9 more days!

Only nine more days until the end of September. And you know what that means? The '7' food challenge/ fast will be done. It's crazy to think that this month is almost over. When I started it I felt like this was going to be the longest month ever. But surprisingly it has gone by kind of quick. 

I have some confessions to make.

I may have cheated a little bit. Ok, not may have. I have.

The nights are the hardest. I've done great eating only '7' approved foods at breakfast, lunch, and dinner but after dinner and after Cooper's in bed and it's 10pm, I'm hungry again. And at 10pm you don't feel like cooking a sweet potato or some chicken. And I probably already had two apples that day and three pieces of bread and I don't feel like eating either of those again. So I busted out the box of cereal just to make my stomach stop growling at me.

Excuses, excuses I know. Just trying to be real with you all. I haven't done this perfectly.

I've noticed how often I don't do something because I simply 'don't feel like it'. Feelings are not bad but they are also not always very reliable. Kids in third world countries don't have the option to eat what they "feel" like eating. They eat what's available or they don't eat at all. The fact is, I'm spoiled. Just sayin'.

To give myself some credit, I'm still doing it and I am determined to finish strong.

There are a few things that I have really missed eating this month. Pita chips and hummus, cookies, oatmeal w/raisins, and cheese. And lately I've really wanted to eat a donut. I'm not normally a donut eater considering they instantly raise your cholesterol by 100 points but I really want one. I think it's all the pictures of 'apple cider donuts' being re-pinned on Pinterest that's getting to me. Mmmm.

So nine more days. I can make it. And you better believe there will be a celebration on October 1st!

'Live With Less' t-shirt pre-order!

The Live With Less shirts are officially available for pre-order TODAY! 

Click the HERE to order yours on ETSY. 
If you don't have an ETSY account click HERE for another order option. 

It will be in your mail box in about two weeks if you live in the US. International shipping will take a little longer.

*If you live in the Chicagoland area you can just purchase one from me in person and save on the shipping. 

Live With Less // A New Venture

Hey friends.

There's something I've been dying to share with you all. But it just hasn't been time. At least until now.

Back in July, while I was on a solo road trip from Des Moines, IA to Olathe, KS to see Jen Hatmaker speak, I believe God put an idea in my head. After reading a couple of Jen's books I felt the need to 'do something'. Something to make a difference. It's not abnormal for me to get ideas like this but usually I never execute them because I'm afraid. Afraid that they will fail. But this time I'm not letting fear control me.

Here's my dream that is about to become reality. It's a small dream but hopeful something that will make a difference even if just for a few.

I'm launching an initiative called Live With Less.

LWL exists to inspire others to live with less, give more, and make a difference. 

How you chose to 'live with less' is up to you. I'm on my own journey towards living with less and I know that it will look much different from the people around me but none the less, the goal is to have less so that I can give more. More time. More money. More space. More of my heart.

How will this all flesh out? Through a t-shirt. Kind of.

I asked a friend to design a t-shirt for me that will be sold for $20. A portion of the profit will go towards providing clean drinking water for people around the world.
On our planet 884 million people lack access to clean drinking water and and 3.575 million people die each year from a water related disease. These are statistics I have a hard time wrapping my head around. Mostly because I enjoy an endless amount of water each day and I can't picture what life would look like without it. Can you?

Compassion International provides safe water systems (which they call Water of Life) to families, which provides them with clean, safe drinking water for an entire lifetime. A LIFETIME.

And they only cost $55. For you and I that's equivalent to a pair of shoes or a date night out with your spouse.

So the goal is simple. 

Buy a t-shirt. Help provide clean drinking water and change a life forever. 

The t-shirts will be on sale in about a week but I wanted to give you all a heads up on what was coming. 

Thanks for reading friends! I hope you're as excited about this new venture as I am! 

A website and Etsy store to come soon! 

Our family is growing

The Laib family is growing. And no, not in my belly. Or from the foster care system although we hope to add some children to our family that way, one day. This weekend our friend Niki moved in. Justin and I met Niki about six weeks ago when we took our high school students to a camp in Wisconsin called Expeditions Unlimited. Niki was interning their for the summer and she was one of the staff that worked our trip. She helped us kayak, rock climb, navigate obstacles, and served our students tirelessly day in and day out. Niki and I connected right away and got to talk about life quite a bit the five days we were there. After our group left, Niki finished out her internship and then returned home to Illinois.


Niki is 22 years old and just graduated from college. Her life thus far had has plenty of challenges but she is a person who is choosing to trust Jesus and His plan for her life. Prior to this weekend her living situation was not healthy or ideal for a twenty-two year old woman and moving back in with her biological family was not an option. After many conversations and feeling like it was the right move to make, Justin and I invited Niki to come live with us. And she accepted. 

Some of you know that we already have another girl living with us named Jenn. Jenn is twenty-one and has been living with us for about 14 months. Jenn is a part of our family and is like a big sister to Cooper. We've loved having her in our home and love that she was so willing to give up her own room to share a room with a new friend. 

So Niki and Jenn now share what used to be Justin's office, just off of the garage. It's got a "girl's dorm room" kind of feel. I had fun decorating it and getting it ready for Niki to move in. We got to do a "reveal" of sorts. Justin met with Niki at Starbucks on Saturday night to let her know that we wanted to invite her to live in our home. When they came back, Jenn and I were waiting at the garage to show Niki her new room. She had no clue that we had already prepared a space for her, she just assumed she'd be sleeping on the couch for a while. I told her to open the door to her new room and when she did she was in complete shock. The shock was coupled with excitement and a little bit of disbelief that this was really happening. She was practically speechless. It was a fun moment and the perfect time for us to validate our feelings for her. She is loved so much and we are so excited for her to be in our home.

When Justin and I got married I don't think I could've ever imagined that five years into married life we'd have two young women living in our home. But for me, it was such an easy decision, almost second nature, really. They bring so much joy to our home.

When I was 18 years old I had a similar story. My youth pastor and his wife invited me to come and live with them. They recognized that my 18-year-old self needed some stability and a healthy home and they graciously offered that to me. I lived with Greg and Caroline on and off for about 4 years and the time I spent with them was living-changing. I honestly feel like I would be a completely different person today if God hadn't brought Greg and Caroline into my life.

Having Niki and Jenn live with us isn't necessarily an act of me "paying it forward" but rather, me having the desire to add the same value I received from the TeSelles, to someone else's life.

Jenn and Niki's stories are different than mine but we have so many things in common. The desire to be loved, affirmed, and cared for in a safe place. Which is something we all want, don't we?

I'm excited about what the future holds for all five of us.

'7' FOOD update

It's been nine days since I started the '7' food experiment. What a journey it has been so far. The first few days were tough. I was grumpy, hungry, and wondering if I could really make it an entire month eating just seven foods. But then it started to get easier. I wasn't thinking about cookies and potato chips as much anymore and I wasn't as hungry or cranky either. My thinking shifted from "this sucks" to "I think this is actually doable". If you read my last post you know that I was contemplating breaking the month up into chunks because we were running out of grocery money very quickly. But my friend Natasha encouraged me not to give up and to get creative and figure out how I could make it work. I am thankful for her. So it's day nine and I'm still going but we have made a couple of changes.

Justin started out doing the experiment with me (he likes a good challenge but I think he was doing it mostly to support me) and I asked him if he would be willing to end his month prematurely so that I could finish mine. He said yes. I basically was asking him, "Would you eat cookies and all the other good food so that I can continue to not eat cookies and all the other good food?" Who wouldn't say yes to that?

He will continue to eat some of the '7' foods with me but he has released himself from eating strictly seven things. He's free, people.

The other change that I made is that I am going to start subbing beans for chicken. Chicken tends to be expensive, especially if you buy quality chicken, so I'm going to be eating a lot more beans instead of chicken. I'll probably do a week of beans and then a week of chicken and then another week of beans.

So as it stands I'm still only consuming eggs, bread, chicken/beans, avocados, sweet potatoes, spinach, and apples. I guess I should call it 'eight' instead of 'seven'. Or maybe 'seven and a half'.

Here's what a typical day of eating has looked like these past nine days:

Breakfast: egg sandwich with spinach.

Lunch: a piece of chicken, with some avocado, or a avocado and spinach sandwich

Dinner: chicken and sweet potatoes (usually cooked in the crock pot or baked)

Snacks: apples or a slice of bread

Sounds super exciting right? It's been quite eye opening for me even though I don't really consider myself a "foodie".

It's so nice when things are simple. Even though I want to eat a lot of other things the simplicity of only having a few options is kind of freeing. Especially when it comes to food. I know what foods I can eat, I eat them, and then I move on with my day. No obsessing over choices or being consumed or distracted by cravings or impulses. I eat and then I live.

Only 19 more days to go.

The Influence Conference

I am super excited to be attending The Influence Conference in Indy in about five weeks. It's a blogging conference and a first of it's kind for me. A dear friend surprised me with a ticket to go. Amazing.

There's an assignment been given to the ladies who will be attending so we can all get to know each other before I actually get to know each other. Ha. Brilliant, right?

So here it goes. 
3 get-to-know-me items // 
  • I have lived in 5 states in the past 10 years. I love change and I love the excitement and new things that come with moving. Although I never like saying good-bye to good friends and family. 
  • I cannot accurately express my love for Starbucks Chai Lattes. Hot or cold. I would drink one every day if they weren't so expensive and they didn't make my heart flutter so much. 
  • In "dreamland" I want to be a professional snowboarder. 

2 things you're looking forward to about the conference //

  • Learning about how to be a more strategic blogger and also how to be a better writer. 
  • Meeting lots of new women. I love hanging out with women and making new friends. I'll be coming to the conference by myself but I ain't scared. And beware all, I like to ask a lot of questions. 

1 thing you can't leave home without //

  • My iPhone. Sad I know. I may eventually need some therapy. 

Day 3 of the '7' experiment

I am approaching the end of day three of the food experiment I talked about here a couple of days ago. How's it going, you ask?

It's hard.

The first two days were the hardest and I feel like it's getting a little easier. I've felt pretty hungry in between meals and it takes a lot more work to prepare the seven foods that were chosen than I am normally used to. I have used my crock pot a TON this week. I've been throwing chicken breasts in there and yesterday I added sweet potatoes which turned out pretty good. I've never cooked sweet potatoes in the crock pot before.

Things I've noticed about my body... The first two days I felt pretty crappy. Tired. Lethargic. And my muscles were cramping probably because I wasn't eating ENOUGH food. I think I was taking in too much protein and not enough fiber because my system was a little "backed up". TMI, I know. Sorry.

Even though it's been hard so far (I don't know why I expected it to be easier) here's what I've observed...

1) We eat because we can. There have been many times these last couple of days where I thought "I want a cookie" or "I'm gonna go eat some chips" forgetting that those items were not on the '7' approved list. I just wanted to eat because I could. Because it was there and accessible. Not necessarily because I was hungry or needed to eat.

2) When you don't have access to food, you think about it a lot. I've found myself constantly thinking about food. What I want to eat. What I can't wait to eat when this experiment is over. What I could eat without anyone knowing. My mind has been consumed with thoughts about food and I don't really like that.

This experiment has really been stretching me. The only bummer aside from being hungry is that this seven foods has taken a toll on our grocery budget that I did not anticipate. We have a certain amount of money for groceries each week and this experiment has eaten up most of our food money already and we still have a two-year-old mouth to feed.

So we may be splitting this month up into chunks rather than doing it consecutively.

We'll just take it one day at a time:)