How to Not Drown in Your Crappies

fall-1Samuel is napping while I fluff up our home with festive touches of fall and consider the season of Thanksgiving that’s approaching. I don’t know about you but I often fight gratitude with reasons. With cold hard facts and cruel reality. I have my reasons for being bitter and resentful and unhappy.. Don’t we all? Life can be a real beat down. But I’m learning that truly being grateful for my life isn’t just giving thanks that my “happies” outnumber my “crappies” – it’s often a fight for the right priorities. What things, of all the list of happies and crappies really matters? Long term. Big picture. Eternal perspective. That shift in focusing on priorities helps me so much when I’m struggling to be grateful. It also helps when I remember that I’m not supposed to endure crappies all by myself.

Listen to me – You will drown in your crappies if you’re trying to go it alone.

Here’s what you do to avoid drowning:

1. Get to know God. Study Jesus. – This sounds so “woo woo wacko” if you’re not someone who thinks about or cares much about who God is or isn’t. It also may sound like 2 steps but they’re one in the same. This is a crucial step. Why? Well, if for no other reason than you were made in His image. He put you together so if you have beef with Him or questions about stuff that’s true of you/been done to you/you’ve done to others – start the conversation by pursuing Him. *Spoiler alert – He’s already and always pursuing you. So, you’re about 15…20… FOREVER years behind. It’s OK though, totally worth jumping in and getting to it. I recommend picking up a Bible and reading the book of John – it’s in the New Testament, 4th book down if you’re looking at the Table of Contents.

The more you learn about God, the more you understand about yourself. I do this by reading the Bible on a regular basis, praying, and talking to other people about just about anything from God to parenting to careers to hobbies etc. Which leads me to my second tip to avoid drowning in your own crappies

2. Let yourself be known by other people. – Full disclosre: I’m bad at this. All of my closest friends (spouse included) will tell you I’m bad at this. I have a tendency to hide behind all of my happies, sweep the crappies under the rug until they explode and then it’s like a shitstorm. Pardon my french but it’s a quite accurate metaphor is it not? When you let other people know when you’re hurt, angry, lonely, scared, or confused you may be amazed to discover they still love you any way. EVEN ALL OF YOUR CRAPPIES. Use caution with who you let into your shitstorm though because it ain’t a pretty place and you need the real troopers who will wade in and pull you out without feeling the need to pinch their nose.

fall-2So if you’re like me and you’re so super excited about Fall and PSL and OMG CRUNCHY LEAVES but you’re kind of feeling a little (or a lot) like you’re drowning in crappies, it may behoove you to dive into the aforementioned steps and see what happens. Maybe by the time Thanksgiving rolls around you will be able to lift your glass at the obligatory “thankful toast” and experience in your heart – real and abiding gratitude for the life you’re living right now.

Addressing the chronic dreamers

Do you know what separates the dreamers from the doers? – Action.

Dreamers live in the ethereal. They are often visionaries and they’re motivational and inspiring and their ideals are beautiful. We need dreamers! We need people who can see what is and dream about what could be.

But we need more dreamers to become doers.

Doers write down their dreams and then they try it. They go. They work. And doers fail a lot and cry a lot and doubt a lot. And doers WIN a lot. Just by showing up and trying. Doers have tasted the bitter bile of disappointment. They have swallowed it and they have tried again.

I have always been a dreamer. I love to wonder and think big and describe great truths and marvel at how great God is.

But I am often too scared to be a doer. Because I’ve “failed” a lot with dreams. My plan A’s are so often turned into Plan “WTF”’s. At least that’s how I’ve seen my efforts since the beginning of this year. I haven’t written 15 minutes every day, I certainly haven’t blogged consistently and my efforts to train for a half-marathon have been completely reset by 2 weeks out with an injury and nasty head cold.

I’m paralyzed by how imperfect my dream-doing is. I’m so tired of making promises I haven’t been able to keep to myself – there’s only so much self-inflicted shame one person can handle. So instead of trying I’m tempted to just stop everything. Give up. I cannot disappoint myself or anyone else if I stop making promises altogether, right?

But here’s what I’ve been missing about the dream equation – a setback is not a broken promise. It’s not a reason to give up on a dream or beat myself up. A setback is just that. It sets me a little farther back. It causes me to re-trace my steps.

New Kicks! Taking it one step at a time.

New Kicks! Taking it one step at a time.

Failure is not found in the working out of a dream – it’s found in the premature abandonment of it. If you want to dream – dream! If you want to change your life – DO. Go for it. Get back up again, reevaluate, tweak, and push forward.

The process of a dream is such a mess isn’t it? I know people who are aspiring authors, nurses, marathoners, and musicians and if you peek into the middle of their “doing” it looks nothing like the end result. The first nursing shift began after countless hours of burning through highlighters and flashcards and studying. The finish line started at 5am, day after day after day, months before race day. It was achieved through uncomfortable, tiring, focused, effort.

We need less “A dream is a wish your heart makes” and more “A dream comes at a cost, and you’re heart may break a thousand times in the process.” No Disney princess jumped on that rendition. I mean, what rhymes with “process”? And no way that can fit on a pillowcase. Let’s be real.

This is all part of me trying to process what I learned from a women’s conference at

2016-02-05 22.13.56my church last weekend. Nobody explicitly talked about dreaming and doing but there were enough exhortations to make my head spin by the end of it, “Drop your water jar! (you had to be there) Take up your cross! Love your next-door neighbor! Reach the world! Free the captives! Sponsor a child! Give! Go! Be!” So I’m working on untangling all the truth I heard by pulling on one strand at a time.

Today I pulled the thread that examines my inactivity towards my dreams. My tendency to be paralyzed when I’m faced with missed expectations. I know now that I have permission to dream but a responsibility to DO. What does that look like in my life right now? Well on Sunday, I laced up my running shoes again and got back out there. Nevermind the herds of women in matching outfits and free-flying ponytails who breezed by me while they chatted. UGH. People who “chat” while running past me. Ugh. I just. You are hard for me to love. But nevermind all that!

My doing looks like running and writing. What’s yours? Could I encourage you to get

2016-02-06 18.24.03back at it? If you are a chronic dreamer like me, let this act as a swift kick in the rear to get at it. To stop circling the dream over and over in your mind, analyzing all of the potential heartache that comes from going for it and just deciding once and for all that it’s too important to let it sit dormant in your mind and it must make waves in your actual life.

On sleep training and trailblazing

Sleep training is for the birds, y’all. It just is. And parenting is ridiculous. The terrifying realization that you will be training this tiny human in one way shape or form or another, until they spread their wings and sleep through the night  leave the house (whichever comes first I guess); this is just a mind-boggling reality. Once they learn how to self-soothe they still need to learn how to use a potty, handle a fork, read, write, speak, listen, respect, share, give, forgive, ask for forgiveness, put on pants, solve algebra problems, look both ways before crossing the street.. I mean, really. The list is endless.

When you become a parent, you become a teacher. But instead of the predictable rhythms of arithmetic or the hard and fast rules of grammar and punctuation, you’re teaching them about life. You know? That thing you’ve screwed up in a million times? You have to teach someone else how to navigate it. And it starts with how to fall asleep and it ends with never. It doesn’t end. And if that’s not the most intimidating task on the planet, I don’t know what is.


This is the face of a baby who fought sleep all day long but will sleep like an angel when you place him in a carrier at 5 o’ clock just so you can make dinner. The little stinkbutt.

For the majority of the day now my darling son wails in his crib like he’s under attack. I know he’s fed, his diaper is clean and that in his heart of hearts he just wants me to pick him up and play. I can’t blame him for this. I’m a pretty fun person to play with lets just be real. But naps have to happen and sleep during the night has to happen or mommy may end up running out of the house screaming like a banshee never to return. So we do what we do to survive and in the meantime there are many tears and pulling out of hair and quiet murmurings in the corner of “I’m not the bad guy. I’m not the bad guy. This is good for him. Long term goals. Long term. LONG TERM *@^#(&% GOALS!!”

So. Who wants to hang out at the Lavoie house? We are having ALL the fun over here.

In all seriousness, I think the most difficult part of being a parent has been the staggering reality that John and I have no idea what we’re doing. Truly. We are tasked with raising a human and our preparation has been exactly zero. Last night while nursing Samuel I considered how parenting feels a whole lot like trail blazing. Only, instead of bravely marching “where no man has gone before!”with confidence and fervor, we are just stumbling around the jungle with dull machetes, lopping off vines and tall grasses and hoping we don’t harm ourselves or anybody else in the process. It ain’t always instagrammable lemme just say.

With the first kid it is all so painfully and wonderfully NEW. Every thing is new. Every. Single. Thing.

Consecutive children are a little less unnavigable (or so I’m told) although they do come with their own unique challenges. But still. At least with consecutive kiddos you don’t find yourself wrestling with the car seat for 15 minutes in the YMCA parking lot while people walk by and try not to stare; or you don’t push your stroller around with the front wheels locked for hours on end and just assume you’re supposed to feel this much resistance while strolling around because everything else has been ten times harder than you imagined so of course strollers will be this difficult, right? These are all hypothetical “for examples” of course. Who would actually do that stroller thing? EMBARRASSING.

Hi Mom! Aren't I adorable? :)

Hi Mom! Aren’t I adorable? 🙂

The craziest thing about being a parent so far has been how, after all of this work and tears and wondering and second guessing and doubting, I just love my little bug more than anything in the world. When he smiles it’s like POOF! mom’s a puddle of warm fuzzies. I just want time to stop for a second so I can never ever ever forget it. His eyes light up with mischief and he starts to giggle and coo when he sees me and I can’t handle it. It’s too much. Being a mom requires so much from me but God, in his grace, gives baby smiles and minutes shared between just the two of us that fly straight from the moment into the deepest, sweetest spaces in my heart. I’m told I’ll forget all of the sleeplessness and tears in a few months (glory hallelujah!) but I am determined to keep the smiles.

If you have or currently are sleep training or potty training or basically just being a parent who is involved in your child’s upbringing — I salute you! We’re in this together. May we pick up our machetes and keep on keepin’ on! We are trailblazers for the next generation even as they poop on us or fight sleep like it’s the plague.

It’s whatever, kiddos. We’re here for the long haul and it’s bound to get messy but we’re gonna love you til it hurts and that’s a promise both of us can count on.

Pregnancy, unfiltered.

I’ll be 37 weeks tomorrow – AKA FULL-TERM!! So close and yet so far from holding my dear son in my arms. So before the munchkin arrives I wanted to share a little about my own pregnancy journey in a no-nonsense, no instagram filters, kind-of-way. This is probably the longest post I’ve written. Read at your own leisure/risk etc.

Your intestines – Jumping right in, let’s talk about bowels. During the first trimester I swore my body forgot how to poop. All my intestines basically stopped what they had been doing for the past 26 years to just stare at this new little lima bean growing in my womb while my digested meals were like, “Uhh. Guys? Are we just supposed to wait here?” Two words for you ladies: Stool. Softener. This became my first (of many) unglamorous companions of pregnancy. It was the friend I didn’t want other people to know I was friends with but secretly we had the best of times. Thank you docusate sodium, you were/are a game-changer.

Also? Heartburn. It happens. Especially in the third trimester. TUM TA TUM TUM TUUUMMS! But wait! There’s more! Gas. You thought it was bad when you ate that questionable Tex-Mex? Giiiirl. Just wait til you have a BIG BIG appetite and a SQUISHED SQUISHED intestinal tract. Every meal you ever eat will somehow manage to leave it’s mark on the environment around you. If human beings farted confetti, let’s just say pregnant women would be leading the parade. Just let your man know now — it’s gonna be death con 5 in the third trimester. And from what I’m told, it may never get better. So… who’s ready to snuggle?!

Your brain – Say goodbye to complete sentences and embrace the awkward pauses that will now plague almost every conversation you have (including those you have with yourself). To-do lists are a cute idea but if you’re like me, they just get lost with everything else, and the ones on my phone are no exception. One day I checked my phone and I literally clicked accidentally on a to-do list. And then as I read this list I felt increasingly useless and inadequate and incompetent as a mother-to-be and cried into my chocolate milk. Which leads me to the next thing.

Your hormones – Every woman experiences these suckers in a different way. I’d like to think I was pretty, you know, “low key” when it came to crazy emotional outbursts. But then John snarfed on the water he was drinking when I mentioned that perspective and I now realize I may have been a little more.. ahem..  unpredictable than I had imagined. *Note: The only time it’s OK to talk a pregnant woman out of a hormonal situation is when she’s convincing herself of what a terrible mom she’s gonna be/what a disaster this is etc. That’s no bueno. But if she just wants to rant for 5 minutes about how stupid bees are or needs to show you half a dozen hallmark commercials while sniffling into your shoulder.. just let it be.

#sexyandiknowit #cankles

#sexyandiknowit #cankles

Your extremities – This last trimester, I’ve convinced myself that my body is allergic to walking, thinking, breathing, existing anywhere that is not air-conditioned. When I walk for any amount of time in the heat, it’s like my hands and feet are all like, “Oh. So THIS is how you’re gonna be huh? THIS is how it’s goin’ down? Yeah. Ok. You can kiss your size 10 shoes GOODBYE. And I hope you weren’t planning on handling anything like a pen or your car keys because all of your fingers gonna be the size of a roll of quarters mmmk?”  So, hello cankles. Apparently you’re a real thing.

You can't see it very well but this is me sporting my new bedtime companion! We tried a variety of brands and sizes. I still snore.

You can’t see it very well but this is me sporting my new bedtime companion! We tried a variety of brands and sizes. I still snore.

Your sinuses – Ugh. This one was a real blow for me, ladies. Before becoming pregnant I had already woken up my husband more times than I could count with my snoring. And he um… he already wore earplugs to bed before we got married. (God is sovereign). Things got bad in the second trimester in terms of just how often I was waking him up in the middle of the night. I joked that I was preparing him for life with a newborn! He wasn’t buying it. And so enters, unglamorous pregnancy companion #2 – Breathe right strips. I had tried these in the past but not with much success. Still, I was desperate and I wanted to make it look like I was at least trying to silence the grizzly bear within. They helped a little bit. I still wear them to bed but I think they may only be operating as a placebo effect. John sees it on the bridge of my nose before falling asleep and thinks, “Well. Something is better than nothing.”

Your wardrobe – Let’s just say the number of maternity undergarments that inspire you to “be the best, sexiest you” based on their flirtatious patterns and designs are just… nowhere. Am I grateful for those who have thought about the comfort of the mama-to-be by creating underwear the size of circus tents? Yes. Very grateful. But I’d have to say that maternity underwear is my unglamorous companion #3. Do the words “granny panties” mean anything to you? They mean EVERYTHING to me right now.

DSC02471Your body image – Being pregnant has legitimately challenged my self-esteem when I look in the mirror. The truth is, you gain weight when you’re pregnant! It’s healthy and normal and good for the baby. But maybe when people say you look great, you acknowledge it with a smile but then run away from iPhone cameras and selfies and embrace taking pictures of anything else. Ladies — I feel you on this.  I weigh the most right now that I have ever weighed in my entire life. And even though it’s “normal” and “good” it’s also been hard and embarrassing. And it’s revealed to me how much it matters to me what I look like. Vanity is sneaky that way.


I’m still a work-in-progress on this one. I have resolved to step in front of the camera, to celebrate this season, and to drown out lies about unrealistic body image with the truth and wonder of being a vessel for new life. It helps when you have a husband who is so excited about your growing belly, too. And it always helps to laugh when you find yourself squatting to reach for something (unsuccessfully) or grunting like an old curmudgeon every time you get into and out of a chair. C’est la pregnancy! I bet my baby won’t give one thought to what I look like. He’s just gonna want to be taken care of and loved on like every child in this world. And I can confidently tell you, as I look into the mirror and smile at my reflection, that I am the BEST woman for that job.

So, as a recap – pregnancy upsets and shakes up and messes with you and your body. And pregnancy is a miracle. A big, granny-panty-wearing, stool-softening, cankle-forming, snoring, farting wonder. I raise my bottle of water fast-food cup of Coke to you, fellow mamas-to-be out there. In solidarity we shall waddle to the finish line and celebrate the tiny little munchkins that will set us on yet another journey: To motherhood! To stool softener! To YOU.

To the man who puts up with all of it. I love you!

To the man who has put up with this whole journey and reminds me of how much he loves me and is excited about our son – I LOVE YOU. Thanks for loving me in every season.

My Strengths: A Tale of Personality and Pancakes

Before marrying my husband I thought of myself as a fairly neat and organized person. Sure, I left the occasional pile but it was always neatly stacked and I tried to place them in inconspicuous, out-of-the-way places. Yes, my room got dirty just like any other kid growing up but when I cleaned it I would usually find great joy in re-organizing or situating my stuff.

Then I married John. I entered into a holy union with a man more fastidious than I thought possible. A man who would load the dishes in the dishwasher “just so” and wipe down the counters and sink as if we were planning on eating off of them later. Everything, right down to his bedtime routine, was purposeful, predictable, and tidy.  As you can imagine, my pile-making routine wasn’t going to cut it with Mr. Flosses-each-night.

During our first 2-3 years of marriage, John would sigh heavily when he saw one of my piles and ask me what it was doing there. To which I would look up at him, confused, and say, “It’s just sitting there. I don’t know what else to tell you.” Now he just walks by and looks at a pile and I’m all, “OK. FINE. GEEZ. Would you just TAKE IT EASY?! I’m moving it! I’m moving it!” before throwing it all into a drawer he’ll never open and going back to my business.

We’ve come a long way can’t you tell?

Bunny ears. A classic. 😉

I also learned quickly after getting married that my husband got his cleanliness and organizing prowess from his mom. One of the most generous, fun-loving women I know. She can cook, clean, organize, decorate, garden, host, and more — probably simultaneously while she flosses. It’s amazing. These people leave me speechless. And spotless.

Truth be told, my mother-in-law suuuuper intimidated me. If you made a comprehensive list of everything she is excellent at, it would almost line up verbatim with a list of things I’m just not excellent at. Early on in my new role as daughter-in-law I was terrified of being a disappointment to her. She raised my favorite person, her home is beautiful etc and all I felt I was bringing into the equation was “a great personality” and some mean banana pancakes.

She visited us last week, and something in me clicked about all of this “intimidation” nonsense. It was all coming from me. Never once has my mother-in-law looked at me and said, “I wish you were better at cooking. You’re house isn’t very clean, and don’t get me started on how you load the dishwasher.” She has been nothing but kind and helpful.

Dinner I helped make with my mom-in-law. It was delicious and simple and wonderful.

As we enjoyed her company last week, I realized that the only reason I was intimidated by her is because I was comparing myself to her. If you want a quick way to ruin any relationship — mix in a drop of comparison. I began to ask God for a genuine sense of appreciation for her and my husband and their cleaning/organizing impossible standards strengths. I was sick of throwing myself pity parties every time they were better at something than I was. My wounded ego was getting in the way of what could be really enjoyable learning opportunities.

So God, in His faithfulness, is taking me on this new journey of appreciation. It starts with being grateful for the strengths He’s given me — my sense of humor, gift of communication, scrapbooking swagger etc. And now it’s leading me to appreciate the people who used to intimidate me.

Comparison has no where to go in a relationship where two people appreciate each other. It sort of sulks in the corner, muttering empty lies about “being a disappointment” or “she’s so much prettier” or whatever. If you ignore those lies and replace them with the truth that we’re all created in the image of a creative God — differences become things that you celebrate instead of fear.

Isn't she lovely? :)

Isn’t she lovely? 🙂

This is a new thing for me. It’s not rocket science and I’m not the first to figure it out.  But just as I’m learning the power of gratitude, I’m teaching myself the discipline of appreciation for people who are strong where I am weak.

Is there a relationship in your life where comparison is hindering you from enjoyable companionship? Let’s walk out this new idea together and make the world a better place — be it through pancakes or organized dishwashers. It all counts.






Any House A Home – A Lesson in What Matters

We moved about a week ago and we love our new place. It’s simple, beautiful, manageable and we have all the honeymoon-feels about it. Until the water heater broke two days after we moved in (but I digress). Before we started the process of looking for a place to buy, we came up with a motto that we’ve had to remind ourselves of during these past days of living in an unpacked, somewhat hazardous environment: We can make any house a home.

It's whatever, couch.

It’s whatever.

I’m going to paint the current status of our home for you — we don’t have any seating in our living room. Nada. The brown fluffy monstrosity from our other place simply refused to enter despite the men’s brave efforts so it took a long walk off a short cliff (or stairwell, as it were). RIP brown couch. Recently, John was able to make the second bedroom (affectionately nicknamed the dungeon) an actual livable space where we could navigate around without tripping over a chest of drawers, pillows, or a craft cart the size of a small child (whose IS that by the way? geez!). Yet our closets are still a disaster, brimming with things that are in all the wrong places.

The dungeon.

The dungeon. Pre-John’s ninja unpacking skills.

Sigh. Let me explain to you where my strengths lie when it comes to the unpacking process, ok? — THE FUN STUFF. By fun stuff I mean the pictures and knick knacks and fluffy feel-good things that go on the walls and shelves. This is also known as – THE LAST THINGS WE WILL UNPACK. I’m not sure if this is a strength of mine or really just something I’d rather be doing. Like dessert. Dessert is a HUGE strength of mine. I could dessert all day every day. Same way I feel about decorating the walls.

An interesting caveat to unpacking all the fun things this time around is I know I won’t be decorating with all of the picture frames I had used in our previous home. The reason is because in general, John’s mind is just more organized than mine (understatement of the year) and he’s requesting more open and clean space on the walls. Looking at the walls now, I have to admit — it does feel more sterile boring open with less stuff on them. Yet my decorating style is like walking by a wall resembling an advertisement for Hobby Lobby that is displaying every cute picture frame and wall accessory it’s ever sold… ever. On one wall.

Let me clarify – John has always graciously and lovingly encouraged me in my home-making skills. He tells me how much he loves coming home and how relaxing it is etc. So don’t get it all wrong when I tell you our decorating styles are not always simpatico. It’s totally hereditary. My mom decorates beautifully and bountifully and I picked up her gusto for knick-knackery. My mother-in-law decorates beautifully and minimally which is also sweet, and inviting.

John and I grew up in different worlds and now that we actually own a place for the first time, we’ll inevitably need to compromise on stuff. Despite our best efforts, compromise quickly translates into frequent grumbles, snorts, huffs, deep sighs, and apologies because we’re imperfect people with a measurable amount of patience and grace and we both so desperately want to have this place all put together.

My favorite person. :)


Yet at the end of the day, it’s not about pictures on the wall or where we put the couch, or what kind of rug we buy. It’s about who I’m making a home with. I want to do life with him. For all of the ways he challenges me and aggravates me, and all the ways I annoy him and snarl at him, this house won’t mean a thing if we don’t agree to keep loving and liking each other.

I’m guessing the wall decor process is going to happen sometime early in the New Year so my first New Years Resolution is to let the little things go. I’m not abandoning my opinion all together, make no mistake! But I’m willing to make it work because it’s dumb to get our panties in a wad about picture frames when we could be snuggling on our imaginary couch instead. 🙂

We like being homeowners, but we love being married. No amount of picture frames or knick knacks (or lack thereof) are going to shift those priorities. When we make a home we wanna make it right – built on love, decorated in compromise, and enjoyed by all who enter it. 

Any house a home, y’all. That’s how we roll.


Of floss and roses

FB DeleteA lot has probably happened in the past 10 days. I bet people got married, had babies, moved to new cities, dressed up for Halloween, went on vacations or business trips, ate a bunch of food and drank a bunch of Starbucks. I bet that happened. But I didn’t witness any of it.

I’ve been off of Facebook and Instagram for the past 10 days in the hopes that I could create some kind of healthy boundaries with my Social Media usage.

10 days into this little hiatus has taught me a lot. The first day was particularly hard because it began the process of breaking me from being a CPC (compulsive phone checker). It was bad, guys. Every 20 seconds I’d mindlessly punch in my passcode and click on apps that I had browsed through LESS THAN A MINUTE AGO.

Related: I don’t get a lot of email.

As the days wore on though, I started picking up on things I had missed during the hours I spent glued to my phone screen.

1. “Nothing” Moments – These are the repetitive shenanigans of your every day that I suspect will shape you more than all the special occasions combined. Like the last few minutes of my bedtime routine. I just love puttering around and chatting about nothing with John while we floss (just another example of how he’s more of a grown-up than I am. I remember him pulling out the box of floss ON OUR HONEYMOON and I tried to act like that was totally a thing I did all the time too, OBVIOUSLY. Til my gums started hemorrhaging). I like running up and down the hall dangling a string behind me and chuckling as my cat transforms from a lethargic pillow to a raging string-killing machine. I just like 9:30pm.

2. “Enough” Moments – These came to me more readily than ever before when I stopped compulsively checking Social Media. I began to appreciate all the things I had. The people in my community and the clothes on my back and the food in my belly. It was so easy for it to be enough when I wasn’t holding up my number of ‘likes’ for that status or photo to someone else’s. I really struggled sometimes to disentangle my self- worth from the impact of my words. That doesn’t mean I’m never going to write another funny Facebook status (you can’t stop me), I just need to learn to not  fret over it and wonder-what-people-think over it. When I was plugged into a lifestyle that was constantly (remember that every 20 seconds thing?) measuring up my own life with someone else’s, it was exhausting, frustrating, and discouraging. There’s a difference between having a genuine interest in another person’s life and having a genuine interest in what they think about yours. 

2014-11-01 12.50.42

More happy companions from my rose-smelling adventure.

3. “Humanity” moments – I like the way a dad plays with his infant son on the swing set. I like how awkward middle schoolers are when they do… everything, I like the way an older woman carries herself as her gray hair shimmers on her morning walk — she’s seen a lot, but she still smiles at the young 20-something who just jogged by. I like people. I lost sight of the breathing, moving, foot-stepping, high-fiving world around me. So when I went for a walk on the weekend, I literally stopped to smell some beautiful roses. I just stopped, shoved my nose into someone else’s private-property shrubbery and took a big WHIFF. I remembered that there is no substitute for the life that is happening all around me.

I still love Social Media and have every intention to reintroduce it back into my life. I know and have experienced unexpected and wonderful connections through it and truly love sharing my life with people.But this time it will come with limits and boundaries.

I’ve become quite fond of like a protective mama bear about my flossing and rose-smelling moments. This is the stuff I want to gather into my memory and tell my kids about. This is my silly, small, blessed corner of the universe.

If you’re struggling with discontentment, you might be like how I was — constantly checking your phone to make sure your image is in tact. Maybe you feel like your life is unmanageable or is racing ahead of you faster than you want it to. I don’t know what your dealing with right now but maybe it’s time to unplug for a bit. To stop and remember that you were put here on purpose and it was for more than just managing your online life.

Smell the roses, reader. You won’t regret it.*

*unless you’re allergic to pollen or other plant-dust things, in which case keep this exhortation metaphorical

Good and Faithful

IMG_0635Every person I know who follows Jesus, longs to hear Him say the words: “Well done, good and faithful servant.” when their time on Earth is done.

But somewhere along the way we’ve convinced ourselves that a good and faithful life takes shape in some extravagant display of radical living.  We start thinking, “If I really take Jesus seriously I need to move to a nation hostile to Christianity, adopt a child from overseas, choose a life of celibacy, write a best-selling book etc.” None of those choices/circumstances are wrong, they just aren’t ultimate. They aren’t the standard to which we, as people who love Jesus, ought to hold our lives up to.

Instead, we hold our lives up next to Jesus — imitating him, listening to his words, letting him direct us towards the life he has purposed for us. So many of us are going to lead lives that will receive no standing ovation from the world. And that’s a great thing.

Faithful living is not elaborate or fancy, it’s by nature — quite the opposite. It’s stubbornly moving towards the same goal, day after day, hour to hour. Every person I have talked with whose walk with God I desire to emulate, teach me that faith is a million little decisions you make every moment of every day that are influenced by a common belief: God is real and trustworthy and bigger.

God is real — His existence ought to change the way we see our own.

God is trustworthy — All the promises He says in the Bible, will be fulfilled. Regardless of what the current state of the world leads us to believe.

God is bigger — Nothing is too difficult for Him, but not everything He does or does not do will make sense to us. He is always bigger than the boxes we make for Him. 

IMG_0633 A few months ago I sat on the couch with a woman who is so familiar with faith playing out in  the ordinary. She lives a normal life, raising her kids and loving her husband and spending her  days basically up to her ears in the nitty-gritty of life – laundry, bills, soccer games, all while battling a sickness that has pushed her into new depths of dependence on God.

As we tucked our slippered feet under the couch cushions and cradled our mugs of steaming hot coffee, I asked her a million things. We talked about marriage, careers, sex, parenting,  vacations. We just talked about life. And I realized as I sat across from this woman that she was a difference-maker and a world-changer in her sphere of influence. She was not looking for fame or applause or approval from a sea of faceless people she’s never met. She was consistently looking to Jesus and it filled me just up to be near her.

Her faithfulness to show up and do it all again and believe it all again, even when no one was watching — THAT is the stuff that changes people and communities and churches. 

It all starts with surrender. Every good and faithful life is born out of a genuine desire to submit to the will of God. In my experience, whenever I do this I almost inevitably end up connecting with people.  In fact, whenever I give Him free reign over my day or week or season of life — He runs with it. He runs straight to people and says, “This. This is where I want you.”

It’s almost like he meant what he said when he tells us to love our neighbors. Imagine that.

When you lay your life at the feet of Jesus, the most difficult thing He’s going to ask you to do is trust Him with it. Wherever you are, in whatever season or storm, you cannot lose by surrendering to Jesus.

Instead of trying to make your life measure up alongside of anybody else’s, live your own. Give it a rest. Put down the measuring stick and run with endurance the race that was set before you. Cheer on those whom you see doing the same thing. Let’s arrive together at the throne of grace and just dump all of our wild misconceptions about what a good and faithful life “should” be and  start trusting that the Author of our faith knows what that looks like way better than we ever will.

I got 96 drafts but a post ain’t one.

Confession time, folks.

This is how I feel when I write most of the time.

This is how I feel when I write most of the time.

96. That’s how many “drafts” are moseying around in the land of the unpublished regions of this blog. Honestly? Some of them I could probably publish but I won’t because I have severe blogger issues where I tie myself to this ridiculous standard that must be achieved in every post and when it isn’t it never gets to see the light of the public eye. The point of this post is to convince you myself that I am no longer going to operate in such strict and impossible expectations.

When I started this blog I didn’t have any intention of actually making something out of it beyond a random storehouse of random Rachel thoughts. As I’ve continued in this endeavor however, I have felt increased nudging, occasional elbowing, and sometimes downright shoving towards taking this writing gig more seriously than I had anticipated.

I, like most bloggers, suffer from the “I only write what I feel and when I experience the feeling that comes when I have

This is how I want you to think I feel when I write most of the time.

This is how I want you to think I feel when I write most of the time.

a good idea/insight/story worth sharing” syndrome. Or, IOWWIFAWIETFTCWIHAGI/I/SWS for you acronym lovers out there.

I have scoffed the idea of scheduling posts in the name of “spontaneous inspiration.” In the beginning of this journey I had, completely on accident, painted myself into a very tight, oppressive and frustrating corner. I was only going to write when I “felt” like. While there is nothing inherently wrong with writing from emotion and experience there is also great value in writing from a place of discipline and diligence.

I remember when a former boss called me a “wordsmith” and my heart leapt as my shoulders straightened and my chin jutted in pride. Ah YES! I am crafty with words. They are my minions who do my bidding and I tell them where to go and how to go there and it is wonderful. Until it isn’t. Because they don’t. Not always. 

When I have to throw words together like some awkward high school reunion of adverbs and nouns for the sake of a deadline or in the name of (insert groan here) consistency it’s mortifying. I AGONIZE over putting things together Which is why, in the past, when I didn’t feel motivated or inspired to write, I didn’t do it! Simple as that.

I don’t want to publish these haphazard, half-thoughts because I don’t want you to read my not-best. This is foolish because not every single thing I will write will be my best. How absurd to think that’s even possible! And yet, that’s what I’ve been doing. I have depended solely on that emotional BAZING! moment to determine whether or not something gets published.

Somewhere along the way I had convinced myself that the only good writing is the kind that is born from the passion of emotion and never from the stubbornness of determination. But emotions can only take you so far. At some point you are going to have to work outside of your emotions, maybe even against them. Which leads me to believe that being a writer is a lot like being in love. 

I didn’t realize that I was courting words until I realized how much I couldn’t stop thinking about them, how quickly irritated I get with them, and how downright head-over-heels smitten I am with them. To craft a sentence or an idea in such a way that reaches into the reader’s mind and plucks an “Ah HA!” chord is the most delightful achievements. It makes me want to hug the words and tell them how fabulous they are! “Oh! You expressed that perfectly! Way to go you little adverb, you. That was JUST the noun I was looking for. Oh stop it. No, YOU’RE the greatest. Ok we’re BOTH the greatest.” It’s sickening, really.

My relationship with this blog has been volatile and unpredictable and I am determined (read: PRAYING) to establish a more normalized, day-in day-out, Tuesday-morning-kind-of-love with it. The kind of steady and sweet relationship that wakes up to your morning breath and still decides to give you a hug in all of your stinky mess.

The passionate and unpredictable love affair with words must come to an end if I hope to make any kind of lasting impression in the blogosphere or with my writing in any capacity. So I wrote these 2,287 words just to say this: I am a writer even when I don’t feel like one. And I am going to hit the “publish” button more often because I can’t expect to improve if I’m not willing to show up.

God bless you for getting through this post, reader. The whole point of this is to tell you that I’ve got a game plan to post more frequently and less… hormonally? This is an adventure that we’re in together and I thank you times a million for going on it with me.