Walmart People

I just realized I haven’t written a post in a year. What? How?

Like could I not find the time to write one simple blog post? What was I busy doing? Washing my hair? No. Going out to fancy dinners? No. Enjoying a vacation on a white sandy beach where I couldn’t be bothered? No.

So what on earth have I been doing for A YEAR? *eye roll*

Well, the other day I was in Target and the previous customer was having a conversation with the cashier about Walmart people. You know the people. Pajamas on, dignity off. They were talking about how people at Walmart are a mess while people at Target at least show up looking decent. They were laughing and describing these said Walmart people, and then it hit me. I looked down to see an oversized sweatshirt, leggings (as pants) and nikes, accompanied by unwashed hair and last night’s makeup (or maybe last week’s?). They were talking about me. I was a Walmart person trying to fit in at Target. I bowed my head, started laughing, and made my Walmart person exit.

So what have I been doing for a year? Probably learning how to be a Walmart person.

Sometimes I think I don’t even have standards anymore. I see Yoga mom out there looking all hot and I think, should I be Yoga mom? Yoga mom has standards. Her legs have standards too.

But nope, I’m just out here being the person the cashier at Target laughs about. I’m just washing dishes or doing laundry when I could be getting myself presentable. I’m just finding another place in my house where I can store laundry in attempts to not fold it and put it away. I’m just a mom trying to raise two little humans to be great people despite the fact that I feed them frozen pizza and macaroni and cheese. You can find me changing diapers or waiting at the grocery pickup location hoping I don’t have to get out of the vehicle. I spend my days asking my toddler if she went poo-poo or pee-pee. I’m just out here praying both my kids nap at the same time at some point so I can sit in silence for a second. I’m just a mom who loves her kids but also loves bedtime.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that raising little people is hard. Really hard. But that’s what I’ve been up to this past year. Learning how to be a mom of two humans, plus a wife to my husband. Seems simple enough, right? Maybe I’ll figure it out soon, maybe not.

But hey, maybe by next year I will have upgraded to a Target person. Possibilities are endless ya know.

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go home & love your family.

When asked how to promote world peace, Mother Teresa responded, “Go home and love your family.”

In a busy world it’s easy to forget such simplicity. We get caught up in to-do lists that need to be checked off, work that needs to get done, errands that need to be ran, and let’s be honest – watching Netflix on the regular. We try and solve the world’s problems with presidential debates and organizations that promise change. Don’t get me wrong, these things are all extremely important (yes, Netflix included), but only if we start at home first. Having a family that knows they are loved and a priority can solve a lot of the world’s problems preventatively instead of as a reaction. Instead of neglecting the roles we play in our families, we need to embrace them for what they are.

Today it isn’t always looked at as the highest honor to sit at home and just love your children. Our society wants us doing more, being more. It isn’t always enough to change diapers and do laundry. Somehow the world wants us also starting a nonprofit or selling something trendy online. I can say from experience that staying at home with your children can seem like a whole lot of nothing at times. It sure can seem like changing another diaper or making another meal isn’t enough. Too often it can create feelings of doubt in our souls that because we are not doing enough, we are not enough. I used to always laugh when a stay at home mom would say her “job” was “hard.” I would dream in my mind how nice that “hard job” must be. Sipping coffee, taking cute strolls with that adorable baby outside, going to Target every day. Sounds like a dream job to me.

Then I became a stay at home mom. I quickly realized I had to chug my coffee if I wanted to get some (had to get some) before my toddler was trying to grab it out of my hands and pour it on the floor. Then I learned that those cute strolls outside were really moments of sanity from a screaming or crying child that needed a little environment change. I also learned that going to Target really was a mom thing, but only because it may be the only time you get out of the house in a week, and bonus, I’ve learned how to distract my toddler with any means necessary to at least make it around the store without a meltdown (sometimes).

Becoming a mother has changed my world more drastically than I could have imagined. Every day is a sacrifice to make sure my family has everything they need and they feel loved and cared for. Sometimes, most of the time, all this means is that there is another meal to eat, another diaper changed and another load of laundry done. These things may seem insignificant but they can change the world. Jesus changed the world by laying down His life for others and calls us to do the same daily. This is what parenthood is all about – laying down your own desires and sacrificing daily to ensure a better life for your family. Feeding the hungry kids at home. Loving the crying baby at 3:00am when all you want to do is sleep. Taking the time to teach your kids how to be kind and how to love. We need parents that take the time to do the small things because they will make a big difference in the end.

If we slow down and take the time to raise children who are nurtured and loved, the world would be a different place to live in. Would it be easier not to parent at times? Yes. Would it be easier to continue to stay busy so that people could see my contribution to the world? Absolutely.

But sometimes you need to just go home and love your family.

what I wish someone would have told me

I was thinking about all of the things that I wish someone would have told me along the way in life to help life be a little easier, a little smoother of a ride. I was thinking about all of the things that could have steered my life a little to the left or a little to the right if someone would just have told me about them. Then I realized that even if they had told me, I wouldn’t of listened.

To be honest, people tried telling me things along the way all the time to help me in life. I just couldn’t relate and therefore just didn’t really listen. I didn’t realize that I wasn’t listening, I was just incapable of fully tracking with them since I had different experiences than them.

I didn’t understand the person that told me how hard it would be to pay back school loans once college was over. I laughed at the mom that always had to leave a function in order to get her kids home for nap time. I couldn’t relate to the person who had a hard time adjusting to real life again after a traumatic experience. I didn’t fully sympathize with the person who was going through hell in their life and couldn’t quite seem to get above water.

What someone could have told me though, was that as I started to experience life for myself, I would in turn start to understand their life a little better. It was only as I started to experience pain in my own life that I could fully start to understand and sympathize with others. It was only as I became a mom that I started to stop judging other moms for the things they did that I thought were crazy before. As life threw me a little hell to go through myself, it was only then that I started to understand trying to stay above water.

I think this is what Jesus may have meant when He talked about His power working best in weakness. As I started to realize my weakness in life I also started to be able to offer grace to people where I hadn’t been able to before. Walls of judgements began to crumble and new rivers of grace began to flow. As I experienced pain and discomfort and change, I was suddenly able to relate to people in new ways and a grace opened up in my life for other people that I so desperately needed for myself. It’s the things that have hurt me the most in life that have led me to grace the quickest. I’ve seen that the parts of my life that have been the hardest, the darkest, the biggest struggle for me, have been the parts where Jesus has been the clearest and the strongest. The heavy things and the hard things are what make us grow as people. The easy parts of life are fun and amazing, but they don’t usually end with me having as deep of a need and longing in my soul to love people and be there for them as the tough things do.

Someone could have tried to explain how hard life would be at times, or how beautiful, but there is just no shortcut to these experiences. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to see the light at the end of dark days for ourselves or experience the pure joy that new hope can bring. So while I could wish that someone would have made a list for me about how to get through life the easiest, what I am learning to wish instead is that when life gets hard, and ugly, and brutal, that I would just continue pushing forward, continue going through it, and continue knowing that in the process grace is being produced in me and hopefully, just hopefully, I can act a little more like Jesus through each step.

What NOT to say during life’s tough moments.

When somebody has one of those life changing moments in the worst way, it’s hard to know what to say, how to be there for them, or when to show up or when to leave them alone.

I have found that people are always searching for the right thing to say, the right words to make everything better. That’s the thing though, your words won’t make the situation better. Sorry. It’s just not going to happen. We search and search trying to have the right words because we are at such a loss at what to say during pain, tragedy and grief, that sometimes maybe, just maybe, we should just look at what not to say.

When we lost our son we had the best support in the world. People cared, prayed and loved us in such incredible ways that we still feel it. During the whole process though, I learned a few things on how to be there for someone who is going through something painful. While so many people mean well, there are also so many things you just shouldn’t say.

These are just my personal thoughts, not rocket science or the next book to be released on Amazon. I have talked with many people that think very differently, because people are different. These are just my own little thoughts on how to help someone going through grief. It’s actually pretty simple, really.

Don’t tell people you know how they feel. Because well, you don’t. It doesn’t matter if you have gone through a very similar situation as someone, you still don’t know how they feel or they are processing everything. We are all different, so even if we go through similar situations, we feel it differently. I remember when I was pregnant with our son, and were told he would die, I thought it was the craziest thing when someone would tell me they knew how I felt because they had a friend with a cousin that almost lost a baby once. What? And your friend’s cousin still has that beautiful healthy little baby? Yeah, not the same my friend. I would just smile and and listen to story after story of people telling me they knew how I felt, all the while wanting to scream at the top of my lungs, “YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW I FEEL!” I guess it was better that I smiled instead.

Don’t offer your own miracle story. While your story is amazing and beautiful, it is not helping the situation. Trust me, I believe in miracles. I prayed for a miracle for our son till he took his very last breath. However, there is a line between offering hope and adding a little salt to my wound. People would tell me miracle stories all the time that were completely unrelated to what I was going through, and it was not helpful at all.

Don’t offer your great solutions to their terrible pain. I can’t tell you how many times I was told that my son dying would be used for something great. Um, okay. While I understood that it would be, I did not need to hear that while going through it. When I was about to loose my baby, I could have cared less what good it would bring the world. No good was worth the pain and loss of life in that moment. It made me realize though, that people are always looking for a solution to pain. I understand it, and have been guilty of it so many times too. Telling me why God decided to have me go through this or what good it would bring is not going to take my pain away. Stop feeling the need to offer solutions. You don’t need to fix things for people. I think we need a little less offering of solutions to our pain and a little more comfort.

So, you’re probably thinking, “Thanks so much for the harsh realities of what not to say, but a little help on the age old question of what do I say?”

So glad you asked. It’s so simple really.

Just love them. It’s that simple. It takes a lot of the pressure off, really. When we are so concerned with how to make people feel better, or how to solve their problem, we take on the pressure that wasn’t designed for us. Jesus can carry the heavy load of making pain feel a little less painful and bring peace and joy to our darkest hours. That’s not our job. Our job is to just love people. Just show up for them. You don’t have to offer your insights to how they are feeling, why they are feeling that way, or when and how it will get better. Just simply tell them you love them. That you are there for them. That you are sorry they are going through whatever they are going through. Ask them what you can do for them or how you could be helpful. That’s all that people really need to hear anyways. Nothing you or I can say will take away heart wrenching pain, doubt or fear, but our love can make all the difference. So when you are contemplating sending that text, send it. When you are thinking about making that call, make it. Even if they don’t respond, show up for them. Give them their space, but simply let them know you care. And be consistent in your love. It gets the loneliest after the initial shock of pain has passed and you are left dealing with grief while everyone else is moving on with life. Just be consistently there for people. We don’t have to complicate pain because it scares us and we don’t know what to do with it. We just need to love people, consistently.

two years

It has been two years since I have written a blog post. Two years since I was sitting down to write about the loss of our son. Two years since the most heart wrenching, devastating time in my life. It’s been two years – which at times feels like an eternity, and other times feels like yesterday.

Two years later as I sit to write, I live in an entirely different part of the country, with different employment, a different house and different friends.  Just two years, and so much has changed.

Life can change in an instant or just slowly over time. Life is funny like that. Sometimes you feel like things are being thrown at you left and right while other times you feel like you’ve been waiting forever for something to happen. Either way, the constant is that change will occur, every time, no matter what.

I went back to read my last blog post before writing this, and boy was I a mess two years ago. I realize now, that when you are heartbroken you tend to ramble and be pretty emotional, go figure. It’s like going back to read a story written by a different person almost. All of the emotions and heartache still feel very much mine, but the story feels like it’s from someone else’s life. I couldn’t possibly have lost my son two years ago if you look at my life now. It’s just crazy how life can be redeemed over time. Two years and life is turning around and changing, it’s evolving.

Now as I write this I can hear my daughter giggle and see her trying to figure out how to get every tupperware out of the kitchen cabinet as fast as possible. Now, life is still messy but it’s also really beautiful. Two years ago I could not have pictured that life could be the way that it is now. Two years ago I had no idea that we would have a beautiful little girl, an amazing life, and so much more than we deserve.

Life will always change. The good, the bad, the messy and the beautiful. It will always be ever changing. No matter what you go through now, there will always be better days, more exciting days, less heartbreaking days. Jesus redeemed our story in just two years. There are always better days ahead.

It’s been two years and I am ready to write a whole new story.

This time, a story filled with coffee and sarcasm, with hope and fears. A story filled with our little girl, dirty diapers and more coffee. This time the story will be about how insanely awkward I am or how I really have no idea what I am doing as a mother. This time the storyline will be based on the redemption we have felt over these past two years, along with the daily mishaps of being a mom and wife. And if life decides to hit us with a ton of bricks again at some point, I will write about that too. This time the story will include anything and everything, the messy and the beautiful.

Maybe even an exploration of my love of Taylor Swift. So, there’s that.