How to Be Truly Joyful During the Storm

Ah, joy. That’s what everyone’s goal is right? We all crave happiness. Yet sometimes along the way, happiness and what it takes to get there get twisted.

Goals, material possessions, and situations often dictate our happiness. It’s not a new thought for me to suggest that perhaps true happiness isn’t from any of those things or circumstances, rather, true happiness is a choice from within. Several years ago while attending Saddleback Church in Southern California, Kay Warren did a series entitled “Choose Joy”. It so resonated with me then, yet still all these years later this mindset of CHOOSING joy trips me up.

I knew that happiness isn’t just a feeling, but I didn’t actually put it into practice. Knowing and doing are two very different things. I got caught up in the trappings of situational (un)happiness. Sure, I have really difficult situations I’ve been going through, but there’s no reason I can’t still be grateful during the storm. Even when it feels like I’m barely getting through something, I know God is right there holding me up.

I have struggled the last few years with this feeling of unhappiness, between late nights up with my baby, to early feedings, to marriage challenges, to feeling like my sanity got lost in the shuffle as a new mom…. and here’s some examples of how I snapped out of it and began to LIVE my life again knowing that JESUS is my true Happiness:

Jesus

As a Christian, I believe that when true happiness is determined by situations or possessions, it’s superficial. Not to say that those things can’t make us happy! But true joy, that isn’t fair-weather joy, is a God thing. Christian Joy is truly different, and it’s genuine, sustainable, and worth fighting for. Being truly happy and joyful as a Christian means I will remain content, joyful, and at peace in all situations because I know God is in control. I also know that God will use all for the good of those who love him. (Check out Romans 8:28 and James 1)

That’s pretty standard in our faith as  Christian. But what does that look like in day to day life when your marriage isn’t thriving, your finances maybe aren’t where you want them to be, and you have a baby that refuses to sleep for two years? It means being faithful in the small things. Choosing to read God’s word when you don’t feel like it. Praying about it instead of incessantly talking about it (Gut check to myself, Chatty Cathy). Trusting God will take care of the situation, no matter how big or small. When I remind myself to do these small acts of faith, I am met by God in even bigger ways, letting me know He’s here and cares for us. So when life is messy, stop to pray. Praying often means we are putting our knowledge of God and faith into action, and it’s a curator of true happiness!

Practice Healthy Happiness Habits – Intentional Living

What in the world is a Healthy Happiness Habit? It varies from person to person. What are the activities you love to do that really feed your soul? I’m talking things that make up the best days. For me, I love to read, write, be at the beach, paint with my daughter, cook, go hiking, play volleyball, have coffee with a best friend, among many other fun things! Sometimes it’s all too easy to get caught up in everyday life, todo lists, work, and monotony. Make time to live intentionally, practicing healthy habits that feed your soul and happiness tank! Do more that makes you feel alive and grateful.

Eat Healthy Foods

It’s really hard to feel good if you’re fueling your body with the wrong foods. Eating healthy and wholesome foods always helps me to feel my best. Feed your body well and thrive! If you need healthy recipe ideas, let me know and I would be glad to help. Also, ohsheglows.com is a wonderful blog and resource, I love her cookbooks. Angela Liddon is the creator of Oh She Glows and her blog even has an APP! What! So cool.

Make Right What You Can

Start by tackling the obvious issues in your life that you can make right. For me, I made a list of all the areas of my life that needed improvement and I made a plan to tackle each one. When I was struggling with unhappiness, I was so overwhelmed that it felt like nothing I did would help. This did coincide with a two year long state of ‘new mom’ sleep deprivation, so no wonder. Being a new parent isn’t for the faint of heart! But it is also the biggest blessing of my life. The bottom line here is: we cannot control all of our circumstances, but it is our responsibility to do our part and make right whatever we can. For me, one major improvement I did was decluttering my home. I used to have piles upon piles and covered up countertops. I took THREE SUV’s full of STUFF to donate to local charities. Visual clutter clutters my brain, which stifles my creativity, and leads to unhappiness. The book “The More of Less” by Joshua Becker has been so life giving on how to live a more minimalist lifestyle at home. Another thing I did that to help relieve stress in our home was teach our daughter to sleep. That’s something I have tried to do for quite some time and my many attempts were unsuccessful. I ended up loosely following a gentle sleep training book, creating a new bedtime routine, putting her in her own bed, and incorporating Essential Oils into our routine. I made her a calming oils sleep roller and she applies it herself before bed, she loves it! We also diffuse oils in her room at night, and it’s been a Godsend. We both have been sleeping better and overall it’s allowed us to be HAPPIER during the day!

Exercise

Find an exercise you LOVE and do it! For me, that’s Pilates, Yoga, and walking. The best exercise is the one you’ll do. Exercise is a proven practice that is essential for wellness and to help with overall happiness. Let’s get moving!

Essential Oils & Self Care

As a work at home mama of a busy toddler, self care is usually the last thing on my list! But when I do make the time, I never regret doing it. Self care means I am being mindful of my own needs, too. Self care looks different for everyone, but here’s how I practice self care:

  • Baths – I love taking a relaxing bath with 2 cups Epsom Salts, one cup Baking Soda, and mix it all together with about 10 drops of Lavender Essential Oil.
  • Reading – Just taking the time to be still and enjoy a good book and/or learn something new totally feeds my soul
  • Mama Mornings – I love to get up a little bit before my daughter so I can have some time alone with coffee, my bible, and my thoughts. It really helps set the tone for the day!
  • Spa Day! I love a good spa day. I will do DIY face masks, paint my nails, and just pamper myself. Although, Spa day is usually spa hour. Hah!
  • Essential Oils for Hormone Support – I make a roller bottle for myself with oils to support hormonal and emotional health and I put it on daily. Keeps this mama happy and my cycles from not turning me into a dragon lady. It also really helped support my body when I recently stopped breastfeeding!
  • Essential Oils for Emotional Health – I make a roller bottle I named my “Calm” roller for whenever I need to relax. I just roll it onto my wrists and take a deep breath.
  • If you’d like to know more about the oils our family uses, read more in the link below: Learn More About the Essential Oils We Use

Positive Mindset of Gratitude

Sometimes a mindset shift is the only change we need to be happier. If we are looking at life through dark shades of negativity, how do you think we’ll perceive our world? I try to be a realistic optimist, and sometimes I am better at it than other times. But one thing I know for sure is that having a mindset of gratitude helps me deal with hardships in a healthier way. The next time a tough situation arises, ask yourself, “what can I be grateful for in this situation?”

Write Out Your Blessings

I’m a visual learner. This exercise is a good one when you’re feeling down. Make a list of all the things you can think of that you are grateful for. It works wonders!

Read Books, Listen to Podcasts, Watch YouTube 

I cannot speak highly enough of arming yourself with knowledge and positive inspiration. For financial wisdom I’ve read and enjoyed Total Money Make Over by Dave Ramsey. I highly recommend his course, Financial Peace University. For marital wisdom, I LOVED the book Love & Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs. This is not your typical marriage book, and I’ve read several. This one by far trumps them all for me personally, which is a whole other post in itself. There’s also a phenomenal podcast called Love That Lasts by Jefferson & Alyssa Bethke all about relationships – go listen! I love to listen to podcasts and audiobooks when I am folding laundry, doing dishes, and cleaning. What subjects interest you? Go find a good book, podcast, or audiobook and take your mind somewhere else. Seek out people who are better at something than you and learn from them. God created us all so uniquely, and sometimes people have gifts that you just don’t have or you haven’t grown in that area yet. I even love to watch YouTube videos of mamas who are scheduling & tidying geniuses because that is NOT MY THING but I know it is so helpful to keep a toddler on a schedule, ya feel? Whatever it is you want to learn or improve about your life, seek it out in others and in resources — then own it! You’ll feel so much more empowered when you arm yourself with knowledge. And feeling empowered means I am usually so productive & feeling HAPPY!

Talk to people, get help. 

When all else fails, talk to trusted friends & family about your situation. Therapy is also a wonderful option, I am a big believer in getting an educated professional’s guidance. Mental health is definitely something to take seriously, and there is no shame in talking about it. I’d totally lose it some days if I didn’t try my best to do all of the above to keep my sanity. Even so, I have been to counseling to help me learn and cope. It’s awesome!

MY ENCOURAGEMENT:

It’s so common for so many of us to be living stressful and unbalanced lives. My encouragement would be to remember that life is meant to be cherished, enjoyed, and lived vibrantly! Live consciously and CHOOSE to be joyful. Choose a life that fills your cup and your happy tank. Do more of what you love. I love my job so much and could easily work myself to the bone and get up the next day to do it all over again. (I do, whoops). But the point is, if you’re pouring from an empty cup then you aren’t being as effective. Just like being on an airplane, put your own oxygen mask on first and then help others. What is your form of oxygen? Get your cup filled up, get enough air to breathe, and then continue to be the badass mama, boss, and/or incredible person that you are!! Happiness as a feeling is fleeting, but lasting happiness is found in the things that really matter, like Jesus, our families, and living our best lives doing what we love. When we CHOOSE to be joyful regardless of the circumstances, we are taking the power back to stay positive and then we are unstoppable!

 

 

 

 

 

Kids & Veggies: Top 10 Tips to Get Little Ones to Eat Better

Kids and vegetables. They go together like oil and water sometimes, right?

Not in our house! But that was after intentional decisions and work. I bet there are some children who are born loving broccoli, and that’s great. But that was NOT the case for my daughter. It was a struggle, every. single. meal. for. a. year. to get her to try anything new.

But here we are, she’s 2 and a half, and she eats everything.

I am writing this to share some of the tips I found successful when trying to teach my daughter to love vegetables, and also to encourage you to endure those tough days and not give up. Eating a variety of foods is so essential for proper nutrition and starting children early is the best tip I have.

Here are 10 of my favorite tips to get kiddos to love their veggies:

  1. Cook them deliciously! SO often people have said things like “I hate Brussels sprouts” to which I reply “Really? How have you had them?” Most common answer is boiled or steamed. Um,  I wouldn’t like that either! The best way to eat Brussels sprouts in my opinion is to slice them and saute them with onions and garlic in a pan or roast on a sheet tray in the oven. They get such delicious texture and flavor, a family favorite. Another example is broccoli. My daughter loves it when I serve the broccoli roasted with lemon, garlic, and salt.
  2. Serve with a Dipping Sauce – kids LOVE to dip. Do they like ketchup? BBQ sauce? Vegan cheese sauce? Cook the veggies, cut into spear type finger food and serve with a sauce. This instantly makes it more interesting! My daughter also loves it when I steam broccoli, season with garlic & salt, then serve with a vegan cheese sauce to dip in! My favorite vegan cheese sauce recipe is one I adapted from Oh She Glows and the Minimalist Baker. I’ll share on my blog soon!
  3. Serve with their favorite foods! OK, we don’t want to totally torture the poor kiddos. Sweeten the deal a little with making a delicious and balanced plate. What do they like? My daughter loves pasta. I try to get her to take one bite of something new every 2-3 bites of her favorite on the plate.
  4. Set an example. Your children are watching. You can’t just make salad, broccoli, or green beans once a week and expect them to hop on board. They have to see their parents eating them, loving them, and serving it to themselves before they are willing to do it themselves. If you want your children to eat healthier, you have to be willing to eat healthier yourself first.
  5. Be consistent! If there’s something you’d like your children to eat more of, make it regularly. They have to be exposed to healthy foods regularly in order to be more open to try them.
  6. Guacamole Trick: This one is from a fellow mama that I follow, Ellen Fisher. (She has a plant based e-book that’s incredible!) To teach her sons to love salad, she finely chops spinach and blends it into guacamole. As her children age, she slowly lessens the avocado and it turns into more of a salad and less of a bowl of guacamole. I tried this with my daughter and it works. I chop spinach, tomatoes, onions, and season the mashed avocado and serve with a spoon. She loves it!
  7. Sneak them in if you have to! One of my favorite ways to sneak in veggies is to shred carrots and chop spinach then mix them into pasta sauce. My daughter always loves to eat pasta so loading up the marinara with veggies is a great way to get her to eat a more balanced meal.
  8. Smoothies every day. My daughter did not love smoothies. It took me a while of consistently making them for myself and offering them to her to get her to actually want her own cup. I love to add spinach, flax seeds, powered greens, kale, and other goodness into smoothies. I got her a stainless steel thermos that hides the color of she smoothie so she doesn’t refuse it based on color. Her favorite smoothie is more like a milk shake and is a mixture of: bananas, flax seeds, almond milk, peanut butter, dates, and greens.
  9. Make it Fun! I also love to tell my daughter stories. I talk to her and tell her how broccoli are little trees! Aren’t they cute? Make it fun. Let them see you enjoying your meal and they’ll follow your lead….eventually!
  10. Don’t give up. Kids will take their own lead if you let them. Sure, some kids just will not love broccoli, and that’s ok. It’s up to you to find healthy foods that they’ll love. It’s not an easy job, but it’s worthwhile. I am so happy I put in the effort with my daughter as now she eats salads, veggies, and pretty much anything I make. I cook one meal at each meal time and we share. Keep the faith, my friends! The effort you’re putting in is worth it to help instill a sense of vibrant health and a life long love of veggies.

If you’d like any specific recipe ideas or to chat more about this, feel free to comment or message me!

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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.