I stopped seeing the beauty

So if you know me, you know how obsessed I’ve been with my kids over the years.

〰️

You’ve seen the thousands of pictures I’ve posted of them

〰️

You’ve seen all the heart felt posts about them

〰️

Lately, there hasn’t been much of that. I stopped seeing the beautiful gifts that God has given me and started to see them as burdens that exhaust me

〰️

“I have to get them to bed, finish praying, stop saying all the I Love You’s, so I can go downstairs and clean the kitchen, get stuff ready for tomorrow so I can be prepared to take them to school, be a good mom to them, blah blah blah”

〰️

But am I being a good mom? Am I being a good mom by constantly thinking of the next thing I HAVE to do, in order to be their mom?

〰️

I’ve realized recently that I have been doing this. That I’m constantly exhausted and feel the heaviness of the “burden” of having kids and wondering when the heaviness will release. When will I get out from the rock? Or whatever is on top of me, weighing me down?

〰️

A good friend reminded me that motherhood is not supposed to be easy. We are called to die to ourselves every day and this is the assignment for now. This is just how this season is. Yes, it is tiresome and exhausting, but it’s not going to stop being this way for awhile. Expect it. Stop expecting it to be easy when this job was never meant to be easy

〰️

The more I have expected it to be easy, the more exhausted and frustrated I become at my kids and at the fact that I’m working full time and can’t take care of them the way I WANT to.

〰️

Jesus knew I’d be working full time. He knew I’d have four kids right now, that we’d live in a teeny tiny house with no central heat and a water heater that goes out after half a shower.

〰️

I have to stop trying to get somewhere I’m not supposed to be yet. It’s not time for me to be well known on social media, and that time may never come. It’s not time for me to be able to stay home with my kids, and God has a reason for that that I may never know.

〰️

This is not a season of rest. And no matter how much I love snuggling into my bed and writing long blog posts and dreaming of working from home so I can raise my kids at the same time, that’s not my assignment. I’m called to fold laundry instead of laying in bed, I’m called to do the dishes when I come home instead of brainstorming, I’m called to read to these girls instead of turning on the TV.

〰️

Tough pill to swallow. The medicine might taste bad, but in the end, I’ll be thankful for it.

A mean girl

“You guys don’t know cursive, do you?” She asked my two very sweet girls minding their own business while drawing pictures.

“I know how to write my name is cursive.” My oldest responded, still staring down at her paper

“But you don’t learn how to write in cursive for anything else, huh?” She shot back.

“What DO you guys learn at school?” Our 9-year-old homeschooled neighbor asked but it was more of a statement than anything else. 

My 3rd grader proceeded to tell her the things they learn at school. And I could hear our neighbor’s eyes rolling to the back of her head. Just like her mother’s eyes do when I talk to her about how our kids are going to school and we don’t homeschool because I work full-time. Plus, God just didn’t give me the desire or the gift to homeschool my kids even if I didn’t work full-time. Sorry bout it. 

Lord, please take away these thoughts. Help me to not hate a family. 

Yeah, I said it. And it’s a shameful part of my heart. But it is a real struggle that is constant. This family has been the most judgemental family to ever encounter our family. Every dynamic about our families are different, especially the grace we show each other…or the lack of it. And most of the time, it hits me where it hurts. 

I was bullied by girls like this in elementary school. I was nice and sweet, like my oldest is. I didn’t think bad thoughts about the other girls. I wasn’t trying to compete with them. I didn’t think I was better than them or felt threatened by them. I didn’t think lowly of them. I just wanted to be their friend. My oldest is the same way. 

“…what was your name again?” She asked my 6-year-old for the 5th time since she’d been over for the last two hours. We’ve lived two doors down from them for 8 months and have played with them almost every single week since then. She knows her name. 

“…oh you guys drink from water bottles? That’s interesting.” With eyebrows raised and pinched lips.

Protecting your family from people who leave you feeling badly about yourself is something I don’t think I’m very good at. 

I’m better at exposing ourselves to those people and then explaining to the girls why we aren’t going to act like them, or treat other people like that. And then, how they are to handle people who treat them that way. We will still be respectful to them, but I do limit the time they are exposed to them and will come up with some bogus excuse as to why it’s time for them to go home.

My daughters will encounter girls like this. Who throw daggers from their mouths, who live in households where this is not ever corrected or even observed…in which case it is probably modeled. 

Most of the time, the daggers are subtle, feeling more like bee stings than stabs. But then the comments are so frequent that you realize it’s starting to hurt, that something isn’t right.

When you are an outsider looking in on this type of behavior, watching and listening to how your children respond to the “mean girl”…it’s a sobering feeling. But at the same time, it’s paralyzing. You don’t know what to do in this situation because their parent isn’t here and you’re NOT their parent. You also might not be close enough with this family to have an understanding of what kind of behavior is acceptable in your home and what is not…and if they will be offended if you correct their child. 

If you look closely at the girls coloring together. It looks nice. They may all be smiling. Oftentimes my girls won’t even know when something mean was said. But I’ll know. And the one throwing the daggers–she knows. 

It’s in moments like this, where you are in the most uncomfortable situation and you feel like you are betraying your children by allowing this person into their lives. By not cutting off that friendship quick and fast. There will be periods of time that I’ll put off those weekend playdates, or I’ll tell them I need help with the laundry first or “maybe when ______”, or “it looks like they aren’t home.”

But I come to the realization that I won’t always be around to put those boundaries around them. One day they will encounter those mean girls at school (they already have), where they will see them every single day. They will not be able to escape them. And all they can do is understand how to react and handle this situation. Identifying what is happening and understanding that they aren’t going to allow themselves to be treated that way, because they recognize the feeling of “oh, that hurt. Why did it hurt? Because it was mean. And people who are my friends don’t make me feel this way.”

So after I make up an excuse to send her home, my girls will ask about the excuse. Usually it revolves around chores. And I’ll tell them that the way she was treating them was not respectful and it was time for her to go home. Then we’ll talk about what is respectful and what about the things she said was mean, and unacceptable in our house. 

Please don’t mistake…I know a mean girl when I see one. And sometimes, that mean girl in is one of my girls. And in my opinion, it’s my responsibility to help her understand when she is acting like someone who is not welcomed in our home. Nobody is perfect and I know my girls will fail. They will throw daggers and hurt someone’s feelings. They already have. But I’m not in the business of raising perfect women, I’m in the business of raising wise, kind, prudent, discerning and strong women. 

And that means that they can say uncomfortable things to their sisters and their friends to correct them when they know they are not being treated in a respectable way. 

“Excuse me, Maya, I wasn’t done talking. Please don’t interrupt me.”

“Elena, that wasn’t very nice and you hurt my feelings. Can you please say you’re sorry?”

I am one of the worst communicators I know. I feel very uncomfortable living a life where I don’t apologize for someone else’s faults, where I can be confident in myself because I am confident in the Lord’s love for me, where I don’t have to fight for other people’s attention and focus on me because I’m rooted in Jesus, and where I’m not afraid to call out what is right and what is wrong. 

That’s the ultimate struggle! To be like Jesus was. Being strong and kind and loving. By confronting sin with respect and kindness. Understanding your worth, while calling out the best in others around you. And doing that, is not always nice and easy and comfortable. It comes as a shock to someone and may even offend them, but it doesn’t change what is good, right and true. 

And because of that, despite how uncomfortable I’ll feel by correcting another woman’s daughter in my home–I do it. Because I have respect for my daughters and my home and I also have respect for THAT daughter. Who may not know, that what she just said or how she said it was disrespectful and hurtful. I’ll do it in a firm but kind way, so she knows that yes, she is welcome back in our home but not if she decides to speak this way.

And if she goes home and her mom is offended by that, I will show my girls what it looks like to have respect for myself, while calling others to respect me as well, unafraid that she might not like me anymore (because if I’m honest, she doesn’t really like me as it is, so what am I even losing?) because Jesus has called me to identify what is good, right and true, as well as being strong, prudent and discerning.

A daycare desert

In 20 years, if people ask me what was the hardest part during my season of raising kids, this is the moment I’ll reflect on.

Dropping my girls off at daycare 

Listen, I’ve been taking my kids to daycare since I first started having kids. I was a college student when I first became a mom and was determined to finish, so it was decided that they would be watched by family members and be in daycare. 

The benefit I had with that particular time, was that the in-home daycare I was taking them to was amazing and the woman who ran it was an angel sent from the Lord. Not exaggerating. She basically potty trained my oldest. (Don’t ask me for potty training tips)

I really didn’t have a hard time with drop off because I knew they were loved and cared for with integrity. I would later take them to a Montessori school/daycare that my mom worked at and we were able to go for free, which was a God send. I love Montessori schools. That would eventually end and they would go to another in-home daycare with a woman who was Spanish speaking (my kids are half Mexican) so we absolutely loved this and she would speak to them in Spanish. She had kids of her own and they loved on our girls so much. 

While all this was great, we were extremely privileged. We lived in Suburb, USA in Southern California where the standard of living is extremely high compared to the rest of the places we’ve lived. So most of our childcare options were pretty good options, even if they were not the preferred option. 

Then we came to East Tennessee. Where it is literally considered a childcare desert. Which means that in certain areas there are terrible choices for childcare and the good ones are a pretty good drive away. 

The standard of living here, is below the poverty line and everyone is looking for work, so they can just survive. There are lots of women offering childcare services in their homes for a decent price but most of the time, their homes are filled with smoke filled carpets and wallpaper that haven’t seen a stint of clean air in 40 years. 

I’m not bagging on smokers. You do you, okay. But if you’re going to care for children, this is just a big huge NO F***ING WAY. In California one of our pediatricians told me that if any family members who were smokers wanted to hold our baby, they’d have to change their shirt after smoking a cigarette. 

Change their shirt.

Now imagine someone smoking in their home, or going outside to smoke, 15 times a day and coming back inside to care for children who will most likely acquire lung cancer in 50 years because of this insane exposure. 

My husband and I visited a woman’s home to see if it would be a good place for our two youngest to go. Walking up to the house, I looked down as I lost my step and a trail of cigarette buds caught my eye. I realized after not seeing the end of cigarette trail that this would be a bad experience 

She opened the door and I couldn’t breathe. I didn’t even look at my husband, I knew he had already started to hold his breath. We walk inside to find a basement turned make-shift daycare, dark and dreary with sheets covering the windows. The TV blaring and 6 little toddlers running around. My heart sank. 

Because I knew these parents had no other option but to take their kids here. 

Daycare is expensive. It typically costs more than your mortgage or rent, especially if you’re paying for more than one child. And if you live in a childcare desert, there are caretakers that will exploit your need. 

We eventually found a daycare, we were lucky and have been on the state program for childcare assistance which alleviates a ton of stress and pressure. 

It is still not the ideal place I want my children to be at. There’s a reason they accept our childcare assistance voucher. There’s more children and less teachers then there should be. They will be overlooked at times, their sippy cups and blankets will get switched around on accident, sometimes they come home with a different brand of diapers then what we have in our diaper bag and they have never been more sick. 

But at the same time, I have never been more thankful for this childcare. No, the women watching them aren’t as qualified as I’d prefer, they might not greet me with the cheerful smile I expect when I walk through the door to drop my daughters off in the hands of strangers for the next 9 hours and there are more tears in the furniture than there should be. 

But we live in a childcare desert, where our alternatives are honestly unthinkable. Our budget doesn’t allow for us to drive 30 minutes west to where my childcare standards are exceeded. 

And if God has taught me anything from moving to a city that is as far opposite of Suburb, USA where I grew up, it’s that our world is so much more broken than I grew up understanding. 

There are more people on the streets than I think. 

There are more working mothers waking up at 5am so they can catch the bus, take their kids to school and get to work, (at the daycare that my children go to)…then I ever actually thought. 

He has given me more respect, compassion and understanding for these people living below the poverty line, settling for their environment because they have no other choice. 

He gave me an understanding of what poverty actually is, and he’s doing the same for my daughters. They’re exposed to more at school than I ever was, they know more about drugs than I ever knew until I was older and they have the realization of what reality is for some people, because we drive past it everyday.

And I THINK he’s given me this gift of understanding, mostly because my heart leans toward being judgmental. Because of this experience, I don’t lean toward judgement of other moms and I won’t later on. I won’t judge the mom who takes her kids to a mediocre daycare or even a terrible one, because I’ll know she’s not proud of it. I’ll know the guilt she feels every morning when she drops her kids off. I’ll know the shame she feels as she drives away to go to work. And I’ll know how she pretends that it’s better than it actually is. I’ll know.

So if someone asks that in 20 years, I’ll say the hardest part was living in a childcare desert and trusting in God that my children will be okay. Experiencing the “no other choice” feeling that so many parts of America feel, as well as the rest of the world. And knowing that God doesn’t just live in the suburbs.

You’re not only a good mom if you take your kid to the best daycare with wooden toys. 

And you’re not a bad mom if you HAVE to take your kids to daycare. That is just the way things are sometimes, but the awesome thing is that God doesn’t work by chance. He’s an intentional God, pursuing you hard and fast, and he’s not in the game of playing favorites. This is the story of ALL of us. Poverty or not. Being a “good” mom comes in many different forms.

When will I stop needing help?

Why can’t I be the one helping someone else? I think to myself.

Why are we always the ones being helped, or needing help? I think, with resentment toward all the blessings I’m being bombarded with.

We’ve been married for almost 8 years, next month. 6 of them have been spent with my husband either at war, on trainings, missions, or schooling. 6 years of them and really more than that, have been spent apart. They’ve been spent individually.

He spent those years figuring out to be alone, watching his family grow from afar and learning how to fight for his country.

I’ve spent those 6 years figuring out how to be a mom. I don’t want to say single mom though, because for most of those years my husband was the bread-winner (I seriously hate that term). But he was.

Over the span of these long 8 years, we have needed quite a bit of help from other people. Whether it was friendship because I was alone most of the time or someone offering to watch my girls so I could study or clean…or have a nice Mother’s Day–gosh I cannot even describe how amazing it was for my cousin to come over in the morning and help my girls make me breakfast. It was help from my parents bringing all the girls soccer gear to their soccer games that we were consistently late to. It was family always opening their home to us, letting us stay as long as we needed. Giving us money in times of bad financial decisions. Helping us find jobs. Allowing me to have a “mom’s night out” to go to a Paint & Sip party, then go home to a newborn screaming for me, wishing I had my partner there with me…just to know that he was there. To watch my girls while I had the flu. To bring soup when I had the flu. Give us furniture. Give us food. Give me advice. Hear me vent. Bring over milk when it was too late to go get it and bring all my kids to the store. The amount of different kinds of help I have been presented with is purely amazing. But I also didn’t think it would last this long.

I thought this time of need would be over once my husband got out of Active Duty. It didn’t. In fact, we needed it more than ever after he was out. With trying to string our lives together on a fly because we weren’t ready to really be without the military just yet. To jump into jobs that didn’t pay enough, try to get my husband to go to school and work toward a career in something that he may actually enjoy. We weren’t out of the heat just yet.

This new season in a new state, brings new challenges and needs.

Needs.

I’ve realized that I hate needing things. I don’t like being out of toilet paper and needing to go get more. I don’t like being out of flour or milk.

I hate needing other people to help me and knowing that I couldn’t do it on my own.

This season has been slowly changing that. We have needed things like never before. I have needed an army to come alongside me to help with my girls. Childcare in TN is a desert, most of it is terrible and extremely expensive and the good ones are too far away. I’ve had new friends volunteer to watch my children for free while I work and my husband goes to school. I’ve had those same friends give us money just to do it, because I’m working two jobs right now, and they see me and care about me and our family.

I have a friend who knows that I’ll be going to church without my husband (he’s either studying or working for the Navy) with my children in tote, needing that extra help…and he’s there. He’s there with the stickers pre-printed, waiting for me to park, to carry my youngest for me so I can focus on the other girls and hold their hands. While his wife is inside holding a seat for me.

During tough marital spouts that we’ve had lately, I have been invited in these friends’ lives, they’ve allowed me to tell them my darkest feelings and never once feel judged for it and instead, they were there with complete understanding and love for my family. They take time out of their day because they know I need it. And they just give it. Without a thought.

They give me their time.

I told one of those friends the other day that I’m so tired of needing help. I just wish I could be the giver of help one of these days, and not need it!

“You will. This is why its being given to you so much now. So you can do the same for someone else later.”

She said.

I quietly thought to myself, you have no idea how long its been since I’ve been able to help someone else. 

I know she’s right. I know that I’m being shown how to give. This has been me learning from other people for the last 8 years. I’ve been in school.

During this time of being shown so much grace and help, I have started to welcome it, instead of resenting it. I know I need it and I know my heart is comforted by this help. It’s always at the right and perfect time, right before I feel like I’m going to break. I bend…for sure. But never break.

Now I know. I’ll be prepared to help. And if there is anything I have learned over the last 8 years of motherhood, it’s that if you aren’t prepared…you’re not going anywhere.

I’ll know how to help. I’ll understand what it looks like when someone needs help but won’t say it. I will give them my time. Our time is everything and if you stop your day to give your friend some of yours, it goes so much further than anything else you could ever give them.

 

Don’t save me, just listen to me

If you’re anything like me, I tell people things.

I used to pretend that I was always okay. So nobody would know what was actually happening in my marriage or my head.

But then I started to be honest.

My honesty was not a cry for help though

I’m honest with people so I can be honest with myself. So I can work through feelings and emotions. So I can confide in someone that will protect my heart.

I don’t confide in someone to fix me. I don’t want you to give me advice.

I want you to hear me say that I’m broken. That I’m numb. That I’m hurting. That I’m frustrated. That I’m mad.

And I just want you to sit there and listen.

Look at me and not feel pity. 

Feeling the realness of life does not mean you’re weak. It does not mean people should look at you and think lesser of you.

I just want you to be present with me. Not thinking of all the ways you can pray for me or all the things you should say to make it better. Because you won’t. Or all the ways that you feel sorry for me. Or how things should be.

Be there for me in the darkness. Hear me speak. Hear me cry. Make me feel safe enough to sit in your presence, in the quiet, in the tears, in the truth.

I know that this time will not last forever. I know Jesus is pursuing me, HARD. He has an army coming after me. Maybe you’re part of it? 

I need you to offer to do my dishes. Watch my kids so I can go read in quiet. Bring me coffee. Look at my four-kids-uniform and smile at it with admiration, not self-righteousness.

There will be a time, or there was a time in your life, where you need/needed the same things. And one thing you don’t want to see is someone look at you and think “you poor thing.”

No

I need you to look at me and think,

“You are a warrior. You are one of the strongest. You are special. You are amazing. I see your strength. I see your steadfastness. I see your faith. I see your spirit. I see your gifts and talents. I see your hope. I SEE YOU.”

And if you don’t see those things, then I ask that you pray for you to see them. But don’t come over until you do.

Don’t be the expert

I think something has happened with the way people blog right now. We’ve taken a turn from blogging through our trials, and describing the NOW. Instead we are trying to overcome the middle and get to the end as quick as possible.

So we can be the expert.

So we can be who you go to.

We want to give advice.

We want to give you, “10 ways to overcome _____________,” “7 Steps to ______________,” “How I dealt with ____________.”

But what if that’s not what we need? What if we need to see someone in the trial. We need to see you struggle. We want to see the human nature of life’s hardships.

But we don’t allow ourselves to even do that. Our pride is so big that we must overcome, come out on top, win win win, be delivered from…etc. You get what I’m saying.

Something that I have come to terms with and accept is that it is okay to not be an expert at everything. 

What I’m going through right now, I do not have to have mastered it in order to tell someone about it. I can talk about it while I’m IN IT.

Do you hear that??

YOU CAN TALK ABOUT IT WHILE YOU ARE IN THE MUCK AND THE MIRE.

In your DEPRESSION.

In your TRIAL.

In your ANGER.

In your LOSS.

In your GRIEF.

I have told myself this lie over and over for the past however many years,

oh, I can’t talk about that because I’m still going through it. 

We don’t need to wait.

There are lessons in that darkness you’re in.

There are blessings you need to tell people about.

There are people being brought into your lives to give you hope and show you the grace of JESUS!

And you need to speak of that grace.

And most of all, if you have the gift of story-telling and writing, you need to express it. You need to write it out for yourself. To see it, read it, know that it is happening and you can’t hide from it. You need to face this, so you can get past it.

AND THEN, you can tell people how you did it.

But do yourself a favor, and let people into your struggle. So much blessing happens when you do.

“Your Poor husband”

My oldest daughter has this thing she does when she’s uncomfortable but doesn’t want you to know. She slightly smiles and chuckles while scrunching her nose up as high as it could go but, its clear that the smile she has is forced. It’s how I can always tell when she’s lying to me about something. It’s how I can sense when something has hurt her feelings but she’s trying to be the “tough girl.” And all I want to do in those moments is tell her that it’s okay to not pretend you’re tough.

It’s good to feel your emotions and understand them. To decipher if what you’re feeling is true or if it’s a lie. But if you stuff it down, and pretend, you’ll never know what you feel or know about yourself. You won’t really understand if something actually bothers you or not.

I know this face. I know the expression so well. I can almost hear the unspoken words she’s saying as I’m watching her feel the realness of what she’s feeling.

“Ugh, you’re POOR husband.”

The woman says, as she looks at my four amazingly beautiful daughters.

One child is usually hanging on the side of the grocery cart. One is by my side trying to lead the pack as second-in-command. One is sitting in the children’s seat smiling at the person talking to us or trying to give me kisses. The other is either holding the hands of my older girls or she’s sitting uncomfortably in the grocery cart basket saying, “mommy, I want out!”

I want to start by saying, I understand this comment. I get that you “mean” well. You don’t have an ugly intention with this low-key snark remark.

All you’re saying is,

“man your husband’s dreams must have been crushed because he’s surrounded by girls that adore him. His only purpose in life was to have a boy and that was it. He would only enjoy fatherhood if he had boys to enjoy it with, who were like him. He must HATE being a dad to girls.”

Well, I want you to stop telling husband’s like mine, that. And I want you to stop telling my girls that boys are better than them. Because, without you actually realizing it, that is what you’re telling them.

Yep, my daughters will get chased around when they’re older. They will get hit on. They may have people make passes at them that are unwanted and unsolicited.

So…is this the only reason that my husband should dread being a dad to girls?

Is this the only reasoning behind the comments my daughters hear every single time we leave the house altogether?

The part that I “get” is that parenting daughters is hard in the teenage years. But I’m 95% sure that teenage boys are also very difficult. The other 5% is simply due to me not having more than one penis in my home (Sorry to the people who don’t call body parts by their name).

Often times I feel pressured in my people-pleasing brain to go along with this act. To pretend that I am also dreading having four girls. That I understand where that person is coming from, just so I don’t make them feel bad or uncomfortable that I don’t agree with them.

I say, ” Yep, we’re in trouble!” Or something stupid and cliche like that. Smile the fakest smile that I can muster, turn my head towards my oldest and rub her shoulder as I say it.

THAT is when I get the face. The face that tells me what that person just said hurt my child and made her feel uncomfortable. It made her feel inadequate and quite honestly, it always will. That face tells me that I just affirmed that person’s false assumption and made it look like I agree with them.

For the record, I wanted four boys. That is not a joke. That is what I used to tell my husband and it came from a selfish heart who wanted to be the center of attention.

I can’t say this enough…I am so glad God gave me four daughters. I am so glad I am their mother.

I’m so glad that I will get to shape a small corner of this world that happens to be female.

The only part I’m not glad about, is raising them in a world where being in a family of all girls is a bad thing, a worse thing, a burden, a dread, and something for someone who doesn’t even know us to feel pity for.

I have realized that this is a problem. So in my way defending my tribe of girls, I reply with “No, they are awesome. We are super blessed.” In that moment I look at Elena, my oldest. And I say, “Huh, Elena? We’re really lucky.” And she smiles…a real smile, and says “yeah.” This smile is different. When she smiles this smile, it brings warmth and goodness to her eyes, it shows that her heart is soothed and she is resting in knowing that she can trust that her mom knows the truth and sees the value in her and her sisters. I love this smile. 

And I just keep walking. I no longer give those comments space in my day or my girls’ day. It is not fair for them to hear comments that are unwarranted, making them think that their dad would be better off without them in his life or that his life isn’t full until he gets his boy. Almost as in insult to my husband as their dad. As if he couldn’t be the same caliber dad that he would, had he had a son.

So let my girls be. Let them be tough, kind, gentle…or simply just be a kid.

Let them be LOVED.

Let them be girls and not feel bad for it.

Let them love and be loved by their dad and not think twice about it.

Let them be in a family of women and help them know this is a GOOD thing!

Let them care for each other, have such an amazing bond that we cannot even fathom, let them have friendship that I would never have dreamed of for them.

Stand back and watch these four girls take on these phrases and kick out your predetermined assumptions of raising girls. Watch them bring their dad such a deep sense of joy that he was meant and built specifically to feel.

Because in my opinion, its awesome. They are strong, they are tough, gentle, kind, loving, discerning, wise, thoughtful, and most of all they are a child of God who was created equally as boys, both in the image of God…together. They are not lesser than. They just are.

 

I want to note that this may be a tad dramatic. But I understand the same things may be said to families of all boys. It’s not okay either way. Don’t make a family feel like their lives aren’t full quite just yet, simply because they lack a specific gender in their line-up. 

Lies + IG

Isn’t it funny that when we see these kinds of photos on social media that we assume happiness and perfectionism?

 

As if the soft faded lens and peaceful backdrop of the sunshine, the tall grass waving in the breeze, the crisp leaves on the trees, a random family standing in the middle of nowhere with children looking their happiest with the perfect smile resembling that they are the perfect child…this all means that this family is “okay” and “right” because they took these pictures.

Their marriage must be solid and intact, their children must be great listeners and don’t throw tantrums that leave their parents grasping for understanding and will power. They must not think about divorce, or have dealt with infidelity…they must be financially sound to be able to pay for $400 pictures (yep). They must not be in debt. They must have great jobs and provide for their family no problem.

They must not fight. Look, they’re kissing in the picture. 

Neither of them probably deal with anger issues or depression, or anxiety. 

Maybe going to war wasn’t that hard on her husband?

They probably haven’t lost a child.

 

It’s weird how a picture really does say 1000 words…even if they aren’t true.

Have you ever thought about that? That maybe all the things you’re thinking when you’re scrolling through IG are actually lies?

Yesterday I saw that a well-known young pastor had committed suicide, leaving behind two young boys and his young beautiful wife. This is the second time this year that I’ve heard of a very well-known pastor leaving behind his family who needs him. Dealing with depression and anxiety. Knowing the Lord more than most of us and yet…he took his life.

Despite all the perfectly edited pictures his wife took of him and their family. Despite leading the perfectly decorated, well lit, well designed and on trend church…there was darkness that people didn’t see or maybe didn’t want to see.

The seriousness, evil and danger that I see when I hear this kind of news is that no one is safe. I know Pastors are attacked by satan and evil more so than the rest of us, because they are leading the cause against evil.

BUT they are the ones we don’t expect it from. Just like these perfectly edited and posed pictures.

You never expect such a dark reality behind such a well lit front. Satan wants you to assume that your life is worse than that person, so that you hide it…behind another well-lit and edited front.

And that’s how it is sometimes. That’s how the devil wants it to be. He wants you to bury your darkness behind fake light. Behind the charismatic smile, the perfectly combed or curled hair.

Behind that industrial farmhouse fixer upper insta journey, you’re pushing down and hiding the anxiety attacks and depression that follows you around. No one can know how bad it is though because…then they’ll know. And how would that look? What would they think of you? They would never understand.

Behind your big move that you prayed for and felt led to do, the insta stories look so fun and cute. But you’re behind on four bills and working two jobs while you’re husband doesn’t help as much as you want him to and you feel completely alone, barely affording childcare and considering sending them to live with their grandma so you can catch up on bills. But you can’t tell anyone because what would they think? How would they view your husband? What would they think of you as a mother? Would you lose your friends? You’d really put money before your kids?-They’d say. They would never understand. So you hide, and pretend behind pretty pictures.

So instead of reaching out to someone…anyone. Asking for someone to pray for you. Venting the darkness out and being exposed into light–you hide. And the darkness festers, mutates, and grows until there’s no more room for it anymore.

There are two ways out, either you stop the darkness from growing on your own  and it ends everything or you present the gross mutated thing that it has become–to someone.

But you have to make sure it’s the right someone…who knows that this gross mutated thing is not as gross and bad as you may think. In fact, they may tell you that there are so many of these mutated creatures, that they have found the cure and if you had just asked someone about it in the beginning, they would have told you the cure is not found on your own and is not done in secret. It is found with many people, it is loud and sharp, it hurts…but in the end, it will be cured. You just have to endure, but it has to be known. And everyone surrounding you, will be so glad and relieved that you found the cure.

This is a dark thing to talk about isn’t it? Pictures/false realities making people feel hopeless, alone and thinking the only way out is to take themselves completely off the earth.

But I’m not wrong.

It’s weird to say this, but social media seems like it may be what is killing off more Christians than anything else.

So don’t believe the lies Satan is telling you while you scroll. 

 

In this picture of my family and I, we were going through a tough time. I’d say right now it is 100% harder but at this time in the picture, it felt dark and bad.

My husband had gotten back from his 4th deployment about 2 weeks prior, I was dealing with late on-set postpartum depression and didn’t know it, I decided to spend $400 on family photos and didn’t talk to my husband about the cost until our drive to do these photos which went excellent. We fought in the car on the way there, even threw out the idea of divorce. My husband was transitioning into the reserves and I was doing Real Estate, not making any money. Neither of us had jobs and were living on savings, with a mortgage north of $2000/month.

Because of my postpartum depression I was silently thinking he was cheating on me because of insecurities that had followed from a past affair in our marriage and I had no sex drive, no desire to workout and take care of myself, no desire to do or feel pretty much anything…except you know what? We should take some pictures that make us look like we are really happy and then maybe we will actually be happy.

It can always get worse. And it will, if you don’t take necessary steps to make it better.

Seeking after the wrong things

When we moved out here a couple months ago, I was imagining that we would live this total IG life.

I’d be a stay at home mom somehow, despite having plenty of bills to keep up with. And my husband would be a full-time student, maybe coaching CrossFit on the side if we found a good box that liked him, he’d continue to work at home depot making minimum wage…and things would just be fine and dandy.

But that wasn’t realistic and of course I needed to find a full time job that could provide for everything we need.

I am blessed enough to be educated, have a Bachelor’s Degree and experience. And sometimes it is very easy for me to get a good job. But it’s NOT easy being away from my kids and my home that needs to be a place of peace and love.

So why does this happen?

You have stressful financial needs…lots of children to be cared for…but certain seasons of your life that you THINK should be playing out in a different way, are being played out in a way that you may deem as inefficient, chaotic, “not the way it should be” and maybe you even think it could be unhealthy.

I’ve been dealing with jealousy during this time of our lives…and honestly a smidge (enormous) of embarrassment.

But why??

I should be proud and empowered that I am able to provide for my family. It is what we need and I’m stepping up. Why am I embarrassed that I can do that? And why do I feel shame for the fact that our season of life is not the same for other families’ seasons of life?

Do you fall in that trap sometimes?

I keep forgetting that my job does not define who I am. Just like being a mom does not define who I am. My job is a simple assignment that I am currently assigned to at this time. My identity is not defined by anything other than Jesus.

And man…do I forget that all the time.

It’s so hard to let that resonate in your soul. It is so hard to remind yourself of that daily. Every morning that I drop my kids off at daycare…every morning that I watch my kids step foot onto their school bus and feel shame…those are not my defining moments.

My defining moments come when I am walking back from the school bus stop praying for my children’s safety throughout their day. It is when I am acknowledging my lack of wisdom and praying for more of it. It is when I have a moment of humility because I realized how disrespectful I just was to my husband in my moment of frustration, and then understanding that I am forgiven no matter what and repenting for that moment of weakness. It is when we are trusting in the Lord that we need to leave everything that we are familiar with and accustomed to, to pick up and place ourselves where we know absolutely nothing and no one.

I am not defined by being a stay at home mom, or being a working mom. God does not judge me based on my placement of mothering. I am his daughter and I am loved. My children, who are His children, are under his protection whether I am home with them or not. And what is always so comforting is knowing that he has entrusted me with His children because He trusts me. I ask for wisdom and discernment so I can make decisions on their behalf and he gives it to me.

So, just because my life looks different than Jessica’s life on Instagram, it doesn’t mean that my life is less than her assignment. It means we are equally loved by our Creator and he has designed us so specifically and uniquely that it would be an insult if we needed to be the exact same just for the sake of being the same.

I don’t know the plans He has for Jessica on Instagram…but I know they are good and he has plans to prosper her life, just as he does for mine. You know why? Because I seek after the Kingdom of God and if you do that, all you need will be given to you. (Matthew 6:33).

The answer is not, “being a stay at home mom.” The answer is, “Are you seeking Him?”

And if you’re not, you need to start.

We moved to Knoxville, TN

As an update, we didn’t sell our house.

Instead, by the grace of God, we were able to rent our house out for the full price of our mortgage, actually a small amount more than our mortgage. Which is honestly, just a miracle and affirmation that the Lord wanted something more for us somewhere else.

That somewhere else, seemed to be Knoxville, TN!

Financially, the last few months have been extremely hard on us. We’ve moved in and out of my mother in law’s house, as well as my parents’ house. Moved across the country in 5 days and moved into a 100 year old house in South Knoxville.

Knoxville is extremely foreign to us. We literally know nothing about it. Other than that my husband was accepted as a student to University of Tennessee. Unfortunately, it is looking like he may not even be able to go to school this year, again, because we need him to work full-time, but we’re praying that doesn’t happen. There have also been certain things with the VA that are preventing him from officially registering for school because we moved and haven’t received a specific letter. For some reason, the VA thinks it’s 1980 and has to mail everything. It’s only 2019, it’s fine. We’ll wait 3 months for a letter after it’s too late. But whatever.

Knoxville is different. We’re CA people, born and raised. So this whole bug and tree thing is extremely hard to get used to lol. Being that it is only day 5 here, I hope it will get easier.

Every day holds its new challenges and new surprises. Surprises meaning that we keep finding new insects in our house which I am traumatized by. Luckily, my husband kills them whenever I scream for him to come look at something new, bless his heart (see I’m turning southern already).

We have discovered Silver Fish, which I thought was a spider/lizard and it was so so gross while I was washing dishes. The next was a House Centipede, which has probably scarred me for life. Made me want to crawl in a ball and cry and burn this house to the ground where it probably should be, to be honest.

Currently there is a fist-sized hole in our kitchen directly above our kitchen sink and I suspect that is where most of the critters are coming in through. Our ceiling is starting to warp from that leak since we live in TN and it rains constantly…mold is most definitely in our future, or is already among us.

I’m ready to just go get some duct tape and slap it up on there. Just kidding, Jose will do that for me.

In all honesty though, we know God has a plan for us out here. But right now, we are very confused on that plan and why it brought us to Knoxville. We’re broke, still trying to find solid jobs that can accommodate our budget which is all necessities, no desires/wants and we know no-one out here. Still need to find a home church, hopefully be able to be apart of a Crossfit gym community and find some friends! Our spirits are down but we are trying to keep our faith in God that we are here for some crazy reason and even though it doesn’t look how we imagined this adventure looking, I know that God has big things planned for us and is stretching, molding and sculpting us into what he wants us to be.

Until next time, you can let me know all the other disgusting infected we’ll come in contact with.

I will also write a post on how we stayed on budget with four kids and two cars, on a 5 day road trip.