We Like Kids, As Long As They Look Like Baby Gap Models

We Like Kids, As Long As They Look Like Baby Gap Models

In my fourteen months as a mother, I’ve observed that we, a society, generally don’t expect kids to act like kids.

In other words – we like babies, but only if they look like Baby Gap models.

Ideally, we want our babies to wear pin-able outfits, be immaculately clean, to only say cute things at appropriate items, and always be smiling with dimples. Yes, they must have dimples. We want to cuddle all the babies, but only if they are wearing pristine outlet store layettes, not covered in yogurt, and aren’t too obnoxious: throwing tantrums, slapping their sibling, making a mess.

Proof of the fact that we want kids to behave like mini-adults (only cuter) is by the way parents react to their children acting like children in public places. When a threenager flops on the floor and wails in Aisle 6, her mother feels compelled to ask loud enough for onlookers to hear, “Why are you doing that? Come on! You know better!”

Or when the mom profusely excuses the carrot-colored stains on her son’s clothes. “So sorry, we had lunch just before we came, he’s a little messy.”

We, the society of grown adults, need to accept reality. Kids act like kids.

I have a sneaking suspicion many moms and dads attempt to conjure a sort of parenting mirage for strangers in public. I can’t give you hard facts or figures, but I can give tons of anecdotal evidence. It’s a common occurrence to witness parents disciplining their children in pronounced ways, obvious enough that onlookers won’t think they’ve been lax in their parenting duties.

I’ve heard this phrase “let them be little” repeated a lot in the mommy blogging world lately. It’s a great reminder.

A kid might run around all day in his superhero outfit.

Heck, a kid may run around all day in only his diaper.

Is it really that big of a deal?

One day these tiny humans are going to have to deal with flat tires and bosses and mortgages.

Let them be little.

Don’t freeze up if a child you’re around cries or tantrums or throws food on you or does anything quantifiably un-adorable. Sometimes kids do look like Baby Gap models. And sometimes they just need to get out some good ol’ fashioned, messy, romp in the dirt kid energy.

Let them.

Okay, Fine. So Maybe I Can Be A Morning Person

Okay, Fine. So Maybe I Can Be A Morning Person

Historically, I’ve taken a bit of pride in the fact that I’m not a morning person.

You know morning people. The ones that wake up at 5am with sick, Cinderella-esque glee. Pretty sure that bluebirds bring them a cup coffee. “Good morning, Darling! Lovely to see you looking so chipper!”

Yeah. Those people. I’ve always been adamant that I’m not one of them.

Despite my assumed identity as an anti-morning person, my daily routine just wasn’t working out. My evenings were turning into Bible reading with glazed eyes and prayer that sounded a bit more like, “Father, Thank you for this beautiful day. Tonight, I bring before…Zzz…I bring before you a…Zzzzzzz…..” #crash #burn

Other nights I would find my work flow and hustle until I could barely keep my eyes open, only to collapse into bed too exhausted to talk to my husband, waking up grumpy and sluggish the next morning.

Something had to give.

Okay, Fine. So Maybe I Can Be A Morning Person Continue reading

Do you feel cold

Do You Feel Cold?

Do you feel cold?

I’m not talking bundling against freakish sub-zero temperatures.

I mean do you feel cold?

Is your heart chilly?

Has frostbite crept into your soul?

What to do when your soul feels cold.

Have you ignored a pain so long that it’s become numb?

Do you harbor bitter resentment toward a friend or situation? Toward God?

Why?

Tip an iceberg, dig beneath the surface.

Why are you shivering out in the elements?

What to do when your soul feels cold.

Ask the hard questions. Today.

Grab a pen and write like mad. Scream your answers to the sky.

But don’t look at yourself too long. When you find yourself shattered, invite the whitehot power of the Gospel into your life.

Confess that you can’t, but Christ did.

“Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:8-9)

If you’re feeling cold today, wrap yourself up in Christ.

The Life & Death of Mrs. Perfection

The Life & Death of Mrs. Perfection

Mrs. Perfection woke up precisely at 5:45am, as was her daily custom, and silenced her analog alarm clock. LED lights create bad sleeping habits, you know.

She drank one 12oz cup of coffee as instructed by her doctor, not a sip more, and ate a perfectly balanced breakfast. Not too much cholesterol, not too little protein.

She successfully completed thirty minutes of yoga, fifteen minutes of journaling, and ten minutes of scheduling before two sets of tiny feet pitter-pattered down the stairs.

Her children slurped their bowls of steel cut oats and drank hand squeezed orange juice at the seasonally coordinated kitchen table. Speaking of, they would have to visit the Farmer’s Market to purchase more oranges soon. She sent her CEO husband off to work with a kiss for now, and a knowing look for later. Their romance hadn’t so much as buckled after ten years and two children.

Breakfast consumed and cleared away, not that her children were terribly messy, Tuesday commenced.

Morning playtime and cuddles until ten. Not a smartphone in sight, Mrs. Perfection was perfectly discipled to focus entirely on her children. At ten-thirty, the trio walked down the block for their weekly playgroup. Mrs. Perfection placed her homemade gluten free muffins on the counter, a small token of hospitality. Mrs. Perfection never so much as raised her voice to the toddlers, and had only kind words to say to the mothers.

After playgroup came errands and after errands came naptime and after naptime came chores. Clockwork. Husband home from work at fifteen minutes past five, why would he want to linger at the office? Dinner served at half past six, delicious and nutritional. The children soaked up their baths and bedtime stories. Kisses goodnight from mom and dad, then mom and dad shared kisses of their own.

Mrs. Perfection laid her head on goose down pillows and fell asleep.

The next morning, Mrs. Perfection was perfectly dead.

My temptation is to believe that a perfectly ordered life is automatically a fulfilling one. Despite my often-felt frustration over not having a life that looks like Mrs. Perfection’s, I must remember that a meaningful life isn’t created in well-followed routines, no matter how lovely they look. Rather, a meaningful life is one that derives its meaning from Christ. I‘ve been reading Make It Happen by Lara Casey with The Influence Network book club. If you want to learn more about living on purpose, I invite you to grab a copy! Make it Happen: Surrender Your Fear. Take the Leap. Live On Purpose* is available wherever fine books are sold.) 

The Life & Death of Mrs. Perfection | Victoria Easter WilsonStock Photo via Lillie from Redeeming Love Photography

*affiliate link, thanks for helping me keep the lights on!

I feel Entitled. Yuck.

I Feel Entitled. Yuck.

There’s no pretty way to admit this, so I’ll come right out and say it: I feel entitled.

I’ve noticed the dissonance in my soul for months, but I’ve only recently put a name to it: entitlement.

Some people feel entitled to things because of who they are. My entitlement is based more on what I’ve done.

Motherhood, ever the sanctifying journey, was the magnifying glass that revealed this yuckiness in my heart. (Incidentally, I’m guest posting thoughts about motherhood for Jen Weaver today. Pay her a visit when you’ve finished here!)

You know how there’s a bit of truth in every joke?

I’ve made tons of lighthearted comments on social media over the past year about deserving a gift or accolade based on the hard work I’m doing mothering Carson. Recently, I made one such quip about push presents. Some of my friends laughed along with me, others pointed out how my daughter is present enough.

“Seriously!? She’s my thank you gift? Do you know how much work raising a child is? Having a baby is great and all, but I deserve a little something extra. I’ve earned it.”

Yuck. Yuck. Yuck.

I Feel Entitled. Continue reading

Good Things Give Me Jesus Journal from Life Lived Beautifully

Good Things: Give Me Jesus Journal from Life Lived Beautifully

Do you have a stack of journals piled somewhere in your house, spines balanced on top of each other every which way?

Then, like me, you can appreciate a good journal when you see one.

I’ve been through about 30 journals in 19 years (my early pages were full of scintillating details like, “Eit PopTarts for breakfast. They were gud. They are my favurite.”) My journals range from cheap notebooks purchased out of boredom to more prized books given as gifts.

Today, I’d like to introduce you to a new favorite journal of mine: the Give Me Jesus Journal from Life Lived Beautifully.Give Me Jesus Journal from Life Lived Beautifully

I was introduced to Life Lived Beautifully, an online shop run by Gretchen Saffles, via The Influence Network Podcast. If you want to be ridiculously encouraged in the Lord, listen to that episode. (Gretchen also was the inaugural interview of a new podcast called Project: On Purpose, if you can’t get enough of her!)

After hearing Gretchen talk so passionately about the Give Me Jesus Journal, I made a last second addition to my Christmas list. To my great delight, on Christmas morning it was waiting for me! (Thanks in-laws!!!)

This journal is perfect for a lot of reasons. For one, it’s beautiful. I’m not a designer, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve learned to appreciate how good design affects the way we use products. I want to take my time working through this journal because it deserves a kind of special care. More than looks, I find the Give Me Jesus Journal to be highly functional.

Give Me Jesus Journal

The journal begins with a simple heart check exercise. I like that this portion isn’t too exhaustive but, rather, propels you forward to Bible study. I’ve never enjoyed highly interactive journals. To me, they block the words that I need to get on paper. Gretchen hits the right balance in asking just enough questions to set the mood, but no more.

The Give Me Jesus Journal isn’t completely free-form, though. The draw of the journal is that it directs you towards intentional Bible study. The pages are broken up into sections, the primary of which are: Drink Deep From The Well, Ask & Apply, and Pray BIG. Along the way are little moments to encourage slow, intentional Bible reading. I love how the Give Me Jesus Journal offers just enough direction to keep me focused, but not too much that I’m focusing on man’s words rather than God’s.Give Me Jesus Journal

If you’re wondering about technical specs, I find the journal very well made and sturdy. The pages are nice and thick, which is great if you’re a scribbler like me. The journal is also a hearty size, you could easily read through a few smaller books of the Bible or one larger book with it.

Over the last several months, I’ve been challenged to study God’s word more seriously. Books like Women of the Word and blog posts like this one from Kristin Schmucker have been invaluable tools in teaching me how to approach the Bible responsibly. The Give Me Jesus Journal is a tool that has helped me put these sound Bible-study principles into practice.

Give Me Jesus Journal from Life Lived Beautifully 1

Full disclosure, Gretchen didn’t ask me to write this post, nor am I receving any kind of compensation sharing her product. I really just wanted to tell you about this journal! I did, however, contact Gretchen to ask if I could mention anything specifically in this post, and she graciously answered. She wanted to give you a head’s up that you can expect much more from LLB in the coming months. Gretchen announced a hashtag that will chronicle a life-long pursuit of becoming Well-Watered Women (#wellwateredwomen). She says we can expect more from this movement in 2015. She also says that she’s praying through and developing a Bible study on Esther. And it looks like an update of the Give Me Jesus Journal is in the works for Spring with a new cover and verses on the inside. If these updates weren’t enough excitement, Gretchen is due to join the mommy club in May! (Welcome, friend!)

Like I mentioned, I’ve destroyed loved many a journal in my time. I can’t recommend the Give Me Jesus Journal enough. This is a product that I would completely buy again for myself or for a friend. Studying God’s Word with thought and direction is vital to grasping the big picture of the Bible.

The Give Me Jesus Journal will help.Bible Study

To learn more about Gretchen and her work, visit LifeLivedBeautifully.com.

(FYI: This is the first in a new series of posts I’m calling Good Things. As you may have gathered, these posts will share products or services that I’m currently digging!)

gut-writing for God's glory

Gut-writing for God’s glory.

After thinking long and hard, I finally happened upon a tagline that describes my intentions for this space.

And by “thinking long and hard,” I mean polling my Facebook friends and Instagram followers.

It was very scientific.

Truthfully, it didn’t seem right to define my blog without y’all.

Together, we happened upon this phrase:

“Gut-writing for God’s glory.”

And I kind of love it.

I love it because it characterizes so much of what I want to be as a writer: memorable, shooting from the hip, gutsy, and God-honoring above all.

That’s not to say everything I write here will be explicitly Christian, in the sense of a devotional thought or life lesson, but I’ve made peace with the fact that I cannot write apart from my identity. And my identity is in Christ.

Other phrases may have worked, but Soul-writing was too airy and Heart-writing was far too touchy-feely. This isn’t a room with white linens and a summer’s breeze playing with the curtains. When I write, I feel my work in my gut. There’s a fire in my belly. It’s not always pretty, but it packs a punch. It tells the truth. Gut-writing.

Pretty Coffee

In doing some blogger soul-searching, I’ve pinpointed five categories that I like rooting around in: Faith, Life, Marriage, Motherhood, and Creativity. Gut-writing means I will approach each of these five categories with honesty and boldness. “You’ve got some of my Yankee moxy,” grandma tells me.

So I invite you to keep reading along, friends. Laugh with me, cry with me – shout at the top of your lungs if you need. I want to voice the human experience in such a way that makes you cry out, “Me too!” And if my writing hits a nerve, I want to immediately take that connection and proclaim the excellencies of Christ to you.

With the simple act of tacking down a blog tagline, I sense that my work is headed in a new direction. I am giddy, terrified, humbled. Mostly, I’m ready to write. And so I will.

How To Love On A New Mom

How To Love On A New Mom

When I was pregnant with Carson, I felt deep down in my swollen ankles that I was going to rock this motherhood gig.

After all, I dutifully scarfed down prenatal vitamins the size of a small buffalo everyday for nine months. Folic acid and I were tight. I slept on my left side, never sat in a recliner, and avoided deli meat like I avoided cocktails – altogether. I was planning a natural birth and did prenatal yoga. Thanks to religious Kegel exercises, my pelvic floor was in excellent shape. I was prepared for mom life.

Delivering Carson was rigorous work, hence the term ‘labor’, but even after that experience I felt pretty good about myself. Come on, I pushed a nine pound baby OUT OF MY WHOLE ENTIRE BODY without so much as a Tylenol. Fistbump.

Our hospital serves new parents a celebration dinner the night before they’re discharged. I distinctly remember nursing Carson with one hand, while indulgently taking a bite of cheesecake with the other. Motherhood was going to be bliss.

How To Love On A New Mom

Not 24 hours later I found myself quivering in a wheelchair, with a newborn baby strapped in carseat, all precariously balanced on my knees.

“Ma’am are you alright?” the nurse asked.

“Noooooo!” I whimpered in a gush of postpartum hormones, “I can’t do this. Please don’t make me leave. I’m not ready to be a mom.”

She looked down into my baggy, tired new-mommy eyes and smiled. (Smiled!?!?!?!?) “Oh, honey. Everyone says that. You’re going to be just fine.”

With that chipper benediction my bundle of joy and I were loaded into the car with no manual, no coffee, and no clue. Continue reading

When You're Brought Low

When You’re Brought Low

Low feels like being curled on your bathroom floor, hugging the toilet as if it’s your new best friend.

Low feels like explaining to your doctor all the embarrassing, gory details.

Low feels like lying awake at 2am, knowing you’ll be even more exhausted come morning.

Low feels like snapping at your husband, just after he gives you a kiss.

I want to walk with a can-do swagger, slinging a purse on my shoulder while I hike a baby up on my hip because I don’t need any help thankyouverymuch.

At least, I don’t need any help until I faceplant like a fool.

Y’all, I am so quick to rely on my own strength. I’ll beg and plead and pray and ask the Lord to put me back together. And He does. Then I pretend like I’m the one who did all the work. I won’t say it out loud (because that would be uncomfortably honest), but I give myself silent pats on the back. “Well done, Victoria! You’re really nailing this Christian/wife/mom/writer thing. You’re a rockstar!”

Why do I act immune to the grace that saved me?

When You're Brought Low

Low is my own personal reality check.

It’s not pretty, but it is necessary.

It’s not enjoyable, but it is sanctifying.

When you’re brought low you can see matters without the filter of “I’m fine.” 

Will I ever stop needing to be brought low before I look up? To gaze at the God whose grace saved me and sustains me. To “know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints.” (Ephesians 1:18)

If low is what it takes to keep me clinging to Christ, then I say, “Bring me lower, Lord.” 

I Didn't Marry My Dream Man

I Didn’t Marry My Dream Man

Ben and I celebrated our two year wedding anniversary this week. Which, of course, makes me a bastion of marriage knowledge. Except not.

If I may, I want to candidly share a thought with you that has been brewing in my mind over the past two years. (And I do so with my husband’s full permission and blessing.)

The thought is this: I didn’t marry my dream man.

Will you Marry Me Book Proposal

Like most impressionable girls growing up in the evangelical world, I dipped my toes in the “True Love Waits” movement. I wore a purity ring. I read books with titles like And The Bride Wore White: Seven Secrets To Sexual Purity and I Kissed Dating Goodbye. I lived with eager anticipation that any Christian man I saw might just be ‘The One’.  I wrote letters to my future husband (which he still has not read, by the way). I prayed for my future husband. And, of course, I made a meticulous list of what this man should be.

He looked something like this:

  • A Christian. (Obviously, had to include that one.)
  • Someone taller than me.
  • A great sense of humor,
  • but with a serious, brooding, Mr. Rochester-esque side.
  • Dark hair I can run my fingers through. (?!?!?!?!?)
  • Someone who would write poems and songs for me.
  • Someone who would chop down firewood for our home. (Because Nicholas Sparks.)
  • Preferably, a man with a sexy accent. (A very important qualification.)
  • A man who would take me around the world.

You can imagine.

In short, I wanted to marry a unicorn. A serious, brooding unicorn with dark hair I could run my fingers through.

It should be obvious at this point that I didn’t marry my dream man, let alone meet him.

My husband Ben is about my height. He doesn’t have long, dark hair (though his beard is quite epic.) He doesn’t have a sexy accent, unless ‘Southern Ohio’ counts as a sexy accent. He isn’t fond of traveling. He has yet to write me a poem or a song. I’d bet money that he’s never chopped any firewood.

I didn’t marry my dream man, but I married the better man.

Library Engagement Session

My dream man would have wrecked me. And not like the Holy Spirit does. My dream man would have wrecked my life. He would have been everything I wanted, but nothing I needed. He would have led me into self-indulgent temptation. He wouldn’t have pointed me to Christ. I don’t need a man to pander to my foolish whims and desires. I need a man that will care more about my holiness than my happiness.

I need a man like my husband Ben.

He doesn’t write poems, but he does pray with me and for me. Ben doesn’t travel the world with me, but he does plumb the riches of Christ with me.

These past two years God has so kindled a love for Ben that I never knew I would have for another human. My husband is seriously the most godly man I’ve met. He serves me so well. In these two years I’ve cried over him and yelled at him and disregarded him – but still he opens his arms and says, “Come here. I love you.” Ben is my brother. He is my battle buddy. He’s my best friend. He’s actually pretty funny. And he’s hot. So there’s that.

With only two years of marriage down, and a lifetime to go, I’m not sure that I’m qualified to dish out any advice or sage takeaway. I can tell you that your dream man will fail you, but the better man will make you. He will play such an instrumental role in making you the woman God intended for you to be. Know that the best of men are the ones that look like THE Best Man: like Jesus. So if you have a list, even something as small as a vague inkling, of your dream man, I invite you to throw it out. Instead, reflect on the image of Christ. And should you come across a fellow that looks a lot like this Jesus you’ve been gazing at, then maybe he’s the perfect man for you.

I Didn't Marry My Dream Man, I Married The Better Man