Monthly Archives: September 2013

Focus on Friendship Challenge #1

It’s time! Are you ready to focus on friendship?

You can read the introductory post here.

Friends Challenge

I’ll start off by being completely honest with you. I need this challenge to keep me accountable and focused. I could list all kinds of reasons why I have too much to do and not enough time to get it all done. But then you could do the same, couldn’t you? Because all of us are busy, tired, overwhelmed, and/or uninspired because of life’s challenges.

So I’m pushing through the excuses since excuses will never go away. I have no guarantees that I’ll have more time in the next season of my life. I do, however, hope to still have the wonderful friends God’s placed in my life through many seasons to come, so today I choose to be intentional.

Here’s this week’s challenge:

Identify a friend of yours that you know is hurting or going through an extra difficult time right now. If you’re aware of what she’s going through, the odds are you’ve already expressed your support and prayers for her. Sometime this week, go an extra step. Do something special to let her know she’s loved. Take her a meal, a cup of coffee, a plate of cookies, some new nail polish, a book or magazine – something that you know would ease her burden or brighten her day a little.

Here’s a personal example of how powerful a simple act can be. I recently had a friend hand-deliver a card showing support when she knew I was going through a hard time. It was extra special to me to not only get that simple, meaningful card, but also get to hug her and see her reassuring smile.

Go get busy! You have one week before the next challenge in our mission to show appreciation and love to the friends with whom God has blessed us. If you would like, let us know when you accomplish your goal either on the blog or on the Facebook page.

A Few Things I Learned in September

Reflection is such an important part of life. It’s how we realize what we learn through life. That’s why I got excited when I learned about Emily Freeman‘s great idea for dedicating one post at the end of the month to share what she learned. I decided to join her this month. Thanks to technology not cooperating, I lost the much longer version of the post, so here’s my abridged version (you’re welcome).

1. Assumption is a form a fear. It’s dangerous and, if left untamed, will always turn a mere thought into an uncontrollable situation. Relationships, reputations, and pretty much everything I can think of can be destroyed because we assume without actually seeking out the truth with those we’re assuming about. Don’t give place to assuming. Seek the Truth and He will set you free.

2. Prayer is mind-blowingly powerful and effective. Technically, I’ve known that for a while, but this month, I have either experienced or heard testimony to such a wide variety of answered prayers. I’ve also felt its necessity in the midst of sorrow. While the answers don’t always come in the timing or way we want them to, God WILL make Himself known when His people lift each other up.

Here’s one quick example of how God answers specific prayers that may seem insignificant or impossible to some. My mom lost the diamond pendant off a necklace my dad had given her. It held a great deal of special meaning to her and she almost always had it on. One day when she walked into her office at work, she noticed that the chain had come unclasped and was hanging on her clothes without the diamonds. She looked everywhere for it and then started praying that God would help her find it even though it would seem that it was lost forever. She had several of us praying with her about it as she continued to search for it over the next six weeks. This week as she was walking back into work from her lunch break, she noticed something in the parking lot glimmering in the sunlight. She took a couple of steps closer to it, and sure enough! There was her pendant in perfect condition. Don’t ever discount the power of prayer!

3. I have some pretty awesome friends. I already knew this one, too, but I’ve been blessed by the way they’ve proved it to me yet again in just the past few weeks. I am truly blessed!

4. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been on a quest for finding just the right balance in life. I struggle with it, however, and often get frustrated or discouraged when I seem to forget or not have time for things I believe important or spend too much time doing things that should be done quickly. I loved what Crystal Paine shared this week on the topic. She learned at a Dave Ramsey conference that, “we should test whether or not we have balance in our lives by viewing how much time we’ve devoted to each area of priority in our life over the course of a year — not the course of a day or week.” I hope you find freedom in this as I do!

5. You don’t always have to spend a lot of money to redecorate your home. I (and by that I mean my mom did the painting while I made sure the kids didn’t “help) finally got around to painting over the green walls I’ve had since right after we moved into this house five years ago. The green seemed like a good idea at the time, but I was over it. In the process of moving furniture around for painting, we came up with a new way to arrange some of my furniture, and I was able to use several things I already had in new ways. The new gray walls combined with my new furniture arrangement makes me so happy!

6. As a newbie coffee drinker, I’ve been trying different creamers. I thought I’d love some of the extra-scrumptious-looking ones, (that means you Almond Joy creamer), but it turns out, my favorites are the simple, more classic flavors like cinnamon vanilla and pumpkin. Oh! And in case you didn’t already know, you should definitely start adding pumpkin pie spice to your coffee either before or after you brew it! Yum!

What have you learned in September?

Throwing Away the “Just Wait Untils”

“Just wait!”

I’m growing to despise that phrase the more I think about it. I’ve been guilty of spouting it off, but I’m trying to remedy the habit.

No one feels encouraged when those who have gone before them throw  “Just wait until…” into a conversation. I may be the only mom guilty of this, but I have a theory that the “just wait” attitude is pretty common amongst mothers.

We look at those beautiful newlywed women with their slim figures, cute outfits, and 9:00-5:00 jobs and think, “If only that were still me,” but to curb the guilt that comes with our jealousy, “just wait” becomes our motto.

Read the rest of my post over at Finding Heaven Today.

Focus on Friendship Challenge

Friendships only last when we’re intentional about them.

Intentional doesn’t always mean impossible or even difficult. Sometimes it just means doing extra things here and there to make sure we are connecting with others. Granted, there are seasons where we all have to put our energy into surviving illness or trials or meeting demands or deadlines. But ultimately, far too often, wouldn’t you agree that we take the easy route when it comes to investing into quality friendships? Rather, we unintentionally adopt our cultures’ messed up definition of what a friend should look like.

God created us to need each other. He is the creator of friendships, and if it is truly our goal to bring him glory in all areas of our life, then we should seek to do it in the area of friendship as well!

I’d like to invite you to claim October as the month to be intentional about our friendships by joining me in the Focus on Friendship Challenge. As time has passed since I’ve completed writing my book, I’ve had time to think about what it says even more.

Friends Challenge

This year has not been one where I’ve been great at investing a lot into my friends because, well, I’ve had a baby. Consequently, as rich and blessed as my life is, I’ve also been a sleep-deprived zombie, and I have not been great at learning how to cope with it. Recently, however, my sweet baby has decided to start sleeping a little more, and I’ve been able to think about how blessed I am to have so many incredible friends in my life. Then I started brainstorming how I could start showing love and appreciation to the people who are important in my life and thought it might be fun to have others join me.

Can you imagine the effect we could have on our communities if we all took time to express our love and appreciation to those who have made us better people?!?

So here are a couple of guidelines for how you can participate in the challenge. (Some of you may have been a part of blog challenges in the past, but many of you have no idea what I’m talking about. I’ll try to explain my version of a blog challenge.)

1. Each Monday during the month of October, I’ll give you a post with the guidelines for that week’s challenge. You’ll have a whole week to accomplish your goal. Most of the challenges will require little to no financial investment. You can make it as elaborate or as simple as your current season of life allows.

2. Complete the challenge (see example below) and then head on over to my Facebook page and let us know you got it done! Feel free to share about your experiences there, but you don’t have to! Some things are better left as personal, but accountability is good, too, so choose which path works best for you. The important thing is that you make the effort to be intentional in your friendships!

Here’s an example of what a challenge will look like. It would be great practice to go ahead and get warmed up doing this “trial challenge” in the week leading up to the official Focus on Friendship Challenge next week.

Identify at least 5 of the most positively influential people from your past. How did they help make you a better person? What did you learn from them? Pick at least one (all five would be great if you have the time of course) of these wonderful people and then contact him/her in some way (whether through a card, an email, or text) and let them know how much you appreciate what they’ve done to make your life richer. If you have more money to invest, you could give them a small gift. If you have a tight budget, you can just contact them electronically. Either way, taking the time to love on them will mean so much!

Someone once told me that no matter how much we admire or appreciate others, we aren’t doing them any favors until we make the effort to communicate our feelings to them. Making a difference in someone’s life does not have to be hard. Oftentimes it’s as simple as saying “thank you” and “I love you.”

Oh, and if you are interested in reading more about how you can find and choose true friendship, you can purchase my eBook as well.

Are you up for the challenge? I’d love to know who all is doing it with me! Leave a comment, send me an email, or let me know through Facebook or Twitter if you’re joining in! It would be wonderful to see hundreds of people across the country being touched by a few people who took time to be intentional enough to say thank you for being a good friend. So go make a difference! Be a friend! Enjoy the joy that will come from your efforts. 🙂

She

Today, my baby girl is officially 8 months old! Combine that with today’s Five Minute Friday prompt, and I kind of had to write a little bit about my little girl before the day is over. As much as I have enjoyed being a boy mom over the past four years, having a little girl is adding a lot of sweet and special elements to my life that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

Here goes today’s five minute free write

She

She brightens every morning with her smile and single dimple.

She is the reason I now drink coffee. and every day at that.

She is the reason I make sure to use the word beautiful as many times as possible in any given day.

She is the reason I spend hours in a dimly-lit room in a rocking chair.

She is the reason I will search every last inch of the house and choose to be late rather than leave the house without a pacifier.

She is the source of joy on days that I’m feeling unhappy.

She brings warmth to our family that wasn’t here before she joined us.

She inspires and challenges me with her determination. She doesn’t give up when she wants something, and I pray she continues on that path in life.

She is the reason I take care to not berate and scrutinize my reflection in the mirror, knowing she is watching and will copy what I do.

She is the source of frustration to her brother’s new love for Lego’s.

She is making meal times fun with her desire to try everything we will let her put in her mouth. Carbs will not be your friend for forever, dear one, so enjoy that bread while you can. 😉

She has a laugh that makes strangers smile and a way of making people stop and talk to her when we’re walking out in public.

She is God’s gift to me.

5 minute friday

A Blogiversary Reflection and Giveaway

Sometimes you just know you’re called to do something. I knew that when I started this blog two years ago. I didn’t have a handle on why, but as much as I fought doing it, God was quick to respond with an undeniable answer that said, “Just do it!”

So here I am, two years older, hopefully a little wiser, and definitely much more in love with Jesus because I have seen Him work on me through this little outlet in the blogosphere. And I’m taking a little time to reflect as this little milestone in my life approaches because sometimes I tend to forget what I learned otherwise. Also, I want to encourage you to go for that “thing” that you know you’re supposed to do.

birthday-cupcake blog

Photo Credit

When I was leery of starting up a blog, I had a list of excuses, questions, and concerns. Here are just a couple as well as some of the answers I’ve received in the process.

1. I can’t keep up with all of the expectations. This is true, but now, I don’t want to, either. I don’t post 3 posts a week with perfectly edited photographs. In life, none of us can meet every single expectation we or others set. We’re imperfect people. No one is handing me a grade card, and I’m not doing this for a paycheck. It’s a chance for me to grow, learn, put myself out there, and just be me. Exceptional. Average. Whatever I’m feeling that day because we all have times where we’re feeling one extreme or the other. The important thing is that we strive for finding the balance, and writing helps me find my balance.

2. What if I fail? In the beginning, I believed that I would have to make money or be changing the lives of lots of people in order to make it worth my time. While I have made a little bit of money from the sales of me eBook, it’s not a significant amount of cash. Also, I haven’t become famous. But I haven’t failed. While I’m no mega-blogger nor do I even foresee attending a blogging conference in the near future (although it would be pretty fun to do that someday), I’ve gained so much! I’ve become more intentional at looking for God working in my everyday life. I’ve become more confident that He can do things through an insecure, easily-overwhelmed girl like me. He’s spoken to me through this space. He’s brought people into my life to encourage me. I have deeper friendships with those who read my ramblings. Additionally, I’ve had the opportunity to meet some incredible women who share their hearts on their own blogs. If that’s failing, then I’ll take it. 😉

Sometimes we are called to do something to benefit others, and sometimes we’re called to do something in order to grow ourselves. The ultimate gift is when we can accomplish both. My hope is that I’ve benefited others at least half as much as pursuing this thing that seemed crazy and impossible to me has benefited me.

Going after God’s dreams for us will never come up disappointing. None of this process has looked like I imagined it would, but I couldn’t be more pleased with the results thus far. It’s exciting to realize that the canvas of this blog will be ever-changing and growing as I continue to change, grow, and learn in my relationship with God and face new circumstances along the way.

Next to the closer relationship I have with God as a result of letting Him speak to and through me on the blog, I can honestly say that one of my favorite things is being able to connect with you amazing readers. It’s kind of nerve-wracking sometimes to put my thoughts out there for whoever to read, but it is completely worth it when I hear from someone who says she was encouraged. I believe that the ability to relate with others is a gift God wants us all to work on.

One more thing before I wrap this post up! As a thank you for being my friend and reading this rather lengthy post, I’d like to give a little blog birthday present to one of you. One of my absolute favorite books of all time is Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. It’s a book I believe every single woman should read, so here’s your chance to get your own copy. Don’t be shy to enter even if you’ve read it before! It’s worth having on your shelf to read again and again. Or, you can pass it on to someone else! Much love, my friends, and thank you for journeying through life with me.

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Soli Deo Gloria

Five Minute Friday: Mercy Triumphs

Joining up with lots of beautiful ladies for Five Minute Friday today. It’s a once-a-week opportunity to write freely with no editing or interruptions about a given topic. What’s in the heart come out without time to fine-tune it. I enjoy participating in this challenge when time allows. It’s therapeutic and a great way to connect with other women whose minds and hearts contemplated the same word I did.

5 minute friday

Today’s word: Mercy

START

A whisper starts a story that makes people wonder.

Mercy triumphs over judgment.

The flesh allows the the wondering to turn into assumptions.

Mercy triumphs.

The assumption becomes fear incarnate. People find solace in the fear of assumption rather than following after Truth.

Yet mercy WILL triumph.

Assumption leads to judgment.

Still mercy triumphs over judgment.

The fearful find comfort in their titles and assumptions.

Even so, mercy triumphs.

The righteous are persecuted yet God still holds them. And mercy is winning even when it seems the enemy has taken control.

Showing mercy is doing the hard thing. It is taking a stand. It is saying that God is in control when everything around you seems out of control. It is saying truth is the only thing worth holding onto. It says I am not done with you when others say they are. Mercy seems weak to the world, yet it is the very Seat on which or Savior and Creator sits.

Mercy is enough.

STOP