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The Confession
There are many days when I wonder if my children are going to turn out okay because in my mind, there are certain qualities that go with being a successful mother and wife that I’m not overly enthusiastic about. Take homemaking for example. I do what’s necessary to make it work, but I’m just not really into it. As I’m typing this post, I have dirty dishes in the sink, a pile of clothes in the laundry room that never seems to disappear, and I haven’t planned dinner for this evening because, well, I really don’t like to cook. I’d love to blame it on having a newborn and being super duper tired, which I am, but I can’t.

Motherhood is one of those “on the job” training careers (yes, career, honey), that no matter how smart you are, talented you are, or even how good you are with people (little or big), everyone begins the journey at ground zero. There’s no yard stick by which to measure ourselves and it’s useless comparing ourselves to someone else (even our own mothers) because they don’t have our unique child, our unique life, or our perspective. Suffice it to say, I realized a long time ago, that I don’t have enough hands, stamina, patience, or hours in the day to ever feel like I’ve lived up the the “mommy standard” that I still struggle with in my head.

But here’s the great news! If you’ve been given the opportunity to mother another human being, and you’ve stepped up to the challenge, then you have the resources (the gumption, my grandparents would say) inside of you, to make it work. We may not always know what to do in every situation and sometimes we drop the ball or make things up as we go along, and that’s okay. Ultimately, being a good mother is about the heart, not an ideal.

Motherhood isn’t just about our child’s growth, it’s about our own. (I believe that’s why GOD makes us all start from scratch). It’s about shedding light on our fears of failure and then finding that we have the courage to push through the obstacles and succeed. It’s learning that there’s more to life than having things “our way” and then having the patience to accept our children when “their way” is all they see. It’s finding out that true love for another human being is less about emotion and so much more about sacrifice. It’s hurting when they hurt, rejoicing when they rejoice, and unselfishly pushing them past yourself, so that they can find their own way.

I may not be the ideal homemaker, but I’d like to believe that having all the laundry done is a minute detail in the greater scheme of things. I’m always hopeful that it’s my strengths and love that will feed our children’s creative spirits, kind hearts, and determination to live their best lives.

I’ll probably always struggle a little with what I see as inadequacies as a mother on my part, but I guess a little insecurity is not so bad. It makes me try harder to be better which is a good thing for our kids to see.

Do you ever wonder if you’re getting it right as a mother? How do you manage those feelings?

Have a great week everyone!
Keep doin’ what you love.
Shannon

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M 2 Weeks

Our newest little feisty one.

Words don’t come easily.

Even grateful falls short.

My heart is full.

Motivation Mondays Getting close 800 x 400 Featured Header Canvas

Happy Monday Lovelies!

It’s 3:06 am and unfortunately, I can’t sleep. Yep, pregnancy insomnia has reared its not so pretty face. It’s funny to me now (well, not really) that outside of swollen feet and nausea, I’d forgotten most of the more interesting (and not so pleasant) physiological aspects of pregnancy. How could I forget that at some point I’d need 6 or 7 pillows strategically tucked around me before I could fall asleep? Or, that even after getting to sleep, I’d wake up 5 or 6 times before morning to ruuuunnnnnnn to the bathroom for an emergency potty break only to have a trickle of anything come out (too much of a mental picture for you? So sorry :).) Or, the hormonal mood swings? (Yep, I’m a wee bit on the cranky side these days. Sorry fam.) And what’s the deal with this annoying stuffy nose that started showing up around 2 or 3 in the morning? Ha! Ha! Really?

Shannon Preggers Gettin Close

Do you see where I’m going with all of this? No? It might look like I’m just complaining (and I am a little), but that’s not why I’m sharing my pregnancy woes with you.

The discomforts that I’m experiencing now in late pregnancy are no fun, but I understand that they are all just a part of the journey.

Whether we are birthing a baby, an idea or a dream, there comes a point in the process where things get uncomfortable. I believe that discomfort is the catalyst for change when we allow it to be. It forces us to make a choice, to adjust our perspective, and decide if we’re in it for the long haul, or if we’re going to throw in the towel and give up on what we’ve been so anxiously awaiting.

Pushing something that’s been growing inside of you out into the real world is hard work. I can’t hide my pregnancy, so it’s obvious that something is happening with me, but for many who are pregnant with dreams, goals, and amazing aspirations, it’s not so easy for others on the outside to see what you have developing inside of you, so when things get uncomfortable, it can sometimes be easier to just give up.

Allow me to encourage you today. If you feel something kicking around inside of you, and you can’t shake the feeling that something miraculous is just on the other side of the horizon, don’t let it go. Discomforts will come, but they are there to sift you and prepare you for the great gift of responsibility that’s about to be placed in your hands. So work with them, and let them do what they were meant to do.

When I think about the sleepless nights that are ahead once the baby arrives, I thank GOD for the little bit of insomnia now. It’s prepping me for what’s about to come, and I get it.

Believe in the process and trust GOD to work out the details.

Have a fantastic week!
Keep doin’ what you love!

Shannon

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Motivation Monday: Slowing Down and Taking Inventory

It’s so hard to believe that Christmas is less than 2 weeks away and 2013 is right on its heels. December is always a busy time for my family. Well, actually October, November and December are all busy months for us. Between family birthdays (most fall between October and November), Thanksgiving, Christmas, and just the regular daily activities, this time of year can be a little anxiety driven for me. Add to it a new baby on the way, and well, things can get interesting.

A couple of weeks ago, my grandfather passed away unexpectedly from lung cancer. Thankfully, he didn’t suffer long.  He was a strong man, so we are grateful that strong memories are the ones that we get to keep. But, he’s still gone and this is a hole, a void, a vapor that will be with us forever forward.

If you are steeped in the middle of holiday preparations, festivities, extended family time and more, I just wanted to encourage you today to take a step back from all of the “activity”, and remember.

That’s what I’m trying to do right now. Slow down, take inventory and stand still long enough to embrace the good.

Hope your week is super fantastic!

Keep doin’ what you love,

Shannon

Love Talk Motivation Mondays Mark

Whoa Hoo! I thought that title might get your attention.

(Altogether now)

  L-O-V-E    T-A-L-K

Ha! Ha!That’s fun to say.

I’ll be honest with you, when I think about the phrase “love talk”, I think about my sweetie pie hubby or those times when I cuddle with my kids and tell them how much mommy loves them. It makes them feel good to hear loving words, and it makes me feel good to say them! But what about ourselves? What kind of self-talk do you have going on in your head? Are your thoughts toward you loving and kind or are they hateful and mean? Do your thoughts sound more like:

Read more . . . [Redirect to MotivationMondays.org]

[yellow_box]Motivation Mondays is a weekly series posted at www.motivationmondays.org. I talk from a Christian perspective about my past struggles as well as triumphs in the hope that just as others have helped me along the way, my readers will find something beneficial to carry along with them throughout their week. I believe that community is important as well as honesty and transparency. Want to chat? Send me an email: littlekidsgrow (a) gmail (dot) com. My welcome mat is always at the door.[/yellow_box]

Motivation Mondays InadequacyIt was early.

Way before the sun came up.
The whole house was asleep, except for me. I was in a spare room, with the door closed, lights out, tears streaming down my face. Praying.

“GOD, this is so hard! Why do I feel like I”m failing in almost every area of my life?”

Somehow life as I knew it had turned inside out, and I was now just a spectator trying to make sense of it all.

Read more  . . . [Redirect to MotivationMondays.org]

[yellow_box]Motivation Mondays is a weekly series posted at www.motivationmondays.org.  I talk from a Christian perspective about my past struggles as well as triumphs  in the hope that just as others have helped me along the way, my readers will find something beneficial to carry along with them throughout their week. I believe that community is important as well as honesty and transparency.Want to chat? Send me an email: littlekidsgrow (a) gmail (dot) com. My welcome mat is always at the door.[/yellow_box]

2 Hours

Our kids were up all night.

Sneezing, runny noses, itchy throats from allergies.

Coughing, chest congestion and fevers  from secondary infections.

I was on call. Times 6.

Georgia Flowers . Little Kids GrowGeorgia is truly beautiful with its luscious green trees and flowers, but the pollen can be merciless. Last Thursday the count was over 8,000. I guess the light dusting of yellow snow made up for the white stuff we missed this winter. Just looking at the thick haze is enough to make an allergy sufferer pass out (or the mother of 6 allergy prone kids faint from the prospect of exhaustion). My little ones have been suffering in varying degrees since that day.

2 hours . . . of sleep . . me, last night. I think.

On days like today, I wanna kick and scream because I’m tired. I want to crawl back into my bed, but I can’t because my day is full. I MUST KEEP MOVING.

Did I sign up for this? Sure I did. It’s a part of the bigger picture. The one that includes our sacrifices because they, our kids, are a part of us—our physical, emotional, and spiritual DNA . The attachment is a harsh one because it is relentless. A tug, a constant pull at our hearts reminding us that we will always be their parent,  an indelible mark on the content of who they will become. In the harshest marshes of my personal battlefield, my sleepless nights, my discomfort, my concern and frustration,  they learn compassion, sacrifice and love by watching me. We are character builders in the deepest sense, even when we don’t realize it.

All of our circumstances demand something from us. How we respond to them determines the benefit to ourselves and others.

I hope your week is awesome! (and restful!)

Keep doin’ what you love!

Shannon

 

[yellow_box]Motivation Mondays is a series that I started to share encouragement with moms. I use my past struggles as well as triumphs as a backdrop for my writing in the hope that just as others have helped me along the way, my readers will find something beneficial to carry along with them throughout their week. I believe that community is important as well as honesty and transparency.Want to chat? Send me an email: littlekidsgrow (a) gmail (dot) com. My welcome mat is always at the door.[/yellow_box]

MINI-SERIES: Dream Snatchers

Bitter Pills

 

I talk a lot on this blog about reaching for your dreams, and believing  in your purpose. I also try to encourage you to not be so hard on yourself, and give yourself a break from time to time. Changing our perspective and moving forward in life can be challenging on its own.  But what do you do when you’re trying to have a positive outlook on life and there’s a negative person (I call them dream busters), hangin’ around?

I’m not talking about the occasional run in with a short-tempered driver sitting behind you at a stop light or the cashier at your favorite grocery store who seems to be in a perpetual bad mood.  I’m referring to  those negative people that for whatever reason share a more personal space with you. Take your pick, but it’s usually someone that you’re obligated to be around (family member, coworker, old friend). Most are cut from the same cloth. They are generally happy when you fail. Miserable when you succeed and would rather throw a bone than a sincere compliment if they knew it could help you. They’re usually the ones that have an uncanny ability to take you to the edge while simultaneously sucking all the good air out of a room. If you don’t have anyone in your life like this, you usually know a friend of a friend who does.

It’s easy to walk away from an annoying person on the street, but not so easy when you’re attached to them by those invisible obligatory strings. Growing up my mother use to always say, “Never let anyone steal your joy”, but the funny thing is, often negative people don’t have to steal anything from us because we give it to them freely. We don’t even put up a fight for what rightfully belongs to us, our peace. I have experienced this  in my own life on more than one occasion, and I want you to be able to recognize it for what it is and not give it more emotional space than it deserves.

Listen, I’ve been called idealistic, too positive, blah, blah, blah, but don’t let anyone fool you. That’s just a cop out. Life is tough, and it’s easier to swallow that bitter pill and act just like “them” than it is to stand your ground and demand your right to be  happy, to dream, to go against the grain and make a difference. We only have one life, our life. Only those who honor it as such have a right to share in it.

Life’s pills (obstacles) come in all shapes, sizes, and flavors,  including bitter human. Just remember that even the worst ones can make you stronger.

Enjoy your week, my friend!

Keep doin’ what you love,

Shannon

 

 

Right on the heels of last week’s slight panic attack (whew!), I ran across a very interesting article by Michael Hyatt (former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishing). In it he describes worry and imagination as two sides of the same coin. (Hmmm.) He basically says that both worry and imagination have to do with how we choose to think about our future. One depletes our energy reserves and the other energizes us.

I like this. I’m all for energy and lots of it!

This got me thinking about life and motherhood, and kids, and the whole craziness of it all sometimes.  But isn’t that what life is all about? The substance, the meat and potatoes of our existence: both good and  bad. Or, at least my perception of it? Life happens whether we want it to or not and  there’s no way to know with absolutely certainty the outcome of any situation. So, how does worrying make it any better?  It doesn’t. Just a bunch of wasted energy. . .and time . . . and brain cells . . . and emotions. (Can you tell what’s been on my mind this weekend?)

I like to think that I’m a pretty optimistic person. I love life and opportunity and just looking at the bright side of things in general, but there’s something about my kids, those little ones tethered to my heartstrings that shakes me to my core. Primal maybe. That instinct to protect at all costs. I don’t know. I’m definitely not comfortable with it. (sigh) If I could just figure out how to somersault off of the worry side and land feet first on the positive side of that coin every time, I’d be much better for it.

So what can I do?

I trust that GOD will give me what I need, when I need it and in sufficient quantities. In the meantime, I try not to let my life and how I respond to it teeter on the edge of a coin toss. I simply call heads and trust that it will land where it needs to land every time.

Whatever the challenge, whatever the task, we’ve already been given the tools to stand up to it.

Make it a great day!

Keep doin’ what you love,

Shannon

[yellow_box]Motivation Mondays is a series that I started to share encouragement with moms. I use my past struggles as well as triumphs as a backdrop for my writing in the hope that just as others have helped me along the way, my readers will find something beneficial to carry along with them throughout their week. I believe that community is important as well as honesty and transparency.Want to chat? Send me an email: littlekidsgrow (a) gmail (dot) com. My welcome mat is always at the door.[/yellow_box]

 

 

11pm . . . 2:12am . . . 4:31am . . . 5:17am . . . Okay. I’m up.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m HIGHLY uncomfortable with uncertainty, which is really crazy because having children and just living life in general is a sure guarantee for craziness at some point.

2 weeks ago my 5-year-old was playing around with his older brother. He lost his footing and fell head first onto the corner of a bench in their playroom. Immediately he had a giant gumball sized knot (looked like a basketball to me)  swell up between the bridge of his nose and his eyebrow. He screamed. I cried. My kids stared. Thankfully, my husband intervened and got some ice to reduce the swelling. It worked. By the next day the gumball was considerably smaller,  but it was at least 7 days before he no longer looked like some strange kid living in our home.

Why am I not used to this by now? We have a house full of boys. They wrestle. They fall off of things. They run around 24 hours a day whether inside or out. They climb trees, higher. . .higher . . .no, let’s go just high enough so we’d only break a bone if we fell, but nothing too serious. Everyday is truly an adventure in” let’s see if we can cause mom’s heart to drop just one more time”. I know they don’t really think this way, but from where I’m sitting, that’s what it feels like.

So, last week when my son was napping,  I noticed a slightly raised area near his brow where he’d fallen, so I ran my finger lightly across the area to check it. Was that a small piece of bone protruding? Seriously? Of course I shift into doctor mode. I’m on the internet looking up pics of facial anatomy. I’m looking at him and then back at the picture. Sinuses? No cartilage. Okay, no, bone. ACK!!!! I couldn’t tell. So, I go grab my husband and make him come into the room and look at our son. “What is that? “I ask pointing toward his face, already fidgeting around because I’m keenly aware of uncertainty’s presence in the room.  My husband shrugs his shoulders, leans in closer and rubs his finger across the protrusion. “I’m not sure what that is, but he’ll be fine”.

Umm. That’s not the answer I was looking for. You’re a guy, a boy, a male. Tell me that you did the exact same thing when you were his age and that you know with every ounce of certainty in your body that he is perfectly fine.

So then I call my dad. Another guy, boy, a male.

“Hey Dad, there’s this protrusion thing  just under the skin of his eye. What do you think it is?”

“Oh, it’s probably just a small piece of cartilage floating around”

“Huh?? What? Um. That doesn’t make me feel any better. “Cartilage floating around? What does that mean?”

“Well,  let me take a look at it tomorrow and I’ll let you know”. I have to wait another day? The suspense is killing me here.

So, the next day Grandpa Doc (He’s not really a doctor. He just plays one on TV. Ha! Ha!) examines the area and determines a doctors visit is probably in order. (Second and third opinions before the doctor’s opinion. Truly a village effort here, my friends.)

So, that’s where I am right now. 5am on Monday morning, typing some very raw (though slightly comical as I look back) feelings about motherhood, uncertainty, and just wishing for once that life didn’t have so many bumps, twists and turns. I’ll be taking my son to the doctor in a couple of hours which I’m not looking forward to. X-rays are sure to be on the menu today. Meanwhile, our little patient, climbed into our bed during the night and is now snuggled comfortably between my husband and me. It’s amazing how our children are able to rest in uncertainty. They generally don’t worry like we do. Their faith is in tact. I’m pretty sure that’s why JESUS said that we are to be like little children. They get it.

My prayer this morning was this:

FATHER, I trust you with all of my heart, but today, I’m not feeling like that’s very much. I’m trusting YOU to take the little that I have to give today and turn it into something great. Help me to walk in uncertainty and remember that YOU have it all under control.

Here’s hoping you’ll have the strength to look uncertainty in the eyes today without flinching!

Keep doin’ what you love, my friends!

Shannon

UPDATE:  x-rays were NOT required. Whew! The doctor said it was calcified scar tissue from the original injury that should disappear within a month or two. Thank you so much for your lovely comments and encouraging emails and support. Big hugs!!!

[green_box]For the winner of last week’s giveaway, click here.[/green_box]

[yellow_box]Motivation Mondays is a series that I started to share encouragement with moms. I use my past struggles as well as triumphs as a backdrop for my writing in the hope that just as others have helped me along the way, my readers will find something beneficial to carry along with them throughout their week. I believe that community is important as well as honesty and transparency.Want to chat? Send me an email: littlekidsgrow (a) gmail (dot) com. My welcome mat is always at the door.[/yellow_box]

 

What do you want to be when you grow up?

I heard this question a lot when I was a little girl.

I had a ton of answers too: Wonder Woman, ballet dancer, designer, singer, artist, model, doctor,  magician, circus acrobat, lawyer, translator, and more. You name it. I probably considered it. My dreams evolved and became more practical as I got older, but  it was those “far fetched” dreams that gave me hope and opened my mind to  possibilities.

When you have a family, sometimes it feels like you’re putting your dreams on hold, or putting them on the back burner. This is never fun because there’s always something in the back of your mind telling you that you’re missing out or your life isn’t complete. Even if your life is really good and fulfilling,  there’s still that nagging tug deep inside that says, “Hey, you forgot something,  . . . you know, over here in the corner?” I believe with all of my heart that each of us was created for a purpose, and that purpose is that seed planted deeply within us that we probably recognized at an early age, but because of life and circumstances tucked it away neatly and tried to ignore it.

This is something that I’ve been struggling with lately. As I get older and my personal space and time seems to be shrinking, I find myself having to fight those negative thoughts that tell me I’m getting too old, or I have too many responsibilities, or whatever shades of muck seem to be clouding my day and blocking my view.

So, here’s the deal and something that I absolutely know to be true:  Just because our circumstances change doesn’t mean that our dreams can’t become a reality. They may be packaged differently or we may have to take an alternate route to get to them, but if they are inside of us (that’s you and me), then believe me, there is a way to see them fulfilled.

Honestly, most the things that I’ve been able to accomplish in my life have had absolutely nothing to do with my circumstances. In one way or another my circumstances have always been contrary to any success I’ve achieved. There seems to always be something in the way — negative people, lack of support, hardships, bad timing, low self-esteem, no connections, blah, blah, blah. I attribute my ability to transcend these obstacles to my faith because it keeps me positive. And when I am positive, my thought life is healthy. And when my thought life is healthy, negative circumstances are nothing more than a vapor. Here today, gone tomorrow.

One of my favorite quotes reads:

Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Chose your words, for they become actions. Understand your actions, for they become habits. Study your habits, for they will become your character. Develop your character, for it becomes your destiny.

I don’t know if this quote originated from Ralph Waldo Emerson, Lao Tse, or Margaret Thatcher (The original source has been hard to pin down), but it doesn’t matter. This quote has most definitely rung true for me in my life.

So, how are you doing on your dreams? You know, the ones you had before life got busy and you started putting everyone else’s dreams before your own. I know that it’s hard to focus on yourself sometimes,  so I just wanted  to encourage you today to keep believing in yourself and the possibilities no matter what your current situation might dictate.

My father is one of the most optimistic people I know (My mom is pretty spectacular  too, but I’ll save that for another post :) ).  He’s been in a war, shot down and left to die in the middle of a jungle somewhere. He’s faced unbelievable obstacles in his life from discrimination to you name it. But growing up, I never would have known because he has always faced each day as a new beginning and a new opportunity to thrive, and because of this, he  has accomplished some really amazing things in his lifetime.

He was talking to me the other day about how thinking positively can affect the whole landscape of your life and how it doesn’t always come easily. Sometimes you have to fight for it. Fight for it? I asked. He explained what he meant by sharing how he starts his day:

Each morning I get up to prepare for my morning run. Sometimes it takes a minute to get the circulation moving. Sometimes I don’t want to move. I place my feet on the floor and wiggle my toes. I first thank GOD for the day to begin my day with gratitude. While I’m sitting there in the dark, I put a big obnoxious grin on my face and hold it there for at at least 30 seconds. Then I make my way to the bathroom, flip the light switch on and just look at myself with that big goofy grin. I can’t help but laugh at myself. This is how I start each day.

I’ve started doing this, too, my friends, and it works! Laughter is like medicine, except it works on your heart, your soul and your outlook. So many times I listen to my children laughing and marvel at how easy it is for them to “crack up” at the silliest things. And then I put one of those goofy grins on my face and look in the mirror. Then I remember. It changes my disposition, reminds me not to take myself so seriously, and places me in a really good position to command the day. That dreaming little girl from a long time ago peeks around the corner and says, “I’m still here. You can do this!”.

Life is short. You are important, and so are your dreams. Don’ t think of your life and your dreams as “either or”. Just figure out another way to make them happen! Your dreams are not only about you. They also make this world a better place.

Happy Day!

Keep doin’ what you love!

Shannon

 

Happy Monday, Everyone!

I hope your Thanksgiving was filled with lots of good food and family. This time of year is especially exciting for us because the majority of our family’s birthdays fall between October and November. I love the family time, but truthfully, if I didn’t see another birthday cake for a year or so, I’d be just fine :).  Between 2 birthday parties, a Thanksgiving dinner, family visits, and an out of town guest (all within 3 days), everything is a blur. I missed it. I was there, but I wasn’t present. . . in the moment. So now, as the dust begins to settle, and the sugar rush from the cakes and heaviness from a super full tummy have begun to wear off, I’m left wondering, “Is that it?”  Shouldn’t there be a more lasting impression from the events of the last few days besides crumpled wrapping paper, empty toy boxes and a few extra lbs. around the midsection? (Yep, my dusty elliptical trainer is calling my name.)

So, here’s the reality check for me: It’s not enough to just be present, if we’re unable to engage. I tell my children all the time to not be in such a rush to grow up; to enjoy the moment; to relish the journey. How much more does this apply to me, to us? When I talk to my mommy girlfriends, most of them are facing the same frustration. How do we actively engage in the moment, when the sheer weight of responsibility on our plates precludes us?

It’s something to think about.

I must remind myself to slow down and smell the cake.

Happy Week!

(Join me tomorrow for another Pinterest Sewing Tip)

Keep doin’ what you love!

Shannon

[yellow_box]Motivation Mondays is a series that I started to share encouragement with moms. I use my past struggles as well as triumphs as a backdrop for my writing in the hope that just as others have helped me along the way, my readers will find something beneficial to carry along with them throughout their week. I believe that community is important as well as honesty and transparency.Want to chat? Send me an email: littlekidsgrow (a) gmail (dot) com. My welcome mat is always at the door.[/yellow_box]

 

 

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