Monday, November 23, 2015

It changes you

It changes you. 

You don't go into it expecting it to change you, but if you do it right, and you don't quit and you keep going day after day, it changes you. 

I joined this little direct sales company called Scentsy 8 years ago this month. And while I'm completely realistic about the fact that I would have changed in 8 years with or without Scentsy, I don't think I would have changed like this. 

Direct sales changes people. 

That is the most beautiful thing about it. When you do it right, and you're not that annoying "direct sales lady" don't want to be her, let's be change. And you become better and stronger and more of who you're supposed to be. 

And it's beautiful and messy and perfectly imperfect. 

Honestly, there are days when I don't want to do it anymore because it's hard to be your own boss. It's hard to work for yourself. It's hard to do the same thing over and over again for years sometimes. And I've gone through periods when I was really down....where I just wanted to be a mom and nothing else. 

Really, those are selfish and half crazy periods of time. Now, 8 years later, I still want to do this, and I not only want to do it, but I want to do it well. We have been so incredibly blessed. This "business" has been both the high and low point of our marriage and our story. 

I thought that money would make us happy. That's the American dream right? Make the the the life....and all your dreams will come true. 


But that's not how it goes. It's really quite the opposite. 

We made the money. Paid off our debt. Found and bought the dream house....and lost each other. I remember sitting on the back porch of the house that I thought we would live in forever surrounded by everything I thought we could ever want....a boat, private school for our kids, great clothes, fancy trips, and so on....I remember sitting on that back porch thinking that I wasn't happy. Not in our marriage, not with our life, not with anything. I wasn't "happy." 

All the stuff wasn't doing it for me. 

I think that was the bottom. It wasn't our debt or the postpartum anxiety I went was the money. And it wasn't the lack of it. It was the abundance of it, that put me at the bottom. 

And I don't write all this to talk about how much money we made. Blah. We made good money. But it was the money that would bring us to our knees. 

I used to think that money would fix it all. 8 years later, I learned that only people can fix it all. 

And not a single person. We're all sinners who fail to our flesh far too many times a day. Not a person. But people. Its people who fix people. 

We moved out of that "dream home" just 3 years ago into a home that I never would have dreamed of. It's not perfect by any means. We don't have granite countertops and all our fixtures are brass, but it's a home with room for people. 

And when I want to be my introvert self, I have to remind myself that the walls of a house are only walls. Wood and plaster that will one day crumble. But if I fill the walls. If I fill my home with people, that will never crumble. Because people change people. 

Direct sales has a bad reputation sometimes I think. People don't understand it or think that other direct sales people are just too pushy. But the reason it works is because it's about people. 

This business has changed my marriage and my family and my friends, and it's changed me. Forever. 

Direct sales changes people because it's about people. 

You can't do this well without loving other people. You can't do this well without serving other people. You can't do this well without surrounding yourself with other people. 

As we approach Thanksgiving in the United States, I am so incredibly grateful for the people that Scentsy has brought into my life. And even as I look forward to this week full of food and family and love, it is and will always be different because of Scentsy. 

My family is close. We are the best of friends. I'm exited about them being here this week. I'm overjoyed at the thought of them napping on the couch as we watch football and watch kids chasing chickens in the backyard. But I don't know if it would have felt like this without this thing called Scentsy that we get to do together. And tonight I'm grateful. Incredibly grateful for the people in this "little" direct sales company called Scentsy who have changed me. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Being strong

I've decided that at this stage of living the newborn life, 3 simple daily goals are all I need. 

1. Get dressed (at some point in the day). Anytime is fine. Showers are worth extra points because let's be real, they're not happening everyday.

2. Do a load or 2 of laundry. That's all. I'm not even attempting to put the clothes away. Our laundry room is turning into the family closet for the time being, and I'm perfectly okay with that. 

3. Do the dishes. Simple enough. That involves emptying and loading the dishwasher every day and making sure it runs overnight. 

If I try to add anything else to this list, I just get frustrated and overwhelmed. Miss Lucy likes to eat a lot. I don't remember if my other babies ate this much and I just forgot, or if Lucy is trying to win the fattest Dalke baby prize.

Either way, I feel like I spend a lot of time nursing, so I can't seem to do anything more than the above listed items, and I'm okay with it. 

I know this season is so incredibly short in the big picture even if it seems to be long right now. 

I'm learning a lot from this little babe. She's reminding me that I'm ultimately not in charge (which I need to be reminded of often), and she's a snuggly reminder that this is the last time we get to do this baby thing. Because of that, I'm living in it. 

I'm okay with my spot on the couch and the lack of sleep and the complete lack of routine. I'm okay with all of it. 

And I'm grateful. Amazingly grateful for my husband who so selflessly takes care of everything else that needs taking care of in our house. He's been doing the morning school routine with all the kiddos...making lunches, packing backpacks, signing homework, he's doing all of it. He's cooking dinner (which he usually does anyways) and doing baths and homework and the bedtime routine. And I'm on the couch. Feeding a baby. (Except in the picture below where daddy got to give Lucy her 1st bottle.) 

I'm also grateful to all our amazing friends and family who have stopped by and brought gifts for Lucy and delicious food for the rest of us. Really, you all are amazing. 

I'll be honest, there are moments in every day when I just want to cry. It's mostly from exhaustion but also it's from moments of feeling overwhelmed. It's from trying to do too much and be too much. 

Sometimes our culture tells us we have to do it all and be it all. But right now, I know that my most important job is feeding a tiny baby. It may seem like not a lot or not enough, but right now, it's all I need to do. 

Sometimes we try too hard to do things we aren't supposed to be doing. So I'm not apologizing for my messy house or my delayed text message responses, and I'm resting in doing exactly what I'm supposed to be doing in this season. 

Being strong doesn't mean doing it all. Being strong sometimes means being present and doing what you're called to do in each season. 

We're in the middle of the newborn life and I'm living it and loving it. 

Monday, September 7, 2015

Open Doors before Clean Floors

Life with a newborn is lots of things....snuggly, sleepy, cozy, and sweet. But it's also not lots of things like clean, organized, routine, or expected. 

My house has been cluttered since Miss Lucy moved in. The floors have collected dust and dog hair and who knows what else. Our dining room table is full of art projects and estate sale finds and car seats and diaper bags. And the coffee table is overflowing with baby blankets and coffee cups and Scentsy catalogs and crayons. 

We spent yesterday with my family celebrating my aunt's 60th birthday. It was a blast. We took our annual cousins picture, and I adore it. I'll be writing more later this week about family and the blessing it is to want to be with your family. 

So today my amazing hubby let me sleep until almost noon with Miss Lucy. I was up around 9:00 and could barely keep my eyes open. I guess the past couple weeks just finally caught up with me. 

When I woke up, I was keenly aware of the state of our less than clean house. But right now, there's not a ton I can do about it. I'm keeping up with the laundry the best that I can, and I do the dishes and tidy the kitchen every night, but that's about as far as I get when it comes to house keeping. 

I knew we were having friends over for dinner and swimming this afternoon. And as much as I wanted to care about the state of my floors, I have a 13 day old little miss who needs to be fed 1st. Instead of canceling and making up an excuse about why we couldn't have them over, I decided that open doors in our home were far more important than dirty floors. 

And I was right. We had an amazing afternoon. The big kids and dads went to the neighbors' to swim while my sweet friend Cheryl and I sat on the couch. She showed me some tricks to photo editing while she played with the gorgeous pictures she took of Lucy on Saturday. And I, of course, fed that sweet baby. 

Later we cut veggies and grilled meat while the kids played and colored and explored outside. And while they were here, I never once considered the mess on my dining room table or the dirt on my floors. And honestly, I don't think they did either. 

There are silly things that keep us from community. Dirty floors and excuses about the way our homes look is usually at the top of the list for most of us. We think people will judge us or think we're not good enough, so we don't invite them in. 

I'm learning, especially in this season of newborn life, that the greatest blessings often come when we forget about the imperfections of our homes and open our doors to love and connect with others.

I'm guessing I'm not the only one who has a tendency to want to close the doors both on my heart and my home because it's messy in there. Our culture has become accustomed to over sharing the good and closing the doors on the messy and imperfect. 

The irony of that is that it's our messes and imperfections both in our hearts and on our floors that make us relatable to other people. When we fail to share the messy, we miss out on the blessing of true community. Because let's be real, no one wants to be friends with someone whose floors are never messy and whose heart never hurts. 

So the question becomes, who can you open your doors to? And why haven't you already? Whoever it is, I'm betting that they won't care about the state of your floors or the tidyness of your home. At the end of the day, we all need community, but we'll never get it if we're waiting for the perfect day or a clean house. 

Saturday, September 5, 2015

The Newborn Life

Brian took the bigs to aunt Jacquelyn's house to watch the OU game tonight, so miss Lucy and I are sitting in our cozy spot on the couch watching Tangled on TV and eating leftovers for dinner. 

It's amazing how quickly I've forgotten what life with a newborn is like. You would think that after 3 babes, I would remember this season of constant nursing and little sleep and no routine what so ever. But I definitely forgot. 
Knowing that Lucy is our last babe, I'm loving this season. I'm not normally one to like the lack of routine or the unexpected, but I'm pretty consumed with all the snuggling. Brian even said that I should probably find a new spot on the couch so there's not a dent. (He was joking of course.) But we really are spending lots of time there. Here's our little corner of the couch. 

Miss Lucy often wants to nurse every 2 hours throughout the day, so of course we do! And being that she's still not even 2 weeks old yet, we are on no kind of schedule yet. Whenever she wants to eat, we eat. Over the next couple of weeks, I know things will start to become more routine. And when that happens, I'll gladly embrace the routine. 

But until then, we'll be here. Snuggling, loving, working, nursing, napping, reading and giving lots and lots of baby kisses. The newborn life is not too bad. We're soaking it up and loving every minute. I know it's fleeting, so we're taking advantage of it while it's here. 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Hello September....

I love September, but I think it's weird how September never really feels like I think it should. 

I feel like September 1st should usher in cool, crisp mornings and the need to wear a light sweater and make pumpkin muffins. But it never quite works like that in Oklahoma. It's still mega hot and the flies are invading my kitchen like it's still the middle of Summer. 

But nevertheless, I still love September. It means a new catalog and new Fall scents in the Scentsy world. The kiddos go back to school. We fall back into a routine, and football season starts. I'm not huge football watcher necessarily, but I grew up in a house where we hosted football watch parties every weekend. I've come to find the sound of a football game playing on the TV to be oddly comforting. 

As each new month opens, I like to sit down and set some goals for myself for that month, both for my business and for my personal life. 

This month, I'm keeping things pretty simple. A long time ago, I started a planning method I call the Sunday 7. It's a simple way to look at the most important areas in your life and set goals for those areas accordingly. 

You can read more about the Sunday 7 here.  Also you can find lots of posts about the Sunday 7 on the right hand side of the blog under Categories. 

I'm using my Sunday 7 planning method to help me set some goals for September. 

The Sunday 7

  1. Faith: in the Bible everyday, intentional prayer time/journaling
  2. Family: spend one-on-one time with each kiddo everyday this month...even if it's just for 5 minutes
  3. Friends/Relationships: Lunch with a friend this month and in-house coffee dates with my Scentsy team. 
  4. Work: Sell at least $2,000 of Scentsy and Velata this month AND help 2 new people start their own businesses this month. 
  5. Health and Fitness: Walk 3 times a week and start a light weight workout 
  6. Money Management: schedule our monthly budget meeting, stay on top of both business and personal accounts, and live on our budget. 
  7. Downtime: Read. Listen. And find space for rest. Don't overdo it. Snuggle that baby A LOT and enjoy the newborn's only a season....soak it up. 

What about you? What are your goals for this month? And how do you go about setting and keeping goals? I love learning about how other people stay motivated and focused. Please share! 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

That thing they call 'the baby blues'

Flies, a puppy, a text message that wasn't personal but that I took personally, and dirt on my floors. They're all things I cried over today. None of them significant, but each of them feeling significant in the moment. 

I think this is what they so fondly call "the baby blues." Sometimes we don't talk about it. We pretend it doesn't happen. But it does. And for most people it's short lived and quickly forgotten. 

Today those weepy moments lasted a short couple hours. My cure for baby blues? Babies. Chocolate. And Jesus. 

That may sound silly. But nursing the tiny, sweet girl (who has had a significant impact on my crazy, out of wack hormones) is what usually makes me quickly realize that every silly thing that's made me want to cry, is exactly that...just silly. 

Her tiny perfectness helps remind me that nothing else really matters. Not the annoying flies that seem to be overtaking my kitchen. Not the dirt on my floors. And not that puppy that makes me crazy most days. 

Nothing can really compare to her and her smallness and the way she needs me. She is comforting. 

But let's be real, I also found a stash of dark chocolate and spent some time reminding myself who I am in Christ. I love how God's word is always relevant.....always what my soul needs.

Tonight I read three powerful words that I think we all need to be reminded of sometimes. 1 Corinthians 3:23 reads 

...and you are Christ's....

There is a beautiful line in Hillsong's worship song Oceans that says "I am yours and you are mine." It echoes the truth in 1 Corinthians 3:23. I am His. 

It is the most comforting truth. It's often hard to truly grasp, but when I sing that lyric, I cannot stop myself from smiling. My soul knows it's true. 

It is a beautiful reminder that there is no hormonal moment, bad afternoon, weepy baby blues that can take me away from the One that I belong to. And that truth is better than any chocolate I've ever had. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

A week with our babe and how she got here

Exactly one week ago (almost to the minute) Brian and I were in the hospital, awaiting the arrival of our sweet baby girl. 

Sometimes having a baby doesn't seem real until they come screaming into the world. And my oh my did this one come screaming. She immediately let us know that she was officially here. Her lungs were pretty impressive from the very moment she was born. Lucy Elizabeth was here. 

And since that moment, we have been forever changed. It's not because we have four kiddos now. We've had 4 kiddos before. It's more because she's ours, and she'll forever be a part of our messy, beautiful life. 

In the past year, our lives have changed more than we could have imagined. A year ago in August, my sister and I decided to follow through with genetic testing for BRCA 1 and 2. My mom is a carrier of both genetic mutations. On August 28, 2014, I received a phone call with my results. Just like my momma, I too have both mutations, BRCA 1 and 2. I'll never forget the way I felt in that moment. It wasn't scared. It was more like relief. Like I finally knew the truth about what I had always expected. That may sound morbid or weird, but it's how I felt. I knew it wasn't a mistake, and I knew that I was "fearfully and wonderfully made." None of it was an accident. 

That knowledge and the stark reality that came with the discovery is really the reason that our girl is here now. 

Our genetic counselor and my doctors laid out our options. As a BRCA 1 and 2 carrier, the statistics basically say you're going to get breast or ovarian cancer. So our counselors and doctors are encouraging a full hysterectomy and double mastectomy by the time I'm 35. 

That's a lot of information to process. Of course, we don't have to take that route and there are other options including high risk screening, which I've been a part of for the past year, but it was the knowledge of my mutation that really opened up the conversation of us having another baby now. 

We knew we wanted four, and a month after we found out about BRCA 1 and 2, we welcomed baby A into our home as our 3rd foster baby. He was 5 months old, and we fell in love. 

We were able to build a relationship with his mom and with the foster family who had his brother. With foster care, you never really know the end game. Will bio mom get the boys back? Will the boys go up for adoption? We weren't sure, but we were hopeful that bio mom would be able to get the boys back. 

In November, Brian surprised me a little get away weekend. It was that weekend when I asked the question, "We could have 6 right?" I wasn't serious but I was. What if baby A and his brother didn't go back to bio mom? Could we have one more of our own and take both the boys? 

I felt like I needed to know that we could do that if we needed to. I wasn't betting on it. We were for his momma, doing our best to be the bridge back to his mom. But I needed to know. 

And that night, we decided we were crazy enough to have 6 if that's what it came to. 

And now, here she is. It may not be the most romantic entry into the world, but we had this desire for another little girl. I'd dreamt about it. This sort of felt like our last chance at leveling the playing field at the Dalke house. 

 A week later, we don't have six babes in our house (I promise to update about baby A soon) but we have four. 2 boys. 2 girls. And one beautiful mess to come over the next 20 years. 

Baby Lucy, it's been one beautiful week.