Well, hello, Dearly Neglected Blog. How the heck are you? Oh, life is flying by and I have to say "no" to certain things including this blog. However Jason and I are celebrating our 10 year anniversary tomorrow...ohmygosh, 10 years flew by. I'd say that's the result of marrying a wonderful man. We decided to write out our mission statement. Something about writing makes it more concrete. So here goes...
I'm still not accepting that 2014 is over...how did it go so fast? And that will be my excuse of why this post is so late...it can't be January now February 2015. :)
I always like to hear about others' favorites, so I thought I'd share a few of mine.
#1 REVELATION WELLNESS I've shared my love of Revelation Wellness before, but EVERY SINGLE TIME I do a workout or a workin with them, I am reminded of how my $10 monthly donation beats the heck out of a gym membership. No need to try and look cute for the gym. I can wear my old high school basketball t-shirt and just feel awesome while I workout in the comfort of my own home. I look forward to the workout. I enjoy it in the midst of the workout, all while having my thoughts and focus on worshiping the Lord who created my body to move and serve Him well. I take advantage of theirVIP TV workouts (click this link and you can try some of their workouts for free), but that is only the tip of the iceberg of the programs they offer. Seriously, check it out. (I am getting no payment for sharing my love for them...I just love them and want everyone else to experience freedom of working out the right way!)
#2 PLAN TO EAT A few of my favorite blogs have shared about this program and I had decided to try it. And I love it! Plan to eat helps you plan your meals and my favorite part is after you select your meals for the week, they make up your shopping list for you. I really don't mind menu planning too much, but this has cut my planning down to nothing! The only time consuming part is integrating your recipes into their site, but once they're done, they're done. You can also connect to other members and save their recipes and sample weekly menus. Kat Lee from Inspired to Action takes you through a bootcamp and it's super helpful. Check it out here. Your first month is free and also, they have a Thanksgiving sale every year where they give you a full year for 1/2 price. Great deal!
#3 RESTLESS This was my favorite bible study of the year. I discovered Jennie Allen from the If Gatheringwhich is awesome in itself. I read the book and then I knew I wanted to do the study. With our few short years on earth, Jennie challenges us to really evaluate the piece of our lives and how God wants to use them for His Glory and our good. It was really enlightening and I realize as I write this that it also lines up with my 2015 focus of being intentional with my time and how I use it. I want to not waste my life, or like Jennie calls it "piddling our time away." And let's be honest, in today's world, it is so easy to piddle our days away and beware that satan would be a big fan of piddling.
As I focus on a new year, I have discovered a way of resolution setting that works for me. And works year through! I love goals and I set them, but I'm not a big fan of resolutions. I think that when you fail, you just give up.
So, for the past five years, I have picked a theme to focus on through the year. So the past five years have been centered around:
Joy Peace Simplicity Discipline Prayer (this was my theme for 2014)
And simply what I love about this idea is that it is SIMPLE!
In July, when the New Year's Resolutions are long forgotten, I can remind myself of the one word and re-center and it's just wonderful. I am far from perfect, but I like to know that my years have produced lasting fruit and I'm humbled to say that each year has been blessed with fruit. Thank you God!
So this year, I haven't decided on the one word quite yet, but I know I want to tackle a "First Things First" mentality...a time of focus on living what my priorities are. I can waste my time on things that don't matter or I can re-center my time on what truly matters to me.
Here's to 2015. Lord, I know you have amazing things in store. May I have open eyes to see and I pray you use me for Your Glory! Bless Your Holy, Precious, Perfect Name!
7 years ago on this day, I was going through our 2nd miscarriage. Jason was 10,000 miles away on business. My heart was shattered and I wondered how a loving God could ask me to endure through this. Many tears and many questions later, here we are with 3 precious children.
I know that all stories will not end the same as ours, but I do know that God is faithful.
Even when we are not.
He is the only one who can TURN ASHES INTO BEAUTY.
To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for his own glory. ~Isaiah 61:3
I reached it. This morning. I woke up after a restless night of sleep. Heart pounding. Head rushing. I try to breathe a prayer to God that His Spirit would flood me. That my spirit would relinquish. I knew things had to change or I could spiral out. I wondered why I reached this point. My years of trying have come up short. My level of hard work, my "everything is ok" mentality, my control issues. They were not enough to keep it all in order. Thank you Jesus for this revelation. This breaking that left me paralyzed without the Spirit interceding. Where do I go from here? Mystery. Mystery is sometimes maddening. Yet, faith building. In the most beautiful sense. My steps so far have been slowing to quiet my spirit. To let go of my "good girl" persona and admit to myself that I cannot save myself. Only God. Only God. Only God. What a beautiful testament that God will give us new hearts. “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols.And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations." ~Ezekiel 36:25-27 I realize part of my journey is letting God come in and heal me from some pains that I have pushed down. I only trust Him to do that. The only one who can turn ashes into beauty. That's who I want to fix me. Lord, come. You are so good and trustworthy. Lead this ragamuffin to abundant life.
I am definitely a person who gravitates to other people full of joy and optimism. I likewise tend to distance myself from negative people. And I wonder how much negativity is satan-filled.
God is FILLED WITH JOY.
Let me say that again, God is JOY-FILLED!
God is the one who gave us wonder, who gave us cute little feet for tickling, the ability to laugh, animals with a playful nature, children who thrive just playing. All good things come from Him.
But simply there is not a single being who is happier than God. If you believe differently, you are believing a lie.
Likewise, I believe satan is miserable, pathetic. And he wants everyone to be sucked into his misery.
If you feel like someone in your life is working to make you miserable (just like they are), pray. The Lord may be showing you their nature. Not to say that we cut people out of our lives. God may ask you to do that, but we need to shine Jesus to the hurting world around us.
Jesus says, "Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves..." Matthew 10:16
If you are being dragged down by someone, be shrewd.
Consider instead to:
Seek His Joy. It is EVERYWHERE. Shine it! Embrace it! Thank God for it! It glorifies Him when we are satisfied in Him!
And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. ~John 8:32 How easily we can be deceived because someone "appears" to know all the answers. Let's be clear. There is one Truth. One Word. All from our perfect Father in Heaven. It disturbs me that so easily we can accept false teaching because someone seems to know more than us. But be careful, because satan is good at what he does. Deception. If you want to know truth, go only to the source, The Bible. My dad told me often how my great-grandmother questioned the church she was going to because they did not trust the members to read The Word themselves. I love that she was wise enough to know that she can study the Word through the Holy Spirit's revelation. She was a little rebel in her days because she would host bible studies and they would get in the Word together. I love that! God is there. Trust Him. He is the giver of truth. I admit there are some amazing books out there. I love to read others' perspectives. But we have to be so careful to hold tight to one truth. Though someone's intentions may not be to deceive, they are at the core, human beings. We have one book written by God. ONLY ONE. If you dig in further to John 8, you see that these well-versed, extremely religiously educated descendants of Abraham had one father who was not who they thought he was. Jesus called them sons of the devil. That is sobering. Be cautious and discerning. There is one truth.
I have for the last 10 years been one of those people who is not too keen on religion. Jesus and faith are where I will hang my hat, which, really, I want to find a cute hat.
Anyways, religion I believe was created for good. The enemy has used it for bad though. However, I don't bemoan that fact because regardless of the bad in this world, God is still and will ALWAYS be on the throne.
With that said, I had an epiphany yesterday and I like the word "epiphany". I am very committed to time with God. Every morning I wake up with time in the Word and study. Prayer accompanies that. My "job" is very missional so I feel like every aspect of my life can be a way to glorify Him. I have been working through discovering idols in my life because we're doing No Other Gods with my ladies' bible study (which is a highlight of my week...seriously, if you don't have a good bible study group, find one, or start one...I promise you it will bless your heart and soul!!!) As I am trudging through idols in my life and other strongholds, I always come back to why it seems to never change. Why am I still in this place? Why do I feel dry?
As I was pondering this, I felt Him say to me, "Just focus on knowing Me. No more, no less." And it hit me that I've been doing all the "right" things and missing the One I need. It really struck me how it all boils down to relationship.
I can so glibly say that. That it is essential that as Christians, we need a relationship with Him.
But it struck me that I was saying it but not living it. And I say that with the fact that I read the Word everyday. I pray everyday. I do. But I'm missing knowing Him and Him knowing me.
I liken it to the fact that I have a relationship with my children. I am around them all day long. I know their needs. I provide for them. I teach them.
But after my epiphany yesterday I sat down with Bella and just looked at her.
Really looked at her.
Watched her pretty smile. Observed what she liked to do. Asked her questions.
And it's like Jesus said, "Yes, this is what it is to know Me."
I'm not sure where I go from here. Except that I told God honestly I want to know Him. He tells us we can pray boldly. (How awesome is that?!) And so in that truth, I asked Him to show me Him.
I don't want a dry faith. I want an "in season juicy peach" kind of faith. If you know what I mean. I want it to be as I'm biting into a luscious peach and having to eat it over the sink because the goodness of Him is pouring out on me. I know He is faithful. He never disappoints.
So I'm praising Him for already answering that prayer.
One of my long term goals is to have a better comprehension of good photography so that I can use the camera as a tool of creativity. A big belief of mine is that we are all creative, whether we choose to believe it or not. If you doubt this, recall that we were made by the biggest, most amazing artist in all the universe. And reminder: He created us in His image. So by default, we are creative. Get over yourself if you think you're not.
Embrace it! Celebrate it! Deny it NO MORE!
I have a nice camera but I'm embarrassed to admit that I know hardly anything on the ins and outs of it. So here we go...by blogging it, (hopefully) I'll be more accountable about following through with learning it.
Aperture (f-settings): one aspect that controls the amount of light that enters the camera when a picture is snapped. The larger the aperture, the more light that will enter and vice versa.
Aperture settings on the camera are called F-stops. Confusing part of the f-stops are the higher the number, the smaller the aperture (opening).
f22 = small opening
f1.4 = large opening
A maybe easier way of understanding is low number = large opening
The aperture selected can be because of the depth of field you are trying to achieve.
Very shallow depth of field = the main subject is in focus but the surroundings are blurry (low f number)
*The following 2 pictures have a low f-stop, and a shallow depth of field
Very larger depth of field = all ares of the photo are in focus (large f number)
*The following 2 pictures have a high f-stop, and a large depth of field
So go ahead, I dare ya, find the f-stop on your camera and go crazy!
For the sake of intentional living, I have committed to monthly goals and they really seem to boost me along.
Even if I don't complete them all, at least I'm making progress. I have to be careful I'm finding that I do not allow achieving my goals an idol. Goals are there to push me to live a life of worship. I do not want to worship achievement.
My June goals were:
Scripture to memorize:You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You and hopes confidently in You. ~Isaiah 26:3
Write 2 love letters to Jason
100 Pushups/week: I made it to 100 one week but the other weeks I averaged 85-90, still not bad. Oh and these were a combo of modified pushups and real pushups.
Run 1 morning/week
Read 1 Homeschool Book
Ask about mentoring: Will have to include on my July goals.