Social Media and Summertime

Summer is here. Not sure how that happened, but here we are. The change of pace of summer is good, but it can also be hard. Harder than I want to admit sometimes. Last summer felt like it wrecked me in a lot of ways.  I wrote all about it on the blog in the middle of processing through it last year if you'd like to hear about it. For the last few months I have been really anxious about this summer, worried I'd slip back into that foggy feeling again. Having anxiety about possible anxiety is as fun as it sounds, friends. I'm planning to tackle summer one day at a time, doing my best to not stress about what's to come, but just putting one foot in front of the other and trusting Jesus to walk alongside me. I'm doing my best to keep a routine that makes me feel sane and human...as simple as washing my face and brushing my hair each morning, putting oils I like in my diffuser, taking my vitamins and supplements, etc. etc. I'm also being mindful of taking time by myself when possible, even if it's just a few minutes each day. My hope is to do more than just "survive the summer". I want to find bright spots in my days with my kids at home, even when it feels (and is) really hard. That means setting aside time to decompress and not auto-piloting into full on check-out mode, which feels like the easier option a lot of time. Especially when checking-out is so readily available at the tips of our fingers.

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I've been having an ongoing conversation with multiple people about social media lately, and it's been really good, challenging, and encouraging. I recently shared some thoughts over on Instagram, and my hope is we can keep the conversation going. Because I'm still unsure of where to land or if there even needs to be a certain spot to land. All I know is that our real and present lives have the potential for so much good, and I'm feeling more and more weary of seeing people miss out on that for the sake of the 'gram. We pull our phones out in the middle of a group of friends and start scrolling. We feel the pressure to read and respond to messages and notifications as soon as they pop up. We capture photos of sweet moments, not just to cherish them, but because they'll look nice on our photo feed. We feel this pressure not to miss what others might be posting, and to make sure we share our moments with them as well. This is true for instagram "influencers" and us regular old humans. I know there's not anything innately wrong with sharing these things on these platforms, but we, as a society, have swung so far on that spectrum. I watched a family eating lunch together at a restaurant a few weeks ago and the teenage son scrolled through instagram the entire time. Sitting in between his grandfather and his younger sibling, he was more engaged with truck videos than with his family. And this is not a rare occurrence. I've been guilty of it too...most of us have. So I'm just trying to be very mindful of when my phone is in my hand. What message does that communicate to the people in your life when you can't put it down or you're constantly picking it up? From experience I can tell you that it makes you feel not very valuable to that person.

So what the heck do we do about it? I don't think it's going anywhere anytime soon, but these are some suggestions of things I've been putting into practice: Try leaving your phone out of your reach for a day and see how many times you go to grab it. Delete instagram and facebook for a day and see how many times you automatically go to open it up. It's pretty eye-opening. When you are spending time with friends, leave it face down, or better yet leave it across the room. Set boundaries or time limits for yourself. If you're posting something, think about your motives and your heart in what you share. Ask yourself if what you're sharing online is what you're also sharing with your in-real-life people. And also ask yourself if social media were suddenly gone, would you be ok? I sadly think for a lot of people the answer is no.

Y'all I know these apps aren't bad and I know you get to choose what it looks like for you and who you follow. And there's nothing wrong with being on your phone sometimes or taking a minute to be mindlessly entertained. I just want to encourage you to make sure you're being more present in your actual life and not just your phone-life. Take a break from it and see what happens! And then let's talk about it! Preferably in person ;) 

I'd love to hear your thoughts, whether this is something you've been sorting through too, or if you feel challenged by this, or if you think my opinions are totally off-base. Let's talk. Just hit that little reply button or shoot me a message. Or if you know me in person, let's grab some coffee!

What an Overdue Dentist Visit Taught Me About Jesus

Want to hear something I’m embarrassed to admit? A few weeks ago I went to the dentist for the first time since college. I’m talking it's been 10+ years. I’ve been putting it off and putting it off. At the beginning of this year when I started thinking about goals, I wrote “go to the dentist” on my list. If someone saw my list of goals I'm sure they were giving major side eye. But, I finally did it. I had to have a little pep talk from a friend as I made the appointment, and I was shaking and near tears as I sat down in the chair once I got there. I know this sounds dramatic, and yes it's embarrassing, but the anxiety was legit.

Want to guess what happened next? It wasn’t that bad. Honestly it wasn’t bad at all. All that fear and dread and avoidance for basically no reason.

So why am I telling you about a long overdue trip the the dentist? Because I think we all have some thing in our lives that we have made into a huge scary deal, and at the end of the day it’s not as bad as we are anticipating. We put it off, we avoid it, we don’t tell people about it, we are embarrassed about it, we are prideful, we are straight up scared. The list of excuses and fears is long in our heads.

Maybe it is that medical appointment you know you need to make. Or maybe it’s a dream or goal you have for yourself. Writing a book. Applying for a job. Asking a friend to coffee. Admitting something you’re struggling with out loud. Going to see a counselor. Losing that weight. Whatever it is, I know it can feel huge and scary. Your emotions can feel all over the map. 

But Jesus.

It’s not just a Sunday school answer, it’s the truth. He has put your spirit at rest and tied it to Himself even when everything in your soul or body yells otherwise. Me and Jesus, we talked a lot about the dentist leading up to and during my appointment. I know I'm always able to stake myself to Him as my steady rock whether I’m anxious over something as trivial as the dentist or something major like a relationship.

Don't be like I was, avoiding and dreading and letting fear win over something that doesn't warrant it. The fear may be real, but so is our hope in Jesus, and His love is able to cast out our fear. I'll tell you (and myself) the same thing I tell my five year old when he gets scared: we get to serve a God who is sovereign over all things, even fear itself. He commands the winds and the waves and even the darkness. We may feel the fear in every fiber of our being, but it doesn't have to dictate how we live.

I hope this embarrassing and random story about the dentist leaves you with a little bit of encouragement, but if you get nothing else from it, please just go ahead schedule your next dentist appointment. Don’t let one missed appointment turn into 15 missed appointments, cool? Cool. #neededthreefillings #shockeditwasonlythree #alsohavetogetmywisdomteethout #remindmeofthisemailwhenthatappointmenthappens #youshallnotfearthedentist

This post is an excerpt from my monthly newsletter. Click here if you'd like to subscribe!

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Trust in Jesus

Happy April. I wanted to share a snippet of my newsletter that went out this month! If you would like to get my monthly newsletter, you can subscribe here!

I'll be short(ish) and sweet today, and share with you something God has really been teaching me over the last month. He is so faithful and persistent in His love and pursuit of us, at whatever cost. "There's not wall you won't kick down, lie you won't tear down coming after me", right (from the song Reckless Love by Cody Asbury)? He is not hiding His truth or desires from us, and we don't have to over analyze and make things as difficult as we do for ourselves. If He wants us to know something, He will reveal it to us. I can find myself stuck in a cycle of asking and asking and asking Him to show me things, especially in instances of struggle or conflict. He's been telling me to stop obsessing and analyzing and trust Him to tell me things in His time. Sometimes (most of the time) we aren't equipped to carry the weight of the knowledge we so badly want. And sometimes there's nothing more He needs to tell us about what we are asking. It's like we are constantly trying to eat of the tree of knowledge instead of going to Him, the Tree of Life. I guess that shouldn't be surprising to think about it, but it is. He is the life and He promises to give us all we need to live. And all He requires of us is to trust Him. Even the tiniest amount of faith is more than enough. He is faithful even when we are faithless.

Need an example of His patience and love for us even when we are stuck in doubt? Head to Judges  6 and 7 and read the story of Gideon. Gideon asked God for so many signs and reassurances, and God never got angry, but instead reassured him over and over again, even using people that didn't even believe in God to show Gideon that He was real.

He goes before you, securing your victory before you even get there. He reveals things as you need them, and His timing is always better. He's after our hearts, not the outcome of the circumstances. May we continue to go to Him and trust Him for the journey, because He is Life.

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How We are Fighting the Flu and Cold

Spring is finally on the horizon, y’all! I am so ready for some warmer days and less dreary, rainy weather. More than anything, I am SO ready to be out of this dang flu season. There is so much snot and so much coughing everywhere we go. Between that and the weather, I am coming to understand why bears want to hibernate in the winter. Leave me inside with a cozy blanket, Netflix, and no one else’s germs, please and thank you. But sadly I have three little boys and two of them have to go to school everyday. And much to my frustration, I can’t send them out the door in a protective bubble with their lunches and backpacks in tow. So unfair.

The one thing I can do to protect them, however, is give them a dose of my favorite flu-fighting, immunity boosting goodness in a bottle. Elderberry syrup, y’all. Maybe you’ve heard of it, maybe you haven’t. I’m going to tell you all about my favorite brand Andi-Lynn’s, why it works, and what sets it apart. The CDC has shared that this year’s (and most years’, honestly) flu shot is less than 50% effective. So whether you decide to get one or not, you need something else in your arsenal to keep you and your kiddos healthy.

Elderberries are full of antioxidants which work to prevent cell damage. They support your immune system and have the potential of being anti-viral and anti-bacterial (read more about its benefits here). Everyone in my house has a teaspoon of elderberry syrup daily as a preventive against cold and flu. The reason I use Andi-Lynn’s versus an over-the-counter elderberry product is because of the quality. Andi-Lynn’s uses black elderberries, works in small batches, and uses a minimal amount of ingredients that are fresh and local. Via their website, they use “pharmaceutical grade organic elderberry juice. This juice and our meticulous and preserving process maintains the whole fruit matrix of the elderberries so you receive all of its natural nutrients. (They) also protect you from chemical preservatives, and use a non-GMO certified citric acid to ensure your elderberry syrup has a long shelf life without exposing you to harmful chemicals” (read more here). Andi-Lynn’s has their pure elderberry syrup as well as seasonal blends.

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A few weeks ago, Evan had over 10 kids in his class out with the flu, and we stayed flu-free! I am definitely giving the credit to the elderberries. If we get off track with taking a dose daily, or if a cold creeps in, I up the dosage to a few times a day and add in one of my other favorite Andi-Lynn’s products - propolis drops. I desperately asked Andrea (the owner of Andi-Lynn’s) what to do when Gibson had a cold that just wouldn’t let up a few months ago. She sent me home with a bottle of elderberry syrup and a bottle of propolis drops, and said to give him some every few hours. I’m a firm believer in the power of both of these remedies! That cold cleared up so quickly, and anytime someone in my house has got a sniffle, the propolis/elderberry combo knocks it out SO fast. No ear infections, no sinus infections, no lingering colds.

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So WTF is propolis?? you may be asking yourself (hopefully I’m not the only one who uses less than lady-like language when talking to myself sometimes, right?!?). Propolis is made by bees! It’s a resin like material that bees use to glue their hive together. What makes it so awesome is that it’s proven to have antiviral and anti-inflammatory effects. This article from Wellness Mama explains a lot of propolis’ known benefits and uses much better than I can. All I know is I’ve seen how effective it has been in kicking a cold’s butt so incredibly fast. Monday I was sure I had a cold coming on (tiredness, itchy and runny nose, sneezing, the works) so I had a dropper full of my propolis drops a few times along with some elderberry (the propolis by itself is not too tasty, so adding it to the elderberry helps!), and Tuesday when I woke up I didn’t have even an inkling of a cold symptom. I’ll let that speak for itself.

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Those two products are the ones I use most at home, but there are a few others that I love and want to share with y’all.

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Cough & Calm - the name is exactly what it sounds like. We use this anytime a cough creeps up, and it works to help soothe and stop it! It tastes good, and there’s no weird side effects of other typical cough syrups. I’ve given it to my kids and used it myself.

Tummy & Teething Drops - every mama needs these in her arsenal!!

Inhale Sinus & Respiratory Drops - I’m planning to keep these on deck now that ALLLL the pollen is here.

Fire Cider - Raw apple cider tonic - This stuff burns SO good. It contains live cultures and active digestive enzymes. All the ingredients are a great health boost for your body. Take a shot or make a delicious drink with it. I like to have it mixed with a little raw honey - spicy and sweet!

You can head to this link to find out where to buy your products locally. Andi-Lynn’s now also has its own store front location in Walker, Louisiana where they also host events and workshops. All products can be ordered online as well, and Andrea has graciously given us a free shipping code to use! Just type in CCHMHEALTHY at checkout and you’ll get free shipping on your entire cart!

Let me close by saying that I am by no means a health professional. Hopefully that goes without me saying, but just in case... I am just sharing my experience with these products and why I love them. Use your discretion and do your research! Cheers to good health, friends!

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This post is sponsored by Andi-Lynn’s Pure and Custom Formulary, but I have been using their products for years and all thoughts and opinions are my own. I will never share something here that I don’t love and believe in, that’s a promise!

Made New

I’ve been interested in art for as long as I can remember. It started like all kids with paper doodles, and eventually led to me drawing on every piece of furniture in my room (which my mom was amazing enough to allow me to do) and painting my closet doors in black and white designs. The first time I held a film camera in my hand and pressed the shutter, something inside of me lit up and I knew that’s what I wanted to do. Cue me deciding not to go to college for psychology, and instead choosing photography. Thankfully this was before I actually set off for college months later.

Art, colors, textures, light…they’ve all shaped the way I’ve seen the world around me. I finally decided to have a go at painting a few years ago. I don’t know exactly what pushed me to do it other than a deep desire. Kind of like that moment with the camera 10 years prior. I had no idea what I was doing, but I loved it. And turns out, I was kind of decent at it. And in turn successful at making art for other people. But then I found myself in a “rut” of making art I didn’t love, not sure what my style or “voice” was in the art world. And then I had another baby and life got busy, and the paint brushes stayed put away for a while.

And then that stirring up thing happened again. For months and months I kept seeing these visions of the kind of paintings I wanted to make. They weren’t like anything I’d done in the past. And they were beautiful. I loved dreaming of them and taking photographs as inspiration for them. But for some reason or another I just hadn’t brought myself to actually try to make it happen. I would like to say it was for lack of time, but I think underneath that was the fear that I wouldn’t be able to do it. That they wouldn’t actually be as beautiful as I was envisioning them to be.

Honestly I could have let myself sit in that fear and funk, and I’d still be here two years later with paintings in my mind and not on canvas. But I hit the breaking point of saying I either have to just go for it, or I need to walk away from this dream.

So I went for it.

I remember the canvas laid out on my floor in the living room (I didn’t have an easel, desk, or any type of “real” workspace back then). I cranked my favorite worship album on, and got to work. I don’t know how far into that first painting I was, but I know I stopped and just started crying. Because I was bringing my idea to life. And it was working! And I had decided to push past fear and doubt and step into what I believed God was giving me.

I fully believe God places dreams and desires in our hearts. He wants us to step into the gifts He's given us. He wants us to dream big and trust Him with the process and outcome. Maybe creating a piece of art isn’t your calling or doesn’t even sound that scary to you, but I bet there’s something like that in your heart. Something you dream about that feels too scary to say out loud. He takes our desires and plans and turns them into something even better than we can try to come up with on our own.

I named this first painting I did “Made New.” It marked such a turning point for me. I was learning to try things and not live in the fear of failing. I was learning to trust God and trust my gift. He kept reminding me that He makes all things new. And that He make all things beautiful in His time.

I’ve had quite a few people ask and encourage me to share more about the meaning behind my paintings, and I knew that God was also asking me to share more openly with you here! My hope is to make this “story behind the painting” a regular series here on the blog, so if you like this kind of content let me know! I will let you know when the original painting is still available to be purchased (updated: “Made New” sold after this post was published). I’m also linking some available prints! Maybe you need this visual reminder to keep dreaming, to make brave choices, and to know that He is in all things, making them new and making them beautiful.

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