30.3.15

the changing seasons of motherhood.

We are in the midst of a changing season, our family. It's hitting me rather suddenly, for which I blame the rapid nature that we started and added to our family. And it's weird and glorious and freeing and sometimes I cry tears of sadness thinking about it. Basically, I'm feeling ALL THE FEELINGS as our home no longer houses a baby.

It was an exciting time, 2010-2013. Always an announcement, anticipation, excitement. A positive test, a gender reveal, she's here!, he's here!, she's here! It was not a season where it was hard to feel gratitude, no indeed. The lives entrusted to our care are a humbling reminder that God is in the business of giving us things we don't deserve. 

His grace is glaring, particularly in those three gooey newborn faces. Why was it us who were able to have children easily? Why were we blessed with three lives to shepherd, when our own lives are still so much in the refinement process, when our marriage wasn't perfect and we were prideful and selfish and still are. 


I don't know why we've been given these gifts, but not a day passes that I'm not extremely grateful for our little ones - for my ability to conceive them, to birth them without complication, to nurture them and watch them grow. The days are long but the years are short, as the adage goes. And now that we're past the years of babies, I really feel the truth there.

I don't want to be that mother who longs for a time gone by. I want to love every season of motherhood, while looking forward with excitement and looking back with gratitude. But it's hard to be moving out of the season of babies, even if I'm excited for everything the new season of pre-school and school aged children brings (independence! adventures! real conversations with them!). 

I don't know what God has for us in the future - if we'll adopt some day, what age the hypothetical child would be, etc. But for now I can say with certainty that the baby years are behind us. We'll shortly be saying goodbye to our trusty crib. The infant car seat, Jolly Jumper, exersaucer, swaddle blankets, and bottles are all long gone. The toy and book piles (and piles!) are thinning out as all the kids are beginning to play with the same things. Our condo feels larger as we've shed the baby gear, if only smaller as their rambunctious bodies grow and grow. While I've always been an advocate for having your children close if you're able, this is one serious drawback; it's over as quick as it began. 

I'm so thankful, so excited, so conflicted. Like I said, all the feelings.

27.3.15

Netflix love.

So right off the bat I'll tell you, we're not too big on TV. We don't have cable and we don't miss it. We do have Netflix and I buy occasional seasons on iTunes if I'm particularly into the series. And we'll rent the odd movie. Our kids get to watch one or two 20 minute shows each day, but it's not unusual for us to skip TV for a day, and there are days when they watch a little more (especially this past cold-flu season!). In general, Brad and I want to be cautious about how much TV our kids watch, and what the content is, and likewise for ourselves.

There are a couple things I would love if we had available to us such as NHL games, cooking shows, and TLC (hi, I'm weird and love the Duggars), but we decided a long time ago that it wasn't worth the $50+/month cable bill. I'm happy to have the money savings, but it's more than that. Now that we're completely unexposed to commercials, I find them jarring when I see and hear them. Commercials for things we can't afford, things I don't want my kids to have, for shows we don't want to watch,  promoting worldviews we weren't excited about. Just, bleck. Also, cable TV after 10pm? sketchoooooooooo.


Commercials really annoy me, and are one huge perk of Netflix. Netflix spares us the commercials and shortens screen time by 10 minutes per episode. Win-win!

But Netflix is sometimes an enormous hunt for something worthwhile. So I'm always asking friends what they've recently seen on Netflix to spare me the endless scrolling. So, let me be that friend for you today!
  1. Downton Abbey 
  2. Mr. Selfridge 
  3. Call The Midwife 
  4. The Paradise 
  5. various TED talks
  6. The Mindy Project
  7. Suits
And Movies:
  1. The Way Way Back
  2. Spinning Plates
  3. Jim Gaffigan: Mr. Universe
  4. What to Expect (I know, but any mama can appreciate a novelty pregnancy flick)
  5. Secrets of Chatsworth, Althorp, Henry VIII's Palace, Highclere Castle, Selfridges (these Brit documentaries GET ME)
On My List:
  1. Kings of Summer
  2. Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
  3. Somm
  4. Dan in Real Life (LOVE but want to re-watch)
  5. Julie & Julia (LOVE as well, and actually own somewhere...)
  6. Haute Cuisine
  7. Populaire
  8. Red Obsession
  9. Kings of Pastry
  10. United
  11. Velvet
  12. The Mind of a Chef
You will notice a theme of British period dramas and foodie flicks. I won't defend myself!

What are you watching?


25.3.15

on being a pastor's wife

Before finding myself holding the title, I knew very little of what it was to be a pastor's wife. For that I'm extremely grateful.


I'm told that women feel all sorts of pressure as pastor's wives. That there are expectations on them that can be crushing, that they're lonely, that they over-serve and feel under-appreciated. At least that's what every book penned for pastor's wives tells me. And that's obviously true for many, but it's really really not a guarantee and it's not been my experience at all.

The pastor's wives in my short history of church experience were a mixed bag.

At the first church I went to after becoming a Christian, she was white haired and sweet and sang in the choir. She wasn't very visible but it was impressed upon me, I think quite naturally, that she loved her husband and she loved the church. Definitely some good takeaways, some inapplicable (please the white hair).

The next two churches I went to were what you might call "mega churches" (in Canada, this meant 1,000 and 3,000 people respectively), and I had extremely limited exchanges with the pastor's wives. There were so many people, you had to basically be in her inner circle to know her. Her virtuous character was widely known, and she seemed wonderful, but she was completely inaccessible. I'm not sure if this was intentional, but none of them had facebook pages or instagram accounts. Privacy is valuable, but it felt like a little much. And some people do insist that a pastor's wife can't have close friendships within her church, and that the privacy of the pastor and his family should be paramount. But we aren't those people and I don't think the early church was either. More on that another day.

And finally, the last church we attended (where we were members and where Brad served as an Elder), had no pastor's wife, as our pastor was single.

So. Here I am. Two years in to our church plant, and I suppose two years in to being a pastor's wife. With very little to compare my experience to, and a resounding joy.

I accredit a lot of my ease and joy as a pastor's wife to my husband, who made it clear from day one that the church plant wasn't his thing that I was to support him in, it was our thing and we were a team, and he loved having me at his side. See the difference? It's subtle, but huge. The church plant was our dream, our calling, and our passion. Together we welcomed a handful of people into our living room one evening to dream, and together we now call Eglise du Plateau our church, along with 100 or so others.

In a church plant, you have the luxury of creating traditions and beginning the culture within your church. Of course with every new soul that joins us, that culture grows and moves, but the standards are set at the beginning. In the beginning of our church plant I was newly pregnant with our third baby, and my capacity was limited. So we went with it. I couldn't attend everything I'd like, and after 10pm my brain would become more or less mush so I wasn't as vocal (darn you, second language for always failing me after 10pm). And that was the standard. So as my capacity has grown in the last year now that I'm out of the pregnancy/new born stage, I've loved taking more on and our people seem to love having me around more (at least I hope so!). But I've never felt that I needed to be at every event or that I had to be home with my kids. I did what I could as my capacity allowed, always trying to be faithful to my dual callings to motherhood and church ministry.

As far as other stereotypes like the pastor's wife always leading the children's ministry or worship team, that pressure has never been there. Maybe because I can't sing a tune or play a chord? Thank you Jesus for failing to bless me with musical talent. And at the start, our church's Sunday school was essentially my three kids and another family, so it was glaringly obvious that I shouldn't be leading children's ministry, nor did I want to.

And then there's language. I wish there were more resources out there for pastor's wives and church planter's who serve cross-culturally, because for us that's one of the most significant hurdles. Our church is French and I'm not yet bilingual. While mostly my lack of fluency is a problem, I often see it as a small grace from God, as it's protected me over and over again from experiencing the pastor's wife burn out I read about. I'm not expected to lead a women's devotional, to do announcements, or teach Sunday school, because I'm not fluent in the language of our church. It's plain and simple. And while French fluency is my top personal goal, my lack of it has sheltered me from any expectations that might have been crushing.

One thing I wish I read more in books or blog posts written for pastor's wives is what a great joy it is to be married to a pastor. It's seriously wonderful. I get a front row seat to Jesus transforming people's lives. I get to see God providing my husband with the words to say when he's doing sermon preparation and I'm praying for him. I get to walk through pre-marital counseling with young couples from our church, some of whom I've been praying for spouses for, for many years (a privilege which often brings me to tears). I get to attend a ton of weddings and a ton of baby showers, and hi, I love a good party. I get to raise my children in a community of people who are thankful for them and love them and are so often seeking to serve our family.

I get e-mails somewhat regularly asking about my experience as a church planter's wife/ pastor's wife/ anglophone serving in a French church and while there is more to say and nuances to each role, it's really truly a joy. A great and profound joy.

///
*If every you would like me to address specific parts of being a pastor's wife/church planter's wife on this blog, feel free to e-mail me your question and I'll try my best to answer it! emily.terreberry@gmail.com  

23.3.15

changing the sibling dynamic

When a new sibling joins the family, parents are on high alert to make sure everyone adjusts as well as possible. I remember navigating that rocky road twice and it wasn't easy on us or the older sibling(s) welcoming a new family member. But eventually the kids got used to their new sibling and our family couldn't remember life before the newest member had arrived. Like so often in this parenting gig, the second you're comfortable, everything changes. 

Our three kids all get along, share a room, and are basically great friends. It's so sweet now that Chloe is old enough to join in the fun. But in just a couple months, Lily will be starting kindergarten and gone five days a week from 8-3. To help her be more prepared for full days at school (completely in French!), we've upped her days at preschool to 3x per week. One of the days she is at school with Oli, but now it's two days a week that she's off at school and the younger two are home together. And I'm already seeing the shift. Instead of the older two being inseparable, it's often the younger two. 


It's a great joy as a parent seeing your kids get along. It's not every waking moment, but it's more often than not. My question is, how do you avoid the siblings leaving another out? Our family dynamic is ripe for someone feeling left out. Maybe the older two (only 15 months apart) pair off, leaving out the "baby". Maybe the younger two pair off since the oldest is off at school (and Lily and Oli are a full two grades apart so it'll be two years before he joins her at school). Maybe the girls pair off leaving out the lone boy. See what I'm saying?

I've always wanted four kids to avoid the third wheel dynamic, that many of my friends who came from families of three experienced. Even numbers seems easiest to include everyone, but what about when you are a family with three kids? How can we work to avoid someone feeling left out?

Here are a couple things I think help our case:

1. Our kids are a peer group (meaning they're all very close in age), so birth order isn't as emphasized.

2. All of the kids share a room and we live in a small space, so they're really always together, the three of them.

3. We haven't emphasized big gender distinctions with play or hobbies, so the girl's aren't off doing one "girl's" activity, leaving out their brother. They all play dolls, they all play trains, they all play super heroes, etc.

But some sibling bonding is natural, and I'm sure it's natural for kids to bond with one sibling in a stronger way than their other(s). I just have no experience with this, having just one sibling. And I'd definitely be more comfortable with the kids having one sibling they were closer with if we had even numbers, or more than three kids.

Anyway, I'd love to hear your thoughts. //

Were you/ Are you closer to one sibling over another? Was/is this negative?
How did your parent's include all of the siblings?
Do you see this pattern in your own kids? 
What are you trying to keep the kids all close and not leaving out a sibling?

21.3.15

my thoughts, after giving up instagram for a couple weeks. (read: quitting Lent)

A few weeks ago, I posted this to Instagram:


Taking an Instagram break for the remainder of Lent. I love this form of social media something fierce but I think the extra time + attention leading up to Easter will be good for me ♡ /// see you soon!


I love Instagram and usually post several pictures a day. Facebook annoys me, and I could never really get into Twitter, but Instagram gets me. I was the girl who read blogs for the pictures, before Instagram came along. I love seeing. I'm a visual learner, I'm easily inspired and set to action (something that can be problematic as I'll soon discuss), and I live far away from many of my closest friends. Seeing images that inspire and connect and encourage me has never been a bad thing, indeed I have actually thanked God for Instagram from time to time as I've seen how it's provided the aforementioned things. Too far? I'm serious. 


But I know it's a stumbling block for some. I've read blog posts on the topic over and over again. I've written my own, guest posting for Naptime Diaries, and you're welcome to read it. Instagram, like any other form of social media, heck, like any other THING, can stir up ugliness in our hearts. Greed, Lust, Jealousy, Discouragement. The comparison game is easy to play when you're seeing the highlight reel of someone's day. So when I hear of people giving up social media for Lent, or fasting from it, or all out casting it off, I'm not surprised. I even think it's terrific, for some. 

But that's not where I'm at. It's not where I've been at. I'm thankful to say, the internet is all sorts of life giving and wonderful. In this season, as an at-home mom of three little ones, especially during the coldest February Montreal has seen in 100 years, it's straight up survival. 

So why did I want to give up Instagram? Ha ha haaaaaaaa good question, and embarrassing answer. 

I got swept up in the hype.

I'm the type of person (and I think this is 99% of the time a good thing, ahem.), who dives in. I'm easily influenced, I love change, I enjoy a challenge, and I'm all for drastic. If someone asks me to join them in something hard but likely very rewarding, I'll probably jump on board. That's what happened here.

A friend of mine, whom I greatly respect, casually mentioned that she was trying to be more "un-plugged" for lent. She didn't specify what she was un-plugging from, but it implied social media. It was a comment in passing, and I didn't even ask for more details. Forget the fact that though I definitely have my struggles, social media hasn't been one of them in recent history. Forget the fact that I don't tend to practice giving up something for lent as I'm torn on the theological significance, as a non-Catholic, post Reformation Christian. Forget the fact that, Instagram provided healthy contact with the outside world, fellowship, and encouragement. I was inspired, and I dove in. 

So what did I discover in the couple weeks I went without Instagram? 

It's a really really good thing for me. 

Without Instagram I was surprisingly lonely. I have a good number of friends whom I connect with solely via Instagram. I have friends who only use Instagram. In the niche group of at-home moms with several kids, whose husbands work long hours, particularly in ministry, I have found community, thanks to Instagram. It's so life-giving to see someone else doing the same things I'm doing, because don't we just always think we're THE ONLY ONES? The only ones having a hard day, the only ones who are struggling through potty training. The only ones whose kids argue. The only ones who need that second third cup of coffee some mornings. Instagram has reminded me time and time again that I'm not alone. I've connected with other moms, other church-planter's wives, other pastor's wives, other urban moms, other women excited about and challenged by the same things.

And it's inspiring, encouraging, gets my creative juices flowing (scratch that, I hate that expression. juices. bleck. Just creativity, yay! It's all over the place!)

Also? I stopped taking pictures! My phone had, like, four pictures on it for the whole two weeks I was off Instagram. Turns out, it's brought out a bit of a photographer in me and I'm all for that. Even my old school iPhone 4s camera is pretty great, and Instagram filters are the best. Brighter, clearer, sunnier? Yes please. Our family photo albums are increasingly sporting Instagram filtered pictures and so many of those images are priceless to me. 

Instagram, for me, is a creative outlet, a community, a connection point among friends, a source for inspiration with cooking, parenting, spiritual things, decor. It's a really good thing. Giving it up was a hasty decision and I don't really know what I was thinking. 

But there was some fruit.

There were times when things were particularly chaotic, and I noticed I'd instinctively reach for my phone. And then I'd remember I'd deleted Instagram so there was nothing to move my eyes towards. That was a good realization because I was reminded that social media can be an escape and I don't want that. I want to be there in the hard, messy, loud moments with my kids. I want to use social media wisely, not to distract myself from a good thing, but to spur me towards good things. It's caused me to consider making a little rule for myself whereby I only check Instagram at night. I can post pictures whenever, because that only takes a second, but it's the checking back throughout the day that I'd like to stop. I turned off all notifications from Instagram on my phone, so I won't know when someone hearts or comments, and I'm marveling at the stupidity of waiting so long to do that! 

On Quitting Lent.

I will say that for many, Lent is a season for giving up GOOD THINGS and so everything I was feeling, the loneliness particularly, should have drawn me closer to Christ. The trouble is, the Bible doesn't actually teach on Lent, so we rely heavily on Catholic tradition to decide what we should do, even many non-Catholic Christians! 

I've heard of protestants adding a spiritual discipline during Lent, rather than giving up something, and I think I could get into that.  The most common thing to give up for Lent is chocolate, and while craving chocolate might remind me to crave Jesus (I guess?), and giving up a delicious thing might remind me of my own inclination to want to satisfy myself above serving others, I'm sure adding a nightly devotional or reading an extra chapter of the Bible each day of Lent may yield more fruit. 

Anyway, I'm curious, have you given up anything for Lent? Have you found yourself feeling closer to God as a result? What have you given up?