Rest.

Why is it, mamas, that we so adamantly deny ourselves rest?

We measure our worth by our ability to do #allthethings, often refusing to ask for help or — even worse — actually denying it. Even from those in our so-called “Tribe”…

We dig ourselves in over our heads and then suffer in silence as the “dirt” is shoveled back in on top of us. The sad part is, no one even knows it’s happening because we don’t speak up. And if we do, it’s probably to offer yet another reluctant “yes” to just one.more.thing.

We bury ourselves in busy.

Over time, the busy becomes suffocating. We dig deeper and deeper until one day, we can’t breathe. We can’t see the light anymore. And then, because we are human, we succumb to the darkness. And it’s only at that point – the point of pitch black – that we are forced into the level of vulnerability required to admit…we need help.

I know this because I’ve been there. I am there.

I finally broke.

And in my state of brokenness, I realized…I needed rest. And I mean more than a good night’s sleep (but that wouldn’t hurt, either…)

Part of that rest is physical. It’s slowing down. It’s asking someone to watch the kids for an afternoon (thanks, husband). It’s putting off the piles of dirty laundry and being at peace with the crumb-covered floors. Or, if you’re super lucky, finding someone who can take care of those things for a day or two. It’s being ok with letting dinner be grilled cheese or frozen pizza or better yet…an Uncrustable you just pull out of the freezer and put on a paper plate. No prep, no cleanup. Can I get an Amen?! And yes, it’s getting an extra hour or two of sleep.

But beyond the physical rest is the really important stuff – the stuff that the physical rest makes way for.

Mental rest.

Emotional rest.

Spiritual rest.

To be cliché: it’s filling your cup.

To find physical rest, we need extra hands. We need people. We need our Tribe.

To find mental/emotional/spiritual rest we need something more.

We need Jesus.

In my state of being busy, I forgot to seek rest in Him. I let the words on my never-ending “To Do” list become more important than the Word of God. I began to measure my value by my productivity rather than turning to Him in prayer.  I let the shouts of the world drown out the whispers of my Heavenly Father.

Rest, child.

Even the Creator of heaven and earth needed a day of rest. Why, then, wouldn’t I?

So friend…

Just.

Stop.

Digging.

 

Stop saying “yes” to the world and instead say “yes” to Him.

“Better one handful with tranquility than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind.” – Ecclesiastes 4:6

And if you’re still struggling to ask for help, remember that the King of Kings tells us we are better off sharing the load:

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” – Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Ask for help. Seek Him. Rest.

The First Cup

The past few weeks (or months) have been particularly…challenging. We’ve entered into a very vulnerable season in our marriage…and in our family as a whole. We’ve chosen to face issues that would have been easier to ignore. We’ve wrestled with old demons and new guilt. We’ve had to choose – daily – between our selfish desires and sacrificial love. And sacrificial love, when you are already running on empty, is a difficult thing to choose.

I say all of this as a preface to “the thing” I really want to talk about. The thing that, I believe, has transformed not just our marriage but who we are and how we’re living our lives as a whole. We’ve started giving our first to God.

For me – it’s my first cup of coffee. When my feet hit the floor each morning, I head out to our back porch with my cup. As it is emptied, I am filled. Whether it’s listening to songs of worship, praying intentionally, or just allowing myself to be with God – He gets me before I let any of life’s chaos in for the day. This seemingly minor shift in my daily routine has been truly transformative. When I start my day being filled by Him, there is more of me to give to others – including my husband. I’ve heard many times over “you can’t pour from an empty cup” and I am seeing this daily in the most powerful ways.

My husband, who graciously preps the coffee and sets the alarm for us each night, has chosen a different route. He spends the first half hour or so of his day on a walk with our dogs and his thoughts – giving God his first mile. He sets off before the sun comes up on a path behind our house we call the dirt road. It is one of our family’s most sacred places to be together, and for him, it now holds even greater meaning and purpose. It’s where he has the space to just be before giving to everyone else who needs a piece of him throughout the day.

 

When the alarm goes off (much earlier than it used to) we say our “good mornings” and head our separate ways. We both know – for the sake of ourselves and one another – that we need to be filled up before we can pour out. So before I get him or he gets me, God gets us both.

This small step has been the catalyst for us changing the trajectory of our marriage. We are all soooo busy, right? It’s society’s badge of honor. But it’s bogus. Yes – our lives are full. We both have full-time jobs, we have the show barn full of pigs, families that count on us (ahem, Kade) to help feed/prep for shows that now go on year-round, the daily grind to upkeep a farm, a toddler we’re constantly trying to keep up with…oh yes, and I am 38+ weeks pregnant so there’s the physical and emotional prep for a new baby as well. So then, when are we supposed to find the time for our relationship with each other and with God?! Unfortunately, for far too long, we were letting the latter two slip. Because there just wasn’t time. We bought into the lie that we were too busy. There were too many things that needed done. Too many people we still hadn’t gotten to that day. What we didn’t realize was the two things getting the least effort and attention were the fundamentals….the foundation for everything else in our lives. Our foundation was cracking…and the rest was starting to crumble with it.

So we tried something new. And it is changing everything.

The first cup, the first mile, or the first five as you drive – what this time “looks like” is far less important than how It feels and what it does for your soul. Maybe you do something like this already – I’d love to hear about it! Maybe you’re reading this desperate for a solution to your own struggles – I hope you give this a try. Wherever you are, I pray for you the gift of Romans 15:13:

”May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

With Grace,

Jen

Washed By The Water

Yesterday was a kind of big deal day…

After many months of consideration on his part (and many years of prayer on mine), my sweet husband decided to publicly declare his love for and commitment to Jesus through water baptism.

I’ve prayed over this decision for him the entirely of our marriage. Early on, there were a couple of things I knew for sure – I so desperately wanted my husband to get to this place in his faith, but I also wanted him to get here by his own free will (read as, not deciding to get baptized because I wanted him to and it would make me happy).

Watching the man I love walk to this place of submission to the Lord has been one of the most humbling experiences of my life. I am beyond words proud of him. I am eternally grateful for his strength (and my patience) to let the story unfold exactly as God had it written. After all, He is the perfect author of life.

As our motorcycle riding, cowboy boot wearing preacher said – there is nothing magic in the water. There will be peaks and valleys in his faith (and mine) over the course of our lives and our marriage. Yesterday was definitely a peak. But even when the storm comes, we are washed by the water – and the blood of Jesus Christ.

 

With Grace,

Jen

You don’t have to live like this.

Yesterday morning I woke up in what I would call a “funk”. It was a beautiful Saturday morning, and I had nothing specific on my agenda for the day. Still…I felt incredibly overwhelmed. Emotionally depleted. Anxious, even. Over nothing in particular, but everything in general.

I hate to admit…these aren’t entirely unusual emotions for me. And if I’m not careful, I can let these “feelings” go to far. So far that they can become debilitating. They consume me, and then overflow onto the people around me. Not all of the people, to be fair…I can hide it from the general public. But those who know me and whom I love dearly…they become the indirect victims of my emotional angst. If I catch myself slipping into it soon enough, I can sometimes prevent that from happening. Other times, not so much.

Thankfully, I have a husband who not only recognizes this piece of me, but also over the years has learned what I need to pull myself out of it. He doesn’t press for answers. He doesn’t push for action. He lets me breath. He gives me grace. These things may sound small, but in reality they. are. everything.

Yesterday morning, that looked like giving me a solo trip into town to run some errands (i.e., an excuse to drive 25 miles for a Starbucks iced latte) while he managed things at home. On the drive, I started one of the audiobooks that’s been sitting in my “to listen to” queue for a while – Present Over Perfect. I ran my errands, trying to soak in some much needed rays of Vitamin D and convince myself that today is a good day. I only half-heartedly listened to the words coming through my speakers. Until I heard this:

“You don’t have to damage your body, and your soul and the people you love most in order to get done what you think you have to get done. You don’t have to live like this.”
[Present over Perfect]

I stopped – hit the 30 second rewind button – listened again. And then again. I let the words soak into my soul and penetrate my weary heart.

I do not have to do all. of. the. things.

It’s like I just needed permission. But from who? Myself? My husband? The author of this book? I’m still not sure.

I write these things for the same reasons I write most things on this blog – not because I have it all figured out or because I have some magical answer. But because, one, it is extremely therapeutic for me to put my thoughts into words. And two, I know I am not the only one out there feeling and facing these things. And sometimes, all we need to know is that there is someone else is in the trenches with us. And friend, there is always someone in the trenches with you. His name is Jesus.

Sometimes, I forget. I forget that the creator of the universe also created me. I forget that while He made me flawed and imperfect and deficient in so many ways, that’s ok – because He also created me perfectly for His purpose. He created me in His image. And I need to be reminded of these words from my creator:

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.   – 2 Corinthians 12:9

Maybe you need reminded of those words today, too. Maybe you need someone to tell you it’s ok. It’s ok to slow down. To take a deep breath. To throw that “to do” list out the window and instead spend some time just being and loving and living. It’s ok.

In fact, sometimes…it’s necessary.

With Grace,

Jen

Baring Our Battle Scars

If you’re not into talking mom bods and stretch marks and swimsuits, you can stop reading now. You’ve been warned…

Yesterday, I posted this photo on Instagram:

Lexi loving her first swim!!!

It looks rather ordinary at first glance. Just me sitting in a little pool with my baby girl getting photo bombed by one of the three amigos. But this image is so much more than it appears. Like most photos, it has a story…

Just before it was taken, I very sternly instructed my husband not to get my stomach in any pictures. Why? I was embarrassed. Self-conscious about the scars, stretch marks and general “squishy-ness” that resulted from growing two tiny humans at one time.

After the scolding, I turned my attention back to my daughter. She was LOVING her first time in the pool, and I was enamored by her adventure. My husband kept snapping away in the background. He even stopped to take a video. He wanted to capture the moment. To him…it was beautiful. Our daughter was beautiful. I was beautiful.

As mothers, we bare many battle scars. Some physical, some emotional, some spiritual.  It’s just a part of the gig. Motherhood changes us. But oftentimes, we view those changes – especially the physical ones – as “ugly” or “undesirable” when, in reality, we should be honored to have them.

As I later scrolled through the images on my husband’s phone, I couldn’t help but cringe when I saw the loose skin hanging from my mid-section. When I brought it up…again…he rolled his eyes. “It’s a beautiful picture,” he assured me. I turned my attention from myself to my daughter, and saw the delight on her face. She was engaged and elated…while I was anxious  and apprehensive. How incongruous.

So last night, I did something uncomfortable. I posted one of the pictures. Yes, it was one that strategically concealed the mommy marks…or warrior wounds as one friend calls them. But, I put myself out there in a way I hadn’t before. Because I’m only certain there are other mamas out there feeling all of these feelings. And I want you to know – it’s ok. It’s ok to put on your one piece – or your itty-bitty bikini – and not worry about the world around you. It’s ok if instead of a six pack you have tummy slack and it would take the jaws of life to give you anything resembling a thigh gap. I’m right there with you. But really…who cares? Because those babies you are making memories with…you grew those. And they are totally worth rocking a mom bod.

I am still learning to love my new body. To embrace what it reprints. Slowly but surely, I’m baring my battle scars.

With Grace,

Jen