Encouragement, Family, home sweet home, Uncategorized

Our Christmas Count Down

DSC_9463ccI love the Christmas season!  The smells of cinnamon and cedar, the decorated homes so warm and inviting.  I love how the spirit of giving comes out and is evident everywhere.  It is such a beautiful time where people come together and reflect on the goodness of the season.  But there is also so much commercialism, busyness, and crazy expectations that I can get caught up in too.

A few years ago I decided I wanted to find a way to be intentional about the things that mattered most to our family.  I found that if we weren’t intentional it was easy to get caught up in being far too busy to enjoy things and spend way too much money buying things we don’t need.  I searched Pinterest for ideas and found so many great ones but nothing exactly like what I wanted, (it may be out there but I didn’t find it then!) so I created something for my family!

Before I dive into the details, I want to say this- I created this for my family and I am sharing it because it has been a blessing for us.  What works for us may not work of you, so if you read this and have any kind of guilt about what you are not doing, just stop!  I have done that to myself so many times and it is not worth it.  You loose too much feeling guilty and miss out on all the goodness that is right in front of you.  And if you read to the end, you will see we don’t do this perfectly!

When we talked about what was most important to us in the Christmas season we decided it was Jesus, family, & giving.  Each day there is something in our envelopes that reflect those things.

DSC_9413ccInside each envelope there is a piece to the Christmas story.  We read it, reflect on it and discuss what it means.  I love hearing what my kids have to say about it and reading it in sections really helps us focus on each part! I found my free printable Christmas story here.

The second part of this, is focusing on family time.  Each day we have a family fun activity.  These are things we enjoy doing together.  They range, anything from watching Christmas movies to looking at Christmas lights, minute to win it games, to decorating my Poppy’s Christmas tree for him.

And last but not least, we have an act of kindness each day.  Some of these things don’t require us leaving the house, like mailing a hug to someone or writing letters to everyone inside our home telling them what they mean to us.  These acts of kindness range in price too.  Some of the things we do are take hot drinks to people working outside, leave an extra big tip, donate blankets, and shop for the angel tree.


When I plan our December and the count down, I look at all I know we have going on and I try to plan each days activities on that.  I know we will go out to eat after church, so I plan to leave a big tip on a Sunday.  Our church does a gingerbread house competition so I made sure that I made that our family fun activity that day.  Although when I plan it I don’t know everything that will come up so we are flexible  with it.

Our kids get so excited to open the envelope and see what we are doing that day.  They love the surprise!

We go into this knowing we will not fulfill each act of kindness and every family activity.  We set the expectations for this up front, letting the kids know that we will not be perfect in this.  Some days we end up doubling up on acts of kindness because we missed the day before and sometimes we just don’t do it at all.  The last thing I want to do is add unneeded stress to a busy season, so we do our best and don’t worry too much if we miss it.

I know that this is not for everyone but if you want to know more, feel free to ask!  This is something you can modify to meet your families needs/desires/schedules.

Let the count down begin- 24 days until CHRISTMAS!  We are excited to celebrate the birth of Jesus! Merry Christmas!

Celebrate Recovery, Encouragement, Family, My Story, Suicide Awareness, Uncategorized

Suicide still hurts

dadToday is an anniversary I wish I didn’t have to remember.  It has been 3 years since I walked up to my dads door, waited for him to answer, but he never did.  3 years since my sweet husband bravely walked inside to find him.  3 years since he walked outside to tell me the heartbreaking news.  “He’s gone.  He took his life.”

It is still crushing to even think about it all.  To remember the pain of the day and wonder what happened.  Suicide leaves questions that will never be answered.  I can’t wrap my mind around it.  I am someone who always looks for answers.  I want to understand everything.  But this one, no matter how much information I seek, I will never fully understand it.

Suicide leaves behind so much.  It leaves pain and what if’s for all of those left here.  It leaves grief and tears.  Sometimes it leaves anger, hurt, or frustration.  3 years later, and although I have done so much healing, there is still healing to be done.  I don’t get anxiety when I drive past the community where he lived any more.  I don’t cry about my dads death every day.  But there are days that the grief just comes out of no where.  Days where I am just sad he isn’t here.

This topic is still something that not everyone is comfortable talking about, but it is one we need to talk about.  I have learned of 2 suicides this week and even though I din’t know either person, I have mourned over them.  My heart is broken for them.  For the pain they were in.  For the hurt they felt.  For the fight they fought.  My heart hurst for the their friends and family as they wrestle with all of the emotions that come with suicide.  My prayers for them are pleas with God to hold them together as they process.

Friends, our country needs support, encouragement and love for those who are hurting.  Depression is real.  Emotional pain is real.  Lets search our hearts and find compassion to see others.  To really see them.  We are all human and we all struggle!  If your struggles don’t look like someone else’s, thank God, then ask Him to help guide you as you reach out to those in your life who you know are hurting.

Be a friend.  Ask questions.  Offer your shoulder to cry on.  Don’t judge.  Just love.

And if you need a friend, let me know.  If you are looking for community to love you through your pain, Celebrate Recovery is the most incredible place to find people who truly love and accept folks just as they are!  I would love to help connect you!

1-800-273-8255 is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.  Call them if you need them.

Other posts on this topic:

My Truths about Suicide & Depression

When God Fulfills His Promises


My Next Adventure! {Alice’s Table}

In the spring I announced I would be letting go of my photography business after 12 years of capturing memories for my wonderful clients.  It was a choice I didn’t take lightly and it took a lot for me to let go of something I had loved so much.

I needed a break and some time to just be.  During these last few months I have realized how much I have missed having a creative outlet.  I love to create.

One day I was online looking for something and I stumbled upon a business I had never seen before- Alice’s Table.  The little blip I saw said something like “Getting women together to learn flower arranging in a fun social setting”  I was intrigued.  I started researching and quickly decided this looks like my DREAM JOB!


If you know me, you know I love floral, entertaining, and being social!  A “job” where I would get to teach others to arrange flowers, host events, and get to hang out with new people all the time, I am in!

Over the course of a few weeks, I went from interested to excited, to becoming an Event Exec with Alice’s Table!  I am so excited to bring this fun experience to our area!

Events are held just about anywhere- restaurant, winery, brewery, boutique, coffee shop, your home or office- the possibilities are endless!  At the events I will be teaching groups of friends and acquaintances how to design beautiful bouquets. Each guest will have the chance to craft an exquisite arrangement that they take home in a stylish vase.  If you are interested in hosting a private event, please let me know!


Details for my first public event will be coming soon!  You will not want to miss it!

Thank you to all of my friends and family for always supporting me!  I can’t wait to share Alice’s Table with you! AT_Image-6


Please don’t judge my social media feed

IMG_7960 copyHow many times have you decided everything you think about someone from their social media feed?  I am guilty.  I see how happy someone looks or how much fun they are having.  How perfect their house looks. Are they lying in their feed?  Are they really that happy?  Are things in their life really always that perfect?

I am a pretty open sharer.  I like to share my life and do it fairly often on social media.  For me personally, my social media sharing is to serve several purposes.  The first one is to share our life with family and friends that wouldn’t get to see whats going on with us other wise.  The second is as an opportunity to encourage others and share Jesus’ love.  Third is to document our days in my chatbook series. (if you don’t know what chatbooks are, look them up!  so wonderful!)   So if you look at my Instagram feed, you are going to see lots of regular, every day life pictures.  Most of what I post is happy, although I do try to be transparent about the hard stuff too.

Something that I have realized, is how often people make opinions about other peoples lives, solely on their social media.  When we only have a portion of the story it is easy to use the little bit we know to start setting expectations for ourselves.  I have done this so many times and I have even heard other people say things about me like “you have it all together, you are super mom!” When that is the furthest thing from the truth.

I have looked back at what I post.  I wanted to see if I am regularly posting things that aren’t reality.  The truth is, I don’t stage my photos (I might move something out of the frame) or my moments, but my social media certainly isn’t giving the whole story.

So here are 6 reasons you shouldn’t judge my life on my social media.

  1. I don’t share every second of my day.  You may see the sweet sleeping toddler but you sure didn’t see the fit he threw right before he fell asleep.
  2. I enjoy documenting my life in photos.  It truly makes me happy.  When I see an opportunity for a picture, I usually take it.  I don’t post them all.  I currently have 10,088 photos and 534 videos on my phone.  That is normal right?  My point is this, You don’t see it all.  At the end of the day, I hand my husband my phone and we look at the pictures from the day as I recap all we did.  I have photographed fights, fits, messes, just as much as the hugs, smiles, and snuggles.  But I reserve sharing the details.  Not posting them doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.
  3. I save some of my raw emotions, deeper thoughts, and stories of trial for a more personal place.  I blog some of my crazy life experiences and stories of trials and over coming but if you really want to get to know me, lets do it in person.  I will share and open up about most things in a face to face conversation.  Social media isn’t the place to tell all.
  4. I don’t want to focus on the negative.  I have to fight the urge to only see the negative in my life so posting the good stuff helps me to remember those moments.  I don’t forget the bad, but it helps me to still see the good.  I have had someone say “looks like you had a great day” based on what I posted, but the reality is, I faced so many difficulties that I certainly didn’t stick that day in the great day category BUT I posted the good stuff, despite the bad, because I struggle to see the good when I recap my day.
  5. I have insecurities.  Some of my insecurities keep me from sharing on social media.  OR sometimes those insecurities are behind me posting.
  6. Sometimes the hard parts of my day aren’t mine to share.  There are difficulties I face that include other people and sharing that on social media would be telling someone else’s story that isn’t mine to share.

I know that this isn’t the truth for everyone’s social media but I wanted to give perspective as to how dangerous it is to form opinions solely on social media.  All of us have reasons why we post what we do, but rarely do we get the whole picture from a post. Before you form an opinion from social media, remember that the person posting is a flawed human, who makes mistakes, faces trials, endures hardships, and is probably just trying to survive life just like you!  No kid is perfect, no marriage is perfect, no life is perfect and when we see something that we feel reflects that on social media we can take comfort in knowing we aren’t seeing it all!




Encouragement, My Story, Uncategorized

You, me, & coffee- just invite her

IMG_5226A busy mom with several children is sitting at home struggling.  She is lonely and would love more than anything to connect to others who share common interest and who are in the same season of life.  Reality is, she would love to connect with anyone.  She feels a little forgotten.  She starts evaluating herself and looking for reasons why it seems like no one reaches out to her.  She finds herself unsure why, but realizes she is feeling self conscious wishing she could figure it out.

In a house across town, another busy mom has been invited to a luncheon but has no one to go with.  She wants more than anything to put on makeup, fix her hair, wear that new dress, and have a kid free lunch with friends.  She scans the contacts in her phone.  She concludes that most everyone she knows is far too busy to go.  This friend probably can’t get a babysitter.  This one seems to have so many friends and always busy, I doubt she has time for me.  One by one she answers for them, without asking.  Before she knows it, her excitement about the luncheon has turned into sadness and she decides she won’t go because she doesn’t want to go alone.

Have you ever been either women?  In this season of Motherhood I can find myself being both women at times.  I have been the lonely mom, wishing someone would invite, call, or text me.  I have longed for meaningful relationships and wondered why I don’t have them.  I have also been the woman who didn’t even ask because I  thought they were too busy or I feared feeling rejected if they said no.

Through talking to other women, trying to figure out a solution to loneliness in Motherhood, I have heard over and over again that a lot of moms don’t invite out of fear OR they don’t invite because they assume someone is busy.  I have also heard moms saying they just feel overwhelmed by all that they have going on and truly feel too busy to reach out.

If you are the overwhelmed mom, but long for some girl pal time, here is a question for you- What would it look like to determine a set amount of time for this?  Do you feel that even with your full plate, carving out some time to hang with other moms might actually help you be less overwhelmed?  I know that taking time out of my normal crazy to drink coffee and chat with other moms it helps me feel human again!

If you are like me and often assume other moms are too busy OR fear rejection, lets ask anyway!  You never know when another mom may need the invite, just as bad as you want them to say yes!  And lets remember that a no isn’t personal.

Just invite.  Reach out.  Make new friends.  Love on old ones.  Have coffee, lunch, dinner.  Go play at the park.  Find ways to connect and don’t let things stop you.  Relationships are far too important to allow fear or busyness get in the way!

I do not have a full proof solution for the lonely mom, but I do know if we don’t ever take a chance and just invite, we will miss out on so many opportunities!

Happy Monday Friends!  I hope it is fabulous!


Encouragement, Family, My Story, Uncategorized

Excuse this work in progress

IMG_4780 copyIt started with a text from a friend letting me know she would be in town and wanted to grab lunch.  I glanced over at my 3 year old who is still just a week post op- tonsillectomy.  He is a little unpredictable generally, but recovery has left me not knowing moment to moment his mood.  It has been over a week since I did anything that resembled fun and lunch with adults sounded wonderful but I knew I couldn’t load up 5 kids and go.

I looked around at all the unfinished things at my house.  I have no kitchen faucet, the island is without a counter top, trim isn’t finished, light fixtures need to be installed, closets aren’t done…. The list is long.  But I really wanted this opportunity to visit.  I responded  “I can’t got out for lunch but you are welcome to come here!”  She responded with excitement to see the new place but I felt the need to disclose, “just so you know, it is a work in progress, excuse the mess and unfinished state!”

I couldn’t help but feel like that could be my life hashtag #excusethishotmessimaworkinprogress

Jesus is still working on me y’all!  I mean it!  Everyday I feel like I discover a ways I need to do better.  I can want to hide my face and run away at some of the mistakes I make.  I get embarrassed and insecure knowing I have so much to work on.  I can easily let my work in progress state keep me from things, knowing I am flawed and imperfect.

Today I made lunch for friends in my unfinished, work in progress, no where close to perfect house.  We laughed, dreamed, and enjoyed our few hours together. I could have missed out on this chance if I let the fact that we are still working on it bother me.


The truth is, we are all a work in progress.  There isn’t one of us that will ever arrive at perfection and be able to say “I do not need to work on me any more!”  But how often do we let the work in progress state we are in keep us from things?  From my own experiences, I have found that perfection isn’t always inviting.  Sometimes it is down right intimidating.  When we allow ourselves to embrace the work in progress, knowing it won’t always be this way, we can lovingly invite others into our story, on our journey, and share our life!

Lets be brave enough to show our real, imperfect, work-in-progress lives to each other, so when Jesus makes new of what is a mess, others get to see that transformation too!  Can we all love and extend grace to one another so can be a community of brave women, sharing our journey?  Join me friends!

Encouragement, My Story, Suicide Awareness, Uncategorized

When God fulfills His promises

IMG_4298 copyOn October 4, 2014,  I got my kids up and ready for a soccer.  My oldest son had a game and we were headed out early to grab my dad and get to the field.  He knew we were coming, he had the schedule, and we came every week.  I had been trying to call him for 24 hours with no luck getting him and my imagination had me nervous.  It wasn’t like my dad to not answer, although it wasn’t even ringing- just going to voicemail.  My imagination said worst case….. My sound mind said his phone stopped working.  The battery had been refusing to charge off and on for months so surely that is the case.

We arrive to his apartment.  I hop out of the car to go get him. My heart is racing.  I actually feel sick as I walk to the door.  I knock.  I wait.  I try the handle and the door is unlocked.  I yell “dad……dad”  I quickly pull the door to and run to the car.  “The door is unlocked but he isn’t answering.  I can’t go in.  I just can’t.”  Joel unbuckles and assures me it is going to be ok.  I follow him as closely as I can without stepping on his heels.  I stop just outside the door and wait.  Moments seemed like years.  I won’t ever forget the look on my sweet husbands face when he had to say the words I feared.  “He’s gone, he died”

The whirlwind of emotion will never leave me, I don’t think.  I can recount the moments after he said that and remember the feeling in my heart that hurt so badly.  I remember calling to tell my sister…. my brother…. my mom.  I remember calling my friend and asking her to come get my kids.  Every single detail feels so fresh.

When I finally got home, I drug myself up the stairs and found myself on my knees in the closet, crying.  I cried out to God.  “Lord please let me wake up!  Please do not let this be part of my story.  I just don’t want suicide to be part of my story”  Broken, hurting, confused, desperate for answers, I felt peace rush over my body.  A peace that can only be explained to be the Holy Spirit.  I had to look up because I felt it so deeply that I had to make sure my surroundings were the same.  In that instant I felt God saying to me “It is ok.  You will be better equipped for what I have for you on the other side of this.  Your pain will not be wasted.  I will use this.”  I had no idea how, but I stood up confident and at peace.  Still broken, hurting, confused, and desperate for answers, but confident that the peace I felt would get me through the coming weeks, months, and years.

Today, it has been 2.5 years since my dad died.  Over the past 2.5 years I haven’t really wondered how or when God was going to use me and honestly I was ok with not knowing.  But a few weeks ago, I got an unexpected message from someone I didn’t really know.  She wanted to talk to me about the blog I wrote on suicide.  I was nervous to talk about it, mostly because I was caught off guard by it- it had been over a year since I posted the blog.   I wrote the blog out of obedience- it wasn’t fun.  Suicide is a tough subject to bring up because it makes people uncomfortable so it took God prompting me for months before I finally did it.

The weeks leading up to the phone call had been hard for me.  I had been in a place of loneliness and I had been wrestling with God- asking Him where He was and begging Him to show up for me.  I remember confessing at life group on that Sunday, that I longed for the relationship I had with God during the biggest trials of my life, He felt so present.  I wouldn’t want to be back in the trial, but wish the richness of the Holy Spirit was present now.

The conversation started by getting the awkward, I know we don’t really know each other…. out of the way.  It quickly followed by explaining she read my blog post on suicide and decided to share it.  At the time she wasn’t sure why, but just felt the need to share it.  Recently a friend of hers urgently wanted to meet her.  During their time together, her friend explained the darkness she found herself in and had decided to take her life.  But she saw the blog on Facebook and decided to read it.  After reading it, her heart changed and instead of taking her life, she went to rehab to get the help she so desperately needed.

I am listening on the other end, sobbing.  I keep hearing God’s promises in my head. I remember days before crying out “where are you?”  I remember doubting what he asked me to do years ago when I was seeking His will so intensely “share your life, open and honestly, encourage others”.  But Lord, what do I have to give?  And as I listened to my new friend talk, I heard Him saying “your story”.

Friends, God is good.  He took my brokenness, my words of pain, and he used them to help someone see a different perspective.  That is good enough, but he didn’t stop there.  He knew I needed reassurance.  He knew I needed to see His work, so he was good enough to let me see it.  His work happened, He used my pain, even if I didn’t know it, but He let me in on it.  He is good like that.

Sometimes I wonder if my story is worth telling.  I wonder if my life is worth sharing.  The truth is, everyone’s is.  Yours doesn’t look like mine.  And not everyone will share the way I do, but everyones story is worth telling.  Do not underestimate the power of your story.

I have learned that God will fulfill His promises.  He will.  But we have to be willing to let Him.  Let Him use you today- whatever that looks like for you.  For me, it means sharing and giving.  It means being vulnerable enough to let you all see the not so great parts of my life.  It means giving my life to Jesus and praying every day He uses it!

As I proofread my words I realized how much pain there is in reliving the day my dad died.  I tried to figure out a way to show God’s goodness in this story without sharing all the pain.  The truth is, I can’t.  If I take out the pain, there isn’t really a story.  Today is Good Friday.  The pain surrounding this day is unimaginable and it hurts me when I think of all the pain Jesus endured, but without Friday, there is no Sunday.  Without the pain, there is no resurrection.  Friends, Jesus paid the ultimate price so he could share Heaven with us.  Sometimes we have to share our pain with others, in order to let them see how truly good God is.  God didn’t cause my pain, but He was with me through it all and He is using the pain for good!


Where is your identity?


I have misplaced my identity. At first I thought I had lost it, but when I really stop to contemplate this, I realize it isn’t lost, but rather misplaced.

From the time that I was young I loved capturing memories. I always had a camera in my hand taking pictures of everything. If you came to my house growing up, you were going to be in a photo shoot. Then in high school I took photo journalism and loved every second of it and especially learning to develop film in the dark room. Taking pictures has always been a second nature to me.

When we started a family, my passion for pictures was obvious.  To say our kids are well documented is an understatement.  After our second child was born, I started taking pictures for other people which would start a journey that would eventually become a full time career and a big part of where I found my identity.

For years I spent time building my business. I loved being creative, meeting new people, forming relationships with clients, and truly connecting with my subjects. I loved seeing the finished product and knowing that I had captured memories for my sweet friends. What initially I thought might just be for fun, turned into so much more. Before I knew it, I had made a name for myself. People started recognizing my name. I started hearing “Oh you are a photographer! I have seen your work!” My husband would be places and people would say “You are Jessica Meinardus’ husband? The photographer?” Friends would introduce me as Jessica Meinardus- the photographer. It took me years to call myself a photographer, but when people started identifying me that way, I too started to identify with it.

After 7 years of being a full time photographer, we had our 3rd child. We decided I needed to cut back and be part time. By the time I had our 4th baby (2 years later) we knew it was best for our family to take a break completely, so I did. At the time I didn’t really have any intentions of picking it back up but in between our 4th and 5th babies, I longed for what was missing, so naturally, I started taking pictures again.

But what exactly was I missing? Was it really taking pictures? No. I was missing that place where I felt I fit.  My love language is Words of Affirmation.  When I was taking pictures regularly I was getting feedback constantly that said I was good. That I was doing something right.  I was making a difference.  I was talented. I had become so reliant not only on my identity as a photographer, but also on praise that came with it. My main job now is motherhood and in motherhood there is not a lot of true, immediate affirmations!  Sure, other people say I am a great mom, but my 5 year old told me she wanted a new mom yesterday, so theres that.

As painful as it is for me to admit, I know that I have let my need for affirmation and my desire to feel I have a place in this world drive me. I have found my identity in what I do for so long, which at times has provided instant gratification, but eventually it leaves me empty and looking for something else.  I have found myself exhausted trying to feel like I have a place that I fit, a place where I feel enough.

What I have always known to be true, but have fought for so long is that my identity isn’t found in what I do or who I am, but rather whose I am.  My identity must be found in Christ and who He says I am.  This isn’t a new concept for me but rather something I have treated like I could handle better.  For several years I feel God has called me to something specific and although I haven’t completely ignored it, I haven’t been completely obedient either.  I have allowed fear to keep from letting go of certain things- fear of loosing a title that made me feel like I had relevance and the fear of loosing my source for affirmation.  I want to give God control of my life and allow Him to fully guide my paths, but each time I give him control, I take it back.   I feel Him nudge me, and I say “yes, I trust you”.  But then, I find myself in panic- wait, this doesn’t feel right.  Who am I?  Am I enough?  Then, instead of running back to Him, the one I just said “I trust you” to, I take back control and push away those truths- Who am I?  I am HIS!  I now see how easy it is to place our identity in something other than Jesus.

This is a journey.  It isn’t suppose to be a life of instant gratification. Choosing a life rooted in my identity in Christ, is full of His affirmation but that doesn’t look like the affirmation the world gives us. I’m trusting Him with my needs and my journey to a deeper understanding of His love.

Sometimes we have to fully surrender things in order for God to show us what is next. For a long time I have tried and failed to surrender the identity I formed in being a photographer. But I am ready for what is next- whatever that is. So, I am giving up the title that I have held onto for so long. My talent didn’t disappear and my desire to capture life on my camera is here to stay, but I am not Jessica the photographer. (and if I have already told you I would take pictures- don’t worry, I am not breaking any of my current commitments)  This is not an easy post to type out.  It isn’t easy to admit my struggles or to say goodbye to career that I have loved for 12 years, but I know that this is right.

I am still a creative soul who loves to share, encourage, and create so I plan to continue to share openly and honestly. I hope you will continue to join me! I have started a Facebook and Instagram page (houseofmeinardus) that I hope to share daily encouragement/real life, through pictures and words, and I hope to keep blogging regularly.  Thank you friends, for your continued support in my journey!




Trapped by Motherhood

I woke up exhausted which isn’t unusual for me.  I got up in the middle of the night with one of our kids- who can even remember which one it was this time.  Everyday I want so badly to wake up before everyone else so I can drink my coffee, read my bible, and have me time.  I have no idea when the last time that happened.  Most of the time, one of two things happen- either I had a long night so I hit snooze too many times, and do not have any time for “me time” or someone decides to wake up earlier than normal and they need me right NOW.  Exhausted is the name of the game.

It was Monday.  A Monday after a long weekend full of busy and rush.  Not only had I woke up exhausted, I already felt defeated.  I knew that the day was going to be a tough one before it started and my attitude already reflected that.  Today was day 1 in potty training boot camp.  I was going to do my best to get my sweet but stubborn boy potty trained.  Two weeks prior he started hating poopy diapers (I mean, who doesn’t??) and taking them off as soon as he pooped, without warning or telling anyone.  I would find him naked with poop wherever he was.  He had wiped poop on the couch, his shirt, the floor.  I was DONE.  So operation potty train was in full swing.

By 10:00, he had already peed in the floor twice, the dog had puked on my new rug, and the baby had barely stopped crying.  I found myself running from one child to the next.  Someone was either crying, peeing, puking, whining, hungry, discontent with life.  I realized I hadn’t had a real adult conversation in days.  Sure, I had seen another adult but I hadn’t had any quality time with one.  I wish I could clearly communicate how difficult life seemed.  I cried all day.  I felt alone.  It all seemed hopeless.  I was unhappy and it continued all.day.long.

I kept thinking about how badly I would love to read a book, drink coffee, have nice things that no one was wiping poop on.  I just want to feel normal.  I want to be able to go to the bathroom without fear of what is happening while I am in there.  I want regular adult interaction.  I want sleep.  I don’t want to hear whining any more.  No fighting.  No messes.  I just want to run away to a a quiet beach.  I want to feel like I have purpose and meaning- like I matter.  3 & 5 year olds don’t give you much praise- and often times they give the complete opposite!

By the afternoon I found myself taking a breather and trying to sort through all the things in my brain.  I was so unhappy.  I kept asking myself what I was doing. Why in the world did I have 5 kids?  At this point I felt like this was a crazy question to be asking.  I mean I have 5 kids. I am now talking to myself outloud.  “Ok,  life is full of choices.  People make choices all the time.  If you go to college and get a degree and start working and realize that you spent all this time on a degree for a job you don’t actually like, you can switch careers.  Or if you are in a job that doesn’t fit or you don’t enjoy, you can get another one.  What about motherhood?  What happens when you find yourself so discontent and unhappy in Motherhood?  This isn’t a job you just change and find a new one.  What happens when you feel trapped by motherhood?”  I didn’t immediately have an answer.  I know that people do run away from their lives- but even in the thick, I knew that I wasn’t going to really run away.  I love my kids with all I have and I want to be a mom- but it is hard.

I text a friend and then ended up calling my husband, which I try not to do.  I was in a place I didn’t feel like I could get out of on my own but knew I desperately needed to get out.  I was a mess.  My sweet husband had reminded me that it won’t always be like this.  I felt like Allyson in the movie Mom’s Night Out.  She’s a hot mess most days and her life seems to constantly be in a state of chaos.  At one point her friend assures her “it will get better! in 3-5 years”  I am sure my face resembled her look of disappointment when my husband tried to encourage me by saying it is not forever.  In that moment, that was not a statement full of hope for me.

By bedtime my heart was still heavy.  I went to sleep feeling like I had to figure things out.  I wanted more than anything for my feelings to shift into a more positive light.  The next few days I thought through all my feelings and searched for answers.  I am not sure if there is such a thing as THE answer, but I wanted to remember what I had done in the past and possibly find new ways to combat the difficult seasons of motherhood.  Here is what I came up with!


1.) Embrace the difficult.  Don’t dress it up.  Don’t try to make it pretty.  Motherhood is hard at times.  There are challenges and difficult stages.  A few weeks ago our pastor said “life is meant to be enjoyed even when it has to be endured.”  I love this and have held onto those words daily.  I have found that when I allow the moments to just be- difficult, hard, challenging, exhausting, then I can accept them that way, rather than trying to wrestle with them and make them into something prettier.

2.) Find a pick me up person.  Find a person or an entire flock of people, who you can call or text when you are in the pit.  When you find yourself wanting to run away or quit, have those people on speed dial.  If you don’t have that person, let me know- I am serious! We all need someone who can love us and encourage us right where we are- even if we are being irrational.  We need someone who we know will love us when that moment is over and we are back to loving life again.

3.) Seek truth.  The truth is always there, even in the lies.  When life is throwing us lots of challenges and we find ourselves teetering on the edge of sanity, the lies often seem a lot louder than the truth.  It is in these moments we have to intentionally seek truth.  Remind yourself that there is another side and you will get there.  You aren’t going to stay stuck in the yuck!

4.) Switch perspective.  Hold tight to the power you have in changing perspective.  I have learned that my perspective is a powerful tool.  A lot of times, especially in the hard times, I naturally sees the worst of the worst.  But that is just not the truth!  There is always another way to look at things and learning to see a better perspective helps me get through those hard moments.

5.) Change scenery.  If things seem to be falling apart, sometimes changing scenery can benefit you and your kids.  Go outside, hop in the car and take a drive, change activities.  Just do something different.  A lot of times fresh air and and a new scene will help everyone change gears.

6.) Take a break.  This isn’t easy for me to figure out all the time.  But I have learned that to be a healthy mom, I have to take a break.  There have been times we have a recurring babysitter each week to allow me out of the house alone.  We just made the choice to add that to the budget.  Other times, I have made sure that if the kids nap, I either take a nap too or I chill on the couch in silence.  We have all done this one- hide in the closet or bathroom for a few minutes.  Taking a break will look different for each of us.  Maybe you need coffee with a friend or a date with your husband.  Evaluate your needs and do what you have to so that they are getting met AND then, don’t feel guilty about it!

7.) Pray.  I can’t tell you how much peace I feel when I stop and pray during the chaos.  It doesn’t make the chaos go away but it does bring me peace!

8.) Rationalize your expectations.  So I often have some crazy expectations of what I should be as a mom, how my kids should be, what our day looks like…… I have found that a lot of times, when I find myself completely unraveled, I have some expectations that have completely been shot.  Giving my expectations a reboot really helps.

9.) Give yourself some grace!  Seriously, this one is big!  My rule is to always ask myself “if my friend called me and told me what is going on, what would I say to her? Would I extend her grace, love, and encouragement?”  And if the answer is yes (it always is)  then I know I have to give myself that same thing!  Motherhood is hard enough, we don’t need to beat ourselves up!

10.) Remember you are not alone!  When I am in those moments that feel impossible, I typically feel very alone.  There usually isn’t another adult around and I am surrounded by children.  I feel like I am probably the only mom struggling.  Guess what?  You are not alone Momma!  Everyone struggles.  Whatever you are feeling, lots of other moms are feeling it too.  Sometimes it is really hard to admit it because it almost feels like we are saying we don’t love our jobs as moms, but seriously, no one loves their job all the time!  Being a mom is so hard and the best thing we can do is support and love each other in this journey!  Lets be honest with each other so no one ever feels alone!

Momma, in this life that is full of never-ending demands, we all find ourselves in moments where nothing seems to help.  Grace, just grace.  It is hard, it isn’t always fun, but it is always worth it.  God has trusted us with these babies and His grace is enough to cover all the difficult, demanding, lonely, places.

Camper Living, Family, home sweet home, My Story, Uncategorized

What’s with Sundays?

This morning I woke up positive that today was going to be good.  The past 3 or 4 Sunday’s have just not been fabulous so I went to bed feeling a little bit dreadful but woke up feeling great! I was able to drink my entire cup of coffee while it was hot, got myself and the kids all ready for church- on time, and was about ready to head out the door when it started.  “those shoes are too tight!”  I know they are not.  I just bought them a few days ago and they fit great.  but I couldn’t convince her.  So I quickly decided it wasn’t worth the fight.  I offered a different pair of shoes- tears and crying…… “I want to wear those!”  Wait, what?  The ones you just screamed were too tight?  The tears and crying continued and I threw my hands up, taking both pairs of shoes and the child to the car where everyone else was already waiting.

Phew!  We are still on time! I silently celebrated as I put the car in reverse.  It sounded funny as I backed up, but our driveway is gravel so I put it in drive and started out, only to quickly realize that funny sound was my wheel grinding into the gravel.  Flat tire.  I put the car in park and jump out as I call my husband- who is at work (ask any firefighters wife, it all happens on their shift!) I have never changed a tire.  I go back and forth about how i feel about it.  On one hand I don’t want to be the damsel in distress calling for help over a flat.  On the other hand I don’t really feel like I have missed out on life by never changing a flat tire.  But suddenly, I had this deep desire to take care of it myself.  As Joel insisted he would come change it, I insisted I could handle it.

My oldest child and I got the tire out and started the process.  I watched a quick youtube video and up the car went.  I worked on the lug nuts and I got all but one off.  The last one was not wanting to come off.  As I was about ready to give up, our good friend showed up to help!  I didn’t know it, but Joel had already called him and asked if he could stop by since he was just a few minutes away.  He helped us finish changing the tire and off we went to church, 30 minutes late!

I get there and realize Harvey fell asleep.  A 3 year old with a 20 minute nap is no good.  I took a very cranky boy in the church.  Melt down. Nothing was right.  He was just mad.  I finally got him to stay in his class just in time to hear the sermon.  As I sat down I realized that in the madness Harvey had wiped his glazed donut all over my black shirt- oh well, I was just glad to be hearing the sermon!  The final song was about to wrap up when someone taps my shoulder “Harvey pooped in his pants” WHY?  Harvey….. Why?  He does so good, until he doesn’t.  Any way, potty training is stupid. the end.


If we go back to when I got in the van this morning, there was a smell.  I addressed it- told the husband what I thought it was and he said to come by after church and we would take the seats out and find the source.  So that is what we did.  He pulled the seats out, vacuumed and found nothing.  I got in with some cleaner to really detail it since the seats were out.  I had already told him I was sure I knew what the smell was, but as I cleaned, it was confirmed.  I found mouse poop.  IN MY VAN.  Are you kidding me?  Where have we moved?  We have lived a lot of places and I have never in my life had so many mouse issues.  Is moving an option? I mean before we buy land again can I get a mouse survey?


So, after taking off panels, finding a LIVE baby mouse IN MY VAN, taking off my wheel, 3 hours of searching, the dead mouse is still in there somewhere.  Why?  I mean seriously?  Who has mice living in the panel in their car?  Of course, I do!  UGH!  I don’t even know what to say.  My little kids loved the baby mouse and wanted to bring it home as a pet.  They squealed with excitement and kept saying “mommy its so cute!”  As I die inside just a little.  At what point will they both loose the “its so cute” attitude and turn into “oh my gosh there is a LIVE mouse in my car”?


Just a few short weeks ago, I had a similar Sunday with all kinds of crazy things.  Honestly, that Sunday had a Harvey poop incident, a dead mouse (in the camper), and a flooding situation.  The Sunday’s in between have been crazy too.  I use to love Sundays.  Jesus, friends, family, food….. But now it seems like Sundays are more like poop, mice, and madness…..

Friends, I don’t know if my life is just that crazy, or maybe It is just that I don’t know the right people and others have just as many crazy things happen,  But here is my plea- if your life is full of crazy “incidents” that when you tell others they all look at you crazy and laugh, asking why weird things are always happening to you, please raise your hand, leave a comment, something!  We can start some sort of support group.  I keep wondering if maybe God is like “Hello, Mrs. Meinardus, I am obviously giving you really good material to work with!  Write it down, make lots of money with these crazy stories!” Or maybe He just likes to laugh!  If it wasn’t my life, I would totally be laughing!