Original Sin

When I gave birth the third time,

Everyone told me what a perfect birth it was.

They marveled at how calm and “unafraid” I was,

How I “roared” my baby earthside.

I’ve ached in that lie for a while now,

Lost in their awe and my own despair.

What they didn’t know is that

While they were calling me calm and unafraid,

I was facing the endless exile of humanity

With trepidation, anger, and despair.

While they were resting and calm,

My head bowed over the water’s edge

And realized nothing will save me.

This is an effect of original sin.

My husband leaves every morning for hours,

Like so many other husbands.

He’s far away, but not as far as many others;

I’m not blind to my own privilege.

He feels so far away to me though,

A piece of my heart leaves with him,

And the hole aches inside of me.

But, “the man shall work…

and the woman will long for her man.”

They tell me, “it could be so much worse,”

My own voices, and others sometimes,

And I know they are right.

I am lucky to be alive, lucky for my family,

Blessed even.

But they are missing the point.

It’s not about my pain being so horrible,

It’s about pain being horrible.

It’s not that my struggles are the worst,

It’s that they are the least.

It’s not a little pain,

It’s the largest pain there is.

It’s the anger, it’s the fear, it’s the hope,

In the face of a God who will not relent.

Or sometimes won’t. It depends….

On what?

On His mood? On my merit?

If God shall number our sins,

“Lord, who can stand,”

But if God does not hear our merits,

Lord, who can stand that either.

Eve may have fallen, and so have we,

But we have also begged you to return.

We have made you king.

We have fallen again and gotten lost

In this terrifying world you have created,

But we have come back to you and we have begged you to return,

No more to go away.

But you won’t hear us, Lord.

Please forgive me, my anger Lord,

My heart breaks over nothing, I know.

My heart breaks for the whole world,

I cry for days over a 6 month old boy I never met,

I break in half over a family who loses their father and almost their mother.

I shatter over shootings, over bombs, over countries, over worlds,

That cry out like violent small humans for your help.

Oh God see us in our weakness and have mercy on us.

We are so desperate for your love we are destroying each other,

God, we want you in your fullness,

We just don’t know it yet,

Have mercy on our misguided attempts to find you.

Reveal yourself, and hold us until we stop crying,

Like a mother with a flailing infant,

Hold us in our fear, despair, rage,

While I kick my legs against you and scream,

Hold me and receive my tears,

Understand that I am lost in your exile,

And I just want You to come home.

Today is a Marathon, not a Sprint

I’m going to tell you about my favorite mom secret. The way I handle the days when everything is falling apart and you don’t even want to open your eyes, let alone run after toddlers all day long. It started when I was pregnant with my youngest and exhausted from HG. Willow and I would curl into a ball together on the couch and watch ‘The Chew.’ She snuggled her head into me and held my arm around her. They were these perfect quiet moments in the midst of chaos. Sage has not quite picked this cuddle habit up yet, but the idea remains the same. My motto for those days is “Today is a marathon, not a sprint.”

Monday should have been one of those days. I woke up heavy-lidded 3 hours early wanting nothing more than to crash back to sleep. I was determined to be better than what I had in me that day, inner me had a whip and was not afraid to use it. I can almost hear her even now, “GO! Make an omelette! Clean everything! You’re disgusting why is it dirty? Why aren’t you playing with the girls better? DO IT ALL RIGHT NOOOOWWW!!!” And you know what? I did. I rocked Monday. We played board games, we cleaned, we ate fancy all day, we worked out….twice, we did the laundry(we read books.)

Then, came Tuesday. I was angry and hopeless. I hated everything. I was so tired I did not even want to move and the kids touching me made my skin crawl because all I wanted was to sleep. In true waterfall fashion, all the stresses of Monday and Tuesday fell onto Wednesday evening ending me up in tears that bled over to the 4 am wake up. I have officially declared an emergency marathon not a sprint day, to make up for the two that should have been.

Runners talk often about the difference between a marathon and a sprint. In a sprint, you go all out as fast as you can because it’s such a short distance, but if you are running a marathon, you run at a slower, steady pace acknowledging that you need to preserve energy. Sometimes, as moms, we need to take a minute and rest, refuse to hold that against ourselves and allow ourselves to breathe and heal. We hold ourselves to such a high standard of working constantly on whatever the next task is, but it is so important to stop to hear our own thoughts and voice inside and catch up with ourselves. Just as runners run slow and steady when the course is long, we need to slow down sometimes because ours is even longer. Our marathon is 18 years long, and that cries out for slow and steady.

So, if you need to take a second to breathe for a day, slow your pace. Motherhood is always running, so take a break from everything unnecessary. Watch too much tv, lay around on the couch for a day, eat makeshift meals(the kids will probably like them better anyway.) Let things go a little bit. Then, when you have gotten through the marathon, build yourself back up, drink some water, take a breath, and get back up.

I hope you have a great day, and if it is a marathon day, I wish you well, and I’ll see you in the trenches. ♥️♥️

Also, for anyone who thought I was a parenting expert about 30 seconds after I wrote this I found my toddlers with my special birthday markers and theyrepeatedly tore their diapers off. I did not keep my cool.

#justbreathe #Todayisamarathonnotasprint

The Hierarchy of Suffering

This meme has been going around like wildfire lately. It expresses the common idea that the way not to judge others for their struggles is to think that maybe they are not as strong as you are. On the surface, the intention is great. The idea is to encourage people not to judge others’ suffering. Every time I see it though, or hear someone express the idea it visualizes, I get so frustrated about the more subtle issue with this idea.

In the picture, one dog is smaller than the other dog. There’s nothing wrong with that, he’s a Jack Russell terrier, they are meant to be smaller than a Golden Retriever. Of course, the mud comes up much farther on the Jack Russell Terrier than it does on the Golden Retriever because the Golden is taller. In the same way, many people comfort others who compare their struggles to others saying, “Maybe God gave you this cross because you are strong enough to carry it,” “Maybe she just couldn’t handle what you are going through,” and other variants of you-must-be-stronger-than-them-because-their-struggle-is-smaller-than-yours. That’s where I struggle.

There is this idea that there is a hierarchy of suffering. My dislocated elbow is not as intense as my friends breast cancer, my post-partum depression is worse than someone else’s anxiety, etc etc and so on. It leads to a kind of competition about suffering. There are real life consequences to this competition-who gets taken care of in a hospital, who is allowed to talk about their struggles, who doesn’t get judged for being tired, who gets help from friends or the Church. To be fair, we live in a world of limited resources, so to a certain extent this can be avoided, and to a certain extent there is a hierarchy of suffering, no one would argue that a paper cut or a dislocated elbow is as bad as cancer.

However, I do think that the hierarchy of suffering is much more complicated than we might think. There are so many unknown factors that go into suffering that sometimes a seemingly small thing can be monumental and something really big can be nothing. When I had a placental abruption and ended up in the hospital terrified that my baby and I were going to die and then went through a terrifying labor, it was honestly far less terrifying than the experience I had with my dislocated elbow, as ironic as that is. Recovering from the elbow has been actually much more difficult than recovering from what should have been a much more difficult trauma.

The reason for this is that there are countless factors that contribute to how intense pain and suffering feels. Researchers are finding more and more just how many things affect how the brain perceives pain. There are whole industries and books based on all the different ways we can affect the pain in our bodies.

As far as my example above about birth vs. my elbow, there are some big obvious differences. I got a baby out of the equation, not so with my elbow. I did fear for my life in a way I didn’t need to with my elbow. However, I DID fear for my life with my elbow, because I have already been struggling with Post Partum Anxiety that has been debilitating, and I wasn’t struggling with that as intensely during labor. This was not helped by the fact that when I fell I was actively praying, and it seemed like an answer to a prayer, which felt like God was a God of wrath who hated me, sending me into a terrified circle of spiritual crisis that haunted me the whole night, while the doctors and nurses encouraged me with prayer during labor.

Another huge difference is the care I got. When I went to the hospital for my placental abruption, I had been reading Hypnobabies which works really hard on preparing women to communicate with their doctors. Because of that I was able to communicate my anxiety and physical worries in a rational way, and did not feel guilty for forcing doctors and nurses to stop and listen to me if I felt like they were rushing. On top of that though, immediately when I got to the hospital, the nurses attending heard my requests and needs and did their best to meet them, even when they were silly. When I dislocated my elbow, the nurse immediately denied every request I had, rolled her eyes at me, and communicated her annoyance to a doctor who came to help. No other nurses came in contact with me until much later.

I believe the care I got for my elbow is a consequence of exactly what I am discussing in this post. A dislocated or broken elbow is nothing in the grand scheme of things. I am aware of that. I am aware that much much worse things happen to people every day. But the care I got reminded me of that every second of my struggle. Every second I felt reminded me, “you don’t matter because it’s not your femur, it’s not cancer, it’s not blood.”

I was also dehydrated, hungry and away from my baby while breastfeeding. All things I didn’t realize until much later, but that are probably the explanation for the random cold sweats and hormonal shifts that turned into panic attacks that plagued me all night on top of everything else, and probably made the care I got worse because the nurses couldn’t see what was happening so it just looked like anxiety to them.

When I dislocated my elbow, I had a veritable cocktail of things that are known to make pain worse, while during labor I had many that are known to make it better. On the surface and on paper the elbow should be nothing. Anyone comparing the two would have said that labor was worse, but after the traumatic labor I was joyful and relieved and felt invincible; after my elbow I felt that there was no hope in life, angry, and worthless.

My point is that what someone’s suffering looks like on the outside may be nothing compared to what it looks like on the inside. The assumption that someone’s pain is not as intense as yours, or you are just stronger than they are dismisses the fact that you have no idea what is going on in their story. You have no idea what is making their pain worse or better or different than yours. I think it’s comforting to us to feel like our pain is better than someone else’s because then our needs deserve to get validated, but that’s just part of the competition. We need to feel like our pain is enough to be worth taking care of, so we have to put down other peoples because it highlights how bad our own pain is. The problem is that that affects how we take care of the other person, and how we view them, as well as how we describe their problem to others and help them to get help. Their suffering grows and our need to justify our own gets more intense too.

I want to live in a world where we recognize that everyone’s suffering matters. In the Gospel, when Jesus was carrying His cross, about to be murdered in arguably the most monstrous way possible, He stopped to talk to weeping women. He told them not to weep for Him, but for their children. I have heard some say that He is telling them to weep for sins, but the way He says it tells me that isn’t the case. I believe He was genuinely expressing compassion for the suffering that women experience, while He was on the road that we would say is the worst suffering imaginable. I would like a world where everyone does that, where everyone accepts that we are all on an unimaginably and sometimes unbearable journey, where we accept our own suffering and that of others as worthy of healing, no matter what it is, where we acknowledge that our struggles do not make us better or worse than anyone else, just different. Then, we would have a spirit of sorrow for everyone’s tears even if we didn’t understand why it was so hard. We could show the same amount of compassion for someone who had to wait at the DMV as someone who got crushed in a car accident. We could heal all the big hurts and all the little ones too.

I’m not LGBTQ, but I don’t Belong Either

https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/voices/2019/08/18/churches-need-less-tradition-more-flexibility-welcome-teens-column/2011731001/

This article and others like it have been posted and talked about on my online and in person Catholic groups over and over again. There’s always a couple of people kindly talking about it and then the avalanche of more traditional Catholics who start mocking the author and saying, “Oh they just want the Church to be open to whatever, be ok with doing anything, anything goes, they just don’t like rules.” It’s so frustrating to me because they get so caught up on deciding that this girl is a sinner and therefore shouldn’t get to belong in the Church, in their eyes, that they forget that this girl is a PERSON, and God loves people.

Catholicism is not an exclusive club for the perfect people, though it is often treated that way. I think a lot of people like the idea that they are the people who are “right” they are “God’s people” and everyone else is wrong. There is something liberating to that, I get it, that makes you one of the ones making it through the narrow gate, as it says in Scripture, and “they” are the evil ones.

Let me just come forward now and say, I always felt like I didn’t belong. I wasn’t doing something wrong. I wasn’t a bad kid. I was a praying the rosary daily, offering it up, making sacrifices, going to Mass, and being kind kid, teenager, adult. I was M-I-S-E-R-A-B-L-E. I was terrified of doing something wrong and God would hate me, I was shunned in multiple Christian groups, once for a rumor because I quoted a sex joke on MySpace-so that all made all rumors about me true, once because I danced at Homecoming(no I didn’t grind but that’s what everyone thought), once because they thought I was on birth control, when I had really had miscarriages. I was HATED by the Church no matter how hard I tried to do things right.

I cannot tell you how many times I have raged about what a horrible place the Catholic Church is, and I am not one of the people who are just made because they don’t want to follow the rules. Stop blaming it on some public sin, or then not being good enough. The Church, as it stands right now, is not a welcoming place. There are Churches that are welcoming, there are a few groups that are welcoming, but they are few and far between and the hurt we are causing is monstrous.

The Church has a huge power, and that is to connect people with God, or to disconnect them from Him. My friends are falling away because they do not feel welcome or loved. I have wanted to fall away because I often do not feel welcome or loved. At my amazing Alma Mater, Ave Maria University, I met people who taught me that God is love, and He wants us unconditionally, and any rules He makes for us are to help us to live better lives. That God is a God who finds ways to heal people whether it is in Mass or not, He finds ways to help people, even if it’s a walk in nature. That is the God St. Paul talked about in Scripture when he talked about “easing burdens” for the people.

If it were not for that experience, and some that I am happy to be having right now, I would not be Catholic anymore. I would have run as far away from the Church as I can. Instead, I cling to what I can find of the God I recognize as a God of love, and I try to bring Him to others. I do not shame the people I know who have left because I have felt their pain, and I have seen how they have been hurt. And, for better or worse, I point out what the Church is doing wrong, because I pray and hope that one day Gods mercy and love will be what people think of when they think of the Church, and not anger and hate.

Mother Teresa, who ministered to all faiths, and saw the pain humanity is in, pray for us.

Yes, The World Needs God, But Not Like That

A couple of weeks ago, there was a shooting in Texas that just devastated me. A couple days before I watched The Hate You Give, which rocked me as well. Both of these events are on the heels of, and preceding so many horrible tragedies and fearful events happening all over they world lately. I find myself desperate for God’s love to be present in our culture. However, I immediately feel guilty and annoyed at this sentiment, which then makes me feel guilty and annoyed for feeling guilty and annoyed at that. I caught myself thinking at one point, “The world just needs God,” and immediately rolled my eyes at myself. That phrase is one I have heard a thousand times, and it’s one that makes me instantly angry and I disagree with, even though I technically agree with the sentiment.

The problem with the phrase “The World Needs God” is that most people who use this phrase mean it in a very particular way. “The World Needs God” means that the world needs people who believe the same thing I believe, teach the way I teach. Mostly, what it really means is “the world needs people who follow all the rules I believe in.”

In my experience, the people who use this phrase are often the same ones who talk about how “the homosexuals are taking over” and they are going “ruin the family” or are hateful towards mothers who are thinking about abortion, or who are unkind to a woman because her skirt is one inch too short. What they mean by “The World Needs God” has nothing to do with who God is as a person, and everything to do with who they believe He demands every person to be. These are the same people who talk about how the Church is getting smaller and that’s a good thing because all the lukewarm people are being weeded out.

What I mean when I say “The World Needs God” is something very different than the above. What I mean when I say it, is that the world needs UNCONDITIONAL LOVE. The world needs a force of love and acceptance that heals wounds on contact. The world needs tenderness, thoughtfulness, kindness, respect, and love. The world needs something that is more powerful than itself that can radically help people suffering in an unkind world. When I say “The World Needs God” I mean it in a desperate plea for an outpouring of love and mercy that can heal the hurts that are far too big for any one person to heal.

I’ve had many eyes rolled at me for making this distinction. “Oh but rules are important too.” Sure. Yes. How we act is important. But what did Jesus do when He came? Did He come down and look for people doing wrong so He could make them feel bad about themselves every day? Do you think He would’ve been invited to dine with the sinners every night if He had? He talked to people about sin when they hurt others, or when they already knew what they needed to change. Far more than that, He worked miracles in their lives, He touched people, He was kind to people when no one else would be kind to them.

What would the world look like if Christians stopped talking about who doesn’t belong and who’s not good enough and started letting everyone know that God wants them? What if we looked for the abandoned and lonely and told them they were worthy? What if we healed people, touched people, embraced people? What if we were happier with a loud bustling Church than a quiet perfectly fine Mass?

I have seen churches where this happens and it changes everything.

So yes, the world needs God, but not a God who only shames every person who comes to Him. The world needs Jesus who loves people where they are at, and guides them tenderly to their best self.

T.H.U.G.L.I.F.E.

The

Hate

U

Give

Little

Infants

Fucks

Everyone.

-Tupac

Last night, I tried to watch The Hate U Give, the emotional true story of a black girl who watches her friend get killed by a police officer. Later, she is called to testify, but I haven’t gotten that far, because I had to take a break. (White privilege is that I was able to take a break.) The above line T.H.U.G.L.I.F.E. is discussed just minutes before the shooting happens.

The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everyone.

This phrase resonates in my soul and it has taken up residence in my heart as a truth so powerful I almost can’t handle it, representing an anger in me that is boundless. For the last week, the image of the children of immigrants that got left at daycare because their parents were taken by ICE has been indelibly burned into my consciousness. There is also the image of black children being told by their parents how to act when a policeman comes so that they don’t get shot. Then, there’s the image of children wearing bulletproof backpacks so they have protection if there is a school shooting.

People call millennials entitled, but what does it do to a person to grow up with the fears we have? We watched as thousands of people died in New York City when we were little, and we were barraged with news coverage about the two kids who shot up Columbine. What will happen to the children that are suffering now? What does it do to a person to lose their parents to the government? What does it do to watch your child die because they went to Walmart?

The Hate U Give The Little Infants.

Our little ones are suffering in ways that are unimaginable. It is unbearable for me to even think of what is happening to them, the constant undercurrent of fear that must be crying out in their bones, and then all the people who are silent or who turn a blind eye, or say, “It’s not that bad!” If one child was abandoned because their parents suddenly disappeared, that is too many. If one child died in a shooting, that is too many. If one child saw the news coverage of any of this, and has to know they live in a world like this, that is too many.

The pain will come back to us. It already has in some ways. Our hope(as a country) is depleted, our children suffer from anxiety, our lives feel without meaning sometimes. We sit still while people are being hurt in unimaginable ways. I know we can’t spend every moment of our lives trying to fix every evil, but there are some really big evils going on, are we doing anything at all to fix them?

Depression and The Boundaries Book

I started to read a book called “Boundaries” a couple of months ago. I had bought it a long time before that, but I hadn’t read it. I was nervous because I have talked to several people who were very callous and used this book as their excuse, but I have also talked to others who say it changed their life. Now that I’m actively reading it, although slowly, I have to say I understand why.

“Boundaries” is simultaneously comforting and terrifying for me. Te first time I read it, I had a legit panic attack that I am such a worthless human being who does nothing but take from others and I have nothing to give and I don’t deserve to live. That’s dramatic, but honestly, it was kind of dramatic. I got so lost in the way they break down how much help to take and not take, and grew terrified that I take too much, or not enough, and I talk about my problems too much but not in the right way, etc, etc, etc.

The basic thesis of the book is that it is ok to set boundaries, and say “No” to someone who violates them. It gives Biblical support for that which is incredibly necessary for Christians especially who are taught to “Give until it hurts.” It was comforting in some ways to hear that I don’t have to just always give in, and it’s ok to take care of my needs too. I needed that. However, it is a hard time for me to be reading the book, because I hate needing help, and I am in a season on life where it seems like no matter how hard I try not to, I need more and more of it.

My senior year in college, I went through what I now know must have been an incredibly severe period of depression. I had nightmares, a weird kind of sleep paralysis, anxiety, thoughts of worthlessness, and at the same time, I lost many of my friends to a crazy whirlwind of drama. Meanwhile, I was writing my thesis about Hell, so that was great. Every time I tried to talk to anyone about what was going on, it seemed like they would stop talking to me. I had very few friends left by the end, and I still treasure every single one of them for sticking with me.

One Sunday, at a household meeting(for those who don’t know, households are a religious version of a sorority, basically) I broke down. I started sobbing in the middle of the meeting(and I was leading it so that was bad.) I ran out of the meeting and collapsed in tears on the floor. No, I don’t know why I broke down on the floor instead of the perfectly good bed next to me. Maybe the cold felt good on my body, sad people do weird things. Minutes later, a couple of my sisters came in and they listened to my story. Really listened. They heard out what was happening throughout my year. I will never forget what one of them said.

“Why didn’t you tell us?”

I will never forget that, because I DID. I told them, over and over and over again. I tried my hardest, but I couldn’t get across what was happening. I couldn’t express the magnitude of what was going on in a five minute conversation, and I was paralyzed by the feeling that they were done with me because I was talking about my hard time.

This book has brought that feeling back to me over and over again in the last few months. I will read one page and feel like a monster for talking about my feelings, while the next page, I feel like maybe I need to be better about sharing them. I just keep thinking about that moment, I felt so alone, and even though I had tried to tell them, no one knew.

I think this is a problem for mental health issues. People get annoyed if others “complain too much,” or are “Debbie-downers” or “sad all the time,” and I get it! It is so hard to be happy when you are around others who are not. There is even self-help advice to stay away from these people, and murky psychological articles accusing them of being narcissists, or energy vampires. Of course, I am not saying these people do not exist, but I do think that people who are genuinely struggling may sometimes look the same as a narcissist or energy vampire or just a downer. What happens though, when someone is just genuinely having a hard time for a long period of time? What if someone is just grieving and they aren’t feeling better yet?

The point of the book isn’t just about talking about feelings, but it is an example of the things that has been hardest for me. The author uses two images to demonstrate when to ask for help and when not to. It’s ok to ask for help when you are carrying a large boulder, but when it is just a backpack, you can carry that yourself-the backpack symbolizes daily struggles. What happens though, when the daily struggles feel like a boulder, like they do with depression/anxiety/grief/whatever?

How do we decide when someone is upset “too often” or “too long” or “too much” or “too upset?” How does someone struggling with this know when they are upset too long/too much/too often/too upset? I had a huge wake up call to this a couple weeks ago when I took a hormone balancing medicine and all of a sudden the whole world was a different place. I spoke with hope, I believed in things again, I was able to focus on other people. Unfortunately, the medicine had tons of side effects, so my search for something better continues, but it was literally a night and day difference. I felt like someone had taken a blindfold off of me. How does someone in that kind of fog for any reason figure out how much upset-ness is too much for everyone around them, and yet still express how bad what is going on is?

So, I struggle with this book. I really do. I know, and appreciate, what it’s trying to do, but I also know what it feels like to be told everything is ok and you need to handle it yourself when you are screaming out and begging for help. I also know what it feels like to swallow pain so hard you think you will die from it, and that is a dangerous mess I refuse to start up again.

I guess what I’m saying is, if you struggle with depression/anxiety/grief/sadness, please don’t hold it in because you are afraid no one wants to hear it. Even if some people don’t, some do, and you may not know who they are, so keep going until you find them. If you know someone who is struggling, please be patient with them. You may not know how bad what they are going through really is, and you may not know how badly they want to fix it.

I Need to Calm Down: Weight Loss Angry Day

I am so angry.

This week I hopped on the scale to see that I had gained pretty much all of the weight I had lost back. Seriously?? After all of this time? What was the point of any of it if I’m back at this? My BMI was back up by a full point, and my muscle was down. I started to do my inches and I just gave up, “Nope, I am not putting myself through this.”

I rested on it a little while and everything felt a little more stressful all day. I survived the day though and I started to realize. I didn’t gain EVERYTHING back. I gained some weight back yes, but considering that from when I started I had two pregnancies and ended up even heavier than I had ever been, but got it back down, That’s incredible. I started to slow down a little bit and take some time to give myself some credit.

Here’s a list of my achievements:

I have still lost 32.5 inches. It is not as amazing as the 60 I originally had lost, but that is still a lot! Especially if you consider what else I have done in the last couple of years. I had 2 pregnancies, and not just normal pregnancies but pregnancies where I was super sick and under a great deal of stress. We moved-THREE TIMES, changed jobs twice, lost the higher income paycheck to me becoming a stay at home mom, and all of this while dealing with severe anxiety and depression made worse by hormones that are skyrocketing and plummeting constantly.

Plus, there are a lot of mitigating factors to my numbers. Ok, my boobs are bigger, I AM BREASTFEEDING SO FREAKING DUH! They are STILL less than they originally were, and that is awesome! I got them down way small before they had to hold the morning noon and night buffet! (I love breastfeeding but it does add inches, lol)

Also, my weight? I went way up when I was pregnant with Sage! And managed to get it all the way back down to AGAIN?! In a year? While breastfeeding and raising two toddlers and under ridiculous amounts of stress? That’s pretty awesome.

Even still, some of those measurements were really exciting measurements to improve.

That difference on my calves made the difference between me buying regular or wide calf boots.

The inches on my hips made it to where I can shop in stores now for my pants and shorts, I don’t have to order online anymore.

The two inches on my arm got rid of a lot of the flabbiness that drove me crazy.

Also, I GOT TO MY GOALS. This year, I got a Victoria’s Secret pajama set! I didn’t like the fabric so I returned them, but I FIT IN IT. I was able to shop in stores for the clothes I wanted. I still am. In fact the shorts I bought in Target are now too big and I need new smaller ones. My body has completely changed over and over again and I am still better off than I was.

Biggest of all, I achieved a goal that I didn’t think was possible. I balanced my hormones enough to have two babies. That is a huge enormous deal for me. My babies lived. ❤

Time to set new goals, but those are some pretty amazing goals to have achieved.

5 Steps to Take When the Baby Steps Seem Too Big

This week, I wanted to give up on Dave Ramsey so bad. I was so done and hopeless feeling I wanted to pull out the credit card and just spend it all. I’m a free spirit and spending as little as possible to put as much as possible towards debt and towards our future needs wears on me. I just want to spend with reckless abandon, but that’s exactly what I am learning not to do. I love spontaneity and hate planning, and I am learning to have a plan. I want to run free and go play and do whatever I want, but my poor wild heart has a lot of constraints on it right now, not just from Dave Ramsey, but from being a relatively new mom, from living with my parents, from being low income, from not having my own car, from helping Patrick do work and school, and from recovering from HG. (Wow, writing that is kind of comforting. No wonder I’m having a hard time!) It is a lot to be doing at once. In fact, I read an article on Dave Ramsay’s site that said it was ok to stop if you are in a big life transition, and we are in about 5 big life transitions. I have no plan of stopping, but it was nice to hear that even Dave would understand what we are up against. Anyway, the point is, I was crushed under the weight of it all this week, and I was convinced there was no point in working this hard because it will never get better.
To be fair, I am not completely out from under it yet because this week’s stresses are still there. However, I am working on pulling back out of it, and I thought I would share some things that help me when I feel like I cannot go on.

1. PRAY! I know some people will struggle with this step but Dave Ramsey teaches that financial peace only comes through the “Prince of Peace.” There was time in our journey when it seemed like everything was falling apart, it seemed like everything we had done was for nothing. I listened to Dave on the radio, and he said that line about the Prince of Peace. I realized we had been missing the whole point of FPU. I went back to the prayer that started us on this journey, and I offered my fear to God. Ever since then, when things get bad, I stop(or if Patrick is with me we stop) and we say that prayer. It’s not magic, manna doesn’t fall from the sky every time, but every time we have experienced enough grace to pull out of the anxiety spiral, and eventually, to figure out how to fix the problem. Sometimes, manna really does fall from heaven.

2. Take a Technology Break-My brain gets so buzzy from being on social media and reading all of the reasons why it’s not ok that I’m having a hard time, and all the reasons that it all is, what my life should look like, how many people have died, how much else I should be doing, who I should actually be instead of me, and whatever people think is wrong with me. Sometimes, it is time to just step away for a little bit, and get a chance to move around, breathe fresh air, whatever else you need to do to be ok.

2. Give Credit Where it’s Due. Quiet your mind for long enough to think about the good you have already done. Maybe even have some sort of ritual to be account for it. I redesign our tracking sheets periodically because actually writing out where we have been vs. where we are now is pretty amazing. Once, I thought we had done nothing at all, and we were making no progress, but then I was able to see that we had in fact paid down $3000 of our debt, on top of saving our emergency fund!

3. What is The Lesson. One thing Dave Ramsey is teaching me is how to give myself grace while still taking responsibility for my actions. This week, the lesson was, we have to get better about planning for the future. I started to downward spiral into despair and beating myself up about not doing it, but don’t do that. You are still learning, and you are going to mess up. This is not an easy lesson to learn, but it’s worth it. Don’t Quit.

4. Rest Most of the time when I am feeling this way, it is because we have been overly stressed about other things and it has dominoed into our financial life. Spend some time in quiet, or quality time with the family, or whatever is free and recharges you. It makes a huge difference.

5. Do Something About It Once you have rested(and NOT before), take some time to do something about whatever it is you are worried about. If you need some extra money, figure out how you are going to make it, or where you can look at the budget again to retool it, sometimes I go back and the problem I thought was there actually isn’t at all. If things are not going fast enough, do something that will make you money in the future, work on your big money dreams if you have them-for me it’s my blog writing and my screenwriting. When I am in these downward spirals, I stop working on this stuff, which is ridiculous because these are my dream for changing everything. Once I go back to them though, I remember that we are planting seeds for the future even if it seems like they are too small to mean anything.

Once I have followed each of these steps, it is amazing to see how much everything can improve. The heart of Dave Ramsey’s teaching is to become a person who lives by faith and not by fear, and doing each of these things transforms my heart everytime. I am so grateful for the little steps we are taking even though I am not patient and they seem like nothing. I pray one day we will look back in awe at what a difference we made when we gave our little seeds to God’s hands.

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