why i write about the good stuff

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**The following is not a plea for pity.  The note I received from a reader was kindly written and received without offense.  I’m sharing a snippet of it here, with permission, because I believe it’s worth addressing.**

Here is what she said:

“While I believe you have a knack for writing, I’m bothered that your stories always have a happy ending.  What about those of us who don’t get to the happy part for any number of reasons?  What you mean for encouragement is somehow discouraging to me since life in my home rarely looks like what it seems to in yours.”

Herein lies the danger of the internet.  We only see what we’re shown.  You only read what I write.

You can’t possibly know how very real my life is.  You couldn’t begin to imagine how different it probably is in my home than it appears in my feed.  You can’t know because I don’t come here to saddle you with my burdens but to encourage you in yours.

Because, yes, real life is filled with failures.  It’s full of falling downs and not wanting to get back ups.  It’s all part of the revised plan and has been since sin was first introduced.

We’re all wading through the same mud.  It’s deep and it’s slippery and it doesn’t even have to be raining for us to suddenly realize we’re knee-deep in a heap of it.

If you took an honest peek in my home you’d find toddlers having meltdowns, girls spouting tears for no conceivable reason, boys with way too much testosterone, teens with mood swings to rival any PMS out there, and a baby who clearly believes it’s child abuse if he’s not being held.  Every single day carries its own struggles and trials and moments where I want to throw in the towel.  Some days even find me melting in my own tears as I lament to my husband how we’re ruining our children.

Graceful mothering at its best, right?  Obviously, no.  But there’s more to the story.  And if we stop reading we’ll never get to the good stuff.

Sadly, we’re so much better at wallowing in the bad stuff.

I use this space to write largely of the victories because that is where my heart thrives and grows.  When I slow down enough to take notice of how God is at work, my faith sprouts and begins to blossom.  Enduring the rough patches is simply the process of weeding out snares before they can take root.  And if I’m faithful to weed, dirty and sweaty as the job may be, I can count on Him to water and provide the light necessary for good growth.

But if I’m so busy moaning about the weeds they’ll never get weeded.

Not long ago my daughter wrote me a note that said…I’m becoming a jerk and I don’t know what to do. I’m no different than any other mother in that I don’t want to hear my little girl is becoming a jerk.   But the Lord was giving her a glimpse of her own soiled character and injecting her with a desire for change.  That, my friends, is a victory.  And it’s the kind of victory that opens the door to more victories.

I can choose to stew over the fact that my little girl is hyper-sensitive or too quick to cry or a bit hard on her younger sister.  Or I can choose to celebrate the fact that she is seeking after change.  That her heart yearns for cleansing.  That she’s reaching the age at which she has begun to be responsible for her own spiritual condition.

Totally worth celebrating and absolutely counts as a victory.

We all smell suspiciously of mud on occasion.  Whether it’s the art of parenting or marrying or working or resting, we tend to make a mess of it on our own.  Because it was never, ever meant to be done on our own anyway.  Keep reading your story looking for the good stuff and He’ll keep writing it until you find your happy ending, at last!

And please don’t ever be discouraged by anything I write.  Take heart knowing it takes a whole lot of yuck to get to the yum in this house, too.

 

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when nursing your baby is just hard

It’s supposed to be such a beautiful thing, this whole nursing experience.  And it can be.

But sometimes it’s not and for me, that sometimes is now.

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He’s my 8th child which also means he’s the 8th child I ‘ve breastfed.  You’d think I’d have it all down by now.  And maybe I do but my little guy sure doesn’t.  It’s been a rough go from the start when my milk refused to come in.  A normal lactating experience for me is that my little nursling has ample amounts of colostrum in those first few days followed by ridiculously-more-than-ample amounts of milk about 4 days in.  Only this time the only thing I had in ample supply was stress because the milk part just wasn’t happening.

Determined not to supplement with formula I scrambled to find ways to stimulate production.  My darling husband drove far and wide in his new-dad haze of exhaustion gathering supplies I had deemed necessary.  On my list were the following: Fenugreek, Brewer’s Yeast, Oatmeal, Mother’s Milk Tea and copious amounts of bottled water because I am the biggest water snob you’ll ever hope to meet.  He also threw nearly $200 into the hands of a retail shop carrying the pump we were both sure would save the day.  Maybe it has but most of the time I just want to toss it down and stomp on it.

Sorry, but I feel you should know the truth.  Even about my fits of irrational rage directed at inanimate objects.

Anyway, equipped with my arsenal of milk-inducing ammunition I commenced on my journey.  And while my milk did indeed come in, this whole nursing thing is is still just hard.  So hard, in fact, that I recently saw a magazine advertisement with a mother serenely nursing her peaceful baby in a quiet room amidst perfect order and I got teary eyed.  Like tears flowing down my cheeks while I gulped back the frustration of my failure kind of teary eyed.  If only my body would produce milk the way my eyes can produce tears, we’d be in business.

But unlike that glossy ad, my home is not serene or quiet.  It’s bustling and busy and energetic and chaotic and loud.  (Yes, it’s fine to use different words to say the same thing 5 times in a single sentence…but only if you really, really mean it.  And I really, really do.)  And my tiny baby is not a champion nurser by any stretch.  I mean, unless by champion you mean one who thrashes and cries when you attempt to feed him.  Because in that case he’d be top dog.

And therein lies why I hate my pump.  Because if I express the milk after he won’t nurse he’ll gobble down the bottle like nobody’s business and the next nursing session is even harder because he then wants the rapid flow of the imposter.  But lest you’ve begun to think my baby simply hates nursing let me assure you that many, many times it’s his happy place.  His sweet spot.  His comfort.

Which translated means he gets so cozy he goes right off to sleep and cannot be roused.  Little scamp is determined to thwart my efforts from every angle.

He’s been checked by the doctor multiple times and he’s very healthy.  He’s on the skinny side but still on the skinny side of healthy.  We’ve gotten lactation help and tried pretty much every trick in the book.  Nothing.  We’re basically help-resistant, it seems.

So here’s what I know.  It is God who created the nursing relationship between a mother and her babe.  And He alone has the ability to provide me with adequate milk and my tiny one with sufficient patience to accept it.  So while I continue to do everything within my power to stimulate supply and encourage healthy feeding habits, I am at the place where all I can do is trust that He’ll give us both just enough…one feeding at a time.  I don’t love the hard times.  I detest trying to sit down to nurse only to feel like I’m scrapping with a 3 month old who is otherwise probably the happiest baby I’ve ever known.    I hate that I am the starkest contrast to those perfect breastfeeding mom photos.  I’m the bumbling middle-ager with worn out nursing pads, sour shirts and a plethora of lofty aspirations that rarely materialize.

But I am his mom.  With his milk.  And so long as God continues to allow just enough to get us by, I’ll praise Him and be thankful for it.  Because sometimes just enough is exactly what we need so we remember who’s providing it.

 

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Note:  It seems seemly to add that nobody should be concerned.  If we ever thought, for even a moment, that our baby was suffering from lack of nutrition or dehydration, we would supplement without hesitation.  This is not a matter of stubborn pride but rather a matter of humble acceptance.  His diapers are carefully monitored as is his growth.  And we have the kindest doctor who understands our desires and is collaborating with us to see to it that our little guy continues to thrive under our very best efforts and the unfailing grace of God.

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on raising world changers

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Her little heart is soft.  So very, very soft.  And it’s not because of me, that I know for certain.  I can only surmise it has happened because God is walking next to her, whispering into her heart, and she’s choosing to listen. Because when we listen…really listen…the voice grows louder. Last night we were [...]

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because fear

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  I’ll be honest.  My human nature–my natural tendency–is to worry.  And if I run out of things to worry about (as if!) just give me a minute…I’ll dream something up.  Yet I know it’s not only a waste of time but it’s also flat wrong. Because you see, it truly is a human tendency [...]

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because making home beautiful matters…a $50 giveaway

As many of you know, we are currently between homes.  Drifters.  Gypsies.  A well-loved “homeless” family.  But once upon a time, I was a modern-day homemaker with walls to decorate and shelves to fill and cupboards to stock.  Lord willing, one day soon we will find the home He has waiting for us and I [...]

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let me tell you a story about a very stubborn woman (that would be me!)

I haven’t had much to say around here lately.  I’d like to claim it’s because I’ve been otherwise occupied, but it would be a lie.  Actually, maybe it wouldn’t.  I have been fully occupied by bitterness. I’ll start at the beginning.  Don’t worry, I’ll edit so it doesn’t get too long. We moved about 3 [...]

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