Children are a gift from the Lord; the fruit of the womb, a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children born in one's youth. Blessed are they whose quivers are full. They will never be shamed contending with foes at the gate. ~Psalm 127:3-5

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Feminists Are Not All Zombies: Paging Matt Walsh



Dear Matt,

Let me introduce myself. I am a SAHM of 6 darling children, a wife to an amazing man, a homeschooler, a church-goer, a daughter, a sister to 6 siblings and their spouses, aunt to 18. Oh, and I am also a feminist. Wait! Before you click away from me, let me explain to you what I mean by feminist because you self-admittedly have never met my kind before, and I really would love to give you the chance to do so!

In the late 1800’s the terms ‘feminism’ and ‘feminist’ were coined in several countries, and by the very early 1900’s they had made their way to the US. Simply put, these terms were abdicated to the cause of women’s rights. I’m sure you agree that women do have rights, yes? In any case, unfortunately, over the decades, the idea of advocating for women’s rights sort of morphed into what you painted in your blogpost as “a zombie corpse, lurching across the hillside, groaning and growling as it slowly devours itself.”   I completely agree on that one! Yes, sir. I absolutely love the imagery, also. Especially because that type of feminism sadly misses the reality that it is indeed devouring itself. What those women think is their ticket to freedom on the train tracks of “equality” and “reproductive rights” is actually no more than a continuation of the oppression women have faced throughout all of history. Devouring itself, groaning, lurching along the bumpy ride to a nefarious end of the line. Completely agree 100%. But what I cannot agree on is your idea of that being all feminism is. You see, there are many, many of us who refuse to allow the label of feminism to stick to us with that nasty glue that makes your tongue swell up and go numb – zombie drool, if you will.

And that’s where New Feminism comes in.

This is 2014, yes? While I’d absolutely love to believe that feminism has evolved over the last 100+ years into something spectacular, it actually has not. And that is where I come in. Or…ahem…where we come in. We are growing in numbers and aren’t just your typical SAHM mommy bloggers just voicing our concerns from behind a computer screen whilst we simultaneously bounce babies on our hips, and that’s it. We are women of all different ages, races, situations and life paths. Some of us have a career out in the world to contribute to our family income. Some of us stay at home with our children. Some of us homeschool. Some of us send our kids to public school. Some of us are very much into politics, while many of us would rather do the bare minimum to make an honest and informed vote on poll day. What we do have in common, though, is that while we believe women do have rights, more-so we agree that our rights are not defined by what we think society has taken from us or refused to give us, but what has been given to us naturally by our Creator.

Still not convinced? I know you have heard the term New Feminism before. You have heard it but perhaps you don’t understand it. New Feminists are all about respecting our uniqueness, our feminine genius as it pertains to how we compliment men and add value to society and the human condition; not necessarily being equal to, or even better than men, but in our feminine role as it was created, being a harmonic position to that of our male counterparts. New Feminism is also about the importance of advocating for our God-given abilities such as breast-feeding whenever and wherever we choose, birthing however we choose, and being able to define our roles as mothers and life-givers, wives and teachers of our children without the oppression of a misogynistic society such as you might find in Islam, or even loud “advocacy” shouted from the throngs of angry women who call themselves feminists but are no more than those zombies devouring themselves whom you spoke of in your article.

The truth is, we do believe that feminism can and should be redefined and there is a whole new wave of us coming down the hatch to do just that. We appreciate the noble efforts of all of our front-line men such as yourself who advocate for us. You are indeed our allies. But Matt, if you will open your eyes a little bit you will see that there aren’t enough of you. There aren’t enough men like you willing to take on the type of society we live in where women feel forced to work out in the world away from our families because someone advocated for that over fifty years ago. Or the kind of world where we view our fertility as something that is broken and needs to be fixed instead of the amazing life-giving beautiful phenomenon that it is. There aren’t enough chivalrous knights willing to stand up for us women, not because we are weak and can’t stand up on our own, but because you are strong and could add so much to our voice. There aren’t enough.

Matt, I’d like to invite you to the conversation. I’d love for you to do some research and talk to even just a few of the thousands of us who are here, living, breathing, self-proclaimed feminists who want to change the way society views women, but not in the way you are used to thinking of. You won’t see us out there in our birthday suits, screaming and smearing blood on every male we pass. You won’t hear our anger rise up across the nation, insulting and demanding. You won’t see us disrespecting ourselves and every woman who ever was or will be, in order to prove a point. We don’t want reproductive rights that will give us access to abortion on demand, the morning after pill and free birth control paid by our employers. You won’t see us filming our little girls dropping the F-bomb and spouting out words they don’t even understand, for a cause they know nothing about.

But Matt, you will see us in groups, peaceful groups full of love and respect for our sisters. You will watch us build communities who wrap our women in support as we birth our babes, nurse our babes, teach our babes and send them off into the world to make a difference. You will hear us praying for one another, laughing and crying with one another, encouraging one another. You will meet us and get to know us and find out that we love men, we love being their wives and helpmeets; we love sharing ourselves and our lives with them. We love our feminine role which compliments their male role. And we do need them.

I am writing this because you awakened something in me with your post. Much of it was dead-on about some feminists. But not us, Matt. Not us. If it’s the term you have a problem with, I completely understand. We all do. But it’s that exact term which gave us a voice over a century ago, and while we are not happy with how loud and angry the voice has grown, we are working to resolve that. We are working to redefine the very nature of the words ‘feminist’ and ‘feminism.’ You said on your Facebook page that you don’t think there needs to be feminism at all, and in a perfect world, that would be true. But Matt, in this world that we live in, in today’s society, we do need feminism. We do need women to stand up for each other, in unity with the men who are willing to stand up for us, and advocate for our rights to exist in the roles which we were designed for.

Your blanket statement about feminists just is not true. And because you are as you say a “professional truth sayer,” I really encourage you to open your mind to the idea that New Feminism does exist, it is alive, and we do have something to say. And that something is, “please?” Please will you join us in our fight to be unique, to be feminine, to love our bodies and our fertility, to not feel as if we’re broken, to be able to nurture our babies, our families and our men without feeling like we’re betraying our gender? Please will you give us a bigger voice by advocating with us and for us, so that there can be more men like you standing up for life, for truth? Please will you stop making blanket statements about things like feminism which work to only bury us under the blood and lifelessness those zombies are creating in their wake? We are here and we are growing and we are strong and we believe that someday our voices will be louder and more gentle than theirs, we will reach our goal of redefining what it means to be a feminist, and women will once again be able to live comfortably and without regret in our natural womanly roles of wives, life-givers, and nurturers.

Call it whatever you want to call it, Matt. Call it a bake-sale for all I care. But the truth is, it is feminism – redefined. New Feminism, if you will. And it’s here to stay.





*Another version of this post can be found here.


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Something Great

On my road to recovery, which I've written about here, here, and here, I have come across a realization: I lost something.  I lost something big.  I was once told by my mother that the Holy Spirit told her through various friends to not worry so much about her children's futures; that He was going to do great things through each of us. That story is a really neat one; maybe I'll share it another time. I was told this early in my life and as I grew older, I really believed it.  I knew God had something planned, but of course I didn't know what.  As life goes, my path meandered toward and then far away from Him and His plan, and back again.  A few times.  But I always had that spark in the back of my mind, the one that would eventually light the flame under my desire to actually do something great.

I can remember, and have actual evidence, in notes and other things people have written to and about me over the years, that I have always had a heart to serve other people. I've always had compassion and sympathy for their plight, and maybe for the human condition in general.  I've always wanted to help.  Not because it made me something, but because I could see it helped to make them something.  Whether it was more focused, more curious, more peaceful, more courageous, I could tell that often-times whatever I did or said or wrote helped soothe their souls.  And I knew it was not from my mind or abilities, but from the Holy Spirit.  This was His something great for me.  And I knew it.  My heart yearned to be directed by Him in helping people, even if in the smallest of ways, and leaving them with a better sense of who they were in Him.  What path they could take.  Which adventure to travel.  What piece of themselves they could challenge or nurture or renew.  And also, I longed to help them to know what love truly is.

When I got married, I was super excited to be part of a brand new family.  To bring into it all the love I experienced from my parents and siblings growing up, and to help draw new people into the boundless Love of Christ.  I didn't feel as though it was my job to "save" anyone, but I knew that as all Christians, I, too, was called to bring others to Him.  I didn't realize how much of a mountain I was climbing with that.  And I know I failed miserably in it.  I know it because part of the way up, I lost my path.  I lost who I was and my purpose.  I lost my sense of understanding what I was meant to do.  I became confused.  I became frightened.  And I started my descent back down.  I gave up.  And I knew I had failed.

Getting to a place of being able to look at the journey I walked away from was difficult. There are still days in which the sting from what I endured keeps me from being able to move forward in my recovery.  But other days, days when I am granted a certain peace or strength by my heavenly Father, I can look.  I can put it all under a microscope and dissect each piece.  I can sort out the good times (and yes, there were some good times), and I can cherish them and tuck them away for another time.  And I can pick through the many shards of hurt:  The miscommunication.  The tearing down of my identity.  And I see it- that something great.  I see it quickly fading as time and time again I am told I am not worth the effort or time, I am not worthy of love, I am not considered family, my kids don't matter, I am useless, I am not able to help anyone, I should stop wanting to "save" people.  I flip through the slides of these moments like a time-lapse photo album, and I see the frays around my mind appear, and snag, and then begin to furiously unravel.

I've notice lately that I am fearful when I talk to others.  They ask me questions.."what do you think about X, what would you do in Y situation....how do I do this like you?"   They ask these things of me, and the old me- the one who was confident in my something great- would easily have launched into an answer.  Mind you, it would not be earth-shattering, eloquent or even awe-inspiring, but it would be something.  To them, it might be one small piece of their puzzle, some small direction or aide.  Or, it might not even be exactly what they need at that moment.  And quite possibly it might not be anything they want to hear.  But it would be something.  And I would say it or write it, and I would feel confident that I did the best I could and I would pray that the Lord would take that opportunity to either shine through me or shine in spite of me.  But regardless, I was working on fulfilling that utterance of the something great He said He would do with me. 

But now..now I am afraid.  I hesitate.  I don't articulate well.  I don't trust myself.  I worry that I'm saying too much.  Pushing too much.  Helping too much.  I am worried that they'll reject me, that they'll stop talking to me.

I am broken.  Much more broken than I ever was when I was battling myself on the path back to the Lord for good.  I am afraid to do something great.  I am afraid to try.

The truth is, we should ALL want to make some mark on the world.  We should ALL want to do something great.  That could simply look like volunteering at a soup kitchen.  Or it could be solving the clean-energy crisis.  It could take the form of counseling a wayward teen, or dropping $5 in the cup of a homeless beggar. Or finding a natural cure for cancer. It could very well just mean focusing on your family and ensuring that they know how much they are loved and cherished, spending time with your children and guiding them with your love.  As one whole body of Christ, everything we each do ripples out and affects everyone. We're not just mindless, selfish sheep wandering around through life with no direction and no purpose.  Our life's very breath is dependent on a Creator who loves us so much that He created us to share in this amazing and beautiful world, to take part in being a living vessel in which He can show others His love and invite them to His table, to His strong embrace.  We CAN make our mark, make a difference, do something great.  And we should never allow anyone to cause us to lose that knowledge and push us off our path.  I know this.  And yet, I allowed that very thing to happen.

I'm slowly working on figuring out how to smooth my way back onto that particular path; of wanting to help people without being afraid.  I want to once again feel confident in the knowledge that this is the Lord's something great, His something great for me.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

I'm Not Better Than You

My husband and I were having a conversation last night about people.  It began with a discussion about a neighbor making a comment on something on Facebook in which I tagged my husband, a comment that was totally inappropriate to make in the context of what I posted, especially because it didn't even have anything to do with what I was posting about, and one which made me feel like he secretly has some issue with me.  Which would be funny because he doesn't know me at at all... but I digress.

Our conversation then turned to my drawing inward and coming back out with "am I a really terrible person and I am just in complete denial about it?"  Because we know someone a little like this.  His reply, "no, people just think you're opinionated, like you're better than them and they take it the wrong way."  "What am I opinionated about?" I asked in complete innocence.  "Not really opinionated, but just that we homeschool and go to church and all that... and you're vocal about it...people think you think you're better than they are." 

Um...what?

Since when did MY decisions about MY family equate to "I'm better than you." ?

I am the type of person that wants to be told when there's an aspect of myself that can be improved.  Even if it hurts.  Even if at first, I don't like it!  I want to be a better person in general.  So I welcome the truth.  But I don't want YOUR truth. I don't want you to tell me something about myself based on your whacked out version of observance because you don't know anything about me at all and haven't taken the time to get to know me.  I'm a whole human being.  Your experience of but one or two or even three aspects of the millions of parts of my identity will not tell you enough about me to warrant such a harsh and generalized judgment. 

There is something about this song that seems familiar.  Oh yes, it's the soundtrack of the last ten years of my life as a Mack, which I spent warding off my husband's family who accused me of all these things, including that I thought I was better than them, that my family was better than theirs.  Accusations based on the fact that they don't even know me at all, that they make assumptions about me based on one or two aspects of my life that they have witnessed, or based on their witness of someone else's behavior which they project onto me.

I'm changing the station.  I'm done with all that.

The truth is, I don't think I'm better than ANYONE.  I'm no better than the beggar on the street at the stoplight on the way to the store, the person in the ghetto, my one neighbor who hates me because I have six children. I'm no better than my husband's "family," no better than the mailman.  No better than anyone.  I know this.  I believe it.  I am constantly aware of it.

I'm just different.

I follow a set of moral standards that most of the world does not.  I do this because I'm called to, as a Catholic Christian.  It's hard.  If I really wanted to do what my flesh wants, my life would look completely different.  But I was asked to do and be what I am striving toward, and though I fail CONSTANTLY at it, I'm TRYING.  This doesn't make me better than anyone. It just means my convictions are different than some people's.

I homeschool my children in a world where there is still a huge- unwarranted - stigma related to homeschooling, and where most people are still largely unaware of the consistent (but not exclusive) failure of the school system to actually produce healthy members of society.  I homeschool because the public school system presents a constant resistance to- and often override of- the morals I want to teach my children, and the atmosphere of a brick-and-mortar school setting is not conducive to allowing a child to really explore all that they are interested in or all of their capabilities.  These two ideas barely scratch the surface of all the reasons I homeschool, but neither these two nor the rest of my reasons are because I think I'm better than anyone.   You want to send your child to public school, that's great.  Good for you!  I have no opinion about your choice at all.  It's not my business.  Just like where my kids go to school isn't your business.

I have a large family.  Yes.  I do.  It's not because I really absolutely adore children.  It's not because I am getting some government benefit from having lots of children.  I'm not.  It's not because I think I'm better than anyone who has less.  I have a big family because God asked me to be open to life.  And while that doesn't always equate to having a big family (I know many many people who are open to life AND want a big family, but have been able to have only one or two kids), for me, it does.  And while this is a HUGE challenge for me on a consistent basis, I'm ok with it.  I'm ok with any number of little souls which God entrusts to me to create saints for heaven's glory.  I fail at my duty.  A lot.  I sometimes wonder why He trusts me so much.  I scream at my kids sometimes.  I get upset.  I cuss sometimes.  I don't say nice things to my kids every moment of the day.  I'm a sinner.  I'm not perfect.  I could name many many women I know who could be doing a much, MUCH better job than I am.  But for some reason, I was the one chosen for the monumental feat of baring and raising these children and I'm told by women much wiser than me that God did not make any mistakes; I am the one for the task.  This doesn't make me better than anyone.  Not one bit.

I really wanted to be snarky and cynical about this whole thing.  I guess I am a little sensitive.  But really, I'm just sad. I'm sad that people don't take the time to actually get to know a person before making assumptions about them.  I mean, my in-laws spent TEN years wasting their energy on tearing me down and rejecting me instead of spending that time getting to know me.  My neighbor has never spent more than three seconds in conversation with me and yet has some idea of me that isn't true.  People are quick to make a judgement on someone else's character or personality or whathaveyou, instead of actually taking the time to get to know them, to love them.

So you don't have time to get to know me?  Who's the one acting better than who now?

Friday, October 3, 2014

Enough?

Sometimes I am overwhelmed by the many little bodies wandering around our home- the noise, the movement, the sometimes-bad behavior. I get overwhelmed by the idea that I am just one person with but two arms and there are so many kids. So many needs. So many voices. So many little souls in my care. And I worry. Am I doing enough? Am I good enough? When they act up and are so insane, I am convinced I am not enough. That I am failing. But then there are days.... Days like today. Mornings when the sun peeks out from behind gray clouds, through my window, illuminating small feet and chubby fingers, wispy hair and cherub faces, little bodies curled around us. And then....when there's movement and giggles and stretching and padding on tiny toes to the bathroom.. When there's fresh coffee suddenly appearing before us in bed and smiling toothy grins behind the cup. When they are working together to make pancakes and set the table for breakfast. With out help. With out complaint or even being asked. Without fighting. And the excitement over a task completed. The proud song of praise for each other's accomplishment as they flipped the pancakes just so, and worked together to take on a new feat without me. And I realize....maybe I am enough after all. Maybe God really is blessing my efforts and filling in where I lack. Because He doesn't call the qualified. He qualifies the called.


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Rosary Beads

Can't find your rosary?

No problem!  Babies have teeny tiny toes which are perfect in lieu of those lost rosary beads. 

Hail Mary.....


Saturday, September 20, 2014

Battles

This will be a potpourri post of a few different things....

First of all, our daughter was born!!  Looking over my last post, I am laughing..  She was born the very next day after I wrote that post, on the obscure EDD that we hadn't even regarded as a real one.  I gave my big sister a really nice birthday present.. One she couldn't actually keep..but a nice one nonetheless!  Ha!   We are over the moon in love with baby GG, of course, and of course she looks exactly like her siblings.  I'm pretty sure she will have brown eyes. They seem to get darker every day.  Her big brother, Jeremiah, who calls her 'baby face' just loves her to pieces.  But because he is only two, we have to watch him around her.  One second he's kissing all over forehead and toes, the next, he's trying to bite her toes off or dragging his nails across her head.  She completes our family in so many ways.  Right now I'm listening to her cute little hiccups, which seem to be her trademark as she had them pretty much my entire pregnancy and almost every day since she was born.  The kids love her.  We love her.  My family loves her.  Our friends love her.  No one in Hubby's family has bothered to meet her.  Which leads me to the next thing and the inspiration for the title of my post.

A few months before I had the baby, the final semi-link to hubby's family was severely damaged and I wrote a blog post about temperance because I just couldn't deal with it at the time.  Since then, so much has changed within our little family unit that it seems so pointless, all of it, to even think about anymore.

And that's what this is - the battle - I think - is over.  There's been a huge disconnect from it for both of us but I think the shift has occurred mostly in my husband.  He just can't afford to care anymore.  He seems done battling his emotions and his what should-be's and his wants and his ideas of what family is or isn't.  He'll be 40 years old in about six months or so and I think he's reached a point in his life where he is okay with not having his family to count on.   He might not like it and he might sometimes wish things were different, but as there isn't anything that can be done at this point, I think he's just over it.  When he talks about it, he seems to be resigned to that, anyway.  He has a family to take care of and spend his energy, love and time on.  He has six children to raise and love and play with.  He has me, his wife, who would do anything for him, anything to see a smile upon his handsome face, anything to fill his heart with unconditional love.  He also has a whole slew of friends, people who have stepped in to fill positions his family has left empty, to  fill in and overflow the holes in his heart.  And of course, he has the family he married into.  Not perfect, often crazy.  But always always there no matter what.  He has more than enough.

As for me, reviewing the past ten years as his wife, I realized that even though I was his wife, I was never part of that family.  He was barely considered part of that family, so I can't really expect that I would be.  Sure, there were brief periods when it seemed like we were, but looking at the things that made it so we weren't, it's not difficult to realize that it was all a facade.  Because real family with true unconditional love doesn't just back away or dump you the second you say you're unhappy with something, or want more, or the minute things are difficult.  We were considered "family," when it was convenient and easy.  And I know that having severe mental illnesses such as they do plays a part in how people treat others.  But perhaps it's a good thing that things occurred the way they did.  We both finally got to see them for who they really were.  No masks.  And it.is.sad.  So we don't blame them in the sense that we think they choose to be jerks.  We are both just to the point where it's time to stop thinking about it, cut our losses and move on a little more quickly than we have been. It's time for the rest of our healing process to take place, for our focus to shift, for our life to move along.

We sort of were paralyzed for quite some time as we waited and prayed and angsted about what to do.  We realized we can't really do anything.  When toxic unloving people are causing such a rift in our life, disturbing our peace and tempting us to lash out and be angry, it's time to step away.  As far as we can.  We can't change the fact that they don't want to be part of our life, or to know the kids or love the kids.  We can't do anything but worry about our own family from here on out.  We've stuck in there for so long, tried to talk, tried to explain how we feel.  But stubborn selfish people don't like to change their hearts and make room for others and while that is sad and hurtful, the acceptance HAS to come.   Our life is so much more peaceful now that we don't have to worry about any of that.  My husband is so much more peaceful and happy as he lets go more and more.  I've seen some of the light return to his beautiful brown eyes.  I've seen his heart open more to other people and more love from them.  He is finally allowing some of his wounds to heal completely.

God has called us to love from a distance. That love looks like prayerfully seeking healing and peace in our hearts, softening our hearts to them and the pain they have caused, and to pray for them to seek His love out, to seek His path for their lives, to come to an understanding of what love actually looks like.  I kind of wonder who else there is to pray for them.  Our battles have shifted focus.  We are now battling ourselves to follow what He asks of us... To put aside our tendencies of the flesh and take the path to holiness.  To battle the sinfulness in our hearts, temptations from satan, the world and its draws. To raise the white flag and surrender to the will of God.
It's so incredibly difficult at times, but so much has changed in such a short amount of time since we really started taking steps.  There's always a hope that in the future things will be different in the way of family..  But we won't hold our breath.  And that's okay.

There is so much exciting stuff in store for our little family and I can't wait for it all to come to fruition.  The journey for our family of now-8 has been really difficult, especially the past few months, but we are remaining faithful that the Lord is paving our path and putting things into place for us.  I've had it in my mind to plan a big huge bash for my hubby for his 40th birthday, to celebrate him and the amazing man he is and the leaps and bounds he has made in his life.  We also have been talking about utilizing that time to renew our wedding vows.  Our ten-year anniversary is this December, just a few short months but we thought we might combine the celebration of that with the celebration of hubby in the Spring when it's warm.  Still working out the details in my head. Nothing is concrete.

I'm pretty sure I spoke too soon about wanting to post more, and of the things I'd be writing and all of that... because I'm so incredibly busy.  So this time right now will be sporadic with updates and the 2.5 of you who actually read my blog on a regular basis know how to contact me anyway to find out what's going on in our world.  Email or call me any time!

Blessings abound, even when they don't appear to, despite any battles we may face.  God has been so good to us, even when we have messed up and we are so humbled by His love.  I hope anyone reading this who has been through similar life situations will take comfort in that thought and turn to Him. He fulfills ALL our needs.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

EDD's, Contractions and Nesting

So my due date based on my LMP has passed.  It's not the due date my midwife was going off of so it passed without much ado from anyone.  Except the voices in my head.  I was convinced, based on the awful way I have been feeling, that my baby would be born around the beginning of July.  Here we are now, slowly moving toward the middle and another EDD.  I actually have 3.  Two are based on a sonogram: one of the gestational sac size at the time of the ultrasound, and other on the crown-to-rump length, though I'm not sure why that plays such a huge factor in deciphering the true EDD. What if my baby is really short?  Nevertheless, the second one is approaching (tomorrow, the 11th to be exact) and still no major signs of baby coming.

I do realize that the EDD is just exactly that - an ESTIMATED due date.  Though many babies are actually born on this date, many also are not.  Many go way beyond their EDD's.  Many come early.  Because I have 3 EDD's, my mind is having a field day and so are my emotions.  I've never been one to really be too anxious at the end of my pregnancies; I usually follow the motto, 'baby will come when baby is ready.'   But this one, this time, is different.  Perhaps it is the craziness of the entire pregnancy that has kept me captivated and obsessing over the EDD.  I have been having such a difficult time, and outside factors have definitely played a part in all that.  I've never been given 3 EDD's.  We sort of weren't even looking at the middle one at all and like I said, my midwife was going by the third one.  She's been fine with it.  I, however, was convinced this baby wouldn't stay in that long.

Over the last few weeks, I've had contractions which have grown increasingly in intensity but still aren't doing much to bring on real labor.  I've been up and down with my moods, how I feel physically, the baby's position in my womb, my energy level.  A few times I thought I was in nesting mode, especially in the past week.  Tonight, I kinda hit it hard I think.  I have been doing laundry for the past few days.  Today I felt the need to get the rest of it finished.  Stat.  I also baked something this morning.  And I vacuumed the entire house in anticipation of my husband having time to mop it tonight.  I rearranged several things, moved a few small pieces of furniture and re-checked my birth supplies.  I think I am nesting for real this time.

But when will baby come?  Tomorrow is my sister's birthday.  Maybe our little Gianna will decide to make her appearance then; a nice little birthday gift for my oldest big sis. I can't make her come any faster.  Who knows, maybe even that final EDD will be the day, or maybe she will stay in there longer?   I think if I were a baby and I heard all the craziness going on around me, I'd stay put for as long as possible.  Especially when the woman who is supposed to take care of me is such a nut case!

We'll see.. 

Friday, June 6, 2014

Temperance

Temperance is NOT one of my strong suits.  I don't mean temperance with food and drink, but when it comes to SAYING things or THINKING things.  I have been working on tempering my words but as I recently confessed, I have major fails a lot. Most of the time, when I say things I do have a motive of love, but not all the time.  So temperance in those times that I don't is especially important.

I recently had a small blip in my day that really irritated and hurt me.  Someone was just so rude and disrespectful to me in a sneaky way, and I really just didn't even know at first how to handle it.  Then I realized, temperance has to take place here.  Not only am I simply exhausted from life in general, and more specifically crappy hurtful behavior and drama from specific people, but I just felt it strongly on my heart that I had to let it go.  I had to.  For my own sanity and for the sake of a peaceful last few weeks of my pregnancy, I just had to drop it wherever it would lay and move away from it as fast as possible.  I also know God has been moving within me so much lately, in response to my prayers that He break me as much as He needs to and continue to make me what He wants me to be. I'm sure this is part of that.  Temperance (self-control) is a Fruit of the Spirit. Who doesn't need more temperance? 

Temperance of my words was fairly easy.  Temperance of my thoughts, not so much.  I had righteous anger but it still detracted from my life in those moments and I found it really hard to focus on my day.  I may have succeeded in not saying anything to the person, but my thoughts had a field day. I had to journal a little, and bake, and attempt to get it out of my head. I also talked A LOT to my very close friend because she is so honest and wise, and because that helped me to not talk to the person.  I also sought council from a really awesome group of Catholic women who helped me to stay on the path of righteousness and just pray, instead of going off on the person. These women are the type that will let you know if you're being ridiculous, will be honest with you a hundred percent, and won't allow any sort of tearing down of other people to take place in any form.  They will pray for and with you.  They will help you to see all sides, and point you in the direction of holiness.  I needed their council and was so grateful for it.  I know that usually, when you have an issue with someone, you are supposed to talk to the person about it.  But this was not one of those cases. Nothing good could have come of it.  They had already broken my trust when they didn't come to me with their issue and instead did what they did, and I was left knowing that I couldn't trust them any longer with anything.  Which made me especially sad because I had been trying to make efforts to build a real friendship, and I was proven yet again that sometimes, I'm just an idiot for giving people a second chance.  Sometimes, the benefit of the doubt isn't always the right thing to bare in mind.

I have to be somewhat thankful for this event, though.  I try to seek the positive even in the most crappy situations so this must be it: I realized the person's true colors. Here I was, thinking that my attempts, slow but steady, were actually working toward building something solid. I was so fearful to begin this feat, with good reason, but convinced myself that everyone deserves a second chance.  But this particular event made me realize that no, not everyone does and in fact, as I would cement a layer of solidarity, this person would come beneath it and muck it back out before it had time to dry.  Little by little, it was crumbling and I guess there was only a matter of time.  So I'm grateful that it was something rather small that opened my eyes instead of something major. 

I also have to be thankful because my first (lately) real serious and conscious effort at tempering my words to someone who has hurt me led to my being able to do it with several other people on matters that weren't major, nothing hurtful exchanged, but just topics in general that are hard. (See link about talking too much, at the top)  It felt freeing!  I was really proud of myself.  And I was grateful to the Lord.  It's not always going to be easy to do so, especially when it's about something important or related to God's truth.  But I know that the more I work on it, the easier it will become.  I pray that I can get to a point where wisdom kicks in and I can always know the right thing to say at the right time, and more importantly, know when not to say anything at all.


Friday, May 23, 2014

Finding Love In the Quiet

Today my husband took the big 4 to ride bikes in the church parking lot.  They were away for a good 3 hours or so.  Aside from my 21 month old, Jeremiah, I was alone in the house and even though he didn't want to nap, he was so easy and compliant; playing with his "car-ees." I was so grateful for this time; so much needed. I felt spoiled by it. I felt like I deserved it.  Like life was on hold until this moment when I could finally breathe and listen and hear absolutely nothing..or, almost nothing.. 

It was a gift.

I took a long bath. I think I sat in there for almost an hour and read a book my mama gave me a few days ago.  Jeremiah came in to stand beside the tub and jabber away and run his cars along the ledge. Once in awhile, he'd drop one in and have me retrieve it, a quiet giggle and sparkle in his eye as he pointed and said "car!"  Then, "dank doo, Mama," and back to vroom-vrooming them along the porcelain.

After I got out of the tub, I put on a comfy flowing skirt and short-sleeve shirt and sat on my exercise ball as I continued to read the book and simultaneously play with my son when he wanted my attention.  A gentle breeze floated in and out of the open windows and sliding glass door, calming my normally frazzled mind.


I realized that I had been experiencing slightly more intense Braxton Hicks most of the day, and I started to think about this baby.  I never really have the time or the energy to focus on her.  It's funny how life is.  How when you have baby after baby and the demands of the daily grind encircle you and create a sort of "survival" mode and tunnel vision, you don't ponder much about the coming months or the coming baby tucked inside your very pregnant belly.  Between homeschooling and chores and trying to keep on top of everything, while battling a constant state of anxiety and some dark moments of depression, as well as the usual busy life of a regular family of 7-almost-8, it just doesn't leave a lot of space to focus and process the next stage, the new dynamic, the task of making room for my heart to grow ever bigger.

So I sat there, gently rolling back and forth on my ball, thinking about this baby who will be here in less time than I really understand.  I think about her in her small fragility, not so much floating around inside me as she once did, but stretching and pushing and moving to find room for her rapidly-growing limbs.  I think about her eyes and if she'll have blue like 4 of my children or brown like my current middle child and her daddy.  I think about the birth and how I am frightened and at the same time, excited.

I think about the what-ifs and the never-wills and all the lessons I will re-learn and learn anew with this baby.  And I realize how utterly tired I really am.  How exhausted my body and my brain are.  How for the last 10+ years I have been either pregnant or nursing and how this baby will continue my streak of life-giving capabilities, and I'm both honored and humbled by the very idea.  I think about all the negativity I have and will receive for having such a big family in today's "two-at-most-a-boy-and-a-girl-are-perfect" world.  And I think how in the bigger picture, it really doesn't matter.

I think about my c-section scar; my battle scar from my very first birth.  And how far I've come from that naive and scared 22 year old's view of life.  I think about the stretch marks that grace my belly, and how I have a love-hate relationship with them, and with my extra baby weight.  I think about these things - little moments I remember from my past as a new mother, snippets of all the times I failed over and over, memories of joys I found in each newborn babe - all of it mingled and intertwined into one long stretch of motherhood where giving birth and surviving the first year were really not the horrors I thought them to be at the time..  and I breathe deeply in, I sigh, and I realize.... THIS is what life is about.  I AM living.  I'm holding on, traveling the parenting tunnel, taking my children along by their hands as they take me along by my heart. 

I received a text from my husband telling me he was on his way. I geared up for the noise and chaos that would ensue when the door opened and they all rumbled inside with the breeze and the spring sun still warm on their skin.  I've been having issues lately with noise and my nerves and I knew it wouldn't be pleasant to have their noise return.  But I also knew that those hours I just had to myself were indeed a gift - but were not THE gift.  The gift was my family, coming home to me after a few hours of time to themselves, filling my home once more with their laughter, scent and yes, even their chaos.  It was having them rub and love up on my belly, talking to their baby sister inside, and then just as quickly flitting off again.  It was the snuggling my almost-5 year old is so good at, and the easy way my older son settles in to alone mode to play with his Angry Birds for a time.  It was that familiar and comforting atmosphere of the past 10 years of life enveloping our home, regardless of the difficulties or the negative. 

It was pure, unadulterated Love.


Sunday, May 18, 2014

And So..What Would Jesus Do?????


MAJOR fail today.

The cliche "what would Jesus do?" is actually seriously a good thought to have before you speak or do anything, especially in a difficult/hurtful situation.  Jesus was always loving.  He was a "turn the other cheek" kinda guy. Hello.....crucifixion!   I can't even imagine having all these terrible things said about me, physical and verbal abuse and spit flying in my face, rejection from other people and STILL be able to show love.  I've tried. It's really really difficult.  Especially the type of deep love Jesus showed. I mean, there is NO deeper love than to die in such a horrible way for other people.  And yet, Jesus did it.  He took all the insults and the hurt and the sin and he covered His body in it and hung on a cross in what the world looked upon as "shame."

And yet, here I am, with my life so drastically different than about 2 years ago where I was venturing toward a deeper understanding of Christian love, finding myself facing the opposite direction of where I was headed.  I have taken a detour.  Since the event that changed me, drew me into darkness, made me all but forget my call to be Christian and loving and think at all times, "what would Jesus do," I have failed time and time again.  I made progress in my recovery and healing and found myself drawing closer to the Lord in general, but that Christian love was still so elusive at times.  I am still so raw and broken, more-so than I truly realized, and am incapable of caring very much (in the moment) if I just completely fail in my quest and my call to be loving, and do what Jesus would.  He asks us to follow Him. It doesn't just mean follow Him in our physical footsteps, but with our hearts and our actions - to truly do what He does.

Everyone is a sinner.  I know this.  I am a big fat sinner. I NEED Christ in my life because of this.  I am convicted of my faults and failings and try all the time to do better.  But with certain people, some days- I'm not going to lie- I just don't care.  Today is one of those days.  I just didn't care.  I just didn't care if I said mean things, even if they were rooted in truthful events. I just didn't care if I was unloving and unkind and hurt people with my words.  I just couldn't muster up anything but the numbness I fall into sometimes toward my actions, and the anger I allow to seep out.  When I am weak, I fail.  Today I was very very weak.  Weaker than I've felt in some time.  I felt like a mama bear, because it was about someone hurting my child, and the "wild" in me came out. 

And, dear precious Lord, forgive me, I still don't care. I mean, I have now come to the point of feeling bad that I couldn't do what Jesus would....But I don't find myself feeling so poorly about it that I am devastated.  Is this a result of all the damage the person has done to me?  I don't know.  It sorta scares me.  I've always cared before when I've been unloving to someone.  When the conviction comes, I am always devastated.  Because I want to do better. I'm always wanting to do exactly what I should. I want so badly to be a better person, and to always recognize my need to try harder.  I try to be gentle with myself, but at the same time, give myself the sternness Jesus would if He was standing right here, love intertwined as He would say "go and sin no more."   This time....this time I don't want to do it again.  But I find myself feeling not so bad that I did it at all.  I mean, I do feel bad, but maybe not as bad as I should..  I don't want to apologize.  I've always wanted to apologize before.

Please pray for me, friends. I really desperately need it.



Saturday, April 26, 2014

On Fitting A Square Peg In A Round Hole: Family Life and Routine

I spent this past week mentally gearing up for our grain-free diet, and trying to get better organized in general, for my own sanity and the harmony of our family life.  My oldest (9) said to me just yesterday that she really liked it when we had a good routine and stuck to it...  Mind you, it's almost 2 years since we last saw that routine and everything running smoothly around here, and it just really amazed me that she not only remembers that but was observant enough to pick up on it and be impacted by the change.  It's even more motivation to get back to that blissful time than the encouragements and reminders from my friend Amy, especially as I've witnessed how it has affected the children since we lost our harmony.  Since then, we've been haphazardly flapping around, following some semblance of a routine, but mostly just a lot of chaos, and it hasn't been all that great for my recovery, or for our family dynamic in general.

Essentially, we've been trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.  

Last night I had a little attack of uncertainty and a lack of self-confidence crept into my consciousness.  Why was I even bothering?  I spent an hour yesterday creating chore charts for the children after we had a little meeting at lunch time about our routine and what chores they'd like to be in charge of specifically.  I asked for their input (mistake?) on whether they liked having specific chores assigned to them or just doing whatever needs to be done at chore time.  Remembering that they all were like little chickens running around with their heads cut off, a few disappearing around chore time altogether, we voted on having specific chores assigned.  The older ones already had a few that were their responsibility anyway so it was easy to delegate the remaining chores to the kids according to their abilities.   However, we've been here before.  I've done this already.  And we couldn't seem to just stick with it.  I'm guilty of thinking too far ahead and I know this.  I think ahead to a time when perhaps we will have shirked our routine once more and things have gone back to the flopping and gasping and the utterly chaotic disunion that ensues when we've lost our routine.  So I convinced myself there was no point.  I spent an hour making these charts and being OCD about how they looked for NO REASON.  I convinced myself that I was once again trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.

Bless my husband for trying to be comforting as he wrapped his arms around me and thanked me for being so diligent in trying to get better organized for our family.  I seem to always have the tools and the ideas and the motivation for organized life, but when it comes right down to it, the follow-through is short-lived.  Yet as I was thinking these things, downing myself (which seems to be looming greater in my life since "the incident,") hubby lovingly reminded me how well things worked before, how good the kids are at following a routine, that he was grateful for my desire to make these changes again.  In essence, he encouraged me to press on.  To make my charts and lists, to fill in my planner and write down our goals for next school year, and to just take one day at a time, not worrying about what might happen.  Of course, he probably doesn't even know he did this because he really didn't even say much to me.  But those comforting arms I've grown to fit in just so, and his strength and scent, and the love emanating from his kind eyes, it all just convinced me of these things.  And I loved him all the more for it.

As I watched my children when they were babes, chubby fingers attempting to manipulate the different shapes into the holes of that brightly colored plastic hexagon, I remember how it always seemed to be the thing to try to get that square in the round hole.  Other shapes were fairly easy, but that one seemed to elude their growing minds and their dexterity as they would time and time again try to force that peg.  I always thought to myself "if that square was much smaller, maybe it would fit."

So it dawned on me last night-  Between cutting way back on so many things in our home like clutter, bad food habits, electronics/tv time, activities, and even self-absorption....and adding in a routine that isn't overwhelming, we will have essentially grown smaller.  Despite our growing family size, our life will be minimized so much that perhaps...yes, perhaps we will be able to make that square peg fit in the round hole after all. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

I Was Like....Baby, Baby, Baby...Oh!

15 weeks

It appears that it's just about that time again!  Yes, yes, that means I'm about to have another baby!  This will be baby #8 for us, folks, with 2 of them being in heaven- little saints watching over us, and hopefully praying for me.  I want so badly to meet them. I hope I get there.

I'm actually about 6 1/2 months along.  The news of us expecting again was kept a secret for quite some time.  I myself have had such a difficult time, and just didn't feel like sharing.  I'm still recovering from the mental dive I took after dealing with a horrendous relationship with a narcissist which stole much of my time, energy, and trust.  I've been spending the last year +, building myself back up from that, so finding out I was pregnant, which would ultimately detour my recovery a little bit, was kind of a shock.

But as I frequently say, new life is ALWAYS a blessing and as I face all of the difficulties I've had with this pregnancy (which, by the way are actually not that big of a deal compared to others), I'm striving really hard to view another baby as the blessing it truly is.

If you know me, you know that a big family wasn't really on my radar.  I come from a big one, yes, but I never thought I'd have one of my own.  The few times we've taken matters into our own hands and planned to not have another one (at least for a little while), the Lord worked in our hearts and convicted us otherwise.  One of the babies I lost.  Another one I had about 20 months ago, and then there is this one, little baby G whom God must have really felt was to be a very important aspect of our life.  So, this is just one of those instances where you plan, God laughs, and then He shows you HIS plan.  It might be scary.  It might be difficult.  But when your heart thirsts for the Lord, and you want SO badly to please Him and follow His will for your life, what else is there to do but say YES?  I can't wait to meet this next YES!

Please pray for me, my friends.  I always, always need it so desperately!!



6 months



















Saturday, February 8, 2014

Since I've Been Gone..

In the months since I've stepped away from my blog, a lot has happened.  There are many changes on the horizon of my life, some of which I cannot talk about quite yet.  But there have also been many changes I've already undergone.

Stepping away from this blog was probably the best thing I could've done for myself.  It was a pivotal decision, listening to that whispering from the Lord to take a break, not because it was stressful or because it took too much of my time, but because it took a part of me that He wanted.  In the last few months, He has shown me many things about myself.  Things I didn't like.  Things I wanted to not be true.  Things I did like.  Things He wanted to change, whether I liked them or not.

At the same time I was being shown these things and taking a break from my blog, I was being shown some things about the blog itself that also needed to change.  Though I have always tried to maintain my blog as a place for others to gain information and insight, to find empathy and hopefully a morsel of encouragement, there have been times when I haven't really lived up to my own ideals for this blog.  And probably not God's much either.  The thing is, sometimes, I just don't know how to filter.  Sometimes, I don't know what's appropriate. Sometimes, I don't know how to follow my instincts.

So, in this time, I've been in a process.  And really, it's been a process throughout the past few years, but especially the last few months.  There have been many things that have transpired over the last year that have caused me to really think about life and who I am and what God is asking of me in this time.  The last few months of focusing more on all of that specifically has caused me to go through a pruning process.  I have learned to let go of a lot and though much of this pruning has been quite painful, it has also been fruitful.

I would like to address the nature of my blog.  Though I will continue to post about my life, particularly mothering my children, I've had a revelation about the word "mothering."  As God has called me to be the actual life-giving mother of the five I have, the one in my womb, plus however many more He blesses me with, I have also been shepherded into a new position of "mothering."  It's actually not something I sought out, and I am still very fearful of it.  But tiny little buds have been blooming over the time since I have been being pruned, and they seem to be growing in this direction.  It seems I have been asked to "mother" - or nurture - other people, more of God's children,  particularly women, girls, my age or younger, who need a bit of direction or some encouragement in their life.

So, Mothering God's Children will be about that as well.  About helping others to find their purpose, their path.  Helping them discover their soul's worth and value as God the Father has created it to be.  I once was told I can't "save" people.  Boy do I know that!  I would never even presume to think such a thing about myself.  That's not my job.  My job is to do what God asks me to do, whether I want to or not.  Right now, in the moments I am able to dedicate to it, He wants me to start down this road of helping others.  I honestly don't think it's going to be one of those well-known, big to-do ventures like other women are capable of handling.  I'm a behind-the-scenes type of girl.  Always have been.  I don't like the spot light, I shy from compliments.  I just want to do what the Lord asks me to do and I can only pray I do it well enough for Him.  Even if He sends just one or two people to me, I'm blessed and humbled to be given the opportunity to serve them, and Him, in this capacity.

Please pray for me on my journey, and if you have prayer requests, please shoot me an email with them.  I'd love to pray for you. Thanks!