Holiday “blues”

I’m really missing family today.

It happens most holidays and St. Patrick’s Day weekend is a huge deal in our neighborhood. Corned beef, potatoes, kilts, bagpipes, green everywhere(!), friends/family, and one heck of a parade (if you live in Southie, anyway).

And I happen to be alone this afternoon—which I would normally enjoy.

It’s weird. Holidays are suppose to be joyous occasions (I used to LOVE them), but the last 6 years has taught me that isn’t always the case. I’ve kind of come to “dread” them. (And, with a husband and two sweet daughters, I am luckier than many.) There are people who have no family around them at all.

So, since Brance and I have become aware of this sadness that can coexist for some on a holiday, we try to make an effort to invite others into our family celebrations (as unimpressive as they may be, ha. Although, Brance is a pretty amazing cook.). We have found that it not only blesses others, but it uplifts and encourages us as well.

My parents have been an incredible example of this to me over the years. Hardly a Thanksgiving or Christmas would pass (and many a Friday night) where there wasn’t a widow or single person celebrating with us around our table. And having been the recipient of that kind of hospitality a couple of times the last few years, I must say they were doing more good than they realized!

I am convinced that opening our lives and homes, on holidays or any time of year, has the power to help and encourage and transform—others and ourselves. It’s a beautiful Christ-like thing to do. It’s something I want to do more of. How about you?

Love, Lauren

Have you experienced something similar?

Living “Groundhog Day”

Several years ago when we moved to Boston (almost 6 now!) and I was struggling with winter blues, I told Brance one morning that I felt like my life had turned into the old movie “Groundhog Day”.

Every day felt EXACTLY the same. Nighttime nursings. Chasing a toddler around the house while juggling a baby. Piles of dirty dishes accumulating in the absence of a dishwasher (still no dishwasher!). Diapers galore. Laundry always needing to be folded and PUT AWAY. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner to make. Much of what I did every day felt like mindless tasks.

He said something, gently and kindly, that helped and really stuck with me to this day: “Most people’s lives are filled with a series of repetitive tasks.”

Yes. That’s right. I wasn’t the only one waking up and doing the SAME things day after day. And regardless of how exciting other people’s lives seemed from the outside, they too probably grew weary of certain tasks as well. Repetition was repetition regardless of the job—whether it involved scraping dirty plates in the trash or scrubbing up to perform surgery.

Another thing that helped (besides addressing the winter blues), was to change how I viewed work. Now I don’t do this perfectly, but when I do, it really does make a HUGE difference. Instead of viewing my work as dreary and unimportant, I began to look at it as an opportunity to SERVE and LOVE—my little family and even more importantly God.

We’re told to do all things to the glory of God, even down to how we eat and drink! And every single one of these seemingly mundane tasks was an opportunity to do just that! When I finally saw and embraced this truth, it totally changed how I viewed these repetitive chores and I even began to experience joy as I did them.

I am far from perfect, so it is ALWAYS good to be reminded of this beautiful way of living. My husband Brance recently taught on the subject of glorifying God in all that we do. And it was SO good to hear! I will share the video at the end of the post, in case you would like to watch it too. I love hearing him teach! And I think it is one of those things we “know”, but can easily forget to put into practice. Just like I had 6 years ago (and still sometimes do).

Any job, regardless of how mundane, can bring joy when we offer it back as a loving sacrifice to God and others!

With love, Lauren

P.S. Have you experienced something similar? I’d love to hear.

P.P.S. I’m dying over here over how tiny my girls are in the picture I share. Oh man. If only I had realized at the time how quickly that baby/toddler season would pass. Excuse me while I go scoop them up for hugs and kisses!

Joy killer and joy builder.

Brance and I were chatting a couple of weeks ago about social media and a statistic that we came across.

Did you know that well over half of people who use social media feel worse about their own life after they spend time on it? That’s a heck of a lot of people feeling badly about their life every single day. And of course we’re not talking about it cause it’s too embarrassing or we’re in denial. (But, hey, I don’t let that stop me ;).

I am convinced that so many people are miserable seeing what is going on with others because Continue reading

One of THOSE days

Oh man.

Do you ever have one of THOSE days?

You know. The kind where your emotions are up and down like a topographic map of the Rocky Mt. range. Where your kids are a raging storm indoors while a winter blizzard rages outside and you’re TRAPPED. Where you just can’t seem to get anything accomplished, but you’re not exactly sure why. Where you know that even the smallest thing could set you off and you really, really hate that.

Yeah. So that was my day today.

I don’t love days like this. In fact, I do everything in my power to NOT have days like this. I exercise and try to eat healthily. I aim for 8 hours of sleep at night and make sure I am taking my vitamins (especially vitamin d3). I am careful to avoid foods that screw with my hormones. I try my best to spend time outside every day (even in the winter!) and I jump at a couple of hours away to recoup each week (yay for a husband who makes this happen!).  I do everything I can to FEEL my best so that I don’t have one of THOSE days.

And most of the time it works. Most of the time I feel pretty even-keeled. Most of the time I am able to sail fairly smoothly through the Continue reading

4 things for singles who want to marry to do

Practice really, really loving the people close to you in life– your parents, siblings, neighbors, and friends.

It’s crazy how the people we love most in life can also get under our skin the most. Right? The same thing goes for marriage. So, learning to become more patient and kind and long-suffering (LOVING) before you tie the knot will make your transition into marriage go more smoothly. It will make marriage so much sweeter!

During my unmarried college years, when I was at home, I used to look for ways to love and serve my family. I would hop up and do dishes without being asked or wash and fold a load of towels. I spent time visiting a local nursing home or helping make food for people in my church.

It’s also a great time to break any unhealthy ways of dealing with conflict. This will be GOLD once you’re married. Being able to work through Continue reading

Taking a time-out

I am a bit of an emotional chameleon. As in I tend to change with the emotional climate that surrounds me.

This can be an enormous blessing. (My hubby is always saying it is one of my spiritual gifts.) When someone around me is struggling, it is easy for me to empathize with them—to weep with them, even. When something wonderful happens in their life, rejoicing with them comes second-nature for me.

But being wired this way comes with its challenges as well. And one of those is when the emotional climate around me is tumultuous, I can feel tumultuous.

Recently I have felt somewhat torn apart and beat up emotionally. Anybody else feeling this too? So many people expressing their opinions. So many people expressing their feelings about politics and the world. I am not saying this is necessarily a bad thing. I am just saying that I feel like I have been on an emotional roller coaster trying to find solid footing, trying to make sense of the voices.

I am prayerfully (literally) trying to process it all. Prayer has been an anchor for me. Looking for refuge in Christ and flat out asking him for wisdom and guidance has made a huge difference in how I feel as the world around me (the news and social media and even the conversations I overhear in the local coffee shop) seem to buzz more frantic by the day. The rift in our country seems wider all the time. But peace, trust, and direction supernaturally follow as we rest in God through prayer—regardless of what happens around us. It’s amazing!

I don’t want to ignore or be ignorant of what is going on on a national and global scale. And I do have opinions on many issues. But sometimes, I think it is okay to take a temporary rest from the chaos and to focus on my small world—to really love and serve the people right next to me—before I do or don’t respond to all the opinions swirling around me. Before I do or don’t take action. That’s me right now, taking a brief time-out. Praying like crazy. And trusting that God will direct my heart and inform my actions, now and always. I am praying the same for you too.

Love,  Lauren

p.s. I have decided to tag along with Brance and read through some of the Old Testament books of the Bible. Mostly for support, since he knows so much and I tend to gravitate towards the New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs. We are in Isaiah (ch. 26) right now, reading one chapter a day, if you want to join us. Maybe we could all discuss what we learn along the way in an online bible group of sorts. Comment or reach out to me on the contact page, if you’re interested.

Giving myself grace

I used to not extend myself an ounce of grace.

A messy house,
Behind on the laundry,
Homeschooling needing some adjustments,
Forgetting to respond to someone,
A conflict,
Exhaustion, or anxiety, or winter blues:

Well, what was the matter with me? I needed to get it together. I needed to pull myself up by my bootstraps and just try harder. Because, obviously it was all my fault.

If only I had a better schedule, or worked harder, or had a different personality, then I wouldn’t be in this situation. Sad, right? But how many of us do this!

We bend over backward to help and encourage others when they are struggling, but don’t Continue reading

Freedom in becoming debt-free

Back when we were dating.

Rewind about 12 years and Brance I were happily dating and learning ALL about one another–everything from Brance’s preference for frosty mugs for milk-drinking and my obsession with British lit. and television to what our hopes and dreams were for the future.

I remember distinctly during that time a conversation we had. I can’t remember it word-for-word, but it is one of those conversations that really stuck out and got me thinking.

Somehow it came to light in that conversation that I had a credit card. Not one that could do a lot of damage (I think it had a $500 limit and I always paid it off), but one that I used occasionally none-the-less. More than anything, though, as a single gal, that little rectangle of plastic was something I viewed as a safety-net.

I was surprised to learn that Brance didn’t have a credit card, not a single one. And other than a car payment and some money he owed his father (which he regretted and was working hard to pay off quickly), he didn’t have any other debt hanging over him either–not even student loans. It was something that stuck with me, even though I didn’t immediately go home and cut up my little piece of “security”.

As the months passed and we became more serious and discussed the possibility of marriage and shared finances, the conversation of debt came up again. Brance really desired to continue on this path toward living debt-free and was hoping that I would be willing to do so as well.

I would love to say that I was ALL about the debt-free lifestyle from the beginning–that I had already been moving in that direction on my own after our initial conversation. But the truth was I hadn’t. It honestly seemed difficult to me at the time and I wasn’t sure it was worth pursuing. Continue reading

Climbing out of my pit

For anyone who is struggling or knows someone who is. I wrote this post for you.

As someone who had spent many years struggling with anxiety and depression and now Ulcerative Colitis, I feel your pain. I really do. I know what it is like to wake up and wonder how you are going to make it through the day. I remember a time I dreaded fall because it meant winter was around the corner and that invariably meant more struggle. And frankly I just didn’t know how much fight I had left in me. I was soooo exhausted.

I used to live waiting for the rainbow around the corner. I was convinced that perfect circumstances (or perfect health or really perfect anything) were the key to being happy and content. Although it was probably Continue reading

A question I started asking myself

I want the share a little system I have adopted that has helped our home stay healthier and more positive.

We know gossip isn’t a good thing, and many of us try and avoid speaking poorly of others to strangers or coworkers and even our friends. But how easy is it to become lax when we are in the privacy of our own home surrounded by family?! Or with our boyfriend or best friend? Especially when we know what we say won’t be repeated back to the person!

But gossip is gossip regardless of where it is spoken. And it can be just as poisonous in the sanctuary of our own homes as it can be outside our four walls. Maybe even more so.

So I started asking myself this question Continue reading