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Showing posts with label God. Show all posts
Showing posts with label God. Show all posts

Nov 9, 2020


You want to hear something funny?  This post, just a title and a sentence, has been sitting in my draft folder since January.  Yep, you read that right:  January.  That's how long it's taken me to actually sit down and write it.

For the past few years, I've been choosing a word for the year.  In 2014, it was teachable.  I wanted to come to work, to my personal life, to my online world with a teachable spirit, and reminding myself of that in the face of criticism or a moment when I just need to own a mistake was a great perspective shift.

When 2015 started to loom, I decided that my word would be abide.  I was trying really hard at the end of 2014 to spend time with Jesus daily and I was in a season where contentment was escaping me (as evidenced by the cry fests that I had to both my mom and AJ about how "we're never going to get married" ha...funny one, God).  So abide it was, and when I chose that word in December of 2014, I had no idea the craziness that 2015 would hold, or that I would be ending the year with a different last name.

To be honest, I don't think I embodied my word in 2015.  In a lot of ways, I'm not sure that I'm heading out of this year more centered than when I came into it.  But at the same time, I do know that I'm closing out this year with a better awareness of the presence of Jesus in my life.

The way I see it, change can take you by surprise, even if you see it coming.  This year has been a year of change, both personally and in the life of our church.  Since our pastor's accident back in June, we've seen growth and revival coming to our county and congregation.  We've watched God orchestrate too many moments and happenings to even count, and as a staff, we've become more and more aware of the way God has worked and moved to carry us through the storm we faced on the evening of June 7th.

When I chose abide as my word for 2015, I didn't know that I'd spend 9 months of this year planning my wedding and then celebrating my brother's marriage as well.  I didn't know that so many of my friends would welcome babies into their families this year, and I didn't know what the transition into married life would look like.  Now, two months after saying "I do," I'm realizing that abiding looks differently than I expected it to.

Abiding, now, doesn't just mean getting up a little earlier and opening my Bible, or trying to carve out some time to read a book that reminds me of God's goodness.  It means saying no to commitments that take away from time spent with my husband.  It means encouraging one another to grow in our walks with God and being cheerleaders for one another in all things.

Last year at this time, I thought I knew what this year might hold.  I had plans, I had goals, and I had a word.  Have I embodied the word abide in the way that I thought I would this year?  Most definitely not.  But in the process, I've learned so much more about the way that God shows up and surrounds us with His steadfast goodness, in both the hard and the joyful times, and I think in so many ways, that's a greater lesson than I could have ever taught myself through my own striving.


Sep 14, 2020

Showing Up in Hope in the Ordinary

This post today is near and dear to my heart.  Rebecca of Caravan Sonnet is no stranger to hardship and to clinging to Jesus, and my heart rejoices with her when she has good news to share and cries with her when things are tough.  I'm so happy to welcome Rebecca to the blog today to talk about finding hope.  I love this post and hope you will too, friends!

Almost 10 years ago I was the recipient of a miracle from the Lord in the form of healing from what I was told was an incurable disease. After struggling for years in physical pain and begging the Lord for mercy when the medical community gave no hope the Lord performed a miracle. Family and friends cheered joyously as they witnessed their prayers answered. Doctors shook their heads in amazement when the healing happened muttering, “it must be something higher that healed you”. People responded with encouragement over my faith and proclaimed the Lord's power. It is a story of joyous victory and of good triumphing over evil. It is a story that rings with hope in a God who still performs miracles and of a God who is triumphant over illnesses after “the experts” have given up hope. It is a story that people love to hear, and one that I have loved to share over the years. It is a story that makes me well up with tears at the goodness of the Lord and stand in awe of what He did nine and a half years ago.

But the truth is that I am living a much different story today. I have shared some of my journey with Advanced Late Stage Lyme Disease and Cancer on my blog but there are many parts that have remained in private. To be truthful the life that I live now shattered midst ordinary days six years ago when my ex-fiancé walked out of our relationship a mere five months before we were to be married with no warning. Since then in these past six years my life has crumbled bit by bit by one circumstance to another to finally being diagnosed with Cancer, Advanced Late Stage Lyme disease, an environmental illness and several other diagnosis'. The combination of the diseases’ listed has severely affected my life and began one of the most difficult fights of my life. But while my life shattered my faith in my precious Lord, who is the God of HOPE, has not.

The recovery is long and instead of a planned out future, I am left with more questions than answers. My aching longings for the future of being married and being a mama has been placed on hold and instead of my dreams I am left with questions of life, value, and the God that I so desperately adore. In my little mind it is not the story that shouts the triumph of a powerful God as I expected the same ending of miraculous healing of ten years ago. It is not a story that we love to hear, but in this broken world it is a story that many people live.

I, like many others, am tempted to compare not only my "miraculous" story to my present day one but also to the answered prayers and joyful and carefree living of so many I see around me. But I am learning a new truth friends and it has challenged me to the core. 

We all need to hear the stories of miraculous conquering and healing to spur us on in hope. These are the stories that scream to us from the pages of the Bible and the stories that we are quick to reference when bad news comes to a loved one. But there is a much quieter and powerful story that is also found deep in the pages of scripture. It is a story of showing up with hope in the ordinary days lived among the miraculous and victories. It is the story of living with anticipation that the Lord is still at work when we most feel He is absent. It is a story that drives us closer to the heart of God as we cry out to Him. I have learned to fall in love with the God who I know does miracles. I have also fallen passionately in love with this same God who has the power to do miracles and has recently said resoundingly: wait. 

"He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow." There are beautiful examples of this in the Bible. One of those is the story of the women who bled for twelve years from Luke chapter eight. It is a beautiful story of a woman who must have spent everything that she owned on doctors who had not been able to help her and yet she still showed up to meet Jesus. With no promise that Jesus would do anything she pushes her way through the “crowds that almost crushed Him” and reaches out her hand in desperation and the hope that Jesus could not only heal but that He would show up.

Friends, if you are struggling through the dark night of suffering I urge you to hold fast to the story of the woman who was ill and find hope in the story of the Israelites. Just like that woman, we see in the book of Exodus that the Israelites held on to the hope that God was still at work. As they limped out from under the hard yoke of slavery they carried their tambourines through the long trek of the desert believing that there would still be a song yet to sing. They didn’t know when the song would come, but like the woman they pushed through and held onto hope that God would show up. Despite the fact they had no assurances or promises of what their future would look like, they walked with their tambourines. They were fully prepared for the celebration that they did not yet have a time frame for. The celebration that only lay hidden in their hearts as they walked mile after mile in the desert. The same hope of celebration that the woman who bled for twelve years was also expecting as she reached out her hand for Jesus’ cloak.

Dear friends, what about you? Are you ready to show up in Hope? I have friends who are scattered around the world serving AIDS victims in Africa, fighting for the freedoms of those in the Middle East and some holding crying orphans in the heart of Haiti. Maybe you are like them and can venture to far off countries to rescue those that the world has abandoned. Or maybe you can quietly and powerfully write your story by showing up, and learning like I am to take one day at a time, find beauty in the ordinary, and minister to those that the world has forgotten. Either way we can all come to the cross and take His love into our worlds- no matter how big or small that might seem. Either way we can show up and rejoice that He is going to answer as we step out in faith and cry out to Him. All we need to do is be ready to rejoice, reach out for His garments, carry our tambourines, and show up in Hope. 

Sep 8, 2020

Getting God Back to the Center

I am so excited to welcome Natalie to the blog today!  Natalie is not only one of my best blogging pals, but she'll also be my sister-in-law in just 18 days!  Natalie blogs over at A Tiny Traveler and has such an authentic heart for God.  She's here sharing a few tips for those of you who need to refocus as fall arrives...I know I do!  Enjoy!

Hey friends! My name is Natalie and I blog over at A Tiny Traveler. I am also the founder of Oakmoss Collective. I am super excited to be guest blogging with Betsy today. (In about a month she's going to be my sister-in-law. Yay!) I love coffee, travel, Jesus, and the ocean. I also love blogging and spending time with loved ones. I hope you enjoy this post today!

As the summer starts to come to a close, I feel it is only fair to take a moment and reflect. What are some things I am really proud of? What are some things I wish I could've done differently? What am I looking forward to in the months to come? A few things come to mind with each of these questions. 

For example, I am really looking forward to the finally month of wedding planning and the 2 weddings I am going to in August! I'm really proud of the fact that I was responsible with my planning and money (for the most part) as the summer unfolded. I am proud that I have allowed myself to learn a few different things in life, like forgiveness, showing grace in situations, and kindness to others (even when I am grumpy). 

The things that I regret aren't many. In fact, there is only one. I regret not spending more time with God. I've been thinking about it and realized that I can't just expect time with God to happen. Life gets busy and we get distracted so easily. For me, I decided that I need to come up with a few different ways to make sure that God is getting my attention. 

Today I want to share with you 3 ways to get God back in your routine! Can I just say that it saddens me to even type that? "Getting God back in my routine" sounds like "drink more water" or "get more sleep." When we get busy and focus on our own plans + where we want to be in the next year + how we can get there + all the people we want to see and things we want to experience, we're just being self-centered. It's okay to plan and dream and work hard, but God is our ultimate source of strength, so why not include Him in it? Have you ever felt dry and empty after a week of just going, going, going? I know that I have. I thirst for God's wisdom and I yearn to live life for more than tomorrow's plans. I need to start putting God back in the center.

1. The first thing that I've started doing is in my free time write down encouraging and meaningful Bible verses on sticky notes and put them on the inside of my bedroom door and my bathroom mirror. This way, I see them whenever I leave or when I'm getting ready in the morning. A few of the ones I have written down now are: 
"But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love." Nehemiah 9:17b (NIV)
"Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes." Psalm 37:7 (NIV)
"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." Ephesians 4:32 (NIV)

2. Another thing that I love is the She Reads Truth app on my phone. It's filled with reminders, verses, devotionals, and phone wallpapers that are full of God's Word. Below are a few of my favorites! I highly recommend you download the app or check out their website to get ahold of their great resources. I seriously benefitted so much from them this summer as I try to get God back to the center. 

3.  The third thing that I've been trying to do is pray throughout the day. Prayer isn't just reserved for church, the dinner table, and before bed. Talking to God is something that you can do all day long. He is always listening, and that is such an amazing thing to me. He never tires of us, our requests and cries and praises. He never gets bored with listening to us and being there for His children. Pray is such a beautiful thing. When I get up in the morning I thank God for the day and as I am getting ready I pray that He brings me peace and wisdom to face whatever trials may come. I pray that I'm not late on my morning commute, I thank Him for my blessings, friends, and family as they all come to mind. I pray for patience when in a tough situation. I pray for guidance as I make decisions throughout the afternoon. I pray for my safety and the safety of others as they go here and there and travel around. Pray doesn't have to just be for huge things, it can be about the small things too. Prayer is a way we can talk to our Heavenly Father, the creator of the entire universe! How cool! So that's the 3rd thing that I am trying to make a habit, and honestly my days have felt a little brighter when I spend them close to God. 

Thank you for taking the time to read my guest post! I hope you'll pay me a visit over on A Tiny Traveler! It's been great hanging out on Heavens to Betsy today. I'd love to hear some ways that you make sure you keep God the center. Share below!

Aug 21, 2020

Lunch By the Lake With Jesus

Today, I'm happy to welcome Holly to the blog!  Holly is the girl behind Holly-Loo-Ya, and is such an inspiring and encouraging woman of God!  I met Holly through The Peony Project and I love her heart for Christ and the way she cares for others!  She's also the girl behind Christ Blog RT, which is a Twitter account dedicated to sharing the gospel and promoting faith-based bloggers!  Holly is here today to share her lunch at the lake and how she takes those times to spend with Jesus!

Do you remember the commercials where people got extremely aggravated and lost their cool because they needed a Snickers? Jesus is my Snickers

It is embarrassingly pathetic how obvious it is when I haven’t had my Snickers.

Somehow (and I seriously can’t imagine how) I manage to convince myself that I don't always need my Snickers. That I don't need my Snickers every single day. I'd never openly admit I don't need my Snickers. I don't have to, my actions do all the talking.

So why do I often ignore my longing for the sweet treat that is Jesus? Maybe because when you eat the same thing everyday it can get kinda, well...boring. If Jesus’ mercies are brand new every morning, then it must be me who’s being repetitive. So when I lose my desire to spend quality time with Jesus, I know it’s time for a change. This past Saturday, I packed up a lunch and invited some friends to the lake for a bible study. I wanted to spend time with God in a special way. If I can plan a hike to “get some exercise” then I can plan a lakeside lunch to “get some Jesus.”

I was reminded of the importance of keeping my relationship with Jesus fresh. It shouldn’t always be the same old thing and it doesn’t have to be boring.
My relationship with God is the center of my world. It's the first thing I encounter when I wake up each morning. It's every decision I make, every obstacle I overcome, every sense of comfort and peace. Every breath I take is attributed to the Holy Spirit living within me. They say we only pray as much as we believe prayer works. So by God's grace I am challenging myself to invest in my relationship with Him and always, always remember just how bad I need a Snickers.

Aug 5, 2020

I Want Joy.

I feel the need to warn you right off the bat...this may not be my usual cheery, hope-filled post.  Today, this blog's purpose is for processing and working through the things I've been feeling.  It's for finding the hope again and for working towards healing.

Many of you know about my father's battle with cancer.  Lung cancer, to be exact.  The mere diagnosis has always puzzled us...how did a healthy 49-year-old, someone who has always been active and never hesitated to help another, someone who never touched a cigarette, end up with stage IV lung cancer?  I've asked God "why?" so many times, and so many times have been reminded that He is good.  No matter what, He is good.  Even when I don't know the answer to my question, He is good.

This summer has been a difficult one to say the least.  Between the accident involving our pastor at church and my dad's health concerns, it's been hard to find joy in this summer.

You see, joy is difficult to come by when there's an underlying feeling of worry.  When you do find it, it's often fleeting...a brief break from reality until the details of real life creep back in.

With the wedding just over three weeks away, there should be nothing but elation flowing through my mind.  Instead, this week has been filled with stressful worry.  The reality is that my dad hasn't been feeling good.  After having whole brain radiation in June, he felt pretty good for a few weeks, and then his energy levels started to go down.  He's been battling some serious fatigue and dizzy spells since the beginning of July and it's steadily been taking a toll on him.  I guess a year of chemo plus radiation will do that to a person.

And honestly, friends, we're all tired.  Tired of my dad not feeling good, tired of never being able to fully enter into joy.

I've always dreamed that the time spent planning my wedding would be full of joy, but then again I guess life is never fully what we hope or dream.  Sometimes, it's so much more, and sometimes, it just looks different.  That's life, right?

I long for joy that isn't undermined by worry or fear.  I long for time with my family where we aren't anxious about what's to come.  Facing a serious illness has made me, for the first time in probably my entire life, long for Heaven.  Not because I don't have hope that my dad will be fully healed and not because I don't trust in God, but because this world is not our home, and thank goodness for that.

This earth is broken and fallen.  War, disease, accidents that cut a life too short.  All of those things could absolutely leave a person in total despair.  But thank goodness for a God who restores, who redeems, and who brings joy.

There is so much in life to look forward to and find joy in, even when life is hard, joy can still be found.  But nothing will ever compare to the joy we find when praising our King at His throne.  I can't wait to experience that joy someday!

Jul 3, 2020

Grace Upon Grace

I've been thinking a lot about grace lately.  
I've been thinking about all of the times that I fall short, that I don't fulfill a commitment in the way I meant to, or didn't live up to being the kind of friend or employee or daughter or fiancé that I intend to.  
The times that my temper gets the best of me and I snap back at someone or the times that I say the wrong thing and then have to apologize for coming across in a way that I'm not proud of.  

I've had to ask for a lot of grace lately.  Stress does that to you.  Busyness does that to you.  In light of what the month of June held...my dad's whole brain radiation treatment for the 30+ lesions they found in his brain, our pastor's motorcycle accident in which his wife lost her life, the impending stress of the last two months of wedding planning and not having time to even think about it...I've found myself asking for another to extend grace to me or thanking someone for their understanding and grace when I've had to put life on hold.  

It's never been easy for me to ask for grace.  Even though I was saved by it at a young age, it's still not easy for me to accept it, even from the One who wants to give it so freely.  John 1:16 says, "For from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace."  I'm not even sure that I can comprehend what that even means...grace upon grace.  As if just plain 'ol grace wasn't enough, here's some more. Grace upon grace.  

I've never been one to jump into the political fray, and I'm not going to start now, but it's hard to ignore the arguments and the bitterness and the hurt that is all over social media after last week's news.  And as I scroll through my Facebook feed, my heart breaks, because I keep missing one thing from both sides of the debate:  grace.  While politics bring out the good, bad, and the ugly in people, the debate going on through our screens right now seems to just be a microcosm of how we conduct ourselves and how we treat others as a whole.

We lack grace in our words, both typed and spoken, and its hurtful to ourselves and to the person we're speaking to.  It's easy to justify lacking grace towards people who have hurt us or who we don't think deserve it or who are unable to compromise and see our side of things, but if we deny grace to those we don't favor, then we've missed the point.

Grace, by definition, means "the free and unmerited favor of God."  By our human nature, by the fall, by sin, we're so unworthy of grace.  Yet He gives it freely and without merit.  

It's so humbling when you think about it.  That the Savior of the World, the One who created it all, the Prince of Joy, would distribute grace upon grace to broken, fallen people who are so unworthy of it, and who so often turn around and don't extend the same grace to others.  I bet it breaks His heart when we don't give out grace in the same way He does.  But thank goodness that He does give it out.  And He delights in it.  He's so full of grace that He can't help but to spill it out on each of us.

And we, in turn, are called to pour that grace out on our neighbor.  Whether it means lending a hand or accepting an apology before it's even offered, or simply showing kindness and love even when our feelings are hurt, we're called to it.  In the glow of the heated debates and declarations and decisions that light up our social media feeds, we're called to extend grace in our responses, our declarations, and our interactions so that Christ's light can shine more fully in us.  

I don't know about you, but I'm sure that I don't deserve the grace that Christ has handed to me.  I don't get it right every time, and more often than not, my own sinful human nature rears its ugly head and I'm left with the shame that I didn't possess the right amount of patience or self control or gentleness.  But oh, what a Savior, that He should look past all of that and love me anyway.  Who am I to not show that same love and grace to others?

Jun 16, 2020

When You Walk Through the Fire...

To say the past week has been hard is an understatement. (If you missed my news last week, then click here to read.) Part of my job at GT is helping to manage the church's social media accounts, and this past week has been the most intense season of work I've ever experienced.

Yesterday, before I left the office, I was looking for a Scripture verse to schedule for our Facebook page this morning and came across Isaiah 43:2: When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.

On Sunday, our executive Pastor, Scott, took the GT stage and preached a message about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He talked about how when we go through fires, we don't have to stand along, we don't have to come out smelling like smoke, and that God shows up in new ways. So when I found the verse in Isaiah, it was an obvious choice for putting out there to our church body.

But as I reflected on that verse, something occurred to me. It doesn't say "if you walk through the fire," it says when.

It's not if you face tragedy, it's when.
It's not if you experience pain, it's when.

God isn't surprised by our tragedy.  He's not surprised by our pain or our hurt.  In fact, his Word says that we will walk through the fire, we will pass through the river.

I don't believe that fires that we walk through are of God.  Our world is broken as a result of the fall, and so while we tarry to redeem a fallen Creation to it's Creator, the reality is that bad things happen.  People make bad choices and there are consequences for those decisions, and the fact that we live in a fallen world means that we aren't always spared hardship and heartbreak. God doesn't make those bad things happen, but He does work through them to bring healing and hope.

My life over the past two years has been nothing short of a roller coaster.  Between two cancer diagnosis's, health issues with both of my grandmothers, losing AJ's grandfather, a long distance relationship, and now everything that's happened with my church, there have been days when I've asked God when I get to step out of the flames.

But from time to time I realize that the God who promises to be with us in Isaiah 43, and who stood amongst the flames with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in Daniel 3, is the same God who will see us through even the greatest of tragedies.

And He does see us through.  Isaiah 43 doesn't say "when you stand in the waters" or "when you hang out in the fire," it says through.  We don't have to stay in the rivers and fires of our lives.  We have to carry on and walk through.

God doesn't promise easy.  He doesn't promise safe, or pain-free, or simple.  But He promises to be there in the good times and the bad, and He promises to be with us and see us through.

We will face hardship.  There will be fires to walk through.  There will be rivers to pass through and there will be times when we feel like the flood waters are about to pull us under.  But God promises to be there, to preserve us, and to not allow the flames to set us ablaze.


It feels disingenuous of me to end this post without talking about the hope we have in Jesus. The Bible is filled with the promises of God, and one of the greatest promises any of us can put our hope in is the eternal life found through faith in Christ. If you're reading this post, and you're not sure what you believe or you're walking through a fire right now and you need some hope, then, friend, I can't begin to describe to you how great God's love is for you. He wants to stand in that fire with you and carry you through. 

Personally, I'm not sure how I would have made it through the past two years without my relationship with God. And I want you to know that relationship, too. If you'd like to start that relationship, but aren't sure how, I'm happy to tell you that it's simple.  God is fully accessible to us through prayer, and all it takes is stopping, right now, to pray and tell Him about your belief in Him, your desire to know Him more, and your recognition that you're in need of a Savior. (Let me tell you a secret...we all are!) 

Prayer doesn't have to be this mysterious thing, it's a conversation, so just talk to Him. If you pray that prayer today and you're looking for more direction, please email me at [email protected] because I would love to talk with you more about your decision!  It's the most important one you'll ever make, and I'd be thrilled to walk through that with you.

Jun 9, 2020

Prayer Request

Hi friends...
No fancy photo or long post today.

I may be absent from this space for a few days.  I have some posts scheduled to go up but my usual presence may be minimum.

As many of you know, I work for a rather large church in Reading, PA.  On Sunday night, our lead pastor and his wife were involved in a very serious motorcycle accident.  They also happen to be my best friend's in laws, so this has been especially close to home.  Our Pastor, Bryan, is in the hospital in stable but critical condition, however, his wife, Lynn, did not survive.  Our hearts are breaking as we pray and manage communication to our church body.

We covet your prayers as our church community is in deep mourning.  While we have hope for Bryan's recovery, we are also grieved at the loss of Lynn.  We know that she is not sad, yet rejoicing in Heaven with her Lord and Savior, and we know that, as Bryan always says, you can't threaten a Christian with Heaven, so we are happy for her and know we'll be with her again someday.

If you'd like to read more, you can see the newspaper article here and stay up to date on our church's Facebook page here.

Thank you so much, friends.

Much love.

Jun 5, 2020

The Importance of Self Care

I've been meaning to write this post for a while. In fact, I put it into my drafts folder well over a month ago (maybe even three months ago, I don't seem to keep track of time all that well these days), and it's just sat there, staring at me every time I open my blog dashboard, begging to be written. My heart has so much to say on the topic of self care, (mostly that I'm no good at it), but I feel a bit like a fraud even trying to conquer such a fleeting concept and hot topic amongst young creatives and women today.

And I guess it's ironic that it's taken me so long to find the time to sit and process and really write this out. Because in a way, this post about the importance of caring for oneself is a form of self care for me, yet it's taken me months to do it.

I'm not 100% sure why the idea of caring for myself is so hard for me; or why it's so hard for so many of us, for that matter.  I think there's a feeling of selfishness associated with taking care of ourselves, or with taking time to do something to get that sought-after "me time".  We carry the banner of being modern superwomen, and we hold it together and make it look so easy, but then when our eyes close at night, we're exhausted in every sense of the word.

We fill our days with work and school and managing our online lives and blogs and shops, and then pile that onto taking care of our marriages and families, and by the end of it all, there's nothing left.  Nothing left in the way of time and nothing left in the way of energy.  There are so many days that I fall into bed at midnight, exhausted from living my energizer-bunny lifestyle since 7:30 that morning, and set my alarm to get up and do it all again the next day.

And yet we get up each day ready to do it all again, drained before the day even begins.

But you know what?  I'm tired.  I'm tired of having so much running through my mind that even my sleep is often plagued with dreams about forgetting things on my to-do list.  I'm tired of watching women stand strong while their souls are weary.

Self care looks differently for each of us.  For some, it's hitting the pavement and going for a run and for others, it's stealing away for a manicure.  Whatever it is for you, it's important, so stop telling yourself that you don't deserve it.  1 Corinthians 3:16 says "Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you?"  If we truly believe that, then why aren't we taking care of ourselves, friends?

Christ didn't sacrifice everything for us to fill our lives with schedules that leave us broken and tired and weary. While He never promised this life would be easy, or safe, I also don't think He intended for us to treat it like a marathon that we have to run at a sprint pace until we collapse from exhaustion.

There's no shame or guilt in saying "It's too much" and taking some time for you. When all that you're living for (and I hope, sister, that it's Christ first and foremost, but beyond that, I'm talking here about your job, kids, creative outlets, marriage, relationship, school, etc.) begins to drain you and pull you under, then it's time to step back.

Let's be women who boldly declare peace and wellness in our own lives.
Let's be women who realize the value of taking care of ourselves so that we can better take care of the people and things that we love.
Let's be women who shrug off the guilt and aren't afraid to say that taking care of ourselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually is important.
And finally, let's be women who leave behind weary in exchange for worth.

May 15, 2020

What To Say In The Face of A Cancer Diagnosis (+A Free Cancer Diagnosis Resource)

I've written here and there about my dad's battle with lung cancer, and more recently, my mom's melanoma diagnosis.  I try not to flood my blog with the day-in and day-out of having a loved one battle cancer.  I know that so many of you are praying for both of my parents, and I'm so grateful for that, but it's not something I always like to talk about in such a public forum, and I don't think it's something that my parents would want to see my blog be focused on.

The past two years have been some of the hardest in my life.  I've seen both of my parents come to their knees at the foot of the cross (and I've been with them), praying for healing on a daily basis.  I've seen my dad not feel well, and I've seen him ride 150 miles on his bike in two days.  It's a roller coaster ride and not one that I would wish on anyone.

However, I can tell you two things:  1) your prayers and the prayers of our church family have completely sustained us over these last two years and 2) the support, encouragement, and advice from those who have gone before us in this walk have been invaluable.

I know that talking to someone who has a cancer diagnosis or who is the caretaker of someone with a cancer diagnosis isn't easy.  I can tell that it isn't from the way that some people stumble over their words or just don't reach out at all.  I get it.  It's uncomfortable.  You're probably wondering about the hard things, like prognosis and will he lose his hair with the chemo treatments and well if that last scan looked good, then why isn't he feeling well?  Here's a secret:  we wonder too sometimes.  If you've read any of my posts about my parents' walks with cancer, you know that we wonder, but we believe.  We believe in total and complete healing and a God who has already gone before us.

And we also believe in advocating and educating.  If you know someone with a cancer diagnosis, then here are a few little tips:

1 // Don't ignore it, but don't make it the focus of every conversation.  Knowing that you care enough to ask is touching, but it's important that cancer doesn't become the person's identity.

2 // Watch your words.  I can't tell you how many people have told me stories about so-and-so who had cancer and lost their battle, or who said my dad just needed to repent of his sins or pray harder for healing (um, not how healing works!), or the guy that told my dad that if it was stage IV then that's basically a death sentence.  People either mean well or they just don't think before they speak.  Don't be one of those people.  Put yourself in your friend's shoes and think "would this be an encouraging, life-giving thing to hear if I was going through a cancer diagnosis?"  If the answer is "no", then keep it to yourself.

3 // Ask how you can help, and offer suggestions.  For example:  you don't have to take on every task or chore that the person has, but simply offer to watch their kids or bring them a meal, or maybe even cut their grass.  They might say no at first, but keep asking.

4 // Be there.  It's crazy how people disappear when you are facing a serious illness, so don't disappear.  Even if the person pushes you away or withdraws.  Actually, especially in those two cases.  That's probably a sign that they need you more than they want to admit.

5 // No matter how recently the person has been diagnosed, they are a survivor.  You learn a lot of terminology pretty quickly when facing a cancer diagnosis, but one of my favorite terms has always been "survivor."  No matter where someone is in their fight, whether they were diagnosed yesterday or they've been in remission for a decade, they are a cancer survivor.

Allstate has put together a free companion guide to the book, The Silver Lining.  The companion guide is available as an instant download ebook, which you can get here, and I can't encourage you enough to download it, read it, and share it with anyone who might be facing cancer, but more specifically, breast cancer, as that is what the author was diagnosed with.  With over 250,000 people diagnosed with breast cancer in the U.S. each year, finding advice and encouragement from other survivors is key to keeping a positive attitude.

Allstate created the Silver Lining Companion Guide as a way to offer practical tips, important information, and inspiration to the person walking through a breast cancer diagnosis.  Personally, I also found much of it to be true of other cancer battles as well.  The guide is available in English and Spanish, as well as in print at select Allstate agencies nationwide.


I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Apr 14, 2020

Peace in Chaos // Finding Peace in Scripture

This post is part of The Peony Project's monthly link-up.

If you read my post last week, then you know that life has been a little bit hectic lately.  It's been the kind of hectic that's draining.  Worry hides around every turn and I'll be honest...it's hard to beat it down and to find peace.

I'm honestly not sure how anyone can face a cancer diagnosis (let alone two), or really, any kind of personal crisis, without Jesus.  Our faith and church community has sustained our family over the past two years, and I can't imagine going through all of this without knowing Him.

It can be really hard to find any sort of peace when your mind is plagued with concern or it's just elsewhere in general.  But if there's anything I've found to be tried-and-true in installing peace in my day-to-day over these past two years, it's memorizing Scripture.  

If you grew up in church, you were probably given countless memory verses over the years to study and remember.  I've never been terribly with memorizing Scripture, but I've also never been so compelled to as I have the past few years.  In 2012, I led a missions trip to the Dominican Republic for our youth ministry.  We gave our students a list of verses to memorize and encouraged them that while they were praying with people in the DR, if they were at a loss for words, they could always pray Scripture.

Since my dad was diagnosed with cancer in 2013, we've attended our church's healing ministry for prayer nearly every Wednesday night.  Time and time again, as we've sat in a small room with a team of prayer warriors surrounding my dad, I've listened to people pray Scripture over him.  These experiences have only further confirmed the importance and power in praying through Scripture.

Chances are that if you've every been through anything difficult or have struggled with anything in your life (who hasn't?), then you've gone looking for verses that will bring you peace.  If I've learned anything in the past two years, it's that memorizing verses and repeating them over and over again to myself can bring the biggest sense of peace.

One of my favorites is Isaiah 26:3:  "You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on  you, because he trusts in You." (ESV)

I think this verse encompasses the heart and power of memorizing Scripture:  keeping God's Word in your heart and mind helps you stay in His peace.  Even in the most turbulent of waters, there is a peace in knowing that Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and that this world is not our home.  

Here are a few other verses that I have found comfort and peace in memorizing and calling on in the moments where I feel lost, sad, or helpless:

2 Corinthians 10:5:  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up agains the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ. (NIV)

John 14:27:  Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (NIV)

Philippians 4:6:  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (NIV)

Isaiah 54:10:  "Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed," says the Lord, who has compassion on you. (NIV)

Matthew 11:28-30: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (NIV)


If you're a blogger reading this, and you've been searching for a community to call home; searching for people who will understand this part of your life, who will get the blogging world and who will be real friends for you in it, then I hope you'll consider joining us in The Peony Project.  that's our heart, after all...to be friends for the journey.

And if you just stopped by today to do a little reading, then I'm so happy you're here.  And I hope you'll either consider what peace means to you and join in on our link-up, or that you'll stop by a few of the other posts below and check out what it means to some other awesome ladies. 

Mar 3, 2020

Leading the Simple Life

this post is part of the peony project's monthly link-up.

i tend to overcomplicate things.

decisions, my closet, life in general.

i'm one of those pro/con list kind of girls...i weigh every option and the longer i take to decide things, the more indecisive i become.  that can be manifested in the smallest of choices:  where to eat lunch or if i should donate that sweater that i haven't worn all winter (the answer is yes, but i overthink, and overcomplicate, and no matter how many times it lands on my "donate" pile, i will inevitably put it back in my closet).

this year, i've been trying to keep the word "simple" in the forefront of my mind.  heading towards marriage, and ultimately joining my life with someone else's, i know that i need to simplify my possessions, my commitments, and where my attention is focused.  and i genuinely want to let go of some things.  even if i weren't getting married in six months, i'm realizing that i feel overwhelmed far too often, and it needs to change.

so why is it so hard to give something up?  if you're anything like me, you struggle with the "i can do it all!" mentality.  i can be a superhero.  i can fit it all in.  i can have it all (figuratively and literally).

but the reality is that i don't have to.  and living a life filled with hustle and bustle and too much means i'm not living my best life.  i'm not living the life that god has for me, which is filled with so much more than running from task to task and then falling into bed at night, my mind racing with the things still on my to-do list.

and so i'm learning.  i'm learning to say no to things that will drain me emotionally, physically, and spiritually.  i'm learning to release the tight grip i have on certain possessions, like that vera bradley purse i got in middle school and will probably never use again (which really, means releasing sentimentality to some degree).  i'm learning to simplify my schedule by choosing the things i really want to give my time to.

matthew 6:21 says "for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also," and the thing i love about that verse is that it reminds us that not only is our ultimate treasure not on earth, but the things we do value here on earth capture our heart.  and leading a life of simplicity means choosing well the places and things that you value.

it's not easy, making those choices.  sometimes it's about choosing to thin out your closet, and sometimes it's about choosing to thin our your commitments.  simplicity gets a bad wrap...the word "simple" so often is used to describe things that are lacking.  but i think when you flip your perspective, living a simple life is lacking in the right ways.  the girl who leads the simple life can lack feeling run down and weary from her to-do list.  she lacks being buried in clutter and commitments.  sure, stress will come and there will be times when life isn't straightforward and simple, but making an effort to simplify your life can help you to focus and can bring clarity to what matters most to you.

and so, i'm making an effort to simplify this spring.  i'm ready to say no to the clutter and yes to simplicity.

what areas of your life could use some simplifying?


if you're a blogger reading this, and you've been searching for a community to call home; searching for people who will understand this part of your life, who will get the blogging world and who will be real friends for you in it, then i hope you'll consider joining us in the peony project.  that's our heart, after all...to be friends for the journey.

and if you just stopped by today to do a little reading, then i'm so happy you're here.  and i hope you'll either consider what this new year and renewing means to you and join in on our link-up, or that you'll stop by a few of the other posts below and check out what it means to some other awesome ladies. 

Feb 9, 2020

Fitness + the Word

i go through seasons where i work out regularly, and then others where i am kind of terrible about working out.  last spring i got into a great groove and was running regularly, and i did a pretty good job of sticking to a routine as summer hit.  and then, as fall approached, my workouts got more sporadic.  but when i started the whole30 a few weeks ago, i knew i needed to get back into a solid workout schedule.

while working out regularly makes me feel good physically, i also have realized how important it is for my mental and spiritual life.  this past summer, i shared about how i love working out to my upbeat worship playlist (and even shared that playlist with you!), and when i got away from regular sweat sessions, i also got away from spending that time with jesus, and caring for the body that god gave me!  i don't know about you, but if i'm being honest, i don't always love this body.  i wish i did, but so often i look in the mirror and wish it looked differently.  however, as i'm working out and focusing on treating my body well, i'm realizing just how amazing our bodies are!

we are meant to use our bodies to worship the lord, no matter what we're doing.  and i think so often that we don't consider exercise to be a form of worship.  but the reality is that taking care of our bodies honors god, and we can find unique ways to tie our spiritual lives into our workouts!  with lent approaching, it's a great time to be intentional about marrying fitness and jesus, and one of the ways that i'm personally excited to do that is by working my way through vaulter fit's spiritual fitness lent devotional!

i'm so excited to jump into this 40 day journey and i can't wait to focus on strengthening both my body and my spiritual life.  kristin and samantha, the girls behind vaulter fit, have such a heart for combining ministry and fitness, and it's such a rare thing to find!  their ministry is founded on 1 timothy 4:8, which says that "...physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things...", and these girls have written a devotional packed with practices to nourish your heart and your body.

each dated entry unpacks a portion of scripture, and then also has a workout to go with it. and the devotional also comes with a workout guide, with photos showing you how to do every move!  the scripture readings are taken from the catholic lectionary, but i think that any christian would get a ton out of these forty days.  if you're looking for a way to combine your spiritual life with your fitness routine, this is a great place to start.

do you have a devotional for the lenten season?  do you combine your spiritual life and your fitness routine in some way?

i was given the spiritual fitness devotional by vaulter fit as a preview, but all opinions in this post are totally my own!  thanks to vaulter fit for partnering with heavens to betsy!

Jan 6, 2020

Refresh, Renew

this post is part of the peony project's monthly link-up.

i'm not one for new year's resolutions.  not to sound pessimistic, but i never keep them.  i like small, attainable goals.  i'm motivated by those; those, i can manage.  if i cut up a goal into tiny bits, i feel like i can handle it.  i imagine that goes hand-in-hand with my love of detailed to-do lists and check boxes.  

this year, however, i made one of the most cliche resolutions anyone could make:  to get healthy.  in a way, i sort of hate even writing that.  i went to the gym yesterday and was immediately overwhelmed by how crowded it was.  my favorite treadmill was taken and the locker room was packed.  of course, that was to be expected...it is january, after all.  but in the moments walking in, i wished i had a t-shirt that read "i'll still be coming here march 1st", just to prove i wasn't jumping on the new year's resolution train.  

i hit a point last spring where i was running nearly every day.  my average distance hung between three and five miles and my longest topped out at ten.  i felt good, and i felt strong.  and then, somewhere in the midst of the summer heat, i broke down.  i still ran, but most days, i convinced myself that it was too hot or i was too busy.  this trend continued and continued and here we are and it's 2015 and before yesterday, i'm not sure i could remember the last time i really pushed myself.  and so i feel ready for a change.  

and sure, i'm motivated by the freshness of a new year, and i'm extra motivated by wanting to look great on my wedding day.  i also want to get more organized and save more money and get more sleep.  i'm realizing that i'm ready for a totally fresh start.  but mostly, i'm learning, that this resolution thing, no matter what it is, needs to begin with a renewing of the mind.

romans 12:2 instructs us, "do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  they you will be able to test and approve what god's will is--his good, pleasing, and perfect will."

we all know what the patterns of this world are...to please oneself, to often give in to sluggishness and greed and worldly desire.  but it's the second part of that verse that strikes me the most.  to be transformed by the renewing of your mind will enable us to discover god's good, pleasing, and perfect will.  i love the demonstration of christ's love for us in that verse.  that his will is good; it is pleasing; and it is perfect.  

and so no matter what new years resolutions we've made for ourselves; no matter how we hope to grow or change or what we want to accomplish in 2015, it needs to begin with a renewing of our minds and a refreshing of our souls.  

how will you renew and refresh this year?

if you're a blogger reading this, and you've been searching for a community to call home; searching for people who will understand this part of your life, who will get the blogging world and who will be real friends for you in it, then i hope you'll consider joining us in the peony project.  that's our heart, after all...to be friends for the journey.

and if you just stopped by today to do a little reading, then i'm so happy you're here.  and i hope you'll either consider what this new year and renewing means to you and join in on our link-up, or that you'll stop by a few of the other posts below and check out what it means to some other awesome ladies. 

Jan 1, 2020

Good Morning, 2015

it seems a little crazy that 2015 is here already.  i rung in the new year last night with some of mine and aj's family, playing games and eating tons of food.  it was fun and perfect and now i'm ready to spend today in my pi's.

i'm not one for new years resolutions.  i like choosing a word for the year (2014's was teachable) and i like to make seasonal goals.  resolutions just feel so big to me...like i can't quite achieve them.  i think they overwhelm me.  i definitely have some goals for this year, but i need the small wins.  i need to set milestones that i know i have a shot at achieving.

i haven't quite decided on my word for this year, but i do know one thing.  i know that in 2015, i want to be sure to make time for taking a breath and resting.  my tendency is to be moving and busy all the time.  and now, with a wedding to plan, i have a feeling there will always be something on my to do list.  but these past few months have been some of the busiest of my life, and i've been learning how important it is to take care of myself, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

i received rachel's newsletter in my email inbox this morning and it was all about thriving and not just surviving in 2015.  and it made me realize how important it is to make intentional decisions to thrive. it's so easy to go into survival mode, (even easier when a family member is battling a serious illness).

but that's not what god wants for us.  he has made us to thrive, not merely survive.

so join me this year, friends!  let's be intentional with our personal lives, with one another, with our online spaces and our offline relationships.  let's thrive together.

Dec 17, 2020

Community Brew // Be Generous Right Where You Are

today i'm joining in with madison over at wetherills say i do and rachel of oh, simple thoughts for their community brew link-up!  community brew is a monthly link-up that is designed for bloggers to be "open, honest, and vulnerable, and to build community with others."  december's prompt is generosity, so join in and tell us a little bit about what season of life you're in!

it's hard to believe that christmas is a week away.  i'm sitting in my room, looking at a pile of wrapped gifts and receipts stacked on my desk.  i can't wait to give those gifts out next week.  i love picking out something great for someone i love and i'm looking forward to handing out these carefully-picked and wrapped gifts on christmas day.

generosity is a buzz-word this time of year.  in fact, it was our theme for the month as the character-education assemblies that i help to organize through our church.  we spent a few days teaching kids that generosity is "making someone's day by giving something away", and i can't think of a better way to put it!  everywhere you look right now, you'll see examples of people being generous.  generosity in giving gifts to friends and family; supporting charities; sponsoring families in need....opportunities to be generous are all around us every day.

i love practicing generosity year round, and i'm learning to be more generous with my money so that i can be a blessing to others in that way.  you see, being generous with my time has always been easy for me.  but money, well, that's been harder to release control over.  i'm in my mid-twenties, with two degrees under my belt, which also means a decent amount of student debt.  so i've always made it a point to be as frugal as possible.

but i've learned that not only does god call us to be generous (and that being faithful in our giving to him through our tithes will return more blessings than we can imagine), but he delights in it when we show generosity!

no matter what your financial situation, there are ways to be generous with a little or with a lot.  i'm a fan of making small commitments when i can.  for example, the mocha club is an awesome organization to support...they back a myriad of different projects in africa and you can support them for just the price of two starbucks drinks a month.  i also love supporting businesses that give back or are small.  as a shop owner, i know i'm blessed by every order, and i consider each order an act of generosity!

of course, generosity isn't only about money.  there are so many other ways to be generous with your time and resources.  offer to babysit for that single mom at church; spend some time wrapping your grandmother's gifts for her; if you can make something, do it and send it to someone as a snail mail surprise!  be creative with your generosity and i bet you that you'll find it really fun.

so, how are you showing generosity this christmas season?

Dec 10, 2020

Girl Talk // Defining Dreams

when i was little, my answer to "what do you want to be when you grow up?" was always the same:  a pediatrician.  except for a year in elementary school where i decided that being a dolphin trainer sounded really cool, i never wavered from my medical dream.  but then, somewhere into my second year of pre-med as a biology major, i realized that i really didn't like science all that much.  i changed my major and eventually got a masters degree in education.  and today, my life and my dreams and my passions look very different than what i would have guessed five years ago.

my mentor and i are working our way through mark batter son's the circle maker right now.  it's a great book, and even better when you read it with someone else, specifically someone who will really push and challenge you.  chrissy is not only a great voice of truth and encouragement, but in just the few weeks that we've been meeting, she's pushed and stretched me.

the hardest thing for me about defining those dreams is actually putting them out there.  because it's scary!  a lot of my goals revolve around my online life.  and articulating that to someone over a cup of coffee puts my stomach into knots, because what if they don't understand it?  what if they don't get this part of my life or how it could be sustainable?  ultimately, my heart's desire is to honor god with anything that i do, to be so in tune with what he wants for me that i'm not afraid to speak life into my dreams when i know that they are from him.

if you're not familiar with the circle maker, it's all about how praying boldly and dreaming big can transform your walk with jesus.  our god is huge, and our prayers should be huge too.

god honors bold dreams, and bold dreams honor god.

we've probably all heard (or felt) someone say that something was "too small" to bother god about.  but i like to think that god is delighted when we pray for and thank him for both the big and the small.  those small prayers, for the small graces like a good parking spot or a coffee date with a friend are important.  they are the daily reminders that god loves to shower us in blessing.  but the big prayers, about a future or a move or a financial decision or a relationship, or whatever it is for you, those are the ones that give god the  most glory.

so don't be afraid to ask for what seems impossible.  don't be afraid to define the big dreams.  god is for you and he will delight in showing you his power when you dare to pray with boldness.  so define the dream, circle it in prayer, and then get ready.  because if you do pray, anything could happen.

have you read the circle maker?  what are you circling in prayer right now?
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