hope reestablished

Do you ever catch themes occurring in different seasons of your life?

This past year has been repeated theme after theme after theme and the most interesting thing is that multiple areas of my life would communicate the saaaaame topics. Wasn’t confusing, it was actually exciting but didn’t make sense in the moment. The themes didn’t seem connected. So, I was (and honestly still am) frustrated at why all of this is happening the way it is.And, these thematic months haven’t seemed to result in much either aside from me meeting the end of September sitting against the wall I slid down in surrender feeling completely defeated, with my legs pulled close to my chest, bawling out to the Lord while Dylan patted my head and brought me toys.

I’m literally looking towards God wondering what is going on, then staring at the cross like “okay…. he did that, I can do this..” to all of these completely impossible circumstances like “how am I going to do this…” to the scriptures, to sermons filled with phrases that literally repeat prayers, & Bible study notes that are all saying the same thing: “this ends well…..” but I can’t go over it. Can’t go under it. Can’t go around it.
I have to go through it.

Honestly, y’all… I’m tired of going through it.
Years of back to back to back to back drudging, climbing, sweltering, thirsting through it.
And, we’ve been enduring.
But, now…
just about every area of my life has been leveled.
And, just like before, this theme is repeated in more than one area
rebuilding

It’s also not lost on me that we’re in the last quarter of the year and
rebuilding now to walk into something new in a few months is…. poetically beautiful.
If something strong and of substance is actually built.

Everything in life that has been knocked down and leveled, but still necessary. Isn’t that…. jacked? To need the very things that have been dissembled? It’s even more difficult when you’ve watched it crumble…..as you scrambled and worked and prayed and rallied and done all the things to keep it together. It fell a part. And no matter how hard I tried to piece it together, pull it together, fasten it together……… it would not hold.So, I closed my eyes, fell back against the wall, slid down to the floor.Spent the last weekend of the 9th month of this year laboring with my Heavenly Father.
Reading, worshipping, praying, focusing….
rebuilding and reestablishing my trust in Him.

…because I’m tired.
Spiritually depleted from trusting and believing
God for things that aren’t not only not happening,
but falling completely a part.

While also happier than I’ve been in a long while.
Over the past four years, I’ve learned to think & see & operate in abundance, speak life, and literally change the belief in who I was,  see my worth & value that resulted in a shift in my mindset and freedom from so much fear, self doubt, scarcity….. even in chaos, lack, disappointment, & hurt.

I saw more.
I saw more opportunity.
More hope.
More possibility
…..even though…..
I was beyond worn out. Beyond drained. Beyond depleted.
Emotionally. Mentally. Financially.

But, frustratingly grateful that in seasons past
I learned how to be grateful & content and how to endure and hope.

Thankful that depleted in 2019 isn’t the same depleted of 2015.
Drained and exhausted look and feel different now than it did then
because I’m physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually healthier.
I’ve strengthened my body and my faith.

But, needing massive relief nonetheless.

Yesterday I listened to Steven Furtick preach about transitions. Talk about perfect timing. One of the illustrations he gave was about the distance between where you and what you see/hope for using an Alcatraz inmate’s experience. Alcatraz Island, where the prison was located, is 1.25 miles away from San Francisco. Inmates could literally see life happening from a place they could not escape from.

It’s right there. A mile and a half isn’t far… at all. It’s right. there.Just as those prisoners could see the beauty and twinkle of a city they could only fully experience through the senses of their imagination, there are goals and dreams I just haven’t been able to touch with my hands. Desires I can’t yet see in the physical with my eyes, hear the reality of that life with own ears, and smell the scents of “finally” through my own nose but can be felt just the same. How torturous. I wonder if the thought “this is going to be torture” crossed any minds as the purpose of the island was planned and developed. Wonder if that city within walking distance inspired the imprisoned, gave them hope, or something to dream of and look forward to. Or if it drove them insane from desperately wanting & needing to grab hold of something that was within reach, yet impossible to grasp.
Imprisioned.
I get wanting out. I get feeling like you’re losing your mind trapped in a
situation you can’t find relief from. I get not being able to escape your own mind,
your own imagination, your hope, and ability
while not being able to go where you want to go until you were set free.

Stuck.
Working and enduring where the Lord has us.
Knowing that this positioned space would be torture, the space between
here and there, as he laid out the plans for our lives.
Stuck
but experiencing his grace as he is our sword and shield.
As he defends and protects.
Stuck
where he has permitted as he provides and protects
while giving glimpses of what’s possible.

I have found peace and beauty in that space.
I know what it feels like to near choke on air thick with hurt, devastation, and uncertainty
yet feel contentment and joy.
I know what hopeful feels like in the middle of a circumstance that is showing no signs of change.
What it feels like to want to stop hoping, to completely give up but literally can’t.
Almost doesn’t feel fair.
Like God is intentionally keeping you from.
Keeping you through.
Keeping you focused.
Showing you glimpse after glimpse of what can be.
Is stuck such a bad place?
You can’t stop believing, even though everything is leveled.
You see what is possible, even while staring at devastation.
I’ve been gorging myself on the book of Isaiah. Processing. Thinking.
Clinging to the truth of who God is, the truth of what he is capable of, the many many promises of how he will restore and trade the disastrous for the beautiful. For a while, I flipped and skimmed and ignored half the book until I realized how full of reasons to hope and trust and wait each chapter was full of.
Then, I craved it.
(“A little taste before we see?” – my hopeful imagination)
And, was reminded that the God I put my trust in is the very potter that is
working all things together for my good.
The very things he decided to use to mold and shape me
into the one who he has planned to bring him glory are
the very things that will be a joyous blessing and cause festive praise.
Those things that will allow me and my children to see and experience the other
side of this rebuilding process and his goodness here on Earth.
Those very things will testify to how he truly cares for his children
and has great plans for us.
How He redeems and restores.
Brings dead things to life.
How He prepares tables.
Fills empty jars to overflowing.
Heals brokenness.
Binds wounds.
Settles the lonely in homes.
Provides.
How He is our shield.
Our comforter.
The Lifter of our Heads.
The Rock on which we stand…….
when everything else has fallen a part
And, I rest on him. Depend on him. Look to him.
Hope in him. Believe in him.
Wait on him.
Patiently.
While putting my mind and hands to the work he has set before me.

 

In Nehemiah 4, the walls are being rebuilt as they have been completely destroyed.
After threats of attack, Nehemiah calls his workers to prepare to protect themselves
by working with one hand and holding a sword in the other.

Ephesians 6:10-18 tells us how to dress in war against the enemy….
among the various pieces of armor, in our hands is to be the sword which is the Word of God.

Is it possible that we can do nothing of value without a
commitment to do hard things, while facing & enduring unavoidable trouble, &
holding fast to a vision of what is to come,
while keeping the Word in our hands and heart?
…. at our disposal?
… ready to encourage, remind, strengthen?
… as we simultaneously work?
Holy God, keep us.
answer our prayers.
strengthen us.
build us.
grow us.
remind us.
hold us together.
provide.
develop.
sustain.
abide within us.
renew our hope.
adjust + restore our vision.
(what we see with our eyes & heart)
bless us as abundantly like only you can.
establish us as mighty oaks planted for your glory.
in the name of Jesus.
amen.
Good and Loved by Travis Greene & Steffany Gretizinger.
If you’re a long time reader, you may remember how I would link a song that were inspiring me in the moment to each post. Decided to bring that back today. Over the weekend and while I wrote this post, Good & Loved replayed. I hope you love it as much as I do! Let me know what you think!
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meal hacks

Hey, y’all!

So this post is a bit different than what you’re seeing on here but I believe it is plenty good so I wanted to share how I’ve been slaying mom life over here! So I’m going to share a bit of how I spend my time in the mornings & a bit of lunch and meal prep, too!

If you follow me on Insta (and you should!!!), you’ve noticed that my girls are newly obsessed with bringing their lunch to school. I’ve been sharing their daily lunches over there so if you’ve missed them, catch up on their lunches via my “Bento Box Lunched” highlight!!

I always, always, always… and have always…. gotten a ton of compliments on how I “do it all” (said in a variety of ways). From how I take the girls with me just about any and everywhere, how I am made up & in heels, how the girls look nice………..

y’all. It’s a choice.

Pieces of that choice I have no choice about ….. we have to go grocery shopping together. If I want to accept an invite and kids are welcome, we’re packing up and heading out. But, even when I have a choice (for instance putting on make up or wearing heels), my choice is an absolute hell yes. I mean, I don’t think 3 kids is a lot in the grand scheme of things (if I remarry I’m absolutely down for having a couple more before I hit 40) BUT what I also know is I enjoy making myself and looking cute. ***shoulder shrug**** and if I’m wrangling 3 kids, you better believe I’m going to look cute doing it. And, y’all…. cute isn’t always eyebrows filled in…. sometimes it’s a baseball cap (haircut or not), clean face, jeans, & tee shirt. There are levels to this, right?! Lol.

Point being, I choose what I say yes to and what I say no to.

When I am dressed up with a beat face, I wake up earlier, too. I believe deeply in waking up before the kids. Part of my early morning is devoted to just sitting in silence with the Lord, reading my Bible, & even getting some work done. Filling my cup is also having a quiet shower, putting in make up, and perfume. Those are life givers for me and because I hardly have any time to myself….. I have to choose to create it.

While Dylan has been the most unexpected joy, adding a third has completely wrecked my ability to multi-task and be productive in the way I was used to. The more mobile, opinionated, and engaged with her sisters she became ….. the more difficult it was to complete tasks I was used to knocking out without a second thought. Just adding another person has made the need to be ahead of the game mandatory, but it’s made such a difference.

I work really hard to get everyone’s clothes set out the night before, and some items prepped for the week. Wasting time is so frustrating to me, so using it to find socks or undies, a uniform shirt or even my own clothes is a waster. Some days I choose to not prep for whatever reason, and I just wake up a little earlier and suck it up the next day – which is a perfect ‘natural consequence’ that reminds me to spend that time at night so my mornings will be a little easier.

Another couple life hacks are around our meals. Y’all, I’m not a chef or a food blogger. I don’t know calories or anything like that. So, I hope your expectations about these food pics, recipes, and meal plans are underground low. But it’s working for me and, as always, I’ve gotta share what works for me because I know it could work for you, too!!

The girls were recently gifted Bento lunch boxes and they are obsessed with bringing their lunch to school. Which I don’t completely mind, but it does cause me to use my time differently.

(A lunch from last week…. these are documented in my ‘bento box lunches’ highlight).

Packing their lunch is a major night before prep. I put all the dry items in their box the night before, everything refrigerated or what I’ll warm in the morning is also prepped and ready to just drop in their boxes in the morning.

(Their lunch menu for the week… I pretty much stick to it unless I notice they aren’t eating something and/or they request something else.. on the menu) This is lunch prep for tomorrow. The pretzels, fruit snacks, & ketchup is ready to go. The cheese, mango, & hotdogs are already cut up. So in the morning, I just have to pop the hotdogs in the microwave and divvy up the cheese & mango. Easy peasy.

I also pack my own lunch which is some sort of remix of what the girls are having. I’ve also started making breakfast muffins on Sundays that last through the week! It’s super easy to warm that, add avocado or another fruit and get on out the door!

I posted the breakfast muffins last week and had so many people ask about the recipe, so I decided to just make it super easy and post here.

This recipe made 12 breakfast muffins!! And, they are so so so good!!! Don’t taste funny at through the week!

Just wanted to share a few tips and hacks that have helped me, and I hope they help you, too!!

If you’ve got any great hacks or super easy recipes, leave a comment or shoot an email! I’d love to hear!!

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… the beauty of freedom

I love next to nothing  more (besides Jesus) than I love a fresh hair cut.
And, next to no one I talk to (who knew me pre-fade) can hardly comprehend this chop.
But, let me tell you….. It’s been one of the best acts of self care that I’ve done for myself in years.
I recently had a conversation with a friend who pressed me about cutting my hair.
The same responses were given that had been repeated for nearly two years.
This is the thing:
That answer was repeated almost verbatim (mainly because I legit practiced the response) because I knew I’d be questioned, I knew those questions would come hard and fast, semi-judgmental and I wanted to be prepared.

Prepared to defend doing what I wanted for myself.
Defend something that affected no one else.
Isn’t that… interesting?

However, I believe the core of choosing to chop all of my beautiful, long, and thick hair off was dug up and unearthed a week ago.

My hair was cut lower than it had ever been and I then dyed it rose gold.
And, I loved it. The color has since grown out a bit, but I love this look. I love the cut.

I felt beautiful.
I felt free.
Capable.
And, that’s when it dawned on me.

While yes, I cut my hair because I did not have the time nor want to spend 3-4 hours every other week washing/conditioning/twisting | sit for 3 days (super inconvenient) | untwist every morning (15-30 mins every morning) | retwist at night (30-45 mins) | toss in a  puff for a week…… my hair was damaged, breaking, thinning and completely unhealthy and I didn’t want to deal with it anymore.

Not to mention the girls destroyed the house/their room while I was trying to do all of this. It was stressful, induced anxiety, and was insanely frustrating. Combining the the hours it spent washing/braiding/combing Rhy & Lo’s hair, the last thing I wanted to do was do my own hair. While all of that is true…..

I cut my hair because it’s my hair. on my head. that only I have to deal with and I wanted to.

And, I have never felt more beautiful and at peace with who I am or my appearance. 

One thing I cannot do is bend and confirm to another person’s idea and perspective of what is
beautiful, acceptable, or attractive.

Which is one main reason I value my singleness.
When we are married we sort of have to (or it will greatly benefit us to) take into consideration
our partner’s likes or dislikes and if your goal is submission, to fall under their leadership
and go with their final say.

However, as a single woman……
No one else’s preferences are taken into account when it comes to what I like for me (tattoos/cuts/color/piercings), what I need and what is best for me (from the supplements I need to take in order for me to feel my best to a new ______),
or how I choose to do anything.

My body. My hair. My choices. 
Especially since none of these things are affecting/hurting/harming another human.

(This likely isn’t a mindset you should take on as a wife….)
I cannot give someone that much power over me, that much say over what I do for my own emotional, physical, or mental health. I cannot allow someone else to control how I want to wear my hair, and live in their box of what they like or feel is attractive.
I can’t lose or dishonor who I am and what I need for another person.
or their ever fleeting and changing thoughts.

“You can’t cut your hair!”
“That was a bad idea….”
“Why would you want to do that to yourself?”
“You are going to grow it back, right?”
“What are you doing?”

Limiting, short sighted, fearful, and judgmental thoughts and ideas imposed on another person.. for what?

I love the freedom of experimenting with length and now color.
I love the freedom of not being held back by my very own fears or being limited due to another
person’s struggle with what other people will say, think, or feel.
I love that fear does not reign here.
I love that taking chances and calculated risks are a huge
aspect of living a full life of no regrets.

At the end of the day, our lives are about no one but Christ and if he isn’t offended… why are you allowing someone else’s preferences dictate your life?

Join the MLM (they aren’t the devil and we can chat about the best one when you’re ready).
Take the supplements. Travel. Take the kids with you.
Be bold in that space. Have the convo. Take the lesson. Take the job.
Go back to school.Don’t go back to school.
Trust the Lord and do the things, above all else.

“… whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely,
whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things and the God of peace will be with you…….”
Philippians 4:8

That scripture there is the standard and barometer. 
Do I miss my curls?
No.
Were they absolutely beautiful?
Yes.
And, hot. Also, very hot.

But, that season is over.
I don’t regret a moment of chopping my relaxed hair to embrace my natural hair.
I don’t regret a moment of chopping my natural curls and wearing a fade.

Look at me.
Joy, peace, & happiness rest here.
Fear doesn’t reign.
Boxes and limits don’t exist.
Just freedom.
Embracing opportunity.
Trusting the Lord.
Raising these babies.
Serving others.
And, enjoying each day of this life.
Yes, it’s full of trouble,
but it’s also full of so much grace, goodness, and promises
of comfort, a future + hope, and abundance.

The more I allow myself to step out of my comfort zone, follow the steps the Lord is
laying before me (as confusing and uncomfortable as they may be),
the more I experience just that.

Hey, girl, hey.
My name is Alaina.
I am not bound by fear, limits, boxes, or my own comfort zone.
And, let me tell you, that thing you’re afraid of doing…
isn’t your obstacle.
What’s holding you back is how you think of yourself and who you believe you are.
That’s it.
I love the own versatility.
I love my growth.
My bravery.
Boldness.
That smile.
This season of life.
My openness to change, possibility, and the unknown.
My beauty.
Unapologetic.
Unashamed.
Free.
Fully recognized.
Fully embraced.
Unconditionally loved.
.

Go be great, sis.

“You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you.”
Song of Songs 4: 7 

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