Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Girls, Girls, Girls

   Wow!  It's been a long time since I've blogged...oh how I've missed these moments to express my thoughts...here's one that's been lingering for awhile...
    In my mind I never thought I wanted girls.  I grew up with two sisters, and although I love them dearly, I wanted boys:)  If you don't already have girls, you're really missing out on all the drama, clothes fits, and, well, a lot of PINK!  Anyway, the last month or so, I've realized the beauty of my girls, and of all of my kids to help me realize that appreciation, it's Savannah (yes, the one who grows me old).   Yes, she is all about dress up and pretend right now, and I'm just loving to watch her in her own little world.  The other day I stood five feet from her for five minutes with a video camera and she didn't even know I was there.  In a mismatch of a dress, skirt, silly hat, and a lei, she prances around the house hauling her grocery cart with baby doll in tow, up and down the stairs, playing a good mix of store, restaurant, house, and beauty salon.  
    The other day I think she spent the entire day in her fairy outfit.  My first thought in looking at her half way through the afternoon was "oh, great, I'm sure their room is a mess and all the dress up is all over the place!"  I started thinking that if I saw a little girl like her in the exact same situation/outfit in a movie I would think it was the cutest thing ever...now why wouldn't that be the initial thought of my own daughter?  I think sometimes as moms, we tend to look at what always needs to be done to keep our house straightened up (I've given up on the word clean).  I often look at playtime/quiet time/pretend time as a time for myself to escape into loads of laundry, catching up on email, or a quick nap (which I have also given up on).  I rarely really take the time to engage into my kids' world of fairy princesses or superheroes (other than buy plenty of dress up or figurines to keep them busy.  Keeping the house up or playing house...which makes me a better wife and mom?  Why do I always feel like I have to choose?  Fortunately, I have a wonderful husband who appreciates and understands the effort I make on either end of these choices, but I struggle with this on a daily basis.  
    Tonight I feel like I made a great choice.  Savannah was uninterested in watching Rudolf and was looking for a playmate.  I had (and still have) a million things to do, but I knew I needed to dive into her world.  She just got a new beauty salon set from my sisters, so I asked her if she wanted to do my hair and nails.  She loved it, and took every opportunity to treat me like a real customer.  She straightened my hair, painted my toes with a variety of colors (with a plastic brush), and put lipstick on my lips (teeth, cheeks, neck, eyes, and any other exposed piece of skin).  I listened to her speak to me and took in each bit of imagination flowing through her mind...amazing.  It was in that time that I realized how much more important it is for me to play house than worry about my own (you'd think it wouldn't have taken me 4 kids to get this down...and maybe I had it once before and forgot--that happens a lot now).  
  I'm learning (slowly, obviously) if I don't meet my kids where they are, and establish solid relationships built on trust and love, regardless of what my house looks like, my kids will never want to be here as they grow older.  As uncomfortable as it may seem to pucker my lips to have my 2 (almost 3) yr. old rub a germ-infested, plastic lipstick all over my mouth, it will be even more uncomfortable to talk to my girls about boys (and all that comes with that), their changing bodies, or how to have a personal relationship with Jesus, if they think I don't understand them or their world...I've realized it's time for me to engage now, and engage fully!
    I see challenging days ahead with three girls (not gonna lie, there's a lot NOT to look forward to).  But, sometimes we ask God for things (like boys) and he doesn't always answer our prayers the way we want him to.  But,  He has still answered them in a way that may take a little longer for us to understand.  In His perfect timing, I'm uncovering the blessings that come in princess dresses and pudding messes!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Where You Go, I'll Go

Wow, I just love listening to Chris Tomlin's worship lately, and the kids love it too!  It's nice to that they enjoy listening to something other than "kid music" sometimes, and that they are actually learning the words.  It also makes for great discussion when I can talk to them about what God is asking of us and how we can honor, worship, and obey Him.
I feel like it's been forever since I've blogged, and it's mostly because this has been a very emotionally draining month.  I wish I could jump on the blog every time my kids make me smile or laugh because that happens daily and is more fun to share, but the last couple weeks have taken a toll on me and many lessons have been learned.  Needless to say, God has had something up his sleeve for me this year, and as we near the end of 2011, I'm slowly catching on:)  
For those of you who don't know, our kids call my mom GoGo...for good reason!  She is always on the move...staying busy with work, helping out with our kids, working out...whatever she's doing, she's always moving!  I'm not sure if it's a great quality all of the time, but I (un?)fortunately have inherited this inability to sit still (unless I'm blogging, of course).  Over the years, I thought this magnificent skill to juggle kids, activities, serving in church, friends, etc...,  was what made me worth something.  If I wasn't feeling productive, I wasn't being "the best I can be" (which is also a famous quote from GoGo...and the Army?).  Anyway, last week I was able to attend MomsNext (like MOPS), and the speaker spoke about solitude.  God knew I needed to be there.  I have basically been struggling this month with God over His desire for me to slow down.  It's great to serve and lead, but I am recognizing that needs to come first in our home.  I have loved homeschooling and I see the potential it has for our children and to be able to teach them about Him, and right now, that's playing second fiddle.  God knew I needed to hear this talk.
Solitude is something I need and have always admired in women who create time for it.   I can't always get solitude with 4 kiddos, but I know I need a slower pace.  I need time to be with Him.  Time to build my relationship so that I can have the strength, love, patience, and passion for the children He has given me to care for...so I can be a reflection of Him for them, so that they might know Him.  In all my busyness, I'm not sure that's what they're seeing.  They may see a Mommy who is serving a church, but they also see the impatient Mommy that hurries them along to get in the van to get there.  One piece of advice from a Mentor Mom that I hear every day in my head is to be the same person at home to your children as you are in front of everyone else.  I am not always living to that standard.  I know a slower pace and setting up some boundaries will be difficult, but long-term, I know this is what is best.  And I also know this is just a season...and seasons are temporary, but necessary.  They allow things/people to grow in order to be ready for the next season....I think God is calling me to a season to be more still and know Him.  Maybe He needs me for something BIG, so He needs me to come out of the game, sit on the bench, and take a breather to brush up on His gameplan.
Another area I have been struggling with this month is my ability to continue to believe I'm a good mom.  I think when we see our children struggle in certain areas, whether it be physical skills, lack of spiritual growth, friendships, etc...we tend to blame ourselves.  It's been tough not to feel like a failure.  When my kids forget to say "please" and "thank you" , are fighting with each other, or disobey, I wonder how I will fix it?  Recently, Aaron (our pastor), spoke about no longer praying for our children just to know who Jesus is and all of "the facts" but to have the Holy Spirit take hold of them.  I have been praying this prayer.  I know I can't fix my children.  I know I can't make them have a relationship with Jesus.  And I know that their growing pains are an opportunity for me to teach them, love them, and point them to Him.  It's hard not to feel like a bad mom at the end of the day when all I've done is give time-out, give correction, or repeat myself 800 times, getting louder each time.  Now, surely in the midst of that there are some good laughs, but by bedtime, I feel like our kids have only seen the Sergeant in me.  I want so bad for them to get "it" (whatever "it" may be for the day), and I really feel like I am sacrificing the emotional and spiritual for the behavioral...my priorities have got to change here....are you there too?
Camden's favorite Chris Tomlin song is "Where You Go, I'll Go"....the other day in the van, I really listened to these words.  I wondered how much of my life I'm trying to control and not really giving it all away to Him and for Him.  For so long, I have found my worth in doing the things of this world,  sometimes even in ministry, and having the I-can-do-it-all mentality.  But I've come to realize, at the end of the day, if I'm not obeying God, it doesn't matter how much I do, and God is the only superhero!  I know He's calling me somewhere, and He's taken me down quite a road these last 6-8 months for me to finally realize that I've known the answer all along and it's simply obedience.  He wants me to follow Him.  To forget about what the world sees as admirable (and what I believed was admirable), and simply obey, and for me, that means that I need to just be with Him.  
I apologize for my transparency today.  I needed to write this out, and it just seems to be easier to type on the blog than to paper/pencil journal.  God has really worked me over this month.  I'm still laughing...Cade makes me laugh and so do the kids, but I feel different.  It's been a long time since I've truly felt the Holy Spirit take hold of me like this.  When we decided I would stay home with Brooklyn 6 years ago, I know the Holy Spirit was working in that...I truly felt his presence.  It's been chilling to me how much I've felt many of those feelings again recently, so I know He is moving in me, and I've been convicted in how I should respond.  Please pray for me and that the discernment I need is clear.  Thanks and love!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

When Parenting Hurts

  I don't know about you, but whenever I used to see a baby (before having my own), I thought parenting was the most marvelous job in the world, and the hardest part would be to get up in the middle of the night, or to teach them to stay away from the stove, or maybe even potty-training.  And although those have been trials, nothing is more painful to parents than watching the sin (we are all born with) rise up in our children.  What is even more dreadful, is knowing that some of that sin is your own sin staring back at you.
  I would prefer getting up every night at 2am over dealing with the tough love of parenting I had to deal with yesterday.  Brooklyn has been planning her first sleepover for her 6th birthday party for the last few weeks.  I will spare you the details, but because of a poor attitude and lack of obedience, I had to cancel the "slumber" part of the party.  Now granted, I wasn't awful and didn't ruin her entire birthday, but it was the most difficult thing to follow through with such a consequence that would obviously hurt her.  I cried (probably more than she did).    
   Before we had Brooklyn we sat through Shepherding a Child's Heart by Ted Tripp.  Many people think the class' focus deals with spanking, but that is only the tip of the iceberg.  The reasoning behind spanking ('cause ya can't spank forever ya know) is knowing that your child's heart is growing toward God.  The purpose of spanking or any other discipline with the correct perspective, should not be to correct simply the behavior, but your child's heart.  That's what I feel like I'm dealing with.  Now really, Brooklyn is a sweet and kind little girl; obedient and loving, and does have a "good" heart.  But, that heart is still growing and learning, and sometimes to do that it is simply required to be broken.  I really want our children to know Jesus, and I think sometimes I've wanted them to see Him and how much He loves them by  how I love them...but I'm realizing that, although we don't spoil our kids, I was trying to earn that love.  I might be buying or doing for them to provide temporary happiness, but their true JOY must come from  HIM alone.  I cannot show them that, convince them of that, or give them that.  It's so tough.
   The part I mentioned before about watching your own sin stare you in the face is scary.  I see the things that frustrate me about our children, and it's mostly the things I struggle with in my own life.  I tell them not to wake up with a negative attitude, but there are surely days I am not the first ray of sunshine they see.  I tell them not to be frustrated and control their emotion, yet there are often times I'm sighing, or giving "the look", or yelling, out of my own anger.  I think I am mad at me because I can't be the person I want to be...you know, the person I've probably identified in previous posts that doesn't exist...but I think I want my kids to be that so they can live a "perfect life".  Newsflash...that doesn't exist either, and neither do perfect kids.  I need to face my own sin, my own faults, and my own emotions, and pray that those would be laid at the foot of the cross so that I can be an example of grace and love to my children.  I'm the adult; the one with a relationship with Christ; the one who knows and understands the power of prayer; I'm their example, and I need to make changes.
   Yesterday I kept telling myself I just wasn't any good at this parenting thing anymore.  I've been blessed with four babies and fortunately am still enjoying little toes, giggles, and a person who doesn't talk, but only smiles at me and favors my touch over anyone else:)  Ahhhh, that parenting I love.  This older kid stuff is making me crazy and I'm trying to locate the equipment God hid somewhere in the house, so I can prepare myself to handle these emotional times and strong will (and she's only turning 6!).  But, the more I had all these thoughts, the more I realized God gave me Brooklyn to grow her and love her.  He gave her to me to teach me more about myself and where I need to grow; He gave her to me because He knew I would know how to love her, how to reach her, and how to help lead her to Him.  I have to believe that.  I have to believe that He has trusted me, and I have to trust in Him and not give up, on Him, or me, and especially not on her.
  Parenting does hurt, but I know it is a marvelous privilege .  I love all of our kids, and I know this is only the beginning of the trials and valleys that lie ahead.  I know it will all be okay...and, of course, a good girl talk, a Starbucks, and a Pumpkin Pie blizzard have all helped ease the pain:)  Have a great weekend!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

It Is Well With Soul

  It is well with my soul (well, at least I'm blogging on one of those days).  We sang this song a couple weeks ago at church and the phrase has just been pouring over my heart and mind ever since.  I don't know if I'm trying to convince myself that it's all good, but I think it really is.  We sang this song the Sunday before Cade and I headed to Washington D.C. for a little getaway.  Getting on a plane and leaving three of our kids can make any mom a nervous wreck...but for so many reasons I felt content (not that I wanted to leave them permanently).  Anyway, singing that song that particular morning just made me smile, and thinking of that phrase on a daily basis continues to encourage me.
  Like any mom, whether you have four kids or one, the daily grind can get overwhelming and discouraging.  Nothing is ever enough, and basically, cleaning the house is like eating an Oreo cookie while brushing your teeth...it's never really gonna get clean!  Kids are whining, the phone is ringing, emails are piling up, and it's 11 A.M. and you haven't even brushed your teeth (oh, let's get honest, there's days if I don't have to go out that my teeth don't get brushed or a shower doesn't happen 'til after lunch!).  But, even in the midst of all of this chaos, I've realized that deep down it IS well with my soul.  If all of it was gone, I would be incomplete.  So much joy comes from being a mom and a wife, and a friend, and a leader, and a neighbor, and a sister and daughter, and a woman.  All of these roles, although pulling from many directions at times, is such an honor.  It is such a privilege from God that He has given me an opportunity to live out these roles so that I might know this joy and feel complete and know that He has given all of these people and this beautiful life because He loves me.  Quite honestly, it's overwhelmingly humbling.  
  Life has a way of getting in the way of knowing God.  Sometimes it's hard to know that God has all things designed to give our lives hope and a future, and to make good things even in the midst of our struggles.  It's hard to see that it is well with our soul all of the time because we find ourselves so wrapped up in whether it is well with our bank account, our kids' behavior, our marriage, our career/household, etc...that we equate that to whether it can be well with our soul....but really, they don't have anything to do with each other.  Trust me, there's a lot of things I don't have together, and many flaws that hide even deep in the pit of my gut, but it is well with my soul because I know it is Him alone who gives me life and joy and covers me with His love.  It is more than I could ever ask for.  Therefore, on days when things don't seem to be going my way, worshiping Him is one thing that brings me back to Him and know that He is in control; and as long as I'm good with Him, everything else will fall into place (eventually!).  Who doesn't love getting out of the house and driving ALONE (ok, well, that is a praise by itself) and just turning up a Chris Tomlin worship song and belting it out in the car?  C'mon, I know I'm not the only one!
   Ok, enough from my insighful soapbox.  Some of you have asked how homeschooling has been going.  Here's an update:  Fortunately, Brooklyn is a very eager and quick learner.  She looks forward to most of her schoolwork and we tend to work pretty quickly.  It definitely gives us some structure to our day.  She has learned about seven cursive letters so far and is even starting to string some of the letters together to form words.  We've been reading a lot!  Nothing too "academic".  We love reading Junie B. Jones...she is a funny gal and Brooklyn loves to listen to the stories, and I love to read them!  She's like a Ramona little girl and she's in Kindergarten, which makes it very easy to relate to a lot of her dilemmas:)  Brookyn's reading and writing a lot on her own too...I'm amazed at everything she picks up and is trying on her own.  She's making great strides in her math work too.  I'm slowly coming a long with a curriculum I'm trying with Camden and Savannah.  They enjoy learning too and some things we all do together, but they've got their own thing too....it's all been fun.  
   MOPS has been going well this year.  I'm so amazed at all of the amazing leadership I work with in MOPS.  Seriously, each of these women bring so much to the table....whether it's their love for people, prayer, the Word, mentoring, etc...these ladies ROCK!   I am sooooo thankful simply to know each of them, and even more blessed to work with them in ministry.  
  Finally, Cade and I took our 10 yr. anniversary trip to Washington D.C.  We took Ellie with us, so it wasn't necessarily a break...and we walked hours each day, so it wasn't necessarily restful...but hey, we were away!  It wasn't a destination I'd choose again for a re-energizing getaway, but under the circumstances of having a baby, it worked for us and we did have a great time.  It was a wonderful time to reconnect, laugh aloud at each other's jokes (and we laugh a lot...even when we're only funny to each other!), and create special memories.  I am grateful to know that it doesn't take too much for me to realize what a great man I have married.  Although I'd never pass up a good "woo", the little things Cade does for me, mean so much.  He still opens doors (and the cardoor) for me first, he does the dishes without me asking, he makes our bed in the morning, he plays with the kids, changes diapers, and so much more...I even got flowers just the other day for no reason at all!  Each morning I roll out of bed, even if, as we call it in our house, I'm "grumpy pants", he still finds ways to love me and serve me....I don't always deserve it. 
  This week, Aaron (our pastor) has challenged us to serve one another.  If it is well with my soul, and the circumstances I have written about above have been any indication as to how God is blessing my life, I will surely be finding ways to humble myself and serve my family, friends, my church, and the people I come in contact with this week.  I challenge you do to the same.  God bless and take care!

Friday, September 9, 2011

I Have Confidence...Sometimes

  The theme running through my mind these days and with other women in recent weeks seems to be that of confidence.  Why is it that as women we are constantly doubting ourselves...our abilities, the way we look, the way we are raising our children, decisions that need to be made, etc...  Maybe that's not you, but it's something I've struggled with lately.  
  I have been homeschooling now for three weeks.  Even though I'm enjoying it, and am loving watching Brooklyn and those "I get it" moments, I can't help but lack that confidence that I've made the right decision.  Did I choose the right curriculum?  Are we on track?  Should she be in a school building?  The questions are always pouring in.  However, I've learned through this process that we made this decision over time...we listened to God and were led to this plan for our family.  It may only be in His plan for the next year, or five years, but I have to remain most confident in my trust in Him and that He is speaking to us in many avenues.  Doors of opportunity to continue to open, therefore, I AM CONFIDENT!
  In contrast, as I mentioned in a previous post, I continue to lack confidence in my appearance.  Yes, I know I just had a baby (but that excuse is slowly wearing away the older she gets!), but I have friends that did too and they're already in their skinny jeans!  I know we were all made different, but I just feel like I carry less confidence in myself every time it's time to get dressed.  I dread the mirror and what it's telling me.  However, I'm learning that I'm allowing myself to believe the mirror and not believe in the God who created me in His love and in His image.  I know God looks at my heart and the gifts I have to offer the world...only I'm having trouble fully giving those away because the mirror is stealing that from me.  I NEED CONFIDENCE!
  Every day God is giving me choices to allow Him to lead with His plan, or for the world and my deceiving mind to take control.  Unfortunately, I find myself failing as the opinions of others cloud my mind.  Our pastor spoke about this last Sunday, and I knew God was using that message to speak to me.  I've had several conversations this week to confirm that...I've spoken with other women to confirm that they struggle with the same issues.  So, I write about these things, not in hopes that I have others to "suffer" with me, but so we can encourage one another in understanding that we are beautiful people...people who have gifts from God to share...to help each other realize that God wants to use us despite the clouded lens we look through.   We need one another for that reminder that it's not about your pants size, whether you send your kid to preschool, you choose to homeschool/private school/public school, you do/don't crafts with your kids, you choose to/not to workout, you lead a Bible Study or you're you only attend, or whatever struggle your facing with lack of confidence about yourself as mom, wife, or woman.  Find someone this week and be transparent with them...tell them where you're weak; a concern in your life where you're not confident, and work together to see how God is working there; what is He teaching you?; and what will it take for you to find confidence in Him.   
 I feel like I'm just throwing up my thoughts tonight.  I want to be more confident...I even keep singing that song "I Have Confidence" from The Sound of Music.  As much as that helps, I'm still going to count on hearing God speak into my life for His leading.  When I follow Him there's not need to doubt the decisions we make or the person I am.  Take care.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

I love Moms!

  We are right around the corner from a new MOPS year.  I am so excited to be a part of another wonderful leadership team.  Each woman brings so many unique gifts to the table to offer.  I must say that I am so blessed to be around creative geniuses, couponing queens, discount divas, prayer warriors, and mentor moms---all who have touched me and helped me to learn and grow as a mom, wife, and woman. 
  I think moms are the coolest people around...really!  I know we can also be the most stressed and the least made-up (with our hair pulled back, no make-up, and clothes that hide whatever muffin top some of us still have), but we can also be the most fun and most real (when we choose to anyway).  I always look forward to my time at MOPS.  I consider myself to be pretty open and transparent about the things I struggle with and the mistakes I've made as a mom.  Who knew there would be a whole meeting where I could share all of these things with other moms?  I love it!  I love sharing these mishaps (and the good mom stuff too) with moms because whether you're a mom of 1 or 4 or 7, you're a mom who will make mistakes...no mom is perfect.  I know there are moms out there that I put on a pedestal and I shouldn't.  She has off days too...days that her kids cry at the store, they don't listen and obey, and days that she questions, "Are these kids really mine?"   
  When I first became pregnant with Brooklyn, I started reading (mom/new parent books)...and then I stopped!  Everyone and everything in those books were giving me a complex.  I learned and continue to learn most of my mothering from watching other moms and asking questions.  That's why I love to share with moms.  The only way we can learn and grow in this area is to be truly real with one another.  To know that we all fail on a daily basis...sure, we all want to be that mom who breaks out her perfect picnic basket at the playdate full of sandwiches that include lettuce, carrots that our kids will eat with out ranch, and an entire fruit tray...but, I know I'm not.  I'm lucky to get my kids to engage in eating a 1/2 of a sandwich with peanut butter and some kind of fruit, but surely we know they simply are choking it down to get the chips and chocolate chip cookie they know I brought!  
  Unfortunately, our life isn't the Brady Bunch where things resolve themselves quickly, and everyone, including Alice (who has an Alice these days anyway?), is just a happy camper.  We sure have an Oscar the Grouch around here every day, and sometimes it's even me.  There just isn't a perfect family, a perfect mom, or perfect kids.  For some reasons I still find myself with the expectation that this will happen, but each time I'm disappointed.  For instance, in my mind, when we started homeschooling, I was certain that we would gather at the table each morning and do a family devotion, say the pledge, read our verse, do the calendar and weather, and the kids would work wonderfully and diligently as I taught them new things each day...REALITY:  Brooklyn and I are able to complete her schoolwork successfully, but there are times I'm holding Ellie while teaching, we've only said the pledge 3-4 times in the last 2 weeks, we've only done 2 family devotions, and I encourage T.V. watching, Wii playing, and computer time for Camden and Savannah just so I can get the work done!  Now, that to say, I have loved homeschooling and I know over time we will all adjust and I can make our time and schedule more productive and efficient as we move forward, but I had to jump in with two feet and try before I could make those adjustments and learn where our weaknesses were. 
  Anyway, back to MOPS...Two years ago, a MOPS speaker challenged us to find our passion.  I really thought about that...hard.  Of course, my family is my passion, but outside of that I realized that I loved moms.  I love spending time with other moms, encouraging other moms, and helping moms to realize they are not alone in this journey (it's kind of like No Child Left Behind...No Mom Left Behind).  When I first had Brooklyn, I did feel alone.  I thought I was the only one whose baby didn't sleep well, or the only mom who found she couldn't breastfeed.   Little thoughts like that can drive a woman crazy...no woman really wants to be alone...I mean, don't get me wrong, I love to be alone (in peace and quiet), but not alone too long with my thoughts, because I know I can drag myself down to believing I'm not good enough.  
  As usual, I think this post has been all over the place, but I am so excited that MOPS begins this next week.  I would encourage all moms to find other moms to get together with...it doesn't have to be MOPS...it can be with your neighbors, church friends, etc..., but don't be alone.  Don't be afraid of that "perfect mom" you see walking in the grocery with her kids waddling quietly behind her, not knocking anything off the shelves (she surely drugged them or threatened their life before they left the van)....that mom doesn't exist.  And if you're reading this and you need a mom friend, let me know, and we'll schedule a playdate!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Feeling a little Gray

  Well, it's so quiet tonight at the house, I thought it would be a good time to blog!  My days with Savannah seem never-ending with these terrible 2's.  My other kids were not like her...let's just say she has her own sense of "spunk".  Cade assures me she will one day be a very fun kid...I look very forward to that day because right now she is just a hot mess.  I spend most of my days just putting out her fires and cleaning up her messes! 
  Brooklyn and I have been getting along well as we've started homeschooling this week.  She is really trying hard and it's fun to watch her learn and process her work.  I know one day she'll be out doing it on her own, but I love watching her confidence build and knowing that I am affirming her.  Tonight I really got a glimpse that my once-baby is growing up...she lost her first tooth!  I watcher her wiggle it, twist it, and the pull that sucker right out.  I have never seen her so excited...it's a joy God gives us to see our children beam with happiness...what a gift:)
  So what's really been on my mind?  Well, the Goodwill commercial...I am THAT lady who is throwing her clothes out...my line, "Well, that fit...4 babies ago!  This body will never be the same."  I've realized most recently while doing the laundry that I sure do wear a lot of gray...and I think it's actually a reflection of how I've been feeling about myself.  Now, I know I'm not obese and I just had a baby coming on 10 wks. ago, but my body image and self-esteem are struggling.  I really worry that the confidence I once had will never  return.  It has made it hard to feel like myself and feel comfortable being around other people.  In all honesty (because you know I'm honest here), my body image consumes me and has for many years.  I mean, it's the first thing I see in the morning and the last thing I see at night.  It's what I notice about other people.  I sometimes secretly wish my tiny friends would eat a few more burgers, but mostly I just long to know the secrets God gave their metabolism since He seemed to skip over mine...or did He? 
  It's no lie that God created all of us in His image, so why do I struggle with this acceptance?  Cade loves me and has never given me any reason to believe he doesn't have eyes for me; my kids love me and see me as Mom, not a marshmellow (oh, and Camden hasn't asked me anymore when the baby will come out of my belly again).  I know my body, although less than stellar now, was intended to bear life to four marvelous miracles.  I know that it has carried them, nourished them, and well, we won't say held them to term because that just wouldn't be true...but this bod's earned a good B+ for her effort!  My body has had the strength to push them out and then heal from all that trauma. God made a woman's body special...if I could only see it in the mirror.
  I know some of you don't struggle with this, but maybe it's not about your weight, but something else.  There's surely something in all of us that we fail to see as beautiful.  I'm working hard mentally, emotionally, and spiritually to accept who I am.  You'd think by 32 I would know this.  It's an insecurity I've carried as a burden for many years.  I'm getting vulnerable with you so that you know you're not alone.  I think some people look at other women and think, "Wow, she's got it all together."  I've done that, and I've also learned that there is no perfect woman.  God gives us all our little "hang up"...I'm trying to understand how to handle it (and others I'll take up with God later)?
   There's something in me that longs to feel comfortable in my own skin and to be all God has intended for me to be.  I'm really feeling guilty through much of this though because God definitely doesn't look at anything but the heart.  Unfortunately sometimes I have heart failure.  I've let my outside determine my inside, which in turn, has kept me back from fully using the gifts He's given me.  I have a goal  now though and have been getting back into the groove of exercising and making a point to be healthy and strong for our children, and so I let God see that He made me more than a body, but a woman with a passion to serve people.  I know I can do it, and whatever your "hang up" is, you can overcome it too:)
Beautiful by Bethany Dillon  (song)