Looking back on 2014

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

For this first time in what feels like forever, I am sipping on a vanilla latte, gazing out the window watching cars go by as I settle into the comforting feel and buzz of the chatter at my favorite local coffee shop.  Whether writing a paper in college or working on a message for college ministry, planting myself at a little coffee shop to get things done amidst the light chatter and sounds of the espresso machine has always been the perfect environment to encourage the words to pour out from my fingers.   So when I had a little time in between appointments and my computer in the backseat I knew that this was just what I needed to spend some time looking back on 2014 before the next year is here.   

Growing up in the late 80s/early 90s, when I thought of the year 2020, I pictured an environment very much like the Jetsons.  I figured that we would be driving around flying cars, have robot dogs and live in homes that looked like spaceships.  Although things are not quite as I hoped as a kid, zooming around in flying cars, I am so thankful for where the Lord has lead me thus far. (and I mean shoot, we have 5 years till 2020- you never know what technology will look like by then!)

Looking back on 2014, here are some of the highlights and lessons that I’ve learned:

- In January, we added Finn to our family!! I learned lots about trusting the Lord as he had many health issues as a kitten, and realized just how much having children someday will require every fiber in my being to rely on the Lord. 

- It was a rough winter!!! But that made me super thankful for two things: sunshine and a fireplace!! I cannot tell you enough how much I love making a fire in the fireplace- it is sooo nostalgic of childhoods spent by the fire or trips to Colorado warming up our toes after a long day skiing.  I am soo thankful that we were able to get an insert in our previously unusable fireplace to make it a toasty asset for warming our house!  You can count on me to be making a fire anytime you come over to visit- it might even be borderline warm outside and this girl will still find a reason to get the fireplace going. 

- In March, my sister turned 30!  It was so cool to be a part of this monumental year in her life and to see the way that she embraced the sometimes intimidating big 3-0!  Celebrating with a scavenger hunt was one of the many fun things we did to honor her special year! 

- I definitely learned that friendships are HARD.  Struggling with the ebbs and flows of long-time friendships and others that have dropped off the map, I discovered that my desire for community and deep relationships is as strong as the hulk.  I’ve learned to rely on the Lord to fill the void left by friendships lost, and I am still learning how to adjust to changes.  This has been a huge part of my 2014 and I am eager to see how God grows me and teaches me in this in the next year. 

- Surprising my mom by taking her on a trip for her 60th birthday was a ginormous highlight of the year.  Thinking she was just going on a trip to an unknown destination with my dad, it was so fun to show up at the airport and reveal to her that we were not just there to send her off but to join for a fun-filled vacay to Maine.  This was a first time with my husband on a family trip- so this was a blessing and a learning curve as well. 

- This past summer, I finally took the jump into all things Young Living. Having used essential oils for several years, I finally took the dive to sign up, learn more about it, and share with others the immense benefits and blessings that can be found through essential oils (and I’ve already reaped some of the financial benefits too!).  They have changed my life, and I can’t wait to put more effort into this endeavor of sharing Young Living in 2015.  P.s. want to know more, please let me know!!

- In November, my husband and I took an anniversary trip to Seattle – this was definitely high on the list of highlights.  Continuing what we hope will be a tradition of taking a getaway around the time of our anniversary, Chris and I explored and relaxed in the delicious food-filled, beautiful although sometimes rainy location of Seattle.  We also marked this 3rd year as a special one by having anniversary photos taken by our wedding photographers who live in Seattle  (like the one above- can’t wait to share more).    Spending time with Marissa and Meghan, two phenomenal and oh-so-talented photographers who share our love for the Lord, was like donuts for breakfast- a joyful and filling time.  They showed us places of the city we hadn't seen, snapped pics, and chatted and laughed over wine and cheese.  (It's pretty cool how the Lord connects believers together through his Holy Spirit- I LOVE when this instant bond seems visible.)

This is just a tiny taste of my year and the highlights and lessons I have learned.  Don’t get me wrong, there were difficulties and sad moments laced into the good... but overall, I am so thankful because I feel so so blessed.  The Lord has been so good to me and my family and He deserves so much praise and thanksgiving for every way that He cares for us. 

I am looking forward to 2015 and can’t wait to see what the Lord has in store.

May your end of the year be so full of joy and love and bubbly!  Praying that you are able to look back with thanks and look forward with hope to what the Lord has planned for you in the next year. 


Catching up a bit...

Monday, December 8, 2014

It has been far too long since I have sat down to write, but let me tell you - the last couple months have been crazy.  I assure you I am not hiding (like my crazy cat in our Christmas tree = trouble hah), and my lack of posts is not due to a lack of things to say - but has been a result of a busy schedule, and a somewhat intentional break to again be present in life.

But since I've been a little M.I.A. and before it all of a sudden becomes 2015 (bah!!!!?!?!), I thought I'd share a little bit of what I've been up to since last time.

From August through November my schedule was irregularly crazy busy as I took a temporary position working for my dad as his administrative assistant while his regular gal was on maternity leave.  It was a huge blessing, and it's always cool to see my dad in action (I've filled in for his assistant before) but man did it take awhile to adjust to the schedule.  Having been "in between things" (ahh, the phrase that comes so quickly to my tongue and that I've come to love and hate, when people ask "what are you doing?") for so many years now, I've come accustomed to the life of being on my own schedule.  Adjusting to a full time position for 3 months was simply that, an adjustment.  So naturally after getting used to it and gelling with the way of life as a full-time employee, it was then time for my dad's assistant to come back to work and for me to re-adjust to figuring out what life outside of work looks like.

The timing of my position ending couldn't have been more perfect though, as later that week, my husband and I jetted off to Seattle for a long weekend getaway in honor of our 3rd (!!!) anniversary.  It was fantastic.  Having just spent a couple really busy months and my husband being in a busy season at work, we had been passing each other through the night.  Being able to get away from the norm and explore a new city was exactly the medicine that we needed to nourish our relationship.

We ate our hearts out, explored the city, took some anniversary photos (can't wait to see how they turned out!), had a really great time hanging out with our wedding photographers who are two incredibly sweet, lovely ladies who live in Seattle, and really just flew by the seat of our pants.  It was so amazing to see Chris unplugged and really enjoying just being.  We decided that this type of vacation is a must-do for us when things are getting a little crazy.  Not to mention, we fell in love with Seattle.

Besides our vacay, the past month has been full of lil house projects, my weekly bible study and volleyball matches, and beginning to prepare my home and heart for the holidays.  Although it's always difficult to wrestle with the questions that often flood my head, "What am I doing with my life?  What steps should I take to pursue my dreams?  Where are you leading me Lord?" - I have been intentional about not letting stress or worry get the best of me, and instead being thankful for the time God has given me to be fully supported by my husband and trusting that I'll take the necessary steps as the Lord guides me.

As for the rest of December, my goal is to be invested in the life God has given me and to really soak up the precious moments that surround the celebration of our Savior's birth.  I'm anxious to see what God has for me the rest of this month, and for the next year that is rapidly approaching.

Praying that your December is full of love, joy and the peace of Christ this holiday season.


God is Bigger than fear

Friday, October 17, 2014

For as long as I can remember, I have avoided the news like the plague.  At 4:00 on days where I'm free, I love watching Ellen Degeneres.  She brings so much joy and laughter.  But as soon as the hour ends and the 5:00 news starts - click, off goes the TV or the channel changes.  I know that not all of the news is bad or sad, but sooo much of it is.  And I understand that some awareness of what is happening around me is good.  But for me, I can't be constantly bombarded with all the bad in the world because all it does is bring me sadness and fear.

Prime example...hearing all of the Ebola news about the endless cases in Africa and the ones that keep popping up in the States, is a lot to handle.  For a girl who avoids the regular news and it's heaviness, the thoughts of an epidemic sweeping our nation shakes my world a bit.  The other night I lay awake with tears streaming down my face, dampening my pillow as I couldn't get these thoughts out of my head. It was like an avalanche- these fears led to others which led to others which led to an overwhelming feeling of being like a little girl convinced that there's a monster under the bed just waiting to jump out and get me.  I hate when moments like this come and I feel so unable to control my thoughts.  Praise God that my husband was there to hold me as I cried and tried to rationalize with myself and convince my brain to think of other things because man, I felt like I. was. stuck.

Fear is like an ever-changing monster of darkness that feeds on itself, doing whatever it can to extinguish the light.  And for me, being in the darkness, lying in bed at night- is when this monster seems to have the easiest time working its way towards me.

I am a very visual thinker, (hence the monster descriptions) and so when I start to feel afraid, to me it feels as if I can literally see a cloud of darkness coming over me.  So what's the first thing I want to do?  Turn on the light.   Turning on the light illuminates the room, bringing reality into focus and ridding the shadows that creatively became a creature in the corner of my imagination.  Turning on the light helps me be able to distinguish from what is real and what is simply my fear.

One of my all-time favorite Bible verses and one that I cling to most heavily when I feel the darkness weighing on my heart (or physically in a dark room) comes from Psalm 139:11-12.  It says, "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me, even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.'"

I cannot tell you how much comfort it brings me, to be reminded of these verses (and the ones before it that tell us there is nowhere we can go that the Spirit will not be with us) when I am struggling with fear.  To be quite honest, if I am home alone and hear a noise and the darkness suddenly brings all sorts of fears to my mind, over and over in my head I will repeat a version of this verse saying, Even the darkness is not dark to you for the night is as bright as the day. And then I'll repeat it to myself again Even the darkness is not dark to you, for the night is as bright as the day.  It's like a chant in my head that starts out quiet and grows louder as I gain confidence in the reminder that I am not alone- that with God, there is no darkness and that with Him I can bring light to, and conquer my fear.

I am so confident that we have a God who is much bigger and stronger than any of the darkness or fears that we face.  He's bigger than Ebola, he's bigger than the violence on the streets, he's bigger than the "monsters" that form in the darkness as I try to go to sleep- as Junior Asparagus from Veggie Tales would say - "God is bigger than the Boogie Man.  He's bigger than godzilla or the monsters on TV! Oh, God is bigger than the Boogie Man and He's watching out for you and me." Praise God that this is true.  I am so so thankful.

The problem though, is this.  We live in a world with a lot of darkness and a lot to be afraid of.  And unfortunately, that's not something that we can fix in the blink of an eye.  But, there is something that we can do.  We can bring light to the darkness in this world by proclaiming the name of Jesus; We can stop thinking about all the things that freak us out and make us want to curl up and hide under a blanket - we can extinguish these fears by changing our focus to the One True God who we know will bring light to the darkest of days and give us the strength to endure whatever is in front of us.  We can choose to bring light to the darkness.

This is SO not easy.  I had a terrible time moving past my fears the other night- it felt like a long fight, but with His grace and some loving encouragement from my sweet husband, I dried my tears, blew my nose and did my best to block out the negative thoughts that plagued me.  John 16:33 says, " In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."  Praise God that the darkness cannot touch Him; that with Him the night is brighter than the day, and that through His Son we can look forward to a world without fear because He has overcome- He has won the victory.

I know that I have many fear-filled days ahead of me- but I am going to do whatever I can, to fight the fight and refuse to let the darkness overshadow the light. My prayer is that you will too- that amidst the craziness that is this world we live in, that we would find peace in the One who created us.

Be prepared in season and out of season

Friday, September 26, 2014

Volleyball is my sport.  I have played since middle school and still continue to play on several rec leagues and man, I miss the every day practices that made me good at my craft of being a setter.  Now that I only play once or twice a week, the ball doesn't always go exactly where I planned... Sometimes it's too far off the net, too tight, or I didn't get to the pass quick enough and the attempted set goes right in the net.  I work my booty off to try to bring my skills back to where they were in my glory days, but being that we only play once or twice a week, the perfection of my skills can only go so far.  

If you want to be able to ever-so-lightly touch the volleyball so that it comes off your fingertips with no-spin and is effortlessly placed at the perfect spot off the net, at just the right height, so that your hitter's hand can contact the ball at the top of their swing and follow through, slamming the ball into the ground destroying any possibility of the other team being able to dig the ball and create a new play... you can't just show up on the first game day and expect perfection to happen.  You have to be in shape.  You have to be super quick on your feet to get to every ball whether the pass is perfect or not.  You have to have strong forearms so the set can be created with ease.  You need to have strong legs to get low enough to dig a short ball, and to be able to jump high enough to block the other team's attempt to spike or to jump-set a pass that was way too tight to the net.  And none of that happens overnight.  If you want to be a prime athlete, you need to be prepared in season and out of season.  

As a follower of Christ, my goal is to become more and more like Him everyday so that I might be a good representation of God's love and encourage others to get to know Him and be a part of what He is doing.  But just like I can't be an amazing setter without much preparation and practice, I can't be a great representation of Christ without training.  2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."  As practice, strengthening, and endurance are key factors in becoming a good volleyball player- the Word of God is crucial in training to be a woman of God who is equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy goes on to say in chapter 4 verse 2, "Preach the word: be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke, and encourage-- with great patience, and careful instruction." I believe wholeheartedly that the Bible is God-breathed and is central to my growth, but just like I am only practicing volleyball in season right now, am I doing this too when it comes to the word?

How often am I studying the Bible only when I am really struggling, or when I am in a season of sadness or desperation?  God's word says that if I am to going to be thoroughly equipped, I need to be prepared in season and out of season.  Seeking the Bible only when I'm feeling weak or needing wisdom isn't going to do the trick.  I need to be seeking His wisdom always- to be seeking correction, training, and teaching in all seasons.

What a great conviction that I need to really get to work on being a more disciplined reader of the Word (and I've just exposed the truth that I should practice volleyball more too ;).  Guess it's time to get to work.

taken care of

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

It is so crazy to me how God loves us so much and knows us so well that He gives us just what we need when we need to be taken care of.   

Today marks a year for when my sweet grandpa left us as he was called home to be with the Lord.  Coming up to this day, I wasn't quite sure how I would feel.  Being at his bedside, watching him breathe his last was not an easy moment - and yet it was one that was so beautifully orchestrated, so God-breathed and glory-filled that it is one that will forever mark my heart.  [If you're new here and have yet to read that story, please check it out- it is a story that deserves to be heard.]  

Dealing with grief and figuring out what life looks like without a loved one here on earth with us, is not an easy task and one that takes much more than a year to come to terms with.  I've had my ups and downs throughout this year, my fair share of tears and many moments missing his presence.  But today, I am determined to choose joy and focus on not only his life on earth, but be absorbed by the peace that passes all understanding knowing that he is indeed in Paradise with our heavenly father.  

Waking up this morning, fearing a heavy heart- I drew back my shades to find the brightest sun shining in my window.  It immediately brought joy to my heart and gave me an assurance that this day is not for grieving but for rejoicing.  For it is as 1 Thessalonians 4:13 says, "do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who do not have hope."  But I have to backtrack a little bit and tell you why it was simply the sun shining in my window that made this instant connection to joy.  

My grandpa was quite the sun-bather.  Many of my memories involve gramps soaking up the sun on his face, whether it be in the dead of summer or perched in a chair at the top of the ski hill with his head leaned back and a beer in his hand.  Even into his 80's he would take his sun chair, walk down the 18 steps it takes to get to the pier (sometimes wearing a turtle neck and long pants and hiking boots haha) and allow himself one full hour of sun on his face before he required himself to go back up.  Often when we would come to visit his face would be burnt, we'd scold him, and he'd say- "I was only out for an hour yesterday."  He crraaaved the sun.  

So in the moment when Grandpa went to be with the Lord, and there appeared outside the window the most beautiful sunset with the brightest and most radiant sun I have ever seen, we knew this had to be from the Lord.  (No joke, it was spectacular).  The nurse who came to care for us even pointed out the window and said, "do you see this?"  This sunset was so fitting and so encouraging- it was like the Lord knew just what we needed to see, to yet again be reminded that He was in control and He had in fact come to call my grandpa home. 

For the next three days, I kid you not, it felt like the sun was brighter.  Being September in Wisconsin you never know what you're going to get, but those few days as we planned gramps' service and dealt with the initial waves of grief, it felt as if the Lord made the sun brighter- like He was saying, "it's okay- he's here with me!"  This brought such great peace and joy to my heart- that I don't think I'll look at a bright bright sun the same ever again.  

This is why I say, it's so crazy how God loves us so much and knows us so well, that he provides just what we need to be taken care of.  Waking up this morning, seeing the bright bright shining sun, is exactly what I needed to be reminded of the glorious moments of Grandpa's homecoming and the blessing of knowing that he is truly with the Lord.  I again felt like the Lord was saying to me, "it's okay Mindy, he's here with me!"  

It is because of these encouragements and this promise that God really does follow through when He says He will come back for us and bring us to the place He has prepared for us, that I can choose joy today even when my heart is sad.  

God is so good.  I am SO thankful for the way He cares for me.  And I cannot wait to someday meet Him in heaven, when my time comes to be called home.  

A month and a bit later....

Friday, September 5, 2014

Well, here I am over a month later finally saying hello, and that I've missed you here on lovemin.  I took an unexpected blogcation as life has seriously been NUTS.   From spending time up north with family and friends, to relatives coming to visit from California, to a Packer game, and many wedding festivities... this summer has left me very little time to slow down, let alone sit down long enough to write out a blog post!   It's crazy to think that this summer has basically come and gone in what feels like a blink-of-an-eye.  It has been oh so busy, and yet so much fun because it's been jam-packed with so many great things!! For what feels like the first time ever, I am looking forward to fall and the anticipation of a little bit of a slower schedule.  Although I'm ready to say goodbye to the constant busyness, I'm still clinging to the warm weather and hoping that the fun will carry through as well.  

With the arrival of a new season, there are many new and exciting things on the horizon.  I look forward to seeing what God has for me in this time, and to (hopefully more regularly) sharing all these things with you.  But for now as I settle into a new role as a virtual assistant and prepare for another busy weekend ahead, I'll leave you with just a few pictures to give you a taste of what I've been up to for the last month.  


A different kind of Follower

Thursday, July 31, 2014

What's the first thing that comes into your mind when you think about being a follower?  Do you think of that term positively or negatively?  If someone said they wanted to follow you, would you be honored or annoyed? Outside of the Christian mindset of being a follower of Jesus, in my mind, I've given "being a follower" a negative connotation.  Maybe I'm channeling too far back, thinking about being a follower in the middle school days which was more likely referred to as being a copy cat...but I can vividly remember being annoyed when so-and-so would do something exactly like I did it, or literally follow me around on the playground when she didn't really ask me if she could do that.  One of my friends even went so far as to get super mad at me because she thought I cut my hair to be just like her!  For whatever reason, that idea has left a bad taste in my mouth about being a follower.  Like I want to say, "Why don't you just do things your own way?  If you're a follower that must mean that you aren't cool enough to be unique and do things your own way."

But really, isn't being a follower more like saying- "hey I think you are cool! So much so, that I want to be like you!" When someone follows you on Instagram or Twitter, are you annoyed or going to call them a copy cat?  No, you'll probably think it's affirming- that they like what they see.  And same for this space.  If someone started following me on bloglovin, I wouldn't be annoyed, I would be thrilled!  It would be an encouragement that someone likes what I have to say, right?

What got me thinking about all of this, was a discussion I had with my new bible study group where we were talking about what it means to be a follower of Jesus.  A part of our study was reading an article called Following Christ, by a man named Joseph Stowell.  In his article he talks about his relationship with his wife as compared to that of being a follower.  He talks about how he loves his wife so much that he continually wants to get to know her, he wants to care for her as best as he can, he wants to be where she is, and he is so compelled by her that he has been with her for 32 years now (as of 1996 when the article was written).  He says, "It is the pleasure and power of that relationship that affects not only my conduct toward her, but also the way I live all of my life."  That's one of the things that got me thinking, because doesn't that make following sound really awesome?

Instead of it being a negative connotation it's more like- I like you, I think you're really great.  And because of that, I want to get to know you so well, to understand how you live so that I too might live like you.  The way Stowell writes this, really put it into perspective for me.  He said, "the New Testament word for 'following'..."involves identifying so intimately with the one being followed that we incorporate our lives with his."  Based on this perspective of following, I most definitely want my relationship with my husband to reflect this idea; for our relationship to be so strong and so intimate that it affects how we live our lives.  And even more importantly, I want this to be so true of my relationship with Christ.

I think this is an area that I have been a little flat on lately.  I love Jesus and I know and value the fact that through Him I can have a relationship with God, but it's like I have put that relationship on the back burner.  He's still very much a part of my life and my thoughts, but I have not been intentional about pursuing the relationship, learning more about Him, and making it stronger.  And yet I still ask myself questions like, "why do I feel so far from Him, and why am I making stupid choices when I know that I want to live like He is living?"  Well, I mean, duh!  If I'm not as close to Him, how am I going to more easily walk in his ways?  (Same with my husband- how am I going to know how he needs to be cared for if we never talked to each other or something!)

Thinking about my relationship with Christ in this light, is the motivation I have needed to kick it back into gear.  Stowell encouraged this thinking by saying, "When I am far away form Him, replicating His character and conduct will seem like too tough a chore.  When, however, He is the central relationship in my life, radical reformation becomes the intriguing adventure of life."  I don't want to be so far away from Him that living like Him seems impossible.  I want to be up close and personal, getting to know Him more and more so that the essence of who He is just pours out of me.

Although this summer is crazy and sometimes it seems like there's not enough time in the day to be intentional about relationships, my hope and prayer is that this will be the encouragement I needed.  That the desire to be closer will truly motivate me and push me forward.

How Lavender Changed my Life

Monday, July 14, 2014

For as long as I can remember, I have had trouble sleeping.  I've always been a night owl, so that probably plays into it a bit - but there comes a time when your body can't handle the college student hours of staying up until 2 or 3 in the morning.  After college, trying to dial back my hours to be a bit more normal just did not work for me.

Wayyy too many times I would go to bed around 11 or so, and lay there forever.  2:00 would roll around, then 3:00, sometimes 4:00 and by then I'm so frustrated with the fact that I am not sleeping that it's almost impossible to sleep because I'm all worked up.  Any time I had a big event for work, I could almost guarantee that this would happen.  Before going on a retreat, when I would really like the most sleep to help prepare for a work trip, I would not sleep the night before.  Then I would just pray that the fact that I'm so tired would make me be able to sleep the next night.  

There was one period, a couple years ago that it got so bad, I really thought I was going to lose my mind.  Two weeks, two really long weeks- I got maybe 1 or 2 hours of sleep a night.  It was terrible.  I would get so frustrated, move to the couch, try to watch TV, read, do anything to make myself get tired.  And then the cycle just continued, until I got so frustrated, was basically in tears and made an appointment with my doctor.  Long story short, I got little to no help, was sent home with a low-dose anti-anxiety medicine to try to help me get back on a cycle and then I was left on my own.  Thank God I got through those weeks of not sleeping, but my battle with sleep was definitely not over.  

That is until I met Lavender.  

Having tried essential oils here and there when my mom would pass something my way, I was a little skeptical.  But all of that changed when Lavender essential oil changed my sleep life.  My mom had at one point passed a bottle of Young Living's Lavender Essential oil, and for awhile it just sat in my cupboard.  But one night, when I was laying there in my lack of sleep I decided to look up a few remedies with essential oil.  I googled "lavender essential oil for sleep" or something of the like.  And praise God, I found the information that made an amazing difference in my life.  2 or 3 drops of lavender dropped into my left palm rubbed clockwise with my right hand and then rubbed on my spine, is all it took to promote restful sleep, turning me into a good sleeper.  

When I say Lavender changed my life, I know that it sounds like one of those over-exaggerated statements to which you'd want to respond with an eye roll and "yeah okay".  But I mean it.  Sure, I still have a few nights here and there where I have a hard time falling asleep, but it has never been the same.  Before Lavender, I was skeptical about the power of essential oils but now I am believer, and I'm hooked.  (And Lavender is for much more than just sleep!! It's great for helping maintain a healthy life in regards to anxiety, cuts, and burns- including sunburn!)  It was like my gateway drug because now I'm all about trying different oils to better my physical and emotional health.  

If there's something that you're struggling with in your life, like I was with sleep, I highly encourage you to check out the amazing resource in essential oils.  If there's any way that I can encourage you or help you learn more about what they could do for you, please don't hesitate to contact me.  I am very much still learning but love being able to share what I know, in hopes that I might be able to help others get connected to this amazing blessing that the Lord has given us.


July is here!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Good grief... can anyone tell me where June went?!  I sincerely apologize for my absence on lovemin - life has been crazy!!!  Things should definitely think about slowing down this summer.  Despite the craziness, June has been an awesome month.

Here's where I came out on my goals:
  • read "Where'd you go, Bernadette?" - having a hard time getting into this one, we'll see
  • host a Young Living class!!! - TUESDAY this is happening :)
  • get some quality water skiing action in up north, as much as possible 
  • change up my hairstyle  I'm a blonde again!
  • go on a date with my man - this NEEDS to happen. We have been basically passing in the night
  • soak up my favorite TV show - So You Think You Can Dance - love love love this show
  • make the front yard pretty- aka pull out most of the greens (there's too many) - I'm crossing out half because I definitely made progress, but I'm still working on this.
Not everything I wanted to do got done, but one amazing thing happened... we took my mom on a surprise trip for her 60th birthday and it was so great.  I'll tell you more of the story later (and share some pics of the beauty in Maine- check out a few on my Instagram) but it went off without a hitch.  Every day she kept saying, "this is so surreal" and "another beautiful day in paradise." So I am thinking that it was a success.

As for July.... I feel like I am just trying to keep my head on straight.  As much as I love summer, it is just so busy.  Every single weekend from now until September is booked.  They are all great things, but yikes- it's nice to have a little freedom in the schedule here and there.  Oh well, I am going to do my best to soak up all the goodness and take free moments to create spontaneous fun.  Here's what's on the docket for my goals.
  • go on a date with Chris- for real this time
  • soak up warm summer days – go to the beach or sit out on a patio
  • find peace amidst the crazy – take a day for me to breathe
  • read a novel
  • get dressed up and go out- dinner, dancing, wine, or something
  • think more about blog stuff – what do I want to make of this space?

That's all I've got for now!  Looking forward to re-energizing and gearing up for another crazy but awesome month.  Praying that yours may be equally amazing.

Want to share your goals? 
Join me as I link up with Hayley over at The Tiny Twig.

The Tiny Twig

Let us Rejoice

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Ending the night last night in the bathtub, praise God, I realized that I have been really terrible at taking moments to breathe, to appreciate the silence, and allow God time.  So, this afternoon I am pushing off the things that need doing and spending some time in the word.  I am still working on my study at Shereadstruth about Nehemiah (which I have fallen way behind in... they are already 5 or 6 days in on the next study, oops)  And today I found in it, some words that I so often need to be reminded of.

At this point in Nehemiah, the people finished building the wall and were getting settled inside the city.  From morning to midday they stood at the gate as Ezra read the Book of the Law.  And as the people listened, they wept.  This is not the response Nehemiah and the teachers wanted the people to have, so he said to them, "Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared.  This day is sacred to our Lord.  Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength." (Neh. 8:10)  The people were so focused on how they messed up, how they disobeyed the Lord that they could not see the whole picture- they couldn't see the joyous truth found in His forgiveness and grace.  Nehemiah wanted to help the people see that their response to the Word was not to be an inward focus with weeping over the ways they screwed up, but to be one of praise, of worship for how good the Lord is.  He wanted them to rejoice for the goodness and forgiveness that is found in Him.  

This is a lesson that I need to be schooled on over and over again.  When I do something that I know is wrong, or stupid, or mean, or disobedient to how the Lord wants me to be, I have a terrible time getting over it.  For way too long, I am like the people who hear the Word and just weep.  Instead of seeking forgiveness, finding freedom in His grace, and letting it go as a lesson learned, I apparently prefer to hunker down in the sadness and shame of my sin and just sit there.  I relive the moment by rehashing it over and over in my mind thinking about what I did, what I could have done differently, and basically shaming myself over and over again.   I don't know why I have such a hard time with this, or why I am so hard on myself but it is definitely a big struggle for me to let go of mistakes I've made.  I am so thankful that the truth of the Lord is not about shame and discipline, but instead it is about forgiveness, grace, and transformation.  What I need to work on is grasping that- and letting the truth permeate my being, and lead me to joy.

I like how Matthew Henry encourages this in his commentary where he says, "“Even sorrow for sin must not hinder our joy in God, but rather lead us to it…when they understood, they rejoiced.” (emphasis added) What a great way of looking at it. It's important to have some sorrow over our sin, in fact I think it's necessary, because it shows we realize we've done wrong... but if it starts to hinder our joy in God, then it's gone too far.  I don't want to dwell in the sadness of my sins anymore- I want to repent and be led to joy in Him!

Amanda Williams, author over at Shereadstruth says it well as she challenges us by saying, "Sisters, let us seek to understand the fullness of the Gospel today. Let us remember our great God, recognize our sin and take hold of His complete forgiveness. And let us rejoice."

Boom.  Amen to that.   

Bonjour June

Monday, June 2, 2014

I don't think I have ever been so excited to see June!  Probably because with this June has come WARM WEATHER!  Woohooo!!!! It has been so good to feel the warmth of the sun on my face and see a little color on my skin, and to just enjoy being outside without freezing my toes off. I am sooo thankful!!!

With the arrival of June, it's time to see how I did on my May to-do list:
             celebrate my birthday!! Watch out 28, I'm coming for ya! 
My birthday was lovely.  I didn't do anything crazy, as I didn't feel like hosting a hoopla.  But quality time with the fam and some friends was perfecto.  There was in fact a PiƱata though, so that was pretty amazing.
             host a lovely Mother's Day brunch at our house (in-laws and all) 
Mother's day brunch was a success!! It was fun having both families over for the first time together at our new house and being able to celebrate our moms and enjoy some tasty brunch, mimosas, and some quality hang time in the yard.
             put my DSLR to good use more often - maybe plan a fun lil shoot?   
This is on my list for summer for sure.
             start a new personal Bible study ***   
I started a new Bible study!!! It's pretty great.  It's over on www.shereadstruth.com and it's so user friendly and quick and easy to use, and the writers are pretty great and encouraging.  I'm a little behind and catching up on the study of Nehemiah, but I'm loving it.  Definitely check it out.
             finish the last book of the Divergent series 
Yup. It is finished.  I am not sure how I feel about it.  Anyone else finish?  So curious what other people think.  It was a great series though.

Boom.  Done and done... almost.  Just need to give my camera a lil more lovin'.

And now for June - -
I have high hopes for June and this upcoming summer.  It is definitely going to be a busy month (hello weddings, bridal showers, travels up north, etc), but it is going to be a great one, I can feel it.  Here's what I'm hoping to accomplish:

             read "Where'd you go, Bernadette?"
             host a Young Living class!!! *** 
[I've been using YL oils for 4+ years and they have made a significant impact in my life.  I am excited to finally be sharing my passion for essential oils and encouraging others to see how God can use them in their lives! In fact, I don't know why I have yet to share about them on here?? Stay tuned for that. ;)]
             get some quality water skiing action in up north, as much as possible 
             change up my hairstyle 
I've been rocking the ombre for awhile now, and thinking it might be time for a change.  FYI changing up my hairstyle is one of my most favorite things (and most analyzed- right Audra?)
             go on a date with my man 
             soak up my favorite TV show - So You Think You Can Dance
             make the front yard pretty- aka pull out most of the greens (there's too many) 

I feel like I could keep this list coming, just cause I have all sorts of things I'd like to do in June.  But I better save some for the rest of the summer ;)  Hope your summer is off to an amazing start.

Want to share your goals? 
Join me as I link up with Hayley over at The Tiny Twig.

The Tiny Twig

Waiting time is never wasted

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

"Beloved, our great and pressing need today is to give ourselves to waiting upon God, because waiting time is never wasted time."  - Ian Hamilton

I came across this quote in the new Bible study I started through Shereadstruth.com (check it out, pretty cool daily bible study). The current study is on Nehemiah; specifically in regards to this quote, Nehemiah 1:11-2:8.  In this part of the book, Nehemiah has just discovered that his hometown Jerusalem has been destroyed- the wall has been broken down and the city gates have been burned by fire.  He is very far away from home which makes it difficult to do anything and yet he feels it so heavy on his heart that it brings him to tears and to his knees.  The reason that this quote is brought into the study is because Nehemiah prayed, waiting on the Lord for the right opportunity to ask the king, whom he worked for as cupbearer for the opportunity to go and rebuild the wall in Jerusalem.

When I think about waiting, I think that's pretty much how I view it- as wasted time I could've spent doing something else.  I mean really, seeing the act of waiting as a positive and even important time is so far from our culture's understanding of that term, is it not?  Sitting in the waiting room at the doctor's office, and just waaaiiting to be called in?  Ick- no thanks (that could partly be my bent against going to the doctor, but still).  Waiting to hear back about an interview.  Waiting for a page to load on the computer.  Waiting for results after a big test.  Waiting to be served at a restaurant, or for a table to open up.  Waiting for a friend who is running late.  Most often, waiting is the pits!  So it has a pretty negative connotation, don't you think?

Being in this place as a housewife, I feel like waiting is kind of the story of my life.  If you ask me why I haven't pursued employment or taken a step towards figuring out what's next, its because I honestly feel like I am waiting on the Lord to lead me to what's next.  And who knows, maybe being housewife right now is exactly what the Lord wants me to wait for- I don't know.  But reading the quote, "waiting time is never wasted time" got my brain thinking- why is it that waiting is always viewed negatively, and why is it that whenever you have to wait, so often it really does feel like wasted time?  It's like we are so focused on getting to the next thing, the next point on our agenda, the next goal, that we completely miss the waiting time in between that is most likely just as beautiful if not more than the next step in front of us.

It's such a twisted view from what I think God intends it to be, and one that I'd really like to work on in my own life.  I don't to view any of my time as wasted!  I don't want to look back on this period of time in my life and say, geez Mindy, if only you appreciated the waiting time for the blessing and growing time that it was, instead of being so concerned about what's happening next.

I would like to be intentional about changing my attitude about waiting.  I'm going to try to be less concerned about the time spent waiting, or getting to the next thing on my agenda, and try to find the beauty in each moment (even in the doctor's office waiting room- ick).  To view waiting time as a blessing, as a brief break from the craziness that is so often our lives.  To really seek God and praise Him for this time in my life.  And to allow Him to lead me in HIS timing not mine because I know that He is worth waiting upon.

Thinking about this topic, a Bethany Dillon song came to my mind- in fact it's called To Those Who Wait and the chorus says, "Lord, today You know what I need to do.  But You can do more in my waiting than in my doing I could do.  So I won't run anymore, I'm waiting on you."

I love this encouragement.  He really can do way more in my waiting than I could do in my doing.  I don't ever want to get one step ahead of the Lord and what He has planned for me, I want to make sure He is right beside me leading me in the way I should go... and sometimes, most times, that requires waiting.  Waiting time is never wasted IF we use it as an opportunity to trust the Lord to lead us in His perfect timing.

Instead of being negative, let's go soak up times of waiting!  Let's pause, pray, view them as a blessing, and enjoy each moment for what it's worth.

Friendships in your 20's

Friday, May 16, 2014

Growing up, I’ve realized that friendships in your 20’s are hard. Everything seems to change in your relationships because people are moving across the country, getting married, figuring out who they are and who they want to be, having babies, getting established in a career, and all the other joys of getting older. All of these things are great, don’t get me wrong, but all of this contributes to a new place in life where friendships seem to be a lot more difficult to maintain.

I miss the easiness of friendship in college and high school, when it was all about fun and games, when you saw each other every day, and building friendships and spending time together was really a huge focus in our lives. I understand that things change, and that friendships won’t always look the same, but I have to be honest- this has been a really, really difficult realization for me to grasp lately.

I highly value my relationships and have always been a huge fan of having heart to hearts, intentional hang time, being vulnerable, and really just living life with one another through the nitty gritty as well as the fun. Not having as much of this in my life lately, I’m really craving depth and intentionality in my relationships, and missing the times that it came so naturally.

God created us to live in community, to need each other, to support each other, to encourage one another and build each other up. I’m so thankful for that reminder because it encourages me that my desires for deep friendships are not me being crazy or selfish or something, it’s just how God created me to be.

Struggling with this void, I’ve learned that you can’t force things, and you can’t make relationships fill a hole that the other person might not even know is there. I’ve shed a few tears here and there, but I don’t want to wallow in this sadness. I want to try to adjust and figure out what the Lord might be teaching me in this time. I’ve been blessed with some amazing friendships, I am so thankful! I just now need to focus less on what is missing and more on making the most of every relationship I have in front of me.

Romans 14:19 has been an encouragement to me in this time as it says, “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and mutual edification.” This section of Romans talks about how we are to treat our brothers and sisters in Christ, how we are to accept one another, just as Christ accepts us.  I know it might sound slightly unrelated, but it has really helped me change my focus.  Instead of trying to fix what's missing or force my relationships to be what I need all the time, I'm trying to make every effort to bring peace into them.  The way I see it is, I have two choices-  to be frustrated and sad, or make every effort to make the most of them. That’s what I’d like to be my goal as I navigate this new territory, to seek the Lord and make every effort to do what leads to peace and mutual edification in my relationships.

Praying that you, too, might be encouraged with any struggle you're dealing with.  You are not alone.  Sending love your way!  xoxo

28 and counting...

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

27 was quite the year...

These are just a few of the memorable moments that took place during my 27th year.  Learning how to navigate a season of grief, adjusting to a new home and a role as housewife, fun times with friends, lots of laughter with family, feeling content mixed with desires to know more, to be more, and holding dear to the loved ones the Lord has blessed me with, are just a few of the other highs and lows that make this year it's own.  

I have SO much to be thankful for.  God is sooo good, and I am incredibly blessed by the way that He continually extends me grace and loves me even when I don't deserve it.  As I think about turning 28, and preparing for another year in my life, Proverbs 16:9 comes to mind.  It says, "In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps."  My prayer is that this verse would be echoed in the way that I navigate my life this next year- that He would lead me in the way I should go, and that each step would glorify Him.  

Cheers to 28!  Can't wait to see what this next year holds. 

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