A little recap from our vacation! Last month Daniel and I set off to Riviera Maya, Mexico for an entire week. Here's a little recap! If you click each image, you can read a little bit about it!
It's been a while since I got on here - it's weird how fast time moves. How can it be the middle of June already? Crazy town.
I'm going to be super honest - when I try to sit down and write anything regarding how or what I feel, I totally freeze. Brain shut down. Thoughts *poof*. Bye, bye words. See ya never? This has made me feel so paralyzed. I've not created content in so long that the feeling of this frozenness is turning into a feeling of helplessness. For a while I didn't mind - to think about anything more than what was in front of me was such a weight in itself. So I coasted my thoughts and honestly, continue to do so quite often. However, I'm seven months into this and I'm beginning to realize that maybe I am coming to this place in my life in which something is stirring inside of me? Stuff happens to your entire person when tragedy happens. For me - it was wanting to make my mom proud. She always encouraged me to sing, to make YouTube videos (hell, she and my dad told me to put myself on there when I was in high school and I never listened!), make clothes, pursue acting, design jewelry – literally you name it, my mom encouraged me to do it. But when I let my mind flourish and think “I can do this! I can create! Mom would be so proud!” I have this faint little reminder that if I took myself back to reality, I could easily be found sobbing on the couch at the drop of a hat. P.S. I'm not a completely unstable human being, lol, so don't totally freak out! Just being v honest. I like honesty and I hope you are kewl with this.
Anyway - seeing as I've felt especially paralyzed at the keyboard, but have felt a stirring to share or scream or sing or do something - anything, I decided to just share something simple that caught my attention today. It was an instagram graphic shared by Bethel music - which is a worship band in California - and it stopped me in my tracks.
If you know me, you know I have been singing my entire life - in fact, it makes up so much of who I am, I would say it qualifies as one of the first descriptions of me. Daughter, sister, wife, friend, singer, etc. Not because ~woah look at me I sing~ (I know PLENTY of extremely talented and passionate singers and muscians that I would tout in a hot second) but more so it's just a thing that is engrained in my being. I remember when I was in pre-k 4 (or maybe kindergarten?) and all of us Broun kids went to a Christisan school where my mother taught... the church attached to the school was having a drama special (or something) and they needed a little kid's voice recording of "Jesus Loves Me". My mom believed I was a little singer so she volunteered me for the role. I remember singing in the library with the old orange speckled carpet as they recorded it on an old cassette player and I remember sitting in the church balcony the moment my voice came on the speakers. From that moment on (or my mom would most definitely say from the moment I found my voice) I was singing any time I could.
I fell away from all forms of song for several years while I was trying to figure out who I was. You could say I was a little bitter in college - I didn't have the best experience and I was trying to be a rebel (OR SOMETHING??? still not sure what my problem was). Once I began singing again a little over three years ago, I remembered an intricate part of who I am. It was one of those like “ah-ha” moments that feels so, soooooo right.
Fast forward to now: since February, I've sang (aside from around the house, in my car, etc.) approximately once a month at our church (that’s the way they run things there so no one is expected to serve all month, all year long... and I think that was v cool of them) and I've felt God move in me each time. Like never before. NEVER. Yes, I have always been engaged in worship at some level - but never like this. This was fa sho the holy spirit moving through me. FA SHO. And it has brought me to tears each time. To sing the words “You are good to me” after such great sorrow?How is that even possible? What am I even saying?? You took something that was most, most precious to me and here I praise You??? That shouldn’t add up. But He is good. He is faithful. He does love me. He holds me in my grief. He holds me in my daily struggles that separate me from Him. He loves me. Jesus loves me.
Yes – I did go off on a tangent there for a minute but I’ll finish my blog post now. Lol.
If it isn’t evident from my words on this page that I feel something stirring and I feel like I am on the tip of unexplainable, then I am telling you now. Yes, I hurt. Yes, I am broken. Yes, I grieve. Yes, I miss her more than I could ever express in my entire lifetime. No, I don’t know what tomorrow faces. It could be complete brokenness followed be a puddle of tears and a scratchy voice from sobbing… but I have this insanely real hold on me from God. He has brought me joy. Amidst the sorrow and pain and hate and anger and disgust, He has managed to bring me joy. Is it fleeting? Probably. I believe in seasons of life so yes, I believe I will read back on this post one day and be like “HAHA. You were in denial.” But right now, I feel peace and comfort and joy.
With all of that – I want to leave you with the Instagram post that made me want to jump on top of a table and yell “YES!”
Life is really, really hard sometimes. If only I could share with you the struggles I have and continue to face in my daily and hourly life. It’s not easy, it’s not simple, it’s not “creating your own happiness” like I used to believe. It’s resting in the comfort that Jesus loves you, He ONLY wants to be your friend and He loves you more than anything you could imagine. If He created the stars and the moon and the sun and the trees and the birds to solely glorify Him all the days of their life, why not us? That’s where I am right now. Yes, I am for sure doing a shitty job (I do cuss a little people, I’m a human) but knowing He is there brings me peace.
Grief is uncomfortable. It hurts like hell, more than you imagine, but it is unbelievably uncomfortable. You wake up, feel heavy, slap on a smile and fake it until you're alone and have a moment to cry. Everything reminds you of the person who is no longer there. Your toothpaste. A commercial. Your neck or hands. Food. The ice machine on the fridge. Your own eyes.
I struggled with whether or not to post this. I didn't want to believe it. I still don't want to believe it. Life right now is a constant thought process while trying to find things to distract myself.
Days before Christmas, I lost my mom.
I want to curse these words out of my existence but it's true.
My mother.. My mom. My momma. The person who made me who I am. The person I expected to hold my babies. The one I wanted to call when I felt broken. The one who encouraged me. The one who never judged me. The person who was so fragile and still somehow so strong. The person I prayed for multiple times a day that my God would protect and keep. The one who smelled and felt like home. The one who taught me love. The one who taught me acceptance. The one who showed me what the grace of God entailed. The one who never wavered despite her circumstances. The woman who raised me.
My mom. Melissa Leigh.
How can time keep moving when you're not here? I'd give anything and do everything to feel your hug right now and hear you say "I love you, my Sissa Leigh". I miss you so much it hurts, Momma.
Oh God, I am completely broken but still - I cling to You. "And if not, He is still good" Daniel 3:18
One of my mom’s frequently quoted verses my little sister, Elizabeth, recalled.
I don’t know what to do with myself right now. I don't know who I am without her.
This morning at church, my pastor spoke of discovering your identity in who God created you to be. That's hard for me to comprehend without my mom because she defined so much of who I am. However, I was so grateful to hear these words. This is what my mom would want. This is what my mom instilled in me as she raised me.
I’m not sure what my future holds... but I do want to share with you a devotional that Daniel read with me a few weeks ago from a book my mom gave me called Jesus Calling. I pray it helps you wherever you are - grief stricken, wandering, broken or confused.
“Softly I announce My Presence. Shimmering hues of radiance tap gently at your consciousness, seeking entrance. Though I have all Power in heaven and on earth, I am infinitely tender with you. The weaker you are, the more gently I approach you. Let your weakness be a door to My presence. Whenever you feel inadequate, remember that I am your ever-present Help.
Hope in Me, and you will be protected from depression and self-pity. Hope is like a golden cord connecting you to heaven. The more you cling to this cord, the more I hear the weight of your burdens; thus, you are enlightened. Heaviness is not of My kingdom. Cling to hope, and My rays of Light will reach you through the darkness.” - Jesus Calling by Sarah Young
"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble."
"Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer."
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope."
My prayer and my hope is to be just like her. I know that means to be like Jesus because she was the purest form of Him I have ever encountered.
I miss you, mom.
We finally have our tree! Well, we've had it for over a week now but I'm still so excited. We usually like to snag our tree the weekend after Thanksgiving and get the house all festive but this year we were a bit busy. Ever since we got married, Daniel and I have made little videos of us decorating together - it's like a little tradition! The first one is crazy to watch because we were newly weds in our first apartment. Seriously such babies! You can watch them here, here and here. Today I wanted to share our new vlog with you! I actually posted two new vlogmas videos over the weekend but this particular video makes me SO HAPPY. When I showed Daniel he said “this kinda looks like a home video” and I was like... “yes, it does!”. I love that idea. When we were really little my dad would whip out the ginormous 90’s camera and just film our family. They are still so much fun to watch together and see what life was like at a time I have little to no memory of. Daniel and I don’t have kids yet (except Marble, duh) but this concept makes me smile. I love watching our lives together unfold and videos like this will always hold my heart.
We had such fun Sunday on this day. It started off at our second favorite taco spot in Dallas, Taco Joint -shout out to Revolver Taco for being our first favorite!- and then shopped for our Christmas tree. After three Christmas's together we finally upgraded from our usual 3 footer tree to a 5 footer! Yas! We snagged our tree from Home Depot because their 5 foot Christmas trees were only $20. One day I'd like to only purchase from small businesses and support local when it comes to greens + plants but when you only have a couple weeks to enjoy your Christmas tree and you're money is spoken for, I think a $20 Home Depot tree is just fine *winky face*. We popped our cutie of a tree right by our big living room window and dressed him up with our trusty icicle lights - haha! We have used these icicle lights every year since being married because why buy actual Christmas tree lights when you have something that works just fine? We finished off the tree with ornaments that were given to us by my older sister along with a few smaller Dollar Tree ornaments I've had for years. And can you spot my super cute, boho DIY around the tree?? So obsessed! I love the way our tree turned out! You can see the final look of our tree here, in the vlogmas video or in the very first picture above. It's simple but it's perfect!
Before we got home with our new tree, we popped into the pet store to get more treats for Marble and I saw the teeniest little santa hat and.... I HAD TO GET IT. GUYS. It's a little dream come true of pure puppy cuteness. Feast your eyes. You're welcome. You can watch the video to see her being totally not into it but being SO DANG ADORABLE trotting around with her baby santa hat. Best $5 I have ever spent, tbh. Anyone else with me when it comes to dressing up your fur babies in cute and ridiculous things?? I'm confident this was 100% a great choice.
We left the rest of the house pretty much the same! Our stockings were too long to hang on our tv stand and I just didn't know where else to put them! They used to hang on our fireplace but alas, we don't have one at this apartment. You can see how cute they looked at our old place here. I swapped out our pumpkins + gourds with my thrift store challenge candle sticks and left the Target dollar section wreath on the kitchen table. The clean and cool Christmas decor around the apartment has felt so nice. I love lighting our Christmas candles and turning on our tree lights while cuddling with Marble on the couch. I hope you guys have been having a lovely season! I feel a little all over the place but I have loved each of my weekends spent at home with Daniel and Marble. I'm for sure looking forward to taking time off to do just that and more.
In today's video I chat about my new favorite Instagram app and show you how to use this cool, and ~very~ free app on your iPhone and computer! I started using this bad boy a little over two weeks ago and I am OBSESSED! It's great for fashion and lifestyle bloggers or anyone who is interested in growing their Instagram game. I personally love it because I am such visual person and it helps me plan my Instagram posts in such a cool way! It's called Planoly. Have you heard of it? It's simple, beautiful and super user friendly. As of now, I use the free account and I think it's just perfect for what I want to accomplish. Soooooo many times I've had to take Daniel's phone, pull up my instagram feed and hold up an image that was displayed on my phone because I wanted to see what it would look like on my instagram. Does that make sense? Ha, maybe not... and it all might sound REAL over the top to some of you but again, I'm a very visual person. With this app, I've loved being able to rearrange posts on my insta feed. I am just now getting the hang of shooting + editing images that I think are just my style but this app makes it 10x easier. If none of this is interesting to you, I totally get it - but couldn't help but share it with you guys since it has been such a game changer for me!
Let me know if you download it and try it out! Again, it's free unless you have more than one account or want to unlock more features. P.S. this is totally unsponsored, haha. I'm just such a fan and wanted to share it with you!
The rest of this video is my casual Saturday at home. I ran a few errands, snagged a few thrift store goodies (YES, sweater weather!) and worked on my blog and YouTube. When Daniel got home from work we gussied up and went on a date night with our friends Austin and Ashley. If you live in DFW area, you HAVE to (I MEAN THIS IS A MUST, PEOPLE) go to Wabi House and try the spicy miso ramen. I've literally never tasted a ramen so delicious and just trust me, go, eat your heart out, enjoy the hug in a bowl and have the best ramen in your life.
I hope you enjoy this vlogmas series! You can subscribe to my YouTube channel and hit the bell notification so you get my videos straight to your email. That's how I keep up with my favorite YouTubers like Nikki Phillippi, The Phillippis, Alli Cherry, Kitty Cotten and more! Let me know if you like these casual videos! I love getting to chat with you guys so tell me what you think.
I'm Alyssa, thanks for stopping by! A few things: I enjoy laughing, making youtube videos and thrift shopping. Currently listening to "Everything Now" by Arcade Fire. I like my coffee black and my preferred method of maxin' & relaxin' is with my husband and pup.