Gun Violence? Let’s Put a Band-Aid On It

I was 8 when I shot my first rabbit. 9 when I shot my first deer.

I am the product of a proud hunting, gun-owning family.

Hunting and shooting were actually a part of our holiday traditions growing up.

That being said, I am also a mom. I daily send my 4 little loves to public school.

Now a days it feels like I send them unprotected.

Until recently, my boys truly thought that if a “bad guy” came to school with a gun, that all they would have to do is kick him in the “boy parts” and then they could jump on him. Or that they could boobie trap him Home Alone style and then all would be well.

They thought this way until we took them hunting.

Until they saw first hand the destruction that a gun can do. Until they witnessed a life being taken. An easy target.

Now they know it is real.

Most days it feels like there is no solution to the violence.

And honestly, sadly, I am not sure there is a solution.

One side cries “gun control!” And “if you don’t agree, then you are EVIL.”

The other side cries “look at Chicago.” And “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” And “mental health.”

So. Much. Shouting.

But no answers.

My kids learned their “self-defense” from Home Alone.

What if violence is learned from movies, or video games?

Much like physical health is decided by the food we consume, could a part of our mental health be decided by what our eyes consume?

One thing I don’t understand. While the “#metoo” movement is underway, Hollywood is still bulk producing and glorifying sexual “me too” moments in their videos.

While we are having a gun violence issue, companies are still bulk producing realistic violent games or shows.

And kids are consuming those things.

Do we have a mental health problem?
Yes.

Do we have a lack of kindness problem?
Yes.

Do we have a bullying problem?
Yes.

Do we have a gun problem?
Yes.

Do we have a media consumption problem?
Yes.

Do we have a lack of compassion problem?
Yes.

Lots of problems.

And guys, this gun owner will agree with you that maybe gun control should be looked at.

But so should many other things.

I remember when he was 3, my youngest begged for a Band-Aid because his lips were chapped. Because Band-Aids fix everything.

Except when they don’t. Band-Aids won’t fix strep throat, or allergies, or cancer. They only cover the wounds that we see. They don’t heal the wounds that are inside.

The government can’t “fix” this for us by passing a law. That would be just like putting a Band-Aid on a cancer that is much deeper than what we can see. We can’t depend on politicians or celebrities to save us from ourselves. They can’t.

We have a heart issue.

Only Jesus can heal our hearts.

And a good starting place for fixing that is at home, as families, by parents teaching kindness and love, and the value of human life. All human life. And to teach our boys the importance of building over destroying.

In the words of my 7 year old when asked “How can you help keep someone from becoming bad and doing bad things?”

“Be nice to them.”

Be nice.

It’s the best place to start.

Today I Rocked You


Today, I rocked you.

And as I sit here looking at your rosy cheeks, and long eyelashes, listening to each sweet smelling breath you take, I wonder- Was it all worth it?

Was choosing to be a stay at home mom worth it?

Was finishing college only to be isolated to the house worth it?

Was living through poverty, and at the end of each month only having crackers, peanut butter, and bananas to feed you worth it?

Was feeling alone while battling and overcoming depression worth it?

Was being exhausted, pregnant and desperate for rest, and resorting to daily building a pallet blockade to lay on as an effort to keep your 4 year old and 2 year old twin brothers barricaded in one room all worth it?

I know there was laundry. And crying. And diapers. A lot of diapers. There was fighting and messes and a lot of watching other people do the “fun stuff,” knowing that we couldn’t afford it. There was the no internet and no TV years.

But instead of lingering on the hard memories, I choose to remember the good.

It was worth it.  It was all worth it.

Instead of just the memory of you dumping an entire bottle of shampoo on the playroom floor, I choose to remember the giggles that I heard while you “ice skated” in it.

I choose to remember the pride in your eyes as you showed me your “makeup” AKA fingernail polish on your eyelids.

I choose to remember the playdates. Where I would go for my once a month adult interaction with other girls who became friends.

I choose to remember your excitement when you did the monkey bars for the first time.

I choose to remember the picnics, the cuddles, the adventures, the mud fights, and the bike rides.

I choose to remember the giggles, the first steps, the spontaneous swim toys in the bathtub, and “let’s make cookies” moments.

To remember the puzzles and books and fingerpaint pictures. And to remember hearing you lead church service for your stuffed animals.

Right now, less than a week away from your 4th birthday, I feel these days slowly slipping away, and I find myself holding on tighter.

To the memories.

And reminding myself that today it’s ok to rock you. Because all too soon these days of rocking you will become mere memories.

Choose out of love. Not out of fear.

Fear.

Such a powerful emotion isn’t it?

And if you’re caught in an unplanned pregnancy, fear may be strong enough to take your breath away.

Fear of how to financially provide.

Fear of what a baby will do to your future, to your plans, to your body.

Fear of judgement.

And believe me. I’ve been there. I understand.

I was a jobless, unmarried, poor, college teenager, and pregnant with a baby that had a birth defect.

I could have made a choice that would allow me to continue on with my dreams, that would allow me to not go through life changing events like marriage and motherhood.

But I chose life.

I was faced with the choice of marrying a man I loved, years before I thought I would be ready for that commitment.

Knowing that the baby who sped up our marriage plans was sick and might not make it.

But I still chose life.

And I can’t tell you how thankful I am.

Watching my baby fight for his life, and fighting with him through prayer made me stronger than I ever could have imagined.

Going through it and leaning on my husband, who I felt like was the only person who understood, strengthened our marriage in ways I never could have imagined.

Choosing life in the face of heartache is a passion for me. I understand the fear, the pain, and the unknown. I understand.

And I also understand that choosing life was one of the best things that has ever happened to me.

All life has purpose, has value, all life is God-breathed. From the plants and trees, to the animals, to the elderly in the nursing homes, to the special needs adults, to the preemie babies.

To the unhealthy baby growing in his teenage mommas tummy. All life is important.

Rich or poor, young or old, sick or healthy, born or unborn. Life has value.

I can not imagine the thought of never knowing my baby boy. I look at him and my heart breaks at the thought of so many who would not choose him.

I know that I can not force you to chose life.

But momma, please know this. Your baby WILL be a blessing. To someone. You can choose to let that sweet baby be a blessing in your home. Or you can choose to let that sweet baby be a blessing in someone else’s home. Regardless, your baby is a blessing.

So if you find yourself faced with a choice, please please don’t let your heart choose out of fear, but instead choose out of love.

*If you are a momma and have chosen out of fear, know this. There is one whose love, grace, and forgiveness can cover you, and me, and everyone else.

**This article is revised from the original post here.

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Before You Were Mom

Marriage.

It’s pretty tough sometimes isn’t it?

A lot of decisions.
Negotiating.
Hard discussions. And fun ones too.
Dreams.
Honesty.
Forgiveness. A lot of forgiveness.

Girls, when the days are long and you’re going through the trenches of toddlers or up all night with a newborn- or up all night worried for your teenager, don’t forget who you are. Who he fell in love with.

Don’t forget your flirty smile and the way you would laugh at his not so funny jokes. Don’t forget sneaking him a note and chocolate bar. Or sending him a text just to say hi. How you made sure he felt appreciated and needed.
Remember how he fell in love with your passion. Your joy. Your smile.
And be that girl, still.
Remember, before you were momma, you were his first.

And guys, don’t forget her. Don’t forget to love her. How you won her heart. And keep winning her heart. Continue dating her long after she has a ring on her finger.
When the days are long and you come home from work only to find her still in her pajamas, with smeared make up and covered in spit up, find beauty in her warrior body. And tell her. She won’t listen, but she needs to hear.

Remember telling her those silly jokes just to hear her laugh. And how you would brag about your high school days so that you could hear her voice on the other end of the phone.

Watch as the love that fills her heart is being poured out over your children. And know that she loves you still. And one day, all too soon, it will just be the two of you again.

Your quality time may come in the form of conversation when you are in a car and the kids are strapped down. Your time to talk may only be a 5 minute phone call during the babies nap. It may be on the drive to watch a football game or dance recital. And that’s ok.

Dream. Together. Make goals and celebrate when you achieve them.

Follow where God is leading. And listen to His still small voice. Because one day you will look back and ask yourselves “how did we make it through that?” And the answer will be grace. God’s grace.
Enjoy the adventure.

Presence

If you could pick one word as your theme for the new year, what would it be?

Mine would be presence.

I want to be here. I want to see. I want to notice.

I want to put Facebook down and put a smile on my face when I’m in a waiting room.

I want to truly see the person on the other side of the table. The person laying in bed next to me. The girl working down the hall from me. The sorrow of a friend. The excitement of a family member. The need of a stranger.

I want to be present for my kids. Not just physically, but emotionally, spiritually, and psychologically.

I want my presence to be more than just the location of my body. I want my heart present too.

I don’t want my kids to only see the top of my head as I engulf myself in my phone. I want them to see my eyes. For them to know my ears are listening.

True presence happens when we turn off our electronics and focus on the people behind them.

 

 

I want to be present in His word, and in prayer. I want to be present in the lives of others so that I know what to pray for.

And maybe, more than anything, I want to make myself more aware of His presence, of His creation, His beauty, and His love.

The Shoes You Never Got to Wear

I wish I had more to remember you by. But all I have is a pair of shoes.

They were your shoes.

I bought them for you.

I still remember buying them and placing them on top of the cookie cake that I gave to your daddy to surprise him.

I have a video of his reaction.

I kept your shoes in my closet for over a year after you left. They were the only physical reminder of you that I had. But I couldn’t pull them out.

I like to think about your little toes and precious fingers. Would your sweet feet even have worn those shoes? Or would we have bought you pretty sparkle shoes instead? I like to think that you would have worn pink and not blue.

We used those shoes for pictures when I was pregnant with your little brother. I hope you don’t mind. Your shoes make those pictures an extra bit of special.

I also hope you don’t mind that I let your little brother wear your shoes a couple of times before tucking them back away, in my closet.

When I think of you, I am overcome with love and hope. But also with grief and heartbreak.

Grief for that young mom 5 years ago, who knew what was coming but who was praying that it wouldn’t. Who felt so completely alone in her pain. Whose arms were left empty.
I grieve for her fear as she wasn’t sure what to expect. For her challenge to pull through the pain and continue to be a mom to her other babies.

I grieve for the moms of many other babies born into Heaven. Some who know this heartbreak all too well. All too often. Just so much pain filling the holes in the hearts of so many mommas.

But I also have hope and peace. Peace in knowing that even though I didn’t get to tickle your sweet feet as I put your shoes on, I have precious loved ones who are with you and I’m sure tickle your feet for me.

I have peace in knowing that even though I didn’t get to hold you on my own lap, you were born to sit on the lap of Jesus.

I know there is no need for shoes where you are. You are dancing, barefoot, with the King.

So while you are dancing, I’ll be here. Holding your shoes and loving you still.

Educational Christmas Gift Guide for Boys (and girls too!)

Educational Christmas Gift Guide for kids

If you’re like me, then your boys probably have plenty of “toys.” I created this gift guide because I would love to share with you some of our favorite educational toys around here.
My kids either have, or have played with, all of these and I would definitely give them all 5 Star ratings for being educational, entertaining, and plenty of fun!
I will say- my husband and I decided last year that we would gift a vacation instead of presents to our boys, leaving our sweet families take over our boys wish lists.

Snap circuits

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You Might Be a Student Mom If…

 I started college a week after my 18th birthday. I had dreams of a getting a degree followed by beginning an awesome career.

Little did I know that I would become a non-trad student my Sophomore year. When I was 19, I became a mom.

I still wanted to pursue a degree. But it was hard. And it felt like in the snap of a finger, my identity changed. I was no longer a typical student. I was a mom student. And for me personally, going on to finish has instilled a sense of pride in myself. No joke, after that degree, I just knew I could conquer the world. (Spoiler- I can’t conquer the world, but I conquered Calculus and O Chem. and that feels pretty awesome.)

If you’re in the same boat, then this is for you!

You might be a student mom if…

“Missing out” used to mean that you had to miss a friend’s big birthday party. “Missing out” now means that you have to miss your kid’s soccer game every Tuesday night because you’re in night class.

Before, you would socialize in between classes. Now you pump in between classes.

You are no longer exhausted and aching from dancing and hanging out all night. Now you’re exhausted because the toddler sleeping down the hall had growing pains at 2am and the baby inside of you had a dance party all night.

You used to worry about how cute you looked in your new shirt. Now you are worried about leaking breastmilk through your old t-shirt.

Heartbreak and frustration were usually how you would describe a breakup, or made a bad grade after pulling an all nighter to study. But now heartbreak and frustration to you means leaving your 1 year old, who has pneumonia and strep throat, with a babysitter because you absolutely can not miss your Chemistry lab, History project, and Statistics test…. again…

You used to get excited to see that cute boy walking on campus. Now you’re older and you get excited to see your full grown son, who is in college too, walking on campus.

Instead of just having doodles on the top of your Spanish notes, you have a tally section for kick counts.

“Making plans” previously meant deciding who to eat with, if it’s going to be date night or friend night, and then whose house will everyone will end up at. “Making plans” now is deciding if you will have a chance at study time by turning on Finding Nemo before or after you cook supper for your family. And then deciding if you even have time to cook because you have a big Calculus 3 test at 8am.

Before you were a mom, you had a job so that you could pay your gas for road trips, buy concert tickets and new clothes, and eat out with friends. After you became a mom, you need a job so that you can pay for well checks, buy your kid food that is healthier than Cheetos and goldfish, and pay the diaper bill.

Instead of folding/hanging your clothes, you might just wear them directly from the dryer.

You have said these words to your professor “Can I please bring my 2 year old to class with me today? I’ll make sure she’s not a distraction. I won’t be able to come otherwise.”

Multitasking used to simply be texting a boy, while listening to an online lecture, while working out. Now multitasking means breastfeeding while eating a sandwich, putting on makeup, and studying your Organic Chemistry flash cards.

In all seriousness. Being a mom and going to school is not for the faint at heart. It is one of the hardest things I have ever done.

But momma, you CAN do it! Sometimes it may be ugly. Sometimes you may have to drop classes or take a semester off. And that’s OKAY! You are still strong. You are still incredible, and self-less, and beautiful, and smart.

One day you will have your diploma. And you will look your child in the eyes and think to yourself “Look what mommy did for you.”

And there is no feeling of accomplishment like getting that piece of paper, knowing all the challenges, obstacles, self-control, and responsibility it took.

Mommas in school, in case no one has told you lately, I AM PROUD OF YOU. Hang in there. You got this!

I have included a few pictures of some friends of mine who are student mommas. If you are or have been a student mom, I would LOVE to see your pictures, hear your accomplishments, and know what you would add to this list either in the comments below or on www.facebook.com/myhousefullboys.

*This is in no way intended to discount or discredit the incredible accomplishments of traditional college students.
It is written to encourage moms in school so that we know that we are not alone in the challenge to push through.

**I Just want to add that a good support system will play a huge role in your success!  So many people made sacrifices so that I could continue school. Thank you Ryan, Mom, Cheri, and Tim for babysitting for me!!! Love yall!

Stay at Home Mama- It’s OK to Say That It’s Hard

Sometimes the hardest part about being a stay at home mom isn’t the dirty diapers. It isn’t the fat fingers always clinging to you. It isn’t the constant exhausting “play with me momma” phrase. It isn’t even the mess that feels unending.

Sometimes it’s the loneliness. It’s feeling invisible.

It’s the eagerness and need to spend time with another adult human, only to realize it’s your babies naptime.

It’s the depression that you may not even be aware of yet.

The feeling that no matter what you do, it won’t be enough, and you will never finish.

Sometimes the hardest part of being a stay at home mom isn’t the crying, the no lunch break and no clocking out. Sometimes it’s not spending 30min making a mess helping your 3 year old make homemade playdoh, only to find its been eaten by the dog a short 10 minutes later. It’s not cleaning the kitchen while your child destroys their bedroom.

Sometimes it’s the lack of affirmation.

It’s knowing that the end of the day, there will be no pat on the back by your boss.

There will be no hard earned paycheck.

There will be no Christmas social work parties or Christmas gifts or bonuses. There will be no employee luncheons.

There will be no reason to put on make up and real clothes, which in turn can leave you feeling physically less.

It’s a hard job. It’s a selfless job. Sometimes it feels as though you literally give yourself away.

Sometimes you wonder if it’s worth it.
And sometimes it feels as though it’s not.

Sweet mamas, if this is you right now, I want you to look your precious child in the face. Look at their fingers, toes, and belly button.

Remember the sweet moments. The ones you couldn’t wait to tell your husband about. The proud pictures you sent to grandparents when your baby learned to sit up, crawl, walk, talk. When they said their first prayer. When they were so fun and funny that you couldn’t help but just sit and watch their imaginations.

Remember how brave you’ve been.

Embrace how strong you can be. Your strength is more than you know.

I want to encourage you to find a friend. Or two or three. Invite them into your messy house, because chances are their house is just as messy.

I want to encourage you seasoned mama’s to be a friend. Find a mom who needs a friend and invite her into your home. Tell her she is doing a great job. Give her cookies.

Husband’s, be that kind word of affirmation. Show her compassion. Tell her thank you. See her. Teach your kids to acknowledge her too.

And mama’s, always know that there is a mighty, powerful, all-knowing God who made you momma. For that specific baby. At this specific time. And you are doing a great job.

Mom 101: 15 Mom Truths We Can All Relate To

  1. If you are taking the kids to a party where food will be free and abundant, plan on them not eating. The minute you get home they will be hungry.
  2. Silence is NOT golden. It’s suspicious. Investigate immediately!
  3. Always assume they can open it, climb it, and find it.
  4. Always check the toilet seat before sitting down.
  5. Always bring a set of clothes for baby AND you.
  6. For every minute of travel away from home you’re going, give yourself 3 minutes of prep. That 10 minute drive to school? It takes half an hour now. And you’ll be late.
  7. Husbands only hear 1/4 of the crying you hear. Embrace it and move on.
  8. If it’s a new shirt, it will get a stain. It doesn’t matter who it belongs to.
  9. Kids will, without fail, get sick or hurt at the worst possible times.
  10. You can expect them to poop 5 minutes after getting a clean diaper.
  11. Always plan on your plans going wrong.
  12. You can pretty much guarantee that after you’ve buckled your kids in and made it 5min down the road, someone will need to use the bathroom.
  13. If you ever need your child to wake up for any reason, simply prepare yourself a nice lunch or pour a hot fresh cup of coffee…or just sit down. They will instantly wake up. They innately want to turn your “me time” into “we time.
  14. If your kids sleep in Monday thru Friday, count it as a guarantee that they’ll be up at 5 on Saturday.
  15. Before those grimy fingers, chubby smiles, dirty diapers, and silly giggles, you had no idea how much love your heart could hold.

I can’t take credit for all of these. Most of these came from the lovely ladies of a Facebook mom group I’m in. Continue reading