What Starbucks Used to Mean To Me


I worked at Starbucks all through college and a couple years after. It was one of my favorite jobs I’ve ever had, and I am sad to say I mourn the loss of what Starbucks once was.

When I first started at Starbucks, I worked in a store that had one of those grind and tamp espresso machines. Do you know what I am talking about? You won’t see them in any Starbucks now-a-days, but these machines required you manually grind the espresso beans, manually tamp (press) the espresso into a little portafilter (looked like a small pot with a handle) and manually brew each shot. You had to time the shots, calibrate the machine to brew the shots just right, and it took fooorrrrr-evvvvv-errrrrrr to make each drink. But it was amazing. The art of coffee. No automatic shut off, no automatic steam wand for the milk, you actually had to pay attention. Imagine that.

About a year after that, we got the automated machines. Coffee was still an art to me, making each cup with love. What I loved most about the whole thing was the customer experience. I loved the people. Talking with them while I made their drink, getting to know the “regulars” who came in daily, memorizing drinks, and generally making the experience for the customers a fun and welcoming one.

The importance back then was the people. Starbucks often spoke with us employees about being the “third place,” the place you go when you’re not at home or work. Once a customer walked in the door, you were required to say hello within a few seconds. If a person sat at a drive-through window for more than three seconds without a hello from the employees, not good.

The focus was on creating the Starbucks experience. Making it memorable so people would come back. It wasn’t about pushing sales and relying on the addictive factor of their delicious drinks. It was about people.

So what changed?

In the last year of my employment there, Starbucks started making changes. Changes that required more sales. More emphasis on the drink offerings. And less on the people. After I left, I started noticing the quality of workers at Starbucks just wasn’t the same. Where did all the smiles go? Where were the kind workers? Where did the work ethic go? Now, it isn’t uncommon for me to wait at a drive through window for several minutes before being acknowledged. An entire transaction can go without a smile, thank you, or polite anything.

I am so disappointed in the change that Starbucks has been going through. More sales. Less community.

And that is probably what bothers me. You see, when I worked at Starbucks, it was one of those places where people would come to be with one another. The regulars all hung out for hours and laughed and shared life.

I particularly remember one couple who regularly came in. When the husband of the couple was killed tragically in a car accident, the wife came to our store. She said, “I knew you guys would be there for me.” Our manager went outside with her and they sat for a few hours talking. She continued to come back daily, without her husband, and I saw healing happen in a freaking Starbucks. I saw community happen in a commercial business. But it was all because Starbucks used to value community.

It makes me sad, really. Its truly representative of our culture now. Get in and out. However you want to take that. Food. Work. Groceries. Sex. Relationships. Phone calls. School. Heck, even having babies. So, I raise a glass (an iced americano with hazelnut and cream) to what Starbucks once was and what our culture used to be…may community continue to reside in our hearts when it is no longer represented by a green Siren.

What is it about writing?

This week, I had an encounter with content stealing that left me feeling like I wanted to quit the internet. I have dramatic moments like this occasionally, trying to convince myself to just break up with my blog and move on. But every time I feel this way, I just can’t bring myself to actually do it. The community, the connection with other people, it just feels like too much of a loss.

But you can stay on social media like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, you might say. Yes, this is true…but when it comes down to it, I just can’t stop writing. I am not an amazing writer, in my own opinion, but something in me needs to have this space to write and send my word out into space. I need to be able to say all the words and all the sentences.

I don’t know what it is about writing. I mean, I don’t even say anything particularly philosophical or moving. I don’t have a book or millions of followers. I could chant, “I WRITE FOR ME!” but that wouldn’t be true either.

What is it about writing? Specifically, what is it about writing publicly? Is it therapeutic? Is it narcissistic? I guess I do have dreams of one day writing books…but is that why I love blogging? Writing?

Sometimes I wonder if maybe writing is like throwing out a little morsel in hopes that someone will comment that they can relate. Or, if I am being truly honest, maybe it is a bit narcissistic in that we are looking for someone to be interested in us. Find value in us. Maybe we are trying, in a vulnerable and real way, to stand up and ask if someone will notice us.

Because if there is one thing I know about our humanity is that we long to be seen. We long for someone to look at us long enough to notice and see what the glancers and busy-bodies don’t see in their rush. Maybe we’re hoping for more than a comment. Maybe we long for a deeper connection that shows us that people find value not only in our writing or the pretty online spaces we create, but in the person who is connected to the fingers typing out the words.

Maybe we’re longing for more than what our culture has to offer. More than skin and big talk and possessions and sex and all the things. More than fizzled connections and empty words and manipulating and the never ending pursuit of the thing that we will be bored with 10 minutes later. Maybe writing and blogging and Instagramming are just small grasps at the desire to connect with the world in a meaningful and refreshing way.


Gardening & Parenting

This year, I decided that I wanted to start a garden. I’ve always admired those who grow their food and have big, overflowing vegetable gardens. I wanted one so bad! But here in Arizona, I was afraid that the hot sun would scorch anything I planted. After doing a lot of research and attending a local class about starting your garden, I felt more confused than I began! So I decided I would just jump in! I had a couple gift cards that I hadn’t used yet, so one evening, I went and got a bunch of supplies to start my garden.

I was amazed at how much I got for only about $80, and after the kiddos went to bed, I got to work. There’s just something about warm, wet soil under your nails and planting little sprouts that was so good for my soul. I had always had a “black” thumb and killed everything I tried to nurture, but this time I was determined to not only keep these little plants alive but also to grow something that I could eat and be proud of.

Sorry for the grainy picture! But this is everything all planted the night I did it. From left to right, I planted red bell pepper, heirloom tomato, jalapeno and cilantro (blue pot center), cherry tomato, and sage. I imagined all the bowls of salsa, crispy sage in a pan with chicken, salads with tomatoes, and more. I was so excited! The heirloom tomato on the left is only as tall as the first rung on the tomato cage and the cherry tomato on the right barely reached the second rung.

gardeningStarting from the left is the sage, center is the bell pepper plant, and right is the jalapeno with the cilantro in the background. Did you know that if you don’t pick the cilantro, it grows really tall and sprouts little white flowers?

I watered, pruned, watered some more. I learned which was the best way to position the plants for sunlight. I learned that cilantro is finicky, and that tomato plants have LOTS of pests. I would wake in the morning to find the tender leaves of sage full of wormy holes. I would find branches on my tomato plants missing blooms and leaves leaving them resembling barren tree branches. I learned that even though they were sprouted, it takes time to produce fruit. And that even though I saw growth, the best was yet to come.


I found this mirrored my parenting. Some days are pruning days, some are watering. Some topics are finicky and don’t have set answers, and that parenting comes with LOTS of pests trying to ruin what you’re doing. I found that I would get frustrated from not seeing anything…wondering when I was going to get to reap the harvest of my work and diligence with this little garden. Isn’t this so much like motherhood? The stretch of days that feel like all you do is discipline and one bottom is constantly occupying the time-out chair. Days upon days where you wonder, “Am I doing anything? What difference am I making on this little person?”

But I kept watering…partially out of stubbornness (I will not let this investment go to waste!) but also because I knew, something had to be coming. And this is how I have to live with my kids. Partially out of stubbornness ;) but also in knowing that something has to be happening. Underneath all the tears, punishments, molding, shaping, cuddles, lessons…I had to be making a difference somehow. When I tell them not to slam doors today and they forget the lesson tomorrow. When we teach not to hit and 5 minutes later you hear another smack! Underneath the soil, there just had to be growth. I had to have faith in Jesus that he was helping me mold their little hearts and even though I couldn’t see it, He could.

gardening2 gardening3

Finally, one morning I woke to find little tiny sprouts from the buds. And what was once just a little plant was now a taller, much stronger plant that was beginning to produce fruit. And some days, I wake up and my kids are kind, loving, and listen. Some days they aren’t. But when I remember that something is happening underneath that I can’t see, that one day I’ll wake up and that little bud of kindness, obedience, etc. has sprouted, that each day the fruit of my labor as a mom to little people will grow bigger and bigger…it makes all the days of tilling the soil worth it. ♥ xo

5 Things Every Mom NEEDS On Hand


As most parents learn, I’ve learned through trial-and-error [and mostly error] the things that make my life easier. Many times, I am simply too scatter brained to even think of new ideas to help myself be less stressed and the household a happier place. [Can I get an amen??] But as my babies get older and I become more aware of the hardest parts of my day, I’ve decided to sit down and write out the top 5 things I think every mom needs to have on hand at all times. I mean, we’re here for each other…solidarity, mamas…and I think we have to share our tips and secrets to a less chaotic day! Yeah?

1. Dry Shampoo

I mean, I could probably just say that and be done with it, but you guys. For reals. I used to not use dry shampoo because I had really greasy hair every morning and was not convinced that it would work. BUT. IT. WORKS. And for cheap too. I use Suave Professionals Dry Shampoo [and you can buy a 2-pack at Target!]. It smells good, works really well, and I always have it on hand. I mean, as I write this post, I’m wearing day-old hair [with curls!] and it looks great!

One thing I love about dry shampoo is that you can also use it on days that your hair is clean for that extra volume you need, extra grip for a pony tail, or in my case, to hold curls in my otherwise thin and limp hair. Its a win-win-win-win…you get the idea…

2. A Good Tumbler

31uMsT26GyL._SY355_Its a commonality amongst moms that we joke about how many times a day we have to reheat our coffee. For me, it was like 4-5 times before lunch time and then I would end up tossing it and starting over because it just didn’t taste right. Now that I live in a home that does not have a microwave, this makes things a bit more complicated since I have to reheat my coffee in a sauce pan. [I know...] So, one day, I had a Gru moment [lightbulb...] and realized that my coffee would probably last a bit longer if I used one of my coffee tumblers. And, surprise surprise, it worked!

Of course, I have several really cute coffee mugs that I love to use, so if I am anticipating being able to drink all my coffee in one sitting, I still use mugs. :) But tumblers like this one or this one [or make one you own really pretty with this tutorial] are really cute and will keep your life-giving mommy-juice warm for the duration of your morning. :)

3. Jeans that make you feel amazing

I don’t know about you, but I could probably live in my yoga pants and/or pajamas all the livelong day. But because I have to sometimes venture out into the world of the living, I need to look at least like I didn’t come off the set of The Walking Dead.

I’ve always loved Old Navy’s jeans…they always fit me just right. And right now, I am in LOVE with their Diva Skinny Jeans. I own a couple pairs in a few different colors and washes. The reason I think every mom needs a good pair of jeans is because when you feel good in your clothes, you really do feel better. I don’t know why. Maybe its just that you feel like a human again when you’re dressed and your hair looks good, but it changes something inside. Like a reverse Hulk situation.

4. A good mascara

I’m not really sure what could possibly distract from dark circles under tired eyes, but a good mascara is always a great idea. I have hopped around to different mascaras, trying different ones for fun. But I always come back to Maybelline New York The Colossal Volum’ Express Mascara. I have thin hair and eyelashes and need that extra volume and this mascara does the trick. Its pretty cheap and yet I love it!

On mornings that I am running my daughter to school, tossing on a couple coats of this mascara changes my face. I also have dropped a few drops of Lavender oil into the bottle [I use Young Living] to promote lash growth and to keep yucky germs out of my mascara tube. I really have noticed longer lashes! Holla!

5. Self-care

Okay, I know you can’t buy this one on Amazon [if you could, I'd buy all the stock!], but as I get older and my kids get older, self-care becomes more and more an obvious need. I always felt guilty going and doing something by myself. I hated leaving my husband and kids behind just to do something that I thought was selfish [which is not]. But in the past year, I have learned that when I am not caring for myself, I am unable to fully be present with my family.

I started with just going out for an hour or so. Then, when school started in Fall 2013, I started going to coffee shops to study before class. Then, a couple months ago, I started attending Holy Yoga. For me, going to yoga was the tipping point. I had found my jam. Now, I go weekly and find it to be exactly what my soul needs to reset and refresh.

There’s nothing worse than a worn-out, grumpy mama. These five things are game changers for me. What are the things that you just cannot live without as a mama? Comment below!

Back to Me

Last Friday, I put my blog on maintenance mode and posted this update:

Sorry for the inconvenience. But I have something to say. Something that I need to get out because I have been sort of embarrassed to say it.

I don’t like my blog design. Or my blog right now in some ways.

Earlier this year, I set out on a personal journey towards simplifying my life. [Still on that journey and loving it...so no complaints there.] I thought this meant that simplifying needed to spill over into every nook and cranny of me…school, kids, marriage, blog, house, Jesus, home, chores…everything. But as I am learning about simplifying, I am realizing that even though I LOVE the journey, this isn’t my voice. You know how they say [who is they by the way?] to find your niche and stick to it? Write to it? Well, I forced my mommy, wife, grad student, Jesus loving self into the “simplify” niche…and its not me. Simplifying my life is a part of my journey right now.

But you know what I really want to write about? Being a mom. Being a student. Loving my husband and little people well. Learning from my hurts. Leaning into Jesus. THAT is my niche.

So if you came looking for “the simple blog,” well, I’m sorry if I disappoint you by saying that “simplifying” won’t be the theme I speak from. It will totally be something I talk about, but it isn’t my voice. I’m so sorry. If you want to listen how I implement simplicity into my life as a mom, wife, student, and more, then I hope you stick around.

Right now, I am redesigning my site back to erin lauray. It will have a new color scheme, will be built on an amazing WordPress theme, and will hopefully encompass all that I am as a person.

The reason why this scared me was because I have changed my design a lot. I have new ideas that I get excited about and run with. So my fear is that you will see this as another one of my changes that won’t stick. Honestly, I pray this sticks. But who knows? A year from now, I may be a different person with different dreams who needs a blog that reflects that. When I change my design or whatever, I see it as a representation of how life is. We are constantly changing and learning and growing…and I would hope that when you come back to visit a year from now that I am not the same person. I really would hope that.

So here’s to new beginnings…again…and learning about who I am in the process.

While I was terrified of what people in the interwebs would think of me, I was more concerned with continuing to try and be someone I was not. What I am learning in my #simplify journey is that simplicity isn’t a one size fits all type situation. For me, that was making things less simple.

What I came to was this intense desire to get back to what I truly love and what my life is all about right now: parenting, motherhood, school, being a wife, and discovering myself as a woman and a person in this grand story that God is weaving through time. When I stiff-armed the mom blog in exchange for something different, I was also finding a lack of content ideas and a lack of passion behind writing. I want to write about life. About victories and moments of joy and also burned dinners and tears and pain. I want a community of moms who can support one another in this blessed and hard season of raising little chicks. I have found community so many times through social media and blogs in times when I was unable to find community in person.

I want to be that place for other women who are in that same season. A season of needing a girlfriend to talk to. Someone who will listen. I want to write about things that are real, things that make other moms/wives/women/people go, “YES. ME TOO.” I want to share my journey towards becoming a therapist and all that journey is teaching me about my life, my parenting, my relationships, and myself.

I hope that this place can be a place where you, too, can be encouraged. Uplifted. Challenged. Real.

So go tell all your friends…lets build something good here.

xo – E

Honor Where You Are

I recently started practicing yoga. Holy Yoga to be specific. Its a combination of the practice of yoga with scripture and centering yourself on the Lord during your time on the mat. And I quickly realized something.

I am more out of shape than I thought I was.

You laugh. Its okay. You probably imagine me trying to do some handstand or something difficult and then wondering why I can’t do it. No, its even worse. It was the Gentle Flow, and I was nauseous only halfway through. Pretty sad, huh? I follow a bunch of lovely yoga ladies on Instagram who are very talented and can do all sorts of fun and challenging yoga poses. They have fun, colorful yoga wear and smiles on their pretty faces.

I thought surely I can do yoga. I’ve done it before and loved it, so this time around I’ll likely get right into the flow and not have a single issue! I got a pretty purple yoga mat, set up my water and Holy Yoga DVD, and got ready for a wonderfully refreshing session.

Except I wanted to die. Except that I felt like my muscles were going to explode. And I got frustrated. I got mad at myself. Why can’t I do this? I chase little people around all day and here I am sweating bullets and wanting to barf.

I felt like such a failure. I had high hopes and expectations on myself for what this would look like. I wanted to be more advanced than I was, and when I realized that I wasn’t so far along, I berated myself.


Its not just about where you want to be.

I tried again. And again. And still felt so out of shape. And I felt so bad about it. And if I can admit something ugly, I wanted to be cool. Trendy. I wanted to be all like just drank my almond milk latte and finished a 90 minute yoga session on my back porch with the sunshine pouring in. Complete with Instagram picture. It embarrasses me to even write that.

But then I noticed something the instructor said often. Honor where you are in your body. I came to a realization. It flowed through me and seeped into all the areas of life. I have to learn to honor myself and where I am at. I had to honor my body and abilities.

It wasn’t about settling with where I was at and being disappointed. It was about respecting myself, pushing when I could handle it, but honoring my body. Valuing it. Valuing myself. You see, its not always about pushing ahead. Getting to your goals and dreams. Sometimes its about doing the work here. Sitting in right now for a little bit. We’re all so ready to move past the pain of the moment. The stress of today. That instead of learning about yourself, your life, loves, passions, etc., we are pushing past a teaching moment. Stop trying to get to the next thing in life – whether that is older kids who don’t throw fits or wear diapers anymore [ahem...hand raised], finally working in a place you like to work rather than the place you’re working now, moving into the house you’ve always wanted, finally putting the energy and time into something you have always wanted to do…no.

There is always going to be something. So my kids aren’t little babies anymore and can play independently. I wished for that in moments where they screamed their heads off, and I wasn’t able to put them down for one second. And then they grew a little and now can do what I had wished for, but now I have new problems. When will my two year old stop being so stinking hard?? Get my point? There is always going to be something.

I learned that honoring who I am right now helps me to learn about myself and truly consider who I want to be. Instead of pressing past the struggle, if I rest into the struggle and I can allow it to strengthen my muscles, my heart, and helps me to [cliche as it sounds] love myself. We have so many critics, there will always be people who will criticize you. Don’t let yourself be that person. Don’t be the first to hate on yourself; be the first to honor and love yourself.

There will always be people further than you. Ones you…[gasp]…envy. You wish you could be like them. Have their opportunities. But what does that create? Self-loathing. Negative self-talk. You could be like her if you worked harder. Lots of moms love to play with their kids, who are you to say you’re too tired? If you were only a little more interesting, you might have more followers and comments.

I’m saying this as much to myself as I am to you — You are good. You are worthy. You are valuable. You have nothing to prove. Let yourself stretch and grow in each season and stop looking so far ahead that you’re missing what you could be learning now. I promise you, a garden grows with gentle love and patient care, not a hasty and violent hand.

30 Before 30

I am 29. Its very weird to think that soon I will be leaving this life-changing, defining, pivotal, immensely hard 20s season behind me and venturing into my 30th decade on this earth. While that Friend’s episode of Rachel not wanting to turn 30 plays in my head, I am actually extremely excited to turn 30. Not really for any specific reason, but I am ready to venture into new waters and see what the Lord has for me. The turning of the clock from 29 to 30 seems to have a symbolic “leaving behind” for me…maybe I will finally move past some things. Maybe my 30s will be less about the uncertainty of my 20s and more about assurance.

Lots of bloggers out there have done 30 before 30 lists, which is a list of thirty things you’d like to do before you hit your 30th birthday. I started my list a couple months before I turned 29 in June by writing little goals in my notepad on my phone. But I have already been able to check some things off my list, so here it goes!

30 BEFORE 30

  1. Get a wrist tattoo – I really like this image and have always wanted to get three birds on a wire for my sisters and I.
  2. Start a vegetable garden – Growing your own food is something I have always wanted to do but have been so intimidated by!  Started this garden at the end of August 2014 :)
  3. Plant a few flower pots for the porch – The front of my house, while historic and cute, is not the most colorful. I’ve always wanted pots overflowing with flowers to help bring a little color!
  4. Run a 5K – I’m not a runner, so this would be a victory for me…all 3.11 miles.
  5. Start a blog about simplifying – In my own pursuit to #simplify my life, I want to share my stories with others. I renamed my blog “the simple blog” in August of 2014. Since then, I have had more joy in writing about pursuing simplicity in my life. Its wonderful!
  6. Start singing on the worship team at church again – I was on the worship team at my church from age 14 all the way through age 24. This was one of my most favorite seasons of life.
  7. Start mentoring someone – I don’t look at this goal as an, “I’m so great!” type of goal. I see this as something where I am ready to pour into someone else and love on them.
  8. Take piano lessons – Always wanted to do it. That’s all!
  9. Lose 10 pounds – Because. Food. I achieved this through my 23rd point below! Yay! Finished the program in September 2014.
  10. Start practicing yoga – I’ve always wanted an active hobby and I love the slow flow and quietness of yoga. Holy yoga is something I really think would be a great way to start. I started going to Holy Yoga classes here in Phoenix in August 2014 as well as practicing at home with a DVD. This has been a major part of my self-care goal, and I am excited to say I plan to stick with attending the classes!
  11. Start co-leading a small group with my hubby – We absolutely LOVE hosting people at our house and have always loved being with other couples. This is a goal we both have really desired for a while.
  12. Take a cooking class – I think this would be so fun! Anyone wanna join?
  13. Go somewhere I’ve never been before – We always vacation to California…don’t get me wrong, I love California. But I would love to go somewhere I have never been before this next summer comes.
  14. Once a month, write one “just because” card and mail it – Everyone loves mail! I’ve recently purchased a few cards from Target that were really nice and just cards for every day. I’d love to write cards to people to encourage them and love on them.
  15. Take a girl’s trip – I have always wanted to do this!! When I was 18, I took my first road trip without my parents with a couple of my girlfriends [one who is now my sister-in-law] and yet, I have never taken one since! I’d love to take a trip like that again.
  16. Take a trip alone – I went to the Influence Conference in 2013 and absolutely LOVED how refreshing it was to travel alone.
  17. Host a dinner party – Because this would be so fun! :) I hope to have my patio all decorated pretty before the cooler weather comes so we can actually enjoy it. Think string lights, picnic table, and pretty pretty plants. :)
  18. Make self care a priority – I’m not quite sure how I am going to achieve this…but I’d like to think that investing my time into the other 30 things listed here would be a start ;) But seriously, I think that I would love to have something I consistently do to pour back into myself. I started practicing Holy Yoga in August of 2014 as part of my self-care.
  19. Develop a habit of prayer – This one is super important to me. I don’t want to only be praying in desperation every day, but I also want to develop the habit of praying for others and for myself and my family – again, not in desperation [i.e. "God, please make my son stop throwing a fit!!!] but more for things that I’m seeking an answer to. I have this awesome prayer journal that every month you write in things you’d like to pray for. In August, I filled that thing up, but opened it to pray only a handful of times. I’d like to change that.
  20. Make more friends – I’d really like to have some more friends. I mean, this is always a good thing, right?
  21. Cook a turkey – This is intimidating to me. REALLY. But I’ve never made the Thanksgiving turkey before, and I’d like to learn.
  22. Go and actually cut down our Christmas tree – I’ve always thought this would be lovely, but here in Arizona, you have to have a permit to do this. Luckily, they only cost $15 but are first come-first served, so I hope this one gets checked off because we actually got to do it!
  23. Complete one full workout program – I tried Slim in 6, didn’t finish it. I did about two months of P90X and didn’t finish it. I started Jillian Micheal’s 30 Day Shred and, you guessed it, didn’t finish it. So I hope to finish one program in my 29th year. I started 21 Day Fix in the beginning of September and finished!!
  24. Bring more intentional with my kids by doing things they like – This will include scripture memorization and baking with Jael and playing Play Dough or outside with Elijah…of course, there are so many more things they love, but I want to be more intentional about doing things they individually love too.
  25. Join a book club – This sounds like so much fun, so if any of you are part of one, want to start one, or know of a good one, please let me know in the comments below!
  26. Replace my husband’s truck – This one might be a bit difficult, but its on it’s last leg for sure, and I’d love to bless him with a new one.
  27. Register and plan to go through the Gottman Level Two training – This one you may not quite get, but its basically a training for therapists who work with couples. It will be in Las Vegas in November 2014, so I’d like to at least be planning for it by the time I am approaching my birthday. My MFT friend and I have been planning the Level 2 Training in Las Vegas next year, but I’d love to attend the Chicago one too! So the planning has sort of started. :)
  28. Visit [lunch, dinner, play group, etc.] one blog friend – I don’t know who because I have a couple that are close by or within driving distance, but I think this would be really fun.
  29. Mail a family Christmas card - I’ve always wanted to do this. I think Christmas cards are so fun!
  30. Paint and DIY my living room end tables and coffee table – I bought the end tables at a garage sale with the intention of painting them and adding glass tops as well as repainting my coffee table, so this would be nice to have done within the next year!

So there you go! Any tips, ideas, or comments about my list? I really hope its not like my past New Year’s resolutions…I really want to try and get these things done. These things are items that I feel would add to the joy and cheer of life, and I am excited! Let me know what you think below! Have you done a 30 before 30 list? I’d love to read it!

Mommy Diary // The Tears of the Beloved

I have to write this down while the memory is still fresh. The wound is still open. The pain is still throbbing deep in my chest and the knot at the back of my throat.

Tonight we decided that we were going to go for a walk after dinner to an ice cream shop at the end of our street. The deal was that the kids would each eat their bites of dinner and if they did, they would get an ice cream. We usually do bites in number of how many years each child is. So for Jael, four bites of each food; for Elijah, two bites of each food. Jael ate all her bites [with a tiny little fight at the end], but Elijah refused. He cried, he acted stubborn, he punched bites of food of the fork, he simply would not budge. We tried compromising to one bite of each food…and to be completely transparent, at the end, we even tried getting him to eat just one bite of carrot and one bite of mashed potatoes and then he could have an ice cream. He could forego the two bite rule and could even skip the chicken. We simply just wanted him to eat.

He ate one bite of mashed potatoes and spit out a pile of chewed up carrot.

So we stuck to our guns. No ice cream for Elijah.

On our walk, he and Jael chit chatted about the trees, the airplanes, and we strolled nicely through the neighborhood. We got to the ice cream shop and ordered ice cream. Jael got double chocolate, Joseph got peanut butter and oreo, and I got the tastiest float I’ve ever had in my life: Oh My! Affogato, a delicious combination of Vietnamese Coffee ice cream, espresso, and Mexican Coke. When Elijah asked for ice cream, we calmy and gently told him he could not have dessert because he didn’t finish his dinner. He said, “Awww!” but we had no further fight.

It was when we took our treats outside that Elijah suddenly came to the realization that he did not have a cup.

“Where’s my strawberry?!?! WHERE’S MY STRAWBERRY?!?!”

He sobbed big, giant crocodile tears. He didn’t understand. He didn’t like the consequence. So I put my float in the stroller cup holder and he and I left Joseph and Jael at the shop. We walked a little ways down the road, and I stopped and crouched down by his stroller so we were eye to eye. He sobbed and sobbed. He made the most heart breaking, chin quivering faces I’ve ever seen. He was quite literally heart broken.

I tried to calm him. I shushed gently. I stroked his sweet face. I pet his sweaty hair. “I know, bud. I’m so sorry. This is the consequence.” And then I began to cry. I couldn’t hold it in. My heart was breaking at the genuine pain of my son. I know, it was just ice cream. But if you could have seen his face.

Oh his face.

And I just sat with him. In his hurt and lack of understanding. While he cried. And I attempted to bear the crushing feeling of witnessing my son in pain. He eventually calmed down. He started talking about the airplanes. Joseph and Jael met with us and we started the walk home. And I prayed, asking the Lord what I could have done better during dinner. How I could have better handled the situation. I begged the Lord to show me how to be a better parent.

And I heard him gently whisper, “This is how I feel when you are in pain from the consequences of sin.” And I realized there wasn’t anything better I could have done. Nothing I should have done. That sometimes as parents we simply have to witness our children bear the pain of the consequences of sin.

And that is what the Lord did for us. He sent Jesus and had to bear the pain of his son dying on a cross. Every day, he has to witness his children bearing the pain of sin. Bearing the pain of consequences. Bearing the pain of others’ sin. I witnessed tonight a small fraction of what pain he experiences when we go through the same thing.

I don’t have a take away from this. Just a mama pouring out her heart for her boy. Before Joseph and Jael joined us, in the quiet while Elijah and I stared up at the airplanes in the sky, I heard his little voice, “I sorry, mama. I sorry for screaming and yelling.” And those few words made me also realize the joy of repentance.

our week in pictures

I thought that I would hop on today and share our week in Instagram picutres…I really love it over there. Connecting with people while also getting a peek into their lives, where they live, what they do, is so neat! I love being a part of the community there, so come on over and visit. :)

my week in instagrams

Last weekend, my husband and I kept it nice and hot by taking a trip to Home Depot for stuff to do our yard. Yeah…I know, be jealous. ;) // I also posted a teaser about an essential oil DIY I ended up posting over at the simple oil – DIY Hair Product! My husband really liked it, so it was a win. // I discovered a new found love for baths after the kids are down for the night. With my lavender bath salts and a good book, I am in heaven.

my week in instagrams

This week, I started 21 Day Fix which is a program by Beachbody. I am part of a little bootcamp group where we encourage one another and keep each other accountable. I have enjoyed it but have to be reminded of that fact in the minutes before starting the day’s workout. ;) But I have been happy to put some Young Living Lemon oil in my water to aid in the detox process while I attempt to get healthier. // I posted on the simple oil Instagram account another DIY I am planning. Can you guess what it is? // With the 21 Day Fix, I am eating a specific meal plan, so I was super excited when I found this Paleo Banana Chocolate Smoothie on Pinterest. YUM! It was seriously the best smoothie I’ve ever had.

my week in instagrams

I also found several inspirational moments this week…but one in particular was getting to interview a gal that I truly admire for her spiritual leadership. In her interview, I was inspired in so many ways, but mostly in the area of community. I crave it. When she said, “I believe women who just ingest God and keep Him private have a hard time having passionate spiritual practices, so I think replicating – passing on what you know/learn/feel – is HUGE,” I was taken aback by how deeply I was craving this kind of community with other women. So this is now on my prayer list. :) // I found this quote by Lysa Terkeurst to be thought provoking. Still simmering on this one. // Lastly, I posted this morning about wanting to wear yoga pants but also finding fun in getting dressed. Honestly, doing the 21 Day Fix has kept me accountable to shower daily! Because no one likes a drippy, stinky mama. Ew.

So there you have it! I hope your weekend is full of rest, recharge, inspiration, encouragement, and knowing you are deeply loved by the Creator of the Universe. xoxo

Keeping Your Bucket Full

Keeping Your Bucket Full

I am a highly sensitive person. Emotions are at the surface, my brain processes very quickly (too quickly sometimes, which equals over-thinking), and I feel deeply. I love this part about myself, but it has taken some time to learn to love my sensitivity. When you’re told often that you’re “too emotional” or “don’t be so sensitive,” it can really become something you’re embarrassed by…or even ashamed of. Over the years, I have learned though that this part of me is just a part of how God has shaped and crafted me to be uniquely me. I have come to understand myself as an introvert and the ways I need to fill up in order to remain a good mom, wife, and friend. Have you figured out how you need to be filled up? Because we all need filling…only so much can be poured out before the needle is on E.

Keeping Your Bucket Full

1. Spend time with the Lord.

I won’t deny that this is a difficult thing for us to do. Whether you’re working 40+ hours a week, caring for a family, running a business, or even if you don’t have a busy life. It seems that spending time in prayer and in the Word is just too easy to let slide. I read a quote by Francis Chan that was really painful to read but so true. He said, “The irony is that while God doesn’t need us but still wants us, we desperately need God but don’t really want Him most of the time.” It is the human condition. We are independent and willful creatures who stiff arm the one who crafted us when He is the one we most desperately need to fill us up.

Another thing I need to remember to do is to be in prayer. Offering up a silent prayer every single minute for the things I am facing keeps me in communion with the Lord. It helps me to stay mindful that He is with me and to ask His help in moments of need, praise Him in moments of blessing (three hour nap, anyone?), and ask Him for direction in my day.

2. Do something you love.

I know everyone and their mom and their mom’s uncle’s neighbor’s dog walker has written about this, but maybe its because its true!! So many times I find myself feeling refreshed and empowered to tackle the tough to-dos when I’ve spent an hour doing something I love doing. For me that is reading a good book, surfing through new recipes, or studying for school [yes, I am a dork], it fills me up. This isn’t just because its refreshing, but it is also because I am investing in me. I am taking a moment to practice my own worth. Did you know it brings the Lord JOY when you are enjoying His creation? Why did he gift authors with words or photographers with an eye for beauty or chefs with the ability to mix flavors? Because our enjoyment in His creation brings Him glory. Our enjoyment in the beauty He spoke into being fills our spirits to a refreshing overflow.

3. Get outside.

As a person who lives in Arizona, I have no lack of readily available sunshine. Although we have soaring temperatures that make me want to bury myself miles underground, the benefits of getting outside are more than just recreational enjoyment. You may not be an outdoor person [I was camping-phobic for years because I didn't like getting dirty. :P Now, I am a mom. Enough said.], but getting outside has benefits just from sun exposure. It can boost your serotonin and endorphin levels as well as your immune system. When I was sick over the winter, I would go stand outside for a few minutes each evening and it helped me to feel a little better each time.

4. Eat and eat right.

If you are unaware…listen closely…food can affect your mood dramatically. I’ve learned this simply from eating gluten free for the past three years. Food can make you feel grumpy, sad, irritable, and depressed. Just last week I had a meal that I thought was gluten free [I had eaten it before and it was marked gluten-free at the restaurant], but it turned out to be contaminated. For the next two days, I felt like I hated the world. I was depressed, snippy, mean, and irritable. I snapped at my husband and kids more times than I care to admit.

Also, for me as a mom, my diet consists of coffee and dinner most days. Not good. I drink coffee and wrangle monkeys [while I try and get homework done!] until 3:00 or so when I realize I didn’t eat and then think, “Well, dinner is soon…” and just have a snack and then dinner. If I am not…and if you are not…feeding your body nutrients, you are going to be tired and run down. So eat! Eat!

5. Be mindful.

Okay, so this one may seem a bit wonky, but hear me out. In being a highly sensitive person, I am painfully aware of each emotion I am feeling. Sometimes, I am unable to identify them, but I know I am feeling and I am feeling deeply. One way I handle this is by being mindful. It isn’t easy and takes practice, but it simply takes sitting (or at least stopping what you’re doing), taking a deep breath, and identifying how you’re feeling. Be mindful (which is also known as being present) of where your tension lies. In your neck? Back? Face? Relax those places. Allow yourself to identify exactly how you are feeling. Explore those feelings. Discover the underlying reason. Feeling tension in my neck and face because I am feeling stressed in the moment…why am I feeling stressed? Because the kids are fighting over who gets to open the fridge (literally just happened right now). How can I alleviate this or at least make it manageable? Take a deep breath, offer a compromise, give hugs, and pray for peace.

I would encourage you to try these things. Really do them. And see if they help you to feel refreshed. Most days, I am running on empty, so doing extra makes me want to kick and scream…but remembering these five things helps me tremendously in my pursuit of peace in my home. xo