I Quit Instagram (on Mondays)

A couple weeks ago, I decided I was going to be off all social media platforms at least once a week. I chose Monday because I wanted to start my week with better habits.

The first thing I do every morning is check my phone and my fingers automatically go to Instagram. I mean, it feels like I’m in a vicious cycle that I can’t get out of.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Instagram. It has brought a lot of special connections and it has allowed me to grow Styld by Grace beyond the blog. So being off of it completely on a Monday, when most people are on and catching up from the weekend, can be nerve-wrecking. There’s this feeling like I’ll lose these very important connections I’ve made.

The truth is I won’t be missing out on anything. There is always tomorrow and there’s always an opportunity to delivery great content and connection, no matter what day it is or in which way it’s delivered.

But at the end of the day, my eyes have to be focused on what’s in front of me more than what’s on my phone. My default cannot be scrolling endlessly and in turn neglecting what I have in front of me.

So if you’ve been feeling like you need a little detox from social media for whatever reason, here are some healthy alternatives I’ve replaced it with on Mondays. Read on…

Connection: investing in my relationships

“Are you even listening to me”? I don’t know how many times my husband has said that to me while I’m glued to my phone. Of course I pretend I know exactly what he was saying. (And pretend is the keyword because I’m totally zoned out). This is what motivates me the most to keep going with No Instagram Mondays. Truly connecting with the people I love. Without needing a like, a comment, a share, or any form of validation. Just simple quality time. I’ve also started an email series, “From My Desk To Yours”, for my newsletter subscribers where I share things floating around my desk like my weekly favorites, podcasts, music, and stuff that’s on my heart. It’s such a freeing way to invest in my community without expecting nothing in return.

Faith: connecting with God

The part of me that’s affected the most from being off of social media for a day, on a weekly basis, is my walk with God. I can’t say I’m perfect at this. But eliminating one thing that distracts me from connecting with God is very helpful. Like I said, my instinct is to open Instagram first thing every morning. But knowing I can’t on Mondays, gives me a reason to open the Bible app instead. Or it gives me a reason to listen to Sunday’s sermon again. And on my downtime, instead of scrolling I can actually pray about the stuff that’s worrying me. There is time for connection with God. Sometimes we just are too distracted and don’t make room for it.

Rest: giving my mind a break

At times I feel that my brain needs a break from my phone. My mind needs a break from all the information, updates, memes, and heartbreaking news. Seriously, what am I fueling my mind with? Do I really need to know every detail of every thing that’s happening in the world? I’m not saying I want to be oblivious to what’s happening in the world. I’m just saying I think my mind can’t take in information non stop without processing it in times of rest. In fact, on days when I’ve been off of social media I tend to be less anxious and I’m able to relax a lot easier.

Education: learning new things

On Mondays when I’m tempted to click on Instagram or Facebook, instead I click on my Podcast app. I listen to something that will help nourish my mind. What area in my career, dreams, or goals do I need to learn more about? There’s so much to learn and so many ways to learn new things. Podcasts are just one way. I’ve also watched interviews on Youtube of people who are in my industry to learn how they have navigated their career or entrepreneurial journey.

Friend, if you’re thinking about quitting social media for a day or a week or even a month, there’s really nothing to lose and you WON’T be missing out on anything! It’s definitely not easy and I’ve messed up more times than I’d like to admit. But we shouldn’t put all our eggs in one basket. There’s so many ways to connect, learn, grow, and invest in ourself and others.

If you try it, let me know if any of these alternatives helped you too.

IVF ONLY – Keep Fighting, Fighter

Sometimes you just gotta smile through the scary stuff. This was an exciting yet nerve wrecking day. We prayed and trusted God for his will to be done in our lives.

What a road we have been on the past few months. (Well, really the past 3.5 years. Here’s the whole story in case you haven’t read it yet). Our first IVF cycle started in April and I can’t believe we went through that and are (ALMOST) on the other side.

We have been to countless doctor appointments, lost count of all the injections I’ve had to take, cannot explain the discomfort of each pelvic ultrasound, and the ROLLERCOASTER of emotions we have experienced have been exhausting.

IVF is not easy or simple. I knew what I was getting myself into when I chose to go down this route. I knew my faith would be challenged. I knew my physical strength would be challenged. I knew my relationships would be challenged.

Sometimes I HATE that this is our story. Sometimes I CLEARLY see the blessing. And sometimes I doubt why God would choose us. Why he would think I can endure the pain, grief, happy, and elated moments, which you can experience from one moment to the next with just one simple phone call from a nurse.

I clearly remember a couple nights before our egg retrieval. I was so uncomfortable. My ovaries were so enlarged and I was in physical and emotional pain. I was waiting for results from an MRI and I was so so so scared that the results would be something that would hinder the cycle from moving forward.

That night all I could do was cry. So I got out of bed, went into my closet, put my headphones on, played some worship music and started singing to God. There was nothing else I could do. I had to remind myself that even in this process, God was still God. He was with me and was for me.

Moments like that have happened more than I’d like to admit. Fear, anxiety, worry, and just plain sadness are things I have wrestled with through this process. What I’ve learned through it all is that no matter how long you’ve known Jesus or how deep of a prayer life you have, there are somethings that will rock our faith. It’s battles like these that make you realize just how much you need Jesus. More than you ever thought. And you desperately seek Him because, truly, he’s the only person who can get it.

I believe God doesn’t expect us to have it all together. I believe that he knows when our faith needs to be elevated and expanded. Even though we are unaware of our need, he knows exactly how much we need him. He knows that at times, we will feel defeated. He knows that at times, our faith will need to be encouraged. He knows that at times, we’ll need a good cry. And he actually holds space for us to be exactly who we are in those difficult moments of life.

Do I regret making the choice of doing IVF? NEVER. There may be really bad days but the promise of life and hope is so much greater. God has used this to bless us in ways we thought would never be possible. He has shown us a grace that seems impossible for him to give. We have felt cared for and loved by Him through the people in our life. He has shown his great love and faithfulness for us.

If you’re going through a battle right now, I just want to say I’m sorry you’re facing this difficulty. I won’t say I understand exactly what you’re going through because I don’t. But can I encourage you today with something I’ve learned along my journey with infertility?

Fight your battle with an army of people who can pray for you, uplift you, and let you be yourself. Be sensitive to God’s voice as he tells you who that army of people will be. There are very few people who can get in the nitty gritty of tough battles, but God does provide those relationships if we are open to them. I know it’s hard to let people in when you’re at your weakest, but do it anyway. The right people will stick around and will be used by God to help you through it.

This is my closing encouragement to you and to me: KEEP FIGHTING, FIGHTER! Even on the darkest days, when your hope seems very weak and fragile, and your body and heart are faltering. Keep fighting the good fight of faith. Please don’t give up. God is for you. God is on your side. Let your fight be hinged on his grace, his promises, and his unending love for you.

Summer Lovin’ Devotional

Summertime is usually spent soaking up the sun and unwinding. Isn’t it the best feeling to disconnect and recharge? I’ve got to admit that sometimes as I disconnect, I can forget to connect on a spiritual level. That’s why this summer devotional was created.

The beautiful truth is that summer was God’s way of showing us how bright and wonderful His Glory will be once we see Him face to face. Summer is a glimpse of the no pain, no tears, no hardship eternity we will experience.

And this devotional will help you take notice of that truth. This devotional is meant to add intentionality to your summer. It’s meant to help you connect with God when you’re on the go or on taking it slow. It’s meant to encourage you to experience God’s love. And it asks questions that will deepens and expands your faith.

The best part is that it is very affordable (just 10 bucks) and comes with four 8×10” prints you can frame in your home.

To purchase the Styld by Grace Summer Lovin’ Devotional, go to the Styld by Grace shop here!

Summertime Prayer Spaces

As a young women in college, my summers were usually spent at youth camp, serving at my local church, and going on mission trips. It was simple to focus on the things of God. As an adult with countless responsibilities and distractions, prayer sometimes goes on the back burner. So this useful and colorful worksheet is meant to fill the spaces in between the hustle and bustle with prayer. Scroll to download this Summer Prayer Spaces worksheet…

Download the Prayer Spaces worksheet by clicking here!

This freebie is for personal use only and copyright Styld by Grace. Any redistribution, commercial use, and sale of this freebie is strictly prohibited.

5 Ugly Truths About Infertility

National Infertility Awareness Week is here again! It’s an emotional rollercoaster. Sharing my heart and journey is both heart-wrenching and freeing.

This year’s theme is Uncovered. Infertility warriors have been encouraged to Uncover truths about infertility this week to bring awareness to the disease. I’m hoping to uncover some ugly truths about infertility in a genuine and honest way.

I also hope to uncover the love, hope, and grace of God we’ve experienced while facing the ugly truths. I wouldn’t be doing our story justice without speaking on both.

Ugly truth #1
Infertility is isolating and lonely

There are days when you feel like you’re an island. Who can relate to what’s happening in your life? How can you explain it to the people around you? The reality is that no matter how much details you give, there is no way to fully express the emotions and procedures you are going through. Some relationships change or grow distant. Some people don’t know what to say so they say nothing at all. Some people say insensitive things or make less of your journey. All these things can make you guarded and much more selective with who you’ll be sharing your story with.

Ugly truth #2
Infertility is coping with denial

Edward and I clearly remember the day we saw “IVF ONLY” highlighted in yellow when he was first diagnosed. We couldn’t wrap our heads around it. It was a huge blow for us. We thought, “What the heck? That is so extreme! This can’t be right. Not us”. It took us a year to go back to the doctor. I couldn’t fathom having to go through something so invasive. I didn’t feel strong enough or ready. And I thought that God’s plan HAD TO BE different. Well, it wasn’t. This is the path that we must take. And we are finally at a place where we’ve accepted that this is our reality.

Side Note: We are in the middle of our first IVF cycle! It’s a huge step in our journey. We are excited, nervous, anxious, and hopeful. And I’m super proud of us for taking this step.

Ugly truth #3
Infertility is filled with shame and embarrassment

Honestly, talking about all the stuff that needs to work and be healthy when you’re going through infertility can be so embarrassing. I’ve lost count of how many times we’ve been examined, prodded, asked intimate questions, and performed analysis’ that are uncomfortable. Then, there’s the shame of feeling like there’s something wrong with you. The shame you feel when people ask if you have children. Or the embarrassment when you have to decline an invite due to financial or emotional struggles.

Ugly truth #4
Infertility is time consuming

If you’re going through infertility and trying to explore different options to become parents, it take A LOT of time and effort. Whether you’re adopting, fostering, getting medical help–it takes a big chunk of your life. Your calendar is dictated by appointments, hearings, visits, or medical procedures. And for the average person dealing with infertility that can mean putting work, responsibilities, goals, jobs, or prior commitments on hold. That in itself can be frustrating and disheartening.

Ugly truth #5
Infertility is coping with pregnancy envy

This is by far the hardest thing to admit for me. By nature, I am not an envious person. I feel most like myself when I’m encouraging and cheering someone on. But grief and loss have weird ways of manifesting. I felt like the worse person in the world when I saw or heard of pregnancy announcements and all I could feel was anger and disappointment. I hid my emotions many times because what kind of “evil” person would feel pregnancy envy? I was genuinely happy for them but incredibly sad for us. We have seen many friends and family get pregnant and give birth in the 3 years we’ve been waiting. The feelings of grief and loss have been deep. But we have learned to work through these feelings. We have chosen to bless, love, and celebrate our loved ones despite what we feel in the moment.

God’s Truth:
Love, hope, faith, and grace

My husband said something very wise to me the other day as we spoke about our journey. “God has a plan behind everything. He doesn’t close one door and never opens another one. He closes one door to open another one. A door we need to go through. The word need should only be used by God. He’s the only one who knows what we need“.

I’ve expressed to Edward many times that I just don’t understand why we have to go through this. Are we not good enough people? Are we destined to be terrible parents? And his response has always been that it is just that God has a special assignment for us.

I now understand this. It’s taken me a while. And sometimes my mind wants to play tricks on me. But in my heart I know that for some reason, God has a knowing we don’t. He sees something we don’t. In His sovereignty, He deems it necessary and essential for THIS to be our story. Somehow this will have a ripple affect for eternity.

Through every single Ugly truth–loneliness, denial, shame, lost time, envy–God has been there. His has loved us fiercely. He has sent people to love us and meet our needs. He had given us the grace to walk through this with dignity and strength. He has orchestrated moments for us to hear his voice. He has provided in ways that are uncommon for most people going through this. And he has double, tripled, our faith.

The real truth is that this incredibly heavy load we carry is something we never wanted but can look back and see evidence of God’s love, grace, and hope. We have come to realize that He is the prize. We have come to believe that He is what we hope for. We have come to know that He is what our hearts are after. And no ugly truth or diagnosis can take Him away.

“So now I live with the confidence that there is nothing in the universe with the power to separate us from God’s love. I’m convinced that his love will triumph over death, life’s troubles, fallen angels, or dark rulers in the heavens. There is nothing in our present or future circumstances that can weaken his love. There is no power above us or beneath us—no power that could ever be found in the universe that can distance us from God’s passionate love, which is lavished upon us through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One!”

Romans 8:38-39