Work With All Your Heart

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” Colossians 3:23

Since I started working when I was 16 I have always tried to keep this piece of Scripture close to my heart. In fact, before my husband and I even dated we often reminded each other of this verse when one of us was having a difficult time at work.
As I have gotten older, however, I’ve realized how truly powerful this piece of Scripture really is. The verse says that whatever we do, we are to do it with all of heart.
If we truly do the work that comes into our lives as if we are doing it for the Lord, or when we simply realize that what we are doing is a way of serving the Lord, it changes our perspective.
I hate doing laundry. With a passion. And vacuuming. And doing the dishes. Really, I hate most forms of housework. But when I stop and remember that doing these things better helps my family function better and better helps me be hospitable to guests in our home (we love to have people over), I do it with cheer (Note: I am not a house-cleaning guru. I would be a complete liar if I said that our apartment was not a total wreck during my first trimester of pregnancy. I would also be a complete liar if I said I held this attitude all the time).
The real difference comes when I’m not making it about me. Sure, it’s nice when our place looks nice – it makes me feel good – but it’s not nearly as motivating to me as knowing that I am serving my family, God, and others.
Whatever you do, whether it be raising your children, working in your job, cleaning your house, going to school, do it for the Lord. Your stocking job at the grocery store may not feel a job in which you serve the Lord, but the attitude you have speaks volumes. Everywhere is a mission field.
Go forth and do whatever you do with all your heart, and remember to give yourself grace because we are never going to have it all together all of the time.
With love,
B

Photo credit: unsplash-logoBen Kolde

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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.

 

 

 

Worthless and Not Good Enough

Student. Wife. Friend. Daughter. Blogger. Follower of Christ. Babysitter. Employee.
These are all titles that I hold. These are also areas of my life where I often times find myself feeling like I’m not enough, and I know I’m not the only one.

How many times do we find ourselves thinking, “If only I had done it differently,” or “Why did I have to say that?” or “They deserve better than me”?

I know for me, it can be rather often. Especially lately as I’m learning to balance school, work, housework, and my relationships. I’ve often felt like I’m failing in one or more – and by more, I mean all – of these areas. I’ve been carrying around this weight of just not feeling good enough.

My thoughts have consisted of such negative statements about myself that I’ve been feeling pretty hopeless, honestly. Anyone else?

So am I sitting here on this beautiful Thursday afternoon saying, “What’s the point of trying when all I’m going to do is mess up?”

No.

I’m telling you that it’s okay to be human and it’s okay to mess up, but its not okay to get stuck. We can’t tell ourselves that we are worthless and good for nothing; that’s poison to the spirit and it’s a lie. I’m going to tell you something that you may find preposterous: you’re allowed to have rough days. You’re allowed to have rough moments. But the key thing is don’t stay there. Learn to let go. Learn to breathe and say, “it’s a bad moment or even a bad day, but it’s not a bad life.”

So what can we don’t feel like we’re good enough? When we are completely overwhelmed with everything going on? Here are a few things to try:

  • Learn to sincerely say, “I’m sorry.” You’d be surprised how freeing it is when you humble yourself and admit that you’re wrong instead of getting defensive.
  • Ask yourself, “Is this really worth arguing over?” If not, say, “I’m sorry, let’s drop it, this isn’t worth it.”
  • Take a walk and think and pray.
  • When negative thoughts are consuming you, combat them with truth.
  • Remember that even little victories are still victories.
  • Implement small changes; remember you aren’t going to change overnight.
  • Take care of yourself. Get enough sleep. Drink plenty of water. Exercise. Eat well. Have time to yourself. You’ll feel better all around.
  • Get up early and spend time with God.
  • Spend your time doing things that matter.
  • Take the focus off of yourself and do something for someone else.
  • Remember the truth. Christ didn’t die because we are wonderful human beings that are oh so lovable. Christ died because of His love for us. Remember you are loved. Remember Christ died for you despite of your shortcomings. Even on your worst day, you are loved.

We all have days where we feel like we aren’t good enough, and that is an awful feeling; However, we don’t have to passively sit by and let these feelings attack and consume us. We have the choice to not only change the way we talk to ourselves, but to actually do something! For example, lately I’ve been having an issue with getting angry with my husband over little things and it makes me feel awful. I don’t want to get angry with him, yet I do, and then I feel like a terrible human being and a terrible wife. So instead of spiraling into an upset mess, I’ve started trying to actually do something about the situation. I remind myself that this doesn’t make me a bad wife and then I choose to change my behavior.

So while I’m telling you to chin up, I’m also telling you that we need to take responsibility for ourselves. Feeling like we aren’t good enough is awful, as I’ve previously said, but we are capable of changing our thoughts and behaviors, and doing things to relieve stress and take care of ourselves. Every small change is a step in the right direction, even if that first small change is saying, “I don’t have to feel this way.” Some days you will be able to successfully combat your hopeless feelings and you’ll say, “Wow, that was awesome!” and other days the battle is longer and harder, and that’s okay. Fight it anyway.

And remember, these things we tell ourselves about being worthless and not good enough simply aren’t true; you can tell a flower it’s hideous, but it doesn’t change it’s beauty.

 

You Don’t Have to Be Superwoman

Before getting married, I already had a finance spreadsheet set up, a housework spreadsheet set up, and specific goals in mind (such as meal prepping). I got married and started implementing my schedule right away. Our apartment was pretty much pristine, breakfast and snacks were prepped the night before, and I was caught up on school work. Then, I think it was the second week, things started taking a downward turn. Schoolwork was piling up, housework was piling up, I didn’t have time to relax let alone meal prep. I also work two days a week. I was getting more and more stressed by the fact that I had a specific goal, a specific image, of what my house – and life – should look like and the fact that my reality did not look like that. One day, I hit breaking point. I was unpacking things I had left at my mom’s and I couldn’t figure out where to put the blender. I just sat on the floor against the cabinet, holding the blender, for I’m not sure how long until my husband found me. He sat down next to me, kissed my head, and didn’t say a word. Finally, after a few moments, I pathetically said, “I don’t know where to put the blender.” He gently took the blender from my hands and set it on the floor. He asked me all that I still had to do and when I told him he said he had no idea I had that much on my plate. He suggested that I go take a bath and read (my go-to relaxation method) and stresslessly do what I was able to do before bed.

I had this idea that I had to be Superwoman: spotless apartment, perfectly cooked meals (trust me, that wasn’t always the case), ahead – or at least caught up – on school work, and still time to relax alone and with my husband. Instead what I had was a clean apartment, a whole lot of homework, and even more stress. By trying to do everything all the time, I was wearing myself out to the point that I didn’t want to do anything (and I am a person that honestly loves doing housework; I am my mother’s daughter), and when I did, I just wanted to cry the whole time because even though I was checking one thing off of my to-do list, I knew that what felt like a hundred more were waiting for me.

After the day that I remember as “The Day I Sat On The Floor Holding a Blender,” I realized that while it is great to have goals and be organized, sometimes, something has to give. I had to let go of my ideals about what my apartment should look like, what my days should look like, and replace it with what I am able to do that given day. Because let’s face it, some days the dishes have to wait. Some days cleaning the kitchen has to wait. Some days I’m too tired to meal prep. And that’s okay. Some days I need extra time with my husband or he with me. Some days, I need extra time to myself. Some days I need to focus on school more. And that’s okay.

We were not meant to zoom from one task to the other 24/7. No wonder we don’t handle it well when we try! We were meant to have rest as a routine part of our lives. God setting aside the seventh day of creation as the Sabbath has a message deeper than not working one day a week. It sends a message that we are to rest.

So, I still have my exact same housework schedule, but it isn’t law. I still try to meal prep, but if I don’t it’s okay. I still like my apartment to look nice, but if it doesn’t always look it’s best, that’s fine (especially now that our family has expanded to include two doggies who leave evidence of themselves everywhere). You don’t have to be Superwoman – or Superman. Sure, certain things in life need attending to, but there is a balance (check out a post from awhile back that I wrote on the topic). I also have an amazing husband who does his fair share of the work and calls me out when I’m overworking myself.

Take a rest from your superhero duties. It’s okay to have dishes in the sink. It’s okay to take an hour or two to yourself. Well, lovelies, it’s time to get back to making dinner. Until next time!

Finding Beauty in the Routine

This season of my life is extremely structured. I have class Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. I listen to the news on the way to class. Tuesdays and Thursdays I take care of my best friend’s dog. Tuesdays I spend most of the day with my fiancé. Thursdays I run errands and go to the gym. I babysit Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. I work on Fridays. I go to church on Sundays. It feels like most every moment of my day is scheduled out (you should see my planner).

But the thing is, I’ve come to find beauty in this routine of mine. One of my favorite quotes is, “Today is a wonderful day. I have never seen this one before.” – Maya Angelou

No matter how routine, how scheduled, how structured my days are, each is a brand new experience, a new adventure.

For example, sunrises and early mornings and sunsets and late nights are some of my favorite times. The beauty of the sky never ceases to amaze me, never ceases to take my breath. And every day is different!


I got to marvel at the Lord’s beautiful creation this morning, and it’s so beautiful and so different than yesterday, and so different than tomorrow will be. God has shown me how to find His beauty in every day things.

Every day is different no matter how similar they seem. I know that not every season of my life will be this scheduled, but for this season, I’m finding beauty in the routine.

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