hard times, pretty pictures

Life is beautiful, painful, and awfully complicated sometimes.  I am climbing my way out of the pit (or more accurately being lifted from it, cause it’s not my own strength I’m relying on) after one of the most horribly difficult weeks of parenting I have ever faced, and I am not talking about the kind of hard week that involves vomit and mounds of dirty laundry.  There was a night this week that I spent far more hours crying than I did sleeping.  I woke Jonny at 3 a.m. because I felt like I would die lying there in our bed from the sheer pain.  In fact, I didn’t want to face my life at all.  I didn’t think I could.  I did not post anything on my blog the following day.  I just couldn’t.  However, had I wanted to post a whole slew of unrelated pretty photographs of whatever happened to make me smile, I would have.  I wouldn’t have felt like I wasn’t “being real.”  I wouldn’t have felt like it was false of me to post pretty, when life was feeling pretty filthy.

And I guess I just need you to know that.  I post beauty, even when life is ugly.  For me, it’s the only way.

I told Jonny that I feel like we so often get thrown in the deep end, with no opportunity to test the water first.  That’s what this week was like.  But then, as I cautiously began talking with friends, I realized, that of course it’s not just us.  We’re all thrown in the deep end at one time or another, and it’s sink or swim, sink or swim.  And if you are counting on perfection in the world of parenting, you’re going to sink.

Blogs have a way of deceiving, but that’s only if you choose to read them that way.  It’s a choice.  You can read that I stopped for cherries, and make all sorts of assumptions, or you can simply be reminded that we all have our good moments–you and me.  I’m not the best homeschooler,  I lost my hand at structure three kids ago, and at some point I swapped obsessive housecleaning for obsessive knitting.  So there.  I’m a good mom because I love my kids, but not because I’m getting that much right.  You can pour yourself into a child, the best you can, and still wake up one day and realize that you missed, and the consequences are great.

I choose not to share the trials we face as parents here.  As our boys have gotten older, it has become far more obvious why it’s necessary that I don’t.  No matter the temptation to pour my heart out, this is the internet, and my heart is not the only one on the line.

Day trips to the shore or the meadow, handknit sweaters, and jars of pickles canned from our organic garden do not a perfect life make.  Look at these things instead as the small and precious gifts that remind me of life’s greater gifts, the ones that get hidden in the murk on a bad day, or during a really bad week.  Sometimes we celebrate because we’ve simply survived.

(photos from last spring, completely unrelated)


  1. Blogs have a way of deceiving, but that’s only if you choose to read them that way. It’s a choice.

    Look at these things instead as the small and precious gifts that remind me of life’s greater gifts, the ones that get hidden in the murk on a bad day, or during a really bad week. Sometimes we celebrate because we’ve simply survived.

    Can I just copy everything at the heart of this post into my comments?! 🙂 Love your heart.

    I love my life and I love looking for and rejoicing in the good, but it doesn’t mean we’re perfect at all. We mess up. But we love our God and He is just so good.

    I only recently found your blog and I’ve read a few posts. And I don’t want to be all weirdish for you, but I’d so love to invite you over to sit on my porch and drink hot or cold drinks and chat.

    Blessings on you and your people! 🙂

  2. Love, love, love everything about this post. It expresses my heart so much about everything I do online…on social media and on my blog. Sometimes I express more of the hard stuff than other times, but always, I want the focus to be encouragement, hope, and God’s glory and grace in the midst of it all…the hard and the wonderful. Also have to say that I loved the line about losing all attempts at structure 3 kids ago…OH how I relate to that!!

  3. i learn in this life that i do not at all undrestandthe mystery of grace…only thet it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us…and how ever mean your life is,meet it and live it you start with a darkness to move through but sometime the darkness moves through you

  4. Beautiful written… I love the ending thought “Look at these things instead as the small and precious gifts that remind me of life’s greater gifts, the ones that get hidden in the murk on a bad day, or during a really bad week. Sometimes we celebrate because we’ve simply survived.” Oh so true and great wisdom. 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

  5. “You can pour yourself into a child, the best you can, and still wake up one day and realize that you missed, and the consequences are great.”

    When I read this line, I had to stop. I just stared at it, looked at it. Highlighted it. Finished reading the post, and came back to it. I am the mother of a prodigal daughter. I don’t know how we got on this road. Other people in our community ignore the road we are on, because I think they are afraid, and don’t want to find it. Life is so hard. Don’t know what else to say. We are in the hardest part of our life right now, raising our 5 year old grandson. But still we are glad to get up each day, and do our best to make life perfect for this child. And I continue to hope and pray, and reach out to my baby girl, who does her best to ignore and hate me. To call herself another name, and pretend she now has a perfect life. And I know she is in so much pain inside. And I can’t fix it. We are in the process of finding a new church home because out church doesn’t understand the path we are on. You never think if you do the right thing, life will be so hard.

  6. margaretsales says:

    Small thins matters a lot in our life….Great blog…Those pictures looks wonderful… Just saw an interesting post in a blog Molly maid ,U.K….It says about how to keep our life organised by following some small things…..

  7. It’s what we’ve always done. For generations. It’s just that now it’s out there for everyone – not just those we see face-to-face – to see. The photos are lovely, and they spread joy. Your admission is soothing to those who also feel deep pain. And your choice to withhold details is perfection, for all the best reasons.

    Thank you for sharing.

  8. I just found your blog tonight and after my not so great week, this post made me feel like I was not alone. I have 8 children 7 girls and one boy ranging from 25 to 5. I have had many of these days and it feels good to know I am not alone in this world! Thankyou

  9. sarah van Goethem says:

    i love your blog! and have shared your site on Facebook. Your photos are so beautiful and a picture is worth a 1000 words…..you are a great mom!

  10. Love this post – you just nailed my views on blogging also. Thanks for your honesty and keeping it real but still showing us the beauty in it all.

  11. Naomi Filos says:

    And they were helped… for they cried out to God in battle. He heeded their prayer, because they put their trust in Him. ” 1 Chronicles 5:20. Because ” day trips to the shore…” surely do not a perfect life make, we need some certain help. All of the mess that makes up the real picture of a life, (mine included), can be remade perfect as we do that one perfect thing. And that is to put our complete trust in the Holy God who specializes in righting all wrong. That is measureless hope in a hopeless world. As a homeschooling mother of 9, I am well aware of the mess we are all in, and the impossibility of getting it right. However, the beautiful pictures are not false, but rather the things that we should focus on. There is so much good. This internet could not begin to contain it all. But to share some with others helps to lift us all. Thank you for doing your part.

  12. You have put into words what I have been feeling recently, that my FB posts, tweets, and blogs are probably showing my life through rose-colored glasses. But that’s ok, right? When I look back over the years I see those pretty pictures and re-read triumphant one-liners and forget all about the fights, tears, aches, and pains that most likely accounted for a greater percentage of the day than the kids playing nicely at the table with a board game.

  13. Love this post, Ginny. Hugs for you. As a mother of young adults (25, 23, and 18,) I certainly understand where you’re coming from.

  14. “I choose not to share the trials we face as parents here.” As a 60 year old mom, I want to weigh in briefly, saying: Amen, and good for you, because of this: “…my heart is not the only one on the line.” And, always remember that God loves them so much more, even, than we do; and he is loving, merciful, and patient.

  15. I hide away on my blog, I cook, I garden, I do all sorts, I never mention the icky yuckky stuff. Sometimes I am sick of myself so I don’t want to inflict it on anyone else. That is just my personal feeling, not something that I think everyone should do. Some people pour their hearts out and that is actually great sometimes to read, but it is up to each person to decide what they want to share. For me sharing happy stuff makes me happy, and I blog to make me happy, no offence to my readers, not to make them happy! Do what you need, whatever that is.

  16. All of us with many children, and adult children, know this truth. Know it well. I applaud you for walking that delicate line between transparency and discretion. Your children are your first responsiblity and and they will thank you for it. In all likelihood they will thank you some paces down the road when your faithfulness and affection reach a heart and turn it back onto the homeward and heavenward path. That is truth too. You just hang on during the rough patches.

  17. Michele Q. says:

    Hugs and prayers Ginny dear.

  18. Jennifer Teodoro-Tristan says:

    Thank you so much for sharing. A homeschooling mommy of 5; I have felt this way at certain seasons of my life. Our photos are beautiful reminders that help my heart! It’s tough being a mommy sometimes.
    Thank you again for sharing this. : )

  19. I have two boys who are now really closer to men, I am fiercely loyal to them, I have their back and I can be brought to tears by them in a second. Motherhood is not for the weak they say, and I believe that is also true of being a wife and a daughter. Blogs can be so deciding, the beautiful pictures, scrumptious meals, and beautiful knitting. Life isn’t always that way and I commend you for a “real” post. I hope things are better soon for you,

  20. Thank you so much for sharing. I too am going through a difficult time and it is so easy to feel alone and hopeless. Just reading your post was a reminder that we all have difficult times. I know that God often works through these times, but that does not make it any less painful! You ae in my prayers.

  21. Ginny,

    A post like this is SURE to be why I’ve kept the link to your blog in my sidebar after clearing out scads of “perfect mama” blogs which look as though for goodness’ sake’s, they were paid to have perfect looking home lives without needing to work or barely lift a finger to have perfect sweaters, pies, pickles, what have you. I almost did based on images alone, but this belies to me what keeps me here. The understanding, however subtle, that you have shared — that you post beauty, and why — I can appreciate without needing to know more particulars intimate to the situations of yourself and your immediate family. Thank you so much for a glimmer at the raw, painful truth that life just … IS sometimes. I have been going through a similar state of mind after a trying time of transition, and planning a wedding, and marrying someone (truly a wonderful, wonderful someone) who is prone to melancholy and depression in part resulting from an adult ADHD diagnosis. Happy-go-lucky-is-second-nature me … well, you can see how that clash creates tension, and sometimes, worse. We get through it and go on, but yeah … I’d be lying if I said I never thought of the perfect bloggers in those moments and wondering how they get it so almighty RIGHT. How unfair it is. When, in reality, we all just need to be more REAL and more supportive of each other. I’ve so enjoyed finding your blog, Ginny. Sometimes, a hot bath and some quiet moments for deep breathing are nothing short of miraculous. sending hugs and warm thoughts for you at this stressful time.

  22. Thank you for writing this. I have hit many of those moments when I have thought that there was no possible way for life to go on, and those moments when I simultaneously feel guilty for not paying enough attention to my children, but being so miserable that I can’t pay attention to them. I don’t know you, but you just made me feel much less alone.

  23. Finding beauty in our hard times can be one step towards moving forward. We all wish we could avoid the difficulties. Have you heard the Stephen Foster song “Hard Times Come Again No More”? The second verse begins: “While we seek mirth and beauty and music light and gay, There are frail forms fainting at the door;”. I wish you peace and comfort in these times. May they draw your family closer together.

  24. Sending supportive thoughts your way. As the parent of two teenagers and aunt to 3 more, I know how difficult it can be.

  25. I can’t think of anything to write besides thank you. You are doing such good work.

  26. Hi Ginny – I am so sorry that you and your family are having a difficult time. Things usually have a way of becoming resolved and I so hope that your difficulties are resolved soon. Lily. xxx

  27. I don’t think there’s a single reader who doesn’t understand these days when we fail miserably as a parent. Last night I fell asleep speaking Isaiah 54:13 out loud to try to convince myself of His promise, because I know I fail daily and I can’t do this on my own…He promises he will.

    All your children shall be taught by the LORD, and great shall be the peace of your children. Isaiah 54:13

  28. Your honesty is so appreciated.

  29. Ginny, thank you for all that you share here. Like so many others, I find your blog inspiring and comforting. But I’ve always understood that you’re life isn’t perfect, and I’ve never thought of you as someone who pretended it was. I’ve always found you very ‘real.’ Motherhood can be so hard, and I think all we mothers struggle at times. I wish I had some better words of sympathy. I will keep you & yours in my prayers.

  30. You’re blog is very comforting and welcoming. Your post touches very close to home and is very inspiring.

  31. Picked up your link from my daughter in law. I’m 57 y.o. Dad. Homeschooler. Recovering alcoholic. Married to Bobbi-goodwife, for 36 years. My son survived my angst during his adolescence, with the help of his wife. We are friends now. My three adult children live near me. We are all friends. My grandkids are all within 20 miles.
    Think of every day of your life like a slice. Todays slice is going to be different from a slice 5 years in the past, and 5 years in the future. Today, you can be someones friend and part of their support system. Be the long visioned, wise one to your kids now, even when it hurts and you and is so hard to do. Keep a safe place around your heart and soul for you today, for your own strength, for your own ID. That may mean denying an adult child a users role in your life, or parental approval of doing something harmful. But as “MOM” you will need to be available and have strength for that future slice of life which is coming some day which will mean reconciliation between you and your loved ones.
    There have been days and nights in the past when my wife has laid beside me weeping and praying whilst I slept. THere have been nights when I did the pacing, and praying while my wife snored away. She has her strengths that fill my weakness, I have my strengths that backfill around her. We are partners. I need her. She needs me. We both need the strength of the power of the shed blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.
    I wish the best for you and your family.

  32. This was beautiful. thanks for your honesty.

  33. Your words connected with me tonight. Thank you so much for sharing how you feel. You are not alone.

  34. They grow up and become a whole person you never completely know anymore. They close a door and shut you out, and you have to just wait there hoping they might let you in again. And that’s the way it just is.

  35. I understand exactly how you feel. With a huge amount of courage and work things can get better. If it’s a teen problem read “yes, your teen is crazy”. It will help.

  36. When our children get older, we can no longer use social media as an outreach for support. I get it. Parenting , by far, is the hardest journey I have ever embarked on. You may notice there are very few if any parenting blogs about teens. No one wants to hear about overdoses or eating disorders or birth control fights. We happily talk about biting and sharing and birthday parties for young ones, but some of us bloggers have to disappear for awhile until the landscape changes… Blessings to you and thank you for your honesty.

  37. Thank you so much for sharing your truth. We all have our own, each as bitter and sweet as the next. I’m sharing this blog post with my dear Momma friends, because we all need to hear the truth amidst the melody. Hugs.

  38. Right there with you. The beauty we can share pulls us all through the pains that we also all share at one time or another. Hoping the beautiful moments, no matter how simple, outweigh the hurt for you this week.

  39. Thank you.

  40. Thanks for being real. This post is why I subscribed to your blog.

  41. Thank you for sharing your struggles along with your joys. I’m sending love your way in the hopes that things turn around for you. It’s amazing sometimes how connected we feel through the internet. I think that speaks to the human spirit and our capacity for empathy.

    It’s true that blogs can deceive, but here’s how I think about it: I want my blog to remind me of the good things so that when I’m feeling down I can take a trip down memory lane and have my spirits lifted. So, I try to only post positive things on my blog. It’s a choice I make. My life is far from perfect, as are all lives, but the spirit of my blog is positive and pretty. After all, I’m blogging for me. There’s nothing wrong with that. In my blog reader I’ve organized my blogs around topics. Yours is filed under “inspiration” because that’s just what it is. When I’m feeling down, I check out blogs like yours and my spirits are lifted. So, thank you for that.


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