Farmhouse Friday Update #1

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One of my favorite grammatical tools is alliterations. Hence the title of my blog-Amanda’s Annotations and now my Farmhouse Friday Updates.

Currently I have very few super fun and exciting updates, but I did include a few more pictures of the farmhouse and property for your perusing.

The past two weeks have been full of a lot of troubleshooting, fixing problems, and spending money. This has been tough on us because J is a saver and I like to spend money on currently frivolous things like new curtains and paint.  Alas, I have practiced great self-control as I pay for things like fixing the furnaces, mold remediation, appliances, and pumping out the septic.

The positive is we now have a warm, mold-free house with 3 working toilets, a fridge, and washer and dryer.  This is a huge improvement over the text I sent some girlfriends two weeks ago which said “we bought a house today without heat or flushing toilets and full of spiders and mice.” We also spent some time picking through the barn and found an amazing piece of furniture I plan to use as a vanity in one of our bathrooms. Other interesting things in the barn-half a treadmill, the insides of more than a few VHS tapes, a decent set of weights, about 5 Christmas wreaths, and a groundhog. I also found a picture that looks eerily like my dad and I. I seriously had to look at it twice to not be totally freaked out.

Earlier in the week, J and I were sitting on our new porch eating lunch and the beauty of it all hit me. It was peaceful and quiet, so different from my normal mode of operation. I realized not only did we purchase a new house, but perhaps we subconsciously accepted a new way of life. Slower, more thoughtful, full of neighbor boys who invite you over for s’mores after a five-minute conversation, and projects J and I can work on together. This is what we have been longing for and this is a huge reason why we fell in love with this house. Little H has changed our lives in many ways and we adore him dearly. He is bright sunshine on rainy days and sometimes we laugh so hard at him tears spring from our eyes. But H has also required a lot of both of us. In the middle of it all, J and I had to make choices to give up certain things. Don’t get me wrong, neither of us regret those choices, but we both wanted something we could make ours. This dear old farmhouse is ours. Each decision, each paint color, each project is something J and I get to do together.  We sit in the evenings and dream of ways to use this home and our lives to serve the community around us. I cannot wait to see where this adventure leads us and I hope you will enjoy the ride alongside us.

Perhaps today something in your life needs to change. I don’t necessarily recommend buying an old farmhouse, but maybe you need to say no to a commitment or say yes to new adventure. Maybe you need to listen to the nudging to invite someone over or tackle a project you feel unqualified to finish. Whatever it is, know I will be here cheering you on!!

 

 

Dreaded Daycare Drop-Off: 4 Tips for Success

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For most of the H’s first year of life, my husband handled daycare drop-off. I will admit, I didn’t realize quite how awesome this was until he got a new job and daycare drop-off become my job. Most of the time, I love being a working mom, but man, some days or most days, daycare drop-off is tough. There was something about saying goodbye to H at home while he was eating breakfast with his daddy that made going to work a little easier. Dropping him off in a room full of other sometimes crying children is not easy. But after several months of being solely responsible for drop-off, I have come up with a few tips to make the process so much easier and keep me from driving to work crying and dreading my day.

  1. Plan ahead and leave enough time to say hello to the teacher. I have made it a point to get to know his daycare teacher and ensure I leave at least a few minutes in the morning to check-in, say hi, and catch up. Sometimes we talk about daycare, but oftentimes we just talk about life or the mornings we have had. Our conversations are never long as I know she is responsible for watching the other children in the room, but I make it a point to do more than just drop and run. This has made leaving H there so much easier because I adore his teacher. She is excellent with her kiddos and loves them like her own. It allows me to leave some of the guilt about being a working mom at the door because she is teaching him sign language, Japanese, and all sorts of fine and gross motor skills I know nothing about. There is a long list of reasons why I work in corporate America and not in a classroom. I have major respect for teachers because I tried it one year and found out it was not for me. If your little one often cries when you leave, talk to the teacher about what happens after you leave. Often I bet your little one is perfectly fine by the time you are out of sight and this can be reassuring if you do have to leave them in tears.
  2. Reassure, reassure, reassure. Perhaps this is just as much for me as it is for H, but I make sure I give him a hug and kiss and tell him I will be back to get him. I encourage him to go read books with his buddies or find a toy he really likes. I make sure he is occupied and knows mama will be back. I try not to tell him I will miss him, but instead tell him I love him. According to Today, keeping your goodbyes upbeat (even if you are a little sad too) will help the child feel safe and secure. I want H to know it’s okay for him to be at daycare and that he is safe and taken care of even if I am a little sad to leave him there some days.
  3. Focus on the positives.  This has perhaps been the most helpful for me. You can find bemoaning working moms and stay-at-moms all over the internet. And it’s easier to look at the grass and assume its greener on the other side. But spending all your time focusing on what you wish were true about life won’t make the reality of life any different and will heap a lot of guilt and frustration on you. I remind myself how social H is, how much he is learning, and despite being at daycare, that I am still one of his favorite people. He is thriving and making friends. The other week we were in the middle of the grocery store when he yelled out hello to a friend from his daycare. My heart almost melted. I also feel very called to my work and know I am the best mom I can be when I am operating out of this calling. It is always easy-of course not, but I try to focus on all the good things instead of wishing I was in someone else’s yard.
  4. Create a routine.  I am big on routines. Perhaps because I love them, but also because I believe they really help kids. H and I have both evening and morning routines. We do almost the same thing Monday-Friday so he knows what to expect. I try really hard not to do things different or try new ideas during the week. This may get a little boring, but he doesn’t seem to mind eating the same thing for breakfast everyday and following the same schedule. It also helps me not be so frazzled and allows me an extra few minutes if he wants to read a book or watch the “quack-quacks” outside. Everyday as we leave, we say bye-bye to the dog and I always remind him we are going to see his teacher and friends. The routine also helps me leave enough time to have a few minutes at daycare to touch base with his teacher and say hello before heading to work.

What are your tips for doing daycare drop-off like a pro? How have you made the transition easier? Let me know in the comments!

 

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The Story of a City Mouse and a Country Mouse

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Aseop’s Fables were some of my favorites as a child and the story of the city mouse and the country mouse ranked near the top. While I didn’t grow up in a huge city, I am through and through a city mouse. My dream for the longest time was to move to a big city, sell my car, and live in a cute little studio apartment overlooking the busy streets. And then this city loving girl fell in love with a country loving boy.

This turned out to be handy when I moved into a downtown apartment and had mice. One night I perched myself on top of my couch, not on it, but literally on top of it, until my knight in shining armor, or boy from the country, came to rescue me from the tiny mice in my cabinet. Looking back, I am sure it was a comical scene and I feel very thankful he didn’t leave me after this incident.

Fast forward 5 years and the country boy is now married to the city girl and recently bought her a farmhouse in the country. A farmhouse she fell in love with before she quite realized what moving to the country really entailed. Things like wells and septic systems and no internet and spiders and mice. However, I have always been one to love adventure so with full gusto I am embracing this adventure. Our beloved farmhouse needs a lot of TLC and I plan to blog about the transformation of both the farmhouse and of the city girl turned country girl.  Along the way, I hope to share with you the fun (and frustrations) of the giant Do-It-Yourself project house we took on as well as the lessons learned and mistakes made.

Subscribe to stay updated on all the excitement and stay turned for the first update!

 

It Starts with Sacrifice

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In September of last year, my dear husband and I looked at a house. It was a big white farmhouse on three acres and we immediately fell in love. And I mean in love. We started talking and dreaming and pinning ideas on a secret Pinterest board. The house was a foreclosure so in our budget and although we were not looking for a house, this house was perfect. It had almost every detail we wanted in a house.

house2

It also had a lot of details we didn’t want like mold and mice.  But nevertheless, we moved forward.  Did you catch above we looked at it in September? Of last year.  It has taken 6 months to get to this week. Yesterday we signed all the papers to make that white farmhouse our house. It has been a long road. And it really hasn’t even started.  While on paper we own the house, to make it our home is going to take a lot of time and effort.

Life is like this. We may all wish we could wake up tomorrow with beautiful hair, perfect skin, and a beach-ready body. We want our homes to look like magazines and our children to look and act like models. We strive and strive for some societal version of happy and realize at some point, we are exhausted, our house is a mess, and the Instagram filter just isn’t cutting it anymore.  Because the good things in life take work. A lot of work. It takes work no one will ever see. And requires sacrifices no one will ever notice.

The first thing we have to do in our house is remediate the mold so it is safe. This is an expensive process no one will ever notice. No one will walk into our house and say, wow, the mold remediation looks amazing.  But it is necessary.

Sometimes I hate necessary. I want the fun and frilly and pretty. I want the finished product before the initial step. But this is not the life we are called to live. We are called to patience, to sacrifice, to quiet, to love, and to running the race with endurance. To run with endurance means you have to train. It means you can’t just wake up and run 26.2 miles because you think it sounds fun. You may have to start with one mile. or 5 minutes. It means you have to put in the necessary training to reach the goal. Jesus promised us He would be with us each step. He promised His burden was light. But He promised us if we lived like Him, it would be tough. It would take hard work and sacrifice. It would take lots of mold remediation before you get to new paint colors.

But when you do the hard work, the end result is so much better. Sure, we could ignore the mold, slap some paint on the walls, and call it a day. But in a few months, we would all be sick and have a much bigger mess on our hands.  God isn’t asking us to paint over the tough stuff, He is asking us to dig in and work hard to get rid of it. He is asking for the hard work and sacrifice. And He has promised in the end it will be worth it. In the end, we will see Him and we will be complete.

My house here may never be perfect, but I know at some point, I will look around and all the hard work and sacrifice will be worth it. At some point, we will be able to put new paint on the walls and know we aren’t covering up the problems, but we are highlighting the beauty.

Friend, what do you need to remove from your life to get to the beautiful? What sacrifice or costly decision do you need to make to take a step closer to Jesus? It won’t be easy, but I promise you, it will be worth it.

 

Love-Colored Glasses

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loveglasses

The other day I saw a post on Facebook complaining about how awful the city I live in is and several people agreed with the comment. According to the post, it’s a violent, drug-ridden town and you should be afraid to leave your house. Now, I will give you for instance, that our city has been on several top 10 lists for worst place to live, fattest city, most unhappy etc. While I am not entirely sure where this data comes from and am sure not everyone in my city is the nicest person you will ever meet, these lists and the above Facebook post are poor representations of the town I call home. And honestly, the post broke my heart.

Several years ago, I would have sworn up and down I would never settle in this town. I hated it. I wanted out and I wanted out bad. Then I fell in love with the most amazing guy and I began praying for God to change my heart and help me see my town through His eyes.  I took off my rose-colored glasses and put on love-colored glasses. I also started hanging out with a bunch of people who are working hard to make my city better. These are people fighting for progress, development, growth, and community. They are the people who could list off 100 things to do on any given night while others are complaining there is nothing to do in this town. They are the people in the trenches loving and working in some of the toughest parts of the city. They are people opening their homes to all manner of people, those like them and those completely different. And if you asked them, they would all express a sense of love for this dear town.

It’s a not a love springing from circumstances. Our town didn’t suddenly make some top 10 best places to live list. But they, like me, have committed to cultivating love for the people in this city. They are choosing every day to view our city through the lens of love.  We are praying for restoration and wholeness in our city. We are seeking to build community across religious lines, race lines, and socioeconomic lines. We are spending time in the dark places, the places with violence and drugs, we are moving into the neighborhoods and inviting others into our lives. It’s messy, it’s often tough and scary, but it is opening my eyes to how much Jesus must have loved me. He died for me. He gave up His life when I couldn’t care less for Him. He loved humanity-a humanity which would someday be full of drugs, and violence, and slavery, and all manner of evil. And yet, He still died. In His death, He called us to life and He called us to love.  He called us, those who claim to love Him, to love those around us. And each day, as I get ready for my day, I pray for His love to be part of my life. For love colored glasses to be the lens through which I view my co-workers, my friends, the clerk at the grocery store, the city in which I call home. And each day, it gets easier and easier to say with all sincerity, I truly love this community. I want to see it succeed and grow. I want to see it transformed and restored. And I will keep fighting for this because there are so many in our city who need someone, anyone to fight for them.

Friend, wherever you are, will you join me in praying for love-colored glasses? I believe this is the only way Jesus would want us to view our communities. If you live near me and want a practical way to show some love, check out City Serve Day on March 18th. Join a team to serve our community or add your own service project to the list. Let’s show others how much light can change the dark places around us.

The Best Chocolate Cake

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A few months ago, after a period of some significant health struggles, I cut gluten and dairy out of my diet. The transition wasn’t terribly awful, but it has been a constant source of lessons in self-control, self-care, and humility. I hate asking other people to accommodate me so much so that I spent a lot of money on a lot of tests to tell me what I already knew. I needed to cut the gluten and dairy. But hey, now I have a doctor to blame my extra fussiness on right?

In all seriousness, it had been a rough season of mothering, working, volunteering, and struggling every day with the heavy weight of anxiety, fatigue, and a stomach which often refused to cooperate with me.  I knew something was wrong. I knew something had to change. I also knew I wanted to try to attack the problem holistically. So while yes I did adjust my diet, I also starting making time for quiet, studying, reading, and slimming down my schedule. Perhaps the last one was the toughest in our society of more. But back to the diet.

A friend of mine asked me yesterday as she was salivating over some donuts (she is on day 21 or something of Whole30) if it ever gets easier. I said yes with the caveat I feel so much better so it’s not worth it. Which is mostly true. It does get easier and I am feeling better. But I think it’s getting easier because I am learning self-control, not because I am any less in love with pizza and donuts.  Case-in-point, several weeks ago I convinced a group of girlfriends to take a detour on our way home from Nashville so I could get a gluten-free, dairy-free donut. It was glorious.  Some days, as I watch co-workers or friends eat foods I used to love, it’s tough. It makes me want to abandon ship and say “ah what’s the point.” I am learning, though, anything great in life takes work. Hard work. And sacrifice. And lots of moments salivating over donuts and then walking away. Not because a donut is bad. But because there is something better.

Isn’t that what Jesus offered us? An abundant life (John 10:10). Not an easy life. Not a life full of sunshine and roses. But an abundant life. A life of less burdens, less anxiety, less striving (Phil 4:6, John 14:27). Note: I did not say an easy life or a life without struggles or heartache or loss.  Jesus said if you follow me, you will have trouble. He said if they persecuted me they will persecuted you. He didn’t offer us an easy life. But he did offer us an abundant life and he promised to never leave us.  He promised us something better.

Slowly, I am learning to live in light of the something better. To say no to the current shiny object in light of what is better. To say no to the food I know will land me in a heap of pain, frustration, and anxiety. To say no to the activity that doesn’t build community or fit on my short list of things important to me. To give up the pursuit of the good for the pursuit of the best. Good isn’t bad. And perfection is not the goal. But leaning into self-control and sacrifice and discomfort can be good gifts in certain seasons. They certainly have been for me. And in case you are bemoaning my diet or convinced everything I eat must taste like cardboard, I present to you one of the best chocolate cakes I have had in my life. Even my husband liked it.  Enjoy:)

CHOCOLATE CAKE LAYER CAKE WITH CHOCOLATE GANACHE
(grain-free, refined-sugar-free and dairy-free)

INGREDIENTS:cake

For the cake:
2 cups blanched almond flour
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp Himalayan pink salt
2 eggs
2/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup water
1 Tbsp vanilla

For the vegan chocolate ganache:
4 oz unsweetened baking chocolate
4 Tbsp coconut oil
4 Tbsp maple syrup
½ cup almond butter
¼ cup almond milk or coconut milk

DIRECTIONS:

For the cake:
Preheat oven to 350. Grease two 6-inch round cake pans with coconut oil. Mix almond flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a medium-sized bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, maple syrup, water and vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Stir to incorporate. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

For the vegan chocolate ganache:
Melt chocolate and coconut oil in thick saucepan or double broiler. Stir and remove from heat when melted. Slowly add maple syrup and stir to incorporate. Allow to cool. Transfer mixture to mixing bowl and beat in almond butter until a thick, whippy frosting is formed. Add almond or coconut milk as needed for consistency.

To assemble the cake:
Allow cakes to cool. Place one cake layer on a plate. Place a dollop of chocolate ganache on top of cake and smooth over the cake. Layer the second cake over the ganache layer and repeat with a layer of ganache. Store the cake in refrigerator until serving time.

 

 

We Have Given Up

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Give-Up-SM

Dear American Evangelical,

It seems we have given up. A quick perusal of social media makes this point painstakingly obvious to some, but perhaps you are still not convinced.  For a minute, just consider what giving up might look like to others.

We have given up our missional calling for political pursuits.

We have given up being pro-neighbor to be pro-life.

We have given up the calling of the church for the calling of the state.

We have given up Christian first for Republican first.

We have given up the simplicity of the gospel for the complexity of dos and do nots.

We have given up kindness for rightness.

We have given up coffee with a friend for Facebook status updates.

We have given up true community for churches that meet our current wants.

We have given up intimacy with our Savior for intimacy with our screens.

We have given up God bless those who persecute you for God bless America.

We have given up Jesus for a president.

We have given up our humanity for political laws.

We have given up the beauty of following an unsafe Savior for the promise of safe borders.

We have given up the kingdom of God for the kingdom of the world.

 

You see dear friends, it seems we have given up. When the world desperately needs Jesus followers, we have become something else. When those around us desperately need love, community, and safe places, we have become outspoken political billboards. Perhaps this is harsh. And maybe it is. Some of you have not given up. And I am here to cheer you on. Keep going. Keep working in the trenches and on the edges and in the places no one sees. But for much of the “church” it’s time to give up.

 

Give up being right for being kind and listening.

Give up the Facebook status for a conversation over coffee.

Give up the harsh words for love.

Give up the sword for the cross.

Give up comfort for the Comforter.

Give up safety for the One who promised to never leave us.

 

It’s time for the church to pursue the kingdom of God, not the kingdom of this world. It’s time for us to take up our crosses and follow a Savior who modeled a life of sacrifice, risk, and love. A Savior who died for others instead of bringing political revolution. A Savior who came in on a donkey. Who gave seats at the table to the outcast, the woman, the less than, the uneducated, the poor, and who chose an unwed teenager to be the mother of the greatest gift to humanity. You see, dear friend, if you want to change our land, it starts not in the White House, but in the lowly manger.

Scandalous and Scornful

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graceScandalous. Scornful. Unusual.

 

And no, I am not talking about any current political or celebrity figure.

The book of Matthew and thus the New Testament begins with a genealogy. You know, the ever long passages of scripture going “so-and-so begat so-and-so.” The passages we are tempted to ignore, skim over, or skip past to get to the meaningful text. The verses we can use to support our stance or encourage or admonish. Who cares about a long list of someone’s family tree. The thing is, you can learn a lot about a person by exploring their ancestry. You can find out a lot about someone by knowing where they came from or who was in their family line.  Association via one’s family can make you famous or rich or notable. It can also make you poor or small or forgotten.  So to fully understand Jesus, we need to look at those included in his family tree. Don’t worry, I know He was the son of God and Divine incarnate, but Matthew starts his gospel with Jesus’ earthly family tree and thus we should pay attention.

 

There are two unique things about Jesus’ family tree. His lineage included women, which never happened and included a bunch of rowdy, off-color, far-from-perfect characters. I want to spend some time on the first point. Today we might not think twice about including women in a family tree. Matriarchs throughout history have done incredible things and stepped up to often change the course of history itself. But in Jesus’ day, women were second class citizens. They were rarely included as disciples of great teachers or participants in great works. Not only did Jesus welcome and include women as disciples, he gave them an often equal seat at the table, instructing, including, and admonishing them much as he did to the men who followed him.

 

In Jesus’ family tree- five specific women are named and counted among those who were part of his lineage. These were not your spiritual matriarchs. According to author Stephen Binz, each of these women was considered an outsider and each had a scandalous and scornful marital or sexual history.  The women included in the line of Christ were prostitutes, adulteresses, unwed mothers-women today we may view with scorn and disgust. Women today we may not even welcome in our churches, much less give them an equal seat at the table.

Jesus’ family tree begins the gospel in the most beautiful way. It paints a picture of a kingdom in which the scandalous, the scornful, the corrupt, and the sinner are welcomed in and given value and dignity. Jesus called the invisible and those with no voice. He spent His days with the lowly, the less than, the sinner. And in a society where women were often nameless and worthless, Jesus gave them a voice, courage, and eternal purpose.

Do you see why this matters so much? When we claim to follow Jesus, we must know who we are following and we must understand not only his ministry, but his family tree. There is no room for any of us to feel disqualified or unqualified or to remove a seat from someone else. Jesus didn’t come blasting society or fighting for laws-instead, he quietly invited the lowly and the forgotten into his community. He gave them a seat and a purpose. He gave prostitutes the chance to save His people and an unwed mother the chance to be the mother of the Savior of the world. He started a revolution by including those who had been discounted.

 

Scandalous. Scornful. Unusual.

 

Those are the women in the line of Christ. And my friend, those are still who Jesus is continually calling to himself.

 

Trash Your Ideal Self

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A few days ago, I sent a group of friends a picture of part of my kitchen. I have included it for full-disclosure. I would like to write a long post about how this was a rare sight and normally my kitchen is perfect, clean, and could be found on Pinterest, but far more often, the picture is the reality.

I imagine, for a lot of you, your kitchenday-to-day reality may look similar to my kitchen. Perhaps it’s a different room in your house or perhaps it’s a part of your soul that feels messy and disorganized.  It’s a part of your life you will never find on social media. And I get it. I have spent countless hours attempting to clean up my house, my life, my resume and picturing what life would be like when I just got “there”.  When I had the perfect house, the perfect job, the perfect group of friends, the perfect life.  I had created a version of my ideal self in my head and spent so many hours striving towards becoming like the image in my mind.

Sometimes I caught a glimpse of my ideal self in real life. In fleeting moments, she would show up and I would feel as though I was finally getting somewhere. My striving was finally paying off.  To my delight, I went to a conference and the speaker started her talk by asking us all to imagine our ideal selves. Oh, I had this one down. I knew exactly who the ideal Amanda was and could write you a book on her life. I could also write you a book on the guilt and regret and shame I carried around because my everyday self seemed so far from this version of my ideal self.

After a long lead up, the speaker said “your ideal self is not your most influential self.”

Read that again and let it sink in. “Your ideal self is not your most influential self.”

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 says “9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

We often think when we get picked or when we arrive “there” or when we achieve our most ideal self, then we will be our most influential self. Then we will be who God called us to be and in the meantime, we just keep striving and trying to get better.  What if we were really at our best when we were our weakest? What if we stopped striving for our ideal self and realized when God saved us, it changed everything. When we were at our worst Christ died for us and this is where our freedom lies. This is where we operate with grace and freedom and humility. When we realize it is not about me or about becoming my ideal self, but instead it is about staring at the face of God and walking in the divine role He gave us as bearers of His image.

As the speaker closed out her session, I stood there with tears in my eyes. This was the point. The striving, the soul-crushing pace I operated at, the hustling had gotten me nowhere, but tired, lonely, and feeling even farther from where I wanted to be. But the goal should not be to reach this version of my ideal self. The goal should be to stare at the face of Jesus. This is where I find my peace and rest and acceptance. This is where I find approval and purpose. Not in the striving, not in the outside things, but in the most important thing-Jesus.

Hence the disaster of my kitchen. I had spent the better part of the day resting and praying and studying my Bible. My kitchen didn’t look like that when I went to bed that night, but it was nowhere near ready for a magazine photo shoot. And honestly it may never be. Because as I left the conference, I left my ideal self in the trash and came home with more peace and purpose than I have had in a long time.

A Year of Authenticity

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Authentic- true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character; Not false or imitation

For the past several weeks, I have been struggling with what to choose as my word for the year.  While I have a few personal goals for 2017, I am more concerned with the year I live and how I treat those around me thus I decided to go back to my word of the year and filter all my goals and plans through the word. I tossed around a bunch of different ideas and looked up a bunch of words in the dictionary. My problem was narrowing down to a single word because there were so many I wanted to choose as I thought about 2017.  I settled on Authentic. I chose this word because it was the closest word to how I want to live this year and how I want to treat others and make decisions.

We live in a world caught up in technology and social media. I heard a speaker recently talk about how social media releases dopamine in your brain-the same chemical released by other addictive behaviors such as alcohol and gambling.  Social media can be and often is addicting. It’s also inauthentic and not always honest. You may argue sometimes it is a little too honest which could be true, but I think deep down for many of us social media is the highlight reel of our lives. I will take an adorable picture of my son and crop out the disaster of my house or ignore the fact that 10 minutes ago he was throwing a massive fit because I refused to give him crackers for the 100th time today. (he discovered how to open the pantry and also knows I keep crackers in said pantry) Social media can easily only portray the  moments when we actually feel like we have it all together, not the moments when we feel like we are two seconds from losing our minds.

Hence the word I chose for this year- authentic. I want this year to be marked by authenticity. Like I read in a blog recently, if you are a mom, the word fine should be erased from your vocabulary. Moms aren’t ever just fine. Motherhood is a roller-coaster of emotion we often reduce to fine when someone asks.  But what if we stopped saying we were fine and actually shared our full selves. What if I was true to my own personality and admitted my house is a disaster because honestly, as much as I try to be neat and tidy, it’s just really not my modus operandi these days. I like things to be organized most of the time, but lately I like to sleep more.

When it comes to relationships, this is where I really want this word to be the theme. The older I have gotten, the more I have found myself longing for deep, close friends. And I am learning sometimes this has to start with me.  I have to pick up the phone and wave the white flag when I need help. I have to get back to being true to who I am and living out that truth. I need to make the invite or plan the event.

So as we head into 2017, my hope is to be authentic and spend more time chatting across the table and less time scrolling down the screen. What about you? Do you have goals for 2017? Or are you a word-of-the-year type of person? I would love to hear from you in the comments!