Thanks To Vegas

I spent this morning praying the same thing over and over: Lord, what do I do?

In the wake of yet another confusing, terrifying, heart shattering tragedy, I’m left empty-handed and full-hearted, longing to know how to make a difference for those who are grieving, even as I grieve.

I log into Facebook to see the instant politicization of these lost lives.

Gun control! One side chants.

Anything can be a weapon! The other responds.

I am tempted to respond. Tempted to take my stance. Tempted to try and solve the problem, yet again.

I’m a student of the human mind & the human system. These attacks leave me desperate to understand. Desperate to fix it. Desperate to see us all come to a common place of sorrow & compassion.

Instead I see people tearing at each other, condemning each other. I see politicians using these events as a platform. I see justifications and racist media representations of the aggressor & exploitation of the victims. I see traumatic videos shared callously with empty, emoji ridden captions.

I want to throw up & scream & cry & hold the hand of Jesus.

So today, I prayed. & I got an answer.

I am fighting a battle that’s already been won. I’m fighting against a world that’s already so broken only One can fix it, & He already has.. the time just hasn’t come to see it fulfilled yet.

I’ve struggled with feeling like my faith is a cop-out. I fear being seen as complacent, I fear losing my sense & drive for justice. So I share information & reminders, I write about my convictions, & I hope my words don’t fall on deaf ears. But in the end, I can’t change anyone. I can’t prevent mass shootings. I can’t prevent people driving others down. I can’t prevent people being stabbed. I can’t prevent rape. I can’t prevent poverty. I can’t prevent police brutality. Yet, I have poured my energy into attempting to fix these things, so much so that I’ve had none left to pour into doing the most important thing there is: loving others.

It was seeing so many people searching for their family member or friend that made me realize I never know if I’ll be the last unfriendly face someone sees. I have no control over the last moments of someone’s life — but I have control over the moments I leave in someone’s life. What if I’m the angry person honking my horn at someone on the freeway because they didn’t merge fast enough and they are hit by a drunk driver on their way home? What if I’m the irritated customer rushing my cashier who is killed by her abusive boyfriend when she gets home late from her shift? What if I’m the sour face in the waiting room before the other patient passes away from surgery complications?

These people will never care about my social media campaigns for safe driving, for domestic violence advocacy, for better health care. But in those small moments, they’ll care that I didn’t take the same amount of time to share a meme as to make an effort to look at the bigger picture and let go of my own frustrations and give grace. Give love.

Thanks to Vegas, I’m done with politics. I’m done with spending my energy trying to convince others to change. I’m done trying to fix a world that’s out of my control.

I’m just going to love hard. Im going to smile and encourage my cashier, the stranger next to me in the produce aisle, the lady sitting next to me at the doctor’s office. I’m going to let go of my need to be everywhere doing everything at once & breathe.

We’ve been told to live like every moment is our last.

But what if we lived like every moment is the last for those around us?

Thanks to Vegas, I’m going to try.

xoxo, B

A Mother's Worst Fear: When Everyone Knows You Failed

Unless you live under a rock, you’ve certainly heard about the tragedy at the Cincinatti Zoo over the weekend, where a gorilla was shot so a small child could be rescued.

There have been many different eyewitness accounts {which, if you know anything about criminology you know eyewitness accounts are the least reliable source of evidence} of what actually happened and who is actually to blame, but I’m not here to talk about who is or isn’t at fault and what should be done about the situation. There are plenty of other articles and discussions on social media about it. I have my own personal feelings about the incident, but those don’t matter now.

A gorilla is dead and a child is safe.

Whatever could have been, this is what is, and it’s time to move forward.

So what am I here to talk about?

The tragedy of a mother put on public trial on social media.

Full disclosure: I did agree that the mother played a part in what happened and that she should have been held accountable in some way for the accident. But then I started to think about what I would have done if it was me. What if the unthinkable happened? What if I was flustered and overwhelmed and hot and was answering my child out of habit instead of intention?

I don’t know about you, but I say “no” out of habit when I hear my child ask a question more often than not. Half the time I don’t even know exactly what she’s asking, I just know that whatever she wants doesn’t fit in the scope of what we are doing.
When I started reading the comments of people saying the mother should have been shot too, that her children should be taken away, that she was an idiot and should never have had children, all I could think was: oh no.

The zoo will get another gorilla. The child will forget the accident by his fourth birthday. The siblings will most likely see it fade as well. But will this mother ever get over seeing her name plastered all over the Internet with the horrible things people have to say about her?

As mothers, we try, harder than we can ever show, to give our children the best lives. We read until 2 am, books and articles that promise to make us the best mothers we can be. We cry over jabs from our peers over our parenting choices and every mistake haunts us like little ghosts that live in our closets and make us wonder how these little lives will ever survive our parenting. We battle enough condemnation in our small circles, can you even imagine what you would do if faced with it on a national level?

When a mother makes a mistake, everything about her character is called into question. When a dad makes a mistake, when a grandmother makes a mistake, when a babysitter makes a mistake it’s often brushed off as a one-time accident. But when a mother makes a mistake, it negates every good thing she’s ever done.

Michelle Gregg took her children to the zoo that day for fun. I’m sure that she fed them breakfast, dressed them, helped them comb their hair. I bet she strapped them into their car seats properly and planned to get some good pictures of everyone enjoying learning about the different animals. I’m sure that in days past, she kissed boo-boos, shooed away monsters under the bed, and prayed hard that she was doing the right thing. I’m sure that she did everything I’ve ever done, and that she never once imagined that she would be a household name over one mistake.

Here’s the thing: I may not know this mother, but I know what it is to be a mother. I know the heartache and the struggle. But I also know the joys… I know the sweet feeling of my child’s arms around my neck when I’m laying her to bed, the sweet smell of her hair after a bath when we read a story, the sweet sound of her voice singing to me as I do dishes. Too often I feel those joys are outweighed by the sorrows I face as I fail daily to be the mom I want to be.

So how is it fair for any of us to judge a mother for the ONE mistake we can see? We have to stop defining every other mother by the accidents we see on the news. We have to stop shoving those mothers to the front of the battle lines so they can take all the criticisms and hatred that we hope we never have to face. We have to stop linking arms against the mother who failed and ostracizing her from our social circles because everyone can see her dirt… All the while knowing ours is just swept under a rug.

Beloved mamas everywhere — we are more than this. We are stronger than this. We have to stop being so afraid of failure that we vilify anyone who reminds us just how possible it is. Because we all fail, every day. It’s not when or how that defines us as mothers, it’s how we rebuild. And I would hope, should I ever be that mother on the news, that I would find a community that would help me pick up my scattered dreams of motherhood and remind me that I’m still good enough.

xoxo, B

Muffins & Musings

Last night, I decided to try a new muffin recipe {thanks Pinterest!} As a quick and healthy breakfast for my on-the-go toddler. I have always loved baking and fall brings out my inner Betty Crocker. Our house nearly always smells like something cinnamon-y in the oven or something savory in the crockpot from September – Christmas {my favorite season}. I love the staple muffin recipes from my childhood {tiny does too} but recently it’s been a struggle to find a muffin that has enough substance to curb Tiny’s hunger. This girl can eat her way through a cupboard in a day. We’ve tried a variety of veggie and fruit muffins and though they have all been well received, none of them have seemed to hold their own, and usually end up being consumed with some cottage cheese, fruit, and the kitchen sink.

So, you can imagine how delighted I was when I found this recipe for “peanut butter banana oatmeal muffins”. I was promised a sweet, healthy, filling muffin, and boy did these deliver. Not only were all three of Tiny’s food groups in one mini muffin {I don’t joke, this girl could live off of pb, bananas, and cinnamon oatmeal}, but she was full after two and an egg. Don’t get me wrong — if she wants to eat the kitchen sink I will feed it to her! But mornings are tough on me lately and it was a godsend to have these fresh on the counter, ready to go.

I made some big kid size too, which were a hit with my husband {forget the kitchen sink, he eats the whole room} on his midnight break. I also had one with my morning cup of French press and um, yum. I make my coffee properly {read: very, very strong}, so this muffin was an excellent companion. The fact that they aren’t made with any oil also helped me justify the heavy lather of butter I added!

A couple personal notes on the recipe:

The recipe says it makes 12 large muffins. It made 12 regular size and 18 mini size.

I strongly suggest using muffin cups for these. Usually I just grease up a pan with coconut oil, which I did use for my mini pan, and I’m good to go. These muffins are so moist and sticky that they are hard to remove and keep intact when removed from a greased pan.

The recipe calls for overripe bananas, but if you’re like me and can’t wait, semi-ripe bananas work just as well. The muffin was very sweet so I can only imagine how much sweeter it would be with mushy bananas. If you do decide to use overripe, I would recommend cutting the brown sugar down to a half cup.

I substituted whole wheat flour over white for some extra protein.

This recipe is beautifully versatile. It provides a great base for a filling muffin and could be made into really anything. I’m planning to try these again with some applesauce and apple chunks, and maybe even try it with some mini chocolate chips…

I highly recommend you try this recipe! I’m always interested in hearing what you think, so if you try them please let me know.

And now to part two.

One of the beautiful things about making food {in my opinion} is the time you have to just think. I love this line from Julie and Julia:

“You know what I love about cooking? I love that after a day when nothing is sure and when I say nothing, I mean nothing. You can come home and absolutely know that if you add egg yolks to chocolate and sugar and milk, it will get thick. That’s such a comfort.”

There’s a certainty to what you’re doing that allows your mind to wander — and for me, to relax. So, last night, as I mixed all those ingredients, I was also thinking about my home and what it means to be a homemaker.

Recently I’ve been told that I have made my life look too rosy on social media. To be honest, I’m not even quite sure what that means, but let me assure you: my life is nowhere near perfect. But it is beautiful. My life is beautiful, not because I always know how to make it so and definitely not because it is easy, but because god created it and he has taught me to look for the beauty in all things. Recently, life has been tough. Our “brand new” hybrid needs a new battery which will cost us close to three thousand dollars. Every penny of our savings for Christmas and part of our credit card will have to be used to replace it. To say that was a devastating blow is an understatement. This comes after a long string of financial burdens, many inconclusive doctors’ appointments, my husband getting a second job, family turmoil, and a messy, messy house that never seems to get organized. So no, my life is not perfect. But — I am being perfected. Is it easy to make light of things and mislead people when we share the highlights of our lives on social media? Absolutely. We see it all the time with celebrities. But there has to be an understanding that it is important to share the highlights of our lives with people. The truth is, I share the best parts of my life to celebrate them. I share them to show god’s grace and healing in my life. I share them to show my story as it moves forward. I share them because the other things can get too big and overtake my heart if I talk about them.

I’m not sharing to compare my life to anyone else. The only person whose life I want to compare mine to is Jesus and I’m nowhere near being on par with him. So please know as I’m writing this, I have piles of laundry on both couches. Two suitcases that need to be unpacked. I have makeup all over my bathroom sink. My living room rug has goldfish crumbs from yesterday’s lunch and it’s covered in pieces of puzzles from my happy, busy toddler {who just passed out for her nap after pushing boundaries all morning}.

Only by grace does my life stay held together. Recently, my husband has started praying over me while I’m still half asleep before he goes to work. I can’t even begin to describe the difference it has made in my life. After years of muddling through my days and clinging to every positive second, I suddenly have energy and joy. I keep my temper in check, I gladly clean my house, and rejoice in the sticky hands grasped around my neck and the slobbery kisses planted on my cheeks. It is not because of me, let me tell you. My attitude can put Veruka Salt to shame some days. It’s only by the grace that AJ asks into our home that gets me through the day. It’s only through unconditional love that I stay sane. And it’s because of this that I choose to share my story.

So be blessed today, reader. May you feel god’s never ending grace and peace in your life as he shows you the highlights he has placed in your life. And I hope you love these muffins.

xoxo, B