Salvation Sunday: Why I Love My Church

On Easter Sunday, my family went back to our hometown and attended church at my grandma's church.

This is the church I grew up in, a Free Will Baptist church. I appreciate the Biblical base of knowledge that was provided there. But I'm glad I don't attend it regularly anymore.

The congregation (or...audience, I guess, if you aren't used to Christian-ese) hasn't really grown since I was there as a kid. In fact, I think it may have decreased. The people who attend are mostly older people- my grandparents age. My two cousins in their twenties go, with their kids. There is one teenager who attends regularly, and one more who may attend sporadically. So the under twenty members are less than ten.

Maybe because of this, the sermon was a little...patchy. Random bits of random topics. And the Biblical topics talked about were a little doom & gloom. Some stereotypical end of the world stuff.

Let's be clear...I don't disagree with it. It's kind of a central core of my faith that Christ is how you obtain salvation and get into heaven.

But this is what I disagree with- I don't think that hell is a selling point of Christianity. 

Not that I think Christianity is something to be sold...but the great commission is to share the love of Christ and get more people to become Christians.

And I don't think saying "Hey you're going to hell" is the way to do that. I sound like a crazy asshole. And for someone who has lived their whole life without Christ anyway, why do they want to join a group of mean people who only want them if they're willing to act a specific way?

So attending that church highlighted why I love the church I go to now. It doesn't disagree with anything said at the older church.

But the focus is about how to live with Christ today- here, on earth. 

It's about how to talk to people about Jesus in a way that demonstrates what is great about Him, and shows why He is the right choice. It's not about alienating other people- it's about being a light and helping.

So I'm glad I found a place that fits where my life is right now. I hope you do too.

The Best Parenting Advice I've Gotten

 It came from the last place I would have guessed. Literally. I would have rolled my eyes at you if you had told me the person and place, and basically blew it off. But it was what I needed to hear, more than anything else.

"Don't teach that baby to worry."

Did ya read my post about being on the struggle bus? Um, worrying is about all I do sometimes.

So this slapped me. Really, really hard. 

It's so true.

I don't want my little girl to grow up thinking that it's unavoidable to be ridden with anxiety all the time. 

We all feel it- and I'm sure she will. She already does! When she is hungry, she thinks she will be hungry forever. She doesn't care if I'm literally cutting up her food right now- she's screaming to make sure I know.

Part of my job as a mother should be to teach her to manage life and the inevitable stress it brings.

Not to complain, not to feel hopeless, not to take it out on those around me. I am supposed to help her- I am supposed to be a model.

This is one of the only pieces of advice that has felt true, and right, and actually lined up with my own values

I think my issues stem from the fact that people are telling me to act like them...because that's how they made it through this thing called parenting.

And I get that. It's natural to say "Well this is how I did it."

But y'all, I'm a weirdo.

I stupidly have these values where I want to be calm- steady- quiet. I want to endure.

I want to be a lighthouse- steady, shining brightly, built precisely for the storm rather than being tossed around by it. 

That's what I actually want to be as a mother. Not a drill Sargent, not a soft fluffy pillow or bubble wrap...I want to be a lighthouse.

I've been putting so much stress on myself to be a good mother. Really, I just need to be a good person.

I need to do the right thing. Not "the right thing" as a mom, a wife, whatever...just a good damn person.

It's just living out my values, in every relationship, consistently. When I think of it like's not pressure from other people. It's me, doing what I want. 

And that fills me with hope.

Add It To My List: April 2017

 Link-up creators are Lauren from Eat, Drink, & Be Lauren and Bre from Bre Writes. Basically, they are always recommending things to each other- podcasts, television shows, music, blah blah blah. And they figured- why not share even further?

 Y'all, this month has completely snuck up on me (apparently Blogger doesn't recognize snuck as a word...should it be sneaked? That sounds wrong...). Usually I have a draft going all month long that I add things too...guess I didn't do that this month.

  • Up First 
    • This is an NPR podcast (dear God, how I love NPR) that gives you daily news in a 10-20 minute burst. It seems fairly unbiased (ok, NPR may lean a little left but it at least mentions both sides of an issue or just sticks to facts of what is happening). It also doesn't drag on so long that I lose hope for all that is good in the world. 

  • 13 Reasons Why 
    • This is a Netflix show based on Jay Asher's book. It's controversial- deals with rape, suicide, and general morality. Some argue that it glorifies suicide, rather than presenting it as a tragedy...I don't know about that. It's a difficult show to watch, and may be a trigger for some...but it's definitely worth discussing and thinking about. If nothing else, it shows the way we all affect each other, for better or worse, and we need to take more responsibility for our actions. That's not being sensitive, it's just not being a dick.

  • Lularoe Perfect-T 
    •  I finally jumped on the damn LLR bandwagon. Feelings so far: Probably priced too high, leggings are cool but you can find cheaper, pencil skirt (Cassie?) is cute and comfy...maybe could find cheaper, but depends on if you like patterns...but this Perfect-T. I freakin' love it. Can wear with leggins, can belt it with's super cute and fits my hip-y self perfectly (not free love hippie....just short girl with curves hip-y). 

  • The idea of Free Range Parenting 
    •   I vaguely remember this being a big thing a few years as a parent it seems I am way more into this idea than the current wave of helicopter parenting. Basically- give your kids some independence. They'll survive. Statistically speaking, they'll almost certainly be fine. 

  • Sheet Pan Shrimp Boil
    • This was our dinner last night and it was soooo yummy! Although next time we will probably add more shrimp and/or sausage- I was full but we didn't have enough to have leftovers, which is big in our family.

Seems like as good a place as any to ask- I am looking for frugal/budget blogs and also minimalist/simple living blogs. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

What have you been loving this month? 
Link-up & share!

Please, Don't Smile at Me

There is this thing that people say, especially to women:

Smile, it's not that bad! Smile, you're so much prettier that way!

This is super annoying.

So I'm here to say, please don't smile at me.

Not unless you really want to.

Look, I live in the South and we're supposed to be all about hospitality. Which is cool. But...I'm not a natural smile-er.

I try it, at work. And I feel like a super lame phony.


Because I barely laugh when I hear a joke, okay. I don't want to be a performing monkey.

And really, that's what what people want. They don't want to have to admit that life isn't perfect. They don't want to hear an honest answer to "How are you?" They just want to mosey along and pretend everything is fine, so they don't have to deal with your problems.

Well, I just want to say- you don't owe these people anything. 

You don't owe anyone your happiness, except yourself. And if you are happier planning a blog post or outfit in your head then in making pointless chitchat about the weather with a smile on your face- fantastic. DO THAT.

I'm not saying be rude.

And if you notice you are aiming your RBF in a particular person's direction, maybe move that angry-appearing gaze to the floor or ceiling so they don't think you're going to attack them.

But you don't have to smile, and it's BS that anyone believes you owe them one.

You don't owe me anything. But things are that bad, I'm offering to listen. And probably try to give you a glass of wine to help. You're welcome, friend.

Monthly Recommendations April 2017: Big Books

This months topics are big books- specifically books with 500 pages or more. I really wasn't sure how many I would have for this recommendation...thank God for Goodreads. Seriously y'all, I could not blog about books without Goodreads to keep track of all the details I can't remember on my own, haha.

The first book I thought of was Gone With the Wind. I freakin' love this book. When I read it I was living in Colorado and reading this sweeping Southern Saga was a balm to my transplanted little soul. I like that it covers topic like race, love, marriage, society, religion, family, and about a million other topics while showing all the gray areas. Many things in life are hard, and you can be selfish and do the right thing and you can have great intentions and screw everything up's just super interesting and I love it.

Apparently when it comes to big books, I love a Southern saga. This book was the first Pat Conroy novel I ever read...and it was love at first read. Something about his writing grips me and calms me simultaneously.  Normally, flowery and descriptive writing isn't necessarily my thing. But it works beautifully in Conroy's work.

I don't even know where I got this- maybe my local used bookstore? It's a collection of thriller short stories (hopefully that's not cheating). From just plain creepy to gory, from political terror to random physical violence, it represents a good range of the thriller/mystery genre, and I only DNF'd one story. It does give background on the authors, which takes up a lot of pages...I didn't necessarily need it, but it could be helpful to find other works by an author if there is one you really love.

This is my favorite classc. Jane Eyre is a little bit weird, she falls for a pretty weird guy, she definitely struggles, but she's clever and determined and a little snarky and it was remarkably relateable for me in a weird way. I was nervous to read it because I hated Wuthering Heights by her sister Emily Bronte, but this I loved.

What are your favorite big books? Link-up and let us know!

Living on the Struggle bus

Confession: this mom thing is kicking my butt. 

It's hard.

It's hard for me to be a mom and a wife and a cook and a cleaner.

My dogs are being completely ignored.

I just don't know how to juggle it all.

And there are so many people in my life who make me think I should be able to juggle it all. And with a big ass smile on my face.

A friend's husband was talking about how he's had to work a lot of overtime and it puts more work on her and she piped up to say "Oh it's fine, I like my baby."

Right...because only people who dislike their baby find it hard. Only people who dislike their baby actually want their spouse and co-parent around.

My heart melted. And then it started beating really really hard. I had to practically push my husband out the door because I was going to have a panic attack if I continued to share a physical space with this person.

I love my kid. I do. She's a super cool baby.

But I don't know how to have one-on-one quality time with her while also getting dinner on the table for myself and my husband, who works 10+ hours a day and more than deserves a hot dinner. I don't know how to have a floor clean enough for her to crawl around on when her and the dogs are constantly creating a giant mess.

Liking her- loving her- does not give me more hours of the day or the ability to clone myself. 

I think I just need to give up sleep, maybe?

But sleep is sometimes the only time my husband and I get together...the only time I can just sit somewhere and be loved without pressure to do something.

Some people say it would be easier if we lived near our families. I do not like my hometown, so I don't know how being there would help my peace of mind. And since my family mostly just asks why I do what I do or why I don't do the things I don't do, I'm not sure that giving them more opportunities to micromanage me would be helpful.

And saying it would be easier if someone else could take over- it feels like they're saying I'm inherently such a shit mom that I literally need to give her to other people so they can do it better.

WTF? How is THAT encouraging?!?!

I know these people probably aren't intentially trying to hurt me. But they are. They are lashing me emotionally every single time they give an opinion. They are cutting me every time they push something on me that I don't want, and treating me like I'm a freak for wanting anything else.

All I want in this world, is for someone to tell me that it's okay to be a working mom who struggles. 

My life is hard right now. I don't need advice on how to fix it, I don't need pity- or even sympathy. I chose thise life, and there really isn't anything I want to change. But it's hard.

I just need to a friend to toast to the beautiful mess I'm living in.

Show Us Your Books Link-Up: April 2017

It's the best bloggy day of the month-SHOW US YOUR BOOKS!

Also...I have to start actually blogging again. Been severely slacking lately...I'll work on it. Maybe.

Anyway, here's what I've been reading.

Finally got around to it- thanks to the many SUYBers who recommended it. It was superb. Excellent writing, realistic characters, I could identify with literally everyone in some way. It was life and messy and vulnerable and wrong and right and confusing and mysterious and basically it rocked.

This one took longer for me to get into, but by the end I was completely absorbed. It's a debut novel and definitely felt like that at times- especially the present relationships, between Inara and Daniel, came off a little cheesy. But the plot itself was really interesting and imaginative. 

This was my first graphic novel! Definitely a different experience. Because I am so used to reading standard novels, it was admittedly hard for me to slow down and actually pay attention to the graphics...which is a big part of a graphic novel! But I enjoyed the illustrations- I almost wish I had read this first to get an idea of the characters in my head during the rest of the series. Not sure why it was all blue- wish there had been a bit more variation. But overall still really pleasant and interesting.

It's been kind of a slow month, but I'm making really good progress on my yearly goal so I'm cool with it. And my current read (Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams by Sylvia Plath) will finish out Erin's Reading Challenge 6.0 which is nice. 

What have you been reading lately?

Life According to Steph