That Time I Left Hobby Lobby Empty-Handed and other Musings

I wrote this post last week but then didn’t have an opportunity to share it…so I am doing it today. Since I am now in the final month of my discretionary spending freeze I thought I should recap a bit how February went!

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Happy Friday friends! Can I just tell you how glad I am that it is Friday?! It feels like it has been another LONG week. Maybe it is the constant snow, or the unseasonably cold temps or the beautiful sunset pics my mom sent me from California….but I am longing for sunshine, warmer temps and some time away.

I shared last week that I was disappointed when plans that I wanted to make with Dominic to get away for even a weekend seemed to be falling through. Seeing people share their vacation pics and wallowing in my own self-pity about not being able to go anywhere is a dangerous place for someone like me.

It is so easy to get focused on what I don’t have, to miss ALL the blessings I do have. But even knowing this it is easy for me to get sucked into the desire to want to do something to make me feel better about my present situation.

I had to go to Sioux Falls yesterday for a Dr’s appointment and a hair appointment. I was supposed to see my Dr the month prior but a snowstorm forced me to reschedule. Thankfully I was able to make plans on the same day as my hair appointment and make a day trip out of it.

As a little side note can I just say that I adore my OB/GYN. Years ago, in an emergency situation, she saved my life (and my ability to have 3 more children) in a surgery when a large cyst on my ovary exploded and I bled internally for 8+ hours. She is someone that I fully trust. She comes into the exam room and sits down and says tell me all about your family, what’s happening with your business…she doesn’t rush through the appointment, she takes time to talk through any concerns and I couldn’t be more grateful for her.

Her exam revealed a small (likely not concerning, benign feeling) lump in one of my breasts. I had a mammogram in October and they didn’t find anything then, so hopefully it is nothing. We are going to do a recheck in 8 weeks and if it hasn’t changed (or it has) we will do further diagnostics as needed. I can’t even feel it myself, but it was a reminder to me why taking time to have an annual physical is so important. I am not allowing myself the head space to worry about this at this time…but rather am grateful that I made me and my physical health a priority.

So I share this to encourage you. If you need – make that annual appointment if you haven’t had one recently!

So I had about 2 1/2 hours in between my Dr’s appointment and my hair appointment. I only get to Sioux Falls about every 3 months, so I was excited to do a little running around…but very aware that I was still on my discretionary spending freeze.

I had voxed my best friend on the way to town. I had a few things that I was going to be looking for. Dominic and I had talked about it – we have this space on our bedroom wall above a dresser that needs some artwork and I wanted a couple of new throw blankets for the living room.

BUT I also knew how I was feeling inside. It has been almost 2 months. And after these past few weeks the “desire’ to spend was strong. I knew that I had been given the ok to look (and buy) something but I didn’t want to buy JUST to buy.

Hobby Lobby was my first stop and while I took a few pictures of things and sent them to Dominic, I just didn’t find anything that I absolutely LOVED. I ALWAYS find something at Hobby Lobby, but that day I just didn’t. I couldn’t believe it myself when I walked out the doors empty handed! The same thing happened at Home Goods and Kirklands.

And you know what? It felt good!

And the fact that your best friend gets it and celebrates with me…even better!

Next was a trip to Costco where admittedly I spent a pretty penny on a cart full of grocery items. I also bought a new pack of socks for both Dominic and I. But I stayed away from all the other things, the areas that held items that had a habit of jumping into my cart when I didn’t need them.

I continued my Excel tracking for the month of February and was again shocked at how much we spend on food. Apparently the amount we spend is fairly typical for a family our size. Buying fresher foods costs more. We rarely eat out, we have leftovers most days for lunch. I think overall, even though the amount is higher than I thought it would be, it is for something good for our family.

I am also tracking our clothing expenses, our medical expenses (which we had a bunch of in February with an ER visit, follow up appointment and a large dentist bill for the family), and all the “extras.” So I have a main spreadsheet with every expenditure, and then additional spreadsheets that track those specific items. Yes it is extra work but it helps me break it out and see it for what it is.

At the end of my tracking time I want to be able to see how much we spent on “extra” things. Things like books orders from school, school yearbooks, and a new rug for our living room that Dominic and I agreed together to blow the discretionary spending freeze and order for our living room. These are those items that IF I needed to cut something from our budget, these could be the first things that would go.

I was talking to Dominic yesterday about a purchase I was going to make for a couple of clothing items I needed to order for the kids. Everything was on a great sale, I have always tried to shop frugally. It felt silly calling him over to my desk to show him what I was going to order to “get his permission.” I have always done the shopping for everyone and overall I typically only buy for the kids when they need something.

But I had to remember that the reason I am walking through this season is because I built some really bad habits. I spent when I shouldn’t have, and worse…I hid things and was dishonest more often than I would care to admit. I told him that I was trying to build a new “muscle.” One that included more honesty and certainly more pause when it came to spending.

This month continued to be a challenge for me. I added items into a cart at Old Navy and Evy’s Tree only to later close and cancel those transactions before I made the purchases. I promise you, I can justify just about anything. I found the CUTEST casual dress at Old Navy and it was only $12! But it is WINTER here and right now I just don’t need it. And who knows if I would even still love it come summer! I can’t just buy something because I can, or because I want to feel better. This process has helped me slowly see that I need to turn those impulses over to God and ask Him to help refine me in the areas that I struggle.

And I don’t want to run right out on April 1st back into my old bad habits. I want this time to be transformative, I am praying that God will continue to change me and am grateful for all that I have learned in the process!

Lord, Empty Me of Me…

It has been a long winter. And everyone in the Midwest shouted AMEN! More than just the snow and wind, the frigid temps and the missing days of school, this winter season that began with this new year has been a hard one for me.

I said it before, I knew that choosing to embark on a discretionary spending freeze was going to challenge me but I was hoping that the rest of life wouldn’t also follow suit. I was wrong. The year started with a difficult phone call and a reminder that nothing is certain. We walked into the next few weeks and faced computer and software transition challenges that just about drove me to drink, and I am NOT a drinker…so just know it was BAD.

We have had 6 or 7…maybe 8 full days of no school, plus multiple early outs and late starts. Our kids don’t know what it looks like to attend school for a full week anymore. It has affected their attitudes and parenting has quite frankly been a challenge.

We had 3 of us down with Influenza A, which included a very unfortunate visit to our local ER at 3:30am one morning. It was a rough two weeks and one that I hope we don’t have to revisit anytime soon.

And honestly, I have found myself in a repetitive state of discontentment.

I don’t like admitting that because it makes me sound ungrateful and whiny. And I am. I know it. Recently one of our own friends and church member suffered a stroke after a routine surgery and a brain tumor was found. Her future is uncertain and I believe she is only 50…maybe 49. The heaviness of her situation and her family’s has weighed on me for over a week and I feel guilty for even complaining about the petty issues that I have been dealing with.

But I still find myself there. In that icky place where I know my heart needs some serious work. It is easy to become indifferent though. To stay in this place of discontentment, to allow myself to continue to focus on the negative and see where it takes me.

I know where that kind of thinking takes me and it isn’t healthy or safe. My pride is my own worst enemy, my unwillingness to take responsibility for my negative thinking can and will lead me to a place that is harmful for anyone around me. I don’t want to walk through life with a scowl on my face…apparently that has been common on me as of late.

Lent begins on Wednesday and so it seems fitting that I take the next 40 days to spend some serious time in prayer over my heart. To ask God to empty me of those things that aren’t of Him, those things that can’t and won’t bring Him glory and to fill me with His presence.

I have read the Circle Maker by Mark Batterson a couple of times and in that book he talks about circling something in prayer for 40 days. So I am going to do that. I am going to fervently pray over my attitude, my marriage and my family. And I am going to pray that God would do a work in me during that time.

I know that when we step out in faith and make a declaration that we are going to do something like this that the enemy attacks seem to amp up. At least that is what seems to happen in my own life. It is scary really, to anticipate what might come at me in the next 40 days but I know that this commitment to communion with God in this way is needed and necessary….so I am going to trust that He will give me the strength to walk this journey.

I don’t know about you, but when I find myself at that place where something HAS to change…it is time. And that time is now. I would covet your prayers during this season and if you want to join me in prayer over this next 40 days would you leave a comment below and I will be praying for protection for you as well.

How I Meal Plan

I thought I would take just a minute and share here how we do meal planning in our home. It isn’t anything really fancy and I can’t share a bunch of spectacular, pinnable recipes with you. But I will share what works for us and maybe you could share what works for you too?!

I enjoy cooking and baking but I get tired of making the decisions about what we are going to have each night. And the reality for us is I need to have something planned/prepped ahead of time or dinner time would be cereal and eggs most nights. We work long hours so crock pot meals or things that I can plan in advance are important!

Coming home {late} and having the kids ask what’s for dinner would frustrate and overwhelm me. So several months ago I sat down and made a list of some of their most favorite meals. Every Saturday we will pull the list out and I will ask one or all of the kids to pick a couple of the meals as options for the following week.

Now when I cook, I make big portions. We always have leftovers. So I don’t need 5 meals to plan. Usually 3 gets us through the week. Yes there may be a night we have a pizza or eggs and cereal, let’s be real it happens. And with all the snow days we have had lately, our leftovers have not lasted as long because we are eating them at lunch too. But for a typical week I plan to prep for 3 meals.

Once they have made their choices I will look to see what ingredients I already have to make those meals, and then add the things I don’t to my shopping list. Anything that I can cook/prep in advance I will do on either Saturday afternoon or Sunday afternoon. I like to brown any hamburger or cook any chicken required on those days so they can be stored, either frozen or refrigerated, depending on how quickly in the week we plan to use them.

I also try to have a couple of freezer meals on hand in the event that we change our mind about a meal or {hello snow days for DAYS} and we need some extras. Right now I have a jumbo shells, tator tot hotdish and a spaghetti ham bake frozen meal that we can use.

On Saturday morning I also always make up a large batch of kodiak cake waffles. I started buying their protein packed pancake mix last year at the recommendation of a friend. My kids adapted quickly to the flavor difference, and I liked that the waffles were a much healthier version than the Eggos I had previously purchased. {Here’s a little tip….add a tsp of vanilla per cup of mix to add a little sweetness/flavor}

I make a full 5 cup package each Saturday and then we cut the waffles into 1/4’s and once they have cooled I freeze the pieces in gallon bags. In the mornings the kids pull out the waffles and rewarm them in the toaster! Easy, healthy, filling breakfast and they typically last all week!

This week we are trying to clean out our freezer a little so we are frying up some walleye today that Dominic caught last spring, having pork roast with carrots and potatoes on Sunday, I am frying up the chicken now that will be used to make white bean chicken chili and we also plan to grill hamburgers and pepperjack brats at some point in the week. We fill in where needed with fruit, rice, and various sides. But this type of planning ahead helps relieve some of my stress when it comes to our meal prep and it allows my kids to be actively involved as well!

Last week it seemed like we ate a lot of pasta so we knew we didn’t want any of that this week! On the week Karlena was in change of picking meal choices, she only wanted pizza….so I had to help come up with some ideas that week! It isn’t a perfect system, but it seems to be working overall for us! How to do meal prep each week?

And So I Journey On….

Our pastor has spent the last 5 weeks walking us through the book of Jonah. I love this type of study, one where we piece apart the scripture verse by verse. When they share background about the time period, a better understanding about what the verses mean. It has been a powerful and convicting series for me.

Sometimes it is easier when we are not confronted and convicted with our sin isn’t it?! Jonah found himself there, sleeping in the belly of a ship, while he was the very reason that the storm was raging. Once the shipmates confronted him, he admitted to his sin. v. 12  “Pick me up and hurl me into the sea; then the sea will quiet down for you, for I know it is because of me that this great tempest has come upon you.” {This was Karlena’s favorite part of the story!}

We would rather hide and pretend it isn’t there, until it can’t be ignored any longer. And even then, we may find ourselves repentant and cry out to God – just like Jonah did from the belly of the fish…but have our hearts really been changed?

I feel like I have been trudging through the last 6 weeks of this new year. Seriously has it only been 6 weeks?! It feels like a lifetime. Maybe it is the fact that for the last week I have been dealing with the plague in my home…my children finally, finally seem to be on the mend and {of course} it seems that I am now coming down with something. I could cry. I should be working right now but I can’t focus and my head and body hurts and I just want to cry because I did everything to try and protect myself this past week (while Dominic did nothing) and I am getting sick (and he is fine!) I may be holding a resentment over that. I will pray about it….

Maybe it is the heart work that I feel like God is walking me through over this spending freeze. I am learning a lot yes, but mostly I am being confronted with my own selfishness and sinfulness and while I can admit it is there, I can also just as easily point to someone else and say “yeah but look at that….am I really that bad?!”

I have found myself discontented. I voxed my best girlfriends and said that I just want to run away. Not forever mind you…but for a time. Dominic and I were supposed to go on this trip last October and we had to cancel it. I still fully agree with why we made that choice…but it also was such a disappointment not to be able to get away. So I have been longing to try and arrange something, anything to escape for a weekend away.

Up until now there have been roadblocks. Timing wasn’t good, prices too high, doors closed for various reasons but then yesterday I thought that “the stars had aligned” and I might be able to pull something together. I almost booked the airline tickets without asking Dominic, but in an effort to really stay true to this issue of being open about my spending, I waited until we could talk about it.

As you can imagine the incredibly LOW price I found on the airfare was a very limited time offer and because I didn’t jump immediately, I missed out. Dominic had some other ideas about some fun things we could do instead. Ways we could do a family trip later in the year, or a more affordable way we could get away to the Cities for the weekend instead. Both valid but not what I wanted.

When things don’t go MY WAY, how do I respond?!

Our pastor asked if we are a glass half full or a glass half empty type of person? I have always been half empty. Focused on the negative. I don’t like that part of me. I try and focus on gratitude but the reality is, when things don’t go my way I instantly feel slighted. “It’s not fair!”

I guess the positive is that I have started to recognize this character defect much sooner when it happens. I used to wallow in self-pity for days/weeks. Today I can see it for what it is and recognize it as an opportunity for God to teach me something new. Even when I am not happy about it.

And hopefully I can use these moments as teachable opportunities for my kids as well.

Yesterday Elijah came to me upset about something at school. In the upcoming school musical he was assigned the drum to play when he really wanted to play the xylophone. He said the drum is sooo easy and his part isn’t hard at all. He just has to keep a constant beat. I told him that I was sorry and immediately he responded “I know, I know, life isn’t fair…”

And he is right – life isn’t fair. But I told him that doesn’t mean that it isn’t hard to accept when things don’t go our way. I told him that when I am doing something I don’t really want to do I try and turn my heart towards how that activity could honor God. That when we do our best with a good attitude, it can honor Him.

And then I reminded him that the drum has a very important part in the band. The drum keeps the beat for the rest of the musicians. So having a good drummer that can play well is so important. Even if it feels insignificant, it is integral to the entire performance.

There are days that the mundane parts of my life seem insignificant. I start wishing for a getaway that will bring me something that I think I can’t find at home. When the reality has been I haven’t done a great job in being intentional about making time for rest and connection here a priority.

I have a choice to make every day. Some days that choice comes without even thinking and I can find gratitude immediately. Other days I have to fight for it, I have to pray that God would continue to refine my heart so that it would be more like His. That is the continual faith walk isn’t it? A constant renewing of our heart and mind to the things of Christ. I pray He gives me strength for the continued journey because I know it won’t be easy. If it were though…I wouldn’t need Him like I do, so desperately. And so I journey on.

I’m Right Here, You Are Not Alone

“I’m right here, you are not alone…” I whispered those words out loud to Elijah as he fell back asleep. I was laying on our couch while my youngest son slept on the floor next to me. The hum of the humidifier was masked by the labored sound of his breathing.

The night before had been a scary one for me. I shared the following on Facebook yesterday.

“This wasn’t how I planned to spend my early morning hours. Elijah had a dry scratchy, throat on Sunday morning. No fever, no other symptoms. Fine all day. Wanted to go to the church Super bowl party. He ran around a bit and all of a sudden was super tired and his throat was hurting. I had him sit and rest and eventually he fell asleep. He woke up and he had lost his voice, throat in bad shape so Dominic took him home. I arrived home a short time later and he had a fever of 103. It all came on so quickly. 

He fell asleep and next thing I knew it was 3:30am and he is crying at my bed telling me he can’t breathe. He sounded terrible, couldn’t take a deep breath and we didn’t know what to do. Dominic had him take a shower to see if the steam would loosen things up but it didn’t help…so I took him to the ER. Not really where you want to end up but I wasn’t sure what was going on and if I could wait 4 hours for the clinic to open.

Making those decisions is hard. We don’t just always rush to the Dr and certainly not the ER…but it was confirmed that he had Influenza A and croup. He was given a medicine/treatment that helped open his upper airway and is has made a tremendous difference already. He still has a fever and has completely lost his voice. The Dr said this could hang on for 7-10 days.

Would you say a little pray for our Elijah. For quick healing and that this stays out of his lungs. Also please pray for protection for the rest of us.”


It seems as though the croup is causing us more problems right now than even the Influenza. When we were in the ER they had an O2 monitor on Elijah. It said that his oxygen levels were really good. He stayed right around 97-98%. So while it felt like he couldn’t breathe, the reality was his body was getting enough oxygen.

But tell that to the boy who feels like he is suffocating and can’t take a full breath. I am certain it is terrifying. At one point last night he was just crying that he was so scared. He was worried that his throat was going to continue to close and he would die. Because that is how it felt to him.

I rubbed his back and tried to calm him. I told him over and over that his oxygen level was fine. He asked me how I knew. I didn’t, but I prayed that I was right. I told him to go take a hot shower to try that and I admitted to Karlena that I was so so worried about my boy. “We need a miracle” I said.

Several minutes went by and Elijah came back down. The hot water had caused him to cough really hard and he threw up. Apparently a “bunch of snot came out” (sorry for the grossness of it all) and when that happened he was finally able to breathe more freely. Praise God!

Karlena looked at me and said “Mom, you wanted a miracle and you got a miracle.” I will take it. Miracle or not…it was such a relief for a few hours.

I knew that I wanted to be near him so that I could hear him while he slept. Neither one of us slept well last night. He was up several times, coughing and struggling to breathe well. Not as bad as the night before…but certainly not a night of peaceful rest.

Each time he would stir awake I would whisper those words, “I’m right here, you are not alone…” I know he is scared right now and I needed him to know that I wasn’t going to leave his side.

And in the dark of the middle of the night I knew that I had heard those same words over and over in my spirit. “I’m right here, you are not alone…” There have been many moments that I was the one awake and afraid. Worried about what was going to happen, wondering if things were going to be ok…struggling to breathe. Yet God was always there for me. Comforting me with peace even in the unknown, being my firm foundation when I could not stand on my own.

I am able to be that comfort to my son because my Father has been that shelter for me time and time again. I felt such a feeling of gratefulness last night. I am not happy about my son’s present circumstance and I wish I could take it from him…but I am so grateful to know that God is with us in every moment. We are not alone.

I don’t know what circumstance may be crushing your spirit, making it hard for you to breathe…but may I remind you that you can give those fears and worries over to God. He IS with you and you are not alone.

January “No Spend” Recap

Example Budget Form

Well the first month in my 1st Quarter spending freeze is over and I thought I would come here and just share some of my highs and my lows!

I knew that going on this budget would be difficult for me. I have an impulse problem, I shared about that. And specifically I seem to be even more impulsive when I am struggling (angry, sad, grumpy etc…) Well January was a TOUGH month. From computer problems that extended on for weeks and made me VERY crabby, to general stresses with work and home life – I was over January by about the 7th.

I called my best friend and said I just wanted to buy something, anything to feel better. A true indication that there is a problem if I feel like that is the only thing that will cure my woes.

For the most part I was determined. I wanted to be able to remain strong. I wanted to break old, bad habits and create better, more healthy new ones. I can’t say that I am totally there yet but I feel like I am on my way.

I shared earlier this month that I started an Excel spreadsheet to track all of our spending. I wanted to be able to look at the month and see where we had spent our money and on what. I worked on finalizing that this morning and it was very interesting.

We spend a LOT on food. More than I realized. When we had met with our financial adviser and he had asked us to estimate that number I told him at least half the amount we apparently actually spend. And that doesn’t include a cost for household supplies. Now some of my expenditures in January won’t need to be repeated in February.

I had a 10% off coupon from Walmart to order online with them by the 15th. It was good up to $20 off – which means I needed to spend $200 on items to get the full 10% off discount value. To do this I ordered 3 bulk packs of toilet paper, kleenex, several jars of spaghetti sauce and noodles and cereal. All things we use pretty regularly and many items that will last us well into February and maybe even March.

It will be interesting to see how that number fluctuates in the months going forward. But doing this exercise opened my eyes to what we really spend and helps me plan going forward.

While there were many “wins” this month, I didn’t end this month perfectly either. There were lots of conversations about spending. More than once I told the kids no when they asked if they could purchase a movie or a mod on their Kindle. I did say that we could talk to Dominic about it and see if it was something he agreed to. Interestingly the topic didn’t come up again…hmmm.

There were some purchases that I made that absolutely would be considered “discretionary” but in the grand scheme were minimal and necessary (justify much?!) Karlena doesn’t fuss with her hair at all. She rarely lets me comb it, so when she mentioned wanting to find something that would dry and maybe style her hair a little I perked up. When I just blow dry her hair it becomes a tangled, huge mess. Most days she was going to school with pretty wet hair.

I had seen a Revlon Hairdryer/Brush combo advertised online and it had a bunch of good reviews. It went on sale from $60 to $43 and I had $14 in Amazon free credit points built up…so I bought it. It is AMAZING. I know we could have waited until after April to purchase this, but it has worked so well, and so quickly…it was worth every cent.

I also bought myself a new $12 belt. Again I didn’t NEED it right this moment – but I saw it and bought it. That was my biggest fail this month I suppose. I justified it again because I told Dominic, it was cheap and my old one is wearing out. But the reality was I didn’t need it right then and could have waited until my older one really bit the bullet. I see it for what it is. I needed to get something and this was an easy out for me.

I did also go out to eat twice, once with some girlfriends and once with a larger group of girlfriends. Total those meals cost me $34. And our family went out to eat for fun one night at Perkins. For a family of 5 we spent $69. The food was ok but it was a reminder to me why we don’t often eat out. I can make much more food (and better IMO) for much cheaper.

Some unexpected but needed expenses came up when I had to buy new shoes for Karlena and new snow boots for Elijah. I also decided (with Dominic’s full approval) to shop ahead and purchased a new larger winter coat for Elijah for next fall/winter. He will need the larger size and this one was on 60% off clearance so it made sense to buy it now instead of at a more expensive cost later this year.

Again I am tracking on my spreadsheet on a separate form to record all clothing expenses so that I can see how much that adds up to over the course of a year as well.

I am sure that all of this spending and budget talk is boring but it is good practice for me to not only spend some time looking back at my month, the wins and the losses, as well as making a record for later. I don’t want this time to be one of just suffering through 90 days and then going right back to my bad habits.

I have said it before, I need to develop better habits and response mechanisms. Maybe I will walk away from this experience with a budget that helps me stay on track. Maybe I will be able to continue to say no when the purchase isn’t a need right now. Maybe this will develop in me that pause that I have been lacking.

I was talking with a friend last night and said that I had gotten into such a habit of impulse that I would just buy things and ended up not loving them. Now my closet has things in it I force myself to wear not because I love them or the way I look but because I don’t want the cost the be wasted. If nothing else, this will hopefully help me to be more considerate of the whys of my purchases.

So while January was a bear in many ways it was also eye opening and valuable and I am grateful that I am going through this.

#CurlyGirl Hair Routine Revisited

My Deva Curl Favorites

A few years ago I shared my #CurlyGirl hair routine here. You can go back and read that post if you are interested. Some of the things I wrote about have stayed the same and several things have changed since that post so I thought that I would do an update again!

Let me start by saying that I am NO expert. I have found things that work well for MY hair. My type of curly hair is likely different than yours (if you have curly hair) so the best advise I can give you is to keep trying things until you find something that works for you! There is a LOT of information out there, lots of methods and books etc. and it can get overwhelming to know what to try.

I will be sharing the things that have worked best for me and maybe will give you a place to start on your own journey!

When I posted last I was still getting perms. If you can believe it, I have been perm free for over 2 years now! I used to perm my hair every 18 months or so. I thought that I needed to do that to keep the curl. I never had a cut that I loved and wouldn’t have considered not getting a perm.

BUT one day I decided to see if I could find a stylist that specialized in cutting curly hair. I had seen the”Deva Curl” method online and I found a girl in Sioux Falls that was a master stylist. Going to a hair appointment that is a 2 hr drive away was not ideal, but I was willing to try it because I felt like I had never really had a cut that worked for me.

Mickie cut my hair in a completely new way. First of all if you have curly hair it should be cut DRY! Mickie cuts my hair dry and with the wave of the curl. This was the most nontraditional haircut I had ever had but when it was done I had a shape to my hair that was amazing. It was seriously THE BEST haircut of my life. 42 years I waited for that cut. 42 years.

I was worried about what would happen when my re-perm date came around again because Mickie didn’t do those…but she said she thought that because of the correct haircut I might find I didn’t need/want it. Man was she right! The cut made all the difference and I have been shocked at how much natural curl I seem to have!

So onto my styling routine. I do use mostly Deva Curl products. They are expensive, but they work great and a little goes a long way. My hair feels better when I use these products. My stylist recommended that I only shampoo once to twice a week. I do that on Wednesday and Sunday. On the other days I wet my hair and put a small amount of conditioner in it and rinse it out. I also put a small amount of conditioner in as a leave in. Helps with tangles.

When I get out of the shower I immediately lightly pick through my hair and apply a nickle sized amount of Deva Curl Ultra defining gel onto my dripping wet hair. I do this all with my head upside down. Then I use my Deva Curl towel (which I got for free when I ordered a large set of shampoo and conditioner) and squeeze out a bunch of the moisture.

Then I apply some mousse. Currently I am using a Loreal Curl Defining Mousse that they no longer make. I have a stockpile of about 6 cans left…after that is gone I am going to have to find a replacement and I am sad. I have tried a few other brands and hate them. The Loreal brand was alcohol free and not sticky. It gave me volume but not crunchy curls. I wish they still made it! Finally I put a nickle sized amount of Deva Curl B leave in on and then I re- scrunch my hair (still upside down) with my towel.

The towel is great because it takes out moisture without causing frizz like a regular towel can. You can use a t-shirt as well – which I did a few years ago, but this towel works even better!

So here is what my hair looks like after all my product has been applied but it is still pretty wet.

Product applied and the front pulled back so I can dry it. Sans make-up!

So I am one that hates to have hair in my face so I always pull my hair back. To add some volume to your crown, you can pull your hair up and clip it in loops a little while drying. I pull my hair back and it drys and stay that way. You could opt to let it down again after it is dry I suppose.

Next I go to phase 2, the drying phase. Now I know this will sound weird to most people…but it has worked for me and while I dry my hair I do my makeup, so it is like a 2 in one. We have a smaller space heater in our spare bedroom and I sit in front of that space heater and let the warm air dry my hair. I used to sit and scrunch my hair while it dried…but I learned that is “breaking the curl cast” and we don’t want that.

Instead I put on my makeup and basically when I am done with that, the top layer of my hair is mostly dry. Here is my hair dry.

Hair dry not styled

I suppose I could leave my hair like this…but I just feel like (at least for the professional office setting I work at) this look is a little unpolished – for me. So I do take a few minutes and curl just a couple of sections on my hair. I would say this part of the process takes less than 7 minutes. I curl maybe 5-6 curls on each side. Sometimes if it is getting closer to my next cut it may be a little more…my hair starts to get unruly. But for the most part it is a quick process.

Hair curled

I don’t really pick through the curls much until after they are completely cooled. I will spray with a little hairspray and then later tousle them up a bit. The curls “fall” a bit throughout the day but I don’t mind that at all. I typically don’t have to re-curl anything. A few years ago I would sometimes curl my hair a 2nd time during the day because the curls wouldn’t hold! Crazy!

What has been great about this new process is that I went from getting my hair cut every 7 weeks to now every 11-12 weeks. My hair is healthier (and happier) than it has ever been. It is also shorter than I used to wear it. As much as I liked a longer style…my hair looks and feels the best at this length.

So there you go! All you need – and maybe didn’t want to know – about my #Curlygirl routine. And before I go let me also say this…I know that my routine might seem like a lot for some people. Even when I am not leaving the house for a day I will get up and get fully ready at some point. It is that thing I do for me that makes me feel good. There have been days I have wished for stick straight hair that I could comb and go, or long hair that would give me a cute messy bun…but I just don’t have that hair. I have learned to love my hair and embrace my routine. So find what makes you feel good and do that for you!

And if you do have curly hair – do you have a favorite mousse? I am going to be in the market soon. Leave me a comment if you do!

Reconfigured

This was my view for what seemed like a VERY long time yesterday. Let me give you a bit of the back story. See at the very beginning of the year we (Dominic) started talking about this new online software program that we were going to need to start using as a part of program that creates our estate plan documents for clients.

I was less than thrilled because A) CHANGE and B) CHANGE. So there you go, a look into my mindset and how I was feeling about the switch. With this discussion we (Dominic) started talking about our online storage, backup process and some issues we were having with our current Outlook software.

We (Dominic) decided to take the plunge and make some changes and start the new year fresh. Now let me pause and say this. Dominic always asks my preference on things here at the office. He knows that I manage a lot of different things that he doesn’t often handle, so he absolutely takes into consideration how I am feeling about any process changes.

So know that I am joking just a little when I say that this was all his idea. Of course we talked through everything, and he took my thoughts into consideration. But mostly my thoughts were “Let’s just not make any changes until we absolutely are forced to please.” {Insert some stomping of feet here for dramatic effect as well} So being the wise business owner that he is…he had to make decisions based on reality and fact not on irrational(which were slightly rational) fears. Ultimately I know it will be the right move and we will be happy once everything is working correctly but you guys so far IT HAS BEEN A NIGHTMARE.

If it could go wrong IT HAS. If the process should have been simple and quick, an unexpected error would occur. We (Dominic) have spent HOURS and HOURS on the phone with tech support and his brother (more tech support) trying to figure out what the issues are. At one point Google Drive had triplicated every client file we had and all of its contents as well. All of a sudden my computer with its large SSD drive was completely packed full of memory and nothing would sync. #GoodbyeGoogleDriveYouHaveFailedUs

I am a less than a model citizen when things like this happen. I tend to get very “frustrated”…which Dominic correctly labeled one evening as coming off as seeming more like anger than anything else. And he is right. I have been angry. Angry that it isn’t easy and isn’t going the way it should. Angry that we had to make the switch in the first place and cause all of the problems. I know that growing pains can be a good thing but in the thick of it, I just feel the pain!

Today we are stuck in limbo. Our Outlook 365 “exchange server” isn’t connecting for some reason. I don’t even know what that means. Dominic is out of town for client meetings and I am at the office trying to do work that doesn’t include emails, Word or Excel. Difficult to say the least. I am supposed to drive to Sioux Falls tomorrow for a Dr’s appointment that I scheduled a year ago and am hearing now that by tomorrow morning we may be in a blizzard warning because of high winds and the snow cover that fell a few days ago.

I am irritated and short tempered about all of it and to be completely honest today is one of those days that I would normally go and feel justified in stopping at my favorite clothing store here in town, owned by a good friend, and buying myself a little something nice. Because a pretty new sweater makes a girl feel good when everything around her feels like crap.

I know my issues are totally trivial compared to so many, but there are days when the struggle piles on and it feels like too much and as I shared in the last few weeks – I have had a typical response mechanism to stress in the past. Especially when Dominic is out of town. He wouldn’t even know, at least not right now. the lie tells me.

And I look at the calendar and see it has only been 23 days. 23 days Lord and what has changed? I am still this crabby, angry, frustrated person inside. There still isn’t a full measure of peace within me. That truth itself could be overwhelming because it is true. Without God’s grace and mercy I am a MESS. But while not everything has been reconfigured in my heart yet….some things have.

Today, even though I want to and even when I could…I won’t stop and buy something to try and put a bandaid on the stress my heart carries. Today I recognize that it won’t fix the deeper problem. Today I paused. I deleted birthday coupons from my inbox because usually an offer of $10 free led me to spending way more than $10. I let go of $9 in product credit because it was going to cost me almost $6 to ship something to me, and I don’t need anything right now.

Little by little and with God’s CONSTANT help, my heart and my mindset is being reconfigured. I should have known when I committed to this “fast” that God would use it as an opportunity to reveal some of the deeper character flaws that I have. YUCK.

If all this has been revealed in 23 days I am a little scared about what is to come. #kiddingnotkidding

Change my heart oh God,
Make it ever true.
Change my heart oh God,
May I be like You.

You are the potter,
I am the clay,
Mold me and make me,
This is what I pray.

What’s Seen and What’s Unseen

We had a busy weekend. I spent my Saturday doing more laundry than I thought was possible in a day. I washed blankets and sheets until the hot water ran out! I spent time in both Karlena and Elijah’s room helping them clean and organize their spaces.

I don’t know about your kids, but clutter happens quickly in my home and things escalate and pretty soon there are piles everywhere and their rooms are a disaster. The aftermath of Christmas had exploded in their spaces and something needed to be done.

So we sorted and threw away and donated and found the floor again! It was a beautiful thing. I almost took a picture of it and then decided not to. It is easy for me to take a carefully crafted picture of how tidy my space or my life looks and share it with the world.

It is a lot harder to share those places that I would rather remain hidden.

Thus the reason for choosing to share a picture of our horrific “craft closet” space instead. The picture above doesn’t even do the full space justice. I couldn’t capture the entire mess in one shot. It is BAD.

This closet is a large walk-in closet that is in Elijah’s room. Last year we converted it into a craft space, a place where the kids could go and create and make a mess. It has the worst, oldest carpet in it…so I am the least worried about this area getting destroyed over other spaces in our home. But as you can see, things have gotten out of control in here.

I can, for the most part, close the door and ignore what is happening in here if I want. But the reality is unless I am willing to get in there and work through the mess….the clutter will remain.

Several weeks ago we had our new Pastor’s kids over to our house for a few hours. Their kids were hanging out with our kids and in preparation our kids had cleaned their rooms (as best as they were able) and I had straightened up the main living spaces that I thought might be seen. Again thinking that all those places we didn’t want “exposed” to our new neighbors/friends…we could easily hide away.

When our pastor came back to get his kids I said to Dominic “don’t take him on a tour of the entire house…especially not the basement.” I had this fear that he might do this and knew that I would be HORRIFIED if these people, who were new to our family, were allowed to see the real us.

Sure enough a full on tour ensued. Dominic said, “my wife told me not to do this, but….” All I could do was shake my head and laugh. Of course this was happening. You see I am THAT person. The one that wants to look like it is all good on the outside when inside my “mess” is out of control.

And exposing others to who I really am is risky. What if I am rejected. Isn’t that the age old fear? Putting ourselves out there and then being judged as not worthy?

But this weekend I was again reminded that community is SO important. And community with people who will love you in your mess, even more so. I need to be able to not be “fine” when I am not fine.

Life is HARD. I bet if you searched the pages of this blog you would find I said that very statement time and time again. It hasn’t gotten any easier. The Bible even promises that we will have trouble, why are we always so surprised by it?!

So knowing that this is going to be a world full of difficulties, how do we want to walk through this life? I personally need to be surrounded by people who will let me be real. Who will hold me accountable for those things that need to be addressed and will reassure me that my worth is more than my darkest closet secrets.

Of course there are things that I would rather you not know. Like the fact that I lost my temper this morning at my youngest son. He was being disrespectful and rude and it made me so angry. Instead of being an adult. Instead of pausing and praying for even a small measure of peace before I reacted I just did what I always do when I am faced with disrespect and I got mad.

It was an AWFUL way to start my morning and even worse, his. Fortunately I was able to pull it together before he had to go to school and I apologized to him. I told him that he was a lot like me. I told him that I HATED having to take responsibility for myself when I was wrong…especially when it came to disagreements with Dominic. I myself fought saying I was sorry and I told him that it was something that I too needed grace for and needed to be better at.

As he got out of the car to go to school I reminded him how much I loved him, but my heart hurt over the unnecessary damage that I caused only moments before. You see I will share the pretty Bible quotes and memes and do my best to be an encouragement to someone else, but the reality is my heart inside is yucky. I am in desperate need of a Savior every day. Every moment.

I know we all have these moments, these parenting “fails” and I am not going to wallow in self-pity over my mistakes. But it is important that we are willing to be honest about those areas where we struggle, to remain accountable to others and to praise God when we see small changes and victories that are a direct result of His work in our lives. I know that I have so much growing to do, but today I am willing and able to be more honest about my messes than I was even a few years ago. That is a praise!

We don’t have to be ashamed about those areas where we struggle. We can see them as opportunities for God to work in and through us.

My hope is that I can be an encouragement here, to show you that I don’t have it all together and while I am not super thrilled about sharing my messes with the world…I am committed to walking the road of transparency. God continues to use my junk and transform it into something beautiful.

It is incredible to me that God does this. That a holy, righteous, perfect God could use us in our messes to share His hope and light with a dark world. I have made so many mistakes in my life. And yet His unending grace and abounding love is available to me. I just am so so grateful – how can we not share that?!

Fixing My Eyes on Jesus

It is an interesting thing this life. The start of a new year brings the opportunity to pause and reflect, to have hope for the coming days.

I shared last week that because of some bad choices, after what was an incredibly difficult year….I chose to embark on a discretionary spending freeze for the first quarter of 2019.

I wanted to take some time and not only look at establishing a budget and an understanding of where our money goes each month, but I also wanted to get at the root cause of why it is that when I feel bad (or sad, angry, hurt, frustrated etc.) that my impulse response tends to be to do something to make myself feel better and that “something” for me has been buying things.

It is humbling being confronted with your sin. Let me be clear here too…for me, spending in this way, as an emotional response without pausing, without going to God, has become a sin in my life. It has become something that I have done in secret, I have hidden it from my husband, I have justified my actions. THAT makes it a sin for me.

So I knew that sin nature needed to be addressed. I also knew that in making a public admission of my faults and my intentions for this quarter, put me at risk for enemy attacks. We are only 8 days in and it has come as no surprise that these first several days have been filled with difficulty.

I have taken some proactive steps and started a spreadsheet to start tracking our monthly budget. I admittedly have no idea how much we spend each month on things like groceries and household items. We use Amazon subscribe and save for many things, which is handy and convenient, but when the bill comes at the end of the month I just pay it. I haven’t ever realized where the products purchased were being used, in regards to a budget.

Tracking those things is a start. Making a list of those required monthly bills was also important. As business owners, we have monthly expenses that come each month for the business as well as expenses that come each month for our personal family. Listing them all out so we could see them was good for us.

I also took some time to start cleaning out various spaces in our home. My closet was the first place to start. I was humbled (and horrified) to find several gifts that I had purchased for Karlena and Elijah, some maybe even 3 years ago, that I had never given them. Buying in advance can have its advantages, but when the gift goes ungiven in your closet for years….that is a waste. I will find a place to donate these, but it was another eye opener as to why this process is so important for me.

And then today I got a call. It was a call I didn’t want to get and honestly came on an “anniversary” date that carries with it a lot of heartache. I am absolutely broken for this loved one and this enemy attack feels like a personal one. And quite honestly I am ticked. I am angry that these difficulties have to come. As a fixer, I just want to make things better. And as much as I want to, I honestly can’t fix this.

I remember the desperation I felt last year, the worry and anxiety and hopelessness. I have been reading the book “It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way” by Lysa Terkeurst. It has been such a gift to me, speaking to me in advance of this moment today. She says this, “Every time we face anything that causes us to cry out to God, let’s declare that this hard time will be a holy time, a close-to-God time.”

So that is what I am doing. I read through 2 Corinthians 4:8-18 this morning (I am sharing it below) and it speaks such hope to us. I don’t have to like trials that come at me or those I love, but I am not without hope because of who Christ is in me. I am trying to pray that God would just be present and not pray MY will in this situation. Trusting that God knows the best outcome and that no matter what God will not abandon us. I am holding on to that today.

My response in hard times has been to run out and get something to make myself feel better. Today I am going to seek to find my peace and contentment in prayer and praise of who God is. All I have is Christ….


2 Corinthians 4:8-18 New Living Translation (NLT)

8 We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. 9 We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. 10 Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.

11 Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies. 12 So we live in the face of death, but this has resulted in eternal life for you.

13 But we continue to preach because we have the same kind of faith the psalmist had when he said, “I believed in God, so I spoke.”[a] 14 We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus,[b] will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself together with you. 15 All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory.

16 That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are[c] being renewed every day. 17 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

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