Monday, March 24, 2014

A Forced Rest

You know that you are too busy as a family when you all contract a stomach bug that takes you out for three days and when you are done you are like, "Wow, that was restful."

No seriously, I will spare you the gory details, but it pretty much took us one by one starting with Aria and ending with me. By Sunday we were pretty much all back to normal but we didn't go to church in case we were still contagious. Every time Levi asked where we were going we had to explain to him that we didn't want to get anyone else to get sick.

"I want to go to Mimi's house!"
"Levi, do you want Mimi to throw up like you did?"
"If we go to Mimi's house right now, she might get whatever we had and then she would throw up, that's why we can't go to Mimi's house."
"Oh, okay."

Honestly, we needed a break. Every night we were doing something. Every day we've been going somewhere and we all just needed a break. A chance to relax.

I've been thinking a lot about rest and Sabbaths lately. The last chapter of Jen's book 7 is about resting. I remember in my reading of the Bible in a year last year how many times God talked about breaking the Sabbath and how that was a sin. I was always like, seriously God? Is that really one of your ten commandments? It sounds kind of lame. Plus, don't you want us to work hard and do our work for You and all that? Not only did He command people to rest, but he also commanded it for the livestock and even to allow fields to rest and not to overwork the land. It's like He built something into the DNA of creation that needs to be able to stop and breathe. It's like He's a fan of this whole "resting" thing.

I've decided I'm a fan too.

Especially after this weekend.

It was a time to stop and do nothing all day. Honestly, I cleaned a lot on Friday, I was sick on Saturday (sat around and did nothing except puke) and Sunday was just a day to rest. We went on a walk, we had a time of family worship, Ben and I got up early and read the Word… I didn't even take a shower. (since I had taken one the night before after being sick all day.) We watched a few movies and some television shows online which I didn't feel guilty about AT ALL. I have decided that I just can't do TV that involves sex. Seriously people, that's like every TV show out there. (exasperated sigh) I really wanted to get into the show Parenthood and I really would like it, but there is so much sex in it. I can't do it. I talk to too many girls who do that stuff and wind up with unwanted pregnancies, I feel like it's all just a big fat lie that we swallow whole.

Okay, that was really a tangent. Sorry about that.

This is going to sound really weird. But I have felt the need to allow my body to rest from certain things as well. I'm going to try to spend at least one day a week without wearing makeup. I have been cutting WAY back on shampooing my hair and I'm now down to about once every two weeks. I don't wear deodorant some days … on purpose. I know, I'm a weirdo. But honestly, it's made my hair more cooperative, my skin feels better, I don't break out under my armpits (I know, I'm a freak) as much. I feel like we as Americans do too much to our bodies. We don't allow maybe what God intended to help us exist. I'm not totally sure and I'm not a doctor or scientist. I just do what seems right to me.


Right now I'm praying about what it would look like for our family to make sure and have a sabbath each week. This is my responsibility since I'm the mom and Ben usually just asks what we are doing this week. I'm kind of the calendar keeper I guess. The problem is I'm not a good planner. I like to go wherever the wind takes me. Blog? In the middle of folding laundry? Why, of course, let me just fix myself a cup of coffee and leave this basket half folded since this is prime time to blog while (holy moly) all three children are asleep. I don't plan much. I don't plan well.

Jesus, I need You. You are our life-giver. You are the Vine and we are the branches. Help us to abide in You. Okay, I surrender this area of rest/schedules/busyness over to You. Please teach me to rest. You said that the sabbath was made for us. You took seasons of rest. You obeyed the law perfectly. Help Ben and me to instigate rest in our household. That way we can go out and do more work for You and do our work well.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Struggles with Food

Dear blog,

I have missed you. Have you missed me? I hope so. I'm sorry I haven't written in a while. I will try to get better.

Yours truly (I've always wanted to sign my name like that)


I've been doing a lot of stuff lately. Painting our hallway. Learning how to make yogurt here and I love it. Doing a lot of laundry. Taking care of three little kids. It's overwhelming. And I love it.

I've been wanting to blog about so many things. Body image and how I don't want to hate my body anymore. Struggles with eating and food. My tips for breastfeeding (I like to think I'm an expert or something, this blog humors me). The music I've been listening to. The stuff God is teaching me. The list goes on and on and on…

Lord, what do you want me to write about? (Can you tell I don't plan these things? I just feel the itch to sit down and write with my computer).

I've been in a rebellious mood lately. I've wanted to eat the entire house's worth of chocolate, sweets, candy… the bad thing about knowing how to cook is that you don't need stuff ready made, you can make it if you want it. And then hide it so that your kids and husband can't find it. And then share it … if you feel like it. Jesus help me, I am a sinner.

The other day I sent out some flare prayer text messages to some friends, just asking them to pray for me because I was about to gain 20 pounds within a week if I didn't stop. Seriously, it felt that bad. Ben was gone a lot and I was tired and had a million excuses. The next day I found a book on my doorstep (with some pretty yellow flowers) called Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst  and I was like, "Really? Crud, I don't want to read this." Seriously. Sorry Amber, I'm just in a rebellious state right now. I don't know what's wrong with me.

Have you ever felt that way? Like you were some stupid teenager and everything that came across your path you just wanted to roll your eyes at and be like, "Seriously? I'm too old and mature for this?" (Like a punk, I was a punk, you can ask my parents).

But I decided to pick it up and it took me out to the woodshed. (Can I say that?) I guess that's what punk teenagers need sometimes. They need to be shown that they do not know everything in the world. I needed that.

I think sometimes that since I wrote an entire series about the redemption of my physical body and since I've lost 50 pounds TWICE already that I know all this stuff and it's no big deal. But really, I don't know nothin'.

She asked: Is it possible we love and rely on food more than we love and rely on God? 


The next paragraph got me.

"I had to get honest enough to admit it: I relied on food more than I relied on God. I craved food more than I craved God. Food was my comfort. Food was my reward. Food was my joy. Food was what I turned to in times of stress, sadness and even in times of happiness."

I've been asking the Lord to reveal the idols in my life. I think this would classify itself as an idol.

Lord, help me.

I need You to tear down the idols in my life and show me how to simply rely on You. How to truly love You and crave Your Word and spending time with You. My cravings for food leave me empty when I fill them. You fill me completely and utterly. Please fill me.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Full Circle

I hate it when I sit down to blog and then think, "Now what was it that I was going to blog about?" It was genius in the moment and I was so pumped and now it's completely gone from my mind. It's like walking into a room and forgetting why you are there in the first place. I kid you not, this happens to me no less than fifteen times a day. My kids must think mommy is a psycho, I'm just wandering around the house for most of the day trying to remember why I'm here.

Please excuse me, I don't sleep much these days.

Oh DST, I'm so glad we are springing forward. I love the late-setting sun.

Dear Jen Hatmaker,

I can't wait to finish 7 so that I can read it again. Or maybe try to find someone who will loan me Interrupted. (I'm cheap and I don't buy things.) Honestly, I hated your intro to the book, I was annoyed, but then once we got into it I was hooked. Line and sinker. I wish I was your best friend, but now I can't since I dissed your intro. Thank you for challenging me and messing with me. I really appreciate it.



I'm stalling okay? I still cannot get around what I was going to blog about.

Oh yeah, weight loss. Isn't that like half my blog anyways? I'm tired of it. Lord, why am I always going back to this stupid journey?

I finally caved and got some cheap, on sale jeans at Kohl's the other day. I kinda sorta like them. They will get me by.

I don't even know. Honestly, it seems like whenever I start to focus on my weight and my body that things just get worse. It's like when you pop a pimple instead of letting it take it's course, it just hangs on for that much longer.

This morning I almost wrote in my journal, "Lord, please help me lose weight." This was my prayer for years and years in college. I figured I could at least ask. Jesus tells us to ask. We can ask for anything and He will give it to us if it's in His will. Honestly, at that moment it didn't feel like … how do I say this? Like a worthy prayer? It was more like a selfish prayer. Why would I pray for that when there are orphans who need shelter (thank you Jen), friends who need lifting, children who need saving, churches who need covering? Just to name a few.

I think the problem with my depression about my body is that it's so self-focused. It's me-centered, that's why it fuels my depression.

Lord, get my eyes off myself.

Please help me to serve. Help me to intercede for others. Let me have eyes and ears for what You are doing. Help me to abide in You and may Your words abide in me so that then, when I wish for things they will be focused on You and not on my small things. You have a much grander adventure in mind and I think really, I like that better.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Prepare My [sinful] Heart

Blogging usually comes out of the most deep, dark places for me. If you only ever read my blog and didn't know me in real life you would probably think that I was sad and depressed all the time. Or maybe not. Maybe you would just think that I'm a broken person who messes up sometimes. Which, we all are, and if anyone says otherwise, they are lying.

Oh man, we are approaching the lenten season and I really want to fast from something. Okay, that sounds totally dumb "really want" shouldn't go along with fast. It's kind of like how people "really want" to run a half marathon or to wake up early or to eat better. In theory they want to, but when the rubber meets the road they're like "oh crap, I didn't really want to do this."

I talked to Ben about giving up social media and he was like, "you always give that up. Isn't there something else?" Maybe I could give up cleaning the bathroom or doing the laundry. His suggestion was that I give up sugar. Sure! Wait, what? I like sugar in my coffee every morning. That's how I meet with God! How is this supposed to help me get closer to Jesus.

I have been reading Jen Hatmaker's book 7 and it's messing with me. It's all about cutting back and reducing so that there is less of me and more of Christ. Less stuff, less food, less waste, less stress… more Jesus.

And now we are approaching a fasting season.


Ben is having weird hours at work. He's gone again this evening. I had a busy (good) afternoon, but it wore me out. I got home and he had to leave for work. My solution was to put the kids in front of the Letter Factory video and I would go in and lay down on Levi's bed for 30 mins. I think I did sleep at one point but then awoke to the sound of a diaper being torn off.

Aria has been tearing off her diapers lately. I'm not ready for this. I don't want to potty train her yet. I have no idea what I'm doing. I don't remember how we potty trained Levi, it was all just a blur that I want to forget. Oh dear Aria, please stop ripping off your diapers.

I got out of bed and found her with a poopy diaper in her hand. Poop was also on the floor. She had also pulled up her pants over her poopy bottom. It was no pretty.

"I cannot do this."

My brain was functioning on low.

What will solve this? Maybe if I eat something. Maybe that will make me feel better. Yes, good idea. What do we have in the refrigerator? Pantry? I couldn't tell you what I ate, only that it was stress eating. I was reaching out to food to help me. Ask me, "did it help you Jody?" No. It did not make Aria stop screaming at Levi who refuses to share just one or two of his twenty two cars that he plays with …  seriously?!

As we worked our way through the evening and I fed them dinner I began to think dark thoughts in my head about how when they went to bed I would have the biggest bowl of ice cream I could imagine. I would sit and eat it and watch "Say Yes to the Dress" on Youtube (confession of a guilty pleasure).

I even started to think, yes, I will fast from sugar, that's a good idea. Today is Fat Tuesday so that justifies a ginormous gorging even more.

What a knee jerk reaction.

Thankfully the Lord always props up a door or window out of my sin and temptation. These days He uses my kids. Somewhere in the evening they wanted to call Daddy. I was like, "good idea, then he can know how much I'm struggling at home without him!"

What's crazy is that somewhere in the mess and muddle of things, talking to Ben, dealing with the kids, I got my head on straight and thought, I don't need that. I don't need to go to bed with that on my stomach. It would just mess with my sleep.

Somewhere God gave me some grace. He reached down and saved me.

Lord, You know my heart. I want to know You more. I want to prepare my heart for Resurrection Sunday, the best day of the year as far as I'm concerned. Help me to prepare even in the midst of the chaos of three little kids. Give me wisdom. Help me not to make knee jerk decisions. Thank You for a way of escape. Help me to take those more often.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Freedom from Anger

Blog? I don't want to blog. I have a blog? I keep one? That's a joke.

I'm too tired to blog.

My back hurts.

My foot hurts.

Okay, I'm out of excuses. I guess I should blog.

Can I just pause here to thank the Lord for coffee? It just helps everything. It makes everything just a little better. I like honey and cream in mine. It's beautiful.

Okay, so onto today.

Can I just say that the past three days have been a big "mom fail" for me. I don't know what we did exactly or why. I can't name specific instances, I just know that there was lots of yelling and screaming and anger coming from all three of us. (Simeon doesn't count, he's just a baby and really, he probably cried the least of all of us.) Aria and Levi kept fighting and then I was distracted and would come in on the end of things and pass out judgement and punishment however I saw fit (probably unfairly). One night Ben was asking if he could run an errand before coming home and I told him he better come home or he might not have three kids by the time he got there.

It was a mess.

I was a mess.

I'm not sure how it creeped in, but I was becoming very angry. Yes, the kids were more needy this week, they are coming down with colds. Aria has been more whiney and has resorted to screaming. Levi has taken up a habit of scaring Aria when he wants her to do things. She will sometimes be okay with being scared, but usually it ends up in her screaming and crying. Then I lecture Levi about not scaring his sister and I say, "next time you scare her, you will get a spanking." Oh the threats. How I hate threatening. How I threaten.

On top of this Ben has been extremely busy at work. His company is implementing a huge new system and he plays an important role in it. He will be working strange, round the clock hours for the next few weeks. All that to say that he is working today. And it's a Saturday.

This morning started when Simeon woke up at 4;15. I nursed him in bed until Levi came in at 5 crying for a cough drop and someone to blow his nose. Ben went ahead and got up to read the Word. I decided to get up and shower at 5:30. Levi came back into our room at 5:45. I told him to go back to bed to which he whined "Nooooooooo!" There was no reasoning with him and I knew if he went and laid down he would just continue coughing. I hate coughs. They are from Satan.

Aria might have started crying at 6, I'm not sure. It doesn't matter.

I don't like mornings like this.

I want to start my morning ALONE. With my husband and the Lord and maybe Simeon, he's quiet so he can stay. I don't enjoy trying to read my Bible with my kids climbing all over me asking when they can eat breakfast. I go and fix them breakfast and then they start fighting, which in the world of a 2 and 4 year old that consists of yelling "Yes!" and "No!" for no particular reason. Jesus, help me, I might yell over all of them.

I sat on the couch wondering if this is what the rest of my day would look like. And I started to cry.

The only thing I could pray was "Jesus, I need You."

I wrote in my journal: Lord, I am struggling! I need You. I am bitter and angry at my kids. I don't want to be around them. They are annoying me. Everything they do is getting on my nerves.
Please help me Jesus! I don't want to feel this way! I want to love my kids. I want to not be annoyed by them. Please! I need You.

Verbatim. Seriously, I just copied that out of my journal. Ah, the rawness of motherhood.

Every morning before Ben leaves we pray. Sitting on the couch Ben and I told our kids to go to their rooms so mommy and daddy could pray. And don't come out or else. Parenting is never perfect right? We are a mess. Without Jesus we are a mess.

So we prayed. I don't remember what Ben prayed. He was in a much better state of mind than I was. I remember confessing my bad attitude and asking that the Lord would give me a new heart. I knew that the day could go either one of two ways: I could continue in my miserable attitude and have a miserable pity party day OR I could cry out to God and He would change everything. I didn't know what that would look like, but I have experienced His new mercies enough times to know that they really are new.

Ben left and I didn't feel any better. I was still angry and still bitter. Still dreading this awful day.

I felt like I needed to ask a friend to pray for me. So often I am willing to pray for others when they are in need, but I neglect to ask for prayer when I'm in need. I have this weird pride thing that says I have to struggle through it alone. It's ridiculous.

So I just sent an emergency text message to a friend who I had been able to lift up a few weeks before because she had sent me a text asking for help.

Then I put my phone away. I knew that Facebook and instagram could not fix any of my problems, as much as I wanted to post on them or run and hide into them, my only need in that moment was Jesus.

I started to pray.

Lord, what should I do?

It was probably 6:45 in the morning. Aria went to my computer and said "Fireworks" This is code for a song Praise Like Fireworks from Rent Collective's Campfire album. The kids LOVE it. I'm starting to get tired of it. But for some reason (maybe it was the Lord) I said, sure. Let's do this.

So we turned it on.

These are the lyrics

You've given us a heart, given us a home
You've given us a heart, given us a home
You've given us a heart, given us a home with You

I lift my voice to praise You
I lift my voice to praise You
My concrete heart won't stop me
My concrete heart won't stop me

I'll sing like it's the first time
I'll sing like it's the first time
And leave behind the cynic
I leave behind the cynic in my soul

We're letting praise like fireworks
Loose from our thankful hearts

We're bringing You our praise, bringing You our lives
We're bringing You our praise, bringing You our lives
We're bringing You our praise, bringing all our lives to You

Through joy and pain we worship
Through joy and pain we worship
With heart and soul wide open
With heart and soul wide open

Your strength will never fail us
Your strength will never fail us
We're not lost in the darkness
We're not lost in the darkness
You are here

Can I just say, that in a moment the Lord spoke into my heart. 
He's given me a heart and a home. I will sing and praise Him and I'm not going to let my concrete, angry, hard heart stop me. I will sing like it's the first time… 

Every lyric in that song was what I needed in that moment. The Lord showed me that there is power in praising Him. Even when I don't feel like praising Him. He gives us new hearts. That was what I needed in that moment. I started dancing around our living room like a crazy person. I did not even care. Worshipping at home where no one can see you but your kids is the BEST way to worship. The looks on Aria and Levi's faces were shock and delight. I was jumping up and down and declaring His praises. I don't know what came over me except that the Holy Spirit was so rich in  our home, it finally felt like I could breathe. All of my anger was GONE. Levi even started to act up and try to scare Aria in the middle of the song and the Lord allowed me to deal with him in my softest, kindest voice. I felt like a new person. 

So we listened and danced to the song a few more times. 

Then we just let the album play throughout the whole morning. I heard from the Lord about several other things I had been struggling with and He gave me a peace about them, a direction to go. 

I picked up my phone a little later and saw that my friend had texted me back. Her text was that she was praying for me and that I needed to PRAISE Jesus and have fellowship with Him. I texted her back and got to tell her that her prayers had been answered. 

I texted Ben and told him that he didn't need to worry about us, we were doing fine and that God is truly good. 

I finally felt free. Free from anger. Free from bitterness. I felt like I could truly love my kids and enjoy them. 

The scripture from Psalm 73 "The Lord is the strength of my life and my portion forever." kept ringing through my head. He is my strength and my song. I needed Him and He came through. 

Thank you Rend Collective for writing that song, the Lord used you in my life. 

Thank You Jesus for being so faithful, even when I have such a bad attitude and an angry heart. Thank You for a new heart. 

"And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart."
 Ezekiel 36:26 NLT