Friday, April 21, 2017

Thoughts on 30: Who Was that Woman in the Pictures?

Eight years ago I was in full-on wedding preparation mode. With just a couple weeks left until our wedding, I got my first professional makeover. I walked out of Sephora with products I absolutely loved, new techniques I’d never heard of, and a lot less money in my bank account. As years went by, I finished grad school, started a new job, then eventually had two babies and became a stay at home mom. With so much going on, makeup (and hair and clothes) became a much lower priority and I stopped putting much thought into what I was buying and instead just grabbed whatever was quickest and cheapest. 

But then a weird thing started to happen. When I saw photos of myself, I would have this moment of surprise and disorientation almost every time because the image didn’t look like how I felt. Anyone ever had this moment? At the time, my kids were 3 and 1 and I hadn't taken much time for myself since starting our family. And the thing was, it wasn't that I was having a pity party over the way I looked. It was just that I would look at the photo of that moment, and I would remember exactly how I felt and what I was saying and doing, and those feelings were never frumpy or lost or forgotten like the way I often felt I looked. Inside I felt young and bright eyed and like my life was full of wonderful surprises and joys, and it was bizarre to feel like I didn't seen that in myself in a still shot.

So I decided to make a change. And hear me say this: I truly believe your physical body is not what defines you. Even at my most out of shape or least trendy, I was always witty and smart and kind and no amount of exterior change could take that away from me. But I also decided there was nothing wrong with enjoying the fun things that come along with being a girl. I was confident in who I was because I was confident in who made me, but now I was ready to look in the mirror and see the girl I felt like I was inside, the girl who had been lost while focusing on everyone else but herself.

So I got more serious about having a healthier diet and regular exercise. I went and got a new haircut and started researching makeup. I had no idea what contouring was or a beauty blender sponge or even what shade I should pick in anything. And it bears repeating, the hair and makeup were not what made me me, but I was having SO much fun learning and playing around with the options and doing something that was just for me.

I went back to the basics, and in this case, that meant a lot of Google research and Youtube videos (which is so fun, but you will get sucked in for DAYS watching those makeup tutorials). I wrote all about the products that were a part of my beauty evolution here, you can read it to see all the ones I love the very most. But most importantly, I realized this journey was only a little about the products and a lot about taking the time to invest in myself and the things I enjoyed. My makeup looks better now, but more importantly, when I see pictures of myself I see the joy and energy that I am experiencing at the time. The photos feel like me, like how I see myself.

So take heart, my friends! It's never too late to start over and it's never selfish to spend a little time on yourself.


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Compliment Worthy Crockpot Meals

Hey friends! I've started a new adventure writing some fun blogs for Aisle9, a website with tons of quick tips and fun articles, with some especially good stuff for women! I was writing down some of my compliment winning crockpot meals to give to a friend as a wedding gift, and decided that enough people asked me for the recipes it just made sense for it to be my first blog. So if you'd like to check it out, the link is below! I'll be posting more articles in the future on all kinds of topics, like hair and beauty, cooking, workouts, gift guides, decorating and crafts, parenting... the list goes on!

Stay tuned and take a peek!

Five Compliment Worthy Crockpot Recipes for Busy Moms

Photo via Damn Delicious

Thursday, February 23, 2017

A Season for Everything

Do you ever feel like you just have so much on your plate you don't even know where to begin? As a mom of toddlers, I feel like I'm constantly forgetting things and dropping the ball. But every parent who's a life stage ahead of me says you shouldn't expect for it to slow down; kids grow bigger and they get busier. The big picture can be overwhelming, I don't even always know what to tackle first on my to-do list. The questions start swarming in my head and I feel like I need 50 hours in a day instead of 24. 

Am I teaching my kids good character?  Do I participate enough in my husband's ministry job? Should I play a more active role in our church? Am I exercising enough? Am I eating healthy enough? Will God allow us to have another baby? If we can even get pregnant, how tight will our budget be with three kids while I'm staying home? Should I go back to work? Should we sign the kids up for sports already? Should I lead a small group? Am I teaching my kids about volunteering and serving others? Should I continue pursuing a career in graphic design after the kids are in school? Or do something with more of a steady income? When will I have time to finish all these house projects? Am I modeling how deal with hard things to my kids? What am I doing with the specific gifts God has given me? What are we going to do about the broken dishwasher? Should I be discipling more young women? How are we going to pay this bill? Am I meeting my husband's needs? Have I even seen him much this week or have things been too crazy? What even are my needs right now? When will I have time to do all this laundry and clean the house? HOW WILL I FIND TIME FOR ALL THESE THINGS??

Spinning, spinning, spinning.

So many questions, so many directions. And then it hits me, I'll never be able to solve all those questions and problems in a given week/month/year. But here's a question I can focus on:

What is my God-given purpose in THIS season? 
For each of us, this is different. For all of us, it's important. 

Some of you may have read that and known IMMEDIATELY what your God-given purpose is in this season. Some of you may have had a lightbulb moment that this is exactly why you feel so lost, you're unsure of what task you should be focusing on. Both of those are ok. Now is when you allow yourself time to think it over.
For me, once I posed the question and cleared out the clutter in my mind, it was pretty clear. I feel very peaceful about being home with my kids, that is a very specific role and list of duties that I can nail down. For this season, I need to focus on helping Titus learn to express his emotions in a healthy way and how to problem solve instead of exploding. He's having way fewer of his out-of-control tantrums, and I really believe that is happening because I've been home with him and his life is consistent. This is my purpose.

God gave me that little boy and knew I would make a great mommy for him, that I could handle the outbursts and love him through it; that I could calm him down and bring him comfort like no one else. This is my purpose. 

That when he wants to start screaming because he's unable to put into words how he feels, he needs me to look him in the eyes and explain things to him in an adult manner that most people don't use for kids, because he's unique and it works for him. This is my purpose. 

To tie shoes and brush hair and cut up apples because sometimes, you're too small to do things on your own. This is my purpose. 

To sit down with my kids and tickle them and teach them that joy can trump all other emotions if you let it. This is my purpose. 

To empower my little girl to be more than pretty by showering her with compliments about how she's smart and funny and silly and sweet and brave. This is my purpose. 

To teach them that sometimes, life isn't all about you. They don't know how much I serve them now, but one day they will look back and realize the sacrifices I have made (just like I did with my mom) and that sometimes loving someone means putting their needs first. This is my purpose. 

That's mine. Yours is yours. None is better, none is worse. There are so many things I could be doing or focusing on. But when you try to juggle them all, no one person or thing gets your full ability. I feel so much clearer when I let the other things fall away and lean into my purpose in this stage.

There will come a time for all the rest, because there is a season for everything. A season for laughter and dancing, a season for mourning and tears. A season for hard work and a season for respite. A season for speaking many words and a season for speaking few while we hear others instead. A season for health and a season where your body doesn't act or look how you want. A season for serving others and a season for recognizing your own needs. A season for your anger and a season for offering forgiveness. A season for pushing through trials and a season for relishing the good days. A season of recognition and a season of humble selflessness. A season for independence and a season for vulnerability. A season to celebrate new life and a season to let go in death. A season to cry out in anguish and a season to cry out in praise.

But not all of those have to be accomplished all at once.

For me, this is a season of service, sacrifice, and nurturing. Realizing my God-given purpose for this season doesn't make all of those other questions magically disappear. And it definitely doesn't mean there won't be a season in the future where my God-given purpose is directed at one of them. But it does make me feel washed over in grace to know I can focus on the task at hand and set a more realistic bar for what is expected of me.