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Be the Change, Fulfill Your Purpose

“The most important work you’ll ever do will be within the walls of your own home.”

I hand wrote this exact quote on the back of our front door.  I’ve had it swirling around in my mind for two years and wasn’t quite sure where I wanted to put it.

I knew we needed it front and center and chose a place where I would see it often, because although it’s not scriptural it is Biblical.

I truly believe this quote doesn’t just pertain to those of us with children, but really anyone living with another human being in a “home”.  If you come into contact with someone daily, you have the ability to impact them.  Doesn’t matter if you are the grandparent raising a grandchild, siblings growing up together, the only child of a single parent or someones roommate.

Even if you live alone you can still make an impact.

You can make a difference in at least one person’s life each and every day.

You see, I have battled with what my purpose is on this earth. I think everyone has at some point.  You can really pinball around this life until you “figure it out”. If you ever get the chance to do so, sadly. A lot of people struggle with whether or not they are using their degree, got the right degree, fulfilling a purpose, making enough money so they can help more people.  None of this really matters if you are missing the mark of your ultimate purpose.  You could have your dream job, making a decent living and be thriving all-around.  If we are not regarding our fellow humans we are greatly missing the mark.

I think in the grand scheme of things we forget just how important our real relationships are sometimes.

The good news is that The Good News is a picture of your purpose.  Even if you can’t figure out what major to choose or whether the job you’re currently at is a final destination, you can still live with purpose.

If you’re not sure what The Good News/Gospel is then check out this quick spoken word video by Propaganda.

When you get to know Jesus you don’t have to really figure anything out because He guides you along the narrow path. He is the one that shows you what your purpose is, where it is and WHO it is because He created you specifically for it. He gave you the very life and breath you have to accomplish the tasks before you. This is crucial to remember as too often distractions come along tempting us to detour off course.

And those distractions come knocking on our door every day, oftentimes cloaked in a pretty disguise.

Money, opportunity, more influence, fun, fame, accolades, material things, the deceiving darkness.

Pilgrim’s Progress paints this picture so clearly for us. As we walk through life’s valleys and mountaintops barely making it through another day, we just need to keep our eyes above the storms around us on the One who holds it all together.

I still have days where I struggle with what my ultimate “job” is.  I love being a teacher….it’s really the best job in the world and I’m always so glad I chose that as my profession.  But, each placement I’ve been in has had it’s struggles and stress.  I have still always battled this feeling that I’m on a continual journey, moving along toward something else.  Something better. Something different. Something easier. Something even more impactful. Something…

I often have such a desire to do more than just teach in a classroom or work with young children one-on-one.

Being able to use my creative abilities to make and do and build and write and draw and letter and mentor and help….brings me joy and life.

Am I always just going to be a ____________ (fill-in-the-blank)? And is that my ultimate purpose? My influence is significant, but is this it? Will I do anything else? What if I don’t want to ______________? What if I’m done with that for right now? Do I have to use my degree just because I have it? Can I use my degree for something else or should I abandon it altogether? What about changing my mind or going down a completely different path? What else is there?

This thought process can start to feel like we’re spinning on the merry go round of confusing life questions.

It’s funny how when you trust, obey and submit to God’s economy He just works everything out for His good. And as I forged on in my different teaching placements I began to realize that I might not even see the effects of the positive influence I was having on my kiddos lives as they grew and moved on. In the depths of my heart I knew that God placed me with them for a reason and a season. And that He could use that influence in ways I could never even begin to fathom.

Our ultimate purpose? It’s to share the good news with those we come into contact with every day.  Spread the love that Jesus so freely offers and the transforming, healing, powerful mercy He extends.

Through that we have an opportunity to be His hands and His feet. Being quick to listen and slow to speak (James 1:19).

Sometimes I hear people mumbling about not having a big enough influence. Not having the following they need to make an impact. Being heard by only a few each day. Pining for more  of a “following” just to say they have “x” amount of followers.

Worse – not feeling important, worthy, seen or valued.  Feeling invisible. Being bullied. Ostracized. Deceived. Depressed. Alone.

All of this pain might stem from you growing up in a broken home or a situation that scarred you so deeply…trauma that has left you damaged, bruised and betrayed.  The wounds that have been left behind will not heal without the deep love of Jesus.  He is the only answer for all of it. Alcoholism, mental illness, depression, anxiety, addiction, abuse, trauma…He took all of it upon Himself on the cross so that you and I could lay each burden we face back down at His feet.

But, Jesus!

God created you on purpose for a purpose. You have extreme value to Him, because He knit you together Himself. He knows the hairs on your head and every single thing you struggle with.  His love is so deep and so wide for you that He sent His one and only son, Jesus, to die so that you and I could live.

Such a reckless, redeeming love.

Do you know just how important you are? How about the significance of your “tiny” influence? Do you realize that impacting just one life in a positive way is incredibly powerful?

Your influence was strategically designed.

Not everyone is meant to be Fred Rogers for a reason. Take a step back and think about the mother who raised him….how much power and influence did she have? I’d say just as much as Fred Rogers himself. Except she was in the background. As she was raising that little boy she probably had some really hard days, but she pressed onward to raise a son who was kind, loving, disciplined & strong in his beliefs. What a legacy she left behind.

That’s powerful stuff.

Your sphere of influence is right in front of you. If you want to see more of something in the world, then be it and exemplify it. Even if especially if you didn’t have it growing up and you don’t see it around you. The world needs more goodness, kindness and love.

The world just needs Jesus.  Desperate times call for desperate measures and his name is Jesus.

We might not reap the rewards of our influence in our lifetime and that’s ok..it’s not about us anyway.  Be kind so kindness grows, do something nice for someone so it spreads, be gentle during chaos, seek joy amidst the storm, love in spite of shortcomings, serve one another, be the iron that sharpens your brother or sister in Christ. We shouldn’t do these things so that we get accolades or praise, although those are nice, but we do it all to fulfill our purpose in Christ.

If you’re a teacher it’s the children in your classroom.  If you’re a doctor it’s your patients and their families. If you’re a waitress it’s your customers. If you’re a hairdresser it’s your clients.  If you’re a police officer it’s the people you are saving, arresting, and monitoring. If you’re a coach it’s your team.  If you’re a leader it’s your team members.  If you’re a husband it’s your wife. If you’re a wife it’s your husband.

And if you’re a parent it’s your children.

As a parent…your main, most important influence is your children. What we sow in our homes we will reap [Proverbs 11:18, 2 Corinthians 9:6, Galatians 6:9].

This is so profound to me.  So profound that it makes me emotional.  There are many children right now desperate for love, a hug, a kind word, structure and discipline.  Desperate to hear that they mean something, that their life has value and that they are important. Desperate to have people step in and take away the technology. Desperate for real conversation. Desperate to be shown how to seek God in this crazy life.

Desperate for someone to model and exemplify what is being required of them.

Every popular icon and infamous person had some semblance of a family unit. The difference between a psychopath and a solid member of society stems all the way back to their upbringing. The early years of their childhood so impactful, it was part of what shaped them into the person they became.

Turns out children really just need stable, loving, present adults in their life who will guide & discipline them. Find the balance between grace and law, enabling and averting, being too liberal or too authoritarian.

If you’re a parent your work starts in your home.  Your influence is the little people who need so much of you and that impact can have a tremendous ripple effect. Either positive or negative.

Your home can be a haven or hell.

Let’s bring heaven into our homes.

Children need to have important conversations at home FIRST before they ever hear a buzz about it on the bus. They need to have a safe space for open communication and questions.  They need to know that home is a place where they can bring up hard topics and that their parents won’t shy away from that. If they don’t talk about it with you they will find some other avenue to learn about it. Their must be mutual respect.  If you as the parent made a mistake that they are aware of…own up to it and ask for forgiveness.  And then when it’s their turn to do the same they know what that looks like.

Just because we are the “adults” doesn’t mean we have everything figured out.  Quite the opposite. I know I have to rely on Jesus for everything and I get my example from Him.  Behavior makes so much more sense when you see it modeled successfully.

Be the place they can run to when they are confused and back everything you say up with scripture.

Children also need to be let go after they are trained.  They need to know that you trust them to make good choices and if they don’t – they need to feel comfortable enough to come home and discuss the real heart issues of the matter. Get to the bottom of the decision.  Talk about the mess.  Figure out the why.

Tenderly lead their heart to Jesus.

There’s a whole web of reasons as to why a person chooses to do something. Get to the heart of the matter.  A great book that will guide you on this is Shepherding a Child’s Heart.  This book gave me a whole new perspective on my relationship with my son.  Other good ones: Parenting with Love & Logic and The Five Love Languages for Kids. I could go on and on here about great books to read in regards to rearing the children in front of us.  Settle on one, read it and apply it.  Give it some time and really dig deep.  You might even have to get out of your own comfort zone.

Scripture is clear about how to train up a child and how to live a life for God.  Proverbs is insanely packed with wisdom.  It can be quite uncomfortable to read with them if it’s something you need to work on too. That’s good…it means that you are being convicted and you are allowing God to grip your heart. To clean out those dirty crevices that have gotten filled with junk.  Make it a family goal to work on that one Proverb that is intimidating, taunting and tugging at your hearts.

I can’t wait to delve into Proverbs with my son.  I know that God will reveal things for me to teach him, but I also know that I will continue to learn so much as well.

Shut down the social media stuff.  Quit comparing your skills to others and look at those precious children God placed in your life.

Get back to the basics of focusing on your child as a whole.  Love them but don’t forget to discipline them.  Do kind things for them but don’t forget to teach them responsibility.  Fight for them but don’t enable them.  Guard them but don’t over shelter them.

You don’t need to have a Facebook, instagram, twitter or snapchat to reach and teach people.  You just have to start with your sphere.  Your circle. The people around you. The ones that have been entrusted to you.

Be kind.

Be gentle.

Be patient.

Be merciful.

Be forgiving.

Be humble.

Be loving.

Be peaceful.

Be stable.

Be faithful.

Be sincere.

Be a listener.

Be an advocate.

Be joyful.

Be good.

Be present.

Have self-control.

Display, model and talk about these things.  Walk the walk first.  It’s not enough to demand a child obey a command you can’t follow through with yourself.  Pray for wisdom, grace and give it all over to God.  He designed the family unit, and although everything in our culture is tearing at the seams of that, Jesus can and will hold it altogether.

A cord of three strands is not easily broken.  Jesus must be at the center of a family unit in order for it to thrive…not just survive.  Storms, trials, traumas, despair are all inevitable but we can somehow still have joy knowing that Jesus is above all.

Get excited about the influence you have today! If it’s not going well continue to pray for healing and submission; obedience and return.  Pray hard for your prodigal & your own heart too.  The Lord is working behind the scenes. He’s fighting the battles we can’t and carrying the burdens that are too heavy for us to bear.  Put on the full armor of God.  Press in to Him today and watch what He can do.

Your influence is so powerful.  And it all begins in your home. So go ahead, be the change you wish to see in the world and watch how far your ripple goes.

Be well,

Name

 

Vintage Outfit Inspiration & 5 Ways to Find Unique Clothing

// This post may contain affiliate links. This simply means that I could receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you choose to make any purchase using my links. //

Check out the end of this post for some fun Amazon clothing finds! 

I am the type of person who analyzes, in a fun way, a television show’s every angle (movies too).  Part of what makes me love a show is not just the humor, depth or acting but also the sense of design, styles worn and the era.  This is partly why I also tend to love a good period drama, one that showcases the outfits and culture of the time.

Both design and style could be considered characters in their own right, think: Stranger Things (the nostalgia that the show creates with the atmosphere, outfits and music alone goes into its own category), Parenthood (that outdoor eating area is just incredible and flows so well with the nature of the family), or Timeless (the characters have to dress to fit the era they are time-warping to…so fun).

Home decor, character’s styles, the chosen music, and the acting all need to flow in order for something to be considered successful, a “hit” or go on to be top pop culture.  This is why design/wardrobe gets it’s own category at award’s shows and why people ooh and aah over what stars are wearing.  It’s also part of the reason why influencers become so popular.  Everyone wants to look effortless and put together and some people will spend whatever it takes to get there.

When it comes to a lot of things I have always marched to the beat of my own drum, but especially with clothing.  I have tried to “jump on the bandwagon” a few times to only go spinning around in a circle hating life.   I don’t wear things because other people tell me to, I never have.  When I scroll through Instagram I admire the fashion and even envy it at times (really, how do some of these moms always look so put together?), but I tend to choose clothing that speaks to me, is comfortable and flatters me.

Of course I want #allthethings but will more clothes really make me happy? That’s a big, fat NO.  By the grace of God I have gotten so much better at NOT letting comparison steal my joy.  It’s a bitter, unhappy place.  Thank God I have allowed those chains to be broken in me. But, those feelings can start to creep in ever so slightly if I’m not careful.  And you know what, it’s a very sneaky process.

It’s judging a person based on what they are wearing…”how is she even able to afford all of those nice clothes”?

It’s looking at someone via social media and thinking, “if only I had what SHE has, then I’d be happy too”.

It’s watching someone else’s life unfold letting bitterness rot your heart because you aren’t where they are…even though you don’t know her backstory or the trials she has faced in her own life.

It’s thinking that more stuff will make you truly happy and fill you up…if only I could buy that cute ______ that they have.

No.

Those are all lies, even though some of them might be “true” for you in this moment.  Change your perspective. Instead of looking out look up.  And when you do look out, look for someone in need. Give of your time, don’t hoard more stuff. Fill your life with lovely things. Pure things. Things that can actually fill you up and give you JOY in the journey.  Clothes and decor aren’t going to do that, friend.  Jesus will though! He’s a friend that sticks closer than a brother. He loves you, created you & designed you to be you! He didn’t design you to compare yourself to someone else!

I could imagine how much God enjoyed decorating the earth and skies as he created everything, so enjoy the process of finding clothing you love that fits you well and makes you feel good! But don’t you dare think that because you aren’t a certain size or “envied” shape you aren’t worthy.  Lies.  You have a beautiful shape no matter WHAT it is.

I am no expert on style (like I will mention in most of my posts), but I am an expert on being comfortable in your own skin. You’re unique, valuable and have certain assets that others would kill for so OWN IT.  Instead of ragging on the parts of your body you hate, accentuate the ones you like and go out confidently into the world!

We all have cellulite. Jiggly body parts. Crinkled skin. Birthmarks. Bad breath. We all get bed head and have times where we just don’t feel good about ourselves. Look at yourself the way Jesus sees you…beloved, cherished, wanted. He was excited to form every part of you so get excited about dressing for your unique shape.

I recently found out that my shape is a rectangle. So I scoured pinterest a bit to see what fits my shape best!  There are some styles that stand the test of time, every era, and all shapes and happen to look good on me! Yay! Other things I found out…not so much.  Once you learn what you like and what would enhance your body shape you can choose accordingly! Have fun with it!

My style is all over the place really because I like a whole lot of different pieces, looks, colors and textures.  As much as my eyes love to look at those feeds that are neutral and the woman behind it wears the same muted colors all of the time, that’s just not me.  I like that, but I can’t live that way.  So I tend to choose items that catch my eye, not because they’re popular but because I like them.  They’re from different eras, they have different colors, and they are definitely not always “style envy” or top fashion. Find what works for you. If you like it and can afford it then…

You do you, boo!

Where Should I shop?

  1. Thrift it!!! Some of my favorite finds have been thrifted.  You have to have the time to look and if you do there are some pieces of *treasure* to be found: dresses, tops, bottoms and even home decor. Just bring your items home, wash them and you’re good to go! A one-of-a kind stand-out piece at a hugely discounted price! Yaaaaas, girl.
  2. Do a Clothing swap! These are so fun and I have been able to take part in a few with friends.  Instead of giving away your unwanted clothes everyone brings their bag of stuff to a friends and you all lay everything out.  Even if you are different sizes there’s a chance that their old stuff might fit you or your old stuff might fit them! It’s fun to sift through, try on and take home a few “new” pieces. Whatever doesn’t get taken can be donated. On Long Island, Lighthouse Mission will gladly take any of your unwanted, gently used clothing to give out to those in need. Churches are also a great drop-spot for clothing!!
  3. Use an App! Apps like Poshmark and ThredUp are awesome because they are basically thrift stores online.  I love browsing for things I need or am looking for.  You plug in your sizes and they will show you people selling items in your range! I have purchased a few things through this site and was happy with what I received! Sign up with my code and get $5 toward your first purchase: ADINOZZI
  4. Hand-me downs!  When I was younger my cool, stylish older cousin was always getting rid of her unwanted items. She shopped at places that I never did and I was always so happy to un-bag her fancy items!  Each bag felt like Christmas to me!  I still have a pair of old Gap jeans she gave me and a few other pieces.  You could easily set this up with a family member or friend who is around your size and trade pieces.  Any time they go through their closets tell them to let you know so you can browse the items!
  5. Vintage Shops: ModCloth, Asos, Etsy, Instagram, Forever 21, H&M etc. are great places to find unique clothing items! I have shopped most of these places at least once and have never been disappointed. Years ago I got a really unique coat from H&M that was so well-made and so reasonably priced, it lasted forever (I still have it, just doesn’t fit right anymore – still thinking of a way to upcycle it). That coat got so many compliments and it was a fraction of the cost if I’d have found it elsewhere!

Bonus Inspo Tip: *One of my many “homesteading goals” is to get a sewing machine and create my own items (pillowcases, chair pads, shirts, table runners, skirts, etc.). If you are already a pro at using a sewing machine then please send your tips my way haha, but in all seriousness use that sewing machine girl and go make yo self some cool clothes when you can!  You can purchase fun prints and patterns on sale at places like Jo’Ann Fabrics! So many cute options!

Some of My Favorite Style Icons from TV:

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Karen Page – Daredevil
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Erin – The Office
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Lucy – Timeless
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Trixie & Jenny Lee – Call the Midwife
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Jess – New Girl
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Jess again because I love everything she wears!
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Rachel Zayne – Suits
Hart-of-Dixie
Zoe Hart – Hart of Dixie
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Zoe
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Lemon Breeland – Hart of Dixie
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Lemon
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Lemon
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AnnaBeth Nass – Hart of Dixie
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Topanga – Boy Meets World
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Topanga
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Marcia Brady – The Brady Bunch
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Jane – Jane the Virgin
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Jane
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Lucille Ball – I Love Lucy
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The Crawley Sisters – Downton Abbey

I’m sure you are seeing a pattern in what I like.  I LOVE that vintage/retro, girlie look.  There really is nothing like a structured, feminine dress or pretty shirt and skirt! Layers are also key.  I also really like the bohemian, loose/flowy look and feel most comfortable in pieces like that! When I don’t feel 100% great in something I like to have a sweater or throw over me.  Accessories can also be so fun to enhance a look: scarves, headbands, earrings, bracelets, hair clips, a bold lip!

Fun Affordable Finds on Amazon:

*Click on the pictures below to purchase/browse!

  1. Grace Karin Boatneck Sleevles Vintage Tea Dress

2.  Laksmi Elegant Dress – Casual A-Line

3. Vintage Collared Pleated Button Down Shirt

4.  Vintage A-Line Pleated Flare Skirt with Pockets

5. Kimono Floral Cover-up

6. Milumia Button Up Floral Flowy Dress

7.  Sarin Matthews Off Shoulder High-Low Dress

8.  Floerns Embroidered Ruffle Baby Doll Shirt

9.  Satinato Straight Pants Stretch Trousers

10. ZXZY Long Sleeve V Neck Hollow Out Floral Print

11. Afibi Full/Ankle Blending Maxi Chiffon Skirt

This list could go on and on as Amazon has upped their clothing game. I have found quite a few inexpensive pieces on there that I love and get compliments on all the time! When purchasing from Amazon – watch for the amount of reviews and what the customers are actually saying about your item. I find that sometimes your purchase comes from China and aren’t as close to what you thought you were purchasing.

On a typical day I can be seen in some form of a comfy outfit that will benefit chasing and playing with a toddler. Mama needs to be able to move and deal with messes!  But when it’s time to head out I do like to dress up.  My two favorites, out of all these TV characters, are probably Jess from New Girl & Erin from The Office.  Their outfits fit their quirky personalities and they bring so much color and life to each show. Also, Lucy from Timeless gets to dress up based on each era she visits – how fun does that sound??

At the end of the day – dress how you want & wear what you love. Don’t worry about being “on trend” as stuff always comes back in style.  If you find something that speaks to you and fits you well…wear it! Don’t forget that there are possible ways to have a style and stay in budget! Stop in a thrift store and browse..I promise it’s so fun!

Most importantly…stay true to you and don’t let someone make you feel bad for liking a certain piece, outfit or style that’s not on trend! Own it girl!

Be well,

Name

Hanging a Gallery Wall & Enjoying your Space Over Time

// Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. This simply means that I could receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase using my link. // 

Gallery walls are beautiful. Each one is always unique to the family that put it up. I love scouring Pinterest and Instagram to see what other people have done.

My personality is very eclectic and I like a lot of different styles and ways to do things.  This can be a good and bad thing in my opinion. Sometimes it keeps me from completing a task because I just can’t settle [#toomanyoptions].

I follow a wide array of design people on instagram.  I love to look at the neutral, whites of the farmhouse trend and I admire every feed I come across in that style. It just doesn’t typically fit my personality or design style. My favorite feeds mix textures and colors, and always have pops of color! I lean more toward a love of mid-century modern, with vintage flare, and some must haves: pops of color and that homey, cozy cottage feel!

Can I tell you…I do not land in one design style. I have taken 1,000 quizzes and can never, ever settle on one.  And can I also tell you that if you feel the same way…that’s OK! Phew. Just had to get that off my chest. Haha! Mix styles and colors. Textures and patterns. Create a home you love and enjoy! And just be OK with that! Is your style changing because you jumped on a trend you now hate….cool, go with it!  Slowly change out things over time and if you can paint it to get your desired effect then do that!

That’s the way I often approach “designing” my home and it makes me happy!  This leads me to choosing and setting up my own gallery walls in my home.

Sometimes I look at my gallery wall and think…Oh I love it just as is. Other times, I see the way someone else put up theirs and think…Man, why didn’t I do it that way?

At the end of the day I choose things I love, and sometimes get inspiration from others too.  Mixing and blending styles and keeping my own likes in mind is important to me.

There are a few “rules” when starting a gallery wall. Just kidding, I am not going to give you any rules.  Because you need to put up what you love – things that inspire you or have significant meaning.

  • My biggest suggestion….measure out the space on the wall where you want it to sit, tape those measurements down on the floor and lay out your pieces to see how it comes together naturally. This might mean shifting things around multiple times until you like the layout. Square, off-centered, eclectic, tight, loose etc. Take a picture each time you change it up and look back at them. This helps A LOT!
  • My other piece of advice…decide beforehand whether or not you want to leave dead space to add items over time (new children’s pictures, new items you find on your travels, etc.) OR fit your pieces tightly together without any dead space.
  • You can, after you have your layout set, cut the size of the frames/objects out of tissue or kraft paper (even cut up paper bags, thanks Trader Joes!) and tape them to the walls with painter’s tape or masking tape. This will help you visualize the layout you’re going for on the wall.  I always get too excited and just forgo this step altogether. 🙂

We accumulated the items for our gallery wall over 5 years. A house well loved doesn’t just happen over night. It’s important to remember that good things take time. And the same goes for loving on your home.

Enjoy the process! It can be fun and therapeutic if you allow it to be.

If you’re first moving into a home….please don’t fret about the simple, or even big, things you can do over time!

We have lived in our current house for just about two years and are only now getting around to doing small changes that we hadn’t even thought about originally.  Granted we moved into a flipped house – which surprisingly has its cons as well! “Flips” are not our favorite choice and we would have definitely gone with a house that had more character and space, but we were so thankful to get into our home right before the birth of our son. We also appreciated that it was move in ready!!

As you live in a space you start to realize what doesn’t work for you, what really bothers you and what you need to add to the list of things to ‘get done ASAP’ or the other list of “get done down the road”.

This is life, and it’s normal for everyone. I would suggest not going into debt or racking up your bills just to get your house to look ‘Pinterest Perfect’.  If you’re like me, you probably have parents who lived in conditions they hated so they could still live and not be tied down to the bills of their home.  It took my parents years to re-do their kitchen the way they wanted it. They made upgrades to their home little by little. And my mom got to stay home with us. Those trade-offs are priceless.

I would highly suggest to go thrifting or search sites like Facebook marketplace (I am on here almost every day scouring just for fun)!  My saved list has a ton of great finds! It’s a thrill and a lot of times you can find beautiful pieces for your home at a fraction of the price. It’s also fun to imagine a new way to update an old piece.

You know what they say…one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.  This has been true for me! Sometimes you just need fresh eyes to see the potential in a piece, even a worn-out, dirty one. And if you have the time to tackle an older piece that just needs some TLC…do it!

I typically avoid expensive stores at all cost.  It just doesn’t fit our budget right now and I’d rather my space serve me than the other way around. Places like Pier 1, Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware and Anthropologie are stores I have always enjoyed browsing on the internet. But if I look for too long I start to want #allthethings that we just can’t afford.  So, I let it be, close down the browser and find another way to get excited about a space I’m trying to finish.

Feeling overwhelmed about completing or loving on a space and wanting #allthethings?

Make a list! Especially if you feel scatterbrained! What’s most important at the moment and what are “filler items”? Do you need a new table to sit at for dinner…purchase that before you go for fancy wall art, cute throws or even a rug.  Do you desperately need new bedding? Then scour sites for sales. Do you want to redo your floors but don’t have the money right now? Get a large throw rug to cover the spot!

There are solutions for everything. And everyone can be successful at loving on their home while staying in budget!

Do what you can, when you can! Most of the time people have enough items to make even a small gallery wall.  Pool all of your stuff together, look at it and lay it down so that you can see what works and what doesn’t.  Your eye will help you. If something looks off it probably is.  You might need to balance out the color with another object of similar hue, paint it or take it out altogether.  If you have a thought like, “Oh, I know the perfect thing that would work in that empty spot” (an arrow, animal head or odd piece), write it down on a central list in your house.

Here are three of our gallery walls with more tips:

  1. This gallery wall was tricky to put up because I wanted to start with a perfect square and then I filled in the dead space with smaller items.

Gallery Wall Blog

  • I measured out exactly the space I wanted the large square to sit (how high and how wide) based off of my eye.  To center it, I measured the distance in between the window to the right and the hutch to the left. I used a tape measure to do that and my hubby helped.
  • I then put clear tape where I wanted the permitter corners to be on the wall.
  • Then I measured it all up again and made sure the tape on the ground was the same distances (I believe this was about 72 inches all the way around)
  • I moved the frames around on the floor until I found my desired layout, then I took a picture so I could reference back.
  • We started with the right column first, top corner down. I eyed the smaller pieces in the middle and made sure those corner frames were where I wanted them.
  • We then moved across to the left column to anchor the large square.  This was the tricky part.
  • We then put the top row up. Again, eyeing the middle pieces.
  • To make sure each piece was level I taped the leveler to them.
  • To make sure the outside frames were inside my “imaginary square lines” we did use a laser level similar to this one. It suctions to the wall and you can easily line up your stuff to the red laser. I will say it did help a ton!

2. This gallery wall in our basement is much more forgiving because it’s off center to the TV [which is to the left on a white, distressed stand].  I also left dead space down here to add to as time goes on. And I noticed that I have a pinwheel decoration missing too…hey, where did that go? LOL

Gallery Wall Blog_2

  • Each piece has significant meaning to our family.  I’m a big proponent to use what you love.  The large silver frame has mine & my husband’s wedding song lyrics that I typed up. I added our initials and a heart with our wedding date on the left side of the white insert.
  • The ‘Our Family’ sign my mom purchased for us as a gift.
  • I created the large white shiplap sign you see. I purchased it from Michael’s and painted in gold the lyrics to one of my favorite hymns. I then glued the ombre mint flowers down the side.
  • The gold D was SO simple.  I used a gold frame I already had from my baby shower, put in a piece of flower card stock and stuck the large gold D sticker on top. **The large packs of card stock I use for everything. They make great banners, card details, decorations and fillers! 
  • The ‘Families are Forever’ plaque I also hand wrote using chalk markers (these can start to fray on wood so use carefully). I also have used the Elmer’s Paint Markers successfully and really like them on a wood sign. I then hot glued some cute clothespins I had in my craft stash to use as picture holders.  To get a long cascading picture look I taped 4 pictures onto metal wire sticks.

 

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Gallery Wall Sign
Created by me: Writing on the Wall Custom Designs! Click this picture to connect with me on FB & message me for something similar!

3. This is the main gallery wall in my son’s room. He also has two more beautiful framed pieces up on other walls and another picture of him as a newborn.

Gallery Wall Blog_3

  • This one is set up more horizontally than the others.  It’s simple, but sweet and can also be added to or changed over time.
  • The key is to enhance the main colors of the room.  I have brought in that mint color, as well as the navy into key elements of his room to draw the eye to certain spots and make it all cohesive.
  • The large B I bought at Hobby Lobby and painted navy. It’s cardboard and hollow and was super cheap but looks so great in the space.
  • The sign with the song from ‘Love Your Forever’ I handwrote myself on a blank, thin canvas.  These are great to have lying around because you can always use them for different ideas around the house.
    • A good idea: Having your toddler color/paint their own picture on a canvas or thick card stock paper, using colors that match their room or a different room of the house, and hanging it up as art to display ❤
  • The sonograms I taped to cardstock and inserted into a frame.

4. I wanted to show you this part of my son’s room because it showcases how you can use shelves to also create a gallery effect. This is popular for people who don’t want too many holes in the wall and who also enjoy changing out pieces.

Gallery Wall Blog_4

  • Depending on the weight that your shelves can hold, you can add as much as you’d like!
  • I like to mix colors, objects and textures to create a landscape.
  • Again, sticking with similar colors that are already in the room to maintain cohesiveness.
  • I also turned another blank, white canvas into a piece of art I saw online and loved.  The quote comes from ‘Where the Wild Things Are’.

To Hang Pictures Up & Leave Minimal Damage:

  1. We like to use Monkey Hooks, also called Hercules Hooks
    • These are great for heavy items and also keep holes tiny!
  2. A huge favorite of ours: Command strips
    • These come off really well (when removed properly) and the cool thing is you can move items, that are similar in size, around because they are attached via velcro!
  3. Another great option to always have on hand: Picture hanging kit
    • I love having something like this on hand at all times because I am always looking to move things around or hang stuff up and my kit like this has everything I could possibly need!

All three of these leave behind minimal damage to the wall and are easy to use.  The hercules hooks and nails will obviously leave small holes if you decide not to use that spot anymore.  You can fill in the space with soap by rubbing it over the spot, or even toothpaste works.  It should disappear to the eye. If you have a dark colored wall you will want to tap the soap with a colored marker to match. You could just do the old spackle and paint touch up too! : )

Thanks for reading my post! I’m no expert by any means but I do enjoy giving out tips that have helped us!  I hope you get to hanging your pictures up and cozying up your home even further! Personal touches really add to the welcome factor of a home.

**If you’re having trouble with your layout, feel free to send me a a picture of it to my email: lovinthesimplelife1@gmail.com. I will gladly give you any insights I can!

Be well,

Name

 

 

 

 

 

5 Clean Products You Can Make Yourself & Some Simple Switch-Outs

// Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. This simply means that I receive a small commission, at no cost to you, when you make a purchase using my link. // 

Like everything else these days, beauty products are getting more expensive. Women typically use a lot of products daily: skincare products, deodorant, sunscreen, makeup, hair products, toothpaste etc.  It all racks up quickly when you total it.

The thing is, women consider most of the items they use necessities. I love a simplified life, but I also like to look nice too.

But here’s a scary statistic circling the internet that you might’ve heard: Women apply approximately 168 chemicals on their bodies daily, most of it all before breakfast.

Thankfully there’s been a lot of buzz about what’s actually in our products and WHY it’s important to look into ingredients.  In general, concerned people are getting the word out that there are better alternatives for the things we use every day.

Sites like SafeMama.com, WellnessMama.com and a few others have given me some of the tools and knowledge I need to make smarter, more informed choices. It wasn’t until after I gave birth to my son that I went into full-on mama bear mode and did a lot of research about the products I was going to be putting on him. This had a positive ripple effect which lead me to research other products I had been using.

// I have fortunately already been using great products to clean & disinfect with as smells have always irritated me. Synthetic smells (i.e. plug-in air fresheners, candles, harsh cleaners with a scent, etc.) all bother me terribly…so much so that I will get a headache within minutes of them being turned on or used.  Yuck! //

This reaction in my own body leads me to contemplate why so many people (women in particular) struggle with serious health issues. Autoimmune diseases, infertility, cancer, endocrine issues, foggy brain, fatigue of all kinds, etc. For some people there are definite correlations between what they put on and in their bodies and how their bodies react to those things.

The sad reality is that most people just buy what’s convenient to them and, at times, “cheapest”, although most products are WAY overpriced any way. And the “cheapest” items out there are full of fillers & chemicals. Ick!

The overpriced dilemma in women’s products, partly has to do with this thing called ‘The Pink Tax”. It might be a new term for you but it’s basically the fact that mega companies know that women are the largest majority of consumers in the market and so they drastically hike up prices of women’s items solely because they know the pretty attributes are going to attract their eye (pink, pretty packaging, fancy fonts). Crazy, right?

Seriously, let’s chat about shaving cream for a second.  If you compare, let’s say, the pretty Skintimate container to the “manly” Barbasol one guess how much the difference in price is: 4.37 compared to 1.29 and they do the SAME exact thing.  Insane!

And when you start to do the math and research, like me, you stumble across the fact that you really are only presented with an illusion of choice. Just take a look at this infographic displaying the 10 major companies monopolizing the food and beauty industries (this hasn’t been updated recently & some changes have since taken place, ex. buy-outs):

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Does this seem like you have much of a choice when you are purchasing products at grocery giants? Also, most of these companies bombard the media with their commercials & ads. They pay big bucks to get big representation (Super Bowl, Mass Media) and nobody is ever checking in on what goes behind the scenes.  They all just see dollar signs.

Not trying to be a conspiracy theorist here, or maybe I am? However, there is a lot of corruption high up in some of these companies.  They lose sight of the fact that certain ingredients are harming their demographic. But if they keep making the money why do things really need to change?  As much as they claim to have the customer in mind, a lot of times they don’t…it’s really just a ploy to tug at your “human-ness”.

Part of my heart behind this post is that I want more people to become smarter consumers.

The best example I can give of this supply and demand phenomenon are puppy mills.  Oprah blew the roof off of that despicable industry years ago, but people are STILL purchasing puppies from the store in the mall, or the puppy place down the block that has 8 puppies stuffed in a clear box.  If you don’t purchase from them, they won’t stay open.

The other option that people often want to partake in can be a hard reality. Most families are not made of money.  Some of the companies that make wholesome, organic products that are reputable charge a small fortune (rightfully so, because they’re growing, sourcing and using pure-grade items NOT junk).

Here-in lies the dilemma, but it doesn’t always have to be!

Do some research.

One of my favorite apps is Think Dirty. I don’t use it all the time, but I whip it out when purchasing new products, especially for my son. It’s important to me to check on the ingredients in that item and what those ingredients may disrupt or affect. They rate each item in their database on a scale from 1 – 10. Another good source is EWG Skin Deep which is another go-to of mine to keep informed about all of the toxins that we come across daily, and not just in beauty products. These 2 sources aren’t the be all, end all for purchasing something but they get you processing what actually is in all of our stuff. And they break it down in a way that is easy to understand.

At the end of the day, you know your families issues, what bothers you and what might be a problem area for you. If you’re concerned about something…look into it! Getting a lot of headaches? Look into your fragrances or cleaning products! Baby has a never-ending rash? Look into your detergent or their diaper cream!  Need to purify your stale air? Look into purchasing a natural air-purifying plant!

If you’re overwhelmed, start by looking through your cabinets and figuring out what would be most important to you to switch out.  Some things are low on the “dirty scale” (with a 1-2 rating).  I often will keep those items, or even purchase them again if I like them. The items that rate high (5+) have a lot of chemicals in them that go straight into your blood stream and body.  We all know that our skin is the largest organ and everything we put on it seeps into our body in some way. But, I also think that people sometimes forget this, use what’s convenient and at times, reap horrible consequences because of it. I’d ditch those products immediately, especially if the ingredients are very questionable.

A tip to keep in mind: the term ‘fragrance’ on the back of a product is a dangerous little word meaning the company can sneak in any and every form of synthetics and chemicals to preserve the shelf life of their product, and MASK the smell of something not so good. Once you start checking ingredients in items, you will be shocked at just how many contain this nasty little word. The craziest part for me is that there are no regulations for “fragrance” which means it could be ANYTHING.  The Honest Company does a great job explaining this further. Check it out here.

Even if you don’t switch for yourself (trust me I get it, stuff is expensive), but you’re using something on a baby and it says ‘fragrance’ somewhere in the ingredients…please rethink! Children are up against a lot these days so let’s clean up one area for them that they can’t control anyway!  I am a sucker for fancy smells too, believe me, but I also know that my son’s skin is super sensitive so I have to be careful what I put on him.  The Weleda brand has been our go-to when purchasing skin products for him.  And it smells delicious with calendula as the main ingredient.  We use their Shampoo/Body Wash and love it.

A simple switch I personally made for myself about 5 years ago was to go from aluminum-based deoderant to aluminum-free.  I started to become concerned when I began experiencing strange pains in my breast tissues (not being a hypochondriac here just being vulnerable), as well as burning, itching and irritation immediately after application (not normal). I told my husband who also became somewhat concerned and then I headed to the internet to research a bit.  That was the first time I heard buzz and read about links between metal/toxins and breast cancer, amongst other things.  I began having great conversations with other girlfriends who were making the switch too.  I threw out my aluminum-based deoderant and never looked back. I have tried almost every natural deodorant out there, some were ok, some I hated and a few get a big stamp of approval from me.

That original switch gave me so much peace and would you guess I haven’t had any strange pains since, apart from that time of the month and early pregnancy :). This story isn’t meant to scare or panic people, or make people feel bad for using the deodorant offered in main-stream stores. It’s to inform you and make you aware, so that you can safely decide what is appropriate in your home and what is not.

Take a look at some simple switch-outs you can make for things you are probably already buying!

Simple Switch-Outs:

  • Facial Toner (pore minimizer): Thayer’s – Witch Hazel (Rose <3) – I swear this minimizes my pores so well, also Aloe Vera Gel [I purchase the AV from good ol’ Trader Joes]. You could also simply try the amazing ACV (Apple Cider Vinegar) as a toner as well (it does a whole lot of other great things too).
  • Deoderant:  – The key here is to look for aluminum-free! Native [Coconut & Vanilla scent] is my favorite right now, and I have tried almost EVERY natural deodorant under the sun. Some of the organic ones smell great but do not last long on my body. Here are a few more you could try: Lume [this is my next brand to try], Schmidt’s Deodorant ,  LaVanila  (also on my list to try!), Tom’s of Maine” , Jason , or make your own!
  • Make-up Remover: USDA Organic Jojoba Oil [I buy mine at my favorite store: Trader Joes]. This goes on so smooth and I don’t ever wash it off because it’s meant to moisturize the eye area.  It’s recently gone up in price, so to make it last longer try to use just a dab on a cotton pad.
  • Dry Shampoo: I am a lover of a good dry shampoo and have tried a few brands (found out that they are high in toxins).  The aerosol component always made me uncomfortable – it gets sprayed into the air and then I breathe it all in, doesn’t seem too great. If the ingredients are iffy then this obviously isn’t good for our respiratory system, especially if you already struggle with asthma, reactive airway or allergies. I often use plain old baby powder.  This can also get inhaled so make sure it’s a solid brand without talc like California Baby Organic Powder ! P.S. you can also make your own! See below for a recipe I tried!
  • Shampoo/Conditioner: For this you can easily do a baking soda rinse and ACV as conditioner.  Both of these will level out the pH of your scalp and help with build-up too. You could also be daring and forgo shampoo altogether and join the ‘No-Poo’ crew. I debated it years ago, but was too chicken! Let me know if you’ve done it.  *If you’re thinking of trying it, here is a good place to start.
  • Nail Polish: I LOVE me some nail polish…always have! I have been painting my nails since I’m around 6 years old! However, I recently discovered how many dangerous chemicals are in most nail polish – formaldehyde, toluene and DBP.   Check out this post to see a more in-depth explanation as to how harmful these can be. The easy switch would be to buy a toxin-free brand like: Piggy Paint  or SOPHI(this line has a lot of options!) Right now I am giving my nails a break because I paint them myself all the time. When I am ready to use nail polish again I will be trying out the SOPHI line!
  • Baby Powder: Just use cornstarch or arrowroot starch (if you are paleo)! Want a scent? Add some drops of essential oils (check thoroughly to make sure it’s safe for baby’s skin and DO NOT use oils on babies under 3 months old). Lavender is a go-to for me!
  • Sunscreen: For a child use this Baby Sunscreen Cream  by Badger brand!! I have loved the products of this line for a long time.  They have a regular sunscreen you could also use for yourself, but it’s thick.  If you’re wanting something else for you try  The Honest Company  aerosol brand.

See below for some items you can try to make yourself!

Make These Yourself:

Tip #1: Re-use empty containers from old products! This is the best advice I can give, and when my husband asks me why I have 10 containers saved up I have the perfect answer for him. I then proceed to proudly show him my homemade product!

Tip #2: Invest in good buys that go a long way & can be used in multiple products such as some essential oils, Dr. Bronner’s castile soap, baking powder, distilled white vinegar, cornstarch, ACV etc. If you have some of these staples on hand at all times you can easily make anything you need.

Tip #3: Switch out what you use OFTEN enough that it could be harmful if you don’t. For example: deodorant, dry shampoo or a specific piece of make-up (ex. foundation). If you apply it every day, it may be smart to look into exactly what the ingredients are!

  1. Brown sugar face/body scrub – sugar scrubs are so easy to make and the key is to use what you have on hand!  1 c. brown sugar, 1/2 c. oil of your choice (olive, coconut or even grapeseed), 1/2 tbs. vanilla extract and if you have on hand a few drops of Vitamin E (I popped open some capsules I had in my cabinet and squeezed the goodness out)  *These make great gifts too!
  2. Simple body wash – You can just use Dr. Bronner’s castile soap (my favorite). There are a wide variety of scents you can purchase, including an unscented one.  This is highly concentrated though so a little goes a long way.  People will often dilute it with other things to make it last longer.  1/3 c. Castile soap, 1/3 c. raw local honey, 1/3 c. oil of your choice. You can add in essential oils if you prefer, but I like to keep things simple.  Depending on the size of your (repurposed!) bottle use measurements according to your liking.
  3. Baby Soap – hover over each image for a brief description. *Be careful with essential oils as they can burn tiny eyes! Just omit if you get nervous!
  4. Baby Wipes– hover over each image to read brief description. These were moisturizing for little hands and smelled great! Add a few drops of essential oil into your mixture!
  5. Dry Shampoo – this one I just made and really like! Pour together 2 tbs. cornstarch + 2 tbs. cocoa powder.  I added in a few drops of essential oil and whisked it all up in a pyrex measuring cup.  I then transferred it to an old, plastic salt/pepper shaker I wasn’t using! Works great and blends into my hair well.  If you have light hair skip the cocoa and just add in more cornstarch.

Essential Oils: I have used a few brands but fell in LOVE with Young Living! I am a distributor and my member number is 16601125. You can get to my site by clicking here: oilwith.me/amber

**Diffusing oils into the air is the BEST advice I have to switch from the very toxic plug-in air fresheners, they smell amazing and are good for us to inhale! Win-win!

Wow, thank you for sticking around all the way to the end of this post.  You’ve probably figured out that I love words and writing [I even cut out some fluff because I could go on and on about this] haha! Anyway, I hope you got something out of this post. Know that you are in charge of what you consume as a buyer.  Be smart, make informed choices and always look into what’s in your stuff, especially if you or someone in your family is experiencing health issues!  ❤

Be well,

Name

When the Load is too Heavy & the World is too Crazy…

I don’t know about you, but every time I turn around something negative is happening.  It’s getting closer and closer to home and seems as though evil is knocking on the back door more often than not these days.  Families struggling through really hard life or death battles.  Living moment by moment becomes their reality.

Maybe you are truly living a legacy of blessing and reaping the benefits of a family whose roots are so deep down into their love and submission to the Lord that He has shielded you.  Even so, that doesn’t make anyone exempt from a difficult life. Or really hard battles.

Have you turned on the news recently? I have to be honest here and admit that my husband and I don’t watch the news. Hardly ever. Which means we usually hear second-hand about a tragedy or accident or stumble across people talking about something on social media.  When I’m concerned about something I like to check it out on the Christian Broadcasting Network. Other than that, we stay away from the “news” (if you can even call it that these days).

Buzz about: “Theybies”, allowing & helping young children to switch genders, horrific accidents, the gun dilemma, the autism epidemic, racial issues, the war on terror, sex trafficking, the opioid crisis, pollution destroying our beautiful world and all of the unspoken issues too (real issues that the media isn’t even covering like Christians being martyred for their faith and so on). And can I just say that my heart shattered when I stumbled across two separate issues on social media. The couple who was killed (along with 2 other people) by Isis Militants while on a bike trek around the world, and yet another family whose baby reacted poorly to a mandatory vaccine that put their 3 month old child’s life on the brink of death.

It’s all too much when you really sit back and start to process it. Another news articles splashes across our screens leading to debate after debate and here we go having to decide what we’re going to do about it moving forward and who we have to argue with to get our point across. It’s exhausting.  My main concern at the moment is my son’s welfare, and the SOULS of people.  I’m not necessarily talking about their sin, although that is an important discussion, but NEWSFLASH: I’m a sinner too & so are you, and we all have a whole lot of imperfections.  At the end of the day people just really need JESUS. So my question to myself daily is, ” What am I going to do to be the hands and feet of Jesus?”

Making someone feel bad for their stance on a situation is not being the hands and feet of Jesus. It’s really just perpetuating the problem.  So, in those cases I’ve decided to use Biblical scripture to counter, when appropriate.  Not my words, but His.  I also hope to do it in a way that is not condescending, but accountable.  Loving the person through it all and really getting to the heart of the matter. Because believe it or not people make choices based off of a lot of different reasons. And many times it stems all the way back to hurts from their childhood…insecurities, trauma, negligence, abuse and ignorance.  This is important for me to remember when dealing with a human being who just wants to be loved and accepted. And might have a very warped sense of what’s right and wrong.

Jesus loves you and died to take away your sin so that you can live an abundant to overflowing life. Will it be perfect? No. Will it be worth it? Yes, always yes.  His way is meant to bring life, literally and figuratively.  His way is meant to bring healing, forgiveness, mercy and grace.  He did not conquer death and sin so that we can sit and wallow in it.  The opposite in fact. He came to break those binding chains to free us so that we can live a life glorifying Him and pointing others to His majesty (Ephesians 5:8-14)

He also created you for a purpose.  God is the master creator. Just look around at the sky so magnificent in all it’s colors it seems as though He painted it Himself, trees so large and strong their roots keep them grounded amidst a terrible storm, flowers blooming each season without a care, waves majestically rolling back and forth in rhythmic fashion, the mountains, the valleys, the animals of the field, the birds of the air, a gentle mid-summer breeze, the smell of fresh foliage.

He created everything on purpose FOR A PURPOSE.  Everything He does brings life, creativity and works in perfect harmony.  Is there sadness all around you? That’s because sin entered the world and changed it’s course for the worse .

But, Jesus. He came to set the captives free. To break the binding chains of sin. To bring joy and hope and to help us fulfill our purpose on earth.

So when I see another clip about people wanting to call their newborns ‘Theybies’, how we are now supposed to all go to the bathroom together and be OK with that, how children are being raised by technology – absent parents allowing narcissistic tendencies to creep in yet the children are the problem [[we do not need to ask a child permission for certain things: changing a diaper, disciplining inappropriate behavior, etc.]], the constant battle over who is right or wrong when it comes to the gun debate, another baby being murdered in the womb or the thick tension that is political correctness in our culture.

It’s all just enough.

Add on top of that drug overdoses, the opiod epidemic, the horrific rise in suicides, the fact that there aren’t as many restrictions and laws in our country when it comes to what gets added to our food, products, vaccines and medical devices (scary!).  The liberal agenda pushing their worldly plans on our young children. School shootings on the rise. Corrupt companies and organizations running the show and dictating what society gets to partake in, with US citizens as their guinea pigs. And the number one driving force behind all of this craziness….the love of: power & money (1 Timothy 6:10).

No words.

What happens to the children here? They get swayed and pulled in 1 billion directions and parents just go along for the ride.  Too many options, too many questions, too many overwhelming opinions. Too much noise. A lot of it straight from the devil himself, placing these little lies in people’s ears as they run away with them and proclaim them from the mountain tops. All while he sits back just waiting for his agenda to pass: death and destruction.

Let me tell you a secret. A secret that has LIBERATED me from any anxiety, depression, fear, pain and confusion. You only need to listen to ONE voice. His name is Jesus. And His voice should be the main one. The one that truly matters.

Not sure where to start? Crack open that Bible and start with an app to help you like: First 5, the Bible App, Our Daily Bread, A Verse A Day,  Youversion, Bible Gateway, She Reads Truth, d365, Proverbs 31 Ministries etc.

*There are also some GREAT people to follow on instagram! Pastors, leaders, speakers, and just all-around amazing people who love Jesus! Want me to recommend a few to you? Get in touch with me! 

Before you open social media and let the thousands of voices speak into your mind, let Jesus do the talking first. You take precautions to protect a lot of other areas in your life, right? What makes your mind any different? With mental health issues on the rise don’t you want to protect that too? Shut down social media, if it’s getting in the way of your life, and just get back to the basics of learning from Jesus.

Jesus knows it all and He knows best. Get in touch with a genuine Christ-follower who lives and breathes their faith. Their testimony (life story) is a powerful one and I’ll guarantee you that it will grip you one way or another. Their whole life will point to the One who saved them. The old life filled with depravity, darkness and despair is like a cavern echoing the mercy and grace of Jesus in their life.  They live their lives differently and they’ll happily tell you what makes them different too. They’ve been transformed from the inside out (Romans 12:2, 2 Corinthians 5:17) .

They might be in the same exact settings as you,  at times going against the grain. Not because it’s cool, but because Jesus commands them to.  And it’s probably not easy for them.  It sounds restricting and binding, but it’s actually quite freeing because they’re living the way the Lord designed them to.  Their obedience brings blessing.  Even amidst the hard times, they shine bright like a beacon on a hill in the pitch black of night. They’re grateful to have the opportunity to worship the living God. Everything that happens to them will be a choice that either propels them closer to Jesus or pushes them farther from Him. Those who choose to draw close & cling to Him for dear life live a life fulfilled.  They recognize that the world has nothing to offer them anymore because it’s left them shattered, broken, empty and alone.

Jesus calls His followers to walk the narrow path (Matthew 7:13-14). In this day and age that path is shrinking every day.  If you want to stay on it don’t put your faith in people, they will always be flawed. Put your faith in the One who isn’t. At the end of the day even the best of people can let you down. The God of the universe never will (Nahum 1:7, Deuteronomy 31:8).

When you start to look around, really talk with people and see how bad things are getting it could be easy to sit and wallow in that. Become depressed and let that depression rule your life, feel the anxiety rising up in you unsure if you could even push it back down. Let sadness, bitterness, anger and fear completely take over your whole being.

But Jesus says there’s another way. A better way. A way that the world will tell you is silly, ridiculous and doesn’t do anything.

And they’re wrong because the world gets it’s voice from the enemy. He is the master of lies, cheating, deception and death.  His way always ends poorly.

Jesus is the way & He tells us to pray. Prayer is powerful and real. It transcends time and space. The Lord tells us to pray for a reason. It’s a direct line to Him, through Jesus.  He teaches us how in His word.

Crossroads explains the Lord’s Prayer so perfectly, but I’ll sum it up below.

Matthew 6:9-13

Our Father in heaven,   –   

God wants a relationship with you! 

hallowed be your name,  –   

Worship His name because He is holy!

your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  –  

Put His agenda FIRST, not your own! He’s not an atm Santa.

Give us today our daily bread.  –   

Acknowledge that we depend on Him for everything we NEED.

And forgive us our debts,  as we also have forgiven our debtors.  –   

We need to get our hearts right with Him and with others.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.  –   

Engage in spiritual warfare. Put on the Armor of God and fight the enemy.

For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.  

Show your faith in God’s ability. He has the ultimate victory!

There are many days where I think, well what else can I really do here besides pray and meet with Him?

You need peace? He’s got it. You need wisdom…He’s got plenty of that too. Forgiveness? Yup. Mercy and grace? Oh yes.

The world is so chaotic right now. The moral compass in this country alone has shifted in just the past 50 years so drastically.  I’m constantly concerned about raising my son and future children in it. But, my God is greater and He lives in me.  And raising children starts in the home. It starts way before they get out into the world. So if our foundation is strong because it’s built on Christ the solid rock, then I know I did my part to lay the groundwork for my children to firmly stand on. Feet planted on the ONE who holds it all together.  When the storms rise, the trials come, the temptation knocks & the sin enters, He is merciful and just to cleanse us from all unrighteousness but will do it in a loving way because He cares.  He will fight our battles for us. If we lay our heavy load at His feet He will take it from us.  He replaces sorrow with joy and chaos with peace.  He trades sin for a clean slate and ashes for beauty.  He’ll take your shame and give you His righteousness.

Doesn’t this sound like a God you want to get to know more? I know I am still learning and will always be learning about who He is and His character.

Jesus isn’t just a fun saying on a shirt, a cool place to meet up on Sunday. He isn’t just a wise prophet or a man that left a tremendous impression on society. No. He’s savior, healer, redeemer, messiah, the living God.  And He is laced into the very fibers of our home. He has to be or else we would fall apart.

So I’m going to do what I know to do: pray without ceasing, seek Him for all things, read His word and hand everything out of my control over to Him. He knows all the answers and is faithful to those who ask, seek and knock (Matthew 7:7-8).

When the load is too heavy and the world is too crazy we don’t need to over-complicate things further. Jesus just wants us to sit and meet with Him. He’ll lay out the blueprints on how to navigate it all. It might not be easy, but it will be worth it.

Blessed to be a blessing,

Name

If any of this resonated with you please feel free to share it with someone who needs to hear.  The truth will set us free (this phrase comes from John 8 – the whole chapter is just incredible and jam-packed with wisdom & truth)!

13 Breastfeeding Problems & Solutions, Including Helpful Resources!

August is National Breastfeeding Awareness month! It’s also world breastfeeding week and in honor of all that I wanted to write a post documenting my #battletobreastfeed my son by including what worked for us and some things I needed to make it all the way to 13 months of breastfeeding! Woo Hoo (that was a HUGE accomplishment for us)

I am in the process of writing out my postpartum journey as it was not an easy one and I know that will resonate with a lot of other mamas. Many of our initial challenges during those first few months all looped back to breastfeeding, aside from our major complication of…”colic” (also saving this for the postpartum post).

Breastfeeding for us was a difficult challenge from night one.  So instead of writing a whole long post describing every detail I will write out some problems we faced (both minor and major) and solutions I tried that worked!

Problem: My son had a very poor latch and weak suck. To the eye (2 Lactation Consultants, 2 pediatricians) it looked normal, but it never felt normal. In fact I was still in discomfort weeks after those first few tough, painful days.  He was eating around the clock all of the time, always felt really gassy,  sounded strange at the breast, made clicking sounds, always seemed unsettled and like he was struggling to eat, etc.

Solution: Get your baby’s tongue and lip ties checked ASAP. While you are in the hospital, if you can. If a few of the staff members tell you they don’t see one, get it checked further by a professional who deals with ties specifically.  After researching and knowing in my gut that my son’s issues were tied (no pun intended) to him having ties. I jumped in the Facebook group NY & NJ Tongue Tie Group and began to read up on the top-notch doctors they were discussing.  At 6 weeks postpartum we went to see Dr. Scott Siegel, who is ahead of the field in terms of knowledge, equipment and expertise.  We were and still are very pleased. My son did not get better instantly, but his suck slowly began to improve and he became SO much more of an efficient eater. It was truly amazing.

While you are waiting to have this done, you could use something like this nipple shield to protect yourself from extra pain.  I know a lot of lactation consultants are going to tell you NOT to use it, but it was a saving grace for us. Without it I probably would have stopped BF early on. Do what you have to do!

Problem:  You have an overactive letdown. Your milk gushes out before baby can get to you and they get squirted in the face or they get too much too soon.

Solution: You may have to squeeze out a little into a milk bag or a receiving blanket/towel/rag. This alleviates that forceful flow so baby can latch on more easily without “choking”.  Something I would suggest using to help accumulate the foremilk and start easily building a freezer stash would be the Haakaa. This genius little gadget can collect your breastmilk from the one breast while baby is feeding on the other and it suctions so you can utilize it like you would a breast pump.

Problem:  You have oversupply and your baby gets most of the sugary foremilk, causing upset tummy, even more gas problems and slimy, stringy mucus poop (TMI? Sorry moms love to talk about poop)

Solution: Block feeding! This was SO beneficial for us when I did go through a bout of battling oversupply.  It’s hard to know exactly what caused the oversupply for me, but I knew my son was experiencing all of the symptoms of oversupply so I tested out block feeding and it brought us back to that yellow-mustard, sweet-smelling, seedy baby poop.  I had to feed him on one side within a 3+ hour period, then switch to the other side. This guaranteed that he was draining each side fully and not just getting the foremilk (which is proven to be sugary and less filling than the hind milk that comes after). This whole process sends the signal to the body to slow down milk production so you do need to be careful when utilizing this.  As soon as you see your babies poop return to normal or become less gassy switch back to the regular feedings (both breasts during a session or one breast at one session while you pump the other side, etc.)  You will get into a groove and figure out what works best for you and baby!  To track everything you could just write it down in a notepad like our moms did or you can use an app like Feed Baby, which was very beneficial for me in the beginning to keep track of everything (this is a google app). Especially since everyone has their phones around them at all times anyway.  For Apple, check out this app.

Problem:  You have a painful clogged duct. Not fun!

Solution: Allow baby to feed to help suck it out. Massage the area and run hot water from the shower on it. If your clogged duct leads to mastitis (I hope it doesn’t) please go see a doctor for that.  Otherwise, keep massaging the area. You can even use a heating pad to help aid in the pain and discomfort.  The heat will also get the blood flowing to make massaging it more easy and once the spot is warm you can use coconut oil to aid in the massage. You can also nurse with baby underneath you (gently planking over them) so that gravity helps move things along further.

Problem: Your baby has colic (whatever that is) and is very gassy, has tummy troubles and maybe even sour/bloody/abnormal diapers.

Solution: Clear up your diet first.  GAPS diet, elimination diet and avoiding ALL soy and dairy are three popular choices that moms will do when breastfeeding an unhappy baby who is displaying negative symptoms.  I joined a few great FB groups to gain knowledge, wisdom, seek advice and learn from other moms going through similar things.  Fortunately my son was not experiencing the rashes that some of these other mom’s babies were, but he still was not comfortable and had strange diapers most of the time (they smelled and look abnormal).  I originally took out soy and dairy (ALL OF IT) from my diet.  That seemed to help a little, but nothing drastic. I continued to avoid it anyway and moved onto keeping a food diary (very helpful). I monitored what I ate, what was in what I ate, how my son reacted and what his poop/skin looked like. To be honest I truly believe sugar is another big culprit.  When my son finally started eating real foods, IF we allowed him to have something with processed sugar (which was not very often) he would break out with a pimple or two the very next day.  His skin would also get red and itchy looking.  Interesting right?  If you have further questions about how to avoid dairy and soy get in touch with me.  I became a pro at reading ingredients and labels (still utilize my learned skills) and will gladly help you navigate the dairy/soy free world.

One thing that we gave my son that seemed to calm him and coat his stomach was Tummy Calm and Colic Calm. They are homeopathic, filled with normal ingredients that naturally calm and are safe for babies (no added fillers, chemicals or sugars!).  Another thing we did that I truly believe helped my son was get him on a good probiotic (key here being GOOD). A store bought, unrefrigerated brand unfortunately has a lot of preservatives and fillers in it.  We used Klaire Lab probiotics with my son!  You can do further research and buy an even more advanced one.

Problem: Sore, cracked nipples. Ouch!

Solution:  Lansinoh cream or something like it such as Earth Mama, Angel Baby Nipple Butter. This worked great for me back in the beginning when I was in pain.  It’s thick and creamy so it coats really well and will stay where you put it.

Problem: Low breastmilk supply.

Solution:   Eat foods high in healthy fats such as avocados. You can also try oatmeal every morning and Mother’s Milk Tea in the evening.  The cookies that helped me the most  in the beginning were Milkmaker’s Lactation Cookies that really boosted my supply and were very yummy.  Amazon has other popular brands that are also certified organic and contain brewer’s yeast and flax meal.  I also ate oatmeal every morning for breakfast and drank a TON of water.  You are naturally thirsty when you breastfeed, but don’t quench your thirst with anything that will deplete you further (coffee, salty drinks, etc.) You can also check out a site like Kellymom.com as it is a wonderful resource for a new mom struggling through some of these issues.  I started there plenty of times and knew she did her research to support moms.

Problem: Pumping Woes

Solution:  Set up a nice area (because you will be there a lot), have books, magazines, a game like Sudoku, water, snacks and make it cozy.  Make sure you check through your insurance to receive your free pump and upgrade it if you want to (this brand worked well for us)!  If you are going to be using it daily and on the go invest in a bag and extra accessories.  Check to see that your flanges fit correctly. And if you’re going to be doing other things while pumping, invest in a good hands free pumping bra like one from Medela. I’m also interested in trying something like this, for all us multi-tasking mamas!

Problem:  Nursing in public (although it shouldn’t be a problem and I think we are slowly moving past this stigma)

Solution: Just do it and don’t feel bad about it.  If you are uncomfortable, then bring a good cover with you. One that is airy, but also stays up well on it’s own. I personally like the ones that do multiple things like become a carseat cover and can be worn as a cute scarf when not in use! Milk Snob is a good brand (they have a really cute disney line too).

Problem:  My husband wants to help give a bottle and be involved.

Solution:  Great! Once you begin pumping (probably around week 2) start pumping when you are fullest (usually early in the morning right after that first morning feed). Or just use the Haakaa to accumulate some milk. Start stashing some away in the freezer for your husband to take a shift.  While he’s feeding the baby you can go out, take a nap or pump to relieve yourself and save for another “Daddy feeding”.  Maybe he can feed the baby the bottle right before bed to fill them up for the first few hours before wake-ups.  Use Lansinoh bags to store your milk (lay them flat so the milk settles nicely). You can store your bags in any container that fits in your freezer!

Problem:  How do I introduce a bottle? I tried but my baby won’t take it.

Solution: Unfortunately you may have to try a few different ones. But if you want to bypass all the drama, the Minbie was a good one for us because it closely resembles a breast. Once my son’s latch was corrected he had no problem taking a bottle so we moved onto Dr. Brown’s because we liked that they help relieve gas.

Problem: I need to be dressed more comfortably while I nurse and I don’t want to feel like I have to take my shirt completely down to breastfeed.

Solution: Nursing tanks were my go-to! It helps to also layer two shirts so if you forget a cover-up and just want a little more privacy you can use your top shirt as a cover.  This two-shirt technique worked wonders for me when I was out and about and just had to stop to nurse my son.  I always wore a black nursing tank underneath and layered a flowy, looser shirt on top.

Problem: I need to sit more comfortably while I nurse. My back always hurts because I’m hunched over.

Solution: I tried a few pillows  while I was breastfeeding and was very uncomfortable with a lot of them, especially at night.  I liked the Boppy when my son was “tiny” but he got so big so quick he didn’t fit on that pillow for long so I ended up using it behind me to prop me up more. [You can purchase cute covers for the Boppy] I also tried the Brest Friend pillow that is more structured and can snap around you. It was good for a while, but then became more of a nuisance over time as I had to prop my knees or hands under it because, like I said, my son was BIG.  A pillow that my mom purchased for us that I loved and used up until he was around 9 months was the Shuga Bebe Couture Pillow.  It’s pricy, but I ordered one that was on sale at the time.  This pillow claimed to help with reflux because baby is always angled down instead of laying flat across. I really liked it and thought it worked great.  One thing I did have to do on my own was stuff it further to help it keep a more rigid shape.  It was an easy fix, I just took some filling from an old pillow and inserted it.

Edit: If you’re worried that your baby isn’t getting enough to eat, for peace of mind you can purchase a top-rated baby scale. Place baby on the scale before they eat and then right after and it will help gauge how much they’re eating!

Thanks so much for sticking around and reading this entire post.  My son and I battled all of these issues while breastfeeding and were able to conquer them with dedication, resources, knowledge and help! Seek out a breastfeeding group in your area (one that you feel comfortable in), join a group online for questions and solidarity, and make sure you are keeping your mental health in check.  Don’t forget to take care of yourself too, mama. You are so important!

Be well,

Name

Water Color Floral Bouquet

 

A Letter for You, Mama

// See the end of the post for some encouraging scripture verses I created that you can download and print or save for later //

Dear Mama,

You are important. You are seen. You are valued. You are treasured. You are amazing. You are enough. You are loved. You are needed. You are doing a great job.

…and…

You’re a good mom, even if you don’t feel like it.

Especially if you don’t feel like it.

If you are beating yourself up about something minor or major, something silly or serious…you’re a good mom.

If you feel worthless, exhausted, unseen, drained, messy, sad, anxious, at a low or all of the above I want you to know that you are not defined by any of those things. Not a one of them. Some of these feelings are oh so valid, and the others are just lies. You were created for this and God will give you everything you need to do it successfully.

If you went back to work to provide for your family and you can’t seem to fit it all in, you’re burnt out and tired of missing all the moments…you’re a good mom.

If you stayed home all day cooking, entertaining, teaching, cleaning and turned around to find another big mess at your feet, burnt out and wishing you had an outlet….you’re a good mom.

If you battled to breastfeed and gave it your all for as long as you could…you’re a good mom.

If you researched and ran to the doctor, grappled over which formula to get and how you would pay for it….you’re a good mom.

If you wanted your baby close at night so you co-slept for a whole lot of reasons…you’re a good mom.

If you got so excited for bedtime to come because you needed some space, but as soon as you closed their bedroom door you instantly missed them…you’re a good mom.

If you were sad to leave your baby with a babysitter, but knew you needed to take time for yourself…you’re a good mom.

If you were happy to take time for yourself, but missed them terribly so you searched your phone for pictures, ready to share with anyone you met…you’re a good mom.

Maybe you didn’t enjoy the newborn phase, but so desperately wanted to…you’re a good mom.

Maybe you were excited for the toddler years, but weren’t sure how you were going to discipline so you read a ton of books…you’re a good mom.

Maybe you were ready to tackle the teen years because you wanted to get to know them better, but you were scared stiff at the same time…you’re a good mom.

Motherhood is an amazing journey, a tribe filled with a whole lotta strong women. I was proud to finally join. It looks different for everyone, but it’s so beautiful when we come alongside one another to celebrate the victories and to cry with each other amidst the chaos.

Generations of mothers uniting to uphold this sacred sisterhood of being someones mama.

It’s a beautiful journey, not for the faint of heart. It will test your will and try your spirit. You will be tired and barely learn how to function in that. You might even break down. Did anyone ever tell you that’s ok? If not, I will.  Motherhood is hard.

Did you just want to run away today? Yea, I’ve been there too.

I’ve also stared at my son and wept because my heart felt like it would burst and I couldn’t imagine loving him any more than I do. Sound strange? I didn’t think so, mama.

Although each motherhood journey is unique we can all find similarities in the moments. Those still, sometimes small, moments. Where it’s just you and your baby. The silence, the smell, the tiny fingers wrapped around yours, the curled up legs pressed against your body.  The sweet, tender sounds they make. Imagining your hearts beating to the same rhythm.

Those are the beautiful moments we can all cherish as mothers.

Sometimes those moments are few and far between too. Some mamas in the tribe really struggle to find peace and calm.  I’ve been there with you in the trenches. I know you made plans to enjoy each phase, but it’s just not happening at the moment. And guess what? It really sucks, but you will get through this.

Maybe you feel like motherhood isn’t your thing, but I want you to know it can be. I truly believe you just haven’t found your groove yet and your time to shine will come. God knows the desires of your heart and He will give you what you need to be the mama you want to be.

Was the newborn phase a complete catastrophe for you or did you melt into it with ease as you and your baby got into sync so quickly?

Did the toddler years drag you through the wringer or did you grow to adore every tough and tender moment together?

Did the preteen years have you on edge, wondering why you had to even deal with all the angst day in and day out or did your child finally open up to you and together you conquered some monumental tasks?

Did the teen years throw you for a loop…and then some, not sure if you’d survive or maybe your child rose to become a young adult determined to live justly amidst the constant trials of the world?

Whatever season you walk through seek Jesus and pray for favor, guidance, wisdom (please Lord!) and grace.  Start each day NEW. A fresh, clean slate…for both you and your child.  Don’t hold onto past hurts and regrets.  Place them at the feet of Jesus.

If you made a mistake, yelled too much, had patience so thin it was about to break or you just feel like you failed that day, then make amends, ask for forgiveness if you need to, explain to your child why you got so frustrated and move on.

Keep giving and forgiving. Keep loving and learning. Keep moving forward. Need some help? Seek out a mentor you trust! We were never meant to do any of this alone.

And mama, remember just how strong you are. You brought a life into this world. You nourished that precious little life and you gave it your all, even amidst tears and pain.  You did your best, the best you knew how, you sought help when you needed to and you are rocking it.

Wanna know how I know all of this? I know, because I see you everywhere I go. I look for you and watch you. I see you taking your children to the park and actually playing with them, loving on your babies, juggling it ALL, doing the best you can, putting the phone down to be present.  I’ve seen your posts on the internet, the desperate pleas for help and support, wanting the best for your child and giving this motherhood thing every last ounce of energy.

It’s always been tough to be a mother. I mean, think of all the responsibility we have.  It’s even harder when you throw on a list of expectations that reach so high they would topple over.  Today, I choose to celebrate all of the mamas. The boo-boo kissers, food preparers, clothing-cleaners, bath givers, and song singers [amongst a myriad of other things].

You’re a good mom. Did someone tell you that today? If not, I will.

For the brand-new mama, struggling in the newborn phase:

  1. You and your baby were designed by God Himself to be knit together.  He knows what you can handle and gave that precious baby to you on purpose for a purpose. Own that.
  2. In your mommy gut deep down you know what to do…and all that you might be able to do is pray. That’s ok. Hand the baby off to someone else and PRAY.
  3. Your husband can help. He is not a babysitter, he’s actually more than capable.
  4. The people around you are there for a reason, utilize them. If they offer you help PLEASE TAKE IT. Your mental health is important and you can’t do it all.
  5. Seek professional help if you need to. This is so important. Even talk therapy with a licensed counselor can help!
  6. The exhaustion will end. I won’t say when because everyone told me around 3 months….but NO. My cutie guy got a whole lot happier around 5 months, but didn’t sleep through the night until 13 months.  It’s OK, it’s a hard season that will pass!
  7. You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength. This scripture becomes cliche but it’s so very true. He conquered the grave, and He can help you through each trial you face.
  8. Write scripture down on pretty index cards and place them everywhere. When you’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed, frustrated, exhausted…stare at those scriptures, read them out loud and claim them over your mind, heart, home and family members. [Or just print off the ones below I created] ❤
  9. You will start to feel better…although I can’t tell you when that will be. For me it took a lot longer than most, but not as long as others.  Get out into the fresh air and sunshine and just take one day at a time. Go out and about when you feel comfortable and think about joining an encouraging mom group.  And if you need to wear that baby to make them happy….DO IT and don’t feel bad about it! #wearallthebabies
  10. Your baby is needy now and literally gives nothing back to you, except an occasional smile that might be just from gas, but they will flower with love for you.  The mother and child bond is truly like no other.  I could cry thinking about how vital it is.  Remember the groundwork you are laying, the foundation you are going to build on and how your child will have a strong place to stand on as they face their own life challenges.

Even on the days you don’t feel like a good mom, you are. Stop beating yourself up, letting mom guilt consume you and celebrate each day. Find a big or small victory you had together and delight in it.

Be well,

Name

Here are some powerful scriptures to keep you motivated and to show you just how equipped you are for this. God’s got you both in the palm of His hand.

Click on the PDF to download and print out or save for later!

2 Corinthians 12.9Jeremiah29.11Psalm 37.7Philippians 4.8Matthew 6.33Psalm 34.18Proverbs 31.28-30Isaiah 41.10Psalm 127.3-4Matthew 11.28-30