If you haven’t guessed already, I’m a Texas blue and white diehard lover! Blame my mother, whom collected the “real” deal–unlike me, as I collected from Homegoods. 😉
I call my decor style “Eclectic Chinoiserie” (a little mix of this, a little mix of that, and a whole lotta JOY)
chi·noi·se·rie/ˌSHēnˌwäzəˈrē,ˌSHēnˈwäz(ə)rē/noun: the imitation or evocation of Chinese motifs and techniques in Western art, furniture, and architecture, especially in the 18th century. -definition by Oxford Languages
Here’s a sneak peak of our downstairs this year, and I hope it inspires you to decorate however you want! There are no rules in art!
Last month, I was in Southern California with my two kids, and took them to a beach with a warning sign, “DANGEROUS SHOREBREAK if in doubt, don’t go out”. My 8-year son was apprehensive to venture into the water, but I assured him I grew up going to these beaches and it was fine. Fine, we were not. Mila, my 6-year old, spotted a wave and took off running toward sand. Caleb and I, however, had our backs toward the open sea and didn’t notice our impending deaths. The not-so-giant-but-strong-wave took Caleb and I under and washed us up to land. We avoided death, but our pride was killed that morning. Caleb gave me a long parental speech about taking the warning signs more seriously, and I’m sure he will not let me forget this lesson until my actual death arrives.
I wish the movement of Mental Health Awareness came with a warning sign. Warning: Don’t share your mental health or advocate for mental health unless you’re strong enough to endure the fight. “Slogan: Share, but be prepared.”
Dak Prescott, Cowboy’s quarterback, recently shared his struggle with mental health, and a sports journalist called it “weakness”. The truth is it takes strength to talk about your mental health. Strength to be vulnerable, and strength to endure the potential punches from strangers and loved ones.
I think talking about mental health is wonderful, especially, during a pandemic when more people are processing a season of depression or anxiety. You’re not alone if you struggle with a mental illness. I also want you to be prepared before you share. Have a plan and be prepared if your mental health is used as a weapon against you. We’ve often heard, “hurting people hurt others”, and there may come a time when your vulnerability and words are used against you. To hurt you.
I live a vulnerable life where I share my struggles with mental health both privately and on my social media, and I have felt the bruises from enemies misusing my mental health against me. It’s not often, and definitely not the norm, but it does happen. I’ve been called names to my face and behind my back, and it takes strength to not let the verbal fight defeat my spirit or trigger my depression and anxiety.
Please hear me when I say, I don’t want you to stay silent in your struggle with mental health! No! I just want you to be prepared. To build your strength. To have a plan.
While visiting Southern California we went back to the beach every day. We got back into the water and braved the waves. Our little Texan-legs learned how to not get knocked down by the waves.
The waves will come, my friends. You’re not alone on the beach.
Jeremiah 29:13-14 “You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord.”
I assumed we weren’t going on vacation in 2020 for two reasons, 1). Pandemic, 2). I quit my job in the summer of 2019, and have self-funded my solely-owned small business…budget cuts do not include family vacations. But God, had other plans.
The past 12 months have been filled with me imperfectly seeking the Lord with all my heart, and He has been so faithful and kind to generously pour His love and joy over our family. He has provided clients for my small business, He has provided for us during a world-wide pandemic, He has drawn our family closer to Him, and He has taught us to seek joy in His presence. Let me be clear, this hasn’t been all rainbows and butterflies…there have been sacrifices. We dramatically changed our finances by giving up some luxuries like my monthly salon visits, letting go of our House Manager, and hubby sold his truck to purchase a cheap car. Through it all, God is good.
I love how in Psalm and 1Chronicles, David consistently seeks the Lord for His opinion on what he should do next. David inquires of the Lord, and then obeys Him. There are beautiful examples of what happens when David does seek God’s wisdom and follows it, and warning examples of what happens when David doesn’t seek God or obey Him. Thanks, David for taking one for the team!
God, being good and a gift-giver, gave me the gift of a 2 week vacation. Hubby was offered a 2 week work trip to Southern California that would fall over the Labor Day Holiday, and his work was paying for a large hotel suite and rental car. I coincidentally, had more than enough American Airline miles to pay for me and my 2 kid’s plane tickets and a rental SUV for 2 weeks. It could have just been a great coincidence, but I have been seeking the Lord daily, and knew this was a gift from God. I needed a break from our house, and I desperately craved an adventure.
Y’all, I felt guilty needing a break from our lovely house, but…I. NEEDED. A. FREAKING. BREAK. (and all the moms of small-dependent-children during a pandemic said, AMEN!) Proverbs 14:12 “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”
God doesn’t always make sense to me. It makes more sense to go on a vacation in the summer, not when my kids are going back to in-person school. It makes sense to not travel during a pandemic, because hello, I don’t want to get anyone sick or my family sick. It makes sense to go on a vacation with the kids when my hubby can be with us the entire time, not go on one by myself with the kids. All moms know that a vacation with kids just means living in a different place still having to be responsible for everything…why would I want to take that on without the help of my hubby? God doesn’t always make sense to me, but he’s good and does good for His glory and our joy.
Our 2 week adventure in Southern California taught me more of how good God is, and how much He wants us to be in His presence for His glory and our joy. We had a small kitchen in our hotel suite, and our daily maid service would do the dishes. Y’all, I have never been more excited in my life for hotel service. Beds were daily made, bathroom daily cleaned, and DISHES WERE ALWAYS CLEANED!! The Heavens basically opened and I cried tears of JOY to not have to clean one thing for 2 weeks, ha! Oh, yea, and we were in Southern California so we could enjoy the mountains and the beaches within a 1 hour drive of each other.
We had a blast! Hubby worked every day minus the holiday weekend, but the kiddos and I had the time of our lives. It was the kids fourth trip to California and I thought they would be bummed that Disneyland and our “normal” vacation traditions would be closed but they were not. I think a part of them was just as excited to get out of the house as I was. Laying on the beach, lake, or mountains every day was just what our quarantined hearts needed. Fresh air, outdoors, and adventure.
For those that follow Jesus, the Holy Spirit is God with us. God’s presence actually with us. Have you noticed that every great story has a “sidekick” character? Disney Princesses have a pet companion so they aren’t alone, and Frodo has his bff, Sam, to journey with. The Holy Spirit is much more than a sidekick, BFF, or pet companion. It’s a dull comparison by far, but my point is all great stories echo God’s perfectly good story. We are not alone. We have been given a relationship with His Holy Spirit to be with us. Sometimes seeking Joy includes gifts from the Father. God didn’t have to give us a 2 week vacation, just like I didn’t have to buy a few unnecessary toys for the kids from Downtown Disney. Seeking Joy isn’t a formula of seek+do=rewards/gifts. I’m a mother that buys extra unnecessary toys randomly for no good reason/celebration, so is my Father. In fact, he’s an even better gift giver for no good reason. Two weeks in CA with no dishes and cleaning kind of gift giver. 😉
I am a tired mama. I know you mamas feel me. Remember when us millennial mamas would get unsolicited words from our elders telling us “how easy we have it”…you know the ones that would say, “in my day we didn’t have xyz”. Pandemic mamas. We’re no longer the lucky millennial mamas that get to have careers and families or iPads and a quiet meal at a restaurant. Nope. Across the globe we’ve been thrown into a hell fire of impossible tasks, and mental exhaustion from putting out fires.
Just when you think you couldn’t possibly experience any more burning flames…the backdraft begins. Make another impossible decision. Are you team “In-person School” or team “Remote Learning”. Whatever decision you make, you WILL feel the heat from the fire of the opposing team. Only this time, it’s millennial mama against each other. “Save the teachers and staff!” “Save the kid’s mental health!” Whatever you choose, you will be burned with guilt from the opposing team.
Mamas. Friends. Sisters. We must stop. I don’t know if it’s my 90s childhood of southern baptist-Texan-fashion WWJD bracelets, or what…but…I just can’t stop thinking about what would Jesus do and say. I know it wouldn’t be words that burned. Bob Goff wrote in his book Everybody Always, “burning down people’s opinions is arsonist”. Mamas, we cannot be arsonists. What are we teaching our children? What words and behaviors are we modeling for them? We cannot be arsonists.
Our elementary school principal emailed a procedure outline for this upcoming school year on what in-person and remote learning would look like. Within a few hours, our Facebook school group was flooded with opinions. One poster decided to ask the oh, so dangerous question of, “Curious to hear how people feel about the email Dr. Daniels (principal) emailed??“. My heart sunk. Was a fire about to ablaze? I’m tired, but I’m also filled with peace and joy from being in God’s daily presence (and secretly missing my WWJD stretchy bracelet). Filled with peace, I reluctantly wrote words with love in response, “I’m thankful for her communication to us! Speaking from a Hospital and Secondary Market Operation experience, Dr. Daniels has an enormous amount of operating procedures to write and implement, and we as WSES parents should offer her grace and support. No choice is perfect, we all have a hard decision to make and we need to be compassionate and supportive. Our kids are watching us, and we have a unique opportunity to model the behavior we want our children to learn and grow in.”
Mamas, we can’t control everything. Heck, 2020 has proven we hardly can control anything. We are, however, in control of our words…typed or spoken. “Words have power” is true. We have control on how we wield that power for either Grace or Fire. I tiredly rest in knowing and trusting that God is in control of all things. I tiredly sit in His presence being filled with JOY and pouring out joy, grace, and love to all. Even the arsonists. It’s not easy work, but it’s worth it.
Let’s be honest, social distancing sucks. If you’re like me and are diagnosed with any mental health illnesses then this season of social isolation can potentially worsen our illness.
I decided to get creative with social distancing gatherings because I refused to give up on trying to find healthy, safe, and law abiding ways to interact with my neighbors and friends.
Have you heard of drive by or drive thru parties? Well, if you literally just can’t take another virtual hangout then this is the route to go! Those blue balloons pictured above are from a drive-thru baby shower, and the hosts of this shower were just the cutest! They set up a drive-thru shower in their front yard with just a table with food (Bottled Drinks and individually wrapped custom cookies), and I provided the balloon garland. Simple, safe, and you get to see people as you drive past/stop by the house. I NEEDED this. I needed to see a person’s face in real life.
Since then, I’ve been to or hosted several drive-thru gatherings and they have brought me so much JOY! For July 4th, our neighborhood parade was canceled so I decided to create a balloon photo backdrop in my front yard and invited my neighbors to stop by to take a family photo at their leisure. I know it’s not much, but I refuse to let Covid-19 cancel our joy.
Friends, throw a drive-thru gathering. This Saturday, 25th, is Christmas in July and a great chance to safely see friends for a social distancing celebration. I’m sure it will bring you JOY!
Racial reconciliation has been on my mind for awhile now. Back in January, I sat down with 3 of my mama friends to discuss motherhood and race for a podcast episode. Motherhood is hard, and it’s our job to have hard conversations in order to know better and do better. Our kids are needing us to lean into this.
My friends and I:
Toni – a Filipino woman raised in Africa
Krisler – a black woman raised in multiple states in America
Sarah – a white woman raised in Texas
me – a first generation born American woman, half Mexican, half Arab
Together we discuss how racism affects our conversations with people of a different race, how racism impacts our parenting, and how can we be a part of the solution to end racism.
I don’t know if I will see the end of racism in my lifetime, but I do know if we don’t enter the space of befriending those that are different than us, or don’t start having in-person conversations about race, then things won’t change.
Our children are so observant, and are excellent at mimicking our behavior. What are we doing to actively be agents of racial reconciliation? Listen to our conversation on Season 2, Episode 2, and then join us as we learn to know better and do better. Be The Bridge Nonprofit is a great place to start for more resources.
I’m not an elementary teacher. I’m not equipped to homeschool. These days in quarantine have left me feeling like I’m failing this mothering thing. I had the brilliant idea last weekend to search through the attic for party supplies and carnival games. Throwing a party is my mothering talent, and thanks to volunteering this past year at the school as the PTA-Program and Events “person”, I can set up a party in under 30 minutes.
I wanted my kids to have fun and I wanted to feel like I was succeeding at something. Our favorite family vacation spot is Disneyland, so I grab all the attic things to turn our backyard into DIY Disneyland…or at least make it feel like we were actually getting to go somewhere fun for the day.
I handmade all the signs, set up the games, popped the popcorn, and created a special Disney drink. Then the moment to show the kids what I was up to came. I just knew they would be so excited.
This just in: Missionaries do not spend 18 hours of their 24 hour day reading the Bible.
jokes from Season 2, Episode 1
Matthew 28:18-20 says this: And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Season 2, Ep. 01.
Keri Campbell joins the show today to share her experience as a full-time missionary. When we sat down to record this episode in January 2020, Covid-19 wasn’t even on our minds. Now, we’re quarantined at home and I’m left wondering, how is Go + Make Disciples even applicable right now? I don’t have an answer for you, but I know God does. Now is a good time to develop a real relationship with the Lord. I encourage you to download and listen to this episode as you sit at God’s feet and wrestle with opinions, convictions, and doctrine.
The command to “go” doesn’t include, “go, unless there is a pandemic”. So now what do we do? That’s what I’ve been sitting and asking God these past 2 weeks, “God, what is it you want to tell me in this? What is it that You want me to do, now?”
Here’s a pretty tool to help you sit down with God and dig deeper.
Support our podcast by downloading each episode and writing a review. Subscribing and streaming is great, but downloads and reviews are the magical helpful things for others to find our podcast too. We appreciate your support!
To learn more about Keri Campbell and her families pursuit of full-time missions go to PrayforBerlin.org.
*Correction to podcast* I said on this episode Jesus was tempted and then ministered by angels. What I was trying to reference was Matthew chapter 4, where Jesus went into the wilderness and fasted for 40 days and nights (I said 3 on the audio, which is incorrect)
We all have heard the greatest command, “Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matt. 22:36-40). Bring on all the coffee cups, T-shirts, and hashtags of “be kind” or “do good”, but do we really practice this? The holidays have come and gone, and now we’re approaching the season of spring, and I wonder if we are still striving to give and love.
Are we even aware of opportunities to love our neighbors or community right where we are? I was walking the halls of my children’s school the other day and wondering if parents knew the volunteer needs at the school, and next found myself wondering what needs were weighing on the hearts of parents at this school. It’s easy to recognize the needs of others during the holidays thanks to Santas ringing bells and collecting change, or the hundreds of other non-profits sharing their needs, but what about the other 11 months out of the year?
What if I told you that loving your neighbor didn’t have to be a huge holiday production? Now, don’t get me wrong. Volunteering at your city’s homeless shelter, feeding the hungry a Thanksgiving meal, or even traveling across the world to dig water wells are all great things! They are needed. However, there are also needs right next-door to you, at work, or at school, now, in your community.
When Jesus says “love thy neighbor” it’s an action. It’s not just a feeling or heart posture of kindness and inclusion, but is also doing something.
So then, how do we love our neighbors?Step 1: you need to know them. You need to be ok with being weird, and be ok with being rejected. Go and be weird or awkward and introduce yourself to people you see on your street, at work, or at your child’s school. Just do it! Step 2: serve them=love them.
My neighbors on my street are some of the most amazing people in Texas and possibly America. They daily live out Steps 1 and 2. We all know each other. We are intentional to talk while seeing each other outside, having each other over for a meal, playdates with our kids, and block parties. Being known has given us the opportunity to be humble enough to share our stories and what is going on in our lives. For example, when I recently resigned from my job and started my own business I couldn’t afford traditional childcare, so a couple of my neighbors offered to pick up my kids from school if I ever needed help. There were several times these sweet moms saved my butt.
One of the biggest acts of service I experienced was from our sweet friends and neighbors that allowed us to live with them for 2 months while we were in-between homes. We shared our experience on the podcast on Season 1, Ep. 7 “Giving Community”, and I encourage you to give it a listen.
We recently made new friends at our children’s school this year, and they heard about our story of temporarily living with neighbors for 2 months. Guess what? They are going on an international mission trip to Africa and need someone to watch their daughter while they’re away, so they asked us to help. They said they felt less awkward to ask us, because they knew we understood what it was like to need help. That’s one of the best parts about loving others well and the action of giving.It has a ripple effect.
I’m sure you’ve heard or maybe even experience the “pay it forward” chain. Someone paid for your Starbucks order so you paid it forward. Again, this is a good thing, so don’t misunderstand me…I’m not knocking on this. I want you to think differently though. You are living next to, working with, or at school with someone who might need your help right now. Maybe it is a need for coffee (and all the moms of newborns said, amen), but maybe it’s something else. You’ll never know until you get to know them, and be humble enough to exchange stories.
The one thing I know for sure in parenting is this, our kids are watching. Those short people are listening to me when I talk to friends on the phone, or my anger problems while driving. They are watching me and learning. What if we taught our kids to be kind, to give back, and to love well by our daily actions of serving our neighbors now?
I want my kids to do more than just follow the golden rule. I want them to love God and others well. So, I’m determined to model this for them as frequently as possible and pray they copy and practice this as well. Hopefully, more than they copy my love for sarcasm.
IDEAS TO SERVE, GIVE, LOVE:
Children’s outgrown clothes: give them to a neighbor (y’all, how many times does your kid outgrow something? Especially those soccer cleats you use for one season)
Invite neighbors over for a meal (mine is always pizza, keep it simple, unless you’re a chef…you’re basically required to show off then)
Carpool: (that carline is dangerous and stressful)
Babysit: (childcare is like a second mortgage-babysitting is the gift that keeps on giving. Datenight babysitting or school days–all say LOVE)
Cleaning a home: (do you love cleaning? I hate cooking so I offer my cleaning skills more frequently)
Run Errands (my neighbor always shoots me a text when she’s going to Sam’s Club, “hey you need anything”)
Wine Fairy (this was my favorite thing to do for awhile, I would drop off a bottle of wine on my neighbor’s porch just because…she’s a mom)