Thursday, December 29, 2016

My Healthy Day



Ok my friends. It is game time. I don't know about y'all, but all of the Christmas casseroles and desserts are good for a while, but then come January, I actually crave a salad. Now don't get me wrong, I love some good home cookin' just as much as the next person. But sometimes, (ok most of the time) I feel pretty icky when I am only eating lots of processed or fried foods. So January seems like the perfect time for restart, am I right, friends?

There are so many trends surrounding diet and healthcare, and it is hard to know what choices to make for yourself and for your family. For me, it's not about the latest trend or the newest diet, it's about holistic health. In the past couple years, I've been taking baby steps toward a more natural lifestyle in each area of my life. It started out with my beauty products, then cleaning products, and now products that support my overall wellness in ways I didn't even think were possible. 

This year, my restart will look different from the last few years. That's because this year I'll be incorporating oils and supplements from Young Living in order to boost my energy, support my immune system, and give me a great start for each day. There are several oils that I use every day (you can read more about that here). But in 2017, I'm taking it to the next level. 

It's easy to think about fitness and health goals, but the truth is that it's a lot harder to follow through on them and actually make long-term habit changes. Does anyone else struggle with this? I know I do. I start out with the best intentions and then fizzle out after things get hard or I feel like I've jumped off the bandwagon. 

But this year? Things will be different. I've got a plan, and I'm actually really excited about it. In the past, I've wanted to change my diet and exercise for purely superficial reasons. But now? I want to take care of this one body the Lord has given me. I want to be able to feel at my best, avoid illness, and have the energy I need to pursue everything He's called me to with all that I have! 

So friends, here is my plan:

Exercise

Work out five days a week for 20-45 minute sessions
-walk/jog/run when weather permits
-do Pilates or dance videos

How I'll make it happen:
-lay out my workout clothes the night before
-have workout videos cued up and selected
-have any workout equipment set up the night before
-make my workout the first thing I do each day so I don't "run out of time"




Wellness

-use grapefruit, lemon, and peppermint oils in my water and tea to help regulate my digestive system. I've used peppermint quite often in hot or cold water, and it is a dream for any digestive issues. Plus lemon is incredible for when you feel a case of the ickies coming on.
-30 days of Ningxia Red, an antioxidant rich superfood juice that supports overall wellness- specifically bone health, joint health, hormone health, and blood sugar support (goodness knows I need some of that in my life). I've already been loving my Ningxia Nitro for an extra energy boost in the morning or during the typical afternoon slump.
-Progessence Plus for hormonal support  (more on this later; this has changed my female health dramatically for the better)
-FemiGen  capsules for female health
-OmegaGize³ supplement for overall wellness
-go dairy free 
-eat only whole grains (no starchy white breads/rice/pasta) 
-go to bed on time! Rory is always a stickler for this and I'm just not as disciplined. But this girl needs sleep!

This girl loves herself some carbs, but I also know that gluten is not the best for your system, even if you're not allergic. So clean eating, here we go!

Food

-meal plan for each month
-dessert once a week (because nobody's perfect)

My favorite resources for meal planning are:
Skinny Taste
Budget Bytes
Paleo on a Budget
and Pinterest, duh. 

And here's the best part, my friends. I'm not alone in this. I've got a community of other ladies on Facebook who are all taking this challenge to take control of their health and be the best they can be! If you're interested in joining me on this journey, I'm sending little care packages of happy (dare I say healthy?) mail that include a free Stress Away roller (which I basically bathe in each morning and evening and sometimes throughout the day, too) for those who order their supplies for My Healthy Day by December 31st! Not only that, but you can be added to our group on Facebook that will have advice from nutritionists, personal trainers, and support from women just like you who are getting serious about their health.

Who's with me, friends? Each Friday, I'll be checking in and letting you know how I'm doing with an update. There's nothing magical about January 1, but let's not hesitate! Let's not wait another minute to get serious about our health. 


Monday, December 26, 2016

My Favorite Things 2016



I'm no Oprah, but that doesn't mean I can't make a list of my favorite things! 2017 is upon us, and I am sure that many of us are hoping and wishing for some money or gift cards under the tree, am I right? If you're someone who doesn't know what you'd like to spend that extra money on (I cannot relate to this), I've made it easy for you! This little list is a round-up of the things I've loved most in 2016.

Eat

Y'all. If you are a local reader and lucky enough to live in Athens,  you've got to try these fun restaurants:

The Place
Automatic Pizza 
White Tiger Gourmet


Drink

Lime La Croix for life, friends. 2016 can be named the year of La Croix. I was on the fence for so long, but when I finally crossed over, I did it wholeheartedly.

San Pellegrino Blood Orange is a close second, my friends. It's obviously a lot sweeter than La Croix, so I consider it a treat these days.


Wear

My Live Fashionable Mamuye tote is just the best. It was my big Christmas present from Ror last year, and I can say that I've pretty much used it every single day. It is amazing and I get so many questions about it. Not only is it beautiful, but their products are handmade by incredible women in Africa. (Use the custom link to purchase and get $10 off!)

Blanket scarf: y'all I have been wearing this thing like it is my JOB. I got mine from the bargain section at Target for $7 and haven't looked back.

Olive green anything. I love my military vest and jacket from Gap Factory. So versatile.

Leopard anything. I've got two pairs of leopard shoes and am seriously considering getting a third. I need leopard for all occasions and moods. I know I'm not alone here.


Read

Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living 

Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely

Unashamed: Drop the Baggage, Pick up Your Freedom, Fulfill Your Destiny

Hands down the best books of 2016. And I read a lot of books, folks.

Organize

Purposeful Planner: I use this every day to map out my work week, errands, meal planning, exercise charting, etc. It's the bomb and is good for a whole year and a half!

Cultivate What Matters Powersheets: I love love love this tool, y'all. This amazing notebook is my go-to resource for dreaming up goals and then making them happen. You need these in your life if you've got some dreams you want to chase, peeps.

Health

Love love love my YETI knockoff from Walmart. Ozark Trail forever. It encourages me to drink all the water while looking oh so cool. ;)

ESSENTIAL OILS! Y'all I will love my oils and tell you about 'em till the cows come home. They have been so huge for my overall wellness- emotionally, mentally, and physically. I've started bringing my diffuser to work and it's been a game changer. Not to mention that I love the way that Ningxia Nitro gives me a pick-me-up in the afternoon slump.

What are some of your favorite things from this year? What have you been loving? I need suggestions on how to spend my Christmas money, too, so share in the comments what you just can't live without.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

We Cannot Stay Silent

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I don't know about y'all, but there is so much overwhelming heartache in the world news these days. There is so much evil and junk that permeates our world and threatens to choke the life out of us. As I've seen headlines come in through notifications on my phone in the past few weeks, my heart has ached as I've considered the real pain that people all around the world are facing during this holiday season.

It's not all twinkle lights and pretty bows for everyone. There is real pain and destruction happening in many corners of our world, and sadly, if our eyes are open, we may not have to look far to find it. Have you read about or seen what's happening in Aleppo? It is enough to make you weep for days. I am not a world news expert, nor do I claim to have all the facts. But what I do know is that there are innocent people being attacked and there is senseless killing happening. Children, mothers, fathers- no one is being spared. And whether they celebrate Christmas or not, the fact is that their December 25 is going to look very different from most of ours.

2016 kind of feels like a doozy of a year when we look back at all that has occurred just here in the United States-there's heartache, strife, political tension, and racism. But there is so much going on outside of our little American bubble. There are families being divided and bombs being dropped while we trim our trees and plan our Christmas feasts. We don't have to feel guilty about our comfortable lives, but we also cannot justify inaction when we've been made aware. It hurts to think of how different our realities can be just because we were born in another place.



So what do we do? Do we decide to turn a blind eye and get back to our Christmas movie binge session? Do we sit in plenty and decide that whatever we might could do probably wouldn't be enough?

I hope not. Here's some action steps we can take:

Pray. We don't often harness the power we have in prayer, but it is an offensive weapon. Pray for God's peace to rule and for people to turn to Him.

Give. Preemptive Love is on the ground in Aleppo, Syria, and just $30 can provide sleeping bags for two people fleeing the city.

Go. This isn't always an option for overseas situations, but think about your local city. Are there people in your city who need what only you can give?

Let's do the hard thing, friends. Let's decide not to turn a blind eye and to give what we can to help others who can't give us anything in return.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Beauty of Christmas



Let's be honest with each other, because we can do that, can't we? Sometimes Christmas is hard. There, I said it. I'm not saying this in a Scrooge-y way, and I'm not saying it because I am "over Christmas" or done with the holidays. I'm saying it because it's the truth. It seems that at Christmas time, the expectations are higher, the desires stronger, and the pain deeper.

Why is that? Why do we talk of sugar plum fairies and blankets of snow but find ourselves in tears when we least expect it? For some of us, we may be mourning the loss of a dearly loved one. Others may mourn the death of a dream or delayed plans. And still others may be grieving the end of a season while entering into an unanticipated one.

Can I share something with you? Sometimes I get caught up in all the wrong stuff this time of year. I obsess over the house decorations and the right recipes and the cutest outfit for all the parties. And you know what? I'm missing the mark when I do this. Because you and I both know that this season is about something so much greater than mistletoe and holly.

This season is about our Savior, who came wrapped in swaddling cloths to completely turn our world upside down. It's about peace on earth and peace within my heart even when the world around me is falling apart or I'm just plain tired. This season? It's about family. Friends. And most importantly, it's about the advent of our coming King.

There are five days until Christmas, and there's still plenty of time for us to not miss Him. There's still time to find the wonder and awe of the beauty of Christmas. Because while I love the twinkly lights and hot cocoa as much as anyone, the most beautiful part of this season is the Savior's love that came down for you and me.

What's encouraged my heart this season:

She Reads Truth Advent reading plan
Carlos Sibley's message at church this Sunday: "Christmas Can Be a Pain"
Christy Nockel's Christmas album (Seriously so good, y'all. It's been on repeat.)

Friday, December 16, 2016

Our Windy City Adventure



This past weekend, we had the joy of traveling to Chicago for the wedding of one of Rory's closest friends. I had never been to Chicago prior to this weekend, so I was very excited about this trip. Not only was I looking forward to getting away, I was excited about exploring a new city with Ror and my sweet friend Allie. Allie and I have known each other since college. We met in a Bible study that was led by our pastor's wife that was hosted in their home. She is an amazing woman, an incredible artist, and a great friend. She moved up to Chicago two years ago to do Teach for America and graciously let us stay with her this past weekend.

We got flew in to Chicago late Saturday night, because the wedding was Sunday afternoon. Sunday morning/early afternoon was the only time that we had to see the city, and we made the most of it with our awesome hostess/tour guide!

Sunday morning, we had a delicious breakfast at a restaurant called Orange that was just down the street from Allie's apartment in Lincoln Park. Then, we took the train to the John Hancock building, which is one of the tallest buildings in the city. From the 96th floor, we saw an incredible view of the city, even though it was pretty foggy.







When we came downstairs, I saw that the American Girl store was across the street, and I had a moment. So since my husband is a sweetie and Allie is also an American Girl fan (duh), we went in. Y'all- that store is amazing. Hopefully when we have kids, that'll be a grandparent gift. Just saying. 

From the American Girl store, we walked down the Magnificent Mile and saw all kinds of lovely famous buildings and amazing art. It was frigid, but so beautiful. I'm a bit like Lorelai Gilmore when it comes to snow- it is magical to me. I loved walking around all day on Sunday simply because there was snow. :) We went to Millennium Park and saw The Bean, and we ducked in Macy's to see their giant tree and thaw out for a bit.






After that, we went to a sweet little Christmas market called Christkindlmarket- it was the cutest little thing, and we got some fun ornaments and delicious cider there. We then headed to another artist's market called the Dose Market, where we rubbed shoulders with all kinds of hipsters, did a little more shopping, and ate some yummy treats. By the time we did all of these things, we needed to head back to Lincoln Park to get ready for the wedding.






We ate lunch at a yummy Thai place and then showered and got ready for the wedding. Allie let us borrow her car, and we headed to Wheaton! Let me just say that Google maps struggles in Chicago and that I am very glad we left in plenty of time. :) The wedding was absolutely beautiful with a worshipful ceremony and a gorgeous reception. It was hard and strange to see friends for such  short amount of time, but we are grateful for any time with them at all.





Now to recover from our travels and get some sleep! Anyone else feel like they need a staycation after their vacation?!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

#weread2016: Present Over Perfect Review



If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know that I am a HUGE fan of Shauna Niequist's writing. I've probably read her first book, Cold Tangerines no less than five times, and I am just so captivated by her beautiful words and her desire to be vulnerable and relatable with her audience. She lays it all out there- the good, the bad, and the ugly. And when you're done reading her writing, you are always left wanting more.

Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living is an incredible work of art. I have to say that I think it may be her best yet. It came out a couple months ago, and y'all, I've already read it twice. It's that good. Shauna tells stories, as she always does, in the most beautiful of ways. She lets us in to some deep places- she tells about her deepest desires, needs, dreams and juxtaposes those stories with her deepest insecurities, fears, and shames. So as I read, I couldn't help but be reminded of all of my desires, needs, dreams and confronted with my insecurities, fears, and shames. I found her stories so incredibly relatable that I often wept as I read, shared chapters with my husband, and journaled about them later.

Present Over Perfect is a call to anyone who longs to know themselves better by understanding their worth and value as a child of God who is made in His image. It is a collection of stories that will shape you and grab hold of you without letting go. It will challenge you and encourage you to live as your truest self and to unapologetically take hold of the identity that God has written on your heart and emblazoned on His. Run, don't walk to get it, friends.

I realized that the love I was looking for all along is never found in the hustle. You can't prove it or earn it or compete for it. You can just make space for it, listen for it, travel all the way down to the depth of your soul, into the rhythmic beating of your very own heart, where the very spirit of God has made his home, and that's where you'll find it. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

What Happened When I Stopped Shopping



So I gave up shopping for three months. You can read more about that here, but y'all. I am so glad I did this. It was an incredible learning experience for me to see just how materialistic I can be even though I claim to hate materialism. It was definitely a challenge, friends. With the holidays approaching during my shopping fast, I really wanted to stock up on holiday things. I will say that I bought a few Christmas decorations at the end of my time, but other than that, I didn't buy any clothes and limited the times that I "treated" myself.

In November, I challenged myself to play with the clothes that I already own by completing a style a challenge. During my #newstyleNovember challenge, I wore a different outfit for each day of November with the clothes I already own. I mixed and matched what I owned, creating a capsule wardrobe of sorts. This challenge has only further inspired me to continue to purge my closet. There are some items that I am so tempted to hold on to for sentimental reasons, but I really just need to let them go and declutter.

This challenge is one that I would recommend to anyone who's looking to simplify. After this challenge ended, Rory and I went shopping for a few "essential" clothing items, but I haven't gone crazy. I bought a couple shirts and a scarf, but they are replacing some things I already have that I just don't love. There is a yearning deep within me to simplify, and I am just tired of mountains of laundry! Anyone else?

The root of greed and materialism lies in a heart of discontentment- a heart that feels like having more things will somehow elevate one's status or make other things in their life that aren't good enough "better." What a pile of lies. When I go shopping or get myself a treat to eat/drink to make myself "feel better," all I am doing is masking the real problem. I'm hiding behind something tangible when there could be something I just need to bring to Jesus. I hope that the Lord continues to strip me of my desire to self-soothe with an easy fix and helps me come to Him with everything and allow Him to be my healer.

There are people around the world who have one outfit to choose from. They have one plate or one blanket or none. And while I can't call myself a millionaire, I know that I am rich. I have been given much, and to whom much is given, much is required. I want to be a generous person, and I want to enjoy what I have. I don't want to be stingy or let what I own own me. In an age of acquisition and so many possessions, I want to truly believe that less is more. Is anyone else with me?

Thursday, December 8, 2016

December Goals




Ok my friends. December is here and is in full swing. Christmas is in seventeen days, folks. THIS IS NOT A DRILL. Rory and I watched Elf last night, so the Christmas season is truly here. I've been listening to Christmas music since September October anyways, sooooo...

November was a full month, friends! We had not one, but three Thanksgiving celebrations. We enjoyed an "interns-giving" with all the interns from church, then we had my former class from Downtown Academy over to our house the Sunday before Thanksgiving. And last but certainly not least, we had Thanksgiving Day with family here in town! I cooked two turkeys and ate a lot of mashed potatoes. I'd say Thanksgiving was a success.

As always, I've pulled out my Powersheets to help me focus on this last month of 2016. It is hard to believe we are about to say goodbye to 2016, but we are, and I am so excited about what God has in store for 2017. Here's what I was working on in November:

Monthly
begin writing my next book, Already Chosen (more on that soon!)
blog plan for December
December meal planning
Christmas shopping list
Christmas menu planning
December budget

Weekly
work out more days than not (how's that for grace?!)
walk dogs more at least every other day
call a friend
call a family member
listen to James 

Daily
pray
read the Word
encourage Ror
encourage someone else



The Nitty Gritty

Ok, can I be totally honest? November flew by and I barely looked at my goals. I had them in my mind and was kind of casually working on them, but I pulled out my Powersheets at the end of the month at the beginning of December and realized there were a few things I needed to get crankin' on!
I actually did some meal planning at the beginning of this month. Oops. However, we do have Christmas taken care of, so that's exciting and relieving all at once. I worked out a little bit but not much. We did, however, take the dogs to the trails by our house a few times, which was fun for us and them.

What I Was Grateful for in November

November was a month full of gatherings, as per usual. I was incredibly grateful for all of the time I got to spend with the interns from church and am loving all of those fun relationships. It is also really fun to watch them interact together; we have a real sense of community within the group, which is very special. I got to speak at The Bridge, our college gathering, which was super fun. We also had a wreath-making party for the intern girls at our house, which was a blast. On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, Rory and I watched the entire Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life series, which I am still recovering from emotionally. Anyone else? Please debrief with me! We also had the privilege of attending a house blessing at my Nanny's home, which was really special for me. My sweet Nanny died two years ago, but her home is still in the family, which I am grateful for. Friends came to visit us in November, and we watched a lot of football. It was a really good month.



What I'm Working on in December

Monthly

work on Already Chosen
finish Blog Life class
meal plan January
enjoy Christmas!
blog plan January
work on training Tybee

Weekly

work out 5x a week
walk pups 4x a week (maybe 3?)
blog at least 3x a week
look at budget and enter purchases into Every Dollar app
listen to/read James!
family worship 4 nights a week

Daily

NO PHONE ZONE 7am-7pm: put it away from myself when we are home; don't take it out when with others, no social media during those hours
read the Word
pray
encourage Ror
encourage someone else

What are you working on friends?

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Currently: December



It's finally here, friends. The most wonderful time of the year is finally here. I love that we gather our people during this time. We eat, laugh, and get to spend time just being. There is something so sweet about that. Here's what's going on currently:

Doing: A lot of reading. I have been reading before bed each night and am so enjoying that practice- it calms my mind!
Enjoying: I am greatly enjoying any time that I get with our interns, specifically the intern girls. They are such a joy and bright spot in my life.
Cooking: So. many. things. I tried my hand at bacon wrapped jalapeƱo poppers the other night, and they were super spicy but delicious. I've also been making lots of yummy soups, stews, and chilis.
Wrapping: I confess I haven't started wrapping my gifts yet, but I will be soon! I love gift giving. :)
Playing: Christmas music ALL THE TIME. All. the. time.

Linking up with Anne and Kellie today! 

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

My Oily Day

So if you follow me on Instagram or we are friends on Facebook, you may have seen lately that I've gotten into essential oils lately. :) It's been such a fun journey, my friends. Since lots of friends have asked me about how I use the oils and what I use them for, I decided it was time to share how I use them each day. Here's what a day in the oily life looks like for me:



Morning

In the morning, the first thing I do is have my quiet time. I like to do it first thing because otherwise life happens. I take my diffuser to my little "office space" and use a combination of oils to support a clear and focused mind. Some of my favorite combos are:

Stress Away + peppermint + lemon

frankincense + peppermint

lemon + lime + peppermint

After I get out of the shower and am "doing my face," I add a couple drops of tea tree, lavender, and frankincense to my moisturizer to fight yucky acne and take care of old blemish scars. Before I head to work, I put a couple drops of Progessence Plus on my abdomen, neck, or wrists for hormonal support. I'll also sometimes leave the diffuser going in our den so that the pups are calm and it doesn't stink when I get home. :)

At Work

If things get stressful or I'm overwhelmed, I roll some Stress Away on my wrists to help me chill the mess out. :) In that afternoon slump when I've got a full tummy and am feeling lethargic or sleepy, I roll on a blend called Uplift that has grapefruit and some other yummy scents that are super uplifting.



After Dinner

Real life y'all, sometimes I eat too much or I really want to eat things that I know don't agree with my tummy. In situations like this, it is DiGize and peppermint to the rescue. DiGize is a blend of Tarragon, Ginger, Peppermint, Juniper, Fennel, Lemongrass, Anise, and Patchouli essential oils and is a miracle worker for upset tummies. Peppermint is also a huge support for digestive issues and has such a clean and fresh taste. 

Chores

I don't know about y'all, but sometimes the laundry seems never ending and the bathrooms seem like they're never clean. Womp womp. I use oils on my wool dryer balls to make our clothes smell super lovely, and I clean pretty much the entire house with ONE PRODUCT. Y'all, one cleaner for everything is pretty wonderful. Love love love my Thieves household cleaner. 




Evenings

If we're at home for the night, we like to put on a movie or do our family worship after dinner in our little media room. I like to diffuse whatever I'm in the mood for, and these days it is usually something Christmasy, like:

Thieves + peppermint

Christmas Spirit + peppermint + lemon

frankincense + Christmas Spirit

I also tried lavender + lime the other day and LOVED it. :)

Bedtime

Y'all, I am just about the worst sleeper there is, but oils have helped me so much in this area. Every night before bed I diffuse lavender and cedarwood and also roll those two on my wrists. I also use a couple more drops of Progressence Plus for more hormonal support. I sometimes will roll some Thieves on my feet and chest for immunity support.

Well, my friends, that was a lot of oils. But it's a day in the life! If you've got questions, I'm here for you. I love these little bottles of plant juice! 

Monday, December 5, 2016

#weread2016: All the Pretty Things Review


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Ok y'all. I have been a reading fiend the last couple months. There is just something so soothing and calming about curling up with a good book. Lately I have loved taking long hot baths with a couple drops of essential oils at night to unwind. It is THE BEST. But I digress.

Friends, I randomly stumbled across Edie Wadsworth's Instagram profile a few months back and was intrigued. Not only does she have a beautiful feed, but she is just an amazing individual. I could tell that she had something valuable to say to the world.

Imagine my delight when we were able to get a free copy of her new book, All the Pretty Things via the Influence Network for our book clubs! I was so super pumped. Friends, this book will not disappoint. It is so harrowingly beautiful. As I read, I kept shaking my head in disbelief. The entire work read like a novel, but it was her life's story, a memoir unlike any other I have read. This story was one of trials, extreme adversity, heartache, and strife. But it was also one of triumph, hope, and love.

Edie beautifully and gracefully tells the story of her life with an alcoholic father as she grew up in the foothills of Appalachia in Tennessee. She shares details of her growing up years and the family situations she witnessed, and she explains the impact her teachers and other adults had in her life. She later describes how she came to know Christ and how He changed everything in her life.

Above all, this is the story of my homecoming; the demons that are always holding me back and the legions of angels that keep me safe along the way; the way everything was always falling apart and the beautiful ways God has been piecing it back together; the dark and lonely parts where God dazzled me with His light shining deep into my heart; the way I was always trying to hid and the way He never stopped finding me. 

Her love for her father is unconditional, and as she tells their story, you find yourself rooting for her and for him. This memoir is one that will stay with me for a while as I am constantly reminded of the fact that God can use anyone for anything for the glory of His name. When I reflect on Edie's story, yes, I am impressed by her fortitude. But even more so, I'm amazed at our good God and encouraged to share my story to encourage others.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Fashion Friday

Well, friends, I did it. For every day of November, I wore a different outfit. It was a lot of fun, and I liked mixing and matching my clothes. I am also inspired to purge my closet even further of the things that I just don't wear or don't really like that much. This month, I am technically "free" to buy more clothes and shop again. I think I am going to purchase a couple staple items and then continue in January with my no shopping rule. Or at least purchase more things second hand. I greatly enjoyed this challenge and would recommend it to anyone!

Here's the last few outfits of my #newstyleNovember challenge:





And that's a wrap, folks! :)

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Let Us Adore Him: An Advent Journey



I don't know about y'all, but I just love Christmas oh so much. The beauty of this time of year astounds me. There is so much hope and joy in the air. And yet I also understand the bleakness of winter. It can be hard to hold on to hope when everything around you is dying or isn't quite the stuff of Hallmark Christmas movies. I wrote a devotional series for Advent that is focused on 1) the call on Mary's life to bear the Son of God and 2) the amazing story God wrote for us through Jesus Christ, His Son. This devotional is just five days long, so you can make it work for you however you would like! The only thing you have to do is:

1) Subscribe to receive my blog posts via email. You can find the "Follow by Email" box in the right side bar. Just enter your email address and follow the directions sent to you via email, and voila! You're done.



2) Leave a comment on this post with your email, and I'll pop the devo into your inbox. Done and done.

Merry Christmas, friends. Let us adore Him.

Monday, November 28, 2016

#sistersofinfluence: Rachael Milner

Today I have the privilege of introducing you to sweet Rachael Milner. She and I met at the Influence Conference in April (I feel like I've said that about the last few Sisters of Influence :)). I first was introduced to her via Instagram, though! She has a beautiful page in which she shares her beautiful art through Bible journaling. She has a gift, friends! You will be encouraged by her heart and life. 



Tell us about yourself. Who are you?

Hi friends! My name is Rachael Milner. If we were in person, I'd probably give you a hug and pull up a chair so we could get to know one another. I love the Lord and have been walking with Him for twenty-one years. I married my best friend, Ethan, who I met in middle school at the same church where I work now. We live in Birmingham, Alabama and have an adorable dog named Lainey (no kids yet, but we would love to adopt one day!) I work part-time for two ministries that I absolutely love. I do Girls College Ministry at Shades Mountain Baptist Church where I get to spend my time investing in girls, leading our discipleship programs, designing for our ministry, and planning and leading mission trips. I also work with Life Lived Beautifully, where I get to direct social media for the Shop and help with design and writing and a few others things. I do a good bit of freelance work on the side and have an Etsy shop for fun!

How did you come to know the Lord?

I accepted Christ at a young age, just five years old. I grew up in church about as often as the doors were open since my mom has played the piano here for years - so I was very familiar with God, who Jesus was, and what the Bible said about Him, even before kindergarten. My relationship really began to flourish when I was twelve years old. The Lord spoke clearly to me that I was called to ministry and that He had big plans for me, but I couldn't wait to become a "grown-up" before I started walking with Him. From that summer after my 7th grade year until now, it's been one huge, ongoing, life-changing journey of walking with the Lord. 

What do you think it means to be a woman of influence right where you are?

I fully believe that God does not allow us to be planted where we are by mistake. Any people you see regularly, whether that's your family, your friends, your co-workers, your classmates - those are people you have influence with. It may not feel like much or it may not be the people you would like to have influence with, but God has put you there for a time and a purpose. So I believe that being a woman of influence means taking advantage of that opportunity, sharing the love of God with those people, and actively seeking Jesus in all that you say and do in those relationships. This could even be how you use social media, how you speak to people in conversations, or how you encourage others when they need it most. Using those opportunities one at a time to honor God creates a lasting influence that can point people back to Him!



How does the Lord allow you to shine His light through your art?

I know without a doubt that anything good about me is from Jesus. Recently I've been humbled again and again as God is pointing out sin in my heart that needs pruning or surrendering. So when it comes to art and creating, I know that those are merely gifts from a gracious Father - and I want to glorify Him through using those in every way possible. I love to create art that can be a reminder of truth - whether that's a favorite verse, a promise to cling to, or just a simple reminder to stop and think about the goodness of God in your life. I also love to work on projects for friends and use that time that I'm designing, painting, writing to pray for them and whatever season of life they are in currently. Those are some sweet moments between me and God!

What is the best piece of marriage advice you've been given?

Honestly, it was something that my husband said to a girl I was discipling in our first year of marriage. I love that it came from him, because I see him actively living these words out in our relationship. He told her to love Jesus more than she loved herself or her spouse, and everything else would follow suit. It's so easy to get caught up in pursuing the best possible marriage or longing for the love, affection or approval we crave from our spouse - but when we start seeking that more than we are seeking Jesus, it doesn't take long for everything to feel off. We have to love Jesus first and more than our husband, then serve and love him out of the overflow of our heart!

What is one thing you want the women of our generation to remember?

That anything good about us or in us is grace. I think we get so caught up wanting to be the best, have it all together, be known, etc. - but God is the one who is renewing and restoring us day by day. If we do something well, it's because of the talent He's poured into us. If we are great mothers, wives, friends - it's because of the love and grace He's shown us in relationship. When we start to make a name for ourselves and forget that this little life is actually about making His name known, our days will be just a shell of the abundant life that He's invited us into!



What is your favorite verse or passage of Scripture?

Philippians 4 is a favorite passage for sure. I struggle with anxiety and depression, so the words of promise and peace that come from those verses are some that I've clung to in a lot of hard seasons. God has taught me so much about surrendering my anxiety to Him and trusting Him to provide all that I need. I also love Psalm 145:16, so much that it's tattooed on my wrist. The promise that God opens His hand to us to satisfy our every desire - it's something that blows my mind! It also reminds me not to hold onto anything too tightly, because when our fists are closed shut we cannot receive the grace He freely gives.

What is one truth you want others to remember and cling to?

Honestly what I shared about Psalm 145:16 is probably the one truth I remind others of as much as possible. God satisfies, He sees, and He is capable of working and providing in our situation beyond what we can comprehend. When we grasp tightly to the fleeting we miss out on the opportunity to experience the eternal - and that's no way to live when we've been redeemed by a holy Father!

And last but not least: coffee or tea?


Tea all the way! Recently I discovered Bigelow's Pumpkin Spice Tea and I drink it every single morning with a splash of milk. Also, if it were healthy in any way, I'd have a permanent cup of sweet tea in my hand. It's always been my favorite! :)

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thankful Thursday


It is hard to believe that it is Thanksgiving Day, but alas, we are here, and I'm not mad about it. I have so many things to be grateful for today and every day, for that matter. God is so very good, my friends. Here's what I'm thankful for today:


  • my ever-supportive and patient husband
  • our puppies
  • our beautiful home
  • my sweet Downtown Academy babies
  • four Thanksgiving celebrations
  • my health
  • my amazing job
  • the sweet interns
  • two cars that are paid off/minimal debt
  • my in-laws' relocation to Watkinsville
  • my kind and generous parents
  • my sister
  • my best friends
  • the amazing love the Father lavishes on me every single day
And y'all, if you haven't yet, listen to this song. We sing it in church sometimes, and I just feel it is so apt for today. I love you, friends. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

An Questionnaire for the Hubs


So there is this silly little Facebook status/game thingy going around, and I decided to drink the Kool-Aid, because I just wanted to know what Ror would say as he answered these questions. He got most of them right! It would be a little concerning if he didn't...

WITHOUT prompting, ask your husband these questions and write EXACTLY what they say. The outcome can be hilarious!

What makes me happy?
  • Food
What makes me sad?
  • Injustice
What's something I say often?
  • You know?
How tall am I?
  • 5'9"? (WRONG! I’m 5’ 7 ¾”) :)
What's my favorite thing to do?
  • Read
What do I do when you're not around?
  • Take baths (LOL so true)
If I become famous, what will it be for?
  • Writing books (swoon)
What makes you proud of me?
  • Your heart for other people
What is my favorite food?
  • Mexican
What is my favorite restaurant?
  • Trappeze (maybe...I’m not even sure I know what my favorite restaurant is because I have too many favorites.)
If I could go anywhere, where would it be?
  • Uganda
Do you think you could live without me?
  • No.
How do I annoy you?
When you block my path or when you keep me up at night. (Like when I won’t stop talking and get deliriously tired and silly, hahahaha.)
What is my favorite tv show?
  • Downton
Where can I be found?
  • On the couch under a blanket
What is one thing I'm not good at?
  • Whispering (LOL)
What is your favorite thing I cook?
  • Mexican
Who's my favorite person?
  • Me


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