All posts by Jamie Dahl

God’s Got This!

If you haven’t been living under a rock for the past few years, (oh wait, we all have been living under a rock this past year) you’re probably familiar with the many self help gurus that have been popping up all over recently. Between social media and morning talk shows there is always someone encouraging us to be our better self, reach for the stars, and hustle till we make it. 

I always enjoy and value a good “rah rah” session and often learn a lot of great tips about time management, leadership, and dreaming big from some of these experts. But I’ve found one particular mantra, that gets thrown around frequently, can actually NOT be helpful. You’ve probably heard it. Ready?

“You’ve got this!”

Oh, if you could see the extent of my eye roll right now, you would laugh. I have disliked these three words for quite some time now, and I’ll tell you a funny story about it. Years ago, I was feeling particularly overwhelmed with the multiple plates I was spinning in my life. Being a type-A, enneagram 2, the pressure to get everything done was at an all time high, and I was feeling very inadequate in my abilities. These feelings had been building over a couple of days. On this particular morning I was sharing with my husband how stressed out I was feeling. (I admit, I was probably throwing myself a pretty big pity party too.)

My husband, being the caring supportive guy he is, was trying to encourage me and drag me out of the mucky pit I had thrown myself into. In his zeal to help, he looked at me and said, “Babe, you’ve got this!” Uh oh. That did it. Batten down the hatches people, the storm just got unleashed. I lost it, all over his sweet supportive self. I responded, “What?! I don’t GOT THIS. Can’t you see I’m losing it here! I don’t GOT anything! If I HAD this, I wouldn’t be in this state right now!” 

Open mouth, insert foot. The poor guy slinked off justifiably mad that I had lashed out at him, and I felt terrible. I realized that my reaction was wrong and that I had hurt him with my thoughtless words. But I also realized that I was right. I didn’t have it all together. I didn’t have the capability to do it all and handle the situation, and the thought of trying to do it myself felt like a weight I couldn’t bear. 

Once I had calmed down, I went upstairs and apologized to him. I told him I knew he was only trying to help and it was wrong for me to respond the way I did.  And as we talked a solution came to my mind. We decided that whenever situations like these presented themselves in the future, instead of saying, “You’ve got this,” we now say, “GOD’S got this.” Gamechanger. 

Ladies and gentlemen, we don’t have to live under the pressure of holding it all together. The weight of life is so great at times, and it will crush us if we believe that we are the only ones capable of holding it up. Yes, there are things that “we’ve got”, and we are responsible for putting in a strong effort toward those things we want to see manifest in our lives. But it’s not our job to pull the entire load. That’s the beauty of trusting in our Heavenly Father. Newsflash. His muscles are a bit stronger than ours. Why not let Him do some of the heavy lifting? 

Psalm 46:1 says, “God is our refuge and strength always ready to help in times of trouble.” 

He’s ready to help! God’s sitting there poised and ready to jump in and take the weight of that burden you have. I challenge you to try this the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed and you or someone around you is tempted to say that “you’ve got this”. Instead, say out loud, “God’s got this!” I can guarantee that a shift will happen in your spirit. The crippling responsibility and weight of doing it on your own will suddenly lift. And you’ll be free to navigate through whatever it is that you’re experiencing knowing that you have the best kind of help there is.  

Hand Savior!

If you’re a child of the 80’s, like myself, you may remember the Reece’s Peanut Butter Cup commercial where two people walking down the street casually bump into each other and accidentally combine their chocolate bar and tub of peanut butter. What results is a eureka moment and a beautiful marriage of two food items that I believe, were always destined to be one. This flavor combo is proof that when you combine two good things you often are left with one amazing result! 

The same thing has happened with Beautycounter’s Hand Savior that was just released! This product is a combination of hand sanitizer and hand serum, and I can’t tell you how excited I am about this.

Who else has been struggling with the nasty hand sanitizers out there that are filled with potentially harmful ingredients, smell like alcohol (or worse if there’s synthetic fragrance in them), and dry your hands terribly? Well, the genius minds at Beautycounter have designed a solution that not only sanitizes your hands but brightens and moisturizes them at the same time. Hallelujah. Here’s a quick rundown on why this should be the next thing that lives in your car cup holder or purse. 

First, Hand Savior has key ingredients that set it apart from other sanitizers. 

Hyaluronic Acid: hydrates and maintains skin’s moisture.

Niacinamide: known to improve the appearance of dark spots, it helps brighten skin and improve uneven skin tone.

60% Organic Sugar-Derived Alcohol: active ingredient antiseptic that helps reduce bacteria

Sunflower Oleosomes: timed-release delivery system provinces long-lasting moisture

And I’m sure you’re wondering, YES the alcohol content meets the CDC guidelines and has been clinically tested to kill 99.9% of bacteria. 

If you don’t like the typical alcohol smell you find in most hand sanitizers you will be pleasantly surprised with this one. The fragrance is a refreshing Mandarin Bergamot scent created from a combination of oils. 

I think this product is great, but don’t just take my word for it. Here are the results of the clinical studies.

Immediately after use, 97% of users said it instantly brightened their hands. After four weeks of use 100% said their hands felt hydrated, not dry, 91% said hands looked more youthful, and 91% said their skin tone looked more even. 

For those of you who are into sustainability, the bottle is made of glass not plastic. And I can tell you that this clumsy gal dropped mine on the concrete steps outside of my home and the thick glass wall of the container did not break! Whew! 

For as much of a beating that our hands get why not treat them to some love too! 

My Favorite Post-Mastectomy Bras

It feels a bit strange to be writing about my intimate wear as I sit at Barnes and Noble sipping my decaf Americano. But I’m happy to do it because this is actually a question I get a lot as a breast cancer survivor. Part of my treatment was a double mastectomy with reconstruction. This is a major surgery that is often necessary for those walking this journey, and it’s one that leaves some lasting changes that I’ve had to get used to over time. 

One of the things I found that needed to change after my surgery was the type of bra I wore. The location of the incisions made it difficult for me to wear any type of bra that had an underwire so those with that particular hardware were immediately ditched. Then there were the different stages of post-surgical healing that required different levels of support, so I went on the hunt for the styles and brands that could meet those needs. Here are a few of my favorites and why they worked!

Everviolet

This beautiful brand was founded by a fellow breast cancer survivor, Keira Kotler, who saw a need for intimate wear designed for women on this specific journey. I had the pleasure of “meeting” Keira, thanks to social media, and during our conversations was impressed by her passion for this niche. Each piece is created for comfort and the unique challenges that we as survivors face post-surgery. I think everything she has created is beautiful, but there are two styles that I think are essentials. 

Maia Front Close Bra

After a mastectomy there is a period of time when you are transitioning out of the surgical dressings and bandages and into a more “normal” bra. However, you are still slightly restricted with your arm movement so having a bra that is a front closure is key. This one is beautiful and it offers light compression to help with additional support. It’s one you can wear everyday and also for gentle exercise like yoga or pilates. This one also has no underwire which is essential! 

Astrid Bralette with Lace

This is a great everyday bra and perfect for post-mastectomy surgery. It was actually voted “Best Bra with a Combination of Beauty and Comfort for all Surgery Types” by Business Insider. It typically fits pretty snuggly to offer support, and it includes pockets with light padding. These pockets are also designed for prosthetic breast forms if needed. It’s great for all chest sizes. I personally love the lace detail and the multiple color choices. 

Wacoal 

Wacoal Wire Free T-Shirt Bra

Once I was at a place where I felt completely healed and comfortable wearing regular bras, I spent some quality time in the intimate section at Nordstrom in search of the most comfortable, yet supportive, everyday bra. I landed on the Wacoal Wire Free T-Shirt bra. What I love about this bra is the fact that it not only has no underwire, but it’s also lightly padded with a smooth front. It’s perfect for outfits that need that smooth undergarment look and also for shirts that are a little lower cut. The nice V-shape gives you separation so your chest doesn’t feel like one continuous piece. It also comes in a few different colors to mix it up a bit! 

Coobie Seamless Bras

Coobie makes inexpensive seamless bras that I have found very useful for sleeping. I have found that there are nights when I feel like I need a little support, but I don’t want to wear a more structured bra. There are so many styles so I recommend checking out their entire website. Here is one of my favorites… 

Coobie Scoopneck Cami Bra 9012 

This bra is perfect for lounging or sleeping. It has no underwire and it also has lightweight removable pads if you want a little coverage. This is my go-to when I want a little bit of support but don’t want the fuss of a true bra. 

Going through surgery whether it is a lumpectomy or a mastectomy can be daunting, but having the right bras to “support” you along the way will help make the process that much more manageable! And you can still feel feminine and beautiful too!

The Struggle of Being a Perfectionist

Hey! Where are my fellow perfectionist peeps at?! I’m calling all of you friends who can relate to the feeling of needing EVERYTHING that you do to be perfect. Let’s call it the “Midas Touch” of today. If we touch it, it better be gold. Friends, it’s a blessing and curse, right?

I admit that I am a struggling perfectionist. This has been something that I’ve had to battle since I was a child. The drive to do everything with the utmost excellence can be a great quality, and yet it can be a burden if we allow it to creep into the obsessive zone. I precariously teeter on that line, and I believe it’s how I’m wired. But over the past few years I’ve been working on finding a better way. 

Perfectionism has some ugly side effects that I have definitely seen in my life. The first being “The Freeze.” I’ve often felt that if I can’t do something, and do it perfectly, then I’m just not going to do it. Period. This plagued me as a child big time. I remember being young and learning new skills like golf, for example. Okay, I know, probably not a great example to start off with. I personally think golf is one of the most frustrating skills to master on a good day, but stay with me here. 

My parents did a great job of working to instill skills and hobbies that would be lifelong social assets as I was growing up. However, I often failed to stick with certain things because I couldn’t do them “perfectly” right off the bat. In golf I hit a few great shots, and then the rest sent 99% of the nearby woodland creatures, living near the golf course, running for the hills. So what did my perfectionist mind tell me in those situations? That’s right, if you can’t do it perfectly then don’t do it at all. And I quit taking lessons. There were many other examples of times when I didn’t even try a new skill because I knew I wouldn’t be able to do it perfectly, immediately. I like to call this, “The Freeze.”

“The Freeze” manifests itself in so many more ways, specifically if I’m working on a project. If the project has any ounce of creative attributes, I will often delay completing it or all together abandon it if I don’t think it looks or feels “perfect”. 

The other side effect of perfectionism is self doubt. That nasty perfectionistic voice, many of us know so well, starts telling me that if I can’t do something perfectly, then I must not be good enough or truly called to do that work. Hence, I become extremely hard on myself and critical. 

Is this resonating with you at all? Because I know I’m not the only one out there that feels this way. But here’s the good news. YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE PERFECT. Hallewooyah, pa-wayze  da Lord! (as my daughter used to yell around the house as a three year old.) 

God didn’t call us to be perfect. That’s why He sent His son Jesus to this earth. He is the ONLY one who is and ever was perfect so why are we putting that burden on ourselves? 

Corinthians 12:9 says, “Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” 

The first thing we need to do is embrace who we are and all of the weaknesses that we have. We ALL have weaknesses and that’s okay! We aren’t going to do everything perfectly, but that’s the cool part. When we let Christ into those areas of weakness HE will show up with His strength and downright awesomeness to fill in where we lack. 

The other area that us perfectionists need to constantly keep in check is PRIDE. Ouch. Yep, I said it. We are prideful! Isn’t that the true root of why we feel we need to be perfect? It’s because we are concerned with how we look to others. If what we do or create isn’t perfect then someone else might think we aren’t talented, good enough, or as fabulous as whatever the “best of the best” is out there. Whenever my pride starts creeping in over a project I’m working on, I run to a very specific Bible verse. This is my weapon I use to fight that sneaky, flaming, pride dart. 

Colossians 3:23-24 “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord.” 

Everything we do, and I mean EVERYTHING, should have a heavenly focus. Is what you are doing pleasing the Lord or are you trying to please people? When I started making this focus a priority and filtering everything I did through it, I found so much peace! I stopped worrying about what other people thought of me and my efforts and it was so freeing! However, it’s still something I have to continually check myself on because pride is a cunning adversary. 

I have a sneaking suspicion that some of you fellow perfectionists are screaming right now, “But Jamie! Are you saying I shouldn’t care about the quality of my work and completely chuck all desire to make what I do really really good?” Heck no! You are wired the way you are for a reason! I believe that God calls us to a life of EXCELLENCE! There is a big difference between excellence and perfection. God doesn’t want second class products because He is far from second class. So do your best in all you do! But don’t let the fear of it not being perfect stop you from putting it out there. 

Staci Wallace, a dear friend of mine who is full of Godly wisdom, has taught me this. 

“Progress over perfection.” 

Just do something! Don’t let your fear of not being perfect paralyze you and hold back the thing that God wants released into this world through you. You’re not perfect, but He is! Let yourself off the hook and start partnering with the One who can make everything you touch HIS version of gold. 

How Not to Say, “What Do You Say?”

When my girls were very young I often felt like a broken record. Every single day, this was the phrase that came out of my mouth multiple times, “What do you say?” “Girls, that gentleman just opened the door for you, what do you say?” Or, “Ladies, the nice waitress just gave you your milk, what do you say?” ARGH! Stop the madness! I can’t tell you how much that got on my nerves. The constant reminders to use their manners and say, “Thank you,” was enough to drive me up a wall. 

For me, I knew that this four word phrase was ranking up there with Chinese water torture, so I could only imagine how annoying it must have been for the girls. But moms, you get it, this is one of those high-ranking parenting necessities that we all have to check off that elusive “Stellar Parent To-Do” list. We want children who are polite, respectful, and innately grateful! And we all know, our kids are flawed humans just like their parents, but just on a smaller scale. 

But seriously, there had to be a better way than the constant parrot-like harping and reminding to say a simple thank you. I was determined to find another way and so I started DOING what I was preaching in a more intentional manner. And bingo. It started working. Here’s what I did. 

Disclaimer: this isn’t rocket science, but I’ve seen some cool behaviors come from this so here we go. 

Instead of constantly pulling out the, “What do you say?” verbiage when the situation called for it, I began finding more reasons and situations for ME to say “thank you” in front of them. For example, every single time we eat out at a restaurant as a family, and my husband pays the bill, when we get up to leave I always thank him for our meal. Every. Single. Time. I didn’t specifically tell the girls to thank him, but I made sure they saw me do it. Then guess what? One day, one of the girls beat me to it! I almost fell out of my chair. She said, “Thank you Daddy for the food!” And before I knew it, it became a habit that my girls are usually very good about doing consistently.

My husband does the same for me when I cook at home. He makes a point to thank me for the food I’ve prepared, and it’s becoming a modeled behavior that the girls are picking up on and doing themselves without being reminded. It’s a beautiful thing to watch! (It’s especially nice, on those nights when they think what I’ve cooked looks and tastes like something you might find on a distant planet. And oftentimes the restraint in making that fact well known to all at the table is non-existent. Still working on that one, folks.)

This goes for so many other situations and instances. Pretty much anytime that a “thank you” is necessary, make sure your kids see YOU doing it and doing it with confidence. Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely still times when a little reminder nudge is needed, but over time I have seen this become an expected behavior. I haven’t had to solely rely on the annoying, “What do you say?” reminders. 

Again, I know this isn’t some earth shattering concept, but it was a huge reminder for me that our kids are watching everything we do. It’s a real time version of “Monkey See, Monkey Do” so if you want your kids to act a certain way, be the example that you want them to become! 

Guess What? You’re an Influencer!

When I think about this idea of an “influencer”, I immediately think of the many men and women with massive, beautifully curated, social media accounts with epic numbers of followers. Many are celebrities with thousands, or even millions, of people watching their every move. These influencers share everything from what they ate for lunch to what brand of shoes they are wearing for their morning jog. Most times, their motivation is a desire to sell a product, or promote their latest creative project.  

Few of us can relate to this type of influential status, or what it might feel like to have this kind of grand scale impact on those around us. However, I’m realizing that we ALL are “influencers” and should live with a mindset of having influence on others. We may not have thousands of people “following” us, but we do have the ability to positively affect the immediate sphere of those we come in contact with. 

If you’re a mom, you’re an influencer. If you’re a grandparent, you’re an influencer. A teacher, a friend, a neighbor, that’s right…you’re an influencer. God calls us to be salt and light to the world. He didn’t say that the only way to do that was to have a wildly successful “brand” or an uber engaged Facebook following. He’s also talking to all of us normal people. 

God has put you where you are for a reason. There are people around you that are searching for love and truth, and God wants you to use your influence to show them just that. Think of “influence” as proximity. You may be the closest thing to goodness and the love of Christ that the people around you will ever see. Be a light! (a.k.a. an influencer!) Proverbs 12:26 says, “One who is righteous is a guide to his neighbor, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.”  

Challenge yourself to get out of your “influence comfort zone”. Do something that stretches you a bit. I personally took on  this challenge for myself awhile back when I was having some issues with my computer. I was extremely frustrated with a software update that wasn’t working correctly so I called the Apple customer service phone line to get some assistance. I was connected to a very patient young man that stayed on the phone with me for over an hour making sure everything was updated and working as it should. We were about to end the call when I decided to just throw it out there. I said, “Hey, you’ve been so kind and helpful today. We are a praying family and I was wondering if I could pray for you quickly before we hang up?” (Then I held my breath and squinted my eyes in panicked anticipation of what he might say.) Surprisingly, he was very receptive, and I was able to pray for his family and more specifically, protection over his two year old daughter. After I was finished, he seemed absolutely taken back and grateful that I would do that for him. 

I’ll never know the long term effects that this prayer had on that gentleman, but I did my part by planting a seed. Simply planting seeds of light for others can often be the start of something really beautiful that God will water and grow into maturity. 

Use your influence through your actions and by doing random acts of kindness for people. 

Matthew 5:16 says, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

There is so much hurt and falsehood in the world today, but you have the opportunity to show someone the opposite of that. Where does God have you placed in this moment, and what giftings do you have that can be used for positive influence. Are you dripping God’s truth into everything you do? Now more than ever, we need people to stand up and operate in the authority that God has given us to be a positive influence on others. Remember, YOU are an influencer so start thinking like one!

How to “Go With the Flow” When Your Plans Get Interrupted

How many times has this happened to you? You’ve planned out your whole day, every minute is strategically orchestrated for maximum productivity, and you know that when your feet hit the floor you’re going to get stuff DONE!

And then, something happens that throws a complete wrench in your plan, and all those hopes and dreams of epic effectiveness go screaming out the window. Been there. Many times. Being a type A, ESJF Myers Briggs girl, this is always a tough one for me. I love to have a plan. Flying by the seat of my pants does not bode well for my mental sanity. In the past, when some type of roadblock thwarted those perfectly laid out plans, it would send me into “tilt mode” like a robot stuttering and smoking as it short circuits. 

But over the past few years, I’ve learned a strategy that has helped me cope when MY plans get thrown off the rails. It’s called TRUST. That seems a bit ambiguous, you say. Let me explain. There are three things that I do when I plan my day that help me avoid frustration when things don’t go as I planned. 

Surrender Your Day

This is uber important! As soon as you begin your day, surrender your plans to God. I often pray, “Lord, I want your will to be done, not mine.” Luke 22:42. God knows how the day is going to unfold before we do, so give all your plans to Him before it even starts. 

When we put our lives in the hands of our Heavenly Father it’s essentially saying, “Jesus, take the wheel”. (Thank you, Carrie Underwood.) He gives us free will to plan our days, dream, work, and play. And I’ve found that when I surrender my day to Him every morning and let Him direct my steps, it gives me so much peace. 

Look at Roadblocks as Opportunites

It’s not an if, but when roadblocks will come in our day. Just this past week I scheduled my whole week to have a relatively light Friday by packing in a bit more of my duties and work toward the beginning of the week. I was SO looking forward to having a Friday to myself, with kids at school and the dog at daycare, to go for a hike or relax and read a book. I don’t schedule these kinds of days for myself enough and I finally did it. I was pumped. 

But then I was playing with our dog and I noticed a couple of stitches were poking through her skin from a recent surgery she had. These were internal stitches, and I could tell they were bothering her. I emailed the University Veterinary School that we been taking her to versus our local vet (because her surgeries were pretty serious) and asked what they recommended I do. They said I needed to bring her in so those stitches could be removed. No big deal, right? Well…their office is located almost three hours away. Hmm….. The only day I had available to take her was my gloriously free day on Friday. Doggone it. Literally. 

Not a huge deal, I know, but I was disappointed and honestly, a bit annoyed that I would now be spending the entire day in the car. But then I remembered to change my thinking and look at this roadblock as an opportunity. I asked myself, “What are the positive things that can come from this and how can I use this time by myself in a fulfilling way?” I ended up grabbing my favorite chai tea drink to go, got in the car with the pup, and used those hours to listen to praise and worship music, talk to God and pray outloud. For six hours! It was awesome!! I can’t remember the last time I’ve had the chance to do that. I saw it as an opportunity to “slow down” (at 70 miles per hour) and just be with the Lord. He obviously wanted some one-on-one time with me, and I so needed it with Him.

Step back and try to look at those hiccups in your day as opportunities. Maybe it’s getting stuck in a long line at the post office when you have an appointment in five minutes. There might be someone next to you that needs a warm smile or an encouraging conversation. Be open to the possibilities when your right turn becomes a U-turn. 

Trust that God Has YOUR Best Interest at Heart

Lastly, trust that God wants what’s best for you! I believe that He sees and knows SO much more than we could ever know. He may be protecting you from something you’re not even aware of. That canceled meeting you’ve been trying to get on the calendar for weeks may have just protected you from a massive multi-car pile up accident on the highway. You just don’t know. But God does. Trust that He is guiding you and protecting you in areas that we may never see. Don’t get angry when things fall through or plans are ruined. Instead, have a mindset that says, “There’s reason for this, and I’m going to trust that God’s got it. He knows what’s best for me and I trust that He will work this out.” Then ask, “How do you want me to pivot God?” He’ll show you, and I would probably be pretty safe to say that you may even see how things worked out better in the long run. 

There are so many verses in the Bible about trusting God with His plans for you. Here are a few of my favorites. 

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.  Psalm 32:8

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

The plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations. Psalm 33:11

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9 NLT

Gift Ideas for Someone Diagnosed with Breast Cancer

“My friend has just been diagnosed with breast cancer and I want to give her a basket of gifts to brighten her day. What would you recommend?” Having been the person with the cancer diagnosis, I get asked this question quite a bit, and it’s such a sweet question to get. Loving on someone when they are going through a difficult time is so appreciated. I’ve been there. 

I thought I would share some of the gifts that I found helpful, that were either given to me or I discovered on my own. Any of these options could be given individually, or creating a nice gift basket with a combination of things is lovely too. 

BKR Water Bottle

When I was going through chemotherapy I drank a LOT of water. I felt that drinking water was key for flushing out the toxins in my body, and it seemed to help with my energy level. I didn’t want to drink anything out of plastic that may contain BPA, and chemo made my taste buds act a little wacky, so stainless steel bottles didn’t work well for me either. Instead, I found these amazing glass bottles made by BKR. They are covered in cute silicone sleeves that protect the glass, and make them easy to grip. They have all different sizes, but I prefer the largest version which is the 1L size. 

Healthy Snacks

The one thing I felt I could control while going through treatment was what I ate. I also seemed to feel better when I consumed small meals multiple times a day, and that included snacking. Healthy snacks like pistachios, mixed nuts, pumpkin seeds and dried fruits always hit the spot. I avoided sugar, but if that’s not an issue for your recipient, then I recommend a couple of dark chocolate bars preferably with a cocoa percentage of over 70%. I love the Theo brand. They have a great variety of flavors that are very unique!

Beautycounter Products

Everyone loves to feel pampered, especially when they aren’t exactly feeling their fabulous self, so personal care products that don’t contain harmful ingredients or allergens are a wonderful gift. I personally loved the Beautycounter Cleansing Balm because it was the only thing that helped my super dry skin, which was a side effect of chemo, feel moisturized again. A tube of the hand cream is great too for keeping hands hydrated and smelling nice at the hospital while getting an infusion. 

Lightweight Soft Blanket

I found that I got chilly when I was getting my chemo treatments and the warm blankets the nurses provided (while very thoughtful) were a bit stiff and sterile feeling. A family member gave me a lightweight blanket that I took with me every time I went to the clinic to sit in the infusion chair, and not only was it much cozier, but it gave me some comfort from home. 

Essential Oils (lavender)

I was terribly nervous when I went in for my first treatment. All of the unknowns of getting chemotherapy was a bit overwhelming, so I brought a small container of lavender essential oil with me. The calming smell was also very soothing and the nurses liked it too! 

Jesus Calling Devotional

This book is a must! I can’t tell you how helpful this devotional was for my journey. It contains short daily devotionals that are incredibly encouraging and always seem to be very timely. 

Petite Plume Pajamas

I think anyone going through breast cancer would love these jammies. I had a double mastectomy so after surgery I wasn’t able to lift my arms above my head for quite a while. I lived in button up shirts and pajamas for weeks. This brand is lovely and the pajamas are so soft and classic looking. I’m still a fan! 

I Have Two Words For You

When I was first diagnosed, I felt very alone and I desperately wanted to hear someone else’s story of victory over this disease. There are a lot of wonderful books out there, but I struggled with finding one that shared what it looked like to lean on God throughout this trial.  Because of that,  I felt very strongly to write my story in hopes of helping other women who may find themselves in the same place I was. “I Have Two Words For You” is a real, raw, look at my fight with breast cancer, and I intentionally share how Jesus never left my side. There’s a bit of humor in it too! 

Everviolet Robe

Everviolet is a beautiful company founded by a breast cancer survivor. This company designs and offers intimate wear specifically for women who have been through this journey. Each piece is crafted keeping in mind the physical challenges that we face having had reconstructive surgery. Their robe, in particular, is beautiful, feminine and a great gift for someone to enjoy not only at the hospital but at home.

Magazines

Many times, the last thing I wanted to think about was cancer, so it was refreshing to lose myself in a great magazine. Whether that was one from Real Simple, where I could immerse myself in pretty kitchens and recipes, or a fashion magazine like Vogue, dreaming of feeling “normal” again, any fun magazine was a highlight for me.

Beautiful Scarf or Head Covering 

Oftentimes the first thing someone wants to purchase for a cancer survivor who is, or will be, losing their hair is a scarf or a head covering of some type. This is a tricky thing. Losing your hair is such a devastating and personal thing and every survivor approaches it differently. Before you purchase a scarf or a hat of some sort, make sure you really know the person and have talked to them about how they are going to address this issue. Someone might LOVE a soft beanie hat, yet someone else might think a beanie will make them look “sick” and would prefer a gorgeous scarf. I recommend talking it over with your friend first if you want to go this route. If you do choose to purchase a head covering, I got a few of mine, mostly for sleeping, at Head Covers Unlimited. I primarily wore scarves and preferred ones that were long, lightweight (poly or cotton) and not silky/slippery. I found a lot of mine at TJ Maxx, or Target, but H&M has some inexpensive ones that are pretty too.

Earrings

I was one of those people that decided if I was going to lose my hair, I wanted to at least have some fun with a few sets of fabulous earrings. It was my way of still feeling put together and “pretty” in spite of how I really felt. I found some wonderful ones on the JCrew website!

Smoothie Recipe Book

Fueling my body with healthy food was a priority for me and smoothies always seemed to hit the spot. I could get a lot of nutrients jam packed into one little drink and it was a way to combat any nausea early on in my treatments. Breast Cancer Smoothies by Daniella Chace, was one of our family’s favorite books, and we still make a lot of these recipes today. 

Glass Smoothie Container

These containers are great for taking that smoothie on the go, or to the hospital for a treatment. Again, it’s glass, fits in a car cup holder, and comes with a wider straw!

Cut Veggies with Hummus Dip

Going through chemo treatments can be exhausting and simple tasks that seemed effortless before can now seem insurmountable. Simply cutting up some fresh veggies and making a little hummus dip/veggie plate for someone is a great way to help. It’s healthy snacking made easy!

Healing Bible Verses

A dear friend gave me a print out of a great selection of Bible verses that focused on healing. I was very conscious of “speaking life” over myself while I was going through treatment, and declaring God’s promises for me over my mind and my body. I really believe it helped me keep a positive attitude and it gave me so much peace!  

Cozy Socks

This one may be a no brainer, but I loved taking a pair of soft socks to the hospital on treatment days. Again, anything that made the experience feel a little less cold and institutional was just good for my psyche. 

If you’re reading this blog, you’re AWESOME. It means you care and want to serve someone you love by helping make their trial a little less hard. Thank you for being a support system. As someone who has been on the other side of that love, I can honestly say that you are making a difference in someone’s life. So thank you. 

Our Daddy-Daughter Breakfast Tradition

I love a good tradition, and especially when I see how it enriches the lives of our kids. We have a tradition in our family that as a mother, is definitely one of my favorites. It’s the daddy-daughter breakfast tradition. 

This ritual began with my father years ago, and now we have adapted it into our family. When I was in grade school my dad designated Wednesdays as “breakfast day”. He and I would leave the house a little earlier than normal before work and school, and head to a local greasy spoon restaurant that smelled a bit like old wood and bacon. Every week I ordered the same thing, a gigantic, plate sized pancake with a mound of butter in the middle large enough to sink a ship. And boy, did it taste good. 

The motivation for going to breakfast was not the food, although it was always a treat. The intention was time alone with my dad and for us to have an opportunity to purposefully connect.

When my girls were in kindergarten we started the tradition in our home. Once a week, my husband began alternating which daughter he took to breakfast before school. Six years later, they are still going to the same restaurant, and the tradition continues. 

There are many aspects to this tradition that make it meaningful. When the girls were very young it made them feel special and valued. The fact that their daddy would carve out this time for them before his busy workday made them feel like a princess. And as a kindergartener anything that was different from their normal routine felt like they had just won the “advanced-toddler lottery”. 

As time went on, and their maturity level grew, so did their breakfast conversations. These one-on-one times became an intentional place for my husband to “check in” on what was going on in their lives. It became a private place that each of the girls could talk without feeling “honed-in on” by their sibling. And being an only child, I had NO idea how important this is for siblings. 

Andrew has also used this time to share life lessons and teach them things he’s learning through his relationship with God or in his business. It’s his time to drop some wisdom nuggets that are personally designed for each one of them. 

These regular “dates” have also created a pattern of familiarity for the girls, and they know there will always be a scheduled time that they can intimately connect with their dad. It has built a level of trust between them and is building a foundation of communication that is key as they grow up. 

But I think the most important benefit of this tradition is the connection that he as a father is building with his daughters. Yes, the bond between a mother and a daughter is wonderful and so important, but the benefits of a strong relationship between a daughter and her dad are huge. When a young girl feels valued, loved, and protected by her father, she is less likely to search out love and acceptance in the wrong places when she’s older. This is our hope and our prayer for our girls. 

I understand that it might not be possible to do weekly breakfasts out at a restaurant, and that’s okay! There are so many other ways that this tradition can be modified and still have the same great affect. Maybe it’s a weekly hike, or bike ride. It could even be dedicated time at the local playground. It’s about getting creative and simply setting aside that time. Undivided, intentional time in a one-on-one setting is so life-giving for your kids. 

So every morning, when it’s breakfast day, my heart bursts when I watch my husband and one of my daughters walk out the door. Who would have thought that a good foundation could be built, one pancake at a time? 

Did You Know That God Has a Name?

I’ll be honest, I had no idea that God had a name other than “God.” At least I’ve never used a specific name when I pray to Him. Usually my prayers begin with, “Lord” or “Father God”, but up until this point I’ve never called God by His name. And truthfully, I’ve never even thought that there could be another way to address Him, until now. 

Before I go into what His name is and why it’s so important for us to know, I want to talk about the power of names. When we develop relationships with people, one of the first things we do is learn their name. If we truly want to engage with someone and connect on a genuine level we need to remember their first name and be intentional about using it. 

Think about the people you are the closest to in your life and how strange it would be if you addressed them using generalities. For example, wouldn’t it be awkward if everytime a married woman’s husband came home from work, the wife greeted him with, “Welcome home, husband,”? Or what about the mom who picks her kids up after school and says, “How was your day, first born child?” This would feel SO bizarre! 

We don’t address our loved ones this way because it feels incredibly impersonal. So why do we do this with our God? If we know His name, why don’t we use it? But what is His name? 

It’s Yahweh

According to Exodus 34:5-7, Yahweh means “merciful and gracious”. This is the character of God. He is merciful and gracious! When I learned this, it changed the way I think about my interaction with Him. It helped me understand that He really loves us and wants to pour out his mercy and compassion on us! 

I recently had a situation where I leaned into this concept, and it involved our family dog. Our 18 month old puppy developed a severe infection and we had to drive her to a teaching hospital hours away. We dropped her off and were told that she would most likely not survive the night. My husband and I began praying and I cried out to Yahweh, my gracious and merciful God. I asked for His mercy and compassion on our sweet pup, and I called out His character. The next morning we were given news that even the doctor couldn’t explain. Our dog had made a miraculous recovery, literally overnight! 

Because I knew God’s name, I felt more in tune with His character and His will for our lives. I prayed into WHO He is and it changed my entire approach in this situation. Now, please know that I’m not saying this is some “magic secret sauce” like rubbing a lamp and getting wishes granted from a genie. It definitely doesn’t work that way. But it is a way to begin seeing God as your friend, your companion, and someone that you’re on a first-name basis with. 

That is His desire for us. He wants us to have an intimate, personal relationship with Him and that means spending time in His word and praying (talking) to Him daily!

I challenge you this month to use His name, Yahweh, in your prayer time and begin thinking about Him as your friend. When you KNOW Him, it opens the door for a type of intimacy with your Creator that will richly bless you! 

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