Finding the Sun in the Winter

Today I walked outside to get the mail and was pleasantly surprised at how great it felt outside. It has been pretty cold the last few days, so feeling the sun hit my face felt like a warm hug to my soul. I stood on the front porch and closed my eyes, soaking in the sun rays. Man, that felt good. Have you ever got a quick glimpse into the springtime in the middle of winter, that it gives you just a serge of energy? You think, just hold on a little longer and then it will be flowers and sunshine and warm rains again.

I soaked in the warmth for a little bit longer and just happened to look down. Next to my front porch I have tons of clover growing (which is one of my favorite things). When I looked down, it looked as though all of my clover were cupped, facing the sun. They were all turned the same way, soaking it all in just like I was a few moments before. And just like that, I heard the Lord say to me, “In the middle of the winter seasons, turn toward the light.”

Lately, I have felt like I have been going through a spiritual winter season along with the physical winter. Things have seemed drab, cold, and tough. It seems like wherever I turn there is something else going wrong, a sickness around the corner, financial struggles, personal struggles, the list goes on and on. It is so tough to keep the faith during these kinds of seasons, when it feels like the fight never stops. But what else is there to do but fight?

We can go through these struggles sometimes, taking each hit from the enemy, and forget that we can do something about it. Like the clover, who have been going through the winter season, in the midst of the cold, drought of winter, they turned toward the light. We can do that too. We can stop in our struggle and simply turn; turn towards the Light of the World. Turn towards His Word and promises. So often we think we are victims of our circumstances around us. We think we have to keep every anxious or depressive thought, we think we have to continue to be abused by the toxic people in our lives, we think we are doomed to the lives people have spoken over us.

One thing I am very stubborn about is letting people know they are not stuck. Even in the middle of the winter, you can find some Son (I know, it’s cheesy but it’s true). So often we wait for Spring to come in order to get some fresh air and light in our lives, when in reality you can find what you need in the middle of your bleak season.

John 1:5 states, “The Light shines on in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”

In John 8:12, Jesus says, “I am the Light of the world. He who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”

Psalm 27:1 says, “The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the refuge and fortress of my life, whom shall I dread?”

Ephesians 5:14 states, “For this reason He says, ‘Awake, sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine [as dawn] upon you and give you light.”

I give you these scriptures (and there are many more) because although darkness does exist, so does the light exist even more so. So you may be in some dark season; you may feel like nothing is growing, no light is shining, and no hope of change is near. But I come to remind you to be like the clover and turn towards the Light. Turn towards the Son. Turn towards Him Who is able to do more abundantly than you can ask or think according to His power that is at work within us (Ephesians 3:20).

I want to remind you that you are not a slave to your circumstances as long as you are a Child of God. You belong to the Creator of all things who can make something out of nothing. Don’t lose hope. Don’t hang your head down. Turn your eyes to the Lord and trust Him and watch Him work on your behalf. Align your thinking and speaking with His Word, even if what you see around you doesn’t just yet.

I don’t know, I just felt it heavy on my heart for anyone who may be going through what I am going through to let you know that hope still remains. Light still remains. Growth still remains. What’s been planted will bloom soon, what’s been freed will fly, and those things that have held you down will break. Just turn to Him and soak in His light and love. Be like the clover!

Happy homemaking.

What it Means to have a Miscarriage

This post may be hard for many to read, but I realized that not many people talk about this subject. Not nearly enough women share their stories with others, their struggles, grief, tears. For such a heavy weight, we seem to feel like we always have to carry it alone. Is it shame? Guilt? Fear?

I’m not sure why we don’t discuss miscarriage. But I feel it heavily on my heart to talk about. I promised to talk about the real, the bad, and the ugly. Here is the real.

I remember when I found out I was pregnant. I was in the Walmart bathroom because I couldn’t wait to find out. That line showed up and my heart leapt for joy! I headed straight to Babies’r’us with the little bit of break I had left to buy a onesie and gift for my husband to surprise him with! Father’s day was approaching in a month and I decided what better thing to do then buy a “#1 dad” shirt.

When I told him, we shared a hug in joy and immediately had to go and tell our families. We couldn’t wait to share the news! We hadn’t been planning a baby, but we sure were so joyous to know such a blessing was coming. The next month passed uneventfully. My morning sickness dissipated pretty quickly; I thought I was just lucky.

That Father’s day weekend is when it happened. I remember we were discussing buying a home because we wanted to have extra room for the baby. We went to Home Depot and my back was hurting so bad. Having past sciatica pain, I didn’t think much of it. The next morning I went to get groceries by myself so I could spend the rest of the day with my husband. When I got home, I spotted for the first time. It was only light pink. I immediately texted my sister and mom to make sure it was okay. “Well, as long as it isn’t red and clotting, you should be fine.”

My heart was in my stomach, I knew something wasn’t right but I had hope. I prayed and texted my husband who immediately came home to be with me. We went on with our day, both carrying a heavy worry with us. That day the spotting continued. We went to see fireworks that night and I remember so badly wanting to enjoy the moment, but my heart was hovering over that little baby in my womb, trying to protect it while I could.

The next morning on Father’s day, I woke up to more spotting. And cramping. Each time I went to the bathroom I dreaded having to wipe. Fear gripped my heart but I had to have hope. I had to.

We went to dinner with my father and I had to run to the bathroom. My sister (a nurse) came with me, and saw the clotting when I wiped. I still remember her look, because although the words I heard were reassuring, the reality had set in for both of us. We left early and my body went into labor as I sat on my couch. I began to shake because I had never felt such pain in my entire life.

We hurried to the hospital and I felt like I was walking on air as I made my way into the waiting room. I had to tell the woman at the front desk why I was there, “I think I’m having a miscarriage”. I felt like someone else was speaking, but the words came out. As I stood up from the desk chair in the middle of the lobby I felt the gush of blood come out. It was running down my legs and getting all over the lobby. I began to shake.

They immediately got me back and every where I walked, blood followed. They wanted me to pee in a cup. It was only blood. I told the nurse I couldn’t do it. I wanted to throw up. There was so much blood in that bathroom, I even felt guilty and was apologizing to the nurse for the mess. Tears consumed me. I dare not look in the toilet but I did and I saw my baby. That still haunts me to this day.

When I went in my room my husband’s eyes met mine and he could only utter, “Oh God.” There was so much blood he didn’t know what to say or do.

What was really ironic was I was begging for pain to come back. Because after the gush, the pain stopped. And I knew what that meant but I didn’t want my mind to go there.

An interesting point about me and my husband is that we were both twins in the womb and both of our mothers lost our twins.

I remember sitting on that hospital bed, about to have my first ultrasound, hoping, begging, praying that there would be a baby. That maybe I lost a twin too. God please let there be a baby. In walks my ultrasound tech who just happened to be 8 months pregnant (that one hurt). She wheeled me into the room and it took me a while to get the guts to look at the screen. Empty.

Empty was a good word for how I felt in that moment. My first doctors appointment was supposed to be in two days. Instead it was going to be him having to make sure I was that word again: empty.

I can’t begin to tell you the grief that comes with a miscarriage. You only understand if you have been through it. There were no words, no scriptures, no prayers that helped. Every dream we had dreamed up, the names we had called out, the prayers we had prayed for that baby, all gone. I sat in my bathroom floor and weeped for weeks. Because what people don’t talk about is that you continue to bleed for weeks. You have to go to your doctor and “make sure” that you have completely passed your pregnancy.

How horrible it was to go to my first visit and see an empty womb. What was supposed to be a joyous day was a day of pure torture. I remember looking at my husband and asking, “why” as we stared at the screen. My doctor told me the usual. It is very common for first pregnancies to end in miscarriage. There’s nothing I could have done to stop it. It wasn’t my fault.

I wish that those words would have helped but I went home and felt, well, still empty. I had bought the baby some classic Winnie the pooh dolls because that was what the nursery was going to be. For the longest time I couldn’t pass the nursery without wanting to throw up. Those dolls just laid there in the bassinet my sister had let me borrow. Mocking me.

We got pregnant right away (unplanned). And John was born a month after our first baby was to be born. And I felt guilty for feeling happy, because without losing my baby, I wouldn’t have the baby I’m holding. It is such a weird moment of joy and grief mixed together. It is so hard to describe.

To have a miscarriage is not just to lose a baby. It’s to lose a whole life that you dream about when you see that line show up for the first time. It’s to grieve all of the kicks and somersaults in your belly. The cuddles, kisses, and hugs. A part of you and your spouse, gone.

It wasn’t just a pregnancy, it was my baby. I still grieve over my baby. That week I prayed begrudgingly to God, to at least let me know whether my baby was a girl or boy. That night I had a dream that I was holding a small baby in my hand that was sickly and grey. She was beautiful and looked like my husband. And in the dream tears ran down my face, as I said, “Her name is Grace.”

I woke up bawling my eyes out because although I was mad at God, He was good enough to let me see my baby girl, Grace. When I had John in the hospital, I thought of Grace. When he smiled at me for the first time, I thought of Grace. When I see baby girls, I think of my Grace.

When you have a miscarriage, there are many things to do and to not do. But I will leave you with the things I learned.

1. Let yourself grieve. Do not try and cut off what you feel too early. You lost a child, it’s okay to not be okay.

2. Let yourself feel ALL of the emotions. The anger, fear, sadness. I was so mad at God. I didn’t understand. “You let a drug addict have perfectly healthy babies and you take mine?!?” I yelled at Him. I was so angry and hurt. But in the midst of that pain I also knew He was the only place I could turn to. And I truly feel like He held me, like a Father holding a child who doesn’t understand pain quite yet.

3. Let yourself remember. When time passes and the grief gets a little less heavy, let yourself remember that baby. I think about Grace, and I let myself cry (as I am right now). I let myself think of her, in heaven, growing and maybe watching her parents attempt to raise her brother and thanking God she got a free pass (I say this with a smile).

If someone you know has gone through a miscarriage, please do not throw scripture at them. Please do not throw the trivial, “Everything happens for a reason”, “You will have more kids, don’t worry,” or the “It’s all in God’s timing.” Do not go there. You will only tear a deeper gash in an already deep wound. Just learn to be there in the midst of grief with another. Bring dinner, a hug, a comfy blanket. Don’t bring “wisdom” you know nothing about.

The most healing moment for me was when my mother in law came over. She sat next to me and with tears she simply said, “I know.” And she hugged me and I weeped.

The grief doesn’t ever go away but you get stronger to carry it. My mother still cries over her miscarriages 26 years later. Because they aren’t just “lost pregnancies”, they are lost children and it’s okay to say that. There feels like a stigma that because it was “too early” or you “never saw a heart beat” or “never held them” that it somehow discounts that you were once carrying life and now it’s gone.

So you grieve that baby, you remember that life, and you celebrate it. Because although that baby was here for just a little time, it’s life deserves to be celebrated and cherished.

If you are going through a miscarriage or have recently gone through one, just know that I love you and I know. Time passes, wounds heal, and you get stronger.

“Weeping may tarry for the night,
    but joy comes with the morning.” Psalm 30:5

The Power of a Lie: Breaking Free from Perfection

Perfectionism is not a fruit of the Spirit, but joy is.

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I don’t know if I’m the only one, but if I accidently mess up a clean piece of paper, I have to tear it up and start again. I hate that I can’t just move on with a mistake and not think about the imperfection, but sometimes my brain won’t let me. It screams out the mistake over and over until I give in and start again.

I’m the same way in my day to day; if something about myself or others isn’t just right, it screams at me and I can’t find peace. Sometimes this pressure for everything to be perfect in myself spreads out to those I love, and I try to fit them in the same “perfect” box and get disappointed and frustrated when they don’t fit.

I find myself getting irritable, aggravated and sometimes naggy when I believe this lie of Perfectionism. I told God recently that I don’t want to live this way anymore. I’m so tired of walking daily in this lie of Perfection. It’s a heavy weight to carry.

Yesterday I was feeding the baby and he was getting his oatmeal everywhere! Every bite he would take, he would rub his mouth and then the rest of his face, and then the high chair. I was trying to chase after every spot of oatmeal with a wipe and getting frustrated at him. At yelled, “Gosh John can’t you just eat clean???”

And I stopped myself (or God stopped me) and thought, “He is eating like a baby eats; dirty, messy, imperfect.” And I started to cry because I realized if I don’t change myself then I can pass on this attitude to him. And I don’t want him living in the lie that everything has to be perfect all the time! So I gave him another spoonful of oatmeal and I let him spread it all around . And then I even made myself wait to clean it up for a while after he was done.

I let that basket of laundry sit in the corner of the room for a little bit while I played with John and watched his face light up at new discoveries.

I let the dishes sit in the sink after dinner so I could cuddle with my husband before bed on the couch instead of feeling pressure to get it done immediately.

You may be different, but the way I combat this lie on my mind is to fight against it. I don’t have to have it done ALL the time. And that’s okay.

I lived under this pressure that if everything wasn’t picked up, cleaned up, in its right spot, then I was failing as a wife and mother. But in reality by focusing on a false perfection I was ignoring life in the moment to finish tasks that could wait.

Laughing with my son, slow kisses with my husband, rest for my mind and body, were all passing me by as I rushed from task to task. So I have learned to stop and enjoy. Those things will be waiting, but my family is growing and living and moving so quickly.

If you live in the lie of perfectionism, you can be free of it. It takes renewing your mind and knowing your worth is in God and not in your works. It takes self control to say no to your brain when it is yelling out your daily tasks instead of enjoying the moment with your family. It takes you dropping pride and realizing you will never reach perfection. Ever.

And I’ve realized that messy life is beautiful; because it means life is being lived. When a home is too busy trying to be perfect, often it stops being what we want it to be, home.

So what if my living room has toys in it and no longer looks like a magazine cover; that’s where my family laughs, eats, grows, and lives.

So what if my bed isn’t always made or there’s bath toys strewn all over the bath tub. That means we got sleep and a little boy had a blast.

So what if there’s a sink full of dishes. That means my family was blessed with some food!

So what if my belly is a little soft from having a baby and I didn’t lose my pregnancy weight as soon as the baby came out. My husband loves me and my body and that’s all that matters.

I’m not living with pressures to be perfect anymore. Its not worth the stress, weight, or exhaustion.

Enjoy your families. Enjoy your homes. Enjoy yourself, flaws and all.

Let your family breathe, play, laugh, and make sure you are letting yourself be free too.

And when it comes down to it, perfection is not a fruit of the Spirit. It’s usually a fruit of our flesh ruling, pushing us towards a self outside of relying on the Lord. An attitude of, “I can do it all.” And we can’t do it all. You can’t do it all.

I hope this helps you break free from the lie of perfectionism and just relax! Go have fun and as always, happy homemaking.

He Owes You Nothing

I had to repent this week for something I never thought I would have to. “Forgive me God, for thinking and acting like you owe me something.”

You see up to this point, I had been walking around with an attitude towards God. Because He hadn’t healed me yet , I was angry. Because I had been hurt by His “church”, I wasn’t going to serve again. Because He “let” me have a miscarriage, I could be mad and bitter. Because I have been through suffering, You owe me something.

I had been walking unknowingly with these attitudes that led me to walking around with no joy, no peace, constant frustration and tension. I was rocking John to sleep one night and was hit with an overwhelming feeling of homesickness for the Lord.

And all of these angers and attitudes towards Him came forward and I started bawling. All I could muster in the midst of tears was, “I’m sorry.”

I realized I was holding things against God; things I thought He owed me. He owes me healing because I believe in healing. He owes me blessing because I believe in His promises. He owes me this because I was hurt by that. The list goes on and on.

And I realized in that moment one important thing. GOD DOES NOT OWE YOU OR ME ANYTHING. He didn’t even owe me salvation!

Yet He did it, because He loves me. He didn’t have to give me life, but He did. He didn’t HAVE to deliver me from anxiety, but He did. He didn’t have to bless me with my husband and baby John, but He did. Because He’s a good Father Who likes to give good gifts to His children. (Matthew 7:11)

Walking around with an attitude like He owes me something led me to hurt and bitterness. It halted His hand from working in my life; it stopped me from growing deeper in Him. Did He stop loving me? No. He was there always pointing me forward with love and longsuffering.

I say all of this to remind all of us, that if the only thing God ever does for you is save you from your sin, IT’S ENOUGH. He does not owe you anything else. It’s time we change our attitudes, humble ourselves, and live and walk in an attitude of thankfulness. God does way more good for you than you deserve.

So chin up, knees down, and repent for wrong attitudes and motives. Thank God for His blessings. Thank God for loving you and being merciful and gracious even when we have bad attitudes. And bask in His love and mercy and grace.

I leave you with this.

“Not that I speak from [any personal] need, for I have learned to be content [and self-sufficient through Christ, satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or uneasy] regardless of my circumstances. I know how to get along and live humbly [in difficult times], and I also know how to enjoy abundance and live in prosperity. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret [of facing life], whether well-fed or going hungry, whether having an abundance or being in need. I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfill His purpose—I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace.]”
Philippians 4:11-13

Happy Homemaking!