MINIMALISM - PT. 2 : FREEDOM IN MOTHERHOOD

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MINIMALISM PT. 2:

FREEDOM IN MOTHERHOOD
@ I T S R A C H E L J O H N S O N 

I live in the upper midwest- where seasons are drastic and distinct and so unique.  And it's so clear that there is not one part of nature that blooms year round  & we cannot expect that of ourselves, friends.  

Uncertainty can really be debilitating, can't it?  Sitting in the unknown is hard.   Clutter can cloud so many areas of our lives, and sometimes we don't even realize it.  

I want to start here, by encouraging you.  Maybe your heart is cluttered just as much as your spare bedroom is? (or that one room that you just shut the door and pretend it doesn't exist.)  

Maybe there are parts of your heart you do this to as well? We shut doors on pain or loss or situations we cannot seem to approach. 

When I first started understanding this idea of minimalism, it didn't take too long for me to catch on. 

Donate, keep, or throw.  

Rinse & repeat. 

We did this process pretty well once we got the hang of it.  We make regular trips to donate - there's a steady pile in the back of my hubbys car to drop off at the donation center.  

We went room by room, deciding what things held value for us, and what we really didn't need in life( read this as the boxes of junk we've moved several times and still haven't needed), & the things that were taking up emotional space ( sentimental objects from the past, the obligation to keep gifts out of guilt, the pain of getting rid of something we once spent lots of money on, etc)  

But there was still something that wasn't quite clicking. Part of me still felt anxious & overwhelmed.  

So much of our culture tells us that it's not okay to admit hardship and failure.  
and I'm just going to go ahead and speak the opposite, friends. 

Motherhood is hard, and sometimes I'm not that great at it.  I feel awkward in this role sometimes--like I've reached motherhood too early and I'm not quite ready yet.  Like I have a lot more growing to do before I can be a good mom.  This wasn't just like a few weeks of my life feeling like this- this was a lot of my first years of motherhood.  

I allowed anxiety and postpartum depression and fear rule how I parent.  
For a time, I was barely treading water (while holding babies) surrounded by crap I didn't need, or want, or know what to do with.  I feared that I would look back on these days of toddlerhood and only see all the things that ruled my heart by struggle.  

I have camped out in the doubt.  The space of convincing myself that I'm not good at motherhood.  I've led with my emotions and temper and at times I have left little room for patience and grace.  

maybe you're here too?
maybe you're here and you've never realized it?
maybe you're here and you don't quite know how to step out of it?

I don't have exact answers, or even a process to share with you.  But I do know that there is so much grace here for you. 

Mama, this isn't weight we were meant to carry. 

Learning to recognize and remove the barriers around our hearts, to make way for Christ to come in and flood it.  Examine what the weight is.  and just place it at the foot of the cross. If that weight is insecurity, or fear of failure, perfectionism, desire to be loved-- get to the root of the things that weigh on your heart.  It's okay to dig in-even if you know it's going to be a mess. There is not one thing we could face in our hearts that God hasn't already claimed victory over on the cross.  

Mama, listen for the echoes of heavenly grace.  That peaks through the forrest and whispers "come along, sweet girl.  you belong here with me, not in the darkness."

Because as much as we think we can fight for freedom on our own we really can't get anywhere without Jesus.  

Letting go of physical clutter is great.  less stuff = more joy. 

Letting go of the things that clutter our hearts is life changing in a whole new way.  It's freedom on a whole new level.  Freedom you don't have to fight for.  Freedom that has already been purchased with you in mind because He truly does want you dwelling with him- not in the darkness.  


Rach.

 

 

 

 

MINIMALISM-PT. 1: THE PURSUIT TO LESS IN MOTHERHOOD

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MINIMALISM- PT. 1:

THE PURSUIT TO LESS IN MOTHERHOOD
@ I T S R A C H E L J O H N S O N 

Minimalism is a pretty prevalent world on the internet these days.  And I'll just go on official record and say that we are definitely not hardcore minimalists..  because, kids.

But we're definitely working towards being intentional about what we have, how we use it, and what we bring into our home.  I'll be writing more about that actual process soon, what we've been inspired by, and how we actually went about getting rid of junk.  so this part of minimalism is inward. my heart, my mind and my well-being.  I share this with humility because I know there are mamas out there that need to hear this.

We'll call it "the pursuit to less in motherhood"  and yes, that sentence probably goes against a lot of articles and posts you've seen in the past few years about motherhood.

we (as a culture) are constantly running after more.

after being more.

after having more.

after doing more.

if you're a mom, and don't have some sort of MLM side-hustle or something to do or contribute to then really--who are you?

Surely we cannot just step into this role as a mother and have it be enough, right?  (I guess I must have skimmed over the verse that tells you if God has placed you in motherhood - you must also sell things)

Now hear me out— I’m not bashing the MLM life in any form— there are people I know and love and adore who truly thrive here.  I’ve done MLM, I have my own small business. I have/had side hustles galore.

And I'll be honest with you-- It was never enough, and simultaneously, entirely too much.  

I've chased after the entrepreneur life.  and part of me still is, and will in the future.

But right now?  God is slowing my heart down in so many things.  There is this clarity surfacing in my heart that being busy does not mean being successful.

I was filing my days with projects and things I am good at.  Things I know God has provided for me- talent wise and finance wise. Working towards better success for my family, something to make of myself, bigger impact... and you know what?

God said wait.  Just be still and dive deep into motherhood.  Passionately run after this- because the kids wont be kids forever.  Don't get too busy chasing this to forget that you are first and foremost a wife and mother.

When we search and chase and its not enough It leaves us in a dry valley of failure and guilt.  

But when we realize that we cannot and DO NOT HAVE TO do it all?  There is so much freedom in that.  And surely when we walk forward and step out of those self-held expectations of doing everything we realize that while we may be doing 'everything'- we certainly aren't doing it well. 

There were words I needed to remove from my daily dialogue. 
The bottom feeder self talk-  the words that sit in the muck and the dirt.  that's where I was.  I am incredibly hard on myself and it manifests in forms of perfectionism and claiming responsibility over things I have zero control over.  Beating myself up, tearing myself down, holding unrealistic expectations of myself,  sulking in my own worry and anxiety.

But more importantly there were words I desperately needed to reclaim . Words that seemed like a foreign language. Words I faintly know a rough translation for but don't properly know how to use.
>>Life- giving, Holy words directly from God who so desperately loves me & loves you. Whispers of grace filled encouragement and love that is unmerited and relentless and powerful. <<

Its easy to fall into the first narrative - because, well- we're human.  But man, if we learn to grasp the reality that the second narrative is where we can rest? That’s good stuff.  That’s where I want to fight from and stand in.

Less in motherhood is where Im arriving. It makes the most sense in my heart.   

Less events on our calendar

Less clutter + stuff to deal with and maintain

Less screen time

Less commitment to things that shouldn't be prioritized over my family

Less stress

because this shift naturally produces abundance.  

More family time

More time to dig deep into the word

More time to pray

More time to be outside and just play and learn with my kids.

More peace

So mama, if you're struggling to find your place, what you think you should be doing, or what you should be better at?  You're so not alone. I see your heart, and I get it.  
Motherhood is incredible.  We've seriously been given some of the best work.  Raising image-bearers of Christ is no light responsibility.  But it's undeniably profound.

Let's allow ourselves the space to shift our focus.   Let's learn to wake up and know we're walking into Holy ground.  (Especially when that holy ground looks like copious amounts of cold-ish coffee, chaotic breakfast and toys scattered on the floor by 7:15am.)

Find something to say no to this week, or this month. Make time for things that have fallen to the wayside.  Intentionally schedule rest first before other commitments.  Make time for art, or music, or whatever makes your soul wake up. Re-prioritize your schedule to make these days matter.  Commit to less.  Rest in abundance.
There is so much goodness found in the unrushed pace of life hidden with Christ.  

Rach

on being 5 years old

F I V E   Y E A R S   O L D.  what?  

Asher Zachary is five today. ( & I'm currently picking myself up off the floor in puddle-form wondering how we've already arrived here😭 I think 5 is going to be weepy for this mama. These kiddos reach daily milestones but 5 is just so different!!)

Five years of life. A life that has completely transformed my own life in so many ways. He is smart and brilliant. He has the biggest heart and loves hard. He is stubborn and determined He has gigantic dreams. His heart for adventure captivates me.

We love him and adore him so much it hurts sometimes. Parenthood is tough and sometimes it's a slow-developing reward isn't it? But man if it isn't one of the most holy things we can do here on earth. His life is a testament to the goodness of God, and our only prayer is that we raise him to be the child of God that he is. That we would be hearers and doers of the word with him. That we would lead him humbly and gracefully by example and that he would grow into a man who honors God with his life. HBD Asher Zachary.

We had such a fun adventure filled day with you buddy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

on priorities and new anthems

About four or five months ago, I realized that I needed to be more selfish. I was in this season of busy.  Making it to the bedtime finish line with the kids- and then starting a second round of 'day' just to get stuff done.  Staying up until well after midnight, sleeping for a few hours, and waking up on empty for another long day with littles. Barely being the mom I want to be.

surviving.

I was burning myself out for months, actually it was the better part of last year.. I was awake for the majority of a 24 hour day and yet I would go through days and not even understand where the hours went.

Something had to change-- I couldn't keep doing this. My mental state and my body were suffering.  I was on a failing auto-pilot mode.  So I made some changes- both drastic and simple.  I'm still working towards a lot of this.  It's a process.  And the thing is-  this will always look different for everyone.

But for me? It was a priority shift.... and it was a big one. I probably don't have to tell you that raising a family on one income is not easy. Actually- it's really hard.

I think there is a part of my heart that was trying so hard to change our financial situation that I compromised things without even being aware of it. I strived for success in my Etsy shop, trying on so many hats to just gain some sort of accomplishment.  It worked, kind of. But in return all I found was stress/anxiety.  That was not the return I was looking for.  So before Christmas, I put my shop on 'vacation' and right now I'd say it will stay that way for a long time.  I have plans for a more streamlined, simple shop on my website here- but its still in the works. I am still doing creative things- but at a pace I set, one that I am comfortable with and one that I am in control of.

We've unplugged. Stepped back. Scaled down. We've been intentionally working so hard towards minimalism- in every aspect of our lives( that is another big exciting post coming soon, friends.)

And our society looks at it like it's a crazy concept.  Our family is going against every consumerism standard , stereotype, and American dream mantra. And I have to tell you- I really love it here. I feel like we're arriving where we need to be as a family.

"Through [skillful and godly] wisdom a house [a life, a home, a family] is built, And by understanding it is established [on a sound and good foundation], And by knowledge its rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches." Proverbs 24:3-4 [amp]

In this transition to slow down our lives, I've had to say 'no' to a lot of things. If you know me, you know that I say yes. all. the. time. And if I do say no, it's a long process of me overthinking how to say no without offending people. ( just ask my hubby- he's the voice of reason in my forever process of pleasing people)

 

Saying no to a commitment is hard for me.  Like really hard.  But in saying no, I'm actually saying yes to so much more.

+yes to more sleep ( hello 10pm bedtimes, you are my favorite )

+yes to more time with my kids ( I have no words to express how important this is )

+yes to more time for my house ( purging belongings that clutter our space and our hearts ) 

+yes to more uninterrupted time with hubby- ( we live a night shift life schedule so this time is limited and we savor it )

+yes for room to just sit in the presence of God and soak in his word.

it feels good.

-my email inbox is not always at zero ( which is a thing for me)

-I have several pending friend/follow requests and notifications on multiple platforms, and I'm more than okay with it. ( sorry/not sorry, if you are one of those people)

-I do not need to be available to immediately respond to someone or something.  I actually minimized my home screen on my phone to only four essential apps/ things I use on a regal basis. Everything else is on a second screen I have to intentionally scroll to to get to things like Facebook, and Pinterest.  Do this for a week, and it will help you understand where your time goes, let me tell you!

-I am free to walk away from my phone for hours at a time and its a good feeling. (actually, I cracked my screen about a moth ago- and my initial reaction was to go buy a new one- because it's outdated and now cracked-- but it's been something I don't use or need as much as I initially did since changing some of my priorities- so I don't actually care that much if it's cracked.  >disclaimer: if someone wants to buy me an iPhone, I won't say no.  )

-I don't have to attend your Facebook party to buy something I don't want or need. And I don't have to join your mlm team. (nothing inherently wrong with either of these things, I even enjoy some of them.  It's just that I no longer feel obligated to keep up that social standard of saying yes to everything)

 

In case you haven't caught on yet-- this is me with a gigantic white flag.

 

friends,

We do not have to be products of our schedules.

We do not have to try and fit LIFE into our to-do lists and hope we can somehow come out the other side a great wife, a great mother, and a great friend.

We do not have to nurture the ebbs and flows of social media... the internet will still be there.

We can walk in the freedom of not being ruled by our phones( I still, and forever will love Instagram- so don't hear me wrong here.) and our commitments.

The mantras of hustle more / do more / be more till you make it are just so not for me. And I hope they're not for you either. 

Because there is beauty in the rest.

There is an undeniable peace in a slow, quiet life.

There is so much space for growth.

"and to make it your ambition to live quietly and peacefully, and to mind your own affairs and work with your hands, just as we directed you, so that you will behave properly toward outsiders [exhibiting good character, personal integrity, and moral courage worthy of the respect of the outside world], and be dependent on no one and in need of nothing [be self-supporting]." 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 [amp]

God has been seriously un-rushing me. In my heart & relationship with Him, my motherhood, my marriage, my friendships, my goals, my work.

It has been a big season of understanding and clarity.  Of shattering skewed perceptions and expectations.  Of grace-filled 'aha moments'.

I feel like I'm arriving at a place God has been preparing for me & I'm looking forward to being here.

 

 

R

on turning three years old

Quinn Amelia, how can you be three already?  ( I'm totally a few weeks late on this, I'm sorry.)  We've been busy.

So much of my heart is wrapped up in your amazing self.

You love fiercely. You have the greatest laugh. You never miss a day without aggressively hugging my neck. You are brilliant. You make me laugh. so hard. I am 100000% convinced there is pure magic inside of you.

I adore watching you grow, and learn and step into the beautiful person God created you to be.  You teach my heart so much about what is important and what motherhood is supposed to be.

You and your brother and so special to me and I love how close you are becoming.

keep on being the beautiful thing that you are, stay wild and stay free. its my favorite thing about you.  I seriously can't tell you how much I love you. 

xoxo, mama.

on Gratitude

untitled-2 I'm making a sweeping declaration.  ( but not the Marshall Erickson kind, HIMYM fans)

As we settle into the month of November I'm going to focus on Gratitude.

And I'm not just talking ' we thank you Lord, for this pizza, bless it to our bodies-- everyone shout amen' sort of grateful... but let's be honest, that definitely has a place.(*inserts praise hands emoji*)

I want to be real with you.  I am not good at being grateful.  I've always been stubborn and strong-willed and subconsciously prided myself on that.  So to humbly be grateful is kind of hard for me.
As I get older though I find myself evaluating this more and more.  Do I find myself with the desire to have a grateful heart, or do I desire to compare- to measure up to others around me, as if they hold the secrets to where I belong in this world.
I feel like we are instructed from a young age to hone our natural strengths and shed our weaknesses.. Or if we can't shed them, at least tuck them away for no one to see.  Weakness has always been assigned to the 'con' column for me.  Things that only detract from who I am, or what I am worth.
I don't envy other's weaknesses- so I surely don't flaunt my own.  But maybe these "strengths" are really how good we are at hiding our weaknesses- And our "weaknesses" are just where we need to invite God in to do the work we can't.  If we are in a constant battle of strengths and weaknesses there is no room for gratitude.  And Gratitude can be one of the transformative things, if we let it.

It's easy to be grateful in the fruitful seasons of life, the times where it is abundently clear that it is a harvest season.  But what about seeking grattitude in the low valleys-the barron lands.  the seasons of growth and laying down roots.  grasping the soil you're planting yourself in.  Being intentionally grateful should be a lifestyle we aim for, but it doesn't always come naturally does it?

Gratitude humbles us. big time.  Our Ego and pride go out the window when we are aligning our hearts with God.
Gratitude allows things to surface.  This part, while not so fun, is crucial.    Those icky thoughts--the things that you can't seem to shake.  It shifts our focus to God- and not our issues.  Sitting in the presence of a Holy God, is so much better than a pile of anxiety.  There is no room for fear if God is our focus.  Our joy will increase and lets be honest, we all need more joy in our lives.
Gratitude brings us to a deeper understanding of God. there are so many facets of the Lord and he will continually reveal these things to us as we deepen our relationship with Him.
Gratitude spirals into living out our lives differently.  If we focus on God's will for our lives, he's going to show us just how much he wants us to be like Him. To align our hearts with what He is doing in this life he's given us.  
Maybe these things scare you?  Maybe these things seem out of your reach?  But what if it were simple enough to just say, 'okay God, I'm game!' and see what unfolds through through that.
If we look at it simply?   its really just a question of where we want our hearts to be.  Are we going to align our hearts with gratitude, or bitterness?
Let's walk  from a place of gratitude. Let's push bitterness to the wind and watch God work his marvelous plan.
-R

on having a miscarriage

photo-1452696024259-cb7474e79947 I found out I was pregnant on October 13th of last year.  I sat on the edge of the bathtub and  just stared at those two lines.  Those two tiny little lines that change so much of your heart in an instant. I was a hot mess, honestly.  My mind was running in about 72 directions as it was... and then this—this precious little life was here to join us.

Or at least that's what I thought.

Less than 24 hours later I started bleeding. & I knew. I just knew. I had lost our baby. It’s so utterly poignant to fall in love with someone and grieve the loss of them at the same time.  We lost our baby on October 15th which just happens to be National pregnancy and infant loss remembrance day. (We'll call this another sucker-punch to the heart)

I was told I had an early first trimester miscarriage and at some point baby stopped growing completely. That my pregnancy was not viable and that baby was ‘a small cluster of cells at this point'  and that my body would 'process it out just fine’ and ‘I’d be back to normal in no time’.  Cold, harsh, Un-human words were uttered to me and I literally sat there in silence. Completely unable to even form sentences—let alone come up for air from this suffocating reality.  That conversation was so hard for me.  My heart was screaming : No,you’re wrong! It wasn't just a cluster of cells,  those cells were perfectly orchestrated by God, made in His own image.  But my mouth said nothing. I was just silent— numb.

It's been said that grief changes you.  That you'll never be the same. But this? This shook me to my very core.  Motherhood suddenly felt distinctly different… standing in the shower sobbing— desperately pleading with God that this isn't really happening.  That I would suddenly wake up from this hellish nightmare.

The next day, I sat on the floor scattered in laundry that was washed a few days ago.  Not too far from there was a pile of dirty clothes— a pile of clothes I wasn't sure I was ready to wash. Because then it would start a process.  A process of dealing and grieving—a process I shouldn't have to start.

If I am honest?  I was bitter about it, and so much of me refused to even believe it was acceptable to process and grieve. Because what did I even have to grieve?  I didn't get to hear a heartbeat, or have ultrasound pictures, or a belly bump to hug.  All that I had to cling to was a stupid stick I peed on & memories of a few days.  And those days were riddled with sorrow.  I think maybe I was scared that one day I would forget those moments, and in that I would forget our baby.

Our due date came and went early this summer.  I should have been washing clothes and getting diapers prepared.  Making sure I had everything I needed to bring another precious human into the world—but I wasn’t.  I avoided the baby section in stores like the plague.  I had to mentally prepare myself to go there— knowing I would totally be the lady sitting on the floor in target, sopping up tears with a tiny onesie I had no intentions of buying.

Maybe you’re here too, mama.  Maybe you struggled to carry your baby, only to never have the chance to meet them.  Or maybe you met them, but they were gone incredibly too soon.

Maybe you’re desperately trying to become pregnant and can’t.  Can I tell you that I have so much love for your broken heart? I don’t know the depth of this pain and I am SO sorry.

Maybe you’re on the other side of this, and you made the choice to have an abortion, and now the guilt and grief is settling in- I don’t know this pain, but I do know that Jesus loves you so so much.

I really,truly want to speak truth over those silently dealing with this grief.

At first, we told no one.  Eventually we told our family, and a few close friends.  I didn't want to be baring my weak, shattered, anger filled heart to the world. No one deserved to witness this heartache, nor would they understand it.

To be honest, I am still not sure how to truly share my experience.  It’s hard to stand here, and declare that women should be open about their experience with miscarriage.  The initial mourning period is full of such raw, crushing personal emotions.  Without my savior there is no way I would have handled that with any sort of dignity.  Praise Jesus for his mercy and grace in times of severe grief.

I don’t necessarily believe that in sharing my story I'm going to drastically change the dynamic and understanding of miscarriage.  But I do hope to shift the perspective and encourage this to be something we talk about as women.  To be able to push past the awkward ( sometimes un-thought out & hurtful) responses, the 180-subject changes and uncomfortable stares.

I'm here to say that it is okay to not know how to respond.  The discomfort of listening to someone else’s grief will always feel intrusive, but it doesn't mean that stories shouldn't be shared.   To be able to open up this part of life is a huge thing- and it’s hard to not minimize the magnitude of this sorrow— because it’s not a common discussion in the world of grief.  It’s been said that it takes a village to raise a child.  I believe that it also takes a village to carry the burden of loss.  To be the pillar for a friend, who is walking through the lowest of valleys.  To be there through it all. I can’t tell you how many women have reached out to me with the hushed, whispered secret of “I have experienced this too,”  and it breaks my heart every time.

So mamas, please talk to someone if you think it would help. This pain is not meant to be dealt with alone.  The guilt and shame you might carry around with you has no place in this story.  The sorrow and heartbreak you carry-is not unknown, nor is it uncommon.  You are fully loved and fully known by Jesus.  He will sustain you through this.

When we are met in the face with utter sorrow— our faith is tested. We question, we doubt, we curse & we hide. Here I am a year later— still in the middle of a lot of this.  I am still grieving & I’m still processing. And God is revealing and teaching and shepherding my heart.  This part of my story is but a beautiful thread in his tapestry of Grace.

I am starting to see God clearly in this. How he is using my sweet Eden to teach me about HIS love for me.

God knows this world is a mess. He knows how filthy it is & he knows how painful it can be for us to walk through the mess of life sometimes.  why do I feel this?  I Look at his plan for Jesus. God— in His infinite power— had the ability to stop the suffering of his Son, Jesus Christ in an instant.  But he didn’t.  He watched his son suffer in agony for us! Big, fat sinners—who didn’t deserve any of it.  Sometimes, as hard as it is, we just need to see past our current pain and know that this will indeed be used for his glory.

I am getting to see just a glimpse of how much God loves us.

Am I crushed and utterly heartbroken my baby is not here in my arms, playing and growing with my other kids?  Absolutely.

But I can’t fully tell you how humbling it has been to sit quietly in the revelation that I have been given the ability to love deeply— that my heart aches and has the ability to unconditionally love my children because of God’s love for me. It’s more than anything I’ve ever known.  It’s everything.

If you have experienced any kind of pregnancy loss—miscarriage, stillbirth, abortion and would be so bold as to share your story, I would love to cover you in prayer today and moving forward and seek the Lord on your behalf for healing in your heart.

October//Goals

untitled-10 October is here.  Typically, I would be super excited about I adore fall and everything it entails.  ( more in the apple cider way instead of the pumpkin spice way)  but this fall is different.  This month will approach one year of our miscarriage. Did you know 1 in 4 women will experience a miscarriage, still birth, or infant loss.  1 in 4.  I am that 1 in 4.

That statistic is absurd to me.  how can something this prevalent and common be so undiscussed or embraced?  In a typical month of awareness, there are a lot of channels and ways people process grief. and thats a good thing.  Grief is so different for everyone, and it is nothing you can put into a box and say here, this is how you deal with this.

and for me?  I am still processing. I'm still healing.

and thats okay.

I am learning to let things go. learning to heal. learning to un-busy myself a bit and just be. Because sometimes the grief is still overwhelming.  I am coming to realize that I still have a lot to process and a lot to overcome and I think I always will.   But learning to recognize that and move forward with that reality is something I am working on.

This month, I have one goal.  to focus on self- care and healing.  because I can already tell it's going to be a hard month for me.

I will be sharing more of our story over the next few weeks-- sometimes a common voice is all someone needs to start healing, and if I can bring that to someone then I will share forever.

goals are good. but healing is also good. and thats where I'll be.

cheers,  R