if only…

Lately I’ve had to try really hard not to feel sorry for myself.

There. I said it.

Sounds so pathetic doesn’t it? I can almost hear the whine wafting off the page…

I wish I could say that I always have perspective, that I am always oozing with gratefulness, and that I always see the glass half-full.

The truth is, I often do have perspective, I often am incredibly grateful, and I often easily see the glass-full. And yet lately it’s been a struggle… for all of us:

{don't worry, levi doesn't always look this miserable. he was sick... and let it be noted that dad "dressed" him that day. he said this was a "comfortable" outfit. and yes, that is a hankie tucked into his leggings. ryan said that it was so that we didn't have to carry around a box of tissues for the every-30-second snot wipes. poor kid.}

Mmmmm, it really has been tough…

Pregnancy with a very-young toddler has been kicking me in the butt. Work has been stressful as we are pulled in a thousand directions. Being fulltime “volunteers” has a set of financial and faith-related pressures that are difficult to even describe. Ryan’s been immobilized with back problems. Levi’s been sick and up at night for three solid weeks. I’ve had pain and/or illness of one sort or another for almost four months now – and just when one issue resolves another creeps in. And there is still a big unknown about the health of our precious little boy who is due in six weeks time… even though we know we will be okay with whatever the outcome.

I’m gonna go ahead and stop there lest the whine turn into a full-fledged emotional word vomit that I will later regret.

In all of these difficulties – some large, some small – I’m beginning to realize that “crazy” is our family’s normal. I feel like these days I’m always answering the question “how are things going?” with the response, “Um… things are going fairly well, but things are definitely a bit crazy… Oh, and I’m exhausted all. the. time!”

Maybe it won’t always be, but for now normal is crazy (or crazy is normal?!) and I’m trying really hard to learn to embrace that.

I often think to myself… if only things would slow down a bit, if only responsibilities would ease a little, if only people would be a bit kinder and more generous, if only we made more money, if only I could get more sleep, if only ‘they’ would understand, if only I could get a little help keeping my head above water, if only I had more time to myself and more time with my husband, if only our families lived closer… if only, if only, if only!

Even typing it all out sounds ugly. Blech!

Because all of the ‘if onlys’ get harshly snapped back into perspective when I think of the battles my friends are facing: Friends who are physically and emotionally depleted by the heartbreak of infertility. Or the other who was admitted to hospital on bed rest at 20-something weeks pregnant in a city two-and-a-half hours from her home and husband and two-year-old. Or still the other that has been in and out of hospitals and operating theaters more times than she can count with their little boy who is not even a year old yet. Or the other who is facing a deadly disease that’s invaded her family and turned their world upside down.

It’s scenarios like these that help me to remember that my glass really is half-full and that my life really is much “easier” than I acknowledge a lot of the time.

I instantly recognize that the real battlefield is in my own mind – that constant tug-of-war to remember that life is bigger than what I can see, larger than my immediate circumstances, and no doubt much more wonderful than I realize most of the time.

Ryan and I have been talking about Grace lately. We know it’s there. We know it’s available. We know it has our name on it. So why is it sometimes so hard to access it? Why do we stumble in the darkness looking for it? Why isn’t walking in it a little bit easier?

I imagine the answer is a simple one… perhaps it’s not easy, but it’s simple nonetheless. I imagine it has something to do with activating our faith just that tiny bit more. Or maybe it’s seeking out that quiet place with more intention to let the mind ease and the soul fill. Possibly it’s letting go of the need for order and well-laid-out plans. Or it could simply be a matter of lifting our gaze to Heaven with more humility and desperation and regularity.

I’m not sure exactly, but I do know this: Despite all the crazy and the life-going-a-thousand-miles-an-hour-and-feeling-completely-out-of-our-control stuff… I really do know that life is good. I know that I am blessed beyond belief. I know that if given a magic wand there actually is not much that I’d alter when I take into account the big picture.

Because in the mix of life-as-we-know-it, there is a peace which has settled that doesn’t match up to the chaos of my brain or the challenges of our circumstances. It’s a peace that can only be explained by the presence of a God who cares and loves and provides and protects… a God who is most definitely more than enough… a God that I wouldn’t want to attempt living without a connection to.

That is the reason behind the statement “life is good”… and that’s reason enough for me.

And besides, life doesn’t always look sick and miserable… if often looks like this:

{Yay. I’ll have another serving of that please.|

Dear friends, it seems many of my recent posts (as sparse as they are these days) have this theme of “perspective” running through them. Obviously, I’m still learning, and obviously I’m in need of grace! How do you keep the “if onlys” from taking over your headspace?

tired but still hopeful,



About Author

Adriel Booker is an author, speaker, and advocate based in Sydney, Australia who believes storytelling, beauty, and the grace of God will change the world. Adriel has become a trusted voice in areas of motherhood and parenting, Christian spirituality, and global women's issues. She's also known for her work with the Love A Mama Collective—serving under-resourced women in developing nations through safe birth initiatives—as well as her years spent as a Bible teacher and leadership coach. Her latest book is Grace Like Scarlett: Grieving with Hope after Miscarriage and Loss and she's made the companion grief journal available for free. Find Adriel across all social media platforms at @adrielbooker or sign up for LoveNotes, Adriel's 'secret posts' that aren't published anywhere else online. ✌️


  • casey
    25 August 2011 at 9:37 pm

    I agree that the real battlefield is most definitely our minds but, our circumstances definitely wear us ragged. Whew. Girl, I feel for you though. You do have a LOT on your plate and being tired makes it hard to stay fresh in the mind and if you aren’t ever quite able to catch up on sleep…which no one can when preggo and with a toddler, then it just spirals at times. I’ve been battling a lot of exhaustion due to my hubby’s issues the past year and a half and it def. impacts my mind so in a way I understand what you are saying. I am so thankful that the Lord provides those little moments that can slow us down and allow us to savor the little things again. I’m so thankful that he sustains us even when we are wiped out. I’m praying for extra strength and energy for you to get through this crazy life season! xo

    • Adriel
      29 August 2011 at 1:17 am

      Thanks friend! Yeah, being tired just amplifies everything! It’s amazing how different the world looks after a good night’s sleep!!! 🙂 I don’t sleep through the night anymore… even if I cut off my liquids early in the evening, I still have to get up at least once. But now the one-trip-a-night nights make for a waaaaay better sleep than the three-trips-a-night nights… so I try to count my blessings when I get those. LOL. tiny squished up bladder! (Oh, the “perks” of walking out the greatest miracle on the planet! I suppose it’s worth it. MORE THAN WORTH IT!) I feel for you too. I know your situation is much different, but it’s still very stressful. You are a strong and grace-filled woman Casey!

  • Secret Mom Thoughts
    25 August 2011 at 10:19 pm

    Sounds like a rough patch for sure. It is hard sometimes. hang in there and try to focus on the positive.

  • Cari
    26 August 2011 at 12:40 am

    Oh Adriel. I remember feeling that way too, yesterday, and my kids are 4 &6. It is a constant adjustment, always changing. But you and Ryan are on the right path looking for grace, rather than giving in. It will find you. Sometimes you have to go through the really hard stuff to appreciate the really good. Wish that wouldn’t happen to me so much, but when it’s good, it’s really good. I’ll keep you in my prayers!

  • Krystle
    26 August 2011 at 2:06 am

    Adriel, I’m pretty sure I could have written this too.
    My days are filled with the demands of a 3 year old and 6 month old twins needing, taking, grabbing, crying etc. I have been so overwhelmed at the thought of “this is my life”. And I LOVE my babies, and my life and I truly am blessed…but the days are long and my babies are really really tough babies. And no one can fully understand what my day to day is like.
    Add to that my Mom’s recent cancer diagnosis and family drama on the hubby’s side and in ministry…and I have been a walking mess!!

    I’m trying so hard to be thankful and to speak out loud my thankfulness, even when I don’t feel it.

    People ask me if things are still crazy, and I always answer that crazy is our new normal…and I will forever be adjusting to it.
    So glad to know that I am not alone in this. And these types of posts serve as such an encouragement to others who may feel “guilty” for having moments of lost perspective, and we can come along side one another and remind eachother how good life really is.

    Thank you!

    • Adriel
      29 August 2011 at 1:19 am

      Hey sweet girl. You DO have so much on your plate right now. You’re doing an incredible job! I’m so sorry to hear about your mom’s cancer diagnosis. That’s just plain hard. Prayers for you and your family tonight. x

  • Courtney @ The Mommy Matters
    26 August 2011 at 3:52 am

    I think that we are all entitled to a little whine fest from time to time. Whether we have the best intentions and outlook on life, or not. Things aren’t always perfect and happy and we just need to vent. It sounds to me like you are still ‘maintaining a really great outlook on life. You’re aware that negative thinking can drag you down and you’re not focusing on that. Sending prayers for REST and peace your way! Hope you catch a break of sorts, soon!

  • Livy
    26 August 2011 at 7:14 am


    Sorry things have been so rough lately. I think we all go through stages like that. I don’t really have any advice for you, but I hope things start looking up.

  • Kim
    26 August 2011 at 7:37 am

    I just had a spout of whining on Facebook to my friends, because after 6 days stuck at home with the stomach flu hitting me and my daughters and being 6 months pregnant, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I needed a virtual hug. I needed to vent how hard it is to do all of this alone while my husband is deployed. And then I felt half-guilty after whining and half-better, because voicing it made me realize it isn’t so bad as my mind conjures it up to be. Those “if only’s” plague our minds when we’re exhausted beyond reason. I try to shake them off by having a distraction, but it doesn’t always work. Although we know that life is good we still have to live in the trenches at times. So I am sending you a virtual hug and hoping your day is better after writing this down 🙂

    • Adriel
      29 August 2011 at 1:24 am

      Thanks so much Kim. I really feel for you – no doubt it’s incredibly hard to be in your position. In fact, when I’m really struggling I always think of single moms and military wives/moms who are going at it alone – you guys are SO my heros… and I’m not just saying that!!! I’m glad that you “reached out” and that your friends responded. Sometimes we just need that encouragement and need to know that people care. When we’re open it gives them invitation to help, and most friends really are glad to help… even if it’s just by sending a “virtual hug”. 🙂 Now here’s my virtual hug for you: ((((HUGS))))

  • Tracy Dickinson
    26 August 2011 at 8:04 am

    wow! pretty sure i could have written this myself. crazy is our normal as well and sometimes i have to remind myself that my girls won’t be little forever and someday i will miss crazy. someday. far far in the future, i will miss it! thanks for being transparent. it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking we are the only ones who feel a certain way or that we are the only ones dealing with ALL of the stress and craziness. everyone has something and we all need to remember to look to our creator for strength, grace and peace. great post!

    • Adriel
      29 August 2011 at 1:25 am

      It really must be a “normal” part of life with young children, ey? So many moms feel the same exact way. Well, HUGS to you too Tracy. 🙂

  • Micheline
    26 August 2011 at 9:33 am

    Clearly so many of us can relate to what you’re going through. You’re definitely going through a rough patch, and as you’re well-aware, there will always be the bad times and the good times. I know that the hard times can be so overwhelming, though. Just don’t feel guilty for venting. We all need to do it and we all need to know that we’re not alone in the craziness. So thank you for your honesty because 1) you’re giving me some perspective on how tough I’ve been on myself lately and 2) you do a great job of remembering the silver lining in all of this.

    • Adriel
      29 August 2011 at 1:26 am

      “So thank you for your honesty because 1) you’re giving me some perspective on how tough I’ve been on myself lately and 2) you do a great job of remembering the silver lining in all of this.”
      Wow, thanks friend. Love that. x

  • Queenie
    26 August 2011 at 12:13 pm

    Hang in there girl. Gaining perspective is a constant journey because life is never stagnant, there is always ebb and flow and with it we see the different lengths of shoreline. While one day may be high tide, another is low. That’s life, and the beauty is that God created it to be that way so that we can see His goodness in ALL of it – the good, the bad and the ugly. Everything about us and our world is intended to point back to Him. What a relief we don’t have to strive for perspective in our own strength.

    • Adriel
      29 August 2011 at 1:26 am

      They really need to put a “LIKE” function on these blog comments.


  • Tiffany
    26 August 2011 at 2:51 pm

    Don’t you hate it when you really want to have a pity party but know you shouldn’t? It’s not fair! Anyway, you have so much going on right now and all those pregnancy hormones are probably not helping 🙂 Give yourself a much needed break, let the unimportant things go and accept every offer of help you can. And remember, this is a season, and like all challenging seasons, it will pass soon.

  • Amy
    26 August 2011 at 3:23 pm

    I really have a hard time with the “if onlys” myself. I think sometimes we just have to keep working at being positive and eventually that pays off.

  • Jessica W
    27 August 2011 at 1:25 am

    I love this post! And I love what you said Adriel about “activating your faith”. That is so true! So much of it is about stopping and choosing to activate the truth we already know. I really needed this reminder. Thank you! Praying for you and the family during this tough but exciting transition!

    • Adriel
      29 August 2011 at 1:28 am

      Thanks Jessica! You are paving the way for me and I’m watching/reading your every bit of insight as you are a few steps ahead of me!! 😉

  • Anna Goforth
    27 August 2011 at 1:41 am

    Thank you for you and keeping you and your precious family in my prayers. So thankful for the body of Christ and his GRACE! 🙂

  • Alicia
    28 August 2011 at 12:17 am

    It’s so true what you say about the battle being in our minds. The pastor I work for often gives people “STOP” cards when they are dealing with negative thoughts or battling lies in their mind. It’s basically an index card where you write out the negative thought or lie on one side with the word STOP beneath it. Then on the flip side, you find scripture declaring God’s truth to combat those thoughts. Tuck them in your Bible or purse, or put them around your house in places where you can grab them easily and remind yourself of God’s truth in the hard moments. Hang in there, Adriel, you are doing an incredible job with your family and your ministry!

  • Tamika
    28 August 2011 at 12:45 am

    Oh wow….I could have written so many parts of your entry..so many. I applaud you for putting it down ‘on paper’ so to speak and sharing it with others….I have a blog, but I’m not sure I’m ready to get into things like that on there! I’m glad to read others tho, and know I’m not alone. May Grace find you….and give you more comfort!

    • Adriel
      29 August 2011 at 1:29 am

      Thanks Tamika. And grace and comfort to you too as you need it!!! 🙂

  • Nessa
    1 September 2011 at 4:14 am

    I think the “If…” a lot this summer. Getting to care for our niece and then having things taken out of our control and having to wonder how she is doing and wish she was with us has been horrible.

    Turning my heart over to the anger and frustration is easier to do than to let go and have faith. I try to focus on and live in what is, not what if.

  • Carol
    15 September 2011 at 3:55 am

    Life is good! It’s so hard to maintain perspective sometimes, but for me distinguishing between little problems and big problems really helps…a lot of my “problems” are little problems in the grand scheme of things and not worth the amount of worry or time that I give them. Well said, Adriel.

  • […] of all mommy meltdowns… but thankfully lived to tell about it. Even still, I wrote about feeling sorry for mysef and the “if onlys”, which so many of you could relate to. Finally I wrote about the controversial topic of birth […]


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