Monday, October 29, 2012

Is It Ever Enough?

What is the magic answer to finding balance being a wife, mom, friend, sister, daughter, employee, committee member, volunteer, homework helper, taxi driver, meal maker, bill payer, appointment setter, grocery getter, cleaning lady, laundry queen, dish washer, etc, etc?!  I'm still searching for the answer, but this is what I'm learning along the way...

I've been a working-outside-the-home mom and now a stay-at-home-working mom.  No matter what your situation, I think we'd all agree there is never enough time to get done what we want to get done.  There is always that issue of time management lurking around, making us feel guilty!  I thought once I became a stay-at-home mom I'd have so much extra time...yeah right!  I feel like more of a hamster spinning on a wheel than I ever have.  It's not a coincidence that God created this world with day and night.  He intended to only give us so many hours in a day to get things done and then he expects us to rest.  In this world we live in, we are consumed by technology, activities, social groups, etc.  While none of these are bad, they spread us so thin.  There are things that must be done, but also the things we enjoy doing that give us identity that sometimes can feel lost when we become a mom.  We need time for us and to nourish and be nourished by friends as well.  We can't let the much needed time with our husbands and our friends, who help refill our 'mom tank', make us feel guilty when we take time away from our children.  This helps me to be a better mom and a better wife.  A good, strong marriage is a priority for me as it directly benefits our children as well.  And, the love and laughter from my treasured friendships help me get through motherhood much more easily :)

So much is expected of us by so many people.  Many times at the end of the day, I feel like I've given a little to a lot of people and a lot of things.  I ask myself, "Did what I do really make a difference today or was I just lucky to make it through the day?  Was I great mom today or was I just there, rushing my kids around from here to there?  Did I really listen to them even when their story seemed to take an hour to tell?  Or did I zone out and try and get 50 other things done while my child followed me around the house, craving my attention?  Did I greet my husband with gratitude when he walked in the door or did I start grumbling immediately about what I'm feeling frustrated about?  More importantly, did I take even 10 minutes to pray and ask God to help?  Sadly, some days the answers are no and this brings the feeling of defeat.  On those days, not only have I not been the mom and wife I want to be, but to top it all off, the numerous chores I attempted to get done are still there starring me in the face!  And, I haven't taken a moment for myself to find a little peace amidst it all. 

Unfortunately, I know there will be days like this.  I don't have the human strength to do it all day in and day out.  But I know in my weakness, God is strong.  I believe I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13).  I truly believe this.  Some days I wonder how in the world I got through it, but as I look back I realize the strength I had came directly from him.  We must remember, God doesn't call the equipped, he equips the called!  Thank goodness for that.  God will always provide if we ask him.  He may not provide in the ways we want, but he will provide in the way he's knows is best for us.  When I find myself in these overwhelming and defeated situations, I'm reminded to draw near to God and ask for his hand in all of this.  Sometimes my human nature takes over and I feel like I can do this on my own.  Then he gently reminds me I can't do it alone.

This devotion is from "Jesus Calling" by Sarah Young, a daily devotional written as if Jesus is speaking directly to you.  I have this as an app on my phone as well as the hard copy and I highly recommend it!  This devotion below is from July 26:

Relax and let Me lead you through this day.  I have everything under control: My control.  You tend to peer anxiously into the day that is before you, trying to figure out what to do, and when.  Meanwhile, the phone rings, and you have to reshuffle your plans.  All that planning ties you up in knots and distracts you from Me.  Attentiveness to Me is not only for your quiet time, but for all your time.  As you look to Me, I will show what to do now and next. 

Vast quantities of time and energy are wasted in obsessive planning.  When you let Me direct your steps, you are set free to enjoy Me and to find what I have prepared for you this day.

In this life, we will struggle at times as moms and women who try to do it all and be it all for everyone.  While this is humanly impossible, we must rely on God to show us what he wants us to do and where he wants us to spend our time.  It's easy to get wrapped up in the little day-to-day tasks, but our children will not remember those little things.  They will remember that we took time to listen when they knew we already had a full plate.  They will feel so loved because we truly made them our priority.

I don't have any excellent time management solutions to share, but I'm learning that whatever I do will never be enough.  There will always be more to be done.  Instead, I know that what I am is enough because God has equipped me and he continues to provide me with what I need to make it through each and every day.  And he's equipped you too, so know that you are enough to carry out his will for you! 

God Bless :)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Heartache of Miscarriage

While a family picture can be a reflection of so many blessings and lots of happiness, it doesn't always show the hidden heartaches.  When people look at our family picture, they see our three precious children we were blessed to bring into this world.  What they don't see is the pain and loss we experienced through miscarriage.  Four painful times, actually.  A lot of people know this about me, but many do not.  And until I personally went down the awful road of miscarriage, I didn't realize so many other women have also.  Which I why I'm choosing to write about it. 

Most women don't openly talk about their miscarriage and can feel isolated and alone and even shame.  I found once I started talking about it, more and more women that I knew had also gone through it.  Knowing this didn't make me feel any better, but I didn't feel so alone and so "abnormal".  Miscarriage is a very different experience for a man.  My husband was extremely supportive and loving during those difficult days for me, but I couldn't expect him to understand exactly what I was going through because his experience of going through it was very different than mine.  No one can truly understand the dark, painful, horrible, heart-breaking road a woman travels down with regards to miscarriage unless she's been there herself.

All four of my miscarriages happened around the same time, about 6-7 weeks into my pregnancies.  Some people would say, "well at least it happened early in the pregnancy" and I agreed, but that didn't make it easy or less painful for me.  In my eyes, a loss of life is a loss of life, no matter what stage or age.  My first miscarriage came with my very first pregnancy.  My husband and I were so excited to start a family and I'll never forget seeing my first positive pregnancy test.  I immediately began to picture our family of three and all the hopes and dreams that came with a baby.  A week or so later, everything changed.  I'll never forget that pit in my stomach when I knew something was wrong.  After an ultrasound confirmed that I had lost the baby, we were crushed.  I felt all kinds of emotions.  I was afraid I would never be able to have a baby and that something was wrong with me.  It was almost a feeling of failure, that my body had somehow not been able to take care of that baby like it needed to.  My husband and I met with the doctor after the ultrasound and I just sat there and cried and cried.  She assured us this is very common and many women go on to have healthy babies.  That gave me a glimpse of hope, but didn't cure my pain.  The only thing that got me through it was my faith.  I knew God had a plan for us.  I truly believed that.  And I knew I had to trust that his plan was far superior than mine, so I did.  I trusted he knew what he was doing.  A few months after that, I got pregnant again and I went on to have a healthy baby girl, who is now 6 1/2 years old.

The other three miscarriages came between my first and second children.  It was about two weeks after I had my third miscarriage that I got a call one evening from a good friend to tell me she was pregnant.  It was their first baby and I was so excited for them.  I knew the joy she was experiencing and I wanted to share in that joy with her.  I honestly felt no jealousy or hard feelings towards her.  I wanted the best for her.  I remember lying in bed that night and I couldn't sleep.  The conversation I had with her had brought back the pain of my recent loss.  Tears just streamed down my face and I just kept thinking about how I wanted another baby so bad.  It almost seemed harder to deal with the miscarriages that came after having a healthy baby because I knew what it felt like to experience the love, joy and excitement of a baby like we were with our first born.  I knew what I was missing out on when I lost those other three babies.   God had placed this desire in our hearts for more children.  So even though I was thankful to at least have one child, I couldn't just shake off the hurt of losing those other three babies.  I kept trying to remind myself that some people aren't fortunate enough to even have children, so I really should be thankful I have one already.  And I was very thankful.  But that desire for more children was so strong and I couldn't let go of it.  I finally said to God one day, "If it's not your plan for us to have more children, please take this desire out of my heart because I can't bear another loss like this."  It was extremely difficult to pray this because I couldn't imagine not wanting more children.  But I also knew that I had to pray for God's will, not mine.  I remember thinking, "Wow.  I cannot believe I just prayed that."  That was a huge step for me in my faith and if I had not gone through the pain of the miscarriages, I probably would never have turned the corner in my faith and learned to pray for God's will, not mine.

While I was in the difficult season of the last three miscarriages, another close friend of mine was going through the heartache of infertility.  I remember her saying "well, at least you can get pregnant".  This was true, but that fact didn't take away my pain.  We both had the same desire for more children and we were both hurting, but in different ways.  We were there for each other, but it was difficult to find the words to console one another since our pain was different.  We didn't pretend to know what the other was going through because we truly didn't.  We just understood that we were both going through heartache.  She told me, "Please tell me if you get pregnant.  I want to know".  So I did.  I remember calling her and although she was happy for me, I could hear the hurt in her voice since she was still trying to get pregnant.  I was early in the pregnancy so I told her I was not getting excited about anything yet.  It was a difficult situation to be in.  I wanted to be happy I was pregnant again, but I was hurting for my friend and her pain as well.  After many, many prayers, God faithfully provided for both of us.  About a few weeks later, she called me to tell me she was pregnant as well!  My second child and her second child were born less than a month a part, and we were now able to share in each other's joy.  God's timing couldn't have been better.  But then again God's timing is always perfect.  Sometimes we need to be reminded of that.

If you've never read the book Heaven Is For Real, I highly recommend it.  It's a true story about a little 3 year old boy's trip to heaven and back during his emergency appendectomy.  If you haven't read it yet and don't want me to spoil some of it for you, skip down to the next paragraph now :)  I started reading this book on a road trip from CO to IA and I was literally reading about Colton (the little boy) going to the hospital in North Platte, NE right as we were driving on I-80 through North Platte!  Crazy.  By this time, I was 4 hours into the book and couldn't put it down.  I got goosebumps and had tears in my eyes numerous times throughout reading this book.  But the chapter that really hit home for me was chapter 17, titled Two Sisters.  Colton's mom had a miscarriage in her second month of pregnancy before Colton was born.  His parents had not told him about this.  He talks about how he knew he had two sisters (not just his one older, earthly sister) because he knew his mom had a baby die in her tummy.  When his mom asked him who told him this, he said, "She did, Mommy.  She said she died in your tummy."  He then told his mom, "It's okay, Mommy.  She's okay.  God adopted her."  I loved the part where he described what she looked like and when he said "In heaven, this little girl ran up to me and wouldn't stop hugging me!"  His parents then asked him what her name was and he explained she didn't have a name because his parents hadn't named her.  They agreed as they explained to him they didn't even know the baby was a girl.  I had tears flowing reading all of this and just lost it when I read the part where he told his parents, "Yeah, she said she just can't wait for you and daddy to get to heaven."  I was crying so hard at this point my husband looked over and said "What's wrong?!"  For me, it was almost tears from peace and comfort that had come over me reading this.  Picturing my four other babies I've never met, waiting in heaven for me and my husband, is just an indescribable feeling.  I've always believed life begins at conception, but trying to picture a baby at 6 or 7 weeks old in heaven was not something I was ever good at.  I have just always trusted they were in heaven.  And the thought of God adopting those babies brings comfort beyond words.  This book brought more healing for me by giving me the peace of mind that my unborn babies are being loved and taken care of, even though I can't see them and hold them and even though their life ended so quickly.  It also gave me more hope that one day we will meet and my three other children we've been blessed to hold and love on this earth will also meet their four siblings they do not yet know about.  Amazing.  Simply amazing.

For those of you who have babies in heaven too, who never had the chance to live on this earth, my prayer for you is that you have faith, that although we have suffered great loss here on earth, one day God will bring us all together again and we will experience the wonder and miraculous works of him when we hold those babies.  I pray your hearts are healed and that you trust in God's will for those babies.  One day we will know why, but until then, trust that God is holding them and loving them even more than we ever could as their mother and they are in heaven waiting for you.

God Bless

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

It's All About Choices

"Choice" is a word that I find myself constantly using.  In our home, we don't tell our children they are bad or naughty.  Instead, we are teaching them that their behavior is either based on a good choice or a bad choice that they make.  I believe all children are good because they are a gift from God, and God's gifts are never bad.  But naturally, our children do make bad choices and when this happens, they know there will be a consequence based on the choice they have made.  Sometimes it's a consequence directed by us as their parents and other times it's a natural result of their choice.  Regardless of the choice, they are empowered to choose (unless it puts their safety at risk of course).  This allows our children to make decisions and choices for themselves, but then they also have to be ready to deal with the consequence that follows.  When this happens, a lesson is learned (good or bad) and that is our goal!  Because our children will continue to make decisions for themselves for the rest of their lives, we feel it's so important to help them get a strong foundation when they are little.  The choices they make now will not compare to the choices they will have to make when they get older, but they will understand the concept of consequences and will hopefully use this foundation to make good choices as they get older.

Right now we are in a season with my 3 year old where it's very difficult to get her to eat a variety of things.  But, we stick to our guns and she is served the same meal the rest of us have every night (while my 6 year old and 15 month old usually eat it all, so I know it's kid-friendly :).  I do this for two reasons.  1)  She won't always get what she wants in life and she must learn that now at a young age, even when it comes to meals.  2)  I think it's disrespectful for my children not to eat (or at least try) something that someone else has taken the time to prepare.  If they don't like it, they don't have to eat it but they must at least try it. There were a few nights when she refused to touch her food.  Not even take 1 bite!  After it caused a lot of turmoil for my husband and I watching her be so stubborn and not even try it, we finally decided we were not going to make an issue of food.  So, I served it to her, she refused to touch it and later she sat in agony watching her sister eat a chocolate cupcake for dessert because the consequence of her choice was not getting dessert!  The next night you better believe she found a way to eat her dinner (even though she acted like it was torture) and she was pleased with the consequence of her choice the next evening.  The lesson I learned from this is to empower my child to make this choice.  If she wants to go to bed hungry because she chooses not to eat her meal, then it's totally up to her!  I don't get upset about it anymore because she is the one who has to deal with the consequence and learn the lesson. 

I know I've talked a lot about choices in previous posts as well, but one thing I keep being reminded of as a mom is most of what life is all about is our choices.  Whether it's making choices for my family or teaching my kids to make their own choices, most things we do in life is done by choice.  Every family has different priorities when it comes to choices as well.  We are constant role models and our children need to see us making good choices in life.  By seeing the good consequences that come from making good choices, we encourage them to do the same and reap the same benefits.  There are lessons for them to learn when we make bad choices too.  Hopefully the consequences of our bad choices are enough to teach them those bad choices are not worth it.

The thing I love about making choices is we all have the privilege to do it!  It's easy to look at our own past and use the excuses "that was the way I was raised so that's all I've ever known" or "I'm not used to that because my family never did that" or "I was not raised to..." but at the end of the day, we all have the ability to choose our own beliefs, habits, values, morals, etc!  We all come from different families and so did our parents.  Many times we know people whose parent(s) never said "I love you" or hugged each other or they come from a family of addiction or their family never communicated in healthy ways, etc, etc.  No matter how difficult the past, we have the choice to break the chain and make healthy choices for our own children!  That is our privilege AND responsibility as parents.  I also commend people who seek counseling when they feel the need to deal with their hurtful past in order to make sure it doesn't negatively affect their own children. Sometimes it takes becoming a parent to see the impact of our past (good and bad) and then make the choice of what areas need improvement and what we want to continue to pass on to our children.  So many of our choices are directly related to how we were raised.  Have you ever thought about that?  Either we continue to do things similar to the way we were raised, or we choose to change them.   

In my journey of motherhood, I'm trying to really think about the choices I'm making for me and my familly and whether they will have a healthy impact in the short-term and long-term.  Sometimes it's easy to get in a routine of making choices because "that's what we've always known" or "it's easy and comfortable" but it may not be the best for our children.  We also have to think about our choices being passed down from our children to our grandchildren.  It's good to ask ourselves, "Is my choice in raising my children this way something I want them to do as a mother or father and pass down to their children?"  We won't always make the best choices, but we must do the best with can and be intentional with our choices each and every day. 

God Bless :)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


(this is a lengthy post, but I encourage you to read through to the end!)

I was very blessed to have attended the annual MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) Convention a couple weeks ago and have my "mom tank" refilled!  I went with three incredibly FUN, amazing women who also happen to be awesome moms :)  We laughed and laughed and enjoyed having some time away.  It was a great reminder that we do have to take some time for ourselves once in awhile.  If you haven't had some time with your girlfriends in awhile, make it a priority to take time and do it!  It doesn't have to be a whole weekend...even an evening is helpful.  We owe that to ourselves and it makes us better moms and wives too!

There were so many amazing speakers we got to hear, along with music artists Christy Nockels who provided worship music every day and Matthew West who performed that Friday night.  Relating back to my last post about forgiveness, Matthew West wrote a song called Forgiveness based on the true story about a mom who forgave the drunk driver who killed her daughter.  If you haven't heard it, it's on iTunes (and the christian radio station a lot) so check it out!  It's a great song and an amazing story of forgiveness. 

The theme of MOPS this year is Plunge (Risk.Real.Relatioships).  The scripture referenced through the theme is 1 Peter: 4:8:  Love as if your life depended on it.  It's an encouragement for us to step out of our comfort zone and reach out to other moms and deepen relationships.  We heard over and over the importance of being real with one another and admitting our weak moments and difficulties and showing grace for one another.  We cannot go deeper in our friendships if we don't allow this to happen. 

One of the speakers, Kay Warren, (wife of Rick Warren, author of the Purpose Driven Life) said a few things that really stuck with me.  Here are a few things she said...

-You either choose connection or competition and comparison with other moms (and women).

-If you can't enter into someone else's pain when they are in pain, the friendship won't last (again, this calls for going deeper into relationships).

-Raise children to be aware of the world and the lives of others. 

-Talk about the hard stuff.  (I love this.  Too many times we try and brush things under the rug and don't acknowledge there is an issue, whether it's a personal issue or an issue we have with someone else.  Confronting the issue and talking about it doesn't come naturally for everyone, but we can choose to do it, and we need to.  When we talk about the hard things, we can deal with them and it then allows us to move on.  Doing this also creates a deeper relationship/friendship.)

-Embrace each other with grace. (Giving grace allows for mistakes, which we all make.  I recently saw a quote that said "Don't judge others just because their sins are different than yours."  Grace allows us to get past whatever it is and move on.)

-Enter into each other's shame.

-Help her find strength in God.

-Love each other's children.  (For me, those that show my children the most love are the ones who I have deep friendships with.  They are a present part of my life that are in the "here and now" and if something happened to me, I know they are here to help with my children in various ways.  That brings much relief.)

I think of all the things I heard over the course of those 3 days, this was my favorite and stuck with me the most.

"The best friends are those who come looking for us.  They don't wait until we come seeking help." 

I absolutely love this quote!  We've all heard the saying that true friends are those we can go awhile without seeing or talking to and once we do connect again, we pick up right where we left off.  That's great, there is nothing wrong with that.  I have some friendships that have always been like that and so we haven't known any different.  But those friendships are hard to deepen when we don't invest the time into them.  At this season in my life, I long for the deep relationships...friends that are a part of my life through the joys and challenges, the kind of friends who don't just show up when life gets rough, (like the quote above) they come looking for us!  They are the friends who check in on us when it's been just a short time since we've connected because they've missed us!!  They want to connect on a regular basis.  They don't do it because they feel like they have to check it off their list of things to do.  They are also the friends that love my children and share in my children's joys and challenges as well. 

We are all busy and some weeks it's hard to reach out when we are so occupied with our own family and activities.  But I was reminded that in order to deepen those friendships, we must reach out.  We need to make it a priority.  The good thing is most of what we 'busy our lives with' is by choice!  I'm really trying to work on not using the busy excuse anymore.  It's easy to say we are busy because we have 3 kids.  Well, we have chosen to have 3 kids.  We choose to put them in activities that make us 'busy'.  We are all given the same amount of time in a day and we all choose what we spend our time on and who we spend it with.

This info Kay presented has me re-evaluating what my priorities are.  It also reassured me that my desire for deep friendships is not unrealistic.  But I have learned it is unrealistic to have a deep friendship with those that don't feel the same way.  Likewise, if we don't invest the time to continue to deepen those already 'deep' relationships, they will begin to fade.   Instead of being left hurt and feeling empty, we need to invest our time and energy into those who desire to have that deep friendship with us.  When God puts that desire in our hearts, he also puts people in our lives to meet that need!  Have you noticed that?  Sometimes, those people show up in our lives before we even realize the need is there.  I've recently had this happen and I'm so grateful God knows me even better than I know myself.  He knows your needs to!

I believe the 'Risk.Real.Relationships.' comes into play when we step out of our comfort zone and extend ourselves to someone new.  It's easy for us to get comfortable in the friendships that we have and not be willing to reach out and try to deepen our friendship with new people.  It's worth the risk because we never know where that friendship could lead.  We may feel like we have the friends that we need or we don't have time to deepen another friendship, but have you thought maybe someone else needs you and the gifts God has given you?  Maybe it's only for a season, but it could be a critical season in someone else's life (especially for a mom).  As a mom of young children, I can atest that there are daily challenges, some big and some small, but there are always challenges.  Sometimes all is takes to get through it is having another mom beside you who can relate and share in your joys, pain, challenges, guilt, frustrations and whatever else you might be going through.  Even though we walk through our own storms as moms, we need to be willing to reach out to others and go deeper in our relationships.  I believe if we do this, we will all be better moms!  I'm also a firm believer that when we help others, many times they end up helping us too when we least expected it.

I encourage you to think about a season in your life (maybe even before motherhood or maybe the one you're going through right now) and think of those who stood (or are standing) by your side and committed to a deeper relationship with you.  Maybe they weren't a part of your life until that particular season.  That was no coincidence.  God put them there in your life when he knew you needed them the most, whether it was a rough season or a joyous one.  Whoever it may have been (maybe several people), write them a note, send them an email, do whatever you'd like, but let them know how they made a difference in your life and how much you appreciated it.  Sometimes people make a huge impact in our lives and they don't even realize it.  Maybe you will help someone realize a gift they have because you took the time to share your joy and gratitude for what they did for you!

My prayer today for all of you is that you will open your heart to what God is asking of you as a friend.  Look for the signs and listen for God's voice, even the quietest voice.  There may be someone seeking you right now.  Maybe it's just to provide a meal for a family going through a rough season or maybe it's going so deep as to share in another mom's pain and sorrow and be there to help her through it.  Whatever it may be, I believe this precious gift of motherhood we've been given is meant to be shared.   

God Bless :)

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Big "F" Word

As I laid in bed one night, recent experiences racing through my head, I decided my next post would be about the big "F" word.  Well, I'm not referring to the four-letter "F" word.  I'm referring to the 11-letter "F" word...Forgiveness. 

This word carries so much weight, strength and obedience.  Along with love, this word says it all about our future.  Without it, we wouldn't have eternity.  Each time I think about how every, awful, ugly, hurtful thing we as humans do is forgiven by Jesus Christ, I am taken to higher thoughts than this earth.  I am continually amazed at how the love that is felt for us and the grace we are given can surpass any sin we commit.  If you haven't ever taken the time to think about that, I mean really think, then I encourage you to do so.  It's overwhelming.  The love we are shown every minute of every day by God, is consistent and freely given.  So is His forgiveness.  How many human beings in our lives can we say that about?  So if we are granted so much pardon, why do we have such a hard time forgiving others?  We are human, but this is not an excuse.  We are still expected to forgive and forget the trespasses of others, no matter how deep the hurt.  When I have trouble doing this, I pray about it, and sometimes I have to pray a lot!  I'm amazed at God's ability to soften my heart, take away hurt and negative feelings, help me to forgive and move on.  I'm a firm believer that we only hurt ourselves when we hold grudges and refuse to forgive.  It's a breeding ground for bitterness and who really wants to live that way?  I'm inspired when hearing about stories where people have been hurt so badly (one was about a loved one lost in a drunk driving accident) and they forgive the person who committed the horrible act.  I have so much respect for people who are forgiving.  I think it says a lot about the character of the person who is willing to forgive and move on. 

Although it's not easy to forgive, we must do this and teach our children to forgive.  I've been thinking about the most effective ways I can teach my children forgiveness and quite frankly, it's not easy to teach either!  But, I believe the best, most effective way to teach it is to show it by example.  Kids are smart, very smart.  They are sitting in our vehicles and they are listening to our phone conversations we have with friends as we are driving down the road.  They are playing in different rooms in our home while listening in on conversations we have with our spouses.  They know more than we think they know.  Our children are watching and listening to our reactions to situations and many times following in our footsteps.  If our children see us forgiving others and not holding grudges, they will learn this is what is expected of them also. 

The older our children get, the more likely they are to be offended or get their feelings hurt.  As parents, we know this happens in various ways and unfortunately, it will happen to them as adults as well.  It's our natural reaction as moms to immediately defend our children.  This is not a bad thing.  But when our children get hurt, it's our job to help them learn to forgive.  And the great thing about kids is, most times, they are much quicker to forgive and forget than adults are!  So why as adults do we waste time holding on to grudges when our children have already forgiven and moved on?  What kind of example are we being?  If our response is to hold a grudge in defense of our children, then instead of forgiving and moving on, our children will hold grudges as well.  This is not healthy for our children either.  The more they are taught to forgive, the more likely they will be able to handle hurt they experience as they get older.  I don't want my children growing up holding on to hurt and anger and feeling bitter.  What a waste of their life that would be.  The longer a grudge is carried, the heavier it gets.  I'm teaching them that it's not always easy to forgive and forget, but it's part of being obedient to God and what we are called to do.     

I believe it's critical to raise our children to be confident in who God has made them to be, building up their self-esteem, supporting their dreams and making them feel so loved that no matter how bad their feelings hurt, they will be able to quickly and easily brush it off.  Our job as moms isn't to protect our children from hurt, we can't keep hurt out of their lives.  But it is our job to teach them how to deal with it.  If we are instilling morals and values in our children, they will know right from wrong and be able to choose right in even the most difficult circumstances, including forgiveness.  We can't control how we are treated or what other people say about us (or our children), but we choose how we let it affect us.

This is always a great reminder for us...For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.  Matthew 6:14-15

Is there someone you need to forgive?  Please pray about it and ask God to transform your heart.  Life is too short not to be forgiving.

God Bless :)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Say What You Mean & Mean What You Say

There are things my children teach me everyday.  One thing I love about children is their honesty.  They tell you how it is even if you don't want to hear it.  As adults, we sometimes 'sugar coat' things because we don't want something to come off the wrong way or we try to make things to seem perfect.  It's great to be in the company of children where you never have to guess how they really feel, like we sometimes have to do with other adults.  As a mom, I know no one is perfect and no family unit is perfect either and I've accepted that fact!

Have you ever noticed, especially as a mom, it's so enjoyable and much easier to be around people with a sense of humor?!  I am very thankful my husband and I both feel a sense of humor is critical in life!  Just last night as the kiddos were in bed, him and I were getting ready to wash pinto beans to make homemade refried beans today and he didn't realize the 10 lb bag was still open and yep, you guessed it, we had pinto beans all over the kitchen floor!  I just started laughing and so did he after the shock of seeing his feet surrounded by beans!  The worst part was they were too hard for the dog to clean up and eat so I had to get the vacuum out :)  As soon as we cleaned them up, which was no big deal, I said to him "if one of the kids did this we probably wouldn't be laughing!"  He agreed.  Sometimes when our patience is running low and we tend to react too quickly, it's easy to yell at our kids, get upset over accidents, and say things we really don't mean.  I've really tried to be aware of my reactions lately with my kids.  On Father's Day we were out to dinner and our little guy dropped his cup on the floor, the lid fell off and water puddled under my chair!  Not five minutes after we got that cleaned up, my oldest accidently knocked her glass of water over and water went all over the table and then on to the floor.  At that point, my husband and I just started laughing!  I said, "well, I think two at one meal is a new record!"  We have no problem admitting we are not perfect parents and our children are not perfect either.  But we can choose how we react to situations with our words and actions. 

I'm thankful my children are totally (sometimes brutally) honest with me because it makes me analyze what I need to change and they trust my reaction enough to be honest with me.  I don't get offended or upset with them.  Instead, I look at it as an opportunity to grow and be a better mom and a better person!  And with children, the criticism isn't alway constructive, but I get their point and I value their opinions even if I don't agree with them.  I want to lay the foundation early in their lives that they can come to me anytime with any problem, concern, as well as their honest opinions.  What good is it if they have to put on a front just to 'make me happy'?  That's not fair to them.  If I'm teaching my children to be honest, yet I cannot accept their honest opinions, what am I teaching them?   I may not always agree with their opinions, but I will always respect their feelings/opinions and not get upset with them for feeling the way they do.  I never want them to tell me something just because that's what they think I want to hear.  I believe every child, no matter what age, should be able to be honest with their parents without them getting upset at their opinions.  With that being said, I also think it's important for us parents to teach them how to do this in a respectful way which I believe can be done.  We all deserve to be heard even if we don't agree with each other.  When we listen and don't reject our children's honesty, we are showing them that they are valued while teaching them they need to respect the honest feelings/opinions of others as well.  I believe the key to any real, close relationship is expectance of honesty from each other.  If we don't allow our children (and others) to be honest with us, then they won't be.  And if they aren't honest, they aren't being real either.  I never want my children to feel like they can't be real with me.

Just the other night I had to put the phrase 'mean what you say' into action.  My husband and I have both always tried hard to make sure we followed through with a consequence that we have warned will happen depending on our childrens' choices.  I had warned my 3 year old that if she did something I had just asked her not to do, then she would not be getting ice cream later in the evening!  Well, by 9 am, she had lost the ice cream for later that night.  And, all day long, she kept asking if she could have ice cream that night!  My answer was consistently no and everytime I told her that, I also reminded her why the answer was no, which was based on the choice she made.  She cried numerous times about it, but I was not backing down.  It's easy for us to threaten a consequence, but unless we follow through and mean what we say, we aren't teaching our kids the valuable lesson of conseqences.  Instead, we are teaching them not to believe us!  It's so important to choose a consequence that we can follow through on. 

When I tuck the kids into bed, after we say their prayers, I look them in the eyes and say, "you are kind, you are smart and you are important!"  As most of you know, this comes from the book The Help.  I love this.  Because I'm truly meaning what I say.  They just smile and giggle at me when I say it, but I know someday it will really sink in with them.  I want them to know I am saying what I mean and meaning what I say, even when they are this young.  That way, they always know they can expect that from me.

I also love this quote, "With the passing years, people with forget what you have said and what you have done, but they will never forget how you made them feel."  It's so true.  Our words and actions (or lack of) translate into others' feelings and sometimes go much deeper than we think.  I want my children to feel loved, valued, appreciated, accepted, etc.  But I also want them to feel this way after everytime they are completely honest with me.  They deserve it.

God Bless :)

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Greatest Father

Yesterday we spent Father's Day honoring my husband and I was thinking of and missing my dad a few states away.  While we were in church and they had all the dads come up for a blessing, I was thinking about all the people who have lost their own father or their children's father.  I counted my blessings that my children have a wonderful father who loves them to the moon and back and tells them "I love you" all the time.  I'm thankful this is true with my own dad as well. 

I also couldn't help thinking about those whose father is not present in their lives, physically or emotionally.  For some of those who don't have their dad present in their lives or never have for whatever reason, I'm sure Father's Day is a difficult day.  But no matter our circumstances, we all have a reason to celebrate Father's Day.  The greatest Father in the world is a father to all of us.  How many father's would sacrafice their own child's life to save a bunch of sinners like us?  Only one.  And no matter what we do, where we go or who we don't have present in our life, we always have a father that loves us unconditionally.  God our Father will fill us emotionally and spiritually if we only ask, and at the end of the day, that's all we really need.  So many times we look to others (or material things) to fulfill a need and make us happy, whether it's our spouse, our children, family, friends, etc., and we end up disappointed.  God didn't intend for others to make us happy because He knew all along that only He can do that!  So, take heart in knowing you will always have a father who is here with you now and will be forever. 

On a much lighter note, our Father's Day took an unexpected turn as we were getting ready to leave the house. Our smoke detectors started going off and even after changing the batteries in every single one and shutting off the fuse, we couldn't get them to stop!  So, after a call to 911 they suggested to send the fire department out to take a look.  He assured me they would have their sirens and lights off, which we greatly appreciated!  After checking everything out, they discovered a spider had made a web in our basement detector and had set it off.  They were 3 great guys and offered to let the girls sit in the fire truck, which they loved of course!  Nothing like providing a little neighborhood entertainment on a Sunday afternoon :) 

God Bless :)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Seasons of Friendship

I've recently been reflecting on friendships over the last few years during my time as a mom and I've discovered just as there are seasons of motherhood, there are also seasons of friendship.  In the past few years, I've met more amazing women and moms than I could have hoped for.  I know it was all part of God's plan and His reason for moving us here.  I'm so grateful to have such great women in my life who share so many similarities and are 'real'.  When we find real, true people who can be themselves and don't have anything to prove, it's so comforting and really makes us want to invest our time and energy into deepening those relationships.  They become a priority.  As moms, so much of our time is taken up with our children that we don't have time for relationships with people that won't be 'real' with us.

I've recently found peace after going through a difficult season of friendship.  I struggled coming to terms with a friendship that was once very strong and a big part of my life but has faded.  It's difficult when you pour your heart and soul into a friendship and give everything you can to be there for a friend but then you stop getting that back in return when you need it most.  Going through this, I knew God had a reason and a plan, but in the midst of it, it was difficult to see.  I feel like I went through stages of loss.  I felt angry, sad, and betrayed in a sense.  So many thoughts went through my mind and how the relationship had been so important to me and now it wasn't there anymore.  I didn't want it to be about me and what I was or was not getting in return, but the hurt was so strong I had a hard time getting past it.  Could I have done more to reach out and try and pick up where we had left?  Yes, but something in me didn't have the desire to and when I realized this, I then knew it wasn't a priority anymore.  I knew I had to get past it but I didn't know how.  I thought about confronting the situation and sharing my honest feelings.  I was very close to doing so but after much prayer and advice, I was questioned as to what I had hoped would be the outcome of doing that.  After thinking about that and stepping back from all the negative feelings, I found peace in the fact that right now at this point in my life, I don't need that relationship that was once so important.  For me, I think the most difficult part of letting go was because it held so much of my past.  When a friendship is a big part of our lives, we have a hard time imagining our life without it and moving on.  But I have discovered it's truly possible.

I realized I couldn't live in the past anymore, but instead focus my efforts on friendships here in the present.  When I decided to do this, God showed me the people He strategically put in my life, here in the present, willing to deepen our friendship.  I love how God knows exactly what we need, who we need and when we need them in our lives.  I am now at peace with all of this because I see what His plan was all along.  He knew it was in my best interest to let go of a part of my past to open myself up to the wonderful friendships of the present.  This difficult season of friendship I went through has taught me so many things.  Who knows?  Maybe God has planned to bring this relationship back to my life when He feels it's time.  If not, that's okay.

I share this story in the event someone else is struggling or has struggled with letting go of a relationship.  If you can relate, I encourage you to pray about your situation and ask God to show you how to handle it and He will.  I'd love to pray for you as well.  It's hard to let go of the past for many different reasons.  It took me awhile to figure out that was part of my struggle.  I'm thankful I did because it made me open up to the present, be more aware, and grateful for the awesome people I have in my life right now.  We shouldn't waste time living in the past when there are so many gifts for us here in the present.  For we never know when our gain will be much greater than our loss!

God Bless :)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Seasons of Motherhood--Inaugural Post :)

Hey!  Thanks for coming to check out my new blog on Motherhood!  Being a mom of 3 children, motherhood is a subject near and dear to my heart.  So, I've decided to journal my personal experience of motherhood through this blog.  I'm not here because I think I have all the answers or great advice.  I'm not a professional writer and I don't intend to be.  Instead, I enjoy sharing my experiences and lessons learned in the hopes of reaching at least one mom who is looking for someone to relate to.  No mom should feel alone in this wild journey!  I'm also passionate about passing on great lessons/stories I've learned from some amazing moms so they can continue to be shared with others.  Isn't that what it's all about?  Some days just knowing we are normal moms and the challenges we face, we don't face alone.  If I can give another mom encouragment and inspiration, then I've accomplished what I've set out to do! 

Here's the reasoning behind my blog title... 

Happy Hour:  First, every mom deserves a daily happy hour, even if your happy hour does not include adult beverages!  There will be challenges throughout our day, so as moms we deserve an hour (at least) that is relaxing and happy!  For me, yes, some days that includes an adult beverage or 2 with my husband or girlfriends :) 

Friendship:  For me, this not only includes friends but also family.  Because of my frienships with family and friends, life and motherhood are easier and more enjoyable!  Having great people to rely on for various things is wonderful.  I'm so thankful for my friendships that have stood the test of time and life's numerous seasons. 

Faith:  Last and most important to me, is my faith in God and Jesus Christ.  Without God, I wouldn't be where I am today and I wouldn't have my three precious children that have given me the title "mother".  I credit this beautiful gift of motherhood to God, who draws me closer to Him through my role as a mom.  He is the only constant in our lives and when friendships seem to fade and happy hour seems out of reach, God is and always will be there.  What a relief!!

I was asked to do a guest blog post on Motherhood a few weeks ago and I really enjoyed it!  So, here is my first ever personal post in case you have not seen it already.  I would love for you to share your thoughts as well :)

Seasons of Motherhood

Hi!  I’m Megan Schimmelpfennig, the lucky wife of Sam, and blessed mom of three children ages 6, almost 3 and 1!  I’m also the founder and owner of my online children’s boutique, Trendy Tots ~n~ Polka Dots (

The definition of motherhood has changed significantly for me over the last two years.  This change started with our move from Arizona to Colorado, and having to leave my job as an advertising account manager in the corporate world for nearly six years.  A week after arriving in Colorado, we were thrilled with the news baby #3 was on the way, and little did I know, I was about to enter a new ‘season’ of being a full-time, stay at home mom.  I feel very fortunate to be able to stay at home with my children, but I’ll be honest, it’s been quite a transition.  Going from striving to meeting and exceeding sales goals and receiving awards for doing so, to striving just to get laundry done, the house picked up and little mouths fed numerous times a day has been no easy feat!  Needless to say, success has a whole new meaning for me.  Some days I feel like the ring leader of a three-ring circus and other days I feel like I’m up on the tight rope trying to balance it all.

By having the awesome experience of being part of a MOPS Group (Mothers of Preschoolers) since moving to CO, I have not only strengthened my relationship with God, but He has made it quite clear this is the season I’m meant to be in, right now, and I couldn’t be happier or more content.  With all the ups, downs, frustrations, challenges and some days very little praise or acknowledgement, I’ve realized I don’t need awards to prove I’m accomplishing great things.  I’m fulfilled when I see my children be kind and loving to each other and make good choices in difficult situations.  When they look at me with their big blue eyes, tears streaming down their cheeks, and they look to me for consolation and I’m here for them.  Being able to impact my children every day brings me immeasurable joy.  I’ve grown to be a more patient mom, cherishing even the time-outs and lessons learned, as I know this season will pass all too quickly.  I look at my patio door and so many times think, “I love those little handprints.  Some day they won’t be there and I will give anything to see them and have a noisy house again.”  During this season, I’ve learned to focus on what’s really important.  I know that for all of us our time is so limited with all that we have to do and the places we need to be, but at the end of the day, it all shakes down to priorities.  Our children are quick to make note of our priorities as well.   

One of the great things I love about motherhood is God created us all to be unique moms like our children are unique!  Just like we shouldn’t compare our children to other children, and we shouldn’t compare ourselves to other moms.  We set high standards for ourselves as moms and seek approval from other human beings.  We sometimes feel like the biggest compliment we could receive is to be told that we are a wonderful mother.  It’s nice to hear, but I don’t believe it validates anything.  Why?  Because we only need to be the mother that God created each of us to be.  That looks different for all of us.  At the beginning of everyday, my goal is to be the mom God has meant for me to be and raise my children to be the person that God created each of them to be!  I find when I keep feeding my soul with His word and listening to His voice, I’m on the right track in sticking with His plan.  I’m thankful motherhood is not a destination, because we would miss so many blessings along this journey.  And through this journey, God gives us His grace when we make mistakes.  He wouldn’t create us to be mothers without leading and guiding us and being our constant mentor.  What a comforting thought!  My wish for all moms is to live in the present moment of the season you are in.  And remember, the days go by slowly, but the years pass quickly and before we know it, this precious season is over.