Monday, June 8, 2015

Six guidelines to renew healthy habits in a life-giving way

I hope you found some time to relax and refresh your soul this weekend! 

Weekends provide a chance to breath a sigh of relief and recover from the busy pace of life... for many, this includes relaxing our diligence in maintaining healthy habits. 

photo credit

Maybe some ice cream, movies & popcorn, and this chocolate find their way in the schedule too, hypothetically speaking, of course! All of these are OKAY, good even. But then Monday rolls around, and we realize that perhaps we've given ourselves a little too much fudge room, and quite literally eaten too much fudge! How do you respond? [Aside from trying this healthier recipe next time - wink, wink...]

As a recovering perfectionist, my gut reaction to weekend breaks in excellent self-care is to just. try. harder. when Monday stares me in the face. It usually starts out quite innocently, with the adoption of a new goal or motivation that looks positive, but when approached in my own strength, actually kills my soul. As a friend likes to ask me, how's that workin' for you? The answer is, it doesn't work, at least not for long! Taking a look at the words of Christ or the writings of Paul will clearly explain where our power for living comes from as believers - and it's not from within ourselves!

What I have discovered is that accepting grace for my failures and imperfections will fuel me in a way that bootstrapping never will. 

And so, may I suggest a few grace-based guidelines to renew healthy habits in a life-giving, not soul-crushing way? Read on...

1. Realize our worth is always in Christ, not in our performance; we cannot live godly lives unless we accept his lavish love.

2. Acknowledge the grace of God as our power for living (verses here, here, and here).

3. Refuse to compare ourselves to others (or even other seasons in our own lives!). "Comparison is the thief of joy." (free printable to enjoy and be reminded).

4. Treat ourselves with grace and kindness.

5. Find strength in God + Christian community to start over.

6. Thank God for the growth and victory he has allowed in our lives previously.

As I think back on my weekend, I feel pretty good about the 5k we completed, but not so great about the decent bit of ice cream I ate (and thoroughly enjoyed) afterwards, or the fact that I didn't get any cleaning, meal planning, or budgeting done this weekend like I had hoped. But you know what I did do? I experienced the grace of a Father (and a husband) who love me no matter how well I perform. Accepting that grace and rest filled up my heart, and because of that, I am confident that I can face this new week, which includes daily care for the temple of the Holy Spirit (my body) that I have been gifted.

May the free grace of God empower you to love and live for him with all your heart, soul, mind and strength this week!


Thursday, June 4, 2015

That time I could have been homeless + how you can help others who are

Very soon I will be launching a new website - Nourished By Grace - and sharing more details of God's transforming work in my life...but here is a sneak preview, and an opportunity to help single mothers and children who are homeless...

Several years ago, I was a twenty-someone living and working in Colorado, when God allowed my life to fall apart completely. I had not been taking good care of myself, which included not only my body, mind, and soul, but also my finances.

As is explained in When Helping Hurts, poverty is a holistic issue, that is not simply a matter of finances, but even more so, an issue of our beliefs about ourselves, our hope for the future, and our spiritual someone money does not always solve the problem.

My choices in all the areas mentioned above were catching up with me, and I found myself at a point where I had no idea how I would pay my rent for the next month. (You may be surprised to know how many Americans are only one paycheck away from being homeless!) Having recently become a member of a wonderful church in my city, I was able to meet with the deacon board and request benevolent funds to pay my rent. Though quite humbling, this decision allowed me to get back on track financially, as well as receiving advice for budgeting, decision making, and serving others. Personal accountability provided through regular church attendance and the small group ministry was also invaluable during this time. However, many people are disconnected from churches, have strained relationships with friends and family (or no friends at all), or are not willing to ask for help (I have certainly been that person in the past)...

For all these reasons, I'm excited to share this giving opportunity with you through Bridge of Hope Centre County. Paul and I will be a part of this run/walk tomorrow night (but you can still give after that) and would love to have you support our team - Holy Yoga State College. You can give on our personal page, or on the team page, both go to the same fund. One big reason I am excited about this opportunity (aside from the cool glow-in-the-dark paraphernalia for an evening race :-)) is that Bridge of Hope is a church-based ministry that connects its recipients with mentors and volunteers in our local community! This follows the model suggested by When Helping Hurts and the Chalmers Center, which has helped thousands re-think the way they view charitable giving. I have seen the benefit of benevolence being connected to Christian community not only in my life, but in the life of a good friend, Nicole, who shared her story on my blog earlier this year.

Please take a look at these links (our sponsor page and our team sponsor page) and consider whether this is something you might want to contribute to. I also highly recommended the book mentioned in this post.

May your weekend bring much rest and rejoicing!


(Bonus: here's a budgeting software program we're trying...see what you think?) 

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Sabbath is for you too {no matter how your week went}

Your week was probably very full. Mine too. Sunday arrives, and we think to ourselves - another week starts tomorrow, and I really need to get on top of XYZ if I'm going to feel 'ready' for Monday! This past weekend, I had worked hard to get most everything done on Saturday, so I could rest on Sunday. The afternoon was open to spend time with my man, read, journal, and then a Bible study / yoga class in the evening. I had a perfect plan to get the rest I needed. But then life happened. My tires needed to be rotated, we had waited too long already, and didn't want the tires to be damaged by waiting longer. So... I reluctantly agreed to give up my perfectly planned afternoon to go with my hubby and take care of my car. Grrr... I thought, this day is not going how I was hoping! My stress and anxiety level started to rise, and I instantly thought of the few things I still had to get done before Monday, which otherwise would not have been a problem had this need arose. Getting the tires done took much longer than we expected, and before I knew it, the afternoon was ticking away. When we finally got ready to go, I was a mess of tears and anxiety. "I didn't get everything done OR rest like I wanted to this weekend!" I lamented to my husband. I immediately planned on pushing aside the short amount of time I had to do restful things, so that I could be 'productive' and 'feel good about a new week starting'...

But as a good and loving Father would have it, and with the encouragement of my husband, I listened to the nudging within to let the dishes sit, forget about vacuuming, and not worry about the receipts that hadn't been entered. As I moved forward with the plans for rest I so needed (starting with a Starbucks date together (insert grin - isn't he sweet?)), Jesus reminded me that Sabbath is a gift for us all, regardless of what we have accomplished in the time leading up to it, what happens in our schedule, or who enters into our day unexpectedly.

Peace comes from connecting with God and allowing our souls to breathe, not by perfectly aligning our schedules and circumstances, or completing to-do lists.

I'm letting go of the idea that I have to perform well in order to 'earn' a day of rest. Perhaps you need to hear that too, and live in that freedom? Taking a day, or even a few hours of rest, is a gift from our Father - will you accept it this weekend? Let's let go of the expectations we have for ourselves and for others. Sabbath is a 'hard stop' to everything that tugs at us, everything that competes for our peace and joy. Sabbath is a time to do things that refresh us, whether that be creative, relational, entertaining, or simply quieting our minds and social connections online to make space for God. There's no formula! I have learned that it is okay, yes important to set aside time once a week (at least) to do something I enjoy and look forward to, even if it feels like a 'waste' of time. The love and grace of God, when understood and fully embraced, will always look and feel incredibly lavish and wasteful, in a sense. We will never deserve the gifts of God, so let's all commit together to receive from the Lord for a few moments today, a few hours this weekend, or even extended time away with those we love - without feeling guilty!

As it turns out, not only did our tires need rotation and general maintenance, but there was a nail in one tire! Letting go of my plans saved me from getting stuck on the side of the road, and that surely would have been a stressful Monday!! In just the same way, when we let go of our plans, and embrace the 'regular maintenance' and refreshment of a weekly Sabbath, we are able to quiet our hearts and see the deeper issues in our hearts, health, and relationships. Wouldn't you prefer to avoid a bigger issue that could have been helped with a little preventative care? Rest is what prepares and fuels us for a new week, not being productive. 

Sabbath is for you too, friend. It's for me, it's for all of us, regardless of whether we think we deserve it or not. 

Embraced by his lavish love, 


Links for additional refreshment and joy from around the web: 

Blogger Lisa-Jo Baker & husband Peter bought their first home - at 40 - and what she learned as she waited - we are ALL waiting on something; this might be the word you need to hear. I know I did!

The Day I Realized I Had a Job (Hope*ologie Podcast from May 2, 2015 - encouragement to prioritize and adjust your life to make room for creative endeavors...)

The Big Boo podcast (Southern mom bloggers Big Mama and Boo Mama - I hope you laugh your head off! I know I certainly do every time I listen!! :-)

Living Well Spending Less - I've been waiting for this book to go on sale and it did this week, yay!! (sorry if you missed it, but go buy it anyway!) You won't be disappointed. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Wellness tip #1 : one small choice goes a long way!

I woke up this morning with a bit of a negative attitude - ever have one of those mornings? You feel like it's a fight as soon as your eyes open, like you're in a fog of emotions and hard choices before you even wake up. What do you do? Here's what I did today...

** I made one healthy choice **

What will your choice be? Will it be to go for a quick walk / prayer time, will it be to ask God for help today, will it be to forgive yourself or someone else? To chug some water? To make a quick smoothie? Whatever that healthy choice is, making a good choice from the first moment, if that means crying out for God's strength, or the support of a friend/spouse, just do it! For me, it was choosing to attend a Christian yoga class with a friend. It's 30 minutes away, and somewhat early, so it wasn't really what my flesh wanted, but having that time in prayer, movement, truth, and fellowship was a great way to start the day.

To be honest, as soon as I walked out of class... the enemy was right there again, tempting me with doubts, fears, and sinful thoughts, but making that first good choice helped me to choose again... to fight. It's like a snowball effect, each good choice making you stronger for the next one.

No matter what is going on in your day, or how well you have fought the good fight today or this week, can we all commit together to just make the next right choice? Let's not look too far ahead to the overwhelming (and unknown) future, or dwell on past mistakes...

"Never let the sense of failure corrupt your new action." - Oswald Chambers

You CAN do it!! 

Extra bonus #1 why you should make your bed, according to a Navy Seal  and #2 'do the next right thing' quote from Elisabeth Elliot

Saturday, April 25, 2015

No time for self-care? The Fringe Hours could change that! {book review}

I was recently blessed to be part of an online study for Jessica Turner's book, The Fringe Hours, and
trust me... it couldn't have come at a better time! The months of March - April proved to be a very full time (sharing a car, both of us working more hours, visitors, new health challenges). Many of those things were good (or had hidden blessings - like more time together on our shared commute), but a full schedule can certainly make it hard to find time for yourself. If you are anything like me, it is so easy to put everyone and everything else ahead of my own health and happiness. It can be challenging to know what godly service looks like - aren't we called to put others before ourselves? YES, of course... but does that mean that we completely ignore our own needs? Of course not. I value self-care and holistic health, but when it comes down to everyday life, I'm no different than any of you... how in the world do we find time to do it? Many of you have kids, work in some capacity, volunteer, and more I'm sure! Do you ever get to the end of the day, put your head on the pillow, and realize that you did absolutely nothing for yourself all day? This book will help you learn how to utilize your 'fringe hours' to change that...

Jessica's book is divided into four parts :

1. Explore (discussion of balance, self-imposed pressures, and how to eliminate guilt and comparison)
2. Discover (delves into ways to shift our perspective about self-care, what activities actually help each of us rest and recover personally, an exploration of past joys, starting a dream board, and actually finding the time to do all this!)
3. Maximize (how to prioritize activities, time management and efficiency, admitting the need for, as well as finding, help...and how to overcome common obstacles)
4. Live Well (valuing and cultivating community, what is rest and how to find it, and finally, choosing joy and living well)

An appendix also contains some 'extras' like The Fringe Hours Manifesto, survey results (the author surveyed more than 2000 women from all 50 states and more than 30 countries!) and a companion website with more goodies ( I enjoyed using the time log found at the companion website to discover where all my time was really going (what, you mean another week went by and I didn't get to xyz...??)

Some of my takeaways were the reminder to care well for ourselves and how to eliminate guilt and comparison, as well as choosing joy, cultivating community, and finding rest. The chapter on identifying my own personal self-care needs was especially insightful as well. Everyone is different when it comes to what energizes and drains us, so this was a wonderfully helpful section. I also appreciated the companion book club, videos, and social media connections for added support. All of that can be found here on the {in}courage website.

Although some of the author's suggestions were familiar, many I had not considered, and the practical suggestions combined with philosophical discussion was a very nice balance (haha)...

I'd encourage you to put this book on your 'wishlist' even if you can't get to it now... you won't be disappointed! I received the book as a free giveaway from {in}courage and am very grateful. I did not receive any compensation for this review - all ideas and opinions are my own.

For your wellness and God's glory,


(Please consider using this linked image below to buy the book, at no additional charge, while supporting this blog...thank you!)

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Links & reflections for a lovely spring weekend

Y'all. It was so beautiful outside today! Yes, that is y'all worthy, even though I should technically be saying youins, yinz or youse guys, considering that I now live in Pennsylvania :-) Regardless, when you have dealt with snow and chilling temps for months, you can't help but be thrilled with gentle spring days. It's a happy feeling you can't understand unless you just faced a winter season in every sense of the phrase. This happy-spring feeling is also touching deeper parts inside me, and colliding with a certain hope that even though nothing is in full bloom (in nature or our circumstances), we see God on the move, small changes happening, and light shining in previously dark places. It's something worth celebrating! Add to that the fact that Easter + our anniversary were this month, and we've got quite a bit to celebrate...{smile} That's okay with me, as I've always been a fan of prolonged celebrations - what would Jesus do, right? But it would be only half the truth if I didn't admit it was a hard week with difficult news in our personal life that brought me to my knees. So thankful for a Father's love that woos, comforts, and satisfies me when nothing else can. The mixed blessing of pain is the joy that follows close behind! He knows exactly what each of us need and sends glimpses of love and hope at just the right time.

Here are some sweet joys around the web that have been an encouragement to me lately:

Make your own kefir (easy way to start fermenting at home - we're loving it!)

Emily Freeman on 3 Ways to Determine Success (not what you think)

Interstellar trailer - I'm not the sci-fi fan in our home (big surprise)... However, this movie has a very interesting storyline and subtle redemptive themes...see what you think?

Music - I Am Not Alone (Kari Jobe) and You Make Me Brave (Amanda Cook and Bethel Music)

Nine Natural Cleaning Recipes - Mama And Baby Love (ingredients needed are vinegar + baking soda + castile soap + essential oils - side bonus - cleaning is much more enjoyable without the nasty fumes)

Proverbs 31 Online Bible Study on What Happens When Women Walk in Faith  (Lysa TerKeurst) - Having a great time with this, and learning so much...

Strawberries - been devouring these lately (with kefir above) - some good reasons why you should too...

Warm Kale Salad - new recipe for our Easter dinner - and friends... I. am. in. love!

Sweet Potato, Cranberry & Quinoa Power Bowl - a bit more time-consuming than the kale salad, but really worth it! (Husband-approved)

Young Living Valor oil apply to feet or diffuse at night for sleep aid - one of the many essential oils I've been enjoying lately (thanks, Lydia!)

May the Spirit of God fill you with hope, joy & peace as you rest in Him!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

What I learned in March {link-up}

Love my new glasses; love seeing him happy even more!!
Hey friends,

So, I've written several posts in my head since the last time I popped in here, and nothing really I'm just gonna stick with this one no matter what. Hmm...

I also love Emily's blog and this sounded like a fun thing to join in on... so here we go!

What did I learn in March?? Good question. Here are a few things that come to mind...

1. I love throwing parties! Planning and executing Paul's 40th surprise party was tons of fun. Thankfully, Paul had as much fun as I did :) And I must add, we had lots of help from friends & family in making his birthday book, and keeping things secret! Can I also say how much I love SURPRISE parties?? Just have to give a shout out to my sisters for the best surprise party ever - my 20th birthday... now that's a story. But I'll just keep it short by saying that I've never been so embarrassed and yet simultaneously loved. I guess that's a good summation of a sister's role. :)

2. I stink at waiting and giving up control. Not much more to say on that topic, because I'm sure many of you can relate! Though I'm getting better at embracing the messy waiting seasons, I still don't love them, and my heart could be very easily compared to a two-year old's some days. Just sayin'.

3. Online community is still community - check out this post!  I used to feel guilty about 'indulging' in online groups and friendships, but I really enjoyed the online {in}courage Bloom book club for Jessica Turner's new book The Fringe Hours as well as being a part of the the Launch Team for Jeff Goins' new book, The Art of Work (hope to get reviews out for both of those soon...) However, it's still not the same as good ol' fashioned girls' nights, our community group, having time for long walks with Paul, chillaxin' with friends at worship team practice, leading women's studies, and being silly with my workout buddy (i.e. really. miss. our. Florida. friends. and. life!)

4. I love hearing my husband preach, like, really, really love it. And while I'm on this topic, let me just say, I really love HIM! It will be four years of marriage in a couple days, and I can't tell you what a privilege it is to watch my man give every ounce of his energy to take care of us, pursue his calling, care for his grieving father, reach out to his family, and love people that don't deserve it (including me)...While we aren't seeing many of our goals come to fruition right now, I must say I would rather have a faithful man, than a life that looks perfect on the outside but is falling apart behind closed doors. Listening to a man preach, and watching him live it at home, just really blesses my socks off. Love ya, babe!!

5. Kids are fun. (Okay, I knew this, but it's still true :) So blessed to get to care for ten kids between two families - and being friends with the moms is a bonus too! A good reminder to myself that even when life is hard, God still shows up to surprise us with good things (I guess he likes surprise parties too!)

6. Lovin' these songs... I Will Rest (City Harbor) and Sovereign Over Us (Michael W. Smith)

Okay, your turn! Click over to Emily's post, and either leave a comment about what you learned, or link up a post from your own blog.

Hoping that spring is here to stay?? I miss the sun.