Browsing Category

Mommy Advice

Business, Faith, Friends, Mommy Advice

Mentor Monday with Malena from KiraKira

KiraKira - Mentor Monday - Tales of a Peanut

As an introverted, type A personality, going to Stationery Academy in July and knowing that I would be sharing a room with someone who I had never met was incredibly intimidating. However, when I arrived and saw Malena in our room and we chatted for a bit I knew that this was a pairing made by God. Over the next few days we shared our stories and grew to know each other much more than I would have expected in four days.

Since our time in Phoenix, Malena and I have been on a weekly capability call with two other amazing women and have gotten to know each other more. She has chosen to put her stationery shop, Little Bird Paperie, on hold because she is so passionate about getting girls engaged in the engineering field. She and her co-founder have created an amazing academy that I pray my girls will get to be a part of as they grow a little older. Malena has tons to teach us and I can’t wait to share her wisdom and passion with you.

Tales of a Peanut Blog Post Divider

KiraKira - Mentor Monday - Tales Of A Peanut

What’s the inspiration behind KiraKira?

KiraKira teaches girls the fundamentals of engineering and 3D design programs through fun, interactive, inspiring jewelry design lessons. My co-founder, Suz Somersall, and I both have backgrounds with engineering and/or 3D design. After feeling uninspired and frankly, somewhat unwelcome in the very male dominated environment, I chose to leave engineering and went on to study art & design. Suz, however, continued in the field of 3D and industrial design to become a jewelry designer – she 3D prints all of her jewelry. We recognized a gap in teaching and inspiring girls in engineering. Most existing tutorials target boys and teach how to design objects such as wrenches or auto parts. We wondered how we could teach girls engineering and 3D design in a way that speaks to them, inspires them, and empowers them to create something new.

KiraKira - Mentor Monday - Tales of a Peanut

You’ve got three kids about the same age as mine and I know I’m struggling to balance family and work. Have you found anything that works to help you balance it all? Do you have any tips for us?

Everyday is a balancing act! My first tip is my “Top 3” list. If nothing else gets accomplished, what are the top 3 things I must do today. This works for home and work. Reasonable goals help me avoid feeling like I’m drowning! Tip #2, I’m learning to outsource. I outsource cleaning! For the first time ever I have a housekeeper that comes to my house every other week. She keeps me sane! I work from home and it’s hard to focus in a messy environment. Knowing my kitchen and bathrooms will get cleaned at least every 2 weeks takes a LOT of pressure off of me so I can focus on work rather than dreading scrubbing the tubs! My last tip is one I’m still working on: take time to enjoy your life! Yes, we’re moms and business owners and cooks and chauffeurs and a million other things, but the most important job titles I have are wife and mother. Take time for your family. Schedule it in if you have to! Some days it doesn’t feel like it, but soon my little ones will be all grown up. I don’t want to regret being too busy for my kids.

KiraKira - Mentor Monday - Tales of a Peanut

What three things must you have/do every day?

I wish I could say, “go for a great morning run,” but these days that just does not happen!

Hot tea in the morning with sugar (lots), there are days I WISH I were a coffee drinker!

A phone call (or 3) with my mom. She is my best friend and I talk to her ev-er-y-day.

Hugs and kisses from my kiddos – they sustain me!

KiraKira - Mentor Monday - Tales of a Peanut

If you were going to give someone just starting a business some advice, what would it be?

I have a few key pieces of advice I wish I’d known before I got started!

Don’t undervalue yourself. Your time is valuable.

Figure out what your time is worth and expect it. If your client isn’t willing to pay you what your worth, 1) that isn’t your ideal client and 2) that project isn’t worth your time… unless it is truly for charity, which I’m also a big believer in.

KiraKira - Mentor Monday - Tales of a Peanut

What has surprised you the most about being an entrepreneur?

How hard I am on myself. When I had a 9-5 job I would go home and relax, sleep and not think of work again until morning. Owning my own business I’m slightly (completely) obsessed. I think about it all the time! I don’t relax or sleep as much. (This is starting to sound awful!) The truth is, I LOVE my job. I am obsessed with creating beautiful content and a product that’s of concrete value to others. So I’m hard on myself because I have such high expectations for what I’m creating.

KiraKira - Mentor Monday - Tales of a Peanut

Where do you want KiraKira to go in the next year or two?

Everywhere! Honestly, we would love for KiraKira to be in 10,000 schools, in thousands of home across America, in summer camps and after school programs. We have big dreams for KiraKira!

Who do you admire and keep up with in the business? Any mentors, groups, podcasts, etc that you recommend we keep up with?

Jennifer Faught, owner of Stationery Academy. She has been a WEALTH of knowledge and encouragement to me and so many others! Caitlin Bacher for social media tips. Cathy Olson for Periscope. Heather Crabtree for entrepreneur advice. Love Being Boss podcast. Anything by Simon Sinek!

How can people reach out to you and follow you?

Visit KiraKira Website

Back our project!

Tales of a Peanut Blog Post Divider

Malena is the co-founder & Creative Director of the EdTech startup company, KiraKira, an online academy that teaches girls the fundamentals of engineering and 3D design programs through inspiring, interactive jewelry design. For the last 10 years, Malena has been thrilled to be a Creative Director, Art Director, Graphic & Stationery designer and is based out of Dallas-Fort Worth, TX. As a mom of 3, Malena is excited to change the landscape of girls in engineering and is hopeful her own daughter will one day cultivate a love for engineering and design through KiraKira.

Tales of a Peanut Blog Post Divider

I am excited to share that as of the writing of this post, the KiraKira kickstarter is 72% funded. I’m proud to say that Tales of a Peanut is supporting their efforts and I encourage you to head to their page and see if you can donate even $5 to help them get their vision off the ground. I also will be sharing some KiraKira products in my gift guides this week so make sure and come back to see some additional ways that you can support them. I would love to see KiraKira as a household name and changing the face of engineering for the better!

Business, Faith, Friends, Mommy Advice

Mentor Monday with Kristin Wilson

Mentor Monday Grace and Serendipity

You could say that God put Kristin and I together and you wouldn’t be wrong. We both attended Stationery Academy in Phoenix this summer and were on the same flight from Atlanta out there. We knew that we were taking the same flight back to Atlanta as well and so wanted to try and change seats to sit together on the way back. When we looked at our tickets we both giggled because we were already sitting next to each other! Over the past few months I have come to tremendously admire Kristin. Not only is she wickedly talented she is one of the kindest women that I have met. I can’t wait to let a little bit of her wisdom rub off on you and me as well as introduce you to her new collection, The Hey Mama Collection, that I’ve been peeking at for the past month and is insanely awesome!

Tales of a Peanut Blog Post Divider

Grace and Serendipity has evolved over the years. What made you decide to move more into product design rather than wedding design?

When I started my business,  I started it because it was something I loved, but I always have known there was something more I was meant to do.  I found when I was planning that I was falling more and more in love with paper design and invitation suites made me swoon.  The first day that I stepped foot into a Paper Source and I spent literally four hours inside the store, I knew that I had found something I didn’t only love, but had found my passion.  After one of my brides asked me to design her invitations for her, seeing the design complete, I was hooked.  I fully believe that everything you do leads you to what you’re meant to do next, and for me, product design is it.

Grace and Serendipity - Mentor Monday - Tales of a Peanut - Hey Mama

You’ve got two young children which require lots of attention and balance between them and work. Have you found anything that works to help you balance it all? Do you have any tips for us?

Daily life with two kids at home with me is a constant battle to make sure I am balancing things well. My daughter is 3 and my son is 8 months, and they both require a lot of attention.  Some weeks I do really well at balancing everything and other weeks are not my best. They’re only this age once and as important it is to me to build my business and have it grow, I’ll never get this time back with my littles.  I don’t want to look back a couple of years from now when they’re in school full time and have regrets, so I try my best to have that in my head all the time.  I have never really been a morning person, but now I force myself to get up for the day every day by 5:00am, sometimes at 4:30 if my son woke up around then for a nighttime feeding. This way, I can have a two to three hours of quiet time to work on things before the busy of the day begins, so that I at least start the day ahead with some things accomplished instead of starting it with a looming to-do list.  My kids are on a pretty normal routine and do things around the same times every day, which helps a lot.  My friends have nicknamed me a “naptime hustler” because when they are napping, I am working the hardest so that I don’t have to work as much when they’re awake.  It’s really important that my kids realize that even though I do work full time from home, that they matter more – so some days it means my computer is off until mid-afternoon and I work more that night when they’re in bed to take care of everything needed.  My daughter goes to preschool three days a week for four hours a day, and those days, when my son is taking his morning nap, are my biggest workdays.  I don’t work as much on Tuesdays or Thursdays because those are the days I do more around the house like the laundry and cleaning, but we also go to the park and do other fun “mommy and me” activities these days.  The one balancing thing you can bet on is that when they’re napping, I’m hustling to take care of things for my business. When they’re awake, they have me.  And I try my hardest to stick to that completely.  The only tip that I have is find what works for you – perhaps you’ll stay up later at night, or get up early in the morning, perhaps you’ll take on less work so that you don’t have the stress of it with you, but more than anything, think about what matters most and then figure out how to make that happen best in your life.

Think about what matters most and then figure out how to make that happen best in your life. - @graceandser Click To Tweet

What three things must you have/do every day?

1 – I make time every single day for my bible and to read Jesus Calling.  I have the book and also have the app on my phone.  I have a timer set on my phone for 8:35am because I drop my daughter off at her preschool on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 8:30.  When I get back into my car after bringing her to class, my phone is going off and so I do Jesus Calling for the day right there in the parking lot before I go anywhere else.  On Tuesdays and Thursdays I read the days passage and bible verses out loud with my daughter when we’re eating breakfast.   It helps me to have the right perspective on the day from the beginning.

2 – A combination of Google Calendar, the ToDoist app, and my weekly planner.  There is no way that I could keep track of everything and attempt to keep everything organized well without these three things.  I use Google Calendar to keep track of my daughter’s school schedule, every kind of appointment, family birthdays, and what our meals are for the week so that I know what time I need to start dinner every night.  I use ToDoist for everything else.  I tried Asana but it didn’t work for me – I love the simplicity of ToDoist, especially that I can open the app on my phone and use the voice text option to say “call Dad at 1:00 on Sunday to talk to him about Christmas plans” and not only will it plug it into my phone for Sunday at1:00, the app will send me a reminder at 1:00 on Sunday to do just that.  It has been a lifesaver.  I have it broken down into main categories for my business and home.  Those then have sub-folders where everyone has their own workflow so that I can keep track of everything, and everything has dates assigned to it.  It sounds complex but it’s really pretty straightforward!  At night, I then take everything for the following day and write it in my weekly planner so that I don’t get distracted with what’s coming up by looking at a screen or spend time in the morning figuring out how to do everything needed – I can focus on the tasks for the day, and then can go back to ToDoist at the end of the day to check everything off at once.  That’s a pretty good feeling the days that I am able to accomplish everything I had planned!

3 – Good family time.  I crave it every day.  I do get to spend every day with my kids, but when my husband is home during the evenings and it’s the four or five of us when his son is also with us, life feels right.  It doesn’t matter what happened during the day or how chaotic life is, when we have those couple of precious hours together in the evenings during the week or as much as possible on the weekends, it makes my heart swell with happiness.  The days that we don’t have a lot of that due to my having client meetings or my husband having work socials, we both have found that we miss that time together.

Grace and Serendipity - Mentor Monday - Tales of a Peanut - calendar

If you were going to give someone just starting a business some advice, what would it be?

– Make a plan and truly decide if this is something you can do for a long time or see yourself doing for the rest of your career before you decide to go all in, and when you do decide it, do the work needed to make things happen.  When I first started my business, I was an elementary school teacher.  I started my wedding planning business and did both for two years before deciding to take my business full time, because I need to be able to contribute financially to our family.  Taking a chance on starting a business with no income coming in to offset getting started would not have been smart and we wouldn’t have made it – as much as you may want to quit a job and pursue a passion full time, make sure it makes sense for your family to do so first.   My business wouldn’t be here today if I hadn’t planned out step by step, thought a lot about big decisions before making them, and thought about all of the possible outcomes.  Now, with making the transition from planning to paper, it’s a whole new business plan, but not one that I have taken lightly.  I did invitation design with my brides for two years before considering doing this full time, and only because I’ve realized how incredibly passionate I am about paper design and how drawn I am to it is the reason I’m going down this path.  I also feel that this is what God has had planned for me all along, and discovering things and seeing His signs along the way makes me feel this is right too.  I have taught myself how to do things, how things work the best for my business, taken class after online class to learn what I need to, and have found a way to make my business unique in it’s own ways.  The quote “give a (wo)man a fish and you feed (her) for a day, teach a (wo)man to fish and you feed (her) for a lifetime” is one that means so much to me … you can easily ask someone the answer to something you don’t know without researching first, but doing the work and learning how to do it yourself through trial and error is much more fulfilling.  It’s awesome to be able to go back and say “I did this!” even if it is only to yourself.  You want to build a business that you’re proud of – so take the time needed to make that happen.

Grace and Serendipity - Mentor Monday - Tales of a Peanut

What has surprised you the most about being an entrepreneur?

I think probably how much I still want to learn things – I’m never happy with “that’s good enough”.  I am always wanting to learn more and do things better, I’m always wanting to try new things and see how they turn out.  I hope that I never get stuck in doing the same things day in and day out – I love pushing myself and seeing what new things come out of stepping outside of my comfort zone.

Grace and Serendipity - Mentor Monday - Tales of a Peanut - Life

Tomorrow you’re launching a new collection. Tell me a little bit about what your inspiration was behind this line and what you want people to get from your products?

Oh goodness, I am so excited for this collection!  I was definitely inspired by those around me – my mama friends and fellow creative entrepreneurs in particular, because all of us want to make a difference.  When you’re a mom, sometimes you just need to hear that you’re doing a good job, or read that you deserve a trophy to make it through the day simply wearing the same shirt!  For creative entrepeneurs, sometimes we just need to hear “you can do this” in a variety of different forms, and so definitely one word to sum it up would be encouragement for others – I hope that people are encouraged by the products they purchase to give to others or to frame on their own walls, because that inner cheerleader in my soul wants everyone to succeed.

Who do you admire and keep up with in the business? Any mentors, groups, podcasts, etc that you recommend we keep up with?

I follow Stationery Academy and look forward to every blog post, email, newsletter, and Instagram post of theirs – they are such a big part of the reason I am launching everything and so excited for what the future holds, and I fully believe that Jennifer Faught (the owner and President) wants every business to succeed!

I also am involved with the Pursuit Community and have attended their conference twice and will be going again in the spring, along with being in the Pursuit Mommies group and a small group locally as well.  I think that along with making sure everything is aligned with your business, growing a relationship with God and having a close-knit community of other business owners who believe in the same things you do is incredibly important.  Karen Stott, who started it, also has an amazing encouraging instagram feed called @intentionalhome which makes you think about what matters most.

I also think that Emily Ley and Lara Casey are pretty phenomenal women (and both are from where I live!) and love the Savvy Business Owners group that Heather Crabtree started.  So many amazing women are doing incredible things, and I love it!

Grace and Serendipity - Mentor Monday - Tales of a Peanut - Grace

I want everyone to become as enamored with you as I am! How can they find you?

Etsy: | Instagram:  | Website: | Facebook: | Pinterest: | Periscope:

Tales of a Peanut Blog Post Divider

Kristin owns Grace and Serendipity, which is currently transitioning from a full-time wedding planning business to a custom design + paperie business.  She is a wife and mama to three, doesn’t go a day without coffee, loves typography, color and lives for swoonworthy moments.

Tales of a Peanut Blog Post Divider

Kristin is one of my favorites and has been such an encouragement to me over the past few months. Her new collections launch TOMORROW, October 13th in her Etsy shop and I’ve seen them and, believe me, you are not going to want to miss them! Don’t forget to check out her products in the morning (hopefully around 9 am CST) and then let me know what you think!

Faith, Health, Mommy Advice, Personal

Redefining Self Care :: Living Water

Redefining Self Care - Tales of a Peanut - Strength CollectiveRedefining Self Care - Tales of a Peanut - Strength Collective

I’m here this month to tell you that self-care, like so many other things in life, is a practice. We each have fall back habits that kick into gear when life gets busy and it takes energy to replace those that are detrimental with something more positive. I can’t pretend there is a quick fix. But I can tell you there is hope and a clear path to greater abundance of joy and peace in the midst of your busy day, week, and season. I come to you in humility – admitting that I need this just as much as you do – and pray that together we can grow in the everyday kind of strength that leaves us more capable of blessing those around us and abiding more deeply in our tireless Savior.

Last month I asked you to take stock of your reaction to hunger. Maybe that seemed like a silly question but this practice of checking in with yourself – looking at your emotional state, impulsive behavior, and how a biological event such as hunger affects both – is possibly the most important habit you could have as you take care of yourself.

How many of us have vowed to drink more water throughout the day only to remember when it hits 4pm and all we’ve had is coffee? This happens because we lose touch with ourselves. We get caught up in the worries and the tasks of our environment. For most of us, this has gone on for so long that we aren’t even really sure what that whole water thing is all about. Instead of identifying water as a need, which comes with self-knowledge and long-term thinking, we put it in the “supposed to” category.

Instead of identifying water as a need, we put it in the supposed to category - @_alisanelson Click To Tweet

The beautiful reason to drink water is that our cells need it to survive and carry out their functions. It sustains life and enables the chemical reactions necessary for you to read these words, throw your giggling babe in the air, and emotionally connect with your husband. When we fulfill this basic need for hydration, our bodies get to work the way they were designed.

It’s with this perspective that Jesus as Living Water speaks to our thirsty hearts, producing lush fruit despite the drought of the world around us. In John 4, Jesus approaches a Samaritan woman and through conversation establishes her need for the kind of water that permanently satisfies. She, of course, is tired of going to the well and jumps on board with that idea. We do the same thing right? We hear about this need for our own deep soul contentment and, instead of understanding the kind of help Jesus is talking about, we want five steps to no more nagging kids because that would be so very nice.

John 4-14 Tales of a Peanut Strength Collective

Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14)

We, like the Samaritan woman, are unacquainted with our real needs. We feel a deep longing in the back of our heads and hearts so we go raid the pantry for chocolate. But we who have faith in Christ know it will never satisfy. Contentment requires more than a perfectly constructed moment in time. It requires opening our eyes to the Messiah who has come to show us what life is really all about (John 4:25-26).

We, like the Samaritan woman, are unacquainted with our real needs. - @_alisanelson Click To Tweet

Genuine self-care starts with questioning that hunger that sent you to the pantry or scrolling through social media. What’s really going on here? Where am I at emotionally? Psychologists call this mindfulness.

I call it keeping your brain on.

It’s tempting and automatic to shift into autopilot when the day feels a little too long. But remember how we defined self-care as the things we do to prepare ourselves to keep going? Numbing myself to the frustration and pain of pouring out all I have (and it never being enough) is not going to help me get ready for the next round. So what instead?

Keep Your Brain On Tales of a Peanut Strength Collective
Keep your brain on. Throughout each day, Christ invites us to drink deep as we abide in Him. He asks us to use his strength instead of our own. The fall of man gave us a predilection for doing everything on our own so we need to consciously step aside. Self-care doesn’t need to be a special day with no kids and a really good massage that we look forward to like our life depends upon it. Self-care can be five minutes of stepping outside to just be and check in on your internal environment.

Re-establishing a mind that is present in the moment instead of wandering through the past failures and future maybes allows us to recognize what identity we are operating out of – one that is sustained by Jesus or something else. When we see it, we can once again surrender to the One who is more than capable to deal with everything on our plate and choose to focus on what he has placed in front of us at this very moment. This is how we keep going.

It is possible to bring mindfulness to your entire day. Remember when I talked about practice? We’re going to start small. Taking care of ourselves and moving out of survival mode on a daily basis looks like actively engaging your mind and your heart in your current season. It might sound counterintuitive, but embracing your life as it is will save you so much energy. When you feel tired, overwhelmed, and stretched thin, don’t disengage. Reach directly for the Water that truly satisfies.

When you feel overwhelmed, don't disengage. Reach for the Water that truly satisfies - @_alisanelson Click To Tweet

There are a number of places to start in the pursuit of everyday strength. Being a woman and a mother who thrives no matter what is going on around her – clothed in strength and dignity (Proverbs 31:25) – can begin simply. The key is practice and a lot of grace. Here are a few action steps to get you going:

Wake up before your kids – even if it’s just 5 minutes – to be silent and orient your mind and heart toward Christ.

Set out water each evening to drink first thing when you wake. Use that time to remind yourself of the Living Water, and ask yourself “Do I feel satisfied?” Don’t be afraid of the answer, let it be and work to surrender whatever it is – joy or anxiety – over to Jesus.

Set an alarm for 3-4 times throughout the day (when you are usually relatively free) and take a 2-3 minute internal check. How are you feeling? Where are your thoughts and attentions? What do you need to surrender to Jesus so you can move back into the present?

Use your time while washing the dishes or folding laundry to check in. Breathe deeply and be totally present with your task. Don’t wander to your schedule or that instagram post that bothered you, just look at you and your current state.

Journal for a few minutes before going to sleep – fight the urge to flip through social media or email one last time and instead think through a few basic questions to set you up for the next day:

Where did I feel most satisfied today?

Where did I feel most chaotic? Empty? Dissatisfied with the present?

What thoughts were continually drawing my attention away from my present?

What is one thing I want to do tomorrow because it makes me feel happy and satisfied?

A key is to be observational – not judgmental. Practice giving yourself grace and being vulnerable with yourself. When we are more present, we can face the difficulties and the joys head on, living more fully in each day. It may be a hard season, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be full of satisfaction.

It may be a hard season, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be full of satisfaction - @_alisanelson Click To Tweet


Thank you Alisa for your wisdom! I am definitely going to work on paying more attention to my internal temperature thanks to the questions that you’ve asked in this post!

Self Care Printable Tales of a Peanut Strength Collective

I have assembled a free printable file for download for those who sign up for my newsletter, The Peanut Post, from this post. You can sign up on the form below and you will be sent a link to download the file.

Subscribe to The Peanut Post

* indicates required

Faith, Health, Mommy Advice

Redefining Self Care :: Self Care Is Not Selfish

Here at Tales of a Peanut I’m wanting to partner with some additional women to provide you with the best content that I can. My ultimate goal is to help you connect with God and with each other. So today I’m introducing you to Alisa Nelson from Strength Collective. She is going to be writing for us about once a month and is starting out talking about Self Care. I will tell you that when I read her first draft of this post I cried because it was exactly what I needed to hear. So I am extremely excited to share her wisdom with you and I hope that you learn as much from her as I am. You can find all of her contact information on the new Contributors page. We would both love for you to get involved with this series (and with all of the others posts on this site) so that we can help you grow in Christ. Without further ado, here’s Alisa!

Redefining Self Care - Tales of a Peanut - Strength CollectiveRedefining Self Care - Tales of a Peanut - Strength Collective

I became a mom very unexpectedly. A mere 5 months into marriage I found myself graduating from college and taking a pregnancy test – I became a stay-at-home mom to a little girl at 22 years old. And as any new mom can imagine, transitioning out of the idea I’d had of the future to the one sitting in front of me was difficult. One day my husband came home from work and I gave him my usual exhausted look. He didn’t normally respond with the sympathy I imagined I deserved and this time was no different. In fact, we had a discussion that night that has remained in my heart as a pivot point in our marriage and my life in general. I realized I was living for the moment he walked through the door. Once he was home, I was done for the day. Dinner was always a last minute thought, he was handed our daughter, and every night I had zero interest in talking or investing in him – I just wanted to go to bed. In looking back, I can see I was neck deep in survival mode – and it was evident I was planning to live this way until I got enough “me time” to recuperate.

I began to ask questions of myself and of God – what does it even mean to have energy to keep pouring out? What does it look like, in this season, to be a blessing to other people and raise my daughter to rejoice through all of life’s circumstances?

There’s this weird tension for the mother – we’re expected to be everything to everybody but then we are expected to not be defined by our motherhood. Tricky. It shouldn’t be a surprise that this is a recipe for survival mode. I’ve seen the thought lingering in the back of my mind, “Maybe if I hustle and get all the needs met, I will be able to slip away and I’ll have earned my time alone.” Sadly, toddlers haven’t learned that rule yet. There is always another need. Always more dishes and more laundry. Always another opportunity to experience the guilt and shame of being the only mom who can’t keep it all together.

When I was in the early postpartum days after my son was born, I had a realization (after magically getting both kids in bed at the same time) that I didn’t have to clean up lunch right away. Instead, I slipped into bed and grabbed a nap. This is one of the ways I practice self-care on a daily basis – and I’m not talking about the nap.


As I dive into that word – “self-care” – I want to start with what it is not. Self-care is not selfish. A mother is not automatically neglecting her family nor is she automatically relinquishing responsibility. I emphasize that word, automatically, because self-care is complex. As with so many relational topics, the heart of the person matters more than any hard and fast rules. Self-care is not the opportunity to temporarily remove the role of motherhood. If my response to needing a break from my kids is to drop everything in my husband’s lap so I can go do whatever I want, I won’t experience the rest I am hoping for. Do you see that?

So, then, what is self-care? I believe it is everything we do to prepare ourselves to keep going. To keep loving, keep pouring out, keep laughing, keep wiping sticky fingers and hugging our little people when they can’t figure out how to listen. To keep pursuing our husbands even when the middle-of-the-night wake up is looming. And to keep our hearts tuned to the nudging of the Spirit who might point us to yet another person who needs us.

Self-care is everything we do to prepare ourselves to keep going. - @_alisanelson Click To Tweet

In Deuteronomy 8, the Lord gives an explanation for the way he addressed a most basic need of the Israelites while they trudged through the desert –

“And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Your clothing did not wear out on you and your foot did not swell these forty years. Know then in your heart that, as a man disciplines his son, the Lord your God disciplines you. So you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God by walking in his ways and by fearing him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing out in the valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper. And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land he has given you.”

Deuteronomy 8:3 - Tales of a Peanut - Strength Collective

Forty years is a long time. Everyday they were supposed to practice trusting God to supply all of their needs – to keep going when their hunger pangs grew stronger. Trust that each morning would bring new manna from heaven – an outpouring of their Father’s love.

Hunger is a scary feeling. Our bodies respond by releasing hormones and neurotransmitters, fixing our attention on any nearby food in order to induce us to eat. If you think back, you will probably be able to recall a time when you suddenly realized how hungry you were. What did you experience? How did you react? Were you in the drive thru line before you even realized what was happening?

We can hit that sort of wall in our everyday life when it comes to rest too. Where we suddenly feel desperate for moments of quiet. What’s your fall back? Are you quick to start scrolling through your various social media feeds? Do you see yourself starting to get snippy with your kids?

It was in these moments that the Israelites responded with grumbling – more food, more water, more variety. Nothing was enough. I, and probably you too, find I can have quite the appetite when I have taken it upon myself to provide for my needs. I will consume anything I can find – whether that be food, entertainment, or silence. What I seek for myself – and what I want to see you seek alongside me – is the discipline of surrender. I think self-care in light of the Gospel looks like ceasing all the striving and hustling so we can crawl up to our Father and be reminded of our humanity. He didn’t make us to be Energizer bunnies. He made us to require rest and rejuvenation – food, water, sleep, quiet reflection and prayer. We were created to need constant connection with Him. Because we are sinful, we have to consistently check in and take notice of how we have strayed. We will never be able to continuously outpour ourselves to those in our lives if we are not being poured into by the well that never runs dry.

When I left that lunch table messy and took a nap, the self-care part was not the nap. No, the self-care was actually the letting go of my own perfection. Recognizing that in that instance, a clean table was not going to help me be ready for the next round. I didn’t realize it then but this was a practice in trusting God. Not that somehow my house would end up clean, but that my satisfaction did not depend upon these perceived expectations of being everything to everyone. I didn’t have to secure my own happiness or my own peace.

My satisfaction didn't depend upon these expectations of being everything to everyone- @_alisanelson Click To Tweet

As I wrap up, consider this passage from Hebrews 6 –

For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, saying, “Surely I will bless you and multiply you.” And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise. For people swear by something greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation. So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”

This “oath” the author refers to goes back to Genesis where God made a covenant with Abraham – “surely I will bless you and multiply you.” When it came time for the covenant ceremony to be performed – where both parties would walk through a line of animals split in two, thus saying “may this be me if I do not keep this oath” – the Lord made Abraham fall asleep and walked through on his own. This means that the Lord was vowing to hold to his oath no matter what Abraham (or his offspring) did. So when the Israelites grumbled in the desert, the Lord remained faithful. All the way until Christ would suffer, die, and rise again to take his place as the Great High Priest. The fulfillment of this covenant is Christ – our anchor.

And if we have this sure and steadfast anchor for our soul, we can step away from all the striving toward perfection and submit ourselves to a Father who cares more about our heart than our appearance.

Heart Over Appearance - Aliso Nelson - Strength Collective - Tales of a Peanut

Self-care is a topic growing in popularity, for good reason, but if we aren’t careful in how we think through and act on it, we will fail to look any different from those who reject Christ. Our assurance of salvation and our identity as dearly beloved children removes any need to be everything to everybody in order to have earned our rest. Rest, whether it comes now or at the end of all things, is given because God is good. And we are instructed to take daily moments to remind ourselves of that goodness – and His worthiness of our trust and worship.

In future posts, we’ll continue to flesh out what self-care really is and through this new understanding, we’ll devise strategies for taking consistent time to practice trusting the Lord to enable us to keep going.


Right now, I want to give you a first step. In my next post I will talk about the necessity of keeping our brain on so we can see the posture of our hearts and the attitude of our self-talk.


To get ready for it I want you to think about this question and comment below:

What do you do when you experience sudden hunger? What happens in your body and what’s your fallback behavior?


As we begin this journey together toward more effective self-care, I invite you to post pictures on Instagram of your personal pursuit of trusting God and fighting against the pull to be everything to everyone. Use the hashtag #everydaystrength (a phrase we’ll dive into next time) so we can see too!

First Year Months, Hadley, Mommy Advice, Recipes

H turns 8 (months)

HGE 8 months_2015 01 09_0004_edited-1Hadley girl,

It’s near impossible to believe that you are already eight months old. And my how you’ve grown this month! You’re moving and shaking all over the place and it’s all I can do to keep up. I love you sweet girl.

This month you switched from army crawling to real crawling. You look like one of those little crawling baby dolls because you’re so tiny and you move around with your little arms and legs just a going. You have gotten faster and faster and now we will sit you down and you’ll be across the room in no time.

You are also constantly talking and, we think, saying some real words with meaning. On the 18th we were reading bedtime books in the study and you were crawling on the floor. You crawled over to Daddy and looked up and it sounded like you said “Dada”. You don’t speak on command yet but it sure seems like you consistently say Dada so we’re counting it as your first word. Since then you often say “Hey” back to us and sometimes say “Bye.”

Food is still one of your favorite pastimes. You’re still nursing five times a day and eating two containers of baby food each day. The first time I fed you pears you weren’t a fan but you eat them now and everything else that I can feed you including garden vegetable, apple prune, pear pineapple.

Despite your large appetite you are still tiny. You seem big to me because you’re wearing 6-9 month clothes but when I see pictures of other babies you’re age it confirms what the doctor said at your last appointment, you’re tiny. But you’re perfectly proportioned and growing and eating so I assume you’ll just catch up in your toddlerhood like your brother and sister. You’re also still in size 2 diapers but are getting close to needing a size 3.

You are still a fantastic sleeper and are on the same schedule that you’ve been on for a while. Nowadays though you are very flexible on missing naps. If you miss one you are fine with just two although you’re happiest when you get all three. This is wonderful news and has made our lives so much easier since you are happy missing your morning nap to play in the nursery at church and can miss your later afternoon nap if we’re ferrying Charlotte around. You are truly a go with the flow baby at this point.

Not only are you crawling everywhere but this week you also pulled up to standing by yourself! We were picking up the playroom and James yelled “Hadley!” and I turned around and you were standing up holding up on a storage box. You watch Charlotte and James with envy in your eyes and I know that it won’t be long before you’re running around after them. I contemplated strapping a weight to your back to keep you still but I’m not sure that even that would work at this point. You are very determined to discover your world and master anything that stands in your way. Those will be very good traits when you get older.

Overall sweet girl, you are a joy and we are so blessed to be your parents. You love to cuddle in to my shoulder if I’m holding you and someone talks to you. You are generous with your toothless grins and giggle and babble often putting smiles on everyone’s faces. We love you so much!



Hadley, Mommy Advice, Recipes

Welcome to the Table

Hadley joined the big world at the kitchen table right before her five month birthday when I fed her rice cereal for the first time. She seemed to enjoy it and definitely ate it much better than the other two ever did. We sporadically fed her cereal until she turned six months and then introduced veggies and then fruit which she has gobbled up regardless of what kind of food it is.

2014 10 05_0287_edited-1

2014 10 05_0288_edited-1

2014 10 05_0303_edited-1