Dear Single Girl: There’s Always Another One Coming

My grandma always told us girls that “men are like buses…there’s always another one coming”.  During whatever current heartbreak we were going through, her words weren’t terribly comforting.  Looking back, though, I realize how much truth lay in them.

My freshman year of college I was on the hunt for a man.  I was lonely, my heart ached for love, and, frankly, I thought that meeting and marrying the man of my dreams was the highest goal of my life.  It should come as no surprise to you that my search for a man fogged my vision and caused me to make more than a few mistakes in the boy department.

The first was a guy that didn’t even like me as more than a “friend”.  In my head, however, I’d decided that he was the guy for me.  I made up this fantasy world in my head where he was exactly what I was “needing”, that we would soon admit our love for each other, and that that would be the end of the story.

All I can say is I am so glad he didn’t show an interest in me.  In reality, he was all wrong for me.  If we’d ended up together we’d have made each other miserably unhappy.  The fantasy in my head did not line up with reality, and dealing with reality would have been an unbearably hard pill to swallow.

The second was a guy who really did like me.  He was a really great guy with a heart for the Lord and I liked him too.  Only, I never had peace about the whole thing.  Something just wasn’t right.  I decided to tell him, but then reconsidered when my hunger and aching for a man tried to sway me otherwise.

In that situation, the only thing that stopped me was God.  Out of the blue, I heard Him tell me two things: a very firm and resounding “NO”, and a very clear directive (and desire, strangely enough considering my former negativity) to join

At the time, I wanted to fight Him.  There were no other guys in my life that I was even remotely interested in.  I didn’t even know how I’d meet other guys.  Furthermore, there was absolutely nothing wrong with this guy.  When I say he was a great guy, I really mean it!  What I realize now that I didn’t know then was that he was a great guy, but he wasn’t God’s best for me (nor was I God’s best for him).

And so, with His leading ringing in my head I broke things off with this great guy, joined HSA, and clung to the words of my Grandmother.  Little did I know that a month later I’d meet this other great guy named Andy Baker, or that I’d be engaged to him 9 months later.

My friend, don’t lose heart, and don’t let your hunger for a man cloud your vision like it did mine.  My grandmother was right…you never know what great guy is just around the bend.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6


Things Moms Think (But Would Never Admit)

My kid is the cutest (or smartest or most beautiful)…you fill in the blank.

Your kid is more advanced developmentally than mine?  You’re probably exaggerating.

My baby looks tiny next to yours?  You must be feeding yours too much.

My baby is really chunky?  Yes sir, and I’m proud of it!

I could totally blame my indigestion on the baby and no one would ever know.

I’m trying to remember why I would have put the TV remote in the fridge.

I wonder if the other mothers’ bellies look like squishy biscuit dough?

Child, you are about to make me lose my mind.  But somehow I still love you anyway.

If the kids fall asleep in the car I’m totally stopping for a milkshake.

Worth It

I love everything about my Nora.   I love how’s she so laid back, and yet so dramatic when she wants to be.  I love the way she “dances” anytime music comes on, or the way she giggles uncontrollably at her brother’s antics.  I love her fierce, determined spirit.  I love the way little bubble skirts look on her.  I love how she’s already got her daddy wrapped around her finger.  I love the way her hair curls up when it’s humid out, and how sweet her smile is.  Basically, I am desperately in love with this little girl God gave me.

Last year about this time I looked like some mixture between a beached whale/torpedo/prize winning watermelon.  I was having painful contractions all the stinking time, my back was killing me, and I couldn’t sleep.  Then I ended up in the hospital with pre-term labor and was put on full-stop bed rest, and my misery only got worse.  At 37 weeks, when I came off bed rest, I was in so much pain I could hardly walk.  What muscle tone I had left in my legs was met with shooting pains from contractions.  The entire left side of my rib cage felt like it was going to explode.  The next two and half weeks until I was finally induced were some of the longest days I have ever experienced, and I felt wholly helpless and incapable.

This morning as I watched my sweet little Nora Jane play, my heart so hopelessly in love with her, I realized that all that pain and discomfort and waiting was more than worth it.  I would do it a thousand times over for the sweet doll that is my little girl.

If you’re going through hard times, press into God and keep persevering.  Someday soon you may look back and realize that these hard times were worth it.  You see, sometimes the hardest things we go through turn into the greatest blessings.

We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.

Romans 8:28

My Children Are Blessings…And I’m Not Quiverfull

IMG_9149-EditI was trying to quickly put on makeup when I heard the giggles.  I glanced over to my bed where my two children were laughing back and forth at each other.

“What are you two doing?” I teased.

Their beautiful, sparkling blue eyes both turned to me, their precious mouths turned up in wide, uninhibited smiles.  My heart began to ache as it usually does in such a moment…when my momma heart loves them so much that it feels about ready to burst.  I am so blessed, I thought.

My mind raced back to the day before, when the 10-month-old was fussy from teething and the 3-year-old had begun peppering me with his unending questions.  I had snapped at him, and then felt bad about it.  I remembered something I had read recently from another mom, whom I know to be “quiverfull“.  She had had a similar day, had yelled at one of her kids, and then had apologized to him later telling him that “he was a blessing and a gift”.

I found myself apologizing and telling my own son something similar.  The words seemed to sink down into his little soul and he threw his arms around my neck and whispered that he loved me.  In that moment, I couldn’t have loved my little son or his sister more if I’d tried.

My husband and I don’t feel convicted about preventing pregnancy being wrong, nor do we really want a 15-passenger van full of kids.  We take each baby as he or she comes, pray, and follow the Lord’s leading.  Right now in this moment, we have a lot of peace about our two.  I don’t honestly know what the years will bring.  I don’t know if more children will join our family through pregnancy or adoption, or if our two will be it.  What I do know is that, if we never feel led to have more children, it won’t because we don’t see our children as blessings.  In fact, it may just be because we already feel so blessed and our hearts are already so full and content with our two.  Our two children are our arrows in our “quiver”, and I pray every day that they will be straight, true arrows.  I pray that, if we only ever have the two children, that quality will make up for quantity.

There are days when the strain of motherhood clouds my vision and makes me forget that my children are blessings. There are days when they irritate me, strain me, and tire me.  It is on those days that I have to remember that my children are blessings.  It is on those days that I have to remind myself that I don’t have to have baby after baby to see children as gifts from the Lord.  Sometimes you just have to remember to love the ones you have, and to choose to see them for the blessings they are.       

Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing

wolvesI saw him out of the corner of my eye and my hand involuntarily tightened around that of my three-year-olds.  Part of me felt bad for my reaction.  Christians are supposed to love everybody, and by all accounts this was a good, upstanding man.  I had no “proof” that there was anything underhanded about him…only a few strange experiences and a weird vibe I get in my stomach every time I’m around him.

Next to me, my son prattled on, telling me one thing or another, completely oblivious and innocent.  It was then that I knew that I’d do anything to protect that innocence.  It was then that I knew that I’d rather be overly cautious then to stifle my misgivings at the cost of that innocence.

You see, I’ve seen too much of the world.  The people I know that are the most caught in darkness were once masquerading as good, upstanding citizens, from the “Christian” homeschool father and police detective who turned out to be molesting his own daughters, to the cult-like leader who preached strict morals all the while not following them himself, to the uncle raising his niece and secretly molesting her until the little girls’ plea for help from her friend fell on the ears of people who took a stand.  I could go on and on.  I’ve known too many wolves in sheep’s clothing.

I’ll never forget the day in college that we watched a video highlighting a few exemplary teachers from across the country.  I can guarantee that everyone in that room thought something was a little odd about the way the male English teacher rubbed the back of one of his male students.  I can also guarantee that every person in the room quickly pushed those thoughts aside, thinking they were just being overly sensitive.  It wasn’t until the end of the video that we learned that that same teacher had later been convicted of molesting a male student, and that 18+ more former students had come forward saying that he had molested them as well.  He was the Georgia teacher of the year and was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship and yet all the while…

Wolves in sheep’s clothing.  

Don’t for a second think that being a teacher, being involved in church, being “happily” married, or seeming like a nice person means anything.  Predators are smart.  They want you to believe that they are nice, upstanding citizens.  They want to gain your trust, so that you will let your guard down.  They know that trust gives opportunity.  

The struggle is real, though.  I want to love everybody.  I don’t want to be judgmental or unfair.  I’ve learned, however, that you can still love someone without trusting them.  You can still love unquestioningly without trusting undeservedly.

I hope and pray that someday when I get to heaven that God will say, “You were wrong about those people.”  Yet, I also know that I would rather be overly cautious and be wrong than to stifle down misgivings only to let one of my children or any other child be an opportunity.

Be on your guard, parents.  Educate your children, set boundaries, and do everything you can to prevent these wolves in sheep’s clothing from having access to hurt your children.  You can’t always keep them safe, but you can do everything in your power to protect the innocence of these precious children that God has entrusted you with.   

3 Things That Make Me More Productive

My firstborn was a really hard baby.  He was fussy, colicky, and clingy.  My house looked like a disaster for pretty much the first year and I hated it.  Surprisingly, 9 months into have two I actually feel way more productive and on-top of things.  Here are just 3 simple ways that have helped me come to this point:

1. The Motivated Moms app on my phone.  I’m a list maker.  So, it should come to no surprise to you that I’ve tried just about every home management tool out there, from creating my own lists on Evernote to Flylady.  The later just didn’t work for me.  There were elements I loved, but some of the main components just didn’t make sense in my life.  I don’t want to walk around the house with my shoes on, nor am I able to keep my sink clean constantly.  Then a Facebook friend suggested Motivated Moms…and I fell in love.  Even with being pregnant and working part-time, it worked for me.  Then Baby Girl came along and I quit for awhile, but that past few months I’ve been back at it.  I’ve customized it to work with my days and schedule, and I’m suddenly becoming way more productive…and my house is always in semi-decent shape.  Even with a 9-month-old who started crawling last week and is into EVERYTHING.

2. Updating the budget every. single. morning.  You already know how much I love YNAB.  The only problem is, you have to manually enter things, which takes some time.  Thankfully, however, I can update things quickly on my smartphone.  When I’m feeding the baby, I’m usually looking at my phone anyway…so why not use it for something productive?  Every morning I quickly pull up my various banking apps, as well as the YNAB app, and update and add things.  Sometimes I still need to look for a receipt or log onto the computer to actually update budget categories, but that work is a breeze when I’ve already got almost everything entered in.  It takes minutes, I stay on top of things, and I start every day knowing where our finances and budget stand.

3. Waiting to eat breakfast with Miles.  My children are typically early risers, but a couple of times a week I actually get up before them…or at least one of them.  ha!  My favorite way to spend that time used to be spending quiet time with God and then eating breakfast alone.  When my toddler got up, I’d feed him breakfast and try to get ready by myself.  Only, my son is one of the slowest eaters ever.  He gets every slower when nobody is sitting there eating with him.  So, I would find myself still sitting at the kitchen table in my bathrobe at 10 am with nothing to do.  Now, on those rare days, I do my quiet time and then take a shower or get ready.  On the really rare days that I still have extra time, I log onto the computer or do any number of tasks that are hard to do with my son around (read: trying to help and just making things harder!).  Whenever he gets up, I make breakfast for the both of us and we eat together.  My son eats faster, I’ve accomplished a lot more, and less time is wasted.  Problem solved!

What are some of your favorite productivity helpers?

Just A Mom

I used to think it would be enough for me to be merely a stay-at-home mom.  I had grown up watching my intelligent, PhD holding mother spend her days folding laundry, cooking food, and bandaging scraped up knees.  For her, gone were the days of helping troubled families in the a116d-2013-03-15_11-15-22_890court system and bringing in decent money from her highly-esteemed career.  But she never seemed to mind.  In fact, she thrived and found the most purpose in those quiet days full of simple tasks.  I knew unwaveringly that I wanted to be just a mom…just like her.

The years passed and I became just that.  Yet, I was surrounded by friends and women who were more than just moms.  Women I respected.  Women I enjoyed being around.  Suddenly my confidence and surety wavered.  I began to feel less able and less important than these other women.  I felt like I could never join in and complain about having a messy house or not having enough hours to get everything done because, after all, they did what I did plus some.  They went to work all day and then had to deal with the laundry and cooking and housework.  Some even worked on schoolwork after their children went to bed.  I used to think I was smart, hard working, and highly educated, but amongst these busy, capable women I started to doubt myself.

There were women who talked about how they could never just sit home all day…how they had to be doing something.  And so I questioned myself.  Am I really that much of a homebody?  Do I really do so little?  Am I bored?  Couldn’t I juggle all of those things too?

But God.  Always but God.

That Still Small Voice began speaking to my heart.  I could do all those things…juggle all those things.  I am an intelligent, educated, hard-working woman.  I am just as capable, but in this season of life, I choose something different.  I choose to not juggle all those things and do all those things. Right now, I choose to be just a mommy and just a homemaker.

Mamas who are just mamas: don’t doubt yourselves.  Don’t question your worth or value or abilities.  Remember that, like me, you chose this path.  You chose to find your purpose and fulfillment in this season not in being able to do it all or be all things to all people, but instead in the small little tasks that come along with being “just a mom”.  I know that one day when our kids are all grown up and gone, we will be glad that we sacrificed so much for those extra minutes with our babes.  We will be thankful that we got the chance to be just moms…and that we took it.  

Mother, oh Mother, come shake out your cloth,
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
Hang out the washing and butter the bread,
Sew on a button and make up a bed.
Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She’s up in the nursery blissfully rocking.

Oh, I’ve grown shiftless as Little Boy Blue
(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
(Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo).
The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing for stew
And out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo
But I’m playing Kanga and this is my Roo.
Look! Aren’t her eyes the most wonderful hue?
(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).

The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
For children grow up, as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep.
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.

“Song for a Fifth Child” by Ruth Hulburt Hamilton