faith

7 Life-Changing Things I Learned From 30 Days of No Yelling

I'm a yeller. I started out my motherhood with the promise not to yell, but quickly broke that promise. To be clear, I'm not talking about verbal abuse here. I'm talking about raising my voice to make a point, reacting out of my anger or frustration. I came to the conclusion that yelling is a normal part of motherhood and a piece of who I am. Plus, when a Cuban girl and an Italian boy get married and have four kids in five years, it's a loud house, and yelling is essential to survival. 


That's what I told myself; that's what I believed, until a few months ago. 


You know how God slowly changes your heart without you really even noticing? Then all of a sudden a topic comes up one day and you notice you feel way differently about it than you did a year ago? God has done that to me multiple times with some pretty important issues, and that's what He did with yelling. 


I remember exactly where I was standing in our tiny two-bedroom condo that rainy day. We had just moved from sunny Southern California to beautiful, but very different Northwest Arkansas. We were living in this tiny place for six months to give us time to become familiar with the area and find a rental house. It was stressful, tense, and incredibly frustrating. I was adjusting to living with no familiar people around me, the kids missed their grandparents, and I was waiting for God to show me why He called us out here. I stood between the front door and the staircase and yelled at him. I yelled so loud and so hard that I felt it in my stomach. When I met his eyes, everything changed. 


My small, but strong-willed five year old looked back at me with a little bit of fear and a lot of desperation in his eyes. I could tell he wanted to say something, but knew he'd be met with more screaming from the tyrant who had taken over his mommy. Right there in that humbling moment of motherhood failure, God tapped on my heart and whispered, "this isn't what I want for you. Or them."


Over the next few days, God continued to draw my attention to my habit of yelling. I decided to do a thirty day challenge with myself and cut yelling out completely. When you have a blog and a following, you have automatic, heavy accountability, so I shared my challenge on social media, the blog, and started Periscoping my progress. (Note: I'm off Periscope now, but I do live stream in my Facebook group regularly. Request to join the party HERE)


I found myself quickly surrounded by other moms who struggled with yelling. Some were already working through books on the subject, some were in denial of how bad it was. I felt more determined than ever to complete the thirty days. If I could do this, maybe they would too. 


It's been one month since I completed the thirty day no yelling challenge. Here's what I learned from it. 


1. Yelling is my answer to almost every frustration in my life.

Once I made the decision not to yell, my eyes were opened to how often I turn to screams as a solution to problems during the day. It felt like I was sucking in a shout every five minutes at first. I was ashamed of how often I had to stop myself. For the first week, I messed up occasionally. Not because I just couldn't take it and had to yell at someone, but because yelling had become such a deep-seated habit for me, that it would just come out without a thought! 


2. Yelling doesn't accomplish anything good.

Since I was suddenly aware of how often I yelled, when I would start and then stop myself, I began to notice my kids' reactions. Sometimes it was fear, other times it was almost an annoyance. Their faces read "ohh great. Mom's freaking out again, how can I get through it this time..." The thing is, when I yell, I am trying to accomplish something. I want them to listen to me, respect me, and do what they need to do. Through this challenge I learned that none of that was being accomplished. In fact, just the opposite was. My kids respected me less, they shut down instead of listening to me, and if they did do whatever I was yelling about, it was done out of fear of me or out of just getting me to shut up. 


3. Yelling damages relationships.

This might seem obvious to you. When I type it it's obvious to me, yet I was yelling all the time so, apparently it's not obvious enough  and is worth saying. When I stopped yelling, my relationship with my kids got better incredibly quickly. I noticed my seven-year-old daughter asking to spend time with me, wanting to talk to me and tell me secrets. I noticed my boys wanting me to go outside with them and kick the soccer ball around. It was like they couldn't get enough of me. During the times when I would start to yell out of habit, it was almost like I could physically see my children pull away from me. Yelling severs closeness; I know that for a fact. 


4. Yelling makes my husband shut down.

I did this challenge with my kids in mind, but it impacted my marriage in a very deep way too. I found myself having to hold back the most around my husband. It hurts me to admit this, but I noticed how often I get irritated with him and push him away with my words. Far more often than I'd like to tell you, I found myself biting my tongue with words like "Just do something right!" or "Can you please just take care of one thing yourself?!" The weight of how painful these words are really hung from my heart over the first couple of weeks. Just like with the kids, I saw my husband's face change when I started to yell. It seemed as if he was a machine that was turned off, a robot who ran out of battery life. He just completely shuts down when I yell. I've always been thankful that Brian rarely even yells back at me when I get like that, but having noticed his face, I think this is worse. Over time, as I got better, I saw him moving closer to me in every way. He was happier, lighter, more loving toward me, and wanting to talk to me more. Alongside working on my yelling, I started being more physically affectionate with my husband throughout the day, because touch is his love language. Not yelling gave way to more improvements that didn't even seem hard to make because I was already conquering the hardest one for me. 


5. Yelling opens the door to anxiety in my home.

When I stopped yelling, I was suddenly very aware of all the effects yelling has on my family. I noticed my little girl twiddling her thumbs before she came up to me with a question. I noticed my husband feeling around for my mood before bringing up an idea. I felt like a monster. Even though I really just yelled out of what I felt was necessity and knee-jerk reactions to frustrating moments, it was enough to cause anxiety in the people I love dearly. That broke my heart. As time went on, their trust in my new-found calmness grew and the anxiety fled. I never want to go back to the way things were. I never want to be the cause of anything but love and peace in my home!

PIN THIS! Spread the love. 


6. When I yell, I am not a good steward.

My children were given to me by God to raise up to do great things for His kingdom! When I yell, I am not showing them His love, and I am not being a good steward of what He gave to me.


An overseer, as God's steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.

Titus 1:7-8


My husband is my partner in this life, and he's to be honored and respected by me as unto the Lord and as an example to my kids. Yelling at my family goes against the will of God for all of us. These are His children I'm treating this way. I know it hurts Him to watch, and I know that's why He lead me to change. 


7. Yelling makes me an unhappy person.

The biggest surprise I found in this challenge was how yelling affected me. I found that I felt lighter, happier, and just less cranky in general throughout the week. The times in the beginning when I would yell out of habit, I noticed it put me in a terrible mood and really darkened my day. I realized a lot of the time when I was in a bad mood was directly related to how I had treated my family that morning. 


I hope you take this honest post with a large scoop of grace for me, especially if yelling isn't something you struggle with. I hope you've poked around my blog before and know how much I adore my husband and my babies, and how much of my time is spent creating beautiful memories with them. I hope you don't judge my parenting solely on this incredibly honest piece of writing. It was meant to reach the mom who yells and thinks it's okay, and the mom who yells and doesn't think she can ever stop. I encourage you to take the challenge, and don't stop just because you slip up. Keep going, start new every time you need to, and watch things change. 

How to Overcome Depression Naturally

Depression is something I have struggled with since I had my first-born in 2007. I used to be embarrassed about it and wonder if there was something wrong with me; now I know it's just a part of my structure, personality type, and how my brain responds to stressful or mundane times. That doesn't mean I have to be the victim, allowing it to take over stretches of my life. It used to, but I know now that I have the power and the control to fight it, and end it. 

Fighting off depression is so difficult, I think especially because it requires energy and that is something a depressed person has none of. The fact is that there are hard things in life, and with depression it comes down to this:

Are you going to let this press the pause button on your life?

Or are you going to fight back and take control?

Depression isn't a choice, but what you do about it is.

Over the last nine years, I have discovered some things that can combat depression without medicine [although I did go down the medicinal path when I had post-partum]. With consistency, I ward off the blues every time now. 

Do something different.

I have found that my habits play a big role in how I'm doing as a person. When I do the same thing day in and day out for too long, I find myself in a slump. I start to lose excitement for my days, I feel tired and sluggish, I lose interest, I get lazy. I've had a new habit totally change my life. Little things like taking a walk once a day, listening to a podcast while I fold the laundry, or waking up earlier have impacted my spirit. Sometimes you just have to make a change and find something that adds joy to your days. 

Get outside.

Creation holds power, and I don't mean that in a strange way, I mean God created it and it reflects Him; it has the power to influence us and make us feel things. When you step outside of your bubble and get outside, scientifically, you feel better. Did you know that almost everyone walking around is low on vitamin D? A lack of vitamin D plays a big part in depression, and guess where we get it- sunlight. For me, getting outside once a day is probably the biggest cure for depression. I just let the kids dress themselves and wander to the park across the street with some water or coffee and my headphones. I walk slowly back and forth while I listen to an inspiring podcast or some good music and let the kids burn some energy. Get outside and make a very simple difference. 

Change your diet.

There are things we eat on a meal-to-meal basis that we were not designed to eat. Food is medicine, and "you are what you eat" is truer than most people would like to admit. Gluten is linked to depression, and gluten is in everything. Try eating paleo, as it is a clean diet that has a tremendous impact on how you feel.

Stop sitting and start moving.

Do you know about the effects sitting has on our bodies?

God designed us to be extremely active and almost constantly hard-working, and here we are sitting 10+ hours a day! It's not good for us, and standing up is a great, simple way to start fighting back against depression. Consider a standing desk and standing mat, start walking in the mornings, take a Zumba class, get up and lunge every hour if you work in an office, if you're a stay-at-home mom, make a rule that you won't sit down until dinnertime. Make the choice to educate yourself and work against the downward pull you're experiencing in your life right now. Say no to excuses.

Go the homeopathic way.

There are some excellent sources for curing our ailments- physical, mental, and emotional- with what God put in the soil of our planet. I always tell people to research for themselves, because something might jump out at you that you feel will work best. However, things like St. John's Wart, essential oils, increasing the healthy fats in my diet, and drinking a gallon of water a day for a month have helped me so much in the past. 

Get more sleep at night.

I know that pull to take naps during the day when you're depressed, and I'm not talking about that. You need to go to bed earlier at night. I also know that sometimes depression comes with insomnia, but just take that first step of getting into bed early. Say no to Netflix, pull out a book, turn off the super bright lighting, and breathe. Don't stress about falling asleep or getting 8+ hours; just relax and fall asleep when you fall asleep, and get into this habit every night. I have found that eventually, especially when coupled with rising early, I start to actually fall asleep soon after I climb into bed. Sleep cures a multitude of issues, and depression is high on that list. 

Get really busy.

This isn't for you if you're one of those people whose calendars are full to the brim almost daily. Your schedule might be the reason you're feeling down [in fact, if you are too busy you might need to clear your schedule for a bit and take this advice in the opposite direction]. But, if you're like me- a stay-at-home mom with my own schedule, you might be struggling with depression because you've got too much time serving your family at home and not enough time getting out and doing things with other people. I know getting out of the house with little kids is exhausting, but it can help. Join a Bible study, moms group or book club, sign up for a gym class, get involved in your church, get yourself in some sort of school organization for parents or join a homeschool co-op, plan some play dates, get on MeetUp and make some new friends or take up a new hobby like hiking, sign up for a 5k and start training. Just get some things on your calendar and make a rule- no canceling. 

Talk to someone. 

Walking depression alone seems logical to avoid judgement, but it's the worst thing you can do. Telling someone keeps you from staying isolated, and sometimes talking it out even helps you see something that's causing your struggle that you hadn't realized before. Choose a trustworthy friend, or your husband, and tell them what's up. Ask them to check in on you once a day. 

Pick up your Bible.

I think when you're depressed it's easy to feel guilty for it, and when we feel guilty or shameful we tend to stray from the Lord. This isn't the time to skip your quiet time, in fact you need it now more than ever. God can handle your emotions, He can handle your heart, He can handle your struggles. He wants them! So go sit with some coffee and your Bible and just start reading. Download a She Reads Truth plan. 

if you feel like you need to, but don't let all those excuses get in the way of the one true Cure for our desperation. Remember Peter trying to walk on the water? Once he took his eyes off Jesus, he went under. 

Depression is not a small struggle, it's a serious and crippling sickness, and my heart goes out to you if you're reading this and relating.

I am always available to talk and pray, and if nothing else, take comfort in knowing that someone else gets it, and has been there but overcome. 

For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, "Do not fear I will help you". 

Isaiah 41:13

 photo new sig.png

Life Lately & Our Trip to California in Photos

Hiiii!

Gosh I feel like it's been ages since I sat at this space and just let myself pour into it. Our vacation really threw me off, and as refreshing as it was, I'm so happy to be back home and in my normal routine! I want to share a little bit about what's been on my heart lately, and then I'm gonna dump the best photos from our trip!

So, right before Christmas, my dad called me and asked me if Brian and I would be willing to bump our planned March trip to California up to January. He offered to pay for our plane tickets if we did. Obviously we took him up on his offer! He booked us for two whole weeks and the trip was fairly last-minute, so the whole thing was one big blur to me. 

I have to say that I hated flying with the kids, and would absolutely choose the twenty-two hours of driving that we did with them over the 4+ hours of flying and the layover each way. Emmett is just at the worst age for being forced to sit in one spot for that long, and he was screeching and frustrated and miserable for most of the flight time, despite all the things we did to prepare. Our kids just love the car and do so well in it, I think we'll commit to road tripping back home every six months for now, and revisit the flight idea when Emmett is older. 

I was apprehensive about going back. I was worried about how being back there and spending time with friends and family would make me feel. I thought maybe being back where things are comfortable would cause me to hate our decision to move, and dread coming back to Arkansas. 

I was very wrong about that. 

Going back was so fun, so refreshing, so comforting, but somehow I felt even more confident about our move, and after the first week I couldn't wait to get back home. I saw California as a wonderful place full of people and places I love that I get to visit every six months and take a break from the rhythm of daily life. I loved the beach and breathed it in so deep, but when I walked back to the car with the waves at my back, I was okay. I was thinking of how good it would feel to go home and see the mountains again. I didn't look over my shoulder like I did when I walked away four months ago. I didn't need to, and that felt good. 

One of the things I realized while there, is that I haven't been truly settling into our new home yet. The first three months were at first total chaos, and then anxiety coupled with a lack of action. I wasn't really committed to new friendships, to my area, to making Arkansas our home like I did when we lived in California. I realized that it's time to bury my feet in the ground, put down some roots, dive into friendships and homeschooling and church, and start living here. Exploring the area isn't enough, I have to treat this place like home because it is! This is where God has led us and I don't know how long He will have us here, so I need to be all in. 

I can wait patiently for our next trip to Cali. I can look forward to my toes in the sand and my family surrounding me again, but I don't feel like I'm hanging onto the life I had there while physically standing on new soil. I feel present and settled and at peace. I feel ready to live. 

 photo new sig.png

How to Find Joy in Your Last Baby When You Weren't Ready to Call it Quits

"Peace is joy at rest. Joy is peace on its feet."

Anne Lamott

My last baby turned one year old on Halloween. I thought I would feel a heavy sadness, and I thought it would be a very tearful day. I made a big breakfast, cooked

everyone's favorite cold weather meal

, and comforted my boy crying in confusion as we sang the birthday song, then Brian and I got all the kids into their costumes and we drove to a farm that was stocked up on pumpkins.

I watched my baby laugh in his daddy's arms as he looked at a bunch of playful baby goats. I kept waiting for the pain to rise up, but it just wasn't there. We went trick or treating; I nursed my baby and tucked him into my coat while I walked. All I felt was gratitude, and I think maybe there was even some joy in there.

Why am I not a wreck? Aren't I supposed to be a wreck?

That night, after I nursed him to sleep and tucked him in for bed, I planted a soft kiss on his little head and thanked God for the joy Emmett had brought to our last three-hundred and sixty-five days.

I sat on the couch with Brian and we reminisced. We started talking about how heartbroken I was after Hudson was born, and the doctor told me I could not have anymore babies. There were so many nights spent choking on sobs and feeling like my world was crushed. Obviously, God moved in a big way and healed me, then gave us one last baby, Emmett Finn.

I got to thinking...

why was I so heartbroken that time I thought I'd have no more, but not this time when I

know

 I won't?

During my final pregnancy, God had given us peace about having my tubes tied. There were issues in me that proved risky and unhealthy. It was time to let my body heal and rest for good- no more 'self-made' babies for our family.

God's peace is such an incredible thing, because the lack of it and the gain of it can give you two opposite reactions to the same news. 

It wasn't

just

 the peace of God that led to a joy-filled year with my last baby. Being human, I've had times when I knew which way the Lord's peace was leading me and I ignored it. You can, of course,

choose

 to be angry, sad, upset, and even bitter, no matter how much peace you have over a situation.

Knowing what God wants for you doesn't automatically make you happy about it. 

I wanted more kids. Brian and I both agreed we wanted a large family with five or six children, and then we talked about adopting even more! Clearly, having our fourth baby be our last wasn't the plan. I heard a lot of comments like, "you should be thankful. I know so and so and she can't have kids at all." Yes, I am extremely thankful, but I do not think ungratefulness is the root of heartache when a deep desire goes unfulfilled. Being told "you can't, you're done" against your will makes you feel inferior and powerless and deeply sad, no matter how many children you already have.

But you know what I realized? I had a choice to make. I could follow the peace and

choose joy

.

Or I could allow my

could have been

to steal the joy from my reality. 

After Hudson was born, I had no peace, and I knew my God didn't want this for me; that He was bigger than the words of that doctor. After Emmett was born,

total peace,

and then my choice to choose joy. It's the combination of both that gives you the ability to move forward and enjoy this life when it doesn't go as planned.

If you want joy in a situation, choose it. There's no secret formula or heart trick; it's a choice as clear as day.

Note: please understand that although I do not personally know the pain of infertility, I do know the pain of loss, and I can only imagine the heartache those who cannot have any babies endure. It breaks me to even think of it. This post is not at all meant for those of you who have longed for a child and have been robbed of that blessing, so please don't take it on yourselves. This is just my heart after a journey that God placed in my life and I had it on me to share. I believe God has a plan for every soul on this earth and in heaven- born and unborn- and I know His sovereign power will be made clear to you one day, sweet friend. My prayers go with you today. 

 photo post signature.png

Life Lately, God's Gangster Voice, + Why He's Still Good

Life lately is rain. Like, literal rain from the sky. A downpour that seems constant.

Being born and raised in So Cal, when it rains I stare blankly out the window and cross everything off my to do list because life cannot be lived if it's raining. Here in Northwest Arkansas, apparently, it rains a lot and people just keep on going, living and doing life things. This includes leaving the house, which is both jarring and shocking to the California girl in me. Even today as our family left to go see a movie, it was raining so hard that it felt illegal or something. I kept peering out from underneath my protective hood, looking for signs of life. There was a guy walking his dog, a girl jogging (really?! you're jogging in this???), and even a mom with her kids under the canopy at the picnic tables across from our house. Life can go on, even if it's raining. Good to know.

Life lately is also some metaphorical rain. Brian and I both expected life to get a lot easier when we moved out here. Some things have been a million times better, like his work hours, but other things have remained difficult or gotten even harder.

How could you, God?!

I've found myself cranky, even a little bitter over some of it. I have had to sit in the dark on the couch in the dead of night and lay it all out for Him. The confusion, the thoughts I have, and how pissed off He made me on more than one occasion recently. It's okay, He can handle my emotions.

God never promised easy if we follow His call on our lives. I know this, but I somehow thought our "big leap of faith" made us exempt.

God we moved all the way out here! Away from everyone we know and love! How can you not bless all of everything in our lives immediately?!

Oh humanity, you make me into such a moron.

God called us out of California and into Arkansas.

I know that for sure.

He blessed us with better work hours at Brian's job, enough money to make it, and the promise that He's got something big for us out here. At what point did I hear, "Get choself out to the mountains, girl! I'mma give you all the best everything! It'll all be butterflies and rainbows and unicorns fo sho!" (I don't know why I gave God a gangster voice. I get weird when I'm confessing something humbling. If this offends you go ahead and click away. I'll understand...)

I think so often we (or, um, just I) fill in the margins of God's voice. We hear Him give us a promise and we add in all the extra frills because the promise alone isn't enough.

It's a heavy lack of gratitude, at its best. 

Why would I ever expect perfection in my life as a result of following God? Getting that would mean He gave me a way out of needing Him, of needing a Savior. That goes so far from His character, and believe it or not, His total goodness.

When God calls us, there's a reason, even if we can't see it. There's a lot of hope in His call, but never perfection. In this fallen world we face hard trials and take deep cuts. So what's the point? Why follow the call in the first place if it's still going to suck sometimes?

Because even if not, He is still good. (Daniel 3:18)

Even if the things I think or hope will come to pass don't come anywhere near my life, even if I give up everything I own and love and follow His call and I lose even more,

He is still good. 

He is still good because He has promised that, eventually, His plans for me will make me prosper. (Jeremiah 29:11)

He is still good because His love for me never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:8)

He is still good because He will never leave me in the mess of life, or any other time for that matter. (Deuteronomy 31:8)

He is still good because He has poured out His blessings upon me, even if things are difficult at the moment. (Psalm 34:8)

He is still good because He adores me with a rich passion that I cannot even fathom. (1 John 3:1a)

He is still good when things seem unfair because of His love for me, and because love does not delight in evil. (1 Corinthians 13:6)

He is still good because His ways are higher than mine. (Isaiah 55:9)

He is still good because He is God. (Psalm 100:3)

We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. 

Romans 5:3-5

And so I shut up, I stop expecting what is uncharacteristic of the God I love and serve, and I stop complaining about all He has blessed me with. So I run with purpose in every step and move ahead strong, trusting in His high ways and great plan, because my humanity is so weak, and I need a big God like Him. 

Fitting In Quiet Time + Favorite Devotionals

I love my quiet time. In every form it comes in- alone time, time with Jesus, writing time, nighttime drives, headphones in while I workout- I just love being alone and tuning out the world for a bit. As an introvert, I really need that time, and I need it often.

I have so much on my plate, and so much to do with four kids. If I keep on hacking at my to do list, getting all the snacks, changing all the diapers, cleaning all the spills, folding all the clothes, I will exhaust myself. Exhaustion is not always physical; it can be more dangerous than that. I have had an exhausted spirit and it is awful, draining, and depressing. When I am empty, I have nothing to give my family.

Sally Clarkson said it perfectly when she compared it to breastfeeding a baby. The milk develops from what the mother is eating, so if she's not eating anything, her body will not produce milk, and the baby will starve. The same goes for our spirits as mothers. If we don't put any quality time in for ourselves, our well will dry up, and we won't have anything to give our family.

I have been getting lots of questions recently about what I do for quiet time and what devotionals I like for Jesus time. Sharing all of that with you today because this is one of my favorite topics to talk about!

Devotionals & Morning Quiet Time

Every morning I get the kids breakfast, pour myself a cup of coffee, and sit myself on the couch for at least ten minutes. I do my best to avoid interruptions for just those ten precious minutes. I ask Bella to help the baby if he needs anything in his highchair, I put quiet worship music on and headphones in, and I make it happen- sweet time with Jesus.

I take a breath and give the day to the Lord, asking Him to use me and energize me and help me. I read the short daily excerpt from my all-time favorite devotional

Springs in the Desert by L.B. Cowman. Then I read the daily word from

Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. These two little books pack a punch and get my heart prepared for the day without making me feel like I have to set aside a ton of time in this chaotic season of my life.

I also love that each book offers Scripture for the day. Honestly, as much as I would love to dig deep into the Word every morning, my life at this point just doesn't allow that. Soaking in a few verses is just what I need to start my days. I can read those passages and meditate on one of them as I get going, letting God's Word reach my heart. Even if it's only one verse, it's enough and He honors my time spent seeking His face.

Podcasts & Midday Breaks

One of my favorite things in life right now is so simple- taking a midday break. Normally the baby is napping and the older kids are busy with something (coloring, homeschool busy work, a movie, playing with toys, doing a chore), and I will get out my trusty headphones and turn on a podcast. I can't even express the joy this simple practice has brought to my stay-at-home motherhood. I only wish I had thought of doing this for myself sooner! I get a dose of inspiration right in the middle of the day and it refocuses me and reignites my purpose every time. It is absolutely my biggest piece of advice for other moms!

My favorite podcasts right now are:

Life-Giving Words with Sally Clarkson

God Centered Mom Podcast

The Influence Podcast

InspiredToAction Podcast

All you have to do to find these gems is search for them in iTunes! If you don't have an iPhone, I have no idea how you'd find them, but I would just Google them!

Another little tip...

Some days the kids have too much energy and I can't even get into the kitchen to wash dishes and listen to a podcast. Those are the days I need a midday break more than ever! If the weather allows, I take the kids to the park even if it means naps aren't on schedule, and let them run around. I pull out my headphones and listen to something refreshing while I push Emmett on the swings or follow him around the play equipment.

Whatever it takes, I really try to make a midday break happen at least a few times a week. I cannot say that I have ever had a bad day when I made time for that.

Prayer & Listening for God

I am sure when my kids are little older and my life isn't so completely chaotic, I will have time set aside for silence and prayer, but right now I don't. I know that's not what you usually hear from articles about being a Christian mom, but I'm just being honest. Right now I pray in the shower, when I'm driving, in the middle of the night, when I'm washing dishes, when I'm walking back and forth through the house putting laundry away, when I'm locked in the closet and I just need Jesus now.

In this season of motherhood, I pray as I go throughout my day, but I do not have a set block of time for it. I have tried forcing that and it only led to a lot of frustration, so instead I asked God to meet me where I'm at and help me walk with Him in this time of my life, and this is where I'm at now.

When I do need quiet and I need to hear the voice of the Lord on a particular issue, I wait until I can get silence, and usually I take a long shower and just sit in His presence until I get some clarity. Maybe that seems awkward to you, I know it's nothing fancy, but it's what I do and it has simplified my life and brought me a great deal of peace, and it works for me.

That about sums up this part of how I do this mom life thing. As always, if I skipped something or you have a question, just leave a comment. I will always see it and I love responding to you :)

One last thing for the mama who never takes time for herself...

Friend, God wants abundant life for you. He made you to desperately need time with Him and time for yourself. Your well is empty and you are unable to give your family what they need. That's not your fault, it's the way we work as mothers. You can let go of the guilt that comes with doing something for yourself, even if there's someone in your life making you feel guilty, let it go. It is your job to raise your babies and love on your husband, and it is simply impossible to do your best when you're running on empty. Press pause, take a breath, and do something small for your tired spirit. I'm saying a prayer over you right now.

 photo post signature.png

For the Mom Who Googled "I Don't Want to Be A Mom Anymore"

For_the_Mom_who_Googled_2.png

This morning I was checking my blog stats, which allows me to see how new readers are finding me, and what Google searches are leading people to my website. Normally it's about the same...

Husband works too much

Makeup for broken out skin

How to pray for relationship with daughter

But today was different. Among the top searches that led people here were heart-wrenching phrases that made me put my coffee down and choke back tears.

I don't want to be a mom anymore...

Overwhelmed mom depressed...

Motherhood is too hard...

I was thinking about those words later as I washed dishes and tried to listen to the acoustic station I had playing as my boys bickered back and forth from their bedroom.

My gosh. Can I just get five minutes of peace while I clean up?

I realized the reason those words had hit me so hard wasn't just because they were sad.; it was because I have been the mom that felt like that. 

There have been dark days when depression overthrew me, and maybe I would have reached for my iPhone and typed in desperate words, hoping for a magic answer. I've been the mom in the bathroom with the door locked, tears running down my face because I just didn't know what to do about my strong-willed child. I've been the mom screaming at a defiant toddler instead of reaching for her heart and asking what's wrong. I've been the bitter wife, I've been the ungodly mother, I've been the housewife so overwhelmed that I just end up doing nothing.

Sweet overwhelmed mama, whoever you are, Jesus came so that you would have life, and have it abundantly.

Do you really believe that being so overwhelmed and isolated that you reach out to Google is abundant life?

It's not. There is so much more than you can even imagine waiting for you in the palm of His hand. And it's all for you. You just have to turn around, look at Him, and take it.

You're right that you can't do this. You're right that this is all too much for you. You're right that some days are depressing.

But you can do all things through the One who gives you strength.

That is about as cliche as it gets, but when you pause and really think about that beautiful truth and apply it to your motherhood, you can feel the giant weight that's been crushing your shoulders start to lift, it gets lighter and lighter as you say "yes" to His help. He did not create you to be able to do all this on your own. In fact, He knows that you can't and never had any expectation for you to be able to.

You did that to yourself.

He wants you to let go of that and let Him guide you. Let Him give you peace that diffuses your anger, love that overcomes your frustration with your children, joy that breaks the chains of depression.

Take a deep breath, quiet your spirit even if all around there is noise, feel yourself letting go of all this and reaching to touch the face of your Savior. Get up and walk in the Light now, because a daughter of the King deserves better than to be taken down by the lies of the enemy.

"The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy. I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly."

John 10:10


"When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him."

Isaiah 59:19


WANT A LITTLE EXTRA MOTIVATION?

HERE ARE SOME EPISODES OF THE PURPOSE SHOW THAT ARE RELATED TO THIS TOPIC!

 
 

Ultimate_Guide_Mockup_3.png

Sweet friend, I want you to have my biggest, fullest freebie.

This includes everything from tips on morning routines to meal planning to organizing your life. 

I want you to live abundantly, and I believe this download will get you started.

The Waiting Room

Our family has a major change on the horizon. We are seeing something we've always talked about coming into fruition, but the process is slow, and patiently waiting for something to happen isn't one of my strengths.

Things were going along smoothly, and then one day, we were following God's leading and He led us into the waiting room, said He would be back, and left us there.

Oh please no. The dreaded waiting room...

I DESPISE WAITING!

I would surely rather shoot my own foot off than be in the waiting room.

I've been here before. It's the waiting that always gets me. I am faithful, I am prayerful, I am walking in step with the Lord, then He brings me into this room, the waiting sets in, and I panic. Once the door to the waiting room closes and there's stillness, my faith loses the battle with my flesh and I start desperately trying to make something happen.

I need something to happen right now.

The waiting makes me cringe.

I like to be in control. I like to be able to see what's happening, what's next. I've discovered this week, between panic outbursts in the waiting room, something crucial about myself. Something debilitating to my walk with God...

I want to be in control more than I want God's will.

And that's what this all boils down to. A heart issue.

Surprise, surprise. 

When I take an honest look at myself, I can see that I would rather have control and take action right now than be waiting for what God has in store, unsure of His timing.

But faith is hoping and believing in things not yet seen.

It's in the waiting room that faith forms. The waiting room is like an incubator for faith.

I want to be faithful. I want my kids to look back at my life and see a calm, patient, faith-filled woman of God, not a control freak who only had faith until stillness was required. I want to grow, to be better, to be stronger, to be exemplary. But without the waiting room, I won't grow into any of these things. I'll continue to be mediocre, impatient, self-centered, and a slave to my need for control.

And so I'll stop clawing at the walls of this room that I hate. I'll stop complaining and kicking and screaming. I'll stop whining for God to hurry up and come back with what He promised us. I'll wait, because He is who He says He is. His ways are not my ways, and His thoughts are higher than my thoughts. I'm tired of being in control, it's gotten me nowhere good. I am humbled, quiet, and willing. Grow my faith, Lord... I'm yours.

From Failing to Flourishing: How Praying for My Husband Changed His Work Life

I've been thinking a lot recently about prayer, and about the power of a praying wife.

 Prayer is about faith, and faith is something God has been inking on my heart lately. It's like when God is showing you just how incredible something mundane is- something cliche that you've always known about (like faith) and He just makes it new and shows it to you in a whole new light. I love when He does that!

I get my encouragement from hearing the stories of other women and sharing experiences, so I wanted to share another recent experience of mine with the power of prayer.

My husband works for a very large company where his job performance is monitored and judged by "the numbers system". The company expects only the best from its employees, and they don't make it easy for their technicians to meet their numbers. Without meeting these numbers, you will be fine and your job is safe, but you won't be able to move up in the company or make any transfers or get any perks of the job that they offer to the techs who do well.

Brian has had sort of a cloud over him at work for the last two years. He's been cursed with the most complicated and difficult jobs every single day, and they affect his numbers in ways out of his control. He's been unable to meet his numbers or his manager's goals for him and it had him feeling very defeated and worthless at his job. As any wife knows, if a husband feels useless and defeated, he is not a happy man by any means, and his whole life is affected by these feelings.

I'm embarrassed to say that it took me two years to get my head out of the ground and realize I could do something (not just a small something, but something powerful) to help my husband. A little over a month ago, God laid it heavy on my heart to start praying over Brian and his job. I decided to make a list of the issues Brian was having at work, including the cloud that seemed to be hovering and keeping him from meeting his numbers no matter how hard he worked, and pray over them specifically.

I have four kids, and Emmett is only a few months old, so I knew I wouldn't find spare time lying around... I had to determine to make time to pray. I chose the time between 2:30 and 3:30, when the older kids nap and Emmett needs to be put to sleep. I started wrapping the baby in my arms and pacing the living room while going down the list of Brian's work-related issues, covering each one and Brian himself in Spirit-filled prayer and Scripture.

Among other things, some of my prayers were...

1. That Brian would not meet, but exceed the expectations put on him at work. That his numbers would go beyond the bare minimum.

2. That the work of his hands would be blessed (like Joseph's in Egypt), and that he would find favor from those above him in the workplace.

3. That he would feel useful and valued at work, and hear praise from his manager.

Things don't always happen this way, but in this instance, results came immediately. Brian told me about what a good afternoon he had at work when he got home the first night I prayed. After a week of daily time spent in prayer, his numbers were higher. Finally the end of February came around, and his numbers were so high, they exceeded the expectations of his managers. He got noticed by upper-level managers because of the positive reports coming in about him. After the last day of the month, his direct manager called him to praise him for how well he did and what an amazing, drastic change he'd made in his numbers.

He went from the lowest performance bracket to the highest in less than 30 days. 

My husband is a very hard worker, dedicated, and loves his job, but the demands there were high, and I believe the enemy was using his work to bring him down and make him feel defeated. It was leaking into every area of his life. I listened to the leading of the Spirit and submitted myself to prayer for my husband. And through my submission, God was able to break chains and do an awesome thing. My husband is like a new man.

We wives have so much power.

I thank God for that because I tend to be more spiritually aware of things, and can cover my husband in prayer when he doesn't even realize he needs it. Let's stomp on any footholds the enemy may have in any area of our husband's lives and use our power for good. Let's start praying over them and being their helpers as they go out and conquer the world for their families.

Their calling is to look ahead, work, and be warriors at the front of the battlefield, protecting and providing for their families. Our calling is to be the heart- dedicated to standing behind them with prayer spilling from our lips. And what a beautiful calling it is.

And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.

Matthew 21:22

Depression + Motherhood

If you've been around my blog for awhile, you probably know that I struggle with depression. Today I want to really open up and talk about it, in hopes that it will raise awareness and help somebody. Depression and motherhood are common acquaintances, and not enough people are talking about it openly.

At the end of my first pregnancy, I began to feel "off". I was sad, uninterested in the things that I normally loved, and I couldn't figure out what exactly it was or why I felt that way. After Bella was born, I fell into severe post-partum depression (PPD), which lasted for about 18 months. My case was a bad one. I physically could not get myself out of bed. I am not a person who enjoys relying on others; I'm a go-getter, an I-got-this kind of person, and I normally enjoy waking up and getting out and being productive. I felt my depression physically, it was so bad. It felt like I had black clouds stuck in my head and pressing down on my chest, causing severe fatigue and a feeling of hopelessness. I had no natural motherly insincts. It was like they wouldn't stick to me because I was so immersed in depression. When Bella would cry, I felt nothing. Not anger or irritation, not sadness or sympathy... just nothing. My baby's cry had no affect on me, and neither did her cooing, her laughter, her growth. I was lifeless. When I watch videos of myself at that time, I can't help but cry. I wish I could reach out to that girl and take away her pain. I was so confused by what was happening to me.

We lived with my parents at the time, and my mom and husband both saw there was something very wrong, but didn't know what or why or what to do. When they tried to talk to me about it or help me, that's when the only emotion I sometimes felt would come out- anger. I got a prescription for an anti-depressant from a doctor but I didn't want to accept that kind of help. I was scared of what the drug might do to me, and I didn't want to become a robot. I didn't take the meds and the depression held on until about fifteen months after Bella was born. The clouds lifted a little, and I became pregnant again. I believe the hormonal changes in my body caused my serotonin (the happy hormone your brain produces) levels to boost, and I felt the depression had passed completely around eighteen months after it began.

The hardest part of this part of my life is that my depression was so deep and debilitating, that as I look back, there are blank spaces in my brain, and I have no memories of my baby girl during her first year of life. When I look at photos or watch her baby videos that I am in, it freaks me out because I do not remember being there at all. PPD took over my body, my mind, and my life, and it robbed me of the most precious memories that should have been mine to remember the rest of my life.

 When my second child, Leland was born, PPD hit me again. I panicked at the thought of losing my bond with my son and my memories. I went right away and got medicine, which helped get my serotonin level where it needed to be in six months' time, at which point I weaned off the medicine. The important thing to note here is the type of depression. For me, this was not the "baby blues". It was an extreme, life-altering, deep depression that was ruining my life and my family. It was not a situational depression (brought on by difficult circumstances). It was a chemical imbalance that needed to be treated just the same as if I had diabetes.

I did not have PPD at all after my third baby, Hudson was born. It's funny because there was so much bad going on in my life that I think I should have struggled with depression, but I had absolutely none. This confirms even more that what I experienced before was an imbalance that I could do nothing about without medical help.

Although I didn't struggle with PPD after my last birth, since I became a mom, I have battled on and off with depression (situational depression and depressive "lulls", not the same thing as PPD). Having gone through so much and experienced both, I can tell when what I'm struggling with is a lull, and when I have a chemical imbalance that requires medical help. I hadn't really had more than a bad week for three years until a couple months ago. I woke up one morning and could feel the difference. I didn't want to get out of bed, hopelessness seemed to have settled over me overnight, and I felt fear get me. I was depressed. Again. For those who haven't struggled in the past and are unclear about depression, it is very real, it isn't an excuse to be lazy, it isn't a thing of the imagination, it can become physically painful, and it does not mean you are being punished for something wrong you did. I have heard all these things said to me, and I will not tolerate any such comments, let me be clear on that.

For me, depression looks like this:
Lack of interest in things I normally love, like reading, Zumba class, being outside, writing, going out to dinner, etc.
It's usually accompanied by anxiety.
Daily tasks feel as daunting as climbing a mountain. Seriously. Getting off the couch to switch the laundry feels completely overwhelming. Showering, doing my makeup, and getting dressed for the day doesn't happen.
Avoiding family and friends.
Binging on junk food.
Just not caring in general, about anything.
Snapping at my kids a lot more than just the usual end-of-the-day burn out.
Feeling really unhappy and irritated with my life or my day.

In contrast, for me, a lull is just a bad day or maybe a bad week, where some of the things I listed above come into play and I am not myself. A lull comes from getting overwhelmed, giving in to my tendency of laziness for more than one day, not spending time with the Lord, not getting out of the house much, a difficult time in my marriage, or not taking care of myself (health, and emotions). A lull goes away quickly and pretty easily. Depression lingers and is very heavy, but can still be overcome.

It is so easy to brush off the signs of depression and ignore it, but it's a serious thing that will be helped by accepting the problem and prayerfully seeking treatment- whether that means you need medicine to balance yourself, or you just need to make yourself better through personal changes. Today I really just wanted to clarify what depression usually looks like and also clearly explain the differences between a lull in the daily grind and serious depression. If you feel you may be depressed, please feel free to email me with any further questions you might have!

 

Fear After A Miscarriage

Around this time last year (at the time of writing this post), I miscarried a baby, whom we named Clementine June. It was a very long, drawn out miscarriage. I found out the baby didn't appear to be growing properly, had to wait two grueling weeks to go back in and get checked, then found out I had for sure miscarried. We waited two more weeks for the miscarriage to happen on its own, then went in to get medicinal aid in starting the miscarriage process. I remember coming home with the bag of suppositories that would tell my body to expel my child, and weeping at the thought. My heart ached like it never has before; it was broken.

Hours after inserting the tablets, it all began, which broke my heart even further. The cramps were like labor contractions, the intense bleeding shocked and scared me. I remember not knowing what to do with what was in the toilet. If I flushed, I felt like I was throwing my baby away. Having been affected by someone's choice to abort their baby in the past, I felt hypocritical and torn. I wanted this baby... how could I just flush her away? My husband held me and helped me cope. He made a Clementine box and saved photos and tiny things that would remind us of our short time with her inside me. Naming that baby helped with closure tremendously. After it was over, God met with me and healed me, a little bit every day. He replaced sorrow with joy, and confusion with peace. I felt so healed and so blessed! People would ask me about it and I was able to respond without anger or tears or resentment.

The months rolled by and the time finally came where Brian and I talked about trying for our next baby. I took longer to be ready, but I finally got there, and became pregnant. I am not going to lie to you or sugar coat this (have I ever??)- I struggled with a lot of fear. It would grip me in the middle of the night, grab hold of my thoughts while I was driving, and send flashes of miscarriage memories throughout the day. I would be changing Hudson's diaper and thinking about going to the gym when all of a sudden I would see myself on the bathroom floor sobbing in blood. The fear was violent, out of control, and intense.

Satan loves to use fear.

Death began to follow and taunt me. A dead animal torn open violently by its prey in front of my house, realistic nightmares of my children dying, violent murders, and tortuous kidnappings came to me nearly every night. After praying and asking God to deliver me from this, He showed me that He had a protective hand on this baby, and that Satan was attacking me instead. And friends, that pissed me off. 

I came at Satan in the name of Jesus Christ whose blood was shed out of love for me and my family. I rebuked him from me, my husband and children, our home, my mind, my sleep... everywhere the Spirit led me to pray. Fear after a miscarriage is natural, but that doesn't mean you can't give it to Jesus and allow Him to replace it with peace- that's what He wants to do! Anxiety and torment is an attack. It is Satan getting into your business and messing with you. How dare he?! Fight back. Do not let him have any part of your life, or take away your hope and joy and peace in a pregnancy.

My next baby appointment came, and it was the final week of the "common miscarriage phase" of pregnancy. My stomach tightened a little when they called my name to go inside, but I felt peace rinse my spirit like cool water. The doctor placed the Doppler machine over my belly, then pulled it away and spoke just what I needed to hear. "You've had a miscarriage before. You need to see your baby." She left and came back with a tiny ultrasound machine, placed the probe on my belly, and there my baby was- heart beating, legs wiggling, thumb in the mouth, little body twisting and turning with joy.

 Thank you, Father. You are good. 

I could lose any of my babies at any time. I could still have a miscarriage, I could have a still birth, one of my live and healthy children could die today. I do not believe that God takes away the possibility of death or loss. I believe a huge part of faith in Him is just that- having faith, no matter what happens. Faith in His existence, faith in His goodness, faith in His faithfulness, and faith in His mighty power over the enemy. Death and loss is only a blow, not defeat. We already know what happens in the end. Choose joy, take peace.

The battle belongs to the Lord.