Joy and Sadness - the emotional healing journey

“I’m doing pretty good” was the mantra I repeated to anyone who asked. I wasn’t lying. I really was doing good, all things considered. Everything was right on track, no complications. I honestly felt better than I expected to feel. Sure, my entire body hurt. And yeah, going into the OR and being put under anesthesia had been incredibly scary for me. I also couldn’t face looking down at my chest for the first 4 or 5 days. So “pretty good” seemed like a good description to me, because nothing was that bad and I knew it could be a lot worse.

But in those first few days when friends would ask me about going into surgery, I’d find myself near tears every time I recounted the experience. I felt silly because being put under anesthesia is just a common thing. Almost everyone has had to be “put to sleep” at some point. Lots of people have surgery. Some people have to have my same surgery and then also fight actual cancer. I’d just say it was scary and then move on because I felt a huge wave of emotion rising. I don’t think anyone noticed and I just kept moving on with my story.

The first night home from the hospital is when that wave I’d been trying to stay ahead of finally knocked me down. I felt totally confident that I could handle checking on all of my incisions and emptying my drains that were still in. I’d watched the nurses do it what felt like 100 times over the previous few days in the hospital. So I was confused when all of a sudden I felt lightheaded. I had to let Jonathan take over. I was burning up hot and had to quickly go sit down with the fan on full blast. And then the tears started.

“It’s just a lot” is all I could manage to say when Jonathan walked in and found me crying. I had finally been forced to acknowledge all that I’d been through. My body didn’t look like my own. I was bandaged, I couldn’t stand up straight, I had to have help with almost everything including putting on my own underwear. My boobs felt (and still feel like) like foreign objects stuffed in my bra. I had undergone a 5 hour surgery because of the fact that my body’s genetic makeup was nearly incapable of preventing me from getting breast cancer. This surgery that I’ve been praying over and been anxious about for months had finally happened. The surgery that I wish I had never had to decide to do in the first place was over.

But…but…I lived! I took my risk of cancer down to almost nothing. My boobs looked way better than I thought they would. I didn’t need much pain medicine. No complications had arisen. Why dwell on the hard stuff when there’s such a bright side to all of this, right? Wasn’t “choose joy” my mantra??

Friends, here’s what I am learning. You can be sad and still have joy. You can be overwhelmed or angry and still have peace. Just because one of these things exists doesn’t mean the other thing can’t. Our emotions can swing all over the map on any given day, and especially in the midst of a very difficult circumstance. We can still experience those negative or hard emotions while being grounded in truth.

1 Thessalonians 5:16 tells us to “Rejoice always.” It doesn’t tell us we need to be happy all the time. Happiness is a fleeting feeling based on circumstances, but true joy is straight from the Lord. It is totally independent of our circumstances. In the midst of a trial we can stand firm in joy and know that our trials and our struggles don’t have to control us. 

The scripture goes on to tell us in verse 18 to “give thanks in all circumstances.” To be clear, it doesn’t say give thanks for all circumstances. It says “in”. Meaning we don’t have to love what we are walking through. We can be hurt or sad or angry about it. But we are still able to give thanks because we hold on to the promise that God made: that He will bring good out of any and every circumstance we find ourselves in.

We have the choice about which banner we are going to hold up in our circumstances. Claiming victory and claiming joy does not mean we have to forget our hurt or sadness or anger. It means we stand firm on the promises and the truth we know, and we can give thanks for His goodness even if there are tears in our eyes. We can say “I’m having a really hard time” when someone asks how we are doing, even though at our core we know we are okay and secure. It’s okay to admit our struggles and our fears and our heartbreak out loud. It doesn’t make the truth of joy and peace in our lives any less true.

Just because our emotions aren’t pretty doesn’t mean we need to try to fix them. I don’t believe God would have given us emotions for no reason, or just to give us something we had to keep in check. Our emotions shouldn’t dictate our every choice and action, but they can serve as indicators to what’s going on in our lives. And they can point us to Jesus if we let them. What a kind Father to allow us to feel things. Can you imagine a world without our emotions??

So even though my emotions through all of this have been hard to navigate, and it’s difficult allowing myself to embrace and truly feel all of the things sometimes, I am thankful. I am going to allow myself to be sad and be angry, because my circumstances warrant that reaction. And just because I feel that way does not diminish the peace and joy of my spirit. It does not diminish the work of Christ in my life. It doesn’t mean I don’t have faith or I’m not choosing joy. Joy has been given to me and is experienced in my life because of grace, so no amount of bad circumstances or hard feelings is going to take that away.


Mastectomy & Reconstruction: Surgery and Recovery

It's been almost four weeks since my preventive double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. It feels a lot longer than that some days, but I also know 4 weeks really isn't that much time. The process of healing has been a lot better than I anticipated in most ways, but some things that I didn't expect to be difficult have been. I share more about the emotional journey of healing in a different post if you’d like to read that as well. Today I want to share more detailed info about the surgery and recovery process, because when I first started having to research all of this I was desperate to find someone else in my similar circumstance. I wanted to hear all about the entire process, hear specific details, see photos, etc. So that's what this post is for! For other people going through something similar, for those who know someone going through something similar, and just to educate anyone who may read this on what this process looks like.

If you're new here, you can read about how I found out about my BRCA2 mutation here, my decision to have a preventive double mastectomy here, and some FAQs about BRCA and preventive mastectomy here.

surgery day


Here I am hanging out in my super sexy hospital gown. Not pictured: grippy socks and compression tights. I had to be at the hospital at 5:00 AM for my 7:00 AM scheduled surgery. It's weird walking into a normal looking waiting room area when you know you're about to have a major surgery in just a couple of hours. They called me back and I talked with the pre-op nurse (medical history and all of that), got hooked up to my IV, met with the anesthesiologist, got cleaned up with antibacterial wipes (super fun having a lady come rub your boob area down for you). I took a few medications - one to prevent nausea, one to prevent clotting, and finally some valium (praise the Lord). I met with both of my surgeons before surgery to go over everything beforehand. Two of my sweet friends are both nurses at the hospital where I was having my surgery so they came to see me before I got wheeled to the OR. 


Seeing familiar faces when you're about to go do something scary was seriously such a relief. My friend Erin (on my right) actually wheeled me into the OR room where Emily (on my left) and like 10 other people were waiting for me. 

I've never had any type of surgery before, not even anything minor, so being wheeled into an OR room was very surreal. And I'm honestly feeling a little nauseated reliving it right now to share it with y'all. I was scared. I didn't want to be. I was making jokes and being kind to everyone but I was super freaked out. Especially when they started talking about hooking me up to anesthesia. When I knew it was about to happen I got super nervous and wanted to cry but tried really hard to hold it together. Erin and Emily were both holding my hands and they let me know as soon as they pushed the medicine that would put me to sleep. It really does happen as quickly as you think it will. You feel like you're falling asleep and there's nothing you can do about it. And then you wake up in another place and don't remember any of the last few hours. It's crazy and amazing at the same time. So even though it was really scary in the moment, suddenly the whole thing is over and done with! Am I looking forward to having surgery again in a few months? Absolutely not. But I guess it's a little bit better knowing what to expect now.

I vaguely remember leaving the OR room and being wheeled into recovery. I remember talking with the recovery nurse (who was the sweetest lady on the planet). But I was so tired and couldn't really keep my eyes open. I was awake and talking with them the whole time but it was very foggy. Nothing really hurt too badly that I can remember. I had a slight headache. And I remember having to concentrate on breathing because I guess my lungs were still "sleepy". I stayed in recovery about an hour (I think) before they brought me to my room. My plastic surgeon sends his DIEP flap reconstruction patients to the ICU for the first 24 hours (I share more about what this is in this post), not because I was in critical condition or anything, but just to monitor the blood flow to each breast every hour and make sure the arteries keep working. All I remember about getting to the room is being insanely hot. I think I had a full heated blanket on after surgery, and then they left a heating pad type thing on my chest when I got to the room. I was miserably hot. Evidenced by the photo in which I had them take all my blankets off, hiked my hospital gown up, and requested a box fan. 


Thankfully once my surgeon came to check on me, he pulled the heating pad off (calling it an old school method), and cranked my AC down for me. Glory!

I remember feeling some slight soreness in those first few hours, but not too much. I mean I was just laying in bed not moving for the rest of that entire day til the next morning. I had those boot things on my legs that squeezed off and on to prevent blood clots. I also had a catheter in and was hooked up to a few monitors for my heart rate and breathing, and a blood pressure cuff that went off every hour (that's as fun as it sounds). The nurses also had to come check all my vitals and listen to the doppler things that were attached to each boob (I just feel weird saying the word breast so we are going to switch over to boob, hope that's ok) to make sure blood was flowing sufficiently. Every hour. For 24 hours. I am thankful for the monitoring but it was definitely not fun.

Hospital Stay


Around 6 AM I got my catheter removed and they got me out of bed and moved over to a chair. Because of my stomach incision, getting up and down was no joke. But it was nice to finally get up! I got to move to a regular recovery room around 10 or 11 AM since everything was going well. For the next few hours (I honestly can't remember how many) I only had to be monitored every 2 hours, and then that eventually increased to every 4 hours. I also didn't have to be hooked up to an IV stand or any other monitors besides the dopplers on my chest, but they could be plugged and unplugged so I wasn't having to lug anything around. I made myself get up and in the chair most of the time instead of laying in the bed and walked around my hospital room as much as I could tolerate.

The late afternoon of the second day I was able to get up and go for a walk in the hospital hall. It was sloooow and I couldn't stand up straight (due to my stomach incision and because I just lost a few inches of skin, everything felt really tight those first few days). 


It was nice having visitors to take my mind off of being in a hospital. Before surgery I wasn't sure how I would be feeling, but I was hopeful I'd be up for company! I had to concentrate really hard on not laughing because of my stomach being in pain! But I welcomed the distraction of friends. I was getting up and down and standing up a little straighter on Friday. I was also feeling super glamorous in this fabulous outfit!


We had the option to go home on that Friday evening (surgery was Wednesday morning), but they also said we could stay another night if we wanted to. We opted to stay. One reason was because we didn't want to scramble around to change the schedule of who had the kids, and also because we felt more comfortable having one more night of nurses checking on me. We went home around 9:30 AM on Saturday! It was so nice to get out and be in my own space!



The first few days at home I spent a lot of time on the couch surrounded by pillows. I watched A LOT of TV. I would take breaks to walk some laps around the living room and kitchen because I knew moving would help me heal more quickly and keep me from going totally stir crazy. I took tylenol a few times for discomfort, but that was mainly in the evenings. I also took a muscle relaxer the first two nights home to help me sleep. The main thing I needed them for was because of my back. Hunching over was giving me major back pain the first few days. I'm thankful that subsided after the first week or two.

Showering was definitely tricky! I didn't wash my hair for the first week (thank you Lord for ponytail holders and dry shampoo), but I definitely needed to clean my body! I had drains coming out of each of my boobs, and you can't just let them freely hang down without some support or else you'll be in a lot of pain and possibly rip some stitches. So I put a lanyard on to clip them. It's as cute as it sounds ;) 

I had to (and still have to) keep compression around my waist to prevent any fluid from building up around my abdominal incision. My doctor used some type of glue during my surgery which meant I didn't need to have drains from that incision as well (PRAISE BE). Here's what my get-up looked like that first week home.


Cute, I know. Between this and having to get Jonathan to help me shower, dry off, and get dressed, I definitely wasn't feeling super awesome (I share more about the emotional side of healing in another post). Underneath all of this looked rough, but not as terrible as I imagined. I had some bruising, and one of my nipples completely scabbed up. That was scary because I was worried that meant I was going to lose it. But it's apparently pretty common. I hope the following picture isn't too much, but I really wanted to show it for those who may be facing the same surgery and want to know what to expect. Like I mentioned earlier, seeing photos from others was incredibly helpful for me. This was one week post-op. The gray dressing covers the length of my abdominal incision.


The Thursday after my surgery I had my first post-op visit with my plastic surgeon. He took my drains out! I had no idea how uncomfortable they were making me until they were gone. The spots that they were stitched into my skin hurt and pulled any time I moved. Getting them out was seriously such an instant mood lifter and immediately made me feel more like myself!


He also took the dressing off my abdominal decision and took the stitches out. I had stitches on the drain sites, on my new belly button, and where they removed my two extra nipples. Yep...ya heard me. I had two tiny extra nipples on my abdomen. You can see where they were in the photo I shared above. They looked like moles so you wouldn't have known what they were if I never told you. My breast specialist said they're super common (she even had one), and she always removes them along with the mastectomy for her genetic patients...because it is technically breast tissue.

Week two was definitely a lot easier, but I was still having to take it really easy. I'd get tired quickly and felt pretty sore all over. But I was cleared to lift my arms, which meant I could wash my hair, shave my armpits, and put on deodorant. All of those things helped me start feeling more normal! 

I had a follow up with my breast specialist during the second week, and my healing process was right on track. I go back and see her in 6 months, and we will continue with physical breast exams every 6 months until everything has settled. Physical exams will be the only type of breast cancer screening I will do from here on out.


I was feeling good enough to be able to go visit with some friends, get some easy chores done around the house, go for a walk, etc. by the third week. My kids all came back home that weekend (about 10 days post-op). I was still very sleepy at the beginning of week three, because apparently healing takes a lot of energy (who knew? ha!), and I was adjusting to mom-life again, but that's gotten better everyday. I still have to be careful how I pick up Gibson (he's 19 months old), but I can pick him up and get him in and out of bed without it being too difficult or hurting. I can walk a couple of miles and do some lower body exercises, just not too strenuous. I can't use my core muscles to get up and down still, and I'm still sleeping on my back because it is very uncomfortable to sleep on my side. I felt very sore during week three as well, but that is improving too. My incisions are looking better everyday, and I am now using a prescription scar cream on them to help them heal nicely. This photo was a little over 2 weeks post-op, and they look even better today, 25ish days post-op!


I go back to my plastic surgeon this week for a follow up, where I will hopefully get cleared to do physical therapy. My arms and chest still feel super tight when I lift my arms, and my core muscles will need some help regaining strength.

Other things to note: I don't have any feeling in my boobs. That's been weird and sometimes tough to adjust to. It feels like I have something fake or a bunch of padding stuffed in my bra. I know (at least I hope) I'll get used to this over time. Most of my abdominal incision is also numb, and the space between my belly button and the incision is also numb. Some of that feeling is coming back a little bit. The skin on my stomach felt very uncomfortable the first 2 weeks as it adjusted to being stretched so tightly. The feeling was similar to when you're 9 months pregnant and your skin is stretched to the max. That's also gotten a lot better.

All in all, the entire process has been better than I anticipated. I had no idea what exactly it would be like, but I'm so thankful it's gone as smoothly as it has. Some things are still very difficult and I have to take a minute to let myself be frustrated or sad, but mostly I am doing pretty good nearly 4 weeks post-op. I will have a follow up surgery in a few months for revisions on my abdominal scar and filling in and smoothing out anything that needs it. I'm not looking forward to having surgery again, but I'm glad I will be DONE after that. And that my risk of breast cancer dropped from 75% to less than 2%. I have not regretted my decision for a single second.

Head to this post to hear about what the emotional healing process has been like.

I know this post was long, but I hope it was helpful for anyone who is thinking of doing the same thing or knows someone who is! I am open and willing to answer any questions you may have, so feel free to leave them in the comments or email me at

I did a podcast interview 10 days post-op if you're interested in listening to that as well. Click here to listen with iTunes!

PICTURE UPDATE 7/25/2019, one year post surgery:



Preventive Mastectomy and BRCA FAQs

Since my preventive double mastectomy is only a few days away, I wanted to address some of the questions I've been asked most often about the surgery and the BRCA gene mutation. 

How did you find out you had the mutation, and what made you want to get tested?

I have a strong history of breast cancer in my family, so I always figured I was at a high risk. I thought about getting tested for the BRCA mutation for a while but kept putting it off. After my first cousin tested positive for it and I talked it over with my OBGYN and my primary care doctor, I decided to get tested. You can read more about when I initially found out in this blog post.

What is your risk? How likely are you to develop cancer?

My risk of getting breast cancer is around 75%. I also have an increased risk for ovarian cancer (around 15%), melanoma (around 5%) and pancreatic cancer (around 5%). This is specific for my variation of the BRCA2 mutation.

How did you initially react to the news? Did you have trouble trusting God with it?

I was really sad, obviously, when I first found out. I knew the implications and knew that I would have to make some tough choices. Honestly I never struggled to trust God with it. In this big, hard thing I have turned to Him constantly as my source of peace and wisdom. That's not to say it hasn't been difficult or I haven't felt angry or sad or scared, because I definitely have. But He has been a constant source of peace, and I didn't know how people walk through things like this without Him. This diagnosis has never felt totally devastating or like a death sentence.

What kind of doctors have you seen?

My first appointment was with my OBGYN since my risks are highest in the areas that kind of doctor deals with. She gave me names of a breast specialist/oncologist, a genetic counselor and genetic doctor, and a plastic surgeon. Thankfully those names were also recommended to me by multiple other friends in the medical field. I also have to see a dermatologist once a year to monitor my skin, and plan to see oncologist that will help me monitor my pancreas. I'd be happy to give you the names of the doctors I see if you are local to this area and need a recommendation!

When will you have your reconstruction? 

Thankfully the first phase of reconstruction will happen in same surgery as my double mastectomy. I'm having DIEP Flap reconstruction at this initial surgery, which basically means they will use fat and tissue from my stomach to build new breasts. Because I don't have a ton of stomach fat (first time someone has told me that haha!) I will do a second phase of reconstruction in a few months where we will probably put in a small implant. You can read more about my decision to have a mastectomy and more about the DIEP flap procedure in this post.

Does having a mastectomy mean you won't get cancer?

No, it does not guarantee I won't get breast cancer because it would be impossible to get every last cell of breast tissue removed. But it takes my risk from 75% down to around 1%. That's less than a normal woman's risk. And I also will have the other cancer risks to contend with, and will likely get my ovaries removed in my 40s because ovarian cancer is very hard to detect early. Removing them is recommended for people with genetic mutation risks, but it will also put me into menopause so I'm going to put this off as long as I and my doctors feel comfortable with it. I will have to get yearly ovarian ultrasounds and blood work done to try to monitor any changes.

Is it similar to having a boob job?

I have to admit this is the only question or suggestion that has frustrated or hurt me. But I have to realize it’s coming from a place of just not knowing, not trying to dismiss or belittle, which is why I feel it’s so important for me to share my story and hopefully educate people. To be clear, I have zero problems with and fully support people getting "boob jobs", and while I will be rocking fake breasts from here on out, it's not something I would have personally elected to do if it weren't for this cancer risk. They will be removing all of the tissue from my breasts - fat, duct work, everything. Along with that I will no longer have feeling in my breasts. There's around a 10 chance I will lose my nipples because they have to scrape out all the tissue behind them. This is not a surgery I'm excited about having. Maybe one day I'll be able to appreciate that my boobs don't sag, but I'd definitely have preferred to keep what I have!

What are you most nervous about?

I've never had any type of surgery, so I'm nervous about going under anesthesia. I'm nervous about pain after recovery and the side effects of pain meds. I'm nervous the flap procedure will fail and I'll have to go back into surgery with a plan B for reconstruction. Mostly I'm just nervous about the unknown. It's hard to fathom that in a couple of days my body will permanently be very different. I'm nervous about what recovery will be like as far as what I can and can't do. I'm nervous about not being to help and do things with my kids. I'm nervous I'll be sad when I see my body. I can't imagine what it will be like to not have feeling in my boobs anymore. I'm nervous about my husband having to sit in the waiting room while I am in surgery, and then having to take care of me. And while I’m not really nervous or in fear that I’ll die in surgery, I know it’s still a possibility that I could just not wake up. That’s a tough pill to swallow. Having to talk over my living will with Jonathan has been hard. Thinking “I should probably update my kids baby books just in case I die” is a very strange reality I’m in right now. Knowing this isn’t a surgery I have to have, I’m nervous about something going wrong and I could have avoided it. It's all just very weird. That's the only way I know how to describe it. But I still feel 100% confident and at peace with my decision.

How is your husband handling all of it?

Thank God for my sweet husband. Jonathan has been super supportive through every step of it. From sitting next to me as I spit in the container that would be sent off to test, to waiting by the phone with me to get my results. He's been at every appointment, given me his input when I asked for it, encouraged me on every fear I've voiced. He is very supportive and is thankful, just like I am, that I have the option to stop cancer before it starts. That my chances of being here for my boys will greatly increase. That we won't have to deal with the trauma of a breast cancer diagnosis. He has been amazing through it all, and I have zero doubts that he will be amazing through my recovery. I'm a little nervous about him washing and fixing my hair, however ;) 

Whose boobs did you go with for your new ones?

This is a super common question that makes me laugh. For this first stage of surgery, there's not really any picking out. I will get to make decisions about size and type of implant before my next surgery in the fall. But for now I will just have some sort of new "breast". I've seen them lovingly referred to as "foobs", which I really like ;) For those who don't do some type of flap procedure like I'm doing, you are basically left with just skin on top of an implant, so it doesn't give you a lot to work with like an augmentation, lift, or reduction would do. 

What are your plans for your kids post surgery?

We are so thankful to have a ton of people to help us! My parents will be staying at my house with the boys while I'm in the hospital (3 nights). Then the boys will go to my sister and brother-in-law's house for a few nights, then I have a friend taking them for a day, then help from my mom again, and then Jonathan's parents will take them for a while since they are both retired. Evan starts school about 2 weeks after my surgery so he will come home the weekend before that. And we will just play it by ear with the other two boys depending on how I'm feeling. They'll stay at Jonathan's parents on weekdays while he is at work, and then they will come home on the weekends.  We will do that until I am confident I'll be able to take care of Gibson - the main concern is with lifting him in and out of bed, the car seat, high chair, etc. And toddlers just need to be picked up and held a lot. So until I'm able to do that, I'll have to have help. I plan to fully document and share my recovery so hopefully I'll have some good advice and feedback about the recovery timeline after that. I know that was my main concern going into all of this! 

If you have any other questions feel free to leave them in the comments, or shoot me an email if you'd prefer. Thank you to every single one of you who have encouraged me and prayed for me through all of this. It means more than I could ever say! 


The Best Resources to Start and Inspire Your Blog

I get asked a lot about how I got started with my blog. The truth is I just did a lot of googling. A LOT. If there's something you want to know out there, google it and I promise someone has written an article or made a video about it. There's everything from how to get a website domain to how to insert a link in your post. I mean I've googled some crazy things and I've always found the answer. But sometimes that sort of thing can get overwhelming, so today I'm rounding up some of my favorite resources I've found that have done the practical work of telling me how to start a blog and the things I use to "continue my education" as well as encourage and inspire me.

Setting up your blog & Content

If you need help just getting started, you need to get Natalie's Blogging Course. This course is perfect if you've finally decided to start your blog and you don't even know what to do first. It starts with the basics of choosing and getting a domain and website hosting and also covers everything from how to create content to how to earn income with your blog. There's also a private Facebook group for everyone who has taken the course. It's such a good resource to connect with other bloggers, ask questions, and there's a monthly live Q&A. Natalie is now one of my real-life friends and she is the real deal, y'all! She is very passionate about helping others succeed with their blogs. This course is 100% worth the cost.

The only thing I have done different than what the course covers is that I use Squarespace instead of Wordpress. I used Wordpress for a while, but I find Squarespace to be much simpler and much more user friendly. I'm really glad I switched over!! 

Squarespace and Wordpress have some pre-built templates that you can use, but there are other ways to customize the look of your site so it fits you perfectly! If you can afford to hire someone to build and design your site then that's a great option to get a site that looks exactly how you want (my site and brand were designed by Magnolia-Ink). But I know a lot of us starting out are on a budget, right? For my first site design I found a template I loved on Creative Market. I LOVE Creative Market and use it pretty frequently. There are website templates, fonts, social media templates, media kit get the idea. It's a great way to add customized items to your brand before you can dive in with something fully custom. 

Another great tool for creating custom images and graphics is Canva. Canva is free to use and has thousands of templates to help you create logos, graphics for your blog and social media, PDFs, you name it! This is a great option if you don't have something like Photoshop or Illustrator. Canva also has a free app so you can easily create content from your phone.

Other resources/apps I love for creating graphics and editing photos: for finding beautiful (and free!) stock images, Word Swag (for graphics); Afterlight, Snapseed, and Color Story for photo editing. Color Story also has a grid feature that helps you plan out your Instagram feed. Planoly is a great app and site for planning out your feed and content. Another great option is Loomly. You can use Loomly to schedule your social media content, but what makes them unique is they focus on the entire content creation & collaboration process, instead of just the scheduling part. 

continuing education: tangible tips & Encouragement

Podcasts are the easiest way for me to learn new tips and ideas about creating content and growing my blog. I can listen while I drive, while I clean, while I paint, etc. These are all of the ones I listen to regularly and have learned a lot from! I'm not providing direct links since not everyone is an Apple user, but you can search for and listen to these on whatever podcast app you have!

The Goal Digger Podcast by Jenna Kutcher. She is such a motivator and encourager, and this podcast is packed with very tangible info and tips on how to grow your blog or business.
3 episodes to start with: 129: Ask Jenna Anything...About Social Media, 111: How to Find Your Secret Sauce and Stand Out in a Crowd, 103: Want to be a Social Media Influencer? Here's how!

Rise Podcast with Rachel Hollis. Y'all know my love for Rachel Hollis runs deep. This podcast is no exception. This podcast has tons of interviews with phenomenal women, and some solo episodes. I have learned SO much from listening, and also been very inspired in both business and my personal life.
3 episodes to start with: Steps to ACTUALLY Achieve a Goal, How to Start Vlogging in 2018 (a lot can apply to blogging too), Turning a side hustle into a multi-million dollar business (interview with Erin Condren).

The Influencer Podcast with Julie Solomon. This is another great one for lots of tangible advice. She talks about specific topics as well as shares interviews with successful women in the influencer world. Julie is not stingy with her advice and tips, and each episode is packed with info you can start putting into place.
3 episodes to start with: 048: Is Blogging Dead + How to Grow Your Instagram Following in 2018, 018: Instagram Basics: Tips to Networking Without Being Fake, 008: Turn Blogging and YouTube into a Mega Business with Angela Lanter.

Christy Wright’s Business Boutique. Christy's podcast is mainly geared toward women starting and owning businesses, but a lot of it still applies to blogging. She is honest and so funny, and helping women succeed is her passion!
3 episodes to start with: Mom Entrepreneurs: Finding Success in Business and Motherhood, Episode 40: Top Traits of Highly Successful Women, Episode 11: How to Make the Most of Social Media.

Awesome with Allison. Allison's podcast is more of an encouragement/motivation podcast, but those are a huge foundation in having success with your blog or business. She's so honest and raw, and insanely motivating. You need to be following her on Instagram for sure, because she has the most amazing dance moves. She also hosts workshops for branding, so that is another thing you can check out!
3 episodes to start with: Episode 25: Big Picture Thinking vs. Small Picture Thinking, Episode 44: How to overcome crippling self doubt, Episode 50: Going after your dreams like a barracuda with Rachel Hollis

How I Built This with Guy Raz. Listen to this one to get inspired by some of the most successful entrepreneurs on the planet. They share their stories of how they started their companies - the good & the bad (because there are always failures, but that's the only way to get to success). 
3 episodes to start with: Kendra Scott: Kendra Scott, Barre3: Sadie Lincoln, Spanx: Sara Blakely.

Last but not least, I have a pinterest board where I save blogging tips and ideas if you're interested in following that as well! 


I hope these ideas and resources will help you get started or grow what you've already started. I'd love to chat with you about your blog if you ever have any questions. Leave a comment below or shoot me an email!


The Struggle is Real

June has kicked my butt. Although I probably shouldn't blame the month itself. It didn't do anything to me. It's just that the sequence of events and circumstances this month have teamed up together to try to single handedly take me down. Dramatic? Maybe. But it feels like an accurate depiction. Anyone else? (Raise your hand if you've been personally victimized by June)

I've been putting off writing about all of this for a few reasons:

1. I felt overwhelmed and incapable of putting all of my thoughts into legible sentences.

2. I felt like such a mess so I didn't see the point in writing. 

3. I didn't feel like I had anything of value to say. I don't want to just word vomit on you.

4. It's easier to zone out on TV than it is to sit and process your thoughts.

But I can't run and hide from it anymore. So although I feel a little terrified that I'm not quite sure where this is going and none of you even care, here we go!

First let me just say that I am fully aware that a lot of the aforementioned thoughts are lies. So let's acknowledge and replace those first, both for my benefit and yours.

1. I am not incapable, even if I feel like it.

2. I'm not a mess, even if I feel like it.

3. My words are valuable and important, even when they don't feel like it.

4. Well....the TV thing is true. But probably not healthy haha!

I also know it's a lie to think that none of you care. Some of you may not, but if you're here reading this then I know that you have to at least care a little bit. Even if caring just means you want to see the Hannah-crazy-train-wreck-show. WELCOME ABOARD!

I've shared a little bit of where my head has been at over in a few social media posts and stories. Let me briefly catch you up - Jonathan and I took a week long kid-free vacation, and the day after we got back was the first real day of summer with all 3 kids at home with me...all day long. I truly believe that the intense shift in my stress levels (from pure relaxation to full time SAHM to three young kids in the summer) caused me to crash a little bit. My body didn't know how to handle the influx of stress so it went into total fog mode. No energy, no clear headedness, no motivation. I was basically in survival mode trying to navigate how to function with breaking up constant fights between my older two while a very cute toddler had taken up the new hobby of screaming at my feet for the majority of the day. Maybe you saw this adorable picture I shared a few weeks ago?


The reason they were all able to climb on top of me was because I had been sitting on the floor feeling overwhelmed and foggy and stuck. One by one they made their way to me and thankfully pulled me out of the funk for a few minutes. Being home with three kids who have no way to understand "mama is struggling" is so hard, y'all. And can I also just take a second to say that it is not normal for a person to be yelled at all day? It's not normal and I don't need to beat myself up for feeling insane after multiple days of someone yelling at me or near me for 12 hours straight. That's basically torture. Again, dramatic? Maybe. But I'm thinking that more than a few of you are nodding your heads in agreement.

All of this was the first week of June. So around this time I was also starting to add stuff to my planner for the coming month here and there, which means I was constantly seeing "SURGERY" written in my planner for next month (if you're new here, you can get filled in on all of that in my last post). Everyday I would get that little nagging reminder, which would lead to a little bit of tightness in my chest. But I was in the midst of full time stay at home mom-ness so there wasn't time to freak out about it, or really even stop and think about it. So there I was trying to dig through this new borderline depression I'd found myself in, and in walks anxiety. 

Here's where some of my thoughts and feelings get a little tricky. Deep down, I know that I'm ok. I am at peace, I know I'm making the right decision about having this surgery. I know that I will be ok regardless of anything that happens. I am actively walking with Jesus through both the days leading up to this surgery and just the day-to-day parenting stuff. So when I tell people "I'm good", I mean it. But at the same time, I'm really not that good. I'm freaked out about a 8+ hour surgery. I have no idea what recovery will look like. I'll have to be away from my kids for a while to heal. I can't get any of the things done that I have been working on and planning the last few months (blogging, the shop I'm trying to open, art, etc.) because my kids are home with me all day. My brain is wiped at the end of the day. I am stressed to the max with being asked approximately 7 million questions per day, breaking up fights, dealing with my 4 year old's epic meltdowns, trying to navigate my 6 year old's sassy attitude, having a toddler scream at me every time I go to pee...not to mention trying to maintain solid friendships and a good marriage....and ya know, function as a normal human being. So while I am good, I am also kind of a disaster right now. 

When you have to continually suppress your feelings, like literally HAVE to because you can't have a freak out meltdown when you have three kids who need you, it's exhausting. Your emotions feel all over the place so when you sit down to try to sort through them, it feels impossible. Everything I do all day long is interrupted, so trying to keep a solid stream of thought once I finally have a brain feels so scattered. I have to actively fight the lie that I'm not a crazy person. I know that Satan wants nothing more than for me to feel like something is wrong with me. And I have bought that lie so many times. It's like he is a child pitching a fit and screaming at the top of his lungs trying to keep me from being able to think clearly, to pray, to hear from my Father on what is true. And what's true? Satan is a totally defeated enemy. He has absolutely no power if we don't allow him to. 

None of my circumstances have changed over the last few weeks. My kids are still hard. My surgery is still less than a month away. I still feel overwhelmed and stressed out. But I don't have to manage all of that in my own strength. I can be weak, and it's ok. I can be honest when people ask how I'm doing, even if it makes some people uncomfortable. I can admit that I'm struggling. I can let friends watch my kids for a few hours. I can accept a homemade meal. I can find supplements to help my energy and mood. I can find a counselor to meet with. I can take lots of deep breaths and call on Jesus every single moment of every single day, and with a clear mind I can tune into what He is saying to me. He may not rescue me from my circumstances, but He comes to my side and rescues my heart, rescues my mind and thoughts. 

Has it been hard to admit how much I've been struggling the last few weeks? A little bit. It feels embarrassing to say you feel like you can't handle your own life. It makes me feel like something is wrong with me that I am not enjoying this particular stage of mothering a lot of days. Or that I'm not marking things off my (non-existent) summer bucket list left and right. But every time I've shared even a tiny glimpse of this struggle, I am so relieved and encouraged with the amount of you that say "me too!". So even though being the one to go first is hard, I'll keep doing it time and time again. I want to give every other woman out there the space to be vulnerable too, and to know she's not alone. I know for a fact that I'm not the only one struggling, but it's still so easy to believe the lie that I am. So I will keep shouting the truth and all my craziness from the rooftops so that no other woman will even for a second buy into the lie that something is wrong with her. That she's not good enough. That she should have it all together. That she should be "enjoying every moment."

This life has hard seasons, and we aren't meant to walk through them in shame or by ourselves. Don't be afraid to let your friends in it with you. Don't be ashamed to let God in it with you (He already knows all of it anyway). Let His peace transform and heal you, and let Him use His people to show you love and grace. I hope you feel that here - loved and accepted. Because you are all of those things and so much more.

I told you at the beginning that I wasn't sure where all of this was going to go. And I'm still not sure if it went anywhere. All I know is that you are my friends, whether we know each other in person or not, and I want to always be real with you. I want to share my heart and my journey with you, the good and the hard stuff. So if we were hanging out this is the conversation I would hope to have with you. Friend, no matter what you're going through, you are not the only one. Even if our circumstances are different, I believe we all understand each other more than we think. You are so loved, my friends!