counting the fruit

Counting the fruit is a new little exercise I’ve been doing since I began using the Naptime Diary. This post isn’t a plug for the Naptime Diary, but it is a plug to do this exercise daily. Because, let’s just get it out there, there are some hard days.

Days that end with a child sitting in timeout for throwing his quesadillas on the floor. The quesadillas that you made because he begged for them and you were holding your screaming newborn while making the quesadillas. And then they ended up on the floor to become food for the dog. And while this child is in timeout, you notice a puddle around his feet and see that there’s been another accident that wasn’t even really an accident. A baby’s crying, there’s food on the floor, and other messes on the floor, and it’s life.

But earlier that day, I had been texting with my mom about a trip to MD Anderson that she was excited about to explore a possible new treatment option for melanoma. (If you’re new here, you may not know that my sweet mama has stage IV melanoma.) So I wasn’t focused on my kids. I was focused on my mom which also has an element of selfishness to it because I love my mom and all I want in this world is to be with her every day.

My mom’s appointment didn’t go as she had hoped. (She is still doing the same and feeling well, but there was disappointment because the treatment option she’d hoped for isn’t available to her at this time.) And hearing such disappointment in your mom’s voice will break your heart. Can we just say that cancer sucks? I can get that on a bumper sticker, right?

So the noise in my head of worrying about and praying for my mom who was a thousand miles away in Houston mixed with the noise of my house from the above mentioned scene was just a lot for this postpartum mama’s heart.

And I cried. And I yelled. And I cleaned up messes and then hugged my little boys and apologized for yelling. I couldn’t wait to get in the bed and just sleep for as long as James Walker would let me sleep (which was, blessedly, about 7 hours.)

Yesterday morning, I got up and decided to count the fruit. The fruit? What has God been doing in my life? What is He showing me? What beautiful things are happening in the midst of the cancer storm that my family has prayed through for the past five years? What beautiful things are happening in the sweet chaos of adjusting as a family of five?

We have had five incredible years celebrating life and living life with my mama. Melanoma hasn’t stopped our family from loving each other greatly!

My mama’s courageous story has encouraged others to be their own health advocate. To research and explore and seek second opinions.

We can see God’s hand all over every part of this story. Places they’ve lived. People they’ve encountered. Lives touched. And a reminder from Him every single day that the future is in His hand and He knows the plans He has for my mama’s life.

My big boys adore their baby brother. Even if they fight with each other like crazy, at the end of the day they still have each other’s backs and they adore that sweet baby.

We are surrounded by the most wonderful friends and family who carpool and bring meals and talk through the hard things about cancer and babies and love us so stinking hard. And I’m learning to trust that, accept help, and talk to God first.

Every single day, I know that if I stop and peel the immediate struggle away from my sight, I will see the fruit. I can look a little deeper and see the beautiful, beautiful things that He’s doing in all of our lives. There is purpose in it and there is fruit.

you are enough.

A couple of weeks ago, I sat across the table from a friend who inspires me. Her words are beautiful. She mothers with grace. She teaches with conviction and love and reaches out to friends when they need it most.

We sat at that table together and shared our struggles and our hopes and talked about how excited we were for the upcoming summer season. We talked about dreams and letting go of dreams. And we talked about our mothers and grandmothers, and we wondered what kind of pressure our mothers and grandmothers have felt.

Over the past year, I have been so inspired and stirred by looking at others’ dreams and goals and successes. The books people write. The speaking opportunities people have. The art they make. I see these things and I love them. I cheer and encourage. And then I want that, too!

So then I had all the thoughts that I have to have a thing. She has a thing. And he has a thing. And that person has a thing. I need a thing, obviously.

But also over these months and then time spent with dear friends who love me and see me, I truly believe that I am enough. I am enough without a thing. I don’t have to have a thing. I am most alive when life is simple.

you are enough

Isn’t that a relief? Some people just have it! They’re talented. They’re inspiring. They can speak to the masses.

But I know that I can play it small and I can still use my influence for His glory. Because I am enough. He paid the ultimate price for me, and He sees me, He created me, and because of those reasons alone, I am enough.

I can love my husband and serve my kids and have strong friendships. I can serve my community and love those around me. And then I can cheer for those around me that are doing big things.

As we step forward into this summer season, the people I want to influence are the ones that live in my home and the ones that walk through life with us.

Making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch. Folding six loads of laundry. Driving in the car and listening to “I’m in the Lord’s army.” Catching up with a friend over coffee.  Having “Let it Go” dance parties in the family room after bath time. Sitting at the kitchen table and building Legos and coloring. Date night with my husband. Falling asleep while watching TV with my husband.

It’s the every day. It’s the ordinary. It’s simple.

What I do doesn’t define me. I am who He created me to be. And someday, I may stumble into my dream and things will completely change.

“But we are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that we may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”- 1 Peter 2:9

So let’s quit striving. Let’s stop doubting. And let’s walk in the truth that we are enough.

Hayes is 3!

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Dear Hayes,

We woke you up this morning to sing happy birthday to you, and brought you downstairs to open your presents and have a donut fiesta. You were so excited. It’s like you couldn’t believe that today was actually YOUR birthday. Finally!

We all call you Hayesie. Your classmates, Hudson, and all the teachers, too. So sometimes when we ask you what your name is, you’ll say, “Hayesie.” It’s hilarious, but then sometimes I think we should stop so you don’t grow up thinking your name is Hayesie.

Being your mother is one of the sweetest privileges of my life. You are my sweetheart. You are the little light in this house that is always shining. Always beaming. Always laughing and looking for the party.

When someone is sad, you hug them. When someone is laughing, you tell them how funny they are. You greet everyone you meet with a smile. When we have visitors at the house, you want to take them around and show them your room and your favorite toys. You want everyone to feel as welcome as possible, and I just love that about you.

You’re our little wild card. Sitting still is not your favorite. You love to move and dance and do anything physical. You talk all the time and you don’t have a mean streak in your body. You’re not always obedient, but you are always sweet. I could cry just thinking about the way you hug using your whole body. And the way you grab my face to kiss my cheek. Totally unprompted… just because you’re you and you’re so loving.

If Hudson taught me how to be a mommy, you have taught me how to slow down to enjoy every single day. You’ve reminded me what a gift it is to be a mommy and what a joy it is to be your mommy and Hudson’s mommy. You love to enjoy everything for what it is. We take walks and hold hands. You soak every little thing up.

Even though you’re always running, you’re never actually in a hurry. When we opened your presents this morning, you wanted to stop and savor that first present. You weren’t ready to see what was in the next one. I get all teary thinking about what a good friend you will be and I just know that you’ll be the kid that everyone wants to be around because you treat everyone like they’re special.

I’m so thankful for your sweet little spirit and I’m so thankful for the way you rub off on the rest of us. I look at you and I still see my tiny little baby. Watching you grow up has been tough because I know you’re still really so little, but the time sure does go by quickly.

There aren’t enough words for me to tell you how wonderful you are and how much fun you are. But I will love you, love you, love you for as long as I live, and because of you, I’ll slow down a little bit more every day. You are such a light. Happy birthday, my sweet baby boy!

Love,

Mommy

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a sweet rhythm

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I can’t believe that Hayes will be three in a month and Hudson will be five in two months. And that means that it has been three years since I’ve had a baby. Since I’ve carried a baby to term.

And, y’all. Life is in this super sweet spot. I don’t have tons of stories of meltdowns and tantrums. They cry and there are behavior issues, but the weary mom days are a thing of the past. (I’m almost laughing at myself for writing that. I’m absolutely going to regret writing that.)

They talk their heads off at the grocery store and I think people can hear Hayes from the other side of the store. They love to chase each other and push each other down. Hudson is in a phase where he doesn’t really ask for things, he just immediately jumps to whining and demanding things. But I feel like we’ve got a handle on this. I know that the seasons are fleeting.

Each season, I remind myself that I can fight a bear for a little while. So that bear may be the phase of grocery store parking lot meltdowns over fruit snacks. I’m fighting that bear. And I’m going to win. And I know that the end is near.

But right now, in this sweet spot, I’m loving all of our new freedoms.

We can travel as a family! We’ve always wanted to travel as a family.

We can go to the park on a moment’s notice without disrupting the schedule or sending someone into distress.

We can say “yes” to random requests like donuts for lunch or carriage rides in Charleston because the boys are old enough to handle change in routine.

We can go out to eat after church! I repeat… WE CAN GO OUT TO EAT AFTER CHURCH!

Hudson and Hayes will sit and entertain each other, and laugh and play while I cook dinner. I  can cook dinner and stay relatively stress-free!

I should know better than to write something like this because Hayes is about to enter the “terrible threes” and we’ll potty train him in the next few weeks and move him to a big boy bed. The boat is going to be rocked and I’ll be kicking myself for ever admitting that things had actually gotten easy!

Hudson is about to start kindergarten and we’ll have a whole new adventure and set of issues that come from school work and routine and structure.

But here’s the truth. I want another baby. I want that boat to be rocked with sleepless nights and bottles and baby gear explosion. After last year’s miscarriage, though, I’ve been so afraid to try out of fear of rocking the boat.  I want to rock it and I’m afraid to rock it. I’m afraid of disrupting the sweet spot and the tidy little rhythm we’ve established. And, of course, the fear of losing another baby is the most terrifying thing of all.

I know that as soon as I admit that it’s gotten easy and I’ve got this under control, I’ll quickly remember that I was never actually in control.

Motherhood is constantly changing and I’m just thankful that I can change and adapt with it, and enjoy the adventures in each new season. And every day I’m asking God for clear direction.

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