Thursday, February 26, 2015

Thursday Thoughts

I'm a sucker for a good link up. When I was first establishing my blog and getting into a flow, link ups helped me form structure and meet so many new bloggers. I can never resist them. Bloggy besties are made through linkys! I think Thursday Thoughts are supposed to be one liners so I'll have to work on that... y'all know I'm long winded...

Let's hang out with Meagan today for Thursday Thoughts.
Beautiful Things

I loved the Parks and Rec finale on Tuesday night! Pawnee forever!
I believe I'm turning soft in my old age. The Parks and Rec finale really brought this fact to my attention. I have never been a fan of overly happy endings in books or movies. It just never seemed like real life to me. I loved an open ended finale or even a plot twist that knocked my socks off (I'm looking at you, Gone Girl). But my sappy little self was just crying along with all the happy endings in Parks and Rec. It's official I'm losing my edge...

I struggle with body image. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that WE ALL do. I loved this read this week - My Boyfriend Loves Fat Women. 
Sunday I'm flying out to Florida for a work trip. Even though I see rain in the forecast, I'm confident the sun will show her pretty face. I need some Vitamin D in my life.
From my November 2014 work trip to Sandestin
I lost my one of my favorite Alex & Ani bracelets a couple weeks ago at Winter Jam. I keep hoping it will find it's way back to me. Sad face.
Wanna know what else I struggle with? Being judgey. Oh you mean it DOES count if I say "I'm not trying to be mean" before the nasty comment? Oops. I'm a recovering mean girl and I still find that my sharp tongue can rule the day if I'm not careful. This is an awesome read about perspective.

I got 5 inches of snow at my house after midnight last night. Woke up for the 4th time in two weeks to this beautiful sight. I really love the snow. (spoken like a true southerner, I know)

Happy Friday Eve!!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Yeah, Maybe

All my fellow book lovers out there, this post is for YOU! I know we are always asking each other what we are reading and trying to find new books. Just so happens that I have the next big thing for you.
My incredibly sweet, talented and beautiful friend, Joey is a writer. And she's fantastic. If you don't follow her blog then stop what you are doing and go follow her right now! I'm a huge fan of her style. This girl definitely keeps it real (which you know I love), she's a runner, she's so funny and she always has the best nail inspiration!
I'm kind of an awful friend too because I haven't read her book yet... you know, life and stuff.
THIS WEEK though her book (the ebook edition) is on sale on Amazon for $1.99!! Since this is her first book, let's give her lots of love and support! If you are a reader, PLEASE check out Yeah, Maybe and then give her your feedback. She wrote a great post on Monday telling the story of how the dream of her book even became a reality.
Here's what she had to say about the promotion on her blog:
"I share this story with you today because THIS WEEK my book, Yeah, maybe is on sale for $1.99!  It would mean the world to me if you gave it a chance.  You might love it.  You might hate it.  And maybe you'll feel something in between.  But ultimately, I just want you to give it a chance.  Share it with your friends, discuss your opinions.  Rate it on Amazon and Goodreads.  Tell me what you liked, what you didn't.  I want to grow, and the only way to do that is to face my fears.  And in order to do that, I need your help."
I figure most of us bloggers are pretty good at giving our opinions on things. That's part of why we do this, right? Let's channel that into something productive and help her out. The blogging community can be an amazing support system! When women empower other women, the world is changed - one story at a time. Yeah, Maybe is also part of the Kindle Lending Library so if you love it, please share it with someone else who might fall in love with her work!
Thank you, thank you, thank you in advance to everyone who takes the time to do this!! Means a lot to me and I know it will mean the world to Joey!


Monday, February 23, 2015

Motivational Monday

It's Monday...
And after a week like last week, (which most people got to spend lounging at home, but I still had to make my way into work) I need a little motivation. PS - can you believe I'm blogging for the THIRD time with in a week??
Spreading the love today! Happy Monday my loves!
1. Treat yo self
I'm a huge Parks & Rec fan! I have adopted the treat yo self motto practically as my own. When you're single I feel that it really is necessary to treat yo self every now and then. You deserve it! That's what I told myself when I spend a crap ton of money last week during the snow/ice storm shopping online. A little treat yo self goes a looooong way in my book. Can be as simple as a Starbucks run, whatever your little heart desires. Indulge on a Monday!
2. After you treat yo self - treat someone else
After my Lent post last week, plenty of you little sweethearts reached out to encourage me. (I LOVE YOU ALL!!!!) It's so incredibly uplifting to be reminded of your magic when you forget. For someone from the outside looking in - heck, sometimes someone who has never even met you - to remind you that you're pretty awesome. Remember a time when someone reminded you of your magic - channel that today and lift someone up.
Little Giveaway!! 
 Leave a comment and tell me someone you'd like to encourage this week & why. I have a $15 giftcard to Target I'm willing to give away to a random lucky winner just to brighten their day!

3. All aboard the healthy train - choooo chooooo
I have been eating like a horse. Also, I've been lazy. Lazy like a (insert animal that is incredibly lazy). We are about 3-ish months away from summer. Me continuing to eat like a horse will NOT make me a happy camper once lake season is here. I want to be proud of my body this summer! Even in a bathing suit. Back to the gym I go. I'm officially announcing here that I am training for a 5k in April. For the first time in like 2 years. Pray for me y'all - I MIGHT DIE! I probably can't even run a single mile right now. It's been many moons and many pounds ago that I even tried. I want to attract a boyfriend in the future who is into fitness too. It helps so much to have someone who can workout with you and encourage you.
My girls Cassie & Lindsay have been a huge inspiration to me with their fitness journeys so - y'all better keep me in line. Overall I'd like to drop 30 lbs from where I'm at right now. I know it won't be done overnight so please reach out to me and encourage me!
4. I am the nerdiest of nerds - and I'm so okay with it
When I was younger, I was a little embarrassed by how nerdy I was. A lot of my friends weren't into school like I was. Much less dinosaurs, history, science, reading and all the awesome things that I loved to learn about. I tried to hide it. I actually pulled a little Lindsay Lohan from Mean Girls and tried to act dumb a time or two. Then I had a teacher in high school who really taught me how much better it is to embrace your inner nerd. Being intelligent is attractive. And awesome. We all like weird things. My obsession with US presidents & the civil war isn't weird - it's just MY thing. Well, one of my things. (I feel like I have more "things" than most)
LONG winded story short - I have decided I am going to reward myself with this mug. After I lose 15 lbs (half my goal), that is. It's a nerdy gift and I LOVE IT! Back on the healthy wagon, plus a sweet reward for a prize.

How's that for a Monday???

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Enter the Season of Lent

I am a sinner. Every single day of my life, I am a sinner. Some days I actually physically feel the weight of my sins more than others. Do you know what I mean? Some days my bad choices, my selfish actions and my hateful words can really haunt me. These are the days when I should really offer myself grace. I'm an imperfect person in an imperfect world so of course I fall short. We all do. I tell myself that we all have these days. (These are also the days when that grace can feel pretty far from reach, if I'm being honest.)
I was supposed to have an amazingly romantic Valentine's Day last week with the most perfect boyfriend. Instead I spent that day alone, watching Bridesmaids and feeling like I never should have broken up with him two weeks before VDay. I was supposed to be traveling on my way to a Bethel Worship Night yesterday in Birmingham, but due to the snow and icy weather conditions here we had to make the decision not to go. I am pissed off about it. I felt like I needed that trip, the community with the people I was going with, the presence of the Holy Spirit, the pick-me-up - all of it. Tension in my family is at an all time high right now. The consequences of my mom & stepbrothers' actions have been really affecting me and I'm just fed up with it.

I've found myself complaining a lot. I've spent about a week solid being pissed off, only with each passing day my anger is growing. I'm mad about how things have gone down with my now ex-boyfriend. I'm pissed off that I still want to be with him and I'm mad at myself for all the back and forth that I have put him through. I broke up with him, why am I so torn up about this? I hate that us not talking makes me feel like he could care less. I'm not in control of this situation. I'm disgusted with my mom. And how in her typical fashion, she finds a way to end up mad at me over the consequences of her actions. I'm not in control of her actions. I'm heartbroken that I feel like I needed this trip for a worship night so badly and it gets cancelled. I'm not in control of the weather. I feel like I'm nearing the end of my rope. Discontent is weighing down my heart.

Enter the season of Lent.
I'm not sure your experience with Lent; my own personal experience has actually been pretty shallow. Until the maybe 3 years ago, I had heard of Lent, but never had a personal connection with it. Heck, I really didn't even know what all it signified in Christian culture. I've never even participated in giving up anything for the season. Last year I did the 40 day Overcome the Lie prayer challenge, which did include giving up something we felt had a hold on us for that time period. It wasn't exactly aligned with Lent though (it started on Feb 1) so I'm still going with the fact that I haven't actively participated.

Yesterday I found this article. Divine timing indeed.

"But this is a messy season. It’s much like our lives. Over time, our hearts and souls, when left unattended, get messy. Lent invites us to deal with the mess. This is not about quickly cleaning things up and pretending they were never there, nor is it about ignoring the mess. Lent invites to roll up our sleeves and sort through the debris of our lives.

We are confronted with our mess, and so on our foreheads we rub a little dirt reminding ourselves that just as Eden has gone to ashes, so, one day, we will too.

This is what Lent does. It allows us to see the parts of ourselves we’d rather leave covered up. It asks us to drag our full self into the light of day no matter how dark it may be. As we near the end of Lent, we encounter Good Friday. For centuries, the people of God mark this day by participating in the Stations of the Cross remembering the trial and crucifixion of Jesus."

Like a slap in the face, I tell ya. A much needed, slap in the face at that. My life feels flat out messy right now. The most comforting truth, for me, is that I am the daughter of a Savior who wants my whole entire heart. The ugly parts, the hurting parts, the doubtful parts, even the prideful parts and especially the parts that are begging for his grace. 

I'm also doing the She Reads Truth Lent Study (started yesterday so you have plenty of time to jump in on this one).  

Joel 2:12-13 (ESV)
Return to the Lord
12 “Yet even now,” declares the Lord,
    “return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
13     and rend your hearts and not your garments.”
Return to the Lord your God,
    for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love;
    and he relents over disaster.
 "Much to my dismay, the call to return to God is not written alongside a long list of to-do’s, an attainable checklist so I can feel sure I’m returning correctly. No, there is just one qualification—to return with all my heart. Evidently the cleaned up, feel-good part of my heart is not all God is looking for. He doesn’t want only the parts of my heart I’m willing to let others see—He wants the whole messy, confused, narcissistic, achy thing. 
So, to recap: You and I and our whole unholy selves are called to turn fully, openly, and sans-covering to the holy, almighty God of all the universe.

[Insert deep breath here.]

It’s no wonder we try to come to Him with layers of lies and pride and every other self-preservation instinct intact. It makes sense, right? Except it doesn’t… because Jesus."

Today's message was clearly written for me, don't you think? I wrote this blog post yesterday afternoon in tears of frustration, not knowing how to clean up my own heart. This morning I am offered these words of hope. I cannot fix my heart. The Lord will heal and restore me. "YET EVEN NOW..." Even after I've served my self first and allowed discontent to settle in,  EVEN NOW God pursues ALL of my heart with steadfast love.
Man, I am beyond words thankful for people who keep it real!! For people who pour out their hearts and confess their fears and inadequacies. Because honestly, we all have them. We all battle with similar demons. I adore the tender moments when I allow myself to feel fully known and surrender my own struggles. There's healing in this process. The Lord continually draws me near to Him and there is no place I would rather be.

So this year for Lent, I want to give up serving myself and all the fears and doubts that go along with that. Lent is ALL ABOUT recognizing our sins and turning away from them, in order to kneel down at the cross. It's about intentional prayer, intentional steps to avoid distractions and just revel in the beauty that is our walk with God. That means diving into my "messy" and revealing the parts of me that cry out to be healed. It's much harder than giving up Diet Coke or social media, but I know it's something that I must do. I want to slow my pace, obey the Lord and I will wait expectantly for him to rekindle that fire in the my soul.

Something extra - I know I said this yesterday, but this song is REALLY speaking to me lately. Take a listen to the words.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Current Favorites

These kinds of posts are probably my favorite. Well 2nd favorite - my most favorite being the kind where you just pour your heart out to the internet. So here is what I'm currently into -
Current Favorite Song: You know I can never choose just one. Don't judge the variety in my playlist!
Brother Remix - Needtobreathe ft. Gavin DeGraw
In Over My Head - Bethel Music
Only - Nicki Minaj ft. Drake, Lil Wayne & Chris Brown
Shine Like Lightning - Drew Holcomb

Current Favorite Beauty Product: Vaseline, hands down. I get bloody noses in the middle of winter. I slather my nose up with some Vaseline (or Neosporin) at night when I sleep to help with the dryness of the air quality. I'm super attractive, in case you haven't already realized that. Also works to heal chapped, dry lips too. And I have been known to use it to remove eye makeup before too. It's a fix all.
Current Favorite GIF: Scandal is my current fav guilty pleasure. I'm both Team Jake and Team Fitz - however that works out. And I'm ALWAYS Team Wine & Fries!!!

Current Favorite Book: Just finished Ed Sheeran A Visual Journey and loved it! If you're a fan of his (like you know I am), then I would recommend it. My current library book is My Name is Mary Sutter, which is civil war era historical fiction.

Current Favorite Starbucks Drink:  My go-to right now is an Iced Caramel Macchiato with nonfat milk. Somebody needs to enlighten me to something new, because this has been my go-to for a while.

Current Favorite Bible Verse: "In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly." - Romans 12:6-8 NLT from Love God Greatly Community Study
Current Favorite Thing To Wear: FLEECE LEGGINGS! I was slow to jump on this train because I always get hot easily, but I am in love with them this winter. I even wear them around the house as pants sometimes.
Current Favorite Place to Shop: Etsy. Especially my friend Lisa's shop - CraftyGoode. She is fantastically creative! Check her out for any printables, unique cards, stationary, etc. And she does custom orders!
Current Binge-worthy Show: Drunk History on Comedy Central. The First Ladies episode is the best. I swear I think I would fit in on that show!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

believe: Jan Update

Here we are a little over a month into 2015 already. I remember being 10 years old and "older" people telling me how quickly it goes by as you grow up. They sure weren't kidding. I feel like a 90 year old lady even saying that, but it's true. I have high hopes for this year, including embracing my 2015 word: believe. However, one month down and looking back I'm not feeling so great about my momentum. I'm still choosing fear over faith.
I've been struggling quite a bit lately with fear. My tiny fears have somehow managed to snowball into these anxiety ridden roadblocks that prevent me from believing in God's promises for me. I have been looking backwards, going through the motions, trying to do too much, and misplacing where I've tried to anchor myself. As someone who so desperately wants to live every second of my life for God, it's really hard to know what to do with myself during these times. I am all about that self condemnation life. So you know what I have done? I have pushed Him aside. I have backed down from the belief that the Lord will tackle my fears. I have become complacent and disconnected.
We are in a series at church right now about listening to the Holy Spirit, even during the insanely busy times. I have spent a large portion of the past two days trying to BE STILL and listen to what the Holy Spirit tells me. Wishing for a glaring sign that I didn't feel would actually come. Trying to quiet my busy mind and listen for any whisper of hope. (Let me just tell you it's not an easy thing to quiet this mind!)
Then last night finally a breakthrough! Praise the Lord! Really long story short, during a 2 hour prayer night with a group I'm involved with at church the Holy Spirit gave me Psalm 37:3-7 to reflect on. We have all heard these verses a hundred times, but it was everything and exactly what I needed to be reminded of in that moment.
Psalm 37:3-7 "Trust in the Lord and do good. Take delight in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him and he will help you. v.7 Be still in the presence of the Lord and wait patiently for him to act."
Honestly, I hadn't been doing any of that. My lack of trust the past couple of weeks is embarrassing for me to admit. I haven't been able to delight in Him because I've been so focused on my worries. I definitely haven't been committing everything I do to Him. And the last thing I have done is to be still or patient ... quite the opposite actually. So randomly finding these verses last night felt like I was reading them for the first time, and everything was clicking. Only it wasn't random at all. Sounds hokey, I know, but there is nothing like that feeling. I immediately was brought to tears and felt the presence of the Lord drawing me back to Him. It felt like a hug with wide open arms, I might add. No condemnation for straying, only immeasurable grace.
So what does that look like today and moving forward?
My God > my flesh
                  my failures
                 my fears
                 my future plans for myself
                 my fickle heart
Today I do feel like my load is lighter. Some of the circumstances of my life are sad currently, but I have the utmost belief that my God is greater than any of that. I broke up with the boyfriend, and as much as that makes my heart ache right now I do have a peace about it that I've never had in the past. He's so amazing and I selfishly don't want to not have him in my life, but I know God will work it out for us both. My family is experiencing a tough time right now too, but I know God has plans for this struggle. 
My faith has come so far, I cannot help but praise the Lord for all the ways He has changed my heart and continues to grow me. I think moving forward looks like me embracing the Holy Spirit, God's Word, His heart, His love and resting in those truths.


Also, I'm doing the Love God Greatly study on Community right now. Moving forward means being active in growing my "Community" and leaning in to be supported & to support others. How can I help support you with the season you're in right now? Let's lift each other up in prayer!
#LoveGodGreatly {Verses of the Day} Week 4 ~ Tuesday!