Stumbling upon joy

 Some days joy is hard to come by and I find myself searching and searching and searching… The other day I ran into the grocery store to get eggs while Abe and Scarlett waited patiently at the book store around the corner. I found, what I thought, was the most amazing deal on eggs and gave myself a pat on the back. On our way home, I told Abe about that “awesome” deal I got on those eggs, when he informed me that I actually paid a dollar more an got less eggs than usual. I roll my eyes in frustation with myself, there  are those C’s I got in math class coming back to haunt me. As we get home and I’m unloading the car, I drop the bag full of eggs. Wonderful! Three dozen eggs cracked and splattered all over our driveway… Those eggs just got a whole lot more expensive… I picked up the bag and hurried inside to try and salvage what I could. As I am rinsing the eggs that aren’t currently being scrambled on my driveway, I notice an odd cold sensation on my foot. Thinking that it’s just some water from the counter full of wet, freshly rinsed eggs, I continue. Until I notice a lovely bright orange substance all over my countertop. Even better, the bag I carried the eggs in with has a hole and I now have an egg covered countertop, floor and foot. “Can this day just be over?!”, I mumble to myself as Scarlett wales in the background because I won’t let her have a pen that dropped from the counter in the hysteria of the egg debacle. No, a crying toddler, broken eggs and a sticky counter top and floor aren’t the end of the world but sometimes it sure does feel like it.

“Joy is the echo of God’s life within us.” 

Joseph Marmion

 Joy is one of the main reasons I started this blog, I find myself wondering on a regular basis where do I find my joy. I was listening to the radio and that was a question one of the djs IMG_5440asked the other. As I listened to their responses I though to myself where does my joy come from, the Lord? Well, yes of course! I most definitely find my deepest most fulfilling joy from the Lord but where else in my life do I seek it out and find it? I just didn’t know, I couldn’t pin point anything really that made me joyful down deep To my soul. I know where my daughter’s joy is, it’s in eating freshly popped popcorn or watching a Peppa Pig episode she’s seen too many times to count, playing in grandma’s waterfall and throwing rocks or in getting to take a swig of Daddy’s big cup full of chocolate milk. I know where Abe’s joy is, it’s in going to the gym and makingIMG_5452
Scarlett giggle so hard she squeals or in accomplishing an awesome new task at work or making me grin from ear to ear with a sweet, thoughtful gesture. I often find myself wondering where my joy is, what is it that makes me smile and brings out the best in me. While I love to cook and scrounge around a thrift store or eat the freshly harvested vegetables out of my garden, yes, those things make make me happy but those things don’t bring me joy. Not the kind of joy you feel down in your soul anyway. It finally hit me though, today as I was watching  Scarlett eat peaches and run through the puddles in the driveway after it rained;
it was in her eyes and her smile. That is what brought me that deep meaningful joy. I find my joy in people, the people I love. It’s in Abe’s smile when he’s at the gym or when he tells me how great it feels to accomplish something amazing at work; it’s in Scarlett’s eyes when she’s eating that popcorn or drinking that milk or running from the “tickle monster” and jumping on the bed. Sometimes my joy isn’t in something tangible but rather something not always seen until I really take in a moment.

IMG_5448In the day to day run around I so often forget to just take in the little moments in life. It’s so easy to forget what truly matters and what’s truly worthy of my joy. A clean house is nice but Scarlett’s giggle is so much nicer. Slowing down and learning to embrace life as it comes is something I’m not always good at. I wish I would’ve laughed at those broken eggs or picked up my frustrated daughter and made her smile. Those are moments I can’t do over, no matter how much I wish I could. Life is full of broken egg moments. Finding the joy isn’t always easy but if I look close enough and listen hard enough I know I’ll be able to find it.

 

Count it all JOY, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 

James 1:2-3

Embracing Change

 

 

IMG_5470If there’s only one thing in life you can count on it’s change. In my short 24 years of life I have experienced quite a lot of change. Marriage and motherhood introduced me to more than I ever thought it would in a VERY short amount of time. From getting engaged and moving almost a thousand miles away from home, eight hundred and eighty-five to be exact, to buying a house, getting married, then pregnant, having Scarlett and moving across country two more times all in a matter of  two years. The past three and a half years of my life have been a whirlwind. I always thought myself to be great at embracing change with open arms, that was until I had Scarlett and got a taste of an entirely new set of changes.

Almost immediately after I found out I was pregnant, I started reading books, blogs, articles and anything I could get a hold of. I wanted to be prepared, to know what to expect. I just knew I would have it all figured out by the time she made her grand entrance into this wild world we live in. Boy, was I wrong! In some ways I am glad I was because really, what twenty-two year old knows it all? I can assure you I didn’t. After Scarlett arrived I found myself experiencing a change in my heart, I was scared, nervous and so in love, more in love than I had ever been in my life. Becoming a mom and loving someone more than myself was a wonderful change and it’s one I would do over and over again. Some of the change Scarlett brought hasn’t always been so easy and wonderful. From hormonal shifts after giving birth then again after I stopped breastfeeding to changes in routines, schedules and everything in between. My world revolved around my new precious girl. Everyone always talks about the hormones and what to do when or if you start to feel off or if you start to experience PPD and how to get help and of course everyone talks about the “baby weight” and changes your body goes though. The one thing they don’t talk about though, is the feelings that come along with those changes in your body. No one tells you how to feel better about your new normal body or how to deal with them in a positive way. At least, no one I know… You hear the usual, just eat better and exercise or that spare tire will go away, it just takes time. Well, I’ve been waiting two years and it’s still here!!!

For the greater part of 21 years, I didn’t struggle with my weight and I was confident for the most part. I was always tiny and it was almost part of my identity and I didn’t realize it until I no longer was. After having Scarlett I went from a zero to a size four knocking on six’s door. I do not think by any means a four or six is “big” nor do I think I am overweight, what I am saying is it was a change. A pretty drastic change for me, none of my clothing fit me or looked good and I no longer felt confident or good May17-26-2017 793about myself. It didn’t help that I was sleep deprived for the greater part of the first year of life as a mom. I was really upset about a lot of my new self for a long time and sometimes felt lost in my own body, like visitor in someone else’s skin. Stretch mark scars and wider hips were uncharted territory for me. I just knew that I would be one of those moms who worked out and ate healthy and got back to her pre-baby weight in no time, after all I loved all of those things before I had Scarlett. The gym was like a second home to Abe and I in our pre-parenting days, so why wouldn’t it still be afterwards? Well, because being a new parent is HARD, really hard and tiring, VERY tiring. I soon realized a nap sounded better than a great workout and a chocolate chip cookie sounded better than a carrot stick.. Food that was easy and not always the most nutritious became my norm, let’s face it sometimes cooking just sounds dreadful! Yes, my waistline has grown but so has my happiness.

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Having a daughter is amazing and I would trade her any day for my size zero pants but it still doesn’t make my new normal any easier to accept some days, especially when I can no longer fit into my favorite pants.  I don’t care what anyone says, gaining weight does take a mental tole on you. It made me feel gross and what made it harder was my serious lack of motivation to workout or eat better. Being a mom can be busy and sometimes making a healthy meal just doesn’t fit into the schedule, grabbing something quick is more in line with the daily agenda. Working out, oh man, a phrase I have come to despise… No, when Abe gets home most days working out is the absolute last thing on my mind. Then one day I actually purchased something May17-26-2017 785that fit my new body and I felt surprised at how great I thought I looked.  Later that day it got me thinking, what if I just decide to be happy with my new body? What if I learn to just embrace the change that has come and to love myself inside and out? Why do I have to try to be the size I was before Scarlett? After having Scarlett and realizing how amazing it is that I produced another human being with my body. I gave life to another and I’m worried that my body doesn’t look the same? I know there are so many women who would love to be in these shoes, who wish so desperately to have a baby and baby weight and all the messy things that go along with it. I feel so blessed that God allowed me to give birth to Scarlett and that my body was able to produce life. It suddenly feels so silly to worry about something as superficial as how much I weigh. I decided to love my body and all it has been able to accomplish so far instead of being uncomfortable in the aftermath.  So here I am doing just that.

The world tells us that when our dress size goes up it’s a horrible thing but why does it have to be? Who cares if I am a zero or a six or even a sixteen for that matter? Turns out no one but myself. The saying, we are our own worst critic is so true. No one is going to love me more if I have rock hard abs as opposed to my lovely spare tire, no one is going to think I am a better person because my legs don’t jiggle when I walk and no one will notice that pimple on my chin or my lovely new stray grays that hang around my hairline. People are going to love me because of the person I am on the inside. I am actually so glad I am no longer a size zero. It has made me a better person and less shallow or focused on the superficial. It may sound crazy but it made me really look at myself on the inside and realize my heart also needed some changing. I shouldn’t hate the way my body looks or put so much emphasis on my dress size. I am not a dress size, that does not define me. Just because the world tells me it does, doesn’t make it anymore true. I want to work out because I love my body and want to take care of it, not because I hate the way it looks. I don’t want my dress size to be a part of my identity, that’s shallow and sad in my mind that it ever was. I want to teach my daughter that the way she looks or how much she weighs doesn’t define her and that the world’s idea of perfect is a lie. And to also EAT the piece of cake, to grab life by the horns and show it who’s boss! I want her to live life on her terms with Christ as the center. If I want to teach her all of those things I have to lead by example, I can’t merely tell her, I have to show her. Show her that her momma loves her body, all of the scars, rolls, stretch marks, bumps and lumps, all of it.

Every.

Single.

Inch.

I know this is said all the time but I believe it now more than ever, we as women need to be a voice of positivity and speak it loudly to our daughters. Wether it be about loving their bodies, their  quirks, their flaws or simply themselves. We have to do it by taking the lead and showing them how it is done, my journey this far hasn’t been easy and I’m sure it won’t happen over night but I do know one thing it will be worth it. So here I am change, ready to embrace you with open arms.

“Just when the caterpillar  thought the world was over, he became a butterfly”

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Therefor, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, and the new is here! 

2 Corinthians 5:17

 

Photo credit: Chelsea Hoying of Momma’s Gonna Snap Photography

Com•par•i•son: the thief of joy

“A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it. It just blooms”

Zin Shin

 As I scroll through my Facebook and istagram feeds, I see friends and family who seemingly have it all together. Pretty houses decorated like the inside of a southern living magazine, kids dressed in the best clothing, dinners that probably taste as good as they look, the latest gadgets and good looks to top it all off.

Here I am, my mismatched home decor, my daughter dresses in hand me downs, dinners that while they are tasty don’t always look pretty, I have an old cracked iPhone 5 and most of the time I feel like a disheveled mess. I may not have it all together but what I do have is so much better than that. I have all of the things that I need and I am happy. I don’t do those fun little crafts with my daughter, we aren’t always painting this or making paper mache that. I don’t cut her sandwiches into hearts and dinosaurs or make her grapes into adorable little caterpillars. Most days I’m lucky if I can get her to eat a grape, let a lone one that, heaven forbid, looks like a bug! Let’s face it most days I’m just happy she eats lunch and doesn’t get into my makeup drawer and smear lipstick on every surface or spill milk from one end of the house to the other. I find myself wishing I wasn’t such a boring mom or wondering why my friends always do SO many fun things with their kids (is the library really fun with a two-year old?) and I’m here at home just praying for a day without a tantrum. As a new-ish mother, I’ve noticed how I’m constantly feeling guilty that I haven’t done all these fun things with Scarlett or taught her how to do this and that, but why? Why should I feel guilty if I let her eat an entire bag of cheese puffs because she wouldn’t eat anything else? Why should I feel like leaving if she screams in Wal-Mart because I tell her not to knock things onto the floor? While Martha over there has the most calm and sweet kid in the world sitting nicely in the buggy. We as parents shouldn’t be looking to others to feel guilty about what we lack, we should be looking to one another for support and comfort knowing that we all do things just to make it from one parenting hiccup to the next. God gave us our children because he knew they were perfect for us to teach, sometimes screw up but always love. I have to tell myself almost daily, to stop comparing myself to any other mothers, Scarlett loves me because I am who I am. She doesn’t care that her grapes don’t look like a caterpillar or that I don’t make super fun crafts, she cares that I love her and make her feel safe.

My goal for this week has been to really be thankful, thankful for all that I do have and all that I don’t and learning how to stop comparing myself to anyone. I’m about to get uncomfortably vulnerable here.

It’s such a bad habit of mine but I am not the most confident person… I struggle a lot with not feeling good enough as a mom or not feeling pretty enough or in good enough shape for my husband. I’m sure every woman thinks this but my husband is handsome, so handsome in fact that I met him because 20k girls on Facebook shared his picture (story for another time). I often find myself on the verge of tears while getting ready for date nights or catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror from day-to-day. Thinking, “Is THAT what I really look like? Why would anyone find me attractive? Am I enough? I don’t look like the girls at the gym.” I wonder so often why my husband loves me because I am not as pretty or as fit as the girls at the gym (my husband is a fitness freak). But by some miracle he loves me and thinks I’m just as pretty with make up or without. He doesn’t care that I have ratty hair and sometimes unbrushed teeth, he loves my heart and my mind. My body and looks will slowly diminish over time but my heart will remain the way it was the day he met me.

Often those little comparisons steal my joy, they make me feel sad and down about myself and less than. When in reality I am enough, you know why? Not just because Abe tells me or because Scarlett still hugs my neck, even when her cheese slices don’t look like Eiffel towers. No, but because the Lord tells me so!

 Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;

Phil 1:6

Jesus says I am good enough. Not once in the Bible does it say look to your neighbor for your path in life or for protection, comfort or purpose. It tells me to look to the Lord and to lean on him! So why don’t I listen?! I am human non the less, I want to strive to tell myself what Jesus tells me every day. I want to love myself just as the Lord loves me.

I am enough.

I am loved.

I am forgiven.

How wonderful is it to think when we do not feel like enough all we have to do is call upon the Lord and he will make us feel all that we are lacking. I’ve come to realize no amount of makeup or house work or special time with my daughter will make me feel good enough like calling upon the Lord can. He is the only one who can fill that need.

I’d like to leave you with my great grandmother’s and my husband’s favorite bible verse.

Psalms 23:1-6

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Hey Y’all!

       So who am I, and why in the world would you want to read what I write or for heaven sakes why would you want to read about my not so perfect, sometimes down right boring life? I guess if you are anything like me, you are so tired of seeing the posts on your news feed, email, websites and so on of all the perfect, toned and amazingly crafty moms, women and wives out there… I am none of those things, in fact I am most likely the opposite of all of the aforementioned adjectives. I am a quirky, thrift store junky, Lilly Pulitzer loving, laugh at my own jokes, napping fool. I am married to a wonderful hardworking, God-fearing, sometimes boring but always the man of my dreams guy. We have the most vivacious, spunky, talkative, wild and amazing little girl out there (I could be biased), but seriously, she’s awesome. We also have the world’s best German Shepard, even if she does sleep on the sofa when we aren’t home… 

         Now that you know a little about me, let’s get down to why we are  here. My husband actually gave me the idea to start a blog about 6 months ago, the queen of procrastination here! I went back and forth with the idea, because seriously who would ever want to read about my life? Then I thought, it may be a good way for me to chronicle my journey to becoming a better daughter of Christ, wife and mom. I promise I am no, “blogger mom”, who has it all together. My Pinterest crafts tend to turn out more like fails and my patience runs thin a lot of the time, but darn it I am trying! Life is rough, it’s not easy, it isn’t always picture perfect and marriage and motherhood are an entirely new beast I am trying to conquer or at least learn how to tame anyway. I am here to tell it like it is and how I see it in my head, all the Kodak worthy moments as well as the not so pretty, downright messy moments we all struggle through. Life would be oh so boring if my two-year old didn’t mistake my brand new book of stamps for a wonderful new book of stickers or if my dog didn’t projectile vomit all over my living room while I was out grocery shopping. Life really is a beautiful mixture of the bumps, the bruises, the triumphs and the celebratory moments. So if you like the idea of reading about REAL life then come along on this journey with me. I will write about everything that life as a follower of Christ, mom, wife and fashion and food obsessed, garden loving southern girl living in rural Ohio entails and try to tackle life’s many challenges with humor and joy!