Steep

steep

The words raced through my mind like stock stats in a marquee — fast and nonsensical. I rattled off anxious prayers to the Lord about my heart’s fears and desires. Nothing was coming out right. I found myself saying, “That sounded impatient…that’s not really what I meant,” or “I sound like a bratty child.” My pleas and words were coming out faster than I could think them and weren’t communicating the deepest parts of my heart. That’s what anxiety does, it butters everything up slick so its hard to grasp and slips out fast.

In a last ditch effort, I asked the Lord to speak to me in the Holy Yoga session I was driving to. I begged him to meet me, to show me himself, and my anxious heart pleaded for peace. I rushed into my yoga class a few minutes late and when I walked in, the instructor’s words wafted to me like a sweet aroma. God doesn’t waste time.

The words coming out of her mouth as I set up my mat were, “He who began a good work in You will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” [Phil 1:6]

Doubt tapped at the door to my heart and whispered, “That’s not God. He wouldn’t speak to you this quickly. Or at all, frankly.”

But the smile on my face pushed that gremlin away. I knew. I knew.

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Last week, I started Hebrews with IF:EQUIP. [You should join us.] I know the value of being in the Word consistently. To be honest, while it doesn’t make all my days glittery and sweet, it sets my heart in a posture of focus. Focused on the Lord. Focused on how I represent Him to the people around me, my friends, my husband, my kids.

And to be even more honest, reading the Word is the first thing to go when my to-do list gets long, my heart gets anxious, and I find myself busy with everything else. I may think that spending a few minutes in the Word in the morning [or in the quiet of lunchtime when the kids’ mouths are full] isn’t worth it because its not deep study…but as I take those few minutes here and there to soak my heart in scripture, its as if I am recalibrating myself.

I’m resetting my heart and in turn, I do believe God comes in and provides the peace and joy I need to take on that day. He makes me sensitive. He makes me aware.

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I was in child’s pose. The instructor was speaking blessing over us, speaking verses over us that cracked my core. You are not forgotten. God hears you. Those dreams he has dropped in your heart, he remembers them.

And the message I kept hearing was he hasn’t forgotten you. He hasn’t forgotten you. He hasn’t forgotten you.

The tears began to fall. Child’s pose is so vulnerable. Its a posture of worship but also one of surrender. I even tried to regain my composure…but nope. The tears were streaming and wouldn’t stop. The instructor even came by and did some touch yoga and it burst something open in me. My mat was soaked.

I was a mess. Never have I been so thankful to be a mess.

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Those fretful prayers I rapid fired to God…he still heard them. They didn’t make sense to me, and I was afraid that I wasn’t correctly communicating what I wanted to say. But God knew. And he took not only my yoga session but the rest of my day to remind me over and over and over that he hasn’t forgotten me.

Like when Tizrah Magazine posted this on Facebook:

When God gives you a vision and darkness follows, wait. God will bring the vision He has given you to reality in your life if you will wait on His timing.
– Oswald Chambers

And the words in this Hillsong song:

prayerlikeincense

Friend, God hasn’t forgotten you. Don’t believe it when the enemy shouts it to you. Don’t let it in when the devil whispers it in your ear in the darkness of night. Don’t believe for one single second that you aren’t passionately and fiercely loved by the God who became dust to rescue your precious heart.

Need prayer? Please comment below [or email me], and I’d love to lift you up, sister. xo

When your faith shifts // Book Review

Two years ago this fall, I started grad school. Full of excitement, eagerness, and passion, I began, knowing that this experience at seminary would likely change me. Boy, was I not aware of the magnitude of that thought. Not only was it likely, but it completely changed me. My faith was challenged, I started learning new things that I had never considered before, and the stereotypical view of theology professors at seminary (that their one goal is to rip your theology apart) felt very real.

Luckily, my theology professor didn’t rip my faith apart and leave me there. He challenged me, pushed me to think for myself, and in turn, guided me through the questions I had of my faith. I have about a year left to go, I no longer feel afraid to learn something I think I know isn’t completely true. I welcome what King David prayed in the Psalm 139:23-24:

Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting.

I don’t want to live life without changing. I want my faith to be a living, breathing thing in me – pitching and rolling, growing and stretching – something I am okay with learning about and not backing away from growth in fear.

Faith Shift book reveiw

Recently, I was able to review a book called Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart. Now I certainly didn’t believe my world was falling apart; I didn’t have the feeling that my faith was a lie. Not at all. But what seminary has done for me is open my eyes to the possibility that I don’t have it right. It has allowed me permission to ask tough questions. I love how Kathy Escobar, the author of Faith Shift, tells a story in the beginning of the book about a friend who admits, with shame on her face, that she is unsure about her faith. Here is what Kathy says,

I didn’t waste time trying to convince her that everything was going to be okay, even though I knew it would. I didn’t try to sell the Refuge [her church] as a place that could hold her evolving faith, even though I believed it could. I didn’t try to tell her God was far bigger than the boxes we were taught he lived in, even though I wanted to tell her story after story of people who were discovering freedom they have never known before in their faith. The best I could do in that moment was tell her what I always say when someone’s faith starts to unravel: “You’re not crazy, and you’re not alone.”

Kathy shares the pain of feeling lost in her faith. She understands. Isn’t that what we all need when asking the tough questions? Not a pat answer and a hug, but someone who says, “Whew. I get that. I’m with you. Lets do this together.”

She goes on in the book to explain her Faith Shift model, what she believes is a road map for what people go through when asking hard questions of their belief system. I won’t spoil it for you, but if you’re in this place, a place of shifting, I recommend this book as a hand to hold while walking that scary path.

I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review. I hope you hear my honesty and know that I would never give a false review. I only desire good things for you guys! :)

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?

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?

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.

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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.

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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

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.

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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