Friday, December 30, 2016

Goodbye, 2016

This year has been a truly great year for me! Here are some of my favorite times of the year. 

Favorite posts from 2016:

Favorite moments in 2016:

1. Starting, finishing, and loving my first clinical rotation this summer
2. Finishing my last semester of classes and passing my doctoral project
3. Going to a week long Bible school
4. Moving into our wonderful new place in Placerville
5. Our church's Jesus for King campaign and food drive 
6. A family trip to Lake Tahoe this summer 
7. Visiting my grandparents in New Mexico
8. Seeing my nieces and one of my nephews for Christmas

Favorite pictures of 2016:

Yosemite with friends 

Family selfies 

My grandparents in New Mexico 

Spreading the good news!

Trip to Pismo with lots of friends!

Dressing up for Halloween! 

My lovely BFF
Watching my brothers perform at Bible school-- so proud of them!
Pictures with my favorite

Passing my doctoral defense!
Seeing our nieces and one of our nephews for the first time in almost 2 years!

Goodbye, 2016! You have been good to me. May 2017 be just as wonderful and may it bring the return of Christ! 

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Forsaking Your First Love

Every year, Daniel and I follow a daily Bible reading plan that takes us through the whole Bible in a year. We are finishing up the book of Revelation this month. The book begins with Christ giving a message to the churches at the time, with messages of encouragement but also warning.

Revelation 2:4:  Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.

With one church, Christ warns them that they have lost their first love. And isn't that easy to do? When we first become believers, first get baptized, we are so excited. The difficulty of life can wear us down. It can make us a little jaded. It can make us feel too busy to go to church or do good. It's so easy to get wrapped up in all the physical people and things around us. 

Our first love should always be for God and Christ. Whatever else we love in life, we can't let it diminish our love for God. In the Bible, God even uses the term adultery to refer to His people who have forsaken Him. That's how serious it is! 

Forsaking your first love (GOD) can be dangerously easy to do. We can't see Him or hear Him. He doesn't yell at us if we don't listen. Of course, we have His word but only if we chose to read it. But the amazing thing is that He is always calling to us to Him. 

I know I've been feeling like I've lost a little of that first love. I still love God and I still read the Bible and go to church and do all the things I am supposed to do, but it can feel mechanical. We all slip there sometimes but we need to get back! I need to rejuvenate my first love, and if you are in that place too, so do you!

I thought this picture was a great illustration of this. We are looking at this beautiful ocean but the forest and the rain on the window are blocking our view. Life can be that way. The cares of this world, our spouses, our kids, our friends can cloud our love for our Creator. They are all good things but they can't be our first love. God wants to be first in our hearts. 

So if you are feeling in a rut I encourage you to reach out. Reach out to me, reach out to a close friend, but most importantly reach out to God. He longs to hear our prayers. He longs for us to maintain our first love. Start 2017 with a rejuvenated love for the Creator of all! 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Why Christmas is the Best

 I love love love Christmas, as you can probably tell by now! If you don't, this will be the last Christmas post of the year.

Christmas is the best because it brings family together. For a lot of families, it might the only time of the year that everyone can make it to the same place. That family time is super important.

I love the weather at Christmas, slightly chilled (in California, hah!) but still beautiful, for the most part. Almost every shopping center is decked out in all their fine Christmas apparel. I adore the white lights and wreaths everywhere. 

Christmas is also my favorite time for decorating the house. I just made a big grapevine wreath covered in sparkly red hydrangeas and white and gold poinsettias. The Christmas tree with our colored lights and ornaments looks so perfect sitting in our house. Our Christmas candle burns and fills the house with a lovely smell. Daniel wrapped white lights around our window, which I think looks so perfect. 

I love sending out Christmas cards to our friends and receiving them back (send me cards!!!!). I love buying the perfect (**hopefully**) gifts for those I love and wrapping them in pretty gift paper and bows. I love watching people open gifts that I gave them and seeing their reactions. I also love getting gifts too, obviously. 

I love sneaking around in the dark of the morning to put little goodies into everyone's stockings. 

I love our new tradition of going to the bookstore and buying a book on Christmas eve. I love my family tradition of eating french toast on Christmas morning and getting up at 6 am to open presents. 

I love eating chocolate covered cherries in the morning for the only day of the year. I love tasty appetizers and sparking cider for dinner. 

Most of all, I love Christmas because it means spending time with family. 

What are you favorite Christmas traditions? 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Christmas-y Reflections

As I write this, I am lying in a comfy bed in a place called Ucluelet, BC, on a mini vacation with Daniel's parents. I look out my window and it is anything but cozy. All night I have heard the roar of heavy winds, rain and the occasional hail. I'll admit that I have a very irrational fear of wind and was terrified all night. Yet, when the morning finally dawned, I felt so much less afraid. Why does the dark make everything so much scarier?

It got me to thinking how thankful I am to have a safe place to stay. There are so many who don't. I'm thankful to have food to eat this morning and a rain jacket to keep me dry once I venture outside. I'm thankful that I can go into the kitchen and get water and that my biggest struggle is that we have to drink out of a bottle because the tap water isn't safe. Even in a secluded cabin in the woods, I manage to get wifi so that I can write my blog and check my Instagram.

So while I might be a little bummed that I can't get a Starbucks, I remember that life is so good. Life is actually so great. I am on vacation with my husband. I don't have to worry about anything. There is no schoolwork to do and while we are away, there is also no housework to do.
My life feels so full and I hope yours does too. Wherever you are, whatever you do, I hope that your life feels full. I hope that you will remember your blessings and minimize the things that hurt you. If you think you aren't blessed, trying thinking about your life from a different perspective. There is always something to be thankful for.  

I hope that you will reach out a hand to your neighbor in need. I hope that you will shine as a light for Jesus to the world around you. 

I hope you will take every single moment and soak it up! Merry Christmas week!  

Friday, December 16, 2016

Remembering those Hurting

While the holidays are a very wonderful and festive time for many of us, there are a lot of people who spend the holidays hurting. Maybe they have lost a parent and can't find it in themselves to truly celebrate. Maybe they grew up going through foster families and never really had a real holiday experience. Maybe their child is sick. Maybe their spouse left them and they have to pull off Christmas alone for the sake of their children. Maybe they never met their "soulmate" and are spending the holiday alone.

In a time where there is so much joy, it can become especially painful to those who are hurting. 

There are so many people who have never been able to experience the holiday with joy, for one reason or the other. 

My heart aches for all these individuals, because in a time when my heart feels so full, I want everyone to feel the same way. I encourage you to remember those who hurt and acknowledge that there may be nothing you can do. 

There is no right answer because each person is different and you will have to choose your response based on the individual. It might be inviting them to celebrate with you, or it might be giving them the "permission" that they don't need to celebrate when their grief is too raw. It maybe simply be reaching out to the individual and asking what they need. 

Meet people where they are. If they are grieving, accept them. If they want help, accept them. If they don't want help, accept them. No one suffers exactly the same way. 

So if you are hurting during this Christmas, I hope that you may find a sense of peace. It's okay to reach out to those around you. If your heart is full, don't forget to look around and notice those who suffer. And wherever you stand, don't forget to be thankful for what you do have. 

May your weekend be truly blessed! xo

P.S. If you want to do something for those truly in need, go sponsor a child with Agape in Action. 100% of the proceeds will go to the field, which is really important!!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Behind the Blog

 I decided that I would do a little Q&A about myself and later realized how self-absorbed that seems. But since everyone is a little self-absorbed and the internet is all about over-sharing, what the heck? All the stuff you would never have wanted to know about me! 

What inspires you?

I'd say that the biggest thing that inspires me is my faith-- because it influences all aspects of my life. It teaches me compassion and love, it teaches me kindness.  

What is your middle name and how do you feel about it? 

Well, let's jump right into a hard one! My given middle name is Mariah ("they call the wind Mariah"). However, when I got married I took my maiden name as my middle name, because I love my maiden name and didn't want to lose it. Also, I do love the song. 

What do you do for a living?

In short, be married to my husband who makes money while I spend it all. Hardy-har-har. In long, I am in physical therapy school. Since I talk about different snippets of my program on my blog, I thought I'd give you the full picture of what it's all about. Basically, it's a three year graduate program (so I've been in school for almost 7 years!!) where we have 6 semesters of classes and 3 semesters of clinical rotations (working full time for free). I am actually two days away from my last final, ever!! Then I am off to finish two more clinical rotations, one in the hospital and one in an orthopedic clinic. I will graduate in July and have to take a super-hard national exam (yikes!). 

Your favorite season and why?

Every season, because each one is amazing. Winter because of Christmas and New Year's and alll the joy. Spring because I'm ready for warmth and flowers. Summer because shorts and swimming and school break. Fall because leaves and sweaters and pumpkins.

How tall are you?


What's your favorite TV show or movie?

I definitely can't name just one! I don't like many movies but I do love the Harry Potter series. I love cop shows including Castle, White Collar, and Blue Bloods. For a little more fun, I love Psych. 

Your favorite subject in school? 

Surprisingly (based on my career choice), English! I guess that's why I started this blog on the side!

Do you have a favorite book?

I have too many to name! Find me on Goodreads to find out which books I love (: 

What's your favorite food and drink?

Sushi and Starbucks Refreshers, hands down. 

Favorite store?

Target, for everything, duh, and Down East Basics, for beautiful and modest clothes!

P.S. I'd love to hear your answers, so much that I'm leaving a blank form in the comments! Send me an email or leave me a comment with your answers! 

P.P.S. If you haven't already, don't forget to find me on Instagram

Friday, December 9, 2016

Get Moving!

It's not the normal content of my blog, but being in the health field means that I am passionate about exercise. No one will be healthy forever, but exercise can greatly improve your quality of life! However, I know that sometimes it can be SO hard to get moving and stick to a routine. I hope you find these tips and routines helpful and encouraging. 

One way that I commit to fitness are to plan out my workouts at the beginning of the week. At this time of year, I also have "backup" workouts, like if I was supposed to go for a run/walk and it ends up raining! You'll be way more likely to exercise if you have a buddy, so choose a friend who also wants to exercise and plan two days a week to do so. That way, even if you want to cancel, you really can't (: It's important to make your workouts as convenient as possible, too, so that you won't have an excuse to opt out. 
Also, I love to listen to podcasts while I am running (if I don't have a buddy), so if music doesn't make you feel like grooving, try a podcast (I've been listening to Serial recently but also love This American Life). Lastly, if you have a rarely-used gym membership, I highly recommend trying out some workout classes. That is the one thing that I miss most about having a gym membership! Luckily, there are also SO many awesome routines on Youtube to do in the comfort of your own home. 

I thought I'd share some suggested routines for beginner to intermediate levels to encourage you to get out there and move! I think you will find these workouts convenient and enjoyable! Don't forget to grab a friend to walk with or download some music/podcasts. 

2x/week- walk for 20-30 minutes at a fast pace

2x/week- walk for 30 minutes at a fast pace
1x/week- Cardio video
On the weekend- go on a hike you've been wanting to do (take a friend or spouse)

2x/week- walk for 30 minutes at a fast pace
1x/week- jog for 20-30 minutes (interspersed with walking if needed, no shame!)

1x/week- go rock climbing at your local climbing wall!
1x/week- go on a new hike with a friend
1x/week- Fun Zumba routines (a playlist with many songs to choose from!) 

These are just a few ways that you can incorporate cardio exercise and strength exercise in your week. There are millions of ways you can exercise! If you don't like just "exercising" try a dancing or Zumba video. 

Don't forget to reward yourself for sticking to a whole week of exercise! Please let me know if you have any questions. I'd love to talk fitness with you anytime. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

How to Truly Celebrate the Holidays

In this holiday season, don't forget to focus on what is really important. It's so easy to walk into every store around and feel the need to decorate like crazy. What's Christmas without at least 1500 dollars of decor in the house? 

Now don't get me wrong, I love holiday decorations as much as the next girl, but there is so much more to the "holiday season". Whether it be Thanksgiving or Christmas, we often get so wrapped up in materialism.

To me, the reason for both Thanksgiving and Christmas essentially boil down to giving thanks and doing good. It's not a celebration of Christ's birth to me, because I believe his birth was no more wonderful than his life, his death, his resurrection, or the work he does now. But, I do believe Thanksgiving and Christmas are a time to truly share Christ's love with the world.

Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, you can show Christ's love to the world. That certainly should be done all year long, but having a time when we really focus on Christ's love helps me to reflect! What am I doing to show the world that I follow Christ? What am I doing to affect the people around me on an individual level? What am I doing for the widows and the orphans?

 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27

It truly is more blessed to give than to receive. Maybe instead of focusing so much the gifts and the decorations and the food and the fancy parties, we need to be looking for the good we can do. So how can we cultivate an attitude of gratitude and godliness for the holidays?

Reflect each day on what you are thankful for. It's often said, but that's because it's true. It's so hard to be ungrateful or grumpy when we reflect on what we have.

Donate to your favorite charity. Find a cause that is important to you and give to it. It doesn't have to be a lot, although it certainly can be! Do your research and find a charity that uses it's donations effectively.

Volunteer for a worthy cause. Volunteer work is certainly easy to find! There are a myriad of ways that you can help individuals in your community. Ask your family to join in to make it extra special. Better yet, commit to volunteering for that organization for the next year or more!

Invite elderly people from church over for a fancy dinner. How better to make someone feel loved and appreciated then to go all-out having them over? 

Find a place that accepts Christmas gifts for impoverished children. I know I can't imagine Christmas without presents, especially as a child. It definitely depends on the person, but a special really makes me feel love. There are so many families who don't have the luxury of giving special gifts for their children, so let's do our part to help them out!

What other ways do you have to cultivate gratitude? 

Friday, December 2, 2016

Living Boldly

I hear this idea of living boldly bounced around a lot, but what does it mean to truly live boldly? 

I want to live boldly but how do I do it? To me, it means to push yourself out of your comfort zone. I think to really do good, you have to get outside of your comfort zone. For people who struggle with anxiety (like me), getting out of your comfort zone can be very hard. But living out of your comfort zone can also be very beautiful.

I think living boldly means loving as much as possible. I think it means aiming for dreams that seem out of reach. Not just having a dream, but taking steps toward that dream. A dream is really just a wish if you aren't progressing toward it. 

Living boldly doesn't mean being fearless, but it DOES mean not being stopped by your fears. We can never get out of our comfort zone if we succumb to our fears. Instead we must face our fears head on. 

For me personally, living boldly means finally taking steps toward being a foster parent. It means taking my national exam in July rather than waiting until October. It means loving deeply, even when it hurts. 

But living boldly isn't just an idea that comes from me. It comes from the Bible. The Bible is full of individuals living boldly. They faced their fears, they followed God despite all, and they loved deeply. In fact, in this culture, following God requires boldness. 

I believe that to follow God is to truly live boldly. What do you do to live boldly?