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The Heart Behind It

It recently occurred to me that I went about this whole blogging thing the wrong way. In total Sarah fashion, I dove in head first. Which is great, except I want this blog to have purpose. And it does…I just never shared my heart behind it with you. So I suppose it’s time to do that.

Motherhood can be one of the most isolating experiences we, as women, face. It is beautiful. It is hard. It is love. It is lonely. This loneliness is something that I’ve felt down to my bones at times since becoming a mama. That’s not to say that I don’t love my baby, because I do. And that’s not to say that I don’t love being a mom, because I do. But being mama is not an easy job and sometimes the day-to-day of it just wears you down and makes you feel like nobody on the face of this earth knows what you are going through. I believe that Satan can use that loneliness to lure us into feeling like we are uncared for, unknown, unloved, and unimportant. But we don’t have to succumb to these feelings. Psalm 139 makes it very clear that none of these things are true — and we know that — but we tend to forget.

My purpose is for this page to be a place where we fight these things together. Where I can share my stories, with the hope that someone somewhere might be able to let out a sigh of relief and say, “same”. A place where mamas come, and they feel less alone. Where you can visit after a hard day and know, “I’m doing my best, my best is enough, and I am infinitely loved by my Creator even when I fall short”. I want this to be a place where community is built, because none of us were meant to walk this road alone. My hope is that someday, this page will be a resource for the mamas who walk this road behind us. But for now, I just want it to be a place where we can all join together and make this journey a little more relational and a little less lonely.

If you are feeling alone, forgotten, uncared for, unloved…read Psalm 139:1-18 below:

You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all of my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, ever there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’ even the darkness will not be dark to you’ the night will shine like the day, for darkness is light to you. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand – when I awake, I am still with you.

God’s Tender Mercies

Confession: I hate road trips with a baby. They make me so anxious, and just downright grumpy. (Please tell me I’m not the only one.) But last week, God used a road trip to remind me of His goodness towards us.

My in-laws live about 4.5 hours away on a good day. Sometimes the drive can take much longer, mostly depending on I-35. Last week, the latter was the case. The baby cried most of the drive, traffic was horrible, I was irritated, and it was pouring rain. But wait, there’s more: about halfway home, we got a flat tire. Typically, this would be something that just makes you want to scream. But instead, in a church parking lot on the side of I-35 in a rinky-dink town, I couldn’t help but be grateful. Yes we had a flat, but the rain had nearly stopped and our Ruthie girl had just fallen asleep – and then stayed asleep for most of the debacle. This was such a small reminder to me of the ways that God provides for us. So many things could have gone wrong here – Ruthie could have had a total meltdown, we could have had a blow out on the highway, it could have been an hour later and all of the tire shops could have been closed, the rain could have still been in a downpour – but nothing did. How often do things like this happen in our lives? We face a situation that feels so big and overwhelming only to remember that God is for us and He always has a perfect plan. Does that mean that things won’t be messy, or that it will work out exactly the way we hope? No. Not at all. Does that mean that we won’t have to buy a used tire from a guy named Antonio? No. But it does mean that we will be okay.

In a situation where I would usually be grumpy and miserable, God reminded me that He constantly offers us tender mercies…sometimes we just have to choose to see them.

mercies 3

mercies 2

Advice from your Mama

I have a baby that doesn’t sleep. No matter what I’ve tried, no matter what I do, I just can’t get her to be a good sleeper. I’ve read sleep article after sleep article, to no avail. “Give her rice cereal, she’s probably hungry”, my mom said over and over. I brushed it off because nowadays there’s some mixed research on whether or not it’s the best option (and hello I’ve done all my reading so I obviously know everything). The no sleep saga continues. We finally got to the point that we thought “maybe there is some medical issue that is hindering Ruthie’s sleep”. Off we go to the doctor to ensure a clean bill of health. And would you guess what the doctor ordered? Rice. Cereal. (Insert eye roll about how I had to call my mom and tell her she was right all along). Oh how I wish I had just listened to my mother. Fast forward a couple of weeks — it hasn’t helped, but I have learned a lesson. There’s a reason God gave us moms, and they have some sage advice. Maybe we should listen to our mamas a little bit more. So I did some research, and here’s advice from some mamas who I know and trust. Some of it is serious, some comical, some spiritual. Do with it what you will…or don’t.

#1: “When they fall at the park, DO NOT make eye contact!  If there is no audience to the fall, they will usually just get right back up.  But if they know you saw it the tears will start.  And the wailing.  And the “Pick me up and carry me because now I have a boo boo”.  Just look away, Mama.  Look.  Away.”

#2: “Put your phone down! They will not stay little for long. Pay attention to them and talk to them. And lock the bathroom door!”

#3: “Give yourself grace! It’s a season.”

#4: “Take the real small play doh container, like you put in party treat bags, to restaurants with you. After they eat, let them make peas, worms, whatever while parents enjoy eating. Be sure to clean it all up for waiters.”

#5: “Your mom is a very valuable tool. Next to your doctor, your greatest source of information. She knows you AND your baby. Your own instincts and her experience make a great team. When in doubt, pick up the phone and call mom!”

#6: “My toddler poured my coffee in the fish tank last week while I was feeding the dog. Enjoy the baby stage.”

#7: “Don’t compare yourself with other moms that look like they have it all together. They are just better at faking it than you are.”

#8: “When they’re older, remind them that you love them so much that when they were little you caught their vomit in your hands. Bonus points if you do it in front of their friends.”

#9: “Enjoy every moment with them and don’t feel like you have to be super mom, super wife or have a perfect house.”
#10: “You will mess up!  It will be okay and they won’t remember. Just don’t make it a habit.”

#11: “Simply laugh.”

Man oh man, how all of these words ring true. I am going to strive to live like these mamas (who know far more than I) suggest. I hope you will, too!

What is the best mama advice you’ve received?

April Must Haves

Can anyone explain to me how it is already April? 2017 is just flying by, and I can’t even keep up! Of course, another month means another set of must have items. As always, I have 5 items to share that I think everyone should try. Here they are (in no particular order)!

#1. Noonday Large Cow Horn Hoop Earrings: y’all, these things go with every outfit ever. (Okay maybe not every outfit…they wouldn’t go with bedazzling. But I don’t own any bedazzled gear, so it doesn’t apply to me). Anyways, they go with all types of outfits — tee shirts, dresses, and everything in between. EVEN BETTER: these earrings are ethically made by women in Uganda, who otherwise would not have a way to support their family. Also, these babies are less than $30. It’s an all around win.

#2. Nothing to Prove by Jennie Allen: I’ll be honest and tell you guys that I’m only about a chapter in to this book. Reading hasn’t happened as much lately, since Ruthie has learned to grab at things. Back to the point: the subtitle of this book is Why We Can Stop Trying so Hard. Need I say more? I think every woman needs this book.

#3. Chicken Pesto Sliders: y’all, I’m about to share the easiest recipe ever with you. On top of that, it’s yummy. So yummy that Z asked if we could have it on our menu every week. Here’s what you do: take 5 chicken breasts (this will feed a small army), put them in the crock pot, cover them with a can of pesto (about 6 ounces), and cook it on high for 4 hours. Shred the chicken, put it on a bun, add a slice of mozzarella cheese. VOILA! Delicious dinner with basically zero effort.

#4. Lion/Otter/Beaver/Retriever Personality Test: I love understanding people and how they operate. I love personality tests because they help me understand myself and others better. This test is something that Z and I constantly come back to. Take it. Make your spouse take it. Make your kids take it. Everyone should take it. The last page includes strengths and weaknesses, compare those to that of your spouse (or whoever is important in your life) and it will help you relate to them so much better.

#5. Iced Cinnamon Almond Milk Macchiato: I’ve been *mostly* dairy free since November because sweet Ruthie’s tummy can’t handle dairy. One of the biggest bummers (aside from ice cream) has been coffee shop coffee. Until now. Starbucks recently came out with a new drink, and it has become my spring/summer go to. Try it out, you won’t be disappointed.

What things can you not live without? What thing does everyone need to know about? What are your must haves?

We’ve Got a Trail to Blaze

We all draw inspiration and encouragement from different places. Some people use the Bible, some use music, some use friends or family, and some use those cheesy posters that have a dramatic nature picture with one word and its definition that can be found in every elementary school classroom across the country. In my life, I tend to go through seasons of time with one phrase that repeats itself in my head over and over.

Through most of college, my phrase came from the Lion King of all places. It’s that part in the movie when Rafiki the baboon smacks Simba on the head with his stick. After Simba asks why the monkey popped him on the noggin, Rafiki laughs and says, “It doesn’t matta! It is in de past!”.

Early college is filled with bumps in the road. You do poorly on a test, you stay out later than you should and pay for it the next day, or any of the thousands of things you are doing on your own for the first time and mess up on. We make mistakes, learn from them, and then MOVE ON. That’s what the monkey was telling the lion. You can’t change it, so work with what you have now.

While that phrase still pops into my head often, it has been replaced with a new phrase from a random source. Michigan’s head football coach, Jim Harbaugh, has said that his motto for every day is to, “attack each day with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind”.

During this most recent period in life there were (and are) many days that I dread what is coming. Things I really wish I didn’t have to take care of, calls I don’t want to make, or what I perceive to be many responsibilities pulling me in different directions that make me want to avoid the day all together. I love the word “attack” because there is no questioning its connotation. The word “enthusiasm” conveys a positive excitement and energy. The end, I view as a challenge — to do something “unknown to mankind”. This phrase to me is a “tighten your belt”, “saddle up your horse”, and “let’s get ready to rrrrrrrumble” all in one.

These are just two examples of phrases I use to draw inspiration and motivation. I could still describe 2 Timothy 1:7, every member of my family, The movie Chariots of Fire, or the phrase “not dead yet” and their effect on my and my life. Whatever the source or method, find something that inspires you and motivates you. Share with others what drives you and why, but do not be afraid to look beyond yourself for encouragement.

As the great marketing department at Nike so brilliantly said: “Just do it”.

-Zach

The Hardest Part of Motherhood

“Motherhood is tough”.

“I never knew this season would be so hard”.

“Raising babies/toddlers/kids/teenagers is the hardest thing I’ve ever done”.

“I wasn’t prepared for this”.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever heard one of these lines. Raise two hands if you’ve ever said one of these lines. There’s no denying it — being a mama can be tough. In the best, most incredible, love filled way, motherhood stretches us. Most days it leaves us tired and needing a shower. At the end of the day yesterday, I had dealt with 7 different types of bodily fluids (number 1, number 2, drool, spit up, sweat, snot, and baby tears). But these things we think of — the yucky stuff, the sleep deprivation, the fill in the blank — these aren’t what make being mommy hard. These are just pieces to the puzzle. No, the hardest part of motherhood is that it strips away our selfishness.

As a mama, it is our job to care for another human. A very needy, very adorable human who doesn’t know how to do anything on their own yet. We feed them, bathe them, rock them, and snuggle them (and enjoy every second of it). But at the end of the day, we’re often left wondering, “do I ever get a break?” or “why do I have to do ALL of the work around here” or “what about me?”. And these are hard thoughts. These thoughts (and others like it) leave us feeling guilty and inadequate. On one hand, we feel justified in these thoughts because “hello, I’m obviously carrying the team here”. But on the other hand, we know in our hearts our attitude is wrong. These thoughts give us a glimpse at our selfish nature. (Now don’t get me wrong, it’s totally healthy for moms to take a break. It’s not the thought that’s wrong…it’s our heart behind it). They show us that we weren’t meant to do this alone, and that we need more of Jesus and less of us. Motherhood is hard because it is a constant reminder that “love is not selfish”. Repeat after me. LOVE. IS. NOT. SELFISH. Some days, I repeat this non stop.

When the baby wakes up in the middle of the night and I don’t want to get out of my warm, cozy bed. Love is not selfish.

When I find myself envious of the fact that my husband gets to do “whatever he wants” (yeah right, parenthood affects these daddies just as much). Love is not selfish.

When I get frustrated because the baby is crying for what feels like the 24380714380th time. Love is not selfish.

Motherhood is tough for so many reasons. But I honestly think the hardest part is the each day, we are challenged to die to ourselves. As humans, that’s rough. It involves growing pains, and nobody likes those. But we can find encouragement in this — if motherhood is stripping off our selfishness, then motherhood makes us more like Jesus.

So how do we submit to this? How do we accept this new normal?

-Choose to serve: instead of worrying about how hard motherhood is, what would happen if we made it our goal to make our husbands life easier? What if we chose to love our husbands by protecting their sleep, or facilitating time for them to play with baby?

-Take a break: seriously. Set aside 15 minutes each day that is yours. Run, bathe, read, watch YouTube cat videos, dance, eat cheesy nachos. I don’t care what it is. But do something for 15 minutes that is just for you.

-Pursue community: listen y’all. Satan wants you to believe that you are in this alone. He wants us to think that we are the only person who has ever walked this path or that nobody will understand us or that nobody cares how we feel. DON’T BELIEVE THESE LIES. Surround yourself with people who care about you and will speak Truth into your life. We need people who will help us along this path of sanctification.

March Must Haves

I’m back this week to share 5 must have items! This month’s items are mostly food and books…I’m not sure what that tells you about my lifestyle (probably that I like food and I like to read), but I’m okay with it. Anyways, let’s get straight to the point:

#1. Honest Tea Moroccan Mint Tea: I used to think I wasn’t really a mint person. Boy, was I wrong. I could drink this tea all day long and not be one bit sad about it. Plus, it’s easy to find — you can buy it at HEB. Green tea. Mint. Not overly sweet. It’s refreshing to say the least.

#2. Big, Little Lies by Liane Moriarty: This book tells the story of 3 women who meet through their school aged children. Each has their own web of lies — whether big or small, I won’t say. In the end, someone dies…but who? I read this book before baby girl was born, and still think about it to this day. It is very well written, and really draws you in. If you read this, be prepared to not want to put it down! (Disclaimer: this isn’t a book I would let my 13 year old read. It has some language).

#3. Maybelline Define-a-Brow: I’m not a big make up wearer. Most days, I just throw on some mascara and go. But I’ve found that if my eyebrows look great, then I feel more confident. Don’t go crazy with this stuff, just use it to accentuate your natural beauty. Send me a selfie when you wear it, and walk around feeling fabulous all day long!

#4. The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis: This book is something every Christian should read. Written in the point of view of a master demon writing letters to his trainee, C.S. Lewis portrays human life and sin. It can be a bit confusing at first (they refer to Satan as the Father and God as the Enemy), but is so humbling and helps us to really see our sin for what it is. This book will completely change the way you view spiritual warfare.

#5. White Chocolate Popcorn: A dear friend of mine made this once, and I just HAD to have the recipe. Don’t like white chocolate? You’re in good company. But man, I could eat white chocolate popcorn for days. You can’t buy it anywhere, but it so easy to make. Here’s how it goes: pop 3 bags of popcorn and put them in the biggest ziploc bag you can find. Melt one bag’s worth of white chocolate chips. Slowly pour the melted chips into the bag, and shake the popcorn until every kernel is coated. Voila! You have yourself a not so healthy but entirely delicious snack.

Have you discovered any new must haves? Is there something that you just can’t live without? I’d love to hear about it!