coffee shop conversation

What do you see when you look at this photo? A coffee shop? A table and chairs? Space?

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This is a little spot in a local
Starbucks that I visit regularly.

And this little spot I notice often.

Years ago, before the days of iPhone cameras in our back pocket, I saw a grandpa and his little granddaughter in this exact place… I saw them enjoying their drinks and just hanging out. And I boldly walked over and told them that I SO wished I had my big camera with me so I could have snapped their photo. It was just SUCH a sweet moment between two people!

Now, every time I see this spot, I think of them. Since then, I have seen others enjoying time together at this same table. Conversations. Phone calls. Moms chatting with babies in strollers.

So last week, while waiting on my nonfat mocha, I had the presence of mind to grab that phone in my back pocket, and snap a quick pic of my sweet memory of a grandpa and his granddaughter simply enjoying each other’s company .

And today, when I see this photo, I am feeling something that has been stirring in my heart since a very wise and faithful person recently made the comment to me: we are supposed to live in relationship with others.

Relationship. It’s a huge piece to our overall well being. Quality time with others, genuine conversations in the good and the hard times, guidance from mentors, advice for those seeking, REAL WORDS. They all matter.

I am right in the middle of a bible study and am learning better how to discern God’s voice. He no doubt is reminding me about the importance of relationships in life. I see this photo and it’s a great prompt for me…. who can I invite for coffee? Who do I keep thinking about that I can reach out and text? To start a conversation with? What friend should I invite to join me in bible study or go to lunch and catch up?

I am SO guilty of retreating. As life gets busy and full, I tend to just spend my time alone. And don’t get me wrong, there IS a time and place for alone! But not at the expense of authentic relationships. And I think I sometimes let this happen. This coffee shop moment, I feel, is God telling me to listen to the words of my wise friend…. to remember the early morning coffee date between family, and to pursue authentic friendships and conversations with others. Invite them in. Lean in. And let God work in His ways.

Do you have a friend on your mind? Do you have a person you can reach out to invite in? Let’s all pursue that and live in relationship together. Genuine, authentic, meaningful relationship. It’s always worth the effort.❤

words matter

I was wide awake in the middle of the night with a restless puppy. If I get woken up like that, I’m up, at least for a good hour or two. #frustrating. So, I did a little Pinterest searching. Better than Amazon prime shopping, right?!😜.

I came across this great article about positive/negative words and how they affect plant growth. This experiment is not new- it has been around for a while and is a great illustration showing how words matter. How we speak to others matters!

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In the blog post I read, the author explained how the plant on the right was talked to with positive, loving, encouraging speech. In fact the container was even covered with positive words written out on it. On the left, the negative. Put-downs, hate, discouraging speech was spoken to it and negative written words covered the container. And you probably guessed how it turned out.

Our loving, good, positive words bring life to others. They build up and contribute to a life of thriving. And when we choose words that tear down? It’s stifles. It can make others feel weak. It takes life out of them.

This past week we have probably all witnessed this. It’s been a tumultuous week of feelings  swinging vastly on the pendulum of emotions. One simple click of “post”, “send”, “tweet” has brought forth words of all kinds. Words that encouraged, words that offended. Words that showed grace, words that ripped apart.  Words that left a sting.  Words that extended a branch.  Words that affected.

BUT… we often reflect outwardly what we struggle with inwardly. At least I do.

I had never considered this illustration with how I speak TO MYSELF.  I can be so guilty of this. I get in a routine and I do good with my healthy choices, my time management, my effort in relationships. And when I do, I feel good about myself. I speak nicely to myself. My inner voice is all rainbows and unicorns.🌈🦄  And I tend to approach things with that same attitude

But when any of those efforts slide? When I splurge on bad foods, skip the workout, spew forth a thought without thinking, or put minimal effort into my marriage or parenting when I know better?  I don’t cut myself much slack. I don’t extend myself much grace. And the negativity begins. My inner self-talk becomes putting myself down. I find fault with everything I do. The rainbows turn to clouds and unicorns to something more like angry birds. 🐤😡🐦 And I begin feeling a little like this withering plant. A little more lifeless, a little more crumbly.  And that is how I find myself living my day to day- with a negative vibe in things I say and do.

We, of course, need to pay attention to how we speak to others and always seek to speak words that bring life.  Words that show respect. Words that don’t intend harm. But… we often need to get to that place by first looking in.

Have you paid attention to how you speak to yourself? Being content on the inside means there’s a greater chance you will spread that joy and good feeling to others on the outside. As you try to be healthier, help others, and live better, are you considering your self-talk? It matters! When you stumble, remember… Be kind to you. Show grace to you. Love you! Be intentional about this. Practice this. Live this. The picture illustrates so well how you’ll grow and thrive when you do. And when you get your heart feeling good on the inside, it’s becomes so much easier to spread that encouragement outwardly.❤

color us healthy

It’s a new school year, and I’m trying to start the school year with #goals. As a family, we have worked all summer to cook together and try new foods… Mainly produce items and colors but we tried cooking some new dishes, too.

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This pic here is my attempt to track our efforts. Tracking has become a norm for me since starting weight watchers. This is just a tweak of what I’m doing on my own, really.  Every month we will use this board to keep tabs of what we cook and eat- the proteins and colors we use. We will either color in or write in what we eat… The goal to keep it balanced and get all the colors in.  If we are lacking somewhere, then we will hunt through my  cookbooks or Pinterest to find something we could try.  I have come to love having our girls in the kitchen with me.  It won’t be easy with all of our schedules, but I’m hoping this board will be a visual for me to make more of an effort.  We had some good bonding this summer over peeling, grating, sautéing, and stirring the roux FOREVER.  You can have some pretty awesome girl talk in the kitchen!  Sometimes they’re more willing to talk when you’re doing something while you chat. 😉

But in all honesty, in thinking this through, I realized I need to keep a focus on health being all-encompassing.  Because it is so much more than salads and smoothies, right?   So, we also added a workout pyramid that I adapted from the bible study “Fit to Serve”. It will be a guide to follow for how often we do different types of activity during the week.  I can already tell this will need tweaking as we go… But it’s a good place to start.  It should get them thinking a little less about couch time with candy crush and a little more about getting out and about with Pokemon Go!  Fingers crossed …

We also added a big noticeable part to focus on:  random acts of kindness.  There is a grid of ideas to get us started, but also blank squares where we can write our own onto sticky notes. In an effort to live well, it can become pretty easy to become self-focused. That is understandably so, but it really should be in balance. Getting yourself healthier is really just a basis to live and serve in the world better. My goal is to have us, as a family,  point our eyes outward into the world and see where we can add just a little drop of goodness towards others in our day to day lives.

And at the top… We will each pick a scripture for the month. Faith needs to be the foundation to it all. Each of us will choose one bible verse that we all will reference. So that means six bible verses for us as a family to learn about, talk about, and practice over the course of a month.

My hope and prayer is that we will stay focused and interactive with this. It’s a visible way to keep track of what we talk about often. We have four daughters that each learn in their own way.  Talking through things is good, but the visual of this is just another way to try and teach them how to live better…. to live well. I hope this helps develop healthier habits for all of us. It’s a way to be intentional, which is something I have been working on for awhile now.  I will follow up at the end of September with how we did.  #squadgoals in a mind-body-spirit kind of way.☺️

the living word

imageI spent time getting caught up on my Women Living Well (an Instagram community) Ecclesiastes study this morning and learning more about haste and contentment. Both are good words for me to focus on while on this specific journey God has me on, right here and now in 2016.

It’s SO easy to get caught up in the comparison game, looking at what others have, how quickly they’re losing weight, how far they can run or how fit they are, and how fun their social life/friends seem to be. And in playing that game it’s equally enticing for me to be rash in my decisions on what to buy, what to eat, the things I pursue and WHY I’m even pursuing them.

This morning, I sensed God steadying my heart with His words. I feel Him centering me (yet again!) in finding peace in letting Him guide my path, my daily steps I take each day.

I’m so glad I copied this Pinterest idea and added this Hebrews scripture to my outer bible pages. His word IS living and active. It does find me exactly where I am in life and help me discern what is in my heart and the plans He has for me… not what I want for me.

Help me to keep seeking you, God, and thank you for your words that feel written specifically for me this morning. ❤️

color my world

Color makes me happy.  I have never done a bible study (picture below) where I marked over the words of my bible so much.  I mean, I LOVE my journaling bible but pretty much stay in the margins.  Color coding so many different colors on so much scripture just felt a little weird when I started.  But then I realized, the whole reason I bought this bible was to get more hands on.  I wanted to write, takes notes, decipher, and learn in a way I hadn’t done before.  I wanted to step out of the box of how I had always studied.

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Seeing the pages of my bible so colorful makes me smile.  So much so in fact, that I decided I was going to try to add more color all throughout my day, to get out of my margins a little bit and be more hands on.  I want to color my whole day happy.

Below is a list of things that added color to my day… to the everyday.  Things that ordinarily seem mundane, but for today became a little more vibrant and noticed.

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1-I used one of my favorite coffee mugs this morning.  I bought it on a stop we made in Luckenbach, Texas on a girl’s trip.  I love Texas, I love country music, I love time with my girlfriends, and I love Willie Nelson’s songs.  I smile every time I use this mug, which was handcrafted by a local artisan.

2-I grabbed a different pair of tennis shoes to wear to my jazzercise class.  I haven’t worn them in forever because I prefer the fit of my others, but I love, love, love the colors of these!  Every time I looked down while teaching class, I smiled.  I’m happy to be back with my jazz friends, getting stronger each day, and working on my physical health.  Coming off of an injury, I am feeling grateful that I can exercise.  On a different note, yes those are mismatched socks in the worst way.  You can check out my thoughts on letting go and living surrendered on one of my earlier blog posts.  All because of a pair of mismatched socks.

3-I listened to different music on my way to class today.  My ipod is my lifeline for jazzercise.  It is loaded with SO many great songs that I get to teach routines to.  I skipped around my playlists, finding songs I haven’t listened to in a while.  Good music always makes you smile!

4-I brought my water bottle with me while I had to wait on an oil change at the car place.  Any other day the red blinds probably would have gone unnoticed as just part of the whole car waiting room décor, but for today, they make for a nice contrasting backdrop for my pretty blue water bottle (I’ve got a previous blog post about that, too!).  I mean, really, when is the last time I’ve seen bright red blinds in a window?

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5-I easily noticed the green summer grass!   I walked out to our back patio this morning, to water a plant that my mom gave me for Mother’s Day.  When I looked over to this exact spot in the photo, THERE WAS A SNAKE!  It’s head was sticking up from underneath the edge of the patio.  I screamed and he went back under as quickly as I could get back inside.  The part of this that’s outside of my margins?  I took this photo after GOING BACK OUTSIDE.  I faced a fear (felt a little heebie-jeebie-ish while I did so) but I got the plant watered.  It was the fastest watering job ever, but for now I’m calling it Me-1, Snake-0.

6-These simple containers will be filled tomorrow with fresh fruit for church on Sunday.  I helped start a health and wellness ministry at our church a couple of years ago.  It is something near and dear to my heart.  One part of what we do is provide healthy alternatives to donuts on Sunday morning.  I LOVE our MOVE Ministry- what we do, the people that participate with us, and meeting new friends.  It makes me smile OFTEN.

7- Laundry!  Typically I would look at this table covered with clothes that I need to fold and think, “ugh!”.  But today, I just noticed the COLORS.  99% of the time I don’t look favorably at folding clothes.  But while focusing on coloring myself happy today, and thinking OUTSIDE of my usual margins, I felt grateful for this variety of colors.  They represent four healthy daughters and a healthy hubby.

8-My lunch today.  Yummy!  I had fresh summer foods and a shrimp burger (my new favorite that I will be blogging about soon).  Eating a rainbow- from God’s garden, not a skittle bag- made me happy.  It made my insides feel happy.  And how lucky am I that I can get all of this right down the street at the grocery store.  🙂

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9- A lovely gray rain shower. Gray CAN be happy. Summer showers are perfect for snuggles and movies and forts. Even the pups like to get in on it. And it leads to…
10- Snacks! Yummy yogurt dessert to be exact. It’s been my go-to sweet treat since I started Weight Watchers.  You can’t see the chocolate chips in it but they’re a must. The pretty colorful flower bowl made it all cheery and good, especially on a rainy afternoon.
11-  Like they say, our kids- they’re watching us. This is my youngest lunch plate- she wanted to make it pretty and colorful “like mom does”. She even cut one of her strawberry slices into a heart. My older daughter also snap chatted me a picture of her pretty food plate. (But I’m new to SC and still learning the ins and outs and did not get a screenshot).
12- Riding shotgun. This one could be bittersweet if I let it, but I’m not. It’s happy in a different kind of way, a color I really  haven’t used before.  My oldest daughter now has her permit and is wanting to drive us EVERYWHERE. On one hand, it’s great to be chauffeured after 17 years of driving. On the other, we are now THERE…. watching our child gain her independence and confidence to go out on her own into the world. Today, I’m coloring my world with the joy of watching her blossom. I will cherish this sweet spot of her getting-ready-to-fly-but-not-quite-yet. And I will enjoy the ride.

Today was a good day.  I went about my usual habits and errands with an intentional eye.  I noticed things and paid attention.  Little moments, big moments, mundane tasks… the everyday.  It was all highlighted in different colors that meant something to me, just like the page in my bible.  Yes, colors do make me happy.  🙂

 

seasons of stories

“He made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he put eternity in man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11.

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I am loving the @womenlivingwell study! I am learning about Solomon and realizing how similar his story of seeking earthly joys seems to our world today. I came across this previous note I made in the margins of my bible. It is from a women’s retreat I attended a couple of years ago.

I relate to it personally, but I think it can relate to so many of our stories here. We ALL have stories. I love following all of the stories I see on Facebook and Instagram, on Twitter, and on the blogs I follow. I find myself  learning so much day to day. I see people who are real and genuine in their fails, and so inspiring and humble in their successes. Let’s keep sharing, keep living out and telling our stories. Every part of His story is important. Every part matters…. YOU Matter.

Here’s what my jotted down notes say- notes from an incredibly wise young speaker:
“Our stories are going somewhere on purpose! Some days I feel I may have a larger part of God’s story than other days, but to God every part is important. Every part is intertwined and interdependent. Even the smallest of “parts” can have an impact for years to come. I need to remember that.”❤️