Thursday, March 28, 2013

Thoughts on Motherhood

It's Passion Week and I'm fasting from social media. Yes, I will share this on facebook, but I'm not going onto my facebook to check it. Just to get that straight.

I reserve the right to blog.

Lord, help me in this post. I want to honor You and share the things I have been learning.

Last week I posted about struggling with being "just a stay-at-home-mom" and doing all kinds of menial tasks and how I didn't feel like I was doing enough. I was thankful for a few emails with personal stories about the meaning of the work I am doing. I am reminded that the two children God has given me charge of are not the ones I should look over in search of higher purposes, they are the ones I need to be pouring into right now. Lord, this is humbling, let me not overlook them.

I've been listening to the Duggar's book 20 and Counting for the past few days. Let me just say, it is incredible. Yes, Michelle's voice is a little sing songy, but I don't even care. Their story is amazing. I find myself crying as I listen to the ways that God has provided. Their authenticity and their convictions, you can't deny that they live what they say.

I am reminded how much my job is to encourage.

Yes, I am very big on discipline. Sometimes, however, I can become too negative and I feel as though I'm looking for reasons to discipline Levi. He reacts and becomes more naughty and then I discipline him even more. I think he's going to get enough negativity from the world, I want him to know that my arms are a place that he can run to when he is hurting. I will be a place of comfort and unconditional love. Lord, help me in this, I am not perfect, but help me to speak life to my children.

Here's one practical thing I have gotten from the book that I am pumped about teaching: Blanket Time. You teach your child to sit quietly and play with one toy on a blanket. You start out with five minutes for the first week or so, then you slowly build up until the child can sit and play quietly for 30 minutes. She learned this technique with her second set of twins. She taught them when they were eighteen months. I think she had 8 other kids at the point. So, if she can teach twins with 8 other kids to take care of, I can teach my 15 month old with only one other kid.

Our blanket time looks like:
Be encouraging, say "Yay! It's time for blanket time! Aren't we so excited about blanket time?" with a big smile and act like it's the best thing your impressionable little child has ever experienced. The first time you sit them without a toy. The whole time you sit and look at them and say how good they are doing to sit and be quiet and still on their blanket. Whenever they try to get up you just say, "no no!" and put them back on. Never get too harsh, just be firm. When five minutes is up, say "All done!" and tell them they did so well and you are proud of them for sitting so quietly an good (even though they got up and you put them back 20 times already). The next day, do it again. I added a toy that Aria could play with as she sat there. She mainly wanted to hand it back and forth, so I backed up out of her reach. The goal is for her to play by herself.

Blanket time looked like so much fun that Levi wanted to get in on the action. So, he got his own blanket and his own toy to play with. I'm totally fine with both of them sitting quietly and playing, so I sat and encouraged him as well. "Look at Levi! He's doing so good on his blanket time!" I want it to be a positive, happy experience.

It was not a happy experience when we did it this morning though. I think Aria was hungry AND tired. Note to self: make sure you child is fed and rested before attempting blanket time. She cried a lot. I almost called it off, but then thought it wouldn't be good to just give in, after all, it was only five minutes. I also learned a lot about how she can obey, even when she's upset. Towards the end, she was sitting next to her blanket and I kept calmly, but firmly, telling her to get back on her blanket. She looked at me with tears in her eyes and I kept pointing and telling her to sit. Finally, she moved to her spot and we all cheered as big and loud as we could. I wanted her to know that she needs to obey, even when she doesn't feel like it. As soon as we were done we got a snack and went down for a nap.

I would encourage getting the Duggar book for reference, they have lots of helpful tips in parenting. She shares about her home births, nursing, homeschooling, organizing a house and all kinds of other things.

Friday, March 22, 2013


I have been realizing that life is just a series of small choices.

This is annoying to me. Why can't it be one big picture, I make one decision and it changes my life?

Example: This afternoon I wanted a huge spoonful of peanut butter. Nothing wrong with peanut butter for sure, that just happened to be my drug of choice this afternoon. I made myself a cup of coffee instead. I wanted to sit and look at facebook all afternoon, instead I did a few exercises from my yoga video. Right now I want to eat a bowl of ice cream. I had ice cream last night. The night before that I had a brownie. The night before that... well, let's just say I've probably had enough sweets this week.

I keep wondering why I still have a bit of a jiggle around my middle section (nothing wrong with it, I'm actually very satisfied with my body right now, strangely satisfied). This sounds so stupid to say I want to lose five pounds when I used to need to lose 50 or 60. Five pounds is DUMB. I'm just gonna say that for the record.

The truth is, it's not in some big, killer exercise program or weight loss program it is in the nitty gritty, every day, small, minuscule, tiny choices I make in my life.

I want it all to be solved in one night and then I want to be able to eat ice cream all the time, but the truth is, it's a much slower process than that.

A few afternoons ago I had to dump some ice cream in the trash. I was midway through a bowl of it and the Lord was giving me a way out. He was practically yelling at me that I was eating not because I was hungry (I was actually quite full) but because I was stressed about something completely different. I didn't feel like listening to songs I was supposed to listen to for worship team, the kitchen needed to be cleaned, the house was a disaster. I was overwhelmed. The Lord very clearly said, "you can either throw that away inside your body, or you can do it outside your body. You are not hungry at all Jody, lay it down. It's okay to waste food sometimes. It's okay."    

"Crap... okay, fine."

It's the small, everyday choices that I struggle with the most.

Oh Jesus, help me to listen.

A Struggle with Pride

I have been complaining a lot lately. A lot. Mainly to God. Mainly I've been shaking my fist at Him, wondering what in the world I am doing.

Shaking my fist at Heaven, 
Complaining about this bread unleavened. 

I don't like my portion right now... maybe it's not so much that I don't like it, I think it's just that I don't feel like it's enough. Does that make sense even? I keep looking at other people and the amazing things that they are doing and I look down at my own life and well, honestly, it seems kind of dumb. I feel like my life is dumb sometimes.

I do a lot of the same things. I clean my house A LOT. It doesn't look like I clean it which frightens me to think how it would look if I never really DID clean it. I was leaving the house this morning and tripped over a clear plastic pitcher Aria left on the floor. I looked over and all the towels had been pulled out of the drawer and thrown across the kitchen. This was just part of the mess. I made some of the mess too, the pans in the sink, the drops of juice on the counter... oh yeah, and there were the bananas Aria had thrown on the floor when she was finished with breakfast. I hate how that's the signal kids make when they are finished with food. "Welp, I'm done with this mom, I'll just be throwing it on the floor now." (Mom immediately freaks out and takes them out of their highchair, so effective).

Kids are just a lot of work.

They create a lot of meaningless, unnecessary work.

Okay, but my struggle is that I'm not doing enough. I'm not doing anything truly meaningful. Wiping noses and bottoms and fixing snack after snack, putting on shoes and socks, taking them off ten minutes later when the child wants to come in again, sweeping the dirt off the floor that they tracked in...

I wonder sometimes if I missed it.

Here's a confession. I used to lead worship with Kris Allen. He won American Idol back in 2008. Honestly, I have never considered myself good enough to take on something like AI, but I wanted to be a singer. I wanted to write songs and make music. I would do it small time, I wouldn't mind starving and working at Starbucks or whatever and if I happened to "make it big" that would be fine and it would be because the Lord opened a door. ... maybe I have never shared this dream with anyone but Ben... It sounds so stupid to me now. Ya know, like the kid who stands in front of the mirror with a hairbrush singing with (in my case Steven Curtis Chapman and Point of Grace) .... please do not judge me... I'm totally looking away right now.

Anyways, that whole thing with Kris Allen happened when I was first pregnant. I knew at that point any last hope of having that life was probably gone. I wasn't going to do that to a kid. The Lord had led us to that place, we had laid aside birth control, I knew I was supposed to be married to Ben, it was all clear.

Since then I think I have struggled with feeling like I'm not doing anything big.

No one sees what I'm doing, I'm not doing what I do best (I'm a terrible house cleaner, I struggle a lot with inefficiency) I haven't done much art since becoming a mom.

Lord, You see all of this. You see my lack of contentment. I feel like I'm complaining and just asking why in the world am I doing all of this?! But Lord, if no one saw what I ever did, only You saw it, all of my serving will be worth it. If I never created another thing, but only did menial tasks from now until I died, but did it for Your glory and for You, it would be worth it. It would be far better than doing beautiful artwork before thousands of people. Your delight in me, is of such greater value.

Help me not to seek my own glory. That's what I want, I want my own glory and praise, not Yours. Help me to seek Your glory. Make me humble. I am so sorry that I have not been depending on You and looking to glorify You. Help me, I am weak.

Thank You that You are strong.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Midblog Crisis ... who am i? why am i doing this?

To blog or not to blog... sometimes I just don't feel like blogging. Sometimes I hate it. I know I should blog and all... it's kind of like eating your vegetables... okay, maybe not that dramatic...

I've been struggling with the fact that my blogs are not ... well ... that grammatically correct. Sometimes I go back and read posts and think, this is terrible. Who the heck do I think I am? People actually read this stuff? I never proof it. I have old posts that I meant to rewrite or come back to and work on later, but I never have. All my drafts end up just sitting there, waiting for Armageddon to put them out of their misery. That's why I just type and post. And share. Maybe I will grow up someday... maybe I will proofread my posts when I'm adult. But right now, I don't have time, I don't have the willpower and I don't have a professor on the other end who will give me an A, C+ or even an F. I just have you. My readers, yes, I'm talking to you. I can't believe you read this blog and all of it's errors. I am so sorry.

I'm guessing the reason why you read this blog is for the rawness.

Yes, it's like reading the pages of a journal sometimes. There are no grammar judgements, there's only the real emotions, the real story. It's just me, putting my thoughts as much into words as much as I can manage.

Thank you for reading. I always imagine sitting in a coffee shop (double tall white mocha for me, yes, I LOOOVE sugar and caffeine) and just talking about life. Again, no judgments, just life.

I'm not trying to publish a book or let people know how awesome my life is, I'm just working out my thoughts, sharing the goofy things my kids do, the insanity that makes up my brain...

I found out a long time ago that when I'm completely honest, it helps others to not feel quite so alone. That's why I share things that might be uncomfortable to some at times. I hate the sin that keeps us trapped inside and feeling like we have no one to share with. So here I am, speaking out, because honestly, it doesn't matter what you think. It doesn't matter what I think, or what anyone thinks. It's been incredibly freeing in my life to know that the only opinion that matters is God's. 

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 1 Corinthians 5:21

If I am in Christ I am the righteousness of God. 

Lord, that astounds me. That you would take a wretched sinner, pull me up out of my sin and put newness and righteousness on me... I'm amazed. I lay down my life and say that it is Yours, do as You will with it. 

To you, reader friends, thank you for participating with me. I hope that my thoughts make you feel a little less alone. I hope they draw you closer to God and cause you to seek Him more. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Letters to Littles

Dear Aria,

You are officially a walker. Oh my, how you have longed for this ability. You are now fourteen months, your brother was about this age when he began walking, so as far as I'm concerned you are right on track.

What makes life interesting is that you are also a climber. You continue to amaze me with the things you climb and your fearlessness as you climb them. You don't seem to care about height or laws of gravity or any of those things, you seem to only be determined to get to the top. The other day in the yard you climbed into the wagon and stood straight up. Maybe you just like the perspective from above. You figured out how to get yourself into the wagon by pulling up with your arms, kicking your feet up and sliding into it on your belly. You are creative in your methods. I think Levi would have just stood beside it and cried until I put him in. You are proof that where there is a will, there is a way.

You were also moved to the toddler class at church. I wasn't quite ready for you to go in, but when I went in to check on you I saw you happily toddling about amidst the other babies. I think you especially liked the slide in your new classroom.

You are a determined little walker. I remember the night when you had just begun walking distances by yourself, more than 10-15 steps. I was showing a friend, intending for you to toddle up and fall into my arms. You walked right past me! You were so focused on your little feet, you just didn't want to stop.

Your daddy is very protective of you. I'm the type who will let you wander around in sight, attempt the stairs without me being right there and let you figure things out on your own. Your daddy will hold your little hands and follow you around. He knows that you are precious and small. You are his fragile little flower. He loves it when you laugh and when your smile spreads wide across your face. He definitely has a big soft spot in his heart for you. It makes my heart melt to see it.

You have been developing your little will. Thankfully your temper tantrums aren't that big of a deal right now (I'm sure they will be much worse as we approach your second birthday). They are more so just funny to me. (Note to self: do not laugh in front of my children when they are throwing a tantrum, it will not be beneficial later). Here's what happens: you are told not to touch something, you turn and ever so gently get on your belly and then you start to scream, cry and bang your little fists and feet on the ground. It usually only lasts a few seconds, but it is funny how you try to find a comfortable place where you can stretch out to your full crying potential. No child is taught how to do this stuff, it's just buried deep down inside of them and comes out. Amazing.

You really are a sweet little girl. I know you are going to be a good helper. You like to be in the middle of things, but still have a quiet way about you. I'm praying that you grow to be strong in the Lord. Praying that you will be a place of peace for others in the midst of life's storms. I'm praying that you will value people above things, that you will not struggle with comparison, that you will love at all costs, more than anything, I'm praying that you will love Jesus and accept his payment for your sin. He really is the only thing that can wash clean your sinful heart. Someday I will share with you the story of my brokenness and how he has made me whole again.

I love you my sweet little girl,


Friday, March 8, 2013

Levi Stories

The other day Levi hit Aria. This is not an unusual occurrence, I can usually count on it several times an hour. Still, I told him to go into his room and think about how to treat her gently. He ran in crying and suddenly I heard his cries through the air conditioning vent in Aria's room.

:: side note ::
Sometimes you do things in parenting that you KNOW you should not be doing. You know in that moment, this is going to cost you in your disciplining. This was one of those times, so please do not judge the following with the thought, "is this how she parents?!"

Okay, so I had this sudden idea. I went over to the vent and spoke in my lowest, deepest, longest tone, "LEVI." (it's a good thing I've had all my vocal training all these years, it certainly comes in handy in these situations.)

Silence on the other end. I do it again. This time he says, "who is that?" I tell him it's the voice from below in as daunting of voice as possible. Thankfully we've never watched scary movies or anything like that so he has no reference for the fact that this should be scary. I tell him in my deep deep voice not to hit his sister. He says, "what's yer name?" I say, "Aria." He laughs and says "No yer not! Is yer name Jody?' I tell him my name is Fred, he still doesn't believe me. I tell him I'm Daddy and he still insists that I'm Jody. Aria is laughing and squealing next to me, doesn't she know she's giving away my location?!

The hitting is long forgotten by this time and we are in a battle of names. I finally leave my post and go next door to his room and he says, "You were down there!" I thought, this is totally awesome. He thinks I was in the air conditioning vent. He probably thinks I'm super mom or something.

Other bits and pieces:
- Levi's imaginary friend is Elmo. Elmo is also a she. She is about two feet tall, plays the guitar and accompanies Levi when he plays the harmonica. He told me he wants me to drop him and Elmo off at church so that they can play music and everyone can dance. He came up with this idea on his own.
- I'm teaching Levi how to approach someone and ask if he can play for them, complete with a bow at the end. It makes my heart completely happy.
- He's always asking who's coming over or where are we going? He's definitely a people person.

Oh my Levi, I love your stories. I love YOU!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Yoga As Exercise

Recently a friend blessed me with a few yoga videos. She may never know how much she has blessed my life now. They are called Yoga Shakti by Shiva Rea and I LOVE them. The scenes are beautiful, the workouts are not difficult but you do feel like you're actually doing something, her voice is very soothing.

Anyways, just wanted to share why I love yoga videos right now as a stay at home mom.

1. I can do them any time. It's usually best during naps because Aria sees me doing some of the poses and thinks I have turned into a person jungle gym. She usually squeals with delight as she starts to crawl on me.
2. I don't have anyone around to judge me. Except maybe Levi sometimes... he did comment the other day, "No mom, that's not how you do it..." Thanks buddy. I have found that I'm just not self-conscious when I get to do yoga on my own. I am less judgmental against myself about my body and my clothing. I have no one to compare to, just me being me.
3. I can do as much or as little as I want to in a day. I like to do 15-20 minutes in the morning and then around 30 minutes in the afternoon. It helps me regain my energy and balance. I've found that I've been more energized after doing yoga than I do a normal workout. This is amazing to me. I think it's the breathing and stretching, and probably just the centered feeling I get from doing something so meditative.
4. I don't have to get out of my house. It's super cold (still! :(!) in Little Rock and so I'm not as apt to go for a walk, but I can do yoga in the warmth of my own house. I just put on my yoga pants, roll out my mat and I'm there. A-ma-zing.

Those are all the reasons I can think of right now.

Something extra special happened this morning. Aria was down for her nap and Levi wanted to make popcorn for a snack and I told him I had to finish this workout first and he could not interrupt until I was done or else we weren't going to have popcorn. So I started the DVD back and began working out. I look over and he is doing the exercises with me. He's in downward dog, upward dog, lunges, warrior poses. It was so cute I could hardly hold my poses because I wanted to laugh. I tried not to of course because I want him to know that he is AWESOME.

Just wanted to share.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Sharing a Room

Recently I posted about how we are putting Levi and Aria in the same room. He is three and she is almost fourteen months.

Well, there has been a slight hiccup in the plans, but we are hoping it will smooth out soon.

There were several reasons for doing this.

One was the fact that we felt it would be good for their relationship as brother and sister. It would be a bonding of sorts that would say, we are in this together, this would teach them to share space. Aria loved waking up with Levi. Usually in the mornings we would hear a little cry from her. Then it was as though you could tell when she looked around the room and saw Levi because she would just start to squeal. He also likes being the big brother and having a little sister who looks up to him.

Two is the fact that I don't have space to do my artwork. Since we have started eating all of our meals in the dining room and that's my only space to do art, I just haven't done. Period. We feel like it would be a healthy outlet for creativity. Sometimes as a mom it feels like the only thing you do is wipe bottoms and wash ... well, everything.

Three, we also wanted to have a guest room. We were very excited when a friend used it the other night and we just got to minister to them in that way.

In general it also just cleared up space in our house. I now have a place to put my keyboard, guitar, sewing machine and art supplies. They are no longer piled in a corner of our room.

Logistically, we couldn't put the down at the same time because they would spend the whole time laughing and keeping each other up. We stole from Ben's awesome *sister the idea of putting the younger one down first and then letting the older one come in quietly after the younger was asleep. We were really excited about the fact that Levi seemed to stay in his bed better (didn't get up to ask for a drink or go potty or for us to pray for him) than when he had his own room.

Everything went great... for about a week.

For that week we had kept my nursing chair in the room so that if Aria woke in the middle of the night and I had to settle her down I would have a place to sit. Yes, I nurse her in the middle of the night if nothing else works. Yes, she's almost 14 months. No, she doesn't need to eat in the middle of the night. She weighed 23 pounds at her 12 month appointment.

She was sleeping through the night but would occasionally wake. I would go in and nurse her. Levi stayed asleep through her crying. This surprised me that he could sleep that deeply, even with her loud cries in the middle of the night... and she's not a gentle cryer.

I decided I didn't want this big nursing chair in the room any more and so we moved it.

Then she really started waking. After several nights she was waking Levi up. It wasn't like she would wake, cry for a little bit and then roll over and go back to sleep. Oh no, she would dead out scream for 30 minutes, maybe more. One night I was so tired that Ben heard both of them screaming and crying, brought Aria into bed for me to nurse her, I remember being half awake and then later realizing she had been nursing. I'm not sure how long she was in our bed... maybe 20 minutes maybe 2 hours...

The next morning I told Ben that Aria needed to figure out her nights first. We would temporarily put Levi back in his own room and let her cry out her nights until she can figure out that we are not coming to get her. So far it's been about a week and a half. Right now she's just waking up super early 4, 5 and 6 and wanting to nurse. It's ridiculous. I'm trying to give her a sippy cup but it just makes her angrier. This morning at 5 I laid with her in Levi's old bed.

I've decided to try the chiropractor since she's had a few bad falls and has just learned to walk. I'm sure her little body could use some adjusting.

Also, I'm hoping Daylight Savings Time will help with the early waking.

Another thing is that we might be in the process of dropping her morning nap (which would be totally awesome in my opinion).

She also might be teething...

And sometimes has a bad diaper rash....

So all in all, we are still excited about getting them in the same room and figuring out this whole process. It has been two steps forward and one step back, but we are still hopeful.

Lord, thank you for children, thank You for providing this beautiful house. Thank You that we can always be humble and content in You. Please guide us as we parent these two little ones. Help them to be the best of friends, to love each other and help each other. Help us to figure out what's going on with Aria and how we need to handle this. Thank You for your grace and Your mercy. You are good.

*Oh yes, if you want a link to Ben's awesome sister's blog, here it is She has five little ones ages 6 and under. She also has a ton of wisdom. :)