Faith

Learning to Rise

Last week I hopped on a plane and traveled over 1000 miles in hopes of a few things: a fun time with one of my best friends, downtime away from my kids, and to have my butt lovingly kicked by a line up of fantastic speakers at the Rise Conference. I’m happy to report that I checked off all three, and then some. I dug into some hard things, learned some powerful truths, and left feeling more energized and certain than I’ve felt in a long time. 

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That whole weekend, along with this underlying dream I’ve had in my heart for years and years to do something BIG that I just have been too afraid to tap into, was really the catalyst into the changes you are seeing with this blog, this space (if you missed Wednesday's announcement you may want to stop and go read that first). I came home excited but also scared to say out loud the dreams and beliefs I was having in myself. The dream to reach and encourage more women. The dream to build this community even bigger and stronger that it is now. The dream to share my story in big and small spaces. The dream to be a provider for my family. Although I am really sad to see Courtney step back from this community we built together and to close that chapter of Cold Coffee Hot Mess, I am so thankful that we are both in a place where we can clearly see the right paths for ourselves. And although they ended up being different paths, they are both good because they are what is right for each of us. How lucky are we? Two women standing sure and confident in their dreams.

I think it can be easy to look around and see what someone else is doing and think that’s what you should be doing, too. But at the end of the day we have to let go of any guilt we are feeling over something we aren’t wired for, or something we don't even want to do in the first place (that truth bomb is from Mica May of May Designs). We aren’t in competition with one another and our dreams don’t need to look like anyone else’s. Can you even imagine a world where we all were trying to do the exact same thing? How sad would that be?? We each have such rich things to bring to the table. And the beauty is that there’s enough room for each and every one of us. If we waste our time comparing and striving for something that isn’t right for us, we are going to be left exhausted and depleted. Comparison is truly the death of joy. I’ll add in that striving for something that you aren’t supposed to be striving for is a sure way to kill joy in your life, too.

I’ve learned that sometimes the biggest obstacles we face in going after what we want is ourselves. I had this moment sitting and listening to these amazing women on the stage at Rise and thinking of all of the people in my life that I could see doing something similar. But not once did I think “I could do that!” Gut punch. I knew I had to dig in to that a little bit, no matter how overwhelming it felt. I’m not saying I necessarily want to do something like speak on a big stage, but there is no reason I shouldn't believe that I’m incapable of doing that if I really want to do it. You are the only person who can decide how big your dreams are going to be.

The image that comes to mind when I hear “dreams” is some beautiful magical thing. But you know what else dreams can be? Scary. Hard. Intimidating. But dreams don’t go away just because they get hard. You can let them go away (like I’ve done more times than I can count), but they will still linger there, begging you to pick them up again. But the time is going to pass one way or another. What’s on the other side of hard that you are allowing yourself to miss out on? You are worth the time. You are worth the effort. You are worth keeping promises to. Want to hear one more major truth bomb? If you’re not willing to push forward to make your own space (in whatever way that means to you), then you can’t be mad that there aren’t people who look like you at the table. Excuse me while I stand and applaud again (this mad wisdom came from the beautiful and smart Elizabeth Lascaze). 

What it all boils down to is this: Life isn’t happening to you, it’s happening for you. Take advantage of whatever it is you feel like you are called to. You can’t change your circumstances. But you can change your response. You, and only you, are in control of how you act and live. You choose your attitude. You choose what you can or cannot do. We all have a past and a story - both good and bad. You can either cling to it, hide from it, or you can choose to make peace with it. And the only way you will move forward is to make peace and stand on where you have come from. We all have our junk. We all have hard things. But maybe you’ve been given a mountain to show others that it can be moved (quote from Elyse Snipes). Keep moving forward at all costs. Write your own story. Make your own way. Be unrelenting as you go after whatever your thing is, whatever is setting your soul on fire.

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Girl, Wash Your Face

The Lie: I'm not enough.

As far back as I can remember I’ve wanted to fit in. To keep up with my big sister and older cousins (they used to chase me with locust shells, and they gave me the superhero name "Fruit Juices", which I thought was SO cool, much to their amusement). Be in the latest “club” on the elementary school play ground. Be noticed by the popular boy in 5th grade (I still remember a group of girls getting him to pretend like he was coming to tell me he liked me, and then them all laughing). Stand in the popular kids' spot before classes in middle school. Get my ponytail as high and my bow as big as the girls in eighth grade. Be on the high school dance team.

2017 In Review

Although it seems impossible to believe, we have reached the end of another year. 2017 is almost over! We are about to step into a new year and all that comes along with it. Resolutions will be made. Some will be kept, most won't (raising my hand here). As we move into a new year, I want to be more intentional in setting goals for myself. I want to take the time to look back on the last year and see what worked and what didn't. What was good, and what could use some work.

2017 has honestly been a great year in my life. I talked a lot about this when I wrote about turning 30 a couple of months ago. But adding Gibson to our fam and figuring out (using that term real loosely here, folks) life with three has made this year feel like a total blur. So if I don't stop and truly take this time to reflect, I'm going to miss all that this year had to offer me. And it was A LOT. I hope you're willing to go along with me and hear what I have learned, and then take the time to do this yourself!

Head Above Water

I don't know about y'all, but at least once a day I am astounded at my brain's ability to forget something. It probably has something to do with being responsible for three non-self-sufficient little people. And, you know, running my own life as well. No big deal. It's easy to feel like I'm floundering trying to keep everything running (somewhat) smoothly. Soccer games, school lunches, laundry, what's for dinner?, carpool, birthday parties, doctor's appointments. The list goes on and on. And for a lot of us moms, we are the ones who keep all this stuff in check and in order. It's enough to make anyone's head hurt. And it's enough to make you feel completely drained. Once you've doled out all of your energy running everyone else's schedule and life, it doesn't seem like there's much time for you. There are a few practical things I try to follow in order to not totally lose my sanity.

Wake up early. I know, I know. You may totally be rolling your eyes at me. I used to be that person, too. I want every single last millisecond of sleep I can get. But I cannot even begin to tell you how life-changing it has been for me to wake up before my kids. Before the demands and the rush and the "WHERE ARE YOUR SOCKS?!". Taking the time at the beginning of the day to just be is a game-changer. Some days it's just sitting in the quiet and drinking my coffee. Other days it's working, exercising, reading, journaling, etc. You can get so much done in an hour, and it's infinitely easier than trying to do it during the middle of the day. And it's so good to make time for yourself. Doing it first thing is a guarantee that it will happen. Trust me. Try it just for one week and see what happens!

Prep the night before. Make lunches, sign homework sheets, load the dishwasher, heck you can even make some overnight oats to make breakfast easier. Do as much as you can to make the morning easier before you go to sleep. Nothing starts the day off on the wrong foot like rushing like a mad woman to try to get it all together before the school bus shows up or you have to be out the door.

Write things down. If someone tells you something you need to remember, write it down. If you have a play date or an appointment, write it down. If you think of something you need to remember to grab at the store, write it down. You get the idea. Get a good planner and use it (we both love Erin Condren's Life Planner).

Be ok with saying "no". There is already so much on your plate just doing the day-to-day life stuff. It's easy to totally stretch yourself thin. You've got to learn to be ok with saying "no" to things. A quote that I've heard from a few different places is "if it's not a hell yes, then it's a no". I think that is some great advice and I try to use it when it comes to taking more things on.

Make the time for friends. Friends are so life-giving (at least they should be!). Our friends build us up, speak truth into our lives, make us laugh, and even call us out when we need it. Make time for that in your life. Play dates are awesome, but make sure you have time to spend with your people without the kids, too. I really would lose my mind sometimes if it weren't for my amazing friends (seriously, y'all rock).

Exercise. No, I don't spend hours in a gym. I don't even workout every day, although I'd like to. It's true what they say about endorphins. They make such a difference in your mood and mental state. Try to move your body everyday! Even if it's just a few minutes. Grab a few crunches when you're on the floor playing with the kids. Pick up the baby and do some squats. Just move. Instant mood-lifter!

All of these things honestly help me feel sane and functional in my day to day life. But our own checklists and abilities will only take us so far. "Life in Christ is not merely a life of survival, but of thriving and flourishing in His presence." That's a quote I wrote down months ago from a Bible study I was doing (Flourish from Well Watered Women). Honestly some days it seems like it takes everything we have just to survive the day. And there is victory in that, obviously. If everyone made it through the day in one piece we should totally be grateful. But we were made for so much more than just surviving. And if every single day feels defeating and you wake up each morning with dread of what you're about to face, chances are you are living out of your own resources and abilities. Thank the sweet Lord we don't have to live that way though.

Because most of the time our circumstances are outside of our control. Sadly we cannot control our kids' emotions (ugh), especially when they're little. Our circumstances cannot be what dictates how we function. Sometimes the waters are calm, and sometimes the waves crash in one on top of the other. You may feel like you're drowning. No matter how strong you are, there's only so much you can take. You work and try as hard as you can, but eventually your strength will fail and the water will win. But Jesus. He will keep your head above the water. He will keep you afloat. I am so thankful for a dear friend who so eloquently shared that truth with me.

We don't have to merely survive this life. We were made to have a beautiful, abundant, enjoyable life. Our circumstances may be wonderful or they may be awful and make us want to rip our hair out. But we know where our hope and strength is found, and it's not in our own ability to handle our obstacles, or even our daily lives.

"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me." 2 Corinthians 12:9

I feel weak and incapable more often than not if I'm being honest. But His grace is sufficient. He shows up in our weakness. Each wave, each hurtle, each moment you feel like you're drowning is an opportunity to lean in and trust Him.

What are some practical ways you maintain your sanity and peace? Do you struggle to trust Jesus in your day-to-day life, with the big stuff and the small stuff? We would love to hear from you in the comments!

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On Turning Thirty

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Today I celebrate my thirtieth birthday. The big 3-0, dirty thirty, whatever you want to call it. I really don't have any mixed emotions about turning thirty. I'm excited about it. I feel like there's so much good ahead of me. But it is strange to have a full decade to look back and truly reflect on. I couldn't really do that at any other "milestone" birthday before this one (my twenty year old self wasn't quite wise enough to look back on lessons learned for years 10-19, ya know?).

I'll tell you this first. Year 29 was a good year. Maybe the best for me yet. I've changed and grown significantly in the last 10 years (thank the Lord). But this past year just stands out to me as one of major growth and happiness. Maybe most importantly, we welcomed our sweet Gisbon to the world in January. He is pure joy. And me? I feel good and confident in my own skin, in being who I am. I am (and am becoming) more settled and sure of myself and my life each day. I think that's what has me most looking forward to my thirties - continuing to grow in confidence and certainty.

I don't mean to diminish or act like years 20-28 were bad. Because they definitely weren't. I married Jonathan when I was 20. We had our first baby, Evan, when I was 24. We welcomed Porter at 26, built and moved into our forever home at 27. We got rooted into our incredible church, made good friends, and learned the truth about our identity in Jesus. There was so much positive growth and change in my life. But sometime in the last year or two God started stirring some things up inside of me. He opened my eyes to ways I could make a difference in the world, and ways I could use my talents and ideas. I think that's probably just part of growing older - seeing outside of yourself and gaining confidence. But He also started to unpack some layers and burdens I didn't even know I was carrying.

My twentieth birthday was kind of like a sad scene in a movie. Jonathan planned dinner at one of my favorite restaurants and we invited all of my friends. We reserved a table for ten, showed up at the restaurant....and none of my friends came. Yep. Two of Jonathan's friends came (who were also people I was friends with, but not my friends, ya know?). It definitely hurt my feelings, but I don't think I realized how big of a wound it caused until recently. I used to love my birthday, and I think that night marked the night that I really quit trying to plan anything for myself.

I have told that story as a silly anecdote year after year. But underneath my laugh about it was a whole lot of hurt. And at the root of it was the fear that no one would show up for me.

I think without realizing it I've allowed myself to spend the last 10 years feeling "less than" in the friend department. Like I didn't have much to offer. I let myself slide into feeling like the back-burner friend - the add on, the obligatory invite. In some instances, sure it may have been true. But I am just now getting to the point where I can accept that I do have something, a lot of things, to offer. That I am a good friend. I'm not trying to sound cocky or toot my own horn. But I am going to stop under-valuing myself and believing the lie that I don't bring much to the table. Because that's a miserable way to live. I want rich and deep friendships, and if I'm continuously second-guessing myself then those relationships are going to suffer. I'm going to be firmly planted in who I am and the personality God has given me...the "Hannah expression of Jesus". I'm going to invest my time in life-giving people and friendships. God's sent me the most amazing, wonderful friends. And I want to be that kind of friend to them, too.

Turning 30 has me wanting to leave a lot of the mess of my 20s in the dust. I'm "too old" to live under that kind of bondage. Although honestly I wouldn't really want to go back and change anything about my life and circumstances because they brought me to where I am now, sometimes I wish I could go back and whisper some truth and hope into the ear of that girl I once was. For her to know of the good things and good friends to come down the road.

This birthday has already been a great one. And it's been healing; healing in ways I didn't realize I needed it to be because of wounds that have been buried deep. The opening of those wounds has of course been painful, but also very cathartic. I'm excited about the year and the decade ahead and all of its possibilities. I feel like I'm just cracking the door open to all God has ahead of me. And I can't wait to be sitting down a year from today and reflecting on all of it to share with you. It's going to be good, y'all. I can feel it.