Tabitha Yates

Tabitha Yates
Jesus Loving, Homeschooling Mama of 3 Amazing Kids, Veteran's Wife and Aspiring Author

Saturday, July 6, 2019


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Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Old Enough

“Oh yeah, I’m turning 9 and that’s half way to 18,” my daughter teasingly said to me, in a sing song voice.
It was the night before her 9th birthday and I tend to make a big deal out of the last night as a, whatever age she is. When she was 1 years old, she received a book for her birthday called, “If I Could Keep you Little.” Every night on her birthday’s eve, she pulls it out and asks me to read it to her and thank GOODNESS, she hasn’t grown out of it yet. She pulled out her book on this very momentous last night as an 8 years old and cuddled up in my arms. As I squeezed her tight, I felt this familiar twinge of pain, mixed with the tiniest BIT of panic!
I think it’s because adding a 3rd child to the mix, permanently makes your family feel as if you are living on fast forward, but the last 2 years or so; I have REALLY been aware of how fast time is going with my only daughter and wondering how to make it slow down.
Parenthood is a tricky thing. You spend so much time either wishing they would just get past a certain age (Hello terrible two’s!) or a certain phase. Then in the next breath, you’re wishing you could just hold on to them longer and keep them little. I am in the throws of both phases at once, due to my kid’s ages. 
My daughter is 9 and my sons are 2 and 4. So, I spend half my time wishing my boys would get just a tiny bit older. Old enough that we can all go to the movies. Old enough that my life doesn’t revolve around nap times and toddler meltdowns. Old enough that we can go out to dinner at a restaurant and sit down…and stay…and not feel like we could have just set our money on fire afterwards!
But then, here’s this not so little girl and it seems like just yesterday I was wishing she would get just a little bit older as well. Old enough to be potty trained. Old enough to sleep on her own. Old enough to not have such awful separation anxiety.
After all the wishing and waiting for a different season of motherhood, it suddenly seems, she is old enough now. We can go out to eat and chat like little best friends. We go on shopping sprees without the boys and order hot chocolate from Starbucks and spend way too long in Target. We wait till the boys fall asleep early and sneak downstairs with chocolate, to watch a Hallmark movie or “big girl” show. I find myself feeling this sense of urgency at times, like I just don’t have enough time left with her. By the time her brother’s get “old enough,” she’s going to be a preteen and I’m going to be wishing the boys would just stop growing too!
We cannot stop this inevitable paradigm of parenthood. We inadvertently wish away so many seasons of their life and then once they are gone, we mourn that we can’t get them back. I have felt such a strong pull in the last year or two particularly, to make my time with my kids count-to go on the trip even if my 2 years old freaks out the whole airplane ride and I need a vacation to recover from the vacation! To let them stay up late for movie nights and sleepovers, even though the Mombie in me is ready for Netflix and chill by 8pm. To let go of all my order and rules sometimes and let us eat dessert before dinner, even though I know I’ll pay for it later; when they’re bouncing off the walls at bed time! 
I want to be intentional in the time I spend with my children. I want to make it a priority. I want to make sure that I don’t look back with regrets. They’re only this age once and before you know it, the moment is a memory. I want to store up as many as I possibly can of just BEING with my kids, being present in the moment…laughing, hugging, cuddling, reading, and being totally wrapped up in the joy that only Motherhood can bring. It won’t always be this way, Mama. Their independence will come and it cannot be stopped. So, relish the nights they cry out for you and the days they seem to always be underfoot; because the day our babies turn 18 will come faster than we can imagine and as sure as the sun will rise, they will grow old enough and we will miss this beautiful, life giving exhaustion we are going through right now.

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Monday, January 14, 2019

God does not plan your pain, He plans His purpose for your pain

Life hurts sometimes, doesn't it? 
People cause us pain, our health fails us, jobs are lost, relationships are broken, we lose someone we love.
Through quite literally my entire lifetime, I have faced more pain than I have often imagined was "fair" or even fathomable. 
I have spent the better part of my life wrestling with WHY God let me live through it- the abuse, the abandonment, so many health problems, watching my child almost die, the isolation of parenting a kid with special needs, the list goes on and on.
Then God brought me to the other side. No, not an imaginary destination where all my problems went away; but a place where I could finally see the beauty God was making out of the ashes of my life. A purpose for the pain.
With the hurt, comes healing. With the healing, comes wisdom. With the story, comes a responsibility to tell it. With the pain, came a compassion and understanding to rally around others who are hurting in the same way.
With my story, God brought countless people into my life; who needed to know there is another side and you CAN get across. That some things don't hurt forever and even when they do, God can still redeem that painful experience and you can still use something meant to harm you, to help others.
God doesn't have a PLAN to harm you. It's not His will. The Bible is clear about this. We live in broken world, full of shattered people, who can't help but destroy others as we step on their shards of glass.
But while the pain you are going through wasn't His doing, He already had a purpose to use that pain to make this world a better place. He always has a redemption story for us and I'm just starting to live mine...

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Bless This Mess

Tonight I've been reflecting on the degree of separation I've always felt from most people.
It always had to do with the thought, "Their lives aren't anything like the mess mine is. They would never understand or accept me."
Throughout my youth, I was told by some very pivotal people in my life, that I was beyond help and not worth saving, that I should just kill myself. I've been told that I am ugly and homely and no one would ever love or want a girl like me. That no one likes people like me period. 
The more people told me these vicious lies, the more I projected it onto God. If everyone thinks this of me, why wouldn't He?!
The more cruel the world was to me, the more I hid my heart from all the people around me. To this day, there are very few people that I can say truly know me.
The farther I withdrew and the more distance I put between God and I, the more it became scarred in my heart and mind that I was truly beyond hope and beyond saving. And even if I could be saved, who would want to save a broken mess like me?
But I want to tell you something so important to me, for any heart that needs to hear this.

You are not alone in your pain.
If you were sitting in church this morning and it hurt to smile and all the songs were too short and peppy and didn't reflect your heart and your hurt, you weren't the only one.
If you are too angry and have been too broken down and sick of the hypocrites to even step into a church, I've been there too.
If you've spent your whole life running from any real relationship, because your heart just can't take getting hurt or rejected one more time; I see you.
If you have ever been told that you are anything but beautiful, worthy of love and that YOU ARE worth the fight, I'm telling you now that it's a lie from the pit of hell.
Don't you waste one more second believing that any part of you is beyond or not worth saving. 
Please believe me when I tell you, that God loves you enough to reach into the hell you are in, to pull you out.

He loves you enough to leave behind the guaranteed 99, to chase after you...his one lost sheep.
There is absolutely NOTHING you could have possibly done, that would or could make Him not love you.
There is nothing that has ever been done TO you, that made you unworthy.
You are never too far gone and there is nowhere that you can run, that Jesus won't come running after you.
We might have had some really pathetic people in our lives that didn't know how to love us and were terrible models of what we deserve.
You may have been hurt. You may have been abused. You may have been lied to and betrayed. Someone may have given up on you, when you wanted them to fight. 
I've been there on ALL counts, but tonight I rest in this truth...My God will never stop fighting for me. He will never stop coming after me. He will never stop breaking down the walls I keep trying to put up, to protect myself and there is not a moment, when He isn't willing to step into my mess and love me right where I'm at.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Acknowledgement is not Agreement

 There’s been a shift in the world, in the way in which we treat one another. Have you felt it?

I have started to notice it more and more in the last maybe 5 years or so, that something changed.

There have been disagreements since the beginning of time, but it feels like no one is agreeing to disagree anymore.

Cyber bullying is exploding all over social media and one of the biggest triggers these days is politics.

There are so many keyboard warriors ready to attack, because thanks to our social media platforms; they often know our opinions, before they really know us.

There’s a local resident’s page in my little town, where so many fights happen on the regular and I sit there in wonder; that all these people are neighbors and are going to run into each other in our only grocery store the next day! Do you think they won’t recognize you from your profile picture? Goodness! I’d wear a paper bag on my head if I was talking to my neighbors online, like so many people I’ve witnessed do!

 I wonder how far we’ve fallen that we don’t know what it means to be a good neighbor anymore.

It used to be that our family, friendships and acquaintances weren’t defined and more importantly weren’t ended, based on if we were Republican or Democrat. 

There used to be a civility between us, that no matter what opinions we differed in, at the end of the day we recognized that we were still neighbors, friends or family and that we still have more common threads that bind us, then divide us. 

Now, you see people making grand declarations on their Facebook pages, “If you voted for So-So, unfriend me now!” Really?

I made a resolution this year that no matter how much I may not agree foundationally with someone’s opinions, that I would be quiet and hear them out; so that I could understand what life experience led them to that point of view. That way, I could marry their strong points of view, with who they are aside from our clashing perspectives. It makes it easier to find common ground.   
I wanted to make sure that on the most basic level, I was respecting them as a human being, who has the right to their opinions.

That’s what’s really wrong now. There is so little respect to be found in OUR generation. So, what are we modeling for our kids? You see the bullying starting at quite honestly, unacceptable ages nowadays. You see children with no respect for their parents, their elders, their authority figures and most importantly, themselves. WE have to change, if we want them to be kind, tolerant and loving to the world around them, not just the people who think exactly like them.

 What are we showing our kids if we unfriend, stop speaking to or otherwise ostracize people in our lives that don’t share our points of views? That they shouldn’t accept differences? What happens the next time THEY meet someone who is a bit different in their lives? Perhaps the lack of being inclusive to kids who have special needs or kids that stand out, and the bullying and subsequent suicides of these beautiful children who are FAR too young to even be thinking like this; is a reflection of what they see the adults in their lives doing, on some scale.

All these blood baths we’ve seen in the last several elections due to politics, cannot define our culture and our future.

You can acknowledge people who think differently than you.

We never know what experiences shape a person’s perspective and we don’t have the right to invalidate their viewpoints, because we don’t agree.

You can stand up for what you believe is right, without stepping on people to do it.

You can communicate effectively and get your points across, while not being condescending and calling those who don’t see things your way, names.

We have to come together and understand that acknowledgement is NOT agreement.
 I don’t have to agree with who you voted for or what your lifestyle is and you don’t have to think like me or understand why I make the choices I make. But just because we don’t see eye to eye, that doesn’t mean we should disrespect, ignore or berate each other. I still owe it to you, to acknowledge you as a person and treat you with love and respect.

A tremendous lack of love is what we’re dealing with now in our world, in our children, in our friendships.

My faith tells me that loving my neighbor as myself, is my highest calling. How could we change the world and the course we’re on, if we put a bigger priority on loving people, than we did on being right?

What would happen if you made a promise to yourself, that you wouldn’t ever insult another human being; just because they thought differently than you?

What shift would we see, if we opened up friendly and respectful dialogues among family, friends, and co-workers and ended those conversations with a hand shake and a sheepish; “Agree to disagree?”

How amazing would it be if we started talking TO people, instead of ABOUT them? Imagine the problems we could solve!

What if we stop contributing to the disrespect and ugliness, we are all so tired of and start being the change we want to see in the world and more importantly the change our kids NEED to see happen? We have the power to adjust the course we’re on, so that they have a bright and beautiful world to look forward to.

People change and evolve. Politicians come and go.Sometimes our opinions even evolve, as we do. However, some people we may never see eye to eye with. The next time you are confronted by a person who doesn’t see things the way you do, try to take a step back and view them for the whole person they are, not just for their differing points of view. Then try to approach each person with a foundational love and respect for them as your fellow humans. Let love lead the way, because love…love is what matters.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Resolve with Grace: New Years Resolutions with a Twist

 I am a visual person. I am a list maker.
 I like to plan and attack..or sometimes I plan and then nap instead, but still there were good intentions,right?!
I have always been one to write New Years Resolutions. I believe in living with intentionality. I think if you visualize what you want your life to look like and write down steps that you can take of how to get there, you at least have some general direction and sense of purpose at the start of each New Year.
This last year was like any other. I went out for coffee.
 I sat alone and reflected on my life. I thought of where I am now and where I want to be. 
I pondered what kind of example I was showing my children and if I was really living up to my fullest potential and then I wrote my list accordingly.
This was just after Christmas and then right before New Years, I had a family situation knock all the wind out of me. I went into January, just trying to keep my head above water and that pattern seemed to continue for a good part of the Year.
Now, here we are in mid December and I do the thing that I always do, where I reevaluate my resolutions. I must be a glutton for punishment! I review what I accomplished and where I "fell short." 
As I sat there reading and sighing, as I scanned over each unmet resolution; I came to a really life altering revelation for me.
By all outward appearances, I actually totally bombed on a lot of what I thought I had wanted to accomplish for my year. Somehow though, I came out a stronger me than I've ever been and an emotionally freed version of myself, that I haven't met up until now.
I was able to start a very hard process of letting go of toxic people. I can finally see just the slightest bit of my worth, that no one can take away from me again. I dug to the depths of my soul and my memories, to lay to rest so many old demons and heartaches. I found the power that I have to change the voice in my head. It can be anything I want it to be. I can replace the message of self doubt, with self confidence. I can stop hearing that I'll never amount to anything and start telling myself that I am good enough and I turned into a great Mother. I can learn this incredibly illusive self love thing!
I worked SO hard on my emotional health and well being.While maybe nothing changed that you can see on the outside, I can FEEL it and THAT feels amazing. I can cope with stress a bit better. I can breathe a little easier. I can face the hard things and the difficult people I avoided.
I went into 2018 wanting to be better and I believe I can honestly say at the end of it all, that I am.
So, here I sit thinking about what I want 2019 to look like. What goal should I crush? What dream should I chase after? Should I even make resolutions?

Here's what I decided to do. Maybe you'd like to join me.
I am going to Resolve to give myself more grace in the coming year.
I'm going to make more "lenient" resolutions.
I am going to make allowances for my shortcomings, because I'm human and it's okay.
I am not going to look at a misstep, as a failure. 
If I am tired, I am going to rest. 
If I feel like I can take on the world, I will. 
I am going to be a loving Mom, not a perfect mom.
I am going to make memories for my kids, while remembering that what they will remember most is if I was a joyful person on a regular basis; not if I did grand things I can't afford.
I am going to stop comparing my behind the scenes, to another person's highlight reels. 
I am going to find things to be thankful for in every day.
If I make mistakes, I am going to show my kids the power of forgiving yourself.
If I make my list and check it twice and then at some point in 2019, decide to throw it away and start all over; I will.
 Because I will continue to change and evolve and what really matters to me and what's really best for my family cannot always be checked off a list. 
Happy New Year, Friends!
 I wish you a beautiful, fresh start filled with grace. I hope you will live your best life, whatever that looks like for you.
 I hope you can let go of the things that weigh you down and hold you back and find joy, freedom and make it the best year yet!

Monday, December 3, 2018

Find Your Voice

Motherhood is uniquely experienced by all. No two mothers are the same and no two babies are the same. So understandably, we all go through a trying to figure out what is best for us phase of parenthood.

We receive unsolicited advice from every well-meaning acquaintance we’ve ever met. We are bombarded on social media with everything we should or should not be doing. We are surrounded by constant “tips” that for a first time Mom, can be incredibly overwhelming. Enter me…

As a first-time mother of a baby with special needs, I questioned myself at every turn.

When she was first born and they told me she had a cleft palate and hearing loss, I almost immediately had a nervous breakdown in the hospital after they gave me a little brochure that stated that the absolute cause of clefts is unknown, but some contributing factors may be medications mother took in pregnancy, stress in pregnancy, mother’s weight, etc.

Oh my gosh, those all apply! This is all my fault, I thought. They sent in a counselor to talk to me as I cried that I didn’t know how I was going to take care of her.

 He asked me, “Are you going to love her?”
“Well of course”, I replied.
“Do you have a home prepared for her or is she going to live in a dresser drawer?” He questioned me.
“I have everything ready for her.” I said through tears. “I have been waiting for her my whole life.”
 “Well then”, he says, “You will learn about how to care for her the way she needs and you will love her and 
everything is going to be okay. I think you can do this.”

And do it, I did. With great fear and trembling, I took this little person home and dove head first into therapies, specialists, surgeons, special feedings and medical grade equipment in the house.

I learned how to put one foot in front of the other each day and to be what she needed, even when all my strength was gone.

I had to find MY voice as her mother, which was my greatest struggle the first 2 years of her life. I was surrounded by doctors and specialists who all thought they knew what she needed, more than I did. As a first time Mom in her twenties, it took a long time for me to realize that I know something more than they do. I know HER. My body grew her. My arms carry her. My heart aches with every little cry she utters. I know her every pattern, every sigh, every look.

 I know how to advocate for her better than anyone. I learned to trust my gut feeling and be strong for her, when I needed to.

I discovered a protectiveness that I’ve never felt for anyone else.

I formed a bond that not a person on this Earth can hold a candle to.

I watch my heart walking outside my body everywhere she goes.

Being a Mama is so heart wrenchingly beautiful. We have been given such an amazing intuition and we know our kids like no one else can.

 There are enough relatives and random strangers out there to second guess us, so let’s not do it to ourselves.

I am not going to lie, by the time I had my 2nd and 3rd kids, I was like a tiny Dictator to anyone who tried to give me unsolicited advice, because I trusted myself this time. I vowed to not pickup another parenting book unless it really encouraged me and uplifted me. I unsubscribed to all the “What your baby should be doing every flipping week” e-mails, because they were stressful! 

I stopped asking everyone else what they thought I should do and started to ask myself what was right for MY children.

Find your voice, Mama. Trust yourself. Give yourself grace for not knowing what you didn’t know before. Arm yourself with knowledge. Free yourself from the opinions of others.

 I always say, as long as I know I did my absolute best and my children know they are utterly loved, when my head hits the pillow each night; I can sleep in peace. Sleep tight, Mommy…for however many hours it will be till your babies crawl in bed, to find their safe place in your arms once again.

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