Eleven-Years of Maternity Leave…and a Giveaway Item

A little early Mother’s Day celebration post…

My husband isn’t really too far off from the truth when he tells people I’ve been on an eleven-year maternity leave.

In 2008, when I was pregnant with my youngest daughter I was working at a small bank and training to be a loan officer. It was a sweet opportunity and I was looking forward to coming back after maternity leave and beginning this new career venture.

But then that tiny little bundle of joy came and five weeks later I carried my new baby girl into the bank to proudly show her off to my fellow bankers, while my bubbly toddler pranced about merrily at my side. I was one week away from maternity leave being up and when they asked if I was ready to come back, I gave them the game changer—I had decided I’d rather handle dirty diapers full-time over dirty money.

Fast forward several years…

Being a stay-at-home mom isn’t easy…I’m home, but the dishes still pile, laundry overflows, and sometimes I serve cereal for supper—and I’m probably (for the thirteenth year in a row) not gonna win the ‘Mother-of-the-Year award’!!…And honestly I’m not even sure that award actually exist anyway! Who’s ever known any mom to ever physically receive one?!!

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My kids are now thirteen, eleven, and nine (the two youngest are homeschooled). We’ve definitely had our challenges as I’ve watched them over the years provoke one another, cry simultaneously, and then make-up as the best of friends…an overplayed process repeated almost daily…but thankfully the crying is beginning to fade away!8A6287CB-4AA3-43AC-A4D9-4D68417B2AB8

In more recent years I’ve added some ‘out-of-the-house’ work to my life. Once a week I do hair at a nursing home and when it works with our schedule I pick up substitute teaching jobs…I’m currently filling a long-term sub job for a mama who’s on maternity leave.

With this, I’ve realized that moms who work outside of the home AND manage life at home with a spouse and any number of kids are Super Moms! Seriously! It’s tough enough keeping up on necessary housework and caring for a family, but then add-in the responsibilities of fulfilling a work schedule on top of that— and goodness it makes for a crazy week!! I have such a new, deep respect for any mom who does this!!

When I consider women in general though—those with a spouse, those without…women with children and women without—I see how important it is that we remain encouraged and motivated so that we may endure this wildly busy life humbly yet gracefully. A great encouragement for what a noble woman resembles is described throughout Proverbs 31. Verses 11 and 12 note that ‘Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.

Verses 25 and 26 move on to describe her as: ‘clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.’

Further on in verses 30 and 31 we read: ‘Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.’

These verses aren’t at all noting a woman’s outside appearance, rather they point straight to the beautiful heart or character of a wise and strong woman. Without these charming inner character qualities she wouldn’t be viewed as a woman, wife, or mom of notable inspiration. To top it off, her many achievements have been accomplished due to her reverence of the Lord. There’s so much to be learned from the portrayal of the Proverbs 31 woman—from daughters to mothers, to wives to widows (even sons, husbands, and fathers)—we can all use Proverbs 31 to encourage those special ladies in our lives. It causes me to see how much I want to live up to the Proverbs 31 woman!

With Mother’s Day around the corner I’m filling my Etsy shop Simply Rustic Looks with fun jewelry (necklaces, bracelets, genuine leather earrings) for women of all ages. My featured item this month will be the MAMA❤️ necklace, regularly priced at $16, but specially discounted to $12 through the month of May. This necklace has been personally metal hand-stamped by me (one letter at a time) giving it a one-of-a-kind unique style and is made of an aluminum bar hanging from a stainless steel cable to make it nickel and lead-free (hypoallergenic).

**Shipping on jewelry is always free in the U.S. and 10% of sales support InFaith ministry.

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**The link provided below will take you directly to the Etsy listing:

Click here: MAMA ❤️ NECKLACE

As an added bonus I will be doing a giveaway item for anyone who comments on this blog post—sharing some wonderful mom-tips, advice, or encouragement—perhaps even a favorite Bible verse filled with some mom-cheer! On Sunday, May 5th, I will draw from those who commented and notify the winner by commenting to their blog (or to my email readers you may personally email or text accordingly and the same rules will apply). Giveaway item will be an aluminum stamped bracelet on genuine leather rope (below), yours to personalize how you choose! I will mail it out (first-class) to the winner on Monday, May 6th.610E6115-4742-4631-917B-805F131847CB

(I am redeemed’ shown as an example).

Blessings!! And Happy ‘early’ Mother’s Day Mamas! 

A Post-Easter Post

Each year, on Good Friday, our church holds an evening service in honor of Christ’ great sacrifice. There’s typically music, some scripture reading, and then the pastor does a little talking.

This year though, my husband and I were asked if we’d speak during the service and share what Good Friday and Easter mean to us, along with a few other questions, and sort of give our testimony through it. Although we were humbled to have been asked to share, the thought of standing on stage combined with public speaking slightly intimidated us.

We agreed to do it nevertheless, and had practiced our answers ahead of time, and were feeling pretty good about it…but when the day of the service came I began to panic. I wasn’t comfortable with the thought of public speaking and the tears began to spill just hours before we were to speak. I wanted to wimp out!!

I couldn’t remember my words suddenly, I couldn’t decide what I’d do with my hands, and the idea of where I’d look completely overwhelmed me. Continue reading “A Post-Easter Post”

Even If (part 2)

Part two of Even If…

After learning my daughter’s recent celiac test results came back positive, I’ve thought about how Satan could have a heyday with this, because before I knew that, I’d celebrated with a blog post (last week) on how McKenzie was better, her blood work was great the second time, and we were out of the woods praising God for healing…but then in the days since, the outcome has changed, so do we still have reason to celebrate and praise Him?

Absolutely!!

Do I still believe God can totally heal McKenzie, or that the positive test results may have shown up as a fluke deal, and that when we go to our next appointment to see the GI doctor later this month they’ll tell us she’s completely fine and to go back home?

Absolutely!!

BUT even if it’s not in God’s plan, even if our circumstances don’t change, even if McKenzie is fully diagnosed with “silly yak” disease we’re going to praise God regardless, and our faith is going to remain solid—because God is still God, He’s in control, and His ways and plans our better than ours. (Isaiah 55:8-9)

‘Even if.’

It’s the words of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in Daniel chapter three as King Nebuchadnezzar threatened their lives with a roaring fire if they didn’t bow down and worship his gold statue.

Remaining true to the Lord, the three men refused to serve any such false god, and when Nebuchadnezzar taunted them, they proclaimed their faith even bolder: “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and He will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if He does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

The men held onto an “even if” kind of faith, while their lives lied at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar’s hot orders.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were securely tied up and banished to the scorching furnace, while maintaining their loyalty to God.

But in amazement, the king noticed not just three men walking around in the fire, but four men, unharmed and unbound, and he declared the fourth man looked like ‘a son of the gods.’

King Nebuchadnezzar called the men out and he saw that their bodies hadn’t been touched by the fire and their clothing was completely intact, and he praised the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and acknowledged the power of God.

I have to tell you, last month when McKenzie started really looking ill, I had this mama-instinct we weren’t dealing with the flu. She needed to see a doctor, and as we sat waiting in the clinic at the start of all this—before any blood had been drawn, before any tests had been ran—my girl asked me to read her the Bible story of Queen Ester. So as we waited for the doctor to come in, we read about Ester’s bravery, and courage, and her very own “even if” faith, not knowing how much it would mean to us in the weeks to come.

When those first blood test results came back abnormal, concerns were present, and someone threw out an ugly six letter word that starts with ‘c’ and isn’t celiac and that’s why I was a hot mess.

I was struggling to carry an “even if” faith. But because I know I’m weak without God, I clung to Him through prayer and encouragement in His word, nevertheless…and strength came.

What good would faith be if all our prayers were answered immediately, on the spot?

God provides safety and an opportunity for our faith to build when the emotional fire rages around us, and He’ll carry us out if we obediently allow Him to, but it may not always look the way we planned. Even if our faith is smoldering in a bed of hot ashes, God is able to ignite that very glow and turn it into purpose, for His glory.

Knowing God makes it easy to love Him; loving God makes it easy to trust Him.  -a.m. witt

My daughter’s future may include celiac disease, but even if it does—our faith will remain strong and our hope will stand firm because of Jesus’ faithfulness to us along the way!

Romans 8:28—And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

When Our Head and Heart Just Don’t Feel It

This isn’t the post I intended on writing this week, but when I see God working it prompts me to write and share!

My younger daughter, McKenzie, had been sick the past few weeks off and on…headaches, fevers, tummy aches…

The first time it happened I chalked it up to nothing other than the flu and when it showed up a few weeks later I thought ‘ok here we go again.’ After a few days though, when no other family members were getting sick, I began to worry. I loaded my girl up Friday morning and took her into the clinic and asked to have blood work done.

Poor girl, but a mama just knows.248B519C-E29A-4D80-AA81-DAD2BE5532DE

The blood tests came back with abnormal results and the physician grew concerned and referred us to a pediatrician a few hours away…the biggest concerns were weight loss and iron-deficiency anemia. They needed to know what was causing this. Our appointment with the pediatrician was set up for Monday afternoon.

Goodness, I don’t do well with waiting and wondering but I’m fantastic at worrying!! It was an incredibly looooong weekend and the anticipation of that appointment was killing me. Honestly I bet I gained a hundred new gray hairs over worrying and would probably be a perfect candidate to join the “Golden Girls” if they were still casting members, not only because of the gray hair but my dramatic flair too!!

While my girl was experiencing flu-like symptoms I was sick with my own: panic attacks, trouble breathing, pacing…I was a big, hot mess! I think that’s what my husband was getting at when he finally said, ‘Alicia, I don’t understand you; you’re such a strong person, but the minute trouble comes you let Satan right in and you don’t trust God!’ 

Ouch!

He didn’t say it with any sympathy either, it was just short, not sweet, to the point, and just what I needed to hear! But it didn’t change my frame of mind at the time either. Continue reading “When Our Head and Heart Just Don’t Feel It”

Be Strong and Courageous

My husband and I are adding to our family…

again…

in August! 

And I’m having mixed feelings.

Just to clear the record, I should mention, this won’t be our very own child…instead we’ve accepted the offer of hosting a foreign exchange student next school year. When this was first planned I was fairly excited, but then I quickly determined I’d rather bury my face until June of 2020…

March has been a rough month for our family and maybe that’s the reason for my recent, negative approach about this whole thing.

It was a long and cold Winter, and Spring hasn’t really sprung in the midwest (even though the technical date is here)…so we wait in anticipation of warmer temperatures and lively shades of green to make their grand entry into our part of the world.

With that, I’ve had stir-crazy kids with wild attitudes, who are seriously overdue for some outdoor play time.

The end of the month brought sad news as we lost my husband’s grandpa. He was such a sweet man—thirteen children he and Grandma Beverly have so you can imagine their numerous grandchildren as well. He always knew each of the grandkids by name and wanted to take them home as his own whenever he saw them at family gatherings. Grandpa Witt will definitely be missed by all of us.

During his last days he was really suffering, but we all knew he was Heaven-bound whenever God would call him home—now he’s pain free and with Jesus, which makes it so much easier to grieve.

So why am I bent out of shape about this new (and hopefully sweet) young gal coming to live with us for a whole school year??? Well it has nothing to do with her and everything to do with me, and my family, and our sass-tudes!!!

Selfish sounding, I know, but…

Here I am, not even four weeks past my “lemur-post”, which included that little lesson on self-control and ‘gently’ handling one another’s differences..and umm, I’ve already failed in following that lesson more times than I can count since hitting publish on that particular post!😔

As my kids’ attitudes have flared this past month, with arguing and competing against one another, so has Mama’s. I’m exhausted. I’d like to say I can just Martha Stewart everything and deal calmly and rationally with their disagreements but I’ve carried an unruly tone in my voice when lecturing them.

I get disappointed by their behavior, then more disappointed by my response in dealing with it, and honestly I’m afraid we’re going to frighten this poor Russian girl off…I have it all mapped out in my mind—she’ll spend a few weeks here, determine we’re nuts, we’ll fail to show her an amazing Jesus, she’ll secretly pack her bags and then drag them across a few corn fields to the nearby rural airport and take the first little puddle jumper over to DIA, heading back to Russia in a mess of tears and an extra baggage fee of regret!!

So there you have it, I’m worried that we’re gonna scare her off before she even gets a chance to know us. Continue reading “Be Strong and Courageous”

Lessons From Slap-Happy Lemurs

While sitting around the dining room table the other night, my kids reminded me of a funny memory… ‘Mom, remember those crazy lemurs we saw at the zoo in Kansas?’

‘Oh great grief, yes!!’ I replied with a smile and immediately my thoughts trailed to a blur of reminiscing… Continue reading “Lessons From Slap-Happy Lemurs”

A Quick Fix or a Worth the Wait Blessing?

I’m assuming my kids are no different and share a common enthusiasm with other like-minded boys and girls—the electronic obsession!!??

These kids of mine would eat, drink, and sleep electronics if my husband and I allowed it, but thankfully for the sake of healthy living we’ve put a cap on their amount of exposure.

As a family we circled up in the living room about a year ago to hash out a plan or schedule for electronic time. That might sound over the top, but seriously it was necessary and has actually been pretty beneficial.

Here’s what we came up with: Continue reading “A Quick Fix or a Worth the Wait Blessing?”