Check out my new podcast on Finding Balance below! Or, if you're more of a reader, read the blog post. :)
I’m so excited you’re here today because we’re chatting about something super important to me....and that thing is BALANCE.
In prior seasons, I had no idea how important balance really was. I thought because “I was juggling well,” it meant I was balancing well. But balancing and juggling are different.
Juggling is chaotic and stressful. You may be keeping the balls in the air, but you have to do a lot of external movement to get them up and off the ground. Balance is peaceful. The external movement is much less, and thus eliminates the chaos from your life.
Anyone else want less chaos in their life?? For sure!
If you’ve listened to my past podcasts, you know where that lifestyle led me. It led me to being a workaholic who was anxious and drowning in feelings and emotions that controlled me. NO THANKS.
Currently, I help run the operations of my company, Trades of Hope. I am home a couple days a week working WHILE taking care of my babe. I run my Instagram, photography, blog, and podcast for fun. I did much of the above mentioned while finishing school a few years ago. At this moment in my life, I am so fulfilled, mostly because I've learned the art of balance.
When I was dealing with some hard stuff, God kept bringing the word SHALOM to my mind. A word commonly used by the Jewish people, it is a thread that runs through the Bible in so many ways. And it is the core of how God operates...a peace that brings completion and wholeness.
That became my word for my life (I know it’s probably cliché, but it helps me). Because I want to be whole. When you’re whole, you don’t lean to extremes. You don’t rest TOO much that you lose your purpose and drive. And you don’t work too much where you lose your sense of community and balance. Whole. Nothing missing. Balancing each facet of life in a way that is not too much and not too little. Now, we’re never going to be perfect. But If I realize that God wants this SHALOM for me, I can walk in balance.
So in thinking about this topic, I identified 5 areas that really helped me shed the old mindset of juggling and adopt this mindset of BALANCE.
The first one was:
1. PRIORITIZE VALUES
I talk about this a lot, but values drive us as individuals. And we all have different ones. I could come here and tell you “do this or do that…” but if that THING does not bring you joy, it won’t work.
Before being balanced, you need to know what your values are. What are the FIVE things you have time for in your week? Unfortunately, it’s not everything. But you can do everything YOU value, because we make time for what we value.
We’re only on this earth for a short time, so I’m not going to waste it by doing something that sucks my soul dry. I’m going to spend my life doing things that make me come alive!
Just to give you an example – here are my priorities and the things I make time for each week:
Community & Friends
Work & Aspirational Goals
Spiritual Life & Downtime
Ryan & Amelia
You can’t do it all. But you have enough in your week to do the right things. Make them the things you love.
2. MAKE A PLAN. HAVE DISCIPLINE TO STICK TO IT.
I’ll be honest with you. In love, some of ya’ll just need more discipline in your life and some of your problems will be answered.
Making a plan for the week is ESSENTIAL to making sure I get the right amount of time with the 5 priorities in my life.
Some people will say to me ‘well I’m just spontaneous” or “I don’t like to be overly planned.” But when you're intentional in your day, you actually have TIME to be spontaneous.
Dream setting has its place, work has its place, rest has its place, and spontaneity has its placed.
So once a week, a sit down with my project management app and I plan my week. I use the app basecamp. I block out each day, and plan what I WANT to do at each time. It doesn’t always happen exactly that way, but it gets pretty close and I get to accomplish what I want, spend time with my baby and loved ones, and end the day on a restful note.
When you plan, you can compartmentalize. When you compartmentalize, you can work when you need to work. And then you can spend time with your family without stressing about other things.
Planning gives you the ability to compartmentalize.... which in turn gives you the freedom to live present again.
Making decisions for short term happiness leads to long term regret. Set your values and plan your days according to your values. The beginning will be painful and require a lot of discipline. But in the long term, you will realize that it gets easier and easier to balance, stay committed, and live the life you dreamed.
3. ELIMINATE TIME WASTERS
To make a plan and stick to it, you have to eliminate the things you’re doing that cause what I call ‘spill-over’ into other areas life.
Social media scrolling – anyone? Ever started scrolling through your insta feed and look up and see that an hour has gone by. Yeah, me too. It’s not a good feeling. That is a spillover activity.
Put a time limit on it. I block out a 20 minutes at the end and beginning of the day to scroll, post, and engage in my friend’s posts. Another thing that is a time waster is allowing others to dictate your day. Waiting for people to comment on your photos on social media, waiting for emails to come in, waiting for someone to come talk to you at the water cooler, chatting it up in the office with whoever can talk.
None of these are bad things, and we need relational time in our life, but too much leads to you meeting everyone else’s need, wants, or tasks, and not moving any of your tasks forward. You’ll end the day feeling like none of your goals progressed.
Don't work out of the pressure of whatever is right in front of you.
Work out of pressure = low capacity. If you work on everyone else’s time table, you will always be a low capacity person.
Stop freaking out about disappointing everyone & have grace for yourself
In order to eliminate time wasters, we need boundaries. To have boundaries, we have to disappoint some people. And then we have to have GRACE for ourselves.
I used to feel SO guilty when I would say, “I’m sorry, I can’t do that.” Or “Not this week” or “Can we schedule a meeting at 1pm instead of chatting now?”
But now that I see how it’s revolutionized my life, how much more intentional I am, how much I can get done WHILE still having time for people….I don’t feel guilty anymore.
You see, being intentional has actually given me MORE time with my family and friends.
But you have to be okay disappointing some of them up front. Explain kindly that you’re trying to be more disciplined with your time and that you’d like to have some time on X date (and then actually, intentionally set aside time for that person.)
And most of all – have grace for yourself! You can’t do it all. Honestly you cant. The people that seem like they can are making sacrifices not to do certain things. The difference between you and them is that they are probably sacrificing the things they don’t value to do the things they DO value.
And you may be saying YES to the things you don’t value and sacrificing what you DO value.
5. CHANGE YOUR LANGUAGE
I'm going to be honest for a second here. It's a pet peeve when people tell me that they are just ‘so stressed and so busy.’
Look, some people really are, especially in certain seasons. Seasons of illness, childbirth, overwhelm, etc. And that’s okay. But if you’re touting your busyness as a badge of honor because you’ll feel LESS than others if you don’t say you’re busy, that’s silly.
I find that busyness makes us feel good. But it’s empty. So stop using busyness as an excuse. People make time for the things they value. If you value watching endless amounts of Netflix on the couch, then do it. But if you don’t value it, don’t do it. And for goodness gracious, stop telling everyone you’re so busy doing things that don’t even make you happy!
What you speak, you become. If you speak juggling, stress, and chaos over your life, your life will feel like that. If you speak wholeness, peace, and intentionality over your life, that is the fruit you will produce.
Remember friends, we don’t have to juggle. Juggling is chaos. We can balance. Balance is not an extreme in either direction, rather it is a way to have a little bit of everything we love, allowing us to feel whole and complete.
I'm here with my husband Ryan today and we are sharing our 5 tips for healthy communication in our marriage!
For all the deets, listen to our full podcast below.
I met Ryan when he was 11 years old and I was 12. We were at a community pool and sparks were flying. Okay, maybe not so much. We were pre-teens and super goofy and awkward around each other. But give us a few years and we got on board with the whole not being awkward thing. At 14 years of age, we both admitted to one another our crushes (so middle school, right?) and started 'dating.' I put dating in air quotes, because we weren't technically allowed to date at the time, so it was more like supervised friendship with our parents or siblings always around. But it didn't matter to us, we were head over heels in love! Not out of the ordinary for middle schoolers, but what was different is that we actually made it. We made it out of the awkward tweens, the midde school years of unsurety, and the tulmutous time of high school, going off the college and finding yourself.
We've been together for over 10 years and are still as madly in love as the day we admitted our goofy crushes to each other at church. ;)
How have we managed to stay so in love. Two words. Healthy Communication.
So today, we're going to jump into our 5 tips for Healthy Communication from two middle school sweethearts. Ready for it? Okay, let's go!
1. UNDERSTANDING THEIR VALUES
Every person has different values, but we tend to treat people the way WE expect to be treated. And hey, the golden rule isn't a bad one. But sometimes, it plain doesn't work.
Why? Because we aren't all made the same. We grow up different, have different parents, varying life experience. Because of this, we ALL have different values and we can't EXPECT people to operate on our own. In our marriage, we've found that the love language tests online really help you determine what some of your values are. I really value quality time, where as Ryan really values words of affirmation. If I keep giving him my time, but never praise him or verbally thank him for what he does for me, he feels hurt. If he tells me how great I am, but doesn't make time for the little things I value, I feel hurt. So understanding your love languages and your values is a huge thing.
This is also a BIG conversation when it comes to money. (More on that it another podcast). But couples can definitely have different opinions on how money should be used and when. Neither viewpoint is evil or necessarily wrong, but making sure both people feel valued and heard is important. Before we even got married, we talked through our values and we continue to do this every year to make sure we are treating each other the way they dream of being treated.
2. DON'T BE AFRAID OF HEALTHY FIGHTING
Now, I'm not talking 'throwing chairs around the room'. But there is a healthy way to fight. Engage in conversation, even if it’s hard and could lead to tension. Fighting is better than passivity.
Disagreeing to have your thoughts known is not necessarily bad. We all got married with the hope to be known and understood, so that is PART of marriage. But disagreements turn into a problem when you are trying to wound the other person. Ryan and I fight, but we always, always, always try to remember to never wound, and to never attack the other person’s character or heart.
There have been times that I don't want to "fight," so I never mention that my heart is hurt from something. And then it's natural to resort to bitterness and passive aggressive comments that actually do MORE damage than the fighting even would have. So learn to EXPRESS yourself and ENGAGE with the one you love, even if it causes some tension. If you're both committed to not wounding the other person... but instead coming to a safe place together, you'll be all the better for it.
3. MAKE THEM THE MOST IMPORTANT PERSON IN EVERY ROOM
We learned this from my parents. As soon as my mom walks in a room, my dad takes notice of her. Whenever my dad is up on stage speaking, my mom leans over and makes a comment about how smart or goodlooking he is. It is clear they adore each other.
So whenever Ryan and I are out, we still make intentional action to notice the other person. Whether we are at church, at work, or out with friends, every few minutes we'll look at each other, Ryan will squeeze my hand, we'll send each other texts, or lean into one another. This let's the other person know, "hey, I know we're with all these people, but you are the most important person in this room to me." Being noticed and adored is a feeling that will give you butterflies in your tummy again. :)
4. BELIEVE THE BEST
Always believe the best about your spouse. Whether you're hurt about something they did or fighting with one another, understand that their HEART was probably not out to hurt you. Remember that they probably just operate on different values and don't even understand that the way they said "that one thing" could have been hurtful. Believing the best helps you FIGHT FAIR. Don't demonize your spouse. They are not the enemy and are rooting FOR you. Sometimes you just have to talk out your values to come to that place.
5. HAVE AN ANNUAL TIME TO RECONNECT
Every year, we try and do something special for our anniversary. And we don't just go on a trip, but we take that time to talk about our lives, debrief about our year, ask for forgiveness for the ways we may have hurt the other, find ways to do life better together, and talk through our future goals. Let's face it, we change. And if you're with someone for 10 years, they are going to change too. But you CAN fall in love with them in each new season....it just takes some intentionality. So be intentional. Check in with one another weekly, quarterly, yearly to make sure you are both doing your part and walking in sync. Sometimes you won't be and will need to re-adjust, and that's okay. But if you are committed to the other person, these meetings will be healing to your heart and will re-bond and re-connect you over and over again.
So that's it for today, folks! Our 5 tips to healthy community from us dorky middle school sweethearts. To hear all the stories, listen to the podcast above and don't forget to leave us a review if you found it helpful!
(and here's a freebie for ya, a very embarrassing yet adorbs photo of us when we first met.)
Talk to ya later, friends! <3
Now that the first trimester is over, I wanted to blog an update to remember all of the
wonderful & weird things that happened during these last few months.
This is my first pregnancy and reaching the second trimester is such a gift. Not only
because I'm hoping the morning sickness will fade, but the pregnancy risk is much
lower and something I won't need to continually fear. Praising God for the protection and continual prayers.
But the last couple months have been exciting ones!
On a hot day in August of 2005, I met Ryan Antos. We were friends at first
and then some years later, he told me he liked me. We were 14 years old, little and awkward, but even in those years, we knew we loved each other so. It's been almost 10 years since the day when we confessed our affection to each other. As a teenager, I was terrified of the day we would separate. I was a realistic kid and I knew it had to come....young love never lasts. And so everyday I would write in my journal that if God could give me anything, I would ask for him.
At 19 years old, Ryan asked me to marry him and my faithful prayers, scribbled in a
worn journal came true.
We've been married over 4 years, and it has been everything I could have dreamed.
We've walked through hard things like everyone, sure. But I have been loved enough to
last me a lifetime and I have loved enough for a lifetime, and to know we still have a
lifetime yet to love one another brings me so much joy.
In June, we had started to talk about kids,
but weren't sure if we were ready yet. We
were both really enjoying our careers and
adventures. We traveled so much and I had
this weird, irrational fear that once a kid
came, all of it was over. So we decided that maybe we would wait another year.
At the end of June, God woke me up in the
middle of night and told me that I needed to start praying for my future baby and for
the faith to not believe my irrational fears.
I don't often have midnight God experiences
(though I wish I did!), so this was pretty
So I committed that every morning, I would take a good chunk of prayer time and pray
for our one day child and that God would prepare my heart and my faith for that time. I knew there'd be fear, but I prayed an end to the fear that kept stopping me from even
considering becoming pregnant. I was praying all of this with 2018 in mind of course, so we weren't taking any big risks and it was all purely for the future. ;)
Fast forward 3 weeks....
On a Tuesday night in July....on the way to a photoshoot, I stopped at home because I felt sick. I had a weird thought that I should take a pregnancy test....fully knowing there was no possible way to be pregnant.
But lo and behold.
I didn't really believe it when I saw it. I thought I had taken it wrong. I kind of just
pretended it hadn't happened because I was alone and freaking out, I told my dog,
filmed a quick video just in case it was true, and went on my way.
When Ryan came home later, I dropped the news, he was so shocked and overjoyed, and then we went to Target, where I took a bunch more tests. All positive. It felt a little
surreal. I didn't know how to respond and was just kind of in shock. Especially because only Ryan and I knew what I was praying for. (and of course, I've always prayed for our future kiddos, but this was a much more specific type of prayer that I was coincidentally beginning to pray WHILE I was pregnant). God is cool and weird sometimes.
Check out our pregnancy announcement video here.
I wish I can say the fear went away after
that, but the fear carried on for about 3
weeks. I stuck with my faith prayers and
worked through it. I blogged about some of my specific fears and how I conquered
them over at this blog post.
And I know you never stop being fearful,
but I believe in big faith and targeting
specific fears that cause anxiety, so that's
what I did.
This is something I learned after dealing with trauma and I've taught myself (with some help from good friends) how to heal (continually and in every new season) from the
kind of fear that crosses into unnatural anxiety. It isn't easy, but it's possible.
My fear eased up and faith and confidence started to kick in as we moved forward. Our month was a little crazy after that. 6 days after finding out, I hopped on a plane to host a 500 person event with Trades of Hope and my team. I had many speaking roles and
hosting duties, and it was a little overwhelming with my new-found pregnancy and the onslaught of morning sickness. But all of our Compassionate Entrepreneurs were SO
sweet to me and made it the BEST experience.
A couple months later, we were hit with Hurricane Irma and our entire town shut down for a week. Everyone was hunkering down, boarding up windows, and buying enough junk food to last them to the end of the world. It was a little crazy, but we got through
it and were not negatively impacted other then some flooding on our street. Our poor
town is still recovering though!
Around this time, I began to start to feel super comfortable being pregnant and was
starting to really understand my body and it's needs.
I found that, at least for me:
- I had morning sickness and the throw ups every morning, but it was not as bad as I thought it'd be. Honestly, you get used to everything. As long as I didn't let it interrupt my day and get me down, I could deal with it fine. (TMI: Also, drinking a TON of water as soon as I got up helped me throw up clean and easy without vomiting important calories. I just replaced the water later).
- Swallowing and digesting harsher food was a lot harder, so I need to drink water with every meal or I'd get indigestion. (Something I never had before). I wasn't exhausted or overly emotional like many said I'd be. Honestly, other then feeling a little bloated and having morning sickness, I felt pretty much like Chelsie. And I liked that. So far, so good! Not trying to diminish anyone else's experiences, but I like to share the good just in case it encourages someone too.
- Gaining weight is a lot harder then everyone told me it'd be, just because of my body type. So I have to intentionally go out of the way to eat more foods. I just
really like my fruit, guys!
- Exercising helped being sick, but lifting weights made me dizzy so walking helped a TON.
- Getting good books to research pregnancy INSTEAD of googling (and seeing all those terrifying, fear mongering things) was SUPER helpful in managing fear.
So maybe those will help you! Or maybe they'll just be for me to look back on and
Right at the end of the first trimester and the tailend of Hurricane Irma, we hopped on a plane to Washington D.C. I'm helping homeschool my brother this semester (#homeschoolkidsunite) and we planned a fun trip to help him learn some history. (Plus, it was nice escaping to some AC as we were out of power for a good part of the week).
So Ryan and I had fun galavanting around D.C., visiting our friend Elisabeth, seeing the historical sites, and visiting Mount Vernon. It was here that I was certain I saw my belly bump for the first time. I'm kind of lanky, so it's hard for others to see, but there is
definitely a little something going on.
Apparently, I'm now 15 weeks this week, instead of the 14 I thought. We went in for our 2nd appointment and heard the baby's heartbeat again and scheduled our appointment for finding out the gender, which is exciting!
Anyway, that's kind of a recap for you and somewhat for me. I want to remember all of my experiences and I love blogging, so I figured I'd let you in on some of the updates as well.
For the next few months, we have lots of exciting things planned including a trip to the mountains to see the leaves, a birthday/costume party, a gender reveal party, and a
Harry Potter marathon.
And of course, we are still adamantly praying in big faith for our baby and all that
he/she will be one day.
Until the next update. Thanks for reading, sweet friend!
P.S. The formatting is wonky in this blog post. I spent forevs trying to fix it and finally
gave up, but so sorry if it was weird to read because of it. <3
It's official! We've made it through the first trimester and all is well with our little kiddo.
We're not sure yet if it's a boy or girl, so I've lovingly been calling him/her 'baby groot,' a name no one thinks is very cute UNLESS they've seen Guardians of the Galaxy. ;)
But the first trimester is no piece of cake. Throwing up every morning while trying to be a girl boss is harder then I thought it would be, so I've got three tips for all those first time millennial moms-to-be.... who are maybe terrified about what is to come or just need some words of encouragement.
For me, finding out I was pregnant was a joyous thing. And then the terror set in. I love leading my company, traveling the world, speaking, and showing up for work everyday. Every calling is valuable, but the calling God has put on my life for this season has always been coupled with the business I've helped grow and run. With my pregnancy announcement, I felt this very weird, self imposed doom and pressure that my work and travel days were over. It was a sinking, frightening feeling. (Also, the couple people that have decided to tell me "enjoy this time before the baby comes, because you'll have no time and no life afterwards" may have set me off a bit).
After talking to many of my millennial girlfriends, I find that this is a common fear for my age group (an age group that is increasingly pursuing entrepreneurship.... and wants parenthood and entrepreneurship to co-exist.).
Our generation's values have shifted a bit and some of us are scared of WHO we have to become in order to be a mother, as it may look different then tradition.
But no matter, let me speak truth for a second. YOU are still YOU when you're pregnant and your baby is just a beautiful addition to your life. And if you live as fully YOU while pregnant and after, your baby will be all the better for it.
WHO you have to be is exactly YOU.
I promise. My mom lived this truth for me. She loved us kiddos with all her heart, but we were a part of her and my dad's sweeping adventure, not the other way around. And I firmly believe that seeing my parents live out their unique them-ness created healthy, happy kids in us.
So three things I'm learning and reminding myself of through this wonderful, scary, weird ride:
1. Your pregnancy and mommyhood can look however YOU want it to
If you desire to stay home and have the ability to, do it. If your personality was built to work full time, do it. If you want to travel with a baby on your back, go for it. If you're longing to homeschool your kiddos, pursue your calling.
My family traveled, ran businesses, homeschooled me, and brought me along on all their adventures.
Their life did not stop when I showed up, but they immediately immersed me in the fullness that was them.
I was a part of their love story, their adventures, and their passion for this life. And I loved growing up that way. I always felt part of something bigger than myself, and that gave me security and a love for life.
Just do you. And don't let anyone else define what it needs to look like. The adventure does not end when a kid comes around. Your story can become sweeter, deeper, and more full.
2. Start creating your own affirmations to speak over yourself.
As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I was super happy. And then about a week in, the fear set in. I wasn't super maternal...so how could I be a good mom? I work too much and really don't want to stay home....would I mess my kids up? I have an amazing closeness with my husband and don't want it to go away....what if it does?
These are all erroneous thoughts that fear tries to plant in our minds. That fear will come and all of us deal with it. But creating 'affirmations' or statements of truth really do help you continually overcome fear.
So I sat down and wrote out five affirmations that I repeat to myself everyday.
They can be super simple or more complex, but they have to attack the root fear you feel and replace that thought with truth. For me, many of my private ones turn into prayers of faith over my family and child.
My work ethic, strength, passion, and drivenness will teach my kids how to love their life and work hard for something they love.
My adventurous spirit will show my children how to embrace and fully live life.
I will make time to do what I love in my career AND spend time with my kids.
Traveling will teach them to appreciate this world, love everyone, and to adapt to change.
My relationship with Ryan will change and become even deeper and better.... because of what we created together.
These are just some examples. I challenge you - whether you're pregnant or just terrified of one day being pregnant (like me) - start creating your own and speaking them over yourself now.
3. Keep the adventure alive through pregnancy
It can be tough to still feel fun when you're sick and bloated. But don't stop doing the things you love because of it. Take a ride down to the beach, go hike your favorite national park, have a game night with your husband, go on a mini roadtrip with friends. I have intentionally placed fun things through out the next few months that remind me of who I am and what I love. I love to travel. I love adventure. I love community. And yes, my life will change. But I can still live fully in those things while pregnant and with a child.
Keep those little reminders by intentionally planning you-like activities through-out being pregnant. This, just like affirmations, will remind you of who you are and what brings you joy.
You millennial mom-to-be (or one day mom to be): Remember that life does not end when you have a kid. You are still you and no one can make you not YOU. You control the way you parent, the way you work, the joy you have, and the life you want. So don't let society or any negative Nancys tell you what kind of 'mom' you have to be.
There is no right way for anyone, but by living as fully yourself while you're pregnant and when you have your baby, you will find so much more joy. And you will teach that precious child how to do and find the same thing.
We can do this together, friends.
We celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary yesterday and I love Ryan more than I ever have before. Most years since we've been married, I've made an anniversary video about our year together.
In truth, our life is wonderful. But there are hard things and last year, I struggled with how painful life truly can be. Choosing joy didn't feel like an option with what I went through. Through it, Ryan loved me and helped me find a way to see this beauty again. But I make these videos for us every year because, though life can be painful, these moments in the video are what I remember. Even in pain, Ryan has been by my side helping me see this joy, community, and abundant life in everything. And we've together chosen that when we look at life, we will see these things and we will work hard to choose joy. This year we've found so much of this joy in our friends, family, and community.
Ryan, thank you for walking with me through darkness and taking my hand toward the light. When I look back, I see the fingerprints of God all over this life. You are the strongest most tender man I know and I am always in awe that somehow you picked me. Even in the hard things, how sweet this life is with you and how full of goodness. I hope you see the absolute joy you bring me through this video. I love you with all my heart. Happy Anniversary. <3
As many of you know, I was one of those homeschooled kiddos. I grew up being asked if I had any friends and people scratching their heads at my outgoing personality. (Homeschoolers generally can be pretty social. :) I'm now in my 20s, have my degree in Business, am married to the love of my life, and co-founded and help run the company Trades of Hope. I've traveled the country in a renovated camper, hiked mountains in Costa Rica, sailed on boats through Thailand, and work to partner with incredible artisans in countries all over the world to help end poverty. In 2016, we helped employ over 13,000 artisans globally.
I'm sometimes asked what things I was taught in my homeschooled younger years that helped me on my road in life. While learning the normal things like Math and English, my parents also taught lessons that I believe have been the key to the success in my life.
So, in thinking about this question, I came up with 10 lessons I learned from my parents, though there are certainly more. We are never by-products of our own, but comprised of the incredible people that have poured into us. My parents are the kindest, craziest, most full of love people I know and I am honored to be their daughter. These below lessons are things my parents were faithful in teaching me and living out for me, and I truly believe they can bring so much joy to your life.
1. Honor God & others, especially those in your authority
This is a lesson I'm still learning. Honor is putting others first and respecting their thoughts, ideas, and contribution to your life. As a strong willed person, honoring those who paved the way before me can be difficult. Bucking authority can be trendy. But I do think, in instances, we're called to honor and serve someone else's vision before we can be entrusted with our own.
Mostly because humility is learned in the submitting.
Not speaking ill of others, not putting them down in front of others, always giving credit when sharing another's idea, not calling people out or making them look bad, always thanking those who gifted you or allowed you to have a platform.
For me, honoring my creator is also so important to this. I do this through honoring the sacrifice he made for me on the cross and the life he has called me to live. When I honor God, honoring people is much easier.
2. Don't burn bridges
Don't cut off relationships. There will be those that wrong you and hurt you. Don't intentionally hurt them back. If we are consistently making poor decisions, angering others, and being vindictive, we will have no more bridges to walk over. Apologize often. If you could have ended a relationship better, do it. Don't wait. Life is full of endings. But we don't need to end things with drama, ill intent, and anger.
Learn how to end things well.
3. Stay physically & mentally disciplined for long term joy
This is something I hid from for a couple of years. I was tired of being disciplined, of saving money, of taking care of my body, my stress level, my actions. And though shirking discipline doesn't always show short term affects, two years later, I was a mess.
I learned that peace is actually found through the discipline to make choices for long term joy.
By doing my work on time and respecting my authority, I decide that my short term desire of wanting my own way is not more important than the long term joy of loving my job and having it love me back.
By being careful about the movies, books, and music I let my mind engage in, I decide that my short term desire for gratification is not more important than a mind that is at peace and free of violence, anger, and morbid thoughts.
By controlling how much I am online, I decide that my short term desire to engage and gain a following is not more important than sharing space and time with my husband, family, and those dearest to my heart.
Choosing discipline can be frowned upon, many mistaking this for not living in grace and not giving yourself a break. And while there will be moments of time we need to break routine and we will always need grace, choosing to control our thoughts, bodies, and minds can lead to happier and more peaceful lives.
4. Before making decisions & assumptions, especially out of anger, put yourself in another's shoes
It's easy to react to other people. But the key of leading anything is to become good at controlling your reaction and understanding that, though your emotions may be valid, the other person's feelings are probably very valid too. We don't live in a world of polar opposites. There is gray and being able to control our decisions and assumptions.... and then filter the perspective of another into them, gives us an incredible way to live in peace with others.
5. Choose to believe that your grass is beautifully green and that there is no other side
Positivity is the key to so much. I went through a very dark period in my life where I hated when people would tell me to "choose" joy. And I get that perspective, I really do. After trauma and pain, there is no real immediate solution in choosing. But what I found in dealing with trauma is that choosing is a slow thing and it hurts a lot more than we thought it would. I would go months without knowing if the choosing was working. Something that helped was eliminating social media for a while. I did this so I would stop focusing on what I had lost that others still had, and so I would instead focus on what I actually still did have. I wrote encouragement on my mirrors, on note cards all over my house, I repeated affirmations to myself, and I only put into my mind what would make me feel grateful. And over days, and weeks, and months, step by step, a little light dawned in my heart again.
There is always someone that will seem to have a better life. But choosing to live YOUR life in the best possible way YOU can will physically and mentally change your life. Your body will become healthier, because light thoughts produce health. Your relationships will get better, because light attracts people. And you will feel that maybe, just maybe, your life is wonderful even when it's hard. And that those two things don't have to be at odds.
6. Be involved in community
Ryan and I traveled for almost a whole year in a camper, never staying in one place longer than 3 days. It was an exciting time, exploring the entire US, speaking for Trades of Hope, and getting to meet new people. But by the end of our trip, I was drowning in sorrow and grief from things going on in my life and in family. And I was so lonely.
I was also confused. Isn't it everyone's dream to travel and see the world? Maybe it is, but it doesn't always feel like a dream. What I realized was that moving every 3 days for almost a year produced in me no real roots or attachments to people. And we are created by God to be in relationship with others. It wasn't until we settled in one area and began intentionally involving ourselves with our friends that I began to heal.
God has gifted others with the balm needed to heal your wounds. You simply don't have it within yourself and I promise that you'll need them to teach you to hope and laugh again.
7. Be generous with your time, money, and knowledge
Every thing we have is a blessing. Every piece of wisdom and joy, every dollar, every possession. But I believe that these things are not truly ours and that we've been given them to help others. Be generous in everything you do. Give of your time. Give of your encouragement. If you are blessed financially, help others with it. If you are given something, start dreaming of how you can use this gift to help other people. This is one of the greatest lessons my parents lived out for me and it brings such fullness of life. Instead of guarding our 'stuff' and our knowledge, giving away freely also brings freedom to our minds and hearts.
8. Be creatively passionate in whatever you do, doing it with integrity and excellence
There's 4 words in this statement that mean something important:
9. Be a safe and balanced place for those around you
Balance asks us to lie within the tension of two thoughts. It asks us to guard our thoughts and conversations against extremism. That is not easy and requires constant conflict. The middle ground will always have this tension. But if we are to love all people, we must bridge the gaps in thinking and perspective and help heal divisiveness. This is not just about politics, but in relationships, in work, in groups of people. Don't be quick to take a side, but consider how you can instead stand in the middle to love and heal a divide.
10. Through empathetic learning, act and speak with boldness.
In a world where empathy and gentleness are so important, we can fear the power of boldness. We tend to lack the ability to be bold because we foolishly forget empathy and speak without asking for perspective. If we are to be bold in this way, we will certainly look like fools.
But IF we hold on to the responsibility of being empathetic, we will be gifted with the ability to speak with power and courage. In fact, not much difference can be done in the world if we turn down the moment to speak and act with confidence. Let your compassion and empathy for others motivate you to speak with boldness and conviction.
And choose to do it even when you're afraid.
It’s our second anniversary and so much has happened this year. We moved into a camper and started a road trip of the country. Here’s a few pieces of our year we wanted to share with you via video. :)
Being in one place for such a short amount of time is interesting. You feel detached from your surroundings. Out of place. Never really sure. And you start to notice things.
I was always fascinated by the book about the time traveler's wife. And as we travel on this long road trip, staying in towns for a day or two and then leaving, I identify with her husband. You are always out of place. Everywhere we go, I will never get to know the people there as I wish I could. At every store we visit in every city, I wonder....will I ever meet these people again? Maybe in 20 years, our lives will cross paths and we'll have never known about that time we spoke in the grocery store. So many stories I will miss and that makes me sad.
I wonder while at the park in San Francisco, sitting and eating lunch with Ryan, do the guys playing basketball know that we don't belong here? That in 24 hours, I'll be gone from here, whisked away to another town, our lives never intersecting with their own, never making an impact on one another.
Another thing about traveling so often - you begin to read people better. You begin to see what the check out guy says over and over at thousands of different coffee shops. You begin to see pain flash in people's eyes when you may have never noticed it before. You begin to watch emotions better, because you need connection and emotion in a life of constant detachment.
And you begin to love people more. How could you not? Always watching them. You see them visit their parks, shop with their babies in their neighborhood markets, smoke behind the building with their friends, see them eat breakfast at cafes on Saturday mornings just like I used to do all the way in Florida. You begin to wish you could hear the stories of all people. You begin to feel things for people you saw on the street or at the gas station or at the Starbucks. You want to know them. You want them to know you. There are thousands of them and you see their pain and laughter and joy and you watch them go on first dates in coffee shops, you watch them pump your gas from the window in Oregon, you watch them sit alone in a Panera and gaze out the window in sadness, you watch them walk down the street with lovers, frustratingly pick up their crying children on the sidewalk, you've seen glimpses of them tearing up at a John Green book on the train. And you love them.
Traveling so much can make you feel detached, yes. But it can allow you moments where you see the tapestry of life, drawn into full scale. Where you are afforded quiet moments into thousands of people's lives. Moments where you forget about yourself and see each person as they wish to be seen. And how could you not love them? Their pain and sadness and anger and heartbreak and joy. Oh, their joy. They are like you, everywhere, wanting to be loved and walking through anger and growth and laughing at funny movies and drinking too much coffee and having awkward moments and happy moments and struggling with life and hoping, always hoping.
I'm not creepy, I don't think. I'm not trying to be. But I watch people, because after tens of thousands of miles, mountains look the same. But people, crafted uniquely and perfectly and flawed and beautiful. They fill me with such joy and I hope that when I go home, I never forget them. Every single one of them. Even the ones I never spoke to. They deserve to be remembered. And in my small, silly little love for them, I am overwhelmed by the love of another who sees us the way we've always wished to be seen, thousands of us, one of us. Even all of us at once in our patterns and even one of us alone in our sorrow. We are different and we are the same and I love you and thank you, whoever you are, for allowing me to glimpse your beauty and pain and quiet moments and fullness of life.
We are just about two weeks into our crazy adventure on the road and it has certainly been an interesting few weeks. Thank you to all of those that have been praying for us, thinking of us, and following our posts online. It means so much! Just to recap each of you a bit..... here are some of the highlights we've gotten to experience already!
- We drove all the way through Georgia, Tennessee, and Mississippi. So beautiful to watch so much nature through my
- We visited about 5 coffee shops in a few days time in Nashville - all in pursuit of internet and the best coffee. My vote?
Crema and Thistle Stop Cafe. I am now a little crazy from all the caffeine. :)
- We spoke to about 60 different people about Trades of Hope and how passionate we are about it!
- We visited some our artisans over at Thistle Farms (such a cool experience!)
- We saw snow!! (and almost froze with our Florida blood ;)
- We spent 6 days without a toilet and tried (very humorously) to try and fix it ourselves. Not a pretty experience.
- We figured out how fun (and tough) it can be to be in a new place every few days.
The trip, for me especially, was an exciting new challenge. I firmly believe that unless you are doing something that terrifies you, you aren't growing. This is pretty much the mantra of our trip. Meeting new people almost every day and speaking publicly (my worst fear) is something that can be so scary for my self-proclaimed introvertness. (I'm now just saying that I fall under both categories. lol). The last couple of years, I have found that I'm not the best at being a balanced individual and I am the greatest at being an obsessed workaholic. They were also full of a lot of confusion about what to do next with my life. I was 22 years old and I already had an amazing job (that I will never give up, for sure!), a cool apartment, and so much control of what I thought I knew. And I felt like I had no room to grow. It began to be stifling. It began to feel monotonous. In the face of the darkness of this world, my heart was struggling with trusting Jesus and understanding his goodness and love for me.
This road trip is exactly what I've needed. It's what Jesus has had planned for me since the very beginning. A job that has allowed me to travel and meet new people is the biggest blessing I could have ever asked for. More time with Ryan. And a requirement that I must stop being a control freak. I cannot control how fast we drive (a whopping 55 mph in a big fifth wheel), so I can't really control when I'm late to things, and I can't control when our bathroom decides to break, or if its 20 degrees out and if my cell service isn't there and my internet doesn't work. So much not-controlling for this girl.....and this not-controlling is helping me become the person I have always hoped to be. In this period of no control, I am finding a quietness. A deep joy that I thought I might have lost. An ability to live in the moment, which was so hard for me before. As I live in the moment, I find the believe in the goodness of God creeping back into my heart. As I live in this moment, I see people for the beautiful beings they are. I care deeper. I love deeper. I empathize better. I love Jesus more. I understand grace fully. I see the sweetness of the world clearer.
It's still hard and it will continue to be. Wherever you go, there you are and no matter how big of a roadtrip you go on, your unhealthy habits still remain unless you take the hard steps to end them. I am working through this. I am identifying where I need to let rest permeate. It is tough. We are in the growing pains period. But my heart is settling, and I am hoping by the end of this amazing Trades of Hope Tour that I am so blessed to be on, that I will have understood better how wide, and deep, and long, and high the love of Jesus is for me in a way that shakes me and quiets my heart and makes me trust and laugh more and understand this whole heartbreaking and beautiful world a little better. Pray that with me?
Here are some photos so far. I hope you enjoy journeying this trip with us. I feel your love and cannot thank you enough for being a part of my life.
I remember that, as a child, I was so confident in who I was. So sure of my purpose. So utterly okay with myself, so much so that I would do crazy things, things like speaking, things like traveling, things like writing. I was fearless in the best possible way.
But over the last few years, fearlessness was lost. I have spent the last three years desperately trying to find it again. Trying to figure out if it was just a mirage childhood paints over each of us, or if it was truly a quality my creator endowed into my spirit. As I searched and prayed for this quality again, I tried to understand how I lost it. What had severed my connection with the bravery of having an understood identity? This is the conclusion I have come to:
Fearlessness was lost when I started associating who I am with where I measured against other people.
Comparisons were sucking the life right out of me.
As I grew into an adult, I taught my heart ever so subconsciously that other people were doing bigger, better, grander things and gosh darn it, if I couldn't top it, my life was pretty much a big fat failure.
I became a comparison junky. I stopped placing my identity in the person God had called me to be, and started placing it in the fact that people were out to overshadow my success. When we do this, other people become a threat to us and we slowly start to lose our sense of purpose.
You might not struggle with this....but in a world of social media craziness....it's kind of hard not to. We get bombarded with people's "best" 24/7, and for a person who struggles with perfectionism, I set a standard over my life that is impossible to fulfill. And when I can't fulfill it, I get mad, I get fearful, and I get lost.
Some ways to tell if you're stuck in comparisons?
1. People who compare become upset at other people's success.
You might not understand why. Your head might even know it's wrong, but your heart can't help but to feel twinges of misery when you see someone's amazing Instagram pictures, or FB statuses, or awesome tweets. It's the "ugh" feeling of.....'cool for them, but why not me?" You might not be visibly or actively wishing for their demise, but your heart is not rooting for them. This is dangerous, because God does call us to root for other people. We are called to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength AND love others. There in and of itself lies hints of our identity and our purpose. If we aren't rooting for other people, half of our identity is lost. When half your identity is lost, you're going to be walking around wondering why you have no joy, why you have no strength, why you have no fearlessness.
2. People who compare are not willing to give credit to others.
Let's face it. You work hard. Really hard. And when someone compliments you, it feels good. It gives you a sense of self assurance, a sense of worth, a sense of satisfaction. What happens when someone compliments someone else for something you might have had a part in? That can be really rough. Those moments are when I learn the most about my character. Along those same lines, are you actively looking for ways to point to others, to honor others, to give credit to how they've attributed to your wins? Hey look, if we aren't willing to admit that others had a part in our success, we will lose every time. If you don't pay honor to those who helped build your success you might get ahead, but you are also going to go horribly and utterly alone.
3. People who compare place themselves in circle of friends where they can be the top dog/the smartest/the best, rather than aligning themselves with people that can teach them, grow them, and have gone before them.
When you suffer from the comparison game, you often position yourself for the short term win. And when I say 'short term win,' I mean that you position yourself to win a small footrace, rather than training for the Olympics. I love a quote from John Maxwell that says something along the lines of, "if you're at the top of your class, you're probably in the wrong class." It can be scary moving to a new class where everyone is more experienced, more intelligent, and wiser than you. Don't let it threaten you. You will grow more than ever before and growth will lead you to purpose. You were meant to run in the Olympics, so stop running that silly footrace.
4. People who compare suffer from discouragement, exhaustion, and the feeling of always wanting to give up.
It's because you are running the wrong race that secretly goes in a circle. When we compare, we run the race of accomplishment, a race that goes nowhere. But we are called to run the race of purpose. A life ran toward purpose understands that no other person is in their race. Hoping for another’s success does not diminish your own success, just like insulting another’s success does not increase your own. We are called to a purpose that no one else can fulfill. It might take us quite a while to run it, but that's okay. When you're running toward purpose and you know that everyone's rooting for you [not competing against you] running hard becomes a whole lot easier (and more fun too!). If you can understand this, you'll be confident in your steps. Sure in your stride. Understanding of your identity.
Nothing illustrates a life lead with purpose like the life of John the Baptist. Called from a young age to be the forerunner of Jesus, proclaiming his name and preparing hearts for his grace, it could have been pretty easy for John the Baptist to become jealous and give up his purpose. He had a pretty good thing going with publicity and crowds and all that jazz.....and then Jesus came on the scene and John's ministry got smaller and seemingly less awesome. How would we have reacted to something like this? Someone taking our name, taking our crowds, taking our ministry, our position? The little fame we've got going on through Twitter already has us freaking out.......so how would we have dealt with John's situation?
You see, John knew his true purpose. He just keeps pointing to Jesus. He actually says "He must increase, but I must decrease." Holy mackeral, can I just have this quality please?? How do we start to attain the sense of destiny and humility that John the Baptist has? Here are a few quick things I've noticed about John the Baptist that are helping me deal with comparisons in my own life:
1. John the Baptist never stops giving honor where honor is due.
John knows who gave him the word to preach and he attributes none of it to himself. If it's not his, he can never lose it. Eternal destiny can never be taken from us. God gave him his gifting and John points it all right back to him. John never compares himself to others or to Jesus, John knows exactly who he is and what he's there for, and that is enough. Let's give honor to Jesus for what he's given us and then honor those around us who have been part of our success.
2. John the Baptist knows his purpose and his purpose is to point to Jesus' success.
His purpose is to make the way for Jesus coming after him. His purpose rested solely on the lifting up of another. Is that not what we are called to do on this Earth? Can we start to position ourselves to point to Jesus and point to others.....and stop always jumping up and down, yelling "me! me! me!"?
3. John the Baptist was bold, John the Baptist knew he had a unique message, John the Baptist was fearless.
The above two points allow us to be bold and from this boldness, we will reap joy and fulfillment. You know why John could afford to be so bold? Because he gave honor where it was due and he knew what his purpose was. John wasn't afraid of another's success, because he knew that within that person's success was his destiny. John positioned himself to point to God and to point to others...... and this yielded boldness. Out of this boldness comes joy and fulfillment, worth and fearlessness.
As we each discover what our purpose is, we must understand that at the core of it all lies our calling to love God and love others. If our lives do not exemplify this, we have missed our purpose. When we love God and root for one another, we free ourselves from the threat of comparisons. Fearfulness will cease and we will begin to live a life of growth, joy, and of purpose.
Hey, friend! I'm Chelsie!
Stay a while and get comfy. <3