Out of Whack (prioritizing struggles for this new mom)

Reprioritizing as a new mom

I do this annoying thing all the time where I get all high and mighty because I think I’ve got this motherhood thing down. I did it during pregnancy, too… for example, I thought I must just be an amazing pregnant lady because I wasn’t getting all swollen and huge… until I did.

You’d think I’d learn my lesson, but those thoughts have continued right on into motherhood. I think, I’ve really got this bedtime thing down and then this happens. Or I think my daughter must be the best baby ever because she’s never fussy and I can take her anywhere… and then she cries through an entire meal at a restaurant, or while I was frantically checking out at Target, or she suddenly decides she hates the car and screams during every single car ride.

So, of course, I felt like I had this motherhood gig down until I started work again. That little piece of humble pie I’ve been served has certainly done the trick! I am a hot mess. My first week back to work I ended up canceling all of the friend hangouts I had scheduled on my days off because my days off aren’t really days off anymore. Since motherhood happens all day every day, my work from home hours are no longer so scheduled or limited to certain days of the week.

I am incredibly grateful to have a job that I love with flexible hours and that allows me to work about a third of those hours from home. The problem, though, is working from home. It takes on a whole new meaning with a baby who has a lot of needs (AKA food, help falling asleep, diaper changes, someone to play with her and oh yes, general care). My hours worked from home that were once “only on Thursdays” are now split up into 15-60 minute chunks all day every day in the form of sending emails while nursing and scheduling, planning, and practicing during naps, etc.

With all of these changes, I sat in bed the other night and realized I needed to press the reset button on my priorities for this season. My Scripture reading has been spotty at best, I sometimes forget to kiss my husband goodbye when I head into the office (but never Adeline, of course!), and I can no longer schedule multiple friend hangouts on “days off.”

But instead of measuring a day’s success based on the status of dirty dishes and household clutter, I need to turn the pyramid upside down and rethink those measurements.

Instead of measuring a day's success based on the status of dirty dishes + household clutter,… Click To Tweet

My New Daily Priority Pyramid:

  1. God – Have I spent time in the Word today? What are three things I can thank Him for today?
  2. Jacob – What is one small way I can serve him today?
  3. Adeline – Have I talked to her, played with her and enjoyed her without my phone nearby today?
  4. Work – Did I accomplish the “must have’s” today? Am I on track to reach my hours this week? Is the house at least in a livable condition (are there clean dishes and clean clothes)?
  5. Friends – If I can’t connect with a friend in person this week, how can I make a point to serve her? At least send a quick text to let her know I love her and ask how I can pray for her, write a quick card, etc.

After typing those out they seem ridiculously simple, but in the minute to minute of my day it is so easy to let them slide through my fingertips! Would you say a quick prayer for me today that God grows me in discipline in this season and I make this pyramid flip a priority?

How can I be praying for you? Are there priorities in your life that are out of whack? I encourage you to take a minute to consider what is most important to you and ask yourself if that is actually lived out in the reality of your day to day life.

Returning to work + Fighting to believe the truth about it

Encouragement for returning to work after maternity leave

Today marks the end of my maternity leave… Or, rather, the start of my return to work. I’m a ball of mixed emotions as I drive to the office today.

A huge part of me mourns the hours of my week that will no longer be devoted solely to meeting the physical and emotional needs of my daughter. I’ve spent the past 8 weeks learning how to care for her, anticipating what her needs may be and constantly shifting my priorities from my needs to hers. Very little during that time required me to shift my thoughts from her to something else. Those eight weeks passed in what now feels like the blink of an eye, although I know some of those nights felt like an eternity in themselves.

Related Post: Adeline’s birth story

But a small part of me fights to speak truth into my sad heart this morning. That small part reminds me that I’m acting out of obedience to God by returning to this job. I know this responsibility is a calling he has placed on my life – a calling he has given me in addition to motherhood and being a wife that I want to walk in because above all else, first I am his daughter.

My job is completely a gift from God; it’s one of the several loud, tangible examples I’ve seen of his grace in my life over the past two years. In fact, about this time last year I realized this job was the dream job I didn’t know my heart desired!

But I now know motherhood is another job I didn’t realize my heart desired… I had no idea how much I’d want this and never want to turn back.

So as I drive to work today, I’m reminding myself of these truths, because despite the changes this new season of working and motherhood will bring, I know I’m walking in God’s desires for me and my family.

When I go to work, I get to spend part of my week exploring how we can help people encounter God each week through the arts. I get to brainstorm and bring to fruition these ideas with people who are passionate about making the gospel known to our community.

When I go to work, I’m surrounded by people who inspire me to grow and be better. They inspire me to renounce selfishness and remind me this life is about more than just myself and my wants.

When I go to work, I get to lead my community in meeting God through song. What a joy and what a responsibility! I don’t take Sunday mornings lightly. What a privilege to gather freely as a community to preach truth to ourselves, to each other and to unbelievers who visit with us through the words we sing in those songs. I am incredibly grateful that God has entrusted me with the responsibility to lead part of his people in this act of obedient worship each week.

When I go to work, I get to use my gifts as a musician and grow in them! I get to collaborate with other musicians and be inspired by their discipline and talent. I’m driven to further develop my gifts and that brings me incredible joy.

When I go to work, I get to help provide for my family. I’m not leaving Adeline for my own selfish gain (not that “me time” isn’t a healthy thing for moms to have each week!) – I’m leaving her so that I can help keep a roof over her head, clothes on her body and food on the table! I am glad I get to help demonstrate for her the discipline and value of work.

When I go to work, I am walking faithfully in one of the many callings of my life. I’m renouncing Satan’s whispers that I’m neglecting my daughter or that I’m not qualified or that I’m not creative or talented enough for this job. And boy does he try to lure me away with those lies! Motherhood is another string for him to twist in my heart. No – when I go to work, I am honoring my commitment as a follower of Christ, as a wife to Jacob, as a mother to Adeline and as a woman who values growth, hard work and chasing a dream and life she loves.

So when I need to remember why I’m going to work, I’m going to re-read this post and ask God to use me, to make those hours count for his Kingdom and to help me remember the freedom I have to do so joyfully.

Ladies, no matter what your season of life looks like – whether you stay at home or go to work or do a mixture of both, live this season faithfully! If you are struggling with where you’re at, I encourage to to sit with the Lord and ask him to show you why you’re there. And then write it down! When Satan tempts you to sink into the lies that where you are isn’t enough, read that list to remember God’s truth. And then walk in it confidently! All of the seasons of our lives and motherhood look different, so don’t worry yourselves by comparing yours to the people around you… You matter right where you’re at, right now. As I press “publish” today and drive into work, I’m praying for each one of you reading this, that you’ll believe the truths God has for you in this season instead of Satan’s temptings to despair.

Mama, you matter right where you're at, right now. Whether that's at work or at home. Click To Tweet

Thanks for your encouragement as a new mom these last 8 weeks! I hope we can continue sharing so much more encouragement with each other!

What’s an area of your life that you are struggling to believe is purposeful or valuable?  Claim that truth today and ask God to help you believe it!

Journaling Exposed. AKA Fake conversations in my head

Journaling PerksIt’s crazy the power – the stronghold – feelings can have over me. Especially unexpressed feelings. I don’t realize their weight or their unfounded hold over me until I get them out on paper, until I can visually see their meaning. They become much less mighty in the face of truth, when their weakness is exposed with paper and pen.

That’s an excerpt from my journal last week. This year I’ve rediscovered the art and discipline of journaling, and my love for it! I forgot the freedom it brings me emotionally and the opportunity it gives me to process life. I’m always running from one thing to the next – journaling gives me the outlet to slow down and think about what’s going on around me.

Do any of you guys ever have made up conversations in your head? Do you play out imaginary scenarios and sometimes feel your blood boiling as you have this fake conversation with your spouse or friend in your head?

I do that all the time. I’m such a feeler. Sometimes those made up conversations help me to prepare for a real conversations, and other times they just get me more worked up as I feel more and more justified in my (usually NOT justified) feelings.

Enter journaling. I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been reading through Thirty One Days of Prayer for the Dreamer and Doer (affiliate link), as well as the SheReadsTruth Bible in a Year plan. I try to start off my mornings reading through those Scriptures and prayers, and then spending some time with my journal: a pen and paper.

Sometimes my journal looks like a highlight reel of the Scripture that spoke to me that day. Sometimes it looks like written prayers jumbled with messy confessions of my struggles in those moments. Sometimes it looks like prayers of desperation for God to shape my heart because I realized those confessions are ugly and rooted in sin.

All of those things, though, help me to move my thoughts from bouncing around inside my head to being exposed on paper. Left inside my head, those bouncing thoughts and feelings quickly feel justified and righteous. But more often than not, once they are spelled out on paper, I can see them for the lies they are. And I can preach truth to myself.

So this morning I’m grateful for the discipline of pen and paper. I’m thankful for the ways God speaks to my heart and gently shows me that I’m best off when not left alone inside my own head.

How do you preach truth to yourself or work through your emotions? Do you journal? Do you have a routine?

The post I thought I’d never publish:

Outfit details here

Holiday breaks do some great things for you, yes? I had Wednesday through the weekend off work, so I committed to taking a break from all things social media. You didn’t see any new blog posts, Instagram posts, etc, and that was purposeful.

This blogging space of mine has pushed and pulled me into a new person. I’ve stayed up many late nights (and early mornings!) writing, editing, emailing, publishing, scheduling social media, organizing future posts and dreaming for this space. It taught me so much discipline and brought me a lot of joy.

But during this four and a half day holiday break, when I let myself slow down for the first time in a long while, the questions I’ve kept locked in the back of my brain surfaced and were confirmed: I need a break.

After a lot of discussion with Jacob, I’m taking a sort of blogging “sabbatical.” For at least the month of January, I’m going to spend the hours I’m not working, volunteering for church or exercising doing things I love but often neglect for the sake of this blog. Remember my 10 Secret Dreams I published last month? I’m talking about those.

I’m talking about really sitting in Scripture with a mind that isn’t also tallying the tasks I need to do in the back closet. I’m talking about writing for the sake of being honest with my own heart in a way that doesn’t require publishing immediately. I’m talking about restringing my guitar and letting words marry a melody that makes my heart sing from its depths.

I’m letting myself remember I love to be creative, and that can look different every single day.

Friends, thank you for meeting me here. Thank you for encouraging me through all of the big steps in blogging and walking alongside of me through serious heart work. Thank you for cheering me on when I walked out onto new limbs and for coming back here so often. You guys are awesome. You are the reason I love this space so much and why it took me so long to admit I need this little break.

Thank YOU for reading, for commenting, for emailing, for sharing on your social media platforms and for being my cheerleader. I’m still yours.

xoxo

December Goals

Enjoy this season.

It’s our first Christmas in New England. Already our calendars are full with a baby shower I’m hosting this weekend, youth group Christmas parties, staff Christmas parties, small group dinners, youth sponsor parties, etc. It’s a lot. But in it all, it’s a season of recognizing all the blessings around us: a wonderful, family-like church home, great jobs, great friends, an apartment we love, HEAT, and a husband to live with all my days.

A girl can’t ask for much more. So this month I’m not going to focus on checking things off my list. I’m going to focus on being present, loving my husband, and saying “thanks” a lot. I’m also going to spend a lot of time in the Word.Here’s to aiming to enjoy every moment this month instead of getting from one moment to the next. What are your goals for December?

November, I’m ready for you.

November, you’re bringing a great holiday, a visit back to Tennessee, probably a snow or two, thicker coats and the start of Christmas shopping. You’re bringing apple-scented candles, heated homes, game nights, laughter, and lots of cozy sweaters. You also bring a brand new month with a clean slate for new goals.

I’m ready for you.

Here’s what I’m working on this month:

Study the Word.  If you read my ORYS review on Women of the Word, you know I’m getting serious about my Scripture study. Our small group also started Kay Arthur’s 1st & 2nd Timothy and Titus study, so Jacob and I have been trucking through that together. I’d like to be consistent in working on that daily, even if it isn’t always together, and being intentional when I read.

Attend 3 barre classes per week.  You guys, I am hooked! The studio is less than five minutes from my house, they are running great package promos right now and I have several friends who are going with me!! My weekly schedule has been Monday nights at 7 and Wednesday and Friday mornings at 6am. I never thought I’d be one of those ladies who gets up early for an exercise class before work, but, alas, I started and I love it.

Attempt 3 new recipes.  I don’t even know who I am anymore! I don’t mind cooking, sometimes I even enjoy it, and I’ve been feeling up to trying new recipes for the past few months all the time! Move on over, Paula Dean! 😉

Accept that I can’t do it all.  I’ve really been combing through my commitments lately, trying to assess why I’m doing what I’m doing and if it’s necessary. A lot of it is necessary, like work (ha!) and serving at church, spending time with Jacob, getting in the Word, etc. But I also need to realize I just can’t meet everyone’s needs, and that’s okay. I can’t meet with everyone I want to meet with, and that’s okay, too. It’s this season of life, and I want to live it well.

Call 3 far away friends.  This has been my favorite goals each month, because it’s been great to connect with friends I don’t see nearly enough. I’m so tunnel visioned that I stink at keeping up with these relationships, so this helps, even if it’s only a little bit. This month, my goal is to call people I haven’t talked with much in the last several months.

Be intentional with friendships here.  I’m so grateful for the friendships I’ve been given in our new home – I am surrounded by so many great women and I don’t want to be lukewarm in those friendships!

 

And here’s how I did on October’s goals:

Make two new recipes.  I made this chicken, quinoa, sweet potato soup a few weeks ago, and Jacob actually liked it! He’s not a huge soup person, so that is a big deal. I also tried two apple crisp recipes, and of the two, I liked this one best. I’m still on the hunt for the one, though. 😉

Call 3 friends who are far away.  I did pretty well on this one, too! Unfortunately, that mostly had to do with my emotional weekend a few weeks ago, but it was nice to hear some familiar voices, none the less. This has been such a nice goal to keep up with the past few months.

Get into Scripture daily, before reading anything else.  I did pretty dang well on this one, too, with the exception of the “before reading anything else” clause. More often than not, I read a lot of work emails before getting to read on my lunch break, but I’m so glad to be getting into a better routine with Scripture.

Go out of my way to love Jacob well.  I’d say this is debatable… if anything, he’s done this for me a lot this month! We have had a few lazy nights in, complete with junk food and board games, movies and some cuddling. We’re married so that’s okay ;). He’s also cleaned up and done the dishes more often than usual… so this month, I need to amp up my game!

Tell me, what goals are you shooting for this month?? Setting goals has become a great routine for me. It’s an opportunity for a clean slate each month and for someone like me, I need that.