What Word will Define Your Year?

 
Last year, I started a yearly tradition for myself. I chose a word for my year. A word that would define and drive my goals and dreams. That word was: Brave. I needed lots of courage to do the things God was asking me to do and by naming my year, I felt pressure (the good kind) to live up to the word.

Up until the very last week of 2015, I was challenged to live up to the word brave. I was amazed at the things God did through me and for me, because of the expectation I set for my year. Naming my year also helped me bring down negative thoughts that crept up and it was a reminder that my year was defined by a positive affirmation and not a negative one. 

 

Well this year, I named my year Discipline and Overcome. Discipline in my eating habits. Discipline in my writing habits. Discipline in my work habits. Discipline with time management. Oh, and the list goes on and on. Overcome was a word gifted to me by one of my dearest friends. And it’s the word that will help me defeat the obstacles that I will face in 2016 while striving to be more disciplined.

I would love to hear from you on what word you have chosen to define your 2016. What word will drive your goals, dreams, and endeavors in 2016? Will you allow that word to be a positive reinforcement when negativity tries to creep into your thoughts? Do you believe that God will give you the power and strength to live up to your word? I believe He can and He will!

To help keep your word at the top of your mind, I would like to gift you with a free print with the word you chose for 2016. So, comment below with your word, to enter to win a print!

The winner will be announced Tuesday, January 26. Contest ends tomorrow, January 22 at 11:59 pm. Print will be handwritten, digitized, and will look similar to the artwork at the top of this post (frame not included).

Good luck!

How to Satisfy our Hearts Desire for More

“God, I know there’s more. Why do I feel so empty? I have everything I ever wanted and everything I need”. I prayed that with tears flowing heavily from my eyes. I had this feeling like something was missing, but I didn’t know what it was.

LeanIn_Artwork

Have you ever been there? How ungrateful on my part to feel discontent. At least, that’s what I thought. I have a roof over my head, never go without eating, a great husband, and amazing family and friends. What was wrong with me?

There was a longing in my heart that I couldn’t put my finger on. All the “things” I had, even the people in my life, couldn’t satisfy it. Feeling drained and tired, I cried out to God. “Whatever this feeling is, fill it with you, Lord”. At the time, I didn’t realize that’s exactly what God wanted.

The closer I got to Him, the more I stepped into His presence, the lighter and more joyful I felt. That burden and heaviness I felt slowly diminished as I listened to what God had planned for my life. I didn’t realize that the thirst I was experiencing was God himself drawing me to Him.

I have to admit that many times I try to dismiss that feeling by filling my schedule with more stuff to do. Or I avoid taking a moment to be with God, by being on my phone for hours. (By the way, why is social media so addictive?!) When we come face to face with God, there are things He wants to show us and maybe, just maybe, deep down, we are afraid to know.

The truth is that we all long for more. And we think that the “more” we desire will be satisfied by things or people. We see in the media, that celebrities, millionaires, the rich and famous have it all, but many are addicted to drugs or live promiscuous lives.

Some put their achievements and goals on a pedestal that only God should occupy. Our marriages, the people we love, can also start to occupy the place God is supposed to fill in our hearts.

The reality that I’ve come to discover is that the “more” we long for can only be satisfied by what God has for us. Stepping into His presence to hear from Him can totally be scary because many times His “more” doesn’t align with what we have put first in our lives.

Friend, I invite you to let go of your phone, laptop, open up your schedule and press into His presence. Lean into, walk in, run into His presence. There’s more for your life. Let go of the fear, of the excuses, the idols, and let Him satisfy your longing for more. What He has for you, is greater and grander than any plan, achievement, or material desire, you have in mind.


“The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when he delights in His way.” Psalm 37:23

“The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

Balancing Act

BalancingAct

Have you ever thought to yourself, “How in the world does she do it ALL”? That girl you wish you were like. She seems to have it all together. Her house is perfect, her hair is perfect, her pictures on Instagram are perfect, her fingernails are always done, etc, etc, etc. After a while, I just want to unfollow her because I feel like I can’t measure up. In reality, the girl we envy is going through the same balancing act we go through every day.

There are days, even weeks when I feel like I dropped the ball at home. I should’ve cleaned more, I should’ve cooked more, I should’ve been more respectful towards my husband. We really don’t get anywhere if all we do is analyze where we fell short. So how can we start getting better at having balance in our life? How can we be great students and still have time for family and friends? How can we be great wives and also make time for our household (without getting cranky)? How can we make time for our girlfriends, for our church, for our hobbies, without neglecting our family? These are all questions I’ve asked myself.

Here’s what I’ve found in my quest for balance:

We can’t do it ALL
I really think it’s a myth when people say that women can do it all. Perhaps we CAN, but should we? There is a time and season for everything under the sun (Ecclesiastes 3). Although we are more than capable to do it all, it’s not always wise to do it all. A good habit to form is to ask God if it is the time and season for something. Balance requires trust in God and surrendering our anxious thoughts of “needing to do it all” to Him.

Choose wisely
The girl that seems to have it all together probably chose her schedule wisely. She made priorities, decided what was a need, and removed the excess from her schedule. If you haven’t fixed your house all week, then it’s probably a good idea to clear out your Saturday morning and afternoon to get your house in order. My Monday nights (and some Wednesdays) are spent at church with my husband, so on his day off, Thursday, I make it intentional to not book anything for that day. Saturday mornings while he works, I hang out with friends, clean my home, or run errands. I’ve discovered that in order to have balance, we must decide what our priorities are.

Calendars are our friend
I put everything on my calendar. It may seem funny, but even nights when our favorite basketball team is playing is on my calendar. Because in reality, it’s not about what we are doing, it’s about the meaning and the importance of what we are doing. If it’s quality time with a friend, with a family member, if I’m serving at church, if it’s time to get my place in order, if it’s a priority, then I should treat it like an appointment at work. No excuses, I’m showing up!

Make time for yourself
When we make time to take care of ourselves, we are better equipped to take care of others and our responsibilities. Taking care of myself means spending daily time with God, reading for a bit each day, making something that ignites my creativity, and working out (which I’ve been really bad at lately lol). What about you? What does taking care of yourself look like? Make an effort to pencil that into your calendar.

As women, we have the ability to bring peace and joy into our home like no other person. If we take time to quiet our souls, seek God, and take care of ourselves, we will overflow with discernment and wisdom to have a balanced life.

P.S. Life is messy, sometimes we won’t have perfectly balanced lives. And that’s ok.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. -2 Corinthians 12:9-11 (NIV)

Mountain Top Experience

Camp2015_Collage

A couple weeks ago, the youth and young adults from my home church (Metro Life Church) went up to the mountains of Jasper, Georgia (at Sharptop Cove) to hear from God and have some good ol’ summer camp fun.

The sites were amazing, the food was mouth-watering (it wasn’t your typical camp food. It was homemade deliciousness), and the words/prayers that we were covered with were life changing. Lots and lots of people were baptized, we worshipped, we zip lined, we danced, and we shared the amazing things God has done in our lives.

My top 3 “takeaways” from camp are:

Be open and vulnerable
When God asks us to pray, to speak, to share, to listen, let’s just do it. And let’s do it with a humble and open heart. Sharing what God has done in your life can be scary and it takes vulnerability. But you never know who is listening. There are people needing to hear what YOU have to say.

Embrace the unknown
Going into an environment or place we’re unfamiliar with can cause us to put up walls and become isolated. But the unknown is a great place for us to discover what God wants to show us. The daily grind has a way of masking and muffling the voice of God. When we are in a new environment, with new faces, and new scents and new sites, our eyes are opened and our ears become alert. Let’s be willing to embrace the unknown so we can hear from God more clearly.

Make a remembrance
Whenever I travel or have an experience that marks my life, I make it a point to create a remembrance of it. This year I bought an arrow necklace at the camp site’s store that has inscribed “Be Brave”. It’s a reminder that I must continue to be courageous and do the things God asks of me. Going to camp was a step of faith. And by taking that step of faith, God used me and affirmed me in ways I wasn’t expecting. I also took a load of pictures to remind me of all the fun we had up in the mountains of Jasper, Georgia.


What experiences or trips did you have this summer?

Have you set some time apart to meet with God this summer? What are some ways you can do so before the hectic fall season starts?

Anchored by God-What’s the Connection?

As I started thinking of how we can live a life that’s anchored by God, I was reminded of the time that it took me to understand and actually walk this principle out. Living out my faith in God from ages 14-20 was a complete roller coaster for me. At times, I was devoted, and at other times, I was completely astray. I made connections with the wrong people and decided I wasn’t going to do the “church thing”.

But one night in my dorm room, a few months before turning 21, I told God I was completely exhausted and tired of living on a never ending cycle of devotion and unfaithfulness towards Him. I was at a point where the things I said I’d never do, I did. And the heaviness of being away from God, was getting to me. Well, God spoke to me so clearly that night. I will never forget it. He told me I was standing at a crossroads and I had to choose His way or my way. But I couldn’t be in-between any longer. That night I decided to get off the roller coaster I had been on for 6 years and decided to live a life devoted to God.

My heart was resolved, but I had to put action to my decision. Actions that before I hadn’t taken seriously. I believe the actions I took by faith, are the ones that have helped me stay connected to God. And they are the actions we as believers must take on a daily basis to be anchored by God.

So what are these practical actions that keep us connected and anchored?

1. The Church
1 Corinthians 12:12-28
Yes, going to church will keep us connected to God. The bible teaches us that we should not neglect congregating as believers. I used to say that I didn’t like church because people were judgemental and controlling. The truth of the matter is that churches are comprised of people. And people, including myself, are not perfect. There will be judgemental and controlling people at church, but there are also loving, generous, grace-filled people that help us walk out our faith. The church is not a building, the church is made up of the people that go to the building. It’s our duty to encourage the church to keep fighting the good fight of faith. If you’re alone on this, it’s going to be a lot harder to stay anchored. But if there are people encouraging you and inspiring you to “keep swimming”, it will be easier to walk with God.

2. God’s Word
2 Timothy 3:16 | Psalm 119:11
What does the bible mean to you? Do you take its words as truth or as simple suggestions? I would like to submit that the bible is our guide and ultimate truth. It is literally the words God speaks to us. If we need to know what to do with our lives, or the will of God for our lives, then we need to read His teachings. The bible, because it comes DIRECTLY from God, is our strength. When we are about to throw in the towel, God’s word gives us the strength, the knowledge, the understanding, and the determination, to stay anchored. There are so many verses of encouragement and so many promises for those who are living for God. God’s word is the love story of how God gave it all up, to give us freedom and life. No other story can compare to the one written in the Bible because it is not fiction, it is true and it is true because it comes from the very mouth of God.

Maybe all of this is foreign to you as you’re reading or maybe this is something you’ve heard so many times. If it’s new, don’t be overwhelmed. Take steps every day towards these actions. Take an online bible study, read a Christian book, or read a Psalm every day. And find a church that believes in and teaches from the Bible.  If this is not new to you and you’ve heard it all your life, then be encouraged to not grow weary. Take it up a notch. Make a commitment to dig deeper into God’s word and continue serving at your home church.


What are some practical steps you have taken to stay anchored by God?

Do you have to recommit to making God your anchor? Or do you have to make a decision to follow Him once and for all?