Adventures in Parenting, Family Life, Random Thoughts

Best laid plans

I was in bed at 8:30 pm with my kindle. My alarm was set for 5:00 am (along with the coffee pot). My computer and everything I needed for the morning was downstairs. I was ready for tomorrow.

I love to write. It’s my way of organizing my thoughts, my way of making sense of things, my way of worship and personal growth, and hopefully a way to encourage others. My husband and I discussed making time for me to do just that, uninterrupted, and I was really looking forward to it.

And then at 2:30 am, sweet baby James woke up with a fever and never fully went back to sleep. Which meant I never went back to sleep. Suddenly, all my preparation for my early morning writing session was out the window. I was now going to have to figure out how to get sleep and parent our 4 little ones, including a sick baby, with very little sleep. My time dedicated to writing was quickly replaced with begging and pleading to God for energy and strength for the day and wellness for my family.

These are the times I just want to pull the covers over my head and not participate in the day. I struggle so much between the all or nothing. I either strive for a great day, rhythm, and just loving and enjoying my family, or I have days like this when I want to put the kids in front of a screen in their jammies all day, let them destroy the house and eat whatever they want until I can declare early bedtime at 6pm. I know I need to allow rest and grace, but too much of no rhythm triggers bad moods for me and my kids. Plans are good, routines are good, but keeping those when I hit a snag has me repeating “Jesus, take the wheel” All. Day. Long.

Sometimes the best laid plans fail. Sometimes it’s because of our own doing, sometimes it’s because of others or external circumstances. But I know one thing, life’s hiccups aren’t a surprise to God.

What if our messed up plans are actually God trying to get our attention? Maybe when our plans are shifted or pulled right out from under us, it’s God’s way of pushing us to exercise our trust muscles. In those situations, we have no choice but to look and really search for Him.

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21

Having kids has humbled me so much. They’re so unpredictable, always surprising me and always stretching me to grow, even through sleepless nights when my mind just doesn’t want to work the way it’s supposed to. Just when I think I have things figured out or a good plan in place, something changes and I need to adapt. Thankfully I’m not alone, and I’m continually reminded of Gods grace and mercy, everyday, through life’s peaks and valleys.

What about you? Do you have trouble adapting to unforeseen changes? Are you all or nothing when it comes to routines like I am? Was there a time when you really felt forced to trust in Gods strength over your own?

Family Life, Random Thoughts

How do I know if I’m a good mom?

Do you ever write a note to yourself? Of course we have task lists and reminders but I’ve found lately I’ve been encouraging myself via Post-it notes. I used to do this when I worked in an office, so why should the “job” of being a mom be any different?

Since scaling back my roles in marketing and interior design, I’ve had such a challenge transitioning from career to full time mom. I know so many can relate. I think my main problem has stemmed from lack of measurable success. It sounds so silly, but being in sales and working to build my business, I could always measure how well I was accomplishing what I was working toward.

Motherhood, not so much. If I based my success on behavioral feedback from my kids… I know the answer would be pretty negative. I mean, I can translate all the screaming and yelling and fighting in that way at least. I feel as though I’m telling them the same thing every day and not seeing them grasp on. Don’t get me wrong, we have pretty amazing kids. They’re healthy, strong, intelligent, responsible, caring little humans, but I can’t take credit for that. I can’t even take credit for their love of the Lord, that’s all Him. We’ve chosen to homeschool our kids but their learning is all them. I can’t measure my success by what they know but also don’t want to put that kind of pressure on them or me.

It’s not that I need constant affirmation but I think we all feel like we need a goal to work toward or insight as to if we are doing things right or succeeding. I’ve looked hard but I can’t find a common THING to measure my success. This makes the job of motherhood so wearisome, so draining, and so (as my friend says) “lather, rinse, repeat”.

I was recently encouraged to instead of looking for earthly, tangible ways of measuring myself and our days, question if I have accomplished the goal of making my kids feel loved. I don’t often ask myself or my kids, if they FEEL loved, but it’s given me a new perspective.

Sally Clarkson, a favorite author of mine, said when asked how she influenced her 4 now adult children, “This is the secret: loving them well, generously, all the time, in every situation…unconditional love won the day.”

Instead of trying to control our days or kids to give me some sort of accomplishment, just focus on loving them. That is my #1 job as a mom. So this is what my motivational note to myself says over my kitchen sink, “do they feel loved?” This is my reminder throughout the day of what’s important. It seems so simple that we often forget that’s what matters. Not did we get the chance to read together, did I get laundry or anything on my to do list done, did we get to our devotions that day, did I speak with kindness at all those stressful moments (especially during the hours of 4pm-7pm), did I get one on one time with the kids or get outside enough today. Of course these things are great to strive for, but the Bible says “the greatest of these is love”. So I’m putting LOVE at the top of my list today and every day. Everything else can wait.

Adventures in Parenting, Random Thoughts

The struggle

I sat on the driveway behind our two cars with all 4 kids and a huge pile of small rocks. This is hardly where I would have pictured today’s math lesson to take place but I met them where they were, that’s what we are supposed to do right? I helped our big girls count out and divide rocks from the yard into groups of 10 while our 3 year old simultaneously messed up those piles with a huge stick. This of course produced frustration and screaming. Meanwhile I’m juggling a teething and sick baby that will not let me put him down or stop crying, but the opportunity to put small rocks in his mouth finally cheered him up. This of course was combatted by his watchful but very distracted and frustrated mom. Why can’t we just get through this lesson? Why does this have to be so hard? Why can’t our 3 year old just watch and listen or go somewhere else in the yard for 5 minutes? Why can’t the baby just nap right now, preferably somewhere else than in my arms?

These are the moments when I ask myself, what on earth am I doing? Who on earth decides to have 4 kids in 6 years other than someone who desires to run a small daycare and preschool in their home all day every day? This is not my field of expertise. For the record, I chose to live alone with no roommates for years before being married because I needed my alone time. These days, I consider myself lucky if I get to go to the bathroom on my own and don’t have the lock picked by someone who needs me to tie yet another doll onto a car so it doesn’t fall off and it needs to happen right this instant.

Why is it that God speaks to us most during our struggles? James 1:2 says “consider it pure joy, brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds” I don’t know about you but I find it hard to be joyful during pain. Though I’m realizing this is a choice, choosing to be joyful results in joy, just like choosing to be angry produces anger. God gives us a choice in how to respond to life’s struggles but I’m finding that aligning myself with his will and being grateful in all circumstances can only produce joy, no matter what stage I’m in.

Later that evening I found myself sitting on the couch (with the sick, teething baby snuggling me close) thinking about how I’m going to get dinner started one handed while holding him with the other. It’s my 5th night in a row of no sleep and non stop days with the kids are wearing on me hard. Just then I chose to be joyful and grateful and I look up to see our big three kids running around in a circle in our playroom chasing eachother, squealing in joy. They love eachother, they ENJOY eachother and THAT is what I’m here for, to witness God’s goodness- the good times and the bad, and I’m so thankful that amidst all the struggles of the day, God allows me to see these glimmering moments, reminding me that He is SO good.

Random Thoughts

Need to be Free

Twelve years in Christian school just didn’t work for me. Now before my mom and dad read this and think they wasted a ton of money and time driving me 40 minutes to school every day, and all of my teachers think their teaching effort was wasted, stay with me, I’ll explain. I did what I was supposed to do, memorized the scripture, sang the songs, wore dresses 3 times a week, went to chapel every week, etc. But I didn’t understand why I did all of these things until after I left school. If I’m being honest, not until years after leaving school, and having kids did it really hit home for me. So after growing up in a Christian home, going to church weekly, and 12 years of private, Christian education, it took another 15ish years after for me to understand why I did all of those things, and grumbled and complained about it for so many years.

We’ve developed a saying around our house when Charles started crawling and the girls would chase after him, grab him, and treat him like their real life baby doll. He’d fuss and whine because he did not want to be controlled (still doesn’t), so we are constantly telling the girls, “let him be free!” Well that was me growing up, I just wanted to be free, we all do, we’re born craving control. I saw my school, church and childhood as just a bunch of rules and I had no control. I wouldn’t say I was sheltered, I had boundaries, just didn’t fully understand why they were set in place.

So when I left home and went to college, I felt like I was finally free. I had the independence I craved, I was in control of my life, made my own decisions, supported myself. I was “free” to my own standards, and man did I mess up. This was a false sense of freedom. Because I felt like I was in control, I then spent years after that feeling guilty of all of the mistakes I made, after all, there was no one else to blame. But that’s not the life God has for us, feeling guilty and shame for our mistakes. There’s another way, true freedom we have in Christ.

I had always heard the verse from John growing up, talking about “the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” and I just thought that the whole idea was such an oxymoron. So you mean I’m free, but I can’t do what I want? So you mean I’m free, but I have to go to church and memorize scripture? I’m free, but I can’t wear that outfit like she has or go to that movie with those friends? You say I’m free, but why do I feel guilty every time I do something the Bible considers wrong? This doesn’t sound very freeing.

Striving to do like Jesus did and following Gods commandments gives us freedom that seems indescribable, but I’m going to try to explain it from my understanding. I once heard the concept explained as telling your child not to put a butter knife into an electrical socket. They really want to do it, it looks really fun, they’re so curious, but as a parent, you tell them not to do it because it could be really bad. (You could insert a ton of other examples here that’s just the one that has stuck with me for years.) In the same way we tell our kids what to do and not to do, God knows whats best for us. He sets parameters for us to live by FOR OUR OWN GOOD.

But he knows we are going to mess up, just like we know it’s going to take our kids a few times for them to get it right when we’re trying to teach them something. He’s training us, leading us, coaching us and He is not the condemning, angry, punishing God that I had in my mind growing up. He picks us up and loves us, just like we do with our kids when they mess up. He forgives, He doesn’t shame, He gives us chance after chance to get it right.

THAT my friend is freedom.

It has taken me way too long to fully grasp the concept of freedom in Christ. I say fully grasp but I don’t think I’ll ever fully grasp it, it’s a constant challenge to completely understand how amazing this freedom really is. Now that I somewhat get it, I just want to shout it from the roof tops! If only I understood this growing up, it would have saved me so much heartache and confusion. But sometimes that’s not how God works, I had to learn it the hard way and I now appreciate it so much more than I would have years ago.

I’m currently in a women’s Bible study discussing Galatians and the topic of freedom; it has been so encouraging. As a Christian, I’m constantly in battle with myself between what I want to do and what the Spirit wants me to do, and Paul says that’s normal and to be expected. He warns us to not take advantage of this freedom, however, to do whatever we want. But as we learn to obey Him, as we mess up and learn, and then mess up again, and learn again, we grow. Life isn’t considered easier per say, but we appreciate Gods love and mercy so much more because we know we don’t deserve it. We feel free to try again, free from our worry, and free from fear. Our perspective and outlook shifts.

My view of the Bible is completely different than it was 15-20 years ago. Where it used to be a bunch of rules, it’s now a guidebook. Where it used to be a bunch of stories to memorize, it’s now examples of people who are just like me. Where it used to be condemning, it’s now encouraging. Where it used to be a chore, it’s now a delight to read. In an age where we are constantly striving for information, googling everything, seeking truth and answers, I thank God every day for His word. It’s never changing and always applicable. I have trust in Him more now than I ever have because of the freedom I feel and I want every single person in this world to feel that.

Paul says in Galatians 5:1, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

Easter is next week and what a perfect time to celebrate our emancipation from the slavery of our past mistakes. Romans 6:23 says the “wages of our sin is death,” but we are free from the guilt, shame and weight of our sins because He died for us and rose again.

So in all the years I spent in Christian school, I never got it. I never got how amazing God is and why we so desperately need Him. All those years were laying the foundation of my faith, BUT no matter what our background, whether we’ve heard and studied the Bible all of our life or we’ve just heard about Jesus for the first time. He died and rose from the dead for ALL of us, we are ALL His and we ALL get to experience His unconditional love for free.

Random Thoughts


We talk a lot about gardening in this house. As much as we talk about it, you’d think we’d actually know what we are doing when it comes to gardening or at least have one! Not yet, this year we plan to get a garden set up at our new house and I can’t wait. Not only for the good food right outside our door but also all the teaching possibilities for the kids!

The girls used to pick veggies from our garden at our old house and only half would actually make it into the house.

We talk about gardening in different ways because it paints a clear picture. I guess you’d consider us health nuts and we’re trying to teach our kids what good food and not so good food is. To do this we tell them they need to grow a good garden in their tummy in order to stay healthy. Things that grow in a garden, fruit and veggies, plant good seeds in your tummy so those are the things you want to eat a lot of. Things that don’t grow in a garden, your tummy won’t like so eat less of it in order to keep all the plants in your tummy strong and nourished. Who knows what is going on in their mind or what they’re actually picturing when we talk about this. But they ask us all the time if something grows a garden in their tummy and we see that it influences what they eat or don’t eat so I guess it’s working!

We also talk about the Fruit of the Spirit and seeds as Jesus did in the Bible- creating healthy soil in our heart by planting good seeds and not letting bad seeds in (Luke 8:1-15). We tell them when they see something that isn’t good on TV or a character has bad behavior in a book we are reading, it can plant bad seeds in our heart, like weeds in a garden. If we have too many weeds, our plants can die and it can’t bear good fruit like God intended (Matthew 7:17-18). But if we fill our hearts with good seeds, reading our Bible and spending time with God by praying, we will have a healthy garden.

They understand this concept as well and tell us all the time that a certain book or something they see on TV or something they witness has “bad seeds”. Faith just yesterday told me that she didn’t want to read a book we got from the library because there was a kid bullying another kid and she was afraid that it would plant bad seeds in her heart.

My point? We have such great 4 year olds that already have wisdom and discernment DOWN thus our parenting is done!

Not at all, my point is that our children understand this simple concept that we, as adults, do not. My point is that I can so carefully describe this to our kids, that I can remind them to guard their hearts (Proverbs 4:23) but I can’t seem to do the same or I think this doesn’t apply to me because I’m a “grown up”.

Sure I can tell them that chocolate doesn’t grow in their tummy so they can’t have it and then hide in the pantry with a mouth full of chocolate myself. That’s just part of being a mom, if you want to ignore the whole hypocrisy point of course, but in this example, chocolate is medicine so I’m thinking I’m exempt.

But your heart is way more important than a piece of chocolate. Jesus said,

“Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” – Matthew 12:33-37

So if one day I will be judged by what comes out of my mouth, and my mouth speaks what my heart is full of, I better be sure to have a good garden in my heart right? But why do I think that the bad and good seeds don’t apply to me sometimes? Why do I think I can watch a simple guilty pleasure show and it not affect my heart? Why do I think I can engage or be a part of negativity or gossip and it not affect me? I don’t think I’m being extreme by saying we need to be counter culture about this, it’s THAT important. We need to guard our hearts just like we tell our kids to, just like Jesus told us to. What’s so amazing is that God gave us His word to teach us and protect us, no matter what age or stage we’re in. It’s all relevant, always has been and always will be.

Family Life, Random Thoughts

A New Year

I’m a sucker for newness; I love a fresh start, new possibilities and opportunities. I realize that not everyone operates that way, Charlie and Faith, in particular, are much more thoughtful and prefer advance warning when something is new and then ample time to adapt. I have a hard time remembering that sometimes. I’ll have a day when I wake up, rearrange all of the furniture in the house, go some place we’ve never been, and then make dinner using all completely new foods and wonder why they are so uneasy. Meanwhile, June and I are in “what’s next” mode. It’s so great that God made us different because their hesitancy when something is new slows me down when it’s necessary and my fast paced, always looking for the next thing pushes them out of their comfort zone a little. Charles…well, he just goes with the flow no matter what we are doing with very little complaining (unless I’m cooking dinner of course, he saves all of his complaining for then). I just love that child.

I think everyone can appreciate the newness of the New Year and want to set goals for themselves. I recently heard somewhere to not set New Years resolutions to FIX something because you’ll almost always fail- to set a goal, and the habits will follow. I think of things I want to do or goals to work toward all of the time, but if I write it down and publish it for the entire world to read, it has to happen right? So here are a couple of my goals for the coming year and some of the habits associated with it.

1. Goal: Vary my personal knowledge

I haven’t always loved to read, in fact, I absolutely dreaded it in school. I was queen of cliff notes for book reports. I never read for pleasure until college, when I had some health issues so I had to take a semester off and somehow I started picking up books for fun. Since then, I’ve read a portion of a book, probably almost every day and crave it. I have complete ADD when it comes to it (which I need to work on) because I’m constantly reading at least 5-6 books at a time. I can’t get enough of it and want to encourage our kids to love books as well, which I believe starts with the parents reading.

Some of my current reads, not including a couple novels I’m working through

What I’ve found though is that I am what I consume. If I’m reading all about functional medicine, diet and autoimmune diseases, that’s all I’m talking about (sorry guys, been a bit consumed lately about Faith’s diagnosis). If I’m digging into the Bible and reading about living Biblically, I’m more positive and encouraged to live more like Jesus. If I’m reading about living in the woods with limited contact with actual humans, I might start feeling a little depressed and sorry for myself. That’s the power of reading and stories, they really affect you as you invest yourself in them, which is amazing, but also important to be mindful of.

For that reason I want to ensure I’m varying what I’m reading and to do that I want to start purchasing a new book every month for myself, different books, novels, short stories, non fiction -all different subjects and authors, pushing myself out of my reading comfort zone. We go to the library weekly and I’m always putting books I want to read on hold, but there’s something to be said about actually owning a book for yourself. I see the importance for the girls when they get a book they get to keep “forever and ever”. They are in awe that they don’t have to return it to the library and show it to everyone who enters our house.

Personally, there will be times that I’ll come across a book I want to read and the library either doesn’t have it or there’s a long waiting list so I just shrug it off and forget about it. So, if I’m in the habit of purchasing a book every month, I’m able to gift myself a new book when I’m actually interested in it and I get to read it over and over (and write and highlight and do whatever I please) gaining new perspective and knowledge each time I, or anyone in the family, pick it up.

2. Establish a Daily Routine

I’ve read and heard from multiple sources that consistency and routine is essential for young kids. I’d argue that it’s also essential for adults, but this past month has put us in survival/Christmas/birthday/get through the day with as little crying as possible (for everyone) mode. With everything going on, routine has been thrown out for the most part. I guess that’s normal around the holidays, but I’m ready to establish a routine again even though part of me loves the freedom. It will look a little different than in the past since we are home much more than before and less mobile because of Faith’s condition, and I feel like I run a restaurant cooking all day every day trying to battle this disease with diet (more details on that to come). This has been sort of a blessing for us because we needed to slow down as a family, spend more time at home, but with that, we still need structure to our day or the girls will ask if it’s time for lunch at 9:30 am and ask to watch TV all day, and I’ll just keep losing my patience with the constant fits they throw every time I tell them no.

Planning the days and weeks also prevents me from getting to the end of the month thinking “oh whoops, all those homeschool activities I wanted to do this month have to be done this week!” I’m learning to give myself a lot of grace in this area, especially recently, but I still want to be intentional with our time together, even if it just means an established reading time every day.

I have other long term goals that I’d like to work toward but these are my immediate habits I’d like to adapt, I’d love to hear some of yours! Also, are you a sucker for change like me or prefer consistency?

P.S. Please send me your book recommendations!

Random Thoughts


My fingers are still numb from running this morning in the freezing cold, but I couldn’t help taking advantage of all the family in our home to help with the kids and get out for an hour of peace, and now some quiet to share what’s on my heart. I felt all sorts of feelings on my run as I reflected on the past year and where we were a year ago. I took in our sweet new neighborhood, the beautiful fall leaves and the crisp air and felt an overwhelming sense of thankfulness.

I’ll talk a little about our home in another post, but for a little background, we moved to our current home a year ago when I was about 8 months pregnant with Charles. Every single day that goes by Charlie and I say to each other something we are grateful about with our new house.  God was so faithful through the entire process and we are forever thankful for all that God has done for us in this past year, our family expanding, and the people we’ve been able to have in our home, our lives feel so enriched.

Since moving, our house has been slowly filling with furniture and we are forever adding things to our to do list. If we’re being honest, we kind of feel underwater with our to do list and very little time (or energy) to do any of it.

Yesterday, the day before Thanksgiving, Charlie and I were bustling around the house cleaning and doing last minute preparations before our family arrived. We both were a little stressed. Our entire house was littered with toys and dirty laundry. It was 1 pm and I still hadn’t cleaned the kitchen from breakfast. I wasn’t being the nicest mom (or daughter-sorry mom) either. The girls asked me every 3 minutes when their grandparents would be there and every response I gave them was a little less kind than the last. In addition, I was growing bitter cleaning up the house on my own while they simultaneously made it messier.

I’m always telling the girls when they’re grumpy that they need to go upstairs and have an attitude adjustment and come back downstairs when they can be sweet to their family again. So once my inlaws arrived, I did just that…I went upstairs and took a nap. Lord have mercy I needed that nap. God used that time to completely shift my perspective. Something hit me, my kids will not remember what the house looked like, if the turkey was dry or if dinner was “on time”. They will remember the mood, and something I’ve learned is that momma’s mood tends to dictate everyone’s mood. The last thing I want our kids to remember about the holidays is that mom was stressed out, paying no attention to the kids or sitting down to enjoy our family, but that was exactly the track I was on yesterday. Thank you God for stopping that train.

Moms and dads, enjoy days of rest, especially today. Don’t let your to do list or idea of perfection take the joy out of the holiday season. Even if your home is not perfectly decorated, you burned dinner (did that last night…), or your kids are having temper tantrums every hour, what matters is the time spent with loved ones because you never get that time back. Use it wisely, tell them why you’re thankful for them. Or if that’s awkward (I know that can be awkward) write it down for them to read later. Give yourself grace every day and always remember to be grateful for His faithfulness.

I hope you have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Random Thoughts

Twins: When does it get easier?

A few weeks ago, I was shopping ALL BY MYSELF (thank you in laws!) when I saw a mom pushing a double stroller with two infant car seats, a backpack diaper bag and Starbucks in hand and my mind flooded with memories.

I wanted to run to her and say “I have twins too! They’re almost 4! I used to have the same stroller!” And she’d probably meet my eyes with a nice smile and say “great, have a good day.” OR, oooooorrrrrrrrrr she could have responded with the same level excitement and we’d talk back and forth with the usual questions between moms of twins and 5 minutes later we’d know everything about each other and become best friends. Honestly, the latter is more likely because that’s just how twin moms roll. And even moms with 30 year old twins approach me with that level of excitement.  It’s this amazing, community where we’re the only ones who get each other, and I thank God for the moms I met when the girls were babies and are still amazing, encouraging friends today.

Faith & June at about 4 months

I never caught up with the stranger, it would have required me running across the parking lot and that would have been just weird, so we’ll never know the outcome of that conversation; but I imagine that somewhere along the line she’d ask me when does it get easier? I’d have to respond honestly, through bags under my eyes, “I’m still wondering the same thing almost 4 years later.” Granted, my sleep deprivation is not from the twins, but from my super busy, teething 9 month old, nevertheless, the twins exhaust me more than anything I’ve ever experienced. I don’t think anything has gotten easier, things just change along the way.

Instead of worrying about whether or not to wake up the other twin when one wakes up in the middle of the night, I’m just trying to get them to stop jumping around like monkeys and go to sleep (isn’t it always about sleep? Someone please tell me when it stops being all about sleep) after a long day of  talking over each other asking “why” EVERY SINGLE MOMENT ABOUT EVERY SINGLE THING ALL DAY LONG.

Instead of two crying, cranky babies, I’m breaking up yet another argument between them and patching hurt feelings.

Instead of managing two babies into EVERYTHING and saying “no” 4738920789542 times a day, I’m managing different learning styles and teaching two completely opposite kids the same thing at the same time. I’m constantly amazed how God designed these girls with the same DNA to be so different in so many ways.

At the end of a long day recently, my husband and I finally got them into bed, crying (them and me), but they were laying down and looking like they’d soon be sleeping. We looked at each other exhausted and I said “How do we do this? What are we doing wrong?” He responded, “nothing, they’re twins, it’s always going to be harder than anything else.”

James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

I told you guys I just love the book of James…

During that conversation with my husband, we started talking about how having kids has changed us, for better and worse, but it got me thinking about why God gave us twins; why did He think WE are capable of raising them? We often wonder that after having really rough days, but I find comfort in that He has an amazing plan for us and our family. There is nothing easy about raising children, twins or not, I’ve learned that in the past 4 years. But something I’m learning now is that God is using those hard days, those trials, to shape us as parents, individuals, and children of God. Leaning on Him and persevering through trials is imperative if we want to “receive the crown of life”.

So I don’t know when it gets easier, all I know is that every older parent I’ve ever met says it goes by so fast. And now the second time around with our little Charles, I’m seeing that and not taking it for granted. I’m trying to embrace every stage, every question, and every challenge because one day we’ll miss this. And I’m finally realizing that I need to celebrate (yes, celebrate) all the challenges motherhood brings me because it’s really shaping and maturing me for His use.

Random Thoughts

My Instagramed Life

It was 6:06 am and I heard the baby stirring in his crib. My alarm went off at 5:30 so I could drink a cup of coffee, spend time reading my Bible and get a few things done before the baby wakes and ESPECIALLY before Miss June comes downstairs. She wakes up like a rocket every day and I need to prepare myself daily for her zest for life. The baby usually wakes at 6 but I just realized I had done nothing for the past 30 minutes except for drank (inhaled?) my coffee and stared at our fireplace that I’ve been wanting to redo since we moved in 9 months ago.

I quickly opened my Bible to James because I knew I needed to read something before I started the day and I just love the book of James. The entire book is highlighted, written in, underlined, and circled (including that little “box circle” that you do when you underline something but that’s not enough, it needs a circle too…just me?). This is part of what I read:

“But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” James 3: 14-16

Y’all. I had been very disobedient to God, which is ironic because I’ve been preaching obedience to our girls all day, every day. After reading this, I immediately picked up my cell phone, found the Instagram app and deleted it. I put my phone down and walked away from it.

I had an unhealthy relationship with Instagram and I had been denying the truth. Before kids, I deleted Facebook. Like deleted, deleted, not just deactivate or hide it. When I decide something, it’s done and I can be extreme. I have a very sweet husband, by the way, who is oh so patient with me and my rashness. Anyway… I got so fed up with the lack of quality time with people in my life. We all know what everyone’s up to via Facebook so why is it necessary to actually meet up or talk or have a face to face relationship? I wanted to focus on quality over quantity. I think it helped, but then I became a mom and most group communication and events are on Facebook so I’ve since rejoined for that reason keeping limits on my time and use as much as possible.

So then my relationship with Instagram began. I loved the pictures, the single, beautiful snapshots instead of an entire album, which seemed very overwhelming to me. I loved sharing small glimpses of our lives, a perfectly filtered and cropped picture that is not a completely true, accurate look at our entire day to day, maybe just one good moment, but its fun right? I loved following people that I knew, didn’t know, inspired me, encouraged me, just to remind me that there is life and things happening somewhere outside our four walls.

But who was I following? I followed interior designers sharing their portfolios for “inspiration” for my professional career as a decorator. I followed runners who motivated me to go out and run faster and longer than last time. I followed friends of mine, some I see on a regular basis, most I don’t. I followed moms who seem to have it together that encouraged me to do better every day. I followed inspirational people who had a seemingly daily quote that made me think.

But what affect did these posts really have on me? Was it providing me wisdom or just noise? And am I capable of accurately discerning that every time I open Instagram?

  • The interior designers’ pictures just exposed all the dissatisfaction I have with our current (new) house that I don’t have time or unlimited budget to decorate instead of being grateful for this amazing home God provided. Let’s be real, if I need design inspiration for a client or my own home, I’ll have no problem finding it online somewhere, in magazines, in stores, etc.
  • The runners made me feel guilty and mad at myself that I didn’t run that morning or make the time to run as much as I once did. Giving myself zero grace that I have a nursing baby and 3 year old twins that require seemingly all of my attention for 12+ hours a day.
  • The friends and family I followed made me feel like I should also be on an amazing vacation or dress my kids in cute coordinating clothes, or go do that fun outing with my family. They’re real people, not celebrities, so why not me? I envied them instead of enjoying every moment my family and I have together, whatever we’re doing, while covered in sweat, dirt, spit up and could all probably benefit from a glance in the mirror before leaving the house or at least a shower.
  • The moms I followed made me feel terrible that I don’t have it together like they do, have a clean house, perfectly behaved kids, and throw a magazine worthy party for every occasion. Following them made me doubt that I have what it takes to raise these kids and especially homeschool.
  • The motivational speakers and leaders are great, but really, shouldn’t I be looking primarily to the Bible for advice and truths instead of a human being?

Gulp. No, I don’t have the ability to filter the noise, and it was affecting me big time.

So why was I even wasting the very little alone time I have doing this to myself several times a day? What good was it doing to me? It was stealing my joy, and it certainly was not making me content. The Bible is very clear on this topic.

And then, what if I was adding to someone else’s discontent in their own life? I honestly had never thought of this until that day and I feel horrible that I had been that self-centered. What if posting pictures of my kids made a childless woman feel envy? What if pictures of the one corner of my home that is clean and decorated made another mom feel incapable like I do when I look at those pictures? This thought breaks my heart. I’m so sorry if this is you, from the bottom of my heart.

So why am I sharing this struggle with you? Why be so open and honest with the world about this personal issue I’ve had? I’ve asked myself the same thing many times and have gone back and forth about sharing. But I know I’m not the only one who has struggled with this so my hope is that if there is someone out there who can relate to this, please know that you’re not alone and maybe a step back from these platforms is necessary as it has been for me.

I’m not saying social media is terrible, or even Instagram specifically. In fact you’re probably reading this blog via social media (thank you for taking the time, by the way). There are very healthy ways to use it, I’m just being honest saying that maybe it wasn’t healthy for me. Since I became a mom, I’ve been re-evaluating how I spend my time and asking if it’s really adding value to my life or the life of our family. Sure we need downtime and outlets, but what is our life purpose as Christ followers? Being disciples of Christ and expanding the Kingdom of Heaven. And social media was affecting that in a bad way. It tore me down, which I know is not what God wants for us. And what kind of Christ follower, wife, mom, daughter, friend, and sister can I be if I’m not feeling the full peace, joy and contentment that God so freely gives us as His children?

“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” James 3:17

I highly encourage you to read all of James 3 and 4, I can’t say it any better myself. I’m just so happy that God spoke those words to me when I needed them the most.

By the way…. If you need further proof that I most definitely do not have it together as I’m sure I attempted to prove on Instagram at some time… While writing this, I could hear the girls downstairs playing so nicely together. I finished writing and went down to find them having a picnic on the carpet with real cups and real water that I’m positive came from the toilet. The verdict is still out whether the water was ingested. Sadly, it wouldn’t have been the first time. At least I cleaned the toilets this week?

Random Thoughts

Just Sit Down

Y’all, I love a good heart to heart. You know, those conversations that occur in a nice cozy setting, with hot tea, and nothing else to distract you. The kind of conversations where both parties share their heart, get to the bottom of their feelings and you come out of the conversation feeling like your relationship has really grown. That’s not always how it goes, in fact, usually those conversations can’t be planned nor do they occur in that setting. It’s usually in the kitchen in midst of a disagreement, or on the phone while a bunch of other distractions are happening on both ends of the line, or in my case recently, at the top of the stairs.

Let me back up. Me and the kids had just arrived home from a weekend at my parents house while Charlie had to stay back and work. We were all tired from swimming, playing and just the usual exhaustion from a trip with kids. All 3 of the kids were screaming when we unloaded from the car. The baby was hungry, Faith wanted to paint before she even got out of the car and needed to do it immediately, while I was trying to unload everyone and everything before a huge storm came in. Who knew what was going on with June. She walked in the house and fell on the floor in a fit of rage, completely unable to communicate with me.

Our June is a fiery one. We had this impression of her before she was even born just by the way she was inside of me. Our impression was true and has been consistent for her 3 and a half years of life so far. She always keeps us on our toes, always challenges us, always questions, and always has a plan. She’s hard to keep up with; she definitely has a mind of her own and I’m told that this type of personality will change the world one day if we just hold on tight and guide her through these years.

This particular day I was just DONE and didn’t feel like having patience or grace (though I had been listening to a podcast the entire drive home specifically about this and here I was with a perfect opportunity to practice it). So I sent her to her room to calm herself down since she wouldn’t communicate with me and was just thrashing all over the place.

Thirty minutes later, the baby was fed, Faith was painting at the kitchen table, and June was still screaming. She was inching herself out into the hallway to the top of the stairs still throwing a fit, but losing steam and probably forgot why she was crying in the first place. I was still unpacking and determined to finish before figuring out dinner from the 4 things we had in the pantry, but I made myself sit down in the hallway next to her. Instead of asking her “what’s wrong”, which would have just reminded her that she’s mad and prolonged this entire thing, I attempted to “fix” things and asked her what we could do so she could feel happy again. Her broken response through tears was “you can give me a kiss.” She crawled in my lap and I did just that.

Most of the time, that is where our children need us, on the floor in the hallway, when we’re doing a million other things. I had to actively tell myself to JUST SIT DOWN. That’s all they need, for us to be down at their level so they can crawl into our lap and receive unconditional love.

What’s so amazing is that we have the best example of this in God. He is the perfect parent, never too busy for His children, and always waiting for us to crawl in His lap and say, “I’ve tried it my way, and it’s not working, please just love me and make things better.” Isn’t that the definition of grace?

I wish I could say that my children never misbehave or throw fits, and I also wish I could say I never lose my temper when they do. But if that were the case, if everything was perfect and we were in constant control, we’d never be reminded how much we need God’s grace and mercy. He is constantly pruning us, and it’s no fun, but you can’t grow without the pain.

I learned a huge lesson that day to just sit down. My children need to experience grace, learn to extend it to others, and they need to know they can always crawl into the lap of our Heavenly Father. It’s our job as parents to teach them that, but isn’t it funny that in that process we end up learning the same lessons as well?