Dear friend

Dear friend,

Good morning! It is a good morning, isn’t it? The sun is shining, the rain is drying up, and the breeze is blowing. I feel ready for the day, expectant even. I’ve been thinking a lot about the plight of being a human, specifically about what it means to be a woman in this world we live in. The kind of world where sex sells, where stick thin is encouraged, and where diets are expected. Being a woman seems to come with so much baggage, doesn’t it? Am I skinny enough? Pretty enough? Kind and friendly enough? Am I too loud? Too emotional? Too much? This seems to be the struggle of every female I know. This strange paradox of feeling like too much and not enough at the same time. The result is generations of women who don’t feel comfortable in their own skin, and who are constantly striving and comparing, never at rest.

If I’m honest, sometimes I look in the mirror and think, “why do I have to look this way? Why can’t I look like someone else?” I pinch my arm fat, and try to smooth away my double chin. I suck in my stomach in photos and try to position my body just so as to appear the most thin and photogenic. Sometimes being a woman feels like chains, like slavery to diets and makeup and high heels and comparison and a standard of beauty that I was never meant to reach. That you were never meant to reach.

This morning I’m feeling fed up and tired of striving, tired of the comparing and making less of others so that I can feel better about myself. Tired of hating my body. Today I want a revolution. What if, as women, as daughters of the King, we broke free from the chains and walked in freedom? What if we were a generation of women who walked in the confidence of who we are right now, not who we would be if we lost 20 pounds, or had a different nose, or more toned arms. What if we liked our bodies, double chins and all. What if we liked ourselves, our whole self? And then someday, when we have daughters of our own, they’ll see that we like us and then maybe, just maybe, that will give them the freedom to like themselves too.

I know that self-confidence isn’t something that can be willed into existence since we’ve spent all our growing up years believing the lie that we have to fit into some kind of mold to be beautiful and to have value. But I do think that confidence follows when we begin to really believe truth. I think liking yourself is a journey, and it doesn’t just happen magically. When you’ve believed lies your whole life, they take root in your heart like a weed, and pulling them up takes time and intentionally replacing it with truth. But it’s worth it sister. Because if we would be able to live free,  we would change the world. A free woman is unstoppable, she is not held back by insecurities and fears. She knows who she is and she knows how to change the world.

We are world changers, each and every one of us, just waiting to be unleashed.

You are loved sister. Maybe that’s the first step towards freedom, knowing you are loved and really believing it. I hope you believe it today. I hope you change the world you live in for the better, and I hope we get to do it together.

Love,

Sarah

 

young woman looking into a mirror

Five Ways I Deal with Anxiety Naturally

I’ve dealt with anxiety for as long as I can remember.Maybe it goes along with the being oldest kid, but whatever the reason it’s been a part of my life for a long time. I never really had a name for those sick stomachs and overwhelming panic until I started going to counseling and Whitney shed some light on what I was experiencing. She had me fill out an anxiety inventory and the results helped me understand what I had been feeling. I knew that my anxiety had been affecting my relationships, my self-esteem, and honestly, even my quality of life so I decided it was time for me to start treating it.

I knew that I wanted to try to go about it at naturally as possible without a prescribed medication. I don’t want anyone to think I am being down on medication. I know that for some this type of treatment is literally life saving and I think that it is brave to do what needs to be done to help yourself. Whether that is medication or therapy, or some type of homeopathic method, or combination of them all, I think just seeking treatment is brave and doing what you need to do to help yourself is brave. In my personal journey towards being in anxiety “remission” I am choosing to pursue a more natural route, BUT I am NOT a doctor so what works for me might not work for you! This is not a one size fits all post, but just my personal experience.

I did a lot of research and exploration in the realm of natural treatment and came up with a few things that have helped me a lot so far!

1.) L-Theanine

One of the first things I learned about was a supplement called L-Theanine. Theanine is an amino acid that is found in green tea and it encourages relaxation and eases stress and tension. I read that it was originally discovered because people noticed how relaxed and tranquil monks were and made the connection between their demeanor and the mass amounts of green tea that they drank. In order to get that effect you would need to treat like 50 cups of green tea so I buy it in capsule form on Amazon. Love me some Amazon Prime! L-Theanine can be used to treat anxiety, Alzheimer’s and high blood pressure. Essentially it helps transmit nerve impulses, similarly to what glutamate does. The jury is still out in the scientific community as far as whether or not it is helpful for those with anxiety, but from my personal experience, I feel a difference. I take two capsules a day and since I started I have felt more chill and lighter for lack of a better word. My emotions have also felt less all over the place, and more even.

2.) Decrease in caffeine

Listen friend, I’m a coffee drinker to the core. If I could just constantly drink coffee all day long I totally would. It’s an experience for me, it’s honestly part of the reason I can push myself out of bed in the morning. Coffee is my happy place, so thus I am unwilling to give it up completely, however I have attempted to decrease my intake. Instead of drinking coffee throughout the day I try to drink it only in the morning that way the effects wear off before bed and I am able to sleep more soundly. Because caffeine (coffee) is a stimulant, it can make us feel more on edge which is no good for someone who struggles with anxious thoughts and feelings. This one is probably the hardest one for me to do, because I LOVE COFFEE, and I’m not legalistic with myself about it. For example last night Steve and I went to Starbucks and I got a latte, so there is grace for this coffee lover.

3.) Decrease in sweets

I’ve heard a few times that sugar affects the same part in your brain as cocaine, and because that means it’s very addictive and just not good for you I decided to follow something like the Daniel Plan. I still put some sugar in my coffee, and I eat a piece of organic dark chocolate here and there BECAUSE ANTIOXIDANTS PEOPLE… but outside of that I’ve been trying to stay away from sweets. Today I’ve been craving a donut something awful, but I’m staying strong! I’ve found that I feel better when I’m not putting junk in my body and that is good motivation.

4.) Lavender and chamomile

I keep a lavender diffuser on my desk at work, burn lavender candles at home like they’re going out of style, and have replaced most of my coffee drinking with chamomile tea. Let me tell you, both of these things are so relaxing! In addition to the relaxing scent, lavender essential oil has been shown to be a powerful way to treat anxiety. I haven’t started this method as much because I’m waiting on mine to arrive, but I have tried a sample of it and it really has worked well. It can also be used to help encourage a good night of sleep. If I start to feel overwhelmed at work I stop what I’m doing, pick up my mug and make some chamomile tea. The smell and the taste and just the whole experience is incredibly calming.

5.) Taking my thoughts captive and creating boundaries

Honestly this one is so important, and it’s one I’m still working on getting better at. When I feel overwhelmed or anxious I have to stop and speak truth to myself. Like, “You can do hard things Sarah” or “This isn’t forever” or “what could the worst possible outcome be?” or “These things you are feeling right now are not reality, the reality is that the Lord loved you and made you and sent His son to die for you, you aren’t a failure, you’re just human”. Sometimes the truth I speak isn’t really what I feel, but I say it anyway. I’m also learning to set boundaries with myself and with other. I am trying to remember what’s in my area, and what things I’m responsible for. Boundaries help keep anxiety at bay because it can keep you from taking on more than what you are responsible for!

These are five things that help me, but again they might not be what works for you, maybe taking medication is what works or maybe a good counseling session keeps the anxiety demons at bay. I think you have to figure out what works for you! My goal in writing this post was to help you feel encouraged and not alone. Maybe you know exactly the kind of anxiety I’m talking about because you experience it every day, or every week, but you feel alone and you don’t know where to start in treating it. Well friend, I want you to know you’re not alone and that sometimes it’s the getting started part that’s the hardest but YOU CAN DO HARD THINGS… WE can do hard things! We don’t have to live with anxiety, we can kick it’s dang butt and live in freedom! Whether that’s through natural ways or medicine ways it doesn’t matter! You do what you (and your doctor/psychiatrist/counselor) think is best for your health and keep on being brave you strong person you! In conclusion, here’s to freedom, and lavender, and being brave!

Thankful Tuesday (PA School Edition)

If you’re friends with me on Facebook then you saw that Steven got in PA (physicians assistant) school at Campbell University in NC! We’re very excited and I’m sooooooo proud of him!! PA programs are competitive but my awesome husband is just that smart. (Yes I know I’m being obnoxiously braggy, I’d appreciate some grace.) When he text messaged me that he got the call I almost did a happy dance in the middle of my office! We’re so thankful for this opportunity, however there are two catches. First, it’s in North Carolina so we would have to move and I’d have to find a new job. Second, he currently has an interview scheduled with a school in the town we live in but it’s not until the end of October and he has to give Campbell his decision next week. We’re fairly certain he’d get into the school here but the building is under construction and so he can’t even see what the facilties will look like. Basically we just have a big decision make in a short period of time. We are thankful for option and for opportunity, but a little overwhelmed by the weight of the decision. We know which way we are leaning, but if you think of it keep us in your prayers! We know that God will provide what we need for the decision He leads us too so I’m clinging to that! I’m still overwhelmed by all of the opportunities that God has given us, it’s a very exciting time and I feel like we have a ton to be thankful for.

Which leads me to Thankful Tuesday, so without further ado here we go!

1.) Coffee, because it turns me into a human being.

2.) Essential Oils, because I am learning a lot about how I can use them to improve my physical and mental health.

3.) Counseling with Whitney tonight, because she’s awesome.

4.) A good hair day, because I have rebellious locks. When they do what I want, that is a reason to celebrate!

5.) Clean water, because it is good for our bodies and not everyone has access to it.

6.) Chocolate Lavender coffee, because it sounds yummy/interesting. I’m basically obsessed with lavender FYI.

7.) PA School opportunities, because it’s exciting to look to the future and think about where we could end up!

8.) Having a job, because it provides for our needs and wants, and I know what a blessing it is!

9.) The opportunity to learn about and purchase things that are better for my family’s health, and better for the earth.

10.) A husband that I can be silly/ridiculous with. It just makes life so much more fun and full!

11.) Access to vitamins and supplements because they help my body function as it should.

12.) My planner and to-do lists that help my life feel more organized!

13.) 9 months of marriage with Steven (on Sunday).

14.) Beautiful fall weather, because fall is my happy place!

The list could go on and on, but I’ll stop there. Now it’s YOUR turn! I know that we all have tough stuff in our life but if we look hard enough there is always a silver lining that we can find! What are you thankful for?

 

 

Thankful Tuesday and Sustainable Living

Yesterday I started the Daniel Plan. I have been chugging water like it’s going out of style and filling my tummy with nutrious things however I want ice cream. My body is jonesing for something sweet but I’m just drinking chamomile tea instead hoping that eventually my body will hush about wanting chocolate. For the past 6 months or so I’ve been on a mission to make my little family’s life more sustainable. By that I mean I’m obsessed with turning off lights and recycling every possible thing ever. We’ve been attempting to transition to cloth napkins, however I still use paper towels for cleaning… they’re made from recycled paper so I’m hoping that counts for something. I’m also fiercely anti plastic baggy thus our kitchen sink is filled with lunch Tupperware after work. My thinking is that to whom much has been given much is required and our bodies and the world is a huge gift so it’s my responsibility to be a good steward of both to the best of my ability. I still have a long way to go as far as transitioning into more natural and “green” living, but I’m trying. Day by day I’m changing things by altering where I spend my money and making smarter and healthier choices. I love food so much, especially sweet food, but I came to a place where I realized it was silly to be so concerned with essential oils and recycling, and vitamins, if I wasn’t also being intentional about the hard stuff. For me the hard stuff means having self control when I want a brownie. Using oils and supplements are easy, but saying no to a doughnut… not so much. So that means I’m attempting to flex my self control muscles with the help of my husbands accountability and the strength of the Lord. Day 2 of the Daniel Plan…. here I come!

With all of that being said, welcome to Thankful Tuesday! The part of the week where I share the many things I am thankful for and invite YOU to do the same. Here we go…

I am thankful for:

1.) The Daniel Plan because it gives me a clear plan on how to treat my body better and with care.

2.) Coffee, need I say more?

3.) My friend Claire because she’s a huge blessing of a friend. We always have such good and honest conversations and I feel encouraged every time we get to talk. She’s an awesome lady and lover of Jesus and I’m lucky to call her friend.

4.) The fact that I get to sing and record music with my extremely talented husband. In fact we just recorded and released a new song… which you can find here. Yes, shameless plug.

5.) Counseling tonight because Whitney is the best and every time I leave our time together I like myself a little more and I feel a little more healed. It’s a long process but the blessing of a kind, wise, and loving counselor is a blessing that words can’t properly explain to you. If you’ve ever been interested in going to see a counselor before let me encourage you to just do it! Make the call, start the process, you won’t regret it.

6.) The opportunity to grow and learn with Steven. Marriage is brutiful. It’s difficult and it’s magical and I wouldn’t have it any other way with any other person. He’s so stellar and he’s cute too which is an added bonus. Once again, words can’t properly express how blessed I am to be married to this man.

7.) The opportunity to learn to new ways to be healthy.

8.) The Fresh Market because it’s a magical (expensive) land of natural and organic things. I don’t usually buy much (see previous sentence), but just walking around is a lovely experience. The music is good and it smells like incense or essential oils. I’m a fan.

9.) Our adorable house that God provided for us. It’s really one of the biggest blessings  we’ve ever received and I never want to take it for granted.

10.) You, whoever you are, for taking the time to read this post and any other things I read.

That’s all for this week folks. If you see me feel free to ask me how that Daniel Plan thing is going, accountability is my friend (whether I like it or not). Now it’s your turn. What are YOU thankful for? Please tell me, I reallllly want to know!!

Thirteen years Ago

Today marks the 13th anniversary of the most horrific event to happen in America in my lifetime. Thirteen years ago on this day two planes flew into the World Trade Center in New York City. The first plane hit the north tower at 8:45 am and the second hit the south tower 18 minutes later. In a span of 20 minutes our country changed forever. In 20 minutes lives were lost, families were ripped apart, and as Americans our sense of security was lost, perhaps forever.

I didn’t lose anyone that day, but every year this date is still very hard. I grew up in a small town in New Jersey right outside NYC, called Rutherford. We could see the New York skyline from almost anywhere we went, so the seeing those two tall and strong towers was a stable in my young life. It was a picturesque town to grow up in, safe and clean and known as the borough of trees. I went to amazing schools where I had teachers that I knew cared about me. I could play with my friends in the street without fear and knew all my neighbors. It was a quiet suburb, but on that day my sense of safety was shaken. I was in sixth grade, and like most people I remember exactly where I was when I found out. I was sitting in math class and my teacher announced to the class that two plans had just flown into the World Trade Center. I legitimately didn’t believe her when she first told me because who flies plans into buildings?? And not just one, but two! My young mind didn’t know or understand terrorism and real evil yet. It had not touched my life yet, and so I couldn’t believe it. When we were found out noone knew why it happened or who did it. But there was this overwhelming sense of dread and panic. I was only 11 years old, but here I am 13 years later and I can recall those memories and emotions like it happened yesterday.

The first thing I thought after we found out was, “Oh no! Dad!”, because he worked in NYC at the time and took the subway through the world trade center every day to get to work. We all knew so little at the time and I hadn’t heard from my dad. I sat in sixth grade math watching the news coverage, with fear growing in my heart. There was such silence in the room, like nothing I had ever experienced before. You could have cut the tension with a knife. And then my teacher told me that I was called to go downstairs because my dad was there to pick me up! I ran downstairs and there he was, in the flesh, safe and sound. We walked home together and he explained to me that he was normally in the towers, down by the subway, during that time but he drove to work that day because he had to go to the Bronx. He should have been there, but he wasn’t. My life could have been changed forever, but he was spared! I don’t know why so many lost their dads and husbands and sons, I don’t know why God didn’t spare them too, why He didn’t stop the attacks from happening. I don’t have any answers, but I do have a heart that breaks with you and for you. You who lost the ones you loved. Today my heart still breaks for you, today I still shed so many tears as I call to mind the pain and tragedy. My mom stood in line at the DMV and watched the south tower fall, I can’t even imagine how that must have felt to watch a symbol of American strength and commerce crumble before your eyes.

To describe the sadness and heaviness that engulfed our small town in the days and months following seems impossible. When I got home that day we tried to watch news coverage but we didn’t have cable and we got our local news from the trade center. We just sat in the silence, there was nothing to say, speaking felt inappropriate during a time of such uncertainty and loss. Eventually us kids watched a video to divert our attention, but even as we watched I knew that the world was changing. A country that once felt safe was suddenly exposed and under attack and safety did not feel certain.

And yet, in the coming days America banded together like nothing we had seen in a long time. We were no longer republicans and democrats, we were Americans and that was all that mattered. Together we stood united. Together we mourned for the loss of our countrymen and women. Together we healed and prayed. And now, 13 years later, our country looks different than it did then. We were forever scarred by September 11th, 2011, never fully recovering from the understanding that there is evil in the world and we cannot avoid it. I think we’ve started to forget that it’s together that we are able to stand, but it’s when we are divided that we fall. And we are definitely a divided country, on like every front possible. But something that I’ve noticed is that on this day, this somber day, we are able to put aside our differences once again and remember, even if it’s just for 24 hours, that we are the United States of America. We remember on this day that tragedy is real and evil is present but that there is good too. And while it is cliche it is true, good always triumphs over evil. Just like it did that day, and just like it will continue to do.

Thankful Tuesday

Happy Tuesday!! I don’t know how it is where you live, but we’ve been starting to get a glimpse of fall around here and I am SO EXCITED! I love fall, I love the crisp weather, apple picking, boots, scarves, and leaves changing color. It’s just the best. I’m sure the heat will make a return for a little while longer, but fall is quickly coming and I can’t wait! For some reason fall makes me extra thankful, perhaps it’s the fact that humidity leaves and with it my heat induced crankiness. Whatever the reason, I’m feeling extra thankful today, so without further ado THANKFUL TUESDAY!

1. Coconut oil- do you know about coconut oil? IT IS MAGIC! Seriously, it does so much. I use it in baking, cooking, dusting, shaving, and for deep conditioning my hair. It’s so multipurpose and it smells like the beach. It’s just so wonderful. Life changed.

2. Coffee- because of the obvious reasons. Do I really need to go into further detail? I don’t think so.

3. Jim Gaffigan- because he’s HILARIOUS! If you haven’t watched him before, go watch him RIGHT NOW. Steve and I watched his latest standup for like the umpteenth time last night and I laughed like a hyena. You can listen to it FO FREE on Spotify, and it’s called Obsessed. Go. NOW.

4. My marriage- because Steve makes me a better person, because being married challenges me and stretches me, because it’s fun and funny, because we get to dream together and work together and encourage each other. Marriage man, it’s tough, but I highly recommend it.

5. Laughter- because it just makes me feel good. It’s so fun to laugh and it just puts me in a great mood. I love to laugh and I love to make other people laugh, and I’m so thankful for the gift of laughing!

6. A counseling appointment tonight/my counselor- because I’m learning so much about myself and others and God and it’s changing me. Slowly but surely I can see and feel the change. Counseling is a gift and I am so so thankful for insurance that covers it!

7. My kitchen- because I love to cook, and I love to bake. One of my favorite things to do is cook a yummy and nutritious meal, whether it’s for Steven or for some friends, either way I love to foster hospitality by providing something yum. My kitchen isn’t just a place where food is made and stored, but instead I see it as a tool for ministering to the people God has blessed me with.

8. Coffee- because it just makes my day better. (yes I know this is the second time it’s on my list)

9. Lavender- because IT SMELLS SO GOOD and also has calming properties that make me feel more zen. I just ordered some lavender essential oil, so I’m pretty darn excited about that.

and

10. Psalm 139:13-16 (NLT version)- because it’s basically my self esteem anthem right now. Who can doubt themselves when they remember that the creator of the world knit them together in their mother’s womb and made every part of their body? He knows who I am, He knows my name, and He intentionally created me. SO GOOD.

That’s all for this week folks. Now it’s your turn, what are YOU thankful for??

Letting go of people’s opinion

I’ve been in counseling for about six months because I think counseling is rad and that everyone should go. Throughout my journey there I have been learning a ton about myself and the way that I interact with the world I live in. For example, I’m a people pleaser. This wasn’t new news to me, I’d been aware of that fact, but what I am learning is that this people pleasing attitude doesn’t line up with what God says. My desire to please man over God is something that is not good for me or my relationship with God and that a lot of this comes from me having bad boundaries. So something that I’ve been trying to do is give myself permission to not be liked by everyone. You might be sitting there thinking, “well that’s good because it’s impossible to get everyone to like you anyway.” And see, I know this too but I wasn’t living like that was the truth. I was living like I had the power to make everyone be my bff, while in reality sometimes people aren’t going to like you and it doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with you or that you did something. Sometimes it just means that maybe your personalities don’t mesh. And you know what, that’s ok!

So, like I said I’m learning to give myself permission to not be liked by everyone. Not permission to be enemies, but permission to not be a people pleaser. Permission to be a peace maker as much as it’s up to me, but not a peace keeper because sometimes that’s not within my power. Permission to be myself, the self that God made me to be, even if that isn’t the self that others expect. Permission to have boundaries that protect my area, and allow me to thrive and grow. I’m doing this by running things through 2 filters.

Filter numero uno is wisdom. Is it wise for me to say yes to this event or person? Would it be taking away from something else important, or would it take away my only chance to rest that week? Is it wise to always say yes to everyone? Obviously not. Part of wisdom is knowing when to say no so that you can say yes to the right things! This filter mostly applies for social gatherings, peer pressure, or favors.

Filter numero dos is does this match up with what God says? If we are confident in our identity in Christ and the things He says about us, than the things others say about us or do to us hurt less because we already know we are! Say someone is making you feel less than, or lacking, I want you to compare that to what God says about you. He says we are chosen. He says He formed us and knit us together in our mother’s womb. Does a God who cares enough to carefully create us then make mistakes in who we are? No! Because of grace we no longer lack, we are made whole in the sacrifice of Christ’s death! There will be many times where people will cause us to doubt who we are and what we are worth. Sometimes it will be intentionally, sometimes unintentionally. However every time we have to run what they say through our God filter and see if it matches up with what He tells us.

These two filters are my safeguards as I learn to have boundaries. And I’m seeing that as I create them I begin to experience freedom. It’s still a work in progress and I still (definitely) mess it up and allow people to step all over my property. I still forget the power I have to say no and to walk away. But I’m getting better and I’m celebrating every little victory I have.

Have you given yourself permission to not be everyone’s bff? If you haven’t, you should give it a try. Just give it a test drive, freedom is waiting!

Thankful Tuesday

As I’ve written before, my word for the year is Grateful. I have been attempting to practice thankfulness with intentionality and consistency so I keep a daily thankfulness journal, I have a thankfulness chalkboard in my kitchen, and I wear a Giving Keys necklace with the word “thankful” engraved on it. I want my life to be one marked by the act of thanksgiving because thankful people are more joyful people. So in an attempt to foster more thankfulness, every Tuesday I’m going to post about the things I am thankful for. I’m borrowing this idea from my friend Chelsea, and if you blog/use social media, I think you should do it too because being thankful literally makes you a happier, stronger and healthier person.

So without further ado, welcome to the first Thankful Tuesday!

Today I am thankful for:

1. Coffee, for all of the obvious reason, especially the one where it turns me into a fully functioning human being.

2. My brother Caleb being born! (Today is his birthday, Happy Birthday bud!)

3. The book Boundaries, by Henry Cloud and John Townsend, because it’s changing the way I view relationships and is really and truly empowering me to make better choices.

4. Psalm 139, because who doesn’t need the reminder that they were knit together by the creator of the world.

5. A husband who will bring my car to the mechanic so that I don’t have to, he’s the best!!

6. On a similar note, a husband who works very hard in the heat and sun to make sure that our yard looks wonderful.

7. Chamomile tea, because it’s instant relaxation in a cup. Bless you whoever discovered chamomile tea, bless you.

8. My job and my awesome boss, because I know I am blessed to have employment that provides for my needs and even some wants, and because I know that some people would love to be able to have a boss like mine.

9. The money to buy groceries that are healthy and nutritious.

10. My church, River Church, because it is becoming home.

11. Having family that live near by, I’m talking to you David and Dee!

12. New friends and old friends that speak truth into my life.

13. Farmers markets

What are you thankful for today? I hope you’ll check back next week for the next round of Thankful Tuesday! 🙂