Reflecting the Light

This morning began like most mornings do. I sleepily got out of bed before my 5:30 alarm, since I’d technically been awake since 4:30 trying to wrangle in the “mind-spin”, then spent some time with the Lord, and lastly got my kiddos off to school. I pulled back into the driveway to see an anxiously awaiting double-doodle staring at me from the family room window. It was time for her walk and she wasn’t going to let me forget it. 

Every morning I take Luna for a spin around the neighborhood and we almost always find our way into the university campus that resides close to our home. I love walking on the college grounds because the paths are winding and lined with trees and beautiful landscaping. I also enjoy seeing the students walking to class as the sun streams across the bluffs and lights up the walkways. 

Being a creature of habit I tend to walk the same route and usually find myself passing a particular building that has many tall, rectangular, east facing windows. The building is situated in a way that the rising sun hits the windows and reflects into the path where I walk. Everytime I walk past these windows, I’m always struck by the periodic bursts of heat that hit my face. It literally feels like alternating laser beams that strike, and then are instantly gone when I pass areas of the building that aren’t reflecting the sun. 

I’ve walked past this building MANY times, but for some reason something pretty profound struck me today. I got a strong sense that the Lord was showing me the power of reflection. And no, not the kind of reflection where you ponder those stupd things you did in college and realize there were probably plenty of reasons you should have gotten some professional therapy. No, the kind of reflection where a powerful light source hits a shiny surface and bounces the opposite way. 

The Oxford Dictionary defines reflection as, “The throwing back of a body or surface of light, heat or sound, without absorbing it.” Hmmm.. let’s reflect on that a bit. (Did you see how I did that?) 

Wow. Isn’t this what God calls us to do as believers? Doesn’t He call us to reflect Him? 

He doesn’t ask us to BE the light source. That’s HIS job. He only wants us to REFLECT Him. So what does that look like? How do we reflect Jesus to every person we come in contact with? And yes, I said EVERY person. Even that guy that cut you off today in the Target parking lot because he was texting and flying in his souped up Honda Civic like a bat out of you know where!

Let’s ask ourselves, what was Jesus like? What characteristics did He exhibit when He walked the earth? If you’re a list checker like me, then let’s start with one of my favorite lists in the Bible, the fruits of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23 

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. When you want to flare at that offensive comment on Facebook, do you reflect love? How about patience? Or maybe most importantly, when your flesh wants to furiously type a rebuttal and virtually body slam that ignorant bleep bleep into the cyber ground, do you practice self-control? Ouch. 

It can be hard. But showing EVERYONE love, letting them see your joy even in tough times, and being gentle in spirit when persecuted, is reflecting the light of Jesus to a hurting world. 

And remember when I mentioned the heat I felt from the sun reflecting in those windows? You guys, seriously, it was HOT! Like I thought the skin was going to start peeling off the left side of my face. Just because you’re the reflection and not the “source” doesn’t mean you can’t pack some heat! We have power as followers of Jesus, and we can walk boldly knowing that when we make a genuine effort to be Christ’s reflection, He will bring intensity to your witness that you won’t have to work for. That’s the beauty of reflecting from a place of power. He will translate His unlimited energy through you to positively affect someone else’s life. 

Reflection can be small, like those little prisms I used to hang in my window as a kid. Or it can be massive like in the valley town of Rjukan, Norway where mirrors were installed to reflect sunlight into the town’s square that is normally shadowed for half of the year. (Cool right?) 

Both are good. Both are beautiful.  Big or small, your reflection is bringing much needed light into a place riddled with darkness. 

Where can you shine today?

Shine on, friend. Shine on. 

Our Favorite Smoothie Recipes

Our love for smoothies began when I was in the thick of my cancer fight, and chemotherapy was kicking my patootie all over the place. To combat the occasional bouts of nausea, I found that keeping a small amount of food in my stomach at all times helped tremendously. But let’s be real. When you feel like you’ve been run over by a dump truck (twice), the last thing you want is a big juicy steak and a side of fries. Okay, I take that back, the fries actually hit the spot quite a bit, just saying. 

I knew I needed to supply my body with the best nutrients I could to help fight the cancer and recover from the grueling treatments. But I also wanted to ENJOY said nutrients so my incredible husband dove headfirst into the art of the smoothie. Bless him. 

Smoothies not only gave me the nutrition I desired, but they tasted darn good too! It was a treat to down one or two of these each day, and it became a good way to easily ingest multiple small meals daily. 

I often get asked about the smoothie recipes we use so thought I would share some here. If you’re serious about upping your smoothie game, regardless if you’re going through cancer or not, I would HIGHLY recommend investing in a Vitamix blender. This machine was literally sent from heaven. In fact, I’m pretty sure angels use a Vitamix to make their own celestial concoctions. Just saying. 

There are a lot of different models available, so choose which one is best for your needs and your budget. I’ll warn you, they are a bit of an investment, but they are SO worth it. Not only do they make killer smoothies, but you can make hot soups, salsas, baby foods, batters, nut butters, non-dairy milks, frozen desserts, and more. Yah. I know. Run, don’t walk people.

Let’s get to the good stuff. We have found many great recipes in multiple places. One of our favorite smoothie resources is Rich Roll’s Plantpower Meal Planner. My husband has this app and uses it religiously. Here are a few of our favorites:

But a couple of tips first:

Tip 1. Each of these recipes makes 2 servings. If you aren’t going to drink two servings, you can save the other in the fridge for an afternoon snack, or you could share it. Sharing is caring friends!

Tip 2. When a recipe calls for bananas, we recommend freezing them first. Peel them and put them in a zip lock bag in your freezer for easy access. Using frozen bananas makes your smoothie cold (if your other ingredients aren’t) and it also makes it thicker and not so watery. If the consistency isn’t thick enough, you can always add a few ice cubes. 

Tip 3: We try to use organic ingredients as much as possible. If your budget allows for it, DO IT! Not only do you avoid potentially toxic pesticides, but I think they taste better too!

Avocado Lime Smoothie

  • ¾ Avocado
  • 2 Bananas
  • 1 Lime (squeezed)
  • 2 tbsps Fresh Mint
  • 1 ¼ cups Frozen Mango
  • 1 ¼ Frozen Spinach
  • 2 tbsps Flax Meal
  • 3 ½ cups Coconut Water

Banana Berry Protein Smoothie

  • 2 ½ cups Unsweetened Soy/Nut/Rice Milk
  • 1 ½ scoops Protein Powder
  • 1 ¼ Frozen Mixed Berries
  • 2 Bananas
  • ¼ cup Peanut Butter

Creamy “Caramel” Banana Bread Smoothie

  • 2 ½ Banana
  • ½ tsp Cinnamon
  • 2 ½ Dates
  • ¼ cup Rolled Oats
  • 1 ¼ cup Unsweetened Soy/Nut/Rice Milk
  • ¼ Cup Canned Coconut Milk
  • ¼ cup Pumpkin Seeds

When I was going through treatment I chose to cut out all processed sugar to help my body fight inflammation. This was incredibly hard because I am a sugar lover! To help satisfy my screaming sweet tooth, I created a smoothie that hit the spot every time. Here it is. You’re welcome.

Banana Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie

  • 1 Frozen Banana
  • 1 tbsp Navitas Cocoa Powder (this has NO sugar, and feel free to add more powder if you love chocolate like I do)
  • 1 tbsp Peanut Butter (or more if you like it really peanut buttery)
  • Almond milk (add until it’s the right consistency)

Another great resource for smoothies specific to breast cancer is a book by Daniella Chase called Breast Cancer Smoothies. What I like about this book is that it shares why each ingredient is good for fighting cancer, and certain recipes are created for specific breast cancer types. (ER, PR+, Triple -, etc.)

If you are one that struggles with keeping weight on and are looking to beef up your smoothies with some healthy fats, you can always add a scoop of avocado, or coconut oil to your recipes. Peanut butter, almond butter, and sunflower butters are also great choices for adding some much needed, healthy calories. It’s also important to get a lot of protein when you’re battling this disease so feel free to add a scoop of your favorite protein powder to each smoothie. 

I hope this information has given you a little push to jump on the smoothie train. I’m so glad I did, and I think we will forever be hooked! 

Let’s go! Get blending! 

Give Your Children a Decree

Everyday I am learning how to be a better parent to my girls. I admittedly make a gazillion mistakes daily so I’m no expert, but there is one thing that I think is super important. Give your children a DECREE. You may be thinking, “What the heck is a decree?” Don’t worry. I thought the same thing. I’ll get to that in a minute. 

I actually stumbled upon this a few years ago when I was “Christmas shopping” in Hobby Lobby. (a.k.a. wandering around one of my favorite stores daydreaming about completely redecorating my house with ceramic pumpkins and dreamy L.E.D. candles). In my crafting, DIY, delusional haze I found myself in the aisle that had all of the “farmhouse chic” painted signs with inspirational sayings. I was immediately drawn to one particular sign and this is what it read:

I am the daughter of a King,

Who is not moved by the world.

For my God is with me,

And goes before me.

I do not fear,

Because I am His.

I felt that quiet voice in my spirit say, “This is for your daughters.” I reached out, pulled it off of the shelf, and quickly put it in my cart. 

I hung it in my oldest daughter’s room, in a place where I knew it would be the first thing she saw when her eyes opened, and the last thing she’d see when she drifted off to sleep. I started reading it with her every night, and I had her repeat it out loud as part of our bedtime prayer routine.

On our way to school every morning I began having both of the girls repeat what we now call the “I am” statement, and sometimes I would change the words to decree it over them myself. When I do that, it sounds like this. 

“YOU are the daughter of a King who is not moved by the world. For YOUR God is with YOU and goes before YOU. YOU do not fear because YOU are His!”

As the girls got a little older, I started to get the slight eye roll and the, “I know mom, I know. I’m the daughter of a King, blah blah blah.” But much to their chagrin, I keep doing it. And I’ll keep doing it as long as they live under my roof. (And you can bet your biscuits I’ll be calling them when they’re off to college someday leaving it on their voicemail when they’re screening my calls. You can’t get rid of me girls! Insert evil laugh…)

I think words of affirmation are so important, but I believe there is a difference between words of affirmation and a decree. Words of affirmation are words or phrases that uplift, encourage, and support someone. These are very helpful and can aid in positive thinking and self worth. Words of affirmation are awesome-sauce moms and dads, so if you currently shower your kids with them, keep rocking it. 

However, words of affirmation are very different from a decree, specifically a Biblical decree. A decree is a legal term that is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “an official order issued by a legal authority.” 

A Biblical decree comes from a place of God-given authority. Just as God spoke the earth into existence, He has given us authority with our words too. Luke 10:19 says, “Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.” 

Matthew 18:18 says, “Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” 

A decree contains words that call down the truth of God’s WORD to be MANIFESTED on earth. There is power in the words you speak that align with what the Bible promises. Let’s break down how the decree my girls and I say, lines up with God’s word. 

  1. I am the daughter of a King… (“So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” Galatians 3:26-27)
  2. Who is not moved by the world… (“He only is my rock and my salvation; he is my defence; I shall not be greatly moved.” Psalm 62:2 KJV”)
  3. For my God is with me… (“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10)
  4. And goes before me… (“I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron.” Isaiah 45:2”)
  5. I do not fear… (“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6)
  6. Because I am His…(“Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.” Psalm 100:3)

My prayer is when life gets tough for my daughters that this decree will bubble up inside of them and they will remember who they are. They’re not a dancer, not a basketball player, and not a rocket scientist (come on, I’m their mom, I can’t help it). Those are all things they enjoy and may potentially DO someday, but it’s not WHO they are. They ARE the daughter of a King. Careers and talents come and go, but that identity never will. 

Also, when they say this decree they are calling down the blessings, each of these words contain, from Heaven to manifest over their lives. Does it mean that they will never have trouble? Hardly. But they can be confident that they will have a heavenly inheritance, the strength to stand firm through trials, the knowledge that they are never alone, the security of a Creator who is moving and clearing paths before them, and the peace that they have nothing to be afraid of because they are His children. 

Don’t we want all children to feel this way? That’s what I thought. Amen, sister. 

Don’t just say it. DECREE IT!

The Power of Traditions

Calling all married folks! Yep, this one’s for you.

Last week my husband and I celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary. Fourteen years of absolute, perfect, wedded bliss. Okay, just kidding. “Perfect” would definitely not be a word that either of us would use to describe our marriage. Fulfilling, challenging, stretching, loving, growing, hard, forgiving, and a lot of WORK would all be a much more realistic way to describe this union we entered into years ago. 

I love being married. I honestly admit that I have had my share of “relationship practice runs” as a dating single. As strange as it may sound, I’m grateful for those past dating experiences because they prepared me for the incredible man God had waiting for me. (Uh, by the way God, you could have brought Prince Charming into the picture a little sooner and saved me a bunch of headaches, you know. A few less nightmares about being a single, weird, cat lady knitting socks for my friends’ kids for the rest of my life would have been nice. But I get it. You’re God. So I’ll let you off the hook this time.)

On that incredible day that my husband proposed, one of the amazing things he did after slipping on THE ring was hand me a single long stemmed red rose. Then he proceeded to recite the most beautiful words I’d ever heard a man say to me. 

He said, “Jamie, this is a Devotion Rose. I will be giving you a rose every week until the day we are married to signify my love, commitment, and devotion to you as my wife and to our marriage.” Say what?! Cue the waterworks and the fleeting thought of, “Is this guy for real?” Well, he was, and he remained true to his word. He presented me with a rose while repeating the same words he said on our engagement night, every. single. week.

There were weeks when he had to get a bit creative which was fun. At one point, he was traveling in Alaska, sleeping on a glacier in a tent with no cell service, and doing helicopter ski trips on the mountains during the day. I know, I know. I had the same thought. I think I’m marrying a crazy person. But during that time when he was as far away as the Western world is from Siberia, he asked his FATHER to show up at my workplace with the Devotion Rose. My soon to be father-in-law walked into my office and repeated those same words, inserting his own little twist of committing to be the best father-in-law he can be. Yep. You guessed it. Not only was I crying, but so were all of my fellow female co-workers who witnessed it all. One big, obnoxious, blubber-fest. 

Over the course of the nine months between the night we got engaged until our wedding day there were 38 weeks, and 38 red roses. Andrew and I decided that we wanted to incorporate what had become a tradition each week into our marriage ceremony. We had our florist create a beautiful bouquet of 38 red roses that would be placed at the altar throughout the entire ceremony. During the ceremony we placed one, white rose in the center of the arrangement. We wanted this final rose to represent God in our marriage and the importance of centering our entire relationship on Him. We also chose white because it represents purity, love, loyalty, and new beginnings. It was a very powerful moment for us and one we will treasure forever. 

What’s the point of this story? Every year on our wedding anniversary Andrew gives me 38 red roses and a single white one as a reminder of the commitment we made to each other and the important role that God plays in our marriage. (We would be a HOT MESS if Jesus wasn’t at the helm of this marriage boat!)

When I received my bouquet this year I realized how much I appreciate this tradition. Not only do I appreciate the thoughtfulness of the gesture, but every year it takes me back to the foundation of what our union was established on. Our love for each other, our commitment to relishing the beautiful moments and persevering through the challenging ones, and most importantly our faith. 

I believe traditions are so important because they keep us grounded in past truths and keep our roots firmly planted. Is there a tradition that you have with your spouse that is special to you? Or is there one that you used to have that has been unintentionally shelved and needs a little dusting off?

If you don’t have a tradition, that’s okay! There’s no better time to start than NOW! It doesn’t have to be extravagant. It could be simply writing a love letter to each other on your anniversary. Or revisiting the place where you met or were engaged, and reminiscing about the dreams, hopes, and visions you had for your future life together. If you’re really hard up for ideas, just play Tony! Toni! Tone!’s song, “Anniversary” from 1993 and dance around in your living room. Scratch that. We want you to STAY married. 

Whatever it is that you decide to do, make it special and unique to you. Use it as an opportunity to take you back to those butterfly feelings you had when you realized you were going to spend the rest of your life with your very best friend. Let it be an opportunity to keep your marriage fresh and grounded in the beautiful things that keep you strong as a couple. 

Remember the love, and find your tradition. 

On Heavy Days, There’s Hope

About a week ago, I woke up feeling fearful and agitated. The weight of all the pain, confusion, and evil in this world suddenly came crashing down on me, and I felt an overwhelming sense of fear. Yes, I have complete and utter faith in my Jesus, but I’m human. And sometimes that firm foundation gets a little mini-quake once in a while. When the enemy tries to rattle my cage there’s only one place I go when I need a little grounding….

To my knees.

I began praying, and I came to God as a child asking her Father to hold her because she was afraid. I asked for God’s peace that surpasses all understanding and for protection over myself and my family. In that quiet moment the words “Psalm 91” came to my mind. Obviously, I don’t have large chunks of scripture memorized so I had no idea what this meant. I reached over to the table next to my chair where we have our Bibles and started reaching for one. I began to grab the NIV translation, but I felt like the Lord impressed upon me, “No, not that one. This one…” And instead, I grabbed my Message translation.

I opened it up and read.

“You who sit down in the High God’s presence, spend the night in Shaddai’s shadow,

Say this: “God, you’re my refuge. I trust in you and I’m safe!”

That’s right—he rescues you from hidden traps, shields you from deadly hazards.

His huge outstretched arms protect you— under them you’re perfectly safe; his arms fend off all harm.

Fear nothing—not wild wolves in the night, not flying arrows in the day,

Not disease that prowls through the darkness, not disaster that erupts at high noon.

Even though others succumb all around, drop like flies right and left, no harm will even graze you.

You’ll stand untouched, watch it all from a distance, watch the wicked turn into corpses.

Yes, because God’s your refuge, the High God your very own home,

Evil can’t get close to you, harm can’t get through the door.

He ordered his angels to guard you wherever you go.

If you stumble, they’ll catch you; their job is to keep you from falling.

You’ll walk unharmed among lions and snakes, and kick young lions and serpents from the path.“

If you’ll hold on to me for dear life,” says God, “I’ll get you out of any trouble.

I’ll give you the best of care if you’ll only get to know and trust me.

Call me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times; I’ll rescue you, then throw you a party.

I’ll give you a long life, give you a long drink of salvation!”

I hadn’t even finished reading the whole passage before I burst into tears. Knowing a God that loves His children so much that He would give me, AGAIN, exactly what I needed to hear in that moment broke me. No matter how strong or how weak our faith is at any given moment, He is always faithful to reassure us that HE is sovereign, HE is in control, and we can have PEACE when we sit in His shadow.

Don’t ever underestimate His power, and the power that you can have over fear, anxiety, and evil, when you plug into the source.

Jesus.

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! 

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