Leap of Faith

This past weekend, I spent time with 8 of my closest friends for our annual girls’ trip to the beach. One afternoon a few of us were sitting on the beach discussing the feeling of being trapped by our chosen career. We chose a career path when we were younger that we were so passionate about. We all became teachers. We just knew that we were going to make a difference in the lives of so many children. I know I felt like that was what God had always called me to do. I was destined to be a teacher. Unfortunately for many of us, that path is no longer one that we really want because teaching tends to suck the life out of you.  When you are someone that devotes everything to your career, you eventually will become burned out.  You are forced to choose your job over everything else in your life because you think that is what you are supposed to do. It’s who you are. Sadly, it makes you become bitter, resentful, and angry.  It causes you to take time away from the people and things you love the most.  I know it made me a miserable person.  I wasn’t someone that others wanted to be around.  I took all of my frustrations out on my own kids and husband.  They always got short changed because the job came first.  It got to the point where it took all I had just to get through each day.  I had nothing left by the time I got home to my family each evening.  I felt like a failure…a failure to my students, to my kids, and to my husband. It is really sad to hear that so many of my teacher friends feel the same way. It is sad to hear teacher after teacher leaving the profession because they just can’t take it anymore.  What is more heartbreaking, though, is all of those teachers that are forced to stay because they are afraid to leave.  They are afraid of loosing an income that their family desperately needs.  They are afraid of the unknown. They are afraid of no longer having a purpose in their lives. They are afraid of not knowing who they are because their whole existence has always been about being a teacher.  They are afraid of loosing their identity.  These are all things that I struggled with when I made the decision to walk away from the classroom.  It is the same thing that many of my friends are struggling with.  

As I sat there on the beach, I looked one of my friends in the eye and told her that she is worthy of something else.  She is worthy of something more. We all are.  I only wish that someone had told me that years ago. I may not have listened, but I would like to think that maybe it would have sunk in and made a difference. Staying in a situation that clearly is killing you is not worth it. It is not worth the stress, the fatigue, or fight that you constantly have with yourself.  It is not worth all of those times that you feel like a failure as a mom because you can’t devote the time you need to your children or the times you feel like a failure to your students because you are being pulled in a million directions.  It is not worth it.  It wasn’t worth it for me. I was not willing to sacrifice my own happiness, my family, my health, or my sanity anymore.  I had to take that leap of faith.  Of course I worried about how my family would handle the financial loss of my income. I worried about what my purpose in life was. Who am I if I am not a teacher? I worried about looking like a quitter. I worried about letting people down.  I worried that I was going against God’s plan for my life.  I can tell you that it was not an easy decision. It was not something that I took lightly, and it certainly wasn’t something that came quickly.  It actually took me 3 years to decide that I wasn’t going back to teaching.  There are still days when I think about how much easier it would be on my family if I just went back.  There are days that I still feel like I want to go back. I loved working with my students.  I really did. I know that was what I was called to do at that time. Unfortunately, I just didn’t love all of the extra stuff that came with the job or the pressure. It wasn’t my passion anymore. Maybe I will go back one day, but right now my choice is for something else.  It is for something that fulfills me in ways that teaching no longer did. 

How did I finally get to the place I am now? Trust me, it wasn’t easy.  I did a lot of praying. I did a lot of soul searching. I had to rediscover who I was without teaching.  I had to really reflect on what my dreams are now. I learned that those dreams are something totally different than what they were 20 years ago, and that is okay.  I listened to a few podcasts and read a couple of books.  Most of all, I sat still and listened to God. I listened to what his will for my life is now. I had come to a fork in the road. One path was the one that I thought I was supposed to be on. It was the path that was familiar.  It was the path I knew my way through.  The other path was new. It was a path that led to places I had never been.  It was scary. I was afraid I would get lost, but when I was still, I heard God telling me to take the unfamiliar road. He told me that he would be my guide. He would lead me through the uncharted waters.  He promised me that he would hold my hand and carry me when I needed him.  You know what? That is exactly what he has done. He showed me that I was supposed to become a teacher all those years ago. I was supposed to influence the lives of hundreds of children, but he also showed me that chapter in my life is over. God has different plans for me now.  Yes, we have struggled financially since loosing my income. Yes, it has been hard. Yes, it has been an adjustment. Guess what? It has been worth it all because I am worthy of something more. God showed me that. He has provided for me in all the ways I needed. He has now opened doors for me that I never knew existed. He is leading me down the uncharted path one step at a time. He has blessed my family in ways we never could have imagined. He is taking care of us because we are all in his hands and he is in control.  

I am so glad that I listened and took that leap of faith.  If I hadn’t, I would still be in the midst of a job that was literally killing me.  It was robbing me of so much.  I would never have known what amazing things that God has in store for me now. Sometimes it is still scary.  I still second guess myself.  Whenever those times come up, I stop and pray.  A peace will come over me, and I will be reminded of whose I am and who is in control.  If you are at a crossroads and you have to choose the right path, I encourage you to be still and listen.  Search your soul.  Rediscover who you are.  Take the leap of faith. Dive head first into those uncharted waters. You are worthy. You are worth the jump. God will take care of you, and he will show you the way.

Anchored on a New Path,

6,933 Days of Imperfection

In just 6 days, my husband and I will be celebrating our 19th wedding anniversary. In some ways it feels like a lifetime ago and in other ways it seems like a few weeks ago.  I am not going to sit here and lie to you and tell you that it has been 19 years of wedded bliss.  I can’t say that, and I believe that anyone that does is either lying to themselves or to you.  No marriage is absolutely perfect.  No marriage is without arguments and struggles.  While I cannot say that the past 19 years have been absolutely perfect, I can say that I would do it all over again, including all the heartache and struggles.  Those things have made me who I am now, and I am sure that my husband would say the same thing.  I think we could both say of each other that we are very different people than we were 19 years ago.  I know I was a young, naïve, skinny little thing who had no clue what military life was all about.   I had dreams about the perfect little family with the perfect house.  I had dreams that I was going to change the world as a beloved teacher who was making a difference in the lives of children with special needs.  The perfect life. While I did get the family and the house, and I think I made a difference in the lives of many kids, none of it was perfect.  None of it was without struggle.  My image of perfect didn’t really exist.  It wasn’t realistic.  I am not telling you that I have had a bad life or a bad marriage by any means.  In fact, I would say that my marriage is pretty darn good. It’s just not picture perfect all the time, and I no longer want it to be.  

Marriage is hard in general, but throw in military life and it is even harder. Military life adds a whole aspect to your marriage that those that aren’t military would never understand.  I can assure you, your husband’s traveling doesn’t compare! You can never fully understand unless you have lived it, and I don’t even think I could adequately explain it. If I were to add up all of the days that my husband has been deployed, I would not be exaggerating to say that he has been gone for at least half of our marriage. He has missed so many things, and I know that weighs heavily on him.  It has changed us both.  People tell me all the time, that I am so strong and that they don’t know how I do it. I am strong when I have to be, but all those people didn’t see what happened when I was in my room all those nights feeling a deep loneliness and the weight of the world crushing my shoulders knowing that I had to get up the next morning and brave it all again alone. It was hard, and no amount of strength could have made it any easier for either of us.  One of the hardest days of my life and my husband’s was a day when we should have both been rejoicing.  It was the day our youngest daughter was born.  He wasn’t there.  He was deployed and unable to come home.  By some miracle, he happened to be pulled into a port that day, so he did get to talk to me on the phone that day and knew that she had been born and she and I were fine. He literally went back to sea minutes after she was born, and we didn’t have any communication with him again for 6 weeks.  I can only imagine what torment that was for him.  I know how hard it was for me, but I know it was even worse for him.  He didn’t get to meet our daughter until she was 3 months old.  I know that is something that will haunt him for the rest of his life.   Another struggle that military life brought was having to learn to live with and share life with each other over and over again. There was always a learning curve adjusting to life together and apart every single time he left and every single time he came home. It wasn’t easy.  I can go on and on about the struggles of military life, but that isn’t what is important.  What is important is that it was hard.  It did affect our marriage and who we were as individuals and together.  

Yes, I could say that I would have rather not have experienced any of that, but that’s not entirely true.  I proved to myself that I could do hard things. I had strength that I never knew existed inside me. It forced me to step way out of my comfort zone over and over again. It shaped me into the person that I am now.  That person is someone that I am proud of, someone I want my girls to look up to. That young, naïve girl from 19 years ago is gone. In her place is a woman who loves her husband more than anything in the world, knows that life isn’t perfect, has strength beyond measure, has fought her way through the tough times, and has dreams that are far bigger than anything she could have imagined years ago. No my marriage isn’t perfect. We fight, we argue, and we even dislike each other sometimes; but none of that matters.  At the end of the day he is my person and I am his. We love each other beyond comprehension, and we will continue to grow and change together through whatever life throws us until we are both no longer here on this Earth.  Then we will spend eternity together in heaven where we will walk hand in hand along those golden roads. I know that sounds cheesy but it’s true.  We joined together as one that day 19 years ago, and we will stay that way forever.  As I look back over the years, I see lots of struggles and hard days, but I also see so many days of happiness, love, and pure joy. I don’t want to erase any of them.  I want to hold them all tightly in my heart.  There is plenty of space left for all the days that are to come, and I can’t wait to see what they hold for us.  I have said before that I am perfectly imperfect, and I can totally say the same thing about my marriage.  The past 6,933 days have been perfectly imperfect. Here’s to many, many more! 

Anchored in love,

The Fierce Fourteen

I’m back!! The last 5 days have been a whirlwind of activity and emotions so this might be a long post. After waking up at 4:45 AM, we flew to Orlando Thursday morning for the weekend of cheerleading. Thanks to an airplane delay, some ticket craziness, and insane traffic, we barely made it in time for my daughter’s practice with her team that evening.  Talk about stressful! Following practice the kids had a team dinner with their coaches while my husband, oldest daughter, and I went to a Hibachi restaurant nearby. That was my first experience with a Japanese steakhouse (I’m kind of a picky eater).  While I wasn’t brave enough to try most of it, I did really enjoy the chicken I got.  I was so hungry by the time we got there, though, that I think my chopsticks would have tasted good if I ate them! LOL! Following dinner we headed back to our hotel so that I could begin the process of curling my daughter’s hair for the competition the following day. I was so glad when I could finally crawl into bed that night, but I did not get a good night of sleep.  I think the stress of the day, the nervousness about the competition, and the fact that the pillows in the hotel where thin as paper kept me up most of the night and every night after. I am so tired this morning!

We spent Friday morning getting ready doing hair and makeup to prepare for the competition.  We left our hotel extra early because we did not want a repeat of the night before.  Our call time is always a few hours before the actual competition so we ended up sitting and watching other teams compete for quite a while before our girls went on.  I think for me personally, watching the other teams just added to my nerves.  The teams that made it to The Summit are the best of the best in the nation.  It was just a huge honor that we made it there at all, and it was all a bit overwhelming.  We were up against 24 other teams on Friday in the Wild Card round.  We knew going into it that we had to be in the top 5 to make it to the finals on Sunday.  Again, the competition was fierce.  When it was finally our turn to perform all of the parents were scrambling and climbing seats just so we could get a good view.  The arena was INSANE! Anyway, our girls performed and the parents all thought it went well.  Maybe it wasn’t their best but none of us saw anything major happen.  Boy, were we wrong!  When the team came out, the parents started to cheer for them until we realized that they were all crying. We could quickly tell that these weren’t happy tears.  Apparently there were a couple of stumbles and things that they believed were going to cost them their spot in the top 5.  All of the parents were then on their phones watching the videos to see if we could see what they were talking about. Even the coaches were devastated.  They kept saying that this never happens with this team.  They had seen the score and knew that it was a low score compared to what the team normally scores.  This team had been killing it all season long.  They have won every single competition this season except the very first one. They work so well together as a team and their coaches have poured their hearts into these kids.  They are all truly something special.  The disappointment was too much to bear for some of them.  

We wouldn’t know who the top 5 teams were until later that evening.  Many of us even debated on whether or not to even go to the reveal because we had been given the impression that it was a lost cause.  I am super proud of this team because despite the downer of the day, they all still wanted to be there together to hear the news.  We all trekked over there at 8:30 PM and huddled together to wait it out.  Of course they were running behind and we had to wait anxiously.  When the lady finally walked out onto the field, our stomachs dropped because we just knew we weren’t going to hear our team’s name called.  I decided that I was going to video the announcement just in case.  The announcer started with the #1 team from the day and then went down in order to the 5thplace team.  By the time she got to the end, we were fairly certain that we were out.  

Let me tell you, when she said that the final team making it to the finals was us, I nearly dropped my phone as you can see.  We were in utter shock! Everyone, including all the parents and coaches, was in tears.  These were happy tears this time.   One of the coaches said that she had been praying all day for a second chance for this team and that God had delivered.  They had gotten their second chance to prove how amazing they truly are. I think the other coach was just in a state of shock.  I was worried that she was going to pass out!  It was such an incredible moment.  We were going to the finals!

We got the day off on Saturday and spent it at Magic Kingdom.  It was so great to be back in our favorite place.  Disney feels like home.  It rained and stormed most of the day so we didn’t get to ride everything the girls wanted to ride because most of the rides were shut down due to lightening. That was a disappointment, but we still had a great time.  

Sunday brought the biggest day of all! We had an early start because we were the first team to compete. We were up against the other 4 teams from the Wild Card round on Friday and 10 new teams that qualified on Saturday. It was the best 15 teams in the country competing against each other. The team and parents were all a nervous wreck.  Let me tell you, this team came in it to win it.  They had something to prove after Friday’s disaster.  They went out on that floor and gave it everything they had. They threw up their best performance of the entire season and left it all on that floor. All of their blood, sweat, and tears showed up on that floor.  It was truly amazing to watch.  This time, they all came off the floor crying happy tears. They knew that they had done their absolute best.  They had redeemed themselves, and it was a glorious moment. 

Later that day as we sat watching the kids holding hands and waiting to hear who had won, I was reflecting on the past few days and the entire season.  This team is the truest picture of what hard work, determination, and teamwork will do for you.  They got knocked down big time, at their very first competition together as a team at the beginning of the season, but they didn’t give up. It just fueled them to work harder.  They went the rest of the regular season undefeated and earned their rightful place at The Summit where so many dream about going but never get the chance.  They got knocked down once again on the first day, but they were given a second chance and weren’t going to let it go to waste. They pulled it all together and gave it their all. The competition was tough, and they could have totally given up, but they didn’t.  They were ready to prove to the world how special they are.  They may not have won, but they sure won the hearts of many. The little engine that could, did and did it with such style and grace. I couldn’t be prouder of every single one of them.  They pulled out a top 10 finish and placed 9th in the country.  I would say that is a win in my book!

Couldn’t we all learn something from these 14 fierce kiddos? I know I have been knocked down more times that I can count, and I have given up after many of them.  I felt like I had been defeated and didn’t see the point in continuing to push forward, so I quit. I can only imagine where my life would be now if I hadn’t give up all those times.  If I had just stayed the course and kept pushing through without letting the defeat weigh me down, who knows what could have happened? Let us all learn to have determination and unwavering strength and drive so that we can always push for our goals just like our fierce fourteen!

Anchored,

Fighting the Fight

I have shared with all of you before that my youngest daughter has had a lot of medical issues in her life.  She has a condition called Eosinophillic Esophagitis.  Because of this she developed severe food aversions as an infant, and these food aversions continue today even though she is now 11 years old. This means that her diet is extremely limited.  When I tell people this, they often don’t really get the severity of it.  I am not talking about your typical picky kid. I’m not even talking about those few extremely picky kids.  I am talking about a severe fear of food.  I am talking about the knock down, drag out, tantrum throwing, crying, gagging, and vomiting type of severe food aversion.  She has spent about 5 years in feeding therapy in order to get her to eat anything besides yogurt and applesauce, which is what she ate for every single meal until she was 4 years old.  I am not exaggerating.  That is literally all she ate.  

Here is the list of things that she will eat for meals now just so you can get an idea of the severity:

  1. Hot Dog-no bun, no condiments, no ends
  2. Pasta-plain, no trace of anything other than butter on in (oh and butter is a fairly new addition), and only eats about ¼ cup
  3. Peanut Butter or Sun Butter Sandwich -no crust, no jelly, and only eats ½ of a sandwich
  4. Chicken Nuggets-only from McDonalds, Chick-fil-a (only the center after she has picked every piece of breading off), or Perdue Simple Lightly Breaded (which I can no longer find), 
  5. Pork Chop-only cooked by me, only cooked in the crock pot, and no seasoning, only eats about ¼ of one pork chop
  6. Chicken-only cooked by me, only boiled, no seasoning, only eats ¼ of chicken breast 
  7. Hamburger-will eat if forced to at a restaurant but picks apart, no bun, no edges, no condiments, only eats about ¼ of patty
  8. Pancakes-only Eggo mini’s, no syrup, will eat from Cracker Barrel or IHop, will only dip in a little syrup at Cracker Barrel
  9. Waffles-only Eggo, no syrup, occasionally with peanut butter
  10. Yogurt-only one specific brand, only vanilla

Fruits:

  1. Apples
  2. Bananas
  3. Grapes (recently has not been eating)
  4. Applesauce (recently has not been eating)-only cinnamon flavored and only one brand

Vegetables:

  1. Green beans-only cooked by me, only 4-5 beans
  2. Red pepper-raw only
  3. Potato-only baked, no butter, only salt

That is the extent of what she will eat at meals besides things like fries, chips, and snack type foods.  It took many years, a lot of tears, and a lot of therapy to get just these few foods. As you can imagine, this makes going out to a restaurant extremely difficult. If they do not have pasta that she can get plain, a hot dog, or a hamburger, we cannot go there because she will not eat.  I pack her lunch every single day of the week for school.  She has a special 504 Plan through the school that allows her to use a microwave at school so that she can heat up whatever I send her.  This limited diet also makes things very difficult for her to go over to a friend’s house.  Up until one weekend a few weeks ago, she had only ever spent the night with one particular friend (or really gone over to any other friends house besides that one) because her mom understood the circumstance and had a shelf in her pantry of just my daughter’s foods.  I knew that whenever she went over there, this mom would fix her something that she could eat.  This past summer, my daughter wanted to go to a sleep-away camp, but I couldn’t let her because I knew that she wouldn’t eat and there was no way for the camp to accommodate her foods.  We are headed to Orlando soon for her cheer competition.  Her team is doing a team dinner one night with a fixed menu. I have to prepare my daughter for several days ahead of time about what the options are (none of which she will eat) trying to talk her into eating that night. My husband and I already know that we will likely have to feed her later that night. This is a daily battle.  It is a battle I have fought every single day since she was born.  Making sure that she has food to eat and that she is eating enough is a full time job. It is always in the back of my mind. It’s exhausting. We no longer send her to feeding therapy because we had made no progress in over a year with getting her to even try new foods.  We basically gave up.  Therapy was causing too much stress and resentment, and we felt like it was not worth it.  I have had to resign myself to the fact that this is who she is and that we aren’t going to be able to force her.  It’s not something that she is going to grow out of like many people and doctors have said to me.  It won’t do any good to just “let her starve because she will eat if she is hungry enough” as so many have told me. Trust me, we’ve tried it. She would rather starve to death than to eat new foods. We now just monitor her weight very carefully.  She has been labeled as failure to thrive because she doesn’t grow and gain weight like she should.  Doctors have threatened her with a feeding tube if she doesn’t gain enough weight. A recent bone test reveled that her bones are a full year behind in growth. I honestly don’t know how she even survives and thrives at all with as little as she consumes in a day.  Last week she had a chorus concert with other 5th grade classes from other schools in the area.  Seeing her standing there among her same age peers was saddening.  She is extremely small compared to every other kid her age. Most people don’t believe that she is 11 because she is so small.  

I know that there are many other moms out there who have children that have feeding issues or something similar.  I know how exhausting it can be.  I know how stressful it is.  I know how many nights you lie awake wondering what else you could have done to prevent this. You worry about your child’s health. You worry about her growth.  You wonder why? Why me? Why my kid? I know how it feels when other moms shame you. I know how it feels to listen to everyone else’s version of what you should do. I know you worry about how others treat your child.  I also know that, like me, you will keep fighting the fight. You will keep moving forward despite all the setbacks.  That’s what we as moms do.  We have to. It’s our job. If not us, than who? Well, I am here to tell you that we’ve got this! We can do hard things.  They only make us stronger.  They make our kids stronger.  I encourage you to not be discouraged. Don’t listen to everyone else. Do what you think is right. Don’t give up. Keep fighting the fight.  I am on your side, and we can do this crazy little thing called motherhood. 

Anchored, 

Kids are Annoying…Sometimes

Well, my doctor diagnosed me with a sinus infection just like I expected and prescribed me an antibiotic.  First of all, I am allergic to penicillin, which makes many doctors nervous about what to give me every time I have a sinus infection (which is a lot). When I go to an urgent care place, they always give me a Z-Pack even though I have told them a million times that it never works.  I always end up going back in for another antibiotic.  Since I went to my regular doctor who has already come to know me pretty well in the few short months that we have lived here, she knew not to give me that.  Instead she decided to give me an antibiotic that I have never had before that I can recall. She warned me that it was a cousin to penicillin but that it should be fine.  She said the chance of me reacting to it was only like 3%.  I trust her so I was fine with it.  My reaction to penicillin is not typically life threatening anyway. I usually just break out in hives.  Anyway, I was happy to have something other than a Z-Pack. Well, when I got to the pharmacy, the pharmacist was hesitant to fill the prescription for me. She told me the same thing that the doctor did about it being a cousin to penicillin.  She confirmed with me the type of reaction I typically have and made me fully aware of the risks of taking it.  Then she told me to have Benedryl on hand.  Okay, now I was starting to get a little nervous, but I trust my doctor so I told her to go ahead and fill it.  I have had 3 doses of it now and so far I am fine.  I know that if I am going to have a reaction, it will be a few days before I do.  At least, that is what typically happens.  The bad news is that I woke up feeling worse today than I have felt the whole time.  I didn’t sleep well at all.  In fact, my sleep app said my sleep quality was only at 45% last night and my husband said I made moaning noises in his ear all night. I am coughing my head off and my chest and abs are sore from it. I am practically blowing my brains out of my nose and the pressure in my head is ridiculous.  I know that is all gross and you probably don’t care, but you know I vowed to be honest with what is going on in my life.  This is my reality today.  

When I wake up in the mornings, I really like to not talk to anyone.  I like to immediately take my shower and get ready for the day before I talk to anyone.  I have always been this way.  It is my “me time,” my time to reflect and pray.  When I don’t feel well like today, I really don’t want to talk to anyone. I’m cranky and just am not pleasant. Well, when you have two children that have ADHD who wake up talking non-stop, it is pretty impossible to have your quiet morning time.  It is hard enough on a normal day to listen and pay attention to what they are saying at 90 miles a minute in the morning, but today was especially difficult for me just because I don’t feel well.  My oldest was even extra chatty today.  She must have asked me a million random questions this morning.  It was taking all of the energy I had left to not get impatient with her or show how annoyed I was.  Isn’t that horrible?  I know that it sounds bad, but I can’t help it.  All I wanted to do was crawl back into my bed and try to get some sleep.  I know that all moms get annoyed with their kids every now and then whether they admit it or not.  As horrible as it may seem or to hear out loud, it is the truth. If you were ever to tell me that you never get annoyed with your kids, I would have to tell you that you are lying. If it were the truth, you wouldn’t be a normal human being.  You would be like a robot or alien! I’m not kidding! Every mom/parent gets annoyed with their kids sometimes.  Kids are annoying sometimes. Some parents have it happen more often and some less frequently depending on their personalities and their kids’ personalities. No matter how little or how frequent, it happens to us all, and it is perfectly NORMAL!  It is also perfectly NORMAL to admit that your kids drive you nuts. Thankfully, I have my tribe that I know I can be 100% honest with, and I know that they won’t judge me.  They will commiserate with me and tell me about how much their kids also annoy them. It makes me feel like I am not crazy, and I am not alone.  I’m not a bad mom.  It is totally normal for my kids to get on my last nerve.  Sometimes I explode.  Sometimes I am able to keep it together.  I have learned that it is okay.  Now that my kids are older, I can totally tell them when they are driving me nuts. They often think it’s funny and will attempt to just annoy me further all while they are laughing their heads off. It is all normal.  It is just part of life, the life of a parent. 

Now, if you will please excuse me, I am going to go crawl back in my bed where there is peace and quiet and attempt to go to sleep.  

Anchored,

Not My Timing

Today is my oldest daughter’s birthday.  She turns 15 today.  I know that all moms say this, but I just don’t know where the time has gone.  She was the one that made me a mama and it seems like only yesterday that this little bitty peanut entered this world.  We had been trying to have a baby for two years without success when I finally got pregnant.  We had done all of the infertility testing and nothing was coming up as a reason as to why we weren’t succeeding.  I had been taking Clomid for about 5 months when some blood work came back showing that I was no longer immune to the Rhubella virus.  My doctor advised me to stop the Clomid and to get the vaccination before continuing the next round.  It was nothing big but to me it was just another obstacle in the way of something that I had dreamed about for years. I remember a few days after that, I was feeling down and very discouraged.  I was home alone and I literally got up from the couch, got down on my knees and started really praying hard. I remember tears running down my face as I cried out to God and then a complete feeling of peace. I let it go.  I had to. The worry and stress every month for 2 years was a lot to carry.  The burden was too great. Well, before I could schedule that appointment for the vaccine, we found out that we were pregnant.  It was like another one of God’s signs to me that I needed to let go and quit trying to run things my way.  I needed to let him have control.  It was not about my timing.  It was about his.  Now if you haven’t figured this out yet, I really have a hard time giving up control. My type A, OCD self likes NEEDS to be in control all the time.  This is the case in every aspect of my life.  God has had to teach me this lesson over and over again.  In the midst of the lesson, I get it, but it doesn’t seem to sink in for the long term.  It doesn’t seem to stick.  I guess that is human nature.  Somehow I continue to struggle with giving him full control. Two years after my oldest was born, we started trying for our next baby.  Again, I struggled to get pregnant.  Again, I was put on Clomid.  Again, it wasn’t working. It took me two more years to get pregnant for the second time.  Instead of my kids being two years apart like we wanted, they are four years apart. It is not about my timing. It never is.  

Two other times that God taught me this same lesson was around the birth of both girls.  Neither of them entered the world on my timeline. I am a planner and my plan for both girls is not what occurred.  I went into labor with my oldest 3 weeks early.  I woke up in the middle of the night with contractions. I got up and tried to go back to sleep on the couch so that I wouldn’t wake up my husband.  I knew that I was in labor.  I just had a feeling, but do you know what I did? I got up at my usual time, showered, and got ready for work.  I wasn’t ready for the birth of my child.  I still had work to do.  It wasn’t time yet.  I was going to work even as I was having contractions.  Thankfully, I came to my senses and decided that maybe I should stay home.  Did I call my doctor right away? Nope! My husband went to work and I just laid down on the couch to watch tv.  I still was in denial that it was time despite knowing that I was in labor.  It wasn’t until I started hemorrhaging that I called the doctor and went to the office.  I was already 4 cm dilated.  He sent me straight to the hospital, and I had her only a few hours later with the help of a vacuum because she was in distress. She weighed only 4 lbs, 8 oz. It turns out that I had a partial placental abruption.  If I had waited longer to go in, something really bad could have happened.  It’s not about my timing. 

My second child was considered a high risk pregnancy due to my history with the first one and my thyroid problems (I had ½ of it removed when I was in college).  I was put on bed rest with her for the last month I was pregnant due to extreme swelling and fluctuations with my blood pressure and had to have a non-stress test every week for a month.  Did I mention that my husband was deployed through all of it including the birth? I had a scheduled induction with her, or at least I thought that I did.  My parents travelled 7 hours to be there with me since my husband was gone and I had an almost 4 year old at home.  I thought this birth was going to be on my time.  Well, I was wrong yet again.  Apparently there was some polar vortex that caused every military wife in the area to go into labor at the same time that I was scheduled to be induced.  I couldn’t be induced as scheduled because there were no beds for me! Can you guess how frustrated I was when every time I called, they told me to call back in a couple of hours and they would see if there was a bed available? This went on for 2 days before I got to go in. Again I had a forced delivery as she was in distress as well.   My husband just so happened to be pulled into a port at the time of the birth.  He was able to talk to us just after she was born.  Had she been born any later, he would have been back under the sea and missed her birth completely. It’s not about my timing. 

You would think that I would have figured out by now that God is in control of my life and that it isn’t about my timing, but I haven’t.  It is a lesson that he will have to teach me over and over again.  As I look back over the last 15 years of my daughter’s life, I am filled with emotion.  God’s timing is so beautiful.  I couldn’t imagine my life without her in it.  She is growing into an amazing young lady.  She is definitely one of a kind and a blond through and through. LOL! I love her to pieces and can’t wait to see what the next 15 years holds for her and what God has planned for her life in his time. It’s not my timing. It’s not her timing. It is only his. 

Anchored,

Goals and Dreams

Worthy Necklace

Goal setting is something new to me.  I never really set goals for myself before.  It is something new that I started after I read Girl, Wash Your Faceby Rachel Hollis.  It really wasn’t until I read that book that I realized that I couldn’t tell you what I wanted my life to look like in 10 years.  I didn’t know what my goals and dreams were for my future anymore.  I had never really focused on me.  It was always about my job/students, my kids, my husband, and everyone and everything but me. I had to take a long look at what I wanted and needed and began to formulate a dream.  That book came at a time in my life when I was unsure of what I wanted.  I was unsure if teaching was what I wanted to do the rest of my life.  I was at a crossroads.  Here is the excerpt from the book that really made me realize that I needed to make a change because I did have a stirring in my heart….

“If you have a stirring in your heart for something more, that is a gift and not everyone has that. It’s your potential knocking on the door. Embrace it. There is something more for you. The instinct or desire for more is not enough. You have to put in the work! Know you have the potential for more and don’t give up.”

Once I did some serious soul searching, I realized that I did have big dreams, dreams that were bigger than the way I was currently living my life. I started setting big goals for myself and attempted to make a plan on how I was going to get there.  Within those big goals came smaller goals. Goals that were easily attainable IF I put in the work.  That’s the key, though. You have to be willing to put in the hard work.  That’s something that I have had to learn to do.  Normally, I would always push things that I wanted to the side because I was always last. In my mind everyone else’s needs came before my own needs.  I have had to learn that isn’t the way to do it. There are times when I have to put my needs and wants first.  I have to take that time to put in the work if I am ever going to have a shot at reaching my dreams.   That has been a really hard lesson to learn and one that I continue to struggle with. I think most moms, and women in general, often put everyone else before their own well-being.  It is really sad that we have been taught that for years. We have been taught that women are the caregivers and that we need to put everyone else first.  Women are the ones that stay home and take care of sick kids. Women are the ones to schedule and transport the kids to appointments. Women are the ones who are made to feel bad when they choose to work and put their kids in daycare.  Women are the ones that go to work sick every single time. Women are the ones that juggle a million hats a once. Our dream is supposed to be to get married and have kids and take care of your family to the best of your ability.   That is what the majority of the world believes and what society tells us to do. You can try to argue that it is not true, but just ask any single woman how many times people ask her when she is going to get married.  Ask any newly married woman how many times people have asked her when she is going to start having kids.  Ask any working mom how many times she has been made to feel guilty about working outside the home.  I can assure you that they would all say a million times. It is no wonder that many of us don’t know what our dreams are or can’t ever attain them.  We are a product of our culture.  Yes, great strides have been made when it comes to women, but there is still such a long way to go.  We as women have a right to dream and to dream big.   We have the right to set goals and pursue them with all we’ve got.  It is okay to put yourself first sometimes.  Don’t get me wrong; I love my family.  I love being a mom and a wife.  I wouldn’t change any of that for anything, but it is okay for me to want more for my life, to do more for myself.  It is okay for me to have goals and dreams, and it is okay for me to pursue them with all I’ve got.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with that at all.  

Figuring out what my goals and dreams are was a big step in my life.  It has definitely changed me for the better. Once I figured out what I really wanted for my life, I had to come up with a plan to get me there.  I had to figure out how to become the best version of myself, the person God meant for me to be.  I now set goals for myself all the time.  Some of them I share and others I keep to myself.  These goals are going to help me reach the dreams I now have for myself, for the person that I want to be. I set goals for things like this blog and for both of my small businesses.  I set goals for small things like not drinking a Pepsi for a month. It doesn’t matter how big or small or silly it may seem, it is important to have something to motivate you. I like having something to reach for.  It really motivates me to keep pushing through. What is really hard for me now is when I fall short of my goal.   I tend to beat myself up about it. That’s when the negative self-talk comes in.  I start to tell myself that I’m not good enough. That is something I am working on now and will probably always be working on.  The one thing I have learned most of all is that it is okay to dream big and that is what I am going to continue to do.  I am going to keep setting small goals to help me get there. Even when I fail, I am going to keep going. I encourage you all to figure out what your big dreams are and know they can be as big as you can imagine.  Then figure out a plan for what is going to get you there.  Set small goals that will help you to reach that bigger goal, and go for it with everything you’ve got. 

Anchored,

I am ENOUGH!

If you followed me last week, you know that I had a rough week.  Things were going wrong for me right and left.  It all started with the whole Facebook and Instagram drama of removing all posts containing a link to this blog and not letting me post a link anymore. Then things just went down hill from there because I couldn’t let it go. It was affecting my view of everything else that was going on last week and causing me to see everything negatively.  It was like Satan came in full force trying to knock me off my game, and I will admit that it worked.  It got to me.  I let little things that were so dumb steal my joy.  I let it affect everything in my life last week.  I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t pleasant to be around. All of my focus was on the negative and not on the good things that happened last week, and there was a lot of good.  I have mentioned before that my mantra for 2019 is to choose joy: to choose to seek joy, see joy, and be joyous in all situations.  That went out the window last week.  I slipped back into old habits of negative self-talk in my head. I let the stupid thing with Facebook convince me that maybe I wasn’t meant to write this blog.  Maybe I got God’s message wrong.  Maybe this isn’t what I am supposed to be doing. My purpose for creating this blog was to support other women and help them become the best versions of themselves, but what do I know about that?  I’m a mess so how can anyone learn anything from me? I’m not a good writer. No one cares about what I have to say.  I’m not good enough. I am not enough. All of these things and more were running through my head.  I was letting Satan win.

It wasn’t until the end of the week that I realized what I was doing, what was happening.  I realized that I was letting the negativity slip in and run through my veins.  It was like God suddenly slapped me in the face and told me to wake up. I remembered my mantra. I remembered that I wanted to choose joy.  I realized that I needed to stop, be still, and let it all go.  I had to give it all to God and let him take control.  The whole social media thing was completely out of my control, and, in hindsight, I know it was so dumb to let that get to me and ruin my entire week.  I heard God loud and clear.  This is what he wants me to do.  People don’t care about my grammatical errors, and those that do can just move along. I am meant to do this.  Even if only one person gets something from what I have to say and it brightens their day or makes them take a good look at their life and make changes for the better, that is the reason I am doing this. Even if it’s just someone that finds their own style or an outfit that makes them feel good, I’m doing what I am supposed to do. God is in control, not me and certainly not Satan.  I have to trust him.  He tells me that I am enough. It doesn’t matter what Facebook, Instagram, or anyone else thinks. I AM ENOUGH! I AM WORTHY! I AM WHERE I AM MEANT TO BE!

If you are struggling with letting the negativity in to steal your joy, I want you to stop. I want you to be still.  I want you to let it go.  Trust God. Don’t let that negative self-talk bring you down.  You are enough. You are good enough.  Stand in front of the mirror with your feet apart, your hands on your hips, your head held high, and look yourself in the eyes and tell yourself that you are enough. I mean it.  Do it! It is called the power pose.  Do it every day if you have to until you start to believe it. You will feel empowered. Then I want you to choose joy. See joy in all situations good or bad.  I promise you it will turn your mood around. It will turn your outlook around. It will remove the negativity and fill your veins with joy. 

You know what happened last week? I had record number of views on the blog every single day last week. I had 77 new likes on my Facebook page. I had people reach out to me and tell me to keep going, to keep pushing. I had a party that did phenomenal and helped women out of poverty.  I was able to provide 5 fruit trees to a family in Africa.  I had a sweet friend connect with me and pray for me and remind me that I am doing what God wants me to do. I let stupid things overshadow all that good, but no more! I am choosing to celebrate all of that TODAY! I am choosing JOY because I am ENOUGH! Will you join me? Let me celebrate you.  Tell me a way you are choosing JOY TODAY in the comments.

Anchored and ENOUGH,

Facebook Jail

I know that I change directions a lot, but I really was going to write about something totally different today. I can’t, though, because I am angry.  Yep, that’s right! I am angry today.  Facebook has taken it upon themselves to remove all posts from my Anchored Piece by Piece page containing links to this blog.  They did this without warning or explanation.  I only realized it yesterday when I couldn’t load my newest post.  At that time I got an error message saying “Query Error.” With no idea what that even meant, I began a problem report after having to Google how to even do that because nothing is easy on Facebook.  It was then that I realized that everything had been removed from the start of my blog until now.  I then tried to make the post again without the link to the blog to just trouble shoot and it actually posted, which was puzzling.  I then tried to edit the post to add the link in.  Only at that time did I get a message that popped up stating that I was unable to use the link because its contents went against their Community Standards.  I have since read their Community Standards in its entirety and cannot for the life of me figure out what could possibly go against their standards, especially when I think about all of the horrible things that are on Facebook on a daily basis. How can my little blog with less than 20 followers, where I share style and organization tips along with life lessons I have learned with the intent of helping women be their best selves, possibly go against their standards? Can anyone that knows Facebook better than me, please explain this to me? Oh, AND they have removed the link from my Instagram bio as well.

If that in it self isn’t infuriating enough, I think the worst part is that there is no way to contact anyone. There is no way to get an explanation. There is no way to get it resolved.  At least I can’t find a way.  I found a place that said, “If you think this doesn’t go against our Community Standards, then let us know.” The problem is that when you go to the page to let them know, it says, “While we aren’t able to review individual reports, the feedback you provide will help us improve the ways we keep Facebook safe.” Basically, you can file the report, but we aren’t going to do anything about it because we can’t respond to just you. How absurd is that? If you are going to do this to someone, you better notify her, give her an explanation, and provide a way for her to be able to resolve the matter. I am more than happy to fix whatever it is that they think I have done wrong, if I only knew what it was. I really am just sick over this because I have no idea if it will be resolved or not and I feel helpless.  

I know that I have loyal readers that will still come check in here each day, and I am so grateful for that.  I just want to be able to share with more people.  My goal with this blog has always been to share my life with others so that maybe, just maybe, it will help brighten their day or feel like they aren’t alone or just get joy from my style and organizational skills. I can’t imagine what is offensive, vulgar, aggressive, discriminatory, or inappropriate about that. I will get over this.  I will move past it.  I am going to pray that it gets fixed.  Until then, I am angry, but I am going to choose to smile through it!   I hope Facebook can make this right. 

Anchored,

This Too Shall Pass

I am currently sitting at our new house, which is completely empty, waiting for Closet America to arrive. It is kind of weird to be here with it so quiet.  I am still trying to wrap my head around the fact that we can finally begin to move in.  I have said this a million times, but I am ready to be settled.  Nine months of living in a house that never felt like home has been rough.  I’m so ready! I am also sitting here struggling with what to do with my youngest child.  I believe I have mentioned before that due to all of her medical conditions, she has developed an anxiety disorder.  She doesn’t do well with change.  She really struggled with the move here, and now she is struggling with the move to the new house even though nothing is changing but the address.  She will still be in the same area, same school, same cheer gym, and same everything else.  It is just enough of a change, though, that it is about to send her over the edge.  That, coupled with the ever-amazing daylight savings time and adding a couple of classes at her gym, has her in the worst mood possible.  I am seeing her anger and irritability return, and she and I are like oil and vinegar when she gets like this.  It had really gotten under control and things were better, but not this week. I am the one that she takes it all out on.  I am the one that bears the brunt of it all.  She claims that she hates the new house but can’t give a reason why other than she prefers our current house.  It is simply that she doesn’t like change.  Something about change scares her.  

In an attempt to make things easier for her, we allowed her to choose new bedding for her new room as her birthday present. We are also letting her choose the color to paint her room. We were hoping this would help ease the transition, but it doesn’t seem to matter with her this week.  Knowing that we were officially getting the house this week has sent her anxiety into overdrive.  I wish I knew how to help her.  I think it is tougher for me not only because I am the one she attacks, but because this was my job. This was what I did for a living for 17 years, and I was darn good at it.  I worked with kids like her that had difficulty with change and transitions. I have worked with so many kids that have anxiety.  Somehow it is different when it is your own kid.  All of the tricks I have up my sleeve just don’t work with her.  Maybe my delivery is different because she is my kid and I live with her day in and day out.  I don’t know?  I just seem to make it worse. My husband handles her much better than I do when she is like this, but I think that is because her anger is directed at me and not him. Dealing with it day in and day out wears on you, and I admit that I loose it with her more often than not.  I raise my voice and then she just gives it right back to me and we get in a yelling match. It is really sad.  In the moment I am just frustrated and angry too, but then afterwards I feel horrible because I let an 11 year old get to me.  I would never respond to my students that way, so why is it that I do with her? I wish I knew the answer.  I do think, though, that overall I have come a long way with her in the last year or two.  I have really made an effort to do better, and I see an improvement in her behavior for the most part. I think that part of the improvement is due to me changing my approach with her, and the other part is that she is getting older and maturing a little bit. Then weeks like this one happen, and we take two steps backwards. I really am at a loss yet again.  Being a parent is hard.  Being a parent of a child with special needs is even harder.  The struggle is real.  You want to be able to just fix it, but you can’t.  There is no easy fix.  It is not like a scraped up knee that you can just put a Band-Aid over. It doesn’t work like that.  It takes a lot of hard work, a lot of sleepless nights, a lot of worry, and a whole lot of prayer. I can do hard things. I may not want to, but I can. This season will pass and we will be able to move on. I know that.  It is just hard in the thick of it.  It is going to take some time and a whole lot of faith, but this too shall pass!

Anchored,