Lessons Learned by a Grieving Mother (A Guest Post)

Wednesday, October 26, 2016 No comments
Grief. It’s difficult to handle and harder to understand. In seven years of living as a grieving mother, you’d think I’d have it all figured out. I can tell you that I most certainly do not, but I have learned to listen to my feelings. I have learned lessons from my grief that I could never have imagined.

I often find myself in the company of moms or dads who, like me, have lost a child. Before my own loss, before delivering my stillborn daughter, the loss of a child was something I thought would never happen. And then it did. 

I learned that I wasn’t alone 

I went from being a happy-go-lucky young twenty something year old girl to a mother faced with burying her child. I was married and had support but felt so alone. Over the course of seven years, I’ve discovered that I am one of millions of mothers who have been forced to move on without a child. Finding this group of moms helped me more than I can ever begin to describe. I hate that anyone has to lose a child, but am forever grateful that there are others who sympathize, understand and have comforted me so many times. 

I learned that it’s normal to feel 

I don’t know that I had ever felt emotions the way that I did after losing my daughter. Her loss gave me a crash course in riding an emotional roller coaster. I was often confused. I’d feel sad, overwhelmed, hopeless, angry and eventually happy, thankful and curious. It took many, many years but I began to realize that it was ok, even normal to grieve for long periods of time. I learned that grief happens in stages and that my feelings were normal. I only wish that someone had explained this to me sooner. 

I learned that my life has meaning

Years of living on without my child have been hard but they’ve helped me to learn the most important lesson, my life has meaning.  I spent many months feeling hopeless. I could have continued to feel sorry for myself but I wanted to do something to help other parents affected by the loss of a child. It may have taken awhile, but I found my life calling through grief. Fast forward to present day, I’m the founder of a nonprofit in South Carolina, our organization provides support to moms and dads who suffer the loss of a pregnancy or infant. We provide support, bereavement services and most importantly, help parents to know that they aren’t alone through their loss. 

Natalie provides support to families throughout the Palmetto state. In 2015, she founded the nonprofit organization Healing Grace Childbirth Services. An advocate for raising awareness of pregnancy and infant loss, Natalie enjoys helping others and educating health care staff on how to better support women and families. Natalie is certified as a Still birth and bereavement doula, she offers non-medical support to those in all stages of pregnancy, post-partum stages and to those dealing with infant or
                                            pregnancy loss.


It's Never Too Late to Follow Your Dreams

Monday, October 24, 2016 19 comments

Hi guys! It's Monday and I am coming off of another very busy weekend. And though being tired is worth it when you have a good time, I still need #allofthecoffee today, and I imagine I will the rest of this week too. The busy never ends.

Honestly, when the busy never ends, it's hard to feel accomplished.  It's hard to look at everything I have going on with clear sight when I too tired to see straight in the first place. But I know that working hard as a Christian, a nanny, a blogger, a VA, a wife, and whatever else I do will be worth it.

It'll be worth it because I am living and working towards what really matters to me. And I never want to lose that focus, because I am very thankful to have found what I am passionate about. Some people never quite figure out their passion. And some people know exactly what they would like to do, but they never do it because of fear. Some people have a lot of passions and they don't know which one to pursue, so they don't pursue any of them.

I know at least one person in each of those scenarios and it makes me so sad. I understand that life is harder for some people than it is for others. Life isn't always rainbows and unicorns, and I never want to be naive' or unrealistic. And yes, if I am honest, I actually have a pretty cushy life. But I still have to work long and hard on my dreams. They haven't just fallen in my lap and I have not "arrived" yet. But I know what I want to do, and as long as God continues to give me that passion, I am going to embrace it and run with it.

Why I Will Never Say "I'm Poor"

Wednesday, October 19, 2016 5 comments

There's just no way around it, you guys- adulting is hard. There's always something left on the to-do list, always a goal or two that has remained unreached, and always a bill to pay.

Ask any marriage counselor and I bet they'll tell you that finances are really tough on a marriage, and being financially secure is important for that reason (along with others of course).

And financial responsibility is, of course, important. We need to be good stewards of our money. I struggle in that area and want to improve. But sometimes, financial hardship can become an obsession, which causes a completely different problem.

Making Memories Versus Getting Rest

Monday, October 17, 2016 29 comments

Do you ever feel less rested when you've had more time to rest? I have a feeling there are a lot of head-nods and raised hands to that question. Let's face it- we are often just really terrible at resting. But sometimes, a lack of rest is totally worth it when it means you've been enjoying life. Sometimes, the bags under our eyes are actually smiling and jovially shouting "Hey, look at me! Sure, I look like crap. But I also had the best weekend everrrr"!

I'm assuming I'm not the only one who's eye-bags talk...oh, I am? Ooops! ;)

But seriously though. I believe in resting and making sure we take care of ourselves, but sometimes we need to be thankful for our exhaustion, because we know that the cause of it was well worth the side effects.

Today I am coming off of a four day weekend, but I feel like I haven't gotten any rest. Here are a few of the reasons I have bags under my eyes today:

1.) I was able to spend the day with my grandparents, mom, and brother on the farm on Thursday. We make it a habit to spend as much time together as possible when they are in town, so driving over was a must! And if you follow me on Instagram Stories, you know that my day also included lots of puppy love and piggie adventures. I am learning that life on the farm is never dull.
2.) On Friday, wonderful husband surprised me with a full day of birthday plans that included a bike ride (even though he hates riding bikes) and a trip to Build-A-Bear (yes, I am four years old- and I like it that way).
3.) We drove back to the farm for a delicious steak dinner that my mom made to celebrate my 26th birthday. It was so good. Amazing, actually.
4.) My brother came over for the weekend and we spent multiple hours out at the mall and in Charlotte (the mall always wears me out!). But we did get some amazing Korean fried chicken and home made donuts out of it!
5.) I was able to work on blog-related things for multiple hours despite a very busy weekend. Unfortunately, I didn't get any extra posts written, but I accomplished some other important tasks, so it was still a win.
making memories versus getting rest

I will probably be dragging for the next day or so, but when I look back and see all the blessings of my weekend, I know that my eye-bags and low energy are completely worth it.

I'd rather have amazing memories than a few extra, restful days.

Did you have a good weekend? Do you think that sometimes being tired is worth it?

Coffee Sips and Lovely Links: Birthday Edition

Friday, October 14, 2016 6 comments
coffee sips lovely links birthday

Happy Friday, friends! I can't tell you how excited I am about this day. If you read my latest post, then you know that I don't get as much time with the hubby as I'd like, so it makes my heart do a little pitter-patter that today I get to spend all day with him as we celebrate my 26th birthday. I don't know what we are going to be doing, but he says he has a plan :) Then, we will meet my parents, brother, and grandparents for dinner. It's going to be a good day!

And since it's the middle of October now (say WHATTTTT?!), Fall weather is actually, legitimately here for a lot of us. I hope you are making the most of this time. I am trying to. I have already marked two major items off of my Fall Bucket List: hosting a pumpkin party and going to a pumpkin patch. I am proud of myself for checking those off, and I want to keep at it. I hope you will too. Fall doesn't feel like it lasts very long, unfortunately, so we would be wise to carpe diem the heck out of this month!

So enjoy today. Grab a cup of coffee, sit back in your comfiest of chairs, and enjoy these links that I have picked for you!

Happy Birthday- Coffee sips and lovely links

First of all, don't forget about Pinterest Love Friday. If you are unfamiliar with this, it's a link-up I do on The Peculiar Treasure Facebook page. The link-up is simple, quick, and beneficial to all who participate. Come share a pin you'd like some love on or ask for followers. We'd love to have you!

Do you have a Barnabas? A Barnabas is someone who is constantly pointing you to and encouraging you in God. Julie of The Hallway Initiative explains this concept and offers some encouragement whether you have a friend like that or not.

I am so excited to share this Facebook post by Summer of Coffee with Summer. She has teamed up with Emergen-C to share their clean water campaign for Ethiopia. Seriously, check it out. A simple post on Instagram can help give clean water to the people of Ethiopia!

And finally, on a lighter note, earlier this week Rachel of The Confused Millennial shared a super-fun post about what she has learned from the Gilmore Girls. For anyone who is feeling excited about the show's return in November, you need to read this!

Seminary Wife Life: The Blessings and the Challenges

Wednesday, October 12, 2016 8 comments

When Taylor and I packed up and moved to Charlotte last year, we knew we were in for an adventure. We had never moved away together. We had never lived in a city, and we only knew a handful of people. We were excited for our first big adventure as a married couple, but also completely unsure of what to expect.

Our naive little selves had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. We didn't know how bad the Charlotte traffic was (not really, anyway), we didn't know it would suddenly be harder than ever to make friends, and we didn't know it would take us months upon months to decide on a church.

We knew that we were entering uncharted territory, and we knew that it wouldn't be easy. We expected great things and hard things, and that's exactly what we've gotten.

Seminary Wife Life is hard stuff, you guys! It has more challenges than I anticipated, but it has also come with many blessings.

Challenge #1- We are learning a lot...

Seminary Wife Life comes with lots of lessons to learn.
Learning is hard, because learning means seeing our faults. Nuff' said.

Blessing #1- We are learning a lot!

I am learning to be more patient, kind, and helpful even when I want to be selfish. I am slowwwwwly learning to be more of the person that God has called me to be, even if it's taking a lot longer than I would like it to! Isn't it funny that one of our biggest challenges is also one of our greatest blessings?!

Challenge #2- "Being well-rested" is quite possibly a myth...

Seriously, what is it about this stage of life that turns me into a zombie? It doesn't matter if I get enough sleep, have a relaxed day at work, or anything else for that matter- I'm still exhausted all the time. And poor Taylor never gets a break. He has a better excuse than I do.

Blessing #2- We are Adulting more efficiently

Well, sometimes we are anyway. Adulting is hard and honestly we're not very good at it, but we are getting there. Being at least an hour away from both sets of families and having to rent a home, take care of our cars, and be responsible adults (HA!) has not been easy, but I feel like maybe me and Taylor are starting to see what we need to do to #adultsuccessfully. Baby-steps, my friends... baby steps.

Challenge #3 And speaking of Taylor, has anyone seen my husband?!

I knew I would see Taylor less. It comes with any sort of grad school situation. But good grief, Charlie Brown! Unless I stay up wayyyy past my bed time or go eat a hot dog multiple times a week at the restaurant Taylor works at, I barely see him. And we do our best to make it work. Taylor sometimes brings me lunch on his break or meets me for lunch. And me? I have never eaten so many flippin' hot dogs in my entire life. They are very good, but seriously, I'm so sick of hot dogs!

Blessing #3 We cherish our time together

Taylor and I know now that during this season, we are just going to see each other less. We have less time for dates, to hang out with friends, or to go on trips. So when we do have opportunities for such things, we usually take them. Sometimes our trips have to be solo. Taylor has gone back to the mountains without me a couple of times, and I've gone to the beach without him. It's not ideal, but we make it work. And when we have time together, I think we better-understand now that we need to cherish that time.

Honestly, there are more challenges than this, and there are more blessings. If you guys are interested, I could definitely do a second installment or something similar. If that's something you'd like to see, let me know in the comments.

God is teaching us so much. It can be obnoxious when we'd rather have a cushy life than be stretched and challenged, but God is faithful and it's a good thing He doesn't just do what we want Him to do, or base His plans, His will, or His timing on how we are feeling.

Be encouraged, wonderfuls! Things take time.

Do You Create Your Own Limitations? (Mug-spiration Monday)

Monday, October 10, 2016 20 comments
*This post was originally published in May of 2016 and has since been revamped*

I grew up loving basketball. My dad and I would watch every Duke game we could, along with quite a few WNBA games. I began taking basketball seriously in the 5th grade, and I would watch ESPN in the mornings, go out and shoot around in our driveway at lunch time, and watch WNBA in the afternoons. That's practically all I did the summer before my 6th grade year. I then went on to play basketball through middle and high school.

For most of my basketball career, I played at a small Christian school. I was one of the top scorers in my conference, and by the end of my 10th grade season, I had scored 1,000 points. I loved the game so much.

But in 11th grade, I transferred to public school. I loved the school itself and had a good circle of friends, but when it came to basketball, I was miserable. It's true that some of my experiences at the Christian school had not prepared me for the level of play at public school. But before I even gave myself a real chance, I had myself convinced that I could not play at that level. I was so anxious and nervous at practices and in games because of the perceptions I assumed people had of me.

I rarely made it off the bench. Some of that was just the coach. But some of it was because I had not shown my full potential at practices. And honestly, I was just as capable as many of those girls. Was I the best? No. I was definitely lower on the totem pole than I had been used to at my small private school. But I was still capable. I was still talented. But because I had psyched myself out and convinced myself I wasn't good enough, I limited what I was able to accomplish.

Michael Jordan once said, "Never say never, because limits, like fears, are often just illusions"

Do you limit yourself by your own, faulty perception of things? Do you tell yourself that you cannot accomplish your goals? Do you give into your fear of failure and limit your full potential? Please stop.

Know that you are so very capable!

Chase Your Dreams

I'm not going to tell you that you can play in the NBA if you're not even 5 feet tall and have a limp. I'm not going to tell you that you can be the next Lady Gaga if you can't carry a tune. I am also not going to tell you that you can do it all! Part of what we accomplish is up to God's plan for our lives, but the majority of things, especially those that we are good at and passionate about, can be accomplished if we work hard and decide not to quit.

Do you want to be a full-time blogger like I do? Well then spend every moment of free time working towards that goal and improving. 

Do you want to be an artist, but your scared the money won't be good enough? Do what you love. If you can't make it financially at first, then do it part-time, until it becomes a more consistent revenue source.

Or maybe you want to work in the corporate world, but you are terrified they will eat you alive. Don't give in to that fear. Put on your big-girl panties and go take on the world! Chances are, if you give yourself the chance, you'll do amazing things!

Don't limit yourself like I did. I was capable, but I gave in.

A Little Perspective Goes a Long Way

I would like to add though, if there is something that you have "failed" at, don't look at it in such a negative light. Even though I wish I had given myself a chance to succeed, my decline in basketball was actually what God used to help me realize I didn't want to play ball in college. For years, that had been my dream, but because of my "failure", I realized that I was done with competitive sports, and that was actually an extremely positive thing for me.

So in areas where you don't do as well as you had hoped, don't lose perspective. Look at what good came from it, and how it may have actually benefited you.

Today is a new day, my friends. Make it count for something grand. Don't limit yourself, don't be afraid, and don't give up!

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