My husband is silently snoring the next room over. The sun awoke me early and I found myself drawn to the peaceful quiet of the living room. After scrummaging through the little rental house kitchen, I discovered tea and honey, which I made quickly in an adorable mug and then cuddled up on the comfortable couch with a book. It’s peaceful, it’s quiet, it’s exactly what my soul needed.

When I was a younger, I dreamed about being a stay-at-home mom. I’ve always wanted to be a mom and thinking back on having my mom at home with us when I was a child, it seemed perfect. Then one day, I became a mom. Just over six years ago. And I discovered it was way harder than anyone ever let on. At the time I was still working and loved my job, but balancing work life, mom life, and home life was incredibly hard. Jump a few years and another kid later, and I left my job to invest more in my kiddos. And I learned something.

Being a stay-at-home mom is legit hard. Some people thrive being with their kids all day…that’s not me unfortunately. And I’ve realized why. I’m an introvert, and my dear, sweet, chatty, social six-year-old is not. He thrives being around people, it energizes him. I love people too, and I love being around “my” people, but afterwards I need some quiet to recharge my soul. Give me a good book, a comfy spot and I’m a happy girl. Over the last school year we found our rhythm with the kiddos in preschool and PreK in the mornings, and me with three mornings a week alone. I discovered who I was and what I needed to be the best mom, wife and friend I could be. I took time to actually care for my own self. Listening to my body and my soul, figuring out what I needed to be healthy in all the different ways. I was in a good groove.

Then summer came.

And I’ve been in a weird place. A place where I love spending time with my kids, especially before the oldest moves on to elementary school in just a few precious weeks, but also where I’m so exhausted and drained that I feel cranky and depleted and I’m snapping at my kids more than I should. They deserve better. I deserve better.

So this morning, this beautiful first morning away from my adorable, energetic kiddos, I’m going to soak up some quiet. Listening to the birds chirp, enjoy the sun starting to stream through the windows, drink my warm tea and snuggle up with a book. And then after, enjoy a few days alone with my sweet husband.

It’s hard as a mom to take care of yourself, but if you hit that spot where you are a cranky mom like me, take a little time and recharge. Your kids will be better for it later. Mine always are.

Finding Pockets of Joy

Today is my birthday.

It’s funny how birthdays change as we get older, and even more so when we become parents with young children. Honestly? I kept forgetting my birthday was even coming! (If you would have told me that 10 years ago, I would have thought you were bat crap crazy by the way!) My expectations for huge birthday plans has dissipated and in it’s place I’ve found myself just looking for little spots of joy. Little things to be thankful for especially today.

Pockets of joy.

They may not be big or noteworthy, just pocket size most times, but worth noticing and smiling for.

A free coffee.

The sheer delight on my children’s faces as they sing happy birthday to me, with the littlest one forgetting some of the words.

The warm sun after days and weeks of gloom and rain.

Kids curled up “reading” new library books.

Chirping birds narrating my quiet time.

A three year old actually loving her dentist visit instead of the spastic, fear-filled reaction for which I was mentally preparing.

An arm around each kiddo as we read together, and the help of the eldest to turn the pages when necessary.

Amazing children’s literature.

The list could go on and on.

Today could have been easy for me to focus on all the negatives, or the things that have not gone as planned. But finding these pockets of joy today has rewired my thinking and my heart.

It’s only halfway over, my birthday that is, and already I call it wonderful.

Losing Yourself

When I became a mom, I was still working part-time. It was a job I loved, with a purpose I believed in. I never completely understood when moms would talk about feeling like they had lost themselves when they became a mom. Then, around 18 months ago, I made the decision to quit my job and focus more on our kids and family.

At first, it was such a relief to not feel conflicting burdens between my family and my job. While I was still busier than ever, I could better control the balance of the demands on my time…with way less guilt. I could take my kids to the zoo without needing to check my email before we left, and hop back online as soon as we got home. If one of them were sick during the middle of the night, I wasn’t cranky about how I was going to miss work the next day. I could just be fully present with them and caring for them.

But slowly overtime I started to feel like something was missing. That I was missing. I felt like I had no outside purpose from my family. I felt forgotten by co-workers who had proclaimed how much they loved me and would miss me, but never seemed to remember I still existed. I felt like without my work skills, I wasn’t necessary anymore. I felt overlooked and undervalued by the outside world. My circle of friends dwindled, and it felt like my scope of influence dwindled too. I worried that if I ever wanted to return to work, I would never find my way again. That my brain would have atrophied by lack of use of any skills besides cooking, cleaning, pestering kids to clean up, and coming up with art and project ideas to keep my kids busy. (Along with random Daniel Tiger’s songs taking up much needed space.)

I’m sure you are expecting the plot twist now, the moment of reading where I tell you the moment everything changed and my eyes were opened and how to find yourself and get it back. But here’s a different twist for you, I haven’t yet.

I’m knee deep in the middle of this. Praying for God to show me what my deeper purpose is that I keep feeling is missing, but having yet to hear any answers.

I know being the best mom & wife I can be is the most important purpose I can have right now, so let’s not all try to remind me of that…I’m extremely aware of that AND grateful to be doing it! But I feel a deep spiritual discontent that there is something else God is wanting me to do as well.

So if you are feeling as if you have lost yourself too, know that you aren’t alone.

And if you aren’t knee deep in the middle of it all, remember those people that are. Your friends need to know they still matter too…even if all they are right now is a mommy.

The First Time

I never could quite grasp the concept of hearing God’s voice. I mean, I understood it in the biblical sense from many years of Sunday school, vacation bible school, church camps and more flannel graphs than I can remember. But I didn’t understand the HOW behind it.

(I’ve always been more of a HOW girl than a WHY…in case you were wondering…)

HOW did people hear God’s voice? What did it sound like? Was it an actual audible voice?
HOW did people know when it was God? 
HOW did it happen in our modern day society? OR did it at all?
And also how come it hadn’t happened to me? Or did I even want it to?

There are a lot of things in my past I have forgotten over time, or only reappear in my brain when something triggers a memory. But the first time I heard God’s voice, and what he asked of me, has never left my memory.

I wish I could tell you the details, but since it involves other people that it might possibly hurt to hear this, I can’t. 

Well I guess technically I COULD, but I’m not going to do so. I never want to cause someone else pain purposefully, and especially don’t plan to do that on the internet. I digress.

But what I can tell you is this. When God spoke, I knew with 100% certainty it was Him. It wasn’t a voice I heard through my ears, but an inner nudge to my heart. And it was a nudge that became so intense I could not ignore. 

He asked me to do something that seemed impossible and too painful to think about. But I also knew, truly knew, that this was God taking care of me. Protecting me. Bringing me back to Him. 

So I jumped. (Figuratively of course.)

And it was hard.

And it was painful.

But slowly, the healing I so desperately needed came.

And then one day, I had THE realization. 

I stopped and looked at where I was in my life, and saw how far God had brought me. My eyes were opened to how many wonderful things I would have missed had I ignored His persistent prompting. 

God had asked me to take a step.

Just one.

A really ridiculously hard one. But just one.

And it changed the entire trajectory of my life. No, really.

I’m not over-exaggerating. 

If you stop and look at my life now, where I am at, the people I’m surrounded by, the amazing man I get to call my husband, our crazy yet adorable kiddos, the church that changed my life…all of those things are directly tied back to that one moment.

That one moment where I chose to be brave and finally follow God’s prompting.

One moment can change your life. Especially if it’s a moment guided by God.

Give it a try sometime. Even if it’s hard or painful, it will be worth it. I’m living proof. 

Journey to Self-Care

I’m a huge proponent of self-care.

Life gets busy, more and more things take up our time, and little people (along with big people too) demand our attention. And eventually we can end up depleted with nothing more to give.

That’s right, nothing. Nada. Zilch.

Are you tracking with me? I mean nothing.

And once we get to that point, it takes a lot to replenish ourselves back to a functioning state. Only to instantly be depleted once again in record time.
Somehow we as a culture forget to do PREEMPTIVE self-care. Taking care of ourselves BEFORE there is nothing left. What’s ironic is that we also as a culture forget to do preventive care of so many other things too. How many of us actually get a yearly physical? Or eat the foods our body actually needs for true nourishment (real talk here – I just finished a piece of full calorie pecan pie, so I’m preaching to myself here.) Do we do cardio exercise multiple times a week to keep our hearts healthy? I wonder how many people actually do their recommended car maintenance at 50,000 miles or 75,000 miles. Or even more simply, do we get enough sleep at night to be able to think clearly in the morning without the glorious brewed substance that fills us with delight and energy?

You feel me here? 

We are HORRIBLE at taking care of ourselves. 

God forbid we close our office door occasionally to enjoy some quiet while we work. 

Take time to go to the bathroom in the middle of the workday? *Gasp* Unheard of.

Sit on the couch during the kids’ nap time and CHOOSE to read a book?! The horror! There are three day old dishes to be done and bits of Cheez-its ground into the carpet that need vacuumed. Not to mention the piles of clean laundry cluttering up the place, and dirty socks strewn about. 
We have so many things pulling at us on any given day, why don’t we plan ahead some time to take care of ourselves?! Yes, it’s hard. Yes, you may feel guilty about it. But eventually…eventually…you will start to feel the joy inside you again. Pure joy. Not the fake kind we put out on social media.
Not too long ago I was reading a book about how to go after your dreams. It was a great book, but I had to stop reading it. I felt paralyzed. I had been so incredibly busy for so long with day-to-day stuff, that I didn’t have a single dream that I could write down. Honestly? I cried. I felt like a failure. Who doesn’t have at least one dream that didn’t include clean bathrooms, an empty sink and perfectly behaved children?! 

I finally sat down with a piece of paper and just started brainstorming. It started off pretty basic, with things that I love like “help others” and “have an organized house” but as it grew, I started to find “me” again. A few weeks later when I looked at the list again I had a revelation. These were all self-care things.

Things that would refuel my soul. 

Putting things down on paper radically changed things for me. Even though it was incredibly hard when I started doing it, looking back when I see that paper I see myself. I see how God wired me. And I see how God was guiding me towards change. Towards him and inwardly into myself as well. I was lost for a bit, but now I am found. I was blind to myself, but now I see. God opened my eyes, and I pray he will open yours up too. But just know, it may come with some work first. And walking through the hard to find yourself again. 

I’m an enigma.

For years I never quite understood myself. I was always extremely social yet equally shy. I had plenty to say to my friends, yet I would never talk to strangers.
I would willingly call all my friends on the phone and talk for hours (or until someone yelled to get off the phone…because back when I grew up there was no such thing as cell phones or call waiting) yet be debilitated at the thought of making a phone call to order pizza.
I always wished I could be more like other people, believing that something inside of me was “wrong.” Why did I never have anything interesting to say when asked the dreaded question “So Jeanna, what are your hobbies?” Feeling as though my responses of “reading, listening to movies, sitting outside” weren’t good enough.
It wasn’t until later in life that I finally heard the term “introvert” and began understanding that everyone is wired different. And realizing that it was okay to be “me” and to enjoy things completely by myself as well as with others.
That was the beginning of my self-acceptance journey. Of not just learning about who I am, but actually loving myself because I am exactly who God made me to be. God didn’t make me to be the life of the party. He didn’t make me to be an exceptional athlete. He didn’t make me to get all the accolades or love being in the spotlight. He made me to love and care for others deeply, and to step into a support role for them, lifting up and encouraging them. God wired me for care. And he wired me to enjoy simple things in life, to find joy in small moments.
We are ALL created differently. We are unique individuals, made exactly how God wanted us to be. That’s not to say we all can’t work on being better versions of ourselves, as we all should aspire to being the best we can possibly be, but let’s be joyful and accepting of ourselves and our own unique wiring. Because once we embrace ourselves, that is win we can start to thrive.
I always thought I was an enigma because I believed myself to be contradictory to the norm, puzzling myself and others with my strange quirks and habits. And that something was inherently wrong with such. But now I realize we are ALL enigmas. Everyone is quirky and original…it’s just a matter of if they hide it or not. So let’s embrace ourselves and each other, because we are who God made us to be. And that is more than enough.