astray. Marriage is someone who supports you and stands up for you. Marriage is waking up to the same person everyday with morning breath and morning gas, and disheveled hair and no make up. Marriage is the man or woman cleaning up vomit on the carpet at two am. It is all these things and more.

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7

Do you ever wonder why there are so many comparisons to marriage in the Bible?  God knows we need someone to slap us in the face sometimes (not literally). He knows we need unconditional love and great mercy. Oh the mercy we need, daily.  Perhaps God meant to show a glimpse of his unbounding merciful love and sacrifice for us. That he will love us no matter how much we argue with him, no matter that we fail daily. He sacrificed his Son. There is no greater love than that.  To lay down your life.

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8: 38-39

You know what else, Satan does not want your marriage to succeed.

“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spirituals forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6: 11-12

For if your marriage succeeds, then it is a testament to the one true living God. A testament that there is a God and he is powerful and merciful and just. God will see you through all that the devil throws at you!  When you feel your marriage is failing, please don’t give up;  keep praying and trying. For it is more than love that will see you through.

Prayer:

Oh, God,

Hear our prayers. Know we are sinners daily and we need your mercy daily. Teach us to love unconditionally like you and to practice great mercy daily. Be with our marriages and keep Satan out of them.  Amen

What are some ways that God has sustained your marriage?

 

Thank you for reading! Please share with those who might be struggling!

Vulnerability in an Independent World

RBP-16

Vulnerability, What does that mean, exactly? Basically, it means being open. Open to attack, open to criticism, opening our hearts to let others in. It’s risky. It’s a word we don’t like to be in our independent culture. We are taught at an early age to be independent, to find a job, move out on our own, to live our own lives. We are taught that sticks and stones may break our bones, but words will never hurt us. We are taught to hide our true feelings.

I grew up in the same town, the same house, for the first eighteen years of my life. I couldn’t wait to leave home and make my own way. I was convinced that was the way to happiness. I was not an unhappy child, but I wanted to be independent so fiercely. I had things to do and see and the whole world was at my fingertips.

I finally graduated from high school and was able to move away for college! I was so nervous and excited at the same time! While I didn’t move too far away (just 4 hours), it was far enough, for the moment.  Ironically, as independent as I wanted to be, I probably cried for the first week of my college life. I was so homesick that I went home once a month for the first semester (plus I did not have any clean clothes to wear!  Thanks for doing my laundry mom!).

Fast forward to college graduation! Once again, I was anxious to live on my own, live in my very own apartment, pay my own bills. What I wouldn’t give now to have my daddy pay my bills now! Sigh….

Clearly, I achieved the independence I wanted. I treaded the waters of college successfully, made some incredible friends and learned some new perspectives on life. I had the opportunity to study in Europe and backpack across that great continent!  I had the opportunity to travel to Africa, where I spent six weeks working in a hospital helping the men, women, and children of Tanzania. I learned more in those six weeks about being content with what you have than I ever had in my young life.

Right after college, I moved to a big city and had a small apartment where I could walk to work, coffee shops, and more.  That was everything I had dreamed of at that point of my life!  I was a grown-up.  I lived by myself for five years before I married my hubby (I did have a roommate for about a year or two). And I loved every minute of it (well, maybe not every minute, but I was content). I worked twelve hour night shifts, so I did many things alone: went to coffee shops, grocery shopping, mall shopping, ate alone at restaurants (though that was mostly fast food).  I even went to museums, church, and movies by myself (though those were not my favorite things to do by myself).

All of the above has helped shape me to be the person I am today and has served me well when I needed to be independent.  That stage of my life taught me how to do things I needed to be able to do by myself (pay bills, budget, change a tire, though, ashamedly, I have probably forgot that by now), check my oil, etc.  I would not change any of my life experiences.

BUT, I spent so much time learning to be independent, I forgot what Jesus teaches about vulnerability.  I  fought vulnerability so much that I forgot that God made us to need each other. He made us a part of a whole. We forget that we Christians (and women especially) are supposed to be on the same team!

"For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body-Jews or Greeks, slaves or free-and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of only one member, but of many. If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them as he chose. If we all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, thee are many parts, yet one body."

1Corinthians 12: 12-20

Jesus knew what it meant to be vulnerable. He knew what it meant to be alone, even with crying and screaming and gossiping crowds around him, even when he was constantly being interrupted. He knew what it meant to be criticized, laughed at, and beaten down. He knew what it meant to be exhausted but not sleeping. He knew what it meant to be talking and not heard. He knew what it meant to be vulnerable.

"And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, "If I touch even his garments, I will be made well", And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. And Jesus, perceiving in imself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, "Who touched my garments?" And his discipes said to him, "You see the crowd pressing around you and yet you say, "Who touched me?" And he looked around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. And he said to her, "Daughter your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease." 

Mark 5: 24-34

What if, like in this story, we were not afraid to ask for help or reach out to touch somebody? What if we remember we are on the same team? That life is bigger than we are. Life is bigger than the busy season of sleepless nights, potty training, temper tantrums, wiping runny noses, and dirty bottoms.  This life is bigger than deadlines and all night study sessions and early morning classess. This life is bigger than sibling rivalry, living under your parents rules, and not being able to vote or drink or smoke (at least legally).

This life is about living life together. Let’s challenge ourselves to let our lives be about helping each other cherish the moments. Let’s learn from each other, be willing to be vulnerable and call on God and each other.

We are on the same team, and better yet, God is on our team. We cannot fail!

Know that you do not have to do it all by yourself!

Please share!

 

Come Play With Me: Choose to Delight

101

“Come play with me, Mommy!”  “I will soon baby, I promise.”  I then proceed to walk inside with the intention of getting my sweater.  I go inside and gather my phone and kindle (yes I do need these to play).  “MOMMY, come play ball with me!”, my daughter says in her sweet little 3 year old frustrated voice. “I will baby, I promise, I just forgot my sweater.  (It’s sunny and 60 degrees)  I go inside to get the baby monitor… and my sweater.  I go back outside and sit down, “Moooommmyyyyy, come play”, my daughter pouts. “I will, I just need to get the charger so I can hear baby brother.”  I go inside to find the monitor, just to realize I have misplaced it, spend another few minutes trying to find it, then I give up.

By this time, my daughter is nearing temper tantrum phase.  MOMMMYYYY, COME… PLAY… WITH… ME!! Now, I really try not to let her talk to me like that, but I was exasperating her.  In her defense, she had asked nicely several times  without success.

I finally play ball with her, and we had such a good time! We were both laughing and just delighting in each other.

Isn’t that what our Heavenly Father wants? Much like my daughter continued to plead with me to play with her, our Heavenly Father pleads for us to come to Him. He wants to delight in us. He wants to spend time with us, ball playing, no interruptions, time with us, with you.

"Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart." Psalms 37:4

Aren’t we all like a three year old sometimes, begging and pleading just for someone to pay attention to our antics? Isn’t that’s why we get angry or frustrated or sad because our spouse or our boss or our friends or our parents or siblings or children don’t appreciate us? They just don’t see that you emptied one side of the sink even if the other is still full. They don’t see that you put one basket of  the never ceasing laundry mountain away or that you took the garbage out without asking or put away your laundry or shoes without asking. Those people, they don’t see that you helped your co workers with that project or that you have already done all the things expected of you and more. If they only would have noticed what the problem was in the first place or just noticed all the little things we just did or do on a daily basis. Does this sound familiar?

That’s just the point though. How awesome it is that we have a Heavenly father who does just that. That lives in the moment, in the present, and we know we are loved.

"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love....I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete." John 15: 9,11

He does recognize us and all the little things we do or don’t do. Not because it matters whether the kitchen is clean or the laundry is put away or all the toys are picked up. Not to Him at least. Because He sees what really matters. He sees the heart of the matter. He sees your desire for a clean home so that it is pleasant for you and your family to live in. He sees that you took care of the problem at work because it was the right thing to do. He sees the kindness and the listening ears and helping hands. He sees your broken heart and anxious spirit. And He cares. He care about all of it, because He loves you. Unconditional, never un-breaking, always and forever love.

"For God so loved the world (that's you!) that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16

It is because of our God that we have an example of how we should treat all our loved ones. It is because of Him that we have a reason to do things without thanks or recognition. Because of Him, our standard is higher and our hope remains constant.

One of my favorite sayings from my teenage and college years (wish I could remember where I originally heard it), is that we need not remember who we are but whose we are.

We all have days when we are frustrated and overwhelmed, when that laundry pile seems like it will never go away (and maybe it won’t).  We all have days where we don’t delight in our loved ones or ourselves even. Today was one of those days for me. I was lacking patience and my daughter was lacking listening. Nothing I did or didn’t do seemed to make a difference in her sassy attitude. It was so bad by 7:00 PM, I was finished. My daughter was in bed by 7:15.

I pray when we have those days the days where you feel like you are the worst mom ever, that instead of raising our fist in anger or thrashing our bodies on the floor toddler style, that we choose the higher standard. I pray we choose love and delight. I failed miserably today, I did not choose love or delight. I chose yelling and frustration and anger. I pray on those days where the end is not what you want to remember, I pray that we will receive grace and forgiveness for ourselves and lift our hands up to our Heavenly Father who hears and forgives all. I pray that we bow on the ground in prayer, not rage.

I pray that we may always choose love and delight and forgiveness for the days when we don’t.

Thanks for reading! Please share with those who need to hear these words.

Life is in the Interruptions

Interruptions, oh how I am constantly being interrupted. Many days I do not sit down to eat until two o’clock…. By the time I feed the baby, prepare my daughter’s meal, then take her to the bathroom, change the baby’s diaper, get them both down for naps at the SAME TIME! (That’s my goal anyway!)

Interruptions are a way of life. It took me 34 years to figure that out!  I hope this helps you know that before 34 years!  I have finally come to expect that I will never be able to complete one task in a day, or at least not while I have a three year old and a baby.  It is just…not… happening.  I try, oh, how I try. I start to unload the dishwasher, then it’s “Mommy, I need to go potty”.  I try again, then the baby starts crying. Then the dog needs to go out. Then I turn my back, and my daughter is handing her seven month old brother paper to chew on and hard peppermints within his reach! (I know, I should have moved the peppermints! Don’t worry, I did after that!)

I have finally just decided to accept my interrupted life. That’s not a bad thing. I’ve decided to change my perspective. If you can’t change the circumstance, then change the way you look at things. When I look at my children as interruptions, then my day goes much smoother.  I expect to be interrupted every five minutes.  And that’s OKAY. This is just a season. My children need me now, they will not always need me. God made me to be their mom, the dishes can wait.

I often think this is how Jesus felt. He was constantly interrupted as well. He was constantly giving, with very little in return.  I wonder if he ever got frustrated?

Just this evening, I was actually sweeping the floors (this is a rarity in my house! Who has time for that?).  My daughter was “helping”, and by helping I mean sweeping my piles of dirt out of their piles in order that I had to sweep again! She was trying to be helpful. It’s really my fault for showing her how and buying her a mini broom. (Yes, I did!) How often were people trying to help Jesus, and they just made it worse. What did Jesus do in those moments?

I think so many times we focus on life in between the interruptions, on the tasks on hand. We so often forget that Life is IN the interruptions.  Our life is those little interruptions:  the baby crying in the night, sticky hands hugging you, tears that need wiping, knees that need to be kissed and cleaned. Our life is in those phone calls from a friend who needs you. Or perhaps it’s in putting down your electronics to look your spouse in the eye. Maybe it’s the person in the hall at work or school who is lost, just needing directions and guidance. Take Martha, for instance. She was a busy woman, and I think she may have been a little resentful of Mary. Mary was her interruption. She had to stop what she was doing to go ask Mary to help. I can relate.  BUT, Jesus had it more right. He delighted in the interruption. He saw Mary’s heart and accepted her. He loved her. He loved Martha too; he just needed her to stop and slow down, to take joy in the interruption.

I’m not saying I’m great at this. Not in the least.  I am a work in progress, and I am just praying along the way that I don’t screw my kids up too bad.  I probably would have been a Martha. But when I look back on my life, I want to remember what I did with my life of interruptions.

Remember, Life is in the interruptions.

What interruptions have you had today?

Thank you for Reading!  Please share!  If you don’t want to miss a post, please sign up for my email list!

The Middle of Nowhere: How I Learned to Love More

I’m visiting grandparents this week. They live in the middle of nowhere at least 5 miles down a country dirt road. I am not exaggerating! This is not where I grew up, my dad moved here for his job my freshman year in college.

Everything here seems so much more expansive. You can see stars for miles. You can see all sorts of creatures. We see birds, flowers, bees, spiders, lizards, raccoons, and even the occasional deer or fox.  Of course we can see most of these at home, but somehow it seems more impressive, more expansive, bigger.

Life is slower. There is no rushing here and there, partly because it’s the way of life, and partly because there are just not that many choices. You can only drive so fast over a 5 mile gravel road with potholes. There is so much to do, yet so little. My daughter has a huge forest land to run and play in, a nature park right outside the door. “Granny” has tons of old toys and books which are completely new to my daughter.  There are birds to watch, lizards to catch, bees to run from. There is plenty of space to throw a ball that does not entail mommy chasing it down a steep hill (our current home situation)! The best part of all: there are at least 2 other people to give her attention: Granny and Granddaddy!

I love my city, my house, my life. I don’t wish to move to the country (though I would not rule it out), but the country is a nice place to visit. This country place reminds me of just how beautiful life can be. It shows me how to be present and oh, how the opportunities abound for teaching about how awesome our God is. How majestic is His name!

“Can you count the stars?”  “Isn’t it amazing how God made all these stars.” “Look how many variety of flowers there are; it looks like a painting.” “How great is it that God gave you so many people who love you.”   “Look how God made the lizards and spiders.”

This country place makes me stop. It makes me slow down. This place reminds me to appreciate the world God has given to me and to respect it. It reminds me to share my love of God with my children and with others.  There is something about an old porch swing that gives you answers, answers that were in front of me all along.

1. Point out God’s wonder and beauty around you. God made the butterflies, the stars, and you. Just like you can’t count the stars, you can’t measure how great is God’s love for you.

2.  Spend Thirty Minutes a Day with your loved ones.  I’m currently reading Purposeful Parenting, by Jean S. Barnes. She suggests to spend 30 minutes a day with our loved ones.

“Practicing the Thirty Minutes a Day Rule became intentional- and turned into so much more. By intentionally making thirty minutes a day for simply delighting in one another, we learned how to really pay attention to each other in snatches too…. Looking for ways to give one another undivided attention became a lifestyle, and it strengthened our relationships just like layer upon layer of glue holds things together, because nothing makes the ones you love feel more cherished than your attention, your constant practice of being there. In being there, I discovered another wonderful practice in how to show the kind of love that’s transforming. This practice is about seizing extraordinary moments that might otherwise pass you by as ordinary. It’s about seeing the cracks in your child’s soul, where values, discoveries, and new ideas can be planted and begin to seep in and take root.”

I say we take this a little further, and also apply it to significant others or anyone else we may be living with at the moment, be that a roommate, a parent, or sibling.

3. Pray in the moment. In the serenity of the country, I was looking at Facebook (ironic, I know!), and I saw a post from a friend whose son is having surgery. I showed my daughter the picture of the little boy and I said, “He is sick. He needs our prayers.” Then we prayed right then. I had never done this before. It must have been God given. I think it did leave an impression on my 3 year old, but it taught me so much more.

4. Accept distractions.  Though the country is quiet at times, often it really is not. You have tree branches creaking, birds chirping, porch swings rocking, bees and hummingbirds buzzing. At night there is the wind blowing when it is stormy, frogs and crickets singing their melody. And the occasional cougar screaming (yes there are cougars in that part of the world). Owls may hoot and woodpeckers are pecking, but though the wind may be blowing through the trees, the distractions are different. It is the distraction of just watching in amazement at the bumblebees for 20 minutes as my sister and daughter did; it is the finding of extraordinary large pine cones and the variety of flowers all around you. It is the distractions of chasing the squirrels and raccoons off the bird feeders. Yes it is a different distraction, one that is God given.

I recently attended a conference where the one thing that stuck out to me was that our children our an interruption ministry. That has changed how I look at parenting. Instead of being annoyed every time I am interrupted while cleaning the dishes or doing laundry (these tasks will take me all day, if finished at all), if I look at my children as a ministry, it changes my whole demeanor.

5. Tell them you love them. This goes for more than just your children, but includes your friends, your spouse, your siblings and parents. We all need to hear that someone loves us. God did not make us to be solitary people, he made us to be loved and to love. Tell those that are important to you that you love them. All the time. Everyday.  I love you even when… I love you especially when…. I love you all the time.

Thanks for reading! Please share with those who need to hear these words!

Mommies Get Angry Too!

It was a rough weekend, make that a rough month, maybe even two months.

Let’s see, it all started with my baby boy’s four month check up, in which he had not gained enough weight. As a result, we were having to take him to the doctor every 2 weeks for weight checks. One week, after not nursing well for a few days, I took him into the doctor and he had not gained any weight. None, in 2 weeks! That is not normal for a baby, period. So of course I’m worried; the doctor is concerned, and I’m angry. I’m angry at myself for not noticing his lack of weight gain; I’m angry at my baby for not following the text book (I like control people!), I’m angry at my husband for not getting why I was so upset; I’m angry at my 3 year old for distracting me.  I’m angry because I’m having to watch the lab technicians prick my little boy’s fingers for blood while he screams and looks at me with alligator tears streaming down his face. I know he is saying, “Why are you letting them do this to me momma!??”

Fast forward a week, and after pumping, giving baby expressed milk from pumping, then following that with 2 to 4 ounces of formula, and then following with baby food, we finally gained 7 ounces in one week! Yay!  But I’m still angry. I’m angry at the time spent feeding our baby, perhaps even a little resentful. I value my time, and every minute spent feeding our child, is a minute I can’t fold the laundry, get dinner ready, just be with my children, watch television., write, etc.  I value my little boy’s health, but I am stressed.  I’m angry at myself because I’m too exhausted every night to do any said stuff once everybody is finally asleep! Oh, I am so tired. It has been a rough few months.

Fast forward another few weeks, a gastrointestinal bug plagues our family. First it hits the 3 year old, then my hubby, and just when I think I have made it through unscathed, then it hits me (and oh yeah, did I mention that turns out my baby did have a virus on top of not gaining weight).  So, I miss work, which makes me angry at losing that money because I will not get paid if I don’t work. And of course, I get thrown up on… More than once (every mother’s dream).

I think we are finally through that ordeal, when we start noticing little pimple like sores on my little girl’s bottom. Turns out she has a skin infection. In the mean time, my husband for the last month or two has been having off and on chills. He finally goes to the doctor and he is diagnosed with mono. Seriously?? So now I’m angry because I have to take care of everybody!  Why does he always catch everything? I’m angry that I as a nurse didn’t catch it sooner myself.

So in summary, over the course of two months, I have been thrown up on at least four, five times, have had to clean out pus from my daughters skin infection (sorry to those with weak stomachs), and then yesterday, my daughter pees all over me and all over the bathroom floor!! I lost it! I feel like I had been taking things in stride up until this point. That was it Enough was enough!

She peed on me because she was refusing to use the potty (she has been pee pee potty trained for several months now so this was not acceptable!), so I manually put her on the toilet, to which she responds by screaming and thrashing about, resulting in said urine being sprayed all over me and the floor. Let me remind  you that I have been cleaning up vomit for the last couple of days, from clothes to sheets to stuffed animals. I am tired! I am just drained, and I am tired of cleaning up gross stuff. Just because I am a nurse does not mean I enjoy it!

I then, of course, as only all good mothers do, began to yell at my 3 year old. I then tell her that she has to clean up the pee herself (which I don’t think is a bad lesson, just probably not approached in the right way). We ended with us staring at each other in a battle of wills. My little 3 year old mini me, staring just as stubbornly back at me as I was staring at her. I have more years of stubborn strong will then she does, so naturally I win.

Like I said, it has been a rough few months.

Why did I get so angry? I’m mom; I’m not supposed to loose my cool.  I should have at that moment apologized. I wish I could say I did later. But I didn’t.

Fortunately, my mini me is only 3 and didn’t hold it against me. She went to bed as usual and still gave me a little kiss and hug as I lied down with her in her bed. Sweet children. That we should give ourselves grace like our children give us grace. They know what forgiveness means, even if they can’t verbalize it.  You lose your cool; they don’t remember it the next day. They still want you to play with them. How often can we say we do the same? How often do we forgive ourselves? None of us are perfect parents.

I challenge you to forgive yourself as your children forgive you. Everyday is a new day. The next day our young children have all but forgotten that we lost our cool. They love you unconditionally. You are their whole little world. That’s true love. Let’s learn to love ourselves the same and start each day anew.

You can do this! This parenting stuff, you got this.  We can do hard things! Now, take a deep breath with me….. Breathe in…. Breathe out…..  Say it with me: “I can do this! I can do hard things! My past does not define me! Every day is a new day!”

When You Are the Bad Parent: Learning to Give Grace

Recently, a 2 year old boy was lost in the woods. His grandmother had taken him and his older sister for a walk. Reportedly the older child ran ahead and the grandmother ran after the child. She turned around and the little boy was gone. Of course over the next few days the temperature was in the teens. The little boy died from hypothermia. For the full story, click here

My heart just breaks everytime I hear this story. I cringe with the thought of how scared that little boy must have been. I just cannot imagine. I can’t imagine the grief and guilt that grandmother must have felt. I can’t imagine the panic and worry the parents must have felt. I guess it really hits close to home because I have a 3 year old. It hits even closer to home because I take my children hiking on a semi-regular basis.  I understand how this little boy could have just wondered away.  I understand how someone might accidentally leave their child in the car. I understand how someone might be scared they could  hurt their child out of anger or depression. I understand how a three year old might end up in a busy intersection by himself. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uu1yKpt1muU).  I’m not justifying these things; I’m just asking that before you judge, you put your feet in the other person’s shoes.

Toddlers are known to be curious creatures. They see a butterfly and they chase it. They throw a rock over the edge; they run to see where it lands. They see a bug in the middle of the street and stop to study it. They have no concept of impending danger.  You have to be on your toes at all times! I could see my daughter getting curious and running off into the woods. Then in a blink of an eye, she’s lost.  Not knowing what to do, she probably cries and runs back to where she thinks I am.  Oh, the terror! My stomach lurches at the mere thought! How scared and cold and horribly confused that little boy must have been that his mommy couldn’t find him. The terror and the grief!

We all have our routines; any change messes with your head. I can see how you think, “I will just run into the store to get two things and then you get stuck behind the lady with 100 coupons, the slowest cashier, and slowest bagger known to eternity. The next thing you know, it has been 30 minutes or more. We have all heard of the horrifying facts of how fast a vehicle can become deathly hot. I have been in my car driving to work and made the turn to go to work instead of the daycare! I fortunately remembered before I arrived at work, but my point is that none of us are perfect, none of us are immune.

“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.” Matthew 7: 1-5

One day, we found my daughter outside with our dog. We did not know she was outside. We did not realize she could open the door by herself! Fortunately we figured it out quickly. Can you honestly tell me you have never made a mistake?

Remember when you were so exhausted taking care of your newborn? You were in a fog, ALL DAY LONG! When the baby starts crying and he won’t stop, sometimes you don’t know what to do. You can read all the books and articles you want and still have no clue.  I have literally been so frustrated and tired that I had to lay my  baby down and let him cry, for fear of hurting him. That is a sombering thought, one that I do NOT readily admit. Then on top of the huge responsibility of taking care of this completely dependent, vulnerable baby, your hormones are going crazy! With my first baby, I literally sweated more than I thought humanly possible. I also remember breaking down from the sheer exhaustion and stress of it all. I was completely inconsolable!

I would guess that more then one of you have had similiar thoughts. (I hope.)

We don’t like to talk about these things.  No one likes to admit that they would be capable of any of these horrid acts.

We are such a judgmental society (I am no exception). We think these stories can only happen to other people, to those parents. We gasp with disgust and turn our noses upward in disdain.

Before we judge, we ought to take a look in the mirror.  Let’s step back for a moment and then reach forward with arms wide open, sharing our hearts and giving each other grace. I don’t share these personal stories lightly, or to showcase how imperfect of a parent I am. I share them so you know you are not alone. You are not the only woman who has these “bad” parent thoughts. These thoughts don’t define you, they do not make you a bad parent. They only serve as reminders, that we can not go it alone. We need each other, and we need our heavenly Father. I ask you to be open to these thoughts, so that others may know they are not alone. We are on the same team.

What are some ways you can let others know you are on their team?

Perhaps you can call a new mom and offer to watch her baby so she can rest? Perhaps you can deliver a meal or have groceries delivered? Perhaps, just sharing your stories can help others know they are not alone? Let’s show compassion to each other and learn from each other. We all have lessons to give and to receive.

“You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate. Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven. Give and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full-pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. the amount you give will determine the amount you get back. ” Luke 6: 36-38

 

If you have been pregnant in the last 12 months and are having feelings of depression or you feel out of control, then please call a doctor and a friend. Post partum depression is real. Read HERE for more symptoms of Post partum Depression and what to do about it.

Stopping the Hate Talk: 5 Ways to a Better You

When you look in the mirror, what do you see?

“I hate my hair, my arms, my legs”  “I look so fat in these pants.” “Why can’t I look like that other girl? She always looks so perfect; she makes me sick.” “If I had all the money in the world and could afford a personal trainer, I could look like that too.”

How many times do we say these things to ourselves or about others? Why are we so degrading to ourselves and other women? It doesn’t matter your age: young girl, teenager, young adult, older adult, pre- baby body, post- baby body. When does it stop? When do you decide that you are enough and that God made you the way you are. As a teenager, I thought myself pretty; I thought myself confident. It wasn’t until middle adulthood that I started to doubt myself. There have been plenty of times that I have looked in the mirror and thought that I did not like the way I looked. Part of my problem is that I have not been treating my body right and I have had two babies and it really does change your body!  What do you hate about yourself? What do you love about yourself?  Which one do you think about the most?

Self-Worth is defined as the sense of one’s own value or worth as a person; self-esteem; self respect.  Do you place value in yourself? Do you have respect for yourself?  Do you think of yourself as worthy and beautiful?

All this self degrading hate talk stops here.  IT STOPS HERE! I challenge you here-forth that when you look in the mirror you find one thing you like about yourself, just one. Daily. Yes, DAILY!

There is nothing that can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8: 31-39) , but He still wants us to take care of ourselves and our bodies. The following things help me to take care of myself and help me feel good about my own self esteem.

  1. Get up and Move!  Whether it is taking a brisk walk around the neighborhood, an aerobics video in the comfort of your home, or training for a race, get up and move.  Start TODAY! Even ten minutes a day can make a difference. Make it work. Maybe that means climbing stairs during a short break at work or parking in the furthest parking lot. Sometimes, for me, that means having a dance party with my 3 year old. Or I have an aerobic app on my phone that lets me choose 5 to 10 minute increments. Sometimes my 3 year old and 5 month old join in the fun. One thing I’m going to try in the next few weeks is running before my husband leaves for work!

2. Eat healthy! Of course there are lots of arguments about what is the best diet or supplement out there.Think before you eat! Is this particular food going to make me feel good or energized? I’m not saying to never have that piece of chocolate, i’m just suggesting you think twice about it. This is definitely one of my biggest challenges. I have a huge sweet tooth!  It’s about lifestyle change. While I don’t follow it strictly and I am not an expert, my personal belief is that a plant based diet is best for health and energy. Commit to make a change. Just eating more veggies and fruit can make a difference! Progress, not perfection!

3. Challenge your mind! Take time to learn. Read, whether an actual book, a website,e-books,newspaper, or a magazine. The world is full of great minds. You are one of them!

4. Feed your soul!  This is the most important point. Make time to pray or read your Bible and talk to God. I try to get up before my children in order for this to happen. Now lately, that has not gone like I planned. I have an almost 6 month old who wakes up in the middle of the night, and well, I am grumpy if I don’t get enough sleep. On those days, I try to read while I’m nursing him. Many times I’m praying in my car on the way to work. Those two things, especially the prayer, make a huge difference in how the rest of my day goes, and how I feel about my self as a person. I am a much better mom, wife, and friend when I make time to pray and read God’s word. End of story.

5. Take time for yourself! I don’t care what that looks like or how much time you say you don’t have. For me it looks like time to write, or time for a hike, a walk around the neighborhood, sipping on a hot cup of tea or coffee on my back deck. Coffee or lunch or breakfast with a friend, even if it has to be over the phone. Perhaps you can get up 10 minutes before the rest of your house,just to sip and drink your coffee.  Maybe once a month, you can find a babysitter or your significant other can watch the children, and you can go get coffee, by yourself or with a close friend. Find a walking partner. Train for a race with your co-workers. Sometimes, I take an extra long shower because that may be the only time I have had to myself that day. I breathe in the steam and take pleasure in the solitude and not having to explain what I’m doing. Everybody leaves you alone when you are in the shower (most of the time).

Challenge yourself to love more. We don’t need all the hate talk. Life is hard enough without being so mean to ourselves.

What are some tips you have on increasing self-worth?

Thanks for Reading! Please share with those extraordinary women you think need a reminder of how awesome they are!

8 Life Lessons I Learned From My Toddler

DSC_0403 (2)I now have a three year old!  I can’t believe it!  Sometimes I feel like I am looking at someone else’s life. I honestly was never the girl that dreamed of the kind of kids she would have, and even if I would have kids. I never thought about what kind of mother I would be. I honestly really never liked kids, and if I’m being honest, I’m still not crazy about other people’s kids (I do like most of my friends’ children, most of the time). Sometimes I wonder if I am a good enough mother. Sometimes I’m lazy. Sometimes I get impatient or frustrated and yell or say things I shouldn’t say. In spite of all that, I believe I am the perfect parent for my children. And more and more, I understand a little of the unconditional love our heavenly Father has for us.

“‘For I know the plans I have for you’, says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'” Jeremiah 29:11

God has a plan for me and for my children, this I know. I have to remind myself almost every day. There are days when my beautiful Sophia is very tiring and challenging and exhausting. She is headstrong and fiercely independent. (I can’t imagine where she picked up that personality trait!.. Must be from her daddy. 🙂 )   She has taught me so much in her short 3 years of life!

Lesson 1: Sometimes you need to just be silly.

DSC_0403

Sophie is a jokester. We used to ask her, “What color is this?”  For awhile, the only thing she would respond with was “Orange!”  She knew the colors! That was her 2 year old self teasing us!  Another joke she says, “I’m BeBe”, or I’m “Uncle Matt”, and then now she follows it with “You’re Daddy”, or “You’re Max” (Max is our dog!)  She has a mischievous little glint in her eye while she’s saying these things too. Sophie loves to be tickled. She loves being thrown up in the air, loves hide and seek. If we can’t go outside, she will run in circles around our dining room table. She makes me laugh.

We need to let ourselves laugh. We need to remember what it was like to just be silly.

Lesson 2: Be Persistent!

IMG_1851

This past summer, we made the transition to a big girl  bed. Now that she can get out of bed freely, she will literally knock or bang stuff on the door. It’s really quite funny and difficult to not go back to her room. She is a world champion at bedtime stalling!  I have to give her props for creativity. “I need some water!” “Lie down with me!” (with big blue pleading eyes!), “I need to put my babies to sleep”. “I need to read” . She even uses prayer time as a means to stall her bedtime. If we have taken away story and song time because she is not listening, then she pulls the prayer card. She knows mommy wants her to pray!

The point is: While we don’t need to  give in to our children’s every demand, we can learn from their persistence.  If you want something, keep trying! Don’t let a few no’s (or a few hundred) stop you from pursuing your passions or dreams.

Lesson 3: Sometimes you just need to let it out!

IMG_1906

Oh, we have had our share of tantrums and fits!  Screaming in a restaurant, screaming in the store, you name it, we have had it.  How about the time she laid down at the train station, no wait, the cell phone store, no, the consignment store, and just had a textbook tantrum and sit down!  Oh, yes, my Sophie has a temper.

And talk about drama! Once, after a trip to the community pool, Sophie fell and scratched her knee while walking back to our car. Drama central!  After the drama settled, she wanted a Dora band aid, but when I tried to put it on her knee, she screamed. Then she just held it the whole ride home.

Okay, so maybe you and I are past the tantrum phase, but don’t you want to just let it all out and scream and stomp your feet and cry sometimes?!  Well, maybe we can’t scream and stomp our feet (unless you are completely by yourself, then I say, go for it!). However, it is  probably not the best example to teach our children in order to launch them into functional adults.  However, it is okay to accept a hug or want someone to kiss your hurt away. It’s okay to dry your tears on someone else’s shoulder. The point is: Stop being so independent! It is OKAY to ask for help. It’s okay to cry.

Lesson 4:  Sometimes a girl just needs to look good.

DSC_0227

Sophie  loves trying on shoes. I can’t tell you how many times I would walk in her room after nap time to find shoes and clothes, and toys EVERYWHERE!  She would take hair bands and use them as necklaces or for awhile she was attached to hats. She would wear them constantly, even sleeping with them.

Sometimes you just need to dress up a little. We should dress up, not to impress others, but just to remember how beautiful we are.

Lesson 5:  Life is about what happens everyday in the little moments!

DSC_0707

For all of Sophie’s challenges and tantrums, there are more than enough sweet moments. Like the time when she handed me my tucks during my pregnancy with our son (both embarrassing and sweet), or how she is with her baby brother, constantly loving on him, kissing him, and helping me mother him. Or when she spontaneously gives me a kiss or “helps” with chores (she can help unload the dishwasher and put clothes in the dryer! Sometimes she even sweeps! She loves to hold the dustpan for me!). Or how she “cooks” with her pretend food. How she loves to make baby brother laugh and share stories and tummy time with him. Or how she tugs at our heart strings every time she asks us to lie down with her. Or the times when she asks for a “big hug”.  Once, after I gave William his  bath, I turned my back for one second, and next thing I knew Sophie was bathing her baby dolls. All Ican do sometimes is laugh.

For all the bad moments there are 10,000 more good ones. We  can learn from the bad moments, but we need to cherish the good moments. After all, people don’t usually take pictures of the bad moments (although I think that is warranted sometimes!). Our pictures are of the happy moments. You don’t usually remember the tantrums and attitude between the pictures.

Lesson 6:  Life is Messy!

DSC_0725

Life is Messy.  From throwing up in the doctor’s office and in the car and all over me. (all three of these happened last year!), life is messy. From snotty noses and ear infections, life is messy. From spilled drinks and dumped over cheerios, life is messy. (thank goodness for dogs!). From tear stained faces to skinned knees and new scars, life is messy. From emptying out all the drawers to emptying the toy boxes, life is messy.  Life is Messy! Let it go and keep making messes!

Lesson 7:  Celebrate the little successes!

IMG_2004

My Sophie finally went poo in the potty! It has been a long time coming! I dare say, we may be done buying pull-ups! (at least day time ones) If you are a mom, you know how exciting this is! It was all I could do to restrain myself from posting it all over social media! I did text almost all my close friends and family! We celebrated this feat with ice cream and a toy.

That’s how toddlers are, they celebrate little things, like putting their shoes or pants on all by themselves. Or finally figuring out how to open the doors! Or putting that last puzzle piece together. Let’s take a lesson from our toddlers and celebrate the little successes. Like doing prayer/bible time even once or twice a week. Or maybe it is making it somewhere on time! How about getting noticed for a job well done. Picking up a few pieces of trash (that’s one less piece of trash!) Or finally learning to parallel park. Perhaps, it is making one person smile. Or making it to bed on time. Or making it through the day without killing your children.

Little successes add up to make a big difference!

Lesson 8: You are capable of so much more than you realize!

Do you know how many times Sophie has done things  I didn’t think she knew how to do?  Like the time she opened our screen door and walked outside, BY HERSELF with the dog! (we have no fence and we live on a steep hill!) Or the time she started drinking out of a regular cup.  Or  the time when I walked into her room and she had figured out a way to pull off items from the top of the dresser!  They are capable of so much more than we give them credit for!

And so are you!  Don’t sell yourself shot. Believe in yourself!

 

Yes, this year has taught me so much. It’s taught me that this parenting stuff is hard, that life is hard, and marriage is hard As the cliché goes, anything hard is worth doing!  I said at the beginning that I didn’t really like kids, but I LOVE my children. I love my Sophie and everything she is and everything she stands for. I love her just because. She is a gift. One that I do not deserve.

To my Sophia: rbp-42

I love you and everything you are and everything you have taught me, and everything you stand for. You have taught me so much more about love and life than I ever imagined.  You are uniquely wonderful and beautiful. God has a plan for you! I don’t know what it is yet, but it will big! Bigger and more wonderful than I or you daddy can imagine!

 

What are some lessons you have learned from your life experiences? I would love for you to share your stories!

Thanks for reading! If you liked this article, don’t forget to share!