Happy Birthday, Luke!

Today is Luke's Birthday! 

Luke, I love celebrating you! Your care for me and others runs so deep. Your passion for Christ and the local church runs even deeper. You show me every day how to work hard and play hard! There is no other person on this earth who I want to do life with more than you. You're my person. You're my encourager. You keep me grounded, but at the same time, your belief in me lets me know that I could do anything. You're such a gift! I am so proud of you and I'm so proud to be your wife. 

Happy Birthday, dear. I hope it's the best one ever. Buddy and I love you so much!

Kiddo Room Inspiration

Now that we are in the "waiting for the phone to ring" period of our Adoption, I can finally start working on the nursery. It's different for every person going through the adoption process. Some can't bear to walk past an empty nursery every day, while others gleefully pass by because of what the nursery represents. 

I believe I do, and will as time goes on, fall into that latter category. 

There is NOTHING wrong with waiting to put your kiddo room together until after your baby is in your care. It really does differ from person to person. For someone like me, it's an energizing activity and fun to focus on! Initially, I was planning on acquiring only the absolute necessary basics and waiting to put together the nursery after the baby is in our care. 

But I made the turn on that as soon as our Home Study process was complete. I WANT to put it together. I WANT to be prompted to prayer when I walk past the room. I WANT to walk in there and imagine what it will be like when the little guy or gal is here, a part of our family. 

So, I'm slowly working on it! Luke and I been gathering inspiration for a while and I'm ready to share that with you! 

We are going gender neutral with our color palette because we won't know if it's a girl or a boy. So instead of pinks or blues, we're going with GREENS and light wood tones.

Here are some inspiration pictures for items I want in the nursery, with the links to where I found them: 

Changing Table/Dresser

Room Tour Here

Room Tour Here

I love the idea of using a dresser with a changing pad secured on top. We are taking an old dresser from Luke's grandmother's house and will paint it this color. I'm not sure if we'll do the gold drawer pulls though. 

The piece we are getting is super special. My MIL told me that Luke's grandfather had the piece made for Luke's grandmother. It's really special! I'm glad it's getting to stay in the family. Yes, I have her permission to paint it. I'd leave it the way it is, but it's too dark for the aesthetic we're going for. 

Crib 

I love how the simple, light wood crib works with the bold dresser. It makes me giddy just thinking about it. 

Book Ledges

Who cares if book ledges are overdone? They are so cute and seem to be so practical. Until Pinterest shows me something cuter than a book ledge and chair combo, I'm 100% having something like this in my nursery. I like the white and I like wood tone. Who knows which way we'll pick?

Llama & Wicker Accents

I have been on the Llama train for a couple of years now. I am LOVING the trend. Everything has great color and texture and I'm excited to incorporate llama accents into my kiddo room. I already have the Llama head from Target. I can't wait to hang it up!

I'm also planning to incorporate wicker baskets for storage and other accent pieces.

A Good Rug

A room is not complete without a good rug. I'm keeping my eye out for a rug that won't just work in the nursery, but in my whole house. I like to switch things up and move things around! So I'm looking for something with color and a nice pattern OR something neutral that I could put in any room. 

A Really Good Chair

We are going to keep everything else in the nursery as affordable as possible, but we are planning to splurge a little on the chair. From everything I've read and people I've talked to, they all say don't skimp on the chair because you're going to spend a lot of time in it. So, I'm looking for super comfy and something that will work with the overall design aesthetic of my home. I'm planning to keep it forever. 

Those are some of the bigger things that I'm looking for! Of course, little details will come over time. Currently, we've painted the walls white. That's it! I'm excited to start working on it. Mamas, you can let me know what nursery items are necessary. First timer over here! All I know is what colors I like.... LOL. All help appreciated. 

 

 

A Morning in the Blueberry Bushes

I am thankful that I get to go and pick blueberries every summer. My freezer gets restocked on blueberries and I use them throughout the year for baking or making smoothies. 

My favorite part isn't having the blueberries in my freezer, it's the tradition of going and picking! Every summer growing up, we'd go pick blueberries at my Mimi's house. It's a step out of the everyday routine and it just feels good! It feels good to be doing the epitome of eating local -- picking your own berries. 

This Saturday morning was unseasonably cooler than typical MS mornings. It had just rained so the bushes and blueberries were wet. Our arms were immediately soaked due to reaching in and picking the plumpest berries. The Blueberry Crew which is Luke, Becca, Ms Barb (Luke's mom), and me, spent about an hour picking and talking. It was just perfect. 

Luke and I walked out with a good haul. I measured them on my food scale when I got home and it was over 4 pounds of Blueberries! 

Whenever I bring fresh blueberries home, I like to immediately wash them, so I don't have to worry about washing them after they are frozen. I can immediately incorporate them into whatever I'm making. I empty my bucket into colanders. Give them a good rinse, and then lay them on an old (and clean!) towel on my counter so the berries can dry. Pro Tip -- use a blue or darker colored old towel because blueberries will stain. 

Once the berries are dry, I pack them into gallon size freezer bags, lay them flat in my freezer and stack the bags on top of each other. I don't freeze them all immediately though. I usually leave about 3 cups in my fridge so I can use them right away. 

In the past we've made blueberry muffins, blueberry lemonade, and blueberry bread. This year is different because we are following Keto. Instead of the sugary treats, I made a Gluten Free and Sugar-Free Blueberry Cheese Danish Coffee Cake using this recipe. 

I never know how my Keto baking will turn out, but this was YUMMY! It wasn't too sweet, sometimes sugar replacements are just too sweet (Swerve is my favorite) and it didn't taste too almond-y. If you've tried Gluten Free baking, you know what I mean.

I was very pleased with how this came out! Plus, baking in a cast iron skillet makes me feel like a pioneer and I like that - LOL.

One of my dreams one day is to live on a piece of land that's big enough to have a lot of blueberry bushes where my friends and family can come pick and stock their own freezers. Until then, you'll just have to settle for some of my blueberry treats. - JJ  

How I Started Keto
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Maybe you've heard of Keto, maybe you haven't. Maybe you've heard a co-worker mention the word Ketogenic, Keto, or Ketosis, but you aren't really sure what it is. 

I'd love to give you some insight onto the things I've learned over the past year. You see, before Keto, I had an idea of what I wanted my everyday life to be like, but didn't know how to get there. I had a vision of how I wanted to be, but had no idea what to do. Then, I found Keto. 

Now, I had heard of it before, but never really dug into it. I didn't think I could live without bread and pasta. Turns out I can. 

My Keto story starts back in 2017. I was working with my OBGYN, taking hormone medication, and trying to get pregnant. It wasn't working. The hormone medication was actually making me gain weight and I felt like my efforts were canceling each other out. Gaining weight on top of excess weight surely wasn't helping me get pregnant. 

My journey, I'm sure started like many others, GOOGLE. I started searching things like, "What to eat to get pregnant" and "Pregnancy Diet." A few rabbit trails later I found articles sharing how eating Keto was good for people who have PCOS. 

This was the first time that I ever felt empowered enough to try to heal my body from the inside out, not just rely on medicine. I wanted to take an active role in healing my body, not just wait for it to magically happen. So I started researching and soaking up everything I could about reversing or healing PCOS. The majority of credible resources that I found pointed to Keto and Essential Oils. 

I started listening to podcasts and reading through Keto basics each night after dinner. I knew that this was what I needed to do. I needed to ditch all processed food, grains, sugar, and household toxins to get what I wanted. 

This meant more than wanting to lose x amount of pounds. It was deeper. I wanted to start Keto because I wanted to heal my body naturally. I want to heal my hormones and take back my fertility. 

Also, I was eager to try Keto because I loved all the foods on the approved foods list. Cheese? OH YEAH. Ranch Dressing? OHHH YEAH. Bacon?? Are you kidding me?? Cream in my coffee?? What is this gift?!!  I was particularly excited about the Ranch Dressing because even though I like salad, I don't love "healthy" salad dressings like vinaigrettes. Never have. I like the creamy and rich stuff. 

So you jumped in right away, right?? 

No, I didn't. I'm kind of a slow processor when it comes to making big changes. I needed to immerse myself in the knowledge and change the way I thought about food.  I knew from my previous diet experiences that to be in this for the long haul, to really see the long term results that I wanted, that this wouldn't be a quick fix, 20 day diet. This would be a complete OVERHAUL entailing physical and (most importantly) mental work. 

So I started making changes upstairs before I making major changes in the kitchen. I took a slow, boring approach. For example, I started leaving out the starchy carb sides (rice, pasta, bread) when I would cook during the weekdays. Then, we slowly stopped having dessert every night. 

As I was learning about Intermittent Fasting, we started skipping breakfast. We weren't breakfast eaters anyway, so that was easy. 

I am confident that these slow changes are what set me up for Keto success. 

So thats how I got started! I am working on a separate blog post with suggestions on how anyone can start shifting their life towards Keto. If you have any specific questions, please let me know so I can include them in my post. I'll also include references for the resources that were super helpful to me then and helpful to me now! 

Also, as a teaser, over the past year of doing halfway Keto (2017) and full out Keto (May 2018 and onward) I've lost about 30 pounds total! And you know what the best part is.... I've kept it OFF. 

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Okay, okay, I'll go ahead and give you one of my tips for starting Keto.

Start doing your research. Maybe you don't have any glaring in the face health issues like me, but maybe you want to clean up your lifestyle, quit the processed stuff, have more energy, ditch the toxins, etc. Start reading things for yourself. And of course, be on the lookout for my follow up post, Tips for Starting Keto.

Oh and one more thing!

I've started a separate IG account thats strictly about my Keto Journey. You can follow here -- @Campbellhouseketo

Let's Go! - JJ 

 

Are you a Dreamer?
Photo by Carlos Domínguez on Unsplash

Would you characterize yourself as a dreamer?

To me, a dreamer is someone who cannot shake the idea that things could be different. That you could be, do, and/or experience different things. Different isn't bad, it's just different

Next question. Do you allow yourself to dream?

I know it's easy for some people, myself included, to keep dreams locked away in your mind because they seem out of reach or that too much would have to change for those dreams to become a reality. 

I believe that whatever the dream is, it's there for a reason. Now, you just have to determine whether it's something you're willing to go for or not. 

Today, I'm not sharing a 3 step plan to help you reach your dreams. In fact, I'm still figuring out my own dreams and how they can turn into reality. I guess, I just want to know that I'm not alone. That I'm not the only one out there with a God-sized dream that's been safely tucked away in the corners of my mind for years waiting for me to reach in and do something. 

Does that sound like you?

I recently heard this question by this guy, "What would your life be like if you made use of all the potential you were offered?"

That got my wheels turning! What if we used this potential sitting inside of us? What if we stepped out and did something different? What if we allowed ourselves to dream?

I think, that if we bind together, believe in each other's potential, and get honest about what we want in life, then we can start doing things differently.

And that's what I'm going to do. I just want to know if I'm the only one or not. So today, I want to encourage you to take a few minutes, or longer if you have it, and let your mind wander back to your dreams. Do you believe that those dreams are there for a reason? I do! Second step of encouragement -- allow yourself to dream. Dream about the life you want to have and what you want to do. 

Yeah, this is really broad and kind of generic, but who cares?! Give yourself the space to re-discover your God-given potential. Only then, can you take steps to making changes and become the person you really want to be. 

Truths you can Always hang Onto
Photo by Mia Baker on Unsplash

I've just started reading the book of Ephesians and I wanted to share with you some major truths from chapter 1. 

The whole first chapter looks like a rainbow in my Bible (I use a highlighting method) and that means that things are clicking and deep heart connections are being made. As a Believer it's important to have constants or "always-es," as I like to call them, in your life. Yeah, I made that word up, but you get what I mean, right? Below are some truths that we can ALWAYS trust, no matter what. 

Truth #1

Always remember that you are chosen to do God's work. It was His plan all along that you would belong to Him, adopted as one of his own. 

Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavens in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in love before him. 5 He predestined us to be adopted as sons through Jesus Christ for himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace that he lavished on us in the Beloved One.
— Eph 1:3-6

This truth is extra special to me right now because "Chosen" is our adoption theme. You can read more about that here. 

Truth #2

Always remember that God operates on THE TIMELINE. He's always on time because His timing is perfect. 

7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace 8 that he richly poured out on us with all wisdom and understanding. 9 He made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he purposed in Christ 10 as a plan for the right time—to bring everything together in Christ, both things in heaven and things on earth in him.
— Eph 1:7-10

Truth #3

Always remember that you can trust God's plan. He's got a great plan and an inheritance of his children. 

11 In him we have also received an inheritance, because we were predestined according to the plan of the one who works out everything in agreement with the purpose of his will, 12 so that we who had already put our hope in Christ might bring praise to his glory.
— Eph 1:11-12

Truth #4

Always remember that once you accept the gift of salvation, you are sealed in Him, in His family. Nothing you can do, think, say, or feel can separate you from God. I used to struggle with doubt, big time. Thankfully, I don't struggle with that doubt anymore. I can confidently know that my salvation is sealed. It's done. 

13 In him you also were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed. 14 The Holy Spirit is the down payment of our inheritance, until the redemption of the possession, to the praise of his glory.
— Eph 1:13-14

Truth #5

Always remember that you can ask God for things. You can ask for things like wisdom, revelation of knowledge, an enlightened heart to know his immeasurable greatness. He's an open handed God and wants to bless His children. 

17 I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, would give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened so that you may know what is the hope of his calling, what is the wealth of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the mighty working of his strength.
— Eph 1:17-19

Truth #6

Always remember that Jesus rules over everything. It's His position. It's His place. Nothing is above Him. When things are going sideways, you can always trust that God is seated above everything. Everything is under His feet. 

20 He exercised this power in Christ by raising him from the dead and seating him at his right hand in the heavens— 21 far above every ruler and authority, power and dominion, and every title given, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he subjected everything under his feet and appointed him as head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of the one who fills all things in every way.
— Eph 1:2-23

I've been thinking about these "Always-es" for the past couple of days. I like knowing where I can look to when I need to be encouraged. Even though these truths are there, sometimes they are hard to remember. It's easier to give over into fear and doubt or question God about why ______ happens or happened.

Our faith can run deeper than that. We can choose to trust God no matter what! If you are a Jesus follower, I want to encourage you to think about these truths along with me. I'm sure you could write them out more elegantly than I did. Make some "always-es" for yourself in your own words. Tailor them to your life and circumstances. 

If you aren't a Jesus follower and don't really know what I'm talking about, that's okay. I hope that you're encouraged by the Hope that Jesus gives. 

- JJ

Unlocking the Secrets of Meal Planning
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Meal Planning was always somewhat of a mystery to me. I couldn't figure out the right way to plan what I wanted to eat. I mean, how could I know what I would want to be eating by next Tuesday!? In my mind, the people who could Meal Plan were on another level of discipline and planning. I never thought I could pull it together and be organized enough to fit some type of meal planning into my life. And then it dawned on me...

I don't have to eat what's planned for that particular day. Meaning, I could swap meals I had planned and prepared throughout the week based on how I was feeling at each particular meal. For example, if lunchtime hit and I really wanted what I prepared to eat for dinner at lunchtime, I had the freedom to move things around and make that happen.

I know, I know. Major "duh" moment, but it was kind of revolutionary for me as it unlocked a system that allowed me to be planned and organized for the most part, but not give up on my spontaneous nature either.

By the way, when I say Meal Planning I'm talking about planning out the food you're going to eat in a week's time (or however long you go in between grocery store runs). 

Also, I thought Meal Planning was only for moms with like 4 kids. That's totally not true! Another "duh, JJ!" moment for sure. 

My weekly rhythms were definitely lacking organization. I knew that if I thought through recipes I want to eat + what our week looks like event wise, then I could bring a sense of calm and less "frazzled-ness" to our house. Once I committed to Meal Planning and figured out some tips and tricks, the mystery of meal planning (and meal prepping!) was FINALLY unlocked. I'm going to share the secrets with you!

Secret #1 Figure out your objectives

I didn't want to Meal Plan just to Meal Plan. I wanted to be more in control of the food we ate, maximize our quality time together, and be wise with how we spent our money. Because I wasn't organized in my shopping lists, we'd constantly be running back to the grocery store multiple times a week -- that costs time and money. So my objectives were to: 

  • Shop smarter by using coupons and taking advantage of weekly deals, etc. 
  • Eat out less / Eat healthier
  • Feel more in control of food

Knowing why I wanted to start meal planning in the first place helped me stick with it when I would have rather done other things. I don't do things just to do them. If I am going to add something to my routine, it better be worth it. Head ups... it's worth it! 

Secret #2 Find the right time and day to make your Meal Plan, grocery shop, and meal prep

Take a general look at your week and see where you've got natural, somewhat consistent time gaps. This allows you to fit Meal Planning and prep into your already established weekly rhythm. After a few weeks of trial and error, I found that our best time to go to the grocery store and meal prep was Sunday afternoon/evenings. It sets us up for a great week!

Secret #3 Treat lunches like normal meals

Another revolutionary thing for me was creating a system where lunches weren't dependant on leftovers. Why had I not thought of this? No idea, but I thought it was brilliant! For so long I considered lunches to be just salads, sandwiches, and leftovers. Not their own meals prep! I'm sure you realized this a long time ago, but it's a more recent thing for this gal and I'm telling you: it's my best Meal Planning secret on this list. 

What I do is plan 2 lunch meals. I alternate them every other day. Yes, there are 4 days in a work week, but it works well for us because we usually eat out for lunch once a week. Either with our whole staff or one-on-one lunches with people in our church. 

Secret #4 Determine when you want to cook and when you don't want to cook

I love cooking. I really do. That doesn't mean that I want to cook every night, though. The way my meal planning works out is that I cook maybe 4 times a week in total. During the week is when I try new recipes and get really creative. On the weekends, I like to chill out so I always have something quick and easy on hand (for us, that's bacon and eggs!).

Secret #5 Determine if you are digital or analog 

If you prefer writing things down via pen on paper, great! Do that! If you can't keep up with the paper that you wrote your recipe list down on, and you lost the pen too, then stick to digital. I'm digital, baby! I have a Spreadsheet in my Google Drive where I plug in recipes I want to make for the upcoming week. I've found that doing this helps me in the future because as I continue to build my Meal Plans out, the previous meals in the spreadsheet serve as inspiration when I'm not feeling anything new. Plus, when you're short on time you can copy and paste an old Meal Plan that you liked from weeks ago. That in itself has been a lifesaver for me! 

Whether you're digital or analog, keep up with the meal plans you make in a notebook or your Google Drive. They'll help you in the weeks where you're stumped or short on time. 

Those are my secrets! You can plug them into your life whether you eat Keto like me or the Standard American Diet. These secrets work for everyone, especially if you're not the most organized person -- like me! 

That Farmers Market Feeling

Our town hosts a local Farmer's Market every Tuesday night during the summer. We went this past week and it was just the best! The weather wasn't 1000% humidity like it normally is in the summer. It was actually a perfect night to slowly make our way through the downtown market. 

Everything was so fresh and perfect! We stopped at this first stand called Salad Bar Farm. How cute is that name!? Their concept is so cool. They bag up fresh kale and lettuce and have everything you need for a good salad. We picked up some sunflower micro-greens. I tossed them into my salad yesterday and they made my salad extra nutritious and flavorful. The vender also said that they taste great in scrambled eggs! Trying that out soon.  

One of the highlights of summer is getting a GIANT Lemonade from the stand with the Hydraulic Lemon Press. It's seriously the coolest (and most delicious!) way to make lemonade. Becca and I both got Strawberry Lemonade. One magical time last summer we got Peach Strawberry Lemonade. It was heaven on earth!! 

I love how vibrant and colorful all of the vegetables are. I purchased some freshly dug red potatoes and cooked them up as soon as I got home. You can definitely taste the difference in a freshly dug up potato and one that's sat in the grocery store for a few days. 

I think our favorite stand was Sweet & Sauer. We LOVE Kombucha. The homemade Strawberry Basil Kombucha was absolutely incredible. I'll go back next week just for that! We also tasted Kimchi and Sauerkraut for the first time. Definitely NOT what I expected flavor wise. I LOVED it. This week I'm doing a little recipe research to know what to pair with sauerkraut and plan to purchase some next week. 

Did you know that fermented foods like Kimchi, Sauerkraut, and Kombucha are incredibly good for your gut health? Fermented foods help your digestion and I'm not mad about it. These flavors are bold and incredible! I'm looking forward to adding them into our weekly eating. 

I love it that our little town does stuff like this. I'm all for shopping local and eating local. Next time I go I'll bring my reusable grocery bags and cash. I'm very thankful to all of the family farms, butchers, dairy farmers, and other organic vendors that come out to town each week. Let's keep showing our support! 

How to Read your Bible (well, how I read mine!)
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Something that's different about 2018 compared to my last few years is how I'm reading my Bible. Being a pastor's kid, I've always been involved in church. I knew from an early age that reading your Bible was important. Years of Sunday School, Awana, and Bible Drill definitely helped me become familiar with the Scriptures, but it's taken me a little while to really figure out reading my Bible in a way that makes sense to me. And you know what, that's totally okay. 

Your relationship with Jesus is a personal relationship, meaning that it's hard to copy and paste a Bible Reading method without personalizing it. 

In the past I would rely on devotional plans with more emotional depth than scripture depth. They were great and I love devotionals, but I found myself scared to read my Bible on my own. I became really dependent on those devotionals or books for my Bible reading. I was fearful that if I just read scripture out of the Bible, I wouldn't be learning because I wasn't smart enough to know what was really going on. 

That sounds crazy, right? Maybe you've had similar thoughts and feelings. I'm thankful that I changed those thoughts and feelings over time. Now, I wake up ready to READ, learn, and journal. That desire has been lacking in my life for years. I'm incredibly thankful that the desire to read my Bible is present, but it's become a total necessity in my life. 

I want to share with you how I've figured out what works for me and the steps I took to get here. 

Prayer

During those times when I wasn't reading my Bible and couldn't finish a devotional plan to save my life, I would pray this very simple prayer, "God, please give me the desire to read your Word." I wouldn't say it every day, but when I would think about it. When I felt hopeless and like I was being left out because all of these other people have a dynamic Bible reading relationship, I'd ask God to help me want to read the Bible. 

So, if you are in a place like I was where there was no consistent reading and DESIRE to read the Bible, start with prayer. Ask God to help you WANT to read the Bible. 

Start with the Familiar

It was the beginning of 2018 and I could feel that a desire to read was kindled in my Spirit. That sounds crazy, but it was God answering my prayer. I knew that I loved the book of Romans. It has been years since I read it, but I knew some of the most meaningful passages of Scripture were found in the book of Romans.

I ALMOST tried to look up a devotional or book that guided you through Romans, but I didn't. There was a 3 week breakdown of reading Romans with "going deeper" passages and I chose that instead. I wish I could say that I flipped to Romans everyday and read the book within the allotted time period. I didn't. It was very hit and miss, but the point was that I READ THE WHOLE BOOK. My first goal was just to read the book of Romans. It didn't matter how long it took me, I was going to read the whole book, not just the first 3 chapters. I was BREAKING the cycle of starting something, but not finishing it. 

The more I read, the more other desires came back. I started jotting things down in my journal. I used to be a big journaler, but quit a long time ago. The desire to write down some thoughts came back, so I did it. Pretty soon I was filling up a couple of pages each morning with musings, prayers, and thoughts about my life and whatever chapter I was reading in Romans. 

Make it Colorful / Find what works for you

After I finished the book of Romans, I went right along to 1 Corinthians. Every week I was becoming more and more consistent in my Bible reading. Reading 1 Corinthians was AWESOME. I asked God to show me things, and HE DID. I took what I was learning and started putting it into practice and God has CONTINUED to show me new stuff! 

As I was reading, I was underlining scriptures and putting those notes in a journal. I wanted to do it differently though. I wanted to start marking up passages in my Bible and making notes in my Bible. I was looking for a really simple Bible Journaling method. I wish I could doodle and write pretty like the Bible Journaling I see on Insta and Pinterest, but I knew that I just needed to stick with basics -- highlighting and note taking. 

I follow Jordan Lee on Facebook and Instagram (she's a great follow!) and stumbled upon her Brighten your Bible resource. I went out and bought a pack of highlighters the next day, y'all! Doing this method has been so helpful for me. It helps me make connections and really see deeply what's going on in the passages. 

You may not love this method like I do, and that's okay! You can figure out what works best for you. I love color and I love notes. This works for me and it's been super beneficial in going deeper in my Bible reading. 

I am very thankful that I've made my Bible journaling a regular thing. I feel like I have more purpose and I'm more aware of what's going on in my life. I feel much more calm and centered. God's Word really is living and powerful. YOU CAN read it and learn things. You do not have to be a Bible scholar to be able to understand what the Bible says. If I can do it, you can do it too! 

If you find you're in a place like I was where there was no desire to read and fear of not understanding, start praying. Ask questions. Start where you are familiar and then find what works for you. You can do it! I'll help you! All you have to do is ask. 

Adoption Updates // Summer 2018

Hello Friends! We are due for another Adoption update! 

Things got really busy and went really fast from the end of March 'til now. Within these months we:

  • attended an all-day training event at the Bethany office in Hattiesburg
  • knocked out all 3 Home Study interviews (1. They come to your house. 2. You go to their office for one on one interviews. 3. They come back to your house)
  • shredded about half of our training at a 2 day Conference -- Empowered to Connect --
  • completed our service plan 
  • finalized the Home Study Report
  • designed and ordered our profile books
  • created our web profile
  • hosted a t-shirt fundraiser

That's a lot of stuff! We've been white-knuckling it since March, but I wouldn't have it any other way. 

There is a lot of push and pause in the adoption process. Push as in, get what you need to get done as fast as you can. Pause as in, it's out of your hands, you've done all you can do, take a breather. There really is no middle ground, but you know what? I like that. It works well for my personality type. 

We are moving out of a season of Push, as you can see above, and into a season of Pause. We are officially on waiting lists and our profile is being shown to birthmothers in person and online. I've never been so excited to wait in my life!

We don't know when or how often our profile is being viewed, but I think it's best that way. There is way too much pressure in the knowing, so now we just wait for the phone call. It could come quickly or it could take a while. There's no way to really know when, but that doesn't mean we don't have work to do! 

Here are some things we'll be working on this summer and into the fall: 

  • Another T-shirt Fundraiser -- we had major success on our T-shirt Fundraiser! I am so grateful for each and every one of you who bought shirts. They should be hitting mailboxes soon! When you receive your shirt(s) post a pic and use the hashtag #lukeandjjadopt so we can make sure to see it! Our Fall t-shirt fundraiser will include long sleeve t-shirts, hoodies, and sweatshirts!! I can't wait!!
  • Plan more Fundraisers -- we need to raise about $7K-$8K more dollars now that we are in the waiting for the call period. I've got some ideas, but I am always willing to hear your ideas.... this is a joint effort, LOL!
  • Work on the Nursery -- I am ready to put this baby's room together! I walk past the designated room every day and my mind is flooded with hope and excitement. Initially, I planned to wait until the baby is in our care before I really went all out and decorated the nursery, but I've changed my mind. I want to at least have the basics in the room and I want to take my time picking out the right furniture (and the best deals on the furniture!) We've got something beautiful and gender neutral in mind and I'm ready to work on it!
  • Invest in our marriage -- Luke and I are in a really special time in our marriage. Adding another person to our family is going to change things forever, so I want to make sure that we cherish this time where it's just the two of us (and Buddy of course!). 
  • Creating our Summer Bucket List --We've been so focused on our adoption that I haven't even sat down to write one out yet. The time is now! (check out 2017's list here)!  

I hope you feel like you're in the loop! I love it when people ask where we are in the process, by the way. It shows me that you're invested and excited for us as we keep chugging along. So, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support and encouragement. Couldn't do it without my people. 

Chosen
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Chosen

That's the word we've picked to focus on for our adoption.

It's a word that we're hanging on to reminding us that we are called to choose this path to start our family. 

To be chosen is a powerful idea that empowers and let's you know that you belong. That's exactly what we want our child to know and feel. We want him/her to know that they were always wanted and chosen. That he/she is so special and cherished. What better word to love and focus on than chosen?

Chosen

It's one of the best words that describes how God feels about us as individuals. God's love is so great and He chose to make the ultimate sacrifice and chooses to forgive us and love us unconditionally each day. It was God's designed plan and He chose to see it through; the ultimate picture of love. 

Recently I was reading in Romans and these verses stopped me in my tracks as I saw them in a brand new light: 

You did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear. Instead, you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out ‘Abba, Father!’ The Spirit himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children, and if children, also heirs — heirs of God and coheirs with Christ...
— Romans 8:15-17

We are God's sons and daughters, adopted into his family and loved as his own. He arranged it to be this way since the beginning of time. I wept as I read through this passage of scripture seeing it with fresh eyes about myself and our future kiddo. Adoption means I take you in as my own and I take care of you. You are chosen. You are mine. 

We loved what chosen means so much that we put it on a t-shirt.

Luke and our talented friends, Ethan and Leanna Manning, worked together to create 2 shirt designs that we hope will accomplish two things:

1. Put a smile on your face and remind you that YOU are chosen, valued, and cherished, and

2. Help us bring Baby Campbell home. 

There are 2 different t-shirt designs for you to pick from (or get both!). Each design has different styles and color options. Pick the one that makes you smile the biggest. We hope that you love these shirts as much as we do! 

This is a shirt with a front and back design and it comes in 4 different colors: black, cardinal, olive, and stone gray. 

Design 2 Chosen Script Style

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This shirt is front only in a lovely script. You've got more options for this one as it comes in a t-shirt, tank top, and youth sizes (t-shirt only). Lot's of colors to choose from! The most popular choice of t-shirt so far has been Ice Blue. I can see why!

If this post encourages you or you've already purchased one of our t-shirts, will you share this on your social media accounts? Every share is valuable and we'll owe you forever! 

Adoption Updates // Spring 2018

October 2016 - Luke and I made the decision to Adopt

December 2016 - We told our families

January 2017 - We told our closest friends

February 2017 - We attended our introductory info meeting at Bethany

October 2017 . - We publicly announced our adoption

February 2018 - We submitted A LOT of paperwork 

Needless to say, we've been talking adoption for quite some time now and you know what.... it's still overwhelming. It doesn't seem like that much time has passed, but here we are in spring 2018. 

Since our initial posts in October, we've been pretty quiet about where we are in the process and how we're doing. I'm ready to give you all some updates!

I don't know how 2017 was for you, but it was not my best year. Looking back, I was moving through the 5 stages of grief, but I didn't even realize it. Writing this piece about grieving infertility back in November was something I needed to do, and all of those words are still true, but I was still in the "depression" stage when I wrote it. 

---- The 5 Stages of Grief : Denial, Anger/Anxiety, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance -----

If anything, I wrote that blog post for myself, to help me deal and move on into acceptance.

It took us a whole year to complete the paperwork. In our defense, it was A LOT of stuff (background checks, drug tests, tax information, etc.), but it doesn't have to take everyone a whole year to get it all done. I didn't feel a sense of urgency to do work on it and I am so thankful that I listened to God. If I would've pushed through and just gotten it done to to, the timing would not have been right. I wouldn't have been able to go through the training while I was still in the first 4 stages of grief.

During that time, I would see people LAP us in their adoption journeys. My competitive nature wanted to push through because others were "beating" me (that's SO silly!), but I'm so glad that I essentially kept my eyes on my own work. God was helping me realize everyday that this is OUR journey not anyone else's. I was confident that I would know when we needed to push and complete our paperwork and that's exactly what happened! 

So now, I'm happy to report that I'm in the acceptance stage! It took me a one year, which is totally normal, and I am able to confidently switch my thoughts off of my grief and onto our child which is EXACTLY where you need to be when you move forward into the training/home study process..... which is where we ARE! We're in training! 

We have 30 hours of comprehensive training to complete. 15 of those hours must be completed before our Home Study process is complete. We're chipping away at our materials. In a couple of weeks we'll attend an all day training event and I. AM. SO. EXCITED. We both are!

We'll be finished with our first 15 hours before we know it and ready for our Home Study. That means we are a giant step closer to bringing our child home. That also means that we have GOT to get busy fundraising! 

We've got a lot of fundraiser ideas on paper, now we just have to get them going. Soon, we'll have a t-shirt fundraiser, so we'll definitely need your help. Right now I'm focusing on hosting a Scrapbooking Day on April 14th. I'm looking for 10 people to come and Scrapbook with me! I'll have everything you need except for your pictures. All you have to do is pay $40 and show up! 

Thank you all so much just just being interested in our adoption. We get questions all the time and that is just the best. Thank you for being invested in our family! We've got a long way to go and we want you to come along with us! 

 

 

Crochet Lovers Gift Guide 2017

You know what I love? GIFT GUIDES! They really do help you think creatively when it comes to getting the perfect gifts for the people in your life. I put together a quick Gift Guide for Crochet Lovers. Check it out! 

1. Yarn Bowl

2. Cute Tote for all your supplies

3. Molla Mills, the Queen of modern Crochet, latest book

4. Leather Stamp Set for making custom labels for your work

5. Leather Punch for making the labels.

6. Crochet Hook Organizer. You know mine are rolling around in a drawer... 

7.  A Cute Mug that describes all you need in life. 

8. These super cute enamel pins. You can put them on anything! 

9. Gift Cards because we like to pick out our own yarn. I like yarn from Joann's, Michaels, and Hobby Lobby

There are so many more things that I could've put on here, but I wanted to keep it simple. Happy shopping! And if any one of these products end up in my mailbox, I'll be a happy lady! lol. 

Merry Christmas and Happy Shopping!

 

 

Holidays, DiaryJJ Campbell
My Favorite Christmas Albums

I am DEFINITELY an early Christmas advocate. Put up that tree and decorate after Thanksgiving. After all, I've been celebrating Fall with pumpkins and other fall decorations since September, so Christmas starts early in the Campbell house. 

Also, the Christmas season goes by SO FAST. I want to enjoy it as much as I can. 

With the decorations early, I also turn on some Christmas tunes a little early! I'm not talking about the mainstream radio Christmas music, either. I mean, I can only handle the original "I want a Hippopotamus for Christmas" so many times. I'm talking Christmas songs and albums that you don't hear on the radio! I want to share my favorites with you guys.

The Christmas Albums that are on repeat in the Campbell House:

Holidays, DiaryJJ Campbell
Your Brokenness is Beautiful

First off, thank you for all of the kind words, messages, comments, etc. on the blog post I shared earlier this week. You guys are incredible. The way everyone has rallied around and encouraged us has been phenomenal. It's a beautiful thing when honesty is reciprocated with kindness, encouragement, and a real sense of "me too". 

I am truly grateful. 

Now, here is my response to the responses I've received since last Wednesday. 

My brokenness is beautiful.

That phrase has been rolling around in my head for the past few days. I think it's been so prevalent because of public and private messages from people who responded with things like, "you have no idea how much I needed to hear this" and those who shared bits of their own stories dealing with infertility. It's more common than you expect. Beauty in brokenness doesn't mean that when you're going through issues you have to "happy your way through it." It means that big things can happen when we bring our broken state to God, expect him to help, and are willing to share our struggles with one another. 

As someone who's been a Christ follower for a long time, the idea of brokenness is not anything new. Type in "bring your brokenness before God" into Google and countless blogs and articles pop up about how God redeems our brokenness and makes us whole. 

I think about the old Shane and Shane song "Beauty for Ashes" (an incredible song on an incredible album that got me through high school). 

And then, there are so many beautiful scriptures about brokenness. 

"The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise." - Psalm 51:17

“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30

I could go on.

But the thing is, I know this stuff, but do I believe it? Do I carry myself in a way that reflects the phrase "your brokenness is beautiful"? It's easy for me to see others that way, but what about myself? 

Do I truly believe that my brokenness is beautiful and wanted by God? Do I know deep down that I'm not counted out or disqualified because something about me is off? This is one of those phrases that's easy to say, but hard to believe day in and day out. It's one thing to know something, but actually believing it is where it counts. 

This is something I really struggled with months ago when I was coming to terms with my fertility issues. I can confidently say that there are more days I believe it and live it out than there are days that I don't. It's also easier to extend that grace to others than to myself. I think that saying one thing to someone, but not really believing it for yourself is pretty normal for people though.

I don't want to be contradictory in this area, or anything really. If I talk and counsel someone about how their brokenness is beautiful (I work at a church and get to hear people's stories all the time and I love it so much), but then don't do that for myself, the truths don't line up. Why would they believe me?

So here I am now believing that my own brokenness is beautiful; that I can be used; that God can and will be glorified through my story; that I am not discounted or disqualified from a life filled with joy and purpose; and most importantly I'm letting God remind me that my brokenness is beautiful. He reminds me daily that I can trust Him and that He wants to do more in my life than I can imagine. I tell him back that I'm up for the challenge. That I am willing to put forth more effort, trust harder, share more, listen more, and ultimately being willing to believe His truth about how much he loves me. 

And now, I say the same thing to you. 

Your brokenness is beautiful. 

It is! You might not be able to see it yet, but it is. The beauty is there. The beauty lies in your response. Will you invite God in and let him start chipping away at your broken state? Will you let him use it for His glory? Will you see your brokenness as a diving board instead of a roadblock? Will you let him use you to spread His message of hope? I think you can. I know you can. 

It's easier to throw a pity party, call yourself a victim, and stay stuck. Belief and change take real effort. Don't take the easy way when it comes to your own brokenness. Let the disappointments be jumping off places for you and God. You never know what can happen when you decide to believe God's truth that he really does "heal the brokenhearted and bind up their wounds.” (Psalm 147:3). Believe that we really do have a high priest who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses. (Hebrews 4:15-16). It's going to take work and time, but you can do it. We can do it together. 

If you have a story you'd like to share about your brokenness, I would love to hear it. Encourage someone today like you've encouraged me. 

Grieving Infertility

The other day I was sitting in a coffee shop and a grandmother walks in with a little blond boy, her grandson.  He was probably 2 years old and smiling from ear to ear as he toddled around in the main room.  

And I lost it. 

That's what grief is like. It comes out of nowhere, steals your joy, derails your thoughts, and makes you cry in public. 

So I'm sitting there pretending to focus on my computer and letting the tears sting my eyes as I grieve the thought of the child we have not been able to conceive. 

In the initial post announcing our adoption, I slipped in this little bit of information,

"Q: Were/are you dealing with infertility?
A: Yes, but that's another story for another time." 

Now feels like a great time to share that part of the story. 

We started trying to get pregnant 2 years ago. We started talking adoption a year ago. Our road to adoption started out like many others, infertility issues. It took not being able to conceive to actually open my heart and mind up to adopt, and I am very thankful for that. 

I always thought adoption was cool and thought that other people's adoption stories were so beautiful, but I honestly never thought about adopting in my context, in my family. After a time of prayer and a series of God-sized confirmations, Luke and I knew that our family would include adopted children (1, 2, or however many God wants us to have).

As excited as I am about adopting (and you can trust that I am outrageously excited, we both are), grieving your own infertility is a beast of an issue that must be dealt with.

Coming to terms that a biological part of you is "broken," or "messed up" is hard and oftentimes lonely. It's not something you want to talk openly about. If you're anything like me you want to avoid feeling the painful things at all costs, so another reason not to talk about it. Everyone has an opinion about what you should do and to be 100% honest, I didn't want anyone's opinion on this subject. More importantly, I didn't want anyone to feel sorry for me or be disappointed with me. So I kept it to myself.

Before letting our families in on our adoption plans, when it was just Luke and me dreaming about what our adoption journey would look like, I gave myself MONTHS of time to grieve my infertility. I gave myself time to come to terms that I might never conceive a child. 

I invited Jesus in to help me face the worst thoughts about myself, help me "release" desires and plans, and grow in my faith. 

Together, we released the desire to have a child that naturally acts or looks like me.

Together, we released the desire to have a child that's blessed with Luke's natural musical talents.

Together, released the desire to have a child that has both of our family's genes.

Even though I'm writing the phrase, "released the desires" those desires have not magically gone away. What's different is the hold that those desires had over me and what they mean to me now. I'm not paralyzed with sadness or shame anymore, but instead channeling those desires into a deep commitment to teach our child the best things we know. After all, an adopted child is not a replacement. All children are worthy of love and a family no matter where they come from or what they look like. 

So yeah, I've come a long way. Jesus and I have done a lot of work together, healing this deep shame, protecting my optimism for the future, and blowing my heart wide open for this child who is going to come in and change our lives forever.

I'm happy to report that the grief doesn't sneak up on me that much anymore, hardly ever really, but I let it happen when it does. I let the sadness and grief come in because I KNOW that in a short while those grief feelings (sadness, anger, disappointment, shame, etc.) will be replaced with the peace that passes all understanding. I know it won't be long until Jesus confirms that adoption is a part of his plan for our lives, that we'll get to love and raise a child and point others to Him throughout the whole process. Even right now as I'm sharing this part of my life with you my desire is that you get an overwhelming sense that God is capable of big things and wants to work in your life like he's working in mine. And yes, that comforts me. 

So how is infertility Affecting me now?

I'm not completely hopeless in the fertility department. I do have PCOS (hormone imbalance) and that alone makes getting pregnant difficult, the excess weight isn't doing me any favors either. For the better part of 2017 I was working with a doctor, and taking fertility medication, but have recently decided to press pause on the medication and take a more natural approach to healing my body and get healthy. 

I know that sometimes it takes a long time to get pregnant. It's a miracle for it to even happen it all. I can confidently say that we are not giving up on the hope of getting pregnant, and that does not affect our desire or plans to adopt.

We will adopt even if I get pregnant. Our agency's policy is that if we get pregnant during the adoption process, we have to wait until our child is one year old, then we can pick the adoption process back up. And if that happens, that's what we'll do. Adoption will shape our family and I am confident that it will happen in God's timing.  

That might be too much information, but it's a big part of our story, and who I am as a woman. I've grown up in a lot of areas this year because of walking through infertility and it's what led my heart to the possibility of adoption. For that, I will always be grateful. 

 

 

Adoption, DiaryJJ Campbell
Figuring Out My Plan

I recognize a major tension in my life is effort vs sloth as well as extreme avoidance. It's hard for me to self-motivate and stick to something long term. I'm ready to alter that pattern and ready to commit to something. 

With that, I need to find a lifestyle that's going to work for ME. The unfortunate reality of the "diet" world is that there are A MILLION different paths to choose. Each diet showing science to back it up its claims (whether it's authenticated or not). Each plan has glorious success stories with the almost unbelievable before and after pics. It's difficult to know what to do, whose voice to trust, and what plan to follow.

My diet past consists of Weight Watchers, Low Carb, Ideal Protein, one and a half Whole 30s, and stab at clean eating. Low Carb, Ideal Protein, and Whole30 are kind of similar in the no grains and sugar platform but are still vastly different in methodology. 

Even just with the small handful of "diets" and programs that I've tried, there are a million voices to wade through. 

Something else to consider is the motivation for food plans.

There's eating certain ways to be trendy and there's eating for specific health issues. 

If I choose a plan to help my Hypothyroidism (I have a mild case of Hashimoto's), then my personal research suggests going Gluten Free. 

If I choose a plan to help lower my cholesterol, then my personal research suggests going vegetarian or flexitarian (a flexitarian is a vegetarian with benefits). 

If I choose a plan strictly for weight loss, then, based on my prior experiences limiting carbs would be an effective move for me. 

If I choose a plan to manage my PCOS, then its KETO, clean eating, and/or no dairy. 

If I choose to focus on NOT contracting Diabetes, then it's a no sugar plan. 

I'm overwhelmed even just trying to pick a lane! How is someone who doesn't have a degree in nutrition supposed to know which direction to go?! Are you sensing my frustration? The truth of the matter is that any plan I pick is going to benefit me. I just have to choose something to commit to.  

I've deduced that one of the biggest reasons why I haven't just picked a lane and started is fear.

I'm afraid I won't be full. 

I'm afraid I'll want more. 

I'm afraid I won't be satisfied. 

I'm afraid to preach the changes I'm wanting to make because my track record is TERRIBLE.

I'm afraid of the inconvenience I'll bring to my family and friends. Those concerns are easy for me to dissolve because I know that my family and friends want me to be healthy and they will support me during this process. 

Yes, committing to a different way of eating causes me to feel fear and you know what? That's silly. 

Now what?

The first thing I need to do is figure out what I want to do and make a realistic plan. Let's start with picking a lane. There's gluten free, dairy free, low carb, clean eating and flexitarian. What's common in all of these methods? Heavy on the Vegetables, limited to no processed food, and avoiding sugar. I can start there and pick a plan that's going to fit for my body. 

What's important in choosing your plan is knowing yourself. Truly Knowing your tendencies and patterns is the only way that you're going to know what's right for you. 

My impulsive/spontaneous side is ready for something new and my lazy sloth side is the equivalent of the face emoji with the x's over the eyes. You know the one. 

So what did I choose? I'm not ready to share that yet. Everything is still so new and fresh. I'm getting used to new habits and a new mindset. I want this to be very normal way of life before I share what I'm up to!

If anyone has struggled or is struggling with the confusing and contradicting information on what to eat, how to eat, what's good, what's bad, etc. just know that I feel you and I completely understand all of those feelings. It's hard to know what the right path is, but I'm confident that we can all figure out what's best for each of us! 

We're Facebook Official, so now What?

Earlier this week Luke and I broke the news that we are on the path to adopting a baby. I don't think I've ever seen such an outpouring of support and excitement from family and friends. We were in tears watching the congratulations posts roll in.

So what happens next?

Our application was accepted by our agency, so the next order of business is turning in our paperwork to apply for our Home Study. Easier said than done. That paperwork includes background checks (local, state, and federal), physical examinations, records to track down, as well as a few other things that put you at the will of other people. 

Hopefully, we can get our part done in the next 2 to 3 weeks. Because we're so new at this, I'm not sure if 2 to 3 weeks is a longshot or totally doable, we'll just have to wait and see! 

Once the paperwork is submitted to our agency, then they will schedule a Home Study. Again, not too sure what the turn around time is between receiving the paperwork and scheduling the visit, but hopefully we'll have the Home Study completed by the end of the year. I'm dreaming big! 

In the meantime, after we do our part to complete the paperwork, we'll start working on Fundraisers and putting our Adoption Profile Book together. The scrapbooker in me is really excited about making it!

We have some fundraiser ideas in the pipeline, but if you have any suggestions on fundraising, please let me know! We're ALWAYS looking for good ideas!

Our first fundraising goal is $2,000. That money will go toward the fees we have to pay in our paperwork and applying for a home study. You can click here to check out our YouCaring profile. 

We cannot do this alone. It's going to take a village, a big village. We're inviting all of our friends and family and future friends to join in with us as we bring our child home. Help us reach our goal!

If you have any insights about domestic infant adoption, preparing for Home Studies, or filling out the paper work, please connect with me! I'm always happy to listen to good advice. Stay tuned for our next update! 

You can click here to read our announcement post along with some FAQs.

We have an Announcement

Attention all friends and family: 

We have some news.

Adoption-Website-Announcement-1.png

Cue the fanfare and confetti because we're adding another member to
Team Campbell!

This has been a long time coming and we're so excited to share this great news with everyone. 

Luke and I are ready to start our family and we are 100% confident that we are called to adoption. We're hopeful and confidently trusting in God's timing. Adoption is a difficult and bumpy journey filled with highs, lows, and mountains of paperwork, but we know that there is a child out there (or will be a child out there soon) who is meant to be in our family. 

We need all the prayer and support you can give! 

We don't have a ton of answers right now, but here are some highlights: 

Q: Are you adopting domestically or internationally?
A: We are planning to do a domestic infant adoption.

Q: What agency are you using?
A: We are working with Bethany Christian Services. They're amazing! 

Q: Were/are you dealing with infertility?
A: Yes, but that's another story for another time. 

Q: How long will it take?
A: Honestly, that part is pretty up in the air. It could happen really quickly or it could take a while. There's a lot of factors at play like how quickly a birth mom chooses us that fits into the parameters we have decided on, if we are a good match and decide to move forward, how far along in their pregnancy they are when they choose us, etc...

Q: Are you already matched with a baby?
A: Not as of this entry being published. At this point, we are just getting started.

Q: How can we help?
A: You can help us by praying for us and helping us fundraise! We've set up a YouCaring account and every dollar and cent donated will go towards our adoption. 

Q: Are you super excited to get working on the nursery?!
A: I am! I've already picked out a theme, but will not start setting up the nursery until he or she is legally in our care.  Designing a nursery will be SO FUN!

Thank you so much for your current and future love and support. They say it takes a village to raise a child, but in our case it will take a village to get a child. We're inviting you to be a part of our village. 

I'll be posting adoption updates as well as my usual ramblings here on my blog, but don't hesitate to reach out to me and ask questions. So here we go! 

The Enneagram, Being a Number 7, and Moving the big Rocks

A few years ago (2013 maybe) I was introduced to something called the Enneagram. Luke and I were listening to the Relevant Podcast and Shauna Niequest was talking about the Enneagram and how it's changed her life. Naturally, I immediately wanted to know everything about it because I'm a personality test junkie. 

Give me any personality test or quiz I'll I'll take it 3 times! I'm just one of those people. 

I got my feet wet with a few books and started learning the basics about The Enneagram and the 9 types. I immediately knew that I was a number 7, so I really only focused on my seven-hood and didn't pay attention to anything else. 

Fast forward to this past summer and I dove back into The Enneagram with this book, "The Road Back to You." This book is amazing! The other Enneagram books I had were pretty scientific-y and kind of hard to digest, but "The Road Back to You" is hands down the most comprehensible book out there about The Enneagram. If you can't tell, I'm a big fan. 

So I picked up "The Road Back to You" this summer and my obsession with The Enneagram turned up to 11. It came at the right time for me because, even though I didn't realize it, there were big rock things that God was showing me in my life, unhealthy things that needed development and change.  Reading this new to me Enneagram book, it lined up perfectly with what God was showing. Isn't it crazy when things like that happen? When it seems like you can't get away from a particular thought or message?

So there's my long backstory about how I was introduced to The Enneagram, what I'm reading, and why it's suddenly become so important to me. 

One of the most important things about The Enneagram and "The Road Back to You" is that it's not just about recognizing these habits, underlying fears, and motivations about yourself. It's an avenue for real change and personal development. It's not enough to just know this stuff about yourself, but you have to be willing to actively improve on the weak areas and lean into the strengths. 

I'm a number 7, no question about it. It took me a little while this second time around to really accept my seven-hood. I could've easily slipped into a few other numbers/types, but when I really dug my heels in, did the reading and a little honest soul searching, there's no other number for me.

Before I continue on if you want to figure out your number and dip your toe into the ocean of The Enneagram, there are a few ways you can get started. 

1. Purchase "The Road Back to You." There's not an actual quiz in this book, but there are assessment type questions in each chapter giving you an idea if you're that type or not. Again, the best way to know is by reading the actual chapters. 

2. There is a good assessment in this book that will point you in the right direction as to what number you are. There are also weighted assessments before each chapter that confirm or deny your initial assessment results. Again, it's all about reading the chapters to really know. 

3. There are free online quizzes that are okay. You have to pay for the good online assessments. I've never done it, but if you have you can let me know what's a good one! 

4. When taking the assessments, be gut level honest. It's not about who you want to be or who you are at work. It's about the motivation behind your actions. The Enneagram is all about the underlying issues, why we do what we do, and what's made us who we are. 

5. Remember that there's no bad number. Every number has negatives and positives. 

Some of the main things that I've taken away from my reading are helping me recognize deep patterns and habits about myself that need to be changed at the root level. Learning and recognizing all of these things has actually been quite freeing. Just knowing that I'm not alone in how my mind works and how I'm not the only one who feels the way I feel helps me to know that I'm not crazy. That I'm not past help. That I'm capable of changing for the better. I know that with God's help and new knowledge about myself, I can make the necessary changes to be a better human and take care of myself. 

Here are the top 3 things that I'm learning about myself and how I am addressing these areas.  

1. It's normal for a 7 try to avoid pain.

I'm such an avoider it's hilarious. I'm not an avoider when it comes to conflict resolution and other people. I'm an avoider when it comes to myself. This mostly comes out in my health. I've avoided some pretty serious issues for a while now: High cholesterol, high weight, low tolerance for physical activity, and my PCOS diagnosis. 

Some days I beat myself up about not doing enough to work on these issues. "Stop eating ice cream 4 nights a week." "Stop eating cheeseburgers and fries." That's easy, right? WRONG. I've never understood how people can just completely cut out food groups (for longer than a month, I'm really not sure how I survived my Whole30). It's like my mind can't even fathom long term limits. Being a 7 is all about wanting more and more experiences to deflect dealing with any type of pain. Limiting ice cream, burgers, and fries robs me of experiences with other people. 

Now, it makes sense why other people can stick to food plans and I just can't. 

2. It's normal for a 7 to fear commitment.

I never thought I was a commit-o-phobe. Most of the time we give that title to people who can't stay in a relationship with another person. That's not the case for me. Committing to Luke was and is easy because he's amazing and I love him. I never feared commitment with another person; however, it's hard for me to commit long term to anything. Obviously, jobs and big purchases (think house and car) are different.  This is about a constant need for variety and options because there's always something else out there. How can I commit to just one thing??

Admitting that I have a fear of commitment was one of the most freeing things for me. Luke literally had to tell me and then make me say it out loud. I didn't want to!  It helped me realize why I can't stick to an eating plan, diet, or exercise program. I get bored! Then I want to go have EXPERIENCES (ice cream, burgers, splurges, you get it) because I don't want to miss out on anything. It's a crazy cycle or is it a cycle of crazy? 

3. 7s are good planners and dreamers, but terrible executers.

One of the major 7 things is the joy of anticipation. In fact, anticipating something is actually better than the present moment and that's so true that it's scary. I like making grand plans, setting big goals, and figuring out how I'm going to do something. When it comes around to actually doing it....... I. Just. Don't.

Armed with the information that this is normal and doesn't make me a bad person is a gives major relief. 

Realizing all of these big rocks doesn't mean that I never have to work on them. I'm now responsible to make the right kind of changes and put new, realistic, expectations on myself. It's just comforting to know that these are my issues, they're real, and they don't make me less of a person. It's so easy to discredit yourself when you see other people excel in your weakest areas. I admitted here that I struggle with comparison. Reading "The Road back to You" has shown me that e v e r y o n e deals with real, hard issues. Even though I knew that, it was really important for me to learn what other types of people deal with on a daily basis. 

To sum it up, the Enneagram is a helpful tool for self improvement and helps you play well with others. If you dig into it, it will help you understand other people and how to relate to them, which I think is really cool. I'm always happy to talk more about the Enneagram. Leave a comment or send me a message and we'll chat!