Fearless Faith, Mission Motherhood, Uncategorized

JOY

WOW.  Putting aside time to write has felt near impossible these past few months.  Between the baby being a baby and the two-year-old being a two-year-old and the seven-year-old actually being very helpful and the dogs and the kitten and my husband also having interests, along with a job to support our not-so-tiny family…when is there time for me to sit at the computer and get my thoughts out?  If I don’t have time to clean the bathrooms, do the dishes, get caught up on laundry, vacuum, or any of the other “housewifey” things that I feel like should be simple tasks to complete– how can I justify spending 45 minutes in front of the computer?  I’d be the first to tell another busy mom (or dad, for that matter) that self-care is not selfish…but when taking my own advice, I obviously struggle.

IT’S A NEW YEAR, FRIENDS!!  Can you believe it!?  2018? 

Like most of everyone, I’d assume, I did some careful reflection over my 2017.  I had a friend suggest to write things that I wanted to thank God for…and, in the midst of a heavy year, I found so many things that were more than worthy of praise.  –In this activity, I had to quickly realize that acknowledging that I’m grateful for events while mourning the death of a loved one does not negate the pain I still feel.  To me, after a few deep breaths, it felt like an unnatural but necessary part of grieving that I likely wouldn’t have taken the time to do had this friend not literally handed me pencil and paper as she posed this question.  Following the question about thanksgiving, she asked: “What in your life needs to die for new growth to emerge?”  …These two questions churned hard in my heart.  For what do I need to give thanks and what do I need to bury to start fresh?  Christians likely think of Jesus’s suffering on the cross, being buried, and raised again to life so that we, too, can have everlasting life.  Atheists, agnostics, and individuals of other religions or beliefs might have an easier time thinking of a tree.  (This was the analogy that I immediately thought of, honestly.)  I’m not even sure if this analogy is true or backed by science, but I heard one time years ago that a tree lets go of its leaves not because they’re unneeded during the fall and winter months, but because their branches would be too heavy to support the weight of the leaves in addition to the ice or snow that often falls during the colder months.  In order for the tree to bear the weight of the snow, it must let go of the leaves grown in the previous season.  It’s because of this defense that the tree keeps its branches and is allowed to produce new leaves and new life each year.

“What in your life needs to die for new growth to emerge?”  

For me, the answer wasn’t one that I wanted to hear…but it was an immediate lump in my throat and I knew that I had to put pen to paper: ego, pride, self-reliance, and comparison.  Between Pinterest and Facebook and Instagram and Snapchat and self-help sections and DIY projects, it is so easy to find myself buried in a pile of “oh-my-God-how-am-I-ever-supposed-to-get-all-of-this-done-in-15-minutes-and-the-veggies-are-burning-and-why-is-there-snot-all-over-your-face-son?”  And, instead of asking for help, I’ll look on Pinterest to find ways to make my one person become so efficient that I’m able to complete the tasks of several while still caring for my children and modeling for them the values that I want so badly so soften their hearts in a world that suggests toughening up.  Why do I look on Pinterest?  Why do I ask for recommendations on Facebook about organization and quick meals?  Why do I think I should do it all and why do I think I have to EARN a break by completing everything?  In teaching, I know that students perform better if they’re given frequent breaks.  Why would I think it would be any different as an adult?  I also tell my children regularly, “Do not yell at me.  Do not whine.  If you need help, all you need to do is use your words and ask.  I’d be happy to help.”  I was on the phone with my mom a little over a week ago, and she said, “Dani, why don’t you ask me to help you?  I’d be glad to come watch the kids for a while.  You just need to tell me when you need me.”  My mother in law, aunts, grandma, friends, neighbors, etc. have all said the same thing.  Why is it so hard to ask for help?  Ego.  Pride.  Self-reliance.  “I got it.”  “I can do it.”  Or the worst of all: COMPARISON.  “But I saw on Facebook– SHE has kids…THEY goes on vacations…HER house is clean…HER meals are perfect…THEIR bodies are flawless…SHE is a better mom/wife/Christian/daughter/friend/person than me…THEY ARE BETTER.”  I know I’m not the only one who does this.  Right?  Right.

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt

For the past several years, I’ve chosen a word to focus on through the upcoming year.   Each year I’ve experienced transformation.  The first year, my word was “INTENTION.”  Year two: “IDENTITY.”  Last year: “PEACE.”  This year: “JOY.”

In the previous years, I’ve mediated and prayed about my word because I wanted to pick the perfect word for the most drastic spiritual transformation.  This year, I didn’t do anything to receive my word.  –I have not been able to get away from my word for MONTHS.  It literally keeps showing up everywhere.  I know, you’re probably thinking, “Well, Christmas was just here…and ‘JOY to the World’ and JOY-this and JOY-that…”  But it’s been more than just the typical Christmastime sightings.  And it started prior to Christmastime festivities.  So my focal word for 2018 is JOY.  As a noun, it’s great…of course: “a feeling of happiness”–but as a verb…that’s truly where I’m going to place my focus: “rejoice.”  Can you imagine how much less stressed and resentful I would feel if I would stop comparing my dirty dishes to yours or hers or his or theirs…and instead took a minute to rejoice?  It sounds hokey.  But I’m going to try it, because it can’t hurt.  I’m going to rejoice in the dishes that show my family has eaten today…Rejoice in the laundry that shows my family has plenty of weather appropriate clothing…Rejoice in the aching shoulders and arms that show my children feel comforted in my care….Rejoice in the many friends and family who offer to help and say YES because self-care is not selfish.  Rejoice in the knowledge that I’m not so important that another person can’t watch my kids or load the dishwasher or fold the laundry…Rejoice in the recognition of some control issues and the ability to ask for help instead of drowning because I refuse to let go of the idea that I can complete everything on my own.  Rejoice in letting the dead leaves fall to the ground (ego, pride, self-reliance, comparison) in order for fresh leaves and new life to emerge (JOY).

 

 

 

joyDo you have a word for 2018?  If you haven’t yet chosen one, I encourage you to choose a word that resonates with your soul.  Choose a word that encourages growth and demands action, but is gentle enough to tuck away at night and allow you to sleep
peacefully.  If you have already chosen a word, I’d love for you to comment with your word.  No explanations.  Just the word.  I believe in support…I believe in the power of prayer…and I believe that the simplicity of a single word can be extraordinarily impactful.

Until I get the chance to write again, from my heart to yours, Happy New Year!

xox,
Dani

Fearless Faith, Mission Motherhood

One Body

Lately I’ve found it difficult to communicate that I feel like I’m currently incompetent in my job.  No one likes admitting a struggle…especially when (in my mind) so many people would be like, “What are you talking about?!  You’re a stay-at-home-mom!  How can you be incompetent at staying home?!”  Well, I have a 7-year-old who is at school during the day, but I’m home with a 2-year-old and a 2-month-old and I feel like I’m drowning.  My entire adult life has been devoted to working with children and learning about children and playing with children and helping and laughing and guiding children.  So in this time that I’m home with my own two children, why is it that I feel like I’m not enough?  Why is it that I feel like I’m unable to provide the consistency, structure, flexibility, and grace that I’d be providing in a classroom?

23004819_10211304306345665_3895292108941796121_o

I start working when the first kid wakes up…which on some days is 4:00am…some days is 7:00am…  Eventually they nap, and IF I’M LUCKY it’s at the same time…so then I clean…and, by the time I think I have a second to get my thoughts together enough to read or write or take pictures or stare at the wall for 30 minutes– 52 seconds have gone by and one of the kids is awake again.  I typically smell of coffee breath and baby puke…and there have been times when I’ve felt resentful toward each and every living thing in this house– including my children and the dogs…because they are yet another thing that I stress about as I’m drifting to sleep at night:  Do they [the dogs] have food?  Have they had any water today?  Oh my God, I don’t think I let them out after dinner…wait…DID THEY GET FED?  How is October still alive?…but, really, does she have an ear infection?…and what is that rash on her belly?–She is SO old…HOW IS SHE STILL LIVING?  Oh my Jesus, Tommy will be devastated when she dies…I HAVE to make sure I’m the one to find her.  Geez, then what will I do?  I can’t lift her……  I wonder if Tommy gave her meds tonight…because I gave her meds…did I unintentionally overdose her?  Can dogs have kidney failure?  Oh my GOD, Summit had to have just pooped on the floor…No?  THAT was just GAS?!  Uhhhhhhhh why am I not sleeping?!  …DID we overdose October?  I hope she’s okay…Uggggh…I’ll just get up and go check on her…

Does that sound familiar?  I know I’m not the only mom who does this.  I’m sure there are dads that ALSO do this very thing…but not in my house, because my husband can fall asleep in about 45 seconds and will not wake until ready to be woken.  Doesn’t that sound AMAZING?!  I hear EVERYTHING…and, as soon as I’m awake, the cycle of thoughts starts all over again: Please tell me there aren’t wet clothes in the washer…I think I switched them…but I really don’t want them to smell like mildew…I should get up and check…but what if Jett hears me?…wait, when did Indie eat last?…should I just go ahead and feed her while I’m awake?…oh, she’ll be due to eat in 30 minutes or so…I might as well just stay up……

At small group a few weeks ago, we read 1 Corinthians 12:12-26– And, while I’m sure the author did not intend for these words to apply to household roles, I couldn’t help but feel a wave of comfort as I allowed this scripture to sink in.

Unity and Diversity in the Body

12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[c] one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it,25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

–I’d love to say that I immediately relate this piece to my relationship with the world…or with the church…and how I can be Jesus alongside everyone and to everyone because we all have something vital to offer…sometimes what I need to do is bring it down reeeeeally small, put on my egocentric shades, and apply it to where I am right now.  This might not be the case for you, but for this stay-at-home-mom, it’s easy to let my mind drift to:
“Well, I’m not earning a paycheck…”
“Well, I’m home all day…why have I not gotten the laundry caught up?”
“…Why are there still dishes in the sink?  …Why has the vacuum not left the closet in three weeks?  …Why does the bathroom smell like urine and why is there toothpaste residue?”
“Well, I’m home all day…why does my barely-two-year-old not know his colors, shapes, and alphabet?”
“Why is dinner not ready?”
–But, after reading this, I’m trying to give myself more grace and to give God more credit.  I have always felt equipped to work with children…the difference now is that I am working with the same children every minute of every hour of every day for years– and it often feels like there are no true breaks. There’s no clocking out…and my role rarely changes. I am “Mom.” And even though “Mom” wears so many hats, the role is still “Mom.” Everyone in our home has a role…everyone has a job… Is my job any less important because I’m “not earning a paycheck?”  Is my husband’s job any more important because he does?  Am I failing miserably at my job because I’m unable to mark every single task off my to do list every day?…or is my husband failing miserably because he’s continuing to wear clean clothes to work and therefore producing laundry?  …Just as my life would be significantly impacted if my husband suddenly quit his job, his life would be significantly impacted if I suddenly quit mine.  Even when I think I’m getting nothing accomplished, I’m drowning in baby puke, and I’m a lousy excuse as a stay-at-home-mom…I need to remember that: “As it is, there are many parts, but one body.” No single person makes our family the unit that it is– it’s a collective effort from each part to produce one body from our house and transform it into our home.

Isn’t it amazing how a piece of literature from thousands of years ago has the ability to be this breathable document that can provide so much peace and clarity to present day circumstances?–and it might not provide that to anyone else…but, for me, it was exactly what I needed to hear. Has there been an instance in which you’ve stumbled upon the perfect scripture to shine light on a current or past dilemma in your own life? We would love to hear your stories! Feel free to comment below or join our Facebook group of the same name: Birds of a Feather. Thanks for flocking with us!

Happy Homesteading

Meal Planning Crash Course: Week Three of October

Sad story, bro:  I wrote a draft last night and didn’t hit publish, because I wasn’t quite finished with the final links…and none- of- it- saved.  (Enter crying emoji here.  …Can I use emojis in WordPress?  …Can I use emojis on a laptop?  Remind me to research this at a later date.)

jettCan I also tell you the whole truth?  I didn’t make a single meal that was on my menu for last week.  Wanna know why?  Last week felt chaotic–and flexibility is key with a newborn.  And this week…I’m 1 for 3.  BUT I have faith that as long as I keep planning and purchasing the ingredients I need for what’s on the menu, eventually I’ll get to a place where I can actually focus on the intended meal.

 

 

kids

 

 

What’s your experience with cooking after having a baby?  Did you find yourself eating healthier?  Could you follow a menu or meal plan?–or did everything feel like you were flying by the seat of your pants every night?  I’d love to hear what you think and how you tackled family meal times.  ♥

 

 

Disclaimer: To those of you who know me, this may come as a surprise to see that I’ve written an entry on the blog about meal planning.  Please know that my intent is to share weekly meal plans of the most simplistic “easy-to-throw-together-and-have-leftovers-for-the-next-day’s-lunch” type of meals.  Basically, I’m just sharing with you what our family is eating to give you a fresh idea for your family’s menu.  I hope to have the next week’s menu posted by Wednesday each week, so you can prepare for the grocery store, if needed.  ALSO: I plan 5 meals a week.  That leaves one night for leftovers and one night for dining with family/outside of the home.  The majority of the meals you will see are not super healthy…and none of them are conscious of gluten, dairy, or other allergies that are so prevalent; however, if you would be willing to leave a comment on how you’ve tweaked the recipes to make them more “diet friendly” or “dairy/egg/gluten free” or even just better overall (I’m not a chef and I won’t be offended), we would LOVE your input.


October 2017

Week One:
Mama Mary’s “Homemade” Pizzas
Chili (we pair this with a cornbread mix that happens to be gluten free and delicious)
Chili Dogs (I feel like this is self explanatory, but: Prepare hotdog, then cover with leftover chili and cheese.  Have a salad on the side so you’re having something that your body will thank you for.)
Chicken Salad Sandwiches (I linked my latest favorite.  I had it for lunches regularly when I was following Weight Watchers. ♥)
Baked Burritos (If you don’t bake them, they can be prepared in bulk, SaranWrapped, frozen, and microwaved for later consumption.)

Week Two:
Breakfast (This is my husband’s night to shine in the kitchen!  He makes scrambled eggs and biscuits and gravy…and it’s so amazing. –Oh, one more thing:  We use Pillsbury frozen biscuits.  They are the closest to the taste of homemade we’ve found…minus the effort.)
Potato Soup
Sloppy Johns (Okay, so it’s Sloppy Joes…but my daughter has always called them Sloppy Johns…so that’s what we call them.  Also, I’ve attached Dad’s recipe, as told by Dad.)
Tater Tot Casserole (I linked a recipe in another blog…Is that even legal?!  Am I going to get arrested?!  …I’m only half kidding.  But I haven’t tried this recipe yet, so I’m not sure what adjustments I’ll want to make.  If you try it before I do, let me know what worked and what you changed!)
Burgers (with a side of broccoli...nomnomnom)
*Note: My husband typed the recipes he uses for the gravy and the burgers…that’s why the wording and format is a little different than mine.  …I talk and carry on…and he’s very to-the-point.

Week Three:
Fajitas
Chicken Tortilla Soup
Pasta in Olive Oil (You will want garlic bread and salad to pair with this.  …Are you aware that you can buy OLIVE GARDEN dressing?!  It is HEAVENLY.)
Chicken Noodle Casserole (I love to serve this with corn and blueberry muffins.  SO GOOD.)
Jambalaya (If you are feeding kids or someone who gets heartburn easily, you might want to give them a head’s up before eating this.  It’s got a bit of a kick.)

Happy Homesteading, Uncategorized

Meal Planning Crash Course: Week Two of October

Week two of October is up and ready for your clicks and input!  I apparently am unable to stick to my word of getting this up and posted by Wednesday morning…Thanks for being patient with me!  …Here’s a picture of why I can’t get anything accomplished in a timely manner.  They’re cute, aren’t they?  The newborn in my husband’s arms is pretty mild still…but the other two keep me on my toes constantly.  CONSTANTLY.

IMG_9212

Curious: What did you guys have for dinner this week?  Or what are you having for dinner?  Have you tried any of the recipes my family has used?  What did you like, dislike, or change?

Disclaimer: To those of you who know me, this may come as a surprise to see that I’ve written an entry on the blog about meal planning.  Please know that my intent is to share weekly meal plans of the most simplistic “easy-to-throw-together-and-have-leftovers-for-the-next-day’s-lunch” type of meals.  Basically, I’m just sharing with you what our family is eating to give you a fresh idea for your family’s menu.  I hope to have the next week’s menu posted by Wednesday each week, so you can prepare for the grocery store, if needed.  ALSO: I plan 5 meals a week.  That leaves one night for leftovers and one night for dining with family/outside of the home.  The majority of the meals you will see are not super healthy…and none of them are conscious of gluten, dairy, or other allergies that are so prevalent; however, if you would be willing to leave a comment on how you’ve tweaked the recipes to make them more “diet friendly” or “dairy/egg/gluten free” or even just better overall (I’m not a chef and I won’t be offended), we would LOVE your input.


October 2017

Week One:
Mama Mary’s “Homemade” Pizzas
Chili (we pair this with a cornbread mix that happens to be gluten free and delicious)
Chili Dogs (I feel like this is self explanatory, but: Prepare hotdog, then cover with leftover chili and cheese.  Have a salad on the side so you’re having something that your body will thank you for.)
Sandwiches (I linked my latest favorite.  I had it for lunches regularly when I was following Weight Watchers. ♥)
Burritos (If you don’t bake them, they can be prepared in bulk, SaranWrapped, frozen, and microwaved for later consumption.)

Week Two:
Breakfast (This is my husband’s night to shine in the kitchen!  He makes scrambled eggs and biscuits and gravy…and it’s so amazing. –Oh, one more thing:  We use Pillsbury frozen biscuits.  They are the closest to the taste of homemade we’ve found…minus the effort.)
Potato Soup
Sloppy Johns (Okay, so it’s Sloppy Joes…but my daughter has always called them Sloppy Johns…so that’s what we call them.  Also, I’ve attached Dad’s recipe, as told by Dad.)
Tater Tot Casserole (I linked a recipe in another blog…Is that even legal?!  Am I going to get arrested?!  …I’m only half kidding.  But I haven’t tried this recipe yet, so I’m not sure what adjustments I’ll want to make.  If you try it before I do, let me know what worked and what you changed!)
Burgers (with a side of broccoli…nomnomnom)
*Note: My husband typed the recipes he uses for the gravy and the burgers…that’s why the wording and format is a little different than mine.  …I talk and carry on…and he’s very to-the-point.