{Delight} in the Struggle

Happy Mother’s Day!

While we know that every mother’s wish (well mine anyway) would be a silent spa day to ourselves, we also know that there is another part of us – ya know the momma part – that can’t imagine spending “our” day without those tiny humans who made us into the mothers who are being celebrated.

It’s hard, we all know that and I often find myself racking my brain for the ways my own mother made it through my childhood and teenage years. TEENAGE years!!! I’ve just barely made it to elementary school years, how in the world am I suppose to keep these three rowdy boys alive and thriving for another 15-18 years?! (palm to face moment right there!)

And beyond! You know a mother’s “job” is never done, no matter the age!

Recently, I read a few articles that offered encouragement and insights on motherhood and I’ve decided that if I can’t learn to delight in the current struggles I’m facing, then I won’t be able to appreciate these stages when the next stages become difficult. And I won’t be able to rejoice when we (my family) overcomes a struggle together.

10 Things a Mom Must Always Remember
10 Things a Mom Must Always Remember, crosswalk.com

A recent struggle we’ve been having is our oldest (not even six, yet) having anxiety issues. In his short life, he has already shown to be a people pleaser and when things don’t go how he thinks they should he melts down and wants to give up. Originally, we didn’t think much about it, but when he started having stomach aches we started to put the pieces together.

While this is hard right now; hard to see him struggle with uncertainty and him not knowing how to explain it and us not knowing how to help – I need to remind myself that this is one more way for us to grow as a family and to find joy when we overcome (and continue to overcome) these obstacles together.

So how do we “delight” in struggles? That is a fabulous question! Especially since I’m still trying to figure it out. I usually have to talk myself into finding the joy of an inconsolable child who can’t tell me what’s wrong. And even though I know it doesn’t help, I hear the words, “Just stop crying!” come out of my mouth and all I want to do is kick myself for doing it all wrong…again.

But then I remember. I remember that even though I love my son more than I can say, we have a God that loves both of us more than we could ever imagine. And He hurts with us both; a young boy confused about why he feels unwell and a momma worried she’s only hurting her sweet boy more. It is easier said than done and I’m by no means an expert, but when I remember these things about my God, I find myself letting go of my doubts (or at least trying to) and focusing on my child. What does he need? Even if I don’t understand him, I do understand how I find comfort and all I can do is try my best to offer him that same comfort.

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“Hope When You’re Hanging by a Thread,” Alicia Bruxvroot, Proverbs 31 Ministries

Finding joy in day-to-day struggles can sometimes feel like another chore and searching for a reason to rejoice during the harder moments of parenting can seem downright impossible. But can you just imagine how much more fun life would be when we can accomplish this feat?

Thank goodness for laundry! We have appropriate clothing to wear and a way to keep it clean!

Thank goodness for dirty dishes – we’re eating!

Cliche? Maybe, but so important to remember, because when the harder struggles throw themselves at us we will be so much more equipped to rejoice instead of wallow in the depths of despair.

And as mommas…that is what our tiny humans need; the example of joy even when things get hard.

And please know I am writing this TO MYSELF as a reminder! Just the other day you would have taken one look at me and known I was wallowing and not even trying to find any sort of joy. And you would have been right! It is a constant choice that has to be made; a hard choice that often feels like “just one more thing” that is added to our momma to-do list, which is already never-ending.

But when we can focus on that joy – that small amount of delight that shines through the ugly struggle – our to-do list won’t feel as daunting. We can throw some fun into the day and help it to go by a bit smoother and calmer and cheerful. Our sweet little babies will see a momma willing to fight to the tough and they will learn that struggles only make a stronger when we remember know we don’t have to go through them alone.

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”  ~Romans 5:3-5

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{Delight} in 395(ish) days

Everyone knows a lot can happen in a year. And sometimes it takes longer than a year for things to happen, but why do we think a year should be the limit? Why don’t we still delight in our accomplishment even though it took an extra 30 days to get there?

The past 395 days have taught me plenty, but my biggest discovery has been that “me time” really is what you make it. I completely embrace this concept; if I can figure out a way to go grocery shopping on my own, I will jump at that opportunity (in fact I usually try to work it so I most definitely CAN go alone). Or, if I can lock myself in my bedroom to write – after the baby is in bed – I will relish in the quiet seclusion.

But what about during the day? When my brain has taken it’s maxed limit of baby screaming – how can I find a few minutes for myself amongst the chaos of busy boys and chores that keep stacking up? I had to learn that recharging my batteries doesn’t always look like reclining with my feet up.

In rewiring my mindset as to what is “me time” I’ve decided to think of the different things that I NEED to do during the week and find how to use the time I make for those chores into ways to recharge my batteries. And two concepts I have embraced, too: Progress over Perfection and Enjoy the Journey.

Progress in any area at any capacity is a win; instead of trying to make everything perfect and developing the right routine, but then exhausting myself when things aren’t “just so” I’ve chosen to delight in what I am doing right and just try to do a little bit better next time.

Enjoy the Journey – I’ve learned to laugh at myself; whether it’s a difficult new exercise or the irony of cleaning a space just have rowdy boys destroy it again. Also, to give myself grace. Didn’t get the toilets cleaned this week? Pretty sure the world will still turn! Sandwiches for dinner…again?! At least they got food! *wink, wink*

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So how have I worked self-care into my crazy days? It isn’t taking a nap while the boys sleep or it isn’t always going to bed early, but working out has come to be my ultimate “me time.”

A bit of backstory…(I know this is getting long, but please stick with me!)

I was always fit and “in shape” growing up and even through college. After EJ was born I worked at losing the baby weight, but when Miles came along (sooner than “planned”) and I became so overwhelmed with my 2 year old and newborn that I just let myself go. I figured chasing after two little boys should be exercise enough, right?! When I had a doctor appointment when Miles was about 18 months, I couldn’t believe how much I really had let myself go! I worked at getting back on track and found motivation in training for a 5K race.  About the time I think I’ve figured out how to take care of two little boys and keep on track by eating healthy and exercising, I find out I’m pregnant again…

But I vowed to do it differently this time. So last February I messaged a friend of mine. I had watched her share ideas of staying fit and being healthy on Facebook and knowing she had three young kids, I figured she would be a good example to follow and learn from.

She gave me exercises to do before baby was born and ways to prepare a little better for labor. (Side Note: You’d think the third time around would have been a bit smoother, but once again we had to issue an “eviction notice” and he wasn’t overly compliant.)

Jump ahead 3 months and the real work began. Jen (Owner of Front Range Fitness & Health) gave me weekly post-baby workouts and when came time to add running to the regimen, I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to run a mile without walking! It had been 4 years since the last time I had fully committed to training and running a 5K race; to say I had lower than average expectations is no understatement.

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When that first race came and went and I did much better than I anticipated, I knew it was time to get a consistent workout plan figured into my weekly routines. And this is where my “me time” really needed to turn a corner; stay healthy and keep up with the workouts or pat myself on the back and return to afternoon naps? Let’s just say I got stuck somewhere in the middle. Not completely sold out for consistent workout regimens but I didn’t let myself go, completely, again.

The New Year rolls around and I decide to take a huge leap and sign up for a 10K. A bit more ambitious than normal, but with a couple of girlfriends committed to run with me I stuck with the decision. And when Front Range Health & Fitness reached out to me again to join a year-long nutrition journey I jumped at the chance to get help to retrain my brain when it comes to not only my fitness but also my health habits.

We’re three months into the Precision Nutrition program and not only have I developed new habits, but I’ve learned why it’s important to make these habits. I’ve learned to CHOOSE better foods and which foods are the BETTER choice, but also not be super guilty for having a yummy juicy burger every once in a while! Learning new habits and also learning WHY I need these habits, has given more focus and understanding when it comes to my health than I have had my entire life. Oh, I’ve always known the gist of it, but having someone explain it all to me has helped immensely.

Continuing the journey…

I’m not big on weighing myself, but when I started noticing my clothes fitting differently and other people noticing a difference, I figured maybe three months of hard work had paid off! So, I pulled out the scale and the tape measure…it was definitely a pleasant surprise to find out I’ve lost 9 pounds and 2 inches! I haven’t been this weight since BEFORE I was pregnant with Miles.

WOW!

And while seeing those awesome results is a HUGE boost, my most favorite part is how much I’m learning about HOW to make the right choice and that it’s not the end of the world when I screw up; I just try to “do a little bit better” the next day!

There are still days that I can’t seem to scrounge up the energy for a workout and days that I eat too much chips and guac (ssshhhh…don’t tell Jen!!) but those days are becoming fewer and farther between because I always feel crappy later that day or the next day and I don’t like feeling like that, so I get back on track and make a better choice the next time!

What can you delight in about the last 395 days? Does it really matter that it took an extra 30, 20 or 10 days to reach that accomplishment or can you have a little celebration that it HAS BEEN ACCOMPLISHED?! Every goal, situation, or dream will always be a work in progress and as long as you do a little bit better – even 1% better – each day to help reach that result there will be something to delight in and maybe you’ll even learn a bit more during the journey when you focus on all the good happening right now.

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credit: Bible.com

“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Matthew 6:34

{Delight} in the Small Things

The month of February (and yes, into March) was a trifle trying to those of us in the wonderful state of Montana (I know North Dakota and the midwest are in the same boat!)

Snow and cold have kept us cooped up inside and away from planned activities that are part of our normal routines. With snow drifts the size of small hills and temperatures low enough to cause harm with limited exposure, there’s nothing that can be done outside – except for those hardy souls in the form of farmers and ranchers who brave the extremes to take care of the livestock that is our livelihood.

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Just a day of blowing snow making life a wee bit miserable!

As all stay-at-home mommas know there’s only so many things to keep little humans entertained while stuck inside. Even when “the sun is out!” – my middle firmly believes that if the sun is shining it’s nice enough to go out! – the temperature is freezing, which makes keeping them satisfied inside even harder. While cartoons, coloring, and crafts (these are very few and far between in my house; I mean have you ever tried to get little boys to do a craft nicely?) may help, there is no way to fully exhaust their unlimited energy. And on top of all that, they share germs. Even if they hate sharing toys their snot, coughs, and slobber is freely given to everyone.

So, what’s the secret to surviving the cabin fever?

I could give you any number of ways; ways that work for me, but would that really help? I know my methods probably don’t fit into everyone’s lifestyles and this really isn’t a “how to” blog. But I think one thing that can work for everyone is finding (and I mean looking and sometimes searching) for the little day-to-day moments that we can find delight in.

Trust me, this does not come easily for me. When my plans got thwarted due to the weather (which had been like the 4th time in two weeks), I hid in my bedroom and cried. (Thank you hubby for loving me despite my crazy emotions). But if I had attempted to drive that day the chances of me ending up in the ditch were very high.

So please know that I completely understand how some days finding delight in anything feels like one more task on our never-ending list of things to do. Sometimes the search for our delightful moments seems to exhaust us more than picking up the same toys over and over again, but that moment that you experience that delight and decide to savor it then comes the refreshing your soul needs. Then comes the renewed energy to get through the day.

I am so grateful that my sweet baby has two older brothers that thoroughly enjoy entertaining him; that my wonderful hubby understands my need for quiet time and makes a point to find ways to help with that when he can; amazing friends who are willing to listen to my venting; and family close by who are so wonderful about watching the boys when I am able to get out of the house, whether for only a couple of hours or for a whole day – I know there is so very much I should be thankful for and to find delight in.

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Roughly a week of being cooped up, but we were making the most of it with dancing during breakfast! pc: the Hubby

“Consider it pure joy, brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. ~ James 1:2-3

One Word {Delight}

Last year instead of a New Year’s resolution I decided to choose one word that I wanted to focus on during the year. It was TIME and I’m not entirely sure that I did much better with my time but I do feel like I thought about it more (and ended up being convicted more often than not) and how I was using mine.

When the beginning of December came around I started thinking of what my new word would be. I had been leaning toward JOY (and that’s where the title of the “Christmas Card” post came from!) and then I saw a quiz on Facebook (imagine that, right?!) that was to discover what your word for 2019 should be and decided to take it! It was through DaySpring, the Christian card company, and the Facebook post was sponsored by Max Lucado, so hey, why not?

The month of January got away from me and now as I sit to write this post I’m convicted again for not working harder to be DELIGHTed more during my day-to-day life. I always seem to find the “problems” I’m facing before I realize how much more there is to be delighted about.

And isn’t that the most frustrating part?

I have SO MUCH to be delighted about or to find delight in or to delight someone, so why can’t that be my focus? How about when the problems come rushing in I stop, take a breath and find the good?

DELIGHT (v) – to please (someone) greatly; (n) – great pleasure.

I love that “great pleasure” (Pleasure (n) – feeling of happy satisfaction); great, happy satisfaction. Another word for satisfaction is contentment and isn’t that really what everyone longs for? To be content; to feel full-filled; and to be happy all the while, too.

So what’s the secret to finding that?

CHOOSING to be delighted and to BE a delight to those around us. It isn’t easy. Our human nature tells us to look for the bad, whether in other people or our own circumstances. And on top of that, the recipe for delight is different for everyone.

We understand our need to be grateful (aka delighted) for what we’ve been given, but has it ever occurred that BEING a delight to others could, in turn, give us delight?

“When we show up with compassion for others, our own disappointments won’t ring as hollow or sting with sorrow nearly as much.” ~ Lysa TerKeurst, It’s Not Suppose To Be This Way

Talk about a New Year’s challenge (in February! HA)! I’ve been trying to work on this – progress over perfect – and I’m asking all of you to keep me accountable.

Despite the laundry, dishes, tantrums, colds, teething, choosing healthy (instead of easy!), working out, house cleaning, and whatever else that’s on my plate I will CHOOSE to be delighted in all of these aspects of my life. Not an EASY task, even if it sounds simple, it will be a choice I need to make every minute, every shirt, every dish, every “momma” cry, every snuggle, every apple, every run, every broom sweep that I undertake each and every day.

And when I get the chance to delight other people I hope I can recognize that opportunity and take it to show them that love does still exist in this crazy world. From teaching kids the love of Jesus, to assisting in the young mom with a crabby baby, to simply smiling at the elderly man having to shop for himself (maybe for the first time? Or lady shopping only for herself) – amazing how a person can brighten up with a simple, sincere smile from a stranger. And when they smile back you feel good, right?!

Beautiful how that works out!

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For the LORD delights in his people; he crowns the humble with victory. ~Psalms 149:4

If that isn’t an example to follow than I don’t know what is!

Joy in the Season

What a better way to use my blog than to write our “Christmas letter?!”

2018 started off with getting the last minute details done before baby Dexter joined our crew – March 23 – and ever since then we’ve been going full steam ahead in this chaotic, yet wonderful life of ours.

As everyone knows, last winter was a hard one and seemed to last overly long and in our case, here in the foothills of the Snowies, it was twice as long. What does that mean for us? Wet ground pushes seeding back, which pushes harvest back, but lots of moisture also means lush hay ground which means LOTS of hay. Yes, that’s a good thing and with all good things comes lots of work (however, that comes with not-so-good things, too). When the harvest is pushed back (partly due to a mild summer and not enough heat for things to grow) fall seeding gets pushed back. On top of those events being pushed back are the other odd need-to-do projects that would normally get done in lulls, but those lulls were filled up with the already pushed back items.

Good grief…the crazy circle of life on the farm! We are blessed to have had good crops all around despite the ever unpredictable Montana weather.

On to the family (which is why you’re here anyway!)

Baby boy #3 has made our family complete! It’s truly amazing how I could feel so overwhelmed and unsure about our new addition, but now that he’s here (nearly 9 months!) I can’t imagine life without him! I would most likely be getting more sleep and wouldn’t need to be chasing after his still somewhat sluggish crawling towards the stairs and trying to figure out the nap schedule BUT I am enjoying his sweet smiles and cuddles and these few months of momma boy snuggles (before he decides dad is more fun).

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2018 Polar Express bound!

Mr. Miles is rowdy and rambunctious as ever! He does have his sweet moments and watching him bond with Dex has been so fun, too. He loves to color and draw (those few quiet moments he enjoys) and he misses his big brother while he’s at school. I know if he could spend all day, every day with his daddy he would in a heartbeat. He has grown so much these last few months between not being the baby anymore and being the oldest while EJ is in school. He will be keeping us on our toes, but I wouldn’t want him any other way!

Big Brother EJ has had a very busy year and as his dad likes to remind me, “We’re only getting started!” He wasn’t entirely sure about having another brother (he really wanted a baby sister and keeps reminding me…silly boy!) but he loves Baby Dex and Dexter loves him, too. He played tee-ball over the summer and then had a couple of months of soccer this fall. About two days after soccer was over he asked when he could start playing basketball. Of course, we are thrilled with his love of sports and can’t wait to see where it leads him. Another fun thing to watch has been how his coordination has developed since starting school and spending time with older kids. He has pre-school three days a week for half the day. He has blossomed and grown so much these last few months and I am still amazed every time he comes home talking about something else that he’s learned.

Last spring was busy for Evan; between trying to stay caught up through the wet spring and getting everything ready for the big reunion, he’s been busy as ever since we moved 5 years ago. It’s been a joy for me to watch him teach EJ about sports and working with him even after a long day of the hard work it takes to keep things running smoothly. He is the boys’ favorite person/toy and I couldn’t be more blessed to have such a wonderful role model for them to look up to. This fall/winter he has been co-teaching the Financial Peace (Dave Ramsey) class at our church and will start reffing varsity basketball this season, too.

That just leaves me!

Everyone asks “How is life with three boys?” Loud…dirty…chaotic…but also, lots of random loves…lessons in laughing at myself…and being surrounded by handsome men my entire life! *wink*wink* All in all, any kind of motherhood is exhausting, but would we really want anything else? Some days, yes, but most days the out-of-the-blue “love you momma” and kisses and hugs make it all better and worth it. I do have a few ways to break up the frustrations of mom life; leading the kids’ church on Wednesday nights is a wonderful way to get out of the house and visit our awesome church family, but also gives me something to “work” on outside of mothering three boys. There are nights that can be total chaos, but they are a great group of kids and I’m grateful I can serve in this way. Winter time also brings about women’s league volleyball and gathering together with my amazing friends is definitely a highlight for me and worth the long drive and late nights. These times away from my kiddos – even just a few hours – helps me to realize what an honor it is to be their momma.

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Most recent family photo – EJ’s Christmas Concert

We’re looking forward to 2019 and all the adventure and memories it will bring.

I pray the new year brings blessings to you and any challenges can be viewed for the opportunity that God often molds them into (something I need to remember more often than not!).

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. ~Romans 15:13

{Time}…Where has it gone?!

I can’t believe it’s been so long since I’ve written! I remember thinking that I needed to write last winter before baby Dex was born, but apparently, I completely spaced actually following through with that thought. {insert forehead slap here}

Well, I only have eight months to catch you up on…let’s dive in!

We welcomed our sweet baby Dex the end of March and we have been thoroughly enjoying him these past 6 months. After a rough couple of months – oh hey, infancy stage – he has become so sweet and happy. And I have come to understand why the youngest is the “spoiled” one. We do just about anything to keep him happy while we’re trying to keep track of the other two! I also remember having such a great set routine with EJ and while we have somewhat of a routine with Dex, we are forced to be flexible due to all of the activities that we have going on already. “We’ll just figure it out” has become my new motto.

After a wild summer with a family reunion {nice having all our projects getting done! *wink*}; a wonderful haying season due to some wonderful moisture that kept the fires at bay; our first sports activity was completed with EJ’s first tee-ball season in June and now we’re onto soccer! And the most exciting has been EJ starting pre-school. Well, exciting for him – Miles wasn’t too thrilled with that change and he’s still trying to figure out how to get on without his brother, but he’s working on it. I have had to remind myself to extend more patience to him as he’s trying to learn how to play by himself. And when he comes to me every 15 minutes or so, I work on enjoying his company instead of becoming exasperated by it. A huge work in progress, to be sure, but one I’m hoping to embrace more as the year goes on.

While everyone has appreciated a “wetter” summer than last summer, there have been a few disadvantages. Some of our wheat crops haven’t ripened yet, which pushes everything back…and back…and back; the feeling of being pushed past the normal timeline is always a bit unnerving, but the guys always get things to work out for the best. From harvest to seeding, to shipping calves, to working cows and then hopefully a few weeks of respite before winter settles in – which really only means working on the projects that they haven’t had time for –  there’s never a dull moment!

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Or never a “still” moment.

I have come to cherish any “still” moment I can find. Sometimes housework gets brushed off, sometimes laundry doesn’t get done {or we dig through the clean stuff that isn’t folded yet}, sometimes the dishes don’t get clean before I fall into bed, but I’ve decided that if I can just sit still for 10 minutes while everyone else is sleeping than I will choose that moment and not let myself feel bad about it.

Back to our update…we are all well here at the Volf Ranch. Work is hardly ever ceasing, unless we let it for a few moments to enjoy together every now and then; boy #3 simply means more laundry and eventually more food {give him another 4 or 5 months!} and probably more bumps and bruises this momma cares to count; and while we may feel like time is flying by, it’s teaching us to more fully enjoy and cherish the moments we make along the way {especially the ones we don’t even realize we’re making!}. Those moments may be fleeting to us, but…

“With the Lord, a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”     ~ 2 Peter 3:8-9

Family {Time}

We like to take the boys on a mini “getaway” before we start calving because as most ranchers know once calving season starts there’s not a whole lot of opportunities to get away.

And since we also farm, once March and April roll around my husband and father-in-law are racing to get their planting done and by that time we’ll have Mr. #3 here, too!

So last week we took a few days to spoil our sheltered boys with two nights in a hotel along with a movie at the theater and a day filled with lots of fun activities! Most of these activities were overseen by the world’s best daddy; with me being 30 weeks pregnant I wasn’t able to take part in all of the fun. But I did get plenty of pictures taken!

These two boys adore their daddy and I’m so very grateful that he is able to – and makes the effort to – take the time to do these things with them. When we first started discussing us moving back my biggest worry was that he would get caught up in work and wouldn’t make the time to be with his family. That hasn’t been the case and I often need to remind myself of how much more time we get with him than if he was working a “normal” job.

There are days when we don’t see him all day, but then there are the days when the boys get to spend most of their time with him; yes, I do appreciate those days for the quiet house but more than that I appreciate those days because I know they are having the best possible experience “working” with daddy.

And it hit me, while I was sitting watching him swim with them, that it would all be different next year and I originally wondered how we’d handle three boys at a water park and then I remembered…well they’ll all be a year older, silly momma! EJ already almost has the confidence to swim alone (with a floaty) and I’m sure Miles won’t be far behind. Mr. #3 will be nearly 1 year old and I sat there wondering what this photo will look like.

 

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Swimming at Reef Water Park 2017

 

It made me a little sad – as we always say, it goes by too fast! But it also made me so grateful that this wonderful man makes sure he takes time with each of our boys and I know he will continue to do so. Even though there are times when I give him a hard time and I forget how much time he does get to spend with them, I know he will always try his hardest to make sure he makes time to wrestle and play and eventually, to shoot hoops, to teach driving and sharing his knowledge (even the questionable stuff *wink*). And these will be the things they remember – a dad they can look up to and learn from, who is fun and understanding, and who will try his hardest to make time to spend with them.

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. ~Proverbs 22:6