I have known people who have moved more, and I have known people who have lived in the same house for most of their lives. The biggest take away for me has been, regardless of where life takes you (or doesn’t take you); find connection. Find connection with your neighbors. Find connection with a body of believers. Find connection within your surrounding community. Seek it out, and be intentional. Intentionality is key because there will be days when connection may feel miserable, but sometimes those are the days when it’s most important. For some reason our society has placed virtual connection on a pedestal and we’re losing our ability to connect with people in real life. As a stay at home mom this has been one of the most challenging aspects of my “job”. Never before did I work in a job that kept me so isolated from others. It’s not for lack of trying. I have spent the last three and half years attempting to connect with other moms, church groups, and neighbors. I wouldn’t say my efforts haven’t bore any fruit, but I find the fruit of my labor to be disappointing in quantity. I expected there to be more people. The quality of the people I have been able to connect with has been astounding. The few that have worked at maintaining relationship have shown me what life can look like when people value real connection over convenient friendship.
Moving is a major culprit in making this process more difficult. I find it extremely challenging to, as runners say, “build my base again”, every time we move. Building your base, as a runner, means to change the habits of not only your daily life but your body’s habits (how it burns fat, how it utilizes oxygen, etc.). It allows you a “base” to build your training on. The wider the base, the greater your peak. When we move, I have to re-build my “base” and that, I feel, has impacted my social life. I know this won’t be our last move, and I’m not necessarily upset about that, but I do look forward to the day that I can sit, and know, this is my place….these are my people. For now, I treat each place as if it is just that, but it hurts when we leave. It’s so hard and takes so much out of me (as an introvert and a mom who already feels spread thin), but it’s so worth it when I finally find that connection. Right now I feel like I’m in the base building phase of this new place, and I’m tired. I miss having my neighbor from Palmyra who was there through it all, and I for her.
Mamas reading this will understand what I am talking about (and others too, I’m sure), but what I would like to really say, after rambling through these thoughts is this…
Take the time to connect. It’s hard, I know. Be ready to show grace. Be ready to empathize. Be kind. Open yourself up, and allow them to see you. The real you. You are worth it. They are worth it. The connection, though painful at times… Is worth it. Even if life keeps giving you new places to live.
It’s obviously been a minute since my last post. Life has been busy, full, and surprising over the last two years. In list-form summary….
*We welcomed our daughter, Amelia Noelle Ziegler, into our family (we call her Millie) *We moved to Bentonville, Arkansas *A global pandemic (COVID-19) really messed a bunch of stuff up (in case you didn’t know) *Walt turned 3 (he’s currently 3.5 years old) *Amelia turned 1 (she’s currently 1.5 years old) *We re-homed one of our dogs because our yard in Arkansas was way too small for her =( *I started running again, and am crushing it! *Dan is working in a new position within Hershey, and doing amazing
It looks like a small list, but it was a pretty wild ride working our way through it all.
Now, we are settled in Bentonville making friends, raising our kiddos, and being intentional about the time we have in this life.
One thing I have gathered (after a recent trip to the northeast to visit family) is that my time is precious and the relationship I have with my children is even more. I don’t get a second go at this. I don’t get to pause, rewind, or move forward at a slower pace. I know this is not new information and it may seem a bit derivative, but it’s weighing heavy on my heart, and from my experience that means it’s worth sharing.
I want to write more from here on out, because I want to look back on these days and be able to uncover the things I may have forgotten, relive the days that have settled under dust, and show my children the beautiful process of growing up.
So, Walt, Millie, and any other offspring that could come along…. I hope you read these words and understand that the days were muddled and quick. They rushed us along and were ruthless in taking time. Despite that, we found joy in warm rainy days, bugs under rocks, and wandering. We found love in sitting with other people, hugging one another, and tending to small and large wounds. We found liberty in sacrificing time, things, and money. Above all of this, we saw God living amongst us in the hardships, the “best of times”, and in childhood prayers. I hope you look back in your memories and in my words and know that when all is said and done, “you are so so loved”.
While these days continue to prove me wrong and teach me knew things, I hope that these posts remind you of your strengths, that you are not alone, and that even in the mundane you can find pieces of the wonderful.
So, I’m going to be real here for a bit. I LOVE being a mom. I would do it all again, and again, and again. He is the best thing I have done in my life…but, man, postpartum depression is a B word. I have never quite felt the love, anger, joy, despair, excitement, completeness, and emptiness that I have felt after welcoming Walt into the world. I spend everyday watching him grow and learn. I spend every day learning how to love this tiny human better. I spend every day missing the interaction I would get as a student and employee. I think to myself “how am I going to make it through?…How am I going to fill the day?” and the answers are always the same; we can go to the library, we can have a playdate, go for a walk, go swimming, or make a mess of something (usually snow, jello, whipped cream, etc.). Eating kills about 20 minutes. Naps (if they’re good) can give me at least 30 minutes to pee, eat, fold laundry, let the dogs out, and maybe sit for a few seconds. My brain is literally mush. I swear I looked at the mashed potatoes we ate for dinner and felt a strong kinship with them. I cry at least twice a day. I space out so much. I feel nothing sometimes. Then again, sometimes I feel everything. All of it. It all comes rushing over me, and it’s overwhelming. It takes my breath away.
I know it will get better one day. I know hormones are a part of all of this nonsense. I know that being a mom is still so new, and it takes time to catch up. I am okay. Don’t worry (for those of you who may be). I have great support structures. I just wanted to see my thoughts become words. I wanted to remind my future self of how hard this was, and I know that future version will think to herself “TOTALLY WORTH IT”.
I have done a lot of thinking this year about identity. I now hold two titles (Wife and Mother) that society recognizes, and while I a completely honored to hold these titles I have been questioning what my real identity is rooted in, where it comes from. This will not be a post that highlights some epiphany I’ve come across, unfortunately. I just wanted to get some thoughts down. Maybe in publishing this I will be blessed by your prayers and/or words of encouragement. Obviously, for those of you who are Christian and reading this, my identity comes from Christ. That’s easy to say, and most of us proclaim it on a regular basis, but what the heck does that even mean. What does it mean that my identity is in Christ when my defiant toddler brings out, what feels like dormant demons, from deep down within me? What does it mean to have my identity reside in Christ when my husband is trying to be, literally the perfect gentleman, and all I want to do is yell at him (I have problems, don’t judge me). This year has forced me to dig deeper. I cannot rely on simply eating well, exercising, sleeping enough (because Lord knows that does not happen), or relying on friends (because I am lacking in this area currently). I have to reevaluate the area of my life I have neglected…prayer. Ugh. Why is it so hard to do this regularly?
Maybe none of you have this issue. Maybe it’s just me. If so, please enlighten me. I must also say that I have had to up how frequently I read my Bible by almost twofold. Prayer though…that’s where I get tripped up everytime. So, right now I am working on that. In terms of identity, I am proud to wear the hats of Wife and Mother, but I want to hear what God would say about my identity in Him. I’m hoping He wants to spill the beans sometime soon =)
Thanks for reading the ramblings of a confused woman.
We are just days before Walt’s first birthday, and I am amazed at how fast a year has gone by. He still refuses to walk (lazy little boy), but insists on doing anything and everything on his own. His hair is still blazing red. His eyes are still super blue. His teeth count is holding strong at eight, though I think he is about to cut two canines. Right now his favorite thing to do is clap and use everything that isn’t his walker for pushing around the house including, but not limited to: daddy’s guitar case, the wooden activity cube, books, chairs, and Roo. He recently developed an affinity for the dog’s chuck it.
His quirkiness, joy, and independence astonishes me. As we watch him grow it becomes more obvious that the prophetic word we received about him being a “forerunner for Christ” is accurate. We cannot wait to watch him grow over the next year, and all of the years that follow.
You are truly a blessing. We have grown as individuals, as husband and wife, and as followers of Christ because of what we have learned from you. Your giggles break up the lonely silence I use to be familiar with. Your slobbery kisses melt my heart. The joy you have when Dada walks in the door fills my sometimes drained body/mind/soul. We love you, and we have enjoyed life with you so much, so far. You are strong. You are smart. You are funny. You are loved.
I loved living overseas.
I love living in Charleston, SC.
I loved meeting the people I met.
I loved learning new languages.
I loved soaking up the sun in both places, but oh how I missed these colors.
The Ginkgo tree across the street is boasting a golden hue in high definition, and it’s been so welcoming to me in the mornings.
The Red Leaf Maple in our yard is straight up on fire, and it sparks so much excitement in me to create, run, laugh, and breathe deeply. It makes me feel like a child (I can only imagine how Walt feels when he sees it).
The Bald Cypresses, and all of their orange warmth. They sweep me up every time I walk past them. They always seem as if they are asking for a hug, and I would gladly give them one if they would.
Last, but not least….the Birch. I feel still when I see them. I feel silent. I feel calm. I feel peaceful. They amaze me with their contrasting gold melting over white bark.
All of these and the other autumn faces I have passed, set the world on fire. They keep the cooling earth warm, if only for a short time. Autumn’s colors are a force to be reckoned with. I love her.
I have missed autumn, and all if her splendor. I have missed my friend. Thanks for waiting for me here, Autumn.
I feel blessed to be able to write two days in a row.
Thank God for days where Walt naps well.
I wanted to talk about my no makeup journey for a bit. My skin hasn’t been blemish free since I was 10. That means for more than half of my life I have looked in the mirror and seen at least one pimple on my skin. Now, at 28 I am also confronting fine lines, sun spots, and scarring from past acne breakouts. Most of the skin issues I have could have been prevented by applying more sunscreen when I was younger, but as someone who played hard, was active in sports, and just loved being outside, it was hard to remember to do it sometimes. This is not going to be a sunscreen lecture. I just wanted to say that my skin is not perfect, and that I have gotten to where I am today with “flawed” skin.
Last week I looked in the mirror for the first time and didn’t think critically of my skin. I brushed my teeth, splashed cold water on face, dabbed on some vitamin C lotion, and walked out of the bathroom. Only to realize an hour later that I had given zero thought about the smiles lines, the dark circles, the scars, and blotchy complexion that used to plague my mornings, and most of my days. I feel free. I feel lighter. I feel pretty.
Most importantly, I feel all of these things without the crutch of makeup. I’m sure I will still have days that I want to run for the hills of concealer, or grab the mascara lifeline, but for a week now I have seen great improvements on how I see myself. The real, unmasked, ME.
“So God created them in His own image, in the image of God He created them…”
I am the image of the invisible, and I am starting to cherish myself for who I was created to be. ❤ I pray that if you have ever struggled with your appearance, that God would work in your heart to help you see His beauty and majesty that is longing to shine through. You are royalty. YOU are beautiful.
Sometimes you enjoy life a little more when you embrace the mess, rather than constantly trying to control it or tidy it up. Daniel and I used to have a tidy house all the time. I mean occasionally we would be guilty of jumping ship on a pile of laundry and indulging in a Harry Potter movie. We know we aren’t perfect, but we find comfort in a clean house. We enjoy going to bed with a tidy living room downstairs, an empty kitchen sink, and a floor free of dog hair. That is, until Walt came along. I still clean. We aren’t opening our doors to parades of ants or sweeping Sage’s hair under carpets or anything. But, for the past couple of weeks I’ve walked up our creaky stairs only to look out on a small ocean of teething rings, wood blocks, puzzles, and other colorful nonsensical items. It innately drives me crazy. It makes me want to stay up for an extra hour (or three), so I can “feel better”.
All of this comes from a place of desiring control. HA! Like I have ever had control before. It’s a sobering lesson; learning you have very little control over anything other than yourself and your emotions. I don’t get to have a clean house 24/7 if I also want to enjoy my time with my son. I don’t get to clean every dish as it’s used anymore if I also don’t want to hear a screaming, teething, infant. I don’t get to have stainless baby clothes, spotless table cloths, or sauceless dogs if I want to enjoy watching my son enjoy spaghetti and meatballs for the first time. He grabs a messy pile of meatballs and noodles, and embraces the entirety of it. He smears the mess all over himself scoop after scoop after scoop. Plus, he does it with a smile.
Be still my heart, and realize that sometimes there is joy in the mess.
Postpartum working out has been challenging for so many reasons:
*Weak pelvic floor muscles
*Managing breastfeeding and working out (in the beginning)
*Limited options for child care (when Daniel is at work)
And so on…
Working out has been one of the main things to get me through the postpartum season.
*I am back to my pre-pregnancy weight (have been for 2 months now)
*My hormones are leveling out
*I feel energized after working out (even if I got very little sleep)
*It has helped me meet people
*It gives me something to look forward to
I love lacing up the Brooks, throwing on a hat and taking to the pavement or trail. Recently I have also been loving getting after it in the weight room. I know that a post-pregnancy body is nothing to be ashamed of, but the me I want to be proud of is the me that pushes herself and eats well. I can’t wait to get back to a place where I am confident in my strength and endurance, and I know that working hard is all a part of that journey.
*Run a 5k with Walt in the jogging stroller
*1/2 marathon by November
*Marathon in January
*Bench my body weight again
*Get my mile back under seven minutes
*100 pushups and 10 pull ups consecutively by December
So over the next couple of months it’s all about building.
The other day I was standing in line at Weis waiting to purchase my groceries. An older woman was oohing and awing at Walt, and making friendly conversation with me. As the line moved forward she began to talk to me more. At one point I mentioned how I had a pimple that was really sore, and stated that I couldn’t wait until my adult acne was finally gone. She then proceeded to say “aw honey, you can cover it up with some makeup and no one will even notice”.
“NO ONE WILL EVEN NOTICE”
“IT WILL MAKE MY EYES POP”
“I NEED TO PUT MY FACE ON BEFORE I GO OUT”
These are just a small fraction of the things people say to justify putting makeup on. Some women actually love their makeup. They spend lots of money on it. They watch videos to perfect it. Some go for the “natural” look. Some go for shock and aw. Some just use a little. Others will utilize the layering technique. Regardless of how much makeup they use or the way they use it, most women wear some kind of makeup.
I would like to say that the woman in line did not upset or anger me, but she did make me think about why I (and others) wear makeup. Why do I care if someone sees my pimple? Why do I care if my eyes “pop”? Most importantly why do I buy makeup when there are other things I could put that money towards? Not to mention the time I waste applying the makeup. On average, women in the U.S. spend about $43 per shopping trip, or $15,000 on beauty products in her lifetime (https://people.com/style/how-much-does-a-woman-spend-on-makeup/). Now, I am not a financial or investment advisor, but my husband is pretty educated in this area and would back me up on what I am about to suggest. Say we took $5000 of that $15,000 and put it into an account where on average the annual compounding interest rate is 8%, and we continued to put $200 into the account annually for the next 50 years. We could end up with over $350,000 at the end of those 50 years. This is obviously theoretical, but not too far off from what that money could be.
Another huge aspect of applying makeup is time. I complain about not having enough time to do things now that I have a baby, but a survey in 2014 found that 78% of women (in the survey) spent, on average 335 hours a year on apply makeup (https://www.womenshealthmag.com/beauty/a19954807/womens-beauty-routine/). That’s 14 days spent on makeup. That’s almost 3 weeks of vacation (not including weekends). I HAVE time, but I use some of it to put makeup on, so that I will feel better about myself. But why?
So…I realized that I want to get to a place where I feel inherently good about myself. I want to feel beautiful spiritually and mentally before I even consider my physical appearance. God made me beautiful. He made YOU beautiful. What I want to do is meditate on what God sees when He looks at me, and start to tell myself the things that He would say about me.
Some of the things the Bible says about “beauty”
“…The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)
“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” (1 Peter 3:3-4)
“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” (Proverbs 31:30)
I believe that my face was made fearfully and wonderfully (as the rest of me was), and I plan to try and see it that way when I look in the mirror. I think that starts with looking at it more in its natural state. So, moving forward from today, I plan to do my best to start each day by NOT applying makeup, and instead asking God to help me see myself the way He sees me.