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.

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 

 

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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Book Review: Girl, Wash Your Face

Alright you guys, I was late to jump on this band wagon, but I’m glad I did. If you want to know the truth, I was avoiding reading the book a little. I knew it was about setting goals and chasing dreams, and I didn’t really want to do that. I also saw everyone posting about how great the book was and I didn’t want to follow the crowd. But, I finally decided to give in and download the book on my Kindle. I’m so glad, because this book was definitely the kick in the booty I needed.

I read this book in a day. One day. Granted, since I stay home I do have the time to read, but it was so good that I just kept reading. I also highlighted and wrote almost everything she said in my journal. Circled it. Starred it. Pointed arrows to the really important things. I think you get the point. I really needed to read this book.

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In the book, she encourages us to stop and look at the things we have accomplished in life. The achievements that have made me who I am, that was all me. I went to college and got my Bachelors degree in three years. I was unhappy at my job so I quit. I stepped out in faith and got my Teacher’s certification, all online, all while teaching at the same time. That was hard and scary but I did it. I got married. I moved. I changed jobs again. I had a baby. I got an epidural. Me, who is scared to death of needles and hates blood had my blood drawn time and time again and was poked and prodded, and I brought a life into this world. I think that’s pretty awesome. And even if I don’t accomplish anything else in this life; if all I do from here on out is sweep the floor and meal plan, then I think I’ve already accomplished some pretty cool things.

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And while all of that is great, I still have a desire, a dream, a goal, to write. And this blog is just the beginning. Let me tell you, even starting this has been no small feat. I am terrible at web design (as you can obviously see), and yesterday I only had two, TWO page views, so I’m not exactly knocking this out of the park. But it is baby steps. It is a start. And I’m making it a goal to NOT break this promise to myself.

“You need to set a goal for yourself and then work your butt off to get there. You need to prove to yourself that you are capable of anything you set your mind to.”

In one part of the book, Rachel tells us that in order to achieve our goals, we have to name them. Say them out loud! Write them down! Don’t cover them up, make them known. It reminded me of a conversation I had last month with a close friend. We spent the whole morning talking about what could be, what we wished was, or what we truly desired. Then I said it out loud, a small goal of mine, and after I said it we both laughed. It seemed so silly, so trivial, once it was said out loud. But it was true! What was that small goal? That I want to make pretty pies. I don’t want to own a bakery or compete on Food Network, although I think those people are pretty awesome, and I don’t even want to sell pies to you. I just want to make pies and people think that they are pretty. My MIL got me pie tools for Christmas and I was so excited! Yes, I can finally make pretty crusts and cut out pretty flowers and leaves, etc. But guess what? Nobody will ever say that I make pretty pies if I don’t get in the kitchen and start making them. I don’t really know why I like baking, or why making pies is fun for me. But it is. And if I can keep this one small goal alive then I can move on to the next, bigger goal for myself.

“Do you stop yourself from daring to try something new because you’re already positive you’ll fail?”

If you are like me and have something hidden in your heart that you want, even if it seems outlandish, far off, ridiculous, unreachable, you need to read this book. No, it isn’t Gospel, but it is definitely motivating and eye-opening. Throughout the book Rachel continues to talk about stopping negative self-talk. We are our own worst critic! And it resonates so much with me. Last year, I was so hesitant to start a blog. I had no idea how to do it and I was certain no one would read it, which according to my stats, no one really is. But that’s ok! Because I’m doing this for me. All those words floating around in my head have a place to land. I had to stop listening to my own self doubts and just go for it! I have learned a lot along the way and I’ve had fun doing it. Maybe this blog is just another domain taking up space on the internet, or maybe God gave me this desire because He has big plans for it! I believe that. I believe that God cares about my heart and the desires of it. I believe that God cares about the words I write and who reads them. And I believe that sometimes God will even give me the words to write.
Girl wash your face

To sum it up, Rachel tells us that nobody will ever care about our dream as much as we do. It is up to us to chase after them. Sure, we have those who support us along the way. But no one is up with me at 3 am scribbling in my notebook. It’s just me. And that is why I have to keep finding ways to make this work. I hope you can read this book and feel as much fire under you as I did. And I hope you’ll shout your dreams into existence with me.

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A Note on Authenticity

Every month I’ll be sharing ‘A Cup of Coffee’ with you and reflecting on something I read that is profound to me or resonated with me. It will be short ideas shared on the premise that you and I were sitting and sharing a cup of coffee. I hope you’ll join me each month!

If we were having coffee right now, I would share with you my thoughts on ‘authenticity.’ I just picked up the new Magnolia Journal, and of course, Jo’s words inspired me. The theme throughout the spring issue is being authentic. I think it is a word we should let roll around our hearts and minds. In this social media, image crazed society we live in, how easy is it to get caught up in comparison? I found myself guilty of it not long ago and it really bothered me. You see, online we can be any version of our ourselves we want to be. We can appear to have it altogether and be happy when we truly aren’t. The biggest social media platform I use is Instagram. I feel blessed to have the followers I do have, people who are interested in my life. But the reality is, the number of followers I have does not define me. Who they think I am may not be who I think I am. Because of this, I think it is so important to take a step back from social media. Unplug. I am so guilty of this friends. And now that I have this blog, I constantly worry about what my next post will be. How can I keep my readers happy? Is this photo good enough? I could go on and on with examples of how we ‘perfect’ things for social media, but I”m betting you get the point.

So, if we were having a cup of coffee right now, I would challenge you NOT to take a photo of the coffee and leave your phone on silent. I challenge you to be authentic this week! People get tired of seeing perfect, because it does not exist. If you want to get real with people, let them see a glimpse of your life without a filter.

Lets live in the moment. Yes, lets share our lives, but the messy parts too. Lets be authentic, its the best version of you.

“Many of us genuinely benefit from the beauty and inspiration that lives on social media…what it shouldn’t be is a means to measure our worth or compare our lot in life with anothers.” Joanna Gaines

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  • How can you be authentic this week?
  • Is there a messy side of life you need to share with a friend?
  • What keeps you from being your authentic self?

Always More

We are at the end of January and by now most people have forgotten about their New Year Resolutions and goals they’ve set. For the few of you who are still sticking to their resolution and making changes, congratulations! It seems that no matter how genuine we can be, life gets in the way and we tend to settle back into what is most comfortable. While I don’t typically make a resolution for myself, I have made it a goal of mine to give more of myself this year.

Before I list all the ways I’m hoping to give more, I want to reflect on the thought of ‘more.’ Isn’t it true that in life we are always searching for more? Maybe it is rest if you’re a mom, patience, money, time, quietness, etc. I think we could all think of one thing we wish we had more of. And if you wear a lot of hats or are a lot of things to a lot of people, aren’t you always being demanded to give more of yourself? Do you ever feel like just you is not enough? Sometimes you may be tempted to throw up your hands and say, “I have no more to give!” The truth is, you aren’t alone if you feel that way.

But what would happen if we took the negative out of ‘always more?’ Instead of being stretched thin and searching for the next best thing, what if we looked to Jesus to be ‘always more’ to us?

When I feel like I am at the end of who I am, there is always infinitely more in Jesus.

He is a never-ending well who wants to refresh us. When we are being pulled in a million different directions by life, we can always find what we need in Him. He is our rest, our peace, our life-giver. I can always find a little bit more inside me to give because I know where my strength comes from. We can never do it on our own. Life will take it all out of us. But in Jesus there is Always More.

When I am filled with HIs love and grace, I find there is always more joy to share with those around me, always more love to show my family, always more. In Jesus I have abundance.

Ephesians 3:20 says, “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be the glory.”

Infinitely MORE. But lets look at the verse right before it, verse 18. How wide, how long, how high, how deep his love is. That is the love we are operating out of. A never-ending love offered freely to you and I. The next time you feel like you have nothing left, stop and remember that with Christ there is always more. He meets our every need. The next time you feel the need to have ‘more’ in your life to be filled, be reminded that in Christ we already have all we need. The next time you feel like stopping at ‘good enough,’ choose to give a little more.

To read what others think about ‘Always More’ follow Audrey Roloff here at her blog, or shop Always More here. You can check out all her merchandise online and join the Always More movement.

Top 10 Playlist

I don’t know about you but I LOVE listening to music. Whether I’m in the car, cleaning house, or in the nursery with Josie, I have to have some sort of music playing. I don’t pay for Sirius XM and we hardly have any good radio stations in our area so I have Spotify Premium on my phone. It is so handy because I can plug my phone into speakers at the house or my aux cord in the car and listen to whatever I want without needing wifi. Lifesaver!

I tend to find 3 to 5 new songs at a time that I become obsessed with. I will listen to them over and over and then a few weeks later find new songs to sing. Sometimes, however, I never get tired of a song and below is a list of just those-my favorite worship songs!

  1. It Is Well by Kristene Dimarco and Bethel Music
  2. Call on Jesus by Nicole C. Mullen
  3. My Story by Big Daddy Weave
  4. Defender by Francesca Battistelli
  5. Blessed Assurance by Elevation Worship
  6. My Hallelujah by Bryan & Katie Torwalt
  7. Faithful by Sarah Reeves
  8. Stand in Your Love by Bethel Music and Josh Baldwin
  9. What A Beautiful Name by Hillsong Worship
  10. Because He Lives by David Crowder Band

If you didn’t notice, a few of those songs were old hymns that artists re-wrote. I grew up singing songs out of a red hymnal, and I think those songs will always resonate the most with me. Of course, we don’t have to listen to our favorite song to find reasons to worship, but sometimes when a certain song comes on, you just feel it. I hope you can add these songs to your playlist or give me some of your own to add to mine!

“Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.” Psalm 95:1 

Being a Homemaker- Have Faith

“Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.” Hebrews 10:23

When I made the decision to stay home with Josie, it took a lot of faith on my part. I struggled with so many emotions and felt guilt over my decision. What would I do all day, how would I justify not bringing home a paycheck, and many more questions. Even though I was excited to have this season at home with my precious girl, I was afraid to step into a new season, an uncharted new area of my life. What I needed was to have faith. I needed to trust God that He was leading me. Maybe you need to have faith for something today. It might not be a life changing decision but something small you are facing. Rest assured knowing God cares. He sees all of our fears and He is working on our behalf. Have faith knowing that God is going to use you to further His glory.

Staying at home at first meant to me that I was giving up so much. But I needed to have faith that God could use me and still wanted great things from my life. Because of that faith I now see that staying home means I can serve my family in a way that God intended me to. When I read Hebrews chapter 10 I am reminded that when some days are hard, God wants me to hold tightly onto Him. He walks with us through each and every season of life, and the times that we seem to have lost all hope, we need to cling tightly to His Word. You see, I don’t know what this new season will be like. I don’t know how God will choose to use me, I just know He will.

If you are like me then you don’t like change. It is scary and difficult to change up the routine of our lives and start something new. It is much easier for things to stay the same and to fall into the rhythm of everyday life. I know that God is working all things in our life for His good, we just have to have faith that one day we will see the fruition of it.

I am so happy to stay home with Josie this year and watch her grow! I am so blessed to be able to do it! I know God will continue to use me whether I am at work in the public, or at work at home. I have faith that even the small tasks of taking care of my family every day are worth it and bringing Him glory. I have faith that we will make it financially with only one income. I have faith that I will see the long-term benefits of extra time with my baby. I have faith that I am loving my family well by working in the home. And, I have faith that God doesn’t count any of that to be of less value than me working outside the home.

“Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.” Romans 5:2