Holy grounds.

January 26, 2017


Sometime this past year, my motherhood bank account dropped below zero. My reserve credit card on extra love and patience was maxed out. There was no penny left to spare. In the wake of my physical, mental, and spiritual bankruptcy, I was left with a brutally honest image of myself. I was becoming as juvenile as my three year old who screams and whines when things don’t go his way. I felt angry and short on patience. Happiness in motherhood can often be synonymous with defeat, guilt, and loneliness. I was so deeply thankful and happy to be a mother, but never had I felt stretched so thin. Never had I felt so insufficient and unworthy. I could no longer find the easy button on my life. It was time for an attitude check, a re-set on mindset, and a fuel up. 

I had to check my motivations and search the core of who I am to make sure it was actually aligned with where I wanted to be heading. I thought back to the moment I committed my life to Gabe in marriage, the moment I first laid eyes on my son, and the reason I had said yes to it all. It was easy to find the answers. I knew I was made for this. I was designed to love with everything I have. It’s the way we are wired as women. This can be lived out in many forms, but I knew for me, it was motherhood. With every feeding, lost hour of sleep, and moment of service to my family there is honor. There is honor in loving another before yourself. There is joy when you can set aside selfishness for the sake of someone you love. To experience a love for another so fierce that you would give up your life for them is a love that is nothing short of a privilege to experience in your lifetime. To nurture, cultivate, encourage, and champion the heart and soul of a human being you have been entrusted with are holy grounds. Every effort we make, every moment we give, and every breath we offer day in and day out in our motherhood holds value. It’s a value that cannot be named, put into words, or price tagged. 

And so I began my re-fueling. I had many tearful conversations with Gabe, many moments of listening, reading, praying, and more crying. I still feel like am re-fueling in many ways, and often feel like my account is empty and my reserve tank on low again, but there is also a greater freedom. I have accepted that the hardships make way for the refined heart. If we look at our hearts like hard drives (I am using this reference because my macbook is currently in the shop for hard drive space issues. Oh the irony.), you can only make room for more love if we give up the unnecessary parts of it taking up space. I am cutting out more noise and distractions, and making room. I am learning that physical exercise, prayer, and time with positive influences have to be a part of my week. I feel lighter and braver. I have a long way to go, but I am so thankful my two feet are walking on these holy grounds. Grounds that Gabriel, Veronica, Max, Rocco, and Azelie can rest on and grow roots in. 

I know to be a healthy mother, I need to put time into my marriage, my well being, and my personal health. I need to remind myself daily that there is no need for perfection. The simple and ordinary mundane is just as grand. My purpose is rooted in the knowledge that God created me for something greater than merely existing. 

So when the days your bank account runs up empty, I hope each of you women who are offering your lives in service for others, for your families, and for your children, are reminded through these words that your efforts are not measured by immediate results. I once was reminded by a wise woman that it took Michelangelo 24 months (over 700 days) to build the Pietá through very small movements of the hand and chisel, but the outcome was a great masterpiece. In the same regard, every effort we pour forth no matter how big or small is working toward a great art. 





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  • My heart goes out to you! Isn’t it so ironic that motherhood can be SUCH a blessing and yet, at moments, such a cross at the same time!? The entire year after my third was born I was such a wreck so I can’t even imagine how I’ll be if I get to five! I wish I could bring you a dinner or clean your house or something but since I can’t, know you’re in my prayers!

    • Yes my third was a real challenge for me! I am starting to see that other side of raising toddlers though as my oldest is 7 and becoming such a kind hearted little man. I have up and down days, but thankfully I have been given such a wonderful group of women and family in my life that help get me through the tough ones! x

  • Oh my goodness- that first paragraph describes exactly how I’ve been feeling for a good while now. Thank you for this, Anna! It is so hard knowing motherhood is my vocation while going through a season of struggle and feeling bereft of everything good.
    And that analogy of Michelangelo is so perfect and beautiful!

    • Lisa, that is so true. It’s our human nature to want to flee difficulty. Ease and comfort is much more appealing! But as I am learning, the greatest victories, accomplishments, and even our greatest joys don’t come without some blood, sweat, and tears:) Rooting for you!

  • This is beautiful.

  • this bit of validation could not come
    at a better time for me to read it!! thank you for sharing. i don’t know how you do it with all those kiddos, but it’s easy to see you do an amazing job! xoxoxo

    • Hugs Brittany! You are doing a good thing! And I definitely fail often, but my children are teaching me so much about boundless love in the process. 🙂

  • This was eerily apropos for my day in which I competed with my three year old for who could be the most immature. Thanks for the reminder that, as radically different as all our motherhoods and children are, there is definite solidarity in the crosses and joys.

    • What a good point Jessie! Solidarity in motherhood allows us to encourage and uplift each other, which is so needed in the midst of it all. And yes, having my own battles with my three year old this morning. ha!

  • Thank you so much for sharing this, Anna! I needed these words of encouragement. The last line about the masterpiece…perfect. This post definitely seems inspired by the Holy Spirit. God bless you and your family.

  • Perfect timing, as always. Xoxo

  • This post hits so close to home. We just welcomed our 4th baby, and this week has has been filled with many late nights crying to my husband that I can’t do it all. I feel I am only giving 50% to everything in my life because I am stretched so thin. And my husband and I struggle to find time for each other as well, and we miss each other. Thank you for reminding us mothers that these are normal feelings, and we are not alone.

    • I feel you! My youngest (of 5) is now 17m, but he’s a very needy child. I feel so very overwhelmed and I don’t feel like I’m able to do this quite often. Hubs and I definitely need more us time, but he’s making it very difficult. Hope things smooth over for you <3

  • Oh Anna, this was what I needed to read today! My second child is 6 days old and I am thick in that postpartum fog, feeling inadequate, exhausted, and yes – empty! But what a privilege and joy to be a mother. I, too, know it is what I was made for. Thank you for sharing these beautiful words!

  • Oh, reading this has me all choked up because I want to come give you a hug and tell you what a shining example of pure and selfless motherhood you are, but also because I so desperately needed to hear this! Two sick kids, pregnant and tired, and all I want is to have a sparkly clean house, dinner on the table when Mike gets home, and look the part…but instead I burned the frozen pizza and realized I haven’t showered in three days. Feeling like I lost myself somewhere this week and your words reminded me I’m not alone 🙂 Thank you! Xo

  • Oh, Anna, this is so beautiful! Thank you for sharing these words. I have felt so empty and depleted this week with my 16mo old (and 20 weeks pregnant with our second) and have wondered if anything I’m doing is even making a difference. Sorting the shapes for the hundredth time. Pointing out the moose in the book over and over again. Reminding Xavier to be gentle with the dog. He can’t even talk; is all this effort (that is taking every ounce of my energy, patience and time) even doing anything? Your words are balm to my weary heart. Thanks for letting the Lord use you to reach so many other mamas with His spirit, truth and grace!! xo!

  • Anna, I just want you to know that you are an inspiration to me. I’m 23, getting married in 3 months. I found IHOD a year ago or something thanks to VerlilyMag and liked it because of your style. Now I love it because of YOU! You helped me to think through a lot of things, to find out what I’m made for. Thank you for the posts about haircare products and thank you even more for the posts about not washing you hair for five days in a row. They are precious because both come from the same woman. You help me grow, Anna.

  • Anna! This is exactly what I needed to pop up in my inbox this morning. I NEEDED to read this truth. Everything you have written is exactly what I have felt in my heart for quite some time. It’s refreshing to know that I am not alone in this thing we call motherhood. It’s also nice to have others who are willing to share their truth about being a mother and how completely exhausting it is – mentally, physically and emotionally! I am sharing your post within mine this morning, as I have had a drafted versions of my truth awaiting to be published. I hope you will take the time to read, as well! Your sweet family will be in my prayers!


    XO Amanda

  • You write so beautifully Anna! And your words are so inspiring. Thank you for this. Although I am not a mother, I am preparing for marriage this next year and you remind me how important prayer life is, especially for such a great vocation – to be a wife and mother.

  • Beautifully said, Anna. I appreciate the way you share your heart and also inspire others to pursue godly virtues that build up a beautiful life and nourish the ones under our care as we give up our own lives for theirs. I hope you continue to feel re-fueled!

  • Oh my stars! How did you know? God is so good, I’ve been struggling with this same exact feeling, right down to the tantrums that mirror my 2 yr old! And I’ve come to similar conclusions, physical exercise, spiritual exercise, and intellectual exercise have to be necessary parts of my day to be a happier, healthier mama to my three under three. I’m so glad you feel like you are in a better place and that you have resources when your reserves get low! Solidarity! Thank you for pointing out the dignity of motherhood so beautifully, bc it definitely does not feel beautiful and holy all the time! I really appreciate it! God Bless, In Christ, Lynne

  • I love this post, I have been feeling so many of the same things lately, and one thing that has really worked for me is, “Love is spelled t-i-m-e”, so when my kids are all melting down, and I want to to, I try and remember what I’m here for, and give my kids the time they desperately need, and that usually helps to make them happier, which makes me happier, which makes my husband happier. Sometimes its easier said then done, but when I put that focus into practice, it usually works every time.

  • Thankyou for such an honest and beautiful post. Not unlike you, and a lot of the other women commenting I have felt the same lately. I’ve recently sat down with my husband and made a plan for the following year; schedule time out for myself, be it exercise, art, catch ups and of course dates with my husband. It becomes so easy to just talk about, and be with the children all of the time. We forget about what it’s like to just be us & have fun as couple. I also want to do more creative activities with the children, and ensure they are socialising with other little ones.

  • I think I was feeling so much of these things this past fall with moving our family of seven to Korea. It was almost like there were more moments of treading water in the ocean during a hurricane and getting just enough of a breath to survive a little longer. I think I’ve also been learning the importance of putting marriage and God first. And I LOVE that reminder of Michelangelo, the little chisels and motions. I think that’s something I’ve been learning too (I wrote about it on my blog last fall), how it’s the little things that break us — or make us.

    This is why I love your blog…

  • This is beautiful. Have you ever read the book “Interior Freedom” by Fr Jacques Philippe? Your post reminds me of it & I think you would like it. Easily my favorite book last year, and I’ve already re-read it this year. 🙂

  • […] “Holy Grounds” – a simple, needed reminder. […]

  • Your honesty is raw and REAL. BRAVO!!

  • ????
    I am right there with you. Currently trying to eliminate distractions and refuel myself.this is such a powerful post and thank you for your vulnerability. I think so often women feel ashamed that they need time to recharge but slowly I’m learning that it is a non-negotiable for me and my babies (and my husband too)!

  • Eileen Dougherty

    This is just so real and beautiful. I just love reading your blog and I hope you know that your words refuel many women so thank you! And whenever you need a break, those cuties are more than welcome at my house for some play dates.

  • […] has felt very heavy lately as you already know from this recent post and a recent loss. However, my marriage continues to uphold me in the most difficult days. We make […]

  • Anna, this is so incredibly raw and beautiful. I am single and preparing to embrace that one day at the right time, and this is so much of what I reflect on everyday. And no matter what, we’re all in this together 🙂 thank you for opening up your heart and sharing. It’s an inspiration 🙂 xoxo

  • You speak the truth. As a fellow mom of 5 (ages 11, 8, 6, 3 and 4 months), my touch meter is frequently off the charts (meaning I feel like I’m literally being touched to death). I homeschool, am nursing, have 2 in diapers plus my husband and I just moved Cross country to Chicago where we started from scratch. Same job, new place. So..zero support. We also bought an 1891 house that is a fixer-upper so we are dealing with one thing after another. Even though our moving here is the absolute fulfillment of a lifelong dream, and I’m truly happy with life and undeniably overwhelmed with blessings, I am horrible at renewing myself. I am a runner who has barely hit the pavement since Wilder (baby 5) was born. My physical exercise (stress relief) is somehow the first to be pushed aside for other things God like grocery shopping. I definitely am vying for a medal in short-tempered bad mom if the year these days. You clearly get where I am and that alone is refreshing. Thanks for the honesty.

  • […] soul felt strained. It was time to hit the rest button. It was shortly after I wrote the post Holy Grounds, and I started to fight harder for renewal. This is when I began to see so clearly how important […]

  • I had an awful day today. Mothering today left me defeated and guilty. I prayed to God tonight for strength and healing and for guidance. And this is where I ended up ten minutes later. Thank you so much for this.

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