Welcome to my weekly post I share a peek into our lives, talk about things I’m loving, share links to interesting articles or helpful ideas I’ve collected throughout the past week, and just talk about whatever is on my heart! 🙂
I spent this weekend at a ladies’ retreat with women from our Discipleship Group. The retreat felt stretching to me on many levels — we’d be staying in a small room with 7 women for two nights, it would be a really intensive experience requiring us to share openly and deeply, I likely wouldn’t be getting a lot of sleep, and (as a small group leader) I’d need to be doing a lot of pouring in to other women.
I knew it was going to be a stretching experience — and I already felt tired and worn down from our move and the last few very full weeks. But I went into the weekend with the spirit of newfound confidence God has given me… and you guys, it was SO amazing!
Yes, I didn’t sleep at all as well as I do at home, but I had energy to pour into women the entire retreat. Yes, there were awkward moments, but I challenged myself to show up fully and engage with the awkwardness.
And I committed to go first when it came to vulnerability. I can’t even begin to tell you how freeing it was for me to not hold back or self-protect like I usually do. And then to not allow myself to psycho-analyze what I had said or wonder if I had over-shared or if I had scared people off by how gut honest I was.
I shared a lot of things with these women that I have almost never opened up about. Things that I’ve been embarrassed about and wanted to hide and pretend didn’t exist. And you know what? I realized that my willingness to be so vulnerable when it is really hard for me to do so not only opened the door to much deeper relationship with these women, but it also gave them the courage to share honestly and vulnerably with me and with our group.
Want to develop deeper relationships? This what I’m learning: Go first — show up, volunteer, be the initiator, don’t wait to be invited. Look for those who are hurting or struggling or new or feeling left out or feeling awkward or sitting on the sidelines and reach out to them. Focus on how you can bless others. Don’t hold back, put on a mask, pretend, or hide who you truly are. This is where real relationships and community start to happen!
When we moved to TN 3.5 years ago, we went from being home owners to being renters again. It was the wise financial thing to do for a lot of reasons, but it meant downsizing in many areas — especially when it came to the bedroom situation.
Our kids all shared one little room and you could barely walk in it once they had their dressers and beds in it. It wasn’t ideal, but we wanted them to be part of the debt-free journey with us — and that meant we all made short-term sacrifices for long term benefits.
We promised them that when we bought a new house, they would all get to have their own space and we would let them outfit their space however they chose.
When we moved last week, we gave them each an Amazon budget for their room and they have had the time of their lives picking out room decor, ordering it, and putting their rooms together. It’s been so fun to witness as parents!
Our hope is that they won’t forget these lessons… That short-term less-than-ideal situations are okay. That you don’t have to be embarrassed to have your friends over and let them see your crowded, not-so-nice bedroom that you share with all your siblings. That if friends judge you or make fun of you for this, they are probably not the kind of people you want to spend a lot of time around. That patience pays off. And that when you have to wait for something for a few years, it makes you appreciate it a lot more.
Let me give you all a little dose of online reality. See that first picture? That’s our formal living room in our new house.
You could look at that picture and think, “Wow! This woman is amazing. She just moved and her whole house is already unpacked and set up and perfect!”
You could concoct a complete story in your mind about me and my house and my perfect, put-together, idealistic life. You might even start feeling inadequate and comparing your reality and where you are at to this one picture on social media that I posted.
See that messy room? That was how my room looked for at least 4 days after we moved. Bed and dressers not put in the right place yet (we are planning to move our bed to the other wall and get rid of our dressers — once we get the closet organized!), piles of clean laundry, boxes, bed unmade, and random other messes.
These photos were both my reality at the same time. With both, you could have concocted a completely different story.
And that’s what happens when we create a big story based upon one small snippet of someone’s life that they share on social media.
As Brene Brown so wisely says, “In the absence of data, we make up stories.”
Remember that we all have beautiful, amazing parts of our life and we all have messy parts of our life (whether literal or figurative). None of us have it all figured out, none of us are perfect, and social media is only a small snapshot into someone’s life.
So never compare your reality to a tiny little picture of someone’s life that you see on the internet. ❤️
She won first place in her grade in the Speech Meet Finals! (Swipe right here to watch part of her presentation here.)
I’m so proud of this girl. She’s fought through a lot this past year (anxiety, hurt, rejection, and much more — some day I’ll share more of the journey we’re walking through) and we love seeing the amazing young woman she is becoming and the healing and growth God is working in her. We can’t wait to watch God’s plans for her life continue to unfold.
One thing we know, life will always be full of adventure and beauty and creativity with her around! ❤️
Something BIG is stirring in me right now. I don’t have all of the words just yet and I’m only beginning on this journey — but I’m so excited about what is unfolding.
I’ve told myself for a long time that I’m an introverted person who is a homebody and who doesn’t host things or initiate. I told myself that hosting and initiating weren’t my gifts or my personality. And I’ve lived under this and let it hold me back in all sorts of areas.
In relationships, in community, in work, in taking risks, in living out my full potential, in leading, in being honest, in vulnerability, from holding my head up high and owning the gifts and strong personality God has given me.
It was safer to hide behind the mask. It was safer to convince myself that I wasn’t the type to step out and step up and initiate and lead.
But y’all, I’m learning that I have stuffed and stifled a big part of who I am — because of fear and because of lies I’ve lived under.
I sat in my car with a friend the other day and she looked at me excitedly as she heard me talk about inviting this friend to this thing and getting together with that friend and initiating something else and being involved in this other thing and helping lead yet another thing and she said, “What is going on?? I don’t even think I know you anymore!”
And I looked at her and said, “I’m tired, but oh so happy! I’ve held back for so long. But I think this is actually who I am!”
I feel like I’m having an identity crisis. But it feels so right. And I can’t wait to see where it leads.
Quote from @laracasey
2018 Goals Update
1. Read 100 non-self-help books that will build me up/encourage me/inspire me/recharge me. (Fiction/story-driven/biographies/inspirational living books/devotionals.) See the list of 44 books I plan to read this year.
**Progress: 13 books read so far this year
2. Read through the entire Bible.
**Progress: I’m using the Robert Murray M’Cheyne plan and am all caught up— yay!
3. Write one handwritten note to someone every week.
**Progress: 12 notes written so far this year
4. Run 500 miles.
**Progress: 86 miles run so far
5. Go on an overnight trip with Jesse without the kids.Jesse and I went to NYC together in January.
6. Read 10 books aloud with the kids.
**Progress: I’ve finished one book so far.
7. Take the kids to South Africa.
**Progress: We nailed down dates for our trip!
8. Go on a family road trip.
9. Save up to pay cash to finish off an office for me and workout room for Jesse and me in the basement in our new house.
10. Replenish our Emergency Fund (we dipped into it to replace my car when it got totaled because of the carpet beetle infestation.)
11. Increase our gross income from the business by 8%.
12. Launch 5 new courses.
**Progress: 4 Weeks to a More Productive Life launched in January and Content Creation 101 launched in February. We launched the 4-Week Blog Coaching Program this past week and we’re currently working on a new YourBloggingUniversity.com course that we hope to launch in a few weeks.
Links You Should Check Out:
How We Paid Cash For Our House — I shared very honestly in this video all the details on how we paid cash for our house that we recently purchased. (If you missed it, be sure to also check out my post this past week on One of the Lowest Places of My Life.)
20 Quick & Easy Make-Ahead Meals for Moms — I shared some of our favorite go-to meals for busy nights.
Are you a blogger? Through March 9 only, I’m inviting you to join me and a group of other bloggers for a private 4-Week Blog Coaching Program. This program is for you if you are:
- A newbie blogger who wants to learn how to monetize your blog, produce consistent and inspiring content, and grow your readership.
- An intermediate blogger who wants real, actionable advice to help you increase your income and develop a more effective social media strategy, all while having a great work-life balance.
- Any blogger who is stuck in a blogging rut and paralyzed by the overwhelming noise of advice from “online experts” — who wants clarity and tangible steps to move forward and reach their blogging goals.
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