February 26, 2015

Halfway to 35

Hellllooo!  I am still alive and well in the absence of social media, if you can believe it :)  Yes, I know, it’s crazy to think life goes on and can be lived just as well, if not better, without it.  Remarkable, ha?!

17.5 days ago, precisely, I started a little 35 day journey of writing, reading and fasting.  Writing about whatever comes to me in the first 45 or so minutes after waking up and before little Zoey gets up.  Reading through the book of Joshua.  And fasting from social media.  I have received texts, emails and phone calls from people cheering me on and asking me how it’s going.   So today, I thought I would share with you a few things that I am learning.

The first thing is this.  God has to be first in my life.  It’s no coincidence He asked me to get up before my whole family and spend time with Him.  First.  I’m not going to lie, what it means to have God first is huge and scary and I actually get a little uncomfortable writing it down right now.  Because what does that even mean, how does it really work and do people think that I am crazy?! But instead of going into freak out mode, I am going to just continue making Him first each morning and not worry too much about it.  He has definitely spoken to me, inspired me and challenged during these mornings and that, my friends, has been remarkable and gives me a thirst for more.

Second.  I am learning to live a bit more in the present.  Living for right now, for today.  Listen.  I actually cannot stand the clichés of “one day at a time” or “be present” or “present over perfect” and the list goes on.  Sometimes I think people post those quotes and actually have no clue what it means to live them out (ahem, guilty as charged).  Because I would argue that 99% of human beings struggle with this.  Actually, I change my mind.  100% of human beings.  Living right now, for today, without worrying about tomorrow or the next day is borderline impossible.  At least for me.  But for some unexpected reason, God is slowly (double emphasis on the word slowly) showing me how to do this.  One example I’ll give you is this.  We recently took our first trip to Chicago.  With a newborn.  For a  work conference.  Sandwiched and squeezed in between visiting friends and family.  My brain couldn’t help but go into the stress of it all.  How will we get to Brenda’s house?  When will I pump?  (sorry, TMI)  What if Zoey doesn’t sleep?  What if I don’t sleep?  And the list went on and on and on.  And God intervened, like he usually does, but this time I was listening and hearing.  And he stopped me.  And said, Ann, today.  That’s all you have to face. Just today.  And I’m with you today and my mercies are new each morning.

So instead of STRESSING about today and tomorrow and the next day, I started to live today, appreciate the  moments and be thankful for them.  I remember nursing Zoey and having a couple of hours with her before visiting like 74 people over the course of 3 days and my mind started racing.  And then I stopped.  I soaked up that moment while nursing her and told her that we were going to have a mommy/daughter morning in the hotel.  We snuggled and played and laughed.  It’s quite amazing what happens when you just stop and change your thinking into the present moment you are in.  Needless to say, my days have been substantially different and noticeably better and more peaceful. 

And the third and final point I’ll share with you (I have many more, but, just giving you a little insight into what is happening!) is regarding my social media fast.  I literally have not been on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter or my blog in 17.5 days.

I would be a big fat liar if I told you I didn’t miss it.  I do feel disconnected.  And I do feel a little bit that I am missing out.  On what?  I guess just being a part of people’s lives cyberly (yes, I just made up that word and I’m pretty sure it’s going to be the word of 2015).  Or sharing pieces of my life.  Moments that I want to desperately communicate as I think a few words or a picture could inspire or help someone.

And with all that said, conversely, I do feel a little less handcuffed.  I am able to be more present.  My mind is clearer.  I go to bed earlier. (Before, I would go on Facebook before bed and next thing I knew, 30 dang minutes had passed!  People, sleep is precious when you have a newborn and I would literally lose 30 minutes, sometimes more, on Facebook when I should have been sleeping!)  It is making me that much more focused in these 35 days and does, absolutely, help me to pay more attention to real life.  I can’t say something crazy remarkable has happened but, I am still in the midst of the fast and going to forge ahead.

So there you have it, friends.  A little sneak peek into what God is doing and what I am learning.  I have about 8,000 words typed.  15 pages.  Many new thoughts, some messy, others inspiring and exciting.  A few clear takeaways.  Small triumphs of clarity for my life.  Awesome, intimate time with God.  Some disappointing mornings where I feel nothing, hear nothing.  Tired days (getting up at 6am often times makes for a delirious, emotional Ann…just as Rick…it’s super fun).  Purposeful mornings.  Confusing moments.  It’s awesome and I have to say, I am excited for the next17.5 days of this 35 day journey!

February 8, 2015

Thirty Five

Whoa. I am sitting on an airplane bordering panic attack (which I have never had in my life), throwing up and falling asleep. Normal.

Coming off of a weekend where thousands of women united with eyes wide open to see what God will do and ultimately, what we will do for God, I am super uncomfortable. Because over the last 3 days and 2 nights, God has asked me to do something. Something that is going to seem relatively easy to most of you, but extremely hard for me.

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He has asked me to fast.

Not from food (though that’s what I was secretly hoping).

But from social media.

And he’s asked me to get up every morning before Zoey wakes up and write.

For 35 days, precisely.

And it’s no coincidence that 35 days from this day is my 35th birthday. People, I can’t make this stuff up.

God calls people to go to scary, violent places in the world. They go.

God calls people to quit their jobs. They quit.

God calls people to fast from food. They fast.

God calls people to end relationships. They end them.

God calls people to adopt children. They adopt.

God calls people to leave their church job to join the secular world. They join.

God calls people to crazy, incredible places and spaces. And those who listen and follow Him get to be a part of something remarkable. Something they never intended for their life. And because they listened to God, they experienced His plan, His will and often, the fruits and blessings that blossom on the other side.

So being asked to fast from social media and get up 45 minutes earlier than my sweet newborn seems easy compared to the aforementioned, theoretical asks from God. It seems almost childish, trivial. Almost like an ask that is too small from God.

But people. It makes me uncomfortable and anxious and it’s big and weird. I don’t want to do it. I keep trying to tell myself that the calling He put on my heart is actually something I made up and that it’s not from Him and therefore, I really don’t need to do it. But, I know it’s not from me because if it were my fast, it would be a food fast with a selfish ulterior motive to lose weight.  Go ahead and laugh. It’s the truth. And I also know it’s not from me because getting up before Zoey? Writing? About what? Yeah, exactly.

A fast from social media?

Really God?

Do you realize that on February 16 I start a new job where my role is, more or less, director of social media? Ummmm. Yeah, so there’s that.

Do you realize, God, that I have a blog that millions of readers (okay, hundreds…what’s the difference anyways?) want to receive in their Facebook newsfeed from my Facebook newsfeed?

God, don’t you realize that I am fully addicted to social media which by definition means I can’t live without it? Oh, yeah. And there’s that, too.

And wake up before Zoey? You are crazy! I get like 5 hours of sleep on average and you want me to cut into that to spend time with you and write? Seriously, God, I think you have lost your mind.

Ugh.

I am kicking and screaming here. I don’t want to do this. But the words I keep hearing are “you don’t want to miss what I have for you.” And it also brings me to a point that was made this weekend at the If Gathering by Jennie Allen. Summarized, she talked about the day when we meet face-to-face with God and when we will see ALL the opportunities and plans He had for us and how sad it will be if we didn’t pursue those because we didn’t listen to Him. Because we weren’t brave.

I am not exactly sure why I have so much anxiety on this but one thing I do know is this: I am 1,000% fearful that I am going to do this and at the end of 35 days, on my 35th birthday, God will have said nothing and nothing will have changed. Or conversely, that God will ask me to do something even bigger than fasting from social media for 35 days. Or that He will reveal something about me that I don’t want to be revealed.

How awesome is my faith after coming off of a faith-filled women’s Christian conference?!

So. I am fearful. Already tired from the sleep I will lose. Annoyed that I won’t be able to maintain my addiction to beautiful images on Instagram.

Yep, this is my response to a seemingly easy call from God. But underneath the fear and anxiety and questioning God is a woman who heard hundreds, if not thousands of words from women leaders this past weekend at the If Gathering. Words that mattered, that changed me, that scared me and that made me closer to God. And words that distinctly said to be strong and courageous.

And so my leap of faith is this fast and morning writing thingy (because what else is it called?!). It’s my small, but obedient way of being strong and courageous. Here goes…

February 6, 2015

Valentine’s Day Decorations

Hey hey, happy Friday!  8 more days until Valentine’s Day and I am going to be sharing with you some of my Valentine’s Day finds.  From decorations to desserts, hopefully you’ll get a little inspiration for this lovely holiday.  xo

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Land of Nod faux leather pouf

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Land of Nod ombre garland

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Land of Nod Bonjour pillow (I have this in Zoey’s nursery…love!!)

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Pier One Love Letters (get it?!)

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West Elm pillow covers

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West Elm Pink Glassware

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Crate and Barrel heart garland

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Pottery Barn XO jewelry catch all

February 2, 2015

Dissecting the Design – Zoey’s Nursery Part Trois

Here we are with the last of our three-part series of dissecting the design of Zoey’s nursery…the details! In case you missed part un and part deux, you can find them here and here.  This final series shows some of the details of the sitting area of the space.  I have spent many of days and nights here already and I knew that would be the case going into this design.  So it had to be comfortable, functional and cute!  Take a look and as always, sources are listed below.

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1.  Land of Nod Bonjour Pillow
2.  Anthropologie coral and gold pillow
3.  World Market Bird Cage Picture Holder – I didn’t see it online but basically, World Market has SUCH cute stuff so check them out for your decorating needs for sure!
4.  RH Baby & Child Giraffe Print
5.  Vintage Flower Crates – I bought a couple at Jayson Home and a couple at a local flower shop…they were cheaper at the flower shop so check out your local florist and see if they have them/will sell them to you!
6.  Map of Paris – I bought this at a super duper cute boutique in Paris…I am sure there is something similar on Etsy?!?
7.  West Elm Graham Glider
8.  Anthropologie Pouf
9.  FLOR Square Tiles

January 18, 2015

Bloom Where You Are Planted. Literally.

I like Miami.

There, I said it.  And I’ll say it again.  I like Miami.

Almost one year ago, Rick and I committed to moving to Miami for his job and eventually, for mine as well.  I was ready for the move, for a change and a new challenge.  And we arrived and the first few weeks were filled with excitement and sunshine and butterflies.  You know, like the honeymoon phase of a new relationship.  Your eyes don’t even let you see anything but joy.  It’s sort of remarkable, that honeymoon phase, isn’t it?  You literally are blinded by love.

And then BAMMO! It starts to rain.  And then pour.  And lightning and thunderstorm.  While I am speaking (er, I mean writing) figuratively, this was also literal as we moved to Miami in the heart of hurricane season and it rained.  And rained.  And the clouds covered up all that puppy love I had.  And they never went away.

I don’t know if it was because I wouldn’t let them go away or, that the season was just truly cloudy with a side of crappy and an extra serving of loneliness.  And no dessert.

Either way, I borderline hated Miami.  Just ask my husband…I was super fun to be around…8 months pregnant…hormonal…hot and sweaty (and not the good-honeymoon-phase-kind of hot and sweaty…the literal kind of hot and sweaty that happens during hurricane season in Miami whilst super pregnant).  Without a home church.  Or friends.  Or dinner parties. Or even a house to host a dinner party.  Or wine (ahem, reference pregnant above).

And a husband who was working a ton in a new job.

And hot and sweaty.

And missing home.

And resenting the move.

And hot and sweaty.

Okay, I’m done.  You get it.  Miami and me?  Basically, I wanted a divorce the second the honeymoon phase ended.  It was hard to have hope.  Or to like Miami. Or to pretend to be happy as an act of “see, honey, I am adaptable and I like new challenges and I know God will see us through.” I wanted to conquer that act but actually couldn’t because I’m not an actress.  Plus, I wear my emotions all over everywhere.  All the time.

With no other choice, I sort-of-resentfully forged through.

We got into our house.  We had a baby.  My hormones subsided.  I got a friend.  And then another friend.  And painted some walls in our house. And then tons of visitors came. And our house starting becoming comfortable.  And then I found a cute restaurant in the neighborhood.  And God was speaking to me (and had been the whole time…I just wasn’t listening), reminding me of that hope that I so wanted.  That it would be worth it.  That Miami isn’t so bad after all.  Don’t sign those divorce papers just yet.

The sun came back out.  Again, figuratively and literally as hurricane season ended here in Miami and the hot and sweaty went away.  And I took walks with Zoey.  And said hello to my neighbors.  And then we had dinner parties.  And BBQs.  And I began to pray more.  And thank God more.  And my perception started to change.

And in my front yard and in my back yard, orchids had bloomed.  I had no idea we had fresh flowers in our yard, let alone these beautiful orchids.  Orchids…

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The most highly coveted of ornamental plants, the delicate, exotic and graceful orchid represents love, luxury, beauty and strength.

Different cultures throughout history have believed in the healing, disease-fighting and protective properties of the orchid.

Yeah, we have orchids in our yard.  Orchids that will forever be symbolic for me.  Because after the hurricanes and rains and thunderstorms, beauty appeared right before my eyes, in my yard.  And in my heart.

We know the storms don’t last forever.  But sometimes we have a hard time remembering that.  Life brings hopelessness, loneliness, pain, fear.  It then, eventually, brings hopefulness, family, friends, joy, laughter.  And what should we do during all of that?  Bloom where you are planted.  Weather the storm.  Embrace the pain.  Pray. Cry.  Laugh.  Pray again. Get hot and sweaty.  Bring your umbrella.  And your sunglasses.  Because the storm won’t last forever.  Because the orchids will bloom.

And the beauty becomes blinding in all the right ways.

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