Saturday, August 13, 2016

Looking to Start A New Chapter

The role I have as wife and Mama in our little family of three is about to change. Within the next week or so, we are expecting our second little girl to take her first out of the womb breath! We will soon be a family of four. I am still amazed at that reality, and praise God for His perfect timing in gifting us new life.

Similarly to my previous pregnancy with Peighton, I have experienced some complications. The reassurance I have is, "God is in control, and He is good. I've been through this before. I'v'e reached full-term. My doctors know what they're doing." But, if I'm totally honest, this pregnancy, overall has felt a lot harder (maybe because I also am taking care of a toddler!). It's led me to wonder am I built to do this again?? Needless to say, I'm quite eager for this pregnancy to wrap up as the highs are in the nineties and life just feels a whole lot more challenging while growing a tiny human!

And then, there's the whole emotional aspect of adding another little one to our family... I have enjoyed so many fun moments with my first born, sweet Peighton Louise!
My heart is a little torn at the thought of somewhere, somehow finding more love to give to another little one. I hear it's possible, but I'm currently in the "I'll believe it when I experience it" phase. Every night when I put Peighton to bed, I whisper in her ear that she'll always be my baby. Some nights, she nods or gives me a verbal "ya" in agreement. And while I am oh so very eager to snuggle our little one on the way, my heart is grieving the loss of being a Mama to one.

Peighton made Tyler and I parents. She will always be our first. She stole our hearts! Now, we've moved towards prepping her for her impending role of Big Sister and are doing all we can to prepare our own hearts to multiply our love as we look to soon welcome Baby Girl Stowell Dos!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Platform for Success

Within the last year or so, I have given into what has been flooding my Facebook newsfeed--for what seems like forever. But for most of that forever, I was annoyed and judgmental.

Social media used for small business//sales.

Come on, I am sure you have friends who are Beachbody Coaches, LuLaRoe Consultants, small business owners (Etsy shop, etc.), Rodan + Fields Consultants, Juice+ Plus Distributors, and the like, filling your newsfeed with their products, promotions, and sales pitches. And I cannot possibly be the ONLY person who has had the thought, "Facebook is for sharing your life! I want to see pictures of your family...your LUNCH...but I'm not buying what you're selling."

And then I did it. It started, for me with a fellow Seminole High grad who had FAITHFULLY posted her fitness and health journey with Beachbody shamelessly all over her social media accounts. I saw she was offering samples of Shakeology, and because I had seen her progress, I thought trying a sample was harmless. That led to (although several months later) a commitment to a fitness accountability group and Beachbody workout program. And I was, within months, in the best shape of my life--even post-baby! Then I turned into one of those people, constantly posting about fitness and Beachbody....eeek!

Most recently, my best friend began working with LuLaRoe. This particular friend has been a faithful ministry partner since I began serving in full-time ministry in 2010. When she asked if I'd like to host an online "Pop-Up Party" again, I thought that seemed harmless enough and it would be a great way to come alongside her--after all, she'd been supportive of me for years! {Truth be told, I kind of hated what I had seen of LuLaRoe clothing up until she began selling it. And then I bought a pair of black leggings. And I have never in my life had anything so soft on my body. Now, I'm obsessed...let's just say, I had a LuLaRoe filled birthday!}

Why do I share all of this? Because these people who are posting about their products or businesses have FAMILIES and deep rooted desires to actually make a difference in the lives of others. My Beachbody Coach is a wife, mom of three, and part-time high school guidance counselor. My friend, the LuLaRoe Consultant, is a new-to-the Atlanta-area, burned out former teacher who chose LuLaRoe because of their desire to give back, as a company. These Facebook sales people are (not always, but) often times in it for way more than a quick dollar--and let's be honest, with non-supportive pessimists like us as Facebook friends, they are not making dollars very quickly.

I made a choice--after many judgmental thoughts and clicks of the unfollow button. I chose to support my friends and their endeavors. I chose to advocate for their cause--even when I may be their least profitable customer (because, my budget often says "clearance at Target" and not "handmade from Etsy"). And I want to challenge you to do the same. How can we stand with our friends who are working their tails off to make a living? How can we support the use of social media for small businesses? Maybe it's giving into trying that workout program that seems to work for everyone else "but would never work for you...." OR maybe it's committing to host a virtual party and introducing your friends to products they may like OR maybe, it's just choosing to have a positive attitude when you see your friend's post and applauding them from behind the screen rather than criticizing them.

Let's embrace social media as a platform for small business success!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Actions Speak

Actions speak louder than words, a phrase I'm sure most of us are familiar with. Those five words have deep meaning if we take the time to unpack them. But where did that thought originate from? Who came up with something so profound? I don't know the answer to that. 

However, I recently flipped the page on our daily Scripture calendar and 1 John 3:18 was before me. I began wondering if the generic actions speak louder than words phrase is a summary of this great Truth.

Maybe it is just me....  But words come up empty if there is nothing more than what is spoken, to give it value. Actions demonstrate what is beneath the surface. It is often times easy to say the right thing, but it is harder to fake loving in deed and truth. Lately, I have felt this tension and had to be mindful that words are just words until there is deed and truth as the foundation. I remind myself that I need to remain guarded when empty words are spoken, in order to protect my heart. This is a great challenge for me! As I seek to choose to believe the best in others, I also am called to (and know, from experience, it's best to) guard my heart above all else. When I am too quick to fall for words alone, I am often times left disappointed, hurt, or bitter. So I not only need to filter this as a recipient, but also as a lover of others. Am I loving others with simple words or am I truly loving others in deed and truth?

What about you.... are you loving others with {empty} words or are your actions supportive of what you say? I would encourage you to give some thought to this. And I'd venture to guess, it will make a  difference in your relationships. 

Sunday, May 1, 2016


Lately I have been faced with the reality that (surprise!) I have areas that need attention in my life--areas of much needed growth.

Why surprise? Because I know this. But at least for me, these realizations often come in waves or seasons. I'll just be cruising along and then straight out of left field, I am smacked square across the face with REALITY. I am reminded that there are areas of my life that need a remodel. 

I read a quote this week by Beth Moore that hit the nail on the head: "Embarassment is our friend when we let it motivate us to change."

Now my embarrassment (thank heavens) was more internal than public. But as I began to see the junk and unhealed hurt in my heart, I was embarrassed indeed. I have become a hoarder of sorts. I have let so much JUNK just take up space in my mind and heart and it is causing decay. So what's my plan? I need a remodel. And as exciting as the end result looks, I know the process is going to be uncomfortable--even painful at times. But I need to constantly remind myself of the beauty the finished product holds. 

I need to persevere through the demolition to the big reveal. But what I fear most, more than the discomfort, is the possibility of finding even more junk. If you've ever seen anyone go through an actual remodel--tearing a home apart to the studs, rebuilding something more sturdy and more beautiful than before, all while maintaining the foundation and bones--then you know a lot can "go wrong." Those HGTV shows have scarred me (and inspired me). I can see the surface problems and I am as ready as I'll ever be to tackle those...but it's what I have yet to uncover that scares me most. Oh but how I would be robbing myself if I chose the quick and cheap fix! I want to do this remodel right. No pain, no gain they say, right?

So, as I commit to uncovering, rebuilding, and beautifying, I do so both confidently and yet reluctantly. This isn't my first go at this. And I know it won't be my last. Thankfully, I have the promise of the Lord never leaving me nor forsaking me--even when my ugliest layer is exposed. And what a relief to know I'm not in this overhaul alone!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

It's Who I Am

Do you ever lose sight of who you are? Do you ever feel like your floundering in an ocean of opinions, expectations, demands, and labels? Do you ever lose sight of who God is? Do you ever find yourself begging Him to reveal Himself to you...yet again--because, although you hate to admit it, you seem to have...forgotten?

I can easily find myself there. I so often aim to be who others expect me to be, to be who others say I am. And...that is absolutely exhausting.

This week, I have been meditating on the truth of who God is, and who I am.

God, is a good Father, loving, gracious, generous, ever-present, perfect, and faithful. 

And BECAUSE all of that is true of God, I can trust who He says I am!

I am loved, chosen, beautiful, forgiven, a masterpiece. I am His.

Thankfully, none of these truths or realities will change. But surely, I will forget again. Maybe as quickly as tomorrow. But because God is good and gracious, He will always be there to remind me of who He is, and who I am. 

Friday, January 8, 2016

This Year..


Each year, I choose a verse or passage in Scripture to pray through throughout the year. It keeps me grounded and gives me a prayer focus (for myself). Last year, I knew with a new baby I would be coveting REST. So I prayed through Psalm 23...often!

This year, I'm still anticipating longing for REST (not just the kind I find by catching some zzz's but the kind I can only find at the feet of Jesus). And I'm also realizing how much I need God's GENTLENESS in my life. So I am praying Jesus' words over my life this year and clinging to His goodness.

By no means do I expect to be all rested, gentle, and Christ-like by December 31, 2016 but I sure hope to be closer to that than I am now. I long to be satisfied in His presence and to imitate His ways. And maybe, just maybe, by seeking Him and trusting who He is by praying His words over my life, I will see the fruit of that come the end of 2016!

What areas are you longing to grow in or what ways do you hope to experience God this year?

Monday, October 19, 2015

Show and Tell

As a college student, I remember attending a Fall Retreat with Cru and hearing the speaker share the idea that if you go see a movie that you really enjoyed, you're going to tell your friends to go see it too. It's like you can't help it. The movie was just THAT good. It would be a shame for others to miss out on the wonder of it. What was the speaker's point? That our relationship and experience with God should be just. like. that. We should be so moved by God--who He is AND what He does--that we are naturally compelled to tell others about it.

I was reminded of this recently as I posted a status on Facebook. The post read:

"I've been working out in my living room (utilizing nap time!) for the last 2 1/2 months. I'm in (quite possibly) the best shape of my life. I'm eating real, whole foods AND still successfully nursing my baby girl. Without trying, I have introduced & "recruited" 4 others to begin the PiYo program--because when you find something you like AND get the results you want, you share about it & people buy in."

I gave up my three-days-a-week-at-the-gym routine at the end of pregnancy. Over the summer, I took the plunge and purchased PiYo (a Beachbody workout program). This would not be my first experience with Beachbody--Tyler and I completed Insanity in 2012. But this time was different. I was committed. I set goals. I was sticking to the eating plan provided. And I was in a Challenge Group with my Beachbody Coach* along with other challengers--this aided in accountability, recipe ideas, encouragement, and FUN! 

And that's when I realized. Because my experience with PiYo has been so wonderful, I want to shout it from the rooftops. I want my friends who have been working or hoping for results to hear me out. I want people to experience the wonder of a 30 minute home workout that is kind to your body. I want to see others amazed at their success! Therefore, I am naturally sharing about it...every. chance. I. get. AND, because my physical results are evident, people are asking me about it. Like, a lot of people. Not only do I want to talk about it, but people want to know about it. They see a difference and are curious. This is exactly how I imagine it to be, ideally, in regards to the GospelWe should be so moved by God--who He is AND what He does--that we are naturally compelled to tell others about it. And shouldn't our lives reflect the difference He has made in us, to the point that people ask about Him? I think yes. 

Just like that movie that was so good, and just like the results from a good workout program... Jesus is worth sharing about. 

*I am currently NOT a Beachbody Coach. I am just a satisfied customer with the desire to see others achieve their goals! If you have questions about Beachbody, I would love for you to get in touch with my Coach, Krysta. Head over to her blog or her professional page.