Having it “all” doesn’t mean having it all

I’ve been a devoted watcher of the TV series The Crown since it came on Netflix. This past week they released season 4, which highlighted Princess Diana and Prince Charles relationship. Of course, then I became absorbed in Princess Diana’s story, reading excerpts and watching documentaries on her. Guys, she was utterly miserable. She even tried to hurt herself several times.

This was absolutely heartbreaking to me because I remember hearing about and seeing pictures of Diana when I was younger, thinking she had it all. In a way, she did…but not where it matters most.

It also got me thinking that we spend so much of our lives striving for things that do not guarantee happiness: fame, fortune, status, money, and the like. Oftentimes relationships, family, rest are sacrificed in order to strive for those things listed above. While I do not believe happiness should be our ultimate goal in life regardless-why would we sacrifice the important things in order to gain something that can be fleeting and doesn’t have a record of producing what we all want most in life.

We all want to belong. We all want love. We all want to be seen. Money can’t give you that. Status often doesn’t see the real you. Fame doesn’t build relationships. All the fortunes you can build will some day, eventually, outlive you. These are the goals of so many Americans nowadays, yet we also find more are depressed than ever before. More are needing medication to live. (Now, I’m not anti medication at all). But we can see historically and on the media today that these goals to not necessarily contribute to a life better off.

Does money help reduce stress when you can afford to pay all your bills? Sure. Is it nice to be able to give your family members things? Absolutely. This cannot be where we put our life purpose, however; because it will leave us wanting. Those things are a nice byproduct to have in life but shouldn’t be our ultimate goals.

Aside from those things seldom producing true happiness, they are also all temporary. Money can come and go. Fame changes with the wind. Status changes depending on the crowd you are around. Regardless of what you believe, don’t place your hope in things that don’t last.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote “lives of great men all remind us, we can make our lives sublime, and, departing, leave behind us, footprints on the sands of time”. Spend time on things that truly matter. Don’t focus on the temporary and fleeting.

Unapologetic About Your Occupation

I still remember the reprimand I received from my public speaking professor while I was in college. We were all discussing something and I made the comment “she’s just a stay at home mom”. My professor then proceeded to tell me she spent 12 years at home while her kids were younger and it was the hardest job she’s ever had. Even with this revelation, I still wasn’t entirely convinced.

Fast forward a few more years, and I found myself pregnant during my Senior year of college. I was able to graduate before my first born made his appearance, but I suddenly faced a dilemma. Do I continue to pursue teaching jobs, as I had already started turning in resumes, or do I stay home with the baby once I graduate college. To say this was an easy decision would be the biggest lie of the century.

I looked forward to teaching. I found great pride in the fact that I was the first one in my family to graduate college straight after high school. I did, however; have many mentors who told me they either a) loved staying home when their kids were little or b) wish they could go back and do it again to stay home with their children when they had been younger. It should be noted that my husband and I also talked about this as well and his opinions do factor into my thought process.

So, I decided to stay home with our baby. I am so grateful to have been home with all our children thus far. I have to admit though, that it wasn’t easy in the beginning. I felt shame for saying I was a stay at home mom when asked by others what I was currently doing. Usually the question that directly followed my stay at home mom revelation was “so when will you start teaching?” I have also received the occasional comments about my college education going to waste because I stay home. These conversations used to leave me embarrassed and ashamed.

That began to change when I changed my viewpoint on staying home. I wasn’t doing “lesser work”. Every occupation or position you occupy in life is to be fulfilled to the glory of God. Yes, there are days that feel absolutely mundane. But that is true of any job. In any occupation, you will have tasks that seem mundane and tedious.

We are told “whatever you do, do all to the glory of God”. We don’t compartmentalize our relationship with God. I don’t live parts of my life to give Him glory, and live other parts of my for my own or others glory. If homemaking is my current calling, then this is where I am to glorify God. And any task that is aimed at God’s glory can never be a lesser task.

Another thing that has helped me to change my outlook is the realization that my children are all I will (God willing) leave in this world. Any job occupation I will ever have will be filled in my absence, but there is no one else who will ever be my kids mother. That burden and blessing takes this calling to new levels of importance.

Don’t ever feel your tasks are unimportant, whether it be that of a SAHM or a job occupation you are ashamed of. Anything done with eternal significance simply cannot be unimportant. You decide what is important with how you decide to live your life. We all live most of our lives in the little moments. I’ll leave you with a quote from Paul David Tripp: “Our lives are comprised of 10,000 little moments and maybe only 3 or 4 dramatic ones”.

Guys, be confident in your little moments as well as the big.

Rest for Struggle

For my entire life (that I can remember) I remember yearning for the normal, consistent, boring family. I remember watching TV shows thinking “I’m going to have that life some day”.

Welp, here I am: a house full of kids, blessed to be able to (mostly) stay home, a husband who adores me (there must be something wrong right?) and that I adore equally in return. I legit go to bed every night thanking God for giving me so much more than I deserve. These gifts are not lost on me.

I also recognized something else in my life though. There is no normal. We have been through many transitions in our 11 years of marriage. We married young, had babies young, adopted, had a failed adoption, and gone into foster care. That’s just in our immediate family! I’m not even including anything else coming from outside my house.

I started to get pretty confident that I’m a cool cucumber (is that a thing?) now. We’ve handled it all, there’s nothing new to stress about anymore. Then Covid happened. Then school enrollment happened. Who knew signing your kids up for school could lead to eye twitches? (Thanks stress).

But then I remembered something: this is my gift. This life. This family. This struggle. Guys-in this life I’m marching with my eyes set on something much bigger, better even. It doesn’t end with today’s problems, or even today’s blessings.

Every transition or change in life should be approached with one goal in mind- to glorify Christ. Am I trusting in Him? Not just with my decisions, but to sustain me after those choices are made. Do I believe that if I made a choice I regretted, that God will use it for His good regardless, if I’m looking to Him?

Because that’s the truth friends: God is the end all. The decisions you and I are facing may seem huge, even overwhelming, right now. But they are still temporary problems. While Covid and it’s repercussions may last longer than we’d like, and it may effect more areas of life than we’d like, eventually it will end. When it gets to be too much, remember what you’re marching towards- Who you will meet at the finish line. In the meantime, let’s give grace and love each other.

I am not Against Cops, but I do believe Black Lives Matter

I don’t believe systematic racism is a myth. I do believe our culture has conditioned us to be fearful of blacks, regardless of whether or not we realize it. But I also believe majority of Cops go into the position hoping to make a difference and not to wrongly harm others. There are Cops I know who I would absolutely trust with my life. I don’t want my kids to fear Cops if they are ever in a place of danger and need help.

That being said, there is an undertone of systematic racism that has colored our history. I don’t think most people even realize they harbor feelings of it in themselves. I didn’t. Being raised in a small town, with little diversity, did not prepare me for becoming a multi-racial mom. I was bombarded with my own prejudices, prejudices I didn’t even realize I had.

I know I’m not the only one, and I do believe people of all occupations have the same prejudices as well. The black community is not safe until we address and change those prejudices. Prejudices that exist because we still take pride in the side of history that fought against equal rights of all persons in the United States.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t emphasize that even though everything right now is unstable, God is still good. He is still good when all that we count as comfort (or maybe just norm) has been ripped away. He is still good even though we are still having to address racism 60 years later. He is still good when uncertainty lingers and everything feels broken. George, Breonna, Ahmaud, and countless others, who have lost their lives due to racial injustice have ultimate hope that doesn’t lie in me or you.

Until then, we have been given a command to mourn with those who mourn. (Including the Cops trying to do right). And to stand for righteousness and justice, regardless of popularity.

The Frailty of Life

It’s been a while since I’ve wrote anything.  Things have been a little busy around here, but also I struggle with content and how I am relaying what I’m trying to say.  In all my endeavors, I strive to make God known and give Him the glory.  If I can share a joke or laugh in middle of 5 children under the age of 8 in our house, it’s because God has given me joy that exceeds my circumstances.  If I can look at a sunset and be in awe of it’s beauty, God is the one who created that beauty.  If I can handle 4 kids in my home on a regular basis, it’s because God gives me grace to…again and again.  If my husband can keep adoring me even through all of who I am, it’s because God is present in the marriage.

I occasionally take a break from sharing or writing because I like to evaluate what I’m trying to relay to people.  Am I coming from a place of wanting to exalt myself or exalt Him? Am I coming at this in love-for every single person created in the image of God?  With that, I have a heightened desire to write today.

The last few weeks have been heavy, even for someone like me who attempts to find joy or meaning in every circumstance.  I have been surrounded by people who are dealing with job complications, people dealing with a tragedy or death relating to their child, friends exhausted with seasons in their lives, my kids pushing boundaries, and trying to meet friends in their specific areas of need.  I’m sure the list could go on, but I don’t want to keep you here all day.

After I had Tripp, I would say I definitely struggled with PPD.  It wasn’t diagnosed, but I know myself and I know those extreme mood differences I was living in at the time.  I would almost have panic attacks when I thought of death after having him.  For some reason, having kids here definitely changed my perspective of death.  Really, before kids, I never thought much about it.  After kids, there were times it consumed me.  Tyler would have to hold me while I cried and panicked.

I would say that it’s really been in the past year or so that death doesn’t seem to have a hold on me it once did.  Does that mean I don’t struggle with certain situations in life? Absolutely not.  Do I understand why God would take a 7 year old child from their parents? No.  Do I know why God would let a woman who yearns to be a mother, have infertility struggles while allowing those whose children end up in state custody, continue to keep having babies? Nope.  I also know, those are the things God originally intended for us to have in our lives.  Because of the fall, and the resulting brokenness we will now live in fallen and broken places and circumstances.

Over time though, I have come to accept that death is just another part of this life.  (Like my rejection or acceptance would have changed anything regardless).  We are all going to face hardships, and often different ones, throughout this life.  We are also all going to face death.  I heard the other day that 50% of all children die by the age of 8 in the Himalayas.  We take for granted the fact that we are given life, and often abundant life here in America, and spend it helping or entertaining ourselves.

I read in my Bible reading this morning that we are called to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of God saving us for His own purpose and grace.  We know our time here is limited.  Even if you don’t want to face it, you KNOW it.  It’s not an opinion, it’s a fact.  Even when times feel heavy and I feel like I’m thinking of and praying for a new circumstance throughout entire days, these times have purpose too.  We spend so much of our lives toiling for things that won’t really have a generational difference.  We should work while we’re here.  We should have friendships.  We should help and try to make a difference for the time we are here.  There is one thing that I know will have a lasting effect on each and every one of us- and that is eternity.

Because, we will face a day in eternity.  We will behold the glory of the God who never left us.  The God who comforts me beyond comfort when I am feeling defeated.  The God who upholds me with His strength when I don’t know how I’m going to find the strength to continue.  The God whom I consider it a privilege to be counted worthy TO approach His throne of grace with prayer requests and hurts.  None of the hard days have to consume me because this life isn’t all there is.  I KNOW that to every season there is a purpose.  While we have more entertainment, longevity, and materials to distract ourselves from that truth; it doesn’t change the truth.

“You don’t have to know a lot of things for your life to make a lasting difference in the world.  But you do have to know the few great things that matter, perhaps just one, and be willing to live and die for them.”                  -John Piper