Monday, July 6, 2020

IF YOU COULD TALK TO GOD | JOURNAL

The face of my home screen blares "6:40" into the soft grayness of early morning.

....     Why can't I sleep?

When Mommas have opportunities to sleep in, they take them, right?! Not today.

Anxiety medication can only do so much, and this morning, it isn't working.

The semi-darkness of our living room feels like such a sacred thing. No one crying. No one speaking. No noise or motion. This time is mine. This Bible is mine. This moment is just for me; to fill me. 

Though I walk through the valley of the shadow....I fear no evil. 

"Cast all your cares on Him....for He cares for you.

This level of stillness is something that I haven't felt for such a long time. There has always been a little somebody to follow me out, needing a snuggle, or breakfast or something at this time of day, and too often devotions sounded something like: "Lord...please give me strength for today..." ... and that was about it.

But this.

This reminds me why the winds obey Him, and the waves calm.

If I could have a sit-down conversation with Him this morning, this is what it might look like:

Him: "Ask what you will, child..."

Me: "Lord, are you sure? There's so much that needs fixing in me..."

Him: "Is anything too hard for the Lord to do?"

Me: "No, but I don't feel like I deserve to ask...I'm falling apart. Overcome by anxiety. Overcome by my own weakness."

Him: "Child, When I look at you, I see purity and wholeness, paid for by my own blood. Have no fear...."

Me: "My life, Lord, I need it back. It's broken beyond anything that I can change. I don't have the strength to put everything back together anymore. I don't even have the strength in me for today."

Him: "But I am your creator and sustainer. I promised not to give you more than you could handle. For today, that means that I am giving you the strength to make it through, victorious. This will work out for your good, no matter what it feels like because you are mine."

How many of us need to hear this, I wonder? We can. Every day. You and I both know that all those words come from the scripture; meant for even the weakest of Christians. He wants to talk with you this morning. What's breaking your heart? What's pulling you apart? What's that one thing that you need to see happen today? He wants to talk about it.

He may not give you a vision or an Angel with a scroll, but He promised that if you would ask, you would receive.

Go in after your peace today. Your strength. Your comfort.

He wants to bless you more than you want to be blessed.

You are loved.

Monday, June 29, 2020

BEING A "GOOD ENOUGH" MOM | IN MY WAITING


I've always been one of those freakish creatures who glory and revel in the "big picture" version of life. If life were a piece of art, mine would be full of big, broad strokes of brilliant color and flare. My husband, on the other hand, is one of those sane, thoughtful people who focus on the details of getting to where they're going. If life were a piece of art, his would be a detailed, neat pencil sketch.  We make a great team... but I'm very good at overwhelming him. * grin*

I've always been this way. Big ideas. Big dreams. Big (and specific) plans; and for as long as I can remember, I know God has been teaching me to enjoy the process of reaching my goals ... and, worse ... to enjoy the waiting.

I'm not good at waiting.

And I don't like the unexpected.

But this year, both of those things have been constant, aching, growing pains for me.

Waiting to be strong again.

Waiting to be healed, totally.

Waiting for peace.

Waiting for life to begin again.

But day after day...there is simple stillness...and the promise that God is working, even when I can't see it.

It's hard for my "big picture" self, to slow down this much.

Today I dare to ponder that all of us Moms can feel like this sometimes: Unless we are "going" and "doing" and working ourselves crazy on one project or another, we find ourselves feeling empty and purposeless.

I do.

Without diapers to change, sippy cups to re-fill, a thousand "hold me, mommy"s to satisfy, floors to vacuum, business checks to write... I'm so lost.

During this season of my life, I've caught myself cramming house projects into my days so that the  "quietness" won't sneak up on me in a form of uselessness. I've come to see that in my own mind that if I'm not working, I'm not being productive. If I'm not being productive, I'm not being enough. If I'm not enough, then I am worthless - and with this realization,  I had to stop myself, in the midst of my clawing and grasping for worth - to re-think the definition of myself, and the definition of Mommyness.

Motherhood is so many different things. It's being so busy homeschooling that your body craves a quiet moment. It's being so still with a newborn in your arms, that you wonder if you'll ever do anything else again. It's feeling so satisfied with your fresh, clean house and yummy, home-cooked meal, that you wonder how you deserve to be blessed with this beautiful life. It's being so exhausted, and overwhelmed that you wonder what in the world you're doing wrong.

Are any of these phases not a part of being a mom? I've only been doing this for four years, and already, I can relate with every single version in the above paragraph. Does any of these versions seem "Useless?" And even if they did, should we really let them define our worthiness or value?

Truth is: God has loved us with an everlasting love. He poured it out over us in the form of His blood - because we aren't worthy and we can't be enough.

That takes out all the fear and all the worry, right there.

Should we try hard? Yes. But in whatever stage we find ourselves in today, we can just lean back and know know that Jesus is enough. His grace sustains us through the hard times. His love fills us so that we can pour out to our children.

If we are fulfilling His call in our lives, and that call brings us to a place of quiet - let's rejoice in that! If He has called us to a busy season - we can rest in His strength for each new day. If He has called us to a season of waiting - we will pray, and trust that His plans are perfect.

There are so many voices that try to label and define us - but you and me, we don't need to add to that clamor.  Let's rest in the goodness of our Heavenly Father, who created us, called us, and sustains us as Moms.

We are enough, because He is, and He called us here. Lean on Him, and you can't go wrong.


Wednesday, June 24, 2020

DEAR MOMMA | WHO ARE YOU?

Everybody knows that mommys everywhere are susceptible to losing themselves in the lives of their children. Some argue it's good and "worthy", some bitterly gripe that their lives have been stolen.

As always, centerfield is a safe place to stand on opinion.

I remember when my first little girl was born. All the snuggles. All the bows. All the little ruffled jammies.

So sweet.

Oh, was it sweet!

But there was so little sleep. And there was so much bleary-eyed feeding. And so many diaper changes. And so very little time for myself that even a common shower felt like an act of reckless rebellion.

Had I lost myself? For a time, I suppose. But looking back I see that, really, I found myself in the care of my new baby girl: In the soft weight of her on my shoulder, and the tiny, sweet breath of hers on my neck, I found contentment. In her little snore, something in me was almost giddy with delight. Seeing her become more alert and independent brought a tinge of sadness that mixed with the joy of watching her grow.

We've all seen it in our Mother's eyes; the joy, the pride, the uncertainty, the happiness. Then we grow up and feel it all down to our very souls...and all those weird things that they said and did makes sense. The miracle of motherhood; passed down through generations.

Looking back on those precious "first" days of Haven's life, I remember feeling like I had lost my everything to become a 24 hour milk factory...but I also cried all the way to the grocery store and back the first time I left her with a sitter for an hour. (The sitter was her Grandmother. Who volunteered. No judging ya'll!)

Sometimes we find perspective in the void of loss, or change.

For me, lately, there's been a lot of both.

I know I've talked often about the heaviness of this current time in my life, and I don't want to stay over here on the ash heap and call a rain cloud over your day; but it's here, if we trade the ash heap for my living room couch,  that I really realized with my mind what my heart knew all along.

Purpose, is people. 

Our people. 

All people.

We Moms don't have to run after a career to become fulfilled and useful. I mean, let's face it: all of us know the story of some wealthy, lonely man or woman who spend the last days of their life alone in a nursing home.

We Moms don't have to be "the best" Mom to become fulfilled or useful. The floors will be smudged within ten minutes of mopping them; the stainless steel refrigerator will be printed by sticky fingers; the hair bow will be ripped out of the cute little hair-do on the way to church. Somebody will inevitably criticize you anyway.

We Moms don't have to meet a quota, or earn a raise, or be outrageously beautiful to be fulfilled or useful....because when we really stop for a minute and get quiet; get alone...we notice that the things that makes our hearts the happiest are the million big-little moments in the run of an ordinary day.

In stillness I've realized that for me, purpose comes from snuggling the four year old in my bed, even though it's a breach of Pritchard Household Policy. Fulfillment is the smile on my husband's face when I make him laugh at the dinner table. Happiness comes from making happiness for people. My people. All people.

Really, isn't that what God did for us? Gave up everything - all of heaven - to come down and wash the dirty feet of His disciples? He brought healing, and love to people at His own expense.

"Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for His friends."

How can we do any less?

So friend, do chase after purpose - but let's start by looking in the right place. There is opportunity all around you. What ordinary things fulfill your heart? Do yourself a favor and write them down. Never forget how much Jesus valued the ordinary, or how much He values you.

Monday, June 22, 2020

BEFORE & AFTER | FRENCH COUNTRY MASTER BEDROOM

Good Morning Everyone! The day has finally come, and I am finally able to show you our bedroom makeover. (!!!) 

While I'm not a professional on any scale, I can be pretty particular about how I want a space to feel and look...so there have been lots of trial runs, thinking sessions, returns, and a whole scrap pile of ideas that didn't work out. 

Let's start with a picture of our bedroom as we first saw it:


I know right.... 

Last night Ethan and I were looking through all the pictures of our house from our first look to now...and I'm so floored by how far it has come in the last few years. Sometimes in all our dreaming and goal-setting we forget how much we have already accomplished!


We decided to peel back the wood paneling and see what kind of walls were behind it. Thankfully, there was solid shiplap - which held loads of potential. 



I wanted to mention here that we are so blessed to have a very "handy" and "D.I.Y." family and church family that pitched in to help us paint our whole house while I was in the hospital having Haven. 

Ethan and I married in August of 2015, then bought our house in May of 2016, while anticipating the arrival of Miss Haven in August of that year as well. Obviously, we aren't the type who like to wait around and let life pass us by, so we jumped into our new lifewith both feet! 

 There were so many structural things that we wanted to change, that we spent the months before Haven was born focusing on taking out walls, peeling carpet off of the original wood floors, throwing away old stuff that the previous owners had left, taking down the old, dilapidated chimney...and then Haven decided that she wanted to be born five weeks early. ;) We were hoping to be in our house before she came, but she was in a hurry!  Thanks to the Lord, and our wonderful family and friends who pitched in, we were able to move out of our little apartment and into our house only a few weeks behind schedule. 

My heart melts with all those memories. 

*sigh*

But anyways 

Are you ready for the "after?" I sure was.



I'm still blown away by how much this space has changed!



I am a girly girl. 

Ethan is a total man. 

I decided that somewhere in our house I should probably pay homage to his masculinity, so this wall in our bedroom does exactly that. He actually has five deer heads, a giant salmon and a zillion turkey fans, but he was kind enough to tell me that I didn't have to use them anywhere in the house if I didn't like them. Lucky for him, I think deer heads can be dressed up to be tasteful and rustic. ;) 

Ethan helped me rip out all of the old shelving, then I painted, and painted and painted what was left, then added some fresh, new handles to the drawers. 

I was going to make some leafy, green arrangements for underneath the deer heads, but these battery operated candle boxes were a super good deal at the Homegoods store. I may add some details to them in the future, but for now, they're perfect. 


I wanted an organic, natural, somewhat whimsical look for this corner, beside the bed. 
Think fairyland. 

This basket was another Homegoods find. I spray painted the "tree" gold, added battery operated fairy lights, some dried moss, and voila!


I love the look of toile florals. I actually found this comforter online, and dressed it up a little with some big, white euro shams from Homegoods. (Me and that store have a pleasant relationship.) 


I actually based a lot of my decisions for this room on  these gorgeously ruffled, "antique blue" curtains. Ethan and my Mother In Law bought these for me after I put them on my Christmas list one year. They are such a dream. 

                   And here's my little family out mattress shopping after church last Sunday ;) 

We found one mattress that we absolutely adore, but it's seriously Five thousand dollars. 

Five. Thousand.

You've got to be kidding me. 

So the search for a softer mattress continues ;) 

What do you think of our Master Bedroom Makeover? Please, please let me know down in the comments - I would love to hear from you! 

Friday, June 19, 2020

THIS YEAR | LEARNING | JOURNAL






This year has taught me a lot of things about myself - more than I ever wanted to know, really. So many crazy things have happened that I never expected. 

Grief. Anger. Helpless waiting. Disappointment. Tears. Hurt. Loss. 

Wow, that’s a big one. Loss.
Loss of strength.
Loss of hope.
Loss of my baby.
Loss of my two little girls on all the days that I was almost too weak to take care of my own self.
Everything taken. 

“God, what are you doing?”


It all seemed to be for my destruction; my punishment. But really, in it all, as it has unfolded and continues to unfold...I find that I’m learning more and more about who I am and what I’m made of. 

The worst days of hurting and hoping have taught me to work with my hands - there’s not much that a paint brush or an old pair of garden shoes can’t help ;) The days of weakness and physical incapability pushed my mind to dream.

I still don’t feel okay, honestly. Nothing seems alright. My whole self is raw and broken behind the fake-smiling and forced laughter...but every once in a while...now and then... I’m starting to see a glimmer of purpose in it all; good things, slowly easing out of the shadows - much like the little plants in my new front garden. 

I don’t know why I’m sharing this. Maybe someone else is stuck in the valley, begging for one shaft of light to come searching down to them. If that’s you today, I just want you to hear a whisper of hope from someone who really understands.

Maybe nothing feels controlled or “okay” - but I promise you, there is so much love hiding up there behind the scenes. Those who suffer and can’t understand; yes, you and me: we will look back with teary eyes upon the goodness of God in the land of the living.

You are loved. You are useful. You are treasured.

And one more thing: Feelings do not define you. Grace does.


Never forget it.


Monday, May 18, 2020

French Country Home Tour | Mini



Good morning from my laptop and cup of tea to yours ;) 

I finally decided to do this because of a sick day. Several of them, actually. The house has been still and quiet for so long that I decided to dream up some new decor ideas as distraction. It worked! And I'm all excited to share some of my favorite spaces and soon-to-be projects with you today. 

Looking over these pictures, I'm amazed at how far our house has come, and how much has been accomplished since we first bought it. Let me know if you would be interested in full room tours, before and after pics, and project updates as I finish up! 

And, just a note: This tour won't be including fine, landscape-stye portraiture, which I hope won't be too disappointing, but I just wanted to give a sneak peak of our house until the rooms are finished.


The Master Bedroom is one of my favorite rooms in the house - or, at least, it will be when I finish sprucing it up! I've tossed around ideas for this room for a long time, and have slowly been giving it the "French Country" vibes that I so love. I'm starting by forcing myself to make a decision on the comforter and throw pillows for our bed. I think I have my options narrowed down to two similar styles. After the final mental wrestling match, I'll be waiting anxiously for the Fed Ex guy to show up, and for Homegoods to open it's doors to my pillow-seeking self. ;) 


Confession: This has nothing to do with my house. Well, aside from the obvious inclusion of all the things that make my house what it is. (Flowers, flowers, vanilla candle, floral scented hand soap and gentle colors... ;)) I so loved putting this Mothers' Day basket together for my Mother in Law that I couldn't help throwing in a picture.



If you've been following along for a while, you know that we've been renovating our bathroom for....ages. Now we're down to touching up paint and adding a few pieces of trim! Hopefully I can show you guys the full tour soon! This picture represents what I LOVE about our renovations - the clean, white tile. After scrubbing ((and scrubbing)) the icky blue linoleum that graced the floor when we bought the place, I couldn't wait to recreate this room into a simple, clean space.




Kindly ignore the dust. My housekeeper has been sick ;) 

This geometric floor was an idea that Pinterest introduced me to. While definitely NOT  French Country, I'm enough of a "free spirit" to break the rules and love it anyway. :D  
It adds interest. 
I like interest. 


 I was so excited to start my backyard flower garden with a few peony bushes from some friends when we first moved in. Our friends sent the bulbs with a note to let us know about planting depth, the proper amount of sun exposure, and a little encouragement for the nervous first-time gardener: "Peonies thrive on abandonment." Thank goodness, since that's all I've had to offer them since planting them a few years ago! They've been gracious friends and kept growing in spite of my occasional preoccupied checks for blooms. Someday soon I would like to do a little mulching and add some more flowers to create a little "cottage garden" type look!

After we finish up all the indoor house projects, we'll be turning our attention to the landscaping out front, and some exterior paint...but I'm not sure if that's going to be this summer, or next. 



...And here we have a blurry, candid shot of sick days with my little Luvs. ;)  We're all disheveled and sleepy, but "home" equals space to be yourself, right?  I included this pic to give you a glimpse of the tired white rug that I plan to be replacing soon, along with the exhausted house plant that finally thirsted to death in the background. (Whoops.) I have bigger plans for this room as well, but I'm still negotiating with myself on what needs to happen in which spaces. #creativehomeownerprobs

What do you think so far? Have you been checking any house projects off of your list while stuck in quarantine? Please let me know! I would so love to hear from you :)

Sunday, May 10, 2020

My Goal For Mothers' Day | My Goal For Life





                                              You made my life come to life, sweet girls.

Mothers Day always brings back wistful remembrance of breakfast in my parents' dining room. All of us kids would sheepishly present our homemade cards and gifts, hating the bashfulness that always surprised us at the presentation.

I can feel the warm coffee cup in my hand, see the smiles, hear Mom pretending to be impressed by all the construction paper and sparkly glue...

This comfort. This sameness. The memory of this safe place. That's what I strive to create for my little girls.

For me, "Mom" was the person that I could run to at six, twenty-six and forever. Subconsciously I always knew that there was no boundary or limit on how much she would sacrifice to show up for me.

"Mom" is the person that made our house a refuge of comfort and warmth. She trained us kids to always "be there" for each other...no matter our differences or faults. In the face of struggle, we all joined hands and prayed; somebody made a dessert, somebody gave a hug - there was so much caring within those four walls, that I always loved to be there. It was safety. It was peace.

"Mom" is a concept of constancy, and we learned it from seeing her sacrifices day in and day out. She earned our trust.

On days like today, I sit back in a quiet moment and wonder where all that time went. I find myself a little tearful, missing those freezing cold mornings around the dining room table, with the comfort of togetherness radiating warmth. I miss complaining about whose turn it was to do laundry that week. I miss laughing over everything while cleaning up the kitchen after supper.

There were bad days, yes. The fourteen-year-old ones where my homeschool math lesson took three hours to figure out, and the eight year old ones when sibling rivalry felt impossible and cruel; the nineteen year old ones when the print shop messed up all my wedding invitations and the florist called to say that she couldn't find any peonies...  - but guess who was there mopping up the mess and interceding in every case? You're right. Mom was.

During my pre-teenage years I remember coming to the horrible realization that Mom and Dad actually didn't and couldn't have the answer to every question that I would ever have. Things like "salvation" and "career choice" were things that I had to seek out from God on my own -- but that was another thing that they instilled in me; that God cares and that God will answer. By slowly (and even unconsciously) creating trust for them, they were also creating a trust for the God that they depended on.

I want to be that. I want to do that.

I daresay we all want to be that and do that.

Looking over what Mom accomplished in me, the goal looks glorious and holy, but for me, in present tense, it feels much less noble some days. Really, it just means solving the argument over "Who gets to hold the new strawberry chapstick first" while the other little girl gets her hair fixed. It means that we pray before bed every night and explain for the millionth time that the shadows on the wall will not hurt anybody. It means grabbing blankets and pillows and sitting down to watch veggie tales when they both just need mommy to hold them at the same time. It means wiping strawberry yogurt off of my laptop keyboard and not saying a word because I know it was an accident.

Being there for the skinned knees and the irrational fears...the tantrums...the hugs...the "I'm sorry"s...the laughing...the screaming...the embarrassing mommy moments... even just being the open arms at the end of the big, scary slide at the park; all that is building a subconscious "knowing" in the hearts of my children, and creating the refuge and relationship that I always want them to have with me -- and with God.

Let us ever forget that faith in God (and in relationships) is like a mustard seed. It starts small.