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Jan 24, 2015 HTB Happenings

well, we're at the end of another week, and we're just one week away from february!  that's hard to believe, but to be honest, i'm excited about it, because february always flies and then march will be here, with warmer weather and a whole week of having aj home.  this long-distance while being engaged is no joke, friends.

here's what you might have missed this week on heavens to betsy:

+ i had the weirdest week in terms of sleep and showers!  this whole30 thing has me feeling exhausted (which apparently is normal), so my routine consisted of hitting the gym after work and then coming home, grabbing a quick shower, and taking a nap.  and because afternoon showers meant not wanting to do my hair twice a day, hats became my friend.
+ i got the naptime diaries lent devotional in the mail this week!  excited to dive into it!
+ just a little doodling and hand lettering as i was reading the bible the other night.  there's so much peace in knowing we have victory through jesus!
+ i spent last night with a few friends, but before i headed out, i took a few minutes to catch up on a little reading!

in case you missed it:
+ have you found your purpose for blogging?
+ part three of the love story was up this week!
+ i'm a week into whole30 and feeling's why i'm doing it and what it all means!
+ as usual, i started the week with a grateful list!

don't miss these:
+ emily's post about choosing your friends wisely was so poignant!
+ megan's lessons learned from leading worship are so definitely should read them!
+ laura's antiqued coffee table looks great!
+ mandy recapped her trip to northern england!  england is definitely on my list of places i'd love to go!
+ this pep talk from natalie! 

Jan 22, 2015 Why We Do What We Do

i was reading this post the other day from the blog maven and found these words that just resonated with my soul:
"a lot of blogs were born this year…and a lot of them died.
people showed up every morning, coffee in hand, to battle the blank screen in front of them and write words that would matter.
they brainstormed post ideas, braved the sea of social media, wrote till their fingers bled (proverbially, of course) –
but they listened to all the voices that said they were only worth as much as their page views.
and so they raced and toiled, churning out three posts per week, neglecting their families and their lives, just so they could bow to the almighty page view in hopes that a big brand would want to sponsor them, or so more of their readers would click on ads, and somehow it would all be worth it.
people started with passion for spreading their message, but ended up frustrated and tired."
if i'm being honest with you, i'm looking at 2015 with a sense of already feeling exhausted.  the holiday season is an intensely busy one at work for me and i struggled to keep up with blogging for the past few weeks.  i'm just finally getting back into the groove of things and feel like i'm hitting my stride again.  

the pace of our culture tells us that we constantly have to be churning out new content, because everyone else is and we need to keep up.  and while i love and am proud of having a consistent blogging schedule, 5-6 days each week, i can so easily fall into the trap of feeling like a "bad blogger" when i miss a day or don't have my post ready to go the night before and scheduled to post the next morning. 

does it feel great to see your page views climbing, or to land a few sponsored posts now and then?  sure.  i would love to see this blog create enough of an income someday that i could give it my full-time attention, and that's not going to happen if my stats stop growing. 

but here's the thing:  if we're just blogging for the page views or for the money (because we all know that the money isn't easy to get and is certainly not guaranteed in this profession), then we're missing the point.  and if our blogs ever take precedence over the life right in front of us, then, girls, let's shut. it. down.  

i heard a podcast from last year's influence conference where one of the speakers talked about how what matters isn't our page views.  what matters is how well we love people and what we did to use our influence to further the kingdom of god.  

and if you ever come to my blog and don't leave with a sense of what i'm all about...that my purpose in everything i do should be to glorify god and to shine his light, then i've missed the point.  is every post on this blog a devotion or even mention god?  no.  but i hope that the love of christ reflects in the way i approach every topic and respond to every comment.  i hope that when you come here, you get a sense that you're welcome to come and stay and enter into conversation.  that your opinion and your story is valued and that i really, truly do desire to connect with you.  

i've been doing this blog thing for five and a half years.  this space has changed and morphed and grown a lot in that time, and i've made mistakes and spent a lot of time trying to find my voice and figure out what my online life should look like.  this world isn't always kind and it isn't always easy or supportive.  but if there's anything i've learned about blogging in the past five years, it's that you need to figure out what your purpose is, and then let that dictate everything you write.  and when you feel discouraged because you had a bad month or lost a few followers and you think you might want to quit, then give yourself grace, but remember that purpose.  because whatever it is for you, that purpose is worth so much more than the statistics.

Jan 21, 2015 Our Story // Chorus

if you missed part one or part two of our story, you can check them out here:

when we ended part two, aj and i were in the "we like each other, but aren't dating yet" phase, and valentine's day was looming.  going out to dinner on valentine's day wasn't really an option because of aj's school schedule, so i offered to make him dinner.  i got out of work in the early afternoon and texted his mom to ask what his favorite dish was, and then i hit the store to pick up the ingredients for shrimp pesto pasta.  aj came over when he got done with classes for the day (he was commuting to york college of pennsylvania at the time) and brought some chocolate-covered strawberries with him, which was adorable.  (i later learned that he couldn't decide whether or not to bring flowers and he decided against it because he wasn't sure where we stood.)

we ate dinner and chatted about everything but where we were in terms of our relationship.  when one of us finally broke the ice, it was like a sigh of relief.  we ended up having a very practical conversation where we decided to stop dancing around it and that "we should probably just be dating."  and just like that, our single lives ended forever.

the next day was a wednesday, and our youth group had their midweek services that night.  we were both on staff, so we both had responsibilities that night, but we both were in that "we just started dating" bubble.  i remember getting a text from aj that day that said something like "you know when you have a dream that you don't want to wake up from but then you do and it's not real?  well, this is nothing like that"  and of course, i swooned.  (that boy is good with his words, friends.)

it was evident pretty quickly how well we worked together.  we shared a lot of interests and just clicked.  we took day trips to baltimore (where i desperately wanted him to kiss me in the rain but he didn't), and we spent a lot of time with one another's families.  when aj's family went on vacation at disneyworld in may, i flew down and surprised him for a few days.  by june, we were dancing around saying the l-word.  one night, after aj's sister's graduation party, we went for a walk.  i was leaving on a missions trip to the dominican republic the next morning, and we had been saying that we adored each other for well over a month.  after two laps around the course of our walk, aj finally said the words we were both holding back for so long:  i love you.  to say that it was hard to get on a plane and leave him for two weeks after that would be an understatement, especially when we didn't know if we'd be able to communicate at all when i was gone (we didn't really, except for a few brief moments of texting when i had spotty wifi).  but it was the sweetest homecoming, and we spent that summer pretty much inseparable!

sometime in the next year, aj's sister, his mom, and i started encouraging him to consider applying and transferring to berklee college of music in boston.  he hadn't really applied to any reach schools when he graduated from high school, and my cousin, zac (also amanda's boyfriend) was a freshman there.  after months of auditioning and trips north, aj headed to berklee in the fall of 2013.

we adjusted to our new circumstances in a long distance relationship, and we enjoyed spending time traveling back and forth and discovering our favorite date spots in boston!  but the distance also made us grow more impatient.  in the time that we were dating, we attended about a dozen weddings, which, for a couple who knew by four or five months that they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together, gets tough.  we constantly dreamed about being married and living in the same place, but it still seemed so far away.

and this is where part three ends (and is also the part where you all hate me)'ll have to come back next week to hear part four...the proposal!

Jan 20, 2015 Whole30 // Getting Started

if you follow me on instagram or twitter, or have stopped by this space in the past few days, then you probably know that i started the whole30 cleanse this weekend.  let me take a quick second to apologize for the food and workout pics that might be dominating those feeds over the next thirty days.  sorry, but there's motivation and accountability in putting your goals out there, and i'm determined to do this thing.  (but i'll still like your pictures of yummy-looking donuts and desserts and bread) 

i started a really bad habit of not working out towards the last few months of 2014, which was a total bummer after i had achieved some major running milestones back in the spring.  and like any habit, the further i got from making the good choice, the easier it was to make the bad one.  the same went for food.  i was busy, and so i'd grab not-so-healthy food on the go when i was out running around.  i convinced myself that "it's not going to hurt just once", but let's be real:  we all know that's a lie.

i'm also not blessed with skinny genes.  most of the members on both sides of my family have struggled here and there with weight issues, and i've watched a lot of the adults in my life go on diet after diet.  so when 2015 hit, and i felt kind of terrible about my body all the time.  i was feeling lazy, bloated, and just plain bleh, and i knew i needed to buckle down and change a few things, because genetics weren't going to be my friend.  plus, i have that new sparkly thing on my finger and call it cliche, but who doesn't want to look amazing in their wedding dress?

the easy choice would probably be to go vegan.  my parents largely stick to a vegan diet, with the exception of fish, and i've done it before.  but here's the thing:  i like meat.  i don't eat meat terribly often, but i like to have a burger from time to time and not feel guilty about it.  so i started looking for other options, and that's where whole30 comes in.  i have seen so many blogger friends go through whole30 and have heard time and again that it is life-changing.

here are the details:
+ 30 days, no excuses, no cheating.
+ yes foods:  meat, seafood, lots of veggies, some fruit, and lots of good fats from nuts and seeds
+ what not to eat:  dairy, added sugar (including sugar substitutes), grains (including corn!), and legumes (including soy)
+ kick the scale to the side for 30 days...whole30 is about really listening to your body and how you feel and not to what the scale is telling you.

it's a commitment, that's for sure.  i was at the grocery store yesterday and read ingredient label after ingredient label, and the word "corn" shows up on practically everything.  but honestly, i feel better already,  i already feel less bloated, and just knowing that i'm putting good, whole foods into my body makes me motivated to keep going.  i'm sure there will be tough moments (there already have been!), but i was so inspired by something i read on the whole30 website as i was researching, and it's becoming my mantra for this month:  you can do anything for thirty days.

so here's to the whole30!  3 days down, 27 to go.

have you done whole30?  got any tips or tricks for me, or just some encouragement?
have you decided to eat healthier this year?

Jan 19, 2015 Starting the Week with a Grateful Heart

happy monday friends!  i hope you're off to a warm start this week...we got a lovely sheet of ice on the ground here, but we're pressing on!  as usual, i'm linking up with ember grey this morning for grateful heart monday!

i'm a few days into my whole30 journey and feeling pretty good so far, so that's at the top of my grateful list this week.  i need a major reset on my diet, so i'm hoping this will do the trick!

here are a few other things that i'm grateful for:
+ a great workout yesterday (feeling sore today, but it feels so good!)
+ we made really great progress on the wedding plans in january!
+ my dad has been feeling really good these days (praise god!)
+ friends on netflix...i've never watched the whole series start to finish before (even though i own it all on dvd)
+ i'll be second shooting a wedding in march!
+ the launch of our team applications happened last week for the peony project...we have had a great response so far!
+ reading the best much truth in that book!

what are you grateful for today?

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