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.

Love you to pieces.

To my strong-willed daughter…

Tonight, we had a tough night. Like, a mama locked herself in the bedroom for a grown-up timeout kind of tough. Tonight, you broke me. But after I got you to bed and began to pick-up the scattered pieces of our house and my heart left in the aftermath, I saw this paper you had brought home from school…

Immediately, it brought me back to you. And in that moment, I desperately wanted you to know…I see you. Yes, baby girl…you. I see you, and I love you to pieces.

Through the stomping and the screaming, I see you. I see that you don’t like what I’ve done or said or asked of you, and you’re making your opinion known. I see that you clearly know what you want, and in your own way, you’re standing up for it. I see that you are willing to fight for yourself, no matter the consequence. And deep down, I know this is a trait that will serve you well someday. Today is just not that day. But I see you baby girl…and I love you to pieces.

Through the tantrums and tears, I see you. I see you dealing with great big emotions that are difficult to process and impossible to contain. I see that you are feeling overwhelmed, unheard and misunderstood. I see that you’re seeking not only attention, but affirmation. Affirmation of who you are and what you are feeling. Yes, I see you baby girl…and I love you to pieces.

Through your stubborn head and sensitive heart, I see you. I see that while your brain tells you to never back down, your heart tells you the consequences will hurt. I see that those parts of you are in constant conflict. I know that you equally dislike letting me win and letting me down. And sometimes, the biggest battle you fight is with yourself. Please know I see you baby girl, and I love you to pieces.

I see that through your veil of defiance, you desperately want my approval. You push me away, but never let me get out of reach.

I know that you’re pushing your boundaries. Testing my limits. Seeing if I will follow through. And even when it’s hard baby, I promise you I will…even when giving in would be easier.

Because you are worth the hard. You are worth the fight. You. Are. Worth. It.

I know that these pieces of you that are so incredibly difficult right now, if channeled correctly, will be unbelievably beautiful as you learn how to use them for good.

I know that being your mother will. not. be. easy. But it will be the most incredible, rewarding, worthy thing I’ve ever been called to do. And even when you think I don’t see you…that I don’t understand who you are…I promise you baby girl, I do. I see you, because when I look at you…I see so much of me. So even when it breaks me, I will love you to pieces.

Love you most,

Your Mama

Bearing our Blessings

  • something that is carried; a load
  • a duty or responsibility
  • something oppressive or worrisome
  • that which is borne with difficulty
  • an obligation

These are all definitions of the word burden. And today, I felt each one of them in one way or another. Today, I allowed myself to become burdened. By nothing in particular, but everything in general.

This narrative is not a novel one: that we should reframe our burdens as blessings. And for good reason. Because while there are certainly burdens in life that are so heavy it’s hard to see the good…most generally in our first-world culture, burdens are the product of abundance.

Nonetheless, today I felt it all. Overwhelmed. Anxious. Crushed under the weigh of expectations (albeit mostly my own). I was just…burdened. So for myself (and for you) I thought I would unpack and try to appreciate these burdens for what they truly are.

Burden: I had a work call that didn’t come in when I thought it was going to and then ran way later than expected. // Blessing: I have a job that is flexible and allows me the freedom to work from home. And I have bosses who love my kids and wanted to say hi when they heard them in the background.

Burden: I had to dig out our checkbook to pay our water bill because the rural water district doesn’t do auto-drafts or online payments. // Blessing: I have clean, potable, running water in my house. In. My. House. I have lived in places that do not have this, and trust me…it is a blessing.

Burden: I was tripping over the open suitcases on the floor of our mudroom, still laying around unpacked from a trip we got home from three days ago. // Blessing: We have the means to travel to see family and friends who live over 500 miles away.

Burden: Lexi informed me that she got blood from a scratch on her sheets during nap. Her white sheets. That I washed less than a week ago. // Blessing: My daughter has her own bed in her own room where she gets to lay her head down at night in a warm house. And she can sleep just as soundly in sheets that are dirty as she does in sheets that are clean.

Burden: I did three loads of laundry today only to have the basket piled full with dirties again because of multiple outfit changes by my toddler and husband. // Blessing: We all have plenty of clothes to wear and machines that wash and dry those clothes easily and efficiently.

Burden: Because my work call went late, I needed to feed the baby as soon as I hung up. So my husband offered to cook, which left the kitchen looking like a war zone. // Blessing: Multiple. We have food in our fridge. And our pantry. I have a husband who cooks. And…cleans up.

Burden: All. Of. The. Pine. Needles. On. The. Floor. // Blessing: We have a beautiful Christmas tree that we decorated as a family, making the sweetest memories and the beginnings of family traditions.

Burden: There are a hundred things on the “to do” list that seems to just keep growing. Every day, it feels like I take one step forward and then fall on my face. It can often feel like there is not enough of me to go around. // Blessing: I have job where my work is valued. I have a family that needs and wants me. I have a beautiful house, a running car and more love in my life than I know what to do with.

If you’re feeling burdened today too, know that it’s ok. It’s ok to feel those hard feelings. It’s ok to acknowledge that some days are just too much. But as you sit in those hard moments, remember that you are most likely bearing your blessings.

Dear Lakyn Lee…

I don’t know how, but today marked three months since you came into our lives.

Three. Months.

I remember certain moments and particular details of the last few months so distinctly, it’s like I’m still living in them. But when I think about the past 13 weeks as a whole, it feels like a blur. Like one night I laid you down, both of us in a sleepy haze, and when I opened my eyes you were a smiling, cooing, full-of-life tiny human.

Thank the good Lord I had the foresight to get newborn photos booked before you made your (fashionably late) appearance into the world. And although we didn’t actually get these taken until a month after you were born (because what a month that was) I am eternally grateful for the incredibly talented Bethany Meysenburg who captured the true essence of this new phase of our lives.

AND, because two more months have passed by and I have yet to share these images, I am going to do so now – in celebration of your 1/4-of-a-year birthday.

 

Even in the blur that is early motherhood, I pray that I never forget the details of YOU. Your soulful eyes that make my heart skip a beat. Your bright smile that lights up your whole face. Your long little toes that are just waiting to go places. The way you unlatch and nuzzle against me when your belly is full. The way your free hand reaches up to grasp the collar of my shirt, just to make sure I’m not going anywhere. Our early mornings together before the rest of the world washes over us, and late nights alone when the rest of the house is quite.

No matter how many days or months or years pass by…no matter how many babies fill the walls of this home…there will only be one you. And even though life often demands that my attention be divided, I assure you that my heart is not.

Love you big, sweet babe – Your Mama.

The bigger postpartum picture…

Mamas, I want to take a minute to talk about all of the things postpartum. Well maybe not all of the things, but at least some of them…

There is SO.MUCH.PRESSURE. to “bounce back” quickly after giving birth… physically, mentally, emotionally. In some ways, it feels like we are expected to be back to “normal” as soon as we walk out of the hospital doors. And if we aren’t, we are weak. Or needy. Or a burden to those around us.

Not only are these [unrealistic] expectations placed on us [both implicitly and explicitly] but people also tend to assess how we are “doing” based on our physical appearance alone. Why? Because that’s the most obvious and visible way to measure people up, and looking more than skin deep tends to make people uncomfortable.

I have always been a “skinnier” person, and after both of my pregnancies I regained my figure in a fairly short amount of time. But I am so, SO tired of hearing “WOW, you look great!” Not because I don’t appreciate the compliment, but because it just feels a bit canned to me. It feels like it’s the safe thing to say. It feels inadequate…incomplete.

Today I had my 6-week postpartum appointment. I got the “all clear” from my doctor, who said everything looked great and I have healed up really well.

Almost everyone I see comments on my physical appearance…how it doesn’t look like I just had a baby.


But the thing is, I DID. And when I look in the mirror, what I see is a mama still struggling through this phase of postpartum. I can obviously see it physically — in my squishy, saggy middle, in my my weary eyes and unwashed hair. Clothes and concealer may cover those things on the outside, but I know what’s underneath.

I can also feel what’s underneath. It’s in my heart that is both overflowing with love and aching from the weight of my new responsibilities. It’s in my soul that is always slightly unsettled and often anxious. The exhaustion runs deep in my bones as I single-handedly sustain another human being with my own body. I feel the changes in my relationships…with my husband, my family, my friends. I feel overjoyed but overwhelmed. I feel blessed but burdened. Do you feel it, too?

That’s why it doesn’t necessarily feel good when someone says you “look” good. Because how we look on the outside…that’s only the frame that holds the bigger picture. It is dependent on superficial factors like how longs it’s been since we last took a shower, if there was time to put on a coat of mascara between changing diapers / feeding / folding the hundredth load of laundry for the week, and if there happens to be spit-up on the front of our shirt. I don’t want to be seen for these things or for the fact that I do or don’t fit back in my “pre-pregnancy” pants. I want to be seen for the whole picture. And sometimes…that picture is not pretty.

This phase is no doubt magical, but it can also be mundane. It is exhilarating, but also exhausting. And even when it is happy, it is so dang hard.

Hang in there, mama. There is someone out there who sees you…all of you.