Loving and surviving motherhood

Ah, motherhood!

Motherhood is simultaneously the most wonderful and difficult adventure I have embarked on in life. There are moments where you are filled with ecstatic joy and fulfillment and others where you crash on your bed at night in utter exhaustion and dismay.

Motherhood is something I am grateful for–for the amazing opportunity I have to watch my precious children grow and learn and for all that it is teaching and doing in ME. It is something I hope to become better at over time.

I have found that motherhood demands a lot. And to be the best mom I can be, focusing on certain things really helps give me an edge. Or, perhaps, keeps me from falling over the edge!

I thought I would share a couple of the things that help me keep my sanity as a mother. That help me be the best mom I can be and enjoy this crazy adventure of motherhood. Continue reading

hooray for goals! and some of mine.

Do you set goals for yourself?

Research suggests that working towards goals can boost happiness and wellbeing. And we don’t have to wait for a new year to roll around to make a new goal and reap the benefits!

Even a goal as “small” as a vacation can provide a huge boost. So much so, that the planning and anticipation are known to increase happiness even more than the actual vacation itself. And don’t think that the vacation has to be exotic or require a lot of money (although, at times it may). A camping trip or weekend away can have the same effect, as long as you are planning and looking forward to it.

Brance and I were talking about this “phenomenon” over dinner tonight and he said something insightful. He thinks that it boils down to Continue reading

Holiday “blues”

I’m really missing family today.

It happens most holidays and St. Patrick’s Day weekend is a huge deal in our neighborhood. Corned beef, potatoes, kilts, bagpipes, green everywhere(!), friends/family, and one heck of a parade (if you live in Southie, anyway).

And I happen to be alone this afternoon—which I would normally enjoy.

It’s weird. Holidays are suppose to be joyous occasions (I used to LOVE them), but the last 6 years has taught me that isn’t always the case. I’ve kind of come to “dread” them. (And, with a husband and two sweet daughters, I am luckier than many.) There are people who have no family around them at all.

So, since Brance and I have become aware of this sadness that can coexist for some on a holiday, we try to make an effort to invite others into our family celebrations (as unimpressive as they may be, ha. Although, Brance is a pretty amazing cook.). We have found that it not only blesses others, but it uplifts and encourages us as well.

My parents have been an incredible example of this to me over the years. Hardly a Thanksgiving or Christmas would pass (and many a Friday night) where there wasn’t a widow or single person celebrating with us around our table. And having been the recipient of that kind of hospitality a couple of times the last few years, I must say they were doing more good than they realized!

I am convinced that opening our lives and homes, on holidays or any time of year, has the power to help and encourage and transform—others and ourselves. It’s a beautiful Christ-like thing to do. It’s something I want to do more of. How about you?

Love, Lauren

Have you experienced something similar?

Living “Groundhog Day”

Several years ago when we moved to Boston (almost 6 now!) and I was struggling with winter blues, I told Brance one morning that I felt like my life had turned into the old movie “Groundhog Day”.

Every day felt EXACTLY the same. Nighttime nursings. Chasing a toddler around the house while juggling a baby. Piles of dirty dishes accumulating in the absence of a dishwasher (still no dishwasher!). Diapers galore. Laundry always needing to be folded and PUT AWAY. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner to make. Much of what I did every day felt like mindless tasks.

He said something, gently and kindly, that helped and really stuck with me to this day: “Most people’s lives are filled with a series of repetitive tasks.”

Yes. That’s right. I wasn’t the only one waking up and doing the SAME things day after day. And regardless of how exciting other people’s lives seemed from the outside, they too probably grew weary of certain tasks as well. Repetition was repetition regardless of the job—whether it involved scraping dirty plates in the trash or scrubbing up to perform surgery.

Another thing that helped (besides addressing the winter blues), was to change how I viewed work. Now I don’t do this perfectly, but when I do, it really does make a HUGE difference. Instead of viewing my work as dreary and unimportant, I began to look at it as an opportunity to SERVE and LOVE—my little family and even more importantly God.

We’re told to do all things to the glory of God, even down to how we eat and drink! And every single one of these seemingly mundane tasks was an opportunity to do just that! When I finally saw and embraced this truth, it totally changed how I viewed these repetitive chores and I even began to experience joy as I did them.

I am far from perfect, so it is ALWAYS good to be reminded of this beautiful way of living. My husband Brance recently taught on the subject of glorifying God in all that we do. And it was SO good to hear! I will share the video at the end of the post, in case you would like to watch it too. I love hearing him teach! And I think it is one of those things we “know”, but can easily forget to put into practice. Just like I had 6 years ago (and still sometimes do).

Any job, regardless of how mundane, can bring joy when we offer it back as a loving sacrifice to God and others!

With love, Lauren

P.S. Have you experienced something similar? I’d love to hear.

P.P.S. I’m dying over here over how tiny my girls are in the picture I share. Oh man. If only I had realized at the time how quickly that baby/toddler season would pass. Excuse me while I go scoop them up for hugs and kisses!

Joy killer and joy builder.

Brance and I were chatting a couple of weeks ago about social media and a statistic that we came across.

Did you know that well over half of people who use social media feel worse about their own life after they spend time on it? That’s a heck of a lot of people feeling badly about their life every single day. And of course we’re not talking about it cause it’s too embarrassing or we’re in denial. (But, hey, I don’t let that stop me ;).

I am convinced that so many people are miserable seeing what is going on with others because Continue reading

One of THOSE days

Oh man.

Do you ever have one of THOSE days?

You know. The kind where your emotions are up and down like a topographic map of the Rocky Mt. range. Where your kids are a raging storm indoors while a winter blizzard rages outside and you’re TRAPPED. Where you just can’t seem to get anything accomplished, but you’re not exactly sure why. Where you know that even the smallest thing could set you off and you really, really hate that.

Yeah. So that was my day today.

I don’t love days like this. In fact, I do everything in my power to NOT have days like this. I exercise and try to eat healthily. I aim for 8 hours of sleep at night and make sure I am taking my vitamins (especially vitamin d3). I am careful to avoid foods that screw with my hormones. I try my best to spend time outside every day (even in the winter!) and I jump at a couple of hours away to recoup each week (yay for a husband who makes this happen!).  I do everything I can to FEEL my best so that I don’t have one of THOSE days.

And most of the time it works. Most of the time I feel pretty even-keeled. Most of the time I am able to sail fairly smoothly through the Continue reading

4 things for singles who want to marry to do

Practice really, really loving the people close to you in life– your parents, siblings, neighbors, and friends.

It’s crazy how the people we love most in life can also get under our skin the most. Right? The same thing goes for marriage. So, learning to become more patient and kind and long-suffering (LOVING) before you tie the knot will make your transition into marriage go more smoothly. It will make marriage so much sweeter!

During my unmarried college years, when I was at home, I used to look for ways to love and serve my family. I would hop up and do dishes without being asked or wash and fold a load of towels. I spent time visiting a local nursing home or helping make food for people in my church.

It’s also a great time to break any unhealthy ways of dealing with conflict. This will be GOLD once you’re married. Being able to work through Continue reading

Taking a time-out

I am a bit of an emotional chameleon. As in I tend to change with the emotional climate that surrounds me.

This can be an enormous blessing. (My hubby is always saying it is one of my spiritual gifts.) When someone around me is struggling, it is easy for me to empathize with them—to weep with them, even. When something wonderful happens in their life, rejoicing with them comes second-nature for me.

But being wired this way comes with its challenges as well. And one of those is when the emotional climate around me is tumultuous, I can feel tumultuous.

Recently I have felt somewhat torn apart and beat up emotionally. Anybody else feeling this too? So many people expressing their opinions. So many people expressing their feelings about politics and the world. I am not saying this is necessarily a bad thing. I am just saying that I feel like I have been on an emotional roller coaster trying to find solid footing, trying to make sense of the voices.

I am prayerfully (literally) trying to process it all. Prayer has been an anchor for me. Looking for refuge in Christ and flat out asking him for wisdom and guidance has made a huge difference in how I feel as the world around me (the news and social media and even the conversations I overhear in the local coffee shop) seem to buzz more frantic by the day. The rift in our country seems wider all the time. But peace, trust, and direction supernaturally follow as we rest in God through prayer—regardless of what happens around us. It’s amazing!

I don’t want to ignore or be ignorant of what is going on on a national and global scale. And I do have opinions on many issues. But sometimes, I think it is okay to take a temporary rest from the chaos and to focus on my small world—to really love and serve the people right next to me—before I do or don’t respond to all the opinions swirling around me. Before I do or don’t take action. That’s me right now, taking a brief time-out. Praying like crazy. And trusting that God will direct my heart and inform my actions, now and always. I am praying the same for you too.

Love,  Lauren

p.s. I have decided to tag along with Brance and read through some of the Old Testament books of the Bible. Mostly for support, since he knows so much and I tend to gravitate towards the New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs. We are in Isaiah (ch. 26) right now, reading one chapter a day, if you want to join us. Maybe we could all discuss what we learn along the way in an online bible group of sorts. Comment or reach out to me on the contact page, if you’re interested.

Giving myself grace

I used to not extend myself an ounce of grace.

A messy house,
Behind on the laundry,
Homeschooling needing some adjustments,
Forgetting to respond to someone,
A conflict,
Exhaustion, or anxiety, or winter blues:

Well, what was the matter with me? I needed to get it together. I needed to pull myself up by my bootstraps and just try harder. Because, obviously it was all my fault.

If only I had a better schedule, or worked harder, or had a different personality, then I wouldn’t be in this situation. Sad, right? But how many of us do this!

We bend over backward to help and encourage others when they are struggling, but don’t Continue reading