“Too Much”

My Turner Mackenzie has recently turned three. She is, in every way- me. She is into playing in the dirt, and catching grasshoppers, and play-doh. She likes unicorns and glitter, but also turtles and bugs. She sleeps with her bunny and blanket but here recently, also with a rubber toy frog, turtle, and alligator. She plays with babydolls and dresses up in princess gowns so that she can play with her older sister, although these aren’t her favorite things, her sister is… so she can roll with the punches and play well with others. But she is also fiercely stubborn, and loud, and sensitive, and dramatic. She is an all or nothing type of girl. She’s fiercely loyal and loves like no other. Sometimes she is devastated and her little heart just doesn’t know how to handle when something feels unfair or unjust. So she does this mix of mad and sad because she’s still learning how to express herself with words, but even when she does… I have a feeling this will be how she handles things. She will lead with her emotions.

It reminds me of the line in Charlotte’s Web when Fern is trying to save the runt, Wilbur. After being loud and wildly emotional to save Wilbur’s life, her Father replies, (and I’m paraphrasing here) “Fern you will have to learn to control yourself!” She of course replies, “Control myself!? This is a matter of life and death, and you want me to control myself!?” As if it was absurd to think that she wouldn’t be emotional about something that mattered to her. This is her. This is Turner. This is also me.

Do you know those women that you see that just seem lovely? People use words like demure, precious, lovely, and reserved to describe them. This is not me. I’ve tried on and off for years to be this woman. Shockingly, I never succeeded. I never could quite get the hang of quieting my inner voice, (or my outer one either). 😂

I am loud. My inside voice is never at an appropriate decimal, although I try. I never laugh appropriately, or at an appropriate time. I’m the one laughing at funerals, and weddings, and at the very holy moment of the lighting of the “Singing Christmas Tree” that a local church puts on every year. During which time you are suppose to be very quiet and reflect on our Saviors coming, and all of the things Christmas means to us for a total of 3 very long minutes. But alas, someone whispers something, and then I get the giggles and can’t for the life of me stop. I hear the creaking of the pews in front of me as people turn around to stare at the hoodlum ten year old who can’t get it together. This is still me now at nearly thirty. I’m not sure that I ever remember seeing my mama that mad. Except for maybe when me and my childhood best friend took off on our bikes, got lost, and didn’t show back up at home until 6 hours later. Or maybe that one time the principal called her in because I had an “A” in Biology, but unfortunately I had skipped, I don’t know, maybe 100 days of school or something. (I’m exaggerating.) Point is, I’m loud, and talk too much, and write run-on sentences because I can’t shut up.

I do things. I try things. I’m all or nothing. I get into projects fiercely, and when I decide I’m done- I abandon them without reserve. I just believe that if you want to try something, then do. Also, if your doing something that no longer makes you happy, then stop. Some shame-seeking people would use condemning words like, “quitter”. I just believe that this life is too short to not test the limits, or even worse, continue doing something that makes you miserable. There are thousands of different jobs, and thousands of different hobbies, and thousands of different sports. Why not try them all? Or stick with just the one that makes you Happy? This is YOUR life and no one else is going to live it for you.

Some people have the ridiculous notion that since I’m outgoing, and enjoy speaking to people, that I am always confident or an extrovert. Neither of these are true. Actually, my loud mannerisms and social personality can make me quite self conscious. You see, with people who are more shy or demure, it’s easier for them to fall back and become a wall flower of sorts. It’s easier for them to not put themselves out there, because they feel more comfortable letting someone else be “out there.” For those of us who don’t know how to be lovely, or soft spoken… we just show up to the party with a smile, be ourselves, and then have anxiety for the next two days. “Was I too loud? Did I talk too much? Did I say everything in the right tone? Was I too much?”

I’ve been classified as “too much” my entire life. But Jesus says I’m just right. I am not “not enough” nor “too much”, I am just right. I am exactly what God designed me to be. He made some of us soft spoken and lovely, He made the rest of us loud and sociable. He made us this way so that we can better connect with eachother, and lead others to Him. I have to stop looking at myself through the eyes of well, quite frankly, all of you and start seeing myself how Jesus sees me. I am praying everyday, every single day, that my daughters see themselves in this same light too. I am challenging you to do the same. We will pick ourselves and eachother slap apart until we change the way we see. I hope you guys have a happy weekend! Love your neighbor, but more importantly- love yourself. ❤

Shedding the weight.. and I don’t mean a diet!

Whelp. I’ve done it again. I’ve gone bananas over the playroom. After FOUR , yes I said FOUR opportunities to clean the mess in the playroom this morning, I have officially come unglued. I would like to say, to all the tender souls who think that we are too strict on our little snowflakes- That they had several opportunities to keep the things that they are PRIVILEGED enough to have, but they didn’t rise to the occasion, nor did they put in the effort or give a darn to keep them. I will absolutely ask for and demand that my children take responsibility for their own things and actions. This includes personal property and behavior. We had a garbage bag full in just a few minutes, a TRUCKLOAD of toys in about 20. That in itself is embarrassing. The only thing more embarrassing, is that there is still MORE THAN WE NEED.

Granted, my children are still very young. For the time being I will keep Maggie Ruth out of this equation, seeing as how she is not yet old enough to walk or talk, therefore did not help in the aiding or abetting of the playroom crimes. The other two however, are plenty old enough to pick up after themselves. They may need to be reminded or redirected to cleaning, but they do know how, and when they choose not to-they choose to lose the privelege to those objects.

I have to accept responsibility as well. The amount of STUFF in this house is just absurd. I mean really, innapropriate, ridiculous, and wildly unreasonable. These are the reasons that I can’t keep up. This is why I have anxiety and stress. This is why at least once a week I turn into some kind of crazy nutcase. I’m in the corner flailing my arms around about crap being everywhere, and my people have become numb to it. It’s like, “uhhhh… Mama’s losing her marbles over the crayons in the floor again… I’ll just go upstairs.” This is why we need a change….

(1) There are one of me and FIVE of us. So there is ZERO reason why I should be the only one (and Daddy, because he actually does help too) To consistently pick up after myself and everyone else.

(2) We have too much JUNK. You guys, hands to the heavens- if Jesus walked through my front door right now- I would be plum ashamed at the “frivelous” To “needed” ratio in our home. The quantity is just insane. I dont know how we got here, but it has finally reared its head and it is UGGGGLY!

To get us back on track, we are donating, trashing, and selling. THE THINGS MUST GO!!!

Charlotte and Turner don’t seem to understand that giving their belongings to someone in need isn’t dumping them in the back of a bin or goodwill type store. I need for her to understand the connection. So we will be finding a family, child, foster home, or children’s home to take the toys to personally. She needs to understand other people’s needs, and how we can help fill them with a simple kind gesture. They need to understand why she should care for her things. They need to understand that not everyone has access to their “needs” much less, “wants”.

I’ve started doing some things to help and encourage the girls to take care of their things. Here’s a few ideas that worked for us and might for you…

We have a “shoe basket.” Here, shoes do not get left downstairs. Every night the girls take the shoe basket and empty shoes in the appropriate closets. No more tripping over shoes or hunting them down. The are taken off, and then taken back to their “homes” at the end of the day.

The girls also know how to take off their clothes, and put them correctly in the hamper. No more inside out pants with underwear still rolled inside them. Pulling pants leg back right side out is No longer something that I can physically do or handle. I can’t, I can’t do it, I cant handle it. It’s making my laundry days a nightmare.

Here is where I have to cave. Three and five year olds are not “efficient”. You do not get both “quick” and “correct”. You get one or the other, you have to choose. So since I’m choosing “correct”, I have to up my patience level. And I mean, like going from “nonexistent” to “Mother Theresa”. This is non-negotiable for at least another five years.

“LORD, grant me patience.” 😨

I also do this….

It’s a small Rubbermaid tote about the length and width of a full sheet of paper. All of our precious gems of school and artwork that come home, I throw in this bin. No mlre leaving them in the car or on the kitchen table. At the end of the school year I take out anything with hand/feet prints or anything particularly cute or special and THROW THE REST AWAY. Then, the girls have their own bin in the attic with their names on it for keepsakes. When they are older and move out, they can decide what to keep and what to chunk and it is no longer my concern. This works great for us and it might help y’all as well.

There is a book I read a few years back by Jen Hatmaker. It’s called SEVEN. It’s fantastic, and her and I are best friends (in my mind, at least). But she went through this kind of crazy moment where she had enough of all the “excess” in her life and she did some pretty radical things to get her life back on track. I dont know that I will do the experiment again, but I am definitely claiming our life, home, and time BACK. No more excess, no more uselessness, no more “stuff”. When you get rid of all of that, it clears out your mind and heart and soul, and you can replace the void with time, and peacefulness, and friends, and family, and Jesus. The stuff that matters gets more attention because you got rid of the “glut”. Here’s to spring cleaning and a breathing in some fresh air! Let’s shed the weight, let’s trim the fat, let’s get our lives back in shape! 🙌 good luck yall!! 😚😚

Just for fish and giggles…

Once upon a time I was a young, twenty-two, newlywed who uttered the words, “There will never be deer heads hung on my wall.” Of course, I also was once a young, naive, fourteen year old who uttered the words, “I don’t think I want children and most certainly will never own a minivan.” And on that day God laughed and laughed and laughed…

I guess my point is sometimes we make downright ridiculous LIES to ourselves and don’t even know it. Because about three years into marriage, I caved on the deer heads. Which now, nearly seven years into marriage I ask myself, “Self, why did you even care in the first place?” It’s like at 22 I had completely disregarded the notion that I had married a younger Crocodile Dundee from northeast Georgia. The man came home with a bob cat once, for crying out loud. I mean honestly.

So now, (being a much more seasoned wife to my husband), there’s very little that surprises me, or that I don’t just shake my head, roll my eyes at, and say “ok honey…” After the first year or two of marriage and you know, 800 kids later, you kind of grind the sharp edges down on each other. Which sounds a lot like wearing eachother down, but in the best way possible. We are at a soft, steady spot in our marriage where we accept, and sometimes even find endearing the absurd of eachother. And some days we just are completely annoyed but love each other, so we let it be. Like, Brayde no longer makes mention of the ridiculousness to the very specific ways that I make a gallon of tea, told laundry, load a dishwasher, or scramble eggs. (I would like to say there’s more than one way to skin a cat on these topics, and you could.. if you wanted to do them incorrectly…) OR why I am sent into complete and utter overdrive on Sunday mornings. I just do. Until my feet hit the steps of the church I am a total raving lunatic. Its like, “I just need to praise our Lord and Saviour and hug our peoples necks, AND YOU YAYHOOS DONT KNOW WHERE YOU PUT YOUR TOOTHBRUSH?! WHY IS IT NOT IN THE BATHROOM!? SHOES!!?? HERES AN IDEA, CHECK THE CLOSET!!!” Because ya know, I’m chalk full of grace and patience just moments before singing praises to our Almighty. But, Brayde doesn’t say a word. He just rushes the girls in the car and has my bible and a cup of coffee waiting on me when I get in. (Just in case anyone is wondering, yes. The answer is yes. I completely married up and out of my league.) And when the man wants to go fishing or hunting or go do any of his many endeavours, I tell him to “Go and ride like the wind, bullseye!” Because those things just do not phase me. But then there’s the days when we have an argument, and days later I’m still scratching my head and going, “whaaa?”. Which brings me to my story…

This past summer Turner Mackenzie became obsessed with turtles… Which in a long series of unfortunate events, led us to getting a pet turtle. He lives in an aquarium which we inherited from my daddy, the keeper of all things. This is just who he is. If the zombie apocalypse begins tomorrow, then just head on over to my daddy’s house. There is everything to make a complete bunker, along with an aquarium and probably 72 extra rolls of duct tape… and maybe even an inflatable pool. You can have your own little oasis… You’re welcome.

So, a few days ago Brayde comes home from fishing with a slew of crappie, brim, and catfish. All of which I care nothing about, unless of course, I caught them myself.

Listen, I have inherited some of my husband’s interests over the course of our marriage. Fishing for huge monster stripers will make me jump up and down and giggle like a preteen asked to her first junior prom. Hunting? Yes, absolutely- if it’s exactly between the temperatures of 73-92° other than that, nope. No thank you. Hannah cares ZERO about being too cold or really, not even too hot.

But even though I didn’t catch any of these fish, I love my husband, so I caved and went to take a look. Listen, if he can can look at how well I organized the new Tupperware in our drawer and be tickled for me, then I can do this for him. (We don’t do gifts… this is our love language.. get off our backs, man.) But I absolutely mean this when I say, it may have been the biggest crappie I have ever seen in my life. I congratulated my man on his awesome catch and turn to go back in, when he stops me to ask where the water conditioner is for the aquarium.

“Hmm? Beside the turtle food, why?”

“Because I need to add more water.”

“Oh no babe, I just cleaned the tank and added more water Monday. The turtle’s fine.”

“No, the fish will never make it in that little bit of water.”

*blank stares*

If you can’t tell, by this point, my brain has still not caught up to the fact that my husband wanted to KEEP THE CRAPPIE FISH IN OUR TURTLE TANK.

In his defense, it was, as I stated before, quite a large Crappie. Maybe even state record. But no. Just no. Noooooo. This is not Bass Pro Shop!!! I have enough mouths to feed! Not to mention that our turtle is an omnivore and Lord only knows what kind of a mess I would have in that tank if it got a hold of a fish. Actually, I do know. BECAUSE Hubby once put a baby bass in there, and there was nothing left except an awful stench and a fish head floating around hours later. So, NO to the Crappie.

So at this point, the fish never made it as a pet. I “won”, but that’s the thing with “winning” an argument. It never quite feels like winning. And then I felt bad, because Brayde and I just don’t ever really say no to each other about much of anything, really. So, I felt bad and told Brayde that if it meant that much to him. Then keep the fish. I didn’t care. But I didn’t want it to stink. Or breathe. Or swim. Or look at me. And thats when he told me that I was making his head hurt and to quit talking about it. He said some sort of mature, rational nonsense like, “You’re giving in with stipulations, and that’s not really giving in at all.” And he was right. Pshhh. “Ok fine, Mr. Feeney.” (Shout out to my 90’s kids 🙌). But I still didn’t want it to stink up my house. So, I kept my mouth shut and now a few weeks have gone by so I feel like I should tell somebody the hilarious stories which are my life.

Ps. In case any of you are wondering, we had a fish fry that week with hushpuppies and slaw. And it was jam up. And I’m fine with all of this. So, good day and Godspeed.

Let it Shine

Words. I’ve always loved them. I love reading them, I love writing them, and if you know me at all, then you know I love speaking them. Writing releases something in me. It feels kind of like holding my breath for a really long time and then slowly exhaling. I’ve actually been contemplating the blog for a long while now; Two and a half years to be exact. I kind of kept hearing God nudge me, and I ignored Him or really, told Him to back off- I didn’t wanna. Don’t raise your eyebrows and get judgey… we all do, at some point, disobey or disregard God’s call.

•”It brings up too much…”

•”I don’t want to…”

•”Let someone else!”

•”Don’t make me!”

“My words don’t carry weight for anyone except me. I’m the only one who gets my words, or my life, or my struggles, or my successes. I dont want to be TRANSPARENT Lord, PEOPLE WILL SEE ME!!!” 😂 It’s easier to NOT put yourself out there. You can’t be judged as harshly when you keep all of your junk wrapped in a neat little bow.

•”No one will care! Why in the world would anyone care about reading anything I wrote? Who cares!?”

I do. Jesus does. I realize that those are the only two people that truly matter in this scenario. There are only ever two things to ask yourself when it comes to your dreams, or hobbies, or career, or goals. (1) Do I enjoy it? (2) Will it glorify God? If you can answer yes to both of those questions, then you should stop making excuses immediately and run! Some people have a call to teach, some to create, some to inspire, some to cook, some to love, some to build… some to write.

I had people tell me ALL the time to write, and it wasn’t until I had someone tell me that “God gives us gifts to use for his glory”, that I really started thinking seriously about it. My putting excuses on why I shouldn’t- actually started to feel like God was telling me to do something, and I looked him directly back in the face and said “No”. And let me tell you something… The Lord won’t let you get away with that for very long before He really starts to deal with you, so good luck.

•”I don’t write well enough. People will think I’m dumb. Or it’s dumb. Or my thoughts are dumb. Writing brings up too much I don’t want to deal with.”

If you dont know, I’ve done this before. A blog, I mean. I started one several years ago under completely different circumstances. I won’t go into great detail (right now, or ever again, I haven’t decided…) but it was a really painful time for me and my family, and I just wasn’t sure that starting a blog again was something I wanted to do, because I don’t want to face the past. But the past is exactly what that means, behind you. Everyone has something, don’t they? And should you deny yourself good in your future, just because of the bad or sad things in your past. Of course not.

And then, sometimes when I write my words down, it makes them real. I can’t escape the words or thoughts when I’m literally staring at them. And then I have to deal with them like God’s been telling me to. I don’t know about you, but working through things and bringing them to the light is not fun. I have to deal with my jealousy, or lack of faith, or yuck, or sin and it just sucks to be quite honest. That part is never fun. But walking in a new lightness and peace always comes after, though. The rainbow that the Lord always promises shines through and I get to walk with a new freedom.

So this is my push for you. Go ahead, start the business, or the blog, or the class, or the hobby, or the sport, or the thing. No one ever accomplished anything by doing nothing. Nearly every night I sing “This Little Light of Mine” to the girls, and I just thought it time, that it start being a living testimony instead of just a bedtime song. Don’t waist gifts or desires God lays on your heart. “Let it Shine, Let it Shine, Let it Shine…”

Cold Spaghetti

Picture this.

Normal, crazy Monday. I wake up get everyone dressed, fed, and out the door to school and work. Take care of the baby and toddler at home, shower, switch over one load of laundry, and load the dishwasher before picking the “big” (4 years old) up at preschool at 11:30. Bring them home, make everyone lunches, put all 3 down for naps, switch over another load of laundry and unload the dishes. I manage a to clean a bathroom before I wake everyone up. I do a re-fix of hair so they don’t look like a child of Wal-mart, and do one diaper change. Into the car, drive across town, drop off the eldest at dance class. Ok. Forty five minutes. I have forty five minutes to effectively grocery shop with the eight month old and the two year old until I have to be back to pick up the four year old. Game face, I can do this. Make it back in time, drop off dance tuition check that I forgot last week- get everyone loaded back into the car and back home at 5:45. I decide it will be “leftover spaghetti night” since I have to unload the groceries and everyone is starving.

Husband walks in and I kiss him. I put some of the spaghetti sauce in a microwave safe bowl and pop it in the microwave. Beep beep beep. Annoying microwave sound let’s me know the sauce is warm. I open the microwave door, but leave it to pass out sippy cups. Return to counter stick my ring finger in spaghetti sauce, nope- still cold. Slam the door back and start again. Husband comes back downstairs from showering, I ask about his day… Beep beep beep. Open microwave door, leave it to clean up spilled sippy cup, return to sauce- Dang!! Still ice cold. Slam the microwave door shut, restart the sauce. Feed the baby. Beep beep beep. Open the microwave, leave it to wipe the baby’s face, return back to sauce. “Dang it! What is going on with our microwave!! It’s not heating this sauce up at all!!!” My husband looks at me as if I have three heads, and calmly says, “Honey. You just stuck your finger in the cold spaghetti sauce from the fridge, for the third time in a row. You’ve never taken the other bowl out of the microwave…”

This people. This. This is what happens when you are already, A) one of those people who forgets to close the cap on your gas tank. And 2) a mother of any child, (much less the mother of three children, all who are under the age of five.) You want to scream from the rooftops sometimes, “I am fine! I am not insane, and I am a fully competent person under normal circumstances!!!” But for the time being, I am just doing the best I can. Which also makes me want to roll my eyes, because when I hear someone else say that, I automatically hear, “but your best still isn’t good enough.” Why do we do that? Why do we automatically cut ourselves so short? Granted, the best I can do still only wraps up to an average of a “7” on a “1-10” scale. And I probably hit that maybe, 70% of the time… See, here I go again. We have to stop. We have to give ourselves some breathing room. We have to stop the madness. I have to give myself grace.  As long as I don’t go below a 7… I’ve decided I’m golden. Would I like to be a 10? Absolutely! Who wouldn’t? I know there are women out there that hit this mark. You know, like Mary Poppins. But for the rest of us “ordinary people” 7 is a great number. Striving for perfection is making me exhausted. I just want to not feel like im losing my mind. WHERE ARE MY BRAINCELLS GOING!? WILL THEY EVER COME BACK?!? Who knows? I sure don’t. But, I am teaching myself grace one day at a time- how to give it freely to others, but most importantly to myself. Because, #strugglebus.

Listen. First off- I wasn’t sure about this blog thing. But I am so tired of seeing other mom blog pages that make it seem as if their life is running so much more smoothly than mine. THIS CAN’T BE TRUE. It’s lies and I am sick to death of comparing my reality to someone else’s fiction. Which begs the question of why we dont feel good enough in the first place. I feel like there is power in transparency and truth. And maybe JUST MAYBE if we all start being honest with eachother, the comparing will stop, we will finally feel worthy, and we just might find our strength in numbers and friendships. This is not going to be a mom shame page. I will not tell you what kind of organic fruit bowl to feed your kid. Or what ridiculously expense ruffle blouse with the peter pan collar you just HAVE to get. Although I promise to share when I find something cute, and absolutely promise to share when I find a good deal on, well- anything. This is a jesus-loving, people loving, “let’s share this crazy life we all live in together” space. (Ya know, the same life where we pray someone else will sign up to bring the homemade cupcakes to the preschool party.) Life is messy and already just so dad-blame hard. So let’s love on eachother, uplift each other, and for the love of the land… just serve up some cold spaghetti, it’ll be fine. You are fine. I am fine. We are all FINE, OK!?