Thursday, November 3, 2016

Approval

"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it."

Can we all just soak that in? Really ponder it and be honest with ourselves when we analyze our own responses and reactions to people who have different opinions than us? I've valued those words from Aristotle since undergrad. I've changed a lot since then (thank you, Jesus), but one lesson I began to learn early on is that people get really really worked up when you don't agree with them. The moderate sized university I grew up at (at least a little) was smack in the middle of the bible belt, sure...but it was a university and liberalism seeped into every classroom. Stick with me--I will not be discussing politics, I promise. Due to the nature of my studies, I had many psychology, sociology, and other social science classes. Often topics of morality and politics came up in discussion and I sat around while the more vocal students spoke up with their opinions. Usually it was the more liberal, outspoken students who wanted to share. I considered myself a middle-of-the-road gal myself, but I couldn't stand to listen to only one side of the opinion brought up over and over again knowing that so many of my classmates must be conservative on some topics, at least. I remember vividly the first time I said anything political in class. I was immediately put in a category by some. It was the She-is-a-crazy-right-winger-and-therefore-dumb-and prejudice category. I believe my comment was on education, too. I recall one girl in particular talking about me after class as if I couldn't hear. She flunked out later, much to my delight. But I still remember her at times. I think it was one of the first times, as an adult (again, sort of), that I felt zeroed in on by another woman for no other reason than a difference of opinion on policies in education. You must be thinking, who cares? And I don't care about that particular situation, but what I do care about is the overall theme that keeps creeping back into my days: WHY ARE WOMEN (or people in general) NOT SUPPORTING EACH OTHER?

If I'm speaking candidly, I'll admit I do not give a crap about your opinion on this election. Why though, are we being downright ugly to those who decide to talk about their own opinions that don't line up with our own? Newsflash: There's a way to discuss, if you choose, without being rude, condescending, and mean.

As promised, it's not even about politics per se, it's about the Mean Girls Tendency. Jordan told me a story tonight about a nurse he was working with who said some fightin' words about me, someone she has never met or laid eyes on. I think he had said something along the lines of, "I'm gonna go and get home so I can fix dinner." Jordan enjoys cooking. It's a hobby of his and he does most of the cooking in our home (at dinner time anyway). Her response was, "Does your wife have a job?" When J told her I was a homemaker, she went off on a tangent about how she couldn't stand stay-at-home moms who couldn't actually accomplish X, Y, and Z at the house. My innate, sinful reaction was, "What's her name? What's her number? I will punch her in the face." And I would, y'all...before Jesus. I calmed down quickly enough because the last few days especially I've been in the Word about this very topic. Aren't we the hands and feet of Jesus? Those of us called into His family, aren't we to be loving others as He does? I was so mad at her (ridiculous) comment because it's obvious that she has never done anything like what I do on a daily basis. She couldn't have known that I've not been home at all today because stay-at-home parenting isn't exactly staying at home when you have a child with special needs. Oh, no. The day is spent in the car driving from appointment to appointment. It's spent bouncing the baby through three hours worth of therapy. It's spent managing times for driving to the sitter for one, school for another, stopping to nurse another, and listening while the deaf three year old voices how much he hates being in the car all day at the top of his lungs, for the love. It's spent on hold with insurance companies. It's spent budgeting and balancing the massive medical bills we accrue. That nurse didn't know that I came home today after a long day and started doing the dishes, preparing dinner, and putting four beautiful children to bed by myself. I bet she didn't take into account the time I spent going over my five year old's scripture he's committing to memory even though all I wanted to do was throw everyone in bed and sit down at the tv to shut my mind off. No. Her resounding message was that I was lazy and that just runs all over me. I certainly don't vent to her husband how her job is because...wait for it...I have no idea how hard it must be for her each day. I just trust that it is. I've never met her. I don't know what she's going through. Who am I to judge?



And that is the problem. We form these big opinions from behind our computer screens about what women are supposed to be and we forget to love and support the women right in front of us unless they are exactly like us in every way. A sweet friend recently pointed me toward Galatians 1:10:

"Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people I would not be a servant of Christ."

Do you need applause or likes when you put someone down harshly? I mean that sincerely not confrontationaly. And if I may speak to the other side of this coin, do you (I!) need this person's approval? Why? We needn't place value on the opinions of others apart from God's own opinion. Our identity comes from Him.

What does God say? This verse is plastered around my house because I need it in my role as a mother, but it is applicable in this conversation, too-

"Rather, let it be the inner person of the heart with a gentle and quiet spirit that is precious to God." 1 Peter 3:4

It's the same thing your mama probably taught you- "If you don't have anything good to say then don't say anything at all." I just think that a lot of times we are caught up in being right and loud about it that we forget that the people we are shouting at are people God loves tremendously, too. I'm not advocating that you don't stand up for something you believe in; I'm advocating for growth and appreciation for women (or men) who don't feel like you. Certainly continue challenging your beliefs and know why you feel the way you do, but don't let it compromise your love for following Jesus wholeheartedly. And Jesus loves the sinner. Despite their wrong actions. Despite their shortcomings. Jesus loves us. Amen. I'm so thankful for that love- that my King would die for me. His approval is what I seek. I can't worry about yours. It's a challenge for me every day. My tendency is to base my mood on others and if they're not happy with me then I'm down in the dumps. Almost daily, I have to remind myself that it doesn't matter what the world thinks of me, only God. Some of us aren't cut out for open dialogue on touchy subjects (ahem, me), but we are all cut out to stand for Jesus if He is indeed our King and He is mine. And what He has told me during this election period and during this season of my life is this: I am not called to blindly accept, but instead I'm called to love. If I have beef with someone's misguided opinion, I will focus on that in prayer. Seeing love in action is so much more powerful than someone's opinion being delivered unkindly.

As y'all vote (or whatever), I ask that you remember the people in front of you, beside you. You will still have to live with them despite who is elected. There are good Republicans. There are good Democrats. There are good Independents. There are good white people. There are good black people. There are good people and let's give them the benefit of the doubt.

Sorry for the novel!

Goodnight.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Postpartum and Pumpkins- a fitness update



It could be that I'm sitting here with a big bag of chocolate and carmel flavored popcorn in my lap (Thanks a lot, Boy Scouts), but I can't seem to get back in shape after this baby. It has only been three months, but with the others I was in better shape by now (at least I was with Merit...and possibly Abel). Perhaps it's because this baby is a girl or maybe it's because I turned thirty while pregnant. I don't know, but I'm not diggin' it. In the past, I could either eat healthy OR workout and stay at an acceptable place in my mind but now it's clear that I will have to do both. Which works out nicely because I just finished the last of that popcorn.
Some have asked me what I'm training for--just life, I guess. I'm having a hard time balancing everything in my life (in case you haven't picked up on that major theme of my blog) and so creating fitness goals and accomplishments are toward the lower end of my to-do lists. I'm just working on number one: trying to keep all the kids alive and relatively psychologically unharmed.
My first love is running. I don't love it while I'm doing it, but I always love it afterwards. It has rebuilt my core each time I've had a baby and it is the best stress relief this mom of four could ask for. It makes me feel alive. It reminds me that I'm so thankful for this body. It makes me want to take care of it even more. So while I do like to do races, it's not a huge deal to me. I've done a few 5Ks recently and have gotten an itch to try another half marathon soon, too.



Kacy's 5K record: 26:52
Kacy's Half record: 2:21:36

I think that's why I would like to try another half--because I know I can break that record right now in the shape I'm in. I'm entertaining the idea of running one in November, but I also need to make sure that is in the funds! Racing can get expensive, huh? I try to do races that are raising money for causes that I'm passionate about. A loose goal of mine is to make the most out of this fall running season.


Many of you have asked me to share my fitness progress and workouts with you during the postpartum period. My biggest secret is to just get active. It doesn't matter if the time you dedicate to changing your body isn't all at once. That's the biggest struggle when you have kids around. You try to spend at least 30 consecutive minutes working out, but someone needs their diaper changed, someone clotheslines someone else cuing tears, or someone sends a ball rolling right under your feet in the middle of your burpee causing you to face plant. It can be so frustrating if you're looking at a clock--so don't. Just as Rome wasn't built in a day, your body won't be either. If all you have are small increments of time then use what you have. Furthermore, get creative! Use the playground, do squats as you dry your hair, move constantly as you fold the laundry, DANCE! Lately, I've been using the pumpkins we have decorating our porch right now and so I thought I'd share one of the exercises with you-




For more peeks at some of the stuff that inspires me to get fit, see my fitness board on Pinterest.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The Seesaw

Up and down, up and down goes the seesaw. Sometimes the moments of the day are uplifting- a chat with a friend on the phone, the kids have a brief moment of camaraderie, or you see the exact point in time when your kiddo figures something out for the first time. Maybe your up is that everyone is napping at the same time or at least one person says, "Thanks for making me lunch, Mom." There are ups, for sure.
But boy are there downs. This morning before I could enjoy a whole cup of hot coffee, Abel decided to poop...in the front yard. Today before I could take a shower or put myself together to tackle the day with all four kids home due to various sicknesses, I set and then waited through an entire kitchen timer only to discover that I never actually put the food in the oven to bake.
I spent the day holding my babies and trying to stay above water with all the cleaning and organizing my home begs to have. We made it through the day and each of us had a pretty good one. I was feeling confident that I balanced cleaning, parenting, and time for myself like a champ. Everyone was on the mend and things were looking up! I was up. Refreshed. Happy, even. I left to pick up some things at the store and when I returned I came home to a wailing Abel who had thrown off his cochlear implant and was signing hurt all over his body. He's getting warmer as the evening wears on and I have that pain in my chest. Heavy with worry and stress, I am down again.

Every day I walk by this plant and it reminds me of me. A little water and it perks right up and begins to appear taken care of. Then, sadly, it goes without water for a long time and begins to droop. Despite the lack of care shown to the plant, it stays alive. It holds on. It stays green. It grows even when I think there's no way it can. I see myself in the plant because I do that to myself, too. Instead of waking up and pouring Truth into my life to refresh me, I sometimes sit there and think about all the unpleasant things the day might bring. I'll live in fear- should I not have said that? What if this happens? What if that happens? Instead of living in faith that the Lord I serve loves me and this family of mine more than I do, I often focus on darker thoughts. What if Merit has Lyme Disease? What if Kinley's eye infection isn't pink eye at all? What if he's allergic to these drops? What if he's going blind? What if Abel's ear is infected again? What if it travels to his brain? What if his bionic ear fails? What if Saylor isn't even breathing in her bed right now? The weight of motherhood is crushing. I'm not called to worry, though. Quite the opposite.
I daily have to orient my beliefs to the positive. Hourly. This is the way Satan attacks me, through my thoughts. I've always struggled with anxiety. I care too much what all of you people think about me that I daily have to remind myself that it only matters what God sees. I care a great deal about this family that I worry myself into a panic attack when one of them is threatened in some way. It became a recognizable problem the first time I was postpartum and really hasn't had a chance to work its way out of my body with each passing pregnancy. It's hormones, it's circumstance, but it's the enemy, too. 

I want to highlight the good- to savor it when I see it. While tonight has been somber for me, today was good. The Lord has provided us with food-

and lots of land to play on and discover.

He gave me rare, but much needed quiet time-

and He whispered in my ear in that still small voice that I am loved by the Creator of the Universe. I am loved. My family is loved. Up and down. Up and down. Either way, we're all okay.

The Seesaw

Up and down, up and down goes the seesaw. Sometimes the moments of the day are uplifting- a chat with a friend on the phone, the kids have a brief moment of camaraderie, or you see the exact point in time when your kiddo figures something out for the first time. Maybe your up is that everyone is napping at the same time or at least one person says, "Thanks for making me lunch, Mom." There are ups, for sure.
But boy are there downs. This morning before I could enjoy a whole cup of hot coffee, Abel decided to poop...in the front yard. Today before I could take a shower or put myself together to tackle the day with all four kids home due to various sicknesses, I set and then waited through an entire kitchen timer only to discover that I never actually put the food in the oven to bake.
I spent the day holding my babies and trying to stay above water with all the cleaning and organizing my home begs to have. We made it through the day and each of us had a pretty good one. I was feeling confident that I balanced cleaning, parenting, and time for myself like a champ. Everyone was on the mend and things were looking up! I was up. Refreshed. Happy, even. I left to pick up some things at the store and when I returned I came home to a wailing Abel who had thrown off his cochlear implant and was signing hurt all over his body. He's getting warmer as the evening wears on and I have that pain in my chest. Heavy with worry and stress, I am down again.

Every day I walk by this plant and it reminds me of me. A little water and it perks right up and begins to appear taken care of. Then, sadly, it goes without water for a long time and begins to droop. Despite the lack of care shown to the plant, it stays alive. It holds on. It stays green. It grows even when I think there's no way it can. I see myself in the plant because I do that to myself, too. Instead of waking up and pouring Truth into my life to refresh me, I sometimes sit there and think about all the unpleasant things the day might bring. I'll live in fear- should I not have said that? What if this happens? What if that happens? Instead of living in faith that the Lord I serve loves me and this family of mine more than I do, I often focus on darker thoughts. What if Merit has Lyme Disease? What if Kinley's eye infection isn't pink eye at all? What if he's allergic to these drops? What if he's going blind? What if Abel's ear is infected again? What if it travels to his brain? What if his bionic ear fails? What if Saylor isn't even breathing in her bed right now? The weight of motherhood is crushing. I'm not called to worry, though. Quite the opposite.
I daily have to orient my beliefs to the positive. Hourly. This is the way Satan attacks me, through my thoughts. I've always struggled with anxiety. I care too much what all of you people think about me that I daily have to remind myself that it only matters what God sees. I care a great deal about this family that I worry myself into a panic attack when one of them is threatened in some way. It became a recognizable problem the first time I was postpartum and really hasn't had a chance to work it's way out of my body with each passing pregnancy. It's hormones, it's circumstance, but it's the enemy, too. 

I want to highlight the good- to savor it when I see it. While tonight has been somber for me, today was good. The Lord has provided us with food-

and lots of land to play on and discover.

He gave me much needed quiet time-

and He whispered in my ear in that still small voice that I am loved by the Creator of the Universe. I am loved. My family is loved. Up and down. Up and down. Either way, we're all okay.

Friday, September 30, 2016

When Your Purpose is Tied Up in Someone Else

Is the title too melodramatic? I don't mean it to be. I just woke up before the sun, busying myself with getting everyone prepared for their days and I felt the familiar tug of longing. Everyone is taken care of so I can finally sit down with a warm cup of coffee and this keyboard and try to get all of this out in a way that won't ruffle feathers. If you think this title is pathetic or want to spout feminism chants at me then I hope you'll pause and imagine what it would feel like to truly know that about yourself.
I had a few years of my life that I had the stereotypical mindset of many psych majors--"I want to help people!" There's nothing wrong with that. It sounds great, but many of my professors would encourage me to think of another reason for wanting to study psychology. I can see why they would say that now.
After I graduated, I got a job working as a counselor to drug addicts. I knew it would be a challenging community to tackle, but I had no idea how much it would drain me. I embarrassingly quickly gave up on trying to change these people and developed this mindset-
and I knew it was time to hang up my hat. I turned in my notice and applied to graduate school. My plan was to study marriage and family therapy techniques and focus on what I thought (and still do!) was the most important catalyst for change, the family.
By this point, I had met J and we were pretty serious. He was deployed so I had plenty of time to work on this degree. He got home from Iraq a year later and my purpose began to shift in my eyes. I put my studying on hold to welcome him home, set up our lives together and get married to a man in uniform. When he was away, I knew it was because he was doing something important. He was training people who were heading off to war. He was serving. If he was stateside, he was a link in the proverbial chain and he was needed therefore I felt like I was doing something important. Being married to the military is a difficult task at times. You have to hold the fort down while they're gone. You might be given roles to help support all the wives that are left behind during a deployment. You might me appointed to help with fundraising for your significant other's company. The point is that I developed a bit of identity in being an Army wife and thus Mrs. K and Captain J was born. That was something for me. I love to write and starting that blog gave me an outlet. It also allowed me to make a little money and that gave me the feeling that I was contributing in a small way. Still, I hated that I started something I didn't finish so I continued to study to obtain my graduate degree from a different school.
My kids came along, one right after the other, and I settled into the idea that my purpose is in them. I know it is. But that makes for some lonely days. Now when my husband goes off to work as a civilian and has to work long hours, I don't have that cushion that makes me feel better about it because he's off working to help keep America's soldiers safe. So I'm annoyed. I look around and see all these beautiful kids and know that I should be doing X, Y, and Z to prepare them to be contributing, functioning adults and more importantly, to introduce them to the only One who can give them purpose in this life. But man is it lonely. I know I have plenty of mom acquaintances who know this, but because my kids are so close together (not school age) and one of them has special needs (lots of weekly appointments), I know that my job is here at home. I don't get paid for the work I'm doing and therefore I don't always feel like my job is contributing. There's nothing wrong with being a mom and having a job. Just as there's nothing wrong with being called to not have a job outside of my kids. I struggle with my calling. I've always been envious of those people who have always known what they were supposed to do with their lives- teachers, pharmacists, whatever. I know my purpose (at least for now) rests solely in four little hearts. It doesn't make me any more or any less than anyone else, but I do struggle with feeling slightly empty. When you don't get to go to the bathroom by yourself, shower, spend time getting dressed, be able to study the bible alone, or especially just have ten minutes where no one is asking anything pressing of you, you start to internalize that you don't deserve help. You are the help. You do it all. You exist for everyone else. There's nothing special about you. That's why it becomes lonely. I'm surrounded by little people who need me and a bunch of others who probably don't even see me until I lose my mind and quit washing the dishes, the laundry, or the babies.
But I just try to speak truth into my own life when I'm feeling this way--

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interest...have the same mindset as Christ Jesus..." *He made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant! (see Philippians 2:3-8)

"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me." (Galatians 2:20)

My purpose is as a wife and mother right now and that's okay. Maybe that will change and maybe it won't.

Whatever you are called to in this point of your life, work at it as if you're working for the Lord (because you are! See Colossians 3:23).

I work hard. I love hard. I have to die to myself daily. That's the hardest part. The selfishness is strong in me, but I know my children deserve the best so I'll keep fighting these feelings of loneliness, emptiness, and longing. Sometimes all it takes is picking my sweet three month old off of her play mat and looking into her big innocent eyes, watching her coo and kick, and remembering that this is what life is all about. I can slow down for today. It's Friday after all and I've been solo parenting all week long. I'll just scoop up my kids this morning, hold them and show them how loved they are by me and their Heavenly Father. Because this stage of my life is important, too and I will miss it when it's gone. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Feels like '98

Can we talk about this?


We know the mainstream media strays away from good news. Perhaps that's why that momentous occasion wasn't discussed. Despicable.

Anyway, I was sooo that obnoxious TN fan on Saturday night calling everyone and singing Rocky Top. It was much more than a game. It was eleven Saturdays over the stretch of many years of losing to the team that you were trained all your life to hate (slight exaggeration- only slight). It was eleven years of saying, "We'll get em next year." The last time we beat Florida I was a totally different person. In 2004, I was a freshman in college....


I didn't have degrees, babies, my husband. I hardly remember who I was in that photo above, but I remember how ecstatic I was in that moment when we realized we won. I was as happy as I look! And this past Saturday I kept saying, "Is this really happening?" It was hard to process, coming from a girl who used to enjoy weekly season tickets and hardly missed a game growing up. I haven't been able to go to any games between moving around with the Army and having children, but I always kept a watchful eye on my Vols. Even when I lived in Alaska and didn't have tv (and probably wouldn't have ever gotten to watch a game anyway), I would sign in to the world wide web despite the four hour time difference and munch on wings and beer at 8am as I watched the football symbol go back and forth and the score numbers going up and changing as the game went on in Knoxville. It felt like a lifetime away from me. In those moments, I sure wished I was on ole Rocky Top down in the Tennessee hills.

This Saturday was a homecoming. 

Here's the best article I've seen on it: Why The End of the Streak Should Matter to You by Loudon's own Tyler Wombles 

It has always been great to be a Tennessee Vol, but it was extra great this weekend. And my how things have changed!



So excuse me while I do my happy dance. The streak is over! The duck pulled the truck. 

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

How I Do It

There are countless posts that go un-published here. Most seemed too complainy and others were too dark. You know, there's so much you don't see behind the scenes of our lives and I hope I'm not alone in that. I try to be transparent, to let the copious amounts of people who say, "I don't know how you do it" in on the fact that I'm far from perfect. I struggle emotionally, spiritually, and with just about every facet of parenting. Every day I'm reminded how unbelievably hard it is to be a parent in todays world. There's a spotlight on all the time that flashes toward me when I send the kids outside to play to grow up as we did or our parents did, away from computer screens. They're in the mud, they're running through the tall grass where snakes could be. They're creating their own games and probably being a little mean to one another, too. Then the spot lights whips around to the other side of the spectrum, the helicopter part of many mothers. People criticize when you are three steps away from your kid on the playground, ready to catch any possible fall. They wonder why you want to get involved when they butt heads with a kid at school. It's a catch twenty two. No one is ever doing it right. 

If the stress of trying to measure up with the world isn't enough, imagine how much I dwell on desiring to please an Almighty God while battling the sin that is in my nature. I see the actions of my kids and feel as if it is a direct reflection of me, of our family. This weight is heavy, y'all. If there's one thing I know I'm doing as a stay-at-home mom, it's that I'm daily showing my children my own desperate need for Jesus. They see me in the Word and they see me failing. They hear me asking for forgiveness when I lose my temper with them and they hear it again when we're praying. I screw up all the time. Just as Paul said in Romans 7:15 "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do." I want to be a certain type of mother- a pinterest creative type who schools her children happily and inspires in them the desire to be outside, work with their hands, and get to know God. The mother I want to be has her children memorizing verses of the Bible, hiding God's word in their hearts from an early age. She does this all while juggling appointments, hearing equipment, and unending patience with her special needs son. She also manages the house and welcomes her hard working husband home with open arms and serves him readily, too. Does this woman exist? I don't know. Maybe I don't want to know. 
I just want to be holy and blameless before God at the end of this life. I want my kids to grow up to be decent human beings and to become disciples and fishers of men. That's why I'm here. I don't want to fail at this. And every single day I go to bed feeling like I am. That's why this is hard. The rocking multiple little ones, wiping noses and bottoms, preparing food that noses are turned up at, washing a million items of clothing a week, cleaning spit up off the floors hourly, and all the other things you couldn't dream up that my children could get into- those are challenging. But when I step back and look at the whole picture, I realize that none of that matters if my kids don't grow up and decide to follow Jesus. If they don't know him, it doesn't matter that their butt had a $15 diaper on it. It doesn't matter if I grow all their food from the ground in our backyard. It won't make a difference if they were potty trained at two or ten. If we don't have Him, we have nothing.
So this is how I do it. It's one day at a time. One hour at a time. Trial and error. Lot of prayers. Forgiveness. Perseverance. Grace. 
I'm really hoping I'm not alone in this....and if I am, well, maybe just keep that to yourself.
 
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