As I have been working on my media kit the past few weeks (yes, bloggers have media kits!), I have been debating whether or not to keep the little caption I coined a year ago when I started this blog. Refinement, defined. Does it sound snooty? Does it really capture the essence of what I am trying to do with DoSayGive? And that got me started thinking about why I started DoSayGive in the first place.
When I started DoSayGive I was coming out of a very difficult five years. Miscarriages, the traumatic deaths of two dear friends in their twenties, a husband that worked 80-90 hours a week, a life-threatening pregnancy followed by a very premature baby with a lot of health issues, and ending with the sudden death of my beloved grandmother last summer. (Whew, sorry, that’s a lot to take in!).
But it was during all of these trials, when I could barely come up for breath, that I stopped having room in my heart to take in so many of the things that filled my days before. It wasn’t like I made a conscious effort to stop picking up US Weekly in the check out aisle or watching three hours of t.v. a night. I just stopped.
My to-do list got dramatically shorter, too. I stopped going to Target every other day. (When our finances became strained because of therapy and doctor bills, it became quite obvious that many of the “to dos” and “projects” that filled my lists before were really not quite so pressing as I was once thought!).
I stopped volunteering for so many things, realizing that pre-school fundraisers could go on just fine without me.
And this is kind of funny, but I also started listening to classical music some. Not because I wanted to be sophisticated (trust me, I know nothing about classical music!) but because, honestly, I couldn’t think straight my otherwise. I needed peace. I needed calm. I needed to pray. I did NOT need musician and celebrities and the media filling my mind with mindless twaddle. I serially couldn’t think straight and so turned to wordless music or just turned the radio off altogether.
Now before you run off thinking I am one of “those” types, hold on a minute. I’m not insinuating any of the things I listed above are bad. That time of my life was not normal. At all. And that is how I reacted. These days I do watch a little t.v. and love a good pop music dance song (hello, Taylor Swift, that my eight year old has just realized existed…).
But what I realized last summer, as I pondered my grandmother’s life, and evaluated my own, is that through all of these trials, God gifted me with something that most people don’t figure out – if at all – until much later in life.
Besides seeing clearly that I don’t want to go one second in this life outside of His grip, I realized these things about my life:
1. Life is short. I don’t want to to spend most of it wasting it on mindless or time-consuming things that really don’t matter that much.
2. We were made for so much more than what our culture offers us today. Seriously, so much more.
3. When all is said and done, family and close friends are what really matter. And loving others well.
That’s why I started DoSayGive. Not to be perfect. Not to shun things. Just a place where I could explore what it truly meant to refined and gracious in this day and age. (Yes, there were plenty of “etiquette” blogs, but many seemed to provide any depth or meaning for why we put the fork and spoon where they go…).
As I was putting my website together, I realized I needed a tag line; something that would explain it a little more. And that’s when the words “Refinement, Defined” popped into my head.
What is Refinement?
As a child, my Southern grandmother and mother always told me that I was a refined, young lady. I did not fully understand at the time, but refinement actually means “to clear of impurities.”
To her, refinement meant being respectful of others in appearance, behavior, and speech. It meant having high standards when it comes to what we fill our hearts and minds with and enjoying the truly beautiful things of God’s creation. It meant being educated about the world so we know how to wisely live, and raise our children, in it. And most importantly, it means ridding ourselves of our selfish or self-centered tendencies so we can always being thinking of others first. So we can always be gracious and lovely. It’s not about being perfect, it’s a reaction to what we have been given to us.
As I have gotten older, I realize that refinement has nothing to do with means. The wealthiest person can be common in behavior. And the person of lowest means can be refined as Queen Elizabeth. (The mother in Frances Hodgson Burnetts’ Little Lord Fauntleroy comes to mind…). Refinement is not something that can be bought; it is really a testament to what’s in the heart.
How Does Your Experience Affect Your Mothering?
As I am raising three daughters, I find myself telling my daughters that they are refined young ladies as well. Except I add, “now rise to the occasion!” (Which I am sure they absolutely hate!).
And all the things I learned over the past five years has affected how I raise them.
It’s why I try not to let my children do too many activities outside of school. (To me, it’s more important to be home more and develop our family bonds and memories.)
It’s why I read them classic children’s books and not the junky and sassy books at Barnes and Noble. (Why waste their time when there is so much beautiful literature out there that they enjoy and talk about for years?)
It’s why I teach them manners, not so people will praise me for my polite children, but because learning to show respect for others, especially elders, is a reflection of the heart and it’s humility.
Honestly, I think my children’s generation deserves more than what the culture pours out on them and I am always [trying to] sift through the muck and excess. But it’s tough, I tell you!
Why the outfit and sale posts?
Now some might wonder how my outfit and sale posts relate to DoSayGive’s mission?”
Ha, ha. I’d be wondering the same things. A few reasons:
1 .Because my “love language” is gift-giving, the bread and butter of DoSayGive is great gift ideas. In most of my sale posts I am pointing out great gift ideas for loved ones.
2. I also do sale posts because I believe in spending money wisely. And think most of my readers are like me in that they enjoy beautiful things yet are prudent with their money.
3. As for the outfit posts, I believe that it is a sign of respect for others to dress your best, to “put your best foot forward” so to speak. (You can read my post about why dress my children “like children” here). Fashion gets a bad rap sometimes. But I think there is a difference between fashion and consumerism. A beautifully constructed Oscar de la Renta gown has just as much artistic worth as a Picasso, in my opinion. It is okay to appreciate beauty and fun to talk about it. Although I certainly don’t think it should become an idol – fashion will never fulfill, trust me.
4. It’s a joy and a gift. I started DoSayGive as an outlet from the stress of everyday life. And one of the things I enjoy – and believe I have been gifted with – is finding great ideas, deals, and other thoughtful things, and then sharing them with others! Because I make a [small] commission when you buy some of the items I link, DoSayGive has become a little side business and, in turn, a blessing to our family!
5. As much as I would prefer writing more of the deeper “what to do” and “what to say” posts, those type of posts take a lot of time to write so don’t come as often. As a stay-at-home mom of three children I just don’t have a lot of time!
I hope my little blog has encouraged, inspired, or helped you in some way. Thank you for following along and sharing with your friends. I would love your thoughts on my thoughts!
(P.S. The top picture is my youngest holding a picture of my sister and I with my grandmother and her sister. You can read more about how my grandmother inspired DoSayGive here.)
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8