Peace, be still.

Ever wondered what it’d be like to sit on a beach alone at 5:30 in the morning? It’s so dark that the white crests of the waves are the only way to tell where the sand stops and just becomes water. Every few seconds, the Bald Head Island lighthouse flickers white. The Big Dipper and Small Dipper, both above me in the big, dark sky – they are getting fainter now as the lavender light of the morning sun creeps in over the horizon. The tide is low and rough, and I can hear the swell and crash of every wave. The breeze is perfect and the air smells warm and salty. I wonder if there is anyone else out here.

Yesterday on my sunrise walk, I saw a woman sleeping. Pillow, beach towel, and peace are the three things I noticed. A few yards further, I saw a man meditating, his fingers connected to make a circle at the fronts of his shins, his eyes closed and his legs crossed. Again, peace.

It’s 6:09 now and much easier to see. I can read the words in my Bible without a flashlight. The sky looks like cotton candy and every time I pause from writing to look up, I see a new cloud.

I smile. Peace, once more.

I spot an animal down the beach and notice tracks beside me. Did this little guy walk past me and I missed him?

I see more people. Mostly alone. Some couples. Two parents with their young children. And then, they all stop to stare.

“Sonder” – the realization that each random passerby is living a live as vivid and complex as your own.

The same man I saw meditating yesterday was out again today, and I saw him walk closer to the shore to take a picture.

Being fully surrounded by the beauty of God’s creation…

Connecting all of the senses simultaneously in wonder and awe…

Just being still, knowing that a new day is beginning and having gratitude for the breath just taken…

That’s p e a c e.

Realizing that we have choices each day, the ability to choose joy and peace and love rather than sadness or anger or hate. Realizing that we can choose to be kind, no matter how others treat us, because negative people are suffering. Realizing that maybe a smile or kind word is what they need to turn their gaze the other way.

The choices we make craft our life, and if we aren’t careful we will spend our lives focusing on all that’s wrong and miss all that’s available, all that’s peaceful and all that’s beautiful.

May peace be with you today, and always.

#BeTheChange

Happy Mother’s Day

Life is profound. I’ve found myself using the word profound a lot lately. It perfectly describes too many situations for us these days.

Like the other night when Reid and I were fighting and everything around the room felt tense and impossible, my Amazon radio station that randomly shuffles over 200 songs, played 7 songs in a row that happen to be my favorite worship songs. They’re my favorites because for they’ve each spoken to my heart one or more times and I’m moved even still when I hear them. There are no coincidences in this life. God had my back (and my heart) in those moments.

Like the profound difference in my day I’ve noticed if I start it early. And in a place of praise and prayer. If I spend a few minutes outside inhaling Spring and watching the sun peek over the tops of the trees. If I read my Bible. If I journal. If I meditate. If I’m still. Those days — those days are different. Those days pay off for me and have a profound effect on what happens as the day goes on. On mornings when I rush through and get too wrapped up in my self, I lose my footing. I raise my voice. I cry.

When I started to see my prayers be answered, I had a profound sense of trust in God envelop me. When I hear the Holy Spirit tell me how to specifically pray for challenges I may be facing, I obey. I’ve seen a profound difference in my ratio of answered prayers to unanswered prayers from speaking my prayers out loud. Every morning in the shower, I talk to God. I thank him for giving me another morning. For the breath I just took and for the opportunity to be alive another day. I pray fervently for my husband. For my children. For the people in my life who I know are hurting. For healing. For comfort. For discernment. For wisdom. For strength. For JOY to fill my cup.

I’ve prayed for brokenhearted friends. I’ve prayed for strangers. I’ve prayed for broken marriages. I’ve prayed against generational curses and decades of sin and shame and unforgiveness that so many of us are suffering through. I’ve prayed for God to show me my spiritual gifts and how to use them. And I’ve prayed for those who need salvation to hear the gospel before this all ends.

I’ve prayed that I can see others as God sees them, and to just love no matter what. I’ve prayed that those around me could do the same.

God’s been doing profound work in our lives.

But yesterday, I had a moment with Everly that may take the cake. Reid and Sadler were out shopping for Mother’s Day gifts, and we were in Everly’s room putting away laundry. She was playing with her doll and spinning around and singing. And all of a sudden she stopped and asked me to open her PlayDo. And as I watched her from the rocking chair, it hit me. The profound realization that my baby was no longer a baby. But bigger than that, we were done having babies.

I’d rocked my last to sleep.

No more Onesies. Or diapers.

No more breastfeeding…

After 29 months, she finally weaned. We were finished nursing. The “boombas” have been given back to mommy.

The profound realization that I had seen the last of mothering a baby. I began to weep. I immediately grabbed her, picked her up and held her tight. I sat in the rocker as she fought me to get down. I asked her to please let me hold her, for just one minute as we rocked. She reached up and grabbed my face and said, “Mommy, are you OK?”

I lost it. My baby just asked me a question in a complete sentence. I sobbed and sobbed and kissed her and it seemed that every blinking moment with my babies that I have ever had passed through my lens. I saw all the good moments, all the challenging moments, all the times when I thought parenting couldn’t be any harder. All the times when I felt less engaged that I could have been, or the times I was frustrated and wished myself anywhere but in that given moment.

I didn’t want to put her down. What was only about 5 minutes seemed as long as two nap times. I imagined every afternoon I had in that rocking chair with her, burying my face in her neck as she drifted off to sleep. I remembered the evening standing in the laundry room, when I was about 6 months pregnant with her, that I told Reid we had made a mistake bringing another child into the world. That our marriage wasn’t strong enough and that it would be unfair for her to come into the world.

Little did I know that giving birth to her would be the start of a journey I’d been viewing from the sidelines. I didn’t get in the game with my spirituality until she was born. That in her two short years here, our marriage would crumble and then strengthen. God has had his hand on our marriage. Realizing and seeing and trusting that has been profound.

Motherhood started for me with a scapula and lots of tugging and pulling. That was how Sadler came along Earth side. With Everly, it was different. She blessed me with the ultimate gift of motherhood being born vaginally. She opened something spiritual within me and awakened my soul. And what a profound blessing from God she is.

These girls are amazing wonders to me. I look at them in deep, profound wonder on most days. But it will never be enough. Parenting is hard, and it’s easy to think you aren’t doing it good enough when there is a giant comparison trap in society. I’d rather they have good hearts than snobby attitudes. I’d rather they be giving than selfish, and I’d rather they be kind than cruel. I pray they always see the good in people and that they will find their passions and what calls them. I pray they will live. I pray they will love. I pray that Reid and I can speak life into them every day that they are breathing, and I pray that they will grow up to be the best of friends.

I’ve got a profound gratitude for all of the mothers out there. Mothers make new mothers, and even if it’s the hardest job we’ll ever love, motherhood should be cherished. When the days seem harder than they should, and nothing goes the way we’d planned, may we all just surrender and thank God he gave us the chance to be a mother in the first place.

Happy Birthday. Welcome to Now.

One year ago yesterday, I shared my very first blog post on this site. I actually bought this laptop for the sole purpose of starting this blog.

It wasn’t the first time I had written on the internet; I had a Tumblr account that I piddled with once-upon-a-time. But, when this site was born last February, it was different.

I’d been pulled in a direction that led me to write again, but this time, it’d be different. I had recently made the decision to leave my career to stay at home and be a mom. I felt God telling me to be patient and not to worry, but to slow down. I knew I’d have to find ways to make money from home and did a little bit of research on making money through blogging. But that wasn’t what was important to me. I was eager to walk in my truth and tell my story.

I felt called to put my creative gifts and love for communication and passion for inspiring others to the test, creating the ultimate trifecta. Writing gave me life and fulfillment and sprinkled pure joy in my days. (I pray it always will.)

What may come as a surprise, however, is that when I get the urge to write, it stops me in my tracks. My blog post ideas l i t e r a l l y come out of nowhere, and I usually have to stop what I am doing and go write. And the not-so-cool part about it is: I can’t stand writing from my phone or tablet. It MUST be on a laptop or something with keys. That I can aggressively and quickly bang (ask my new co-workers/roommates or darling husband, they will attest to my annoyingly loud typing. Bless them all for their tolerance.) But my point is, I have to get to my computer, dial up my diffuser and get busy. I’m not much of a mobile blogger much at all. Ever, really.

But y’all. I can’t help it. I just get moved to say stuffAll the feels. ALL THE JOY.

When I opened my laptop to pull up WordPress to write this post tonight, I noticed a folder on my desktop that I created a few months ago: “Things That Move Me”.

I only saved one thing in it…

Hugh Laurie

This quote says so much about my journey last year. There was so much uncertainty and many faith-based decisions. I had no idea when I started this blog what it’d lead to. I just figured I’d inconsistently write when I felt the urge. I wrote each post from the heart and was sincerely moved by each opportunity to share my journey with a friend or stranger.

Writing became my safe space. My release. My peace.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think that 2,220 people would view my site 3,288 times in 27 countries all over the world in just one year. Goodness gracious, am I grateful.

I’m deeply touched for each blink of an eye that my words sit between. I appreciate each kind remark and comment. It’s been an honor to share my heart with you.

To think about all that’s happened since this blog began brings me back to grace, and gratitude, and awestruck wonder. God’s led me into deeper waters. I never want to feel like I’ve arrived, but I sure do long for more.

If there is one thing I know for sure, it’s that this time of year is just not my best. I battle darkness during this season each year of my life. I’m certain lots of us do. I’m thankful that things like writing and hot yoga and coffee and worship music bring me back to life on tough days.

Here is to Spring being around the corner.  But for now, may we ride the wave of this season together and keep our eyes on what we can’t see. There’s beauty there.

309 Days

Do you know what the word epiphany means? Lots of us have heard it. Used it. But do you r e a l l y know? It’s an experience of sudden and striking realization. When you figure something out, almost always out of thin air, and the thought comes to you that allows you to finally piece together the puzzle.

Was the cup half full? Or was it half empty?

It doesn’t really matter, because the cup was refillable…

It had been 309 days. That’s how long I lasted as a stay-at-home-Mom.

I started this post on December 5th and it hasn’t been touched since then. I started writing it the night before I went back to work as I laid in bed. I fell asleep without finishing it. Since then, I’ve often thought about what I would write when I picked it back up again.

And in my mind, I honestly didn’t have a strong pull for what direction this post should even go next. Should I write about how incredible my new job is? How it was the first job posting I read on that cold Sunday November afternoon (just days after deciding to go back to work) and when I read through the job description, I felt deep in my bones that it was meant for me? And how I got so excited about getting called for an interview, that I took my kids for ice cream before dinner?

Or should I write about the guilt part? The part about feeling invisible on many of my days as a SAHM, or the part about feeling guilty for feeling like I need to be seen in the first place?

The reason why I was hung up on finishing this blog post was because the part I was meant to tell in this story hadn’t happened yet…

As I rocked Everly to sleep tonight, in our favorite spot in the house, I started to cry. I could hear her tiny snore and closed my eyes as I rested my lips on the top of her head. The smell of her fresh bath, the limp weight of her sleeping body against my chest. I didn’t want to put her down.

It was tonight that I became overwhelmed with gratitude for the days I had with her. For all the afternoons we had together as we walked to school to pick up Sadler from Kindergarten.

For all the musical story times in the park we got to attend with Mr. Pete, and for all the fun Costco trips, eating samples and smiling at strangers.

It was tonight that I realized how much more engaged I’ve felt with my girls since I went back to work. I felt it the very first night; I remember that first night vividly. I couldn’t stop smiling. I remember noticing that I looked more at the details of their faces.

It was tonight that I recalled the moment I had my epiphany, and how I’d come to realize that my time home with my girls gave them more quantity time with me, but certainly not more quality time. I had allowed myself to become a martyr to my home, my chores, my expectations as a wife, my role as a mother. I wasn’t happy, and I was in denial about it.

It was tonight that I realized how grateful I am for every experience I had last year. For every bit of perspective that was gained. For every book that was read. For every new person that I met. For every old friend that I reconnected with, and for every (sometimes) long winded phone conversation. For e v e r y s i n g l e minute I shared with my children. For every essential oil class I taught. For MOPS. For it all –I am, and will forever be grateful.

It was tonight that I smiled when I thought to myself, “I love my new job.” I am grateful for the wonderful people I work with and for the deep level of engagement each of my co-workers pours into in their roles. I love the energy in our office and that everyone has a good sense of humor. I love that I’m connected again with my property management family, and that I’ve met so many kind people on our site teams and in our corporate office. And although its been less than sixty days, I feel like I’ve worked there for months.

It was tonight that I acknowledged the rhythm that my husband and I seem to have found. The parenting balance that seems to feel a little gentler, a little more predictable, a little more whole.

It was tonight that I acknowledged never to take another day for granted, and that something as simple as a lunch break with adults five days a week can make you feel like a real human again.

There really is so much I could say about this new chapter in my story, and how the pages even turned to this point in the first place. If you had told me a mere season ago that I’d be back at work by year end, I would have probably rolled my eyes, and maybe even debated with you.

I will forever remember 2017 as the year I “woke up”. The year I grew closer to God and slowed down. The year I deepened in spirit and the veil was lifted. The year that I came alive to the awareness of what it means to truly be in your life path and followed my spiritual GPS. The year I gained wisdom of the power of the spoken word, learned the critical importance of gratitude, meditation, and how to better take care of my body.

And, most importantly, it was the year I had the privilege of being at home with my children. To be a Mama. To be a part of their every day, from start to finish. Every good day, every bad day. Every new experience, every memory, every adventure. We had an incredible year together and it’s one I will remember for the rest of my life.

My heart is full tonight.

I’ve got all the feels.

I chose joy then, and there isn’t a doubt I still do. Every day.

Balance.

Day four of Kindergarten is in the books. Sadler couldn’t be happier right now in these moments of her life.

 I’ve had all the feels this week about this whole starting school thing.

Filling out the form, using only 5 words to describe my only 5-year-old…my baby. I had never truly thought of words to describe her before. Just last week as we rode in the car, Reid and I gave our input on who we saw our daughter to be; I was filling in her name, and her strengths and weaknesses, and her “hot buttons”. It was heartwarming to come up with the best five words that we thought described our girl, together: STRONG-WILLED, KIND, TENDERHEARTED, LEADER, INTELLIGENT.

As I wrote the words in the paper, I began to cry. Who were we talking about here? Sadler, or me?

It’s so hard as a parent (at least for me at this place in my journey) when you see things in your children, qualities about them, similarities in their behavior, predictability in how they’ll answer questions…and you feel like you’re looking in the mirror.

I’ve coming to learn and accept that I am my own best teacher, but this little girl runs a real tight second. She teaches me things about myself, and I try to teach her things about herself because I just know how she sees life. Sometimes it’s as if we share the same eyes.

She speaks my language. She gets me and I get her. I feel so incredibly lucky that she is mine. 

But I want her to find her way in her way. I don’t ever want to be a tug of influence, but rather a beam of guidance that just leads her there, on her own.

She’s a 1. I’m a 1, too. 

So I know for her, it can seem like we are the only ones with the only way. Our hearts are protected yet open, and our ideas are bigger than us it seems. Yet we know we can always push harder. 

It’s been a struggle this week. Finding balance between being a good stay-at-home-mom and a servant leader/CEO to my newly-blossoming essential oil business. Can’t I do both?

Time-blocking. When I have (let’s be real, when I make) the time to actually block the time. It happens sometimes. We’ll call it 50 percent.

Meditating (actually just discovered Light Sourcing by Rebecca Campbell in her INCREDIBLE BOOK, “Light is the New Black”). My mornings have become my favorite time of the day for more reasons than this one. 

Hot yoga when I have someone to watch the girls (aka – when Reid gets home from work or really early on Saturday mornings). I’d go every single day if it were possible. It’s my sanctuary. 

  Lots of oils. I love and find comfort in knowing than whenever things get heavy, I can count on my oils for safety and solace. They usually change the game for me so profoundly that I’m moved to tell someone or make a Facebook live video about my experience. 

Affirmations. Written on a whiteboard, to be repeated each morning. Out loud. Because I know the power of the spoken word. 

Lots of deep personal development through books. Mindset transformations about money and budgeting.  Journaling.

I’m doing so many of the things. I’ve created so many positive habits. Yet, I still find myself feeling out of balance. 

Unsteady. Ungrounded. 

Flailing. 

I’m learning to soften into who I am. We all need to. 

I’m so worried about getting it all done that I can’t lose sight of what I’m doing it all for. 

I’ve prayed for answers for quite some time now. Shortly after (and sometimes during), I look up to see a squirrel balancing along the power line right in front of me. It’s like he comes out of thin air. I see that as God telling me to keep my footing, just one in front of the other. Slow and steady. 

Because as the old Chinese proverb goes, “Be not afraid of going slowly; be only afraid of standing still.”

Why Yoga is Life

Today was hard. This week has been hard. This month has been hard.

Life has seemed hard.

I will be the first to admit, unabashedly so, that being a stay-at-home mom is HARD.

It is everything more than I ever imagined it could be, and nothing like I imagined it would be.

I’m waking up earlier today than I ever have before — intentionally. And it feels like Christmas  morning, every day. I cherish my time, my space, my quiet, my stillness. I need that time.

I’ve been going to Revolution Hot Yoga since the last day of my maternity leave with Everly. I’ve never stayed so consistently loyal to a place like this, and have felt comfortable in my own skin inside those walls since my very first visit.

Anytime life gets really hard, I want to practice hot yoga. I crave it.

I’ve become addicted to the heat and the sweat and the release. It’s an hour of space amidst the chaos of life where I truly let go, something I don’t do in real life much at all it seems.

My body has become supple. It has become strong. I feel beautiful.

Tonight’s class was the best, most intimate and sacred class I have ever had. Hands down, in all of the yoga practice I’ve had in all of my years, tonight was bigger.

Rebecca felt us. Not just me, she felt us.

She felt all the junk we were carrying, and the loads we beared, as we all walked through the doors with smiles on our faces and all pretended to be okay.

She brought an awareness to the room of all the color, and talked us through releasing energy and letting go. She talked real talk, but in the most beautifully woven song of words that forced us not to force, but to really let go.

For the first time ever in my practice, sweat came out of my eyeballs. It felt peaceful, and literally washed away some of the weight I brought in with me.

“Find your tribe, lightly. Follow your heart, lightly. Let your voice be heard, lightly.”

Eyes closed. Music soft. The room was still as she guided us.

Deep breaths in…deep breaths out.

Yoga is breathing.

Breathing is life.

Yoga is life.

photo credit: scullyfit.com
I’m so thankful that yoga has led me to meditation. (I read somewhere recently that meditation may truly be more effective than medication. I wouldn’t be surprised in the least.)

I truly believe, that our mind and body and spirit, they are all ONE. They are all connected, and they are affected by each other, and they move through one other.

We impose limitations on ourselves in life based on our past experiences, fears, self-doubt and judgments of others. These limitations keep us from being our best. They keep us in boxes, under the bed. They dim our lights, and feed our ego.

Yoga is my way of releasing those limitations, even if for just sixty minutes; but for those sixty minutes, I feel myself being gentle with myself. And I trust my body. And I don’t care what anyone thinks about how I look in my pose or how deep my stretch is.

I go inward. 

As the within, so the without, right? What lies inside is what lives outside. The answers aren’t out in the material world; for the best teacher we have is our self. Look in the mirror, you’ll see.

I’m no master, but self-discovery is tasty. Life’s color is brighter when you take a little time to be still. I know I have so many more layers to peel.

I turn 36 in January and have decided that I want to go on a yoga retreat for my birthday. A long weekend of peace, tranquility, stillness and lots of yoga is just what I want most as I enter a new year of life.

I am open to suggestions of places to visit, do you have a favorite?

 

Reflections: Motherhood for Me

Something salpingitis. That’s what I remember my doctor saying to me. She was young like me, so the tears in her eyes as she told me made sense to me. But I still didn’t understand. Having children on my own would be very difficult because my fallopian tubes were blocked? I’m sorry, what do you mean exactly? I remember getting in the car and sobbing. We knew we wanted to have a family, and we had already discussed adoption if it truly wasn’t in our plan to have our own children. But I was devastated to think of the possibility.

God proved that doctor wrong and we became pregnant with Sadler in 2011. When we found out we were pregnant, I will never forget the way that I felt. I felt happier and more excited than ever before! I quickly became washed with the gift of motherhood and made my body a temple to prepare for the precious child God would bless us with.

We wanted a boy. I really wanted a boy. I even knew what I wanted to name him. I remember being in the tiny ultrasound room, my parents and Reid’s parents circled the room as we all patiently waited for the technician to tell us. When she said it was a girl…I wept. I think to this day everyone in the room except for my husband thought I was weeping tears of joy. In reality, the tears were fear and disappointment. I felt guilty for being sad that it wasn’t a boy. But deep down, I feared I wouldn’t know how to be a mother to a girl. My mother and I didn’t have the closest of relationships throughout my life, and while I love my mother dearly and am thankful for the journey we rode because it has undoubtedly led me to who and what I am today — I was scared.

Sadler Mae was born on July 12, 2012 via cesarean because she was breach. Her umbilical cord prolapsed while I was being prepped for delivery and what was a normal procedure turned into an emergency situation in the blink of an eye. My husband was still in the hall being scrubbed in when they made the incision to get her out. The anesthesia hadn’t fully kicked in. I wanted my husband’s hand to hold. I wanted his eyes to look into. Within a few seconds, he stood before me, and I don’t think either of us was breathing. We just locked eyes and cried as the doctors and nurses worked to get Sadler out of my body. She was lodged under my ribcage and it took lots of force and unexpected positioning to get her out. And then, the sweetest most anticipated sound my ears ever did wait to hear. She cried. And I breathed. And my life was changed forever.

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In January of 2015 I turned 33 and for a birthday gift, someone very special to me took me to see a spiritual advisor. I had been to one once before as a teenager, and honestly didn’t know what to expect as we walked in. One of the things that came up during our conversation was whether or not I would be blessed with another child. Reid and I knew we wanted another child, and I really still wanted to have a son. I had dreamt of my baby Dax. I had seen his face before and held him in my arms. So when I told this to the spiritual advisor that day, I felt the look in her eye but wouldn’t fully understand until a few months later. She gently smiled and told me that “soon enough” I would be pregnant again and reminded me to be patient with God’s plan.

I found out I was pregnant with another baby girl in June of 2015 and Everly Jean was born on December 27. She and I rocked out an amazing vaginal delivery, which was something I wanted more than I even realized until it actually happened. It was intense and long and difficult and painful. But there is no doubt in my mind that the second this child exited my body and joined our family earth side, a spiritual gate opened within my soul and my life became bright with colors I’d never seen before.

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I’ve thought often about my conversation with the spiritual advisor that day, and after connecting the dots in some of my own intuition I now believe that we did get our baby Dax. He was living inside me at some point in my life. However, God had Everly held for us and she was waiting. It wasn’t in the plan for baby Dax to be mine on Earth. But it was most certainly his divine plan to give me Everly.

I am weeping as I type this, because I am filled with so much emotion through this realization. We often think we have it all figured out, but we are small in the grand scheme of everything. God has a bigger plan for us all, and doctor’s don’t know everything. Life is a gift and a miracle.

 

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I will celebrate being a mother every day that I’m alive. I enjoyed a beautiful Mother’s Day weekend with my two daughters and husband picking strawberries and just loving on each other. It’s the little things that reset my perspective of my purpose. I’m grateful for these moments.