things i’m clickin’ this week.

Sign up for the Kate Spade surprise sales, y’all. I scored the cutest business card holder for dirt cheap last time! Or rather, I sent my husband multiple pictures and links until he scored it for me.

The #JCLA stream is archived and available for the next month. Do yourself a favor and check out the worship. If you only have time for one thing, though, watch Christa Black’s talk.

I’m really into my new glasses. Actually, I’m really into Firmoo in general. It was such a simple, hassle-free, and affordable process.

The SheReadsTruth app dropped and it is absolutely nothing short of life-changing.

I listened to this story on the way to work one morning and was moved. Isn’t this the way to communicate through conflict and experience growth in most areas of life? We could all do with a little less armor.

Several gardening books and small farm guides are en route to my house, thanks to this neat article on Mother Earth News‘ 2014 Homesteaders of the Year.

I watched this video at church, surrounded by middle and high school students, and promptly burst into tears. Women’s bodies are absolutely amazing.

A retired photographer recently found a decades-old collection of his work while cleaning out his storage unit, and I am thankful that he did.

Just in case you forgot the kind of Jesus I follow and the kind of church I call home, you can read more about the idea here – none of us deserve to be here anyway.

Try to watch this without smiling. As someone who’s been accused of having no sense of humor, this guy did the trick for me.

You know the topic of postpartum depression is near and dear to my heart, and Katherine is a champion for it. CNN recently did a piece on her work and I couldn’t be more excited for what her voice is doing.

On how we aren’t a blogging conference.

20140715-223518-81318290.jpg

I’m over on the Influence blog today, sharing a bit of my heart for our conference this September. Several of my “real-life” friends, and countless others online, have approached me in the past on this topic. I don’t blog. I’m about to quit blogging. I don’t know how to grow my blog. I’m not really into the business side of the Internet. Is the Influence Conference still for me?

The answer is, and will always be, a resounding yes. Read more here.

I sat down. I dug in.

photo

Several of you have asked for an update to this post and this one, and I figured Hadassah Lee’s turning one just might call for one. I’m grateful for you women who have spoken up and made sharing this piece of my story absolutely worth it.

I wept a lot as her birthday neared. I felt a frustration rise up, a sort of indignation, when people asked me why I was sad about my baby turning one. She’s it, y’all. She’s the last. And she’s the first baby I’ve ever looked at with confidence. Staring at her face got me through a lot of hard days and sleepless nights. I can do this. I’m doing this. I’m having a good time doing this.

I haven’t shared a lot of the daily dirt on my postpartum struggles, mostly because it sounds like a lot of defensive babbling. I still stand by my claim that I never suffered from depression. To this day, I haven’t felt anything remotely like hopelessness or despair. I’ve been there before, and I remember what it felt like. But this was different than that. Different from the baby blues, too. This was like, anxiety on steroids. Rage that made me feel other-worldly. Never in my life have I felt so out of control as I did during those long weeks last winter. There was a lot of calm calm BOOM happening. I’d go from folding laundry to slamming a door and screaming into my pillow. I found it difficult to enjoy my family, difficult to enjoy being home at all. I felt like a stranger, like something was wrong with me. Everyone else in my house seemed to know the secret recipe for contentment. Meanwhile, I was running sweaty, panicky laps around the house trying to find it. I saw a counselor a few times, which helped. I gave in to the joy when it overtook me, which helped too.

But what helped even more? I dug in. I didn’t run from it, or smile it away, or convince myself that it would pass. I didn’t even fully understand what it was, but I knew I had to deal with it head-on. There is no muscling our way out of seasons like these. So I quit fighting and I sat down. I dug in.

I dug into the Word. I read verses that spoke of hope and eternal perspective, and the fog began to clear. I dug into my marriage. I reached out to my husband each time I felt myself slipping into a rage. He asked good questions and volunteered sound advice, and the fog began to clear. I dug into my role as a mother, as shaky as it felt. I frenzy-cleaned less and snuggled more, and I tried to celebrate the chaos. I allowed myself to love them with the little oomph I had left, and the fog began to clear.

Things are still hazy around here. I’m not “back to normal” by a long shot. But I’m not sure there is some old version of normal to which I need to aspire. Because those things I listed above? Apparently, they’re all part of what we call healthy living. So maybe it’s time to sit down and dig in, on the regular.

Mulch matters, and other thoughts on tidiness.

20140701-170730-61650583.jpg

We’ve been a little bit outdoors-focused since the weather turned warm, and it’s been fun to watch the progress. Each week, we high-five each other at the realization that nothing has died yet. I recently hauled home nearly twenty bags of mulch to spread around our front porch.

As I prefer most things, I like to keep the area nice and tidy. It’s dark, eye-catching, and fluffy. And of course, I want it to stay that way. After a good summer rain does its best to carry my mulch to the neighbors, my husband faithfully treks outside to rake the runaway stuff back into place. Every single time, without me asking. And I have to admit sometimes I wonder, what’s the point?

Does it really matter, for things to look a certain way all of the time? Does my desire for order and tidiness suggest that I am petty, or prideful? I know I’ve touched on this before. Why does the “messy house, happy home” thing bother me so much?

In the book of Hebrews, the author writes of a heavenly kingdom that we Christians are always building. As followers of Jesus, we believe that the projects we attempt in this world, large or small, are just flecks. They’re tiny dots on the architectural plans that we’re building in eternity.

This message is a huge one, full of hope and inspiration. Set your eyes heavenward, and don’t be distracted by what you see around you. Don’t compare yourself to all of the women online, and the women with whom you do life on a regular basis. Don’t feel discouraged by the women who seem to be doing it better, with more tidiness and prettier photos and fancier jobs and better-behaved kids. You’re doing kingdom work. Eternal, heavenly work.

But. Y’all? The mulch matters, too. What I want, for my home and my family and my life’s future, it matters. I’m not saying all of these dreams and goals will come to fruition, but God made me this way and He loves to see his kids happy. Mulch in my yard, in just the right way? It makes me happy. I know I must be careful on such a road, one that could quickly turn to pride. But at the same time, I just can’t believe that there is something wrong with wanting a tidy life. My mulch might might just a fleck, but it matters. I’m not afraid to fight to maintain a sense of self, but I’m not afraid to get messy while I figure it out, either. Because He’s in the tidiness, and He’s in the messes too.

Reflections on a photo removed from Instagram.

A few days ago, I posted a photo of the twins in their undies. They were coloring on the chalkboard wall in the kitchen after church, while I planned meals and made a grocery list. One of them bent down to try on my discarded shoes, when she noticed her sister had a sticker in her hair. I snapped a photo as I smiled at the two of them working together, a cooperation which promptly ended as one of them discovered it was fun to pull more than the just the sticker.

A few hours and sweet comments after I posted it, I received an email that it had been removed. I’ve seen this happening all over Instagram as of late, so when I figured out which photo it was, I wasn’t super surprised. I’m not convinced that the bare top half of a toddler is nudity, but I’m also not going to crusade for the right to post such photos of my children on such a platform. I have to be honest and say that I just don’t feel that strongly either way about it. I’ve also heard that there isn’t a team of people monitoring content on Instagram. Apparently, it’s more of a system mechanism that removes photos and deactivates accounts automatically based on users reporting them. If this is all in the name of protection, I understand. But the concept of protection carries a lot of vague weight, and I’d be lying if I said I haven’t wrestled with it.

I felt a little discouraged as I put my phone down that night. Would it have been different if my daughters had been in bathing suits? Or if they had been boys? Why are people using phrases like “exploiting” and “exposing?” Am I really putting my children at risk, clothed or unclothed, by talking about them on the Internet? What about this idea that our children are a social experiment, with a comparison of online moms to celebrity moms? And what about audience? Does it matter how many followers we have, or what kind of privacy settings we place on our accounts? Predators who want nude photos of children have full access to it outside of Instagram, as much as it pains me to type it. And these questions extend far beyond the World Wide Web. While the Internet is relatively new, protecting children from shame and over-sharing is not. There have always been photographs flashed, stories shared, pageants entered, slideshows broadcast. So what does this look like in 2014?

Because I’ve been on the Internet longer than I’ve been a mom, I’ve just been learning as I go. Isn’t that what parenting life is, anyway? I think I keep a pretty tight filter on the things I post when it comes to my kids. I want to provide an online presence that my children can look back on fondly. I don’t dish details or stories that will embarrass them. In fact, I rarely even give names when sharing. I check in frequently with my stepsons regarding social media and even show them each photo before I post it, to make sure they’re okay with it. I want photos and tweets and blog posts that empower my family, both now and in the future.

I’m a mommy blogger by default, because I write and I have children. I don’t have a business, and I’m not fashionable or creative enough to inspire people with lifestyle posts. I can’t escape the mommy blogger label, and that’s okay. But I don’t have all of the answers and I don’t do this motherhood thing perfectly; and that’s exactly why I’m staying here. The gray is where I almost always plant my flag, and this topic isn’t any different. I want to share, but I want to learn even more. I want to stay tender to change and open to dialogue. So to each one of you who has already or will share your heart with me on this in the future, I thank you. I’m glad we’re in this together.

Hands on, hands off. Toil, trust.

P1080976

Strawberry season has come and nearly gone. We’re grateful to be in a sweet spot of the country for these delicious treats, and we’re humbly (HUMBLY) attempting to grow some ourselves. As in, we rescued a few dying plants from the clearance rack at Lowe’s, in hopes that they’ll bounce back next season. So far, they’ve perked up and produced exactly two berries. Regardless of their success, though, you can find us next year at the U-pick patch down the road from our house. These strawberry fields represent a place where toil and trust come together, and sometimes I just need to be in it to be reminded of it again.

I’m not a stranger to hard work, but I’m no farmer. These folks know the art of work. There are so many details and timetables that go into farming, it almost blows my mind. It’s literally a full time job to keep up with the land and the weather and the what comes next. So they commit to it, full time, night and day. They get little rest, and almost no vacation. And yet, at the end of each day, they still have to trust in something other than themselves. They’ve done all that they can do to produce good fruit, but at some point it leaves their control. What a beautiful, faithful work.

Lord, let me live in this balance. Hands on, hands off. Hands on, hands off. Toil, trust. Toil trust.

the perfect boiled egg

P1080943

I know it’s supposed to be one of the easiest things to make, but I’ve had quite a time of it learning to boil eggs. Recently, I found the perfect recipe for my family’s tastes and preferences. This method makes for a nice yolk and an easy peel job. Hope it works as well for you!

Place six eggs in a pot and cover with warm water. Don’t fill the pot.

Bring pot to a boil, for a total time of ten to twelve minutes. Add more time for more eggs.

Place pot under running cold water, allowing it overflow and replace hot water.

Add ice, and give it about ten minutes or until the ice melts and the water is cool.

Peel and store in airtight container in refrigerator. Enjoy all week long!

summer bucket list.

DIY/distress a pair of oversized jean shorts.

Plant a few things, inside and out.

Take my family on a day trip.

Paint my kids’ bedrooms.

Learn more about WordPress.

Try yoga at least one time.

Read two books. Maybe three.

Create a his & hers office space.

Re-think/re-build my wardrobe.

Paint a canvas for my kids.

Start a new set of Powersheets.

Teach the 3LP to write their names.

Influence Conference Giveaway

FULL INFLUENCE EXPERIENCE

It’s officially conference season, and we’re officially running a pretty fantastic giveaway to celebrate!

The winner will receive “The Full Influence Experience,” with over $1000 in prizes:

An Influence Conference Ticket ($250 value)

$250 Airline Voucher

2 nights at the Westin Hotel ($300 value)

$50 Sashes Market Gift Voucher

10 Class Pack ($100 Value)

Lifetime Membership to The Influence Network ($200)

 

This is a big deal, y’all!

Right this way to enter…
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Cruisin’

20140527-225402-82442046.jpg

Surprise! Instead of taking the big boys to the beach for Memorial Day weekend like we’d told them, we hopped on a boat with a total of twenty-two family members and headed to the Bahamas to celebrate my grandparents’ sixty-fifth wedding anniversary. Check out the #ninapapa65th hashtag on Instagram for some of our photos. It was definitely a trip of a lifetime!