2020 Book List

I can’t believe it is already a new year! 2019 flew by and left me feeling like I needed to accomplish more. I’m not big on making New Years Resolutions but there are a few things I hope to change in 2020. One of those is to read more. I love books, and if I could spend a day alone in Barnes and Noble I wouldn’t ask for anything else ever again. Well, except for maybe another book. The problem, however, is that I don’t follow through with actually reading these books! Last year I posted a summer reading list and to be honest I still need to read a few of those books.

To make my goal a little more feasible, I am reading one book a month. I’m excited to have my face in actual pages instead of staring at a phone screen all the time. I’m challenging myself to step away from social media and pick up a book instead. Hopefully you can do the same! Below you can find the list of books I’ll be reading this year.

14296_1_ftc_dpHinds Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard Join Much-Afraid, Sorrow, and Suffering as they follow Shepherd into new heights of love. A beautiful allegory of how we follow Christ.

 

 

 

 

51biOSzmhvL._SX342_The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes One of Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club picks for 2020, and soon to be a motion picture, this is a true story of five women in Depression-era America.

 

 

 

91sA45eczcLNo Other Gods by Kelly Minter This is a Bible study I can’t wait to start. In this 8 week study, Kelly breaks down things in our life we may be putting before God without even realizing it. Think, Instagrammable homes. This will definitely be a must-read for me this year.

 

 

 

91XzDhmYciLSick of Me by Whitney Capps In this book, Whitney challenges us to stop being ‘fake’ and get real about our ‘junk.’ Bu don’t stop there; let God transform you to become Holy like He is. I have a feeling this book will pack a lot of conviction in a fun to read format.

 

 

 

 

9780593193211_p0_v1_s550x406Get Out of Your Head by Jennie Allen I’m so excited to read this book! Jennie gives us the tools to stop toxic thinking through Biblical advice and neurological facts. Live in the peace that God designed us for!

 

 

 

 

9780778369073_p0_v4_s550x406The Cactus by Sara Haywood Also on Reese Witherspoon’s book list, this will be a light-hearted book about letting go of control and falling in love.

 

 

 

 

 

9781439153666_p0_v3_s550x406The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom I’m a huge fan of historical narratives! This is a moving book about a plantation home in Virginia, decades before the Civil War. Lavinia, a young girl who has lost her family, is now working in the kitchen house, where she learns dark secrets of the masters family. I have started this novel and it is already a page turner and moving novel.

 

 

 

 

9781501173219_p0_v3_s550x406All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr I love historical novels! And this book has been on the New York Times Top 10 book list for two years. This novel is about a blind French girl and a German boy who find each other in occupied France, and how they try to survive the devastation of World War II.

 

 

 

 

9781937077976_p0_v4_s550x406

Love Your Life, Not Theirs by Rachel Cruze Cody and I are currently going through Financial Peace University, and I love listening to Rachel’s podcast! I know this book will give sound advice not only about how to take control of your money but to quit the comparison game.

 

 

 

 

 

9780310352457_p0_v3_s550x406You Are The Girl For The Job by Jess Connolly I may have to read this book next! I cannot wait to dive into this book. Do you feel like you have God-given talents but feel stuck or unsure how to use them? Jess gives us 6 steps towards our empowered purpose. Start believing that God made you to be the girl for the job.

 

 

 

 

9781501154652_p0_v3_s550x406Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell If you’re a fan of Gone Girl or Girl On the Train, then this book is for you! This is plot-twisting story of how a mother loses her child, which crumbles her life and marriage. After she meets a new man years later, she can’t help but feel an odd connection to his daughter…This is a book I CANNOT wait to read.

 

 

 

 

9781250301697_p0_v5_s550x406The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides I’m a sucker for a psychological thriller. This book may be JUST the book for the job. Think, Alfred Hitchcock and Agatha Christie.

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you can see, my book list is an even mix of fiction and non-fiction. I believe it is so important to read books that help us learn and grow! I also believe it’s important to enjoy reading and read books that spark our imagination and keep the love of reading alive.

You can read my other book list here!

Happy reading!

 

The Manger of My Heart: The Season of Advent

I love Christmas time. Donned as the ‘most wonderful time of the year,’ we see that played out everywhere around us as December approaches. It is a time of joy, celebration, giving, and anticipation. As a parent, I anticipate the look of joy on Josie’s face as she opens gifts under the tree. I revel in the excitement of stuffing stockings, baking goodies, and gathering with friends and family. But as much as I love all of these things about the Christmas season, there is nothing I love more than recognizing it as a season of Advent.

Growing up, we didn’t celebrate Advent. It wasn’t a word that I heard or celebrated until I became an adult. Now that I know what Advent is, it has become a favorite time during the holiday season.

Advent comes from a Latin translation meaning ‘coming.’ It is the act of waiting for the arrival of our Savior. The Israelites first waited for their promised King and He showed up as a baby. Now, we wait for our coming King a second time, yet this time He will not show up humbly, but fiercely. So what exactly is Advent and how do we celebrate it?

Advent lasts for the four Sundays leading up to Christmas day. The most common celebration is to place four candles within a wreath and light each one on Sunday. The candles represent hope, faith, peace, and joy. The wreath represents God’s eternal love for us that will never be broken. The evergreen branches represent new life we have with Christ, as well as signifying that Christ is the tree and we are the branches. The candles represent the darkness that is being defeated as we approach the second coming of Christ. The act of doing this each Sunday causes us to slow down and remember the miracle of Christ.

Every year, Christmas seems to become more stressful and busy than the last. With so many gifts to buy, parties to attend, checklists to accomplish, we feel overwhelmed and often times wish the holiday season was behind us. We know ‘the reason for the season’ and set out our Nativity set, yet we don’t allow the weight or the gravity of Christ’s birth to fully encompass our hearts.

We string lights on our roofs, hang tinsel in our tree, yet forget that the God who breathed the stars in the sky became a baby. Like a star beaming through the galaxy, He came earth side in a little stable. While He held planets in the palm of His hands, He became a baby who needed warmth and comfort from the very world He created. It is the most magnificent story we could ever dream of. And it was all part of God’s plan before the beginning of time.

Before we could ever dream up eternity or even tomorrow, God had a radical rescue plan for our salvation. And it didn’t start with a magnificent King in a palace with trumpets, but a baby with hay, sheep, and cows. This God of the cosmos stepped down to BE with us. And yet if we don’t take the time to stop this Christmas season, we will have missed it.

We will come to Christmas morning with neatly wrapped packages under a tree waiting to be opened, with anticipation of good gifts. Yet we will have missed the greatest gift ever given.

You see, the Christmas story starts with a tree. There are many trees woven throughout the story, but we tend to overlook them all and go straight to our tree we adorn with ornaments and tinsel. If we aren’t careful, we will decorate the tree in our home and leave the tree in our hearts barren and branches broken.

This Advent season, prepare your heart for the arrival of Christ. He is the miracle of this season. He is the twinkling lights, beautiful bows, the garland on the mantle, the best gift. He too, gave us a gift under a tree. Christ suffered a death so that you and I could unwrap the gift of salvation. At the foot of the cross we find redemption, a gift bought with His own life. The best part of the Christmas season is that we all have the chance to unwrap this gift. A gift bought with a heavy price, yet so freely given.

Is the manger of your heart prepared for Christ this Advent season? Do you see Him in the magic of this time? Have you stopped to listen to the bells ring, smell the evergreen, feel the icy wind and KNOW that is Jesus calling you to Him? No gift we wrap, no song we sing, no time we spend, can ever compare to the Christmas story God wrote for us thousands of years ago.

‘There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord….In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples-of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious.” 

Isaiah 11:1, 10

Jesus is our new life, ladder back to God, banner of salvation, morning star, and greatest gift. 

The Manger of My Heart

This Advent, Lord, come to the manger of my heart.
Fill me with Your presence from the very start.
As I prepare for the holidays and gifts to be given,
Remind me of the gift You gave when You sent your Son from Heaven.
The first Christmas gift, if was the greatest gift ever……

This Christmas, Jesus, come to the manger of my heart.
Invade my soul like Bethlehem, bringing peace to every part.
Dwell within and around me, as I unwrap Your presence each day.
Keep me close to You Lord. It’s in Your wonderful name I pray.

-Renee Swope

If you want to come closer to Him this Christmas season, I encourage you to read ‘The Greatest Gift’ by Ann Voskamp. You can purchase it here.

Slow Down

For this month’s Cup of Coffee post, I’m talking about slowing down. In a culture where everything is instant and our to-do lists are endless, I challenge you to take some time each week to do something for yourself. Slowing down is necessary for our hearts and minds to be fully functioning.

Hello friends! It’s been a while since I have done a ‘cup of coffee’ post, and I apologize! Summer got away from me this year and the heat got to me. It is HOT in Texas. Now that fall is around the corner, I can sense structure coming back to our schedules and this makes me so glad. I know that the end of summer can be a relief for many because school starts again, but for teachers it is just the beginning of madness. I think for everyone, however, a shift in seasons is always welcome. So whether this month has meant chaos or order to you, I hope today’s post will speak to you and encourage you.

As I’m writing this, I just put Josie down for a nap, so the entire house is quiet. This is my only, small amount of time each day to myself. Most days I take advantage of naptime to do something like mop the floors or fold laundry (something that is more difficult when she is awake). But over the past few weeks I’ve realized that’s all I seem to do lately. I haven’t really done anything I want to do. So today I’m choosing to ignore my sticky kitchen floors and open up this journal to write. And can I tell you that it feels so nice to just stop and do something I enjoy. Why have I let days or even weeks go by without giving myself this small gift? I have been so concerned with keeping everything around me going that I have neglected myself. The price I’ve paid for it is weariness and a little frustration. And those around me deserve the best me, so in order to give them that I need to give myself something.

So,  this leads me to my question. When is the last time you slowed down to enjoy something specific to you? As a SAHM, some may argue that my whole day is slow. And maybe to an extent that is true. I’m on no-one’s schedule but my own. However, with a toddler I would argue that nothing works slowly around here. Every mom, whether working or staying home, is doing the best she can. When we start to compare it becomes sticky business. Every mom deserves me time and time to do something that is important to her. But slowing down doesn’t just apply to moms. Maybe you are married and you and your spouse’s lives are so busy right now you barely see each other. Maybe you aren’t married but you’re so preoccupied on building your future you’re neglecting the present. Whatever season you find yourself in, remind yourself that even Jesus rested and pointed out the importance of it.

I challenge you this week to step away from your phone and your schedule and find a time to slow down for you. This time can look different for different people. But the commonality between us is that we are our best self when we gift ourselves with rest. It isn’t selfish to take a mental break.

Ideas to help you slow down:

  • Take a hot bath
  • Go for a long walk
  • Eat dinner with your spouse with no phone/tv
  • Wake up a little early for a devotional
  • Stay up a little late to read that new book
  • Take a stroll through your favorite store
  • Say ‘no’ to one night of plans and stay in
  • Give yourself grace! You can’t do it all
  • Listen to a podcast

Friends, I hope you can find rest this week. We all lead very different, very busy lives. The truth is, we will always have someone or something demanding our attention. It is up to us to know our limits, be able to say no, and give ourselves healthy doses of rest. Maybe it isn’t realistic for you to be able to even enjoy a walk in the evening; instead pray for restful sleep. I believe that God wants each and every one of us to feel rested. No one can do it all. Give yourself grace today and re-write that to-do list for something more realistic.

 

My Summer To-Do List

If you’re like me, then you have a to-do list stashed in the back of a notebook or drawer of things you need to do but never get around to. I’m not talking about taking out the trash, but tasks that seem more like projects. These are the kinds of things we think, I want to do this but it will take a significant amount of my time. Well friend, summer is the perfect time to do just that! So here is list of some of those tasks I have on my own list. Hopefully this will inspire you to check some of these off your list, or even create your own!

  1. Clean out those closets! And drawers, and anything else that takes up unnecessary space…We all have that one drawer, that one closet that we just pile and jam things into. Now is the time to clean it out! I’m literally walking around the house with a giant trashcan; if it’s broken or I have no idea what it is, I’m tossing it! A lot of us got caught up in the Kon Marie Method, but that isn’t what I’m doing here. A screw driver does not *spark joy for me, but I still need it easily accessible. For now, I’m talking about those bathroom cabinets that has lotion from years ago stashed in the back. It’s time to toss it friend!
  2. Get rid of clothes! I may be the only one who finds joy in pulling everything out of my closet and getting rid of items in bulk, but it is so gratifying to get rid of the excess. If you don’t wear it anymore, and especially if it doesn’t fit, it needs to go.
  3. Print photos and make photo albums! I have a confession; I don’t have one single printed photo since Cody and I got married besides 4 in small frames around the house. ALL of my photos are in my phone(s) and online. And y’all, that is a scary thing! If something were to happen (lets pray it doesn’t) and I could no longer access social media, I would have nothing. So, it is my goal to start printing photos! Obviously I can’t print hundreds off at a time, so I’m going to start with Engagement photos, wedding photos, maternity, etc. to make it not so daunting. If you are like me, which lets be honest you probably aren’t, then you need to print photos pronto!
  4. File paperwork! This one is making me cringe. Cody and I have papers all around our house, and the clutter drives me crazy. When we get our mail I automatically sort what is trash, needs to be taken care of right now, and anything that is important. But, what actually happens to those papers that we need to keep? They end up on our dining room table, on the living room side table, and everywhere else. I can’t stand the papers! We don’t have a desk in our house (something else that drives me crazy) so I’m looking at different filing systems that can work for us. This is going to be an extremely tedious task but it HAS to be done. Sorting papers, here I come!
  5. Clean out flowerbeds/backyard! I normally wouldn’t do this in the summer due to snakes and the heat, but I have put it off, and put it off and now I just can’t stand it anymore. Our flowerbeds around our house are out of control. To be honest I’m not even sure what kind of plants/weeds are growing in them, but they are not appealing to look at and lets be honest, a great place for snakes to hide! I’ve recently re-done our back porch and I’m trying (ever so slowly) to make our outside a space we love! I look at our flowerbeds and feel like it is such a daunting task, but I’m going to tackle it in pieces. I know the end result will make it all so worth it.

Alright friends, if I accomplish all of these this summer, then I will certainly be busy! It is so easy to put off tasks like this, but before we know it, another year has gone by and we still haven’t accomplished it. I am so bad about doing this, and I’ve made it a personal goal (especially now that I’m a SAHM) to be more proactive, keep busy, and take care of things when they need to be! I value our home, and I’m realizing that taking care of it is more than just keeping what is seen look good; what is behind those closet doors matter too!

Is there something on your summer to-do list that is equally important? Let me know in the comment section!

2019 Pool Side Reads

I am so excited for summer to be here; that means days at the pool soaking up the sun and taking the time to do things you really want. I know for many teachers this is a great time to read something that we actually want to, rather than what is required. I’ve got some pretty great books lined up for the summer and wanted to share them with you!

  • The Woman In Cabin 10 9781501132957_p0_v5_s550x406

It wouldn’t be a summer read without a thriller right?! This book was so great and kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time. I could hardly put it down. A must read for sure and I will definitely be reading more of Ruth Ware’s books in the future.

 

 

  • Wh9780735219090_p0_v10_s550x406ere The Crawdads Sing

I’ve barely started this book but it’s already an emotional ride. It’s been on the Top 100 Book list for quite some time so I decided to give it a try. It seems like it will be a story of hope after abandonment, and a good summer read for those slow days.

 

 

 

  • The 9780062678423_p0_v3_s550x406Woman In The Window

I have not read this one yet, but I can’t wait to get my hands on it. As I said earlier, I love suspense/thriller books, and this one has been on the NYT Bestseller list for a while. I have a feeling it’s going to be a good one!

 

 

 

  • 9780830846191_p0_v2_s550x406The Road Back to You

I am excited about this read as it covers the Enneagram! I want to be constantly learning, and I have a feeling this book is going to be a great resource for personal growth.

 

 

 

  • 9781250164223_p0_v1_s550x406Keeping Lucy

You can pre-order this book today, which is going to be an inspiring yet sad true story. I have a feeling this is going to be one of those books that stays with us for a long time.

 

 

 

  • 9780062840066_p0_v3_s550x406

The Islanders

You can pre-order this book today, and should. Three people, one island, romance and mystery. It sounds like the perfect summer read to me.

 

 

 

  • 9780735291492_p0_v5_s550x406Own Your Everyday

If you’re looking for a non-fiction book to read this summer, this is a great pick. Jordan packs her book with practical tips of how we can overcome comparison, the pressure to prove our worth, and do what we were called to do. A great book to add to your list!

 

 

This may not seem like very many books, but lets be honest, I will be doing great if I can read these over the course of the summer. I hope you’ll read some of these books with me, or if you have your own suggestions, let me know in the comments. I would love to hear what you’re reading as well!

Being Intentional

 For this month’s Cup of Coffee post, I’m discussing being intentional. Lately I have felt convicted of my lack of intentionality with friends. I hope you’ll enjoy this read and feel inspired to make that phone call, send that card, or even stop by a friend’s. You can read last month’s Cup of Coffee post here.

When is the last time you said, “I’m just so busy?” Was it yesterday, or today even? When is the last time you had a meaningful conversation or spent time feeling well rested? We are all so busy leading our lives that we get lost in our own to do list, much less see anyone else’s. I know that I get so caught up in our day to day life that it is so easy to let days go by without checking on a friend. And lately I have felt so convicted over that. I was listening to a podcast about social media and spirituality, and it was so eye opening. With endless social media apps at our finger tips, we can share every detail of our lives. It’s a wonderful tool, when it is used the right way. I know I use social media to stay updated on friends and families lives that I don’t see that often. And for that reason, I am super thankful for these little icons on my phone. On the other hand, however, it keeps us all locked in online, but not present in person.

It is so easy to comment on a post ‘praying‘ or ‘thinking of you,’ without ever really doing the two. We consider reading someone’s facebook post ‘catching up’ with them, even though we only read surface level information. I am so guilty of this, and I so want it to change. I want to use social media, yes, but for good. I don’t want to use it as a replacement for conversations.

So, how can we be intentional? There are days where we are lucky if we have time to log into social media to read that post, so how can we ever meet face-to-face or pick up the phone? It’s going to take some sacrifice and may even inconvenience you. You may think of all the other things you need to be doing, and you may have to say no to something else. In fact, it can be something that we may go into dreading. That sounds terrible doesn’t it? But the reality is, that we have gotten so hung up on what is easy for us, that we have a hard time doing anything that may upset our schedule. Invite so and so over for dinner? Then I’ll have to make an extra stop to the grocery store, they’ll probably stay late and mess up our nightly routine, and I’ll have to do some extra cleaning. Guess what?! OH WELL. How important is this relationship in your life? How much could you benefit from some one-on-one interaction with this person? When we get past the busy-ness we set ourselves up for, and actually begin to see being intentional as a blessing, then it isn’t so daunting. You may be reading this and thinking, I have no problem having friends over or meeting up with a girlfriend! If that’s true, then I am so happy for you. Pray for the rest of us.

What does being intentional even mean? I looked up the definition of Intentional and here is the result: done with intention or purpose, designed or planned. That means I’m investing in my friendships on purpose! I am seeking ways, planning ways, designing ways, to go out of my way for that friend.

Here is a short list of ways that we can be intentional with those around us, who matter most to us, right now!

  1. Go beyond a text message or a phone call. Send them a card in the mail. I promise it is 100% more effective to receive something in the mail than to get a phone notification. Something about a hand-written note just makes you feel good inside.
  2. Bring that someone a small gift. It may be a co-worker, a friend you see regularly, or someone at church. Is there something you know they like, specific to them? Maybe you could bring them a cup of coffee when you get to work, buy them a book they have been wanting to read, or even get them a $5 gift card to Sonic. Happy Hour drinks anyone? It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture to show that you care. They’ll be surprised and excited by your caring heart.
  3. Host them for dinner or a game night. For me, this is my go-to. I love having people over for dinner (although since we’ve moved that has been a little harder to do). While I’m not a great cook, I know that a home cooked meal is a gift of love. If cooking an entire meal is too daunting for you, consider take out! Instead of going out to eat, you can have take out and sit on the living room floor. Mixing it up is fun! Some of you are still thinking about the dishes that will need to be cleaned after, so consider a game night instead! For me, this would be an act of sacrificial love. I hate games (oops!) so if I’m going to play a game with you then you know it’s real. However, I know another couple who thrive off of games, and this would be their jam.
  4. Pray for them. This person may not ever know that you’ve got them down on your prayer list. That’s ok. But you are spending time every day loving them in the absolute best way- going to God on their behalf and asking Him to bless them, or for a specific need in their life. God will do more for them than we ever wish that we could!
  5. Be present. This may be the hardest one on my list to accomplish! When you are with that person, lets be fully present. What does that mean? Put the phone down! Fully listen to them. Look them in the eye. Hear their heart. Every time I’m with friends at some point I look up and we are all on our phones, head down. Yay, we haven’t seen each other in six months, so lets spend this precious time together on our phones. *I’m rolling my eyes right now just thinking about it. No! Spend time being present and not being distracted.
  6. Love Languages matter. This could easily coincide with bringing them a small gift or writing a card, but learning someone’s love language is the best way to speak to their heart. So what are the love languages? Physical Touch/ Words of Affirmation/ Quality Time/ Gift Giving/ Acts of Service. There are SO many ways to be intentional with a friend once you know what speaks to them the most. If your friend is Acts of Service, consider doing a small errand for them this week. You may never know how helpful that could be.
  7. Let them know how much they matter. No matter how you choose to be intentional with a relationship in your life, the ultimate goal is to let that person know how much they mean to you. That even in this busy season of life, they are important to you and worth sacrificing for. Everyone is different, and only you know the best way you can show them that.

I hope that this post inspires you to reconnect with a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while, or to go a little out of your way for those around you this week. As Christians, we are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus. When we become so consumed in our own lives, we are neglecting to show Christ’s love to those around us.

“Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3:18

God knew that talk is cheap, and easy. The real test of friendship or character is in our doing. Thank you for sharing coffee with me and reflecting on what intentionality is in our lives!

xoxo Evin 

 

Mother’s Day Gift Guide

How can it already be the month of May?! It feels like we just celebrated Christmas and here we are, almost to the middle of the next year. Time is flying by and because of that, each holiday just sneaks up on us. Mother’s Day is May 12th, or if you need to put it in perspective, NEXT weekend. If you still haven’t gotten a gift for your mother, or any mom in your life, I know it can be stressful last minute shopping, so here is a short list of some of my favorite things! Hopefully it can help you gift shop this month for that special mom in your life.

  1. Pajamas! I think everyone loves getting pajamas (not just at Christmas), and Kirklands and Target always have the cutest, and softest jammies!
  2. Coffee! I think all moms will say yes! to more coffee. With flavors like ‘Messy Bun,‘ you’ll be speaking her language when you shop from Coffee Over Cardio. 
  3. Jewelry! I’m loving the simplicity of the jewelry from Golden Thread and Made By Mary; perfect for mamas! While some of their line is luxe, you can find pieces within your budget.
  4. Books! Why not get the mom in your life a book that speaks directly to her heart? This is a great new find!
  5. Gift Cards! If you’re totally stuck but know where your mom loves to shop, you can’t go wrong with a gift card!
  6. Candles! I am a candle hoarder! And no candle has better quality than this brand. They smell amazing and last forever.
  7. Mrs. Meyers! Don’t worry, your mom won’t be mad you’re gifting her with cleaning supplies if it is Mrs. Meyers! Her line of products smell amazing. Gift these in a cute galvanized tub and you couldn’t go wrong.
  8. Rain Boots! If your mom doesn’t have a good pair of rubber boots, get her some! My favorite brands are Muck Boot and Joules; they have the cutest spring designs right now. Perfect for working in the garden or the rainy day.
  9. Qalo Rings! If you haven’t invested in a set of these rings, you definitely need to. It is convenient if you’re going somewhere or doing something that you don’t want to wear your actual wedding rings for. Eva Shockey just released her line with Qalo, and your mom will want them all!
  10. Daily Grace Bible Study! Last but not least, I LOVE everything that Daily Grace Co has. Whether you mom is looking for a new journaling Bible, prayer journal, Bible study, or coffee mugs, this company has you covered.

I hope this short list gave you some great shopping ideas for your mom. In the end, Mother’s Day isn’t about the gifts, it is about celebrating all that moms do for us. Whether your gift is packaged in the prettiest paper or something homemade, if it is from the heart she will love it.

Happy Mother’s Day everyone!

xoxo Evin 

Links to a few of the shopping items listed above:

Messy Bun Coffee

Mrs. Meyers Clean Days

Muck Boot Garden Shoes

Candles

Jewelry

Eva Shockey Qalo Ring

Daily Grace Bibles

 

 

 

Turn Out the Light

It’s late night when I’m rocking Josie to sleep or mindlessly scrolling through my phone riding in the car, while watching tv, before bed…that I feel this unnecessary weight on my shoulders. I have subconsciously compared myself and what I have to everyone on my feed. Their perfectly posed photos compared to my messy day. What they’ve shared of their surface level life compared to my real life. I know I’ve silently judged myself but yet I sit and keep scrolling. I finally decide to physically put my phone down. I close my eyes and just say God, this is what you’ve given me. This is where I am. And it’s good enough for me.

At night, it is so easy to let the last thing we see or read be someone else’s good or bad day. But I’m choosing to let the last thing I read be scripture. I have to admit it is tempting to check the social one more time before I turn it off. Did I miss something? Did someone leave me a comment? It can become addictive, and for that I’m trying to discipline myself out of the habit of looking at my phone.

This need to be plugged in to everyone is sucking the life out of me. But God is quietly begging me to plug into Him because He has all the life to give. 

He desires me to live my life in abundance, not comparison. In thankfulness, not envy. He promises to be the well I can drink from and never thirst again! When I am constantly scrolling through social media I am continuously feeding my head and heart information that isn’t valuable or truth for me. I was curious to see how many people I was following on social media, so I went to all my icons and added up the total under following. One thousand, seven hundred and ninety six people. That is the number of people I am letting speak to me every day about their own life, which I ultimately compare against mine. Nearly two thousand people! When you put it into perspective, it seems a little ridiculous.

Is social media evil? No. In fact it has brought me some of my closest friends! But we all have moments, or seasons, where we let it begin to run our lives. So what can we do when we feel like these little icons on our screen are causing stress in our lives? Unfollow people. Maybe they aren’t bad people! But they’re causing you to look at their life and feel less than about yours. You don’t have their experiences, opportunities, or strengths. You only have yours. And we cannot compare our journey with someone’s that we haven’t even met. Take a break. Log out, log off, and tune into Jesus. Sometimes we just need to put our phones down and live our life enjoying what is right in front of us, instead of what is on a screen. Spend time in the Word. His words are the only words I need. I could read hundreds of self-help blogs, search hashtags, or spend a day creating the perfect tag line. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t line up with the Gospel.

Maybe you also feel discouraged by social media right now. The chances are, we are letting it dictate our emotions and we need to take back control. Consider doing what I do; reading scripture before bed instead of scrolling through our feed. You could even switch it up and read scripture right as you wake up in the morning, instead of checking notifications. It could be, God is sending you more red exclamations to check than any other media outlet. I certainly want to check in with God more than I do my followers.

If you feel weighed down by social media, then check out the Daily Grace Podcast! Episode 12, Social Media & The Gospel is a great resource to help you take back your social media usage!

 

Sunday Is Coming!

It seems like every year the holidays roll around faster than last. As someone who loves to decorate and enjoy every holiday to the fullest, I feel like I am constantly playing catch up with the calendar! So it didn’t come as a surprise when I realized that it is nearly Easter and I haven’t prepared for it at all. Easter is by far my favorite holiday. I love it for a hundred different reasons, be it the spring season and pastel colors down to the very reason we celebrate Easter. Not only have we stepped into the spring season but we are reminded of our salvation and the heavy price that Christ paid for us. So, with Easter being less than a week away, I am doing what I can to prepare my heart to feel the full weight of what this holiday symbolizes. Here is a short list of ways that I’m asking God to help prepare my heart for this coming Sunday. Will you do the same?

“Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.” Ephesians 3:17-18

Ask God to help me understand Jesus’ sacrifice. It is almost impossible for us to wrap our minds around the sacrifice that Christ made for us, and what it truly means. There are so many things we will never understand while here on Earth, but yet we try our hardest. Each Easter I try to reflect on what Christ went through, what it means for me, and how thankful I am. It isn’t easy to do, and often times we want to skip over the hard parts of the Bible. But, this Easter, lets reflect and let our hearts feel the weight of Jesus’ sacrifice. The end of the story is beautiful, but the whole story needs to be shared.

Spend time outdoors. Spring is a magical time of year and I love to be outside! Between the flowers blooming, greening of the grass, baby animals being born and birds chirping, how can you not go outside and smile? God created the world to be a beautiful place for us to enjoy! This Easter get outside and thank God for all that He has created for us. He created everything to sing His praises; just a short walk outside and you can see that.

Let everything that breathes sing praises to the Lord! Psalm 150:6

Spend time in the Word. The Scriptures all point to Christ coming to be our ultimate sacrifice. It would be such a disservice to only open your Bible this Easter on Sunday morning. To truly prepare our hearts for this, we must be reading the Word for ourselves and asking God to help us understand the Scriptures. I came across a wonderful reference that I want to share with you. Hawk and Her has beautifully put together an Easter reading plan that allows us to read through the Word leading  up to Jesus’ death and resurrection. You can read and print it off here.

Celebrate the holiday in our own way but through the eyes of Jesus. There is nothing wrong with Easter traditions such as dying eggs, Easter egg hunts and reading about the Easter bunny. These traditions make celebrating the holiday fun and I believe we should embrace the season for all that it is!

Invite someone to church on Easter. This is always easier said than done, but this Easter lets invite someone to church with us! It may be a little uncomfortable, but how can we keep this good news to ourselves?!

“With his own blood-not the blood of goats and calves- he entered the Most Holy place once for all time and secured our redemption forever.” Hebrews 9:12

Why Church Is So Important

Recently I conducted a poll on my Instagram asking my followers if they attended church, and why or why not. Out of 79 votes, 56 said yes while 23 voted they did not attend. Overall, I was glad to see that the majority of people voted that they do attend a church! I asked the question because writing this post has been on my heart for some time. The hard part, however, is writing it so that people can see my heart through my words and not read it in a condescending or judgmental tone. Because this post is definitely not meant to judge others, but to raise questions in our own life, and even nudge you to find a church after this.

Growing up, church was just something we did. It wasn’t questionable on Sunday mornings, evenings, and Wednesday night that we would do anything else. I just knew that Sunday morning we would wake up and go to church. I have been grateful in that I have attended the same church throughout my entire life. I have been through so much transition in the church and even seen a hurtful side of it. Furthermore, I attended a Bible college and took many classes in Biblical Studies. As students, we had to attend chapel everyday and were still required to attend a church on Sunday. That was actually a fun time for me because I was able to ‘church hop’ and find a church that I chose on my own. Bottom line, I have attended a lot of church in various settings. I don’t say that and feel that I’m any better than you or that it makes me a better Christian. I say that only to point out that attending church became a discipline in my life and because of that, it is a natural part of my life, and my week.

So how can we take on the discipline of attending church faithfully if it isn’t something we are used to? What is the point of going to church at all? Does not going to church disqualify my salvation? I want to look at all of those questions and hopefully answer them for you.

The first thought I want to look at is how we can implement church into our lives if we don’t already. You may be saying, I would like to attend a church but I always find myself preoccupied on Sundays with something else, and it is hard for me set aside the time and commit to going. Friend, can I tell you that is something we all struggle with? Do you know how many Sunday’s I think it would just be easier to sleep in? Between having to drive 45 minutes in to town and getting a baby ready, attending church for me these days isn’t a piece of cake. But can I tell you that even when I don’t want to, that’s probably when I need it the most. I don’t attend church because it is a command, I attend because I enjoy it. Having found a church that I am part of, the congregation is my church family. I need to worship God in an open setting, and I need to hear His word. If you are trying to find a church to attend, pray about it. Truly ask God to guide you in finding a church that not only speaks the truth but that allows for the Spirit to move. Church shouldn’t be a check mark on our to-do list; it should be something we desire to do. No one said you had to jump in with both feet and volunteer to help the children’s pastor, but just show up. Even on the days you don’t want to. Even on the days you have a full schedule. (If you know that you’re going to have a busy weekend, set yourself up for success and plan ahead of time to commit to church on Sunday morning. If you already have it in your schedule, you’re more likely to stick to going!)

Here is what I always remind myself when I’m tempted to skip; Jesus literally gave us His ALL, the least I can do is give up one hour of my week for Him. One hour guys, you can do it. 

So, what is the point of going to church? Why not just watch preachers on tv or sit at home on Sunday and read the Bible in our pajamas? (Both of which are great things to do!) Why do I need to actually get dressed and go to a church house? Isn’t God with me at all times? Well, yes He is. But consider the scripture in Hebrews 10:24-25, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” We are encouraged right there in scripture, not to neglect the coming together. I don’t know about you, but after I leave church I feel uplifted and encouraged! Much more so than when I’m reading the Bible at home by myself. Here is a thought provoking question for you: Are you truly reading the Bible during the week, waking up on Sunday and studying Scripture if you don’t attend church? I would assume the answer boils down to no. No matter our intentions, it is downright hard to discipline ourselves in studying the Word at home. Even more so, I don’t know everything there is to know! I gain so very much by listening to a Pastor who was prayerfully placed over me.

If we who call ourselves Christians cannot attend church, then how can we ever expect non-Christians to show up?

For me, attending church is part of my testimony. If I am trying to be the light and an example to non-Christians, I want them to see that I am dedicated to my faith. How can I invite someone to church if I’m not attending myself?

To sum it up, church is not the end-all or a pre-requisite for salvation. However, I truly believe that God intended for us to find community within church and to learn more about Him under a Pastor. If you aren’t attending church because you have been hurt by the church or because someone else attends that you don’t like, then friend, check your heart. I don’t attend my church because I think we are the only ones making heaven. In fact, I don’t even attend because of who the pastor is or the worship team, or anyone else for that matter. We should attend church solely for the purpose of serving God, praising Him, and following His commands. No person is perfect, and if we are lifting up a Pastor or praise team on a pedestal then we are missing the point. We are all imperfect people seeking a perfect God.

Yes, I can and need to study the Word at home during the week. We cannot expect to grow in our faith if we are only reading our Bibles on Sunday. But if we are not even reading on Sundays, then I fear our spiritual growth is at a stand-still.

Did you know that if you can commit to do something for thirty days it becomes a habit? Thirty days is one month, only 4 Sundays. I challenge you in the new month to commit to going to church every Sunday. See how you feel at the end of the month. I would assume that on the fifth Sunday it will be much easier to get out of bed and head to church. I would also assume that you would begin to anticipate Sunday and hearing the Word! If attending church by yourself seems intimidating, reach out to a friend to go with you! Hopefully you will find a church full of loving members who will make you feel at home when you attend. Furthermore, I hope you can find a church where you are being fed Gospel Truth and are eager to return!

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