Right now, I’ve got five favorite Instagram accounts that I look forward to seeing every morning during my coffee time. Somewhere in between Uriah waking up and quiet time with my Lord, I take time to catch up with these lovely people and am never disappointed.
Kristy’s account is a daily joy to me. It’s all about home, decor, and family. Her style is slightly upscale from my shabby-chic cottage theme but I love her generous spirit and happy, contentment that splashes through her gorgeous site.
Ah, me. Angel is a sweet friend of mine who makes my heart so happy every time she posts. Her work centers around motherhood but incorporates a lot of themes from conquering ovarian cancer, Christian life, and adorable farm-styled decor.
Alyssa and Jeff Bethke really shine in inspiring and encouraging families to look to Jesus and follow Him. I really love their fun, candid pictures and their deep, faith-rooted conversations they have in their posts and comments. I’ve just started listening to their podcast if that tells you how much I care for their work.
I’m pretty much a fan of all of Audrey’s accounts but I’m an even bigger fan of her faith and effort to encourage women to remember the always more that is available to them in Christ. They also have an amazing heart for marriages which I love since that is my number one passion!
So, Anna’s work is basically my favorite because it is honest, funny, and totally down-to-earth when it comes to motherhood. My favorite part of the week is when she shares #RealMomConfessions which tend to round-up several women who are happy to share their mishaps and find they’re not alone. She just published a new devotional and I can’t wait to get my hands on it one day.
Do you ever stumble across someone and just know that they are speaking life into your world? I love social media because it connects us to tribes we ordinarily would never come across — people who bring us joy, inspiration, and encouragement. Who do you follow? Drop their name below and I’ll visit them! And check out my Instagram for daily doses of cuteness. 😉
If you’re here because your sweet baby has received a medical diagnosis I want you to know that you’re not alone. Here are four things that helped me through the first day we learned of our baby’s upcoming difficulties.
First, you probably jumped right into the world of research and skipped one of the most important steps to accepting your new life — grief. Sweet friend, please give yourself permission to cry. We tend to think I need to be strong now so we hold in the tears that bring us so much healing. I know because I’ve been in your place.
In counting, my son has received at least 10 different diagnosis’ (some were incorrect). The first one we were given was Hydrocephalus. I had gone into my 22 week check up thinking all was well until I saw the ultrasound tech wipe tears from her eyes. Everything changed that day.
I left the office and called my husband’s work and asked him to come home early. Before leaving, I tried to eat a banana but it got all muddied and soggy from my weeping. I drove home weeping wondering what our sweet child’s life would be like. Of course, I imagined the worse (and so will you).
Once home, my hubby held me close while I explained the issues. Our landlord showed up for some maintenance and Dalton kindly asked him to leave so we could have some privacy. We just received bad news about the baby, was his words.
We called our parents, snuggled on the couch, and ate a gallon of ice cream together and watched tv. Such ordinary moments in an extraordinary day.
And that’s what I want you to do first, mama. I want you to give yourself the permission and space to cry a little (or a lot). Weep into your husband’s arms. Weep over the phone to your mom. Weep on your bed while you beg God for answers. It’s okay to grieve the loss of normalcy.
Then, I want you get yourself some ice cream or chocolates or a steamy bowl of macaroni and cheese. Whatever it is that brings you comfort (even a nap if that’s your thing) I want you to give yourself permission to enjoy. You’re life has just been flipped upside down and a little chocolate cake will help it feel a little more upright.
If you’ve taken the time to acknowledge your grief and find some small source of comfort now you can get on the internet.
But don’t Google. Not now (and maybe not ever). Google displays the worst of the worst possible scenarios. When I researched Hydrocephalus for the first time I saw sweet children so distorted by their condition I became nauseous. Googling your child’s diagnosis will only lead to anxiety.
Instead of Googling, I want you to go to Facebook and search for different support groups specific to your child’s anomalies. For me, I found an amazing group for parents with children who have Hydrocephalus. Later, when my water broke at 24 weeks, I found a support group meant to encourage and inform women who are dealing with PPROM. It was because of these support groups that I knew Uriah’s original doctors did not have his best interest at heart and we transferred to a new hospital and found the best treatment for him.
Join these groups and ask all the questions. These amazing parents will welcome you with open arms because they have all been in your shoes! Ask parents how their children are doing developmentally and they’ll most likely surprise you with adorable pictures, milestone praises, and real life advice.
Sweet mama, now that you’ve taken the time to cry a little cry, comfort your soul, and connect with real familiesI want you to read this amazing post by Jenna. She shares a story that perfectly sums up this amazing journey of medical complexities.
I know you wish you weren’t on this journey. I understand because I’ve been there too. And I’m not promising everything will perfect; in fact, there will be more hard moments than you ever imagined possible.
But, sweet friend, this challenge isn’t the end. It’s just the beginning of a beautiful new journey. And once you accept that (and give yourself a lot of grace along the way) I promise you’ll smile again.
Until then, grieve, comfort, and reach out. And know that God is with you, sweet friend. He hasn’t forsaken you or walked away — He’s right there ready to walk you through this time. He loves you and your sweet family beyond words.
Have you just received a diagnosis for your child? Mama, I am here for you if you need a listening ear or prayer request. Leave me a comment and I’ll do my best to connect!
I originally wrote this post in 2016 — it’s crazy how drastically life has changed since then! But I’m more convinced than ever that compatibility isn’t what keeps a marriage together through the long haul. I’m also convinced this is a lesson we need to learn every year.
I’m learning what real love is … and it’s beautiful.
There are many misconceptions about love and how best to make relationships work. One of the most deceiving and killing is the lie that compatibility is necessary for a thriving, successful love. Sadly, many friends, lovers and even church family separate when they feel a drift in their compatibility from one another.
Friends, this is wrong.
When we base our vows on the typical definition of compatibility we head down a road of disappointment. Marriages are not meant to be built on how well you compliment your spouse and how well your personalities work together.
Nothing in life is meant to be built on this.
Spouses can be annoying. You can be annoying. The traits and personality quirks you initially found cute can turn into irritants. We’re meant to rub each other raw … that’s one way God works our character.
Instead of basing a relationships value on how well you work together examine your ability to suffer together.
Suddenly, being compatible isn’t as fun as before.
Sweet friend, how well do you suffer with your friends, spouse and church family? How well do you show them genuine, authentic love?
Young lovers, please don’t base your relationships on how well you compliment your significant other without asking yourself the simple question: am I willing to suffer with them? Will you suffer with them when finances get tight? Will you suffer with them when they lose all respect, when your child is dying, or when they lose a job?
Honestly, this has been an interesting and new concept for me. I knew that Dalton and I’s relationship needed to be built on an enduring, committed love … but the idea of suffering with? Well, #tbh, that threw me off.
To avoid being overwhelmed, I took this new challenge one practical step at a time. In the past, suffering with Dalton meant being able to give a good back massage when his body ached and cheerfully keep to our budget. I knew that if you aren’t willing to suffer through the small, inconvenient moments then you’ll crumble when the hard stuff hits.
And how true that was! For us, suffering changed from minor irritants to gigantic hurdles! We endured living apart for 7 months while our son had surgery after surgery. For Dalton, suffering meant sleeping on the hospital couch for 9 weeks while I was on bed rest, not turning up the heat in the winter to save money, and driving back and forth each week so I could stay with Uriah while he was in the NICU.
Had we based our marriage on the easy moments we couldn’t have made it through the last few years. How thankful I am God carried us through that traumatic season of life!
And it’s true for all of us — you may hit iceberg sized difficulties in the future but for now you’ve been given small opportunities to grow deeper in love.
What do you think? How have you grown in your ability to suffer with your friends, spouse or church family? Or is this an area needing strengthening? Share your heart … and let’s grow in grace together!
Home sweet home … it’s the creative renter’s heartbeat. But what happens when your home isn’t home-y? How do you make your house feel like a home when it isn’t your dream home?
(Or in my case, when you live in an adorable but grungy rental where the landlord forgets to mow the lawn and you’re not allowed to paint?)
After living in three rentals over the last (almost) five years, I’ve learned a few tricks that have warmed and welcomed our hearts and bodies. In other words, let me show you a few ways you can turn that cold and ambiguous rental into a space you love. Because, we want to love the home we have — we want to be joyfully content in the space we’ve been given.
Here are my 5 secrets to making your rental feel like home sweet home:
Keep what you love — pass on what you don’t
This one can be so hard especially when you are a saver (hoarder?) like me! 😉 I’ve never struggled with keeping unused items until we had Uriah. Now, I have trouble tossing a stained onesie away!
(Let’s all do ourselves a favor and vow to throw out the stained onesies!)
It can be challenging pairing down items because we think we’ll use them one day. But one day could be years from now and your family’s peace of mind needs space and lack of clutter in order to thrive.
Unless the items you are saving are truly treasures give yourself the freedom to say, “When one day comes I’ll replace this item. Until then, I’ll give it a good home.”
There are many ways to pass on items you don’t need. Post a Facebook ad, have a yard sale, or (if you’re busy like me) find your local Habitat for Humanity or Goodwill and pass on the items. (I especially like the first because they will pick up large items from your home! Woohoo!)
A clean + organized home = love
This is probably the most important way to make your rental feel like a home you want to come home to. Our current home is a beautiful, charming 1940’s brick with adorable built-in china cabinets, a yellow insert oven, and a gorgeous mantle.
But as beautiful as our home is, it was also equally dirty. Grime from prior tenants was caked in the metal pieces which separate rooms (what are those called?). My stove fan was covered in grease from others’ messy cooking. And the kitchen floor was literally discolored from improper mopping.
Yuck. Yuck. Yuck. Yuck.
It took me an embarrassingly long time to catch up on these projects. I hated (hate?) the idea of cleaning up someone else’s irresponsible messes.
But the projects begged to be done and the difference once done is amazing! I try to keep the house clean but really getting into the grime really made a huge difference! Just keeping our bedroom free of clutter makes a world of difference!
We have better things to do than cry over the “no paint” rule
I understand how frustrating a “no paint” rule can be — I’m currently living in a home which forbids me changing the colors and it used to drive me nuts! (Not to mention the giant cracks in paint!)
After a few creative meltdowns I started finding rental-friendly ways to brighten and fill my walls without breaking the contract. In our living room, I’ve created a gallery wall. And in other rooms I’ve put up baskets, instruments, and unique frames. Check out this link full of budget-friendly ways to make your walls beautiful!
Breaking up with ugly fruit wallpaper
Ugly wallpaper breaking your beauty-loving heart? Me too … our dining room was bordered in a hideous, dirty fruit pattern that matched nothing in our home. After a year and a half I got desperate and found contact paper cute enough to pass the test. $10 and 30 minutes later, I had brand new walls cute enough to stop me from gagging every time I looked into the dining area.
(I know that sounds dramatic but here is a before and after as proof to the wallpaper’s hideousness. And my OCD).
Temporary, budget-friendly decor
I’m thinking all about colorful rugs, pillows, DIY window swags (I love my burlap!), and Ikea plants that bring joy into your space!
For a long time I was against any large rugs in our living room … I tend to be a matchy matchy kid of girl and bold colors make me feel claustrophobic and overwhelmed. (I know … weird).
But when I found this rug just perfect for Uriah and within my dream color scheme I had to take the jump. Since then, I’ve fallen in love with splashes of color and have bought complementary pillows.
One day, if I’m ever so old and grey that younger folk ask for advice on mothering, I’ll make sure I remind them of one simple thing: hug your children.
It’s simple, right? But for the first year I missed this. For whatever reason (tubes, medical equipment, low muscle strength, slight difficulty, fear, etc.) I always held Uriah faced away from me. We snuggled lots and lots so I never noticed what I was missing until, one day, I decided to hold him facing me.
As I straddled his little legs over my waist something pure magic happened. His eye contact increased, his mimicking advanced, and he hugged me.
I can’t really describe the cry-your-eyes-out-with-joy feelings that come when your baby purposefully shows affection to you for the first time but it is, without a doubt, one of the most wonderful moments you can have.
And the hugs have only gotten better. It’s amazing the impact physical affection has on the intellectual, emotional, and physical development of our babies but it’s huge! Eye sight, language skills, social behaviors, and family affection all benefit from frequent connection.
Now, I sit with Uriah facing me several times a day. These are the moments when we sing songs and nursery rhymes, practice our whistling and raspberry blowing, tickle each other, gives hugs, laugh, smile, and grow the trust and affection between mother and son. These moments are my absolute favorite of the day.
And while I know our case was extreme I think that there are days when even ordinary, non-medically complex mamas forget to take the time to hug their kiddos. Some days we’re just trying to keep everyone fed and alive.
But, sweet mama, next time you’re tempted to be frustrated or just keep busy, I hope you take a moment to look your little in the eye and give them a hug. It doesn’t need to be long (they probably won’t want to stay still for long anyway) but it does need to happen.
And the results will be just as magical for you too — your little one’s love, behavior, connection, friendship, and possibly other developmental skills will only benefit.
Tell me, how do you show affection to your littles? Is showing affection difficult for you or are you a natural born hugger? (I’m not 😉 ) Do you have any favorite nursery rhymes or songs you sing while cuddling? Leave me a comment below — I’d love to hear your thoughts!