The Story in My Head


I just finished reading Rising Strong this last week. It’s the first book I’ve read by Brene Brown, and I loved it, which is evidenced by how many page corners I folded down to remind me where my favorite passages were…

The whole book is amazing, full of many different ideas which I will be mentally chewing on for some time, but the one which impacted me the most was the idea of “the stories we tell ourselves”. She writes about the tendency we have to fill in missing details in our effort to understand ourselves, as well as other people.

“Storytelling helps us all impose order on chaos—including emotional chaos. When we’re in pain, we create a narrative to help us make sense of it. This story doesn’t have to be based on any real information. One dismissive glance from a coworker can instantly turn into I knew she didn’t like me. Our stories are also about self-protection. I told myself Steve was blaming me so I could be mad instead of admitting that I was vulnerable or afraid of feeling inadequate. I could disengage from the tougher stuff. That’s what human beings tend to do: When we’re under threat, we run. If we feel exposed or hurt, we find someone to blame, or blame ourselves before anyone else can, or pretend we don’t care.”  (source)

I love to analyze, and I spend a lot of time in my own head, trying to figure things out. This can lead to some nasty storytelling, which I’ve been aware of for a long time, but it wasn’t until I read this book that it became clear to me while I was in the process of doing it.

It was one of those long, bumpier than normal kind of days, and I had already helped our sweet children through a long list of complaints, negative attitudes, and many other parenting challenges by the time Ben got home from work. While he was still by the door, yet another behaviour issue exploded, and I reached my limit. Ben could tell I was done for the day, and any parenting after that point could get a bit scary, so he, in an effort to be helpful, said, “Why don’t you go into the other room and let me handle this?”

Because of the frustration of the moment, I misunderstood his intent – Ben was trying to be helpful, but I thought he was telling me to go to the other room because I couldn’t keep calm while dealing with the situation. Instead of getting mad at our kid, I got mad at Ben. I held it in until I got to our bedroom, but I was furious with him, and feeling extremely justified. How dare he suggest that I was not capable of parenting our children in an appropriate manner? How could he make such a comment in front of our kids, criticizing my self-control and ability to handle the situation? “Somehow,” I thought to myself, “I manage to care for all three children every single day, all day long, while he is off relaxing in his office at work without any tantrums, screaming, or bad attitudes exploding in his face repeatedly!” (Like all he does all day is relax, but in the moment, I was not entirely reasonable!)

As these very heated thoughts blazed their way through my mind, Brene Brown’s question popped up: “What story am I making up in my head?” Immediately, I started to get curious. Why was I responding this way? What was making me so mad? What was going on behind all this anger?

The realization struck me – I was taking Ben’s words and interpreting them in a way which fueled insecurities about my parenting, rather than hearing what he was actually saying. He was offering me a break after a long day, but I was taking it as criticism of my parenting, and responding with anger on the surface, when deep down, I was actually feeling hurt and insecure in my parenting. I was ashamed that I couldn’t keep things under control, and disappointed with myself for how the day had gone.

It’s a lot harder to be honest about insecurity than about anger, but it makes for a much calmer, less explosive conversation. Because my issue was not even about anger, we would have gotten nowhere trying to work out what was making me “mad”, until I could recognize what was truly going on underneath. Once our kids were in bed, we had time to talk it over, and I couldn’t believe how much harder it was to tell him I was feeling shame and inadequacy as a parent, as well as hurt because I misunderstood his offer to help as a subtle sign of judgement.

I wanted to be mad, because it was easier, but admitting to the messier stuff underneath brought things to the surface which I needed to work through on my own, and had nothing to do with Ben.

Brene Brown Quotesource

It is really tempting to deny responsibility, or deny the messy, ugly truth deep down inside us. But that incident with Ben, which really had nothing to do with Ben, made me feel so much better when I could identify what was truly going on, and face the messy stuff. I still have a lot more internal housecleaning to do, but it makes a big difference already to be aware of these feelings of insecurity or inadequacy I have as a parent, and the lies they’re telling me.

All of this makes me curious about what else is lurking down there. I think I have a lot more stories to explore, and some brave new endings to write!

Summer Reading

I just received a package from Amazon full of beautiful, beautiful books, just in time for me to start enjoying them on our week of vacation! I can’t wait to dig in.;) Here’s what I’ll be reading for the rest of the summer:

Boundaries1) Boundaries

I actually ordered this one already, but in my excitement over a lower price, somehow I failed to notice that it was the miniature edition! Oops. But it gave me a great overview, and was a very fast read, since it’s just a summary of the complete book, and I can’t believe how much even the mini book has been teaching me.

I’m starting to see that enforcing personal boundaries has been a huge issue for most of my life, and has led to a lot of stress and negative habits. As a middle child, I’ve always struggled with people-pleasing tendencies, and have a hard time being honest about what I really want, without feeling like I’m being rude or difficult. This book is helping me to see where I need to be a lot more honest, and make choices for my own health and well-being, without feeling like I’m being selfish.



Scary Close2) Scary Close

We’re on a relationship theme here! I love anything written by Donald Miller – he is such a fantastic storyteller, and I’ve heard really good things about this book. I would have wanted to read it anyway, but am even more excited about it now, because of the things I’ve been learning from reading Boundaries.






73) 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess

This one has been on my Wish List the longest. It goes along nicely with my purging goal for this year, as it focuses on learning to live without some things. I’m intrigued by Jen Hatmaker’s very intentional effort to dig into this topic together with her family.






Tidying4) The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

More purging inspiration! This book has been popping up everywhere, and I can’t wait to find out why everyone loves it so much. I’ve read that you should not read it while on vacation, because you will be itching to get home and start tossing out your belongings, so I’ll save this one until we get back from the lake!

But I do have to admit – even simply owning this book has already motivated me! I keep walking through my house, thinking, “I should quickly grab those things and tidy up a bit – it’s pretty magical!”

It could be this book that enables me to purge 850 more items, and reach my goal: 2015 items sent out of the house in 2015!!


I’ve had blog readers ask me in the past, “What’s with all the self-help books?! Why don’t you read some fiction?” And really, I passionately love reading fiction. Too passionately. It makes me incredibly grumpy to read fiction, because I don’t want anyone to talk to me at all, until I’m finished the book. I don’t stop reading until 2am. And then I’m even more grumpy the next day, because I’m so tired. I used to save reading fiction for on vacation, as a fun way of relaxing, but then I realized that it made me unpleasant to be on vacation with. So now, I pretty much don’t read fiction, except aloud to the girls.:)

What have you been reading lately? I love hearing about good books, so please share your favorites!!

Thinking, Reading, Snuggling

I keep telling myself that one of these days, I’ll start writing again – even if it’s just for my own good, I’m starting to feel the need for something deeper around here. As much as I love taking pictures of my sweet children, I’m missing writing.

I read this blog post about how we go through seasons of producing and consuming, and the idea made sense to me – during the months before Everett was born and the time since have definitely been more about consuming, because I’m not feeling motivated to produce much creatively. Or maybe I’ve been so busy producing a baby, I don’t have space for producing much else!;) But I can feel the desire growing in me, and feeling the pull towards producing in other ways again. Sometime soon.:)

In the meantime, we are enjoying:

Beautiful spring weather!



KayliaBuckwheat cereal for breakfast – soooo delicious with applesauce and chopped nuts mixed in, and super simple to make.

buckwheat cereal

Listening to audio books on the iPad – loving The Secret Garden and Anne of Green Gables from Focus on the Family.

KayliaPurging as a family – Ben has been helping me in the basement, and I’ve started asking the girls to get rid of 5 items each Saturday. Their choices surprised me! It’s kind of fun to see what they come up with. I had to laugh when I found this lovely couple at the top of my donation box:

purgingThey are romantically wrapped in tape – together forever!

Reading library books!! For the first time ever, our family has a library card. Now that Ben is working in Steinbach and can return library books regularly, we decided a library card would help with downsizing – there are only so and so many books we can cram into our bursting bookshelves, and as I try to simplify and get rid of stuff, this option makes sense.

Anika and EverettAnika read 20 books in the first week, which reaffirmed this decision! But she told me she wants to wait a few weeks before going back for more books, because she misses her own books, and wants to reread a bunch of them first.:)


Watching “The Flash” – discovered this new show in fall, so Ben and I have been enjoying it each week. Makes sense, since it’s produced by Greg Berlanti, who also produced “Everwood”, which we loved. It’s a superhero story, but without the dark feel to it.


Snuggling – “He’s my everlasting love.”

Kaylia and EverettThinking thoughts inspired by Dr. Caroline Leaf – and enjoying this book all over again. Having a baby makes me anxious, and it was definitely time to get back on track with my thoughts, and how much time I’ve been allowing myself to worry about stuff. Highly recommend this book to anyone who needs to think more positively! (Somehow, Ben was just born doing that, but I need all the help I can get!)

Switch on Your Brainsource

What have you been enjoying?

Anika’s Birthday Favorites 2014

We celebrated Anika’s birthday this week!


She turned 11 on Wednesday, and was quite disappointed that her birthday happened to fall on a day when we had to be rushing around in the city with appointments and swimming lessons. But she got to choose our meals for the day, which was planned out months in advance, and we’re having a little party for her tomorrow with a small group of friends.

If Anika could plan her birthday in whatever way she truly wanted to, it would be a national holiday. She would invite about 30 girls to our house, we would decorate for about a week straight, and it would be a Huge Event. Someday, she’ll make a fantastic event coordinator…

For this year, we’ve had to have many little talks about keeping things small and simple – birthday party stamina is in short supply for me, so we’ll see how this goes.

In the meantime, we’ve got the tradition list of birthday favorites that I always do for each member of the family.

Breakfast: waffles, breakfast sausage and bacon, Tatortots, Honey Cloud Pancake

Lunch and Supper: sushi, Chip Potatoes, rotisserie chicken, fried potatoes, fish, steamed broccoli, mushrooms

Snacks and Treats: muffins, cupcakes, toast, Popcorn Twists, chocolate

Things to Do: play with Polly Pockets, Lego, read, play with friends, write books

Books: The Golden Compass, The Lord of the Rings, Emily of New Moon, Anne of Green Gables, The Babysitter Club series

Color: blue

What she wants to be when she grows up: author, actress, teacher (but she’ll homeschool her own kids!)

My Favorite Things About Anika:

– Talks at bedtime. This girl cannot go to sleep until we’ve talked through anything and everything that might be on her mind, and I love it. Bedtime is my favorite time with her!

– Her ability to enjoy such a wide range of people and activities. Anika loves babies, little kids, kids her own age, adults, anybody. She is comfortable talking to everybody – hairdressers take a special delight in her, because within about two minutes in the chair, she’s maturely pouring out her thoughts and secrets, and they’re talking like old friends.

She will make anything fun – entertaining kids with toys she has long outgrown, or using her imagination to transform anything into a fun, exciting story. It is no wonder Kaylia can’t wait to spend every moment playing with her sister.:)

– Her love for the dramatic. It is her greatest joy right now to have been given one of the main parts in our church’s Christmas musical. She has waited for this for two years, and when her dream finally came true, it was very difficult to eat or sleep or function normally in any way, for a few days.

Everything is a Big Deal with Anika. At times, it is hard for me to keep up with her energy level, but at the same time, I know that as she grows and matures, this will be a gift that I hope she will use in increasingly positive ways, and that will bring joy and excitement into the lives of people around her.:)

-Her help. I would not have been able to survive this pregnancy without her!! She has done a ton of extra chores around the house, little favours for me, and helped with Kaylia. I’ve been a hormonal grouch, and she’s been so understanding, telling me when she thinks it’s time for me to lie down and take a nap!!

She’s a beautiful, sweet girl, and I keep telling her that next year, when we’re not on the verge of having a baby, we’ll make up for this year’s low-keyed celebration!!


photos: Morgan Braun

36 Birthday Favorites, and a Prize!

Hey, Friends! It’s that time again – this week is my birthday, and it’s tradition around here to share everything I’m loving right now, and the things that have made this last year enjoyable/delicious/successful/positive in any way.:)

For the past two years, I’ve made this a month long thing, which ended up feeling very… me. It kept me from blogging about other things I enjoy writing about, so we’re going to do it a bit differently this year. I’ll do a week of favorites, and we’ll still end with a prize – every time you comment and share your favorites with me, your name will get entered in a draw, and I’ll announce the winner next Monday.

The prize: I’ll share my birthday money with you, and buy you something on my list of favorites! The last two years, it’s been a book, because that is my most favorite thing to get, but we’ll see what I’m in the mood for this year.;)

So, let’s get started!

We’re going with an “Entertainment” theme today! Here are my first five favorites:

1) Movie

As I’ve explained before, I don’t watch a ton of movies. Once our girlies are in bed, it feels kind of late to start a movie, so Ben and I prefer watching an episode from a favorite TV show instead, but I really do love a good movie. The story-teller in me still craves this form of entertainment – and it is such a relief to watch something that doesn’t leave you in suspense at the end! TV shows are the worst for that!

So although I didn’t watch a lot of movies this year, I would have to say that “Saving Mr. Banks” was the best one I saw. I didn’t have very high expectations for it – how can you make a movie about making a movie??! What is the point?

Saving Mr. Bankssource

Oh, there is so much of a point! That movie is just beautiful. Humongous lump in my throat for most of it. The author’s life story is beautifully and painfully portrayed, and the connections between her real life, and the writing of Mary Poppins ensure I will never view that old movie in the same way again. Loved it.

2) TV Show

We’ve still stayed true to our old favorite, “Once Upon a Time”, although Ben did get very, very frustrated with the writing during this third season! He felt it was much weaker than it has been in the past, and yet we still keep coming back for more!:)

Once Upon a Timesource

But we definitely also enjoyed the Canadian version of “Amazing Race” last summer, and are eagerly anticipating the beginning of the new season tomorrow night! But who could ever replace Jet and Dave??!

3) Book


This is an easy choice – Switch on Your Brain was life-changing. Seriously. I wrote about the book in this post, and I have gone through three different 21 day brain detox cycles since first reading the book, just starting my fourth round. I cannot believe how this book works. I have battled some intense, deep-rooted issues in my thought habits, and absolutely love how the steps described in this book have brought me freedom.

Because it is most effective to only work on one negative thought/issue at a time, and each cycle takes three weeks, it is a bit time consuming, but completely worth it. Painful situations from the past that I thought I would carry with me for the rest of life have finally been brought to a place of peace.

I could just go to a counselor, and have someone walk me through it, but from my counseling experience in the past, I learned that I still needed to do the hard work myself – I needed the discipline to change my thoughts, and nobody could do that for me but me. I think it would still be super beneficial to go for counseling, and a book doesn’t replace that, but for this season of my life, exciting things are happening from the changes I am making with the help of this book.

4) Fun Song

Love this one! Tragically, Anika informed me she doesn’t like it anymore. We must have played it too many times!

5) Serious Song

This one was a bit harder to choose! I had two songs that carried me through December – I must have listened to both of them every single morning for a month straight. I shared the other one in this blog post, so I’ll share the second one today:

And now it’s your turn! I want to hear your favorites! Any awesome books, movies, or music I need to know about?

Switch on Your Brain

I’ve been reading such a fantastic book recently. I bought it for myself for Christmas. I’d been watching Caroline Leaf youtube videos, and finally decided I needed to try some of this “brain detox” stuff she was talking about.

Switch on Your Brainsource

Like any detox, it was quite nasty at first, and then it was quite wonderful.

The nasty part is that to begin with,  you need to learn how to become aware of what you’re truly thinking. Sometimes, negative, critical, stressful, or fearful thoughts just whip right through our heads without us taking enough notice of them to even be aware of what we’re truly thinking.

I was a bit shocked when I began to record my thoughts. I had no idea there was so much junk going on in my head. I just hadn’t ever stopped to notice. According to Dr. Leaf, it takes three weeks to get rid of a negative thought. Pick one, and just work and work and work at replacing it with something positive. The steps in her book are incredibly helpful, and I can honestly say I have experienced very positive changes since doing my first round of detox.

Dr. Leaf recommends taking 10 minutes a day to write down what you’re thinking, and then replacing the negative thought with Scripture, or some kind of positive thought or action. The first week, it seemed as though all my thoughts were negative, in some form, when I sat down to record them.

But during week two, I began to see positive thoughts popping up about things I used to think negatively about, and when week three rolled around, my original negative thought was gone. I just wasn’t thinking about it anymore.

The pull to return to old, bad habits is strong, but the longer a person resists, the stronger the new thought patterns become.

Another thing I love about this book is that Dr. Leaf shares how important journaling is – but not your basic, writing in straight lines kind of journaling. She says writing employs both the right and left sides of the brain, but the more colorful you make it, the more artistic and all over the place it goes, the happier both sides of the brain will become. It’s so much fun!

And it’s what inspired my work of art that I shared during one of my photo challenges:

Day 7

I have missed pencil crayons! It feels good to be coloring again.:)

To learn more about retraining your thoughts, you can check out Dr. Leaf’s books or Youtube videos.

Around Here Right Now

I can’t even remember the last time I did one of these posts, and since I’m pretty sure you sit around your house, just WAITING to hear more details about my awesome life, I figure it’s about time to give you a little update…

Okay, not really, but here’s what we’ve been loving lately:

1) Wholesome Gluten-free Honey Cookies

Honey Cookies

They’re supposed to be Christmas cookies, but there is NO WAY they’ll last till Christmas. These are the best gluten-free cookies I’ve ever made, and I’m pretty sure it happened at least in part by accident. Mine look nothing like the picture in the blog post, but we all don’t care, because they’re delicious. The blog I got the recipe from has never disappointed me yet! So many good gluten-free treats to try, it’s my first place to look for Christmas treats.:)

2) Another photo wall!!

Yes, I’ve done it again! This is the third photo wall I’ve put up in our house (with some help from Ben;), and I have visions of at least two more!! It makes me so very happy to see pictures up on the walls. This one’s extra special, because it includes our wedding picture, our most recent family picture, and one of my all-time favorites that I’ve taken since getting my new camera. (It’s the one on the bottom, left.:) Hydrangeas are my favorite flowers, plus the photo always reminds me of this golden evening with my dear friend Juls!)

photo wallI have a little bit of work left to do on it, but it’s already increasing my joy, especially since it’s right across from our washer and dryer – I love having something pretty to look at on my way to do the laundry!

3) Trying to find time to read!


I have a massive stack of books to get through! So many awesome books that people have borrowed to me, and I’m feeling pressure to get some major reading done so I don’t out-lend my welcome! All of them are on topics that I’ve been chewing on for awhile now, and I’m eager to do some thinking and learning as I read!

What are you enjoying these days?

Adventures with Jesus…and Peter Pan

On Monday morning, I prayed that God would give me an adventure.

I asked Him to show me who I could talk to that day, or how I might see an opportunity to connect with somebody, or bless someone close to me. As I prayed, the thought came to me that since I was taking Anika to her theatre class at the Forks, I would have the chance to meet all kinds of interesting people. There are always parents sitting around, waiting for a whole hour while their kids are in class. Surely there would be someone there just waiting for some kind of awesome conversation.

I was happily anticipating it.

So, we drove off to the Forks, Anika ran off to her class, and I sat down to wait with Kaylia in a large, open area where a number of other parents had already gotten settled. Everyone was kind of busy, so I started reading to Kaylia, quite confident that before too long, something special would happen.

Kaylia is obsessed with Peter Pan these days.

Peter Pan

I found a used copy of a kids’ chapter book version of the story, and we’ve been reading and rereading it every single day for a week, so this was her obvious choice of reading material that day during Anika’s class.

As I sat there reading, the most unusual thing began to happen – I began to collect children.

Little boys wandered over, and snuggled in close to hear the story. A baby toddled over to me, dragging her mom’s water bottle behind her, and beamed every time I paid attention to her. Kids’ moms came over to watch how intently their kids were listening to the story, expressing their amazement that these active little boys could sit so still for a chapter book.

Sadly…it was Peter Pan, with many details about pirates, and plenty of politically incorrect references to “Indians”. It’s not like it was an uplifting story in any way.

And I never got my inspiring conversation with any of the moms there.

But as the baby with the water bottle gave me a huge, toothy grin, and a boy with incredibly curly hair leaned against me as if he’d known me his whole life, it suddenly became clear to me: This was the moment of blessing – for them and for me!

I may never see those children again, but I had the opportunity to give them my time and attention. I spread a little love that morning. It didn’t look the way I expected it to, and yet I felt a strong sense that these little children needed as much love as any adult, and are no less important because they are presently smaller in size. And I remembered all over again that sometimes, we love others by loving their children.

So I never did anything huge or inspiring, and Jesus is never mentioned in the story of Peter Pan, but I felt like I had the little adventure I’d prayed for that morning. Kaylia beamed with pleasure at her new “friends” enjoying the story with her, and as she snuggled against me on one side, and a little boy leaned in for a better view of Captain Hook’s picture, I decided that unexpected adventures are the best kind of all.;)

May you enjoy your Wednesday,and experience an adventure or two, as well!

What I’ll Be Reading

So excited – I was able to order a few books today with some gift cards, and I can’t wait for them to come!

Zero Waste Home jacketZero Waste Home – Oh, this will be a fun one! I’ve been following Bea Johnson’s blog, and I love the photos of her home. It is spotless. And very white. I don’t think I’d actually like to live in it, but I find it very inspiring.

She takes the idea of controlling clutter to a whole new level – just don’t get clutter in the first place. She doesn’t have to spend much time purging, because they don’t own a lot of stuff to begin with, and they stop the clutter from ever entering their home. She says it frees up a lot of time and money, which I totally believe.

focus-on-food-photography-for-bloggersFood Photography for Bloggers – I feel the silliest about this one, but Ben says he won’t tease me too much for ordering it! I’m not a food blogger, obviously, but for some reason, I just love taking pictures of food. I think food is colorful and beautiful, and I’ve always loved arranging it in artistic ways, so photographing it joins all my loves together.

The photos I’ve seen online from this book are unbelievable, so I’m extremely curious to get it and spend more time looking and learning.

Kisses from KatieKisses From Katie – If you haven’t heard of this story, you should most definitely watch this video about Katie Davis. SO inspiring, I’m actually nervous to read the book. I’m not sure I’m ready to be as convicted and changed as what I’m expecting to be. You may suddenly read that we’ve sold our house and are starting an orphanage in Africa, or something!

What are you reading this summer?

Some Good Reads and a Give-Away

Hello, Friends!

I’ve been coming across so many great articles and blog posts this week, I feel the urge to share some of them with you!

A little extra reading for what looks like a rainy long weekend:

I’m Still Here: Back Online After a Year Without the Internet : Turns out, distractions are everywhere, even without the internet…

Have American Parents Got it All Backwards? : Some interesting observations on parenting techniques from other cultures….

When You Feel Like Everybody is Bigger, Better, Smarter… : “She would make her life small.” For everyone trying to lay it all down for Jesus…

And because I’ve got a shiny new gift card, here are the books I’m eying these days:

Zero Waste Home: Reusable fresh produce bags, and countless other ideas on how to save money and consume less? I’m in.

Clean Food: A Seasonal Guide to Eating Close to the Source: My friend says it’s amazing, and I’ve been loving Clean Start.

God’s Favorite Place on Earth : “Bethany was the only place on earth where Jesus was completely received.” I love this observation, and it sounds like an awesome book!

The Gift of an Ordinary Day: The very thing I’m so passionate about! This mother writes about savoring the moments we take for granted.


Finally, because my sister is awesome, and knows the way to my heart, she is providing me with a free copy of my current favorite book, Naked Spirituality, to give away on my blog!

So excited!! Here’s what you have to do to enter the draw:

Let me know what your current favorite book is! You can only enter one favorite, and you have until next week Friday.

Make my gift card decision a little more complicated!