Friday, June 16, 2017

Friday loves

It's Friday! This week has been hard, but here are some fun things that are getting me through the week! What are you favorites this week??

1. The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines. This book is so sweet and hilarious. I love their down-to-earth attitude and godly attitudes!


Shania Twain is releasing a new CD in September, yeeeessss!!!

3. Morning coffee. I know it sounds silly considering my Starbucks obsession, but I have never been a  morning coffee drinker. Unfortunately, I've been having a harder time getting up in the mornings. Fortunately, coffee with cream and a drop of vanilla syrup is there for me.

4. The Color Story app. It's the perfect way to edit your photos oh-so-pretty!

5. Undisclosed podcast. Okay, I know I'm soo soo late to the game, but I just discovered this follow-up to Serial. Ever since Serial ended, I've been desperate to know more. I am currently listening to Undisclosed season 1. All I can say is that this one better not leave me hanging!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Approaching the Psalms

Good morning! I had to be up extra early today for an orthodontist appointment before work. I was looking through old posts of mine and found this one that has some of the highest traffic of all my posts. I thought I'd share again these thoughts on how to "decode" the Psalms that I heard from a speaker at church. Let me know how it works for you!

Like me, the speaker had struggled with finding interest in the book of Psalms. I don't know about you, but I've never really enjoyed reading the Psalms. I find that I use verses from the Psalms to support studies or topics I am writing on, but I wouldn't open to the Psalms to just start reading. 

However, the class opened up my perspective on the Psalms. As the speaker pointed out, the whole Bible has a practical application for us. It is true of the Psalms, and here are a few steps he used to show me how to really enjoy the book of Psalms! The same can be done with any area of the Bible you are struggling to enjoy.

Approaching the Psalms:

1. Day-to-day advice
-- Look for themes and advice on your relationship with others

2. Objectives for life
-- Look for guidance on goals for personal growth

3. Guidance for your relationship with God
-- Look for evidence on how the Psalmist speaks to God

Afterwards, I spent some time reading the Psalms and using these tips. I found that the Psalms truly are useful and practical! Thankfully, God is SO much bigger than I!

Friday, June 9, 2017

This Sweet Life We Live

Hey friends! I randomly got this Friday off, so YAY! As usual, life has been jam-packed with good stuff. 

An unrelated but pretty picture!!
Daniel and I have been looking for a new place for some time, because the place we rent is being sold. On Sunday, we went to look at an adorable two-bedroom cottage and signed the lease on Tuesday! It's a great place and we are excited for the move. However, I've loved this little house we live in now and it will be very bittersweet to leave. 

My youngest brother is graduating from high school and I couldn't be prouder of what a wonderful person he is. Colton is fun to be around, always willing to help anyone out, and most of all, loves God. He's a pretty great guy!

I just received a gorgeous copy of The Nesting Place, which you should totally check out for book club this month! 

In other news, we have a houseful of people coming over tonight and I think my dishwasher is broken. I may spend the rest of my day off washing all the dishes that I have crammed into the dishwasher for the last 4 days. I'm actually drinking cranberry juice out of the bottle because we don't have a single clean cup, but I can't bear to wash one by hand. Yikes! #firstworldproblems

Anyway, I'm just heading out to start my long weekend with a 9 mile run. I'll be out there with my raisins and my Jamie Ivey podcast. I'd rather do just about anything else. Wish me luck! 

Happy weekend! What are you doing this weekend?!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Meeting Together

If we look back to the Old Testament and the 10 commandments that God gave the Israelites, we hear about the Sabbath. So what's the Sabbath all about?  

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. Exodus 20:8-11

It is interesting to note that observing the Sabbath was one of the ten commandments. It's purpose was to draw their hearts from themselves to God. Later, in the time of Jesus, the Pharisees had so many rituals and rules about following the Sabbath that they completely missed the purpose.

What was the purpose? I think it was to refocus, to bring spiritual renewal. As our constantly-working culture has begun to discover, working all the time leads to problems. We NEED rest. We need renewal. God knew so much better than we did that humans needed that day. But it wasn't just a day of relaxation, it was a day to focus on Him. He knew that the cares of daily life would draw us away from Him. So He commanded that one day be set aside to Him, because He knew we needed that.

We still do. We might not follow the Sabbath to the T, but we do follow it in principle. Instead, we are commanded to meet together on a weekly basis. I don't take this commandment lightly. There is a REASON God told us to do this. It's not just a suggestion, it's a reminder that if we don't leave time for that weekly renewal (which really should happen on a daily basis), the cares of this world will pull us away.

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25

Miss one week of church? The second week becomes easier. Then, the third and the fourth week. Maybe it seems like not such a big deal and we still believe in God. But God knows what we need. It's not to remember Him in the quiet of our home on Sundays. It's not to remember Jesus in the woods. It's to meet with those of like faith. I truly believe that is an essential piece. Meeting together brings encouragement to us and to others. That's not to say that we can't remember Him individually, but we do need that meeting together frequently.

Too often, we believe that church is about what it brings to us. I don't believe it always is. Hopefully it brings us encouragement and renewal, but sometimes I understand that we just don't feel like being there. Be there anyway. 

Make meeting together your first priority. It shows others and it shows God what is priority in your life! Next time you plan a vacation, plan it so that you can still meet with those of the faith. Next time you go on a road trip, make sure you don't spend Sunday morning driving. Next time you are faced with a decision to either worship God alone or in fellowship with others, choose fellowship with others. God knows what we need so much more than we do and I am so thankful for that. I'm also so thankful for those that I meet with on a weekly basis to give me much needed encouragement from my day-to-day life. 

Lift up your eyes, look up from the drudgery of life! Rejoice because of the hope God has given each of us and encourage each other with this hope!

Friday, June 2, 2017

Friday loves

Oh Friday, how I love you! It was SO nice to have a 4 day week but I am ready for the weekend, again! This weekend, I'm thrilled to just be relaxing (I think)-- which really means studying, running, doing chores and other such fun things. 

How was your week? Here's what I am loving this week!

1. Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos. It's the sequel to another book I enjoyed called Love Walked In. They are enjoyable, feel-good reads (at least this one is so far). 

2. Kenra leave-in conditioner. I've been using this EVERY day for at least a couple years. I forgot to take it on my trip last weekend, so I had a newfound appreciation of it once I got home!

3. This HIIT workout for the legs. It was super hard (to me, at least), but I thought she did a great job of targeting all the major leg muscles. 

4. The book of Hebrews. Every year, we follow a daily Bible reading plan and right now we are in the book of Hebrews. It's a pretty difficult book to understand, in my opinion, but also very exciting when you can begin to put the pieces together! 

5. Dasani black cherry water. I have been drinking lots of La Croix, but Daniel picked up these and I love the black cherry flavor! They are so perfect for a refreshing, cold drink after a long day of work. 

What are you loving this week? Hope you have a fabulous weekend!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

May Book Club: How to Win Friends & Influence People

It's the end of May and time for another book club read! Here's my review of How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie. 

Stars: 4.5/5
Synopsis on GoodreadsYou can go after the job you want...and get it! You can take the job you have...and improve it! You can take any situation you're in...and make it work for you!

Since its release in 1936, How to Win Friends and Influence People has sold more than 15 million copies. Dale Carnegie's first book is a timeless bestseller, packed with rock-solid advice that has carried thousands of now famous people up the ladder of success in their business and personal lives.

As relevant as ever before, Dale Carnegie's principles endure, and will help you achieve your maximum potential in the complex and competitive modern age.  

My thoughts: I had no idea when I chose it, but this book was written in the early 1900s. That made me love it all the more, because the writing was a little "old-fashioned" while still speaking straight to me. Carnegie's book is split into four sections with information on handling people, ways you to make people like you, how to win people over, and how to influence people without offense. 

For someone like me, who really struggles to befriend people, this book is full of practical advice for how to be more likeable. He also has a section on how to work through disagreements, which is something I tend to struggle with. And it's not quite what you would think, which is how to "win" the argument. In fact, he says that you can't actually win an argument and the only way to come out on top is to yield. 

The book is full of thousands of stories that demonstrate ways to work better with people. Overall, I really enjoyed this book and the advice that I am going to use in my everyday life.

Read this book if: You want to be a better "people" person. 

Inspiring thoughts from the author:  
Your smile is a messenger of your good will. Your smile brightens the lives of all who see it. To someone who has seen a dozen people frown, scowl or turn their faces away, your smile is like the sun breaking through the clouds. Especially when that someone is under pressure from his bosses, his customers, his teachers or parents or children, a smile can help him realize that all is not hopeless-- there there is a joy in the world. How to Win Friends & Influence People, pg 102

So what did you think of the book? I'd love to hear your thoughts. And don't forget to stop by next month for June's book, The Nesting Place

Friday, May 26, 2017

Your Best Life

Romans 12 is one of those wonderful, practical chapters of the Bible that I like to read often! I know the post is a bit lengthy, but I thought it most useful to include the Bible verses that I am talking about. 

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will (verses 1-2).

What does it mean to offer your bodies as living sacrifices? Under the law of Moses, the animals offered as sacrifices were completely burned up, or consumed, with fire. I think that being a LIVING sacrifice means to be consumed with your calling. It's up to you to ask yourself-- am I one-hundred percent dedicated to God? Does my life line up with His will? Are there areas of my life that I know are displeasing to God but I'd prefer to ignore?

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function,  so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.  We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith;  if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully (verses 5-8).

A necessary trait in discipleship is humility. Without it, it is quite difficult, if not impossible, to show love to God and to our neighbor. It often comes natural to humans to look down on those who appear "weaker" or less capable. We must catch ourselves and realize that this kind of thinking is completely out of line with God's thinking. Each of us has different gifts, different strengths, different weaknesses. We must not call gifts that are different than ours bad. While not everyone may be living up to their gifts, it is not our job to judge, but to encourage the members of the church. As for us, we are responsible for doing our gifts to the BEST of our abilities.

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;

    if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.

In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (verses 9-21).

Are there any more practical verses in the Bible? Paul lays out discipleship in 10 simple verses. But as we know, it's not so simple. True discipleship does not come easily, it does not come naturally, and it certainly does not come without God's help. I wish I could give you the 5 Steps to Perfect Discipleship, but I'm not nearly there myself. As Jesus says, it's easy to love the one who loves you back. It's not so easy to love the one who hurts you, who does evil to you. That is "agape"-- self-sacrificial love. It is a love that is only attained when we love people not because they DESERVE love, but because God has instructed us to love. 

We love because He first loved us.

It cannot come from our own strength, but when we choose to "cling to what is good." When we do so, God finds us and He gives us strength. He knows that we cannot live a life fulfilled without loving others. We are instructed to go out and DO and LOVE. Your best life is lived in the service of others. Become less obsessed with your needs and desires and find joy.

When you put others first, you are in the best place you can be. You are in His arms. He knows our hearts-- surrender to His instructions and find yourself fulfilled, overcome with His love, overflowing with joy