Redeeming Anxiety

It’s been a long not-quite-two years for me. After weaning our fourth child, my hormones took a dive and it has been a long, long uphill battle with panic attacks and ridiculous anxiety. My nights just weren’t the same.

I’ve since made my way to a routine that works well for me and my hormones are recovering. I haven’t had a panic attack in a long time, and the most persistent issue of anxiety is slowly waning.

Today I wanted to share one of the tricks I’ve found to be particularly helpful when I’m fighting anxiety and why I believe it is so effective for me.

Redeeming Anxiety - One simple change that made a big difference for me.

For me, anxiety usually hits at night when I’m trying to fall asleep. If I am not careful, it can creep into full on panic attack. I’ve figured out a bunch of physical triggers for my panic attacks and know how to watch for those so I don’t trigger one.

But the mental ones are the ones that always catch me off guard. It can literally be one sentence a few hours before bed that will start one. The most recent one was on my husband’s birthday.

We were driving home and I asked him if he had a great birthday. He said yes and I said good…but my brain finished the sentence with “now I can die happy.”

Seriously.

It came out of nowhere and stuck with me all evening. By the time I went to bed, I was in full pre-panic attack mode. It was a rough night.

So what helps?

Prayer.

Now before you write me off with an “I already pray about this all the time,” please hear me out. I get it. I know what you mean. I have been there.

When I changed what I was praying about, I saw a difference. It was a simple switch. I simply went from praying about what was going on and asking God to change/stop it, to praying about the specific worry or concern that I had in a way that was bigger than myself.

An example: One of my biggest fears is losing my husband or one of my children. It is a big trigger for me. Before, I would pray and thank God for my husband and children when I feared losing them.

This was not a bad thing at all, but it was not particularly helpful. The last time this happened, it was triggered by hearing of the death of the 15-year-old daughter of someone I didn’t even know.

Now, when I find myself anxious about someone dying (or anything), I pray for those who are currently walking through it. I do this for any anxious thought that tries to come at me. If I don’t know anyone by name who is walking through whatever is making me anxious, I pray for those that I don’t know, knowing that God knows.

The reason this works for me is that what I’m dealing with isn’t reality. It is fear of something that MIGHT happen. It really isn’t logical. And I know this, but it doesn’t make it any less difficult to deal with in my head.

By turning my attention from me, I take the power of the fear away. I usually get lost in praying for those who ARE going through the loss of a loved one, a sick child, or <insert fear here> and my fears are replaced with compassion.

So, that’s it. My little trick is basically to stop thinking of myself. It works for me and, if you are dealing with anxiety, I hope you can find some comfort in it, too.

12 Books to Help You Take Better Pictures

Cameras are everywhere these days. Most of us carry at least one around with us daily (camera phone, anyone?) and we likely have access to at least one other. Whether you have a point and shoot, a digital SLR, or an old-school film camera, chances are, you want to take better pictures.

12 Books to Help You Take Better Pictures

Today, I’m sharing a collection of books that have spent a couple months in my house courtesy of our library. There is something for everyone here.

Snapp Shots: How to Take Great Pictures with Smartphones and Apps by Adam Bronkhorst – This is a fun book. It covers your basics like understanding how your phone’s camera works, setting up a good shot, and editing. My personal favorite sections were the last three: Using the Shot, Taking it Farther, and Accessories.

Sixty Tips for Creative iPhone Photography by Martina Holmberg – Obviously, this book is geared specifically for iPhone users. It covers the very basics like what an app is, and moves on to more advanced subjects. The tips are short but effective. There are a lot of examples to illustrate the tips, too. There is also a section on video and plenty of app suggestions.

The Unforgettable Photograph: 228 Ideas, Tips, and Secrets for Taking the Best Pictures of Your Life by George Lange with Scott Mowbray – The subtitle on this one sets pretty lofty expectations, doesn’t it? If you read this, I don’t think you can help but take better pictures. Photography is about more than pressing a button on a camera. This book focuses more on the storytelling of photography and why it is important in creating better pictures.

Mamarazzi: Every Mom’s Guide to Photographing Kids by Stacy Wasmuth – This book is geared for moms who want to take better pictures of their kids, but it is helpful if you want to shoot other people’s kids, too…with a camera, of course. Each section includes a focus on a professional photographer for even more ideas.

The Beginner’s Photography Guide: The Ultimate Step-By-Step Manual for Getting the Most From Your Digital Camera by DK Publishing – This is a very good, visual guide book. Lots of photos and illustrations to show you exactly what they are talking about. This book includes a section on equipment that is very helpful.

The iPhone Photographer: How to Take Professional Photographs with Your iPhone by Michael Fagans – Each section tells of a specific session the photographer shot, including apps used. Aside from the apps, this book could work for any camera phone, I think.

Art of Everyday Photography: Move Toward Manual & Make Creative Photos by Susan Tuttle – This is a good guide for those who want to start working with the manual settings on their DSLR cameras. Great info that covers portrait, food, nature, and everyday life photography.

Understanding Flash Photography: How to Shoot Great Photographs Using Electronic Flash by Bryan Peterson – This is a great, thorough look into using a flash in your photos. There is an art to creating great photos with a flash, flash can make your pictures flat and wash out the subjects. Understanding how it works will help you take better pictures with flash.

Understanding Exposure: How to Shoot Great Photographs With Any Camera by Bryan Peterson – Another thorough book, this time on exposure. This is a great next step book for those looking to break away from the presets on their DSLR and gain experience shooting in manual modes.

Your Baby in Pictures: The New Parents’ Guide to Photographing Your Baby’s First Year by Me Ra Koh – This book is broken down by age brackets for ideas on what to capture when. Each suggestion includes tips for those working with a point and shoot camera and those working with a digital SLR camera.

A Beautiful Mess Photo Idea Book: 95 Inspiring Ideas for Photographing Your Friends, Your World, and Yourself by Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman – This is an inspirational book. It doesn’t focus so much on the technical side of photography, but on the composition and creative side. This book includes creative ideas for props and backgrounds, too.

Expressive Photography: The Shutter Sisters’ Guide to Shooting From the Heart by The Shutter Sisters – The sections in this book are categorized like this: Horizons, Portraiture, Nature, Documentary, Togetherness, etc. Each section includes an introduction, approach, perspective, composition, lighting, details, and processing. The book is written by several photographers, so there is a variety of thought processes shared.

There you have it, 12 books to help you take better pictures. Pick one up from Amazon today or see if your library has it. Either way, start reading and then start clicking!

5 Good Reads on Christian Faith for Moms

It’s time for another round of 5 on the 5th. Seeing as today is Easter Sunday, I have decided to share 5 good reads on Christian faith for moms that I read this past month. I try to focus the Simply Vicki Facebook page on Christian faith each Sunday.

Sort of a setting apart of the day. And a lot like a lot of things, I’m not getting it perfect yet. But if you would like to come hang out with me over on Facebook, I would love that!

5 Good Reads on Christian Faith for Moms |Vicki-Arnold.com

5 Good Reads on Christian Faith for Moms

In no particular order, here are my choices for 5 good reads on Christian faith from March.

A Clean House and a Wasted Life – Tim Challies

If you struggle with housekeeping or keeping a balanced perspective of housekeeping, this is a good read for you.

The Hard Prayers of a Mother – We Are THAT Family

My heart resonates with this post. We are in the thick of the emotional moments these days. A particularly good quote for me – “Or maybe just letting go of our illusion of control never gets easier.”

6 Prayers for the Stubborn Child’s Heart – The Road to 31

I appreciate the author’s pointing out of the good in a stubborn child. It is so easy to miss when you are facing a defiant, stubborn child. Point #3 is very spot on and one that I try to keep at the heart of my parenting for all of my children.

5 Ideas for Ministering to Others Even With Small Children at Home – The Purposeful Mom

This read may be challenging or encouraging to you, it was a bit of both for me. I appreciated the reminder that if I want my children to minister to others, they need to see that happen often. For this, the thing I appreciated most about the article is the list of practical ways to actually do this.

The Most Loving Thing I’ve Done For Our Marriage – Club 31 Women

It is easy to lose focus of what really matters and to find ourselves spinning our wheels in a lot of areas. When we take the time to refocus, everyone benefits. In marriage, I believe she is spot on in her statements here.

Activity Ideas for The Friend of Little Children – Jesus Storybook Bible

In our 3-6 children’s church class, we have been working through The Jesus Storybook Bible and I’m always looking for activity ideas for them. Today I have partnered with a group of bloggers to bring you some activity ideas for The Friend of Little Children as a part of a huge blog hop of sorts.

We are building a list of activity ideas for EACH story/account in The Jesus Storybook Bible. I signed up for The Friend of Little children. You can see them all linked up on the main page over at My Mundane and Miraculous Life.

Activity Ideas for The Friend of Little Children from The Storybook Bible | Vicki-Arnold.com

Activity Ideas for The Friend of Little Children

There are a few different themes you can explore with this story:

  • Friendship – As Christians, we are blessed to be friends of Jesus. You can explore the theme of friendship with your little ones by talking about what being a good friend is, role playing out different friend situations (when someone has a toy you want, for example), or make a gift for their friends.
  • Service – Exploring service with preschoolers is a great time for role playing. One possible activity is to wash each other’s feet. You wash your child’s and then have them wash yours. Or serve each other tea and cookies at a tea party.
  • Priorities – A good one if you have older students that you would like to include. Talk about what is important to us and compare it to what is important to God. Maybe make a picture graph for little ones with magazine cut-outs and have older students make a chart or list.

Our Activity for The Friend of Little Children

We chose to focus on friendship for our activity. After we read the story, we talked about how great it is to be a friend of God. Then we talked about our friends. The 3-year-old counted off his friends (most made the list more than once…).

Then we decided to make a gift for a friend. We decided to color a picture for his friend Jeremiah. Oliver is all about dinosaurs right now and my friend Annette over at In All You Do has several dinosaur printables that we just love.

I printed out the coloring pages and let Oliver pick one for Jeremiah. We talked about which one he thought Jeremiah would like and what colors he would like on it. He chose an orange cat. 😉

Dinosaur coloring pages from In All You Do

Then Oliver picked one of his Dragon Legends cards (purchased at the Creation Museum) especially for Jeremiah. He changed his mind after I took the photo so he ended up giving him the sparkly purple one.

Dinosaur coloring pages and dragon legend cards

Then we packaged it up in an envelope, which he also decorated, and hand delivered it to Jeremiah. It was adorable.

I’ve said it many times before, crafting and doing activities with kids does not have to be a complicated affair. They enjoy the time with you and will pick up much more than you could ever actually teach. They’re funny like that, little sponges.

I hope you enjoyed the activity ideas for The Friend of Little Children from The Jesus Storybook Bible. Be sure to check out all the other activities over at My Mundane and Miraculous Life!

These Are a Few of My Favorite Lilla Rose Things + Another Giveaway

You may be noticing a theme this week. I haven’t done a good giveaway series since the 12 Days of Christmas in July two years ago now. So when the opportunity to give you all the chance to win some BIG prizes, I jumped on it. I love the blessings that giveaways can be.

Today I am sharing a few of my favorite Lilla Rose items and then there is a big giveaway for $125 in cash via PayPal!

My Favorite Lilla Rose Things

The main product of Lilla Rose is the flexi clip. This unique clip is so flexible and once you master the slight learning curve, it holds all day long. The size I wear most often is the mini because I wear my hair half up a lot.

These are a Few of My Favorite Lilla Rose Things | Vicki-Arnold.com

But Lilla Rose isn’t just about the awesome flexi clip. I recently ordered a hair band (head band) and a set of bobby pins to try. I love them both. The hair band actually stays put, unlike others that I have tried. They usually pop off my head if I happen to move it, which I do often.

The bobby pins are gorgeous! I will admit, I had a hard time spending several dollars on a pair of bobby pins. However, these aren’t tiny like the Goody bobby pins you find in the hair care section of your grocery store. They are over 2 inches long and hold firmly in my hair. I currently have one pair, but intend to buy more.

Enough chit chat, here is a short list of my favorite Lilla Rose things at the moment. I will go left to right, starting with the top row in the graphic.

Be sure to check out all the loveliness that is Lilla Rose. In addition to the flexis, bobbies, and hair bands, they also have hair sticks, you-pins, badge clips, and more.

$125 PayPal Cash Giveaway!

Paypal Cash Giveaway with Pretty Providence! Hey everybody! Get excited, because today we are helping our friends at Pretty Providence celebrate their 3rd blog birthday with an amazing $125 Paypal Cash Giveaway! A little extra cash never hurt anybody, am I right? Whether you need some cash because times are tight or you are gonna splurge on something fun, this giveaway is for you!

We have some of our seriously amazing blog friends helping us bring this giveaway to you today, and it wouldn’t be possible without them, so how about some quick introductions?!birthday-giveaway-twitter-logosMeet Penny || Tips From a Typical Mom || Pretty Providence || Simply Vicki || Moms Without Answers

Okay, now let’s get down to the goods! All you have to do to enter is follow the prompts on the rafflecopter below, and this one is so easy ! I mean, who doesn’t love some great new friends to follow on twitter?!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck everybody! We hope YOU win ;)! Be sure to check back at Pretty Providence because they have tons of birthday posts and 5 live giveaways up to celebrate their blog birthday this week!

Challenge Yourself…Intentionally

Challenge Yourself...Intentionally - How to use challenges to better your life this year and every year.

“New year, new me!”

Did you see this in your Facebook newsfeed a few weeks ago? How about the posts of varying levels of making fun of such posts? I had both in my feed. It’s kind of amazing to me how pessimistic so many people have become about things like resolutions and goals.

I’ll say it again, I’m a fan of goals and resolutions, or whatever you want to call them. I believe them to fall in the same vein as Proverbs 29:18a – “Where there is no vision, the people perish“. Goals give us a vision of what the future can look like.

Does that mean our future WILL look like our vision? Not always. Sometimes we start out with certain goals for specific reasons and along the way we realize that God had different reasons. And sometimes that reason is for us to fail.

Yes, I believe that God wants us to fail sometimes. Is that scandalous? It totally flies in the face of any prosperity or candy-coated gospel, for sure. Life as a Christian isn’t all sunshine and roses. If it was, why would we need faith in God? Why would we still need a savior?

Yep, I believe God wants us to fail sometimes because it reminds us of three things:

  1. We can’t do this alone.
  2. His grace is sufficient for our shortcomings.
  3. He is always working in us for a greater good.

Actually there are more reasons, but suffice it to say that we learn a great deal from our failings and God is more concerned with growing us in our faith than He is with our earthly circumstances.

This is why I don’t mind setting new goals, even if I didn’t meet a previous goal. I want to always be learning and growing.

Enough backstory, now I want to challenge you.

One of the best ways to jumpstart change in your life is by taking up a challenge. What kind of challenge? Well, that depends on what problem you want solved and your end-goal. Let’s break it down a bit by common areas people look to make change in their life.

Faith

Does your faith feel stagnant? Don’t be satisfied with that! Listen for that still small voice in your heart and see where God wants to grow you. Consider challenging yourself in these areas:

Prayer

Reading the Bible

  • Pick a topical study of the Bible and do it daily.
  • Read through the Bible or a portion of the Bible in a set timeframe.
  • Commit to reading the Bible daily for a week or month (baby-step it, whatever you need to do to create a better habit with this).
  • Choose a book of the Bible and read it every day for a week.

Service

Daily Life

If you want to see improvement in some area of your life, challenge yourself to start today. Are you miserable in your job? Map out a plan to change jobs or even career fields. Set a time frame and get going! A few other ideas:

  • Reduce your spending. Challenge yourself to not spend any money for a whole month (outside of necessities that you decide upon BEFORE starting).
  • Save more money. Do you have a daily purchase like coffee or lunch out? Or maybe a bigger weekly/monthly purchase like dinners out? Commit to skipping that for a month (or 2-3 if it is a bigger/more sporadic expense) and saving the money in a special account.
  • De-Clutter. Are you overwhelmed by the amount of STUFF in your life? Try out a de-cluttering challenge, there are a LOT of options out there. A few to consider – 10 Minutes a Day, 31 days to clutter free, or do a mini challenge.
  • Better food choices. Give up sugar for a month. Drop your daily coffee or soda. Try meatless Monday for a month. Add a green smoothie to your day for a week. Pick your weakest area and challenge yourself to make better choices (spell it out better than that though).
  • Move more. Sit at a desk job? Commit to standing while talking on the phone for two weeks. Or use your break time to take a quick walk outside all week. Work at home or are a stay at home parent in a rut? Set a timer each hour for 10 minutes and climb steps, stretch, bounce on a rebounder, or go outside and pull some weeds in the garden.
  • Keeping a clean home. Try leaving your sink empty each night for a week. Or challenge yourself to clean something everyday that you won’t have to touch again for at least 2 weeks.

Health

  • Weight loss. If you are struggling with weight loss, commit to no sugar for a time of at least 21 days. This will help reset your cravings and likely jumpstart your loss.
  • Drink more water. Try setting a goal of 6-8 glasses of water each day for a week or more and then see how you feel at the end.
  • Exercise. If exercise is a 4-letter word to you, but you want to lose weight, tone up, or boost your energy…you’re going to need to add exercise to your list. Challenge yourself to try a new form of exercise every day (or 3-5x’s per week) for a couple weeks. By trying new things, you may find a form of exercise that you just love to do!
  • Kick bad habits. Pick one and hyper-focus your efforts to kick it to the curb. Replace bad habits with good ones. It takes 21 days to create a new habit, so be patient with yourself.

Intentional Living

The whole point of these challenges is to try something new. Make different choices to see different results. It really isn’t about the goal, it is about the day-to-day decisions that lead you there. Be intentional to challenge yourself this year and see where God takes you!

Living the Intentional Life

Living the Intentional Life

Life goes by so fast. These kids keep just growing up. Birthdays just keep coming. And it is GOOD. It’s just so easy to get wrapped up in the details and miss the big picture. Or is it just me?

Every year I choose one word to set the tone for my year. I have varying levels of success with this, but I continue on because I find it helpful.

Previous Years:

The year 2015 is another big year for me in some ways. The most bittersweet happening is that my oldest child will enter her teen years. I have been hit in the face with the realization that she will be entering the adult phase of her life in 5 years! Five years seemed so far away when she was born, but now that I’ve been a parent for awhile, I realize just how short those years will feel.

The big milestones are just going to keep coming. I don’t want to miss them! So this year’s word is Intentional because I need practice with this. I’m not a very intentional person. I tend to float through daily life.

Don’t get me wrong, I love goal setting and working towards meeting those goals. I’m just really bad about thinking ahead or outside of the box of right now. It’s probably why I’m so drawn to the idea of goal setting. Or something.

Living the Intentional Life

Since choosing a word alone doesn’t change anything, I have chosen some areas I want to focus on being intentional with and will spend time this year working on these.

  • Building my foundation. Over the last year, I came to realize that I do have a routine…and it’s not exactly efficient. The very first thing I want to be intentional about is building my foundation, putting first things first. I’ve not been very good at this traditionally because the things I want to do are not necessarily what is actually best for me. As cliche as it is, this means focusing on my health – spiritually and physically.
  • Stepping up my game. I have some big goals for 2015. I want to travel more. I want to have a successful garden again. I want to grow my blogging towards my goal of a full-time income. This will require consistent efforts in some areas that I have been kind of spotty with up to this point.
  • Focus on relationships. I am an introvert that lives a lot in my head. This doesn’t exactly build relationships. Add in that I get overwhelmed with lots of people interactions and I end up resembling more of a hermit than a person. I want to stretch my box and be intentional about building the relationships that matter in my life, with particular emphasis on my husband and children.
  • Identifying and utilizing my strengths. I have them, I know I do. At least, I think I do. I’ve not really given much thought to my strengths. Now, my weaknesses, those I am intimately familiar with…

Documenting the Intentional Life

If you have been around long enough to remember that I once entertained the idea of being a photographer, this will make you laugh. I am terrible at taking pictures! I am even more terrible at printing those pictures I DO take. This year I decided, NO MORE EXCUSES!

I now have an iPhone, iPad, a point and shoot camera, AND a DSLR that all take good to great pictures. Seriously.

Since I want to be intentional about taking photos of daily life, I decided that Instagram is the perfect tool for this. When my friend Dollie announced that she was looking for bloggers to partner with her for an Instagram challenge in 2015, it seemed like God was lighting up a big neon sign for me.

Capturing Life, Laughter, and Love is a subscriber Instagram challenge that provides a daily prompt (via a monthly graphic) to inspire your Instagram photo taking. I would love to have you join us! You can read more about it on the Capturing Life, Laughter, and Love page.

Or you can sign up below.

Holiday Style With Lilla Rose

Holiday Style With Lilla Rose

Lilla Rose is one of those companies I had never heard of before entering the blogging world. I did a giveaway series last year and one of the giveaways was for a Lilla Rose flexi clip that I received to review. After trying it out, I ended up signing up as a consultant because my girls and I loved it.

I’ve accumulated a small collection over the last year and in that time also found the world of Polyvore. Strange segue? Sorry, I’m awkward sometimes.

Polyvore is this fun place where people compile collections of items to make outfits. Kind of like a dream board for fashion. I found them through Pinterest last year when I was filling my New :: Style board with ideas for updating my lacking wardrobe.

Today, I have put the two together and have created some sets built around some Lilla Rose products. You can order them at my Lilla Rose Shop if you find one that strikes your fancy.

First up is Ruby Bouquet, built around the Ruby Bouquet flexi clip.

Ruby Bouquet

 

Next is one that is a little more glitzy, but not terribly flashy. This one features the Lovely Circle Gold bobbies.

Simple Glitz

 

You can check out the rest of my sets on Polyvore, too. I have a few so far.

Please tell me what colors you like to wear during the holiday season! I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Don’t forget, you can pick up all of your Lilla Rose needs through my link. 😉 If you have any questions, please let me know!