Momming Hard: Celebrating the Single Mama

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

My hubby is out of town this week. He flew to Arizona to be with his folks while his dad had heart surgery (all went well, Praise the Lord) so I'm single-momming-it for the week.

This is not a big deal. I mean - it was planned, it's temporary, and I know that my husband is coming back on Friday so the chances that I actually drown in the sea of laundry that's accumulating is slim.

But, whoa man. There are mamas out there right now, doin this single-bit every day, and I am on my knees bewildered at their survival. I know some single moms that are truly ROCKING it, churning out edible lunches, kids with matching socks, and children who actually say please and thank you without prompting.

Single moms, my hat's off to you. As Mother's Day is right around the corner, I want you to know that you are seen and loved and seriously amazing the crap out of me right now.

Maybe you are widowed or divorced or separated. Maybe you're not technically "single", but you might be single-handedly ruling the roost for now. Maybe you are married but your husband is overseas or often called away on work. Whatever. You are truly momming hard.

I'm sorry that the world has shoved you under such a semi-deprecating stereotype as "single mom". As if it's any of the world's business how or why you have the jersey but no teammate in the crazy game of parenthood. I'm here to verbally hug you and say I really don't care how or why you are single, but I think we should come up with a new term altogether that embraces your amazingness at thriving partner-free. How about Super Star Mom? Momtastic Gal? Hmm. "Grand" Mother is already taken, so we'll have to keep brainstorming I guess.

Nevertheless, if you are momming hard on your own and your children are alive and well - BRAVO. I don't know how you do it.

Some of you may have not chosen this exact path for yourself. You may have had hearts broken or dreams shattered at one point in your life. There have been looks of judgement and glares of disappointment. No doubt someone has been unkind in their effort to "fix you" or been condescending in their unsolicited advice. I'm sure I've done my part in overlooking your needs or extraordinary selflessness, and for that I sincerely apologize.

I don't think you are living a "Second Best" life. There may have been bad people or bad choices or bad examples in the past that have led you to where your feet are planted today, but that doesn't mean you can't grow and flourish into something beyond your wildest dreams. God can use you exactly where you are, and He's already blessed you with children who stretch your patience and love boundlessly, giving you opportunities daily to see God's goodness. If that's not life's BEST, I don't know what is.

You are brave and beautiful. You have probably faced impossible choices and maybe no one was there to hug you or high five you when you put your children's needs above your own. You can be a living example of a loving sacrifice, and that is everything in parenthood, and God honors that. You are cared for by a God who knows your every need. You are more than enough for your children, and God has given them a whole, made-in-His-image, perfectly-chosen-for-this-position mother in YOU.

This Mother's Day, stand proud. Be that Mawesome... Shazam-a-mama....Ma-mazing, (nope, still striking out on this renaming thing) but BE THAT and know this mama is sitting back and praying for you to feel all the love and comfort and hope that you need. I hope your kiddos drench you in blessings and that the Holy Spirit fills you to the brim with peace in the assurance that you are His forever and ever.

Happy Mother's Day


National Infertility Awareness Week: How to #StartAsking and Support Family Building

Tuesday, April 26, 2016


I don't know what it's like to receive a diagnosis of infertility. When it took me nearly a year to conceive our first child, my fertility appointment got changed to my first prenatal visit as I found out I was pregnant after months of trying. I don't know how devastating that diagnosis can feel, so I'm not going to act like I can understand what a couple is going through as they learn that news.

Many of you are like me, in the 90% of couples who are able to conceive within a year of trying. But, apart from actually having the babies in our arms, we are exactly like the other 10% of mothers and fathers waiting to hold their precious bundles of joy. We have felt the desire to want an expression of our devotion to raise as our own. We have known the gut-wrenching love inside of us waiting to erupt into the next generation. We understand the soulful yearning that echoes beyond our own purpose into something bigger than ourselves. In this, we are united. We are parents...with babies or without.

This week is National Infertility Awareness Week, and it's a silent epidemic on relationships that many are too confused or uncomfortable to address. But, as long as we're all here on this crazy planet together, I think we need to do our best to raise awareness and support for those couples who are holding up love and patience in the wings. If it takes a village to raise a child, then the village helps now and not just after the pregnancy test turns pink.

You probably know someone who has had trouble conceiving or sustaining a pregnancy. Most of us know stories of miraculous conceptions, incredible adoptions, or IVF success. When we know a couple is trying, it can be awkward and difficult to know what to say or how to help. But, many times, we don't know the intimate details of a couple's struggle. Often, as the topic is sensitive and unique for each couple, we simply don't know who may be walking through this tender and challenging season.

RESOLVE.ORG is the website for the National Infertility Association and they've started a campaign to help #StartAsking how to support couples dealing with infertility. There is a myriad of resources and information on the website for couples, family, and friends who want to help with this issue.

Not sure where to start? 

Here's a great List of 25 Things To Say (And Not To Say) To Someone Living With Infertility

You can also learn about Fertility Facts here or Reproductive Facts so that you can educate yourself and build the support you or your friends need through this journey.

While I may not personally know the journey of infertility, it's a topic I study a lot in my research for helping couples and families. I fill in the gaps of my experience with facts and testimonies that help me gain understanding. And I try to empathize as much as possible, using other experiences I've had that remind me what it's like to have dreams crushed or hopes unraveled.

The feeling of disappointment is universal, so you have something to offer to this community even if infertility hasn't been part of your personal narrative. 

Building awesome families is close to my heart, and my own little brood was loved long before I held them in my arms. If you're reading this, you probably relate!

Pray for those couples still waiting in the wings, be sensitive and compassionate, and do what you can to learn more. You never know who God will place in your path that might become part of the incredible village that is raising our next generation.

For those waiting to hold babies... I love you. I might not know who you are, but your patience and strength are incomprehensible. I hope with you. I pray with you. I believe that God has placed a calling on you in this time and season for a purpose greater than anything we can know or feel right now. And I have faith in the Heavenly Father that the beyond-yourself-love that you possess will not go unused. I lay your desires at His feet and I wait with you.

Psalm 130:5 NIV
I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.

UPDATE: Below is a helpful info-graphic made by the team at OvulationCalculator.com who offered it to me to share with you! Check out their website for more helpful tips about #NAIW and how to #StartAsking.






Cry It Out: What My Sleepless Baby Taught Me About Prayer

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Last night, we let baby Vivian "cry it out" a couple times in the night. Before you applaud or criticize, let me tell you that my philosophy for sleep training primarily centers around the idea that everyone in the house should simply take "the shortest route to rest". 

Sometimes this means nursing her for five minutes to get her back to sleep. Sometimes this means jumping up at her first cry to silence her before my other two daughters wake up. Sometimes this means turning up the whitenoise in everyone's room so we can hunker down into hibernation mode. If you've ever raised a zombie-baby (and this is my third) then, you can understand!

Vivi has been waking up every two hours on the dot for the last several weeks. At times this has fluctuated (as often as every hour, but only as long as 4 hours max) so yes, all that to say, I am quite exhausted. She's almost 8 months old, so the time of her "needing" food in the night has passed, but that doesn't stop her from needing me! I don't mind spoiling a baby, but when it comes to seeing her yawn and rub her eyes throughout the day because her own rest has been compromised, something's gotta give.

Besides, when I say "cry it out" what I really mean is "yell it out". This baby isn't sad, she is just AWAKE! She will shout from her crib and blab nonstop until she either crashes back to sleep or someone comes and sees what all the squawking is about. So, through all the "MAMAs" and the "DADADADAs" last night, I found myself praying and praying that she would find peace and comfort in our absence.

Honestly, I wanted to yell through the door back at her, "YOU'RE OKAY! YOU HAVE EVERYTHING YOU NEED! WHAT YOU REALLY NEED IS SLEEEEEEP!" But, of course that wouldn't have done any good. She was fully convinced she needed me, whether for entertainment, comfort, or milk, she wanted to be snuggled up in my arms. While my mama heart was aching to give her all she desired, I knew that her needs were best met in what she could not see. The girl needed sleep, and if I had gone in to help her, I would have only stimulated her more which would have set us all back.

It was around 3am when it occurred to me how often I do this to God in my own prayer life. I shout my demands, telling God what I think I need help with, ordering my blessings like I'm reading a fast-food menu! Too often I am distracted by what I see (or want to see) that I totally forget the fact that God is working behind the scenes on behalf of my own good, to provide what I truly need. I'm bratty and short-sighted, while God is thumping me over the head with His Word and shouting "YOU'RE OKAY! YOU HAVE EVERYTHING YOU NEED RIGHT HERE! TRUST ME!"

Well, God is much more merciful than that, thank goodness! He covers me in grace and I'm once again reminded at how many gaps there are in my prayers. I'm so grateful He fills in the blanks for us and has already set in place the provision for what will bring Him the most glory. I'm reminded how Oh yeah, duh my prayers are actually not a checklist for things I want, but rather a sacred communication and form of worship that connects me directly to my Creator.

Sometimes I cry it out. Sometimes I yell it out. Sometimes it feels like God is silent and nothing is happening and I'm stuck. And somehow my needs are met, all the same. God has already provided what I need, regardless of what I think I need. I just need to trust in Him. Wow, thank you Lord!

Now, when I hear that yelling baby in the night, I will try to focus on the presence of peace that will follow. I listen closely for the hush that follows the cries, for the calm that settles in after the confusion has faded. When that happy, well-rested baby wakes up in the morning, I am grateful that the temporary cries brought about much longer-lasting peace.

Psalm 66:19-20
But God has surely listened and has heard my prayer. Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me! 
Philippians 4:19
And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

Momtropolis: Who's In Charge Around Here?

Friday, April 1, 2016

 
Ever feel like you're running a small city of crazies? Wondering how you became Mayor of Loudville with skyscrapers of laundry and towers of dishes as your empire?

Welcome to Momtropolis.

Sometimes there are days when I get up on time, wash my face, make my bed, have the lunches already made, get the laundry folded AND put away, sneak in a phone call over nap time, and prepare an edible meal for my family before the sun sets. These days are RARE.

Usually, I'm fighting chaos. It's a valiant effort, but I almost always feel ill-equipped, underprepared, and utterly exhausted. I find myself overwhelmed by tasks and to-dos, beating down demons of insecurity and envy, and doing my best to combat mommy guilt or the disappointment of not getting enough done.

Sigh. Running Momtropolis is hard work, right? It's easy to ask "HOW did I end up here? WHY are these yahoos ordering me around? WHO is in charge around here?"

Kids are irrational little beings, demanding attention and needing constant supervision while incessantly asking questions as they explore new territories of the world around them. In short - they are crazy people. Even when the day runs smoothly, these tyrants are fighting for authority.


It's easy for me to look at my kids and think I couldn't possibly be the best person to be in charge around here. Surely there is someone better suited for the job, some other mother who they'd rather have bossing them around and teaching them with far more patience and love than I have to give.

Then I remember - Momtropolis is not a Democracy. My kids didn't vote me into office. They didn't have a say in what kind of mom they got. They got me. And I was placed here by the King Himself.

Momtropolis is a Monarchy. As a daughter of the King, I'm poised for the distinct honor of carrying out His purpose for our little domain. I inherited these blessings, to oversee with His guidance and protection. I'm going to make mistakes, I'm going to totally blow it at times; but, my loving Ruler is consistently there for me to lean on and turn to and gain reassurance that He entrusts these things to me because I totally entrust them to Him.

I can't do this job without Jesus. Bottom line. I'm so grateful that I'm not the be-all-end-all final word when it comes to raising these adorable lunatics. I'm so glad my salvation doesn't depend on my ability to fold laundry. I'm incredibly humbled that my relationship with God isn't contingent on how well my kids turn out. It's these truths that offer me peace in the midst of Momtropolis. And, when I look around and feel lost in the middle of my own town, I turn to the King for direction.

Be encouraged, mamas, you Mayors of Toddlertowns and Babyvilles. You don't feel in charge because you don't need to be! You have a sovereign King who appointed you to your privileged position with the title of MOM, and He is there to provide you the support, guidance, and hope you need to make it to tomorrow.

Let this passage from Ephesians encourage you today:
I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit - not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength - that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you'll be able to take in with all the followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ's love...God can do anything you know - far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us. - Ephesians 3: 15-18, 20
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