Real Rest

Thank you so much for all the love, support, and kindness you all have shown me after my last post.  It truly has meant a lot to me!  As I was reflecting on what really pulled me through and has kept me on level ground I was reminded over and over of the different scripture passages that really helped me.  And I have found a lot of strength and encouragement from online Bible Studies and accountability groups.  Then the light bulb went off- I could combine the two!! So I decided to write my own 31 day Scripture Challenge with all the verses that really helped me. You can check it out here!

The idea is pretty simple, really.  Having a daily plan of what you are going to read helps build an ongoing habit of getting into the word, which is awesome. Having other friends do the same thing with you builds in some accountability to (hopefully) spur you on when the going gets rough. THAT’S where this 31 Day Scripture Challenge comes in! Simply download this study, and read the verses selected for each day. Each day also poses some questions for quiet reflection. You can then choose to share your insights in the accountability group, or simply go through the exercises independently. Who wants in?

Who's ready to find some real rest for their soul? Join me on this 31 Day Scripture Challenge!

It’s REAL simple! Here’s how:

  1. Simply click on this link: Rest For Your Souls
  2. Download the PDF
  3. Print it out or save it on your device so you can read it everyday.
  4. Let me know if you want to join the accountability group. We start on Mon. May 21st, 2018!
  5. Enjoy!

 

My Most REAL Post Yet

I know there haven’t been many posts on here lately. But it’s for a good reason, well several good reasons really.  One of which is because life is just busy sometimes, okay MOST of the time. But the biggest reason? It’s because God has been slowly, faithfully, changing my heart. Really.  You see, I started this blog out of a place of frustration, overwhelm, and needing a place to just sort my #crazymomlife thoughts out. And it has been great for that. But along the way, God has gently brought me to a place where the frustrations are fewer and the overwhelm is quieting down. Really. But before I get to the happy ending, let me get real with you, this road has had several bumps in it.

There was a time, okay more like a year, after my second child was born that I struggled. Like really struggled. Like wanting to “just-leave-it-all-behind” struggled. It was a dark time and the harsh effects of Post Partum Depression were real. Really real. So real that I didn’t really realize how bad it had gotten until one day the cloud started to lift a little and only then did I realize just how much I was struggling. Even now, when I look back on that time in my life, there are just big black holes in my memory that I can’t recall all the details of. When your brain is struggling to just survive, it has a harder time holding on to precious memories of little milestones along the way. It’s scary, and a little sad.

But what is even scarier, and whole lot sadder, is that some of you who know me personally just found out about this right now.  You see I struggled and suffered mostly in silence. And it’s not because I didn’t have resources, I DID. I have a wonderful husband, Mom, family, and friends. I was part of several wonderful support circles at church and in the community. And YET, I never reached out to any of them. I never shared my struggle, until now.

I wanted to keep up appearances. I didn’t want to admit that I was hurting as bad as I really was. I was trying so very very hard to maintain. Because in my clouded brain I thought that maybe if everyone else thought I was doing okay, then maybe I was. If I didn’t have to admit that I was failing maybe I really wasn’t failing that bad. Besides, wasn’t this just part of the deal, anyway? Sweet Momma, it doesn’t have to be.

Even after starting this blog, I never really shared about this, well, until today. I thought I could just share about some of the hard times, because everyone has hard times sometime. People didn’t need to know how bad it was, just focus on the little hurdles and how I got over those. And it doesn’t really matter, in the big scheme of things, that I struggled with this because I’m not struggling like that anymore. 

But really, that’s just another way of hiding.

And hiding NEVER helps anything or anyone.

And I truly want to help. Really. I’m not sharing this to have other people feel sorry for me. I’m not sharing this to have other people think I’m really strong for pulling myself out of the pit. Honestly, I’m not even really sharing this for anyone else. But I feel like God has been slowly nudging me to open up, honestly, about this part of my life that I tried so hard to hide. And I have to be honest before God, because after all, He knows what I’m thinking anyways, so I’m not really hiding anything anyway. (Psalm 139:2)

God has been saving me from myself for as long as I’ve know Him.  He’s like that, you know. He’s in the saving business! But He has been showing me that He has really called me out of this darkness and into His marvelous light for a reason. 1 Peter 2:9 says “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.” And that, first and foremost, is what I want to do. Praise HIM! HE was the one that saved me. He gave me other tools and helps along the way, but it was HIM who held my life in His hands and kept my hands off it.

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Just as Psalm 116 says, when I was brought low, HE saved me. The LORD delivered me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk in the land of the living. And it’s an every day sort of saving. I still have hurdles, I still have tears, I still stumble, BUT GOD. God helps me get back on the right path.

But He doesn’t want to just save ME, He wants to save the whole world! I want this blog to be a vessel that HE can use to reach those of you who need His comfort.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.” ~2 Corinthians 1: 3-7

So take heart, Momma. If He can save me, and He has, He will do the same for you, if you ask Him to. There will still be trying days, there always are, but they are easier. You are NOT alone. 

I do want to give you resources.  There is help for you out there. Just reach out, even when you don’t really want to, because trust me, the other people in your life want you to.

  • PPD Moms: full information about postpartum depression
  • Suicide.org: a nonprofit specializing in prevention, awareness, and support
  • Crisis Text Line: You can even simply text HOME to 741741 any time 24/7 to get real live help, in the moment. Because we all know it’s impossible to talk on the phone.

But really, the BEST resource I know of and have used, is simply JESUS. He’s available 24/7, you don’t even need to text or call or make an appointment. And the best part is, you don’t have to explain your struggles to Him, He already knows, and He’s been waiting for you to reach out. HE has the power to heal and to help. It’s all by HIS power, not our own, and HE will see you through it.

Has this helped you? Let me know in the comments below! Do you still have questions, or need more resources? Let me know in the comments below! Do you have something that you too want to share? Let me know in the comments below!

“It Is Finished!”

So many things in our lives are never finished.

  • Dishes get dirty, again
  • Laundry piles back up, again
  • Houses get messed up, again
  • Meals still need to be made, again
  • Alarm clocks continue to ring, again
  • Bills still need to be paid, again
  • Jobs come and go
  • Seasons change, again
  • We will sin, again.

But our eternal redemption? THAT is FINISHED!! Let your soul rest in this eternal promise. It IS finished. Forever. Praise God!! If that doesn’t make a Good Friday, I don’t know what would.

Choose Your Focus

Recently I had a rare moment of clarity. And that clarity came from choosing to blur out the background. Let me explain. There was a sweet, and rare, moment that my youngest daughter actually fell asleep in my arms. This is the girl that doesn’t like to be held too much. She prefers to do everything, including falling asleep, on her own terms and her own timeframe. So when she actually fell asleep while I held her I just HAD to take a picture! 

I find that pictures help me grab moments. Moments my scattered brain will soon forget, moments I don’t want to forget, moments that take my breath away, moments I want to share with someone who’s not there, moments that I want to hold on to and pass on. (This is why all my digital storage is FULL of photos and the sheer weight of all my printed albums could easily match a herd of elephants.) But photos are funny. No camera can capture a scene the same way our brain sees it. 

I’ll save you the full neuroscience disclosure of why this is true, but I can sum it up fairly simply. Our brains do us a favor (sometimes) by helping focus on details that it seems important or remarkable. Our eyes take in LOTS of information. Much like a camera lens. But our brain helps us sort through it. While you may be staring at your screen right now, your eyes are seeing everything around the screen and in the periphery too. But your brain focuses in on just the screen. The information is there, we just don’t pay attention to it. 

   But a camera just captures the information. And when we look at a picture our brains do a little better job of paying attention to more of the details because it’s focusing on the picture and not all the other things going on around you. And that’s precisely why I like to look at pictures, sometimes. Sometimes it captures little details, like the way my daughter’s hair curls “just so”, or that little twinkle in their eye, or the facial expression of an onlooker in the background. But sometimes it captures details I would rather blur out- like the messy house in the background, piles of laundry laying around, or the facial expression of an onlooker in the background. 

   And that’s what it did this time. I took a picture of my sweet sleepy baby in my arms, but then when I looked at the picture later I immediately noticed the piles of laundry in the background. And I had to make a choice. I had to *choose my focus*. I wasn’t about to let some *thing* distract my focus from some *one*. And luckily due to advances in photo editing software I could actually physically blur those distractions away so the picture would better capture my experience of the moment. 👍🏻

      Don’t you wish we could do the same thing in real life as simply as pushing a button? We CAN do it, our brains are actually pretty good at it, but we have to choose. We have to tell it what’s important (and what’s not) and then *choose* to focus on *those* things. 

      When I started writing this post, the words of the chorus of “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus” kept coming up in my mind. 

      Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
      Look full in His wonderful face,
      And the things of earth will grow         strangely dim,
      In the light of His glory and grace.

It was that experience of choosing to look to Jesus and letting “the things of earth” grow strangely dim that I was experiencing. I don’t know of any better picture of faith, trust, love, and peace than a sweet sleeping baby in your arms. And isn’t that what Jesus calls us to? 

     But when I looked up the lyrics of the song, I was struck more by the words of the verses that I had forgotten. They contain a promise of a life more abundant and free, a reminder that we are more than conquerors, instruction to seek the scriptures for his faithful promises, and a charge to reach others with this message of hope!! But the part that really struck me was that it wasn’t being sung to the Perfectly Perfect Pewsitters. You know- those people that are always perfect, always happy, and always (seem) to have it all together. No, this song was for the soul that was weary and tired. Sweet Momma, is your soul weary and tired today? 🙋🏻 If so, let the words of this sweet song encourage you today. And if not, save the post because it will be sooner or later (am I right?). 


O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free.

    Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
    Look full in His wonderful face,
    And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
     In the light of His glory and grace.

    Through death into life everlasting
    He passed, and we follow Him there;
    O’er us sin no more hath dominion
    For more than conqu’rors we are!

    His Word shall not fail you, He promised;
    Believe Him and all will be well;
    Then go to a world that is dying,
    His perfect salvation to tell!

    But now I better get back to that laundry….

    I know Jesus’ blood can wash our sins as white as snow, but how good is He with carpets?

    It was the third “accident” today. In this same spot. Four overall if you count the time she peed outside on our patio steps. Plus the cat joined in the fun and vomited on the carpet too. I had gone through an entire roll of paper towels already-just today- and this was the final straw.  
    As I was angrily trying to sop up the mess on the floor, I was having just as much trouble sopping up the mess in my heart. I was angry. Again. I was trying not to be angry. Again. I was trying to not take it personally. But I was Failing. Again… 

    Take every thought captive” I urged myself. “Slow to anger” I reminded myself. “Be kind and compassionate“, “humble yourself“, and a whole slew of other scriptures tried to break through my cold hearted self. But none of it was sinking in. I just kept getting lost in my grumbling. “Why is she doing this?” “She’s been doing so good!” “Why can’t she just take 10 more steps and make it to the potty?” “All she has to do is ask for help” 

    And then one little thought cracked through. “This is what your sin is like to me.” 

    Wait, what? Really? 

    And then I put my mirror glasses on. Why do I keep sinning? Why can’t I get my act together? Why haven’t I just asked God for help, when I need it, rather than waiting and causing an accident? 
    But then I was reminded of His promise to wash us “as white as snow”. And I was thankful for His forgiveness, but I still had a real life mess to clean up too. (I told you, this is REAL life, not the ‘suddenly everything’s perfect’ crap you see everywhere else.) So I just asked Him. I let it all out. 

    I know I shouldn’t let something as stupid and as shallow as the appearance of my carpets be reflection of my self worth, but it was sure hard not to. I knew God loved me, still loves me, will always love me, but I was still pushing Him away. The more I tried to not get upset and to calm down, the madder I’d get and the harder the tears would fall. And then the baby started crying… And then the toddler started crying… And my poor unsuspecting husband was going to be coming home through those doors any minute…

    So I just stopped and stood up. I called out to God, out loud, through my clinched teeth, and asked for peace and joy. It was all I could figure out to do. Yes, the toddler just looked at me like I was crazy (which was fair) but it did quiet everybody down. For a second. The joy didn’t come until later, but the small breath of peace did come. Just like I needed it to. Just when I needed it to. 

    As far as resources for this post (in keeping with the R.E.A.L. mentality) I don’t have many. I mean, Brawny paper towels are pretty good, and these pet carpet cleaners work great. But the best resource I have is to just encourage you to call out to God. Exactly where you are, exactly when you need Him. Even out loud when you need to
    Because HE is all we need. Really

    •  Jesus paid it all. All to Him I owe. 
    • Sin had left a crimson stain,
    • He washed it white as snow.

    Now back to my poor carpet…

    Cutting off the Messiah

    There we were. In the middle of a hot mess. Alright, several messes. We had just returned home from the grocery store which ended in a “lovely” toddler tantrum and a shrieking hungry infant. To say I was rattled would be an understatement. As we were nearing our garage, my toddler expectantly asked me if she could finish her song we were listening to before I shut the car off. “Yes! I’ve already told you ‘Yes’ 5 times now. Stop asking or I’ll change my mind!” I barked out. And then soon after, in my impatience, I took the opportunity to shut the song off in between verses thinking that she would never notice and I had already heard enough singing vegetables for one night and we were already home and it’s was already past bedtime and and and. (I can rationalize with the best of them when I’m angry).

    Once inside the tantrums picked up again, the baby was crying again, and I was still rattled. As I hurriedly tried to get the bottles ready, while trying to put groceries away, I let my frustrations boil to the top and asked my toddler “What is your deal anyway? Can’t you hold it together for 5 minutes? Why are you so upset?” (After all, I was doing such a good job of modeling “holding it together” myself. NOT!) 

         And that’s when she said it. She was just answering my question, but her words took on a much deeper meaning as God was gently using her to speak to my mad momma heart. Hanging her head, she managed to mumble “You cut off the Messiah Momma, and that’s not nice. You shouldn’t do that.” 

         “What are you even talking about sweetheart?”

         “In the song Momma.” Now she was looking me straight in the eyes. “I asked if I could finish my song. You said yes. But then you shut if off before we got to the ‘Mighty Messiah that manifests miracles’ part. I love that part.” Her eyes dropped to the floor. “I just really wanted to hear it again Momma.” 

         And then it hit me. We were singing “Down in My Heart” in the car. And in my haste, I stopped it before it got to the “I’ve got the Mighty Messiah that manifests miracles down in the depths of my heart” verse. Cue the floodgates of Momma guilt and the pangs of regret! 

         I apologized quickly, let her hear the whole song once more before bed, and then rushed on to the rest of the nighttime routines. My mind was filled with the familiar voices of self-doubt and condemnation. “What went wrong? Shortly before we were having a great time singing and dancing and enjoying the evening as a family. How did it get derailed so quickly?” But when I really had a chance to calm down and breathe for a minute (holding a sleeping baby will do that to ya), her words kept ringing in my ears. “You cut off the Mighty Messiah Momma“. 

        She was right. But it was more than just abbreviating the song. I was rushing. I was getting flustered. I was trying harder. I was losing my patience. I was doing everything in MY power and MY strength. There was no reliance on God. I wasn’t “leaning on the everlasting arms” to carry me through. I wasn’t surrendering my will, my plans, my heart, or my thoughts. I was cutting Him off. I was running ahead. And as my three year old so aptly pointed out “that’s not nice”. 

        Zachariah 4:6 says ““So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.”” I can’t do this in my power. I NEED His Spirit. HIS leading. HIS guidance. I need to surrender to HIS ways and let go of my agenda and my way. 

        Later that night the Lord gently brought me back to Proverbs 3. It’s well worn, highlighted, dog-eared, and written on in my Bible because I KEEP having to return to this lesson again and again. It starts out in verses 6-8 ““Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.” I don’t know about you, but I could sure use some health in my body and nourishment in my bones. I don’t need to be clever or have it all figured out (wise in my own eyes), I “just” need to fear the Lord. 

         And just as I started to beat myself up over having to relearn this lesson for the billionth time, my eyes continued down the page to verses 11-20. “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in. Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her; those who hold her fast will be blessed. By wisdom the Lord laid the earth’s foundations, by understanding he set the heavens in place; by his knowledge the watery depths were divided, and the clouds let drop the dew.” Phew. It’s okay. He’s got this. And He’s much better at it than me. And things will be MUCH better off when I listen to His wisdom. 

          And thankfully He wrapped this gentle correction up with verse 24, “When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.” No more tossing and turning while I replay all my mistakes in my head. No more crying myself to sleep over my disappointments and mistakes. Just sweet sleep! Oh how I need that. I *might* even be able to listen to more singing vegetables in the morning without losing my cool… 

    Get Out the Door Faster


    We’ve all been there, haven’t we? It’s time to go (or past time to go) and you’ve just spent the last 20 minutes running around getting diaper bags packed, your crew rounded up and ready to go, bathroom breaks done, and you’re just about to head out the door when…it happens. The Battle of the Shoes. The battle lines are typically drawn in either two ways. You bark at the toddler to “Get your shoes on, it’s time to go” and they either fall to floor with all the drama they can muster and feign helplessness demanding that you HAVE to put their shoes on for them, they can’t possibly manage on their own. OR they suddenly become Ms. Independant and demand that they “can do it myself!” but only manage to mess it up in more ways than you can even count, or tolerate. This can leave even the most seasoned among us frazzled, frantic, or feedup (or all of the above!)Here’s where it gets real ladies. I’ve been there and done that WAY too many times. But I’m excited to tell you THERE IS ANOTHER WAY! And what’s even better is this way feels like a game, it takes only seconds to do, AND even a toddler can manage to do it WITHOUT you having to drop the 50,000 things you are trying to drag out the door and help. Sound to good to be true? It’s not! It’s as simple as Rainbows and Butterflies. 


    I know half of you are thinking I’ve totally lost my marbles at this point, or this is just another one of those Pinterest Perfect Posts that have no shred of reality in it. But I promise you it’s not. And this simple trick has been life changing. I’d like to take credit for it, but actually my 2 year old came up with it. That’s right. She came up with it all on her own, and honestly when she first said it I thought she was just trying to stall more and was annoyed we were going to be late. But what I witnessed next was so magical I couldn’t believe it. She simply grabbed her shoes and put them together before she put them on her feet and looked down and said “Look Momma! It’s a rainbow!”

    You see, when shoes are put together correctly (left shoe on the left, right shoe on the right) the arch at the top of the shoes makes a rainbow. Like this: 

     

    BUT when the shoes are matched up incorrectly (left on right and vice versa) the arch at the top of the shoes points out the other direction, kind of like the top of a butterfly’s wings. Like this: 


    So now when it’s time to get shoes on I simply have to tell my toddler “It’s time to go, let’s make a rainbow!”. And POOF she runs to her shoes, lines them up, and puts them on! I STILL can’t believe it sometimes. And even on those days when she’s trying to be crazy and tries to put her shoes on the wrong feet she’ll stop and say “Oh! That’s a butterfly!” and switch them around on her own

    Now of course, the other part of this equation is the fact that she has shoes she can put on by HERSELF. We started with Crocs and have now moved on to simple Velcro. You can find some great ones on Amazon and they’ll deliver them right to your door! These ones (Lined Crocs) are great because they are soft and warm enough to wear without socks. And when you’re ready to graduate to Velcro, you can’t get cuter than Hello Kitty 😉.

    So what tricks do you use to get out the door faster? Or what battle drives you batty? Comment below!