Saturday, August 24, 2013

Stepping Out

I know we all come across quotes, sayings, scriptures, etc. that inspire us daily.  Well, for me this picture spoke to me because it IS me!!!  In April I decided to take a leap of faith and join Rodan and Fields.  I was afraid and I did it anyway.  Now a few months in, I can tell you that it does feel SO good!  It feels good to step out of my comfort zone and try something new. 
My whole life I knew that I wanted to work with kids and be a teacher.  That's my comfort zone.  I know how to do it and I LOVE it.  Never in a million years would I have guessed that I would be owning my own business and working in the network marketing/direct sales industry.  It's so surprising to me how much I love it!  I love owning my own business but having the support from my team and other consultants that I have met on different teams, I love how the products have improved my skin, and I love building my own team and sharing these products with customers who tell me how much it's helping improve their skin!  I love helping people and this company's motto is "Changing skin, Changing lives"  It's doing that for me.
I am so excited about this job and the sad part is I hide a lot of my excitement at times because I'm worried that if I talk about my job that people will assume I'm trying to get them to join my team or buy products from me.  So I'm admitting that right now and I'm letting this fear GO!  I would hope that my friends and family know me well enough to know that I am not the type to pressure anyone to do anything because quite frankly if the roles were reversed I wouldn't appreciate that being done to me.  I am PUMPED up about this job and I truly believe in this company!  I cannot tell you how many friends and family have supported me in this new journey.  I have saved every text, e-mail, note, etc. that people have written me about this new business venture.  Many of these people DO NOT buy products from me!  Support comes in many forms and I can think of several people off the top of my head that have asked me how my business is going when we've been catching up on the phone.  To everyone who has reached out to show their support THANK YOU.  I need it!  I need to hear that you believe in me because sometimes I get down and doubt myself.  I was so terrified when I joined this business that I paced our living room floor and called corporate to find out how to send my kit back if I decided this wasn't for me.  I couldn't believe I had stepped so far outside of my comfort zone.  I asked God, why in the world am I selling skincare!?!?  I had been praying for months about this and Ben and I knew it was the right fit for me but when I finally took that leap of faith and joined I was TERRIFIED and I wanted to revert back to what I knew.  I'm a school teacher!  I'm NOT a sales girl!!!  Well guess what!?  Come to find out, I'm not a typical sales girl and that's actually helping me be successful in this business because people know me, they know my character and they know that I'm genuine.  It is so liberating to have faith and trust in God's plan when you don't know how it's going to turn out.   
So why am I blogging about this?  Lately God has really been pressing on my heart to share that I stepped out of my comfort zone, share that I trusted in His plan for me, share that I was terrified and I did it anyway.  We all have moments in our lives where we have to make a decision.  Are we going to take that leap?  Whether it's a relationship, a new job, a major lifestyle change, etc. the point is that we have to take that jump not knowing how everything will turn out.  I'm a type A, plan everything kind of person. I like everything to be laid out and to fit in my pretty little boxes.  I know life doesn't work like that and how boring if it did but it doesn't make stepping out of your comfort zone any easier.
Support from people we love changes everything.  We need others to lift us up when we doubt ourselves.  Ben tells me every day that he believes in me. I am blessed to have a husband who supports me in everything I do!  I am blessed to be able to contribute to Callie Anne's medical fund and support my best friend through this business.  I am blessed to be able to help our family financially.  I am blessed to have many new friendships that I have made through this company.  The list of blessings goes on and on and to think that I almost missed this opportunity out of fear of the unknown.  What a life lesson to remember and apply to every area of my life!  
I'm learning and growing and it feels good.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The journey for contentment

Tonight I was driving to dinner to meet up with the girls in our community group and was thinking about how blessed I am that God has put these women in my life.  They organized a dinner for us to get together and celebrate Parker Grace's upcoming arrival.  They made me feel so special and I am blessed to get to share life with these women! Our group consists of 7 couples and we started meeting early in 2012 and are really growing closer with each meeting.  It's amazing how much I learn and grow from these relationships.  Some of the husbands came and helped us move on Saturday which was a HUGE help.  This is what the "church" is all about.  Being in community and fellowship with people and sharing life together...all of the ups and downs as we seek to grow in our relationships with Christ and each other. 

I am thankful that I can be open and honest about things that I'm struggling with because let's face it, we all have our issues and short comings.  I was honest and told the girls that I've really been having struggles with contentment.  I know this will be a struggle for me my entire life but I am determined to work on it and can see that God is showing me areas in my life that MUST change.  For example, He has provided for Ben and I in SO many ways and when we were newly married and living in Austin I was waking up in the middle of the night having anxiety/panic attacks about our financial situation and He really stretched me spiritually and showed me that I had to TRUST Him in all things and all circumstances.  He brought us through and although we are still on an uphill climb, our perspective has completely changed about money, how it's spent, saved, etc. and just about what's important in life in general.  However, I still battle materialism, entitlement (delayed gratification isn't a term I like very much!), and such on a daily basis.  When we were in our rent house, I'd make jokes about bad things about it and how much better things will be when we got in our new house.  We just moved in this past weekend and I already find myself thinking "wow, it's smaller than I thought", "gosh there are so many dated things I need to change like these gold brass light fixtures" and the list goes on and on.  I'm not saying I haven't been excited about this home and that I haven't noticed some of the amazing things about it, including the fabulous paint job that my parents and Ben did as they painted almost every room in the house!  I just recognize that these negative thoughts that are creeping in are robbing me of the joy God wants me to experience.  This is our first home that Ben and I have ever owned, the home we will watch our sweet baby girl grow in, and it's WONDERFUL!  I am so blessed so why do I start saying or thinking negative things about the amazing gifts God has given me?  As one friend said, we are always trying to fill a void in ourselves with (fill in the blank) thinking that it will make us happy and when it doesn't bring true happiness or fulfillment, we pick something else.  It's a never ending cycle and as long as I'm putting my joy and happiness in things I will never feel satisfied or content.  I know in my heart what's important in my relationship with God and others.  No one that I truly care about cares about the size of my house, the kind of car I drive, the type of clothes I wear, etc. but yet society constantly is telling us to have the best of the best of everything and we'll be happy.  It's such a lie and I share this struggle with you openly because I want to be held accountable.  I want to be reminded of what truly matters.  I'm not saying nice things are bad to have because they aren't, it's just when we put our sense of worth or identity in the things we have or don't have, we can never be truly content or at peace. 

My last paycheck comes in July and things will get VERY tight financially as we begin this journey on one income and I know God will continue to stretch my faith and help me grow in the knowledge of what truly matters.  I know this precious daughter will help me be mindful of what my priorities are and help me stay focused when times are tough.  Hopefully I can find a part-time job in a few months but if I can't we will make it work just on one income for the time being.  When I start to think "if I had _______" then I'd be happy or life would be easier, I want to remember that there are people who are happy with a lot less than I have.  I mean, I've been on mission trips to Guatemala and seen people living in mud huts. Seriously, why do I struggle so much?  I feel guilt for that but then I realize, I am human and I have struggles, sin, and so on.  I want the conviction I feel to help change my thoughts and actions because I'm way too blessed to let this negative junk steal my JOY!  We all have our battles.  If you can relate to what I've shared and have any tips that have helped you please share!

When Ben and I made the decision that I would quit teaching for a period of time and I was really nervous about the unknown, a sweet friend reminded me that God will provide for our needs not necessarily all of our wants.  I am so thankful to have people in my life that God uses to help challenge me to be a better person while still loving and accepting me just as I am. 

Thank you to my sweet community group for the delicious cupcakes, gift, and most importantly GREAT conversation and laughter!  Neely, we will have to take another pic with you in it the next time we are all together! :)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

I am weak and He is strong

Wow, what a day...I have been meaning to post for months and vow to do a better job of posting more than a couple of times a year! Today started as such an EXCITING day! I woke up and couldn't wait for the afternoon to come. Being pregnant, I look forward to the doctor's appointments every four weeks and today was our second appointment. As time has passed and my chances of miscarriage have dropped significantly, I've grown more and more attached to this precious baby growing inside of me. I've been elated from the beginning but also more cautious as I've watched many friends experience the pain of miscarriages. I have friends who have had miscarriages early in pregnancy as well as very late, in addition to friends that are having many trials conceiving. With all of that being said, I don't take ONE single day of this pregnancy foregranted. My heart breaks for the pain my sweet friends have endured. I know God has a plan for each of them and their families and I can't imagine what they have experienced. Their strength and faith in the midst of these trials is truly inspirational and I admire them more than words can express.

With all of that being said, I feel blessed beyond measure that I am still carrying this baby and am 13 weeks along. I thank God that we were able to get pregnant so quickly. With a variety of health factors that I won't go in to, to say that it's a miracle we got pregnant so quickly is an understatement. God continually reminds me that He is in control and I am not. My friend, Meagan is having a baby boy in April and she told me a great idea that she and her husband had done! They got a recorder from Build A Beart so they could record their baby's heartbeat. Once they found out a few weeks later what the sex was, they dressed the bear as a boy and have the heartbeat inside the bear. I thought that was a precious idea and what a wonderful keepsake for my baby boy or girl to have as their first stuffed animal! I went to the mall to get the recorder yesterday so we could record the baby's heartbeat at the appointment today. Ben and I were talking into it and being so dorky to make sure it was working properly. Have I mentioned yet that we were SO EXCITED!?! :) My doctor came in and she moved the doplar (spelling?) around to find the heartbeat. I've heard from many people that it takes a little while sometimes for the doctor to find the heartbeat and to not be alarmed. At first, I was completely fine but as time passed and there was still no heartbeat I became very concerned. She continually moved it around searching for the heartbeat and there was no sound. I started crying but couldn't really speak because I was so overwhelmed. I started thinking, "it's happening...what my sweet friends have experienced, I've lost this baby, it's heart isn't beating" and countless other thoughts. Ben had his hand on me and he wasn't talking much either because we were both so worried. My doctor is AMAZING and is so calm and her demeanor always relaxes me. She is a true blessing from God for me because anyone that knows me, knows I'm anything BUT calm so to have someone like her as my doctor is perfect. She was very calm and said "let's go take a look in the sonogram room. I'm sure everything is fine." I continued to cry the entire time and didn't say much because I couldn't stop thinking that I was about to see my baby on the screen with no heartbeat. I was praying to God for this baby to be healthy and for everything to be okay. I felt completely helpless and remember thinking...I have NO control. God, you are knitting this baby in my womb. It is your will whatever happens and YOU are in control. We were looking at the screen but I really couldn't tell what anything was until she started pointing out different parts. She zoomed in on the heart and I saw the most BEAUTIFUL sight. Our sweet baby's heart was beating so fast and strong. We could see the chambers and everything looked great! PRAISE GOD! She showed us different body parts and it was amazing how much the baby had grown in the past four weeks. We saw the head, spine (we could even see the vertebrae!), feet, etc. and the relief we felt was indescribable. She said the baby is growing great and everything looks good and there is no cause for alarm. She said although it's typically common for women to hear the heartbeat at around 12 or 13 weeks, sometimes the baby is a little too small still to hear it or is in a position where we couldn't get to it to hear it, etc. Bottom line, she's not concerned at all and everything looks great. Although it was very scary to not hear the heartbeat, it was a special thing to get to see a sonogram again because typically at this appointment you don't. We'll just take our little recorder back to the next appointment in four weeks! :)

My point in sharing all of this is because I want to remember this day. I want to remember the helplessness I felt, to remind myself that I am weak and God, the creator of the universe, is strong. He is in control of every aspect of our lives although sometimes I'm too fixated on my agenda and my plans to recognize it. All I can do is surrender control and trust in His plan for my family and pray that this precious blessing from Him continues to grow and develop. I told my mom that I'm sure this is one of the MANY moments I'll feel as a mom when I'm completely helpless and have no control over what is happening to my child. She said it will be like that from now on and I am beginning to understand what a mother's love is all about. It's all consuming, it's the most powerful bond I've ever felt and like I told my doctor after we saw the sonogram, this baby is my everything. He/she is God's child and Ben and I are blessed to be this baby's parents to love and care for him/her to the best of our ability with God's help and guidance. We can't do it alone. We are not in control and my oh my, I was definitely reminded of that today!

From the devotional Jesus Calling....TRUST Me by reliquishing control into My hands. Let go, and recognize that I am God. This is my world: I made it and I control it.
Psalm 46:10 "Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."

Please continue to pray for our growing family and the health of Baby Brantmeier.
Psalm 139:13-14 "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."

I am thankful to share this journey with you all!


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

One Less

There are no words to really quantify what I'm experiencing at the moment. One of my closest friends, Marni, sent me a youtube link of a family who just recently adopted a baby girl from China. It's Marni's godmother's grand daughter (catch all of that?! :) and I watched the video three times and still can't stop crying. I'm sure I'll watch it countless more. I had to share it because it moved me in a way that I don't think any video on youtube has. I've always had a strong desire to adopt if that was something that God willed for my life and luckily I have married someone who is having those discussions with me. We know it'll take a lot for that to happen and that the process can take a long time and be very expensive but it's definitely something we aren't ruling out for the future if God desires to bless us in this way.

As many people know, my dad isn't my birth father and legally adopted me when I was four. I've known him since I was two and he's my daddy in every sense of the word. I learned from a young age that physically conceiving a child has NOTHING to do with being a parent. I think that's where a lot of my interest has come from about adoption because he chose to be my dad. He chose to love and care for me as his own and I used to ask him if he ever wished he had had his own kids and his response was always to the effect of..."I did, you are my daughter." I have never felt like anything other than his. I know my story is very different than typical adoption stories and I'm 1/2 adopted if you will :) but the point is that I feel like there's a reason my story has unfolded this way and there's a reason why I have such a strong desire to hopefully adopt someday, regardless of whether Ben and I are able to have biological children or not. Ben had never thought about adoption until he met me but after we started talking about it more he realized he was very open to the idea. Last year Ben and I volunteered with our church on a Sunday where the congreation went to places in Austin to serve, we didn't meet for regular church, we became the church in the city and it was incredible. We were with a couple of kids all day at a carnival and playing with them was so much fun but the pain I experienced when one little girl started calling me momma was so intense. I talked to her foster parent and she had been moved around so much and in out and of different foster families that she had begun getting confused with who her mother was so she'd call whatever woman was spending time with her "momma". My heart broke. She didn't know who to call "momma". I wanted to take her home right then and there. I know things aren't that simple but I just hate the thought of the countless children all over this country and world that are not loved. They are children of God and deserve to be loved, they deserve families who want to care for and raise them. Every child deserves to be loved simply for the fact that they are God's creation.

When I was living in Dallas, I went to Guatemala two times for summer mission trips and became very attached to a baby girl named Vivana. To this day, I still think about and pray for that sweet girl. She had a mom and they lived in a mud hut with hardly any food, clothing, etc. Her mother cared for her as best she could and I could sense how much she loved her baby girl but they had very little of the basic necessities to survive. I was in awe of the poverity that the children that came to our camp experienced in their lives, that they seemed so happy with SO little. I was so heartbroken by how excited they got when dinnertime came because I knew that meant that their tummies were empty countless more times than they were full. I kept thinking, "God if someday I can come back to this country and take one of these kids home to be my child..." I just kept wondering what that might be like but thinking what a long shot that it could ever happen in reality. The last night of the trip we all went to a celebratory dinner where we talked about the week, shared ways that we had seen God at work, etc. and I remember looking over at another table. There was a family who was celebrating what appeared to be an adoption and after I had been sitting for awhile just observing, I was moved to go talk to the mom. I will never forget that conversation. She was from the northeast, MA I think but anyway she had come to Guatemala for mission trips when she was a child and she told me that she began praying in middle school that if it was God's will for her life to adopt a child then He would make it possible. There she was many years later sitting with her husband, her biological daughter who was jumping up and down telling EVERYONE in the restaurant that this was her new baby sister, and her new daughter who they had just finalized the adoption that day. Her dream and prayers from when she was in middle school had been answered. She was going to take her baby girl home from Guatemala and the four of them were going to be a family.

So at this point, you are problem wondering why I'm rambling on about all of this. I'm asking for you to pray. I'm asking for you to pray for Ben and I and for God's will in our lives regarding children, both biological and adopted. I want His will for our marriage and family. It is no secret that the deepest desire of my heart is to be a mother, whether that's having biological children, adopting children, having both, etc. I don't know. I don't know what God's plans are but I do know I want Ben and I in the center of His will for our lives. So many times I go to my selfish desires and wondering when God will bless us with a child. The list of questions I ask (without trusting in faith) goes on and on... I am quickly reminded that it is not MY time but HIS time if and when HE chooses to bless us with children. I want to find a way to become more involved with adoption agencies, volunteering with foster children, etc. because I can sense God is calling me to serve in this area and it's definitely more than once a year at a church event. Please pray for discernment as I seek His direction in what that looks like and what He wants me to do. I'm so excited to see what God's plans are for the Brantmeier family! :)

In the meantime, please watch this video
and thank you Marni for sharing it with me. It touched my soul.


Saturday, May 7, 2011

Comes the Dawn

It's Mother's Day weekend and I'm enjoying looking at all of the pictures on Facebook of friends with their moms, grandmothers, etc. I'm sad that I'm not home in Arkansas with my mom but I'll be able to see her next weekend when I go home for Shelly's wedding. It's exciting to think I will be able to see her ALL of the time when I move! I can't even imagine what it will feel like to only be 2 1/2 hours away from my parents. I've not lived in AR since I left for college in 1998 and I'm looking forward to starting my life there with Ben and God willing, raising a family. There's really no way to express or quantify in words what my mom means to me so I'm not going to try. However, I'd like to share a poem that I read often and it really encourages me and reminds me of ALL of the women I'm blessed to have in my life. My mom is the strongest person I know and I'm so blessed that God chose me to be her daughter.


After a while you learn the subtle difference

Between holding a hand and chaining a soul

And you learn that love doesn't mean security,

And you begin to learn that kisses aren't contracts

And presents aren't promises,

And you begin to accept your defeats

With your head up and your eyes open

With the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child

And you learn to build all of your roads on today

Because tomorrow's ground is too uncertain for plans.

And futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.

After a while you learn

That even sunshine burns if you get too much.

So you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul,

Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.

And you learn you really can endure.

That you really are strong.

And you really do have worth.

And you learn and learn...

With every goodbye you learn.

-Author unknown

To my friends who lost their mothers long before they ever thought they would, I pray that wonderful memories with their moms bring comfort on a difficult holiday. I pray for my friends who have lost children. I pray for my friends who desperately desire to be moms but are struggling with infertility. My heart aches for the pain these beautiful women endure. I pray for my friends who are pregnant as they prepare to become mothers and for my friends who are moms and are experiencing the joys and trials of raising children.

I am so thankful for all of the women in my life. I praise God for blessing and enriching my life through these relationships! They show me examples of the kind of mother I pray and long to become someday. My sweet Memaw continually shows me the kind of woman I want to be and she has been in Heaven for several years. Her legacy of love and strength NEVER die. I still hear her saying, "Laura Elizabeth, you be a real sweet girl." Trust me, I feel bad and think of her when I know I'm not being kind or doing the right thing! I'm so thankful to my mom, my Memaw, my sister, friends, mentors, bosses, teammates, the list goes on and on...for loving and accepting me as I am and encouraging me to grow and become a better person.

From a card I love! (it has a bunch of ladies walking together)...

"Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one." Jane Howard (1935-1996)

Happy Mother's Day to my mom and all of the "moms" I love!!!


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Accept the challenge of something new...

Wow! I can't believe it but I've entered the world of blogging! I've enjoyed reading friends' blogs and keeping up with their lives, children, etc. and always thought I'd start a blog when I had kids someday. However, I realized that I can start writing now and share the journey that Ben and I are on. It's truly amazing all that God has and continues to do in our lives! We met in Dallas, a few months later he accepted a position in Austin, and we moved here. We were married in Heber Springs, AR in November of 2009. We have loved living in Austin and meeting so many incredible friends through church, work, etc.! After two years, God has called us closer to family and He opened the door for Ben's new job in Little Rock. We are so excited for this new adventure in Arkansas but it's sad to leave the city where we began our married life. We have friends spread out over many states so my hope is that this blog will be a place where we can share stories, experiences, and the ups and downs that life brings!

I named the blog "Oh, The Places We'll Go!" because I LOVE Dr. Seuss. How could I not being a teacher!?!? The book Oh, The Places You'll Go is one of my favorites. Along with Are you My Mother? which I gave to one of my dearest friends at her baby shower today. :) I can't find the underline link so that's why I bolded the titles (forgive me I'm new at this).

  • Some of my favorite quotes from Dr. Seuss include: "Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind."

  • "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened."

  • "Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You."

  • "We are all a little weird and life's a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love."

  • "You'll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You'll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go. So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that...Life's a Great Balancing Act."

Please follow my blog out of pity or such, I'll try not to bore you...well at least not too much! Laura