Sunday, August 24, 2014

The 5K Finish Line

Last week I participated in my first official 5K. The "Running of the Camels" 5K. Of course, for me, it was more like the "Powerwalking of the Camels". 

We had a team of friends, colleagues, professors, etc. that banded together for the 8 a.m. stroll around campus. We walked. We jogged. We joked. We talked. We laughed. We may have complained a time or two. We watched as students lapped us and finished in less than half the time it took us. But we pressed on. 

It was worth it for the camaraderie. To say that I had done a 5k. To be a part of a tradition. To get a free t-shirt. But there is one moment that really left an impression in my mind and heart...

We reached Campbell's track, and I thought that was it. I could see the finished line. 
And then someone announced that we just had to go around the track once. Seriously. Oy. So Dr. Williams and I preceded to jog and pant our way around the track. 

Then I got one last burst of motivation. The finish line was in sight. And I literally got chills as a group of people I knew and some I didn't know stood around the last leg and the finish line and cheered me on. Cheered me home. Cheered me to the land of rest and water and fresh fruit. It was finished. Mission accomplished. 

As I crossed the finished line, people cheering and a feeling of accomplishment settling in my blissfully exhausted bones, I thought of heaven. And I thought of one of my favorite passages of scripture. 

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame,and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." 
Hebrews 12:1-3

Sometimes life is hard. There are hills and bumps. Sometimes we go it alone and many times we're blessed to have people to talk to, laugh with, catch our breath with. Sometimes your endorphines kick in and life is good, sweet, rich, even easy. And sometimes you feel like you don't have the strength to make it the last stretch. 

But then there are people cheering for you. People who love you. People who have struggled and triumphed with you. People who have gone before you. 

And Jesus is there.
 You lock eyes with Him, and no weight or heaviness or sweat or breathlessness can slow you down. He's cheering you on. You have a purpose. You have a mission. You can get rid of the burden and run with joy.

What a beautiful image. Jesus is cheering for you. He's been there. He's successfully completed the race. He can relate. And now He's cheering you on. Don't give up! 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Making a Menu

I'm sure most of you know by now that I love organization, planning, to do lists, etc. It's a problem. But it's also a solution. I like to know exactly where I'm going to be four Wednesdays from now, and what I'll be eating. Again. It's a problem.

With that being said, every since I've been married, I've kept a blackboard weekly menu. Normally, on Friday or Saturday night, I'll think through the menu for the next week - googling ideas, looking at my pinterest boards, sifting through cabinets and the fridge - and write it down.

This is such a big help - it saves time, money, thought, calories. It helps me think through each meal - instead of just rushing through it. It helps me make sure I don't cook chicken three nights in a row or have potatoes as a side item all week. It allows me to choose a healthier lunch if I know I'm going to be eating a high calorie dinner - and vice versa. 

Most months I try to actually plan out my meals for the whole month. It may seem crazy - but all you have to do is open up/print out/write down your calendar for the month and then think through meals you've been wanting to try. Be creative. Make Wednesday night taco night if you want. Make Friday night pasta night. You can make Sunday fish day. Whatever is easiest for you. 

Seriously. Planning your meals for the month will help as you jot down those grocery lists. When you don't feel like coming up with something to cook that day. It will give you a chance to try new recipes instead of falling back on your go to meal every week. 

And I never actually follow my planned monthly meals 100%. Probably not even 80% of the time. Things come up all the time. And sometimes I'm just not in the mood for what's on the calendar that date. But having a map of meal ideas - a go to list of options - helps me plan and prepare well-rounded, not-last-minute, not-resorting-to-fast-food-fallbacks meals. 

So when September rolls around pull up pinterest, get out your pen and plan! 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Managing Success...Successful Managing

At almost 26 years old, I am thankful for the responsibility and success God has afforded me in my career and personal life. 10% of the time, I feel like I have it all together. 90% of the time, I feel like I don't quite know what I'm doing and have that nagging feeling that I'm missing something big. Whispered prayers, an honest smile and a positive spirit can overcome the learning curve and many mistakes! 

One blessing and curse that God weaved into my fabric is a Type-A desire to be organized and scheduled. And thank God He put people in my life who would put up with my vacation itineraries, multiple calendars, menus, and extensive budgets.

With all that said, I do have a little Type-A advice for how to better manage your time and make the most out of your life - whether you are an I-even-put-showering-on-my-to-list control freak like me or someone who has never kept a schedule in their lives... Hopefully these points will encourage you. 

Know your priorities 
 Know what your life priorities are (God, family, friendships, your church, missions work, growing in a career, etc.) and then also know what your priorities in a certain season of life are (a specific project, a sick relative, starting a family, planning a wedding, working towards a promotion, getting used to a new job, etc.). Write these down. Have them ever-present in your mind. Discuss them with your spouse or a close friend or relative. And then focus on your priorities. This will help you make a decision when two events happen on the same night or two people need your attention. This will help you focus on what you want your life to be about. 

Know how you spend your time
What did you do today? Do you feel like you made a difference? Did you use your time wisely? We are all given 24 hours a day, 168 hours a week - and God has given us a specific time on earth. Don't waste it. A good exercise is to keep a record of all the big things you did in a day. Things that matter to you. Things that mattered. This will show you where your priorities are, where they should be and help you reevaluate how you spend your time. 

Set goals 
Daily goals. Weekly goals. Seasonal goals. And life goals. Goals are how you live out your priorities. How you control your time, instead of your time controlling you. Honestly pray about what God has for you in this area. Make your goals attainable. Substantial. Know what your seasonal goals are, how they work towards your life goals, and then use your weekly and daily goals to make those happen. You can set a handful of broad goals or have a more specific task-by-task to do list. 

Remember what matters
This is hard for me. I am a Martha through and through. Sometimes I have to make myself (using every clinched tooth I have) be more like Mary. If there are dirty dishes but Derrick wants to show me something, I have to remember what matters, take a deep breath and do the dishes later (or do them really quickly and then give him my full attention ;)...okay, not my point). If I have a deadline at work and a student walks in, that student deserves my full attention. They matter. 

Know your strengths and weaknesses
God made us all different, unique, strong and weak. I'm good at being organized and love making calendars and lists. I'm not so good when things change. I'm good when I get in the groove, owning a project, my music playing in the background. I struggle in group tasks and team projects. I'm good at connecting with people, but sometimes I let my nagging to do list keep me from really peeling back those layers. I like writing, cooking, cleaning, walking and studying the Bible. I'm not crafty, I can't paint, I don't run or play sports, and I get bored trying to how to do something new. 
Know your strengths and weaknesses. And be okay with who you are and how God made you. But never stop growing. 

I hope you'll get out a notebook and a pen this weekend and think through how you can better manage success (success in your life, with the skills and responsibilities God has given you - not the world's definition of success) and be a successful manager of the time and resources you have. 

And if you made it this far - and are still reading - thank you. Thank you. Thank you! I never feel worthy for people to actually read the whole thing! 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Just Move

About a month ago, I made a resolution to move. Move a little. Move a lot. Just move.

I would love to say that I walk 4 miles a day. Heck, I'd really love to say that I was one of those people who woke up every morning at 5 a.m. and ran 10 miles with a sports bra, matching sneakers and a smile. But that's not me.

I resolved to try to move a little 5-6 days a week. Sometimes that looks like a 1-2 mile walk around campus. Sometimes it's pushing myself to do 5 miles on a Saturday afternoon. Sometimes it's walking around downtown on vacation with my husband or playing frisbee for 30 minutes in the backyard. Sometimes it's a 20 minute yoga or pilates video at home. Most of the time it's somewhere in between all that.

It's not about how you move - or even how long you move (although I would advise you to aim for 20 minutes or more 3-5 days a week).

- Join a yoga or pilates class.
- Find a nature trail near your home.
- Walk around the neighborhood with friends.
- Play a game of basketball with your kids.
- Go on an evening bike ride with your husband.
- Go hiking with your family on the weekends.
- Wake up early and do a prayer walk.
- Find your favorite treadmill or elliptical at the local gym.
- Find workout videos on youtube for free and work out at home (Leslie Sansone is great for beginner walkers and Tara Stiles for beginners in yoga).

This week, I encourage you to make a motion to move.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

It's alive!

This is not at all what I was planning to write about today but...
In the quiet moments of life, I have a habit of overthinking...and on the way home today I overthought a thought that made me really excited. The kind of excited you get when you have a brilliant idea when you're lying in bed at midnight, that may not seem quite as exciting or brilliant when you wake up the next morning. 

Just go with me here. I hope you think it's exciting too. 

Think of a TV show, movie, song or book that causes you to get lost in its story. It takes you away. It gets you excited, emotional. Maybe it's an epic love story, a sappy drama, a historical fiction, a dramatic battle, an underdog story...but, when the movie, song or book is finished - you feel inspired. 

And then...nothing happens. 
It's not your love story. It's not a war you're fighting. It doesn't involve you really in any way at all. It's not happening to you. Sure, the story decided to share itself with you - but it didn't invite you to be a part of it. 

How cool is it that the Bible - and worship songs that put the Word into emotion - is different. It's an EPIC tale of war and romance, struggle and temptation, sin and forgiveness, redemption and love. It's a page turner. An emotional inspiration. And songs about it can bring joy to your heart and tears to your eyes in pure worship.

And you're invited to join the story.

It's real. It is your love story with God. It is a war that you're a part of. It involves you. It's happening to you. The "happily ever after" is an open invitation to anyone who wants to submit to God's love and the epic love story if for those who are a part of the Bride of Christ. 

The Bible is alive. The stories, the truths, the people within it's pages are real and relevant to you. The climax and the finale are all an integral part of your story. 

And that, my friends, is pretty cool. 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

She's back!

I have missed you, dear friends. And missed sharing my heart with you. I could say that life has been too busy the past six months and, while it has been busy, I guess I just haven't made writing a priority. I am happy to be back, with no promises of blogging often. I'm going to do what I can.

I believe that everything should have a purpose, and I want to be purposeful to use this blog to encourage women as women, wives and daughters of the King.

In an effort to hold myself accountable, I've created four categories/labels/topics for my posts. And, if things don't fit one of these four categories, I'll try to not waste your time with it. I want to speak truth and encouragement into your life and make this blog about me and you. 

HomeMade - Thoughts and tips regarding how to run your home with organization, wisdom, yummy food and happy times.

His Word - I believe God uses my strong love for studying His Word to help grow my spiritual gifts of knowledge and wisdom - although most days I don't feel very wise or knowledgable. I can't wait to share my journey with you.

Personally - Encouragement from me personally - as a woman, wife and friend - to you personally - as a woman, wife and friend. Including struggles, stress, hobbies, exercise, and anything else that I can share from my personal journey to encourage yours.

His, Hers and Ours - Marriage! One of God's biggest blessings and something I love to write about.

Can't wait to grasp your hand and begin this journey together...again.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

March Madness

No, not that March Madness. 
 Basketball is not what has inspired me to blog again.

I'm pumped about March, because it's going to hold some pretty epic things. 

First bonus, fresh off the heels of two big events, is that there are no events at work in March, but lots of groups and one-on-one visits - which I love!

Derrick and I are heading to South Carolina to visit our wonderful friends Allen and Sara. They're the kind of friends that we can go on adventures and explore new places with or just stay in our pajamas and play board games. I think God gave Sara the gift of hosting. Their home is always warm and cozy, candles burning and fresh fruit or chocolate chip cookies waiting to be eaten. We're pretty excited to see their new house and explore Asheville, NC with them! 

 Any day this month (they're aiming for the 19th) I could become an "aunt"! My best pal since 4th grade is having her first baby and will bravely be the first in our tight knit group to become a mom. I don't think I've wrapped my mind around how this is or isn't going to change everything, but I do know that Whitney and Aaron are going to be great parents. I'm definitely not ready to have my own child, but I'm really excited to meet and love on Graeme! 

Oh yeah, my husband turns 26 this month. Which is crazy. I'm so excited to celebrate him and the fact that on March 25, 1988, God decided to bless the world and change my life forever (I wasn't born yet, but you know what I mean).

And, to end the much-anticipated month, on March 31, NeedtoBreathe will be in the Creek, and Derrick and I are going with some dear friends from Hope. The cool thing is that we met those same friends for the first time at a NeedtoBreathe concert at the DPAC in April last year. Happy friendship anniversary, Gores!

(And speaking of anniversarys - Happy one year anniversary to John and Jessica Sierra.
I can't believe it's been a year since your fairy tale wedding!)

Friday, February 7, 2014

Praying through Proverbs 31

Prayer has always been a struggle for me. It's natural for me to talk to God throughout the day - in short "thank yous" or "be with me nows". But it's hard for me to have a focused, disciplined, meaningful prayer. 

Keeping a devotion and prayer journal has helped a lot. I'm a writer by nature - so having somewhere to record my prayers is good for me. Plus, I love going back and seeing answered prayers or growth in my relationship with God. 

I still don't often pray like I should. Two weeks ago, as I finished the book of Proverbs, I lingered in one of my favorite chapters in the bible - Proverbs 31. A chapter that I've read and studied and tried to emulate for years. 

This time, as I made a list of characteristics of the Wife of Noble Character, I decided to dedicate some time to praying through Proverbs 31. 
It was awesome. A relationship-changer; both with me and God and me and Derrick. 

I've included how I divided it by days below, adding a little detail on how I turned the verse into a prayer. I would encourage any woman reading this to take 9 days and give it a try. 

V. 11-12 
I prayed that I would be a wife that Derrick would have full confidence in, trust completely. That I would always bring him good and never harm. That I would be protected from temptation and use my words and actions to always support Derrick. 

V. 13-15
I prayed for the strength, energy and wisdom to work hard in all I do. And I prayed that I would use my skills and talents to provide for my home, my husband and those that God has given me to love on. 

V. 16-18
I prayed for wisdom in earning and spending money. For guidance in being a good steward. That I may use my career, my skills, my passions to provide financially. And I prayed for dedication to take care of myself - physically and otherwise - so that I might be prepared for the task at hand.

V. 20
I prayed that I would see those in need and have the heart to love them, reach out to them and give up my resources to care for them. That Derrick and I would have a heart for ministry together. And that God would open my eyes to ministries I can help.

V. 21-22
I prayed that I would always be prepared, and have a home and family so well-taken care of that we're ready for whatever may come our way. I also prayed that I would always dress appropriately and take care of my appearance as a representation of Derrick and our family. 

V. 23
I prayed for Derrick's job, his passions, his videos, his heart, his mind. For him to be able to find success and satisfaction in his work - and use his skills and talents to impact people for the Kingdom. 

V. 24-25
I prayed earnestly that God would grant me the grace, wisdom and skill set to provide for my family. That I would have such a heart for Christ and wisdom in providing and preparing - that the Green family could stand up against adversity and have joy in whatever comes our way. 

V. 26-27
I prayed that I would be someone others can trust. That I will have wise insight and speak caring and uplifting words to all around me, especially those in need of encouragement. I prayed that friends and family would find refuge in me and my home.

V. 29-31
 I prayed for my possible future children - and for preparation, strength, wisdom and joy as a mom. I prayed that I will take care of myself physically but focus on my relationships with God. That God will intervene in my life in a big way and use me as a wife and woman for Him. I prayed that I won't be full of myself but that I will be the kind of person that other's trust and admire. 

She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Series of our Friendship

A few weeks ago, while waiting on my husband to come to bed, I went on a long rabbit trail. And ended up looking at ALL my Facebook photos. It was a lot of fun, actually – and it took me back to some really good times.

I realized that these five years of pictures and many, many happy memories and wonderful moments– of graduations, weddings, bridal showers, game nights, dinners out, Christmas parties, double dates, etc. – represents the third book in my friendship with these amazing ladies. And how rare and blessed that is.

  I was looking at all the photos, and reliving all the memories…then it occurred to be that this was just a tiny piece of our story together.

A lot of friendships are a book with many chapters. You are childhood friends or high school friends, or maybe you meet in college and go on crazy adventures together, or you may meet at work or church or through a friend of a friend after you become an adult and get settled in life or you might meet in a mom’s group once the little ones are around. And then the story of your friendship happens – set in a specific time and place, a book with many chapters.

But with Whitney, Bethany, Cari, Carrie, Jessica, Jessi, and Ashley – our story is a series. See, for many of us, we became friends in elementary school or middle school, all of us forming a tight bond by high school. We had sleepovers, celebrated 13th &16th & 18th birthday parties, participated in the senior play, went on class trips, got pumped up for homecoming, hung out together at the Junior/Senior, had silly adventures and the best of inside jokes. I’ve got scrapbooks and boxes of memories from that amazing journey. Our first book – a long one – ended with a tearful graduation but excited anticipation. 

Then college came, and our second book started. We were spread from Arkansas to Ohio and many places in between. But we still found time to get together on fall breaks, Christmas break, summer break – catching each other up on majors, new guys, new friends, strange adventures, big mistakes, studying abroad, missing home, break ups and makeups,  etc.  We found time for summer ice cream, winter road trips, coffee breaks, double dates, New Year’s eve celebrations. That book probably ended around the time some of us stopped dating the wrong guy and quickly met the right one…near our college graduation dates.

Then Bethany got engaged. We threw our first lingerie shower and took pictures at our first wedding. And the third book in our series began. A time of finishing (multiple, in some cases) degrees, graduating from college and settling into careers.  Job searching and wondering where God was leading us. Coming home or finding new homes. First apartments and first houses. Falling in love with the right guys, engagements, bachelorette parties and weddings. Christmas parties, coffee dates and game nights, pinterest pinning, and settling into adulthood.

And last night we celebrated the prologue to our next book. I have a feeling that the first chapter will be titled “Graeme”. And it’s going to be a definite page turner.

God has been so good. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Happy by my side ♥

I was just looking through my old blogs from years past - and I realize I wrote about marriage a lot. Reading my words, my thoughts, my moments brought back such precious memories! And I figured a post with unsolicited advice and thoughts about marriage is long overdue.

After two and a half years of marriage, Derrick and I are in a really good place. Like with any relationships, there are days that you exist together, go through your routine and love each other. And then there are days that you laugh and talk and dance and touch and connect and LOVE each other. Derrick and I have been having a lot of talking and giggling and dancing days lately but, like everyone else, we have our normal days. And there's a beauty in those too.

Here's the advice you've all been waiting for (*sarcasm*) in regards to making your marriage an abundant one.  

Marry your best friends or be best friends with the one you marry
It makes life so much easier when you marry your best friend. The person you naturally have fun with and can have fun with doing anything or nothing. If you are married and aren't best friends, make an effort to get to know and enjoy each other that way. 

Find joy in the little things
Most of life is the little, every day things. Most of life is TV and grilled cheese. Most of life is laundry and dishes, double dates and family night. Make sure you can find the joy in doing a snow dance, watching your new netflix show, waking up next to each other, fast food after church, notes packed in his lunch...

Honestly there are a lot of days where Derrick and I just talk on the surface - about work or plans for the week or what's for dinner. But there are some things we consistently talk to each other about; we always talk about additions to the calendar before we confirm, big purchases before we buy, big decisions before we make them... And sometimes, when I'm not expecting it, we find ourselves in deep conversations about God or marriage or friendships or kids or careers or church.

Yes, sex is super important in a marriage - but just touching is important. Hugs after work. Kisses before bed. Cuddling while you watch TV. High fives when you're excited. A good massage after a hard day. Holding hands while you're shopping...

Have hobbies 
Together and separately. I read and watch The Bachelor - those are my things. Derrick plays video games and does video. But we have shows we watch together and games we play together. Board games are our new hobby - and something we can do together and with other friends and family. It's good to have your own personal hobbies. And it's good to have a hobby or two that you share with your spouse. 

Surround yourself with Christian couples 
We are blessed in this area, and I never take that for granted. Other happily-married Christian couples inspire us, support us, make us laugh, encourage us in Christ, understand us, speak truth to us, set an example for us and would be there for us if we ever had a, they're fun! If you don't have good Christian couples - both as friends and mentors - I'd love to help you out! 

Build each other up and appreciate each other 
Compliment each other - privately and publicly. Appreciate each other - using all of the love languages. When your spouse does something kind and loving, take time to notice it. Tell them when they look good. When they have a good idea. When they blow your mind with their insight or creativity or talent or kisses.
Maybe you feel stuck, you feel like your spouse isn't loving you well - take time to notice the small ways that they are loving you and appreciate that. Eventually, they'll probably notice and grow in how they show you love. 

Be silly together
Sing together. Dance together. Make up words together. Speak in British accents. Tickle each other. Play MarioKart. Skip. Be silly and young and crazy together. 

Don't expect too much
Whaaaaat? Yeah. I said it. Don't expect rose petals on the bed. Don't expect handwritten sonnets. Don't expect a dozen roses on every holiday. Don't expect to be whisked
 away on a weekend trip to Paris.
Sometimes we have these fantasies in our minds - thanks to TV and romance novels and years of daydreaming - of grandeur. When we allow ourselves to expect something, without ever verbalizing it, then we set up our partner for failure and ourselves up for disappointment.
Yes, expect to be treated well. Expect sweet nothings. Expect respect and friendship and passion. But be realistic. And appreciate what's right in front of you.

"And above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins." 
1 Peter 4:8

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Boast about my weaknesses.

I am going to be completely vulnerable and honest with you tonight. And I debated whether or not to share this post. But it was on my heart and maybe it will resonate with someone. 

 Tonight, in the middle of worship, I had a moment. A moment when I thought about all the heaviness and burden and sin and Satan that God helps me overcome. Not once but daily. Not as a memory but as a reality

I guess we each have stuff. We have obvious stuff. We have hidden stuff. We have human stuff. We have spiritual stuff. We have physical stuff. Stuff everyone knows about. Stuff no one knows about. Even as you read this, you probably can think of your own stuff.

Paul had stuff. He called it his "thorn in the flesh". And it was real to him. It reminded him of why He needed a Savior for today and for eternity. It made life in Christ a refreshing blessing. And it made the promise of heaven even more beautiful. 

Well, I have stuff too.

I have a physical and mental thorn.

Over a year ago, on October 2, 2012, I woke up in the middle of the night unable to get a full breath. I was terrified; my sweet mom got a 2 a.m. call and quickly came over to calm me down. My amazing husband stayed up all night with me - watching Matilda and The Walking Dead. I felt like I would never feel okay again. 

The doctors found nothing wrong. For the few months, it was like I was constantly wearing a corset. I felt stuck. Suffocating. You know that scene in Titanic where Rose is about to jump? That's how it felt. Derrick and I actually slept on the couch with the TV on for weeks - because I couldn't sleep in the darkness of our bedroom.It was hard for me to ride in a car for a long period of time or be out of my comfort zone. Being in crowds or being obligated to be at a function was suffocating. I wanted Derrick near me constantly. It was a crippling, veiled form of anxiety - and it was very real to me.

Now, I thank God for every full breath I can take. Every good nights sleep in our cozy bed. I am thankful that I can travel without feeling like I need to be home. That I can take road trips without feeling imprisoned. That I can be surrounded by wonderful people, having fun. And that Derrick is my best friend but not my crutch. Sometimes I can feel myself getting panicky again - but, by God's grace, I overcome.

I have other stuff. I have a spiritual thorn. 

Since I was fourteen, I've gone through seasons of doubt. I doubt God. I question God. But not on your typical stuff. I don't wonder why so and so is sick or why this person was in an accident...

I question big God stuff. Stuff far beyond the realm of human understanding. Like, why did OT believers have to go through so many sacrifices and follow so many rules? Why did God have to send His Son to save us if He knew we were going to sin from the beginning? And we all have a sin nature by birth so is it really our fault we sin? Why did God create people any way? He knew some people would go to hell. What if I don't really believe enough? What if I'm not doing enough?

I go through times where these questions weigh me down. Burden me. Cause me to feel depressed. I struggle with the feeling that I have to make sense of God. That I have to understand Him, and that if I don't, I must not really know Him. These seasons, these moments, are my darkest days. And it's not something I can make sense of or logically wrap my mind around. 

I have to trust. I have to understand that if I understood God, He wouldn't be God and I wouldn't need Him. I love the moments when God overcomes me. When He removes me from myself and overwhelms me with His graciousness. And I have to submit my thorns to Him daily. In each moment.

Those are just two examples of my stuff. Other stuff - the sin stuff, my flesh vs. my spirit - is a daily struggle for me just like it is for you. 

See, I can say that God's grace is sufficient for me. But it doesn't become real until I am weak. 

"...Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 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 12:7-10

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Out past my bedtime...

Sometimes I love to just marvel in how full my life is and praise God for all the positive He’s chosen to bless me with. Derrick and I have some really wonderful people in our lives – and I am ever thankful that God has surrounded us with folks who build us up in Him. 
This week was a great example of how crazy-good our life can get.
We didn’t make it home before 9 p.m. any night this week –
 which definitely makes me appreciate the weekend even more.

Monday night…
We went over to Derrick’s Mom’s house – our normal Monday night tradition. She had made a special effort to fix us a healthy meal – of grilled chicken, grilled fish and sautéed veggies. The meat was delicious; I just can’t get on board with squash, onions, peppers… Monday night is always game night, and Jessie and I dominated in four rounds of Uno.

Tuesday night…
On Tuesday night, we headed to Raleigh for our monthly date night with the Bauers. I always enjoy how easily our conversations bounce from middle school memories to work stressers, from Disney World to our favorite brands of pen,
 from Graeme’s arrival to girl’s night. 
This time we tried out The Pit in Downtown. It was Derrick and my first time there, and it was delicious. The chopped turkey with the vinegar bbq sauce
and hushpuppies was definitely my favorite.  

Wednesday night…
I rushed home after work and made some sugar-free, flour-free oatmeal cookies that had been on my mind all week, taking time finally prepare a healthy lunch for the next day. I mention this because, as much as I aspire to, I rarely have time to bake anything and be overly homey.
Our small group meets on Wednesdays – but we missed the one group that met since Christmas, on account of my 3-week sickness. So this week it was great to head to Garner to fellowship, worship and study James 1 with our church family.

Thursday night…
Johnson family night! We had one of my favorite meals – hamburgers and hotdogs. We decided to watch an action movie, and 45-minutes into it – in normal Renee-action-movie fashion – I was sound asleep. It was nice to see the family though and nice to have a little power nap.

Friday night…
Our pastor invited Derrick, some of his coworkers and the wifeys out dinner – and Derrick and I looked forward to it all week. It was great to dress up a little and go to a nice restaurant with new friends and church family. I had fun getting to know everyone
 and hearing the laughter fill the room.

Today has been a quietly busy one. Cleaning the house, doing all the laundry, making sure things are in order. Blogging :)
Our friends Jordan and Ashley are coming over tonight for Japanese take-out and board games. At the Bauer’s Christmas party, the four us discovered that we all have the same geeky love of intense board games, so Derrick and I knew we’d have to have them over for game night. I'm pretty excited!


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

What I'm Reading...

Hopefully you read yesterday's post - What I've Read  -
 and you were inspired to go pick up a book. 

So, what's on my list for this year so far?

This one has been nestled on my book shelf, waiting to be read since last Christmas! It has been patiently collecting dust as I make my way through the OT - excited to have a short stay in Daniel.

Priscille Shirer is quickly becoming one of my favorites, so I'm looking forward to taking a journey through Jonah with her. 

 Like Nehemiah, Malachi is a book that I've never studied and don't really know much about...that's why I was excited to get this adorably covered book this Christmas! 
(Thanks to my mother-in-law for making sure I always have a well stocked shelf!)

Another Christmas present...from 2012! I've done the David, Jesus and Paul studies like this one, and I'll be happy to get to know John a little better.

 JD Greear is one of my favorite pastors.
Good job, husband, on getting me this read for Christmas!

Time for fiction...

Amazon listed Rachel Hauck as one of the top Christian fiction authors of 2013 - 
so why not give her a try.

And, while researching Rachel Hauck, I came across a book series that she had written with Sara Evans! That shocked me enough that I added it to the list. 

Whenever I mention loving the Lineage of Grace and Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers, friends tell me that I must read the Mark of the Lion series. While it seems a little more intense than my normal fiction choices, I'm excited to take their advice. 

Last, for now, is a new Amish author. 
No one has lived up to Beverly Lewis so far - but I'm willing to continue the search. 

What's your favorite book series? Favorite Jesus-book? 
Let me know below or as a facebook comment, so I can add it to my list!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

What I've Read...

As the new year approached, I began to think about what I read in 2013 and what I anticipate reading in 2014. Then, a few days later, my dear friend at Christian Wife Life asked for suggestions on what to add to her reading list in 2014. As a nerd who loves curling up with a good book, I was excited to reflect on what I've read and share what I want to read.

Today I'll suggest some books I've read and loved. 

I read mostly non-fiction...

 I read this one a long time ago, but if you're looking for a simple 5-10 minute daily devotion that still finds a way to dig deep - this would be it! I have a heart for the women of the bible, and this book covers them all.

This is an amazing book and great challenge for wives and future wives (yep, that's you)!

I got this for Christmas and read it in two days.
 I loved the way Priscilla broke down Ephesians 3:20-21 to inspire us to believe bigger.  

The title says it all.

I'm currently reading this one, and it's a challenge to believe God is who He says He is, He can do what He says He can do, you are who He says you are, you can do all things through Him, and God's word is alive and active in you. Believe it. Believe God. 

My first ever Kelly Minter study was this one -
taking a deeper looks at this beloved book of the Bible. 

I first studied Esther with Beth Moore in 2010, but this year - as I read through the Old Testament (which I encourage you to do, if you have known Jesus for a while but haven't read through the bible) - I was able to spend a few weeks reviewing this wonderful study. 

 Who knew Nehemiah was such a good book? Definitely not me!

Looking for fiction?
I'm a huge fan of Amish fiction. Weird? Maybe. Beverly Lewis is the best - and all of her books are a good read! 

And, of course, last but not least, there's the queen of Christian fiction - Karen Kingsbury. Sure, the Baxter family gets a little old after five series(es?) and apx. 25 books...but if you haven't read the original - the Redemption Series - it's definitely worth it. 

Friday, January 3, 2014

New Year's...Words and Numbers?

Happy New Year!
 (and new blog design - did you notice?)
Whoa. I can't believe that it's 2014 already!

Now, I'm not one for traditional resolutions. 
Lofty expectations like working out every day, losing 10 pounds, giving up sweet tea...

I like inspirations. Fun goals. Encouragement to live life to the full. 
But not promises to change. I don't like the pressure - and the reality that I'll likely fail. 

Many people are encouraging everyone to come up with a word to live by in 2014. 
A word that you'd like to define your year. 
For me, that word was easy. 


I want to live abundantly (John 10:10). 
Love abundantly. Laugh abundantly. Give abundantly. You get the point.

So, I made a few - realistic and attainable - goals to make 2014 abundant
and make the most of each moment.

write 25 blog posts
read remaining 20 Books of the OT
make 17 fun family memories
go on 14 double dates with friends
read 12 other new books
mail 11 snail mail letters or cards
enjoy 9 fun and unique dates with Derrick
have 8 girls nights/time with girl friends
do 7 random, unexpected blessings on others
host 6 parties, game nights, etc. at our home
make 5 surprise phone calls
go on 3 vacations—1 family, 1 Derrick, 1 friends
visit 1 new state  

What's your New Year's resolution, goal or word? Let me know below!