So, you think you are a hot mess? Well, you probably are, but you are in good company.

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Here is our third child Bethany and Mommy, one week before our fifth child, Sarah Noelle was born.

This one is for a friend of mine who is pregnant right now with her first baby who recently mentioned the emotional roller coaster of pregnancy, and how hard it can be to handle. (Insert a big collective awwwwwww from all of the Mommy’s who have gone before you).  For the record:  We Mommys LOVE seeing pregnant women—because you are so CUTE!  AND, because it is you and not us!  Ha!  One of my dearest friends said to me not too long ago, “You must love being pregnant.”  I think I spit out my drink.  Um, no.  Definitely not. Nope.  I like it during months 3 through 6–and that’s being generous.  Puking, feeling like I constantly want to eat an entire chicken in one sitting, watching the scale go up and UP, crying over EVERYTHING, feeling like I live on the toilet and heartburn–oh the heartburn–I could go on and on…

I am not the skinny, no pregnancy symptoms and just DARLING preggers.  I have always, and STILL to this day have to watch EVERYTHING I eat.  Petite has never been, nor will it ever be an adjective used to describe me.  I was 10 lbs. 6 oz. when I was born for heaven’s sake.  And, if I can ever buy a size 4, it is because it is miss marked.  In which case I will absolutely buy it.

I am thankful that we women get to become pregnant and carry these precious gifts INSIDE of ourselves.  I love going to every ultrasound and seeing this little lima bean size baby grow into an alien-like looking thing, then into a baby—a real little person.  I cry every time.  With every baby; it never gets old.

BUT, I would like it if my husband could experience the hormones–just for a little while.  Not to make him miserable, but just to understand.  Like, really understand.  Now, don’t get me wrong, he has always been very understanding and EXTREMELY patient with me.  But, when I am sobbing and sobbing and trying to explain to him WHY I am crying—I probably sound like I am speaking in tongues—because there is no distinguishing what I am actually saying.

And then one time I saw it– the look in his eyes that screamed:  “Ooooh my goodness she is a psycho…is it safe to say something…no, just remain silent and keep hugging her…are the children safe with her…should I call a doctor to see if this is normal…um, what? yes, uh-huh, I know Honey…yes, you are beautiful…yes, she has lost it completely…”  But the worst part about it, was that I REALLY didn’t think I was that out of control—emotionally, until someone said to him, in FRONT of me, “how was she pregnant?”  I will never forget the look on his face…his eyes went wide and he was motionless…knowing it really wouldn’t be wise to actually say something, buuuut wanting to let them know “She was CRAZY!!!!  Yes, that girl right there—bona-fide loony!!”

I can laugh about it now, and I laughed about it then—because I was no longer pregnant.  So, pregnant Mommy, it is normal, VERY normal to feel like a hormonal hot MESS!  And, I want to prepare you too, for after birth.  You will most likely be hormonal for a few months after…and it is ok, very ok.  You will possibly feel isolated and alone.  And though I never experienced full-blown postpartum depression, I was for sure very emotional and sad at times.  Some days will be better than others.

This can be a great time for friends and family to pitch in–and not just physically with meals, laundry, etc.  But emotionally.  Call us, text us, write us a note offering kindness, concern and encouragement.  Yes, we want you to ask about the baby, of course.  But ask us about us, too.  I am not sure I would have made it through five pregnancies with out the incredible support of friends and family that I am so blessed with.  Because, more than ever, we need extra love, attention and help. It is amazing how the littlest of things can brighten our day.  We promise we won’t always be so needy; but pregnant and post pregnancy seasons are hard.  We are thankful for the season, but it is still hard.  This is where honest to goodness agape love is required–because we won’t be able to give back equally.  We want to, but for a season, we simply cannot.

So, enjoy the good days and know that the sun will come up tomorrow on the rougher days.  Just don’t think you are alone–that you are the only one.  You are not.  Reach out.  Pray, read His Word and be reminded of His goodness and faithfulness and that He cares about you, and your emotions.  Don’t feel guilty that your older children are watching tv all the time or movie after movie because you are too tired to play, read or do anything that requires physical effort.  It is just a season.  They will be fine–and most likely nominate you for ‘Mother of the Year’ for allowing them to watch so much.  It’s a win-win.

And give yourself time. Give your body time.  It took 9 months to create this precious baby, it will take your body time to heal and return to normal.  I tried to explain pregnancy hunger to my husband—but there’s just no explaining it.  Starving.  All. The. Time.  I remember being pregnant with Hannah and becoming depressed about what the scale was showing and really struggling with it.  I started to complain about it.  Then The LORD gave me a spiritual spanking that I needed. He said, “Well, if this is just too much for you, and it is making you SO miserable, I can take all that away, you know.” His gentle, but pointed reprimand was just what I needed.  How awful and vain of me.  Here I had this precious gift of life inside me and all I could think about was my weight.  Ugh.  Never again.

Sure, I do my best to eat healthy and exercise while I am pregnant, but after that moment, I refused to dwell on the number.  And with my last pregnancy I asked Petersen to hide the scale so I couldn’t obsess about it.  Wow did I enjoy this pregnancy so much more and really embrace this beautiful season in my life.  Because after all, I am not guaranteed another pregnancy.

So hang in there pregnant Momma!!  And husbands, just love them.  Hold them.  Don’t try to “fix them.”  There’s no fixing us.  Just love us. We always say that when we are pregnant, it is a family sacrifice for a year.  Because Mommy/Wife is only able to function at about 15%–and that’s being generous…But it is worth it, oh so worth it.  Pregnancy after pregnancy, so VERY worth it.

Blessings Friends.

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And THIS is why it is all worth it…these moments are on the horizon!!

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You know what? Nice matters.

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My Samuel with eyes so dilated, his eyes look black.

Today is rainy and cold, again.  Spring is NOT here yet.  Last week was long and HARD.  This weekend was super busy.  My husband and I are TIRED.  But, there’s no explaining that to five demanding children.  We push through.  And, of all days that I could have used some compassion and encouragement, it was today.  And, usually, I can find it, through a friend or reading in His Word.  Not today.  The grey clouds and rain remained, and I was feeling discouraged.  My son Samuel needed an eye exam.  My husband had some things at work that he needed to be there for, so that meant everyone besides Hannah had to come with me.  So, I had my 2 month old, my potty training 2-year-old, my four-year old, and my six-year-old son with me this morning at the eye doctor.

The place was beautiful–it even had a “cinema room” with a huge tv and a movie playing; complete with bean bag chairs.  Great.  All was going smooth until the Dr.’s assistant came for us.  I could tell by the smug look on his face, he was not thrilled to have pulled Samuel’s chart.  No smile. Nothing.  We follow him back, and squeeze into the exam room.  He works with Samuel, just friendly enough to not make Samuel cry and then I can tell my girls need to go potty.  Great.  But hey look!  There is a bathroom right across the hall–I am talking 5 feet maybe.  Perfect.  I’ll just scoot in there with the bigger girls and let him continue on with Samuel.  He notices we are headed that way and says “Ugh, I cannot do anything further until you are back…” to which I just looked at him blankly, like, “um, what would you have me do?  Do ya want to wait a few minutes and let my little girls use the potty or clean up a mess of pee?  Totally up to you Buddy.”  He must have read my blank expression and said, “ok, go take them.”  I was proud of myself for binding my tongue, though it was HARD.  I hurried the girls as fast as I could, and they did great cooperating.  When I walked out of the bathroom, he was waiting outside the room and walked back in without a word and continued on with Sam’s exam.  I was tempted to defend myself with “Just so you know, I took them both potty before we left.  This was a 45 minute drive for us.  And I have been trying to take them potty while we’ve been waiting, but the sweet old lady in the bathroom told me ‘Sorry Honey, I am going to be a minute,’ after I knocked to see if there was actually anyone in there it was taking so long!”  But, what would that have done?  Help?  Maybe.  But, I doubt it, so I held my tongue and forced a smile.

I really could have used some compassion, a smile, some kind gesture.  I know my family is a lot and I never want to be a burden on anyone.  And, I would have loved to just bring Samuel.  But, I couldn’t.  Because as far as I know, it is still frowned upon to leave children home alone.

All this to say; nice matters.  And we have a choice.  I know not everyone will choose compassion, kindness and just niceness (totally not a word, but I like it), but each one of us can choose it and make a difference with the people we come into contact with everyday.  And, did you know that you can encourage someone across the world from you?  My husband’s uncle who lives in Thailand recently joined Instagram; and can I tell you how much of an encourager he is to me?  What a blessing he has been these past few weeks–just by comments he has left on Instagram!  My Pastor taught yesterday on the great power God has given us; and we have a choice one way or the other.  I thought about it the whole way home and wanted to share his teaching and add a few more to his list…

We have the power to create life and the power to take life.

We have the power to love and the power to hate.

We have the power to submit and the power to rebel.

We have the power to create and the power to destroy.

His question for us at the end was, “What are you doing TODAY with the power God’s given you?”

I love that.

And with that, there could be endless more to add to that list.  A few that came to my mind–especially as women and Mommy’s were:

We have the power to encourage each other as Moms and we have the power to discourage each other (and remaining silent can be just as discouraging as words).

We have the power to be a part of the solution and we have the power to contribute to the problem.

We have the power to think the best in people and the power to think the worst in people.

We have the power to be selfless and the power to be selfish.

And, we have the power to pass judgment and the power to show grace and compassion.

Lord help me get these right more often than not.

Blessings Friends.

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This is the face of one tired Momma, who could have used some kindness today.

Judge away! I am good with it; like really I am. I am perfect and so are you.

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This is Lucy’s face while taking a breath from her screaming moment, before I put her in time-out. See the lady behind her! She was mortified for me! Ha!

My parents had just left town. It was time for my next prenatal visit. Fortunately, my two older children were at school. So, I only had two children in tow. Now, I’ve taken all four of them places and done just fine, so only having two should’ve been no problem. Well, it wasn’t. No, actually it was. But, had these been my first two children, this visit would have been horribly devastating, completely humiliating and I would have hung my head so low as a Mom, it would’ve taken a crane to lift it back up.

Buuuut, this time, I was magnificent. You might totally disagree. But I think I was nothing short of brilliant. Why? Because I had the know with all to pull out my phone and capture the awesomeness that was taking place. Whereas years prior, I would have wanted nothing more than to erase such a memory.

New Mommy listen close. I love you. I really do. I love the sparkles and twinkle in your eyes. You are completely adorable to me. Now please, do not misunderstand my tone; I am not patronizing you, I really mean all of that. I was just like you. And, in many ways we are still similar. I still teared up at every ultrasound, seeing this beautiful miracle of God happening inside me. I often wondered and asked, “Why me Lord? I am a wretch of a person. How can You be SO good to me?” I still loved washing new baby clothes in Dreft. And I too, waited excited and anxious to meet this new little life.

But, with all those sweet similarities; there was one thing that I hope we differ in. I was as judgmental as they come. I would see children crying, thrashing and having COMPLETE meltdowns at the grocery store…and I would look at the Mom–and she was COMPLETELY oblivious to the thrashing maniac that was in her cart. I almost wanted to ask the Mom if I could lay my hands on her child and pray for her kid—for clearly they were possessed. I am glad I didn’t, or that Mom most likely would’ve laid her hands on me…and not in prayer.

Now, I get it! How many times I have had that kid in my cart, and you know what? I keep my eyes focused on my task at hand –get what we need, and get out. Keep your head down, ignore the noise and the stares; get the milk, the eggs, the cereal—no, not the cereal, we can live without that for a day or two. And, I completely disregard the possessed child in my cart. Because chances are; this is one of those times where I know there is NOTHING that can be done to console my kid. They need to be disciplined and put in line. But, I also need food; and we are here now, so we are getting said food. Sometimes I wish I could have a digital sign that flashed what I was thinking, “I am sorry Publix shoppers, my child is having a meltdown; but I need food, so you are going to have to deal with it for few more minutes. But, have no fear! I will be addressing this issue at home. Thank you and enjoy the rest of your trip here at Publix, where shopping is a pleasure.”

Oh, there are so many things my child would never do; watch more than a half an hour of television, eat crap food, get their way from whining, and be awarded candy for obedience. They would never hit, speak disrespectfully to me—or anyone for that matter. And I, as a Mom would never yell, never be sarcastic, never look like a haggard mess out of the house, lose my temper, especially with a two-year old, um, no never. I am an adult after all. They are two. Please, I got this. I am sorry all you Moms who can’t control your children. So sorry.

I wish I was kidding. I’m not. I actually thought ALL of those things. But, as God would have it, my first-born helped in removing the scales from my oh so covered eyes.  And my fourth child, Lucy added the exclamation point!

My Hannah. My strong-willed child. Actually, I like to refer to her as “passionate.” That sounds better, yes, passionate. Woe to the Mom who has a Samuel or Bethany like child first. You might just think you are the best Mom ever and look down your nose at every Mom who has an unruly kid. My only son, Samuel and my third child, Bethany are the types of kids that you sometimes want to ask “Um, hi, I am your Mom, and if you need any parenting, I’ll be over here.” Seriously, they are just something special. Thank God, I didn’t have them first. I probably would’ve had my first parenting book written before they were three.

And everything was going according to plan, until Hannah turned two. I can actually recall a conversation Petersen and I had regarding parenting. It was something along the lines of “If we do everything right, follow the suggestions of all these parenting books, discipline our kids, etc., they are not going to have all those “kid issues” other kids have, like the terrible two’s with tantrums and all…” Oh, how we laugh about that conversation now.

I don’t say this to make you feel bad about judging like we did.  I want you to know I welcome it. I really do. And, I won’t waste my breath like so many did to me…telling me, “just wait, just wait until they turn two. You’ll think twice about wanting so many kids.” I want you to enjoy ignorant bliss. Truly. Look at all us crazy Moms with crying, thrashing kids and look away, embarrassed for us, thinking to yourself, “whew, I feel bad for that lady! My kid will never do that!” And, then rub your sweet pregnant belly or look back at your sweet UNDER TWO year old child and look at us with pity. And, I will give you the biggest, most sincere smile. Enjoy it. Enjoy your baby, enjoy looking on at us with sweet pity. Because one day, you too will laugh at yourself. I promise.

So, as I sat at the doctor’s office that day with Bethany and Lucy in a very tight waiting room; Lucy lost it. And, it was over a life-changing event of course. She wanted to look at my phone and I said no. The NERVE!!! So, being another “passionate” child like Hannah, she screamed. I mean SCREAMED–like her leg had just been amputated with no anesthesia. I am convinced the ENTIRE building heard my child. And what did I do? I made her sit down in time-out; right there in the waiting room. And, did she sit sweetly in time-out? Ah, no. She layed herself on the floor crying, completely distraught. The two pregnant moms in there with me felt so uncomfortable, I felt bad for them. They had judgment and pity written all over their faces. They couldn’t look at me, let alone make eye contact. I wanted to say “It’s ok, judge away. Really. I get it. I did it too. I am totally ok with it. Now, excuse me while I take pictures of my kid and text them to my husband.  He has a stressful job you know, and this will make him laugh.”  No doubt they thought I was totally cruel.

Lucy, sitting so sweetly in time-out…

There comes a point as a Mom, when you just let go and surrender to the truth about children and about who you are as a Mom; finally comfortable in your own skin. I pray it doesn’t take you as long as it took me. They are human; therefore they are imperfect. They will have melt downs over the DUMBEST things, they will embarrass you, throw up on you, poop on you, spit up on every nice top you have – sparing only the tops that you don’t care about. And you, you will lose your cool faster than you ever thought possible, you will cry and want to quit more often than you’d like to admit. You will wonder if you have caused permanent damage to your child’s well being from things you’ve said in anger and you’ll question your decisions about almost everything.

But, you know what? You are perfect. You were the perfect Mom before you became pregnant; you are the perfect Mom while raising an unruly toddler or a passionate youth. You are the perfect Mom when you blow it again and yell at your kid. And you are the perfect Mom when you go to your child in love and apologize; they get it. They see it. They know. Only you can love your child as fiercely as you do. Only you can make boo-boos or owies feel better with just a kiss, only you can say I love you to your child in a glance, and they know what you are saying. Only your voice will do at bedtime, even if you can’t sing—like me, it is your voice they want. You are the one they will search for at performances; and nothing will fill your heart like watching your child’s face BEAM when they finally spot you, Mom.

So, as we end this week, which was a bit trying for me, and head into the weekend, remember that God made you— specifically you for your child. And no matter how many times you *think* you’ve blown it. You haven’t. I haven’t. You, we, are perfect. Perfect parents? No. Perfect for our children? Yes. So, bring on the judgment new Mommy’s, I am totally ok with it. I still think you are precious.

Our sweet Lucy. She’s a passionate one, but oh how we adore this sweet thing!

I’m the perfect wife. Just not according to my husband.

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My whole world out enjoying our rare snow here in north Georgia.

 

This has been on my mind to write for days.  But, being snowed in with my husband and five little people has made it a little tough to get my fingers to keys.  I still have five little people around me, but thanks to the Olympics I recorded and still being wiped out from the snow yesterday, I think I have a few moments.  Maybe…

Oswald Chamber’s devotion could not have been more fitting for what is on my heart.  Forgive me, but I must share the whole section from today.  It is worth writing.

February 14

THE DISCIPLINE OF HEARING

“Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops.” (Matthew 10:27)

Sometimes God puts us through the experience and discipline of darkness to teach us to hear and obey Him.  Song birds are taught to sing in the dark, and God puts us into “the shadow of His hand” until we learn to hear Him (Isaiah 49:2).  “Whatever I tell you in the dark…”–pay attention when God puts you into darkness, and keep your mouth closed while you are there.  Are you in the dark right now in your circumstances, or in your life with God?  If so, then remain quiet.  If you open your mouth in the dark, you will speak while in the wrong mood–darkness is the time to listen.  Don’t talk to other people about it; don’t read books to find out the reason for the darkness; just listen and obey.  If you talk to other people, you cannot hear what God is saying.  When you are in the dark, listen, and God will give you a very precious message for someone else once you are back in the light.

After every time of darkness, we should experience a mixture of delight and humiliation.  If there is only delight, I question whether we have really heard God at all.  We should experience delight for having heard God speak, but mostly humiliation for having taken so long to hear Him!  Then we will exclaim, “How slow I have been to listen and understand what God has been telling me!”  And yet God has been saying it for days and even weeks.  But once you hear Him, He gives you the gift of humiliation, which brings a softness of heart–a gift that will always cause you to listen to God now.”

From Oswald Chamber’s My Utmost for His Highest

There are many relationships in my life that I wish were better.  I continue to pray about them, hoping that in time they will become better.   But, I cannot afford to dwell on them–it affects me too much.  Which, in turn affects how I am around my family.  So, I am ok with them not being where I want them to be right now–because I know that  I am seeking His guidance and wisdom through it, and when He wants things to change they will–so long as I keep my eyes fixed on Him–not on the other person.

But, there is one relationship that I cannot look past, hope to fix with time, or put on the back burner.  And that’s the relationship with my beloved; my husband.  If your relationship started like mine, I knew I loved this man fairly quickly after meeting him.  I always wanted to be with him, we talked for hours, behaved recklessly at times, were spontaneous and already knew the name of our first son before we were even engaged.  We were in love. 

I remember hearing older couples telling us how things would change, you will go through tough times, blah, blah, blah.  We were two crazy fools, ignoring the warnings of the wise–thinking our relationship was something special–untouchable.  Don’t get me wrong, I think there is something magical about newly married couples.  They have sparkles in their eyes instead of bloodshot tired eyes.  They wake up to a real alarm clock instead of little human ones.  They can do WHATEVER they want–ALL the time!!  They can spoil each other with their time and money, instead of using every ounce of time, energy and resource on the little people God has blessed them with.  Again, as life goes on, these changes happen.  They are wonderful changes; changes I wouldn’t trade for any amount of money and time.  But, if we aren’t careful, the very person we love more than anything, might just be left…empty.

Pride is a big issue for me.  God has dealt me some pretty good blows to reveal that to me.  I pray there have been enough that He doesn’t have to teach me anymore about the dangers of pride. I love His refinement of me, but can we be all done with the pride issue?  Haven’t we conquered that one?  The jury is still deliberating…

When I look at myself as a wife, I can be puffed up.  I plan yummy meals, do the cleaning, the laundry, keep five little people fed and alive everyday, organize birthday parties, keep up with their school work/activities, make doctor and dentist appointments, bring five people to said places for cleanings, check-ups, shots, etc. Throw in the occasional ER trip, being either pregnant or with a newborn, work out with my girl Jillian a few times a week AND potty training a strong willed two year old and I feel like a full fledged Olympian!  I don’t say this to impress you, because really, I just want to impress my husband, and I know you all do these same things too. Every.  Day.  And many of you get to add working and going to school to that awesome list.  Yet I still want my husband to read my thoughts: “Look at all I am doing around here!  Aren’t you so lucky to have a wife like me?  You know, not all women can do this Bub.”  Excuse me while I go vomit at my own words.  Completely embarrassing.  But I would be a big fat liar if I said I thought otherwise at times.  Don’t judge me too harshly.  Haven’t  I mentioned that I am still a work in progress? 

God has been dealing with this whole pride thing since about year two of our marriage.  There was a point when I looked at him and really wondered if we had made a terrible mistake.  We got through it of course, and time went on.  Children started to enter our life, and things got harder.  But, we were still great, so I thought.  And, most of the time we were.  We kept plowing through the insanity of raising lots of little people.  And then it happened.  A devastating blow.  The darkness.  It rocked our marriage to the CORE.  I was heart broken, afraid, alone and hopeless.  But I knew our marriage was worth fighting for.  Or, was it?  Yes, it was because I knew God had confirmed this man to be my husband when I was 21 years old–He told me through His word.  And, I proclaimed those confirmation verses on our wedding day before God, family and friends.  So I clung to those verses and kept reminding myself of this truth : My God cannot lie.  It is impossible for Him.  So, we picked ourselves up, and started to sort through the rubble.  Piece by painful piece.  We dealt with it.  But as long as we are living for Christ, we have an enemy that is real; he’s a liar, a deceiver, a manipulator and knows our every weakness and he never tires.  He is constantly looking for an in…some way to create a wedge between husband and wife. 

In our first year of marriage, I remember a specific argument.  What it was about?  No idea, something dumb, no doubt.  But, as I sat in our room, puffed up with pride and he went to the guest bedroom, I thought.  “Well, I’ll show him.  I will read my Bible, and God will surely reveal something about his behavior and how horribly wrong he is and how holy I am to seek His Word during a fight.”  God did speak to me that night–just not as I thought. 

I was reading in Matthew when Jesus was in Gethsemane.  And, I will never forget the significance of that nights’ reprimand.  “Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.’  He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled.  Then he said to them, ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.  Stay here and keep watch with me.’  Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed.  ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.  Yet not as I will, but as you will.’  Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping.  ‘Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?’ he asked Peter.  ‘Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.  The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”  Matthew 26:36-41 There it is…the driving force behind every apology and admission of pride.  Pray.  Pray for my husband, my marriage and myself. I refuse to give the enemy a victory.  I am a selfish person by nature–as my former Pastor Bob Coy used to say when teaching on selfishness “I am always on my mind;” but Christ in me gives me hope to be as selfless as humanly possible.  But, it takes work.  A lot.  But, I am up for the challenge, I am a competitor at heart.  And I know who is at my aide at all times.  And though this was YEARS ago, there will always be a new darkness to walk through, a hurt feeling to talk about and a choice to make; either stay puffed up and prideful, or humble myself and be refined.

Just as recently as last week, we had another tough conversation.  I’ve been in survival mode these past two months having a newborn and four other children to care for; and with that, totally taking my husband for granted.  Appreciate him, you bet!  I tell him all the time how much I love him and do things to show him that.  BUT, you know what is even better than doing what I think shows him love?  Asking him about what I can do that tells him I love him.  Because what I thought was showing love, wasn’t.  It was maybe a little, but not what he needed.  How lucky I am that my husband is not a “needs lots of friends type guy.”  Never has been, according to him; totally comfortable in his own skin.  He loves, adores and cherishes me.  He wants to spend all his time with me and doesn’t want to share me with anyone; except five little people, of course.  I am his best friend, period. 

We are different a bit in this way.  Can anyone else relate?  I LOVE my girlfriends.  I need their ears to listen, their arms for hugs, their honesty to redirect, and their unconditional love to forgive.  And, being a stay-at-home Mommy leaves time (some brief moments between the madness) to chit-chat and meet that need for me.  Before moving to Georgia, I was blessed to be a part of a very special group of ladies.  It was a Bible study group like none other.  We met once a week over coffee and treats, and we listened, learned, cried, sobbed on occasion and prayed together.  It was real and it was safe.  I’m not sure I’ll experience anything like that again.  But I hope so.  Those Thursday mornings filled me up.  Now, I am pouring myself into His Word, and He’s keeping me filled.  But, what am I doing to ensure that my husband is being filled up?  Well, nothing. 

It took us years to get to the point where we are now; able to speak freely.  Like really.  Oh it is HARD to get this honest with anyone, but is it ever worth it!  But what is even harder is having these conversations with out being defensive.  We’ve had hard conversations our whole marriage, but we used to be so prideful that when we shared what was hurting our feelings, we would defend our actions and justify our words.  Don’t do that.  Learn from us.  Remember that the person you are arguing with would die for you.  I know that is a bit heavy; but it helps me when pride wants to creep in.  I take a long moment, think about who is in front of me; think about what he has done and what he would do for me and remember that the argument — or “heated fellowship” as Pastor Bob would say, is not with him.  It is the enemy who is at work; who would love nothing more than to make our marriage another statistic.  Don’t let him.  It is worth the fight.

So, what can I do, we do, as wives to foster this thing called marriage?  Especially when life is pulling us in every direction?  I often think about something Priscilla Shirer once said.  She reminded us that although there are TONS of good things to do; give here, volunteer there, serve over here, etc.  Not all of it is God ordained.  Is it good to volunteer at your child’s school?  Yes.  Is it wonderful to serve at your church?  Yes.  Is it a blessing to sponsor a Compassion child, visit the elderly, foster children, go on mission trips, lead a Bible study and put on a roof with Habitat for Humanity?  Yes, yes and YES!  But, be careful!  Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, keep your lines of communication open with Him, and let Him lead you to what you should say yes to, and what you should leave for another sister or brother to do.  Do not spread yourself too thin.  Remember, it is ok to say no, I’m sorry I just can’t.

Here are the top 8 things that can honor your husband right now, today in my humble opinion:

1. Sleep train your child!  How in the world can you be intimate with your spouse if you have a little one in bed with you?  Now, any husband reading this; don’t think a sleep trained child will guarantee you more action; I’m just suggesting your chances are better.  So make a plan together and reclaim your bedroom!  I have no problem promoting sex with your husband–just ask Kay Arthur!  One of the most beloved and respected Bible teachers of all time will go on and on about this, while we all blush…

2.  Make the awful phone calls/tasks that he can’t do at work that he’s asked you to do.  Like calling the insurance company about billing questions.  I am in the midst of these right now after having Sarah.  Don’t wait.  Make them a priority.  It will mean the world to him.  I used to put these off as long as possible…

3.  Don’t dump kid drama on him when he walks through the door.  Sure, you were pooped on, spit up on twenty times, had to stick your two year old in time-out all day, cleaned up spilled milk, sat with said two year old over and over again while they are trying to go potty, hid in the closet while making those awful phone calls just so you can hear the person speaking broken English about your insurance deductible, and thought about running away too many times to count.  But, wait.  Please wait until the kids are in bed and you’ve had a chance to breathe.  Chances are, by the time they are in bed, the things that made you want to quit being a Mommy will make you both laugh as you’re retelling your adventuresome day.  But if you dump it on him as he walks through the door, he might just want to go back to work.  There are those days though where it can’t wait, and I just give him the “look” when he walks in; hand him the baby, kiss him and excuse myself to our bedroom for a quick Mommy time-out.  He gets it.  And after a few days home in a row with everyone, he really gets it.  Nothing to put your nerves on edge like a whiney six year old and a two year old that has a voice that we are convinced can shatter glass.  Seriously, we are just waiting for it to happen at dinner.  “Booooom!”  Water and glass flying everywhere as a result of Lucy talking.  Not screaming people, talking.  My head is twitching just thinking about her voice…oh wait, she’s right there, talking…

4.  You plan a date.  Sure, having your hubby plan a date is wonderful.  But, usually, we women are the planners.  Line up a babysitter and plan something you used to do before kids.  Or just drive around.  In complete silence and relish the awesomeness of it. 

5.  Set him up for success with the kids.  If your husband is like mine, they are awesome.  And they want to be everything for their kids.  But, they have the weight of the world on their shoulders.  Look at your calendar, see when they could take each child on a date.  Talk to him about it and make it happen.  The more kids you have, the harder this gets, but it can be done.

6.  Before you say “yes”, say “Let me talk to my husband about it and I’ll let you know.”  I STILL work hard at this; and often fail.   I am a yes girl.  If something sounds great to me, I am the first to say “sure, yes, we will be there!”  But, I’ve learned that often times, the *idea* of something is much better than the actual thing.  I’m an idealist, he’s a realist.  Once he walks me through exactly what I *think* will be so fun, I quickly rethink it, and usually agree with him.  This has been huge for us.

7.  Don’t ask for forgiveness, don’t do it!  God has recently convicted me of these last two things.  If you give me long enough, I am pretty sure I could justify just about anything.  And there’s a saying that goes around, “Better to ask for forgiveness than permission.”  How do I know when this is bordering manipulation?  When I am already thinking about how to justify my purchase before I’ve even bought it!  Because nine times out of ten, it is a selfish purchase.  I feel I deserve it, whether I should buy it or not doesn’t matter; I think I deserve it.  And, my husband, wanting to provide my every need, want and desire doesn’t want to disappoint me–even if we really can’t afford what I just bought.  We are a single income family with five children that already eat like teenagers.  We are on an extremely tight budget.  I know what I should or should not be buying.  But, do you know how many times Petersen has made me take back an item because it wasn’t in the budget?  Never, not once.  He works his financial magic and I get to keep my selfish goodie.  Shame on me.  I refuse to dishonor him that way again.

8.  Don’t casually comment about things you don’t have/wish you had that you know you can’t have right now.  We need a new car.  And, when I say new, I mean gently used.  Our family is bigger; we flat out need more room to fit.  I know that, he knows that.  But, it is not in the budget right now.  And, after I made a remark last week about how frustrating it is fitting in this car, not having room for a stroller in the back, etc.  I saw it.  He didn’t need to say anything.  There was no anger or frustration with me for what I said–it was true, we need a bigger car.  But reminding him of that fact was so not necessary.  I immediately apologized and raved about how much I love our 2002 Yukon and started reminiscing about how we’ve brought home our babies in that car.  How awful of me.  What did that do, really?  Besides remind him of that need, among many, that he wishes he could meet.  Again, shame on me.  And, just in case you think I stopped there and learned from that, I didn’t.  The words flew out of my mouth faster than I could catch them and I complained about how small our house is.  Ahhhhh!!!  Shut it Lori!  This house is wonderful, we are just a LOT of people!   And, I am not sure any house comes ready with a padded room…or at least until we design one ourselves.

Maybe we are the only ones.  Maybe I am the only wife who struggles with these things.  I hope so!  Maybe you have already dealt with them.  But, if you haven’t, I pray He leads you to a richer relationship with your best friend, as He’s leading me.  I need to let God work on my husband, and allow God to work on me.  I am trusting Him to bring me into the darkness of the refinery to come out the other side letting His light shine through me.  Though I am not a perfect wife; I am perfect for my husband.  Blessings friends.

 

 

The Great Surrender

Copy (1) of IMG_2082One Surrendered Mommy…

Hi there! My name is Lori Benjamin—better known as Mommy, Mom, or Hannah’s Mom, Samuel’s Mom, Bethany’s Mom, Lucy’s Mom or Sarah Noelle’s Mom. It used to be Lori, Mrs. Benjamin, Coach Lori or Coach Benjamin. When did it all change? 7+ years ago when we had our first child, Hannah. I don’t think, no, I know I didn’t think it would change quite so fast, but it did. And, it has taken me a while to surrender to my new title.

I knew I always wanted to be a Mommy, but that was going to happen later, so was marriage for that matter. I was going to travel to Florence to start work on my Masters Degree in Art History, work towards my Doctorate to teach Art History in college, specializing in American Art. And marriage? Yeah, that wasn’t happening until my thirties, no doubt. Huh, NONE of those things happened. Instead I met this baseball player, who defied all the adjectives associated with collegiate baseball players. Fast forward quite a few years and here I am; married to said baseball player for over 11 years, with a house full of five beautiful children. And, oh yeah, I am a stay at home Mommy, not a professor of Art History. So, yes, I am “just a Mom.” (Oh how that used to sting.)

I was not that girl growing up dreaming about being a stay at home Mommy. My parents worked, both of them, so that was normal for me. They were teachers, which was awesome. We had tons of time together and I never felt as though I missed anything. However, once my life was radically changed in college when I accepted Jesus Christ as My Savior…everything shifted, especially my priorities. But, this relationship is called “a walk.” And, I think for me, it has been more like “a crawl.” At least in the beginning. Maybe that’s why we, as new believers are supposed to be fed milk, not solids yet, because we aren’t even walking yet!

The Great Surrender. There are countless areas in my life that I have finally surrendered to. Here are just a few…my life to Christ, my role vs. my husbands, my need to be perfect, my need to keep up with other Mommy’s, my role as Mommy, my need to make everyone happy, and I could go on and on. About two years ago, I finally surrendered, to ALL of it.

Prior to my great surrender, I had my quiet times, but they were inconsistent at best. I need Him, His grace, His mercy, His love, His wisdom, everyday. I surrender.

More than a few years ago, I still was trying to be equal in leadership with my husband—meaning, if we were at a stalemate in a matter, I wanted to win. What a joy it is to be surrendered to his leadership. Granted, he is an amazing leader, so that makes the whole submission thing beautiful. You lead, I will follow. I surrender.

I am, nor will I EVER be perfect, neither will my kids for crying out loud. I am counting on the fact that He’s not done with me yet and I will get better, but perfect—ha! Fat chance. And, you know what else was so freeing to REALLY discover? Not another person in this world is perfect, no one, not one, so why was I trying so hard to keep up with someone/thing that didn’t even exist? Lord only knows. Maybe because in the early years of parenting (and as far as I can tell, it is going to continue throughout parenting), we never really know if we are doing a good job, making the right choices, etc. But, The Lord chose ME to be Hannah, Samuel, Bethany, Lucy and Sarah Noelle’s Mommy, so that makes me a perfect fit, for them. I’m not perfect. I surrender.

My role as Mommy. Good grief where do I begin!?! To say I was overwhelmed is like saying the Titanic was like a dingy. Oh, and I was completely overwhelmed when Hannah was 2 months old. Yes, that’s right, only one child, hardly 2 months old, and I thought I was going to DIE—literally. Now I have 5, and sure, there are times when I still get overwhelmed. Not sure I’d be human if I didn’t. But, those times are few and far between, thank heavens. Why? I FINALLY surrendered. I took a hard look around and realized that these children needed a leader, and after looking at what I was doing to be a good leader, it was clear MAJOR adjustments needed to be made. So, I pulled up my big girl Mommy panties and am now leading my children, as a Mommy with a plan. Hallelujah! I surrender.

The final major surrender was trying to make everyone happy. I am a people pleaser—to the core! I am hyper sensitive. I want everyone to like me and think the best in me. Guess what chick, it ain’t happening. No matter how hard I tried, I still let people down; still offended unintentionally and NEVER could I make everyone happy. And it HURT! I hated feeling as though I wasn’t good enough, doing enough, saying enough, etc. This was probably the hardest one to surrender to, but I did. My job is to love The Lord with my whole heart, mind and soul and to love others. I do the best I can and surrender all the rest. I surrender.

I have such a love of family and especially Mommy’s. Oh how I LOVE family and I LOVE Mommy’s. I think Mommy’s are amazing. Period. Just amazing. And I want Mommy’s to thrive!! I have learned so much over the past 7 years, that I WISH I knew early on, oh the pits I could have avoided. My hope is to add value to your life and your family’s life in some way. DISCLAIMER: Not many—if any for that matter are my ideas!! I am going to gladly give credit to every person that I have learned from. If it is one of those rare ideas that did develop in my brain, I might just write it in all caps, as I get pretty excited to have an original idea that actually works! Ha! But, really, if it is any good at all, I’m sure The Lord gave it to me as a “Here you go my sweet child, try this, it might help.” So, never mind, none of these things are mine. But, I will gladly share!!

So, why blog? Good question. Well, for starters, I love to talk. And, being a stay at home Mommy, leaves me with little faces to talk to. Love it, yes. But, oh how I enjoy adult conversation!! Even if through comments and discussions. Also, and I say this with complete humility and thankfulness…I have had many friends encouraging me to do this for a long time now. Pretty sure that is the best compliment ever—“please start a blog to tell me what you are doing, learning, and teaching your kids!” One of my biggest hold ups as to why I haven’t started one yet is FEAR. And the biggest fear: people thinking that I am claiming to be super Mom or the “best” mom, or that I have all my junk together. I DON’T. I DO have a lot together and I feel like we are on the right track, but I have much to learn…everyday.

So, here it is. My blog. Lori Benjamin’s guide to Motherhood. Lessons learned through horrible failures, great triumphs and the grace of Jesus Christ. I think I will start with the beginning…for the new Mommy’s or the future Mommy’s. Things like: “What you really need to buy for this baby” and “How do I get this baby to sleep so I can sleep!” I am a FIRM believer in sleep!! Both for Mommy and child. It can happen, I promise. I’ve done it five times now—with 5 very different personalities…

And, on top of my love of being a Mommy, I love art, home decorating, photography, eating healthy, exercising, fashion, scrapbooking, being outdoors and all things old…in hopes to do something creative with it…when time permits of course…

I sure hope you’ll join me on this journey…and pass along your Mommy wisdom too. We are in this together.