Motherhood isn't glamorous.  Some days, it is hard to recall the time in my life before my legs didn't have a five o'clock shadow or I managed to use the bathroom without an audience.  A time before the contents of my purse consisted of Band-Aids, spare diapers, stray Lego pieces and granola bars.  I have replaced my perfume with baby wipes (because a good baby wipe will clean up just about anything).  I've traded in my favorite shade of lipstick for a surplus of concealer to cover up those dark circles and pesky forehead wrinkles I've acquired from perfecting "The Look" over the past 7 years of motherhood.  You know, the one you give in the grocery store when your kind, sweet, precious child enters meltdown mode over a cookie, complete with arms a-flailing and mid-screech feet stomp that draws in glances from aisles away--that look.  Vague and distant are the days when I started out my morning with a nice hot shower and nothing stuck to me.  Let's face it--dried on drool and breast milk is never sexy.  Keepin' it real, folks.

We were at an event a few weeks ago when I overheard my husband talking to someone about what he does for a living.  When they asked him what it is that I do, he explained that I stay home with our three little boys.  "I've got the easy job," I heard him say.  "My day is like an 8 hour vacation compared to what my wife does all day."  Made my day.  My Adam, he just blesses me.  Being home with my little people is one of the things I thank God (and my hard-working hubby) for each and every day

It is all I could think about growing up, being a mama.  This is huge for me.  And while it has its challenges, its heartbreaks, its discouragements, motherhood also has gifted me with some of the sweetest victories, rewards and JOY on this Earth.   I believe that I am living out an ENORMOUS part of my purpose raising these precious babes.  I feel like I am right where I'm suppose to be--especially in this season when my sons are small and soaking up the world around them.  I want to make sure that the things they are soaking up are good for their developing characters and growing souls.

What I do everyday is certainly not much to some, but to me it is everything.

This past Mother's Day, Adam kissed my hand as we left our church parking lot.  Peeking back in the rear view mirror at our 3 little men he said, "Hey boys, when you meet a princess you kiss her hand."  I smiled as my husband demonstrated love to our boys.  My happy little love bubble burst just a moment later when Mason piped up (without skipping a beat) and said, "She's not a princess--she's just a boring mommy."  Ouch.  That one stung.  Then before we could even open our mouths to respond, Noah added his two cents, "Yeah, and she doesn't even have a job."  Sucker punch right to the stomach.  I half expected baby Emmitt to add "And she's fat, too!" from his car seat, just for good measure.  My. Heart. Sunk.  Tears stung my eyes as I tried to digest the honest, unfiltered, call-it-as-they-see-it perspective that flowed so freely from my little boys.  For the rest of the drive home, Adam spoke and Noah and Mason listened.  He asked the boys how clean, fresh clothes magically return to their dresser drawers, or how breakfast, lunch and dinner appear on their plates each day.  He asked them who fixes up their boo boo's, holds them when they are sad, drives them to school and back home again when the day is through, reads them stories, searches high and low for lost toys and missing loveys. They hadn't meant any harm or hurt feelings by what they said, and they felt pretty bad about it once Daddy explained to them how much weight their words could carry.  To Mason, being just a mommy (as opposed to some sort of flying, crime-fighting superhero) did seem pretty boring.  I guess stain annihilation doesn't count as a super power.  To Noah, our day-to-day doesn't seem like much of a job, especially since I don't head off to the office every morning and return each evening like Daddy does.  They are children and they were just speaking what made sense to them.   

I am no wonder woman.  Not by a L-O-N-G shot.  I wish that I could mother my boys with the same fervor and excitement as a new mama, but with the know-how and wisdom of a seasoned one.  I fall short daily.  My kitchen table is currently camouflaged with remnants of this morning's breakfast, junk mail, random projects in progress, and homework papers adorned with smiley face stickers.  The floors in my boys' rooms are peppered with tiny Lego pieces, the bathrooms could use a good scrub, my mountain of laundry is calling my name.  I stay up way too late, drink far too many cups of coffee and prioritize poorly sometimes.  If you drop by unannounced at any given time during the day, you'll likely find us in our pj's with toys and books and mismatched socks strewn about the living room floor. 


The OCD in me does not want to let go of having things just so all the time.  I don't function well in a mess.  There came a point after our middle little arrived, and then again when our third son made his debut, that I had to do some surrendering.  I'm still trying to find balance between tidiness, sanity, quality time with my sons, my hubby and my Lord, and a bit of time to take care of me.  My precious downtime when little ones are snoozing could be spent sweeping the floors or folding another load of laundry, but jotting down a few words here and doing some head and heart housekeeping feels important, too.  So while my house could be neater and my hair fixed a little more often, I know that this is only a season (one that is speeding by), and there will be a time for all of that later.  And I'm ok with that.


"Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children."

  -Charles R. Swindoll

Inflate, Deflate, Repeat

When Adam and I learned we were pregnant with our first son, I was 19 years old.  Noah was born one month (to the day) after I turned 20--just four days before his due date.  We got pregnant with his precious (albeit spunky) little brother, Mason, when I was 21 years old and I delivered him 38 weeks later at 22 years old (we had said goodbye to a precious baby in between Noah and Mason at 6 weeks along).  Then at 23 years old, we were overjoyed to discover we were pregnant again, this time with our daughter, Maggie.  I turned 24 a few months later and then at 31 weeks along (the beginning of our 8th month), our Maggie girl passed away and was born so very still.  Nine months later, at 25 years old, I was thankful and walking on eggshells when we found out we were pregnant again for the fifth time. Our Emmitt was born 38 weeks later, just 3 months shy of my 26th birthday this past December.

In case you lost track (and really, I don't blame you) we have seen that perfect little plus sign appear on a pregnancy test 5 times in 7 years, with 2 children that went to Heaven before they could come home to us, and 3 living, breathing, rambunctious little boys that I get the privilege of spending each day with.

Each pregnancy was a choice and honor for us.  Each life I was allowed to carry brought a change in me.  As each new pregnancy stretched and grew me as a woman, a mother and a wife, each has also just plain stretched and grown this vessel I walk around in.  

Four [nearly full-term] pregnancies in 7 years--my body has gotten into the familiar cycle: INFLATE, DEFLATE, REPEAT.  And it shows.  I would like to think of each stretch mark and undesirable pucker as a well earned badge of motherhood merit.  In choosing to have children--to grow and sustain another life--you forfeit an aspect of control and selfishness.  For me, that meant having to fight the thoughts and actions of an eating disorder.  Though I feel the most freedom in my own form when I am carrying a sweet babe inside, the aftermath never fails to leave me discouraged, insecure and seeking change in my body.

As warmer weather begins to blow in, I begin to feel that familiar panic that comes with it.  I know that I will soon have to shed the comfort and cover of winter attire and trade it in for summer things I cannot hide behind.  It is in times like these that deep rooted lies and habits by default try to make their way to the surface again.  13 years of the same thought process and routine will do that to you. 


It has looked different for me in different seasons of the past 13 years--more pronounced in some, and just lurking around the corner in others.   This eating disorder--this dishonest friend--disguises herself as truth and love and acceptance when really, the only language she speaks is deceit and hate and an approval dependent on the numbers on a scale.  

Today I finally made a point (after a month long break) to pop in my Postnatal Rescue Workout DVD.  So much of an eating disordered mentality comes with such stark black and white thinking.  In the past, when someone has said I looked "healthy," I always immediately equated it with them saying "you've put on some weight."  It would take no more than a comment (intended as a compliment) to send me into a tailspin.  How skewed our interpretation can be when an eating disorder has wreaked havoc on our perspective of what is comfortable and healthy and good for our bodies.  There was no balance--just all or nothing in one direction or the other.

I want to find a middle ground.  I want to be healthy.  Healthy mind and healthy body. 

I got about 10 minutes into the 20 minute workout when Emmitt let me know, loud and clear, that it was time for me to nurse him again.  Like, NOW, mama.  So I thought, I'm laying on my side doing a bazillion of these Pilates leg lift thingys, I can just feed him at the same time.  Multitasking--everybody wins.   I scooted on over to his soft blanket, got him all set up and away I went lifting and lowering like there's no tomorrow.  With a full tummy and his mama by his side, Emmitt drifted off to dreamy dreamland in no time.  I finished up my reps (I had lost count, but I figured that burning, leg-going-to-fall-right-off feeling meant I had been working what I needed to for a good amount of time).   Then I thought, I'll lay my head down too, you know, for just a second.  Annnnd I'm out for the count, snuggled up with my baby in the middle of my living room just 10 minutes into my "rescue" workout.  Anybody else ever fall asleep while working out?  No?  Just me?  Awesome.

So I woke up from my little impromptu siesta still squishy around the edges with a kink in my neck and a little bit of drool dried on my cheek (Emmitt's or mine--it's anyone's guess).  So hot, right?  Just keepin' it real here, folks.  Then I wonder, does it even count as a workout if I took a little snooze smack dab in the middle, and that snooze was longer than the whole workout?  *Note to self: Don't lay down while exercising, especially next to a warm, sweet smelling little babe. Otherwise, you might not ever want to get up.

Solid effort, though, right?

Today I chose time over toning--time with my youngest son who is growing up entirely too fast.  Time I didn't want to miss because I know I can never get it back.  The squats and the push ups will have to wait until later and I'm ok with that.  This time is just too important.  

I have fought the grip of an eating disorder over half as long as I have been alive.  And I am tired.   I have known the all-consuming pit that an eating disorder, in it's fullest force, can keep you in.  I have lived there in that pit.  It is desperate and lonely and hopeless.  I know the toll, the sacrifice, the head space it takes to keep it all up.  I know that for me--with 3 little boys that need a full and present mother, and a husband that deserves to grow old with his wife--it comes down to what I'm willing to give up.  It is either life with an eating disorder, or life with my family.  Simply put, I cannot do both. 

I choose my children, my beloved Adam, my God and His TRUTH.  I choose life to the full.

I know that this battle is not over in a word.  I know that there are days when I will feel my foot slipping back down into the muck and the mire.  I know that it will take time to un-learn the mindset 13 years in the making that I have grown comfortable and accustomed to.  But I serve a mighty God, and His grace is plentiful and love unconditional. 


"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; 

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."  

-John 10:10



stranded below with this cluttered up head
abandoned and lonely, confused and misled
and within a war is raging

this shell of a vessel
thin-skinned and disheveled
draped over the dress rack that teeters a bit

like a thief in the night snatched up without warning
with pleading in vain, interceding for pain
stripped bare of the privilege and mercies with morning

frantic to find in this place that is fallen
the peace that surpasses the knowing
why the hands that are mighty to save were unwilling

filled to the brim with this empty nest emptiness
a void that spills over and drenches the rest
in a place that's so dark and so deep and so hollow
where loneliness settles and help cannot follow

the giving
the taking
the hoping
the breaking

and the promise
of life to the Full

what kind of life is this?

with this missing heart piece
a pain that won't cease
and a heart that can't stand the beating


It's late and my mind is racing, so please forgive me if the following isn't the most coherent. Nevertheless, this is where I am at tonight . . .

It is hard to praise God right now. It's hard to do anything right now.  Breathing even seems like too much when there are so many things just knocking the wind right out of me.  Little reminders pack quite a punch these days, sending me back down to the ground just as I try to get my feet back under me to take a few clumsy steps. Some days it doesn't feel like it is worth the fight.

I'm struggling to find good right now.  At the risk of sounding like a horrible, selfish person, I have wondered and worried that a time will come when "my boys need me" is no longer enough.  It takes a lot to keep going.  I know that if I did not have Adam, Noah and Mason counting on me I would be in a much darker place.  Dealing with such a loss takes a toll on a family and a marriage. Relationships are affected.  So many days I wish I could just stay in bed, curl up in a ball and just be. I know I am coming up short as a mother and a wife right now, which is so frustrating because they are not a roles I take lightly.  Doing all I can is mediocre at best.  In survival mode I can only see as far as the next thing needed--breakfast, lunch, naps, dinner, baths, bedtime.  I'm running on autopilot and coffee.  Going through the motions.  Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.  That is hard.  Tough ages compounded with the exhaustion of each day of the last seven weeks makes for quite a few battles with my boys.  They deserve better than what I am capable of right now.  Contrary to the observations of strength and grace, I am weak and floundering.

My body and my head are messed up.  Neither one are functioning well and that makes dealing with the everyday things that much more difficult.  My bones feel heavy--like dead weight slumping me over.  I am dragging.  Looking back, I realized I have either been pregnant or nursing for all but a few months of the past five years as a mother and wife.  I was either growing a little life from within or working to nourish my precious boys.  The me I know best is the screwed up version from before my life began as Mrs. Miller and Mommy.  And the things I battled for so many years did not just disappear upon the changing of roles and titles.  Being healthy for my babies took priority, though the battle raged on in my head.  But during the times in between my "life sustaining" responsibilities and privileges, I have struggled and fallen hard into the strongholds I know best.  I feel more careless with myself lately.

I have spent the past seven weeks standing still as world keeps on spinning, stuck here in this place unable to move back or move forward.  Life makes me dizzy the way it whorls around and around.  I am struggling to figure out how to step back into it all.  Though we only knew our little girl for those 31 weeks, each day was sacred to me and the loss is still so profound for us.  I cannot imagine things being worse than they are now, though I'm not sure much else would surprise me at this point.  Some have related our situation to a miscarriage, which is so hurtful. Having experienced a miscarriage with our second pregnancy, I can say that as hard as it was to lose a child so early, what we went through with Maggie feels so completely different.  It's hard to be the only one to have ever known her alive for the many months she grew and moved inside of me.  Adam and our families were the only ones that held Maggie for the short time she was here with us.  I think people have trouble grasping the concept when they never saw us with her--I just went from being very pregnant to not being pregnant.  And after 7 weeks, it is old news to many. For us, it is still so fresh and raw.

I'm nervous to be out running errands, taking care of things that have to be done.  I get anxious about running into people.  I don't know if I can endure the type of comments Adam has had to receive from some people over the last month.  "Sucks about the baby" or "It's easier to lose them early on--when you don't really get to know them."  So hard.  Hearing things people have actually said makes me that much more anxious.  I realize I am not the easiest person to approach right now.  I wouldn't know what to say to someone either--there really are no words.  Some end up talking out of the need to say something and it doesn't always come out right.  Others have said nothing at all about it, and I end up feeling hurt that they didn't even acknowledge what has happened.

It doesn't help that I take everything personally and am probably overly sensitive to everyday interactions.  If the lady at the checkout looks at me the wrong way I want to burst into to tears.  Small talk is difficult.  Strangers don't know any better and frankly, some wouldn't think much about it even if they did know.  I can't exactly walk around with a sign around my neck that says,



I feel very alone right now, but it is certainly not because of a lack of support from countless friends and family members.  As hard as it is, I know it's probably where I need to be.  Although I have not been great at keeping up with everyone, your thoughts, prayers and words are appreciated, and are desperately needed still.  At the end of the day, though, I know that this is not something anyone else can take on for me.  There is no substituting, skipping ahead or going back--I am just in it.  I will never be the same woman I was before Maggie.  Things like this change a person and try as I may, my words don't begin to express the impact it has had on us so far.  With things as broken as they are, I worry about the shape I will take as I am pieced back together.  I do not want to become hardened, unable to recognize myself through the scars.

More than a few of our friends are expecting new little ones right now, and the number seems to keep on growing.  I prayed before we lost our Maggie and I continue to pray for the protection of our friends and their precious babies.  I would never want any less for those families, I just so wanted our little girl here with us, too.  I'm embarrassed to say that sometimes I feel like screaming at God, "What about my turn!?!"  As a mom, there have been times when Noah and Mason are so beside themselves once they have their mind set on something they want but cannot have, that I literally have to get down on my knees, pull them in close, take their face in my hands and look into their tear-filled eyes with my own as I speak--only then am I able to break through the hysteria and get their attention.

No matter how much I stomp my feet, scream or beg, God has made His decision--and that is not going to change.  He certainly has my attention now more than ever.  And although I don't think it was His sole purpose behind taking Maggie back to Him, I do believe he had a soul purpose in mind.

As parents, we hurt when our kids hurt.  But we say to our children, "I don't always need to give you a reason--you need to obey simply because you trust and respect us as your parents. We know you can't understand it at this moment, but we love you and would never do anything to harm you."

I am angry, confused, devastated, lost and exhausted.  I am struggling to feel Him.  When I can feel Him, I can feel Maggie because she is with Him.  I want to curl up on His lap right next to my daughter and just be ok.  Even though it is hard to praise Him right now, I know that He is my only hope of peace.  Not today or tomorrow.  Not next week, next month or even next year.  Someday.  In the mean time, I am desperately trying to keep from unraveling.