2018—The Year Of Laying Down My Plans

2018—The Year Of Laying Down My Plans

Hi friends! It’s been quite a while since I’ve sat down to write, but I wanted to take some time to share how 2018 went overall for me. Also, I wanted to share my truth statements for 2019, resources I’m loving, and some of my fav memories captured in photos.  I do warn you now that this is a lengthy one, but I hope it all encourages you. 🙂

2018 has been so very busy, so full of good things and new things.

Yet, the one word I would use to describe the past year is FRUSTRATION.

For the most part, the blessings were clouded by my own limited mindset. Peace was replaced many times by my need to make things happen, self-created pressure to do more, and frustration that things weren’t happening the way I thought they would. All of that means way too much self focus and not enough God focus. The things that equate to my way instead of His.

Don’t get me wrong, during it all  I grew spiritually, conquered lifelong fears, discovered a hidden skill and began to cultivate it, and loved my family and the Lord so well. Even as I type that sentence I feel encouraged because even in our “failing”, He is so faithful.

Last year was similar to walking on a tight rope. As we are trusting in Him on this faith journey of life we get across by simply placing one foot in front of the other. Each step we take with His grace, keeps us steady, we stay standing, we move forward. Yet most of us, if we are honest, continue to take life in our own hands, trying to figure out, strategize, hustle our way through. When we have a goal of going faster, we often lose our balance, our peace, our foundation and ultimately we fall. Only to get back up and try again. That was my 2018—trusting, failing, falling, back to trusting again. Repeat. Thus, frustration is the word.

Oddly enough, I have never been more sure of God’s hand on my life than I was last year. I have dreamed more last year than ever before—such profound dreams. Then waking, writing, and reflecting on each dream. I knew God was speaking and I wanted to make sure I was valuing and responding to His message. I love that the Lord will find a way to talk to us and if we listen, He keeps talking.

The amazing thing about the Father is that He doesn’t waste a thing. He uses everything, and I believe

He often frustrates our plans until we finally take on His.

I end 2018 laying down my plans, my idea of how things are supposed to be happening, and I start 2019 full of peace, trusting His ways.

I believe it’s so important to take time and reflect on your year, to get alone and quiet and let the Lord talk.

What is the word that describes your 2018? What are the truths He has dropped in your spirit to hold on to in 2019? What worked and what didn’t? What are the areas He wants you to focus on in the next year? What changes need to be made?

Each year I look over dreams I’ve had, words I’ve heard from the Lord, and I really reflect on how the last year went. Then I create a sheet of truths and reminders that I’ll stand on for the next season. I like to print them and put them in my planner or journal where I’ll see them often. I’ve found that when you’re in a negative funk, lacking inspiration or joy—it’s important to keep God’s truth in front of you. Speaking truth resets our minds and keeps us standing. These are my personal truths, but if they resonate with you, please feel free to print them.1

I also love to begin with a few scriptures as motivation for the new year-

So now we must cling tightly to the hope that lives within us, knowing that God always keeps his promises! Discover creative ways to encourage others and to motivate them toward acts of compassion, doing beautiful works as expressions of love. Hebrews 10:23 (TPT)

With all this going for us, my dear, dear friends, stand your ground. And don’t hold back. Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort. 1 Corinthians 15:58 (MSG)

Here are some resources I am loving these days. Links are below the image.

  1. Gracelaced Devotional. 2. Wild + Free bundle 3. One Line a Day 4. Cultivate devotionals 5. Simple Abundance 6. Walk in Grace-Ephesians study

And last, some of my favorite memories within 2018– including massive home remodel, church expansion, watercolor painting, trips to Israel, New York, New Jersey, Missouri, Oklahoma, Dallas, West Virginia, lots of beach time, camper life, and Coffee Waves love.

Things I’m loving right now

Things I’m loving right now

This post may seem a bit random, but I felt like mixing things up and sharing some lifestyle type posts, because, well, there’s a whole lot more to me than spiritual posts. Being a Pastor’s wife and co-leading our church and being a momma and wife are my main passions for sure. But, after that are a ton of other likes and passions that I enjoy sharing too. So, you’ll be seeing posts from me about my life in general–from watercolor, to mom-life, plant care, remodel projects, party detail and who knows what else. I hope you enjoy 🙂

So, today I thought I’d share some of the things I’m loving right now! I’ll share the product and let you know why I love it. All titles connect you to the source if you’re interested and nothing I mention is a sponsored item. They are all things I’m truly just into right now and you just might be too…

Tea Tree Hair and Body Moisturizer

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I cannot tell you how much I love this product. That’s why it gets to be number one. Months ago, my hair was starting to feel super dry and even crunchy for whatever reason. So, I went on a search for a product that would help soften without it feeling like I had product in my hair. I Apply this after I wash my hair at night and let it air dry (because I have kids and I don’t have time for blow drying :)) But, very, very rarely I get enough motivation to blow dry my hair after washing. I brush the product through and it never fails to leave my hair so soft and takes away the dry. It also smells great and works as body lotion too. I use it on my kid’s hair after swimming and it helps keep their hair soft and detangled as well.

Patricia Nash Purse:

I’m officially out of the baby phase which means I do not need to pack a suitcase every time we leave the house! I can now enjoy a real purse because I can get by with just my phone, credit cards, and ID!!! That is worth celebrating guys… It’s the little things. I also love that it is real leather which means it will last forever and ever amen.

Coldbrew + almond milk:

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Maybe because our Coffee shop, Coffee Waves makes the best cold brew ever, and maybe because I’m kind of caffeine obsessed, but this is my go to coffee drink these days. Sometimes I mix it up and have an almond milk latte, but not often. Give me an iced, cold brew with a splash of almond milk and I’m a happy girl…and I like it as soon as I wake up too. If you truly love coffee, you’ll love it. Also, super low on calories—winning!

My herb garden:

I planted five different herbs in my back yard and I am loving the fact that I can go out and grab what I need at any time. I am also loving the process of drying or freezing them to preserve them, so that they don’t go to waste.

Juicing:

I juice for at least one meal a day lately which may seem crazy, but gosh it gives me so much energy. Here are a few of my favorite fruits and veggies to combine. If you look up all the health benefits of each of the veggies, turmeric, ground ginger, etc., they’ll surly convince you to give juicing a try!

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Bethel Kids Album: Bright ones

My kids have always loved the previous Bethel kids album, but we had kind of worn it to the ground. I for one, was ready to move on…thank goodness for this. They sing all the words and love the “Bright ones” song the most. Dance parties are a regular occurrence with this album and it’s so sweet hearing them sing truth.

And there you have it, what feels like the most random post I’ve ever posted. So, just what are you guys loving right now. Tell me all of the things!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’re A Coastal Kind Of Family

We’re A Coastal Kind Of Family

Well, this is my first old-fashioned blog post. You know, the kind where you actually share family photos, thoughts, and reflections without a “top 5 ways”, or links to where you can buy things. So, here you will find some super sweet pictures of our family enjoying the beautiful coast we live on, my thoughts on summer, and our love for the coast.

We are a warm weather, long beach days, sun kissed (or maybe I should say golden/bronze. 😆) kind of family so the coast is pretty ideal for us. But, we mainly love it because of the the extended warm days we spend riding bikes to the nature trails, swimming in the pool, or at the beach. We love the convenience of getting to the beach or on the water in less than 20 minutes.

This summer (and yes I know it’s technically not summer yet, but in Corpus Christi it feels like summer in April so I’m already there mentally 😆) we are loving our evenings out on the boat. At ages four and five, our kids are finally at a age where it is enjoyable to take them out on the boat and actually get to stay out on the water for a substantial amount of time. Our favorite time to go is around five in the evening.  That gives us plenty of time to fish, eat our packed dinner, and find a shore to explore. Some times we go as a family and sometimes we bring friends along. Either way, it’s always a blast. My heart is so full just watching our kids explore God’s creation with fascination, finding crabs, seashells, and fish.

There’s just something about going outside, especially by the ocean that resets my mind and puts me in a total relaxed mood and all stress falls away. It’s bliss for me. On another note, regarding summer in general.

This summer I made a few vows—to soak up all of the sweet moments, being fully present in them all. To say yes when my kids want me to swim with them,  even if I did just wash my hair. And to have fun with my family!

Really, I want my kids to look back on their childhood and think of how fun their mom and Dad were. The dance parties on the boat, the night swimming in the pool, and all of the laughter. I want them to remember us living life to the fullest—loving each other and others so well along the way. I hope you find your summer bliss as well. If you live near the coast, I hope you find more time to soak it up.

 

 

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Simplified Ways To Study The Bible

Simplified Ways To Study The Bible

We all live such busy lives and sometimes it seems hard to make the time to sit and read or study the Bible. But, when we do make time for the word there are so many benefits! My husband always says,

“If you don’t know what the Lord is saying, then start with reading what He has said”.

And it’s so true, the Lord can truly speak to us through His word and that makes all the difference in our lives! I find that reading and speaking the word over myself is the best way towards renewing my mind, and replacing lies from the enemy with truth from our Father.

I wanted to share with you some of my favorite ways to study the word in such a hectic life full of little ones and ministry. There’s really nothing religious about it, and I honestly don’t spend long amounts of time reading every single day. Because, well, life happens. Here are my current top five ways to study and why I love them!

All titles are clickable links to take you to the source.

1. Read Scripture app

I recommend this app to everyone! Especially if you are new to reading or truly understanding the Bible as a big picture. The app includes videos that illustrate most of the books by drawing out and explaining each book in such a simplistic way. I could not love it enough. Lots of times if I am rushed for time, or if I am driving or cleaning, I let the videos play just to listen. Great resource!

 2. She Reads Truth devotionals

She Reads Truth devotionals are so beautifully made with water color images, fantastic photography, even some DIY projects. But, besides the pretty factor, I enjoy how each devotion is on one book of the bible, and each day is based on a group of scriptures that tie into a theme. I have personally finished Proverbs and Genesis and just ordered 1 & 2ndCorinthians. On each day’s devotional, there are scriptures to read, and questions to answer. I typically read each scripture in various versions, then wright my thoughts on the writing space more often than specifically answering every question. I use it more as a place to reflect and break down scripture. This is great when you only have a short window of time to read.

3. She Reads Truth app

Much like other Bible apps, She Reads Truth app offers various study plans you can choose from and its great for on the go readings!

4. Passion Translation Bible

This is my all time FAV translation right now! I love, love, love all the footnotes and word translations offered for verses. Bible-gateway, and the YouVersion app now offer the TPT, but you can also buy the actual books (which I personally own and love because I am old school and love feeling a book, highlighting, and making notes) on amazon.

5. Apps to study word meaning:

Blue Letter Bible, Concordance, and Glo Bible apps.

Any time I’m preparing a message, or wanting to really expand my understanding of a verse or word I use these study apps. They are used for a deeper, more time extensive study. Each app will offer different capabilities, but over all I use them to read commentary from theologians, compare translations, and to find word definitions and translations.

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I hope this was helpful, and please feel free to ask any questions and let me know your favorite ways to study the word too! I love hearing from you guys! Until next time, I pray that your time with the Lord is the sweetest, most life-giving time that sets you on the right path and mindset for your day.

 

 

The Power In Wearing Tennis Shoes

The Power In Wearing Tennis Shoes

Shortly after having our second child, 18 months after having our first child, I found myself sitting in the doctor’s office with tears in my eyes. I was there for a basic yearly physical, but I knew something needed to change in my life.  I was feeling overly emotional, depressed and drained, but I couldn’t put my finger on what exactly was wrong with me.  As my doctor asked me how I was feeling physically, I answered— “I’m an emotional mess and I have no idea why. I feel sad often and I have no energy or desire to do much of anything.”

Looking back, what’s awesome about this doctor is that he wasn’t quick to prescribe antidepressants, instead, we talked about options. We talked about the reality of the situation…I was tired because I had two babies under two and I needed more sleep. I was hormonal because that’s what comes with birthing babies. I was on a low because of these two factors, as well as postpartum baby blues.

His next question would take me by surprise and humor me,

“Do you exercise?”

“Ok, did this man not just hear my situation? I’m sleep deprived. Why in the world is he asking me this insane question?”, I thought.

Thankfully, I kept my immediate thoughts unspoken. He continued to tell me some of the benefits that come with exercising just 30 minutes a day. I eventually found more benefits to add to the list–

The next morning I dreadfully put on my tennis shoes, placed my two littles in a double stroller and went for a walk outside. Over time, that walk turned into a partial walk and partial run. I then started to look for ways I could jog alone as my “me time”, and to my surprise, I did begin to improve over time.

Let me also say that I am by no means that girl who is on the anti-medication trail. I believe medication is completely necessary for some and there’s absolutely no shame in that. For me, thankfully, exercise was and still is the medicine that keeps me healthy. To this day, if I get out of the habit of exercise, the struggle begins.

In some of the darkest seasons of life, it wasn’t soley the scripture I memorized and quoted, it wasn’t the diet restrictions I stuck with that helped me overcome. It was and still is when I add to that by putting my tennis shoes on and forcing myself to be active.

I love to run, but I don’t just run, I listen to worship, I’m alone with my thoughts, I listen and talk to God, and mainly— I regain God’s perspective instead of being consumed by the immediate.

This time of year, most of us have a renewed sense of inspiration to modify our lifestyle to bring about a sense of fulfillment–to live as we are designed to by the Father above.

The things is, being completely healthy includes both physical and spiritual aspects.

I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.

3 John 1:2

In this scripture, John is praying that Gaius’ physical health would match his spiritual health. Our God is concerned for both our physical health and our spiritual well being, otherwise I don’t think John would have prayed this prayer for Gaius.

Our overall health is important to the Lord.

Being the list maker that I am, I tend to make long lists for everything, and there’s no exception when it comes to the lifestyle changes I’d like to make within the following year.  Over time though, I realized that if I made exercise the priority on my list, then the energy and motivation to accomplish the goals on the rest of the list came naturally.

Consider adding “wear tennis shoes more often” to the top of the list for next year. Maybe, just maybe, once you’re wearing them you may feel more inspired to do something active in them. And maybe after being active, the other goals on the list end up getting checked off in the process.

 

 

 

Christmas Fun For Littles

Christmas Fun For Littles

I believe it is important to begin teaching the true meaning and reason we celebrate Christmas at a young age. I thought I would share a few traditions we started with our two littles. Our kids are two and four, so for now we keep things fairly simple and fun!

These Advent ornaments come in natural wood that you can hand paint, or you can purchase them pre-painted. I chose to get the natural wood and let my daughter help me paint them. She loves crafting, so this was a fun thing we got to do together.

 

Each day, starting on December 1st, we read and talk about what each ornament represents from the book provided, and then we hang the ornament on our tree. I chose to have a separate small tree in their play room to do this. That way the kids can focus on only the advent ornaments and not get distracted with other ornaments.

The kids look forward to taking turns getting to be the one to hang the ornament each day.

We also love to read! Over the years I have collected various Christmas books. I keep them in a basket in the living room so that the kids can see them and we read them throughout December.

Another tradition for us is the “4 Gift Rule”, well at least 4 gifts from us! Of course their family will get them gifts as well. As parents we buy them 4 gifts each. I love the simplicity of this. It helps to not make Christmas shopping overwhelming and helps children to focus on the true reason for celebrating Christmas.

Gift #1: SOMETHING THEY WANT
Bible Verse: Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
James 1:17

Gift #2: SOMETHING THEY NEED
Bible Verse: And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:19

Gift #3: SOMETHING TO WEAR
Bible Verse: Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
Colossians 3:12

Gift #4: SOMETHING TO READ
Bible Verse: 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.
Romans 12:2

(Click Here for more details on the 4 gift rule and to download the tags to use for wrapping!)

 

 

Besides Advent ornaments and Christmas books, we look foward to creating gingerbread houses, making smores in our fireplace, watching Christmas movies, singing christmas songs, and making various Christmas crafts.

It really is my favorite time of the year!

 

What’s in a name?

What’s in a name?

When it comes to naming children, most parents take it pretty seriously, putting much thought into it. David & I are no different, but I would say we may be a little more intense about it than some. As crazy as this may sound, we basically want the Lord to name our children. So far, He has. And I will say, He gets it right every time!

We believe their name speaks of their destiny. If you think about it, their name will be spoken over them too many times to count in their lifetime. If something is going to be spoken over my kids more than anything else,  I want that something to speak life. I want it to be something that shines light on the their God given identity and destiny. (I warned you guys, we are intense about names.)

Our first daughter’s name is Cadence Swift. Cadence means musical rhythm. Swift is the last name of a young adult women dear to my husband’s heart who was in his youth group. She was musically talented and radiant in her love for the Lord, but her life ended tragically during her first semester of college. The scripture the Lord gave us for Cadence is Psalm 89:15.

Our son’s name is Zion David. Zion, referring to the biblical Mount Zion, as well as the ultimate longing of God’s people for the promise of what Mount Zion represents (Isaiah 60:3). David, his middle name, is not only my husband’s name, but who the Lord calls “a man after God’s own heart” in the Bible. The Scripture given to us for him is Psalm 125:1.

I love the fact that the Lord cares about the things we care about. I believe that He places priority on the things that matter most to us. He will speak to us if we are making Him a priority by asking, listening, and looking. When it came to the existence and name of our third child, He spoke clearly:

For months before I was pregnant and even when I was pregnant and didn’t know it, the Lord put many signs in my path. I started having dreams of gardens and flowers would show up in the most random ways throughout my day. Also, my husband seemed to preach and make mention of everything relating to gardens during that time. (i.e. We are cultivating our lives to bear fruit, what it means to abide in the vine and be fruitful and multiply, being like a tree, planted by the waters, etc.) Then one evening, Cadence apparently told a few young adults at church that her momma had a baby in her tummy. We had never talked to her about the possibility, nor did I know that I was pregnant at the time. That same evening she walked out of the coffee shop, and someone had placed a flower in her hair. That sealed the deal for me. As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I knew we would have a girl, and her name would be Eden.

Eden means “delight” and also refers to the Garden of Eden in the Bible. Her scripture is Isaiah 51:3. I cannot say I knew just how significant her life scripture would eventually be to us.  This scripture is now a life scripture for my husband and I–A scripture we can hold on to and be encouraged by. Eden Grace was truly a delight to meet. She was born at 32 weeks, yet already in the arms of Jesus. Even though she didn’t live on earth with us, her legacy truly lives on.

For the Lord will comfort Zion [in her captivity];
He will comfort all her ruins.
And He will make her wilderness like Eden,
And her desert like the garden of the Lord;
Joy and gladness will be found in her,
Thanksgiving and the voice of a melody.

My husband and I will never regret asking the Lord  for our children’s names. For all that is lost, He will redeem and make work together for good. He is and will continue doing just that through Eden’s legacy!

So if you’re looking on the internet or books for baby names, try first asking the Lord to show you their name, and He will!  It’s an exciting journey we get to have with Him.