Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Joy is Servanthood: Guest Post at Unveiled & Revealed

Merry Christmas Eve Eve!

I had the privilege and honor to guest post over at Unveiled & Revealed today! Brianna is a For the Love sister of mine and I have so enjoyed her blog.

She challenged us to write about joy in 100 words. Only 100. That's not a whole lot!


Joy—we all want it. Why is it so hard to get? It starts more here.


What is joy to you in 100 words?

Friday, December 18, 2015

#FridayFive :: Five Hopes in the New Year

With the eve of the New Year nigh upon us, I wanted to discuss five hopes I have for 2016. These hopes, some may result in life change and a perspective shift, are something I'm looking forward to!

In 2016, I hope to learn more.
I long to be reflective and recognize what I've learned over the course of each month. I have so enjoyed linking up with emily p. freeman for her monthly reflection of what she has learned. Since I am out of school, it's so important for me to continually stretch my mind and by putting that in writing, I am committing to it and identifying how I have grown.

I have asked for a few resources to help me learn something new this year. One of those is a hand-lettering kit for Christmas in an effort to learn how to create some beautiful hand-lettered art. I also look forward to reading some great books and blogs as well.

In 2016, I hope to be more intentional.
I long to be intentional with my family, the ministry I'm part of, and the community I'm in. Each person has needs that must be met differently, I desire to identify those needs and intentionally meet them in whatever means I can. Our family motto is 'Love God. Love People. Have a Purpose.' Being intentional is exactly that!

In 2016, I hope to be used.
Used. Used, not in the sense of 'used and abused,' rather I yearn to be utilized by the Lord. I want to be obedient. Hands open to whatever comes. I want to remember to hold loosely to the things of this life and be used by God--whatever that may look like.

In 2016, I hope to adventure.
We will be venturing down a new year, another year of life with our daughter, another year of marriage, and into whatever is coming our way. I love adventuring, exploring and discovering. I want to do more of that with my daughter. Harper is going to explore a whole new world--and I am so excited to be staying home with her to adventure alongside her.

In being obedient and being open to being used by God, adventure will come!

In 2016, I hope to love well.
Loving well and not looking back. Loving others without regret. Not worrying about what loving others looks like. Not questioning how it will all work out, rather loving with no regard. When I love others well, Proverbs 31 comes to life.

What hopes do you have? Link up with Mrs. Disciple and let us know!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Spread the Joy: Guest Post at Radically Broken

Today I am guest posting on Radically Broken in her series on Advent. Below is an excerpt from the posting!

As this is our first Christmas with our sweet daughter, I aim to be very intentional with her about the season of Advent and the birth of our Savior. We assembled her plastic nativity last night and as she crawled around with a shepherd in her mouth that was hanging on by his staff, I began to contemplate the role of these shepherds.

Read more here.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

#FridayFive :: Five Joys

These joys are so simple, yet so very important to the season of life that I am currently in. I would love to continually post Five Joys for my week. I will be posting later about 'Joy being found in Servanthood;' however, at this point in time, my brain can only handle composing these 5 things that bring me great joy.

I need this outlet. Running is therapeutic for me and it is necessary for my sanity. The pounding of the pavement and my heart inside my chest, it's both challenging and life-giving. Joy is found in each difficult step, knowing that I'm running towards the prize.

Hot Showers
As of late + being a momma, self-hygiene got pushed to the back burner more often than I would like to admit. I never realized how beautiful a hot shower truly was until I didn't get to do it nearly as much. :) Hot showers are relaxing and rejuvenating and this momma needs more of them! I'm sure those around me would appreciate it as well.

Baby snuggles are the absolute best and I get so much joy from it! Harper is probably the best snuggler around town. I want time to freeze when we snuggle. I often stare at her--taking every tiny thing in. I long to notice each hair, breath, and grasp. Having this perspective makes each moment with her special, and I'm often reminded that my longing for my daughter is like my longing for my Savior. I want to learn everything about our Creator because He loves me. He knows me.

Date Nights
It's so very important for my husband and I to be intentional in spending time with one another. I don't want to lose sight of our first love for one another. Date nights are a routine and it's an event that is very much looked forward to.

Good Books and Quiet Time
I've always enjoyed reading, though it became a chore while in school. As of late, I feel that this joy had been rekindled! I was blessed to have been on the launch team for Jen Hatmaker's book For the Love in March. It was exactly what my soul needed. Since then, it has sparked an interest and true enjoyment in reading once more. I have now taken part in several book launch teams and I cannot say enough about the joy I get when I read and recommend these books to friends! I've also begun to have a better, and more consistent quiet time because of this deepened desire to read. God is so good. I have seen how He has used each of these launch teams to pull me closer to Him.

What are five joys in your life? What brings you joy? Link up to Mrs. Disciple and share your #FridayFive!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Thankful Thursday

It's Thursday! It's time for me to reflect on this week and express thanks for each and every thing. The good, the bad, and the ugly. :)

I am thankful for family time. Tyler had to travel, so we are enjoying some evenings at home. I love the simple things that we do as a family--cook, eat, bathe Harper. They are seemingly uneventful, but I love it. We are also planning to take Harper to see her first round of Christmas lights this weekend--it should be so awesome!

I am thankful for the opportunity to serve. We enjoyed a ladies staff day this week and I loved getting the opportunity to serve Blue Santa. We wrapped Christmas presents--and if you know me well, you know that I am awful at wrapping gifts. It was a challenge, but I loved it. I had a great time of community as well.

I am thankful for challenges. Challenges for me come in many forms--wrapping Christmas presents, writing for someone's blog, stretching myself, etc. I am thankful for those challenges because it gives me the opportunity to push myself and grow! Life is made sweeter when I can grown, stretch, and become better at something.

I am thankful for the opportunity to watch sweet Harper grow, change, and develop. She's changing rapidly. I don't want to miss any of it! Last weekend I watched Inside Out and I loved it. I want to cherish each memory with Harper.

I am thankful for Christmas lists and Amazon. Amazon Prime is a beautiful thing and has allowed me to knock off a good portion of my Christmas list. Prime has allowed me to shop without leaving the house, and it arrives at my house in TWO days. Everyone needs this in their lives.

I am thankful for hard days. Hard days make the easy days so much better and sweeter. Without the difficult days, I would grow tired of the good days. My innate desire is not to be satisfied with what I have, even the good days can become expected rather than treasured. I want to treasure each and every day!

I am thankful for simple truths. I often read aloud The Jesus Storybook Bible or Bedtime Bible Stories to Harper and I am often reminded of these beautiful, simple truths. Sometimes I need those reminders stripped down and simplified.

I am thankful for Advent. Other than gathering around an Advent wreath and lighting candles one Sunday per week in December, I don't remember knowing or participating much in Advent while growing up. Now that this will be Harper's first Christmas, we are looking forward to Christmas traditions with her. I want to be intentional with her, for her to see that the Advent season is all about the anticipation, waiting, and trusting in the coming of Christ.

I am thankful for fulfillment in Jesus. Advent is important in that we learn about Jesus being a true and better Adam. A true and better Moses. A true and better Noah. We no longer have to offer up a sacrificial lamb because He is the Lamb. We no longer have to light a menorah because He is the Light of Life. He fulfills all of God's promises. 2 Corinthians 1:20, "For no matter how many promises God has made, they are "Yes" in Christ. And so through him the "Amen" is spoken by us to the glory of God."

What are you thankful for?

Sunday, December 6, 2015

#FridayFive :: Five Traditions

This #FridayFive is an extremely sentimental and fun one! We are discussing Christmas Traditions! My family was very rich in Christmas tradition and as this will be our first Christmas with a child, we been reflective over the traditions we both held growing up and those we want to hold onto or create with our own family.

A staple in our house is to watch a Christmas movie -- generally we watch one a night, a few days leading up to Christmas. We love to kick off the Christmas movie season by inviting friends over to watch Elf with us. A family favorite of mine while growing up is A Christmas Story. We love this simple tradition and love to cultivate a sense of community while gathering around the TV with some cider or cocoa.

We snag ornaments from everywhere we travel. This in and of itself has become a beautiful tradition for us. Some of my favorites are from the National Parks that we visit throughout the year. One of the most meaningful ornaments is from Acadia National Park in Maine, as we named our daughter after our time there (you can read more about that here). We love to decorate the tree with those ornaments and reminisce over our time on that trip!

Every year, my family would load up the car and head out of town. When we arrived at the Christmas Tree Farm, we would squish several families onto a hayride. My brother and I would take turns deciding where we would stop to hop off. We would pick the perfect tree and cut it down. It was ours. We worked hard for that tree, sawing, chopping, and agreeing on the 'one.' Once the tree was cut, our family would be taken back to the barn at the front of the Tree Farm and drink cider while the tree was tied to the car. I would love to continue this tradition on; however, my husband is allergic! The best I can make of the situation is to use a fake tree and I now diffuse pine tree oil--which then makes the whole house smell like we have a real tree! Problem solved.

One thing I want to do with Harper is to go through Advent with her. My church had the Advent wreath and we would go through it each week as a family. I also want to partner Advent with being 'others' focused. Harper will help us look to help others, especially so in this season. I'm not sure what that will look like yet, but I know that we will look for ways to love others and express Christ's love for others by the giving up of ourselves.

Every child has a toy that they always want at Christmastime, but some years those toys don't make it under the tree. My parents have since given us one toy that we wanted as a kid, but we didn't get. It's now become a tradition of ours to receive one 'kid' gift each year. This is an absolute favorite of mine because we end up playing with those toys as a family! One year, we all got Beyblades and battled one another for hours. Two years ago, we each got Nerf Guns and played in the front yard--some of those foam darts didn't make it past Christmas day! I genuinely look forward to (and often attempt to guess at) the 'kid' gift that we get. I urge you to do this with your family if you don't already--we all love it and it's such a blast!

What are some of your Christmas traditions? Link up with Mrs. Disciple and let us know!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

What I Learned :: November 2015

Does time ever stop? This month has flown by. I'll be linking up with emily p. freeman for her 'What I Learned' series for the month of November. That being said, check her site out and read what others have learned during this month and link up your own post, too!

November was crazy--beautiful, encouraging, busy. I've blinked and it's December. Bitter winds whip, ushering in the cold chaos that is the holiday season. Before we embark on the Christmas season, I want to reflect on what November taught our family.

Who actually cares about a red cup?
Grab some coffee and enjoy your life. Honestly, this is hilarious that people were ever upset over a cup. I would much rather grab coffee with a friend and dig deep into each others' lives over worrying about the cup it is served in. I love people, we are funny.

Patience and trust can go a long way!
Wow, the month of November was PACKED with opportunities to be patient. It was hard. Trying. Difficult. Challenging. Ultimately, we put our trust in the Lord and we are BLESSED for doing it. Patience is a discipline--one that I will continually have to learn, relearn, and be reminded of often.

Subway systems are neat.
We visited the Big Apple during November--we enjoyed it as much as we could, with both of us getting sick on our first trip without our sweet baby. One thing we were extremely impressed by was the subway system in NY. If we wanted to get anywhere. Google knew EXACTLY which line to take, when the next one is coming, etc. Technology is amazing.
Launching books is a lot of fun!
I was notified of two more launch teams that I am on--Breaking Busy by Alli Worthington and Raising Grateful Kids by Kristen Welch. I love to read and learn and read some more! I'll post more about the books later.
Self-reflection is necessary. 
I'm a list maker. A to-do list queen, if you will. Self-reflection helps me analyze what I can do to get things knocked off that list. Diana Kerr is a wonderful Christian Life Coach and she hosted a webinar on finishing 2015 strong--and it starts with creating a to-do list, setting goals, and wanting to achieve them! Analyze your action plan. Tyler and I have been setting goals (both short and long-term) and we discuss them every 6 months or so. I have NEEDED this in my life.

Decision making can be scary, but is ultimately rewarding!
I suck at making decisions. I would rather somebody else choose for me, because I know that I would be happy with anything. Unfortunately, that does not and cannot happen all of the time in this life. I made a tough decision this month...and I am proud of myself for it. I was given a super simple tip from a friend, she said to flip a coin with the two sides of the decision. As you flip it, you know in your heart what side you want it to land on--call it before it lands, and that is what you truly decide. It sounds so flippant; however, I was pleasantly surprised with how true this coin flipping has been for myself. I also realized that I was attempting to please the masses, instead of doing what was best for me.

People SWIM in the ocean on Thanksgiving.
That is crazy! They are brave. I enjoyed some time at the beach over Thanksgiving, but nothing was more bewildering to me than those that were swimming--and they were not in wet-suits or anything. We also heard some crazy Black Friday stories, but we decided to #optoutside and go to the beach instead. It was awesome--a fire, s'mores, and the ocean.

November, you've been a treat! Looking forward to what December has to offer!