Hey friends! You might remember back in December we had a day dedicated in our shop to our dear friend/photographer Caroline. All profits from the shop went to raise money for her trip to Haiti. Today she's back to update us on how the trip went and what she's been up to.
Caroline is one of the best photographers I've ever met and her passion is also crazy contagious. I'm so grateful she's one of my people and I'm so grateful she's sharing her story with us today. Enjoy, friends! - Jessi
It’s been almost eight weeks since I returned from working in Haiti and I’ve been at a loss of how I should write about this trip, these people and these stories. I’ve had a ton of friends meet me for coffee or dinner to hear my stories which I am so grateful for and I’m an open book for wanting to talk about it. My people know that I don’t tell stories quickly-I tell them with all the detail for you to feel the moment, the situation, the intensity-I want you to love and ache and be as excited as I was. And putting all of those stories into words on a screen is hard. Anyone who has gone through an experience with a group of people that you’re no longer with knows how hard it is to come to terms with the real world after that experience is over. It’s a balance of wanting to let those experiences and relationships change you but at the same time, realize that the real life you return to is hard. Going back to running a business is hard. And time consuming. And frustrating when the world has taught us that emailing is more important that maintaining relationships and meeting deadlines is more important than being a part of a change in a broken nation.
So I’ll try to show you with pictures and with words because that’s what I do.
I could say that the heart of the trip was love or service or joy or any of the other genuine emotions that both our team received and we were able to give but from my perspective, it was about giving hope. Coming into the trip, our team didn’t know what we were going to be doing. Heck, we didn’t even know each other. We came from all across the continent as professional photographers and entrepreneurs (with a student, a firefighter and a few nurses sprinkled in) wanting to serve with the skills and talents that we had. What we didn’t want was be there without a purpose. We didn’t want to come in wearing matching t-shirts, hug the kids and disappear only to post photos on Instagram for our friends to double tap.
So we didn’t.
For the week, we worked with Child Hope International, an organization in Port-au-Prince that encompasses a school, a clinic, a boys home, a girls home, a feeding program and a transitional program. As part of their schooling, the older kids take classes to help bridge the gap between aging out of the orphanage and heading into the real world where the unemployment rate is 82%. But as we all know, there is a large difference between merely knowing the skills of baking sewing, metal working, jewelry making, screen printing and computer tech and being able to use them to profit, thrive and grow.
So that’s where we came in. Throughout the week, we were able to teach the kids business classes, help them verbalize and write down their why of why they do what they do and work with the staff to talk out obstacles and how to get over those walls. And of course, photograph/film all their programs for an upcoming project that we didn’t even know needed to happen until the last few hours of our trip.
And the people…the people on this trip…gosh. We came from all over and connected immediately on so many different levels that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to explain to those who weren’t there. They are SOLID, fearless, hilarious, boldly-loving, world-changing people that are some of my new favorites.
So here goes. The week in pictures from not only me, but my whole team of photographers (with a few stories thrown in). And team-thanks for helping me tell this story with your photos! Below you can also watch the video made about the Passion Project trip to Haiti!
The last time I blogged about the journey I'm on with Revelation Wellness, I talked about being humbled and hopeful enough to take a "before" picture. It was a little scary putting a picture of myself, unedited, in not the most flattering clothes or lighting on the internet for all to see - but it was also refreshing to be honest and real about where I'm at. It got me thinking - I really wish I could give an adequate "before picture" of my heart at the start of this process. Maybe for some of you it would be really familiar and maybe for some of you it would be shockingly disturbing, I'm not quite sure.
I had a few people email, text, or comment after that post and say - "you know you're not seriously obese, right?" and I get it. I've always known that the really serious issue with my health and my heart as it pertains to weight has never been the number on the scale - but the state of my spiritual and emotional health. It was that reality, my heart reality, that made me reach out to Alisa to get help in the first place, not my weight or my frustration over not being a certain size.
Without trying to sound too dramatic or being an intense Debbie Downer on a Thursday morning - can I just tell you guys, my heart before picture was really really bad? I'm 29 now, but this is an internal battle I've been fighting for LITERALLY as long as I can imagine. My earliest, earliest memory of relating to my body is of genuinely hating it. My major life occurrences and celebrations are dotted and lined with the memory of what size I was or how I felt about my body that day. My strongest memory from my wedding? Not having my eyes locked with my husband as I walked down the aisle, but genuinely questioning whether or not my back looked fat those sitting in the pews. My body, or my feelings about my body, have given me social anxiety and have led to insecurity that hurt my relationships. These thoughts and issues have affected my intimacy with my husband, my freedom to play with my kids, and they've dulled my passion to minister to other women.
My hatred for my body was at an all time high a month or so ago, even though my body weight wasn't. Maybe you're thinking that's incredibly sad (you're right) or maybe that sounds incredibly familiar (I'm sorry).
Well, here's the good news gals. That was my before picture. And it's one that is literally never coming back. Two days into my study with Revelation Wellness, I had more freedom than I'd ever had. A week in, I was starting to feel like a new woman. Yesterday, at the start of my fourth week - I found myself standing in front of the mirror, praising God for my stretch marks and the parts of my body that would've left me in tears a few weeks ago. I kept laughing through happy tears and wondering, "who is this girl? where is this coming from?".
I'm not sure who this girl is, but I know who my faithful God is. He is the One who is not satisfied with the before picture. He is the One who says that if we seek Him, He will be found. He is the One who says that it is for freedom that He sent His Son to free us. He's really the One doing the work and I am so incredibly grateful. And I'll just keep telling the story.
If you can relate to my before heart picture, I cannot suggest spending some time on the Revelation Wellness site enough. Be encouraged by Alisa, try an at-home program, watch a few free videos. Don't stay in the before. Hope for the after.
It's been a few months since I blogged about goal setting and specifically, my own goals. I'm still using Lara Casey's power sheets and loving them so, so, so much. Every month, a few days before the month starts - I take an hour or two to go over the worksheets and I find them so incredibly helpful to remind me where I was pointed in the first place, to see what worked and what didn't, and take stock of where I'm at.
I'm still working from the main five desires that I set at the beginning of the year, and each month I just break those down into monthly goals based on where I'm at. I'll tell you, February - the goals just didn't happen. I'm not quite sure what happened in February - but somewhere between the launch of the church and the Lent calendar, I just lived. And I'm not bummed. I mean, we launched a church plant and kept four kids alive. It's ok if some books didn't get read, you know? Because of that, when I set my March goals, I basically revisited my list for February and added a lot of grace.
Here were my monthly goals for March & how those ended up.
- join Nick in working on our family budget (he's plenty capable, but I've been really needing to understand our money for a few years now so I can be more intentional): done!
- make a room plan/to-do list to organize each room in our house: done!
- execute two rooms on the list: done! My office & kitchen & living room are mostly done!
- get exercise routine in order: done! I stopped going to Barre because the timing wasn't good for my family, but added back in more running and that has been really life giving. Also shifted our schedule so I can work out in the morning again.
- go to doctor's appointment for myself to check hormone levels + make sure all things are functioning properly: not done. Will get done!
- take big kids to well child visit at new doctor: not done, but scheduled for this month!
- identify family rhythms to watch: done and done!
- rebrand Naptime Diaries blog + shop logo, start spring line: done! Can't wait to show y'all!
The new blog + shop websites launch on Monday the 7th (woohoooo! Make sure you're following my instagram and the shop instagram for sneak peeks), and ya'll - I'm not even ashamed to tell you that I've gone to the DMV twice in the last few weeks to get a driver's license. I have to take the tests because I've moved in and out of state so much and um - I haven't actually done so great in the passing of the tests. But! April is my month! I'm finishing up getting my passport so I'll be all ready for the Kenya trip in May! Most of the stuff on the list is FUN because getting these websites and the spring line of prints and products finished is going to be a huge push of work in the beginning of the month. That's why the back end is heavy in fun and celebration. And you know I'll be celebrating heavily when Nick and I finish our 40 day long Daniel Fast on Easter!
So that's what is on the books in April over here.
I'm linking up my goals with The Tiny Twig and her monthly goals post - what's ahead for you this month? Work? Refreshment? Abiding? Celebration?
Today is a really fun day and I'm really excited to share a little more about Wildly with you guys. This isn't a paid or sponsored post - this is a friend gushing over another friend and the amazing business she just started.
Hayley, aka The Tiny Twig is my online partner in crime in so many different things. We founded The Influence Conference and The Influence Network together. We speak into each others blogs and encourage each other in our writing, speaking, and various endeavors. We're also really good friends and our families love being together.
So you can imagine my crazy excitement when she told me a few months ago that she wanted to start an ethical kid's clothing line that would help mamas dress their kids in a cute, affordable style in the least fussy way possible. I was straight up overjoyed. And today - it's finally here, Wildly Co has officially launched!
So here's what you need to know about Wildly! It's run by Hayley and Mike Morgan and it may look like just some fun t-shirts, but this is only the beginning. Their plan is to develop an ethical kid's clothing line that is a complete capsule wardrobe for kids - but these amazingly cute tshirts aren't a bad start, right? All the shirts are screen printed by hand in their home office and the quality is impeccable.
And here's what you need to know about Hayley as a mom. She's a fantastic one. She's a mother of boys and a leader of women. She has her finger on the pulse of what is cool and fun, while being incredibly grounded in what is real and important. Today I am buying my kid's a few Wildly t-shirts and supporting an amazing family + a fantastic dream. And I unashamedly think you should too! You can check out the Wildly Co website here, or follow them on instagram + twitter!
Ladies, can I just say thank you so much for taking the time to fill out the survey last week? We had five times the number of responses that I hoped for and it was such a blessing to be able to use those as we pray and cast some vision over what Naptime Diaries will look like in the coming months. We heard a few things loud and clear: more biblical reflection, more family, more real life, and more inspiring women. I'll be sharing the results + future plans more next week, but I thought I'd start with a segment I had planned for a while now - Women to be Inspired By. Over the next year, I'll be highlighting and interviewing a few women who really, really inspire me for various reasons from various stages of life. Some are great bloggers, some are amazing mamas, some pastor's wives, some artists, so on and so forth. Today is a really special day because we're highlighting Natalie from The Busy Budgeting Mama AND we're also having a fundraising day in the shop for Natalie and her family today. Go ahead and read her interview and see below for fundraising details!
A little more about Natalie:I lost my best friend through a violent act of domestic violence. It rocked my world and my faith. I have shared on my blog my experience with learning to grieve. I wrote a children's book called Mommy Has an Angel. It's a children's book for grieving mothers. I recently faced health issues that really were a cross for our family. After all the suffering from the pain and scariness of the unkown they were able to determine the cause and even discover, just by chance, (because of all the testing) a cyst that was precancerous and could have killed me years down the road. I'm home recovering now and so blessed by the support of my family, friends and complete strangers! It's been a very emotional and scary time but my faith has never been stronger. I had different experiences in my long hospital stay that convinced me of the power of prayer and that God had a plan for all of us! HE sees the big picture.
1. What does a typical day in your life look like?
We just moved to Charlotte, from Pittsburgh, so our daily life is a bit different! We really felt called to be in Charlotte and took a leap of faith that it was the time and place for us to do this. This decision to move, and be closer to my family and to grow our business HAPPY MOMMY BOX here in Charlotte, was made before my health issues happened... So how we get down here was a bit more hectic than planned, but we are here, and feel such peace and are just trusting in God! Because of my surgery I'm not able to do much physically but am getting stronger every day. My mom and husband have done so much of the baby lifting and grunt work. But my "typical" days are slowly coming back!
I'm a total night person, so of course I was blessed with children who like to wake up before the sun, just to help get me to heaven. We feed the crew breakfast and immediately we are asked when lunch is. My mom is homeschooling my nephew and my oldest daughter so while she schools the big kids, I mix blog and business work with playing with my two younger ones. Lots of coloring and taste testing of play food. Some days they play quietly and are busy little bees and I can zoom through the morning knocking off my to-do-list. Other mornings, I just have to give up until everyone is napping. We do a 10:00 snack that is never forgotten by our little snackers. (we have countdowns. They think about ten o'clock snack at bed time the night before.) We are all about trail mix and gold fish in this house. Nap time is my go-time as far as work. If you are wanting a visual of my style during this exciting day.. yoga pants and messy hair in a bun. Most days I put some make up on...it makes me feel alive and I prefer to not scare anyone who comes to our door. If I'm losing my mind being indoors, we used to go out to a park.....or Target and IKEA.
I can't wait to have more energy to do that with the littles, but we are easing back into that! Once we survive the 50/50 post nap melt downs (you never know) we power through till dinner and bed with playing and working. I kind of want to add in something glamorous and crafty like I style a photo shoot and do some quilting... but these days, we are in survival mode and we all kind of do a cheer when we get to bed time. I usually do some work in the evening and catch up on e-mails. My husband and I love watching netflix and texting each other in emoji language.
2. What inspires you to do all that you do?
I guess I just feel this sense of appreciation for the time that I have here on earth. I lost my best friend through an act of domestic violence.. She was a beautiful daughter mother sister best friend.. and It really engrained in me that we really don't know how long we have here to do the work that God wants us to do. I've always known from when I was a little girl that God had a plan for my life. He inspires me. He's given me souls I'm supposed to reach, I pray for them every night. and It makes me want to be open to be His instrument in every area of my life.... the mom and wife tasks and my blog and business tasks!
3. When you hit resistance, that feeling that you don't want to keep going for whatever reason, what helps you push through?
Oh yes. We all have those moments we want to text our husband a slew of scary emoji faces followed with "can you bring me home a mocha frap before I lose my mind with these kids??" But it's in those moments I try to step back and think about WHY I'm doing what I'm doing. A lot of the time I am VERY guilty of overloading myself. I've learned that there is a thing called prioritizing. And that if you take a step back and make a list... marking down what is urgent or really important, followed by things that you WANT to do or would be NICE to do...it helps you feel more capable and you can make a plan to actually accomplish these things that are making you angry text your husband haha. (lovingly)
4. What do you wish your followers/blog readers most knew about you and your life?
I know I would NOT want them to know that I make microwaved s'mores more than a normal person should. Thank you whoever invented the microwave. and smores. But seriously......... I guess I would want them to know that I love the Lord. I'm married to a man and a mom to three kids and my goal is to get them to heaven. I love to be creative and celebrate motherhood. I love to dream big and hate to do laundry. I have had sufferings in my life, like so many of us, but have held onto the words my mom told me when I was a little girl, "Don't waste a single tear, offer it up for the souls that need it."
5. What is one suggestion you have for women who have an idea, business, dream, or passion that they want to pursue and they're not sure where to start?
Go buy a pretty binder and then find the pens that you hid from your kids.
Start writing ideas!! Don't be afraid to dream big. My mom was always a list maker...so I get that from her. Make a list of tasks that you think you need to do to accomplish the idea, business, dream or passion you want to make happen! If you have a final idea of what you want to accomplish...think about the steps you concretely need to do to make that happen. I don't really work slow....I'm known for having an idea and then buying the domain that night haha. I haven't always chosen to do the projects I dream up, but I've always written them down to get them out of my head! It helps to make some first steps to get the ball rolling and help make things happen! And share your ideas with people who inspire and encourage you.... getting their feedback and their expertise!
As you might know, about once a month we dedicate a day in the shop and "fundraise" for a particular organization, cause, trip, or family. This month we approached Natalie and her family and asked them if we could raise money for them. You may or may not have followed Natalie's most recent health struggles and hospital stay, but you can read more here. Today, every single penny of profits from sales in our shop will go straight to Natalie & her husband to help pay off hospital bills and all the other expenses. You can follow Natalie on her blog, instagram, twitter, and facebook! Head over to Naptime Diaries Shop now, love on the Lesnefsky family and grab some scripture for your home!