Weekend Reads 1/12

Happy Weekend! Do you have anything fun planned? Will it be a low-key weekend at home or one out and about?

I’m looking forward to some newborn snuggles with our newest nephew and some rowdy fun with his two big sisters and cousins (my girls :). The weather has finally warmed up. Yay! Although, it’s drizzly. But I don’t mind because that’s perfect for hot tea (which I am enjoying right now) and a movie (any suggestions?).

Brance will be in next weekend. We’re counting the days!!

Here are some interesting links I discovered this week… Continue reading

Thoughts on kids and tech

I feel like it is a challenging time to raise kids. How about you?

I am sure every generation has probably thought the same thing, ha.

But, with the advent of smartphones and tablets, raising our kids to be smart about technology—both being able to use it and not suffer harm—is tough waters to navigate.

I realize this can be a contentious topic. We can have strong, differing opinions. And I think that is ok! After all, we’re all trying our best to figure it out—often long before all the research and facts are out there for us to consider.

What got me to thinking about tech and our kids today was this article in USA Today.

As a parent I have struggled to find balance when it comes to tech and my children. What kinds of tech should I give them access to and at what age? How frequent and for what duration? What kinds of parental controls do I set? These are questions Brance and I come back to again and again.

I’m so curious? What are your thoughts on kids and tech? How are you navigating these tricky waters in your family? While circumstances may be different from family to family, I feel like we can learn a lot from each other!

Warmly,

Lauren

P.S. Make sure you sign up to get my fee e-book to discover what you can do to feel your best!

Update

How are you!? Are you in part of the country that was slammed with frigid temperatures the last week? Brrr. I couldn’t believe how cold it got here in Charlotte—all the way down to 11 degrees! That makes sense in Boston. But Charlotte!?

Most of our serious winter gear is still in storage because I didn’t think we would need it. So we have been layering and staying warm the best we can. Thank goodness the forecast is predicting warmer days right around the corner.

Oh, by the way, we’ve moved! I’m not sure I mentioned this on the blog yet. Because it’s been complicated—unclear to even us—and I wasn’t sure how to explain what’s going on. It’s been a challenge as we’ve interacted with family and friends…

“Brance and I are separated,” I found myself saying to a girlfriend over the phone recently.

As the words hit my ears, I realized it came out all wrong.

“Uhh, we are living separately for a while. Oh, but not separated permanently or headed towards divorce or anything like that,” I quickly corrected myself.

Brance is wrapping up work in Boston while the girls and I stay with my parents down South. Our land lord substantially increased our rent last fall and we felt this was the best step. But it hasn’t been an easy step.

I feel very blessed to have loving family take us in. They have been so great—emptying closets and drawers and rearranging their schedules to make room for us and our things. But being separated from Brance for the better part of 3 months has given me an incredible appreciation for that man and all he is to the girls and me. Life is sad without him.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not walking around moping or anything. This single parenting thing is serious work. But when I do have a moment of quiet reflection, I realize my life would be very empty without him.

Like so many things in life, we’re uncertain how long this will last. Two more months or four? We’re just not sure. But in the meantime we’re getting really good at sharing life through texts, emails, and FaceTime.

As of now, we think we’ll ultimately settle in the Charlotte area. You know: find work, buy a house, and all four of us be together again! But we’re not entirely certain (of everything but the all four of us)! The girls and I may or may not temporarily be back in Boston. We may find work elsewhere and that would mean living elsewhere too. It’s definitely complicated and we’re praying for direction!

I’ve missed this space and look forward to sharing with you in the New Year! Do any of you have something exciting planned for 2018?

With love,

Lauren

Give the gift that gives back

In a recent study, Facebook discovered that those who passively consume their newsfeed are more miserable than those who interact with others—especially with comments.

Surprised? I’m not the least bit surprised!

Here’s why…

Because, *most* (I realize it is not all) people who comment on FB are saying nice things and lifting people up.

I believe with all my heart that it comes down to the following principle…

Blessed are those who bless others.

I try to do this—to bless others with my words and actions, in social media and all of life. Now, I admit, I do not do this perfectly. I’m human and I have messed up big-time in the past.

BUT, in recent years, I have prayerfully attempted to be very intentional about using my words for good. And I have found that as I encourage and lift up others, I rarely, if ever, feel miserable or jealous! And when I do, it’s because I have grown slack in this area.

When we lift up and bless and encourage people around us, we lift up ourselves. Every single time.

It’s impossible to feel jealous and miserable when we want good for others, when we cheer others on, when we use our words and actions to bless.

And if the person doesn’t respond or appreciate our kindness? It’s OKAY!! It really, truly is.

It’s always, always better to be a person who blesses others—even when they won’t or can’t (for whatever reason) reciprocate or appreciate kindness. I know it can sting a bit in the moment. But in the long-run, it’s so much better for YOUR heart and soul to let their behavior GO and continue to bless others. It’s healing, even, to do so.

Because, when we are stingy with our words and actions, we become miserable and jealous. Ironically, when we withhold them from others and cling to them for ourselves, we actually end up with LESS. Less joy and peace and contentment.

INSTEAD, when we choose to pour out our words and deeds to bless others (even those who don’t “deserve” our kindness), they are multiplied and poured down  onto our OWN heads as well. Not only is the other person blessed, but we are filled to the brim with joy and peace and contentment. It becomes the gift that gives back.

And that’s something that can’t be manufactured or wrapped in a box.

Wishing you a VERY Merry Christmas,
Lauren

P.S. This is not a principle I came up with on my own. My own natural inclination is to think about myself and only be kind to those who are kind to me. It’s something I have learned and applied from studying the Bible and through prayer.

P.P.S. If you don’t have your own copy of the Bible and would like one, I’d love to give one to you. Just leave a comment below!

Plaid and the power of words

Power of words Power of words

Power of words
Above are my awkward attempts at taking a selfie, ha.

On my first day of highschool I wore plaid.

It seems like an odd thing to remember, right? I couldn’t tell you what I wore on the first day of any other school year. But because of what happened to me—or more specifically what was said to me—I remember my outfit from that day all this time later.

During lunchtime an upper class-man made a mean comment about my plaid shirt and my appearance. Silly really. What did it matter what this girl thought about my clothes or how I looked? But my 13 year-old self went home crushed from her unkind words and paranoid about my appearance.

Obviously I recovered from this little incident. I still wear plaid, as documented above ;). And over time, I’ve learned to Continue reading

Contentment: The key to a happy life

Contentment
Photo by the lovely Anabell Jimenez

I’m giddy to write this post, so I found a giddy picture to go with it, ha.

I am so excited to share this with you because, you guys, it applies to us ALL regardless of age, race, sex, education, nationality, status etc. And it hits close to home for me!

You see, this is something that turned my life right-side-up, after years and years of just barely getting by. Like totally transformed my way of thinking and as a result the way I experience life for the better. And, wow, I am so grateful.

I spent too many years looking to my circumstances and/or other people for happiness. Which, frankly, is a terrible way to live. Because how often do our circumstances or other people let us down? Pretty much on a daily basis. Right?!

During those years I allowed my circumstances and the behavior of others to Continue reading

How are you?

How are you doing and feeling? I mean REALLY doing and feeling?

If you asked me this question 14 or 15 years ago , and I was honest, I would have had to say I was not doing well AT ALL.

I was just barely getting by. I was in a real bad place in every way—physically, mentally, and emotionally. I felt like I was hanging on by a thread.

And there was no way I was going to breathe a word of this to anyone. Too humiliating—I thought. I have a wonderful family and I didn’t even say anything to them.

And no one asked. You see, on the outside I was putting on a dang good show. I was excelling in my college classes and working part-time to boot. I had good friends, took trips, and dated. I was very involved in my church and faithfully practiced the Christian disciplines . But on the inside I was FALLING APART. Absolutely, totally, completely falling apart.

I am living proof that there is a way out of a pit—even when it feels impossible. If you had told me at the time that I would feel as good as I do today, I’m not sure I would have believed you.

If you’re merely hanging on by a thread, know that I am here rooting for you. We all are. Please don’t hesitate to message me. Sometimes it’s easier sharing with a friend far away, than one right by.

The first step to climbing out of that pit, to really healing, is to admit that everything is not okay.

With love,

Lauren

5 things to do in the wake of an offense

Pray for the offender.

Scripture tells us to pray for our enemies and to do good to those who hurt us. On the surface, it seems like an impossible pill to swallow. But, what I have found is that by behaving in this way, God is helping set us free from the shackles of unforgiveness and bitterness that bind us in the wake of an offense. And, our honorable behavior speaks volumes of nature of the forgiving and gracious God we serve. I believe having this prayerful, kind attitude toward our offenders is the only real way to heal from offense and to move forward in a healthy way.

Get some perspective.

I find in situations where I have been offended (especially repeatedly and by someone who you expect more from), it really helps to take a step back from the situation. To even attempt to view the situation as an outsider. In the history of Continue reading

For the guys…

Hey, guys! Want to make your woman feel like a million bucks? Want things to improve in the bedroom?

Don’t look at other naked women.

It takes a lot of intentionality and work and LOVE in our overly sensualized culture to do this. Cause, well, naked people are everywhere—from the internet to popular shows and movies.

Porn isn’t just in certain magazines or behind the curtain anymore. It’s EVERYWHERE. And it’s becoming a problem even for very young unsupervised kids.

I know what I am saying will be viewed as prudish by some. And you know what? That’s okay!

My hubby has made the commitment to not look at anything that even remotely resembles porn and works dang hard to keep his promise (with internet filters on the computer and phone, reading reviews on tv shows and movies before watching, etc). And I’m telling you there is nothing more ATTRACTIVE and liberating than this…

To be a woman who doesn’t wonder who you’re being measured up against in your most vulnerable moments. To feel totally cherished and worth the effort. Yeah, it’s amazing. (And as a bonus it really works wonders in the bedroom.;)

It’s never too late to return to this way of cherishing and respecting women either. Even if you’ve messed up in a big kind of way in the past. And if you aren’t married yet, becoming a stand-up kind of guy on this issue will make you attractive to the right kind of girls. Trust me.

I dare you to give this a try!

Let’s Talk: Dates!

I may have had my favorite date night ever last night. And it was so simple!

Brance and I started out the date by walking to a coffee shop near our home and chatting over iced drinks. We have had a heat wave lately, for Boston, so it felt pretty amazing to sit in some central air, too :). Plus there is nothing quite like sitting across from your man with no distractions. It’s the best, right!?

Next we wandered over to a favorite restraurant and ordered our meals to go. We grabbed our car and camp chairs and headed to a beloved park. The park is large (for the city) and gorgeous and so few people hang there (I think because most people in the neighborhood prefer to be on the beach). It has big, old trees and lovely bay views where you can see sail boats. And there are large colorful Victorian homes, with widow watches, facing one side. It felt wonderful to sit there and soak up summer with Brance. As the sun set, we ended our time there with a stroll around the park near the water and talked about life.

And then like the parents we are, we ran to the store ALONE to pick up some things we needed before heading home.You see. It was nothing special, but it felt nice to be alone together talking and laughing and relaxing. Even shopping.

Back when Brance and I were dating and engaged we spent many date nights cooking together. We had a lot of fun looking for recipes and shopping for the ingredients. We would turn music up while we cooked and would dance whenever the recipe allowed. We still love cooking together.

What are you favorite kinds of dates? Is there a certain place you eat out or do you prefer to cook at home? Do you like to do something adventurous? Do dates involve the movies or a concert or shopping?  Maybe you love doing something outside. Let’s talk!!