A Fraud

I don’t actually know what I’m doing.

Not in mothering.  Not in marriage.  Not in relationships, in general.

Not in educating.  Not in domestic responsibilities.  Not in business.

Certainly not in humaning.

I am not an expert.  In anything.  I hold multiple degrees.  I am well trained in various areas from accounting to herbalism.  I have taught myself how to cook and clean and do laundry.  I have learned to make medicines and file taxes and follow an educational philosophy that respects children as born persons.  I have studied and read and learned.  I have traveled and I have loved and I have birthed babies.  Yet I am not an expert at anything.

Sometimes I feel inadequate.  Like I’m a perpetual student over here, never quite achieving competency.  Other times, I’m just resigned to the idea that I am not an expert.  I think of myself more as a jack-of-all trades.

Other days I try to convince myself that surely I must be an expert at something.  I know so much about herbs and healing and alternative health care.  Until I am humbly reminded that for all I know, there’s still so much I don’t know.  I tell myself I’m an expert at educating my children.  Until I see a hole in their learning or hear a criticism that makes me rethink our methods.

Most days I go to bed reminded that I’m really not an expert at anything.

Except being broken.

I’m good at that.  Really good.  Expert level good.

Being broken doesn’t require a degree.  Or years of study.  It doesn’t require a paycheck or a certain household income.  It doesn’t matter my skin color or my weight or my religion.  All it requires is a quick look in the mirror and the humility to admit that I’m a mess.

And I promise.  I’m a mess.

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Being an expert at being broken might not be a bad thing.  It certainly makes me more compassionate.  Because I know how you’re feeling.  My road might look different than yours, but it’s all still a rubbled mess.  And I get how that mess distracts us and deters us and sometimes defines us.

Being broken leaves lots of room for growth and fixing.  And that might just be the point of this long journey we call life…a chance to change and be the better person, the kinder person, the person I’d want in my life.

The best thing about being broken might just be that it keeps me humble.  It helps me journey alongside those in my life (even my kids…no, especially, my kids).  ‘Cause I don’t really know what I’m doing either.  And sometimes having somebody that’s there in the trenches with you is way better than having someone preach from outside the arena.

So there it is.  I’m a fraud at most everything I do.  Except being broken.  And I’m okay with that.

Wishing You an Intentional New Year

Dear friends,

As the darkest day of the year approaches, I find myself looking forward to a new year filled with light and love.   It’s so exciting to face a blank slate of 365 days.  365 new chances.  365 blank pages for me to intentionally live and write.  But I do wonder, how will I choose to live this next year?

I look back at the year that is coming to a close and I think about how I lived the past 365 days.  I wonder if I used this year wisely.  Did I make the most of each day?  Was I helpful?  Was I kind?  Did I make a difference?  Did I live the year with intention?

Because let’s face it…some days, some years, well they can just seem less intentional than others.  Begun without a clear direction of where we’re headed.  And when we head into the unknown without a thought of intention, we typically find ourselves lost somewhere down the road.  For better or worse.

I’ve never been a huge fan of resolutions but I do love the idea of living with intention.

The root word of resolution is resolve, which, by definition, means to decide firmly on a course of action. On the other hand, intend, by definition, means to design something for a particular purpose.

I delight in that thought…to design something for a particular purpose.  It sounds poetic and lofty without the weight of a firm decision.  My mindset morphs from something to struggle beneath to something to strive for just by changing a word.

When we choose to live with intention, we open up a whole new world to ourselves.  No longer do we get to the end of our days wondering where those 24 hours went or look back at the month and rack our brains wondering what we did this month.  When we live with intention, we live in this moment, with purpose.  And living with intention, at its simplest, is being an active participant in our own lives.

It’s about this moment right now and how this moment will set the path for our future days.  While the past tends to influence us, it doesn’t dictate a path for us, so we don’t waste time wallowing.  We are only promised this moment right now and when we live it with intention, that intention helps us stay the path that we so desperately want our lives to follow.   Living intentionally isn’t the same as carpe diem.  Carpe diem is a Latin phrase meaning seize the day, but the meaning is meant to apply to the present only; to not be concerned about the future, whereas living with intention is living with a purpose.  Living with a purpose implies that it isn’t just about the here and now, but it’s about purpose for all things yet to come.  All 365 days yet unlived.

For us, 2019 was a year of intention.  It was 365 days of living with purpose.

365 days full of so many extra-ordinary moments.  Birthdays celebrated.  Teeth lost.  Recitals sung, played and danced.  Stories shared.  Moments lived.

Joseph joined Katie in the world of dance.  Dancing truly brings joy to their hearts and I delight in watching them share the experience together.  Joseph spent a lot of time writing and drawing and dreaming of the day he will become President.  William spent his days swinging his tennis racket and soaking up all the time he could get on the court, stopping only occasionally to create something delicious in the kitchen.  Andrew spent the year still happily marching to the beat of his own drum, some days creating beauty out of clay, other days dreaming up a world of dragons inside his mind.  Katie spent the year conquering her world one determined step at a time, mastering rollerblading, taking off in reading and delighting in finally being able to sing “All I Want for Christmas is my Two Front Teeth” and actually meaning it.

The children and I continued to bask in our educational journey, relishing each book we read, joyfully greeting each bit of nature we met and basking in the various art forms that fed our souls.  We spent many hours soaking up the richness and serenity of the Gulf and many more hours walking trails, discovering flora and fauna we had not yet met (this year we managed to encounter two rattlesnakes along our journeys).  Dax continued to make this amazing life of ours possible through his dedication and hard work with Daxsells, his realty and management company.  On my own journey, I finished my herbal studies through Sage Mountain Herbal Center, started a small herbal consulting business and enrolled myself in the East West School of Planetary Herbology.

In February, we camped beneath the stars where the Hill Country meets West Texas and marveled at the beauty that Texas holds.  In March, we joined my parents in the woods (and again in October and again for Thanksgiving)…us in a tent, Mom and Dad in their 5th wheel.  In June, Dax and I traveled, sans kids, to Fredericksburg and basked in the glory of being alone together and remembering why we fell in love so many years ago.  In September, we traveled, with kids, to California to stand in awe at the base of the Redwoods, climb a volcano and peek into the tidepools of the Pacific Ocean.  All of those journeys gave us a moment to press the reset button.  To remember that this life is precious.

Soon it will be January 1st.  I don’t want 2020 to be the year remembered for the shows I watched or the Facebook feed I scrolled through.  I don’t want to wake up this time next year and wonder where my 365 opportunities disappeared to.  I want this year to be remembered for the intentional moments.  The moments I lived with purpose.  So here’s my wish for you…may you set aside the New Year’s resolutions, may you look around you and delight in the present and may you choose to live these next 365 days with intention. 

Blessings to you and yours from all of us,

Daxson, Stacie, Joey (12), William (10), Andrew (8) and Katie (6)

Chihuahua Syndrome

**This is pulled from the dusty archives (circa 2017)…kind of a second chance for old words…so if it looks familiar, it’s because it is.  Here’s hoping that it inspires you to live a little richer, breathe a little deeper, and appreciate a little more fully.**

You know that whole idea that little dogs that hang out with big dogs think they’re big dogs because they look at the other dogs and just assume they’re the same size?  We call that the Chihuahua Syndrome over here.  And Katie has it.

She hangs out with the boys all week long and while (luckily!) she doesn’t think she’s a boy, she does think she’s much bigger and much more capable than she is.  Case in point:  A few months ago the boys climbed up on top of the air conditioning unit and were jumping off with wild abandon.  Katie followed, thinking she was quite capable of the same dangerous feat and ended up spraining her wrist in the process.

Sometimes it works to her benefit.  She learned to swim at two, well and without fear, because her 4, 6 and 8 year old brothers were doing it.  She “does” school and eagerly “writes” letters alongside the boys.  She’s quite capable of self-care, never realizing that she’s got a two year gap between herself and the next brother.  She demands equality, telling us that she can stay up as late as the boys, she can go on that ride at the fun park.  Doggone it, she can DO whatever the boys can do.  And it’s not about gender to her.  It’s about a fuzzy view of self.

She looks at them as if it’s a mirror that reflects her while completely avoiding the fact that she is, in essence, nothing like them.  She’s her own unique little being and she’s not meant to live her life as a reflection of someone else.

One day recently we were out bike riding and I was explaining to William about Katie and her chihuahua syndrome and, while the essence of the topic completely escaped Katie’s thoughts, it did manage to kick her imagination into gear and she said to me, “I’m the baby chihuahua and you’re the mama chihuahua.”  After which she completely dissolved in a fit of giggles and “arfs.”

But her casual thought got me thinking.  “…you’re the mama chihuahua.”

It’s true.  So true.

I look at other moms and I treat them as a reflection of me and I begin to think that I must do what they do because, after all, I need to keep up with the big dogs.  I click from Pinterest project to Pinterest project and scan beautiful blogs with beautiful stories and I actually allow myself to see me reflected in them.  I meet a mom at playgroup and I see how calm and together she is and I think that’s what I should look like.  I gather with friends and I am sure that their ideas are the answer to everything wrong in my life and I must do things just as they do.  I allow myself to actually think that I must do whatever they do because, doggone it, even if it kills me, I must keep up with them.

I see the perfect cupcakes, the clean house, the adorably dressed children, the impeccable yard and I just keep trying to keep up.

But this is wrong.  All wrong.

Because I am bound to fall and sprain my wrist if I continue to try to keep up with the big dogs.

How can I possibly read that beautiful post that reflects the journey of that family and allow myself to think that perhaps my journey is meant to look just like that?  How can I see those Pinterest projects and think that doing something like that defines me as a mom?  How can I continue to fall into the comparison trap knowing that I’ll always find myself lacking?  How can I keep trying my best to be a big dog when I’m really just a little dog with my own little puppies?

I can try and try all I want but I’m NOT that mom.  I’m me.

See my little family over here.  We’re completely different than that family over there.  Our house looks different.  Our schooling looks different.  Our meals look different.  Our conversations sound different.  Our journey is different.

I am my own unique little being and I’m not meant to live my life as a reflection of someone else.

Cardinal Days

There’s a cardinal outside my window.  I have been hearing his voice each morning for the last few days.  The incessant “pew” of his laser.  This morning I went out to spot him.  And I couldn’t.  Despite his loud red coloring, I failed to see him hidden among the leaves.

I feel like that cardinal some days.

Bright red.  Loud.  Incessantly talking.  Yet still unseen.

I always say that mothering is a hard journey.  We’re surrounded by people all day long yet we feel lonely and unseen.  But I’m beginning to think it’s more than just mothering that’s hard…it’s humaning that’s so hard.  Because despite our need to be seen and heard, we manage to hide ourselves amongst the leaves, afraid of being seen and heard.  It’s a catch 22.

And sometimes we finally summon up the courage and we put ourselves out there, with all of our vulnerability and shame as Brene Brown encourages us to do, and we’re just not noticed.  Like the female cardinal, we blend into our surroundings, overshadowed by the vibrant beings around us.

All of the business of being human and being broken is hard. The need to be seen and heard, acknowledged and loved often overpowers rational thinking.

Sometimes all we can do is get out there, sing our little hearts out and not worry so much about being noticed.

 

A Retreat in my Mind

You know that place that the visualization gurus tell you to find.  Your happy place.  A place where you feel completely relaxed.  A place where you can close your eyes and imagine yourself there.  A place where your hunched up shoulders relax, the tension just melts away and for one brief moment, all is right in the world.

Sometimes those gurus forget to tell you that it’s got to be a place that’s written on your heart…it’s got to be carved into your DNA so you can feel it, smell it, truly be in it.

I have a place like that.  A place I slip away to when the kids are bouncing off the walls, the checkbook is missing and the bills are waiting to be paid.  A place where I feel totally accepted and happy and stress free.  A place that I can smell and see and feel when I close my eyes.

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It is a place carved into my heart.

It’s a retreat of my mind.

But this retreat wasn’t imagined into being.  It was once a real retreat.  A retreat where I walked barefoot and relished the native plants growing wild around me.

A retreat where the sun streamed in the windows and there was no pressure to do or to be, no expectation to meet.

A retreat where my kids’ eyes shone a little brighter with the immersion into a captivating summer world complete with jars of fireflies, bowls of freshly picked ripe black raspberries and adventures exploring a winding creek.

It was a home away from home.  Made possible by the thoughtfulness of one amazing vacation rental owner.

The details were attentive and deliberate.  We felt welcomed in as if the home had been waiting just for us to arrive.  The fluffed pillows, the soaps scented with essential oils, the throw over the back of the couch for the evenings when the sun had set and a chill settled over my feet.

The books on local flora and fauna just waiting to be looked through, the telescope aimed directly between the break in the trees so we could catch glimpses of stars far away.  It was all so incredibly thought-out, as if we were long-awaited guests not simply renters.

But it wasn’t just the property.  We were smack dab in the middle of a luscious valley that sparkled with waterfalls and blossomed with plants brought to the area many years ago by the Shawnee Indians.

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It was an adventure with medicinal flowers and edible plants and zip-lining through the tall trees.  It was quaint restaurants, long bike rides and the library of a nearby university lined with oft-coveted pre-1963 books.

It was lovely.  Absolutely lovely.

There is not a bad memory from that week.  Not a fight or an angry word.  Not a frustrated sigh or an impatient glance.  It was as if time stood still and we all remembered that kindness matters.  It was a moment to snuggle and whisper late into the summer evenings.  It was a moment to read with abandon, a moment to write with heart.  A moment to breathe.

And sometimes that’s what we need.  A moment to breathe.  A moment to re-live the happy moments.  A moment to escape our reality and find ourselves immersed in a peaceful memory.

There is value to visualization.  Value to remembering happy moments.  Value to imagining ourselves somewhere happy.  It gives us a moment to recenter ourselves.

It allows us to remember what that peace feels like and to find it again in this intentional moment.

 

 

 

Intention

I am overly aware of my incessant talking.  Even as I speak, I ask myself to stop.  The words spill forth regardless.  I am good at talking.

I wish I always had the right words to say.  The words to tell the world that nice matters and kindness is king.  But sometimes I don’t.  And so I just keep talking.

About stuff.

Homeschool and cooking and laundry.  The complications of raising children and balancing a marriage.  Living in South  Texas.  Things I know something about.  Because life?  I’m just not an expert on that topic.

Sometimes I try to just be still.  To sit and wait.  To listen.  I’m somewhat terrible at it.  If I stop momentarily then my mind begins racing with ideas of what I should be doing.

I remind myself that stillness and quiet matter.

Because it is in the stillness and quiet that I can connect to my actual thoughts.  Not the thoughts that spill out incessantly but the thoughts that form my soul.

And so I sit.  Quietly.  Often impatiently.  But persistently.  And my soul delights in the stillness.  I breathe in.  I breathe out.  I stop.  It is good.

We’re all busy distracting ourselves.  That’s the reality of a culture that lives with smart phones and overcrowded schedules.

It’s unintentional living at its worst. 

The way we wake up and our feet hit the floor and we’re slammed into the first moment of the day without any quiet, without any stillness.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.  We get to choose.  We can flow along with the mainstream culture and hide in busy, distracted ways from the thoughts that connect us to being human or we can choose to stop.  Breathe.  Be still.

It only takes intention.

Vision and Action make Little Dreams Come True

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There is a quote I like from Joel Barker who is a popular speaker and was the first person to popularize the concept of paradigm shifts for the corporate world.  He said,

“Vision without action is merely a dream.  Action without vision merely passes the time.  Vision with action can change the world.”

The world has plenty of people who are dreamers and plenty of people who take action, but it’s a little more rare to meet people who combine the two and make real changes in the world.  It takes passion and commitment to make a difference and it is a lovely treat when someone like that runs across your path.  It’s inspiration at its finest.

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photo credit: Sebastian Rodriguez

Recently, for the second year in a row, thanks to the vision and action of Dr. Dino Mulic and his wife, Dr. Sangmi Lim, my kids had the opportunity to play on the grand piano on the Performing Arts Center’s stage at Texas A & M University – Corpus Christi and Joseph was invited to sing along with the Corpus Christi Youth Chorale in the final performance of the week.  A & M – CC boasts an incredible performing arts center – one of the top 35 in the United States so this was a pretty big deal.  The stage and piano look massive to me; I can only imagine what it looks like to a child.

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I took William and Joseph on Thursday night to watch Drs. Mulic and Lim perform in a duo concert and listened in awe as their fingers swept over the keys.  After the performance, Joseph commented to Dr. Mulic, “Sometimes I’m nervous when I play because I worry that I’ll make mistakes,”  Dr. Mulic kindly responded, “Oh it’s fine, we’re human.”  Joseph said, “But I didn’t hear you make any.”  Dr. Mulic said, “I actually did.”  Those simple words…”I actually did”…caused a massive shift in my kids’ anxiety about playing onstage.  Dr. Mulic’s words made a huge impact on my boys that day…the struggle to perform is real and Dr. Mulic never made it seem any less.  It’s those kind of people…passionate, kind, determined and driven, yet fully human, with mistakes and struggles, that I want to be around to inspire my kids.

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photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

piano-celebration-week

photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

piano-celebration-week

photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

piano-celebration-week

photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

piano-celebration-week

photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

piano-celebration-week

photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

piano-celebration-week

photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

piano-celebration-week

photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

piano-celebration-week

photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

piano-celebration-week

photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

piano-celebration-week

photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

Saturday morning, my boys donned their suits and Katie dressed in her fanciest dress and we were off for the big performance.  It was such a delightful experience for each of them (even the one that bowed backwards and the other who had a rough time getting started).  Daxson once asked me why the kids have to participate in recitals…this is why.  They were so confident, so proud to play for an audience.  The recital was the culmination of all their time spent studying and practicing.  We are incredibly thankful to our talented (and patient!) piano instructor, Margaret Jonker.  She has been guiding my children in their piano studies for 2 years now (Andrew and Katie for 1 year) and we have loved watching them grow and blossom as musicians.

We returned on Sunday afternoon and received the treat of a lifetime.  8 grand pianos on stage, 8 professional pianists (plus a sextet and a quartet of community musicians who each played a few pieces), the Youth Chorale, and all of our favorite songs from The Sound of Music.  It. was. AMAZING.  I have never had the opportunity to hear multiple pianos played at once…when I closed my eyes, I swore the music was being made by more than just pianos!

Joseph joined the Corpus Christi Youth Chorale this last fall.  This is the first city-wide youth choir Corpus Christi has ever had and it is directed by the talented Nan Borden along with Lorri Dow, Alexis Garcia, Katie King and Nick Lopez.  Joseph was a bit hesitant to join, as he didn’t know many people in it, but this has turned out to be a highlight of his year.  He loves all of his directors and he LOVES singing (as is evident in the performance).

piano-celebration-week

photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

piano-celebration-week

photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

piano-celebration-week

photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

piano-celebration-week

photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

piano-celebration-week

photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

piano-celebration-week

photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

The most remarkable thing about this entire celebration was the level of passion that was present.  From our piano instructor and choir directors to the founders of the program, the center hummed with passion and enthusiasm.  Sebastian Rodriguez, a music student at A & M, did an amazing job with the photography and Matt Perez, owner of The Piano Gallery, was kind enough to lend the celebration all of the beautiful pianos that you see pictured.

Next year, 2020, Piano Celebration Week is scheduled for March 27th thru April 4th.  We already have our calendar marked…won’t you please mark yours, too?  And if you believe in the vision and actions of Drs. Mulic and Sim, please consider making a donation by contacting Dr. Mulic at dino.mulic@tamucc.edu.

A Glorious New Year Awaits

Yesterday was New Year’s Eve.  I had planned to sit down and reflect on the year that was and the year that is to come.  Instead I spent the day on the couch shielding my eyes from light and trying to block out the noise of my rambunctious children while I nursed myself back to health from an annoying virus.

I thought about the day.  It had been awful…not just because I felt miserable but because I let my misery drive my actions.  I had barked at my kids, shooed them away, and tried my best to ignore them.

Some days are like that.  There are good days and bad days and days in between.  There are days we reflect on as we lay in bed at night and wish we had done everything differently; there are days we look back upon with joy and gratitude; there are days that thankfully end when our heads hit the pillows; there are days that drag into the next.  There are wasted days and thoughtfully spent days.  Joyful days and sorrowful days.

Years can be that way, too.

Some years are amazing; some are rough.  Some start out rough and end beautifully.  Some years we claim to be our best ever while other years passed by uneventfully marked, but no less lived.

But the beauty is that just as each new day offers a new beginning, so does a new year. The new year brings us each a gift…a book with our name on the cover, followed by 365 pages.  365 blank pages just waiting to be filled by the way we choose to live.  365 opportunities.  365 pages just waiting to be written.

Some days, some years, they just seem less intentional.  Begun without a clear direction of where we’re headed.

I’ve never been a huge fan of resolutions but I do love the idea of living with intention.

The root word of resolution is resolve, which, by definition, means to decide firmly on a course of action. On the other hand, intend, by definition, means to design something for a particular purpose.

I delight in that thought…to design something for a particular purpose.  It sounds poetic and lofty without the weight of a firm decision.  My mindset morphs from something to struggle beneath to something to strive for just by changing a word.

When we choose to live with intention, we open up a whole new world to ourselves.  No longer do we get to the end of our days wondering where those 24 hours went or look back at the month and rack our brains wondering what we did this month.  When we live with intention, we live in this moment, with purpose.  And living with intention, at its simplest, is being an active participant in our own lives.

It’s about this moment right now and how this moment will set the path for our future days.  While the past tends to influence us, it doesn’t dictate a path for us, so don’t waste time wallowing.  We are only promised this moment right now and when we live it with intention, that intention helps us stay the path that we so desperately want our lives to follow.   Living intentionally isn’t the same as carpe diem.  Carpe diem is a Latin phrase meaning seize the day, but the meaning is meant to apply to the present only; to not be concerned about the future, whereas living with intention is living with a purpose.  Living with a purpose implies that it isn’t just about the here and now, but it’s about purpose for all things yet to come.  All 365 days yet unlived.

It’s January 1st.  I’ve managed to do the dishes, wash the clothes and take a nap.  I still feel miserable.  This certainly isn’t how I wanted to write the first day of 2019, but there’s still something intentional about using this time wisely, both to heal and to think.  I don’t want 2019 to be the year remembered for the shows I watched or the Facebook feed I scrolled through.  I don’t want to wake up this time next year and wonder where my 365 opportunities disappeared to.  I want this year to be remembered for the intentional moments.  The moments I lived with purpose.  What are your intentions for 2019?

Broken but Sorted

I once saw an Instagram post where the author implored her readers to allow their children to grieve. They had recently lost  a pet and she was allowing them the space to honor that loss.   I almost flicked right past it but instead I found myself just staring, reflecting on how we all need to be allowed time to grieve.  Not just for the obvious moments like death, but for all the changes that come our way…the big, the small, and the moments in between.

This life is ever-changing and sometimes, to appreciate this moment, we have to stop and grieve the loss of what we loved, what we hoped for, and what we held close to us…no matter how small the loss may be perceived by the world around us.

This time last year I was broken.  I was pregnant for the second time since Katie and there was no heartbeat.  Hope died with the 3rd ultrasound and I wept with the love only a mom can feel.  My heart was sad.  My kids were sad.  The days were dark, both literally and figuratively, and I wanted nothing more than to crawl into bed, pull the covers over my head and sleep the winter away.  But I pressed on.  I did not pause.

I dealt with the drama of knowing the baby was no longer viable but waiting for that sweet little soul to pass (all through the holidays) along with a trip to the ER for excessive bleeding in the midst of all the loss.  By the time that baby finally passed, school had started back up along with all of the extra-curricular activities and I did not pause.

I listened to my children, disappointed with the loss, scared that maybe we’d never be given the opportunity again.  They cried, they poured out their vulnerable little hearts and I stood strong.  I let them grieve.  But I did not.

Until I finally did.

Because you just can’t move forward when you haven’t accepted the past.

Because grieving is the balm that heals the soul.  It’s intentional.  It’s important.  It’s hope wrapped up with trust and love and vulnerability laid bare.

Because to allow myself to grieve allowed me to finally accept what was.  What is.  What may never be.

I was broken for a long time this year.  Without even realizing how broken I was.  I was sad and unsorted and not myself.  I stopped writing, I stopped thinking, I stopped hoping.  Until I grieved.  In my own ways, in my own time, in my own little corner of the world.  I settled my unsettled feelings and allowed myself to wallow in my sadness.  And only then did I begin to heal.

We laid that little baby to rest alongside my other little souls waiting in heaven, right beside my sister’s little babies and there was peace in my soul.  A peace that only comes from accepting what is.

A year ago I was broken, but now I’m sorted.

Fed by Bread: Intentionally Making a Difference {One Baked Good at a Time}

There are the people that talk and the people that do.

You know what I’m referring to, right?  I’m sure you’ve met folks of both kinds.  There are the people that dream big and talk big and make big plans and have a vision but somewhere along the way, they get lost in all the details of pulling it off.

And then there are the people that dream big and they just do it.  They jump in with intention and nothing stops them.  They’re persistent and passionate and unstoppable.

Those are the people that inspire me….the people that DO.

Take for instance, Hollie.  Her delicious line of bread and baked goods does more than put food on the table for the folks that purchase it.   “A South Texas bakery nourishing African youth,” is the opening line on her website.  And while that is exactly what she does, it’s about more than just food for Hollie.  It’s about relationships.

Born and bred on an Oklahoma wheat farm, making bread is just genetically programmed into Hollie’s hands.  So after traveling internationally throughout high school and college and witnessing poverty and its effects on women and children, Hollie knew that she wanted to do something that would give the people she had met through her travels a chance to break the cycle of poverty.  When the time came and she felt a calling to reach out and help with the world food crisis, it seemed only natural that she would do what she knew how to do: bake.

In his book Start Something that Matters, a book that inspired Hollie, Blake Mycoskie says, “Love your work, work for what you love, and change the world—all at the same time.”  And that is EXACTLY what Hollie began doing in 2009.

Fed by Bread began in Hollie’s own kitchen in 2009 (when she was 7 months pregnant!).  Folks began to spread the word about this bakery with a mission and a grassroots movement was born.  After a few years of using the proceeds from her baked goods to sponsor children with companies like Compassion and World Vision, she knew it was time to form a relationship on a deeper level with a company that shared her vision.

Enter Africa New Life, a ministry that “exists to transform lives and communities through Preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ and Acts of Compassion.”  Africa New Life focuses their ministry on Rwanda, a country forever changed in 1994 by the Rwandan ethnic genocide that killed more than 800,000 people.  Hollie crossed paths with Africa New Life in 2014 and immediately felt that this was what she had been looking for.  She began to send the bulk of her Fed by Bread proceeds to them (with a small amount reserved for the children she sponsors through Compassion and World Vision).

That same year, Hollie was able to visit the village of Kageyo in Rwanda and actually meet the people behind Africa New Life along with the children that were benefiting from her baked goods.  She was met with an overwhelming display of gratitude and her heart was full.

She knew at that moment, without a doubt, that what she set out to do was truly being accomplished.  Her intention to feed the hungry and break the cycle of poverty was being accomplished, one baked good at a time.

Today Hollie enters the commercial kitchen at Annapolis Christian Academy where she does her baking and sets about her tasks with intention.  While her hands are immersed in dough, her heart is immersed in thoughts of the children this dough will provide for.  She has started something that matters.

It’s not just a bakery, it’s Intentional nourishment with a purpose.

*You can support Hollie in her mission by ordering online and either picking up goods locally or having them shipped to your door.  While most items are intended for local pickup, she has a selection of baked goods that can be shipped.  Regardless of whether you pick-up or have it shipped, I promise her baked goods will make your breakfast table a happier place.  Plus knowing you’ve spent your money to make a difference is an intentional thought all of its own.*

**All photos are courtesy of Kristine Endsley**