The greatness of being a mother

There have been many titles I have been given over the years. But none mean more to me than Mother. Mother is the crown on my head. It is my most sacred duty. It is my purpose when I wake up in the morning. It is my charge throughout the day, and as I kiss sleepy heads and soft cheeks at nighttime I am once again reminded that it is a sacred honor to be entrusted with small, innocent human beings.

Recently, I was praying and reading my Bible. I was asking God for direction for my life. The words I heard were simple and profound, “Be a mother. Be the best mother you can be.”

So often I get caught up.

Caught up with career development and what courses I can take to better myself.

Caught up with myself. I want a certain lifestyle that it is centered around my wants and desires and it can be so selfish.

Caught up with people and pleasing others.

Caught up that old and too familiar line of “too busy”.

Caught up with over commitment. Saying yes to everything and everyone else all the while saying no to my family.

Caught up with social media. If I am not careful, hours are wasted on nothing! Nothing! Nothing except mindless scrolling and searching, time that I will never get back.

Be a mother. Be the best mother you can be. It really is so simple. But it takes intention and effort to say enough to those things which take from my family and do not bless my family. It takes intention and effort to say yes to my little people and show up (even if I do not always want to).

I am a goal setter. I think that may be a byproduct of being a writer and loving to write. I am making it my personal goal for 2020 to spend my time and energy investing into my children. I want to go the extra mile to show up for them, to cheer them on, to help them grow and to be there when they need to make tough decisions. Someday, I want them to look back and see how much I loved them by how much I showed up and cheered them on in life. When they are teenagers and adults, I want them to hear my voice in their heads, telling them they are loved, beautiful, incredible and special. I want to watch my baby ducks grow and learn to fly. And when they fall, I want to be there to help them realize that they are strong and that they can get back up again and again.

No mother decides one day to be mediocre; no one makes it their personal goal to live half hearted or to show up some of the time. No, we make those decisions unintentionally when we do not declare it out loud about the kind of mothers we want to be. So I challenge you, write it down and say it out loud everyday. Declare that you will not be mediocre, declare that you will be spectacular as a mother. Declare that you will show up and inspire your children! Declare your love for them, for they need to hear it repeatedly in words and actions. And do not stop there. Affirm them. Affirm your children. Declare over them that they are strong, worthy, loved and brave. Build them up so when they are knocked down, they hear your voice telling them that they can get back up again because they know their worth.

Our words hold so much power. They literally can change the course of our children’s lives. But here is the catch, you have to say them out loud You cannot just think them. You may think your children know how you feel about them, but they don’t. They need to be told and retold about how incredible they are if they will truly believe it. Good intentions do not help our children, not at all.

So put your phone down, maybe even put it away and turn your volume off and just show up for them. Tell them 3 positive things everyday. Build them up, build up their worth. And watch their face as you tell them how you believe in them. It is truly a humbling experience to watch little faces light up with realization that they are worthy, and special. I am not talking compliments, I am speaking about core and foundational truths that build into their belief about who they are.

They will take your voice and carry it with them into the world, so make your words worth it.

Our beautiful daughters.

What if I can't?

Have you ever had that goal that you dreamed of and worked hard towards?

Have you ever had a goal that made you feel alive when you were pursuing it?

Have you ever had that belief that you could accomplish anything if you set your mind to it and worked relentlessly on it?

I have.

But today I look at my dream with hurt and loss of hope. Feelings of despair have crossed my once vibrant and joyful mindset. And now I am asking myself a very different question.

Now I am asking myself, what if I can’t?

The loss of a dream can be a very painful experience. You build hopes and wishes; feelings become attached to your dream. Am I OK with letting go of my dream? Does that make me a failure?

I like certainty and absolutes. They are solid. There is no faith needed. You can rest on the foundation that certainty and absolutes provide. It is more comfortable to rest here then to pursue the unknown. I think that is why we get comfortable. So when my dream is surrounded by the clouds of doubt, I want to sit down and wallow in my feelings rather than pursue and forge forward into unknown territory.

I love fitness. I have since I was a young teenager. When I am active, I am most alive. My soul lights up. My heart is vibrant. It is truly my joyful place. Gym was always my favorite class as a girl. As young at 13, I would get up before my whole family was awake, I would go outside and run. It was my time and my space that was all my own. I have always loved to be active. I would play every sport I was allowed and join every team. Twelve years ago, I was injured at work. In unsafe working conditions, I injured my back and my life has forever been altered. Most days I am in pain. I live with low grade pain, it has become a part of my life. Some days are much worse than others, and some days are great but not a day goes by where I am not affected by it.

I have always believed that if you try hard enough, you can accomplish anything. But as I sit here and write I am no longer sure of that. My belief is being challenged. I thought if I worked hard enough, I could overcome this back injury and be strong again. I fully and truly believed that I could overcome it. But weeks, months, years of exercise, stretching, yoga, massage, chiropractors, acupuncture, doctors, tests, meds and countless exercise regimes, I am at a cross road. I am losing faith that I can overcome this. I think for the first time ever, I need to be OK to walk away from my dream. That I need to allow myself space and freedom to let go; and to embrace my weakness; and I hate weakness. I hate weakness in myself. So to allow myself to embrace my own weakness shatters my own foundation.

Maybe its time to build a new foundation.

I don’t have the answers. Maybe that is also something that I need to accept. This is new territory for me. There is an absolute that I know for sure. It’s the fact that God is good. In my weakness and failure, He is still good. In my weakness, He is still strong and faithful. When the pain is really bad, my God is still really good. And I will praise God in both the good days and the hardest days.

Hebrews 6:19 “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” As life changes, and situations arise that are out of my control, I know who anchors my soul. And that foundational truth never changes.

Grace

I write about what makes me uncomfortable.  I write about what challenges me as a woman, a wife, a Christian, a neighbor, and a friend.  I like to include it all. There are far too many voices out in this world, that smooth over how hard life really is at times.  I have always felt that when I speak on my challenges and struggles, others feel permission to say, “me too, and I have been struggling too.” 

Push down the walls.  They are not helping you.  They do keep you hidden, they may hide your hurt and your struggles, but they also hide your beauty and your heart.  And often, they prevent healing.

It is scary being brave and it is vulnerable to speak on your weaknesses.  But who would I be if I just kept it all in?  God has given me a voice, and I choose to use my voice for Him.

I am no saint.  Let me say that loud and clear.  I am a woman who chooses to follow Jesus, and I am grateful every day that He loves me knowing all my weaknesses and struggles and temptations, and that He has grace for me every time I mess up. There was once a time in my life where I thought I would achieve this place in adulthood, where temptation and weakness no longer bother me.  I have since realized that humans will always have weakness, and that is why we need Jesus and his grace.

I yell.  And I hate that I yell when I am frustrated and angry.  Sometimes it is more of a very loud voice and sometimes it is full blown yelling.  I have been working on my anger since I was in my young twenties.  Now almost in mid-thirties, I have realized that this may be an area in my life that I will always have to work on and work to control.  This is where I cling to the verse, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”-2 Corinthians 12:9.  I believe this is the point!  If I could master all my weaknesses on my own, I would not need God in my life. But I do need God, and I need Him daily.

“The fact that God’s power is displayed in our weaknesses should give us courage and hope.  As we recognize our limitations, we will depend more on God for our effectiveness rather than our own energy, effort or talent.  Our limitations not only help develop Christian character but also deepen our worship, because in admitting our weaknesses, we affirm God’s strength.”1

I will continue to strive to be the woman God wants me to be.  I try daily to read my Bible.  Sometimes it is a few verses and sometimes it is a few chapters.  Some days I am deeply inspired, and some days I simply show up because I have chosen that my relationship with God is worth it, whether or not I feel like it in that moment.

When I mess up, I will continue to seek God’s grace and forgiveness.  And if that means apologizing to the people in my life be it family, friends, coworkers or customer service workers then I will.  I want my community to see that humility is as important as strength.  Recognizing when I have made a mistake, and humbling myself and choosing to go and apologize and ask forgiveness. 

To me, this is strength. It is way easier to be proud and ignore. It takes integrity and strength to admit when you have messed up, made a mistake, and hurt someone.

References:

1- NLT application study Bible, pg. 1849, 1996.

Ten years a mother!

Ten years ago I became a mother for the first time.

Ten years ago life as I knew it turned upside down and inside out and then flipped a few more times when we welcomed our first daughter home from the hospital.  I was thrust into a new role.  Nothing was the same. Life took on a new shape. 

My identity changed.  I was a nurse on a surgical and obstetrical unit. I was finally settling into my career.  I had told myself that I would continue on in my education and career.  I would settle into my permanent position on my unit.  And I was happy and content with my decision.

Three days later, my period was late and with great shock, my pregnancy test showed a positive result.  I remember the moment.  I went white and all the colour drained out of me, then it all rose back up and I became flushed and hot.  My husband and I hadn’t quite been married for 4 months yet.  He was still finishing his university degree and we had grand plans to travel the world starting with the trip to Europe we were planning.

My husband saw my face, I was about to burst into tears, nothing about this was planned.  I was shocked.  I had not planned on becoming a mother.   Dreaming of children and motherhood had not ever crossed my mind.  I had recently recovered from a two year eating disorder and was finally enjoying a happy, normal life.  And I loved my life.  I loved my job and cooking for my husband and having a home to take care of.  I was so happy, this was not a part of the plan.  Matt took me in his arms and told me everything was going to be Ok.  He hugged and held me and I cried. 

I cried because I was shocked and caught off guard.  I cried because I did not know anything about children and I did not feel ready for this. I cried because this meant no Europe trip.  I cried because I was so happy with my life the way it was, and I did not want change.  I had not seen this coming.

By the next evening, my mind and heart started to change.  I was going to be a mother.  I remember my husband and I looking at each other and this new excitement bubbling up and we were smiling at each other. 

Matt was going to be a father.

I was going to be a mother.

From that moment on, life and plans took a whole new direction; and it was good.

We welcomed our daughter Summer home in October 2009.  Matt cried when he saw Summer for the first time, and my heart swelled with so much love and appreciation for my husband and our new little family.

That moment was almost ten years ago today.  Today my daughter nervously and excitedly took the bus to middle school, starting a new adventure both for her and for me and for her younger sisters.

I could never have foreseen how much motherhood would change me, and change me for the better.  Sitting here and reflecting on my past ten years is almost overwhelming and yet beautiful.  The largest theme is how I went from living for myself to living for my family.  Every day is about getting them up and dressed and fed; making sure they are clean and have clean clothes.  Making sure their needs are being met, physically, emotionally and spiritually; instilling love and morals and values into their hearts and lives.  From cleaning up after them, to teaching them to clean up after themselves, teaching them to cook and bake, teaching them to love others around them as Jesus calls us to love others.  The moment I found out I was pregnant I was called to the awe-inspiring yet relentless journey of motherhood.

I once read a quote from an unknown source, “Echoes of your voice will be heard through all eternity.”  This quote has always stayed with me.  The words I speak over my children, they will one day speak to their children and to their children and to those children.  Your words have power.  Today is my first time in ten years that I will not have children at home with me.  My oldest entered middle school, my middle daughter entered grade three and my baby entered grade one. 

Knowing my words have power in my daughters’ lives, I spoke prayers of blessing over each of them separately last night and this morning.  Before my Lord and Saviour, I surrendered each of my daughters into His capable hands for this school year.  I prayed blessings of courage and love, and acceptance and kindness and safety over them.  I affirmed each of my daughters that they are loved by God and loved by their father and me.  I affirmed that they are beautiful on the inside and on the outside, that they are strong and that no matter where they go, God goes with them.  I affirmed that no matter how much they are afraid, God will be beside them and they can pray to him for strength and courage.

As mothers, we can speak love and courage and kindness into our children.  As a believer, I will speak God’s blessing and promises over my children.

What anchors you?

Photo by Manuel Keusch on Pexels.com

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” Hebrews 6:19

What anchors you?

One thing is certain, we need an anchor.

Life is so uncertain.  One moment life is figured out and definite; the next moment you are stumbling in the dark.

What is your anchor?

I have lived my life without an anchor.  Well I should back up a bit.  I have been raised knowing God as my Lord and Saviour.  My faith was sure.  I knew who I was and where I was going.  I had an anchor in my life, The Anchor.

But then rough waters came.  I was in college and I no longer wanted an anchor.  I wanted freedom.  Freedom from rules, freedom from the restrictions my anchor gave me.  I hated being tied down.  I had been raised knowing the security of my Anchor.  But I did not want to be the good girl anymore.  I wanted to be the fun girl.  I wanted to live life on my own terms. No more rules.  No more restrictions.

I look back with such clarity on this moment.  I made a decision.  This was not a slow fade away from my faith.  This was an “I am done with my faith” moment.   I cut the rope that attached me to my anchor, the anchor being Christ.

I told God I was done.  If this was Christian living, I wanted no part of it.  I was sitting in my office when I made the decision.  But in my mind, I envision myself on a boat that is anchored.  And I take a knife and I cut the rope and I leave the anchor behind.  I immediately start to drift away, and I smile because I think I am free.

In that moment, I picture the face of Jesus.  He is sad.  But He lets me go; because Jesus never forces us to love Him or choose Him.  It is our choice.  He desires a relationship with us, but we have to choose that.

Cutting free of my anchor was the worst decision I ever made.  I drifted out to deep sea and faced the roughest waters. My life spiraled downward.  I made such poor decisions.  And before I knew it, I felt like I was drowning; drowning in regret and shame and lies. My journey which had started so hopeful was now dark and lonely and hopelessly lost.  My addiction to bulimia led me to lie to everyone I knew and hide from the ones I trusted and loved because I lived in shame.   I coped with my loneliness by partying.  But when the music faded and the party was over, I was still alone and lost, drifting in open waters.

Photo by Kira Schwarz on Pexels.com

I finally saw my life for what it was.  I saw where my decision had led me.  I was not freeIt was a lie.  I was addicted to a life I hated and I needed help.  I needed my Anchor.

On my knees, alone I asked Jesus to help me. 

It was the first time I had prayed in over a year and a half.

I experienced God’s grace and forgiveness in a way I had never before.  I did not deserve it.  I chose to leave.  I chose to do life my own way.  I chose the decisions that made me happy, instead of what I knew to be right and wrong.  And even with all of that, God forgave me.  The feeling was like nothing I had ever experienced before.  My life was burdened with so much regret.  When I asked God to forgive me, with a heart that was in anguish, I felt the heavy weight of so much regret and shame lift and I was free.

Freedom was not leaving the anchor.  Freedom was choosing the Anchor.

So my deep love and respect for anchors continues.  It is my reminder that Christ is my Anchor.  He anchors my life, my marriage, my parenting.  He anchors my decisions.  When I start to drift, my anchor stops me and I do not drift out to open waters, but I remain firmly attached to the God who loves me deeply and strongly.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

What 33 taught me

As I turn a year older today, I am taking a moment to reflect on this past year. When I stop and really look back, I can see the challenges and the growth.

What 33 taught me:

You have to choose the life you want.

That doesn’t mean we get to choose all the circumstances life throws at us, but we do get to choose our actions and our thoughts. We get to choose what we spend our time and energy on. We get the choice to make our life better or worse by the actions we choose.

We get the choice to forgive and forget and move on.

We get the choice to wake up and show up.

One thing my job is continuously reminding me is that time is precious. Our days are precious. We take them for granted. Every day that we get is a gift.

Our thoughts take our energy and time. Make sure your thoughts are worth it; and if they aren’t, you have the power to change them.

My girls asked me recently what my motto was. I thought about it, and one that came to mind, one I write about often is:

“If it’s worth it, it’s not easy.”

Change is hard, growth is hard, overcoming addictions and bad habits are hard, working on relationships can be very hard, even pursing good, positive change can be hard when our default is to take the path of least resistance. The good and the great things do not come easy.

33 has been a year of personal growth and learning. I thank God for it, I thank Him for seeing me through it and I look forward to seeing what 34 has in store for me. Here’s to many more strong cups of coffee and days well spent!

Love, Sarah

Real

As I sit here and write, I think about lifestyle blogs, and fitness blogs. Catchy and trendy, sometimes I think about writing about those topics. Heck I even think about cooking blogs. That one tempts me less, even though I can endlessly watch those videos where they are quickly pouring ingredients in a bowl and voila! A fabulous meal or delectable dessert. How many people ACTUALLY make the recipes they watch?

I think about these blogs, and I know writing about them would be simpler, way less vulnerable. Today’s hot outfit or the perfect chest and triceps workout is for sure easier to talk about than ones personal failures as a woman and mother.

But this is not the narrative I have chosen. I have done this with intention. The most moving and life challenging pieces I have read, are not trendy, but rather they are raw and real. They do not inspire me to want to travel to an up and coming destination. They have inspired me to be a better human. They have reminded me that weakness is real; that I will fail and yet I will succeed. I will fall but I do not have to stay down. That’s it’s Ok to not be Ok every second of the day. They have given me permission to put the walls down and work on being seen for who I am and as I am.

This is why I write about authenticity. And Faith. There is enough fake in our world. No one needs to be told 5 ways to a perfect body (direct internal transition is “5 more ways that I will never measure up”). We need to be told 5 ways I am enough. We need to be reminded that we are not perfect, that we do not need to have it all together, that perfectly edited social media pictures do not show real life! That it is ok to take a breath and cry. Heck ugly cry! It feels so much better when we let our guard down and be who we were meant to be.

Real.

Authentic.

Unedited.

Cheers to the women who have gone before me and given me permission to be real. I have gladly taken the torch and will pass it on.