Sometimes You Just Need to Take a Walk

I grew up in rural America, complete with brick streets, a single stoplight, and a 30 mile drive to the nearest WalMart.  When I was a teenager, I would take walks to clear my head from all the stress of being 15.  My town was only a mile wide by a mile long, so from where I lived, it was only a few short blocks to the dirt roads of the countryside.

There, I could walk and think, often followed by a couple of stray black chows that had managed to elude the local dog catcher.  I would always come back refreshed and peaceful, better equipped to face whatever it was that was troubling me.

Clear your head, take it slow, pay attention - sometimes all you need is a walk | RaisingArrows.net

Once, while vacationing in the mountains, our oldest daughter was all out of sorts, so we sent her on a walk with a little point and shoot digital camera.  We watched her from the window of the cabin as she walked the mountain paths, here and there bending down to take photos of wildflowers, rocks, ground squirrels, and logs.  It was just her and God’s green earth.  When she came back, she was calm, and she’d found a new passion.

Sometimes all you need is a walk to get back to the place you need to be | RaisingArrows.net

When our family visits the Farmhouse, my boys love to walk the surrounding acreage.  They beg to be outside, breathing the fresh air, exploring nature, and kicking up the dust of the country roads.  There is nothing out there but wide, open spaces dotted by cattle, cottonwoods, and Amish buggies.  They never ask for toys when we are there.  They don’t need distractions or entertainment.  The out-of-doors has given them all they need.

Sometimes all you need is a walk to get back to the place you need to be | RaisingArrows.net

Yesterday, I felt bogged down.  A lot of things were weighing heavy on my mind.  Mommy things.  Information to be sifted, choices to be made, one thought leading to another to another…no end in sight.

So, I walked.

My 9 year old son asked to join me, and we walked the mile loop around our wooded neighborhood.  We talked of locust and sycamore trees, of his aspirations to be a painter and own a ranch, complete with a red pickup truck.

And I paid attention to life.

I paid attention to him.

I did what I should have been doing all along…just BEING Mommy.

Sometimes all you need is to take a step back to see where you really need to be | RaisingArrows.net

Sometimes all it takes to ratchet the stress level down a notch (or two…or six…) is to take a step outside.  When I was a teenager, I walked those country roads to be by myself.  When my daughter walked those mountain paths camera in hand, she was learning more about herself.  My boys on the farm are simply being themselves.  And yesterday, as I walked hand in hand with my son through our neighborhood streets, I was finding myself – not in some new-agey, feel-good sense of the word, but in the fact that as I walked, I let go of certain expectations and stressors.  I walked away from the things that don’t matter, and walked side-by-side with the things that do.

Sometimes all you need is a walk to see where you really need to be.

Sometimes all you need is a walk to help you see where you need to be. | RaisingArrows.net

Take a walk today and ask God to head you back in the right direction.  Let go of all the extra stuff, and be thankful for where you are right this very minute.

Healing the Rift Between Christian Women

I wish I could say I’ve never been unkind to another sister in Christ. I wish I could say I have always been above reproach, always acted in a selfless manner, always sought to restore rather than destroy.

I also wish I could say I’ve never been on the other side. Never hurt by things said to me, or things not said, but implied or said behind my back.  I wish I could say I’ve never been misunderstood, criticized, or left out.

There is a reason the Bible admonishes women not be given to slander (1 Tim 3:11) or run from house to house gossiping and telling more than they ought. (1 Tim 5:13)

Lately, the Lord has been speaking to my heart about these things…about what it means to be a Christian, and particularly a Christian woman. I’ve seen myself flail between having a critical spirit and being completely self-conscious and unsure of myself. And when I look around at my Christian sisters, I see others just like me.

I am a servant of God – I shouldn’t look down my nose at everyone else. I am a daughter of the King – I shouldn’t feel like a good-for-nothing nobody. I am a member of the Body of Christ – but, where is the UNITY?

Healing the Rift Among Christian Women | RaisingArrows.net

We women quietly fight over everything from birthing choices, to clothing choices, to worship choices, to Bible version choices…and the list goes on and on.  It is in our nature to stir up strife.  We are passionate, emotional people.  We relate to others via feelings, and we ache for commonality.

But, we weren’t called to commonality.

We were called to unity in Christ.  One head, one body, yet…

…the body does not consist of one member but of many.
1 Corinthians 12:14

It is imperative we stop focusing on our differences, and start focusing on Christ!

The women I know whom I feel personify the living, breathing Word of God have one thing in common – a gentle and quiet spirit (1 Peter 3:4).  They aren’t doormats or pushovers, but they don’t need to be.  They are genuine encouragers.  They love you right where you are.  And because of that sweet spirit welling up within them, you WANT to be near them, you WANT to ask them questions, you WANT to learn more from them.

So, how do we heal the rift between Christian women?  We heal the critical spirit in our own lives.

We criticize ourselves.  We criticize others.  And when we do that, we essentially stomp all over the sacrifice Jesus made for us.  We say, “Yes, Lord, I know you made me a new creature, but you missed a spot,” or, “Yes, Lord, I know you died for my sister, but she just doesn’t get it.”

None of us are going to be perfect this side of Heaven.  God isn’t interested in perfection.  He’s interested in teachable, usable, willing vessels.  A critical spirit isn’t any of those things.

The Lord has been dealing with me on this for years now.  He keeps peeling back more and more layers, bringing me to that gentleness and quietness I so desire.  Recently, He brought Angie Tolpin into my life via her ecourse Redeeming the Division – The Quiet Fight Among Women (affiliate link).  It spoke to my heart right where I am…desperately wanting to heal the rift and move forward in a spirit of unity.

Redeeming the Division - The Quiet Fight Between Women online ecourse

If you are interested in taking this course on your own or with a friend, click HERE.

If you would like to lead a group study of this course, click the graphic below…

Group Leader Kit of Redeeming the Division - The Quiet Fight Between Women

I have been prayerfully working through this course, asking the Lord to root out my critical spirit and lead me toward gentleness and quietness, encouragement and grace, love and mercy.  It doesn’t mean I am weak in my convictions or I am some how condoning the sins of others.  Rather, it means, I am focused on Christ, fully trusting of the work of the Holy Spirit in my life and the lives of others.

Lord Jesus, thank you…thank you for loving me and my sisters right where we are.  May we ever be guided by your Holy Spirit.  Amen and Amen.

Is Your Plate Too Full {or is it something else?}

There have been times in my life when everything feels chaotic and overwhelming, and the only answer I can think of is to run away.  (In the Fight or Flight Model, I’m a Flight – all the way.)  My sense of duty and propriety keep me from it, and I continue to muddle through, finding the other side of the mess eventually.

Because this has been “one of those years”, I’ve found myself often considering those feelings of being overwhelmed and mulling over how they came about.  One thing I have arrived upon is that you can’t always trust the thought that your plate is too full.

Is Your Plate Too Full? {or is it something else} | RaisingArrows.net

When things were at their worst earlier this year, I listed out everything I had to do (or felt I had to do).  The list wasn’t huge, and it certainly could fit into a 24 hour day.  Even with a new house and new baby, I knew what I was feeling could not possibly be due to what was on my plate.  Nothing that was on my plate was outside my domain.  Nothing that was on my plate was outside what the Lord had handed me.  I knew there was more to this, and I had to stop blaming the plate.

Do you feel like there is too much to do in a day, yet, you cannot figure out where to carve out any more time or how to get rid of any responsibilities?  Perhaps it isn't the stuff on the plate that is causing the problem... | RaisingArrows.net

Is it hormones?

I really hate it when people make excuses for what you are feeling with the word “hormones,” but I must admit, sometimes it truly IS hormones.  I don’t consider myself a hormonal person.  Most people describe me as even-keel.  However, I have noticed the times I feel the most overwhelmed are after having a baby and before my monthly cycle.  Hmmmm….

If the plate feels too full because of hormones, there are a couple of things you can do.

1.  Wait it out and take it easy while you do.  Sometimes all you need is a little time.  For instance, after having a baby, it is crazy to expect life to normalize the day you get home from the hospital.  What you should really do is bring your life down to the bare minimum, and give it time.  The key here is to be able to RECOGNIZE what is going on, and not freak out over what you are feeling.

2.  Fix what needs fixing.  If time is not fixing things, then you need to explore options.  I’m not going to tell you what you need to do, but I can tell you that you will know when you find the answer.  I do not believe God intends for us to do nothing if something hormonal can be helped.  He created us and expects us to care for His temple to the best of our ability.  You can read about what I did to help balance my hormones HERE.

Is it a lack of rest?

This is literal and figurative.  Literally speaking, we can become easily overwhelmed when we are not getting enough sleep at night or when we push too hard for too long.  You simply cannot handle all life throws at you when you are tired.  Get more sleep at night or take a nap if you can.  Force yourself to do this one thing, and you will find your outlook on life greatly improved.

And don’t forget to take a Sabbath rest.  Work hard, rest well.  God put this cycle in place for a reason.  Don’t ignore it.

Need help finding rest?  Read THIS POST.

Figuratively speaking, are you running through your day in a frenzy?  Are you breathing at all?  Do you spend most of the day in a frantic pace, afraid everything will fall apart if you stop moving?

“Be still and know that I am God…”
Psalm 46:10a

Psalm 46 closes with those words, but it opens with something even more telling…

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah
Psalm 46:1-3

If you are overwhelmed by your day, remember on whose strength you must rely.  Slow you pace, so your can see Him work.  Things may feel overwhelming, but God is still Lord of all.

Is there something on the horizon?

Sometimes those overwhelmed and anxious feelings come from upcoming events that are in your subconscious, but haven’t managed to make their way to the surface as yet.  Perhaps you have a difficult family member coming for a visit, or a difficult holiday is coming up.  Maybe you are nervous about an upcoming event or afraid you won’t be prepared.  You may not consciously KNOW why you are feeling overwhelmed, but your mind is an amazing place, and often sends out distress signals long before you are fully aware of what is causing the distress.

I have learned to be in the habit of thinking through what I am feeling (especially if it is a sudden onslaught of emotions), and considering what might be on the horizon that is making me feel as if I have too much on my plate.  This is simply a matter of learning to be aware of how your emotions are linked to your circumstances.  Learning to deal with both your circumstances and your emotions are a whole different can of worms!

Is it expectations?

Often, this one is inextricably linked to the previous question.  Is there someone in your life who has placed certain expectations on you, and you are dreadfully afraid you won’t live up to them?  Are they coming for a visit or have you been spending too much time with them?

Or perhaps, YOU are the one who has placed unattainable expectations on yourself.  (Read my post on how unrealistic homeschool moms can be.)  I want so badly for my home to be perfectly decorated and cleaned and orderly at all times, but that is completely unrealistic.  I know my home can be company ready in 15 minutes (or so), but still, I have a standard that tends to stress me out.  And when I am stressed, I tend to be a rather UNfun mom.  As our friend Dan says,

“I was having a bad day…until I lowered my expectations.”

Is it sensory issues?

While a lot of factors go into sensory issues in moms (read more about that HERE), when it pertains to “too much on your plate,” it is usually noise that is the thing that breaks the proverbial camel’s back.  It’s the toddler screaming, the boys laughing as they run in the house, the 6 year old saying Mommy over and over and over.  Your plate may not actually be too full, it may just be too loud.  Before you throw the plate out the window, step outside (or wherever it isn’t as noisy), and take a breath.

Is it priorities and stewardship?

Here’s where I hit a nerve…mine to be exact.  Sadly, more often than not I feel overwhelmed because I have not been a good steward of the things on my plate.  I have chosen to give priority to the wrong things.  My blog cannot be my priority.  The internet cannot be my priority.  Projects and hobbies cannot be my priority.  They can be a PART of my life, but they cannot trump my main responsibilities.

If it is stewardship and prioritizing that is your issue, it might help to actually write out IN ORDER your priorities and post it in your kitchen, near your computer, or wherever you need a little reminder.  Put the stuff on your plate in the proper order, and you will be surprised how much you actually get done in a day!

Is your plate too full or is it something else? | RaisingArrows.net

What if your plate really is too full?

Truthfully, there are times when you have bitten off more than you can chew.  The too-full plate is real, and if this is you, then need to address the truth.

Can you let go of something?

If yes, then just do it!  A few years ago for me it was a mass email delete.  I was on information overload and had put upon myself a need to read every email that came to my inbox.  I could not do it.  I needed to start over…even if I missed something.  *gasp*

More recently, it was saying “no” to a very worthy project.  It was blog related and would have been a great fit for the Raising Arrows audience, but I was maxed out.  And when I’m maxed out, all of my readers can feel it.  It’s not fair to me and it’s not fair to you.  So, I said no.

What if you can’t let go of something?

Sometimes you just don’t have the option to let something go.  Either you need to fully complete a commitment or the massive amount of things you have on your plate are something you must deal with for a season.  For instance, you need to ramp up a home business while your husband goes back to college or you need to take in your sister’s children while she walks through a messy divorce.  When this is the case, the answer is to do things that help you handle the stuff on the plate with as much grace and joy as possible.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
James 1:2-4

1.  Pray your way through it – Let a prayer always be on your breath.  Put on the praise music.  Keep your Bible at the ready.  And cry out to the Lord!  And don’t forget to thank Him when He answers!  Be grateful for the trials, the tears, the big and small answers, the mercy, and the love beyond comprehension.

2.  Take short breaks – You may not be able to fit in a lengthy rest, but do what you can to catch short breaks here and there.  (Read my post on creating a place to relax.)

3.  Exercise – When you are in a flight or fight situation, your adrenaline kicks into high gear.  You NEED a release for that pent-up adrenaline or you WILL go into adrenal fatigue.  Exercising will help you avoid this.  And when I say exercising, I do not mean a 2 mile run or an hour on the elliptical.  I mean exerting more energy for a longer period of time than your normal every day activity.  It might be playing tag in the backyard with the kids or doing several sets of lunges in your living room.  Don’t get hung up on the word.  It’s not as bad as you think it is.

4.  Eat right – Yeah, I know – you are busy and food is about the last thing on your mind.  Well, I hate to say it, but when your plate is over-full, you will need to do your very best to not give in to the ease of eating junk.  No, you don’t have to soak your grains and buy only organic, but you will need to reduce the sugar and eat as much REAL FOOD as you can.  Don’t make it hard, but do make it nourishing.

5.  Drink plenty of water – When your plate is full, you tend to run on caffeine and sugar.  Don’t.  Get a bag of ice, a sack of lemons, a pretty cup – whatever it takes to make the water appealing.

6.  Guard your time – Try not to add anything to your plate.  When the pastor’s wife calls and asks you to do the music for VBS, say, “I’m sorry – I can’t this year.”  Remember, this is a season.  You can add things to your plate (as the Lord leads) later.

Also, try not to tackle the major things on your plate that require your concentration in a time slot that will only frustrate you.  Making business phone calls while your toddler is in 4 o’clock crazy mode is NOT a good idea.  Put a time management plan in place that makes sense and won’t make you feel like you are living one big emergency.

7.  Surrender  – Give the entire plate over to God.  You should be doing this no matter how full the plate is, but when the plate is overflowing, there won’t be any possibility of doing this in your own strength.  Let go of the notion that YOU are going to have to do this, and let God take over.  His strength will become yours if you remember to let Him handle the plate.

So, is your plate really too full?  Or is it something else?

One of My Favorite Things About Being a Mother {especially a mother of many}

Some of us sort of “fell into” this mommy thing. Others took a purposeful leap. None of us knew what we were getting ourselves in to!

There are so many blessings to being a mommy, but today, I want to share with you one thing I absolutely LOVE about being a mommy – especially considering I have a lot of children!
Being a Mommy (especially a mommy of many) holds so many treasures - here is one of my favorites | RaisingArrows.netAspen is 4 months old now.  Her little personality is beginning to emerge more and more every day.  I find myself wondering WHO she will be.  And THAT is my favorite thing about being a mother…discovering who each of these little people are!

Even before I give birth, I wonder what and who the baby will look like.  What color of hair will he or she have, will they have my dad’s chin dimple? How much hair will they have? Will they have Ty’s longer-than-normal second toe or my sharp nose?

Once they are here, I gaze into their little eyes and sometimes even ask out loud – “Who are you, little one?”

And as who they are becomes more and more apparent, I marvel at God’s handiwork!

Each one, SO different from the next.  Beautiful snowflakes, individually revealing the image and nature of an amazing Creator, coming together to be OUR family.  Because there are no two alike, our family is unique, strong, organic, and fluid.  Every year, brings a new discovery, as each of our children mature into who God made them to be.

We currently have…

a researcher

a photographer

a designer

an actor

a precious link to Heaven

an encourager

a joy

a giggle box

and a beautiful reminder of God’s mercy and love

I am smitten by these little ones the Lord has so graciously loaned to our family.  Every day, I watch them, I study them, I learn more about who they are, who God created them to be, who I am as their mama, and where all these threads fit into a royal tapestry I could never dream up on my own.

Oh, what a blessing to be a mother, with each child changing me, changing our home, and changing the world by expressing the image of a God whose creativity is limitless!

I pray you not only had a wonderful Mother’s Day, but that EVERY day is Mother’s Day, as you discover more about each precious soul who calls you Mommy.

A Great Diastasis Recti Splint & Time to Get to Work!

Before I had Baby #9, my OB told me she would be splinting my abdominals right after birth.  I started researching what kind of splint would be best for me to purchase to have on hand for when I came home and got back to work on my abdominal separation.  After a lot of researching, I found one that I am absolutely THRILLED with and wanted to share with all of you!

I finally found a diastasis recti splint that is easy to use, comfortable, fits great, and works wonderfully - all for a reasonable price! | RaisingArrows.netMany of you know about my Diastasis Recti page here on Raising Arrows.  It’s been a long and arduous journey with only nominal results – mostly because of my lack of commitment.  I have a lot of kids, and it has been difficult to find the time to work on those abs in the proper way.  I know…it’s an excuse.  (I am trying very hard to release all my excuses, but some I still find myself holding onto.)

Because my doctor was so proactive about helping me with my separation, I felt encouraged to get back to work with a renewed energy and focus.  But, I needed a splint that would be ready for me when I was ready for it.

(affiliate links included)

After a lot of research and a great sale, I ended up purchasing the 3 Panel Splint from The Tummy Team a couple of weeks before I gave birth.

Front view of 3 Panel Splint from The Tummy Team | RaisingArrows.net

The reason I chose this particular splint is because I am short-waisted (as in EXTREMELY short-waisted), and what I read about it on The Tummy Team site made a lot of sense.  Plus, they said it was COMFORTABLE!  I am all about being comfortable!

I did not take the splint to the hospital when I had baby because I knew my doctor would be splinting me there, but you definitely could take this splint with you if you are unsure what your hospital does in regards to splinting.  Splinting the hospital helped SO MUCH with my pain.  I felt “together.”  The splint I was given in the hospital was a DONJOY and retailed for $140.  It was nearly identical in shape to the 3 Panel Splint I had purchased – but not nearly as strong!

I get asked all the time which DR splints are my favorites.  The 3 Panel Splint has BY FAR become my absolute favorite!

What I like about it:

  • It truly is comfortable.
  • It stays put.
  • It isn’t hot.
  • The velcro is strong, and I feel very supported.
  • It fits my body well.
  • It doesn’t show under my clothing.
  • It is reasonably priced.

 

CLICK HERE TO START SHOPPING!

My current plan of attack for working on my diastasis is to use the Tupler Technique.  I have this little guide book that I use to keep me on track, and I am part of a small accountability group of friends.  However, if you don’t know where to start, or need a little more help, encouragement, or one-on-one time, The Tummy Team offers classes you can take online with personalized help.  Click HERE to learn more!

Please, do your own research as to which splint is right for YOU, but I can almost guarantee The Tummy Team has it!

And here are a couple of photos of me at 4 months postpartum wearing the splint under my clothing.  I like to wear the splint over a nursing cami (these are a staple in my wardrobe!  You can CLICK HERE To see the wide selection available on Amazon.  The one I am wearing in the upper photos is an Undercover Mama that hooks into your nursing bra.)

My favorite diastasis recti splint from The Tummy Team hardly shows through in my clothing, and it is oh so comfortable! | RaisingArrows.net

My favorite diastasis recti splint from The Tummy Team hardly shows through in my clothing, and it is oh so comfortable! | RaisingArrows.net

I also want to show you something encouraging…

The first photo below is me on Day 1 of starting my DR workout back in 2011.  The second photo is me a few weeks ago.  Both are without a splint.

My DR back in 2011 | RaisingArrows.net

My DR pooch 2015 | RaisingArrows.net

MUCH better
(and MUCH BETTER posture too!)

THIS IS ENCOURAGING!!!

I’m also hoping to start writing more Fit Mom of Many posts, so be looking for my diastasis updates, as well as my fitness and weight loss updates!  You might even catch me on Instagram or Facebook or Twitter walking, exercising, or (*gasp*) running! #fitmama #fitmomofmany

You can check out my Fit Mom of Many page by clicking the graphic below:

Fit Mom of Many - if I can do it, you can too! | RaisingArrows.net

I am so excited at the prospects of what I hope to accomplish this go-round!  I hope you will join me!

VISIT THE TUMMY TEAM SHOP TODAY!

This is Supposed to Be Hard Work

You’ve seen them…the advertisements touting how this diet will make the pounds melt off of you, or this product will make your housework feel like a walk in the park, or this method will be the answer to all your problems.  The prospect of this sort of thing is exciting, tempting, and…destructive.

SELF-destructive, to be exact.

You see, we all want easy street.  We all want the most efficient, fastest, easiest way from Point A to Point B.  If our map app can do it, surely we can do it in our every day lives.  But, when there is a detour, a roadblock, or even a stop sign in the middle of it all, we get irritated.  We get discontent.  We get depressed.

And we are pretty certain WE are the ones who failed because after all…

It was supposed to be EASY!

What would happen if we embraced the fact that some things are hard? | RaisingArrows.net

I homeschool.  I have a large family.  I have a 2 year old.  I have a newborn.  I have a lot of laundry.  I have 20 extra pounds.  I…

Good grief!  The list could go on and on and on. “I” this and “I” that.  Can’t “I” get a break?

But, what if “I” embraced the fact that this stuff is hard?

Homeschooling?  It’s hard.

Raising a lot of kids?  Yep, it’s hard too.

My 2 year old?  Oh my yes!  Hard!

My newborn?  Naw, she’s an easy keeper.

Aspen 4 months

The laundry?  Hard.

Losing the extra 20 pounds?  HARD!

When you accept that some things are hard, some things you have to WORK at, some things aren’t going to be easy, your outlook on life completely changes.  You don’t see the roadblocks and stop signs, twists and turns in the road, detours and potholes as obstacles designed to undermine your perfect life.  You don’t see homeschooling as the problem, the toddler as the problem, or even the 20 pounds as the problem.  You see things for what they are…WORK.  And yes, sometimes HARD WORK.

When homeschooling my large family becomes difficult – and it does – that doesn’t mean I’m doing something wrong or I should throw in the towel.  It may mean I need to slow down, try something new, or simply PERSEVERE.

When raising my large family feels overwhelming, especially cooking for them and putting out all the fires my 2 year old creates, that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have had all these kids.  It may mean I’m in a difficult season, and prayer is the only thing that is going to get me through.

When the laundry is piled to the ceiling or piled on the couch, it doesn’t mean I have too many clothes (Mom 😉 ).  It may mean I need to revamp my laundry system, put away the seasonal clothes, or keep a better eye on the kids and how often they are changing clothes (ahem…you know who you are…).  And when that’s all done, just make peace with the fact that there are 10 of us wearing clothes, using towels, and sleeping on sheets every single day.  The laundry will NEVER be caught up.

And that 20 pounds?  It isn’t going to melt off of me.  I will have to WORK at it.  I will have to have self control.  I will have to say no to dessert and yes to exercise.  I will have to accept that there is no gimmick or pill or super awesome diet that will rid me of my gluttony.  That’s between me and the Lord.

Folks, this life is supposed to be hard work.  Always looking for easy street will only lead to dead ends.  You will never be joyful or content.  You will miss the beauty of the journey, the lessons to be learned, the freedom of surrender.  Work hard, my friends.  Stay strong.  Be diligent.

“…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”
Philippians 2:12b-13

Read the entire chapter…so, so good!  I’m praying for all of you this week!