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Talent

For years, I assumed that I possessed no obvious talent. Beginning in childhood, and progressing as I continued through middle and high school, I witnessed as my peers achieved amazing feats. Classmates won regional and state awards for athletics. Achievements were accomplished in music, drama and debate. And I? Well I sat in the furthest corner of every classroom, nearest to the door, the awkward dweller in a sea of outgoing, incredibly talented people.

I remember thinking to myself, one day as I was walking from my fourth period gym class to my counselor’s office to discuss which courses would be beneficial for the upcoming semester, that I never fit in anywhere. If there were anything I would be considered most likely to succeed in, it would be the award for the quietest person in our graduating class. In case you were wondering, I was the runner up to the eventual winner.

As I sat in my counselor’s office, my eyes scanning the plaques adorning his wall as he prompted his computer to generate the available course list for the upcoming term, I heard him thinking out loud to himself, asking himself a question before he provided his own response. He swiveled his chair so that he was facing me directly, and asked, “how do you feel about journalism?”

I had always loved to write, but most of my words to that point had found their way in to my diary, not exposed to the public. I wasn’t sure that taking a newspaper class, where my words would quite possibly be shared with the public, was a good idea at all. Yet, as he noted, I needed a course of this type to graduate, and he felt that a class such as this would also be a good way to break me out of my “shell.” Grudgingly, I agreed, and we finished creating my upcoming class list for the following semester, the thought of my newspaper class still months away.

Time however, was not my ally, as the following semester approached rapidly, and I found myself sitting within the newspaper office, the black cursor on my monitor blinking in anticipation at me, waiting for me to fill the screen. Where would I start? Certainly, at the beginning, yet I had no idea what would be considered a impact-ful first phrase that would make the rest of the student body read further. What if they picked up the latest edition of the newspaper, read the first few words of my first sentence, and determined that they would not like to read anymore? What if no one other than the pages of my diary cared to hear what I had to say? I had a deadline to write my first article, and I could not turn in an incomplete assignment. So I wrote, typing without reading my own words, hopeful that I produced a semi quality piece. I sent the article off to my newspaper and prepared for the worst.

To my shock, he actually liked what I had to write! Surprisingly, the student body liked it too! I was given more articles to write, and soon, I discovered that a course offered as an alternative to me was my niche. In a sea of students who had obvious talents, the shy, quiet girl had found her home.

As I graduated and advanced to my freshman year in college, I again found myself in the same position. A small fish in an ocean, I was struggling to find my place, and so, once again, I found myself in the newspaper office. Words were my comfort, and allowed me to connect to others in a way that my otherwise awkward nature would not allow. I was home.

After college, I found myself in the corporate world, far removed from my dreams as a journalist. I was suddenly the bearer of adult responsibilities and my words fell to the back burner of my life, quietly resting in the corners of my mind. The corporate life did not have room for the written word.

In December of last year, I found myself faced with a major life change. I was at a loss for what I wanted to do next, seriously questioning not only my purpose as a wife and mother, but as a person as well. I wondered what my next step was. Again, the written word found me, when I began this blog. I am so fortunate that I am able to write. I am thankful that the words that I have found comfort in on more than one occasion are now, as they have always been, my home.

My talent may not be obvious. My “talent” may not even be considered a talent. But for a shy, awkward person struggling to find her way in the world, this relationship I have with words is something I’d like to think makes me talented.

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Know you are loved

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Mama, I see you. I see the life that you do not share online, the tantrums and exhaustion and frustration that you do not post to Facebook or Instagram. I see the silent prayers that you have shared with God in your few spare moments of time between preparing your little one lunch and locating their missing cup, shoe, or favorite toy. I see your frustration that comes with these prayers, the questioning you have for yourself, for God, as to why it seems like nothing is changing. I see the doubt you cast on yourself, asking yourself at the end of a long day if you really were the best woman, the best wife, the best mother you could be. I see that rut you are stuck in, the ponytail that you have worn for days tossed haphazardly on your head as your scoop down to pick up the same toy yet again. I see you question if your husband still finds you attractive after he has seen you in sweatpants, and if the romance is still alive in the midst of raising children, where they are often your first priority over your marriage.

And mama, I am here to tell you this.

Know that you are loved.

Know that you are loved by the one who created you, who thinks you are beautiful even on those days where you are feeling down, who sees you in those sweatpants and that oversized tee-shirt and still thinks of you as the beautiful creation he made you to be.

Know that you are loved by your little ones, so, so very much. Know that their little hearts see past your messy hair, those circles under your eyes, and see straight to your heart. Those little ones see the overwhelming love that you have for them pouring from you in everything you do, from cutting the crusts off of their sandwiches to tucking them in snugly at night, and they love you. Know this. Remember this.

Know that your husband loves you too, and he sees you not as the woman who has not worn a proper outfit in months, but as the woman who he loved enough to commit the rest of his life too, the woman who he choose to raise a family with. Know that he loves you in spite of those clothes that still sit in the laundry basket needing to be folded, or that extra dish in the sink that you didn’t have the energy to wash.

Know that your friends, especially your mommy ones, love you too. They love your heart, and what your presence brings to their lives. They understand that you may not always be available for an uninterrupted chat over lunch, or a night out, and they love you still.

Know that I love you too. We may be strangers who have never met, or friends who have not had the ability to connect in person for quite some time. But I love you. I love the you you are in your darkest hours, your messiest moments. I love the mother who needs that extra minute to herself. The mother who cherishes those nighttime snuggles.

I love you for who you are, and who you want to be. Take heart, dear mama, dear friend, for even if it seems like you are losing yourself in motherhood, losing yourself as a woman, you are always loved.

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Words unspoken

Words are truly powerful instruments, tools that we have at our disposal yet do not always use with care.

Recently, I was speaking with a former co-worker, a person who I purposely avoided speaking too during our brief time together. Why? This person had never directly done anything to offend me. She never spoke poorly of me, to my knowledge, if my name came up in conversation, and yet, if I found myself in a situation in which we may be in direct contact, I would attempt to find myself otherwise occupied, so that I would not have to speak to her. I realize now that it was not fair to this co-worker of mine, yet at the time, I was relying on the assumptions..the words, of others, as to why I did not want to interact with her.

It led me to wonder, when we formulate opinions of others based upon information that more often than not is incorrect, why are we not more willing to seek out the truth? Why do avoid the possibility of getting to know this person better from the source..the actual person? Why do we allow ourselves to become comfortable with the pre-determined judgments of others, and in the process, isolate ourselves from what could possibility be a great person or a great friendship?

As our conversation progressed, she too shared with me the assumptions that are other co-workers had created about me, content to spread words to others without verifying the information they were spreading. It did not offend me, as I have moved past that particular stage of my life, but again, it made me wonder why we use our words as weapons, rather than as a basis to confirm information. Certainly, we have the pre-disposition to create judgments about others. These judgments allow our brains to organize and classify information so that we can understood the world around us. That portion of ourselves is simply human nature.

Of course, these judgments do not merely apply to co-workers, whether they be current or former. These judgements apply to others as well. We have all found ourselves, at one point or another during our parenting “careers”, classifying parents not by the every day interactions that they have with their children, but by the minor glimpses that we catch of their lives, often for that parent at the worst time, when their child or children are having meltdowns and are commanding our attention. We have reprimanded the parents in our heads and corrected the behaviors of the children, questioning as to why the child’s actual parents did not do it in the way that we did.

However, it does not make a person inferior. The moment at which you interact with another person, whether it be in a corporate or even a parenting setting, is only a slice of life for that individual. On the surface, it may seem as if that parent is failing to parent, or that co-worker is a person we do not really want to get to know better because of a behavior that we may disagree with, or an attitude that we do not like.  If we allow ourselves to dig deeper however, we may find that under the veil of judgment we have placed upon the situation the or person, there is a greater wealth of information that they are willing to share, and we may actually find ourselves wanting to get to know that person better.

So friends, I urge you. Rather than resting content, comfortable with the judgements of others, or even the ones that we create ourselves, I challenge you to look further. Dig past the surface information, the opinions of others, and get to know that person better.

I did, and she’s really quite wonderful

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For Mothers

On the day your child was born, so too were you. You were always a woman, but on this day, you became a different version of yourself. You became a place of comfort, a keeper of snuggles and bedtime stories, a companion to the new little life that wriggled in your arms. On this day, your heart grew two sizes and you were overwhelmed with love for this life you had created.

On the day you became a mama, the months of waiting and planning for your baby’s arrival culminated in to the moment you placed your new bundle in to their crib for the first time, the fresh scent of their newborn hair filling your nostrils and engulfing your lungs with a joy so palpable, you were sure your chest would burst. You felt the corners of your mouth turn in to a smile so wide you felt your muscles ache, as you looked at your husband and fell in love with him all over again. You sighed with exhaustion, and wondered if you could ever be happier than you were in that very moment.

Your baby grew, as if in the blink of an eye, and was suddenly a toddler, a whirlwind of energy and emotion. You, mama, let your child patiently explore, waiting in the wings as your child requested independence, yet hovered, waiting to shield your child from any potential harm that may have inflicted pain. You clapped your hands in joy as your child reached each new milestone, mastering first the brushing of their teeth, the combing of their hair, their victory over potty training. Mama, your heart soared and crumbled as your child conquered toddler-hood, happy in the knowledge that you were raising a tiny human who could now walk on their own and feed themselves, yet sad, as they were moving toward the next stage of childhood with you always one step behind.

Mama, your child continued to grow, and soon you were preparing your little one for their first day of school, packages of finely sharpened colored pencils and sticks of purple glue taking residence in their character backpacks. You filled their lunchboxes with their favorite snacks and classroom approved juice drinks, debating as you drove your child to their first day of school without you who would have the bigger meltdown. When you arrived at the drop off point, and weren’t allowed any further, you knelt down, your knee brushing the cool concrete of the sidewalk, and squeezed your child in a tight embrace, fighting with every ounce of yourself to let your child go, as they attempted to free themselves from your embrace. You planted a kiss on their perfectly combed hair, said, “I love you,” and waved as a piece of your heart walked away, in to a building full of other tiny bodies ready to learn.

Mama, your child no longer cries when you drop them off for school. They are ready to greet their friends, ready for recess on the playground and the special activities that fill their days. They are growing more independent every day, and yet, the moment they step off of the bus or climb in to the car, ready to shower you with morsels of their day, your heart and your smile can’t help but to expand, at how much they are willing to share with you.

Mama, before you know it, your little one, the baby you held so many days ago, will be on to the next stage of their lives, tackling middle school and the demands that becoming a teenager entails. They may withdraw from you, and the young child ready to share their day may no longer seek you out as their first option to talk to.

But dear mama, take heart. As you ride the roller-coaster of these years, certain at times that your child may hate you, as you question yourself and your role as a mother, your child will still know that you love them. Though they may not choose to acknowledge you and your presence, in the moments they are alone, without you, your child will know that your love for them surrounds them, even when you do not.

Mama, these times are tough and are also truly rewarding. Your emotions will never be as intense as they are when you are a mother. You will feel days of joy and days of pure frustration. Your soul, at times, will be weary, and your body will be tested, as you carry that growing body, first within you, and then on your lap, your hip and in your heart. You may ride the roller-coaster of parenthood multiple times, if like myself, you have more than one child, and you may question your sanity on the days when your children bicker endlessly.

Your child will continue to grow mama, and the middle school teenager will became a high school student, and then a college graduate. Before you can blink, mama, your son or daughter may be a parent of their own. You will remain with them, a constant in the ever changing seas of their lives, the lighthouse guiding them home.

Mama, this life is a crazy one, but rest assured dear friend. You are a wonderful woman, a wonderful mama, and you are doing just fine. 10484777_410564135788826_6726339616464583984_n

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Small Meetings

Brightly lit fluorescent bulbs hummed overhead, illuminating the sea of bodies filling the confined space. Children shrieked with delight as they ran through the expanse of the restaurant’s seating area, weaving through pathways of adults clutching filled cups and trays in hand, dodging to avert the direct impact of a small body. The intoxicating scent of fried chicken permeated the air as we stood in a formed line, awaiting our respective turns at the cash register.

I absentmindedly glanced at the menu displayed before us, a series of boards connected to one another, lit to highlight the restaurant’s most popular selections. After all, I had walked in to the restaurant with my order pre-determined, one of the many items to cross off on the never-ending checklist within my head. As I waited, I briefly retrieved my cell phone from it’s resting place within my cross-body purse, momentarily checking the time listed on the digital display before moving forward in line. I scanned the list of registers, watching as each cashier interacted with the customer they were servicing, engaging the customer in genuine conversation while transcribing their order. I enjoyed the atmosphere here, and that was why my family and I frequented the establishment. We would traditionally all enter the restaurant as my children and I secured a table, while my husband would order. On this day however, we were rushed, and I was the one who had been assigned to run in and order while my husband waited with our children in the car. After a long day of running errands, culminating with a toddler meltdown in the dairy aisle of Target, we had both agreed it would be easier for me to order than to drag everyone in.

Chatter continued to flow around me, the words of conversation enveloping me like an awkward hug, offering glimpses in to the lives of others who stood with me in line, our collective gathering place the Chick Fil A ordering line. As a naturally curious by nature, I would typically lightly eavesdrop on these conversations, but on this day, I was so wrapped within my own thoughts that I found these conversations not only intrusive, but irritating.

Unfortunately, it seemed to be the running theme of my life at that time.

I was suffering with a series of issues, all of which were fighting for dominance in my head, that I found myself on edge constantly. Activities which I use to enjoy I found to only cause me additional stress and frustration. I was not willing to admit it to myself, but I was depressed.

At last, it was my turn to approach the counter. I mentally ticked off the items in my head one more time. Chicken nuggets kids meals. Chicken sandwich, spicy chicken sandwich, drinks. As I walked toward the register, a gentle woman with a warm smile greeted me. Her hair was perfectly combed to frame her heart shaped face, and her rich, chocolate brown eyes sparkled as she recited her “Welcome to Chick Fil A, how may I help you?” script. She took my order as I distractedly repeated the items on my list, smiling as she handed me the placard that would identify me when my order was completed and ready to be delivered to me. Realizing that I had forgotten to order an additional item, I quickly scanned the growing line behind me. I could either forgo the item completely, or return to the line, causing my restless children and husband to wait in the car for another extended period of time. If I were to make them wait longer, I knew that my children would be cranky and that my already frayed nerves would likely result in me becoming frustrated for anger they did not deserve. I looked back to her, the stress in my voice likely apparent as I pleaded to add another item to my order. She smiled politely, stating “certainly,” as she retrieved my debit card and completed the transaction. I thanked her, and moved to the carry out section of the store, to allow for another customer to order, thankful that in the midst of the amounting tension that had risen that day, the act of ordering our food had been met with ease at the hands of this incredibly understanding woman.

She could not have realized that day, when she was performing the daily tasks of her job, the grace with which she treated me. She was serving yet another customer, and to her I was a stranger. She did not realize that I, in that year, had endured unimaginable pain, stress and chaos, and that the culmination of those events was at that very moment building, which would later set me on the path to where I am at today.

Several months later, I was perusing the comment section of a post penned by one of my favorite bloggers, inquiring to her audience about who of her followers was also a blogger. She was seeking several of her readers to write a review of her upcoming book for their blog pages. I scanned others link, and read the names of their blogs, before landing upon hers. At the time, on the day that she and I met face to face, she gave only her first name, the one emblazoned on her name badge. I had no idea of her last name, or even that she was a writer, and was surprised when I felt compelled to click on a commenter’s name with the same first name as she. As I clicked on her thumbnail of a profile picture, I instantly recognized her face. Her kind, warm smile and thoughtful brown eyes filled the screen as I scanned her Facebook profile. I hesitated, and in an out of character move for myself, clicked on the ADD FRIEND button. I was certain she would likely reject it, as she would not recognize me. In her line of work she had to have met hundreds upon hundreds of people a day. Surely there was no way she would know who I was.

Several hours later, she messaged me, and we began chatting. In addition to working at one of my favorite restaurants, she is also a writer, and we instantly connected over our passion.

I truly believe that God brings people in to our lives at various stages to assist us in guiding us towards Him and his ultimate plan. At the moment in which I met her, during one of the darkest periods in my life, I had no idea that a simple interaction would morph in to a deeper connection.

I am thankful to say that I am no longer in the stage of my life that I was at that very moment, in that restaurant line. I am grateful that I am given this opportunity, to write the words He has placed on my heart, and that when I am questioning my success as a writer, or the direction of my blog, that He has given me the very woman I met behind that cash register, to encourage me to continue.

God works in mysterious ways..and it all started with one small meeting.

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The Crisis

It has been said, when it comes to writing, to write what you know. After all, the most authentic words come from experience. This is why I write from the platform of motherhood and marriage. These are things I am familiar with, these are things I know.

However today’s posts doesn’t find me speaking about motherhood, or marriage. Today ‘s post is about the crisis. I am having it. Perhaps you are too.

I am turning 30 next year. I should preface this by saying that my 29th birthday has not yet arrived and I am already looking forward to my 30th. The 30th birthday is a significant one for many, and a dreaded one for most. For me, my 30th birthday is a milestone for several reasons.

During my mid 20’s, I unconsciously set my 30th birthday as the basis for many decisions in my life. My 30th birthday would be the deadline I gave myself to decide if I wanted any more children. My 30th birthday would determine where I was at in my career. My 30th birthday would hopefully find me in a home of my own.  Standing on the verge of 29, I can say that these timelines I have set for myself have not necessarily gone according to plan, and to be honest, I am content in the knowledge that my life has taken a different course.  I will admit, for many months and even years before I became comfortable with the direction of my life, I questioned myself and my purpose almost constantly. What if I wasn’t living up to my full potential? What if I had not advanced as far in my life, in my career, as I wanted too? These what if’s haunted me and caused me to feel as I was failing. I hated that feeling, and the doubt that it always caused me to feel about myself.

I am writing to you today, because perhaps you are in the crisis too. Maybe it ‘s not your 30th birthday, but something else.

Perhaps you are in your final semester of college, armed with a plan for your future, but also plagued by the fear that your plan might fall apart. You may be wondering what happens after you leave the comfort of the life that you have lived for the past four years, wondering if you will feel different as soon as you carry your diploma in hand.

You may be in your mid to late twenties, transitioning from the familiarity of a position you have held for quite some time in to the uncertain realm of a new position with a new company or firm. You may be leaving that life completely, venturing off in to your own business endeavors, starting a new foundation, and forging your own path. You may have questions about how you are going to make it work. You may wonder what is needed to succeed, and doubt yourself. Will you fit in with your new colleagues? Can you be your boss?

You may be in your later years, a woman or a man who has committed their lives to raising their children, and are now questioning who you are as a person, as your children grow and rely on you less. You may have forgotten the you before you were a parent. You may be struggling to find yourself again, and be paralyzed in the fear that you do not know what to do other than parent.

You might also be facing the crisis an older person, who has raised a family and a marriage, who has forged their career path with success, yet is wondering what is next. You may not feel entirely fulfilled. You may wonder if there is more.

I’m not an expert, unfortunately. There are still many things I have to learn, and many years of experience that lie before me. But so far, I can tell you this. These fears and doubts that you may have, these things that cause you to question yourself..they will work out. I can’t tell you when. I can’t even promise that they will work out perfectly, or neatly. Life can be messy, and almost never goes according to plan, but I do want you to know this.

Whatever stage of your life you are in, I believe in you. You believe in yourself too, I promise. It may not seem like it right now, but everything you have to conquer the next part of your life is in your hands right now.  And I want you to know this also. What seems like a crisis right now is merely a bump in your road. a63e2705b48b924338ed73f581326bc7

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Why we should stop saying, “I don’t have time for that”

I find myself in the throes of my day often uttering the words, ” I don’t have time for this.” Usually, these words escape from my lips when I am feeling rushed, always feeling as if I am one step behind. As I race to fill cups of milk, feed hungry bodies and pack diaper bags for outings, while finding missing socks and tying shoelaces, I find myself glancing at the clock, watching as minutes tick by in a countdown against me. As I help my children search for their missing shoes, or re-zip their coats, I can hear myself saying yet again, ” I don’t have time for this.” I don’t mean to judge myself, or even my children, so harshly, and yet, by allowing these words to become formulated thoughts, I am doing so.

As I attempted to clean my kitchen today, running our broom over the linoleum floor to sweep up remnants of snacks that my children discarded haphazardly before flitting to their next activity, I heard the thud of the toy container in my children’s room hit the floor. Immediately I knew that my children had tipped over the large blue bucket, it’s contents overflowing with toys strewn about on the carpet. Though the words did not fall from my lips in to the air, I could hear myself thinking the thought.

I don’t have time for this.

So many times before I have allowed myself to think or even to say these words without action.  Today however, I immediately stopped, setting my broom aside, questioning as to why I allow myself to place such restrictions on not only my children, but on myself as a mother as well.

I should be grateful for these moments, I realized, as they are so fleeting. In just a few short years, my children have grown before my eyes, becoming independent individuals with outgoing and feisty personalities. While there may be days in which the messes they create may seem never-ending, and in which they choose the worst moments, typically right before we are about to leave the house, to need to use the restroom or have a meltdown, by restricting them in thinking I don’t have time for normal child like behavior, I am not only robbing my children of the ability to be children, but I am robbing God of the time he is giving me with them.

Our time on Earth is precious and for those who have the incredible gift of being able to raise children, we know that our time with them is short, before they conquer the world with the lessons we have taught them. By saying that I don’t have time for this, whatever this may be in a given moment, I am saying that I am not giving them my full attention, and for that I vow to be a better mother.

Friends, those with children and even those who may not yet have children, is there something in your life that you are currently finding that you feel you may not have time for? Are you allowing yourself to remove value from that person or that particular thing because you feel as if putting in the effort isn’t worthy of your time? I urge you to truly evaluate your actions, for we never fully realize what message we are sending with our thoughts and words.

I pray that you find in these moments, where you feel that your time is being compromised, peace instead, in the knowledge that you are blessed with these memories. Though it may not seem like it at the time, these circumstances will not last forever, and one day we will long for these messes, these tantrums and this insanity.

So for now, when you find yourself thinking, “I don’t have time for this,” think instead…what else do I have time for? f19074cb5cd34db189d52e8ab931cd43