May 28, 2016

Encouragement for Single Moms: It Gets Easier

When my kids were much younger, sleeping in on the weekends was pretty much unheard of.  They would awaken at the crack of dawn with cries of "Mommy, I'm hungry" or "Mommy, I'm bored", or sometimes they'd just say "Mommy" for the sake of it.  My body became used to rising with the morning sun, even on the weekends they spent with their dad.

Seemingly overnight, the tables have turned.  The sun rises while my slumber continues.  The cries of my children have been replaced with light snores and the occasional rustling sound of their covers as they reposition themselves for deeper sleep.  Every now and then, I'll awaken to the sound of my daughter making pancakes for breakfast. 
Yummy pancakes made by my daughter.

Sometimes, I wake up before them and enjoy the sweet silence that comes from being the only one awake in the house.  These are times I have chosen to spend reading, writing, praying or just sipping on a cup of tea and planning the day ahead.

Back then, it seemed impossible that things would ever get easier.  But let me tell you, it does.  And it creeps up on you before you even realize it's happening.  One minute you're changing poopy diapers, the next you're constantly vacuuming up Cheerios and Goldfish crackers from every nook and cranny of your car.  Next thing you know, you look up and they're mini adults making you breakfast in bed and telling you how much they love and appreciate everything you do.  It's bittersweet, knowing that your children are growing up and not as dependent on you as they once were.  Only God knows what the future holds, but I'm excited about the next chapter of my children's lives, as they navigate their teenage years and enter young adulthood.

So to my single mamas raising little ones on your own, I say this: hang in there.  You are doing an amazing job.  I know you might not hear that often, but even at this young age your kids see what you're doing.  Before you know it, they'll be telling you just how amazing you are.

Happy weekend!

May 22, 2016

Mom of a Teenager

Sounds like an insult, doesn't it?  You mom of a teenager!!  But that's exactly what I am. Today is my daughter's 13th birthday.  And to be honest, I'm struggling to accept that she's growing up.  She has always been an independent kid; somewhat of an old soul.  She inherited my reluctance to ask for help and prefers to figure things out on her own.  Even so, I've always looked at her as my little girl.  During my most difficult times, my mom has always told me that one day my kids would be all grown up and able to take care of themselves, thus lightening my load.  I listened and believed her, but I didn't expect it to happen so soon.

Over the past year, my daughter has grown and matured so much.  I look at her square in the eye now because she's the same height as me.  We have deep conversations about politics, religion, her friends, and even the B word (yeah...boys...*eek!*).  I love that she's comfortable enough to come to me and discuss whatever is on her mind.  A couple of days ago, she said it best - we are close like sisters.  Our relationship has evolved into somewhat of a friendship, though she fully understands that I am and always will be her mom and she respects me as such.

So today as I celebrated her entrance into adolescence, I made a conscious decision to remember the beauty of her childhood so far, while also embracing the next chapter of our relationship as I continue to guide her through this journey we call life.  I pray that our closeness will continue through the remainder of her teenager years and well into her adulthood.  As quickly as the years are flying by, I plan to savor every single moment. 

Happy birthday boo xx

May 21, 2016

Chattanooga, TN

Last weekend, I took my kids to Chattanooga for the day.  It's only a 2 hour drive from Nashville, and the ride there is absolutely beautiful.  I love driving up Monteagle Mountain and back down the other side.  We're so high up, we have to wait for our ears to pop to resume our conversation!  The views are breathtaking.  My kids took a bunch of pictures on their cell phones, and tried to capture the Georgia and Tennessee state signs are we weaved in and out of each states.  It warmed my heart that they were so amazed by the beauty of God's creation.

Our first stop in Chattanooga, and the only place I took pictures with my fancy camera, was Rock City.  This place is famous for its (alleged) view of 7 states from Lover's Leap at the top of Lookout Mountain.  The trail to the top of the mountain winds through colorful gardens, past bubbling creeks and stunning rock formations, all to the soothing sounds of relaxing music.  They actually had a harpist playing while we were there.  And the weather was perfect.

I'm not convinced you can see 7 states from the top of the mountain, and neither were a couple of other tourists we heard debating its accuracy once we got to the top.  Regardless, the view is simply beautiful, and the mountainside waterfall is the icing on the cake.  My kids had a blast and both said they want to visit again next time we're in the area.  If you have never visited Rock City, or the Chattanooga area in general, you should add this underrated city to your bucket list.  There is so much history, culture and fun activities to enjoy while you're there!

I haven't edited any of these pictures, since I haven't learned how to do that yet!  All in good time...

May 20, 2016

New purpose

I have been struggling for a long time to understand my true purpose in life.  I enjoy my career, but I have a hard time saying I am passionate about it.  I love to hear stories of people who follow their dreams, take a huge leap to achieve their goals and make a living doing what they love.

I have always loved to take pictures but never considered becoming a professional photography.  That was until about 6 months ago.  I believe God gave me the idea to learn professional photography, and then work with local domestic violence shelters to take pictures of their resident survivors.  The ladies can use their portraits however they would like - frame them for display in their new home, greeting cards or Christmas portraits.  My goal would be to show them how beautiful they are.  This concept led me to the name of my new photography venture - Beauty for Ashes Photography - based on Isaiah 61:3 " bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair."

I purchased a Nikon D3200 from Amazon, and downloaded Nikon D3200 for Dummies to help me become better acquainted with my new toy.  It's definitely more technical than my old Sony point-and-shoot!  I thought it'd be fun to document my photography as I grow from an amateur to a professional, tracking the progression of a vision into reality.  Comment and let me know what you think!  I'd love to hear any advice you have for how I can improve :)


May 16, 2016

Guess who's back....!!

Yep, it's me!!  I guess I just couldn't keep away!  After a brief (okay, maybe not so brief) hiatus, I have bitten by the blogging bug once again and decided to reopen my blog!  Sounds weird I know, but it's my blog and I can do whatever I want to with it, right??

So not only am I back, but I have some very exciting news!  I have been featured as a guest writer on the awesome blog Single Mom, What a Life!  My post is on a topic that not many people know I have personal experience with - depression.  I'm highlighting 5 things everyone show know about this condition, and you can read all about it here!

Stay tuned...there's lots more to come.  I have lots of ideas for new posts and can't wait to get started again.  Thank you all for your support and for sticking with me :)