Decorating Time is Here!

Full Confession, this post has been written for a few weeks and I am just now posting it. Why you ask? Honestly, I needed to take a few pictures and I just didn’t get them done. So, please enjoy this post even though the timeline is a little off. I do hope you find these tips useful.

I am taking a break from my book recommendations to talk about winter and holidays. We are at that time of year. We had our first snow of the season last week and even broke records for the amount of snowfall on such an early date. It is pretty, but I am not quite ready for all of the cold!

However, when you have a snow day and school is cancelled due to several inches of snow on the ground, it really gets you in the holiday spirit. Since school cancelled my daughter and I really propelled into the holiday spirit. Makenna asked us to decorate for Christmas a few times that day, Christmas music filled the air and we enjoyed some coffee together this morning taking in the pretty snow. Full disclosure, I couldn’t take it and started decorating about a week later. I have never decorated before Thanksgiving before, but I am not hosting Thanksgiving dinner and I just was too excited not to start!

I love Christmas and look forward to decorating my home every year. It is so cozy and warm feeling with all of the lights. It is fun to have special decorations I only see once a year. Last year was our first Christmas in our new house and, at the time, the Christmas decorations were the only decorations I had up, so our house looked super bare when I took everything down. Christmas is an enjoyable time for me and I really am excited for it to come!

I have always been fairly “crafty” and enjoy repurposing items, but I have not used those creative juices lately. I have always liked to take something and restore it or use it in a different way. I always look at clearance items and see if I can make something out of it. It takes me a little bit to get the mind flowing and come up with some new decorating ideas, but once I start I am ready to roll.

Today I wanted to write about ways you can prepare your home for the holidays without having to spend a lot of money. It is amazing how a few sprigs of greenery and some lights can transform a room. You can make really cool things out of finds from the Dollar Store and really have fun with it all! So let’s dive in!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is lantern.jpg

One thing I was super excited about was a few lanterns I found at Aldi on clearance. I think they were marked down because they considered them a Fall item, but the were black, so I snatched four of them up! They were only $2.50 each and then I picked up a few winter flower picks from the Dollar Tree and made a pretty cute addition to my decor. Here is a pic of one of them. I decided not to glue anything on because I wanted to be able to use the lanterns other ways. (I will have a grad party to plan next year… I mean, Makenna is only a junior, but time flies and you need to be prepared!)  🙂

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is wreath-on-door-633x1024.jpg

I recently watched a story on Instagram and the girl talked about some fun decorating ideas she found at Wal-Mart. I am not typically a Wal-Mart shopper, but I loved the ideas and have found some pretty inexpensive goodies there too. I bought this wreath for my front door and added a few picks and wala, an adorable wreath ready for Christmas! I didn’t add anything for Fall, but I will next year. I love how you can just move around a few picks and you have a new look! Plus, it was a good price! I also found some really nice flower picks in Wal-Mart too.

Some of the picks were $.97 and some were $5, you cannot beat that price! I have always wondered why craft stores charge so much for theirs. Some of them may be more elaborate, but in the scope of things, who really can tell? You just have to be careful what you choose and look for items that look nice. Make sure to avoid too much plastic and look for the most authentic you can find. 

Another thing you can do is use a scarf for a tree skirt. I saw a display of this and thought it was a great idea. You can find some pretty inexpensive blanket scarves at places and you have a great addition to your tree. Especially those of us who have several trees in our home. 🙂

Often I take something from the Dollar Tree and transform it to use in a different way. For example, I haven’t done anything yet, but I found these signs with metal words that say “Jingle all the Way”. I am going to pop the saying off and either paint the background to fit my style, or add it to something else. The more you think out of the box, the more you find some neat things to make. They look like they cost a lot and, in actuality, they didn’t cost much at all!! 

As I come up with more ideas, I will let you know. What are your favorite inexpensive decorating tips? I would love to know, comment below! 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Screen-Shot-2019-10-01-at-1.01.34-PM.png

Continuing to Grow

After reading the book Change Your Questions, Change Your Life by Marilee Adams I mentioned in my last post I was ready to read more. I have been encouraged to continue to read and listen to books and podcasts to grow. I now have a Traveling University. I listen on the go, while making dinner, during my morning clean up, on my walk, and so on. I have found it so inspiring to listen and learn as I begin my day during my exercise or ending the day with a good listen.

I have so many books that have impacted me in one way or another and I still cannot believe I am recommending books. I was always the one that didn’t have time to read or just didn’t make it a priority, but when my mind was expanded to all I could listen to and read that would help me develop into the woman I was meant to be, I now love to read.

I have several books I wanted to highlight, but today I will narrow it down to books written by people I have met! I don’t know any of these authors well, but I feel like I do. All three of these authors are people who are part of the amazing wellness/health coaching program I am privileged to be part of. They are all leaders in the company and take a lot of time out of their lives to help pour into other coaches like me, clients and friends to help them learn to live their best lives. I truly look up to them and have loved the chance to read and listen to their books!

First of all, I want to make sure you know many of the books I “read” I actually listen to. I invested in Audible as well as use the amazing Hoopla app that allows me to listen to audiobooks for free through my local library. I typically look at Hoopla first, but always have a book I am excited to use my credit on for Audible. I think it is a wise investment because there is so much you can learn from a book. Whether you listen to fiction or really enjoy non-fiction, there are so many options.

The first book I want to highlight is Chasing Better by Corey Baker. It is a quick and easy read or listen. I have the physical book and the audio version. Because I have heard and seen Corey speak, I enjoyed listening to the audiobook because I know his sincerity and passion and can hear that while I listen. He challenges you to chase better each day. You don’t have to make crazy huge leaps to be different, but just strive to be a better you than you were the day before. He is straight to the point and guides you along a journey of bettering yourself daily. In the book he mentioned Ed Mylet’s podcast where Ed spoke about meeting your future self. Corey says, “Ed talks a lot about this subject in his podcasts. One of the things that he said, which has become my lifeline mission, is at the end of his life, he wants the person he is striving to be and the person he actually is to be the same person.”  I want to meet the Stephanie I was meant to be and I definitely want to recognize the woman I am when it comes to that day.

Church Boy to Millionaire by Doug Wood is the next book I wanted to mention. Now, before you leave the post, I want to let you know the book is not about what you think it is about. Doug is talking about having a Millionaire Mindset, living life above the line and removing the junk that weighs us down. He has such passion and you can pick the book up and really read whatever chapter you want in any order. He has Dougisms throughout the book which are little nuggets to live by. He has such a passion to help others and doesn’t let the things around him get in his way for helping others find success. He teaches you not to settle for average, but to keep going for more. You learn to not limit your dreams to a social standard, but put forward your goals and aspirations and run toward them. He has a great podcast too, you can listen to this here. Plus, sometimes his wife Thea is on the podcast and she is amazing. I have mentioned her in a previous blog post. You can see that here.

Last, but certainly not least, is Megan Valentine’s book, No Place Like Known. This book rocks! Seriously, if you think you don’t have what it takes to live out your dreams and be a mom, wife, employee, etc., she shows you that you can. You can go for your dreams and be an excellent mom. Your dreams matter. What you are passionate about has a purpose. Megan relates her own story and growth to help you learn on your own journey to greatness and living your best life. She has a mantra, you have one life, live it to the fullest and gives you permission to live it out loud. She encourages that you are made for more, go do it, don’t settle, you are worth going for it. Don’t doubt who you are meant to be, who God has designed for you to be. You are amazing, you really are.

I could not even give each of these books enough justice. I find filling my mind with positivity like these books makes me a better mom, friend, wife, and so on. If you have read or listened to any of these books, I would love to hear your thoughts. If you haven’t, invest in yourself and pick up a copy today!


Starting Growth

As promised, I told you I would lay out some suggestions of books and podcasts that have really inspired me to grow in my mindset. My mindset shift has seriously changed my life and I want to help others see that they, too, can chase better and be so grateful they did. So, today I am recommending the book that began my journey to change in a different way. I am so very thankful for my growth and seriously know that each day I take steps to be a better me. 

To really recommend this book, it will help to tell you all about where it all started. I am privileged to have a mentorship team with my wellness/health coach business. I cannot tell you enough about how amazing these women are and how much they have poured into me in amazing ways. One of the days in our message thread, one of my mentors, Laurie, asked me what I was reading. I had already begun reading more and listening to audiobooks, but not really reading things that worked on who I was as a person. I read and listened to some amazing books that I still highly recommend, but nothing that truly worked on my mindset or how I looked at myself. I have always liked books where I learn something, but usually they are about organizing or working on perfecting my to do list or how to be a better Christ follower. Again, these books have been powerful in my life, as well, and have tons to recommend, but the book Laurie suggested was different. 

Laurie suggested I read the book “Change Your Questions, Change Your Life,” by Marilee Adams. This book gave me a different perspective on how I look at things that come at me and ultimately how I respond to them. I learned to have a Learner mindset instead of a Judger mindset. I ultimately learned how to reframe my mind to look at situations around me in a different light. She walks through a story of a couple and helps see show how changing their questions and how they approached things that came in their lives made a huge impact. Throughout the book, you learn how to apply these principles to look at your own life differently as well. Judger and Learner may not be what you think it is, so I highly recommend that you read this book. If you do, please let me know what you think. 🙂

So after reading this book, am I perfect? Ha! Absolutely not, but I am learning how to reframe my mindset and look at things with a different outlook. I am not a victim, but a woman walking along the journey God has laid out for me. I am not stuck in one way, not defined by what I have or have not done, but truly am growing and becoming who I am meant to be daily. I am meant for more and it is okay to work toward that more!

Do you have a book that has changed your perspective on life? I would love for you to share! I will have more recommendations for you, but I thought this was a great place to start.

Changing Your Mindset

Friday morning I was privileged to be part of a planning session for a training call that occurs Saturday morning. I am not in the place of leadership that most of the leaders are in on this call, but I was still recommended to be part of the group. Last week I was humbled to have a chance to share a little on the training. It went well, even though I was super nervous, and I really hope it helped someone out there.

Friday’s training time really centered around mindset. Since I have started my journey, the growth in my mindset has been my biggest and most impactful part of my journey. I am thrilled to be weighing less and stepping toward wellness in my body, but I had no idea I would grow in other areas.

It really does seem crazy to me that I am considered a leader. I have always labeled myself as the girl who is quiet and doesn’t say much. I am the one who has huge ideas and dreams, but they are just in my mind, no action is usually done. Through my mindset shift, I find myself doing so many more things than I ever even imagined. For example, talking on a zoom (video call) to other leaders for 5 minutes…wait was that really me? Ha!

Have you ever heard of limiting beliefs? This was a new term for me until I started to work on my personal development. I never knew there was a way to build confidence or increase my leadership skills. I always thought I was just that quiet, shy girl who would always have dreams of doing something big, but would never be capable. I really thought I would never move ahead in life and change just wasn’t ever going to happen. I had a limiting belief that I could never be something more than a shy girl with some gifts, but I didn’t have anything that would ever propel me forward. I felt stuck, unlucky, unworthy, and incomplete.

As a Christ follower, I have understood that I should be content with my life no matter the circumstances, so I always worried that dreaming big would be against what God wanted. However, I have learned the difference between dreaming big and going toward the goals God has laid in my heart and being content. I think a good amount of my drive is because it is founded by a solid why. My why is the deep reason or the foundation for wanting to reach my dreams. God has given me amazing abilities to do the work He has designed for me. Who am I to allow my own disbelief to speak louder than the call God has laid on my heart?

I have found my community within my company to be a big part of my growth. I have learned from mentors and friends and have been challenged to grow more in the last year and a half, then I have had my whole life. This learning and growing is something I am enjoying.  Seriously, I am! I may not always like what I am challenged with, but with my shift in mindset, each thing that is brought before me is easier to take in and listen to. I look at ways to grow and improve each day to chase better than I was the day before. The way I have been challenged to grow has been resulting in amazing change, change I really never thought could take place. 

Do you have anyone in your sphere of influence to help challenge you to grow? Is there anyone who listens to what you say and helps you see it in a different way? Anyone in your tribe that isn’t afraid to lovingly challenge you to look at your situation through a different lens? 

What are you reading or listening to that will help you broaden your mindset for growth? Do you even take time during the day to do things that will help you chase better each day? I will write another post about some of the books and podcasts I have really enjoyed in my journey of growth. I definitely have not arrived, but the growth I have made spurs me on to travel ahead and realize my future is bright and full of dreams and goals that will become a reality. I am becoming each day, how about you?

Get your Free Encouragement Cards

When Things Happen

Ever have one of those days? The ones where you feel like you have failed in everything? The one where you think you might be okay and then something happens and you come crashing down? You feel like you have taken about 5,000 steps back with one misstep? You have? Me too. 

I had something come up recently that hit me hard. It was one of those things you don’t want to hear and wish that you could go back in time and correct it. If somehow I could make it go away like it never happened, I would just take total control and avoid it at all costs.

The problem is, once something happens, you can’t change it. There is no time machine to take you back before the issue began. You might even not know where it all started and just mess everything else up by trying to fix something else. (Ever see Back to the Future? This is clearly displayed in that movie.) Unfortunately, once something has happened you cannot look at the what ifs, the should haves, the if onlys and make a different outcome. No matter how much you wish for it, you cannot change the past. What you can do is choose to move past it.

I get you, it is hard to move past some things. It isn’t as easy as thinking about the future and forgetting the past. Sometimes the past is pounding on the door and it is really hard to ignore it. No matter how much you ignore it, it doesn’t go away. What happened has happened, the end. However, making a conscious effort to choose to move forward is still what is needed to heal. Obstacles and hardships happen to everyone. Some have way more issues than others, but we all do have them in some form. Sometimes the obstacle are well hidden, but they are there. Maybe everything seems good and perfect from the outside, but if you could take a peek in, you might be surprised by what you find.

You are NOT alone in any of this. There are many things I could do in a situation like I am dealing with today, but there are only a few right steps to take. Though there are many steps to take, but the one I want to focus on today is to get out of the blame game!

My gut reaction, and I am guessing it is yours too, is to blame yourself or someone else. You make the situation all about you in some way. Sometimes it is something we have personally done and we need to own up to what happened and rectify the situation, and sometimes it really is someone else’s issue. When it is something you have done, as I said, you need to own up and do what is right, but when it is not in your power or control, you need to look at it differently. 

Even though I have spent countless hours listening to personal development books and podcasts, leaned into my mentors, and studied the scriptures, sometimes I still fall into the same old bad self talk. I want to put myself down and think of all of the what ifs I can to somehow make it go away. Even though my current situation does involve me somewhat, it is not because of something I did wrong. This situation affects me, but it is not because of me. When people make decisions, those decisions are done by them and them alone. Yes, there may be influences along the way, but no blame should be shifted on anyone else but themselves. They still chose to do whatever they did. Right or wrong, it is in their hands. 

Now, I am not saying to not have compassion or to help them walk through the journey they need to for restoration and forgiveness, but get yourself out of the way and let it be time for the to do the steps to correct or heal. When we make things all about us, we are missing out on the restoration and growth. We make excuses for others and find it hard to let things go.

So, how do we shift our mindset? What do you do in order to step away from the blame game? How do we choose joy through it all? In James 1:2-8 The Message paraphrase says:

2-4 Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.
5-8 If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who “worry their prayers” are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.

I love how this passage says to pray, and pray when you don’t know what you are doing. There is no judgement, just talk to God and ask Him to lead you though it, Let’s make a move and look to God as our first step when facing the tough stuff. I am not saying it will all be wonderful once you call on Him, but it will ease the burden and allow you to rest on Him and not on your own power. 

God LOVES you, just as you are. You don’t have to be a certain way, act out a specific performance, doing everything perfect, but be you. Be raw, authentic, real and look to Him for your guidance and allow His amazing love wrap around you and carry you through whatever comes your way. In Him, you will find the peace to walk through whatever news you hear. His arms are open wide, you just have to fall deep into them. 

Organized?

Last week I was listening to various Organizers in an Organized HQ online daily courses. They were great! I believe they have done these for a few years, so I assume there will be more! I am not sure if you can join these after the fact, but you can go to the I Heart Planner website and enroll in her FREE organization course. Go here to learn more.

One thing I realized I have always enjoyed is the “idea” of organizing. I would not say I am the most organized person, but I am definitely interested in organizing and love the thought of having everything have a place. I am not sure if I just like the look of pretty organization or if I actually long to have things organized. 🙂 Anyone else with me?

Pretty, right? Found this on Pinterest.

On these webinars there has been a ton of tips shared. Quite a few of them I have used for years and other ideas were new to me. I think the excitement of having an organized life gets me energized than the actual completing of organizing. I will spend lots of time learning about ways to organize and probably could actually give away a ton of tips, but yet if you saw my desk right now, you would not want to trust what I say. Ha ha!

What are your favorite organization tips? How do you stay organized if you work at home? What is your biggest challenge? Let me know, maybe we can figure this organization thing out together. 🙂 Post your comments below or send me your thoughts via Instagram or Facebook.

Stephanie

Above the Line

I am in Starbucks today. I really like coming here to write. I like being around people and hearing the sounds and seeing all those who come in and out. Even though the table is up super high and I have to sit on my leg to reach my keyboard correctly, I still like coming. I love the smell of the coffee and the hustle and bustle of the atmosphere. 

One thing I like about coming is that it reminds me why I want to write. I see people come in and realize they each have a story, each one has something on their heart. The mom that comes in with their toddler, who just wants a little “normal adult activity” in her day while still being a mom to her kiddos. Women that come in together and chat and share life together, people doing business on their laptops, kids stopping by for something good to drink after classes, and so forth. Each person has a name, a story, a need, a thought, maybe even a burden. People have so much and carry so much on their heart throughout their day. Some handle it with a smile or positive attitude and others wear it all over their face and actions. People need love, they need to be accepted and cared for, they need friendship and companionship, and they need to know they are seen and heard.

My purpose in writing is to help others see their potential in who God made them. I don’t know their stories and I may not actually have a chance to meet those I am near, but it reminds me that there are people everywhere who need encouragement. So, I do my best in my own corner of the world to share joy, love, peace and meet others where they are at.

As a woman I have dealt with all kinds of thoughts throughout the day. I will wake up with determination to conquer the day and set good intentions to soar and be the best I can be, then I get out of bed. Lol. Not saying all days don’t go well, but don’t you love those super productive days? You know, the ones you wake up and are in full swing, checking off your to do list, making those calls and appointments, dinner is prepped, the house is cleaned, the errands are done and you even had a chance to greet your family with a smile. Those days are very few, far and between as they say.

So many days I wake up with a plan and things don’t go the way I want. My intentions are the same and my attitude could be as well, but I still just don’t make the grade. Today was that kind of day for me.  Well, sort of, there is still day left so there is still hope. I am currently writing while in Starbucks, so it can’t be too bad, right?

My errands today did not go as planned. I stopped at a Kirkland’s looking for a lamp, I did not find the lamp I wanted, but I got to walk in a store that looks like Pinterest threw a party in there. Lol. I then went to Target with a mission to find a pair of shorts my daughter needed.  I didn’t find what I need and I left without buying anything. (There should be a ribbon or a medal for that feat!) I next went to Walmart. The entrance to the parking lot was blocked off, but there was NO sign. I along with countless others did a u-turn and then waited in an unusually long line to turn left so we could enter into the other entrance. I do not care for Walmart. I would have avoided going there, but I heard another mom say that they carried the pants version of the shorts I needed, so I gave it a shot. I did not see the pants nor the shorts. Sigh.

While in Walmart I had the bright idea to check Amazon for the shorts I needed and wondered why didn’t I do that earlier? I ordered them…they will be here tomorrow!! Yay! Next I went to the dollar store. I went to a different dollar store the other day searching for some containers I saw on an organization summit I was part of last week. They didn’t have what they showed on the summit, but I did find something I thought would work. They were perfect, but I didn’t buy enough. This dollar store did not have them. No money spent at the stores. I almost texted my husband to tell him I was saving him money at every store I went to by not finding what I wanted. Lol

So, why did I share all of this? I noticed my attitude was not the best throughout my errands. I was energized at first because I stuck to my plan and was making sure to make the time to get here to write. I was going to come here first, but decided to remove the distraction of the errands before coming. I am glad I did because  I wouldn’t have had all of this to write about. I started out okay with my attitude. I was sad about the lamp, but didn’t let it ruin my day. I was proud of myself for not buying anything at Target. The driving from Target to Walmart is where my attitude shifted. I was due for my fueling so I was starting to get hungry and I was dealing with unusual traffic. (For anyone that reads this that lives in a bigger city, you would laugh at the “traffic” I dealt with. Ha ha.) I found myself getting frustrated and getting impatient with the whole Walmart turn around and the parking lot was chaotic with people driving through the lanes instead of up and down them. That drives me nuts!  Then, when I was walking into Walmart a woman started a conversation with me. I immediately realized I needed to change my attitude.  She asked if there was not a sign about the entrance being closed. I was still a bit heated but kindly told her there was not. We discussed the unusual traffic and I mentioned the inconvenience of it all. She said she recognized me from my sunglasses and I immediately thought, “Oh no, did I look angry or mean?“  She gave me a compliment about the sunglasses and was so kind. It was right then and there I knew my attitude could have been better. I told her thank you and let her know I may have looked frustrated and I hope my negative attitude didn’t show through. She didn’t say whether or not she noticed, but I was glad she said hello. It is all in perspective. I don’t know which way she was coming from and if she knew the parking lot was blocked, but she handled it with calm and ease. I was in such a hurry, I didn’t even take time to get her name and thank her properly. I did not have a positive attitude and really wish I would have handled the whole thing differently. I have learned a lesson and am thanking her wherever she is. “Whoever you are kind woman in the Walmart parking lot, thank you. Thank you for being kind and patient and friendly today. “

I know it can be super frustrating when things don’t go our way. Our schedule gets altered, plans change, interruptions come, time goes by faster than you expected, and so on. How we handle those hiccups is where it is at. I know I have lots to learn about taking things as they come and learning to be present in the moment. I need to learn not to react, but choose to act with calm and clarity. Choosing to be above the line in the situation is key. I didn’t choose to look at the traffic with an above the line mindset, I was definitely looking at it incorrectly with a below the line mindset. What is able the line mindset you ask? Above the line verses below the line is simply this:

“The model is a simple black line. At any moment a leader is either above the line or below the line. When we are above the line, we are open, curious and committed to learning. When we’re below the line, we’re closed, defensive and committed to being right. What we suggest is that the first fundamental building block of conscious leadership is the ability to accurately locate yourself at any moment, asking, ‘Am I above or below the line?’” – Skip Prichard 

To find out more about this, you can check out the book 15 Commitments to Conscious Leadership by Jim Dethmer, Diana Chapman and Kaley Warner Klemp. Even if you are not a “leader” in the formal sense, it is a great book to learn. We all are leaders in some form, it is not just in business, but that is a topic for another day. 

So, today as you go about your day, take time to stop and take a moment to reflect on what is happening to you. How can you respond to the situation at hand? What can you do to face it with an open mind and calm heart? Let’s learn to live out our lives with a mindset that aims for responding with the above the line approach. Are you in this with me?

Stephanie

Community

A few days ago I wrote about a sunflower I saw on my bike ride. It is still one of my favorite things to look for each time I ride by, but yesterday I saw something that made me think. I have ridden my bike to the same spot many times, but yesterday I noticed a whole field of sunflowers. They were beautiful! I am guessing they may not have bloomed yet the last time I rode that way. Or, my vision could have been blocked by the ugly road construction sign posted right in front of the field. (Those construction signs are EVERYWHERE in Ohio right now!) I was so captured by the beauty, I left my bike on the trail, walked past the ugly sign and did an Insta live. The pictures velow do NOT give these flowers justice.

One thing I noticed about the beautiful field of sunflowers was how big they were. They were bold and colorful and all bowing toward the morning sun. The sunflower I took a picture of earlier in the week was beautiful and mighty growing amongst the other weeds, but the flowers in the field were larger and thriving! They were surrounded and supported by each other.

This made me think how much we need community in our lives. Yes, I still stand by everything I wrote the other day about taking steps and doing what is needed no matter how you were planted, but how much easier it is for us to do things when we are supported by community! Community is a place to belong, feel supported, and loved.

I am privileged to be part of a healthy community that I love and adore. I am accepted, loved, and encouraged daily. When we tackle things in our lives we are unsure about it is so helpful to have others around us. People like-minded working alongside us and having similar goals right there with us. Another place to find community is within church and specifically smaller groups within the church. We all want to belong and feel wanted and accepted for who we are. Each of us desire support when things are tough and have others celebrate with us in our victories.

I know I have thrived on my health journey because of the community established within the program. People who identify with where I am at and encourage me along the way. Mentors who challenge me to do and be more and help me see where I can grow and mature. Seriously, the best source of community I have ever been involved in. Even if I didn’t lose all my weight, what I have gained through this community has been life changing!

My morning devotional today was talking about friendship. The author talked about walking in a room and having the feeling of wanting to belong. Have you ever been there? I know I have! I can identify with walking in a room filled with groups of people having conversations and wondering where in the world I should go. You feel left out and unsure of where you fit in. You don’t want to bother people or interrupt their conversations, and you are worried that they don’t want you around. In the devotional the author then mentioned a circle that opened up and a friend that waved her over to join the group. She offered her a place to belong, feel wanted and accepted. Isn’t that what we all want?

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.

Romans 12:10

When my family and I first moved to Ohio I was pretty lonely. I only knew my family, I didn’t know the area and I certainly didn’t have friends close by to call on. We started attending a church and slowly were trying to feel accepted and wanted. I attended bible studies and mom groups and was trying so hard to feel like I belonged somewhere. It was a really hard and lonely time and I know the community I have now would have been so nice to have at that time!

I will never forget the day I was walking to my car and I received a text. This girl (now one of my besties) texted me and just said hi. She asked how I was doing and said she would love to get together some time. That was the BEST text I probably have ever received. I hope she know this, it really was so wonderful. I just wanted community, I wanted to belong, feel loved, accepted and that I had a place amongst the field of flowers.

I truly hope I make decisions daily to be the one who opens the circle and allows others in. Community is so important and helps us thrive and I hope this helps you to look around and see who around you needs to belong. Will you open the circle and invite someone to join you in your field of sunflowers?

Loved.

A few days ago I read the parable in Luke 15 about the prodigal son and I was brought to tears. If you don’t know this passage, you can read it here. I love when the son is embraced by his father and how he is so excited that his son is safe and sound. He loved him so much and no matter what he chose to do, his father was so rejoiced to see him again. It is an amazing parallel of how truly our God loves us. No matter what we may have done, He loves us, He’s waiting for us, His arms were open wide and He is ready to shower us with His love. 

There are three characters in the parable, the father, and the older and younger son. We read about all the younger son has chosen to do and the mistakes and sinful desires he chose to live out. He used up all his inheritance and realized that he wasted all he had and was living with less than even the servants in his father’s home lived. Mistakes most of us would judge and lack compassion for. However, as a parent, I understand the compassion the father has for his younger son and can completely understand the father’s response to his return. He was so overwhelmed with joy, it didn’t matter what he did, he rejoiced because he was found. He loved him without judgement, without him being deserving, he just loved him.

I thought about this type of love during our worship time on Sunday. We sang the song. Forever Reign by Hillsong with the chorus that says “Oh, I’m running to Your arms, I’m running to Your arms, the riches of your love, will always be enough. Nothing compares to Your embrace, Light of the world forever reign.” Just like a young child runs to meet his mom or dad when they return home, we are able to run to our father the same way. Run into His loving arms. Run to the ONE who paid the ultimate price for us. Open arms of love, compassion, joy and forgiveness.

At the end of the passage when the older son approached his father and I again teared up. He went to his father and was just completely angry and hurt that his younger brother who didn’t fall all the rules was now being celebrated. So often I can understand the older son’s point of view. I’ve always been someone that tries to do the best I can and follow the rules and sometimes, it feels as if following the rules doesn’t pay off. Yes, I have a good conscience most of the time, but I see those around me making unwise choices, yet seem to prosper in my eyes. Don’t we all do that at some times? We think we are deserving of love or attention or praise, but really we are not. Yes, we are called to listen and obey and I truly believe the rewards in heaven we will receive will be far greater than the rewards and praise we will receive here on earth. We don’t deserve anything, but our God lovingly will give to us in ways we don’t even know.

Th last two verses in the passage is when the tears hit again. Read it below.

31 “My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’

Did you catch that? The father said to his son, “you are always with me.” The older son thought he was being overlooked, but the father knew he was right there. He knew he could count on him. He knew that his older son would do all he could do to serve and do as he should. He didn’t have to worry about the older son because he was making choices that were good, right and obedient.

So, for those of us that are striving to do what is right, you are loved. You are seen and noticed and appreciated. You may not see the recognition or praise, but you are appreciated, loved and allowing room for those who need that extra love and forgiveness to receive what they need. Our father knows our heart, he knows our motives and He knows our love. Rest in HIS amazing love and be comforted that you are seen and you are loved.

Standing Out

Yesterday I took a bike ride and noticed the sunflowers pictured above. I love riding my bike on the trail near our house and see the butterflies, birds, chipmunks, and what I think are ground hogs that gather around the trail.

The sunflowers stood out to me because for quite awhile on the trail everything is just green. The weeds are large and are in various sizes and shapes and shades of green, but somehow all look beautiful in their own way. It is definitely the evidence of summer.

The reason the sunflowers caught my eye was not only the bold yellow against the green, but also how they were standing tall amongst the weeds. These two little sunflowers were all alone on the path away from any others like them. Being they were near other weeds, I am guessing the seed was dropped there by a bird or animal at one point. They grew where they were placed without hesitation. They received the right amount of soil and water to do their thing and grew right where they were placed.

This made me think about us and how we so often stunt our bloom because we don’t think we are in the right place or our timing was not quite right. Over the last year or so I have learned that taking steps toward growth, despite the obstacles that come my way, is so worth it. If I had waited until everything was just right to take my health into priority, I may not be where I am today. Had those before me not bloomed where they were planted when the time arose, I may not be where I am today.

Sometimes in life we are looking for the perfect situations to begin something. However, I have found that most of the time the perfect situation never is really here. Stepping out in faith to make a change, take a risk, move ahead, is just that, a step. You are not expected to be perfect and do everything perfect, but the step is what counts. Growing where you are planted and doing the steps needed to succeed.

I know the sunflowers on the path are not perfect, but they still have grown. Maybe they would have grown faster if they were surrounded by other sunflowers or were harvested on purpose where they were planted, but the point is, they did grow. They put aside whatever obstacles could have been in their way and just grew.

So, the challenge is this, what are you waiting to do, that you just need to step out in faith and do?

Will you be the sunflower standing among the weeds, or the seed that are waiting for the right and perfect conditions?

1 2 3