It’s the end of the year and there is all sorts of buzz happening around words of the year, planning new goals, and figuring out what the new year could look like. I’m not a… More
I don’t really know how long I’ve been a person who is sentimental. I’m not sure if it started when I was young or if it grew as I grew. I don’t quite fully know the past, but I do know that I intend to live as somebody who treasures sentimental moments. To be sentimental is to live with a sense of tenderness, sadness, and nostalgia. Although I don’t fully intend to live in sadness and nostalgia, I think it’s healthy + appropriate for me to want to live in tenderness. I cry at movies, in crowded restaurants, at dinner with friends, when I talk about my husband, when I share what God is doing, and on the most mundane days, I cry. So it’s only normal for me to cry as I reflect on the past year of my life.
Typically, at the end of a year of life, I like to stop and reflect big reflections, and since reflection is what is driving me to share what God is doing in my life via a blog, I feel it’s only fair for my first post to be about sharing what God did in my last year of life.
For those of you who have grown up reading the Bible, you are probably familiar with many stories of suffering, but especially in the life of Job. Job loses everything- job + family, and a bounty of other terrible things happen to him, yet he continues on steadfast in the Lord. Although my year was not as terrible as Job’s, the Lord has taught me to be steadfast.
The Five Ways in Which the Lord has Taught Me to be STEADFAST
- In November, I remember telling my mom “something just doesn’t feel right”. I felt exhausted, worried constantly, and continually tired. I went to my doctor like most people would do and in a longer story that I’ll make short for you, through some different advice and many visits, we assessed together that I was struggling with something common among adults- anxiety. So in year twenty-four, I fought a long battle with anxiety and continue to fight it even nine months later. The Lord continues to be my strength even on my most weary of days.
- Y’all, in February I got married! Are you married? Y’all, it’s crazy beautiful and hard. You learn more about yourself and your own sinfulness. The Lord has shown me steadfastness in giving forgiveness more freely, loving more boldly, and becoming more selfless. This is still a journey and I’m still growing, but I can certainly whisper a quiet “thank you” to God for the pruning and weeding He is doing in this. (Love you, Ry!)
- In February, I felt like I was being pulled out of my current job into a new position in a different school. I’d experienced some hard things that I can’t quite write all about and I knew the Lord had something new for me. What I didn’t know is that it would take nearly twelve interviews, a couple of rejections, and some job offers that I turned down, to find my perfect fit and the school that I’ll be working in this next year. I didn’t know it’d require me to quit my one job before finding a second job. I just knew the Lord was calling me to be steadfast in Him.
- Friendships can be intensely overwhelming and community can be really hard. This year, I felt the Lord working as I grew in steadfastness in my friendships. There were some friendships that I had to end this past year, yet there were others that flourished. I learned to say good-bye to people that I loved knowing that the relationship was toxic. I had to remain firm in the fact that God would provide friendships for me that would be more meaningful and more safe. Even as I’m turning a page to year twenty-five, I find I’m still doing this- learning to be firm as I sort out what relationships are safe.
- My relationship with the Lord has really changed this year. I stopped looking to the Lord to help me “sometimes” and instead started leaning on Him to be my sufficient, all-in-all. I remember sharing with friends a few months ago, that I was scared when my season was over that I wouldn’t be as close to the Lord and that I couldn’t imagine not being as close as I was. The Lord taught me to be steadfast in Him- in His promises, in His joy, and in His strength.
Friends, in all of this, I have grown SO much. Aside from the many hours enduring anxiousness, crying heavy tears, and growing this year, I also did some amazing things. I married the most supportive man who believes that we can get through all things together and with the Lord. I was surrounded by bold friendships- people who loved me large. If you’d like to re-live my last year with me, find me on Instagram!
Through this steadfastness learned, I’ve decided to start blogging- just starting with two blog posts a month, but a way for me to share my heart with you. I didn’t think I could and I am so scared of being laughed at on the internet, but I have some sweet messages to share with you and I hope you’ll come along. Happy day after turning twenty-five-years-old, to me, and happy reading to you!
It’s my fourth year teaching and I’ll be teaching fourth grade, so I called it a golden year. I’m not sure if that’s a real thing, but I’m saying so.
At the beginning of every school year, I feel myself overflowing with excitement to love a new group of students, but also some anxiousness about the year that is ahead. There are so many things that could go wrong, but so many things that could go right. There are new families to meet, new parents to please, new growth to be made in students, and after you do all that, don’t forget all of the committee duties and that you actually might have a family at home and friendships that need you, too. I never want to say that other professions aren’t difficult, but I definitely feel like teaching is a nine month sprint with a few rest periods like in February. As a new school year approaches, I find myself setting some boundaries and some goals. I share this to be a voice for other teachers, to help them think through their own boundaries and goals, and to also encourage myself.
Last year I started a really sweet rhythm of doing laundry just one day a week. Yes, I know, it sounds crazy, right? But it filled me. I was no longer running around like a wicked woman because I knew that Friday night or Sunday was laundry day and that those piles could keep growing in my home so long as I knew I had my one day set aside to do laundry. This mindset helps me as a Type A personality and keeps me grounded on the important things.
Another good rhythm I leaned into as a teacher was taking a few minutes every day to write down some things I was grateful for. I cannot wait to start my gratitude journal this year at school. Whether you’re a teacher or working in another profession, taking a few minutes during the hustle of each day to be mindful can be so helpful. Also, studies have shown that shifting to gratitude helps us to plow over anxiousness.
Before you leave each day after school, get things ready for the next day. Try to have your piles laid out so that you can feel freedom to have slower mornings and not come into school filled with anxiety about getting ready for the day ahead. This took me three years to gain this rhythm, but I’m so thankful for it now. I also learned during my student teaching days to stay late on Thursdays to finish lesson planning so that you can leave on Friday right away if you choose. I’m still learning this rhythm, and still trying to figure this out for myself. It may not be this year, but I hope at some point in my life, to be able to curate a schedule with my husband that allows for this.
One way I made sure to connect with friends and family was to plan a “friend date” each week. Now, as a mom, that might be just once a month for you, but in my current family state, just a married woman, I had capacity to get with a friend once a week. I made sure to invest in friendships the best that I could during the school year. Sometimes that looks like me taking a few minutes of my lunch break to text three people to let them know I’m thinking of them. Staying connected to people who care about you and love you will help you to feel championed and supported to be the best you that you can be in your career.
My husband and I also have tried and failed and tried again to set up a rhythm of rest. We often times will choose a twelve to sixteen hour block of time that we maybe just stay home and try to take a break from work by doing things that are restful. This is definitely going to be my number one goal this year! In our faith, we believe in taking a Sabbath, but really stink at it. We believe the Lord rested so we should take his modeling and rest one day each week, as well. This year we’ll focus on the things we can do for fun on these days instead of the things we feel we shouldn’t do- like work, balancing checkbooks, cleaning, etc. Whatever your faith, know that taking time to refuel and recharge isn’t selfish- but is necessary.
The last rhythm I want to share could be viewed as selfish, but I think it’s okay to love on ourselves a bit. One day each week I make sure to stop for coffee before school (sometimes it’s more than one day..) because it’s something I enjoy and it’s a way I can tangibly gift myself something that says, “I care for myself and I see the work I’ve done. Delight yourself in this treat!”. I also make sure to check in with friends and family to ask that I’m staying the course and doing the things I love even in the busy hustle of the school year. For me that looks like working my side job, Noonday Collection, and sharing with women around the state about my love for women across the globe.
Teachers, it’s two more sleeps away for a big chunk of us before the hustle and bustle of the school year begins. I cannot explain to you the amount of thoughts and prayers I’ve had towards this year. The joy and excitement is so sweet, but the anxiousness and stress lingers closely behind. We have each other and we have people on our teams. Lets be teachers who reach out to one another and check on one another’s boundaries and goals.
Parents, we’re ready. We’re ready to love your kids. We’re ready to teach them and grow them and communicate well with you! We cannot wait to grow in relationship with you and your families! Please be gracious to us as we snap back into schedule.
Phew, I’d wanted to share these words for a while. They aren’t unheard of or completely different, but they’re a great way for us to have a few new ideas of ways to keep ourselves held accountable to during the school year, teachers.
Let’s do this thing!
If you’ve been a Christian for any amount of time or even if you haven’t, you may have heard this verse from the book of Psalms, chapter 139 quoted: “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” In this and surrounding verses in this chapter David is acknowledging that we are made beautiful because our Creator is beautiful (not the opposite way). And y’all, I believe this verse almost half of the time, until I’m standing face to face with my cellulite and thunder thighs in a swim suit.
I remember seeing a picture of myself from Wisconsin Dells when I was younger going on a ride with my dad. To me that picture was of joy- simplistic, child-like joy- until I checked in the middle and saw something sneaky show up. My stomach. Exploding. From my swimsuit. Everywhere. I remember thinking I would sneak every picture of that which was printed and shred it. I hated my stomach.
It was only my middle school years where I decided to start dabbling in diets. Weight Watchers to faked “fullness” to even at one point punching myself in the stomach to make it go away. Through high school, I sort of yo-yo-ed through seasons of up and down weight loss and gain depending on what sport I was or wasn’t in. In college, I pretended to like the gym and eating well. I’d practice being a “gym girl” only to realize I just wanted to be home reading books. Then after college, I started running and ran a half marathon and actually really loved it. But life changes and our hearts do, too.
Over the past year, I’ve been so inflicted with heartache when I’ve noticed women who are “good at working out”. I’ve wanted to be “good” at it, but y’all, I’m just not. And I am so thankful for these women who are modeling beautiful bodies so wholesomely cared for by a wonderful workout regimen. I’m so envious, too, but mostly thankful.
So this summer came and I knew I had missed out on the opportunity to grow a “summer body” and I was scared. I was scared when going to the beach with my friends that I’d be the “fat” one. Worried that I would be the one who stuck out- literally- with my stomach rolls. But friends, here’s what actually happened:
- I went to the beach. ALOT. Still going often.
- I wore a two piece tankini swimsuit.
- Nobody stared at me long enough for me to notice.
- Nobody called me “fat”, at least not to my face.
- I yearned for more hours at the beach and loved prancing in my swimsuit.
- I started to love how pale my skin was and continued to care for it by wearing sunscreen every beach trip. ( I still get the occasional spray tan 😉 )
- I stopped thinking about my stubborn belly fat and started dancing in the grace of my Creator!
I never thought I’d post a picture of myself on the internet in my bathing suit, but I have something to share with you. I think David was onto something in Psalm 139 when he points all beauty and wonder to God. Here’s how I know and believe this to be true. I’m still a 150 pound woman, still learning to love the skin I’m in, still annoyed that I don’t love working out, and still madly in love with learning how to love myself more. God looks on me with delight and with love- and I’m sure He does the same for you. Your body isn’t just something that gets to lose and gain weight, that gets to be trim or flabby. Your body is made to love insanely well and to laugh often. Your body is made to run if you want, but to also just stretch if that feels good, too. The Creator loves you and I’m not saying that you’re going to instantly love yourself because this was and still is a process for me. All I’m saying is that, I never looked at my friend and wished they didn’t have belly fat. I never looked to my friend and was disgusted over the size of their arms or their thighs. And if I’m not looking at my friends and doing that, then the Creator of the Universe- with so much on His plate- is certainly not looking at me like that and if He isn’t looking at me wishing I had less belly fat, then I should stop looking at myself like that, as well.
Praying for you this summer, dear girl. That you can dance in the grace and freedom of the body you were given with all of its marks, rolls, and toned areas!
Ethical: /adjective/- relating to moral principles or the branch of knowledge dealing with these.
Fair Trade: /noun/- trade in which fair prices are paid to producers in developing countries.
For the last few years, I have been working as a Noonday Collection ambassador. I often get asked questions about the work I’m doing as an ambassador and why I’ve chosen this. I’ve decided to break this blog series into three posts- first, to tell you a little bit about ethical + fair trade practices, second to tell you about my job with Noonday Collection, and the third to tell you how you can get involved. All photos used in these posts either belong to Noonday Collection or were taken by the amazing Emily Megan Photography.
A few years ago, I was invited to my first Noonday Collection trunk show and upon being at the show, I got to listen to many stories of women and men who were coming out of poverty because of the work of Noonday Collection ambassadors creating marketplaces and selling their products. Before I decided I could be all in, I needed to do a little bit of my own research.
Before this encounter with Noonday Collection, I had no idea that there were people being treated unfairly for the things I was buying. (Yes, I was extremely small-brained, but I didn’t understand.) Often, because of the quickness and way of the world, we compromise how we treat workers by paying them cheap labor costs and allow them to work in poor work conditions. But we shouldn’t. We should be concerned about growing a diverse world where people are supported in their jobs, given safe working conditions, and are cared for by their employers. Many, mainly women, clothing workers who create clothing move to an unfamiliar place, to get an income that won’t even cover a quarter of the bills that they have to pay, will work in unsafe work conditions, and sometimes even risk being beaten by their employers, just to have a job. Would you work a job where this was the case? I would think that we wouldn’t, but these women, most in other countries are desperate to make an income.
As we explore fair trade fashion together, I just want to educate you. I want you to walk away wondering who is on the other end of your purchases and what they are getting out of it- income? abuse? heartache? illness? As we continue to venture through this series together, I’ll be praying specifically that we can become women who are thinking of the women, men, and sometimes even children making the items we buy. If you’re curious about how to start shopping more ethically and through fair trade fashion, continue following along on this blog page!
I have no idea how to look back on my twenty-fifth year of life without absolutely losing it. Twenty-five was challenging, but oh, so sweet. I mostly write this post for me- to look back on, to reflect, to challenge myself- but I’ve included some of YOU in this post and there may be some encouragement, so just come along, y’all.
Over the past year, I feel like I have been grown and stretched. I’ve learned so much. I’ve been blessed in so many magnificent ways. And here are just a few key things I’ve come away with:
The Lord hears our prayers.
I could go into tons of detail, but it would take all evening. But lets just say, I left twenty-four a completely broken woman- anxious, broken, deeply discouraged. I didn’t know if I could teach anymore, if I could advocate for justice, or if I could even keep going. I was exhausted from my worrying and anxieties and most days all I could mutter was “Please God” and “No, Lord, say it isn’t so.” But the Lord and counseling and friendship and community has healed me. And I believe it’s in large part to the power and weightiness of using our prayers to communicate to an all sufficient God our every need. Seriously, y’all, prayer. Try it. This leads me to my next learning…
Counseling isn’t just for suicidal people.
I’m serious. I bobbed in and out of counseling in different seasons of my life, but when I left counseling in March of this year and traded in my weekly sessions for a check-in session schedule, I looked at my counselor and said, “I think you saved my life”. Counseling is for everyone- for the anxious, for the depressed, for the woman with an absent father, for the man struggling with his identity, for the abused daughter, for the neglected brother. Counseling is for anyone who is struggling. When we share what’s on our hearts and ask someone else to help us process the load, lighten the load, and help us through, we’re taking some of the weight off of ourselves and allowing our wounded, vulnerable hearts to hear from someone else’s soul. And it’s so amazing. I could write a whole blog about the benefits of counseling.
People will hurt you, but they will also save you.
It’s true. This year my husband and I felt the sting from some people we really love and really care for. We felt the sting of rejection and we felt the pain of the feeling of not good enough. But you know what else we felt this year? Cherished. Chosen. Joyful. Hopeful. Cared For. We have cried with people we love (okay, mainly me) and have laughed with complete strangers. And it has all been sweet in some way. I think we can become really hard and bitter towards people, but I’m going to tell you- please don’t. Believe that the people God has surrounded you with are there for a reason to care for you, to love you, and to sometimes grow you- even if it hurts a bit.
Marriage can be tough, but it can also be beautiful beyond words.
We are still newlyweds. We are a year and a half into marriage and we are still pursuing each other, still learning each other, still hurting each other, and still loving each other (after 8 am and before 9 pm). Marriage has grown me in ways I never imagined- like in selflessness and courage. We have had our fair share of disagreements and even more laughter, lingering hugs, and memorable pillow talk. At the end of the day, I wouldn’t hold hands with any other man and there’s no one else whose arms feel quite like home. My advice? Invest in your marriage. Date your spouse. Serve them with everything you can.
Life’s too short to work a job you don’t love.
This year I worked a job at Foster Elementary School. I’m convinced Foster school is the most amazing school on this side of eternity. The teachers are the very best- filled with love and joy for their students, their jobs, and each other. I feel deeply loved and cared for every day I come into school and I am so reminded that life is too short to work a job that you don’t completely love. In my twenties, I’ve talked to so many of my friends who are unsettled in their jobs, hate the feeling of needing to climb the ladder to find significance, and are groggy from the daily mundane. This year was the most amazing teaching year ever and I know it’s because I was committed to working a job I loved. I encourage you to find what sets your heart ablaze and to do just that.
Friendship and community is God’s design for His people.
In my twenty-fifth year, I started a Bible study in my home when I was desiring Christian community. The Lord reconnected me to friends who I hadn’t talked to in years. I was able to invest in and be invested in by so many beautiful women. Friendship and living in community is something we should all be doing. Focusing our time on serving others and spending time with those who mean the most. Join a book club. Try a league. Invite your neighbors over. Whatever you have to do to create community, do that thing, because when you do, it’s so beautiful and sweet.
Sometimes the person who needs grace the most is the person looking back in the mirror.
This last point feels ugliest. What if I told you that my birthday this year was the most insignificant birthday to-date? Or what if I told you that I cried a good few times on the day I turned twenty-six? I need grace, friend, and so do you. We weren’t created to be perfect or to hold ourselves to unattainable standards. We were created to be loved and to love others. So if you’re having a bad day or nothing seems to be going right, look in the mirror and tell that beautiful person on the other side how much they matter and how much you love them. Tell them that today is a new day and you’re going to be amazing. You can do it, friends.
Year twenty-five was so eventful- yet so disappointing at times. Yet, I found great peace in my faith and was able to persevere.
So long, twenty-five! Hello, twenty-six, I can’t wait to see where we go!
The amount of tears I’ve shed the last four days is somewhat ridiculous, I’ll admit. For me though, tears are nothing new. They don’t warrant themselves only on sad days, but instead, show up most days for the small things and big things. You see, for the last few weeks, I’ve been prepping myself for Tuesday, June 5th. Why? Ryan was getting on a plane and headed back to Washington for a week. For the last three days, I’ve been prepping myself with mighty tears and a few extra snuggles on the sofa because I knew that Tuesday was coming so quick. So why write a blog post about twenty piles of teardrops and a husband who is gone away? I pondered in my head today, “does any of this matter?”, “will anybody even care?”, and “I’m such a wimp.”. (Mostly that last thought encompassed my thoughts, but I had to share.
As we would lay by each other and snuggle the last few days, I kept saying to my husband, Ryan, “I’ll just miss you”. Nothing fancy. Just four words with a foreshadow to some heavy emotion. Now I’ll admit, the thought of Ryan leaving was hard for a few reasons. Aside from truly missing him, I was/am also anxious about being home alone for so long, although I have so many sweet people in my life who’ve gobbled me up in their arms and have said, “I’m sorry.” (Shout out to my co-workers, Stacy + Ashley!) or offered to stay with me or have me sleepover. But really, at the end of every conversation, it always went back to “I’ll just miss you.” And man, it’s been like not even a full day and I do miss you! (Miss you so much that I had to pull into the Kohl’s parking lot for a good twenty minute cry.)
I share this because I feel like this is the message I have for you- I wouldn’t miss this man of mine if we didn’t have SO much invested in each other. The only real way to cultivate a marriage fully is to be fully in love and I truly feel that this is a gift. Through this, I feel like the Lord has placed on my heart some specific truths for those in marriages and also those who are longing for marriage.
First, and foremost, your relationship with your spouse should be your most important human relationship (if you’re a Christian, we believe our relationship with the Lord comes first, and then with each other). Then your relationship with everyone else should come. If you are placing your children or something else in your life above your spouse, chances are that you aren’t really cultivating that relationship with your spouse. There have been seasons of our relationship where I have put the craziness of being busy above the sweetness of an intimate relationship with my husband. I’ve been convicted and have had to ask him for forgiveness in this. Your spouse should come first in human relationships.
Second, because we’ve put the Lord first we can love each other better. The Lord is our foundation- our vision of a perfect love that can never be truly replicated. But because of this, we can model our relationship after the love we’ve been shown. This looks like us intentionally praying for each other and asking God how to serve each other most. It’s not always easy, but it’s so worth it.
Next, if you’re in a relationship, I beg you to find out how your spouse feels most loved. My husband loves being hugged and loved on. Snuggles are his love language (next to coffee) and he feels connected most to me when I ask him questions about his day, about life, and about his dreams. I feel most loved when someone tucks me in and when someone offers to do jobs for me. My husband knows this and so he’s often taking out the garbage, unloading the dishwasher, and setting timers for ten minutes every night so that I’m tucked in and cared for each night (I might miss this the most the next seven nights).
My last few words of advice for my friends in marriage, just delight in each other. Whatever it means to you, delight in each other. My husband and I spend so much of our time laughing together. He will sometimes read me books when I’m headed to bed. He writes me letters for the small things- like when I got chosen as a blogger for Noonday. I try to cook his favorite family tradition recipes on holidays. I listen to his words and then try to do the thing that makes him feel most loved.
Now if you’ve read this far and you’re single, or longing for a sweet marriage, I have to say- I think all of these things can be applied above. If you’re in a not-so-sweet marriage, I challenge you to try some of these things. Watch the movie Fireproof. Ask your partner how you can love them well. Ask them what will help them to feel most loved. If you’re single, try this in your closest friendships. See how you can love those people better. I challenge you.
For those of you longing for marriage or just for a better season of marriage, we’ve been praying for you. If you have a specific prayer, please share with us as you feel led. We love praying for those people in our lives who are longing. I know what we have is special, but it isn’t beyond reach. This is the love we long for all of our friends to experience.
To my sweet husband, I’ll miss your side of the bed being warm. I’ll miss your huge hugs. I’ll miss your thoughtfulness. I’ll miss you laying on the couch playing video games or watching Netflix. I’ll miss you making fun of essential oils. I’ll miss folding your clothes (I know a bunch will come home needing to be folded). I’ll miss your sweaty socks scattered in the living room. I’ll miss your beard hairs in the sink. But mainly, for the next seven nights, I’ll just miss you.
“I vow to help you love life, to always hold you with tenderness, to have the patience that love demands, to speak when words are needed, and to share the silence when they are not, to agree to disagree about red velvet cake, to live within the warmth of your heart, and always call it home.”
As the weather gets nicer and the days get longer, there is nothing I love more than captivating the spare moments of summer with delightful books. Every year, I set a stack of books in the corner of my office area to satisfy my hungry soul for someone else’s words. This year I decided to share that list and actually make you a sweet little printable list that you can take with you to your local Barnes and Noble (okay, or Amazon) to snag some books, as well, for a summer filled with reading.
Since this blog is a place for all people regardless of their faith, I’ve just denoted books with a little ** if it is a book that will lend it’s interest most to a person of faith. Some of the books that I’ll highlight on this post have already been read by me, and some are books I can’t wait to dive into. Also, there’s a sweet little insert on the list from my husband and also a section on the printable specifically for teachers. Let’s dive in!
Shauna Niequist books- all of them. Every summer I try to re-read at least two of Shauna’s five books she’s put out. Her books are titled Cold Tangerines, Bittersweet, Bread and Wine, Savor (a devotional) and Present Over Perfect. They all are fantastic. So much so that even your husband will lean into her words and even chuckle a little bit. If you’re feeling frantic, wanting to captivate your life more, or just needing a friend who gets it, you have to open up one of Shauna’s books. I remember reading Cold Tangerines for the first time (I’ve read it six times since then..) and craving more of her words. Although she is a Christian woman, I wouldn’t say that her books are just for those of us who are Christians. She will have you wanting to delight in your family more, spend a few more hours in your kitchen preparing food for those you love, and will give you a crash course in hospitality. Her books are delightful in the kind of way where you want to eat them up. And that’s typically just what I do. I highly recommend Shauna’s books and hope you’ll choose one to put on your must read list this summer.
Girl, Wash Your Face- Rachel Hollis. I started following Rachel on Instagram a few years ago because I loved that she was building a business and doing it with beautiful style. What I gained from her though after following her for a few years was a hundred belly laughs from her laugh out loud personality and a greater glimpse into the life of an adoptive parent. Rachel does it all with such grace and poise, but if you read Girl, Wash Your Face, you’ll find that Rachel’s life is anything but poised and that she hasn’t gotten to where she is without a few dozen falls along the way. It’s comforting and so resonating with my heart. This book will take you through the lessons Rachel has learned along the way from single woman, to broken hearted, to falling in love, to parenting, and to being your own cheerleader.
Braving the Wilderness- Brene Brown. Brene Brown has been a favorite author of mine for a long time. She’s real to the core and calls the shots just like they should be called- without holding back her emotions. In this book, she outlines the path to true belonging only occurring when you truly are you. Some of her chapters in this book have the best titles such as: “People are Hard to Hate Close Up. Move In.” and “Speak Truth to Bullshit. Be Civil.”. Now, I’m not a swearing woman very often, but this chapter was so great and this whole book has left me breathless and thankful for some more tools in my belt on how to persist in my daily life with the courage to be myself. If you’re looking for a kick in the shorts to stop hiding who you truly are, Brene has you and this book will be perfect for those campfire nights with your favorite drink in hand.
**Love that Lasts- Jefferson and Alyssa Bethke. This book is a great marriage book for couples wanting to pursue each other in a way that models the Lord’s great love for us. This book is told in such a way that helps us to see marriage in a different light than that of what our culture traps us into believing is best for marriage. A year and a half into marriage and I’m learning more about myself each day. I’m wanting to love my husband more, pursue him better, and make sure that our conflicts don’t overtake the joy in our marriage. This book is helping me to focus on my relationship with the Lord so I can be the best wife to my husband.
*Everybody Always- Bob Goff. This is my husband’s vote! Guys can read this and enjoy it all the same. I gave this a half-Christian book asterisk- not because I don’t think Bob loves Jesus, but because I truly believe this book could be a shift for anyone. Ryan used to read me this book before bed every once in a while and it was the perfect way to fall asleep. Bob and his wife, Sweet Maria, have made it their goal that everybody always feels loved and cherished. They are Christians, but if you aren’t, you may still enjoy their genuine love and joy for the human race and you may delight in the way they have such voice in their storytelling.
Imperfect Courage- Jessica Honegger. Disclaimer- this book isn’t out till August, but I know I’m going to love it and I know I’m going to want you to read it and here’s why. Jessica Honegger is one of the co-founders for Noonday Collection, the socially responsible accessory company I get to be an ambassador for. Jessica speaks often in our group of Ambassadors about shame and how to stop believing the lies. Seriously, if you’re a woman, you’ve felt lies, right? Jessica is going to help us smash those lies and call their bluff…in August. I’ll be hanging on waiting, and you can be, too.
Seriously, y’all. I could read books all the live long day. I’m a book junkie. That’s why I hope you find this short list fun and my hope is that you’ll take the long list to the book store with you. If you do, can you come back here and let me know so we can rejoice in the books we’re sharing together.
Happy Summer Reading, friends! Download your Summer Reading Book List here: 2018 Book List. 🙂
It’s a Monday night- the Monday night after my personal day from school. If you didn’t know, or you aren’t a teacher, typically teachers get one or two personal days to use each year. These are to be used however we want and it’s so fun to choose that ONE day in hopes that it’ll be absolutely perfect. My day was amazing- spent with friends, family, and now writing- it just doesn’t get much better.
I’ve been praying for words for a few weeks. Just anything to fuel my heart. I’ve started six blog posts in May and this will be the only one that gets finished (so far)- and I think it’s because this is a message for all of us.
I’ve been seeing so many Facebook posts about parents who are sick of the school year- ready for packed schedules of little league games and babysitters and keeping kids occupied by the pool all summer long. Although that is all so fun, it isn’t every childs reality. And this is the part where the tears are cued.
If you hear a teacher describe a student in their class, you’ll probably hear the word “adorable” or “so sweet” even if they’re difficult or hard or running us out of energy. I’m still in this honeymoon phase of teaching where I love it so much that I leave every day feeling thankful beyond words and completely exhausted.
As I’ve watched the numbers dwindle over the past few weeks and as we’ve endured another school shooting, God has been speaking to my heart about the job that I and other teachers have in this season. You see, now with twelve and a half days left to go until summer break, I’m excited and devastated all in the same. I’ve been pondering if I’ve loved each dirty recess face enough. Wondered if I’ve been patient enough and gracious enough for each and every little heart that’s occupied a seat in my classroom this year. Every year feels different, but this year has felt especially sweet. And if you are a teacher, you know this to be true.
This year, twenty-seven squishy, big hearted kiddos have sat in my classroom, and have been taught by me, and my co-teacher, who I’m certain should receive a “Teacher of the Year” award. We have laughed abundantly, we have cried over a student who left mid-year, and rejoiced when we got a new student. But we have loved big. Love has been our anthem in third grade with a side of empathy and compassion. As exhausted as I am, I’m devastated to see this year go. Sad to watch some of my students leave our class or our school. Saddened that I may have made an impact, but maybe I didn’t some days and maybe those days are important to them, too. So with twelve days left of the year, here’s what I’ve got:
Parents, you are amazing. I know you’re exhausted and everything from packing lunches to the carpool line feels like the Hunger Games, but hang in there. Stick with us. Breathe deep and kiss your kiddo a bajillion times just because you can. Help us out by double checking dates on the calendar and looking through that folder or agenda for just eleven more evenings.
Teachers, you are amazing. You have given so much this year. You are hardly making it to Thursday and Friday feels like it’ll never come, but you’re doing the thing. The hard thing, the sweet thing, the glorious thing- and your rewards are so much more than a few days off this summer. I’m proud to be one of us. Proud to be making a difference in the world. Lets pray big, bold prayers for our kiddos for the next twelve days. Prayers that they stay safe, that they don’t lose their sh** every other second, and prayers that your love is enough to get them through the summer into a next year. Your job is so important and I want to squeeze each one of you, bring you Starbucks, and tell you that YOU CAN DO THIS. It feels impossible and you feel exhausted- but these kids are counting on you.
Students, you are amazing. You are the reason we’re doing what we’re doing. The reason we’re loving abundantly. We want you and care for you and can’t wait to crazy love you all next year!
As for me, I’m still devastated. Still longing for a few more laughs, a few more good morning hugs, and a lot more memories. This year has been my favorite. I’ve had incredible students and amazing families and have worked with the best staff. And luckily for me, I’m taking a big bundle of them with me to fourth grade next year- Lord-willing. But if this hasn’t been your year, then this last part is for you:
To the teacher who really just can’t this year: (now I’m crying). I was you. I was on the edge of nothing and everything all in the same breath. You can do this, brave human. You have to finish as strong as you can. These kids may not have a champion in their life, but it’s you. They wake up, walk to school, check-in late, etc. so that they can see YOU! I have some super amazing friends in my life who are struggling this year- and I know some of you will read this. You’re doing great. You are doing everything you can and then some, so lets finish this out together and meet at Melting Pot for Ladies Night in two weeks (now you know who I’m talking to 😉 )!
With love and prayers! ❤
In December I started writing my goals for the new year, 2018:
- Workout at least three times a week (huge since I wasn’t working out more than once a week near the end of last year)
- Save a specific amount of money for a house (YAY!- we’ve been doing great with this)
- Become a more prayerful woman (prayer board in the kitchen- check, a list of prayers on my phone for the people I love- check)
- Write two blog posts a month (maybe I have eight unfinished blog posts, but really just one finished in all of 2018)
- Read twenty-five books this year (I’ve read two halves that I had started in 2017 and finally finished my first full book of the new year)
Yikes- you can see, goals and I just haven’t been getting along this year. And here’s the kicker, I’m a good goal-getter. Give me a task and I’ll crush it in whatever way I can. I go through life semi- head-on, eager to leave an imprint of my heart on those around me. But y’all, the past few weeks- just yikes.
I wanted to write more because I truly believe God has given me words to use and to glorify who He is and what He’s doing through a messy, try hard woman. I’ve always loved writing and use it most to share and display my most inner parts to my friends and family. I’ve always LOVED reading and still do. I believe that God teaches me a TON through the words of the Bible and other wise authors who’ve written lessons that I believe are from the heart of the Lord. So I love writing and reading, yet I’m failing at my goals. Why? Because this..
In January, I peeled open a book I won at the end of last summer called, Still Waiting by Ann Swindell. The back cover asks, “What if God wants you to wait?” Eww. Yay. Yuck. Thank goodness. All of my emotions were flooded. I wanted to read this book because I heard so much good, but the weary part of my heart wanted nothing more than to just say I read it only if I knew it would have a happy ending. On a snowy night with coffee in hand and sitting next to the fireplace, I started reading it. I cried through it and muddled my way through Ann’s words for the last three months and it has been anything but easy.
I have a toxic friend in my life. She follows me everywhere. Some days she gives me more space and some days she’s suffocating. Sometimes she allows me to do my own thing, and sometimes she controls me from every angle. She shows up in the weirdest places- stores, church, school. If you’re the luckiest, you don’t have a friend like her- but if you’re not, you may. My friend’s name is Anxiety and we’ve been in a toxic, uphill battle since November of 2016. Try as I may, wish as I might, she won’t leave me..and I’m still waiting.
In Ann’s book Still Waiting she shares vividly her journey with trichotillomania. She shares how months turned to years and years turned to decades of her fighting the urge to pull out her eyelashes and eyebrows- an effect of the viciousness of trich. Her words, oh Lord, they hit me at my core. Like the chapter where she describes waiting feeling like suffering and she says:
He knows. And he cares. He is a present and loving Savior. He sees you, and he understands your suffering. He knows the pain you’ve walked through and the days when it all seems impossible and you can barely put one foot in front of the other. God understands. Not one tear has been lost on him. Not a single one. Your suffering is as real to him as it has been to you. He knows what it has cost you, and he wants to comfort you in your pain.
Friends, I feel it. I’ve waited some days patiently, but most days impatiently, for God to take it away. There have been nights I’ve curled up in Ryan’s lap and arms like an infant child and said, “God could take my anxiety away tomorrow, but He doesn’t. He doesn’t take it away. And that makes me feel like He isn’t really all that good.” But each morning I wake up knowing His mercies are new with each sunrise.
This year has been better. Anxiety hasn’t been such a scary friend in 2018. I’m to the point in my journey where I no longer believe my numbed arms and my dizziness are signs of death. I’ve come to a point where I forcefully put myself in hard situations just to make it through. I’ve shared intimate things with my counselor that I’m afraid to tell any human soul. And I have healed some, but not fully.
As I slowly continued reading Ann’s book, my heart broke. I wanted God to fix Ann, too. I wanted Him to make her whole again. I wanted her to taste full healing. But when I read to the end- she didn’t. Ann still suffers with an urge to pull out her eyelashes and eyebrows and she is still journeying through it- years later. Oh, how I wish that wasn’t the truth.
I think the reason I’ve failed at my goals this year is because I’ve been so busy working so hard in other areas of my life. My anxiety is a lot better- although, not gone completely. I’m able to tolerate it. I’m able to lend ears, hands, arms, and words to those who are suffering alongside me and I’m not afraid anymore (except on airplanes and in elevators and in Target..). I’ve had to soak in the suffering this year. I’ve had to ask God to heal me every single day, knowing full well He may or He may not. So although I haven’t written a total of eight blog posts and I haven’t even made it 10% of my goal for reading twenty-five books this year, I’ve gained so much more.
Ann says something sweet when she says:
I am still learning that my weakness is a pathway to Jesus. That the ways I fail and the ways I don’t measure up actually act as a vehicle to meeting Jesus in my daily life.
… I am still waiting for healing, still waiting for wholeness in many areas of my life. I imagine that you are too. Whether it’s a broken body, a broken relationship, a broken heart, or a broken mind- we are all waiting in our weakness for someone bigger than we are to step in and help us.
So friends, as we wait together. Whatever you may be crushing- whether it be goals or not, or whatever you may be failing at- may we fail unapologetically together as we open our eyes and hearts to the bigger purpose. What if our brokenness, the healing that hasn’t come is really just a door God hasn’t opened because we aren’t ready for what’s on the other side? What if our brokenness is just a direct pathway to His heart?
Praying for you weak, and weary, and suffering friends.
You are LOVED.
But I can tell you truthfully, with all my heart, that the Bleeding Woman and I are both recipients of grace. It was grace for her to be healed, grace abundant and merciful. And for today, it is grace for me not to be healed.
Look for more blog posts coming soon! ❤
I won this book from an Instagram friend, Mindy. It was a blessing and joy to sink deep into it.
It’s true. My husband and I have been married a whole year (a little less when I started writing this), but still. 365 days together as Mr. + Mrs. At the very least 365 laughable moments together, but so much more than that. I’m delighted to be able to document and share with you all what our first year of marriage has taught us.
Your spouse doesn’t want to hurt you.
It’s true. I remember the night we got married, driving back to our first night together, and I legitimately snapped at Ryan for something so small. Sitting next to him writing this I actually leaned over and said, “Do you remember why we were upset with each other?” Neither of us can remember the story in full, but something about me misjudging a situation and immediately making him a bad guy. You see, friends, I think that we can unexpectedly react out of a place of hurt sometimes, but we don’t intentionally mean to hurt our spouse. There hasn’t been a day, yet, where I’ve woken up with the intentions of being mean to my husband. No, my intentions are always good, but my feelings aren’t always. We all know what they say about feelings dictating actions- it just isn’t always positive. I don’t long to make my husbands days harder, and he doesn’t intend to do that to me, but coupled with circumstances and hardships, sometimes our worst selves are spewed onto our spouses in a rapid fire of hurt. We’ve come so far from this which brings me into our next thing we’ve learned this year..
Marriage is a daily rhythm of “I’m sorry”, “I love you”, and “I forgive you”.
So I said that we’ve come a long way from car rides home in an argument over something small, and maybe we have, but perhaps a greater part of us has just gotten better with our loving versus fighting words. I cannot count the amount of times either my husband or I have apologized and asked for forgiveness, and I hope I can never count the hefty amount of times we’ve reminded each other of our love for one another. Maybe marriage isn’t about fighting less, but maybe it’s about learning to apologize more. I used to over- apologize for small things, like burning a piece of toast, and I’ve come a way since then, but it is still a rhythm I have to push into often to make sure that I’m apologizing and asking for forgiveness when I hurt my husband unexpectedly. And “I love you”- well that should be said almost as often as you breathe. When you wake up in the morning, when you hit the snooze for the fifth time (here’s to looking at you, babe!), when you leave and get back home, when you’re saddened by something or joyful over something else. I love you. Three words that never lose their weightiness in a committed marriage.
Saying yes to marriage is like saying yes to allowing your sin to be exposed (just be prepared).
I used to think I was a pretty nice girl…until February 4th, 2017. In this last year of marriage, I have been made fully aware of my sinfulness by my husband and convicted of my behaviors by the Spirit, as well. You think you’re doing okay, but then all of the sudden, you get mad about something small or you do the same thing you said you wouldn’t do again. There are days when I’m made so aware of just how ugly of a character I can have- where I’m consistently nagging, complaining, and plain, down right annoying. Now I don’t want you to assume that my husband is an angry man who just picks out all of my bad things- absolutely not- but being married to him and living in such close proximity with another human has brought so many of my shortcomings to awareness. Yes, I’m probably always going to take too long of showers, not be prompt with cleaning the skillet (it’s hard), be obsessive over the budget, give my husband one too many six-year-old-like reminders. These are things I’m just going to do because I have faults- and big ones, but marriage will make you so much more aware than you ever dare to dream.
You will fall more in love with your spouse than you knew possible.
It’s true- I sit here 11 months and some odd days away from a year of marriage and I can’t believe how many times I still look at Ryan and think “I married the most amazing man!” or “I don’t know if I can love you more”. I once read about how your wedding day is kind of like touching your toes in an ocean and with every passing year, the waves of love just continue to build. I can’t imagine how I’ll feel next year.
Laundry and grocery shopping and chores won’t get done themselves.
If you can even believe it- they don’t. Marriage is a team effort. Nobody in the marriage should be greater or more in control. Ryan and I have had to seek the Lord’s help with this so much. Both of us are natural leaders in certain areas of our lives and although it can be so sweet, it also has brought out some of the most challenging of times in our marriage. I have cried over all three of the above bolded things. Now, a year later, we’re down to a sort-of rhythm and are more restful with our time. We choose things that are live-giving and restful, so when it comes to chores and household duties, we have specific time set apart for that. We want to cultivate our hours together well which means prioritizing what needs to come first, next, and last. What laundry, grocery shopping, and chores have really taught me is how to prioritize my time well.
Make time for the real, life-giving things.
This has been huge for us. We like to sit down on Sunday nights and outline our weeks ahead- being mindful of times when we’ll need to rest and times when we’ll need to snuggle in and spend time together. Life is busy, and I truly believe life will continue to be busy and that busy will take all different shapes and sizes as the years continue. What I don’t want to happen is to forget the really good, really truly lovely things in life. One rhythm we have in our relationship is to make plenty of room for friends. I’m involved in a womens group, I spend most Monday nights with one of my closest friends, my husband always says “yes” to a sleepover with one of my gal pals, and I still pursue the things that bring me joy. For Ryan, this looks like basketball practice, mens group, coffee trips, and day trips by himself (something he really enjoys) or video games (I’m still learning how to be gracious and understanding on this one). When you make time for the life-giving things, when you make time for rest, and when you make time for each other, it feels like everything else just falls into place.
God created marriage to make us holy, not happy. [Essentially an idea taken from Sacred Marriage book by Gary Thomas].
So here’s the things. God didn’t create marriage for your happiness or for mine, but only for us to gain a greater understanding of Him and His love. At one point in the book, Gary says this, “The key question is this: Will we approach marriage from a God-centered view or a man-centered view? In a man-centered view, we will maintain our marriage as long as our earthly comforts, desires, and expectations are met. In a God-centered view, we preserve our marriage because it brings glory to God and points a sinful world to a reconciling Creator.” Ryan and I are committed to bringing Glory to the Lord through our marriage however possible. We long to paint a better image of His love to the people around us by praying for them, encouraging them, and inviting us into His love. This is so sweet, and I’m so grateful that we decided to be committed to others when we got married. If we were striving just for our own desires, we’d come up short each and every time. And this is why we strive alone for God’s best for us.
Thanks for reading along as I unpacked our first year of marriage! I pray this brings encouragement to whoever may read my words- silly and small as they may be. We are blessed by y’all. You give me passion to share my words.
This end of summer season is breathtaking and breathless all in the same. We are all exhausted from a summer full of adventure and life-giving activities. We’re intoxicated with sunshine and pool days (or maybe not- and you’re intoxicated with exhaustion). As the summer winds down, we all know- children or no children- that it’s back-to-school season. Back-to-school brings about many emotions and although for someone like me who has always loved school and even more now as a teacher, I think that this season can be difficult. Schedules are changing faster than we can update our iPhone calendars and we’ve officially lost track of the last day we’ve slept in, but school is starting and this is going to be our new normal. I wanted to take a few minutes to address a few different groups of people from the perspective of a teacher- because well, my family and friends could use “teacher help” from time-to-time, and I believe everyone could.
So first up, to the students: As a teacher, I need you to know- we’re absolutely obsessed with you! You have made our days so much bigger and brighter. You are the reason we wake up. We don’t arrive an hour before you come so that we can gladly go through data and have meetings and plan things. We get there early because we want everything to be perfect for you. We want you to walk into our classroom and shine your biggest and brightest light. Our longing and desire is for you to be grateful that a space has been created for you that is so evidently created with you in mind. It is my deepest apology if you haven’t met a teacher that you connected with or didn’t feel loved by. Those teachers are far and few between. Our hearts are for YOU + already- with a week away, we can’t sleep at night because we’re so excited to meet you.
A sweet student of mine from my first year teaching who I still stay in contact with!
And this little sweetie- she always brought a smile to my face in a year where I desperately needed it.
To the parents: Let’s just lay this out right away- your child’s teacher is never in it to make your year awful- at least not the teachers I know. You may not agree with us and that’s okay. It isn’t our job to make you agree with everything, but it is our job to do what we know to be best for your child. Your child is our main priority when they’re at school. Our aim is not to make you feel like they mean anything less to us (and trust me, we care about your children on the weekends, over winter and spring break, and most of all, over the summer). If you have a genuine concern for your child, please voice it and let us know how we can help. But I am sorry, we cannot be held responsible for your child “not having any homework on Tuesday because of dance, and not eating carrots, but really liking most vegetables, but only raw and please don’t forget that they like to rest their eyes from 2:05-2:16 every day because they are tired and of course please don’t forget that your husband travels every third week in every odd numbered month and of course we won’t call your cell phone from 10:00 am- 12:00 pm and even if it’s an emergency still don’t call, but if it’s a more serious one then do”. And on and on and on. If you’ve been a teacher for any amount of time, you’ve gotten this request from a parent. And parents, we LOVE you, but these standards are unmeetable. We are at school to teach your child the best that we can by teaching to the whole brain and body, by doing our best to meet their social, emotional, physical, and overall needs. We are for you. As we head into the school year, don’t forget that. If you feel as though loving your child’s teacher isn’t first nature to you, let me just give you a few standard ways to encourage your child’s teacher through the Love Languages framework.
- Start the year by asking your child’s teacher how you can best support them. They may tell you “I really could use help in the classroom” or they may say “Sometimes the days are long and I could really use an after school coffee”. You may be thinking already “but I don’t have a schedule where I can just help”- so let me break this down for you.
- If your child’s teacher is open to it- ask them what their love language is. Below I’ve outlined the five types, and if your child’s teacher doesn’t know, feel free to send them the online quiz or make your best call on which of the following fit the teacher.
- Acts of Service: This teacher just wants your help in the classroom. Offer to cut laminate or to come in to read with children. If you can’t make it during the day, ask the teacher if there is anything she needs cut in the evenings. Offer to do it for one hour a week or whatever capacity you may have.
- Gifts: Your child’s teacher may feel celebrated by a simple gift. It doesn’t have to be much. One parent I had in my classroom a few years ago would do simple gifts that meant so much! A coffee on a random Tuesday afternoon or a lip balm in the winter with a cute saying. Search Pinterest- they have you!
- Physical Touch: This isn’t really your job, but if your child is a hugger or if you are, when appropriate, feel free to express this.
- Words of Affirmation: Write your child’s teacher a card. Just a simple thank you for what they’re doing. Teachers like to know that they are seen and cared for. Send an email or a text (depending on your relationship). Even just a simple “thank you” at drop- off can mean so much.
- Quality Time: Spend time in your child’s classroom if you can. Maybe you can’t be there during the day, but ask if there is a way you can come visit once a month during your lunch break. Spend quality time with your child and their classmates- get to know their families and grow that community.
For my fellow teachers: The school year is coming and it can no longer be stopped. We will desperately miss summer- cooking meals at home for lunch, taking 10:00 am walks with friends, drinking our coffee while it’s hot, and feeling like we can finally be the wife, mom, sister, aunt, and friend that we’ve always longed to be through the school year. Another year will bring it’s own challenges, but can we all promise to be gracious to each other? To offer thanks to each other for being there in the hard times and to offer praises to each other when the school year is going well and exciting. Can we promise not to shame each other for the lack of meals we’ve cooked at home and the lack of commitment we can make throughout the school year? Can we randomly pick up a coffee for each other just to make it through the day with no specials? I need this and so you may need this, too, but we are in this together. I’ve been praying throughout the summer for all the teachers in my life- that they would rest well and that they would feel refreshed through the school year. I pray this is you. Let’s do this. Let’s love our students hard and let’s brag on each other like nobody’s business. We’re in this together and we can do it- if you’re me, you need the help of the Lord, but nonetheless, we CAN and we WILL do this. We will love students better than ever and we will attend all the professional days, do all the school book studies, make sure we meet our goals, and still love students while we do it. Praying for you and with you- we’ve got this.
My teaching partner last year! So grateful for her!
Some more sweet, teacher friends. These are the people we do life with. We need each other.
To Teacher’s Friends and Family: We are apologizing in advance. I know that every single summer I tell myself I’ll be better the next year. I’ll make sure that I save space for my family and friends and that I won’t become overcommitted, but this is extremely difficult. We want to make plans with you, but sometimes we’re exhausted. Would you just vow to be gracious to us and to give us encouragement continuously? We need it. We love you and are grateful for your support- in our busiest seasons and our slowest seasons. Schedule time with us, but don’t be discouraged if it isn’t for a few weeks or months. Let us fall asleep at 8:00 pm for a few weeks as we re-adjust (that’s for my husband 😉 ). Genuinely ask us how to pray for and care for our students. If you’re the husband or the dad, offer to make dinner just once or twice a week (we don’t care if it’s Dominos pizza- REALLY). Help keep us accountable to do the things we love- like maybe meeting with a friend once a week via phone call to make sure that they are still reading books for fun and still trying to crush goals that they started in the summer. We need you and are grateful for you.
And last, to anyone who works with youth- not JUST teachers: You are the best. We need more people willing to step up. My husband is a youth pastor and I can’t help but be amazed at the amount of care and compassion he has for students, too. Substitute teachers, school nurses, school staff, social workers, and everyone else- we see you and are so appreciative.
My own sweet youth group girls ❤
Friends, thank you for helping me unpack this. Helping me to process through how we can all support each other. I pray this is helpful for you in some small way and can’t wait to see what this year brings. We are in this together.
Teachers Here, There, + Everywhere.