Grace Is the Best Birthday Gift of All

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” – 2 Corinthians 6:9

When I came across this passage, I knew that I wanted to set my heart on these words for the month of October. Grace is a concept that I’ve always been aware of but never really knew how to set it in motion.

Does it always work?

Is grace just something that God gives to me?

Can I give grace to others? How?

Earlier this year, I read Emily Ley’s book “Grace Not Perfection” and it really helped me understand the idea of grace as something that I could (and needed to) extend to myself. I’ve talked about my life as a recovering perfectionist before. I looked to perfection to control everything. And, as life brought challenging circumstances and painful emotions my way, I tried to lean even more into perfectionism as the solution.

You know what happened?

I felt these deep feelings of shame, embarrassment and disappointment because I just could not keep it all together.

Only within the past six months have I started to release those feelings. I’ve learned how to truly give grace. First to myself and then to others. My journey to freedom started the day that I decided to extend grace to myself. 

I realized that because I couldn’t do that for me, I couldn’t do it for others. Not only was a judging others harshly for disappointing or hurting me, but I was doing the same thing to myself.

There was a passage in Emily’s book that has never left my memory or my heart.

Choose gratitude and grace every morning. Grace and gratitude go hand in hand.

I come into my 34th birthday in an extremely grateful place. This place could only be made possible by God’s grace. To say that I am looking forward to this next year of life would be an understatement. I am expectant. I am excited. I am enough.

I know that it’s my birthday but here is my wish for you.

Make room for grace.

It is truly the gift that keeps on giving… No birthdays needed.

Taraji is the Queen of MAC Viva Glam

It should be no secret that I have a high regard for companies and products that actively contribute to social causes and organizations. As such, I will always be a huge MAC fan because of their leadership with the MAC AIDS Fund and the Viva Glam lipstick. When you purchase a lip product in the collection, 100% of the proceeds go to the MAC AIDS Fund.

It’s hard to not stand behind that, right?! I mean, even the leadership behind the Fund is fabulous.

When I heard that my play cousin, Taraji P. Henson, was the newest Viva Glam ambassador, I was all in. When I saw the bomb fuchsia color that she was representing, I was beyond all in.

Taraji MAC Viva Glam 

I grabbed this color earlier in the summer and it is a fave of mine. I’m not bold enough to wear it to the office but it is my go-to shade for brunch and church on the weekends. I was still honeymooning with Viva Glam Taraji P. Henson when word hit that her second shade in the collection was released.

More #BlackGirlMagic? Yes, please.

Instead of a playful pink, Taraji kept it foxy for fall with a frosted copper brown lipstick and gold shimmery Lip Glass.

Taraji MAC Viva Glam 2

A few weekends ago, I attended the Black AIDS Institute’s Heroes in the Struggle Awards, an event in which Taraji was one of the recipients. In prep for the evening, I hit the MAC counter and asked for a look that centered around her latest lineup. However, I was concerned that the super deep combo of the lip stick and the lip glass might overpower my look. My outfit centered around my red, sparkly heels so I didn’t want too much competition otherwise.

My makeup artist opted to layer the Lip Glass over their Chestnut lip liner. A fab call, by the way. See Uber pic below.

Taraji Viva Glam 2

Between the beautiful fuschia colors in the first collection and the gorgeous brown/gold tones in the second, these shades are perfect for me. In fact, I own three tubes of Viva Glam Taraji P. Henson. I only bought two of them though so don’t judge me. I’m just really glad to have a pinkish shade that works well for me, unlike a couple of the other Viva Glam lippies.

MAC Viva Glam Taraji P. Henson

Have you tried any of these products? If so, what did you think?

My August Powersheets Goals

August Powersheets Goals 2017

How is it already August?! Knowing that this is the last month of summer makes me sad because I can’t believe how fast it flew by. More importantly, I feel like there are so many things that I didn’t do yet this summer.

Last month, I didn’t get around to going through my Powersheets like in previous months but I did set a couple of high level goals for myself that I did accomplish. They included:

  • Getting to the gym at work ten times – This is a new record for me AND it means that my next month’s fee will be 50% off.
  • Picking out new living room furniture – FINALLY! We found a sectional and chairs that we love.
  • Having a successful Galvanize Chicago event – I never did an official recap on the blog, but I posted quite a few pics on Instagram from the weekend. Nearly 1,000 women packed McCormick Place for a weekend about leading and advocating for change in policy and within our communities. It was AWESOME.

KB with Valerie Jarrett at Galvanize Chicago

With Valerie Jarrett and Commissioner Kari Steele (right) at Galvanize Reception

While I am proud of those accomplishments, I know that I could have checked off a couple more things. This month, my focus is maximizing my output without the burnout. This concept doesn’t just include work-related tasks but also relational ones as well. I’m challenging myself to have meaningful conversations, put my efforts behind things that truly matter, and throw my heart into my home and marriage.

August Powersheets Goals 2017

Here is my tending list for the month.

Monthly

  • No sugar – I’m not doing a complete Whole 30 this month, but I do want to drastically reduce my sugar intake.
  • Social media-free weekends (2x) 
  • Date night with Chris – We didn’t have one in July but hoping that we can get one on the books soon.
  • Organize a diaper drive – More on this soon!
  • Update living room with new furniture
  • Ten visits (or more) to the gym at work – As mentioned above, this goal has dual benefits – physical AND financial.
  • Plan Cupcakes and Chicago for Red Pump

Weekly

  • Post 2-3 times – I am in a creative season so I want to bring some of that energy to my blogging.
  • Meal plan – This is another goal that has multiple benefits. I’ve done this successfully for the past two weeks and don’t plan on losing momentum.
  • $25 eating out budget during the workweek – While I plan to make my own meals during the week, I also know that things happen. This is my CYA fund, in case I forget my lunch or decide to grab Starbucks in the morning.
  • Call a friend 
  • Write in my gratitude journal
  • Have our family meeting

Daily

  • Drink 80 oz of water
  • Spend 15 minutes with a devotional and talking to God
  • Walk at least 7,500 steps
  • Complete my daily cleaning task – I’ve created a small list of tasks that I can do for 30 minutes in the morning and in the evening to help me manage the housework at home. This goal is about keeping my sanity while also creating a beautiful space for my family.

August Powersheets Goals 2017

To keep me on track, I am planning to do #TendingListTuesday, which is something that I heard about in the Powersheets Facebook group. By checking my list every Tuesday, I am making sure that I am staying focused on my goals and making adjustments as needed.

What are your main goals for this month? Whatever they are, I am praying that you have the mindset and stamina to take them on full steam. Let’s do this!

Prioritizing Self-Care in the Summer

Summer Sunglasses at the Beach

With summer brings endless invitations to cookouts, festivals, weddings, happy hours, and more. That’s not to mention your own personal plans to take the kids on field trips, complete projects around the house, and whatever other plans are on your agenda. Even though summer is the perfect time to slow down, it can be so hard to actually do that because who wants to waste a beautiful sunny day?

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How to Build Your Tribe of Creative Women Who Do Good

Yellow Collective Empowerment Box
Photo: Yellow

Last year, a friend introduced me to the Yellow Conference, an event for creative women who want to do good. Both inspired and intrigued, I logged on to their site and the rest has been history. I haven’t been able to make it to the conference yet but I get to enjoy the next best thing: membership with the Yellow Collective community.

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Donating Baby Clothes in Chicago

Motherhood has taught me many lessons. Among them is the fact that kids will outgrow clothes in the blink of an eye. I count it a true blessing that Caleb has more clothes than he needs and doesn’t want for a thing (besides this shirt). When he can no longer wear something, I decide if I want to save it or donate it.

When I have adult clothes to give away, I usually take them to the Goodwill. However, I feel differently about baby clothes. If a mom needs baby items, I want to make sure that she can find them for free.

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My June Powersheets Goals

Welcome to June aka summer time! Well, at least if you are in Chicago. Last month, I didn’t set any official goals in my Powersheets, but I did commit to some things so May wasn’t a total wash. That being said, I set some intentional goals for June related to parenting, fitness, faith and relationships. While May ended on an incredible note, the middle weeks were a little all over the place. Without having a clear sense of what I needed to accomplish, I was flying by the seat of my pants as far as what I was and wasn’t doing. That is not what intentional living looks like!

 

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Finding Peace and Sun in Biloxi

Last week, our family left rainy Chicago in search of sunnier skies on the Gulf Coast. My oldest stepson graduated from high school down there so our trip was the perfect excuse to celebrate his accomplishments, catch up with my husband’s family, and honestly just whoosah.

Leading up to the trip, I was burnt out to the max from work and some other tasks on my plate. I have been saying “Yes” to too many things, people, and projects. And, it finally took a toll on me. Honestly, I’m still in “generosity recovery,” but that’s another post for another day.

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