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Whew, we made it through January and February is slipping away quickly. Come on, spring!


January marked short, dark days of winter, plus COVID stuck around.

How do you deal with it all? Binge watch Netflix? Eat an entire box of Little Debbie’s while hiding under your favorite blanket, waiting and wishing for spring?


But we have a better choice! Maybe your energy is depleted and if you’re anything like me, you tend to rely on your own strength…and fail miserably. No matter the circumstance, we have a choice to look up and refocus. Regardless of the weather forecast, political news, updates on COVID, etc. we can choose to look up. When we learn to turn to God’s Word and seek Him and His truth, His light will shine through the darkness.

God knew we would need examples to remind us that we do not have to remain in the darkness, that’s why the stories in the Bible are filled with discouraged down and out people. But they look up.

Currently, at my church, Brookstone, we are in a series called “Footsteps of David.” It’s pretty mind blowing to hear the struggles and triumphs David went through in his lifetime.

David was very familiar with discouragement and being down and out! But instead of looking down and focusing on his problems, David looked up and was reminded of God’s love and compassion. David knew God loved him. He knew that God would hear Him from Heaven and answer David when he would cry out to Him.

If you grew up in church and never felt like you could go to God and cry out to Him, try it! Tell Him how you really feel. David did (and David was not who you think of when you think of a good guy, but he had a heart to please God). He already knows the depths of your heart, so be honest with Him. When I learned about the true character of who God is – that He desires an intimate relationship with us and that his GRACE extends beyond anything that we could ever do, I was so relieved. Cry out to Him – He really does care and He really can help.

Psalm 5:3 says, “O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.” David anticipated God’s answer after calling out to Him. This is how David fought his battles. This is how we should fight our battles.

Each day, each battle, and in each circumstance, we have the choice to focus on the negative or to look up. As a Christ follower, we have the promise of hope. That, like David, when we look up, we can be reminded of God’s love and compassion. It’s new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23).

So, here’s your list of some ways to start your day looking up:


1. Be honest with God! Like David, go to Him and cry out to Him with how you are feeling and ask Him for help! But don’t stop there – be like David and thank Him in advance for His answers.


2. Worship – David was a great example for us to be worshipers. 1 Chronicles 16:9-11 says, “Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him; Talk of all His wondrous works! Glory to His holy name; Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the Lord! Seek the Lord and His strength; Seek His face evermore!” Now, if you are like me and can’t sing that well – God doesn’t care (but my worship time is sweeter when I can’t hear myself so just crank up that worship music a notch higher)! And if you are in church standing next to someone who can really sing – just lip sync. It makes my worship much sweeter for myself and those around me!


3. . Post Bible verses around you – Post your favorite Bible verses where you tend to find yourself feeling discouraged. Getting ready in the mornings, in the kitchen, in the car…just put those TRUTH reminders all around you!


4. Spend time with God – find a new devotional that you can start your day with that will encourage you. It doesn’t have to be lengthy, just something that you can use to focus your heart before you get into your day.


5. Get moving – our 10K step challenge group is proving that moving does a body and mind good! It helps clear out that negative chatter and gives us an overall since of great health. Pro tip: pray while you walk!


6. Join a small group/life group/community group/whatever-your-church-calls-it-group. Life is truly better in circles, not rows. Having people to share the ups and downs of life with is why the church exists.


7. Coffee with a friend! I highly recommend Brookstone Church Coffee shop (and patio on a warmer day). Black Mountain Home for Children Thrift Store & Thirteen Pennies café are also favorites of mine.


8. Try out a new hobby. Now is a great time to try something new! No matter what kind of budget you have, there truly is something for all ages and all budgets! Take some time having fun. And don't forget to visit my friend Jackie at Rod Works who can help you with a new hobby or just help you find some great new touches for your home!


9. Praise. It activates peace. Journal or post verses and praises around you. What are you thankful for? Spend time just writing down praises and see what happens!


10. Simplify. Declutter your home, calendar and life. Look at your calendar or your lifestyle and determine what is causing you the most stress. You will be shocked at what just a few, simple changes can do to bring fresh new perspective!




What’s a ‘hate word’? You may be thinking about hateful words towards others, but I am talking how you talk and think about yourself. Need some examples? Here you go!


If only I had…

A better house

A better job

More money

A nicer car

More time

More followers


If only I were…

Skinnier

Prettier

Smarter

An influencer

More disciplined

Funnier

More loveable


If only he would…

Be like her husband

Pay more attention to me

Love me like that

Do what I want

Be more romantic

Surprise me with things



Let me begin by saying I can relate to all of these! I have spent a huge part of my life living in the “if only” part of life. But here is the thing – comparison is the thief of joy. When you are constantly saying “if only” you are not focusing on what you have already been blessed with.


And, you know what? There have been plenty of times where I have gotten my “if only”, only to be disappointed because it wasn’t as great as I thought it would be.


I remember trying to come up with a name for my blog. I found myself thinking lots of things that often began with


If only I

Were a better writer

Had more of an interesting life to write about

Had more confidence


Can you relate?

I thought about writing about marriage…


If only

I responded to my husband with kindness and grace

I loved my husband the way God asked me to love him

I didn’t want to punch him in the face on a weekly basis


Oh, and ministry (I could literally go on and on).


If only

I had not done that in the past

I had paid more attention in church

I knew the Bible better

I didn’t struggle with prayer


If only…

My entire house looked like the one room I share on Instagram

I were as happy as I appear


And the list goes on…


But that is not life. Life is messy and life is real.


So instead of saying “if only,” admit to some things that may not be on your highlight reel. Like when I am honest that I give my husband more eye rolls than hugs, or that my arm pits sweat worse than most men, or that my pile of laundry is rarely all folded and put away, or that the older I get the more “they” go east and west (sorry guys, TMI right there). Honestly, most of the pressure of life comes from myself and you may be realizing that yours does, too.


After starting a walking group this week, my heart became very heavy because I was reminded of how many “hate words” women often tell themselves. If only I had always exercised or eaten healthier, or had her body type or could get perfect Barbie doll plastic surgery.


STOP IT, SIS! If you wouldn’t say it to a friend, don’t say it to yourself. Words and thoughts matter.


So let’s shut down those hate word by thinking about a few (10) things:


1. Grace. Are showing yourself grace? What standard are you holding yourself to? Jesus is all about extending GRACE! If you belong to Jesus – well, He has already accomplished the only “if only” you need.


2. Who defines perfection for you? Are you stuck in the comparison trap? Stop, hold up, wait a minute! Does everyone know all your struggles? Those personal private struggles? We have no idea what the person we compare ourselves to is struggling with which is why no good can ever come from comparison!


3. Make a list of things that fill you and drain you. I did this a few years ago and it was life changing. This allows you room to do the things that are important to you and to say no to the rest.


4. What you allow in your mind will take up space. What are you watching? What are you listening to? If you are a parent, you preach this to your kids but do you live by this yourself? If you are expecting your marriage to resemble a Nicholas Sparks movie, you are going to be disappointed time after time…and if you are looking for 50 Shades of Grey to help the spark – well...enough said.


5. My friend Gabbi says this: “When I am second guessing myself the most is when I am speaking to Him the least” – Wow, what truth! When I feel insecure or I am thinking about myself, what I look like and what people think of me, I am not spending time with Jesus! #truth


6. “The days are long but the years are short.” Don’t miss out on the relationships around you. Invest in others. Volunteer. Serve. Be others focused.


7. Community – we need each other. Who are you pouring into and who is pouring into you? Relationships do take effort but they are so worth it! Surround yourself with people who encourage and inspire you! Spend time with people who speak truth to you because they are people who are spending time reading the truth.


8. We don’t have to be the best at everything. Just show up! If you want to start something like a 10K step challenge, just start! Try it! Don’t think you have to run a marathon next week, but enjoy the moment! If you fail, at least you tried.


9. Pay attention to who you follow. Make sure the people you are following on social media are bringing you joy and inspiration (this goes for TV shows, books, music, or anything else you are allowing into your life). Friends, this is so important. Now, don’t get me wrong, some days it has nothing to do with the person I am following but more about me and my attitude, but shut those thoughts of comparison down. Step away and focus on Jesus and His Word.


10. Only you can make the choice! No matter what you read, the advice you receive, or what a great counselor tells you – you have to make the choice to believe that you were created for purpose!


I can say to you from experience that I have tried it the world’s way and I’ve tried it God’s way. I have read self-help books and Cosmo for relationship advice. I have been a size 6 and a size 16. But the One who created you sees you! No more “if only…” His love is unconditional! It is grace filled! It is joy filled! Believe it; live it; share it.




A few years back I tried to count the number of times that I had moved. Until I was 18, I lived in the same house…and then the moving began…again and again. More than 25 times!


When I moved into my first home, we had nothing. If it wasn’t handed down from family, I just didn’t have it! I have lived in a tiny house with a bathroom/laundry/basement combo, a single wide trailer, a farmhouse (not trendy) on a pig farm.


No matter where I moved, though, I collected things along the way and managed to make our house a home.


When we moved into our current home, it was the first time I ever really felt settled. We finally decided after all of our moves, this home on 17 acres would be it! Done and amen.


Because this would be the house I may have grandkids play in one day I wanted it to represent my journey. That is when I started thinking about home decorating.


Maybe you, like me, love to decorate. Or maybe it’s overwhelming and you have no clue where to begin!


One of my favorite quotes from Joanna Gaines is this: “wherever you are, find a way to love the home you’re in. Create a space where everyone who lives there feels at home.”


Doesn’t that just make you love her even more?!


From my house on the pig farm to my singlewide trailer, it was always about creating a space that was full of personality and felt comfortable.


I hope this post encourages or inspires you to just create a space you love! It’s not about creating a Pinterest perfect home but a home where people feel welcome to put their feet up and stay a while! Warning: sometimes it can be too cozy and you may have to tell your guests that you are turning the lights off because it’s time to go!


1. Declutter – I may include this in every blog post but I promise this is essential to home decorating. Nothing will look good if you have too much clutter! Too many colors can clutter up a room, too. Avoid using more than three colors in a room. Note: Halloween is the exception; go crazy.


2. Use what you have! After you declutter, move things around. Furniture, wall art, photos, mirrors…move them around and find a new space! It’s okay to get rid of things, too. Goodwill is happy to take what you don’t want and make it available to someone else.


3. Sort it out – this is a must for me. Start by removing all home décor items in your room. Sort your wall décor, floral, candles, etc. and then move on to the next room. This is where you will really be able to see what you have, use what you have, and create something new! Again, just have fun with it and try something different.


4. Find your inspiration – From sitting in my cozy chair and watching Gilmore Girls to scrolling through Pinterest or Instagram to gathering up a handful of magazines at Barnes and Noble (while sitting in the coffee shop wishing I liked coffee) … I find inspiration everywhere. We all have enough stress in life - decorating should not add to that.


5. Know when to shop – I am one of those people who will not buy anything if it is not on sale or from TJ Maxx. Hobby Lobby always has 50% off on their items, so make sure you go when the item you want is on sale! If you are wanting to have first pick on seasonal items – you have to go before the season arrives. Why do you think they put Christmas out in July? The bloggers and influencers are ready to buy it up and tempt you months before!


6. Know where to shop – every person I know who has a budget or has an endless shopping allowance has certain items they will spend hundreds on and other items they want to save on. I love finding unique pieces and supporting local shops like my favorite Rod Works! That means I will spend more on wall décor but I will wait until floral is on sale at Hobby Lobby or I will shop the dollar bins at Target and visit a dozen TJ Maxx just to find two matching pillows. Ask yourself what makes you happy. What are your must haves?


7. Know how to shop – For me, shopping is a great stress reliever but coupons stress me out. I hate coupons. Never ever are they what I think they are for. I end up wanting to hurt someone and risk getting security called on me (just kidding). Instead, I keep everything in my email inbox. This includes discounts, coupons, rewards and it reduces the risk of me being the crazy lady going viral for coming across the counter when my expired coupon doesn’t work. I never shop on Saturdays because that is when everyone else is shopping. I never ever go shopping on a holiday weekend because people are crazy! And if I have to venture into Walmart, I pray. Hard.


8. Use meaningful items – from things you purchased on a special trip, or a special treasure from a family member, something unique from antique store or the best deal ever at a thrift store. This is where your space will get its personality and feel like home.


9. Focus on one room at a time – if you are on a tight budget, a tight schedule or just not sure where to begin - start with one room. Adding in some throw pillows, a throw blanket, a candle, or a new plant can change a room instantly. Mixing in the new and old will give your space a makeover while helping you stick to your budget.


10. Ask for help – we all know we can Google pretty much anything, but I love getting ideas from people who love decorating. One thing about the Instagram community is that people are so helpful! Message someone who inspires you and ask if you can send a picture of a room or a wall and get their thoughts. Shop local. Small business owners are passionate about their storefronts and will have ideas you may never have thought of before. I love to shop local because of people like Jackie at Rod Works who is absolutely wonderful at making suggestions and offering ideas and providing the best décor!