Family, Life lessons, Motherhood

Fearfully and wonderfully made

She is fearfully and wonderfully made.

Listen y’all…I snapped at my daughter last night, not because I was angry at her or anything she had done, but because what she said made me very angry at the world. Let me explain…

We’ve always encouraged our children to make healthy choices and we regularly exercise as a family. This is not an overly-obsessed, zero sugar, no processed foods, no Happy Meals, all organic all the time kind of home…far from it (kudos to those who are that…you do you). We believe in moderation, but working out is just something we enjoy doing together and helping the kids understand healthier food choices now will (we hope) set them up for an easier future. What I have been very conscious of as a mother is never obsessing over my weight or size or using the word “diet” in front of my children and especially in front of my young daughter. Sadly, that doesn’t mean I don’t obsess about those things in my own mind, but simply that I have done my best to keep that burden from her.

I am angry that we live in a world that, despite my best efforts to protect you, has somehow convinced my beautiful 8-year-old daughter that the skinnier you are the better you are.

So, when my daughter came into the living room last night and proudly proclaimed, lifting the front part of her shirt to show me her progress, “Mom! Look how skinny I am after my exercise!” I lost it. She is 8 years old. My reply should have been more calculated and calm, but what came out was a blur, “Stop worrying about how skinny you are! You are 8 years old and you are strong and smart and healthy and beautiful! Life should never be about how skinny you are!” She looked at me stunned as tears filled her eyes. She slowly walked back upstairs and quietly closed herself into her room.

I stood there stunned and unsure of what to do or say next, knowing that this was a big life moment. Once my own tears dried, I lightly knocked on her door and sat down at the foot of her bed to explain. “My love, I am not mad at you or angry at you. I’m so proud of you. I am angry that we live in a world that, despite my best efforts to protect you, has somehow convinced my beautiful 8-year-old daughter that the skinnier you are the better you are.”

I did my best to explain to her that I’m so mad that somehow our society has convinced us that as girls and women we all have to look the same and that perfect look should start with being skinny. I’m mad that despite my efforts to shield her, these ideas have crept into our home like a thief stealing her childhood innocence. I’m so mad that the world feeds us fake images of perfection and makes us believe that anything less is unworthy. I’m tired of a world that has taken our happiness captive and held it hostage until a certain size is achieved.

I told my little girl that the world is hard enough on women and sometimes the world is unkind, so we have to learn to be kind to ourselves. We want to be strong so that we can help others. We want to be healthy so that we can run and play with friends. We want to eat good food so that we can have focus and energy to learn in school. I want her to be fierce and loyal and caring. I want her to be confident in who she is and fearless. But, skinny is never the goal. I told her over and over that she is beautiful just the way God made her and if she takes care of herself the way God instructs us all to, then she will look exactly the way God intended. Above all, she is so very loved and perfect in my eyes and in God’s eyes.

As a mom, I wish I told myself those things more often. I wish I looked at myself and saw what God sees and not the insecurities that this world has given me. I want to be a better example, but I want my words to be true for myself as well and not just something I tell my daughter. I want to be fierce and loyal and caring. I want to be confident and fearless. Ladies, love yourselves. Everyone, love your girls and any young girls around you. Love exactly who the Lord made you to be and embrace whatever it is that makes you special. Take care of what you have so that you can live your best life no matter what size jeans you live that life in.

Family, Marriage, Military life, Uncategorized

The life of a military wife – waiting on phone calls

The day is like any other day until you get a phone call, “Babe, I’m deploying.”

To the average person, those words may mean nothing. To a military wife those words send a rush of dread, fear, and questions through a mind already flooded with them. Can you tell me where you’re going? Can you tell me for how long? Most questions cannot be answered…especially the hardest ones. Will you come back to me?

You’ve had some time to process and you try to pretend like that day will never arrive. You go through logistics and make plans for life apart hoping it will never come to fruition. Then suddenly you see the duffle bags spread out on the living room floor with shirts nicely rolled and socks wrapped tightly waiting to be checked off a list of essentials that are supposed to get your husband through the coming months. You know it’s real, but you aren’t ready for the reality to set it. Not yet. One more night.

As you close your eyes you finally allow every emotion to swallow you whole until you can hardly breathe. It feels like you won’t breath again until he’s home.

You’re strong for your husband, strong for your kids, strong for your friends and family back home who are so supportive, but also worry about you. That brave face remains until you’ve said goodbye in an incredibly intimate moment surrounded by strangers who have no idea of the dark fears racing through your mind as you send your soldier away for God and country. Once he’s out of sight you can allow a tear to fall, but you steady your voice to tell your children we’ll all get through it together. You know that’s true, though you’re not sure how. One of those strangers gently touches your arm and thanks your family for their service. You want to respond, but if you open your mouth you know you won’t be able to stop the emotions from spilling out so you just grin and nod. Then finally, in the dark solitude of your cold and lonely bed you sleep with the tv on to drown out your thoughts. As you close your eyes you finally allow every emotion to swallow you whole until you can hardly breathe. It feels like you won’t breath again until he’s home.

Yes, we sacrifice holidays, birthdays, and big events, but the hardest to sacrifice are the days and the moments. We sacrifice laughs and inside jokes and memories that are made apart. We sacrifice Sundays at church and life lessons. We sacrifice morning breakfasts and evening meals. The most mundane family moments are the most precious to a military family.

For months we connect with letters, then emails, then instant messages, and then voice calls and video calls as the technology in war zones progresses. Their tents turn to barracks and their chow halls turn to fast food and specialty coffee while outside those walls the very real danger of war still haunts them. You wait for weeks for any word. When it doesn’t come you try unsuccessfully to keep your mind from wandering to the worst case scenario. Then finally, a phone call, “Hey babe, I’m okay.” You can hear sirens and mortars in the background, but your mind zeros in on his voice because you know in a moment it will be gone.

Over time you’ve built a routine. More often than not you’ve built up a wall too. You try to balance living in the moment and guarding yourself at the same time. You find a tribe, rely on your family, volunteer your time, lean into work, find a hobby…anything to keep your mind occupied and the days short. Everyone feels the ache with each passing day, but the days pass nonetheless and we’re able to smile and laugh and just wait for the day our lives are whole again. Then, another phone call, “Honey, I’m coming home.” It doesn’t feel real. If you let it, those words might just take over so you try and steady yourself. You want it to be a promise, but you’re still waiting and still praying that he truly does make it home to you.

A sunny day finally arrives. Or maybe it’s raining, or it’s snowing, or it’s dark and damp, but in your heart the day is perfect. He steps off that plane onto the tarmac and you wave your flags and your kids jump with their signs painted in red, white, and blue. You’ve never felt so proud. You pick him out of the crowd of camouflage by his familiar gait and you can finally breath again. You embrace and breath him in and all is right in your world at least for a little while. You’ve been apart for so many months, but now begins the fight to put you family back together. It is a process of breaking down walls and reconnecting as a family side-by-side.

Military life is hard, but loving this military man is the easiest thing I’ve ever done. I’d do it again 1,000 times and until the next phone call comes along, I’ll love him like it’s my last day.

Family, Life lessons, Uncategorized

Thank you Quarantine

Dear Quarantine,

You’re getting a lot of hate right now. You’ve turned our entire world upside down. Because of you and that virus we’re scared, overwhelmed, restless, unstable, lonely, unsure of the future. Amidst the chaos let me be the first to say, thank you.

Thank you for forcing me to slow down. Thank you for reminding me that “essential” has lost its true meaning. Thanks for the time to snuggle and learn to ride bikes and for the silly moments that we would have rushed through. Thanks for giving me time to work on my passions. Thank you for the time to complete some of the endless projects that have only been building to this point.

Thank you for the hours of laughter that I would normally miss during the day. Thank you for the milestones I may have missed and for the lifelong memories. Thanks for forcing us to find new ways to connect and for reminding us of what we’ve all been taking for granted.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, through prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace that passes all understanding will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7

Thank you for highlighting those among us who are fearless defenders of our health, safety, and comfort. We salute them.

Thank you for turning many in our world to the Father – the peace-giver – when our peace could no longer come from the world and comforts we’ve built around ourselves. You have reminded us that the world is mostly good and that the Lord created us to be overcomers. Thank you for pointing us toward the One who never lost control amidst the chaos and for reminding us that there is a peace that passes all understanding.


A grateful quarantiner

Family, Motherhood, Uncategorized

I’m glad they have each other…

Listen y’all…

One day her brothers will threaten to beat up a boy she likes and she’ll hate them for it.

One day she will be the only girl they can cry in front of when they have their hearts broken.

One day they’ll realize they don’t really have much in common.

But today, they choose to all sleep in the same room on any given Tuesday.

They’ll share secrets and memories that mommy and daddy will never be a part of.

Today, they hug each other and share I Love You’s for no particular reason. They jam out to the same music in the car and wrestle endlessly in front of cartoons at the end of each day.

Today, they fight over silly things like who got to sit by the window last and who ate the last Goldfish, but one day they will be the first to stick up for each other in any situation.

One day they may become ruthless and competitive and resent each other’s strengths, but today they read to each other, help each other, and applaud even the smallest of victories.

One day they’ll beg for space, but today they hate the thought of one night apart and they squeal when they see each other after a long day separated by school or daycare.

For now, I’m glad they have built-in best friends. They learn from each other how to share and be kind. They learn how to be loyal and forgiving, but also when to be tough and when to show grace. My prayer is that their siblings will truly be one of their greatest blessings in life like mine are. I pray they will continue to cheer in each other’s moments of victory and cry with each other in the failures. I pray they build each other up, hold each other accountable, and always steer each other toward Christ. I pray they remember whose they are.

For now, they may not appreciate every moment. But, life gets hard. Tough times inevitably lie ahead and mommy and daddy won’t always be there, but they’ll have each other. They’ll share secrets and memories that mommy and daddy will never be a part of. God willing, long after mommy and daddy are gone, they’ll still have each other.

The Lord uniquely designs each family and I’m so thankful for the way He chose to build ours because I’m forever grateful that my kids have each other.

Family, Life lessons, Uncategorized

To the man who loved me first…

Maybe it’s because as the youngest child I spent much of my youth with just you and mom. Maybe it’s because we’ve always shared a passion for sports and music. Maybe it’s because we both cherish tradition. Maybe I just simply never lost the wonder a little girl has when she believes her daddy is a superhero. Whatever the reason, even after three children of my own, I’ve never stopped being a daddy’s girl.

I still hear your voice and words of wisdom almost desperately pleading with me, lingering long after I walked out the door as you tried to hang on to your little girl, “Remember whose you are,” not only as your daughter, but as a daughter of the King. Your words remind me still to live worthy. You prayed over me as I stepped out into life on my own and I’m certain you continue to pray for me today.

I chose a man who treats me like his queen because I grew up seeing myself as your princess.

You encouraged me to be strong, to practice hard, and when the time came to put my game face on. You taught me to make no excuses. I only know my own strength because you brought it out of me.

You taught me to work hard, pray hard, love hard, give everything, and then when all is settled, take a nap.

A little girl will never see herself with more worth than when she looks at herself through her daddy’s eyes. I chose a man who treats me like his queen because I grew up seeing myself as your princess. I’m lucky to have had such an incredible example of a husband and father and friend. And though he stole it years ago, you were the first man to have my heart.

No matter what, I’ll always be your little girl.

Your sweet pea