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1.29.2013

{Messy Motherhood} Balancing It All

I was so excited when Kara Kae posted her prompt for this month's Messy Motherhood Link-Up! The idea of balance is a widely discussed topic in the circle of motherhood. And while we like to talk about it and share ideas, there is actually no perfect way to balance it all. I'm a different mama than you with totally different kids. But what we can do is encourage each other! That's what I love about these link-ups. 
With that, I want to share some things that came to mind as I thought about how I balance life. Let's get one point straight right off the bat... I kind of really stink at it. In fact, I went through my old blog posts and found that I've even written about it a lot over the last year or so! I think it's a constant work in my life, wouldn't you say

I've learned over the last few months the importance of knowing when to say "No." while deciding how to prioritize life. For me, when looking at bigger matters, that has meant choosing to be a stay-at-home rather than having a career as a health care provider. And by the way, I'm SO thankful to be a stay-at-home mom. I love it more than I ever thought I would. Another area of my life that I've had to say no in is ministry. For three years, I was a leader in our church's high school youth group. But when Amelia was about nine months old, I began to wrestle with the balancing act of it all. More than a year later, as I'm expecting our second child, I'm finding contentment in just being at home with my family. It hasn't been easy but it's been so worth it. Of course, not every yes or no decision is as grand as your career or ministry. As a pregnant mom to a toddler, I've had to say no to lesser matters such as packed schedules and late nights out with friends, even chores some days when I'm super tired. Like this morning. It was the best thing for me to just lay on the couch, watching cartoons while Amelia and I snuggled. The stuff can wait. When we prioritize correctly, our hearts are more peaceful which means our homes are more peaceful. I love what Mackenzie over at Life of a Pint-Sized Mama said recently about this:

"Because moms, although it's hard to admit, 
we are often the thermostat of our house."
  
Something else that has helped me manage life as a mother is flexibility! I have a pretty type A personality. I like things to be neat and in order. Before having Amelia, I carried a planner with me everywhere! My whole life was in that thing. I only wrote in pencil because if something changed, I wanted to be able to *neatly* change my plans instead of scribbling and rewriting. Fast forward to now and that just doesn't happen anymore. I still love schedule and routine. But my toddler just doesn't jive with that strict way of life. I've learned to be mostly ok with this change. We have our routines throughout the day {meals, nap time, play time, etc.}. But there's no specific time for each portion of our day. Flexiblity isn't just important in your daily routine at home either. I've learned recently that it's necessary for planned outings as well {i.e. play dates & grocery trips}. If Amelia is too tired and/or misbehaving {let's be honest... those usually go hand in hand, right?} I have to be flexible enough to set a boundary and choose to leave something fun for the sake of both of us. It's so inconvenient and frustrating at times. But our kids learn great lessons in those moments. Even we do

I would say the most important key to balancing it all is graceGrace and more graceGrace times infinity. You just have to have it. With yourself, your spouse, your kids. It's essential. Because let's face it, we want to do everything, all the time. And truthfully, sometimes we even have to! But we just can't. One of my very favorite mama quotes:

"I have to do it all.
I can’t do any of it.
But Christ in me can.
- Jessi Connolly, Naptime Diaries 

Can I get an AMEN?! The days where my grace tank is empty are often the most stressful days for me. But when I choose to seek Jesus and trust that He has me covered the whole day long, it's just bliss. When we function in that grace and pour it out on our families, specifically our children, they see Christ in us. That is so humbling and eye-opening for me! Amelia will model after the way I give/receive grace. 

What are we showing our kids about Jesus in our daily life? Do I have enough grace for the times I don't balance it all well? Am I flexible enough to change plans at the last minute for the growth of myself and Amelia? Do I say no to the right things so that my family gets the best of me? I sure pray so.
I may be getting the hang of it nowadays. But give me a couple months. It will start all over when baby Elsie arrives. And then there will be grace.

1.26.2013

The Season of Unbalanced & Messy

Do you ever just know when you're in of those seasons? Where life just feels unbalanced and messy? That's kind of where I've been for a few months. I think it's safe to say it all started when we found out I was pregnant with our second kiddo. Don't get me wrong, I was super excited to be pregnant. But as my first trimester progressed, I began to have terrible bouts of nausea. We also moved from the apartment we had lived in for three and a half years into the basement of our friends home. Talk about a lot of change in a month, right?

But even with those two huge changes, I expected that I would continue on with life as it was. There were a few ideas and passions that my heart was tied up in. I continued to plan and get excited about them until it slowly started to set in that life was definitely changing.

The biggest change was my involvement with our church's youth ministry, specifically the high school youth group. When you've spent three years investing into a group of awesome people {leaders and students alike}, there's a piece of your heart that they just get to have. But seriously, it took every square inch of my physical being to go to the kick off night back in September. I had been so sick with nausea and vomiting for a few weeks at that point. I had little energy but I was so happy to be there. A couple weeks after that, I could barely get up from the couch to take care of Amelia, let alone be lively enough for a group of high school students.

Each week I would send Jason, our youth pastor, a text saying I couldn't make it. As you can imagine, the weeks went by and I began to feel so disconnected. The group still held a special part of my heart but it was evident that my role as a youth leader was slowly slipping from me. The group had been meeting for several weeks already once I started to feel better physically. There were new students I didn't know. There had been lots of relational growth that I wasn't part of. It just felt awkward when I thought about going back. And so I didn't.

There have been parts of me that are completely content with this change. I see the way some of my best friends are growing as leaders in our church. I see the relationships being built between students and leaders as discipleship is done well. I see a group that started out small and basement dwelling turning into a large group of passionate high school students that can barely fit into our church's multi-purpose room. It's all from the "side-lines" so to speak but I see all this awesome-ness happening and it fills my heart with joy! Not to mention what the change means for us at home. My schedule has been mostly wide open and free of any major commitments. No weekend retreats, no event planning, no girls nights hosting, no camps, minimal coffee dates with girls {mind you, all these things I LOVED!!}. This time that I have had with Amelia has been so sweet. Especially as the months pass by and I realize we will soon have two precious girls to love on. I've been able to rest my very tired body. I've been able to finally wrap my mind around having another baby. I have time to clean! There's been time to just BE at home.

And then enters the part of me that feels not-so-content with this change. It was hard to switch gears as quickly as I had to. For the last few months, there have been weak moments where instead of choosing joy over all the awesome things God is doing in our youth group and our youth leaders, I choose frustration and bitterness. Instead of choosing to love the normal moments at home, I choose jealousy. I had to say no to so much that I wasn't quite ready to say no to at the time. But I knew I had to. I knew it was for the best.

I know I've said this before in a few brief status updates and tweets over the last few months. But I just needed to put it out there like this, the bigger picture. This season has been really hard for me. There's so much about serving in youth ministry that I miss with all my heart. {And trust me, I still go to the Facebook page for the youth group and the youth leaders, just to see what's new. Just to feel at least somewhat in-the-loop.} But in the very same heart that misses all of that, there is also contentment. There is a realization that God is still using me and growing me. Even if it's just at home {as the lies tell me}. Because right now, this is the best place for me. With the unbalanced messiness of it all, I'm learning to embrace this season. It's actually not a bad one.

Have you been in one of those seasons? Are you in it now? The type of season where it hurts but it's so good because you know God is still there, growing you through it all. Think on this:

"Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him! Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you’re on their side, working with them and not against them. Help them see that the Master is about to arrive. He could show up any minute! Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life."
Philippians 4:4-7, The Message {italics mine}