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So, it’s Valentine’s Day and you have no significant other to spend it with this year. Your co-workers are receiving deliveries of flowers and edible arrangements from loved ones while you anticipate the 70% off sale on candy tomorrow. Scrolling down your timeline may even trigger a lot of emotion as you thumb through paragraphs of love stories and view pictures of all the couples on your friend’s list. Cue the violins and pass the ice cream girl. I feel you. I really do. Just know that your relationship status is never complicated with God.

Bible and picture frame

I know that navigating through this day may have been pretty difficult for those of you who may not have someone to celebrate with, but why do we feel the need to be in a relationship in order to feel loved? Your happiness and well being should never depend on whether or not you receive flowers and candy one day a year. If that’s the case, we’re all doing something wrong here. It’s the heart’s desire to feel all the “feels” on this day, but we have a greater love in our creator. With God, you’ll never have to question your purpose in the relationship. It’s already been written. You won’t ever feel like a side piece or even a snack. Girl, we are full course meals around here!

Because of a lack of self-worth and the pressures of social media, we can easily find ourselves in situations that may be compromising in order to feel an ounce of love or what we think love might feel like. With God, you’ll never have to question your actions or see yourself in a compromising situation to receive what He has for you. He loves every inch of you exactly where you are right now in this moment. Now that’s love sis…pure, unadulterated, love. I’m sorry to tell you, but this is the kind of love that you can’t find in a man.

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

-1 John 4:10

I need you to know that you are loved and will always be loved by God. He loved you first. His love is everlasting no matter your relationship status. His love is never complicated. Your status with God will never change. Your place in His heart will always be reserved. It’s worth so much more than any reservation you could ever make one day a year. You are a daughter of the king and nothing less. 

“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.”1 John 4:16

Rest in believing in these words and know that one day will not remove the lifetime investment of your heart in God’s hands. One day can never define your value to yourself or others. One day will not determine your worth. You are loved. You are enough. You are whole just as you are. No one else can complete you. God already did that when you broke the mold.

Happy Valentine’s day my friend.

xoxo

girl holding flowers

Besides the constant talks of maintaining our mental heal, self-care is the next topic that’s all the buzz amongst millennials these days on social media. The popular hashtag has been overused and misunderstood for a while now. When most of us think of self-care, we think of expensive pedicures, Instagram worthy vacations, and things we just can’t afford to do regularly. What I’ve realized is that self-care is not as complicated as people make out to be. It could be so simple. Self-care is so much more than bubble baths and pedicures. It’s about doing the things that bring you joy. The simple things. As I get older I’m learning that self-care is such a necessary part of my well-being. I have to be intentional about making it happen often in order to continue to pour into others. So here are a few ways that apply self-care on a daily basis.

Keep up with doctor appointments

This may not sound very hashtag worthy, but going to the doctor, dentist, and even my therapist regularly are so necessary and count as self-care for me. In years past, I’ve slacked off in this area and paid the price a few times. I always made it a priority to keep up with my children’s appointments and have always kept them up to date, but I slacked with maintaining my own health. Now, I make sure to schedule every doctor’s appointment and make room on my calendar no matter what’s going on so that I can maintain my health.

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Work out

Most days I dread going to the gym or doing any type of physical activity for that matter. But, once I get in my groove and start to break a sweat, it feels so good! I get to clear my mind, blast my music, and feel good about taking care of my body all at once. This also counts as my “me time.” You can never get enough of “me-time.” Just like going to the doctor, working out along with eating right is so good for your body.

Stream my favorite series or movie

When the kids are asleep, that’s my time to hop in bed or on the sofa and binge my favs like This Is Us or whatever Netflix original is poppin at the time. Last night I stayed up and watched Stepbrothers. I haven’t seen that movie in years and it’s definitely not kid-appropriate. I love being able to zone out for a little while and not have to think about bills or what I’m cooking for dinner. I put my phone and my laptop away and just enjoy the moment.

Woman take a shower

Take my shower before the kids

Lately, I’ve been saying that I’ve graduated in parenthood because my kids are at a good age now where I can leave them unattended for extended periods of time and know they’ll still be alive when I come back. In just a few months they’ll be 7 and 10 years old. So, I’ve been taking full advantage of that. Rather than being the last person to bathe at the end of the night, I occasionally hop in front of the line and take my time in the shower. Southern California hasn’t gotten the memo that it’s actually fall, so the whole no-shave November thing was a bust. I finally shaved my legs the other night and I feel like a brand new woman. LOL I’ll turn on a little music and strip away all of the stress of the day before I get into full “mommy mode” for the night. This gives me a little private time for myself and allows me to decompress so I can give my kids the best part of me. When I get out I’m relaxed and all cleaned up. It’s just a good feeling to be able to take care of myself for a few minutes before the storm or dinner, homework, and everything in between comes along.

Eat my favorite foods without interruption

If you’re a mom, you should know the feeling all too well of not being able to fully enjoy a meal in peace, let alone a snack. I’m down to the point where I purposely buy foods I know my daughters don’t eat, so they won’t ask me for them. The struggle is so real in my kitchen. So, being able to eat my favorite foods in peace is part of my self-care routine. I wait until the girls head to bed and sneak off to the kitchen and devour a few scoops of Talenti Gelato before going to bed myself. This is not an everyday habit, which makes it even sweeter.

Jam to my favorite music, listen to an audiobook, or podcast

I create playlists for myself that each fit for the mood I’m in. Jamming to my favorite songs at the gym, in the car, or even while cleaning the house helps me to decompress and destress while just enjoying the moment. I also love to listen to podcasts and audiobooks to pass the time. I enjoy listening to other people’s stories and perspectives and just being motivated in general. Because I’m always on the go, listening to a good podcast or audiobook is so ideal for me.

woman writing in a notebook

Write my heart out

No matter the mood I’m in, writing is always self-care. Sometimes I take my time and jot things down in my journal, while most times I’m writing on the go in a Google Doc or on my notes app on my phone. I may write about how I’m feeling that day, or write a few affirmations to keep me going through the day. Writing is a great release for me and I suggest it for anyone whether you’re a writer or not.

Affirm myself in the mirror

You ever pass by the mirror and say “Damn! I’m Fine!?” No?…just me? Cool. Well, I do this ALL the time. I look in the mirror and I tell myself just how amazing I am. I could be fully clothed heading out to work or naked only covered in my stretch marks and scars. Either way, I appreciate my body and myself for what it is and who I am. Now that’s self-care! Sometimes I’ll take a stick of red lipstick and write words of affirmation on our mirrors or jot down those words on sticky notes. I’ll place them through the house, in my car, or carry them in my purse. My girls love to join in on this too. When I affirm myself, I affirm them as well.

These are just a few, but not all of the many ways that apply self-care in my everyday life. How do you show yourself some love? If you haven’t taken time out for yourself, what’s holding you back? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

Take a listen to this week’s podcast: “Self-Care is More Than a Hashtag”

The other day I took my girls with me to Target to window shop and of course, in typical Target fashion, I left with more than I intended to as well as a stomach full of a sweet caramel coffee concoction.

I ended up purchasing a couple of bras and a few pairs of underwear, which is out of the norm for me. I typically lean toward a $9.99 pack of cotton briefs from Walmart and bra from the clearance section that may or may not be my size and make it last a long as humanly possible. I’m just being honest here. I know I can’t be the only one. This time, I decided to treat myself and get some of the colorful, frilly stuff that makes you feel sexy in all the right places even though these places won’t be seeing the light of day for a while. (Hashtag single mama).

Aniyah hanging from monkey bars in a blue dress

When I got home, I decided to try on my new gear, which also leads me to realize that I’m officially an adult now to be that excited about new underwear among other things like electric toothbrushes. My youngest fell asleep after her bath, but my oldest was still up and wanted to hang out in my room.

For most of their lives, it’s been just the three of us, so I’ve always dressed in front of them with no shame. As I went in and out of the closet to try on each piece as if it was a low budget fashion show, I voiced how each made me feel and what I loved most about my body. I often speak to my girls openly about body image and loving ourselves both internally and externally.

I allowed myself to be vulnerable

Aniyah asked about my stretch marks and where they come from. I explained how I believe they’re my badge of honor for becoming her mother. I told her how my body stretched as God formed her in my womb and I was left with my “tiger stripes” as evidence of the most amazing experience that led to my initiation into motherhood. I told her how much I loved my thick thighs and how they’d always been that way even at her age. I even did a little shimmy to show her how they jiggle. She laughed and jiggled hers too.

The short conversation left a big impact

After pointing out my flaws and explaining how I love them anyway, I told Aniyah just how beautiful I believe she is and that we are a lot alike in so many ways. She ended the conversation by telling me that she loves her body just the way it is and that she loves her thighs too. I couldn’t stop smiling from ear to ear and held her so tight. She didn’t realize it, but that short conversation we had while I stood in front of a mirror in my underwear exposing my love handles and stretch marks was one of the most powerful conversations we’ve ever had.

I didn’t want history to repeat itself

I suffered from issues with body image my entire life until recently. I covered up as much as I could and was ashamed for what I looked like. I wanted to look like the other girls I went to school with. I envied their thigh gap, flat stomachs, and skinny arms. I’ve always had a small waist, thick thighs, and arms that jiggled.

I remember going to the doctor at thirteen for a checkup and hearing my mother and the doctor whisper about my being overweight while I sat on the table holding back tears of frustration, embarrassment, and anger. I felt like I was built wrong and shamed for it. My stepfather would make jokes about my size and ask me if I was pregnant. My weight fluctuated from being overweight to being extremely small through my high school years.

I chose to break the cycle

It took a few years and a few wrong turns to learn to love myself just the way I am not reliant on the opinions of others. It also took me to go through these experiences to learn how to mother my children in areas that I’ve never experienced in my own childhood. Because of the hurt that I experienced at a young age and the lack of support and encouragement, I was able to give these things to my own daughter who doesn’t quite fit the mold according to society. I see myself in my little nine-year-old melanin beauty. I tell her that God just gave me more of her to love and that’s a fact.

One day, I looked at myself in the mirror.  This time was much different than the rest. I stopped passing the image in my reflection by like a stranger on the street and actually looked myself in the eyes. I broke down in tears and finally saw myself as beautiful. Not because someone else told me I was, but because I was witness to it with my own eyes. I was in my purest form, no filter, just freckles, and clean skin. I was no longer in need of losing a few more pounds or wishing my hair grew out of my scalp differently.

The feeling of acceptance came over me and I got a glimpse of how God might have envisioned my existence prior to forming me in my mother’s womb. I saw myself as a “Good Thing.”  Not just a good thing for the man I was created for, but a good thing in the eyes of my creator.

Over the years, I’ve become a testament to so many trials in my life that eventually caused me to view myself in ways I shouldn’t have.  I doubted myself in times where I now believe I could have pushed past insecurities. I found myself feeling defeated and even depressed. I felt small, unattractive, and incapable.  For a period, I depended on the opinions of others for my happiness while still being unhappy with myself. It took years and a couple of wrong turns, but I slowly began to learn to love myself again and affirm my inner beauty, not just on the exterior, but for what was inside of me as well.

I believed in what God’s word said about me

“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”

– 1 Peter 2:9

God’s word was the love letter that I needed to read in order to better understand the inner workings of my being. Throughout the Bible, His word affirms just what the enemy attempted to persuade me I’m wasn’t. The word tells me that I was specifically created in the image of God.  It tells me that I am set apart and chosen. It says that there is a purpose over my life and that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. It showed me that I was formed with intention and purpose.  I no longer viewed myself as a mistake or the “odd man out,” but a handcrafted product of God’s workmanship.

I stopped comparing myself to others

“But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.”

-Galatians 6:4

With the overpowering influence of social media, it’s easy to compare yourself to not only the well-known supermodel on your timeline but even the girl next door using a filter and a few hashtags to get ahead.  From my six-year-old “baby fat” and stretch marks to my thinning edges, I found myself comparing what I thought others had to the reality of my own circumstance. I soon realized that the very people that I seemed to idolize were hiding behind their own insecurities covered by a Snapchat filter and a scripted motivational speech.

I later began to search myself and learn more of who I was.  I searched the word continuously. I fasted and wrote love letters to myself in my journal each day. The only music I listened to glorified God and nothing else.   I took away social media and television and focused on the rawest form of myself as I leaned on the rawest form of God in my presence. Let me tell you, a good fast can have you seeing things as you’ve never seen them before.  

All of these things allowed me to find clarity within myself. I was able to focus again.

I cast out the adverse views of who I thought I was and replaced them with who God knew me to be. No longer would I allow the views and opinions of others or the words of the enemy to dominate how I perceived myself.

I decided to change my perception of myself and learn to view what I thought was an imperfection as a compliment to God’s unique blueprint for who I was.  I embraced every flaw inside and out and affirmed within myself daily that every piece and part of me was created with intention and I’m proud to be a representation of God’s craftsmanship.

I loved myself just as God loved me

“So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us.  God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”  

-Galatians 2:20

Just knowing that God loved me just for who I was…for who He created me to be has changed my whole perspective of myself.   I remember being afraid to even walk past a mirror because of what I might see. I didn’t want my reflection to be a disappointment.  

I didn’t look like a supermodel and still don’t.  My weight fluctuates constantly and I’m still in the process of growing in my natural eyebrows.  I don’t live in a world of ring lights, filters, and layers of makeup. I’m just Erin and I ‘m in love with the woman that she’s become and evolving to be…flaws and all.  This was not something that happened overnight, but with time I learned how to have self love simply because of God’s love for me. I learned to let my light shine in the midst of so much darkness.  I picked up all of my broken pieces and began to put myself together one day at a time just through the strength of knowing that I am loved by my Father in heaven.

I Encouraged Myself

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.”

-Proverbs 18:21

I affirmed my inner beauty by encouraging myself.  I looked myself in the mirror and spoke life daily.  I wrote down words of affirmation like “I am capable of all things” and “I am enough” and placed them on sticky notes to place on my vanity and even my car’s dashboard.   It may sound like something so small, but it worked. Those powerful words were embedded inside of me.

My mirror was lined with pink and gold sticky notes full of inspiration.  I got to a point where I didn’t have to look at the notes to myself anymore.   There was no need for reminders. I believed in this and walked in it regardless of what my past opinions of myself were.  I now had a better understanding that God created me in His image and His alone. There is nothing greater than knowing that I am a child of the most high…a daughter of the one true king.  There’s no reason to think any less of myself. I am royalty so I fixed my crown and walked with my head held high.

This process wasn’t easy and I am still a work in progress.  Just as we journey to continue to live saved, we journey in loving ourselves completely as God loves us for everything we are.  I’ve learned to show myself grace and to accept myself in raw form. How do you change the negative views of yourself in order to affirm your inner beauty?