Sunday, June 12, 2016

The Best Battle I've Ever Fought

In January Pastor Andy taught about
 leaving Midian 
Midian was a place that Moses lived when he fled Egypt and the Pharoh
Moses lived "the good life" in Midian,
but God came to Moses and sent him back to help the people of Egypt.
He had to leave his good comfortable life to help others.
Not in his power, but in Gods

I know what some of you're thinking
"Oh here she goes getting all churchy"
Stick with me...

If you have:
spent any time with me,
are friends with me on Facebook
read any of my blog posts
you know that I am an over sharer.

I'll even share things that are hard to talk about.
The reason?
I figure someone has to be willing to talk about things so others know they aren't alone.

I've shared publicly about
how i bottle fed both my kids
my abortion
my struggle with postpartum depression
my underwear
and my boob size

I also have no desire to
"play church"
I never want to put on a happy Christian face and pretend we have it all together
because believe me
we are a hot frigging mess most of the time.

Side note:
I believe  that if more Christians started sharing the struggles they have while following God we would have more broken people coming to the cross.
So, please, stop just sharing the sing songy christense.

Back to it..
There has been one thing I've been very guarded with.
One thing that not a lot of people know about.
When Pastor Andy taught about Midian I felt like it was time to
tap it out, but fear has held me back.
Fear still holds as I type.
The words flooded into me and they fill my head
every. single. day.
and everyday I try and push them back out.

So here it is...
Jer and I are just a year over what can only be described as
two years of hell 

The details of this hell don't matter, but let me assure you marriage isn't always
blissful and joy filled.
Sometimes it's
tears, yelling, disappointment, sadness, frustration, brokenness and silence.
Deafening silence.

Two nights stick out most to me of the over 600
The first is when I could no longer hold it all together and keep our secret
 I melted down in the ugly cry kind of way
while part of the wolf pack-our closest friends
hugged, loved and comforted me.
They offered endless support to both of us
in a physical, emotional and prayerful way.

The other.. was the most awful
Our kids lay sound asleep in their beds
Jer sitting outside in his truck
Me slumped over the couch in our pitch black house unable to catch my breath while my heart pounded.
The worst night ever.

I had prayed over and over that our marriage would be healed that we would be healed
We were praying and others were praying for us.
We were battling for our marriage but couldn't get past battling each other.

In a moment of desperation
I prayed fire over my marriage
that if God wasn't going to deliver us from this war that He would
wreck it forever.
I meant it from the depths of my soul
I was tired.
He was tired.

I didn't mean it.
I love Jer a whole big bunch.
I was longing for the days that were so love filled.
The days that he would pick me up and twirl me around kissing me so softly.
The days that butterflies filled my tummy when he rumbled down the driveway.
The days that we knew that together we were unstoppable.

 I now understand how some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers..

So, I did the only thing I knew to do at the urging of my forever friend
I went back to where we started.
Pastor Andy was the man who married us;
I called and he answered.
I sat with him and the sweetest lady, Elsie, from New Life church.
I bawled my face off the super attractive ugly swollen faced cry again and poured out my heart.
I was at a point that I couldn't even get the words out to pray
we weren't going to church much
we were fighting a lot.
fights I never wanted my kids to witness
and yes there were times we didn't even sleep in the same house.

Pastor Andy never told me what we need to do, he never said "how is your walk with The Lord" or any of that other condemning stuff some Christians are so good at saying.
He never even suggested we dig into our bibles and he didn't invite us to his church.

We were barely hanging on and the last thing I could do is read or put on a happy face to try a new church.

He simply offered to pray us through this battle and asked if he could have his prayer team do the same.
Elsie held my hand while I cried.
They both kept in contact with me
and Andy reached out to Jer.

The more they prayed and reached out and
no strings attached the more we
wanted to  get back to church, back to our bibles
back to each other.

Our puzzle was in a million pieces and it seemed impossible that it could ever ever get back to
even close to what it once was.
Slowly, we picked up all of our broken pieces and started to put them back together.
I held some pieces for far too long.
It wasn't easy and it wasn't overnight.

I honestly believe we are stronger today than we ever have been.
We battled hard
at each other and for each other.
We both made mistakes, said and did things we wished we never would have.
Things we can never take back and only offer forgiveness for.

I took my marriage vows seriously
better or worse
sickness  and health

Our marriages are always worth fighting for.
Easy? No!
Worth it? Absolutely.

I'll never forget the day everything changed
for the better.
The day we decided to battle together as a team for our family.

Every battle
Every tear
Every disappointment
Every moment of silence
While so hard was so worth it.
It made us realize
We are better together and together we are unstoppable.

Blessed Is Me...

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Dear, Mad

Today you are 10.
Finally, "double digits"
How did that happen so fast for me and yet took so long for you?

We are more than half way to you being an adult!

Daddy cried the day you were born because he loves you so much. 
It was the day our family was completed.
You were born a perfect little bundle with fair skin and dark hair.
Many of the hospital staff mentioned that you were the most beautiful baby they had ever seen. 
In fact Dr. B had reported to his staff how pretty you were that when we walked into your first appointment after leaving the hospital everyone came out to the office lobby to see you.

As you grew so did you hair.
The most beautiful curls I have ever seen on such a little girl.

Your eyes have always been full of sparkle with a smidgen of mischief.

I love getting to watch you find your way, your style and your zest for life.
I miss they days of your zany outfits.
My favorite will always be your swimsuit top over your shirt

and your first recital dress over jeans.

I love the way you adore your dad; 
the way you wrap him up around your finger and bat your eyes at him.
The way daughters love their dads is just different.
When you wrap your arms around his neck and he closes his eyes soaking in your warm embrace I know for a moment time stands still for him.
When you're older you'll know just how much he loves you back 
and that some decisions he has made have been just for you.
He will stand behind you encouraging you, pushing you to do more and be better.
He will forever be on your side.
Someday when you walk through the double doors of the church with your groom waiting on the other end it'll be your daddy standing with you holding your hand tight.
No matter how old you are you'll always be that porcelain skinned dark haired bundle
to him.

I love going shopping for make up and having girls days with you.
When you're finally old enough for real make up
we will make a whole day out of it.
I might even take you to Nordstrom; if you're lucky.

I love that you never back down from a challenge.
Whether it is dancing a solo performance

or showing livestock

 You go full steam for what you want.

I love that you're not afraid to say whats on your mind.
You get that from me.
Some people might call you bossy and let me assure you
that isn't a bad thing!
We are leaders
 front of the pack kind of girls

You are going to change lives my sweet girl
Both with your ambition and your heart.
You love bigger than anyone I know.
Your compassion for others is immeasurable.
I can't wait to see where you go and what you do.
I know it's going to be amazing. 
I'll be your loudest cheerleader.

I love the way you love.
You love outloud.
The way you rock and comfort Rae and Brantley with a soft whisper and a gentle pat on the back never letting it frustrate you even when they are crying.

The way you hold a smaller child's hand as you lead them down to the barn sharing the rules of no running or screaming.

They way you worry when your friends aren't at school because maybe they are sick.
You have such a tender touch and a compassionate heart with people and animals alike.

I love to watch you sleep.
Your long black lashes resting
It makes me wonder..
what will tomorrow bring
a new adventure, a new dream
maybe you'll sew me a pillowcase or create a new outfit
maybe make a new dessert
or slip on your barn boots for a day outside.

I can't wait to see where you'll go
who you'll become and
what you will do every moment in between.

I can promise you this.
I am your biggest fan
I'll always stand up for what is right for you.
You might not always like me, but know that the decisions made are what Daddy and I believe are best at the time.
The teen years might be tough for both of us, but we will make it through.
Daddy and I will catch you every time
We will pick you up when you stumble and we will love you through every single part of your life.

I pray
That you always have a heart for people.
That you see the good in the world.
That you love big and forgive fast.
That you always know that you are the daughter of King Jesus and that He will forever go before you
That you know are fearfully and wonderfully made
desired and cherished.
That you know you're worth far more than rubies

I love you big, my sweet girl.

As Charlotte says in Charlotte's Web
"You are my magnum opus.. my great work"

I hope your tenth year is full of wonder and love.

Blessed Is Me...

Sunday, January 24, 2016

How Project Madalyn Picks Out Her Own Clothes Was Born

A few days ago I tapped out
in which I talked about my 
white flag.

It's when I decided to surrender to the battle that was getting 
The Fancy Farm Girl
dressed for the day.

If you know me even a little you probably know I am
Type A
I'm totally flexible as long as things are done the way I think they should be.
I am a leader some say bossy even intimidating.
I also am passionate about a lot of things.
My daughter looking just right used to be one of them. 
I knew before she was born what kind of clothes she would wear and how she would be
oh so cute everyday in cute little pigtails and matching clothes
complete with shoes and ruffle socks.
I even claimed
"My daughter will NEVER wear clothes that don't match!"
I like things kind of perfect.

Then she turned three and I realized..
She is totally flexible as long as things are done the way she thinks they should be.
she is bossy and
definitely a leader.
 She has eyes that will melt your heart, she has beautiful hair, she loves babies, she loves playing school, 
She is just like me except she likes things perfectly imperfect.

Getting her ready in the morning was a battle most days. 
I would bribe her with jelly beans to get pig tails in her hair.
 I would pick out her clothes she would have a fit because she didn't like what I picked out. 
I would say "you are wearing what I want you to wear"
She would melt down, I would sweat. 
It wouldn't be very much fun.

In 2010
our friends had their lives turned upside down with the death of their 4 year old daughter.
There I was sitting at the memorial celebrating the life of Ashlynn Anderson  
as Pastor Andy read a letter her mom wrote. 
D'ette wrote about Ashlynn and how she would pick out her own clothes everyday sometimes even princess dress and would always be so proud of herself. 
It was as if time stood still and the words replayed over and over in my head as tears streamed down my face.
Proud of herself? 
What a concept in parenting. 
It was on that day that I decided I had to let go of making Madalyn look how I thought she needed to look, let her be proud of herself and to be herself.
She may be like me, but she isn't me.

At first this was super hard! 
She would get dressed and I would cringe.
 I decided as long as she had clean clothes on I would let it ride. 
Then the idea of Project Madalyn Picks Out Her Own Clothes began.
When she had a crazy outfit on I would take her picture and believe me some outfits were rough.
She would get looks, she would gets comments always good and she was always proud of herself.
 I would get eye rolls from disapproving mothers, I would get comments both good and bad and
 I was proud of myself.

Mornings would go smooth.
No more tears, yelling, frustrations or bribes!
She would look in the mirror after getting dressed and say

"I look good!"

I would actually look forward to seeing what she put together
I no longer worried about what other moms would think and when she would get looks and I would get a disapproving eye roll I never felt 
like I needed to explain and say
   "she picks out her own clothes" 
I just smiled at her, grabbed her hand and moved on. 

If you are fighting battles with you kids like these I would encourage you to step back and look at it from a different view. 
Will it matter tomorrow if she wears a

 pink fleece hat  and pink gloves with a black and white checked party dress today? 

Or a swimsuit top over her shirt with jeans?
 This was a favorite she also paired with cowboy boots.

 Or her recital dress and a crown with her jeans to church?

Or this? Oh my what is this???

Or these shorts that she paired with a lot of different leggings
That shirt became one of her favorites.

Or that she is wearing a skirt as a shirt!

Or when she wears bracelets on her bicep and those boots are covered in silver glitter.

 Sometimes she would even put things together I wish I had thought of!
 I mean this girl has some style!

It doesn't matter one single bit and if it wasn't for the pictures I took I wouldn't even remember most of her outfits.
The lessons we teach our kids can be profound in letting them learn to make choices, feeling proud of themselves
 and letting them know we love them regardless of what they wear.

I would never had expected this lesson from a  4 year old princess who loved purple and dancing on her toes and today is "eating cookies for breakfast with Jesus"
As Madalyn would say.

Blessed Is Me...

Thursday, January 21, 2016

I Promise You

Life is fleeting
It changes faster than we expect and our kids go from tender little soft skinned bundles of chubby deliciousness
to sassy mouthed know-it-all 
People with thoughts and opinions.
I wish I could go back and have a redo on some of the squishy moments I wished away.

Thankfully our life has little lives in it again.
Little lives that we get to love and snuggle and rock to sleep.
We get to dance with them when they cry.
We get to kiss them all over their faces; for now.

It made me realize things that I didn't enjoy as a mom.
I couldn't wait for them to end.
The sleepless nights
The diapers
The lack of being able to hold a bottle or feed themselves.
I missed so so much.

So, new moms I have some promises for you.

I promise you that the opinion of the internet means nothing.
I know it is overwhelming
I know it makes you feel inadequate sometimes it does me too.
There is much to pour through.
Filter most of it out.
Nobody knows your baby like you do.

I promise you 
that the nights you spend rocking a crying baby wont last forever and when those nights are gone you'll wonder how you ever did it.
I had a baby who cried a lot and he didn't sleep through the night until he was well over one.
I wished he would have and now I wish I could have one more night rocking him while he drank his bottle. 
I wish I hadn't wished it away.

I promise you 
that whether you breast or bottle feed they will be ok.
You'll be ok too.

I promise you
 that they'll want to secretly hold your hand while they fall asleep even when they are 11.

I promise you
 that all mothers feel like they are failing.
You aren't.

I promise 
when they tell you that "you're lousy parents" 
That they really mean they love you.

I promise you
 that the mess in the house doesn't matter.
The sugar and flour spread from the kitchen counter to the floor with eggs whites on the wall will create smiles and memories.
The dishes piled high aren't going anywhere.
The baskets of laundry can wait.
Sit. Read. Play. Rock.

I promise you 
that you can dress you babies in the cutest matchy matchy dresses with tights and ruffle butts and patent leather shoes in hopes that they will forever want to be fancy and frilly and then 
they will want to pick out their own clothes.
You may battle, but eventually you'll raise your white flag and she'll be wearing a swimsuit top over her shirt with jeans and cowgirl boots.
And, it'll be ok even though fellow mothers will look down their nose at you.
Smile and wave and grab your little girls hand.

I promise you
there is no such thing as too many people that love and cherish your kids.

I promise you
they will wreck you physically, mentally and emotionally
and you'll be better for it.
It's a love you have never felt
selfless love
 an ache deep in your belly when you miss them 
and you wont even care that your boobs hang low.
Ok you might, but it'll be worth it.

I promise you 
before you know it
your baby will be wearing size 7 mens shoes and wearing deodorant or heading into the double digits with the hair you've always dreamed of.
They'll still want you to tuck them in tight and kiss them goodnight, but never kiss them in front of their friends.

I promise you
You're doing better than you think.
Enjoy every single moment.
They wont be little very long.

Blessed Is Me...

Sunday, January 3, 2016

From My Grandmas Kitchen

If you've spent any time with me you probably know how much I cherished my
To me she was a gem above all gems.
A tough as nails shell with a heart of gold
an embrace that you would melt into.
 We may be a little bit alike.

This past weekend I was sorting through her recipe box and came across her 
famous recipe for
sourdough pancakes.

Memories flooded back
to the days I would go and
spend the night with her in Knappa at the old Johnson farmhouse.
After dinner she would fill up a giant bath of bubbles
and set out a long nightgown for me to slip on afterwards.
At bedtime I would get nestled under the heavy quilt that covered the old cast iron bed frame in the bedroom next to the parlor.
She would snuggle me in tight and kiss me goodnight.

When morning came she would already be in the kitchen getting breakfast going.
I never remember eating a bowl of cold cereal at her house.
The smell of bacon would fill the old house.
Grandpa Cliff would usually already be outside feeding the cows, but he would be back in time for breakfast.
She would pull up a stool and let me beat the egg whites as she prepared the pancake batter.
She would always let me help.
This is something I am terrible at as I like cooking alone.
 I really need to work on letting the kiddos come alongside me!

After sorting through her recipes last Friday I made plans that
today, Sunday, I would try my hand at her sourdough pancakes.

I found a recipe for sourdough starter on a homesteader page I follow on Facebook.
1 cup flour
1 cup water heated to 90 degrees
1/8 teaspoon yeast
mix with wooden or plastic utensil.
I used a mason jar and a wooden spoon handle and tucked it in the fridge.

Today when I pulled out the recipe to get started I realized I was supposed to start it last night.
Well, because I am impatient I tried it anyways and it worked 
Next time I will do it the correct way.

Mix the night before
2 cups flour
2 cups milk
7 tbsp of starter -use plastic not metal measuring-
Let stand overnight- I assume on the counter

Next morning return 7 tbsp back to starter mix, cover and put back in the fridge.

Separate 4 eggs and beat whites until stiff peaks
 Stiff peaks means when you take the beater out the peak doesn't bend at the top

Combine in the bowl of flour, milk, starter
4 yolks
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
3 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp oil
3 tbsp sugar
wisk together then
fold in egg whites leaving chunks.

When you pour the batter on the hot griddle those chunks rise to the top

and when you flip them over the puff to about 1" thick!

Grandma Ethel used to serve with a bowl of white sugar for sprinkling so that is what I topped them with.

I taste tested them before I set them out for breakfast and when they crossed my lips
it got me in the feels
The lump in my throat kind of
They tasted just how I remembered...
It's probably been since I was 12 that I had these delicious cakes of goodness!
 27 years later.

The kids gobbled them up and Jer even ate more than he usually does and he isn't a big pancake fan.
The Farm Manager even made a comment tonight about how good they were.

I decided on January 1st after sorting through her recipe box  that I am going to write a book.
My first will be a compilation of my grandma's recipes with stories of us.
This means I am going to get to spend some time in the kitchen recreating all those wonderful and sometimes odd recipes that she loved enough to scroll onto a notecard.
I will also be learning how to let little hands help in the kitchen so that they have memories that creep in unexpectedly and hopefully flood their hearts like mine has been today.
I have the stool ready.

Blessed Is Me...

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Dear Bottle Feeding Momma,

I get you.
You are a great mom!

Now, if you’re on social media you may have noticed so many post about
Breast Is Best
Normalize Breast Feeding
Boob hats.
Breastfeeding  sit ins
How women who breastfeed are warriors
Women feeding their babies with blankets on their own head
How is natural and wonderful and amazing and such a bonding experience.

Not for all of us and quite frankly I am sick of seeing the posts about it.
Because it just exacerbates the mommy wars.
It makes us bottle feeding moms feel just like those breast feeding moms claim to feel.
As moms we put so much pressure on ourselves and we don’t need other moms shoving their breasts in our face.
We don’t.
We are all warriors.
Motherhood makes you a warrior.

Here is how breastfeeding worked out for me.
It was awful and heartbreaking and I hated every single minute of it.
So did my kids.

The Farm Manager cried so much.
Like 4 hours one night in the hospital.
He couldn’t latch on and if by some miracle he did latch on nothing came out.
Keep trying they said.
It’s so important for your baby they told me.
Here use this broken off syringe to attach to your nipple and suction it until it feels like it will rip your skin open both by jagged edges and by suction.
Then drops, but not enough to sustain him for any period of time
We went home.

I kept trying
He kept crying.

I pumped every two hours around the clock without fail.
I took brewers grain. 15 capsules a day.
More advice.
I would pump more.

It would go like this.
Set up pump, get cleaned catch bottles, connect tubes, turn on.
Rrrrr rrrrr rrrrr
The pump would hum
drip drip drip
For 30 minutes.
Less than an ounce.
My body wasn’t doing what came naturally.
I had no milk.
My baby was only weeks old and I already had failed him.

If I was a cow I would be sent to the feedlot.

2 hours later I would do it again.
Meanwhile, I would feed The Farm Manager what I pumped plus 3 oz of formula.
He was hungry ALL THE TIME.
He cried a lot.
I cried a lot.

When Jer would leave for work I would be pumping, when he came home for lunch, when he came home from work.
If he woke up in the middle of the night.
Each time I would pump less than an ounce.
One time I set the bottle of pumped milk with no lid on the counter while I got myself back together I turned
And knocked it right off the counter.
I cried.

Another time I called Jer at work bawling begging him to come home because I couldn’t feed my own baby.

I know I know,
“how could a women with such large breasts have no milk”
Because from the looks of me I could nurse a small country right?
Nope, I can’t.
I can’t even sustain one single baby.
Not for lack of trying.

After two weeks of this I gave up and switched to formula full time.
What a relief!
It changed everything.
My baby cried less once we figured out which formula worked best for him.
Costco brand soy formula.
That's right.
Generic formula!

We could leave the house!
No longer would the whir of the breast pump fill our house for hours a day.

Fast forward a few months.
I was at a candle party.
A room full of moms one of them nursing and my baby was hungry.
I went to feed him a bottle in the kitchen.
I was so ashamed.
How could I feed my baby a bottle in plain sight.
These moms would know I failed my child.

I didn’t fail him.
I didn’t
Jer and I made the decision that best suited OUR family.
A happy full tummied boy
Bottle or not
Things didn’t go much different with The Fancy Farm Girl either other than she knew how to latch on.
No milk though.
She got generic formula too.

Our kids are healthy and no more of a germ factory than any other kid.
They are bonded to me like rubber cement.
Sometimes I feel like they would climb back inside if I would let them!

I don’t think being bottle fed has wrecked them for life and in no way does it mean I failed as a mother.
Believe me when I say you will often feel like you’ve failed them for one reason or another, but bottle feeding doesn’t equal failure.
They may end up in therapy because of the things we make them do like stack wood, scoop poop, pay for their own things, don't let them have cell phones and occasionally hand washing a sink full of dishes, but not because their nourishment came through a rubber nipple.

We mothers can be on the same team!
We can be supportive and realize there is more than one right way to do things
and we can come to a truce! 
I wont shove my kids bottle in your face
 and you wont
shove your breast in mine.

Breast might be best for some and bottles for others, but  think we can all agree that fed babies are best.

Blessed Is Me..

Monday, December 14, 2015

It's My Highlight Reel

I love meme's.
Seriously, whoever invented those is a genius.
So hilarious 
Except one.
There is one I loathe.
It pops up in my news feed sometimes and I hate it everytime.

Wait. What?
Pretend or just share the highlights?

I just share-or overshare- the highlights of my life.

Do people really want to know the real life?
Like the dirt.
Like the hard heavy stuff.

This is what I think some of those posts would read like. 
Some of these are even what my actual real life moments have been in the last two years. 
I'll let you decide which ones are mine and which ones are made up.

Facebook "What's on your mind?"
"I'm worried that there is more month at the end of my money and I'm not sure I will make it to pay day"

Facebook "What's on your mind?"
"My marriage is on the brink of destruction"

Facebook "What's on your mind?"
"I've been sitting here staring at this bottle of pills and things would be so much easier if I just swallowed all of them. Maybe I'll try again tomorrow"

Facebook "What's on your mind?"
"I'm gay and my parents will disown me if I tell them"

Facebook "What's on your mind?"
"I wonder where my husband is. Is he dead in a ditch?"

Facebook "What's on your mind?"
"I laid on my bathroom floor last night drenched in sweat with a dry mouth heart pounding gripped with anxiety. I felt out of control and today I'm exhausted, but my kids need me to care for them."

Facebook "What's on your mind?"
"As the hot water pounded against my skin and my tears wash down the drain I wonder if she thinks about me as much as I think about her."

Facebook "What's on your mind?"
"I drank my way through a 5th of whiskey every day this week because life is too hard to deal with. I don't want to, but I've become an addict."

I mean is this really what people want to read? 
Do they want to see the pictures of what this looks like or do they just want to enjoy the highlights?
Do people care that this is real life enough to reach out to love someone?

Oh and if this is really what people shared then there would be the meme about 
where your dirty laundry goes.
You know. 
Not on Facebook.

Can we all just agree that Facebook, Instagram and wherever else we share the parts of our lives
are the highlights.
The best parts.
The good stuff and just
enjoy it.

Blessed Is Me...