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….

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: 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

No longer a slave

I am a woman, a wife, a mom, a sister, a daughter and a friend who struggles.

I struggle with anxiety. The smallest things can arouse the biggest fears. I struggle with insecurity. I struggle with trust because I have let myself believe that people won’t stay around too long or I will get disappointed. I struggle with selfishness. I struggle with high expectations, for myself but I also have the tendency to place them on others. I struggle with controlling issues. I struggle with eating enough. And, I struggle with struggling through these isues.

I mostly find it annoying to be confronted with these issues as a wife and as a mother. I find myself wishing I was better than all those things. I want to be a better wife for my husband, one who is confident, loves who she is and doesn’t need to be taken care of too much. For my kids I find myself wishing I would be a more stable mom, one who is always relaxing and fun to be around.

Rationally, I know that my wishful thoughts are probably things all moms dream of. We all want to be the best we can be for those we love. But the reality of life is often more challenging. One I, at least, sometimes just want to ignore.

On Monday I had written about my internship stopping and the way I reacted to it. If you missed the post on stepping into the light, you can read it here. This week I continued to be faced with the reality of where I am at right now. I am still scared and insecure. I realize that I had hoped that all my struggles had magically disappeared, only to find out that they are still there. It is still an everyday battle for me to trust instead of fear and to be confident in all that I am.

You know what, it is tiring to fight that daily battle against the thoughts in my mind. Putting on music I can sing along to usually helps me relax a little. So that was what I did last night. This is a song I want to share with you. A friend of mine sent it to me a while back. I found a different version yesterday, which I really enjoyed. This morning I realized that some of my anxiety had eased down again. I had listened to the song so many times yesterday that the words starting manifesting in my mind.

I just want to encourage you with this song and the words that are being sung out. Let them touch your heart and set you free. I know I will probably have to listen to this song many times more, but the start is there. We are no longer slaves to anything!

❤ Nan

Beautiful Mondays: A Time for Everything

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.”

Today I have some reflective thoughts for you. No pictures, just words.

Yesterday I was encouraged by the message from our pastor on the poetic words “there is a time for everything…”. He reminded us that in this life, nothing is sure and we will go through different seasons. Some hard and challenging and others filled with joy and encouragement. He encouraged us to think about the season we personally are in right now. Are we experiencing a time of laughing or crying? Are we being molded and built up or are we an encouragement to others? He then challenged us to accept our current situation and trust that the One who is in control has the time in His hands. He knows what he is doing. 

I was really encouraged by those words because I am currently going through a challenging period where I am being molded. There are some “bad habits” that I need to learn to let go of and start becoming the woman I am meant to be: a strong, secure, creative and talented person. This process sometimes feels like a season without end. And the farther along I get, the more challenges I am faced with. 

Yesterday I realized that it is okay. It is okay to say I am tired and do not always feel like pressing on. But I need to remember and remind myself that this season too shall pass. And I am in the hands of the One who has ALL things on earth and in heaven in His hands. 

It all comes down to one thing: trust. This is something I, as a woman who wants to have control over everything, really struggle with. I was challenged with that again and it is something I am working on. Trust.

The question that I am faced with is: do I trust that everything has a time and a season and that there is One who has it in control? One who will work all things out for our good, even when we don’t always understand?

On this beautiful Monday, just be still and be blessed. 

Have a beautiful Monday!

❤️ Nan

P.s. Follow me along on Instagram to follow my styling creations! 

Creativity & Styling

The photoshoot I styled a while back (if you missed this post, read it here) was so much fun that me and Nons decided to do another one together. This time it will be a love inspired photoshoot. She also asked me to style her daughter’s first birthday party, which I am very excited about doing.

So yesterday I went on a little shopping spree, gathering some supplies. I thought I’d share them with you to get you excited with me in these new projects! And to make you wonder what I’ll be using them all for…

Styling Follow along on pinterest to see my inspiration for the styling of events, on my board styling.

Also, I have found a new hobby, developing printables and cards. Here is a sneakpreview of something I am working on for an event in our church.

Who am I business card

Keep following my blog to see the finishing results and more creative artwork/home decor.

Have a beautiful day!

❤ Nan

Blog Renovations

I mentioned in a previous post that I have an internship as a stylist! I am really excited about this. Using my creativity in the form of styling gives me energy and gets me excited. I’m really thankful that I have been given this chance so I can learn and develop myself in this area. There really is a lot more to learn and consider than I thought!

I will be doing my internship with Suzanne de Lima. You can check out her website and portfolio if you like.

Partially due to this new opportunity, I will be doing some blog renovations. The first one being a new name. I have given my current name a thought and came to the conclusion that it is too long for it to be catchy. Therefore, my new name will be…..

Creating Beauty.

In the following weeks (maybe even months), I will be working on changing and re-arranging my website till I feel like it really matches who I am and what I want to express.

Also, I have made a facebook page and an instagram account so that you can follow my journey as a stylist intern more closely, since I won’t be blogging about it constantly. On the right side of the page you can click on each and start following me there!

Well, this is it for now.

❤ Nan

From one mom to another

I have been a mom for almost two years now. A mom to two children already. And it’s just now that I’ve realized that some things are “okay” as a mom. This may have taken some of you longer, but me, being a perfectionist and all, think two years is already too long. What  I am finally willing to admit (and after two years it is still hard), is that motherhood, at times, is hard. There, I said it.

I always thought it was my duty, as a mother, to embrace motherhood with all I had. To me, this meant to embrace it without complaining about it being hard because that would not be fair to my kids nor to my husband. God had granted my request to be a mom and I had chosen to be a “stay at home mom”, so complaining was off limits. And for me, saying it was hard or tiring to be a mom at times, went right along with complaining.

With one child, it was easy to embrace motherhood with all I had and to adjust to my baby’s schedule. But then number two arrived. And suddenly I realized that, even though the second baby slept a lot, I suddenly didn’t seem to have enough time nor energy to embrace motherhood (and my household duties) with all I had. I felt like there wasn’t enough of me to attend to every single need, let alone the wants. Yet, when people asked me how life was mothering two babies, I bravely answered, “It’s fine. Great actually. I LOVE being a mom to two kids and the adjustment isn’t all that hard. I’m lucky I have two easy kids.” But on the inside I was saying something WAY different. Something more like, you really want to know how it is? It’s hard and it’s tiring. I feel like I don’t give my eldest enough attention, even though the baby sleeps a lot. I feel like there’s not enough of me to fulfill everyone else’s needs, let alone my own! I have a house that hasn’t been cleaned (thoroughly) for weeks, two children to divide my time and attention between and then there’s also this man who helps out. Oh right, my husband, who also needs my attention. I don’t know how to be enough! I am guessing (actually hoping) that some of you moms out there have had similar thoughts. Otherwise, I guess it really does exist: moms who have it all figured out. It has always been hard for me to admit to my shortcomings, but this time it’s harder. I feel like I have to have it all in a perfect balance and when I look around, I feel like other moms do know how to manage it all perfectly! Who am I to admit to being tired and not always knowing if I am doing it all right? My biggest dream was to be a mom so it shouldn’t be hard, right?

Well, last saturday I went out for a couple of hours. I actually had an interview for an internship as a stylist but I’ll save those exciting details for another time. When I came home, I joined my husband for a cup of coffee and suddenly he said, “I have a lot of respect for how you manage and endure  a day with our kids. These three hours were already exhausting and I wasn’t even able to get anything done!”
When my husband, my all-capable and ever-patient husband (my hero!), said that, I finally realized that it is okay to admit that, at times, motherhood can be challenging. When he said it, I wasn’t mad or upset. It didn’t mean that he loves our children less or that he is weak. It just means that some things are challenging. And that is okay.

When things are challenging, we tend to grow. During those moments when I am tired, when I’m not sure if my children feel and know that I love them, when I yell at my eldest or when I don’t really notice my husband, I learn to hold on to Someone Who is stronger than I am. I learn that it is not in my strength, but in His strength, that I can fully embrace motherhood. When I grow weary, He doesn’t. When I want to give up, He helps me move forward. When I feel like a failure, He shows me who I am in Him.

So, I take a deep breath. I count to ten. And I admit, even though I love motherhood and I love that I am priviliged to be a stay at home mom, it can be exhausting and hard at times. But every single moment, every smile, every kiss and every hug is worth it. And then a compliment from my husband is the cherry on top.

I want to encourage all of you moms to be true to yourself and when people ask how you are doing, be honest. Admit what you are feeling because ironically, it actually helps. Just saying it takes the pressure of and helps you move on.

Keep following for more thoughts on motherhood and fun distractions to inspire you along the way!

❤ Nan

“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

A splash of color

My respect goes out to all the moms out there who are doing the child-rearing on their own. I don’t even want to begin to imagine what it must be like to daily be faced alone with the challenges of motherhood. I tend to complain…and whine…and maybe even cry if my husband is gone two or three days in a row. Okay, if I’m honest, I already hate one night that I am left alone to take care of and place two babies in bed. And I am embarrassed to say so because I know there are plenty of moms out there who are daily faced with the challenge of juggling it all on your own.

Today, in one of my crying and self-pitying moods, I realized I don’t even have the right to be down and demand of my husband that he chooses to help me (again) instead of doing something fun himself (which I strangely enough always encourage him to do). Why? Because it is an honor to be a mom (to TWO HEALTHY kids). And because I CHOSE to stay at home and be a FULLtime mom. But mostly because of all of you who are doing it on your own.

For me, at the end of the day, when the kids are asleep and the house is tidy again, none of the complaints no longer matter. Because a child is worth every single tear and dirty diaper and stressful/chaotic day.The smile on their face and the peaceful look they have when they are asleep re-energizes and brings a splash of color into my life.

And, I don’t have the right to complain because I have a loving, caring and self-sacrificing guy at my side. Who gets out at night to comfort our crying son, who chooses to take us for a walk after a long day at work, who lets me stay in bed on the weekends when he should be the one to finally sleep in late, and who surprises me with one of my favorite flowers even though I took out all my frustrations on him.

Beauty

He truly knows how to add color to my life and make it more beautiful!

So, my respect goes out to all of you moms who are really doing it all on your own. I am sorry for the moments that I complain and think I have it rough. Next time, I will think of you and remind myself that I am blessed.

“She girds herself with strength…Strength and dignity are her clothing and her position is strong and secure…Her children rise up and call her blessed…” Proverbs 31:17a, 25a, 28a 

Happy early mother’s day! And believe in the strength of a mother.

Believe

❤ Nan