Category Archives: Intentional Living

Boldly Asking

Boldly Asking | A Simple Haven

This is day 23 in a 31 day series on Living Boldly. To read the other posts, go here. Welcome!

I was always an inquisitive kid. I like to know how things work, why they are the way the are.

My memories are peppered with people both embracing this trait and being completely frustrated by it.

When I was an atheist investigating Christianity, friends and their parents (I was in high school at the time) were so kind and patient, answering my endless questions as best they could or directing me to other resources.

My 10th grade math teacher wasn’t as receptive to my “whys.” In retrospect, algebraic principles don’t necessarily lend themselves to lengthy explanation, but her impatient responses still stung.

I know what it is to feel like you asked a dumb question. To get a harsh response. Or no response at all.

That’s why it can feel bold to ask.

It can feel bold to ask for help in a yarn store when you know nothing about knitting.

It can feel bold to ask to meet up with a blogger you’ve only connected with online.

It can feel bold to ask someone for help when you’re drowning in your circumstances.

This year, it felt bold to ask someone I admire to read (and maybe, possibly endorse…?) my little eBook.

Her blog was the first I ever read consistently and her motto changed not only the way I thought about my home, but life in general. We had already exchanged a few emails and I knew she was warm and genuine.

But it was still scary to put myself and my work out there. Asking felt vulnerable and even a little presumptuous.

It could have ended in nothing.

And that would have been fine. We all get dozens of emails a day, things slip through the cracks, life is busy. Maybe what I said wouldn’t resonate with her. Also ok–not every message is for every person.

That’s what I would have told myself if I’d never heard back from her.

Except I did.

She was kind and gracious and happy to endorse what I wrote.

Something broke inside me that day. It was a short, simple email but it felt like God was encouraging me. It felt like He was reminding me that He noticed what I was doing. That He saw my hopes about writing–and maybe even that He gave them to me in the first place.

And that all came from boldly asking.

When was the last time you asked boldly? (At the yarn store or otherwise :)) What happened?

P.S. You might also want to check out my blogging-friend Emily’s series, 31 Days of Gentleness for the Rest of Us. It compliments a series on boldness well :).

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Boldly Talking About Babies

31 Days of Living Boldly | A Simple Haven

This is day 22 in a 31 day series on Living Boldly. To read the other posts, go here. Welcome!

When it comes to talking about trying to get pregnant, I generally keep my cards pretty close. Probably out of self-preservation, because talking a lot about wanting to have a baby can feel pretty vulnerable.

What if it takes a while? What if it doesn’t happen at all?

Fertility issues are real and hard and I’ve experienced a (small) taste of waiting to conceive a baby.

So while close friends knew when we were trying to get pregnant with Bun–which I was glad for when I needed moral support for the better part of a year that it took–I wasn’t in a big hurry to tell the world when we started trying for baby #3.

Until I remembered my One Word for 2014: Bold.

And suddenly it felt so right to tell people we were hoping for, going to try for, another baby. It still felt risky to put my cards out there; the what ifs never go away.

But I decided I’d rather have people know and hoping with us. And mourning with us, if it ever came to that.

So I told you here that I’d love to have another baby this year.  Then I got pregnant. And I considered boldness again: when do we share the news?

I used to make fun of people who couldn't read pregnancy tests. This time, I needed to take three to get conclusive results. I retract my heckling.

I used to make fun of people who can’t read pregnancy tests. This time, I took three to get conclusive results. I retract my heckling.

Everyone seems to roll differently here: there’s the text everyone after you take the test approach. The wait to see the heartbeat at 9ish weeks plan. Or the no sharing until the first trimester is over.

This being our 3rd child, we did not have a clear plan. Ultimately, we did a random assortment of the first two and everyone pretty much knew before the end of the first trimester.

I know that can feel risky to some, especially those who have lost babies.

But I’ve also seen moms of multiple miscarriages share news of their pregnancy on the early side–so that friends would be able to better understand and support them if anything did happen to the baby.

Over the last year or so, I’ve seen friends miscarry at nine weeks, thirteen weeks, and sixteen weeks. I know a momma who delivered a baby and spent only a few hours with her alive. I know another momma who lost her little guy when he was four.

All of this makes me realize: Boldness is not about how much you say you want a baby or when tell people you’re pregnant. Boldness is always just about living in hope and not fear.

Fear will always be an option. Something can always happen. Children are no safer outside the womb than inside it.

But even after tragedy, hope is an option too. I’m thankful for people who are living that way and encourage others as they do.

Does talking about wanting a baby or being pregnant feel bold to you?

P.S. You might also want to check out my blogging-friend Emily’s series, 31 Days of Gentleness for the Rest of Us. It compliments a series on boldness well :).

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Encouragment Toward Living Boldly

This is day 21 in a 31 day series on Living Boldly. To read the other posts, go here. Welcome!

In light of yesterday’s post in which I regaled you with the unsightly side effects of pregnancy–and living boldly in the midst of them—here are a few other examples of folks who have chosen hope over fear.

Spoiler alert: Everything ended well for them. Hence, encouragement toward living boldly :).

Folks Who Are Living Boldly

SpringGreenCollage

Spring Green: on depression, being an “older” mom, and going gray (or what I’m doing instead of getting a tattoo) :: K. Elizabeth Fleck

I love Kara’s honesty. And her green hair. I had aspirations of a blue streak in college but it never came to be. Kara makes me want to reconsider.

gray-hair-04

The Gray Hair, It’s Growing on Me :: Art of Simple

I’ve never dyed my hair and have just started to tweeze out gray strands here and there. I’m not sure what I’ll do when the gray totally takes over, but I like Tsh’s perspective on keeping her gray: “It’s helping me delight in a more uninhibited version of myself.”

I Couldn’t Have Known :: Allison Vesterfelt for Prodigal Magazine

This is one of my favorite stories of boldness and what unexpected blessings it can lead to. It reminds me of how I first met one of my close friends through blog comments, which turned into emails, then Skype, then phone calls, then visits and family hangouts.

Have you heard any fun stories of boldness lately? Please share!

P.S. You might also want to check out my blogging-friend Emily’s series, 31 Days of Gentleness for the Rest of Us. It compliments a series on boldness well :).

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Boldness in the Face of Insecurity

Boldness and Insecurity | A Simple Haven

This is day 20 in a 31 day series on Living Boldly. To read the other posts, go here. Welcome!

Dum-da-dum. Insecurity. No one’s favorite topic.

But in a series on Living Boldly, I couldn’t leave this one alone.  Because it is insecurities that can stop us from being bold, from living in hope.

I’m no expert, but it seems to me that insecurities stem from fears.

We fear people’s opinions of us (or our homemaking/decorating/cooking abilities), so we feel insecure about inviting folks over. We fear disappointment/hurt/betrayal in relationships so we feel insecure about opening up. We fear not being physically attractive, so we work to hide our perceived flaws.

Let’s camp out on that last one for a minute.

I am 30ish weeks pregnant with baby #3 (still taking name suggestions). Pregnancy, while amazing and miraculous and beautiful, also comes with its pitfalls. I’ll spare you tales of the gorier ones.

However, I will say that I apparently posses a perfect storm of bad genes, small veins, and extra sensitivity to hormonal changes. So for the second time, I’m dealing with a pretty gnarly display of spider and varicose veins.

FYI, it’s not attractive. It’s also rather painful. The support stockings help. (Not attractive either).

And since the pain is relatively manageable, I’m really just left to wallow in the reality that at 32 I have the legs of an 80 year old woman.

Yes, it will probably get a little better after I birth this kid. Yes, there are procedures that can help if I really want to go down that road. Yes, it’s a small price to pay for the privilege of carrying this little life. Yes, I know that my worth and true beauty does not rest my physical appearance.

But no, I did not embrace shorts-season this year. At least not at first.

At first, I held onto capris and leggings as long as possible. I felt safer and less exposed. Come June, I also started to feel hot.

So I decided to practice what I was preaching to myself about living boldly in 2014 and wear those darn leg-revealing clothes.

And you know what happened? Absolutely nothing.

No one made horrified remarks and hid their eyes. My husband didn’t love me any less or think I was any less attractive. My friends probably didn’t even notice or didn’t say anything if they did. 

Bottom line? People who truly love me aren’t going to treat me differently because of physical flaws. And I don’t have to fixate on things that aren’t essential to who I am.

Pretty basic truths but ones I needed reminding of this year.

For me, boldness in the face of insecurities looks like hoping in what God says is true of me despite fears about what other people will think.

What does boldness in the face of insecurity look like for you?

P.S. You might also want to check out my blogging-friend Emily’s series, 31 Days of Gentleness for the Rest of Us. It compliments a series on boldness well :).

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On being safe

This is day 18 & 19 of a 31 day series on Living Boldly. To read the other posts, go here. Welcome!

So far, we’ve talked about bold homemaking and boldness in relationships. As I start to consider other aspects of living boldly, one of my favorite quotes comes to mind:

31 Days of Living Boldly | A Simple Haven

Yes, it’s safer to say no to boldness, to not hope quite so much. To avoid potential awkwardness, discomfort, even failure.

But in my brief experience with greater boldness, it seems like playing it safe isn’t what we were meant for.

Hope your weekend has been full of what you were meant for.

P.S. You might also want to check out my blogging-friend Emily’s series, 31 Days of Gentleness for the Rest of Us. It compliments a series on boldness well :).

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Taking Initiative, in Spite of Fears

Taking Initiative |  A Simple Haven

This is day 16 & 17 of a 31 days series on Living Boldly. To read the other posts, go here. Welcome!

I’ve moved enough to learn that if I want to make friends in my new town, I’m going to have to do the hard work of putting myself out there.

Of taking some initiative. Of not waiting around for everyone to come to my door, but to knock on some doors myself.

As an extrovert, taking initiative in relationships probably comes more naturally to me than some, but it can still get exhausting.

It can also be a little fear-inducing: What if they don’t like me? Is what I’m saying resonating with them at all? Am I going to find any kindred spirits?

So there’s a boldness needed to push past the fears that come with initiating–in hopes of really connecting with people and starting quality friendships.

I’ve also found that other fears can arise after you do find a kindred spirit.

Will it weird her out if I suggest getting together regularly? Does she like me as much as I like her? She said if I was ever in her neck of the woods, I should call her up–did she really mean that?

I’ve done this whole starting-over-and-making-new-friends thing about 50 times more than I’d like and the fears never totally go away.

But this year, my One Word pushed me toward being more intentional in my friendships.

To be more honest and say things that felt a little bold. To lay more cards on the table than I felt completely comfortable with. To put myself in potentially awkward situations.

Maybe I’ve just been lucky. A recipient of extra grace. Or maybe I just made the fears a whole lot bigger than they actually deserve to be.

Because it’s gone really well.

I found a new friend who I really connect with and am super encouraged by–we now get together every couple weeks after the kids are in bed. And on some days, those coffee dates are my lifeline.

But I had to ask.

I joined a Bible study at a church I don’t attend because I heard it was filled with older women and I’ve been craving the wisdom and company of a different generation. They’ve been so kind to me and I’ve loved the different perspectives and experiences represented.

But I had to show up knowing only a couple people. And feeling a bit like an outsider.

I went to a blogging conference and roomed with a friend I knew only from online and another girl I’d never met. They were great (great!) and it was a life-giving weekend.

But I had to say yes to going and yes to any potential awkwardness.

More points for boldness.

 Have you had to start over in relationships lately? Any words of wisdom for the rest of us? 🙂

P.S., you might also want to check out my blogging-friend Emily’s series, 31 Days of Gentleness for the Rest of Us. It compliments a series on boldness well :).

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Boldly Believing the Best in Friendships

Boldly Believing the Best  A Simple Haven

This is day 15 in a 31 day series on Living Boldly. To read the other posts, go here. Welcome!

One fear I can deal with in friendships is the whole “are they mad at me?” thing.

You know.

The conversation ends and you go home and are alone with your thoughts. You start to reflect on all that was said. And start to wonder if maybe what you said wasn’t that great after all.

Did I offend? Was I misunderstood? What does she think of me now?

Or when you haven’t heard from a friend in a while. Maybe she hasn’t called back or you sense a coolness between you that wasn’t there before.

Is she mad? Are we still friends?

Maybe this is all just me. But from what I hear from girlfriends, I kind of doubt it.

The Antidote to “Is She Mad at Me?”

Back in college, a wise woman once told me her policy about all of this: “Believe the best until you hear otherwise.”

In other words, assume that everything is fine unless the friend says differently. Maybe you are already in this habit, but at the time, the concept was revolutionary for me.

You mean I don’t have sit around being anxious and worried about the relationship? I can just trust my friend to tell me if something is wrong?

Yes.

Well, what if she doesn’t? And it really seems like something is wrong?

Ok, then ask: When I said X, did that hurt or offend you? Hey, are you doing ok lately? Is there anything you’d like to talk about?

Easy peasy. Well, maybe it’s not always easy to start those conversations, but the principle is pretty simple: when in doubt, ask.

You know that verse from the Bible about love that everyone likes to quote? My favorite translation of it goes like this:

“Love…is ever ready to believe the best of every person.” 1 Corinthians 13:7, Amplified Version

Love is ready to believe that they’re not mad. Or that they will extend grace if I’ve wronged them. That they’re believing the best about me.

For me, to hope for the best (or ask a question) in the face of fears often feels bold.

But I’ve been trying it for a while now and I like it a whole lot better than anxiously focusing on what may or may not be wrong.

Do you fear what friends may be thinking and not saying?

P.S., you might also want to check out my blogging-friend Emily’s series, 31 Days of Gentleness for the Rest of Us. It compliments a series on boldness well :).

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Boldy Making Friends When You Might Be Moving

Boldly Making Friends When You Might Be Moving  A Simple Haven

This is day 14 in a 31 day series on Living Boldly. To rest the other posts, go here. Welcome!

I told you that I hope for honest, authentic relationships where we bear each other’s burdens and share in one another’s joys. Maybe your hopes are similar.

Well, what if you know you’ll eventually move? Or might move?

Do you continue to invest in the people in your community, spending the time and effort needed to grow those relationships? Or do you check out, pull back, “guard your heart” from getting broken quite so badly when the move eventually happens?

As someone who’s moved 11 times in 8 years, I’ve wrestled with these questions a bit.

But I’ve decided that any pain that comes with leaving is worth the joy of dear friendships.

Yes, It’s Hard

The deeper the friendships, the more it hurts to leave. Boy do I know about that.

Our three years in Dallas was by far the longest we’d lived anywhere. And the friends we made there truly felt like family.

Then we moved. In the middle of winter. To a Midwestern farm town where we knew no one. And I was very, very pregnant with #2. Then my husband had double foot surgery and started grad school. (Cue sad violins).

It was all pretty pitiful. It was also pretty amazing to see how God provided for us during that time. But that’s another story.

But It’s Worth the Effort

Yes, it was a hard season. Yes, I missed my friends in Texas desperately. No, I didn’t always feel like “putting myself out there” and making new ones.

Full disclosure: every time we move, I whine to Hubs about how I don’t want to make new friends/what if no one wants to be my friend? He’s gotten very good at reassuring me.

But at that point, I had also determined that even if we weren’t here in Farm Town long (Lord, I hoped we wouldn’t be here long), I needed to live in community with others while I was here.

Because I believe we were made to go through life’s hills and valleys with other people. Because life is richer when shared with friends. Because I really, really needed people to bring me meals after I had my baby. (Ahem. Cough).

Because anyway, what’s the alternative?

Shallow friendships. No one truly knowing you. Missing out on the blessing of knowing and learning from new friends.

Bummer if/when you move? Totally. But bigger bummer if you miss out on the friendships that could have been.

Have you ever left friends behind? Or struggled with how much to invest in a new place?

PS, Are you moving any time soon? If so, go grab a copy of my free eBook, The Homemaker’s Manifesto: Loving the Home You Have. It’s a quick encouragement to make the most of your new place. 🙂

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