Fearfully Made: How Do I Live With Fear?

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Motherhood comes with many things.  Love, awe, gratitude, patience, and selflessness.  These are the wonderful things I've grown in (sometimes begrudgingly) since I first set eyes on my own offspring.

But, something else that comes with motherhood is worry...and lots of it.  As my children grow, so do my fears.

It starts off small, checking on them while they are napping to make sure they're breathing; knowing where my phone and the nearest ice pack is at all times as they learn to climb; praying for them at school as they start to develop beyond my grasp.  And on and on.  Many of these things seem within my control, many of these worries are calmed by the illusion that I have the power to prevent them if I plan enough, work hard, and pay enough attention to detail.

Then I get on Facebook, or Instagram, or watch the news at all.  Turns out just about anything can kill us at any time.  I've seen reports about the dangers of flip flops for heaven's sake!  Articles about how babies get injured from this or that seem to inundate my newsfeed at all times.  Child abductions and horrible diseases become part of my regular checklist in praying for protection for my family.

And I am afraid.

Are these fears reality?  Am I crazy to be anxious about every little thing?  Is it okay to NOT worry about something, or does that make me an uncaring mother???

We can work ourselves up to the point of worrying about worrying and suddenly all the mothers I know are flooded with more anxiety than a chihuahua on Redbull!  WHAT GIVES?!

I can't take it anymore.  I am tired of being afraid.  I am over letting my joy be stolen by worry for things I do not have control over.  I am done with feeling the burden of fear when it is not mine to carry.

Psalm 139:14 (NIV) 
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

The word "fearfully" here does NOT mean that I live in fear of the world around me.  The word actually reflects fear in the sense of respect and reverence (i.e. "fear of the Lord") and a healthy acknowledgement of HIS sovereignty.  We were made to hand over our fears to God - in full acceptance that His works are wonderful and we revere His divine wisdom to act in His perfect will.  

1 John 4:18 reminds us that "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear..."so I can rest in God's perfect love for me, reflect that in my life through faith and action, and rid myself of the fears in this world.

We can't worry about everything.  We just can't.  (Trust me, I've tried.)  It's exhausting and impossible and futile.  But, we worship a God who has no need for worry.  Not only can He take on all our cares and concerns, but He extinguishes them and can help us steer clear of them in the future.

My big secret to driving out fear?  Focus on His perfect love.  

When I feel the lies creeping up on me (you know the ones:  You're not good enough.  You're ruining your children. You don't deserve this.) I take a deep breath and pray to the God who made me to hand Him my insecurities.  

When I feel the worries crashing down on me (all the what ifs! What if there's a shooter at school?  What if it's not just the chicken pox? What if, what if, what if...) I read the Scripture or sing a worship song and refocus my thoughts to truths that are steadfast regardless of what the day holds.

We live in a fearful world that's ready to amplify our worries if we let it.  But we serve a God who created the universe, and nothing is too major for Him.  

Yes, there are terrible tragedies that many of us will encounter in this life.  It sucks.  I hate it.  I do not belittle pain or grief or turmoil that we each experience.  But, my hope is that we can encourage one another to not let those fears control our minds, hearts, spirits, or actions.  

So, when you see that fear pop up in your newsfeed today - stop it in its tracks!  Text someone an encouraging word.  Hug your kid.  Kiss your husband.  High five a friend.  Take a deep breath and drive out that fear with the perfect love God has for you right now in this time and place.  

And take joy in the thought that you are wonderfully made. 


Heaven Sent: Why I Love Earth Mama Angel Baby

Friday, November 6, 2015

I recently wrote a post all about breastfeeding, where I mentioned how much I love Earth Mama Angel Baby's Natural Nipple Butter.  Since then, I've gotten to try out some more of their products and mamas, let me tell you - this stuff is heaven sent!
It's rare for me to blatantly endorse products, I save my soapbox for only things I truly love.  So, while this is only my opinion, I hope you take my review here as an honest mama's thumbs up for the following products! (I don't sell these or make any money off of this, I promise!)

I'll even send a FREE SAMPLE and $1-Off coupon
to the first 5 people who EMAIL ME,
subject line: HEAVEN SENT!

Natural Nipple Butter: This stuff is awesome - as I've already told you how it is fantastic to prevent cracked, sore nipples when breastfeeding.  But, did you know it could also be used for chapped lips, backup diaper cream, drool rash, or even as breast pump lube?  Woohoo!  I'm all for the multi-purposing of this product, and I love that it is safe for mom and baby.  Be one of the first five people to email me and you'll get a free sample!

Organic Milkmaid Tea:  Fall is here and winter is on the way - warm up your insides with this yummy tea and help your milk production at the same time!  If you are a tea lover, you'll love this.  The fennel seed gives it a slightly licorice-y flavor, which I personally like, and it would probably make a good iced tea as well if that's your preference.  While I don't exclusively use organic products, it's wonderful to know this tea is super safe for my milk production.  This sweet sipper is USDA Certified 100% Organic, Non-GMO Project Verified and Certified Kosher. I like to sip it in the morning and afternoon...and maybe with a cookie or two (shh, don't tell.)
Booby Tubes: Got ouchie tatas? You mamas gotta try these!  At first I was a bit skeptical how something gel-free could be comforting, but once I stuck these puppies in the freezer and used them after a feeding - ahhh, serious relief!  What I love most about them is that they can be used either cold (to reduce swelling or tenderness) OR hot (to promote let-down and milk flow and also prevent clogged ducts)! Again safe for mama and baby, they are natural and made with a 100% organic cotton shell and filled with all-natural flax seed.
A Little Something for Baby: My FAVORITE by far! Mamas, if you don't get this at a baby shower - buy it yourself!  This little kit is perfect to welcome a new little one into the world.  I've used mine on baby Vivian and I'm excited to take it with us over the holidays while we travel (the products are perfect for on-the-go!)  The bath products have a delicious, vanilla-orange scent that will make you want to nibble your baby all the more.  Vivi was calm and relaxed as I bathed her and lotioned her and I was thrilled to see her diaper rash disappear after a few uses of the bottom balm.  I also used the baby oil on a couple spots she developed cradle cap and it made it much easier to remove.  This kit is perfect for a gift too, so I'm thinking Santa might be putting another one in baby Viv's stocking this year!

Let me know if you have any questions about these products!  I don't sell them at all - but I'll give you my honest opinion!  You can find all these and more on the Earth Mama Angel Baby website and almost anywhere that sells baby products. Be sure to email me for a coupon!

Motherhood: It's Okay To Be Good At Other Things

Thursday, October 29, 2015

"I'm not good at this," I thought to myself as I gripped the steering wheel, cringing, and biting my tongue from yelling at my daughter in the back seat.

"I'm good at many things.  But, I am not good at motherhood.  This sucks."

me. tired. and my beauties.
Yes, even I suffer from the dreaded cloud of total insecurity when it comes to parenting.  Me, the gal who has her Masters in "relationships", who's written countless articles on what it means to be a mama, who wears the title "Parenting Expert" granted from SheKnows.com and of course has the blissful Facebook and Instagram photos to prove how seamless life can look from the outside.  Aren't I supposed to know what I'm doing???

Ever feel super crummy like everyone else has it all together and your parenting world is spinning out of control?  Me too.   

The day had started off so well.  I got Matilda off to school on time.  Daphne and I made actual breakfast together (eggs and everything) and sat and read storybooks until my vision blurred.  I suggested we go to the library for some free fun, and that's when the day started to crumble.

The library was closed.  I called around and find out every library in a 15 mile radius was closed. The baby started crying. Daphne was whining and disappointed. I fumbled for change in my purse as I suggested we go ease our strife with a drink from Sonic.  She was thrilled, until we got there, and as soon as I handed her the grape slushie she declared she didn't want it, and her whining turned to grouchiness so fierce that even Oscar would have been ashamed.

By the time I got home, I was covered in grape slushie, spit-up, and a whole lot of frustration.  I put my kid in her room, threw her some pop-tarts, hit the play button on the DVD player and walked out.  We needed a moment apart, and I found myself huddled on the couch taking deep breaths and once again bewildered at the fact that someone so small and sweet can rouse me into such a frenzy that I want to punch a hole in the wall!

Children are demanding, irrational, LOUD, unpredictable little humans whose selective hearing and sporadic obedience is enough to bring any adult to their knees.  They drive me crazy.  They wear me out. And yes, I love them with the depth of love that is greater than my life and stronger than a hundred horses...but, man, it can be rough some days.

Can I get an AMEN?

This week I've talked to at least three other moms who did stupid things just like me, who got down on herself, who felt all alone in the guilt that we should have done better, who question whether they are truly the best person for the job and get to wear this insane title called Mom.

We are all surviving this parenthood thing, shoving our guilt out of the way most of the time to just get the next task done.  It's hard and it can strangle your spirit if you let it.  But, this guilt is full of lies and I'm determined to steer this ship towards honest and calm harbors.

Amidst my anger and frustration, a small voice echoed inside me.  "You know it's okay to be good at other things too, right?"  Hmm.  I hadn't thought much about it.  But, if this was any other job, I'd be able to shake off the terrible moment of the day and move on to a task I was better at.

Reality is, we are going to be terrible at this mom-thing sometimes.  We have ugly moments and frustrating times, just like any other facet of our life.  And sometimes it's okay to cry and be good at something else in that moment.  It's okay.  I promise.  Your kid won't disown you.

I can do many things well.  We all can.  Truly. Those other parts of us are still alive and well even if we don't exercise those muscles every day.  They shape us into the kind of parents we are and sometimes we have to go out of our way to stir them up and make use of them.

Nothing else in life is 24/7 like parenthood is...so, we're just going to be bad at it more often than probably anything else.  That's just the truth (and simple math). Those weak moments?  Those pop-tarts-for-lunch-watch-your-dvd kind of days?  They are going to happen and they happen to everyone.

Motherhood is not what you do.  It's who you are.  So yeah, I'm gonna do some stupid things now and then and I'm gonna do the wrong thing at times, sure...but, who I am?  Who I am is far going to exceed in the race of filling my kids up with the right stuff.

Who I am is greater than just the sum of my parts - the writer, the wife, the cook, the laundry lady, the maid, the gal who loves Jesus and needs Him every day...they all add up to an honest person my kids get to interact with on a daily basis, and with the grace of God I am more than I could ever have been if I tried to do this thing all by myself.  Parenthood is an act of faith, no doubt.

We're gonna make it, mamas.  You are good.  You are good at many things.  You are a good mama, even when you are more normal than you'd like to be. You are not alone.

The Three Words I Never Thought I'd Say

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

I know they say to never say never, but I really never thought I'd be saying these next three words:

I miss school.

I know, I know, I know.  It's ridiculous.  I'm only out of school for a couple months and instead of reveling in the fact that I'm free of homework, don't have to read hundreds of pages, or trying to shuffle my schedule to take part in a group project, I'm kinda sorta sad that I don't have class.

This is what you call transition.

I was just getting used to the fact of being labeled "student" again, and now I'm not. There I was, constantly under the burden of learning and engaging and regurgitating information, formulating ways to apply it in personal and professional settings, looking for approval from peers, supervisors, and the daunting grades that would post on my student profile, and suddenly I'm back to the "real world" with no scale for knowing exactly how I'm doing.  Whew.  

I gotta confess:  I loved it.  

There's no grading system for motherhood or extra credit for laundry.  There's no supervisor patting me on the back for staying up late with a kid who is throwing up or defrosting dinner on time.  It was nice to have an area of my life that was so entirely structured.

I liked knowing what was expected of me (syllabus), I liked engaging in deep conversations over topics I'm passionate about (classmates), I liked receiving praise for hard work I poured into projects that took time and energy (grades), and I liked gaining the encouragement from those who are far more advanced in the field than I am (professors).  Grad school was a wonderful little bubble for me to travel to and live in for a short time, and like most things in life - it passed by all too quickly.

What transitions are you experiencing lately?

Transitions have a way of making us appreciate the past.  Every milestone I meet in life comes with both grief and celebration, leaving me with that pit in my stomach that both longs for an encore of what has been and the anticipation of what is to come.

Just because you want something to happen doesn't mean you're going to like it all the time.

That's the grand illusion of transition.  We expect that if we have been waiting and wanting something to happen that when it does, we should only ever be grateful and thrilled that it did.  

But, too often I forget that honest feelings don't void gratitude.

Maybe you're not just out of grad school and missing the camaraderie of the classroom...but, perhaps you can relate to one of these:

When you get married, you miss being single.
When you break up with someone, you miss being a couple.
When you have a baby, you miss life before children.
When you send your kid to school, you miss them needing you all day.
When you start a new job, you miss the freedom of familiarity.
When you move away from home, you miss your family.

You get it.  Transitions in life aren't easy, even when you welcome them with open arms.  As a new mother with a new degree and a husband with a new job, I know I'm feeling transition in multiple areas of my life right now.  I'm so grateful we have an unchanging God who always knows which direction is up!
James 1:17 (NIV)
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

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