Stupid Chapstick (when Mother’s Day stings…)

As I was doing the dishes tonight, I felt prompted to reblog this one. Its always a good reminder on this Mother’s Day Eve. I hope it’s a blessing to you!

Much love and Happiest of Mothers Days to you!!
Anna

mrs anna maher

photo-1457153797314-80e6a376a555.jpeg“She is NOT a mom” the lady behind me LOUDLY whispered.

It was Mother’s Day and the “gift” was chapstick. The year before it was a pen. Let’s be honest, a pen is not the gift that every woman longs for. But chapstick, I mean most of us could use another chapstick rolling around the bottom of our purses, right?

They passed the gift down the row, and there was one extra once it got to me at the end of the row. I wasn’t a mother yet. But oh how my heart ached to be. We were walking the difficult unchartered waters of infertility. I thought perhaps that extra chapstick was some kind of sign. A sign that God saw me. And then the lady behind me loudly blurted the above statement and crashed my hopes. (Relax I know He saw me… I’ll get there.)

My mom says I…

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The Story

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This morning I laid the girls down and slipped out the front door in my sweatpants. Chuck was about to get ready for work so I decided to capitalize on him still being home and sneak in a little alone time. 

This morning Chuck said, “I have an Autumn hangover.” I think she’s breaking in some new teeth and has been crying “mamamamama” in a deep and loud voice in the middle of the night. Poor Charlie just rolls over and tries to get back to sleep to get in her tight 12-13 hours. She’s not quite herself these days either. The unusual nights have made way for unusual days. It makes getting up early challenging and thus starting the days already feeling behind. 

Sometimes in the midst of days and nights like this the brain starts to feel like mashed potatoes and it’s easy to loose perspective of the bigger picture at play. Chuck had community night last night so I crawled into bed early and had a little quiet time before he got home. The Father faithfully reminded me of the story He is writing with our seemingly small lives.

As I sit in Starbucks and spend time in the Psalms, I am reflecting a bit on the beautiful story He has and is writing. There has been bliss, pain, and redemption. There has been mystery, confusion, and many times where I have had to tell my soul what’s true when my emotions screamed a different story. 

He’s taken me to places beyond what I could ask or imagine. I’ve lived on both coasts, something this Texas girl certainly didn’t see coming. I’ve traipsed about on 5 of the 7 continents. I met a Canadian in California and married him in Texas. I’ve endured and overcome the heartache of infertility. I’ve miraculously conceived and carried twins to term after going into labor at 27 weeks. I’ve found time and time again that the things I think I am running behind on seem to happen right on time. Can you relate?

I am just somewhere in the middle of this story. There is much more to come. There is bliss and beauty and brokenness that awaits me.

And I bet you are too. I bet you are living in the mixture of fulfilled dreams and mystery.

I encourage you to grab a warm drink (is it cold where you are too?) and maybe lite a candle and reflect a bit on your story thus far. It’s easy to get caught up in the challenges of today and forget how far you’ve come and how beautiful your story truly is.

Let’s not miss the beauty of the story He’s writing in the mush and mundane of today. He’s in the business of making beautiful things and I would confidently bet He’s making beautiful things in and through you. Look how far you’ve come!

The Psalms have been a lifeline to me lately, and I stumbled across this one today.

“You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.”

‭‭Psalm‬ ‭139:5

Well I am back home now and there is laundry to be folded so I’ll leave you here with this   song by Housefires that so aptly applies to our topic.
Much love,
Anna

A Place to Rest

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How are you today?

Or, do you even have time to ask yourself?

I can often fall into that trap. Sometimes the day to day fills up the time with vacuum like speed and there’s little time to check in with my soul.

I feel we are for the most part past the crazy days of having newborn twins. I remember in those days when it got really, really hard, I’d tell myself, “grace is coming.” And every time, it would. The girls would sleep an extra hour, or someone would come by and clean my kitchen, or bounce my girls so I could get away for an hour or so. One time Chuck walked in the door, and I handed him the girls, a couple ounces of milk and basically ran to the apartment gym! He said, “don’t you think they will get mad when it’s gone and they are still hungry?” I think I mumbled, “I don’t know” and
“I’ll be back in half an hour.”

Anyway, the chaos of those moments has subsided, and most days the girls nap really well at basically the same time. (PRAISE THE LORD!) A friend recently said, “I think your girls are good sleepers for you.” Yep, she’s right. That’s my dose of grace most days. But, obviously life is still busy and full.

This morning I am pondering rest and reminded of Hebrews’ take on the subject.

So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief. Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. Hebrews 3:19-4:1

Biblical rest is a state of the heart. Biblical rest isn’t about marshmallow soft pillows and hours of lounging.

God wants to give you rest today.

He wants to give you rest amidst your current chaos. He wants to give you rest in the midst of your unknowns. His rest isn’t dependent on 8 hours of sleep. His rest is based on believing His goodness is bigger than any challenges you are currently facing. He is good. He is working all things together for your good. He is fighting for you. You can BE STILL and KNOW THAT HE IS GOD today in this very moment.

But I have calmed and quieted myself,
    I am like a weaned child with its mother;
    like a weaned child I am content.

Psalm 131:2

I am praying for you today. May your sweet heart be filled with rest today. May He calm the storms that rage against your soul.

I’ll leave you with Psalm 23:2 from the Passion Translation –

He provides a resting place for me in His luxury-love. His tracks take me to the quiet brooks of bliss, the oasis of peace. That’s where He restores and revives my life.

May you find His Presence today. He is there. He is here. He is in the midst of our mess and our lives. He is near and He longs to hold you and carry you throughout this day.

Love,

Anna

Wait, is cleanliness next to godliness?

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I wouldn’t say the new year has had the best start for me. For the first 8 days, I was fighting a sinus infection. We came home from Christmas with colds, the girls and Chuck shook them off pretty quick, but my sinus infection was a bit more stubborn.

This led to a lot of nights with less than ideal sleep. This is not a good for me. I know some people can survive on slivers of sleep, but none of those people live in my house.

I sat down so weary and cranky last night and decided to journal a bit before bed. And to my shock, the Lord started to speak to me about a clean house. He told me that I need to rest more and that a clean house doesn’t represent a happy healthy home. And He brought up the word He’s been bringing up for over a decade – abide.

I come from a family of get it doners. And I really love feeling like my life is ordered and organized (and okay maybe in control). If you want to get cured from that disease, I highly recommend having twins. Because control is no longer an option. It’s been 11 months of letting go… Well really 13 months, because bed rest really limits the ability to keep the house clean and organized. If the house keeper missed a spot vacuuming, I would stare at it day after day until she came the next week. A trip to the bathroom caused contractions, therefore vacuuming would have sent me straight to L&D.

The Lord has been teaching me once again about abiding. It doesn’t mean I don’t clean or cook or do my chores, it means I include Him in every aspect of my life. It doesn’t mean a clean house isn’t nice or even important, it means a clean house is not in anyway a sign of success.

Success looks like abiding.

Success looks like really connecting with my babies.

Success looks like being nice to my husband.

Success looks like a house that’s a refuge from this world.

Success is a house filled to the brim with joy and peace.

I often want a black and white rule book for life. I want it cut and dry, no mystery or challenges. But the problem with that is it cuts Him out of the equation. Abiding in His rest isn’t about everything being perfect, it’s about allowing the Prince of Peace into every mess.

Life is messy and unclear and that’s why we need Him. If it’s too cut and dry, I often begin to function on my own strength. And when I do that, without fail, I end up utterly exhausted because I wasn’t designed to do this life on my own.

 

Well, I better put in a load of laundry, or have a nap… 🙂

 

May you enter His rest today!

 

Love,

Annanhhguo-2ypw-andy-fitzsimon

Finding connection in a LOUD and lonely place…

download-17.jpgLoud doesn’t equal connection.

I just googled the loneliest city in America, because I recall hearing it was New York and discovered that you can rent a cuddle in Tokyo. What?! I’ll admit my source was google, but has our modern world really come to this desperate place? Renting a cuddle people, how sad is that?

In some ways, I find it surprising and in others, not at all. Most of us live with so much fake connection. We spend more time scrolling than looking into the eyes of those we encounter. It’s a quick hit that doesn’t require giving of ourselves at all.

Real people have real needs.

And sometimes we are just so tired from all the scrolling that we don’t have time to consider meeting those needs.

Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Ephesians 4:2

Real people require things like humility, gentleness, and patience.

And sometimes we are just so tired from all the scrolling that we don’t have the energy to be humble, gentle, or patient.

The result is a very lonely generation. We’ve bought the lie that it’s better to receive than to give and created a vacuum of unmet needs.

I heard an older lady talk about what her days where like as a young mom. She said they often went to each others houses and ironed while the kids played. Y’all I don’t even iron my own clothes (or my sweet husbands) let alone my friends! But it was such a picture to me of community and living life WITH people.

Honestly, I’ve had some really good examples of living in community. I spent 9 weeks on bed rest with the twins and I had community bring us meals. Friends brought over a months worth of diapers (for two babies!). Friends brought me coffee, watched shows with me, switched over laundry, and even cleaned our apartment. Not gonna lie, it was way harder for me to be on that side of community. I’ve spent years helping and working for families and having someone clean our toilets, do our dishes, or make our bed felt super vulnerable at times. I think the Lord was preparing me to be able to receive help, because with twins sometimes you can’t survive without it!

Real community requires vulnerability. Often vulnerability is the thing we fear the most. The thing about the online world is that we can choose what to share! No one has to see our dirty laundry, messy bed, food caked dishes, or the state of our toilets. We don’t have to let them into our world. We just crack the door and show the world our best sliver.

But if that’s all we do, deep down there’s an emptiness. Deep inside there is a longing to be really known. Beyond the fear, there’s an innate desire to throw open the door and welcome someone in despite the laundry baskets that need to be folded.

Y’all cuddles should never have to be rented!

The world around us is LOUD. So many voices. So many opinions. So much hiding behind screens while inwardly dying to be known.

So today put down the phone. Look into your loved ones eyes. Memorize the moments that really matter. Because today holds tomorrows “remember whens”. Someday you will refer to today as “the good ole days”.

If you are feeling lonely, may I suggest you find a way to meet anothers needs. Take a new mom a meal. Give a mom a break and get some free cuddles. Ask your spouse questions like you would have when you were dating. Make a meal to savor tonight with friends or family. Take a friend to coffee and pursue their heart.

Do to others as you would have them do to you. Luke 6:31

Don’t miss the beautiful life before you- connection is worth it!

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What I am learning from living in a 1940’s home…

download-13.jpgWe recently moved from our 2nd floor apartment to a 1940’s bungalow. I imagine it was built in the post-war era when the world was putting itself back together and trying to find normal again. Sometimes I sit on the porch sipping sweet tea and try to imagine what it was like back then. I plan to start doing more of this now that the temperatures have dipped and hopefully the mosquitos are gone. (We’ve had a bit of a stand-off as to whose porch it actually is.)

Living in this house has its charms and challenges.

I am also currently having a bit of a stand-off with a mouse, which makes me a bit nauseous. He/she ate an entire roll the other night. Don’t come between me and my carbs man. Now the trap is set, but it seems to be playing Houdini. This aspect is not so charming…

Then there’s the original wood floors, natural light, and arched doorways that make me swoon. Oh and the way the trees hold hands over the road. The girls and I love our daily walks under their big canopies.

I’ve noticed some things about the new neighborhood that make me ponder the olden days. One is that our main living space is on the front of the house. I feel like more recent homes put the living spaces in the back. Another thing is that the front yards are bigger than the back. I feel like this represents how things have changed when it comes to community and neighborhoods. Back then community and neighborhood were interchangeable. Your neighbors were your people and your people were your neighbors. Your social life would largely take place out in front of your home. Community didn’t have to compete with cell phones. People sat on porches and talked to their neighbors. Kids chased fireflies and I imagine the lines between yards blurred at times.

So living in this house reminds me that life is meant to be lived with people. Blinds are made to be opened. Porches are for sitting. Homes are meant to be shared. And even though it looks different in this decade (what do you call this? The 10’s?) I think we can still open our hearts and our homes and share our lives with the people around us.

Well one of my people is awake from her nap, so I’ll sign off here.

So find your people and enjoy them today!

Love,

Anna

 

 

shameless parenting…

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I woke up startled and looked over at my newborn baby sleeping in her rock n play. She wasn’t making a sound, but I said “she’s cold” to my husband. I took her temp and sure enough it was 96.1. Poor babe, she didn’t have enough fat on her itty bitty body to regulate her temperature yet. I knew because her sister was in the nicu trying to get out of the isolate which kept her warm. So for the first several months of their life the girls had their own personal space heater even though we live in San Antonio, TX where the weather rarely dips into sweater weather.

Being a new mom can be absolutely terrifying.

I’ve been babysitting since I was 11. So basically I’d been watching countless other children for 2 decades before I had my own children. But nothing can compare to the weight of responsibility of taking care of a helpless newborn. Although it was terribly sad to have Charlie in the nicu at least it gave me 11 days with just one 4 pound baby.

The first night we had Charlie home I freaked out, called the nicu who transferred me to the ER, and thankfully was able to get a hold of their doctor who calmed my fears and gave me some practical advice.

The thing that has calmed me and quieted my fears the most in these six months is believing that the Holy Spirit is leading us as parents. It’s believing that He wants us to be successful parents. And believing that He wants goodness for the girls even more than we do.

I think perhaps the most detrimental thing to parenting is comparison. It’s believing that one way is best in the thousand gray areas of parenting. In order to parent without shame we must believe that it’s okay to do things the way the Holy Spirit is leading us with our children. It will not and SHOULD not all look the same.

“He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.”

Isaiah 40:11

There are so many decisions to make as parents, so many choices. It can be overwhelming, but I really do believe that the same One who has knitted them together wants to lead us as parents. And thankfully, He is even bigger than our decisions. His love for them is bigger than we can even imagine, so go easy on yourself, take a deep breath, and listen for that still small voice.

One last thought… I’ve been a little shocked at times at the judgement we can easily pass on other parents. I think often it can come from a place of fear in ourselves and wanting to feel like what we are doing for our kids is the BEST thing. But let’s be kind to the other parents out there and be okay with decisions that they make and feel are best. Let’s trust that God is big enough to lead us in individual ways as families. Let’s try to encourage each other, there is so much life on encouragement, and I’ve yet to meet a mom or dad who don’t need some!

I pray today that His leadership for you as parents comes with grace and ease. May you be led by His peace with those He’s entrusted to your care.

You are doing a better job than you think you are!

Love,

Anna