So glad I’m not the only one to sit in the car a little longer for my “me” time! I’m an introverted extrovert, is that a thing? I love my people but gosh, I gotta have my quiet, alone time first. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Sometimes that quite alone time looks like finishing that podcast episode, literal peace and quiet, sometimes it looks like texting encouraging messages with ridiculous selfies to my frans. So, here’s one for you! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
YOU CAN DO IT! Whatever it is that you’re facing today, it can happen to you or you can happen to it! Happen to it! 💪🏼
So glad I’m not the only one to sit in the car a little longer for my “me” time! I’m an introverted extrovert, is that a thing? I love my people but gosh, I gotta have my quiet, alone time first. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Life’s fun, ya know?
Im thankful to share a piece of mine with you over here on Instagram and for all of the friends, new and old!
But, you need to know one thing: I like to keep 👏🏼 it 👏🏼 real 👏🏼
After all, we all need to be met in our moments. Whether it’s the soiled laundry because you forgot to switch it to the dryer in time (guilty), the fight on the way to date night, the playlists with the perfect combo of rap and worship, the frozen meals put in pretty bowls so you can take credit for supper (thank you Trader Joe’s) and everything in between,
I gotchyou, girl!
Here’s to making pretty out of our mess, letting people in to see “behind the bliss” and doing all of the fun crazy moments together. 🤘🏼
In case you missed it: Remi horrified me yesterday by bringing a dead squirrel into our home all while Thomas was gone. Yes, friends, you read that right. 🐶🐿
Just the other night I was squealing over a dead roach and here we are with a dead rodent (the size of a cat, I must add).
Me, a dustpan and a bucket came to the rescue all while a dear friend stayed with me on FaceTime (and documented the whole thing via screen recording). Blessed assurance.
Y’all, I can’t make this stuff up.
Cheers to real life, conquering fears, and all of the paid off hunting training. 😅
Catch the whole showdown in the newly added story highlight. 😂🙈
“God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called”
Honored to share something super special with this girl. Every week, we release a podcast episode on @behindtheblisspodcast where we talk all things funny + address the topics others may steer away from. If you listen you might say “oh dang”, “that’s good” or “me too!” all in one episode. 🖤🎧
Now we have thousands of listeners, new friends, opportunities like I would have never believed and a friendship I cherish all because this gal called me one day a few years ago and asked “do you want to start a podcast?”
Just say “yes.” Take that step, start the blog, pick up that camera, call that friend, ask that question, do that thing that you’ve always wondered about. Our God smiles and blesses our obedience even when we don’t know what the heckie we’re doing I promise.
Either you’ve moved passed your goals or you’re still in it to win it. Regardless of wherever you are, I want to remind you we don’t need firsts of the years for fresh starts. We need grace. Grace for ourselves and for others.
In efforts to get ya back to it and on the road for a healthy (spiritually, mentally, physically) “you,” I’m sharing my 2019 goals with @maryscottmercer on @behindtheblisspodcast!
We’re sharing all of the “goal” things + a little encouragement for you to get closer to yours! 🖤🎧☕️
When you look in the mirror, I hope you feel strong.
Not because of how “fit” or “tone” you are.
Not because of the size of your jeans or how many rings you completed on your Apple Watch that day (guilty).
But because of how our bodies were created to live, because of what our bodies can do, what we can lift, what we can go through, what we can accomplish with what we’ve been given. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
It’s bigger than being our “prime” weight or what’s on our plate. It’s about acknowledging our Creator and all of the ways He has made us to do incredible things and respecting His talent at creating a beautiful and powerful thing like you + me. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
So friends, I hope you feel strong.
That place that you've been for the past 4 (or maybe 5 years), the one that holds frustration, happiness, excitement and anticipation, the place where you met your best friends and maybe even fell in love, the place that you became your true self, messed up a few times to learn a few new things, clung to your roommate when times were rough, laughed at those silly professors, ate that awful food - it will be missed.
But, don't get all caught up with how much leaving campus will be sad for you, because campus is also sad that you're leaving. The time that you've spent on campus was not in vain and it's not quite over. The relationships that you made, the papers you wrote, the tours that you gave, the friends that you hosted, the people that you smiled at - campus will miss you too. So know that just as much as you feel that you'll miss your University, that place will miss you right back because you left a legacy.
Whatever amount of involvement (or uninvolvement) that you had at this special place, you made a difference. If you had not attended those classes, tripped down the stairs, sat next to that stranger at the library, pulled that all-nighter, it wouldn't be the same.
So, no. The next season might not look the same. It might not have your friends right next door, or your professors just an office visit away, or a football game ticket as accessible, or the opportunities to get involved that campus had to offer but your next season will have you.
Know that the campus isn't the one that made the difference, it was the people on it. Similarly, it's not the job or position, volunteer opportunity, house/apartment, or location that you'll find yourself at next that will have an impact on you. It's you and the people around you that will make that place come alive.
Be thankful now and be present then. Know that you will be missed just as much as you'll miss this but don't keep looking back because you'll miss what's next, dear graduate.
Here's a truth: there's no "normal." Everything is relative - we hear that all the time. My normal is different than your normal, which is different than his normal which is different from her normal. So, just because someone's behavior isn't "normal" to your lifestyle doesn't mean that it's not acceptable in general.
The autism spectrum is broad; therefore, offering numerous amounts of "normals" in this world. I saw the spectrum of "normal" appear in an encounter at the grocery store that happens too frequently to not be brought to attention.
I was shopping for my ingredients to make a chili about a year ago. I made it to the canned foods isle that was also shared with the chips and cookies. There, I was met by a boy and his mom in an escalated conversation that he couldn't find "his favorite chips." I recognized the frustration of the situation because of my experience with the autism spectrum in our family. The boy was upset that the store no longer offered (or maybe was out of stock) of the wavy potato chips. Instantly, he started screaming, having a temper tantrum (his "normal") and the mother started applying pressure (a soothing technique for those that have sensory disorders) by giving him a great, big hug.
The bystanders were not pleased that this screaming and tantrum was ruining their "shopping experience." The family of two started to gain enemies. People were scoffing, rolling their eyes, mumbling under their breath, "he needs to learn his manners."
I then realized that their normal was not this family's "normal" and vice versa.
I, too, have been the "mom" in this situation, calming down my brother when he gets frustrated, loving on him when he sees no hope, affirming him when he realizes that his "normal" is different than others.
Who's to say that his "normal" is any less, any more unique or has any more special needs than our own?
How you can help? Tolerance. Encourage the care-takers, love on them, switch perspectives to aim to understand that family's "normal."
And to the moms, the dads, brothers and sisters of those that have a different "normal:"
There's a community of us that understand, or at least want to. You too need a care taker, one that can love and support you when you just can't do it any more. Remember that although your loved one's body may be "broken" to the world, their Sprit is full and alive and not broken at all. Their capabilities and capacity to "do it" and "make it" are beyond your belief. And there's people, including myself, to see it to the end until everyone sees their success as "normal."
Hoping for a more tolerant and encouraging community,
photography by Stefanie Madison
I have some habits that I believe are going make me healthier: physically, mentally, emotionally, spiriticually. I'd love a team of people to gather around and go in on this with me. These are easy, practical ways to make your year a little less cluttered, a little more loved and a lot more beneficial.
There's this thing called the 21/90 rule. It takes 21 days to form a habit -- but, 90 days to form a lifestyle. So, let's create a lifestyle, people.
1. make your bed every morning
You know that feeling when you get home and you want to relax from work, school, etc and your bed is still ruffled from resting the night before? At that point, I just want to come home to a clean house.
Not only does making your bed create a disciplined lifestyle, I think it just helps your stress when you get home from a long day. When I make my bed, my room looks automatically cleaner. So, why not take the 5-10 minutes pulling up the sheets and loading on the pillows every morning before you head out? You'll thank yourself when you get home from errands.
2. wash your makeup off before bed
The easiest way to protect your skin from aging and damage. Seriously, imagine leaving all that gunk on for hours to just sit and then think of your pillow case collecting all that gross-ness. I'm not judging, trust me. I'm guilty of this bad habit. Throughout college, either after a fun night out or a long day of classes, the last thing I wanted to do was walk to the bathroom and take off my makeup. But, I wish I had started this sooner.
Not only do you feel cleaner going to sleep at night, you feel rejuvenated and your pores open up and will thank you for days to come. Rinse off your face, wash it with facial cleanser and apply moisturizer (coconut oil will do!) and Vitamin E around your eye to protect your eyes from wrinkling when ya smile all the time.
3. minimize your wardrobe
I'm the worst at this. I actually recently created a shop on Instagram to get rid of all of my clothes because I realized I never wore 80% of it. I couldn't stare at my closet every morning and see the same things again. So, I started this thing where after I wear a clothing item, I turn the hanger around so it comes the other way on the bar in my closet. Every month, I take a look at what is still facing the right direction and I question myself, "why didn't you wear it?" "will you wear it? Rachel...honestly?" Then I sell it, consign it, donate it.
4. give something away every week
We were created to serve and to give and you know it's the best feeling. Christmas is our favorite for that reason, we have the opportunity to give something to someone else and enjoy their excitement. So, let's celebrate Christmas year round and give something away every week. It could be a bouquet to a stranger in public, it could be chocolate to your co-worker, it could be the jacket you're wearing when someone compliments you. It's healthy.
5. 30 minutes of "you" time before you start your day
For me, it's worship. Either while I'm showering, making breakfast, cleaning or hanging out with Remi, I listen to my favorite worship playlist. For you, it might be stretching, reading, doing some pushups or crunches. What ever it is, you deserve "you time" set aside for you for at least 30 minutes before you start your day. It will center you, I swear. You, your co-workers, people around you, everyone will benefit from it.
6. vitamins + essential oils
I'm not a huge guru when it comes to vitamins, health and essential oils but what I do know is our body needs more than the (honestly) crap we're feeding it everyday. It deserves some love and attention. Purchase some vitamin supplements.
Essential oils. I currently use peppermint oil when I have headaches from sinus issues or when my allergies flare up and it clears me up in no time. I also am using lavender oil when I feel stressed, or my heart rate goes up or if I can't calm down before I go to sleep. I just put a dab on my temples, wrist, behind my neck, yada yada yada and it helps!
It's quicker working for me that any medicine I've found.
7. find a podcast
Not only does our body deserve some attention, but our brain does too. We need something to keep us occupied, inspired and always running towards the goals we've set. Podcasts are freakin awesome and most of the time, free. My current favorites are: Goal Digger by Jenna Kutcher and Build Your Tribe by Chalene Johnson.
I listen when I'm driving, walking, running and yes, sometimes I'm that crazy woman wearing earphones while grocery shopping. Judge me.
8. sleep with your phone in a different room
I'm guilty of staring at my phone before I go to sleep to make me sleepy or when I wake up, first thing, checking my notifications. When in reality, my husband and family deserve my attention before and after I go to sleep.
"But my phone needs to charge!" Good thing you have several outlets in your home!
"But, I need an alarm clock to wake up!" Get an old school alarm clock (without the snooze.) Or, set your alarm on your phone and make yourself get up out of bed to turn it off. Boom.
All in all, these are practical, simple steps to making your life a little more simplified, healthy and prepare you to rock and roll this new year. It won't be easy but we can do it together! Who's in?
There's a lot about marriage that is inexplicable until you are actually in the covenant of marriage. So I'm going to try, with words, to describe to you a few things that are extremely important when thinking of marriage.
It's beautiful. But, the world has perverted it and it deserves a redefinition to it's original meaning.
1. Marriage is not the end goal.
I overhear conversations in coffee shops (sorry for eavesdropping...) or the grocery store and girls are staring at the wedding magazine drooling over their dream wedding day. It's not about the wedding, it's about the marriage. It's about the thousands-no-millions of hours that follow after those eight that deserve the investment.
Other conversations include dialogue like, "I just can't wait until marriage because ______"
- Finances will become easier
- I'll always feel loved
- My problems will be fixed
However, marriage was not given to us as a gift to fix our problems. We've put the stress on marriage to complete us, make us happy and be able to add to our value. This is why the divorce rate is just as, if not more, popular as the keeping the covenant of marriage. Because marriage was not created for our happiness. In fact, it was created to humble us. It's so that we learn the relationship between Christ and the Church. It will never be perfect like Christ's love. Marriage, our spouse, will fail us. That's the design. That's the gift. We are gifted with failure of one another so that we are continually pointed back to Jesus. If you had a perfect marriage, there'd be no room for Jesus to satisfy. So embrace the struggle, right?
2. Marriage is just a piece of the amount that God love us.
Like I mentioned earlier, marriage is s gift because it gives us a picture of the way that Christ loves us. Just a picture. It's microscopic to the way that he pursues us.
Confession time: last week was pretty nuts for me. I got overwhelmed quickly with the items stacking up in my agenda, dishes in the sink, Remi peed on our linen duvet cover (bitter about it still, I'll admit), we had no food in the fridge that looked appealing (angry) so I, in my sinful nature, came in the door and walked right back out. I didn't return home for about 2.5 hours and found myself finishing up some of the things that needed to be scratched off of my to-do list. On the way home I thought, gosh, I left Thomas, not telling him where I was going, he doesn't know when I'm going home and he knows that I'm upset. This immediately broke my heart, my speedometer sped up and all of a sudden I was anxious to get home, to be greeted by him, to snuggle Remi despite the fact he had an accident on one of my favorite things ever.
Then it clicked. Why am I not as anxious to come home to the Father? Why am I okay avoiding Him, His home and His Kingdom when I think mine takes precedence. He waits for us to return, with open arms, but we have to decide to make the u-turn and be the prodigal son we've read about. Thomas missed me when I left. How much more does Jesus miss me when I storm out because things don't look the way I think they ought to?
Success in marriage doesn't come until eternity. I'm not successful because he feels loved or because I feel loved in return. Success is when Thomas stands before the Throne of God and is told, "well done good and faithful servant" and I may know that I am part of the reason why. There's something bigger than my family.
"Return to me, do not forsake me" Jeremiah 2:19
When we get in a habit of being "happy" and satisfied with what we experience on Earth from our earthly relationships, we are neglecting the good gift which comes from Christ. Not our husband, ladies.
3. Intimacy is not natural.
"When I get married, then I'll feel loved." Ehhh, not quite. Intimacy and feeling loved and connected comes when the two of you fight through an obstacle together, when you do something for the Kingdom. Francis Chan made a good point when he compared intimacy to sport teams. Intimacy + community and the dog pile doesn't occur after they've been in the locker room holding hands and singing with one another. No. It happens after a touchdown, interception or first-down. It happens when a goal is completed, there's a celebration. Intimacy is the same. It's not something that is always a part of the relationship, when the two of you combine forces for the Kingdom, intimacy is rewarded.
"Intimacy is the by-product of living on mission with one another" -Francis Chan
Some of you may be thinking, "gosh. That's a lot different than I expected" or "mmm maybe marriage isn't for me." Let me repeat, I think that marriage is a gift. It's a beautiful display of the way that Jesus loves us and is sacrificial for us, it shows us that when we are vulnerable, there are blessings. It shows us that there is a greater mission than loving ourselves and loving others. It shows us that we are loved more than we can ever imagine or experience here on Earth. It displays "faithfulness" and the replication of the way that we are called to be married to the Lord.
It's beautiful friends. I pray that you get to experience the ultimate love of Christ. Anything other is incomparable.
We all have those methods to hold back our tears. Whether that be breathing in deeply, blinking really fast, looking up, you name it. For me, my eyes always get watery at "the worst moments" around the people I don't want to cry in front of, the place I don't want to be upset, you get the gist. Me wanting to cry and not being able to, or feeling restricted, makes it even harder to hold it all back.
Sometimes my tears come out and I feel like I have to apologize because I made a moment awkward. Or, if I'm really honest with you, I apologize because I don't want them to think it's normal for me. I don't want others to think that I'm weak. Yeah, none of us want to look weak. So we hold it in, we "suck it up," we "keep it together," we show our strength through our resistance and fight of emotion.
But really, the restraint you put on yourself to actual deal with your emotions is weak. You not wanting to offend someone else or make someone else uncomfortable or God forbid, ruin your "strong" reputation, is something a lot of us strive for.
I'm currently really interested in infants and the processes they go through. I learned that when an infant is born, the first sign of it's health is a loud strong cry or scream. If they don't cry or they don't scream, doctors start to become concerned because their lungs aren't strong enough.
Funny huh? That when we were little it was weird if we didn't cry (and our cry actually showed strength) and somewhere from then to now, crying has become a sign of one being frail. I don't know if y'all have ever read Lamentations but the whole thing is someone being honest with God, being honest with themselves and their emotions. Crying when they need to, dancing and rejoicing when they need to, taking a deep breath and praising God because they need to.
Since when did we become a society who frowns upon vulnerability, who cringes when we say, "honestly?" who's response when someone says walking quickly past you, "hey, how are you?" "good" when you're really not.
Another fun fact about babies: when the baby develops and they're able to gain more synapses inside their brain, they have the capability to laugh (a connection from the head to the heart).
Let's vow to be for real, to be honest, to not neglect the power of our emotions and they way that the Lord gave it to us to reflect his story and the work within our heart.
Laugh when you wanna, cry when you wanna, talk to someone when you wanna.
...and the good news is, you can't mess it up. "Whaa?!" I know. I thought it was crazy too until I started doing some reading and found some pretty cool stuff.
So, you're either making the decision about what college to go to, what to major in, when should you graduate, should I take a gap year, what would I do with the gap year, where should you go to med school, what do you want to be when you grow up, fill in the blank. Yeah, it's overwhelming, I get it.
The fear of making a decision because we might make the wrong one is not God's heart for us. Yes, there is plan for our life. We hear that all the time, some of us even have the canvas painted on our walls, but you have to believe it.
Believing that you're powerful enough to mess up the Lord's plan is a dangerous place to be in. Let me remind you, He is sovereign. His plan never fails.
Real world example: you've probably heard of Jonah. The poor guy that got swallowed by a whale. If you're lucky, you've seen the Veggie Tales episode.
Refresh yourself here: Jonah
Let me remind you, God called him to Nineveh, a pretty bad place with lots of violence, corruptness, a place where "respect" and "civil" were foreign words.
Jonah didn't listen, he got on a boat and fled to Tarshish, a different, more peaceful, town. So many times in my life I hear the Lord telling me to act on something He desires for me and (if I'm honest) most of the time my first reaction is "oh heck no." My quick speed and agility comes into play and I sprint in the other direction.
Jonah did exactly this. He caused some serious problem for the crew on the ship when a storm arose and the waves started stacking over the ship.
I mean, this storm was super for real and scary. Jonah knew that the reason the boat was about to sink was his fault so he told them to throw him overboard and they did. This is when the big fish comes in and swallows him whole.
Inside the belly, Jonah has a huge Revelation where he calls out to God and admits he was wrong and asks for a second chance. The fish eventually spits him out.
God tells him again to go to Nineveh. Finally, Jonah follows, reluctantly though.
Although the chances of you jumping in a boat instead of a car and being eaten by an animal is close to none, this story speaks volumes to me and my heart.
Friends, I'm here to tell you, the pressure is friggin' off. Good gravy, take a breath of relief and fully believe and know that the story is already written, in permanent marker. Life seems so crazy and there seems to be so many eraser marks only because we try and write our own story and when it doesn't line up with what the Lord has, we erase it and try to guess again.
How about we stop guessing and we start leaning, we start becoming eager to know what the Lord has next for us? Instead of standing still, let's go ahead and pick up our foot and start leaning forward and trust that He will equip us with the speed and direction.
Jonah ran from God when it was time for a decision or big change in his life. Sometimes, that's just what's easiest because we hate to think that what God has for us goes against the five year plan we wrote out in our agendas. Be fluid. Be willing. Be able to change the direction you have in your mind and posture your heart so that when the Lord asks, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" your response is "Here I am. Send me!" (Isaiah 6:8)
This can't be your heart if it's engulfed in fear: fear of making the wrong decision, fear of rejection, fear of discomfort.
This can't be your heart if it's engulfed in pride: "my plan is better", "I can do this on my own."
I would just hate for it to take you being stuck on a boat in a storm or being swallowed by a sea creature for you to fully believe that God is sovereign.
So let's lose our minds, lose our life and seriously mean what we say when we fully surrendered our life to the Lord, okay?
Personal time: this past year has been bombarded with big decisions for me: engagement, wedding planning, sharing finances with my husband, where will we live? What will we do? Will we do this forever? Thomas is in the military so we have to decided whether he should sign for more years, when do we want kids? How will our careers affect that? Oh! and what should we have for dinner?
So, yeah, I getchya.
When I'm bombarded with some big decisions, I turn on some music and chill and sometimes, I turn on some music and dance so here are a few options for you from my favorites: