When You’re Waiting

For almost two years, we lived in the question mark. We always had a question on our lips. Will Zach find a job? Did we make the right decision? How are we going to pay that bill? Will we be able to buy groceries this week? Will we ever get out of the basement? What is our purpose? Have I missed my calling? Every day it was something else to question and worry about. We were lonely, a little bit lost, a lot apprehensive, and just so done. There were days when I was so frustrated, I just yelled all day. I cried. I punched the shower wall a few times. It was exhausting.

Nobody enjoys the waiting room. Especially when you don’t even know what you’re waiting for. Your head and your heart are full of questions and fear snuggles in and makes itself at home. You’re surrounded by voices. Well meaning family members, trusted friends, random strangers, blog posts, podcast preachers, and books. Everyone has something to say. Everyone has an opinion. And yet, there you are in the waiting room, trying to drown out all of the noise, full of questions and absolutely no idea what to do. I’ve been there. And what happens next is exciting.

Soon you’ll move from the question mark to the ellipses. You’ll stop asking “Why?” and “How?” and start asking, “What’s next?”. Excitement will replace your fear. Peace will replace your worry. You may not have all the answers yet, but you’ll start to sense things shifting. Purpose will hang in the air and you’ll know that God is doing something. You won’t know what or when or how, but those questions won’t matter anymore.

There is rest in the ellipses.

God is not in the business of leaving his children hanging. I know it might seem like he’s forgotten you. Abandoned you, even. You’re probably angry, and with good reason. You’re worried about your family, your future, and your finances. Nothing seems to be working out and you’re not sure you can make it another day. But you can and you will. Not just because you have to, but because God is faithful.

For two years, we struggled and we strived and we didn’t get any answers. Zach and I all but walked away from our faith because we just couldn’t understand why God was being so distant and silent. We ran from our callings and blocked out any and all wisdom that came our way because it didn’t fit our idea of what we wanted for our lives. We spent way too much time in the question mark. And then all of a sudden, almost out of nowhere, things became clear. We were wrong. We needed to repent. God wanted to do something and we weren’t letting him. It took a few weeks for us to let it all sink in, but once it did, we chose to step into the ellipses. We chose to believe that God was good and that he had something bigger for us than what we wanted. We chose to sit. And wait. And listen. And rest. No more striving and seeking out our own will.

And that’s when things started happening.

Less than three months after we moved from questioning to resting, we were on our way to Massachusetts. Zach took a job in full time ministry after we swore we would never be in full time ministry again. Funny how things work out. Our season of questioning and waiting is over and what is happening now is bigger and better than I could have ever imagined. Whatever season you’re in, whether you’re full of questions in the waiting room, or you’re resting in the ellipses, I hope you’ll find comfort knowing that God has not forgotten you. Rest in the knowledge that his love for you is irrational and that he only wants good things for his children.

And for goodness sakes, get out of that waiting room and REST.

When You're Waiting

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Hey everyone! This is a little glimpse at the type of content that will be in my upcoming, real, hold in your hands DEVOTIONAL BOOK. I’m so excited about it. If you want to keep up to date with the project, sign up below.

You Are Two

Oh little Emery Lewis. The past year has flown, as the years tend to do. In some ways, you are fulfilling the stereotype of the forgotten middle child. (Don’t worry. As a middle child, I fully understand the struggle.) You weren’t even a year old when we found out Anna was on her way and you have definitely been overshadowed by pregnancy and new baby drama during the past 12 months. But lest anyone should think you would let yourself be pushed into the shadows …

Emery Lewis

You are full of fire and passion and you’ve brought so much joy to our lives. Your laughter is contagious and your jokes are hilarious. (“BOO BOO BUTT!” …  “Peedus!”) Since the day you were born, you have been our comedic relief and a constant joy. Everyone loves to be around you and you love to be around everyone. You’re almost always the center of attention and you eat it up. You’re so much like your daddy in that way. Such a likeable little dude.  You say “hi” to literally everyone. You can soften the hardest of hearts because who can resist saying “hi” back to you?? Everywhere we go, you’re saying “hi”, “nice to meet you”, and introducing your whole family to strangers. “Mama. Daddy. Show-ah. (Jonah) Anna. Emmy. (Emery.)” It’s one of my favorite thing about you. You’re so friendly.

Emery Lewis

We love to watch you interact with the world around you. You never stop moving. You’re always climbing, jumping, talking, running, throwing, spinning, or laughing. The only time you stay still is when you’re asleep and holy cow do you love to sleep. As long as you have your “deek” (blankie) and your binky, you’re perfectly content for hours and hours. But when you’re not content, your anger is fierce. 

emery

Parenting you this year has not been a walk in the park. Your anger is for real. We still haven’t figured out how to discipline you. We’re in the trial and error stage and I sincerely hope we’re not screwing you up for life. You love to test us and test your boundaries and the word “no” to you, is just a challenge. “Stop, Emery!” means “Do it faster before they can stop me!”. When you’re running away and I catch up to you, instead of letting me pick you up, you drop to the ground with your belly on the floor. It’s infuriating and hilarious — which pretty much sums you up. To say that you’re strong willed would be the understatement of the century, but I understand you. We are kindred spirits, you and I. I know that you feel things deeply because I’m the same way. You and I have no problem expressing our emotions and we wear our feelings on our sleeves. I wish I could tell you that you’ll learn to hide those emotions a little, but I still haven’t figured it out.

emery lewis

Emery Lewis

You are hilarious with Jonah and so sweet with Anna. I love watching your relationships with your siblings grow. I know that you love them fiercely. You freely give hugs and are always willing to say “sowwy”. Every morning when you wake up, you say “Whess Show-ah?” and “Shhhh. Anna seeepin.” with a little finger over your lips. I know you’re always going to be the best big brother and the best little brother. You’re perfectly squeezed in the  middle and you’re gonna love it. I promise.

Emery Lewis

We are so thankful for you. With every temper tantrum, every thrown block, every naked dance while you yell “PEEDUS!”, you bring more and more joy into our lives. I cannot imagine what our life would be like without our little firecracker. I hope you always feel safe and loved and free to be exactly who you are.

Happy Birthday, Emery Lewis! You are so, so, loved.

Emery Lewis

 

Last year’s letter : You Are One

Just … Thank You.

I don’t really know what to say. I am absolutely overwhelmed at the amount of support and encouragement that came flooding in last week, after I posted that my blog may be disappearing. My friends were blowing up my phone saying things like, “Are you even reading those comments?? People love your writing!” And I was all, “Shhhhh. This is weird!” Because it really is for me. I had no idea…NO idea that my writing meant so much to so many people. I mean, obviously I had some idea because for whatever reason, you guys just keep coming back for more. I guess I just didn’t realize how invested some of you are and for that, I’m so forever thankful. You will never know the extent of what you mean to me. Feeling all the mushy, sentimental feelings.  Thank you for supporting me and what I love to do.

Here are a couple photos of me dancing with a spoon because you’re awesome and I love you.

So now the question — what happens next?

My hosting debt has been PAID and I even have a little left over to cover the next few months. Right now, Zach and I are reading through the comments and e-mails (so many offers to help!!) and trying to figure out what our next step is. I know I need to move hosts and I know I need to figure out a long term plan to bring in some kind of an income to keep this blog going.

I’ve been getting a lot of the same questions, so I’ll answer them here.

Why can’t you hire someone to run ads for you? Can’t you use a third party network? 

I could hire someone. I hadn’t even thought of doing that, but I’m looking into it now.  As far as third party networks go, I’ve had a bad experience using them. I wasn’t able to control the ads on my sidebar and got a few upset e-mails from people telling me they were seeing naked ladies on my side bar. Ha. I’m looking at a few different networks now, but so far nothing is looking too promising.

We don’t mind if you do sponsored posts! We understand that you need to make money! 

THANK YOU. It’s so nice to know that some (maybe most?) of you get that bloggers can’t just write for free all the time. It costs money to keep things up and it takes time away from our families. I’ve received quite a few complaints over the years about my “sales-y” posts, and I hate to think that anyone has ever thought I was taking advantage of your dedication to my family. But that’s not why I’m not doing sponsored posts anymore. It was just taking too much time away from my kids and away from writing the types of posts that everyone is here for. I only have a certain amount of time each week to dedicate to my blog and to writing and I don’t want to use that precious time to write about popsicles or shoes or whatever else comes my way. It’s just not something I want to do anymore. I want to further my career as a writer not a blogger, and sponsored posts don’t help me in the long run, so they’re really not worth it for me anymore.  (I wrote more about that here.)

Can’t you crowd fund your costs for the year? 

I’ve lost count of how many of you have commented, e-mailed, and messaged me this question. I have honestly never even considered it. I’m really weird about asking people for things and it killed me to even include my paypal address in my last post, so the idea that I could crowd fund this thing has never even crossed my mind. But this is actually a really genius idea. If I can crowd fund my costs for the year, plus a little extra to make my writing time worth it financially, I could keep this blog going indefinitely. Zach and I are looking at how to actually do that and trying to decide if that’s the best solution. Right now, we’re thinking of doing something similar to what Coffee + Crumbs does. I’d love to hear your thoughts on that.

Here’s what would be an ideal solution for me. I would love it if my book sales alone could carry the costs of running a high traffic blog. I want to focus my writing to my book(s) and write a weekly essay on the blog to keep you all interested in what I have to say. ;) I want to make the site mainly essays on motherhood, marriage, and faith, and take out all the extra. Everything else (life updates, family trips, hilarious things my kids say, you know–the day to day stuff) will be on my instagram. I know a lot of you don’t have instagram, but you can still follow and comment and like photos from any web browser.

So basically this is just a brain stormy post to let you know that I didn’t take your money and run. I’m here behind the scenes trying to figure out where to go from here. I’m excited about this next phase. I feel like I’m at a crossroads and the decisions I’m making now are important and need to be handled with care. So sit tight and get excited!! What happens next is going to be good.

If you’re just tuning in to my current life dilemma, you can read all about it here. And if you’d like to donate to help me cover the costs of running this blog until I figure out my next move, my paypal address is kristen(dot)lavalley(at)gmail.com. THANK YOU. 

When at Home May Be Coming To An End

Update : You guys are so, so, so, stinking AMAZING. You came through in ways I never could have imagined and I was able to save my site from shutting down HOURS before it was scheduled to be suspended. I still don’t know what my next step is, but for now, When at Home is alive and things will continue as normal for a while. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. 

I’ve been blogging at When at Home for three years now. It’s been an amazing and incredible journey and I wouldn’t change a second of it. Through my writing and through all of your support, I’ve been able to support my family through some difficult job transitions and even pay off some medical bills. HOWEVER.

I don’t make money off of my site anymore. It was a tough decision I made at the beginning of this year because the monetization of my site was degrading the quality of my writing and taking precious time away from my family. I know how to make money from a blog. I’ve been really successful at it, but it doesn’t feel right anymore, so I don’t accept sponsored posts and the only money I make is from my affiliates — which just barely covers my hosting fees. (You can read about my decision to stop monetizing here.)

The amount of traffic I get on here sometimes is insane. In one week, I had almost two million views. What most people don’t know is that when you get a high amount of traffic, your site either stops working or you get charged bandwidth overage fees. I’m with a hosting company that doesn’t let my site slow down or shut down (GLORY), but it charges for the extra bandwidth use. That’s happened several times in the last year, but never to this extent. We’re talking $300 and climbing. That’s $300 that we simply do not have anymore. Last year, I could’ve swung that. This year, we’re on a pastor’s budget and we just don’t have it. Not even a hint of it and the hosting company is not willing to set up a payment plan to pay off my debt. I have about two weeks to pay it off or this site will be gone for good.

So I’m at a crossroads, my friends. I can no longer afford to write for free, because this Kristen going viral thing happens way too often. I know that sounds tacky and arrogant, but it’s just the truth. So I either start taking sponsored posts again (which I don’t feel right about) or I fill up my sidebars with ads (which is time consuming and stressful) or I walk away and hope that you’ll sign up for my e-mails and buy the books that I’ll be writing since I won’t have a blog anymore. If you have any other ideas, please let me know, because I’m all out. I can also move to a different hosting plan, but still face the possibility of overage charges that we can’t afford unless I start monetizing again.

Before you ask — my issue with monetizing is purely personal. For me, time with my babies is more important than time with my blog and monetizing the way that I would need to requires a lot of time away from them. This blog is not my career. Not yet. Maybe it will be again soon, but I haven’t made that decision yet. For right now, I’ve decided to just be mom and blog on the side. But now I realize that I just can’t afford to do that right now.

So here’s what all this means, I guess. In the next two weeks, you may find that this site is totally gone. I hope that doesn’t happen, but it’s a possibility. In fact, I’m pretty sure they’re going to suspend my account today if I don’t pay up. So I need to post this quickly. If the site does stay up, that will mean that we moved hosting which will mean that my blog will not be able to handle high amounts of traffic which means I probably won’t be putting my heartfelt essays on here anymore. Those are the ones that tend to go viral and cost me a lot of dollars. I’ll start compiling those into a book and will advertise sales on instagram and through my newsletters.

I’m really sad and stressed out about all of this. As my friend Christie said, “You’re in a pickle, Kristen.” I’ll keep you guys updated on what happens, but make sure you’re following on facebook, instagram, or e-mail, as this site might just cease to exist soon. BLAH.

I’m going to lean in to this community a little bit and ask that if you can spare it, it would mean the world to me if you could throw a couple of dollars into my paypal account to help pay off these outrageous fees. My pay-pal e-mail is : kristen.lavalley(at)gmail(dot)com. Please let me know if there’s anything I can do for you in return. Another thing you can do to help is spread the word about my books – Blog Awesome (ironically – all about how to start, grow, and monetize your blog) and Hyper & Happy (a toddler activities ebook).

And so that’s where I’m at. I 100% believe that not monetizing my site was the best decision for my family. I love writing and I’ll be so sad to see this outlet go, but I just don’t know how to afford it anymore without compromising the decisions we’ve made as a family. This is an extremely awkward and uncomfortable post for me to write, so please be nice!

That is all. I love you all so, so, much and I hope this situation resolves itself and that I’ll be embarrassed that I ever had to write this post in the first place.

add your e-mail here so we don’t lose touch should the worst case scenario happen :

Self Deprecation is For Mothers.

Every time I word vomit a post that goes viral overnight, I over analyze it. WHY did this go viral? Why did it connect to so many people? Why are so many moms writing me saying, “It’s like you read my mind!” or “I’m balling my eyes out right now!” When I wrote “Did I Love You Enough Today?“, I had literally just thought the words when I started typing. I posted this photo on instagram, but couldn’t fit all I wanted to say in a little instagram caption so I poured the words over a blog post and hit publish before 30 minutes had passed. By midnight (about three hours after posting) it had 10,000 views. I was like, “Zach! I’m not the only one that questions myself at the end of the day! We all do it!”

But why? Why are we so hard on ourselves, mamas??

Over the weekend, Anna was in the ER. Nothing serious, but we don’t have a pediatrician yet and our insurance hadn’t gone through yet so finding a doctor to see us was almost impossible. But baby girl couldn’t breathe through her nose and when babies can’t breathe through their nose, they can’t eat and when babies can’t eat ALL HELL IS IN THE HOUSE. On Friday night, I did not sleep. She literally screamed all night long. When the sun came up on Saturday and she was still screaming, we decided that an ER visit was in her best interest. (Not our bank account’s interest, that’s for dang sure.)  So I spent the morning in the hospital with her getting her nose suctioned and her chest checked out. When I got home, I crashed hard on the bed and Anna and I slept the day away. The boys woke us up a few times and I snapped at Zach so hard and so often that he decided to take the boys to his mom’s house so I could get some rest. When he came in the room to tell me he was leaving, my first thought was, “You’re a terrible mom.” And then the thoughts of how awful I am just kept coming until I cried myself back to sleep.

When I woke up a few hours later and remembered that little self deprecating sob fest I got angry. SCREW THAT. I’m an awesome mom. I stayed up all night bouncing and nursing and comforting a screaming child. I drove her to the hospital at the crack of dawn knowing that her condition wasn’t that serious and that the hospital visit would cost us several hundred dollars just to walk in the door, but I did it anyway because I was at the end of my rope and felt so awful for her. I may not get things right 100% of the time every day, but I’m a good mom. My kids are loved and they know it.

Self deprecation is for moms

But that’s not enough for us, is it, moms? It’s not enough to know that our kids know they are loved. It’s not enough that they’re well fed, well dressed, clean, and content. We want to be better and do better. That’s not a bad thing. What’s bad is that in order to be better and do better we tear ourselves down. It’s so unnecessary. Our parents didn’t do that. My mom tells me that she never felt the pressure to get down on the floor and play with us the way Zach and I play with the kids. She did get down on the floor occasionally, but when she didn’t, there was no terrible mom mantra going off in her head.

I have a lot of thoughts on why we are the way we are as millennial parents, but I won’t get into that in this post. But ladies, we have to STOP. We can’t go through our entire motherhood berating ourselves about it. Do the best you can and when you fail, shake it off and try again the next day. Stop comparing your motherhood to someone else’s. Stop letting inspiring blog posts about the beauty of motherhood make you feel like a jerk for not enjoying it.

When I start hearing the “You’re a terrible mom” voices, I’m trying to make it a habit to stop what I’m doing and say, “That’s a lie.” Something about calling it what it is makes it hurt less. I’ve also been a lot more open with Zach about what I need from him to help me get through the day without feeling like a total failure. I told him I needed more encouragement. I know that sounds super needy and whiny and I’ve honestly never been that person that’s like, “Tell me I’m doing a good job!!” I’ve always been super independent and self sufficient and one of those “I don’t need no man!” types. But I’m not anymore and that’s ok. I need someone who sees me at my worst and sees me at my best and can still say with confidence that I’m doing a good job. I need him to confirm what I know deep down but am too scared to admit. That I’m awesome. That I’m a good mom. That I was made to do this. That no one can raise these babies better than I can. It’s easy for me to say that now, but when I have one of those days where I’m crying in the broom closet, I need someone to remind me.

So let’s start changing things, eh? Call out the lies for what they are and shake off the self deprecation. You’re a good mom! Don’t believe anything less.