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Dear New Mom,

Congratulations on that bundle of joy!  What a beautiful blessing you have been given!

But I am writing to you for a more serious reason….really to tell you a story I suppose.

Those first few weeks are a whirlwind!  People coming to visit, laundry done, dinner served.  The chance to let this incredibly huge life change sink in, it takes a bit.  I remember feeling more emotional than normal, crying every time I hear that dang song by Sarah McLahlan and all I can think about is that dag um puppy in the shelter.

A beautiful baby boy!  That’s what I got.  I immediately loved him and thought he was the most beautiful baby I’d ever seen, but something else, something deep inside me, was off! 

I remember the first time it crept in.  I glanced over at that beautiful baby face and thought, “what have I done?”  Wait what?!? Was that my thought? No surely it was someone else. A mother would never think such a thing.  So I pushed it aside and carried on.

Then life settled a bit.  I didn’t feel like getting out of bed or going out.  “It’s because I’m tired, I just know it! The baby wakes me up a lot, this is just normal.”  But at night once the husband is asleep and the baby is asleep, I cry.  I cry ALOT!  I am not even sure why I cry other than I feel like I am mourning something.  But again, I push it aside and smile when people ask how I am. “I am fine!  Isn’t he so cute! I’m doing great!” But really I’m not.

It’s a social media highlight, Pinterest pinning, photo filtering kind of world out there!  I will not, I CAN not be the mom who doesn’t fit in that mold!

So the weeks went on and it got worse, but no one knew.  I tried to talk to my husband, but he just didn’t understand.  In fact I could tell he was irritated so I knew I would not mention it again.  After all, it’s not his burden to carry.  He is a good man carrying the stress of work and providing for a new kind of family!  He doesn’t need something else to worry about.

So I think about telling my mom.  Nope, can’t do that.  She would just get really worried and I live far away.  Not fair to stress her out.  Then there is the best friend, the one I adore! I could tell her, but I can’t.  She just had a baby too and she has a lot on her plate.  Plus she seems to be totally rocking out this mom thing!  Strike 99 for me!

So I stay quiet.  I smile. I say, “I’m fine!” And I cry!

Then one day the sadness, the unanswered prayer of it going away, it turns into other thoughts.  Terrible thoughts that I cannot even fathom. But I have them still….

“You are a terrible mom.” “They’d be better off without you.” “You cannot do this.” “They deserve better than you.” And that’s when I dreamt of dying.

I know the way I feel is not normal.  I know it’s not right.  But I also know I don’t have that post partum depression thing.  I mean surely not me! I am a person of faith, I am smart, I am educated, my life is full of blessings…yea that’s definitely not it. So I stayed quiet and I suffered longer.

By that time my boy is 14 months old and it still lingers.  I go to my annual doctors appointment and just mention, “hey…so…I think I might be depressed.”  He seems surprised! That’s when I know I have fooled everyone.

I had been depressed once before, but it was because of a terrible situation I had in college.  A baby is not terrible, but yet the feelings and thoughts, they felt eerily familiar.

Fourteen months after welcoming that beautiful baby, I finally asked for help.  FOURTEEN MONTHS!!

Post partum depression is REAL!  (I wish I had grasped that then). Moms have it more often than we talk about. More often than we are comfortable talking about.  Too often not to talk about.

I just had baby # 3 and I can feel those feelings again.  I actually began writing this after locking myself in a room away from my kids and thinking over and over, “I just can’t do this!  You cannot do this!”  This time is different though.  Baby #2 didn’t come with these feelings, but I remember them even after all these years.

Here’s what I  know…. I am not bad, unwanted, unloved, unworthy….I know that now!  So although I know I am in that spot again, I AM NOT AFRAID!!! I’ve been here once and survived and I will do it again!

This time IS different! I know to reach out.  I recognize what is true and what is not.  I have an amazing support group and I talk to people and my doctor when my thoughts are heavy and my life feels unbearable.

So new mom…(or 2nd, 3rd, 4th)…you are not ALONE!! I am here to tell you, YOU CAN, YOU WILL survive this!!

Ask for help.  Reach out to someone.  Reach out to me.  Don’t smile and say “I’m fine.” Your help and hope are just around the corner…and mama….YOU GOT THIS!!!

Love,
A Mom Unplugged

 

 

I lack self confidence.  There I said it! Actually it doesn’t feel as refreshing to write it out as I thought it would.

I do not naturally believe in myself or my ability.  I am always surrounded by people, but I often wonder if I am cultivating true relationship with others.  I complain about the way I look and often poke fun at myself.  I wake up daily with thoughts that I am not good enough.

My biggest fear is that my children will see this and begin to not believe in themselves.  For that reason, it is something I am working on daily.

You see I am perfectly imperfect.  The idea of being perfectly imperfect caught my attention a few months back (I read it on a blog I came across, probably via Facebook).  I think the reason it stuck out to me so much was because of the overwhelming response I received from my last post concerning Morgan and her birthmark.

People reached out and shared their own stories of being “different” or having a child that struggled.  I heard all types of stories. From deformities, to marks, to bullying, to loss of children, to moms struggling to cope, to individual struggles of depression, hurt, fear, worry, comparison, and much more.

It has really made me think over these past few months about how on the outside things sometimes look perfect.  How we continually judge ourselves…looks, success, friendships, money, children, spouses…against others highlight reels!

In true fashion, Morgan teaches me yet another lesson. What if our imperfections were very visible? What would people think then? Because Morgan doesn’t look “perfect” from the outside (But let’s be real…she is absolutely perfect am I right!?! Check out this cutie!)

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Morgan working on her golf game!

So back to the lesson…say our imperfections are visible, like they are painted on our forehead “UNBELIEF” “SELFISH” “DEPRESSED” “BROKE” “DIVORCED” “BROKEN”….

What would happen then?  Well I can tell you what would happen because I deal with it everyday.  Lots of people will stare, some people will make judgmental comments, several will ask “what’s on your face?”, others will not understand, and even others will try to find an answer and “fix” it, but the ones who truly know you and love you….

…they will see beauty! They will laugh with you, cry with you, celebrate with you, pray with you. They will love you! They will begin to not even notice it, or upon noticing it think how beautiful it truly is and makes you who you are! Those people will see YOU! Then they will begin to think how perfectly imperfect we all are, and begin to love others differently!

I don’t know what makes you perfectly imperfect (maybe you can share it here), but I can tell you that you are loved! You are beautiful! You are important! You are exactly how God made you!  Sometimes you have to work out some kinks (we call it personal growth), but sometimes you just have to accept the journey you are on and celebrate the things to come!

Be Blessed!

Candice

I have to admit….I am vain!

I want to be good-looking and put together.  I want other people to think I am good-looking and put together.  I want my husband and kids to be good-looking and put together.  Well…you get the point!

(I hope there is no judgment as you read my story because we all go through our own battles and I realize there are worse problems to have then a birthmark on your face.  But this is our story, our struggle, and now our message!)

I don’t think it is unnatural to want our children to be the best at everything.  For life to be simple for them.  For them to never face adversities or struggles.  To be the cutest kid in the class. Best dressed, best athlete, best EVERYTHING!!!  (Just us competitive Mauldin’s? LOL!)

So you can imagine when my daughter was born with a very visible mark on her face, we were surprised!  Not because we are so vain that we did’t think she was beautiful, but because everyone wants their child to be “perfect” and there was a lot of unanswered questions concerning her “mark”.

I mean seriously look at this beauty!!

I mean seriously look at this beauty!!

Let’s face it…I did not get pregnant and think, “I want my child to immediately come out of my womb with something that could eventually cause struggles in her life.” Why? Because people can be cruel and all I could think was, “I don’t want her to be the ‘little girl with that big red mark on her face’!”

Our fears were not made better by the fact that this certain birthmark, Sturge Weber in the medical community, can also cause vision and brain defects!  As a mom with a new baby you NEVER want to hear a doctor say “She may have brain defects!”

But, let me back up a little…when Morgie was first-born, she came out with a story!  Cord wrapped around her neck twice, but she is a fighter because she had put her hand up over that little eye and her arm was in the way keeping the cord from strangling her. Birthmark? Miracle mark is more like it!

So we were told at first it was a bruise.  Looking at my sweet new baby I saw so much beauty about her, but was not oblivious to this hideous red, black, and blue mark!  But that was okay, I worked through thinking I had somehow hurt her during delivery and told myself, “at least it will go away”.  Boy was I wrong.

So here is what people don’t know…..I have spent a year waking up to every noise Morgan makes because we were told to watch closely for her to seizure!  (A sure sign the “mark” was in her brain).  I watched every milestone carefully because she could possibly have vision defects and we did not want her to compensate with her other eye.  We have been to specialized doctors (that by the way only God could have orchestrated), that told me we would have to do laser treatments and MRI’s.  Laser treatments on this particular mark were not 100% effective so their goal is to make it fade to be 80% visible!

All the while in my mind I was praying “God, please make this mark go away on its own! Please don’t make my daughter go through all of this!” Eventually I came to a crossroad, I was going to have to be okay with her miracle mark whether it faded or not!

As if all that was not enough, I have had to encounter countless people asking, “What’s on your daughter’s face?” “what’s wrong with her face?” “why is her eye bleeding” “why did you burn your daughter’s face?” “You know, Morgan. She has the big red mark on her face!”

Although I try to have grace with people because people don’t know what they don’t know, it still stings every time!  No matter how absolutely gorgeous, and happy, and delightful, and beautiful, and perfect she is to us, everyone sees the birthmark first! I see it in people’s expressions when they first see her, I recognize the stares and little whispers. It has even gotten back to me a few times about some awful judgmental things some other moms have said.  But my heart breaks for the day that SHE recognizes those things!

She is more beautiful as the day's go by!

She is more beautiful as the day’s go by!

Maybe the treatments will work and the mark will go away 100%.  I do know that she has NO brain defects and NO vision problems (Praise God), and truly is the perfect and healthiest child! And we still have lots of medical things to tackle, but this child is 100% well!!

I came to terms with the fact it is there and is not going away.  It still hurts me when we go out in public and we get the stares, because I wish people would be more thoughtful to their words. Beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder.  And my Beholder says that we are fearfully and wonderfully made!  That he creates all things new!

Morgan’s beautiful mark is a reminder to me everyday that God is so good and precious!  It reminds me of all those scary things they told us in the beginning that have never happened and were not true.  It reminds me that just because someone doesn’t look like I think they should, does not make them less beautiful or valuable!  I see more and more people with marks like Morgan’s and I just smile and think of how God created such a beautiful being!

It has taught me that grace, kindness, acceptance, and love are the best things I can give to the world and people around me.  Because we are all going through our own battles and struggles, and the reality is that we all have “marks”, just most of ours are not visible!

Be Blessed!

“Because of fear, I had forfeited strength, life, and beauty. I had lost a sense of my true self, and with that loss so much of what God wanted for me was yet unrealized” -Lioness Arising

I have to admit I was “knocked upside the head” when I read this!

Because of FEAR! BECAUSE of fear! BECAUSE OF FEAR!

I must make a confession…I have let fear cripple me!  :(

It has kept me from moving towards some dreams.  It has kept me from being the strong mother I want to be.  It has kept me from embracing people. It has kept me from succeeding.  IT HAS KEPT ME!

Fear and scared are the same thing to me and when reflecting on what I am most fearfully or scared of I found it to be….

WHAT IF I AM NOT GOOD ENOUGH!?!?

I have been taking major actions in trying to control my thoughts, but for the purpose of transparency, here are some that I combat daily:

You’re not a good enough wife. You’re not a good enough mother. You’re not a good enough leader. YOU’RE NOT GOOD ENOUGH.

I don’t make it any easier by comparing myself to others and relying too heavily on what people think of me.  And let’s be honest, people drag you down at every corner with their words as well (I am guilty of it too!).

So I am walking around with the little devil Candice on my shoulder telling me “I am not enough or I will never..” and there she sits.  That mom with her perfect hair, perfect kids, perfect life (this is only my perception of course) and I think…”why can’t I be like her!”  WARNING, WARNING!!! Comparison is paralyzing!!!

It is in that single moment, that single thought, that I have lost who God wants me to be. So I begin to dialogue with myself…

Here is what I know…You are unique!  You were created for a specific purpose that only you can accomplish! You are MORE than good enough! You are accepted, loved, liked, and cherished!  God will put the right people in your life at the right time, and protect you from those who seek to harm you

So those things are great, but I still struggle daily with this fear and comparison shindig! And just as soon as I think it, God’s still small voice says…

It does not matter if YOU are good enough…because I AM GOOD ENOUGH, and you are MINE!

Be Blessed!

Candice

Psalm

So it has been FOREVER!!! Like for realz, FO’EVER! Two years to be exact. But as many know with motherhood sometimes things get put aside!  But, I’m back with a message in my heart for moms!

So a lot has gone down in this household while I have been away, but most notably…we added another little Mauldin to the mix!  Miss Morgan “Morgie” is quite a handful compared to our little Banks, but we cannot imagine our lives without her!!

Morgan 9 months old

Morgan 9 months old

Okay, so lets move on to what this post is really about…PANCAKES!!  That’s right, pancakes!  Well actually let me back up a bit.

Is there any other mama out there that wakes up everyday full of fierceness, ready to tackle the to do list and conquer the day? But wait…then the kids wake up and you realize that was wishful thinking? Just me? Oh okay:/.

Well this is how my everyday begins…I wake up praying, God help me make it through this day and thrive.  I am a super success driven person, so motherhood is actually one of my most challenging roles. I set my tired feet on the floor with good intentions of cleaning, working, championship mothering, laundering (clothes that is), and being all around AWESOME!!!  And then I hear the little stirring and pattering of small feet and my day takes a different turn!!

I spend most of my morning saying “no”, “get out of her face”, “no sissy!”, and cleaning up destroyed cabinets followed by texts to my husband that we have to get these cabinets baby proofed!  Between poopy diapers and wiping behinds, I find myself at 10:30 a.m with no one having ate breakfast and my house to be a complete disaster. At least I got to read my daily devotional first things this morning, right?!?!:/  Give me Jesus!! (Can I get an Amen, or an oh me!?!?!)

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Morgan doing what she does best…destroy!!! See those dishes overflowing? Yep, it’s the good life!🙂

So to those pancakes….at 10:30 a.m. the 3 year old says, “Mom, I want tiny round pancakes!”  Well being the super duper mom I am, I think pancakes it is!  We are a health conscious family so whipping up Bisquick is not how we roll!  So I get out my Against All Grain recipe and gets to cooking!!  Between wrestling the baby, letting the dog in & out, and in & out, and in…well you get the point..the pan starts burning and the batter is not even whipped!  11:00 rolls around and we FINALLY begin!!!

I whip up these awesome babies only to find Banks won’t eat them because they are not “little round” pancakes!

My "not so round" pancakes! #nailedit

My “not so round” pancakes! #nailedit

So I am doing my best to make a round pancake, but they fall apart or aren’t cooking all the way through!  “Gosh Candice, you’re a terrible mother!”  Pause….what? Did you hear that?!?

I look around at the dishes overflowing, the baby is the cabinet AGAIN, my tooth just chipped, Banks is suppose to be at school, I have calls to make, and the list goes on.  But all I want to do is make a dag gum round pancake!

“You’re a failure! There is no sense in trying because you will never be good at it!”

Where did that come from!  Wait, that is me saying that! (Actually a little devil Candice sitting on my left shoulder saying it!)

Take a breath…re-evaluate….

Because the enemy “prowls like a roaring lion looking to devour us!” (1 Peter 5:8)

But just as easily as those thoughts come, I begin to combat them with words of truth! (This discipline alone is a huge “praise the Lord!” for this pessimistic mama!)

“I am fearfully and wonderfully made! I am a daughter of the King! A lioness!”

“I have no insecurity because I am called by God to complete His assignment!”

If there is one thing I learned this morning as I took a step back and looked at my beautiful mess is that….I AM BLESSED!! But I am also STRESSED!!! And its okay…because every moment is a new moment to capture your thoughts, reset your game, put the baby down for a nap…

…and sometimes…just sometimes…

…we can make some really awesome ROUND PANCAKES!!!

Round Pancakes!  Like I seriously nailed it!!

Round Pancakes! Like I seriously nailed it!!

A Mother’s Reflection

With all the holiday hustle and bustle, the thought of a new year upon us, I found myself reflecting on what the past two years were like at this time.

I always set New Year’s goals, ALWAYS!  If you are like me it usually consisted of the exact same goals every year…

  1. Lose weight and exercise
  2. Make more money, become debt free

January comes and goes and I find myself coming up on the summer months still trying to achieve those same goals I have set for myself for the last 7 years.  Craziness!

2012 was a much different year for the Mauldin family.  To really understand the significance that this past year has meant to us, I need to give you a bit of history.  A story if you will.

New Year 2011… 7 months pregnant so the weight loss goal did not exist.  I had left a job that I loved for an opportunity that was too good to be true.  Resolution #2: Make more money.  With this opportunity, that happened.  2011 is looking positive then February rolled around and I found myself 8 months pregnant sitting at home in sheer shock as I was told that I had lost my job. Doors closing and we are sorry.  Yikes! I had joined the ranks of hundreds of thousands unemployed individuals.  We lost more than 1/2 of our household income, our health insurance, and I just need to mention again that I was 8 MONTHS PREGGO!!!! AHHH!

33 weeks

Sometimes life seems a little hopeless, but God’s plans are always greater than anything we could imagine.  Because of that job loss, I found myself being able to stay at home with my precious boy.  This was totally God because I probably would have gone back to work if I had a job.  God had something better for me.

New Year 2012…same goals, still unemployed, 20 pounds overweight.  :(  Go to the doctor to find out why I cannot lose my weight and why I have been having such a hard time.  Told I am pre-diabetic and have undiagnosed  postpartum.  My regular exercise and healthy diet were no longer enough. That was a bad day.

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Sometimes when God has destined you for a greater purpose, the road there is very rough and uncomfortable.  I am amazed at the fullness of God.  His timing is always perfect.  His grace is always sufficient.  His will is always beyond our minds ability to envision.  

I did not know that 2012 would be my year of revelation and change.  I was at the end of myself.  Literally could not get out of bed.  Looking over my life and wondering, “What am I here for God.”

I knew God had spoken a promise over me when I was fourteen.  I knew that more than anything I want to change people’s lives.  I want my voice to matter.  I want to demonstrate the love of Christ.

So when I finally came to the end of me, I found the beginning of Him.  The vehicle he is using to fulfill those promises was not what I imagined, but is more than I dreamed.

Some think I am crazy, friendships have been lost, negativity has been defeated, and extreme personal growth has etched its way into my mind and heart.

As I worshiped in church yesterday I could do nothing but praise God for all his goodness.  The goodness that came in my trials, the goodness that came in a marriage seeking redemption, the goodness that came with forgiving myself, the goodness that came when I released guilt and perfectionism.  The goodness that came when I truly found Him, UNSPEAKABLE JOY.

So my 2012 is ending with a perfect bill of health (21 pounds gone), a life of financial and time freedom, a life of choices.  A life filled with joy as I get to be a work-from-home mom who God is using to change hundreds of lives, and I pray it continues to thousands.  A chance to be in ministry alongside my husband as he uses us in the way we can touch people the most.  And at the same time God is changing me every so slightly to truly be the woman he has called me to be.

So 2013..here I come!  Who wants to join me?

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Candice

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”  Luke 2:14

There are so many changes that take place when you become a mother.  I feel that life becomes more challenging, yet more meaningful.  Purpose becomes more clear and more foggy at the same time.  Weaknesses are celebrated because a new kind of strength is found.  These past 18 months of my life has been the most challenging and enlightening season in my life to date.

I want to write about the most significant change my life has ever taken, because I simply do not want to forget this time.  I hope it helps others as well.

Before we begin…let’s just be reminded of the cutest little boy you have ever laid eyes one.  19 months old in 3 days.  I cannot believe it.

Banks Mauldin 16 months old

Sweetest Boy EVER!

So this seasons journey actually began when I was fourteen and a word was spoken into my heart that I would be a leader.  That my voice would touch many.  I never believed that the promise would be fulfilled.  I am sure you know how that is.  Life happens, worry drags you down, comparison cripples you, and dreams become so distant that we can’t remember what we were striving for.  

That was me 8 months ago.  March 2012 to be exact.  A struggling, overweight, exhausted, depressed, new mom who could not see those dreams anymore.  I had this beautiful child and everything to be thankful for, but could not find thanksgiving in my heart.  I could not find joy.

What most people do not know is that I had gone to the doctor and received a very bad doctors report. It went something like this, “Candice, you need to lose weight because you are headed to diabetes.  You also have postpartum depression and anxiety that we need to medicate you for.  We believe you have a nerve disorder which is why you feel constant numbness in your legs and feet.  Nothing we can do for that except give you pain medicine to cover it up.”

So what I heard was, “You are fat.  You are NOT good enough.  Just another thing going wrong for you.  Life sucks.”  Okay, so it is kind of funny, but that is what I thought.  I went home overwhelmed.  Does this sound like anyone else?

I knew I was not going to take medication to cover up symptoms of something that needed to be dealt with deeper.  In a last-ditch effort to pull it together I started this thing called the 24 day challenge.

I see some of you already rolling your eyes….but hang in there with me.  After a lot of research, I found that this company had the best nutritional products that I needed and my doctor approved.

So I skeptically got started.  If you follow me at all you know that I have amazing results. Eleven pounds gone, energy out the roof, 17 1/2 inches gone off my body, went from size 10 to a 6.  Life changing.  But that is not the most significant change I had.

size 10 to 6. Eleven pounds lighter!

For the first time ever, I found a place of contentment.  Does that sound insane or what?  This company blew my socks off.  I received the most positive friendship and encouragement.  Not only did I get my body in order but guess what?  No more depression, no more anxiety, no more diabetes, and no medication!  Woo hoo!

On top of that I found my dreams again.  A place where I can be the mother, wife, and friend I want to be.  A place where I can help people achieve their health goals and dreams.  A place where the words DREAM and FREEDOM are not things of imagination or the past.  They are attainable.  

I know those words spoken at 14 are being fulfilled in this most strange vehicle.  So I have got my excitement on and am sharing this with every mother and person I know.  There are a lot of mamas out there who are just like me, and this may just what you need.

Hope this encourages you today, that it is never too late to start dreaming again.  

Candice

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is upon me, for the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed.           Isaiah 61:1

***Disclaimer:  I am directly involved with Advocare .  All statements are statements of my own results and are not the words of Advocare.

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