The Middle of Nowhere: How I Learned to Love More

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Have you ever felt like you needed to slow down and love more? Then this post is for you! I just came back from visiting my parents, who live in the middle of nowhere. While there, I was able to slow down and learn how to love more! I would love for you to check out my newest post on my new website! My website is a work in progress, but I would love for you to be a part of my new adventure!  Be sure to sign up to receive weekly to bi-weekly inspiration!  Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to share the love!

 

Stopping the Hate Talk: 5 ways to a Better You!

When you look in the mirror, what do you see?

“I hate my hair, my arms, my legs.” I look so fat in these pants.” Why can’t I look like that other girl? She always looks so perfect; she makes me sick. ” If I had all the money in the world and could afford a personal trainer, I could look like that too.”

How many times do we say these things to ourselves or about others? Why are we so degrading to ourselves and other women? It doesn’t matter your age: young girl, teenager, young adult, older adult, pre baby body., post baby body. When does it stop? When do you decide that you are enough and that God made you the way you are. As a teenager, I thought myself pretty; I thought myself confident. It wasn’t until middle adulthood that I started to doubt myself. There have been plenty of times that I have looked in the mirror and thought that I did not like the way I looked. Part of my problem is that I have not been treating my body right and I have had two babies and it really does change your body! What do you hate about yourself? What do you love about yourself? Which one do you think about the most?

Self-worth is defined as the sense of one’s own value or worth as a person; self esteem; self respect. Do you place value in yourself? Do you have respect for yourself? Do you think of yourself as worthy and beautiful?

All this self degrading hate talk stops here. IT STOPS HERE!I challenge you here-forth that when you look in the mirror you find one thing you like about yourself, just one. Daily. Yes, DAILY!

There is nothing that can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8: 31-39), but He still wants us to take care of ourselves and our bodies. The following things help me to take care of myself and help me feel good about my own self-esteem.

1.GET UP AND MOVE!  Whether it is taking a brisk walk around the neighborhood, an aerobics video in the comfort of your home, or training for a race, get up and move. Start TODAY! Even ten minutes a day can make a difference. Make it work. Maybe that means climbing stairs during a short break at work or parking in the furthest parking lot. Sometimes, for me that means having a dance party with my 3 year old. Or I have an aerobic app on my phone that lets me choose 5 to 10 minute increments. Sometimes my 3 year old and 5 month old join in the fun. One ting I’m going to try in the next few weeks is running before my husband leaves for work!

2. EAT HEALTHY! Of course there are lots of arguments about what is the best diet or supplement our there. Think before you eat! Is this particular food going to make me feel good or energized? I’m not saying to never have that piece of chocolate, I’m just suggesting you think twice about it. This is definitely one of my biggest challenges. I have a huge sweet tooth! It’s about lifestyle change. While I don’t follow it strictly and I am not an expert, my personal belief is that a plant based diet is best for health and energy. Commit to make a change. Just eating more veggies and fruit can make a difference! Progress not perfection!

3. CHALLENGE YOUR MIND! Take time to learn. Read, whether an actual book, a website, eBooks, newspaper, or a magazine. The world is full of great minds. You are one of them!

4. FEED YOUR SOUL! This is the most important point. Make time to pray or read your Bible and talk to God. I try to get up before my children in order for this to happen. Now lately, that has not gone like I planned. I have an almost 6 month old who wakes up in the middle of the night, and well, I am grumpy if I don’t get enough sleep. On those days, I try to read while I’m nursing him. Many times I’m praying in the car on my way to work. Those two things, especially the prayer, make a huge difference in how my the rest of my day goes, and how I feel about myself as a person. I am a much better mom, wife, and friend, when I make time to pray and read God’s word. End of story.

5. TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF! I don’t care what that looks like or how much time you say you don’t have. For me it looks like time to write or time for a hike, a walk around the neighborhood, sipping on a hot cup of tea or coffee on my back deck. Coffee or lunch or breakfast with a friend, even if it has to be over the phone. Perhaps you can wake up 10 minutes before the rest of your house, just to sip and drink your coffee. Maybe once a month, you can find a babysitter or your significant other can watch the children, and you can go get coffee, by yourself or with a close friend. Find a  walking partner. Train for a race with your co-workers. Sometimes, I take an extra long shower because that may be the only time I have had to myself that day. I breathe in the steam and take pleasure in the solitude and not having to explain what I’m doing. Everybody leaves you alone when you are in the shower (most of the time).

Challenge yourself to love more. We don’t need all the hate talk. Life is hard enough without being so mean to ourselves

What are some tips you have on increasing self-worth?

Thanks for reading! Please share with those extraordinary women you think need a reminder of how awesome they are!

I have purchased my own website now, so I will be getting away from word press and starting my blog over there! It’s still a work in progress, so be sure to join me at ExtraOrdinary Living  to see what adventures lie ahead.

 

8 Life Lessons I Learned From My Toddler

DSC_0403 (2)I now have a three year old!  I can’t believe it!  Sometimes I feel like I am looking at someone else’s life. I honestly was never the girl that dreamed of the kind of kids she would have, and even if I would have kids. I never thought about what kind of mother I would be. I honestly really never liked kids, and if I’m being honest, I’m still not crazy about other people’s kids (I do like most of my friends’ children, most of the time). Sometimes I wonder if I am a good enough mother. Sometimes I’m lazy. Sometimes I get impatient or frustrated and yell or say things I shouldn’t say. In spite of all that, I believe I am the perfect parent for my children. And more and more, I understand a little of the unconditional love our heavenly Father has for us.

“‘For I know the plans I have for you’, says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'” Jeremiah 29:11

God has a plan for me and for my children, this I know. I have to remind myself almost every day. There are days when my beautiful Sophia is very tiring and challenging and exhausting. She is headstrong and fiercely independent. (I can’t imagine where she picked up that personality trait!.. Must be from her daddy. 🙂 )   She has taught me so much in her short 3 years of life!

Lesson 1: Sometimes you need to just be silly.

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Sophie is a jokester. We used to ask her, “What color is this?”  For awhile, the only thing she would respond with was “Orange!”  She knew the colors! That was her 2 year old self teasing us!  Another joke she says, “I’m BeBe”, or I’m “Uncle Matt”, and then now she follows it with “You’re Daddy”, or “You’re Max” (Max is our dog!)  She has a mischievous little glint in her eye while she’s saying these things too. Sophie loves to be tickled. She loves being thrown up in the air, loves hide and seek. If we can’t go outside, she will run in circles around our dining room table. She makes me laugh.

We need to let ourselves laugh. We need to remember what it was like to just be silly.

Lesson 2: Be Persistent!

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This past summer, we made the transition to a big girl  bed. Now that she can get out of bed freely, she will literally knock or bang stuff on the door. It’s really quite funny and difficult to not go back to her room. She is a world champion at bedtime stalling!  I have to give her props for creativity. “I need some water!” “Lie down with me!” (with big blue pleading eyes!), “I need to put my babies to sleep”. “I need to read” . She even uses prayer time as a means to stall her bedtime. If we have taken away story and song time because she is not listening, then she pulls the prayer card. She knows mommy wants her to pray!

The point is: While we don’t need to  give in to our children’s every demand, we can learn from their persistence.  If you want something, keep trying! Don’t let a few no’s (or a few hundred) stop you from pursuing your passions or dreams.

Lesson 3: Sometimes you just need to let it out!

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Oh, we have had our share of tantrums and fits!  Screaming in a restaurant, screaming in the store, you name it, we have had it.  How about the time she laid down at the train station, no wait, the cell phone store, no, the consignment store, and just had a textbook tantrum and sit down!  Oh, yes, my Sophie has a temper.

And talk about drama! Once, after a trip to the community pool, Sophie fell and scratched her knee while walking back to our car. Drama central!  After the drama settled, she wanted a Dora band aid, but when I tried to put it on her knee, she screamed. Then she just held it the whole ride home.

Okay, so maybe you and I are past the tantrum phase, but don’t you want to just let it all out and scream and stomp your feet and cry sometimes?!  Well, maybe we can’t scream and stomp our feet (unless you are completely by yourself, then I say, go for it!). However, it is  probably not the best example to teach our children in order to launch them into functional adults.  However, it is okay to accept a hug or want someone to kiss your hurt away. It’s okay to dry your tears on someone else’s shoulder. The point is: Stop being so independent! It is OKAY to ask for help. It’s okay to cry.

Lesson 4:  Sometimes a girl just needs to look good.

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Sophie  loves trying on shoes. I can’t tell you how many times I would walk in her room after nap time to find shoes and clothes, and toys EVERYWHERE!  She would take hair bands and use them as necklaces or for awhile she was attached to hats. She would wear them constantly, even sleeping with them.

Sometimes you just need to dress up a little. We should dress up, not to impress others, but just to remember how beautiful we are.

Lesson 5:  Life is about what happens everyday in the little moments!

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For all of Sophie’s challenges and tantrums, there are more than enough sweet moments. Like the time when she handed me my tucks during my pregnancy with our son (both embarrassing and sweet), or how she is with her baby brother, constantly loving on him, kissing him, and helping me mother him. Or when she spontaneously gives me a kiss or “helps” with chores (she can help unload the dishwasher and put clothes in the dryer! Sometimes she even sweeps! She loves to hold the dustpan for me!). Or how she “cooks” with her pretend food. How she loves to make baby brother laugh and share stories and tummy time with him. Or how she tugs at our heart strings every time she asks us to lie down with her. Or the times when she asks for a “big hug”.  Once, after I gave William his  bath, I turned my back for one second, and next thing I knew Sophie was bathing her baby dolls. All Ican do sometimes is laugh.

For all the bad moments there are 10,000 more good ones. We  can learn from the bad moments, but we need to cherish the good moments. After all, people don’t usually take pictures of the bad moments (although I think that is warranted sometimes!). Our pictures are of the happy moments. You don’t usually remember the tantrums and attitude between the pictures.

Lesson 6:  Life is Messy!

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Life is Messy.  From throwing up in the doctor’s office and in the car and all over me. (all three of these happened last year!), life is messy. From snotty noses and ear infections, life is messy. From spilled drinks and dumped over cheerios, life is messy. (thank goodness for dogs!). From tear stained faces to skinned knees and new scars, life is messy. From emptying out all the drawers to emptying the toy boxes, life is messy.  Life is Messy! Let it go and keep making messes!

Lesson 7:  Celebrate the little successes!

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My Sophie finally went poo in the potty! It has been a long time coming! I dare say, we may be done buying pull-ups! (at least day time ones) If you are a mom, you know how exciting this is! It was all I could do to restrain myself from posting it all over social media! I did text almost all my close friends and family! We celebrated this feat with ice cream and a toy.

That’s how toddlers are, they celebrate little things, like putting their shoes or pants on all by themselves. Or finally figuring out how to open the doors! Or putting that last puzzle piece together. Let’s take a lesson from our toddlers and celebrate the little successes. Like doing prayer/bible time even once or twice a week. Or maybe it is making it somewhere on time! How about getting noticed for a job well done. Picking up a few pieces of trash (that’s one less piece of trash!) Or finally learning to parallel park. Perhaps, it is making one person smile. Or making it to bed on time. Or making it through the day without killing your children.

Little successes add up to make a big difference!

Lesson 8: You are capable of so much more than you realize!

Do you know how many times Sophie has done things  I didn’t think she knew how to do?  Like the time she opened our screen door and walked outside, BY HERSELF with the dog! (we have no fence and we live on a steep hill!) Or the time she started drinking out of a regular cup.  Or  the time when I walked into her room and she had figured out a way to pull off items from the top of the dresser!  They are capable of so much more than we give them credit for!

And so are you!  Don’t sell yourself shot. Believe in yourself!

 

Yes, this year has taught me so much. It’s taught me that this parenting stuff is hard, that life is hard, and marriage is hard As the cliché goes, anything hard is worth doing!  I said at the beginning that I didn’t really like kids, but I LOVE my children. I love my Sophie and everything she is and everything she stands for. I love her just because. She is a gift. One that I do not deserve.

To my Sophia: rbp-42

I love you and everything you are and everything you have taught me, and everything you stand for. You have taught me so much more about love and life than I ever imagined.  You are uniquely wonderful and beautiful. God has a plan for you! I don’t know what it is yet, but it will big! Bigger and more wonderful than I or you daddy can imagine!

 

What are some lessons you have learned from your life experiences? I would love for you to share your stories!

Thanks for reading! If you liked this article, don’t forget to share!

 

 

 

 

5 Lessons We Learned From Our Marriage

dmpbjw_0037Recently, my husband and I celebrated our 6 year anniversary. Yay us!  I’m so glad to have him in my life. I wouldn’t want to share this life with anybody else. That being said, we have definitely had our ups and downs. Everyone says the first year is the hardest, but for us, that was not the case. Maybe it was because we didn’t live together before marriage, so we hadn’t had time t get to know each other’s little quirks. Our hardest year wasn’t even the second year. For us, it has definitely been the year 2013, year 3. A year of great blessing and great strife. That was the year our first child was born. You think you know each other, you think you have talked about how you want to raise your kids, until you have one. We argued so much that year, about things I never thought we would argue about. We argued about why we were arguing and what was important or not important to argue about. Crazy, I know! We argued about how to change a diaper, where to put the baby to sleep, what food to start the baby on, when she could have her first taste of sugar, when to call the doctor. You name it, we probably argued about it. Oh, the wasted months spent arguing.! But, if I had to do it again, I would not change a thing. Not one silly argument. Not because I like to argue (though I have been known to be argumentative) :), but because it taught us so much. Of course, we have not completed our lessons in life, I am sure, but here’s hoping the following lessons we learned can help you through your journey of marriage (and let’s face it, it is a journey more times than a vacation)

  1. It is okay to argue. It is what you do with those arguments. I would like to say we don’t have arguments anymore, or at the very least, we don’t have the same arguments. But though we have learned to communicate better, we still tend to have similar arguments. Just don’t let it fester! I’m talking to you girls! You know we are bad about letting things fester until it boils over. When you bring up something from a week ago, your poor guy is probably feeling bombarded (or so my husband says). It is healthy to argue, just as long as you do resolve it eventually.
  2. Do take time to enjoy your life and children together. If your husband and daughter are giggling together instead of him putting her to bed, join in.  If your daughter is throwing her stuffed animals in the air to see how far they can fly, then throw them with her. If she makes you some “tea”, drink it. And if your infant son wants to snuggle just a little longer than usual, than snuggle! Turn off the computer, tablet, phone, and remote control, and look your loved ones in the eye and be present!
  3. Take time for you! We hear it all the time. I’m still working on it too. In my MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group, we are currently talking about being refreshed and flourishing. Whatever that looks like for you: Reading, taking a nap, exercise, meditating, music.  It looks different for everybody, but we all need it to flourish. It looks different in each season of life. For me, right now, it may only be 15 minutes of reading or enjoying a hot cup of tea or coffee (without having to microwave a million times!). I know between taking care of a 5 month old and a spirited almost 3 year old, I need time to refresh. I know you do too. Take time to be quiet and still! For the sanity of yourself and your marriage and the safety of your children, instill a quiet hour or two. (Some of us need more sanity saving time then others)  If your children don’t nap anymore, make it a quiet time. And everybody has quiet time, including the adults. We all need time to ourselves. At the same time. For me, right now, that means working my toddler’s schedule around the 5 month old baby. As soon as I lay him down for a nap, I’m laying her down shortly after or shortly before I know he will be ready for his nap. It won’t always be perfect. Life happens and you get off schedule. But some days, this  is the only thing that has saved my sanity. During this time, give yourself permission to not do any cleaning or “needed tasks”, only things you enjoy, that fill you up!
  4. Pray. .Pray for your marriage. Pray for your parenting. You are on the same team. Marriage and parenting is not for the faint of heart. We need God to be first in our marriage, then each other, then the children. I don’t think the children should come before your spouse. I’m sure there are exceptions, but I believe if you have a healthy marriage, then your children will see that, they will see that you are on the same team, so really it benefits them more for you to put your spouse first. Pray together, pray for each other, pray for your children. Pray aloud, pray silently. Just pray. That jut may be the only way to keep Satan out of your marriage.
  5. Share and Sacrifice. Share your prayer life. Share time together. Share a back rub even when you are exhausted. (I’m preaching to myself on this one.) Sacrifice your time by allowing the other to have time alone or with friends. Share articles and books you read. Just share your life. I don’t know much, but I do know that when my husband and I share and sacrifice for each other, we are at our happiest and most content. Just the other day, we were arguing about who would go to get the dog food.  He didn’t want me to go because I would have to manage both kids and a 50 lb bag of dog food. I didn’t want him to go because he had a long day  at work and that would prolong his day even more. I don’t give this example to brag, but rather to point out that when you share considerations for the other, then you are sharing love. Sharing is of paramount importance. When you share your life in all the tiniest daily living, then your share love. Not love in the sappy romantic way (although that his its time and pace), but true and deep and unconditional love.

What are some of the lessons you have learned in your relationships?

Thanks for reading! Please share this post if you feel led.

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoince at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8 (ESV)

Be That Act of Kindness

To the lady in Walgreen’s:

Thank you! You were so kind to me the other day. You probably don’t remember me, or maybe you do. I was the mother of two, with a two month old and a 2 year old clinging to my side and crying. You changed my day, for the better. I dropped off my prescription for my little girl’s ear infection and was told it would be 30 minutes. I was not upset that I was going to have to wait, I was a little dismayed it was going to be such a seemingly long time, but I wasn’t mad. But you noticed me, you saw me with my two young children and from the kindness in your heart, you expedited our prescription to being ready in 5 minutes!  That was such an amazing act of kindness, you have no idea how much I appreciated you! I wish I had remembered to get your name and not just hurriedly said thank you, though I hope my sincere thanks was apparent.

How extraordinary to be the recipient of such kindness!  I was not expecting it, was not even go to ask, but somehow she knew. Maybe it was the little baby fussing or the little girl clinging and crying on her mommy. Maybe it was my disheveled look (though I think I looked pretty put together under the circumstances 🙂  Or maybe you noticed the bags under my eyes from near chronic sleep deprivation. ( I am happy to say my baby appears to finally be sleeping through the night now!)  Whatever her reason, it felt amazing. Amazing to be noticed, amazing to be loved, even if just for that moment.

She was Jesus to me in that moment. She stopped to notice the little people and made a difference. How many times have we read stories of Jesus, stopping to talk to those culture deemed insignificant? (the woman at the well, little children, the boy with the few fish and bread that fed five thousand, the fishermen to become apostles) What he did for those people, at first glance, did not appear to be a big deal, but for those people, it made all the difference in the world.

It seems fitting, on the eve of Thanksgiving, for us to remember to be thankful for those seemingly insignificant moments that make all the difference. So, as you are doing your last minute shopping, or your early Black Friday shopping, as you sit down with your family or friends, remember to take notice. Take notice of the salesperson still being friendly after a full shift or having to work on Thanksgiving. Take notice of the nurses and doctors and other healthcare personnel for  caring for you or your loved one. Take notice of the loving hands preparing your food, whether at home or in a restaurant (one year it was just my sister and I for Thanksgiving, and yes, we did eat our Thanksgiving meal in a restaurant, and we were thankful there were restaurants willing to prepare a meal!) Take notice of the homeless guy asking for food or money. Take notice of the elderly who cannot walk or hear or see as well as they once could. Take notice of the young mothers or fathers who are juggling car seats, sticky fingers, diaper bags and temper tantrums (If you have no children, don’t judge. When and if you decide to have children, your day will come. It will be your child screaming in the grocery store or restaurant, and if you haven’t had this experience, then please share your secret with the rest of us!)  Take notice ,not just on and around the holidays, but all year round.  Be that act of kindness. Be somebody’s Jesus. You never know what a difference even the smallest of kind acts can do.  God will do the planting; you only need to do the sowing.

“So let us not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time, we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity we should do good to everyone- especially to those in the family of faith” Galatians 6:9-10

In what ways have you shown kindness or received kindness? I would love for you to share in the comments!

P.s. For more inspiration, follow my blog, and if this post encouraged you, please share with others!

 

For the Love of Chocolate

DSC_0197I LOVE chocolate! Just about any kind, with nuts, without, with peanut butter, caramel, whatever. If it has chocolate in it or around it, I will eat it and be bribed by it. One of my favorite kinds of chocolate is Dove chocolate, every flavor. I even love the little sayings that come in the wrapper. Now, I’m sure the Dove manufacturers did not intend to provoke profound thinking on their wrappers. And often, I just read them in passing. Some are cute, some are downright stupid (sorry Dove), and some are sweet. But one recently did have me pondering deep thoughts (maybe it’s the breastfeeding hormones).  “Do all things with love.”

Do ALL things with LOVE. Really?? Do ALL things with LOVE? Am I supposed to potty train with love, change diapers with love, eat, feed my children, fold laundry with love? While these things seem trivial, are they? What if we did everything from the lens of “Do ALL things with LOVE“.

Would that make the mundane things a little more enjoyable, or just increase the pressure of being a parent? After all, as all moms and dads know, toddlers and infants are exhausting (as I’m sure any age can be).  Between taking my two year old to the potty for the millionth time, cleaning the floor and sheets from pee and poo (I am happy to report that we are now almost completely potty trained!, just trying to get that #2!). Between  begging her to go # 2 on the potty and bribing her with a new toy and ice cream (which has not worked), and just short of forcing her on the toilet (which I realize does not work either!).  Between nursing every few hours to soothing a fussy baby at all hours, the last thing I  think about sometimes is love. I think about sleep and rest and peace! I think about being able to sit down with my lunch and not have little hands grabbing at my plate demanding at that instant to eat, even though they may have just eaten or just said they were done! I think about drinking HOT tea or coffee. I want to read a book in its entirety and in one sitting. I want to finish writing this post without interruption. I want to be able to eat my chocolate without having to hide it or share it with my child.

Maybe that is the point. Parenting is not glorious work. But neither was Jesus’ work . Did he want to constantly be traveling and speaking and healing? How many times did he get interrupted while praying or having a meal with his friends. How many times did he get woken up by cries and whines? How many times did he just want to spend time with his Father without having to break up an argument or soothe somebody? He did those things out of love and with love. Do ALL things with love.

“Let all that you do be done in love.” 1 Corinthians 16: 14

What if, instead of lamenting our days away we said the following instead:

How amazing is it that my two year old is learning to go to the bathroom all by herself? How awesome is it that I can see my baby boy growing right before my eyes?. How extraordinary are all those dirty and wet diapers, for they are a sign that he is healthy?

While not the most glorious acts, these are all opportunities to show love. Show our love in discipline and teaching and learning. And even though this season of my life with young children seems to be dragging by at times, I know this too shall pass. Will I look back and say I did all things with love and that my children knew they were loved? At the end of the day, ask yourself:  Did I have a heart filled with love or was my heart weary and weighed down with the tasks and to do lists of the day?

I want to make sure my children know that they are loved. I don’t want them to remember a clean house, every meal being at 6:30, or an organized playroom. While there is certainly nothing wrong with, and I do aim for those things, my point is this:

I want my children to remember the laughter we shared, coloring and building blocks together. I want them to remember me baking with them and taking them to the park. I want them to have love filled memories.  I want them to remember that I loved them, just as they were. And, perhaps, I will share my chocolate. 🙂 (Sometimes…)

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