10.31.2014

Day 31: Five Minute Friday: Leave

Every week, a whole heap of fabulous women get together and write for Five Minute Friday. This month is no different, despite my 31 Day Writer's Challenge. Today's prompt is...

Leave

Go

I'm kind of in love with the fact that this last day of our 31 Day challenge ends in a Five Minute Friday response. Why? Because it ensures us a clean break. A breath of goodbye. A chance to move on without going on and on.

All month we've talked about encouragement, and while I pray that I've touched you in some small way each day, you've been the hero in this story. The outpouring of love and support for these long days has been completely overwhelming and not at all expected. Although, shouldn't it have been? Expected? I don't think I could imagine any less from each and every one of you.

Since my gift cannot in any way surpass what you have already given to me, I'll leave you with this:

Hope.

The thing about hope is that it doesn't matter where you are, what challenges lie before you, and how long it may take to get you there. Hope gives us courage to get to the other side. Hope waits while we sift through the nitty-gritty. And hope provides a pathway even when our eyes can barely see what's coming next.

We did it, friends. Together. Thank you. I pray you find encouragement in each of your days, that you seek out hope, and find the courage to be brave in whatever challenge you may face.

Stop


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xoxo, k.

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10.30.2014

Day 30: Brave


As I drove down the highway with the rain pelting the window, I looked in the rearview mirror to see those sweet faces dancing to the beat of the radio. And the tears came rolling down. The words carried such weight for this particular time in my life, that I could barely catch my breath.

We know we were made for so much more than ordinary lives
It’s time for us to more than just survive
We were made to thrive.


I had been hardly surviving, but I’ve been called to thrive. I’d been so focused on the present moment: the dirty dishes and never-ending laundry, the piles of dog hair taking over my life, and the imperfect house, that I had forgotten our purpose here: To bravely thrive in this broken world. To be the light.

But my story doesn’t start on that rainy day. It started the day we up and moved our family from our comfy-cozy lifestyle with great friends and a network as big as the Capitol building to depend on. It started when we plopped ourselves in the (seemingly) middle of nowhere with no one to call on for eggs, a quick chat or a reality check.

It was just the five of us. And a bunch of deer. And spiders the size of my head.

Really.

But then He began to provide.

Urging us to go to church one random spring morning in a town we’ve never even heard of. Finding a realtor who understands our hearts, and sought to make sure we were taken care of in not one, but two homes to live in this year. Placing the sweet angel of a woman in a park on a random early fall day, who had the courage to invite me to join a group of preschool moms when I had no one to call ‘friend.’

I didn’t realize it at the time, but God was giving me little chunks of courage. Little bite-sized morsels to tell me, “I’m here. Be brave, Kristin. You were called to thrive in this place.”

Twelve months. It took me twelve months to see the bravery in it all. Bravery in my life has been to take one step forward without actually knowing what lies ahead: moving beyond fear and the comfort of the known by reaching out praying for someone to catch me.

What I didn’t know that first day we travelled to our new hometown, was what brave actually looked like. I didn’t know bravery meant to do what the heartstrings of your soul were telling you to do, even if it didn’t make sense. I didn’t know that bravery meant asking for help in a community of women that already seem filled to the brim with commitments to others. And I didn’t know bravery would lead to this very place of stepping so far outside my comfort zone it makes my palms sweat.

So when the days wear on, the tantrums persist, and there isn’t enough Frozen in the world to get you through the day, let the tiny morsels of courage help get you through. You’ll find that you’ll not only just survive. You’ll thrive.



xoxo, k.

10.29.2014

Day 29: Your People (Part 2)

This is Part 2 of "Your People." If you haven't had the chance, go ahead and read Part 1 about knowing people. It'll be worth your time. Promise :)


It was unseasonably warm for early spring, which meant the neighbors were out, starving for human interaction after suffering a winter that beat us with snow storm after snowstorm, week after week. Pleasantries were made, we caught up on the latest in each other's lives, and then the conversation changed course. It was a simple invitation, really. But to me, it was something that was completely out of my comfort zone.

"I lead a book club. Our next book is called Power of a Praying Wife. Would you like to join us?"

Had it not been for another neighbor nodding her head enthusiastically "yes," I probably would have politely declined. But she did, so I did, too, and somehow found myself the following Wednesday evening in a room full of Christian women, sharing God's word through Stormie Omartian's prayers for our husbands.

I was sure I'd be found out as an impostor at some point that night. They knew so much of the Bible, and prayed aloud with eloquence, and had confidence in their faith. I wanted to know more. I yearned for it. With the tiny fingers and toes growing inside me, who turned out to be our first daughter, I knew that I was called for something more. That I wasn't where I should be in my faith, and something had to change.

But here's the kicker: They never called me out. They never shouted, "Impostor!" and ushered me out the door. They listened. They commiserated. They held my hand. They prayed. They met me right where I was, and never made me feel less than.

Three and a half years later, we moved from the cozy comfort of knowing our neighbors, late night talks on our front stoop, and all of our kiddos running from house to house. Saying goodbye was hard, but it was right for our family.

Saying goodbye to those sweet women who met each week on a Wednesday? Heartbreaking. They filled me up in ways unimaginable. They accepted me for who I was without question, they demonstrated outward faith, and lived it outright each and every day of their lives.

Life changing relationships. They were my people.

This sweet going away present hangs in my office :) 
When we moved down to the country, I have to admit I initially basked in the freedom of not knowing anyone. But as the days grew short and winter creeped in, I began to realize something was missing from my life. My people. I missed my people (and my house). No visit or phone call could replace the consistent filling up on God's Word and sweet fellowship that was no longer a constant in my life. Don't get me wrong. I studied the Bible more than I had in any other time in my life, but God doesn't call us to worship alone. We thrive in community, and as Christmas came and went, I knew what was missing, but I had no idea how to find it.

After the first of the year, a few girls from my MOPS table were getting together one night, and I was urged by Mr. Kuda to get out there and make friends. So I went, and by the time the evening had dwindled down to just me and one other mom, I just knew I had to say something.

"Do you want to start a small group Bible Study? Like without our children? At my house? Every week?"

My friend encouraged me to get started, to send out feelers, and to just start. She was my people.

If you had told me twelve months ago that I would be meeting each week with a group of women that I hadn't yet even met, and that they were some of the sweetest friendships of my life, I would have laughed at you. I hold these women so dearly and closely to my heart. Things aren't always tidy. We don't all necessarily agree. But there is an unconditional respect and love that oozes out of each and every one of them. They are my people.

Something happens when you get face to face, dig down deep, and share your life. I'm not saying that you need to do this with every person you meet. But you need people. People you can count on. People who love you unconditionally, but speak truth and hold you accountable to your beliefs, even when you don't want them to. Maybe to you this doesn't look like a weekly Bible study. Maybe it's a monthly book club, or an annual trip with your girls, or even just meeting up for a cup of coffee. But friends, you need people.

There's such an important lesson here, and it bears repeating: Get out there and know people. Because you don't know how one small interaction with an acquaintance can turn your life around. Because you don't have to live this life alone, and you shouldn't have to. And most importantly, because God calls us to community. He has designed His Church so that we hold one another up in encouragement through support, love, and honor. He is My People.

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:24-25 (added emphasis, my own)

Is what I'm saying striking a chord? It starts with you. It starts with a question. Know people. Love people. Encourage People.

xoxo, k.

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10.28.2014

Day 28: Your People (Part 1)

"She has her hands full. She is so busy. I'm sure she doesn't have time for me."
Jennifer just had her fourth baby, and even though she'd tell you otherwise with complete honesty, this girl has it together.

She's gorgeous, has a loving husband, and just a beautiful family. She's a Godly woman, smart and well read, and seems to find time in her day to do things that I only wish I could do. Like sew a dress from scratch and wear it that very same day.

Who does that?

I had the thought to invite her to our small group on Tuesday nights, and those words popped in: "She has her hands full. She is so busy. I'm sure she doesn't have time for me." In the span of 30 seconds, I reduced an acquaintance's own feelings into negative feelings toward myself. I had made her busyness about me! Doing so not only disallowed me to build a deeper relationship with someone whom I could very likely have a great friendship, but it completely eliminated her opinion on the matter.

In effect, I took her rights away, before our friendship began.

Have you been on the other side of this? When I was working full time after our first child, I heard it spoken to me a lot: You're so busy with work and Miss E, otherwise I would have called you over! Or You must be exhausted! You should just rest when you have some down time.

Each time I heard it spoken aloud, my soul was crushed. Was I not good enough? Was I not allowed time with other women because I was too busy? Who gets to decide that?

The thing about deciding another's fate is that we simply don't have that right. We belittle others, thinking we have their best interest at heart, but in reality, we just don't know how other people are getting by.

Invite her over. Say hello with a smile. Usher in a cup of coffee and sit down. Ask questions. We can't truly live in community with one another if we don't take risks, putting ourselves out there.  Only then can we dig down deep and find each other right where we are. Newly sewn dress and all.

Stay tuned for Part Two of "Your People" for Day 29! In the mean time, get out there and know people!

xoxo, k.

For more daily encouragement, click here:

10.27.2014

Day 27: Your Superhero

Happy Monday, folks! You know what's better than writing about encouragement for 31 days? Encouraging others to write about encouragement, too! I hope you'll enjoy one of my dearest friends, Karen, as she gives us awesome suggestions to encourage the men in our lives.

**
superhero
A being with extraordinary physical or mental powers, far beyond the
range of normal human ability, who uses these powers to protect the
innocent and for the general good. (source)

“Go lay down and scream help!” my son ordered.  He had just received his new Buzz Lightyear costume in the mail for Halloween and he quickly put it on and was ready to play.   With Mommy in “distress”, he flew into the room, shot down the bad guys with his Astro Blaster laser, and rescued me.  I expressed my gratitude to him for saving me from the Evil Emporer Zurg.  He walked away with his chest proud and a smile on his face.   I am sure this scene is one that is reenacted in many households that contain preschool boys.  All boys want to be our superhero.

But boys grow up and outgrow their superhero costumes.   They stop acting out their rescues.  Surprisingly though, they never outgrow their desire to be someone’s superhero.  

Ladies, inside every man and therefore every husband is a little boy, wanting to be their wife’s superhero. 


Who would Superman be without Lois Lane?  Or Batman without Rachel Dawes?  Ironman without Pepper Potts?   Have you ever stopped to wonder why that is the case?   These women provide encouragement, support, and love to their men.  These men wouldn’t be who they are without these ladies. 

Every day, when our husbands walk out into society, they are faced with extraordinary pressures of providing for their family, juggling commitments at work with time with their family, and dealing with bosses who possibly belittle them.  On TV, they are portrayed as buffoons who can’t do anything right except hold a remote and a beer at the same time.  Sure, these issues are not as extreme as saving the world from nuclear destruction or space alien invasions, but to the men we love, these burdens weigh them down just the same.   Who is there to build them back up when the world has beat them down?   

You are.

Our husbands need to be encouraged within our home.  We mean well, but unfortunately, without even thinking, we are so quick to discourage: 

Maybe he does a load of laundry, but ends up putting your favorite sweater in the dryer?  Do you get mad at him for ruining the sweater, or thank him for trying? 

Maybe he doesn’t change diapers the “right” way, but at least he is tackling toxic waste disposal.   Do you barge in and take over his attempt? Or more, do you squelch his courage, and then tell him to do it like mom?

Maybe he cooks the kid’s breakfast, but leaves the kitchen not as clean as he started (the way YOU left it the night before).  Do you first thank him for cooking, or just complain about the mess? 

Why are we so quick to criticize?  Men will not always do things the same way we do them.  But we have the opportunity to make our husbands feel like superheroes.   Yes! We have THAT much power with our words and our gestures.  We can make him feel like a hero or a zero.  Which will you choose? 

So, let's put our words into action. Here are four practical ways to make your husband feel like a superhero:

{Express Gratitude}
Thank him for the little things. To him, they are the big things.

{Build Him Up} 
Tell him daily, hourly, even every minute if you feel so inclined, what you love about him. Remind him who he is before he walks out into a world that tells him who he isn't. Tell him he is a great husband, a great friend, a hard worker, and a smart man.

{Publicly Support Him and Disagree With Him in Private}
A superhero wants his leading lady to stand by him in the face of a challenge. This includes in front of your children, your girlfriends, and especially in front of his friends.

{Be Ready With a Smile and a Kiss}
After combating an evil villain or saving the world, the first thing a superhero wants to see is the love of his life. No matter how hard your day was, when he walks in the door each night after facing the world, greet him with a hug and a kiss.

Not so hard, right? Now get to it! And, if you're not married? Encourage the men in your life. After all, they all just want to be your superhero.

**
Karen is married to her devoted (albeit, at times bogged down with alien invasions) husband, and they have two awesome kiddos. On any given day, you can find her running, making others smile, and there's a pretty good chance she'll have a cup of coffee in hand. Karen has served in her local MOPS group for five years, and is currently serving under her church's women's ministry team, where she is able to follow her passion for encouraging women in all stages of life, helping them to realize they don't have to carry their burdens alone. Please email Kristin if you'd like to reach Karen directly!

Can we talk about how fantastic (and totally doable!) those suggestions are? So thrilled to have had Karen join us this month. See y'all tomorrow!

xoxo, k.

10.26.2014

Day 26: A Day of Rest (4)



Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: 
Rejoice!
Let you graciousness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.
Don't worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.
And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4: 4-7

xoxo, k.

10.25.2014

Day 25: Simple Saturdays

Somehow I'm feeling the burn of 31 days this week, and today is no exception. But here I am, 8 pm on a Saturday, with no post. Normally this would bother me. My typical pattern in reaction to not good enough and not quite there is a feeling of defeat, and beating myself down before I give myself a chance to make it up.

But not today.

Today I chose sleeping in (7 am! Woo!), a pancake breakfast, and a swim lesson.


I chose a shopping trip with my sweet girl, and lazy lunch with all four of us around the table.


We chose barefoot runs on the sidewalk, peekaboo with leaves, and a cool fall breeze joining in on a girly pedicure.


We jumped into leaves, watched a spooky movie, and ate dinner on the floor. We forgot bedtimes. We just lived today. And it was so nice.


Deadlines are nice. And important. But sometimes, we just have to let go and see what incredible life we have going on around us.

Happy Saturday, friends!

xoxo, k.

10.24.2014

Day 24: Five Minute Friday: Dare

Every week, a whole heap of fabulous women get together and write for Five Minute Friday. This month is no different, despite my 31 Day Writer's Challenge. Today's prompt is...

Dare

Go.

I dare you. I dare you not to give in to those never-ending joy killers. The ones that tell you no. And you can't. And you're not good enough.

I dare you. To share what you believe. To lean in close to our sweet Lord. To press into Him so He can speak through you. For you.

I dare you. To follow the whispers of your heart. To make the call when a friend pops into your brain. To send the text you've been afraid to send. To be the encouragement she needs, but is too afraid to ask for.

Speak life aloud. Stand strong in your convictions. Show your true self. Spend your days spreading light to the world, so that when you feel as if you just can't do any more, you'll see how far you've come and know that you can. You are able.

I dare you.

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Stop.

Y'all. We are SEVEN DAYS away from the end of the month! We're in the home stretch, and I can't thank you enough, all of you wonderful, sweet folks who have been such a source of such encouragement in this crazy 31 days. Be sure to check out the other 23 days here, just in case you're needing some more encouragement!

10.23.2014

Day 23: Strong

Have you had a Chick-Fil-A kids meal lately? No? Let me welcome you to my world!

Right now they have a little doodad of a toy that kind of resembles one of those circular toys where you pulled the arm down, and an arrow spun, and it made a farm animal noise or some sort of song. Anyways, the CFA toy is a miniature version of that, except that an adjective pops up when you pull the lever, and you're supposed to find something in the room that fits the description.

They "easy" side has colors and a few other concrete choices. The "not so easy" side is a little more complex, but surprisingly (or maybe not, knowing her propensity for a ridiculous vocabulary at the age of 3, almost 4 years old), Miss E was obsessed and loves, loves, loves this game.

Two words came up that made me wonder what she might say: funny and strong.

Maybe because I want to think I'm funny, and I want to think I'm strong, but sometimes I let myself think that I'm always falling short. Thank you, Chick-Fil-A, for our deep thought of yesterday afternoon.

Strong? Not so easy...
The three year old didn't point to momma or brother or daddy when the word was strong popped up in the window, she pointed to herself. When I asked her what it means, to be strong, she said, "I don't really know. I just am." And then she made her muscles with her arms and said, "ARGGGH!"

Both times, she pointed to herself. Because she is strong and mighty and brave. And hilarious. She doesn't have the life experience (thank God) of the Enemy seeping into the small crevices of her mind to tell her otherwise. She knows God says that she is loved, that she's protected, that she's an incredible work of art (Ephesians 2:10) and she believes Him.

So why don't we?

Here's a few little reminders on this cool Thursday morning, just to get your blood moving and your mind headed in the right direction as you start your day:

You are a child of God. 
Galatians 3:26

You are greatly loved. 
Romans 5:8

You will not be condemned by God.  
Romans 8:1
You are wise, righteous, sanctified, and redeemed. 
1 Corinthians 1:30

Your body is a temple. 
1 Corinthians 6:19

You are free in Christ
Galatians 5:1

You are chosen, blameless and holy before God. 
Ephesians 1:4

You are complete in Christ. 
Colossians 2:10

Hope y'all have a fantastic day!

xoxo, k.

10.22.2014

Day 22: You Aren't Good Enough

As I continue to stare at the title of this post, I start to believe it. It becomes real for me, and then the seeds of doubt and inability and yuckiness of it all come together in this giant heap of a mess that is me, and the words jump at me, growing infinitely larger:


You Are Not Good Enough

We know about the beast of perfectionism, and how its goal is never-ending and, with that, never attainable. But this is something more. This is something that is spoon fed to us from the day of our birth. It's shown to us in news feeds of perfect families without a care in the world, it's shown to us in every commercial ever made, and it's even present in our daily interaction with teachers, friends, family.

I'm going to put this out there, just so you know how this story ends. You are, in fact, GOOD ENOUGH. Always. We've talked about perspective around this joint, and that, my friends, is what it comes down to. Even still, I think it's time we revisit how we view ourselves. If we can't change the perspective we have of ourselves, how can we embolden others around us?

When this is spoken to me, "Hey Kristin, next time you do this, do you mind doing y instead of x?" I hear instead, "Hey Kristin, you've done a horribly terrible job. Do you mind never trying to do anything of worth again? And in the meantime? Just know that everyone does a better job than you."

Wait, what? Maybe that's taking it to the extreme, but in this season of changing diapers and always being someone else's need, maybe I just feel like my good enough isn't, well, enough. Something tells me I'm not the only one. Something tells me that there are way too many of us sitting at home telling ourselves that we've failed. That we've failed and we will never make it up.

The thing about this unspoken weariness and never-ending feeling of unworthiness? She has a companion, and her name is guilt. The problem we face with guilt is once it starts? It's like a tiny snowball gaining momentum down a hill. Guilt tends to slowly build up, but as it gains traction it gets larger and larger until it's out of control. For me this has a common result: I will find myself just sitting in space not doing anything because I haven't done anything. And then feel guilty about it, because that's what we do.

Here's where I'm wrong (and perhaps you?): Guilt is our own doing. Is it real? YES. But. We make our own lists of to-dos and, as a result, set ourselves up for success or failure. I don't know about you, but what if we nipped it in the bud? What if we woke up with one goal in mind, and that was to be good enough for this day?

I'm not saying settle for mediocrity, but rather know in your heart that you're doing today's best. Not only that, but know that today's best looks different from tomorrow's best. And sometimes your (self-determined) worst is Jennifer's best, whose is different from Karen's best.

Are you following me here? What a relief! The best part of sharing my heart is not just getting it out in the open, but knowing you're going through it, too. Power in numbers!


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I don't have any epic quotes or life-changing words of wisdom to share here, but what I do know is this: You're not alone. We're in it together. Even if you're tired and broken down, you have a sister here that is in it with you.

You're doing it, aren't you? You're getting through the tough ones, one day at a time, and you're doing it. Way to go, friend!


xoxo, k.

10.21.2014

Day 21: Your Time

Would you believe me if I told you that I didn't really get what it meant to be a mom until, like, two years in?

Which, because Miss E turns four in just a bit, means I'm batting at .500.

I'm going to let you in on a little secret of mine. For me, it may mean less sleep, and a whole lot more coffee, but it's what has gotten me from "Mom who is also Kristin" to "Kristin who is also Mom."

Alone time. 

That's it. It has been my saving grace, and restored my sanity more than once. Finding time to be myself has not only helped me be a better mom, but a better wife, friend and neighbor.

Why? Because when we lose ourselves, in whatever it is that we do every day, we lose the person God intended us to be. He didn't say, "Be a mom! And that's it! Nothing else!" He didn't say, "You are chosen to be a nurse, and now you must nurse, all day long, 24/7!"

And here's the kicker. When I was so focused solely on being a mom, I was showing my kids that it's all right to throw yourself into just one thing and never look up or even take a breath. What lesson does this teach them?

Being a mom (or whatever you happen to identify with at this current time) doesn't mean I'm only a mom, and using my quiet time each day has helped me to identify what it is I'm supposed to do other than mother.  God tells us to encourage one another and build each other up (1 Thessalonians 5:11), but we can't possibly do that until we are able to take a moment each day and see what He has in store for us.

How do we do that? I'm thrilled you asked!

Designate a time
It doesn't have to be the same time every day, nor does it need to be an hour, but in order to make something a habit, it helps to do it consistently, each and every day, for at least 5 minutes. Play with what works for you. My quiet time used to be in the middle of the afternoon, during naps. Now that the kiddos are a little older, that just doesn't work any more.

Designate a place
We have this wingback chair a few feet from the fire place, and it's my favorite nook in the house. It's cushy and cozy, and it helps me to get to a place I can relax and focus.

Designate a mindset
Before (and after) my alone time, I stop myself and take a few breaths. Even if I'm just reading a book or doing some journaling, I take some time to focus on the moment. Reflect on why you're there, what you're doing, and what you want out of your time, even if it's just a few moments out of your day.

Designate a purpose
I read the Bible. It centers me, encourages me, and shows me my path for the day. This may look different to you, but having a purpose in your alone time keeps you focused and consistent.

Designate accountability
Can't seem to make yourself keep to, well, yourself? Tell someone your goal. See if they'll do it with you. Nothing is more motivating than getting a text from my sweet friend at 6 am telling me what she's gotten from her quiet time that morning. Not only does it get me going, but it deepens our friendship.

Don't beat yourself up
Some days, I cannot. Get. Up. Like, at all. Because I'm a mom of two and a wife and a friend. Sometimes I stay up too late or the kiddos wake me up every hour, and I have to make a choice between sheer exhaustion and rest. Rest usually wins in this scenario.

What I do know is this: around two years ago, when I discovered that this quiet time was positively impacting my life on a daily basis, I found that I was able to demonstrate a more well-rounded version of myself. That is what I wanted for my kids.

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Why this? Why now, in this month of encouragement? If we don't take care of ourselves spiritually speaking, we cannot have continual presence as an encourager in this world. It is too much. In the land of Pinterest and Facebook, we simply will never be enough compared to the standards of this world.

Go. Go find your you time. Find yourself, where your identity lies, and you will begin to see the fruit of it as you impact others.

xoxo, k.

10.20.2014

Day 20: The Overscheduled

As the clock pushed toward 8 pm, I felt the pressure mounting, and was sure my top would blow. It had been a relaxing weekend, but the hustle and bustle of get dressed, brush teeth, get them dressed, comb hair, eat breakfast, snacks, lunch, laundry, errands... It became too much. And here it was, 8 pm on a Sunday night, and I hadn't caught my breath since I woke up that morning.

Tears threatened to fall over the threshold, but somehow I kept them back, determined to finish my to do's and check lists. I sat at our family table and opened my planner, divvying up my next week into check marks and activities.

This is too much.

A thought popped into my head, and that's when the proverbial dam began to disintegrate. I forgot to call her. I promised I'd call, but that was two days ago, and I forgot. I am the worst.

I actually texted her and said those exact words: "I am so sorry I didn't call. I am the worst."

That one split hair of a second: that's how quickly the lies can seep in. Somehow we let ourselves go from being over-scheduled and too busy, to feeling like the worst. And that's what I felt. I had let her down, and in turn let myself down. And maybe let God down? Because I alone couldn't get it all done.

In my own failings, I had immediately gone to a place of fault and self-loathing. Is this you? After spending the weekend with a bunch of {wonderful} women who are hurting, I know I'm not the only one. Knowing this is comforting, but it took less than 24 hours for me to revert back to believing the lies we tell ourselves.

Over scheduling is my trigger. What's yours? The pessimistic friend? Gossip? Pinterest? We need to identify what provokes the lies in our hearts, our minds. And then we need to speak it. We need to open the means of communication, because the Enemy? He wants us to be isolated in our self-deprecation. He wants us to feel alone and unworthy of peace. Happiness. Joy. We need to be able to tap in and recognize these lies. Only then can we begin to reevaluate our priorities, develop a plan of attack, and ultimately, heal.
Today? I am starting anew. My to-do list continues on, but my priorities have changed. I am worthy of the tasks set before me, and when the details of my daily life get in the way of checking off all the boxes, I'll know that I'm not the only one. Care to join?

xoxo,
k.

Need more inspiration today? Head on over to Inspire Me Mondays to get your fill!

10.18.2014

Day 18: Simple Saturdays



You are good enough.

You are loved.

You are smart enough.

You are strong enough.

Your hurt is not in vain.

Your insignificance is not real.

You are noticed.

You are a blessing to those around you.

Here’s the thing. The negative thoughts in our minds? They’re lies. They are untrue. You are a beloved child of God, and you are His.

Happy Saturday, friends!


Xoxo,
k.

10.17.2014

Day 17: Five Minute Friday: Long

Every week, a whole heap of fabulous women get together and write for Five Minute Friday. This month is no different, despite my 31 Day Writer's Challenge. Today's prompt is...

Long

Go.

"Can I comb your hair, momma? It's so nice and long."

Even though it's 7:15 and bedtime has passed, I give in to her pleading because I know these moments we spend together are precious.

We sit on the cool bathroom floor, and she takes on the persona of "Miss E the hairdresser." We talk as if we're old friends, she asks questions I'm sure no three year old has ever uttered before. It's where we connect and bare our souls, here on the hard tile, when the silence of the house penetrates the walls and it feels like no one else exists in the world but just the two of us.

"What do you think heaven is like, momma?"

The words stop me dead in my tracks because this moment is surreal (and I'm sure I'll say the wrong thing), as she combs my long strands systematically and somehow at the same time erratically. Because my talking falters, she stops her movement for just a breath. She swings my head to meet her gaze, and grabs my face with both of her hands, then sloppily kisses me on my nose.

"I love you, momma."

I can't get the words out, but I want to tell her: this. This is heaven, sweet girl.

Stop.
Photographed by Rebecca Adams
The little moments of the day? They count. They matter. Use them. Take them with you. They matter.

Hope y'all have a great weekend!

xoxo, k.

10.16.2014

Day 16: Spreading the Love (and we're halfway there!)

In the spirit of the #encouragedailycampaign, as well as the fact that WE'RE HALFWAY THERE in this crazy 31 day journey, I thought it only necessary to share some of the love. There are amazing writers participating in this challenge, and I thought I'd share some of the series that I'm thoroughly enjoying.


**In her Breaking Religion series, Liz pretty much speaks her heart aloud despite what "real Christians" should say. Her words speak truth in a way that's real and honest, and in some of her posts, I actually feel like she's looked right at me and said, "Hey you! This is you, right?" Except that she would have said it much more eloquently because she's a fantastic writer.

**Jen of Growing in Faith just makes my heart happy. Her sweet disposition paired with her amazing adventures in Africa are such a great read! She even did a vlog today, which actually makes my hands start to sweat just thinking about it. Good. For. Her!

**As you know, I'm all about encouragement in these parts, and the good news is that there are so many women out there writing about this very thing. Crystal is doing a series of 31 Encouraging Conversation, and I just have to tell you all, that if you need a pick me up? She's your girl. And so is every person she talks to along the way. If I had to pick a favorite, I think it would be today's post: Encouragement for the Hard Days.

**Melissa over at  Frugal Creativity is doing a month of Five Minute Free Writes, linking up with Five Minute Friday's Kate Motaung. Melissa has such a sweet heart, and this month she is sharing her triumphs and hardships each and every day. She has also been a great encouragement to me here :)

**There are so many other series that I would like to read/see, but y'all, there's just not enough time in the day! You can always go to the Write 31 Days site to find more great writing this year. If you'd like to check out other series I've got my eye on, head on over to my trusty Pinterest page for 31 dayers this year.  I have no doubt it will be added to as the month goes on, so keep stopping by!

I hope y'all are having a fantastic week! I'm headed to a women's conference this weekend, but I will still be here writing!

xoxo, k.

10.15.2014

Day 15: A Cup of Coffee

On any given weekday morning, this is where you'll find me...


A cup of coffee. My bible. And recently? A glowing pumpkin and a fire. Because it's October, and I can :)

To know my undeniable obsession love for coffee is to know me. Y'all. I need coffee. For some reason in graduate school (I know. It makes no sense.), I decided I no longer needed to consume this necessary beverage of life, but other than that short stint of insanity, you can pretty much bet that on any given day at any time between 5 am and 10 am, there will be a cup of joe within arm's reach.

Today's challenge is sweet and simple: Do you know my type? It doesn't have to be coffee, and it doesn't need to be this morning, but friends, it's the little things. And sometimes the best way to encourage others, is just to notice those things.

To the mom sitting begrudgingly in the drop off line: Mrs. Smith, who stands outside each morning welcoming your children? She loves her some Starbucks/Peets/Seattle's Best/Dunkin/generic hot goodness. You get the point. Imagine her delight when your kiddos run up to her with a $5 gift card or a steaming hot pumpkin spice latte.

You know that one co-worker that just can't seem to put a smile on her face before 10 am? Imagine her bliss if you notice her go-to breakfast of choice is a blueberry muffin. Talk about turning that frown upside down.
And that's what this comes down to: To encourage others is to notice the small and intricate details of their hearts, whether it be a large cup of coffee, or just a verbal affirmation of "You're doing a great job!" All of us respond in different ways, but I guarantee you this: we change the perceptions of stranger's hearts when we give to them. It's life-changing.

xoxo, k.

Don't forget to share the encouragement! You can usually find me somewhere on social media (see those pretty buttons up on the top right?) using #encouragedailycampaign. Share your stories!

10.14.2014

Day 14: Courage

Courage [kur-ij, kuhr-]: the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc. without fear; have the courage of one's convictions, to act in accordance with one's beliefs, especially in spite of criticism. (source)

**

"I just don't get it." We sat each across from one another: me, on the love seat I'd sat on so many times before, and her, on the opposite side of the room on the couch, curled up with a hot cup of tea. The conversation had been friendly, but I could feel the tone of her voice. And as our eyes met, I'm pretty sure we were both aware we were crossing into unchartered territories. Her words, though she didn't know it at the time, they cut me.

We were talking about religion. More specifically, a not so great experience of one of my dearest friend's, growing up in a strict dogmatic Christian church. At this specific moment in time, I knew I believed in Jesus Christ, and I was pretty sure I was going to heaven. But seven years later, how I wish I had known where I would be sitting today. I would have spoken up. I would have had the necessary and tough conversation with her. I know how we stand with one another now, and she loves me regardless of our differences. But we know how God is with His timing. His plans.

She doesn't know it, but I think so often of that conversation. It has molded me in some ways. Until this year, I have stayed relatively silent in my walk with Christ. Often feeling like I've led two lives: one in awe of the love of Christ, and the other hiding my true identity and living in the world as if I was oblivious. In fact, it was this very discussion that has kept me from living the true life that I've been searching for. Not just this one instance, but so many over the years.

"I just don't get it."

"I just don't understand why you believe."

"I just don't like those Christians."

"Please don't tell me you're one of those."

"You're too _____ to be a Christian." (smart, intelligent, fun. You name it.)

Each time they were said, they stung more deeply and made me question. It's amazing what power words have.

But this silence I've maintained? It's hindered me from blessings. It's kept others from blessings. Because I was afraid.

This has been the driving force of this 31 days. It was time for me to step out of comfort and step into courage. The thing about courage, is that sometimes it's not there for you to grasp, to hold onto as you walk through the door of fear. But what you'll often find is that it's there waiting for you on the other side. It's not that we always need courage to get us through the hard things, but rather knowing that there is something better, something for the greater good of all waiting for us as we move through.

Where does this come into my Encourage Daily Campaign? Why courage to encourage? Because the courage gets us there. The hope of something better gives us courage. Without these two things: hope and courage, we are simply not able to be encouragers of others.



Friends, have courage. Have faith. THAT is what inspires us to encourage others.

xoxo, k.

**
Last year, I had the honor of attending a women's conference in which Jill Briscoe was the keynote speaker. Y'all. That women has more knowledge in the tip of her pinky finger than any other person I've met. And with her wisdom came a Mighty love for Jesus, humor, and a little self-deprecation. Who can't relate to that? Today's post was inspired by what she taught. Thank you, Jill!

10.13.2014

Day 13: Write a Letter

Since starting our encourage daily adventure just 12 days ago, I've already been inspired and encouraged so very much by readers and those around me, and especially by the other writers conquering the month of October with the discipline of daily writing. It has been amazing! I thought I'd share a story of encouragement I came across, and hope that we are inspired to do the same for our friends and family.

A friend has a big event coming up. Like life changing event in the works, here. Her best friend secretly contacted all of her friends and family, recruiting them to write a letter. Of inspiration, of encouragement, and just an overwhelming sense of, "Way to go!"

Y'all. We're talking hundreds of letters here! Can you imagine? Having a huge day coming up in your life, one that could make you or break you, and then receive hundreds of letters of encouragement?? How awesome is that!?


So, if you haven't written that letter, or contacted that friend that you haven't talked to in awhile, do it. Remember unexpected blessings? They're hidden in the places of unanticipated encouragement given to others.

Here's to another great week! Happy Monday, friends!

xoxo, k.

10.12.2014

Day 12: A Day of Rest (2)

May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal encouragement and good hope by grace, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good work and word.
2 Thessalonians 2: 16-17

Happy Sunday, y'all!

xoxo, k.

background source

10.11.2014

Day 11: Simple Saturdays

Have you ever said a word so much that it begins to sound funny to you? Like, you start to think you may have actually completely made up the word to begin with, and it never actually existed? Since we're on day 11, that word for me right now is encourage.  Or any version of it. Encouragement. Encouraging. You get the point.

Since it's Saturday, let's just keep things simple.

ENCOURAGE

embolden

hearten

inspire

reassure

restore

strengthen

comfort

ENERGIZE

fortify

exhilarate

praise

refresh

revitalize

revivify

Oh, revivify!! I think that's my favorite!

Hope y'all are having a lovely Saturday. It's a dreary day, and I plan on cozying up next to the fire with a big 'ol cup of tea. Happy Weekend!

xoxo, k.

Need more encouragement?

**
On a completely random note, if you're looking for how dinner time looks for other families, go no further than here! My friend Mindi is a rockstar, and she's sharing what she found when she asked other moms: What does meal time look like in your house?

10.10.2014

Day 10: Five Minute Friday: Care

Every week, a whole heap of fabulous women get together and write for Five Minute Friday. This month is no different, despite my 31 Day Writer's Challenge. Today's prompt is...

Care

Go.

Before the sun rose this morning, tears began to fall for the wee little boy upstairs. I'm not sure why, as he's gotten better at sleeping more recently, but today it was dark when he decided to wake for the day.

As his tears fell, we gently rocked back and forth till his sobs slowed to a whimper, and we were able to go downstairs to start our day.

These things we do while no one is watching. No one could possibly care; the little somethings that come so naturally, that we do without thinking because we have no choice.

The thing about it is, these things do matter. The small nuances throughout your day, the little sways, the little whispered assurances, the quiet moments of a dark Friday morning. They matter. And though you don't see it at the time, these are the moments that count. The ones that aren't seen or heard by anyone but just the two of you.

Stop.


I can't tell y'all what a relief these Friday mornings are! Just having a word to go on is such a break from the pressure of openly writing every day. That being said, I hope you'll pop over to my 31 days page to enjoy some of the 31 Days of Encouragement.

Happy Friday, y'all!

xoxo, k.

10.09.2014

Day 9: Pay It Forward

A couple of months ago, there was a story in the news about a record breaking "pay it forward" chain at a Starbucks drive through. The thought of paying it forward in that way, in actually paying for the person behind you had definitely crossed my mind before, but it was something that I was probably a bit too afraid to do. Too fearful of what others around might think of me if I stuck my neck out for my neighbor.

**
Background source
Even though I'm technically a full time stay at home mom right now, I still try to get a few hours when I can practicing as a Speech-Language Pathologist. This usually happens on the weekend, and as a means to get out of the house before the kids get up (which would invariably end up delaying my start to the day at least another hour), I tend to get up with the sun and get straight to work.

Fortunately for me, this often means I grab a nice hot chicken biscuit from my favorite drive-through on the way. Because why not?

One early Saturday morning in particular, there happened to be a line in the drive through despite it being 6:30 am.  Behind me was a couple in a minivan. They looked worn out, and something struck me so suddenly, I almost hit the car in front of me.

Pay for their breakfast.

I shook my head and tears immediately came to my eyes, because there was no reason for me to have this thought. It was so overwhelming and consuming that I actually feared looking in the rearview mirror; I thought for sure they knew what was going on in my car.

Pay for their breakfast.

Now, I had a five dollar bill, a handful of ones, and a bit of change in my car. Well, Lord, I thought, I'll ask, but there's no way I'll have enough cash on hand to pay for their meal. Even as I pulled up to the window, I had no doubt the cashier would either deny me or call me crazy. With that, I was convinced I wouldn't have enough cash, which would of course mean I would then have to drive away with my tail between my legs.

I will never forget the boy's face.  Blond hair, blue eyes. Smile broad across his face.

"Wait, you want to what?"

In disbelief that I had actually muttered the words aloud, I had to repeat them.

"I'd like to pay for their meal? The couple behind me? I'm not sure if I have enough, but I'd like to give you what I can."

He stared at me for what seemed like an eternity.

"Well, Ok. Wait. Hold on. You really want to pay for someone else? Are you sure? I can't believe this. I mean it's awesome. But I can't believe this. Hold on."

I wanted to take him by the shoulders, and say YES! PLEASE! YOU'RE KILLING ME! I AM SO FAR OUT OF MY COMFORT ZONE I ACTUALLY FEEL LIKE I'M DYING. PLEASE!

But I didn't. Because that would have been off color and completely beside the point.

And then it hit me. The blessing wasn't just for the couple behind me, or even for me. This sweet boy. What if obeying God at His word changed the way this boy sees strangers and how he gives to others? He gave me the total with tears in his eyes.

"Eleven dollars and 97 cents."

I looked down. I had exact change.

**

Have you done this? Is this easy for you? That's amazing, and I pray for your courage and strength. But listen. A smile I can do. I can even offer a few words of encouragement. But to outwardly and forwardly offer someone something they didn't ask for? To anonymously bless someone out in public, without the computer screen shielding me from the needs of our brothers and sisters? That terrifies me. I have a feeling that some of you feel the same way. That you want to do the right thing, the righteous thing, but the act of putting your neck out there is utterly terrifying.

In Luke 6:38, Jesus tells us this: "Give, and it will be given to you; a good measure -- pressed down, shaken together, and running over -- will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you."

In other words, generosity multiplies generosity.

Encouragement and generosity aren't necessarily about an end goal, or a meeting one specific need. Sharing yourself, whether it's in the form of a random meal or sharing your heart with the stranger sitting next to you on the train, starts something. It starts something, and we're never sure of the end result because it continues to multiply over and over and over again.

Today? Start the trend. Make the first move. You never know where you'll end up, or who you'll meet along the way.

xoxo, k.

Need more inspiration today? Head on over to Inspire Me Mondays to get your fill!

10.08.2014

Day 8: Teaching Our Kids to Encourage

I don't know, maybe it's the eternal optimist in me, but I really like to root for the underdog. Like, really. And while we're at it, if we're watching a football game and I'm not rooting for a specific team? I secretly always cheer for the offense.

You read that right. I cheer for both teams. I know that someone has to win, but TV folks are so good at pulling me us in! The Olympics? Don't even get me started. Mr. Kuda just knows that there will be two weeks of me sitting in front of the TV with a tissue box. I get invested.

But I digress.

I'd like to think this as a positive personality trait of mine, but the older I get, I'm starting to see that, good or bad, it just isn't the norm. It breaks my heart to see more and more stories about bullies, about adults making fun of others, and everyone looking out for their own gain. It can be disheartening to think about how we brought our kids into this pessimistic messed up world of negativity and ugliness.

Now, if parenthood was a marathon, I'm well aware that I'm pretty much just finishing up my first mile. However. I do know what I want for my kids as they get older. And that's kindness, to love Jesus, and to cheer others on.

Encouragement. If I'm going to write on it for 31 days, I should at least attempt to describe some of the things we're doing at home to teach our children what it means to root for the other team. Even if they're not rooting for us.

Since moving into our "forever home," family members who have stowed away my childhood belongings for sixteen a few years finally had the chance to load off the remaining boxes. It's been fun, going through all of the stuff I had saved in high school and college. A lot of it I threw away, but the kids clung onto this one thing, and I just haven't had the heart to throw it away.


A pom pom.

So seemingly innocuous, but something that really started the encouragement train in this house. There's something innate in these kiddos that makes them want to cheer others on. So I ran with it. I think it's important to note that, of course we encourage our kids every day: you went potty! You put on your shoes! You ate all your dinner! My focus here is to take it to the next level... Out of our front door and into the community.

Being a cheerleader yourself teaches them to be cheerleaders.
When they dance? We go full on "Go mommy! Go mommy!" It's contagious. But they won't know how if you don't start. Be their cheerleader, and they'll cheer on others. And that being said...

Be someone else's cheerleader.
Even if they're strangers. The thing about it is, that unless we show our kids what we're trying to teach them, it just won't stick. This works really well at the playground. I may look silly, but my kids don't see it that way. Cheer other kids on. Tell them they're fast or daring. Even if it doesn't occur to your kiddos in the moment, it will catch on.

Use words they understand while encouraging.
I stole this from Sesame Street. Elmo likes to start his sentences with, "I like the way you... " Miss E, I like the way you shared with your brother. Mr. C, I like the way you waited your turn. We've been using this language for some time, but we're starting to see the fruits of it. Every so often, I'll catch Miss E telling her brother, "I love the way you just smiled at me, buddy!" It's heart warming.

Attach emotions with encouraging words.
"Miss E, when you told Mr. C how much you enjoyed his smile, it made his heart so happy!" There's an organic sincerity to the way we talk about our feelings and the encouraging words that go along with them. It's empowering to even the two year old. He beams when he hears these things.

That's just a start, and I want to be clear about one things before I close: not all things are rainbows and sunshine in our house. I make mistakes, Mr. Kuda makes mistakes, and the kiddos make mistakes. Thank goodness! But you've got to start as you mean to go on, and I think we've started something good.

What do you do to encourage your kids to, well, encourage? What has worked? What hasn't? I'd love some suggestions! In the meantime, grab a pom pom and go root someone on :)

xoxo, k.

 
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