Grateful for the ones I have, but…

Each night as I put my children to sleep I pray for them, with them.  I thank God for all the wonderful qualities of their personalities (even the ones I often find challenging).  I ask Him to keep them safe and to allow them good sleep.  That He would help me parent them so that they will one day be men who love Him.

Within the last 5 months or so, I’ve added to that prayer.  “Dear God, thank you so much for this child that I get to hold.  Thank you that I got to spend today with him.  Thank you that I get to hold him in my arms.”

I’ve always appreciated the gift it is to have my boys.  But up until recently it wasn’t as emotional or even painful as it is now.  Losing two babies before you get to hold them does that. The babies I don’t get to hold.  I’ll never know, in this life, their personalities or the wonderful qualities that will drive my human self crazy. How is there a hole when the space had barely been created?

I’m reading a book that talks about focusing on the future, but it’s so difficult to let go of the might have beens.  I used to get so excited for people when they posted on social media about their coming soon additions, or pictures of perfectly tiny newborns.  And I’m still genuinely happy for those people.  But now it is mixed with pain.  Mixed with a reminder.  My baby isn’t coming in November, or February.  The only bump I have is from the pan of brownies I made and my lack of exercise.

Not every day is so emotionally driven, or so painful.  In fact some days go without deep thought about it.  But then it comes and hits me out of nowhere and I wasn’t expecting to still feel so deeply, which seems to make it worse.

Last night I was sharing with my husband the frustrations of the day, none of the highlights.  I couldn’t seem to find or focus on the positive.  I’m still struggling.  But after a few minutes of talking I was finally able to verbalize that really the whole day had just been a normal day, but this overwhelming depression about what could have been is just debilitating.  How do you be positive and motivated when there is always an underlying reminder of what isn’t.

I don’t know.  I don’t have any answers tonight.  But writing things out helps.  Putting it in words helps.  Maybe it will help someone else too.

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How I Feed My Family of 4 For Only $0.575 a Month

Okay you people who think you’re amazing by only spending $100 a month on groceries, I’ve got you beat!  Wanna know how to spend the bare minimum while still semi-probably-not-adequately feeding your family?  Follow my tips below!

  1. Car Diving:  No, this is not driving your car off of the diving board.  This is searching through the kid’s car seats and finding GOLD… in the form of stale cheerios, leftover chickfila nuggets and fries, and goldfish.  Similar to dumpster diving.
  2. Grandparents:  This is a newly discovered method of feeding my family.  My parents just moved to town and let me tell ya, there ain’t nothin better than home cooked food that is FFFREEEEE.  Also, this method sometimes includes babysitting.
  3. Huh, When did I buy this?!: This is probably my favorite method.  If it isn’t expired then it’s totally usable.  And even if it’s expired as long as there isn’t some crazy smell coming off it, I say go for it.  It counts as free because it’s already in your home.
  4. Couch Diving:  This is similar to Car Diving and you may find some of the same food artifacts.  These items tend to need a little bit more of a “brush off the dog hair”, but still edible.  And really, dog hair just adds some extra protein, right?
  5. Free Events: Guys!  So many people will feed you for free!  Make friends and go to parties, there will be snacks!  Become a college student again and go to all the events that serve free food (tailgates, coffee events, games nights, movie nights). So many options of people willingly wanting to feed you without you paying.  I mean, it just can’t get any better.

So there you have it.  Budgeters and couponers, I got you beat.  This fun method of not really eating healthy and being as cheap as possible will literally cost you almost probably no money.  And you don’t have to coupon!  #winning.

How I feed my family by spending basically no money.

A Time To Rest

Dear Friend, 

Oh boy, has it been a year. Never before have I felt so small, so ineffective, so unheard, so TIRED. This year has been one uphill battle after another, many of which I lost. 

I think I tried to pray through most of it, to trust that my God, ya know.. the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob… was also the God of this year, of these people, of me. That even in the worst moments, He was working. And I just had to be still, trust, and ask to be a part of the work He was already doing (with or without me). 

So OH BOY. Guys, that is so hard, so mentally and physically draining. So many times of wanting to leave before my portion of the work was complete, wanting to end the race before the finish line, wanting to return to comfort before it was time. Only through His perseverance was it even possible. 

I titled this post “a time to rest” because today, in this moment, as I sit in a Starbucks in Los Angeles, that is what I have been given. After every storm, every battle, every war, every season you wish you hadn’t had to do, there is a moment to catch your breath. A moment, however long or brief, to reflect, to gain perspective, to rest. This moment for me is a beautiful week with a forever friend to recharge, and OH BOY am I grateful (and totally overusing the “oh boy” phrase, yes?)

I’ve been reading in the Old Testament lately with all of the laws and rules for living as God’s chosen people. One of the biggest things that stands out to me is that many of these laws and rules actually serve a practical purpose, like if you touch dead people than you are unclean and need to go through a process to be clean again (cause germs people!). He also makes clear that we are to observe a sabbath. A time of REST!! Because nobody can keep going and going and going without some time to BREATHE. Thank you Lord for knowing how much we need rest, so much that you made it a law. 

In the New Testament Jesus himself took time to rest. To step away from the crowds. At one point He even rested in the middle of the storm.

So, dear friend, I think my point in writing this was that after seasons of discomfort or difficulty, Praise God for rest and fully enjoy it. He knows what we need and when, all we need to do is be still, listen, and when the time comes REST. 

Love, 

Barb

Me vs. God

I reread this today because I’m having a lot of difficulty wrapping my head around second semester of this school year. It’s helpful when past-me can share some wisdom with now-me. Re-blogging just in case anyone else is struggling with returning to work or picking back up after the holiday break. Happy New Year everyone!

Me versus

God:  Hey Barb, so I know you love staying home, but I’m going to ask you to step out of that for a while.

Me:  Um, I think no.  But thanks anyway!

God:  Hey, so…. actually yes.  But don’t worry, I’m gonna help you be okay with it.

**Husband: Hey Barb, I’ve been praying about this a lot and I think maybe we need you to apply for some jobs outside of the house.  Not forever, but for a little while.**

Me:  Um, yeah…. So still no.  But I get that I need to do something else so we don’t fall into a financial hole.  So look at all of these cool things I’m looking into that I can do WHILE STAYING HOME!  Isn’t it great!  Yay for a compromise!

God:  Mmhm… yeah… I see where you are coming from.  Unfortunately, ya know-being God, I don’t compromise because I really…

View original post 885 more words

Practically Perfect

I have this idea in my head of Mary Poppins living… Practically Perfect in Every Way.  Wouldn’t that be nice?  Doing it all and doing it all practically perfectly?  This working momma definitely wants to know her secret to keeping it all together and NOT having a mental break-down.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, NOBODY is super mom, NOBODY has it all together, NOBODY is Practically Perfect.

Perhaps for our parents or grand parents generations there was a big push to not “air your dirty laundry” and always appear under control and happy.  I am so so grateful for what I’m seeing from my generation.  Transparency. Vulnerability. Grace.

Ya’ll, we don’t have to be perfect!  We can have limits!  We CAN HAVE MESSY HOUSES AND MESSY LIVES!!

So, in the spirit of being transparent, here is a look at my not-so practically perfect life:

  1.  This morning I went to pick up the coffee creamer and give it a bit of a shake… what I didn’t know is that the top was not closed right … CREAMER EVERYWHERE.
  2. When reading a letter at my youngest son’s dedication, my oldest son shouted at me to “stop saying” and hit me when I didn’t.  In front of the church. #winning
  3. Life has gotten so crazy lately that the only time laundry seems to get done is when neither of us has any clean underwear left… stinks to be the first person to run out. (pun intended 😉 ).
  4. We have a new definition for put your toys away at our house (for the time being).  Away seems to be in the middle of the floor, in between doorways, and under the couch.  Anywhere but in the bins on the shelf.  Because that would just make sense.
  5. The amount of coffee consumption has sky rocketed to new heights since going back to work… and getting an incredibly awesome automatic pour-over coffee machine… We also now ONLY buy fancy coffee… no place for folder’s in our cups!
  6. It’s getting a bit cold now and so I’ve been wearing a robe in the mornings.  I put it on inside out today and didn’t realize.  I’ve been awake for over an hour.
  7. Do kids reaaally need baths more than once a week? (the answer is yes… probably… does using a baby wipe count?)

But, my kids are alive, my family is clothed ( although sometimes a bit smelly… but that’s what cologne and body spray are for right?) and fed and the adults are most of the time appropriately caffeinated.  That’s as close to practically perfect as I think I’m ever going to get ;).

mary-poppins-the-origin-009

Wholly Surrender

Any parent of a toddler knows that you cannot force a kid to do anything with a smile.  If you want them to get to the car and they are dead set on driving (but being 2, they just aren’t quiet old enough yet), odds are you are going to be carrying that kid kicking and screaming to the back seat.  You may even have to tackle them into the straps and endure about 20 minutes of screaming as you journey to your destination (and for your sake, I’m praying that destination has coffee…. or wine.)

Did the goal get accomplished?  Yes.  The kid got in the seat and you got wherever you needed to go.  Was it pleasant?  No.  Would you want to repeat it?  No.  Did anyone learn anything of value?  Meh, probably not.  Do you have a headache?  YEEES.

If you’ve been following my blog or instagram, you know that I’ve returned to work teaching students with special needs an elementary school.  I didn’t want to go back to work.  It wasn’t my idea [for more details on that, read my post Me Vs. God].  But it was very very clearly what God was asking me to do.  After a lot of back and forth, I decided, “okay God, I surrender.”

And I was pretty sure I had.  I did what he wanted.

But not gonna lie to you, I’ve been kicking and screaming along the way.  And I’m TIRED.

Yes, I’ve been going to work everyday (except for the two days… the first week of school… that the plague hit our house… ).  I’ve put in my all.  I’ve stayed up late.  I’ve tried to make everything perfect.

And I’ve fallen short.  And when I fall short, I fall apart.  When I don’t have the kind of control I want, I fall apart.

See, I was pretty much okay with giving in to what God wanted, as long as I could do it on my terms.  My terms mean that my class will run without issue, I won’t be staying up until 2:30 or 3, only to get to school to realize that nothing I did actually mattered or I did it wrong.  My terms were “As long as I can be the best at this and it is easy and everything goes smoothly”.

God’s terms I’m pretty sure are different.  Yes, we might both be heading toward the same destination, but I’m thinking that I’m behaving as the toddler and creating more of a headache for both of us.

And so, I’m trying to remember God’s purpose here.  It’s not so that I can have an easy year and bring home a paycheck.  It’s hopefully so that I can be used by Him to love my students and my coworkers.  So that I can make an impact that will direct their eyes toward Him.

In public school, we aren’t allowed to say His Name.  But we are allowed to pray for our students.  We are allowed to love them.  We are allowed to show them grace.

So here’s to ending the kicking and screaming and wishing I had a group of well behaved kiddos.  These kids are people too and come to school with their own set of baggage and difficulties.  I don’t know what goes on at home, but I do know that while I have them in my classroom I can love them as Christ does.

Me vs. God

Me versus

God:  Hey Barb, so I know you love staying home, but I’m going to ask you to step out of that for a while.

Me:  Um, I think no.  But thanks anyway!

God:  Hey, so…. actually yes.  But don’t worry, I’m gonna help you be okay with it.

**Husband: Hey Barb, I’ve been praying about this a lot and I think maybe we need you to apply for some jobs outside of the house.  Not forever, but for a little while.**

Me:  Um, yeah…. So still no.  But I get that I need to do something else so we don’t fall into a financial hole.  So look at all of these cool things I’m looking into that I can do WHILE STAYING HOME!  Isn’t it great!  Yay for a compromise!

God:  Mmhm… yeah… I see where you are coming from.  Unfortunately, ya know-being God, I don’t compromise because I really DO have a great plan that I would LOVE for you to be a part of.

Me:  Lord, you can’t really mean it.  I was supposed to stay home this time.  I’m supposed to be able to spend all of my days with my baby this time.  We’ve finally found a routine that works for us, a group of mom friends who are becoming my “people”, and life is starting to feel somewhat comfortable.  You can’t really mean that you want to take me away from all of this?  Away from my kids?

God:  Barb, that’s not what I mean.  I’ve given you this year at home to build your community, your confidence, your understanding of Me… all so that when I ask you to do this difficult thing that you will be prepared, you will be ready to do the work I need you to do, that I created you to do.

Me:  Okay.  I get it.  Lord, I’m going to apply for some jobs.  Mostly because I want to prove you wrong because nobody is going to call me back.  Look at these part-time jobs I can do when Eric gets home from work… best of both worlds!  Stay home during the day and work in the evenings :).  Ooo Ooo, and look at these online teaching positions!!  I can do them FROM HOME!!  Okay, okay… I get that you also think it might be a good idea to apply to some good ole full-time teaching jobs.  Fine.  I put in 3 applications.  They aren’t going to call me back.  So yeah.

God:  Kiddo, I love you.  I love that you are STILL trying to compromise with me.   I promise I will help your heart feel better about this.  You know that verse… “I work for the good of those who love Me, who have been called according to my purpose.”  It doesn’t mean that I’m going to give you whatever you want.  It means that I have a purpose for your life and when you love Me, I help you understand that purpose better and WANT to be a part of it… even when it’s difficult.

Me:  Dear Lord Jesus, Father I would really really like to stay home, but I kinda also know that what you have planned is usually better.  Please close all of the doors you don’t want me to go through.  Don’t let me get a job where you don’t want me.  (IE… if you could please get me a part-time or work from home job, that would be ideal, thanks!)  I promise to be obedient to where you call me.  But you’re gonna have to help me be okay with whatever and where ever that is.

God:  Yes!  I promise this is a good thing.  I’m going to even show you how good before you even start working… but first…. let’s close those doors…

*Online Teaching Jobs:  No Responses.  Sylvan:  Too slow to respond, not enough hours.  Part-Time Random Jobs:  Didn’t want me.  Part-Time Teaching Job:  No Response.

*Applied for full-time teaching position:  Called the next day for an interview.

Me:  Crap.  I got an interview.  Lord, you can’t really mean that I’m going back to full-time teaching, right?  right?!?

God:  It’s going to be okay.  I’m here.

Me:  Lord…. They offered me the job… I have to let them know tomorrow if I’m taking it.  I thought I sabotaged my chances during the interview when I told them I was really only returning because I needed the paycheck and I was hoping to find a part-time job instead.  Apparently they are cool with that :(.

God:  Yeah… so… when I’m working toward something, little statements like that don’t really get in the way… But nice try!  And woohooo!!  You got the job!!  Barb, this is gonna be so good.  For real for real.  Trust me.

Me:  *Dragging feet*.  Lord, you closed all other doors.  I want to make you “Lord” of my life and actually obey what you call me to.  Clearly, this is where you want me to be.  *Deep Breath*  Here we go.

God:  “Do not be afraid, for I AM WITH YOU.  Do not be dismayed, for I AM YOUR GOD.  I will STRENGTHEN you and HELP you.  I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Me:  mmhm.

God:  “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for, and assurance of what WE DO NOT SEE.”

God:  “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

Me:  Lord, my life is not my own.  I’m not the only person ever to have to leave my babies to go to work.  Help me to be a testimony of your goodness and faithfulness.  Increase my faith.  Help me to run this race well.

God:  “I will be with you always.”  You aren’t alone Barb.  This year is going to be so good for you and those you don’t even know yet.  I have a plan.

Me:  Right, so when you say “year”… you mean this is only for this year, right?  Then I can come back home?… right?  Lord?

God:  Trust me.

How to Build a Toddler Fort in 10 Easy Steps

…With the least amount of effort possible.

How to Build a Toddler Fort in 10 Easy Steps

Step 1.  Buy Diapers.

Step 2.  Use all the diapers on your kid.  This could take anywhere from 2 weeks to a month, depending on how long your kid is comfortable sitting in their own … ya know.

Step 3.  Get annoyed with the empty diaper boxes taking up space, but feel guilty for just throwing them away (because recycling just takes too much effort… please don’t hate me).

Step 4.  Think “Oh, maybe I could pretend to be a good mom and do a craft with my kid!”

Step 5.  Break all the boxes apart.

Step 6.  Allow your toddler to make a big mess of chalk all over the boxes.

Step 7.  Wish you hadn’t allowed the use of chalk in the house.  These are crumbs the dog won’t eat :/ .

Step 8.  Tape the boxes together using packing tape … and strands of your hair that just seem to keep falling out since having kids.

Step 9.  Put toddler in the middle of boxes with his toys.

Step 10.  Fix the fort every 5 minutes because the toddler tries to sit on the walls.

You’re welcome 😀

Be Careful What You Ask For

It’s no secret that staying home and living on one income in this economy is difficult.  Cost of living, huge amounts of student loans, jobs that require degrees but the pay grade doesn’t meet the cost of the degree.  We aren’t the only ones who are finding ourselves here.  So many people in my generation struggle.

It’s also ironic that I’m writing this post right after posting a couple days ago about how to earn money from home.  Because, on Friday, I accepted a job as a teacher at an elementary school teaching students with Autism.

Believe it or not, we prayed for this.  Not directly.  We asked God to continue to provide and take care of us.  We asked Him to close all doors that weren’t what He wanted for us.  I was hoping He would answer with a part-time job teaching online from home or working outside the home in the evenings.  But that isn’t what happened.  Be careful what you pray for, because for some reason God thinks He knows what is best for you more than you do (**read that sentence with sarcasm please!!)

So here we are.  Another new adventure.  Another chance to trust that God will take care of us.  We’ve already set up interviews for 2 seemingly amazing nannies, so many people are sharing about how amazing this particular elementary school is, strangers are telling us that this is a job I should definitely take.  All the signs point to God has this under control.

Fellow mamas, how do you do it?  When your heart is at home and you weren’t expecting to go back to full time work?  Leaving your kiddos again?  Any advice and prayer would be so helpful.

Is anyone going through a similar thing?  I want to encourage you that this is just a season.  Whether you stay at your job for a few months or a few years, or more, this is still just a season in life.  Find 3-5 things to be grateful for in each day, maybe in each moment, and write them down.  Remember that God has called you to be exactly where you are.  Don’t waste it.

The best advice I’ve ever been given when life gets a bit more difficult to swallow is this…

OneStepatatime

One. Step. At. A. Time.

That’s all you can do.  Maybe those steps are super small and include “Okay, just get out of bed”  “Okay, now stand up”  “Now all you have to do is brush your teeth.”  Or maybe they are bigger.  But you can do it.  With God and your support system, YOU CAN DO ANYTHING.

Just one step at a time.

Everyday I Give My Kids Away

Dear little one, your little legs are curled up and you have the tiniest ear listening to my heart.  I’m sitting here imagining your future.  What will life be like for you?  Will you be a musician, firefighter, engineer, astronaut, the president?  It’s so much fun thinking of who you will become, especially in these moments when you are so little that really anything is possible.  The whole world is in front of you.

When you get  bit older you’ll be able to tell me what you want to be when you grow up.  And my hope is to give you the encouragement to not give up and become all that you were created to be.  My prayer, however, is that no matter what the future holds you will choose to glorify God with everything you do.


 

Mamas, I think this is probably the hardest thing about parenting.  Trusting that God loves our kids more than we do.

Almost 2 years ago a friend died after a 9 month battle with cancer.  He was 28 years old.

At his funeral, someone read a tribute from his mom.  She said, “It took 9 months to bring you into the world, and 9 months to take you home.”

This has stuck with me ever since.  When we watch our bellies grow, hold our new little babies, and spend countless hours rocking them to sleep… we let our minds imagine just what the future will be like.  How will our precious, perfect baby impact the world they will live in.

We probably do no imagine that our babies will suffer greatly and die before they turn 30.  But really, we don’t know.  We don’t know how God will use our babies.  I know this sounds morbid, and that’s not the point… stick with me.

While my friend battled for his life, he discovered an opportunity to share the Savior with the world.  He shared about God and glorified His name throughout the process with blogging, creating videos to encourage others, talking with his nurses and fellow patients, and standing firm in the belief that while his flesh may lose this battle, God had already won the war.

That’s what I want for my boys.  Certainly not that they get cancer and leave this world at a young age.  But there will inescapably be suffering.  Everyone suffers through something.  My hope and prayer is to prepare them.  To teach them to glorify God in their actions and words.  To help build such a solid foundation for them that when times get tough they don’t fall further than their knees.

If I were to be in charge of the future, my boys would never feel pain.  My instinct is to protect them at all costs.  Because I love them.

But God loves them more.  And He loved them first.

Everyday, I have to give them away.  “This is the day the Lord has made.”  Not me.  The Lord.  And He will ultimately move in my kids’ lives in a way that brings them closer to him.  Really, there is no other joy than that.  While my idea of a future would bring them less pain here on earth, God’s is to bring them no pain for eternity.


 

Little one, my prayer for you is that you give glory to God in all that you do.  That you don’t become disheartened when the world shows its true colors to you.  When times get tough, and they will dear one, that you look to heaven for your strength and comfort.  That “home” for you is much more than here on earth, but in our Father’s arms.

-My prayer for you, When times get tough, and they will dear one...That you will look to heaven for your strength and comfort-