Monthly Archives: May 2013

Some Thoughts That Lead to a Crazy Idea

Identify

My one little word for this year is Identify.

One thing I love about adopting a word for the year is that, no matter how much I know I need to focus on it over the course of several months with intention, I can’t even comprehend how greatly it will impact me. This word has been no exception.

In my season of quietness, God’s given me a lot of time to think.

One of the biggest things I’ve tossed around in my scattered brain is the direction in which to take my blog. It’s a funny world, this online one, and I never can settle on exactly the right mix of linking up and social media involvement that is supposed to come with the blogging territory combined with real life family, friends, and homemaking.

I’m sure there are bloggers out there who have found peace about the balance, but you know what I keep discovering the more I listen to women who blog? Many of them are at odds with whatever this blogging thing has become. Nothing worth doing in life is going to be easy 100% of the time, but there has to be something to this. Somewhere along the way, in this swirling mess of our online social lives, we are coming up short of doing what works.

I can think of at least a half dozen women I know either really well or decently well who share my love of writing and have many things of value to say, but they’re at a loss of knowing how best to share it in a way that allows them to actually live life while sharing the important messages they have to offer in the written word.

Unfortunately, I haven’t come up with a solution yet, but identifying the problem is the first step, right? 😉

I do have one thing I’ve been wanting to try, and the darling Amy Andrews has intrigued me enough to consider taking on my own form of what she’s about to try. I’ve been thinking about coming up with a monthly email. Call it a newsletter if you want, but I don’t really think it can be categorized as that. The thing is, I don’t have “news” to share per say, but I have stories. I enjoy stories, learn best from stories, like to look at life as a series of stories, smile when I think about stories others tell me…I think you get the picture.

I guess you could call it a monthly storygram where I’d share some of the things I would normally turn into blog posts over the course of a month if I had the luxury of regularly scheduling time to write. But I don’t have that luxury right now, and I work better with a deadline in sight, so maybe this would work.

Also, one thing that I don’t like so much about blogging is the lack of interaction that comes with it. It’s that nature of blogging, and as a good friend of mine worded her thoughts on leaving comments on blogs, I agree that, “I don’t want to say something inane to validate my presence.” But one of the whole points of blogging and networking is building relationships. When I look back at the women I’ve gotten to know through blogging, the way I’ve actually gotten to know them is through personal correspondence between just the two of us.

I’m only a small blogger, so actually dialoguing via email with my readers is a viable option. Should you feel obligated to email me back every time I sent out a storygram? No way! However, it would be a lot more comfortable for both of us to actually chat a little with each other about what we’re both going through in life if we had a private conversation going on. I’m simply offering a starting point for us to catch up by letting you read a little about what’s been going on in my life. How fun would it be to sorta be pen pals?!?

Or if you never get a chance to send me an email back, then I’m just continuing to give you an occasional something to read, all conveniently delivered to your inbox. I’m not planning on doing away with my blog. I’ll still post on here occasionally as I do now, so you don’t have to participate in this little idea if you’d rather keep things the way they are now.

Before I actually follow through with all of these crazy ideas of mine, I’d really, really appreciate some feedback. Does this sound like something you’d actually enjoy, or would it be just another email to clutter your inbox? I’m still in the “thinking about it” stage. No actual steps have been taken, so if not many are interested, then nothing is lost, and I won’t be offended. I think out loud when I brainstorm, and this is one big brainstorming post, so fire away with your thoughts on the matter. Either leave me a comment on the blog or Facebook or email me at trendbreakers@live.com.

Have I mentioned how much I love and appreciate you sweet friends who take time to read my ramblings? Because I do!

If you’re new to this site, thanks so much for stopping by! I would love to have you as a part of this humble little community of women who want to find the exceptional power of God in our otherwise average lives. If you would like to receive updates when I add new posts, you can like my Facebook page, subscribe to my RSS feed, or receive new posts by email. You can also find all of these options easily by going to my home page and clicking on the appropriate icon located in the right side bar.

 

What I’ve Been Reading

While I’m busy not writing so much right now, I’ve been catching up with a long-lost love of mine – reading. I don’t know exactly what caused it, but I went through a several years’ long funk in the book reading department. This year, I was determined to change that since I knew I’d have a lot more down time with nursing a baby. Also, I got a Kindle for Christmas from my parents, and it has made reading one-handed in the middle of the night infinitely easier.

I fought the idea of an eReader for a long time, but the fact is, I am reading far more books than I did with those good old fashioned paperbacks. In case you’re new to the eReader scene, let me encourage you to check out the website eReader Girl. It lists daily deals on free or discounted eBooks, and I’ve gotten a ton of books to add to my library for next to nothing.

I thought I’d share a few of my favorite reads of this year for those of you who enjoy a good book. If you’re an avid reader, you probably already read many, if not all, of these long ago, but I’m like 5 years behind all books that are not by Francine Rivers. So this list is more for those recovering from a non-reading phase. Oh! And I totally recommend stealing Crystal Paine’s idea of starting a Pinterest board to keep track of all of the books you read in a year. It’s a big motivator for me to be able to add a new book to my list so I can go back and cheer myself on for reading 14 books so far this year! Go me! 🙂

1. Loving the Little Years by Rachel Jankovic. I know, I know. The awesomeness of this book is old news to many. Jen told me to read it 2 years ago when it came out. It sounded good, but I was in that reading funk, and I kept putting it off. I’ve decided that it’s for the best that I didn’t read it until I had a 3 year old and a 2 month old. Any season of motherhood that includes an infant comes with an element of chaos, and I needed to read it right. that. minute. in my life. It’s encouraging, it’s convicting, it’s short. All of those things that are important to moms of little ones. Rachel writes like she’s a friend sitting down and talking to you about what’s happening in her life, and I love that! I have started reading her newest book, Fit to Burst, as well, and it’s great so far, too.

2. Impact my Life: Biblical Mentoring Simplified by Elise Pulliam. This was an eReader Girl find that turned out to be great! My passion for discipleship/mentoring grows with each year I’m alive and learning how Jesus did things. It’s an easy read, and I plan to use it as a guide when I start my own mentoring group with girls in our youth department at church. No sense in reinventing the wheel when Elise has done such a great job doing the leg work and presenting it in this book!

3.Grace for the Good Girl: Letting Go of the Try Hard Life by Emily Freeman. I’ve heard Ashley talk of this one often, and I really wanted to read it. It was a fantastic book! I sent out texts to several friends when I was only a few chapters into it saying, “You must read this!” This book is for all of those girls who find security in being “good” or following rules or pleasing others. It gives a lot of food for thought, and a part of me wished I’d discovered it a decade ago before I learned much of its contents the hard way. Sometimes learning through experience is the best way, however, and I still felt encouraged by this book because it will always be my flesh-inspired tendency to lean toward the “good girl” way of thinking. Thank God for grace!

4. Sparkly Green Earrings by Melanie Shankle. This was my most recent book to read, and I LOVED it so much! I can’t count the number of times I laughed out loud as I related to Melanie’s stories about potty training, throwing sand, and countless other accounts of those stories that can only originate from being around a small child. It is more than just a a laugh out loud book, though. I felt encouraged by her message as well, and I can not recommend it highly enough.

What books have you read recently that you would like to recommend? I’m officially taking recommendations since I love reading again.

If you’re new to this site, thanks so much for stopping by! I would love to have you as a part of this humble little community of women who want to find the exceptional power of God in our otherwise average lives. If you would like to receive updates when I add new posts, you can like my Facebook page, subscribe to my RSS feed, or receive new posts by email. You can also find all of these options easily by going to my home page and clicking on the appropriate icon located in the right side bar.

 

 

 

Letters to my Daughter: Let’s Talk About Beauty

BabyCakes Studios: Westerfield &emdash;

To my sweet baby girl,

I tell you every day that you are God’s precious gift to me, but I wish with all of my being there were some way that I could convince you of how deeply I mean it. You have no idea how much He’s brought me through to get to this place where I can sit without overwhelming fear and smile down at you, a little lady entrusted to me.

Don’t be alarmed when I admit this to you, but there was a time in my life, long before you were conceived, when the thought of having a daughter petrified me. I’m over that now, and I could not be more delighted that you are my beautiful daughter, but I want to explain a few of the reasons I feared it.

It boils down to this, being a girl myself, I know more vividly the struggles that come with being female. It’s not easy, my dear, but it doesn’t have to be nearly as hard as we tend to make it. Today I want to begin a conversation that we’ll have many times in our years of growing together.

Beauty.

I still struggle with this one, my love, but we will work hard to conquer it together.

I remember when I was a girl there was a wildly popular company called Glamor Shots. In short, women and girls would go in for a photo shoot after getting a makeover. Was it evil to participate? Not at all. I knew lots of people who did it, and I firmly believe that they did nothing wrong for indulging in this fun activity.

I wanted to go in for my own makeover and come out with the pictures to prove I, too, could look beautiful with hair fancy in pure 90s form with lots of hair spray and really tall bangs. But my mom said no. I remember crying as I asked her why. I wanted to feel beautiful for once in my short life, and it seemed she was depriving me of that happiness. I remember her quiet response, “I want you to always know what true beauty looks like. You don’t need all of that to be beautiful. You already are beautiful just the way that God made you.”

I didn’t get it. I sighed as I looked in the mirror and begrudgingly distributed my homely school pictures. “If only…” I sighed as I imagined how much better I would look with a lot of makeup on my pre-adolescent face.

Now that I’m grown, there are still times when I still play that “If only…” game. If only…

I had the same body I did 10 years ago.
I had more money to buy nicer clothes.
I had different hair.
I had a more attractive face.

They start piling and I start spiraling when I dwell on “if onlys.” But one article I happened upon recently online made me smile and get my focus off my self-centered, incorrect view of true beauty. It contained dozens of pictures of funny Glamor Shots photo shoots. While the women posing were probably beautiful women in real life, they looked comically out of sorts as they posed with their white glove-adorned hands holding their far-too-big and bedazzled collars. The pictures were dated, just like pictures become as time passes. The styles portrayed in those pictures 20 years ago are long gone, and their lipstick would not turn heads in a positive way if worn today.

In the 5 minutes I spent perusing the pictures in the article, I silently thanked my mom for being right and sticking to it when it would have been easier to let me go feel better about myself for a brief season in my life by having my own Glamor Shots. Fashions change quickly, my dear, and your body will always have some awkward stage it’s going through even when you’re all grown up. So please do your best to understand early on that beauty is more than what you put on or how you style your hair. It’s how God made you. Perfect. Exactly how He wants you. In HIS image.

This is only the beginning of this conversation, sweet daughter. We both have much to learn about finding that balance of caring for the temple God’s given us and not getting caught up in what those around us say we should do and wear to look good. May we always remember to cast aside the “if onlys” and strive to glorify our Creator with the beautiful bodies He’s given us in every season of our lives.

Love,
Mama

Soli Deo Gloria

 

 

 

If you’re new to this site, thanks so much for stopping by! I would love to have you as a part of this humble little community of women who want to find the exceptional power of God in our otherwise average lives. If you would like to receive updates when I add new posts, you can like my Facebook page, subscribe to my RSS feed, or receive new posts by email. You can also find all of these options easily by going to my home page and clicking on the appropriate icon located in the right side bar.

 

 

Get the eBook “Trend Breakers” for only $0.99!

JPEG Trendbreakers

Happy Mother’s Day to my readers! This weekend, you can purchase my eBook, Trend Breakers: Discovering and Choosing True Friendship in a Lonely World for only $0.99! It’s available in both the PDF form or for the Kindle.

Go here to download the PDF version. Just be sure to use the coupon code: MOTHERSDAY

Go here to purchase the Kindle version.

I pray that God blesses you in your friendships with the women God has placed in your life, but ultimately you enjoy and appreciate the relationship you have with the Creator of friendships.

If you’re new to this site, thanks so much for stopping by! I would love to have you as a part of this humble little community of women who want to find the exceptional power of God in our otherwise average lives. If you would like to receive updates when I add new posts, you can like my Facebook page, subscribe to my RSS feed, or receive new posts by email. You can also find all of these options easily by going to my home page and clicking on the appropriate icon located in the right side bar.

That Ugly Post to Push me Over the Hump

I’ve been mulling over a great many things lately of the blogging kind. Nothing new, really, just trying to determine where to go from here. Before I come across as emo, please note that this post’s greatest purpose is to help me sort things out. I come up with my clearest answers by writing things out, so this is not, I repeat NOT, a cry for help from the depths of despair.

Taking care of little ones, especially when they’re very little, takes a great deal of time. Not to mention energy and brain power. At the end of just about every day when I used to be able to sit at the computer and write for a while, my head crashes on my pillow. If I’m not feeling exhausted, then I try to think about what I should write and it doesn’t come. Or it does and I try writing it only to get frustrated because it’s all a jumbled mess. That’s why you can currently find no less than five incomplete drafts of posts started and abandoned on my blog’s dashboard because it isn’t working.

It all feeds into that confusing network of knowledge and expectations about what makes a good blog post. I’ve read what makes a good blog post, and I’ve spent a great deal of time trying my best to make them be just as much like the experts say they should be as possible. There’s a place for that, but right now I’m a bit disenchanted with the written and unwritten rules of the blogging world.

Being relevant, having easy-to-read posts complete with properly sourced or watermarked pictures, linking up – all of these things are well and good, but they can become time suckers from things that are higher priorities to me right now, like my family or my home or actually following through with my intentions to send a “how are you?” text to my friends. Don’t even get me started on my love-hate view of the whole social media aspect of it. Ultimately, it’s that pressure I put on myself to make sure my blog is meeting the criteria that is keeping me silent, and that will simply not do. (Thanks, Jen, for the encouragement to just write.)

So I am just writing tonight. Nothing fancy or even coherent. I’m pretty sure I will not do much in way of proofreading because I am determined to actually complete a post. As therapy to my perfectionism sins. When Jen and I were texting back and forth about our real-life conversation and her post today about blogging, I was able to say one thing that made sense to me. And I’m going to resist the urge to make this post “complete” by including the screen shot of the text so I have a picture in this post. (Seriously, people, I’m messed up.) Here’s what I said,

“You know, I rambled enough last night to prove that I don’t have any answers but I do know this. We keep coming back to it because we love it, and at the end of the day here’s one thing I’ve decided when it comes to my own blogging journey. If I become a better person for it, then it’s worth it. I believe I have because I’ve put myself out there and I’ve acted in faith. It’s through blogging that I discovered that I struggle with both. A lot.”

So there you have it. I’m ending right here, not because it’s a work of art, but because I’m ready for bed, and this is as good a place as any to pause until next time. Goodnight you wonderful, dear friends who stick with me when I’m wordy, silent, confused, or whatever other description fits in my various seasons of life. You have been the audience that has loved me as I strive to be who God wants me to be, and I am truly grateful for you.

If you’re new to this site, thanks so much for stopping by! I would love to have you as a part of this humble little community of women who want to find the exceptional power of God in our otherwise average lives. If you would like to receive updates when I add new posts, you can like my Facebook page, subscribe to my RSS feed, or receive new posts by email. You can also find all of these options easily by going to my home page and clicking on the appropriate icon located in the right side bar.

 

 

My Daily Dose of Exceptionally Average

It’s the peanut butter and jelly that I eat for lunch.

It’s the holes that I punch in Tupperware so we can make a home for slugs we dig up under the guttering.

It’s the Angry Bird battles I hear raging from his room. Did I mention that he’s decided every farm animal toy that we own is now one of the infamous pigs from the game? Or that he builds his own elaborate structures with every possible construction item he can find amongst his toys? Or that now Angry Birds has been taken to a new level because he uses his remote control car to knock over the towers?

It’s the way my sweet baby grasps my arm when I reach down to give her her pacifier.

It’s the conversations we have both silly, sweet, and serious about God. By the way, according to Dash, God is the one who taught him his boyish orneriness. I asked him where he learned to be so ornery and he told me quite proudly, “Um, God!”

It’s establishing routines with a three month old.

It’s cheering on a three year old for eating 6 whole bites of chicken in 45 minutes’ time. The accomplishment is mind-blowing, I know.

It’s bearing witness to slobbery smiles and sibling love.

It’s that sweet treat when both children are in their beds for at least 20 simultaneous minutes in the middle of the day and I get to sit down and watch a show with my husband only to be interrupted because the baby starts crying and then the three year old wants to make sure I haven’t forgotten he’s “suffering through” his nap/quiet time so he sighs extra loud when I walk by his door.

These are the little things that make up my exceptionally average. They seem insignificant, but they’re not. They’re each a beautiful gift, a chance to learn, an opportunity to fulfill my calling.

If you’re new to this site, thanks so much for stopping by! I would love to have you as a part of this humble little community of women who want to find the exceptional power of God in our otherwise average lives. If you would like to receive updates when I add new posts, you can like my Facebook page, subscribe to my RSS feed, or receive new posts by email. You can also find all of these options easily by going to my home page and clicking on the appropriate icon located in the right side bar.