A Thankful Heart Amidst the Storm

Originally written Sept. 9, 2017
I have weathered many storms in my life.  Some of them physical, some of them emotional, some of them spiritual.  Some of them have been in my career, some of them have been as a parent, some within my family, and even some within my marriage.  Some of them have been brought about by snow, wind, and rain, and some have even included sand.  Throughout these storms, I have learned that at times it can be difficult to trust God.   There have been times when the panic, pain, anxiety, or fear sets in and it is easy for me to lose focus.  I forget that I am not required to battle the storm out on my own, but I try. Speaking honestly from my heart, I try as I might and I forget that there are others who face the same challenges and the same difficulties.  I forget to stop focusing on the storm and I forget that there is a place I can find refuge and peace when I allow fear, anxiety, pain, or panic to take over.
One of the most unsettling storms in my life came when my youngest son, Travis, was about a year old.  We lived in North Dakota and had encountered a terrible blizzard that snowed us in.  Travis became extremely ill and I treated him at home by following the directions given to me by the pediatrician.  The blizzard went on and Travis began to become lethargic and his temperature was rising.  Snow inhibited us from leaving, but we needed to get him to the ER.  We began to shovel, shovel, shovel, and shovel some more.  As a mom I felt desperate and completely powerless.  I was fearful.  With each shovel full of snow, I prayed. For the next four hours we shoveled a path wide enough for me to get our car out of the driveway.  I got Travis to the ER where the verdict was given, bronchitis.  He was monitored for a couple hours and given excellent care.  We returned home with medication in hand and a few days later our baby boy was healthy and full of energy.
Looking back on that moment, I see how God brought us through.  That while we shoveled snow, He was with us.  While we held our baby boy unsure of what to do, He gave us wisdom to know what actions to take.  
On this earth, we will always face storms.  That’s is because we live in a fallen and imperfect world.  We do have power in these moments though, to call out to our Creator, to aks Him for guidance, to ask Him for wisdom, to ask Him for protection, and to ask Him for peace.
He doesn’t always bring us through the way we think He should, but I can honestly say that looking back on the storms in my life I can see how His hand was on us and how He provided through each one.  
Now as my family faces another storm, Hurricane Irma, I am so thankful for His provisions.  We have shelter from the storm, we have food to eat, blankets to keep us warm, we have friends and family to pray with us and for us, and most of all, we have complete peace.  Peace that can only come from knowing that He is our Father, that He loves us, that He will care for us, and that He always provides.  Tonight my heart is thankful, because I do not know how I could get through the storms of life without Him and He is here carrying us through.
We are praying for all of those who have been affected, are being affected, and will be affected by Hurricane Irma.

Our Sunny New Top Anna

Today’s post is all about our gorgeous new top, Anna. Be warned you are gonna love it so much that you are going to want the green version too! Let’s dive in!

Anna is a practical top perfect for work wear, a casual Saturday, or an evening out. I just love it when pieces in my wardrobe are both practical and beautiful! Don’t you?

The v-neck offers an elegant touch in a very modest way. Perfect for pairing with your favorite pendants or drop necklaces.

The fabric is delectable to the touch as the stunning weave creates a wonderful texture that feels fantastic on, full of quality. This is not a light weight top, but the flowy torso and roomy sleeves allow this top to breath making it comfortable for both cooler winter days or bright sunny warm ones. I love it when I have a piece I can wear every season!

My favorite details you ask? The self tie waist is at the top of this list. I love that you can cinch the waist and show off your gorgeous figure in a tasteful way. I also think the sleeves add the perfect feminine touch, with a little cinched detail at the top of the cuff.

If you love this style, you can find it at lydiaandlilac.com. Please make sure to follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter! You can also join our VIP Group which is new on FB and stay up to date on all our new arrivals, get discounts, and participate in contest to win gorgeous Lydia & Lilac apparel and accessories!

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A Few New Additions!

So last moths we had some adorable new arrivals on our site at lydiaandlilac.com. I’m really excited about these new pieces, so I thought it was about time that I shared them here! Without further ado, here they are…

Maggie Ruffle Dress

Perfectly perfect for fall, Maggie comes in latte and is load with ruffles! We love the billowed 3/4 length sleeves and the crocheted neckline and should details. This dress would look so cute with boots!

Sienna Kimono

We haven’t had a new kimono in quite some time and thought it was about time to add another to our collection. The colors on this kimono are absolutely gorgeous and I get a ton of compliments each time I wear it. Sienna is a great fall accessory!

London Jacket

Truly exquisite, our London Jacket is both sophisticated and feminine. We think the lace speaks for itself!

May Lace Fringe Top

This top is so versatile! You can wear it with leggings or jeans. Dress it up or dress it down. Great transitional piece from summer to fall with the cream lace hem detailing.

Rosalin Kimono Top

Rosalin will carry you all the way though September to February. We love the romantic embroidery against the sheer wine and how this fabric drapes when we put it on. This top leaves us feeling feminine and beautiful. Rosalin would be a beautiful addition to any wardrobe.

If you love these, be sure to check out our site @ lydiaandlilac.com. You can also follow us on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. Be sure to check back often, new arrivals will be coming soon!

This Isn’t Easy, I’m Just Gonna Be Honest Here – Truths About Starting a Small Business

Here it is, I’m just gonna spill it…starting a small business is not easy. I know most of us know this, but it can be easy to forget given the dozens of adds we see on social media about building an empire overnight, growing your Instagram followers by 3,000 in a week, or funneling tons of traffic to your website with just a few simple steps. The truth is, it takes a lot of time and effort to be successful.

I decided to write this post in order to be a breath of fresh air, to be an encouragement to those of you who may just be embarking on your journey. Because when you don’t see numbers increasing while it seems like everyone else around you does, it can be discouraging. I just want to let you know that there are others out there who are experiencing the same things. But first a little background information.

I started blogging about 10 months ago and I would be lying if I said that I have been wildly successful. I have a hard time with consistency and even went without blogging for several months, which you can read about here. I started the blog shortly after opening an online boutique calledLydia & Lilac. This is in addition to being a full time behavior specialist for our school district, volunteering in youth ministry at our church, and being a wife and mother of 3 boys. Needless to say, we are a little busy, so I do what I can to prep and plan ahead of time and one day I may write about that when I figure it all out…lol.

We are constantly hearing about all the wonderful things about starting a blog or small business and it’s true, there are a lot of great things about both. However, there are hard times too and these shouldn’t be overlooked, because if you want to have any sort of success it’s gonna take a little elbow grease, or in my case a whole lotta elbow grease! So here are some truths about the struggle, it’s real.

Money…I’m supposed to make that right?

So here is something that has been true, at least for me. Because I was not just starting a blog, but also a boutique, there were start up costs. Now that our business is almost a year old, the truth is we haven’t made much and anything that we do has gone right back into the boutique. This has been fine for us because we don’t rely on money from our boutique. If we did, I’m sure I would be working a whole lot harder to make that happen. But even then, I’m not sure we would have made enough to live off of or anything like that. I’m not saying we never could, I’m just saying it takes a lot of time and effort and it doesn’t happen instantly for most.

Money…now your telling me I have to spend it?

In my case with the boutique I have found that we have to spend money on adds. At first I tried to get reach without them, but I was getting absolutely no traffic. Zero. None. Zilch. Even now I don’t get a whole lot, no where near where I need to be. This is mostly because I don’t spend a lot of money on adds, which in the end means less views.

You’re on all the time.

This is so true! Each day, every activity, any event, they always become an opportunity…am I wearing something from the boutique, will there be a good photo opportunity in the day, is this something I could blog about, did I make sure to check in with our followers on social media, did I make sure to post to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest? You see, there is opportunity every moment of the day and if you don’t take it, someone else will. For this reason I am still learning how to balance it all.

The creative juices are flowing, BUT.

There are many times during the week that ideas will just hit me, but I can’t do anything about it at the moment. Such is life, right? Raising a family, working, and volunteering, there are times that I cannot stop what I am doing to work on my business. During these times I make a lot of mental notes, lists on my phone, or grab a sticky note. Even this post was a result of list I put together on my phone.

Although there are struggles that come with starting a small business, I do have to say that it can be very rewarding too! When someone tells you how much they like your content, that they really related to your blog, or that they adore what you sell in your shop, it makes it all worth it!

Ways I’m Focusing On Mental Health in 2018

These days we are hearing a lot about mental health. It is a very important topic that should not be overlooked and is a topic near to my heart. For my 9 to 5 I work with a lot of individuals with needs in the area of mental health. For the purpose of this blog post, when I say mental health, I am not referring to mental illness but rather mental fatigue, stress, and clarity.

Way back in January, I made a commitment to focus on healthy living in 2018. Instead of making a resolution, I decided to pick a theme for the year instead. You can read that post here. Now, here we are in June and I have only gotten to my third topic. Sometimes things don’t go as planned, but that’s ok. I am getting back on track with my blog and starting with an area that I should have focused more on over the last several months.

Last week I posted about life getting insanely crazy in March and my struggle to stay afloat with my blog and boutique (read about this here). I thought discussing mental health may be a good place to start given the circumstances of life for me right now. Recently, I had a challenge presented that made me really evaluate what is important to me in life which in turn made me begin to think about what I need to be doing in order to think clearly about decisions I needed to make. As you will see, for me, mental health and spiritual health go hand in hand; however, I will be focusing a post solely on spiritual health in the future. You will see components of that throughout this post though. So here they are, ways I am focusing on metal health in 2018.

1. Remembering what’s important in my life

For me this is simple, my faith and my family are number one. Period. It is easy to get distracted with schedules and finances, but when it comes right down to it, as long as these 2 things are my focus, everything else falls into place. Things are not always easy, but focusing on the important things make it easier to get through challenges of life. It also brings things into perspective. Maybe I didn’t get to everything on my to do list today, but if I have spent my quiet time with the Lord and have taken care of my family, then I have done everything that is important and I can rest easy in that. There will be time tomorrow to get everything else done.

2. Staying in God’s Word and in Prayer

When I am in God’s Word and in prayer, the trials of this life are much easier to bear. I realize that I am not walking through this life alone and when I act like I am, my mental health suffers. I become overwhelmed and stressed out. When I adjust my focus back to the Lord and give Him my burdens, I am so relieved. This doesn’t mean that everything in life becomes fixed, but it does mean I no longer feel like the weight of the world is on my shoulders.

3. Knowing when to say no

This is a challenge for me. I like to make people happy and I have a problem saying no when I am asked to take on more responsibility. I have learned the hard way that I can’t do it all. I am learning to go back to number one on my list when asked to do more. If what I am being asked to do will shift my focus from my top priorities or leave no time for them, I really need to consider saying no.

Sometimes this means saying no to things we consider good, like another Bible Study at church or an opportunity to make more money. Although there is nothing wrong with these things and they may even at time be beneficial, there are times when adding one more thing to an already packed schedule or working more hours and taking time away from my family will hinder rather than benefit my family.

4. Drink plenty of water and eat healthy

Boy, this is an area of my life that I have been really trying to work on and I will be discussing this topic more in depth in the future. Drinking water and eating health give my brain what it needs to think more clearly. When I am eating right, I don’t go through that mid afternoon fog and I have more energy to get everything done on my to do list. This in turn reduces my stress level as well, because things do not pile up and become overwhelming.

5. Decluttering my house

Clutter drives me crazy and my house has become way too cluttered over this last year. When I am unorganized I definitely feel more stress. Jerry and I have committed to decluttering and reorganizing this summer. We are also going to have a yard sale, which I agreed to reluctantly a few months ago. I am not a huge fan of the extra work and would rather just give stuff away. However, we are trying to pay off some bills, so Jerry and I agreed to give it a go. Now that we are getting closer, I am actually feeling really motivated and excited about it. The boys are on board too and are looking forward to selling some of their old toys, and being able to put the money they earn towards a new game they want.

6. Finding time to relax and do something I enjoy

This one is hard for me too. I have a really hard time relaxing. I used to think my parents were crazy when they would tell me this very same thing, but now I totally understand. I must have gotten the “gotta keep busy, not time to stop” gene from them. Although this is an incredible blessing most of the time, I need to make myself stop on occasion. Even when watching t.v. or a movie at home, I find myself getting up to do things around the house. We always have so much going on and I feel like I need to be working on something all the time.

I am trying to make more of a conscious effort to do a little something I relaxing each week like going for a walk in the evening, reading a book, or writing. Another thing I started doing once every couple moths is getting a facial. Originally I started getting them because I was having a lot of difficulty with acne, but I really enjoy them and look forward to that hour of doing absolutely nothing. This is good for me because I literally have to slow down for a few moments, there is no laundry to do or dinner to cook while I am getting a facial. So it’s beneficial for multiple reasons.

What are things you do to improve your own mental health?

When Life Gets Crazy and Then Blogging Begins Again

Truth is, life gets crazy. We all know this. When life gets crazy, sometimes we have to take a step back. Unfortunately life got really crazy for me in March. Between filing businesses taxes for the first time, completing multiple assessments for my 9 to 5, and the onset of my son’s track season (to name only a few of the additions to an already packed schedule), little time was left for focusing on my blog or building my boutique.

Time began to pass (way too quickly I might add) and before I knew it, months had gone by without a single blog post and with very few new items being listed for sale at Lydia & Lilac. Good intentions went by the wayside and I contemplated bringing an end to my boutique all together.

But all through this I was reminded, I am human. It’s unrealistic to compare myself with the images and success stories bombarding me on social media. Although some do literally find success over night, the truth is that there are more of us out there who it will take time and consistency to build a following, to reach our niche, and to make a difference in the lives of others.

It has been my desire throughout this process to just be real, to be open about my journey with my blog, my business, and my life. Sometimes there are more important things going on than my blog or my boutique.

I don’t know where the future of my blog or boutique is headed, which I know all the experts would tell me is exactly why my blog “hasn’t blown up over night.” When I started my blog and boutique I didn’t think I would make a ton of money or be able to quit my 9 to 5 or anything like that. I wanted to sell beautiful modest clothing, minister to women’s hearts, and have a creative outlet.

So for those of you who read everything I publish, stick with me. I’m still hanging around for a while and although I strive for consistency, know there are times I may be silent, because life does get crazy sometimes. For those of you who stumbled upon my blog or lydiaandlilac.com, I hope you find something that blesses your heart and that you’ll come back again and again. For those of you who read once and won’t return, thanks for giving me a chance, I truly appreciate it.

Whether I reach none, one, or a million, I have found a place of contentment. A place where I will share my heart, my passion, my love of family, my relationship with God, and whatever else may be laid on my heart with anyone who takes a moment to read. I hope that somewhere along the road, that someone’s life is touched through Lydia & Lilac and A Lovely Little Life.

It’s good to be back!

Win a $10 Gift Certificate to Lydia and Lilac!

Want a chance to win a $10 gift certificate to use at lydiaandlilac.com? Like or comment this post over at Facebook to be entered to win! Just click on this link to head on over! You’ll find the link pinned to the top of our page. Contest runs from 11 am EST June 7, 2018 to 3 am EST June 11, 2018. Winner will be announced June 12, 2018 via Facebook Live! You must like or comment on the original link at Facebook.com/lovelylydiaandlilac to enter.

Don’t forget to like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram to stay up to date on all of our latest news!

See official terms and conditions below.

Official terms and conditions:

* This Competition is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook. You are providing your information to Lydia & Lilac LLC and not to Facebook. The information you provide will be used for this contest only and will not be shared with any other party outside of Lydia & Lilac LLC.

* This contest is being run by Lydia & Lilac LLC.

* Must be 18 years old or older to enter.

* Must reside in the United States to enter.

* Must like or comment this post to enter.

* All entries will be entered into the competition and the winner will be randomly selected.

* No purchase or payment of any kind is necessary to enter.

* Making a purchase will not increase your chances of winning.

* The contest begins June 7, 2018 at 11 am EST and closes June 11, 2018 at 3 am EST.

* The winner will receive $10 gift certificate that can be used toward purchases at lydiaandlila.com.

* The gift certificate cannot be exchanged for cash.

* The winner will be emailed an electronic gift certificate with code that can be entered at checkout.

* Winner will be announced on Facebook Live Tuesday, June 12, 2018.

* Winner will be contacted via Facebook Messenger for contact information in order for Lydia & Lilac LLC to deliver the prize.

* Void where prohibited.