Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Recovery is Two Steps Forward and One Step Back

Several people have asked me to update my blog.  I know people want to know how things are going down here in New Mexico, but the truth is I don't know what to write about.  I have started several new posts but never quite finish them because I just don't know what to say.  There's so much.  And I don't know what people really want to know.

But one thing about me is it's hard for me to not just be honest.  I'm definitely a "bare your soul" kind of person.  I don't do shallow or small talk very well.  So, I'm just going to go with what is on my heart right now.

Moving is hard.

I knew it was going to be hard.  I knew that Brad would be gone more hours so more responsibility would fall on me.  I knew the kids would need to adjust just as much as we do.  I knew that I would have to discover the best place to do my grocery shopping or which park is the coolest.  I knew that it would take time to build friendships, especially the deep, soul-quenching type of friendships I crave so much.  I knew it would be a while before Brad and I got to go out on a date just the two of us.  I knew that not being able to go to my parents' house whenever I want would be really hard.  I knew that not being able to throw the kids in the car on a bad day and walk around Target aimlessly would be hard.

But I didn't know it would be this hard.  I don't think I could know because this goes beyond a knowledge and into the experience. The hardest part is parenting through all of this.  My boys have handled this whole thing like troopers, but it has not been without its own bumps in the road.  Whether it's just their own way of adjusting or their response to the lack of routine or even perhaps our own lack of discipline in the house, their behaviors have been very trying.  And, if you recall, I am a recovering perfectionist, which makes it even worse.  I put on myself this idea that I have to have perfect children so when they act out or act crazy I am doubly stressed.  I feel like everyone is watching and judging, even if I've been given no reason to feel this way.  And when you're the new girl, you already feel the pressure to impress.  I have doubted my own parenting more in these past two months than ever before.

But I keep coming back to the same thing.  This clip from one of my favorite movies, Mom's Night Out, sums it up perfectly.  God did not make a mistake when he gave me my three little boys.  He knew their personalities and struggles.  He knew their strengths and weaknesses.  And he knew that I would be the best mom for them.  Most days I question whether God really knew what he was doing, but the truth is he did.  And on those days when I question him, I am reminded that I do not have to do this alone.  It is by his strength that I get through every day.  He promises me enough for today.  I may not have any left over at the end of the day, but I have enough for the day.  And when I remember that I am not alone on this journey, he is always by my side I remember that I am going to make it through.  We will come out of this.  Some day, my children will stop throwing temper tantrums.  Some day I will stop worrying about what all the other moms think of me.  Some day, I will truly find my identity in Christ and who he made me to be rather than who I think everyone else wants me to be. 

That's the thing about being a recovering perfectionist.  You're always re-learning the same lesson.  It's two steps forward and one step back, but in the end, you are not where you started. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

God's Blessings Part 1

I'm going to be honest for a minute here.

Being a mom is hard.

Way harder than I ever imagined.  When I thought of being a stay at home mom, I though of baking cookies with my kids and playing games together.  Going for nice walks to the park.  Playdates with friends.  Easy naptimes and family fun Fridays where we all sit around the TV and watch a movie together.

All of these are nice things.  And all can be reality, just not as perfectly as I had imagined.  My boys love to bake with me, but it always winds up in a mess and everyone is fighting over the best spot on the step ladder.  Don't even get me started on walking to the park.  What should take 10 minutes takes at least a half hour because we have to stop every 5 steps to pick up a stone or look at the ant walking in the street or we're fighting over who is going to push the stroller.  Needless to say, being a mom is not easy.

But lately I have discovered that because things weren't going my way parenting was even harder.  I had a hard time finding the joy.  The constant interruptions to my day were a nuisance.  I was being selfish.  I was focusing on how my kids poky-ness (that is totally a word) was messing with my schedule.  They were happy and content playing with trains, but I wanted to bake cookies.  Micah wanted me to sit down and do a puzzle with him but I wanted to read my book.  My day was focused around me.  I was more worried about what I wanted to do than I was about my children.  And it was robbing me of my joy.  I was passing on snuggles and tickles and laughs because it didn't fit into my plans for the day.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am constantly reading.  Lately, my books have centered around being a Godly mom.  Someone who points her children to Jesus.  One common theme the books have is giving up your own selfish desires.  When we become moms, we lay down ourselves for the sake of our children.  I'm not talking about never doing anything for ourselves.  I believe that is wrong on so many levels.  But it means our focus is on our kids.  We have them home for such a short time.  We only get so many snuggles and tickles before their too big and too cool for them anymore.

When we first started getting all the details of our move and found out that Brad would actually be away from home longer we both had our doubts.  Brad knows I am a person who needs my time everyday.  I need time to read and be alone or I can become very grumpy.  His new schedule would make this very hard.  But, still, we prayed about it and decided if this is what God is calling us to, He will change my heart and get me through this time.

And let me tell you, He has done just that!  With encouragement from the books I have been reading, I have found more joy in my children and home in the three weeks that we have been here than in the three months before.  I wake up every morning and spend time in Scripture.  Sometimes it's a half hour, sometimes its five minutes, but I am starting the day focused on Him, and he, in turn, gives me the grace to focus on my children.  Yes, I am tired at the end of the day, but I am truly enjoying playing with my kids.  Going to the park with them.  Building them tracks.  I'm more intentional about disciplining them, taking the time to point them to God's Word to help direct their behavior.  We're listening to music together, reading piles and piles of books.  And yes, even cooking together.

Don't get me wrong, I have always loved my children.  I have always loved being a mom and I would not trade it for anything in the world.  It's just that my focus was more on the playdates and naptime then the actual hard work of mothering.

But already I am experiencing one of the blessings of God because we were obedient to God's call to come here to New Mexico.  I am sad for all of the joy that I missed out on and I don't even want to think what it would be like if we had not followed God's call to come here.  Now, I am eager to see what other blessings He has in store for us.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015


When this whole journey to New Mexico started, I kind of felt like I was just following my husband's lead.  He's never before felt God speak to him so clearly, and I have never before seen him lead our family so strongly.  So I knew I had to follow him.  We've had many conversations about this journey.  We've gone through many reason why God has brought us here.  To help us become financially free?  So that we could volunteer at Rehoboth School?  To live a simpler life?  To grow closer together as a family?  So that I could start a mom's group?  Does it have to do with people Brad will serve at work?  For the boys?

I still have no idea why God has brought us here.  Maybe all of these reasons have some validity.  Maybe none of them.  But I can already tell you this move has changed my life.  I have honestly seen this move as more about Brad.  Or the boys.  It doesn't have much to do with me.  I'm just along for the ride.  But I am discovering that I am so wrong.  I thought that picking up my life and moving 1500 miles away from everyone I know was good enough.  I thought I had done a good thing.  God was proud of me for trusting Him in this and now everything is going to fall into place.  I would love for it to work out like that, and maybe it will, but my job is not over. 

God doesn't look at my obedience and trust in moving here and say, "Way to go, Amanda!  You passed the test.  Now everything else in life will go exactly as you want it."  No, moving here was only the beginning of my surrender. 

Ever since we got here a week ago, I've been wrestling with God.  I have felt him telling me there is more.  More than I can even imagine.  But I have to surrender.  Everything.  I have to surrender all that I have been clinging so tightly to.  My security.  My comfort.  My things.  I have to be willing to give him anything he wants.  That doesn't mean he's going to take it all away from me, but until I surrender completely to Him, I will not be able to experience the full blessing that He wants to give me. 

But the truth is I'm not ready for that yet.  I still want to hold on to my comfort.  My security.  I like watching TV at night or having a closet full of clothes.  And so we wrestle.  I know what I have to do, but I don't want to.  But the funny thing is, I can't run away from Him.  He is everywhere.  Turning my heart toward Him so that soon I have nowhere else to go but to Him. 

I started reading Anything by Jennie Allen before we left.  I had seen it recommended on a blog I read and it sounded like it fit with what I was going through.  In the beginning, the book was not what I expected, but it quickly was exactly what I needed.  A book about surrendering it all to God so that He can do more than you could ever imagine.  So that He can fill you so completely it won't matter what you're going through because you have Jesus.  I am undone by this book.  It has spoken to me like no book I've ever read has.  I'm not ready for surrender, but this book was a gift from God, pushing me in that direction.  I want to give Him my all.  I want to surrender everything so that he can have anything he wants.  And I know the time will come soon when I will be able to say that and honestly mean it.  And I cannot wait to see what it is for.  To see what work He is going to do. 

Maybe this journey is really about me and surrendering completely to God.  Maybe he had to bring me 1500 miles away from everything and everyone I know so that He could capture my heart. 

Friday, June 19, 2015


We were made for community.  Everyone wants to feel like they have a place where they belong.  When we first started talking about moving down to New Mexico my biggest hesitation was leaving our community.  It has taken me years to feel like I finally found a place where I belong.  Brad and I are part of a wonderful small group.  They feel like family to us and we know leaving them will be hard.

I have always longed to have the kind of friends that my children can call "auntie" or whose houses I can walk right into.  I wanted friends who would come over at the last minute because we both have nothing to do so we might as well do nothing together.  Friends who I could share my struggles with and know that they truly would pray for me.  Friends to walk alongside me and just do life together.

Our small group is just that.  We have found three amazing couples who encourage us and challenge us all the time.  When we first told them about this opportunity they were nothing but supportive despite their own desires for us to stay here. I love seeing the people of God come together and forming their own family.  I truly believe that this is how God intended us to live.  I love my family but my favorite part of my family is the people who are not truly part of my family but have become like family to me.  And I realize that is not something everyone finds.  We are lucky.  We opened ourselves up to others.  We shared our struggles with them.  We were honest with them.  And they reciprocated.  They didn't criticize us or cast us out of the group.  They continued to welcome us with open arms and they opened up about their own struggles.  They started to be honest with us.  I love it when God's people live together in community like that. 

That is no small feat.  I know how scary it can be.  It takes a lot of trust and vulnerability, but we have been greatly blessed because of it.  It's not just our small group either.  We have developed some really amazing friendships with several other families in our church, and even an old friend from high school.  People who are a constant source of encouragement and support.  It is so hard knowing that we are leaving them behind.  Knowing that we will never find anything else quite like the friendships we have here.  But it's also such an encouragement, knowing that we go with their prayers and support.  Hearing promises of e-mailing and plans for days together when we return home.  Even plans to come visit us.  If we didn't have the love and support of our extended family I don't think we'd be able to do this.  It has made this crazy adventure all the more a reality. 

I'm not looking forward to leaving these precious friendships behind, but I am looking forward to seeing how we continue to grow in community while we are gone.  And how we develop new friendships to add to our family.  I am so excited to see exactly what God has in store for us and how He will continue to show His faithfulness.

Thursday, May 28, 2015


Weird.  Radical.

For two years we've been throwing around words like these.  We've been talking about what it means to live sold out for God.  To follow whatever He tells you to do.  We want to live a legacy of obedience for our children.  When we talk about people we want to be like it's always people who are not afraid to go on adventures.  People who are willing to serve God whatever the cost.

We want to be weird and radical.  But we never imagined what that would mean for us.  A little over a month ago, Brad and I flew down to New Mexico so that he could interview at a hospital down there.  To find out how we got to his point, you can read more about it here.  Yesterday, Brad accepted a position at the hospital down there.  In about a month, we will be moving our whole family down to New Mexico.  It's very exciting.  There is so much to look forward to.  We are especially excited about the chance to live at the school.  When we were there for Brad's interview, everyone we told about the school had heard of it and spoke very highly of it.  We are excited to be part of such a wonderful ministry in the community.  We're not completely sure what our role will be, but we are ready and willing to be used however God wants to.

We're not naive about this transition.  We know it's going to be hard to be so far away from all of our friends and family, but we also know that we are doing what God wants us to do.  That means He goes before us and prepares the way.  It's comforting to know that God is with us.  We've been clinging to Joshua 1:9 where God says, "Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."  These words are very encouraging as we start this new journey.  I don't know what God has planned for us, but I know that he goes with us.  This journey is weird.  It's radical.  And I'm so excited to be on it.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Mother's Day 2015

I've always known I wanted to be a mom.  It's what I was made for.  But in the four and a half years that I've been a mom I've discovered that fulfilling your dream is a lot of pressure.  Your "dream" is what you live your whole life for.  You think that your life is not enough until that dream has been fulfilled.  So we strive so hard towards this goal, thinking that once we reach it everything will be great.  Everything will just fall into place and it will finally be our happily ever after.

But the reality is that doesn't come.

Sure, you can fulfill your dream.  I became a mom on October 31, 2010.  But since then, my life has been anything but perfect.  I fell in love with Micah the moment he was put on my chest and I got to look at his little blue eyes.  I loved holding him close to me knowing that I was all he needed.  But it didn't take long for me to realize he was not all I needed.

Being a mom can sometimes be so lonely.  I wasn't ready for that.  I'm home all day with three boys, ages four and under.  I'm surrounded by whining and crying and diapers and little noises that are completely not understandable.  I have to be the judge, the peacemaker, the cook, the personal assistant, the train engineer, the maid, the activity coordinator, and so much more.  And often that's in the first 15 minutes of my day.

I know there are other moms going through the same thing I am.  I've talked with them.  Other moms who are desperate for some time away from their home.  Who just want someone else to talk to using words that are longer than two syllables.  But we don't have time for that.  There is too much to do.  And it can start to feel like this dream that I've dreamt of my whole life is not all it was cracked up to be.

The truth is I would not trade my life for anything in the world.  Being a mom is so rewarding.  For all the fights I have to break up and the bickering back and forth there are moments when they are playing together so well.  Moments where one brother is looking out for the other.  And several times a day, I hear, "Mommy, I love you to the moon and back" randomly.  These boys are my life.  But when I put my self-worth in them and I start measuring my success by them it all falls to pieces.

Because no one is more aware of how I fail them than I am.  '

When I think about fulfilling my dream, I expect perfection.  And it didn't take long for me to realize that I will never be the perfect mom.  But I keep striving for it.  And I keep disappointing myself.  So, instead of seeing my children and my role as mom as my dream fulfilled, I am seeing them as the blessing they are.  I've been trusted with these three amazing blessings from God.  He trusts me to care for them and love them and teach them about His love.  But he doesn't expect perfection from me.  And he doesn't expect me to do it on my own.  He has given me His grace.  He has given me His Word to guide me and help me.  This journey is not an easy one.  I still struggle every day.  I fear I'm going to mess my kids up forever.  I still want to be the best and give my best at everything, but I'm learning there is grace.  Grace for me.  And grace for my children because I will never get it all right.

So, I'm taking the pressure off myself.  My role as mother is an amazing gift.  But it's just that: a gift.  So I'm going to enjoy it.  Because they're only little for such a short amount of time.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Following my Husband's Lead

“Honey, would you tell me if I was crazy?”
Those are not the words you want to be woken up with in the middle of the night.  But that’s exactly how my husband woke me up almost three months ago.  Then, he proceeded to lay out this plan for me that he thinks God is calling him (us) to.  As a pharmacist, he has accrued a significant amount of student debt and we had recently decided that we wanted to aggressively attack that debt.  Work was also becoming more stressful for him and we were discovering just how un-flexible his schedule is and how nice it would be for him to have a job that allows him to be home more.  The night he woke me up, he was driving home from work when he was hit with an idea.  He remembered hearing that the Indian Health Services offers loan-repayment programs for pharmacists that work in some of the most under-served area.  While I was sleeping, he stayed up researching the program.  In college, I did my student teaching at a small Christian school near Gallup, NM.  When I left New Mexico, Brad remembers me saying I didn’t feel my story was done there yet.  He also remembers how much I loved the school and the community there.  He figured if he could find a hospital with an open pharmacy position near the school it might be something worth pursuing.  Sure enough, the hospital in Gallup is not only part of the program, but also had an opening.  By time he woke me up, he had it all figured out.  He could work at the hospital and we could live on the school campus each volunteering our time there.  We would have no problem making friends and our children would experience a wonderful culture, a great sense of community, and live in one of the most beautiful places in the United States. 
          Fast forward almost three months later, we’re still pursuing this crazy thought.  A couple weeks ago we put our house on the market (something that was planned even before this crazy thought!).  Last week, we made a quick trip out to New Mexico for an interview and a chance to see the hospital and talk to the school.  We still don’t know what is going to happen.  My husband is convinced that God is calling us to.  For nearly two years, we’ve been throwing around words like “weird” and “radical” when talking about our faith and here we are with an opportunity to live out those words.  On the outside, this might appear to be a very brave thing, but the truth is I’m terrified.  I have made many long-distance trips away from my family, but I have never moved away from them.  And I have never moved my whole family to a place where we know no one.  The truth is I’m terrified.  Gallup is a fairly remote area with no Target in sight!  I have to start over.  I’m scared of being in my house all day with my children while my husband is at work meeting new people.  I’m scared of not being connected.  I’m scared of my children being away from their grandparents and celebrating birthdays and holidays alone.        Even though these fears are real and very possible I’m trusting both my husband and God.  I’m trusting that my husband is following the lead of the Lord and doing what He wants us to do.  I’m trusting that my husband is listening for the Lord’s leading in our lives.  And I’m trusting that God will be by my (our!) side the whole time.  If this is God’s plan for our lives, we do not go alone.  He will give us his peace.  He prepares the way for us.  That does not mean it is going to be easy.  I, personally, have found great solace in the story of Moses leading the Israelites into the Promised Land.  Even though Moses was doing what God told him to do, he was met with obstacles the whole way.  But in the end, the Israelites made it and they had God’s physical presence with them in the form of the pillar of fire and cloud the entire time.  I’m holding onto that promise.  The promise that God knows what He is doing and He is with me every step of the way, I need only trust Him.

Thursday, February 19, 2015


I've been thinking about rest a lot these past several months.  I'm not talking about sleep (though as the mom of three children ages 4 and under sleep is never far from my mind), I'm talking about rest.  Slowing down and just being still.  Rest.

Rest is not something I'm good at.  I always want to be doing everything.  I like to be involved in as many activities as I can and that did not change once I had children.  I know that as my boys get older there will be even more opportunities for them to be involved in activities.  I know how important it is for us to set the tone now before our schedule starts to overtake us.

Several months ago, this tension between desiring rest and wanting to be part of everything came to a head for me.  We had several different things going on and I felt so overwhelmed.  I knew that I had too much on my plate because I was often very short with my husband and my children rarely got to be at home and play.  My life was full of good things, but it was too full.  I knew that something had to give, but I wanted to do everything that I was doing. 

One night, Brad and I sat down and had a very long conversation.  Together, we decided that it was time to start cutting back on our schedule.  We looked at our schedule and decided on a couple of things to cut out, including my women's Bible study night and my leadership positions with my mom's group.  This helped to make our marriage a priority as well as give me time to focus on the kids at home.  It especially helped me schedule time regularly for homeschooling with Micah, which is something that was very important to us.  It was extremely difficult for me to make these cuts.  I loved these groups and the women I got to spend time with as a result of being in these groups. 

It has now been three months since I stepped down and it has been a wonderful time of rest for my whole family.  The time spent with my children has been such a blessing.  My marriage has grown and we have prioritized our time together.  I don't know why I was so hesitant to make these changes.  I guess I was afraid I would miss out.  But God knew what He was doing when He made rest one of His commandments.  The purpose of rest is not just to be lazy.  It's actually a blessing from God.  He wants us to stop our busyness and slow down.  To enjoy what is right in front of us.  I've been studying Moses and the Israelites this year.  At one point, God even commanded that they take a full year off and celebrate His faithfulness.  I'm sure they questioned the practicality of that.  They had to fully trust God and rely on His provisions.  But that is a hard thing to do.  There's always more to do and we wonder how it will all get done.  If we take a day off there's no way that everything we need to do will get done.  But the truth is we can get it all done.  And we will be blessed beyond anything we could imagine because we are obeying the Lord. 

I can personally attest to the blessings of taking that time to rest.  I am still learning so much through this time of rest, but I am excited to see what God is going to teach us as we continue to follow Him and trust Him for all of our needs.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

One Word--Intentional

New Year's Eve is my holiday.  I love everything about it.  I love looking back on the past year and thinking about everything that has happened.  I love eating junk food and telling yourself it's the last time because tomorrow is a new year and a new you.  I love staying up late and spending time with family and friends.  I love playing games, watching movies, standing outside on my back deck and watching fireworks from the town square. 

But by far my favorite is waking up the next morning to a new start.  I love that I get to decide who I want to be and now is the perfect time to start making those changes to be that person.  I am a goal-oriented person.  I really do well with goals, they give me a focus and help get me to where I want to go.  Every year in the week between Christmas and New Year's I like to work on setting new goals for myself.  I look at all areas of my life: spiritual, my role as a wife, a mom, a friend, my health, recreational, etc.  There are always changes I want to make, and while I know I can start working towards those changes at any time there's just something about New Year's that just really motivates me.

Several years ago I was introduced to the idea of choosing one word to focus my year.  I immediately loved this idea.  One word to help me set goals.  One word to help me make decisions, to really focus on.  I am a firm believer that I don't actually choose my word.  Instead, God has always put a word on my heart several weeks before the new year begins.  I know that it's what I'm supposed to choose. 

This year, my word is intentional.

I want to be more intentional in all areas of my life.  Recently, I have decided to slow down.  I'm cutting out activities and creating more time in my life.  Now I have to decide what I'm going to do with that time.  I want to be intentional with what I choose to do.  Part of being intentional means reaching out to others and strengthening friendships or creating new ones.  Regularly inviting people to our house to join us in sharing a meal.  Calling a friend and asking if she wants to get together for coffee to just chat.  Making time to call my long-distnace friends and catch up.  Inviting a new mom to my house for a playdate.

It means spending my time with my kids wisely.  Rather than getting on the computer to check facebook it means choosing to spend time playing with them.  Choosing activities for my children that have a purpose.  They can be fun, but when deciding between activities (or whether to do something or not), I will ask myself how this fits into my goal to be intentional this year. 

Being intentional means making time to be with my husband.  Ignoring the mess around us and sitting down on the couch to talk with him.  Making date night a priority (we've even put it on the calendar for a specific day each month).  Setting aside time each week to talk about the "business" things we need to discuss together so that they don't get forgotten. 

I love how this one word can drive so much that I do.  It's like the measuring stick I use when deciding what to do or how to spend my time.  This year I want to be more intentional.  What one word do you want to focus on this year?