Cultivating Thankfulness

This week, I shared my word of the year. One of the ways I want to infuse delight into my life is by digging into the Word more. I know in times that I am keeping my focus on the Lord, I feel lighter and have much more joy. But within digging into the Word, I was confused where to start. I’m wondering if you’ve ever felt the same? I feel like its an epidemic…most women I know have a hard time knowing just how to study the bible. Many of us rely on the studies of others to keep us in the Word, which is no problem at all (I love me a She Reads Truth study!!), but there is value in knowing how to study the bible yourself as well.

Thankfulness

I’ve been reading Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin, and its ROCKING my WORLD. Its showing me how to slowly dig into the Bible and allow myself the space to try and figure it out. To try and listen for the Holy Spirit’s leading. Its been really wonderful. I started Isaiah this past week and its been really interesting working through it a couple chapters at a time.

I also have been inspired to start working on reorienting my heart towards delight. So, daily at the end of my study, I have been writing three things down. What I am:

  • Thankful for…
  • Praying for…
  • Prayers answered…

I have been inspired by things like 1000 Gifts, the prayer journal by ValMarie Paper, and a wise woman that I have known for a long time telling me not to just document in my journal the things I am praying for but to remember to document the prayers the Lord answers.

By making notice to the wonderful things in my life and writing these things down, I am learning to focus not on the negative, but on the blessings. I hope to maybe one day make a printable with these three things or maybe a small stapled notebook, but for now, I add it to my journal.

Tell me, what are some things you do to reorient your heart towards joy?

An Attitude of DELIGHT

I haven’t written about this yet because…well to be honest, I haven’t been doing a great job at it 20 days into the year, so I felt hypocritical to share. I know its dumb…we’re all hypocrites at some points… It isn’t easy admitting shortcomings, but hey…vulnerability is valuable.

I don’t delight. Really in very much. I’ve struggled with negativity a lot since becoming a mother about five years ago. With my daughter, I had lots of times where I didn’t know how to manage my own emotions. I felt frustrated that I wasn’t getting sleep. I felt very angry when she would cry all night. I would get impatient when she wouldn’t fall asleep for naps or eat the food I gave her. But she was a happy baby (and is a joyful and cheerful little girl!) and I only struggled in the moments that I didn’t know how to manage how I was feeling.

Fast forward two years, and my son is born. If I thought Jael was hard (which she wasn’t, she was normal), Elijah called my bet, raised me constant spitting up, tummy troubles, and a hundred times more crying. He gave me a run for my money. At night, I found myself sitting on a bouncy ball, sweating profusely, “shh-shh-ing” as loud as I could, praying to the heavens that he would fall asleep without upchucking his entire night bottle all over me and the already crusted carpet. He required much more food and feedings than Jael, wanted me to hold him more, and overall was much harder. Especially with a two year old who decided she didn’t want to nap anymore and adjusted to a new baby, well, like a two year old.

In processing life with two kids, I can honestly say that we’ve been in a crazy, tough, hard season since Elijah was born. But it has also been wonderful, fun, full of laughter and giggles, inspiring, and fulfilling season as well. But its been hard for me to see it. Call it pessimistic. Call it lazy. I may be letting myself get overwhelmed with emotions. Whatever it is…I’m hoping to make a stop to it this year.

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[art via Abigail and Whimsy on Etsy]

For 2014, I chose “simplify” as my word for the year. And boy did that happen! I made a decision to close my design business, moved into a simpler home, and changed my blog direction, among other things. I also chose to do a “30 before 30” list to bring more fun into my life and do things that I really always wanted to do.

For 2015, I have chosen the word: DELIGHT. I want to be intentional about choosing joy this year and delighting in my life. Just the past couple of days, I have gone outside every day with the kids and let them loose to play. How crazy am I that I didn’t do that much before?? I’ve been trying to be more attentive. Trying to laugh and smile more. My mom used to tell me, “Smile and the feelings will follow.” And y’all, its true.

And while life is still super crazy busy right now, I am learning that even when life is busy, the moments can be slowed down.

[Tweet “Even when life is busy, the moments can be slowed down.”]

So I have a mega long to-do list…I’m sitting outside in the sunshine reading for school (to-do) and watching my kids play and run around giggling. The moment is slow and yet I’m able to still do what I need to do. You see? Things like this have been helping me to really see the DELIGHT in my every day. I pray that this year’s word of the year is as successful as last year was. I pray the Lord invades my heart and permeates it with JOY. Won’t you join me? Let’s learn to love and delight in life like never before. It may change everything. xo

Forging Forward

better-ahead

The new year always brings the feeling of a fresh start. Everyone all over social media posts about their resolutions, feelings for the new year, sentiment for leaving the last behind, and everyone takes a much needed deep breath as the clock folds over like the cover of a fresh new journal that has 365 blank pages to fill.

I like the new year. Even though I’m not much for specific and strict resolutions, I tend to make some decisions to determine my heart for the upcoming year. It feels fresh, new, bright. However, right now, as I sit in my messy, kid-bombed living room, sniffling and trying to breathe from a cold, I can’t help but feel a smidge overwhelmed. When I think of 2015, I am filled with day-before-school excitement. This year is going to be wonderful, hard, messy, busy, exciting, and full of passion and dreams. But my mind also starts rapidly flipping through all the things that would be scribbled on this year’s to-do list: practicum for school, finding childcare for the kids while I do it, Jael turns FIVE, I turn THIRTY, trainings scheduled, Jael starts kindergarten…there are so many beautiful and scary milestones for this year.

I am ready and willing to set my feet and forge forward. But even though determination is the fuel for my feet, my mind and heart go along as hesitant travel companions. They are filled with doubts. They are filled with fears. They are filled with the hesitancies of a person who doesn’t 100% believe in herself. I’ve posted a couple times in the past few days about how I am feeling this way. Many of you echoed the same sentiment, many offered encouragements.

So as I sit here, considering the year, considering all your kind words, and thinking of all you women [and maybe men] out there feeling much like I am…the pull of excitement and drag of fear…I think about how we make a huge mistake when looking forward to the future all the time. Yes, it is good to make plans, budget, and dream. Do all those things in earnest.

But let’s not allow the dreams and hopes of what this year could be corrode the day-to-day that we live now. Let’s press onward for the prize to which we are called, yes. But let us also take each day at a time. Let those goals, hopes, and aspirations fragment into tiny bite-size pieces…you know the saying, “When eating an elephant, take one bite at a time.” We don’t need to take the year as whole and freak out how we’re going to do it all. A book is written page by page. So let each day be the one page you focus on, pick up a pen, and start. xo

Therapy & X-Men

This past week, my husband and I watched X-Men: Days of Future Past. I’m not really a superhero or comic book movie type girl. I mean, I’ll see them and most likely enjoy them, but I’m not first in line when they come out. [Who are we kidding, I barely ever go to the movies anymore…I’m not first in line for anything. lol] When it comes to the X-Men movies though, I really do love watching them. My favorite character is Charles Xavier, the professor. He’s just so calm and wise. And often says something that changes the thinking [and inevitably the life] of others. ;)

When we watched Days of Future past, there was a scene where Charles is speaking to himself [I don’t want to say much more because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t seen it], and I was almost in tears over the following quote:

It’s not their pain you’re afraid of. It’s yours, Charles. And as frightening as it can be, that pain will make you stronger. If you allow yourself to feel it, embrace it, it will make you more powerful than you ever imagined. It’s the greatest gift we have: to bear their pain without breaking. And it comes from the most human part of us: hope.

So much of what we do as therapists is utterly terrifying. Walking through someone’s rape experience, divorce, abandonment with them is agonizing. Pain is uncomfortable and often Americans shy away from it. Its painful for us to endure the tears, anger, grief, loss of another without it tearing our insides to shreds. We avoid conflict, vulnerability, and honesty because of the feelings it elicits.

But being a therapist is exactly like what Charles is speaking of. Being a compassionate human is exactly what Charles is speaking of. We need to let the pain of our clients, friends, family, others… empower us to help them. We need to embrace and feel their pain in order to let it move the deepest parts of us. Move us to tears, move us to compassion, move us to action. When we experience someone else’s world, we are able to move out of ourselves. We are able to see a side of the earth that we’ve never experienced. And if the Lord chooses to use us, we can offer them something that they cannot see: HOPE.

No one ever said that being compassionate for someone else meant agreeing with them. But the Bible does say to bear one another’s burdens. And that is one of the greatest gifts we can give one another. Christ did that for us long before we ever said yes to him. He bore our burdens and gave us hope. Now we are given the gift of doing so for one another.

PASSION

This weekend, we had a guest speaker at church who has planted several churches here in Phoenix. I have a friend whose hubby is a worship pastor at one of the churches and so many friends who attend different campuses throughout the valley. This man knows how to train leaders and equip them for the gospel. I love it.

One thing he said that resonated with me was that if you’re working in the area of your spiritual gifts, it will be something that tires you to the bone by the end of the day, but its a good tired. That it will be something that you love. That it will not be drudgery and it will be such a blessing to your life.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how incredibly blessed I am to be pursuing my masters degree in marriage and family therapy. If you had asked me two or more years ago (heck, even months before I started the program) that I would be thriving in my program, more passionate than ever about helping people, and actively pursuing a career as a therapist sooner than I thought, I would have laughed at you and said, “That would be awesome, but its not likely.

And now, here I sit, getting ready to finish up my second fall term, about to enter into a busy holiday season enjoying my life and family, and jumping right into winter term with both feet, mind, and heart. With excitement. With passion. With determination. With focus.

One thing I’ve been so terrified of is being incompetent in sessions with clients and it being obvious. There’s nothing worse than knowing you don’t know what you’re doing and someone else knowing you don’t know what you’re doing too. [Did anyone just think of the Friends episode where Ross made the list of Rachel’s faults and she said, “Imagine the worst things you think about yourself. Now how would you feel if the one person that you trusted the most in the world…thinks them too…” = my fear!]

I’ve just been so in my head during practice sessions that I am missing on joining with my clients and connecting with them. Have you ever been in a conversation with someone and you’re thinking about something they said or what you’re going to say next that you actually miss connecting with them at all [or at least for a moment]? Me. That’s so me. I do this in every day conversation, but in a moment where someone else is relying on your for help with their problems, it can make matters much worse!

This last week something clicked for me. I didn’t suddenly have a major breakthrough and am the best therapist ever. But I did have a small breakthrough. The client was explaining [Don’t worry, its a fake client. I would never write about real clients.] how something affected them in regards to how their childhood and their current marital struggle were connected. I seriously got emotional. Like tears at the ready. What this client was saying resonated with me deeply and brought a sense of connection for me. I could feel the emotion in my body, I could recall why this resonated with me, and I could feel those familiar emotions the client was describing. It helped me to be present in the session. It pulled me out of my head and down into empathy…into my heart.

And it reminded me that I am capable. I know that an emotional connection can do a lot, and in this instance, I was able to see that my natural giftings to listen, be empathetic, and welcoming are spiritual gifts that can free me up to move forward in my call. I am so incredibly passionate about meeting people where they are and giving them the opportunity to share their story.

Has anyone ever asked you yours? I think every human should have the freedom to share their story and be heard. I know for me, simply sharing my story, testimony, or even a summary of a small season of my life is so therapeutic and freeing. That is my passion. To allow people to share their life with me and to overcome in areas they wish to overcome. What about you? Have you ever been given the freedom of telling your story?

Catching Myself

This week, I participated in Lysa Terkeurst’s Praying Boldly for Your Marriage challenge. One day, I was reading the email that she sent out, and my eyes were opened. But first, I have a little bit o’ back story. ;)

Pray Marriage Challenge

Many moons ago, I was a young married gal. Full of life, free, and loving the season I was in. I had setbacks in our first year of marriage, of course, but my outlook on life was still greatly influenced by the care free attitude of my teenage years (I married the month before I turned 21). I smiled, was often told I was a kind and cheerful person, and I felt it. Fast forward eight years, two kids, and several life changes later, and I am a different person.

With your twenties comes a lot of decision making. There are tons of transitions and this decade can feel a lot like being lost. A lot like being unsettled. This is a whole other blog post in itself, but with all of life’s turns and the changes our bodies and minds make over the years, I’ve suddenly found myself in a place where I don’t want to be. I am much less patient than I used to be. To the outside world, I may still appear kind [although with a cup of snark thrown in here and there], but to those closest to me, I am far from kind.

It hurts to write that because the deepest longings of my heart are to be kind, generous, and refreshing. A woman radiating Jesus. If nothing else in this world, I want to be known for that. But so often I find myself in the opposite place. Snappy. Greedy or full of worry. And draining. At least that is what I feel like after thinking about the day and all the things I could have done better.

I shouldn’t have yelled at the kids for running around the house.

I should be a better wife and not demand so much from my husband when he gets home from work.

I should be more patient and loving towards my family.

I should’ve…I wish I had…I can do that better…

And instead of turning where I should [uh, the Lord] for encouragement, I beat myself up further, swear I’ll try better the next day, and drift off to sleep…only to be woken by a whispering four year old who is standing inches from my face at 4:30am needing to be re-tucked into bed.

Oh, the joys.

So often I am running on so little steam, that I quite literally just react. Anger. Impatience. Frustration. It all comes pouring out of my mouth and heart and leaves me feeling like a terrible wife and mother. The wake of it like a thousand thirty foot waves beating against my heart telling me I am not enough. When will you EVER measure up, Erin? You say you’ll do better, but you wont. We both know you wont.

And I believed it. I believed those lies. So I just promised myself to strive harder the next day, all the while failing because I was relying on my own strength. When I saw Lysa’s challenge, honestly, I decided to do it not because I wanted to hear from the Lord, but because I thought, “Hey, this will be something to get me on the right track! Another thing I can do to make things better.” When I read one of Lysa’s emails, something she said jumped straight out of the page into my spirit and lit a little flame.

Is this an irritation or an issue?
There is a big difference between an irritation and an issue. Identifying the difference helps me pick my battles. If this is just an irritation, maybe I need to practice being more flexible, patient or willing to extend grace.

While this may seem like a no-brainer for you…this was monumental for me. You see, I saw everything as an issue. I reacted with fury and irritation at every little or big thing because it threatens my idea of what my family should look like. Instead of considering that, um, little kids can be annoying and that is normal, I took it as a behavioral issue and determined every little moment to be a “teaching moment.” Instead of knowing that my husband isn’t going to be 100% ON all the time when he got home from work, I took it as a sign that he didn’t care for me and didn’t want to be around me, so I lashed back.

What an exhausting way to live, eh?

So what am I trying today? I’m trying to live the day through that filter…I’m trying to pause and think about how my reaction is reflecting my belief that the situation is either an irritation or issue and modifying if needed. The Lord used Lysa to show me that if I identify something as an irritation, that is my moment to practice patience. Kindness. Generosity. All those things I want so desperately to be.

This challenge has been nothing short of a blessing and refreshing pull back of the curtain for me. It has reminded me that I am human, but has also given me a practical way to watch my tongue and learn to bless my family. Speaking of which, in that same email, Lysa also talked about praying about versus praying for:

Am I praying about or for my husband?
If I do sense something that needs to change, I need to pray for my husband—not about him. Praying about him is just ranting. Praying for him means digging into God’s Word and praying scriptures specific to his struggles. That’s powerful! When we pray the WORD of God, we pray the WILL of God.

I loved this too because after I identify what the situation is, if it truly is an issue, I need to turn to the Word of God first. Not just turn to God and gossip about my husband [or kids, or family, or whatever it is], but I need to pray boldly with God’s Word over that person’s life. That is love. Truly desiring the change for someone doesn’t mean beating them over the head with it. It means praying fervently for the Lord to take hold of their heart. I can also know that I need to do that for myself. Instead of simply praying for all my wants, I need to go to God’s Word, see what it says, and pray through that.

I’m incredibly grateful for eye opening moments like this. Can you relate?

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.

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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.

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

When Pursuing Simplicity Makes Things Harder

I was walking the aisles of Target…this is something I do often with two young children at home. [And all the moms collectively said, “YES!“] I’m a sucker for Target clearance. There is usually something I just must have on clearance. I think I have 14 empty journals because of this. But you know, who knows when I might have a writer’s inspiration and fill them all at once. You never know.

Anyway, I found this platter I wanted. It wasn’t on sale, but I loved it. I may need this for entertaining purposes. In my basket it went. Oh look, cloth napkins! I could save paper because they’re reusable! Tossed in the basket. Well, of course, the kids need new plastic straw cups. Look, this one has a dog with a crown on…oh! and that one has an airplane with a spike collar leash…obvs I need these. In the cart they went. And then the kids started whining they were hungry. So some Goldfish joined the spike collared airplane, along with some chips and a new book for me. And look! Kids summer clothing is on clearance! Lets buy three shirts and shorts for each kid because, lets be honest, I live in Arizona, so summer clothes are more like year round clothes. Valid investment.

And the basket gets filled with things I need, and I end up spending $124.89 on a bunch of stuff and my husband shakes his head in wonder at how I justify it all.

Sound familiar?

As I have been journeying towards a simpler life and what that looks like for me, these shopping trips have started to look different for me. More noble, you ask? Sloughing off the old consumer me and cheerfully putting on the new, more appreciative me? Nope. It can all be summed up in one word.

Painful.

You see, the ugly, Ineedallthethings me rears its ugly head and I stomp my hypothetical foot and whine that, “Why is something so good so hard?” I’ve wondered a lot in the past week or so: why is living simple feel not so simple?

I love doing dishes. I know, I’m weird. But the standing and doing one thing [you can’t really multitask when you’re up to your elbows in warm water and rainbow suds] is relaxing for me.  I enjoy it. Well, when we moved into our house in the city, I embraced the clothesline-instead-of-the-dryer, dishwasher-less, no garbage disposal, smaller square footage lifestyle. I craved it. But when we got here, after the honeymoon phase wore off… [Look honey! I’ve hung 86 loads of laundry on the line and its AMAZING!] …I started to resent having to do dishes 2-3 times a day. I started to avoid them.

And then today, I had another “zoom-in” moment. Going from having allthethings to actively pursuing less is hard. I realized that intentionally working to change your beliefs about something takes effort. Time. And often times is can be painful. Giving up stuff is usually painful. Pruning a bush is painful. You have to get rid of a lot of extra in order for it to thrive and produce even more stunning blooms.

And that’s us. You and me. Looking to make changes in your life for the better can often make things harder for a while. Is it worth it? Absolutely. But anything worth doing is going to often take more sacrifice, effort, and time. But the investment often yields more joy and peace.

So, just remind me of this when I am crying crocodile tears in the aisles of Target because I can’t buy another candle. It ain’t easy, y’all, but its so worth the journey.

When You Have Nothing To Say

When you have nothing to say

You don’t say anything. And then you don’t worry about not saying anything. Sometimes silence is okay. Sometimes you’ll have moments where you have a lot to say and sometimes you’ll have moments where you listen to what others have to say.

And its okay.