Friday, January 27, 2017

My Healthy Day: Week 4

{Full disclosure: this frittata had cheese, which I'm trying to avoid. But it was so dang good!}
Well, friends, last week was a doozy, and I didn't put together a post for you. I know you were waiting with baited breath and all, but here goes a post in which I share with you two weeks worth of info! I'll do my best to keep it short and sweet, because we've all got lives to lead. :)

EXERCISE

Walking the neighborhood in the mornings, with a *little* running
PopSugar  15-minute full-body workout (I shouldn't have done this on Monday; I was sore for three days.)
Blogilates morning workout
Blogilates stretch routine

FOOD

Tomato Herb Rice with White Beans and Spinach
Zucchini and Orzo Salad with Chimichurri (I added chicken to it for some protein.)
White Bean Shakshuka with toasted naan
Slow Cooker Salsa Verde Chicken Bowls
Mediterranean Farro Salad with Chickpeas
Tilapia with veggies and barley
Slow Cooker Chicken 

WELLNESS

I've still been taking my Ningxia Red on the daily, and I've added it to my breakfast smoothies! Rory and I used a Target gift card we had to get a SodaStream Fizzi sparkling water maker and are in love! It is going to save us so much money on La Croix. (insert laughing emoji here) We just add a drop or two of an essential oil to it, and voila! Deliciousness.

I will say that there are times when I just want to eat the things that are the very worst for you, but I'm finding that I am more and more motivate by how I feel after I ate something. Case in point, earlier this week I scarfed some Goldfish when I got the afternoon munchies, and I immediately regretted it. Today I grabbed an apple instead, and I feel so much better!

How are you doing on your health and wellness goals, friends?

Thursday, January 26, 2017

A Wardrobe Challenge: #funflirtyFebruary




So back in November, I decided to take a chance and challenge myself to rotate all of the items in my wardrobe and wear a new outfit every day. Well, friends, the style challenge is on again for the month of February! I am a big hater of the cold weather, and honestly I just want to live in my yoga pants, slippers,  and sweatshirts at this time. But alas, that's not exactly professional. Enter Fun Flirty February! For the month of February, I'll be wearing a different outfit each day and posting on Instagram on Monday-Friday. If you're up to the challenge, post your outfit of the day with the hashtag #funflirtyFebruary. I can't wait to see all of your fun looks, friends! Just like last time, I'll be posting here on Fridays with all of my looks from the previous week for a Fashion Friday post. Hopefully my Instagram Husband won't mind playing along. :)

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Why I Quit Taking the Pill

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So I wasn't totally sure I wanted to write this post, but here I go. :) I figure you guys know me and we are friends here. And friends tell each other things, so I'm here to tell it all. Well, not all but a lot.

As a rule, I've pretty much always struggled with very heavy and painful periods. It's just something that I thought was like my cross to bear. Whenever I would go for my "lady checkup," my doctor would always ask me if I wanted to try birth control to help alleviate the symptoms I was experiencing, but I would always decline the offer. It really freaked me out to think about taking a medicine that I didn't really know about or to have my hormones potentially jacked up. I always would say, "Oh, it's ok, I can manage the pain."

Enter marriage. I started taking the pill a few months before we got married because that's what everyone said you're supposed to do. I wasn't super thrilled about it, but I also knew we didn't want a honeymoon baby. So. The pill it was.

The first couple months I didn't really notice much of a difference, but as I began to take stock and think about how my periods had been before the pill, I realized that it was considerably helping my symptoms. I was pretty excited about that and glad to have some physical relief.

After we came back from our honeymoon, I felt different. I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but something wasn't quite right. I was very tired and moody, and I just didn't feel like myself. Then, one day it dawned on me. What had I changed about my "normal" in the last few months (other than getting married)? My birth control. I had always heard how birth control can "make you crazy" but didn't think much of it.

If you're new around here, let me catch you up-we were engaged for three months after dating for six. There wasn't a whole lot of time to process life. It was kind of survival mode for a minute. So yes, during the engagement season, my emotions were often raw, but I just chalked it up to the joys stresses of wedding planning. But after we returned from our honeymoon and began to settle into what everyday life would look like, I knew something was off.


{via}

Friends, I was really scared at this time. It was honestly one of the hardest things I've ever been through. I felt so off and hated not being in control of my emotions. There were mornings when I didn't want to get out of bed and where I went in late to work because I couldn't stop crying. In fact, I pretty much cried all the time. Now, I'm an emotional person by nature; it doesn't take much for me to tear up. But this was something altogether different.

I called my doctor and switched my meds, and within a matter of weeks was feeling better. But in the spring, as Rory and I talked, I told him that I still felt like I wasn't quite back to myself-not yet 100%, anyways. So in May, we decided that I would quit taking birth control. I was nervous but also felt peace because I was tired of the way my hormones were being affected. There just wasn't much benefit for me.

Except there was a benefit-the lighter periods. My first period without the pill was incredibly uncomfortable and painful, and I was frankly frightened. I felt weak and was not sure what to do. What if I had made the wrong decision? Everyone takes the pill, why can't I handle it? But the Lord assured me that I needed to trust Him and that everything was going to be ok.

We had come to the conclusion that it was not worth it for me to be severely depressed just to experience physical relief a few days a month. When I have physical issues, Rory can help me by encouraging me to rest and by helping me out with things around the house. But when I'm not myself because my hormones are all of whack, it's a different story. I can't fully be me or all that God wants me to be when I feel so very out of control.

In the summer, I was still experiencing extremely heavy and painful periods, and they weren't getting any better. I told Rory that I thought it could be something serious, because it just didn't seem normal to have such a rough time each month. I called my doctor and explained my symptoms and asked that they do whatever they needed to do to get me some answers. I was tired of feeling confused and scared about the status of my health.

At my appointment at the end of June, I shared my symptoms with my nurse and was given an ultrasound and biopsy to see what exactly was going on with my gynecological health. Much to my surprise, they found uterine fibroids and a thick endometrium (lining of the uterus). I had heard of fibroids before but honestly wasn't quite sure what they were or how they could affect me. I learned that uterine fibroids are benign muscular tumors that grow within the uterus. The symptoms of uterine fibroids are:


  • Heavy bleeding (which can be heavy enough to cause anemia) or painful periods
  • Feeling of fullness in the pelvic area (lower stomach area)
  • Enlargement of the lower abdomen
  • Frequent urination
  • Lower back pain
Friends, I pretty much had all of those symptoms. It was a huge relief to know that I hadn't been making everything up in my head or just being dramatic for all these years. But I was also terrified and had a lot of questions.

How do I make the fibroids stop growing? Will I have problems having children? What if the fibroids keep growing? Why is this happening? Could I have made a different decision in the past that would have helped them to decrease in size? My head was spinning, and I got in the car to call Rory. He was so kind and patient (duh) and just said we would continue to pray and we would figure it out. 

The suggestions given to us by my health provider to help deal with the issues I was facing were as follows:

IUD
Birth control
Progesterone hormone pills
Surgery

So pretty much all not the greatest or most exciting options. We eliminated the IUD and surgery immediately, even thought it was tempting to think that a quick outpatient surgery might provide some relief. But the thing is with fibroids there is always a chance that they will come back. These dang things are really stubborn. So after praying and going back and forth and seeking counsel, we decided to go with a low-dose birth control. It was the same one I'd had in the past that made my periods better, but it was the lowest dose on the market. I literally couldn't have a lower dose. I was scared, because I knew that the full dose had made me severely depressed, but at this point I was willing to try anything that might bring even a hint of relief. 


{via}

Well, friends, turns out I am crazy sensitive to hormones. Even the slightest hint of them. So I thought I was ok for a few days, but then I started feeling "it" again- extreme lethargy and a whole lot of sadness. Tears. Mood swings. And I just wasn't about it. At this point I was feeling pretty discouraged and didn't know how to get relief from my periods. A good friend of mine told me about a book called Taking Charge of Your Fertility that is all about understanding how we were created. It definitely isn't from a Christian perspective, but as I read it, I was geeking out just a bit and completely in awe of how our Creator fashioned our bodies. He has made each one of us uniquely, but He has also placed in our bodies systems that give us signals and help us to know and understand just what is going on at every point in our cycles-if we know how to pay attention to them. These signs can help us either achieve or avoid pregnancy, all without the aid of any pharmaceuticals. I began charting my signs and paying attention to what my body was telling me in order to get a grasp on just what I was dealing with. 

At the end of August, I decided to purchase a starter kit from Young Living. I had read a lot about oils and how they were an amazing support for overall wellness. Well, friends, if you've been following along here for a while, you know that I fell in love. I was originally looking into them to help with natural solutions for everyday ailments, but I also was intrigued to see how they might help with my gynecological issues. 

I began using the oils and started to get more comfortable with them in my everyday life. I found that I was able to get some amazing sleep support with lavender, cedarwood and copaiba, and I loved the way Stress Away helped uplift my spirits. Peppermint was amazing to calm an upset tummy, and I just loved the fresh scent of lemon. 

All over the Facebook groups I was a part of, women were talking about Progessence Plus, a natural form of progesterone that was formulated to support women's health. I was intrigued, but I thought it was kind of weird, so I didn't take the plunge just yet. But I kept reading testimonials of how this oil blend had helped women who struggled with hormonal issues and wondered if it could help me. After using other oils in my everyday life for a couple months, I decided I would take a chance of P+ and added it to my monthly order of oils in October. 

To be honest, I didn't notice much of a change at first with the use of this oil. However, as I began to use it consistently over the course of a few months, I saw a difference in my PMS symptoms and also in the length of my periods. I still struggled with painful cramps, and there have been a couple days where I didn't go to work because I just couldn't bear it. But overall, I can say that the use of the oils I discovered has been a huge blessing and a positive support for my health and wellbeing. I have made a blend that I rub on my abdomen and lower back, and I try to give myself a lot of grace and long baths on those days. My cycle has definitely improved, and I am hopeful about how my hormones will continue to balance out with a good diet, the support of oils and lots of prayer

In November I went in for another check-up, and they were concerned about a fibroid that they found and hoped that it was not inside my uterus. They recommended surgery again and said that it was the only way to see the exact location of the fibroid. They also wanted to remove it and perform a D&C. Well, my friends, I had absolutely no peace about the prospect of surgery. Praise the Lord, I was able to see another doctor for a second opinion, and he said that I definitely didn't need surgery. The ultrasound tech was also able to pinpoint the exact location of the fibroid, and right now it's not in a perilous position, so we are hoping it either shrinks or stays put!

Navigating through all of this hasn't been easy. I've cried a lot, been scared, and wondered what it all means and why it's all happening. But I have been comforted in knowing that God is sovereign and that He is omniscient. I share all of this with you not to say, "look at me," but rather to say "look at God." I'm so grateful that He is my Creator and knows every part of me. None of this surprises Him and none of it is too big for Him. I'm also glad that I can rest in the truth that He is my healer and that He desires wholeness and wellness-whether it's achieved on this side of heaven or not. 

Seasonal Decor on the Cheap

Last year, I cried when we took our Christmas tree down. The struggle was real. But this year, I was prepared. I knew our home just need a little something to keep the spirits high. So I decided to decorate for Valentine's Day! I used some things that I already had around the house but hadn't put up on the walls, and the Target bargain section was just the place for a couple sweet touches! :)


{Print from Southern Weddings}

{Picture from a wedding shower= free! Flowers from Amazon, vase from Real Deals}

Do you decorate your house seasonally? How do you do it for cheap?

Thursday, January 19, 2017

#weread2016: Uninvited Review



I can remember times in my life where rejection and the pain of feeling left behind was so intense that it felt like a physical breaking of my very heart. There have been times where I have had expectations for relationships but they just haven't turned out the way I had hoped or planned. Other times I have been the one doing the hurting as I have acted indifferently or unfairly. Every single person has dealt with heartache, whether "big" or "small." We all have experiences that have given us scars and stories we'd rather keep to ourselves.

Rejection isn't just an emotion we feel. It's a message that's sent to the core of who we are, causing us to believe lies about ourselves, others, and God. - Uninvited

But God. God is rich in mercy and love and full of compassion for our weary hearts and our wandering eyes. He is close to the brokenhearted and ready to receive us when we come to Him with our broken hearts, our dying dreams, and our unending disappointments.

In Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely, Lysa TerKeurst vulnerably shares her stories of less than moments. She gives us a glimpse into her world- the good, the bad, and the ugly. And because she shares from her real places, she invites you to take a look at the places in your  heart where you've allowed feelings of rejection to steal your joy or plant roots of bitterness. There is so much room for heartbreak in our world, friends. We can easily get offended, we can walk through valleys, or sometimes, someone can just cut us off in traffic at the very worst time.

The more fully we invited God in, the less we will feel uninvited by others. - Uninvited

This book is one I recommend for every woman at any stage. It helps to know you're not alone when you read through the trials and triumphs of a Christian "celebrity" who you might be tempted to think has it all together. But Lysa gently points the reader to God's word over and over and over again with what she calls "sticky statements" that stick to you and help you to remember the truth over the lies. If you struggle with insecurity in any way (every woman raises their hand) then get a copy of this book and keep it as a reference for encouraging truth.


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

A Book Tour

Hello, my dear friends! Today I want to tell you a little more about the Proverbs 31 devotional I wrote and give you a glimpse into what you get when you order the print version. Enjoy this video, and if you're reading along, don't forget to share so I can see! You can tag your posts with the hashtag #alifeoftruthandgrace. Love you friends!


video

Monday, January 16, 2017

Happy 30th Birthday, Cortney!



Today is a very special day. Not only is it Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, but it is also my sweet best friend's thirtieth birthday!!! I am so so excited to celebrate her and see her in two short weeks. Today this little space is dedicated to her as I tell thirty things that I love about her and share some of my favorite memories we've made together.

1. Cortney is passionate. She doesn't do things half-heartedly.
2. She is beautiful inside and out!
3. Her joy radiates from Jesus.
4. Her smile lights up her face.
5. She has a hilarious laugh.
6. She is goofy. :)
7. She doesn't take life or herself too seriously.
8. She loves kids.
9. Cort is an incredible songwriter.
10. Her dreams are big.
11. Her heart is pure and kind.
12. She's a giver.
13. We got to lead worship together for a couple years and it was oh so fun.
14. Speaking of leading worship, she did all the music at our wedding and it was amazing.
15. Cort is humble and doesn't demand the spotlight.
16. She. loves. Jesus.
17. She's not afraid of real talk.
18. She's not really afraid of much, actually.
19. She will do anything for those she loves.
20. She is a BOMB soccer player.
21. She takes care of herself.
22. She takes care of others.
23. Nothing is too small or menial for her- she has a servant's heart.
24. She's honest.
25. She asks the hard questions.
26. She gives specific encouragement at just the right moment.
27. She is loyal.
28. She is funny.
29. Cort has a tender heart.
30. She can talk to anyone about anything.

I love you Cort! I'm so blessed to have you as my friend and know that everyone who knows you is grateful to have you in their life. Have the BEST day today!

Friday, January 13, 2017

My Healthy Day Check-In: Week 2



Ok, my friends. It is week 2. How is everyone feeling? I've been trying to drink a lot of water this week, as well as get moving early in the morning even when I want to stay in bed. Here's what I've been up to this week:

EXERCISE

Blogilates arms challenge (I may have done a bunch of days one day when I got behind and kind of regretted it...)
WW 30 minute dance workout
25 minute neighborhood walk/run

Some of you may know that in the past, B.R. (Before Rory) I was a half-marathon runner. Well, my friends, that has not been a part of my life for quite some time now. I enjoy running, but haven't had the time to commit to training well for a race. I've thought about running another half, but it scares me. Enter the Chick-fil-A Half the Half Race. This is quite exciting, because I'll feel like I'm doing a big race but will only run half the distance! My friend Hannah and I will start training together for our 6.55 mile race soon, and we will run on April 1!

FOOD

We ate a lot of leftovers this week. We had food that we hadn't used, so we decided to forgo a big grocery trip in hopes of saving money, and we did!

Crockpot Mexican Chicken Tacos
Hearty Vegetable Soup with Gnocchi from the She Reads Truth Advent book
Roasted Salmon with Squash
Baked Potatoes with leftover chicken

WELLNESS

This week my NingXia Red arrived! NingXia is an amazing blend of super fruits that is amazing for overall wellness and is a great source of antioxidants. I have been taking some every morning and am super pumped to see how I feel after a month of use. :) I also received my FemiGen capsules and have been taking two each morning. This week I'm unfortunately on antibiotics, so I've felt a little out of whack. I've been using lemon on my chest and in my tea along with Thieves to help combat any infection and seasonal ickiness with all these crazy weather changes, and I've also been using my diffuser at work to clean the air and brighten my spirits. :)

How are you doing, friends? Have you taken any baby steps to wellness so far this year?

Thursday, January 12, 2017

For When You're Feeling Left Behind

{via}

Let's face it, friends. We are all waiting for something. Maybe you're waiting to graduate, get married, have a baby, buy a house, get a job...the possibilities are endless. Maybe you're literally waiting in line as you read this and scroll through the post on your phone. We all know the agony of waiting for something that we long for and want so bad it hurts. But what do we do when that thing doesn't come when or how we want it? What if we've been waiting on it for a long time and there seems to be no hope on the horizon? How do we know when it's time to move on from a dream?

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life. - Proverbs 13:12

In middle school, I couldn't wait to be in high school. In high school, I couldn't wait to drive and go to college. In college, I couldn't wait to have a boyfriend. In my early twenties, I still couldn't wait to have a boyfriend. When I *finally* got a boyfriend, I couldn't wait to get married. Now that we're married, I can't wait to have a baby. 

When does it stop?

Comparison isn't just the thief of joy, it's the thief of everything. Keep your eyes on your purposeful path. Celebrate others... Cultivate gratitude over comparison. Gratitude turns what we have into more than enough. - Lara Casey

You know what they say, friends. The grass is always greener on the other side, but someone's got to mow it. Here's what I've learned and what I know to be true: coveting and comparison are a certain death to the heart. There is no joy in wanting your neighbor's story, house, car, job, wardrobe, etc. There is no life in wishing away your day and daydreaming about the "someday" when your life will be made new and your dreams will come true. There is no hope found in placing your entire worth in nominal things. None.

I have spent so much time longing and pining for the next season in pretty much every season  of my life. Where is the joy in that? There isn't any. There can't be any. Because God didn't give us today for the next season or for tomorrow. He gave us today for today's sake. It's a gift to be cherished and there is amazing work being done in, through, and around us, if we look up to see it. 

It is so very easy to look around in whatever stage you find yourself and feel as though you are being left behind. I've been there, and I really do get it. I got my license a few months (maybe it was weeks, but to a sixteen year old it felt like years) late. I didn't kiss a boy until I was twenty-six. I was in six weddings before I was the bride. I. get. it. 

But friends. When we compare our story to our friend's story, we are saying to God that what He has given us just isn't quite enough. It doesn't quite fit the ticket. And that's not aligning our hearts with truth. It's not walking in confidence of His promises. And it's certainly not living surrendered.

Here's my hope. My hope is that we live lives of gratitude and complete surrender, knowing that we can run our race and say thank you every step of the way. Because He's right there with us and He's got amazing plans for us that are so beyond our wildest dreams. It just means we need to get out of the way. And I don't know about you, but I could stand to get out of the way more often than I'd like to admit. May we rest in His grace and know His embrace.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Proverbs 31 Paperback Release

Ok friends, you asked, and we delivered. The Proverbs 31: A Life of Truth and Grace devotional is now available as a paperback! My incredible sister-in-law Whitney worked so hard to make the cover oh so perfect, and my sweet friend Courtney did an amazing job with making the inside pages just amazing. I don't know about y'all, but for a devotional book, I like to have space to write and underline, and I want to hold it in my hands. Getting it on Kindle was pretty easy and not hard to do, and when I found out that making a paperback version wasn't that difficult, either, I knew it was time. So many people asked for it back in the fall!



Here's what you can enjoy in the print version of the devotional:

A size that's easy to take with you

A two-page spread for each day

Space to journal your thoughts and response








Thanks for being a part of this journey, friends! I am so excited to see what God does as more people discover the truth of what it means to be a woman transformed by His truth and grace! If you're reading along, post to Instagram with the hashtag #alifeoftruthandgrace so that we can encourage one another!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Reader Survey 2017

Hello my friends! It's that time of year again! Reader survey time is here. I want to know your thoughts about this little space of the internet, because I'm always looking for ways to improve! There are only five questions, and you can win a copy of my devotional! For anyone who completes the survey between today and Wednesday, you will be entered into a drawing for a devotional sent straight to you! Thanks for reading, friends. I'm working hard to make this space a great place for you.

Friday, January 6, 2017

My Healthy Day Check-In: Week 1



Okay my friends. We are officially through our first week of 2017! Wow, that is crazy to think about and say! This week I tried to make some baby steps to implement change in my routine, and so far, I am really liking it! Here's what I did this week:

EXERCISE

Blogilates workouts
Blogilates 30-day arm challenge
25 minute neighborhood walk
20 minute WW Cardio Dance



FOOD

Breakfast:

Fruit Smoothies
Hot tea
Oatmeal with dried cranberries, chia seeds, and a tad of brown sugar

Lunch:

Leftovers from dinner at home
BIG salad from Marti's at Midday that has lasted me a few days :)

Dinner:

Leftovers
Broiled Balsamic Veggies with Couscous
Pressure Cooker Chicken and Farro
Chicken Enchilada Soup




WELLNESS

I'm still waiting on my fun supplements to arrive from Young Living, but I've been using Ningxia Nitro as an alternative to a caffeine boost for the inevitable afternoon slump. It's been a huge help and I am grateful for it!

How are you doing so far, friends? It's never too late to start over, so give yourself a little grace if you didn't do all that you wanted to this week. :)


Thursday, January 5, 2017

#weread2016: Unashamed Review



Yes, I know that it is the year 2017. However, I read this book in 2016 and am slowly catching up on providing reviews for you, my friends! I first heard Christine Caine speak at the 2012 Passion conference and was immediately moved by her zeal for the Lord. This woman is the real deal, y'all. She knows the Word inside and out, she is real and vulnerable, and she gives you a reason to believe that God has a great plan for you right where you are. Her desire to set others free by working with those who are marginalized, overlooked, and abused is inspiring, and her words are never used without great consideration for how they will affect those upon whom they land.

I read Undaunted over the summer and absolutely loved it, so I knew that Unashamed wouldn't disappoint either. Unashamed: Drop the Baggage, Pick Up Your Freedom, Fulfill Your Destiny is not a book that is easily devoured. It packs a punch and goes straight to your soul. Christine writes about the power of shame- how it creeps in to every corner of our lives, us seemingly unaware yet deeply affected by its prowess. She explains how she lived for so many years telling others about the power of Jesus to set us free but could hardly believe it for herself.

This book is one that I will reference for years to come. Christine challenges the reader to embrace the power of the Holy Spirit within by allowing Him to speak truth into the dark corners that have been consumed by lies. Her honest writing is comforting and helps us to understand that even Christian "celebrities" have struggles, too. And yet within her struggles she exposes the light of hope that exists when we find ourselves at the feet of Jesus.

Fighting for our personal freedom from shame is a choice that we make, and we make it over and over and over again. And that's all right! This is expected from here until heaven, and there is no shame in this process- in this journey!

We all have walls to overcome- those seemingly impenetrable forces standing between us and our freedom from shame. They can be walls of sin, as my unforgiveness was, or a circumstance in our lives we have to emotionally and physically overcome- such as being a single mom, or suffering a great financial loss, or losing a job. Walls are anything that have the power to make us feel trapped in shame. They can be rooted in something we did or in something done to us. Either way, their sheer height and thickness make them ominous to us until that turning-point movement when we trust God like never before in that area-when we believe the power of his Word more than we believe in the power of our circumstances. 

Is shame something you struggle with each day? Do you struggle with not feeling good enough- ever? Do you want to find freedom and experience victory? I know that I can answer in the affirmative to all of those questions. And if you're like me, you will be encouraged by this book that points us to the only One who can bear our shame and give us freedom in all things.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Currently: January



Today I am so excited, because for the first time, I am co-hosting the monthly currently link-up with Anne of Anne In Residence! I've loved doing these currently link-ups for the past couple years. It is so fun to see what others are up to in their neck of the woods. So here we go, friends! I can't wait to read about what others are enjoying in this first month of 2017. Here's what's going on with me:

Gathering: December is known as a month where you gather friends and family in your home as you celebrate holidays with those you love the most. January can kind of be a "down" month where it's hard to get your wits about you. I hope to continue to gather my friends and family, even though the holidays are behind us.
Making: It's January, which means it is the month of resolutions and new beginnings. I've been making all kinds of plans about how to get healthy and take care of myself. I'd love for you to join me!
Sipping: I am loving my favorite tea by Harney and Sons called Hot Cinnamon Sunset. It is strong and refreshing and has just the right amount of kick and spice to it.
Following: This month, I am following the advice of my husband and taking things one day at time. I'm practicing giving myself grace and hoping that I can do the same to and for others.
Resolving: I am resolving to rest in Jesus this year. It is hard for me to quit the striving and just abide, but I'm hoping that I can learn to do just that.

What's going on with you currently, my friends?

   

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

My One Little Word and 2017 Goals




Y'all, 2016 is over. It is hard to believe that it is in the past, but it is. 2016 is behind us, and 2017 is moving on, full steam ahead. 2016 was quite the year- we bought a house, went on lots of fun trips- big and small, I made new friends, met one of my favorite authors, wrote a book, and we celebrated our first year of marriage. Oh, and I got a new job. Wow! 2016 was not one to disappoint. There were trials and valleys, but at the end, I could still say that God is good and that He is faithful. He did so much in my heart and life through 2016, and I am very excited about all that He has in store for us in 2017.

Last year, my word for the year was trust. I really felt like I needed to relearn how to trust the Lord in all things and in every season. Obviously I am not perfect at this now that the calendar reads January. However, I can say that as I look back at 2016, I am in awe at how His perfect plan is evidence of His goodness, kindness, and faithfulness. He never ever disappoints, and His ways are always good.

Looking ahead to the new year, I felt the Holy Spirit telling me that it was time to learn to abide. Google tells me that the "archaic" definition of abide means to live or dwell. Well, my friends, this year I want to abide. I want to linger with Jesus and fall in love with Him all over again.

It may seem odd to talk about abiding and then move into my goals for the year, but the goals I have are all from that same heart- the heart that longs to abide and to please Jesus with each decision I make, big or small. I'm nowhere close to perfect, but I want to love Him more at the end of 2017.

As always, I used my Powersheets from the Cultivate What Matters shop to help me think through my goals for the year and all that I want to accomplish and see change in my heart and life and in the lives of others around me. I absolutely love this tool- these sheets are not your ordinary planner, but rather a place for you to think about what matters and how to make it happen in your life, day by day.

2017 Goals

1. Continue memorizing James and study Scripture in-depth.

Why? The Word is the only thing that will last forever.

Last year, Rory and I read through a chronological Bible reading plan. I loved that I was able to see when things happened in Scripture, but it was also a lot of reading and sometimes hard to keep up with. Sometimes I enjoy just reading one verse and shaping my prayer around that verse for the day. This year I'll be reading the Living Letters devotional written by my friend Suzanne Chambers, which will allow for more in-depth study on my own. I've memorized the first chapter of James and part of the second chapter, so I'm just going to keep plugging along!

2. Take my health seriously.

Why? My body is a temple of the Holy Spirit and it's the only one I've got.

I have to say that before Rory and I met, I was a lot little better at this. I mean, I always hibernated in the winter, but I was just better at taking care of myself as far as physical activity goes. If you want to read about my plans for my healthy day, click here. :)

3. Continue to climb ranks in Young Living. 

Why? Financial freedom and helping others.

When I started using Young Living essential oils back in August, I had no idea how much they would influence our lives. Now I can't imagine my day without them, and I want to help others and also build a foundation for success for our family.

4. Write a book. 

Why? It's time to share my story.

So this one terrifies me, y'all. I have written on this blog for almost seven years. Last fall I self-published a devotional. But this book is different. It's the good, the bad, the ugly, and all that God has done in and through me in spite of me. And Lord willing, it'll be in your hands at some point this year.

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5. Pray more intentionally. 

Why? Prayer is the most powerful weapon we have .

It is so much easier to go to the phone instead of going to the throne, am I right? But prayer is what changes us and brings us to the humble realization that we are in genuine need of a Savior named Jesus. I've been using the six-month prayer journals by Val Marie Paper for a couple years now, and her yearly prayer journal that just came out is going to be a huge blessing for my prayer life. I can already tell. :)

6. Spend more time in pages and less time on screens. 

Why? Life is lived better in person.

Social media is a love hate situation for me. I love being able to keep up with friends, and I hate how I feel when I'm sucked into the comparison trap. So- less time on the phone and less time invested in social media.

7. Share the Gospel more intentionally.

Why? Because everyone needs Jesus.

It's easy to get sucked into the holy huddle, but I have several people I care about who need Jesus.

8. Live on one income.

Why? Simplify and prepare for the future.

We have made lots of wise decisions regarding our budget throughout marriage, but we have lots of room to improve. I learned a lot through my contentment challenge in the fall, and I'm going to keep trying to purge my closet quit the urge to shop because I HAVE PLENTY. We are also going to eat out less (which we don't do that often anyways) and try to be creative with date night ideas.

9. Cultivate my existing relationships. 

Why? Community is life changing.

I have been given some amazing friends, and I want to continue to sow seeds of friendship and water the ones I have.

10. Pursue generosity. 

Why? Because it's not mine anyways.

We don't have kids of our own yet, and we don't have any grandparents that live nearby. However, we do have sweet kids that we love at Downtown Academy, and we have elderly friends who need encouragement. I will never regret being generous to others who need support and kindness.

What are you working towards in 2017, friends? It may be big or small, but whatever God has laid on your heart, go after it! And if you're like me and just love a good planner or notebook, check out the Powersheets. The 12-month is version is sold out, but you can still get a six-month set, which is a wonderful intro. Plus Lara has amazingly encouraging blog posts and resources on her website, so check that out, too! She's got a great giveaway going on from now until the end of the month that I wouldn't hate to win.

Leave a comment below and let me know what you're working towards. I want to pray for you!

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