Wednesday, August 16, 2017

on Charlottesville and waking up



The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,

and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.
They shall build up the ancient ruins;
they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
the devastations of many generations.
-Isaiah 61:1-5


This is what courage looks like. To shine the light in the darkness. To speak kind words and listen when you want to prove your point. To see the health of the relationship as more important than being right. To walk justly and love mercy. We are called to love one another.

Sadly the events in Charlottesville did not surprise me. They did not shock me. They didn't tear me up and mess with me like others have. Because sadly, this type of violence and outrage has come to be expected in our broken and fallen world.

The literal only hope in this world is Jesus. Plain and simple. I'm clinging to Him and asking how He can make me an agent of change right where I am, because that's all I know to do.


I posted the above on Instagram and Facebook yesterday because I didn't really want to write this blog post. I'm tired of writing blog posts like this. I am very tempted to throw around blame and shame and point fingers, and I don't want to pretend like the world we are living in is anything but crazy, either. There are countries heralding the termination of Down Syndrome, a foster care crisis in our state, and the Syrian refugee crisis is unprecedented and heartbreaking.

So when I heard about the events in Charlottesville, I was surprised for a hot second, but then reminded of the world we are living in. It is one of fear. Of very clearly drawn lines. Lines of intolerance. Lines of hatred. It is sadly a world of violence. And when I remembered those things, the events of this past weekend did not surprise me, but rather incited a deep sadness, which in turn incited anger.

Throughout the weekend and into Monday, I attempted to avoid the news. I didn't want to be depressed or afraid. But then I remembered that I have a responsibility as a citizen of heaven to know what's going on in my world so that I know what to say when I'm praying to the Most High God. And while I have greatly limited my exposure to news in the past few days to protect my fragile heart, what's amazing about all of these events is that God is never shocked by them, because He is omnipotent. He knew the way things would change in our country and how the climate would shift and escalate to these unthinkable heights. He knew that we would turn on each other in the midst of placing feelings and the desire to be right above relationship and genuinely loving others. He knew that we would be deceived by slick political agendas that don't seem "that bad" and that we would fall prey to thinking that we were victims of someone else's plans. He knew. 

And while I know that He is not surprised, I know that this behavior- this senseless pride, fear-mongering, hatred, cowardice, and injustice both saddens and enrages Him. And it is the same for me, too. My heart aches knowing that it's only going to get worse. My heart aches knowing that our future children will be brought into this world. My heart is enraged with the senseless pride of those who refuse to call sin what it is and rationalize the violent behavior of others. My heart is heavy knowing that this will not end this side of heaven. My heart is maddened by the silence of many of my Christian brothers and sisters with a voice who could shine a light in the darkness. 

But what's really scary? What really makes me want to curl into the fetal position and live in a compound with my best friends and never venture into the public space? The darkness in my own heart. I found that as I read the news yesterday- even thought it was for a brief moment- hate was in my heart. Misdirected, misguided, wrongly placed hate. Hate for another person. Hate for someone that is created in the image of God, even though they may not know it or act like it. And that scared me, friends. It scared me a lot. 


"I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

Here's the thing: there is darkness in all of us. There is big bad scary hate deep down in us whether we acknowledge it or not. There is bias and there are micro-agressions and there are perceptions and there are past experiences. But there is also grace and mercy and love and peace and kindness and forgiveness- all at the foot of the cross. We find His tender lovingkindness there, because His Son bore our sin and shame and said it is finished. All of that hate and fear? Conquered. That prejudice and bias and pride? Overtaken by the blood of the Lamb.

So where do I go from here? I remember that God is good at being God. I encourage my soul and ask myself how I love the mess out of the people in front of me-even those who think differently. Especially those who think differently than me. Why love those who are different than me? Because I'm getting reallllllly tired of being around people just like me. Like really tired. I need a shake-up. The Christian bubble is starting to feel claustrophobic and suffocating. I love my Christian friends. But I come alive when I can be with others who are different than me, because they challenge me to stand for what I believe in and put some action behind it. They challenge me to have an answer for what I believe in and to not just speak in Christianese and hope that they catch on. They challenge me to love no matter what. 

Anyone else tired of the fake crap, or is it just me? There's a broken world out there, and every single one of us has the power to do something about it. The question is whether you'll be content to sit where you're at and just pray about it or if you'll do something. Wake up, people. We only get one shot at this thing; this isn't the dress rehearsal. Let's go love like there's no tomorrow, because there very well may not be one. 

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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Currently: August





Eek! It is August! The past couple mornings have had a definite "chill" in the air and have been much cooler, which makes me all the more excited for fall and the cooler weather to come that will stay. :) It is hard to believe that summer break is already gone, but I was working this summer, so it feels a little different than summers past. Rory and I had a few little things we wanted to do, see, and explore around Athens while the college students were gone, but time got away from us! We didn't spend as much time downtown as we said we would, but that's ok. Downtown Athens will always be there! And maybe, just maybe, this fall we will take advantage of some of the breaks that the students have and enjoy some time in our beloved Classic City. Here's what's going on these days:


snacking (on): Popcorn. Always popcorn. I bought Rory a Whirly Pop for Christmas, and we use it at least three times a week. We finally ordered some popcorn in bulk from Amazon, because it is always a very sad day when we run out at our house!
anticipating: The cooler weather! I was staring longly at my sweaters and jackets in my closet the other day, haha.
borrowing: Well, with all of this home reno stuff we have done through the summer, we were borrowing a sander and ladder from our friends, but we've since returned it.
admiring: I have been admiring some the grace with which so many of my faraway mentors carry themselves. It has been a privilege to be on the launch team for Ruth Chou Simons' new book, Gracelaced, and the more I get to "know" her, the more I respect her. She's the real deal, folks. Be sure to check out all the wonderful pre-order goodies and order it before it comes out on September 1!
purchasing: A couple weeks ago, a local consignment store got a big Lularoe haul. I'd been avoiding all the Lularoe parties online but was interested in purchasing some, and I got three pairs of their amazingly wonderfully comfy leggings for TEN BUCKS EACH. Talk about a steal. Thank you Jesus for consignment stores.

What are you up to these days?

Linking up with Anne and Shea today!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

August Goals




Wow. It's the first day of August. I am tempted to be sad because summer has flown by so quickly, but I am honestly really excited about the fall and the new beginnings of this upcoming season. Last month I literally didn't touch my Powersheets. I just couldn't really think about all that I wanted to do and honestly wanted a little bit of a break from productivity to just be. I still got things done, but I just didn't check things off. This month, I'm starting fresh, and I'm excited about the goals the Lord has laid on my heart.

Here's what I was working on in June (and consequently, July)

June Goals

Monthly

continue expanding and revising Already Chosen 
read three books 
-Healing Fibroids
-Cultivate
-The Turquoise Table
paint/project day at the house!

Weekly

work out 3x a week
call a friend
write someone a note
work on my book manuscript


Daily

pray through my prayer cards
read the word
encourage Ror
encourage someone else
preach to my own heart



The Nitty Gritty

July was a fun month. I took a step back from my book manuscript and honestly just continued to pray that the Lord would give me the words and vision for the book. It was good for my soul, and I'm ready now with fresh perspective and new insights. I was able to finish reading two out of the three books, which was good. We also were able to get our projects done at the house, and I am so very pleased with how it all turned out! It feels like a new house, and it is feeling more and more like ours each day. 





What I Was Grateful for in July

July 11 was our second wedding anniversary, which was oh so fun. The week prior, we got to spend time at the beach with Rory's college friends and their wives and kids. It was fun to be with friends not only because it was the beach, but also because we were eager to get away! Getting away with them is always something that we look forward to. In July, I also hosted two in-person oils events, and both were so fun! I really enjoy getting to share my love of oils and holistic care with others, and I count it a privilege to help others on their wellness journeys. Since we are in the spirit of home improvement, I also decluttered a bunch through our home. We've (and really just me, haha) still got lots of things to sort through, but I'm taking baby steps to tidiness! This summer I have also been a part of a new Bible study group, and I am extremely grateful to have a community of women around me who love Jesus and love the Word. 




August Goals

Monthly

four online classes 
two in-person oils events or one-on-ones
finish part three of my book
have our new neighbors over for dinner

Weekly 

work out 5x a week
meal prep
complete Bible study homework
write someone a note

Daily

read the Word
pray
encourage Ror
encourage someone else
be timely

What are you working on right now, friends?

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Recap of Our Charleston Birthday Vacay





So a couple months ago, Rory and I took a little vacation. Our birthdays are two weeks apart to the day. I was born on May 6, and he was born on May 20. May is notoriously a crazy month for our family, because my dad's birthday is also in May! We decided that this year instead of really big gifts, we would take a trip and enjoy some time away together. The plan was to go to Austin, Texas, and also swing over to Waco and visit the Magnolia Market, but it was going to be craaaaazzzyyyy expensive. So. Driving distance was a factor. We found an amazing deal on an Airbnb and decided to go for it, because Charleston was on our bucket list. To save money, we ate a big breakfast, snacked throughout the day, and then ate dinner. It was great! The whole trip was a whirlwind, and we enjoyed lots of fun activities and some seriously great food. Here's a recap of our fun!

DAY ONE

Lunch at Artisan Meat Share - amazing but now closed :(
A lovely walk through downtown 
Dinner at Básico





One place I wanted to visit was the Emanuel A.M.E Church, which is the site of the Charleston mass shooting. That day was sobering for me as it was for many Americans, but it was also sad to know that a distant cousin of mine (whom I'd never met) was among the fallen victims. It was encouraging to see a poster for a race reconciliation event on their walls, and being there gave me a sense of hope that we will continue to have conversations about race and love one another as we were called to. 




DAY TWO 

Dinner at Poogan's Porch




I was incredibly excited to see Boone Hall Plantation because it is where they filmed part of the movie The Notebook, which we all know is one of the most epic love stories ever. It was an incredible day, and we learned so much. The history behind plantations is one that is dark and full of sadness, as it is inextricably tied to slavery. We learned about the horrors of slavery, toured slave cabins, and also learned about what it took to maintain a plantation. There was also a Gullah presentation that was incredible. Part of my family is from Charleston, and I am almost certain that we have Gullah roots! Hearing about the history and touring the house was wonderful. The grounds were beautiful, and it was a really fun day. 




DAY THREE


Our last day was fun, even though we knew we were headed home. We visited the Angel Oak tree, which to some is a waste of time, but to me is always neat to see and behold. Just knowing that God created this amazing tree and that it is standing there for us to take in and gaze upon is fascinating to me. Rory and I are not coffee drinkers, but we love tea. We were super excited to tour the only tea farm in America (although we didn't know that until we got there). The process of making tea is quite laborious! Before we toured the farm, Rory said that he thought it would be fun for us to have a tea garden. Well. That won't be possible since you need heavy machinery to do it right, but it was worth a shot. :)







Tuesday, July 11, 2017

What I've Learned in Two Years of Marriage



I can barely believe it, but today is Rory and I's two year anniversary! Most days I feel like we've known each other for so much longer than almost three years. We have been through a lot of change in these two short years- new jobs for each of us, a house, a puppy, a new car, and lots of miles put on my car with various road trips to see family and friends and get away together.

Getting married was a huge deal, obviously. But everything that led up to that day was all preparation for a lifetime together, and at the end of the day, the wedding is not nearly as monumental as the life that you build together for years to come. I can honestly say that the last few years with Rory have been the most joy-filled of my life. There have been many trials and hard lessons learned, along with scars and wounds brought to the surface that threatened to choke the life out of our marriage. But through it all, God has become bigger and greater and all the more powerful in our hearts and minds. He has given us a great life together, and I truly believe that the best is yet to come. We thought we knew and loved each other on July 11, 2015, but today, two years later, we know and love each other even more. People always tell us that it just keeps getting better, and now I believe them! The best is yet to come.

Rory Alexander Mathisen is not just my husband. He's my best friend, my biggest cheerleader, my advocate, my defender, and the greatest joy to walk alongside each day. He makes every day brighter and loves me like Christ loves the church by laying himself down on my behalf. Since two years is the equivalent of 24 months, today I'm sharing 24 things I've learned about marriage. Happy anniversary to my sweetheart!



1. Marriage is not about making me happy or making Rory happy. It's about glorifying God.
2. Watching Netflix on your screen while the hubs plays video games on another screen is the perfect compromise for a night in.
3. Starting a conversation about the budget before eating dinner (read: when you're both hangry) is not a good idea.
4. Starting a conversation about a testy topic right before bed is also not a good idea.
5. It's always a good idea to pursue intimacy. ;)
6. It's also always a good idea to think before you speak.
7. Sometimes (well, pretty much all the time) you should pray before bringing up something that bothers you about your spouse. Also take the plank out of your eye because chances are he's not the only one with a problem.
8. Road trips are ideal for fun and deep conversations.



9. Cooking together, painting together, doing anything together around the house is a great bonding exercise.
10. Be very careful with the way you tell stories about your spouse when you're in front of others. Always paint them in a good light and be self-aware.
11. That being said, self-awareness is all-around great for marriage and life in general.
12. Praying together morning and night brings peace and unity to your relationship.
13. If you're on a special diet and your spouse isn't, just do it with them. It makes all the world of difference. But know that sometimes you can cheat with them so that they don't want to die for lack of carbs or sweets. :)
14. Always always always share your money and talk about the budget clearly and specifically. What's mine is yours, what's yours is mine.
15. Slow dancing in the kitchen is a sweet romantic gesture, and it's free.
16. Making a little stop by their workplace during the day is a huge pick me up. Sometimes I stop by the hospital where Rory works just to get a kiss and tell him hello. :)



17. In fact, if you can, a lunch date during the work week is oh so fun.
18. And along those lines, CONTINUE TO DATE. How the dump are you going to have a relationship if you don't get out and do something together? It doesn't have to cost money, so don't make it about that. It's about quality time. Go out to eat, go on a walk, exercise together, work on a fun DIY project, garden, do whatever, but be sure to date. I love our date nights so so much.
19. Getting away doesn't have to be fancy or expensive, but it sure is good.
20. Sharing the scary and ugly parts of yourself is so hard, but so rewarding because this person has promised to love you no matter what and won't walk away.
21. Say "I love you" all. the. time. Doesn't matter if you think it's overkill, the other person needs to hear it more than you know. Along those lines, be sure to say "Will you forgive me?", "I forgive you,"  "I'm proud of you," and "Thank you" all the time, too.
22. Reading the Bible and worshiping together unites your hearts and helps you grow spiritually as a couple.
23. Not taking yourself (or life) too seriously does a world of good.
24. Making things fun just makes marriage (and life) all the more enjoyable.

All photos by the lovely Elissa Ewald.
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Thursday, July 6, 2017

Currently: July



Wooohoo! July is here and with it the heat and full-fledged BBQ mood. :) I don't know about you, but  July is a fun month because we are officially in summer mode. I am hoping to mooch off of Rory's parents and go to their pool, and I am very much looking forward to celebrating our second wedding anniversary! Here's what's going on currently:

documenting: Last month, we did a lot of house projects, and this month we are bringing them to completion and taking lots of pictures! I am so pleased with the way our new paint color looks and am enjoying our little DIY projects.
accomplishing: I'd say our little house makeover was quite the accomplishment, wouldn't you? But I also feel proud to say that I have been doing well with avoiding gluten, dairy, and sugar. Not perfect but feeling better for sure. :)
enjoying: I've been praying for a community of women for a while and am really grateful for a new group I'm a part of that meets on Sunday evenings. We are doing Angie Smith's Seamless for our summer study, and it is so good. It's a great complement to the Covenant study that I did earlier this year. ALSO last month we got a new nephew, so I am enjoying his little newborn snuggles.
reading: So many things! The Turquoise Table, The Broken Way, The Chronicles of Narnia, and Christy, to name a few.
spending: I am spending time with the hubs and just loving being with him at home. Also we are hoping to spend waaaay less money this month than the last. :)


Linking up with Anne and Stephanie today!

Friday, June 30, 2017

#weread2017: Cultivate Review





Ok friends. It is no secret how much I love Lara Casey around here. I mean, each month I use the Powersheets she created as a way to flesh out my goals and help me see where I want to make progress. I have followed her blog for quite some time now and am so inspired by her honesty and her desire to live an intentional life in the thick of where God has her. I read her first book, Make It Happen, and was inspired to take my blogging and writing seriously by investing more time in a place that was no longer "just a side thing." I've followed her gardening journey and was so inspired that I decided to finally take the plunge and start my own garden. To say that she's been a distant mentor would be an understatement. So when I saw that she was writing another book, I couldn't wait to get my hands on it. 

In Cultivate: A Grace-Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life, Lara does everything she can to assure the reader that she is just like you. She's just a woman who wants to do everything in her power to live her one life for the glory of God. And what's beautiful about her mission is that she wants you to know that you can do the same. Yes, she is a well-known business owner, writer, and sought-after speaker. But at the end of the day, she is a wife to one, mama to three, and a woman who loves the Lord her God with everything in her being. And that, my friends is not intimidating, but rather inspiring. 



As I read through Lara's story of walking through loss, miscarriage, the adoption process, and stepping back from her business in order to spend time with her family, I was struck with the realization that her life was not that different than mine. We have different stories, but we have similar desires. She's a creative woman who wants to inspire women to use their gifts and talents for the Kingdom. She wants to love her family well and invest in her neighbors. Kindred spirits, I'd say. 

Reading Lara's gut-wrenchingly honest words about her struggles with anxiety and depression, tears streamed down my face. Lara unpacks ten common lies that we believe, addressing comparison, selfishness, and sins that we try to ignore because they're "not that bad." It is so easy to think that you're alone in your struggles until one day, God reveals to you that you're not.  No one is alone in their struggles, and as Lara so bravely shared in her book, "Coming undone is part of coming alive." We have to surrender in order to receive the best that God has for us, which is so much more than we could ever imagine. With beautiful vignettes that reflect the heart of a woman who loves to garden and cultivate and tend to what matters, Lara shines the light of the Gospel. I was deeply moved by her words and will be reading and re-reading them in order to implement the small steps of progress toward letting go and living the abundant life that God has called me to. If you're in need of encouragement right where you are, then this book is for you. You will be encouraged, convicted, and challenged to take a step back and ask yourself, "Am I living the life I want to live?" But the best part? You'll have the tools you need to change what you want to seek the life you desire and sow into the places where God has you. 

I received this book in exchange for my review from the publisher. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Friday, June 9, 2017

June Goals



Wow. I am so glad that we are done with May. It was a crazy month, friends. So many birthdays and celebrations and graduations and such. I am so ready for the lazy days of summer. It is so wonderful to know that we don't have a ton going on in the next couple months, and I am really looking forward to a slower pace!

Here's what I was working on in May:

Monthly

expand/revise Already Chosen
read 31 Women of the Bible
host 2 oils events
wardrobe challenge
meal plan
blog plan
gluten/dairy/soy/sugar free

Weekly

plan Instagram posts
blog plan
work out 3x a week
listen to James
write someone a note

Daily

pray through Armor of God prayer strategy cards
read the Word
encourage Ror
encourage someone else



The Nitty Gritty

Whew! Looking back at that it kind of seems like a lot! And while it was a lot, it was good. May was jam-packed with celebration after celebration. Because of this, I wasn't able to finish reading 31 Women of the Bible, but there were lots of other great things that happened! This month I was able to meet a rank I've been working toward in Young Living for several months now, and that was super exciting and satisfying. Slowly but surely the Lord is providing people who are invested in the business, and our team is growing! You can see the Young Living income disclosure statement here. One sweet friend hosted a class at her apartment, and we had so much fun learning together!

I've also been working toward a gluten/dairy/sugar/soy free diet. Boy is it rough stuff sometimes. Most of the time, foods laden with these ingredients make me feel icky, but there are moments when I just want to scarf a cupcake. Just saying. The That Sounds Fun! podcast episode where Annie F. Downs interviewed Danielle Walker of Against All Grain was incredibly encouraging and convicting to me. I almost want to listen to it again to get all the goodness again. They discussed how the Lord can use food to heal our bodies, and it was such a paradigm shift for me. There might be more on that later. :)



What I Was Grateful for in May

May was so fun and so fast. I enjoyed so much of this special month. It is really sweet to me that Rory and I both were born in May, so that has taken on another level of fun. Now, I almost enjoy his birthday more than mine, which, if you know me personally, you know that's saying something. In May, I was grateful for a really special birthday. We went to Gibbs Gardens, had a fancy dinner, and enjoyed watching movies at our house. We also got to enjoy a visit from Rory's grandfather, with whom I may or may not be obsessed. During the week in between our birthdays, we traveled to Charleston, SC on a mini-birthday vacation, which was a blast. It was a tad nerdy because we did lots of touristy things, but it was honestly just really nice to be in another city, eat some great food, and explore. In May I also got a big dose of encouragement and momentum in my Young Living business, so that was exciting as well.

June Goals

Monthly

continue expanding and revising Already Chosen 
read three books 
-Healing Fibroids
-Cultivate
-The Turquoise Table
paint/project day at the house!

Weekly

work out 3x a week
call a friend
write someone a note
work on my book manuscript


Daily

pray through my prayer cards
read the word
encourage Ror
encourage someone else
preach to my own heart

What are you working toward this month, friends?



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