Brutiful Pinehurst Life

We’ve been official Pinehurst residents for 4 months now and are beginning to find our little rhythm. It’s the strangest thing, relocating as a grown up – trying to find my tribe has been hard, mostly because of the whole ‘having a baby’ thing. There are times I deeply miss Charlotte and all the familiarity there, which is strange for me since I used to move around so much while Logan was growing up.

(Village of Pinehurst)

But this area is beautiful and I might even like it more than Charlotte, if it weren’t for the lack of having mommy friends I can hang out with. Hopefully that will come now that Harper is bigger and we are able to get out more.

Adjusting to being a mom of 4 has been…interesting.  I’m grateful for my oldest who is thankfully extremely self sufficient and for children who offer me grace on a daily basis and love me while I work to maintain even a shred of sanity during this crazy phase.

Harper has been such a joyful addition to our brood. I’ve been on edge for most of her short little life, just waiting for the other shoe to drop and for the non stop screaming and never sleeping to happen but every day she gets a little happier and a little more scheduled and I find that I can breathe a little easier and feel a little more certain that she is just a happy baby. She really only cries when she needs something and in the car. Her brothers ADORE her, especially Beckett, who would probably lay next to her all day long if I let him.

She still reeeeeeally hates the car, but I’m trying to learn how to just shrug my shoulders when the wailing starts. It used to make me crazy anxiety ridden, being stuck in a car with a screaming baby, and sometimes it still does. (18 months of car screaming with Declan has possibly scarred me for life.) But a lot of the time I just have to shrug it off because we can’t stay housebound forever.

We’ve loved exploring downtown Southern Pines. Secretly I’ve always wanted to live in a little town with a walkable main street (it’s Broad Street in SP) full of independent shops, bookstores and coffee shops. (Probably reminds me of my Burlington, Vermont days.) And the village of Pinehurst is just as charming – sort of a nod to old New England towns and little Charleston-esque alleyways.

(downtown Southern Pines)

I miss Target something fierce – the closest one is an hour drive – but it keeps my wallet in check and forces me to be creative with my kids. All mamas know that grabbing a Starbucks coffee and wandering the aisles of Target aimlessly with a cart full of kiddos is both amazing and dangerous. My mug obsession has been put on hold without my weekly Target trips, so there’s that.

(Givens Library in Pinehurst)

Some days are good – really good and it feels almost normal here and other days are hard – really hard and it feels lonely and isolating and I’m wistful for ‘before’

But I can’t live in the ‘before’, which wasn’t at all problem free anyway and was just as lonely and isolating in other ways – so I’m trying very hard to live in the now and find joy where I’m at.

We downsized significantly – losing almost 2000sq feet of living space. The littlest boys are sharing a room and everyone is underfoot constantly. I love it and hate it. It’s so much easier to keep clean and it forces us to purge on a monthly basis and I’m finding my kids actually do so much better with the bare minimum. Lots more family time, both a result of having less space to be apart and having Todd healthy and here and present with us. We’ve been able to explore so much, take day trips and do some really fun family things that we haven’t ever done before.

In the words of one of my most favorites, Glennon Doyle Melton, this stage is both brutal and beautiful. It is, as she says, brutiful.

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New Beginnings

I’ve been trying to figure out how I’m going to address this post, since there is so much about it that I myself am still unsure about. This blog has always been a place where I can share my thoughts and feelings – maybe sometimes too openly – but my goal here has always been to share my heart and my life with you.

It is my very real belief that the human experience here is one of the most important things we will go through – and that learning to become a mirror of Christ here on Earth is rooted in that experience – of grace, forgiveness, compassion, empathy, love, peace and understanding. (Ok, sounds like my inner hippie coming out…)

But truly, I share myself and my family with you because I know I’m not alone. I know it because you tell me privately, and I believe a great healing comes from owning our stories, sharing them and releasing the shame and guilt we feel when we keep secrets and swallow our pain. We cannot hold our thoughts, pain, beliefs inside like shameful secrets. In the words of my bestie Glennon Doyle Melton (ok really it was Mother Teresa), we belong to each other.

It is my hope that by living OUT LOUD, I can become more like Christ. Sharing my life means that you trust me enough to share yours, and when I begin to see glimpses of everyone else’s human experiences, I can’t help but learn to become more compassionate, more loving and more empathetic to those around me.

However, when your story includes someone else’s story, someone else’s pain and struggle – the line you walk becomes a very thin line. It’s tricky to balance wanting to share my life and yet acknowledge that all parties involved may not yet be on board.

So for now, I want to share this: As I’ve navigated very tumultuous waters over the last year and sought God’s guidance I felt at peace knowing that my role has been to walk through each door as it opens. And that as He opened doors, I would take a leap of faith and walk through them.

And so many things have come together in the eleventh hour – so many details that have had me on edge, stressed, in tears, wondering and pleading when I would know what I was supposed to do. And like most answered prayers, God came through, right when I found myself feeling absolute desperation.

This little band of brothers and one VERY soon to be sister and I are relocating to Pinehurst, NC in the coming weeks. (I suspect Logan is grateful he’s in Vermont and wasn’t forced to sit on the steps of our new home for pictures!)

Pinehurst is easily one of the most beautiful areas I’ve ever seen, neighboring some equally beautiful little towns. 2 hours from Charlotte, 2 hours from the beach, gorgeous blue sky, majestic pine trees and a slower pace of life are beckoning us. I never saw any of this coming and can only do my very best to feel confident in God’s leading.

Sometimes God gives us an opportunity at a fresh start. Not a do over, not a way to forget our past and we certainly have no guarantees that more troubles don’t await us – but a chance to clear our heads, take a few deep breaths, spend a little time focusing on what’s important and making sure all hearts are aligned with His plan.

This is a good thing for my family.

As I feel ready, I promise I’ll share more. With everything I feel I need to say, it would probably be the world’s longest blog post anyway!

But for now, your prayers for my family are (as always) greatly appreciated.

xoxo
Miranda

9 Tips for 9 Months

I’m now in single digit countdown mode when it comes to weeks left of this pregnancy. Kind of crazy to think I’ll hit 33 weeks in a matter of days. In some ways it feels like this pregnancy has flown by – this past 8ish months has been so insanely busy and hard and I’ve been chasing after 2 other little ones – most of it has flown by in a blur.

I’m at the ‘so close yet still so far’ part so with pregnancy still pretty fresh on my mind, here are my 9 Tips for 9 Months, in no particular order:

9. Move!

This is the hardest one for me because I generally feel so bad my first trimester and I don’t get into great habits while pregnant, but even a short walk around your neighborhood will help. Staying active, even in little ways, can actually help with morning sickness, weight gain and labor and delivery. {Then again, I am chasing a couple little boys around all day long and I’m still gaining weight like a champion…}

8. Crackers & Water!

Keep crackers in your bedside table, especially for that first trimester. I have been really fortunate to never suffer extreme morning sickness with any of my children. I am always extremely nauseous and queasy and dry heave constantly for about the first 16-18 weeks, but I never really throw up. However, first thing in the morning I HAVE to have something in my stomach or I’ll be dry heaving for hours. Grabbing a couple crackers and having some water before getting out of bed really helped.

7. Advice

You’ll get lots of unsolicited advice (like mine!) from all kinds of people when you’re pregnant.

Everyone from strangers at the grocery store to Great Aunt Henrietta will want to tell you how their pregnancy and delivery went. Absorb about 25% of it, and let the other 75% roll off your back. Some of what happened to them may very well happen to you, but most of it won’t so try not to overthink advice! One that I dread hearing is “Enjoy it now, it’ll be over too soon” I have a 14 year old so I think I can say with a little authority – it’s ok not to enjoy throwing up or feeling like death or waddling like a penguin. There are many things that you may find enjoyable about pregnancy, but let’s be real – a lot of it is NOT enjoyable! Thankfully things like hearing his or her heartbeat for the first time, getting those first glimpses of your precious little on a sonogram screen and holding your child for the first time completely and totally make up for all the months of discomfort.

6. Nutrition

If I’m being completely honest, I find that I’m MORE in tune to healthy eating when I am NOT pregnant than when I am. It takes focus and motivation for me to make sure I stay on top of it when I’m pregnant. I’m usually exhausted and nauseous and will go for whatever is easy, quick and doesn’t make me want to gag. If this sounds like you, don’t beat yourself up. Do the best you can and try to remember your prenatal daily. On top of that, I really like to incorporate a great green smoothie into my daily diet. It’s a fantastic way to get nutrients in all at once and sometimes a smoothie was all that sounded good. Some women can’t stomach a lot of greens during pregnancy, so trial and error will help you discover what kinds of healthy things you can use in a smoothie. {This is my favorite green smoothie recipe of all time, and you can follow my Smoothie Love board on Pinterest for more ideas}

5. Pictures

I was pregnant with my first child at 21 years old. I hated my pregnant body, felt ugly, huge and self conscious. I think I have just one picture from that pregnancy – one someone snapped at a baby shower without my knowledge. With my next 2 children, I decided to get over myself and get maternity photographs taken (Helps to have an amazing brother in law who happens to be a professional photographer). I’m really glad I did it – Yes, I always struggle with my self esteem while pregnant but it has been fun to look back and see how my body changed. It’s really pretty amazing! 
THERE’S A TINY PERSON IN THERE!! 

4. Plan & Un Plan

It’s always good to have a birth plan in place. As women, we should feel empowered to decide how our birth story will go. Talk to your doctor, your friends, read about other people’s experiences and educate yourself on the birthing process. You have way more ability to make choices than you might realize. At the same time, every single birth is different and some things you won’t be able to prepare for so keep an open mind and try not to get too upset if your labor and delivery isn’t going according to the plan. Make a plan, but also plan to scrap if it your body decides to do something different. My sister recently had her third child – she’d had two normal vaginal deliveries with her first two children but ended up in a c-section with her third. He was in the brow presentation, and after 18 hours of laboring they needed to do a caesarean to keep him (and her!) safe. Those third babies are supposed to be easy! You just never know…

3. Care

Going along with Tip #4, pick a great care provider that YOU relate to and are comfortable with. It’s great to get opinions and recommendations but ultimately it’s you and your provider for your entire pregnancy so you want to be with someone you trust to take care of you and respect your plan for the birthing process. That way, if something changes, you’ll feel better knowing he or she probably did everything they could to make your wishes happen. Don’t worry about hurting feelings either – if you don’t click with the first provider you see, ask to see someone else. This is about YOU feeling comfortable enough to entrust yourself and your unborn child to someone else. Do what feels right for you.

2. Un Medicate

You’ll want to try to be as medication free as possible throughout your pregnancy. At one of your first appointments, you’ll probably be given a list of what you can and can’t take. Always talk to your provider if you have any questions or concerns. Taking medications certainly isn’t banned, and some of them will be absolutely necessary – just make sure to run them by your provider and call the office if you ever have any questions. And stay up to date on current issues regarding safety for certain medications. The medication Zofran, a popular choice in the past to alleviate severe nausea and vomiting, is currently under scrutiny for some adverse side effects on unborn babies.

1. Slack

Yes. Slack. As in cut yourself some. Pregnancy is HARD. Really hard. It’s emotional, it’s scary, it’s exhausting, exciting, intimidating, amazing and a million other things rolled into a roller coaster 9 months. Make the best choices you can and don’t beat yourself up if you do something you didn’t know you weren’t supposed to, if you can’t get out of bed to shower for 4 days or if you gain too much weight. Just make good choices when you can, stay in touch with your provider so they can monitor your health consistently and tell yourself ‘this too shall pass’ (Sorry, some cheesy cliches ARE true!) It took you 40 weeks to grow that tiny human, it’ll take you just as long (and probably more) to get back to feeling like yourself again. Try to remember you have just done something truly amazing and don’t freak out if it takes you awhile to feel like you again.

xoxo
Miranda

Desperation

As human beings, we’ve become accustomed to the idea that being desperate is weak and pathetic. No one wants to be seen as desperate for a friend or for a partner, for a job, for money, desperate for help or validation. As Shauna Niequist says in one of her promo videos for her book Bread & Wine, “We live in a culture that prides us for not having any needs. I don’t need to sleep, I don’t need to eat, I’m like a robot. I’m so tough I can keep on going. It’s a really soul-less, really damaging way to live.”

I’m beginning to see that while yes, there are social disadvantages to being considered ‘desperate’… being desperate is actually becoming the quality in which I strive to be in my relationship and walk with Christ.

Last night, I downloaded the Proverbs 31 First 5 app (very cool, by the way) and listened to Lysa Terkeurst’s opening remarks at their She Speaks Conference going on this weekend. She was describing how in so many moments in our lives, we present God with a nice, tidy package of suggestions. We grasp them all tightly in our hands and offer them up to Him and we say something like, “Ok God…I was thinking about what’s going on in my life and I think I’ve come up with a plan. So here it is – all of my suggestions, my plan for how to make this work, and I’d really, really like for you to bless this. Don’t mess it up!! Just BLESS it”

I was in bed fighting off a terrible migraine after a hard bedtime with the kids, and when I heard her describe it like that, I had to laugh. Because isn’t it true? Isn’t it true that we still fight and battle to be the God of our own lives? And throughout it all, we present God with a package of suggestions and hope that He’ll work those for our good. And when it doesn’t happen that way, we feel miffed or disappointed or even downright furious.

It feels like when I fight to be the God of my own life, I often times find myself feeling fearful or discouraged. And I have to remind myself that fear is not of God.

It’s in the desperate moments where I know I am far more attuned to Him than I usually am. It’s desperation that breaks me open and brings me to my knees over and over and over again. It’s the empty places that long to be filled up with Him that open my eyes to His plan for me and reminds me that He knows me intimately. He knows my heart, He knows my desires and He also knows where He needs me to be.

There are some changes happening in my life right now – things I’ll be sharing soon enough – but I’ve found myself feeling almost backed into a corner. Desperate. Out of ideas, out of options, out of plans. I’ve been through my Plan A, my Plan B, my Plan C. And each time God has taken those plans gently out of my tight grasp and reassured me that He’s working all things for my good.

And so here I stand, desperate for Him. Needy. Broken. Empty. With nothing else to offer but a whole lot of nothingness. Just myself and my faith that He is still sovereign and that He is still good.

And it feels pretty great.

What’s up with She’s Brave?

14 years, 7 months and 5 days ago I became an unwed mother.

It’s been a winding road since then, full of self discovery, mistakes, heartache and pain but there has been plenty of sunshine, happiness, joy and celebration as well.

And yet, I spent so many years feeling like an outsider, an oddball, less than…

About 6 years ago I felt God nudging me to reach out to women because most of them felt the same way. Perhaps for different reasons, but what I came to know was that there are a lot of women struggling in silence. Avoiding sharing their true selves because of guilt or shame or feeling like they were the ‘only one’ who felt the way they do.

Addiction.
Eating Disorders.
Depression.
Abortion.
Anxiety.
Rape.
Molestation.
Exhaustion.
Infidelity.
Broken marriages.
Single parenthood.
Infertility.
Single-hood.
Loneliness.
Fear.
Hopelessness.
Overwhelmed.
Heartache.

Have I named something you, personally, have struggled with? I personally have been affected in some way by addiction, infidelity, single parenthood, a broken marriage, feelings of hopelessness and being overwhelmed, heartache and exhaustion to name a few.

Is that embarrassing to put out there? A little. But I know that there are many of you who are dealing with the exact same issues I am because you’ve told me. And there are others who are struggling with things I’m not, but I also know you’re not alone.

Something that has become very clear to me is that women who are united for Christ are a dangerous force. The enemy knows this, and he desires so much to drive a wedge in between the meaningful relationships that we can have with one another. Not only does he try to attack our families and marriages, he wants nothing more than to drive a wedge in between our friendships by making us feel as though we can’t share ourselves with other people. When we feel like no one else could possibly understand WHO we are, we begin to isolate ourselves from the very people who could help lift us up and help to heal our pain.

It began as a nagging thought in the back of my mind as I noticed the women’s conferences going on around me. There are some amazing ones that address finding your purpose and how to be a great mother. There are conferences about how to be successful professionally and conferences about being a Christian.

What we felt was lacking – or at least not as easy to find – was a conference that said HEY. HEY YOU. YOU AND I ARE ACTUALLY THE SAME!

 I’m depressed and I feel hopeless or I can’t take my children for one more second today and I feel guilty. I’m sick of being single and I’m so lonely. I had an abortion and I feel shame. I’ve been betrayed in my marriage and I feel heartbroken. I was abused and I feel so much fear.

It started as a daydream, a fleeting thought, a hope, a yearning to provide a safe place for women to talk about the hard stuff without dwelling on it – a place to be vulnerable and hear other women share their painful stories and walk away feeling hopeful because suddenly they realize they aren’t alone.

When Shaunna and I started Nourish – we hoped on a small scale our monthly dinner groups would become a safe place for women to discuss tough stuff alongside celebrating the joy to be found in day to day life. And that has happened in so many ways. But we also daydreamed about a culmination of all those dinner parties happening in the form of a conference. For women involved in Nourish and women who aren’t – to come together in one place and look around the room and feel brave.

The She’s Brave Conference is the very heart of what Nourish is about. It is about being vulnerable and showing up to a place with a lot of other people you probably don’t know. It’s about looking around the room and saying to one another “You’re not alone and you matter”. It’s about safety in numbers as we begin to peel away the layers of armor we have put on to protect our hearts.

It’s about finding the joy that can come with releasing the shame and the guilt you feel. It’s about acknowledging that none of us are alone and that together we can become an amazing, beautiful, powerful force for good. It’s about standing up to the mean girls stereotype and refusing to buy into it. It’s about forgiving the friends you’ve had that have hurt you and betrayed you and finding hope in community again.

It is, at the very heart, about encouraging each other.

Tickets are on sale now! Early Bird ticket purchasers will get a discount, but those are limited availability so don’t wait!

We know it’s expensive. We know it’s an investment. We promise we aren’t making a dime off this conference. Truth be told, Shaunna and I will end up footing the bill for some of it ourselves. That’s how passionately we feel about what we are doing.

We hope you’ll join us. You’ll hear from some amazing women including a Q&A and meet and greet with Momastery’s Glennon Doyle Melton, and from author and blogger Sarah Mae.  You’ll hear from other talented local speakers that are women just like you and me. We truly want this to be a conference that sets you free.

For more specific info about what is included in your ticket price, please visit us on our website. You don’t have to be a current Nourish attendee to come but email us at nourishclt@gmail.com if you’d like to get involved with one of our monthly dinner parties.

Come, be brave, be filled up, and rest in the knowledge that you are seen, known and loved…just as you are.

Love is a Verb

Boy social media has been fun this week, hasn’t it? (sarcasm)

I can hardly scroll through my feed without being told how to feel, think or act about Caitlyn Jenner, especially because I call myself a follower of Christ.

And since my opinions and thoughts on the whole thing aren’t generally aligned with what seems to be popular thought, I don’t even want to go there – this isn’t a debate about what she should and shouldn’t do with her life and what God says or doesn’t say about it in the bible.

But rather this is a plea to my friends to stop using social media as a way to be lazy Christians.

It’s fine to have opinions, we all do. Our thoughts, experiences, feelings and emotions shape who we are and how we feel about things. I personally don’t care what you think or don’t think about this whole thing.

But what saddens me is the blatant disgust, attempts at shaming and name calling I have seen from so many people. Shouting bible verses behind the relative anonymity of a computer screen is not really what I believe God had in mind when he commanded us to love others. Assigning greater weight to certain sins over others is not our job.

Last night, I responded to a comment thread about this whole thing, and about the concept that those of us who aren’t in an uproar about someone else’s life must surely be confusing love with acceptance – that we can love without agreeing with someone’s actions. That whole love the sinner, hate the sin thing.

And while I suppose there is truth to that line of thought, to ME, it seems that so many people think love means shouting your opinions on Facebook while sitting on your couch in your pjs watching Netflix. Because as long as we are talking about what God thinks, we’re getting the job done right?

Sure I’m not a theologian or a gospel scholar but see, I’m pretty convinced that isn’t love at all.

A few years ago, a pastor friend of mine (Holla Jared Kirk!) gave a sermon about love – I don’t remember much of it (sorry, Jared…mommy brain and all…) but I DO remember him saying that love is a verb. I’ve heard this several times since then, so I know you’ve probably heard it too – but it always sticks with me.

Love isn’t just words. It’s actions.

Saying you love someone isn’t enough. As humans, we respond not just to words but to touch, to kindness, to actions. We observe everything around us and we internalize it and it shapes who we are.

It has become far too easy for us to say passively that we are praying for someone. To talk about our faith on social media or in blogs and think that’s enough. To shout about what we are against instead of what we are for. To point fingers and act like someone else sins more than we do.

But the truth is, Christ died for my wretchedness as much as anyone else’s. And I don’t know about you, but if you really stop and think about that – that’ll kick you in the gut. He died for MY sins. For MY wickedness. When you get right down to it, we are all the same in that way.

No, you don’t have to agree with someone’s actions to love them. But I do have to wonder – isn’t it critical to get in the mess with someone you claim to love? Get down in there, sit there with them, try to understand what’s happening and what they are struggling with. Listen to their heart, their feelings, their emotions. Learn who they ARE.

In my personal life, I can attest that over the past couple of years I have harbored a LOT of anger towards someone I’m supposed to love. And some of that anger was justified, some of it came from a place of hurt because I had been deeply hurt.

But if I’m being honest, a lot of it came from a place of fear and of misunderstanding.  And yes, my fear and misunderstanding was normal and justified. Most everything I feared would happen DID in fact happen. I felt angry, disgusted, and furious because I didn’t want to truly understand what was happening with the other person.  Some of it – a lot of it even – was justifiable.

But if you want to live out the gospel, you have to stop thinking about your own fears and embrace the unknown. To open your mind and listen to what God tells you.

And yeah, sometimes it sucks. Because when you get right down to it – we are all failing. And to admit that God sacrificed His Son for you as much as He did someone else will shine a light on your own brokenness faster than you can blink. But that’s what is beautiful about the gospel. Our failures, our sins, our mistakes don’t define us.

Hey friends, let’s not just preach love. Let’s actually give it. The gospel is so much more beautifully lived out through actions and not just words. We have an incredible message of radical love and grace. And if we are commanded to love others, that means we have to try to live life with them and not against them.

(Also y’all – Snopes is a fantastic website to verify what you’re posting as truth…just sayin)

Every Morning

(Do you know what it’s like to try to keep a toddler from playing in the toilet and licking the bathroom floor of a pediatrician’s office while trying to get a 4 year old to pee in a cup for a urine sample??)

Yesterday was…a day.
It started out ok, but by bedtime everything had gone rapidly downhill. The kids were ridiculously overtired and thrown off by a messed up schedule and I had the bright idea (desperate idea, really) to start bedtime early. 
They had an early dinner, in the bath by 5:30 and bedtime routine started at 6:15. Declan fell asleep quickly and I found Beckett in my bed, watching TV. “Can you watch tv with me, Mommy?” 

So I sat next to him and did a little work while we watched (what else) Peppa Pig. Just as I was about to start his little bedtime routine, Declan woke up.

I won’t go into the details because they don’t matter but it was basically whack a mole for the next 2.5 hours. They couldn’t settle. I had been up since 5:30 that morning, no one had napped, I was so physically and mentally exhausted (pregnancy insomnia is the worst) that I couldn’t decide if I felt like throwing up or crying or heck, maybe both.

The kids cried, I cried, I raised my voice, they raised their voices…

It wasn’t pretty, ok?

By 9:30 – FOUR hours after their bath, I was finally eating for the first time since 10am and sitting alone for the first time since 5:30am and I’m not sure I did much beside stare at the wall in a daze.

I hate when nights play out like that. I go to bed feeling guilty about my lack of patience and about anger being one of the last emotions felt in the house before everyone falls asleep.

This morning, Declan woke up at 5:30 as he always does and we’ve been hanging out in my bed, sharing a Larabar and snuggles. I think he’s forgiven me for my impatience and exhaustion last night because he’s giggly and chatty and happy.

I’m glad that after the darkness falls – and some nights are really dark – the sun always rises, a new day begins and we can all try again. Thankful that no matter what, His mercies are new every morning. And these stubborn, high maintenance littles of mine might push me right to the very brink of absolute mental breakdown mode some nights but their smiles and hugs every morning teach me so much about unconditional love and forgiveness.