Finding Joy

Last week, I was ready to run for the hills. My husband was about to return home from almost a half a month of traveling and I was in serious need of some time alone. Usually I feel the need to get away to feel refreshed and to de-stress. When my soul is refreshed, that’s where I find the most joy. That’s when I’m the nice mom everyone wants to be around. There’s nothing I can’t accomplish! In the midst of life and all that is thrown at me on a daily basis, I would be dreaming of the chance to just get away from it all to decompress. I could feel the tank coasting on empty and right before I came to a dead stop, the absolute desperate need for a vacation would kick in. The joy I once had is lost on all of the stress and crankiness that seems to take over.

Me and my hubs pretending to not be tired
the reality is I have work and kids and there’s that thing called money that seems to  always be needed for things like this. I have been slowly learning through the years, though, that finding joy can’t be something we have to set aside our lives to find. I kept operating in a way where I was constantly looking ahead for a time when things would be normal, more in control. It wasn’t until recently that I have begun learning to find joy in the midst of life buzzing around me. It was a choice. It was a perspective change.

Psalm 16:11 says, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

Since this is penned from the heart of God, then it must mean that it’s His presence where we find joy, right? If he has promised His Spirit, then will He not give us strength to believe He is with us? It’s not a geographical location where our souls find rest, but right there in the midst of all that steals our joy away from us.

Waiting for daddy to get home from Zambia
If you work from home, out of your home, or both, you know how hard it is to deal with constant interruptions. It’s easy to look at the needs of your children as just that: interruptions for things that are more important. You feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything finished. Add expectations on top of that and you’re feeling like a constant failure. You have a hundred things started that are halfway done and if one more human needs something from you, it begins to drain you. (or maybe just me?) All of a sudden we are making them feel like interruptions, not worthy of having needs. And this is not to say that we don’t need to teach our little ones that everyone needs their own personal time, but I find that it’s the little everyday needs weighed against my expectations of getting things done that tend to give me this unbalanced view of what’s truly important.

As I get a little older, I’m beginning to see things in a simpler light. Life just seems to boil down to the things that are truly important. And well-meaning people have told me, encouraged and pleaded with us about this for years. I’ve sought counsel on how to best manage my stress and the amazing, godly women who have been my sounding board have given me some of the best advice. I would take what they said to heart but yet somehow feel like I was failing at really understanding it. I would always end up with this ever-longing itch to get away. I’ve come to learn that it really is a work of the Spirit deep inside our hearts, His presence seeking and believing Him, and a choice to change our perspective that all of a sudden turned that proverbial lightbulb on over my head. Balancing work, life, marriage and motherhood is not a compartmentalized series of boxes. And de-stressing isn’t necessarily one of those boxes either. Yes, vacation and getting away is a MUST, so this isn’t to be confused with those precious times the whole family, or just you and your husband get away to reconnect. But the boundaries of those boxes seem to break down into one melded messy blob of all that we balance and hold dear and there’s glimpses of joy in the every place.

It’s my little one screaming at my feet while I’m cooking dinner. It’s my teenager telling me about something I know nothing about and really don’t feel like listening to. It’s my toddler pulling me off the couch while I’m trying to read about how to be a better parent so he can get me on the floor to play with him. It’s my teenager telling me to stop everything so he can let me listen to this awesome song and I’m really late calling a client back.

A cute brother moment
Or, it’s a chance to scoop up my baby to have a little dance while I stir the veggies. It’s a chance to be present with my big guy to let him see I care about the things he cares about. It’s actually getting on the floor with my toddler to show him he’s important. Or maybe it’s actually having the opportunity to connect with my son to show him he is seen and heard [and learn how to step up my music game!]

Super tired but promised to listen to iTunes with this guy
As I type this, it happens to be a morning where I don’t have to rush out of the house. I am home with my boys, just watching them. Studying them. Thankful that they are even here. It’s moments like this when I’m reminded of what’s important. And this is pure joy. Would I love a vacation? So much YES! But until that happens, I’m choosing joy in the mundane and having grace for myself when I don’t, because I know who has a ton of grace for me.

2 Corinthians 12:9, “For my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”. 

What else do we need?




The Perfect Mom

Are we really still thinking that’s a thing?

This is me. Trying to figure out how to take a picture on my phone. I was actually on a canoe with too many people while this was happening, which I think makes this picture pretty impressive.P1010063

Then this was the next shot. This is the moment I wanted to capture. This is the one I posted. This is the one that got all the sweet likes and comments. (And you have to admit these two are super cute). But I laugh thinking about all of the moments that happen before we take the best pictures. We all know, I guess in some way, that no one really has it all together, but we are still inundated with images that scream otherwise.P1010066It has been quite a few years since these photos. We were sailing through life with one child. I had started out as a SAHM and thought that without a doubt that my greatest and highest calling was to be 100% totally committed to parenting with absolutely no distractions. And that would make me the perfect mom. Fast forward 10 years and I now work outside the home, with a WAH business on the side, that only child has become a big brother to a new little brother and I can’t remember the last time I took a shower alone. And somehow I am still on a quest to be that perfect mom. I’ve been on both ends of the spectrum and everywhere in between and I’ve discovered a few things.

I’ve been building my life all these years. I’ve been defining who that mom is in a million different ways, even though it never quite looked how I imagined it. To the mom striving for perfection: You are building your story. You are a beacon of light to your family. No matter how grand you feel your failure is, your love and beauty and tireless, selfless love is even grander. You have the greatest gift in what’s in front of you right now. May those pesky expectations of perfect motherhood slowly fade in the distance as new memories and new pictures flood your soul.

Show the world your terrible morning face as you kiss your little ones. Please show us that you have unmade beds and piles of laundry in the background.

I find it interesting that I have so much grace for everyone but myself. I want to be a woman who can show others that it’s okay to be messy and vulnerable. That’s the kind of mom I want to be. The kind of mom who is perfectly imperfect.