Monthly Archives: August 2013

Just Enough Light

I shuddered a bit last night as I snuggled my baby in her rocking chair. Her night light had burned out the night before, so it was extra dark right after walking in there from the lit up half of the house.

As I swayed in the chair with a content and sleepy baby, I felt the weight of the darkness for a minute. It’s been one of those weeks where the darkness of this world has made its presence known in an overwhelming way. From news headlines to personal trials, from brokenhearted friends to those searching for love, it’s been a week laden with reminders that the enemy is very much at work. There’s a war waging around us, and some of its battles seem bleak and devastating.

I closed my eyes and prayed for a minute, the oppression almost more than I could bear. When I opened my eyes, He showed me something worth holding onto. Glimmers of light were beginning to become more evident as my eyes began to adjust to my surroundings. No longer was I sitting in staggering darkness, though nothing about my surroundings had actually changed.

Instead, God made my eyes able to behold just enough of His light to have hope. Just enough light to see what  I needed to see to accomplish what was necessary at that time. Because if I’m honest, it’s easy for my wandering mind to get distracted when I am in bright places in my life, and sometimes God uses darkness to remind me that He is actually there. And I need to see His light in the darkness so I can regain a healthy perspective.

Light

Praying for many sweet people today who are going through hard times. Can I pray for you, too? Please send me your prayer requests! My email is kwesterf@gmail.com.

 

4 Year Old Theology

Here are some of the things that made me laugh this week. I hope you get a smile or chuckle from these thoughts out of the mouth of my sage little preschooler.

Does anyone else find it a strange coincidence that kids get extra philosophical at bed time? Bed time is also the one time every day where my son will willingly beg to drink water without me giving him a lecture about how it’s healthy and important. I will spend all day long plotting ways I can humanely force water down that kid’s throat, but when it comes time for him to go to sleep, he must have fresh water so he can, and I quote, “Be healthy, Mom!” Oh, but I have majorly digressed.

Bed time also seems to bring out the spiritual side in Dash. After four years, we are starting to see some real progress in his knowledge and understanding of God and the Bible. Here are some words of wisdom from our little theologian. 🙂

This week’s theme was mostly heaven-based.

Conversation 1: The initial question he asked was something about how we go to heaven. We’ve talked about this one before, but that night he wanted to know specifically what part of us goes to heaven. I try my best to be honest and on his level, so I explained that there’s a part of us inside our bodies called our spirits and that was the part that goes to heaven to live with God. From there on, we only got deeper. 😉

Dash: “Mom, if our hearts are the parts of us that go to heaven, then where do they live?”
Me: “We get brand new bodies for them to live in that are even more awesome than the ones we have on earth.”
Dash: “Us get new bodies?!?”
Me: “Yep!”
With a very thoughtful look on his face, he pauses for a second as if trying to take it all in.
Dash: Will we have bottoms on our new bodies?

Conversation 2 (A couple of nights later): He brought up the topic of heaven again. He was excited at the thought of new bodies and seeing God. We continued dialoguing for several minutes about what heaven is like, and pride for my sweet little boy’s excitement on this topic kept swelling up in my mama heart.

Then the conversation took a turn in a direction I didn’t see coming.

Dash: “Mom, heaven is orange!”
Me: “Heaven is orange, huh?”
Dash: “Yeah.”
Me: “What makes you say that?
Dash: “Because the dinosaur on my pillow case is orange.”

And then we were done with that conversation because I needed desperately to go in the other room so I could laugh my head off.

Conversation 3:

The other night, in his play time, the blanket found itself draped over one shoulder so that it appeared he was wearing a sash. He looked down, noticed the position of the blanket and exclaimed with a great deal of excitement over his unplanned wardrobe change, “Mom! Me look like Jesus!”

4 Year Old Theology

Conversation 4:

After class in church tonight, Dash proudly carried his fruit of the spirit color sheet to the car and informed me he had a great night at church.

Me: “That’s awesome! What did you learn about the fruits of the spirit?”
Dash: “Be kind and eat fruit and it will help your headache go away.”

None of us are ever done learning about God. I’m finding it incredibly refreshing to listen to a four-year-old sort through the facts that he’s learned so far in his short life and draw some funny conclusions while he grows. I hope you enjoyed them, too.

 

 

 

A Back-to-School Letter to Stay-at-Home Moms

Dear SAHM,

This time of year can be a bit awkward for us, can’t it? We see all of our teacher friends going back to school with big plans of changing the world while we go through the mundane routine of taking care of babies. It’s hard to know what to do with all of those mixed emotions, knowing that the working moms out there are envious and perhaps we are feeling a little envy ourselves. Then we see all of the pictures of big kids going to school from moms who have gone before us and we feel that sad reality strike home that our time at home is actually very short.

I remember well my first back-to-school season as a stay at home mom four years ago. I spent a lot of that time at home, probably in my pajamas and definitely in tears as I held my six-week-old firstborn. Up to that point, back-to-school was something I had always done as a student and then a teacher, but now I wasn’t sure what the months ahead would hold.

August 2009 was a far cry from what I’d grown accustomed to. This year I didn’t sit through in-service meetings, receive a new school t-shirt, or hear at least seven inspirational speeches about the greatness of teachers. Instead, I nursed a newborn, cleaned up spit-up, felt like a failure because cloth diapering was not working for me, and wished so much that I could just have a full night of sleep.

Perhaps it wasn’t such a far cry after all. True, the students and situations looked a lot different, but the principles are the same.

Having been a teacher, I can testify – it’s a challenging job! There is no way that all of the needs and demands that come with the paycheck even out. A teacher’s job is never, ever done: there’s always something more you could be doing, kids who need more of you than you can give, some strategy you haven’t mastered, discipline issues that have you stumped, and unmet expectations.

Being a stay-at-home mom is also an extremely challenging job. There are those who haven’t done it who don’t get it. They think that not getting up and going to a place of business every day is as much of a cake walk as the “time off” teachers get in the summer. I’m not saying there aren’t some great perks to staying home, but there are more difficulties than most realize as well.

The isolation that comes with living day in and day out with little people can be maddening sometimes. Sure, there are mom groups and play dates, but we aren’t staying home to hang out with other moms. We are making our full-time job child care and training. Sometimes that includes others, as it should, but there is a lot more time where it’s just you and your little one(s), which is equally necessary.

No, we don’t have a boss telling us that hanging out on social media or talking on our phones all day is not okay, but we have children who need us to have free hands so we can care for them, play with them, and teach them priorities who unknowingly expect the same thing.

There’s the reality of one income that sets in with more reality each year you stay home. We don’t talk about how painful this one is much, because we know it’s our choice to be in this financial situation, but there are stressful financial seasons for all of us. Sometimes we wear t-shirts, yoga pants, and pony tails, not because we are lazy and have chosen to let ourselves go, but because we’ve accepted that paying bills is more important than cute outfits and hair styles.

Oh, and having a clean house all of the time? That’s a myth.The truth is, you and your kids are living in your house all day, every day. No janitor comes around and cleans your classroom after you’re done for the day. You are the janitor as well as the mess maker, and your little students find mess making to be their point of expertise.

Now that we’ve pointed out a few of the challenges that come with this job, let’s end on a happy note, shall we?

The thing is, I am living out my dream right now. I have aspired to be a stay-at-home mom my whole life. It’s something I feel called to do, and if there’s one thing I learned in my teaching days, it’s that we will be miserable unless we are fulfilling our calling.

So, much like a teacher begins a school year with bright eyes and big plans, I believe this is a good time for us moms to do the same thing.We need a time to approach our calling with a fresh perspective, hopes, and dreams. Here are some truths to help get your focus back where it needs to be.

1.  The greater the dream, the bigger the pain and sacrifice we must endure to make it happen. If staying home with your kids is your dream, and you have the support of your husband, it is usually possible. No, it will not be easy. You will have mom guilt, second guess yourself, and exchange carefree shopping days at the mall with bargain hunting at the grocery store, but it will all be worth it deep within your heart.

2. Be a part of a community. Honestly, it’s hard work to do this when your kids sabotage phone calls and some days you don’t have a vehicle to get places, but having quality friends is essential. I am passionate enough about this one, I wrote a book about it.

3. Don’t forget that you are a teacher. Adopt your favorite teacher quote and make it your mantra. Be in it for the outcome, not the income; make a difference in tomorrow by teaching our future; be the change you want to see in the world – you get the idea. Live each day on purpose. Train your students to be confident, independent, invaluable contributors to society.

4. Remember your mission. At the beginning of each school year, our superintendent revisited our district’s mission statement. So what’s your mission? You already know you’ve been given a gift to be home with your kids, so don’t waste it! Inspire. Create. Learn together. Enjoy today – you already know it goes by too quickly.

Me + kids

 

8 Thoughts from this Week

I’m not feeling a creative vibe tonight, but I really want to write anyway, so here are some thoughts in a nice, neat list…or something like that.

1. Naps are a gift, not a right. Somewhere along the way, moms have gotten it in their heads that we are entitled to a couple of hours of me time every day. This is a myth, and I used to believe it. When it works out, praise Jesus and enjoy yourself, but getting frustrated about it only wastes your energy (Trust me, I’ve tried many times). Also, I’d like to apologize to any mom I might have invoked feelings of animosity in when I unknowingly made comments about Dash being a good sleeper when he was a baby and toddler. I now consider 30 minutes an amazing length for a baby to nap and 6 hours straight at night? Miraculous!

2. You may very well be meant to do something great, but it doesn’t mean you’re meant to do it today. We all need to dream, and dream big while we’re at it, but don’t live in the dream if right now your task is to prepare to live it. Enjoy today and its mundane, simple pleasures. Your time will come.

3. I have wonderful friends who write, say, and live out beautiful truths. I love reading posts like this one at just the right time. If you’re a mom to little ones, be sure to read Jen’s letter to her older self!!!

4. Writers and bloggers aren’t necessarily 100% the same thing. Writers can have blogs, but they don’t have to follow all of the “shoulds” that constantly change and demand more than is reasonable. I loved this post today. I’ve learned the truth behind Amy’s words the hard way, and I love the peace that comes from being true to myself without having to worry if I’m doing everything the “right” way.

5. The sun came out for a while today! We’ve had an insane amount of rain lately, and while I don’t like the flooding, I haven’t minded it all that much. Today I started feeling that “I’m over it” feeling, and God was kind enough to give us some beautiful sunshine so we could soak in Vitamin D and enjoy fresh air.

6. Purging is good for the soul. All of the rainy days have forced me to take notice of the closets that have been piling up and losing order in this humble house of ours. I’ve decided to have a garage sale next weekend as a result of all my cleaning. I’m feeling a bit crazy for doing it, but I know it will be a good thing once it’s all said and done. Now who wants to buy a high chair?

7. I hate pictures of myself. As long as I’m not seeing how I actually look, I can still pretend like I look the same way I did 5 years ago. My body embraces baby weight even when my mind abhors it, and as much as I’ve tried to find a way to consistently work out, I haven’t gotten into a groove yet. There’s a war out in this world over body image, and I feel challenged and encouraged every time I read articles like this one and the half dozen others floating around social media right now. I want to reach a place where I always work out with the motivation of being healthy so I can be a good mom for me kids, not because I’m stressed out because I haven’t reached pre-pregnancy sizes.

8. I’ve been working on being in front of the camera more lately. The above statement being made, I’ve been trying to include my picture more often in the plethora of photos I take every day of my family. Nicolette really got me to thinking about this with her Focus on Mom challenge. The thing is, my kids adore me regardless of whether or not I have make-up on or my hair fixed. We laugh together every day, and someday, when they’re older and want to look back at pictures from their childhood, I want them to see me, too. The imperfect mama who cherished this sweet, short time in their lives when they were too little to remember all of the details of what made our days happy. If you’re into sharing pictures on social media, I’ll extend the challenge to you as well! The fifteenth of every month, share your pictures of you with the hashtag #focusonmom. 

Oh, and because I’m a proud mama, here’s an adorable picture of my littles. My sister knows how to get them to smile for the camera!

Kids Water Mark

 

 

Love & Marriage: The Non-Fairy Tale Version

This past weekend, one of my dearest friends got married. The story leading up to her wedding day is incredible. She waited a very long time for God’s perfect match for her, and He gave her just that. I wanted so badly to be there to witness the sheer joy on her face because I knew most all of the story. We were single young women, speculating and crying together over loves that would not be. We knew the details of each crush and listened to the other swoon when the she found true love.

This is her time, and while I couldn’t actually be physically present to watch her rightfully bask in the fruits of waiting for God’s perfect timing, I have loved hearing every detail I could from the first time her now-husband sent flowers a half year ago until now.

On the day that she exchanged her vows, I stayed home with my kids and their snotty noses while my husband was at church camp for the weekend. Hundreds of miles away, she donned her white dress and radiated a beauty that can only come from a bride in love while I threw my hair in a pony tail and sighed at the sight of dark circles under my eyes.

I won’t lie. I was disappointed when the funds for a plane ticket never miraculously appeared so I could be a part of her wedding. I’d have much rather been posing for pictures in a bridesmaid dress instead of nursing my summer cold with two kids demanding my attention. But God showed me that I needed to focus on my life’s current chapter rather than fantasizing of fairy tales like we women like to do when we’re at weddings.

We tend to lose sight of the beautiful thing we have in a good marriage as we sigh over the romance in the dramatic airport declarations of love from the movies (See Lisa-Jo’s post about this here. It’s a good one!) In reality, that rarely happens.

In fact, I lived through a dramatic airport scene, but it involved getting thoroughly dumped with the guy driving off into the sunset without looking back twice. Take it from me, the fairy tales aren’t worth dreaming about. The Godly men of character, on the other hand, are worth every laughable chick flick misstep.

So I got engaged in a parking lot. But it was to a man who woke up Christmas morning in a cold, empty dorm room so he could spend the day with me after saving up all of his money to buy me a gorgeous ring.

I haven’t had a so much as a weekend away with my husband in 5 years, but I have a husband who supports me living my dream of being a stay-at-home mom by working hard and going without a lot of things so we can do what we believe is the right thing for our family.

Instead of getting roses randomly delivered to my doorstep from the love of my life, I get a man who has already taught my four year old how to pick wild flowers for me and daily proves that he values spending time with his family. As a bonus, he even cleans up the kitchen after I make dinner!

If I focus on the fairy tale version of what happily ever after looks like, I’d be quick to bemoan the fact that my newlywed season is over. But I’ve grown to chuckle more and more at the whole dramatic airport scenario society deems romantic. Airports are dirty, noisy, and far from cozy, so let it go ladies!

Vows1

Love is not having to feel less loved when you have extreme bed head and are in desperate need of a shower.

Love is having the man who has promised to care for you in sickness actually doing it even at the cost of getting sick himself.

Love is enduring hardships together and finally getting to a mutual place of feeling hope because God’s gotten you through enough difficulties together thus far.

It’s feeling loss together and bringing children into the world together.

It’s being met with a hug when you’ve succeeded and the same hug when you’ve failed.

It’s forgiving and choosing to remember no more.

Love is taking over the bedtime routine when son and mom’s heads collide and mom gets distracted with her first bloody nose.

I may not have been able to attend my precious friend’s wedding last weekend, but I could happily wish her well because as much as I wanted her to have a wonderful wedding day, I can’t wait for her to experience what ever after does to grow their love. The day-to-day that turns into year after year – that is the truly beautiful part of love and marriage, and it’s greater than any fairy-tale version.

Here’s another great post I read about marriage this week as I was cooking up the one I just wrote. It’s worth reading, too!