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Monday, December 11, 2017

Holiday Gift Guide: True Joy

This verse just doesn't want to leave me alone. Everywhere I go this verse comes up. I think God may be trying to tell me something and it's time for me to stop and listen.

You see, I am a planner girl and I love to organize! I don't necessarily think that planning is a bad thing. God does want us to be responsible and organized but only with the things that he allows us to control. This is where I struggle! Realizing what is and isn't under my control can be hard. There are a lot of things that I think I can control or fix, until finally I realize I can't.

This season, and more so, this year, I have slowly started to let go of those things that I want to control, but know I can't. I am not saying that I am completely worry free and have submit all control to Him, because if I am being honest, I do take it back sometimes.

I'm getting there!!! You see, I had a lot of things planned for this week, this month, this season, this year even, but those things didn't happened. The expectations of so many things, just fell short.

My word for 2017 was JOY! I wanted to find joy, true joy, in everything, even in the expectations that fell short, and caused a lot pain and hurt. Of course, as I sit here and type this blog post, I realize that I am amidst the season that is supposed to be the most joyful time of year, right? But what do you do when Christmas is not full of joy like everyone says it should be?

Bear with me for a minute, while I break this down for you. I promise I am going somewhere with this!!

What if I told you, that the Christmas we know, the one that we celebrate on December 25th, is not actually the date that Jesus was born. That it wasn't even in Winter, but early Fall. And,....What if I also told you, that the joy we expect to find at Christmas time, the sparkly lights, the Christmas music, the gifts, all the parties & festivities, isn’t really TRUE joy.



Don’t get me wrong, all of that stuff is nice and it does make us happy, for the moment, but it is all just things. What happens when Christmas is over and all of those things are gone? Do we still feel that same joyous feeling?

To me, joy is not a feeling, so much as it is a state of being. When I was younger, my mom always told me, that in order to find real joy, I needed to do this.

J- Jesus First
O- Others Second
Y- Yourself last

What does this look like you might ask? Let’s just say, this Christmas you have a heavy burden that you are carrying and there is nothing, not even that gift you have always wanted, that can bring you joy. Or, maybe, it’s not just one big thing, but a million little things, that have you all stressed and you just can’t find it in you to be joyful.

I’ve been there friends, but what changes our perspective during these circumstances is when we put Jesus first, when we acknowledge that we need Him. We lift up our hurts and burdens to Him and trust that He is in control and that His love never fails. Secondly, we take the focus off of ourselves and whatever our situation may be, and instead, we focus on others around us and how we can encourage them. This is hard, but when we put Jesus first and ask Him for the strength to do this, it is possible. Let’s also not forget that when we serve others and show love to our neighbors, Whom is it that we are really serving????

JESUS.

And I am sure you can guess what happens when we do this? Our problems, our hurts, our burdens, they become the last thing we think about, because our focus is no longer on ourselves. This, my friends is how we find true joy, because it’s not about us. It’s not about all the gifts, or all of the parties. It’s not about the perfectly decorated home or our schedule full of festive activities. These things may bring us joy, but it’s only temporary.

It's about the ones we love. Our family, our friends, our interactions with others and how we see Jesus in them. It's all the moments, good and bad, that He is there with us! Showing His love for us.



And it's us, putting Him first and fully trusting Him. Just like that first Christmas when He was born unto us. Mary trusted! She believed! She knew Who He was and what He was going to become. The ultimate Gift of joy, the Savior to this World.

So instead of writing out a list of gifts for you to buy, like I had originally planned, I write to you about the One Ultimate Gift. My prayer is that during this Christmas season you are able to find it. I pray that amidst your plans and festivities that you make room for Him! I know that for me, it took changing a lot of what I originally had planned to do. I had to cancel some of my plans and cross off a few of my to-dos. I had to let go of what I wanted to control and trust His plan, not just for Christmas, but in every Season of my life!

Many Blessings,


Tuesday, December 5, 2017

What I Learned This Season



1. A new perspective helps!! There is a difference between being thankful (the feeling) and giving thanks (the action). Inspiration from @lilsteedsmom


2. Instagram is great, but it's not everything! I love the connections I have made on there and I know I can count on lots of fun hashtags and inspiration when I am on there, but I have finally come to the point, where I just don't care. I don't care if don't get to post for a hashtag. I don't care if I loose followers or if I don't get that many likes on a post. It's OK! It's definitely a great tool and it took me awhile to get to this place, but I can't tell you how much better I feel, now that I realized this and accepted it.

3. There are lots of ways we can be the change right where we are. I had so much  fun writing (micro-blogging) about this for the #write31days challenge this year! You can see all of the posts here -->  "Be the Change". And it will only take you about 10 minutes to read through them all.

4. My sink will forever be filled with dishes. No matter how hard I try to keep it empty, it never fails. I have come to accept this and I am ok with it!!... I think!


5. I really love to sing, a lot!!  I have ever since I was young. I sing in the car, the shower, around the house while I'm cleaning, and even to myself when I don't even realize. You know where I won't sing?...... In front of other people. Why?? Because I am terrified. I have this fear in my head that when I go to sing in front of others that I am going to sound awful. Call it a pride thing, but I just can't seem to get over it. The funny thing is, I always pictured myself singing in front of others at church or other events, but when I actually start to consider it, I get that feeling again. I pray that one day, with His help, I can overcome this fear!

6. Speaking of fear, talking in front of large groups is not my thing either. I have learned that during these situations, I start to sweat, my hearts starts to race, and if it's really bad, my eye starts to twitch. I am a speech language pathologist in a school and I have to sit in meetings a lot with parents, I have no choice. You would think that by now I would be better at it, since I have done so many, but half the time, I feel like I can't even control it. It's so embarrassing. The one thing that has helped, is prayer & preparation! You can read more about this, in one of my posts I wrote about Finding Courage.

7. I have finally created my own planner using a bullet journal and I love it! I learned about bullet journaling at the end of last year and I wasn't really interested. I had my eye on the planner from Inkwell press for 2017. I really did love this planner, and I feel like out of all the ones I have used in the past, this one had mostly everything that I wanted, but not all. As I continued to practice my hand lettering this year, the thought of creating my own, using the bullet method kept coming up. I knew it was going to take a lot of time, but I knew I was ready for the challenge. It will be using it for 2018, however I did add in December because it's a crazy month, and well, I just couldn't wait! Here are some photos!

                   




And that's it!! It was a great season. I loved watching the leaves change colors and that smell of Fall in the air. We hosted Thanksgiving at our house and it was wonderful!! I am super excited for Christmas this year and can't wait to see what God has in store for 2018! I hope this Winter season is filled with many memories and lots of love for you all,... and if possible maybe we will learn a thing or two! Until next time...

Many Blessings,




Monday, November 20, 2017

Christmas This Year & Two Freebies

Every year, after Thanksgiving, we pull out the tree and all the decorations and we transform our house in to Christmas heaven. I love this time of year! Especially, now that I have a child of my own. It brings back some great memories from when I was a kid. I love that we have carried on some each of our families traditions, as well as, start a few new ones of our own.

This year I think I started a new tradition! Since we are hosting Thanksgiving at our house, with close to 30 people, I decided to decorate the house for Christmas before Thanksgiving, instead of after! I know that this probably makes a lot of people mad, myself included if it was last year, but I kind of have a new perspective on the whole thing.

You see, I used to think that if you decorated your house for Christmas before Thanksgiving, that you were just rushing through and totally skipping over the Thanksgiving holiday. But,....... but, if you really think about it, why can't you celebrate both. I love Thanksgiving, hence the 30 people I am hosting at my house, so wouldn't it make more sense to decorate before, so that your house was is all festive for your guests. Plus, you get to enjoy the decor for a week longer. I mean we all know that it goes by way too fast. We can still celebrate Thanksgiving with all the love and feels it brings while having Christmas decor up. It doesn't really make a difference. It's all about your heart and if you are making sure to make the most out of every holiday then who cares what kind of decor you put up.

This year, I have decided to go with a very simple look. I wanted a more natural feel, kind of how it was thousands of years ago, on that very first Christmas night. I went with browns and greens, with hints of gold and white. When I close my eyes and try to picture what is was like on that night, these are the colors that I see. No bright flashy colored lights or perfectly decorated trees, just the soft glow of the moon and the twinkling stars above. The wooden beams holding up the stable where he lay and the soft white clothes they wrapped Him in.


Here is a sneak peak of some of the decor I have up. I will be doing a full Christmas home tour on Sunday evening here on the blog and in my stories on Instagram, so be sure to check back.


 


Also, here are a few freebies for you. Two years ago I created a simple advent devotional to do with my family on each Sunday in December. It is a special time where we can all sit around and reflect on all the love, joy, peace, and hope that the season brings. And, I don't know if it's too soon for Christmas tags, but if you have already started shopping for gifts like me, then you will want these tags when you wrap your gifts. I use the different symbols for the different members of my family. That way I know who each gift is for, but I don't have to write their names on them!

Download Here

Download Here



 Many Blessings,

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Give Technology A Break

I know that it can be hard after a long day of work or when we have a long list of to-do's to sit and play or entertain your kids. I am not saying that I don't enjoy spending time with my son. I love doing things with him, but if I had a choice, it would be to go for a bike ride or a do an adventure walk, or make some sort of fun craft. I don't really enjoy playing cars and trucks and building legos. Part of me feels guilty for sharing this with you, but I'm just being honest and we are only human.

I have to admit that sometimes I will opt for what is easy and let him watch TV or play a game or two on the computer. For awhile it was the phone that he wanted to go on and my husband and I would let him. I know that there are some of you who are probably really good about this stuff and allow very minimal screen time, I applaud you! We are really working hard towards reducing the screen time in our house as well, and not just for my son, but for all of us!

Please don't misunderstand what I am saying though. It can go both ways. I don't necessarily think that TV and going on a computer/phone is bad from time to time, but there has to be a limit. I do believe that my son learned a lot from the shows and educational videos that he watched (we were selective with what he was viewing).  I just think that we didn't realize the not so good things that were resulting from this screen time.

Now, I don't want you to think that we would just leave our son for hours on end watching TV or playing on the computer, either, with no interaction. It was usually for 30-45 minutes, an hour at the most, but even that we felt was too much and we needed to cut back. It all started over the Summer when I took a break from all social media sites and cut back on my TV time. It was great!!! I really saw a change in my overall mood and honestly I was less stressed. I realized if this is what I felt after taking a break, then my son probably would feel the same way.

We have completely cut out the phone and we do our best to not go on it when we are around him. It is hard at times, but it has made all the difference in his mood and behavior. He still watches TV and we will occasionally let him go the the computer, but it is very limited.

The one thing that I found that helped us get through those times of boredom and wanting to watch TV or go on the phone, was reading more. I went to the library and got tons and tons of books and just started filling the time with more reading. Below is a list of books that we have grown to love and  thought that I would share! A lot of these books have great messages behind them and they are super fun to read!

For us adults, cutting technology out completely, might not be an option, but we can certainly take a break from time to time! I promise it is worth it!


      





Many Blessings,


Thursday, October 19, 2017

Finding Courage

You would think that by now, I would be an expert at these child study team meetings, because I have been through so many, but there are still times when I get anxious and afraid before I go into them.

I am a speech pathologist in a school district, and meeting with parents to discuss very important things, is something I do on a regular basis. I've been in very long meetings before, some that did not go as planned and some that last all of 5 minutes. Emotions can run high and being a parent of my own now, I can see why.

I have this weird twitch that I seem to get whenever I get really nervous or anxious, usually during a meeting. My heart starts to race, my palms start to sweat, my voice gets really shaky, and then if it gets bad enough, the eye twitch comes. My whole body just goes crazy with adrenaline and things don't really start to go back to normal, until after the meeting is almost over. I always wonder what the parents must say to each other, after they leave.

I have gotten a better over the years. Most meetings are wonderful. They run smoothly and quickly and we are all laughing together at the end, but they're not all the way! Some are very tough, tensions and emotions are high, and we have to do our best as a professional team, to keep it together.

So why do I get this way, all anxious and sweaty, eyes twitching and heart pounding?

Fear. Confidence stealing, anxiety filling Fear!

Fear that I am going to say the wrong thing and screw up the meeting. Fear, that I don't know what I am doing, even though I have had many years of schooling and experience in this profession. Fear, that the parents aren't going to like me or think that I am being insensitive. Pretty much anything that could go wrong!

About two weeks ago, I was about to have one of these meetings that I was fearful of. Leading up to this event, the interactions were tension filled and strong willed. I prayed for God's wisdom in dealing with this situation and for Him to help me see things from a different perspective. I was feeling better about the whole situation, until two days before, we received a letter stating that they would be recording the meeting and would be seeking counsel if things did not go the way they wanted during the meeting. Any chance of NOT having my eye twitch went right out the window.

Without going into too many details, I would like to share with you how the meeting went that day. I had my usual devotions that morning and prayed for everyone and the outcome of the meeting. It was not scheduled until the end of the day, so I had to go through the whole day with it in the back of my mind. I kept running through how the meeting was going to go and what I was going to say. At lunch, I decided to go sit in my car for few minutes to clear my head. That's when God started to bring to mind all of the different times in my life, I have been faced with fear. I realized that through every situation, He was always there right by my side. With His strength and power, I have overcome may fears, and today's meeting would be no different.

It's says in 2 Timothy 1:7, "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, love, and sound mind. And that's exactly what I prayed for that day. His power & strength to just get through the meeting, breath by breath, for His love to run through me, so that my words were compassionate and grace filled, and for sound mind, so that I could use the knowledge I have to speak truth and help to create a solution for this problem.



I am happy to tell you that I made it through the meeting. Not without sweating and feeling like my heart was going to pound right out of my chest, of course, but no eye twitching! Praise God!

Friends, God never promised us an easy life without fear. He only promised to be with us every step of the way, guiding us through. All of the not so pleasant feelings that come along with it, are going to be there too, but I can tell you from my experiences, that the feeling of facing your fears and overcoming them with God's help, is a far better feeling than running from them because you are afraid!

Will you boldly go and trust Him to lead you through whatever your "meeting" is today?

Many Blessings,

Saturday, October 7, 2017

A Huge Thanks!

I just wanted to say thank you to all who played along in my giveaways this week. I had so much fun putting these together and sharing with you guys!! It means more than you know to have you guys check out my blog!

Here is a cute little print that I hand painted for you, to say thanks for joining me this week! Just click the download button under the photo!

Download Here

I hope that you will continue to follow along on Instagram as I finish out this #write31days challenge for the month of October! You can also subscribe to my blog, so that you don't miss out on and posts. See the tab at the top of my page! I only send one to two emails a month!  

Happy Fall & Many Blessings,


Friday, October 6, 2017

Day 5 Giveaway

This is it!! Today is the last day!! Day 5 of my Fall Favorites Giveaway! My all time favorite thing about Fall!! I think it's a favorite for many others as well. Drum Roll.................

Fall Home Decor!! I absolutely love to decorate my home for Fall! I put on some music, grab a cup of coffee, and just spend hours decorating, room by room. I love coming up with new ideas on how to decorate. Trying to find new ways of using items and creating perfectly styled vignettes! I love how my home feels around Fall. It's just a feeling that you can't explain. Something about Fall decor makes a home so cozy and comforting!

Today I am giving away a cute blessed pumpkin sign, with a few cute little porcelain pumpkins. I love these little guys!! I am also giving away your choice of a $10. gift card to either HomeGoods or Kirklands. Winners choice!

Question: What are some unique ideas that you have for decorating your house for Fall? Head on back to Instagram and leave your answer in the comments section.

Thanks to everyone who played along all week!! Check back tomorrow for a special surprise for all of my friends who participated in these giveaways!! I hope that you will continue to follow along for the rest of the month during my #write31days challenge. I have some great things to share with you guys! Have a fabulous Fall weekend!

Many Blessings,