Monday, July 13

New Blog Posts Coming Soon!

Hi Friends! Sorry for my absence here...

This crazy thing called COVID-19 happened and it threw me off my writing/blogging rhythm for a while.

But just last week I attended this FABULOUS online writing conference called Speak Up and it
re-inspired, re-encouraged and renewed my passion for sharing words with others.
If you'd like to learn more about SpeakUp so that it's on your radar for next year, check out their website at https://speakupconference.com


Rest assured, I've got some blog post drafts oin the hopper and will be posting regularly again very soon. I hope you and your families are all doing well and I'm looking forward to re-connecting here with you in the upcoming days and weeks! 

                                                                                   Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash




Tuesday, April 21

Encouragement For Moms as We 'Shelter From Home'



"Therefore we do not lose heart..." (2 Corinthians 4:16) 



If you came here looking for an answer to what "thriving" looks like right now, you might be disappointed. 

I don't have clear answers or easy tips-- I'm not sure those exist at the moment. What I do have are questions, and faith that God is at work no matter what is happening around us, so if you're in need of some extra encouragement in your faith today, or just want to know that you're not alone in your wonderings about what is "normal", then you've come to the right place. 

I had another post started-- it was Part 2 to last week's post, "Moving From Surviving to Thriving With Your Kids At Home." After jotting down my ideas I went back and forth on whether or not to publish it...not because I don't believe in the power of a few suggestions to help-- similar suggestions have pulled me out of ruts time and time again.  Ideas are good. Suggestions are helpful. Tips for thriving are a welcome friend on the days you feel like you're just surviving as a mom. I know from experience. 

But, the truth is I'm not sure what the word "thriving" looks like right now. 

I don't say that to sound pessimistic. We're doing pretty well, honestly. 

In my heart of hearts I feel like this time is good for our family-- even needed on some level. We're getting to know one another better. We're learning how to live with each another on far deeper levels than any of us probably want to on some days, but because we're a family I happen to think that's a good thing.This bumping into each other and working through a real sense of living together.  My guess is that this time is shaping and molding our family in ways that will impact us for the rest of our lives. 

For the most part, I believe we are thriving...some days. 

We're definitely doing better than surviving...most days. 

Is there a word for that? A word for somewhere in-between the two? Somewhere in-between thriving and surviving? 

I feel blessed and grateful, and don't take what we have lightly or for granted.  We honestly have everything we need: printers, computers, enough tables and spaces and room for the girls to spread out while they're doing their schoolwork. We have food and shelter (even on the days when it feels like we've outgrown our house!), clothes and toys, craft supplies and lots and lots of games that were collecting dust and are now seeing the light of day. 

I know we have much and I am grateful for it all, but lets be honest, we miss things too. 

I miss hanging out in coffee shops when I need an hour long break-- just to read a book and write words in a journal without distraction. 

I miss playgrounds when my kids are antsy and I need to take them somewhere to run off their energy. 

I miss church and the fellowship that accompanies it--worshiping together, checking in with one another, getting my weekly fill of hugs and "how are you's?" 

My girls actually MISS school...I think this time will help them appreciate their teachers and having a school to attend for the rest of their lives! 

The reason I was struggling to write the post about "thriving" is that many of these things that we are missing were part what helped to pull me out of the bad days before--they were the things that filled me up, the things that helped me be able to get through the end of the day when I needed a change of scenery, or a word of encouragement, or simply a hug from a friend. They were the things that helped me to thrive

We have good days and bad days at our house, just like many of you. It depends on the weather, and emotions, and hormones (I'm not joking about that in a house where 4/5 of us are female!). It depends on the school assignment and whether or not I remember where the password is for the 7th website for my 3rd child on this 5th week of homeschooling. 

This isn't easy for anyone-- we're all ready to take our kids to playgrounds again, grab a coffee from a drive-thru, or buy our groceries without feeling fearful. We're ready to have our extended family over for dinner and celebrate birthdays in person. I miss my daughter's elementary school teacher and my aerobics instructors at the YMCA. 

I'm not saying I want everything to go back to the way it used it be,  but I'd love for some things to return to normal simply because they're the good and beautiful parts of humanity. 

The one thing  I can offer universally to anyone who is struggling right now is the truth of God's presence. No matter what any of us is going through, no matter how much things have changed, God remains just as steady, constant and sovereign as ever before. 

So, while I don't have tips to offer today, I have this truth about God:

He loves you. I promise. 

He is with you. I swear. 

He is beside you, even when things are difficult. I have felt Him. 

He whispers wisdom and grace into our hearts. I have heard Him. 

His mercies are new every morning. I have received them. 

If you're struggling this week I would encourage you to spend time in prayer. Whisper your prayers in quiet, write them in a journal, yell them in the car while you're driving circles around the neighborhood because there is no were else to go. Lock the door to the bathroom and pray for five minutes-- your kids will survive, I promise! 

God hears you. He sees you. He loves you. 

I came across this verse in my quiet time this week-- it's a verse I've read before, but that felt like it had new meaning in the midst of this season of viruses and quarantines: 

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes on on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:16-18


I love that! 

Friends, let's NOT lose heart! Even though sickness, and brokenness, and viruses seem to be affecting the entire world, if we have Christ at the center of our lives He will continue to renew us each and every day. 

There is one catch- it's up to us to spend time with Him. To pray, to renew our minds with scripture, to make time for a Bible study or devotional that helps us fix your eyes on what is unseen.  Lets face it, a lot of what is seen right now is a little crazy anyways! 



If you have a specific prayer request please send me a message on Facebook or an email or text. I'd love to pray for you and your family in whatever specific ways you need prayer. 

I will continue putting new posts up here at the beginning of each week...I try to shoot for Monday, but...well...the kids, the house, the homeschooling...some weeks it ends up beingTuesdays. 

I do actually have a list started of ways to "thrive" during this time at home that I'll share with you next week-- it's the list I started for today, but wasn't ready to share. I hope you'll stop back if you're looking for some alternative suggestions to what you may already be doing, or are simply curious as to how other families are making the most of this time! 


You can always check my Facebook page, which is where I'll post the links to make it easier. If you put your email into the little box on the side of this blog page you'll receive an update when new posts go up. 


Friday, April 17

How to Move From "Survive" to "Thrive" While Quarantined With Kids, Part 1

Being a full-time stay at home mom for 10 years (a decade!), while a  privilege, was also one of the hardest things I've ever done-- one of the hardest jobs I've ever done. The days were long, the needs unending, the tasks mundane. There were some days, and weeks, that it all felt like the grandest version of Bill Murray's experience in Groundhog's Day that ever existed. 

I often wondered if I would actually survive the season, and if I did  survive I wondered who I was going to be on the other end of it all. Being a stay at home parent can make you feel like you are losing yourself (and your mind) one slow day at a time-- your ability to think clearly, your broader worldview and perspective, your desire to embrace life and adventure, and maybe even your ability to discern whether or not the jeans you are wearing are still "cool" or have fallen into the not so desirable "mom jean" category all become...questionable.  

As beautiful as I had imagined it all to be prior to becoming a stay at home mom I was so exhausted and walking around in such a fog that, for quite some time,  I lost perspective and the joy I had hoped to experience during that season. Which is why, when one of my mentors recently suggested I write about how to thrive while being home with the kids I thought...I'm not so sure I'm the one that should write that. 

The conversation started innocently enough. She asked how we were doing and I responded with a, "Oh, we're fine. You know, managing like everyone else. Honestly, I think the years I spent at home with the kids helped me to develop coping skills that I'm falling back on now." 

"You should write about that," she said. 

Um. Ok. Maybe

Honestly, I wasn't so sure. 

Even though it's completely true: I do feel like we're doing ok right now and I do attribute some of that to the fact that I have learned how to live in the chaos that ensues when a family is cooped up in the house for long periods of time, I wasn't convinced the coping mechanisms that I developed over years of being at home would translate into anything helpful for others. 

There were days during those ten years that I wanted to pull my hair out. Hide under my blankets. Run away (the girls joke that I do actually "run away" sometimes. As a runner, when I'm having a particular grumpy day, I run from the house to find my sanity, always to return!). There were more days than I'd like to count where I felt discouraged, exhausted, overwhelmed and frustrated. There were days when I thought I was not at all, not in the least,  not even a little,  cut out for this job of being home with my kids all day long, and that maybe the hiring manager was completely off her rocker when she hired me. 

And then I'd get up and do the next right thing. I'd muster the strength to make the next meal, read a book with a toddler, or clean out one drawer in the kitchen because it helped me to feel like I had just a little bit of control over something. 

I'd tell myself that mom crying in the bathroom wasn't the image that I wanted my girls to grow up with in their heads, at least not all the time. Even though I believe it's good for them to see me cry and be discouraged at times, it must eventually be followed with showing them how to "pull up their bootstraps" and get on with life. They might be moms someday too, I often thought, and I need to teach them grit. 

And grit is what I gained in those 10 years. Maybe some wisdom too, and a lot of grace. I also learned how to turn my tears about my day into prayers to God, which is really what always turns things around. 

I learned patience, and flexibility, and the 27 layers of learning to "let it go". Letting ALL OF IT GO-- the hard days, the tears, the fights, the mess, (Oh, the messes!), the discouragement, the perceived failures, and most importantly the lie that I believed for a long time that I needed to get it all "right" to be a good mom. 

So, taking my friend's advice I took some time to think about the things that have helped me the most, and what I've learned along the way. I'll use my next few posts to share those things with you. 

You should know there are still days I feel like I'm simply surviving, especially now. Yesterday was one of those yucky days. The quarantine, the weather here, the kids being all stir crazy...But I'm back up and at it this morning, with hope for a new day. His mercies ARE new EVERY morning. 

If you're struggling right now I'd love to pray for you. Please shoot me a private message on Facebook, or a text, or an email. I don't say that to be trite, I say it because I mean it. There have been many, many, many days when I wished I could email someone my honest feelings so they could offer up an honest prayer on my behalf. 

And for those of you feeling like you're hanging in there...by a thread...and you're not so sure...I'm praying for you too!


(If you're wondering when my posts go up because you don't want to miss a word, I try to shoot for Monday mornings. I was off track this week, but after today I'll be posting next Monday, and every Monday afterwards). 


3 Tips to Move From Surviving to Thriving While Quarantined with Kids:

# 1  Surrender. Surrender. Surrender.

Alright, this isn't like raising the white flag and giving up, BUT if I had to pinpoint one key characteristic that I learned in my ten years at home it was to surrender my expectations. 

I can't tell you how often I woke up thinking I'm going to do A, B, C, and G today and we'd end up doing F, Q, R, Z, P, L and M...in no particular order of course. 

I'd get to the end of my days feel EXAUSTED and questioning what we had actually done all day.  I'd look around and see that the house was a mess, my to-do list stood unchecked, and we had eaten bagged lettuce and string cheese for dinner (even though grilled chicken, roasted broccoli and rice pilaf is what I had written on my meal plan).  

For a long time I felt like a massively disorganized failure because I couldn't follow through on my own instructions for the day, and then I eventually realized that the only way to survive this time well was to surrender my "instructions" for the day. I started to realize that I could certainly write down A, B, C and G on a given day, but I couldn't be mad at myself or the kids when that's not what happened.  I had to surrender my expectations of how I thought things should go that day and yield to the reality of what was. 

Often what was wasn't bad, it just was. The house was messy because the kids had creativity played in it all day. Dinner was less than superb because, well who knows on any given day-- we went for a walk, an entire box of rice spilled all over the kitchen floor, my sensitive child had a massive meltdown of epic proportions and I needed to be intentional about responding to it- the list goes on and on, but you get the point. 



#2 Get Up Before the Kids

I know, I know-- this is SOOO hard sometimes, especially when the kids aren't sleeping. There were many, MANY mornings that our own kids weren't sleeping and I did not get up before them. Sometimes sleeping as long as possible, or handing a kid an I-pad in your bed IS the best choice. But, if you can get up even 15 minutes before your kids it makes a big difference in the morning. I try to get up at least 15-30 minutes before my girls. I use this time to drink hot coffee quietly, think thoughts without interruption, pray, read my Bible, and journal. It sounds so simple, but it makes a huge difference. 

I would also add that right now, during this unique season, that you should use this time for good things that fill you for the day. Try to resist the urge to get up and start checking work emails, or going straight to the news or social media. Make your coffee or tea, grab your Bible, a book, a journal, a pen...and sit down and fill your soul. 

The news, your emails, social media- they'll all be there later (and will likely be just as soul sucking then!).  There have been too  many days where I've grabbed my phone to check the news, ended up on Facebook, and then Aubrey wakes up and I've lost the precious time I had to fill my soul with good things. Don't do it! 


#3 Write a "Did-Do" List

I haven't done this in a while, but when I do it really helps to shape my perspective. A "Did-Do" List is kind of like a gratitude list (kind of) except that even on days when you're feeling a little grumpy you can still write down what you did do that day, even if you're struggling to be grateful. I encourage you to try this for a week-- put a notebook and pen next to your bed and commit to jotting 5-10 things down that you DID do that day. 

How often have you gotten to the end of your day feeling flustered and wondering what you actually accomplished? The "Did-Do" list is an antitidote to that discouraged feeling. I promise you, even though you feel like you didn't do anything all day, you most certainly did do something (most moms I know aren't sitting on their butts eating bon bons all day, despite popular opinion of stay at home moms!). 

Your "Did-Do" list might look like this (names will be different- obviously!): 

1. Did a 48 piece puzzle with Aubrey
2. Baked chocolate chip cookies 
3. Sent out an email for the business/freelance project I am working on
4. Made it to the grocery store and got all of the groceries put away
5. Watched Sugar Rush with my 12 year old
6. Called the insurance company to take care of that claim that needed to be fixed 
7. Pulled a sliver out of Ella's toe
8. Ordered that book for Ella and multi-vitamins for the kids. 

I could go on and on, but you get the idea...it's a collection of what you did accomplish during the day. I promise you, that even if you didn't mean for it to be a gratitude list, it has a sneaky way of making you feel a little bit more grateful for your day anyways. 

That's it for today. I'm off to figure out which X, P, Q, Z, R, L and N's we're going to do here, and I'm praying for some warmer weather as well! 

Love you all and please know this...You are a good mom and you are blessed, even when everything feels a little crazy and unexpected. 





Friday, April 10

Celebrating Easter 2020- Good Friday



Happy Good Friday, Friends!

We made it through the week! Many of us have now made it through 4 weeks of quarantine/schooling/full-time-at-home-life with kids!

Congratulations! Seriously.

One of the highlights of my day yesterday was facilitating a Zoom call with some of my momma friends from our church (theWELL Buffalo). There were babies running around, toddlers screaming and older children popping in to "wave" hello. We shared stories of homework woes, the ups and downs of the last four weeks at home, and our hearts on the good, the bad and the in-between in regards to this current, unique,  stage of life.

It was SO good to connect. It was so needed to hear each others stories-- because as moms, we can so often feel alone, even though we're rarely physically alone. And as moms in quarantine, with husband's still working (some from home and some not), and the extra stress of more meals, noisy hours, and anxiety invoking grocery shopping trips, we are all in yet another phase where the days can seem very, very long...but I will say the 4 weeks, in some ways, has already flown by (like the infamous analogy for young motherhood that the days seem long, but the years are short!).

This is going to be my last post for the week. I'm going to spend tomorrow and Sunday coloring easter eggs, prepping casseroles, prepping Easter dinner with my husband and kids (it's always a family affair around here!), catching up with friends and family via Zoom and FaceTime and hanging with my peeps (not the marshmallow kind, but maybe some of those too!).

We've enjoyed our time at home this week, although Ava still wakes up every morning lamenting the fact that we were supposed to go to Florida in 5 days. 4 days. 3 days. 2 days...

I'm not kidding. Every morning we hear about it.

Sigh.

It didn't help that the ground was covered in snow this morning...Lol. 

I keep telling her that she's going to survive and there will be plenty more Florida trips! 

But all in all, we are healthy and have had fun together. I even organized a salad bar at lunch yesterday and got a whole bunch of, "Wow, mom(s)!" from my kids (the shining standard of mom compliments!). 

Yesterday we finished writing Easter cards (not something we usually do, but wanted to send some extra love this year because we can't see anyone). Finally made and decorated our Peep houses (photos below), and freshened up our Resurrection Eggs, which we'll use at some point this weekend while talking with the girls about the Easter story.








We are planning to watch a Good Friday service through a local church here tonight, and will watch Easter Sunday services through our church on Sunday morning (as many of you will, I'm sure!).

All in all, it's a strange April for sure. A memorable Easter. A different kind of year altogether...

But one thing remains the same: 

Hebrews 13:8-- my key verse during this time of quarantine: 

Jesus Christ remains the SAME yesterday, today and forever


Blessings to you all. Have a Happy Easter. I'll be back early next week with some encouragement on surviving l-o-o-n-n-g-g days at home with your kids from a momma who has 10 full-time years of stay at home mom tricks up her sleeve!