7.31.2015

#morethanaframe: RICHNESS




Want to learn about the #Richness in life? Look through the eyes of a (just turned) five year old. Everything is exciting (even on a perfectly ordinary day). Everything is new (even on a perfectly ordinary day). You are constantly learning new things when you're five years old (even on a perfectly ordinary day). I held her, my sister, on the day she was born and suddenly, the world took on a richness I never knew before. I kept holding her (still do) so when her eyes first took in color, imagine that richness she experienced. And when she learned to walk, I encouraged her as a big sis. Imagine the richness that comes to your world when you can finally move on your own. The older she gets, the more I cherish things that make me rich as a big sister: that I can still hold her on my hip (and that she lets me), that we can nap snuggled together, that her imagination is still wider and bigger than anything real in this world. She makes me aware of the areas of my life, I keep paltry. If I watch the way I talk about my body in front of her because I want her to have a positive body image, then I should be talking about it that way all the time. If I intentionally tell her how much the world loves her, I should be doing the same for myself. I could go on and on about how her life and my love for her teaches me #richness constantly. Maybe I will on the blog Thursday. Linking up with #morethanaframe and @thatsageblog and @mrthomasandme #ItsABeautifulSummer #Sisters #LittleSister #Sissy #Bests #thatsdarling #thatsdarlingweekend #thatsdarlingsummer #HoldersnotFolders #Summer #Swimming #NBCreativeInc
A photo posted by Nina B. (@nbwearsflowers) on








And in case you missed mine:



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7.30.2015

Speak Up for Silence: Depression + ANNOUNCEMENT

speakupforsilence



Welcome to the LAST week of Speak Up for Silence. If you want to learn more about this series, please read this. Also, be sure to visit Christine's blog as she's sharing another person's story. Today's post from Courtney is about what it's like to live with depression. I think it goes a great job of conveying how hard it can be to live with depression and I know it will help us be more compassionate to those who struggle with it.
Currently 1 in 4 people suffer with depression, so the chances are of you knowing someone who has depression is pretty high.

It is absurd to me that there is still a massive stigma about mental illnesses especially depression when so many people are suffering with it. I think people have a hard time accepting these kind of illnesses because they cannot physically see it.

People in today's society need proof in order to believe something is really there. Just because something isn't physically there doesn't mean it isn't real, depression is such a hard and sometimes lonely thing to go through. It can be just as painful and hard as recovering from a physical injury. People suffering with depression find it hard to seek help and open up to people simply because they are scared of the reaction they will receive.

If someone has fallen over and hurt their leg, they automatically seek help for said issue. They aren't scared to go to the doctors if needed, they aren't scared to ring up family to explain said issue. With depression it is different, how can you explain something to someone that isn't really there, you haven't got proof of the injury to show anyone. The only person who can see and comprehend what is going on is you. The amount of times I have been told to ''pull myself together'' or ''just get out of bed, don't be so lazy'' is beyond. I would be a millionaire if I had a pound for every time someone said that to me. If only it was that easy to get out of bed or to feel okay.

You cannot just pull yourself together when suffering with depression, it is a crippling illness that consumes you. It takes every ounce of happiness and motivation out of you. There have been many days when I have had to call in sick to college just because I cannot physically get out of bed, the same as you would do if you had the flu. Just because you cannot see it doesn't mean it is not hard to deal with or I am not struggling.

The best way I can describe depression is like you are alive but drowning at the same time, you can feel yourself gasping for some air, for some relief from what is going on but sometimes you just keep sinking. On the days that I managed to get out of bed I would plaster a fake smile on my face and walk out the door. Do you know how hard it is to pretend you are okay to people, to not burst into tears the moment you talk to someone, do you know how hard it is just to ''pull yourself together'', well it's pretty damn hard let me tell you.

Depression is an invisible illness because like I said no one can see it. If I broke my leg people would make sure I am okay and would do everything they could to make my life that little bit easier, with depression they cannot see that I need someone to talk to or that I need a hug because I am trying to be strong and plaster that fake smile on my face. I know that if I don't tell anyone about what I am going through how can I expect them to help me which is true, but not everyone understands depression, they just brush it off and assume it isn't that bad. Sometimes trying to find someone to talk to about these issues is like finding a needle in a haystack.

I was diagnosed with depression when I was 15 and I had the crap taken out of me in school because of it. I was hardly ever in and when I was I could hear people saying things behind my back like ''oh she has finally turned up then, she definitely isn't getting far in life'' or I would randomly burst into tears sometimes all because it got too much for me to handle and I could hear people laughing behind my back. All I needed and wanted was someone to ask if I was okay or to give me a hug, I didn't need for them to judge me or be mean. But that is high school for you, everyone judges everyone else. I had friends don't get me wrong but I was sort of an outsider, they weren't friends I could open up to and tell anything too. Depression made me feel alone, I was surrounded by all my friends but still felt like I was the loneliest girl in the world. It felt like I was just sitting and observing these people that I wasn't really there.

I did manage to find friends that understood and were there for me in the end and they were a massive help in me feeling better. Don't get me wrong I still suffer with depression today, I always will. But I have an amazing support network that make those days just a little bit easier. I encourage anyone who thinks that they are suffering with a mental illness to seek help and don't be afraid too. Your mental health comes before anything and the earlier you get that help the easier it'll all be to handle. I am super glad I got the help when I got it, I am not in a much more stable place. Yes I take anti depressants to get to that place but if that one little pill can make me feel somewhat normal again then I will take that any day over feeling shit every second of everyday.

This concludes our Speak Up for Silence series. Thank you to everyone who has come back week after week to provide these brave souls with love, encouragement, and hope. An even bigger thank you to those of you who submitted your own posts to this series. You are stronger than mental illness. And you are not your mental illness. 



Now, for the announcement! We are so excited to share that we will be hosting a Speak Up for Silence twitter chat on August 9th at 8pm EST! Please help us to spread the word on social media. We hope you can join us!
 
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7.29.2015

Comparison in Marriage + Meet Christine


The comparison game is dangerous. Us females know that all too well. My phrase, if you will, for 2014 was the classic quote from Teddy Roosevelt: "Comparison is the thief of joy." Although this sounds stereotypical, it really is true. Comparing ourselves with others really is a recipe for disaster.

When we first got married, I had many expectations for what a godly marriage should look like. I had preconceived notions of what it meant for my husband to lead me, how our prayer life would look, and how we would make Jesus the center of our home. And guess what? I spent the first few months of our marriage feeling like we were doing it wrong. Like we were failing. But were we really failing? The answer is absolutely not. We just weren't exactly meeting the expectations I had put upon us.

Where did those expectations come from? Comparison. Comparison with other women and their marriages. Comparison with media. Comparison ALL AROUND. Comparing your marriage to others is toxic, and I know that first hand.

In the blog world, we see perfectly staged instagram photos of women laying in bed with their husbands on Saturday morning, Starbucks in hand. We see professional photographs of women cooking in their kitchens with their husbands for those not so original "home shoots." We see perfectly tidy kitchen tables where women sit and read their bible, pray over their marriages, and journal about how perfect their husband is.

What we forget, however, is that we don't see the other parts of marriage. We don't see videos of the fights over the laundry. We don't see the pile of dishes in the sink waiting to be washed. We don't see unmade beds and dusty bibles. Because that wouldn't portray our marriage well to the outside world, would it?



Comparing your marriage to someone else's is guaranteed to rob you of your joy and leave you feeling down. No one's marriage looks the same, and that's perfectly alright. Sure, it's great to look up to women with healthy, biblical relationships, but it's also important to not let that go too far.

My husband might not like to lay in bed with me all Saturday morning so that we can stage the perfect instagram photo, but he sure likes to beat me out of bed and make coffee and pancakes. Our kitchen might not always be photo ready, but it's sure full of a lot of good food and fun. I might not always clean off my kitchen table, pray like I should over my marriage, or journal about how perfect my husband is, but I sure as hell make sure to spend quality time with my husband every night, even if only for an hour. And our prayer life might look different then yours, but we pray and that's what matters.

Although my marriage might not look like that of other women, I am content with that. I'm learning a marriage doesn't have to look a certain way to be happy, healthy, and focused on Jesus. We all do things a little differently, and that's what makes marriage fun.

Today, I challenge you to examine what areas of your marriage you might be comparing to another marriage. If it's a healthy comparison, I pray that you would strive to better your relationship in that way. If it's not a healthy comparison, I pray that you would break free of the chains that holding you from embracing the marriage that God designed for YOU and realize that it doesn't have to look like anyone else's to be perfect for you.

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Today we have a guest joining us, Christine from Christine Everyday (previously the So-Called Homemaker)! Christine's personality is one of a kind and I appreciate her sass and sarcasm more than she will ever know. She is always my go-to person for blog related question and she's always such a huge encouragement to me at the moments when I need it the most. Take it away, Christine!

Hello everyone! I'm Christine, and I write over on Christine Everyday, a blog about life at home and beyond! I am a real estate agent by day and a homemaker by night, and on my blog you can find anything from recipes to real estate tips, teaching tips to baby pictures. Lots and lots of baby pictures. Cassie asked me to tell you a little about myself, so here goes:  
 
1. What are you passionate about? I think if I had to pick one thing, it would be that I want to live life, not just exist. I think that encompasses everything that I do in my life. I am passionate about my work and supporting my family, I am passionate about my opinions, I’m even passionate about the books that I read. I believe that everything in life should be exciting, and so I treat everything as such.
 
2. If you could learn to do anything, what would it be and why? Oh man, just one thing? I guess I’m going to go with gymnastics. I have always thought that gymnastics looks like a lot of fun and how cool to be able to do such amazing things with just your muscles. Gymnasts are amazing.  
3. What’s something you wish everyone knew about you? I would want everybody to know that I am very rarely serious. By which I mean: if something ever comes across like I’m being mean, I am most likely joking. I have a weird sense of humor so often people think I’m mean or serious when I’m not. I try to make myself clear, but hey, we are who we are! :)

7.27.2015

5 Podcasts for Believers

podcasts for christians

It seems like podcasts have just taken off with the last few years and I have really grown to love them. Instead of turning to music for my workouts, I have been listening to my favorite podcasts more often.

Typically, they are Christian podcasts. I see Christian podcasts as an opportunity to grow my faith and spend time with the Lord while doing what I love (working out). It not only keeps me up to date on current events, but really challenges me to think about things. These are 5 of my favorites:


1. The Influence Podcast. The Influence Network is a community of like-minded women encouraging one another both online and in real life. When I discovered the Influence Podcast I was SO excited. Each episode is an interview with a different creative, blogger, and/or business owner. It's such a cool way to find inspiration and get to know some of the women on the internet I love the most.


2. Redemption's Hill Church. This is a shameless plug for our church's podcast because I honestly think it is one of the bests. I love re-listening to our sermons throughout the week so that I can really take in the message. We preach exegetically and right now we are going through the book of Mark. 


3. In the Room with Ryan Huguley. This is my husband's favorite. The In the Room podcast is put on by Ryan Huguley, a pastor at Redemption Bible Church. Each episode, Ryan interviews a different person. One of my recent favorites was his interview with Amanda Jenkins who wrote "Confessions of a Raging Perfectionist."


4. The Village Church Sermons. Who doesn't love Matt Chandler? I love hearing his sermons, they always teach me something new and put a different spin on things.


5. The BadChristian Podcast.  This one might be a little controversial, but I really enjoy it. This podcast is hosted by the writers at The BadChristian Blog, Matt, Toby, and Joey. They discuss funny, controversial, and personal topics with guests from the music business (they share awesome music), leaders in the Christian world, and even those from well outside of the Christian world. This podcast is REAL and REFRESHING.

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7.24.2015

#morethanaframe: IMPERFECT

#morethanaframe on Instagram

Did you hear that #morethanaframe is back?! That's right! It's not too late to join the fun!

This week's prompt was IMPERFECT. Oh, how I struggled with this prompt this week. But then I was reminded that my caption doesn't have to be perfect. It doesn't have to say exactly what I feel. Because I AM imperfect and I can rejoice in that truth. Thanks for sharing your hearts this week friends. Here are my favorites from this week:


A photo posted by rachel a. dawson (@racheladawson) on

This week's #morethanaframe with @thatsageblog and @mrthomasandme is #imperfect. It's a funny thing for a perfectionist to write about. Today in my journal, I am writing the rough draft for a blog post about one of the messiest moments in my life since this Thursday is the year anniversary of sharing it with the world (Dear Nina in a Prom Dress). This is what I know about imperfection. It's necessary and the sooner we learn that, the more peace we can know. Why it's easier to accept in others than in myself, I don't know. Why writing about such an imperfect and disastrous moment in my life, one I've already shared, still scares the breath out of me, is just another mystery. I know God does not desire perfection from me. He desires love and obedience. And so I must remind myself, the recovering perfectionist, over and over again. And so I write the hard, messy, imperfect stories, knowing that in time there is always beauty from the ashes. But there has to be a fire first to cause those ashes and finally the beauty. #beautyfromtheashes #lampandlight #holdersnotfolders
A photo posted by Nina B. (@nbwearsflowers) on



​The definition of I M P E R F E C T is pretty self explanatory: not perfect; however, further reading on Google I saw these two: faulty or incomplete. This week's prompt is a struggle for me because who wants to focus on being incomplete or faulty? I know I will never be perfect at anything on this Earth, only Jesus was. I had dinner with my favorite 6 year old Monday night and she said: "You know what I can't wait for?" I randomly responded with "Halloween?" and she said "YES! Because once Halloween gets here then its fun things, especially Christmas!" 🎅 I told her that I couldn't wait for Halloween either, but that she should celebrate today - because each day is a gift. I could tell she soaked in what I said because the next thing I know, we are in Forever 21 and she is dancing around the store to the music. Her dancing was the opposite of perfect; but I grabbed her small hands in mine and we danced IMPERFECTLY next to a rack full of discounted clothes. In that moment, I realized that being an adult can be hard. Our 20's are nowhere near stable, and a lot of the time we feel really incomplete. But I think that's the positive side of I M P E R F E C T - we will never be perfect here on Earth so we should all take a collective sigh of relief, grab someone's hand and just let go of our constant perfectionist qualities. But when we get to Heaven? Let the perfect dancing begin.
A photo posted by Cassie Lynn (@alwaysablogsmaid) on






And in case you missed mine:


Join us?
 
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7.23.2015

Speak Up for Silence

speakupforsilence

Welcome to another week of Speak Up for Silence. If you want to learn more about this series, please read this. Also, be sure to visit Christine's blog as she's sharing another person's story. Today's post is so, so good. The message is one of grace towards those who don't understand mental illness, and forgiveness. I can't say enough good things. 

It's not discussed in our house, but I got my depression and anxiety from my dad.

Last year my family took a road trip. The vacation was fun but tempers flared on the way home, especially between my dad and me. (It's rare for us to fight with one another.) I could feel myself slipping... I could feel all the emotions flood my body and then leave, all at once. I could feel my hate, anger, and frustration dissolve into nothing. I felt my mind shut everything off and my mouth respond with indifference. And I saw my Dad do the exact same thing. We both cried silently as I drove down the highway. When we stopped for food I refused to leave the car. I couldn't stop crying and I felt so anxious I thought I was going to vomit.

My dad finally saw it. He finally saw that my 23 year-old breakdown was all too familiar. Not only did it happen A LOT in my teen years, but he felt all the emotions and then nothing at all- just like I did. After some time alone I calmed down and joined my family in the restaurant, but my parents were forced to see the emotions I'd been hiding throughout my teens.

On the way home we learned that Robin Williams had died from depression. Nothing could've hammered the threat of depression deeper. I look back on the vacation fondly, but I won't forget the lesson my parents learned in the car that day.

My husband was unable to join us on that trip. (If he'd been there he would've picked up on my anxiety before I lost control.) After we got back my mom told my husband that she regretted not getting me help in my teen years. I cried when he shared that with me. Nothing can "fix" my rough teen years, but hearing my mom say that she knows I need/needed help was everything.

Sometimes people don't understand, but it doesn't mean they don't want to. It's hard for me to be patient. It's hard for me to show love. It's hard to release my emotions without losing control of them. And sometimes it's hard for people to understand that. But don't give up- on them or yourself.

Want to share your story? Please consider submitting a post HERE!

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7.22.2015

Wedding Day "Things" & Planning for Marriage + Meet Kristyn

wedding day things & planning for marriage
I have yet to meet a bride that didn't have one of those "things" at their wedding. It doesn't necessarily have to be a bad thing; it might have been a funny thing, a shocking thing, or a great thing. We all have those "things."

My "thing" was my delicate lace dress literally ripping to shreds before our ceremony even started. You heard right. That beautiful wedding dress up there had MASSIVE holes in it. Every time I would walk through the grass it would catch and run (you can even see the string during our first look in our wedding video). Thankfully, my sweet friend Kylee was there to stitch me up every five minutes. And thankfully you can't even tell in photos.

When Cassie decided to have her guests throw lavender during her and her husband's exit from their ceremony, she failed to realize how horribly this would stick in her hair-sprayed hair and wedding dress. That was their "thing."

Kaitlin's "thing" was her aunt setting a table on fire. You win, Kaitlin.

My point here is not to point out the flaws in mine and these ladies' wedding days. Instead, it is to point out that those days still went on. We all still got to marry the men of our dreams, say our vows before God and our closest family and friends, and party the night away.

At the end of the day, these "things" didn't even matter. When I was asked what my "thing" was recently, I had to actually think hard about it. It wasn't something that came to mind quickly. I think that just shows how little of a "thing" it really was to me.



I get upset when I see women putting all of their energy into these weddings where those "things" are just bound to happen. They have this idea of how their perfect day will play out, and forget that life just doesn't always work like that. Some are even devastated when these things do happen. What a silly thing to get upset over.

I think, as women, we need to spend more time preparing for the "things" that will inevitably come up in our marriages, instead of putting so much energy into our weddings. Sure, I had a large wedding, but at the end of the day, none of that mattered to me. I still got to marry my husband. I still got to celebrate with all of my favorite people and dance until my feet hurt. My wedding was still perfect because it was ours, and those "things" didn't change any of that.

Single and engaged ladies, I hope that you will realize the importance in planning for your marriage. Those "things" will happen on your wedding day, because they always do. Instead of stressing about them or trying to prevent them, embrace them. Some day they will make really great stories. And by the end of the day, you will still be married.

What was the "thing" at your wedding?

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Hello! My name is Kristyn and I blog at Chits & Giggles where I write about pretty much anything happening in my life including recipes, blogging tips, and book reviews. I am newly married to my best friend. While our wedding day was anything but perfect, it was perfect for us. As ordinary as my life might seem to be, documenting it on my blog has becoming more than just a hobby. It's become a wonderful community.

Cassie's personal favorites from Chits & Giggles: 

7.20.2015

5 Tips for Hosting the Perfect Book Club

Are you a book lover? If you spent any time with me, it probably wouldn't take you long to realize that I LOVE to read. Give me a good book and I am the happiest girl in the world. 

That being said, I'm also a big fan of book clubs. It's such a great opportunity to read a good book and then have an excuse to get together with girlfriends to drink wine, eat snacks, and geek out!

Book Club

In my opinion, there are some key ingredients to hosting the perfect book club. 

1. A solid group of friends. Be sure your book club is a group of gals that you know! Of course it's always fun to invite new people, but the group should know each other well enough to feel comfortable voicing their opinion about the book! This will keep the discussion going.

2. A book (obviously). Now, let's just be real. Book clubs won't always read GREAT books, but that is part of the fun. If you hate it, it gives you something to whine about over wine at your monthly meeting! However, try to choose versatile books! Stalk Goodreads for recommendations ahead of time! Here's a fun game for choosing a book: the host wraps a few books in wrapping paper and the gal that brings the best snack or beverage of the night gets to choose from among those books! That will be the book the group will read over the next month! If you don't own the books, feel free to have them draw a piece of paper out of a hat!

3. SNACKS & drinks. Book clubs couldn't sustain themselves if there weren't copious amounts of food and drink. Suggest each member of the book club bring a snack or beverage to contribute! Brownie points for bringing cheese. Or is that just me? Jump on pinterest and try something new!

Cheese platter
image via

4. Decide ahead of time what the format of the meeting will be. Do you want to answer specific questions or just have an open-ended discussion? Talk with your group ahead of time so that you can be prepared to accommodate the style they prefer!

5. Suggest people still come even if they didn't finish the book. If you're anything like me, reading isn't my favorite part of the book club. It's the lady time and discussion. Even if someone didn't read the book, they should still come be a part of the fun!

What might you add? Are you part of a book club?

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7.17.2015

#morethanaframe: PRACTICE


Did you hear that #morethanaframe is back?! That's right! It's not too late to join the fun!

This week's prompt was PRACTICE. To be honest, I really struggled with the prompt this week. Practice is something I often overlook, but you all reminded me of just how important it is. Here are my favorites from this week:

"Thank your body for your practice today" is what I hear a couple minutes after 7 every Monday night. For the past 4 weeks, I've made yoga a consistent part of my schedule. It isn't easy; majority of the time I want to just stay in child's pose because I constantly struggle with all of the moves. The word practice can be used thousands of ways but I think P R A C T I C E (for me) means you acknowledge what you are doing physically. You keep going, keep trying, never giving up so little by little you improve. Each week, the teacher thanks us for sharing our practice with her during savasana (adult nap time) and I smile. She doesn't have to thank us for our practices, but she acknowledges our hard work. Whatever you are practicing, thank your body for what it does for you each and every day. "Practice makes perfect" may never happen for me and you know what? That's okay. #morethanaframe
A photo posted by Cassie Lynn (@alwaysablogsmaid) on
Did you know Dad taught me to ride a bike when I was little? I asked her. Yup, my little sister told me, just before her fifth birthday. He told me all about it. I continued: and did he tell you we practiced in a parking lot? This intrigued her. I did not tell her that even now as she practices with training wheels, someday she will be taken to a vacant parking lot to practice without those training wheels. I did not tell her that practice of this sort often involves falling, skinned knees, even some tears. Practice for her now is hard enough, what with the steering and sweating up baby hills. Maybe I should have told her about the bloody knee during one of those practice sessions just so I could explain to her the thrill of pushing the pedals all on my own, the wind in my hair, only a bit shaky at the beginning. But you see, to #practice with determination riding a bike up hills under a helmet that slips forward and to practice without training wheels are as different as they are the same. I won't say practice makes perfect because I am fighting against my own perfectionism. I will say that those memories of practice may hold something magical, powerful enough to be passed down from one sister to the next. The practice is just as important, perhaps more so, than the achievement (which is really hard for an overachiever like me to say). Linking up with @thatsageblog and@mrthomasandme for #MoreThanAFrame prompt of #practice
A photo posted by Nina B. (@nbwearsflowers) on
This week's #morethanaframe topic is PRACTICE, and something I've been practicing lately is battling insecurity & over-analyzing with truth. I have always been an over-analyzer, always always always. I can be a class A people pleaser, but it really has nothing to do with pleasing people, and everything to do with finding my identity in being a "liked" person. Recently, I've realized that's not going to cut it anymore. I've been set FREE from people pleasing & finding my identity in being liked, so that I can truly love like Christ loved. That kind of love changes the world, so it's time to start claiming the freedom that is already mine. What does this practically look like? It means when I catch myself feeling that insecurity boiling up, I preach truth to myself instead. "You are enough, you are never too much, God made you specifically and uniquely for HIS glory." And you know the coolest thing about preaching truth to yourself? It gets into your heart, and it changes things.
A photo posted by Amy Reed (@sweethomesb) on

I've lived a pretty neat story in some pretty neat places over the past couple of years. There are a lot of people, I've discovered, who think that my life looks like National Geographic every day, or that I'm constantly engaged in some adrenaline-pumping crazy adventure. That's just not the truth. If I'm not in a classroom, you'll often find me here, armed with coffee and a journal, decompressing from all the stories I've heard and the burden I feel so heavily for my students' souls. You'll find me ordering a smoothie from my favorite smoothie lady, or peeking in a coffee shop to say hello to one of the regulars. You'll see me hanging out with a fruit seller while he and his wife teach me Thai, or practicing that Thai with Hasina while she makes me roti. You'll find me playing peekaboo with the son of my landlord, or visiting my favorite 711 barista. I'm learning that living life cross-culturally is not about stringing together grand experiences that make for good pictures or Lonely Planet tips. It's about learning how your neighbor lives and joining them, tasting the food they eat, walking the streets they walk, and listening to the stories they've lived. #Thailand #travel #morethanaframe
A photo posted by chelsey murphree (@chelseymurph) on

And in case you missed mine:


There is still time to join us! Don't miss out!

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