Archives For Joy

A Spoonful of Grace

November 21, 2015

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There are some weeks where I feel like I am just winning at life! I’m sure my fellow moms out there know what I am talking about. I manage to get all the laundry folded and put away, I’ve cleaned the entire house, cooked and cleaned up the kitchen daily, taken care of any miscellaneous errands/chores along with homeschooling and spending quality time with my boys and husband. When I have weeks like this I seriously do feel like I am on roll, finally in a good groove and being a great mom and wife.

Then there are the weeks where the laundry is piled up. Sometimes it’s that I can’t get to the laundry so it’s waiting to get washed, or (like right now) it’s clean and in a pile on the couch. If I’m really lucky then it’s clean and folded sitting on the piano in the living room waiting to be put away. Clutter is everywhere, toys everywhere, I need to clean, honestly the kitchen is driving me crazy! Am I the only person whose kitchen seems to be the catch-all for everything? It’s like we come in the from garage and that’s as far as everything goes, right to the kitchen counter. Ugh! And the dishes, OH the dishes! Do they ever end? I don’t know what I would do without that dishwasher!?! But I just need to find five minutes in my day to load that said dishwasher.

When I come off of a week like this I feel like I am definitely not winning, let alone even doing a half decent job at being a wife and mom. I mean how can I have one week where everything goes so smoothly and I get everything done on my lists along with plenty of fun things for the kids and I to do, just to have the following week be the exact opposite of that. It’s not even like I did anything differently, yet somehow there wasn’t enough time in the day to do everything. I’m not a mathematician, but I’m pretty sure that I have the exact same amount of hours in every day. It just doesn’t add up to me that one week I’m winning the race and the next week I’m in the back of the race sprinting trying to keep up.

I just finished reading the new Jen Hatmaker book, For the Love. (If you haven’t read it, you should stop what you are doing and order it on Amazon because it is wonderful!) This book was perfect, I felt like she was literally talking right to me. It’s all about grace, and the most important part I took away from it is giving yourself grace. We can NOT do it ALL! I repeat we can not do it all! And guess what… that’s OKAY! What? It’s okay that I can’t do it all and that I might need some help? Yes, we are only human. Some weeks I might have less energy than other weeks due to my lupus, so the laundry might just have to wait until the next day, and guess what… it’s okay! Also, it’s okay to say no and put your time and energy where its most important. Do the dishes later that night and go play a game with your kids or read a book together. Give yourself permission to embrace this time and not get bogged down by the chores and chaos of the day. Ask for help when you are having a day or week where you feel overwhelmed. I don’t know why I can have such an easy and productive week when the next week makes me feel like a failure. The only explanation I have is that we are human, not super heroes and some times that’s just the way life goes. Give yourself some grace because your kids and your husband love you, they aren’t worried about the dishes in the sink. It’s all about grace, give yourself some. It’s okay!

I am four weeks away from meeting my second child! It’s an amazing feeling knowing that we are so close, especially since this was a very long journey. With both of our boys we were not the lucky ones to conceive quickly. The first time around it took us seven months to get pregnant, while that is certainly not long compared to some people’s journeys it definitely is longer than we expected for being young and healthy. Little did we know that I had Lupus and it was playing a factor into me getting pregnant. This time around we were aware that it might take a while. But, I will say even though I thought it would take a while I did not expect it being a two-year wait.

Maternity_11I had weird symptoms for about four years off and on, but nothing that would tie anything together for the doctors to think, hmmm… maybe it’s Lupus. After my oldest was born I had a rough recovery and then around the time he was eight months old all the symptoms I had previously hit at once and more. By the time he was a year and a half I was diagnosed, finally. Truthfully, I was just glad to finally have a name, a thing, a reason for everything. I could finally know what I was working with. Getting any diagnosis is scary, especially one like Lupus since it is so mysterious and can attack any part of your body. It’s hard to predict and hard to treat. But, God gave me a peace from the beginning. My story is from Him, He has everything in control and Lupus is just part of my story and I have come to terms with that. He has plans for me!

Since I was young, one of the first things that the doctor asked was if I wanted to have anymore children. There was no question that I did, we had always talked about wanting to have a large family. But, it was going to have to wait… for the time being. Lupus patients can have safe pregnancies and healthy babies, but the best thing to do is first get it under control before putting your body through the stress of pregnancy. So that meant that I spent the next year working with the doctor to get everything controlled and to a point that I could get pregnant. That was hard, because by then in our ideal world we would have already been trying for another baby. Being told yes, but not right now is very trying…

After a year we finally got the okay from the doctor, everything looked good and we could try for our second child! Yay! And then came the next year… I honestly thought, oh it will take a while, but probably not longer than it took the last time. Well, it took exactly a year before we were pregnant. Since it was such a long wait I truthfully was in shock when I had a positive pregnancy test! You wait that long and eventually you start to think of it as a distant future thing, when it finally meets your present it’s so exciting you can’t believe it.

Fast forward a few months and I am sitting here, my oldest will be four next month and my youngest will be born within the next four weeks. It was definitely not the plan we had envisioned for our family, we had always pictured a two to three-year age gap. But, God has a much better, more beautiful plans than we can make for ourselves. Will we get to have four kids like we always imagined? I don’t know, and at first that saddened me. But now, I know that we will be given the number of children that God had planned for us from the beginning. If that means two, three or four it doesn’t matter, because whatever His plans are for me I am thankful! I am thankful to be called Mom and thankful for the two amazing little boys that God has blessed me with already.

My forever accessory to life

My forever accessory to life

When my face is rash free, my joints are treating me nice and my fingers don’t go crazy white I can forget that I have an illness. Mostly when I have had weeks and even months of feeling better than usual. The thing about Lupus is that majority of the time it doesn’t show through on the outside. I look just like everyone else, I seem to be healthy but reality is far from that. There are times when I look into the mirror and think back to that moment I heard “You have Lupus” and find myself doubting those very words. Could it really be true? I have felt so good lately. I look okay. Maybe it was all in my head. But those thoughts come to a sudden jolt when I am reminded of my disease every day by my twice-a-day pill organizer. What twenty-something has a pill organizer? Just those that need one..

The truth is I am not in denial of my diagnosis. I’m actually okay with it. But sometimes I find myself looking and feeling like I used to and then everything becomes surreal. When I actually stop to think about those words “You have Lupus” it’s hard to believe. Not because I wish it weren’t so or because I fear what is ahead. It’s hard to believe because who thinks that they will have their world altered by words like that? No one. I seem to be healthy, and sometimes I even feel that way. But then I get reminded of just how invisible this illness really is when I wake up with achy joints and the beautiful butterfly rash to accent my face for the next several days and my stark white fingers that are my winter accessory. Truthfully it’s as simple as this… I don’t think about my disease all the time and if I am having several good days in a row I forget about this part of my life, that I have Lupus. But, I think that is a good thing because it’s pretty great that people don’t see me and see my illness. I will talk to people about it with all honesty, but I like knowing that it doesn’t have to be me. I think it’s okay to forget about your diagnosis because every day when I take my morning and evening medicine that is enough of a reminder. I don’t need to dwell on it.

I do not fear what is ahead. Rain or shine, God Has plans far greater than mine, and that includes my disease!

I am sure that we have all heard the debates about whether moms should work outside the home. I have heard it said that women can’t win, if they work outside the home then they must love their kids less. If they stay home then they don’t want to contribute to society or to their family financially. If we listen to society and these debates then yes, women can’t win. There is no way that we could please everyone with these two options. But, it really shouldn’t be about society and what others think of you as a parent. It is about what God thinks, what your family needs and what you feel about yourself! I left my job a month before my son was born and thought that I would be a stay-at-home mom forever. It’s funny how we make plans for ourselves but God’s plans usually end up in the opposite direction. Here are 10 things I have learned from being a working mom.

  1. Your Child Loves You! My little guy loves me and that love did not change because I went back to work. I visit him every day at lunch and he always has a bright smile and begins to tell me with excitement about his day. His love is unconditional. For that I am grateful. It is all too easy as a mom to make ourselves feel guilty for a number of things. But, our children see us more graciously than we see ourselves.
  2. More Intentional. I have always tried to be intentional with our family time. I never wanted to be the family that all we did was watch TV together. But, it is easy to do when you stay _MG_2659at home all day. Once I began to work outside the home I have found that our family time became more intentional. Less TV time and more playing games, going to the park, evening walks and lots of lego time. It’s not that we were less intentional before, it’s more that we cherish every moment and want to make it count. Even if it is simply hanging out at the house running around like robots.
  3. God Knows Best! Our plans are just that, they are ours. God’s plans typically will differ from what we planned. But, I have learned through the years that He always has a reason for what He does and His plans are always better than I could have done myself.
  4. Making Friends. There is nothing more special than watching my son make friends! He gets excited every day when he walks in to a room full of his best buddies. In our families situation it was not always easy to spend time with friends when I wasn’t working because we are a one car family. Many days we were stuck at home. This has offered a chance for my little guy to play with friends on a regular basis.
  5. No Lesser. I do not feel that being a working parent makes you any lesser of a parent than staying at home. Both roles are extremely important and both roles work hard. It’s easy to tell yourself that you are lesser because you are not home, but this is a lie that we are telling ourselves. Remember, our child loves us unconditionally and sometimes working is what your family needs. Doing what your family needs does not make you lesser! _MG_3138
  6. Always A Mom. This is plan and simple but sometimes you just need to remind yourself that you are a mom no matter if you work from an office or if you work from home. Moms love their children, look out for their best interest and care for their needs. This is true of working moms just as it is true of stay at home moms.
  7. The Mold. There is no perfect mold. Just because you have friends that work or friends that stay home doesn’t mean that you must do what they do. Sometimes what your family needs is not what you even expected. Every family is different, every situation is different and only you know the needs of your family. Don’t feel guilty for knowing the needs of your family!
  8. No One Is Perfect. You will not be perfect in either situation. If you work, you will have days that you feel like a failure as a parent. If you stay at home you will have days that you feel like a failure as a parent. The parenting thing is not easy. Don’t believe the lie that other people have it together, because we are all learning as we go. We are all doing the best that we can, but the truth is that no one is perfect. We will mess up. But, instead of feeling guilty we should lift each other up and support one another because parenting is hard!
  9. Struggles. The grass is not greener on the other side. I have done both and have thoroughly enjoyed both. But, each come with their own struggles, even if you can’t see it when looking in. Working you struggle with juggling your time, stress of the job, and all things parenting. Staying at home you struggle with all things parenting, being isolated, and often times a tight budget. Let’s stop putting up a front and just be transparent with each other. It’s okay to say that you are having  a bad day!
  10. Calling. I firmly believe that if God called you to it, then your family will not be content and thriving unless you are obedient. This is true in either scenario. No matter if God called you to work or if God called you to stay home, you will only ever find true joy being in the will of God!

 

The following is a guest post by my friend Jenna Rader. I am excited to have Jenna’s leap into the blogging world here on Raising Inspiration. She has such a wonderful spirit and I know that you will enjoy her writing as much as I do! Show her some love! 

At nearly seventy years of age, my mother underwent her third hip replacement surgery on the same joint. The surgeon botched the first surgery by inserting an oversized apparatus. Several months later, when she was still unable to walk and one leg was an inch longer than the other, the doctors finally admitted the mistake and scheduled another replacement surgery.

After the second surgery and several more months of pain and inability to walk, my mother discovered that the second hip replacement apparatus had been recalled by the manufacturer due to reports of severe allergic reactions in patients.  In the third surgery, the doctor reported that the site where the apparatus was located was covered with tumors. Not only was her hip-joint replaced for a third time, reconstruction was conducted on much of the tissue.

Upon awakening from this third surgery, my mother, still groggy from anesthetic, asked the nurse’s aide if she knew about the Bible App that she could access on her phone. She tried to download it for her and when she was unable to, I received the following text:

Text Message

 

Rather than being bitter and angry from the numerous surgeries, the inability to walk for nearly three years and the trauma that has been caused to her body through no fault of her own, my mother continually chooses a good attitude and possesses a beautiful godly spirit. She always shares God’s love with others.

She may never be able to walk without help again. I know that she will continue to have joy and spread God’s blessings no matter the circumstance.

Paul, writing from prison, possessed this same attitude – an attitude of joy because of the grace and love that God has bestowed upon his children. “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:12-13

This kind of joy is not a human-based happiness or an emotion that comes and goes. True joy is divine in origin and emanates from the grace of God. It is a spirit-given expression of God’s grace that flourishes best in hard times. It is a timeless joy that flows out of people directly from God.

And I want to be just like that.