Things Change

Do you ever feel like one minute you have everything together and the next minute you don’t? Yeah, that’s how I’ve been feeling. During Christmas break I was on a consistent housework schedule, I was writing nearly everyday, I was reading for fun everyday, it was great. Then the most stressful semester in my history of school started. Let’s just say things have went off the rails a bit (having the stomach bug last week didn’t help).

I knew that this semester was going to be difficult for me, but I assumed that I could keep doing things the way I was and I would be fine – I even increased my fitness goals (Yeah, that’s not happening) – and I was quite wrong. Even though I know routines change with the ebbs and flows of life, I was quite determined to keep doing things the way I was doing them.

After a few break downs I realized that I simply cannot continue the way I was going a month ago. I have six classes and a lot of homework, papers, and tests; I work around twenty hours a week; and I have other commitments. This season does not look like the last one. So, what am I doing about it? I’m realizing what goals I need to adjust and what changes I need to make. We’re going to be getting an elliptical because going to the gym multiple days a week just isn’t feasible right now, the housework schedule isn’t so much of a schedule anymore but more of a nightly tidying with my husband, and I take naps. And drink coffee (I was caffeine free for almost two months).

This season I have to take things easier, I have to be more flexible, or I’m going to run myself ragged. When God first planted the idea of Life Management Monday in my heart I wanted one of the central messages to be that life management looks different for everyone. We cannot compare ourselves to others or think that what works for someone else will necessarily work for us. I was so caught up in the comparison game – and the worst part is is that the person I was comparing myself to was myself! Sometimes we really do have to take a page out of our own books!

Keep on creating a life you love, but be reasonable. We aren’t super human.

With love,

B

Photo credit:unsplash-logoJilbert Ebrahimi

Life-Long Learning

In less than four months I will be graduating with my Bachelor’s degree!

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I am, however, going an extra year to get my teaching license. This is honestly pretty exciting because though I am ready to be done with school, I also really love learning.

Learning isn’t confined to a classroom, though. Nor is it confined to any one period of time in our lives. As we live our lives we are constantly changing and growing. Any and every point in our lives is a great time to learn.

I love to soak up information about the season of life I’m currently in as well as future seasons. I’m not a mom yet, but I hope to be some day. So I do spend time reading articles and books and listening to podcasts that have to do with pregnancy and parenting because someday they will be relevant. I’m not a teacher yet, but I try to learn as much as I can to help me with that season of life. I am also currently a wife and a follower of Jesus, two things that I’m not going to stop being; however, there is always room for growth and development and thus I strive to learn and grow constantly.

We are not done learning when we are finished with school; we aren’t done until we take our last breath. Read books, go to conferences, listen to podcasts, read blogs. Learn. Grow. Change.

With love,

B

Photo credit: unsplash-logoNick Hillier

I Don’t Have a Five-Year Plan

From the time students start high school they are expected to know what they want to do for the rest of their lives. They are encouraged to choose a “track” or program for the rest of high school to help shape their future education and career. The problem I find with this is that life is always in flux.

When I started college, I knew exactly what I was going to do with my life. Little did I know that three and a half short years later I would be married and on a completely different career path than I went in with (and the journey that I took to get there wasn’t a straight shot either). We can make plans all we want, but education and experiences can change things.

Because of this, in my life I choose to make tentative plans over concrete plans. When it comes to the future, my husband and I typically lay out how we could see things going while including alternate possibilities and keeping in mind that things could change completely. For example, when we have kids, we aren’t sure if we are going to home school or if our children will attend a public school, but we have tentative plans for both. This is important because if you set your heart on something turning out a certain way and it doesn’t happen, you will be crushed.

But what about God’s will? I think that in some instances God may have a very specific plan, or specific door, that He intends for us. Other times, however, I think that we have a wide array of doors to choose from, but our attitude is the key. Colossians tells us that no matter what we do, we are to do it in the name of the Lord. I feel that that gives us some freedom in choosing what we do. Want to be a teacher? Do it as if working for the Lord. Want to be a welder? Do it as if working for the Lord. Want to be a business owner? Do it as if working for the Lord.

So, for me, there’s no five-year plan. I have goals, hopes, and dreams for my career and my family, yet I trust that if the Lord has a specific plan for me I will find it and follow in faith. If He doesn’t, I will still treat whatever it is as my calling and do it for the Lord, because God’s will is sometimes a specific plan, but it’s always an attitude.

With love,

B

Photo credit:unsplash-logoPeter Aschoff

You Don’t Have to Be Perfect

Perfectionists. People who accept nothing less than perfection from themselves, no matter the cost. We all know them. I just didn’t realize that I was one – or at least I didn’t want to accept it.

I always considered myself to be motivated, not for bragging rights, but for myself. As a child, my parents never had to get onto me about doing my homework or studying, I would push myself to get it done. Thought a C is considered average, if I made below an A I would be upset – well no, if I made below a high A, I would be upset. Yet I wasn’t a perfectionist, I was motivated.

These standards followed me through high school and into college – though I will admit I am a bit of a procrastinator at times. In the counseling theories course I took last semester, we talked about how perfectionism is a distortion of thought because it is impossible to be perfect. I sat there and agreed, all the while having the thought distortion that I wasn’t a perfectionist.

But I am. I am motivated, but I’m also a perfectionist. I hold myself to such high standards and get immensely distraught if I don’t meet them; however, I’m not perfect and I’m not going to be excellent at everything, and if I think I have to be, I’m just going to distress myself further. I think what finally made me realize it was when I started setting specific goals for school, housework, and exercise in my planner and then I saw myself not meeting them. Sometimes it is due to being lazy and not feeling like doing whatever task I have before me. Sometimes, thought, it is due to me setting unrealistic expectations. I still set monthly, weekly, and daily goals, but I’ve had to adjust them. Now if I don’t meet a goal, I try to give myself grace and evaluate why I didn’t meet the goal: Did I schedule too much for one day and I just need to move the task to tomorrow? Or was the goal itself (like doing yoga everyday) unrealistic for the season I’m in or just unrealistic in general? Or was I just lazy? I try evaluate and I move on, and I often write little notes in my planner to remind myself that I am human and I need to give myself room to breathe.

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Why did I share this with you? Because I know that I’m not the only one who often holds myself to impossible standards. I also know that I can’t be the only one who is or ever has been in denial about it. Cut yourself some slack. Be motivated. Set goals. Have standards. Get things done. But don’t expect to be Superman or Wonder Woman. Give yourself some grace. You don’t have to be perfect.

Photo Credit: Michał Grosicki

These Last Eight Months

I sat down with my adviser the other day to discuss my degree plan (because there was a confusion and it didn’t get done last semester like it was supposed to) because I graduate in eight months. It sounds cliche, but I remember my first day of college like it was yesterday.

I’ve been getting quite emotional recently about graduating (it doesn’t help that I just finished Gilmore Girls and near the end of the series Rory graduates from college). It is certainly an exciting time – but it is sad as well. College has taught me so much: how to manage time (I get better at this every year), how to accept failure, how to work collaboratively, and not to mention how to survive on little sleep.

I love my school dearly and I love learning. I know that I will be a life-long learner, but there is a good chance that after May I will never learn in a formal classroom setting again. I may never again feel that rush of accomplishment after receiving a good grade on a paper I slaved over. I may never get the opportunity to spend months of my life focusing nearly purely on learning. It makes me sad.

Yet I’m excited. I’m excited to equip the information and experiences from the past few years and step into the work force. I’m excited to get a job where I can impact people’s lives in ways I couldn’t before getting my degree. I’m excited to read books and articles about topics I’m interested in solely because I want to – and without deadlines!

You can bet your bottom dollar that there will be a lot of tears shed on that fateful day in May when I go from an undergraduate student to the holder of a Bachelor’s Degree. I will cry for the professors I will miss, the friends I will miss, the experiences I will miss, and the campus I will miss. Yet I will also cry with gratitude over the professors I got to know, the strangers that became friends, the unique things I got to experience, and the campus that became my home. I will cry with gratitude over the fact that I made it.

Though I know I will grumble along the way, I will cherish these last eight months, these last classes, these last college experiences, this season of my life.

Photo Credit: Baim Hanif

While I am Here

“If only I could graduate already.”

“If only I was a mom already.”

“If only I had the resources to reach out the way I want to.”

 

These are all thoughts that roll through my head. And in the previous seasons of life it was, “If only I could be in college already” or “If only I could get married already.” These kinds of thoughts are always right around the corner if I’m not careful. What I’m really saying is “If only I was in any season of life other than the one I’m in.”

It’s easy to think that way, isn’t it? We think “If only I get to x then I’ll be satisfied.” Then we get to x and suddenly we’re wishing we’re onto y. Before we know it we’ve gone through the alphabet three times over and all we’ve truly accomplished is wishing our lives away. 

I don’t want to miss my life because I’m choosing to be discontent in the season I’m in. I don’t want to be blind to the blessings of today because I’m day dreaming about tomorrow.

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Sometimes it’s more than just wishing that you were in a better looking spot down the road. Sometimes you’re in a season of life that is so dark, you don’t know how you’re going to get through it. The hope that things will change, that tomorrow may be better, that you won’t be in the situation forever, is all that you have going for you – I’ve been there, too. Sometimes it takes actually getting through the rough patch to see the purpose or even just the good things that were there among the mess. I want to look for good things in the storm, though; I want to find the silver lining – no matter how small – while it’s still raining, because undoubtedly there is one.

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Whether it’s a difficult season or just a season that isn’t my favorite, I don’t want to breed discontent.  I’ve longed before to reach x so much that I’ve taken shortcuts, only to put myself in a situation that was worse than the one I started in (I talk about this in Toxic) – I don’t want to live my life that way. I want to see the purpose in the season I’m in – and even if I don’t see it, I want to walk by faith and trust that I’m there for a reason, whatever that may be. I want to notice the blessings of the seasons I’m in. I want to be grateful. I want to live in the season I’m in.

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Tomorrow I may be there, but for now, while I am here, let me be like a flower taking in what is given to me and grow.

 

 

 

Battling Laziness

When my husband and I first got married, we had a pretty good routine going. We were eating healthy, meal planning, going to the gym, and we had a cleaning schedule for our apartment. A few months later, though, a series of unfortunate events happened that threw us off track and we never really recovered. What started out as actual reasons to neglect housework and whatnot, eventually just turned to laziness. After awhile, we decided something needed to change; this laziness wasn’t good for us in more than one way. Physically, we did not feel very well because we were not eating well and we were no longer exercising. Our apartment was also taking a toll as was our spiritual lives. I was no longer carving out time to spend with God, I was giving Him whatever time I had left over – if any.

Scripture is dense when it comes to the topic of laziness (seriously, if you don’t believe me, Google it); it’s even one of the 7 Deadly Sins! As I said, we decided that we needed to battle the laziness that was taking over our lives, and we decided to do it as a team. We knew that individually we didn’t stand a chance, but sometimes being a team is hard. It can be hard to encourage one another about something like this without it coming across as nagging. It’s hard to motivate someone else when you don’t want to motivate yourself to do the same thing.

Despite these things, we decided to give it a shot. Making lifestyle changes doesn’t happen overnight, it’s a process that requires steps – and you have to remember that even baby steps are steps. So that is what we started doing – and are still doing – implementing baby steps to get our lives back on track to where we’d like them to be. We’re trying to avoid eating out when we can and to start meal planning again. We’ve started tag-teaming the housework.

A huge part of combatting laziness is effective time management. I’ve started using the planning app Cozi (it is AMAZING, check it out!) again. I have also created a quiet time basket full of everything I could possibly need during quiet time (Bible, highliter, pens,  Bible commentary, journals, lotion in case my hand get dry, etc). We are trying to work on getting up earlier so we can eat a good breakfast and have quiet time, but this has been our most difficult obstacle so far. I also use my 45 minute commute to sometimes listen to podcasts (my current favorites are the Read Scripture Podcast Series by Francis Chan and the Uniquely Woman podcast) – I can make the choice to wake up late and not have time for things, but I can’t make the choice to not drive all the way to work. Other times I listen to worship music, and, of course, other times I just have jam sessions.

Our current goal is to start going to the gym again. As I said, life change is made through baby steps and each baby step, no matter how small, is a victory that should be celebrated. Whether it’s laziness or some other obstacle that you are pushing to overcome, just remember that each day is a new day and a new chance – heck, each hour is a new chance – and to celebrate the victories along the way.

Growing Time

128 days. It’s not that long. But when it’s 128 days until you get to marry your best friend, it feels like forever. Often times I find myself thinking, “March? Why did we plan the wedding so far away? We totally could have planned a wedding in, like, 3 months.”

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Sometimes it really does feel like forever. But lately I’ve become thankful for these 128 days. Because each day gives me the chance to work on preparing to be a better wife to my husband. It’s 128 days to work on our communication, to work on me handling my temper,  to work on learning to cook. The list goes on and on. Part of me wishes that my wedding was tomorrow – well, maybe not tomorrow, I have an exam I can’t miss. At the same time, I am super thankful for these months to prepare for my marriage. When the day comes, I know that neither of us will be “ready;” there’s always room to grow, but we will be more prepared than we are today. So I will cherish each and every day and seize the opportunities to learn from my mistakes, to better myself, to seek God’s wisdom, to grow. And when the day arrives and our journey together truly begins, we will continue to grow together. And hopefully we’ll be growing while eating more than the 5ish meals I can currently make.

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 Photo Credit: Daniel Hjalmarsson

180 Days and Counting

If you follow me on social media, you already know that today is 180 days until my wedding. Pretty dresses, decorations, dancing, being united with the love of my life, um, yes, please!

But is it what I’m looking forward to most?

No. 

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If I said I wasn’t excited I would be straight up lying to your virtual faces. But what I’m even more excited for than my wedding is my marriage.

I’m excited to serve God with my husband and glorify Him through our marriage.

I’m excited to do life with the love of my life.

I’m excited to grow closer to him and our Heavenly Father together.

Am I preparing for my wedding? Absolutely! But not as much as I’m trying to prepare for my marriage. For being a wife. For someday being a mother.

Yes, I want a beautiful wedding, but more importantly, I want a beautiful marriage. A marriage built on faith and love. A marriage with a foundation of servitude.

180 days and counting. ♥

A Letter to Myself as a College Freshman

Dear 18ish year old me,

You’ve just started college! These will be some of the best years of your life; however, there are a few things I think you should know.

First off, make friends. Like, seriously. Stop sitting there all by your lonesome, content with not speaking. Get out of your comfort zone. You’ll thank me for it later.

Second, stop procrastinating. In a few weeks your going to have a paper and your not going to do it until late the night before and you’re going to call your dad crying because you’re so stressed. You can prevent this situation from happening! Start on the dang paper – and your other assignments for that matter – on time or, if you’re feeling particularly rebellious, early. 

Third, go to sleep early. Stop staying up until the wee hours of the morning. It makes you cranky. No one likes it when you’re cranky.

Fourth, take a deep breath. Things are going to get stressful. Take a step back and look at the big picture. You’ll be okay. A bad day isn’t the end.

Fifth, and finally, cherish every moment. These years are going to fly by.

Sincerely,

Your wiser 20ish year old self.

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Photo Credit: delfi de la Rua