A Life More Beautiful

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' says the Lord." Jeremiah 29:11

Day #8….Less of all the girl drama

Let me start by saying that I may just quit numbering these days….it’s getting depressing at this point. If I’m honest, by the time I have worked all day, picked up our girls, made dinner, found the couch under the laundry (again), played with the girls and hung out with Jason, I’m kinda just done. Sitting down to write has taken a back seat to extra books with the girls at bedtime or an extra show knocked off the DVR with Jason….but I digress…

I have had several conversations with girl friends lately that have had me thinking….what is the deal with all of us?! And I mean that in the nicest way that you can take it, I promise. What is it in female DNA that makes us so critical of ourselves?

In 30 seconds, I could take a Sharpie and mark every ounce of extra fat on my body…where I would like to take it from and where I would like to transplant it to….I could circle every wrinkle that is starting to form on my face (I’m too young for this!!!)…I could circle the jiggle that has taken over my arms or the “fat pack” which some idiot ironically named love handles.

And it seems I would be hard-pressed to find another female that doesn’t do the same thing!!

Even my four and six year old want to be cute and have long “Rapunzel” hair.

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But then I started thinking about a verse that all of the kids learned in Adventure Kids several months ago…..

“For we are God’s MASTERPIECE!!!” HIS masterpiece!! No, I don’t have amazing, awesome (natural) red hair like my friend at work….no, I’m not a size 2 anymore….no, I don’t look cute in everything that I wear like my best friend. Just as I am, I’m GOD’S masterpiece! How awesome is that?! Just like each artist has a unique style, God created each masterpiece (US) different from the next. We wouldn’t want a whole world full of Picasso paintings, right?

I’ve had two girls, so I’m not the size 2 that I was when we got married….but I’ve had two beautiful amazing girls!!

I’m far from being a supermodel…..but I have a husband that still thinks I’m pretty cute, most days 😉

I’m definitely not toned and tanned like I would like, but ya know what….it’s okay! I have a family that loves me, and I know that God has an awesome plan for all of us just.how.HE.made.us!! Granted, I will still always secretly dream of looking like Sophia Bush, but I’ll be the best me that I can be without dissecting every little flaw. So, NO MORE GIRL DRAMA….at least until swimsuit season rolls around again 🙂

just us

“He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.” John 3:30 (NLT)

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Day #7….Less social media, less writing, but lots of great memories!

This weekend, we went to Mississippi for a friend’s wedding reception. On our three hour road trip, we listened to random radio stations, sang incredibly loudly and off-key and I’m pretty certain our girls felt like our dancing should have been considered child abuse! But, we had fun!

The next morning, we woke up and realized that in 31 years, I have not learned to check the forecast when I’m packing an overnight bag. We left the hotel in shorts, t-shirts and flip flops in drizzly 65 degree weather….and along with our crazy, best friends decided to go hiking. One quick shopping trip later, and we all had long sleeved shirts and were ready to take on a hike. A smart person would have bought shoes too, but this cheap girl decided to hike in flip flops…. 🙂

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Jason and our girls would hike every day, as long as they were allowed to take their best friends with them, and I’m slowly learning to feel the same way! I NEVER would have imagined that I would enjoy hiking!! Give me a good book, a shopping trip or a good romantic comedy any day, and I’ll pick it over clomping through the woods with bugs and dirt.

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That is, until our friends drug me on our first hiking trip….now we end up in the woods on every trip we take. And I’m slowly learning to enjoy the great (or at least okay) outdoors.

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This weekend may not have included me taking time to catch up on writing, but it definitely included making great memories with some of my favorite people!

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And I wouldn’t trade that time for anything….not even for being caught up on my 31 day challenge! (I’m just ignoring the fact that I’m just now posting Day 7, and it’s October 13th!)

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“He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.” John 3:30 (New Living Translation)

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Day #6…..I found the couch!!!

I would like to say that in my six days of “less,” I have had a radical transformation….Suddenly, all of my priorities are in perfect order; our house is magically spotless due to the amazing lack of clutter; everyone’s attitude has become angelic, and we all are perfect reflections of the fruit of the Spirit. However, it’s real life!

In reality, I have checked approximately three things off of my mile long To Do list since I got home; our house still looks like the Barnes and Noble/Barbie wonderland mash-up (but we have purged clothes that no longer fit both girls) and we’ve had several conversations with our oldest about her attitude tonight (oh the joys of six year old drama). BUT I did find our couch under the laundry that I wrote about yesterday, haha! Hey, a wins a win!

I may not be seeing a radical transformation, not that I expected one in six days, but I have been more aware of my attitudes and reactions to people. I pray that even after this 31 day challenge ends that I will continue to think less of myself and more of others….even in little ways and actions every day.

Now I’m off to get more laundry out of the dryer, so my couch will be hidden again. 🙂

“He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.” John 3:30 (New Living Translation)

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Day #5….geez, this perfection thing!

So, my first post for this challenge mentioned that I’m a perfectionist. I don’t know if it mentioned how incredibly hard I am on myself. I’m an only child, a mom….heck, I’m a female! Being hard on ourselves is what we do!

Well, here I am, supposedly seven days into this 31 day challenge, and I’m frantically writing post number FIVE!!! In my little perfectionist mind, I’m totally blowing this! Just put a big ol L for “loser” on my forehead. Except that….I’m not ever going to be perfect. I’m a wife, a mom, an employee, a friend…and life is crazy hectic. Throw in feeling like crap this week, and it’s a wonder that we were all fully clothed in clean clothes this morning! I’m gonna chalk that up as a success!

So, my “less” for day five is less being hard on myself. The ginormous pile of  clean laundry on my couch will eventually be put up…probably not before we go out of town for a wedding on Friday…..and at some point I will catch up on my blog posts. But for the moment, I’m gonna give myself a break and possibly hit the vending machine at work for some chocolate.. 🙂

“He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.” John 3:30 (New Living Translation)

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Day #4…one day late…oops!

Song lyrics have always caught my attention. Jason, on the other hand, is drawn to the beat of a song. He may only understand one-third of the lyrics to a song, but he can recognize a song two measures into it. Road trips with the two of us are pretty interesting between loud off-key singing, ridiculous dance moves and Jason butchering lyrics. Recently, I found a Casting Crowns cd in my car and started listening to it. I recognized a few of the songs from the radio, but then I got to the song Dream for You. I have included the lyrics to the chorus below:

“So come on, let Me dream, let Me dream for you
I am strong when you’re weak and I’ll carry you
So let go of your plan, be caught by My hand
I’ll show you what I can do
When I dream for you
I have a dream for you”

When you are growing up, people love to ask what you want to be when you grow up. Once you are a grown up, people ask about your dream job. If I’m being honest, my dream job would be a hybrid of being an elementary school version of Michelle Pfeiffer in Dangerous Minds, being a professional writer and being a full-time mommy! Granted, I don’t think it’s possible to combine those three, but if we are dreaming, I might as well dream big!!

Which brings me back to the song lyrics! (See, I wasn’t aimlessly rambling!!) The verses of the song talk about David and Mary and what may have been their original dreams for their lives. David was only planning to spend his life as a shepherd, while Mary was planning a future with Joseph…..and then God shows up with his life-altering dreams for them.

Do you really think young David realized that killing a lion and a bear would prepare him to kill a literal GIANT?!? Or did Mary (a VIRGIN!!!) expect to be a pregnant teenager carrying the Messiah?? I can answer pretty confidently that they had completely different dreams and expectations.

So, my “less” for today is to focus less on my own dreams for my family and to strive to find God’s dreams for our family. I have no clue what he has planned for the four of us, but I’m super excited to find out!!

“I’m stronger than you think I am
I’ll take you farther than you think you can
You sing and call me Great I Am
So take your stand
My child, if you only knew
All the plans that I have for you
Just trust me, I will follow through
You can follow Me!!”

“He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.” John 3:30 (New Living Translation)

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Day #3….Here’s how this whole thing started….I blame Summer ;)

A little over three weeks ago, I was introduced to Jen Hatmaker by my best friend, who apparently needed company in realizing how crappy we are as human beings. I’m only kidding…kinda! We started with reading Interrupted, and I have one chapter left in Seven, Both of these books have highlighted how much I need to shift my focus off of myself and onto others. (At this point, I should insert that I’m an only child, so this is not an easy task!) If you have never read one of her books, grab your steel-toed boots and pick up Interrupted! I can guarantee that you will be challenged, but it’s totally worth the stomped on toes!!

In Seven, Jen Hatmaker’s family and friends embark on a seven month challenge that involved monthly fasts and lifestyle changes. While I can’t commit to eating avocados for a month (or ever), I am trying to use her book to help with my focus throughout this month’s challenge. Each month, their family shifted their focus off of one area of their life (foods, shopping, media, etc.) and used that energy in reaching their community. My prayer since reading these books has become even more that God will use our family to make an impact for Him in our neighborhood and throughout our community.

Lately, I have heard so many people in my generation saying, “I just want to do something that matters!!” I know that Jason and I have this conversation several times a month! This is a conversation that my best friend and I have all the time too. We all want to make an impact, or as we say in Adventure Kids, we want to “make HIS mark!” I don’t want our lives to end, and there be no evidence of a legacy. I pray that mine and Jason’s legacy will be a legacy filled with Jesus and showing His love to all those that we are around….and that as our girls grow up, they will grow up loving people where they are, as they are, and that they will point everyone around them to the God that loves them more than they can ever understand!!

“He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.” John 3:30 (New Living Translation)

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Day #2…..We may be hoarders…

Ok, so confessional time. I think there may be a gene that causes hoarding. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it! I have to have some reason for the fact that I can’t part with a magazine until I’ve read every page (I have a LARGE stack just waiting for me to have two hours of free time to read a single issue…sigh), or the fact that I still have every movie ticket stub from the four years that Jason and I dated.

And it appears that I have passed this genetic deficiency along to our girls! Now, don’t assume that we could star on our own TLC show that features our (Jason excluded) sentimental scraps of paper that we can’t bear to part with. You can easily walk through our every room in our house (with the playroom as an exception), but Brynlee and Camryn hold onto their “artwork” with an iron fist…and the term “artwork” is used very loosely for some of the construction paper that they hold dear….or the purple construction paper airplane that causes Brynlee’s eyes to water if we mention throwing it away.

However, one of my easier goals for the 31 days of less is less clutter!! So, we are attempting to narrow down the creations of our little Michelangelo (Brynlee) and Picasso (Camryn) to their favorites. I have bought them each a folder to hold their favorite pieces….We’ll see how far that goes! At this very second, the precious paper airplane is resting in a place of honor on the hearth.

As for my hoarding tendencies, I have given away clothes that the girls have outgrown, so we’ll call that progress for today!! As for my goal of less social media??? Well, let’s just say that being really bored at work on a Friday isn’t very conducive to staying off of Facebook on my phone. But let’s not forget that I have purged old clothes this week, and we are definitely calling that progress 🙂

“He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.” John 3:30 (New Living Translation)

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31 Days of Less….Here goes nothing!

I’ve been thinking about what to write about for this challenge for several weeks now. I’ve thrown around a ton of ideas, and none of them have excited me…..until this one! Then again, excited may not be the right word. Challenged is a more fitting way to describe how I’m feeling.

I’m an a typical Type A, people pleaser! I want you to like me, and I feel like everything I do should be perfect….or as close as humanly possible. I’ll blame it on being an only child. I also have an incredibly hard time at saying no. As evidenced by my day today, I have a gift for overcrowding my To Do list and trying to shove as much as I can into every second possible….all while being chronically late.

The entire premise of my “31 Days of Less” is to focus more on what actually matters (God and His people) and less on what isn’t as important (me and my to do list)…ouch, it hurts just to type that! Well, as I started the day planning this blog, I get a text asking me to help plan our elementary school’s fall festival…and I quickly say yes! How can I turn down an opportunity to reach out to our community??

And there’s the rub. Throughout this month, I’m going to be praying and working towards determining what needs to stay in our lives and what needs to go. I know going into this that each day will be different.

Less clutter – Amen!! Seriously, needed this about seven years ago before our little people were born….we now live in a combination of Barnes and Noble, a Barbie wonderland and an excessive amount of clothes of all sizes!

Less wasted time – Who doesn’t kill time that could be better spent as quality time with family?

Less bad attitudes – I’m preaching to myself, as well as the rest of my family.

Less social media – Again, this is directed at me, and if I’m honest, this will be really difficult! However, I know as soon as my husband reads this, he will be the one to hold me accountable, haha!!

In general, less of ME!!

And in the place of this clutter, I’m hoping we find more generosity, more kindness, more quality time and memory making, more love and patience with each other and more love for all of those that God has placed in our lives!

Thanks for joining me on my 31 days of less!! Here goes nothing….or better yet, here goes a lot junk out of our lives 🙂

 “He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.” – John 3:30 (New Living Translation)

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