5 Ways To Enjoy Summer For Free

5 Ways to do summer for Free!

Summer is a time of wander. Yes, I said wander not wonder. I think it’s a time to wander outdoors and find mysterious areas. Gain confidence, bravery and enhance our imaginations. OLD or Young, Summer is a time to knock something off your “Bucket List”. It’s a time to shut off the noise, go outside, look at the stars at night, and jump off into anything new,  Outdoors I mean really summer days are meant for the outdoor life, lets not forget to mention how useful outdoors are for children’s mental growth.I like to keep the kids active so finding the right resources that keep me current are important. As always FB is a great place to look for events, but don’t forget to look at local libraries, hospitals, and churches. 

1. Go to your local lake. Find WATER! There are so many options for people who don’t live near a beach. Lake Pflugerville is our go to but there are so many places in Austin to find water. Brushy Creek, Zilker, Barton Springs, Lady Bird Lake, Resevoirs, and creeks. However some of these do charge.

2. Splash Pads.-  Are our kids favorite right now just because of their age, but obviously anything with water makes summer days fun. We love these no only because of the fun, but we make it into some sort of fitness challenge. There are so many splash pads that are free in our local neighborhoods that I never knew were around us until I did a search and found 5 just within .5 miles from us. There are more than you think and they’re FREE!!!!

 

3. Church Events – They always have free and fun ways to keep your children connected to a community that will build them up, and share same beliefs, and show your children how much they are loved. Meanwhile, the kids are having a blast. Backyard Bible Clubs are the best and each church has at least 10+ BYBC going on. We have one that gets hosted every summer right at our community pool area. Last year we did it and I felt recharged, ampted, and excited with the kiddos. To this day we still sing 🎶 grandpa shark doooo doooo doo doo dooo 🎶 lol. The End of the year church events are the best, from socials, meet-ups, to Summerfest. HCBC Summerfest was a blast!!!! There were rockwalls, games, bouncy houses, bubble pools, water catapults, and endless inflatables. I mean honestly it was too much for us to do it all. Besides we enjoyed the bubbles way too much.

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4. Have a picnic. It costs what ever you bring along with you. But this something that you can do anywhere, anyplace, anytime. Something that is easy and gets you all out of the house together.

5. Newspaper Events- If you’re trying to beat the heat, there are many options for you, Local Libraries are always holding awesome craft events, learning events, and have some sort of petting zoos, or fun events for the kids. Coffee Houses, Art museums, Art Crafts,  police departments, and radio stations have many events indoors that provide mental growth. Having local newspapers really are the best resources to help find events. I religiously look at IMPACT a local newspaper, which for me is the Impact for Pflugerville| Austin. that we recieve in the mail, and it always has fun things to do that I don’t find anywhere else!! An added bonus is staying current with your radio stations as well, I follow and subscribed to Spirit 105.9 and they list events that grow you and your family spiritually, from music, seminars, events, and trips.

Library and Hospitals- Libraries host so many informational, educational, and exciting events during the summer. Our local library has had petting zoos, comic cons, camps, book clubs, science camps, stem camps, princess days, reading days, craft days, robotic days, and I can literally go on forever.

Stay current, prepared, and you will create an amazing summer for you and your family without paying a dime. As you are reading this with hopefully sunkissed skin, my hope for you is to enjoy these long  summer days, because soon we will be back in hyper speed. I hope you crank up your speakers as loud as they can go to Luke Bryan’s new song Sunrise, Sunburns, Sunsets…and Repeat dance around and let it become your summer motto. I hope the sun rays, waves and summer winds take you to a place of wonder, adventure, and magic times in your life. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, remember to relax, enjoy the moment, and just take advantage of these long free days that will leave you with a faint dream.

Kids Mental Growth | Kiwi Co

We are a fan of anything to do with STEAM. We’ve loved it since it was STEM! Heck, I’ve loved science very early on. I remember asking for a microscope for my 8th birthday and I got it!! My brothers made so much fun of me because they didn’t understand why I would ask our parents to buy me that kind of stuff. They called it a waste. I on the other hand, was in love. I grew up saying I was going to be a Crime Scene Investigator. My first two years of college was a blend of basics and criminoloy. I loved it!

The only thing that changed my perspective on it, was time. I literally gave up because of time. I was too impatient, I started questioning if that is what I really wanted to do, because well I would be going to school for another 8 +years. Nevermind the fact that I paid for my own college so that was another little factor in the equation.

So of course, I jump at any idea that allows me to be able to add the coolness, funness, and amazingness of science into our homes. The fact that my husband is an Engineer with a minor in astronomy, may be a slight bonus. He loves it as much as I do, which only adds obsession to our addiction. It allows us to be passionate about encouraging and influencing our kids. We are a family who watches How It’s Made, Outrageous Acts of Science, Planet Earth, and The Weirdest Animals just caught my attention because of the amazing mutations and survival tactics that some creatures have that I had no idea about has B L O W N our minds. The kids get excited about the things we learn from the show just as much as I do. The Science Channel and History Channels are seriously our jam. We never feel guilty giving kids screen time when they are watching those channels.

Besides the fact that science is a clear visual aid of cause and effect reaction that helps our children minds grow.  I think it was said best by Sagan; “Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge.”It’s a great tool to use as a way to explain so many things in life- from the obvious things such as health, physics, logic, all the way to making choices,  faith, Jesus’s love, etc. There’s a never ending supply of projects and activities, to choose from that adds value to our children’s mental growth.

For my children I’ve always used ABCJesusLovesMe, as my curriculum for the kids. It has been a great supply of blended Science Activities to do for fun and to be as an aid to explain God’s Promise, Jesus’s Love, and the Holy Spirits power. I’ve been so grateful to come across that website 4 years ago. However, as I have become the teacher for three kids, who print out my own curriculum and activities, I have felt at times a little overwhelmed. I’ve searched for other activities and have come across many blogs and resources I have mentioned before, but I think the new Kiwi Co has caught our attention because of the STEAM aspect. It has a ton of engineering projects that we haven’t really done with the kids before. I mean yes, we’ve done engineering activities with them, like the Easter egg catapult but it was made of spoons and rubber bands. We’ve made a ton of cool things out of paper towel rolls, old crayons, styrofoam, and really anything we can use. You definitely get creative when three kiddos brains are on the line. But the quality of what we get in the boxes beats a paper towel roll any day. That’s why when I signed up for the monthly program I was beyond excited. It convenient and adds to our curriculum.

What Comes in a KiWi BOX

                                

Each box has at least three activities worth of supplies, a book that they can read and learn from, and another book with other ideas, inspiration, and instructions for other cool projects. One box literally will keep us busy all month. Not to mention staying connected with KIWI through social media and newsletters gives us access to DIY projects that you get sent along with the box to add further knowledge on what ever that month is teaching the kids.

Having a six year old boy who is starting his first year in school takes that much more precedence because it’s important to us to keep his brain growing, it’s a priority to us just as much as his spiritual growth. He is all boy and loves science as much as we do. This year for his birthday he picked a Dino Theme Party and last year he chose an Astronaut Themed Birthday Party. We enjoy setting up really cool, and challenging activities and games at his birthday parties and usually during his birthday month I create activities around those themes. His imagination play is one of my favorites because he chooses to dress up as an astronaut 75% of the time and loves to go all out with it. We’ve flown to the moon, discovered rocks, and have ran experiments. Of course it’s all ateam affair so it’s always fun to fly to the moon with these amazing astronauts.

 

It’s so much fun raising a boy because we have a mandatory reason to always dabble, experiment, and get dirty! I mean how can you not love making volcanoes, slime, rockets, and things that make you go oooo and ahhhhhh. I want him to always stay intrigued by STEAM that it forces his little brain to innovate, explore, create, and problem solve. That’s just what KIWI co does. After all they say, science today, is technology of tomorrow. I can only imagine what kind of cool things my kids will be making in 9-10 years when they are in high school.

For now, I will settle with these innovative and fun projects that we receive each month. Each kid gets their own box so they feel special doing something of their own, at their own level. Normally we are all doing the same thing with it being modified to his or her own level. But now this adds even more excitement to these boxes because they all have their own “special” box.

This is our first month with it and we are already hooked. All the smiles, jumps, and “mom, look!!!!!”s that I have received has been beyond worth it. It’s always so much fun seeing our kids grow and learn but to see their faces light up is a great way to give yourself a thumbs up mom. The best part, is it’s one more thing we can do together. Although each kid has their own box, we focus on one at a time and allow each kid to help in some way with their other siblings box. Just so the greed, and “mines!” don’t come in full swing.

Just to show you how cool it is below I have split the three kids ‘crates’ separately so you can see what we received. I will include y’all in our Kiwi Co journey and hope you join in on the fun. If you have any questions or concerns feel free to email me or comment below.

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If you are interested in signing up click here and use MY CODE hereand receive $10 for your first purchase. That’s getting your first month 50% off!!!!!!

Kiwi Crate – Arcade

Koala Crate – Rainbows

Tadpole Crate – Hide and Seek Animals

Click Here To JOIN KIWI CO

 

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5 Ways to Lead your Children

5 Ways to Lead a Child

Parenting is so much fun. It has its funny moments, silly times, and moments that our children take you by surprise. There are even moments when your child acts out in a way that makes you so proud to be their parents. You don’t know where they got it from or where they saw it. What you don’t realize is that most of the time, they get everything from you.

Do you want more of those moments? Do you want to know how you can help your children through life were they can manage their feelings, emotions, and live an intentional purposeful life? No child is too young to learn to love, to give kindness, and most importantly to feel loved. Children give what they receive and when we pour ourselves into them and fill them with purpose, value, and direction, children will walk through this journey with full tanks. Having a full tank is important for a child because then they won’t search for other avenues to fill their tanks, this is discussed in 5 love languages of Children by Gary Chapman. They will lean on themselves confidently, trust in hope, and remember that you are always there for them. On Mother’s Day we celebrated by joining with our church community and dedicating our selves to be parents that steward over our children. To be parents that lead in a way that fills their hearts up with nothing but the true words of God.

In today’s society our children are fighting for their lives everyday. On all SM there is bullying, degrading, hot or not list etc. In school there is constant emotional bullying, and mental corruption that it makes it very hard for any child to want to push through and enjoy being a child. My sister is 11 and has been bullied for 2 years consistently. Girls that were her friends turned on her, and they just say and do mean things that I can’t even try to imagine why.

It is our role to lead our children in a way that gives them a future. The most important thing I think any child needs in this moment of time, is hope. The belief that there is something bigger and better than the here and now. They need to know that all of this is temporary and that with God, there is so much they can overcome.

Our children are 6, 3, and almost 2. They all faced losing a baby brother this year. Yes, children are resilient, but there are moments were they break down, moments were they wonder about what happened to him after we buried him. They seek comfort knowing he’s in heaven, and that even though it was hard, God has a plan for him, and for all of us. My daughter was putting everything together one time, and she walked up to me and she said, “Mom, you have two babies in heaven?’ I responded accurately telling her yes and what she said  silenced me for a minute. She said,

“Well that’s mean!” 

I snickered a litte and said, “Yes, it’s very mean! and it’s very sad. I get sad thinking about it quite often. Do you think mommy is sad though all the time, or do you see me happy?” She said she sees me happy. I resonded with, ” That’s because I know that both of your brothers are with God, in heaven, and they have nothing to worry about, they are safe, feel loved, and know that we love them very much.” She said, “I’m happy we can visit with them in heaven anytime we want.” I didn’t know how to respond to that one except “yes, we are lucky!” I’ve discussed before how well she’s kept an open relationship with her deceased baby brother, she speaks of playing with him quite often.

I felt though that this was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up. I had to speak more of God’s plan for us. So I went further to explain to her, that life will have many moments of sadness and things that happen that are mean. Fortunately though, God carries us through them all. I talked to her about how we all have gotten stronger together, how we pray more together, and how grateful we all have become for one another. Her response was the cutest because she says things backwards sometimes but yet they are so impactful that you can’t help but smile and not correct her. She said, “Mom, I sure am grateful I looooove you.” Boy is she right, I’m very grateful she loves me too. LOL.

Moments don’t always approach us that allow us to straight talk our children, Some families may never go through a hardship that they need to overcome together and use that to allow their faith to grow from. Either way, there are always moments, 3000 waking hours with your child to be exact, moments in the morning and after school, and even after adding up all the extra curricular activities. We have 3000 waking hours. Spend them all wisely. I’ve talked before that we use Parent Cue app to help us with these times. We as parents can lead our children to know and love God in a way that feeds their souls in so many easy ways, and activities that illustrate God. It’s so important for children and their mental health to have spirituality in their lives. To live their lives out in a manner that  isn’t just inward. Their way of living becomes purposeful, god-serving, and intentional giving. So, I’m sharing with you five things we learned from our Parent/Child Dedication to help you lead your children to know, love and serve God.

1. Remember your beautiful Gift

Children are a heritage from the Lord,
    offspring a reward from him.

-Psalm 127:3

Your calling is your assignment, we can all live up to it, because God handpicked each of our children for us. He knew we were the best fit for each of our babies. You can do this mommies, daddies, grandparents! He believes in you. God is hungry for his children, we are all born Children of God, so he is waiting for them to seek him. He so desperately wants them. We can do this by raising our children with a Christ-centered parenting method vs a child-centered parenting method. I’m sure we all struggle with this one. I know I have so many times. Especially because as babies they take up all our time, need us, and our world revolves around their every need. We forget though that once they hit a certain age, to change that. It then carries through, and every need, and every want your child asks for is still given to them. They grow up to be self centered children, that turn into self centered adults. Not thinking of anything or anyone else than themselves. We want our children to grow up caring for others, caring for their world, and caring for what they stand for. You take them from Meism –> Weism.

2. Be Disciples

Biblical Parenting = Disciple your child well. We are the primary leaders. Discipling is all about impressing on them, unfortunately though we have until our children are about 10 to keep impressing on them deep rooted values and morals. Yes, we have the 3000 waking hours to impress them, but once they hit a certain age, they will want to listen to other, friends, and what their activities are will be of importance.

 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

-Deuteronomy 6:4-9

So it’s important to always build a community around your family that represents your values and beliefs as well. Building the team is crucial. That even means the team in the house. If your marriage is rocky your Childs stability will be as well, you need to focus on creating a stable, safe environment that feeds them with love and allows them to see partner parenting. When you have great communication with your spouse you both will raise like minded children. My husband is my team mate, and our little A Team is our main focus, so we want to provide and offer them a stable home that builds strong foundational roots to grow upon. To help build who they are.  If you want to learn more about partner parenting read the blog to see 5 easy ways to build that bond with your husband or wife. 

We have to understand though, with or without your child’s other parent, that it is our main role to dedicate ourselves to our children. We were shown one thing during our Parent/Child Dedication, that we must dedicate ourself  to our children. not rely on their teachers, or their friends, or their school. That we must make the choice to be the one to disciple our children. 

3. Purposeful Parenting. Our purpose and desire is to raise kids who love God with their whole hearts and want him forever. We do this by passing on knowledge and love of God into our children. He wants our children to grow up with hearts for him. We help with this by parenting in RED. 

R-Relationships– Always be aware of the relationships that you are making. Have friends that share the same beliefs so you can raise your child in a community 

E-End in Mind – What you are teaching your children matter for their eternity. I actually liked this one because it sort of gives you permission to relax a little as a parent. It resolves a lot of the fights before they even happen. For instance, if you’re arguing with your child about doing the dishes, and getting on them, and telling them you can’t go to insert here before you finish doing them. You harp and harp and harp until you’re blue in the face. Now, if you change your perspective to focus more on conversations that matter for their eternity then you won’t put so much pressure in those moments that are difficult between your child and you. Does that mean they won’t happen, of course not, just that then your focus won’t be so centered on those minute things. 

D-Destination – The end goal is to raise a loyal, christ-follower, generous, and gracious little being, so when you are purposeful in your actions you too will reap these benefits and everyone around y’all will as well. 

4. Be the Parent God wants me to be.

 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Galatians 6:2

Remember the relationships you are making, and try to pay attention to the teachable moments like the one I discussed earlier. Ask God to daily gibe you wisdom, courage, and strength. especially on those hard days that our kids are going crazy on us. Those are the days you stand up as a Chaos Coordinator and you make it work! Embrace our roles that we are given and take charge of it. We need to make our children a priority!!

We also have to realize something though, that we simply can’t do this without having a close connection with Christ ourselves. We need to know him too. I don’t know about you, but I need to seek him the most when I’m having hard days, for in those moments I’m weak and I want to just close the door and give myself time away, but now with him, I can manage through them. Calm my children down, and we can all work together. Before I would just rage out, but now I want gas

5. Lead by Example. It’s not science it’s factual, children learn what they see. So be the person you want your children to be. There’s no way to raise children to be kind, if you can’t simply be kind to people around you. if you can’t show kindness to your servers, extend grace to people in supermarkets, and on the road. If you can’t work out the relationships in your own life, you simply can’t lead your children. You have to want to be better for you and your children.

And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.

There are always ways to learn how to be better at this role, constant reading, constant growth, constant feeding yourself so you can feed them. But in case you don’t know where to start, and need something to constantly tell yourself to help with leading your littles;

We can do this by following the 3R’s:

R-Reverance for God + his word.

R-Respect, for God’s Authority. God gives you authority over your children.

R-Regard for God’s Way.

Remember these three things to help push yourself to be a great leader. I leave you with hope, hope that you make the choice today to be your child’s disciple, to lead them in a life full of love, hope, and faith. may you all live a life that serves our God, for the better good of this world. For we all desperately need kind and loving people to flood this earth. I challenge you, step up to God’s Plan for you. Are you ready?

Ephesians 6:3 

So that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.

Remembering a Death of a Loved One

Count Down to Atticus’ Due Date.

Miscarriage is something I never knew I would talk about so much. I never thought I would be in this category. It has been a rollercoaster of emotions. Although there are the foreseeken inevitable moments that bring you down to your knees but we have also had some amazing moments that we relish in. We have found beauty in this chapter because it has brought us all so much closer and has strengthened our marriage. We’ve learned that Gods plan is strong for us, and that we need him.

We’ve learned to rely on one another. Believe it or not, but that we can also lean on our own children. They truly are blessings from God. Their innocence is beautiful and has a way of catching you off guard in all the right moments that just melt your heart. My sweet Ali-girl (Aliyna) has spoken of her baby brother every day. Not one day does she leave him out. She prays about him, plays with him, and has even gotten him his own cup, or plate from time to time.

She speaks of her baby brother like she knows him deeper than any of us, even me, she carries him with her and it’s quite beautiful. They say it’s the way to keep our families alive, is to keep them present here with us. It was difficult though, to get used to her speak of him so freely. It used to break us down, Josh and I would talk about how we barely could handle it. We didn’t want to tell her to stop and just assumed it would eventually go away, it hasn’t. Five months later, it hasn’t. So we’ve accepted it, and now find peace and joy in it. One day she was rocking him (a stuffed animal) in a carrier, I thought it was the cutest thing ever. I saw a glimpse of what my life would have been like. All three kiddos got around and kissed on him, sang to him, and covered him with blankets to keep him warm. It was cute to see Addie play along, bc I always wondered what she would do with a baby in the house, I thought she would be an angry type, but she chose to share her bouncy chair, didn’t throw a fit, and played along. Now if u know her and her bouncy chair , this was an incredible move on her part. I cried, wiped the tears from my cheeks and even played along, I think every mom should play along if they’re presented with this moment, it was healing in its own magical way. I thought every moment with him was robbed from us, that I’d never be able to delight in moments like these. Although they’re just pretend, they mean so much because I came to the realization that we can all still share intimate moments like these even though he’s not here. Not everything is gone or unattainable like I thought it would be. Yes, he’s not there, but the moments with the other kids aren’t entirely lost forever.

So to say the least we’ve learned to roll with this phase. We’ve set the table with food just for Atticus, placed bottles on the high chair for him. These little things that Ali-girl just randomly does to include him have become memories that I won’t forget. It’s also a sweet reminder to send my boy some love. That he’s with us, and will always be apart of our family.

So as we approached the due date I was nervous. I mean it’s all been such a process. First month- fighting against depression. becoming emotional stable again. 2nd month – Finding myself again, getting back to my core, finding my mission, spirituality awakening. 3rd month- spent focusing on Meditation, becoming mentally stable again. Fourth month I was trying to find passion again. I was deliberately taking steps that I believe to be necessary to stay healthy but every month anniversary it would seem like I would just get broken all over again.

I didn’t know how I’d be on this day, if I’d handle it so well or if I should even bring it up with kiddos. I knew I had to because they’re apart of everything. I felt like we needed to celebrate him in one way or another. After all, I celebrated Valek’s first birthday with friends and family, it was a great way to remember him, and I had to do the same to remember our sweet Atticus. I came up with the idea to have a chalk party to remember him by. I had purchased these chalk bombs for maternity pics for when my belly got bigger. I couldn’t wait to use them. So when he passed away we thought about using them at his funeral but then I decided to go with the balloon technique so the kiddos could write special comments to their baby brother to send to heaven instead. I’m glad I didn’t use them then, because I didn’t realize how much healing I would feel from this.

Letting go of Balloons to send to Heaven

Now before I share all the awesome pics, I wanted to say, it was hard getting the bags out of the closet, getting all the supplies together, and setting everything up, getting the initial pics before sent me into tears. I could hardly swallow. It was one of those moments were you want to stop doing what you’re doing if it hurts that bad, but yet, I knew better- it was a moment that I had to go through. It was one of those moments I wore the tears proudly because I wanted them there, I wanted to feel the warmth of them, because they reminded me of why I was there to begin with. This was my something to recognize the day that I would have held him. Kissed him, brought him home.

I started thinking about what that would have looked like, and I thought well there would have been a thousand pics for sure, so I decided to take pics with a bear that we received in the hospital. After I delivered Atticus the nurses put him in a crocheted pouch blanket so we could hold him in. All of this little baby could fit in there with just a little glimpse of his face showing. It was a way to cuddle him and love on him before we could never hold him again. At first josh didn’t want to hold him. When my water broke and they told us what would happen he said he thought it be best to not hold him. But once he was here with us. We both wanted to. Had to! It was a must! It was also something we’ve been so happy that we did because there’s no going back. If we opted out and then buried him without ever holding him, giving our son kisses, or laying with him, it wouldn’t have been something we wouldn’t be able to live with. The blanket was a nice touch, and we were so thankful the hospital assisted us with this all.

 

Then the nurse came in and gave us this box with all kind of things in. It was a box from an org called Luke Lives On. One of them is a swatch that matches the crocheted blanket that Atticus was in. So we could always have a piece with us. The ‘Attucus’ bear, paperwork explaining the org was created by parents just like us, a willow tree angel statue, prayers, and a book. All of it touched us so deeply that we couldn’t help but be thankful that these people went above and beyond to help others like them during this hard time. My favorite however and most meaningful gift, was a bracelet. A leather bracelet that had a verse on it, can u guess which one?

It had the exact verse that I have spoken of sooo many times. The verse that was read at my first sons funeral by two different people, the verse we have hanging in our house, the verse I have in the tag line on this site! It was a moment that God was there with us. I put it on and have never taken it off. However, I take it off when I shower and there’s always one person to help me put it back on, my son. No one else can do it but him. He’s said that. It’s something he likes to do for me, he said mommy I’ll always be here to put this on for you, I know it’s important to you, so it’s important to me. Are u crying yet!! These kids I tell you they just get to you don’t they!!!

He’s exactly right though, it’s a bracelet that I’ve found identity in, for so many reasons that I can’t even go into detail just yet. I’ve tried making a video and speaking about it but I guess I’m just not there yet. My main point though, I’ve kept it near because I feel like it’s God’s way of letting me know his hands are still on me.

Little did we know that that bracelet would connect us in so many more ways to Gods plan for us, let alone, for me. – Ashly Williams

We received a call about a month later from the Drs after they did an autopsy on our son. What they found has sent us to a whole other level of wow-ness. The doctors said that Atticus shared the same genetic disorder that his older brother in heaven had. G a s t r o s c h e s i s. Not only did he have that, but his liver, and his gall bladder were on the outside of his belly as well. Now, when I talked to my OBGYN once these results came in, she explained to me how rare this was. For a mom to have one child with Gastroschesis is rare enough, but to have the same mom give birth to two kids with it, ASTRONOMICALLY RARE. She sent my results to two Drs she knew and they all said the same thing. We have no idea what this means for the me, for our family, but we do know that I have to go see a geneticist to find out. This appt has been set. Can you imagine being told that you are an astronomically rare case and to hear these words come from several Drs.

I was confused at first, I don’t understand quite yet how that can happen to me. Especially after I’ve had three healthy kids. I didn’t understand why with my first and last boys. I’m still at a loss. One thing was made clear for me though, that this community that I moved away from before I was all of a sudden thrown back into. I was reliving Valek’s death, along with Atticus’s death. It somehow connected us all together. I was living in this loop that kept coming back to the beginning. The beginning were I found God. When I was pregnant with Valek I accepted Jesus Christ as my savior. After he came home from the hospital I was baptized at Zilker park with him there with me, with my church HCBC along with my friends and family. I heard God speaking so loud to me, that this is where I’m supposed to be again. My faith needed to remain that strong, needed to be moved, and willing to do his good works again. I’ve rejoined with Hand 2 Hold an org that helps parents adjust during their time in the NICU.  I’ve come to contact with someone who works, builds, and campaigns for Agape- a pregnancy resource center,  where I accepted Jesus Christ. Discussed how crazy it was that we ran into one another at Re|Engage, a place we never would have been at if we didn’t have a miscarriage, and discussed volunteering there. I’ve rejoined Gastroschesis groups and feel like that voice that I had before is burning brighter and deeper.

We don’t have a lot of the answers, some we will get from the specialist, and some we won’t but I know one thing is for sure. That during this time in my life, I have never felt so close to God. I’ve wondered what would have happened to my son if my water never broke, if I carried him for another 15 weeks before they did another ultrasound to find out then what he had…I can’t even imagine the weight it would have put on our family, on Josh, on our kids. It’s so hard to try and imagine, there’s so many what ifs that it doesn’t play out just one way in my brain. I’ve thought about this loop He keeps putting me on, and how everything keeps pointing to one thing, HIM. He works in mysterious ways, His plans for us are so magnificent that we can’t even fathom. Through all this I’ve found a purpose again, and the will to pursue it. I don’t need the answers, I just need him.

I am < God therefore_sign.png I NEED Him

So, this brings us back to the Chalk party, crazy how the chalk I purchased for the gender reveal are the same colors as Miscarriage Awareness. The kids loved it, Aliyna ate some and her teeth and tongue were blue for over four hours no matter what she ate, or drank. LOL, and the coolest part, once again, my bracelet. Look how it turned out. I’m never washing it out!!! It’s just how it was meant to be all along.

Moms Boho Bracelets covered in blue chalk after mom commemorates her son.

I know it’s crazy to think a miscarriage has meaning, or that it’s all a part of a “plan” but I have to believe that all of this realigns together just so perfectly that I can’t help but know that all of it, all of this, is in Gods hands. If you have experienced a miscarriage, I send hugs to you, and am so sorry for your pain. I just say to you now, try and rejoice in the moments that bring you closer to your baby, remember them, and celebrate them. The healing from it alone is worth it. Plus you never know you might get an angelic visitor like we did during our chalk party. Call it what you want, but we think someone came to play with his family.

Do you see the glowing angel?

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How To Fix Your Marriage

Two Steps to Fix Your Marriage

Marriage faces so many different bumps along the way. Some poeple’s are mounds, or hills, while others have to climb through valleys, and overcome mountains. Here’s two easy ways that show you by maintaining self awareness it can help save your marriage.

The faculty of a person that enables them to be self aware of themselves, and others is known as, the mind. You have to be completely conscious at all times and present with yourself to constantly be looking inward. To fully understand what is going on with you. In Re|Engage we focus on ourselves, we draw circles around ourselves and focus on ways to work on our struggles, emotions, and problem areas so we can better serve our spouse. Believe me, it’s not so easy at first, every week I have to remind myself to do just that. I literally have to draw that circle around myself to remind myself what I need to be doing. That alone has helped so much with stopping  little bickering before it has even started. The one thing that we are constantly reminding ourselves with is that “I’m my own marital problem.” It may sound silly, especially if your spouse is lying and cheating. but it’s a helpful reminder to focus on your actions and to see if you’re coming from a place of love. if you’re ready to fix your marriage then take two  steps, just two, that will help you allow your marriage to move freely, and openly. Are you ready to start?

Focusing on yourself by following two easy steps:

1. Be Honest. I think we all have problems being honest with ourselves. Sometimes it can be scary to look inward and see just who you’ve become. Especially if who we are is someone stuck on the bathroom floor, feeding our own addictions. In hard and dark times, it’s very hard to look inward and to hold ourselves accountable for our own actions. I know from experience it just seems so much easier to find a reason to blame it on other people. To hang on to the anger, pride, walk around with hatred, and even hold on to guilt or even fear. The best thing is that Fear is a Liar! Don’t let it destroy you! Overcome the fear and rise above it because life is waiting for you. They always say, you’re the only one holding yourself back. If you are a timid person or the opposite spectrum carrying around anger because of fear listen to Fear is a Liar, by .

We have nothing to be afraid of: God is there for you. There’s is freedom found when we lay our lies down at the cross. We can be who we are meant to be once we let go of all that baggage. Don’t waste your life holding on to all that that shame and darkness when your already been freed. Your freedom is just waiting for YOU!!

2. Self Awareness. Be honest with yourself as well. Combat the fear of being honest, don’t blame the people around. Being aware allows you to be authentic with people, allows real relationships to happen and allow God to move in the real vulnerability of the raw friendships that you have. How can u be real if you don’t know your self? Honestly, repeat that question, how can you be real if you don’t even know your self? Besides being self aware allows you to be your own driver of your own life, not a victim of your past.

Start It, Commit to it, Succeed in it!

Ashly Williams

How to Have a Successful Marriage When Times Get Tough

Steps for Wives and Husbands:

My husband and I go to weekly marriage to get tools we need to fight for our marriage. Atfirst, I thought it was going to be something good for us because of our recent struggles, but honestly it doesn’t matter what phase of marriage you are at, every married couple should go through something to get you closer together. If you so happen to have a Christ -Centered program available, GO! If you are struggling like we were, close to divorce, dealing with addictions, GO!

I’ve mentioned before at Re|Engage we discuss how to focus on ourselves vs. our spouse. We have to face the notion that we are all broken. Now if you understand that you yourself are broken, and so is your spouse and you want to love them anyway, be there for them despite their problems, then take these 2 Easy Steps to Help you Become a Great Spouse. Despite the fact that you are still filled with hurt, and pain, you can move forward. Now if you don’t want to, just remember they love you despite all your struggles, moods and unpleasant sides. They love you and are not you’re enemy. Someone far greater is the enemy. If you decide you are still willing to support your spouse then here are acronyms for each one of you to help the other spouse through their battles, struggles, and addictions. Now if the roles need to be changed depending on  who is currently struggling then do so, but these two acronyms are ways to just show you how to be there for one another.

Men – You are the leaders of your own home, so use LEAD to guide you to lead over your marriage.

L– Let go and let God – Build a team for accountability. Men tend to keep everything bottled up. We all know this, they’re told to be tough, they need to be strong. But in hard times no matter what we need the help of others. Especially if you are the one struggling with addiction, cheating, or lying. Men, need to learn they can’t control everything, can’t fix everything, and can’t do it alone. Reach for God, let him take control. Place it at his feet even if it is just to take the weight off your shoulders.

E– Engage your helpers. Enlist them to be there, call upon them. Only you know when you need help, so don’t be afraid to ask.

A– Accept counsel even when they suggest to do the hard things. When you hear what you don’t want to be told, the last thing you want to do is listen, but just try and remember they are removed from the situation so they are coming from a perspective of love, and truth. Take the words they say, and atleast try it out and see what happens. In the end, it could be the best advice you ever received, and you won’t know unless you try. Doesn’t your marriage deserve the effort?

D– Don’t settle! Ever!! God has something better for your marriage and more for your life. When u better yourself, spears around you reap those benefits WOW!! Amazing! Can you imagine, by fixing myself and constantly drawing that circle around myself, focusing on what I need to change, changes my relationships with my wife, my children, and my friends. My whole life! That can be you! Reach for progression not perfection- perfection is unattainable- again strive for progression and that will take yourself + marriage out of the rut.

Women – Extend grace, hurt is natural, the feelings will always need time to heal, like everything else, but to extend grace to your husband will fill them with love and comfort, and show them you are their partner not their enemy. They will want to come to you even when they know they bear bad news. It’s okay to have those feelings and emotions I’m not here to tell you not to feel. But now you have the chance to respond to those previous actions and emotions in a loving way and in a helpful way. Therefore, use HELP to allow you to be that helpful companion vs an argumentative and cold partner. When your husband needs you especially when he’s at his weakest because he’s struggling with something, this can help you help him.

H- Hang onto God. Woman we must accept that perfection is unattainable so we need to strive for progression not perfection. We also need to keep in mind that progress doesn’t mean that conflict doesn’t exist. It’s the time of the fight and argument that changes when you have the tools to work through them. Things get better and fights become fair. So trust in God, hang onto him, and let him lead you in your marriage.

E– Enlist others. The same for Men applies to woman.

L– love with grace + Truth. In everything you do love with grace and truth. It also important to set yourself up with friends and the community who are like this too. Yes the friends who you can call upon immediately to vent to, the runs that always talk you down and are on your side is great. But they speak with emotions first. So when your telling them all your problems of course they’re going to take your side. In the hard times you need someone who is willing to tell you the truth that you need to hear. The truth that will align you back to where u want to be. You need to have friends that align with your beliefs it’s crucial!

P– Promote Christ in Him calling out goodness!! Tell him he’s worthy, praise him for his actions. Build him up. It sucks to say, but your husbands are like children, if you’re not there to build them up, then they will seek it other places. I hope these two acronyms will help you if you’re currently trying to overcome battles in your own marriage. Marriage is hard, living with someone else’s mood swings, life stages, and their challenges is a lot of work. But I believe that God sends you your spouse for a reason. You’re meant for one another. He wants your marriage to be full of great things. If you’re not struggling with major issues and you just need help getting through your marriage day to day these will help you too. These will help you to focus on what matters through all the crazy chaos in life- that’s your spouse. They are not the enemy. They are mostly good, so give your marriage the effort it deserves. Put in the work. I hope this motivates you to atleast try to take steps to build up your marriage. I also hope you learn a lot about yourself so you won’t put the whole burden of making your marriage work on your spouse. If you need prayers or help with any of this or want more info on Re|Engage feel free to reach me.

Start It, Commit to it, Succeed in it!

Ashly Williams

Re|Engage

Reconnect with your Spouse

Going to Re|Engage has been an amazing experience for Josh and I. We are half way through the program and I already see the difference in our lives. We look towards one another versus looking for outward help. We seek God together, pray more, and it has even changed the way we argue. No, it won’t stop all arguments, we are human after all, but it has helped get us to the resolution faster, and with an end that is actually progressive.

In Re|Engage we discuss how to focus on ourselves vs. our spouse. We of course want to fix our spouse that’s why we are there. We all enter that room with the same thoughts, “They are the reason for…” or “They did this to me…” or “if only they….” But in reality to love your spouse we have to focus on ourselves and learn how to love like God because unfortunately our spouses will disappoint us, will hurt us, and will occasionally let us down. They’re human, we are too. So we too will do the same. We have to understand in the end we are all broken, marrying someone else who is broken. No one is perfect.

During our first week as we were listening to other people’s testimony they mentioned they had a friend who was married 5 times. During his divorce for his 5th marriage he made the comment, “If I would have known, that the last marriage would have been like the first one, I would have stayed with the first.” In other words, we are all broken married to broken people, trying to figure out how to make our marriage work.  Now if you understand that you yourself are broken, and so is your spouse and you want to love them anyway, be there for them despite their problems, even though your still filled with hurt, and pain. Read How to have a successful marriage when times get tough. It helps us to be better partners despite all our brokenness.

Once we come to this realization that we are all broken then we can then focus on the how. How do I love a broken person? How do I love a broken person with addictions, lies, problems, secrets, and hurts?  I’m sorry but, NO, there’s no fast answer, if you are in a spot where you are facing divorce then I say seek counsel, go to your church, join a small group for married couples. Or perhaps join Re|Engage.

There’s also no way I can share all what I’ve learned so far, it’s something you should go through with your spouse and let God make moves in yalls lives. However, I wanted to share some simple ways to help you and your spouse take steps to making your marriage what God wants for yalls marriage- For it to be great!

The best way to move forward is to start pursuing your spouse. You want to get closer? Then get to know them. We think we know one another but guys, people change, people have new interest you know this by the gifts you buy for them, each year it’s different right? Well you may ask Ashly, I don’t need to do this, I’ve been married for 15 years. Then my question is, do you sit at home, on your phone at night, in bed? Do you watch TV while your eat dinner? Are you making time to talk to one another? Know eachother? The same way you research things on your phone is the same way you should pursue your spouse. Unfortunately, yes it is harder than looking up www dot. Are you willing to follow your vows and do the hard work?

The second thing, is to pursue Christ– run from sin and straight into Christ’s arms. Stop carrying around the weight of your past, your sins, or the hurt of others, you need to know today you are free from all of that!!

You’re free because he died for you.

Isn’t that beautiful?! Amazing?! Can you believe it, we are loved beyond measure. I think once we accept that whole heartedly, and actually believe you are loved, love begins to grow. For yourself, for your spouse, for your life. When I have put my life in God’s hands, I have more good days then bad. My days aren’t full of judgement, hate, and anger. Marriage is hard, so I hope that you find time to do these 2 Easy Steps to ReEngage with your Spouse.

 

Start It, Commit to it, Succeed in it!

Ashly Williams

Parent/Child Dedication

Dedicating Our Lives to Disciple Our Children

On Mother’s Day we all stood up before the church and dedicated our lives to leading our children down a path that speaks the truth. It was a great experience and a wonderful gift to me I must say. This was the first time as a married family that we stood together side by side dedicating our lives outwardly in a faith based way to symbolize the effort, the hope, and the desire to steward their lives towards this reality! For our lives as well.

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This outward expression was so important to me for so many different levels. The significance however was tremendous for me because recently Joshua and I have turned to God  whole-heartedly to help lead us through this difficult chapter in our lives. We know how important it is to seek his guidance first, even above our own. We’ve established our foundation on God because we knew without him we would not be able to go through this feat alone. I tried that, and it sent us down a path were we talked, and even considered separating. We discussed getting a divorce the week after our miscarriage. We clung to one another the week before, during all the sickness I needed him. The week of I only wanted to be near him, to guide and lead me through the dark days. Then it was like a tornado of emotions just hit me all at once the week following. It was horrible, I was spiraling out of control full of sadness, anger, guilt, and remorse. Life was just breaking me down. Instead of reaching to one another for moral support I was looking inward and only saw and felt anger and lashed it out accordingly to who I thought deserved it. My husband was my punching bag, and I started to open up all the problems and warning signs from years ago, and made up accusations from the past. It was not fun. I started leaving the house once a week, to “get away”. I wanted to be far away from the person that was trying to be there for me. He didn’t understand why I was acting out the way I was, he didn’t know how to stop it, he didn’t have all the right things to say, so he didn’t say anything. The only thing that saved us at the time was our wedding vows.

One day I went on a coffee break and spent 30 mins watching my wedding video thinking, is this it? Our marriage ends before we even make it to an official two months. I then listened to myself speak our vows…on repeat. I flooded my brain with words of truth over and over and over again. These are the words I heard:

I Ashly, Take you Joshua to be my husband. To have to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer or poorer, In sickness and in health, in joy and in sorrow, to love and cherish,  to be faithful to you alone, as long as we both shall live.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 is what our whole ceremony was based around and it speaks of a way to love one another without end. I told myself that night, I will not fail God, I will not fail myself, I will not give up on Josh. I told Josh that night how salvation came throug our vows. That I didnt think he deserved my love, that he didn’t do anything to change my mind, but purely based off the gift of love that I know I don’t deserve given to me everyday despite my mistakes, sins, and wrongdoings. That’s the love I always said I’m going to give long before I met Josh and that’s the love I vowed to give when I married Josh. I said we needed more truth in our lives and that’s when I saw my husband show me his commitment to our marriage.

We’ve started attending Re|Engage weekly, and have successfully attended 8 weeks of it. We have picked up an amazing toolbox for our marriage by going through the process. I’m so thankful for this community we have joined in. We needed them, we needed the influx of wisdom, and the words of truth spoken to us through our marriage. If you need more of this read about our Re|Engage experience and if you need prayers for your marriage please feel free to pm and I will add them to my prayer list.

The words of truth have saved me so many times in my life. So many times when I found myself going down the wrong path, even in those times I pushed God away and he said I don’t think so, “I’m not done with you yet” and drug me out of the darkness by my feet.

Williams Family Parent/Child Dedication

I want my children to relish in his words of truth in all their future days. That is why I wanted to go through the parent/child dedication in the first place. To know that we are dedicated to give them these tools to allow God to work in their lives. For the dedication you could choose a verse for your family. We chose:

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

– 3 John 1:4

I hope more than anything that they find peace in his words when times are hard. Comfort in knowing they are loved, and salvation knowing he sent his son so we could be saved. All I dream and hope for my children is that they walk in the truth. I fear the day I die for one reason only. That I die too early- too early to know for sure my children rely on God above all else. I hope in that time they are old enough to reach for the Bible in times in need versus friends that speak ill hearted, figures that speak selfishly, or family that directs them wrongfully.

Yesterday I watched a video about kids showing hatred and racism at a playground against a little boy who had to be about 5 or 6. My heart weakened knowing this is the generation my kids will live with. It’s not just one way either, I watched kids that are 10 and 11 making videos of them bullying and beating up white kids because they live in the same projects as they do.

My first instinct of course is to blame their surroundings, their parents, their community for showing them this is okay. I know the world is harsh full of broken people, full of sinners, hate and built up anger. It’s always been full of that, but now it’s full of it with a button that enhances it, spreads it, and fuels it. The hatred Timmy has in virginia is shared via internet by some sort of media, and Alex in Utah sees it, and agrees with it and displays the same anger. We have to be conscious of what our children see. Yes that means everything! We have to ensure that our children are not corrupted by the wrong things. We have to step up our parenting game. I spoke of this on Mother’s Day about raising up motherhood. It’s important. I know everywhere we hear good job, especially on Mother’s Day. We are told you’re good enough. You a great mom, look at all the things you’ve done. I’m sorry but it’s not, raising your child isn’t good enough, we NEED to lead and guide them.

I also heard on Mother’s Day moms in the restaurant I was in that day, at the store, and of course all over online, say to their kids, “this is MY day.” I’m not joking in the bathroom at pluckers where I was eating a mom said to her son when all he was trying to do was talk to her, she wanted to wash her hands in peace apparently, “Can u please just be quite today, stop just for one day, this is my day!”

I was enraged! I would have made a comment about being thankful if I was next to her but I was in the stall, and of course I’m not going to yell across five stalls so this woman can hear my opinion. That wouldn’t have gone great lol. Atleast not even close to the hopeful way I would have intended it to be. Lol can u imagine that taking place lol.

I have sat and brewed on this sentence for three weeks now though, still getting upset by the words. If you have said this in some form or fashion I want to simply remind you, the only reason you have that day is because of them. They are supposed to be what you cherish on Mother’s Day. That’s what’s wrong with the holiday, is it’s so twisted. People think it’s a day for them! You have your birthday for that. Yes, it’s a day of recognition of your efforts to raise well rounded people, but if you’re selfish and talk to your children on that day like that, then no wonder our younger generations are growing up the way they are. It’s all about me me me me me. It needs to change!

Moms, dads parents, please I beg you change your perspective of parenting. Do more than just okay with our kids. They need so much poured into them now. We can’t just get away with bare minimum of hopes everything will end up okay. What was okay with us, is not okay with them. Especially now that they get so much information from all the different outlets and sources at their fingertips alone, nvm their friends, their schools, or their community. We have to work harder to try and combat all this… this N E G A T I V I T Y filling our world.

I know this is hard stuff to swallow sometimes as a parent. We all knew it was hard but we thought of my parents did it and with what they had then we can to. But our parents didn’t have to worry about all we have to. We must attack this new generation X with a different light. For I’m scared if we don’t, what my children will have to fight for growing up is 100 x more than what I had to deal with at the age of 20.

So what do we do? Well I can only leave you with one word- Commitment. Commit yourself to your children in a way that leads them. Dedicate your whole self to them, not your tired, just got off work self. Not I just need a minute, not the mom who just wants her day. Because after all before u know it you’ll have all the days you need once they run off to other people who give them that time they long for. Dedicate your lives to raising well balanced people for our world so desperately needs it. Don’t just raise them, lead them, L E A D by example. Hopefully with your efforts and theirs we can all change this back around.

If you want notes, tips, and direction that we received from our parent child dedication class check out 5 ways to Lead your Children. I hope that it will inspire you to want to lead your children down a path of truth. Even if you don’t believe in God, these tools can help you to atleast ensure that you are placing your children in the right community to make sure they grow up filled with love, kindness, and courage.

Most importantly remember to embrace your role as a parent. God has called upon you to help lead and guide them. Here’s the verse the church gave us to help guide us to impress our children with the good news, to pass on love and knowledge of God because he so desperately wants them close to him.

 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

-Deuteronomy 6:4-9

I hope this verse helps keep you motivated even in the hard days. You don’t need to stand up above a whole church, but you do need community and a team so ask your family to help keep you guided and accountable. Ask your community what they are about and if they have the same morals and beliefs, lead our future generation to kindness and love so they too have a chance to love and serve for the better good.

Motherhood is the Best Hood

Defining Motherhood

M O M • M o t h e r • M o m m y – A person who gives birth, or cares and protects another being as if you gave birth to them. Mom is such a strong word to us mothers but when you look it up the word sounds so basic. It means to give birth OR anyone who can love and care for others in a motherly way.

As I continue to celebrate this amazing weekend full of love and gift showering, and lots of sweets, I was slapped in the face with this Webster reality. I was angry when I read it. That was it. That’s how motherhood is defined? Then I realized that’s not motherhood, that’s simply how the word mom is defined. So what’s motherhood?

Now before, I go on let me explain where My aha moment came from. Here I was yesterday, mad, feeling selfish and proud thinking my husband didn’t praise me enough as a mother during this special weekend. After all it’s one weekend a year, and I deserved it. Especially after everything I do. Then, an amazing gift was received from my husband. I felt so bad the rest of the evening for being bratty and acting the way I did all day long. I had literally secluded myself from my family because I was feeling the way I did and just pretty much pouted as I laid down in bed. I told him at first i just wanted rest because that’s what I wanted to do since it was my weekend. That was really just the self justification I told myself so I could get away with my stand-offish mood. I wasn’t fooling anyone though, not myself, not him and def not God. I felt so bad about my feelings after I opened my gift that I had to spill everything out and share my pride with my husband. As amazing as he is he shrugged it off and simply said, “Well, it is your weekend, and I didn’t even notice what you’re talking about.” Wink wink.

Then, I woke up this morning to a studio that was put together, my gift in a large box, was a photo studio with 18 backdrops, two light boxes, umbrellas, and light diffusers. I mean I’ve always wanted all this stuff but never thought I’d own it all. And in one day, it was here and up. I had no idea he was getting this for me and it means the world to me, considering I obviously love taking pictures. I mean with cute kids like mine how can you not. He put a lot of thought in this gift and got me something he knew would enhance my mommy and me moments.

As I stared in awe, thinking that I didn’t deserve this gift, that I have messed up so much. Lost control so many times, that there’s been days I treat everyone in the house with the bare minimum amount of love I have to give just to get us through the day. I was reminded of Gods love, how undeserving we are yet he loves us anyway. Like my husband does I and me him. My love for my children is the same way. They can do wrong. Never. I will always love them.

But that’s coming from a mom who has not gone through teenage years with them yet. I’m human and I’m aware that there will be those feelings of disappointment, anger, and plain fed upness with them. So, then is my motherhood still valid by that unconditional love that I speak of. For in tough times and hard moments that unconditional love could be and will be tested. So, now I ask, is it really that simple, to say a person can be a mom because they gave birth and have that instant feeling of conditional Ooops sorry I mean unconditional love.

This doesn’t sound right to me. I’m human and yes I love my children unconditionally, but there will be moments of weakness. I’m not perfect. So I sit here and ask again, What then defines me as a mother?

I’ve thought very long and hard about this. My motherhood isn’t defined by my husband- he thinks I’m the best mommy ever. It isn’t even defined by my own opinions of how good or how bad I think I’ve messed up. It isn’t defined by Webster either, and it sure in hell isn’t defined by how other mothers see me. I’ve realized one thing defines motherhood for me. One thing that makes a person into a “mother”- and that’s the effort put into leading a child to be people capable of navigating the inevitable bumps of living in this world.

Not raising a child. Grandparents, friends, aunts and uncles can raise your child for you. Just simply “raising” your child is half the battle. Yes. You work hard to feed them and clothe them and to put a roof over their head. Yes, your child never goes without. Well done! I mean it, because in this world that’s hard to do. What I’m saying though is if life is hard for you, then use it. Use it to lead them with grace and a strength that only you can show them. It will prepare them in their life ahead. We try to shelter our kids from pain and hardships because we care, but they need to learn how to manage through those times too and preferably before they ever leave your house.

I was fed, I was clothed, and for almost all of my life, I had a roof over my head. My mother did her best at that. Then I moved to my dads at 15 to be away from my mom. My step mother and father then did their best at raising me and I have them to thank for trying to lead me towards God. I left home two days after graduation and moved into a city with no knowledge on really how to live a life beyond everyday needs and wants. I didn’t know how to balance life, deal with stress, or how to remain strong in hard times. I did however know how to work hard.

In the last 13 years since I’ve graduated, I’ve had so many woman come into my life and give me love and care as a mother would. I’m beyond grateful, even if it was only in a moment, and not a lifetime. I’ve been beyond privileged to have woman pour into me in a way that saved me from myself, from temptation and from harm. I’ve had woman accept me, challenge me, and lead me. I don’t know where or who I would be without them. Yet, I have never called these woman mom but they did commit to influence and lead me in some way or another. Which brings me back to my aha moment.

As I threw my fit thinking I needed praise, because I am a MOM, because I have the title, that I deserve praise, but let’s just face it, we all just want the praise. ‘Motherhood’ is hard, dirty, slimy, and tests us, but we aren’t promised the praise nor do we really deserve it. We all love the praise of course, in the good times we love motherhood and we try to make it through the hard ones, so this one day a year is a nice reminder for everyone in our family to praise us for our efforts. We deserve it! Ya!!!!

In no shape or form am I trying to discount our motherly efforts we all put in day in and day out. I just think though that I’m hit with the reality of pride that I have gained from that word as a title. I carry this entitlement that is not justified.

It may have to do with the fact that at 21 I was a mother for 8 months and then it all was gone. Ripped from my hands. So when I was 23 and my second son came I was relieved that I could be “called” that again. I earned it back. However, that doesn’t justify or give meaning to motherhood. Giving birth to two more beautiful babies afterwards doesn’t somehow give me extra brownie points over other moms either. Spending 7!years covered in puke, poo, and drool doesn’t define motherhood either. All these moments add value to motherhood but does not define it. Before today motherhood to me meant swimming in the poo with a smile. It meant giving my best in this chaotic day to day life we are living meanwhile providing for my children.

Today however I’m hit with a different view. Swimming in poo only lasts for a few years. The stay at home mom eventually is left alone? At some point we will all be empty nesters. So then what? Again, what defines you as a mother? Me as a mother?

Disclaimer—Some, well many, may disagree with me. You may not like what I’m saying. But the harsh reality in my world, is that my mother is not part of who I became. She did not build me up, she did not give me tools, and she did not lead me. Ever. Now don’t bash her, because she was and has always been a woman who worked hard for us. At many points in her life she worked two jobs so we could survive. Yet, there is no significant moment where she helped me in managing through this journey we call life. Now does that mean she’s not my mom, no. It can’t take that away. However, now I know she and a whole lot of people will get offended by this, but the harsh reality is, that she was never present in her journey of motherhood. She was present in her own journey of life. Trying to make ends meet was her main focus.

I’m not here to make you angry. I’m not here to make a million friends either, I started this blog as a place to challenge you to be a better you. So as I share my moment of clarity, or to some my misconstrued opinions, I hope in some way I’m able to make you think outside your own walls of understanding that it will compel you to at least try. For in the end that’s all we can do.

Heck I’m trying now, I will have a many days that I fall short, but like Dr. Laura Markham said in Peaceful Parenting, it’s fine, we just have to take ONE ACTION AT A TIME. If you’re like me don’t focus to much on the things we’ve done wrong. Don’t focus on how we’ve messed up or how we have too many days living in choas to even try. Each day is a new day, and I want to always do my best at this journey called Motherhood. “No matter how many times I go 2 steps forward, and one step back, it still gets my family onto a more positive path + closer to a new landscape.” as said by Dr. Markham. That’s. Relief for me. I know we can’t be perfect, I know there will be difficult days so those set backs don’t mean much in the grande scheme of things.

My eye will stay focused on the never ending goal, to always serve them in a way that helps them grow. That’s the mother I’m called to be. The one that never stayed stagnant or didn’t try. I want to lead my children down a path of positivity and through an overall well balanced life. For that’s the best gift a mother can give. That’s a gift many mothers can, should, and need to give.

So as I focus on MY O W N commitment and the priority to help my babies with self – regulation, connection, and respect so they can manage in a world of turmoil, and hardships. I challenge you to raise up motherhood. Make motherhood more! More then a simple, “Whew- we made it through that.” Make your job of motherhood the most important job you have. Because in the end, you’re raising humans, and not just any humans, but our future generation. Please don’t burden them with your anger, hatred, or victimization, for they did nothing wrong. I ask that you as a mother, take a look in the mirror and ask yourself can you be better? Even if you only see a hair thin chance of room to grow in you, do it! Show your children how to manage life. Show them emotional intelligence. Give them the gift of understanding how to live life physically, morally, and mentally aware.

Motherhood isn’t about refereeing their daily actions, that just puts you in a Godly position. Instead, strive to be their coach, their confidant, and their counselor. Lead them.

I don’t know about you other moms, but as I listen to that word tomorrow in all the happy celebrations my perspective will be forever changed. As my kids yell my name in all the joyful, excited, sad, angry, proud and hard times, I will remember what that word means. I will remember my motherly duty to them- to take every moment and use it in a way to help them be better.

Now to you mom- remain strong in the hard days, stay strong in the midst of chaos, through the tiredness, you can do it!! For you were called by God to be a mother to those sweet babies of yours. So repeat it to yourself, write it down, you are strong! You are strong enough!

She is strong- Proverbs 31:12

5 Easy Exercises to do at Home

Easy Exercises to Do While Watching TV

Equipment: None

Time: 30 mins or you can extend it to an hour.

Muscle Groups: Abdominals and Glutes

Expertise: Beginners

These 5 exercises are easy, simple, and don’t take much effort to do. They focus on your abs and glutes and require no weights. The greatest part is you can do these 5 Easy Exercises during one of your favorite shows, or if you’re like me, while your kids watch their favorite show. It’s something to give you that workout feeling before bed or something to do mid day to kind of give you a little boost during that sleepy hour. Sleepy hour? You know the one that you struggle getting through every day. These are great for beginners, experts, and moderate lifters. They are easy to do in beginning and also can add extra maintenance for the fittest.

The moves:

Here are the five simple holds.

1. Frog Kick Hold

2. Bridge

3. Abs

4. Leg Raise (Hold)

5. Dead Roach (Hold)

These exercises are great for so many reasons. From increasing shape and definition, all the way to being easy on the body and can’t cause harm to someone who can’t move fast or repetitious.

These exercises are meant to be a simple move. All you have to do is hold the position for 30s-5 mins. I used to do these all the time in high school all the way up to my 25s. I did them every night even after my workouts to just kind of enhance my muscles. Bruce Lee used to walk around with the muscle stimulators on to always have his muscles at work. It’s the same concept. You are adding minimal exercise to something you do everyday that will enhance growth. Only this way its free.

These aren’t meant to try and help you lose drastic amount of weight, but these will help anyone with muscle stamina and endurance. They test your ability to hold a move flexed for a longer period than just 1-15 reps.

Routine: Every show is about 30 mins long. With 3-4 commercial breaks. The length of the show usually goes on about 9-12 minutes with commercial breaks being the average of 5 mins.

Every time the show is on, do your favorite hold, alternating between each hold back and forth each time the show plays. During commercial breaks you do one of the three harder holds/ least favorite holds and alternate them each commercial break. leaving you with doing the harder moves for 5 mins each one time each.

For example:

Show: Crunch Hold

Com. Break: Frog Kicks (Hold)

Show: Crunch Hold

C.B.: Leg Raises

Show: Bridge

C.B.:Dead Roach Hold

Another awesome thing about these five moves is you can play with them however you like. I used to just do one hold for one show. To focus on just one muscle group a day. For instance, I just did the Ab hold during commercial breaks and rest during the show. I had to work my way up to even be able to do the hold while the show was playing. Then, I moved up to doing the hold during the show and resting during commercial breaks. You can play with it to your comfort level. Which makes these great. I do all five because I’m trying to do a little more than just one move in the 30 minute time frame and hit one more muscle group.

Abs and glutes are my constant main focus right now so I hope you enjoy these 5 easy exercises you can do anytime, anywhere. If this is helpful please comment below! If you have any questions don’t be afraid to ask away.

I’ve linked a video below to help explain and give visual aid. I hope you are enjoying your own fitness journey and finding fun through the hard moments. Remember push through!!

Start it, Commit, Succeed

Ashly Williams