You’re already so loved.

Part of my goals for today is spread this beautiful message by Sarah Bessey.

Please do take a moment to read it. Please take a moment to process the words. Please take a moment to consider how loved you are no matter your circumstances.

Envisioning Vs. Reality and How I finally used up an entire lip gloss.

Something I’ve learned through various relocating in the past 5 years that is still ringing true is that some practical dreams need to planned out in reality. Don’t get me wrong, there should always be some shoot for the stars type dreams in one’s arsenal, but when it deals with home decorating and living space, a true vision and careful thought process is quintessential. “Measure a ten times, cut once” – because measuring twice still hasn’t been enough.

My parents recently bought a sectional after dreaming about a new couch for ages. I helped them sell their old ones, they spoke greatly of the one to come, and then it finally came and was not ideal at all. Did you know there is a way to make microfiber look like synthetic leather? Yeah, I didn’t either. And apparently, neither did my parents. They were thinking a soft to the touch material. They also measured out the entirety of their living room only to find that while the new sectional fit, it swallowed the room whole. My tiny little mother looks like an ant on the behemoth.

Similarly, I get a bit starry eyed and hasty when it comes to home furnishings and organizational items. I’m also a magpie of a person, desiring whatever catches light to my eyes. I plotted out a closet and had it built from scratch only to find the high shelving I added on doesn’t do me much good and my super average height means I must tippy toe to hang things on the closet rods. Did I maximize space? Yes. Was it practical in the long run? Not really…

I’ve contemplated buying a smaller new/used desk to replace my current desk and I’m just a little too sobered by my not-so-successful plans to move forward with it. I also don’t want to be frivolously spending on bigger ticket items just to deal with reselling or moving things out of the way over and over.

I glance around my room and I still own too much. The too much being a weight that could prevent me from my best potential. I recently took a picture of a tinted lip gloss as a memorial to committing something and following all the way through. I used it up last friday, to the last little bit, and it made me feel good. My whole life I’ve very rarely used up my art supplies, makeup, lotions, or nail polishes to the point of them being truly empty. I leave them sitting there and occasionally grab things, sometimes finding in dismay that I’m discarding it due to an expiration date.

Maybe I preoccupy too much time and energy on the idea of newness and adding instead of finishing and fully enjoying. It’s something I’m still trying to figure out about myself as I practice mindfulness.

So in the meantime, that desk in question can wait, and I am freeing myself up from the excessive belongings, because that’s where I need to start. The farther I dig into this literal mess, the more I see how cloudy the inside of me is. I am a lot of ideas in waiting and not a lot of seeing things all the way through. But I’m working on it.

Pokemon Go and Productively Avoiding My Room

I know people may disagree but I find Pokemon Go to be an AWESOME thing and I just joined the bandwagon last week. I’ve caught over 50 pokemon and leveled up to 7 and joined Team Mystic!

I keep reading all these stories about it helping people leave their homes, socialize, and be inclusive of those society may not be as connected with. Things like how the United States alone has walked 2 million miles collectively in their poke-pursuits and stories of children with Autism and Aspergers connecting to others on the playground in ways they hadn’t before. People with depression are finding comfort in gaming, people with no motivation to exercise are moving and walking great lengths. So yeah, I’m pro Go!

In other news, I’ve Konmari’d a good 20% of the house at this point which is me productively avoiding progress in my room. Last week was a bit crazy with the living room remodel coming to a screeching halt with a sectional that is deceivingly “microfiber” but synthetic leather. Basically, there was a mix up in the definition of microfiber and my parents were duped into getting a synthetic leather couch made of microfiber material when they told the furniture people they did not want a leather type couch. Fingers crossed that is resolved today in our favor since the business they bought it from has stringent return policies.

It was an honest mistake but it also shows me my parents are getting older and while they are still very capable people, sales people and others may try to take advantage of them or they may not necessarily rationalize things correctly. To be fair, the average person wouldn’t have been so trusting and would have maybe asked the sales floor guy to do some more explaining. But, in my parent’s minds, microfiber is a soft fabric type material, they didn’t understand that a material can be transformed by heat and embossing to look much different. It’s a mess, and it’s something my brother and I have stepped up to try to help resolve. Their heart and my brother and mine, we all hope for the best and hope our attitudes reflect Christ in all of this, as we do wish to get an exchange worked out, but still wish to explain our situation fairly.

To end on a happier note, I have a theme picked out for my SIL’s baby shower, and hopefully invites will go out tomorrow!

Random Career Thought

In my heart of hearts, I know that I thrive under creative environments where I need to problem solve, bring new light, or add an aesthetic an an idea so that words and pictures cohesively communicate more than what’s there.

There are many days I shake my head and wonder why I’m not where I want to be yet, but then I see that what I do, I truly do love. I just am not ideally compensated for it yet. My career fulfills my basic financial needs AND grows me as a businesswoman, I just need to make my potential and my paycheck soar.

In that vein of thinking, there are two ways to solve this problem ; abandon what intrinsically makes you thrive for what makes you a better living, or keep finding ways to make what thrives you work to a sound income.

I’m aware now that doubting myself does not make for a better outcome in either area. I need to fuel my potential and keep my eyes open to opportunity, that’s all.

I am good enough, and if I’m not there yet, I will get there. I can’t let go of what gives me purpose in search of something else. So, how hard am I going to work to get where I want to be?

One Last Hoorah

I paused for a moment last week and thought about how blessed I am this year. If everything works out, I will see three of my closest friends that live far away.

I got to see B and her family in Arkansas.
I got to see N and her family before their long distance relocating to Connecticut.
I get to see H and our mutual friend A and have fun with them this fall.

And, hopefully, fingers crossed and heart longing, I will get to see M and his family in Massachusetts next year, and maybe make a pit stop in Connecticut to see N again.

My friend, N, just had her second child this April and I was sad that I probably wouldn’t get to meet the newest member of her family before their move from the pacific northwest to east coast. As a military family, they have been stretched so much with this moving process, and I can only imagine the difficulty of traveling across the country with a car loaded to the max, a mischievous cat, a preschooler, and 3 month old baby. They rented out their home, were ready to hit the road, and then her hubby was extended a week at their current location. Her husband never even got time off to help pack up the house, and they had to live in a hotel another week, cutting into their travel time.

Needless to say, when I found out in their crazy move they managed to plan a few days in California, I was ecstatic. I’m grateful that N and her Mom and siblings so graciously shared their limited time and let me come over and hang out with them all.

I love being honorary auntie to N’s kids and it’s so fun watching them grow. Her daughter is counting and picking up simple addition all on her own, and she is a riot to watch imaginative play as she makes the best sound effects and scenarios for her little figures and dolls. I’ve seen her go from forming basic phrases to chattering away. She’s going to be so smart and make friends easily when she gets to be school aged. The little one is the easiest baby ever, and coos more than any baby I’ve ever met. He is all smiles and so alert. He intently stares at intricate things and I think he might be attracted to art later and have an attention to detail like his Momma.

Our last hoorah included many laughs and hugs. “I’m only a couple hours from Boston and New York!,” she teased, “and we have a lot of shopping and exploring to do when you visit!”

Being Still

Life has been pretty quiet as of late, and it’s wonderful. I’ve got some fun things on the horizon (helping my family redecorate the living room, planning a baby shower for my sister in law, working on more KonMari) but nothing particularly stressful.

I live with bouts of high functioning anxiety and before I really paused to identify and address it, I just thought I was busy and that being busy was good. Busy meant I was purposeful. Busy meant I wasn’t lazy. Busy meant I had worth to others because I was helping. I now know that being busy 24/7 is a mess for my body, and that my thyroid issues of the past were in part to lack of sleep and the stress of busying through life. I also know that my worth has NOTHING to do with human opinion. And retrospectively, duh, God patterned a day of rest for us. It is good to rest and be still.

I currently don’t have any real commitments besides church ministry and going to my art lessons on Friday. My schedule is wide open and it’s weird. I won’t have much to do with the non profit until the beginning of next year now that our main event is over. And, for the summer, I’ve decided not to do the optional bible study group.

How am I handling this extra time and less commitment? I don’t know. It’s weird. It’s freeing but also strange. Some days I just listen to music and get the little stuff done and call it a day. Other days I’m a bit more purposeful, but I am being rather ‘lazy’ by Laura standards right now.

How is it translating? 

– I am pushing myself harder at work, really testing my limits and seeing positive results. I’m full speed and recoup at home knowing I’m not rushing to something else.

– I am able to use the quiet less rushed morning to acknowledge God’s goodness and start my day with a thankful and focused heart.

– I have a better vision of what my day, week, and month looks like.

– I am more available to help loved ones even in small ways. Letting my dad use the car, being home when my brother drops by when he’s in town, random skyping sessions with friends to help them through their hard day, etc.

– I feel less trapped in a schedule that is always demanding.

– I am less moody. I have more time to process things, and I’m starting to see how short I become and how easy it is to not own up a bad attitude when life is crazy.

There are things I need to put into practice during this time, but I want them to happen organically. Firstly, I have fallen hard off the home cooking healthy food wagon, mostly taking the convenient road instead. And I need to get back on that wagon. Secondly, I need to add back a devotion filled time with God outside of Bible reading (which I hadn’t been doing all that faithfully outside of my Bible study) and I’d love to see that translate into more Bible art journaling and studying more systematic theology and apologetics. I want to apply the studying tools and techniques from my study into my personal reading since I am guilty of trying to read the Bible like literature if I don’t take the time to reset and pray for discernment.

This has been a ‘mind detox.’ And it’s proving to do a lot of good.

Hacks for Ladies on the Go

Are you a frequent flyer, over scheduled parent, or career gal? All of these situations call for long days and limited access to items for freshening up. I’m going to throw what knowledge I have from traveling and being a career gal your way in case it helps you out.

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Toilet Seat Protecters – Oil Blotters on the Go

Please use discretion with this hack. If you’re in a stinky gas station bathroom that looks run down and dirty, I would not suggest this. But, if you’re in a reputable place, one that looks clean, take a sheet out of the dispenser, blot with the part that goes towards the rear of the seat in a light pressing or tapping motion, and then go ahead and use it to do your business or throw it in the toilet and flush. You’ll be surprised at how efficiently it grabs oil and excess makeup. I’m always wowed. Maybe not conventional? But pretty darn cool! Instant refresh!


Hair tie/Rubber Band – Waist Band Expander

Feeling bloated or just need to feel more comfy? Take a hair tie (preferred) or thicker rubber band and pull it halfway through your button loop on your pants. Take both ends and hook it over your button, if you want to tighten it more, loop it around twice. Zip up and you should have a little more room. This may not work for pants that have a fussy zipper that likes to descend all by itself, but I’d say it works for 90% of my pants.

 

Tiny Finger Taps – Eye Refresher

Take both hands and use tips of your fingers to gently tap across the eye area. Imagine how you tap your fingers against a table when bored, but more gently and under your eyes. This tapping motion helps improve lymphatic movement and blood flow to the area to help with dark circles and puffiness. You only need to do this for 30-60 seconds. It’s a good exercise to do daily and it doesn’t cost a thing. Click here to see a short video of it.


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Hand Lotion – Hair Tamer

I learned this hack from my friend Joelle. She applies hand lotion and then uses her moisturized hands to sweep the top of her hair or the unruly strands that like to do their own thing. You aren’t applying it like hair gel, just to be clear. You’re just using that little bit that doesn’t fully absorb into your skin to help with fly-aways.

 

Purell

Hand Sanitizer – Your Deo in a Pinch

18 hour flight? Forgot to pack deodorant? Ran out of the house and forgot to apply some deodorant first? You can temporarily keep odor at bay with hand sanitizer. I don’t recommend this often, but you gotta do what you gotta do, right? This will help rid the bacteria and it’s the bacteria with sweat that makes pits stink.


Wash your bangs – Overall Hair Refresh

Maybe humidity got you really sweaty or you thought your hair could go one more day without shampooing and it’s just looking limp or greasy. If you have bangs, hold/tie back your hair and take some hand soap and rinse your bangs clean. You might look a little crazy doing this in a public bathroom, so wait until the bathroom is clear. After washing, “wring” what you can and then use paper towels to dry those bangs. On the occasion I’ve had to do this, it takes maybe a minute or two for my bangs to look completely dry. I usually wash my hair every other day, so on my off day, I start my morning routine by washing just my bangs in the sink with a shampoo bar. It really makes a difference in the overall appearance especially for people like me who have oily T zones.

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Small Muslin Drawstring Bag – Money Stash

This is the most effective thing I think I’ve ever thought up for travel or going out and not wanting to have a lot of money on hand. Take your money and fold it to fit the drawstring bag, if you have a larger drawstring you could theoretically put a credit card or gift card in there too. Draw the strings so the bag is closed. In front of a mirror, take the bag and place it above the cup of your bra in the strap area and pass the bag through both strings and pull to tighten it around your bra strap. Tuck the bag portion in your bra cup, close to where your arm hits it. This works best for more structured and larger bra cups, but it should work for any lady. For guys or ladies with very small cups or very fitted tops, you can try this method on a belt loop of your pants and tuck the bag inside your pants. It’s important to not put metal items in your drawstring bag if you’re going through the airport security line, but I’ve never had a problem using this method with cash and going through the body scanners.

Moments as Souvenirs

The last few years, as the friends closest to me move states away, I realize that the object of my vacations are moments together rather than sightseeing. Since everyone’s so scattered it has been fun to see their new haunts and homes and see what their state is all about.

This past trip was a long time coming. It’s been three years since I’ve seen this best friend and family (I did see her briefly last year when she flew out alone for her grandfather’s memorial.) I pretty much have best friends and then acquaintances, so I don’t mean to have her sound like she’s the only one that matters, but sometimes in life, you are so close to someone you are practically sisters/family. That’s the case here. She pursued a friendship with me during a dark time in my teens where I lost hope in people. From there, I stuck by her side through some heavy stuff in her life. We’ve seen the worst and best of each other, and because of that, we have a bond that is unbreakable. And as her family grew, I was at each birth and am an honorary auntie to her three precious boys.

Her youngest wasn’t even one when they moved, and I was nervous about how long it would take to warm up to me. We skype and my friend mentions me often, but three years is a long time for young kids. When they picked me up, the younger 2 were there and staring/adoring me. I had to stifle a cheesy grin and pretend I didn’t notice it. They wanted to reacquaint with me and that was taking in every detail of what I looked like. The littlest one was talkative and chattered with me right away. The middle smiled but was soft spoken the first day. The eldest was in bed by the time I got to their place, but the next morning, he hugged me and it was like old times.

God has been working great things in this family and it was so neat to just be a part of their week. All of them are doing so well there, and I can’t even selfishly wish they’d move back. I know they are where they should be and they flourish here. I am so proud of the life my best friend and her husband have made for themselves here.

The sweetest parts of the trip were all of us in the car getting eldest brother to school and praying all together before they got to the school. And all of us gathered, mommy, daddy, the kids, and me – holding hands and praying together at bedtime. And of course, hearing three little voices tell me throughout the day, “I love you, Auntie Laura.”

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Making lego gummies and gummy bears with Auntie Laura.

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At the waterfall fifteen minutes from their home. Yeah, it’s crazy. There’s water everywhere here.

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Pedis with the bestie!

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Frozen custard – A local favorite!

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Another spot not even 15 minutes away with gorgeous waterfalls.

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The rock formations and lushness around it just makes it even more breathtaking.

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So much green! So much water!

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Turtle boy! One of the funniest moments! The youngest is such a goofball! He was playing in his carseat, collapsed in it all buckled in, and started walking around like a turtle.

It was hard to say goodbye the last day. I know I’ll be back, but I also know an annual trip isn’t going to happen, so it’s bittersweet. My best friend and I talk nearly everyday though. We stay close mostly through messaging each other and social media and skyping.

I came back feeling really rested, really loved, and full of love.❤

 

Mourn with Those Who Mourn

Following the tragic mass shooting in Orlando, what should people do? Mourn with those who mourn.

This isn’t a platform to talk about gun control or whatever else people want to stand on a soapbox for; it’s a time to remember those whose lives were lost and to lift up those who were injured in our thoughts and prayers. It’s time to be in great sorrow, to show love and compassion, and to remember.

(Romans 12: 9-15) Love in Action

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 1

You are attractive. Incredibly attractive.

Ladies, when’s the last time you thought about how attractive you are? Are you disgusted or accepting of your image of you? Or perhaps you know you are and love it?

I think in a world that wants us to turn heads with body language and sex appeal, or find approval of ourselves through others’ opinions, it’s important to step back and see your attractiveness in your own eyes.

Look at your body, and think of how incredible it is. You can lose or gain weight to better your health. Your body is able to stretch to grow a baby or flex some mighty muscles. Whether you are tall curvy all over, petite and slender, or some other combination, your form is womanly without trying. Your body is powerful and provocative without ever showing any of it off. Your hair, eye, and skin color? All of that is an awesome combination God picked out for you and is part of what makes you unique. There is a specialness in having your grandmother’s eyes and your dad’s nose.

Think of what you’re attracted to when you’re thinking of your boyfriend or potential date material. What is conventional and what isn’t? More than likely, you don’t just like someone for conventional attractiveness. If the idea of tall, dark, and handsome makes you giggle and roll your eyes, then why do you think you need to be some idealized creature? You probably had non-physical traits in there too, didn’t you? Maybe you like someone with a good sense of humor. Maybe you like someone who is confident and fearless. Maybe you like humbleness or sensitivity. Did you throw in common interests? Maybe they need to be fluent in Marvel and DC comics. Perhaps they need to love pizza as dearly as you do. Did they maybe need to share a sense of adventure for the outdoors? Think of how it is not only the physical traits that make you attracted to others. Think of how others likewise see you as a multifaceted person with interests and passions that also connect you with them. Think of how unique you are and how special it is when there is a common bond.

Let’s take a moment to examine how you project yourself. What do you want to say about you, and how do you want that affecting your allurement? Perhaps you are mindful of your vivacity. You’re loud and animated and you love it and they have to love it too. Or perhaps your passion is spiritual and that is a large priority that you project to potential suitors – they know you are firm in what you believe. Perhaps you are nurturing and you show warmth and care and encourage growth in others and you find that someone with that trait works best so you can be more effective as a couple. Do you consciously put anything out there, looking to find someone that appreciates that projection? Are you aware of how you present yourself to the world? Everyone has something great to project, but sometimes we don’t make it mindful or do so boldly.

Lastly, think of what you personally like about yourself. There is always something, and ideally, there should be many things you can think of because you are truly awesome! Accept that others may think these things are pretty cool too, because more than likely, they do!

You are attractive. You are magnetic to the right people. You have control over what you project. You are worthwhile not because others say so, but because you know so. Don’t ever let self-doubt tell you otherwise. You don’t ever need someone’s approval to know so. Know that you are attractive as you are, outside of other people’s opinions.

You are magnificent and beautiful just being who you are, and being true to that attracts just the right people for you.