being mindful, daily moments, devotions

coffee shop conversation

What do you see when you look at this photo? A coffee shop? A table and chairs? Space?

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This is a little spot in a local
Starbucks that I visit regularly.

And this little spot I notice often.

Years ago, before the days of iPhone cameras in our back pocket, I saw a grandpa and his little granddaughter in this exact place… I saw them enjoying their drinks and just hanging out. And I boldly walked over and told them that I SO wished I had my big camera with me so I could have snapped their photo. It was just SUCH a sweet moment between two people!

Now, every time I see this spot, I think of them. Since then, I have seen others enjoying time together at this same table. Conversations. Phone calls. Moms chatting with babies in strollers.

So last week, while waiting on my nonfat mocha, I had the presence of mind to grab that phone in my back pocket, and snap a quick pic of my sweet memory of a grandpa and his granddaughter simply enjoying each other’s company .

And today, when I see this photo, I am feeling something that has been stirring in my heart since a very wise and faithful person recently made the comment to me: we are supposed to live in relationship with others.

Relationship. It’s a huge piece to our overall well being. Quality time with others, genuine conversations in the good and the hard times, guidance from mentors, advice for those seeking, REAL WORDS. They all matter.

I am right in the middle of a bible study and am learning better how to discern God’s voice. He no doubt is reminding me about the importance of relationships in life. I see this photo and it’s a great prompt for me…. who can I invite for coffee? Who do I keep thinking about that I can reach out and text? To start a conversation with? What friend should I invite to join me in bible study or go to lunch and catch up?

I am SO guilty of retreating. As life gets busy and full, I tend to just spend my time alone. And don’t get me wrong, there IS a time and place for alone! But not at the expense of authentic relationships. And I think I sometimes let this happen. This coffee shop moment, I feel, is God telling me to listen to the words of my wise friend…. to remember the early morning coffee date between family, and to pursue authentic friendships and conversations with others. Invite them in. Lean in. And let God work in His ways.

Do you have a friend on your mind? Do you have a person you can reach out to invite in? Let’s all pursue that and live in relationship together. Genuine, authentic, meaningful relationship. It’s always worth the effort.‚̧

being mindful, devotions, friends, healthy living

words matter

I was wide awake in the middle of the night with a restless puppy. If I get woken up like that, I’m up, at least for a good hour or two. #frustrating. So, I did a little Pinterest searching. Better than Amazon prime shopping, right?!ūüėú.

I came across this great article about positive/negative words and how they affect plant growth. This experiment is not new- it has been around for a while and is a great illustration showing how words matter. How we speak to others matters!

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In the blog post I read, the author explained how the plant on the right was talked to with positive, loving, encouraging speech. In fact the container was even covered with positive words written out on it. On the left, the negative. Put-downs, hate, discouraging speech was spoken to it and negative written words covered the container. And you probably guessed how it turned out.

Our loving, good, positive words bring life to others. They build up and contribute to a life of thriving. And when we choose words that tear down? It’s stifles. It can make others feel weak. It takes life out of them.

This past week we have probably all witnessed this. It’s been a tumultuous week of feelings ¬†swinging vastly on the pendulum of emotions. One simple click of “post”, “send”, “tweet” has brought forth words of all kinds. Words that encouraged, words that offended. Words that showed grace, words that ripped apart. ¬†Words that left a sting. ¬†Words that extended a branch. ¬†Words that affected.

BUT… we often reflect outwardly what we struggle with inwardly. At least I do.

I had never considered this illustration with how I speak TO MYSELF. ¬†I can be so guilty of this. I get in a routine and I do good with my healthy choices, my time management, my effort in relationships. And when I do, I feel good about myself. I speak nicely to myself. My inner voice is all rainbows and unicorns.ūüĆąūü¶Ą ¬†And I tend to approach things with that same attitude

But when any of those efforts slide? When I splurge on bad foods, skip the workout, spew forth a thought without thinking, or put minimal effort into my marriage or parenting when I know better? ¬†I don’t cut myself much slack. I don’t extend myself much grace. And the negativity begins. My inner self-talk becomes putting myself down. I find fault with everything I do. The rainbows turn to clouds and unicorns to something more like angry birds. ūüź§ūüė°ūüź¶ And I begin feeling a little like this withering plant. A little more lifeless, a little more crumbly. ¬†And that is how I find myself living my day to day- with a negative vibe in things I say and do.

We, of course, need to pay attention¬†to how we speak to others and always seek to speak words that bring life. ¬†Words that show respect. Words that don’t intend harm. But… we often need to get to that place by first looking in.

Have you paid attention to how you speak to yourself? Being content on the inside means there’s a greater chance you will spread that joy and good feeling to others on the outside. As you try to be healthier, help others, and live better, are you considering your self-talk? It matters! When you stumble, remember… Be kind to you. Show grace to you. Love you! Be intentional about this. Practice this. Live this. The picture illustrates so well how you’ll grow and thrive when you do. And when you get your heart feeling good on the inside, it’s becomes so much easier to spread that encouragement outwardly.‚̧

being mindful, daily moments, family produce project, healthy living

color us healthy

It’s a new school year, and I’m trying to start the school year with #goals. As a family, we have worked all summer to cook together and try new foods… Mainly produce items and colors but we tried cooking some new dishes, too.

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This pic here is my attempt to track our efforts. Tracking has become a norm for me since starting weight watchers. This is just a tweak of what I’m doing on my own, really. ¬†Every month we will use this board to keep tabs of what we cook and eat- the proteins and colors we use. We will either color in or write in what we eat… The goal to keep it balanced and get all the colors in. ¬†If we are lacking somewhere, then we will hunt through my ¬†cookbooks or Pinterest to find something we could try. ¬†I have come to love having our girls in the kitchen with me. ¬†It won’t be easy with all of our schedules, but I’m hoping this board will be a visual for me to make more of an effort. ¬†We had some good bonding this summer over peeling, grating, saut√©ing, and stirring the roux FOREVER. ¬†You can have some pretty awesome girl talk in the kitchen! ¬†Sometimes they’re more willing to talk when you’re doing something while you chat. ūüėČ

But in all honesty, in thinking this through, I realized I need to keep a focus on health being all-encompassing. ¬†Because it is so much more than salads and smoothies, right? ¬†¬†So, we also added a workout pyramid that I adapted from the bible study “Fit to Serve”. It will be a guide to follow for how often we do different types of activity during the week. ¬†I can already tell this will need tweaking as we go… But it’s a good place to start. ¬†It should get them thinking a little less about couch time with candy crush and a little more about getting out and about with Pokemon Go! ¬†Fingers crossed …

We also added a big noticeable part to focus on:  random acts of kindness.  There is a grid of ideas to get us started, but also blank squares where we can write our own onto sticky notes. In an effort to live well, it can become pretty easy to become self-focused. That is understandably so, but it really should be in balance. Getting yourself healthier is really just a basis to live and serve in the world better. My goal is to have us, as a family,  point our eyes outward into the world and see where we can add just a little drop of goodness towards others in our day to day lives.

And at the top… We will each pick a scripture for the month. Faith needs to be the foundation to it all. Each of us will choose one bible verse that we all will reference. So that means six bible verses for us as a family to learn about, talk about, and practice over the course of a month.

My hope and prayer is that we will stay focused and interactive with this. It’s a visible way to keep track of what we talk about often. We have four daughters that each learn in their own way. ¬†Talking through things is good, but the visual of this is just another way to try and teach them how to live better…. to live well. I hope this helps develop healthier habits for all of us. It’s a way to be intentional, which is something I have been working on for awhile now. ¬†I will follow up at the end of September with how we did. ¬†#squadgoals in a mind-body-spirit kind of way.‚ėļÔłŹ

being mindful, devotions

the living word

imageI spent time getting caught up on my Women Living Well (an Instagram community) Ecclesiastes study this morning and learning more about haste and contentment. Both are good words for me to focus on while on this specific journey God has me on, right here and now in 2016.

It’s SO easy to get caught up in the comparison game, looking at what others have, how quickly they’re losing weight, how far they can run or how fit they are, and how fun their social life/friends seem to be. And in playing that game it’s equally enticing for me to be rash in my decisions on what to buy, what to eat, the things I pursue and WHY I’m even pursuing them.

This morning, I sensed God steadying my heart with His words. I feel Him centering me (yet again!) in finding peace in letting Him guide my path, my daily steps I take each day.

I’m so glad I copied this Pinterest idea and added this Hebrews scripture to my outer bible pages. His word IS living and active. It does find me exactly where I am in life and help me discern what is in my heart and the plans He has for me… not what I want for me.

Help me to keep seeking you, God, and thank you for your words that feel written specifically for me this morning. ‚̧ԳŹ

being mindful, daily moments

color my world

Color makes me happy.¬† I have never done a bible study (picture below) where I marked over the words of my bible so much.¬† I mean, I¬†LOVE my journaling bible but pretty much stay in the margins.¬† Color coding so many different colors on so much scripture just felt a little weird when I started.¬† But then I realized, the whole reason I bought this bible was to get more hands on.¬† I wanted to write, takes notes, decipher, and learn in a way I hadn’t done before.¬† I wanted to step out of the box of how I had always studied.

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Seeing the pages of my bible so colorful makes me smile.  So much so in fact, that I decided I was going to try to add more color all throughout my day, to get out of my margins a little bit and be more hands on.  I want to color my whole day happy.

Below is a list of things that added color to my day… to¬†the everyday.¬† Things that ordinarily seem mundane, but for today became a little more vibrant and noticed.

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1-I used one of my favorite coffee mugs this morning.¬† I bought it on a stop we made in Luckenbach, Texas on a girl’s trip.¬† I love Texas, I love country music, I love time with my girlfriends, and I love Willie Nelson’s songs.¬† I smile every time I use this mug, which was handcrafted by a local artisan.

2-I grabbed a different pair of tennis shoes to wear to my jazzercise class.¬† I haven’t worn them in forever because I prefer the fit of my others, but I love, love, love the colors of these!¬† Every time I looked down while teaching class, I smiled.¬† I’m happy to be back with my jazz friends, getting stronger each day, and working on my physical health.¬† Coming off of an injury, I am feeling grateful that I can exercise.¬† On a different note, yes those are mismatched socks in the worst way.¬† You can check out my thoughts on letting go and living surrendered on one of my earlier blog posts.¬† All because of a pair of mismatched socks.

3-I listened to different music on my way to class today.¬† My ipod is my lifeline for jazzercise.¬† It is loaded with SO many great songs that I get to teach routines to.¬† I skipped around my playlists, finding songs I haven’t listened to in a while.¬† Good music always makes you smile!

4-I brought my water bottle with me while I had to wait on an oil change at the car place.¬† Any other day the red blinds probably would have gone unnoticed as just part of the whole car waiting room d√©cor, but for today, they make for a nice contrasting backdrop for my pretty blue water bottle (I’ve got a previous blog post about that, too!).¬† I mean, really, when is the last time I’ve seen bright red blinds in a window?

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5-I easily noticed the green summer grass!¬†¬† I walked out to our back patio this morning, to water a plant that my mom gave me for Mother’s Day.¬† When I looked over to this exact spot in the photo, THERE WAS A SNAKE!¬† It’s head was sticking up from underneath the edge of the patio.¬† I screamed and he went back under as quickly as I could get back inside.¬† The part of this that’s outside of my margins?¬† I took this photo after GOING BACK OUTSIDE.¬† I faced a fear (felt a little heebie-jeebie-ish while I did so)¬†but I got the plant watered.¬† It was the fastest watering job ever, but for now I’m calling it Me-1, Snake-0.

6-These simple containers will be filled tomorrow with fresh fruit for church on Sunday.  I helped start a health and wellness ministry at our church a couple of years ago.  It is something near and dear to my heart.  One part of what we do is provide healthy alternatives to donuts on Sunday morning.  I LOVE our MOVE Ministry- what we do, the people that participate with us, and meeting new friends.  It makes me smile OFTEN.

7- Laundry!¬† Typically I would look at this table covered with clothes that I need to fold and think, “ugh!”.¬† But today, I just noticed the COLORS.¬† 99% of the time I don’t look favorably at folding clothes.¬† But while focusing on coloring myself happy today, and¬†thinking OUTSIDE of my usual margins, I felt grateful for this variety of colors.¬† They represent four healthy daughters and a healthy hubby.

8-My lunch today.¬† Yummy!¬† I had fresh summer foods and a shrimp burger (my new favorite that I will be blogging about soon).¬† Eating a rainbow- from God’s garden, not a skittle bag- made me happy.¬† It made my insides feel happy.¬† And how lucky am I that I can get all of this right down the street at the grocery store.¬† ūüôā

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9- A lovely gray rain shower. Gray CAN be happy. Summer showers are perfect for snuggles and movies and forts. Even the pups like to get in on it. And it leads to…
10- Snacks! Yummy yogurt dessert to be exact. It’s been my go-to sweet treat since I started Weight Watchers. ¬†You can’t see the chocolate chips in it but they’re a must. The pretty colorful flower bowl made it all cheery and good, especially on a rainy afternoon.
11- ¬†Like they say, our kids- they’re watching us. This is my youngest lunch plate- she wanted to make it pretty and colorful “like mom does”. She even cut one of her strawberry slices into a heart. My older daughter also snap chatted me a picture of her pretty food plate. (But I’m new to SC and still learning the ins and outs and did not get a screenshot).
12- Riding shotgun. This one could be bittersweet if I let it, but I’m not. It’s happy in a different kind of way, a color I really¬† haven’t used before.¬† My oldest daughter now has her permit and is wanting to drive us EVERYWHERE. On one hand, it’s great to be chauffeured after 17 years of driving. On the other, we are now THERE…. watching our child gain her independence and confidence to go out on her own into the world. Today, I’m coloring my world with the joy of watching her blossom. I will cherish this sweet spot of her getting-ready-to-fly-but-not-quite-yet. And I will enjoy the ride.

Today was a good day.¬† I went about my usual habits and errands with an intentional eye.¬† I noticed things and paid attention.¬† Little moments, big moments, mundane tasks… the everyday.¬† It was all highlighted in different colors that meant something to me, just like the page in my bible.¬† Yes, colors do make me happy.¬† ūüôā

 

being mindful, daily moments, devotions, friends

seasons of stories

“He made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he put eternity in man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11.

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I am loving the @womenlivingwell study! I am learning about Solomon and realizing how similar his story of seeking earthly joys seems to our world today. I came across this previous note I made in the margins of my bible. It is from a women’s retreat I attended a couple of years ago.

I relate to it personally, but I think it can relate to so many of our stories here. We ALL have stories. I love following all of the stories I see on Facebook and Instagram, on Twitter, and on the blogs I follow. I find myself ¬†learning so much day to day. I see people who¬†are real and genuine in their fails, and so inspiring and humble in their successes. Let’s keep sharing, keep living out and telling our stories. Every part of His story is important. Every part matters…. YOU Matter.

Here’s what my jotted down notes say- notes from an incredibly wise young speaker:
“Our stories are going somewhere on purpose! Some days I feel I may have a larger part of God’s story than other days, but to God every part is important. Every part is intertwined and interdependent. Even the smallest of “parts” can have an impact for years to come. I need to remember that.”‚̧ԳŹ

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

being mindful, daily moments, devotions

the leaning boxwood

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I walked out of my garage a couple of weeks ago and this caught my eye. My once straight-up-growing, symmetrical boxwood is now completely leaning forward- growing from the shady porch area towards the light. It’s grown all the way to the front of the planter box, because to keep thriving in this spot, it needs the sunshine. The science nerd and questioner in me googled this. It’s called phototropism which occurs when a plant responds to light by turning in the direction of the light. With too much shade on my porch, my pretty green plant will stay sort of stagnant… dull. Isn’t this a little how we can find ourselves, too? We are designed to respond to the Son and bend our lives towards His light. That’s how we thrive. When we don’t, we are not really flourishing like we were made to do. I have times where I find myself tucked away in the shade. I’m not growing towards the light like I should be. I feel off and a little out of sorts. I think it’s because of how we are made. It’s an innate response to grow towards Christ when He is in your heart. When I don’t seek Him, I remain pretty stationary. I’m thankful that I noticed this leaning porch plant. Every time I walk past it, in or out of my house, I feel a reminder to keep growing towards the light…. His light… of love and grace…. gentleness….forgiveness…. joy and kindness. Just like my boxwood, I can thrive when I grow towards the Son.‚̧ԳŹ¬†John 8:12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‚ÄúI am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.‚ÄĚ

being mindful, daily moments, devotions, healthy living

tug-o-war

tugowar3rdgrade

Tug-o-war.  If you live in our neighborhood, this has been an annual tradition at the elementary school at least since my oldest daughter has been there.  It is an annual competition, a tournament among the grade level classes, that earns you bragging rights for the year.

This is a photo of my daughter’s 3rd grade class. ¬†She’s the tugger in the white shirt right there with her teacher coaching her on. ¬†These kids and their teachers are serious, mentally prepared, and make it fun. ¬†The parents have as much fun watching as the kids do competing.

When I look at this photo it depicts how I feel with my daily journey to live more balanced. ¬†Being about six weeks into weight watchers, I am feeling the reality settling in of living a new lifestyle. It’s not one big pull and I’m at my goal. ¬†It’s something that I will work at always. ¬†And I want to be healthy so ¬†I take it seriously. ¬†My health and the health of my family matters. ¬†I have had to get to a place of being mentally prepared in order to approach this as a lifelong journey- a lifestyle of balance that I practice daily. ¬†And, yes, I have fun. ¬†I make it fun! ¬†I have gotten in a rhythm of sorts with it all. ¬†I found workouts I love to do. ¬†I know what foods I need to fuel my body with and I am learning how to prepare them in ways that are tasty‚Ķ that I look forward to eating. ¬†I’m learning to say to no to things that make me feel overwhelmed and I try to rest when I can. ¬†It’s not easy and it takes work. ¬†Daily work.

So what else is going on in this picture?  How does this relate to a journey of better living?  I see a whole team that pulls with you, in the same direction you are going, to get you closer to the goal.  One person alone cannot carry the work that requires many.  Your team is right there by your side, going through the game with you, wanting the win too.  They are your steadies- those that do life with you in a way that makes you want to live better, love bigger, and give your all.

On the other end of your team? ¬†That’s all the things that work against you‚Ķ habits from the past that are hard to shake, negative self-talk that becomes your everyday norm when you are in that self-demoting mentality, emotional triggers that cause you fight or flight‚Ķ and most days flight is just an easier option. ¬†It’s those that may not support your new way of living or your new habits of bettering yourself. ¬†And sometimes it’s just the taste of that one vice that you.cannot.say.no.to.ever. ¬†(Remember… The chocolate struggle is real…). These things tend to always be pulling us away from our goal- whether it’s massive resistance or just a gentle tug. ¬†We are in constant motion to pull back, away from these triggers.

Standing there right by your team is the coach. ¬†Maybe this is a person, maybe this is an online community of support, maybe this is a monthly meeting you attend. ¬†It’s that person or program that gives you specific strategies on how to pull harder in the direction you want to go. ¬†Coaches that have clipboards full of ideas to keep you committed to do your best. ¬†They see in you the goals you want to accomplish and they help you figure out a plan to execute a plan.

None of this would be easy without the cheering section.  These are those bystanders around you that yell out encouragement from the sidelines.  They are there, ready to give you that attagirl that we all need to hear from time to time.   They may not be in your life daily, but they are there watching you succeed, giving you that thumbs up to keep going.

My daughter’s class started off this competition losing two out of the first three rounds. ¬†That didn’t stop them. ¬† They kept trying, working together one round at a time, getting stronger as they kept going and relying on each other. ¬†And by the time it was all said and done, they walked away with first place. ¬†What a win! ¬†Accomplishing a goal is always so much more satisfying when a little sweat and tears went into the game.

So I look at this photo and realize- this is life. ¬†This is me using my strength to pull towards the goals I have set for myself. ¬†One giant tug doesn’t get me there. ¬†I have to work with those around me, that help push me towards my goals. ¬†I have to use the support I have put in place to help coach me through, and I need to pay attention to the encouragement I get along the way. ¬†One day at at time. ¬†One tug toward the goal at a time. ¬†The drawn-out, hard fought wins are always the ones that you remember the most. ¬†And they are always so worth it.‚̧ԳŹ

 

 

 

 

 

 

being mindful

waiting at the dentist

waiting room feet pic

After taking my daughter to the pediatric dentist today, I found myself with some extra quiet time on my hands… time to just read and let my mind wander. ¬† I thought I’d share my thoughts here- which are written and listed as randomly as they floated through my head.

  1. ¬†Even though it is your fourth child and you’re busy wrangling teenage attitudes, it’s best to take that youngest child to the dentist regularly.¬† Don’t do like I did and pretend those regularly scheduled visits every 6 months are just a hypothetical recommendation.¬† Between that and the poor tooth genetics from her mother, Julia had more than she should have had done while in the chair today.¬† New dental habits are already in place. #motheroftheyear
  2. ¬†Always bring good reading material with you.¬† It’s not called a waiting room for nothing…. sitting around for awhile is just part of the gig.¬† I have found it to be a great opportunity to put my phone down and have a few uninterrupted, quiet(er) minutes to read.¬† Even though the TV is on, the ability to tune out Blues Clues is like riding a bike… it comes back just like that.
  3. Take advantage of the beverage hospitality.  This has not always been the case with these waiting rooms.  There are mini fridges stocked with cold water and Keurigs fired up ready to brew you a quick, custom cup of coffee.  Seriously, we are spoiled.  And they go hand-in-hand with the book or magazine you plan to catch up on.
  4. If your wait is long enough and you have time to both read and spend some time on your phone, plus it’s lunch time and you haven’t had time to eat, do NOT scroll through magazine-worthy food photos on Instagram or Twitter.¬† I follow many Weight Watchers folks who all post countless snapshots of delicious looking food.¬† I left a little hangry today, conflicted between frustration to eat NOW and inspiration to run by HEB and try one the yummy recipes I had just stalked.
  5. If you are in a pediatric waiting room, enjoy watching those cute little ones waiting for their turn to be called back.¬† I’m talking about other people’s little ones who make me look at my own nine year old baby and wonder where on earth all the time is going.¬† Think about slowing down TODAY and just enjoying them.

 

This waiting room is yet another reminder of just how quickly they grow up. ¬†Right now, it’s that time of year when I am ready to be DONE with all of my parent duties for school, soccer and dance… ¬†everything. I’m so guilty of just rushing through our week nights and weekends, checking things off the list for the sake of simply lightening the load. I need to listen to that small voice I am hearing that tells me to slow down and savor every last moment of the current grade each of my girls are in.¬† There’s always just a tinge of sadness for me as the school year wraps up. ¬†Does anyone else feel this? ¬†All of the end-of-the-year everything leaves me feeling a little melancholy. ¬†This chapter we are in is coming to a close and it’s gone by entirely too fast. ¬†Next year I will have two in high school, one in her last year of middle school, and my baby in fourth grade. ¬†I don’t dwell on it… I really do get excited about what’s to come. ¬†I think God designed all of us parents with that thread of optimism to keep us going with their growing.¬† But I can’t help but secretly want to hold onto this part- RIGHT HERE… where we are RIGHT NOW- just for a little bit longer.¬† As they say, the days are long but the years are short.¬† I am thankful this week for this waiting room of other people’s little people, a real-life TimeHop kind of moment, teaching me to take one day at a time these next couple of weeks‚Ķ to just enjoy the age of my girls and who they are becoming… today…. now…. in the midst of all the May parties and awards, recitals and art shows, field days and tug-o-war. ¬†Summer can hold on just a few more moments while I take a short pause and enjoy this chapter soon getting ready to end. ¬†Then it will be time to celebrate ¬†‚̧ԳŹ