Overcoming Your Biggest Hurdles with Mindset Shifts

We are our own worst enemy so much of the time. We get in our own way, we hold ourselves back from overcoming a hurdle, accomplishing something amazing, becoming someone new. We get in the way of the Holy Spirit, allowing our inner voice to drown His out. We create an unhappy reality for ourselves without even realizing it, and then complain about it.

This is called having a fixed mindset or a limiting belief about yourself or your circumstances.

Let’s look at some examples of how this could be lived out.

Let’s say you’ve always been significantly overweight. You think about what it would be like to be fit, imagine how your body would feel, daydream about what it would be like to wear a certain outfit you admire, but you can’t actually envision that fit, strong person being you. It just seems totally impossible that you would ever really lose that weight and have that body - that’s a fixed mindset.

Here’s another example:

You’ve always had a lot of clutter. It wouldn’t be a birthday party in your house if you didn’t spend the entire day beforehand screaming at your family to help and shoving crap into the bedroom closets. This is just the way it’s always been and you can’t really imagine how your life would look if you had absolutely no clutter. You can see how it would free up your time, but you can’t actually envision that being your life. Fixed mindset. Limiting belief.

Let's look at one more example, this time I'll pull from my own life. I’ve actually related to both the examples listed above, and overcome them, but I want to dive deeper with you. Getting personal here!

I didn’t finish college. My parents never really expressed a deep disappointment in me for that or anything, but I felt like it was there, probably because I put it on myself (I’m the oldest and being the oldest means you’re super hard on yourself).

I got married young and my husband Brian (who also did not go to college) and I came back from our honeymoon to hardship - he had been laid off and the economy was crashing - it hit us right from the start. We struggled financially from the moment we said “I do” and it didn’t let up.

Brian had a solid job that provided for us and allowed me to stay home with our babies (this was a nonnegotiable for us) but it required working lots of overtime hours or we wouldn’t make it. He was gone six days a week and we barely scraped by. We had our four babies and struggled to make ends meet all the time.

There were very dark, scary nights when we didn’t know how we’d make it through, and I had grown used to this being our life. Money was something I just never thought we’d have - it wasn’t in the cards for us. I believe I spent a lot of years punishing myself for not finishing college, because I was raised to believe that college was a huge privilege that I had and you can’t make a good living without going to college, and I clung to this limiting belief.

Long story short, God brought our family into a situation that led to the idea of me starting a business out of this blog. I’ve always had an entrepreneur mind (I was raised by two successful business owners) and it felt like something I was meant to do, but my money mindset was very limited and held me from success for months.

I wanted to help more overwhelmed moms experience the freedom I had through a life of less clutter and overwhelm, and I knew I could do that through my business, but my limiting beliefs held me back from changing lives and changing our finances. 

When I finally realized this, I remember feeling like a rock had hit me in the head - my whole world was shaken up and I didn’t want to live under the weight of my fixed mindset for even one more minute. I went outside and prayed, and started speaking truth over myself and my business. I did this every day (and still do) and after a week, my business exploded and everything I had been working so hard for that wasn’t happening finally came through.

I can be successful because I am called by God, qualified, and smart. College doesn’t fit in with who I am and what my calling is. That truth trumped my limiting beliefs and I have never looked back.

I want you to overcome your biggest hurdles by changing the way you think, too. It’s such a powerful ability we all have! Our thoughts hold incredible power.


Need a little help getting started with affirmations in your own life?

I've put together a list of morning affirmations for your motherhood, and a second list for your life and success - the exact affirmations I use every day. Get all of them delivered to your inbox right now!


You can apply this to any area of your life and find your own personal limiting mindsets lurking. Let’s talk about what you can do about it.

Stop counting your failure as the end of the road. Learn from it, and try again.

Remember that one time and that two-hundredth time you tried to lose weight, stop yelling, start a business, improve your marriage, wake up early, whatever it is for you, and you failed? Nobody cares but you. Let it go, detach yourself from it - that failure is not your identity. Move on and try again.

Move from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset

You’re stuck, and it’s totally possible for you to pull out of it. Change your way of thinking by counteracting your limiting beliefs with the truth. For me, that’s Scripture and who my Savior says I am - able through Him, a new creation with a fresh start right in front of me, called according to His purpose - those truths counteract my negativity and my fixed mindset. I’m a big believer in writing things down. Studies show that we are 42% more likely to accomplish goals when we write them down, so I think it’s pretty important to write down what it is we’re wanting to change in ourselves too.

Write out your limiting beliefs, then write out the truths and positive affirmations that counteract those beliefs. Get into the habit of saying those positive words out loud to yourself every day. Watch your world transform.

Conquer

Help yourself overcome by putting your truths and the goal you want to make your reality right in front of your face all the time. Create a list or picture of vision board of where you want to go, place it somewhere you’ll see it all throughout the day, like your fridge or car steering wheel. Focus on it, let it permeate your brain all day long.

Make sure your affirmations make you feel something. When you’re reading them out loud, you should feel yourself being filled with hope - it should feel like someone is breathing life into you. When I read mine, I can feel something inside of me shifting, responding to the words I’m saying. Make them bold, not timid.

For example, when we were at our brokest point, I stood in my driveway and said, “I am extremely wealthy. I am also generous and changing the world with my money.”

Do you have any idea how ridiculous it felt to stand outside and say that sentence out loud when I wasn’t even sure how we were going to afford groceries the next day? But suddenly, nearly overnight, this was our reality, and now we are truly seeing our money do good things and change the world through giving - it’s incredible to see this practice take effect in your life. You can do this same thing with anything you’re struggling to overcome.


Get a PDF of the exact same morning affirmations I use every morning for my motherhood, my money, and my personal success right now to help you get started!


Have you ever tried speaking affirmations or Scripture over yourself? Share your experience in the comments section!

 

What I Found Beneath the Clutter

This is a guest post. 

Christmas was coming, my third daughter was a newborn, and our house was crazy, but I could hear God...muffled and in the distance. I didn’t know what He was saying and it was almost as if the chaos was in between us. “I’m sorry God, I tried to listen today, but the house was so loud, and honestly, I’m so tired...maybe we’ll try again tomorrow.”

I could still hear Him, muffled as if He was yelling down to me, but His voice couldn’t quite reach me. “I’m here God! Where are you?”

I felt as if He was lost somewhere in my house and we were playing some strange version of Marco-Polo. “God? Are you under this pile of clothes? Are you in this closet? God? I thought I heard you...what did you say?”

Christmas came and went. I felt proud of myself, I stayed under budget, and didn’t buy any wasteful gifts. For a newbie, I had a pretty “minimalist Christmas”. By the new year I heard God say, “Good job with Christmas, but you still aren’t as happy as you should be, and you know why!”

I listened, and purged, and listened, and purged some more. I stayed up way past my kids’ bedtime and basked in the silence, trying so hard to listen. I thrived when I was purging. I felt in my element, and closer to God than I had in a long time. All I could clearly hear was “less”. He kept saying it in every aspect of my life. Less debt. Less clutter. Less guilt. Less worries. Less less less. I dove in deeper. My new motto became “less is more”.

My husband and I had already spent the year-and-a-half before this on a debt free journey, and by this point the finish line was so close that we could taste it. We had a few thousand, our rental property, and our home left to pay off. Our extra money over the next few months would take care of that lingering few thousand, and then all of a sudden it happened...we were debt free except for both of our houses. I felt as if I had finally emerged from a dark cloud and into this bright open space.

Clarity.

I found Him.

The debt was gone, the clutter was gone, and there was God...waiting...patiently...as He always does for His hard-headed children.

When you have space to move and room to breathe, you can do just that...move and breathe. I decided to move forward and breathe deeper. I decided to listen and not talk...for once.

God has spoken volumes into my life lately, and I know that He has given me this calm and clarity to help others. I’ve already been able to speak inspiration into the lives of several friends and family members through what I have learned during my own journey. I even recently accomplished a huge personal goal of mine and started a website.

We must remember to continue to challenge ourselves, it is only outside of our comfort zones that we will find God and the truest versions of ourselves.


Samantha Womack is a wife and homeschooling mother to three girls. Sami and her husband, Daniel, have spent the last few years getting themselves out of almost a half-a-million dollars worth of personal debt. Along the way she also discovered minimalism and intentional living, which opened so many doors to living a positive life. Sami has always been one to love challenges and anything that led to self-improvement, becoming a personal development coach has proved to be her life's calling.

 

 

For fresh tips on personal development, financial freedom, and living simply, follow Sami at her blog, A Sunny Side Up Life - all about adding joy to your life, sparking inspiration, and finding the zest for life you've been craving. You can also find her on Facebook

 

 

 

Why You Should Stop Trying to Make Time for God

It's the hardest time of the day - 4:30PM. You're trying to start dinner, you're changing the baby's diaper, meltdowns and sibling rivalry are rising up around you on all sides. Your husband will be home soon and you've got to get everyone fed and out the door by 5:30 for baseball practice. You're standing in the kitchen thinking, when will I learn to use the Crockpot on crazy days like this? Why can't I be more organized?


While you wait for the water to boil, you grab your phone and open Instagram in hopes of drowning out the screams and catching a small break. It's here that you see a tidy little square, mostly white, with a mom sitting down and reading her Bible. Her thumb nail is painted a glorious shade of pink, her jeans are for sure a size two, and her couch is filled with clean, perfectly fluffed throw pillows. Her caption reads something like "Soaked in my Savior before my day got started! Always worth it." Guilt sets in and you think, when was the last time I spent time with God? I don't even know if I've gone pee today. Actually I really need to pee right now...


Oh mama, I want to hug you! I want to take you by the hand and look awkwardly-deep into your eyes and shout the truth to you!


Let's take a step back and I'll explain. I'll start with the big L word. No not that L word. I'm talking about legalism. Legalism is basically doing works in an attempt to get 'in' with God. It's doing something in order to win His love. Legalism is works-based faith; it is everything Jesus came to abolish.


When we spend time with God out of obligation, guilt, or just to check it off our to do list, we're living out a legalistic faith. I believe with every ounce of my being, that this breaks the heart of God in a very deep, very painful way. 

Why? Because you already have God's love, and it's unconditional. This means no matter what you do, how you spend your time, how you mess up your kids, God loves you. Actually, He adores you! He's head-over-heels crazy about you, all the time, no matter what.


God is in your midst... He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His love. He will exult over you with loud singing. 

Zephaniah 3:17


Now, let me clarify. I am not saying that setting aside quiet time to spend with God is legalistic. Absolutely not. I am talking about the motive behind the time spent. Is it anything other than needing Him? Wanting Him? God looks at the heart, and it's a heart He desperately wants. 


The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.

1 Samuel 16:7b


God does not want your obligatory acts of forced worship. He wants YOU!


Spending time with God in the morning, then going about the rest of your day without Him is the equivalent of going to church on Sunday, then living a very ungodly life Monday through Saturday. Works out of obligation do nothing; acts of worship bring us closer to the God who so desperately wants a relationship with us, He has done everything to show us. 


God knows the season you're in better than anyone else because He placed you there. He sees you trying desperately to find five minutes to shower and brush your teeth, He sees you battling depression, He sees you rushing to get dinner ready before t-ball practice. And guess what? He's not sitting on His throne, looking down at you, judging you for not waking up at 4AM to fit in quiet time with Him. He's not counting how many minutes you've spent on your couch with an open Bible this week. He stands at the door and knocks for you. He stands at the door and knocks for your heart. 


Your life is the perfect stage for beautiful acts of worship. Whether you go to work or stay home, whether you cook or order take-out most nights, whether you have babies or teenagers or both, right where you are is a sturdy platform for you to honor the King in the most humble, real way. 

  PIN THIS. 

PIN THIS. 


I recently had about twenty minutes of purposeful, set aside quiet time with the Lord because I was really anxious about something, and I desperately needed to soak up His presence and His peace. Do you know when the last time was that I did that before this week? I couldn't tell you. It wasn't recently, that's for sure. Why? Because I have four kids under age seven, we've moved away from all helpful family members, and I'm starting a business from home! But I dare to say that I have spent some incredibly profound moments with my Savior on an almost-daily basis for a long time.

My life is an act of worship. My work is worship; it's obedience to the call of God on my life. When I serve my family it's worship, when I wash the dishes it's worship, when I fold everyone's laundry, it's worship. 


Not only are the things I do all day acts of worship, but my attitude while doing them can be an act of worship. It's so easy to become ungrateful. When I choose to see three sick kids and a to do list as long as the Great Wall of China as a worship opportunity, ingratitude no longer has a place to take root in my heart. When I choose to see that pile of dishes as an opportunity to listen to worship music and spiritually pause for a second, ingratitude, again, has no place to grow. 


I have spent so many beautiful moments at the foot of Jesus while scrubbing my countertops. I have felt the very breath of God wash over me while I mopped the kitchen floor. I walk with a God who wants my heart, and obligatory acts of fake worship are not his thang. He meets us where we're at, and that's the most amazing thing about Him for an overwhelmed mom. 


Come near to God and He will come near to you.

James 4:8a

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Comfort Zones, Jesus, and Stepping into a Storm

Recently, I was on the phone with a friend who is going through the beginning stages of becoming a foster parent. She was telling me about all the negative comments she’s been getting, and I was relating to her through our experience in choosing to move away from all our family and friends six months ago.

We both had heard so many rude, forward, and negative comments about our decisions. The comments were very similar even though our circumstances are different, and I noticed they all had one thing in common- each question and every comment was firmly grounded in fear and selfishness.

“Things are going so well for you right now! Why would you purposely make things more difficult?!”

“You doing this is going to be very hard on your family. That couldn’t be God’s will for you.”

“Why would you put your kids through something so hard on purpose? Life’s hard enough as it is.”

These comments reveal a huge misconception about the Christian life. So many people seem to think that life is supposed to be happy and easy, that the goal is to create a good life, avoiding difficulties at all costs, and when they happen to us, you get through with prayer and faith. Very few people are willing to knowingly step into a storm. The thing is, stepping into storms is exactly what we are called by God to do.

We are called to something so much more, so much bigger than clean houses with Pinterest-worthy decor, trendy outfits, perfect marriages, park play dates, and getting more likes on Instagram. We’re called to run toward the broken, the tired, the hungry, the homeless, the orphans. We are called to do things that scare us for the sake of God’s people. We are called to move mountains and be world-changers who raise world-shapers. We are called to follow our call, and there’s nothing safe about it.

That doesn’t mean we have to be afraid. Fear has no place in the heart of a world-changer. The call is something we can rest in, a shelter from the storm while we stand right in the eye of it. Following the call means we are doing what we were made to do- being Jesus to this lost and broken world.

So why would I knowingly step into a storm when things are “going just fine” for my family? Because God is calling me to, and the point of my life isn’t to be happy or live as easily as possible, it’s to further His Kingdom. I will sweat and cry and die to myself for that until I breathe my last breath, because that’s exactly what Jesus did and I am called to be Him to this world.

We, as believers and followers of Jesus Christ, are called to act like He did when He was walking this earth. Did he have a cushy life full of all His favorite things with the occasional hardship? No. He spent His time with the sick, the prostitutes, the murderers, the tax collectors- those who were hated and feared and shunned. He served people; He loved on people.

Whoever says he abides in Him ought to walk in the same way in which He walked.

1 John 2:6

I think social media plays a big role in our misguided thought-process about how we should be living. Perfectionism reigns online and it’s everywhere. It’s so easy to get caught up in thoughts like my house needs to be decorated better… I need to dress cuter… my life isn’t as good as hers… my house isn’t as clean as hers… my kids aren’t as well-behaved as hers… it goes on and on until we are so focused on making our lives as perfect and as happy as possible that we’ve forgotten the call.

We have lost sight of the whole point.

Instead of pretending there aren’t orphans while we sit in our two-story homes in our perfect neighborhood, instead of ignoring the tug on our hearts to move and nestling further into our comfort zone, instead of looking the other way when we pass by someone in need, instead of only hanging with those who are like-minded, we are called to reach out, to touch the broken and hurting people of the world, to expand beyond our bubbles and be Jesus to people. We need to stop building walls that separate us from those who sin differently than us, and those who are hurting at a level that makes us uncomfortable, step into the storm, and take their hands.

Life isn’t about setting up a world in which we are most comfortable, safe, and happy. It’s about opening our arms, outstretched in full surrender, and saying “yes” to what He asks of us. Maybe that’s in a beautiful home with our kids, maybe that’s in another country in the mud with the people of an impoverished land, maybe it’s in another state, maybe it’s so far out of your comfort zone but the tug on your heart is so strong you aren’t sure you can take it anymore. Wherever you are right now, however you are spending your days, can you honestly say it’s where He wants you? 

Life Lately & Our Trip to California in Photos

Hiiii!

Gosh I feel like it's been ages since I sat at this space and just let myself pour into it. Our vacation really threw me off, and as refreshing as it was, I'm so happy to be back home and in my normal routine! I want to share a little bit about what's been on my heart lately, and then I'm gonna dump the best photos from our trip!

So, right before Christmas, my dad called me and asked me if Brian and I would be willing to bump our planned March trip to California up to January. He offered to pay for our plane tickets if we did. Obviously we took him up on his offer! He booked us for two whole weeks and the trip was fairly last-minute, so the whole thing was one big blur to me. 

I have to say that I hated flying with the kids, and would absolutely choose the twenty-two hours of driving that we did with them over the 4+ hours of flying and the layover each way. Emmett is just at the worst age for being forced to sit in one spot for that long, and he was screeching and frustrated and miserable for most of the flight time, despite all the things we did to prepare. Our kids just love the car and do so well in it, I think we'll commit to road tripping back home every six months for now, and revisit the flight idea when Emmett is older. 

I was apprehensive about going back. I was worried about how being back there and spending time with friends and family would make me feel. I thought maybe being back where things are comfortable would cause me to hate our decision to move, and dread coming back to Arkansas. 

I was very wrong about that. 

Going back was so fun, so refreshing, so comforting, but somehow I felt even more confident about our move, and after the first week I couldn't wait to get back home. I saw California as a wonderful place full of people and places I love that I get to visit every six months and take a break from the rhythm of daily life. I loved the beach and breathed it in so deep, but when I walked back to the car with the waves at my back, I was okay. I was thinking of how good it would feel to go home and see the mountains again. I didn't look over my shoulder like I did when I walked away four months ago. I didn't need to, and that felt good. 

One of the things I realized while there, is that I haven't been truly settling into our new home yet. The first three months were at first total chaos, and then anxiety coupled with a lack of action. I wasn't really committed to new friendships, to my area, to making Arkansas our home like I did when we lived in California. I realized that it's time to bury my feet in the ground, put down some roots, dive into friendships and homeschooling and church, and start living here. Exploring the area isn't enough, I have to treat this place like home because it is! This is where God has led us and I don't know how long He will have us here, so I need to be all in. 

I can wait patiently for our next trip to Cali. I can look forward to my toes in the sand and my family surrounding me again, but I don't feel like I'm hanging onto the life I had there while physically standing on new soil. I feel present and settled and at peace. I feel ready to live. 

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Life Lately, God's Gangster Voice, + Why He's Still Good

Life lately is rain. Like, literal rain from the sky. A downpour that seems constant.

Being born and raised in So Cal, when it rains I stare blankly out the window and cross everything off my to do list because life cannot be lived if it's raining. Here in Northwest Arkansas, apparently, it rains a lot and people just keep on going, living and doing life things. This includes leaving the house, which is both jarring and shocking to the California girl in me. Even today as our family left to go see a movie, it was raining so hard that it felt illegal or something. I kept peering out from underneath my protective hood, looking for signs of life. There was a guy walking his dog, a girl jogging (really?! you're jogging in this???), and even a mom with her kids under the canopy at the picnic tables across from our house. Life can go on, even if it's raining. Good to know.

Life lately is also some metaphorical rain. Brian and I both expected life to get a lot easier when we moved out here. Some things have been a million times better, like his work hours, but other things have remained difficult or gotten even harder.

How could you, God?!

I've found myself cranky, even a little bitter over some of it. I have had to sit in the dark on the couch in the dead of night and lay it all out for Him. The confusion, the thoughts I have, and how pissed off He made me on more than one occasion recently. It's okay, He can handle my emotions.

God never promised easy if we follow His call on our lives. I know this, but I somehow thought our "big leap of faith" made us exempt.

God we moved all the way out here! Away from everyone we know and love! How can you not bless all of everything in our lives immediately?!

Oh humanity, you make me into such a moron.

God called us out of California and into Arkansas.

I know that for sure.

He blessed us with better work hours at Brian's job, enough money to make it, and the promise that He's got something big for us out here. At what point did I hear, "Get choself out to the mountains, girl! I'mma give you all the best everything! It'll all be butterflies and rainbows and unicorns fo sho!" (I don't know why I gave God a gangster voice. I get weird when I'm confessing something humbling. If this offends you go ahead and click away. I'll understand...)

I think so often we (or, um, just I) fill in the margins of God's voice. We hear Him give us a promise and we add in all the extra frills because the promise alone isn't enough.

It's a heavy lack of gratitude, at its best. 

Why would I ever expect perfection in my life as a result of following God? Getting that would mean He gave me a way out of needing Him, of needing a Savior. That goes so far from His character, and believe it or not, His total goodness.

When God calls us, there's a reason, even if we can't see it. There's a lot of hope in His call, but never perfection. In this fallen world we face hard trials and take deep cuts. So what's the point? Why follow the call in the first place if it's still going to suck sometimes?

Because even if not, He is still good. (Daniel 3:18)

Even if the things I think or hope will come to pass don't come anywhere near my life, even if I give up everything I own and love and follow His call and I lose even more,

He is still good. 

He is still good because He has promised that, eventually, His plans for me will make me prosper. (Jeremiah 29:11)

He is still good because His love for me never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:8)

He is still good because He will never leave me in the mess of life, or any other time for that matter. (Deuteronomy 31:8)

He is still good because He has poured out His blessings upon me, even if things are difficult at the moment. (Psalm 34:8)

He is still good because He adores me with a rich passion that I cannot even fathom. (1 John 3:1a)

He is still good when things seem unfair because of His love for me, and because love does not delight in evil. (1 Corinthians 13:6)

He is still good because His ways are higher than mine. (Isaiah 55:9)

He is still good because He is God. (Psalm 100:3)

We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. 

Romans 5:3-5

And so I shut up, I stop expecting what is uncharacteristic of the God I love and serve, and I stop complaining about all He has blessed me with. So I run with purpose in every step and move ahead strong, trusting in His high ways and great plan, because my humanity is so weak, and I need a big God like Him. 

Fitting In Quiet Time + Favorite Devotionals

I love my quiet time. In every form it comes in- alone time, time with Jesus, writing time, nighttime drives, headphones in while I workout- I just love being alone and tuning out the world for a bit. As an introvert, I really need that time, and I need it often.

I have so much on my plate, and so much to do with four kids. If I keep on hacking at my to do list, getting all the snacks, changing all the diapers, cleaning all the spills, folding all the clothes, I will exhaust myself. Exhaustion is not always physical; it can be more dangerous than that. I have had an exhausted spirit and it is awful, draining, and depressing. When I am empty, I have nothing to give my family.

Sally Clarkson said it perfectly when she compared it to breastfeeding a baby. The milk develops from what the mother is eating, so if she's not eating anything, her body will not produce milk, and the baby will starve. The same goes for our spirits as mothers. If we don't put any quality time in for ourselves, our well will dry up, and we won't have anything to give our family.

I have been getting lots of questions recently about what I do for quiet time and what devotionals I like for Jesus time. Sharing all of that with you today because this is one of my favorite topics to talk about!

Devotionals & Morning Quiet Time

Every morning I get the kids breakfast, pour myself a cup of coffee, and sit myself on the couch for at least ten minutes. I do my best to avoid interruptions for just those ten precious minutes. I ask Bella to help the baby if he needs anything in his highchair, I put quiet worship music on and headphones in, and I make it happen- sweet time with Jesus.

I take a breath and give the day to the Lord, asking Him to use me and energize me and help me. I read the short daily excerpt from my all-time favorite devotional

Springs in the Desert by L.B. Cowman. Then I read the daily word from

Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. These two little books pack a punch and get my heart prepared for the day without making me feel like I have to set aside a ton of time in this chaotic season of my life.

I also love that each book offers Scripture for the day. Honestly, as much as I would love to dig deep into the Word every morning, my life at this point just doesn't allow that. Soaking in a few verses is just what I need to start my days. I can read those passages and meditate on one of them as I get going, letting God's Word reach my heart. Even if it's only one verse, it's enough and He honors my time spent seeking His face.

Podcasts & Midday Breaks

One of my favorite things in life right now is so simple- taking a midday break. Normally the baby is napping and the older kids are busy with something (coloring, homeschool busy work, a movie, playing with toys, doing a chore), and I will get out my trusty headphones and turn on a podcast. I can't even express the joy this simple practice has brought to my stay-at-home motherhood. I only wish I had thought of doing this for myself sooner! I get a dose of inspiration right in the middle of the day and it refocuses me and reignites my purpose every time. It is absolutely my biggest piece of advice for other moms!

My favorite podcasts right now are:

Life-Giving Words with Sally Clarkson

God Centered Mom Podcast

The Influence Podcast

InspiredToAction Podcast

All you have to do to find these gems is search for them in iTunes! If you don't have an iPhone, I have no idea how you'd find them, but I would just Google them!

Another little tip...

Some days the kids have too much energy and I can't even get into the kitchen to wash dishes and listen to a podcast. Those are the days I need a midday break more than ever! If the weather allows, I take the kids to the park even if it means naps aren't on schedule, and let them run around. I pull out my headphones and listen to something refreshing while I push Emmett on the swings or follow him around the play equipment.

Whatever it takes, I really try to make a midday break happen at least a few times a week. I cannot say that I have ever had a bad day when I made time for that.

Prayer & Listening for God

I am sure when my kids are little older and my life isn't so completely chaotic, I will have time set aside for silence and prayer, but right now I don't. I know that's not what you usually hear from articles about being a Christian mom, but I'm just being honest. Right now I pray in the shower, when I'm driving, in the middle of the night, when I'm washing dishes, when I'm walking back and forth through the house putting laundry away, when I'm locked in the closet and I just need Jesus now.

In this season of motherhood, I pray as I go throughout my day, but I do not have a set block of time for it. I have tried forcing that and it only led to a lot of frustration, so instead I asked God to meet me where I'm at and help me walk with Him in this time of my life, and this is where I'm at now.

When I do need quiet and I need to hear the voice of the Lord on a particular issue, I wait until I can get silence, and usually I take a long shower and just sit in His presence until I get some clarity. Maybe that seems awkward to you, I know it's nothing fancy, but it's what I do and it has simplified my life and brought me a great deal of peace, and it works for me.

That about sums up this part of how I do this mom life thing. As always, if I skipped something or you have a question, just leave a comment. I will always see it and I love responding to you :)

One last thing for the mama who never takes time for herself...

Friend, God wants abundant life for you. He made you to desperately need time with Him and time for yourself. Your well is empty and you are unable to give your family what they need. That's not your fault, it's the way we work as mothers. You can let go of the guilt that comes with doing something for yourself, even if there's someone in your life making you feel guilty, let it go. It is your job to raise your babies and love on your husband, and it is simply impossible to do your best when you're running on empty. Press pause, take a breath, and do something small for your tired spirit. I'm saying a prayer over you right now.

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Life Lately [+ the deets on our big move]

Hi lovelies!

Well it's been awhile, but I'm happy to be back at my blog after a break. I can't believe all that's happened since the last time I sat writing on this page. I actually can't believe any of this is happening at all. I keep saying to Brian, usually while we're driving and it's quiet enough for my thoughts to drift, "I can't believe we actually did this!!"

In case you're new or you missed it, we moved from Southern California to Northwest Arkansas two weeks ago. If you live in California your response to that statement is probably, "oh yeah. Get out while you can!" If you don't live in California, you probably think we're stupid or insane or both. We get both reactions on a near-daily basis.

Yes, California is incredibly expensive and liberal and dry and in desperate need of rain and not super big-family-friendly. And yes, California has some of the most beautiful beaches and living there comes at a price, so of course it's expensive. And yes, our entire family and [almost] all the friends and people we've ever known and loved live there and nothing can replace the support of loved ones.

We know. 

This is why it took us awhile to finally follow the call we have heard for so long- the call of God to move somewhere else. We didn't just move because of perks. The positives of moving to Arkansas are just that- perks, and nothing more. We moved away because as much as we tried, we couldn't pretend God wasn't tugging on our hearts. We know beyond any doubt that we are where we are supposed to be right now.

We don't know how long we'll live here, if it'll be forever or a few years, we don't know what's next. We know we absolutely love it so far and we feel incredibly peaceful for the first time in a long time [that happens when you're in God's will], and we know we would like to buy a house here within the next year or two. Other than that, it all depends on God and His still, small voice.

All that being said, I'm ready to fill you in on how everything went down! Moving a family of six that includes a baby, plus a cat cross-country is interesting to say the least.

So if you've been wondering what's up over here since we took the big leap of faith, here ya go :)

The Road Trip

We sold pretty much everything, and rented the smallest U-Haul trailer [it was 5'x8'] which fit our mattresses, table and chairs [taken apart], and a few other favorite items like my beloved bicycle art, and the boys' bunk beds all taken apart. We didn't even bring dishes or silverware, so I do mean we sold pretty much everything. We got a hitch added to our minivan and were ready to go!

We had been renting our house, and were on a month-to-month lease, so we were able to get out easily without the need to sell a house or anything, which was a huge blessing. The night before we were going to leave, we were sleeping at my parents' house, and Hudson and Emmett were tag-teaming the destruction of our trip. They were both waking up every half hour or so, and the plan was for us to get as much sleep as possible since we were supposed to leave at 3AM. Well we had to adapt, so we slept till 5 and left then.

Bonus: Starbucks was actually open by then, so of course I made Brian stop right before we got on the freeway. He was thrilled.

And so the road trip to our new life began...

Everything was really dry and ugly for awhile. 

We got In N Out one last time in Arizona. Goodbye my looooooooooooove!! *insert sobbing emoji*

The kids did beyond amazing. I really couldn't be happier with how well they handled so many hours in their carseats. The whole two days of driving, they were seriously perfect. It had to be God because that is not what I was expecting from my kids. Not even close.

Chicken did great too.

We drove from Murrieta, CA to Albuquerque, New Mexico in one day. It took us 17 hours with traffic and all the stops we made for gas, food, and stretching our legs. I had to slap Brian around a few times at the very end of the drive because he was falling asleep but we'd already booked a hotel on Priceline and paid $80, so we had to make it there. I won't lie, the slapping wasn't so bad for me.

Totally kidding. Sort of. Anyyyyway...

The next morning we hit Starbucks for coffee and bagels and headed back out around 7:30. And then everything got gorgeous.

We stayed at a hotel in Oklahoma City that night, and when we got there we realized we had landed a reeeeally nice hotel on Priceline. We had no idea. When we walked in we clearly didn't belong, especially with how disheveled we were. But staying there was great and we all got some good sleep that night.

Getting There

The next morning we headed out, finished off Oklahoma, and headed into our new home state of Arkansas, where everything got even more stunningly beautiful.

My great grandpa, Elum lives in Arkansas, about an hour from our new home, so of course we met up with him on our way in. It was such a treat for him to meet his great great grandchildren, and I am so thrilled I got to see him again! PS. The Waffle House? YUM.

Once we got into our city, we were all sick of each other and S O  D O N E with the trip. The baby was screaming, Brian was stressing out trying to find the management office, the older kids were bickering loudly, and I was wishing it was acceptable to put my headphones in, but alas, that would've pissed off the love bug. We were required to show up in-person and show proof of occupancy at the Springdale Water District, which was suuuuper fun to do after three days of driving. So after the townhouse management office, we headed to get our water turned on, and then we went home! 

Settling In

After much looking online, discussing, praying, and thinking about it from every angle, Brian and I decided to forego a house and rent a two-bedroom townhouse. We just didn't feel the need to get all the space we might want right away, having to deal with shoveling snow from our property [which, since we're both born and raised in Cali, we are so unprepared for], and collecting a bunch of stuff before another inevitable move whenever we buy. We are in a season of chaos and major change, and in this season, we have found that what we crave is simplicity.

 Our townhome is perfect. It's two stories, the kids are all in one room via a triple bunk bed and Emmett's crib, and the hard oak flooring makes me giddy every time I come downstairs. Choosing this type of house meant no fuss, no huge empty walls or spaces begging to have money spent on decor, no room to bring in a bunch of junk... it's somewhat close to

tiny house living

[a dream of mine], and I love it.

My mom flew in the day after we got to our new house, which was awesome because she spent six days helping with the kids while Brian and I did what we needed to do to get set up. We had four full days before Brian had to start work, so we went to IKEA [the closest one is in Kansas, eep!], and stock up on groceries, and explore the area a little before life had to start again. We got a sofa and some other things we needed to function, everything else will be slowly added in as I thrift and shop on the weekends.

I have to say, getting rid of all of our stuff was the most liberating thing I've ever done. We threw away so much junk that was taking up closet space and sold so much, this fresh start is like water to my thirsty soul. I am so glad we chose to go this route rather than paying to bring all our things over here with us! Also, I don't think I was a true minimalist until the move, because I honestly didn't realize how much random crap I still had in my hallway closet. That was humbling.

Fast forward to today, two weeks from the big move, and we now have a TV, we started our home school year yesterday [we decided to wait until after the move to begin, and more on that later], we are getting back to our normal schedule with naps and meals and errands, Bella has started horse riding lessons again out here, and we are starting to feel like we know our way around our little area. We are in love with the beauty of "the natural state", and we both agree there's a beautifully heavy peace over every part of our beings since we got here. God. is. so. good.

Thank you lovely readers of mine for being patient with me as I got through this big step in my life and took a blogging break. I missed you all and cannot wait to share more of our adventures with you!

The Waiting Room

Our family has a major change on the horizon. We are seeing something we've always talked about coming into fruition, but the process is slow, and patiently waiting for something to happen isn't one of my strengths.

Things were going along smoothly, and then one day, we were following God's leading and He led us into the waiting room, said He would be back, and left us there.

Oh please no. The dreaded waiting room...

I DESPISE WAITING!

I would surely rather shoot my own foot off than be in the waiting room.

I've been here before. It's the waiting that always gets me. I am faithful, I am prayerful, I am walking in step with the Lord, then He brings me into this room, the waiting sets in, and I panic. Once the door to the waiting room closes and there's stillness, my faith loses the battle with my flesh and I start desperately trying to make something happen.

I need something to happen right now.

The waiting makes me cringe.

I like to be in control. I like to be able to see what's happening, what's next. I've discovered this week, between panic outbursts in the waiting room, something crucial about myself. Something debilitating to my walk with God...

I want to be in control more than I want God's will.

And that's what this all boils down to. A heart issue.

Surprise, surprise. 

When I take an honest look at myself, I can see that I would rather have control and take action right now than be waiting for what God has in store, unsure of His timing.

But faith is hoping and believing in things not yet seen.

It's in the waiting room that faith forms. The waiting room is like an incubator for faith.

I want to be faithful. I want my kids to look back at my life and see a calm, patient, faith-filled woman of God, not a control freak who only had faith until stillness was required. I want to grow, to be better, to be stronger, to be exemplary. But without the waiting room, I won't grow into any of these things. I'll continue to be mediocre, impatient, self-centered, and a slave to my need for control.

And so I'll stop clawing at the walls of this room that I hate. I'll stop complaining and kicking and screaming. I'll stop whining for God to hurry up and come back with what He promised us. I'll wait, because He is who He says He is. His ways are not my ways, and His thoughts are higher than my thoughts. I'm tired of being in control, it's gotten me nowhere good. I am humbled, quiet, and willing. Grow my faith, Lord... I'm yours.

From Failing to Flourishing: How Praying for My Husband Changed His Work Life

I've been thinking a lot recently about prayer, and about the power of a praying wife.

 Prayer is about faith, and faith is something God has been inking on my heart lately. It's like when God is showing you just how incredible something mundane is- something cliche that you've always known about (like faith) and He just makes it new and shows it to you in a whole new light. I love when He does that!

I get my encouragement from hearing the stories of other women and sharing experiences, so I wanted to share another recent experience of mine with the power of prayer.

My husband works for a very large company where his job performance is monitored and judged by "the numbers system". The company expects only the best from its employees, and they don't make it easy for their technicians to meet their numbers. Without meeting these numbers, you will be fine and your job is safe, but you won't be able to move up in the company or make any transfers or get any perks of the job that they offer to the techs who do well.

Brian has had sort of a cloud over him at work for the last two years. He's been cursed with the most complicated and difficult jobs every single day, and they affect his numbers in ways out of his control. He's been unable to meet his numbers or his manager's goals for him and it had him feeling very defeated and worthless at his job. As any wife knows, if a husband feels useless and defeated, he is not a happy man by any means, and his whole life is affected by these feelings.

I'm embarrassed to say that it took me two years to get my head out of the ground and realize I could do something (not just a small something, but something powerful) to help my husband. A little over a month ago, God laid it heavy on my heart to start praying over Brian and his job. I decided to make a list of the issues Brian was having at work, including the cloud that seemed to be hovering and keeping him from meeting his numbers no matter how hard he worked, and pray over them specifically.

I have four kids, and Emmett is only a few months old, so I knew I wouldn't find spare time lying around... I had to determine to make time to pray. I chose the time between 2:30 and 3:30, when the older kids nap and Emmett needs to be put to sleep. I started wrapping the baby in my arms and pacing the living room while going down the list of Brian's work-related issues, covering each one and Brian himself in Spirit-filled prayer and Scripture.

Among other things, some of my prayers were...

1. That Brian would not meet, but exceed the expectations put on him at work. That his numbers would go beyond the bare minimum.

2. That the work of his hands would be blessed (like Joseph's in Egypt), and that he would find favor from those above him in the workplace.

3. That he would feel useful and valued at work, and hear praise from his manager.

Things don't always happen this way, but in this instance, results came immediately. Brian told me about what a good afternoon he had at work when he got home the first night I prayed. After a week of daily time spent in prayer, his numbers were higher. Finally the end of February came around, and his numbers were so high, they exceeded the expectations of his managers. He got noticed by upper-level managers because of the positive reports coming in about him. After the last day of the month, his direct manager called him to praise him for how well he did and what an amazing, drastic change he'd made in his numbers.

He went from the lowest performance bracket to the highest in less than 30 days. 

My husband is a very hard worker, dedicated, and loves his job, but the demands there were high, and I believe the enemy was using his work to bring him down and make him feel defeated. It was leaking into every area of his life. I listened to the leading of the Spirit and submitted myself to prayer for my husband. And through my submission, God was able to break chains and do an awesome thing. My husband is like a new man.

We wives have so much power.

I thank God for that because I tend to be more spiritually aware of things, and can cover my husband in prayer when he doesn't even realize he needs it. Let's stomp on any footholds the enemy may have in any area of our husband's lives and use our power for good. Let's start praying over them and being their helpers as they go out and conquer the world for their families.

Their calling is to look ahead, work, and be warriors at the front of the battlefield, protecting and providing for their families. Our calling is to be the heart- dedicated to standing behind them with prayer spilling from our lips. And what a beautiful calling it is.

And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.

Matthew 21:22

Fear After A Miscarriage

Around this time last year (at the time of writing this post), I miscarried a baby, whom we named Clementine June. It was a very long, drawn out miscarriage. I found out the baby didn't appear to be growing properly, had to wait two grueling weeks to go back in and get checked, then found out I had for sure miscarried. We waited two more weeks for the miscarriage to happen on its own, then went in to get medicinal aid in starting the miscarriage process. I remember coming home with the bag of suppositories that would tell my body to expel my child, and weeping at the thought. My heart ached like it never has before; it was broken.

Hours after inserting the tablets, it all began, which broke my heart even further. The cramps were like labor contractions, the intense bleeding shocked and scared me. I remember not knowing what to do with what was in the toilet. If I flushed, I felt like I was throwing my baby away. Having been affected by someone's choice to abort their baby in the past, I felt hypocritical and torn. I wanted this baby... how could I just flush her away? My husband held me and helped me cope. He made a Clementine box and saved photos and tiny things that would remind us of our short time with her inside me. Naming that baby helped with closure tremendously. After it was over, God met with me and healed me, a little bit every day. He replaced sorrow with joy, and confusion with peace. I felt so healed and so blessed! People would ask me about it and I was able to respond without anger or tears or resentment.

The months rolled by and the time finally came where Brian and I talked about trying for our next baby. I took longer to be ready, but I finally got there, and became pregnant. I am not going to lie to you or sugar coat this (have I ever??)- I struggled with a lot of fear. It would grip me in the middle of the night, grab hold of my thoughts while I was driving, and send flashes of miscarriage memories throughout the day. I would be changing Hudson's diaper and thinking about going to the gym when all of a sudden I would see myself on the bathroom floor sobbing in blood. The fear was violent, out of control, and intense.

Satan loves to use fear.

Death began to follow and taunt me. A dead animal torn open violently by its prey in front of my house, realistic nightmares of my children dying, violent murders, and tortuous kidnappings came to me nearly every night. After praying and asking God to deliver me from this, He showed me that He had a protective hand on this baby, and that Satan was attacking me instead. And friends, that pissed me off. 

I came at Satan in the name of Jesus Christ whose blood was shed out of love for me and my family. I rebuked him from me, my husband and children, our home, my mind, my sleep... everywhere the Spirit led me to pray. Fear after a miscarriage is natural, but that doesn't mean you can't give it to Jesus and allow Him to replace it with peace- that's what He wants to do! Anxiety and torment is an attack. It is Satan getting into your business and messing with you. How dare he?! Fight back. Do not let him have any part of your life, or take away your hope and joy and peace in a pregnancy.

My next baby appointment came, and it was the final week of the "common miscarriage phase" of pregnancy. My stomach tightened a little when they called my name to go inside, but I felt peace rinse my spirit like cool water. The doctor placed the Doppler machine over my belly, then pulled it away and spoke just what I needed to hear. "You've had a miscarriage before. You need to see your baby." She left and came back with a tiny ultrasound machine, placed the probe on my belly, and there my baby was- heart beating, legs wiggling, thumb in the mouth, little body twisting and turning with joy.

 Thank you, Father. You are good. 

I could lose any of my babies at any time. I could still have a miscarriage, I could have a still birth, one of my live and healthy children could die today. I do not believe that God takes away the possibility of death or loss. I believe a huge part of faith in Him is just that- having faith, no matter what happens. Faith in His existence, faith in His goodness, faith in His faithfulness, and faith in His mighty power over the enemy. Death and loss is only a blow, not defeat. We already know what happens in the end. Choose joy, take peace.

The battle belongs to the Lord.