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Why this stay at home mom doesn’t “work”

We do not have a traditional 9 to 5 position. There are no plaques with our names emblazoned on them. We do not have mandated lunch breaks nor opportunities to go to the restroom on our own.

Rather, we have moments caught in time in the hectic nature of our day, slices of our lives where we can find a brief moment to mindlessly check Facebook or attempt to eat a snack before our children request our attention.

Being a mother, for me, is one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had. I will be honest. Prior to having children, I was very selfish and very self centered. If my needs were not met, whether it be by ridiculous clothing or other purchases that would briefly satisfy and then bore me, I would immediately move on to the next thing, with utter disregard for how my actions affected others.

After my first son was born, I was very quickly propelled in to the world of motherhood, and what it meant to care for someone other than myself. Now, instead of thinking about what I would waste my money on next, I was thinking about the ways that I could best parent my child, including making sure he had nice clothing, interactive and educational toys to play with, and comfort in the moments when he was sad or uncomfortable.

Becoming a mother changed my entire perspective on my life, and my sole mission was to ensure that my children were happy and well provided for. I was also blessed with an incredible husband, a wonderful provider who allowed me to act as a stay at home parent for a brief time. However, as life so often does, monetary expenses called me back to the work force, where I would work a 40 hour per week position to make sure my children were loved and well cared for.

Yet, at the end of these long days, as I dropped in to the nearest chair in utter exhaustion, my children asking for my attention and energy that I no longer had, I knew that it was not where I wanted to be. I wanted to be with my children, and for nearly two years I fought the struggle of my head versus my heart as I watched their faces fall a little less each day at drop off, leaving them alone for 8 hours while they grew before someone else’s eyes.

As fate would have it, or life rather, last year I became very ill, and the extent of my medical issues forced me to choose between my career and my children.  I was concerned, as I’m sure everyone likely would be, about how this choice would affect our financial status and overall flow of income. However, as my husband assured me, we would be okay. He wanted me to be happy, and what brought me the greatest joy, more than anything else in life other than our marriage, was being a mom and being with my children.

For this reason, I am now beyond blessed to be on this journey of stay at home motherhood for a second time. I am blessed because I know that so many others would like to be in my position and are unable to do so. I myself, was the woman on the other side looking in, the working mother at one point, and I believe they make the ultimate sacrifice. It is so difficult to miss moments, and full portions of your children’s lives when work calls you away, but you have to work to provide for your family. It is the ultimate and most beautiful sacrifice and I applaud all working mothers.

Stay at home mothers are my heroes as well. Each day, we provide our full selves in to making sure that our children are fed, played with, well cared for and become productive adults. We balance motherhood and our households, and all too often, we feel the mom guilt, whether it lie in the fact that we are not bringing in an additional income, or wondering if our reaction to a situation or event during the day permanently scarred our children.

Yes, my children, like many others, often test my patience, and know how to stretch their boundaries. I still crave those few minutes and even hours of alone time at the end of the day, but for a mom who for so long was away from her children and missed out on those pivotal moments in her boys’ lives, I wouldn’t consider what I do work. I am just loving my boys, and that to me, isn’t a job at all.12191871_494146820763890_7196711488962849796_n.jpg

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What dreams are made of

Certainly we have heard of the technical aspects regarding dreams.  Dreams have been described as the collection of our subconscious thoughts, those pieces of information we gather during the day that on the grand scale of our lives become categorized away, only presenting themselves when we are restfully asleep.  And so, dreams become merely explanations, easily dismissed as a collection of thoughts that really mean..well, nothing.

But when does a dream become less a collection of thoughts, and more a message from God?

I suppose, in part, that the way in which we determine whether a dream is just a “dream” or is a calling depends on our faith base. Our foundation for determining what happens to us likely classifies our dreams as well.

This morning, I woke up from an incredibly vivid dream, and felt unsettled, yet at the same time, oddly comforted by what my dream had involved.  In one particular portion, the words, “Live by His will, and understand His grace” were revealed to me. Surely that was not just a collection of my thoughts, right? I do pray daily, and multiple times per day, so His words and teachings are definitely on my mind..but a message like this just felt….

BIGGER.

Have you ever had an experience that occurred, and after you were left in awe by it, unable to explain how you felt, other than to say that you were moved?

This dream felt that way.

It felt so big, and so real that to describe it in any other way would be to do it a disservice. It was so unsettling, in fact, that to even speak of it would feel as if I were jinxing what I was told would be set to happen.

So for now I wonder.

At what point does a dream become something more?

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I am not his secretary

I love my husband very much, and as his wife I enjoy doing things for him that help to ease the burden of his day. Whether this be preparing his favorite dinner, allowing him to relax after a particularly grueling day, or even purchasing an item I know he enjoys eating on an impromptu run to the store, I enjoy doing these things for my husband, because he is not only the father of our children but my partner in life.

However, there is one thing that I have found to be an annoyance in our marriage, and it does not stem from him at all. In fact, it doesn’t affect our marriage at all, and yet, it does.

Confused? I am too, to an extent.

My husband and I have known one another for the better part of our twenties. During this time, we have both established lasting friendships, and many of his friends are my friends. I know their likes, dislikes and romantic partners. I have been to their weddings, met their girlfriends over dinner or drinks. As partners, we not only share a mutual love for each other..we share the same group.

On several occasions I have found myself in a position..and perhaps you have too. A position where I am asked a question, or a comment is made to me, about my husband, one which is likely intended for his ears..but I am expected to pass it along to him.

I understand the logic behind this. I certainly do. After all, we are married, and who sees him most often? Of course, me. But at the same time, in a world driven by technological advances that allow us to speak to each other through live video chat, without ever leaving the comfort of our own homes, for example, I suppose I don’t understand why these people cannot speak to him directly.

I know this may sound negative, and that is certainly not my intention. I do love my husband’s friends and I treat them with the same level of respect that I would expect from my husband if the roles were reversed. However, I find myself wondering, when I receive another instant message or even a text message from a mutual friend stating, “Can you let your husband know,” a minor sense of annoyance creeping in. The reason for the annoyance is stemmed in the fact that these people are purposely avoiding contacting him, and going through myself instead.

I suppose I may be making more of these occurrences that need be. However, if you are not a family member who cannot get ahold of my husband, and have a legitimate concern regarding the nature of our family, I do not understand the need to treat me a buffer of sorts. I am certain that I likely speak for others when I state that no one is comfortable with being placed in the middle of situations where they clearly do not belong.

So friends, I ask, and I extend these words not only to our close friends, but to anyone who finds themselves in the same position, whether the buffer or the friend putting another person in the middle…please consider who you speak with before you ask.

Because of course, when you call…I hope you want to talk to me…and are not just leaving a message for the secretary. 1d7cc8caf4498348c09cb3a9bd411227

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It’s not scary..when you turn the light on

Red. White. Blue. Brown, gray and orange. Articles of clothing carefully landed in their designated piles as I evaluated how I could condense these items in to smaller loads, carefully making certain to avoid placing a red item in the white pile. As I meticulously unloaded the laundry baskets before me, I heard two high pitched shrieks intensifying in volume as they neared me. My boys love to scream when playing, and while other parents would instantly rush to their children’s sides, I knew by the nature of these shrieks that my sons were engaging in another high volume game.

I was certainly surprised when my two little boys, pint sized versions of my husband and myself respectively, stood before me, their blonde hair sparkling with perspiration and their hazel eyes wide with fear. As my toddler glanced at his brother, words tumbled from my six year old like a faucet that had been turned on too rapidly, a series of letters falling from his lips in to my ears.

“The bathroom mirror is SCARY” he whispered, his brother nodding in affirmation. My toddler pointed to the bathroom directly across the hallway from our laundry room, within my viewing distance. The light in the bathroom was currently off, casting the area in shadows and from a child’s perspective, paralyzing fear.

I knelt to be at equal height with my boys, gazing in to each of their faces intently as I asked, my voice softened to soothe their anxiety, “What’s so scary about it bud?”

In complete seriousness, my six year old looked at me and stated, “There are monsters. It’s scary, and it’s dark, and it looks like that creepy movie.” He didn’t remember which movie had inspired him to be terrified of dark spaces, but he was convinced that our bathroom was now the subject of that scary movie.

I looked at him, and then his brother, both overcome by the fear that the darkness had inspired, and then grabbed each of their hands. We stood, and I brought them to the bathroom, feeling as their bodies noticeably trembled through their hands. I let go for a moment, moving the light switch to an on position and we watched as light flooded the room. ” See guys? There’s nothing to be afraid of. It’s not scary, when the light is on.” I then pointed out the many objects that could take on a different form when shadowed, and the boys nodded, their bodies easing as we discussed how light can alter our perception.

I think sometimes, that even as adults, we are transformed in to the children of our past, paralyzed by the fear of new situations and terrified of the darkness. Perhaps an event within our life has caused us to become negative, and we have become so engulfed in the dark feelings that this event produces that we forget to turn on the light. We see the objects of our lives masked in the shadows of disappointment, or stress, or negativity, and we forget that in the light of day, these very same objects take on a different form.

Life does not come equipped with a manual, or a clear destination. We are constantly finding our way through our journey, facing disappointment and other obstacles as we write the story of our lives. But on these travels, if we stop for too long to dwell on the ways in which life did not go as planned, we can be terrified, like my children, stopped by the fear of the unknown.

I urge you friends, to focus on those positive aspects of your life that make the negative portions more dim. Whenever the fear overwhelms you, friend, don’t forget to turn on the light.

It’s not as scary there.

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The Break Up

I truly believe that the most difficult of break ups is not the romantic type, but the friendship break up.

You see, friendships are just…different.

In your heart, when in the beginning of a new romantic partnership, you are weighing your emotions against your experiences with the person you choose to spend the bulk of your time with, ultimately deciding if they are going to be the person with whom you spend the rest of your mornings..your life with.

Friendships are like that, in a sense.

But friendships are different, because the best of friends, those not tied to you by romantic intentions, are the people you truly share your most intimate selves with. Your friends have seen you at your absolute worst, both physically and emotionally. Your friends have comforted you during the storms of your life that left you questioning if you could carry on. Your friends celebrated in genuine delight with you when the storms ceased and wonderful opportunities came your way. And while you felt that the changes that naturally come with life could change your friendship, they never did. Because your friendship was strong enough to withstand absolutely anything that came it’s way.

Or so you thought.

Because unlike a romantic relationship, that could easily dissolve if both parties determined that the relationship was not beneficial to them, a friendship takes far longer to get over. Your friends are the people with whom you have chosen to invest your time. Your energy, emotions and heart are poured in to the friendship, and while similar to a relationship in that way, when a friend breaks your heart, especially sudden, the trauma can seem overwhelming.

I have had two friendship break ups in my life. Each person was crucial, during the journey of my life, to aiding me in navigating the uncertainty of my future. With these friends I shared some of the most intimate moments and discussions. One friend, in particular, was someone whom I had known for years, spending most of my adult life sharing major experiences, such as college and our transition in to the corporate world, together. We were close, and the fact that we were able to see one another every day as we were both employed by the same company, not only magnified our friendship, but strengthened our common bond.

Ultimately, life would guide me in a different direction, and this very literal shift in our dynamic affected our friendship as well. As we no longer saw each other daily, and no longer had the same interest at heart, our friendship quickly dissolved. I found, a short time later, that this person had allowed even a social networking site to define our former friendship, in the manner of an immediate “friend” deletion.

Another, sudden and swift friendship break up occurred in a rather similar manner. Like the first friend, this person and I shared a long history that spanned years. With this friend, I felt as if I could be my most raw and honest self, sharing opinions and emotions with them that I was even hesitant to share with my husband, as I was not sure how he would feel about them. When the single most devastating event to occur in my life thus far happened, she was there for me. This friend listened as I struggled with my faith, and she always had a kind word to offer. Any struggle that she faced I would reciprocate, sharing with her the words of wisdom I had available, my foremost intention to always protect and encourage my friend.

I’m not certain when I went wrong, or where. But I recall the night before she stopped being my friend. Like many other days preceding it, we had discussed the daily nuances of our lives, sharing our inner most feelings and silly comics guaranteed to make us chuckle. I sent her one that I found particularly funny, and we laughed in agreement. I fell to sleep that night, exhaustion weighing heavily in my bones as another long day wound to a close, and with my phone on vibrate, as is my nightly ritual to produce the most comfortable sleep I can achieve with small children in the house, I missed one of the messages she sent me. I awoke the next morning, to a notification on my phone, a simple message with a comic and her commentary following. When I hit the message window to reply to her, I received this message “We’re sorry, but this person isn’t currently accepting messages from you.” I had been friendship blocked.

Again, without warning, and again, so suddenly, a friendship had dissolved before my eyes with little explanation as to why.

Both of these friend break ups were difficult to understand at first, and I wondered if I were the problem, the common denominator in the dissolution of these important relationships. For many months thereafter, I would blame myself, wondering what I had done wrong, knowing that I would never receive the answers I desperately sought.

Yet now, I know.

God shapes us in our constant and ever changing walk through life. As we change, as we are transformed by our experiences, so too do our friendships change. Some friendships are strengthened and some bonds become even tighter, while others are doomed to fail. It is not the fault of either party when they do, as often, a lesson that only perspective has taught me, these relationships were flawed from the beginning. When trials test either party, if the flaws are too great, and the friendship will not succeed.

I do find myself missing these former friends at times. I certainly still wonder where the winds of their lives have drawn them too. I wonder if they are happy, and if they are doing well.  I am, and I will always be this person, the one who cares with her entire heart. And though it is painful and bittersweet, when I find myself missing them in these moments, I remind myself that I have to let them go. It is okay to move on, to create a better person in myself, even if that means I have to leave others behind.

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A reminder that you are worthy-a letter to a boy I’ve never met

I have never met you, but I know your name, and I have heard your story. We have never had the opportunity to speak to one another, and I find that you have already left an impression on my heart. I am writing you this letter because I have stood where you currently rest, and I want to remind you that even if it feels like you are alone in your struggle, someone on the other side of the globe is thinking about and praying for you.

My letter, to you, the boy I have never met who has left his mark on my heart.

By traditional standards, I am not considered beautiful. There are physical aspects of myself I have always wished to change. Ways that I would internally criticize myself, and markers which I would use to base myself against my peers, confirming my internal dialogue that I was not friendly, nor smart, witty nor outgoing enough. I would judge my height, a reminder that I would never be tall enough to play volleyball, or be a model. I was too short, my voice was too high pitched. My eyes were too brown. The list of my flawed features read longer than a grocery store receipt, and I was disappointed in myself.

I never felt as if I measured up.

Being a teenager is difficult. Navigating the mounting responsibilities of impending adulthood can be overwhelming, and can be even more stressful when you are battling yourself as well. Feeling as though you must be the perfect son, the perfect student, the perfect brother…it can all weigh heavy upon your heart when your heart is already incredibly conflicted.

Right now, as you stand in front of a mirror and criticize your reflection, you are likely measuring every negative. You are pointing out the flaws that seem to be so glaringly obvious to you, but invisible to everyone else. You see the exhaustion in your eyes. You are tired. Tired of feeling this way, and tired of the physical toll this is taking upon your body.

I want you to know this, and every time that you begin to doubt yourself, I want you to look back on these words and remember this incredible truth about your life.

You are so worthy. God created you in His image because there is no one like you upon the entire planet, and He knew that your presence, your personality and your physical presence, was needed on the Earth. He knew how much joy you would bring your family, especially your mother, and He knew that you were going to be the perfect role model for your brother. The same things which feel so overwhelming, which you feel like you are drowning under, are the things he created you for. And I promise, that you are not letting anyone down.

You are loved, and you make such a difference in the world. Right now, you may not realize it, but someone thousands of miles away is thinking about you. You are touching that person’s life (mine), and you are changing me for the better.

I know life is hard. I’m nearing 30, and I still question and doubt myself. I still criticize my appearance occasionally, and judge my physical imperfections. I still doubt my choice in outfit, mood, hairstyle.

But I am reminded, in the moments when I doubt myself the most, that God created me to serve a purpose on this Earth. Whatever I consider flaws, he considers perfect. He wouldn’t have me any other way, because in His eyes I am exactly who I am supposed to be. And he feels the same way about you.

So dear boy I’ve never met, I hope after reading this, you know just how much you mean to me.

I hope to meet you some day.

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The power of your presence

I sat for the first time that day, knowing the break would be short and likely interrupted at a moment’s notice for me to fulfill a request..or refill a cup of milk. As I spent those few moments of rest gathering my composure and energy for the next round of duties that day, I briefly retrieved my smartphone from it’s resting place securely fastened in to the charger, and pressed the familiar blue F, impatiently waiting as the application loaded, the moments and fragments of my friends’ lives that they had chosen to share populating my screen at once. As I numbing scrolled through the vast array of pictures, shared articles and status updates, I came upon her status. I’m not certain why that particular status stood out amongst the others, and yet I felt called to read it, digesting each word as I could read her emotions poured across the screen.

Instantly, I felt my heart break for her..because I had been her. The very position she stood in her life currently was where I stood one year ago, questioning everything. My self. My faith. My circumstances. It felt as if the weight of the world rested upon my shoulders alone, and in a world that was determined to test my strength, remaining positive felt nearly impossible.

Perhaps that is why her status called to me on that day.

In spite of the circumstances she has been through, situations that would crush others under their depth and frequency, she rises above. She never complains, nor becomes angry. Even when the storm seems to be striking her the hardest, battering her sails, she still floats, a true reminder of how remarkably a positive attitude can shape a person.

We met for the first time in high school, and while we were not close in those short (yet to someone who absolutely dreaded high school, seemingly the longest 4 years of my life) she made an impact on everyone she encountered, including myself. She always graced the halls with a smile on her face, an infectious ray of energy that made her one of the most popular members of our graduating class.

I ran in to her a few years later, at a clothing store where I was working to gain more experience before applying for corporate jobs. I’m not certain of where her journey had carried her in the years between high school and this meeting, but she accepted me instantly, embracing me in a hug not because it was expected but because she was, and still is, completely genuine. I was honestly surprised that she had recognized me (after all, I was the second runner up for “most quiet” ) in our senior yearbook highlight reel, and made it my purpose not to draw attention to myself, but still she treated me as she would one of her best friends, engaging me in conversation and making me feel welcome.

We are friends on social media, and that is how I was able to come across her status on that day. Throughout the years, I have seen the circumstances of her life bring her to a man who would later cause unimaginable hurt..what seemed like the worst devastation at the time, and looking back now, was an incredible blessing for her. She has met the love of her life, a truly wonderful man who, through my brief social media interactions, has treated me like one of his own friends, and together they have created a beautiful life and a gorgeous family.

Life is testing her now, and I know from my perspective, a year later, how in the moment everything can feel very overwhelming. Under the weight of constant negativity, it’s hard to see what the lesson is, or why situations are occurring in the time and order that they are. I know that she must have these questions too.

In spite of everything happening to her, she remains positive. She is such an inspiration in the way she carries herself, especially in times of trial. And friend? Through her I am learning what it is like to treat every day as a new opportunity to rise to the occasion.

As we navigate the paths of our lives, especially in a social media age, we are very much unaware of what our impact is on others, or how the words we speak on a computer screen affect those who are reading them. But across the state, or across the globe, our friends are logging in to their social media pages, and they are reading. They are noticing every action you make, every word you type.

You are making an impact, whether you realize it or not.

Friend, I encourage you to make it a good one.

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