40 Days – Day 38

Pay attention to the small things. They could actually be really big things that you can’t even fathom.

Today is Holy Thursday–and Matthew Kelly brings up a REALLY good point. The disciples have a meal with Jesus, much like they do every other evening. BUT–this night is different, very different. Did they know that this was a big deal? That this ordinary event that they experienced daily would actually turn into one of the most famous events of all time?

Because that is what extraordinary things are–they are ordinary events/actions that become something so much bigger.

God loves ordinary things. Matthew Kelly says “I wonder what the disciples were thinking that Thursday morning. You know, did they just think it was another Thursday? Did they just think it was another Passover?

We’ve been talking a lot about awareness, you know, as we made our journey through Lent. I wonder what sort of awareness the disciples had. They spent three years of their lives with Jesus. They probably had dinner with him every night. Did they know this night was different? Did they know this night was special? And when he broke the bread, said the blessing, shared the wine—what kind of awareness did they have about what was happening? Did they realize they were at one of the most pivotal moments in history? Did they realize they were at the most important meal in the history of the world?

Probably not.

I guess the point is that we can wander through life half asleep. We can wander through life unconscious of a lot of really, really, really important things. And God’s constantly trying to wake us up.

And so, as we enter into these very, very sacred days, I think God’s probably trying to do the same thing to us. He’s probably trying to give us a little shake and say, “Wake up. Pay attention. This is important.” And if we do, I think, he always richly rewards us.”

You know what one of the biggest causes of us walking through life half asleep–half unconscious of our surroundings…is the fact that we are not truly HAPPY. That we are in fact, UNHAPPY.

UNHAPPY is not the same as depressed. UNHAPPY is not the same as experiencing a mind-numbing, life changing grief. UNHAPPY is something you have unintentionally conditioned your mind, body and soul to believe is true, right, and the way it should be.

You wake up every morning and go to a job that doesn’t make you smile. You run the same errands and attend the same groups/clubs, etc. And you convince yourself that this is good and that you are HAPPY.

But then think about how you feel when you are in a place that genuinely brings joy to your heart. Think about how light you feel and how it is hard to take that smile off your face. THAT, my friends, is HAPPY.

So wake up. Not just today, but everyday. FIND your happy, follow your JOY. Don’t convince yourself that you are too busy to take care of yourself. Because God (or the Universe or the guiding spirit, or however you want to refer to this super power that is all good and all knowing), wants YOU to be HAPPY in the ordinary things. When you’re happy in the ordinary things, extraordinary things happen.

IMG_1439
He told me, “Mom, I’m too busy” and told his brother to not disturb him because “he’s too busy.” That’s fine little one, as long as you’re finding pure JOY in your business. 

 

Much love and blessings to you today and every day.

XOXO

40 Days – Day 36

It NEVER fails to amaze me when I start to see a pattern of lessons, from different sources, all pointing to the same direction.

Today, in Best Lent Ever, they explore managing the PRESENT to create the future. And what is so crazy about that??? Well, in all of the literature I’m reading, in all of the IG and Facebook posts I’m following–there is a THEME.

What is that theme?

To embrace SILENCE, SOLITUDE and STILLNESS.

Set aside a time every day to reflect upon your life, your meaning, your purpose.

Great lives are made up of action AND rests.

Rests = silence, solitude and stillness.

You will truly find when you put yourself in good headspace, the rest of the day flows easily. Even on bad days. Head space is SO important.

What’s even more, Mercury is in retrograde, that even has the non-believers grasping for air. It’s just off. Have you noticed? Are you cranky for NO reason? Do you want to be all by yourself, when normally you’re a social junkie? It’s no joke. My very dear friend at ShopMyrrh.com explains it so very well. But what YOU need to take out of it all–is do not ignore your body’s natural pull to stay home or be suddenly introverted.

Because, to be the best-version-of-yourself in the future, you must be 100% in the present. And a lot of times, to do that, you must rest.

So, friends, rest.

SILENCE, SOLITUDE, STILLNESS.

If even for 10 minutes.

Then open your eyes, smile, and know that love and peace fill your heart.

XOXO.

40 Days – Day 24

Self-control.

Eeek. The thought makes me cringe. This has always been one of my weakest points. What it is that is “controlling” me changes, but I have ALWAYS been weak in self-control and what I let run my life.

Do you struggle with something enslaving your life? Making you less authentic–more materialistic? It could be your phone. That little piece of technology rules the world. Think about it. When you go out in public (a restaurant, a park, Disney World…) everyone is walking with their heads down, staring at their phones. Or they have headphones on, drowning out any potential for a in person conversation.

Matthew Kelly says today: “You know, one of the ways that we are called as Christians to exercise this self-control is through our appetites. We are creatures of appetite. We have all types of appetites that come every day: appetite for food, appetite for drink, appetite for sleep. Many of these appetites are given to us by God as part of his design of us in order to keep us alive. They’re survival mechanisms, right? But even something very, very good can be twisted and turned into something very, very damaging or even diabolical.

The reality is that these appetites that we have, they’re not going away. There’s no making peace with them. We either control them, or they control us. They’re either our slaves, or we’re they’re slaves. There’s no middle ground. And so living an authentic life, living an integrated life, requires that we learn to control our appetites. You struggle with some, I struggle with others. I like food, I don’t know if you’ve noticed.

The reality is, we all struggle with something when it comes to the area of appetites. What is it that you’re struggling with, and how do you feel God calling you to exercise control over that in your daily life?” 

Today, put in your mind that self-control prevents you from becoming enslaved to something (whatever that something may be). Starting today, become a master of your appetites. Direct your appetites toward those things that are good for you and genuinely help you to become your best self.

Day 24: JOY and GRATITUDE

*Disclaimer: This is NOT ME. This is a stock photo. Though…this IS on my dream board, because one day, this WILL BE me.

yoga

I started my true yoga practice last summer. And I fell in love. It is challenging–yet relaxing and invigorating and allows me to get into my headspace. This morning I just really didn’t want to get out of bed (thanks Daylight Savings)…which means I REALLY didn’t want to go to yoga. But, I got out of bed. I got dressed and I went to yoga. And now I feel amazing.

So…this goes back to the lesson for the day. Self-control. The me a couple of months ago would have chosen sleep over yoga. But–my head wasn’t in the right place. These last few months I’ve been working really hard at getting my head in the right place, through various practices, and this morning, even though I didn’t want to, I got up and I went.

And I feel glorious.

Go do your thing. Set your mind a go. Don’t look back.

XOXO

40 Days – Day 21

LIVE what YOU believe.

Sit down. Write your affirmations–center those affirmations around what you believe. Then put those affirmations EVERYWHERE. Your mirrors, your car, your desk at work, your kitchen. Put them where you can see them all day, every day.

We ALL have beliefs. We ALL believe in things. One might say “well, an atheist doesn’t believe in God.” Right, he doesn’t. But he BELIEVES that there is no God. And so, as Matthew Kelly kindly points out today, there is belief in EVERYTHING. And we ALL have them.

“What creates the split in us, what creates the divided life that we’ve been talking about and reading about in Perfectly Yourself, is when we start to live separate from our beliefs. When we separate our actions from our beliefs, it’s a recipe for disaster. When we separate our actions from what we believe, it’s a recipe for unhappiness. It’s a recipe for misery in many, many different forms.

And so the great challenge of our day to day living is to align those beliefs with our actions. Don’t believe one thing and then do something entirely different. That divides you–and you are striving to become that authentic, best-version-of-yourself.

So, today, sit down and write out your beliefs (I did a lot of them yesterday, so yippee, I’m a step ahead!). Then create affirmations to force you into action to LIVE those beliefs. Also, take the time to pray or meditate specifically on these beliefs. Train your mind to act on them. You’ll be oh so happy you did!

DAY 21: JOY and GRATITUDE

Oh how I love Fridays! I work hours and hours Monday-Thursday so I can set Friday aside to do things I love to do. Today, I’m giving my safe haven (my back deck) a bit of a makeover. This is my favorite place in the world. I’m sitting high in the trees, with the view of Chenal Valley (for those of you that don’t know–it is a gorgeous area of my city that is still plentiful in forests and wildlife). I grab a book or a devotional and I just relax. But, it is in dire need of some TLC, so today, I’m going to do that. And that just makes me giddy.

IMG_0971.JPG

I also love Fridays because I get to go to church with my J Man. I love starting my day with him snuggling up to me and listening to Monsignor address all the precious hearts at J’s school. It just brings a huge smile to my face.

I ALSO love Fridays because I go and pick up J Man early and we do things just the two of us. It is OUR time. His little brother is so demanding, that J sometimes unintentionally gets overlooked. So I love that the two of us have this time together. Where is is the CENTER of my attention. You can see his joy in his eyes and smile. And I love that. I’m so thankful I can give him that joy. Makes this mama heart so very happy.

40 Days – Day 19

Oh today. Living the divided life.

Are you one person at home, another at work, another at church, the list goes on.

How I LOVE this one. Because you see, I have a problem. I have a huge tendency to live my ENTIRE life out in the open. There is very little I hide from the public–and what I hide from the public, I actually hide from EVERYBODY…so, don’t feel left out.

Sometimes that is a good thing…sometimes that is a very bad thing. I don’t know why I do it. Maybe I feel like being open and honest (regardless of the matter), I’ll gain a bigger audience. Maybe I feel like being open and honest will make my audience smaller. But there is only ONE audience that truly matters.

Matthew Kelly says today: “The reality is, at the end of the day, we should be living our lives for an audience of one. And God’s the audience. When we start living our lives for an audience of one, that’s when they start to become radically authentic.”

Who DOESN’T want to be authentic?

Open your heart. You’ll be amazed at what you find!

Ponder this for a second: “There is no faster way to create enduring unhappiness than to act against your beliefs.”

Wow.

Reflect on the areas of your life where you feel divided. Now make a choice. You can choose a new way and move toward the undivided life, or you can ignore what you have discovered and bury yourself in dividedness.

Day 19: JOY and GRATITUDE

learning

I LOVE to learn. LOVE IT. I will dive into books, get lost for hours on the History or Discovery channel. Question people about all kinds of things. I LOVE TO LEARN. It brings me great joy when I expand my knowledge. It brings me great joy when I can hole up for hours at a time and dive into a subject that interests me.

And I am so thankful that I have been finally learning to LISTEN to learn even more. It’s only taken me over 30 years, but hey, I’m getting there.

I love learning so much, I have a Bachelor and Masters degree. But it’s not just about those letters. It’s about so much more. I love sitting down with good friends or strangers alike and sharing together. I got a chance to do that this morning with my church community and it was so uplifting. I wasn’t the only one losing my mind. I wasn’t the only one to admit….”I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I’M DOING.”

So, my point is, sometimes learning is much more than what they can teach you in any school. Sometimes learning is examining YOURSELF and figuring out how to be your best version. Sometimes learning is LISTENING. Sometimes learning is simply just slowing down and being aware.

And that, my friends, is AMAZING.

XOXO.

40 Days – Day 18

Baby Steps.

Break your dream down into baby steps. Why? Because do you REALLY want to be working a job, 40 hours+ a week that doesn’t fulfill you? That doesn’t make you the best-version-of-yourself?

It is so funny (not in a ha ha way, but in a way that I’ve finally stopped to listen kind of way) how loudly He is screaming at me today. First, I get an invitation to a bible study at my church. Next, I read a friend’s blog post about how she is making BIG steps to work toward her ultimate dream. Finally, I open up today’s Best Lent Ever and there it is. In black and white. Take baby steps. The Universe…HE…wants the very best for you and there is a whole universe of awesome out there waiting JUST FOR YOU.

And you know…there is only ONE thing on this planet stopping us from chasing our dreams, preventing us from truly becoming the best-version-of-ourselves, and that ONE thing is fear. Fear of not being good enough. Fear of failure. (Well, you know the only two failures are not trying at all, or quitting…everything else is a life lesson to be learned).

“The most common phrase that appears in the Bible: “Be not afraid.” “Do not be afraid.” Most common thing Jesus said: “Do not be afraid.” The most common thing Jesus said wasn’t “Love everybody.” The most common thing Jesus said wasn’t any of a thousand other things that people would say if you asked them on the street, “What do you think the most common thing Jesus said was?” Most people come up with, “Oh, love other people how you want to be loved,” or, you know, those kinds of things.

But no, the most common thing he said was “Don’t be afraid.”

We’re afraid of losing things. We’re afraid things won’t work out the way we want them to, or hope they will. We’re afraid of failing. And sometimes, we’re afraid of succeeding. But over and over again, God’s message to humanity: “Do not be afraid.” – Matthew Kelly

Today, focus on breaking your big dream down into baby steps. Break it down into baby steps. What are the steps between your current life and your dream? What steps can you take right now without turning your life on its head? Make a commitment to yourself that in the next twenty-four hours you will do something to take a step in the direction of the work that is better suited for you.

Tomorrow, I plan to map out time to start working on a motivation board. Because I am going to create my baby steps and I am going to reach my dream.

DAY 18: JOY and GRATITUDE.

I HATE selfies. I just do not like them. I don’t feel like they capture me the way I want to see myself. So…is this a me thing or a selfie thing? WHAT are those dark circles under my eyes? Those wrinkles around my eyes? Why can I never achieve a good angle? And lets not start on duck lips. I look like a clown when I do those…

IMG_1068

SO…here I am in all my selfie glory. I know you are reading this thinking–this doesn’t seem full of JOY and GRATITUDE. But there’s a point, I promise.

Yes, I hate selfies, but you know what? I do love myself. I love who I have been, mistakes and all, I love who I am and I love who I will become.

I love that my boys love me. I love that I have a tribe. I love that I have a huge family near and far that love me. I love that I have been so blessed in this life of mine.

And that is ALL the joy and gratitude I need.

So, maybe I hate selfies. I’ll just get someone else to take the picture.

XOXO.

A Week in Review

At times we don’t invite God into an area of our life because it’s too human. This Sunday’s Gospel gives us the reassurance that Jesus is right there. He’s right there. He gets it. And now is the time to invite him in. This week’s gospel (John 2:13–25) reveals distrust, anger, completely human emotions. THAT reveals traits of us all. And Jesus is there, waiting for us to bring him into an area(s) of our life(ves).

IMG_0907
Bowling Fun!
IMG_0908
See my “phone!” (This is what he’d rather do than bowl)
IMG_0909
Some amazing Spring inspired diffuser blends with Spring coming just around the corner.
IMG_0916
Love your body. Greens, Ningxia Red, Thieves and Kombucha are great places to start.
IMG_0920
So…when you have two small boys, Stain Remover is a must. This recipe calls for 1/4 c. Castile Soap, 1 cup hydrogen peroxide, 1 capful of Thieves Cleaner, 5 drops of Lemon essential oil and 5 drops of Thieves essential oil.
IMG_1021
When everything starts to blossom, we also welcome sniffles. This trio helps keep those sniffles at bay (20 drops each of Lemon, Lavender, Peppermint, top with carrier oil of your choice)
IMG_1026
Puffy eyes? Grab some cotton rounds, a few drops of Witch Hazel, a few drops of Lavender and about 1/8 cup of distilled water. Dip the rounds in the water mixture, wring them out and place flat in the freezer for about five minutes. Take them out of the freezer, lay over eyes and keep them there for about 10-15 minutes. This would be a great time to do your meditation, too!
IMG_1051
The moon sends all kinds of energy to us. Here are some great diffuser recipes to embrace the power of the moon and get our heads in the right place to accept the energy it sends our way.
IMG_0926
My house can be clean ALL day and he can undo all of that in a matter of SECONDS.
IMG_0929
…SECONDS.
IMG_0930
Results of Stain Remover. I never have understood why they give little boys white uniform shirts?!?!?
IMG_0940
Young Living isn’t just oils. It offers a full line of skin care and makeup. And I LOVE the way it feels on my skin!
IMG_0947
Because I’m raising Little Monsters…this Mama needs all the Stress Away, all the time.
IMG_0952
Because I couldn’t make him fly.
IMG_0958
Gift basket I’m donating to my son’s school auction night. It’s called the “Mama Bear Basket.”  All the Ningxia products (because all mamas need energy), Stress Away, Joy, and Gratitude essential oils (because, well, being a mama is full of stress, joy and gratitude–am I right?). Two Mama Bear cups (great for poolside beverages that need to remain inconspicuous ;)…) and a package of Seedlings baby wipes (for all the messes).
IMG_0962
The Young Living Vitality line is deemed GRAS (generally regarded as safe) for consumption. Add a drop or two of Lime to your guacamole and be ready for all the YUMMY.
IMG_0964
Just another night in Raffsworld.
IMG_0965
There is never a dull moment…
IMG_0966
Thursday night’s full moon. Perfect view from my living room.
IMG_0971
Spring Cleaning — Deck gets a makeover. This is after being power washed. After pics to come next Sunday.
IMG_0979
Got the boys early from school on Friday because it was a GORGEOUS day. We called it our Mommy/Sons Date Day. We went to a local park called Two Rivers and walked all over the forest looking for bears and opossums.
IMG_0980
And…watching the boats on the Arkansas river. And throwing things, like Mommy’s sunglasses, into the river…
IMG_0984
Looking for 4 leaf clovers…
IMG_0986
Needed a break I guess…

IMG_0987

IMG_0990
That face.
IMG_0991
and that one.
IMG_0994
The laughter did this mama heart good.
IMG_0996
After looking at this picture, I immediately went out to order Boswellia Wrinkle Cream. I didn’t pay a penny for it–used my Essential Rewards points and some account credit. Because–where did those wrinkles come from?!?!

IMG_0998

IMG_0999
My life. It has its ups and downs, but I wouldn’t trade these particular moments (like this picture) for anything.
IMG_1001
Next stop–frozen yogurt!

IMG_1005

IMG_1007
This is Clay’s version of Charlie Brown’s Pig Pen