30 May 2015

Finding Joy in Gratitude

How do you find joy in life?

I used to think to be joyful was about feeling happy and focusing on the positive, never feeling sad or upset. It's easy to find joy in the mysteriously beautiful things of life like the birth of a new baby or watching a spectacular sunset. But how do you find joy in everyday life? I have been finding joy each day in counting; counting small, precious gifts of gratitude.

Sometimes life is whizzing by at such a fast speed, that sometimes I actually miss out living and enjoying it. I'm so focused on the next thing I have to get done and check of my to-do list, that life starts to feel like an emergency. Ann Voskamp is well known for her teaching and wisdom in finding deep, lasting joy through thanksgiving and gratitude. Instead of racing through life, name and call to mind the grace moments of each and every day...no matter how big or small. For that is the real secret to finding joy and living a full life, when we are able to enter into the present moment God has before us. It sounds so simple, and yet is so difficult to live out sometimes.

It amazes me sometimes how when I'm cranky or angry about something, when I catch myself and start counting the gifts in my life my entire demeanor and perspective shifts. I am drawn outside of myself. I smile (a big smile!) as I recount and name all the ways God loves me. It changes me from the inside out and I find true joy, through gratitude. In finding joy all around me, I think I slowly and becoming more who God wants me to be in this life.

In January I came home from a retreat and began to start keeping a gratitude journal. It sits on my bedside table, and it has become part of my bedtime routine. Sure I don't do it every night, but it has become a part of my evening prayer time I look forward to. I sit there with pen in hand and re-live my day. I look for gratitude, beauty, and goodness. And I always find them, even when there is sadness or pain. True, lasting joy is not about "feeling" happy all the time. Real joy is about finding and counting the gifts of beauty in life, wherever God has you. As of now, my counting is up to 746. And what I'm learning along the way in counting gifts in my life, is that I am finding true joy through gratitude. I am always on the look-out now for gifts to count and celebrate.

Live fully...Slow down... Joy is always worth the wait.

22 May 2015

Free to be Me

It's time to start a revolution...time to set beauty free.
It's time to walk run away from the 'skinny-ish vs. fat-ish wars'

A healthy image of beauty has been sabotaged by images of photo-shopped models and diet food ads galore. Beauty is now defined by completely unrealistic expectations. As women, I think many of us (me included!) can struggle with putting unrealistic expectations on ourselves, sometimes to the point of total frustration or mental exhaustion. But when an entire culture bombards and constantly tells you are never enough the way you are? Well that can wear down your spirit and rob your joy something fierce.

I think one of the hardest, difficult, and most life-giving lessons I am learning in life is how to accept myself and love me just the way I am. It is a process for sure, some days are easier than others. I am learning not to use food to deal with my emotions but rather journal my feelings. I am taking so much better care of my body physically by running and training for a half marathon.  I am slowly ditching the negative self talk that used to be a mindless tract running through my brain.

Every day I have reminders on my phone for me to stop and pray throughout the day; sometimes I am just silent and other times I will say a prayer out loud. Over the last year I have been saying this one daily: "Jesus help me to see and love myself the way You do." Of course I am not advocating prayer as a magic cure-all for body image related issues. But ya know what? More than any other time in my life, I have really truly begun to believe that to the depth of my core. I am slowly learning to love the skin I am in.

I am free to be me.

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18 May 2015

Pig in the Post Office

Last week I had to hit up the post office. Of course I picked the busiest time of the day (lunch time), so I decided to make the best of it and start recalling the small things I was grateful for so far in that day.

I got in line behind a guy who looked to be about in his forties. 

He was wearing a Tiger's baseball t-shirt. When he turned around I noticed on the front it said "Wanna Score?" 

Really 40 years old and that's what you're wearing in public!? #pathetic. 

Once he turned back around I realized the back read, "Let's meet in the dugout!"

This goes for men too...(looking at you pig in the post office)

Now I consider myself a lady and perhaps one of the most feminine women you will ever meet, but it took everything inside of me to not tap this man on the shoulder and let this pig in the post office have a piece of mind. Maybe I should have something and maybe its good I didn't. 

But at the end of the day, this encounter only reaffirms to me that the whole free love/sexual revolution has only left men and women more hurting, confused, and broken on what healthy sexuality is all about. 
Am I being a wee bit judgmental? Okay maybe I am, but it just makes my blood boil something fierce. 

As a woman, I felt insulted by this immature and crude perspective of what appeared to be a grown man. Our culture is over sexed and over pornographied, and it is starting to catch up with us. 

Okay so maybe this guy I encountered at the post office is not a sex addict, but that shirt he wore sends a message of the perspective many people today have in regards to sexuality and relationships: sex is no big deal and it doesn't matter how you get it. 
As long as it makes you feel good, nobody gets hurt, right? 
I read a really good article recently on why watching porn is like eating a Twinkie. 

It makes perfect sense. All the fake, nasty chemicals of a Twinkie are no more different than the false, pretend feelings of viewing pornography achieves. And that t-shirt I saw is kinda like a Twinkie. It is a lie; a false misrepresentation of love, relationships, and healthy sexuality.
Sure I was frustrated, even a little pissed off, but deep down I just felt sad. 

Sad that a grown a$# man has this twisted perspective of women and sex. Sad that he represents the growing soul sickness in our world of men and even women who have turned sexuality into something it was never intended to be. 

The only way for evil to flourish and continue in the world, is for people to stand by and say nothing. In the end, I kept my mouth shut because I was fairly certain anything that came out would not have been very lady-like.

But still something to wrestle with and ponder over...

How would you respond in a similar situation? Would you have said anything or just ignored it?

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06 May 2015

Making Life Online Matter

Since the the start of 2015, I have slowly begun to evaluate how I spend my time and why. Giving life a closer look has been revealing to me the area's where life has become more mindless living instead living with purpose and intention. One the area's I have spent a fair amount of time with is looking at how and why I use social media. Am I using times of connectivity purposefully or just am I just endlessly wasting time?

Last week on the gram, there was a photo share going around of what is currently on your night stand at home. When I shared mine, one of the items was a copy of my social media mission statement. After promptings from Kristel and Lauren on what it was all about, I decided to share what its all about.

I have mentioned this book several times this year, and honestly it was where the idea of creating a social media mission statement came from. I have seen how using my online times of connectivity can actually be used on purpose, not just mindless fluff or trying to keep up with other people.

In her book, Lara writes: "I wrote down a clear mission statement for my social media use so that when I do go online, I know why: to encourage other people to know God. When I find myself wanting to quit the Internet again or slipping back into using it as an escape, I got right back to that mission statement to check my motive and get back to giving." source

Knowing the why behind what you're doing can actually make it more focused and intentional. So I am running and starting to train for a half marathon this fall. The why behind this goal for me is I want strengthen my body and prove to myself I can do this (even though there are certainly days I don't want to run!). Knowing the why behind any actions keeps you motivated. Keeping copies of my mission statement at my desk at work and on my bedside table at home are good reminders for me to always keep in check how I want to make my online life matter.

After really thinking about it, I knew these things were important and needed to be in my mission statement: I want my online life to make a difference and be purposeful...Through social media I want to empower and encourage others, not just mindless likes and scrolling...I want to be real, genuine, authentic, and glorify God. Now of course I don't do this perfectly, but when I do go online now, I have a better understanding of why. I am slowly learning how to use times of connectivity on purpose.

So in relation to blogging, know the why. Some helpful questions I found in writing my mission statement where:

  • What do I want my online life to be about? What is its purpose?
  • Why do you blog? What can you offer and share with your readers?
  • What gifts and talents do you have to share in the online world?

If you wanna see a copy of my social media mission statement, hit me up! I just didn't know how to attach a word file to a blog post. #nottechsavy

Would you add any other questions to the list? What is missing?
How do you strive to make your online life matter?

I am curious what y'all will have to say...

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