People cope with their hard times in all sorts of different ways. The way I deal with mine I’m sure looks a lot different than the way you deal with yours. There’s no one right way to deal with them. You just keep pushing and moving forward. I’ve never really been comfortable sharing my personal life but I feel like I have a story to tell. Let me start by telling you how hard life can be.
Hard is when your mom passes away from a tragic accident and you’re only 15.
Hard is seeing your family fall apart because of this loss.
Hard is moving forward in life when all you want is one more hug from her.
Hard is living without my mom.
Hard is receiving a special needs diagnosis when you thought everything was okay.
Hard is watching your husband cry because of the unknowns.
Hard is watching your baby be flown off to another hospital, hoping he will still be alive by the time you get there.
Hard is being taken back to the ICU and looking at your child’s chest with so many tubes and wires hooked to him and feeling so helpless.
Hard is wanting to have another baby but being hesitant because of the “what if’s”.
Hard is moving forward when all you want is a breather.
Through all of these hard times there has also been so much beauty. My grandparents are my saviors, they’ve been by my side through everything. My oldest sister graduated from graduate school this year and my middle sister runs her own successful boutique. I’ve recently rekindled a relationship with my brother. I have an incredible and supportive husband who always rescues me. My mother and father in-law love me like their own and my two babies are even better than I could have imagined.
Hard times don’t have to control you, instead they have the potential to shape you. I would be a completely different person and have a completely different life if I had let these hard times control me. I am so grateful for the people in my life that helped me move forward. I have hope in spite of the hard times. Like I said in the beginning – I didn’t stop pushing through and moving forward. You can too.
Oh, I have got to tell you guys- there have been so many ups and downs in this journey. I don’t even know where to start. It was about a year ago that we began taking our health more seriously and we really made so much progress.
I’m not going to pull any punches here, instead I’m going to state the obvious and say that this is hard. Like really hard.
Our lives got incredibly busy over the summer and I found that I was compromising probably more than I should have.
We also traveled more than we usually do, and, in the spring, we found ourselves in San Antonio Texas visiting our son. I don’t know about you but one of my favorite things to do while traveling is to eat. I absolutely love to try different restaurants and this short vacation was no different. Let me tell you- we had some of the very best Mexican food we have ever had on this trip.
Actually, we had it twice and in large quantities.
I rolled myself out of that place.
My mouth is salivating just thinking about it.
Then, as summer began, we went on a cruise to celebrate our 25th (closer to the 26th) anniversary. We had planned this trip with friends and were looking forward to just relaxing, celebrating, and eating… and eating… and eating.
Oh, that cruise food.
I tried to eat in moderation on that trip.
I really tried, but by the third day I had completely thrown moderation out the window and I was fully trying all the food.
And I do mean ALL.THE.FOOD.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again- when this girl does something, she does it right. Good and bad.
We got back from that big old boat and felt like big old boats ourselves.
We did manage to get back on track when we disembarked but oh it was so much harder. My husband kept going to the kitchen and threatening bad reviews on yelp. (He is seriously funny and usually in trouble…)
Thankfully we quickly got back on track (for the most part) and continued to maintain our progress.
I got an opportunity to visit my son again- this time we would meet in Dallas TX.
Guys, there is only so much resolve that I have and mine was melting away by the minute.
Texas is known for its BBQ and we found ourselves experiencing not only mouth-watering barbecue, but great little unique restaurants, some of the most amazing food trucks and family’s home cooking that fit every single bill.
My pants however did not fit anymore. (Okay- so they still fit, but not comfortably)
I guess the best part of this journey is that it doesn’t end. When I make the best choices, (tonight for example while I am writing this- I’m craving sweets and junk food, but instead I ate some amazing mango chicken and veggies) I see progress in myself.
And when I make the not so good choices… well the truth is that doesn’t mean that I’ve failed or that I’m not going to make the goals I’ve set.
Our minds tell us all sorts of things and when I got on the scale recently, I realized that all those months of good healthy decisions were not lost. Some of the pounds may have come back, but many of them haven’t. That means that where I’m starting today is much farther along than when we began this journey many months ago.
And what has happened inside of me is so different than where I was in my yo yo diet, you are not good enough, you will never succeed years.
Now, the scale is an object, but I am not. The scale is just a number, my pants are just a size, and my heart is no longer tied to any of them.
Do I get discouraged? Yep, but I also get motivated and hopeful. I get to see where I’ve been and where I’m going.
I get to try and fail and try and win. I get to pick myself up and next year as I write an update to this- I’ll probably have a few more wins and a few more losses to report but all of it will be a story of this amazing life that I’ve been gifted with.
I have been so blessed to have been able to visit my son and celebrate our anniversary in such an amazing way this year. When I put all of that into perspective, I wouldn’t change a thing. All those memories were worth a few numbers on the scale.
Soooooo completely worth it.
You are worth it too.
Start writing your story today. Quit worrying about perfection and just appreciate the progress.
You will win some and you will lose some but, in the end, it really is the journey that matters most. Take the leap today and enjoy the trip.
Do you ever browse social media only to be met by a myriad of posts portraying perfectly baked cookies, clean houses, and smiling families only to look around at your own burned cookies, floors that needed mopped ages ago and kids wrestling in the living room because someone has the remote and someone else wants it and you question every bit of your worth?
Listen, I want you to know right now that sometimes my house only appears clean because I angled the camera just right.
And my cookies usually turn out pretty good but I admit that at some point I burn a pan every single time I bake. It’s almost laughable.
The truth is- when I get on social media I can always find a reason to beat myself up as a mom, friend, wife…
Just looking at all the posts of holiday decorations and cookie platters I start to feel a bit unworthy of the season. I had good intentions too but the Christmas tree skirt is missing this year and so is the angel for the top so my tree is slightly naked. I’ve decided to just concentrate on the middle and not look at the rest.
The truth is comparison always leads to dwindling self esteem and negative self worth.
I’m not a good mom because I didn’t bake cookies with my kids and I didn’t build a snowman when we had the latest storm like all the other moms on social media did.
There are a lot of I didn’ts in my life…
If I’m being totally honest sometimes I’m not a good mom at all. Some days I really do stink at this job.
The reality is we all do. We all wake up and fail miserably. We all forget to put food in our kindergartners lunch pail, we forget the costume for the Halloween parade, we forget… but we don’t give up. That’s what makes us great. It’s not that we keep up with the neighbors or that we get on social media and remind ourselves of all that we “should” be doing to be awesome.
Instead it’s those little sleeping faces that we kiss on the cheek after a hard day and the smiles they give us when they wake up in the morning. It’s the giggling about the dinner that didn’t turn out and the pizza that was ordered instead.
It’s the mess that makes the memories.
This weekend my son was in the hospital. Apparently he, like his brothers before him, can’t stand the sight of blood. We learned this the hard way when he cut his finger at school and then took a header onto the hard floor.
This lovely minute of time turned into an overnight hospital stay and a long road of recovery for this kid. Concussions are no joke.
He apologized over and over to me. He knew that I had other plans this weekend and a hospital stay was not one of them. But as we talked I told him this- I don’t remember much about the past few weekends and yes I would never choose for him to be hurt, but this weekend, as we lay in that dark hospital room will be one we talk about for years. We will harass him, we will pick on him, we will remember this.
And he will remember that I slept on a really horrible cold couch next to him all night. He will remember that his dad ran to the store for comfy clothes for him to wear, stayed late with us and returned early because he couldn’t stand to be away. We will remember that dad complained about what a rough night it was because the dog kept him up and how we must have had a much better night than him and how he may need us to rub his feet… (insert laughter and a HUGE NO here)
Being a good mom has nothing to do with cookies, crafts, vacations, or smiley family pictures. Being a good mom has everything to do with just being there. That’s it. There isn’t a formula, there isn’t a list that has to be completed. It’s just doing your best and loving them through it all.
Stop comparing yourself, stop failing because you don’t look like the perfect facebook family.
Instead, burn the cookies, mess up the crafts and learn to laugh. Be the mom that smiles not the mom that poses for perfect pictures.
Comparison is a thief of our joy.
God didn’t make a mistake, He knew what he was doing when he chose you to be their mom. So, love them well, pray for them always and enjoy life. Cookies will burn, kids will misbehave, and life will go on.
Just choose to angle your camera to see the good in it all.
If you read my blog about my son leaving for boot camp then you know this mommas heart has held so many emotions this month that it is about to burst. Stress is a major enemy in any healthy lifestyle change and although I’m glad to say that we stuck with our healthy eating plan, I struggled big time.
Food has always been a huge comfort for me, it’s my go to
when I have something awesome to celebrate. It’s my companion when I’ve had a
rough day and my constant friend when I’m alone.
Watching my son prepare for this new season of his life was
amazing, he was ready for it, I was not. I wanted to use food in all the ways I
always had. Celebrate this new season, comfort my aching heart, remove the pain
of loneliness, ease the reality of letting go. Without my usual go to treats, I
was at a bit of a loss. Breaking old habits is hard, creating new ones in the
midst of raw emotions… even harder.
I know this new season will be incredible. I’m always amazed
at how God works it all out, but there is pain in the process and I was wanting
some sugar to ease it all. To top it off my husband was away at a conference
and had no choice but to eat out for most of a week and the way our schedule
worked we ended up eating out for 3 days after he got home. It’s a wonder we
didn’t gain all the weight back.
But we didn’t.
He ended up only gaining a pound and I didn’t get on the scale. Ignorance is not bliss but I have to be honest here. With all the emotions I was dealing with, I didn’t think I could handle the scale at this moment so I made the decision to take a breath and stay off of it. I decided that instead I would celebrate the fact that we had both stuck to our plan completely. Food cooked at restaurants may not have the same healthy standards that we have at home, so no matter how hard we try weeks like this will come and I knew that I needed to make a decision to be proud of our progress and move forward.
So how did I deal with the stress? I’ve compiled 5 things that helped me through.
1. I took a lot of hot baths.
I spent hours in that tub and when I say hot bath I mean
that if I step out of the bath and I can’t see a difference in the parts that
were in the water and the parts that were not- we have a problem. (Yes, I do
know that scalding hot baths may not be the health choice of the season, but I
like it that way and it was better than eating a whole cheesecake which was
I needed those baths. This was a time for me to turn all the lights off, light some candles, (I especially love those fake battery operated ones that look real) and turn on some great worship music. As I lay there, praying, worshiping, and sometimes crying, I found some peace. I laced my bath with Epson salts and essential oils, set a nice glass of wine on the side of the tub and soaked until I wrinkled. Those sweet peaceful aromas and that relaxing atmosphere did not take the stress away completely, but it did give me a much-needed reprieve.
2. A great book is a perfect getaway.
I love to read, but I don’t take the time for it anymore. So
this month I did. I had a couple books that were recommended to me by a ladies
book club at my church and I decided to dive in. These books were in the
Christian self-help genre and what I found was exactly what I needed. I found
encouragement, laughter, tears, and motivation. They were not diet books, they
were books for life that held so many nuggets of truth that I had to make more
mental notes that I can hold. Currently I’m re-reading one of those books. If I
can fill my mind with the good things, then there won’t be room for the bad
3. Prayer works.
I know that I already mentioned prayer in the bath part of
this blog, but this topic needs a section all its own. Prayer gives hope, help
and a way to let go of stress. I have always been a praying woman. Lately
though, I’ve been distracted in prayer and realized it was time to really
refocus. I started writing in my prayer journal again, and I began to truly get
alone with God. I need Him always but life gets in the way more than I want to
admit. The bible says to give God our cares because he cares for us. How can I
give anything to God if I’m not praying. Each time I’d pray- there would be
peace. Like most of you, once I was done praying, the peace would fade. Life
has a way of doing that to us, so I prayed often and held on tight.
4. Understanding that Good Stress is still stress.
My son leaving was what I would consider good stress. This
was his dream, something he fought for, something he had overcome many obstacles
to accomplish. I was and am very proud of him and extremely excited for him,
but I quickly realized that no matter how “good” this was, I couldn’t control
the anxiety it caused. What would my new life look like without him in the day
to day? What was my purpose now that
most of my kids were raised and gone?
Who am I without them? These are
not bad questions, but they are stressful ones. I needed to get to a place
where asking them didn’t cut like a knife and seem like an ending to a season I
adored. Instead I needed to ask them honestly and prayerfully and find a way to
see this new season as the beginning of an amazing new chapter.
5. I need something to look forward too.
I need something to be excited about. It doesn’t have to be expensive or outlandish, it just has to be on the calendar. Something I can shoot for, mark off the days for. My husband and I have “date nights” a couple times a month where we literally just go out to dinner and then get groceries. I know your jealous, (LOL) but hear me out. Just knowing that I have a night away, a night where we will have a quiet dinner, a time to talk, and a reset on our weeks- this gets me through the tough days. In a few weeks we have a whole night away planned and I’m super excited about that as well. It’s amazing how 1 night away can reset a weary soul. What about you? What works for you? What doesn’t? Throughout this journey I’m realizing more and more how unique we all are and how incredibly cool that is. My husband handles stress very differently than I do, instead of a hot bath he sinks deeply into his recliner and gets his mind on a computer game or watches a movie. If life gets overwhelming for him, that’s where you’ll find him. He has been there a lot lately. Letting go is hard. Adjusting to new seasons filled with uncertainty and change- even harder. So we learn to lean into God, we manage our emotions to the best of our ability and we keep moving forward. One step today equals two tomorrow and after a while we look back and we realize how far we’ve come.
I didn’t realize that letting go would hurt this much. Sure I knew that time would fly and that in the blink of an eye my sweet babies would be all grown up and moving on in this world. I knew that. I held on tight. I made a point to snuggle as much as I could, to read stories, and have family nights. I made a point to enjoy every minute. I did all that and it still went by far too fast. I still want just one more day.
I’ll always want one
Many years ago on a family vacation to the beach, we passed a cute little street of shops that I really wanted to check out, but after a long day of sandcastles and waves my family was just too tired to join me, all except Zach. He and I headed out and shopped that day. We checked out the souvenir shops, we looked at t-shirts and stuffed animals, seashells, and salt water taffy, then we decided an ice cream break was in order. We sat at a cute little outdoor table and enjoyed a sundae that was far too big for the little guy that he was and we talked. We talked and talked and talked. Zach and I are both gifted in that art. Now I don’t remember anything we talked about, but I do very clearly remember this- after all the days at the beach, the aquariums we visited, and the adventures we had- I asked the kids what they liked best. “The ice cream” Zach replied.
Hours from home, new experiences, and long fun days and it
all came down to ice cream. I learned something that day that I will never forget.
It isn’t the big things in life that really matter. Instead, it’s the tiniest
of moments that come together to make life sweet. It’s laughing around the kitchen
table, watching family movies, coloring outside the lines and giggling at inside
jokes no one else would understand.
That little boy boarded a plane today. He is flying across the country to join our amazing military. He towers over me now, and I am more proud than I ever imagined possible. The problem is I struggle not to see the little boy with ice cream all over his face.
I struggle letting
Gretchen Rubin says that “The days are long but the years
are short.” Oh how right she is. My oldest son and his wife gave birth to their
first little boy just a few short months ago. It’s funny how life comes full
circle. I watched as one boarded a plane and the other held tight to a brand new
life. What a reminder of the blessings each season has to offer.
I realized something else today too. I realized that this
new season that is so uncomfortable in the process- will hold the same
tremendous hope that the last one did. I know that in time I’ll want this new
season to last forever too. There is so
much good mixed in with the tears.
I still have one more son at home with me and he is
terrified. He too has realized something in all this. He knows that he is the last of my babies and
that his mom needs something to hold onto.
She needs someone to “mother”. He’s terrified that he will get ALL the
mothering that I have to offer and to be honest he’s probably right. So please pray
for him he’s going to need it.
If you are struggling with letting go today. I want you to know that you are not alone. We will get through this and we will look back and rejoice at all this new season has to offer, but in the process- if a few tears are necessary, that’s okay too.
I had goals, I had expectations for life, and I had a plan. A really good plan by the way, and as long as everything went as planned then life would be perfect. Right?
Oh how wrong I was.
Nobody told me that no matter how hard you try, how meticulous you are with the details, life can still snatch that perfectly laid plan and disrupt the whole thing.
Disruptions were not part of my plan.
When I graduated High School (just a few very short years ago…) I planned to go to college, after college I would get married, and after 2 years of marriage I would have a baby. Now, I wasn’t actually dating anyone at the time but that was not the point. This plan was good and if I followed it to the letter I would be a successful, happy adult.
Oh how good life is with a carefully laid plan. (Insert sigh of relief here)
Then partway through my freshman year of college I ran into a guy I knew from High School. This was not just any guy, this was “the guy”. The guy who had been one of my best friends, the guy who I had dated a bit and had the most fun with, the guy who I really liked, and most importantly the guy who could mess up any carefully laid plan.
Dang, there he was, there I was, and there was that kiss in the kitchen that sealed the deal. I was toast.
BUT, don’t get me wrong. I still had a plan and this would fit so perfectly into it. In just a few short years I would graduate college and this guy would be the perfect husband to that perfect plan. I just love it when a plan comes together, don’t you?
If you are wondering where the punch line is- I won’t make you wait for long.
Every single plan I made changed, and I was not very happy about it. “The guy” was in the U.S.Navy and in case you aren’t aware, people in the service can be moved to locations far away from you, which by the way was not part of the plan.
Ok, so maybe I’d compromise a bit here. I mean who said you had to actually graduate college before you get married? Lot’s of people get married and still graduate right?
So I tweaked my plan and dropped out of college right before my junior year. We moved 18 long hours from home (In my plan I had ALWAYS said I would NEVER move more than 2 hours from home). Please, if you learn nothing else from me, please never ever ever say those two words. Because the truth is- following those two words are these two: Challenge Accepted…. Lord help me, it’s true.
My husband knew of my goals and my determination was unmatched. Once settled, I began looking for colleges to transfer to. I found one close, but alas, it didn’t have the major that I loved and again my plans had to change.
Did I mention that I hate change.
I really hate change.
I really really hate changes that I am forced to make.
I really really really hate changes that are out of my control. (I think you get the point)
Okay, so let’s look on the bright side, at least I can finish college… at least there’s that.
Then, a few months before our second anniversary I found out that I was pregnant. We were so excited. Plans were back on track, college was going well and life was good.
Why is it that curve balls get thrown when they are least expected? Just when you think you have it all together, bam, curve ball. Ug.
(Insert curve ball here…)
Sadly, we lost that precious baby on our second anniversary. (another blog for another time perhaps) Being in the hospital on our anniversary was definitely, not part of the plan. My heart was broken. My life seemed like one disappointment after the other.
Not being the type to give up easily though, we began to try again. I was determined to be a mother. Months passed. No baby. I began to get depressed. Friends were becoming parents and here I was wondering what was wrong with me? Then, on the very month our first baby was due, I became pregnant with our oldest son.
A friend once told me that although she had also had a very painful miscarriage, she realized that if it hadn’t happened, she would not have her daughter. My story is the same. Had I not had that miscarriage I would not have my son and I cannot imagine my life without him in it. Don’t misunderstand me here, I would never want to lose a pregnancy, but I did realize that I could chose to focus on the blessing instead of the loss.
Life has certainly not gone as planned.
No matter how hard I tried or how stubborn I was, life just had a way of knocking me right off course.
Life is so hard.
As you have probably already guessed, I did not graduate college as planned either. It took me a lot longer than expected. I transferred universities a few times and got discouraged more than I want to admit. When I did finally graduate, I had a 3 year old son and was 8 months pregnant with his little brother. My husband often reminds me that for as long as I was in college I could be a doctor right now, and he could be retired. I often remind him that it is his fault we moved around so much. We are at a stalemate on this one.
The point is- I did end up graduating. My goals were not met the way I thought they should be. Not one thing I planned has turned out the way I expected or wanted it to, but to be honest, (I can’t believe I’m admitting this) I really think it has turned out better. My plans were good, but the challenges and changes that life has thrown at us, has made me appreciate the outcomes so much more than if I had just accomplished them in my own way.
Change makes us uncomfortable but it also makes us see and experience things that we wouldn’t otherwise. And although some change can be painful, I can see now how it has all made me who I am today.
Change is the salt in our lives, it spices things up and takes us places we never thought we’d go.
It makes us regroup, re-plan, and refocus.
I can’t believe I’m saying this either, and I may not admit it later, but I have grown to really welcome change. I still don’t like it most of the time, but the outcome is always better than my own plans ever could be.
Maybe God really does know what He’s doing, and maybe I really need to just trust Him more.
So, the question is, do I still make plans? The answer to this one is simple, I most certainly do. I dream big, plan big, and then I ride this old roller coaster of life. It twists and turns my plans right upside down. Sometimes I win, sometimes I lose, and sometimes I just get sick to my stomach. My plans may change, I may accomplish my goals far differently than expected- but oh I do accomplish them. And along the way, I learn, I grow, and yes- I too change.
Change is good.
Life is good.
Hang on dear friends, change is coming. My prayer for you is that you can look back on your life the way that I do and be glad for every single unexpected turn.
Here I was watching the world continue on around me while mine seemed to be falling apart in every direction. I had found myself very seriously wondering if I was ever going to wake up from the nightmare I was in. I felt hurt, attacked, and watched almost like a spectator as my life literally changed in a moment and I was suddenly traversing waters I never intended to cross.
It was during this time that I began having anxiety attacks, attacks that rendered me useless and always seemed to choose the worst times to begin and would last for what seemed like hours. To say that an end was NOT in sight was an understatement. To make matters worse, I couldn’t find hope that anything good could come from my life.
Finally, I made the choice to seek God in a way I never had before. It was Him or nothing, all or none. I was at a crossroads and the direction I chose would change my life.
I told God that I would not give up and I would not give in, I would love Him if nothing in my life got any better. I admit, I wasn’t sure I was telling the truth.
Trusting anyone, including a God that had allowed this heartache in my life seemed like an impossibility. I mean- if God is so big and strong and loves us so much, then why had He allowed these things?
I had been faithful, I prayed daily, I went to church. I did all the “right” things- yet my life had still ended up here.
Could I really still believe that God cared, that He still had good things planned for me?
There is a scripture in the book of Romans (8:28 to be exact) that says “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
I asked myself often how anyone could take this mess of my life and make anything good come from it. I chose against all odds and circumstances to believe this scripture.
It was this small decision that would carry me through the months ahead.
I would like to say that things got dramatically better. I’m sorry to say that the “better” would not come for many years. It did eventually come, and that is what I want you to know.
No matter the length of the road we travel- there is an end to our struggle. You see, our God is awesome, He never left my side. My road was very long and extremely steep but at the end I was freed from the hurt and pain. I was released from the anxiety and struggle. God was with me through it all and although at times I wondered if giving up would have been easier- I watched as God showed up in my life more than I had ever experienced Him before.
He carried me through it all and yes, He still had a purpose for me.
I want you to know today that He still has a purpose for you too. No matter what your life is like right now, no matter how long your road or what you’ve done, God still loves you, He still waits for you. He longs to talk with you and show you the way out. He longs to take all the mess and make something good come of it. It’s time to give it all to God, time to choose a new path, and time to see the good that God has planned for you.
I’ve been in the valley, and I’m here to tell you that as long as you don’t give up then your breakthrough is straight ahead. Dare to believe God even when it seems impossible. I’ve been where you are, I’m praying for you today, and I know that with God, nothing will be impossible.