Things have been a little quiet around the blog lately.
Which of course is always a complete opposite representation of what is going on in real life. The busier life gets = the quieter the blog. And that's o.k.
Mom was out here the past four days and we helped my sister's family move. We also got together a lot and so of course there were meals to be made and laundry to be done and little girls that never got naps and seemed perpetually at odds with the world.
I started babysitting for someone from church two days a week and cleaning the mill where Randy works to make a little extra money. So suddenly 3 of my normally "not-so-busy" days are now busy. And it is good, and I am thankful for the opportunities, but it sure makes the week fill up fast, and this belly just keep right on growing and demanding its own resources of time and energy too.
But perhaps the most exhausting of all, has not been the dishes or the mopping or the folding of clothes or pregnancy aches and pains and settling toddler disputes....rather it has been feeling completely drained in that unique way that has nothing to do with busy schedules and pregnancy but everything to do with a deeper weariness.
A heaviness of heart and mind.
Lately it feels as if I have been losing an uphill battle against legalism and judgment and a spirit of criticism, and nothing knocks me flat on my face faster than feeling like the enemy always, always gets the last word.
Words fly like arrows, piercing the strongest shields and burrowing deep....hitting their mark and leaving their scars. And I wish I could say that I am only ever the victim, and never the bowman, but unfortunately that wouldn't be true either.
And this wild notion and inconceivable concept of grace and forgiveness and unconditional love sounds so glorious on paper but feels so impossible in reality. We hear a sermon that moves us and read Truth that stirs us and we nod our heads and say, "Yes, Jesus, yes. Without love we are nothing."
And then we step foot out our front doors and set forth on a war path, leaving bodies in our wake.
When will it end? When will it be enough? When will there have been enough debate, judgment, condemnation and reproach? When can it just be finished?
Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause against an ungodly people, from the deceitful and unjust man deliver me!
For you are the God in whom I take refuge; why have you rejected me?
Why do I go about mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?
Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling!
Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God.
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.
Each year whenever Christmas time rolls around, I find myself wanting to give the girls something I've actually made. Something I've poured my sweat, tears and time into, rather than just another annoying trinket from the mall. Something they might actually want to give THEIR children someday.
And so this year, my husband and I (mostly Randy, let's be honest) made them a dollhouse. And yes, I am just now getting around to posting some pictures of it. Mid-February isn't that far from Christmas, right??
I thought briefly about making a tutorial of some kind, but let's be honest, it was pretty simple. We just looked around on Pinterest for a tutorial that we liked (and there are tons) and we ended up using this one. I loved it. Simple and basic and easy-to-follow, it was just what we were looking for in our girls' dollhouse.
The Big Reveal wasn't as climactic as I'd hoped it would be, but that was mostly due to a certain Mommy being too caught up in the hustle and bustle and whirlwind of Christmas activities to make sure it was covered up before shooing her kids out to the car in the garage. And so they saw it in several stages of completion. *covers face* But I like to think that the final product with furniture and everything was still a surprise! Or at least they still treated it like a pretty cool present. So, everyone wins.
I looked all over (and I do mean ALL over) online AND in stores for furniture that I liked, and couldn't find anything because I am too picky. But then I finally found these on Amazon, and I was sold. The only problem? Not enough. So I need to purchase some more, or just keep adding individual pieces to the house gradually as birthdays and other special events come along.
It still has some work to be done. I need to mod podge all the wallpaper, (and change some of it while I'm at it, because I love the bright colors and the neutral ones seem too bland) and add more little details like rugs and mirrors and art, but that will all come in time. My FAVORITE part of the whole process was most definitely making the little family......
Remind you of anyone? ;) I wasn't really thrilled with any of the options I was finding online, and so I just decided to make my own, wooden peg little family. The only problem is now it is already outdated and needs a little babe. Or at least a big ol' bump on the mama. Ha.
What are some handmade goodies you are loving right now? I would love to hear! Etsy shops, small businesses online, etc. Leave a link in the comments so I can see what's inspiring you lately!
Usually for Valentines Day, Randy and I always love being able to get away on a date, just the two of us, and take some time to re-connect. And I think even after kids come along (make that ESPECIALLY after kids come along) it is still very important to do so. How sad would that be if we let life and all its priorities crowd in until there wasn't much room left for us? Pretty sad.
But we really enjoy spending time together as a family too, and why should it always have to be one or the other? So this year, we decided to try both. And it was just about perfect. Friday night was spent together as a family, and Saturday was our turn to go out alone. Win/win.
It certainly took some time getting ready, baths and showers and hair and painting three sets of nails and toenails, but it was so worth it. The girls wore their new dresses from Grandma and I even allowed them to wear a little bit of pink lipstick, it being such a special occasion and all.
Charlotte excitedly began putting on her shoes and coat and was SO disappointed when she realized we were just staying home. She was just sure that after all that fuss we must be going somewhere very important and exciting. And can you blame her? We certainly are not in the habit of fine dining around here like the Granthams or anything.
But she quickly warmed up to the idea of a "fancy night in" and we set the table and dug in. Grilled lamb chops, spinach stuffed ravioli, Red Lobster biscuits, shrimp cocktail and green beans were on the menu, and even the girls got to enjoy sparkling cider from their fancy goblets.
They may as well have been Cinderella at the ball.
It will always be one of my favorite Valentine memories.
Just my two little ladies, my handsome man, and a tiny little babe kicking and squirming inside, just to let me know he/she liked the pork chops and didn't want to be forgotten. And those roses? Well, you should have seen their faces when their daddy presented them each with one of their own.
Lately Jocelyn has been on this kick of wanting to get married. I wasn't sure where that came from, but with a little prodding it seems she just really wants to be able to go on dates with someone. Oh and have babies in her tummy. And be treated special like her daddy treats her mama.
Totally heart-melting, in my humble opinion.
Here's hoping all of your Valentines' Days were special and unique and memory-making.
I get it.
It's that Valentine-y time of the year again, and you're feeling the pressure. Whoever thought that only guys felt the pressure of Valentines Day obviously never took a survey of any new moms.
You know you should be wanting to go on that date. Wanting an excuse to dig those heels out of the closet and head out for a night on the town. But all you really, truly want to do is throw on a pair of sweats and shoo all of the kids into bed so you can sit down on the couch with some chocolate and watch an overly-emotional Parenthood finale re-run.
I get it because I was there. Not all that long ago.
I was in the thick of nursing and newborns and getting-up-every-few-hours and diapers and laundry and messes that seemed to reproduce at night, and going on a fancy date seemed as appealing as scratching my eyeballs out with steel wool.
It just felt like I was never going to want to date again.
But before the kids and the strollers and the nighttime feedings.....things were different. Before we ever walked down that aisle on that beautiful April day, said our vows and began procreating, I loved dating.
My husband was definitely "one of those guys". Always coming up with the most creative, romantic, unique, fun, amazing dates. We went on scavenger hunts, hikes, bike rides and walks along the beach. We enjoyed plays and comedians and picnics by waterfalls. We drank coffee and browsed bookstores and ate at lovely restaurants that made me feel much classier than I actually am. He surprised me endlessly with flowers and chocolates and special little gifts and everything felt a little bit like a fairytale.
And getting ready was one of the best parts. The evening never seemed to arrive fast enough as I deliberated over outfits spread all over my room. I fussed with my hair and makeup, spraying perfume and trying on shoes and hoping to get everything just right. And then....that giddy little feeling when you see his car pull into the drive! He was here! And you were going out! And all was right with the world.
Don't get me wrong, it's not that after marrying him and bearing him children that I loved him any less. In fact, I'm more and more certain with each passing year that I love him MORE.
But there is still no way around the fact that when you have been wiping spit up off of your shoulder and vacuuming up Cheerios and stumbling around in your sleep-deprived, zombie-like state all day.....dating loses some of its appeal.
Suddenly a "night-in" doesn't sound anything remotely like "giving up" like I used to think it meant. It just sounds like a divine appointment with your over-sized sweat shirt and yoga pants and a sexy back massage. Which to a postpartum woman is pretty much as fancy as you would ever want to get anyway.
And so I guess I say all this to say.......take it easy on yourself.
If you choose to stay home? You're not a failure. Your marriage isn't doomed. You're not becoming "one of those moms" you never said you would become. It's OK. It's a fleeting stage, and it will pass. I know because it changed for me. And dates sound wonderful and delightful and enticing again, and I even like wearing heels! So those days will come sooner than you think. This time of newborns? Of feeling like a milk machine and auto-pilot robot? It won't last forever. And so cut yourself some slack, and stay home if you have to. You will look forward to dating again, I promise.
And if you choose to go out? Good for you! Bravo. You've done yourself a favor, even if it doesn't feel like it. It really is so important to carve out that "you-and-me time" with your man, even when a baby is sucking your every resource dry. You might be checking your phone every 15 minutes to make sure that baby is OK, or worried about leaking through your brand-new dress, but everything is going to be fine. No one is judging you if you try your best to relax and enjoy yourself but find yourself wanting to cry half of the time. HORMONES ARE REAL.
So just take a deep breath and realize that fancy date or not, it's going to be OK. You still love each other, you have a beautiful life, and life is too short to freak out over a different phase. Each phase is fleeting, and beautiful in its own uniquely different, and sometimes difficult, ways.
We aren't all giddy, dating singles.
We aren't all glowing, blushing newlyweds.
But we still LOVE. Deeply, passionately, tenderly. We balance budgets and pay mortgages and step on Legos and find fruit snacks in our purse, but we are still lovers. We are best friends and companions and help-meets and spouses and MEANT FOR EACH OTHER. And nothing changes that. Even if date nights change.
Inspiration for this post was found from a picture about date night by Angi Martin on Instagram.
We all have deep-seated insecurities.
They may vary greatly in form and type, but they are there nonetheless. And I know all too well how it feels to live in an atmosphere wherein a HUGE emphasis is placed on performance, works, productivity and appearance. Everything else becomes secondary. This results in weighty self-consciousness to an unbearable degree.
"Am I doing it right?"
"Am I good enough?"
"I should just try harder."
"I NEED to work on this in my life."
"If only I could just _________."
"I need to get better at _______."
And the list goes on and on and on.
It seems there are always a hundred different ways to be "wrong" and it is highly likely that you could possibly be doing something wrong without even knowing it. So, you are constantly on high-alert....guarded and watching and wondering and hoping that you are hitting the mark. All the while inwardly doubting that you are.
Lately, I feel like I've been given a taste, just a NIBBLE really, of what it truly means to find my identity in Christ. To find freedom in Him. To live under grace.
And my vision blurs and my head starts spinning because my entire life I have been so programmed to focus on myself rather than focus on the person of Jesus Christ. Although I can't even begin to claim that I have "arrived" or that I have figured it all out, I am hungry to. Needy, thirsty, and maybe even a little bit desperate, to learn more about what it means to be justified by faith in Christ.
"For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." - Colossians 1:13-14
"Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death." -Romans 8:1-2
"After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you." -1 Peter 5:10
"Nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified." - Galations 2:16
And now it's your turn....do you deal with insecurity? How do you combat that by running to the cross? What are some verses/books that have breathed life into you lately? I'd love to hear!
*SIDE NOTE* I was humbled and honored to be featured recently over here at Embellish Productions. Such an amazing feeling when something you write resonates with/encourages/speaks life into someone! That is my deepest desire and aspiration for this little blog.