Friday, April 25, 2014

A long hiatus BUT...Happy News!

Is anyone still out there? 

I understand if my small audience has abandoned ship. Its been a quiet few (THREE?!? Oh goodness.) months around here.

But I am back today to do some explaining.

You see, I have some happy news to share:

Please excuse me looking like a hot mess in this picture. My little miss was quite over having pictures taken at this point and would do nothing but sit on my lap. Sigh. She has a mind of her own!

Yes. That's right. Come October we will be a family of FOUR!!! 

We are beyond thrilled. And so very thankful.

I am still wrapping my head around it!

But you see, pregnancy has not been good to me. Much like my first pregnancy, I was very very sick for a solid eight weeks this time around. (A good 12 weeks less than last time-PTL!) 

It was awful. I was barely functioning. Lost 5lbs. 

Thankfully, I am coming out of the fog and feeling MUCH better now!

But for that reason- this blog and my lofty bloggy aspirations were/are on the back burner for a time.

So thank you for bearing with me and for also celebrating with us in this new season of life. 
We are so excited for what God has in store for our family!

A BIG thank you to my sweet friend Sarah at Mirror Image Photography for the lovely pictures and helping us share the news!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Doing vs. Being: The Unforced Rhythms of Grace

Admittedly I have suffered from a total lack of inspiration combined with poor time management skills these past few weeks. And so its been crickets and cobwebs on the blog as a result. Sorry.

Life just happens doesn't it?

Well, no time like the present to pick up the pencil- er keyboard- and get to it!

Was anyone else out there fortunate enough to catch the IF:Gathering live simulcast last weekend? I tried as hard as I could to listen to as many of the speakers as possible but it wasn't nearly enough. I am hoping to purchase the DVD's when they are available.

One of the speakers that I was able to watch was Sarah Bessey. If you have read my blog at all you will know that her blog is one of my favorites. It was such a treat to get to see her face and hear her words instead of reading them!

What a blessing it was to my spirit to hear what God laid on her heart. I think it was just what I needed to hear right now.

One thing that really touches my heart about Sarah is how much she loves Jesus. She loves just being with Jesus and it is evident in her whole persona.

She spoke in her message about just being with Jesus. Taking the time to enjoy the beauty that is Jesus. To bask in his presence. To soak up and learn about his love, to really know it and feel it.

I know so many Christians that are just worn out. I can include myself in this statement many days as of late.

I get caught up in the rat race of to-do's and commitments; consumed by the work harder, run faster, do more society that we live in. I mistakenly think that in order for God to use me for his purposes I need to commit to every church initiative, outreach, bible study, volunteer opportunity, etc in order to accomplish that.

Don't be mistaken- all these things are well and good- its just that most times when I am caught up in the doing I am missing the whole point and the most important priority. My relationship with Jesus. Being with Jesus.

Because Jesus doesn't intend for me to live a tired and worn out life, burdened with commitments and to-do lists. He intends for me to live in his freedom and grace. With a yoke that is easy and a burden that is light (Matthew 11:28-30).

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” 
(Matthew 11:21-30 MSG)

When Sarah shared this verse in her message it made sense to me. Jesus just wants us to stop doing doing doing and just BE WITH HIM. Spend time with him. ABIDE IN HIM. Bask in his FRIENDSHIP (John 15:15). WALK BESIDE HIM for goodness sake! 

God does not just want to use you: God wants to be with you because he loves you.
- Sarah Bessey

As my relationship with Jesus grows deeper, then the natural consequence is that I will live out his purpose and plan for my life. And it won't feel heavy, or burdensome. It will feel natural and peaceful. I will walk in the unforced rhythms of grace. In this place, I am better equipped to be a blessing to others.

Because I can't bear fruit if I am not attached to the vine. (John 15:4-8) However, when I am abiding in Jesus grace comes naturally out of me (along with the other fruits of the Spirit- Galatians 5:22-23). I am able to love others better, extend grace and mercy, as Jesus intended.

Remember friends, Jesus longs to be near to us, he delights in us (Zeph 3:17). We are his children, his joy. He sings over us. His desire is to be gracious to us (Is 30:18)

So today, my challenge to myself (and to you) is to slow down from the doing and get started just being with Jesus. Spend time with him. Relax in his presence. 
Take out some of the unnecessary to-do's and JUST BE. 

Filter out some of the noise and be silent and still. 

Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. 

I'm ready to live freely and lightly. Aren't you?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Favorites: Christian Resources

You would think that I would be churning out the blog posts this week since we have been stuck inside and at home due to the insanely low temperatures and ridiculous amount of snow we have been experiencing here in Michigan. 


Unfortunately those plans were derailed by a very sick little girl who has required endless snuggles, movies, and book reading these past four days. Is it bad I don't mind? I am soaking up every bit of this extra love and attention now because it will be over all too fast.

Since my attitude has needed some shaping up (I have been a pitiful mess of pouting, spouting declarations of how much I hate snow/winter, as well as begging my husband to look for a job in the Caribbean- no luck there folks-) I have been working to get my joy back despite this horrendous weather and get in the word and regularly talkin' to God a bit more. 

I have been wanting some new material for reading/listening which is the inspiration behind this post.

I just love sharing my favorite things with others. I might have mentioned this before here.

And I especially love when other people share their favorite things with me!

Which is why I have decided to share from time to time, some of my favorite things in the hopes that readers will reciprocate in the comments section. Or via email. Whatever works.

I love to ask others what Christian resources they like best. Because, lets be honest- a google search only gets you so far when you are looking for books, sermons, devotionals, etc. There is a LOT to sift through to find something you love.

Most of the time for me, asking others is the best way to find new resources to help me deepen my faith and my walk with Christ (outside of church and bible study).

So I picked 5 of my recent go-to favorites to share with you!

This is a really popular devotional book right now- and after purchasing one for myself, I can see why. For those who feel crunched for time but still want to get into a daily devotional, this is amazing. It is a one page daily devotional with 3-4 verses. I love that it is written as though it is God speaking to you. It is incredibly thought provoking. I believe that there is an app as well for smart phone users that is $9.99 if you prefer it for on the go use.

I recently did this Gideon study as part of our women's group at church. There is a video series that goes with it as well. It is fantastic if you are looking for a more in depth study, and it does involve some homework. 

Let me tell you it is worth it! This study is one of the best I have ever done. I learned so much about obedience and surrender. I still go back to look through my book and would sign up to do it again because it was that good. If you are looking for material for a small group study- check this one out!

 I love to download podcasts and listen to them on car rides, and sometimes I will listen to a sermon during lunch. I have been working my way through Mark Driscoll's sermon series on the Ten Commandments and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Pastor Mark doesn't sugar coat biblical truth and I love that he always has such good insight regarding religious theology that is included in the sermon content. Plus he is funny! I have never walked away from listening to his material without a nugget of truth that I think on for at least 24 hours after.

Kim Walker-Smith is such an anointed worship leader and song writer. She has a beautiful voice and this song is just such a wonderful message about the way God loves us. It came up on Pandora and I was thrilled to discover some of her new(er) music!

5. Book: Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer


This book is life changing. I struggled with anxiety and my thought life (and still do sometimes) and this book helped me so much. Through it I learned to take every thought captive and declare Christ's promises over my life. It made me more conscious of the thoughts I am thinking. I am a day dreamer and very much in my head- which can be a bad thing. I also completed the 10 day YouVersion devotional through the app on my IPhone which gives little snippets of the book and a verse for each day. If you struggle with these same issues- read this book or do the devotional- or both! You won't regret it.

There you have it friends- my recent favorite Christian resources. Please tell me yours! 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


Dear Lord Jesus.

Please help me.

I have an almost two year old who has recently entered the "No Mine!" stage.

I have no idea where she got this phrase, it must have been picked up at the gym or church nursery. But Since she learned it, I have heard it no less than 100 times a day.

Ok. Maybe I am exaggerating a little.

When I go to help her get dressed: "No mine mama!" as she rips the clothes out of my hands.
As her little cousin is trying to read a book and she tears it out of her hands: "No mine!"
As she is loading up her "purse" with various household items (including my cell phone, bra, and a pair of dad's underwear) and I come to inspect: "No mine!"

 It goes on and on with this little independent woman. Goodness me. I wasn't ready for this!

As I was smiling and thinking about my sweet baby girl and her most recent exclamation of "No Mine!" this morning, I found myself wondering if perhaps in my own life I do the same thing?

Are there areas of my life that God is asking me to surrender to him, change, or give up and I am clinging to them and (figuratively) saying "No Mine!"?

Guilty as charged. 

See, I am a bit of a Type A control freak, master planner and list maker, with a hint of OCD (self diagnosed of course) thrown in for good measure.

I like to make my own plans and lists and check them off. I like things to go the way I expected, so its all nice and neat and comfortable. I love routine and knowing what to expect.

I hold on to worry, stress, and anxiety regarding certain situations or people in my life instead of releasing them to a God who is big enough to take care of it.

Living this way isn't part of God's plan for me.

Because my plans don't always align with his plans. God isn't limited to the way I think or see a certain situation.

This is a good thing!

Isaiah 55:8-11 (MSG)
“I don’t think the way you think.
    The way you work isn’t the way I work.”
        God’s Decree.
“For as the sky soars high above earth,
    so the way I work surpasses the way you work,
    and the way I think is beyond the way you think.
Just as rain and snow descend from the skies
    and don’t go back until they’ve watered the earth,
Doing their work of making things grow and blossom,
    producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry,
So will the words that come out of my mouth
    not come back empty-handed.
They’ll do the work I sent them to do,
    they’ll complete the assignment I gave them.

This quote from Francis Chan's book Crazy Love has stuck with me since the moment I read it. 

 I do trust that God is big and powerful enough to take care of every detail of my life. Its just living that out in my every day life is often difficult for me.

The challenge for me is to live this way. To surrender all my worries and cares onto Him and stop trying to be the one in control.

To stop saying "No Mine!" to God.

To trust that when I cast all my cares and worries on him that he will work every detail of my life  together for good (Romans 8:28, 1 Peter 5:7).

There are three things I am resolving to do more of in order to let go of some of these things I am clinging to:

1. Keeping His promises right in front of me- Writing a verse or two on a notecard and keeping it in places where I can see it often has been a really helpful tool for me.
2. Staying in the word- I have slipped up recently and become not so regular with my quiet time. Our church just started a new reading plan to read through the New Testament this year and I am on board!
3. Forming my worried thoughts into prayers- Many times my thought life is the culprit behind worry and stress. I have found if I stop and make those thoughts a conversation with God, I am left feeling much more at peace.

I pray these suggestions are helpful to you as well friends, so that we can all live out the abundant life that God designed us to live!

Please share any practices you incorporate into your own lives as to how to release control and live worry free in the comments. I would love to hear them!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Comparison Trap

I mean.

I wrote two weeks ago about being content. I guess maybe learning to be content and at peace with where God has me right now is something I am in the process of learning at this current point in time.

Most of the time these days, the primary reason that I lose my feelings of joy and contentment is that I have fallen into the comparison trap.


Constantly comparing myself to others.

What an ugly place to be.

In fact, I fell asleep praying about it last night because I hate that I do it! I am ashamed to admit how often.

Most times, the catalyst for these feelings is social media.

Double ugh.

So when I logged on to Facebook this morning, I loved seeing this post by Glennon Doyle Melton of the popular blog Momastery titled "5 Reasons Social Media is Dangerous for Me".

This paragraph in her post felt like she was reading my thoughts exactly:

Like I once heard an Olympic swimmer say: “I swim best when I mentally stay in my own lane.” No matter how satisfied I am with my stroke and my pace before I log on- Facebook shoves me right out of my own lane and back into the ridiculous hunch that I’m not good enough, that I’m missing something important, that I don’t have enough peace and success and that everyone else is living a more fulfilling, fabulous life than I am. If Facebook has this effect on us, we can forgive ourselves. Because all we’re doing is using it exactly the way it was intended to be used. Facebook was designed by college boys to decide how “hot” one woman was compared to another, and now we use it to decide how hot one woman’s life is compared to another’s. Sometimes. 

Glennon- we are soul sisters! Thank goodness I am not the only one who feels this way.

Have you ever logged on to Facebook (or any other form of social media for that matter), only to log off feeling like something is missing in your life? Like somehow everyone else out there is living a life far more exciting and worthwhile than your own? I know I have. Too many times.

And really it says more about the condition of my own heart and thought life that I could let something like social media change my attitude in that way. But its a daily struggle for me.

Because everyone's life looks perfect on Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/Pinterest doesn't it?

We don't always see the messiness of life posted for all to observe do we?

I log out and find myself thinking that everyone else has more well behaved children, a nicer house/wardrobe/car, a more romantic and wonderful husband than I do, more excitement in their life, a deeper walk with Christ, etc. etc. etc!

Even typing that out and seeing it written is kind of embarrassing. I am sure I am not the only one that has fallen prey to these thoughts- am I?

I know that there are so many wonderful benefits to social media, but lately for me, I am learning I need to use them with caution and a prayerful heart.

I have been praying about how I can limit my usage and metaphorically "log out" in order to be more of participant in what is going on around me. To connect with my family and friends in a more meaningful way.

I am still figuring out changes that I need to make, but here is what I am thinking so far:

1. Be Still.

Psalm 46:10 (AMP)
Let be and be still, and know (recognize and understand) that I am God.

Enough said right? I need to stop comparing, planning, worrying, and controlling and take more time to BE STILL. To rest in Jesus and take the time to enjoy his presence and cultivate a heart of gratitude.

2. Do the Work.

One of my favorite blogs is Hollywood Housewife. Laura recently wrote a post titled "Do the Work".
It got me thinking that I need to quit browsing, planning, and being envious of others and do the work I have set out before me.
I have a long list of house projects/blog posts/diy ideas that I have yet to start. For goodness sake, I still haven't framed any of our family pictures or pictures of my beautiful baby girl!
I just need to step away from social media for a minute and get started on what I have before me.
I will keep you updated on how that goes.

3. Step away from the phone.

I have decided to eliminate social media apps from my phone. Its the biggest part of my problem! Those dang Facebook alerts have me trained to look at them right away. Or I am tempted to post every adorable picture of my sweet baby instead of just BEING with my sweet baby. So enough is enough.
The phone is going to remain in my bag where I can hear it ring and thats it!

That's all I have so far. As I make these small changes I will update you on how it goes. I am confident that I will become better at not falling into the comparison trap as often if I can make these changes.

My prayer is that it will reset my thinking. Restore my joy. That I will use my time more effectively to do things that matter. To be more present and focus more on my relationship with my family and strengthening my faith. 

Question: Have you made any changes to your social media habits this year? 

I would love to hear about them!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Friday Favorites

When I am loving something- I want to shout it from the rooftops and share with everyone! I obsessively talk about these things to anyone I come in contact with. Just ask my poor husband.

Example: When I bought my new phone I immediately called my sister and convinced her it was such a good deal she needed to get one. I told my sister in law too. Multiple times. True story.

Which is why I have decided to go ahead and try share what I am currently loving from time to time so you can love them too! And I can spare my family's sanity. Haha.

You are welcome.

1. Downton Abbey is back!!! I cannot express my love for this show in words. I love the costumes, the setting, the cast, and Dame Maggie Smith is the best! I watched Season 3 again last week just to have it fresh in my memory.

The season premiere was soooo good! I won't post any spoilers here yet.... but it was so good I even think I might get over the fact that they killed Matthew Crawley off the show. I may or may not have already watched the premiere three times. #superfan

2. Old Navy Active Wear

I am sure I have mentioned here my love for all things fitness and working out. As much as I love working out- I do not love spending lots of $$ for workout wear.

I received a pair of the compression fit capri's for Christmas and I absolutely loved them! So much that I went and purchased another pair and the compression fit tank pictured above. The best part is they were having a flash sale so I got each piece for $10!!! Unbelievable.

All three items are super comfy and wash really well. I highly recommend them if you are looking for affordable workout wear!

3. This article titled "Raising World Changers" by Jen Hatmaker.
Here is an excerpt from the article:

"Hypersheltering creates two things: judgment and fear. Neither are helpful lenses for the next generation to view their mission field. They cannot be too prideful to connect with diverse people nor too terrified to venture out to the margins. Rather, our goal is to send them out informed and ready, brave and merciful, taking Jesus to the dark corners and the sad places, hope-bearers moving the kingdom forward and changing the world the same way it has always been transformed: one person at a time."

So good. I love this perspective. It is something I often find myself wondering what this will look like in our family once my child(ren) are school age.

4. IPhone 5C

Over the Christmas Holiday there were some seriously good deals on IPhones, and since I was eligible for an upgrade I went ahead and took advantage. I ended up getting this phone for free from Target! (I chose the white one)

It was on sale for $30 and they gave me a $30 Target gift card. I had a $10 gift card so I came out on top by $10! Awesome. #ilovetarget

I love the 4G service and how much faster it works than my IPhone 4! Plus I can FaceTime without having to be connected to wifi. Total win.

5. Barre Workouts

You may or may not be familiar with the latest workout trend that is Barre. Different barre studios are popping up everywhere and I have been dying to try it, but hesitant to fork out the $22 per class when I already have a gym membership.

Lucky for me my gym is introducing barre classes into the group fitness schedule. I went to the intro class last week and man my biscuits were burning! It was a fun class and while I would probably not take it in place of my beloved spin or HIIT and strength classes, its a great class to add in to the mix and works muscles I never knew I had!

I would definitely recommend trying this format if you have the opportunity. But beware- your buns, quads, and calves will be begging for mercy by the end! #hurtssogood

So there it is folks!

Tell me- what are you loving right now? I would love to know!

Monday, January 6, 2014

New Year

My dear blogging friend Christa recently wrote about the Art of Saying "tot ziens", which is dutch for "see you later".

Her post resonated with me and has caused me to evaluate the state of things in my life as I begin this new year. Certainly there are habits/attitudes/practices/thoughts I need to say "tot ziens" to in order to begin 2014 with a fresh perspective and outlook.

Well the first "see you later" was my old blog design, as you may have noticed. I am still tweaking it just a bit, so bear with me through it! I am praying 2014 will bring some fun new changes to the look of this blog- so stay tuned!

Secondly, I want to say "see you later"to my pitiful blogging habits of the last few months. I am still developing a rhythm of blogging and finding my voice and deciding all I want to share in this space.

I hope this year to continue to share what God has laid on my heart, but I would like to add some posts to the blog in order to share with you some things I really love, such as DIY projects, recipes, and book reviews.

I have a really great project to share with you later this week already- I built a farmhouse table over the Christmas break!

Finally, I want to say "see you later" to self-doubt and fear. This is what has kept me from being a better blogger/wife/mother/friend in the past. As a woman, its a hard thing to overcome- but I am determined to say "see you later" to those insecurities and walk into what God has for me in 2014.

I have been loving this verse from Isaiah recently:

Do not [earnestly] remember the former things; neither consider the things of old.
Behold, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs forth; do you not perceive and know it andwill you not give heed to it? I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

I am excited for this fresh start of a new year and the new thing God is doing!

Thank you for joining me in the journey!