Unplugging in Chaos

Almost everything in the media revolves around the chaos that is never-passing in our world. It’s during this season of life, that I find myself needing to unplug more habitually.

The constant bombardment of all that is wrong in our world causes a disruption to the peace in my heart. It creates a division in my relationships, my emotions, and how I spend my time. And I’ve realized something important. . .

I don’t need to watch the news every day.

I don’t need to log in and scroll through social media to see the hundreds of comments on a particular issue.

I don’t need to see the re-runs of what’s been happening on television.

And I don’t need to listen to the radio commentary about how a certain political figure has the answer.

Because I’ve been there, I’ve done that, and it only elicits anger and escalates my fears.

I’ve been the person that responds rashly to an online comment, has the quick quip that only seems to escalate anger in a conversation. I’ve also been the person that’s been prideful with a hard-headed response or outlook (because I know the answer). Ouch! Yuck!

But, after these impasses, I’m always left feeling empty, depleted, miserable, and even angrier. (Who would have thought, right?)

Thank you Jesus for forgiveness that can’t be earned

I’ve also been the person that can’t sleep from fear. I’ve gotten the lump in my throat and in my chest from the pain of a day. I’ve fought back tears on a drive and broke down because of panic.

It’s not that I want to ignore the chaos around me, and pretend that nothing is happening, or believe that I can’t do anything, or that God isn’t there. I’ve just realized that there is a time and a place to soak in the information, to grieve, to process, to pray, to love, and to take action.

Dwelling on injustices, and being in constant fear, only makes me immobile, angry, and bitter. Whereas, God wants me to be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord (1 Cor. 15:58). He has equipped me with everything good to do His will, according to the power of Jesus Christ (Heb. 13:21).

If I don’t stop, if I don’t listen, if I don’t let His Word soak into my heart, then I can’t be Jesus’ hands and feet, and I can’t let the Holy Spirit do a great work through me for God’s glory.

I also miss the opportunities to find joy in the simple things that He has placed directly in my life. Because of fear or anger in my heart, I would often let this carry over into my work, my relationships, and how I spent my time (or rather wasting it).

Because of this God-given push to unplug more often, I find myself taking the time to appreciate the little things that God has placed in my life- hugging my son, watching him laugh and laughing with him, being goofy with my husband, going on a date night, having a beach day with a friend, calling my mom, going to the park, reading a book, enjoying a home cooked meal, taking someone a home cooked meal, and being happy with this life.

My son and dog looking out the window, enjoying the "little things".
My son and dog looking out the window, enjoying the “little things”.

I’m reminded that God is there. His beauty, His goodness, His gifts, and He, Himself is there.

Because it’s so hard to see Him when all I see is chaos, because I choose to only see chaos, instead of choosing to look for the good, see the good, or be the good in this world.

It’s amazing to realize that by unplugging, living life to the fullest each day, appreciating the relationships I have, investing in others, loving the simplicity, and being thankful, actually give me a better perspective than the knowledge that is often spewed out of my television or computer.

It not only allows me time to pray, but it allows me time to praise and be thankful in my heart.

The gifts of a greater peace, a greater love, and a stronger heart for God and for others begin to replace the fear and the anger that I once chose to have.

And I’m reminded to always have faith.

 

“Know this my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger, for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” -James 1:19-20

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give it to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” -John 14:27

 

What About You?

Do you take the time to unplug? When and why do you decide to do so, and how has it benefited you?

Finding Time to Workout as a Mom

Creative Ways to Workout with a Baby

Finding time to workout with a little one can be difficult at times, but I always feel so much better and ready for the day when I take the time for it. Don’t get me wrong, I do try and take advantage of naps and rest when I can; moms need all the energy they can get (myself included)! There are days when the walk to the mailbox and back is all I can manage. If I can get in 2-3 days a week of some physical activity, then it’s usually been a good fitness week for me.

Sometimes, I workout with my baby and other times my wonderful husband is able to watch our little guy so that I can get in a good workout. I also want my child to know the importance of being outside, being active, and having a healthy lifestyle, and I know that starts with me demonstrating that for him. Hopefully, some of these tools and resources below will help encourage you to get creative with a workout plan or to just get up and get moving when possible.

 

1) Walking/Running with a Jogging Stroller

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Yes, this is us out in the cold! Mom, baby, and dog!

During the winter months, my baby was still going through the newborn phase, and I just needed some motivation to do something! Thankfully, my loving parents bought my husband and I a jogging stroller as a shower gift. Wow! What a gift!

I definitely recommend a jogging stroller to anyone that might be outside with their little one. We have the Eddie Bauer stroller from Target, and it has been working very well now (almost a year). It has the newborn car seat that easily clicks into the stroller. We started using it a little bit during the fall, when my little guy was really little! And then I continued to take walks in the winter, yes, in the snow, on days that were relatively mild in temperature. My dog even accompanied us several occasions. It helped me to get out of the house, get some fresh air, and my dog can get a little stir-crazy, so it helped get him some exercise.

When spring hit, I did start some running, and I’ve continued to run during these warm summer months; we’ve even done a few 5ks. My baby wakes up pretty early, usually between 6-8am, so we usually have some play time together, and then we’ll go for a nice morning walk or jog. I’m so thankful for the quiet times in the morning just to pray, enjoy God’s beauty, and spend some time with my son as he takes in nature. It’s such a gift!

 

2) Daily Burn

If you haven’t heard of Daily Burn, I highly recommend you check them out! This was a HUGE motivation for my husband and I to workout during the winter months. Daily Burn streams workoutdailyburn programs through a phone, tablet, computer, or television. All packages include a daily live stream workout at 9am EST each day of the week, pre-recorded workouts based on the type of fitness level and program you’d like to follow, and then there are also add-on coaching options for an additional fee. There is such a variety to the workouts that we never got bored with them, and we found fitness instructors that pushed us and motivated us through our television; I know it sounds weird, but it worked! We are currently taking a break from Daily Burn for the summer, since we are more active outside, but we plan to continue or subscription again in the fall. Daily Burn made it extremely easy for us to put our payment option on pause until then.

 

3) Join a YMCA or Family Friendly Fitness Club

The YMCA is probably the most community, family, and fitness friendly place that you will find. They do an outstanding job of putting money directly into programs, back into the community, and they offer scholarships for families in need of financial assistance. There are so many activities, programs, and outreach events in the community that make it such a wonderful place. The benefit of joining a YMCA or family friendly fitness club is that most of the time they do have child watch so that parents can workout. Most of these child watch programs are free with membership or have a minimal fee, so it’s definitely worth looking into and can be beneficial for some fitness time for mom and dad.  Also, some YMCAs will have mommy and me fitness classes such as Zumba, Yoga, etc. I’ve seen these classes include babies as young as 6 months, so don’t think that just because you have a baby these aren’t for you. Do some research, and ask questions about parent-child fitness classes.

 

4) Working Out with a Group

Find a group! Working out in numbers can only motivate you to stay active and have the accountability you need to be consistent. For me, this is with a masters swimming program through USMS and our YMCA. I’m so grateful to have such a great group of individuals to swim with, and I’m glad that it works out well with my schedule! I currently coach for our youth swim team in the morning a couple of days a week, and when it works out, I come in an hour earlier to swim with the masters swim team before I coach.

Thankfully, my husband is willing to watch our little guy while I’m away for a few hours to swim and coach.  I can’t tell you how much I enjoy swimming with this group. Swimming has been a part of my life for 24 years (I can’t believe it’s been that long), and I’m thankful that I’m able to continue doing it into adulthood. Unfortunately, in the fall and winter my schedule doesn’t really permit me to continue doing masters swimming, but I definitely take advantage of it during the summer months.

“Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.” -3 John 1:2

 

How Are You Staying Active?

I’m also interested to hear what you do to stay active? Do you go to a YMCA, workout with a group, run, bike, walk, or something completely different? What keeps you active? Thanks for stopping by, and don’t forget to comment below.

Thankful at 30

Looking Back into my 20s

I recently hit the BIG 3-0!

My twenties really did seem to fly by, and so many life changes took place. I finished college, found the Lord, got a job, got married, bought a house, and had my first child. It’s unbelievable to look back and realize how much has changed in just a decade, and I wonder what God has in store for me next.

I have so much to be thankful for, and this post is about just that- What I’m Thankful for at 30.

 

1) My husband-

He’s truly a man who loves Jesus, loves me, and loves our family with all his heart. He makes me laugh every single day. I love his enthusiasm for life, for the little things, and for us. I’m always fascinated by our differences. I don’t think it’s something I’ve ever told him, but I truly am. In conversations or situations with people, I learn more about who he is in how he responds or reacts.

Our lives teach me more about who he is each day so that I can be a better wife and a better mother for our family. He’s a wonderful dad to our son, and I love watching them bond, play, and laugh together. I’m glad that the Lord blessed us in our relationship, and that we’re on this life journey together. It hasn’t always been easy, or perfect, by any means, but I’m thankful that he’s the one that’s by my side; he’s taught me to look for the good in life.

 

2) My son-

Nothing can fully describe a mother’s love for her child. Motherhood is difficult, but it’s the constant giving of ourselves that brings out the most joyous moments in the relationship we have with our children. It’s a selfless, dying-to-self, tiring job, but it is the most fulfilling job, and it’s one that I will never take for granted. It’s important.

It points me more and more towards Jesus and God’s love for His own children. It reminds me to constantly be turning to Him because there’s no way I could possibly do this on my own. Watching my son learn, explore, cry, laugh, squirm, babble, and discover is one of the most precious gifts I could ever receive, and I’m thankful to be called his mother.

 

3) Friends and Family-

The saying, “it takes a village to raise a child,” is quite true. And I might add to that, “it also takes the village to help keep my own sanity.” I’m so thankful for my friends and family who are wonderful support systems. I tend to be the person that is okay with staying home, playing with my son, being the introvert, reading a book, going on a walk with my dog and son, but I can get stuck in my own little world- it’s all too easy.

I’m thankful to those people in my life who remind me that they are continually there for me, those people who remind me to look outward- to ask for help when I need it.

I’m still learning the importance of asking for help and being humble enough to do so. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of being human, the need for relationship, and the reminder that I’m not God and don’t have it all together.

God placed these wonderful people around me for a reason, and it’s these growing, daily relationships that keep me sane at times. And I’m thankful to those won’t leave me alone.

 

4) My car accident-

In August of 2010, an intentional directional disruption took place in my life.  I was in a devastating car accident that could have taken my life.  It was a needed hardship that God allowed to happen in order for me to be saved.

Prior to my accident, I struggled on a daily basis. Deep within my heart, I desired a relationship with the all-knowing, all-powerful God, but I didn’t know how to get it. I placed too much emphasis on “doing the right thing”, and when I didn’t “do the right thing” I was devastated. I continued to hold myself to a standard I could never reach, and so I chose not to. I chose to chase after things of this world- more education, more money, more fun, more stuff, to fill an empty void that seemed to continue to always be hungry and never satisfied.

In August of 2010, my life changed. As I was crossing four lanes of traffic in my Ford Taurus, I was struck on the driver’s side of my vehicle by a large SUV. I don’t remember getting hit. Thank, God.

car3

car2

car1

I couldn’t open my eyes as I lay on the pavement, but someone was holding my hand. Someone had pulled me out of my vehicle. He said, “Amber, you’re going to be okay. You were in a car accident.” I never met this helpful stranger.

As sirens approached, and I was loaded onto a backboard with straps around my head, I remember intentionally wiggling my toes to make sure I wasn’t paralyzed. My eyes wouldn’t open until I was in the ambulance and on my way to the hospital.

Multiple scans and tests were done. My body hurt, I was vomiting from the pain, but I didn’t know what was wrong. It was then determined that my condition was worse than they had thought, and I was taken in a flight-for-life helicopter to the nearest trauma center. The tests and scans showed I had eight fractured ribs, bleeding on the outside of my brain, a fractured pelvis, a fractured hip, and a punctured lung.

The doctors, my family, and friends were amazed that those were the only injuries I had. I remember someone saying I was lucky to be alive, and another person corrected them by saying that luck had nothing to do with it, and I believe that’s true.

Recovery took some time. I was in the hospital for a week, I had a walker (yes, a walker) for about a month, and then crutches for another month, and then it took about six months to get my strength back. I’m beyond thankful for my current mobility and abilities; I never want to take those for granted.

Throughout this time, God was doing a great work in me. I had a new teaching job, in a new city, without any family within 5 hours of me. It was a lot to tackle on my own after a trauma. God connected me with a wonderful church family that helped me to grow in learning more about who Jesus Christ truly is.

I learned that it wasn’t about my “good” works, it wasn’t about how “good” I was doing from a moment-to-moment basis, it was about what He had already done for me, thousands of years ago, on a cross because He knew me, and loved me, before I knew Him. He was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice so that I could truly be in relationship with Him, so that I could be adopted into God’s family.

The only sacrifice that would cover my sin would be through God sending His Son to die on a cross for me. I needed a pure, holy, Lamb of God who is blameless, sinless, and the ultimate example of God’s true character. Nothing else can restore my relationship with a Holy God, but Jesus. As Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” –John 14:6

As I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I also accepted to follow Him all the days of my life. By this, I’m still an imperfect human being, but because of the acceptance of who Jesus is, I am made perfect in God’s eyes because He sees Jesus’ impeccable record, and not my tarnished one. And because of this undeserved gift that can’t ever be bought or earned, I want to live my life to the glory of God. My good works are now because He works through me, and not because I want to earn his favor.

While I am in the flesh, sin will always be a struggle. But, He continues to mold me day-by-day to be the hands and feet of Jesus, to live a life that glorifies my Father in Heaven. Without the ultimate gift of Jesus, I would not be where I am today. And I pray that He would use my life so that others may come to see Him and know Him.

God used heartache, injury, stress, and chaos to change my entire life into something for His good. Each day I’m learning more and more about God’s character, and I’m excited to continue to learn of who He is for eternity.

So, here I am at 30. Thankful to be here, and thankful for what God did for me and continues to do in my life thanks to Jesus.

 

“Live with Abandon”- Newsboys

 

Reflection:

What are you thankful for today? Even if you are having a rough day, what’s one thing you can say that you’re thankful for?

If you had a time in your life that God really used chaos or a trauma to influence you, what was it? How did He change your life because of your circumstances?

Thanks for sharing!

The Top 5 Vloggers I Follow on YouTube

Vloggers on YouTube

When I was pregnant, and off Facebook at the time, I started looking more into YouTube videos not only for entertainment, but also on how to prepare my hospital bag, family life, adjusting to being a mom, and just genuine encouragement! From there, I really delved into the YouTube world, and I began subscribing to vloggers who I found to be both encouraging and entertaining. I am currently subscribed to about twenty different vloggers, possibly more by the time this is finished, but the following are my top five vloggers (in no particular order), and I’ll explain why!

1) Ellie & Jared

This young couple originally started blogging about their struggle with infertility. Several years later, they now have a 2 ½ year old son, and a 1 year old son. The reason I follow Ellie & Jared is because I really am encouraged by their positivity, the realness of their lives, and their love for their family. They genuinely care about other people, and it shows in their videos. Plus, I give them big props for uploading a YouTube video every day!

2) Jaimie Kight

This young Christian mom of three is truthfully genuine in who she is in each of her vlogs. I find her video uploads inspirational, reassuring, funny, and REAL. She’s honest about the struggles of motherhood and also adds in some beauty tid-bits and favorites. I’ve started reading some great motherhood books thanks to Jaimie! Jaimie posts her videos about twice a week, and she’s also on the Millennial Moms channel, where I’m also a subscriber.

3) Kayley Melissa

I absolutely love her hair tutorials! Obviously, as a mom, I don’t always have time to go crazy on the most intricate hairstyles, but I do enjoy watching her videos, AND, she has some easy hair tutorials for those busy days (which are pretty much every day for moms). Kayley does a wonderful job in communicating the hairstyles she’s doing, and she breaks down the steps for anyone to try.

4) Jordan Page FunCheaporFree

This lady is truly a super mom! She’s 30 years old with 5 kids, and is a fun, cheap, and free queen! Her life is a little crazy with a large family, but she’s the master of saving money, and a genuine example of living a full life on any budget.  Her sense of humor definitely draws me to her vlogs, and I don’t mind the financial wisdom that she continually posts in both her vlog and blog. If you’re looking for a little tune-up to your expenses and bank account, she’s definitely the one to subscribe to!

5) Mama Natural

She’s a 40 year old, Christian, Mid-West mom, who recently moved to Florida, and she vlogs about health and wellness for her family. Her vlogs are all about clean eating, healthy options and alternatives, staying active, and all while having fun! I began following her during my pregnancy and was inspired by her natural and home birth videos.

Well, there you have it, my top 5 vloggers that I am subscribed to via YouTube. I can tell you I’m also subscribed to the Star Wars Channel (thanks to my husband), Carl and Jinger, alittleaboutalot, Bonnie Hoellein (Ellie’s sister, from Ellie & Jared), and several others.

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” -Ephesians 4:29

Are You Following a YouTube Vlogger?

Do you have any vloggers that you follow or continually watch on YouTube? If so, comment below.