Lessons Learned

It has been a while since I have written something. I have missed three Beautiful Mondays in a row. I have been debating whether or not I should continue with this blog because I haven’t felt inspired. I decided to keep my blog, but to stop with Beautiful Mondays. Right now it is too much to HAVE to write something every monday. I don’t always have something to write about, which made me just post whatever.

In the last weeks, my mind has been full (like usual). And things have been bottling up on the inside. Good things have happened to. So I just want to share some of the things I have been “dealing” with these last weeks.

  1. Blessings or encouragement sometimes come from people whom you least expect it.  I have been working on promoting and selling some handmade things. If you have been following me along on facebook or instagram, you will have seen some of my work. Someone asked me to make some signs for a wedding she is styling. I never expected her to come to me. But in this act I was shown to never be too quick to judge and that people whom you don’t expect it from are often used to give you an extra nudge of encouragement.
  2. Being selfless is hard. Wow, I have been reflecting a lot on my actions and thoughts. And my conclusion is, life is too often centered around me. And I often kind of expect people to just follow along. I realize, this is human nature. We all want life to revolve around us, which is what can make loving the other sometimes so hard. But I am learning to be selfless and invest, even when I’m tired. I am starting this at home because this is where it is easiest to be selfish. I have such a giving and selfless husband, that I sometimes forget he wants to be truly heard as well. He also needs time and attention.
  3. Masks are too real in this world. I have discovered that it is too easy to pretend. Sometimes I feel like every person wears a mask, all the time, me included. And that’s what makes friendships hard. We are too scared to be ourselves, so we adjust to each and every situation. We have a work mask, a church mask, a shopping mask, a friendship mask and even a family mask. We adjust in a different way to each person and situation. This isn’t always a bad thing, but it becomes bad when we can no longer be honest and true to ourselves. I struggle with this. I have been working on “unmasking” myself and the more I do, the more I realize how we have lost ourselves in a world where there are high expectations.
  4. Honesty is what heals. I think this one is linked to the previous one. But I have discovered that, due to us wearing masks, we find it hard to be honest. We all keep our thoughts and even emotions to ourselves because what if we hurt someone? Or what if we miss an opportunity due to honesty? But bottling up our thoughts and emotions only brings more damage. Not necessarily to someone else, but to our own hearts. It is the first step to grudges and anger. Recently I read that we need to guard our hearts from grudges and anger. Why? It leads to more damage. And will eventually damage the relationship we have.

I guess what I want to say is to count your blessings. Don’t be too quick to judge. We never know where someone is coming from or why he acts the way he does. Being selfless is hard, but it is worth working at. We can enjoy more blessings when we stop focussing on ourselves. Try taking of your masks. I know I am. It is scary, but don’t you want to be the real you? And lastly, practice being honest. For some of you, that may be sharing the hurts you have inside. For others, it means learning to say “I love you” or “I am proud of you”.

We are all on a journey. Each one with his own struggles. And that’s okay. Because that is life. And that will ultimately make us cling more to the Father.

Guard your heart

Have you ever felt betrayed? Let down? Not needed? Worthless? So have I. I thought I easily moved on from those feelings but lately I have discovered letting go is not as easy as I thought. This last year I have felt a lot of hurt due to betrayal, being let down and feeling useless. And this last week those feelings have really reached a boiling point. I have no peace in my mind and have a hard time focussing. I have been trying to let my feelings out but they are hard and tiring and hurtful to deal with.

But just now, after having talked with a friend, the words “above all else guard your heart” came to mind. I thought, okay, I guess I haven’t been doing that well since my heart is aching. But what does that even mean? How do I guard my heart? So I decided to look into it because I really want to start dealing with these feelings. I want a peaceful heart and mind! 

What I discovered is that we guard our hearts by guarding our thoughts. When we believe lies that we (or others) tell ourselves or when our thoughts are just plain negative, we start ruining our heart. What we feed our mind, leads to our hearts. So by not guarding our thoughts, we start poisoning our hearts as well! 

What we need to learn to do is to examine our thoughts continually. If our thoughts are uplifting, our hearts will start doing the same! I am someone who hates changing the thoughts because I’m already way too busy in my mind. But I guess that if I want to experience freedom and a happy heart, I need to start fighting my thoughts. 

I need to think of whatever is lovely, pure, true, just, admirable, praiseworthy….

Beautiful Mondays: Gold Foil Home Decor

I had promised to show you the pictures of my printable “Love has a Name”. I will be sharing them with you today. For those of you who missed my post with the free printable, you can read it here.

With the free printable, I wanted to try out the gold foil that I had ordered a while ago. I printed the quote on patterned scrapbook paper. Then, using a laminator, I added the gold foil to it. I really like the effect it gives. It’s a fun way to add some inspiring quotes to your home decor!

Enjoy the results with me!

Home Decor Gold

Free Printable

Free Printable : September Calendar

I decided to try something new last week. I made a calendar for the month September! I have been trying to set up a small business and I have had some orders and events to style already. I thought having a monthly calendar to hang above my desk would be handy for my assignments.

I really like how it turned out and I am going to do this every month now. I think my favorite part is the notes section. I’m someone who loves to just jot down the random things I have to do or make a checklist. Having a space on my calendar where I could do that was a must for me.

Each month you can download this calendar for free! I hope you enjoy it and find it useful. Let me know in the comments below!

September

You can download and print the calender here.

Have a great Sunday!

❤ Nan

Receiving Blessings

I am guilty of wanting to control things. A lot of things. Practically everything that is in my power to control. This has been a character trait of mine as long as I can remember. I was quite the bossy little girl. I have mentioned it before, letting go is hard for me.

Today I was able to visit with a dear friend of mine. She reminded me of the fact that when we try to control everything in our lives, we sometimes miss out on the blessings that Someone has in store for us. We get so focussed on the way we want things to go and get scared that we will lose control, that we (can) start shutting out the good things as well.She pointed out the importance of trust to me. Trust is what is required when we want to let go of something. Trust that it will turn out alright, no matter what. Trust that someone else is taking care of it.

So when my babies were both sleeping, I took some time to think about this. I came across the following words:

“A new heart will I give you and a new spirit will I put within you…and I will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes”. 

WOW. I have been given a new heart and a new spirit. One that can let go, when my flesh can’t. One that can trust, when my flesh is too scared to.

I am going through a changing process right now. One where I am finding out who I am and dealing with insecurities, fears and exhaustion. When going through that kind of process, it gets harder and harder to be in control because you reach a point that feels like an explosion. The point which I am nearing right now. There is so much buried away in my heart, things I thought I could handle, and it is all boiling up now. And I am suddenly clueless. Daily I find myself wondering how to keep fighting this battle and if I will ever get through it and become “new”. I start realizing that I really can’t do it all on my own. I need to learn to let go.

So that is what I am doing now. I am starting real small. For me, that means admitting that at times I am too tired to make my husband’s lunch for me, something that’s hard for me to admit. I’m learning to let other people help out when I am too tired to deal with it all. I’m learning to let people get to know the real me. Slowly I am learning what it means to let go and trust.

And that is why I found those words so encouraging. I have a new heart and a new spirit. All I need to choose is, which one am I letting have control? My old, control-obsessed heart or my new heart and spirit, which is filled with love, peace, patience, joy, self-control and gentleness?

Beautiful Mondays: Forever

Lately, I am starting to grasp more and more what Jesus did for us when He died upon the cross. I grew up with all the Bible stories, so believing them was natural for me. I started realizing, though, that I never fully understood the depth of His love for us. I never quite knew the pain and fear that went along with His death.

A few weeks ago I was talking with someone about the hurts we can be faced with. And I said that no one would willingly take those pains on themselves so someone else can live in freedom. As soon as those words left my mouth, I finally felt like I understood what happened on that cross. Because there has been Someone who willingly took all my pain, all my fears, all my insecurities, all my struggles and challenges upon Himself so that I can live in freedom. When we come to that point of realization, when we can grasp how deep His love is, how far He went for us, then we start stepping more  into the freedom that is ours to have.

There is a song that is being listened to in our house a lot these last days. What we love most is the talking that happens in between. I want to share it with you and I hope that you can start grasping what happened on that cross and with me, slowly start stepping into freedom.

So on this Monday, remember these words that I made into a printable for you (later this week I will show pictures of it displayed in my house, but I will be trying out gold foil first). I have two different versions for you!

Love has a NameClick here for this first printable.

Hope has a nameAnd click here for the second one.

Have a beautiful Monday!

❤ Nan

Beautiful Mondays: Be Still and Create

I have been busy this last week. Busy with thinking. Busy with worrying. Busy with my son’s birthday. And busy with bringing my creative side into action. The ironic thing is that all this ‘busy-ness’ has left me wordless. There have been too many words and thoughts in my mind that I don’t even know what to write down anymore.

I have learned this weekend, though, the importance of communicating and not giving up, especially when things get rough. At home, we are going through some issues that can, at times, get very stressful. The entire atmosphere in our home threatens to get polluted by our negativity and hurt feelings then. With two small children that is not good. But talking and learning to take some rest helps. And I want to just encourage you to be still and take a step back when life gets a bit overwhelming.

Like I said, I have been busy with pursuing my creative dreams. I have been promoting some of my things on my instagram and facebook account. And I have been putting quite some thought into a name for myself. I just want to share some pictures of what I have been up to.

Party Accessories

Gift Wrapping

Follow me here on instagram to see more of my creativity!

Have a beautiful Monday!

❤ Nan

Beautiful Mondays: Waves and Wind

I think one of the hardest things in life is letting go and saying goodbye. With letting go comes a feeling of helplesness, of losing control and of emptiness.

In my life, I have moved about ten times. Each time I had to let go and say goodbye. As strange as it may sound, this just became a natural part of my life. I was used to moving on to something new. But the ironic thing is that you never get used to a goodbye. Letting go never becomes easy.

I struggle with this sometimes because my life still consists of goodbyes and learning to move on. I have found out that learning to let go is a part of life and a struggle that will never fully stop here on earth. There will always be goodbyes and things we have to let go of. But how we deal with those issues is a big part of the process.

This last week I came to the conclusion that all those years when I found it hard to have to move again or to say goodbye again, I just kept it all bottled inside. It was a part of my life, something I was used to. Yet because I never fully talked about the way I felt or let my emotions just pour out, I  learned to isolate myself. I keep people at a safe distance, not wanting to let them get to know the real me because I’m scared I’ll end up being a disappointment which would result in losing a friendship. In this process, I lost myself. And I wound up finding my identity in an eating disorder. But, here’s the thing, at one point in life you reach a point where you can no longer keep everything bottled inside. All those emotions started trying to reach the surface because you just finally want to BREATHE and feel ALIVE and be SEEN. That is the point I am starting to reach.

Yes, goodbyes are awful. Letting go of things hurts and is hard. And it is easiest to blame others. I could blame my parents for making the decision to move. But that wouldn’t be fair, since they were only being obedient to their calling. And on top of that, they have had to leave behind as much as me and say just as many (or maybe more) goodbyes. Or I could then blame God, since He’s the One who’s calling my parents are following. But that also wouldn’t be right because God promised that He has GOOD plans for us, to give us  hope and a future. Then the natural thing for me to do is to blame myself. I’m not fun enough or good enough or spontaneous enough. But in doing that, I’m not being fair to myself.

So, then, what would be the right thing to do? One of the hardest things: to learn to let go. 

I heard the following song from Bethel music last week and this sentence really stood out to me: So let go my soul and trust in Him.The waves and wind still know His name.

Our situations my constanstly change, as do our emotions. But there is One who never does.

If you are struggling or feeling hurt or alone or tired, I encourage you to listen to this song today.

And remember, the waves and wind still know His name! Rest in that.

Have a beautiful Monday!

❤ Nan

Beautiful Mondays: A lemony memory

Lemon Bars

When I was in high school, I lived in a dorm for a while because my parents were doing missionary work in a small town that was located (or isolated) on top of a mountain. My sister and I lived with a family and about 6 other kids. Each night, there would be a home-baked snack waiting for us. My all-time favorite was the lemon bar. If I ate one, I had to eat another one…and another one…and just one more.

This, however, became quite a conflict when I started dieting. All other snacks (and food) I could easily avoid and ignore. The lemon bar, however, was my weakness. When those were baked, a plate full would be beckoning me to take not just one, but a couple more.When my dieting started to become an obsession and my dorm-mom starting worrying, the lemon bar started making a weekly appearance. And my dorm-mom would lovinlgy tell me that she had made lemon bars, just for me. I hated this. All I wanted was to eat nothing, definitely not anything sweet, but there was that plate with lemon bars, begging me to eat just one. But one was never enough. So, they were my weakness. I don’t think I stopped eating them during that time. Maybe I just limited the amount.

Well, back in Holland, I got to know my husband who loves all things lemony. So I decided to ask my dorm-mom for her recipe and make him lemon bars. I was SHOCKED when I saw the ingredients. No wonder my dorm-mom loved feeding the way too skinny me those bars! The amount of sugar (and butter) would make any dieting person look the other way.

These lemon bars still are a weakness to me. And now have become a special request from my husband and baby son. I enjoy eating them on a warm summer day. And they always bring back the memories of my times in the dorm.

Lemon Bars

Lemon Bars by CB

So, for all you lemon-lovers and those with a sweet tooth, here is a lemon bar recipe you must give a try. You won’t regret them.

Recipe for Lemon Bars

Lemon Bars
Ingredients:
1/2 cup flour
2/3 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 Tablespoons flour
1/4 cup lemon juice

How to make it:
Combine flour, sugar and butter.
Pat into greased 13×9 inch baking pan.
Bake at 350 F for 20 mintues.
Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk eggs, sugar, flour and lemon juice until frothy. Pour over the hot crust.
Bake ate 350 F for 20-25 minutes or until light golden brown.
Cool on wire rack.
Dust with powdered sugar.
Cut into squares.

Enjoy this recipe and let me know what you think!

Have a beautiful Monday!

❤ Nan

P.s. Don’t forget to follow me on instagram, where you can follow my journey as a beginning stylist.

Beautiful Mondays: DIY – Pass a Note

I don’t know how you spent your hours during high school, but me and one of my best friends spent most of our hours passing notes. There always was something of utter importance to say that could not wait till the end of the period. Usually our notes included our weekly crushes, whom we had the perfect code names for. Silly but memorable times.

Now, each living on different continents, we still spend our time passing notes. It now takes a bit longer for our notes to get to each other, but the tradition of writing important news to each other has remained. Our weekly crushes have been replace by stories about our husbands and our dramatic high school issues have been replaced with sharing the reality of our lives.

Passing Notes

Sending someone a card or letter was very common years ago. Now with internet and whatsapp, taking the time to send someone a handwritten letter or a postcard seems unnecessary and old-fashioned. But there is a lot of joy in finding a card in your actual mailbox instead of your email. Someone taking the time to write down what is going on in their lives and encouraging is a treat.

Today I want to encourage you to do this yourself. I guess I have a little DIY for you after all. Write someone a letter. Or if you really want to put some effort into it, you can make someone a card like I did!

DIY Postcard

Don’t forget to send it to them. Go to the post office, by a stamp and mail it. It will definitely surprise someone and put a smile on their face.

Have a beautiful Monday!

❤ Nan