I Turned 40

On Saturday, June 15th, a significant transition of life occurred:
I said good-bye to my 20’s/30’s (my “young” adulthood)…
And said hello to my 40’s/50’s (my “middle” years of adulthood).

Middle-aged…

Hmmmm, that’s a very strange and kinda awkward title to now have to wear.

But can I be honest here?… I’m actually very happy and quite at peace.

When I think back to how I felt in my early adulthood years, it can all be summed up into one hard word: insecurity.

Perhaps others have “found themselves” during those two long decades (kudos if that describes you!). But I wasn’t so lucky. It took me *20 years* of soul-searching, praying, questioning, trying and failing (then trying and failing again), and finally getting into counseling before I began to feel comfortable in my own skin.

Anxiety. Depression. Stress. Overwhelm. Struggle. Questioning: am I good enough? smart enough? mature enough? capable enough? Self-doubt. FEAR. Frustration. And to boot, I picked up some pretty poor/immature coping mechanisms to deal with all of these big feelings.

What do I want? What did I need? What are my boundaries? Who were “my people”? What thrills me? What is for me (and what is NOT for me)? Where do I fit in? What should I be doing with my life? What do I do? Where do I go? How do I live? WHO AM I?

But now as I step into 40, that insecurity of my youth is gone and has finally been weathered away. I KNOW who I am. I know what I want (and what I DON’T want). I know what I’ll tolerate (and what I WON’T). I stand up for myself and my beliefs and needs. I KNOW what to embrace (and what to run from).

I finally discovered that I am an empath and an HSP (which put together a LOT of missing pieces). Knowing this made it incredibly easy to change up my inner and outer worlds so as to create a lifestyle that beautifully accommodates my needs.

The fear of man’s approval is finally dying. I’m doing what I need to do. All the should’s and ought to’s are being put to rest. I’m figuring out who God made me to be and do here on this earth. I’m not being tossed around by the waves of people anymore.

For once, inside and out, I can finally breathe and dance and REJOICE.
I’m finally enjoying life.

It’s actually with great relief I say good-bye to the insecure days of my young adulthood. And I’m gladly, joyfully welcoming my 40’s and beyond. I’m absolutely thrilled to see what God has in store for me and my beautiful family. I’m ready for an adventure!

So I officially entitle this next decade of life: Fun & Free Forties!

Live awakened. Live fully alive. REJOICE.

Spring Blessings

1) I have taken a big step of maturity these past couple of weeks– I finally reached out and asked for help regarding my anxiety/panic issues— and I’ve started seeing a therapist. Regardless of the fact that I myself graduated from college with a BS is Psychology and Addictions Counseling… it’s nearly impossible to diagnose and treat oneself– as I am “too close to the patient”. I have fussed with it now for six years. And though I have made some headway, it’s still there.

There’s just seems to be such a cultural stigma with mental health issues. It’s like people think you’re weak or something. It seems especially difficult if you’re a Christian: maybe you just don’t know/love/*trust* Jesus enough. That’s not helpful at all.

I’ve been to my therapist three times now and… it has just been an incredible experience. He listens and asks just the right questions. He points things out I’ve never noticed. He’s been able to put into words the chaotic feelings I’ve not been able to make sense of. His perspective is unique. He’s shared breathing exercises that I can do (even in front of people & they’d never know) to bring calm to my nervous system. He’s challenged me. He’s given me big things to ponder & wrestle with.

WHY ON EARTH DID I WAIT SO LONG TO GET HELP?!

I am NOT weak. In fact, it’s actually a pretty bold and powerful thing to actually admit you’re not Wonder Woman (or Superman) and to get help/perspective.

By no means have I got it all figured out yet– and I’ll prob be seeing him for awhile– but I can actually rest and relax now knowing that I’m not crazy or weak or forever stuck with anxiety. He’s pretty certain we can nip it in the bud. Praise God. Very much filled with hope right now.

If ANY of you are wrestling with anxiety or depression or whatever, please do NOT hesitate to talk to a therapist!!! You are not weak!!! You’re actually a super strong person to reach out and ask for help!!! I’m telling you, it will make a world of difference in your life!!!

2) I have decided to include along with my mental health therapy: running. Today, with three of my children, we laced up and hit the pavement. Dude, we are SO out of shape. (LOL) What a laugh we all had when the torture was over. But guess what, we’re still alive and we’re gonna do it all again tomorrow… for both our physical and *mental* health. It was slow-going but we put in 2 run-walk miles:

3) I am SUPER duper thankful for the ability to homeschool. I truly freakin’ love teaching my kids and providing learning environments for them. My older kids are mostly self-learners at this point and so the majority of my time is spent teaching my Little Ones. It’s just something I thoroughly enjoy doing. LOVE being with them and sharing life with them.

4) I was joking around today with someone about what our “spirit animals” would be. Now, I don’t really believe in spirit animals– it was just a silly convo we were having. But if spirit animals were a real thing, I would totally choose Pikachu. Such a cute little fun creature, seemingly harmless… but don’t ever cross him. (LOL) I am wearing this t-shirt today & it makes me so happy:

5) It is in the high 60F’s today!!! I AM LOVING IT!!! I LOVE having the windows open, feeling the breeze, smelling the outdoors, hearing the birds sing… I can’t explain it– but it makes my heart sing.

6) Loving/awesome neighbors that bring treats for my fam… just because. I could not have asked for more kind/better neighbors.

Enjoying Spring Break

1) After lunch, I took my little ones out on a long walk. Together we spotted the new growth & blooms all around– it’s like looking for nature’s treasures. They’d already played outdoors for at least an hour earlier… but they just can’t seem to get enough of the warmer temps, sunshine, and beauty all around. Honestly, I’m right there with them. Spring is very much to me a sort of “waking up” from Winter’s sleep and quiet. Warmer months make the kids and I feel so alive and happy and free. Here are a few of the “pretties” the kids spotted today:

2) I’ve decided to sort of change-up my parenting a bit to make it a little more positive. Mostly in the way in which I speak to my children. I’m forever telling my children (& hubby *wink*) that it’s not what you say, but how you say it. I hear what my loved ones say to one another… and though there is truth to the words in which they speak, it often sounds so doggone harsh! Biting! I try to walk my kids through speaking more properly and kindly, but it seems to fall on deaf ears. And then I noticed something… *I* speak harshly, too! *I* speak words of truth, but the WAY it is spoken often seems to have such a negative flare to it. ūüė¶

So I’ve begun to make some changes in the way I speak to my kids:

Ex: honey, please don’t do that. You’re going to break it. Why not instead try rephrasing that with a little less negativity? Rephrase: honey, let’s respect property and treat it nicely. I basically said the exact same thing, but with less bite.

Ex: stop doing that! It’s annoying me! Rephrase: hun, let’s find something better to do with all that energy you got. How about _____ instead?

Ex: pick this stuff up! Stop leaving it in the stairwell. Rephrase: sweetheart, let’s take care of this before it gets stepped on.

It’s actually been making a HUGE difference in the atmosphere of the home. It’s been a whole lot quieter– I’ve had a lot more willingness from the kids to help around the house– the kids have been more loving and affectionate toward me– & they’ve even begun correcting their own speech toward each other. It’s hilarious listening to them say “let me rephrase that” and then trying to speak again more lovingly to their sibling.

I had no idea how negative/harsh my words and tone were!!!
Oh, that I will keep this up!!!
Cuz it’s working!!!

Momma’s, we have so much power & influence. Never for a second think what you’re doing is pointless or mundane or not making an influence in this world.

3) So I’ve decided to go back to using homemade wet wipes. I’ve used them on & off for years but haven’t done it in a while. Well, I’m back in the mood for the time being. ūüôā

Came across these recipes: https://allaboutclothdiapers.com/my-three-favorite-homemade-wipes-solution-recipes/

I tried my hand at recipe #3: Lavender and Tea Tree Oil Wipes Solution. Instead of using paper towel, I cut up a piece of fleece into wipes-sized squares and put them in a 1 gallon ice cream tub. For all my wipes made, I ended up tripling the recipe. We’ll see how they do!

This is one batch of the solution.

4) I just LOVE making homemade bone broth!!! We use it for all sorts of recipes! It’s especially awesome to have some on-hand for when sickness strikes at home. Nothing like a bowl of broth with noodles to ease upset tummies or stuffed up sinuses. It’s like magic healing elixir. Plus, it’s made with love and I *swear* that love can be detected in my broth. ūüôā

I keep all types of bone & veggies scraps from when I cook– saving them in the freezer. When my bags filled up, I would dump it all in a huge stock pot, add several cloves of garlic, add water close to the top– and then cook it down for several hours on the stove top. Strain & freeze. But now that I have an Instant Pot (8 qt), I can make a broth in 30 min (+ heat up/natural release/forced release time)– so maybe I’m not saving a whole lot of time IP-ing it. LOL

Man, it’s good!

Gratitude Du Jour

I am really-truly-absolutely-fully loving this winter and all the icy cold blasts & falling snow & days off & a MUCH slower pace to life.
A long, sweet season to breathe, relax, enjoy, get cozy, grow, heal, think, plan, dream.
Peace. Tranquility. Quiet. Stillness.
My newly snow-covered blue spruce, home to a beautiful family of cardinals, collected snow on its limbs, slightly blowing in the cold, biting breeze.
I’m a sucker for holiday window clings. Valentine’s is just around the corner. *LOVE*
Hot cocoa and marshmallows to warm you from the inside out.
Perfect after playing in the snow.
A sweet treat that brings big smiles to my loves.
“Hearts of Love” I write to each of my children from Feb 1 to Valentine’s Day.
Every day I write out just one thing I absolute ADORE about each child & leave them on the counter to greet them in the morning. Individualized. Personalized. Never a repeated note.
You can bet when they see them come February, the sleep from their eyes instantly vanishes.
They just LOVE getting love notes from their momma.
(And momma loves writing them, too.)
My kids end the morning with both full bellies & full hearts.  
Though all of my children are homeschooled, my two eldest kids take choir at the local public school. (Tra la la) We, too, celebrate all the days off from public school due to weather. Our days at home have been seamless, uninterrupted days of flow (much like holidays & summer vacation). It’s been a lovely break from the norm.
Surprise lunch dates with my honey. When he pops out of his office and on the fly asks if I can go out to lunch with him. Can’t believe we’re finally to the stage in parenting where this is even a possibility. He still takes my breath away.

No Winter Blues Over Here

We’re now on Day 3 of life around us basically cancelling for winter.

Public schools are closed. Mail is not being delivered. No city trash is being picked up. County offices were closed. No sport practices. Local board meetings rescheduled.

And for good reason! Here in the Midwest, we’ve been in an Arctic Vortex, with temps in the negatives and wind chills reaching a crazy -50F in some parts.

Baby, it’s ridiculously COLD outside!!!

When I check my social media, I keep seeing people complaining about the cold weather: its ill effects (likes pipes bursting & state officials asking people to drop their thermostats to 65F), people getting really squirrel-y, parents being SO ready for school to re-open, less business, the pain of rescheduling events, etc. You name it, and someone’s probably complained about it.

That snow tho… oh it’s been beautiful. And we’ve had lots of it– reminds me of the winters I used to experience when I was a child. Watching it fall is energizing… gives me goosebumps.

The kids have been enjoying all the frost:

We have a family of cardinals that live in the blue spruce right outside our kitchen window. When it snows, their colors just pop. And every time I see them, I tear up because they were my grandma’s favorite bird– I miss her so.

It’s cozy. Quiet. Laid back. Calm. Peaceful. So little stress and go-go-go of life and activity.

Lot’s of family nights of movie watching & board games. Extra time to KonMari the house and work on those long-neglected home projects.

It’s been a forced rest for everyone.

Rest brings rejuvenation. Rejuvenation brings productivity and creativity. It gives us some air space in which to think and plan. Helps us get schtuff done. It allows healing & growth.

So rather than being frustrated with the weather, try instead to enjoy this downtime and sweet rest we have been given. Take a breath. Get some extra sleep. Play with your kids. Write or paint or craft– cuz you probably haven’t done that in awhile. Bake up something yummy. Read. Visit a shut-in and *make their day*! Do some yoga or other exercise you enjoy. Make a cup of coffee or tea and get snuggly on the couch. Binge on Netflix. Get lost in your favorite music. Work on your gratitude journal. Call your parents.

SLOW DOWN. Enjoy this beautiful thing called LIFE.

#liveawakened #livefullyalive #slowdown #rest #restore #rejuvenate #stopcomplaining #dosomethingfun #enjoywinter

Adventure Awaits

One of the hallmarks of a really good movie/TV show or book is this: did it give you, the viewer or reader, a good thrill or adventure? Did it take you through emotional highs & lows? Did it really make you think? Did it take you to places you’d never been before? Was there suspense? Was there sacrifice? Did it leave you on the edge of your seat? Were you just dying to know what happens next? Did it draw you into another reality for a time? Were you upset to see it come to an end?

What I’ve come to realize is this: our lives, too, are an adventure to be experienced. Maybe not a full-on Indiana Jones/death-defying sort of adventure. (Though this *may* be some people’s reality.) But the human experience is for sure filled with emotional ups & downs, anxieties about what’s next, gains & losses, and unexpected twists & turns.

Now, I’m not a big fan of unnecessary drama, like what’s portrayed in the entertainment world. What I mean by “unnecessary” is the drama that’s produced through deceit, lies, secrets, & “oh, I just couldn’t tell so-&-so about that!” sort of thing. SO MUCH stupid drama can be reduced or eliminated in life through mere *communication*. Nope, not a fan of THAT kind of drama!

According to Google, drama can be defined as: an exciting, emotional, or unexpected series of events or set of circumstances. And adventure is defined as: engaging in hazardous and exciting activity, especially the exploration of unknown territory.¬†Ok,¬†let’s¬†drop¬†the¬†“hazardous”¬†part shall we? LOL. But seriously, I don’t want to live a boring life.

In fact… when I graduated college and moved to the town I now live, the all-consuming theme of my prayers were: “God, give me an adventure!” Starting off with a clean slate, new beginnings– let’s rock this adult thing! Of course by “adventure” I thought that meant working as an addictions counselor, attaining my Masters in Counseling, taking part in behavioral research projects, getting my professional works published, public speaking, world travel, moving to a big city with a fancy-pants office…

Yeah, my idea of “adventure” wasn’t exactly the same as God’s. ha ha ha

In fact, God’s “adventure” took a crazy turn in a very opposite direction.

One week after graduating college/moving: I met my future husband. A whirlwind courtship ensued. From first date to marriage: 10 months time. To add to the crazy, we brought home a little honeymoon souvenir, aka our first-born child. We crunched numbers & prayed for direction– but it made no financial sense for me to go back to work after our baby was born– it would be better for me to stay home & raise our baby. My plans/dreams to pursue a career “adventure” came tumbling down with that one positive pregnancy test.

Don’t get me wrong… I did NOT resent my baby one iota! She was one of the most amazing gifts I could have ever received! But with her birth brought a sort of dying to myself… a surrendering of my will to God’s… a giving up process that took me years to really get a grip on.

But now that I’m 16 years out and can see God’s hand in everything a little more clearly, I’m ever so thankful that I gave God the reigns of my life completely. I’d NEVER have painted a canvas like He did. And my life is SO VERY different than I’d ever have imagined. But it is good. And God is good.

I truly believe this adventure He carved out for me FAR surpasses anything I could have created on my own. He knew what I really needed and wanted deep down. He knew that being married young & having (7) children & raising them in the name & power of Jesus His Son was exactly what was going to be the most fulfilling adventure I could have ever been on.

So many twists & turns. So many “what’s around the corner?” ‘s. So many super high ups and super low lows. Being a wife & mom has tried me, stretched me, developed me, & truly made me a better person. All made possible because I surrendered. I gave God my everything. And in giving up my life, I actually found it.

If you’re struggling to give God your everything, may I be a voice of encouragement to you today: He won’t let you down. He will never leave you or forsake you (esp in those dark days). He will show you & lead you down a life path that will not only WOW you but you’ll finally be fulfilled and have joy (not just circumstantial happiness). You will feel a peace that surpasses all understanding. You’ll be riveted. You’ll finally be able to breathe because you’ll be fulfilling what you were put on this planet to do. There will no longer be the lingering thought that “there’s gotta be more to life.” You’ll no longer dread Monday’s & you’ll no longer live for the weekends & holidays. You’ll truly love your life. Even when those hard days come, you’ll see God working and moving. You’ll see Him there with you every step of the way.

In living a surrendered life, we also will walk through the darkness 100% with God. He grieves when we grieve. He keeps a record of our sorrows & tears (Ps. 56:8). He comforts us. He helps us through all our struggles. He grows us & strengthens us & matures us. We are never alone. There are new mercies every morning. And when we go through hell & back, then we can be there for others when they go through the fire. We can comfort them with the comfort we received from God.

May I encourage you to open your white-knuckled hands and allow God the full reigns to your life. Maybe nothing drastic will happen. Then again, maybe God has a complete life transformation in store. Who knows?! All I know is that in following God (even if that looks drastically different than you thought) you will have a peace & joy & fulfillment & a true inner congruence to your soul. I want that for you!!!

#liveawakened #livefullyalive #surrender #loseyourlifetofindit #trustGodfully #lifeisanadventure #hangonfortheride #bebrave

Finding Joy

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This week in my homeschool co-op, among the mom’s we talked about just this!!!

Apparently nearly all of us struggle with finding joy amid all the busyness and doing and being of life. There’s just SO MUCH ON OUR PLATES. It doesn’t seem to matter what your lot in life is: homeschool vs. public/private schooling, stay-at-home vs. working mom, no kids vs. 1-3 kids vs. 4+ kids/large family, etc.

Nearly all of us feel it. We’re all so busy living… but how much of us are really enJOYing?

I am so right there with ya. I’m feeling it, too:

I’m a wife.
I’m a mom of (7) children ages 15yr-2yr.
I’m a homemaker.
I homeschool.
I help my husband with some secretarial work for his business.
I’m a blogger/writer.
I’m involved in my church & community & 4H.
I volunteer.
I’m on (2) local Boards.
I have friendships & family relationships.
My husband & children have full lives as well that I must work around.
I have (2) high schooler’s at home that are quite busy with their schooling & sports & choir (soon to be driver’s ed. & getting jobs).

I’m not even going to include here doctor’s appointments, homeschool co-op mtgs/activities, meal planning/shopping & the actual making (& cleaning up) of meals, exercise, recreational activities, alone time, Bible study time, house/yard projects, paying bills, all the time I spend in the car driving everyone everywhere… etc.

Our house is hopping from morning till night.

To boot, I’m an introvert/HSP. And if you’re into the whole Myers-Briggs thing, I’m an INFJ. I require a ridiculous amount of alone time to process life & chill. I often struggle with anxiety & overwhelm.

In all this crazy living, it’s honestly really hard for me to stop & smell the roses.
Shoot, sometimes I miss the roses altogether. LOL

But if I had to guess, you’re pretty darn busy, too. Your “busy” looks considerably different than mine (for sure), but it’s there nonetheless. It’s real. You’re running & going almost non-stop. You’re trying to complete a seemingly endless list of to-do’s. You’ve got a slew of people that need you on the daily. You’re responsible for an incredible list of responsibilities.

Can I encourage you to: Slow Down

Breathe.

Just be.

Look around you.

Take stock.

Though we live in a fallen world, there is pure beauty and bliss all around us.
Look for it. Seek it. Think on it. Meditate on it. Get lost in it.

I don’t think JOY is just something that happens to us– it’s something we have to actively cultivate and nurture.
I don’t think it comes from any outside source or person or circumstance– it’s a practice we must regularly be involved in.
I think it’s like a muscle: if you don’t use it, you lose it.
It’s not something handed to us on a silver platter– we ourselves have to hunt and search for.

Even amid the busy, JOY can be ours. It’s looking at our everything… and giving thanks:

“Thank You, God, for all these special relationships, all these activities on my calendar, all these opportunities to serve, all these growing experiences, and yes, even the trials and struggles– they are making me more like Your Son, Jesus.”

Joy comes from opening our eyes and seeing the wonderful that’s all around us… it also comes from a heart of gratitude.

So what’s bringing *you* joy today? What’s putting a smile on *your* face?

Let’s cultivate this together! Let’s practice this JOY. Let’s give thanks in all things.

#liveawakened   #livefullyalive   #JOY   #findingjoy   #encouragement   #stopandsmelltheroses   #practicejoy   #happinesscomesfromwithin   #gratitude   #lifeisbeautiful