Overcoming

I should be packing right now.  We should have been packing all weekend.  But instead I’m sitting here wondering why I’m so prone to procrastination.  What is it inside of me that causes me to wait until the last minute with every important task I don’t want to complete?

I suspect it’s probably the same thing that keeps me from Mass on Sundays when I know I should be there.  The same thing that causes me to make plans with people all the time, and then flake out at the last minute.  That thing that kept me from completing my college degree.  Anxiety.

I’ve struggled with anxiety my entire life.  It permeates into all corners of my little world.  My stomach twists and turns into a knotted mess, my heart races, breathing becomes shallow.  While I’ve accepted anxiety as my cross to bear, I know that God calls me to a better life.  Because while as inconvenient as the above circumstances may be, the worst part of my anxiety is when it causes me to run and hide from God.

When I know I haven’t been on the right path for some time, when my quiet times have disappeared and my Bible hasn’t been cracked open in ages, I get that same sense of anxiety.  I try to fill my time with Facebook, Pinterest, shopping, cooking, even just hanging out with my hubby and baby.  But what I should do – what will take away that anxiety altogether – is lean into Him.  Time spent in prayer, in Bible study, in adoration … these are all things that restore my soul.  Instead of being fearful of God’s disappointment over my absence, I should freely receive His grace and mercy.

As a Catholic Christian, I have a remarkable, tangible source of this grace and mercy.  It is found in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  It is where we humble ourselves before God, admit our sins and ask for forgiveness.  When we are truly contrite and genuinely make the effort to not repeat the sins again, we are assured of our forgiveness.  And if you’re not Catholic, or it’s just been a long time since you’ve experienced His grace in this Sacrament, I can tell you that it is the biggest anxiety relief I’ve ever found.  It gives you such a sense of peace.  You feel restored, not only in your soul, but in your relationship to God.

As I wrap this up, I am reminded of 2 Timothy 1:7

“…for God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self control.”

With Him, we can overcome anything.  The more time we spend with Him, the more like Him we will become.  And while my anxiety might always be around, it doesn’t have to keep me from living my life.  Thanks be to God.

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Our Word for 2014

We have a lot planned for this year – the main events being two (count them – one, two) moves.  Instead of spending all my time on Pinterest trying to virtually decorate my new home, or finding a dozen new complicated recipes, or even planning an elaborate first birthday party for Stephen, I’m stepping back and leaning into our word for the year.  SIMPLE.

In order to streamline the build of our new place, we made a small list of our priorities for our new home’s interior options and will stick with the basic included options for nearly everything else.  I might love a fireplace, built-in media center, tile accents in the master bath and an innumerable list of other upgrades, but is it really worth the added cost?  We try to see the opportunity costs involved – in order to get these upgrades, what are we giving up?  Less family time due to more time in the office to pay the bills, or maybe a longer time frame to get out of debt using Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps?  I’m trying to learn to be content with what we have – thank God for all our many blessings and remember that things don’t bring happiness or contentment.

When it comes to homemaking, instead of spending an hour or so once a week trying to think up a meal plan and grocery list, I’m trying my hand at creating a 2-week meal plan that can be rotated through twice a month.  It might seem boring at first, but all it means is that we’ll be having our favorite meals twice a month.  Plus, I’ll be saving loads of time not having to think up a new meal plan each week.  Why reinvent the wheel?  It might take some up-front work, but keeping on a schedule takes away all the stress that comes from not knowing what’s for dinner when the hubby rolls in the door at 5pm.

As far as Stephen’s first birthday, we’ve decided to forgo a fancy party and just bake him a simple cake at home – just the three of us and his grandma who will be spending that week with us.  A big party wouldn’t really be for him anyways, so why stress ourselves out with it?  I once read that to simplify a child’s birthday, the party should correspond with his or her age.  Turning one?  Have one special friend over.  Turning five?  Maybe the cousins and one or two friends from the neighborhood.  We also try to keep the gift-giving simple.  One toy from Mommy & Daddy, followed up by an overhaul of his current playthings.  We plan to either donate or pack away things he’s outgrown, and rotate the remaining toys so he can focus his attention on just a few special items at a time.

Now it’s your turn.  What were your resolutions for 2014?  Did you make specific resolutions, or choose a word like we did?  In what ways do you try to live simply at home?

What Nobody Told Me About Motherhood

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve always dreamed about having a family of my own.  A handsome husband, a small gaggle of children running around, white picket fence, yadda yadda yadda.  I daydreamed what my life would look like, and I’m here to confess today that it’s not really what I had pictured.

I’m really not sure what I thought it would look like – perhaps lots of cuddling, hours upon hours of reading together, doing loads of laundry and prepping dinner during naptimes.  Well, these days my 9-month old son only cuddles me when we’re in new situations and the “stranger danger” phenomenon kicks in.  If I had known how quickly his newborn phase would pass, I would have spent all my time, every single day, with him in my arms.  We no longer co-sleep (he sleeps like a little champ in his own crib in his own room), so I don’t even get that warm little body next to mine each night.  I’m praying that when he gets a little older, he’ll come back for some Mama Snuggles.  Can anyone verify that this is actually a thing that happens, or am I being naive here?

My husband and I aren’t very good about bedtime routines – Stephen gets a bath a couple times a week at best.  Hey – he’s not exactly out digging in the mud, and I know frequent bathing is so rough on his skin in this dry climate.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.  But the bookworm in me laments over the fact that we’ve yet to successfully establish reading before bed with him.  Each time we try, he just grabs or hits the book, or tries to eat it.  Forget turning pages – he’s a little book-ravaging monster.  How will he ever grow to appreciate the written word when I can’t read him a 5-page board book before he goes to sleep at night?

As far as all of those homemaker tasks that I thought I’d be able to get accomplished each day, well …. I’m failing miserably, y’all.  Ever since I had Stephen, my depression has come back pretty full-force.  It’s a struggle to check off the most basic tasks on my to-do list each day.  Am I still in yoga pants and the sweater I’ve worn at least half a dozen times since it was last washed?  You betcha.  Now I don’t know if it’s my hormones, the lack of sleep, or the constant attending to my baby’s needs that has me so flummoxed over keeping my house in order.  But I do know this – it stinks!  My poor husband comes home to a house in shambles most days – dinner not even started, topped off with a grouchy mama and crying baby.  He is my God-send, though.  He takes over caring for Stephen immediately and lets me have some Mommy-time in the kitchen preparing our dinner.  A huge part of me wants to defend myself here and give a disclaimer that I do, in fact, love my son more than words could ever imagine.  But sometimes, I just NEED.A.BREAK.  Even if that break comes in the form of chopping onions and sauteeing chicken.

I sometimes wonder what I got myself into.  Is the wake-diaperchange-feed-play-diaperchange-nap routine just going to play itself a million times over?  It’s then that I realize that these are the little things God talks about in Luke 16:10:

Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much…

God has blessed me with a million little ways to serve Him each day.  Every diaper change, every feeding, every time I pick up my crying little boy, I am proving faithful to God’s calling on my life.  This is a season of mundane routines, to be sure.  But it is also a season of wonder and excitement.  Stephen has gone from rolling over, to crawling, to sitting up, to pulling himself up on anything he can get his hands on – all in less than 6 month’s time.  He smiles at me whenever I enter the room, and that’s no little thing, folks.  While I do look forward to the future and all it has to offer, I try to maintain a practical view on it.  My expectations may not line up with the reality of how things will actually go, and that’s okay.  I know that God is training me for bigger and better things each day.  For in truth, there is no greater gift than the opportunity to raise up a child for our Lord.

My Crazy Dream

It all started back in 8th grade with my English teacher, Olivia Deutsch.  On the very first day of class, she informed us that we didn’t know how to write – didn’t have the first idea of how to compose an essay, a paragraph – heck, even a single sentence!  Challenge accepted.  It was in her class that I painstakingly learned the writing process – the inspiration, that first rough draft, peer editing and figuring out when to call it quits, because let’s face it – a writer’s work is never perfect enough to our own standards.  Because of her encouragement, I learned that I not only enjoyed writing, but that maybe I had a little spark of talent.  I went on to pursue journalism in high school and became my school’s youngest section editor and eventually editor-in-chief.  I have written off and on in the years since then, but unfortunately it is one of the first things to get phased out when life becomes hectic.  I want that to change.

I want to pursue this creative outlet of mine with reckless abandon.  You see, one of my dreams is to be a real-life, genuine writer.  I have felt God’s calling on my life in this arena for some time, but have been too scared to say it out loud.  Because – let’s be honest – sharing the deepest longings of your heart is a tiny bit terrifying.  Especially when you believe it to be God’s will.  Who wants to let down the Maker of our universe?  But I realize that this line of thinking is silly.  The only way I can let him down is by ignoring the call.  Stepping out in faith, saying yes to sharing about His love through my writing, that could only make him proud.

This is where I humble myself and ask you for your help, dear readers.  Would you consider praying for me as I make a commitment to this endeavor – and perhaps even subscribing to my blog?  Maybe leaving a word of encouragement for this knee-knocking writer?  I thank you from the bottom of my heart as always.

Friends Old & New

There is a definite downside to moving halfway across the country to be with the man that you love at the age of 27.  You leave behind a lifetime worth of memories, and all of the people who made them with you.  Like the one who helped you devour multiple cans of Planters Cheezballs on family road trips in the back of an ’89 Dodge Caravan.  The one you played beauty parlor with in elementary school who gave you bangs, just because she could.  The one you kidnapped on her sixteenth birthday, and at whose wedding you read Scripture.  The one who shared your life day-in, day-out for over three years and who just KNEW he was going to pop the question on that final trip out to Colorado.

How do you match that in a new town?  A new state?  A new time zone?  I’ve shed a few tears and mourned what I thought were losses many times since that move.  But you know what?  Every time I go home, they’re there.  We pick up exactly where we left off.  Sure, most of us are married now, and some of us have little ones (or are rocking that expectant mama glow!)  But nothing can come between us.  They are my forever friends.  But more importantly, I’ve learned that you don’t make these kind of friends over night.  Putting expectations like that on new-found friendships is bound to disappoint.

When I moved out here, it took me a long time to make even a few new friends, but I’ve done it now and am learning to be okay with taking things slowly.  I no longer share my day-in, day-out life with those friends back home.  It is a new group of women who are watching my son grow up.  Women who may already have three or four of their own at home.  And it’s okay that they don’t know my middle name and have never had dinner with my parents.  Each season of life has its starring cast and supporting roles.  As I spend more time with these wonderful new friends I’ve made, I learn to open up a little bit more.  To share a little bit of my heart with them.

And as we pack up our house to embark on a double-move adventure (ha!), I am excited at the prospect of strengthening these friendships.  We’ll be leaving our home in March, moving into an apartment temporarily for 6-8 months, then finally landing in our new home by the fall of this year.  This new home is right in the heart of where the vast majority of my new friends live.  We are so blessed to have found a community that cares for one another selflessly and immediately – the type of people who bring you meals after you’ve undergone surgery and prays for you whenever the need arises.  I’ve prayed so long for the Lord to bring more forever friends into my life, and this move seems to be a huge answer to that prayer.  And with that, I whisper a thank you to my God for friendships, both old and new, that show me His love and maybe even a tiny glimpse of what heaven might be like.