Friday, November 16, 2012

As of late, this is a theme that has been replaying in my life over and over and over and over, and I don't understand the reason.  It seems that 28 is the new 15 when it comes to receiving advice from me.  Granted, this isn't the case in all situations, but in many it truly is.  I can't help but wonder why.  It seems that it is the same few people who continue to talk down to me in the "you have no idea what this is like" stance.

Really?  Would I be offering up my opinion or ANY amount of advice if I didn't understand where you were coming from?

No.  I truly would not.

I find myself feeling frustrated at the fact that people look at me as being younger.  Let's be honest - there are not many women who are near my own age who are in the place of life where I am.  A few, yes, but not many.  A majority of my friends are about 10 years older than I am, and when I am with them, they don't point out my age difference or make me feel any less relevant because of it.

So why do others?  Why is it that other people fixate on my 28 years as being inexperienced?  There are so many areas of life that I have too much experience; heartache, loneliness, desperately wanting something more ... check, check and check.  Love, laughter, a live overflowing with happiness ... done, done and done!  Anger, frustration, sadness ... been there, done that.

So maybe this all goes back to this post.  Maybe it really is more about me being confident in the woman that God created me to be.  I am a mother to five awesome children, a wife to one very amazing man, a scheduler of our busy lives, a manager of our household, a laundry goddess, a cleaning guru, a Norwex-seller extraordinaire, an accounts payable representative, a referee of all fights, a judge of the "trials" that happen between siblings in our home, a daughter to three amazing parents (three because I have a step-dad, too!), a sister to three phenomenal siblings, a sister-in-law, a step-sister, an aunt, a cousin, a friend and an extreme goofball.

A woman with a huge desire to use my life experience to help others.  To let my story be the thing that touches them and teaches them about the love of our Savior.

So yes, I am only 28.  If my 28-year-old self doesn't qualify to offer advice to you, please just simply say "thank you" instead of talking down to me.  You may not think that I understand because of where my life is today, but I have been deeper in the trenches than most people know, and I have one very awesome God to thank for walking with me through those trenches and leading me out into glorious light.

Beautiful, shining, victorious light ...

Photo courtesy of Google Images

Friday, November 9, 2012

This past Wednesday (November 7th) we celebrated Ethan's 2nd birthday!  We had so much fun!  We started the day with a nebulizer treatment, since our birthday boy is currently fighting off a nasty cold ...

 We had "Ethan's choice" for dinner, which turned out to be Macaroni & Cheese with hot dogs (I really wasn't surprised that he chose that .. he is a two-year-old, after all!) and followed that up with some really yummy cupcakes ...

Ethan opened his present - a bouncing Tigger doll - and couldn't eat his cupcake fast enough to be done and play with it!

Then, once he was playing with Tigger, I couldn't get him to turn and look at the camera even once!

Happy 2nd Birthday my little love!  I am so grateful that you are mine and that I have had the last two years with you in my life.  I hardly remember what our family was like before you arrived!  Daddy and I love you SO much!!

Friday, November 2, 2012

This is something that has been on my heart for about a month.  I had the privilege of sharing it with my MOPS group yesterday, and now I want to share it with you.  Looking back over the past (almost) four years, I have found that there were so many times I felt I didn't measure up.  It started out with motherhood. Jumping in head-first to being a step-mom to four kids is one of the best blessings I've ever been given, but it also is one of the most frustrating learning journeys that I've been on.  You see, I really thought I was doing a good job - I was staying on top of our housework and laundry (which I now realize was truly a miracle!), I was making dinners, I was playing with the kids and helping with homework.  Sure, we had a hiccup every now and then, but life really seemed to be going smoothly.

Then I started following mommy blogs.

There are few things in the world that tear me down the way that reading a mommy blog can.  Those blogs that give advice for all of the tough moments, that show pictures of the perfect birthday parties and the perfect children who's clothes always match, who's hair is never messy and who always have the perfect, attentive smile.

I hated other mommy blogs!  Suddenly I began to think that I wasn't good enough.  My kids would fight.  My little boys' clothes rarely ever matched (because I had made the decision that I wasn't going to be the mom who forced her kids to wear what she picked out for them).  My youngest threw major fits in the store.  Oh my goodness, I was completely convinced that I wasn't a good mother.

Then I met my neighbor.

She was (and still is) a very wonderful woman - a loving mother and the keeper of her own busy schedule.  The crazy thing about my meeting her was that initially I really wanted to have a friend nearby.  I was so excited to meet her and be her friend.  However, the more that I learned about the way she ran her household, the more I started to do comparisons and made myself feel like I wasn't good enough.  We would get together for playdates and her kids would eat the organic snacks that she had packed, all the while my kids were eating Pop Tarts.  I found myself eventually withdrawing from that friendship because I didn't feel like I was as good as her.

Fast forward to my first year in MOPS.

Initially I was so excited to be part of this group.  I longed and desired for friendships from other moms - women who understood what it was like to walk this journey.  It didn't take long, though, for that old comparison monster to creep up and completely destroy my first year of MOPS.  I decided that I couldn't be friends with one woman because she was far too beautiful - she had it all together and both she and her kids were always dressed to the nines.  I couldn't be friends with another woman because she was the perfect mom - just like all of those mommy bloggers I read about.  Another woman was friends with my organic living neighbor, so she must not want to be friends with someone who feeds her kids Pop Tarts and candy bars.

The list went on and on.  I found myself so lonely in that first year of MOPS, coming with the expectation to meet friends and find relationships, yet allowing the comparison monster to control my thoughts so deeply that I kept myself distanced from ever knowing these women on a deeper level.

It took another year in MOPS and having a baby of my own for me to really allow myself a little bit of grace.  It took having these women tell me that it's not easy and to give myself a break.  It took God radically changing my heart for me to move forward and away from the comparison monster.

Now, one of my best friends is that woman who dresses to kill.  I completely love the woman who is friends with my neighbor.  The mom who seemed to have it all together - she and I are getting closer in our friendship.  The irony of becoming friends with these women was that many of them admitted to feeling the same way about me.  I was completely blown away.  Here I thought I was not good enough, I thought that I wasn't as good at being a mom as any of them - and some of them admitted to feeling like they didn't measure up to me.

Why do we play this awful comparison game?  God didn't create me to be like you - nor did He create you to be like me!  We all have our own attributes and abilities that make us who we are.  It has taken such a long time for me to really grasp this concept, but I finally am to a place where I really own who I am.  I am high maintenance, though rarely ever late.  I love the days when I can wear my sweats all day long.  I am trying to become a runner, though I don't yet enjoy it.  I love to have people over to my house and will welcome you with open arms, but don't judge me that I need to vacuum my floors.  In fact, don't bother taking your shoes off - it's probably safer that way!  I am not good at crafts and rarely ever attempt them.  I am learning to be a good (step)mom, but am thankful each and every day that God offers me grace when I fail.  I love coffee dates with girlfriends.  I am confident in the woman that God has created me to be and I pray that my confidence doesn't ever scare anybody away from wanting to be my friend.

Me (far right) with my dear friends Susan, Amy and Allison before the 10k we ran together.

I am simply me - and I rock at being me!