Wednesday, August 31, 2016

How I Do It

There are countless posts that go un-published here. Most seemed too complainy and others were too dark. You know, there's so much you don't see behind the scenes of our lives and I hope I'm not alone in that. I try to be transparent, to let the copious amounts of people who say, "I don't know how you do it" in on the fact that I'm far from perfect. I struggle emotionally, spiritually, and with just about every facet of parenting. Every day I'm reminded how unbelievably hard it is to be a parent in todays world. There's a spotlight on all the time that flashes toward me when I send the kids outside to play to grow up as we did or our parents did, away from computer screens. They're in the mud, they're running through the tall grass where snakes could be. They're creating their own games and probably being a little mean to one another, too. Then the spot lights whips around to the other side of the spectrum, the helicopter part of many mothers. People criticize when you are three steps away from your kid on the playground, ready to catch any possible fall. They wonder why you want to get involved when they butt heads with a kid at school. It's a catch twenty two. No one is ever doing it right. 

If the stress of trying to measure up with the world isn't enough, imagine how much I dwell on desiring to please an Almighty God while battling the sin that is in my nature. I see the actions of my kids and feel as if it is a direct reflection of me, of our family. This weight is heavy, y'all. If there's one thing I know I'm doing as a stay-at-home mom, it's that I'm daily showing my children my own desperate need for Jesus. They see me in the Word and they see me failing. They hear me asking for forgiveness when I lose my temper with them and they hear it again when we're praying. I screw up all the time. Just as Paul said in Romans 7:15 "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do." I want to be a certain type of mother- a pinterest creative type who schools her children happily and inspires in them the desire to be outside, work with their hands, and get to know God. The mother I want to be has her children memorizing verses of the Bible, hiding God's word in their hearts from an early age. She does this all while juggling appointments, hearing equipment, and unending patience with her special needs son. She also manages the house and welcomes her hard working husband home with open arms and serves him readily, too. Does this woman exist? I don't know. Maybe I don't want to know. 
I just want to be holy and blameless before God at the end of this life. I want my kids to grow up to be decent human beings and to become disciples and fishers of men. That's why I'm here. I don't want to fail at this. And every single day I go to bed feeling like I am. That's why this is hard. The rocking multiple little ones, wiping noses and bottoms, preparing food that noses are turned up at, washing a million items of clothing a week, cleaning spit up off the floors hourly, and all the other things you couldn't dream up that my children could get into- those are challenging. But when I step back and look at the whole picture, I realize that none of that matters if my kids don't grow up and decide to follow Jesus. If they don't know him, it doesn't matter that their butt had a $15 diaper on it. It doesn't matter if I grow all their food from the ground in our backyard. It won't make a difference if they were potty trained at two or ten. If we don't have Him, we have nothing.
So this is how I do it. It's one day at a time. One hour at a time. Trial and error. Lot of prayers. Forgiveness. Perseverance. Grace. 
I'm really hoping I'm not alone in this....and if I am, well, maybe just keep that to yourself.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Postpartum Progress (Part 1)

Hey, friends. I've been writing this blog post in my head for awhile. I've had time to think about it each time I went to the gym or for a long walk when I was very pregnant. I thought about this process for nine months as my body grew with our growing daughter. I definitely thought about it at week 39 when I went on a run at nine months pregnant. During my entire pregnancy, I was adamant to stay active because I knew it would help baby and me. Postpartum rebound is here. I'm happy about that! It feels good to know that I can lose weight and tone again. But I'll be honest, it hasn't gone as I expected. The weight isn't falling off as quickly as I hoped. But that is part of the process, right? And so when some of you asked me specifically to document my postpartum progress (Hi, Katie!), I knew it was time to start writing it down. I've been snapping photos for documentation purposes, but I didn't post them until now because I don't feel like I have anything to be proud of yet. It's difficult to feel proud when there's so little time to exercise my body, sweat, and have something to show for it.
The hardest part of getting fit with four children is relying on other people for my fitness. It probably sounds like a cop out to you...and maybe it is. But I truly don't think I can workout with all of them here. I try and it's so ridiculous. Do a few moves, change a diaper. Do another, wipe a noise and break up a toy scuffle. Insert screaming and you don't have a relaxing, sweat burning workout at all. It's more of a mental exercise in not throwing in the towel and checking yourself into the nuthouse. When I workout, that's my ME TIME. I enjoy being alone for an hour a day and running, lifting weights, or anything of the sort. It gives me something to work toward. As a stay at home mom, your job is never done. Never. So I cleaned the kitchen and it's sparkling? Well, now it's lunch time so I have to prepare food and clean it all up again...and while I was cleaning that kitchen? Yeah, you guessed it. The children were destroying the downstairs. With running or lifting weights, I can set a mile goal or make out an exercise plan and ACTUALLY ACHIEVE IT. It gives me just a tiny break of sanity as a list maker. Maybe you're one of those people, too who find enjoyment in checking off something on their list of things to do? Well, by the time I check off laundry, clean kitchen, clean toilet,'s time to write it down again because it's not ever done. A workout for the day IS done. At five weeks postpartum, I'm still stuck in a bit of a rut because I feel like I need a babysitter in order to get my sweat on! And if you know anything about my life, you know I don't have those much! Ha.
But in order to be successful, I need goals. Because I'm supposed to wait until 6 weeks postpartum, I've been taking it fairly easy. As I approach being cleared for exercise, I've been thinking about some goals. Here are my stats:

Weight: 131
Goal: 120
Lost to date: 19 lbs

What have I been doing?
Mostly running (ok, pathetic jogging and mostly walking)

The plan?
Raise my self esteem by exercising and remembering what this body can do! I AM proud that I've carried four children in my womb and now I want to focus on creating a capable body again, one that can go hike 10 miles in the Smokies if I feel like it without getting too winded. I want to not be self conscious when I'm in a bathing suit and trying to play on the beach with my kids. I definitely don't want to pass along my abysmal body image to my daughter (or three boys for that matter). The plan is to feel good...and I truly don't care about the scale. I just use it as a reference point.

How will I get there?
Well, for the month of August, I'm focusing on baby steps. Little, achievable goals are what I'm starting with.
1. Drink 8+ glasses of water daily
2. 50 miles in August
3. Grace

Grace means that I remember that I just had a beautiful baby girl and the changes in my body are more than worth it. I've gotten back in shape three times after a baby and I can do it again. One foot in front of the other.

Time to get to work! I'll share workouts, progress, and additional thoughts on health and fitness as the months pass by. 

Monday, August 1, 2016

Mission Field

"As women who work hard to serve others day and night, we tend to forget that we have this opportunity because of God's mercy on us. From children underfoot or away at school to the ladies we disciple and witness to in the workplace and community, our nurturing work is a gift. We all have a need to repent of our feelings of entitlement. We do not deserve to be used by God. We do not deserve to be ambassadors of Christ in our homes, workplaces, neighborhoods, or generations. We do not deserve to be given spiritual gifts with which to serve the church. We do not deserve to be included in God's mission to the world, period. Yet, it pleases Him to include us." 

- Gloria Furman via Missional Motherhood

Because my crew is young, four of them seems like a lot. I get it. It is a lot for me to handle, for sure. But because there are so many of them that can't tie their shoes (or put them on for that matter!), I get many questions from people out in town. One of the most popular ones is "How do you do it?" The short answer is: I don't know. 

I really don't. By 9am, so many unthinkable things have already popped up in my day that I find this discontent and anger bubbling up that this is my job right now. Potty training. Picky eaters. Spit up. Screaming as communication. Silly screaming competitions with brothers. LOUDNESS. Forget trying to accomplish something. This is why the laundry stays piled up and only necessary cleaning gets done. There are many times I spend my days wondering if I'm even making a positive difference in their lives or if they feel I'm an emotionless presence that either bends to their will or enforces mean (in their mind) rules. All it takes to turn the day around is a visit to God's word, though. Who am I that He chose me for them? Who am I to be good enough to be on this missionfield for God? This. These kids. They're my CALLING. I didn't envision this for myself, but God did and He chose me specifically. That's how I do it. I was created for it and I'm up for the challenge--for this blessing.

I still spend nap time begging for sleep...and actual patience (NOT opportunities to be patient. I have plenty of those!)...and for my thoughts to be of Him and this mission...a change in my thoughts and therefore my attitude....and for my words to be life giving.

This is hard.

But one day, I'm going to wake up and they won't need me as much. They'll unbuckle themselves and get out of the car on their own. They will bathe themselves. They'll talk. They'll communicate. They'll drive themselves to their appointments. They'll go off to college and leave me. And the thought of a quiet house that seems so amazing to me right now, might just leave me in tears because these pieces of my heart will walk out into the world on their own and go in different directions. I just hope they will take a piece of me with them. That they will see Jesus in me somehow. That they will chase after Him when they leave here. That's what I'm doing.
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