Sometimes.

Sometimes I get these urges to write that stop me in my tracks. Like now, when I should be studying but I can’t. Because there are words and stories in my head begging to be let out.

Questions I wrestle with, like should I say yes to that thing I haven’t answered yet? Have I been a good enough wife? Why did I bite my lip and talk through my teeth at my kids this morning?

People I see and can’t help but wonder: what’s their story?  How do they feel and how have they hurt and do they know Jesus? Passerbyers in the coffee shop and in Target and driving down the road. It’s almost like I feel them, and for a second I get a glimpse of the answer, but then I move on.

What will my legacy be when I leave this Earth, and did I love well? Did I love well consistently or only when it was comfortable? How will people remember me when I’m gone and did I ever hurt them in ways I was unaware of?

When will I get the urge to finish all those projects I started and never finished? Like, sorting the kids’ artwork from the last 7 years into those fun albums my mother-in-law gave me, and finishing the gallery wall I started?

Why don’t we travel more as a family? And why is waking up to exercise so stinkin’ hard some (most) days?

Sometimes I stay in a place of recollection and I think back to the times when I’ve stifled my daughters God-given uniqueness in a selfish attempt to get my way. When I’ve silenced them and been too self-absorbed to see that they were only expressing themselves as the beautiful tiny humans that they are. When will I learn that these are the moments to savor in life, and give them grace to be children?

On other days, I am present to the point of pausing. I find myself breathing slowly, talking less and observing all that is beautiful around me. I see my children play together and imagine and create and fall and laugh and boss each other around and I feel complete. Whole. I feel peace.

I have come to learn and accept that routines serve me well. That my soul craves predictability and it’s almost freeing in a sense to be bound to a pattern. Like my soul knows what’s next and there is freedom to do the thing without feeling pressured to do the thing.

That the balance and rhythm I have found with working part-time is kind of like when I was a stay-at-home-mom trying to build a network marketing team. There are pockets in my day of meaningful contribution to a greater mission than my own (that would be my job, which for the record, is such a blessing and a gift to me – for the first time in my life I wake up and say I get to go to work today rather than I have to go to work today. It’s a game-changer, people). And deeper pockets in that same day spent contributing to the lives of the tiny humans God blessed me to care for. Seeing the joy on their faces when their school day has ended. Watching Sadler do her homework and witnessing her growth right before my very eyes.

How my word for 2019 — intentional — has played out. And is still playing out.

Intentionally taking off the notifications from my phone. Ohmygracious the visual peace on my  home screen and the elimination of distractions in my day – joy and magic for real, y’all.

Deleting Facebook. And only wishing I had it back when I wanted to sell something on Marketplace. Aside from that, I haven’t missed a single second of it.

Making a habit of washing my face and moisturizing it before bedtime every night. Yes, believe it or not, I did not do that for 36 years. Gross, yes. Ridiculous, yes. But true, also yes.

Choosing books over TV. And choosing to read books that grow me, push me, awaken me, feed me. Realizing that what goes in our mind’s eye is what comes out of our mouth, because that’s what gets down into our heart. The bible tells us to guard it for a reason.

There is a ton of room in the margin for me to be intentional about much, much more. There’s time yet. But what I do know is the good just gets better when I put a little effort into showing up with intention.

And to tie this rambling up with a bow: here are things I love in this season…ok, maybe some of them I have loved forever.

The beach. The Enneagram. A big soft blanket. Hot tea. The farmer’s market on Saturday mornings. Plants in my house. Sunrises. Mandolin Orange. Sitting by a fire (soon enough). Hearing my kids laugh. Sadler’s homemade jokes. My husband’s smile. Reading the gospels. The Lazy Genius’s Change Your Life Chicken. The thought of taking a morning run every  morning.

There’s always something to be grateful for.

xo,

Candice

Experience the things.

This summer while in Barbados, Reid and I were inspired when we heard someone say they gave their kids an experience for their birthday, rather than buying them a gift to unwrap. With Sadler’s 7th birthday right around the corner, I put a plan in motion.

She loves rocks. Both our girls do. In fact, they’ll pick up driveway gravel and swear it’s a crystal, toting it around in their pocket and forgetting about it until it ends up in the washing machine and I give it back to them.

I Googled the best places for gem mining in the NC mountains and we decided to go to Hendersonville. Searching for an Airbnb in Hendersonville returned few options, but I was immediately and repeatedly drawn to this one . So, I booked it.

I think leading up to the trip, Sadler was most excited for alone time with Reid and I. Having more than one child is a beautiful thing, but it became seemingly easy for us over the last 3.5 years to lose sight of Sadler as an individual. Admittedly, I was very much looking forward to time alone with her.

The back seat of the truck is much quieter with only half our crew back there. She read. She watched movies. She gazed out the window at the mountain landscapes. No one to bicker with. No one to compete with our affection. Just her.

Our hosts were most accommodating. We arrived and they were waiting to hand us the key. Their poodle, Kai, greeted us with so much excitement as we exited the truck to stretch our legs.

We explored the property for a bit with the homeowners and I found myself in awe of Sadler’s bravery. Her zeal for adventure. Her heart to explore and run and be free.

There were baby frogs everywhere, and Sadler made it her mission to pick up every single one she could while exploring this 150 acres of heaven.

Don’t let the name fool you; although the Airbnb link calls it “Zirconia”, we’d learn soon enough that we were in Tuxedo. And that only recently in the 1990s did the postal service even recognize this area with addresses. The homeowners refused to called it Zirconia. Was and always will be Tuxedo to them.

For dinner we drove 20 miles “into town” and discovered that Hendersonville is a precious place. It offers a Mayberry feel and dinner at Never Blue didn’t disappoint.

I slept better than I’ve slept in weeks. Since our two bedrooms were on opposite ends of the house, Sadler chose her Daddy to sleep with her and I had a room all to myself. With the windows open, the midnight storm put me right into tranquility. The breezes were scented with mountain air and they were perfect.

In true travel fashion, I peeked my head out the window to see the sunrise. Unfortunately, it rose behind us, so I enjoyed some extra sleep. Reid and I had coffee and quiet outside facing the mountains while Sadler slept.

We enjoyed fresh baked muffins, fruit and OJ from our hosts and grabbed our fishing poles. Sadler has never been fishing before. It wasn’t her thing. The bass were biting, and Reid and I each caught a couple. Meanwhile, Sadler held a frog…the entire time. I’m not sure how long it took her to figure out that it took its last breath while tucked away in her sweaty palm, but we had a moment as we placed it in the water to float away and blessed its little life and time with Jesus that it would soon receive.

The homeowners graciously took us on yet another trek around their land, pointing out which mushrooms were edible, all the variations of wild orchid, and telling us about the history of the land. We were very surprised to learn that most of their guests opt not to explore. I highly recommend it if you visit yourself. They are kind and willing and honestly seemed honored to show us around.

We hiked through this temperate rainforest (literally) to discover a waterfall. The sounds of nature humming and buzzing and moving around presented peace in every sense of the word. Sadler was fearless as she hopped over downfallen trees, stretched over the water from rock to rock and followed our leader with intent and grace. I became overwhelmed with emotion watching her and loved every minute.

Soon enough, we’d be back at the house packing our stuff to check out and head to the gem mines. It only took a few minutes of watching before Sadler was an expert at sifting through the dirt to pull out her treasures. She loved every minute.

I didn’t get a picture of her final finds, and only took videos of her sifting through them. But trust me when I say, it was well worth the drive to experience this with her. Elijah Mountain Gem Mining did not disappoint.

I hope that Reid and I have started a tradition. Birthdays come with so much stuff (that we are very grateful for) and our girls already have more than they need. Why not experience this beautiful life with them instead? Why not travel and try new things and make memories. It blessed our whole family, indeed.

Your life is a gift, Sadler Mae. Thank you for your heart and the way you love others. Thank you for your kindness and teachable spirit. What a blessing you are to so many. It’s an honor to be your mama.

Real Talk.

Parenting is hard. Such a short sentence packed with so much truth and vulnerability…

Before I begin, let me say that I am beyond grateful for both of my children. As a woman who was told “children won’t be likely”, I can assure you that not a day goes by that I don’t thank God for them. I often look into their eyes and feel awe and a sense of wonder and feel just downright lucky that they are mine to care for. I often get a lump in my throat when I think about how far we’ve come.

Soon after Sadler was born almost 7 years ago, someone told me, “if parenting is easy, you aren’t doing it right.”

Reid and I have been in a season with Everly lately that has tested every bit of patience we’ve prayed for and has aroused every ounce of fear hiding in the shadows of my mind that say, “You’re not doing enough”, “You’re not a good mom.”, “You’ll never measure up.” Yes, we know what happens when you pray for patience. You don’t get patience, you get opportunities to *be patient*. And I have not passed all the tests.

There’s an ebb and flow of emotion, where I find myself smiling while encapsulated in their voices and stories one moment, and biting my lip in a fit of anger in the next. In the blink of an eye, it all seems to go awry sometimes.

Thankfully, there is an awareness that continues to sweep over me and I catch myself often before this happens. But it still happens from time to time, and lately it’s been happening almost every night at bedtime.

I will be the first to admit that mornings at 5AM when the house is quiet and I can sit in stillness and peace, I’m at my best. But bedtime has come to be the part of the day that I absolutely dread. I literally anticipate whats to come and work myself up to thinking it will be different this time. And by the time we are ready to say our prayers, I’m literally crying as I ask for forgiveness for losing my temper.

Tonight at gymnastics, I talked about our 3-year-old bedtime tantrums with a fellow mama/friend/family member —one who happens to have *double* the amount of children we do and often comes to mind when I feel like *I’ve* got a lot on my plate. (She literally is my parenting hero.) We swapped stories and laughed as we shared book titles that have been recommended to us through the years. It was encouraging to be reminded that we aren’t alone, and to also be validated in our thinking that whomever dubbed the “terrible twos” as the hardest part of toddlerhood got it WAY WRONG.

Tonight after dinner, a wave of peace and confidence came over me. Bath (shower) time was actually enjoyable rather than a fight. We sang. We laughed. We acted silly.

I decided to read one my all time favorites to them, “The Velveteen Rabbit”. They recently watched the movie so Sadler was eager to spot the differences between the book and the movie. Everly assisted with turning the pages and we made it about 3/4 the way through before I could tell they were getting sleepy. We decided we’d finish it tomorrow night, said our prayers and tucked in for bed.

As I read my favorite part of the book, I couldn’t help but think how God is using this season of my life to make something real out of me. Yes, my outward appearance may be wearing down in the making, and I may feel tired and defeated at the end of a day, but he’s awakening my heart and bringing me to life.

It’s easy to think when we scroll through social media that those people and families we see “have it all together”. That their lives are only made up of what is shown in the pictures they post. That they are perfectly designed so they won’t break and are full of knowledge of things and places, much like those toys The Skin Horse refers to.

Maybe you look at me and think I’m all put together, too. I am here to tell you that I am most certainly not. I am fragile, I break easily and sometimes my edges are sharp. But if there is one thing I’ve learned to be true, God uses all things for good for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28) Ever so slowly, He is turning me into something real and full of life, and that takes time.

I know I will look back on these moments with my kids and laugh. That I will miss the simplicity of bedtime struggles when life hands me something new in another season.

I am optimistic that just sharing this story with you will free me from expectations tomorrow night and will give me a new perspective when I’m faced with a bedtime challenge. I am thankful that even amidst the struggle, there is always a shimmer of beauty amongst the strife.

As I snuck upstairs to snap a pic of these pages in the book, there they lay. Sound asleep. Peaceful. Content. Quiet. The light from the bedside table looked like the view from inside a diamond as it gleamed around the room.

We’ve got much to be thankful for.

10 Things No One Told Me Before Having a Baby

This post won’t be for the faint at heart. Or for people who don’t like hearing (or talking) about bodily fluids, pregnancy and childbirth. If that’s you, I warned you.

If that’s not you, and you have a curious and open mind to the best mama advice I’ve got, I hope you enjoy the next 4 minutes of your life as you read over this list. And maybe share it with a friend who needs it. Lord knows I wish somebody had told me all this stuff.

Secret # 1:

Your blood pressure will drop significantly after the baby is born and YOU WILL BE FREEZING COLD. I recall being in a hoodie and sweatpants underneath 2 blankets in July, sitting in our leather recliner with my 4 day old baby. It was super strange.

Secret # 2:

If you have a C-section, it’s totally normal to pass a blood clot the size of a cantaloupe. I literally pulled the emergency cord in the hospital bathroom because I thought my liver fell into the toilet. When the nurse came running in to see if I was dying, she explained all this with that “Bless your heart” look about her. I didn’t find it very funny at the time, but will admit I felt much better after freeing this mass of dried blood from my body. Not to mention, several of my husbands MALE coworkers were in the hospital room and heard the whole thing happen. Kind of them to show up with Chick-Fil-A? Yes. Would I have preferred to experience that alone? Most definitely.

Secret # 3:

Breastfeeding is REALLY hard in the early days. But it gets easier after 2 weeks. The desire to throw in the towel will come early on, but if you set small goals to just make it through one feeding at a time, before you know it you’ll be on your way to painless, beautifully enjoyable and bonding nursing sessions with your tiny human. Lean on your support (by support I mean, all those friends you have that have done it before, ask them. Women who breastfed their babies usually LOVE to talk about their experience and will help you in a skinny minute). Have tons of grace with yourself. If the lactation consultant tells you to try a different position, trust them. If they suggest you try the nipple shield, try it. If your nipple looks like a tube of lipstick when the baby stops drinking, you’re doing it wrong and they can help with that. Trust me, it hurts like hell to keep letting them make lipstick nipples out of you.

Secret # 4:

Postpartum depression is NO JOKE. Be vigilant about noticing changes in your emotions and make sure your partner is aware enough to recognize changes in your mood and behavior, too. Locking yourself in the bathroom to cry with a newborn in your arms is OK, even if you have a house full of people waiting to hold the baby. But staying in there all day and doing it again the next day could mean it’s time to call your doc. Placenta encapsulation was a game-changer for me the second time around. If you have considered this, my advice is: It’s the best $200 you will ever spend on yourself. Just don’t forget to tell the nurses you want to keep your placenta. They may throw it out pretty quickly otherwise.

Secret # 5:

With regard to #4, saying NO to visitors is OK and encouraged. It’s a big life adjustment and you need all the alone time with the new human you just pushed out that you can possibly get. I am pretty sure my precious Grandparents are still upset with me because they were at our house in the driveway when we pulled up with our first baby six years ago. Grateful that they were there with lunch and cared enough to come visit? Of course I was. But having time to get in and get settled would have been nice, too. I’d have been much more engaged and present during their visit had it been just a few hours later. I had no idea what I was doing as a parent and had literally just been cut open from hip bone to hip bone 3 days before. (Love you Granny and Papa – please forgive me for seeming ungrateful. I promise I was just trying to figure out my new life and needed some space.)

Secret # 6:

Sleep when the baby sleeps. Everyone says that, I know. And it kind of sounds like annoying advice before you actually have the baby, but it really is true. While I was on maternity leave, I was slightly delusional to think I’d craft like Martha Stewart, start a business, and have a hot dinner on the table for my husband every day when he came home from work. I was lucky if I showered every other day and yoga pants and maternity tanks were the only laundry I had to worry about for myself. For 3 months.

Secret # 7:

If you have a C-section, you may experience the most gruesome pain AFTER you get home. I remember for at least a week after coming home from the hospital, every time I would sit down on the toilet to pee, a terrifying pain would shoot from my tailbone up to the middle of my back. The first time it happened I literally wailed as if I was being stabbed. It happened 2 dozen more times but seemed to lessen in severity over a week or so. I was told this was an after effect of the spinal block given to numb me before the incision, but I didn’t expect it. (I could see how an epidural would cause this also, but it didn’t happen to me with my second delivery.)

Secret # 8:

If you are fortunate enough to exclusively breastfeed your baby, know that it’s normal for them to go several days without pooping. And when they do poop, be ready. Hot, yellow, vinegary mess of a load it will be. But no need to be alarmed if a week passes between BMs. The way it was explained to me: breastmilk is so nutritious, there is very little waste for them to get rid of. Their bodies use almost all of your milk.

Secret # 9:

When you change their diaper, if you use a changing table, alternate the direction you lay them each time. They will naturally want to look at you while you change them, and if you lay them the same way ever time, you run the risk of causing their head to flatten on one side. Using the couch or bed and laying them directly in front of you works well, too.

Secret # 10:

When you go into labor, it may feel like you have to poop. With my second, I woke up at 3AM, rolled my giant body out of bed and waddled to the bathroom “to poop”. And then 20 minutes later…again. And then 10 minutes later… again. After an hour, I texted my husband who was sleeping upstairs because I was beyond the point of being an enjoyable bed partner, to tell him I thought I was in labor. After pacing laps around our living room and kitchen for another hour, my water broke and we had s baby soon after.

Don’t let any of this stuff freak you out. Having a baby is the greatest miracle I’ve ever known. It’s all worth it in the end, I promise.

How Sadler Got Her Groove Back (And, Her Name)

Sometimes, parenting is really hard. Sometimes, it’s like looking in the mirror at our selves. Tonight offered one of those nights and I’d be remiss if I didn’t document the memory.

Sadler (my 6 1/2 year old daughter) is very sensitive. It doesn’t take much for her to cry, and it can come on quickly. Ask her to please move over and share the sink space with her sister while brushing her teeth, she may cry. Ask her not to fuss at her sister for taking a snack she had her eyes set on, she may cry. Tell her she has to go to the dentist for a teeth cleaning, she WILL cry. Ask her to give back a toy that she took from her sister, she may cry.

All of the above happened today alone.

After the dentist and before the chiropractor, we had an hour or so to spare, so I took the girls to my office so that I could get some work done. It’s times like that when having 2 cell phones with You Tube Kids is something I actually appreciate, and a giant white board with lots of fun colored dry erase markers for drawing and practicing Eureka math comes in handy. They were content for a little over an hour and it was quite nice if I am being honest; I was able to get a good bit done. But toward the end of the hour, I turned and looked behind me and noticed something Sadler had written on the white board.

“I am sad and want sum won to macke me happy so I won’t be sad.” She had even taken it an extra step and drawn a perfectly shaped broken heart under these words. Alas, in black marker.

In that moment, I tickled her, asked her why she was sad and she was cheered up in no time it seemed. But flash forward to bath time a few hours later when she cried for being asked to give her sister back the toy, and I may have overreacted.

“Sadler, you seem to be sad an awful lot lately and cry for no good reason.
You’re using a whole lot of good energy and wasting tears. Why are you so sad?”

I brought up the note she wrote on the white board earlier in the day and told her that people don’t “make us sad”. That we have a choice to be sad or to be happy and that sometimes (or a lot of the time), our feelings can trick us into going to a place in our minds that we shouldn’t go. I told her that while it’s okay to feel sad or to feel mad or to feel embarrassed, we shouldn’t build a house there — we can’t stay sad or mad or embarrassed forever.

Fast forward to bedtime. Tonight’s books chosen to read: On the Night You Were Born and Where Ever You Are My Love Will Find You by Nancy Tillman. (Side note: I am beyond grateful that when our family hosted a beautiful baby shower for us before Sadler was born, they requested guests to bring a signed book rather than a card. Oh, the book collection we started before this child was even born! And a shout-out to my dear friends Melissa and Nicole for gifting us those 2 precious books – xoxo)

As we were reading On The Night You Were Born, after I read the words “You are a miracle…” she said, “Hey Mommy, what’s a miracle?”
“A miracle is something that happens that you thought never would. Something that only God knows how and why it happened. And you’re MY miracle.”
She furrowed her brow.
“Mommy’s doctor told her once that my body wasn’t working like it should and I would never be able to have my own kids.”
Her eyes lit up.
“Well, that sounds like a pretty silly doctor. And that’s pretty cool. My friend Miracle has the same name as a miracle,just like my name means that I’m sad.”

I may have stopped breathing for a second. Or maybe my heart stopped beating for just a tiny bit. I don’t know. But I knew I had to stop reading to straighten up a few things for her. My spirit was crushed that my little girl had taken her name and labeled herself as sad, and I was crushed to think that she actually believed it.

“Sadler, has Mommy ever told you where your name came from?”
Grins. “No. But tell me.”
“When Mommy got pregnant with you and found out you would be a girl, I asked GaGa what her Mommy’s name was. And her name was Cecilia Sadler. The moment I heard it, I knew that would be your first name. And my Mama Dot’s name was Dorothy Mae, so that’s how you became Sadler Mae Terrell.”

She smiled, a big smile. And then she wanted to know how her sister got her name. I told her that I had a friend in college who named her daughter Everly and I just loved the name, but that Everly’s middle name (Jean) came from Great Granny Betty (Betty Jean), GaGa (Debra Jean), my aunt Linda Jean who lives in heaven and Ga Ga’s daddy (Gene) who also lives in heaven.

“Mommy, Everly and me are SO LUCKY.”

“You sure are, my sweet girl.”

That moment will be one I never forget for as long as I live.
The joy I saw in her eyes as she listened attentively to her namesake was precious in every way. And the realization that she’d never have to identify herself as “sad Sadler” ever again, for now she knew the truth about how she came to be Sadler Mae.

We talked about how she could respond if someone made fun of her name and called her “Sad” — and boy is she ready! She repeated back to me (almost verbatim) what I told her, and even remembered that a “silly doctor told Mommy that her body was broken and she couldn’t have a baby, but she did.”

What a miracle you are, Sadler Mae.
What a blessing you are to your Daddy and I.
What an incredible big sister you are to Everly Jean.
What a gigantic heart you have.

You think you’re lucky. You have no idea how lucky I feel that God chose me to be your mama.

And as I tucked the girls in and we said our prayers, I asked her what she wanted to pray for:
“For Daddy to get home safely tonight and not to have mud on his shoes.
For me to never have to eat mushrooms again because I don’t like them.
And for God to give me a brother or a sister.”

Oh, dear.