Saturday, August 4, 2018

Hey you, Judgey McJudgerson!

This weekend has been rough. Which is probably embarrassing to admit since its only 3pm on Saturday.
My children have made it their mission to master the art of not listening and tantrum throwing in only a day and a half.

Now if you have kids i am sure you all have been there one time or another. The children just don't want to listen to anything you are saying. They are running around or talking back or crying for one reason or another.
In the comfort of our own home where we  can scream our heads off   can direct our children, it doesn't feel AS overwhelming. I mean.. yes it is still exhausting but then we can sit and wipe away the tears (theirs and our own) without eyes staring into our souls.

 Its when we are in public is when we die just a little bit inside.

Yesterday I was on the receiving end of those stares. 

I had to "run" to the store for a few items (Is there even a "running to the store" with younger children?). I walked into that store not even remotely expecting what would happen in the fifteen minutes i was in that building.
My oldest decided that it was gonna "be cool" to walk backwards... almost getting hit by a cart. While my youngest was darting his way through the aisles... almost getting hit by a cart.
I told them both to either hold my hand or hold each other's hands and they let out the biggest whine/cry i have ever heard. I shuttered and so did aisle 7.
I grabbed my five items and we headed to the check out lane. And i have no idea what devils design the stores but WHY do they set up ridiculously expensive toys right at check out? I mean.. i know why but please have mercy on us.
The boys decided it was absolutely ESSENTIAL that they have the $6 cheapo cars... but momma is balling on a budget and that was not on the list. I calmly told them that they were not going to be getting those today. I did not even finish my sentence before  my oldest dropped to the ground and started crying.
Luckily my youngest is easily distracted and he got oddly excited about the little table that pulled out at check out. So he kept pulling it out over and over again hitting me in the leg twice. And of course that inspired his greatest hits and so he decided to sing AT THE TOP OF HIS LUNGS. So loud i could barely hear the worker telling me the amount i owe.
I literally could feel the entire store staring and whispering. Nobody would say anything directly to me but i could hear the hushes and the dirty looks.
Finally it was time to leave, which should have brought me a relief... but it wasnt enough for my boys to misbehave in the store. Oh no... we have to make a show for everyone arriving to that store.
My youngest refused to get into the car and was screaming and crying. I had to force him down, as if he was a crocodile, to buckle him up. So many people just watched and i felt like a monkey in the zoo... but like they were watching me because of the wrong things i was doing and not for entertainment.
He cried the entire ride home.
And so did i.

So if you are a parent of younger children... you probably can relate. If you have kids who are a little older... you can probably remember.

I felt defeated and deflated.

And mostly... embarrassed.

All of those people were clearly judging my boys, judging me, judging my parenting, and probably judging how i handled the situation.

When i got home and my boys were all happy again and playing i vented to my amazing online community about this horrifying event. I just wanted to have someone who could tell me i wasn't alone and ask for advice for the future (consensus was to put them in the cart!)
One momma said this: "They don't know anything about your life, struggles, worries, or all the great moments, all they see is the current situation."

I hear often when we are talking about others judging that they don't know our struggles. They don't know that your child may have sensory issues or is autistic. They don't know that your child didn't take a nap that day or that your baby is teething. They don't know that your son is having separation anxiety because you are currently going through a divorce and learning to split time for the first time. They don't know that your daughter is more sensitive then some and is upset that she lost her toy. They don't know that your little one has so much energy and just wants to run.

But you know what else they don't see and know?

They don't see your child loving on their pets when they are home. They don't know that your child really loves to dance and it brings them joy. They don't know that your son is empathetic and caring or that your daughter just learned to say her ABCs. They don't know that you just walked away from a toxic relationship to better the lives of your children. They don't know that your kids use their manners at home and asked to be excused from the table. They don't see that. They just see the current state of our children.

Those people didn't see my youngest say "you're beautiful mommy" while giving me a hug earlier that day. They didn't see my oldest singing Tauren Wells 'Known' just moments before we walked in the store ( The lyrics say "I am fully known and loved by You.)
Those people don't know that my oldest is a thinker and a people watcher. They don't know that my youngest is fearless.

They. Dont. Know. 

So hey you, Judgey McJudgerson, staring at the kid at the store, air plane, hair salon, library, movie theater, etc. Remember that you don't know what the kid is going through or what an amazing, sweet, smart, kind, and wonderful child they are!
Extend some grace, will ya?
Plus... you're only gonna have to deal with it for a little while... momma is gonna get in the car and still be dealing with it. So send her a smile and some prayers too.

tantrums and love,

Saturday, July 28, 2018

some thoughts on guarding your heart

Guard your heart  for it is the well spring of life. - Proverbs 4:23

I know this biblical truth.
I understand it in my head and I believe it in my heart.

But... how to apply it practically -- I've got nothing.

Now that I am in this dating scene this whole concept of  "guarding your heart" has taken a new role and meaning.
I know I should want to go into things with no expectations. Not get my hopes up. Enjoy it for what it is.

But you know how that makes me my feelings are bad. That having hope is wrong. And that intention should be thrown out because we have zero expectations.

Not fair.

Where is the line in having hope for more and going into a situation expecting nothing?
Because sorry.... expecting nothing is not going to get me out of my messy bun and yoga pants for the day. I will just not waste my make up and enjoy some Gilmore Girls in the comfort of my home if I am going to get the same results.

I understand being cautious.
And i do think that it isn't wise to go into every date thinking you will meet your spouse. I mean, how exhausting would that be for our minds and hearts?
But is it bad to have some hope for a future with someone?
It just feels so strange to push away our feelings for the sake of keeping our hearts guarded.
Do we keep our hearts closed off?
Relationships come down to a pro/con list as we all search for our unicorn? We remove our feelings so that we don't get confused.

Or can it be both?

Is it possible that we can enjoy our feelings and still guard that well spring of life?

I know that nowadays "catching feelings" is seen as such a negative thing. I have conversations with both males and females who are dating and they question whether to tell the other person how they feel. So then the alternative is to dissect and over analyze. We end up over thinking and reading between the lines. Which usually leaves us confused, broken, and tired.
What would it look like if we didn't look at feelings like they were a bad thing... but we looked at them like they were a gift from God. How different would relationships look like if we could just be honest with ourselves and the people we are dating?

This whole passivity things has to end.

Lets be bold about our feelings.

Don't push them out because it isn't the popular thing or you are worried how the other person will take it.

Yes, be wise. Pray. Pause. Think about why you like that person. Have boundaries early on. Be open to all the amazing things that God has in store for you. Enjoy the journey.

But lets not stuff those feelings down any longer.

feelings, dating, and love,

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

My 5 takeaways from dating as a single Mom.

Dating.  Oh dating. Dating after a divorce. Am I the only one who shutters when saying that?

Now I will not even pretend for a minute that I am any type of expert when it comes to dating.
I have been divorced for almost a year and a half and I have gone on like 5 dates total.
And all but one didn't go past the initial first date experience.
I often feel like a nerdy school girl trying to figure out this dating thing..... except I have two toddlers, a full time job, a home to maintain, stretch marks, and about 3 seconds of spare time.

It. Is. Rough.

Not only are we processing feelings, managing past hurts/rejections/lies, but we have these little lives to consider.

I have some basic guidelines I am trying to hold while I walk through this new territory of dating as a single Christian mom.

So... here are my FIVE takeaways from dating.

1.) Its okay to wait.
Wait? what??  I thought we were talking about DATING... not waiting! And we are! But its okay to not rush. Its okay to listen to the Holy Spirit and respond when He says to wait a little longer. I know that there are counselors, forums, websites, DivorceCare, and many others that will tell you WHEN you should start to date after a divorce. I have seen that the general rule is a year after the divorce is final. BUT what if you were never married? What happens when the divorce process lasts 3 years but you were separated that whole time? What if your divorce process was super quick (like in my case)? So. Many. Questions.
But I would say.... ask the Lord. And ask yourself tough questions.
Are you healed? Are you looking for someone to take care of you? Are you seeking dating to feel validated? Take a good honest look at your heart..... and even if your time frame is up and you still aren't sure.... then WAIT.
God can work amazing things during the wait.
Also... sometimes we can feel the peace to date and then the Lord will call us back.
I did not wait.... 5 months after my divorce was final I went on a date with a potential guy. We dated for about 2 months and then he ended things. Looking back (hindsight is always 20/20, right?) there was still so many things I needed to learn. So many things I needed to be free from.
Listen to your heart, listen to Godly council, and don't be afraid to take some time for you and rest in the wait.

2.) Fiercely protect your kids.
My boys are my world. Sometimes they can drive me crazy (which is what happens with a 4 year old and an almost 3 year old) but I love them.
So... I have made a decision to fiercely protect them while I am venturing out in the dating world. My boys are young enough to not really realize what is going on... but I still don't talk to a guy on the phone in their presence. I don't introduce men to my boys... and I wont until there is REAL commitment. I don't want my children to get attached to a man if he is not going to be here for the long haul. My heart will be able to recover but I don't want my boys to experience any more heart break or even heart confusion. I make it a priority. It takes more effort but those precious ones are worth it.

3.) Cling to Purity.
Ladies, this is huge! And so hard to do. The world tells us that it is old fashioned, not important, out dated, unrealistic, and judgmental.
I say no! It is Holy.
'How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word.' - Psalm 119:9
Just because we have done it before (even if it was last week) does not mean we cannot stop and start again fresh and new.
Sex complicates things so so much. It creates false attachment. It confuses our feelings. And the Lord desires for us to remain pure.
Is it easy? Well... not always. Is it worth it? I believe so!
Find friends to be accountable to. Let them into your world and be open to answering tough questions.
For me, I want my marriage to be blessed. I want trust in it. I want to practice self control so that I can trust myself and my future husband that much more because we waited.
Make boundaries early... because if you wait until the heat of the moment.... well... its a little late.
Discuss it early on in dating. Do not be ashamed to say "I am waiting until my wedding day."

4.) You can meet an amazing Christian man and it could still not work out.
This is a great takeaway and one that was said by a sweet mom in a fb group I am in. But how true is this? I have "dated" two incredible Christian men... and guess what? It didn't work out! They were not the guys for me. Are they still awesome? Yes. Are they still great Christians? Absolutely. But neither quite felt right for one of us. One guy I dated (remember when I dated a little bit too early?) was sweet and loves the Lord. He is a great father and leader. BUT..... he looked at me more as a friend. And we are still friends, now! The other guy I dated was so on fire for God. He had passion and zeal. He was thoughtful and sweet. I did like him....but for whatever reason it just didn't feel like it fit. I felt a "no" in my heart and I had to be obedient. There were no huge red flags. One I was caught by surprise and I was sad. Just because he is a great Christian doesn't mean it is going to work out. And that is okay. Don't we want God's best for us?

5.) It is possible to be content in the Lord and still have a desire to remarry.
I struggled with this for a loooooonnnngggggg time. I am not going to lie. I was being told by SO many that I needed to be content in the Lord and that is it. That when I stopped desiring to be married... that is when God will bring someone. I was getting so discouraged that I was still desiring to be a wife again and to have more children. But somewhere in my wait (see how good the wait can be?) God reminded me that He placed that desire in my heart and He wants to give me them as I take delight in Him. (Psalm 37:4)
Now I LOVE my life. I love my house, my children, my independence, my job (well sometimes haha), and that He is pursuing me. But I still have that underlying feeling of wanting to be a Godly wife to a Godly husband.
Now, if I never get married again... my life will still be great! I will still do amazing things for God. I will still raise great boys! My hope is in the Lord NOT in getting married.
I have just learned that there is this sweet balance with being content that this is my life now and having hope for something else. My marital status does not define me.
I will choose to give up what I think I want in exchange for what God has for me.
Because it could be bigger and better and sweeter then what I have ever imagined.

bonus takeaway:
enjoy the process. Dating is not a pass or fail situation (fail if it doesn't work out, pass if it does). Its all about learning and growing. Learning about more and more of what we want and don't want. Growing into the woman God has made us. I want to be a Godly wife... that means I need to LEARN what it  means to be a Godly wife. I need to be a GODLY WOMAN first! Learn. Grow. Pray. Hope.

Dating isn't always easy and we have to keep a sense of humor about it. Continue to keep God at your center and have other girl friends to talk to about it! 

What are some your dating takeways? Leave them in the comments below! 

dinner, movies, and coffee, Monica

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Lying my Dream Down at the Altar

Do you ever have those days at church where it feels like the pastor knew EXACTLY what you have been talking and thinking about and preaches right TO YOU.

That was me today.

The Lord has really been highlighting Psalm 126 to me. In that psalm it is talking about a joyful return to Zion.
'When the Lord brought back the captivity of Zion, We were like those who dream.' (Psalm 126:1)

I am re-learning what it looks like to dream. I am figuring out what my dream is. And truly questioning if I needed to come up with a different dream. That has been my struggle the past few months honestly. What does... dreaming and holding on to hope and yet being content in what I have actually look like? How do you have a desire in your heart for something that your life does not resemble currently? Is it being ungrateful to want something else?
I have a dream in my heart that I am waiting for God to answer.

Last week my pastor said "A dream delayed is not a dream denied."

Oh how that is like honey to my soul!

We have been working through the story of Abraham and Sarah and how God had promised Abraham  "more descendants than can be counted" (Genesis 17:2).
But Abraham was old and Sarah had been barren. God gave him this incredible promise. The Lord gave Abraham a dream! And although it took so many years to come into fruition .... it happened.
A dream delayed is not a dream denied.

Today the pastor spoke on the attempted sacrifice of Isaac. How Isaac WAS Abraham's dream and yet God asked him to lay it down on the alter to Him. Abraham was obedient. Abraham was willing to lie his dream down to the Lord and trust Him. Wow! What a faith!
Of course the Lord then provides a ram to be sacrificed instead and acknowledges Abraham's faith in God.

So this morning when the pastor asked those people to stand who were feeling the death of a dream and the urge to lay it down at the alter I jumped at the chance to stand.
My spirit was so moved and I literally felt the dream tangible as I opened my hand to God.
I have to love the dream-giver more then the dream.
If I never receive the dream that I have in my heart.... Jesus is still enough for me. He is still enough. A peace flowed through my body and my heart as my tears ran down my cheek while I surrendered this dream that I was grasping so tightly to.

I don't give it to God in hopes He will return it. I give it up to Him in hopes that He will give me all that He has for me.

Dear friends, there is a huge chance that God will not give me my metaphorical ram to take my dream's place. My dream very well could die up here on this altar.
But the beauty about death is, as my pastor so eloquently reminded us, that it makes way for new life.
Just like the dead trees of winter stay for a moment until the newness of Spring comes bursting upon us.
That is what is happening while I lie my dream down.
It dies so that something new can be born.

I literally feel a shift in my spirit as I have let go of what I think I want and open my heart to all that God has in store.

dreams, new dreams, and love,

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Dear 2018

Dear 2018,

NYE 2017

I am so glad that you are finally here! I counted down to when you would make your appearance with such expectancy in my heart.  

As I said good bye to my lovely friend, 2017, I realized that I had some pretty incredible memories. I made new friends, went to my first professional baseball game, had a first date, started a new job, finished DivorceCare, became a member at my church, found even more healing, had great conversations.  I turned 30, Seth learned his letters, Jayden opened up talking so much, had two amazing birthday parties for them. I bought my first house and moved in. I had funny little rewards given to me by my work. It was a joyful year overall. 

But you, oh you. I am so excited for you to be here. 

I hope you bring more peace in my home. 2018, I am expecting great things for you. Laughter, friendships, adventures, and growth. 

Now that you are here I want to embrace the beauty that you hold. The excitement in a new beginning. Saying good bye to yesterday and hello to all that is in store for me. 

I look forward to birthday parties and get togethers with friends. I look forward to challenges and learning new ways to overcome them. I am looking forward to a deeper spiritual walk and for the Lord to reveal Himself to me more. I look forward to dates (wink wink) and getting dressed up. I am so looking forward to my sweet boy starting kindergarten (tear) and for a brand new daycare for them both. I look forward to new recipes, new restaurants, more coffee, and even some desserts. 

Overall, 2018, I look forward to new grace that waits for me each and every day you are here! 

So glad you are with us! 

new years, new growth, new love, Monica

Saturday, December 23, 2017

'Twas the Night Before the Night Before Christmas.

'Twas the night before the night before Christmas and all through the house my toddlers were shouting and calling me out.
Testing my patience and wearing it thin, while I try to practice all the "gentle" parenting that I can manage to muster in.
No cookies are baked, no presents are wrapped. The house is a mess and momma could use a nap.
There are dishes in the sink and a long list of to'dos, how did Christmas come just so soon?
The children are not tired, oh not at all. Because they ate their weight cookies and candy canes from the mall.
As the day gets later and the night grows close, my eyes get heavy and I'm feeling like toast.
But there is still bath time, and story-time, and sugar bugs to brush. I will try to go fast but my boys hate to rush.
Lotion, and snuggles, and kisses on foreheads too knowing that they will come crawling out of the bed in just a minute or two.
When they are finally asleep ( and lets be honest... it will take a bit) its time to attack that to do list since I have been ignoring it.
Wrap presents, wash clothes, bake cookies, and sweep.
Pick outfits, clean dishes, and then hopefully sleep.
I walk past my love bugs as they are soundly asleep
Knowing that the magic of Christmas is still one they keep.
To them its not lists, fancy dinners, or matched clothes.
Its not clean houses, homemade gifts, or the list that always grows.
To my sweet children, with the wonder in their eyes,
They don't think about those things that sometimes make me wanna cry.
Its about moments and memories with the ones that they love.
Its about those sugar snacks and kisses and a big bear hug.
So as I drift off to sleep to wake up to Christmas Eve, I tell myself "next year, just enjoy it.
You don't need to fret. You don't need worry. And you don't need to stress. "
So a reminder to all you moms out trying to find their brave face
Enjoy this season. In the chaos, in the mundane, and make sure you give yourself grace.

Merry Christmas!

xxoo, Monica

Thursday, August 17, 2017

to my son on his first day of school

You started school. It was only preschool but still my momma heart leaped for joy at how old you are while simultaneously aching at how old you are.

You venture out into a new world today my sweet boy. A place of learning and expanding your mind. A place of sweet new friendships and brand new experiences. I am so so proud of the little boy you are.

But I hope for so much more... and here are just a few of my heart's prayers for you and your younger brother as you both get older

- I pray you will always know the love of your Father.
  Of course I want you both to always experience the love of the your dad but more then that I want you truly know and understand the love that Your Heavenly Father has for you. The infinite love He has for you (John 3:16). The fact that He knew You and set you apart while you were still in my womb (Jeremiah 1:5). Your God knows everything about you, even the numbers of hairs on your head (Luke 12:7). I pray that you will not just know that in your mind but experience that in your heart. That that love will guide you in your life.

- I pray that you will walk with boldness and courage.
 Life can be scary.. I can never downplay that fact. I wish I could take all the evil away in this world but I cannot. Everything from the boogie man in the dark to frightening life events... I would take it all away. But I do not have that power. But you, my precious boy, were not born with a spirit of fear but of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7) Declare that over yourself in times you are feeling scared. Walk in the confidence that God has given you. Not in the world's cockiness but in the confidence that only God can give us.

- I pray that you will be a leader.
 You are feisty. You are energetic. You are strong willed. You are determined. All of these things can help you to become an amazing leader in the Kingdom. I hope that these things wont change but that you see the strength in it and that as your mother I can cultivate it well.

- I pray that you always seek compassion.
 From comforting your brother when he is upset to helping me with cleaning, never stop seeking compassion. Keep your heart tender, sweet boy. Don't allow the world, circumstances, relationships, or short comings to harden your heart. I pray that God will always keep your heart soft.

- I pray that no matter what you will desire to serve the Lord.
  One of my largest prayers for you and your brother is that you will not just be a believer of Jesus but a follower of Jesus. Even when its hard. Even when its confusing. Even when you stand alone in the crowd. Lets us not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9) I pray you and your brother will sow goodness and reap goodness.

I love you beyond measure my son. You and your little brother are such a gift to me and I thank God daily that I have the honor and privilege of being your mom.

Always and Forever,