Thursday, November 19

Making Sense of 2020: Reflections on Learning Deeper Levels of Trust in God

Hello Again. 

I felt like I needed to say that seeing as it’s been 125 days since the last time I posted here. 

It is 2020 after all, a year when 125 days may have felt like an eternity or the blink of an eye depending on what has happened within them for you. 

Many of you have lost jobs, had to close businesses, are currently either home-schooling for the first time or managing a chaotic distance-learning schedule. Most of us are living quite differently than we’ve ever had to live before—wearing masks in public, hand sanitizing at every turn, trying to figure out church, ministry and business schedules in the context and confines of new and often changing state regulations. As I write this we were just told that all schools in our county are going remote on Monday, so my own girls will be coming back home to do school again. 

Add to all of this the landscape of a tumultuous election that still feels confusing, conflicting and unsettled. 

On one hand I remember the “normalcy” of life in January and February like it was yesterday.  On the other hand, when I think about the roller coaster ride that this year has been, with school closing and wondering if it would re-open, trying to discern which school option would be best for the fall, navigating summer vacation with cancelled camps and travel plans, planning birthday parties with sensitivities towards COVID and discerning what was “right” or “wrong”—when I think about all of that, it feels like this one year has been the length of 5 years, with a gazillion decisions, questions, confusions and uncertainties all packed into it.

Our year as a family has been full of plenty of love, joy and laughter, but it has also held a lot of unexpected surprises and challenges—things we could not have anticipated in January, when people were glibly chiding that this was going to be the “year of 2020 vision”—the time to go after goals and clarify intentions and vision for our lives. 

Honestly, that sounded fantastic way back then—this idea of renewing my vision, and really focusing in on some short and long term goals. As a family we were having discussions about moving to a new house, perhaps even to a new state. I was just starting to re-invest in my writing goals given that all three girls were now settled in school—after 12 years of committing to being home with the girls I had some more flexibility in my schedule and I was excited to see what God might have in store. 

Photo by Denise Karis on Unsplash
I had bought a new planner, and joined Flourish Writers for their yearlong writing academy. With the Flourish Writer tools in hand I was practicing setting 90-day goals and had a book I was going to finish by the end of this year. A book I had been thinking about writing for many, many years—2020 vision baby! This was going to be the year to write it! 

And then…

 The surprise of schools closing in March, turned into perpetual home schooling in April, May and June, which was all kind of fun at first.

We were thrilled to trade in the rush-rush of typical school mornings for leisurely breakfasts and schoolwork done in pajamas. We bought a new family computer so that everyone would have the appropriate work space for online assignments and zoom calls. We traveled by car to visit friends in Charlotte, N.C. on the whim of our own schedule, taking our work with us (fleeing the snow that was still falling in Buffalo in May!). 

When school was over, we made the most of unstructured summer days, like an unintentional throwback to summers of long ago that were filled with bike rides, roller skating, swimming in friend’s pools, long walks and bonfires in the backyard. I was honestly content with the slower pace of life for a time—I think many of us were—this forced nudge towards not needing to run around all the time…it seems that in some ways it was good for our souls. 

And it was. We did puzzles we wouldn’t have done, cooked meals we wouldn’t have cooked—Scott bought a smoker and has been smoking all manner of meat with all sorts of rubs and spices and sauces that he may not have had the time to focus on if he wasn’t working from home. 

I count all of those things as gifts…blessings…from this crazy year of 2020. 

But the year also handed us some unexpected challenges—this fall, October in particular, was an especially difficult month. I won’t get into all of the details here, but my grandmother passed away, which in and of itself was not unexpected—she was 91 and her health and been declining for some time, but her passing led to some difficult family dynamics that needed to be sorted through. 

Then, Scott found out that his company was being bought out and that his entire sales team (close to 100 guys across the country) will be laid off at the end of the year. 

In the middle of it all my health took a major chaotic turn in August—a situation that I’m just slowly healing from and coming out of now. The short story is that after a relatively slow withdrawal from a teeny tiny dose of an anti-depressant (such a small dose that every doctor I’ve talked to has said it couldn’t have even been effective) my body went into a total tailspin. 

I have filled an entire sheet of notebook paper with the symptoms I’ve experienced over the last three months: everything from frightening heart palpitations, to shortness of breath and nausea, muscle cramps, daily brain fog and spaciness that made it almost impossible to drive or leave the house at times (imagine how you might feel if you took 4 Sudafed), hypersensitivity to lights and noise, insomnia, internal shaking, fatigue, hypersensitivity to caffeine and supplements (I had to give up coffee!!!! Bah!), muscle weakness, itchy skin, tingles up and down my neck, and just generally ill feelings that kept me in bed. I had 4 EKG’s, 1 echocardiogram, close to a dozen doctor’s appointments, and 1 trip to the ER (and several more drives to the ER where I decided not to go in at the last minute) and dozens of blood tests done all to determine that there was nothing physically wrong with my body that was at least medically obvious. 

Yet, despite all of the "normal" test results, my sensitivity and fatigue were so bad that I was unable to watch movies with my kiddos for a time (because of the light and noise), had to leave several family gatherings early, couldn’t tolerate going to church on Sundays (again, the lights and the noise), and could hardly run errands, make meals, or do laundry on many days. 

I don’t say any of this for sympathy—honestly, I’d rather just keep it quiet and move on like everything has been completely fine. But, the reality is that it wasn’t fine for a few months and in that space of not fine so many of our friends and family members stopped up to offer support and prayed for me in ways I’ve never needed prayer before. At one point, when a friend from church asked what I needed, my heart, body and soul had just one answer—prayer. Prayer for wisdom, for healing, and for answers. 

I just want to say that I have felt those prayers profoundly, and have been incredibly grateful for everyone who has been praying for me. Those prayers and your heartfelt words of encouragement have been another gift of 2020 that I wouldn’t have experienced if not for the struggle and hardship that they came out of. 

I am thankful for the night my small group gathered around me in my friend Sarah’s living room to pray. The texts that came from friends and family to tell me that people were praying throughout the day. The morning that my friend Jodi invited me over to her house and we prayed prayers out loud from the book The Power of a Praying Woman—prayers over my body, mind and spirit. For the nights when I was in bed before Aubrey and she came in to pray over me, and the mornings when Scott called all the girls together to pray for me before they left for school. 

I will also never forget the prayer walks I took on days I felt strong enough to walk through our neighborhood—the same route I had been running for years and years, but suddenly didn’t have the strength to run (and many days I couldn't even walk half an hour without being out of breath or feeling weak). In retrospect I believe God allowed me to be slowed down, from running to slow walking- literally- to help me to see things I hadn't seen before. In that space of walking I listened to sermons and worship music and sometimes just praised God for the beauty that surrounded me in the glorious landscape that I was so used to running right by. 

Every prayer was a blessing and I believe they were essential to the amount of improvement I’m finally feeling. I'm still having some odd symptoms and some days are tougher than others, but our bodies are resilient and God is healing mine bit by bit. 

Here's the funny thing,  last December and into early January, when I was praying about a word for the year—a word to help guide and direct my thoughts and prayers, a word to help set my intentions and directions for 2020…the word I felt in my spirit over and over was…Renew. 

I was praying for renewal in my body and soul this year. Even though I wasn’t struggling with acute health issues at the time, I was feeling a general sense of fatigue. A weariness. A sense that I didn’t have the energy, physically or emotionally that I once had, or that I longed for in order to vibrantly take care of my family and pursue whatever else God has in store for me. I longed for God to renew that strength and vitality in my body and soul and I was ready to do whatever it took for that to happen. 

I’m not fully sure how I expected “renewal” to come about, but my expectations might have included hot cups of tea, long walks in the woods, quiet prayer times, baths, reading books and poetry I had been longing to read, spending more time with friends—you know, those nice self-care sorts of things that us moms can tend to not prioritize in our lives. 

That’s not exactly how the story has unfolded…

And yet…I believe, in that still small part of my soul where God speaks to me, that He is somehow bringing renewal through this upheaval. That through a set of circumstances I could not have expected, and through physical issues I would not have signed up for, that He is restoring and renewing me from the inside out. 

I plan to write more about my experience in upcoming blog posts—I have come to realize (through some online resources and Facebook groups) that there are thousands of people across the country struggling with the side effects and severe withdrawal symptoms of psychiatric medications. It is literally a silent epidemic that no one is talking about. 

I also plan to write more about the anxiety issues that prompted me to try the medication in the first place, and what I am learning about managing and dealing with the root causes of that anxiety. I’ve been silent about these things for a long time—I suppose because I was managing life for the most part and I didn’t want to make other people uncomfortable by talking about it. But, the reality is, millions of people across the country are suffering and struggling from varying levels of anxiety and depression and not talking about it doesn’t help anyone to move towards deeper places of freedom. So, I promise I’ll tell you my stories. 

In the meantime, I would encourage you to keep taking one step and one day at a time—if 2020 has taught me one thing it is that God provides for our needs, but that we need to rely on Him on a daily basis. Personally, I  thought I knew that already—that I was living in a way of trusting God fully in each and every day-- and then 2020 happened. A year when everything truly seemed to change DAILY: school, jobs, health, family dynamics—a year where there were strings of weeks when I had to learn to not even have expectations, but to fully surrender all circumstances, expected and unexpected to God, as things kept changing and unfolding. 

It's how we're supposed to be living all the time, right? But we (I) can tend to get into comfortable rhythms and routines and in that comfort we don't always rely on God the way we should. 

So if I had to pick just one thing that 2020 has taught me it’s that I need to FULLY SURRENDER EVERYTHING on a daily basis—in all of the ways that I am aware of and then pray that God reveals the many other ways that I’m so often not aware of. 

How about you? What has 2020 taught you? What have been the biggest gifts and most difficult challenges? What gifts have you discovered in the midst of your challenges? 

Apple Picking in October

Leave a comment below or on my Facebook page- I’d love to hear from you and other people would love to hear what you’ve learned as well. 

I promise to start writing here again and to share some honest life stories in the months to come. 

Friday, July 24

A Life on Pause, Full Speed Ahead

These are strange times, aren’t they friends? 
It's times like these that I'm grateful I left most of my Type A, need-to-get-things-done attitude at the door years ago when things like major diaper blowouts would happen on a regular basis just about the time we were all ready to leave for church, or a family gathering, or even just to the grocery store,  and next thing I knew my outfit smelled like poop, the baby’s outfit was covered in poop and we were all late. Again. 
And, guess what?  There wasn’t a thing we could do about it. 
Kind of like there's not much we can do about the state of the world right now, and all of the chaos and uncertainty unfolding. 
We all had plans for our year, but metaphorically speaking there was a major blowout on the way out the door and there isn’t much we can do  about it except embrace what is, continue taking one day at a time, and trust that God is in control (and we most certainly are not!).  
We’re late for some things this year (figuratively and metaphorically), had to let go of others, and are still not sure what each day is going to look like or how the news might change at any given moment.
Which is why I titled this post "A Life on Pause, Full Speed Ahead", because that is what life has felt like for the last 4 months-- so many things have been cancelled, paused and temporarily suspended and yet, especially for us moms, we are still busy and moving through very full days of housekeeping, meal-making, child-rearing and memory building. 
If I'm honest, the ambiguity of it all is hard for me some days-- especially the uncertainty of what school will look like come September.  
This will be the 9th year I’ve had children in school (our girls are going into 8th,  6th and  2nd grade this year) and the first time I honestly have no idea what that is going to look like. 
Should we homeschool all 3 of them? We've asked this question a lot. Not out of fear, but out of logical concern for what our options and the school environment will look like come September. 
Should we send two of them back to their smaller private Christian school, which we LOVE, but are anxious to commit to (in terms of paying tuition) when everyone could very well be sent home again this fall for an undetermined amount of time and I will essentially be homeschooling anyways? 
Do I want to send Aubrey (my youngest) into a public school setting where the desks are spaced apart, limited movement is allowed in the hallways, no one is allowed on the playground or the cafeteria, masks may be required, and gym and music classes are not going to feel "normal" because kids must be spaced 12 feet apart? 
I know that our amazing teachers will do their best given the circumstances, but lets be honest, this isn't ideal for anyone. 
It makes me sad, honestly.  The loss of innocence. The loss of familiarity. The loss of carefree childhood experiences where kids smear paint around construction paper grouped together at a table in an art room without masks on their face. 
But, I'm learning that I can't stay there the space of discouragement about the current environment. As a mom, I have to pull up my proverbial bootstraps and keep on walkin'. I need to get my butt into my prayer chair in the morning and pray big prayers with full expectation that God will continue to offer wisdom. 
That's what we do when big parts of life are on pause, but our very full parenting days are still moving full speed ahead. When we need to make decisions about the Fall that impact our children’s education and well being, even while life feels like a multiple choice test where the best choices have been deleted.  We learn to live more fully, as our faith deepens.  

"Don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today." Matthew 6:34

God gives us manna for each day. He offers daily bread. He tells us not to spin and worry, because just like the sparrow or the grass in the field, our needs will be accounted for. 
Lately I'm laughing at the irony that for all of the “be-in-the-moment” messages surrounding us, most of us struggle to be in the moment and take things one day at a time-- at least I do. 

This space of uncertainty that we are living in has certainly forced me to learn how to live in the moment, to live one day at at time, at a far deeper level than ever before. It's been a hard lesson.  Harder than I would have thought because I would have told you, pre-pandemic, that I was already living this way. That I was trusting God, and did have faith, and that I was doing my best to be in the daily moments. 
God always takes us deeper, doesn't He? 
With school, and many other things right now, I'm learning what it really means to trust God daily. What it means to surrender my anxiety and questions to Him. To walk in faith, confident that He is working all things out. 
If I'm honest, there are times this all feels like we’re on a family road trip driving with the car packed to the gills--we're stopping for bathroom breaks, eating lots of snacks, singing loud songs and driving each other all a little crazy—yet when the girls ask, “Are we there yet?” I have to respond with, “I don't know. I'm not sure where “there” is right now.” 
But in lieu of being “there”, we can learn to live right here. Loving, trusting and finding manna for today. We can choose joy, live our lives with gratitude, and learn to love others well. We can breathe deep, accept what is, and realize there can be contentment in all circumstances-- while life is on pause and moving full speed ahead. 

Monday, July 13

New Blog Posts Coming Soon!

Hi Friends! Sorry for my absence here...

This crazy thing called COVID-19 happened and it threw me off my writing/blogging rhythm for a while.

But just last week I attended this FABULOUS online writing conference called Speak Up and it
re-inspired, re-encouraged and renewed my passion for sharing words with others.
If you'd like to learn more about SpeakUp so that it's on your radar for next year, check out their website at

Rest assured, I've got some blog post drafts oin the hopper and will be posting regularly again very soon. I hope you and your families are all doing well and I'm looking forward to re-connecting here with you in the upcoming days and weeks! 

                                                                                   Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash

Tuesday, April 21

Encouragement For Moms as We 'Shelter From Home'

"Therefore we do not lose heart..." (2 Corinthians 4:16) 

If you came here looking for an answer to what "thriving" looks like right now, you might be disappointed. 

I don't have clear answers or easy tips-- I'm not sure those exist at the moment. What I do have are questions, and faith that God is at work no matter what is happening around us, so if you're in need of some extra encouragement in your faith today, or just want to know that you're not alone in your wonderings about what is "normal", then you've come to the right place. 

I had another post started-- it was Part 2 to last week's post, "Moving From Surviving to Thriving With Your Kids At Home." After jotting down my ideas I went back and forth on whether or not to publish it...not because I don't believe in the power of a few suggestions to help-- similar suggestions have pulled me out of ruts time and time again.  Ideas are good. Suggestions are helpful. Tips for thriving are a welcome friend on the days you feel like you're just surviving as a mom. I know from experience. 

But, the truth is I'm not sure what the word "thriving" looks like right now. 

I don't say that to sound pessimistic. We're doing pretty well, honestly. 

In my heart of hearts I feel like this time is good for our family-- even needed on some level. We're getting to know one another better. We're learning how to live with each another on far deeper levels than any of us probably want to on some days, but because we're a family I happen to think that's a good thing.This bumping into each other and working through a real sense of living together.  My guess is that this time is shaping and molding our family in ways that will impact us for the rest of our lives. 

For the most part, I believe we are thriving...some days. 

We're definitely doing better than surviving...most days. 

Is there a word for that? A word for somewhere in-between the two? Somewhere in-between thriving and surviving? 

I feel blessed and grateful, and don't take what we have lightly or for granted.  We honestly have everything we need: printers, computers, enough tables and spaces and room for the girls to spread out while they're doing their schoolwork. We have food and shelter (even on the days when it feels like we've outgrown our house!), clothes and toys, craft supplies and lots and lots of games that were collecting dust and are now seeing the light of day. 

I know we have much and I am grateful for it all, but lets be honest, we miss things too. 

I miss hanging out in coffee shops when I need an hour long break-- just to read a book and write words in a journal without distraction. 

I miss playgrounds when my kids are antsy and I need to take them somewhere to run off their energy. 

I miss church and the fellowship that accompanies it--worshiping together, checking in with one another, getting my weekly fill of hugs and "how are you's?" 

My girls actually MISS school...I think this time will help them appreciate their teachers and having a school to attend for the rest of their lives! 

The reason I was struggling to write the post about "thriving" is that many of these things that we are missing were part what helped to pull me out of the bad days before--they were the things that filled me up, the things that helped me be able to get through the end of the day when I needed a change of scenery, or a word of encouragement, or simply a hug from a friend. They were the things that helped me to thrive

We have good days and bad days at our house, just like many of you. It depends on the weather, and emotions, and hormones (I'm not joking about that in a house where 4/5 of us are female!). It depends on the school assignment and whether or not I remember where the password is for the 7th website for my 3rd child on this 5th week of homeschooling. 

This isn't easy for anyone-- we're all ready to take our kids to playgrounds again, grab a coffee from a drive-thru, or buy our groceries without feeling fearful. We're ready to have our extended family over for dinner and celebrate birthdays in person. I miss my daughter's elementary school teacher and my aerobics instructors at the YMCA. 

I'm not saying I want everything to go back to the way it used it be,  but I'd love for some things to return to normal simply because they're the good and beautiful parts of humanity. 

The one thing  I can offer universally to anyone who is struggling right now is the truth of God's presence. No matter what any of us is going through, no matter how much things have changed, God remains just as steady, constant and sovereign as ever before. 

So, while I don't have tips to offer today, I have this truth about God:

He loves you. I promise. 

He is with you. I swear. 

He is beside you, even when things are difficult. I have felt Him. 

He whispers wisdom and grace into our hearts. I have heard Him. 

His mercies are new every morning. I have received them. 

If you're struggling this week I would encourage you to spend time in prayer. Whisper your prayers in quiet, write them in a journal, yell them in the car while you're driving circles around the neighborhood because there is no were else to go. Lock the door to the bathroom and pray for five minutes-- your kids will survive, I promise! 

God hears you. He sees you. He loves you. 

I came across this verse in my quiet time this week-- it's a verse I've read before, but that felt like it had new meaning in the midst of this season of viruses and quarantines: 

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes on on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

I love that! 

Friends, let's NOT lose heart! Even though sickness, and brokenness, and viruses seem to be affecting the entire world, if we have Christ at the center of our lives He will continue to renew us each and every day. 

There is one catch- it's up to us to spend time with Him. To pray, to renew our minds with scripture, to make time for a Bible study or devotional that helps us fix your eyes on what is unseen.  Lets face it, a lot of what is seen right now is a little crazy anyways! 

If you have a specific prayer request please send me a message on Facebook or an email or text. I'd love to pray for you and your family in whatever specific ways you need prayer. 

I will continue putting new posts up here at the beginning of each week...I try to shoot for Monday, but...well...the kids, the house, the homeschooling...some weeks it ends up beingTuesdays. 

I do actually have a list started of ways to "thrive" during this time at home that I'll share with you next week-- it's the list I started for today, but wasn't ready to share. I hope you'll stop back if you're looking for some alternative suggestions to what you may already be doing, or are simply curious as to how other families are making the most of this time! 

You can always check my Facebook page, which is where I'll post the links to make it easier. If you put your email into the little box on the side of this blog page you'll receive an update when new posts go up. 

Friday, April 17

How to Move From "Survive" to "Thrive" While Quarantined With Kids, Part 1

Being a full-time stay at home mom for 10 years (a decade!), while a  privilege, was also one of the hardest things I've ever done-- one of the hardest jobs I've ever done. The days were long, the needs unending, the tasks mundane. There were some days, and weeks, that it all felt like the grandest version of Bill Murray's experience in Groundhog's Day that ever existed. 

I often wondered if I would actually survive the season, and if I did  survive I wondered who I was going to be on the other end of it all. Being a stay at home parent can make you feel like you are losing yourself (and your mind) one slow day at a time-- your ability to think clearly, your broader worldview and perspective, your desire to embrace life and adventure, and maybe even your ability to discern whether or not the jeans you are wearing are still "cool" or have fallen into the not so desirable "mom jean" category all become...questionable.  

As beautiful as I had imagined it all to be prior to becoming a stay at home mom I was so exhausted and walking around in such a fog that, for quite some time,  I lost perspective and the joy I had hoped to experience during that season. Which is why, when one of my mentors recently suggested I write about how to thrive while being home with the kids I thought...I'm not so sure I'm the one that should write that. 

The conversation started innocently enough. She asked how we were doing and I responded with a, "Oh, we're fine. You know, managing like everyone else. Honestly, I think the years I spent at home with the kids helped me to develop coping skills that I'm falling back on now." 

"You should write about that," she said. 

Um. Ok. Maybe

Honestly, I wasn't so sure. 

Even though it's completely true: I do feel like we're doing ok right now and I do attribute some of that to the fact that I have learned how to live in the chaos that ensues when a family is cooped up in the house for long periods of time, I wasn't convinced the coping mechanisms that I developed over years of being at home would translate into anything helpful for others. 

There were days during those ten years that I wanted to pull my hair out. Hide under my blankets. Run away (the girls joke that I do actually "run away" sometimes. As a runner, when I'm having a particular grumpy day, I run from the house to find my sanity, always to return!). There were more days than I'd like to count where I felt discouraged, exhausted, overwhelmed and frustrated. There were days when I thought I was not at all, not in the least,  not even a little,  cut out for this job of being home with my kids all day long, and that maybe the hiring manager was completely off her rocker when she hired me. 

And then I'd get up and do the next right thing. I'd muster the strength to make the next meal, read a book with a toddler, or clean out one drawer in the kitchen because it helped me to feel like I had just a little bit of control over something. 

I'd tell myself that mom crying in the bathroom wasn't the image that I wanted my girls to grow up with in their heads, at least not all the time. Even though I believe it's good for them to see me cry and be discouraged at times, it must eventually be followed with showing them how to "pull up their bootstraps" and get on with life. They might be moms someday too, I often thought, and I need to teach them grit. 

And grit is what I gained in those 10 years. Maybe some wisdom too, and a lot of grace. I also learned how to turn my tears about my day into prayers to God, which is really what always turns things around. 

I learned patience, and flexibility, and the 27 layers of learning to "let it go". Letting ALL OF IT GO-- the hard days, the tears, the fights, the mess, (Oh, the messes!), the discouragement, the perceived failures, and most importantly the lie that I believed for a long time that I needed to get it all "right" to be a good mom. 

So, taking my friend's advice I took some time to think about the things that have helped me the most, and what I've learned along the way. I'll use my next few posts to share those things with you. 

You should know there are still days I feel like I'm simply surviving, especially now. Yesterday was one of those yucky days. The quarantine, the weather here, the kids being all stir crazy...But I'm back up and at it this morning, with hope for a new day. His mercies ARE new EVERY morning. 

If you're struggling right now I'd love to pray for you. Please shoot me a private message on Facebook, or a text, or an email. I don't say that to be trite, I say it because I mean it. There have been many, many, many days when I wished I could email someone my honest feelings so they could offer up an honest prayer on my behalf. 

And for those of you feeling like you're hanging in a thread...and you're not so sure...I'm praying for you too!

(If you're wondering when my posts go up because you don't want to miss a word, I try to shoot for Monday mornings. I was off track this week, but after today I'll be posting next Monday, and every Monday afterwards). 

3 Tips to Move From Surviving to Thriving While Quarantined with Kids:

# 1  Surrender. Surrender. Surrender.

Alright, this isn't like raising the white flag and giving up, BUT if I had to pinpoint one key characteristic that I learned in my ten years at home it was to surrender my expectations. 

I can't tell you how often I woke up thinking I'm going to do A, B, C, and G today and we'd end up doing F, Q, R, Z, P, L and no particular order of course. 

I'd get to the end of my days feel EXAUSTED and questioning what we had actually done all day.  I'd look around and see that the house was a mess, my to-do list stood unchecked, and we had eaten bagged lettuce and string cheese for dinner (even though grilled chicken, roasted broccoli and rice pilaf is what I had written on my meal plan).  

For a long time I felt like a massively disorganized failure because I couldn't follow through on my own instructions for the day, and then I eventually realized that the only way to survive this time well was to surrender my "instructions" for the day. I started to realize that I could certainly write down A, B, C and G on a given day, but I couldn't be mad at myself or the kids when that's not what happened.  I had to surrender my expectations of how I thought things should go that day and yield to the reality of what was. 

Often what was wasn't bad, it just was. The house was messy because the kids had creativity played in it all day. Dinner was less than superb because, well who knows on any given day-- we went for a walk, an entire box of rice spilled all over the kitchen floor, my sensitive child had a massive meltdown of epic proportions and I needed to be intentional about responding to it- the list goes on and on, but you get the point. 

#2 Get Up Before the Kids

I know, I know-- this is SOOO hard sometimes, especially when the kids aren't sleeping. There were many, MANY mornings that our own kids weren't sleeping and I did not get up before them. Sometimes sleeping as long as possible, or handing a kid an I-pad in your bed IS the best choice. But, if you can get up even 15 minutes before your kids it makes a big difference in the morning. I try to get up at least 15-30 minutes before my girls. I use this time to drink hot coffee quietly, think thoughts without interruption, pray, read my Bible, and journal. It sounds so simple, but it makes a huge difference. 

I would also add that right now, during this unique season, that you should use this time for good things that fill you for the day. Try to resist the urge to get up and start checking work emails, or going straight to the news or social media. Make your coffee or tea, grab your Bible, a book, a journal, a pen...and sit down and fill your soul. 

The news, your emails, social media- they'll all be there later (and will likely be just as soul sucking then!).  There have been too  many days where I've grabbed my phone to check the news, ended up on Facebook, and then Aubrey wakes up and I've lost the precious time I had to fill my soul with good things. Don't do it! 

#3 Write a "Did-Do" List

I haven't done this in a while, but when I do it really helps to shape my perspective. A "Did-Do" List is kind of like a gratitude list (kind of) except that even on days when you're feeling a little grumpy you can still write down what you did do that day, even if you're struggling to be grateful. I encourage you to try this for a week-- put a notebook and pen next to your bed and commit to jotting 5-10 things down that you DID do that day. 

How often have you gotten to the end of your day feeling flustered and wondering what you actually accomplished? The "Did-Do" list is an antitidote to that discouraged feeling. I promise you, even though you feel like you didn't do anything all day, you most certainly did do something (most moms I know aren't sitting on their butts eating bon bons all day, despite popular opinion of stay at home moms!). 

Your "Did-Do" list might look like this (names will be different- obviously!): 

1. Did a 48 piece puzzle with Aubrey
2. Baked chocolate chip cookies 
3. Sent out an email for the business/freelance project I am working on
4. Made it to the grocery store and got all of the groceries put away
5. Watched Sugar Rush with my 12 year old
6. Called the insurance company to take care of that claim that needed to be fixed 
7. Pulled a sliver out of Ella's toe
8. Ordered that book for Ella and multi-vitamins for the kids. 

I could go on and on, but you get the's a collection of what you did accomplish during the day. I promise you, that even if you didn't mean for it to be a gratitude list, it has a sneaky way of making you feel a little bit more grateful for your day anyways. 

That's it for today. I'm off to figure out which X, P, Q, Z, R, L and N's we're going to do here, and I'm praying for some warmer weather as well! 

Love you all and please know this...You are a good mom and you are blessed, even when everything feels a little crazy and unexpected. 

Friday, April 10

Celebrating Easter 2020- Good Friday

Happy Good Friday, Friends!

We made it through the week! Many of us have now made it through 4 weeks of quarantine/schooling/full-time-at-home-life with kids!

Congratulations! Seriously.

One of the highlights of my day yesterday was facilitating a Zoom call with some of my momma friends from our church (theWELL Buffalo). There were babies running around, toddlers screaming and older children popping in to "wave" hello. We shared stories of homework woes, the ups and downs of the last four weeks at home, and our hearts on the good, the bad and the in-between in regards to this current, unique,  stage of life.

It was SO good to connect. It was so needed to hear each others stories-- because as moms, we can so often feel alone, even though we're rarely physically alone. And as moms in quarantine, with husband's still working (some from home and some not), and the extra stress of more meals, noisy hours, and anxiety invoking grocery shopping trips, we are all in yet another phase where the days can seem very, very long...but I will say the 4 weeks, in some ways, has already flown by (like the infamous analogy for young motherhood that the days seem long, but the years are short!).

This is going to be my last post for the week. I'm going to spend tomorrow and Sunday coloring easter eggs, prepping casseroles, prepping Easter dinner with my husband and kids (it's always a family affair around here!), catching up with friends and family via Zoom and FaceTime and hanging with my peeps (not the marshmallow kind, but maybe some of those too!).

We've enjoyed our time at home this week, although Ava still wakes up every morning lamenting the fact that we were supposed to go to Florida in 5 days. 4 days. 3 days. 2 days...

I'm not kidding. Every morning we hear about it.


It didn't help that the ground was covered in snow this morning...Lol. 

I keep telling her that she's going to survive and there will be plenty more Florida trips! 

But all in all, we are healthy and have had fun together. I even organized a salad bar at lunch yesterday and got a whole bunch of, "Wow, mom(s)!" from my kids (the shining standard of mom compliments!). 

Yesterday we finished writing Easter cards (not something we usually do, but wanted to send some extra love this year because we can't see anyone). Finally made and decorated our Peep houses (photos below), and freshened up our Resurrection Eggs, which we'll use at some point this weekend while talking with the girls about the Easter story.

We are planning to watch a Good Friday service through a local church here tonight, and will watch Easter Sunday services through our church on Sunday morning (as many of you will, I'm sure!).

All in all, it's a strange April for sure. A memorable Easter. A different kind of year altogether...

But one thing remains the same: 

Hebrews 13:8-- my key verse during this time of quarantine: 

Jesus Christ remains the SAME yesterday, today and forever

Blessings to you all. Have a Happy Easter. I'll be back early next week with some encouragement on surviving l-o-o-n-n-g-g days at home with your kids from a momma who has 10 full-time years of stay at home mom tricks up her sleeve! 

Thursday, April 9

Celebrating Easter: Day 5 (Thursday)

Yesterday was a whirlwind of a day, so much so that I never made it over here to post. Sorry about that. Though I have a feeling that many of you, like me, are finding your days so full with meals, and groceries and navigating the kid's school work that finding time for other things that you hope to get to (crafts, blogging, reading, whatever-you-like-doing) is proving challenging. 

It dawned on me this week week that even though our schedule has changed dramatically that our days still feel very, very full. Initially, when the schools announced that the kids weren't going back to school and that everything was shutting down it felt like we were going to have ALLLL of this time. I suppose we do have more time in some ways, but less in others, if that makes any sense. 

As moms our days are packed to the brim with so much-- we're navigating emotions, and interpersonal dynamics, and meals, and then trying to orchestrate everyone's help to clean up the mess, or at least clean off the kitchen table (which is covered in schoolwork, craft supplies and all other manner of stuff) so that we can eat dinner (at least that's what happened at our house yesterday!). 

Yet, in the middle of it all...

In the middle of it all we make time to love, and connect, and celebrate holidays with as much energy and intention as we can because we know that memories are in the making. 

So, I started my day in scripture (I'm reading through the end of the book of Mark right now)
to center my heart and mind for the day, and then tried to write some intentions down (aka: a very loose to-do list) so that I know what direction I'm heading when everything gets noisy and busy in about an hour. 

We'll be working on the Easter cards we started yesterday-- the girls colored pictures and paper eggs  to put in some of them, and signed their names in all of them. The plan is to mail cards to close friends and family (today) and put them in the mailboxes of many of our neighbors on Saturday as well. 

For us, the card making and delivering is a small act of worship during this Easter season.

As I was reading through Mark 14 this morning I was moved by the story of Mary pouring her most expensive oil over Jesus' head to anoint him-- an act of worship towards him in his last days. What struck me most profoundly was that as others gasped at her actions, Jesus says this, "Leave her alone. Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing...She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare me for burial." 

She did what she could. 

The whole story is a beautiful reminder of what it looks like to worship Christ wholeheartedly.
Mary did not have much, but she gave what she had. She might not even have been sure of how to express her heartfelt love for Jesus, but she did what she could. 

During these times of our own uncertainty,  when it feels like we're not sure what to do or how to celebrate because so much as changed, I'm reminded by this story to simply do what I can to express Jesus love to those around me. To do what you can to worship Him. 

Doing what we can will look different for each of us-- we all have different family dynamics, personalities and resources. Perhaps it's making a phone call or dropping a card off at an elderly relatives house. Perhaps its finding a way to say Happy Easter to your neighbors. Perhaps it's spending a few quiet moments reading the gospel stories on your own today to prepare your heart for the Easter weekend, and then praying about how you can share these stories with your family in a way that is age appropriate for them. 

Whatever it is, do what you can. 

After our cards are done we're going to be working on our Resurrection Eggs today. As I mentioned earlier this week, we made these a couple of years ago and they have been well loved and used (so much so that they are now a tradition in our Easter celebration each year!). We're going to freshen them up with new craft paper and re-fill some of the eggs that have lost their pieces along the way. 

The very best instructions I've found for making them are in this website right here:

We will probably sit down and walk through the Easter story with ours on Saturday night, and then bake resurrection rolls with the girls on Sunday morning (another favorite tradition). 

If you are local and you haven't downloaded the "Walking Through Holy Week" packet from Eastern Hills Wesleyan Church I would highly recommend it (remember, scroll down to "download swag bag printables"). There are still a lot of great suggestions and activities that you can do with your kids/family this weekend to celebrate Easter, including a beautiful summary and description of a traditional Seder Passover meal (which is what Jesus would have been sharing with is disciples at the last supper). 

Eastern Hills is also passing out Good Friday kits from 12-5 today-- it's a drive-thru pick up and the they'll be broadcasting adult and children's (separately) Good Friday services tomorrow. You can find the details here. 

We'll post before and after pictures of our Resurrection Eggs tomorrow!