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Showing posts with label faith. Show all posts
Showing posts with label faith. 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?

May 5, 2020

Hospitality is a Posture of the Heart

Confession:  This is a repost.  But when we chose "Hospitality" as this month's Peony Project link-up prompt, I couldn't help but want to resurrect this one.  This is one of my favorite posts that I've ever written.  It allowed me to process the idea of hospitality in a totally new way and its definitely a reminder I need often.  So I hope you won't mind that I'm reusing my own words, but I honestly don't think I could write another (better) post on hospitality if I tried.

I've never particularly liked the story of Mary and Martha.  Probably because I can totally relate to Martha, and yet Mary is the one Jesus praises.  It always feels a little like He's chastising me when He says "Mary has chosen what is better" (Luke 10:42).

Truthfully, I feel bad for Martha!  She was just trying to be a good hostess after all.  I'd do the same.  The meal needed to be prepared, the table to be set, she probably had to tidy up a little bit.  She had opened her home not to just any guy, but the Lord...and I'm sure she wanted to make a good impression.

But when we get down to it, hospitality boils down to one simple truth: everyone wants to be invited in.  We've all been there...maybe you've been the new girl hoping for a friend or maybe you've seen the new girl and felt the tug to include her.  And when it comes to Mary and Martha, the reality is that things do need to get done.

But you can't keep working for people to be invited in.  If you keep washing the dishes or clearing the table, everyone else is going to feel like they need to be working too or not be included.

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

I don't know abut you, but I was raised to always offer to help.  And so, when I go to a party or gathering and the host stands up to start the clean-up process, my instinct is to pitch in.  And when I'm the host, I will often begin cleaning up when my guests are still around the table.

Don't get me wrong...I think the conversations that happen at the sink, with one person washing dishes and another drying, can be life-giving and relationship-forming.  My mom will tell you that she bonded with her sisters-in-law over sinks full of dirty dishes after family gatherings.  And watching them in the kitchen (and joining them) is now one of my favorite things about those family dinners.

But when we look deeper at the story of Mary and Martha, it's not just about doing work versus sitting at the table and spending time with others.  Martha comes to Jesus, with Mary at His feet, asking Him to send her sister to help her prepare the meal.  She was so worried by the work to be done that she couldn't see the importance in what her sister had chosen.

And when I examine my own heart, it's here that I can relate the most to Martha.  Because often, when I'm standing at that kitchen sink and there are people at the table who haven't offered to help, my heart turns bitter.  Thoughts of "why aren't they helping?" and "can't they see what work needs to be done?" run through my mind.

True hospitality is a posture of the heart.  It's not enough to just open your doors and invite people into your home.  No matter how pinterest-perfect and carefully planned a gathering is, making people feel welcome goes beyond a picturesque table setting and a delicious dinner followed by warm cups of coffee.

In reality, it doesn't matter how well you prepare, what people will remember is how well you cared.

There's beauty in sharing your home and your food.  Impact in being generous with your money and your time.  Inviting people into your life, no matter how messy and imperfect it may be at times, is worth it.

But it can be so much better, so much more impactful, so much more beautiful, if you "choose what is better."
Choose the conversation over the task list.
Choose to listen when the dishes are screaming at you.
Choose to include people in the relationship instead of the work. 

I'm not sure that the story of Mary and Martha will ever not make me feel uncomfortable.  And that's probably the point.  Because for me, it's easy to see the work to be done and do it.  It stretches me more to make the small talk and ask the good and hard questions.  But washing dishes isn't what Jesus asks us to do.  He asks us to take the time to see the need, to see the person, and to be His hands and feet.

What about you?  How do you embrace and exhibit hospitality in your life?


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. 

Jun 13, 2020

Summer Goals

it's been an insanely rainy and blah kind of week here in pa, but the sun is finally peeking out and summer is just around the corner and i'm very happy about that!  i know that summer will just fly by, as it always does, so in order to get the most out of it, i've made a list of my summer goals, or things i'd like to see happen this summer.

by "community", i mean goals that i have for spending time with or doing things with or for other people…
travel!  day trips or long weekends…i want to get out of town this summer!
have good conversations…dig deep
go to a concert or two (starting with onerepublic at the end of this month!)
be an encourager
go on a few fun dates with aj
spend a lot of time with family

my personal goals revolve around things i need to do for me
read…work my way through my stack of unread books
take time each week to sit at a coffee shop and write/blog
get into a better devotional routine
knock a few diy projects off of my list
clean out and thin out my closet and room
save money like crazy
circle some big goals/dreams in prayer and see where God takes them!
learn to rest and abide
have tech-free days

i started setting some serious wellness goals for myself this spring, and i want to see those continue!
train for a half marathon (and run 13.1 by summer's end!)
eat better
adjust my mindset to stay inspired and motivated
workout at least 3x per week
go on lots of walks with aj
bike with my dad as he trains for his 150 mile ride this fall
juice a lot
wear sunscreen regularly

what are your goals for this summer?

Mar 25, 2020

Book Review // God is Just Not Fair

"if every need we have is met in god's grace, why are our burdens still so heavy at times?  if god's grace is really enough, why does it sometimes feel so inadequate?"

if you've ever felt the weight of a burden…an illness, an unanswered prayer, a worry or concern…then you may have asked god "why?".  in the past year, my family has done a ton of praying over the past year since my dad's cancer diagnosis.  and i'd be lying if i told you i never asked god why this was happening and declared to him that it was all just so unfair.  

life can feel really unfair sometimes.  for jennifer rothschild, unfair was losing her sight at age fifteen.  and i think that when someone goes through something like that, when they carry a burden, they have a choice to either believe in the grace and ultimate sovereignty of god, or to abandon belief in him.  

in her new book, god is just not fair, jennifer writes about what we do when things just don't make sense; about finding hope and grace and provision in those "why?" moments.  

one chapter that particularly hit home with me is the idea that god lends two kinds of grace that jennifer has named participant grace and spectator grace.  in my life, my dad is going through this battle, and god is lending him participant grace.  i'm the spectator, praying, trusting, and believing for his healing, and god lends me spectator grace to bear the burden as the spectator.  i, for one, am so thankful that god cares for all of his children…those going through the fire and those walking alongside the fire, spectating.

god is just not fair holds the truth that every "why" might not be answered, and sometimes, things just don't seem fair.  because sometimes, life tears a big hole in your blanket of faith.  but hope can be found in christ jesus.  and if anyone knows that, it's jennifer rothschild.  

i have felt so encouraged and cared for while reading this book.  jennifer writes from her heart, sharing personal anecdotes and encouraging those carrying a burden.  no matter where you are in life, chances are you've experience a time where you can related to life not feeling fair.  and whether you're in that place now, or god is leading you out of that place, there is truth to be found in god is just not fair.  

jennifer's writing has left me wanting for more.  preferably in the form of a good, long sit-down chat over a great cup of coffee where i can just listen to her share her wisdom.  

if you're looking for hope, wondering where god is in the midst of struggle, or walking alongside someone in the fight of their life, this book is for you.

want to know more about god is just not fair?
check out why jennifer wrote the book here and if you need more convincing, here are a few more reasons to by the book!

god is just not fair is available on amazon, barnes & noble, and christian book distributors

disclosure // while i did receive a free advance copy of god is just not fair, the views expressed in this review are completely my own.

Sep 29, 2020

Girl Talk // Tag, You're It!

One of my favorite things is giving someone a gift that I've put effort and time into.  I love Christmas morning for that reason.  I love even more when I can surprise someone with an unexpected gift.

When my dad was diagnosed with cancer back in May, we radically changed our diets.  My parents became avid juicers and smoothie drinkers, going for a very all-natural, vegan, mostly raw diet.  My mom would make smoothies for my dad in her little blender that she got as a wedding gift nearly twenty-eight years ago.  She mentioned wanting to save up some money and invest in a Vitamix blender, but kept saying things like "my little blender is fine!"

Knowing that she was trying to be a good steward of finances in a time of uncertainty, I decided to ask a few friends and family if they'd be willing to pitch in to surprise my parents with that Vitamix.  A few text messages later, I had more money than I even needed, and we were able to bless my mom and dad with something they now use on a daily basis.  Seeing the looks on their faces when I pulled that box out of the trunk was one of the best moments of my summer.

We're starting a new series at GT called "Others First in a Me-First World".  It's all about serving and all about putting others first.  As I've been interning with the Creative Planning team, I've been steeped in thoughts about service to others, how to encourage our church body to serve, and how I, personally, can serve others better.

Jesus provided us with the greatest example of service.  In John 13, he gets down on his knees, towel wrapped around his waste, basin in hand, and washes the feet of his dirty, travel-worn disciples.

My friend Courtney wrote this in her new book:
Do you know what I hear Jesus saying to the disciples in this scene's last words?  "Tag. You're it."  They sit down to dinner, Jesus performs an outlandish act of love, and then he says, "Tag. It's your turn now." Jesus knew that He was not going to be around much longer with skin on, so He made sure that they understood His vision and then said, "...you also should..."  Serving is the legacy that Jesus chooses to leave with His disciples.
When I was young, I hated playing tag.  I always felt foolish chasing aimlessly after others, trying with all my might to catch them just enough to tag them and pass the baton of being "it" onto someone else.

And in today's "me-first" world, it can often feel as if trying to appreciate and serve others is just like that game of tag.  We need to hurry up and get it over with and then we can sit back and relax; the pressure is off, we've paid our dues.

But what if we flipped that thinking upside down?  What if we found complete joy in serving others?  What if we were constantly looking for ways to serve another, to anticipate a need, to appreciate someone who needs to know they're loved?

Serving isn't always a fruitful task.  It can be dirty, thankless, and even downright unpleasant.  Those we serve may never even know us to be the servant.  There is a woman at our church who cleans our nursery on a weekly basis.  For years, she's come in during the week and wiped down everything, sanitizing toys and changing tables, cribs and rocking chairs, prepping it for the next round of babies who will be cuddled and cared for while their parents attend service.  No one ever sees her do this, there's never a fanfare of applause for this great act of love, but she's done it faithfully for years.

Sometimes, serving silently brings more joy than if we were to do it in front of thousands.  Living a life of service means a shift in worldview.  It means taking putting down the mirror and picking up binoculars; it means looking away from your own needs and focusing in on the needs of others.

My challenge to you is this:
Look for the people in your life who serve you.  Appreciate them.  And then live as if they've said "tag, you're it!", for Jesus already said it two thousand years ago, and if we ignore that commission, then we're missing the heart of the gospel.

Tag, you're it.

Mar 21, 2020


One of the perks of dating a worship leader is that I tend to be pretty in-tune with new worship music.  And a few weeks ago, Hillsong United released their newest album, Zion.  The fourth track on the album is entitled "Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)" and boy, it's amazing.  It's the type of song that makes me want to do a better job of loving Jesus and I've listened to it on repeat for quite a few car rides this week.

There is just so much lyrical gold in this song, but here are a few of my favorite lines:
I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours, and You are mine
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet would ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

AJ just led this song at our youth service this week and as he and I were talking about it afterward, he said something that got me thinking.  The song is based off of the story of Peter walking on water, which can be found in Matthew 14.  You probably know the story...Jesus walks on water and calls out to Peter to join him, so Peter gets out of the boat and starts walking until he gets scared, and he starts to sink.  But here's the little detail that I think packs a big punch.  In verse 30, it says "But when he saw the wind, he was afraid..."  Here's the thing.  If I'm Peter, I think the least of my worries would be the wind.  I mean, I'm used to being on a boat, a sailboat, no less.  Wind is a part of my everyday.  But that's what makes this so important...it was the little thing, the thing that he faced day in and day out, that ended up leading to him sinking.  

It just so happens that I'm also reading The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson right now.  He writes all about having big dreams that lead to big prayers, and his philosophy is that the bigger our prayer is, the bigger the glory to God is when He answers it.  And here's the connection with Oceans.  I think that big dreams and big prayers also require big trust.  It's so easy to pray the little everyday prayers, and often, those are stepping stones on the way to the big dream.  Batterson's claim is that we need to start defining the dreams that God has given us and circling them in prayer, believing God to fulfill His promises.  And I think there's a fear that goes along with praying circles around your biggest dreams.  Because not only is it a leap of faith to hope for the fulfillment of those dreams, but what happens when they come true?  It's easy to dream the dreams, but it's a lot scarier to actually have them fulfilled.  And praying big prayers around promises that God has given you means that they will be fulfilled, in His steadfast provision.

And that, my friends is why I love this song.  Because it holds the promise that God has made, that He hasn't abandoned us yet and He won't start now.  And it reminds of the hope we have in Christ, that if we abandon our lives to Him and follow wherever He calls, we will find rest in His presence and He will constantly challenge and stretch and mold us to greater faith and trust.

And of course, I couldn't talk about this song without sharing it with you guys.  It's long, yes, but SO worth listening to the whole thing.
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