Does God Hate Mothers?

“God hates mothers.”

Those are the words I texted my husband during a particularly difficult day. Honestly, I can’t even remember what was going on and why I texted him that, but the shock of seeing those words written out has stayed with me. For a second, I really believed it. That day was so difficult, I truly believed I was being punished for something. Like maybe God was trying to teach me a lesson. I begged desperately for my children and he gave them to me and look at the awful job I’m doing with them. He must be punishing me for betraying His generosity and kindness.

Cause God works like that.

Except no he doesn’t.

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My kids are the greatest gift I’ve ever received, so why would I think God would use them against me? As I write it out, I know it’s crazy talk, but in the moment, I truly believe that God is disappointed in me and that he probably regrets entrusting these precious little people to my care. For a second, I convince myself that God hates mothers. But that’s just not true. God’s got mad love for mamas.

When it’s only 10 in the morning and you’re already feeling DONE for the day, he gives you strength and somehow you make it. 

When the baby is screaming all day long but then FINALLY, she falls asleep, he gives you rest.

When your kid is being defiant and obstinate, but then says something so ridiculous that all you can do is laugh, he gives you joy.

When you’ve failed them a hundred times before bedtime, but your little one still gives you a hug and a kiss and says “I love you, mama.”, he gives you grace.

When in the midst of all the chaos and you’re feeling lousy and like you’ll never measure up, you look at your kids’ faces and realize this is the most beautiful chaos you’ve ever seen, he gives you peace.

I know sometimes it doesn’t feel like God is with you or that he cares about you or that he even takes two seconds to look at your motherhood. When you’re in the middle of the longest night of your life, you might find yourself truly questioning his goodness and his presence, maybe even his existence. But trust me when I say that God is for mothers. Even when it feels like you’re completely alone. Even when you feel like he’s abandoned you or that he’s punishing you or that he’s disappointed you. He is for you. Every hour. Every minute. Every second. Even when you fail. Especially when you fail. Believe it. Embrace it. Lean on his grace and depend on his strength.

You’re doing great, mama.

Where We Sleep (Basement Dwelling Part 2)

A few months ago, I told you guys I was redoing the entire basement in prep for Anna. It was exhausting and so much work, but we finished about 8 weeks before she was born. I just haven’t taken the time to put all the pictures together and make a blog post about it until now. But it’s DONE. We’re making this space work for us and I’m excited to show you what we’ve done. (If you’re new here, check out this post to see what our living space looked like before.)

So, if you remember, we used to all sleep in the one bedroom, but with Anna on the way, we decided to give the room to the boys and move our bed out into the living room. It has been so nice to not be sleeping in the same room as those two and I just wish we’d done it sooner. The boys sleep so much better and so do we. Here’s what we did with the boys’ room.

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I realize it’s kind of odd to have a couch in a kids room but we needed to move it out of the living room to make room for our bed. We thought about moving it to our storage unit, but it’s so heavy and bulky and we didn’t want to have to move it back when we move out in a few months so it’s gonna hang out in there for a while longer. Plus it makes for a cozy reading spot. I also feel like I need to acknowledge the internet connection thing over near Jonah’s bed. There’s nothing we can do about that so we’ve just made it clear that they are not to touch it ever and so far we haven’t had any issues. There was a picture frame covering the chord, but I’m more afraid of that falling on Jonah’s head than I am of a chord and plug. So. Yes. Moving on …

resized-0132I’m pretty proud of our toy space. We’ve been in purging all the toys mode lately and can almost fit all of their toys in this shelf unit from target. Since this photo was taken, we’ve moved the books off the shelves and into bins that sit on top of their dresser, and moved more toys from their other toy bin onto those shelves. The bins are somewhat organized. Blue is for Ninja Turtle stuff, red is for Toy Story stuff, yellow is for random toys that can’t be categorized. They do a pretty good job of keeping the right toys in the bins.

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This is the only dresser in the room and let me assure you, it doesn’t stay this clean. Actually, this is the last time it’s looked so good. It’s currently covered in diapers, clean clothes, dirty pajamas, and rogue legos. But it looked nice once. The filing cabinet is full of my mom’s teaching things and weighs about a thousand pounds. Zach and I have both tried to climb on it to make it tip over but it won’t budge. Just in case you were worried about the kids pulling it down and crushing themselves. It’s not possible.

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Toy corner number two on the right. There’s no rhyme and reason to that thing. Most of those toys are in their own bins on the other shelf now, but we keep this in the room for those quick cleanups when we just want to get everything off the floor.

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And that sums up the boys room. Not much to it. The only thing not shown here is their closet which is full of clothes (obviously), a bag of costumes for dress up and a shelf full of “school” stuff : puzzles, crayons, glue, coloring books, tracing books, etc. Now on to where Zach and I sleep.

Our “bedroom” is in the corner of the living room area which is really just the main part of the basement. We hung up a sheet to partition it off from the rest of the room. It doesn’t give us ultimate privacy, but it makes it less awkward when we have friends over and feels like our own space. It’s not much, but it works for us and we’re content in this little corner.

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Anna’s bassinet is really the best part about our space. I have no idea how we could’ve made this work without it. Both of the boys spent their baby days sleeping in a pack ‘n play, but there’s no way it would’ve fit in this small of a space. No way. It would’ve too been bulky and frustrating.

Bassinet, Halo Bassinet review, Halo swivel sweeper review,

This bassinet, the Halo Bassinet Swivel Sleeper, spins 360, pushes directly back, away from the bed, and the front side (the one facing the bed) pushes down to make it easier to access the baby. It’s perfect for small space living. I’m constantly pushing it in different directions throughout the day to clean, get clothes from Anna’s drawers, reach for something under the bed, take a nap, whatever. It’s especially useful at night when I need to get out of bed to go to the bathroom or change her diaper. If it didn’t swivel, I’d be crawling to the end of the bed to get out and who wants to do that in the middle of the night? I wouldn’t be able to survive in this room without it. I really wouldn’t.

Halo bassinet, halo bassinet review, halo bassinet swivel sweeper review,

So one hundred thousand amazing points to Halo for creating such a brilliant piece of baby gear. You can purchase it at Babies ‘R Us or directly from the Halo website. The one I have is the lower priced one, but if you want to splurge, they also have a version that comes with a nifty little box that plays music and vibrates the whole bassinet.

Anyhoo. This is how we’re surviving the basement life. It’s going to be over soon–by the end of the summer–and I can’t wait to tell you guys about THAT, but not yet. (secrecy. vagueness. sorry!) In the meantime, we’re content down here. A year ago, you wouldn’t have been able to convince me that we’d be happy living in the bottom of my parents’ house with three young kids, but it works and we can’t imagine living in anything bigger. We’ve downsized so much and the lack of clutter and things is so liberating.

Hopefully this answers some of the questions I’ve been getting lately about how we’re making it work down here,  but feel free to ask away if you have a question.

 

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I’d Say Yes Again

Today marks 8 years since Zach asked me to be his wife. Well. His exact words were, “Can I keep you?” (a la Devon Sawa in Casper. Be still my 90’s child’s heart). And also I guess I never technically said yes. Just a lot of jumping and squealing and looking at my ring, but I think it’s implied that “yes” was my answer. When I think about it now it all seems so insane.  We’d only known each other for a little over a year and got engaged the week of our one year anniversary. We were twenty years old, juniors in Bible College, and full of blind optimism and new relationship high. Our parents must have been freaking out. So young. So risky. We took a major gamble on each other. What could we have possibly known about love and relationships at 20 years old? Not much. But I’d do it all over again in a heart beat.

In a lot of ways, we really lucked out. Our marriage could have been a disaster. There was no way we could’ve known what we’d face as a couple and how the other would deal with life. I didn’t know what Zach would be like as a youth pastor, as a business owner, as a husband, as a father, as a son-in-law, as a brother-in-law, and he had no clue what I’d be like either. I had no idea what a selfless, consistent, and honorable man he would turn out to be. We took such a huge risk when we sprinted to the altar, but it’s the best risk I’ve ever taken and I’d think he’d say the same. (He’d better, anyway.)

When I said yes 8 years ago, I wasn’t just saying yes to a wedding. I said yes to a lifetime of saying yes. A lifetime of choosing him over and over and over again. I say an easy “yes” during the good times and struggle, but still choke out a solid “yes” during the bad. There’s no escape clause, no “I’ll choose you unless you do XYZ”, there’s only yes. Forever. I don’t think I fully grasped that 8 years ago in that muggy room full of sweaty college students, but I’m so glad I said yes anyway.

Here’s to a lifetime of “yes”.

This is OK.

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You want to know how to make time go really really fast? Have a baby. Works every time. I finally understand what people mean when they say, “Don’t blink! It goes by so fast!” It’s not that time actually passes more quickly than usual, it’s that you’re in such a fog. I have a feeling that one day, when the kids are grown, the fog is going to lift and Zach and I are going to look at each other and say, “WHAT JUST HAPPENED.” This girl’s arrival has brought on the fog like none other.

The other day I told Zach I feel like a broken record on social media lately. Every time I post something it’s basically the same thing: “Newborns are crazy. I’m tired. Motherhood is hard. I can’t do this. Maybe I can. No I can’t.” Rinse||Repeat.  Zach shrugged and said, “Well. That’s where you’re at right now.” And that’s true. But things are starting to get better. We’re getting into a groove over here and I think I might actually be able to do this.

I’ve discovered the secret to getting through this adding another human to your family thing. It’s as simple as making a list of things that are ok and not ok. When you start to feel overwhelmed and like you’re the worst mom ever, go to the list. Some of the things on my “this is ok” list : dirty laundry, unfolded laundry, unmade beds, tv as a babysitter, napping in the middle of the day, eating out, and the occasional shower cry. On my “not ok” list : saying negative things about myself, ignoring the boys to “get stuff done”, criticizing myself — especially my body, crying in the shower every day, not taking a shower, snapping at Zach simply because he’s there, and comparing myself to other moms. When things on my “not ok” list start happening, it’s usually because something on my “this is ok” list has moved into my “not ok” list and my emotional/mental state is suffering because of it. So I take a deep breath, assess my surroundings, and say “This is ok. This mess is ok.”

I’m not supermom. I can’t do all the things and I shouldn’t try. The newborn stage is literally the shortest season of childhood and I don’t need to do much else other than feed that baby and play with the boys. The messes will always be there and that’s ok. I’m not able to cook three meals a day and that’s ok. The boys default to Zach right now and that’s ok. I have fat in places I’ve never had fat before and that’s ok. I weigh more than I’ve ever weighed before and that’s ok. I haven’t been alone for more than 10 minutes since Anna was born and that’s ok. This is ok.

If you’re in any stage of motherhood where you feel like you’re drowning (maybe that’s every stage?), try and take a deep breath and just say, “This is ok.” No one is giving out trophies for accomplishing everything every day. I mean…they definitely SHOULD BE doing that, whoever those people are that would hand out such a thing, but they don’t and you won’t be getting one. Chances are, your husband won’t even see everything that you’re doing. He’ll just see the mess of a wife that trying to do too much makes you. Your kids will only get the version of you that is stressed out and overwhelmed because you’re prioritizing the things that make you stressed out and overwhelmed. So do what you need to do to get by and to the rest, just say, “It’s ok.”

Because it is.

 

 

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When It’s Work {Guest Post}

Hey everyone! I’m still knee-deep in newborn chaos, but I’m thrilled to share my space with my beautiful friend, Courtney. I know you’ll love what she has to stay, so go ahead and follow her blog, One Lyric, on Facebook. Have a great weekend, my friends!
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I see this woman. Man alive she is beautiful. Life is oozing from her, laughter effortlessly rising from her belly creating lovely lines around her eyes. She is full of career satisfaction, rich with travel experiences, plump and full from friendships and whole from love. She is known. She is seen. She is heard. She is loved.

I talk to her. Because I miss her. “Oh the places you will go” I read to her children, secretly tucking the promise away to give her hope.  The places we had dreamed about, the grand adventure that she knew life would be. I tell her, “we will still go, there is still time.”

When It's Work

And when the thought of her slips away I panic, frantically telling my soul to search for her. Hoping she can ground me. Hoping she will anchor me while I wipe feces off her son’s feet. His own. I pray she will hold me steady through another day of meeting the needs of three pairs of baby blue eyes. I see how carefree she is and I wonder if she has known the exhaustion that holds onto my bones, the miracle that bone and ligament still move together to see me through a day. I ask her “how did we get here?” sometimes wanting to apologize for the stalling of our grand adventure.  To apologize for the callousing of her hands and the stretching of her body, her mind, her patience. So much stretching.

I feel her tell me “I will wait. We will wait.”

I have no idea what we are waiting for.

Waiting for all of the blue eyes to be in school. Waiting until only one is in diapers. Waiting until they can reach the cups, pour the juice, run the bath water. Waiting for the exhaustion to lift, the anxiety to pass, the jeans to fit, the laundry to be caught up, the bills to be paid. Waiting for their father to return home from work. Waiting for life to be easier.

Always waiting.

I think about the road that leads to her. Smile at the grandeur of it all.

But when I am still, when quiet has found it’s way into my mind, I know she may have to wait for me forever. And I smile at the grandeur of my life now. The hard, messy, chaotic, robust, fulfilling grandeur of motherhood.

In the still I know she only anchors me on the hard days, when I want to flee. Only on the hard days I miss her.

The good days are held together with laughs from little bellies and discoveries of wonder in an afternoon walk. By small hands finding my hands in uncertainty, in playfulness, in security. Held together by fullness from the love of my husband. The good days I know I am seen, and heard, and loved.

I know I am whole.

And somehow in the still I know lines are forming around my eyes from laughter. I know the work I am doing is important. That every step, every giving of myself to another day of motherhood, every sigh of frustration and sting of panic is not felt or given in vain. I know I am teaching small hands that reach for me to become big hands that provide for their families and cradle newborn faces and hold frantic wives. I know I am their first true love. I know I am teaching them how to love. I know they will leave me one day.

I know this is work. Hearty, sacrificial, satisfying work. Work that is so important.

I know I have to let that beautiful, rested woman wait. This is the road I am on. The path is well-traveled, by strong women before me, who stand at the end full and plump with life experiences and stories of old’ and they tell me “you will miss this.” They anchor me, and urge me on. I can see the truth in their eyes, the combustion of truth and love on their faces when talking of their children. I believe them.

I wonder if I will stand at the end of this road one day, welcoming the weary, tested mother who survived these young years, with cheers for her endurance and hope for her future. I want her to see the truth in my face. That she will miss this. That the work she is doing is important.

Until then, the grandeur of this adventure is still unfolding. Strength for today. One foot in front of the other. Back to work.

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Misener 10.20 (59)

Courtney is the mother of three boys, the wife of a music man, and a professional napper. When free time miraculous appears she can be found reading, dancing and most certainty sharpening up on her white girl rapping skills.

She talks with Jesus often, and writes about their conversations, good music, good laughs, long days with her baby boys and post-postpartum depression at www.onelyric.org.

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