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Written Creations, LLC As a freelance copywriter and journalist, I specialze in all professional communications. As a mom, I specialize in taking care of my daughter. Here I give thoughts from my daily life. 2015-01-26T13:50:07Z http://www.writtencreations.com/blog/feed/atom/ WordPress stacey http://writtencreations.com <![CDATA[Never judge your motherhood by just one day]]> http://www.writtencreations.com/blog/?p=3712 2015-01-23T13:38:32Z 2015-01-23T13:38:32Z Nobody can be harder on a mama than herself.  We have all these things we tell ourselves about how we’re awful at motherhood, how we keep messing up, how we’re not doing it right, how we are doing the very …

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Nobody can be harder on a mama than herself.  We have all these things we tell ourselves about how we’re awful at motherhood, how we keep messing up, how we’re not doing it right, how we are doing the very things we swore we wouldn’t ever do and on and on it goes.  And we are great at putting guilt trips on ourselves.  If we do something solely for us that takes us away from our kids, we are sure that the world is going to come crashing down.  We are sure the kids will be scarred for life and someday sit in a therapist’s chair telling about how their life was going well until that one day  their mom decided to go to her room for an hour and read in silence or spend an hour a week for 10 weeks taking a class of interest to her or whatever.  We are good at laying it on thick on ourselves.  Heck, we may be great at not judging other parents and their styles, but we are the first to harshly criticize our own.

I have worked on this.  I have blogged about this.  I have reminded myself that I am doing the best I can.  I am still working and still reminding myself that I’m doing my best.  And I still have bad days.

Earlier this week I literally only had my kids for about two hours after dinner before bedtime.  They had spent the day with my parents while I went to doctors’ appointments and run some errands for my son’s upcoming 2nd birthday party.  Those two hours included baths for them both (we don’t do baths every night in our house).  And I knew after they went to bed, I’d have to hop in the shower myself.  I much prefer doing that in the mornings, but my husband had an extra early day the next day and he’d need to be in the bathroom getting ready during my usual shower time.  I didn’t feel like setting the clock even earlier than usual.  Add all of this in to the fact that I’d had a pretty busy day cramming in tasks I can’t do as easily with the kids around and that they were hyper and excited after having just spent time with their grandparents and it was a recipe for stress.

It was one of those evenings that make you question your sanity and why you ever decided to have children in the first place.  The evening had come after a rough day previously as well.  My son is a typical toddler who is very into exploring and checking things out.  Every so often he has a day or two that he just goes crazy and wreaks havoc around here. My patience was thin with both of them.

By the time both were tucked snugly in their beds, I was worn out.  And it had only been two hours with them.  What kind of mother gets so irritated in just two hours?  What kind of person was that I had no patience for their shenanigans that evening?  I started laying it on myself thick.  It hung over my head and my heart.  I prayed about it in the shower.  I prayed about it the next morning during my quiet time.  God has given me these children and all I do is get grumpy and irritated with them, I said to myself.  That wasn’t my plan and it surely wasn’t His either.

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I was judging myself and my mothering skills based on one bad day.  The next day dawned with my kids behaving as usual.  I found myself laughing with them and enjoying them.  I still got some tasks accomplished on my to-do list (which always makes me feel better) and I also did things like snuggle under a blanket on the couch with them singing songs during a pretend camp-out.  In fact, when I tucked them into bed, my heart felt happy and content.  I felt good about the day and good about myself as a mother.

But just as I shouldn’t judge myself and all of my parenting skills based on one bad day, I also shouldn’t based on one good day.  One good day doesn’t make me a saint.  It doesn’t make me a perfect mother.  It doesn’t mean that I don’t have room to improve and things I need to work on.  I still do.  I always do and always will.  That’s part of being human.  What that DOES mean, though, is that I need to continue reminding myself not to beat myself up too hard on the rough days because there are always good days to follow.  Not every single day is crazy stressful and not every single day is blissfully happy. Most days are somewhere in between with mixes of both. That neither means I’m a good mother nor a bad one.  It just means I’m a mother in the fray of raising small children.

No matter how today goes — whether great, awful or mediocre — I will still be who I am at the end of it.  I will still be a mother who is trying her best and who loves her kids even when they make her want to scream because they are frustrating or weep because they are so sweet.  One day’s experiences don’t define my motherhood ability.  They just define that day. And that’s what I need to remember.

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stacey http://writtencreations.com <![CDATA[Because you’re mine]]> http://www.writtencreations.com/blog/?p=3700 2015-01-16T15:22:24Z 2015-01-16T15:22:24Z “Mommy, come!”  ”Mommy, come here!”

This is the little voice I hear calling to me most mornings and after nap times.  Sometimes my son switches it to call for daddy.  And sometimes he gets desperate and just sobs without even …

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“Mommy, come!”  ”Mommy, come here!”

This is the little voice I hear calling to me most mornings and after nap times.  Sometimes my son switches it to call for daddy.  And sometimes he gets desperate and just sobs without even calling our names.  And for a couple of months, I’d hear this sobbing and crying for me in the middle of the night again after him having slept through the night for almost a year.

This is my son last week after having a rough time during his nap. Sometimes just my presence beside him in the room can help him relax and ease his fears, just like God's presence does for me.

And when I hear this voice and hear his plea, I go to him.  Because he is mine.  We snuggle together to calm his fears.  My hair falls over the top of his head and the two intermingle in exactly the same shade of brown.  Because he is mine.  We have had our fair share of battles — stubborn ones — throughout his learning to sleep or just to listen when we tell him not to do something.  Because he is mine (he comes by his stubbornness fair and square).  At the end of any given day, though, the things I have done that day for my son and for my daughter are because I love them.  They are mine.  I see bits of myself in them.  My daughter has my sensitive heart and the shape of my fingers.  She has my smile.  My son has my brown hair and eyes.  He has my love for music and snuggles.

I think about how I would do anything for them, because they are mine.  I think about how I don’t ignore their pleas for help when they are sick or scared, because they are mine.  I think about how God must feel that way with us.  Because we are His, He doesn’t ignore us when we cry out to Him.  He is there even when we don’t realize it.  Just like I am never far from my son when he is afraid that I have left for good.  I haven’t left.  And neither does God leave us, even when we can’t see Him.

He comes running to us in our time of need because we are His.  I think of this especially in the night. Things can be scarier in the night, especially for children.  My daughter is old enough to get out of bed and come running to me when she needs me.  My son is still in his crib and his only course of action is to holler for me.  Either way, I’m there, which is just how God is with us.  Whether we can come running and meet Him or whether we need Him to find us in the darkest nights.  He is there.  He is waiting.  He is loving us.  Because we are His.

I’ve had many figurative dark nights in my lifetime. I have had times where I had no idea how I was going to make it through.  I have had innumerable moments of frustration and pain.  I have cried out to God about the unfairness of it all.  I have pleaded with Him to take away difficult circumstances or painful ailments.  Some prayers have been answered with a yes and a resolution.  Others have been answered with a gentle no.  No matter what I have faced, though, He has always shown up when I needed Him and cried out to Him.  Because I am His.  And no greater love can be found.  I work to wrap my head around His love and how it can be even greater than my love for my children.  It’s beyond comprehension, but the glimpses I get make me feel humbled and thankful.

I wonder what God sees when He looks at me.  Does He see pieces of Himself as I see pieces of myself in my children?  I know we are made in His image, but I also know it goes much deeper than appearance.  I’m not sure that God has a hair color or eye color.  Maybe he does.  I really don’t know.  But what I want Him to see the most is His character attributes being displayed through my life because I am His.  And that is where it gets tricky.  I have to battle my own self, my own desires and my own fallibility so that He may shine through.  I want Him to see Himself in me.  I want to get out of the way so that He can work in my life.  Because I am His and He is mine.

I don’t know where you are today, my friend.  I don’t know if you’re in the deepest darkest night and scared to pieces, unsure of how you will make it through or how you can face another day.  I don’t know if maybe you’re on a mountaintop experiencing the joy of life and of God.  Or maybe you’re somewhere in the middle.  Maybe you’re wondering how God shines through in your life.  No matter where you are, no matter what you’re facing, wondering or thinking, just call out to Him.  He will come running to meet you, because you are His.

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stacey http://writtencreations.com <![CDATA[Looking forward to 2015]]> http://www.writtencreations.com/blog/?p=3694 2015-01-08T19:13:18Z 2015-01-08T19:13:18Z We are a week into 2015.  There is something about a new year that seems fresh and hopeful.  Well, most new years.  My husband and I welcomed 2014 in with a stomach bug.  That didn’t seem very hopeful.  But, this …

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We are a week into 2015.  There is something about a new year that seems fresh and hopeful.  Well, most new years.  My husband and I welcomed 2014 in with a stomach bug.  That didn’t seem very hopeful.  But, this year, I have had no tummy bug and am feeling ready for a new year.

I have seen enough new years to know that a new number doesn’t necessarily mean anything.  In fact, Jan. 1, 2015, was quite similar to Dec. 31, 2014.  I still had children to feed and diapers to change.  I still got hungry and ate food.  I still reminded myself to be patient.  I still needed sleep.  It wasn’t a magical transformation.  I didn’t immediately lose 10 pounds or suddenly become fit.  I was still me. And that’s OK.

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I do, however, have hopes for this year.  I’ve never been huge on resolutions, but I am big on planning.  And I do have some hopes.  My husband has deemed 2015 as the Year of Reduction.  While I’d like to reduce my waistline, what he’s thinking is more of a purging of extra stuff cluttering our house.  He’s thinking of getting rid of things and organizing things.  I am with him in those hopes and thoughts.  We’ve made a good start already in purging toys and clothes from the kids’ rooms. We have a ways to go, but we’re getting there.

My other goal is to find a better organization strategy.  I love being mentally organized. I get stressed out when I’m not.  I’m the kind of person who thrives on schedules and lists.  I have lists for everything.  I got used to doing most of my planning on my computer before the kids were born and I was working full-time.  These days I don’t spend as much time on my computer and even my phone has limits.  I have tried to put an item on my to-do list, for example, and by the time the list loaded on my phone my kids needed something and I had to put it down.  I’ve been using a plain notebook that has worked pretty well, but in 2015, I decided to go back to an old school planner.  So far it’s working out quite well.  Even better, I’ve been able to make notes on months way in the future.  I’ve already made notes about baking things for next Christmas, for example.  I have some recipes that made more than I anticipated, so I marked that in December 2015 notes so I will know next year that one batch of certain treats will be ample.

In looking ahead at the new year, some big things are happening for our family starting in a couple of weeks when my baby boy turns 2.  He’s pretty much been in the toddler phase for a while now, but he was still 1, which is still in baby territory.  Being 2 places him more solidly in toddlerhood, and that is very bittersweet for me.  I’m excited about all the new things to come and getting to know him even more as he continues talking more and more, but I’m also a tad sad the baby days are behind us.

In these same next few weeks we’re also working on figuring out the right school for our daughter who will start kindergarten in the fall.  I’m not quite sure how that’s even possible since I feel like I just gave birth to her a month ago.  She will transform from a preschooler into a school-aged child.  Ack!  Just typing that sentence made tears spring into my eyes.

And those are just the things I know that are coming this year.  There will be so much more as there is every year.  I can’t predict much of it.  I can’t plan for all of it.  I have hopes for the year of things like decluttering, organizing and being healthy.  But I have no guarantees.  I’m looking forward to seeing what 2015 brings.  Maybe it will be better than 2014.  I hope that it isn’t worse.

What are you looking forward to in 2015?

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stacey http://writtencreations.com <![CDATA[The hope and joy of Christmas]]> http://www.writtencreations.com/blog/?p=3687 2014-12-12T21:25:17Z 2014-12-12T21:25:17Z To say these last few weeks have been crazy would be an understatement.  We’ve dealt with a tummy virus in three of the four people in our family, colds, two run-ins with croup resulting in ER visits, a UTI, a …

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To say these last few weeks have been crazy would be an understatement.  We’ve dealt with a tummy virus in three of the four people in our family, colds, two run-ins with croup resulting in ER visits, a UTI, a sinus infection, an allergic reaction to an antibiotic and a four-day stint out of town for medical treatments.  I’m sure there’s something I’m missing.  So, yeah.  Crazy is a good description.

However, right now I’m sitting peacefully in my living room while the Christmas tree lights are twinkling in the corner and Christmas socks are warming my feet.  Both of my children are napping. And I have to say I am ready for Christmas this year perhaps more than ever.  No, I don’t mean ready in the physical or secular sense.  In fact, beside me on the couch is my notebook with a list of activities I still want to get done in these next couple of weeks like making cookies, wrapping gifts and going to some light displays.  But I am ready in my soul and in my spirit.  I am ready for the hope and joy of Christmas.

We started with a Advent family devotion on Nov. 30.  I’ve missed it for a few days while I was away for some medical stuff, but the kids carried on with my parents.  I cannot wait to get back to it with them today.  The messages are short and sweet.  Most importantly they keep us focused on the true meaning of Christmas.  This has long been my favorite holiday.  I know that the manger doesn’t mean so much without the cross.  However, the two go hand-in-hand.  You can’t have one without the other.

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Christmas can be such a great time of hope and renewal in a way that has nothing to do with presents, homemade goodies or twinkling lights.  What has always awed me about Christmas is that it was the beginning of the sacrifice God made in sending His Son — His One and Only Son — to earth to suffer for us.  That’s always gotten to me, but since becoming a mother, I tear up when I stop to really think about it.

I love my children more than the air that I breathe.  I waited for their births.  I had one Christmas where I was in the midst of caring for a new baby when my daughter was only 3 months old.  I had another Christmas when I was 8 months pregnant and so very miserable and in pain.  Both Christmases gave me new perspective.  They gave me insight into what it must have been like in some small ways for Mary.  And they gave me great insights into love — pure love.  I cannot imagine sacrificing my children for people who love me.  I really cannot imagine sacrificing my children for people who ignore me.  And I most certainly cannot imagine sacrificing my children for people who hate me and curse my name.  Yet, that is exactly what God did.  He wrapped all of His love up into one bouncing baby boy.  And He offered Jesus to the world to live among us, struggle with us and eventually die for us.  Die for us!

Would I have chosen to have children had I known they would have to die a horrible, tortured death for people who jeered at them?  No, I don’t think I would have.  I don’t have that kind of love.  I look at their precious faces and know that I would go through anything and everything to spare them any pain and definitely to spare them death.  But, God loved me, them and you so much that He gave His Son as a sacrifice for us all.  That is love.  And that is what Christmas is about.  It is hope.  Because when you realize that Someone loves you so much that He’s willing to sacrifice everything for you, it changes everything.  Love changes everything.

Does that mean all Christmases are awesome?  Unfortunately, no.  Like anyone who’s been around for a while, I’ve had some difficult Christmases.  There was the Christmas spent in CCU praying for my mother-in-law to pull through after a heart attack (I’m happy to say she did and 13 years later is still going strong!).  There was the Christmas that came just two weeks after losing my grandma.  Sometimes life is hard and circumstances are hard. But the message of hope remains steady and true every single year.  It has remained unchanged for century after century.  It is there even when we don’t feel it.  It is there even when we ignore it.  And, praise God, it is there when we most need it and long for it.

I don’t know where you find yourself this holiday season.  Maybe it’s a happy one for you; maybe it’s a hard one.  Maybe it’s somewhere in the middle.  Maybe you join me in longing for a reminder of hope and a rebirth of love.  No matter where you find yourself over these next couple of weeks leading up to Christmas, I pray that you also take the time to seek and find God.  He is always there, ready and willing to give you His hope.

Come, Lord Jesus, and fill us with Your hope and joy.

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stacey http://writtencreations.com <![CDATA[Small things for which to be thankful]]> http://www.writtencreations.com/blog/?p=3682 2014-11-26T18:33:26Z 2014-11-26T18:33:26Z I have learned many lessons about being thankful throughout my lifetime and I know I’ve got a lot left to go.  I’ve learned to be thankful when I didn’t feel like it.  I’ve learned to be thankful when times are …

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I have learned many lessons about being thankful throughout my lifetime and I know I’ve got a lot left to go.  I’ve learned to be thankful when I didn’t feel like it.  I’ve learned to be thankful when times are beyond rough.  I’ve learned to be thankful when life is great.  I’ve learned to be thankful when my heart was full to the point of bursting.  And I’ve got lots of wonderful, big things for which to give thanks: God, my husband, my children, my parents, a warm home, food in my belly…the list could go on and on and on.  I am thankful for all of those things.  I have written about some of these things before.  I have kept others more personal and to myself.

This Thanksgiving has its own stuff with it, but I offer you a list of the small things I’m thankful for this year.

- Being able to start this blog post. Seriously.  I thought my son was waking up an hour ago.  He’s been getting up earlier than usual.  And now I’ve had a chance to have my quiet time and devotions, eat breakfast, goof off on Facebook and now write this blog post.  The only sound I hear is the furnace running.  It is quite nice.  (And finishing it a day and a half later is also something for which to give thanks!)

- Double Stuf Oreos. Does this really need an explanation?

- Husbands who bring in the laundry from the garage so I can go on to bed.

- A working furnace.

- Target’s Cartwheel app.  Seriously.  Some good coupons on there.  I love saving money.  It makes me happy, happy, happy!

- A glass of good, cold milk — unlike the glass I had this morning from the new jug that tasted really, really wonky.  (And, yes, I poured it out instead of drinking it.)

- Birthday cake.  OK.  I’m not getting any birthday cake today, but I am thankful for it.  And yesterday was my brother-in-law’s birthday, so now I’m thinking about cake.  (And said brother-in-law, who is in my list of family members I am certainly thankful for.)

- Music.  Not sure I need an explanation for that one either.  I love music on the radio and music in my head.

One of my two awesome Wonder Woman water bottles

- My new Wonder Woman water bottles.  They were on clearance (remember how I love to save money?), the two I had were broken, I use them all the time and I was so in love that I bought two.

- Not setting off baby toys that make noise.  I’m always thankful when that works out.  I have a fear of picking up or accidentally stepping on a toy that goes off making noise and wakes everyone up when they’re supposed to be sleeping.

- My cell phone. Of course I can talk on it, check Facebook and e-mail, but I can also make ridiculous amounts of to-do lists and reminders to give me the impression of being organized and on top of things.

- A dishwasher.

- My car and driving.  I love driving.  Last evening I got to do some driving alone.  It was the longest journey I’ve taken by myself in a couple of years, even though it was only about 40 miles away.  Driving is awesome.  (And if you’re local and in the market for a good pre-owned vehicle check out Garrett Auto Sales.  They’ll hook you up!)

- The library.  Oh how I love the library!  I’ve got two different bags of library books right now — one for myself and one for my daughter.  I feel richer at the library than even the dollar store.  Sure, we can get that book.  And that one, too!  OK, throw in that one as well.  Books!

- Comfy couches.  I’m sitting on the one in my dining room right now. I am realizing how old it is, yet, it’s comfy and I quite enjoy it.

- Cuddles.  I get lots of them these days.  Toddler cuddles, preschool cuddles, canine cuddles and even some husband cuddles.  I like my space, but I love me some cuddles.

- Baby boys who wake up laughing instead of crying.  Always a good sign.

- A sweet little girl and her handsome daddy who both lit up as they told me today about their daddy/daughter date last evening.  I’m not the Grinch, but my heart grew in size.

- Getting Christmas shopping well underway before Thanksgiving. I know folks who balk at Thanksgiving getting overlooked for Christmas.  I’m not trying to ignore Thanksgiving, but I am trying to save my sanity because my December calendar is quite full.

- Cute socks.  Today I’m wearing black socks with a pink and red argyle pattern dotted with hearts.  They are technically Valentine’s Day socks.  I wear them all the time, because hearts are always appropriate to me.

- Good friends who make me laugh, force movie popcorn on me and have heart-to-heart conversations with me over French food at Irish restaurants.

- You.  I’m thankful for those of you who take the time to read my blog.

And now if you’ll excuse me, my son is napping, my daughter is in preschool and I’ve got a few more things to get finished.  I’m thankful for the kid-free time in which to get things done.  I’m also thankful for kid-free time to mark important items like “rest” off my to-do list.  ;-)  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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stacey http://writtencreations.com <![CDATA[The light in my kitchen]]> http://www.writtencreations.com/blog/?p=3675 2014-11-18T23:43:55Z 2014-11-18T23:43:55Z I have a light over my kitchen sink.  It’s a long fluorescent bulb and since we bought our house 10 years ago, we have never once changed the bulb.  We have changed every other light bulb multiple times in a …

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I have a light over my kitchen sink.  It’s a long fluorescent bulb and since we bought our house 10 years ago, we have never once changed the bulb.  We have changed every other light bulb multiple times in a decade.  But that one has remained steady and true.  This time of year, I use it the most.  Sometimes I need it for seeing well to scrub dishes after dinner when it’s dark as night by 6 p.m.  Most times I leave it on in the evenings and mornings because that one light produces enough light to light up the kitchen and dining room and even serves as a decent light source for our living room.  It’s just the right amount of light to see by but isn’t blinding to eyes that haven’t yet adjusted to light.

The light over my kitchen sink isn't fancy, but it's bright, steady and true -- just as I want to be.

Monday night, for example, the light came in handy when my daughter woke us up in the middle of the night sick with the same stomach virus her brother had just gotten over days before. She was a miserable little girl.  Once we took care of cleaning needs and got her through the first part of it, I sent my husband back to bed (one of us needed sleep and he still had work to do even from his home office the next day).  Lexiana and I settled into the living room.  I spread a blanket on the floor, set her up with her pillow, a blanket and a bucket.  I had turned on the light over the kitchen sink.  It gave us just enough light to see by in the living room but not so much that we couldn’t sleep.  It gave us just enough light to see by when we made numerous trips down the hall to the bathroom and back.

As I stretched out on the couch for a 20-minute snooze between times of having to get up with her, I thought about that light.  And I thought about the day ahead.  And I thought about how tired I was.  And I wondered how I’d get through the day.  Because one thing I knew for sure is that this sick day wasn’t about me.  It couldn’t be.  No kid wants her mom moaning and groaning and griping when she’s the one who is sick.  So I prayed.  I prayed for strength through the night.  I prayed for energy to keep getting up and to keep dealing with laundry and all that comes with such an icky virus.  I prayed to stay well to take care of my family.  If I somehow beat the odds and missed the germs from my son, I feel like beating the odds and missing the germs the second time around is almost impossible.  But I need to first take care of my family.  And so I prayed.  I wanted to be like that light.  I want to shine light into the darkness and stay steady and true even when everything around me is dark.

I know it sounds profound for a 5 a.m. thought process in the midst of a stomach virus, but evidently I wax poetic at these times.  And evidently God doesn’t sleep through them either.  (Of course!)  I felt Him gently reminding me that He can keep me shining and give me the strength to keep going when I need it most to take care of my family.  And I needed His strength.  My beautiful daughter was horribly miserable and she has quite a low tolerance for misery.  She doesn’t take well to not feeling.  (Who does really?)  There are lots of tears and whining and moaning.  I most certainly need help to continue being loving sometimes in the midst of that.  I know she doesn’t feel well.  I know she truly is miserable and that helps.  But divine help also reminds me that love is patient.  Love is patient.  And I love her more than life itself, so I am patient.

As for my girl, she’s over the worst of the virus and working to regain her strength through some much loathed naps.  She had her first sips of Sprite and was sorely unimpressed.  She was quite anxious for water.  As for the kitchen light, it still shines steady and true and lights our house just enough at just the right times.  Evidently it will now also serve as a reminder to me to remain steady and true through the grace of God.

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stacey http://writtencreations.com <![CDATA[WC Book Club: Nov. 2014]]> http://www.writtencreations.com/blog/?p=3542 2014-11-13T14:01:12Z 2014-11-13T14:01:12Z I told you a few months ago about how I’m doing my best to hang on to pieces of me where I can because I realized how fleeting and short my days of hard core motherhood are.  Part of that …

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I told you a few months ago about how I’m doing my best to hang on to pieces of me where I can because I realized how fleeting and short my days of hard core motherhood are.  Part of that hanging onto myself of late has been returning to the hobby I’ve had since I was a child: reading.

A couple of years ago, I shared with you how my mom has passed her love of reading to me and now it has passed on to my daughter as well.  Now that my son is getting older, he also really enjoys being read to.  We’re a family of readers.  However, also in these last couple of years, reading has been a challenge for me because there just wasn’t time or energy.  I’ve read books slowly in bits and pieces.  I’ve read magazines.  I’ve read articles online.  I’ve read my Bible and daily devotions.  But to just sit and read book after book, it’s been a while.  Before children, I would sometimes spend entire days reading.  As a child, I have many memories of sprawling across my bed with my nose in a book.  In fact, when I was in maybe 6th grade, my mom and I had to switch to a different library in our city because we had pretty much read everything on the shelves in our respective age groups and tastes that was at the smaller branch we went to.

I’ve missed reading.  It’s a hobby just for me.  And it’s something I didn’t realize how much I was missing until I started doing it again.  It started on vacation this summer.  For years I have been involved with R.A. Salvatore’s “The Legend of Drizzt” series.  It’s 26 books in, so there have been plenty for me to read.  I finished the one I was reading then finished the final three that have been released.  I’m waiting for the next book to come out next March.  I hate that I caught up in the series and now have to wait, but I knew that was inevitable.  However, it’s taken me two years to read two books of his.  I started one while I was in labor with my son until I was too distracted to read.  So it took me a while to catch up.

In between the most recent two Drizzt books, I was left feeling antsy.  I was just getting back into reading and enjoying myself.  I was remembering what it felt like to really lose myself in a book in the couple of hours I stay awake after the kids are in bed or the hour I sometimes have in the morning before they’re awake.  So I decided to move on to some other books for now.  There are plenty of other R.A. Salvatore books, but after spending five or six years reading only his books, I was looking forward to trying something new.

I went for the “Divergent” series by Veronica Roth.  We saw the first “Divergent” movie a few months ago and I really liked it.  I checked the first one out on my Kindle from the library.  Within four days I had finished the entire trilogy thanks to having some extra downtime.  It was divine to have such a chance to read.  I stuck with the book series in spite of the fact that I don’t like reading books written in present tense.  I’m a bit picky that way.  I’m also picky in that I want good writing.  It doesn’t have to be grand literature, but it does have to be good writing.

Again, I was feeling antsy when I finished the final book.  I know there’s at least one other book that’s related to the series, but again I was ready to move on.  I just didn’t know to what.  I thought about “The Lord of the Rings” books, “The Chronicles of Narnia” books and “The Hunger Games” books.  But I just wasn’t sure.  In fact, before I started reading “The Legend of Drizzt” series I had never read fantasy books.  I kind of felt ready to take a small break from fantasy books as well.  And so I did what people do in this day and age, I turned to my friends on Facebook and asked for suggestions.  I got some aplenty and even was able to download and start reading a recommended author through my library before I went to bed.

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It is with all of this in mind that I introduce the Written Creations Book Club.  It’s nothing fancy and I have no disillusions of it being comparable to Oprah’s book club, but I like the idea of sharing what I’ve read and liked and getting ideas of good reads from you.  And I also am excited to talk about what I’m reading with other people.

This is my first list.  Some of them I’ve read and some of them I haven’t, yet.  I can’t vouch for all of them, so don’t get mad at me if you try one and find it lacking.  I’ve included links to author pages when I could.  If you do read any that I’ve read, I’m always happy to talk about them, though.  And I’m also looking for additional suggestions.  I’ll continue to touch base and read some of your suggestions and list some of my own periodically.  I’m interested in books that don’t have smut, graphic violence or lots of curse words.

Books I’ve read recently and enjoyed:

The Divergent Trilogy by Veronica Roth — As I mentioned above, I picked up this trilogy after seeing and liking the first movie based on the series.  It sucked me in and I couldn’t put it down until I finished all three books.

“Rise of the King” by R.A. Salvatore — This is the newest Drizzt book that released this fall.  As I expected, it was awesome.  I took my time reading it because I knew once it was over, I’d again have to go into a holding pattern.  I’m looking forward to the next book due out next March.

Books by Lis Wiehl — A friend recommended her writing to me and I read all four of the Triple Threat books and then all three of the East Salem books.  I highly recommend them.  They are Christian based books with suspense and mystery as well.

The Maze Runner trilogy by James Dashner — My husband and I thought this movie looked good when we saw the previews, but I wanted to read the book first. I read the first one and was hooked so that I finished all three books and am now on the waiting list for the e-book version of the prequel through my local library.  The books have lots of suspense and mystery without foul language or gore.

The Sisterchicks series by Robin Jones Gunn — These books are quick and easy reads for me.  They involve two female friends (once two sisters) who find adventure and spiritual renewal.  That sounds more boring than the books actually are.  They have been some of my favorite books lately.

“While We’re Far Apart” by Lynn N. Austin — A friend recommended this author.  While the subject matter involves a family who has suffered great loss during World War II and how they survive, it’s actually much more uplifting than it sounds.

The Giver quartet by Lois Lowry — I have just started this series and read only the first book.  I’m saving the final three for a couple more weeks when I know I will have more time to read.  Waiting to proceed on to the second book and find out what happened is a bit challenging for me, so that tells you that the story draws you in for sure.  It’s the kind of book that makes you think without realizing that it’s doing so.

“The Help” by Kathryn Stockett — I read this book without realizing there was a movie and all that jazz.  However, it was another book that got me thinking and kept me interested.  In fact, I spent a couple of nights staying up later than I meant to because I didn’t want to stop reading.  And that is always a sign of a good book!

Books friends have recommended that I haven’t gotten to read, yet:
The Xanth series by Peirce Anthony

Books by Stephen Lawhead

“The Rift War Saga” by Raymond E. Fiest

The Foundation series by Isaac Asimov

The Physician of the Cole Trilogy by Noah Gordon

“In Between” by Jennie B. Jones

“The Hunger Games” series by Suzanne Collins (In all fairness, I did start to read the first book of this series and then stopped because I was too familiar with the story line from the movie to get that into the book; I don’t like knowing much of anything about a book before I begin reading it.)

“God’s Secretaries” by Adam Nicolson

The Selection trilogy by Kiera Cass

“On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness” by Andrew Peterson — I have a contemporary Christian music CD from Peterson that is more than a decade old and I still enjoy it; I’m anxious to give his books a try and see if I enjoy them as much.

 

What are you reading?  What do you like?  What have you read?  Let’s talk books!

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stacey http://writtencreations.com <![CDATA[You are not forgotten]]> http://www.writtencreations.com/blog/?p=3649 2014-11-09T21:19:34Z 2014-11-09T18:59:24Z Today (Sunday) had a rocky start, but it ended up transforming my worldview just when I needed it most.  God likes to do that, I’ve found.  And He doesn’t disappoint.

It was a bit like wrangling greased pigs to get …

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Today (Sunday) had a rocky start, but it ended up transforming my worldview just when I needed it most.  God likes to do that, I’ve found.  And He doesn’t disappoint.

It was a bit like wrangling greased pigs to get us out the door and to church mostly on time.  I do not like to be late, but we almost were.  My husband was at home sick.  My son was going back to the nursery for the first time in months.  And this was the first time I was taking both kids to church on my own. I talked to my daughter on the way and explained that we were later than usual and needed to cooperate and not dilly dally on the way in.  She understood.  Then I asked her if she would pray with me that her brother would not cry in the nursery. I drove and prayed out loud.  She added her own prayer.  We whizzed into the parking lot and were off.

As a complete answer to prayer, my son didn’t even whimper when I handed him over to the nursery worker.  He just watched me go and was completely fine.  I slid into a back pew feeling a bit shell-shocked.  How had that just happened?  I remembered our prayer from 10 minutes earlier and realized that God had answered my prayer.

Today was one of those days when my mama heart was just fragile and achy for a wide array of reasons.  I couldn’t exactly put a finger on what was off and making me sad, but something was.  I slowly began to revel in the fact that God had heard me and answered my prayer as we began singing worship songs.  And almost as surely as if He’d been sitting in the pew beside me, God spoke to me.

“You have not been forgotten.”

What?

“You have not been forgotten.”

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My heart was filled.  Tears sprung to my eyes.  Forgotten.  That’s what I had been feeling for the last couple of weeks.  Forgotten. I am in a season where my life revolves around other people pretty much all of the time.  Just this morning as I was eating my breakfast, I thought about how 90 percent of the time, I was fine that life wasn’t about me, but 10 percent of the time, it stung.  I didn’t quite know how to best manage that.  Sometimes I wanted to do something for me.  Sometimes I wanted it to be about me.  Sometimes I wanted to feel seen for who I was and heard for what was in my heart.

What happens when we become moms is that we disappear a bit. I’ve written about this many times.  Our lives are so consumed with this small person and later small people to care for that we disappear.  Heck, even just interacting with other people showcases that fact.  Have you walked into a room with a baby in your arms and had someone stop and sincerely ask you how you’re doing?  Neither have I.  The baby gets the attention.  And that’s OK.  But, over time, we mamas really can feel a bit forgotten, whether we recognize it or not.  Add in that we forget about ourselves (when was the last time I got my hair cut or decided what I wanted to eat simply because it sounded good to ME?) and we are left a bit adrift.

But, I have good news.  I have good news that just arrived as a fresh balm to my aching heart this morning: You are not forgotten, mama.  I am not forgotten.  No matter how little the rest of the world sees of us, no matter how little we see of ourselves, God sees us.  He sees us.  HE sees US!  We have not been forgotten.

And that includes that prayers that we’ve been praying for years and waiting for answers to.  That includes the desires of our hearts that sometimes seem so far from obtainable that we cry in despair.  That includes the pieces of ourselves we chip away in order to take care of our families.  That includes all the sacrifices we make. That includes the hurts He continues to let us endure to remind us how much we need Him.  We’re not flailing around down here without Someone noticing.  He notices.  He hasn’t forgotten us.  He loves us.  He sees us.  He doesn’t overlook us.  We are the desire of His heart even more than our children are the desire of our hearts.  He has not forgotten you, mama.  He loves you.

Dwell on that today.  Remember that today as you tend to everyone else except yourself.  Remember that today when you feel like no one is listening to your heart, even if that’s only because you’re too tired to express your heart to someone who cares.  Remember that today when you start to feel like nothing more than a cook, maid and bottom-wiper.  Remember that God sees you.  God loves you.  God encourages you.  And He has not forgotten you.  He wants to meet you where you are.

You are not forgotten!

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stacey http://writtencreations.com <![CDATA[The tediousness of motherhood]]> http://www.writtencreations.com/blog/?p=3643 2014-11-05T12:51:29Z 2014-11-05T12:51:29Z Sometimes life is tedious. Sometimes motherhood is tedious.  I can’t tell you how many times I wash the same dishes, fold the same clothes, put away the same toys, do the same bedtime rituals, prepare the same snacks and read …

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Sometimes life is tedious. Sometimes motherhood is tedious.  I can’t tell you how many times I wash the same dishes, fold the same clothes, put away the same toys, do the same bedtime rituals, prepare the same snacks and read the same books.  I can’t tell you how many times I vacuum the same carpet, clean off the same countertop, change the same sheets and drive the same route to and from preschool.  It’s a lot.  Being home with two small children is predictably unpredictable.  Every day some things are the same.  Every day some things are different.  It’s tedious.  It’s exhausting.  It’s consuming.  It’s draining.  But, is it worth it?

I was reheating homemade potato soup for the kids’ dinner last week before we left for the evening to do some work with my brother-in-law. The kids were in the living room playing contently with my husband — a fact for which I was grateful.  My toddler is very impatient when it comes to food and likes to orbit around me wailing while I prepare most meals.  It’s delightful.  I had on my favorite Christian station.  I’m more a fan of music and less a fan of talk on the radio, but in between songs when my hands were too busy to change the station, the DJ came on.  He read a story from “Guideposts” about a man who had worked on Mt. Rushmore who shared how tedious the job was and how he learned that even tedious tasks are important to the big picture.  The woman interviewing him then related that to her own life and the tedious tasks of raising her sons and all that entailed.  However, her sons are now grown and the tediousness is gone and she sits and looks at the grown men she has raised and is proud.  The tedious tasks she did for them helped create a wonderful finished product.

The story hit my heart.  It brought tears to my eyes immediately as I realized I am most definitely in the tedious phase of motherhood.  I finished cutting some grapes and buttering some bread and called the kids to the table. As we ate our dinner and chatted, my toddler son was having a rough evening.  He’s cutting a tooth and he can be quite grumpy about it.  He’s also obsessed with raisins and wants them all the time for every meal and really only raisins would be just fine by him.  I don’t agree that he can survive solely on raisins, so mealtimes are often a battlefield right now.  During a very short respite in our dinnertime battles, I sent up a fervent prayer while the message from the radio lingered in my heart, “Lord, please let this all be worth it.  Let my children grow up to be awesome people.”

These sweet little ones are what keep me going through each and every tedious task of motherhood.

It’s tedious.  It’s hard.  It’s all-consuming.  I know.  I’ve said these things already, but I feel the need to say them again because they are so very true.  I’d like to think that it will all be worth it.  I don’t think I’d mind a small peek at the future to see my children living their lives as thriving, intelligent, caring and loving adults who I somehow didn’t manage to completely mess up.  That look at the future isn’t possible, though.  So I will just have to keep trusting that every day, every small task I do repeatedly and in the midst of chaos is worth it.  I have to remind myself that the more goodness from me and from God that I pour into them, the more goodness they’ll pour back out into the world.  And this world can always use more goodness.

I see glimpses of what the future might look like for my children as they grow up.  I’m not sure what their occupations will be.  Right now my daughter wants to be a doctor, a paleontologist or an art teacher.  Right now what I see in her is a sweet spirit full of encouragement for others.  I see in her a great compassion and willingness to love with a big heart.  That will serve her well in the future.  She will excel at making friends and making people feel valued.  She already does.

My son is younger, so I’ve not had as much time to get to know him and he can’t yet communicate to me what he wants to be when he grows up, but I see a tenacity in him.  He is determined and won’t give up on something he wants.  While that’s frustrating to me while he’s a toddler and what he wants is something that isn’t safe for him, this character trait will serve him well in the future as he pursues his dreams and goals. I see in him an ease to laugh and love.  He laughs more easily than any child I’ve been around. I adore it.  I hope he always retains that inner joy.

Where are you today?  Are you with me stuck in the tedious tasks of motherhood that sometimes seem to drain your very life force?  Are you wondering if all the hard work will be worth it in the end?  Will we one day forget this tedious phase just like we have (mostly) forgotten the pain of childbirth?  I think so.  Of course I don’t have all the answers.  My journey is far from complete with my children.  We have a long way to go, but I am going to keep pressing forward, putting one foot in front of the other, completely one tedious task after the next because that’s what a long line of moms has done before me and it worked out for them.  I will also keep moving forward and doing everything I can for my children simply because they need me and I love them in an all-consuming way that keeps me moving even when I’d much rather lie down and sleep for two weeks.  Tedious?  Yes.  Worth it?  I think so.  Yes.

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stacey http://writtencreations.com <![CDATA[Moms need Sabbaths, too]]> http://www.writtencreations.com/blog/?p=3632 2014-10-30T18:42:59Z 2014-10-30T18:42:59Z “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.” Exodus 20:8

I’ve been thinking about the concept of a day of rest lately. The Sabbath day keeps coming up to me in various ways.  And every time it has lately, I’ve …

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“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.” Exodus 20:8

I’ve been thinking about the concept of a day of rest lately. The Sabbath day keeps coming up to me in various ways.  And every time it has lately, I’ve sort of wanted to smack someone.  I’m not a violent person, but I’m a frustrated person.  How am I supposed to figure out a day of rest when I’ve got two small children?  How am I supposed to figure out a day of rest when I’d like just to take a shower without rushing before everyone wakes up and needs me?  How am I supposed to figure out a day of rest when I have food to prepare eight times a day?  How am I supposed to figure out a day of rest when they need me all the time?  How?

So I’ve been thinking about it and praying about it.  It is a command from God to have a Sabbath and keep it holy.  It is His command to rest.  A quick search of the NIV Bible translation over on BibleGateway found the word Sabbath is used 154 times.  That’s a huge amount.  That tells me God was serious about it and that I need to be serious about it, too.  I realized that while I’m bemoaning my life as a mom with two small children and how busy and hectic that is that God has a whole lot more people to take care of.  Millions and millions.  He had a whole planet to make, which certainly trumps the slew of granola bars, PB&Js and cups of crackers that I’ll make today.  And yet He still needed a day of rest.  And He’s God!

I know that I need rest.  I can tell you how I get when I get overworked and overtired and overwhelmed.  I end up over-cranky.  It’s not pretty.  I turn into someone I don’t like.  I get grumpy with my husband and children.  I retreat into myself.  I get miserable.  Obviously I need a break sometimes.  We all do. We were designed that way.  God knows it, too.  Just like I don’t ask my children to do things just for the fun of it, so He doesn’t ask us to do things just for the fun of it.  He knows that we need rest.

I’ve come up with a few ideas about this whole Sabbath and rest thing while still being a mom to two small children.  I’m challenging myself as much as anyone else to somehow follow this advice as well.

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First, I need to define what rest is to me.  In my head, rest means sitting in my recliner with my feet up reading a book and taking naps with no one bothering me.  (I should also mention that I’m an introvert and the best way for me to recharge my batteries is through alone time.)  While that scenario isn’t unholy or wrong, it also isn’t very feasible.  I remember days when I was a teenager and young adult that I could every so often just spend a whole day lazing around reading a book.  Nowadays that could possibly be an option maybe once every two years.  So, I need to redefine rest.

Second, I need to define the time of rest.  A whole day of rest is nice, but having a whole day to devote to anything besides my children is quite a challenge.  However, I do have five minutes here and there.  I can sometimes even eek out an entire hour or two.  Those smaller chunks of time are the key for me.  They refuel me throughout the day when I need it most.  Maybe as a full-time mom I can’t take an entire day off for a Sabbath, but I can take the moments I get and use them productively, which sometimes means just to rest.  Because I need it and because it is as important as doing laundry and cleaning the house.  It needs to be scheduled and OK.  I need to give myself permission to rest not only because I need it but also because God directed me to do so.

I’ve found rest in God during early morning hours.  I’m a morning person, so this works for me.  I like getting up early and starting my day off with quiet devotions and prayer time.  I am a much happier person when I do this.  Even just 10 or 15 minutes of rest in God while my family continues to sleep makes me feel more ready to conquer the day.

I’ve found rest in God when I’m driving my daughter to PreK and am listening to my favorite Christian music station.  In fact, that’s pretty much all I listen to, because it helps me and inspires me and reminds me of God throughout my day.  I especially enjoy the times in the car because everyone is strapped in and not climbing on me or needing constant supervision.  I really love the times I’m alone in the car driving to pick the big kiddo up from school while her brother finishes his nap (my husband works from home most of the time; I don’t leave the toddler home alone!).  Sometimes one song can refresh me and my perspective on the day.  Seriously.

I’ve found rest in reading for fun.  I have discovered that logging onto my laptop and perusing Facebook and Pinterest are fun, but they aren’t truly restful to me.  Reading, however, leaves me feeling more refreshed and, quite frankly, more like myself since it’s been a lifelong favorite hobby of mine.  I enjoy the R.A. Salvatore series on Drizzt but I also rediscovered the inspirational fiction section of my local library and continue to be blessed in many ways with those books.

I’ve also found rest quite literally.  By the grace of God (and I don’t say that as merely an expression, I fully mean it), my son’s nap and my daughter’s preschool times overlap.  So for two hours, four days a week I have child-free times. There are definitely times I use that time to eat lunch and nap.  I count that as productive because I know that rest will make me a happier mama who can enjoy the rest of the afternoon and evening with her family.

While I may not have a traditional Sabbath, I know that I’m not alone. Moms and busy people everywhere struggle with downtime.  We struggle with quiet time to reconnect with God and with ourselves. And yet we need it. We were created to have limitations.  We were created to find our strength in God.  We can’t do that if we never stop doing things.  How do you find your Sabbath?

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