Where have I been?

Lately, I’ve been asked about the blog and whether or not I am still “doing it.” Short answer: YES! Of course. But, that comes with an explanation because as most of you have gathered, I haven’t been as active with it. Or not that you can see.

Having a blog has been one of the most fruitful things I’ve done in some time. While I love hearing how it has impacted some of you that read it; the fruit I am most enjoying is what I see God doing to my own heart.

Since starting the blog, God has really been testing me. If I claim to have all this joy and a joyful perspective, I’d better be able to prove it through my life, right? Well, the Lord is so good to keep us in check. Y’all if we are truly following after Jesus hard, we should expect a constant underflow of conviction. There isn’t a day that goes by that I haven’t asked the Lord to forgive me, change me, or strengthen me, or renew me, or restore me, or ya know- all of the things He does to us when we feel his conviction.

This blog- it’s been ONE BIG LONG CONVICTION. And since my birthday and the launch of this thing, I’m learning just how precious his conviction is. Conviction is A GOOD THING. And we need to be humble enough to not only recognize that it’s good, but that it’s necessary. And even more, we need to invite God in to do His work. Conviction is the only way we change. Conviction tells us of where God wants us to go. It’s a gift. In God’s love, He has given you and I a choice. How will we respond to the conviction? Will we invite God to work in us? Are we willing to humble ourselves and listen when he speaks?

So, let me give you a little recap as to where I am at.

If you’ve not read any of my posts- let me give you a quick rundown. I am a wife, and full time SAHM. I have two children, Jordan (4) and Hannah (2). They are some really special and sweet babes. And they are also a HANDFUL. Within the past couple months, my sweet, adorable, gentle daughter has really been growing into her personality. She’s developed this new thing…. SASS. Okay, well, she’s always had it. But now? It’s strong. Hannah Joy is my spit fire daughter that demands so much of my energy all while melting my heart. HOW do children manage to drive us completely bonkers all while we smile and think, “gosh, you’re cute.” That’s what she does to me. She is a ball of energy, rarely sits down, doesn’t like to be safe and basically rules my life. AND I AM SOOOO in love with her. My son, Jordan- he’s entered this new stage of defiance. He has really learned how to push all the right buttons and press every nerve. He is also so smart and inquisitive and kind. The other day, he walked into Hannah’s room and said, “Hi my beautiful Hannah.” I mean, come on. Annnnd then five minutes later he was using some beads as numb chucks and nearly took her out. I don’t know what has happened since I launched this blog- but my kids are at a whole new level of demand. Not to mention, my husband has been traveling away from the home A LOT lately. Like- every week, he’s gone for daysssss. The. struggle. is. real. And it will never get old, saying that.

Needless to say- I’m pretty busy. Like all you other mothers out there with young kids- ya get it. Whether you work out of the house or in it, whether you have five kids or one- you get it. Life at this stage is just challenging. Period.

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I tried pooping four different times today. I had an audience for all but the last time. Hannah wanted to give me the step stool, Jordan needed me to get a lego man’s head out of his little lego helmet (that’s actually really hard)… ya know, all while I’m just trying to go number two…. At one point in all of my tries, I said, “ I just want to POOP ALONE!!!” And then let my face land in my hands while I prayed that God stop me from crying about trying to go potty. Too much info? If you’re a mom in the same season of life, not only was that not too much info for you, I bet you even felt a deeper connection with me just then. #solidarity. Another truth- I haven’t showered since Monday. It’s Thursday night. My dog pooped and peed on the floor today before I could personally accomplish the task. It’s 10:28 and I still haven’t finished my dinner. There’s laundry on the table, in baskets, in the washer and in the dryer. The kitchen needs mopping, the fridge needs cleaning, the mirrors haven’t been wiped since, oh I don’t know- when we moved in?

So, yes, I am still doing the blog- but I haven’t been finding as much time to do it lately.

What does all of this have to do with conviction? Well, as a joy spreader- I feel this compelling urge to encourage other people. I find such great pleasure in spreading love and good cheer. I love helping someone and making them feel better. I love, even more, helping people see how loved they are by God and how much JOY he has for them. I like to dig deep into the yuckiest mess and pull out a treasure. We all have crap going on- some of us are sick, some of us are tired, some of us are stressed, some of us have unanswered questions, some of us need hope, some of us need guidance- we all have something. And gosh is it a JOY to help people find joy in the midst of their circumstance?! However, as I’ve been becoming more and more called to sacrifice lately, I’ve been faced more and more with the fact that I am absolutely called to be a joy spreader. Just not how I imagined doing it. Yes, I am called to spread joy everywhere I go. But when I’m not going- I’m here. In my home, with my family. And I am SO much called to spread joy here, first! Yes, I’ve got this urge to encourage you in the area of joy through this blog BUT, not before I: 1. make time to find joy in my own personal relationship with Jesus and 2. Spread joy to my husband and children.

Hence, the conviction.

I’ve been talking with God about how to take care of my family’s needs first and foremost before setting out to encourage others and spread joy outside of my home. It’s so hard because I feel so strongly that this is what I was made to do. Guys- I seriously have about 40 posts half finished, there’s about ten that just need to be edited. (When I say edited- I simply mean, making sure most of the words are spelled right and that I at least wrote in complete sentences. My standards are low.) I think of about 5 different people a day that I want to send texts to, or a small gift or card in the mail. I want to spend time with women that I know need a good, trusted friend. I want to do a lot of things. But, as steady and faithful as water flows down a river, I hear God whisper, “not before you bless them,” and I see him pointing me back to my two sticky, smiley kids or my handsome, hard-working husband. I respond with a, “yes, Father,” and I obey. It seems sweet- but there’s this raging pull in my heart to take me back to the other things I want to do. This blog, being one. The best word I can use to describe this feeling is, TENSION. There’s a pretty even pull on both ends. On one side I have a strong desire to serve my family and my home. On the other side, I have the desire to write, and minister. Both are calls on my life, both are good, but ONE is priority.

Some of you mother hustlers out there understand this. You have hobbies, or passions, or side hustles. You love expressing yourself through your personal talents and gifts. Moms, it is not wrong to have desires that take us out of our homes. I, for one, am even being convicted of just how much I need to release certain expectations I have on myself. I’m letting go of a meticulously cleaned house, so that I can sit here and write to you. I mean, I don’t watch TV much, I rarely even read books anymore and I still can’t find time to shower…. So again, I find myself having to recenter and refocus.

I am setting out on the same mission I started with. I am seeking the Joy of the Lord, and spreading it.

I am just being really careful in where most of my energy goes and who I spread the joy to first. God’s been showing me that He is absolutely calling me to be a wife, mother AND blogger. But it’s taking sacrifice and I’m still learning what it looks like, practically. So yeah, maybe in this season of life, I write less. Maybe I spend less time with other women or in other ministries. And that is okay. Us Mamas know- our husbands are worth it. Our kids are worth it! And I refuse to spread myself so thin making others see my joy that my kids miss out on it.

I mean, who the heck would want to find out that I’m some closet jerk face? The joy blogger is actually more like Eeyore at home, and she never pays attention to her family because she’s so busy trying to write about joy…. NOT what I am trying to do here. Being in ministry of any kind is hard work. NEWSFLASH Christian- whether it’s your job title, whether you have a blog or not, you ARE in ministry. Just make sure you understand what it is your life is actually ministering and who it is you’re ministering to the most. Living in this tension is good for me. I have been seeing just how much this life of mine is actually not about me at all. As I press in to find joy and spread it, I am learning to respond even quicker to his conviction.

When my kids look back and read some of these early posts, I hope and pray they will be able to say that whatever Mom wrote on her blog was consistent with how she acted at home. That is an ongoing conviction that I am working on and determined to press in to. God is such a good Father. I can look back on his story through the Bible and see faithfulness and consistency. I want to give that to my children. Trust me, as I’m figuring out how to squeeze out the moments in this life, to write here on this blog, it’s with the heart that what you read is what I’m living. I encourage you to be the same way. Invite God in and ask him if your family is getting the best of you. Whatever hobbies, dreams or desires you may have, ask God to fine tune them. Relinquish the control and constant desire. Ask him to show you the way to have a consistent joy that comes with his consistent conviction. I’m praying that through this post, you find joy in where God is calling you. Be a good steward of the priorities in your life, and be patient as He takes you to and through new things.

For all you mamas with young kids that just want to poop alone- I’m praying for you tonight, too.

Shelly Jata