Smallness

It has been awhile since I have written anything….

I am so grateful to have received emails and messages from readers asking me when I was going to be back. Well…

I’m back!

I apologize for taking such a long hiatus. The truth is that this blog began to permeate all different aspects of my life. At first it was wonderful, but as it began to affect my emotions and my actions throughout the day it became clear that I needed to take a break.

You see, I am horrible at setting boundaries. I am a people pleaser by nature, and have used the way that others view me as a means of defining myself far to often. I LOVE connecting with my readers, but I had a truly difficult time separating a few reader’s negative comments from how I see myself. Writing on this blog has always been a means of journaling for me. Documenting my real life mistakes, triumphs, growths and set backs is therapeutic to me. To my delight, God has used my “journaling” to speak into the lives of other moms and that has made writing all the more worthwhile to me….

but then suddenly a post I wrote a few months ago (you can read it here…) went viral. At first I was ecstatic! I couldn’t believe what I was writing was resonating with so many mamas! But then came the influx of negative comments, messages and remarks. I was appalled at the names I was called, the feedback I was given and at the number of women it was coming from. They attacked not only my writing, but who I am at the core – my relationship with Jesus and my ability to parent. I had to step back. I shut down. For all the good I felt I was doing, at the time I just couldn’t handle the negativity.

I have spent the last few months trying to figure out why the “bullying” got to me so deeply. Is it because I wasn’t expecting it? Was I overreacting?

Or was it because, maybe, just maybe, I have been holding too highly what others think of me? Was I seeking the approval of strangers over the approval of myself, or worse – over the approval of the only One who truly matters?

I’m reading this book (that I literally cannot wait to review for all of you) that has brought to my attention something that has completely shifted my entire world. Maybe it will shift yours too, especially if you are a self proclaimed control freak like me…

We can control our actions, but we can’t, no matter how hard we try, control the outcome…

and more than that?

We weren’t designed to.

smallness

My excitement over a post going viral and reaching so many people has really brought to my attention this desire inside of me to be bigger than I was made to be. I get overwhelmed with the problems in our broken world and somehow, some way, I just want to be able to fix everything….

But I can’t. And neither can you.

As moms, we so desperately want to make the world a better place for our children to grow up in. We want to protect them from everything that is wrong, fix everything that could hurt them and shield them from the parts we don’t ever want them to see.

But what we can do is have faith that God is working everything together for good. We can have faith that the little we can do can contribute to the bigger picture. We can have hope in the God for whom nothing is impossible…

We can embrace our smallness and focus on the world thats evolving right in front of us. We can rejoice in the fact that we don’t have to carry everything alone, and that we don’t have to be responsible for more than God has placed in our lives.

So what do we focus on?

Our home, our family, our children, our community, and whatever mission field God has placed on your heart. We can let go of the rest and be reassured that to each problem God has called the right people.

We can put in our best effort in our most worthy areas of life and then we can let go of worry and let God decide the outcome.

We are called to plant the seeds, not to make the garden grow. 

Being small isn’t a problem to overcome, its a gift that God has given us. We don’t have to take on more than our share, because the God who created the Universe has control of the rest.

So embrace your smallness Mamas. Focus on the world in front of you. Say yes to those callings and desires that come from God. Slow down and enjoy the time with your children. Plant seeds and wait for the harvest.

Define yourself by your efforts and not your outcomes.

I look forward to connecting with my readers again. I can’t wait to join in on the conversations again with you that have helped me to grow so much!

And if you are looking for an awesome read check out Simply Tuesdays by Emily Freeman. I promise that you will not be disappointed…

“To sit on a bench means to keep company with one young girl before a glorious angel, sent by God to invite her into the greatest mystery of all time. You will bear a child and call his name Immanuel. And her one small yes became the holy gateway from heaven to earth. Our part is not ushering heaven to earth. Our part is one small yes…..Heaven is already here. With our work, we get to build benches that line the roads of the kingdom of God. But we don’t get to say how many will sit on them.”

-Emily Freeman, Simply Tuesdays

New Month, New Virtue

Last month I wrote about how we were going to spend each month focusing on a different virtue with our girls. Last month we focused on Joy and we had so much fun. I don’t know who it helped more, the girls or my husband and I, but being intentional about creating and living in joy made a huge different in our attitudes towards all of the different parts of our day. I will be writing up a post soon highlighting some of our activities and what we learned….

Virtue:LOVE|meaghanmorris.com

But this post, albeit a week late, is about the virtue of the month that we are focusing on…

LOVE.

I am excited about this one.

When I picture our family of four girls as they get older, I see them being the best of friends. There is something about sisters that is just so beautiful.

But lately, my girls have been fighting A LOT. They can’t agree, they put their selfish needs ahead of the feelings of their sister and someone ends up in tears….

I know, I know, its normal for siblings to go through seasons of not getting along….

I still have a scar from when my little sister stabbed me with a pen, and I vividly remember throwing a blow dryer at her among other things…

But, last night, after an exchange of hurtful words I heard a phrase I don’t want to hear again…

“Mommy, she hurt my heart.”

In our house, I want my girls to be free to explore their personalities and feel safe expressing their opinions and emotions, but not at the expense of their sisters feelings.

The author of the book we are using to guide us along this virtue adventure, Courtney Defeo, talks about focusing on sibling love and I love this idea.

As my kids grow, I want them to love neighbors and strangers and the whole world the way that Jesus loves us, but right now I want them to learn that by figuring out how to love each other well. What better training ground than the different personalities right in front of them?

So that is our focus for our month on love. The book, In the House, We Will Giggle, has a ton of great ideas on how to incorporate that into your kids daily life by showering each other with random acts of love, without expecting anything in return!

In addition, I will be reading The Five Love Languages of Children, so I can start to pinpoint the differences in how each of the girls receive love, for myself and for their benefit. I think that its so important for them to not only understand that showing love to others is important, but that everyone receives love differently.

We are looking forward to seeing our girls hearts grow softer towards their sisters this month, and I will be updating each week on how it has been going.

Stay tuned this Friday for 5 Ways to Encourage Your Kids to Love Each Other!!

We love because He first loved us.” 

1 John 4:19

Link ups are a fun way to find new blogs and share your posts with new readers!

Here are the awesome link ups that I participate in:

Fridays:

Motivated Days Weekend Wind Down! 

To the man who created the billboard my daughter just saw on the expressway…

To the man who created the billboard my daughter just saw on the expressway….

Mama Meet Up!

Hey Mamas!!!

This is one is for you…..

I read an article not too long ago talking about isolation in mamahood…..

Truth: A lot of us feel alone a lot of the time!

This truth gets to me a lot. I have been blessed with some incredible friendships on my motherhood journey. And these friendships have turned into my lifeboats in times of stress. To think there are so many mamas out there who don’t have these relationships saddens me to my core.

Because we are intricately designed to NEED fellowship. Our souls crave the ability to connect with other mamas face to face, to share, laugh, cry, vent, seek advice and just to not feel ALONE.

So I am so proud to announce the start of a For Mamas Only group here in Rochester!

What is a For Mamas Only group???

Truthfully – its just a safe place to come together and meet up with other mamas in our area to talk and drink free coffee without kids. Its not a playgroup, or play date or a “Let’s try to talk while our kids run all over Bounce It Out and we never actually finish a sentence” meet up.

We can drink coffee, talk, share stories, struggles and hard ships, seek advice and just love on one another.

My hope??? That any mama who joins us will go home feeling refreshed and that this group becomes the catalyst for great mama friendships for a lot of you.

This first meeting will just be a chance to kind of hang out, talk, and get to know each other….

it might even involve some cheesy ice breakers…..

But going forward we are going to read through the book Desperate together and use this book to formulate some discussions on motherhood and parenting that I think a lot of us could benefit from. (Find out what happened after I dove into the first chapter here.)

From there……

who knows!! We can pick a new book together, or look into some other format.

I want this to look like what YOU want it to look like.

So please, please, please…

Join me…

Because I really want to hang out with you.

Mamas Only Group Ad

On the days I don’t want to be a mom…

Its ironic how I had a whole entire post planned for today on how we were tackling the sass problem in our house. With 4 girls attitudes can escalade quickly, but with a new plan in place yesterday went amazing!

And then today happened.

I am not sure why, but each of the girls woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. You know, the one where they are angry at the world and I am the scapegoat? That one.

I don’t know what in the world a two and a three year old could have to be upset about, but they were determined to make sure that Mom wasn’t going to get her way today. Emerson didn’t want to nap when she normally does, eat when she normally does or play when she normally does.

And Gabbi? Well 8 year olds can have it out for you in the best way. And by best I mean worst.

Each girl had me in tears before lunch and it isn’t even that time of the month. I spent most of the day alternating between blubbering mess and angry sailor (complete with the vocabulary and everything…).

With each incident of disobedience, each argument, time out, unfinished chore, demand and crying episode my resolve began to plummet, along with my self worth and my anxiety began to rise.

Today was going to be over and I was going to have nothing to show for it. No completed chore or project, no preschool lesson taught, or milestone achieved, no new clothes on anyone – not even me and I was going to have to go to bed realizing that I had failed.

Why does this happen so often? Maybe if I had some other job, calling, title then my days would go smoother. Why did this job choose me? Why did I choose to be a mom??? Why did I choose to be JUST a mom??

See, I have this problem. I am Mom so much that I forget sometimes that I am ANYTHING else. I can’t separate Meaghan from Mom, and because of that I can’t separate a bad day from a bad me.

The pressure, responsibility, busyness, and work that comes with raising these little girls is more than I bargained for at times. But, I have to remember that while I am a key part of the plan for their life, they are a key part of mine. God created ME. Meaghan. He has a plan, purpose, desire and path for ME.

Being a mom is PART of this plan. Yes, I am raising these amazing little souls. Yes, I love it 99.99999% of the time and it makes up more of who I am than I ever thought possible….

But when it begins to define me more than being a daughter of Christ, that is when is ceases being part of my calling and begins becoming part of my value.

God never intended for our value to be defined by what we do or don’t do, by whether we succeed or fail, are happy or depressed, are multitaskers or focused, fat, thin, tall, short, or anything in between. He created us to be who He sees us as, to fulfill his purpose, to receive his love and to love him in return.

When we define ourselves by His grace, we can never come up short.

So on the days like today when I don’t want to be a mom. When I want to throw in the towel, crawl back in bed, hide under the covers and wait until tomorrow, I have to remind myself to only define myself by what really matters.

Even when my kids don’t like me, I am created by a king who loves and adores me every second of every day and the only thing that he desires from me is that I love him back.

Back To School…

Back to routine.

Thank goodness.

I love the holidays, I really do, but December always makes me realize how much more I enjoy our everyday life. I like to be busy, but the business that comes with the holidays plus the attitudes that come with exhausted and overwhelmed kids drives me a little nuts.

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(The girls at Bounce It Out over Christmas Break)

Today, I was so happy to get up early and have our normal routine back. I was sad to see Gabbi go back to school, but I was glad that she would be reunited with her friends and get back into her own weekly routine instead of bugging me DAILY for something to do.

The girls and I did our normal Monday morning meal preparation and made snacks for the week. We created our new reading nook, read stories and cleaned the house. Now, the girls are happily laying down watching their movie and I am enjoying the quiet calmness of our regular Monday quiet time.

Matt and I sat down a few days ago to really talk about what we wanted to focus on this year, and staying within our routine was one of the big ones. Our kids are at the age now where they need the regularly scheduled activities, chores and family time that comes along with having a weekly routine. We have always had a pretty lose routine, but I admit that I tend to change things up a bit and it drives Matt and the girls a little nuts.

My personality tends to lend itself more to spontaneity, busyness and flexibility. But, this season of life welcomes consistency. And we also want to focus on encouraging the girls to help out more, which requires set times for their chores and available time for extra privileges when they complete everything. I am not the best at staying on top of chores with the girls. I tend to quickly get frustrated and end up completing things myself to make things go quicker. This year I am going to be making an intentional effort and allowing for the time each day to teach the girls the proper way to complete their chores, as well as the time to allow them to get it done.

To encourage them and ourselves, we spent a little time revamping their old chore charts. Last year I posted about a magnet chart that I made for each of the girls. I liked the way that the charts looked, but the magnets were small and posed a serious choking hazard. I took Scarlet’s chart down and the time, and attached the magnets to cardstock to make them bigger. It worked great temporarily, but I wasn’t thrilled with the way that they looked. Plus, the yardstick wasn’t really thick enough to hold up to the girls constantly moving back and forth.

I grabbed a couple of supplies I had around the house and changed them into this:

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It actually was pretty easy, even for someone who isn’t that crafty like me! I sprayed over the baking sheets that I had already been using with this chalkboard spray paint:

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(This is one of my FAVORITE craft items in the whole world!!)

Then I let it dry overnight, and used these craftsmart paint markers in order to add the details and designs that I wanted to be permanent:

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Afterwards, I took some leftover laminated burlap that I am using for another easy project and decoupaged it to the original cardstock with the magnets already glued to the back. I used the paint markers to write the chores on the laminated burlap as well.

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To all of you “non-crafters” like me, I picked up all of these items at my local Walmart, and they were relatively inexpensive. I have been able to use them for all sorts of different crafts that I have wanted to try.

The little girls love being able to move their magnets from the to do side to the done side, and because the whole board is a chalkboard, I am easily able to update Gabbi’s weekly job without creating a ton of different magnets or wasting a bunch of paper.

That being said – a pretty chore chart isn’t going to enforce the chores on its own, so prayers that I would be able to be more consistent in this area of my parenting would be greatly appreciated!

Also, I am wondering..

What do you other mamas use to reward your toddlers for completed chores? Gabbi is highly driven by privileges and allowance, but the only thing my two year old would do with allowance is eat it or use it as a guitar pick. I want them to understand the feeling of earning something, but I am just not sure how to go about that at their ages…

God Doesn’t Want to Drive A Parked Car

My sister was home visiting for a few days this past week, and she made this statement to me in the midst of a conversation we were having. At the time I thought it was cute, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized how true it is!

It is true…

We CAN do ALL THINGS through Christ, but we really can’t do anything unless we are actively working towards our goals.

Sometimes as a mom it is so easy to get stuck in a rut. I am sure a lot of you out there are like me. I think a lot about the future, about where I want to be in a few years, about the callings and longings within my heart to serve the Lord. I know that I have gifts and abilities given to me, and while I know that I am in a place right now where God wants my husband and these 4 little girls to be on the receiving end of the best gifts He has given to me, it doesn’t mean that my goals, dreams and aspirations as a daughter of God get put on a shelf until the kids move out of the house. God is revealing all the time the different plans that He has for me, and revealing ways that I can work towards those plans even while in this season of life.

So I got thinking the last couple of days. How long am I going to let this car be parked? How many MORE years am I going to spend dreaming about the plans of our future instead of creating an action plan?

I know that New Year’s Resolutions have become a bit cliche. In fact, I have never been one to create a resolution. Truth: I have a hard time following through on vague goals and one word statements like “I am going to get healthy this year”, or “growing my blog will be a top priority”. As moms, it is so easy to put these vague goals that appear to only affect ourselves on the back burner when more immediate and pressing needs come up.

But want to know another truth? These goals really aren’t just for me (or you!), but the majority of my goals, when looked at deeply, will have great positive impacts on more than just myself. Being healthy is an amazing gift to my husband and girls, growing my blog into something that can financially support our family will provide us with a more flexible budget as well as funds to bless others, and making time to reconnect with my husband on a regular basis will ensure that my children always have the gift of a happy and united mom and dad!

So this morning I completed an exercise and I wanted to encourage all of you mamas (or even those of you who just need an extra nudge in the right direction!!) to complete it as well. Break out a piece of paper and a pen, grab a cup of coffee and try to steal some time alone in the next few days. Think about what you REALLY want out of this year…

Separate your paper into 5 different categories:

1. Spiritual

2. Family

3. Physical

4. Career

5. Financial

In each category write out your goals for this year. While some categories make sense to just list goals (I found for myself that family and spiritual goals were the easiest because I tend to know where I want to be in those areas), other categories lend themselves to a smaller breakdown and time frames. For the physical, career and financial goal categories try creating separate goals for the 3, 6, 9 and 12 month marks that are smaller and more attainable.

Take your time! Make your list look pretty and put it somewhere where you will see it often. Comment here with some of your goals, or share a picture of your list on social media using the hashtag #2015mybestyearyet !

You still have a few more days until the new year, so what do you want to accomplish in your best year?

Goals

Guest Warrior Mom

Throughout this postpartum depression journey, I have had the wonderful experience of making incredible friends. These women have walked the same path as I have, and have been such a lifeline to me. If you would like to join one our online postpartum depression forums or groups, send me an email and I will gladly give you more information.

While a large number of these women share openly with us, and keep their journey private from others, a great number of women are choosing to speak up and speak out about their experiences.

Tonight, I have the honor of sharing some wonderful poetry sent to me by one of these incredible friends. I hope you enjoy getting a different look into the experience of another warrior mom.

“Why Do I Cry”

For me it feels like a lie

How are you they cry

I smile and say all is good

look at her in my arms

But at night I hold you in my arms and cry

I am crying because I lost

I am crying because I love you

I am crying because I am failing

I am crying because I am happy.

The feelings are all mixed up

The smile I have for you is real

The love I feel for you is true

yet I cry when I hold you

I love you so why do I cry?

Erin Ramirez 4/10/14

“Invasion”

Stopping the invasion isn’t easy

Preventing the outcome is impossible

I can’t control how they come

I can’t stop it when they do

Landing on my knees I cry

Here I am take me now

Stop the invasion

Stop the intrusion

Protect the little girl

Save the boy

Wake them up tomorrow

Protect, Save, Surrender

Erin Ramirez 5/16/14

The author of these posts shared her struggle with me, and especially her struggle with intrusive thoughts.

For those of you who don’t know what they are, Intrusive thoughts (ITs) are defined by Wikipedia as unwelcome involuntary thoughts, images, or unpleasant ideas that may become obsessions, are upsetting or distressing, and can be difficult to manage or eliminate. These thoughts can be both paralyzing and debilitating and are incredibly frightening. ITs are a common part of postpartum mood disorders and are most commonly associated with OCD and psychosis. They were one of my own personal demons while on this journey.

Katherine Stone has written a wonderful article describing symptoms for these disorders, including postpartum OCD, here.

Thank you so much Erin for being so willing to be open to these readers!