Dec 252013
 

Perfect last year, perfect this year.  You’ll excuse me while I take a “week off” and repost some of the oldies, but goodies from last year.  None more appropriate that today’s post.  Merry Chrismas and xo, dear readers…

Silent Night.

Holy Night.

Christ the Savior is Born.

Oct 212013
 
Source I have no idea where to go from here

Source
Not sure where we’re going next around here

It’s not looking good around here.  Laundry is piled up beyond days, and I have a vague notion of a place called “the grocery store”, but I can’t quite remember what it is.  When I have called my husband at work, sobbing for the 2nd time in a week that “I just can’t keep up”, he gently suggests it may be time to “quit the blog”.

The thing is, he’s right.  I’m in no place in my life to take on an “added responsibility”, albeit one that is paid poorly to nill.  I am tired.  I run hard after my 2 and 4 yr. old all day, and generally count any day sans the smoke alarm going off 16 times as a definite victory.  I am one hot, freakin’ mess.

And it’s not just The Blog that causes stress (and my husband knows this)–it’s keeping up with two active kiddos, and their playdates, and the snacks needed for preschool, and the Bible Study homework, and remembering the dog’s vet appointment.  Everybody’s landscape of stress looks different, and some manage it so much better than others, but I think it’s a pretty rare thing to find a mama who doesn’t teeter in to stress-case territory once in a while.

As for this “added responsibility” that’s clouding up my own stress-scape?  (don’t so many of us have an “added responsibility” of some sort?) The darn thing is I feel firmly called to use this (very weird, for sure) voice I’ve been given.  I claim that it’s not about me, and while this isn’t 100% true, it is 95% not-a-lie and the thought of abandoning this unique platform that God has granted me makes me feel more than a little sick.  I have worked so hard to build this and when even one person says something like, “You make me laugh so much” or “Thanks for helping me feel normal”, my heart kind of swoons and it all feels…worth it??

And if I’m honest, it’s not the time writing that is the problem.  This part is healing, therapeutic, fun.  It’s touching base with a love for writing that I let lay dormant far to long.  The problem is the CONSTANT PUTTING MYSELF OUT THERE.

See, the thing is, every single post, be it blog, Facebook, or Twitter is a “laying on the line” of self.  This might work awesomely well, except I am a decided introvert.  I heal, repair, and restore through Alone Time. (as you might imagine, this aloneness isn’t readily forthcoming in the life of two young kids) Throwing myself out into the social media-sphere every few hours is not my comfort zone.  It will never be my comfort zone.

Yet I remain convicted that our time on this earth is not about us.  If this is something I am Supposed To Be Doing to encourage or give foot to faltering others…pass the laptop, this blog is on. Maybe I can just find a way to do it in a deep, social-less hole??

So where does this leave me?  In the deep depths of my stress-scape, loving and respecting my husband and our family, striving for balance.  Praying and working to minimalize all the non-necessary corners I can (no, my ceiling fans haven’t been dusted since we moved in, and yes, that’s really gross) and to prioritize the important stuff, like trips to the park with the kids and Duck Dynasty nights with my husband, and the rare moment I snag alone to rejuvenate myself.

But there is always pressure over how to manage it all, and there is always confusion over what the heck to do with the pressure…

What I do know?  I appreciate each and every single one of you who pop by and humor me with the posts I write, and who support me as I navigate this nasty beast of Facebook and social media.  I am learning, growing, and I know not where this venture will take me or where it is meant to go, but I so appreciate you being here with me.

And I’ll take ANY stress-scape management input you have…or just company as I hang out here, trying to figure it all out. xo.

Sep 162013
 
Ignore the cheap Michael Kohrs knock-off bracelet, pay attention to the sweet A Girl and Her Band hair-tie because they may be making a giveaway appearance, but mostly focus on the gorgeous bracelet from Penny Jules

Ignore the cheap Michael Kors knock-off watch, pay attention to the sweet A Girl and Her Band hair-tie because they’re making an upcoming giveaway appearance, but mostly focus on the gorgeous bracelet from Penny Jules

A while ago I wrote a post called The Bracelet.  That one kind of ripped my heart out and spat it back because it was so poignant, so real, so…honest.  I am a private gal and this one chipped a little too close to the vest, but…I liked it.   It was healing.  I wrote it, felt love from my readers and carried on with my messy prolonged process of grieving my mother.

Life continually surprises me.  I never know what God is going to dump in my life next.  It might be a new series on my blog I am super-excited about, a slashing bit of financial news (crap, repairing the van REALLY costs that much?), a surprising job opportunity, or most fantastically, a new friend.  I fully believe God knows exactly what I will need in my life when I need it and introduces it at exactly the right time.

I have made no secret of the fact that my mother’s birthday slays me every year.  Last year, I lit my kitchen on fire and burned off my eyelashes.  This year, my dog crapped on the carpet, I started sobbing uncontrollably and called my husband to leave work because I couldn’t find the rug cleaner.  I won’t lie–I’m kind of excited to see what drama next year unfolds.

In any case, there I was, wailing over dog poop, when the mail arrived.  I am working on organizing a big (for me) giveaway in October (so please stay tuned!), and I got the first of the products I will be giving away in the mail.  The thing was, the sweet artisan who mailed the product not only sent the featured item, but a little treat for me–a beautiful bracelet.

I had slowly been falling in love with Penny Jules since our first contact.  She was sweet and has made some very kind and supportive comments on my blog.  When I saw the sweet bonus bracelet she threw in for me, I messaged her, proclaiming my gratitude.  Nothing could have prepared me for her beyond gracious response however.

Penny wrote, “I know sometimes certain days can be extremely difficult to get through. Sometimes all we need on those days is a hug, or some small gesture from even a complete stranger to help ease the pain of the day. Now today is a new day and you were already able to make people laugh with your writing. You just continue doing what you love and what you’re good at and all will be right with the world.”

Oh gosh, excuse me, readers, because the tears are streaming down my face.  I love Penny, because she is classy.  Because she is real. And because she gets it.  Obviously, go buy something from her because she is so cool, but moreover, just be touched by her words.

3 weeks ago, I didn’t even know who Penny was.  Now God put her in my life and was using her craft to get me through one of the hardest days of my life.  Just the touch of a new person in my life was all it took.

Again, I am sobbing, so I will go.  But never, ever underestimate the power of a bracelet, friends. xo.

Aug 272013
 
Source Not up to me where we're going

Source
Not up to me where we’re going

I have a distinct memory of cruising down the highway about a month after my mother was diagnosed with cancer.  My 13mo. old son was in the back seat and I remembered something cute about him I wanted to tell my mom.  I picked up the phone to call her and then had the passing fear that there might be a day sometime in the future that I wouldn’t be able to call her any more.  ”Nah, that will never happen.  I won’t let it.“, I stuffed the thought down.

You see, losing her wasn’t an option.  She was my mother, my friend, sure, but moreover, she was my #1 Cheerleader.  She was the only person on this earth who didn’t think I was cool b/c they had to or because they wanted to.  She just did.  She just thought I was neat and she loved me and liked me.  And she cheered on everything I did.

So losing her wouldn’t be an option. Walking through my days without her selfless love just wasn’t something that could be.

But then it was something that could be because it happened.  She was physically present on the day my daughter was born, but she had already checked out.  By the time my daughter was 13 mo. and I was driving around when I thought of something to call my mom about, I couldn’t.  Because she was gone.

That thing that I said I would never let happen?  It did happen.  Because I had no control over it to begin with.  My resolution to keep her on this earth was pointless because it was never something I got to decide in the first place.

My mother’s birthday is Thursday, 8/29.  It falls one day after mine, which hasn’t always been a super-convenient timing, especially now that she is dead.  The pallor that fell over my birthday last year snuffed the figurative candles out and then I kind of completely lost it on her day last year.

I’m hoping this year is different, but I don’t really know how it will go down.  Becuase you know what?  I don’t have control over it–at all.

God is good and while I would never choose to have my mother exit this earth so young, He used her death to teach me infinite lessons.  As a person who tends to pinch and hold too tightly onto everything, the experience of my mom dying taught my self-imposed corset strings to loosen.  Don’t mistake me, I still have a far way to go, but I have learned how to breathe.  I have learned how to let go a little.

This knowledge translates into rolling my eyes and just eating the burnt toast even though it irritates me, to accommodating my son’s stubborn insistence to ONLY sleep with the blue pillowcase on his pillow, to simply sighing when I am rear-ended in the minivan yet again.  The thing of this life?  We have no control.  It is all in His control, and we are just passing through for a short bit.  And I am cool with that.

In fact, all I want right now, is to just take a breath, exhale it out and let go…

Apr 082013
 
rest peace god christ answers @meredithspidel

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May we rest in the glory of His peace

I wasn’t planning to post this morning.   All the usual players were in the game–tiredness, exhaustion, not being able to keep up, blah, blah, blah…but then I woke up with a jolt at 2:36am.  As hard as I tried to pass this off as waking up because I had to pee or typical poor sleep, God was trying to tell me something.  You see, right before going to bed, I had been praying for clarity.  He delivered.  And then I had that convicting and unnerving certainty that I had to share it on my blog, so…here I am, wee hours typing.

What did He say?

Overwhelmed trying to manage an obscene amount of things because you bit off more than you can chew? God.

Panicking over the cost of what you just spent on your daughter’s new shoes because those darn adorable little feet won’t stop growing? God.

Uncertain about how to muster the savvy to handle that impossibly delicate situation? God.

Feeling like you want to bang your head against the wall if you have to change one more diaper or refill one more sippy cup?  God.

Cranky with your husband for being so male? God.

Eyes glazing over because you can’t possibly muster the energy to nod your head politely in awkward social situations one more time? God.

Certain you will never successful see your children through their school years if you struggle to keep up with the demands of preschool? God.

He didn’t say “Fuss, worry and analyze every situation a million times over.”  He didn’t say, “Whine to anyone who will listen.”

Nor did He say “Pray”, “Consult with your Bible study group” or even “Read scripture”, though I know these things would lend peace as well.  He just said “God.”

“God.”

So that’s my answer.  That’s my one-word answer.  And that’s all the answer I need.

Mar 292013
 
ready to fight rumble mom of the year

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Ready to Rumble
(Okay fine, these arms are only happening in my dreams, thrilled you noticed.)

It’s Good Friday, and today, death and suffering are near and present.  Easter’s  joy, blessing, renewal, and sense of hope are coming, but now we hang out in the pain for a bit.

It may be the time of year or just that I don’t handle holidays well in general any more, but for some reason, my tear ducts have gotten turned on lately and I can’t seem to turn them off.  Thoughts of grief are resonating loudly.  Not looking to be a downer by any stretch, but if someone out there is feeling similar things, I just wanted to take the next couple of minutes and hold your hand, if you will.  Thanks for being here.

I honor and revere Elisabeth Kubler-Ross for paving the way so smartly about how grief comes in different stages.  She nailed it;  I have all of the denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.  I just wish there was some hopeful order about them.   I would give my left arm if my grief could be gloriously linear so I could know what was coming next.

I find my grief comes in unpredictable waves.  Some days I feel almost fine, and then it’s like I’m hit by a ton of angry bricks.  I will see a picture of my mother and start cursing her out, cursing her for leaving us and leaving this legacy in this life.

Some days I am just angry in general.  Angry with an unspecified fury that her death even had to happen at all.  This is when it’s cool; I am filled with a capable rage that invigorates and fulfills.  Throw the most skilled fighters my way and I could take them on rage alone.  I am powerful; I am raging and it feels freakin’ awesome.  Game on!

And then sometimes I crash.  I crash in a ball of tears that feels so empty, so sad.  There was a moment last week when I was sitting on the couch, watching a silly PBS show with my kids, and for some reason, the sadness just engulfed me.  Who knew Super Why! could be so traumatic?  I felt dizzy with pain.  Could I even breathe any more?  I just missed her so darn much.

I have realized that no one else on this earth can ever cheer-lead as well as a mother, albeit with all of her reasonable faults and imperfections.  My heart aches that my children will never know this unconditional love of their grandmother.  No one else is going to “get it” either.  My husband is a wonderful man, but it wasn’t his mother who died, and he is human.  He can’t possibly feel or remember the pain I carry each day.  He will ask how my day was and I just say “fine” because how can you really put the random blinding moments of poignancy into words?

Once in a while, I feel normal.  I feel real, and this life seems a possible thing to participate in.  Getting back on my feet hasn’t been easy, and to be honest, hasn’t happened yet, but these moments of acceptance give hope.  Things don’t hurt so much and beautiful things can be on the horizon.

hope springs eternal

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Hope springs eternal

This is where it’s at, my friends.  These precious slices of hopefulness are what keeps us going.  They are what will someday become our every day.  In the meantime, we pray, and we thank God for loving us enough to die for us; surely if He did that, He can carry us through this earthly grief too.  When it’s bad, it will get better.  He loves us so much and Easter is coming.  I carry on with this promise.

Feb 212013
 
strength boxing gloves @meredithspidel

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Step aside, I’m packing a powerful punch with this outlook

Every once in a while my inner social worker tries to work her way up to the forefront.  I generally try to keep her closeted because despite being the precious bleeding heart that she is, the darn girl never made me any money and I just don’t have a whole of opportunity to use her right now in between diaper changes.  Maybe someday we’ll reunite in full, but lately, I’ve just been mentally harkening back to the Strengths-based Perspective, a basic hallmark of any social work practice.  In short, it seeks to draw out people’s strengths and build from there.

I love this concept.  It’s full of empowerment, hope and seeking to meet people where they are at–never bad things in my book.  I decided it might be time to throw a little of this perspective at my life.  It’s all about how you look at things, right?

When the laundry is overflowing by the washing machine and there is a questionable rank odor eminating from the pile, I going to feel great that I’ve just managed to get all most of the dirty crap down to the basement.  At least it’s semi-contained, right? I’m calling strength.

That nasty pile of bills looming on my kitchen counter?  Hey, at least I remembered to get the mail.  Moreover I remembered and I actually forced myself to venture the whole way out to the mailbox.  It’s subzero conditions outside, people.  I’m calling strength.

I can only successful change my wildly wriggling daughter’s poopy diaper by holding her down with my leg and screaming “The Wheels on the Bus” at the top of my lungs?  Go me for finding a way to multi-task in music time and my exercise.  I’m calling strength.

I crash in exhaustion on the couch every night after the kids are finally in bed and feel like a rockstar if I actually make it up past 9pm?  It’s very positive that I have myself on such a nice, regular schedule.  Shaking things up by staying up to watch Downton Abbey “live” could be such dicey territory.  I’m calling strength.

Chicken and fries AGAIN for dinner?  Go with potatoes being a veggie and I’m acing out two major food groups here.  Plus, not all nuggets are the same shape, so my kids are learning important lessons about diversity. I’m calling strength.

I’m calling strength.  You in?

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Feb 012013
 
SourceSeeking the polish of these stones...

Source
Seeking the polish of these stones…

Do you remember the lovely Chris Carter from TheMomCafe.com who shared a post here a few weeks ago?  Her message in Where Do I Go From Here? resonated with so many of us, and I have found myself going to back to that post many times to draw some clarity and strength.  Thank you Chris!  Your gift of encouragement is a true blessing.

Today she is letting me hash out some long-percolating thoughts about the way God shapes us in this world.  I’d love for you to stop over, say hello and let me know what you think!

Does anyone else ever feel a little edgy?  And by edgy I mean “edge-y”, as in full of sharp corners and edges.  This would be okay, if it didn’t make rolling through this life so darn hard.  Smooth spheres roll, prickly, pointed cube-like shapes don’t…(check out the whole post here)

 

Jan 112013
 

Do you all know the sweet, sweet Chris Carter from TheMomCafe.com?  She is one of my absolute favorite bloggers.  She has that blessed gift of nailing the heart and the funny at the same time, and she does it all while being incredibly real.  I can’t tell you how much some of her posts have encouraged me and fed my faith at times when I was definitely in need of a boost.  One if her most recent posts, about what our New Year’s resolution should actually be, has resonated powerfully with me.  Go check her out, fall in love with her and let her know how much you like her stuff!  And if you want even more of Chris and her awesomeness, she’s got a book, Maddening and Marvelous that you can snag up on Amazon.

Last week I wrote about feeling the overwhelm of the New Year.  After this, I chatted with Chris a little more, and she completely “got” what I was feeling and then felt lead to share this.  Her take on how we can tackle all that is on our plate is just so very on-point.  Tune in, readers, and hoping we can all grasp that “one small task”.  Thanks so much, Chris!

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Within one week I lost a dear friend, welcomed the New Year in, my Father-In-Law had open heart surgery, and my sister was getting tests to see if her cancer came back. Then there were the little things… New Year’s Eve gathering, taking down decorations, cleaning the house and getting the kids back in school, and an amazingly emotional women’s group that I host in my home. Both the big and the little seem to sometimes stampede me and I start to crumble. Looking at my “to do” lists and knowing that my mother and sister will be in town for a week, makes my nerves revved up a bit.

to-do list @themomoftheyear @themomcafe

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The list may seem benign, but the wisdom needed to handle it all is huge!

I sit here frozen, knowing the fridge is overflowing with old Holiday food that needs to be cleaned out, my house is a mess and the laundry is piling up, my 2013 calendar sits next to me unopened, so I have no idea what the date is or what the heck is going on… I have been meaning to transfer all my info over for weeks. And there it all sits.

I don’t like feeling this way. And I certainly don’t like being this way. Overwhelmed. Exhausted. Anxious. Lost. Frozen.

I tell myself I need to sort things out in my head and write them down. That always helps.

I know that praying about prioritizing what is most important is critical.

I also know that losing site of the blessings surrounding me is selfish.

I know that small steps always relieve the burden bit by bit and I start to feel liberated.

So I will do those things. Now.

I will start my lists, pray for discernment, count my blessings, and do one small task.

Are you in the same place I am?

Dec 072012
 

Welcome to anyone stopping by from the More Than Mommies link-up!  I’m glad to have you are visiting and and happy to be cohosting again this week.

Tell me I’m not alone on this. I really struggle with the fact that my husband just doesn’t get it.  He is a very good man, and a very smart man, but the fact remains that our lives are just entirely different right now.

He gets to leave the house.  Alone.  Without kids and moreover, without sippy cups.  Could you imagine leaving the house without the brightly colored plastic vessels that have become the bane of your existence?

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Sometimes it seems like a lonely path

I digress.  When I get frustrated with handling the upteenth temper tantrum of the day, I try to explain things to him, but it doesn’t really work.  The thing is, our day-to-day couldn’t be more different.  He goes out and participates in the world and I take care of our world, who lives inside our home.

He is very active and involved with with caring for our kids, but even if he would rock out a whole Saturday alone with the kids, he would still not have the same experience as I.  Summoning up the patience for one day is unlike summoning it up for 5 days in a row.  So despite my best efforts to communicate my feelings, he can never really understand how it feels because he never really walks in my shoes.  And I never really walk in his shoes either.  I can only imagine trying to balance between work and family.  I know he works hard, so hard at this.

So are we just screwed with never really being able to understand each other?  Maybe we never will fully “get” each other, but I’m learning that this is okay.  While we may never  fully get what it’s like to be someone else, whether we’re married to them or not,  I don’t think that’s the point.  I think we each try to do the job in front of us and then just try our best to support those around us.  God gives us each the exact load in front of us that He knows we can handle.  My husband isn’t ever gonna really “get” my load, but that’s okay.  I’ll just need him to help me carry it once in a while, right?  Especially when the laundry basket is really heavy ;)

I think a lot of people are in this boat of not feeling “got”, so at least we’re in it together, right?  Parenting, life in general, or whatever you have in front of you can be a tricky, lonely road.  But there are others who are are walking down it at the same time, trust me.  And in the meantime, I’m going to try not to be too insanely jealous that my husband gets to pee alone.

Link up below to hop in on the More than Mommies Mixer!

 More than Mommies Mixer @meredithspidel @morethanmommies #MTMmixer

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