Category Archives: Personal Thoughts

Morning Rhythms

In order to set my day right, I have to get up at 5am. But, my friends, I am an actual morning person. At night, I’m foggy and silly and moody, but in the morning, I can actually pop out of bed pretty quickly. My husband is a night owl, so I like that I can have this first hour to myself. I know that might already turn some of you away from the screen, but bear with me.

  • My watch vibrates, waking me up. I turn to my nightstand where my devotional is laying out on top of my phone. I used to do Bible studies on an app, but I found that I would drift to other social media apps and lose precious morning me time. I still might need to use the flashlight option on my phone to read (and not wake up the husband), but I can do this without opening my phone all the way. This month, I’m reading 31 Days of Praise by Ruth Meyers.

  • After my devo, I grab my phone and head to the bathroom to get ready. Usually, I have laid out my clothes in the closet the night before so I’m not rummaging through drawers. I used to shower and wash my hair every day, but that has changed for me. I only wash my hair 2-3 times a week now, and sometimes I skip the shower if I know I will be needing a warm bath or shower later that day due to exercise or activity.

  • Once I’ve dressed, I do a quick 10-15 minute session of yoga, sometimes less if I’m low on time. This helps my body and mind get ready. I have a playlist on YouTube with sessions 10 minutes or less so I’m not trying to find the video in the morning. My go-tos are Yoga with Adriene and Sarah Beth Yoga. I know that I’ve enjoyed everything on that playlist, so there is less time being used trying to make a decision. I also put my yoga mat in the closet the night before so it is ready to use.

  • After a shower and yoga, I go back into the bedroom, putting my yoga mat back in its normal corner and put my phone back on my nightstand. There, I pick up my prayer journal and head into the office where I do my journaling until my watch goes off at 6, which is when my husband gets up to start his day. Usually, I’m finishing up my last thoughts when the watch goes off, but as soon as I’m done, I return to the bedroom with my notebook to place it back in its place.

  • Then, once my husband is up, I turn on the light and read until my kid gets up. Of course, there have been times when this has already happen, so my reading might be more of the children’s book variety, but I can usually get a chapter or so of my own book while I convince the kid to play with the dogs. Once my husband is dressed, we all head down for breakfast.

  • The rest of the morning consists of getting the kid ready, making the beds, starting laundry, and feeding the dogs. All of this is done to the latest favorite playlist blasting through the entire house via Google Home. But each task flows into the next. Part of making my bed is getting a laundry basket on the bed to fill. I bring that basket down and start the washer, turn around, and the dog food is there, waiting for me to scoop it and fill the dog bowls in the kitchen. I pass by the dining room table where I take the breakfast dishes to the sink.

It helps my kid learn the flow of our house as well. As soon as the music comes on, it’s time to get dressed. Less fighting about getting out of pajamas because we are too busy dancing!

I also realize that this is a “living in a pandemic” rhythm. We haven’t had to be anywhere specific for a while now, and I’m sure when life inevitably changes so will we, but for now I’m truly enjoying the flow of our mornings!

What kind of things are a must for you to do each morning?

Word of the Month: Rhythm

For most of my life, I lived by self-imposed schedules, hoping that perfect balance between hours and minutes, chasing after the vision of having it all and being content. But like any rat race, it left me feeling burnout and frustration more than anything else. Over the years, I am learning to be more flexible, letting go of the desired perfection, and embracing rhythms instead of schedules.

Rhythms are the ebb and flow from one activity to another.

Rhythms are more organic. They are the ebb and flow from one activity to another. They build habits and set cues that help remember what comes next instead of allowing the clock to dictate my life all the time. Granted, there are still some things that end up on a schedule, but certain parts of my day allow me to bend just a bit and tune into what I need in the moment.

In the coming weeks, I will talk about some of these rhythms. Some have been established for a while, deeply grooved into my day, while others are newer and still have a few kinks to work out. But all of them have helped me stay present in the moment.

Do you live by schedules or rhythms? What are some things or habits that you absolutely must include in your day?

Annual Reflections: Hope

As we come to the end of 2020, as with any year, it’s important to look back, embrace the year for what it was, learn from it, and look ahead into the future. Usually, by this point in the year, I already have some idea of direction, plans, goals for the coming year. But this year, I got nothing. Which, if you know me, is really uncharacteristic of me. So, I want to use this time to delve into how this year has impacted me, what I’ve learned, and any glimmer into the year to come.

Merry Christmas, everyone! As this is the last of this series, I wanted to end in hope. No matter how we have grieved, how we have grown, or how lonely we have felt, there is always a hope for a redemptive tomorrow.

I think about the days leading up to the birth of Christ, the 400 years where God was silent to the Jewish people. So many people grieving loss, feeling lonely, growing as best they could under oppressive regimes. All hope seemed loss

And then, in a small manger, in a tiny town of Bethlehem, a little baby was born to a newly-wedded, poor teenage girl and her husband. A bright star paved the way out of the darkness into the light of God’s love.

However you are celebrating this year, I pray that you are surrounded by love and joy and a peace that surpasses all understanding. May God continue to walk with you through the end of this year and into the next one!

Annual Reflections: Loneliness

As we come to the end of 2020, as with any year, it’s important to look back, embrace the year for what it was, learn from it, and look ahead into the future. Usually, by this point in the year, I already have some idea of direction, plans, goals for the coming year. But this year, I got nothing. Which, if you know me, is really uncharacteristic of me. So, I want to use this time to delve into how this year has impacted me, what I’ve learned, and any glimmer into the year to come.

While I am an introverted homebody, I still recognize I need people in my life, a community, a village. This year has been lonely, even for me. And I realized that this has been building up for a while, and it took having to socially distance from large gatherings to understand my reality and how I got here.

When Michael and I were first married, we moved to the DFW area and met a lot of great friends. We would go to parties, outings, double date nights. It was a lot of fun. But that first wave of friends started having kids. There is absolutely nothing wrong with people having kids, but bandwidths and priorities change when a little one is introduced to a family. It’s just the way it is.

I celebrated, hosted baby showers, did all the things. And I learned that if I wanted to maintain these relationships, I had to reach out to them. I needed to be the one to go to their house and remember birthdays and listen to their struggles and their milestones. I want to reiterate that I didn’t hate this, I looked forward to it. And as a young married in her 20s, I had all the energy and time in the world to do this.

Soon, a new wave of friends came into our life, but this time, when everyone else started having babies. I was losing them. This time, I didn’t have the bandwidth to do the things I did before, and for whatever reason, those friendships drifted away. I tried to find a new community several times, but I felt alone. Really alone.

Finally, after six years, we gave birth to a beautiful baby. It felt like life could finally begin. I could finally connect with other moms and find the community I lost. After the first year (because that first year was a fog), I joined a mom’s Bible study group. I was so socially awkward. I felt like I had forgotten how to connect. But I finally found my groove and even signed my kid up for a two day preschool.

Which started January 2020.

Then the world stopped.

All of the sudden, my world shrank to our family. I stayed connected to a few friends online through Marco Polo. But the village was pretty much gone. Everyone was overwhelmed, and I just fell through the cracks.

Now, there is a lot of this story that is my responsibility. And believe me, I tell myself all the time that I should do better, put myself out there more, be less selfish, all the things. I recognize the amazing things in my life, embrace them with gratitude. But I’m still lonely.

It has given me a lot of time to walk with God, lean on him, turn to him. And I know that there are things ahead of me to look forward to. I guess I just want to write this a part of my 2020 experience to let others know that even if you have felt lonely this year, or in this season, just know that others are feeling it too.

Annual Reflections: Growth

As we come to the end of 2020, as with any year, it’s important to look back, embrace the year for what it was, learn from it, and look ahead into the future. Usually, by this point in the year, I already have some idea of direction, plans, goals for the coming year. But this year, I got nothing. Which, if you know me, is really uncharacteristic of me. So, I want to use this time to delve into how this year has impacted me, what I’ve learned, and any glimmer into the year to come.

As hard as this year has been, there have been a lot of growth moments as well. In fact, I’m still learning new things even at the end of this year about myself, life, relationships, parenting, and everything in between.

This year has forced me to slow down. At the beginning of the year, the plan was to join some classes at the gym, finally clean and organize my house, and finish writing a book. I got none of those things accomplished. But the truth is, I was busy maintaining my anxiety and my household, keeping hands sanitized and food on the table. I was a people pleaser who actually had to say no and set specific boundaries, and have those boundaries questioned and still have to maintain them. I learned my own limits and bandwidth, and how to work with those parameters.

I really got to know who I am this year. I realized my priorities outside of the influence of others. When all the other voices got quieter as we all social-distanced, I could learned how to my own voice. And I learned these things:

  1. I love my husband. This year, we grew closer. And it was hard and messy and beautiful. We voiced things we had been holding onto and realized that we didn’t always remember our history together the same way. But we are more on the same page at the end of 2020 than we probably have ever been.
  2. I love my kid. I don’t share a whole lot on the internet, but this kid is just amazing. I’ve learned what it means to love and parent and fail and try again and receive forgiveness and give forgiveness, all in this little person who lives life fully and completely every day.
  3. I’ve been holding on to a lot of lies. About my body. About my purpose. About my place in this world. About the expectations I place on myself and others place on me. I’ve been questioning a lot of things this year and growing as a person by embracing what is actually true in my life.
  4. I really am an introverted homebody. While I can carry on with small talk at the grocery store, I’m not a social butterfly. While I do have a few friends to reach out to, the busy social calendar isn’t really for me. This was the one aspect of the quarantine where I thrived.
  5. I don’t need to always have a plan. This was probably the biggest one for me. I would throw myself into all the expectations of a mother and wife and woman and Christian that I thought I needed to fulfill on a day to day basis. My calendar would be scheduled out by the hour. And then I just stopped. Actually, my therapist suggested a break and I realized just how much I needed one. I have learned how to take it day by day in a much healthier way.

Of course, God has been with me every step of the way. I am still so thankful for his grace and new mercies every morning. It gives me the curiosity and strength to enter a new year with slightly more anticipation than anxiety.

Annual Reflections: Grief

As we come to the end of 2020, as with any year, it’s important to look back, embrace the year for what it was, learn from it, and look ahead into the future. Usually, by this point in the year, I already have some idea of direction, plans, goals for the coming year. But this year, I got nothing. Which, if you know me, is really uncharacteristic of me. So, I want to use this time to delve into how this year has impacted me, what I’ve learned, and any glimmer into the year to come.

This year has been hard. For everyone. There has been so much loss. Loss of loved ones, friends, jobs, routines, relationships, plans, trips, dreams. Everyone had to pivot when the pandemic came, some more than others. No matter how you feel about COVID-19 or wearing masks or social distancing, in some way you were affected. And it wasn’t just the pandemic. Social justice, political division, protests, riots. Our world has been in a steady panic attack, one right after another. There is even a term for the numbness you feel after being bombarded with so much, COVID fatigue.

The truth is, we have been collectively and individually going through grief. The denial that all of this would go away in the summer or by the end of the year. The bargaining for answers and quick fixes. The anger. The depression. Even some resigned acceptance. The stages have all been there.

Of course, the Bible embraces the act of grieving. There is an entire book called Lamentations. The psalms are full of grieving verses.

For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my iniquity, and my bones waste away.

Psalm 31:10

How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

Psalm 13:2

Of course, God can handle our grief. In much of the Bible, it says we can cast our cares on him, that he will lift us up. Even in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus talks about those who mourn will be comforted. Grief is not a sign of a lack of faith, but it is an open acknowledgement that this world is indeed broken and in need of God’s healing.

So, before I move on to growth (which will be next week’s topic), I need to grieve. I grieve the lack of travel, less time with loved ones, the impossibility to go to funerals or say last goodbyes in person. I grieve the new uncertainties of school rhythms, seasonal rhythms, community gatherings. I grieve the simple shopping trips, spontaneous family outings, fun indoor kid activities, dance classes at the gym. I grieve the halted traditions of holidays, the hard conversations with loved ones about why we aren’t visiting, the added efforts to keep our kid connected to his extended family. I grieve not being on the same page with everyone, having to explain why we continue to worship from home and attend gatherings exclusively online, knowing that others made different choices. I grieve being able to go on social media without walking away confused, frustrated, and depressed.

This season is hard, even in the most normal of years, but it is especially hard this year. And I want to acknowledge that. If you are grieving right now in whatever capacity, please know that you are not alone. And I pray you feel the presence of God and lean on him, knowing he is walking with you through it all.

Remembering Lisa

Last week, my cousin, Lisa, passed away at 41 from cancer.  She was diagnosed just last year with stage 3 inflammatory breast cancer, and the treatment they did was pretty aggressive – chemo, a mastectomy, followed by radiation.  But after the mastectomy, they did tests and found that the cancer had spread.  She returned to chemo treatments, but the cancer still spread.  She was hospitalized a few weeks ago, but her body just couldn’t recover. 

Even though she is my cousin, we have always had more of a sisterly bond.  I wanted to be just like her when I was a kid.  I remember one night we were going somewhere with friends and they remarked how much I acted like her.  I responded with “Yeah, buddy” which was something she said all the time, and the whole car just burst into laughter.

She taught me about make-up, boys, sex, and peer pressure.  When I was 14, she had just graduated high school, and we were both staying at our grandparents’ house for the summer.  We went camping with some friends and they brought out some alcohol.  When they offered it to me, I said no.  They started to make fun of me, pressure me, but Lisa stopped them in their tracks.  “She said no, and you will respect that.”  Years later, I told her how much that had helped me, and she said that she didn’t really have someone like that in her life, and she wanted to make sure I did.

Her heart was overflowing in generosity.  She loved fiercely, passionately.  When I was pregnant with my son, wrought with anxiety because all I had known up to that point was pregnancy loss, she sent me a journaling Bible with a set of colored pencils.  It has brought me so much comfort, especially in these last few weeks.

The greatest comfort to me was her relationship with God.  She and I had so many conversations in the last few years about faith in God, and hers was incredibility strong.  She was so loved, and she loved so much.  I still look up to her and want to be just like her.  I will miss our conversations.  I will miss her hugs and laugh and even the eye-rolls.  I will miss her passion.  I will miss her.  I love you so much Lisa.

This Tender Land: A Review

This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this book as part of the Modern Mrs. Darcy book club.  I really appreciate this book club because they introduce books that I would have never sought out on my own.  This book was no different.  They say if you enjoyed Where The Crawdads Sing then you would enjoy this book, but I haven’t read that book either.  Regardless, I give this book 4 stars.

Odie and Albert’s parents were dead, and since the orphanage was too full, they found themselves at a school in Minnesota whose primary purpose was to provide education to Native American children.  It takes place in the 1930s during the Great Depression.  Odie has struggled at this school and had been on the receiving end of a lot of abuse.

One night, there is a murder at the school, which forces Odie, Albert, their friend Mose, and a little girl named Emmy to escape from the school in a kayak down the river, headed towards the Mississippi River and St. Louis to hopefully find an aunt that might take them in.  Along the way, they meet several different characters that represented the reality for people in that era.  It is almost set up like the Odyssey with a little bit of Huck Finn thrown in. 

It took me a bit to really get into it.  But once I was invested in the characters, I was hooked.  It explored the questions of faith and trust, both in yourself and in others.  Also, there is a bit of magic in the series that could be explained or not, but considering the narrator is actually a storyteller, known for his ability to tell a good story, there are things that may be exaggerated.  However, if you read this book like a float down the river, it is worth it just for the ride.

There is profanity.  The sexual content was implied (there is a brothel in the story, but since this is told from a young boy’s perspective and he is not allowed to be a part of that world, there is little described).  There is also violent content, all still told from Odie’s perspective, so some of it isn’t quite as reliable.  He tends to blame himself for things that he was responsible for, so it can be a little unsure.

The book is excellent, especially if you enjoy a good epic adventure.  There were plot twists I didn’t expect because the misdirection is really well done.  I wasn’t even thinking about the possibilities of those twists and turns until they were already there.  Really good read!

Your Voice Matters

I struggle at times with my voice.  Does my writing or posting or creating really matter?

Most of the time, I write because I’m passionate about what I am writing.  Whether it’s faith studies, books, pregnancy loss, mental health, or anything that challenges me or brings a smile to my face.  I love sharing hope and challenge with other people because I love reading about those same things. 

Then, the wave starts to crash.  I forget my purpose and my passion and get engulfed by the numbers and statistics.  I convince myself that others have a better way of saying the same things I say, and I’m just shouting into the ether.

But here is the truth.  Whatever you are creating, however you are creating it, your voice matters.  People need your perspective.  They need the nuance of your words.  They need to know that they aren’t alone.

It’s easy to feel alone.  It’s what the powers of evil want you to feel.  That you are the only one.  That no one hears you.  That there is not enough space to move and speak into the ways God has created you to move and speak.

But here is the truth.  You are made in the image of God.  God is a creator, so it makes sense that you have a desire to create things as well. 

There is a lie out there that says we live in scarcity.  That we have to claw and fight for every moment to prove our worth.  It is such a slippery slope of hurt and depression that could even lead to tactics that don’t reflect who you really are.

But here is the truth.  We live in an abundance of Godly provision.  And we need to trust that His provision is enough.  We are enough.  We can share the love of God, the passion of our life freely and wholly.  We can encourage the voices around us without fear that our own voices will be lost.  There is room for all at the table.

I don’t know about you, but I needed to hear these words.  I refuse to believe I’m shouting into an abyss.  I trust in the Spirit of God who created me to create.  I trust in abundance and not scarcity.  I choose to amplify and encourage the voices around me as well as share my own voice.  I am not alone, and you aren’t either.  Together we can share the passionate voices we were given by our Creator.

Annual Contemplation

This month is when my year starts again, even though it has felt like I have lived many years since January.  But here in the month of June, my birth is celebrated by those closest to me.  And it puts me in a deeply contemplative mood.

Looking Back

This last year was almost evenly divided between growth and stepping back.  Last summer, we did a lot of travel as a family.  We went to a wedding, visited family, and toured New York City.  All things that are more difficult to do this summer.  Last fall, I joined a mom group, a second book club, and found socialization opportunities for my son.  By the end of the year, I had a small village of people who loved on my family and encouraged me as a mom. 

Then, everything seemed to fall apart.  While the very beginning of this year promised a continued growth of that village, COVID-19 spread all over the world and this country bringing uncertainty and stopping pretty much everything.  So, after a few weeks of adjustment, I had new goals to focus on, primarily keeping my son engaged without leaving our house.

And in just the last few weeks, protests of police brutality and all of the conversations around racism and privilege have been brought to the forefront.  Every discussion over breakfast or dinner between Michael and me have been about the things our city and our country are going through, and the action steps we plan to take.

One of my personal goals is to teach my son and make him aware of what is going on at his level.  He’s only two so our conversations are more focused on the beauty in every person and the value that everyone inherently has.  But I know as he grows, we will have more in depth conversations about privileges we have and the honest history of our country.

Looking Forward

It is kind of odd this year.  Usually, I make my birthday a sort of New Year’s Day with its own goals and plans.  And while I have been making some plans this month (particularly in the blogging and writing categories), I don’t’ actually know much about what will happen in the next year.  COVID-19 is still spreading through our community.  Dallas has experienced higher rates of hospitalization and ER visits connected with this virus. 

Plus, this is an election year.  I do plan to research at an even deeper level what is on my ballot, not just the president choices, but everyone up for a place in local, state, and national positions.  But I don’t know what that outcome will be.

So, that makes it difficult to make specific plans.  I do know that I want to continue focusing on the things I’m passionate about while balancing self-care and the needs of my family.  I want to embrace slowing down and taking moments to reflect as well as to look ahead, making thoughtful decisions without worrying about pleasing other people.  Ultimately, I want to do things that honor God and encourage others around me to follow in the footsteps of Jesus.

I am thankful for the last year and its many, many lessons.  I sort of hope that next year will be a little lighter on the challenges. But whatever may come, this last year has taught me even more that I can lean on God and my family. Life is hard, but we can definitely do hard things. And I look forward to the adventures that are ahead.