Tuesday, January 31, 2017

January Book: Let's All Be Brave

It's the last day of the month and you know what that means! Book Club time! The book for January was Let's All Be Brave

Rating: 3/5 stars

Synopsis from Goodreads: Annie F. Downs admits she's not exactly the bravest girl in the world. She still cries sometimes when she leaves her parents' home in Georgia, she's never jumped out of a plane, and she only rides roller coasters to impress boys. But Annie knows that courage resides inside each and every one of us, and she's on a mission to triumph over her own fears while encouraging the reader to do the same. As a single young woman, writer, speaker, and blogger, Annie Downs shares her journey toward bravery with honesty and humor. Using wonderful stories from her own life, contemporary real-life examples, and fascinating historical and biblical references, Annie encourages readers to grab hold of the brave life that they desperately desire. How often does fear hold us back from the very things we most want to taste, touch, and experience? The call to be brave isn't just for one person---it's for everyone. Let's All Be Brave is more than a book, it's a battle cry. Annie challenges us to live boldly, she calls us to step into those places that require courage, and she gives us the help to take the next step forward---even when it's scary. This non-fiction, essay-driven book opens the door to many different views of courage---nudging, encouraging, and inspiring readers to be brave whenever given the chance.

My thoughts: To be completely honest, this book did not jive with me. It's not that the author was a bad writer or I didn't like what she had to say. It just wasn't that interesting to me. Mostly, I felt like that it didn't resonate with me in my life. For someone else who is more like her, it would have probably been really awesome words of encouragement. 

I enjoyed Annie's open and honest attitude about her life. I enjoyed her funny style. She writes all of her chapters like they are mini essays, so it is interesting to read about different parts of her life. Her life is quite different then mine and it's cool to hear about how other people live. 

The one thing I disliked about the book is the way that she talks about Bible characters. I understand that they are human too, but it just bothers me when people talk about great men and women of the Bible in a somewhat disrespectful way (i.e. my homie Joshua, etc). These are outstanding examples that God has chosen to give us and I think we should give them a little more respect. 

In the end, this book just didn't do it for me. I look for something a little less fluffy in an inspirational book-- I want something deep and real that I feel can apply to my life. 

Read this book if: You haven't read many "inspiring" books before and you are looking for a light read. 

Inspiring thoughts from the author: 
"You just have to start, my friend. That thing that is whispering on your insides? That conversation you need to have or that place you need to go? That job you want to try or that ministry you want to attempt? That major you want to pick at college or that mission trip you want to go on? You've got to start somewhere. So do. Tell somebody you want to be brave." pg 25, Let's All Be Brave 

"So when you hear me say, 'Believe in yourself,' this what I want you to think about. Don't believe in yourself in such a way that you think you can accomplish anything on your own. You can't. To believe in yourself means to believe that God made you and there is no one like you, that you have a unique call to courage, and that you can do the thing that is staring you in the face." pg 42, Let's All Be Brave 

Now I want to hear your thought's! What did you like/not like about Let's All Be Brave?! Check out Morgan's post here!

Link up below with your blog post about Let's All Be Brave, or another book review you have done recently! Don't forget to grab a link button!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Awesome Recipes to Try Now

As you know, the topic of food is one of my first and favorite subjects. I love trying new recipes. And by trying new recipes, I mean choosing new recipes for my husband to make for dinner. We get a lot of AMAZING meals and a few not so great ones mixed in. I like
to say that if one of us isn't raving about the meal, we should not make it again! Life's too short to eat food you don't rave about, am I right?!

Here a few of my recent favorites!

Buffalo Chicken Salad with Blue Cheese Cilantro Ranch

Aaaaaaaaaaannnd the name says it all! It's pretty easy to make (or so I think, since I've never actually done the cooking) and tastes amazing. And since it's a salad, that obviously means you can eat the whole thing yourself.

Crockpot Beef Burgandy

Who doesn't love a good crockpot recipe? Just throw everything in and something magical and wonderful comes out! This one is a favorite of mine because the sauce just tastes so good.

Bacon Pierogi Bake

If you want something so belly-warming and cheesy and good, chose this recipe. If you want something healthy and lean, not so much. We hardly ever eat this because it's not so good for my fitness goals. BUT it is SO good. It's everything bad for you mixed into one delicious dish, thankyouverymuch.

Cracked Out Turkey Pinwheels

These aren't good for a meal but are great for a party or a church potluck. I took them when it was my turn to bring snack for church and they were quite a hit! Not only that, but they were very easy to make. I'd highly recommend.

Crockpot Pineapple Upside Down Cake

On with the streak of healthy recipes... here we have a moist (sorry, people who hate the word moist) and sugary cake. I don't really like cake, except for Pineapple Upside Down Cake. I will warn you though; I tried to make this for some friends. I set it so that it would be ready exactly when we got home from dinner. Then the cake pulled a fast one on me and took 2 hours longer than it said it would. Two hours, people! It all turned out okay because Daniel ran to get some ice cream and then I got to eat the whole cake myself the next day.

Now that you are all clear on how I "unexpectedly" gained 30 pounds, go enjoy some food!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Big Dreams

Happy Tuesday, y'all! While I shared a bit about goals/resolutions, there are some dreams that fill our hearts that don't necessarily make it onto the "goal" list. Maybe these are things that have been pushing at us for many years or new dreams on the horizon. I wanted to share a few of my big dreams for 2017. 

// Start an Etsy embroidery shop
As you might know, I've recently picked up embroidery and I love it!! Can't stop, won't stop. Now I've run out of people to throw embroidery at, I still want to embroider but don't have anyone to make things for. Now, I want to start at Etsy shop and it's gonna happen sometime this year! My personal goal is to have it started by March, but we shall see. 

// Become foster parents
Ever since I was a teen, I've thought about fostering kids. It's something that really is on my heart. For many years, it has not be practical or possible to achieve this dream. But Daniel and I finally started doing some research (although far from experts) and believe that, with God's blessing, it may finally be possible for us to begin working towards this dream when I graduate in July. Once I start making an income, we should be able to afford a slightly bigger place to live (to provide a separate bedroom for a child). I also won't be studying 24/7, which will be a help (:

// Lose the weight I've gained over the past two years. 
Okay, this one is a little personal, but despite all the healthy eating and exercising I've done, I have gained 30 pounds in two years. It's been very frustrating and I only recently found out from my doctor that BOTH the medications she put me on (when the weight gain started) cause weight gain. So, I've switched my meds up and hopehopehope to be able to get back to my normal. 

// For Jesus to come to earth!
A dream that I have no control over, but isn't it want we all want as believers? 

What are your dreams for this year? 

Friday, January 20, 2017

My Current Bible Study "Plan"

I say "plan" because Bible study, of course, should come from the heart. With anything though, to be the most productive, one must be purposeful. I guess that's what I try to do when it comes to Bible study-- be purposeful. The Bible is so big and wonderful, it can be hard to know where to even start!

The basics: Every year since it was ingrained into me by my parents, I have followed a daily Bible reading plan. Basically, it's some sort of plan to follow that gets you through the Bible in a year. There are a variety of these plans out there. Daniel and I do this together daily. It's great for several reasons-- I read the whole Bible rather than the sections I would pick on my own. It's also a great way for Daniel and I to bond over the Bible. And of course, it helps me to grow closer to God by ensuring that I consistently dive into His word.

Another way I like to delve into the Bible is what I call Bible marking. The idea here is that I am going to delve super deep into a particular aspect of the Bible and then make markings in my Bible (notes, pictures, graphs, etc) as I feel necessary. I use verse by verse guides or other books that are specifically on what I am studying. I have a wide-margin Bible for this purpose. A lined sheet so that you can write in a straight line and Micron pens are super helpful if you like Bible marking. 

I like to supplement my Bible study with trying to read a book or two on the scripture regularly. Daniel and I recently started reading a book called Elpis Israel, which is just a fancy way to say The Hope of Israel. The hope we have was the hope given to God's people, Israel, which I hope to become adopted into!

And let's not forget the important ingredient-- prayer and action. Bible study is of no worth if we are not 1) communicating with God and 2) putting it into action! God's word says to love? I better do it! God's word says to take care of the poor? I better do it! If we aren't doing what God says, it doesn't matter if we know everything about his Word. 

What does your Bible study look like? 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Things That Make Me Happy

Life has been busy since I started my new job last week. But there's always time to enjoy a few of my favorite things. 

Lately, these are a few of my favorite things!

1. My new succulents! They look so pretty sitting on my coffee table. 

2. Smoothie bowls. I think I've gone on about smoothie bowls before, but how about this Chocolate Peanut Butter one? Dessert, for breakfast? I'll take it.  

3. This Fruit of the Spirit book. This is one of my very favorite books and I highly recommend it. The author is super down-to-earth and gives practical, meaningful ways to live out God's word. 

4. This gorgeous calendar from from Gracelaced. I showed it to my bestie after I saw it on Amanda's Instagram. We ooohhed and ahhhed... and she surprised me with it! It's so special to get gifts "just because."  

5. This fancy schmancy glass water bottle. I'd mentioned to Daniel that I would like one and he came home the next day with it. I love it (and him!)... I guess I should mention things more often (;

6. Getting ready for my book club... guys, I'm so excited to announce that I have found a co-host for the book club! Morgan, from The Messy Bun Mama. Don't forget to get reading for the book club!

7. This quote: If you're always racing to the next moment, what happens to the one you're in? 

And that about says it all. 

8. Our new board game, Pandemic! It's seriously so much fun. And this is coming from someone who doesn't like games (or maybe I do?!). We got in from Daniel's parents for Christmas and I've really been enjoying playing it! 

What makes you happy lately? 

Friday, January 13, 2017

You Can Do It (but you don't have to)

It's January 13, which means that we are close to halfway through January and also means that it's about the time when our "resolutions" start to fizzle. Maybe your goals are the traditional ones like going to the gym more or starting that new diet. Or maybe you're super trendy and you've picked out a word to guide you in 2017. #iamsohip 

Whatever the case, it's hard to do. It sounds so easy and appealing when you aren't doing it, but so horrible when you're waking up at 5:30 am to go to the gym.

I'm here to encourage you that it's okay. It's okay to have already messed up on your resolutions. You can do it! Seriously, you CAN do it. If it's a goal that you love and is rewarding, don't give up. Miss a day here and there. Forget about it for a week. That doesn't mean you're finished. 

Keep going, friend. 

But it's also okay to realize that your goal isn't actually want you want. Let it go. Did you make a goal to go to the gym when you hate the gym? It's okay to let it go. **cue Frozen theme music for this paragraph**

But seriously, don't spend your whole year beating yourself up for not being consistent with a goal you aren't serious enough to love. If your goals aren't enjoyable and rewarding, they probably aren't good goals for you (and you probably won't be able to stick with them). 

Life is just too short and too precious to spend on things that don't really matter. Sometimes I get 20 days into the year and think, I don't even care about this goal. But, I made a goal and I must press on! I can't stop! If I give up now I'll always be a loser! 

Just. Don't. 

Being such a perfectionist myself, I think I place a lot of my self worth in whether I accomplish the things I set out do (whether a New Year's resolution or just a plan). For example, last year I didn't write in my daily journal once, and every time I thought about it I got frustrated with myself. It's such a silly little thing but it's important to remember that those things aren't what define you. 

It's well and good to make goals for yourself, especially goals focusing around how to improve yourself. Your self-worth is really found in what God thinks of you. And honestly, I can assure you that God doesn't care if you write in your journal daily or go to boot camp 3 times a week.

Your self-worth does not come from what you do but who you are.  

P.S. Don't forget to read the book for the month!! 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

My Hardest Fruit

I wanted to write something inspirational so I decided that I would write about the fruit of the spirit that is the most difficult for me to do. Then I realized that most of them are equally difficult for me to do, so how the heck would I choose?

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

I feel like there are quite a few of the characteristics that I have addressed multiple times on the blog (I'm talking to you love, joy, faith, kindness). But patience is an attribute I don't talk much about and, unfortunately, don't think much about. 

Pretty much the only time I think about patience is when someone is being impatient with me and I need to let them know to calm down and be patient. Because, obviously, the only person in the world who doesn't need to be more patient is me. #theyloveit 

Have you heard the saying that patience is a virtue? Well, the Bible tells us that's true. Not only that, God requires us to develop patience. I'm sure I'm not telling you anything new but it is HARD to be patient. It is often patience (well that, and a lot of hard work + God's blessing) standing between us and our dreams.

It's so natural to want everything to fall into place now. But it doesn't. We have to get through college to get that good paying job. We have to get that job to get the car and the house. We have to have patience to find the right person. We have to find the right person to build a life and have children. 

But we don't have to just have patience with life. We also need to have patience with others. And that takes a lot, sometimes, when people hurt us and let us down. Give them the same grace you would like to receive. Remind yourself that they are human too and that the things they struggle with might not necessarily be what you struggle with. 

But you know who we most often neglect to have patience with?


Don't make excuses for yourself, but also learn to give yourself grace. Is there something you are struggling with? Take it to God and be patient with yourself. He is working in you for a greater purpose. He is working in you to make you His child, if you will only follow. So now that I think about it, I think patience is one of the fruits that is most difficult for me! 

What fruit of the spirit do you struggle with? 

Thursday, January 5, 2017

New Year, New Fun (-->Book Club!!)

I'm very excited to share with you my newest project for 2017. I have selected 12 inspirational/encouraging books to read for the year. On the last weekday of each month, I will post a review of the book, including inspirational points. You are invited (and encouraged!!) to link up on your blog or to simply add your own take on the book in the comments. The whole point of the book club is to get us all inspired in 2017!

Here you have it, the breakdown of books for the year with the post dates. I've linked them all up to Goodreads so that you can see if you are interested in reading (although I think you should try them all!!!!)

1. Let's All Be Brave, Annie F. Downs (January 31)
2. When Breath Becomes Air, Paul Kalanithi (February 28) 
3. Daring Greatly, Brene Brown (March 31)
4. Marriage Matters, Winston T. Smith (April 28)  
5. How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie (May 31) 
6. The Nesting Place, Myquillyn Smith (June 30)       
7. An Uncomplicated Life, Paul Daugherty (July 31) 
8. Make It Happen, Lara Casey (August 31) 
9. The Measure of Success, Carolyn McCulley & Nora Shank (September 29) 
10. Wild in the Hollow, Amber C. Haines (October 31)
11. Simply Tuesday, Emily P. Freeman (November 30) 
12. The Story of My Life, Helen Keller (December 29) 

As you can see, I've tried to chose a wide range of topics-- from relationships to faith to historical to self-growth. I hope you will join me in this journey for inspiration and encouragement in 2017. If you are going to participate, please grab a button or share on Pinterest! Thanks! 

P.S. If you are a blogger and would like to co-host this book club with me, send me an email

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Welcome 2017

Happy 2017, my friends!

There is so much hope in new year. Hope for the future, hope for growth and change. I hope this will be the year that Jesus returns, but if not, I want it to be a year of personal growth for me. I don't make resolutions, per se, but I do make small steps for myself that I believe will help me grow. 

For example, this year I desire to be closer to God and closer to my siblings, so I am going to pray every morning right when I wake up and text my siblings more often (at first I said every day, but that might be going overboard, ha!). 

Whether or not you like to make resolutions, I encourage you to do a self assessment and see where you stand. Where do you feel like you need to grow? Are you where you want to be health wise? How about spiritually? Are your family and your marriage relationships where you want them to be? Maybe you are great in some of these areas but you need to work on your patience or your kindness.

If not, now is the time to change. What's holding you back? The new year isn't the only time to make changes in your life, but it is the perfect time to rethink where you're going. 

It doesn't have to be huge changes. Realistically, it probably shouldn't be huge changes. But little steps take you to huge changes. If you aren't making any changes in your life, you aren't getting anywhere. Being content with where you are is good, but it's also important to grow. 

Use 2017 as the year to get closer to God. Use it as the year to do good and show love to the world. Use it as the year to step closer to the person you desire to be. You can do it! 

Ringing in the new year with friends and family! 
I'm so thankful for all of you who share in this life with me! What are your goals/resolutions/changes for 2017?