Monday, March 25, 2013

a few little secrets.

Happy Monday, Y'all!

Like I mentioned, so many wonderful people have asked me how the Making Things Happen conference was!  I know my initial post probably seemed a little strange.  And really it's just because I have a lot to figure out.

But, I am excited to share with y'all a few secrets from the conference.  The very first thing that Lara Casey said after welcoming us on the first day of the conference was "I have no secret for y'all".  So, the end.  

Kidding.  She went on to say that there is no secret equation on how to make things happen.  And, although I wish there were (because it would make my life a lot easier!) it actually requires a lot of hard work, some time away and an excitement to make things happen!  

So, if you're interested in starting to make things happen, here's how to get started. 

First, go to Lara Casey's blog on the about page and click on the square that says "Goals".  This will direct you down the page to her goals posts.  Now, this is going to sound crazy, but I want you to open each post and print it.   All five posts.  Do it how ever you'd like - copy and paste just the text into a document and print it or print the whole post with the pictures and everything.  Do it however you'd like, just PRINT THEM.

Then, figure out a time when you can go somewhere by yourself (like really go somewhere - not just sitting in your living room during nap time or at your desk during your lunch break).  Leave your computer and your iPad at home.  Take the posts that your printed out and a fun journal or notebook.

Now we're going to get crazy.

Go to the coffee shop and leave your phone in the car!

  Let your husband or whoever know where you're going to be so they can call you at the store if something happens and they need to get in touch with you.  

Now, I know this sounds crazy and probably extreme.  But I promise you, this was a huge part of the success of the conference.  They literally took our phones away when we walked into the conference.  So we were forced to focus COMPLETELY on one single task.  

It was liberating.  I know that sounds crazy but to be honest, I don't even want to have my phone with me now.  I recognized just how addicted to it I was and just how much time I waste.  Truly, if you think about it, almost all of us are addicted to it.  Rather than sitting in the drive thru line and appreciating the music on the radio or sitting in silence just thinking or rolling the windows down and pointing out the trees and sky to our kids in the backseat, we are on our phones.  We fill EVERY EXTRA SECOND OF OUR TIME catching up on what other people are doing on Facebook or updating Facebook to let others know what we're doing.  It's exhausting.  

Okay, off the soap box.  But for real.  If you really want to get the experience I would leave your phone in your car.  You will survive.  I promise.  And, don't fake it and say that you're just going to leave it in your bag and only pull it out if you need it.  This won't work.   Promise.  You WILL pull it out at some point.  Just to make sure no one has called or texted.  And it breaks your train of thought.

So instead, walk in and appreciate just standing in line.  Look around.  People watch.  Smile at someone.  Just be.  Honestly, that alone is a huge step.

Once you get your coffee, you should sit for five minutes.  Five minutes is going to seem like an eternity.  But do it.  Just sit and enjoy your coffee.  Appreciate the fact that you have some time to yourself.  To your own thoughts.  Without anything encroaching.  No Instagram updates and no sippy cups to refill.  Just sit.  And think.  Or pray.  Or watch what's going on around you.  

This alone will make you feel refreshed and fired up and ready to make things happen.  

Only after you have sat for five minutes, pull out your posts and your journal.  Go through each post, read it and follow Lara's instruction.  Enjoy this time.  Think about your answers.  Give yourself a few minutes to answer each question.  Don't feel rushed to get to the end.  Even if you have a limited amount of time.  Get through what you can in the time that you've got.  Only moving forward to the next part when you feel like you've really thought about what she's asking and written down your response.  If you have to split this up into a couple of outings it will be worth it to go slow and break it up into two separate times than to rush through just to finish.  

Now, once you've finished all of the posts, you will be fired up.  You will be excited about living your ideal day and doing things that fire you up and accomplishing the things that you truly value in this life.

Once you get home, there are a few action items you need to complete.  

First, you will need to type up and print out (or write on a fun piece of paper) your list of things that fire you up.  Print it out and put it at your desk.  On your bulletin board.  Wherever the central hub is in your home.  Somewhere you will come in contact with it often.  

I'm not sure about you, but when I made my list, I actually realized there are some days when I do none of the things that actually fire me up.  That's ridiculous.  The majority of the things on my list take thirty minutes or less.  Lots under 5 minutes.  So why in the world am I not getting fired up every day?  

So, print your list.  And post it somewhere you will see it many times throughout the day.  

Then DO at least one thing on your list EVERYDAY.  

Next, I want you to move your phone charger to your bathroom.  Heck, if you have a house phone, move your cell phone charger to the kitchen or the office.  Oh, what's that?  You use it to wake up to in the morning?  GO BUY AN ALARM CLOCK.  

Or, still use your alarm on your phone get up when you hear it going off in the bathroom.  You'll kill two birds with one stone.  

First, you'll get in the bed at night and wake up in the mornings without checking your phone.  How many of y'all go to sleep beside your husband with both of you checking Instagram or Facebook?  And, how many of you wake up in the mornings and while you can barely see, you pull your phone over and pull up Instagram?  Without even thinking?  

You haven't prayed.  You haven't thought about your day.  You haven't kissed your husband good morning.  But you sure know about every person on your news feed.   

And, the other bird you'll kill is that you'll be out of the bed to get to the alarm and therefore not hitting the snooze button.

And then, lastly, write out your ideal day.  
In detail.  
And try it.  
At least once.  
Force yourself to do it.  

You will feel like this:

Pure bliss. 

Your ideal day must be realistic.  And, for me, I had to recognize that in order to have my ideal day, I had to start at night.  If my ideal day starts early and with my house tidy then I have to get it tidy the night before and I have to go to bed at a decent time in order to start my ideal day out right.  

I'll try to post my actual ideal day sometime soon.  But, for now just know that this is such a huge part of being successful and making things happen.  TRUST ME.  I have tried it both ways since I went to the conference.  And the days that start out ideally are SO MUCH BETTER.

Then, lastly (okay, I know I said that the ideal day was the last step...but I lied) tell me how it goes! 
I'm dying to hear how this works for you!  

One of my favorite things that Lara says is:

Life's too short to live small.

And it's so true, y'all!  I want to live a life that is full!  I want to make life happen.  I don't want to sit back and watch it pass me by!  If you feel the same way, get started!

By the way:  these pictures happened when I was doing some things that fire me up!  Playing outside with my sweet boys, taking pictures and watching the sunset!  :)))

And, we talked about so much over the course of two days, but these are some of the huge things that I took away!  I hope they help y'all in some way!

Friday, March 22, 2013

project 52.43


It's strange what happens when you became a mama.  It's like you become this person you never knew you were.  My mama used to do things that I couldn't even understand.  Like staying up all night making Easter outfits and cleaning up puke without flinching.  And here I am.  Doing just that.  

We been sick around here again this week.  Tate, you woke up in the middle of the night a couple days ago and I came into the nursery to give you a paci.  When you wouldn't take it, I picked up up to rock you.  As soon as I picked you up, you puked all over me.  Then, today, I walked in after nap time and Crews, you were picked up and taken straight to the tub.  Throw up was all over your crib.  

And really, it's just what you do once you become a mama.  You don't think twice about it.  You immediately pull that sick baby out of their crib and allow them to nestle into you.  Even when it's stinky or dirty.  You want to care for them with every ounce of your being.  You want them to feel loved and cared for.  Safe and comfortable.  

I read a blog post today and at one point the author said:
"I laid down me to make more of you and it wasn’t a sacrifice but the unexpected grace of motherhood"
And that's just it.  

I don't force myself to be this way.  I don't even make the choice not to mind throw up and losing sleep (which if you know anything about me, you know sleep is precious in my eyes).  

It's just who I am now.  It's the unexpected grace of motherhood.  And I am oh, so thankful that I can experience life this way.

Monday, March 18, 2013

mth 2013.

Y'all.  I don't know where to begin.  Last Wednesday and Thursday were phenomenal.  I learned so much.  But to be honest, I'm still in a haze.  Since Thursday (in between refilling sippy cups and changing diapers) my mind has been trying so hard to process all that I soaked in and wrote down.  

I have a new outlook on so much in my life.  But I also have a lot to figure out.  I have come to realize that it is crucial to schedule some time away.  The focus and clarity and passion that I felt for all of Wednesday and Thursday were because I had stepped outside of my normal, had my phone taken away from me and was solely focusing on one thing at a time.  It is unreal,  the amount of clarity that came come from that!  

But, here I am, on Monday, right back in the swing of things.  And I am fighting so hard to hang on to the things that we talked about and the things that we learned.  

One of the biggest things that was reiterated throughout the conference is to be careful how much you say about the conference when you go home.  You have a lot to process.  

In fact, they gave us a big ground rule for Wednesday night.  When we left the conference and everyone broke off into smaller groups to go eat supper, they asked us to do one thing.  Or really to not do one thing.  They told us not to offer advice.  

Their point was this:  We had fought all day to cut out any distractions, any of the "normal" that America tends to operate on, any of the voices in our heads.  And instead, think long and hard.  

So, they told us to continue that through the evening.  To discuss what we had learned with each other but not to offer advice.  And, how quick are we to do this?  We want to empathize with people.  We want to let them know that it's all going to be okay.  We want to take their sometimes jumbled up words, process them for them and spit them back out in a nice, pretty package with a bow on top.  Making them feel better (or not) but really making yourself feel better because you were able to "fix" someone else.  Even though you are most likely a hot mess right along with them.

So instead, they told us to let people talk about their experience and then allow them to sit in it.  Allow them to process it themselves.  Not giving them tips on how you would do it or what sounds like the best plan.  Just hear them.  And that's it.  

And it was so good.  To be able to talk about what I'm trying to figure out without having someone say, "Okay, so here's what it sounds like to me..." or "Well, this is what I did when I was at that point..." or even, "Oh, Jenny, it's okay that you feel like that".  I was able to just say what was on my heart.  And sometimes, saying it aloud sounds different than just thinking it.  So it was good to say some things aloud.  For me to hear what came out of my mouth but then, still be able to process them on my own. 

So we were cautioned on sharing when we came home as well.
This is hard for me.  I tend to be an over-sharer. 
It's also hard because the people in my life knew how excited I was to go to the conference.  They knew that it was a big investment.  And that I was hoping for great things.  So, they are ready to hear about it!  They want to know what I'm doing with my life and what my ten step plan is.  And, I'm so grateful that they want to share in this with me.  But really?  What it boils down to is that I've got a lot to pray about.  I've got a lot of work to do.  And I've got a lot that still needs to be figured out.  

I have actually tried (once) to share some of the more specific things I learned since the conference (hmm...breaking the rule...that didn't take long...) and what I figured out is that words are cheap.  What I said and what I feel are two different things.  So, about 30 minutes after talking about it, I texted and said, "Forget everything I said, it wasn't completely accurate, I'm still figuring it out".  

And the truth is?  It's a lot of work.  Going to this conference didn't give me some perfect equation.  But they provided me with great tools.  Tools that I anticipate using for the rest of my life. 

 Because really, it's true.

Life is too short to live small.

So, all that to say, I'm not planning to be cryptic about this experience forever.  But, really, I need to figure out some stuff first.  For myself.  I want to hear God's voice the loudest in my life.  And sometimes that means not talking about things to every person in your life.  Because often their voices ended up replaying the loudest and not leaving room for who you really want to hear from (whether the answer is what you want to hear or not).

I did get to spend some time with amazing people and meet some lifelong friends!

I'm hoping to spend some time figuring out what's next and then really going at it hardcore.  And, I will be back with more to share, promise.  Just not today!

ps.  wow - i feel like even what I've written is a jumbled up mess :)  i just get so excited, nervous, freaked out, etc when i think about all that i learned!  so, sorry for being all over the place :)

Friday, March 15, 2013

project 52.42


Lately my days have been filled to the brim.
With joy.  With laughter.  With love. 

I am so incredibly blessed to be your mama.  And I want to soak in every single one of these days.  Last night you were exhausted, Tate.  And Crews, you were giggly.  We went into your nursery for your bedtime routine and it was my most favorite part of yesterday.  It was exactly what I envisioned my life to be like as a mama.  You both nursed and then Crews, you climbed up in Daddy's lap for prayers.  Tate, you slowly gave in to your exhaustion in my arms.  Crews, you giggled throughout the entire prayer while poking Daddy in the face.  And Tate, you slowly sank your little body into my arms and began to breathe deeply.  

After prayers we continued to linger in your room.  It was as if both of us realized that these moments are fleeting.  I want to hold tight these moments where I can feel what I was created to be.  Where I can fully soak it in and recognize just how incredibly blessed I am.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

sneak peek of miss katie!

I got the opportunity to take Miss Katie's newborn pictures a few weeks ago.  She is so precious and I so enjoyed spending the afternoon with her and her wonderful parents!  This is Josh and Alissa's first and they are completely smitten with her.  It was so much fun being able to capture their love for this sweet girl.

Monday, March 11, 2013

monday hodgepodge.

Hey y'all!

I'm having a hard time completing a full thought.  And, I have a feeling that will be the case for the next two days...because MAKING THINGS HAPPEN starts on Wednesday!  Eeeek!  So, how about a hodgepodge of all my partial thoughts for today?

1.  I love daylight savings.  Ask me about it in November and I will tell you how much I despise it.  Last night was the first night.  We fed the boys supper and had bath time.  Then, I loaded my freshly jammied babes up and went for a run.  It.was.heavenly.  

2.  The boys are 16 months old and I can honestly say I have loved every single stage of being their mom.  But, in the last few months they have become so much fun!  Their little personalities are coming out, they are able to communicate a little more and they are ALL boy.  The run all through the house and jump off of anything they can climb on.  It's awesome!  I went on and on to Jordan the other day about how much joy they bring to my life.  I mean on and on.  The next day was just one of those hard days.  He got home at 5 p.m. and I gave him the look.  The one that says, "GET IN HERE AND TAKE OVER BEFORE I LOSE MY MIND".  He proceeded to try to ask me if I remembered what I  was telling him the night before.  Before he could get the words out of his mouth, I stopped him.  I turned around, with steam coming from my ears and through gritted teeth I said, "DON'T EVEN SAY IT".  But really, so much joy.  Almost every second.

3.  We will be spending every waking moment outside for the next six months.  Today, after spending a few hours outside, eating lunch and playing, we came inside so I could get some laundry done.  Both boys went ballistic.  Crews stood at the door.  Beating on it.  No matter how many times I redirected him.  Good thing I love being outside!

4.  Speaking of laundry...does it ever end?  I mean, seriously.  I have just finished folding three loads that have been sitting in baskets all weekend.  (That used to be my biggest pet peeve.  But, nowadays, wrinkled clothes is the price we pay for clean clothes).  I probably have three more loads to do today.  Six loads of laundry all in one afternoon?  There should be a rule against that.

5.  This little guy has become a big mama's boy again.  (Crews switched places with him for a little while).  We walked over to visit Poppy and Nonny today and Poppy was going to give him a ride in the big truck.  He was dying to get in.  But not quite enough to give up Mama.

6.  We are so blessed that Jordan works next door.  He makes frequent trips home throughout the day and spends a little time with the boys.  They get so excited when they hear his truck "beeping" (when he's in reverse).  Crews heard beeping earlier this morning that was actually happening over at the office.  He thought it was his Daddy and he jumped up from playing and ran to the door yelling, "DaaaDE, DaaDE" (I love the way he says it).  He spent some time reading to the boys this morning.  They were in hog heaven.

7.  I've picked up crocheting again, recently (thanks, Sarah).  I need another hobby like I need a hole in my head.  I made a blanket that turned out a lot bigger than I was expecting.  I'm still trying to decide if I'm going to make it wider.  Right now it's just a weird size - super long but narrow.  I was ready for a faster project (hello, instant gratification) so I made an infinity scarf.  I like the way it turned out and I can't wait to make some for Christmas presents this year!

How's that for random?  Hope you all have a great week!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

tomato bisque.

If you're anything like me, there are some days when 5:00 rolls around and you haven't given the first thought to supper.  Those are the nights that we blow the budget and eat unhealthy meals.  Either that or a hodgepodge of leftover items in the fridge.  So, I've decided that I need to come up with a handful of meals that are easy to keep on hand, quick to assemble, healthy and cheap.  The first is a "recipe" (can you even call it that when you just dump things into a pot?) from Jordan's aunt.  She happened upon it at Trader Joe's when they were offering samples.  

The first is a "recipe" (can you even call it that when you just dump things into a pot?) is from Jordan's aunt.  She happened upon it at Trader Joe's when they were offering samples.  

It's tomato bisque soup and it is simple and delicious!

All you need is:

  • Roasted Red Pepper Soup
  • Bruschetta
Just combine the two in a pot and heat it up!  Serve with grilled cheese sandwiches and you've got yourself a great meal (and leftovers!) in 5 minutes.

Both items can be stored in your pantry until opened so you can keep this on hand without worrying that it will go bad!  You can also buy low sodium soup which is what we plan to do in the future.  With the bruschetta added you won't notice the missing sodium and it will make it even healthier! 

Do you have any quick, healthy and affordable recipes?  If so, please share!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

fit to burst - a book review.

How about a little book review on a random, cloudy Tuesday morning?  This book has quickly shot to the top of my list as the book I will recommend to mamas.  It was perfect for the stage of motherhood I am in but I am sure that it will continue to be relevant throughout the time my kids are young.  

I read Fit to Burst in the course of a few days because I honestly could not put it down.  As soon as the boys would go down for a nap I would sit down and start reading, I stayed up way later than I should have until I could no longer hold my eyelids open and I would even try to sneak in a few pages while I was sitting in line at the bank or a drive thru.  It was just that good.

As I read this book, I felt like I was sitting down over coffee with the author.  I  love a book written like this.  One that is easy to read because it's not full of flowery language that I have to decipher.  Rachel is also in the trenches of motherhood which I think helps.  She isn't looking back over all the lessons she learned through the years.  Instead, she is writing lessons as she learns them and as she works through difficult or frustrating or beautiful times.  There were multiple times that I would read a chapter and by that night, I would find myself in the same predicament she had talked about.  I was able to put her advice into practice immediately not just store it away for a future time when my life wasn't as chaotic.  She teaches lessons you should use in the chaos.  

She also discusses different issues in each chapter.  I get so fed up with the books where you read the first few chapters and get the main jest of the book and the remaining fifteen (or more!) chapters are just examples of the points made in the first few chapters.  This does not happen in this book.  She hits on so many different areas of motherhood.  And she manages to step on your toes in every area!

And all of her lessons?  They point to Jesus.  He is the main theme.  It's not a book full of all kinds of tricks and ways to become a good mother and then be able to serve Him once you've figured out the mom thing.  It's serving Him through being a mom.  Honoring Him when you're cleaning a high chair for the sixth time (no, really.) or rewashing the load of clothes your left in the washing machine overnight.  It was such a sweet, sweet reminder of where my heart should be in this process of raising these little munchkins.  And where Jesus should be.  In the forefront.  Not pushed to the side until I have a minutes peace to do my bible study.   But instead, He should be praised and honored through the blowout diaper and the days when you get nothing done except hold your babies because they aren't content anywhere else.  

I could go on and on about this book.  Honestly.  

I have to share a part in the forward the sucked me in.  It made me know this book was for me.  Because she was not just stepping on my toes, she was  about this:
"I don't pull punches or hold back in this book, because I am writing to myself as much as to you.  I know that as mothers we face very similar temptations, and we have a unique opportunity to sympathize with each other over those challenges.  We have a common bond.  We are the sisterhood of the people who know about long days.  That is true.  But the fact that we all face the same temptations should give us a burning desire to conquer them, not to wallow in them.  I write hardhitting things to myself, because I want to grow in grace.  And I'm sharing them with you in the hopes that they will strengthen your faith and encourage you to mother in a way that honors Christ."

Okay, for real.  Go buy the book.  Like, now.  Download it on your iPad or your Kindle (I had to download the Kindle app on my iPad because it's not offered through iBooks - I know the Nook App has it too but you have to search the whole title - including the subtitle - not just "Fit To Burst").

But, in case you're still not sold (is that possible, really?) here are a few of my other highlights in the book.  And I say a few because if I were to give you all of my highlights it would probably equal two-thirds of the book.  And I don't think Rachel would be super appreciative of me typing almost her entire book out on my blog.

"The more we are steeped in the language of the Bible, the more we will recognize when things from the world are slipping in"
"Motherhood is not just a job, it is an identity. More importantly, it is an identity that begins and ends with giving."
"Christ's life given up for others is the centerpiece of our faith.  Our lives given up for others is the centerpiece of our faithfulness."
"It is about growing in Christ in the mundane.  It is about seeing the gospel in the work you are doing.  It is about joy and faith and laughter beyond the sacrifice."
"They should see us laboring hard to make a beautiful life for them while not losing sight of them in it." 
"We should not be correcting our children in the interest of making our lives easier (although it almost certainly will).  Correct them in the interest of making their lives richer." 
"Christian women who seek to honor God as they work through the mundane, repetitive tasks that are given to them will be used for bigger things." 
"Cheerfully embracing the mundane work in your life, diving into the challenges, working harder than you would think we possible at the little, at the trivial, at the boring - these are all ways to say, 'Use me Lord; I am your servant." 
"If we want to be doing things like this for our kids (she's referring to all the dreams we have of what being a mom will look like - craft days and fort building are two of mine), we need to be doing them.  The time is now.  We need to be now who we want to be then.  The future is happening right now." 
"It is a mother's job to communicate the love that the father has towards his children...When we take the work that our husband does and turn it into fellowship around the table, he is able to enjoy both the fruit of his work and the enjoyment of his love.  He provided for us, and we are rejoicing in that." 
"Honor and respect him specifically as you raise your children, because having a right relationship to the father of your children is one of the greatest gifts that you can give your children." 
On cooking:  "It is a very simple way for me to dig my hands into blessing my family in a super-tangible way...Preparing and serving food isn't just one of the most repetitive jobs that we have, it is also one of the most powerful." 
"There is a way to use your faith to strengthen theirs, and there is a way to use your faith to weaken theirs.  Our faith should be a shield to protect our children's faith." 
"We have nothing to fear in the opinion of others if we are right with God."

Okay, go buy it!  And come back and tell me how awesome it is when you finish it on Friday :)

Friday, March 1, 2013

project 52.41


This whole being a mom thing has totally turned me into a ball of emotions.  
It has been such a beautiful process.  So difficult to put into words.

And, although so much else has and will continue to define me, mother will forever be my favorite part of who I am.  The two of you have created a new person in me.  I see things differently.  Process things differently.  Feel things differently.  

More deeper.  More passionately.  More fully.

I looked at the two of you in your daddy's lap last night, as we read a bible story, and I was taken aback by this overwhelming emotion.  This is my life.  You three have my heart.  And I am so eternally grateful for this opportunity.  This blessing.  To be your mother. 

I'm afraid I will be mushy from now on out.  But it is worth every second of being mushy to know that I can feel like this.  And that I can love like this.

Thank you for this gift.