Monday, January 30, 2017

One Thing


I think we all have seen the hate flying around lately. It isn't politics fault. Politics just brings out what is already in our hearts.

It honestly makes me sad to see people say such horrible things. And today, no matter where you stand on the political scale, I want to share a story with you about myself. I will admit, it isn't a good story about myself and I'm rather embarrassed to write it but I think it might help some others so that is why I am doing it.

For the past eight years, Barrack Obama was my President. I did not agree with pretty much anything he did but that didn't change the fact that he was my President. The extent of me not liking my President was hate. I admit it. I always thought someone would assassinate him and I told myself I would be relieved if that happened. To feel that way about someone is nothing other than murder and hate, Jesus said so himself.

I realized this truth when I was reading I Samuel 23 - 24. David had been anointed as the next King but the current King, Saul, was angry about it. He chased David for a long time hoping to capture and kill him. One time King Saul was in a cave pooping (not kidding either - it's in The Bible) and David had a great chance to kill Saul. What a great story on the front page of the paper that would have been: "King Saul Murdered while Pooping in a Cave." Even David's men said that this was the chance The Lord had given him. But he didn't do it. He snuck up on him and cut a little piece of his robe off and even then, David felt convicted for doing that.

David said this in I Samuel 23:6, "The LORD forbid that I should do this thing unto my master, The Lord's anointed, to stretch forth mine hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the LORD." Then in verse 8 it says that after they all left the cave that David yelled to get Saul's attention. He then wasn't mean, angry but he bowed down. The Bible says he "stooped with his face to the earth, and bowed himself." I don't think many people would bow down to someone who was trying to kill them. I so admire David's humility during that situation.

After reading that text it was like The Holy Spirit majorly convicted me of my sin. I definitely wasn't bowing down in my heart and accepting who God had put in authority as my President. I asked for forgiveness and am glad God does indeed forgive.

I am sharing this post because I just want to remind my friends that God does indeed place people in authority. I understand what is like to not agree with a leader but just know that The King's heart is in the hand of the Lord and he can turn it, like a river, whatever way He chooses. (Proverbs 21:1). Posting mean hashtags and lashing out on Facebook is sin and it won't change who our President is. God put Obama in office for eight years and now it is Trump. How we react to our President really just shows what is in our hearts. Are we humble and accepting of who God put in or do we fight it? If we fight it, what we really are saying, is that we defy God and His choice for who leads our government.

I think the best and most important thing we can do for our leaders is to pray. Did you know that VP Mike Pence had his hand open to 2 Chronicles 7:14 when he was sworn it? It says, "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways: then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." Notice that verse tells us to do ONE thing: pray! Pray! Pray! Pray! When we pray God can start healing our land and hearts, and it first starts with the person who is praying. So instead of being overwhelmed by all the political drama I hope to start praying more and letting God do a work in my heart so I can be changed and used for His purposes.

Lastly, I want to encourage my Christian friends and remind them about something: how you react to political things can influence others for eternity. I sometimes wonder if Satan isn't just sitting back and smiling because he doesn't have to do a lot of work right now. We are so busy fighting a political battle that we are forgetting the real battle - and that one is a spiritual one with eternal results, the difference of heaven and hell. In my Bible I have this written, "These two things will last forever: The Word of God and the souls of men." So many of us are not acting like the souls of men matter. Do you realize that you might win a political rant but lost the opportunity to share about Christ with your friend? Have we forgotten that we will stand before The Lord and give an account for every word and deed we have said and done?

Let's take those political talks and turn the focus on Christ. Yes, I do think talking about politics is fine but what a great chance to say, "You know, I'm so thankful we live in a country where we can vote and pick our President. But you know what I'm really thankful for? Is that one day Jesus will rule and reign on this earth and He will be a righteous King." Ask them if they are ready?! If they rant and rave about a politician they don't like,  gently remind them that God ordains authority and that one day He will make all things right. Remind them that Christ loves that politician and that He died for them too. Whatever conversation you find yourself in, pray during it and ask God to open a door for you to point that person to Christ. He will answer!

I do realize applying all of this is hard because it is hard for me too but I just felt this burden to share this on here with you. Let's pray for each other. Let's lift Jesus high. Eternity will be here soon and let's fight the good fight for Jesus and tell as many people as we can about Him! He is worth it!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

How to Ruin a Short Term Missions Trip

Apartments in Burma 

If you have ever gone on a short term missions trip, have ever wanted to go on a short term missions trip, know someone who wants to go on a short term missions trip, then this post is for you!

Today I am going to tell you how you can spoil and ruin your short term missions trip.

First off, I have read articles debating and stating that short term missions trips are pretty worthless in the long run. I don't agree with that at all but I can see why they post that. If you go with the wrong mentality you can definitely ruin the time on a mission field.

I think mission trips are more for encouraging the missionaries than they are for making a super long term impact on a country. I think the lasting changes come from the missionaries who sow, plant and water day in and day out. I also think that building a house or doing a project is beneficial too, but when you leave, it will be the missionary that will follow up with them.

I'm here today to share with you how you can absolutely ruin a missions trip for a missionary. Also, please note that not one missionary I have ever visited told me to write any of this. They have no idea I'm writing this. These are simply my observations from missions in general and from living abroad.

Let's get to it. How to ruin a missions trip:

1. Eating the Missionaries American Snacks

Don't you even think about opening up their pantry and cracking open their precious American foods and snacks. I know that when you visit another country the local food will look and taste different to you than your American food but, for the love of food, don't eat their American snacks. If they have American snacks, let's say, Pop Tarts for example, they probably paid $8-$10 for that box. If they are living in a 3rd world country those $8-$10 Pop Tarts probably meant that the missionary not only paid that ridiculous amount of money for them but they also hauled them in a suitcase to get them in there. I know because I was a sucker for Pop Tarts while we lived in Asia. And no, no one ate our Pop Tarts either. I'm just using this as an example. Bottom line though, just don't eat their American snacks!

What I would recommend doing, before you even go to visit that missionary, e-mail them and say, "I plan on bringing you $25 worth of American snacks. What would you like?" Then, bring those snacks and don't eat them. I'm forever grateful for family and friends who brought Parmesan Cheese and Resees Peanut Butter Cereal. (I will eat a bowl of that cereal after I finish this post.) And also, I can never spell that cereal correctly. Please send grammatical and spelling help (Amanda, I'm talking to you!).

If you are hungry, ask for some food that you know is easily available in that country. After living in Asia it would be great to say, "Hey, is it okay if I have some leftover rice?"

Speaking of food .....

2. Complaining about the Local Food

I am sure the host missionary would love to hear you complain about how you don't want to eat rice for two weeks. Try living there for a lifetime in a land of rice, or beans, or whatever the local food is. Whatever is served to you, be thankful and do your best to eat it. If you absolutely can not eat something, sneak it onto your husbands plate do your best to eat what you can and leave the rest. Just don't complain about it. In a lot of countries it is okay to tell a local you absolutely could not eat something. I very politely told my friends in Asia that I just could not eat intestine soup. I thanked them but very very politely declined. They were not upset and neither were my bowels that night ... but Dave's were because I asked him to eat it for me. #husbandoftheyear

3. Sharing Every Moment of Your Trip on Social Media

Missionaries don't often get visitors and when they do, they want to see you. They want to hear about things going on at home. They want to hear what God is teaching you. They want face time. Real face to face time. One of the worst things you can do to a missionary is to take a million pictures and then post it all over social media. That missionary will have about two weeks with someone, you, from their country. When you leave they don't always have someone to relate to. At the end of those two weeks you will go home to your comfort zone but the missionary doesn't get that. Use every spare moment to encourage that missionary. If you absolutely can not refrain from social media do it only after your host missionary has gone to bed.

I once heard a horror story of a group that would lounge inside while on their phones. Then, they would run outside, play with the kids for a few minutes, snap pictures of it and then run back in and post it on social media. That is not a missions trip. That is a big fat fake expensive lie.

Before leaving town, I would just post on your accounts, that in order to maximize your time and be the biggest encouragement you can be while abroad, you won't be posting on social media until you get back. People will totally understand that.

4. Not Leaving Grocery Money

Imagine having 4-8+ guests come to your house for two weeks and you had to provide all meals for them. Just do the math for a quick second and see how that would fit into your budget. It's expensive! When you leave the missionaries house to go home I would recommend writing a thank you note and putting some cash in there for groceries. If you offer them the money personally they won't take it. Every missionary I have stayed with has been so generous and does not want money, which is why you just have to leave it on their table when you fly home.

5. Complaining about the Weather

I rolled my eyes as I typed number 5. Just don't complain about the weather. The missionary does indeed realize it is either super hot and humid or super frigid and icy in their country. They live their day in and day out. What you can do when you get hot and want to complain is say something along these lines to your missionary friend: "I have noticed that the weather is really hot here and I just want to say how grateful I am that you, day in and out, serve Jesus in the weather. I think God will bless you for that." If someone would have said that to me in Burma I would have bursted into tears.


6. Act Like The Locals are Weird

I totally understand that when you visit a new country everything will be different. However, while living abroad I learned that I was the weird one! To me, it was super weird to wear a longi skirt that I couldn't walk in. I even thought the locals were weird for wearing it. However, when I wore one of those things and had to hike it up just to walk, while all the locals looked on and laughed, I soon realized I was the odd one. I never did wear that skirt again either. I just couldn't figure it out.

Be gracious to people. Understand that you both are from different cultures and be sensitive about that.

7. By Not Smiling

I have learned, that when traveling or living abroad, smiling goes a long long way. Every language can understand a smile. If you are trying to communicate with a local and just can't figure it out, rest assured, a smile will help you out a lot. In Burma, I had a lady start kissing my arm all over because she was mesmerized by my white skin, and although I was horrified inside, I just kept smiling until I could get myself out of the situation. And no, my husband did not help me as he thought the entire ordeal was hilarious.

8. By Not Going with a Servant's Heart

When you go on a missions trip, go with the mentality that you are there to serve. You are there to serve the local missionary in whatever way, fashion or form you can. You are there to serve the locals and be a blessing to them.

If you go with a 'serve me' kind of attitude you will spoil your trip.


And that, my friends, is how you can ruin a missions trip! As you can probably tell, I'm a little passionate about all of this. But what I am more passionate about is encouraging missionaries and if this post will help someone have a better missions trip to bless a missionary, than I'm all about that!

What are some other ways you can think of to ruin a missions trip?

What are some ways that you can think of that would be a blessing to a missionary on the field when you visit?

And now I am off to eat that bowl of cereal....

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

My Bullet Journal


Have you heard of bullet journaling? 

A friend of mine posted about it on IG a couple of years ago and it really intrigued me. I started to research it and decided this year I would give it a go. So far I have really loved it and wanted to share with you all what it is about. If you are considering bullet journaling than this post is for you! 

There is an entire website called Bullet Journal that explains everything in detail. The basics are this: "The Bullet Journal is a customizable and forgiving organization system. It can be your to-do list, sketchbook, notebook, and diary, but most likely, it will be all of the above. It will teach you to do more with less." 

I like bullet journaling for several reasons! First off, it allows me to create my own planner just the way I like it. I can add as much as I want to it or as little as I want to it. Another big draw for me is that it allows me to be creative. I have been hand lettering this year and I thought the bullet journal would be a great way to practice that skill while I create my own planner. I plan to use my bullet journal as a yearly planner, a place to jot down special things I did through the year and a photo book.  I love that it is all in one book and I don't have multiple projects going on. I'll show you below how I plan to implement all that. 

Before we get to the inside of the journal I want to share the supplies I am using: 

Supplies

- Leuchtturm 1917 Notebook - This notebook comes with 121 pages and all the pages are numbered. There is an index in the beginning of the book if you want to index your pages. You can even pick what type of ruling you want in your journal. I picked dotted so I could encourage my OCD by drawing perfectly straight lines. ;)

-Staedtler Pens - These are the ones in the pink roll up pouch that you will see in my pictures. I actually got these from Korea in 2012 but you can purchase them on Amazon. 

-Micron Pens - These pens have a fine point and make really pretty lines. They can be purchased at any major craft store or on Amazon as well. 

I should note that the pens listed above do not bleed through. I love Sharpies but those bleed through so I don't use them for bullet journaling. 


Inside Cover 

I wanted the inside cover to be something pretty. I made this floral wreath and included Psalms 115:1 in there. 

Right after the inside cover there are index / content pages where you can number what will be on each page. I did not do that because I wanted the freedom to go over or under pages. 


Content

In my journal I plan to have two pages dedicated for each month to write in a monthly calendar, a Bible verse I want to memorize that month, monthly goals and then I will add any fun memories from that month to those pages as well. 



After the monthly overview I am using two pages to plan out each week. I am putting a daily to do list on there, how many cups of water I drank, how many steps I took, a weekly weigh in and then I'm jotting down any fun memories from that day.

Next month I plan to put 7 days on one page as I felt there was a lot of empty space in January but with bullet journaling you have the freedom to change it as you go.


At the end of the month I have a couple of pages where I plan to put pictures in there. I want to be better about printing some pictures and I thought this would be an easy and fun way to do that.

Here is a sneak peak at February. I'm really loving February's journal so far! My daily boxes look like little valentine cards but I didn't make them until after I took these photos.


In my journal I have two other sections so far. One is my half marathon training and the other one are goals for my photography business. I plan to add a section for crossfit but I haven't gotten that far yet.

My half marathon training starts next week so I thought I would share what I did for that. I saw an inspriational post on IG and wanted to do something similar to make my training plan at least look fun.


My training is 10 weeks so I put a box for each week. I plan to run three times a week and attend crossfit 2-3 per week. I know I will need to give myself grace because that would mean 6 super intense workouts a week and that might not happen every week. 

I plan to track all my runs in here along with pace and distance. 


Lastly, I made a box for each mile and when I run a mile, I will color it in. I have seen other people draw various sorts of things to represent a mile and for some reason this fun idea came to mind. I really love it!!!


 And now I can only hope that my training will be as much fun as creating the plan was. ha ha!


Here are a few more thoughts on bullet journaling:

-You can make it as complex or as simple as you want it to be. I have free time right now to color and draw so this is not only a planner and journal but a way for me to be creative. Lots of people don't do any art in their journal and that works great for them.

-I've also seen some amazing bullet journals with meal plans and grocery plans. If I had a family to cook for I think I would definitely do that.

-Pinterest and IG, like always, have so many fabulous ideas. I have a Pinterest board for Bullet Journaling and Hand Lettering if you'd like to check that out. I also love The Bullet Journal Addict on IG. Her journals are just pure inspirational! Also, this post right here has tons of great ideas and inspiration. It's especially a good one if you are looking into bullet journaling or are new to it.

Are you thinking about starting a bullet journal? If so, I'd love to know! Also, if you have any questions feel free to ask and I'll do my best to answer them. 

If you have a bullet journal what do you use yours for? Is it mainly lists or is it creative? 

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Rawhide: My Dad's New Puppy


 Meet Rawhide, my Dad's new pup.

Every time I see him I squeeze him a lot. He's so fun and he likes to be squeezed so it's a win win.

My Dad has been looking for a dog for a while and found a great breeder up in Nebraska. Apparently, you have to be careful who you purchase dogs from because puppy mills still exist. So sad. =( My Dad did a lot of research before purchasing this dog and made sure it came from a good place.

So, last Tuesday we drove 4 hours up to Nebraska to get Rawhide. When we arrived, he came tumbling out of the house and acted like he had been waiting and waiting for us to come and get him. I was instantly smitten.

This picture was when we were meeting Rawhide. 

My Dad chose the name Rawhide because every President has a code name that the CIA uses, and Ronald Reagan's code name was 'Rawhide'. My Dad loved President Reagan and named his dog in honor of his CIA code name.

Rawhide is pure puppy and finds EVERYTHING in your house. He is like a toddler. He soon will be in obedience school so that will be good.

Saturday they brought him over so I could dog sit. During that time Rawhide managed to jump up on my piano, find himself in the mirror and he pooped on my floor without me knowing and I stepped in it and went sliding. It was so hilarious and so disgusting at the same time. I'm glad I was wearing tennis shoes and I'm glad I have wood floors.


If you want to see more puppy pictures feel free to follow me on Instagram. I've been sharing pup pics over there because I just can't help it. So cute!

If you got your dog as a puppy please do send me a picture!!!! 

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Thriving in 2017


My friend hosted a goal setting party for 2017 and it was so so incredibly amazing that I wanted to share some of the things I learned with you.

For starters, I didn't know what to think of going because I had some ideas of things I'd like to accomplish this year but I just couldn't get my head and thoughts wrapped around all my ideas to process them and organize them. Anyone else have that problem? All that to say, I wasn't sure what to expect from getting together with everyone to talk about goals and dreams. But I'm so glad I went because it was such a insightful and helpful night for me.


We started out by watching a Ted talk, which I highly recommend, by Laura Vanderkam. (If you are interested in watching it you can do so right here.) The best thing I took away from that speech was that she asked us to write ourselves a letter reflecting on 2017. Yes, I do realize that is a letter of something that hasn't happened but I plan on doing that. It will allow myself to focus and think about what big things I want to achieve in 2017 and to write out what 'awesome' would look like for me. She also encouraged us to 'happen' to life instead of letting life 'happen' to us. I can't plan for the unexpected things in life but I can be proactive and intentional with the time that God has given to me.

After our Ted talk my friend encouraged us to write down the many roles in life we have and to write down what 'excellent' looks like in each of those roles. At first I wasn't sure what that would look like but once I got it down it really helped me to put the roles I do in life on paper and it allowed me to see where I can improve as well as seeing areas that I am doing well in. I'll list you my roles with some goals underneath so you can see what I mean.

1. Christ Follower
-to spend more time in prayer
-to look for opportunities to genuinely and lovingly share Christ with others

2. Wife
-To consider Dave's needs before my own

3. Family Member & Friend
-To continue making time for family and friends
-To say yes more to spending time with and serving family and friends

5. Photographer
-To get my photography business up and running
-Hit $1,000 in sales

6. Crosfitter / Runner
-Go to Crossfit 3x a week
-Run a half marathon

Within those roles I have made more specific and achievable goals but it really helped me to sit down and look at the big picture and what I can do to be the best person I can be in each of those roles.

After we wrote all those things out we were given a piece of paper to color our roles out and to add basically anything artsy to our sheet that we wanted. It was a really fun and creative way to define our roles in life.


So why do I share all of this with you? Well, I think for a couple reasons. First off, I think it can sometimes be hard to set goals but it really helped me to write down my roles in life and to define what excellence looks like in each of those roles. If you've never done something like this I highly encourage you to do that. If you can get with a friend and do that together even better!

Secondly, you and I have one life. One chance to glorify God. One chance to point others to Him. If we aren't intentional with our time life will pass us by and we will miss out on opportunities we had to serve Christ.

Do you set yearly goals for yourself? If so what helps you define and achieve those goals? 

How can you be more intentional with your time? 

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