Category Archives: May

Nashville Clothing Crisis!

People of Nashville,

I wanted to make you aware of a clothing crisis going on in our area. I wouldn’t have believed it had I not seen it with my own eyes. From what I can tell it’s affecting women ages 16-29, roughly, but who knows how fast it could spread to our children.

I saw signs of it on social media when people were posting prom pictures, but it wasn’t until recently that I saw it with my own eyes. I went with my family to the Nashville Sounds game and couldn’t stop staring. It was like I had walked into a filming of National Geographic.

So. Much. Skin.

Women were walking around with their bums hanging out of their high-waisted cut off shorts. I can only assume they were hand-me-downs from their mothers because they looked like something from the 80s. Are women here really walking around with 30+ year old tattered, holey shorts? They can’t afford new shorts that cover their WHOLE behinds? Guys, we can do better than this.

Other women were in such dire need of clothing they were wearing shirts that were obviously made for toddlers. It was appalling. Grown women so destitute they had to wear children’s clothing because they couldn’t afford a full shirt in their own size. Their concave bellies must be showing all the time because they were very, very tan although it’s not quite summer yet. They’ll probably have skin cancer from all the exposure. Can you imagine? Being forced to buy from the children’s department because it’s more affordable than adult clothing! These poor girls.

Girls were also resurrecting the infamous bodysuit. You know, basically the onesie made for an adult that was popular back in the ‘90s? Yep, that’s the one. I guess these girls were raiding their mothers’ closets and thought those would be a good throwback because who on earth would buy that tragic piece of clothing now? It’s saying to the world, “Hey World, I know you can’t see it but I have a front wedgie!” It was hard enough to snap those silly onesies when I had babies, why on earth would I want to do that to myself? And, lesbihonest, I’d have to be some sort of contortionist to make sure they were snapped correctly on myself. “Limber” has never been a word used to describe me.

Women of Nashville, I implore you to help with this clothing crisis! Do we need to hold a clothing drive for these poor young ladies? They shouldn’t have to walk the streets with their fannies exposed to the world. And we should be able to provide them with shirts that actually cover their sunken bellies! Oh sweet ladies, we need to help these young girls and get them clothes that cover the necessary body parts. Maybe we could have a sponsorship program like they did with the millennials (see the promo video here). Hmmmm, it’s a thought. If you have any ideas on how to solve this clothing crisis, please email me. Together we can end high waisted shorts and body suits.

-Courtney

*If the sarcasm was lost on you in this post, my apologies, let me be direct: Girls, put some clothes on.

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Quit Shoulding Yourself!

I was keeping the nursery at church last Sunday and one of the guys that volunteers with me said something that made me laugh, but also made me ponder. He said it jokingly after his wife made a comment about something she should do. He said, “Stop shoulding yourself!” If you say the phrase out loud it may make you chuckle, but it made me think, “Man, isn’t that the truth?”

Want to know what the word “should” does? It’s a good intention that carries a backpack full of shame.

“I should really take them dinner. They’ve been through a lot lately.”

“I should do a bible study.”

“I should really start to work out more.”

“I should start eating healthy so I can lose some weight.”

“I should really call ________ and catch up.”

“I should start memorizing Bible verses.”

“I should volunteer.”

“I should learn a new skill.”

“I should be more intentional about spending time with my husband.”

“I should ________________…”

The list could go on for infinity, am I right?

When did we start living lives of “should dos”? I have a feeling it’s when we started comparing ourselves to other people; so basically it’s been going on forever, but social media has really amped it up. We see pictures of people starting amazing organizations. We see couples going on dates. We see people organizing their lives. We see people growing their businesses. We see parents doing fun things with their kids. We see people having quiet times. We see people in yoga poses. We see it all. The best of every person. Everything. And none of it is bad, but when we start thinking our lives are supposed to look like someone else’s, or really everyone else’s, that’s when it gets sticky. And shouldy. When we consider what we should do, it’s normally based on what someone said we should do or saw someone else doing. Don’t you love it when you tell someone something and they say back, “Well, you know what you should do is….” It’s like unsolicited advice on how to live your life. As if they’re some sort of expert on you. But dangit if I don’t do it too. We have good intentions, we really do, but sometimes people don’t want to be fixed; they’d rather someone just listen. Sometimes we just want to be loved for who we are not what we do. Social media has led us to believe if we’re not doing something amazing with our lives for all the world to see, then our lives must not be post worthy. This is crap.

To be completely honest, I’m not exactly sure what I should be doing with my life. Anyone else live with that uncertainty? Does it consume your thoughts on the daily? Or is it only there when you get quiet right before you go to sleep? It can send you into a tailspin quick as a whip. Many of us just block/busy it out all together so we don’t have to go to that part of our soul. The shoulds can weigh us down and make us feel inadequate in so many parts of our lives that I get why we don’t want to address it. But if we don’t address it, we risk living a life where we don’t value ourselves and how God made us.

I don’t know much, but one thing I’ve learned in the last few months is living underneath “shoulding shame” is not living at all. It’s a life sucking existence. If we ever want to know what God wants us to do, I can guarantee it’s not live with a backpack full of shame bricks. That is not the life He has called us to. He did not send Jesus to the cross so we could spend our lives living in shame.

“But you don’t know what I’ve done. You don’t know my thought life. You don’t know my past sins. I try to be a good person but I keep screwing it up. I’ve never done anything with my life. I’m just a regular person; a nobody, really.”

Maybe these statements are how you feel about yourself. We say nastier things to ourselves than we do our worst enemies. We are so unkind to ourselves. We know God loves us but we have a hard time believing that don’t we?

We know the gospel is: Jesus died to forgive our sins and if we believe in Him we have eternal life.

But we live like: Jesus died to forgive our sins and if we believe in Him and do a lot of good things and are really good Christians, we have eternal life.

Nope. Not the gospel.

The beauty of the gospel is it leaves out all the shoulds. And do you know what happens when you live without the shoulds? You’re free. You are free to live, knowing you’re beloved by the God who created you. And guess what:  He loves you for no other reason than He created you.

In Psalms 139:14, it says:

“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”

God made us wonderfully from the beginning. He knew us. He hemmed us in. He saw our unformed substance. He laid His hand upon us. He is a good Father who loves His kids. Our souls know it very well.

Quit shoulding yourself. Live with the knowledge that you are loved. When we live like we’re loved, we can begin living a life of want to, instead of should do.

When’s the last time you just sat and let God love on you? If you don’t know how to let God love on you, go read Psalm 139. I pray it leaves you feeling loved, known, and near to the Father.

-Courtney

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Note to my younger self: the hotel edition

This post is in honor of my sister-in-law. I promise it gets better, my friend.

 

Note to my younger self,

Oh, honey. It’s ok. You will survive this too. Traveling with littles isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s like being held captive by tiny terrorists. You can’t negotiate with terrorists and toddlers. Their M.O. is to deprive you of sleep until you break, then they cry incessantly until YOU are the one rocking back and forth in the corner saying things like “Find your happy place” over and over. Staying in a hotel with kids is like going to war. You think you know what you’re getting in to, but you don’t. You think, “There are enough beds for everyone so it’s all good.” This is a lie from the pit. Don’t fall into the trap, young one. All those hotel commercials with families frolicking by the pool and laughing over the complimentary breakfast are a sham. Apparently no one wants to see the red-eyed mother rocking her inconsolable baby in the lobby at 1:00 am. No one advertises the 2 year old who has just pooed his swim diaper in the pool and his parents frantically trying to get him out. And what about the littles who are running amok down the halls screaming at the top of their lungs at 6:30 in the morning? I guess they didn’t audition well.

I promise there’s a silver lining here. Now, your kids are older. They can sleep in beds other than their own and not act like crazed animals. They sleep, yes SLEEP, in these beds all the way til morning without a peep. They actually like going to hotels because they know they’ll get to watch TV in bed. They don’t run up and down the halls anymore terrorizing every guest that wants to sleep past 7:00. And since they’ve all figured out how to control their bodily functions, there are no “code browns” in the swimming pool. The unfortunate thing is they are still children and act as if the whole hotel room is a laundry basket, so their clothes cover every inch of the floor. I know you’re freaking out right now. “You mean you let their clothes get on the icky, germ-infested floor?!” Yes. Yes I do. Ironically, your children’s immune systems are super human. I like to think it’s because of your early dislike for deep cleaning. Thank you, young one, for not making their home as sterile as a hospital. (P.S. you also still like to credit yourself for things that probably have nothing to do with you i.e. their immune systems. It’s fine.)

Here’s the deal. You are one tough cookie whether you know it or not. Sometimes the tiny terrorists win and that’s ok. You will live to fight another day. If you feel overcome by your little loves, take a minute. Go for a LONG walk, get a pedicure, visit a friend, see a counselor, read a book. Do whatever it is that feeds your soul and frees you from reality, even if it’s just for a little bit. These tiny people need you and they need you to be strong. Hang in there, it gets sooo much better. And harder in some ways. I can’t tell you about that now though, you might have a come apart. Carry on, brave warrior. You were made for this.

Love,

Your more rested older self

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P.S. The last time you went to a hotel your kids stayed in an adjoining room. Did you hear me?! ADJOINING ROOM!! FREEDOM!!!!! No more 8:30 bedtime for you and Kyle! Nevermind that you have no idea how many hours of television they watched before bed. You don’t even care because you got to watch Netflix on your phone. It was magical. It’s in your future. It’s your destiny. Nevermind that you don’t know what Netflix is yet. You will. And you will binge on Gilmore Girls. I know it’s on TV right now in 2007 but just wait. You’ll watch it in 9 years.

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What I Meant to Say…

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If you came to my book signing for Rooster’s Balloon in Memphis last week this is what you may have heard me say:

Hi guys! Thank you so much for coming!

(Blah, blah, blah. Awkward pauses. Shaky voice. Awkward words. Blah, blah, blah. More awkward pauses. Shakier voice.)

…and again, thank you for coming!

Sigh.

Speaking in front of people is not my gift. Like not even close. So for those of you that were there, my sincerest apologies.

Let’s have a do over, shall we?

Hi guys! Thank you so much for coming! I can’t believe so many of you gave up your Sunday afternoon to be here. Your kindness is overwhelming.

Mr. and Mrs. Wiggins, thank you so much for opening your home and offering to host this book signing. Your kindness and generosity and hospitality have been supremely evident in the 20 years I’ve known you. It is who you are. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you and all that you have done. Your family is so precious to me and I am a better person because of your love and support over the years. Thank you.

This book is so special to me. You all have no idea how this book has changed my life. When I tell people about this story, many have said, “Oh that’s such a nice thing you’re doing” or “What a sweet gift,” to which I always feel uneasy. You see, this book is not, nor will it ever be, my gift to the Harrisons. This book was a gift to me. God used this story to teach me to trust Him. As much as I wrote this story with their daughter in mind, I also wrote it with me in mind. When hard things happen and I don’t understand, my mind reverts back to the mind of a child. When we’re children, we don’t pretend to understand things and act like we have all the answers. Children ask questions and aren’t afraid to show their feelings. I relate so much to Rooster because she got to say things to God I wanted to say. She asked Him questions that I wanted to ask. This story is so much more than words and pictures.

I wish I had time to tell you all the stories people have told me regarding this book. I could tell you of multiple people that have seen God differently because of this book. I could tell you of a little boy who put his faith in Christ after reading this book. I could tell you of this book arriving on the doorstep of a family who just hours later would have to say goodbye to a family member. God is using this book for His glory. Nothing I write could ever be as good as the story God is writing for His kids. In His kindness, He is letting me have a peek into the magnitude of what He is capable of.

Everyone has been so encouraging and supportive and I am beside myself with gratitude. It has been one of the great privileges of my life to share this story of Rooster with you. I still can’t believe God let me write it. I am forever changed. So as much as I wish I could say Rooster’s Balloon is my gift to the world, it’s not. It has and always will be, God’s gift to me. Thank you, Jonathan and Alicia, for letting me share it. Thank you for being so generous with your story. Because of you, people in similar situations will be comforted. You are two of the bravest people I know and I am honored to call you my friends.

And as many of you know, a donation will be made from the proceeds of this book to Make A Wish Midsouth in honor of Evie Harrison.

Thank you again for coming and supporting this precious book.

 

(Awkward smile. End scene.)

 

That’s how it went down in my mind. I’m so sorry it was nothing close to that in real life. And seriously, if you came last weekend, I loved seeing you and I hopefully got to chat with you for a bit. Thanks again for a great day!

 

P.S. I read this post back to myself aloud and still had a shaky voice and teared up. How do public speakers do it?!?

-Courtney

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Is comparison the ONLY thief of joy?

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“Comparison is the thief of joy.” -Theodore Roosevelt

I’ve liked this quote since the first time I heard it. It’s one of those that made me say “Exactly! That is so right!” So many times in my life I miss joy because I’ve compared myself or my circumstances to someone else’s.

Recently I’ve found something else that steals my joy. Expectation. Expectation has been the thief of my joy. What I’m finding to be true in my life is that when I put my expectation in anything other than God, it’s coming up short. When my expectations are not met, it leaves me angry and irritated.

An example of this happened just last week. I had gone to a doctor’s appointment at 7:30 in the morning. It was going to be a long appointment because I had to receive an infusion (for my UC) and those last usually between 2.5-3.5 hours. After it was finished I was told I needed to get a scan done. My appointment for the scan wasn’t until 1:00 but they were sure I could be “worked in.” So a little after 10:30 I finish my infusion and walk over to my next appointment. They check me in and I take a seat. I wait. And wait. Then I wait some more. Finally after an hour, I go up to the desk to ask if my name has been called and I somehow missed it. She went back to check then told me no. She also asked me if I was aware my appointment was at 1:00. Yes, I told her, I know but I was told I could be “worked in” (Don’t worry, guys, I didn’t use air quotes.) She said ok, they’re just a little backed up. Then she proceeds to tell me that I’m next on the list for this scan. Perfect. I don’t mind waiting a little longer. Another hour goes by. At this point, I want to leave but I feel like I’m too invested. I’ve waited too long to leave now. If I leave now, I’ll just be a schmuck that fell for the old “You’re next in line” bait. (Side note:: I couldn’t help but think of the Friends episode when Phoebe stays on hold for a day because the recording kept telling her she was the next caller. I feel you, Pheebs.)

Finally after 30 more minutes, I get up and walk over to the front desk, hand her my clipboard, and tell the lady I’m leaving. She asked if I wanted to reschedule, I said I’d call. I had let myself get to the “I’m so angry my voice is shaky because I’m trying not to cry I’m so angry” place. It was really a precious sight. I walked out of that place at 1:30. I had waited for 2.5 hours. I felt like a schmuck.

I had the expectation that I could be worked into their schedule and when that didn’t work out I let the waiting steal my joy. The people-watching was sort of phenomenal so at least there was a bit of a silver lining. So often in my life I let my expectations hold my joy. If I put expectations on Kyle and he doesn’t meet them, I’m disappointed. If I put expectations on my kids to be kind to one another or not fight and they do it anyway, I’m irritated. If I plan a day perfectly and it doesn’t work out that way, I feel defeated. If I exercise and eat healthy for 5 days and my body doesn’t change on the outside, I want to give up.

Then it’s like God taps me on the shoulder and whispers in my ear, “You’re putting your expectation, or HOPE, in the world. The world was never meant to fulfill your HOPES. I am the only One who can do that for you.”

 

When I was looking for affirmation of this in the Word I found many verses that supported the truth that our hope is to be found in the Lord, not the things of this world.

 

“As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.”   1 Tim. 6:17 (ESV)

 

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”   Heb. 11:1 (ESV)

 

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”   Rom. 15:13   (NIV)

 

“Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”   Rom. 8:24-25 (ESV)

 

When I let my hope, or my expectation, reside in this world I always get what the world has to offer me: disappointment. I’m learning there’s a reason for that. When I allow the joy of knowing Jesus Christ to fill me up, I quit expected Kyle to fill me up. When I remember to deal with my kids the way Christ deals with me, I don’t expect them to be perfect. When I allow for flexibility, or grace, in my schedule, I feel at peace with the day. When I rest in the fact that God doesn’t care if I ever weigh 125lbs again, I can workout hard and know that I did what was best for my body even if the scale doesn’t move. These are the things I need to remember. The world can’t offer me this kind of hope. It’s just not capable of doing it. The world tells me I have to look a certain way or have a certain body to be considered pretty. The world also tells me if people don’t make me happy I should leave them. The world tells me I’m only as good as my Pinterest board or Facebook page makes me look. The world tells me that my job as a parent is to make my kids happy.

The world is full of crap.

The world has made idols of these expectations. These are things we’re supposed to strive for then our lives will be perfect. Have you ever wanted something so badly and then when you got it, it was just ok? This is what we’ve fallen into. We think if we can just be this, or do that, or reach this goal, then we’ll really be somebody. Then when we get there it’s just…ok. If we put our trust and in the God who created us and knows us, this is the only chance we have at joy. He’s the only One with the ability to give it completely.

Expectations are the thief of joy.

Yes, I think this statement is much more accurate.

 

PS–Waiting rooms are also the thief of joy.

-Courtney

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Flashback Friday

Getting into the swing of summer reminds me of a story I posted last August. I had high hopes of taking my kids on an epic canoeing adventure. This post reminds me that my grand expectations are always brought back to reality within about five minutes of beginning the adventure. Good luck on all your endeavors with your littles this summer!

Bright Idea

This summer I made the decision that our family needed more adventure. We aren’t really an “outdoorsy” family. We’re not campers or hikers or really into anything that requires us to dig a hole when nature calls. You feel me? But for some reason I’ve been feeling like my kids need more adventures. It was the end of the summer and I knew if we didn’t do it soon, they would be back in school and we would never do it. I wanted to do something before the monotony of school and sports’ schedules took over our lives. My sister-in-law told me weeks before how much fun she and my brother had taking 2 of their kids canoeing. So I thought, “That sounds fun and it’s on the water so my kids will probably love it! I’ve also been doing the row machine at the Y so I’m pretty sure that makes me an expert canoer. Is “canoer” even a word? No matter, I’ve totally got this. And since the 2 oldest are big enough to paddle, it won’t matter that the hubs isn’t with me because they’ll totally help me paddle.” Perfect plan. (I feel like I should also mention that when I told Kyle what I was doing, he gave me raised eyebrows and a “Wow”. Not, “Wow that’s awesome”. More like “Wow, that might be a tad ambitious since no one you mentioned has ever canoed before. And our kids pretty much always let you know when they’re hot/hungry/tired/bored, so that could be interesting. I’m almost sorry I can’t come just to observe the disaster that is sure to ensue.”)

I called and set up our reservation and peppered the guys with questions like,

“So, how long is the shortest course?” 2 hours.

“Will there be other people out there canoeing with us?” Oh yeah.

“Do I need to bring anything in the canoe?” Nah, it could fall out and get wet so leave all your valuables in the car.

Done. I can totally do this. The next morning I get the kids up and out the door by 8:15 because it takes 30 minutes to get to the canoe shop. I pack a couple of water bottles for the canoe because Lord help us if a child gets thirsty, it’s as if they live in the Sahara and haven’t had water in days. We pile in the car and go. Google maps does me right and gets me there in exactly 30 minutes. We’re there a little early and I’m looking around the shop. I ask the guy which course we signed up for and he shows me on their little map. He says, “Ya’ll are on the 2 hour course and it usually takes 3-3 1/2 hours to complete.” Ahem, say what? 3-3 1/2 hours? Why wouldn’t you call it the “3-3 1/2 hour course” if that’s how long it’s going to take? So that’s going to put me getting home around 1:00. Let it be known that I have a weird phobia/anxiety-ridden fear that if my kids don’t have food in their bellies by noon, they might turn into ravenous beasts that may or may not eat each other. Or the other option…..they. will. whine. Incessantly. Until I rip my ears off. Neither of these are good options. So I push my fear back down where it belongs and try to stay positive. Another group of people show up so we are ready to go. We all get into a van that’s going to take us to the river. Right now the kids are stoked! So ready to go on this adventure! The van comes to a stop and we all get out. The driver gets the canoes out and takes the other group down to the river. We start to follow and he tells us this isn’t our stop. They’re going on the 4-hr course (translate: 6 hr). He said our drop off point was further up the river so we all get back in the van. We drive for a bit to get to our drop off destination and this is when fear started to creep in. We get out of the van and the driver realizes he forgot kid life vests for my 2 youngest, so he has to drive back to the canoe shop to get them. During this time I began reflecting on my decision to take the kids canoeing. By myself. Ignorance is bliss until you choke down a heaping tablespoon of reality. My reality is this:

1. I’ve got 3 kids completely dependent on me to get them down the river.

2. I’ve never paddled an actual canoe in my life.

3. I have no phone to call for help.

4. I have no watch to know what time it is or how long it’s taking us to get down the river.

5. I have to pee and there are no bathrooms.

6. I have no food.

This is going exactly as I had imagined. (Sniff, sniff. Smells like sarcasm). As I’m playing the worst-case scenario game in my head, it’s becoming apparent I’m going to have to succumb to the call of nature and pee outside. I tell the kids I’ve got to go find a spot to go to the bathroom. They are completely confused and understandably so. I mean, one, I’m not a boy so I don’t/can’t pee on a tree. And two, I’m an indoor girl so peeing outside is not something I do. Once I found my spot, I was pleasantly surprised that the squats I’d been doing were paying off. No trouble hovering whatsoever. Glad that’s over. The driver finally shows up with the life vests and helps us into our canoe. Then he leaves. And we’re alone. It does cross my mind that we could totally die out here and no one would know. I did have my ID and bank card just in case I die they can identify me, then clean out my bank account. The other situation I thought would probably happen would be basically the movie “The River Wild”. In this case, I’m obviously Meryl Streep and some bad guys hijack our canoe and we are their hostages. The only redeeming thing about that scenario is that at some point my kids will get hungry/tired/whiny in which case they will probably let us go.

So we start down the river and relief washes over me when I see the river is not deep at all. It hadn’t rained in a while so the water was low. Like ankle deep low. I felt sure no one would drown if the canoe took a tip. While I was glad that the chance of drowning went way down, I realized quickly the chances of us getting stuck on rocks went up about 1000%. We got stuck on rocks a good bit and I may have pulled some back muscles using the paddle to get us loose.

And remember when I thought because my kids were bigger they would help paddle? Well, that was only the case about 50% of the time. The other 50% was them holding their paddle in the water but not paddling. I’m no scientist but I’m pretty sure that when one paddle goes forward and the one in front of it is stationary, it makes the canoe go in a circle. At least, that’s what happened to us. So there may have been a few times that I may have told/yelled at my kids to get their paddles out of the water if they weren’t actually paddling. #momfail

The fun part was when we would come up on the rapids. Some would say they looked like a babbling brook. But trust me, they were rapids. I would never embellish. Every time we were coming up on one I made the kids yell, “Rapids! Dead ahead!” The more rapids we came across, the more I realized that rapids=rocks. And in our case, rocks=stuck canoe. Trying to jimmy us off the rocks with my paddle was a good test of our balance. Thankfully, we never tipped over which I deemed a great accomplishment!

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Overall, it was a great experience. The kids enjoyed being on the water and looking for turtles. There were definitely times when the kids complained about how long it was taking and there were some tears over a cut foot, but I do think my kids had a fun adventure. I think I had the best time just being outside in God’s creation doing something fun and new with my kids. And even though I still think it wasn’t the smartest thing to take the kids canoeing my myself, (Did you know canoeing is pretty much nothing like the row machine?) it turned out to be a blast. It made me realize I need to face my fears more and do things I’m not sure about because that’s when I feel the most empowered. God made me to do stuff, so I need to go do it.

-Courtney

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Relief for some, panic for others

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Dirty feet. A sure sign of summer. And little boys.

I don’t know about you but this time of year I’m so stressed out from kids’ activities to end-of-the-year school stuff, I’m just ready for summer. I just want my kids out of school so we aren’t slaves to the routine anymore. I don’t want to make any more lunches at 7:00am. I’m just done with all of it.

But there was a time not too long ago that the thought of summer would send me into a cold, sweaty panic. Many of you moms with toddlers know what I’m talking about. I want you to know I SEE YOU. I KNOW IT IS ABOUT TO BE SO HARD FOR YOU. Having toddlers and babies at home 24/7 for 3 months is no joke. For me, it felt like I was living the Bill Murray movie Groundhog Day. It was the same day over and over again for infinity. Or that’s the way it seemed. I mean, how many times can an adult listen to Elmo talk before she starts twitching? How many times can we endure the God forsaken park? How many messes can we clean up? How many times can we lose a paci? How many times can we say “No”? How many half-eaten meals will we throw away only to be asked for a snack 20 minutes later? How many pounds of goldfish can we feed our children? How many times can we hear the words “I hungryyyyyy” without our ears falling off? How many times can we hide in the bathroom just to get some alone time? I can’t tell you the exact number of times you will do these things; all I can tell you is it will feel like infinity. Moms of littles, I SEE YOU. You can do this. It’s 12 little weeks. Mark off the days on the calendar if you have to. (Of course, don’t tell anyone or you will be shamed endlessly for not wanting to spend every waking moment with your precious children.) Call in back up (read:: grandparents) if you have to. You will survive.

I can tell you these things because I am now on the other side of it. I’m finally one of those moms who can’t wait for summer! It finally happened! I never thought I would make it to this point. When my kids were little they were fun but they needed so much of my physical attention that I was always exhausted. Now, my kids are pretty self-sufficient and are fun to take places and do stuff with. They’re a little more independent which makes life a lot less stressful for me. They can actually walk themselves to the neighbor’s house and I don’t have to go with them. And I don’t have to call it a play date. I was never good at scheduling a social life for my kids; let’s be honest, I have a hard enough time scheduling my own that’s why I married someone who likes to do that sort of thing.

Moms, the littles will not eat you alive this summer. Hang in there. It only gets better. Promise.

-Courtney

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Dirty Little Secret

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What I’m about to share with you is something I used to not tell anyone. What I’m about to share with you is something I considered shameful for a long time. What I’m about to share with you may lead you to believe I’m a bad mother that must not love her children. What I’m about to share with you may cause you to think less of me. I understand not everyone will agree with me and some of you won’t understand and I’ve decided that’s ok.

Here it is:

I don’t like taking my kids to the park.

Whew. A weight has been lifted.

I’m sure some of you are looking up the number for Child Services so they can come take my kids away from their wretched mother. Many of you are praying for my soul because what I’ve just told you is right up there with hating puppies. Others of you may be staring at your computer screen, blinking, because you don’t understand how anyone could not like the park. It’s ok I do the same thing to the people that tell me they spend hours at the park with their kids and love every minute of it. Blank stares and blinking. Since my kids are older now they don’t request to go to the park very much but when they were little they loved it. Notice I said “they” loved it.

Here are a few reasons I don’t like the park/playground:

  1. It’s hot.
  2. There’s a chance I’m going to have to go down one of those tunnel slides that I can only imagine has a heavy coating of other kids’ urine all over it.
  3. Pushing my kid on the swing will only increase my chances of having to push someone else’s kid on the swing. His mom is nowhere to be found, likely posting about what a fun day she and her son are having at the park.
  4. Being on a seesaw with a kid is basically like doing squats over and over again. Not to mention I feel like an elephant when my kid gets on and nothing happens…I’m still on the ground.
  5. The water fountain never ever works.
  6. Trying to keep a toddler from falling or hurting himself raises my blood pressure to stroke level. (“Honey, no, you can’t go down that way. No, buddy. Budddyyyy. NOOOOOO!!!”)
  7. It’s hot.
  8. Learning to do the monkey bars is hard. After the 27th try, my kids’ legs might as well be tree trunks.
  9. When my kid asks me to watch him go down the slide for the 369th time, I kinda don’t want to.
  10. Never bringing enough water for my kids and now they’re “soooo thirsty”. Refer back to #5.
  11. Trying not to be awkward around other people’s kids so I don’t look like a creeper.
  12. Did I mention it’s hot?

Now, before we get all Judy Judgerson, I feel like it must be said there are things I like to do with my kids. I like to play catch with them, I like to watch movies with them, I like to bake with them (mostly), and I like taking them to Sonic for slushies. I think all of us are wired differently so we’re going to like different things, obviously. Generally speaking I like to let my kids help me bake. Now, if they ask me to play a board game that they don’t really know how to play, I want to go cry in the bathroom. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, and preferences for that matter.

And guess what? Recently, I have come to find out I’m not the only one that doesn’t love the blessed park. It was like coming out of the proverbial closet. “You don’t like the park? Me too!” The power of the “me too” is real guys. There’s less shame when we have a “me too.”

I don’t know which book it’s in but Jon Acuff said something I love:

“Your willingness to be vulnerable gives others the gift of going second.”

So here it is guys. Feel free to go second. Feel free to leave a comment and say that thing that you don’t love to do with your kids. It’s ok. We know you do other awesome things as a mom or a dad. Here’s your chance to say that thing that you feel bad about not liking. And you know what just might happen? You’ll give someone else the opportunity to say “Me too!”

-Courtney

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Happy Mother’s Day!!

I feel like my mom might be a little mortified when she reads this and finds out I’m writing a Mother’s Day post. Sorry, Mom, in the blogging world we write about holidays so you’re going to have to choke back your embarrassment and push through. Or just don’t read on. You’ve been warned…

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(She’s a pretty one don’t you think?)

To say I have the “Best Mom” in the world is so cliché that I think I’ll skip it. Pretty much everybody thinks either their mom is the best or their mom is the worst. You don’t really hear anyone saying my Mom’s ok. Nobody says “I have the most ok mom in the world!” That would be dumb. No. Moms evoke extreme emotion. You either love her or you hate her. (PS If you have a mom that just wasn’t capable of loving you well I’m so sorry. I imagine it’s a really hard thing not to have a good mom or have one that caused you a lot of pain.)

Anyway, back to my Mom. I am so grateful to have a mom that not only taught me to be kind and servant-hearted, she showed me as well. She didn’t just tell me that she loved me; she showed me what it meant to actively love someone. This meant she was a servant. This meant she was a caretaker. This meant she was thoughtful. This meant she was supportive. This meant she told the truth. This meant she was a good listener. This meant she knew when to hold her tongue. These are all things I observed and learned while I was still living with my parents but I know she is still that person today. If you asked her about these things she would deny it because she’s one of the most humble people I know. She’s probably blushing just reading this.

My Mom had 4 kids. We were all 2 years apart and how we didn’t drive her to day drinking or pill popping I’ll never know. I remember after having my third child thinking my mom was either crazy or superhuman to have that many kids so close together. When I ask her about it, all she says is, “I don’t remember much about when ya’ll were little.” Yes, sweet mother, you were blocking it out. The 80’s were probably not your favorite decade and rightfully so. In your life, you sat through literally thousands of your kids’ programs, recitals, ball games, and practices. (I just had a thought. I wonder if this is why we get flat butts as we age. Bleacher butt syndrome. Surely that’s a thing, right?) You survived being a single mom while Dad traveled for work. You survived having a kid that was chronically sick. You survived 4 teenagers. You survived putting your kids through college. You survived the emotional heart attack I gave you by making you a grandmother at 48 years old (Superb planning on God’s part.) The more I think about it, the more certain I am that you must be superhuman. Or you prayed an awful lot, which might be more accurate.

After I had my own kids I wanted to be just like you. I wanted to do it exactly like you did it. You were my standard of what a great mom was supposed to be. I’m sure if I had told you that’s what I was trying to do, you would have tried to steer me another way (so humble, guys). Then I figured out that I couldn’t be you. I just didn’t have it in me. It was a bit devastating but a reminder that God made me to be me. If I could be just like you then you wouldn’t be unique. God uniquely designed you to be exactly who you are and there’s no way I can copy it. When Caitlin gets older she won’t be able to be just like me…oh wait. Let’s be honest, she already knows she doesn’t want to be like me because I’m not “the fun parent.” Better to learn it early I guess. What I love is that you have always wanted me to be the best version of myself. I don’t know that you ever had big dreams or plans for me, which I appreciate because I never felt the pressure to fulfill an unrealistic expectation. I think you just wanted me to be happy and love Jesus. And give you grandbabies (You’re welcome.)

Thank you for loving me for the person I am, not the person you wish I were. Thank you for modeling commitment in your marriage so when I got married I understood what it meant to commit myself to someone else. Thank you for the hours spent cooking uneaten meals because you had picky-eaters for kids (I soooo get this now.) Thank you for making my lunch every day of my school life. Thank you for being the taxi driver for every blessed ball practice and game I ever had. Thank you for sitting countless hours in waiting rooms with me while we waited to see the doctor. Thank you for never acting like you felt sorry for me so I didn’t see myself as a victim. Thank you for teaching me that tears are ok. There are so many more things I could say but I’m already crying so it’s probably in my best interest to stop before I get all blubbery and start thanking you for changing my diapers when I was a baby.

After reading this post over again, I want you to forget what I said before. I do have the best Mom ever.

Love,

Courti-court

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Details, details…

Sometimes it’s easy to get bogged down with life. Right now we are in a full out sprint until school gets out. Between the ball games and practices, school performances, end of year gifts, and just the regular everyday stuff, I’m getting lost in all the busyness. I am so preoccupied with just making it to summer I’m forgetting the importance of the details.

When I was walking to the bus stop this afternoon I just happened to look down at my neighbor’s grass. I wasn’t really looking at anything in particular, it just looked like grass to me.

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When I looked a little harder I noticed these little white flecks everywhere.

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I got down and looked closer and saw that they were the tiniest lavender flowers. They were the cutest flowers I’d ever seen!

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(I promise I don’t have giant man hands in real life. I had to get really close up because the flowers were so small.)

As all of you know from this post, I’m no horticulturist so these tiny flowers may have been weeds but no matter because they were so cute. While I was standing there looking at these precious flowers it dawned on me that God didn’t have to make these little flowers. They were hardly noticeable amongst all the grass. They didn’t seem to serve a purpose other than to be pretty when noticed. It seems He made them for no other reason than to share their beauty with us.

Sometimes when I think about my life, I think of situations or certain seasons as a whole. I forget to recognize God in the details. That kind word, that encouraging voicemail, the people giving my kids’ rides; all those things don’t get the recognition they deserve because I’m too consumed with the big picture. I’m too consumed with the grass to see the purple flowers. God gives us those beautiful details to remind us He’s in it with us. He’s putting His fingerprints on the lens so even though our big picture may be unclear, we can rest assured He’s still there.

In this busy month, don’t miss the little flowers that are speckling your grass. I’m so grateful that God gives us amazing things just because we’re His kids. Let God’s kindness overwhelm you in this race to the finish. Summer is so close we can almost taste it. I think it tastes like a cherry limeade from Sonic but that’s just me.

-Courtney

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