Learning to Lead

Hello my lovers of caffeine!

Mom and I had a fabulous time in Waco, TX visiting the silos! Everything was so pretty and there were LOTS of places for fun blog Photos!! This was taken at the bakery and those sweet treats were worth every single calorie.

Today I’m coming at you live from work in one of my favorite spots! Don’t worry, I’m on lunch. I do not get paid to ramble about my feelings, not yet anyways. 🙂

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I am on coffee cup number THREE and enjoying this lovely view of Fort Smith. This week I have been thinking a lot about what it means to be a leader.

What comes to mind when you hear the word leadership? Is it a person? Your role at work? Yourself? Do you think leaders are only those who are above you?

In my 27 years of living I have been blessed with amazing leaders and blessed with leaders who have taught me how not to lead. In my early 20’s I worked at restaurants and, if you have ever experienced being “in the weeds” I know you can relate completely. The leadership I experienced during those 6 years was, well, not the best.

As people, I loved them (My managers). As leaders, they fell short. If you’d asked me 6 years ago what leadership meant to me I wouldn’t know what to say? I was not educated in the field nor had I ever been in a leadership position myself. Don’t get me wrong, I had many influential persons in my life. But at the time I only considered leadership someone who was in a management position.

As some of you may know I am now in a leadership degree and have acquired a wealth of knowledge on the subject. And yet at times I still doubt myself and my leadership abilities. This week I have realized being a leader is more than your position at work. More than the title of your degree. Being a leader is your willingness to place others before yourself, willingness to risk everything you know for the greater good. The ability to be positive even when it all goes to crap.

And it will all, at some point, go to crap..

This semester in particular I feel as if we have truly started to dive into leadership at its core. I have been reading books from some of the world’s top leaders and learning the psychology behind what goes into being a good leader. And yet, sometimes I look around at humans who have had some of the same education and wonder…DID YOU EVEN READ THE MATERIAL? I read discuss posts from my fellow class mates and think, did they read the book or just copy down sentences from various pages? Meanwhile, I’m over here, fingers on fire…BEGGING someone to question my opinions on the topic.

There is no shame in the sentence game…I’m guilty. But when it comes to material that is the core of the degree you are working so hard at and paying for, wouldn’t you want to know and embrace its value?

In one class in particular we have been tasked with reading three book and writing reports on them. This is the only assignments of the class and even though reading three books in a 16 weeks course is sometimes stressful, I have enjoyed this class immensely. We can all agree it’s nice when we realize the money we are spending to acquire knowledge is worth it.

I do not consider myself an expert on leadership, at least not yet. But what I do have is experience with leaders good and bad and the motivation to become a great one. During my research, there have been THREE traits I have noticed leaders of high positions seem to always have.

  1. Leaders Take Risks.                                                                                                                   In Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In, She wrote about the time she was offered a position at Google as a talent manager. (Keep in mind this was before Google was a thing. Before everyone used Google as a verb, “I googled it.” We’ve all done it.) Sheryl was unsure if this was the right career move. She had been offered positions as a CEO for other company’s and Googles offer was not that. She went in to have a meeting with the man who was offering her the job and he said something to her that has never left my mind. “When you are offered a seat on a rocket ship, you don’t ask what seat. You get on.” Sheryl took that Job, eventually became CEO of Google and is now CEO of Facebook. Sheryl took a chance on something even though at the time it wasn’t the most obvious choice. Leaders take risks.
  2. Leaders Allow Themselves To Be Lead.                                                                                As I had mentioned before when I was in my early 20’s I worked in restaurants. Most of the leadership I experienced during these times were not ideal. Corruption, lies, manipulation were all traits I expected leaders to have. I knew no different. In Simon Sinek’s book Leaders Eat Last, one of the chapters is titled, Employees are People Too. The chapter discusses how those in leadership positions have a responsibility to their employees, a responsibility to treat them with respect. This chapter reminded me of a time I was a bartender for a TGI Fridays. The owner was wanting to make some changes to the bar and because of that we had extra work placed on us. One morning while I was opening the bar he had come to me and ask why XYZ wasn’t completed. Frustrated I told him because it simply wasn’t possible with the amount of time we were given. I do not remember what I said exactly but I can tell you it was not in the most respectful tone. He looked at me and said “You’re right”. I was floored. I just let him have it and he agreed. In this moment he allowed himself to be led by an employee. In that moment by not getting frustrated with me and listening to what I had to say and agreeing, he taught me a valuable lesson. He taught me how to explain my frustrations without being frustrated. He taught me that good leaders will listen. Although my time in the serving industry was not always pleasant I will always remember this moment. He may not have been my favorite leader, but he still in that moment taught me how to lead. Great leaders WILL allow themselves to be lead.
  3. Leaders Fight for You.                                                                                                                There was a time in my life I was faced with insecure leaders. I was placed in a position where I felt powerless and less than. In my studies I learn of leaders who tear down others so they won’t be passed over. Leaders with insecurities they project on their employees.  It’s a hard position to be in. And even harder when you don’t dislike the person who projecting these feelings on you. I have often told myself NO. Becoming educated in this field has only confirmed my belief. I was not the problem. But I do intend on being the solution. Ladies, DO NOT allow someone to make you feel like you are less than your worth. Let me be clear, take criticism. That is how you grow. You will know the difference between someone who wants to help grow you vs someone one who want to squish you. I was being squished. I don’t dislike the leaders who placed me in these positions. I learned many things from them and even in some way, respected them. But the number one take away I had was, I do not EVER want to make someone feel the way I have. I will work 100x harder to never allow another human to feel anything less than motivation in my presence. I now have a job with leaders who are constantly growing me. Constantly telling me they will fight for me (Those exact words). Telling me they are growing me for something bigger. To them, this is just their job. To me it’s a game changer and a blessing I never knew I needed. If you are in a position with a leader who is not fighting for you, become the leader who will fight for others. 

“Leadership is a sacrifice. Leadership is a choice it is not a right.” -Simon Sinek.

I firmly agree with this and I feel like any good leader would back me up. What I’ve started to realize is that we all have the potential to be a leader. It doesn’t stop at work and at work it does not begin with a manager/supervisor position.

If you have been with a company for years and sit next to someone who has only been there for a few months, YOU have the potential to be a leader. If you are a member of an organization that has new members join every year, YOU have the potential to be a leader. If you are a parent, YOU are a leader. If you are a well-known member of the community, YOU are a leader. 

I have met so many people in my life who have the potential to be amazing leaders. But they know the burden and decide it’s not for them. This used to confuse me. Especially with my dad. He was an amazing leader, but never liked to lead. Well, whether he liked it or not, he was a leader. At his retirement party his former chief said “if everyone was a Mike, we would not need supervisors”. At his funeral his Sargent said, “I may have been his Sargent, but he was my leader.” What a legacy he led. He gave me clear amazing foot steps to follow.

I know I have much more to learn when it comes to leadership. I feel so blessed to be where I am today. I feel like God has always been preparing me to be a leader. Helping others has always been close to my heart. I take no experience good or bad for granted. I thank him daily for the opportunities to learn and grow.

I hope that everyone reading this thought of ways they can become a better leader. I promise there are areas in your life where others need your leadership. There are humans of all ages who need to be held to a higher standard and shown what true leadership can do for their lives.

So, here’s to everyone who’s growing better humans. Here’s to the hustlers teaching us to do the same! Here’s to the mistakes others make, teaching us a lesson. Here’s to the mistakes WE make, and deciding to use them to grow.

I hope everyone has an awesome weekend and finds a way to lead! I know I will be volunteering at a Junior League event this weekend learning how to lead from some amazing women in our community!!

Until next time my caffeine Queens!

XOXO

 

Spring is Blooming

Hello! Happy Friday and welcome to spring!

Mom and I are on our way to Waco TX this morning to visit Magnolia Market!! If you don’t know, this is the holy grail to us creatives! We will emerge ourselves in all things Chip and Joanna Gains! The drive is of course complete with our cups of coffee!


Spring is my favorite time of year! Its when the flowers are blooming and I get sinus infections. It when we have that awkward talk in our closets, with ourselves, because its 30 degrees in the morning and 75 in the afternoon. (And you know the conversation I’m talking about. The one where you decide if you want to suffer running into work or suffer running out.) The time of year you plan your shoe choices and hair styles with the weather.

SPRING. Its a love hate relationship. Much like my topic for today’s post.

How many of you have felt like you had so much to do, that you would rather not do it? I feel ya. That grocery list isn’t going to shop itself. Those kids aren’t going to make it to practice without you. Your clients aren’t going to survive if you don’t answer that email at 7:35pm.

I get it and, I feel it too.

There are days my planner is so filled I have no clue how I’m going to do it all.

Let me be completely transparent, I have no kids and I’m not married. Some of you read that and thought, ok? What does she know?

Well I know a crazy busy schedule. That’s what I know.

I cant attest to kids or running a house hold but, I can relate to feeling as if there is simply no time.

I work full time, take 12 hours of online classes, volunteer for a wonderful organization, have an active social life and try to maintain a relationship. Its not raising tiny humans but, its my life and its the season God has placed me in. So often I have felt like I wasn’t allowed to give advice on time management.

Let be real…Have you ever tried to tell a woman who’s been juggling three kids and a job that your life is busier? NO. You don’t. Because you would die the death of a thousand stares.

Where I am now is where God wants me to be. Not married, no kids and BUSY. Why? Because I prayed for this. I prayed for a life that would fill up my cute planners. I prayed for a life so full of accomplishments my parents would be proud. I prayed for a life that was challenging. I prayed for a job that would make me think and give me room to grow.

I prayed for this life. And so did you.

Remember when you wanted a child so badly you cried every time it didn’t happen? Remember when you asked God to being you the perfect husband? Remember when you went happy with your current job and he opened a door for a new one? Or, remember when you decided to go back to school and he paved the way with fresh crisp asphalt?

God does nothing by mistake. And sister, where you are in life is NO mistake. So, how do we do it? How do we accomplish all the things?

Well, I’m no expert but I do have a few solid routines that help me keep track of all the said things.


  • “Baby write this down, take a little note. To remind you in case you didn’t know.” (George Strait. What a human!)

If its not written in my planner, Its not getting done. NO MA’AM. I will forget.  And I will feel bad for it. I write EVERYTHING in my planner. Call her, Order this, change your oil. If it needs to be done, it has been written. This allows you to be able to clear your mind of it. Its written down for two weeks. you will see it when the time comes, now on to more things. Our brains can only take so much Lets give it a rest.

  • And 5, 6, 7, 8.

Have a routine. It takes 30 days to form a habit and 7 days to break one. Having a daily routine and sticking to it will ensure tasks will be done. I know it sounds like forming a routine is only going to be yet another item on your list but, once those 30 days are up it will feel as if its just apart of your life. Like sleeping or brushing your teeth.

  • “That’s It, I’m not going.”

Don’t be afraid to say no! You do not have to agree to everything thrown your way. You can only keep to a schedule if you have the time to keep it. Fill your days with what really matters. This is something I’m having to work on. It’s what every single successful person gives as advice. Learn to say no.

  • On Sunday’s, we take naps.

Every Sunday I do nothing. No homework and I set zero obligations. (besides church) I just let the day be for me. Not everyone can have a full day. I get that. But you can find an hour. An hour to do anything you want to do. Take a bath, read that book you’ve been eyeing for months, binge some Netflix.

Sure, I think about the homework I could be doing but, it will be there Monday. It will ALL be there the next day, at the top of your list of things to do. Might as well take the time to relax and tackle that list with a clear head and a rested body. Nothing is so important it cant wait.


These four things help me tremendously in my every day life. They help me to stay focused and faithful to the life I have been given.

Make no mistake, I faultier and I do it often.

Last week I was looking at all the things I needed to get done for school while being told I was going to train on two more accounts at work (mind you I am still learning my job). I had just signed up to take two summer classes and I started to panic. (Internally of course because, there is no crying in baseball.) Summer classes are accelerated and I’m in my senior year so the classes require more effort then most.

What. Have. I. Done.

Me, being an over achiever, would NEVER turn down an opportunity. Learning is my favorite tool. (Yes, leaning is a tool. You have to choose to learn. Choose to allow yourself to be taught.)

I was suddenly reminded of the time I bought my first cute decorative planner.

y’all, I had no life.

I remember I would get frustrated because I had nothing to write on the pages. I would write anything and EVERYTHING down…Like anything to make my life seem more interesting.

8am. your alarm will go off.

8:10am you will brush your teeth.

Anything ladies.

Now my days are so jam packed I don’t have room to tell myself when to brushing my teeth. I prayed for this. I would ask God to give me a life worth living. Something fulfilling. A life where I was making an impact.

He delivered.

He delivered in a BIG way. As I sat at my desk thinking these thoughts I suddenly became excited.  Excited for the new challenges that were ahead. Excited to dominate them and come out smarter and stronger.

Excited to live the life I payed for.

My job gives me a sense of accomplishment. The Junior League helps me make an impact. And school challenges me.

So many answered prayers.

I once had a friend tell me that perception is everything. How we preceve a moment is ours and ours alone. No one can tell you how you feel is wrong. I think of that often. I feel as if God has been redirecting my perception.

Helping me to see all the amazing gifts he has given me in the middle of chaos.

Its a proven fact that when we change our attitude, change how we choose to see things, our whole world changes. We are happier, more fulfilled and at peace.

That’s the wonderful thing about being a child of God. His grace never runs out. His blessings keep appearing. Right when you need them most, when you don’t deserve them, and when your concealing a mini panic attack trying to figure out what the heck your professor means with their “feedback” notes.

Sometimes I like to imagine God grabbing my shoulders, shaking me and saying “Common woman! You asked, I gave it to you, NOW GO LIVE IT.”

I say all of this in hopes that you thought of something in your life that stresses you out. In hopes that you now remember the day you prayed for it. In hopes that when you go to bed tonight instead of asking God for something, you’ll thank him instead.

I know my prayer is always, “Thank you for the privilege to earn an education, thank you for parents who love and support me, thank you for the job I get to work.” Every night I start my prayer with thanks.

My life is full of possibilities I prayed for. I won’t always be positive in situations. I won’t always see the good. But, I know God will always be right beside me. Grabbing my shoulders, shaking them silly and reminding me that I asked for this.

Answered prayers can be a love hate relationship. Much like spring. But like spring, they bring a beautiful and blooming life.

 

Positively Inspiring

Happy International Women’s day!

A woman is like a tea bag – you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.

-Eleanor Roosevelt

Learning from other women, encouraging other women and growing other women is SO important! This past year I have started to dig into what makes an amazing woman? What traits do they possess? What are their daily routines? How did they get to where they are? I have a few women that I follow closely and have truly inspired me to become the best I can be. And since it’s a day dedicated to women I thought I would share a few inspirational women in my life and how they motivate me!

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First Is Mrs. Rachel Hollis! If you haven’t heard she just release her SECOND book, Girl, Stop Apologizing. I think we can all agree as women we need to stop apologizing and start owning who we are. Or as Hollis says “I refuse to live as half of myself because other people can’t handle all of me.”  I haven’t yet dove into her new book but, I have no doubt it will be amazing!

Rachel’s first book, Girl, Wash your Face was eye opening and is one of the reasons I started this blog.  Rachel has taken over social media and filled it with a positive mind frame. Asking questions and making statements on subjects we should all be thinking/talking about.

We need more women in the world like her. Not afraid to put herself out there and say things how they really are. In July I will attend her three day conference called RISE and I can hardly contain my excitement!!!! Three days filled with motivation, positive thinking all mixed with a little faith and a dance party to end it all!

One of the reasons I am drawn to Rachel is her no nonsense attitude. She is the voice of reason in my head when I feel like sleeping in instead of going to the gym. She is the voice telling me to STOP waiting for someone else to justify my dreams!!! She is incredibly inspirational and worth every second of your time!

If you haven’t somehow heard of this woman you can find her on social media (@mrsrachelhollis), pick up one of her books any place they are sold, or check out her podcast called RISE. 

jenna

Next is none other than Jenna Kutcher. I first discovered Jenna through a podcast by…you guessed it, Rachel Hollis. She is an extraordinary woman with an amazing testimony. She worked in the corporate world for a short time and realized it wasn’t for her. She quit her job and started on the entrepreneur journey. She was of course successful and since has become a business gooroo. (No clue if that’s how you spell it, but that’s what we’re going with.)

What I love about Jenna is her amazing attitude. She is so down to earth and keeps it real. I mentioned above she has an amazing testimony and its true. I won’t tell you here because it’s her story, not mine. But, mainly I want you to look her up and discover how amazing she is for yourself! She has a Podcast called Goal Digger and you will find all things business and life on there.

If you have been thinking of starting a small business, joining a direct sales group or just need some life coaching, GOAL DIGGER is the podcast for you! You can also find her on Instagram, username @jennakutcher. 

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This next woman is new to my social media bedtime stocking but trust me, she is worthy. Mrs. Lindsey Meek. I stumbled on Lindsey’s Instagram by accident one day and have been hooked since. She is so sweet and has the best fashion ideas! She’s not afraid to mix prints and puts different items together that I never would have thought of! She also loves a good deal and ALWAYS updates followers when well liked items are on sale or back in stock. She’s not afraid to share her faith and like me she’s a lover of shoes :).
I don’t know about you but I’m a baller on a budget and one of the reasons I was drawn to Lindsey was how she styled the same clothing items in different ways. She once had a post of a snake skin dress and she styled it FOUR ways!!!! FOUR! I love that! And when I started to dig into her posts I was able to restyle a lot of my closet!!
She’s currently trying to reach 10,000 followers on Instagram to achieve the swipe up tool. WE NEED THIS TOOL. It’s so much easier to fulfill my shopping addiction with a swipe up option.

If you aren’t already following her PLEASE pop on over and take a look at what she has to offer! (@shoplindsey)

amy

Who here listens to the Bobby Bones show?? Well I’ve been a fan for a while, especially of his co-host Amy Brown! Her corky personality always has me laughing during my morning routine. Amy does many amazing things but what I love about her most is her joy.

Her mom fought cancer and like my dad found joy in an un-joyful situation. Amy’s stories have helped my cope with watching my dad fight cancer and then losing him. Because of her mom’s courage and determination to find joy in her cancer journey, Amy and a friend started a Pimping Joy clothing line at theshopforward.com. All proceeds go to support various disaster reliefs, children’s hospitals, military families and many more.

She is a mother of two Haitian children who have been here a little over a year. She is open about her adoption journey and the struggles and blessings that come with raising children from a foreign country. One of the reasons I love Amy is the way she sees the good in EVERYTHING.

Whether she is co-hosting with Bones, on her 4 Things podcast or sharing videos of her kids dancing on Instagram, she is an inspiration, she is fabulous, she is strong and she is all the things! Find her on Instagram @radioamy

You all know the next group, you’ve heard me talk about them many times…Ladies, put your hands together for…..THE GIRL GANG.

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What can I say about these women that I haven’t already? They inspire me daily and support me endlessly. I thank God every night for giving me a group of women who never leave my side. During the hardest times in my life they were there. Crying with me, Laughing with me and lifting me up. Some of my best memories are with these ladies and I can’t believe I get to do life with them!

They push me to be better, they force me to go out when I feel like staying in, they are my mentors, and they are my Girl Gang.

Last, but certainly not least is my mom. I couldn’t write a blog about inspirational women without a shout out to the best of the best! She is tough, stubborn, hardworking and always throwing things away! (No, seriously….sometimes it’s a problem lol)

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She has taught me many lessons but my favorite will always be how to be a Godly wife. When dad got sick mom imminently went into care giver mode and for two years did nothing but that. She was the woman behind all the paid bills, all the late nights and all the hard times.

She was the one dealing with dad when he wasn’t exactly pleasant and, she didn’t complain she was the one on the phone with insurance company’s arguing costs, and she didn’t complain. She was the one taking off work and traveling for doctor’s appointment sometimes for weeks at a time, and she didn’t complain. And now she is the one who lost a husband, and she STILL doesn’t complain.

She is strong, she is beautiful, and she is my mom. 

I cannot stress enough how important it is to inspire the women around us! I have an assignment for you, the next time you are at the grocery store or shopping in town and you see a woman who looks defeated tell her she’s doing great. Tell her she looks amazing, tell her anything that will lift her spirits.

I try to do this daily. I tell a fellow co-worker she looks nice. I text a friend who is on my mind and tell them I’m praying for them. You have no idea how much you could impact someone’s life.

Take Rachel, Jenna, Amy and Lindsey for example, when they started their careers do you think they knew how many they would reach? NO! How could they? But they put themselves out there and pressured a career motivating, inspiring and teaching others.

What if we all put out a little more positivity? Who would we inspire? Who would we become? I don’t know about you but, I’m going to find out!

  

A Foreign Peace.

There are moments we cant afford to miss…the heart-seeking moments that defy questions, cancel doubts, and defeat fear. The ways God shows His attentiveness in breathtaking, personal exchanges. I see you-I know you-I hear you.

Its been forever and a day since I have posted. I’ve been struggling to find words worthy enough to share. When I last wrote I was about to embark on a new journey in my life. And although I have, I have also entered into a foreign world.

So much has happened since my last blog, and I will write about those moments. But this one is for is for my Dad.

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In the Summer of 2016 I was getting ready to work a shift at Chilis. I had just applied to the Dental Hygiene program at the University of Fort Smith Arkansas and I was so close to kissing that restaurant life goodbye. 

Dad had been having a few health issues and was having tests ran. No big deal, just procedure. Before I could leave the house that day I would get a call that would change my life forever. His health problems? Cancer.

The worst word and the worst diagnoses. 

How could the strongest man I know have cancer? Healthy people don’t get cancer! I would quickly learn that cancer knows no bounds and does not discriminate. I got in my car, drove to work and completed my shift.

I cried the whole time, but I was there.

A few days later I got my rejection letter from the Hygiene school. Lets just keep piling on  the crap….because dads cancer wasn’t bad enough news, lets add not being able to finish my degree! I didn’t know it at the time but, that rejection letter was one of the best I could have received. I had no idea how I was going to get through all of this. No idea what God had in-store for me. I wasn’t sure of much but, I was sure of three things;

  1. Dad has cancer.
  2. I was not going to dental hygiene school.
  3. And now, more than ever, I needed my faith.

During this time I thought, I will either run from God or run to Him. Thankfully, I had a father who taught me well. I ran to Him. The next months would be filled with questions, appointments and a diagnoses fit for a man who truly was one in a million. Dads cancer was rare. So rare that only FIVE doctors in the entire US could treat it. Our wonderful surgeon researched these doctors and landed on two choices. One in Omaha Nebraska and the Other in Pennsylvania. We settled on Nebraska since it was closer.

Although Nebraska holds fun memories, the Dr did nothing for us but pump dad full of chemo for six months and send him home with no hope.

We felt defeated, but our God is mighty. 

If you recall I mentioned a doctor in Pennsylvania. (of course you do..it was only a few sentences ago) Pennsylvania is far, yes! But, wouldn’t it be great if that doctor transferred to Tulsa? And started working at one of the best cancer research hospitals only one and a half hours away from our house?

I sure think so! God did too! 

Dr P (that’s what I call him because I can barley pronounce his name, let alone spell it.) is an extraordinary and humble man. If he were reading this now he would undoubtedly be shaking his head saying something like “I’m not that great,” But he is! Dr P took on dads case and said, “I think I can help you Michael”. I can still hear the hope in dads voice as he told this story.

If nothing else, my dad was a hopeful and faithful man.

The next two years would give dad a testimony worthy only of a man who could beat all odds. Two years of a community, friends and family who would step up and help us along this journey. Two years with a man who NEVER gave up and even in the worst of days would praise God and speak of his blessings.

God is good all the time and all the time God is good, he would say this often and he would say it proudly. 

Dads testimony is extraordinary but not what I’m sharing today. 648 words in your probably thinking, ok? What are you sharing? Well if you follow any of my blogs you know I ramble for a moment and finally land on a point.

What I want to discuss here is Peace. Peace and understanding. 

Dad passed away February 14, 2019 almost two weeks ago today. The days have seemed longer and my world a little smaller. Yet I still feel happiness. How? Why? For the last few days I have not been able to figure out this feeling of…ok-ness. (yes, I’m aware its not a word. No, I don’t care.) I find myself feeling guilty and selfish. My dad is gone and I’m laughing with my friends. My dad is gone and I’m ready to go back to work. My dad is gone and I’m looking forward to my future.

Some of you are reading this and thinking, “Your doing well, that’s a good thing!” But in my mind I should be so stricken with grief I cant move out of bed. Why am I ok? If you asks those closest to me they would tell you because I’m strong. And as much as I love them for thinking that of me, its honestly made this process harder. Makes me feel like I should keep just being strong. Keep it all in. Keep telling myself “don’t you dare break down”.

 So here I am, “strong”.

It wasn’t until I listened to a podcast of a man who lost his wife and daughter to a car accident and then lost one of his sons to brain cancer that I really started to get it. I was enjoying this mans words and all the amazing things he went on to do even after all of his losses until, he said a phrase that would make me cringe. “I’m still not sure if there is even a real God”. WHAT!?!? This man had me sucked into his words for the last hour!! Talking about faith and how to over come hardship AND HE SAYS THAT!

If this were a boxing match and I was team believer and him team doubter….boy I would be throwing punches so fast and so hard you’d think I was Muhammad Ali!

How could he say all of those things and still not believe there is a God. In the mist of my internal ranting I realized I was doing the same thing. Not questioning whether or not there is a God, Oh no! I have too many testimonies for that. But I was denying and questioning a gift from God.

Philippians 4:7 tells us; and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 

Who am I to question the strength God has given me?

As I continue in these days I’ve decided to start telling myself “You ARE strong.” When I feel doubt I will think of this verse. I will thank God for his grace and his peace. Maybe we are not suppose to understand the peace God gives us. But instead use it to spread more peace to those in need. Many times I would hear people say “Why Mike?” Why would God choose a faithful and wonderful man to endure this journey?

The key word here is faith. And I’ve known the answer all along.

God took a man who was well loved and respected in every area in his life. He chose a man He knew would use his cancer in a way to lead others. I have experienced many stages of grief but anger was never one of them. How could I be angry when God was blessing us at every turn? So now, how can I feel guilty when my “ok-ness” is a gift from God?

I hope I never stop being strong. I hope others never stop telling me that I am. And I hope I can lead as an example for others who sometimes feel weak. 

Maybe the question is not “why am I ok?” But instead, “God, what do you want me to do with the ok-ness you have given me? How can I use this to help those around me?” I will forever miss my father. And I’m sure I have not shed my last tear for his earthly presence. If you have ever experienced the loss of a loved one I hope you read this and thought of them fondly. I hope you found peace in my discovery. But most of all I hope you realized you are not alone.

Many times I have told myself, How lucky am I to have a dad so wonderful, It hurts so much to loose him.

He was wonderful and I still feel some hurt but, he is not lost. In fact, I can tell you exactly where he is. Walking the streets of Gold, Fishing in a lake filled with bass and [Hopefully] explaining to the Lord just how big my closet needs to be :).

He is not here, but he is not lost.

At the beginning of this journey I was sure of three things. I am still sure of those three things and by the grace of God can add one more.

  1. Dad HAD cancer. -He is now healed!-
  2. I’m still not going to dental hygiene school. But I am graduating college in December!
  3. I still more than ever need my faith.
  4.  And last but certainly not least, I have peace.

dad

 

Thankful, Grateful, Blessed

witherspoon

Does anyone else love Reese Witherspoon?? I do! Shes fabulous! Thankful for her!

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

-Colossians 4:2

Good Morning!

This scripture resonate with anyone else?? I know it does for me! Full disclosure I googled this scripture. I wanted to have a thankful scripture this week and couldn’t think of one so I googled. And low and behold here. it. is. I feel like this Scripture is everything I’ve been writing about.

Take it in and know, no matter whats going on in your life right now, Give thanks.

I hope everyone had a wonderful thanksgiving and ate way to much. My thanksgiving was low key this year. Sometimes families have to split their time and this was that year for us. I still ate all the delicious things and spent it with the people that mean the most.

Black Friday was once again good to me and everyone on my list! I got most of my Christmas shopping done and saved, saved, saved! At least that’s what all the store adds told me. Black Friday is a tradition I look forward to every year. I stock up on all things shoe and makeup!  This year I was on my best behavior and only bought two pairs of shoes. If you ask my boyfriend he would tell you two pairs in one week is insane….But he also thinks gluing the sols back to an old pair of shoes makes them brand new. ( I wish I could add the eye rolling emoji) We could not be more different in the shoe department.

As I was shifting through deals and trying to mark people off my list as quickly as possible, I started to think how Christmas shopping can sometimes be a burden. Every year we stress on what to get who, how much to spend on the whats and the who’s, and when to make time to get the whats for the who’s in our busy schedules.

I am an only child, so Christmas in my house looks like me being spoiled because my dad believes I need the world and like me, mom can not be trusted when it comes to a good deal. (no doubt my favorite quality about them lol) But as I was shopping I couldn’t help but thank how thankful I am to be able to buy for people I love.

What do I mean by this? well on this journey to self discovery we have been working on gratitude. Finding gratitude in all the things. Basically what I talk about in all my blogs. And in the mile long line at JCP, I found it.

This does not mean I think everyone should go over the top with gifts but instead of having the negative feelings we are all so familiar with, lets take a step back and be thankful for those on our list. The most precious gifts I receive are those that make me feel like that person truly knows me. When they take the time to think about where I am in life and gift me accordingly. For example, PENS! I am a student and I lose about 100,000 pens a day. Pens would be a lovely gift. Simple? Yes! But I bet you my bottom dollar when I’m looking for a pen and I find the package I got from Aunt Pam at Christmas, I’M GOING TO THANK THE GOOD LORD FOR AUNT PAM! (I don’t really have an aunt Pam, but if you do maybe she will get you pens!)

While your looking for your who’s I encourage you to look past the dollar amount and look towards the value the gift will bring to their life.

I cannot take full credit for this thought. It was something my boyfriend said that got me thinking. At lunch one day he told me giving gifts based on where people are in their life is his favorite part of Christmas. He takes the time to think of what each person needs or would use the most. I decided I wanted to be that person!

Gifting has always been so exciting for me. I love to see the reactions on peoples faces when they open a gift I have prepared for them. But I do wonder if I am truly thinking about what those people could use the most. This year I am changing my gifting and receiving ways.

I’ve already come up with some fun creative ideas for my girls, something I believe they will appreciate and be able to use!

You guys Christmas is just around the corner and will be here before we know it. I don’t know what your family dynamic looks like, but I do know if you go looking for blessings you WILL find them. EVERY TIME!

I know because I have found myself happier in moments of sadness. I have been able to push life’s obstacles aside and just be present. I’m going to say this in every blog, do I still get sad and down? 100%. Do I still feel overwhelmed at times? 100%. I am human. These feelings will still come over me. But the past few weeks have been so nice. I don’t feel the black cloud over my head every day. I have these moments of goofy-ness or singing in my car and I think “oh, this is nice. This is me again.”

LOOK FOR THOSE BLESSINGS! Rachel Hollis was right. ‘Its impossible to live in a state of anxiety when you are feeling grateful.” I’m starting to realize that is true.

OH MY!! I almost forgot, Last night was friends giving!

friends giving

It was once again filled with food, laughs and girl pictures! This year by a steaming fire place, or a TV version. I made Tiny apple pies and everyone loved them! My being a better baker goal is going quite well! I made cookies earlier this week and they were the perfect about of chewy! I don’t want to toot my own horn but I am two for two this holiday season when it comes to desserts.

apple pie

Mom has put the snowmen out and our tree is up! I’m ready to get this holiday season started!!!

This is all the ramblings I have for you this week! I hope your weekend is filled with holiday leftovers and some relaxing before we head back to work! I’m off to organize my shoe closet and read about some whiskey in a tea cup!

XoXo

-Letha

Reflection

IM BACKKKKKKK!

mural

Here is a picture of my looking over my shoulder nonchalantly in front of a mural Downtown Fort Smith.

After a small break, I am here typing my two tiny broke finger nails off! I broke TWO nails this week, but thankfully they were the same nail on each hand so it works.

Last night me and Angela enjoyed a ladies night with good conversation and an AMAZING apple salad. LITERALLY apples sliced with cheese and lemon juice…I cant tell you ho much I wanna eat that again. As we were talking she said “This is a time of year I like to reflect.” I thought HOT DOG we are totally friends because that’s EXACTLY what my blog is going to be about this week! reflection. Memories if you will.

memories

If you cant hear this Picture and see the bubbles coming out of his mouth…Do a little 90’s movie education and you’ll thank me later.

Before we dive into my reflective ramblings, lets reflect on the past few weeks.

kas wedding

Here comes the bride, all dressed in champagne!! (that was her dress color) Shes a married lady! Her wedding was so perfect and the best reflection of who she is! (I’m going to keep using that word apparently) Halloween themed with a classy fall touch. The day was so exciting! We drank mimosas laughed and looked amazing in our pictures! (seriously tho, my friends are hot!!)

One memory that stands out in my mind, was when we were taking group pictures and Kas placed her head on Austin’s shoulder. It was a moment so sweet and so natural. I cant express the pure happiness I feel watching my friends marry their true love, Someone I know they will share the best life with!

kas wedig

And can we talk about how GORGEOUS she was. OMG A PRINCESS!!!!!! I told all my married friends I want to have pics of them on their wedding days in my home. weird? Maybe, but they just look so perfect and happy! I want to look at those pictures forever!

The cold has set in here in Arkansas and I’m afraid its here to stay. Last weekend I purged my closet and made room for big sweaters and jackets. I have been complaining  about the cold the last couple of days but as I got out last weekend and felt that crisp air, I was reminded of how much Joy this time of year can bring.

And Lets be honest Fall and Winter fashion is the best! I found this amazing leather jacket with lots of colors….its my new best friend. I feel empowered wearing it. Amazing what an outfit can do for your self-esteem.

With cold weather we get Holiday parties!! Me and my girls of course already have holiday plans in motion and first up is friends-giving. Last year our friends-giving was the best time I feel we have ever had. Some of my favorite memories with my friends are gathered around a table sharing a meal. And last year was perfect. There was so much laughter and food. SO. MUCH. FOOD. To avoid having so much food this year, Dani has orchestrated a list. An electrical list at that. (she hosts this event and even sets the table, like we are fancy people…ITS AWESOME) The planner in me LOVES the list to keep track who is bringing what…but I don’t have the heart to tell her we will in fact still end up with SO. MUCH. FOOD. Why? because we cant be trusted when it comes to delicious things. none the less we are becoming more organized! (whoop)

Now that we are all caught up, back to Ladies night with Angela. As we sat there talking and making friends with our server, we started…to reflect. (If this was an old movie I would have looked over my right shoulder longingly into the distance as the screen goes black and white and wrinkles to my thoughts..Imagine this with me)

At the beginning of this year I was happily working as a dental assistant and no desire or thought of leaving the office. My boyfriend was gearing up to start a business with his best friend and I was feeling like I needed something more in my life. Me and my family were gearing up for another major surgery for dad, and I’m still struggling with wanting more. Two of my best friends turned 30, One got married, One celebrated a one year anniversary and stated building a house, One had her first baby ( who I am so obsessed with! She brings so much joy into my life! as well as her mom!), and I’m still feeling like I need more in my life. Notice a pattern?

God has been placing this need for more on my heart for a long time. If you keep up with me, you know God sometimes needs to push me into plans he has for me. (I’m working on faith over fear) But thank the good lord above he never gives up on us and always so faithfully places me right where I know he needs me. I say needs me because I believe God places us in peoples lives because maybe they need something from us, or maybe we need something from them. As followers of christ we go where we are needed, or in my case pushed lol.

As all of these wonderful milestones around me were being reached by the women in my life, It forced me to sit down and think WHAT DO I, ME, LETHA MORGAN STEWART want out of life? And as Angela also said last night “You’ve got to be able to speak your mind for yourself.” Or something along those lines..Maybe not word for word.

Here’s what I came up with.

  1. I want to buy a house and make it my own. Decorating, organizing and remodeling has always been a passion of mine. Me and my dad have spent many Saturday mornings watching Chip and Joanna Gaines tackles the worst homes and make them beautiful again. I WANT TO DO THIS! I want to stop listening to people when they tell me “Its hard to do alone” “Its a lot of work and costs too much money” “do you even know how to do….”.  I have let so many opinions keep me from doing things i have a passion for in the past, but I will not let 2019 be filed with others opinions. I will fix my house, but I can bet money I wont do it completely alone. My support group is amazing and will do anything for pizza and wine :). I love hard work, Its the core of my personality and I’m a savvy shopper. I never take the first price as real…I can always find a better deal, ALWAYS. Lastly, I do not know how to do a lot when it comes to fixing things up but I do know the art of Google and YouTube.
  2. I want to finish school, And I DO NOT want to work in the health field. I know I touched on this in a previous blog, but we are reflecting so stay with me. I cannot stress enough how OKAY it is to change your mind about a career. Its okay to go back to school for something so different. For a long time I stayed where I was because I thought I didn’t have a choice. There is always a choice and its always yours. A little update, I will graduate December 2019 and I start a new Job January 2019 more inline with my new degree! I’m so excited for this new journey I never knew I wanted.
  3. I want to be more educated on worldly issues. As much as I trust friends and family, I want to form my own opinions. Its one thing I’m a little ashamed of, I have never really researched important topics. Things we all need to be educated on. We do after all live in this world.
  4. Number 4 goes with number 3, I want to be able to speak my mind and be able to back up my opinions with cold hard facts!
  5. Faith over Fear. Stop worrying about what i cannot control and focus on what I can. I touch on this in my blog Controlling the uncontrollable, if you haven’t yet read it you should!

Reading this you may be wondering why I’m writing a 2018 reflective blog in November instead of the end of December. The answer is simple, this time of year is blissfully busy and the new year will come faster than we can believe. If we start reflecting on who we have been now we can better know who we want to become in the new year.

  • Did we like ourselves in 2018?
  • Did we overcome something we thought we never would?
  • What can we do to improve ourselves?
  • How can we support and uplift those around us?
  • Who do we want to become?

We have two months left in this year! TAKE ADVANTAGE. Don’t let any moment go unnoticed. No word left unsaid. Play the Michael Buble Christmas album at the highest volume, Be super extra at your holiday party’s and make your family take matching PJ pics! I LOVE THOSE!!! Also stay tuned…me and my friends have started a tradition of holiday pics..last year was onsies..this year will be sooo extra ;).

Whatever your holiday season looks like, live it so extra and so loud! And dont forget to reflect on what this year has brought you, good and bad. In the mist of our struggle we find our hustle! (also from a previous blog titled the Hustle, a fabulous read)

I’m so excited for the weeks to come and even more excited to write about them!

Until next time

XoXo

-Letha

Peacefully Chaotic

Ironically I think embracing chaos might be the path to finding peace.

-Rachel Hollis

Good Morning and welcome to Friday!!!!!

This blog is coming at you from one of my favorite places…On the couch next to my father watching the Andy Griffith Show. Friday mornings are my favorite because I get to spend them with him. My life has been so busy lately I have hardly had the time to slow down. But don’t worry it has been filled with lots of fun and exciting things!

Last night me and a few girls took over a local brewery’s tap room (fort Smith Brew Company) and cleared our minds and lifted our girl Kas up with some yoga. ITS WEDDING WEEKEND FOR HER!!!! I’m so excited to share in this time with her! This week I have come to a couple of realizations, one being that Sometimes God brings distractions into our lives to help us navigate through the tough parts.

Last weekend was just as full with love and laughter as we whisked our bride away for a spa weekend in Hot Springs. First LET. ME. TELL. YOU. The spa experience was one of the best things I have ever done for myself. Two and a half hours of pure relaxation! If you haven’t checked out Hot Springs and all they have to offer, please do!

As I’m reflecting on the weekend My favorite part wasn’t the spa, it wasn’t the wonderful gift baskets that were prepared… it was the conversation. More specifically the conversation that was had by 10 women sitting at a dining room table in a beautifully restored Victorian home.  We talked about everything under the sun ranging from miscarriages, new journeys, crazy memories with one another, and of course our bride to be! I remember sitting at the table for bunch and dinner all weekend and just being so thankful for them and their friendship. I cant even put into words the pure joy I felt.

Friday night was my favorite (besides the spa experience of course), We put on out PJ’s (or if your Maddie..a MOMO….seriously I need a momo), played games, turned on some tunes and danced the week away. We were talking over one another with laughter and no surprise good conversation.

This house was so perfect! It was a Victorian home restored with a little modern charm and a vintage feel. Its name was The Queen Anne Manner and how fitting since our girl is about to marry a King (not a real one his last name is just King…but he is her knight in shinning armor). More than one of the gals had mentioned that they had slept so well that weekend. I couldn’t help but wonder if it was because there is just something about having all of your favorite people under one roof that makes you feel so safe and so at peace.

After the weekend was over and I was back in town, driving home I started thinking about all the things going on in my life. Grief, stress and worry started to set in. Until it hit me….I had not thought about one single life problem all weekend. Not once did I think of school, work, or just the everyday stress I’m dealing with in this season of my life.

I started to cry heavy tear as I thanked God for giving me a weekend filled with pure joy. Something I haven’t felt in a long time. I cannot think of a time I didn’t wake up with a heavy heart and a stress ridden brain. Its as if God used last weekend to show me that life still goes on. And he will not in fact give me anything I cannot handle. Right now I am in chaos, but I am finding so much peace, love and beauty in the middle.

Our lives will never be perfect. We have to find ways to find the joy in a season of endless grief. I know God is preparing me for something greater. And I am going to survive this season and come out stronger in the end. This past weekend showed me that.

At one point Kas (the bride) was so emotional over the fact that we all keep showing up for her even with all the struggles going on in our lives. And let me tell you WE ALL HAVE A LOT GOING ON. LIKE A LOT! But what I have come to realize and I think my girls will agree, sharing in her time of happiness and growth has given us an escape. A reason to keep showing up for one another, a reason to step away from the struggle and celebrate.

If your in a hard season yourself, I encourage you to take a step back and look around. If you look, you will find blessings. If you grew up in a southern gospel home as I did, you probably heard the song “Count your blessings” every Sunday morning your entire life. But now as an adult when I start to feel those negative feelings creep in I just start to count my blessings name them one by one, when your down and out you’ve got to count your blessings.

Well I’m pumped up and off to start my weekend full of events! Pedicures with the girls, rehearsal dinner, and a wedding to remember. (I wish I could put all the heart eyes and crying emojis here…but I cant so just imagine them please)

Let me know what some of your blessings are! I love to hear how God works in others lives! If you don’t already follow me on social media, give my icons a click and follow along in my crazy, beautiful, peacefully chaotic life!

Until next time Queens!

XoXo

-Letha