For the women crowd- on breastfeeding and all that comes with it

Jericho and Mommy
     When I was 8 and curious I watched my Mom take a bath. As the suds ran down her tired and worn body, she explained that she had fed 3 beautiful and healthy babies with this body, and that's why it looked the way it did. I wanted to look just like her when I grew up. Beauty to that 8 year old was stretch marks and saggy boobs and love-filled eyes. Callous-ridden feet and bleach-red hands. Hair stuck to face with sweat. Soft words of encouragement despite the heavy, ugly words thrown at her every single day . For all the pain she inflicted by her addictions, my Mom showed me what true beauty looked like. 
Jeremiah and Mommy
     I've nursed 4 babies now. Jeremiah, our oldest, only nursed for about a week. Stress and anxiety over a husband recovering from brain surgery and a poor latch and no community to help brought that nursing relationship to an end quick. With Judah, he cried and cried and I never felt like I produced enough. No matter what I did I could not get my supply up. He nursed frequently and gained weight, but I looked forward to the time I could quit. We lasted 7 months and then I got pregnant again and Judah refused to nurse anymore. Jericho latched perfectly and my supply was the best it had ever been, and we nursed exclusively for 17 months. Not one problem. 
Judah and Mommy
     I had this picture in my head of how it would be with my last baby. I would nurse for 2 years and everything would be perfect like it was with Jericho. Other moms have nursed all their babies successfully, so why I couldn't have just 2 that went well?
     Joseph was different from the beginning. I cried and cried because he just wouldn't latch. I heard God say, "Marybeth, it's ok to bottle feed him." But I ignored Him because this was going to work. I would do this. I used a shield and that helped but I was afraid of using it indefinitely, and then one day he just latched on his own, no help, and it was good for 2 months. 
     But then I got sick. It was a nasty chest cold that left me barely able to breathe, and it lasted for weeks. My supply dropped and dropped, and I tried and tried to get it up. I didn't notice, how could I not notice? I didn't notice his weight drop. He was fussier than usual but he hadn't pooped in several days so I thought it was constipation. Looking back on that week brings me great pain, and everyone says not to beat myself up, but how could I not have noticed that he was losing so much weight? He weighed 8 lbs 5 oz at his 2 week check-up. At two months he was only at 8 lbs 12 oz. 
     I sat with him in the emergency room, nursing him, him sucking so hard and gulping mostly air, and I cried over him, my tears mixing with his. I wanted so badly to be successful at nursing. It's what is "healthiest" and "the best" and "natural" and whatever. It went deeper than just fearing other people's opinions about me and breastfeeding, although that was part of it. I believed I was better because I could breastfeed. A better mom, a better person. The thought of giving him a bottle of formula, it made me feel like I was losing a child, like I was lazy, like I was a failure. 
     Why was this so hard for me, when other moms can easily give their babies a bottle and it's all ok? I wanted to be like my mom. She was a woman of immense strength, immeasurable love for her babies. She breastfed successfully with all her babies, why couldn't I? "What is wrong with me?"
     I didn't want to hear God whispering, "Marybeth, it's ok to bottle feed him. It's ok." And I fought with God. "if breastfeeding is the BEST and you created me to BREASTFEED him why can't I!? It's not fair!" 

Joseph and Mommy
     I nursed him for the last time a couple nights ago, 2 am and him clinging to me and holding my hand, and I let it go. I just let that perfect vision of us go, because it was a false picture. I embraced the real-life picture of me and my precious boy, right here, right now, and accepted what I had fought against for so long.
     He's sleeping peacefully now. Something he rarely did the days leading up to the emergency room visit. He smiles now, and talks to me, something he never did before the hospital stay. He's chubby and rolly and pudgy. He's HAPPY. And right now, this very second, that's the only thing that matters to me.  
     Whether you nurse exclusively, bottle-feed your baby pumped breast milk, supplement and nurse, or exclusively formula feed, you are feeding your baby and YOU ARE DOING A GOOD JOB. I am proud of you and you are a good mommy. Say it out loud RIGHT NOW, right where you sit. "I am a good Mommy." How you feed your baby doesn't matter, when it comes down to it. The fact that you are there, present in mind, body, and soul, and lavishing love on that tiny bud of sweetness, that is what matters. And it's enough. 


"I want off this ride this very second or so help me GOD!" and other such tidbits concerning life right now.

     Laying in bed tonight, fear gripped my heart. My mind was reeling with confusion and anxiety. It was a Monday from Hell, with Judah screaming and acting outrageously defiant and wayward. He, my second child, has the most tender heart, so loving and kind. And he can throw a fit and a punch better than most. My head was pounding as I lay there, silent tears streaming as my husband prayed over our boys. In my head I cried out, "God, help. Just, help. Miah with his defiance and me feeling like I'm always on him about something. Judah and his screaming and just plain not listening to me. Coco with his whining and fits. Joey not taking a bottle for me well, or nursing well. I'm coming apart at the seams of my soul." 

     Sunday our Church brought Supper for the Teen MOPS group here in Brandon. Me and a couple of women served and stayed for the meeting, and it was as if God Himself took me by the hand and led me there for a specific purpose. As the speaker began telling her story, I knew I was meant to be there. At one time, she had 3 kids 2 years old and under. No twins. Just like me. And she had postpartum depression and anxiety. Just like me. My mind flew back to when Miah, our oldest, hadn't even hit 2 1/2 yet, Judah our second wasn't even a year and a half, and Jericho, our 3rd was born. Those were dark days, full of screaming and yelling and tears and frustration and anxiety and fear. Anger and grief. And she gave me the hardest hug I've every gotten and looked me straight in the tear-filled eyes and said, "You can do it. There is hope. They will grow up, I promise."

     Sometimes when people hear the ages of my kids, 3 so close together and a 4th not far behind, they smile and say, "Oh, just like mine! I have a..." And they start to name off kids spaced 2 years apart, and I don't say anything, because how could they possibly know? How could they know how having kids 13 months apart is a galaxy-full of difference between having kids 24 months apart? And we did it twice? I have no regrets, none at all. But that doesn't mean I don't rock back and forth on my living room floor in the middle of the night, weeping and crying out to God for wisdom and just one more chance to be love, to be patience, to be kindness to these small people. I am at the end of my rope 78 times before noon, and please Lord, just tell me how to fix my babies. Just let me know how to make Judah stop screaming and how to make Miah know I love him beyond the moon, and to make Jericho understand responsibility. And to make Joseph eat well enough to sustain him and make him grow! It's enough to send anyone to their knees, and mine feel well beyond their years, and yet still the love and kindness and patience do not come quickly. 
     I've been so tired lately. I have 2 cups of coffee and a full night's rest, and still, I am exhausted by the middle of the afternoon. And I joke with friends about chocolate and food, and yet this vice has it's poisoned talons deep in my soul. I turn to food and sugar and junk and death. I give up one vice for another, and I just want to take a knife and cut that part out of my soul, that part that yearns for something other than Him, that desires something else to numb the stress and anxiety and fear. Because there is so much fear. And I haven't been standing on His truth, His promises, His Word, and I feel how death knocks at the door of this lifestyle. Waking up without Him, walking through the day without Him, going to bed with a nod in His direction. I feel as shriveled as a dried up apple core at the bottom of the garbage can. 
     Something has to change. I've been cutting out as many dyes and preservatives as I can. Trying to make healthy choices on a small budget. We're eating less but eating healthier. I'm buying healthier versions of laundry detergent and dish soaps. Adding probiotics and vitamins and oils and syrups. And still I am plagued with this discontent and anxiousness that something I'm doing, something I'm feeding them or not feeding them, is the source of all their problems and behavioral issues. It's driving me insane. I'm focusing on the wrong sustenance. The wrong bread. 

     And tonight, as I wept at His feet, not even able to pray with my husband because of the turmoil and anxiousness within, God stilled my heart. There were no words, no aha! moments, no divine words of wisdom, just quietness. And I don't know about you, but to this anxious and weary soul, it was balm, it was a refreshing spring, it was soothing ointment. Just quiet. A gentle, "I've got this," from my Abba. And I realized, God is the perfect parent. He is patient with me when I suck at life. He loves me when I am at my most unlovable. He is joy when I lose hope. He is gentle when I need it most. I am learning, albeit slowly, from Him, how to do this Mommy thing. And I will have to keep learning each day, for the rest of my life. There will never be a time when I don't need His wisdom and direction in regards to my children and how to Mother them and love them. At least I hope to the good Lord there isn't. And even though I feel so lost in this mothering thing, He has put people in my life that reflect His character as Father and Mother. I am surrounded by godly moms who love the Lord and teach me every single day what it is to be a loving and patient mama. Some days I just need someone to say, "Marybeth, you need to CHILL OUT sister!" 
     I am so incredibly blessed with my 4 boys, ages 4 and under. Every day is a roller coaster ride, complete with screams and thrills, close calls, and absolute excitement and fear. And puke. And tears. And someone yelling, "I WANT OFF THIS RIDE THIS VERY SECOND OR SO HELP ME GOD!" Every.Single.Day. And it's perfect. Absolutely messily, imperfectly perfect. 

Starting today, July 1st, I am going to be doing a 30 day sugar detox. I've already been off pop for 9 weeks now, and I feel amazing! But my body just needs more. So I'll be quitting all unnatural sugars for the month of July. I expect it to suck, to stink, to hurt. And I'm ready to be brave and kick my body back into gear. I just want to feel healthy, and have the energy to keep up with my babies! If you want to join me, I'll be Instagramming my journey with the hashtag #mbs30daysugardetox  Join me, and let's claim our days back! 


I'm still searching for you...

     It's 2 am, and your grandson, Joseph, is just falling back asleep. His little eyes are fluttering shut as the swing rocks him gently...back and forth, back and forth. In the moments before he woke me, crying in hunger, I dreamed I was looking for you. Just like the people in the novels I've been reading, I was on this hunt for a Mother missing. Seems everyone is trying to find their mothers in one way or another.
I had traced you down to a crappy apartment, decrepit and abandoned. I stood before the door, breathing hard, tears at the back of my throat, knowing I was so close. I could smell that tang of your Noxzema cream, your oily Maybelline makeup, I could hear your girlish giggle, your stern mommy voice, I could feel the softness of the grafted skin on your forearm, the roughness of the bottom of your feet. A part of me I don't understand wanted to turn around and forget it all, but a stronger part stepped forward. There, taped to the door, was an eviction notice, and I knew you had slipped away once again.
     But in real life, even when you were right in front of me, a mere inches away from my outstretched heart, I still couldn't find you. I remember the last day we were that close. You, in your tiny cut-offs and white peasant blouse, laughing as you danced around in the freezing river behind your trailer. We were visiting you in the summer for the first time. You hadn't even drank anything that day, and yet you were still so far away, your heart somewhere else. Or maybe the problem was just that...there stood your heart incarnate, 3 little blonde girls you hadn't seen in years, and you were faced with all your imperfection and weakness. Is that why you wouldn't look me in the eye?
     A new friend looked me in the eye yesterday and casually asked if you had come up to help me after Joseph was born. I was shocked to the core- is it not obvious to everyone else, as it is to me, that a vital part of me is missing? As if you could look at me and see that I have no hand, no leg, no Mother? In the split second after she asked that, the life we could have had flashed before me. And yet the reality is, you would have had to of been a completely different person to live the life I was imagining. I'm okay with that. I don't hold those weaknesses, those imperfections, against you. Not anymore.
     I see other people's mothers, still alive, and they can't find them either. They are lost in selfishness, bitterness, immaturity and sickness. I see the near-hidden pain in a few of my friend's eyes, the wounds their moms are still inflicting on them so fresh and raw, and I wonder, who really has it better? My mom is absent and the hole is gaping. Their moms are present and absent, the wounds festering.
     After I told the new friend you were gone, and she uncovered the dysfunction of my childhood, she wore the most genuine smile, her blue eyes lighting up with such hope my heart ached, and she said, "And you'll be an awesome mom because of it." Said with such assurance, such finality. "I hope so..." I half-whispered, half-moaned, the fears I have for how your emotional, physical, mental absence throughout my childhood, and your physical absence now, will affect my own mothering.
     This world is so broken. Drugs, alcohol, anger, fear, adultery, godlessness, selfishness, death, sickness....so much pain, so much hurt. And at 2 am, I'm hard-pressed for an elaborate, beautiful, inspirational ending paragraph. Life just plain sucks at times. For some people, a lot of the times. There's no denying it. But God...BUT GOD. He came to bind up those wounds, to give a reason for the suffering, to give us HOPE, that beautiful 4-letter word that can inspire the person that is so lost to hold on just a while longer. And even though there will be scars, maybe some big, ugly scars, evidence of the fire we've walked through, we'll be better for it having happened to us.

Let it make us better. 


Meet the newest guy in my life....

I want to write all of this down before I try to catch a nap. I had tried writing earlier, but my pain meds made me so incredibly sleepy, and I'm sure I just sat here and stared at the screen for 5 minutes before I realized I was just sitting there....so after a shower, I'm ready!

Meet little Joseph Abram, born on Friday, April 25th, at 8:18 am. The name has no family significance, we both just absolutely loved it! He was born on his Grandma Cathy's birthday, so that was very special. So far, each of our boys has been born on a birthday of a family member. So cool! He was 19 inches long, and weighed 8lbs 5oz, which is exactly what his Daddy predicted he would weigh! I had guessed closer to 9lbs, but I'm sure that was just the end of pregnancy getting to me. I felt gigantic! Today, Jeremiah exclaimed, "MOMMY! Your huge tummy is gone!!" I felt like dancing. I'm not pregnant anymore!!!

The past 2 days have been a whirlwind of well-wishes, pain, new love, and not much sleep. I had my 4th scheduled C-section, and this one was by far the hardest. I'm not sure if it's because my body isn't as strong as before, or just because it naturally gets harder each time, but before, during, and afterwards, it's been a lot harder than I remember it being. God has been so gracious, each time I have called out and cried for strength, whether it's because I've been trying to figure out nursing with Joseph, or the pain this C-section has brought, or dealing with outside issues....He has supplied rest, peace, and His presence. He has been so near the past few days.

Joseph is such a dream! He is chunky in all the right places, which is everywhere. His skin is so incredibly newborn soft. He loves to watch me while he eats! I am so in love, guys. He is so amazing.

My heart has grown 89 times what it was just two days ago. Mostly because I've witnessed my 3 boys fall in love and welcome this tiny little guy into our family. They have been loving on him so hard, and rarely are they visiting and not holding him.

Jeremiah calls him baby Moses now and then, and loves to talk about all the technicalities of brotherhood and babyhood, explaining why Joey cries and what he loves. He is always asking to hold him, and asking so many questions about Mommy's surgery and owie and Joseph's cord. He wants to understand everything, and it's so fun to see what his mind comes up with!

 Judah...oh Judah! He has loved on this new baby most of all. He adores him. When he holds him close, he rubs his own face on Joey's face, and whispers things like, "You are a cutie. I sure love you. Hi baby J." Here in this picture Joseph sneezed, and Judah did his half smile thing he does and said, "I love when he sneezes!" It was the cutest thing ever. He loves to touch his head and just watch him.

And Jericho....watching him bloom into a big brother right in front of our eyes has been incredibly touching. He loves baby J so much. He randomly says, "I wuv baby J." Constantly. And he loves laying his head by Joey's head, and kissing him. All three of them are doing much better than I had anticipated. Of course, we haven't brought him home yet! I'm praying that transition goes smooth!

So many people have congratulated us and visited us. We feel so blessed by everyone's love and support. It's so amazing to welcome a new baby into the family, but it's also a huge adjustment, and we feel like we have an incredible support system to help us through. Now I must try to nap before Joseph wakes up! Yay babies =)


3 short weeks until he is here...

a month ago...

      I sit here in my raggedy brown arm chair, knowing I don't have very long before the leg cramps kick in and I have to get up and stretch. There are only 3 short weeks until his arrival. Around me, the boys are throwing heavy quilts at each other, flirting with the line between play and violence. Their energy drains me even more than I already am after a day of chasing and cleaning and comforting and cooking. 
     Baby J has claimed so much space in front that kids can no longer read there, my laptop is no longer a "lap"top, and I find myself wondering just how my abdomen can get any bigger. I am groans and deep breaths and winces, and defeated referee between inner martial artist and bruised organs. There are long days and longer nights, my body gearing up for the newborn needs and demands. 
     The house has been purged and cleaned and rearranged, as if bringing him home to sparkle and shine will somehow convince him to sleep and sleep and approve of his new family and the 3 brothers who surely will not make this growing up thing very easy. Even with him being number 4 in 4 years, the nerves and the exhaustion grab me by surprise. The first pregnancy was the easiest, because I had no one to chase, no one to tickle and clean up after. I could nap and sit and fret over things that weren't truly fret-worthy. With each pregnancy, the demand has gotten greater, and it's true the joy has too, but the exhaustion is deep, soul deep, heart and mind whispering for silence and space and please just a little more time. 
      The fears creep in some days...can I really do this? Can I take care of 4 boys, 4-3-2-and-0, and do it well, not just survive but thrive? Can I keep my sanity about me, or what's left of it anyways, enough to juggle cleanliness and health and love and peace? How do I go out in public, already finding it hard to handle the stares with just 3 so close, big belly evidence of even more hard to come? All the "wow, you are one busy mama" and "busy busy," the B-word I've been called more times in the last few years than any other name, and I've been called them all. 
     And I try to smile, I want to explain, over the loud screams of boys tired and frustrated with their brothers and the world, "maybe...but even more, can you imagine how blessed I am? Blessed to be able to conceive so easily, to be able to bare children so uneventfully, no miscarriages, no still-births, I am overwhelmingly and undeservedly blessed. And busy is relative. When you have 3 so close, you are forced to learn to slow down and take your time and give in and give up where you held on so tightly before." 
      However much busier this baby will make us, it will make us even more blessed. These 3 boys with their unique to them laughs and their eyes so much like mine, their personalities growing stronger every day, I wonder at the miracle that it's even possible for another boy to be added to this beauty. It will be hard...I'm trying to prepare my mind for that incredible truth. But it's already more than I can handle. I trade yokes with Love and He restores the places devastated by weariness and anxiety and stress. I sit long at His feet and just breathe in His presence, and it fortifies this weak heart to face the gigantic mountain of motherhood. 
      I can do this. God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power and love and self-control, and I repeat that every single day. I whisper, "lead me to the Rock that is higher than I," and "Love is patient love is kind love is patient love is kind." These words are not only my bread for the day, but my coffee and chocolate and wine too, my heart and body finding strength and satisfaction and joy in them. 
      I'm ready for you Baby J. Mama's ready. 


Confessions of a life unplugged

     Mac n Cheese boils and burbles on the stove. The steams rises and condenses on the microwave above, warping the plastic, and I wonder why someone would put a microwave up above a hot steaming stove. The broccoli will soon start to steam, and the hot dogs will be last. The new FM radio newely purchased at a thrift store crackles from the living room. Country tunes, the only station lacking just enough fuzzy static to be able to understand the twangy words, blares. Independence Day, a tune I love to sing on solo road trips, racing down the Interstate and no one able to hear my off-pitch notes but myself, and I don't care. The boys are playing with balloons and trucks and the slide, every now and then squealing with short-lived emergencies they are learning not to come to me 
with, because they know, "if I'm not bleeding or dying, it's not that bad." 
    Lately I've been remembering. The memories are coming with a clarity I had long since forgotten. Partly because of the hectic, all-consuming busyness of my life, partly because when my mind was immersed for hours a day in that online world, parts of it were hidden away from the buzz and glare of the screen. Now that the internet is no longer a daily part of my life, the memories have been coming as peasants to the King's court...humble, shy, quiet, waiting to be acknowledged and honored. 
     I am here, in the hotel we live in for now, standing outside the battered and bruised bathroom door. My mom is inside, has been for hours, soaking and fleeing from what, I don't understand. She does this a lot, taking refuge in the quiet bathroom, the scalding water, the oasis of a room locked, the ability to empty the bottles with no one watching. Escaping from the daily hardships, the voices from the past, the questions of the future. 
     I hand the boys plates, forks, and cups to set the table with. Jericho, not yet two, beams with pride as he carries the forks into the dining room and walks around the table, reaching up one at each plate. As we sit down and I pass out the food, I quietly say "My mom loved these chips." Trevor came home with the surprise of the Cheesy Sunchips, and it's fitting, because the radio already played My Maria today, and she's been on my mind more since her birthday last weekend. She escaped into a world that numbed and blurred the edges of a painful life. No doubt, memories of her own past haunted, especially around her birthday. I remember one year on that day, she stayed in bed, crying, and Dan took us all to the Dollar Store to pick out anything we wanted for her. She smiled through the tears and stayed in the darkened room. I sometimes wonder how life would have been different had there been something akin to Facebook back then...would the isolation and darkness not of been so consuming? Would people have realized she was struggling and reached out?
     I'm not even sure how long I've been without Internet now...but instead of getting easier, it's getting harder. I think it was when I realized, Ok, all those people I 'talked' to via Facebook, that wasn't friendship. Friendship, friendship that truly matters and adds value to your life, happens outside of the computer, face to face and eye to eye. Heart to heart. Where I have to reach out and ask how someone is doing and what their life is about, and not just have it suffice to see their status updates and let them know I'm thinking of them by "liking" their stuff. I have come to realize Facebook was good at keeping up with acquaintances, but cheapened the real friendships I was trying to cultivate. And living in an age where 99.9% of people I know are on Facebook, I feel like now, me being internet free, true friendship is an uphill battle. I can't just post a status and feel that warm fuzzy feeling of being noticed and appreciated at the drop of a hat- I have to realize a majority of those people are not going to randomly text or call me just because they miss me. I have to actually pick up the phone and use it to connect to one single person now.  
     I've found myself truly isolated most days, but the days I get to see those few ladies I am choosing to invest in, those are the ones that carry me through. They carry me through the days I don't talk to anyone but my husband and kids. This is a way of life I am slowly coming to love; disconnected from the media hype and the peeking in at people's random thoughts and arguments. Connecting myself to the new church we are attending and stepping out and investing in the people we live by. Having awkward conversations with people, because frankly, I really suck at conversation face to face. And now that I am forced to have more of those kinds of human interactions, I realize how hard this real life human connection thing is going to be. Hard but, yep, you guessed it, worth it. 
     This is purely my own experience, and one I am realizing is unique to each person and their relationship with the internet. I've had so many people hear what I'm doing and say, "Wow, that is awesome. I wish I could that..." I said that as well, and have days I still say I'm not sure I can do this. 
     But when it comes down to it, the thought of getting the internet back scares me. I have tasted what life is like without it, and cannot imagine voluntarily choosing to let my life become what it was before. I wish I was like so many who can control their time online, but I just can't. And if that means that I personally, an introvert and incredibly shy woman at heart, have to let go of the excuse that Facebook and internet is my only way of connecting with people outside of my house, I realize it's time to stop making excuses and start letting people in and letting myself out. Not hiding behind a screen and a persona that really is nothing like how I am face to face. Being content with a quiet(er) life, a life of few but golden friends. 
     And the once a week ability to sign back on, see pictures of my nieces and nephews, at least the ones that weren't sent to me during the week ;) and catch up on acquaintances that I still love and cherish but don't really need to know what they are doing on a daily basis- this works for me
     The static-filled FM radio and the antenna bringing in news and PBS kids- these are my only lifelines to the bigger outside world. It is not easy, this life we have chosen, this life God has been faithful to stick with us through. But it works for us because we have realized that the internet, while making it amazingly easy to connect to and see loved ones and friends, has made it all too easy for us to become lazy in reaching out and truly allowing us to connect with those we love. I remember days when grandparents called every birthday and Sunday, and 7 page letters were written and 2 hour long phone calls were randomly made between friends just to see how they were doing, and only a few people knew the daily, sacred happenings of a life lived. I miss those days. And it makes me sad that generations might miss out on the thrill of hearing the voices of those they love and holding their hands and looking in their eyes, in exchange for a "like" and a text. 
     There is nothing like telling a friend face to face what you did yesterday, and seeing in their eyes that they actually care, that they want to know, even if they are the only one who knows in the whole world. 12 likes, 45 likes, 6 comments....nothing, nothing compares to that.


Those crazy Thielkes

I've seen the look on people's faces. It started when we got engaged while Trevor was still in high school, with plans to marry right after he graduated. 

Then the look came when we decided to accept the position as Youth Pastors- 1 week after getting married. That uprooted us from our small town, and took us up here to Sioux Falls. 

I heard it in voices when we announced our pregnancy- a mere 3 1/2 months after we got married. 100% Planned. Expectant. 

And again...when Miah was 4 months old and we announced Judah was on his way, due 1 month after Miah turned 1. And not surprisingly when we announced Jericho and then baby #4....

We're no strangers to people's looks. Or their opinions about our choices. Everyone is free to their own opinions. Some are more outspoken about those opinions, and I respect that. It's just made me more resolute in standing my ground when I make a decision in life. Not everyone is going to understand your life decisions, because not everyone is the same, no one has had the same background. Not everyone has the same views on everything. That's just a duh. 

I'm super young. I realize that. I'm only 25 with 3 kids and 1 on the way. Trevor's even younger. Every time he starts a new position for work, people FREAK out when he reveals his age, usually a few months after they've known him. They guess late 20's, some even early 30's. He's got to be, with his family the size it is! They literally gasp when he says 23-24. He loves it. 

I L-O-V-E our life. I wouldn't trade it for anyone's. Absolutely none. My boys adore one another, and all 3 play so well together. They are smart, they all sleep through the night, and take 2 hour naps during the day. They call me beautiful and pick me flowers. They smile at me randomly and my mommy heart melts into a big soppy puddle on the dirty floor. If I were to recount all the ways I am blessed, it wouldn't be able to be contained in this blog.  It's bliss. 

That isn't to say I don't have my days where I weep into Trevor's arms, asking him why the heck he impregnated me AGAIN and to stay away from me or he will suffer more bodily hard than I have the past 4 pregnancies. Or when all 3 toddlers are screaming and wanting to be held and baby #4 is kicking my ovaries black and blue and I can't breathe and Trevor is late home from work and supper consists of cereal and apples.....and I just want to get the vacuum and pretend I'm cleaning because that's really the only time the kids leave me alone.

So here we are, on the verge of crazy again. Just a week ago I was playing with the idea of getting a smart phone. My sister is a phone saleslady and is really good at her job. I had a whole list of reasons why I should and why I need. Trevor was open to the idea. I was ecstatic. I searched for all the cute iPhone cases and accessories. I was on Pinterest for a whole nap time looking it all up. 

Then that feeling started creeping into my heart. I could hate that feeling if I didn't trust it so dang much. It's the same feeling I got vacuuming the floor at Runza, my first high school job. I just knew I had to break up with my boyfriend. I had that feeling. And I argued with God for 30 minutes straight while cleaning up hard french fries and straw wrappers. But God! I've been in love with him for so long! My poor 15 year old heart. But I just knew- I couldn't live with that feeling. 

I get feelings about things other people don't. Other people get feelings about things I don't. I can listen to I'm Sexy and I Know It and other songs as such, and be just fine. But a smart phone? Feeeeeeeling. 

Ok, so I knew a smart phone wasn't the wisest idea for my family, especially since I am about to have 4 boys to focus on and rear. I know myself. I have to have Trevor take the internet cord with him to work some days so I don't sit on my rear and waste my whole day waiting for you people to post some incredibly important tib-bit about your day on Facebook. 

So then I got to thinking....why not just give up internet as a whole? My word for this year is brave, and that would certainly be masochistic brave. I would be able to actually clean my house without seeing all the pictures of perfectly decorated and cleanly homes on Pinterest that make me so discontent with my apartment. Or that make me crazy that I can't even do 1 load of laundry a day, 1 craft a day, and 1 fabulously cooked meal a day. (I love Pinterest. I just need a break from all the perfection that is not real life.)

So I went from begging Trevor for a smart phone (he makes all final decisions in our home) to suggesting we both get dumb phones and cut internet completely. 

Then he said he was playing with the idea of getting a second job. 

*cue the look* I know I gave him the look. 

We have our reasons. Good ones, to us. We know the costs. Sometimes not until afterwards. He had a second job last summer and it was hell for 3 months. Every hard decision we've made in the past has grown us in some way or form. Whether that's experience to know to never do that again, or the wisdom knowing that sometimes you just can't get where you want to go without doing the really hard things. And hard things are sometimes good things in disguise. 

So we're getting rid of internet, Trevor is getting a second job for 2 days a week for the next 2 1/2 months, and we're trusting God for provision. Not monetary provision (well, we always trust Him on that!) but provision for strength, endurance, grace when things get ugly, and JOY to carry us through the storms. Even when things aren't crazy we need all of those things. But for sure- now! 

It's worth it, I tell ya. When I'm at the feet of Jesus, weeping, begging for strength to just get through 1 more hour, and I feel peace and have sudden inspiration to turn on some music and dance with my babies. Or when the peace doesn't come and I just feel His arms around me, knowing his presence makes all the difference. It's so worth it. When I look at Trevor, that man I fell in love with when he was 15 years old, and I smile at how far we've come, where we're going, and I have to pinch myself so I know I'm not dreaming. This is real life. In all it's messiness and hard choices and fear and blind faith. 

I'm living brave in 2014, and that looks differently for me than it would for you, maybe. I'm not excited about no internet and getting through 3 months of Trevor being gone for 2 nights a week. I don't look forward to the suffering and relish the pain. That would be sick. But I trust that on the other side of that, is joy and peace unequal to that I have in this moment.

Be blessed, friends. Be brave!