His Strength in Our Weakness

Ah, social media.

What a marvelous tool we have at our fingertips to keep in touch with loved ones!  It’s great to see what people are up to through social media, but are you getting the full picture?

We see what others want us to see. Some people are more transparent than others, and that’s OK.

I recently shared something with a friend that I’ve been going through and she was both brokenhearted for me and also completely shocked.

I have been diagnosed with moderate depression.

After feeling off for the past two years and trying everything to get myself back to feeling like myself again, all to no avail, I knew I had to get professional help. It took three doctors to get me to realize that there was something wrong chemically in my brain. They all concluded it was a mixture of post-partum depression, possibly situational depression, but nonetheless: it was happening to me. I never thought it would, and it did.

I always try to be a positive and upbeat person. A silver lining seeker, a glass half-full believer. After I had a baby, I never felt so alone and hopeless. This made ZERO sense to me in reality. I had the sense that my thinking and feelings were flawed, but I couldn’t shake them. I had the reality of a blessed life with my family, my sweet baby girl, and all God has given us. Yet I had this overwhelming sense of hopelessness I could not shake. I hated that I felt so down, I was ashamed of it.

I went through about a year of just barely going through the motions. I was chronically sleep deprived with Tessa that first year, and it was the hardest time of my entire life. I had no idea how much getting little sleep could negatively affect your life until I had a child who wouldn’t nap more than 20 minutes at a time or sleep longer at night than 1-2 hours every night for  the majority of her first 1.5 years. It actually was more physically and emotionally draining than any other trauma I’ve endured. I tried several different methods, read books, etc, to get her to sleep more and none of them worked except time. She’s a pretty good sleeper now, thank God, good routines, and Essential Oils. Thank God He makes babies so adorable because, man, that was rough! But I love her so much, even when we went through such a hard time together.

I always felt an inherent sense of gratefulness for Tessa, never blamed or resented her, I wanted to help her sleep because I bet she was just as miserable as I was, if not more! I am grateful my depression was not so bad and I still had somewhat of a grip on reality. Many women who suffer from post-partum depression have had it much worse than me, and my heart breaks for those families. I am so grateful to God for giving me what I could handle and seeing me through it. I am on the healing side of this now, however this is still very difficult to write.

When my friend was so surprised to hear about my struggles, it made me think about how I am perceived by others. Something that’s always been a part of my nature is to be stoic. I don’t hang on to the negative, so I usually don’t talk about it either. I accept things, grieve internally, move on, and truly don’t let things get to me. When I am upset, handling myself from a place of strength and poise has always been important to me. These are not inherently bad things, however I have found so much of God’s power in my weakness by sharing it with others. We are not called to be prideful and stoic, to suffer alone and live in darkness. Through talking more openly about my depression I have learned the value of bringing our struggles to light, and seeing them in the light of God’s truth through scripture and the encouragement of others.

I’ve been learning a lot about this lately and it’s caused me to feel compelled to be more transparent about my struggles. Obviously, I never mean to suggest people should air their family’s struggles online, out of respect for the family unit that is not always appropriate. However, my own personal struggle with depression is something God has called me to share. Keep in mind, sharing your struggles may look differently for different people, too. But I urge you, if you are struggling, talk to someone you trust about it. Seek help. Seek God! You can get better. You will get better if you truly want to!

I’ve gone through so much in the past few years, lots of change in general. I have learned that God has given us the ability to feel emotions, we need to let ourselves feel them and lean on Him to deal with them. So often, while trying to remain positive, I have suppressed real emotions! Life is not always going to be sunshine and roses. It’s going to get messy, and that is alright. It’s how you deal with the mess that counts! And guess what? God loves us anyway, despite the mess.

I am so grateful for my life and my precious daughter. I am thankful to God for all this blessing of a baby has taught me about His love, about life, and about myself. I have grown in ways I never had anticipated. Depression is just a short season of my life, a drop in the bucket. This isn’t going to define me or be the end of my story, and it doesn’t have to be the end of yours either.  I have so many fond memories of Tessa and me during those years. I don’t want to let my depression taint my memories of Tessa’s baby years. I so badly want to go back in time and soak them up a little more, though. Ah, life.

Find the things you love and pursue them with your whole heart. Seek Jesus. Seek true JOY in the Lord. Know that you are so loved by a God who gave it ALL for us, while we are sinners. Yes, I am talking to myself in all of this and sharing it because God did not call us to do this life alone.

God says in 2 Cor. 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” For this reason, among others, I’ve chosen to share my struggle. I am nothing in my own power without the Lord. This season of depression left me feeling weak, unworthy, unlovable, and hopeless. But God says His power is made PERFECT in our weakness. Out of this weakness, I am stronger because of the Lord, and good therapy! God will not waste any hurt or any negative experience, He will work it together for good. He comforts us and so we must comfort others. If you are hurting today, I would love to talk to you. Take heart in 2 Cor. 1 and know that you are SO loved and worthy of love. Again, talking to myself, too!

 

 

 

 

Ministry in Daily Life

A huge part of my heart behind Thriving on Grace is to share with people my journey with God, sharing how I am learning to thrive in His abundant Grace.

I struggle just like everyone else, deal with things that are unimaginable, just like everyone else, and try to take up my cross and walk in faith and light, just like everyone else. To be honest, some days feel like I am carrying my cross up hill with no end in sight.

But I started this blog to share my faith, open a dialog with other believers, and hopefully be an encouragement. Here’s what God has been teaching me lately about ministry.

In our world today there is so much suffering, and with round the clock news cycles and social media, it seems as though we all have a personal view of world wide problems. As Christians, many of us are called by God to go out into the world and be the hands and feet of Jesus. I am in absolute awe of people’s selflessness to get out of their comfort zone and set out to minister to those in need all over the globe in the name of Jesus.

But I want to bring light to something for a moment. Sometimes, with evangelizing, its easy to get wrapped up in big pictures, big ministry goals, and reaching as many people as possible.  God stirs a fire in me that burns so brightly that I want to sprint toward my goals and put blinders on everything else until I reach it. There have been times where I have been so focused on my current ministry outreach project that I have neglected to care as deeply for those directly around me. It’s easy to be overwhelmed and brokenhearted by the suffering of the poor in faraway lands and miss the opportunities to minister to those right in front of you.  I read the following teaching in Galatians and it encouraged me greatly to be more intentional with the people in my daily path.

“Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone – especially to those in the family of faith.” Galatians 6:8-10 NLT

I am, of course, in no way suggesting to not go out into the world, other countries, other cities, and faraway lands to preach the good news. What I am suggesting is we must not forget to live out our faith in our daily lives here at home. We must not forget to minister to those in our own family, family of faith, and church family. These verses begged these questions of myself:

  • Am I being the hands and feet of Christ to those who see me daily?
  • Am I being an example of Christ’s love to all I come in contact with?
  • Am I loving those in my family, community, church family well first?
  • How can I better serve my own family, loved ones, and community?

Invest in your surroundings, and bloom where you are planted. The bible teaches us that we will reap what we sow. Establish healthy roots around you and grow from there to extend your outreach. Our first ministry should be our relationship with God, then our relationships with our loved ones and community.

As a parent, my main ministry is making sure I am a healthy Godly mother to my daughter. I have big ambitions, big goals, and feel a tremendous call on my life from God. Yet in the season I am in right now, God is calling me to lay a foundation, be faithful in the current blessings I have been given, and focus on raising my child to know Jesus.

My encouragement to everyone is to not compare yourself with other Christians. Evaluate the position God has you in, evaluate the current needs around you and how you can meet them in the name of God. Everyone’s ministry may look different, and just because your current season may not have you doing ministry in the same way others are at the moment, does not mean you aren’t a valuable asset of your family of faith. We all have our own set of skills, spiritual gifts, and calls on our lives from God. He created us distinctly different on purpose! Evaluate the gifts God has blessed you with and use them for the glory of God. It will be so life giving and fulfilling to you, and pleasing to God!

Not sure you are capable or qualified to minister to others? If you seek Jesus with a whole heart, He will equip you and meet you there. God can use ANYONE for His glory, all it takes is a willing heart and faith in Jesus. Through Jesus, we all have access to God’s power to do wonderful things for God and through God. 2 Corinthians 12:9 tells us that God’s power works best in weakness! I know this first hand to be true because I am WEAK without Jesus, I have crumbled under the pressure of trying to do life without Jesus as my focus.

Clinging to Jesus and accessing God’s power will sustain you in all situations. I am praying for all those reading this to step out in faith and love for Christ and make a positive difference in the position God has you in today. I am praying all these things for myself as well.

 

 

 

 

Plant-based Meal Planning for Beginners: 10 Easy Steps

When I first stared to transition my diet to being more plant based, I admit, I felt a little lost. It seemed daunting! I was so used to choosing a meat and a couple side dishes to go with it. But without meat, where do I even begin? Overtime I have found staple recipes that are easy to whip up and that my family loves. But cooking a whole foods, plant-based diet is sometimes more time consuming than the standard american diet because I’m often making more from scratch than I would have in the past.

I am about 6 years into my plant-based journey and recently started efficiently meal planning. I had never really found a successful way to meal plan before, and the way I have figured out how to do it now is much more efficient. Keep in mind, this is just one way to do it and this is what works best for me! There may be something totally different that works for you, and that’s OK! I love to meal plan Saturday, shop and prep Sunday, and begin Sunday night.

Here are the basics of how I meal plan for the week:

Step 1.  Clean out anything old and expired from your fridge

NO ONE likes a dirty fridge. Go through and toss anything expired, older than you remember, and get rid of junk! After that, give it a quick wipe down. I promise you that you’ll feel so good afterwards! Oh, and yes, I did say TOSS the junk! Even if said junk is good, toss it. Your health is more important! Here’s a list of common food additives to avoid if you need some inspiration:  Top 10 Food Additives to Avoid

Step 2. Take inventory and organize your fridge 

I have found that I am so much more willing to prep food for the week and store it in the fridge if my fridge is clean and ready to go. In the past, I found that a disorganized fridge was really frustrating to maneuver throughout the week. However, a clean and organized fridge is so much more inviting and once you have shopped and prepped your food, it’s fun to put it in your fresh fridge! Think that’s loony tunes? Try it. Then come chat!

Step 3: Consult your calendar and figure out which days you’ll need to make dinner, which would be better for a leftovers night, and which you’ll eat out 

This was my area of downfall. I am a spontaneous (and ADD) mother who – is that a squirrel? – you get the point. Planning ahead and foresight are NOT my strong suits! I have to make an effort to make my life run even somewhat smoothly and for me a tangible way to do this is getting my calendar involved with the meal plan. This one is probably a “Duh” moment for most people, but there was a time I planned Lasagna for a night I had an outing to go to and instead I was left scrambling for something faster, so, I thought I’d better mention it. Now, I consult my calendar! For example: this coming week I have a bible study on Tuesday night, so Monday night I planned to make Lasagna! Lasagna is the perfect day before meal to make because the leftovers the next day are JUST as delicious. So the night of bible study I’ll just have to warm up some dinner and we’re good to go!

Step 4. Recipe choosing tips: Choose recipes revolving around what you already have, recipes that make sense, recipes that you can easily make extra of, and recipes that have shared ingredients  

This is something else that didn’t come naturally to me. I originally just started finding recipes that sounded good without taking much else into consideration. Now, I take inventory and see what main ingredients I have and go recipe hunting based off of that! This is a money saver to use what you already have. I also tend to try and make recipes that make good leftovers. We like to eat leftovers for lunches, and sometimes dinner the next night. It’s an easy way to make sure you’re eating well with doing less cooking.

Step 5. Adopt the “make it once, use it twice!” motto and have fun!

Another time saving trick I love to do is my “make it once, use it twice” motto. One example of how I do this is on my prepping day, I’ll make a salad dressing I can use throughout the week. Another way is my cashew cream sauce. I love cashew cream and I make so many things with it! I start by making cashew sour cream and I store it in the fridge. I use it as a topping for multiple meals, I add it to lentil noodles with almond milk & nutritional yeast for my toddler, I’ve added it to marinara to make creamy vodka sauce, and I’ve even made it into a cool ranch dip by adding herbs and garlic. Soak the nuts once, make the cream once, and use it twice (or more times)!

Step 6. Create a master grocery list of items you’re missing from each recipe

Go through the recipes one by one and write out which items you don’t have, take that to the store and you’ll have what you need for the week! I tend to write the groceries into categories of the store, so when I go to the store, I can be efficient and get all the produce, then dry good, etc and my list is more visually organized.

Step 7. Go grocery shopping

Go, go go! Don’t forget to have fun. You might be buying some brand new ingredients! Congratulations on taking this step to taking better control of your overall wellness.

Step 8. Come home and organize your fridge so during the week, things are easy to find. 

Unload and organize your fridge. Make it presentable, it doesn’t need to be rocket science, but having a good looking and highly functional fridge will be super helpful to your motivation & success throughout the week.

Step 9. Prep as much ahead of time as you can

I love to prep ahead of time. Look at your recipes and see if there are any veggies or fruit you could wash and store ahead of time. What would make your life easier in the long run? One thing I always try to prep are my greens. I have found that I am WAY more likely to eat more greens if they’re already washed and ready for me to eat. I love to wash my romaine lettuce and kale, dry in a salad spinner, and store in a freezer bag. I also do this with my cilantro! Did you know that cilantro is one of those herbs that goes bad in the blink of an eye? You can prolong it’s life by simply rinsing it thoroughly, wrapping in a paper towel, and sticking that inside a freezer bag in your fridge. Mine lasts up to two weeks this way beautifully.

Step 10. Set reminders for yourself if you need to do any day before prep

I am useless without lists and reminders. I have recently began utilizing alarms and reminders in my phone more often lately and I love it! I’ve become so much more efficient. Some ideas on how to use alarms and reminders to help your meal plan be a success would be: Look at your recipes, set alarms on your phone for each day to start cooking. How long will each recipe take you? Set an alarm for when you should start cooking based off of what time you want dinner on the table. Another recommendation, look at the recipes and make sure any day before prep is done and set an alarm for that if you need to! For example, some of my recipes call for soaking cashews ahead of time. I love to soak them overnight in the fridge to make super creamy sour cream! So I love to set an alert for the day before to make sure my cashews get soaked.

You can do this!! 

I know it might seem like a lot, but it’s pretty simple! A little planning ahead can make everything run so much more smoothly during the week. Also, I am sure that most of you aren’t nearly as scatter brained as I can tend to be so you may not need the reminders and alarms like I do, and that’s awesome!! Skip over those steps. This is to make your life easier, so do what works best for your family. If you’re just starting out, you can try this plan or another one and then adjust to your needs as time goes on. Either way, happy meal planning and I am so excited for you embarking on this journey toward better health!

 

How to Live Clean in a Dirty World

It can be pretty overwhelming to live in 2017 with all the worrisome articles swirling the internet suggesting cancer is around every corner. Whenever I chat with my grandparents it seems as though I am always hearing some story like, “When your mom was a kid there were no seat belts and she lived.” Then there’s the ever popular “We drank from the garden hose and we’re fine!” Oh, and this! “There were no restrictions on pregnant women back in my day.”

These things may have been true. But what’s also true is modern science and modern medicine.

As time goes on, more and more research is conducted. Studies are done. New scientific evidence is being discovered and learned constantly. What was once true, is able to evolve into a different story. As science and medicine evolve with time, so must we.

Conflicting information on the internet is just as prevalent as man buns right now. Both need to knock it off, though. I digress, I lament with those who may feel overwhelmed to the point of inaction with the plethora of information (and misinformation) at our fingertips.

In our family we’ve slowly over time cut out as many toxins as we can. It is not going to happen overnight, so don’t get discouraged if it seems like a massive undertaking to detoxify your life. First we made the switch to buying more organic food. Next we have been making the switch to being more natural and plant-based in all other products we buy. First it was soap. Now, we’ve transferred our purchases to eliminating as many toxic products as we can! We call this over time switch”transfer buying”.

My encouragement to those who feel overwhelmed by the seemingly impossible undertaking of creating a non-toxic home environment would be to do it in stages. Take a year to do it, even. Focus on one area each month if you have to. For example, you could first remove all items of food in your home that contain harmful additives. Next month, you could look at your soaps, make up, or toothpaste and switch those out, and so on. It doesn’t have to be rocket science, but it WILL be worth while!

There are so many amazing resources out there to help you decide which ingredients to cut out and why. The Environmental Working Group’s website and the app “Think Dirty”, are two of my go-to resources to check ingredients.

You guys, IF YOU CAN’T PRONOUNCE AN INGREDIENT, you probably shouldn’t be using it! At the very least, look up the ingredients on the Environmental Working Group’s site, or the “Think Dirty” app, or even just a simple google search.

It is possible to make your family’s home environment more safe, and it’s so worth the effort especially if you have children in the house. Children deserve to grow  up without harmful chemicals bombarding their systems and wrecking havoc on their development. If you’re not sure about toxins affecting child development, research it. There is a lot of information out there to suggest that environment and what they’re exposed to has a lot to do with their development.

Here are a couple articles that talk about common food additives and harsh household chemicals to stay away from:

Top 10 Food Additives to Avoid

Toxic Household Products You Should Throw Away

Dirty Dozen – Cosmetics

10 Harmful Chemicals to Avoid

Dirty Dozen – Produce to ALWAYS Buy Organic

If you need help or want some ideas on how to start creating a healthier home environment, please contact me. I’ve been on a mission to create a healthier home for my family for several years now and I have gained a lot of experience in the most effective ways to do it. I would love to help!

 

Live Free, Love Others, Be Fruitful

Learning to be Bold & Brave

Galatians 5 – Christ Has Set Us Free! (ESV)

“For freedom in Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1

I’m about to get really honest with you all right now. Writing is my chosen form of therapy, after all.

One of the themes of my adult life that I strive for has been to live freely in Christ. Along with Jesus up on that cross also went MY sins. There is no reason for me to live in the shadow of sin so long as I am in Christ. Whoever believes in Him will have eternal life.

Fear. It’s a crippling thing, really. It’s handicapped a lot of my adult life, in fact. Most people who know me probably wouldn’t guess that, though. I’m relatively outgoing, outspoken, and yet introverted all at the same time. If I had to guess the reason for fear & anxiety it would be some mixture of dealing with a parent with addiction, loss of a parent, loss of loved ones in general, low self-esteem, to name a few. I’ve had multiple chances to do well with various endeavors yet either failed to fly, wouldn’t jump, or self sabotaged. I’ve spent a lot of time healing and learning healthier coping mechanisms. F.E.A.R. It’s crippling. I wasn’t willing to bet on myself for too long.

Fear of failure can debilitate you, like it did me. When I commit to something, I am usually all in and going to try my hardest to perfect it. Yet for so many years, I battled fear and anxiety. This is why the idea of “living freely” in Christ has meant so much to me. Jesus knows me, he loves me, and he cares for me. He died so that I may have a life worth living.

Obviously, I haven’t conquered all my fears. I am still humbly asking for God’s guidance with this daily, and probably always will. I write this from a place of humility, wanting to walk alongside others struggling, too. But God is SO GOOD and so lovingly reminds me to “live freely”, on occasions when I need it most. A Pastor will give a sermon about it, I’ll hear a song on the radio, or like today, when I really needed it, I’ll be led to read Galatians 5. “Christ has set us Free, stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.” Here, it talks about legalism going on in that time in history and how Christ has freed them from the laws to prove their faith. Instead, all we need to do is believe and trust in Jesus as our Savior to be saved. Today, these verses tell me to be free from my sin, fear, and anxiety to trust that God will lead me well if I let him. Jesus has set me free and I can feel safe being bold and brave so long as I am walking hand in hand with Christ, being led by the Spirit.

“What is important is faith expressing itself in love.” Galatians 5:6

As I keep walking as Christian, a wife, a mother, a sister, a daughter, a friend, and a woman, I pray that I have the strength in Christ to drive out fear and live boldly!

Jesus has changed my life and the idea of living freely in Christ means I will be betting on myself again. I’ll be betting on my success because Jesus CAN and will heal my tendency toward fear and anxiety. I want to be a shining example of strength for my daughter.

This year I will be jumping OUT of my comfort zone, in faith, that God will help land me on my feet. What are you doing to get out of your comfort zone and what is your source of strength? I would love to hear about your journey, too. Please leave a comment or send me a message about it. God bless!

Love others, be free. 

 

 

 

Grateful for All of It

It was 5:15am. Which is astronomically early for a stay at home mom who is frequently woken up by a nursing baby in the night. Let that all soak in for a moment.

Usually my daughter and I are both peacefully visiting dreamland this time of day but my husband had just came into our bedroom with a flashlight searching high and low for his favorite hoodie before hustling out the door to make it to the gym before work. Thankfully, she slept through it, but I wasn’t so lucky. After all, I am a mom and wake up to even the faintest noises. You know, like the carpet blowing in the wind of the air conditioner or my daughter faintly humming in her sleep. Anyway, I do frequently steal said hoodie (it is the best), so it’s understandable why he was searching through my closet for it (doh!). In any case, as I laid there awake I thought maybe I could get my day started early and get some things done. My daughter does not take very long naps and I don’t get much quiet time to myself to think. Around 5:30 I decided, OK, I’ll get up, get some coffee, read my bible and devotional, and get cracking on some things.

As usual, my daughter had other plans. She began to stir and wanted to nurse. I thought, oh great! This means she’ll sleep in longer if I nurse her now. Wrong again, mom! She promptly sat up straight in bed after nursing and stared at me. Ok…tried to coax her into going back to sleep – no luck. New diaper – still no luck. Next move, I went to get her a bottle, as she takes a supplement a few times a day, and thought maybe that’s what she wanted. Wrong again, she tossed her cookies everywhere after getting 1/3 through the bottle.

So now I’m up extra early, tired, and cleaning up puke. Not exactly the relaxing and quiet start to my morning I had envisioned. As I felt frustration and exhaustion start to set in, I began to pray and ask for patience. Ever pray and ask for patience? It’s God’s most favorite way to answer in irony as He’ll just give you more opportunities to practice. So of course what came next were multiple attempts to lay her back down and a baby fighting sleep.

After I finally coaxed her back to sleep, I quietly walk downstairs to get some coffee. Ah, yes. This is what I wanted! I got my coffee, a cozy blanket, my journal, and began to read my bible and devotionals. What happened next helped me make sense of my entire morning and refocus my attention.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 ESV – A Time for Everything

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

There’s a time for everything, because every season of life comes with all kinds of situations. This was a reminder to me that despite my occasional moments of difficulty, exhaustion, and frustration, this season of life also comes with the most beautiful moments too. It’s so easy to get stuck in the rut of frustration but to battle that, I need to always keep the bigger picture as my perspective for positive living. My daughter is almost a year old and I’ve loved to watch her grow and change every day. She is just beginning to walk unassisted, says mama in the sweetest voice, pretends to talk on the phone to me, gives the most slobbery adorable kisses, flashes me a smile whenever I walk in the room and has such a sweet yet cautious personality that emerges more and more every day. My walk through motherhood has been such a blessing and this season of my life is something I’ll always look back on fondly, so these verses were a real reminder to me that there’s a time for everything in all seasons of life. In order to enjoy the sweetness of this season of my life, I must also take with it the frustrations that come along and walk through them with grace and patience.

As with everything in life, motherhood’s adversities are no match for a grateful & loving heart.

My Daughter’s Inner Voice

This morning started off as just an ordinary morning with my 9 month old daughter, yet it will always have a profound and lasting impact on me as a mother.

After our morning kisses and cuddles, we got out of bed and I set her up with a few toys to play with while I brushed my teeth and got myself ready for the day. While standing at the sink, I found myself feeling a little  discouraged about my body and where I am physically in my postpartum journey. I had expected things would be going back to normal faster than they have. I expected I wouldn’t be as tired as I have been as a new mother and would have had the energy for the workouts I’d love to do. Yet, as I stood at the sink, I found myself lifting my shirt to examine with disappointment the battle scars I have on my lower abdomen from late in my pregnancy. The negative thoughts I had quietly in my head were screaming so loudly through the look on my face. Feeling two little eyes gazing up at me, I looked down to see my baby girl standing there, with one arm holding herself up against the bath tub and the other holding her own shirt up as she examined her own tummy.

Oh, my. What am I doing?

Sure, she’s just 9 months old and was just innocently mimicking her mama as she loves to do lately. But make no mistake, my actions were ultimately teaching her that it is ok to have negative thoughts about yourself and to give into the pressures of this life to feel you are anything less than uniquely beautiful in God’s eyes – no matter how you look.

Although it is reasonable to want to lose a little weight and wish away the marks on my abdomen, the problem was my heart behind it this morning. I was trying to live up to unreasonable expectations based off of other people that do not match up with my reality. I am recognizing this morning that as her mother, my voice  and attitude about myself will greatly influence my daughter’s inner voice about herself. I want to treat myself better in order to teach her that beauty is not the sum of your gravitational pull and overall outward appearance. Beauty is what flows from the heart through your actions. It’s how you love yourself and how you love others. I was not loving myself well this morning and it is a blessing I have had this revelation while my daughter is so young.

This is just one small part of the endless journey to try and thrive on grace! This is MY journey! I needed this reminder to be grateful for the amazing body God has given me that gave LIFE to my daughter. Every mark is worth it. It was an important reminder to love myself, accept the things I cannot change, and work harder with a positive attitude to change the things I can. But most of all, it was a reminder to always be confident and kind to myself, as little eyes are looking up to me.

Rock Climbing & Blogging

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It’s always that first step that’s the hardest, and sometimes the most intimidating, when stepping out to try something new. This was the case with rock climbing for me…and starting a blog. Both uncharted territories, yet climbing to the top of that rock wall and being able to publish my first blog post were both very satisfying. Both taught me valuable lessons about trying new things and driving out fear to accomplish your goals. Who knew blogging and rock climbing had so much in common.

Situations aren’t always easy, but it’s up to you whether you just survive or if you thrive!

Grace – You Are Enough!

As a woman, a mother, and a fellow human being, I find that it’s very easy to compare myself to others and sometimes come up feeling inadequate. In this day and age, with the rise of social media, we find ourselves living in the fakest reality world – ever. Everywhere you turn someone is using a filter, an angle, a clever saying, and the right lighting, to get you to think a certain way about them. I fear that this is perpetuating a problematic thought among us – that maybe we just aren’t enough. At times I have felt the need to edit things to the point where I’m almost editing reality out! But what I’ve learned is that when I edit out too much of my reality, I lose ownership over my authenticity, which is insulting to me and insulting to the ever-loving God who made me! Now, of course I still use filters and Chrisclever sayings! The point is, I’ve learned to be more mindful of social media and the trap of obsession with perception.

But unlike obsession with perception and thirst for other’s approval, grace tells an entirely different story. Grace says, “You are enough”, because God says, “You are more than enough.” God’s grace and unconditional love has saved us while we are still sinners and that is truly a free gift to whosoever believes in Him. Knowing who I truly am, (behind that Nashville filter and natural sunlight from that window I’m facing in hopes to hide my tired eyes) God says, “I choose you, all of you!”

Now, this of course has eternal implications but for the purpose of this blog post, let me get to the daily – minute by minute – application. Here it is, because God’s grace tells me that I am more than enough – I AM ENOUGH! So I must treat myself as such. This means that every day I choose, to the best of my ability, to extend grace to myself and not be too hard on myself. This means I fully accept myself as I am! This means that you not only extend grace to yourself but to others too. I’m choosing to think the best of others, and give more benefit of the doubt. God loves us all. He extends love and grace to us all. I am flawed and also trying my hardest to thrive on this sometimes uphill climb of life and gracefully love myself and love others in a passionate and genuine way!

I don’t want to just survive on tough days. I want to thrive! I want to thrive on the fact that God’s love and grace have covered me. It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to my new blog, Thriving on Grace.