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Friday, January 2, 2015

The Year I Believe

HAPPY NEW YEAR FRIENDS!! I have always loved New Years! I'm a goofy, cliché, easy motivated person so it's easy for me to buy into the new year hype. I love everything about a fresh start. Even if it means one in the middle of March or July, and no where near the date of January 1st. I've learned that I require more than one fresh start each year. Which is an important lesson because it helps me not be so hard on myself when I feel the need to revamp my perspective on life. Basically, it's going to happen!

It's funny to look back now on posts from this time last year and be able to clearly see how much I've grown. My goal for 2014 was to become BETTER - in all aspects of the word. I would give myself a solid 7 out of 10 on becoming better last year. (pats self on the back encouragingly) In some ways, I excelled and in other ways I shied away from change and instead preferred to stay within my comfort zone. But growth can still come from even being able to recognize that. I am, overall, a much better version of myself than I was in January 2014.

2015 is different though. Feels different. I probably say that every year, but in a way it's true. 2013 was a year of mending and healing broken pieces. 2014 was about growth and finding myself. For 2015, I want to annihilate my comfort zones, all of them. If you ask what that means, I'm not really sure I can wrap it up nice and neat for you right here and now on January 2nd. You know I'll keep you posted as the year progresses. In my head what that looks like is taking more risks, saying yes to things, pushing myself and having a wide open mind and heart.

I have a few ideas on how I can make these things happen. I want to react gracefully. I want to be happy with my body again, which means working my butt off to get back in shape. I want to love boldly. I want to cultivate meaningful relationships. I want to be aware of people in my life who need comfort. I want to fall deeper in love with God's Word. I want to be more organized, self disciplined and intentional. I want to write more, read more, sing louder. I want to travel somewhere new. I want to be filled with confident expectations about the things God has planned for this year. I want to believe bigger.

: to accept or regard (something) as true
: to accept the truth of what is said by (someone)
: to have (a specified opinion)
I think my 2015 word will be BELIEVE. Weird choice, I know. Leave it up to me to pick something strange.  I want to believe anything is possible. And I know with God, the impossible things become possible. If that's the only thing I believe in 2015, then that's fine by me. I am crazy excited to see the seemingly "impossible" things that I can tackle this year. Here's to a year full of believing!


Friday, December 26, 2014

True Meaning of Christmas, brought to you by Hallmark Movies

Confession: I have watched approximately every single Hallmark movie of the Christmas variety this season. Which has surprised the heck out of me since I'm not usually a Christmas movie person. Quite the opposite actually. These movies leave me feeling full of hope that not every Christmas has to be lonely or painful. I've learned that broken engagements offer much more hope than despair, that second chances can change lives and plenty of families are dysfunctional. I'VE LEARNED THIS FROM HALLMARK CHRISTMAS MOVIES!!! I can't decide if that's sad or not. But truthfully, all of these lessons have really hit home with me this season.
Christmas has truly taken on a new meaning for me this year. I have spent many Christmases in my life focused on the wrong things, wrong people, with the wrong attitude. I've spent the last two Christmases trying to find a balance within this life that didn't really feel like my own. This Christmas felt better. I dove head first into the Advent season this year and was really trying to reshape my own thoughts about how Christmas can mean more to me.
I know it's been a while since I've updated you guys on life happenings so maybe I should start there. Two days after I wrote my Thanksgiving post, the boyfriend and I got back together. (You can roll your eyes if you want, I promise it's okay) Classic case of spoke too soon. The thing about it is, when you just keep coming back to the same person over and over again no matter what happens (or when someone continues to pursue you over and over again no matter how scared & fickle you may seem), you have to explore that situation fully. I have no idea how we will decide when our actual anniversary is because I think we officially have like 7 of them now, but who cares. Things are so amazingly (sickeningly) good right now! (I'm not sure how I feel yet about being SO open with this relationship on the blog, but if you follow me on Twitter, Instagram or if we are Facebook friends then you'll get your fair share of our story.) One thing I will tell you is that on our first Christmas together, we got each other the same gift. This song has meaning in our relationship and I guess it truly is a sign that we are finally on the same page! We could not stop laughing about this, it was so crazy!

My family life is pretty complicated right now. Those relationships are messy and that's usually why Christmas is such an exhausting event for me. I mentioned that I chose not to spend Thanksgiving with my family this year, and for Christmas it was very much the same. I visited both my parents briefly on Christmas Eve then spent Christmas Day with a friend's family who treats me just like one of their own. Dysfunctional families are a part of life. Even the most put together families have dysfunction, I know that. Even Hallmark families have their fair share. Mine can really feel heavy at times, and it leads to me feeling so lonely and not like a part of my family at all. I'm so thankful for a church family and the absolute best group of friends who always remind me that I am loved.
Also, a couple weeks ago I got the chance to see Ann Voskamp, Ellie Holcomb & Amena Brown when they came on The Greatest Christmas Tour to Knoxville.
I love all of these ladies so I was super stoked to go see them, but I honestly wasn't quite as excited about the Christmas message. I left the program that night feeling so hopeful for the message of the Advent season and resting in God's love this Christmas. I was filled with even more hope than a Hallmark movie could offer me. My favorite quote from that night was from Ann Voskamp, "Cease the pace to do, to buy, to be more. Come as you are. You don't have to earn Christmas. You don't have to make it. You don't even have to like it. You can just rest in Christmas." You might be having a DUH moment right now, but I had a total WOW moment that night. I've never really viewed Christmas as being about what gifts I receive. But I am totally guilty of making it about what I can do to make Christmas great - whether it be gifts, food, or anything. The best lesson I've learned this Christmas is that my greatest gift is not my gift at all. It's simply my surrender in this season that typically overwhelms my heart in the worst way. My surrender means just being this empty space for God to fill with his love, kindness, goodness and letting those overflow from me. I'm not sure that I exactly nailed it this year, but I can say it was the best holiday season I've probably ever had.
This week we also had our Christmas services at church. Y'all know I'm crazy in love with my church and the fact that God continues to show up there week after week and is making big things happen in our community. Christmas services always knock it out of the park though.

My sweet boyfriend is one of our worship leaders so of course, I'm quite partial to him and that just added to my love of the Christmas services this year. It blows my mind to think that this time last year we had just met and barely knew each other and now we've been the better part of this year together (well trying to be together haha). And not only that, but God has shown up BIG time for me in so many other ways this year. This is only my 2nd year attending a Christmas service at OneLife. I simply cannot fathom what God will do in my life and in our church in 2015. Who knows what my life will look like at the next Christmas service. If I even tried to imagine, I'd be putting God into a box that He is so.much.bigger than. But I feel confident that he's going to rock my world, in the best way possible.

We sang the O come, O Come Emmanuel song and the lyrics have just been stuck in my mind for the past couple of days.
Rejoice, again, I say, rejoice
For unto us is born the Savior of the world
Take heart, oh weary soul, take heart
For help is on its way
And Holy is His name

When my soul and my heart begin to feel life's burdens, I hope I can remember these lyrics. Christmas is all about the Savior of the world being born and what that means to us. Help is here, and I don't have to feel like I'm doing this life thing alone.

I've learned so much by surrendering. I feel like I say that a lot here. But honestly, it's something that I continue to learn. Choosing faith over fear this year has brought me to where I am right now, which is exactly where I'm supposed to be. It's not easy and I most definitely don't always realize that the first time around. But just like in the Hallmark movies, second chances are sometimes the best learning experiences. I gave Christmas a second chance this year, and I really liked how it played out. I rested in what Christmas represents this year and I found true joy. I'll keep letting God work on this old heart of mine, and next year I'll probably practically be a Griswold. 

Hope all my little loves had a very Merry Christmas! XOXO

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving, as an Action vs. a Holiday

Here I am, again, in this place where I have SO MUCH to say but can't find the right words. More accurately, I'm scared to speak the truth of the words that I'm feeling. I'm afraid of judgment, afraid that saying things out loud makes them real, and anxiously awaiting something amazing to happen so that I can fill my posts with that instead.
I feel myself sliding into a valley. Not a spiritual valley necessarily (thank the Lord), more like a life valley. One of those times when things are just "ehhhh" and that's honestly about the best way to describe them. Life feels a little bit messy right now. Work, family, relationships - all of it, presents me with more complicated days than easy ones.
My go-to girl Hannah Brencher apparently feels my vibe and wrote this post JUST FOR ME. I mean, come on! You know how much I love her, and her words always seem to speak truth into my given situation. Spot on. Thank you Jesus for HB and her connection to my soul!
If I'm being honest, my current valley probably has so much to do with my breakup. The boyfriend and I broke up two weeks ago. I'm not sure I can adequately describe to you the journey our relationship traveled since last March when we went on our first date. Roller coaster would be pretty close to a perfect term to use. I want so badly to believe that it was just a timing issue. I feel like we are such a great pairing on paper, but something was holding me back from riding it out to see how the story ended. I prayed...and prayed...and prayed some more but I never received that crystal clear answer that I wanted from God. Just that consistent feeling of hesitancy. I know that not all relationships are made to last, but I wanted this one to. I just don't know how much more back and forth either one of us could have handled. I have no choice but to put all my hope in the fact that if God wants to bring us back together, then He will control the path that leads us there. So there's that.
The holidays, in the past couple of years especially, have been a time of struggle for me. I can't tell you how incredibly overwhelmed I was at the thought of having to spend the holidays with my boyfriend's family. I could cry just thinking about it even still. Can we say ISSUES?? Something about all the family time and celebrations makes me feel like an outsider. I can't survive a family get together of my own without crying, resorting to drinking or daydreaming of stabbing someone (usually my mother). Loneliness is constantly lurking in the back of my mind telling me to compare my situation to everyone else's. I'm sure that's at least part of why I want my own family so urgently - to have that comfort of being an actual part of something. God has rescued me from these feelings of self pity so many times, and yet here I am entertaining the idea of them again. It's ridiculous.
I want to live a lifestyle of thanksgiving and praise God greatly for all that He has given me. I'm doing this awesome She Reads Truth bible study right now that's all about thanksgiving (the action of it, not the holiday). The other day Give Thanks in Suffering hit the nail on the head for me. I beg you to read this if you are going through any kind of suffering right now. Because I promise you, there's no way you can read these biblical truths and not feel beyond thankful to a Savior that offers HOPE. It offered me a much needed reminder that: This isn't all that there is. Our story goes on. Life gets better. God has BIGGER & BETTER things planned for you and I!

"Sisters, it’s okay to be sad. But we know Jesus who died for us in love and rose again in love, so that all that is broken can be redeemed, so that in the midst of terrible pain we can know this isn’t all there is.
Our hope is never in vain when it’s in Jesus. Our thanksgiving in times of suffering is a testament to how temporary the pain is in light of our great eternal joy and our everlasting hope."
“And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”- Romans 5:5
This Thanksgiving (as in the actual holiday this time), I will be surrounded by amazing friends who love me unconditionally. I might be single again, but I am not alone. I will have a full belly, a warm house, and money to go Black Friday shopping. I am thankful for this valley, and all that it will bring. I cannot imagine a better place to be than here, where God draws me close to Him and covers me with his love. What more do I need?? My heart will overflow with praise for the Lord for all the blessings I do not deserve. I will wait expectantly and hope for a season of life that comes with a view from a mountaintop instead of a valley.

(PS - this is a great one too, Giving Thanks In Sorrow). "When you think you’ll never again be able to sing a song of thanksgiving, try it anyway. Our hearts may not be comfortable praising tragedy, loss, or bad days, but our hearts were created to praise the Hope of Glory."
Happy Thanksgiving friends! I'm thankful for the friendships I still have from blogging, and for all the support you give me when I whine :) XOXO

Friday, November 7, 2014

5 on a Friday!

Hola senoritas! I'm just here today to give you a recap of what's been going on with me in the past couple of weeks. I have some really great posts (in my humble opinion haha) saved in my drafts folder, just haven't really had time to finish them out. So an update it is, in the form of my very favorite link up 5 on Friday of course.
I just got home from a week in Florida for a work conference. I'm human so of course I love the beach, but as a Southerner I get real sick of the humidity that comes with an East TN summer. I don't think I've ever visited the beach during November, and I couldn't have been more pleased with the weather we had in Sandestin. Absolutely gorgeous! I could easily be a snowbird in my future retirement life. It's never too early to dream about retirement, girls! I'll see you again in March, Sandestin, and I am counting down the days!


My new iPhone FINALLY came! It was the most perfect little welcome home gift last night on my front porch. She's a slender gold beauty too! A much needed upgrade from my 4s. I couldn't be happier with it!
Election day has come and gone and while I try not to get too political on here, I can say I am happy with the way one referendum played out. In my city & county, we will be getting wine in our grocery stores soon! I CAN'T WAIT! Does that mean I'm an alcoholic? No! That means I'm lazy and I like my convenience. I know we are probably behind the times down here, but you gotta remember this is the heart of the Bible belt.
Everybody needs a good Friday Funny and this is one of my favs this week!
Ordered these pretty thangs this week and I'm so excited to show them off!
Cross Training Couture
My girl Kim's boutique - Small Town Style
 Happy weekend loves!