Encouragement, My Story, Uncategorized

Lets be honest

blog1

If you follow the popcorn trail leading to my closet, you will find a sweet, bright eyed little girl who found her momma hiding there.  She looks at me so sweetly as if she found me only to reassure me.  She squats down beside me on the floor and offers me a bite of her popcorn.  My heart is happy to see her because her smiles are a source of joy for me on a daily basis.

Life is hard.  It is trying.  It is a journey and along the way we are making mistakes and learning.  Growing emotionally, relationally, and spiritually.

One thing that makes the process hard for me is not knowing if I am “ok”.  When I have melt down moments that are ugly, I think “no one else feels like this!  No one else looses their mind like this!”  When I come unglued and have moments where I just think I can’t go on any more, I think “what is wrong with me??  Why am I so crazy?”  I read books and blogs and listen to podcasts and I hear people share their story and they all seem so well rounded and well spoken and even if they tell me a story about how they had a “moment” it doesn’t seem near as nuts as mine.

But guess what I have learned?  I am not alone.  I actually started being REALLY honest with a couple of very close friends- not leaving out details.  Before, I would kind of be honest, you know tell the story but sugar coat it a little or leave out the parts I thought were just to bad to tell because I was fearful if they new the whole truth they might judge me or think I am too unstable to be friends with.  But despite my fear, I started telling.it.all.

The first time I admitted everything I had said to my husband during an unraveled moment, I was nervous.  My friend said “Wait, you really said that?”  My voice was covered in uncertainty as I said “yes, yes, I did.” Then she said “Oh my gosh I love that you said that! I have so been there and had no clue if that was normal”.

Wait, what?  You have done that?  Suddenly I felt a weight lift off my shoulders. I couldn’t believe that my friend had been there feeling like I had felt too.  I slowly started to admit more and more of my struggles.  The times I had laid in the dark, on the cold floor of my closet crying.  The moments I grabbed my keys and purse and contemplated just leaving with no plan or sane thought in tow.  The moments I had sheltered from my friends before, were out of fear- of judgement or rejection, and out of embarrassment.

I want to break the cycle of believing lies.  Lies that say we are alone and no one else faces the issues we have.  The only way to do this is to be honest.  Really honest.  Find a friend or two that you can be raw with.  My friends haven’t walked the same road I have. They don’t face the exact trials I do.  In fact, I might just be the craziest one in the bunch, but in being honest with them, they are now being able to be honest with me.  They share their stuff too.  Even if it isn’t the exact same stuff, they feel safe enough to do it.

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.  Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Philippians 2:1-4

In Philippians 2, Paul is telling the church that they need to learn to serve others but not selfishly.  To humbly see others.  I read this and can’t help but think of how much we can offer one another.  Words that stand out in this passage are encouragement, comfort, love, affection, joy.  Do nothing of selfish ambition but in humility count others more significant than yourself.

Ladies, please hear me!  We need to decide to create a culture where we can be honest and real without fear.  We need to be a community where we can say “I had a moment” “I made a mistake”  “I am not ok right now” and then know the response we get will not be judgement.  When I am at my worst, choose to see my best.  We need to be friends who can see the ugly parts of each others lives and encourage each other through it rather than judge.  Lets be grace giving women who love each other, not judge each other!

Lets stop painting unobtainable pictures of our lives that aren’t real.  Can we decide to be honest?  Maybe it will be YOU who decides that you are ready to be brave enough to be honest and share the not so pretty parts of your life, making others feel comfortable to share theirs.

This is a journey and we are all working to be our best selves but none of us are perfect and life sometimes gets the best of us.  We don’t want to stay stuck in the yuck but rather be able to live outside of the lie that life is perfect.  Admit it when things stink and then be there for one another, encouraging and loving through the mess!  When we believe the lies that no one else is struggling we just stay stuck in the struggle, but when we feel safe enough to share, we can truly start healing!

So, will join me, crying on the floor in the closet?  Maybe your kids will bring popcorn and come watch the show!  Then, we can laugh about it later and remember we are all in this together!

 

Encouragement, Family, My Story, Uncategorized

Can I hit pause on life?

hitpause

On a regular basis I have so many things going on in my mind that sometimes I just want to run away.  Yes, I mean it.  I literally want to run away.  BUT I don’t mean I want to get away from my life and never come back.  What I mean is, I get to the point where it feels like as long as I am smack dab in the middle of the chaos, there is no way I will ever be able to find my way out unless I am not right here.

I just want to hit the pause button on life, figure out all the things that are swarming around in my brain, then jump right back in, hit play and go on.  Unfortunately I haven’t figured out how to do that just yet.  I want to be the healthiest mom, wife and friend and it feels like if I could pause life for a while, I could figure out all the things!

In December I did what a lot of us do.  I reflected on the past year….thought towards the one to come.  I wanted to find a word for 2018 and decided mine would be focus.  I want to pay attention to where my focus is going.  What is getting my time and attention?

As I thought about the things I knew I wanted to place focus on, I realized I needed to make some changes in order to accomplish that.  One of those things was to take a break from social media.  I knew that it was distracting me from things I wanted and needed to focus on.  I wasn’t sure how long my break would last but I decided to start with 2 weeks.  Here I am, 6 weeks later and I have slowly gotten back on social media but not really posting or spending much time on it.

My time away was so very good for me.  I learned a lot about myself and was able to understand what I needed to see more clearly.  I spent more time in prayer and seeking God in my daily life.  I was able to hear from Him more when I wasn’t so distracted.  I took time to read books (ok I don’t ever read books, I listen to them) I had been wanting to read and then a few kind of landed in my lap that I feel God purposefully placed there.  I truly feel like the past 6 weeks have been a journey of discovery and newness.

As I move forward, I am not 100% sure what my relationship with social media looks like.  I know I don’t ever want to be back in the habit of checking it a million times a day- every time I am bored or need interaction.  I know that without seeing what is going on in so many peoples lives, I was able to focus on those closest to me and I have had more space in my mind to reach out to people I felt God had laid on my heart to reach to.  I found myself asking people what was going on in their life because I had no clue and that was a good feeling.  To be able to have real conversations to hear the hearts of those around me, rather than just see a post from them and move on.  Social Media allows us to communicate with the masses, making it seem less important to communicate in real life.

I truly love to share my life, especially pictures.  It makes me happy.  Before social media was big, I loved breaking out the scrap books and photo albums when people came to our house.  I have always enjoyed sharing pictures.  I also have a heart for encouraging others by sharing my story and life, all that God is doing now and has done in the past.  That is one reason social media is so great because I can share with so many people at one time.  I just don’t ever want social media to replace real connection.

If you are like me and find yourself needing a recharge, refuel, refocus, or whatever you want to label it, think about taking a break from whatever distracts you most.  We don’t get to hit pause in real life and if we aren’t careful we can miss so many of the amazing things all around us because we are too distracted with things that aren’t important.  This break has been the most refreshing, eye opening time for me and I am excited to continue to share more of what I have discovered over these last 6 weeks!

 

Encouragement, Family, home sweet home, Uncategorized

Our Christmas Count Down

DSC_9463ccI love the Christmas season!  The smells of cinnamon and cedar, the decorated homes so warm and inviting.  I love how the spirit of giving comes out and is evident everywhere.  It is such a beautiful time where people come together and reflect on the goodness of the season.  But there is also so much commercialism, busyness, and crazy expectations that I can get caught up in too.

A few years ago I decided I wanted to find a way to be intentional about the things that mattered most to our family.  I found that if we weren’t intentional it was easy to get caught up in being far too busy to enjoy things and spend way too much money buying things we don’t need.  I searched Pinterest for ideas and found so many great ones but nothing exactly like what I wanted, (it may be out there but I didn’t find it then!) so I created something for my family!

Before I dive into the details, I want to say this- I created this for my family and I am sharing it because it has been a blessing for us.  What works for us may not work of you, so if you read this and have any kind of guilt about what you are not doing, just stop!  I have done that to myself so many times and it is not worth it.  You loose too much feeling guilty and miss out on all the goodness that is right in front of you.  And if you read to the end, you will see we don’t do this perfectly!

When we talked about what was most important to us in the Christmas season we decided it was Jesus, family, & giving.  Each day there is something in our envelopes that reflect those things.

DSC_9413ccInside each envelope there is a piece to the Christmas story.  We read it, reflect on it and discuss what it means.  I love hearing what my kids have to say about it and reading it in sections really helps us focus on each part! I found my free printable Christmas story here.

The second part of this, is focusing on family time.  Each day we have a family fun activity.  These are things we enjoy doing together.  They range, anything from watching Christmas movies to looking at Christmas lights, minute to win it games, to decorating my Poppy’s Christmas tree for him.

And last but not least, we have an act of kindness each day.  Some of these things don’t require us leaving the house, like mailing a hug to someone or writing letters to everyone inside our home telling them what they mean to us.  These acts of kindness range in price too.  Some of the things we do are take hot drinks to people working outside, leave an extra big tip, donate blankets, and shop for the angel tree.

DSC_9446cc

When I plan our December and the count down, I look at all I know we have going on and I try to plan each days activities on that.  I know we will go out to eat after church, so I plan to leave a big tip on a Sunday.  Our church does a gingerbread house competition so I made sure that I made that our family fun activity that day.  Although when I plan it I don’t know everything that will come up so we are flexible  with it.

Our kids get so excited to open the envelope and see what we are doing that day.  They love the surprise!

We go into this knowing we will not fulfill each act of kindness and every family activity.  We set the expectations for this up front, letting the kids know that we will not be perfect in this.  Some days we end up doubling up on acts of kindness because we missed the day before and sometimes we just don’t do it at all.  The last thing I want to do is add unneeded stress to a busy season, so we do our best and don’t worry too much if we miss it.

I know that this is not for everyone but if you want to know more, feel free to ask!  This is something you can modify to meet your families needs/desires/schedules.

Let the count down begin- 24 days until CHRISTMAS!  We are excited to celebrate the birth of Jesus! Merry Christmas!

Celebrate Recovery, Encouragement, Family, My Story, Uncategorized

Suicide still hurts

dadToday is an anniversary I wish I didn’t have to remember.  It has been 3 years since I walked up to my dads door, waited for him to answer, but he never did.  3 years since my sweet husband bravely walked inside to find him.  3 years since he walked outside to tell me the heartbreaking news.  “He’s gone.  He took his life.”

It is still crushing to even think about it all.  To remember the pain of the day and wonder what happened.  Suicide leaves questions that will never be answered.  I can’t wrap my mind around it.  I am someone who always looks for answers.  I want to understand everything.  But this one, no matter how much information I seek, I will never fully understand it.

Suicide leaves behind so much.  It leaves pain and what if’s for all of those left here.  It leaves grief and tears.  Sometimes it leaves anger, hurt, or frustration.  3 years later, and although I have done so much healing, there is still healing to be done.  I don’t get anxiety when I drive past the community where he lived any more.  I don’t cry about my dads death every day.  But there are days that the grief just comes out of no where.  Days where I am just sad he isn’t here.

This topic is still something that not everyone is comfortable talking about, but it is one we need to talk about.  I have learned of 2 suicides this week and even though I din’t know either person, I have mourned over them.  My heart is broken for them.  For the pain they were in.  For the hurt they felt.  For the fight they fought.  My heart hurst for the their friends and family as they wrestle with all of the emotions that come with suicide.  My prayers for them are pleas with God to hold them together as they process.

Friends, our country needs support, encouragement and love for those who are hurting.  Depression is real.  Emotional pain is real.  Lets search our hearts and find compassion to see others.  To really see them.  We are all human and we all struggle!  If your struggles don’t look like someone else’s, thank God, then ask Him to help guide you as you reach out to those in your life who you know are hurting.

Be a friend.  Ask questions.  Offer your shoulder to cry on.  Don’t judge.  Just love.

And if you need a friend, let me know.  If you are looking for community to love you through your pain, Celebrate Recovery is the most incredible place to find people who truly love and accept folks just as they are!  I would love to help connect you!

1-800-273-8255 is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.  Call them if you need them.

Other posts on this topic:

My Truths about Suicide & Depression

When God Fulfills His Promises

Uncategorized

My Next Adventure! {Alice’s Table}

In the spring I announced I would be letting go of my photography business after 12 years of capturing memories for my wonderful clients.  It was a choice I didn’t take lightly and it took a lot for me to let go of something I had loved so much.

I needed a break and some time to just be.  During these last few months I have realized how much I have missed having a creative outlet.  I love to create.

One day I was online looking for something and I stumbled upon a business I had never seen before- Alice’s Table.  The little blip I saw said something like “Getting women together to learn flower arranging in a fun social setting”  I was intrigued.  I started researching and quickly decided this looks like my DREAM JOB!

AT-Image-2

If you know me, you know I love floral, entertaining, and being social!  A “job” where I would get to teach others to arrange flowers, host events, and get to hang out with new people all the time, I am in!

Over the course of a few weeks, I went from interested to excited, to becoming an Event Exec with Alice’s Table!  I am so excited to bring this fun experience to our area!

Events are held just about anywhere- restaurant, winery, brewery, boutique, coffee shop, your home or office- the possibilities are endless!  At the events I will be teaching groups of friends and acquaintances how to design beautiful bouquets. Each guest will have the chance to craft an exquisite arrangement that they take home in a stylish vase.  If you are interested in hosting a private event, please let me know!

AT-Image-3

Details for my first public event will be coming soon!  You will not want to miss it!

Thank you to all of my friends and family for always supporting me!  I can’t wait to share Alice’s Table with you! AT_Image-6

Uncategorized

Please don’t judge my social media feed

IMG_7960 copyHow many times have you decided everything you think about someone from their social media feed?  I am guilty.  I see how happy someone looks or how much fun they are having.  How perfect their house looks. Are they lying in their feed?  Are they really that happy?  Are things in their life really always that perfect?

I am a pretty open sharer.  I like to share my life and do it fairly often on social media.  For me personally, my social media sharing is to serve several purposes.  The first one is to share our life with family and friends that wouldn’t get to see whats going on with us other wise.  The second is as an opportunity to encourage others and share Jesus’ love.  Third is to document our days in my chatbook series. (if you don’t know what chatbooks are, look them up!  so wonderful!)   So if you look at my Instagram feed, you are going to see lots of regular, every day life pictures.  Most of what I post is happy, although I do try to be transparent about the hard stuff too.

Something that I have realized, is how often people make opinions about other peoples lives, solely on their social media.  When we only have a portion of the story it is easy to use the little bit we know to start setting expectations for ourselves.  I have done this so many times and I have even heard other people say things about me like “you have it all together, you are super mom!” When that is the furthest thing from the truth.

I have looked back at what I post.  I wanted to see if I am regularly posting things that aren’t reality.  The truth is, I don’t stage my photos (I might move something out of the frame) or my moments, but my social media certainly isn’t giving the whole story.

So here are 6 reasons you shouldn’t judge my life on my social media.

  1. I don’t share every second of my day.  You may see the sweet sleeping toddler but you sure didn’t see the fit he threw right before he fell asleep.
  2. I enjoy documenting my life in photos.  It truly makes me happy.  When I see an opportunity for a picture, I usually take it.  I don’t post them all.  I currently have 10,088 photos and 534 videos on my phone.  That is normal right?  My point is this, You don’t see it all.  At the end of the day, I hand my husband my phone and we look at the pictures from the day as I recap all we did.  I have photographed fights, fits, messes, just as much as the hugs, smiles, and snuggles.  But I reserve sharing the details.  Not posting them doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.
  3. I save some of my raw emotions, deeper thoughts, and stories of trial for a more personal place.  I blog some of my crazy life experiences and stories of trials and over coming but if you really want to get to know me, lets do it in person.  I will share and open up about most things in a face to face conversation.  Social media isn’t the place to tell all.
  4. I don’t want to focus on the negative.  I have to fight the urge to only see the negative in my life so posting the good stuff helps me to remember those moments.  I don’t forget the bad, but it helps me to still see the good.  I have had someone say “looks like you had a great day” based on what I posted, but the reality is, I faced so many difficulties that I certainly didn’t stick that day in the great day category BUT I posted the good stuff, despite the bad, because I struggle to see the good when I recap my day.
  5. I have insecurities.  Some of my insecurities keep me from sharing on social media.  OR sometimes those insecurities are behind me posting.
  6. Sometimes the hard parts of my day aren’t mine to share.  There are difficulties I face that include other people and sharing that on social media would be telling someone else’s story that isn’t mine to share.

I know that this isn’t the truth for everyone’s social media but I wanted to give perspective as to how dangerous it is to form opinions solely on social media.  All of us have reasons why we post what we do, but rarely do we get the whole picture from a post. Before you form an opinion from social media, remember that the person posting is a flawed human, who makes mistakes, faces trials, endures hardships, and is probably just trying to survive life just like you!  No kid is perfect, no marriage is perfect, no life is perfect and when we see something that we feel reflects that on social media we can take comfort in knowing we aren’t seeing it all!

 

 

 

Encouragement, My Story, Uncategorized

You, me, & coffee- just invite her

IMG_5226A busy mom with several children is sitting at home struggling.  She is lonely and would love more than anything to connect to others who share common interest and who are in the same season of life.  Reality is, she would love to connect with anyone.  She feels a little forgotten.  She starts evaluating herself and looking for reasons why it seems like no one reaches out to her.  She finds herself unsure why, but realizes she is feeling self conscious wishing she could figure it out.

In a house across town, another busy mom has been invited to a luncheon but has no one to go with.  She wants more than anything to put on makeup, fix her hair, wear that new dress, and have a kid free lunch with friends.  She scans the contacts in her phone.  She concludes that most everyone she knows is far too busy to go.  This friend probably can’t get a babysitter.  This one seems to have so many friends and always busy, I doubt she has time for me.  One by one she answers for them, without asking.  Before she knows it, her excitement about the luncheon has turned into sadness and she decides she won’t go because she doesn’t want to go alone.

Have you ever been either women?  In this season of Motherhood I can find myself being both women at times.  I have been the lonely mom, wishing someone would invite, call, or text me.  I have longed for meaningful relationships and wondered why I don’t have them.  I have also been the woman who didn’t even ask because I  thought they were too busy or I feared feeling rejected if they said no.

Through talking to other women, trying to figure out a solution to loneliness in Motherhood, I have heard over and over again that a lot of moms don’t invite out of fear OR they don’t invite because they assume someone is busy.  I have also heard moms saying they just feel overwhelmed by all that they have going on and truly feel too busy to reach out.

If you are the overwhelmed mom, but long for some girl pal time, here is a question for you- What would it look like to determine a set amount of time for this?  Do you feel that even with your full plate, carving out some time to hang with other moms might actually help you be less overwhelmed?  I know that taking time out of my normal crazy to drink coffee and chat with other moms it helps me feel human again!

If you are like me and often assume other moms are too busy OR fear rejection, lets ask anyway!  You never know when another mom may need the invite, just as bad as you want them to say yes!  And lets remember that a no isn’t personal.

Just invite.  Reach out.  Make new friends.  Love on old ones.  Have coffee, lunch, dinner.  Go play at the park.  Find ways to connect and don’t let things stop you.  Relationships are far too important to allow fear or busyness get in the way!

I do not have a full proof solution for the lonely mom, but I do know if we don’t ever take a chance and just invite, we will miss out on so many opportunities!

Happy Monday Friends!  I hope it is fabulous!