February 2017 Favorites

I thought it would be fun if I took a moment each month to let you know what things are currently striking my fancy, so here goes the February installment!

Current favorites:51hg3cuofzl-_sx331_bo1204203200_

Book: I’ve been enjoying Brené Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. I’ve been taking notes like crazy (8+ on my computer) and trying to absorb all the wisdom. I love how she writes such practical things in a way that I had never thought of before. I’ve also read Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, another book of hers, and it was fabulous, too! It currently resides on my nightstand. : )

Food: My family made some chocolate-dipped strawberries and lemon_berry_chia_front_01__04872-1423265860-1280-1280bananas this week when we had dinner together. They were so simple, but so tasty! I also sampled some delicious Whole Me lemon berry chia granola at the Fit for Her Minneapolis event earlier this month, which I loved!

Verse: “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.” – Ephesians 2:10. I love being reminded that I, that we, are God’s masterpiece, His workmanship, something He’s immensely proud of and satisfied in. We aren’t mistakes. We aren’t accidents. We’re beautiful and beloved treasures of the Most High. Not only that, but He has good things in store for us. He knows each of us so well that He has set apart things for us to do, unique ways for us to impact the world around us. How amazing is that?!

Song: “Road Less Traveled” by Lauren Alaina. I love the reminder to stand out, be different, be yourself, and not find your worth in your appearance or your ability to fit in.

Why do you keep on staring?
That mirror, mirror, it ain’t fair at all
Dress sizes can’t define, don’t let the world decide what’s beautiful

You won’t make yourself a name if you follow the rules
History gets made when you’re acting a fool
So don’t hold it back and just run it
Show what you got and just own it
No, they can’t tear you apart

If you trust your rebel heart, ride it into battle
Don’t be afraid, take the road less traveled
Wear out your boots and kick up the gravel
Don’t be afraid, take the road less traveled on
Take the road less traveled on

Don’t follow anyone
March to the rhythm of a different drum
Why do we analyze, break out, and criticize the crazy ones?

You won’t make yourself a name if you follow the rules
History gets made when you’re acting a fool
So don’t hold it back and just run it
Show what you got and just own it
No, they can’t tear you apart, no

If you trust your rebel heart, ride it into battle
Don’t be afraid, take the road less traveled
Wear out your boots and kick up the gravel
Don’t be afraid, take the road less traveled on
Take the road less traveled on
Take the road less traveled on

Put your hands up, show me that you’re one of a kind
Put your hands up, let me hear your voice tonight

If you trust your rebel heart, ride it into battle
Don’t be afraid, take the road less traveled
Wear out your boots and kick up the gravel
Don’t be afraid, take the road less traveled on

TV Show: I’ve been watching Revenge on Netflix, and I love how complex it is, even if it thgets a little darker and more diabolical than what I usually gravitate toward. I can’t anticipate what happens next and am continually surprised at how all the characters stories and motives are so interconnected. I also watched all of Hart of Dixie and fell in love with the characters. It helps that Needtobreathe’s music was featured in a few episodes (including a huge dance number in the finale), and they performed on the show, too!

Memory from last month: I had a really good time hanging out with some of my best friends for a galentine’s party a few weeks ago. We had lots of treats, watched the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants movies (sort of, we may or may not have talked all the imageway through them), and did each other’s makeup, trying all sorts of new products. It was so good to catch up with them and just spend time in each other’s company.

I also had a wonderful time at the Fit for Her Minneapolis event hosted by nourish move love, Fit Foodie Finds, and The Her Initiative. We had an intense HIIT barre workout, ate delicious snacks, perused some amazing products from local, women-run businesses, and raised $6,700 for clean water and hygiene education!

Looking forward to this month: My sister’s birthday is in March, and I’m excited to celebrate with her!

 

Now it’s your turn. What are some of your favorite things? I’d love to hear them!

 

 

Book image source: https://www.amazon.com/Gifts-Imperfection-Think-Supposed-Embrace/dp/159285849X

TV show image source: http://masterherald.com/

Wholeme image source: wholeme.com

That Reminds Me

Do you ever hear a song and feel like it was written specifically for you? Or played at the perfect moment, just when you desperately needed to hear it? That happens to me quite often.

I decided that my word for this year is beloved. I’ve been asking myself if my knee-jerk responses to circumstances, conversations, and actions of myself and others are loving or not as a filter to determine how I should respond. Sometimes I do myself proud and choose a more loving response. Sometimes I forget completely and allow my default reaction to surface– one that is often not very loving in nature.

But I’ve heard several songs on the radio lately that remind me of who I am, and they have served as well-timed and desperately-needed reminders of my identity, regardless of how well I perform or try to respond more lovingly.

So whether I need to remember who I am, who Christ is, or what my purpose is, these songs (and plenty of others) come to the rescue with little daily reminders that I so desperately need.

You are loved
If your heart’s in a thousand pieces
If you’re lost and you’re far from reason
Just look up; know you are loved
Just look up; and know you are loved
When it feels like something’s missing
If it hurts but you can’t find healing
Just look up, know you are loved
Just look up, know you are loved

And you, don’t have to prove yourself
Don’t try to be someone else
You don’t have to prove yourself
Don’t try to be someone else

You are loved

-“You Are Loved” by Stars Go Dim

You are essential, not accidental
And you should realize
You are beloved
I wanted you to know
You are beloved
Let it soak into your soul
Oh, forget the lies you heard
Rise above the hurt
And listen to these words
You are beloved
I wanted you to know
You are beloved

-“Beloved” by Jordan Feliz

I’m tellin’ you somethin’
This racing, this running
Oh, you’re working way too hard!
And this perfection you’re chasing
Is just energy wasted
Cause He love’s you like you are!

So go ahead and live like you’re loved
It’s okay to act like you’ve been set free
His love has made you more than enough
So go ahead and be who He made you to be

And live like you’re loved
live like you’re loved
live like you’re loved
live like you’re loved

And live like you know you’re valuable
Like you know the one that holds your soul
Cause mercy has called you by your name
Don’t be afraid to live in that grace

…Live like you’re loved, walk like you’re free
Stand like you know, who he made you to be
Live like you’re loved, like you believe
His love is all, that you ever need

-“Live Like You’re Loved” by Hawk Nelson

I’m sure there are many other songs with similar messages, but these have been hitting me square between the eyes lately. If you’re looking for more uplifting, encouraging music to remind you of truth and give you better perspective throughout the day, I suggest you check out Air1 and KLOVE— they’re some of my favorites! In the meantime, look these songs up on YouTube. You’re welcome. 😉

 

Are there songs that have impacted you deeply? Feel free to share below in the comments!

October 2016 Favorites

I thought it would be fun if I took a moment each month to let you know what things are currently striking my fancy, so here goes the October installment!

Current favorites:

Book: I’ve read a few good books lately. I liked The Lake House by Kate Morton in its usethe-lake-house-by-kate-morton of different time periods and the pursuit of solving a mystery. The characters were likable and relatable, too. The plot had enough twists in it to keep me guessing, which I always appreciate. I’ve also been working through Wicked by Gregory Maguire. For some reason it’s taking me a while, but it’s interesting to read about characters who I only considered as minor when watching The Wizard of Oz. I tried reading it years ago but couldn’t get into it, and I’m proud to say I’m actually intrigued by it this time, even if it has been slow going. I also started reading No One Knows by J.T. Ellison this week, and find that my interest is piqued. It has me turning page after page, trying to figure out whodunnit.

Verse: “The Lord replied, ‘Look around at the nations; look and be amazed! For I am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn’t believe even if someone told you about it.” -Habakkuk 1:5. “This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.” -Habakkuk 2:3. Sometimes it seems like things are taking forever, like our plans aren’t unfolding the way we want them to. But it’s comforting to know that God the-afters-live-on-forever-300x300is moving, even if we can’t quite see what He’s doing just yet. He has a plan, and it’s a good one.

Song: Battles by The Afters is one of my top picks lately. I like the reminder that I’m not fighting my battles alone, and there is always hope. I have God on my side, and I have no reason to fear. I started a playlist called Truth on Spotify (one of my favorite ways to listen to music!), and this one quickly got added to the list.

This current is trying to wreck me
Like castles of sand, castles of sand.
My fear, like an enemy army
Is marching again, but I’m making a stand.

You surround me on every side
Your love is my armor I fear no evil.
Darkness runs from your light
So I won’t be afraid, I won’t be afraid.

You’re going before me
And oceans are parting
You’re fighting my battles.
When my feet are failing
And my heart is shaking
You’re fighting my battles.

Fighting my battles.
Fighting my battles.
Fighting my battles.

Time after time you’re my refuge,
You heal every scar you’re guarding my heart.
Your promise, the hope that I cling to,
My rescue, my friend you come rushing in.

And surround me on every side
Your love is my armor I fear no evil.
Darkness runs from your light
So I won’t be afraid, I won’t be afraid

You’re going before me
And oceans are parting
You’re fighting my battles.
When my feet are failing
And my heart is shaking
You’re fighting my battles.

Fighting my battles.
Fighting my battles.
Fighting my battles.

Fighting my battles.
Fighting my battles.
Fighting my battles.

In my weakness you are strong
Every trouble you have overcome
In my weakness you are strong
Every trouble you have overcome
In my weakness you are strong
Every trouble you have overcome
You have overcome

You’re going before me
And oceans are parting
You’re fighting my battles.
When my feet are failing
And my heart is shaking
You’re fighting my battles.

Food: Slow Cooker Curried Butternut Chili from Hummusapien. I’m so excited fall food img_0975season is finally upon us! I love pumpkin, apples, squash, chili, soup, spices, tea…basically all the fall things. And dark chocolate. Always dark chocolate.

Blog: I just discovered Feel Free to Laugh, a blog by Jordan Baker Watts, and it’s fabulous! She’s so funny and real, sharing highlights and lessons she’s learning the hard way, always through a lens of humor and humility.

Memory from this month: September was so full of great things! Our church celebrated its third birthday, which was such a good time. And we had a surprise birthday party for img_0972my dad. It was really good to gather the family and some old friends together for him, especially since he didn’t see it coming. I went to an apple orchard with my best friends, helped frost 500 cupcakes for a wedding, had a girls’ night, and helped coordinate the food for my cousin’s baby shower, all of which were just as much fun as I expected and more.

Looking forward to this month: I’m looking forward to celebrating my good friend’s birthday this weekend with some fun adventuring that her sister planned. She doesn’t know what we’re doing yet, but I got let in on the surprise and I think it’s going to be a great, fun-filled time! We’re even planning on turning it into a sleepover like we’re back in junior high. : )

Now it’s your turn. What are some of your favorite things? I’d love to hear them!

 

 

Book image source: www.beniceorleavethanks.com

Album image source: pathmegazine.com

September 2016 Favorites

I thought it would be fun if I took a moment each month to let you know what things are currently striking my fancy, so here goes the September installment!

Current favorites:on-which-side-of-the-road-do-flowers-grow

Book: On Which Side of the Road Do the Flowers Grow? by Wendell E. Mettey. I’ve had the ebook version of this book on my Kindle for a long time, but found myself in need of another book to read the other day, and finally cracked it open. I like the sweet stories about the people Reverend Mettey encountered throughout his life and the encouragement each vignette provides. It’s not always incredibly happy, as most of the stories end with the individuals dying, but their stories and joy live on in those whose lives they touched.

Verse: “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” – Isaiah 41:10. I have liked this verse for a long time, going back to it often. I need the frequent reminder that I am not alone. The God of the universe is with me, so I have every reason to hope, trust, and have faith that everything will work out– maybe not the brave_moriah-petersway I always want, but in a way that is beautiful in the end.

Song: Brave by Moriah Peters is my current favorite, one that makes me turn it up every time I hear it. My sister and I were jamming to this song on the way to work this week, and I was once again reminded of the powerful truth the lyrics hold. Not to mention the upbeat tempo that makes for a great sing-along at the top of your lungs!

No one ever told me
This would be easy
But I never knew
That it could be this hard
Oh the worry the worry the worry
Is weighing on me
Could you help me break down
All these question marks
And make me

Brave
I’ll fight like a soldier
Brave
Rise like a warrior
Brave
Won’t stop till the final day
Brave
I want to be stronger
Brave
Gonna be bolder
Brave
Look up and I see the way
You make me brave

I know, I know, I’m no superwoman
But impossible is possible with You
So no, no, no more running, no more hiding
Strike the fire so I’ll be fearless too
And make me brave

…None go with me
Still I’ll follow
Through the joy
And through the sorrow
Cross before me
World behind me
There’s no turning back

Brave
I’ll fight like a soldier
Brave
Rise like a warrior
Brave
Won’t stop till the final day
Brave
I want to be stronger
Brave
Gonna be bolder
Brave
Look up and I see the way
You make me brave

Food: The best thing I made in the last month was Pinch of Yum’s BBQ Chicken Sweet img_0780Potato Pizza. It was delicious! I’ve tried making a sweet potato crust for pizza before, but it didn’t come off the pan too well. This one held together much better, and the toppings were spot-on. I was really sad when it was all gone. I guess that just means I’ll have to make another one!

Blog: Food Faith Fitness by Taylor Kiser. I like the recipes Taylor shares– they’re both healthy and tasty, made with real ingredients. Sometimes they’re indulgent, sometimes they’re not; she strikes a good balance of both. I also like that she posts Sunday Reflections, where she writes about a specific passage of Scripture and what it’s been teaching her, along with prayer requests. She’s really honest about where she’s at in life, and writes like she’s talking to a good friend. Check it out!

Memory from this month: Our family trip to Nebraska img_0805and Colorado was the highlight of the last month for me. I loved getting to see members of both sides of my extended family that I hadn’t seen for a long time. And I got to fly a plane with my cousin for a little bit!

Looking forward to this month: My church is having our fall launch this Sunday, so I’m really excited to see our hard work pay off. We’ve done a lot with new signage, a different location, and new equipment, so come check it out if you’re in the area! We also have our third birthday celebration in a couple weeks– I can’t believe we’ve been around for three years! I’m looking forward to celebrating everything God has done with my church family.

Now it’s your turn. What are some of your favorite things? I’d love to hear them!

 

 

Book image source: http://moneysavingmom.com/2015/08/free-ebooks-how-to-reduce-food-waste-jump-start-your-day-plus-more.html

Album image source: thesoundopinion.com

August 2016 Favorites

I thought it would be fun if I took a moment each month to let you know what things are currently striking my fancy, so here goes the August installment!

Current favorites:

Book: Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea, by L.M. Montgomery. I read these books when I was younger and held onto my copies of them, thinking I might reread them or pass them on. I’m so glad I picked them back up this month. I love the sweetness and innocence of Anne, coupled with her quirks. I identify with certain aspects of her personality and like getting a look into life during a different era. Definitely a classic.

Song: Keep Your Head Up by Andy Grammer. I’ve had this song on my running playlist for a long time, and it always encourages me to keep going. But I also have come to appreciate the motivation when my plate is overflowing with to-do lists, tasks, plans, and chaos.

I’ve been waiting on a sunset
Bills on my mindset
I can’t deny they’re getting high
Higher than my income, income’s bread crumbs
I’ve been trying to survive
The glow that sun gets right around sunset helps me to realize
This is just a journey
Drop your worries, you are gonna turn out fine
You’ll turn out fine
Fine, oh, you’ll turn out fine…

But, you gotta keep your head up
And you can let your hair down
But, you gotta keep your head up
And you can let your hair down

I got my hands in my pockets kicking these rocks
It’s kinda hard to watch this life go by
I’m buying into skeptics
Skeptics mess with the confidence in my eyes
I’m seeing all the angles thoughts get tangled
I start to compromise my life and my purpose
Is it all worth it? Am I gonna turn out fine?
Oh oh, you turn out fine
Fine, oh oh you turn out fine

But, you gotta keep your head up
And you can let your hair down
But, you gotta keep your head up
And you can let your hair down

Only rainbows after rain
The sun will always come again and
It’s a circle, circling around again
It comes around

But, you gotta keep your head up
And you can let your hair down
But, you gotta keep your head up
And you can let your hair down

Verse: Isaiah 40: 29-31: “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” I’ve always loved this verse (I may have already included it in a Favorites post, but it warrants another one!), at least since high school. But especially in this season of chaotic running from one thing to another, draining myself of all my strength and energy, I love the reminder that I don’t have to do it all myself; I can lean upon God and rely on His strength to accomplish all that is before me, climbing mountains and soaring above obstacles.

Food: I’ve been eating a lot of quick meals lately since we’ve been so busy with moving prep, but I made some tasty pita bread and have been loving nighttime snacks of stovetop popcorn and trail mix (especially when I find discounted nuts in the bulk section at HyVee!).

Blog: Avocado a Day Nutrition by Rachael Hartley. I stumbled upon this blog this summer, and I’ve really enjoyed reading more about health, nutrition, and food. I like Rachael’s approach to mindfulness and intuitive eating, and her posts are upbeat, knowledgeable, and relatable.

Memory from this month: This past month has been full of preparations for moving, but the best part was an extended family get-together that my grandparents hosted. I didn’t know until a couple days before that it was a housewarming party for Jackie and me. It was so sweet! And of course, it was really good just to spend time with family, giving myself a break from the chaos of moving and packing plans.

Now it’s your turn. What are some of your favorite things? I’d love to hear them!

 

July 2016 Favorites

I thought it would be fun if I took a moment each month to let you know what things are currently striking my fancy, so here goes the July installment!

Current favorites:

Book: Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom. This book was so good and so hard to read at 51XFKp6q0-L._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_the same time. The details of how people were treated during the war were heartbreaking and gut-wrenching. But the hope that permeated it all was so encouraging! I found myself surprised at the ways in which God worked in and through Corrie’s life as she walked closely with Him through such great trials. I especially love how she talked about entrusting things to Him when they were too big or difficult for her to carry. And I liked how selfless and hopeful her sister Betsie was, always finding reasons to be thankful, praying for her oppressors, hoping they would see the light of God’s love. These people endured unfathomable pain and oppression, yet they used their situation to minister to and love on countless others, sharing the hope and joy found only in Christ, even in the midst of great pain, sorrow, and darkness. It reminded me that God truly does use everything for good, if only we will walk with Him and allow Him to work in and through us.

Song: NEEDTOBREATHE‘S NEW ALBUM CAME OUT!!! I can’t tell you how excited this makes me! It made my day. No, it made my week. I can’t pick a favorite. They’re all fabulous! Listen to it now. It will touch your heart, lift your spirits, and probably make you want to dance like nobody’s watching.

Verse: “…Not my will, but Yours be done.” – Luke 22:42. My sister and I have been house hunting for the last few weeks, and the process is tiring and discouraging as we keep returning to square one. I have been in great need of this reminder that God’s plans are not our plans; each place we look at that disappoints us is a place that isn’t right for us. I can either choose to be frustrated about that or grateful that God has spared us from pursuing a new home that would end up not working out or not being all that it could be. He knows the next step for us, and He will reveal it in His time (even if the next step looks completely different from what we’re hoping for).

Food: I made some delicious Crockpot Creamy Cashew Chicken last week, and I threw in some cauliflower and rice/quinoa meatballs (using this recipe), too, on top of some jasmine brown rice. Yum! I also just got some of Bob’s Red Mill’s Old Country Style Muesli, and that’s been really good with cashew milk and a banana for breakfast the last couple of days.

Blog: Emily P. Freeman’s website/blog. I love the variety of her posts and the consistency of the encouragement woven throughout. She shares prayers for specific situations or emotions, reflections upon different life lessons, links she likes from other sites, and more. I started reading her book Simply Tuesday, too, but my library loan expired, so I’m waiting for it to be available again before I can finish it. I just really appreciate the way she speaks love, grace, and truth into the everyday moments and situations of life, opening my eyes to things I wouldn’t see otherwise.

Memory from this month: My Fourth of July weekend was full of fun things! I got to FullSizeRenderspend Saturday evening with some good friends, enjoying Thai takeout and Gilmore Girls. Sunday was my best friend’s birthday, and our church had a big block party with good food and even better company, culminating in a really good fireworks display. Monday rounded out the fun with some time with my family followed by adventures in Stillwater with my best friends, complete with tacos, ice cream, sparklers, and lots of laughter.

Now it’s your turn. What are some of your favorite things? I’d love to hear them!

 

June 2016 Favorites

I thought it would be fun if I took a moment each month to let you know what things are currently striking my fancy, so here goes the June installment!

Current favorites:

Book: Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. I bit the bullet and finally cracked this book open. I appreciate the short chapters, as they allow me to pause whenever I need to (a problem I run into with books that have really long chapters, like those of Jane Austen). I’ll admit I’ve gotten a bit lost in the lengthy list of characters and places involved, but I really like how the plots of seemingly unrelated vignettes always come together in ways I didn’t foresee. I also like how there are morals and Christian teachings woven into the dialogue here and there; I didn’t expect that.

Song: Thy Will by Hillary Scott. I like being reminded that no matter what happens in life, we can choose to submit to God’s will and let go of our desire to control everything. He is God, and we are not. That’s a message I could use more often.

I’m so confused
I know I heard you loud and clear
So, I followed through
Somehow I ended up here

I don’t wanna think
I may never understand
That my broken heart is a part of your plan
When I try to pray
All I got is hurt and these four words

Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Thy will be done

I know you’re good
But this don’t feel good right now
And I know you think
Of things I could never think about

It’s hard to count it all joy
Distracted by the noise
Just trying to make sense
Of all your promises
Sometimes I gotta stop
Remember that you’re God
And I am not
So

Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Thy will be done

Like a child on my knees all that comes to me is
Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Thy will

I know you see me
I know you hear me, Lord
Your plans are for me
Goodness you have in store

I know you hear me
I know you see me, Lord
Your plans are for me
Goodness you have in store
So

Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Thy will be done

Like a child on my knees
All that comes to me is
Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Thy will be done

I know you see me
I know you hear me, Lord

Verse: “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” -Matthew 6:34 MSG. I shared this verse with my sister this week as a form of encouragement, but it also was a good reminder for me to rest in the present, not worry about the future, and trust that God will work everything out.

Food: Since ending my food-focused month of Project 7, I’ve been excited to include a wider variety of foods in my life, including mangoes, pears, zucchini, asparagus, and of course peanut butter and chocolate (separately and together, ’cause you can never have enough of either one!). And oddly enough, lots of bananas, apples, and oats still because I still like them.

Google Chrome Extension: I have an account with my local county library system and regularly check out ebooks from there (a great way to read for free without the hassle of making trips to the library to return books on time!), and with the OverDrive reading extension for my Internet browser, I can not only read on my Kindle, but also on my computer. It automatically saves my place, allows me to add bookmarks, gives me a progress bar at the bottom to know how far along I am, and has various settings for font size and the like. Check it out!

Memory from this month: My family went to Joyful Noise a couple weeks ago, making it our third annual time going to the festival. To hear more about our experience, check out the post I wrote about it last week!

Now it’s your turn. What are some of your favorite things? I’d love to hear them!