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Be a Janet

I’m writing this mostly as a “thank you” to the Janet that’s been a part of my son’s life since we adopted him. But, there have been “Janets” before her that deserve some love and acknowledgment.
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Be A Janet.

My mom’s name is Janet, or was Janet? I’m not sure how to write that …

My mom passed away almost 9 years ago, but her impact and loss are felt daily. I know not having her here as my mom has been devastating. Not having her as a grandmother to my son has been heartbreaking.

My Janet was the best, in those capacities. I lost count how many family members and friends asked her to be the godmother of one of their kids. My mom had a way of showing love and never forgetting a milestone. My mom NEVER took her position in life for granted – whether it be mom, friend, sister, aunt, godmother, daughter, co-worker … even cancer patient.

When my mom died, I knew it would impact my future child / children’s lives but it wasn’t until I became a mom that I understood the impact.

But, we have a Janet!

My son has a great-Aunt Janet that stepped in, almost heaven assigned, to fill some of the “Janet” space in his life. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve said: “thank God for Janet!” She picks him up once a week from the bus stop and they go about their way, doing whatever adventure they decide. Library visits, baking, arts and crafts, you name it. If you want to experience immediate disappointment, pick him up on “Janet Day” instead of Janet. He looks forward to their time every week.

Janet’s help is more than help. It’s love, learning, experiences; time spent together and building a relationship with an older person that isn’t mom or dad. My son’s relationship with his Aunt Janet is what I always wanted him to have with my mom.

Growing up, I also had an Aunt Jan(et). She was one of my mom’s best friends and my godmother. I remember summers at her house buying snowballs from her neighbor, playing in the hot tub, and sleepovers. As I grew older, I remember her coming through at the last minute with a second line umbrella that I forgot I needed for my wedding. I know my mom thought “thank God for Jan(et)!” many times.

Your Janet may come by another name or position in your life. But I’m sure we can all think of a “Janet” that’s showed up for us or our kids that we often thank in silence.

So here’s to you! Thank you, “Janets!” I hope you know the impact you have on people’s lives.

The 1 to 10 Rule For Marriage

My husband and I have stumbled on a way of problem-solving that has revolutionized the way we fight… or don’t fight, actually.

In the very early stages of our dating relationship, I was determined to know just what I was getting into. I’d never had a healthy relationship and as someone whose superpower is introspection, I didn’t want to make the same mistakes. My now-husband also wanted to ensure he did not fall into the same relationship traps that ended his first marriage. So together we took the Briggs Myers personality test, The 5 Love Languages test, and anything we could find to help us deeply understand better who we were apart and together.  I learned that I am a Campaigner (ENFP-A) defined as enthusiastic, creative and a sociable free spirit, who can always find a reason to smile. My husband the Logistician (ISTJ-T) is part of the crowd of practical and fact-minded individuals, whose reliability cannot be doubted. We are completely opposite in all aspects of our personality. Our love languages thankfully are similar, though, so our cups are full with minimal effort.

The result is that we feel loved, but not always heard. 

Early on my husband and I were talking about the lessons we learned in our previous, failed relationships. He explained that in counseling he learned about a tool he called “The 1 to 10 Rule.” The way the rule works is by balancing both of our strengths with quantifying (logical) our feelings (emotional). The rule only works if you both respect the rules and each other enough not to abuse it. When you come to a disagreement, or if you anticipate a disagreement, explain to your partner how important it is by using a 1-10 statement. Whoever’s # is bigger wins. “It’s a 7 out of 10 for me that ____ happens. I would feel seen and respected if you could help me so I don’t have to carry this load alone.” When you want the other person to be happy as much as you are, and if something isn’t that important to you but very important to them, you must let it go without resentment.

It doesn’t feel like losing, it feels like supporting.

When we were looking for a house it was 9/10 that I find one in XYZ neighborhoods and it was 7/10 for him that his drive was under 20min each way. I did my best to accommodate that and he respected that the school zone was paramount. In the end, we found a great house in the neighborhood that I love and his commute is manageable; though he would still tell you he hates Pinhook traffic. The biggest thing is, we didn’t fight and build resentment towards each other because we set clear expectations and communicated.

We’re definitely not perfect though, and we do still argue.

The beauty of the 1 to 10 system is that it works even if you’re already mad and not getting along. More recently I was feeling every bit of my OCD which demands order in our home for me to find peace. I was feeling completely overwhelmed and angry that the closet organization system he bought was not installed after weeks. I walked around for days isolating myself and steaming over the (false) narrative I was telling myself: “He doesn’t care enough to make this a priority. I’m miserable and he’s too busy organizing the pantry to even notice.” Then my introspective superpower kicked in and I remembered that he cannot read my mind, and I shouldn’t expect him to.

So instead of carrying onto that anger like a hot rock I wanted to throw at him – one that was only burning me, anyhow – I spoke up. “Hey, I’m really upset and feeling ignored, if you could get the closet done tomorrow I would appreciate it. It’s a 9/10 importance for me that the chaos is finally contained.” And you know what? He did it. He had no idea that it was so important to me and had been prioritizing other projects he thought were helpful. He was just as confused about my anger as I was about why is he suddenly so intent on reorganizing the pantry. Presto chango balance restored.

Those are just a couple of examples of how the clear communication of the 1 to 10 system can work for you, too. So if you’re struggling to articulate the importance of something or you’re tired of miscommunications give it a try. I’d love to hear how it works for you! And if you have other tools that have been invaluable for clearer communication and problem solving I’d love to know about them.

I’m always looking to add more tools to our relationship toolbox.

Dear “Infertile” Friend, I’m Waiting For You

Dear “Infertile” Friend,

I know you’re struggling. I don’t understand the struggle, but I’m watching from the outside. I see your posts, your prayers, your “likes” on the pictures of my babies.

Before I got pregnant with my firstborn, I was diagnosed with PCOS. I was uneducated when it came to anything pertaining to infertility. After bloodwork and tests, and an ultrasound showing 50-60 cysts almost covering my ovaries, I sat down with my doctor.

“We will get you a baby. You will carry a baby. I’ll do all that I can to ensure it.” The words I heard from Dr. Kim Hardey – a man I’ll consider an angel always. (He also told me that I reminded him of a butterfly, and that earned him some extra points, too).

Two babies later, I was obviously not “infertile”, but it did take months and medicines. And Dr. Hardey.

Not years.

And I did at least have answers.

I understand that those are blessings.

But after the sit down with Dr. Hardy, I went straight to my car to call my mom and my husband. I could hardly get words out. I couldn’t catch my breath because I thought my time may never come. While I do not compare what I temporarily went through to your journey, I did feel a glimpse of your fear, the frustration, the questions, the unknown.

I know that you’re waiting. Waiting for answers. Waiting to catch your breath. For another month, another test, and praying that next month brings different news. You’re waiting for your turn. Waiting for your time to come.

I want you to know that you don’t deserve this heartache – this weight of waiting. Since I’ve known you (which is a very long time), you’ve always taken care of everyone around you. You were born to love others. You were born with a natural, effortless maternal instinct, and your time to love your own little one will come.

  • I wait with you.
  • I pray with you.
  • I hope with you.
  • I thank you.

Thank you for being open about your journey. Thank you for loving all of the babies that you do…while you’re yearning for your own. Thank you for knowing that I won’t always know the right things to say, even though I try. You’re going to be an amazing mom – no matter how you get to that title. The title of “mom” will. be. yours. Until then…please know that I’m waiting with you, that I’m waiting for you.

And know that I can’t wait to celebrate him or her with you one day.

I Will Wipe Your Tears

“I’ll wipe your tears, Mama,” he said as he reached up to my face. It was that moment when my mama heart knew everything would be okay.

I’ve dealt with a lot of grief in my life and while I won’t sit here and list off every little thing, I do think some of it is important to the story, so bear with me.

My parents’ divorce

I was 9 and while they never made it hard for me, it was confusing and scary. My whole world was turned upside down. I remember asking my mom, about a month before, to promise not to get a divorce.

You see, my friend’s parents divorced and it was pretty messy. I didn’t want that for our family. So, I felt betrayed when she told me. I know now, though, it wasn’t fair to be mad. I had an amazing childhood regardless. My dad and I got to spend quality time together just the two of us and that still makes me so happy! I only have those memories left.

My dad was diagnosed with cancer

He found out sometime after the divorce that he had cancer in his small intestine (I think) and eventually metastasized to his liver. He lived a few years without a ton of complications. He was a pilot so we were able to fly anywhere and everywhere. We took trips to California to pan for gold, visited family in Wisconsin often, to Seattle to whale watch, to San Francisco to see Alcatraz, and he even flew my mom and me to Washington D.C. and went to the White House. While we were home, we took comfort singing in the church choir, he let me drive on the dry lake bed near our house, we bought a hot tub and made our backyard a total retreat and we even learned how to garden!

The last year of his life was very rough, though. I was a junior in high school when things took a turn for the worse. He was in the hospital for months. I remember him begging the doctors to let him go to hospice. I don’t know why they wouldn’t and this makes me feel so guilty. But I was 16, I needed someone to tell me it was all going to be okay.

He went into respiratory failure suddenly and without warning one morning. They intubated him but his body was done fighting. I understood this but it stings that I was the one responsible for deciding to take him off life support.

There were 6 of us all around him as he went, my mom, my grandma, my uncle, my aunt, my 3-year-old cousin, and me. We talked with him and about the good times we had with him. My cousin Andrew said, “Mama there are angels in the sky” about 5 or so minutes after extubation, and then a few minutes later told us they flew into the window. I was standing by his bed and he shed a tear, I wiped it. In that second, two things happened that I will never forget: his heart monitor went flat and Andrew saying “The angels flew away.” I still get chills.

My mom’s heart surgery

My mom had a double bypass 3 months after my dad’s passing. She almost didn’t make it. I remember briefly thinking that I would be an orphan. She stayed in the ICU for 10 or so days. Thank goodness she survived because I don’t know how I would have gone on. I am not exaggerating when I tell you she is my very best friend. I cried big time when she finally came home. She was then, and still to this day, remains my rock. My mama taught me how to stand up for myself. She went to doctor after doctor before the surgery because she knew something was wrong. All but one brushed her off. Dr. Miranda is a Godsend.

Shady Uncle

In the weeks after my dad’s passing. My uncle was doing some terrible things. He was named the executor of my dad’s estate. He called the life insurance office impersonating my lawyer to get the check sent to him and in his name. He put my house on the market without my knowledge; he hired his wife to sell it and make the commission. I won’t go into all the horrid details because it’s a FIVE year, $70,000 rabbit hole. Everything worked out in my favor and I no longer have contact with them. It makes me sad that I lost family but I gained so much more. I learned that family isn’t always blood, something that prepared me for being a bonus mom years later.

The In-between

From sixteen to twenty-five, my time was spent graduating high school, beginning and graduating college, moving to 5 different cities, 2 long term relationships that ended pretty badly, then moving again to Lafayette and completely starting over.

Lots of tears were shed during these years but kept moving forward and progressing. I kept telling myself I was strong. Never once did therapy cross my mind. Mostly because I thought it was “just” for people with “problems.” Counseling was never taught to me as normal, and come to think about it, the one time I did meet with a counselor after the divorce was a horrible experience. We were a few minutes late to the appointment and the counselor was mad at me. We never went back.

I just didn’t know

I didn’t know the power counseling could have. The life-changing knowledge.

In 2014, I met my now hubs and gained a bonus son. Being a stepmom is hard but so rewarding. Counseling helped navigate these waters. It was so good for communication.

In 2015, I had a miscarriage and I couldn’t have survived without being able to talk to someone who understood the depression that followed.

In 2017, we had our rainbow baby and we were happy and completely in love with this tiny human, but postpartum depression didn’t care. It took ahold of me and I found the care compassion I needed in therapy.

And today, my almost 3 old was diagnosed with a rare disorder. We’ve been searching for answers, scouring the internet for research and for a doctor who knows more then we do about his disorder. Every time we think we are ahead, we take two steps back. We are in the thick of it. So I broke down and cried. That is when our story began. My 2-year-old son Jackson telling me that he will wipe my tears was a huge wake-up call. It’s time for some maintenance. l will be going to counseling.

Buy That Ticket

Not sure if you’ve heard, but there was a little football game this month. It was kind of a big deal. In case you were living under a rock, I’m talking about the National Championship game in New Orleans where LSU crushed (err…played) Clemson.

My husband and I met 11 years ago, and LSU football was a huge part of that time in our lives. We spent just about every home game tailgating, getting to know each other, and falling in love. He had an LSU themed groom’s cake at our wedding. We watched one LSU vs Florida game from the hospital where we had just had our second baby girl. The first thing I bought when I found out our third baby was a boy was a tiny LSU hat.

See where I’m going here?

As a newlywed couple, we went to the National Championship game in 2012, which also happened to be his 30th birthday. That was an amazing and fun weekend, but in case you didn’t know, it did not end well. Alabama is the worst, but I digress. Going to that game was a no brainer. We were both working full time jobs, no kids, and the world was our oyster. We bought those tickets as if they were on the weekly grocery list. I’m not even sure we talked about it before buying them. Not going was never an option.

Fast forward 8 years, and here we are again. National Championship game, LSU is going, and it’s in New Orleans. Except now we have three kids, way more bills and responsibilities, and life just isn’t as simple as it used to be. When ticket prices first came out, my initial thought was no way. No way I was spending that much money to watch a football game that I could just as easily watch from my living room for free. However, my husband was dying to go. I love doing LSU football with him, and while I’m sure he feels the same about me, every fiber of his being loves LSU. I wanted him to go. So, we agreed we would purchase a single ticket. I would go for the weekend with him, but I would sit out for the game.

Finally the time came and we went down to New Orleans a few days early.

The entire time I was so happy he was going to the game, but also a little sad I wasn’t. Then, day of, we decided that we didn’t want to miss it together and bought a pair of tickets. It was a crazy, last minute, over the top decision. As soon as I got the PayPal receipt, I nearly had a panic attack. But my husband took my phone and said nope, let’s go, we are having fun. And that we did. It was the best day we have had in a very long time. We sat through every second of the game, watching history unfold. We both jumped and screamed with excitement when the clock ran out and LSU officially became National Champions. We stayed until well after the last piece of confetti fell, heard all the speeches, enjoyed every last drop of LSU glory. For that night, we weren’t just two parents with bills and responsibilities and endless to do lists. We were right back in the beginning, carefree, blissfully happy, and thrilled to be there together. Those outrageously priced one game tickets were worth every penny.

My friends, buy that ticket. Not that I am advocating bankrupting your family or creating mountains of debt, but I am saying that sometimes the experience is worth it. The quality time, the moments, the reminders of the good stuff life has to offer is worth it. I’m saying that being ever so perfectly responsible just isn’t always the right thing to do. It was a once in a lifetime game, and now it is a once in a lifetime memory we share. I would buy those tickets again in a heartbeat and sure hope I get the chance.

Geaux Tigers!

Watch Your Tone

Moms are passionate. We pick sides and we advocate for them: circumcision, vaccination, co-sleeping, self-soothing, extended rear-facing, helicopter parenting… the list goes on and on. We choose our sides, we feel good about them, and backed by much research, we feel justified in our choices. This much I’m okay with. This much I can respect, even when I don’t agree. Where I find myself struggling, is when my friends openly, sternly, and rudely call out the people on the other side of their fences without grace.

Would we allow this behavior from our children?

I sit on a controversial side of one of those fences. I sit there firmly after research, soul searching, and life experience. I don’t talk about it because it’s no one else’s business. I don’t talk about it because it’s not my job or my place to change minds. I don’t talk about it because I have fears that others will judge me. And yet, they judge me anyway: out loud and fervently on their social media. My friends, some of them close friends, openly call out parents on my side of the fence. They don’t speak kindly or with understanding. They aren’t asking for open dialogue or some understanding of decision making. They just sit in what I perceive as judgment and I reel in my hurt feelings. Do they know I’m part of the crowd they’re bashing?

If ever I consider saying something of a similar thread, because I too am passionate about my choices, I hear my mom’s voice in my head, “Watch your tone!” Maybe they don’t have that same voice? I’d prefer to think my friends have not considered how their actions are truly affecting others. What I wonder is: Do they realize it makes me feel as though they believe I am ignorant? I don’t think they are being malicious. I wonder instead: Do they really believe they will change minds and hearts with that tone?

I recognize they’re passionate about their choices and desire validation. “On a deep emotional level, feeling approved of makes us feel secure with ourselves as a person. There is a huge degree of inner peace and security connected to feeling good about who we are.” According to “Understanding the Psychology of Guilt” on eruptingmind.com, most children were taught from a young age to seek approval from their parents for the things they said or did. Since the need for approval, love, and acceptance from our parents is strong, we become conditioned over time to seek approval from others as well. I believe this is both why they share their strong opinions and why I feel like I had to write about my feelings.

What I’d like to implore all of us to do is to be more thoughtful about what we say and share. I have had to work to become more thoughtful in my words and actions after some reflection with a friend who sits on the other side of my fence, actually. Goodness knows, in my head, I hear Brené Brown telling me their opinions aren’t any of my business. I try not to take it personally; I try to take myself out of it and realize their words are not meant to be a personal attack. What it boils down to is, I wonder if they realize they may be hurting their friends without intending to?

Just before the holidays, I witnessed a conversation between two friends. One asking for car seat recommendations as she wanted a safe seat to forward face her 2-year-old who had outgrown the rear-facing limits and was also now legally meeting the requirements to forward face, and one friend vehemently trying to persuade her to leave the child rear-facing until four-years-old when the spine is fused. They both had valid points, neither woman could be considered more correct than the other, and both felt passionate about their choices but the conversation seemed to lack grace and understanding. These two women were good friends but they sat on opposite sides of the fence. The conversation seemed to become about justifying opinions more than being helpful and I’d be surprised if the friendship doesn’t suffer. 

If this is you, and you hadn’t considered it before, will you now?

When people on opposite sides of the fence have open discussions, understanding happens. When we can speak to each other with grace and respect, we may never change minds, but we can learn each other’s hearts. Maybe before saying that someone who co-sleeps / bottle feeds / doesn’t vaccinate is a fool, we can either open ourselves to a respectful discussion or say nothing at all.

That first-time mom putting cereal in her baby’s bottle because her doctor suggested it for reflux, the one in the mom group asking for recommendations on relieving tummy upset, she doesn’t need to hear that you believe she’s probably giving her baby a leaky gut. She doesn’t need to feel like a villain or like she’s making bad choices. What she needs is for someone to offer her grace, understanding, and if they feel strongly a meaningful conversation about what sorts of alternatives might be out there. 

No one I know has ever truly changed their minds when presented with rudeness. 

Golf Cart Santa, You are Magic

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Last year, we heard word of a Santa on a golf cart cruising through our neighborhood and those neighborhoods around us.

We were busy that night and never really thought twice about missing it. I mean, how good would it be anyway? Was it just a man in a Santa suit cruising in a golf cart? And after all, how many Santas were we going to see during the Christmas season? We could miss this one …

Well only now do I know that last year, we truly missed out on one of the most magical nights of the year.

Our First Encounter

Our oldest is 4 this year. For the first time as parents, we really got to experience Christmas. He got it and was excited for Santa and all that went along with him. We penned the date in our calendars for when Golf Cart Santa would cruise through our hood. We did not want to miss it this year, even if it was just a man in a Santa suit cruising on a gold cart.

A week or so before Golf Cart Santa was due in our neighborhood, our dear friends invited us to share in the experience in their neighborhood a few miles away from ours. Knowing how the holidays go and because Flumageddon was hitting Lafayette, we took them up on their offer while we were available and healthy — just in case something came up when it was our turn.

We heard the music from a few streets over, but we had no idea what we were about to experience.

We anxiously waited as Golf Cart Santa made a stop at the top of our friends’ street as he approached the stop right in front of their house.

Y’all. This is no run of the mill golf cart.

You can see the lights from more than a mile away.

Golf Cart Santa pulls up with a better audio system than Target. He has his reindeer, the elves, and the most beautiful Mrs. Clause you will ever see. They do not just park and wave. Golf Cart Santa puts on a full production. He gets off of his “sleigh” and dances and takes pictures and talks to every kid who is willing.

Everyone is in full character. The elves excitedly hand out candy canes as they act with the music and tell of their North Pole adventures. Mrs. Clause floats around caring for each kid as if she knows them by name.

We were asked multiple times if we got a picture with Santa. They do not roll until everyone is taken care of. Where on Earth do you get the kind of treatment? And we were just ONE stop of MANY — like one of 7.

Filled with Magic

As Golf Cart Santa pulled away and we all recounted the experience, I could not stop my eyes from welling up with tears.

I have not experienced anything quite like this before. It was as if I was convinced to believe in Santa all over again.

There was no other reason for Golf Cart Santa than to spread magic — the joy of Christmas.

There were no advertisements or donation buckets or any other hidden agenda.

It was just magic. It was magic that felt rare and over-the-top special.

Double Dippers

So the following week or so was our neighborhood’s night for Golf Cart Santa. We were moving the following week (5 days after Christmas) so we had spent the day emptying our attic — a task involving little to no magic. But we fed our kids and forced ourselves out the door just in time to see Golf Cart Santa pull onto our street. Our neighborhood showed up in full force. There were more than double the amount of people there for the experience than we had in our friends’ neighborhood.

I did not just well up with tears this time, though. I had actual tears. I was completely moved by the experience as the Golf Cart Santa Team ensured that everyone — irrespective of how large the crowd was — got the full experience.

My in-laws were with us and as we watched Golf Cart Santa pull away, my mother-in-law said, “I think I am enjoying this as much as the kids.”

And that is just it. It was wholeheartedly enjoyable for everyone. We were not just doing it for the kids, but we were all experiencing the magic.

In 2019 and as a 31-year-old adult, I find those moments fewer and farther between.

See you next year?

We no longer live on Golf Cart Santa’s route. But if he shows up this year (2020) with more magic than anyone else I have ever physically been around, I will do my best to put my family in his path.

“Santa tell me if you’re really there
Don’t make me fall in love again
If he won’t be here next year . . .”

Golf Cart Santa, from the very bottom of my Christmas-loving heart, thank you. Thank you for your effort and for all of your time. I appreciate you more than you know. You, Golf Cart Santa, are magic.

God Met Me at My Bar Stool

I know, I know – the title is pretty heavy and unconventional. I promise you, though, it’s not what you probably think.

We’re all a little broken. Some of our cracks might be bigger than others; but, personally, I think it’s the cracks and imperfections that make us more beautiful.

The Art of Kintsukuroi

Kintsukuroi, is the centuries-old Japanese art of fixing broken pottery. Rather than rejoin ceramic pieces with a camouflaged adhesive, the Kintsukuroi technique employs a special tree sap lacquer dusted with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. Once completed, beautiful seams of gold glint in the conspicuous cracks of ceramic wares, giving a one-of-a-kind appearance to each “repaired” piece.

This unique method celebrates each artifact’s history by emphasizing its fractures and breaks instead of hiding or disguising them. In fact, Kintsukuroi often makes the repaired piece even more beautiful than the original, revitalizing it with a new look and giving it a second life.

Rare Things Hold Incredible Value

The result of Kintsukuroi is a rare piece that is unique in design and cannot be replicated. It is put through a process. A remaking. Similarly, is the production of a diamond. You see, in the beginning, a diamond is merely carbon, but is also known as the hardest mineral on earth. However, like all things, a process is attached to determine the beautiful outcome. When the diamond goes through the process of extreme temperatures, diligent mining, precise cutting, and then firm polishing, it becomes the most precious and sought-after gemstone in the all the world. It’s beauty and value far exceed its originality before the process it had to endure to become what it is the day that it is placed in that display case. It has a remarkable story to tell. Its journey is breathtaking.

That Diamond is a Lot Like Us

There may have been a time where you didn’t feel like you were much of anything. Unnoticed by the crowd, if you had to place all your chips on one determination you could have sworn you were invisible to everyone around you. The world hardened your heart, and your hope for a future was bleak. There may have been a time where your heart was broken, your health was threatened, your finances were slim, your loved ones were hurting, or you just couldn’t see past the storm that surrounded you. Rest in this – God saw more and when He sees more, that is enough.

That was the moment God met me at my bar stool. A time when I didn’t feel like I was much of anything. My mind was lost, and my heart felt empty. I busied myself with projects, procrastination, and an overbooked calendar. One of those projects happened to be refurbishing a few bar stools that I had acquired for my home. I gathered my supplies and began to sand down the wood, in preparation for the new coat of stain. As I spot tested the color I had chosen, I couldn’t help but become mesmerized by the beauty that resulted when the paint began to pile up in the cracks, creating these long lustrous patterns. It didn’t look plain and uneventful like the white paint did before. It was almost as though the cracks were trying to tell a story. What was once someone’s trash had suddenly came to life. Then – God met me there. The same process I saw come to life is exactly what He was doing within me.

And so, Here I Stand

The hardships – they were the sandpaper that stripped away the things that weren’t meant for me. The things that were holding me back. The heartache – that was the fire that burned valuable lessons into my soul. And so, through the furnace of affliction and fire, He began to purify me in my most secret and hidden places. Old traits, wrong mindsets, and all insecurities began to swiftly melt away from my true form.

As I look ahead to a new year and 365 new opportunities to do something radical and transformative, I cannot help but be grateful for the last 365. This was a season of great difficulty, yet powerful transformation.

What I’ve learned is that God can meet me anywhere, even at my bar stools. And now, He can now set me directly in the center of this broken and fragile world, knowing that I will radiate because of the gift of my imperfections.

We aren’t just broken. We are Kintsukuroi.

Take the Help: How Saying Yes Can Make All the Difference

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There are lots of ways we can react when we see someone else’s child throwing an unholy fit in the middle of Target: sympathetic smile, judgey-judgement, pretend it’s not happening, just be thankful it’s not us this time.

But sometimes (and definitely not every time – read the situation) offering a helping hand might be just what that momma needs to not lose her own mind.

I decided to start 2020 off on the right foot: with a trip to Target. There were a few things I actually needed, plus those Christmas markdowns were calling my name (50 cent wrapping paper? Yes please!) So I loaded my toddler into the car seat and hit the road.

Since it was just one week past Christmas, we had a little chat in the car: We were there to buy these specific things. No extra treats. No presents. After all, she had plenty of new things to play with at home. And she agreed! “Yes Momma.” I let myself believe I was crushing it, because obviously at that point, I was.

All was well. We grabbed the necessities. She even wanted to walk beside me rather than ride in the cart, and that was even going smoothly! Still. Crushing. It. Then I remembered one thing that wasn’t on my list: a new calendar for the fridge (don’t tell me about your digital scheduling tools. I’ve tried. I can’t do it. If it’s not written on that calendar or in my planner, it doesn’t exist). So we took one last detour down the office supply aisle.

That’s when she spotted it. A glittery purple notebook, with obnoxiously bright stickers all over it, with a built-in pencil pouch.

“Momma, can I get this notebook?”

“No. We talked about this in the car, remember? No new things today. Plus, you’ve got notebooks at home already.”

And that was all it took to set it off. The loudest screaming and crying fit that my child has ever thrown in public. Her protests included the old standby, “But I want it!” and my personal favorite, “They’ll kick me out of kindergarten if I don’t have this notebook!” (We’ve also been talking about starting big girl school in the fall, so she’s obviously been giving it some thought.)

I thought about caving. It would have been too easy, right? It was probably less than $5, and wouldn’t have made much of a difference in my total Target tab. But I decided to remove it from her hands, set it back on the shelf, and navigate us towards checkout.

The cries continued. And they were getting louder. The lovely girl working checkout that day in aisle 7 tried to distract her to help stop the cries, but nothing worked.

As we rolled out of the door (very, very quickly), I locked eyes with a woman. She gave me a quick sympathetic smile as we flew past, as I wanted to get us back in the car as quickly as humanly possible.

I found myself at my car, trying to figure out the best way to get my child back in her seat, get my groceries unloaded, and get the heck out of dodge. That’s when the woman walked up beside me and very sweetly asked, “Would you like me to load your things into your trunk so you can try to get her settled?”

I almost rejected her out of habit. I’ve got this! I don’t need help! I do the helping! (I’m a type 2, almost to a fault.) But I took that one extra second to start speaking, and apparently that was all it took.

“That would be wonderful. Thank you.”

After wrestling my still crying child into her car seat, I turned around to tell her thank you once again. She told me to think nothing of it. A quick conversation led us to realize that she knew my in-laws (of course, because it’s Lafayette), and then I was back in the car, and we were on our way.

Despite the fact that the tantrum continued for most of the way home, I finally felt like I could catch my breath. This woman’s three minutes of kindness had kept me from having a breakdown of my own in the parking lot. It doesn’t always take a huge effort to have a huge impact on someone’s day.

An Ode to My Concealer :: Thank You For All You Do

“The Early Bird Might Catch The Worm, But I Bet It Also Needs A Ton Of Under Eye Concealer” – Nicole Richie

My Dearest Concealer,

Here we are again, spending another morning in each other’s company, as we regularly do.

For years I searched for a match like this, not knowing if such a thing was even in the cards.

…but from our first encounter, you saw my baggage and immediately sprung to my rescue.

I assumed by now our routine would feel mundane. I imagined we’d eventually start just going through the motions, but I am continually in awe of what you’re able to accomplish.

Sadly, I’m all too aware that there may come a time we may be forced to discontinue what we have. Formulas are always changing, but I don’t even want to picture a life without you. When things get rough, you’re the one thing I can always count on.

Even now, when we miss our mornings together, things just aren’t the same. Your absence is even felt by those around me. “Are you feeling okay?” I hear them ask, “You look so tired.

I assure them everything is fine. Of course, we both know the life missing from my face is at home with you.

Some have even said I don’t need you and should take a more ‘natural’ route. They tell me that what we have is built on my insecurities and that I’m better off without you.

I’ll admit, there have been times I’ve sulked at the thought of our relationship. On more than one occasion than I’d like to admit, I’ve resented how reliant I was on your help. Feeling dependent doesn’t come easy to a lady like me.

It’s true, in the past, I have selfishly taken your abilities for granted. I let envious thoughts get the better of me and it caused me to hold you to such an impossible standard. For that, I am sorry.

Still, throughout it all, your support has remained unwavering.

We both know shame is not at the root of our relationship. it is not your intention to hide my imperfections, but to highlight the features I’m most proud of. You give me a cloak of restful looking armor, and the confidence to live each day as if I’ve slept all night for the past year week.

Like any other supportive relationship, you help me to be my best self.

When things get bumpy and uneven, you’re there to swoop in to smooth things over.

When all I see is darkness, you are there to be my light.

When a long day has visibly taken its toll, you’re right there to turn back time.

When I feel completely depleted, you’re there helping me look refreshed.

When there is a noticeable problem, you’re there to lend a helping hand.

When I worry if my children will ever sleep through the night, you’re always there with a reassuring nudge, letting me know you’ve got my back no matter what.

You, my dear concealer, complete me. Thank you for all that you do.

Sincerely,

One Tired Mother

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