Coffee Break Thoughts from the Airport

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My job can be a little exhausting. Okay, sometimes a lot. We are a dedicated nonprofit with a small staff. I’m actually doing two jobs within the organization right now during a transition period.

Through my job, I am tasked with traveling sometimes. There are one-day trips to exhibit and then there are week-long trips for conferences. I have essentially traveled three weeks of the past month. I haven’t been home much and as I sit here in the airport waiting on a flight that won’t get me home until 11:30 tonight (then I have to drive an hour home), I think how fortunate I am to be able to travel alone.

I’m not sure if you’ve had the opportunity to travel alone, but let me tell ya… it makes for some serious self-reflection/processing time. As I walked every inch of the city of Louisville (and visited the underground speakeasy you see above) with no one but me, myself and I, I had the sweet, rare opportunity to really process where I was at and how I was doing in terms of life in general. I was challenged and reminded and affirmed of His love for me and plan for my life all at the same time.

I am exhausted and looking forward to some time at home for a long weekend before I fly out again two weeks from now. But I’m so thankful to have had that time to step away and be alone. I know the craziness of the holidays is soon upon us, but if you have the chance to carve out some alone time for yourself, whether it be a couple of hours or a whole weekend, I can’t encourage it enough! It was pretty transformative for me.

I am so overwhelmed and I am so thankful.

So here’s my question for you, friends, how are you doing, doing. Are you giving yourself the rest you need? Are you giving yourself the grace you deserve? I haven’t been.

There will be a million things telling you that you’re not doing enough or being enough or accomplishing enough. But you have one friend right here today telling you this simple truth… you already are. You Are. Enough.

If you’re like me and have a hard time believing that to be true of yourself, my challenge to you today is to pause. Give yourself the rest you don’t think you have time for because I guarantee you that you do.  There will always be a million excuses not to, but you know what I can promise? Life will go on. And you? You will be so much better off for it.

Go buy that Starbucks holiday drink and go on a walk around the prettiest neighborhood you can find. Or curl up on the couch and put on a Hallmark movie… and instead of checking your email inbox and finding other ways to do a million things at once, just watch. Light your favorite candle, put on your favorite worship song and spend thirty minutes journaling and pouring your heart out to the Lord. Replace one of the “to do list” things you feel like you have to do with something that brings you rest.

I know I know.. it goes against everything our millennial-multitasking minds tell us to do, and that’s the beauty of it.

Let’s fill this season with a bit more rest, ok?  That’s how I intend to round out the remainder of the year.

So before I step off my soapbox, let me just say one last thing. It is good to trust in the Lord. He is faithful, and He is the best author. Trust Him with your story, friend. In the valleys, remember there are so many pages you haven’t lived through yet, and remember that His love, which is so far greater than any love we’ll ever find here on this earth, will lead you through each one.

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I Hope I Call You

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This day holds a different gravity for all. I was in Birmingham waiting for my grandmother who was receiving chemotherapy at the time. Just a child who didn’t understand the impact of what I was watching on the television. The majority of us can recall where we were sitting when we heard.

Regardless of where we were that day, the resounding truth remains the same – in one single moment, your life may never be the same. 

What a day it is to honor those who lived and loved and fight for our freedom. My heart hurts at those still affected by the tragedies of this day. But what also hurts is the fact that sometimes, almost always, it takes a tragedy like this to remind us to cherish and enjoy every single moment. To really take in the air running through my lungs as I write this. To remind me to take a harder look at the smile lines on the face of the person I love, because it might be the last time I ever see them light up with laughter again. To cherish a kiss, to bask in the feeling as I snuggle with my nieces or to close my eyes and taste the warmth of my favorite cup of coffee.

The photo I included in this post, gets me every single time. Chills. I hope and pray Brian loved and prized Jules every second up until this moment. That the life they lived together with their family was full of nothing but precious memories for her to remember after he was gone. That they lived a life so full that it gave hope to everyone around them.

I sit back and think, am I taking even one second of my life for granted? Of course I am. We all do.

Ask yourself, “Am I living the life I love?”

If not, something has to give. It’s difficult to realize you aren’t living the best life possible. But boy, does it feel good when you take the steps to turn that around. When you take the steps to find your spark again and shine like you were meant to. It feels great when you sit back and soak in the moments and the people around you like never before because it feels like life couldn’t get any better.

Today and every day moving forward, I have to remember to make the best decisions based on my heart and what makes my cup full. I want to live my life to the fullest with the ones I treasure as long as I am here in the flesh.

Make that call. Send that text. Let them know how important they are to you.

You never know what tomorrow brings.

 

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Don’t Ya Wanna Be Happy?

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As I realize we are already almost in August, I sit back and think about the days of the past few months. Sometimes we have really amazing days, most days seem to be just okay and of course, we have those days where nothing seems to be in our favor.

I’ve had a TON of those days lately. Even when I try to proclaim the day and change my mindset, it seems I just can’t change the pattern of my days lately.

I got tired of being the same. Of things not changing. So instead of staying stuck in how I feel, I have decided to get out of the WAY for the next 6 months. To allow Jesus to move in my life and take me down the roads I need to be on.  But I know this will only truly work if deep down I WANT to be happy and joyful.

Some people are satisfied with constantly having mediocre days and be consistently pessimistic. You KNOW those people. Someone is coming to your mind right now. Once I caught on to the fact that nothing could change until I understood I had to step out of the way and allow Him to do the work.

A few things I need to remember as I embark on my next 6 months that I thought you might find helpful as well:

  1. You are NEVER too far away. Stop listening to the voice that says you’re too far gone because that is a lie. The Lord wants nothing more than for you to come running to him!
  2. Invite others in. Having a group of girls who know you and can consistently push you towards Christ is the biggest blessing and a crucial part of one’s walk.
  3. This sounds elementary and maybe old school and boring, but I’ve seen it in my own life and countless others. The main way to grow in your faith is to study the word of God daily. Not just a devotional. The actual bible. It is life-giving, transformative, and so much more than a collection of old stories you’ve grown up knowing by heart. I’m working on Without Rival by Lisa Bevere and the Unshakeable devotional currently.

 

A BIG part of this journey is remembering that every single day won’t be PEACHY. That there are days that will still get the best of me. But that’s okay. Because I will be fine in the end.

 

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The B Word

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As many of you know, I recently entered the world of non-profit work. I have been with this organization for two whole months now. Time goes by quickly when you’ve got work to do and lives to change.

In the communications industry, people tend to shy away from nonprofit work. They tend to only focus on the amount of work, but never the impact of our work. As a staff of four amazing women currently, the workload can be intense as we set out to improve the quality of life for all children in the state of Alabama. But at the end of every day, I know the work I put in is for the greater good — and for that very reason it is all worth it.

In the organization I work in, we try not to say the word busy. We instead are diligently working, actively engaged in our work, engrossed in the issues our children are facing or just plain HUSTLIN’.

So, for the past two months, I have been trying to shy away from the word busy. We are so caught up in this lifestyle of being busy, heck, we even make it seem glamorous. We get so busy we don’t have time for the things that matter most — loved ones, our relationship with God, self care and a good night’s sleep.

Maybe you’re a type-A overachiever. Or maybe you inevitably end up with a to-do list that won’t end. These days, just about all of us accept our busyness with combination of pride and exhaustion.

Busyness brings worry. The more I worry, the less I look at Jesus and more and more at my situation. Instead of saying “God, I have a lot on my plate right now and I could use your strength to help me get through today,” I rely on my strength. Worldly strength that tends to get me nowhere but burnt out, tired and falling asleep on my laptop in bed (who am I kidding, I do this always).

Busy can beat upon us like a drum. When those closest to us have stopped asking for our time, it’s because they know we are too busy for them. That’s crushing to the heart. We all need “waiting” time, whether we think we do or not. Waiting time is when we say adamantly, “It can wait!” and we step back and do what is really important.

I’m here to remind you (and myself) not to get caught up in the kind of busy that edges out intentional living. Sometimes your busiest, hardest-working, least-restful periods of your life are not your most purposeful, or even most productive.

I know deep within my heart that being overloaded is a way for the enemy to distract me from those most precious to me. The storm that rages inside me is shouting, “Slow Down!” and demands my attention. But if I heed that call, the Creator of peace will shower me with a peace that surpasses all understanding if I just trust him. The fragrance of grace and mercy will overflow in me when I come to peace with being less busy.

One thing I have to remember on a daily basis is that wait is not an ugly word and “busy” is not a spiritual gift. After all, God says in Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God.” Isn’t being still waiting? When you have a personality like mine, it’s hard to be still, but it is only during those moments alone with God that I can truly feel a peace that surpasses all understanding. Busy is the enemy of joy. Busy steals precious time. Busy robs my blessings.

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Date Night

Words are my love language. But quality time comes in at a close second. Although my boyfriend and are technically long distance, I am grateful we get to spend a good amount of time together weekly. I cherish our time together always, even if we’re just watching an old movie I’ve never seen and he’s filling me in on what’s going on.

Sometimes I enjoy something a little different than the normal however. I like date nights. They don’t always have to be to nice restaurants-but it is fun to get dressed up more than normal for the night!

He surprised me by taking me to a steakhouse we’ve been talking about going to forever. I had seen pictures of the steak and potatoes and they were drool-worthy. So we made the drive and it was absolutely worth it. Plus it gave me the chance to dress up in a few new things from my favorite local boutique, True South.

I picked up an open back sweater and a brown corduroy skirt I had been eyeing on their Instagram for a while. I paired it with these Target over the knee boots and it worked perfectly for dinner and meeting up with friends later. (Photo creds to my sweet boyfriend)

What’s your favorite date night activity?

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Cold Weather Comfort Food

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It’s been unusually cold here in Alabama lately. So cold, I don’t even get that warm and fuzzy feeling from my coffee in the mornings. For a while, it didn’t even feel cold enough to wear sweaters. Now I can’t layer enough clothing to stay warm.

I don’t know about you, but this kind of weather makes me want to just stay in and cuddle up in my favorite chair with a fuzzy blanket and watch Hulu. Typically I will muster up the energy to brave the cold and go to the gym after work. There’s no better motivation to get through a good workout than knowing you have dinner waiting and ready for you at home. Y’all know what I’m talking about-using your CrockPot. 

Slow cookers are the easiest way to have dinner done when you come home after a long day. Or for mamas who are so busy chasing babies they don’t have time to cook a full meal. Or for basically anyone. If you don’t have a slow cooker, go get one now.

My go-to recipe for this time of year is a Chicken Taco Chili. I love it and it’s been a hit with many others I have made it for. Pair it with crescent rolls or garlic knots and you’ve got yourself the perfect comfort meal.

Ingredients

  • 1 16-oz can black beans
  • 1 16-oz can kidney beans
  • 1 16-oz can tomato sauce
  • 2 14.5-oz cans diced tomatoes w/chilies
  • 2 small cans of corn kernels
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • Half of one onion chopped (option)

Combine all the ingredients and seasoning (I throw in salt, pepper, garlic powder, etc… Basically whatever I’m feeling or know I like.) Place the chicken breasts on top and cover. Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 6. A little before serving, remove chicken and shred. Return chicken to slow cooker and stir in. Top with fresh cilantro, shredded cheese, and/or sour cream.

It might be one of the easiest/cheapest/tastiest recipes I keep in my favorites. Plus it lasts me for days which is great for a girl on a budget!

Give it a try and let me know what you think!

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New Year, New Me?

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As 2017 comes quickly to a close, (no really, where did this year even go?), and I begin to think about 2018 and my goals and dreams for the year, the things I want to happen, the relationships I want to flourish, the tasks I want to cross of my list, God is telling me to slow down. He’s telling me to slow down because a year from now I’ll be sitting here writing the same thing. Wondering where the year has gone while I look back on photos of the memories this year holds.

You see, it is so easy to get caught up in the list making, the telling God what you want or need to happen, the thoughts that sound something like, “If only this could happen in 2018, I will be truly happy.”

Trust me, I did it about five minutes ago. I know where you’re coming from. This year has been a year of change and learning. Learning a lot about myself. Learning that the joys in this life come from the people you share the simple, small things with. Joy doesn’t come from getting a new home or a big raise. It comes within the day to day moments spent drinking your favorite coffee or seeing your sweet baby take their first steps.

God is telling me “I bless you far more than you dare to ask.” See God has a good sense of humor. As I write my monthly goals, budgets, and to-do lists for the upcoming year, He’s laughing because he knows He already has every single item already checked off the list. God is telling me He’s going to bless me with things I couldn’t even fathom to scribble in my 2018 planner. Things and people and moments I will never know I needed until God places them in my life. All my worries and concerns are already taken care of for the next year, God has already worked them out before they even settled into my heart.

Now I’m not saying anyone is in the wrong for planning what you want to achieve in the next year or setting resolutions-nope, not at all. But I am telling you God has spoken peace over every single thing already.

This year has brought some amazing things my way-most importantly some amazing people that bring my life so much joy and laughter. I get caught up in stress and boy do I forget to cherish them and all they do for my life. I don’t give them, or God, enough credit for the impact they’ve made on my life.

Friends, instead of spending your last few days of this year huddled over the budget sheets and color coded lists, worrying about how to become the “new you,” relax and relish in all that God has done for you this year-both big and small. All the times you felt like you were never going to see the other side of that dark hole, but here you are, on the other side. See God doesn’t need or want there to be a new you, He loves us just as we are.

Sit back, because God has your back and He’s going to bless you far more than you could ever imagine in 2018. Don’t dread the start of a new year, be thrilled to tackle it with God by your side.  I am so excited to see what He has in store for myself and each of you.

 

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