Encouragement, Family, My Story

Are you exhausted?


11 weeks and 3 days ago we welcomed our 4th child into this world.  There are so many joys in new babies!  I love so much about the experience.  The visitors, the meals, the squishy baby in my arms all of the time, that new baby smell that is just intoxicating, all of the tiny little clothes.  I mean really, whats not to love about a new baby?

Oh, you are thinking lack of sleep maybe?  Or maybe the crying and excessive pooping they do?  Well, there is that.

I will tell you that having baby number 4 has people asking me “are you just exhausted” almost daily.  (I also get, “bless your heart” “wow you have your hands full” “oh man, I do not know how you do that” and a handful of other comments that I will just have to address in another post) When people ask me that I tend to have a generic response that is something like this “not really.  I feel pretty good actually”

But yesterday we had some friends over.  We were standing in the kitchen and she asked “So are you just exhausted?”.  I gave my normal response, except my husband was standing behind me and he started laughing.  I turned around and looked at him and he said “did you really just say that?”  It really got me thinking about it.  It made me think about why I really don’t feel the need to feel exhausted.  And also to think about why my husband was seeing things so different.

I have decided its called mom strength.  Am I exhausted?  Probably.  Being a mom is hard work, tiring, 24/7, non stop.  There is a never ending list of tasks to be done and they must be done while juggling kids and life.  Being a mom is probably one of the hardest jobs on the planet.  I think every mom is exhausted.  Am I right?  It just comes with the job.

So why does my husband laugh when I say I am not exhausted?  First of all, my husband sees me daily.  He knows what I do, he sees me at the end of a long hard day filled with non napping children, a day that hasn’t gone at all as planned, and an 11 year old who knows better.  He knows I get up to feed the baby throughout the night and even when I am asleep I am not resting because my body is on mom alert.  He  hears me say “I just don’t know if I can do it again tomorrow” in a moment of weakness.  He knows I am exhausted.

If I am exhausted, why do I not explain that when people ask?  I don’t think I notice how exhausted I am most of the time.  I think I just get up and go and do whatever is in front of me.  If you asked me if I was exhausted in the middle of a really tough day, I would probably be really honest, but for the most part, every day life and the exhaustion that comes with it just feels pretty normal.  When I stop and look at things honestly, I think my strength and perspective  comes from God and leaning on Him.

“Those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31

This verse does not mean that I will never be tired or even exhausted (because I am both).  I just know that trusting in the Lord for my strength has been so fruitful for me.  I have been able to muster through some rough days by simply relying on the Lord for strength.  God always provides what we need in the moment when we rely on Him.  I have learned that He might not always answer my prayers the way I envision them being answered, but he always answers.  God called mothers into the mission field of being a mom and He is faithful to walk with us until our mission is complete! God is bigger then anything we face daily. He is bigger then physical and mental exhaustion.  “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” Matthew 11:28

Moms- It is ok to be exhausted.  It is ok to realize how hard your job is and how much weight you carry by doing it.  But be encouraged that God called you into Motherhood and He is there with you every step of the way.  Ask Him for whatever you need.  Remember that you are not alone either, look around you, moms everywhere are exhausted too, just like you.  Hug another mommy and remind her how precious she is to her children and to God.  Take time to laugh with a fellow mom and see how much exhaustion fades away when you choose to smile and find joy.  Encourage someone else today because you can.  Love with all your heart and soul.  Remember you have the power to change the world, one little tiny person at at time.  Being a mom is a BIG job, an important job, an exhausting job.  But God chose YOU to do it because He knows you can!

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Cleft Lip, Encouragement, Family

Lessons from Harvey


When I was 22 weeks pregnant and told that our baby would have a cleft lip, I was devastated.  Emotions and thoughts flooded my mind in the days that would follow.  I vowed not to google anything that day and stood by that for a few weeks.  To be honest, at first all I could think about is how different he would look.  My other 3 babies all looked so very similar at birth and we would get told over and over “oh that is a Meinardus baby”.  I feared that he would be different. Would I fall instantly in love with him?  Would people stare at us at Walmart?  Would I need to constantly defend my child?  Will his siblings care that he looks different?  Those were really my first thoughts.  Vein, insecure, selfish thoughts.

A few weeks after our initial diagnosis, we met with my OB and he suggested we research a surgical team.  So that is when I started googling.  I soon found ACH had a cleft team and made a few phone calls.  After a phone consult, my emotions suddenly shifted.  I was overwhelmed by the information given.  Suddenly, my thoughts were flooded with concerns. Now I am reading blogs and forums of parents whose children are on their 7th, 8th, 9th surgeries and still have more to go.  These children have to undergo so much pain.  My heart started to break.  I couldn’t even imagine my child having to have one surgery, let alone 10.  I had already been praying but now I was praying even harder.  I knew I needed to rely on my faith now more then ever.

Slowly, my fears eased and I started to feel at peace with everything.  We went to Children’s for a prenatal consult where we were given even more information.  We left overwhelmed again but were glad we had all the information.  We knew he would be having surgery at around 3 months of age and that was about the only thing we knew for sure until he was born.

That day at Children’s they told us that after surgery, parents often will morn their child’s appearance.  That they miss the way their babies looked.  I remember thinking then, “I can’t imagine that.  I am sure we will want to have that fixed for him so he will look normal.”

But……. Harvey Powell has changed everything.  This boy has shown me so much.  He has shown me what perfection is all about or maybe what it is not about.  Harvey has shown me that what some people see as a flaw, is actually the most beautiful thing imaginable.  He has taught me that joy can be found in the most unsuspecting places.  He has, more times then I can count, brought me to tears with his beauty.  Harvey is truly a gift.  Image

Now, looking at him, I can’t imagine him any other way.  I can’t even picture him “normal” and I really don’t want to either.  His smile is enough to melt the polar ice caps!  When he is sleeping and that sweet lip is split, it is all I can do not to just kiss him all over!  When his tongue comes through that sweet cleft it puts the biggest smile on my face! I am telling you the joy that flows from him is incredible!


When I think about how I see Harvey, I can’t help but think about how God sees us.  I know I see myself as a flawed, imperfect human. Some days, I pick myself apart so badly it doesn’t even feel like there is anything left to pick at.  I see physical flaws every time I look in the mirror.  I often wonder what others are seeing when they see me and I assume they are seeing the flaws.  But when God sees us, I don’t think he sees our flaws, I think he sees our beauty.  Isn’t that amazing?  Harvey is teaching me to see the world differently.  With eyes that look past flaws and see beauty.  When I see Harvey, all I see is beauty.


Tonight as I write this blog, I have been looking through some pictures that I have taken to preserve these precious memories.  In a few weeks, Harvey will have a new look.  Not a better look, but a new one.  I have so many mixed emotions but tonight I am just plain thankful.  Thankful for him and for the perspective he has given me.  Thankful for cameras (and good friends who let you borrow macro lens) that allow me to capture his natural beauty.  Thankful for a God who never leaves us. Thankful for loving and supportive friends and family.  Just thankful.  I hope you enjoy these beautiful photos as much as I do!


Family, My Story

Fathers Day

It is late, 11:53pm.  In a few minutes it will be Father’s day 2014.  I have had a rough night with the kids, leaving me up late thumbing through social media. It is currently flooded with well wishes to fathers.  I see women who are adoring and reminiscing their own dads.  I see wives who are celebrating their husbands.  It has left me with a lot of thoughts.  I am not going to share them all, simply because they are complicated and too deep for this venue.

But I have decided a few of them are worth sharing……

My dear husband of almost 11 years is quite simply amazing.  I don’t publicly brag on him as often as I should, but today is a perfect time to give him some much needed applause.  I was just going to post a cute collage on instagram of him with each baby (see below).  Then when I went to make the collage I realized something- what this man has done is big.


At the age of 17, we found out I was pregnant.  I will never forget those few days of pure panic.  I remember Joel being so calm as I cried and cried and cried.  I remember the next day we were in his truck and I said “Joel, what in the world are we going to do?”  and he just looked at me with the most sincere eyes and said “we will do whatever it takes”  He has stood by those words to this day.

As I think about all of that now, I think about how easy it would have been for him to say- I don’t know what you are doing, but I am having no part of this! But he didn’t.  Instead, he went to doctor appointments, watched me gain weight, get moody, get sick, held my hand through labor, and then he loved our son with everything he had.  I watched him work his booty off, and finish his senior year of high school, all while I was pregnant and having a baby.  He stood by me and has never even once complained about our situation.

Now, 12 years+ I can say that the boy who was strong for me, even though he was scared to death, has become the most amazing, Godly husband and father.  He has been our provider, my rock, the love of my life.  He has given me 4 amazing, beautiful children.  He has become the leader of our household and made all of my dreams a reality.  He has worked so hard over the years and continues to do so.  He is showing our kids what it means to be a good husband and father.  He is caring, loving, and passionate about what he does.  He is truly amazing and I thank God daily for him.  DSC_0794eI don’t think I can ever put into words how grateful I am for this man.  He is one of a kind and I am proud to be his wife!

Happy Fathers Day to the most amazing dad I know, my husband, Joel!


Encouragement, My Story



Do you ever wake up and try to beat your toddler to the coffee pot?  You know what I mean?  You need to get a cup a coffee in before you hear a whiney “mommy I need a drink” or before there is any chance of a melt down.  I know that is a reality in this house.  We have 4 kids ranging from 2 months old to 11 and all 4 of them are at home with me all day.  There is a toddler in that mix and anyone who has ever had a toddler knows that they can be tricky at times.

Right now at this point in my life I have found that there are days that are just hard.  There are long nights that leave me exhausted.  There are days with more meltdowns than smiles.  Some days I feel like I get nothing done (which is hard for me because I am a doer).  At times I wonder if I will ever have any time for anything!  Days come where the 2 year old is refusing to nap and wants me to lay with her.  I planned to do things while she napped.  The baby is asleep and I need her to sleep too!  This is a place to easily get frustrated.

I know there have been so many times where I have told my husband “I am just so tired.  I don’t know if I can do this again tomorrow!”  He has jokingly said, “don’t worry, it will get better in a few years” Oh my word, so much for encouragement!  We had our first two kids 2 years apart just like the last two.  We survived that and I know we will survive this too.  The fact is, I know that this time passes by so fast!  I know that I am going to miss these days.  I missed them as soon as they were over with our first two.

Acceptance.  That is where I have gotten to.  I have accepted that I may not get anything on my to-do list done.  I am ok with that.  I have decided to embrace each moment of the day.  When Garner has a meltdown, I remind myself that she is strong willed, full of life and that she makes me laugh more then she makes me cry.  I remind myself of the pure joy that flows from her tiny two year old body.  When the baby is fussy and isn’t wanting to sleep, I choose to see the blessing it is to have him in my arms.  It is so easy to be consumed by the craziness of life and to miss the blessings.

I don’t want to allow anything to stop me from seeing all the good things in my life.  There is always good no matter what is going on.  We get to choose joy.  I have so much to be thankful for in my life.  My life is not perfect.  There are lots of moments that are stressful and seem impossible. Things don’t always go the way I plan.  There are disappointments.  But there is no life I would rather have.  Choosing to let the joy overshadow the chaos has been one of the most amazing feelings!  I lean on prayer a lot.  I give the things I can’t control to God and ask Him for strength and wisdom daily, especially in parenting these 4 amazing kids.

One thing that I have used my one on one time with the kids for is praying for them individually.  I have found myself laying in bed with Garner or rocking Harvey a lot lately.  I know when it is 10:30pm and I have been trying to get them to sleep for 2 hours and have been hearing cries for 2 hours, my emotions are high and I know I am vulnerable to have a meltdown myself.  So, I have just started praying through all of it.  I start praying for their future, their friends, for who they will become, for wisdom in parenting them and guiding them to be the person God created them to be, and even for their future spouse.  Praying sends all my anxiety away, eases my spirit and gives me peace all while reminding me of the blessing it is be a mommy.

So, kiss your life!  Love where you are today.  Rocking babies, kissing boo-boos, waking up for 2am feedings, or maybe you are struggling with a teenager. Wherever your life is now, focus on loving it, or else you might miss the happiness that is right in front of you.