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Drowning in the Mess of Yes (Part 1)

**I am excited to be featured at the WOW Weekly Moment this week sharing the first of three posts in a series, Drowning in the Mess of Yes.** 

There have been times in my life when I would have loved to have the flu. Yes, you read that correctly.

Once or twice I have found myself so busy, so overwhelmed, so just plain tired of tired— that I would have nearly enjoyed an illness just so that I might spend a day or two in bed, with my pajamas and a book. Now of course no one really wants to be sick, even if it means peace and quiet. But I am certain we can all agree that we often do not realize how badly we need rest until we are completely maxed out, worn out, and stressed out. Our edges frazzle and fray until we feel the unraveling in every area of life. And, often it does take a season of sickness or utter exhaustion to really get our attention.

But how do we get this way?

Many of the responsibilities we have are necessary. The people we serve need that service. We have commitments we cannot easily get out of. Much of what we do seems good and right and God-honoring. And after all, if we have these gifts— should we not we be using them? Often we think it righteous to be completely exhausted as long as we are completed exhausted serving God.

How do we go from being involved in good things to being 100% overwhelmed?

Scripture is clear that God does not call us to a life of ease, to be on a perpetual spiritual vacation— only doing those things which are easy and require little sacrifice. But many of us have one particular problem and it is not a lack of sacrifice, but instead the inability to say “NO.”

When we choose to say “yes,” to every single good thing anyone offers us, we often miss out on God’s best REST. All of these good things can sometimes add up to being overwhelmed and unable to absorb any outside bumps. This leads to not enough rest, not enough soul time, not enough margin. This is a problem.

In elementary school when we learned to write, our teachers often said, “Skip Lines.” That space between the lines and the margins on the paper gave them space to correct, adjust, and make changes.

Friend, this is what our God wants from us. Room to breathe so we are free to hear Him speak. Room that God can use to move in us. Room to adjust our day to suit His purposes. Margin to insert the things into our days and weeks that HE would have us do. Things He would have us be available for. We often may miss divine appointments and the needs of others, because we are just too distracted with ourselves and our schedule.

When we live our lives from the top of one page to the very bottom of it— with no white space, no breathing room, no margin—- we miss out on the rest that strengthens us.

%22For thus said the Lord God, the Holy

This rest that saves us, the rest that strengthens us to continue, is something that God knows we need so desperately. He created us with humanity woven into our deepest parts, and that humanity cries out for His rest and refreshing.

Are there things in your life you know should not be there? Are there commitments which God did not call you to but that you assumed for yourself? Are there elements of your life that are constructed in such a way that leave no room for God to work? May I encourage us both to do one simple thing this week?

Ask Him.

Open your schedule before Him and ask Him what should be removed or adjusted to make room for Him to be the schedule maker.

When He is the schedule-maker and we check every new commitment with Him first, we will find that His plans are better.

We will find not that everything will go according to plan; but that the God who truly has planned our future and orders all our tomorrows will have His rightful place in our lives.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” —Jeremiah 29:11

Next Monday— Addition & Subtraction: Making Adjustments to Create Space


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Summer Reading List (2015 edition)

Summer Reading ListFriends! We are 7 days away from Summer vacation in the Stuckey household. I CANNOT STAND IT.

If you find yourself knee deep in the end-of-the-year-can’t-help-its, hop on over and read Jen Hatmaker’s spit your coffee out funny post on being that mom at the end of the year. Never mind the fact that Lucy is only in half-day Kindergarten and her teachers are the most lovely, laid back– but still teaching my child a plethora of everything she needs to know– individuals ever. I’m really really going to miss them. We hit the teacher jackpot this year and I might just cry when school is over. Maybe. Or I might just pack us all up in the family truckster and head to the POOL. Because nothing says bring on the summer like handfuls of sunscreen.

OH. and that reminds me. You mamas of older children have seriously been holding out on me. Not one of you has mentioned the heaven-sent BLISS that is going to the pool with ZERO swim diapers. It seriously occurred to me just the other day in Target and I just about did the Carlton Banks (what? you don’t remember what the Carlton Banks looks like? Click HERE and go to :55 seconds. You’re welcome.) Anyway, I did that when I realized that this, summer, 2015 will be the first official summer in my entire parenting career that I have ever enjoyed without diapering a single child. Glory.

This week I finished two really great books. One I mentioned earlier this week, and Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way by Shauna Niequist. Bittersweet was so lovely and I’ve been rationing out its’ chapters since March, not wanting to finish it. Then I got a little greedy and read more than three chapters at a time and I put it aside for a week. I know. I’m ridiculous. But nobody writes like Shauna. 

With Modern Mrs. Darcy publishing her Summer Reading Guide tomorrow, I finally gave some thought to my own Summer Reading List. Once I put them all out on the table, I realized how overly ambitious I am. Most of the titles are lighter, fiction works with a couple of non-fiction titles. And yes, there is a theme of food writing, because well, research!

Ok without further ado but in no particular order–

IMG_42431.My Life In France, Julia Child with Alex Prud’homme

2.Where’d You Go, Bernadette, Maria Semple

3.Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, Barbara Kingsolver

4.You Are a Writer , Jeff Goins

5. Lizzy and Jane, Katherine Reay

6.Delicious! Ruth Reichl

7.Bossypants, Tina Fey

8.Anne of Avonlea and Anne’s House of Dreams, Lucy Maud Montgomery

Your turn! Have you read any of these? Thoughts? What are you hoping to read this summer?

*Some affiliate links included.


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Nobody’s Cuter than You

You don’t need a ton of friends, Honey. You only need a few really good friends who are always there for you,” stated my Mom.

I’m sure I nodded outwardly while fighting the urge to roll my teenage eyes with the limited understanding that she in fact, did not understand teenage friendship– thankyouverymuch. Mothers always have a way of being right. Especially when they have valiantly braved the Battle of Little Big Horn that is raising a teenage daughter.

Years later in College, her words came back in true comfortable fashion as I found myself sharing life with a handful of sweet friends. We sat in a hushed library and snickered softly while flipping through Greek vocab cards. We passionately rid our room of a cricket once in the middle of the night. We slid down the stairs on a mattress, just for fun. We made Quesadillas like real Senoritas and killed our fair share of house plants. We baked each other birthday cakes, laughed hard, and occasionally ate a vegetable. We opted out of Doctrine class a handful of times* to usher in spring with ice cream and a sunny walk. We drank hot tea with scones and talked about the future. Then when the immediate future came knocking on our little townhouse door, we watched each other fall in love, get married, and grow up seemingly all at once. We stood by in satin and millions of bobby-pins and watched each other walk down the aisle to a sunny tomorrow. We have shared both in one another’s great happiness and unexpected sadness.

Today we’re all spread out in several corners of the world. Babies on our hips, our knees hugged by littles. I often wish we could cash in on one more girl’s night, one more night of serious conversation punctuated with the occasional snort-laugh. I know that we would have even more to say now that God has given us little copycats with our same quirks. Even though I may wish we could share the same zip code again– we are still strongly connected. The love that grew us together as we grew up runs deep. Whether we steal a couple hours together once a year or we keep up across the miles with pictures and messages, my life is enriched because of those women.

I recently read a book that caused me to reflect and appreciate those friendships forged over mid-terms and mall trips. Melanie Shankle’s newest book, Nobody’s Cuter than You: A Memoir about the Beauty of Friendshipis every bit as warm and comforting as a day with my girls way back then. Y’all. I loved this book almost as much as I love Melanie!

She hilariously recounts her growing up with friends stories, both the ones that lasted a lifetime and those that came and went with the seasons of life. Melanie is respectful and caring as she shares and invites the reader into that sacred space of close community. I literally walked away from the book feeling as though I personally knew Melanie, Gulley, Tiff, and Jen! This is Melanie’s third memoir (you can find the other two here.) The first two, Sparkly Green Earrings and The Antelope in the Living Room were equally as delightful, but Nobody’s Cuter than You adds a new element of roll-on-the-floor laughter. Still, Melanie tenderly shares those unexpected heartaches of life and the importance of “having your people” there with you through it all.

The unquestionable BEST part about Nobody’s Cuter than You, is that it brought about my own reflection of how unbelievably blessed I have been with dear friends. Friends I could not live without out and would not dare try to. I would whole-heartedly suggest this book as a gift to anyone you wish to say, “Nobody’s Cuter than You!”

nobodys cuter

*Actual number of times may have exceeded an actual handful. We are still quite certain on the Doctrinal elements of our Faith.

**Tyndale House Publishers sent me a complimentary copy of Nobody’s Cuter than You to read and review, I loved it and I think you might just love it too!

**Amazon links are affiliate-enabled. As always, I would never suggest something to you I did not enjoy myself. <3


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Stitch Fix Review (#2!)

In March, I signed up for Stitchfix personal stylist service and though I only kept one thing from the fix, I LOVED that one thing. Still after having that cardigan for a month, it’s the one I reach for the most. Since I had a little credit from a few people using my referral code, (yay!) I scheduled another fix at the end of April. After having less than stellar results with month one, I did what everyone suggested and gave lots of feedback.

Immediately upon opening my 2nd box, I could see they really took my comments to heart. Ariann, my stylist did a fantastic job paying attention to my feedback and my Pinterest board and really packed a fun fix! So let’s jump right in and I’ll show you what I got!Stitch Fix-2

1. Sweet Rain Montezuma Split Neck Blouse– This light airy top would be so perfect with white jeans or shorts. I loved the cute little pin tucks at the top, but I just wasn’t completely sure about the hearts. Also the fit at the top was a little big. I sent this one back reluctantly, but I still really liked it. Decision: Sent Back

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Sweet Rain Montezuma Split Neck Blouse in Light Green

2. Pixley Kathy Striped Fit & Flare Dress– This is a dress I pinned (maybe even more than once?) and just LOVED. I saw it on Molly over at Still Being Molly (a blogger I recently discovered and love, and she’s in North Carolina– so I’m pretty sure that makes her 100% awesome because, of course.) It looked fantastic on her so I was so ecstatic to receive it in my fix! Once I tried it on, I couldn’t commit though. The stripes are black and cream and I honestly have something almost identical already. The quality of this dress was really impressive. It’s a thicker fabric which causes it to fit nicely and hang well. The fit and flare style is really good for my shape and so I was torn but in the end I sent it back. (My closet currently has so many striped items, it looks like the closet of a recovering inmate.) But I love all the stripes!! Decision: Sent Back

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Pixley Kathy Striped Fit & Flare Dress, Black & Off-White

3. Mavi Freida Ankle Length Skinny Jean– The distressing on these soft, pretty jeans was nicely done and they were super comfortable. I usually  okay, always have a tough time finding jeans the proper length and that’s the nice thing about Stitchfix. They have access to my exact height measurements AND those of the pieces they send, so she knew these would be the proper length– and they were! These jeans were a tad too pricey even for nice jeans, and I had actually found a pair I liked just the week before in Florida so I sent these back too. I promise the last two items I kept! Decision: Sent Back

Mavi Freida Ankle Length Skinny Jean

Mavi Freida Ankle Length Skinny Jean

4. Collective Concepts Mendolan Pintuck Detailed Jersey Tank– Ok. I love this shirt. Yes, spoiler alert I kept it. It may look simple, but the fabric is perfectly cool while still being substantial enough to hold it’s shape. The pin tucking across the top is flattering and I just love the way it fits! I have worn it multiple times already, with jeans, white jeans and white shorts. It looks great with gold or silver jewelry and I can imagine it will transition with a cardigan really well. Ok, enough gushing about a shirt. Here it is–I shared two photos, the darker grey is its’ true color but this way you can see the detail on the top. Oh yeah– Decision: Wholeheartedly kept. :) 

Untitled design-3

Collective Concepts Mendolan Pintuck Jersey Tank, Dark Grey

5. Papermoon Girtha Printed Dress in Navy– This is another Fit and Flare style dress but in this amazing stretchy comfortable fabric. When I tried this on, I thought it would have been a perfect Easter dress, but I also think you could really dress it down too. I wore it with a jean jacket and a red necklace ala’ Memorial Day and then without just to see the difference. I think just a yellow cardigan would be cute with the dress as well. Decision: KEPT!!!

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Papermoon Navy Dress

Papermoon Girtha Dress, Navy

Papermoon Girtha Dress, Navy

Papermoon Girtha Dress, Navy.

Papermoon Girtha Dress, Navy. And apparently I like to put my hands on my hips. Always.

So, even though it may seem that I didn’t have a successful Stitchfix with only keeping 2 out of 5 things, I DID because those are two things I really will enjoy.

I’ve learned a few things that may be helpful for you if you try Stitchfix–

1. Give them a chance to learn who you are and what you like. When you check out online after you receive your fix, you have a space to tell what you did or did not like about each item. USE this space to tell them what worked for you. Be as detailed as you can, they want to know so they can make you happy in the future! 

2. Pricing. When you fill out your style profile, you have the opportunity to choose which price points you are comfortable with for each item. Therefore if you might pay more for a dress than a shirt, you can mention that and they will know. Helpful!

3. Fill out your style profile thoroughly, but also link a Pinterest page. A pinterest board for your style preferences is a very valuable tool in determining what comes in your Fix. Here is an example of my Pinterest board. You link your own board in your style profile when you sign up and your stylist then has access to it.

Verdict: I have definitely enjoyed my Stitchfix experience so far. At this point, I am scheduling boxes as I need them and not on a monthly basis. I like that you can choose to do that. I am planning to do it again this summer, because there’s really nothing like seeing that box on the front porch on Stitchfix day!

Disclaimer:This post is not sponsored, but I have included my referral link, which means that Stitchfix gives credit when they are introduced to new customers. It’s a great incentive but I honestly would not share their company with you if I had not had a great experience so far. If you do decide to give them a try, please let me know how you like your first FIX! <3


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What I Learned in April

Sharing-2Well, hello there last few days of April! Hooray for taxes being done and the end of the school year just around the corner– Here are a few random and fun things I learned this month– ending with a little” what I’m into” list. Thanks for stopping by!

1. I learned several Creative Basics. If you visit me here or on Instagram you may have noticed I have been a little “graphic happy” this month. Well, during the month of April, I took the coolest daily course on building and making social media art! Most of what you saw me posting was my homework– although because we were on vacation in April, I had to play catch up quite a bit. This 30-day challenge with Crystal Stine was totally amazing and 100% helpful. By the way, if you haven’t met Crystal Stine– hop on over here to visit her lovely space. She writes encouragement with sincerity and candor and I always enjoy her words. AND, big news– over here you can order the kindle book, Creative Basics: 30 Days to Awesome Social Media Art. If you are a blogger who would love to learn a few savvy tools for your graphics toolbox, I wholeheartedly recommend grabbing this book. The raddest thing is, (yes I just said raddest) since the challenges are broken up over 30 days, this is completely doable on a busy schedule. Thank you so much, Crystal for sharing some of your super-duper smartypants knowledge with us!

2. I realized I have become Lorelai Gilmore. No, I have not literally become the fast-talking, coffee-consuming mom with fabulous hair. I’ve been re-watching Gilmore Girls (again, for about the 17th time in my life) and I SO enjoy the clever banter in that small fictitious town more than I ever have. Except now, instead of feeling that I identify with Rory, (the daughter, for those of you who have not had the pleasure) all of a sudden, I’m watching the show from Lorelai’s perspective. Now instead of being all excited when Rory finally meets Jess, I’m thinking… “Just you wait, missy… here come’s trouble.” If you have never watched Gilmore Girls and you have any sort of affinity for small towns, witty dialogue or any type of caffeine– you should really check it out. I cannot guarantee that your husband will be on board though. It’s not really a “guy” show. But there is backwards-baseball cap wearing moody-broody Luke– and who doesn’t love him?

3. The Michael Hyatt 20 minute nap. Y’all. I have never been a mid-day napper and if I ever did take a nap, I felt awful for the remainder of the day. Well. As it turns out, I was doing it all wrong. Last month I heard several people mention how they take a 20 minute conscious rest time/ nap every afternoon. Michael Hyatt wrote this article on the how’s and why’s of a proper power nap, and this month I finally tried it for myself following all the protocols set forth in the article. I really did have the most marked burst of energy for the rest of the day/ evening. AND, here’s the kicker– I didn’t even fall asleep completely. (Even if you work in an office, try eating your lunch in half the time and then closing your eyes for the other half.)

4. I learned my personality type. Well, sort of. I finally took the Myers-Briggs type test, and much to my surprise (and I’ll be honest– dismay) I was given the ENFJ type. E. As in “Extrovert.” I used to really believe I was an extrovert but in the last couple of years I feel as though I have swung the other way– as in I NEED quiet, alone time every day to recharge. (see #3) I love people but I also love being alone. My E/I numbers were only 2 points apart so I took another test, and I scored right down the middle in every single category. Basically, I either have a random, multiple personality- personality type, OR I don’t know.

What I’m Reading: Nobody’s Cuter than You, Bittersweet, and Anne of Avonlea  (Apparently this month I’m all about feel-good books!)

What I’m into: This weather. It’s gorgeous and crisp and sunny and I want to make all the salads in the world and cook everything on the grill from now until September.

What I’m watching: Madame Secretary, Person of Interest, Castle (have you heard of this one? A friend introduced us to it and it’s such a fun show about a crime novel writer (Him) and a Cop (Her) and how they solve crimes together.)

What I’m wearing: Flip Flops, Sandals, white jeans and this shirt from my 2nd StitchFix box which is the perfect light, airy top to welcome Spring. I am so happy I tried Stitchfix again this month, my box was much better AND I had a little referral credit to spend, so fun. If you’re thinking about trying them, let me know what you think!

Linking up with Emily at Chatting at the Sky for Let’s Share What We Learned in April.

**Several compensated links present for Amazon and Stitchfix. This only means that these companies thank me for sharing their products with you. Please know I would never link out to anything I wouldn’t whole heartedly recommend to you and have already tried myself.**


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Blackened Tilapia with Mango-Pineapple Salsa

TilapiawithSalsaY’all. We had such a fun spring break visiting family in Florida and oh wow– eating at all the restaurants. The city where I grew up has grown more and more into a fabulous foodie town, so when we visit we are torn between visiting our old favorites and trying new places. However, after a week of calorie splurge meals– it has been so good to get back to our normal eating plan. Enter protein shakes for breakfast and Lean protein for dinner!

When we are needing a nutritional jump-start, I always turn to fish or chicken and veggies. I love to find flavorful ways to make the same old protein interesting– and this Blackened Tilapia with Mango-Pineapple Salsa is definitely a favorite.

A few notes: If you have a cast-iron skillet, drag it out and use it to cook your fish– it makes a beautiful charred crust. Also, I used fresh pineapple because it was on sale– but you could certainly use frozen. I do use frozen Tilapia. Here is where you can find our favorite blackening seasoning for seafood– Louisiana Cajun Blackened Seasoning*  and I use it on just about everything fish related.

Blackened Tilapia with Mango-Pineapple Salsa

  • Tilapia Filets, thawed and rubbed with olive oil.
  • Cajun Blackened Seasoning, sprinkle generously on both sides of fish.
  • 1 cup of chopped Pineapple
  • Half a Large Red pepper, chopped
  • Half a Red Onion, chopped
  • Half a Poblano Pepper
  • 1 Mango, chopped
  • 1/4 cup Cilantro, chopped
  • Juice from one lime
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 tbs. EVOO to cook fish

To make Salsa–dice pineapple, mango, peppers and onion and add to bowl. Add cilantro and lime juice and then add Salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Heat Cast Iron Skillet to Medium-High, Pour 1 tbs. Olive Oil into skillet. Once pan is hot, add fish filets but do not crowd the pan. Cook 3-4 minutes per side, until fish flakes easily with a fork and has nice crispy edges.

Top Tilapia with Pineapple Mango Salsa and enjoy! We have served this alongside salad or black beans and rice or even grilled vegetables.

 

 

*Amazon affiliate link.


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To the mom who hopes to survive today.

Dear Mom who has nothing on her mind today but keeping everyone alive,

There are seasons in life when the To-Do list is doable and the fridge stays full. The forms get turned in on time and the kids stay relatively happy, in their right minds and in clean clothes.

But,

There are also seasons in our lives where there is only one thing on the list. One thing for today, one thing for tomorrow– Survival. 

And that is ok. We have all been where you are today.

Rocking a newborn while resisting the urge to shush a toddler who hops excitedly around you both.

Feeling accomplished just because you brushed your teeth and made one side of the bed.

Changing sheets in the middle of the night, to change them again in two hours– or two minutes.

Graciously accepting an offer of takeout and knowing you haven’t even the strength to cook a frozen pizza.

Sitting collasped in a chair, watching your guy graciously help with the laundry and fighting the guilt with gratefulness. So much gratefulness.

Snuggled up with stair- stepped tiny humans all around you, heart and lap full to overflowing– for another episode of Daniel Tiger.

Feeding a little bundle of swaddled softness, with only baby noises and the 3am glow of Gilmore Girls to keep your heavy eyelids cracked open.

Standing in the kitchen with first babe strapped to your back, wondering if you even have enough hands for the 2nd babe growing in your belly. ( spoiler alert, you do have enough hands and there will be enough of you to go around when the time comes.)

Looking out as the sun sinks low and the street lights come on, feeling the pull of those dark baby blues on your little life as mom. Whether it’s your first or fifth rodeo, can I remind you? It gets better, I promise and you are not alone.

Watching pants get too short for skinny little growing legs and wishing you hadn’t wished the time away.

Hoping everyone will sleep just a little longer tonight and that we all make it through tomorrow as well.

One day at a time, sweet overwhelmed Mama. One day at a time is ALL you have. Don’t try to conquer the world today, do what you do best and be their mom in whatever capacity you can. Give yourself the grace to cue up the netflix, take a deep breath and smile– you’re living the dream. 

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