Posted in Reflection

8 things I learned in 2018.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m pretty downright excited about 2019.

A new year. A fresh start. 🎉👏🏽

I’ll celebrate my first birthday married. Hub and I will celebrate a year of wedded bliss. I just know there will be lots of adventures coming up! And, of course, some challenges, too.

I have some a couple neat resolutions and goals that I will be putting into effect on January 1st – be looking for a post on that in a day or two! But, before I get so focused on 2019, I’m trying to do some reflecting and reminiscing on 2018.

Each year helps shape us into the person we are and are becoming!

2018 was a year to remember. 2018 held a lot for me. A lot of beginnings. A lot of endings. A lot of lessons. That’s why I decided to make a list. Here’s what I came up with.

  1. Don’t wait for the perfect moment to happen. Create the moment! I’ve experienced so much pure happiness this year. I can’t even explain. Perfect moments. Life isn’t perfect, but moments can be. It comes from letting go of expectations and realizing the life right in front of you is what you make of it.
  2. Change stinks. It’s hard. But, honestly, it’s not all bad. There’s so much good. Change forms us into new and better, stronger people.
  3. Everyone around me is fighting a battle that I don’t (always) know about. Everyone. Students, coworkers, family members, friends. Don’t judge. Be kind. Take time out of my busy schedule for others.
  4. We are each stronger than we realize. But you don’t know this about yourself until those hard conversations, difficult lessons, and stressful situations come. Until you have no choice but to face another day. Until you have to grow up. You can’t choose what comes your way; you can choose your response.
  5. I must hold people up to the standard of grace, not the standard of perfection. People let you down; they disappoint. That’s life. If you extend grace, you will grow. If you expect perfection, you will become bitter.
  6. Focus matters. Now more than ever. We live in a crazy world. God first. My family second. Family means my marriage, my future children. When our focus turns to other people and their opinions and problems, we lose track of ourselves, our progress, and our goals.
  7. Stop blowing stuff out of proportion. Little frustrations become big ones if I don’t let them go. Small stuff doesn’t need to come between me and the people I love. Life is too short for that.
  8. Life shouldn’t be about stuff. I’m super blessed. I have way more than I need and so much more than I deserve. Stuff doesn’t last. People and memories do.

 

Leave me a comment & let me know a lesson or two that 2018 taught you! We are all in this thing called life together! 💙

 

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

Posted in Holidays

Who do you need Baby Jesus to be?

C H R I S T M A S.

It feels as if the last month my life has been spinning, spinning, spinning. . .  and refusing to stop. Parties, decorating, baking, wrapping, working, shopping, planning, eating, celebrating. . . and then – repeat the list all over again!

Is anyone with me that, while this is the most wonderful time of the year, this is also the most emotional time of the year? Two weeks ago I almost fell apart. The week was so busy that I didn’t know how I was going to function. Every day tasks became ginormous obstacles. I know I tend to be dramatic, but this time I’m being serious. The Christmas joy & festive spirit seemed to be afar off.

Somehow, at Christmastime, we tend to be faced not only with busyness, but also with an enormous amount of feelings. Some wonderful, some painful. Wanting the perfect Christmas that is always just out of reach. Facing feelings of hurt and disappointment from friends and family. Longing for a closer relationship with Jesus during this time of year but being bombarded by many things trying to keep you from attaining that goal. Struggling with feelings of discontentment as we see how all our friends celebrate their holiday, seemingly bigger and better than we do.

All of this and more.

Perhaps that’s why this one question has been spinning around in the head for the past few weeks.

 

Who do I need Baby Jesus to be this Christmas?

 

Ask yourself. Do it. I dare you.

We each bring different emotions, situations, personalities, hearts, and lives to the manger this Christmas.

As you stand in front of the manger, do you see Baby Jesus for who He is? Baby Jesus is everything, friend. Everything. No questions asked. God sent His only Son, Jesus, to earth for YOU. Jesus is the answer.

 

So, who do you need Baby Jesus to be?

 

Are you in need of Immanuel this Christmas? God WITH you. Every moment. Every second. Never to leave or forsake you. Ever present. Ever with you.

Do you need a Healer this Christmas? Is your heart broken? Has your life fallen apart this year? Baby Jesus came to put all those pieces back together. He came that you might have life. Abundant, full life.

Do you need a Counselor this Christmas? Do you need someone to hear you out, listen to your woes, care for your heart?

Do you need a Savior this Christmas? Are you far away from freedom? Are you bound by chains of sin? Baby Jesus is the Chain Breaker. He came to save your soul. Turn your night to day.

What about Peace? Are you lacking quiet and tranquility of soul? The peace of Jesus transcends understanding and comprehension.

What about Light? Is your way dark? Is the path you are taking in life dismal and dejected? How long has it been since you have seen and truly appreciated the light of day? Jesus proclaims that He is the Light of the World – YOUR world!

Do you need a Comforter this Christmas? Are you trapped in grief? Have you lost someone close to you, in death or separation? Are you in the process of watching your loved one go through the worst thing imaginable? When we mourn, He mourns with us. When we cry, He keeps track of our tears. Don’t lose heart. Run to the indescribable, comforting arms of Jesus.

Do you need a Master? Are you tired of the struggle? Do you need someone to take control of your heart, your life, your desires, your plans, your dreams, your wishes? Jesus is the Lord of Lords. He rules. He reigns. He is more than capable of directing your life. Will you let him?

Do you need a (fill in the blank) this Christmas? Whatever your need, Baby Jesus is the ANSWER.

 

Don’t leave this holiday season more broken than you were at the beginning. Come to the manger. Discover Baby Jesus to be everything you need this Christmas.

 

 

Photo by Greyson Joralemon on Unsplash

Posted in Holidays

The day after Thanksgiving.

Oh, sweet Thanksgiving. I mean, really. There isn’t much better than a day or three spent with family RIGHT before the busiest time of the year. The classics like creamy mashed potatoes, pecan pie, sweet potato casserole, and a yummy ham — all help make the holiday that much more amazing. Throw in a couple competitive family games and lots of laughs and storytelling — and you have a pretty good picture of what my day looked like.

I’m abundantly blessed. And so are you.

I find myself, though, every single Thanksgiving a little bit stressed. These are the thoughts running through my brain. “Am I being thankful enough today?” “Have I sent all my friends a text saying that I appreciate them?” “Am I feeling as happy as I should be today?” “Should I post something on social media to make sure people know I’m thankful for all my blessings?”

Pressure. Pressure to ensure that I’m living up to the spirit of Thanksgiving. The spirit of gratitude and appreciation.

Whenever I’m feeling frustrated or frazzled, I turn to my best friend. . .  who also happens to be my husband (AKA – 💙Hub💙). Hub is super patient and such a good listener. Turns out that I am a little more emotional of a human being than he is. 😂😉 Normally, I can’t see past the next five minutes when I am feeling overwhelmed about something. I also tend to bring stress upon myself and blow things (at least a little) out of proportion. 😬

As I was unloading all this to hub yesterday – and finally “got it all out.” He just stopped me and said something like this. “Babe, Thanksgiving is not just a one-day thing. It’s more about being thankful always, not feeling pressured to get it all in today. You are thankful; don’t make yourself feel that you’re not.”

Well, duh. . . I knew that. Sometimes, though, it takes hearing it at just the right moment in order for it to truly sink in.

So, this is the truth.

Nothing really changes the Day after Thanksgiving.

When I woke up today, I have. . .

  • The same blessings.
  • The same God on my side.
  • The same loving hub.
  • The same amazing family.
  • The same faithful friends.
  • The same church in which to worship.
  • The same country, full of freedom and opportunity.
  • The same job, where I can learn and grow and become a better teacher.
  • The same cute, little house.
  • The same necessities. (i.e. Furniture, Clothes, Shoes, Glasses, Towels)
  • The same extras. (i.e. Wifi, Phone, Computer, Camera, Cute Home Decor)
  • The same personality, with all its uniqueness.
  • The same life, with all its areas for growth.

And, if you think about it, friend. . . You have a list that looks pretty similar to this, too!

T H A N K S G I V I N G  is not just a day. It’s a lifestyle.

Join me in celebrating gratitude on the Day after Thanksgiving.

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Posted in Introspection

He rejoices over you.

Perhaps it is because I am a “performance-based” individual. I thrive on accomplishing my goals, doing my best, receiving compliments, excelling in presentation, and so on.

I care. I care about what I do, how I present myself, what to say, how to live. That’s not all bad, if I keep it in check and maintain a healthy balance.

But, you know just as well as I do that success isn’t continual. I don’t always succeed. I don’t always say the right thing. I don’t always receive compliments for the good and helpful things I do. I sometimes fall short of doing my best. And, furthermore, some of my dreams and goals still seem so far off.

Why can’t I get there? Why can’t I just live in a state of success?

I know, I know. Life doesn’t work that way.

Life instead looks like this: Trying, living, failing, questioning, and getting back up.

Oftentimes, we get discouraged. We get weary. We get frustrated. When we don’t measure up to our own requirements, we somehow love ourselves a little less. That’s not right, nor is it OK.

My Daddy, my hero, has always said this: “It’s not about where you are — it’s about where you are going.”

Right now might not look exactly like you want. Your job might not be perfect. Your family might be falling apart. Your laundry might need folded. Your heart might be broken.

Life, though, is SO MUCH more than just RIGHT NOW.

Don’t make the “snapshot” of what is today the cover for the “album” of what your life has been, is, and is going to become.

Don’t lose heart. Don’t quit trying. Don’t love yourself less. 

In these moments – the less than perfect ones – hold on tightly to the only thing that ALWAYS succeeds and NEVER fails – God.

The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

~ Zephaniah 3:17 ESV

When you can’t stand where you are in life, when you can’t handle failing again, when you can’t imagine another hurt coming your way. . . Think on this.

Our crazy, awesome Heavenly Father is sitting up in His Heaven. He is delighting over you. He is celebrating you. He is right beside you. He won’t let you go. He never loves you less. He longs to quiet your spirit. He desires to calm your anxious spirit. He is singing about you. You’re his favorite.

You might not be happy with yourself. You might not have much to rejoice about right now.

No worries. . .

God is rejoicing just because you are, and He made you that way.

 

Photo by Leon Biss on Unsplash

Posted in Spiritual

Prone to wander.

To the wanderer. To the one who is low in spirit. To the one who is confused. To the one who is weary.

To you. To me.

It’s so easy to lose our way. It’s so easy to get lost. It’s so easy to just give up. Or, at least, want to stop trying.

Life is too much, too heavy some days. We get caught up in our work, our busy schedules, our “to-do” lists, our frustrations, our disappoints, and our pain.

We start questioning God. We start forgetting the progress we have made. We start floundering. We start questioning. We start dwelling in the past.

We wander from our Heavenly Father. We wander from spending time in His Word. We wander from our core beliefs. We wander from our family and their love for us. We wander from our friends who want the best for us. We wander from our dreams and plans.

Before long, we find ourselves far from where we used to be, far from where we want to be, and far from where we meant to be.

We don’t normally mean to wander. We don’t purposely set out to do the wrong thing. We don’t mean to settle for good instead of best.

Stop. Take a deep breath.

It’s not too late, my friend.

God doesn’t give up on you. On me. Our God is a God of Reckless Love.

The LORD’s unfailing love and mercy still continue, Fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise. The LORD is all I have, and so I put my hope in him.

~Lamentations 3:22-24 GNB

God’s desire is to hold you close, to bring you home. To show you NEW mercies, NEW truths. He sent His Son, Jesus. . . because He wants you to live the life you were meant to live. An abundant, overflowing life. Here’s the words that Jesus, himself, said.

The thief comes only in order to steal, kill, and destroy. I have come in order that you might have life — life in all it’s fullness.

~John 10:10 GNS

If you are wandering today. If you are lost. If you are trapped. Trapped in sin, trapped in bitterness, trapped in disbelief, trapped in busyness, trapped in hurt, trapped in fear, trapped in confusion.

Don’t stay there.

Don’t let the devil control you or convince you. The devil doesn’t have your best interest in mind. He wants you to wander; he doesn’t want you to be settled. Wandering leads nowhere good. The devil, in all actuality, wants you to spend an eternity away from God and His magnificent heaven. It’s not worth it. You don’t have to stay lost.

God’s plan for you is perfect. God’s plan for you does NOT entail wandering away from Him.

All of us need to wake up to the reality that if we are lost, if we are wandering, we are NOT in harmony with our Savior. Heaven is for the found, not the lost.

Do you need finding today? Do you need to come back home?

It’s never too late.

God is waiting for you with His open arms. He is faithful, even when we are not.

Come back home to stay.

 

 

Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

~Robert Robinson

 

Photo by Markus Gempeler on Unsplash

Posted in Lifestyle - Food

A meal to take the chill off.

Fall is officially here to stay, and winter is well on its way. We ladies need easy meals to fix that are warm & filling, am I right? Check out this main course & dessert. . . Currently my favorites!

Hash-brown & Ham Happiness

(Main Course)

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag – hash-brown potatoes (30 oz.)
  • 2 cans – Cream of Chicken soup (10.5 oz.) Use 3 cans if you like things creamy!
  • 8 oz. – Sour Cream
  • 3 cups – Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • (Approximately) 1 lb. – ham (cubed pieces) You can cut up your own cooked ham or buy a package of pre-cubed ham.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray 9 x 13″ pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. Combine all ingredients (except 1 cup of cheese) in a separate bowl & stir well.
  4. Dump all ingredients into the pan.
  5. Sprinkle the extra cup of cheese on top.
  6. Place in oven for 1 hour, give or take. Make sure it’s all bubbly.
  7. ENJOY!

(Ideas for side dishes)

  • Cooked carrots topped with brown sugar and butter.
  • Tossed salad with poppyseed dressing.
  • Dinner rolls covered in butter, honey, or strawberry preserves.

Apple Dump Cake

(Dessert)

Ingredients:

  • 1 – Yellow Cake Mix
  • 2 cans – Apple Pie Filling
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) – Butter
  • Cinnamon
  • Sugar
  • Optional: Vanilla Ice Cream

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray 9 x 13″ pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. Dump the 2 cans of Apple Pie Filling into the pan.
  4. Sprinkle the cake mix on top of the filling.
  5. Melt butter & pour evenly on top of cake mix/filling.
  6. Sprinkle a good bit of cinnamon & a little bit sugar on top. As much as desired.
  7. Cook for 45 minutes – 1 hour, until brown on top & bubbly.
  8. Optional: Top with vanilla ice cream.
  9. ENJOY!

Here’s a picture of my dinner table today. My husband loves this cheesy dish just as much as I do! Oh, please ignore the stack of papers on the other side of my table. I live in the real world. 😉

IMG_9078

Comment to let me know if you try these recipes & how much you end up loving them!

Featured Image Credits: Photo by Ramiro Mendes on Unsplash

Posted in Growth

Chocolate Speaks.

As I devoured a couple pieces of Dove chocolate last night (Confession: Before Dinner), I took a second to read the famous sayings on the inside of the wrappers. One, in particular, hit me in the face.

Don’t talk about it,

just be about it.

Does this not describe our generation?

We love to talk about problems. Our problems, your problems, our friend’s problems, our family’s problems, our boss’ problems, and so on.

We love to give our opinion. However harsh, rude, or unwelcome it may be sometimes.

We love to talk about getting together with our friends and acquaintances. We like to make it seem as if we have made an effort not to be anti-social, at least.

We love to talk about starting that new hobby. Playing a new instrument, developing our hidden skill of knitting, redecorating the guest bedroom,  or cleaning out the junk in the closet.

We love to say we are going to change. We are going to eat healthier or be happier. We are going to be there for our friends. We are going to work on not reacting so quickly.

We say we are going to call our Grandparents more. . . or take that vacation.

We say a LOT of things, people. Do we ever really accomplish anything before it’s too late, though?

Quite frankly, it’s hard to hear over all the babbling.

Instead of talking — debating ideas, complaining about our problems, chattering about a new thing to try, gossiping about everybody’s business, and posting every detail of your life on social media — Let’s start doing.

Live. Your. Life. Don’t just talk about it.

Set goals. Meet goals. Analyze. Change. Forget. Focus. End things. Begin others. Stop wallowing. Start working.

P.S. You don’t have to tell everyone all about it, either.

P.P.S. Eat that Dove chocolate; it might have something to say to you.

Photo creds: Yours truly.