At the beginning of January, I decided to join in with She Reads Truth on one of their Bible reading plans. When I browsed their site, I discovered that they were getting ready to start the new year’s plan: A Fresh Start.
Here I am in the beginning of March, finally getting the opportunity to share how this particular plan resonated with my soul. Better late than never, right?
Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.’ Ezekiel 37:13-14
This is exactly how we can be sure of our faith in God alone. He has given us the Holy Spirit and He has done exactly as He has promised. He is with us in this land.
Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. 2 Corinthians 5:11
What we are is beloved children, blameless,whole, forgiven, holy, redeemed reflections of an unseen God. Nothing less, so stop treating yourself like a worthless pile of dirt.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, Hebrews 10:24
Faith is not a solo sport. It is meant to be a community effort. Help your spiritual family members when they need it. Fill in the gaps of their weaknesses with your strengths.
Celebrate successes together. Remember families love each other.
It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:13-18
Do not lose heart, no matter how trying it is right now. There is so much more than your struggle. Hang onto your hope. Your hope does not rest on earthly achievements, but in Jesus Christ alone.
He has conquered death and is preparing an eternal home for you. One day, we will meet Him in Heaven. When that glorious day happens, all the stuff that bothered us will fade away.
Your present might seem broken, but the future is bright, like bright as the sun. And that is worth celebrating.
A while ago, I blogged about my closet and wardrobe. I talked all about the organization. Everything looked perfect. I have also shared plenty of beautiful pictures of my wonderful, cozy bedroom.
The truth is that everything rarely looks anywhere near perfect. I keep it clean, but there is often a “to be sorted” pile. Things get shoved in drawers and into my closet, to keep up appearances.
For this month’s installment of Behind the Scenes, I decided to be a little more brave and a whole lot more honest.
My wardrobe looked like this when I first assembled it, and still looks like this
most some weeks on laundry day.
The next morning when I am getting dressed, I start to rustle through the clothes. After a few days, it looks more like this:
The awesome DIY photo board that I proudly shared seemed like a good idea at the time.
However, it has since fallen off the cute little hooks. Not only that, but I cannot change the photos. The poster board I chose is thin, so it ended up warping a little during the hot, humid summer days. And so it sits, awkwardly tucked into the corner.
My sewing basket not only holds the projects that I am working on, but it also doubles as a doorstop on those days I am too hurried to put my clothes away properly.
When you turn to the corner where my bed is, you might notice the circle garlands that I so carefully created. There used to be five strands, but one
fell viciously attacked me as I slept one night. I fought back against that mean paper. Needless to say, there was not enough left in the morning to fix. So it will stay lopsided.
If you look carefully at my pillows, you will notice that one of them is still a Christmas pillowcase. Instead of switching from set to set, I keep washing it and putting it back on my bed. In my defense, it is flannel and it has been a cold winter. Plus, Eeyore.
So long story short, I am not a professional decorator. My bedroom is a place I live in. That means it will not always look perfect, which is fine with me.
I was stoked when Brianna revealed the topic for this month’s Ten Favorite Things. We are sharing about our homes. I am proud to be from New Jersey.
Even though I love my state fiercely, it was initially too difficult to list ten things. After quickly polling my family, I was able to come up with ten additional things to love about NJ.
1. I live and work here. If that isn’t enough of a reason to love a state, I don’t know what is.
2. I can go to the beach any time I want. I literally do not understand how people can function without spontaneous trips to the beach.
3. You can easily take day trips into Philly, NYC, Baltimore, DC, and Hershey Park. This means you can have many lovely adventures. I am a big fan of adventures.
4. The light bulb was invented here.Try to go an entire day without turning on a light switch. That’s what I thought.
5. Diners. Pancakes anywhere, any time, day or night.
6. TCNJ. This is the best college/ alma mater in this history of the universe.
7. Jersey Fresh Produce. My personal favorite is Jersey Corn. It tastes better than other corn on the cob. (Side note: Apparently, I eat corn on the cob weird?!)
8. Finding it on a map is so easy. No other state looks like NJ and I really love it.
9. Driving on back roads. I know several roads and the major highways can get really congested, but there are also plenty of back roads. This translates to open spaces, lots of stars, and making great time driving between home and the BF.
10. Full-service gas. They pump your gas for you, which is great in the winter when you don’t want to get out of the car.
Of course, we had to document the hard work of pumping gas in NY as part of a college road trip.
runners up: Tastykakes, Stockton (for Suz), Rutgers (BF), The Pine Barrens (Dad), Wawa, Drive in Movie-Theaters (Mom) Lucy the Elephant, boardwalks, Cape May Zoo, and a Governor who isn’t afraid to speak his mind*
*I am not saying that I do or do not agree with his politics. I think he did an excellent job in dealing with both Hurricane Irene and Hurricane Sandy.
February was a short month, but it was also a busy month. It seemed that it just started, and yet here we are at the end of February. There was so much to remember and so much to celebrate. Join in the celebration at Leigh’s blog.
The Best Things I Saw:
42: We had a family movie night to watch this biopic about Jackie Robinson.
Dad and I continued our Daddy/ Daughter Harry Potter movie series. He’s seen up through Goblet of Fire now.
The Beatles: A Grammy Salute: Since I have not gotten access to a working time machine, seeing Ringo and Paul perform together on TV is the closest I am going to get to seeing them live.
Jack Reacher: This was a great crime drama that we found on netflix. Mom you should totally watch this.
The Best Superbowl commercials:
Cheerios, Toyota with the Muppets, Audi with the giant-head puppies, both Budweiser commercials
The Best Parts of the Olympics:
The BF and I watched figure skating together because he is sweet like that. I am also amazed at how fast all the athletes can go down the luge. Snowboard cross was super exciting. I love how it was a race.
The Best Things I Read:
Girls in White Dresses (good, but not exactly what I expected.)
Sense and Sensibility
Year to Date total: 5
My Favorite online reads:
Lauren reminds all of us that “Your worth is not the number of likes you get today.” I know I am guilty of this.
Nadine shares some nanny adventures and what they reminded her about the hard stuff of faith.
I am so excited for this new linkup hosted by Amber of Mr. Thomas and Me and Kate “Florken.”
Kaitlyn provided a timely reminder that Your Journey Is Right on Time.
The favorites from the first half of the month can be found here.
The Best Things I Ate:
One night Mom and Suz decided that we needed a taste of summer. We made a “campfire” and had burgers and other summer foods, but no s’mores.
Susan finally had the free time to bake her after-Christmas cookies and they were delicious.
The BF made me spaghetti and meatballs for dinner. YUM.
The Best Things I Heard:
I have been back in a Taylor Swift mood lately. My most recent fav is “Everything Has Changed.” Her falling in love songs are so much better than her complaining songs.
Nearly all of the covers/ tributes to the Beatles. Plus as much of their music as I could get my hands on.
Mumford and Sons “I Will Wait”
Steven Curtis Chapman “Spring is Coming”
The Fray “Love Don’t Die”
The Best Things I Wrote:
Ten Awesome Things About Love
Leaning into Now
The Best Memories:
1) Valentines Weekend tradition of dinner at a nice local Italian restaurant. It was snowing and I should have worn boots, but I wanted to wear heels for Valentines Day. In case you were curious, I wore this sweater dress. It wasn’t until the next day that I realized we didn’t take any pictures. Bad blogger moment, but great date.
2) Our inside campfire dinner because we are all tired of winter.
3) Receiving my Cara Box from Rachel
4) After working on this project for an entire year, I finally finished my tee-shirt quilt
5) My very pink Valentines Day present from the BF
6) An ironic commentary: Beautiful day body wash for the snow/freezing rain/ yucky slush storm that had several of us neighbors working together to shovel snow and clear the storm drains to prevent street flooding
7) Watching the SS kids play dress up and having them ask if Jesus rode a shark
8) It was unseasonably warm so I wore flip flops to run my Saturday morning errands
9) Going to Friendly’s for a class trip. It was a long day, but the students enjoyed the experience. (I let them take pictures with my ipod to ward off boredom. Hence the glare.)
Not pictured: A lot of snow, organization, working toward goals, getting back into the exercise routine
I have had some form of this post in my drafts for several weeks. There has been a great inner debate about what to share and how to share this story. I think I finally got it right this time.
It is okay.
To be honest with you, I am giving myself permission to feel as well.
When one of my friends tells me about something great in her life, I AM happy for her.
I know how long she has worked, waited, and prayed for this.
BUT so have I.
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Romans 12:15
Back in December, I met my friend Christy for dinner and an evening of catching up on each others’ lives. While we did discuss our jobs and other part of our lives, most of the conversation was about our boyfriends.
At one point, she randomly asked my opinion about how long a couple should date before seriously considering getting engaged. I thought about it for a minute or two, and then gave a very reasonable answer.
I could tell from her face that she didn’t like my answer. It was too far in the future for her and her beloved.
That was just my opinion. It wasn’t a hard and fast rule. If both of them felt confident of the relationship and at peace about the decision, then go right ahead. And they did. I am so happy for them.
Honestly, there was a little voice in the back of my head saying that it wasn’t fair. That I wanted a different story. I thought I would be getting married first, not her.
Sometimes my inner dialogue can really be a meanie. I am learning to ignore her.
I have heard every single piece of advice about waiting and patience. I know that the struggle and learning to wait builds character. I am tired of building my character when I want to build my future. Soon I will look back at this and see this with fresh eyes. I will understand why.
Today is not that day.
One of my other closest friends, Annie, is almost halfway through her engagement and also grad school. We have shared quite a few laughs at the fact that she was the first of this group of friends to settle down. When we were in college, it certainly looked like life would turn out way different.
So much happens in our twenties that by the time you are twenty eight, college seems like a couple of lifetimes ago. I absolutely love how my life is turning out. It isn’t the pipe dream that I imagined when I was holed up in those dorms, but it is better.
This seems to be the general opinion.
God is faithful. Slowly, I have been able to let go of my heartache and impatience. I am constantly reminded of the verse that has been my anchor throughout this whole journey:
And don’t be wishing you were someplace else or with someone else. Where you are right now is God’s place for you. Live and obey and love and believe right there. God, not your marital status, defines your life. Don’t think I’m being harder on you than on the others. I give this same counsel in all the churches. 1 Corinthians 7:17 (The Message)
Each individual story is different. Different is okay. Different demonstrates how vastly creative of a God we serve. God understands our lives much better than we do. If He says not quite yet, then it is for a good reason.
In the meantime, I get to hear all about their wedding plans. I get to live vicariously through them. I am sharing in both their celebrations as best I know how. I am all kinds of excited for my friends.
I am figuring out things that I want or not want, now, so that I can be better informed when it is my turn. My friends are reliable sources of information; Pinterest is not.
And just for good measure, here is a wonderful throwback picture of the three of us in college, circa 2007.
Linking up with Jennifer at #tellHisstory
Last week, Katie posted on fb/twitter encouraging everyone to lean into their current season. I started a gratitude list in preparation for a photo response. It was amazing to see just how quickly my list was growing, despite having a rather stressful week.
There is so much to love and be thankful about that one picture was nowhere near enough.
A few of the things I love most about this season are…
Working with an amazing group of students: Teaching is one of the great passions of my life and I am so grateful for this opportunity to live my dream.
Our weekend date days: The BF and I do not get to see each other as much as we would want, but our weekly tradition of date days is very special.
My awesome, supportive family: I am so glad we are so close and helpful to each other.
This blog: Writing has become one of my favorite creative outlets. I love being able to look back and see the transformation into the woman I am now. Also writing has the opportunity to inspire others.
My car: Olivia the car works great and is very close to getting paid off.
Scarves and other warm winter clothes: I can afford to keep myself comfortable, warm, and stylish.
Cute boots: I am thankful for all the shoes I can wear, especially all my boots.
Graduation Eeyores: I love celebrating accomplishments, plus they are Eeyore.
My favorite flannel sheets: One of the best parts of winter is climbing into bed with warm flannel sheets and my new quilt.
Friends and the reminders I have of each person: Friendships are special. Friend gifts are a great way to remember all the fun we had together.
The BF: He is my best friend and the reason behind my smile.
Craft projects: Crafting is great, especially when you can spend an entire afternoon working on what inspires you.
What are you celebrating in your life right now?
People always come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.
When you figure out which it is, you know exactly what to do.
The reason was that we were both looking for another girl to complete a college dorm suite. Turns out we had been seeing each other all over campus, but didn’t know each other’s real names. Library coffee girl was going to be suitemates with Always on Her Ipod.
The reason is that you either love or hate your roommates/suitemates. Fortunately, our friendship fell into the first category,
The reason was that I lost the housing game. Our schedules were different, but we still found the time.
The reason was that she graduated and started working. I disappeared down the rabbit hole of student teaching.
The reason was that I was in an emotional downward spiral. I didn’t realize I was falling until I hit bottom. I started blogging and went through a messy breakup, not that breakups are ever nice.
The reason was a Christmas cookie exchange. Baked goods are famous for bridging gaps.
The reason was a birthday party. It was a surprise for her.
The reason was that we were suddenly aware of how long it had been since we had really caught up with each other. A lot had changed in a year. Some things had not.
The reason was that I decided that this friendship was worth investing in.
The reason was that she had moved into her first grown-up apartment. She wanted to play hostess. We both talked about guys, generally and specifically.
The reason was that she wanted me to meet someone who she thought I would be friends with. She was right.
The reason was that I needed some space from a particular guy until we could figure things out. He and I had many mutual friends, which made it stressful.
The reason was that I was not going to let any guy, no matter how special, to come between friends.
The reason was that she was getting married and wanted me to help celebrate the occasion.
The reason was that I was thrilled to help her out.
The reason was that the holiday season means lots of gatherings and parties.
The reason was that plans change.
I can’t say there was any one reason. It could have been any combination of hundreds of things. Or it could have just been that the season of us being together as ended and we are just going different places with our lives.
It felt odd at first, but now I am totally okay with it.
There might be a reason for us to reconnect again in the future, and that would be alright. Then again, the shift could be part of something more permanent. Only time will tell.
I am not the kind of person who needs gifts to know that I am loved. Gifts are nice tokens of appreciation, but not required. When I do receive gifts, they do not need to be anything special. Small, thoughtful trinkets are just as meaningful as large gifts. It is also great if I can reciprocate in some way.
Valentines season meant that there were plenty of opportunities to show love and friendly appreciation to others and to be appreciated as well.
I have been following the Cara Box partnerships, hosted by Kaitlyn of Wifessionals, for several months. I was so glad to sign up when she posted the winter sign-ups. Not only was I going to participate in this great blogging pen-pal program, I would also be able to connect with other bloggers who live in NJ.
I was paired with Amanda of Prepared to Take Off and Rachel of Sunshine and Sinatra.
Amanda loves her puppy Lulu and going to the movies on snow days. She is going through a big transition in her life, as her husband just started his training for the Air Force.
Rachel is a college gal who blog everything that is on her mind. She and I share a dislike for driving in Philly. She loves her mom and makes really cool drawings.
I absolutely love this drawing of my blog’s theme. Each time I look at it, I discover something new. Thanks ladies!
I recently received some treats from my work secret pal as well. Whoever she is, she knows me quite well. In this package was a wine glass full of my favorite chocolate and a pink sparkly candle holder.
One of the things that I love about Valentines Day is seeing the ways in which my students show their appreciation for their teachers. Last year, one of my students gave me a granola bar. This year, all the gifts were pretty standard. Although, I am kind of bummed than none of them gave me a teddy bear.
Mom and Suz took some time recently to meander through our favorite craft store. One bright and colorful thing led to another and I was fortunate enough to be given two awesome handmade cards. My sister also bought me a mint chocolate candy bar.
And of course, the BF sent me these gorgeous pink flowers. They actually arrived on the 13th, but I am not complaining about that. I wouldn’t want those flowers to freeze overnight on the delivery truck. They look even better after a few days.
What are some of the best Valentines you have received?
For this month’s edition of The Circle, Kiki and Britney are encouraging us to share a little about our Valentines. I realized that I am fortunate to have many wonderful people to celebrate this year.
My parents: They are two awesome people who do a lot for me. Just the other day, my dad helped me find my gloves even though I should totally be able to find them on my own by now. Mom has the ability to find things in my room that are missing, even when I already looked there.
My sister: Suz has won the award of best sister over and over. She will randomly buy me snacks. She also tells me if my outfit is a good idea or not. She takes great pictures for me.
My friends: Near or far, these are the people that I know I can depend on. That means a lot.
My Sunday School class: Miss Leeann has been investing in this group of kids for several years. It is such a blessing to see them grow and finally understand what we’ve been teaching them for so long.
My students: They keep me smiling, no matter how bad of a day that I am having. They say funny things. They really love my rainboots.
My grandparents: I wanted to celebrate them for a minute, despite them not knowing what a blog is. (Which is a good thing. I spent ten minutes helping them with their answering machine. They are wonderful people, but not so very tech-savy) They love all their grandkids fiercely. I am fortunate to still have three grandparents living, and close by.
and of course, The BF:
He ordered a lovely bouquet of pink flowers for me for Valentines Day. He also surprised me by coming down for a date day, despite the snowy forecast. We celebrated by going to a nice restaurant for dinner. When walking from the parking lot to the restaurant, he held an umbrella so it would block most of the snow from falling on me. So sweet.
Happy Valentines Day! I’m celebrating with my students today and hoping that it doesn’t snow too much tomorrow so the BF can come down to see me.
To start this party off right, let’s work on this week’s FMF.
It seems silly to write about gardens when the ground is covered in snow, again. This winter will not last forever. Soon flowers will start peeking through the ground. The temperatures will finally warm up.
I am ready for spring right now. Then again, I would say that most of us are. It has been a long winter.
I love when flowers are growing everywhere. They are so pretty. They also smell nice. But without the cold of winter to give the seeds a break, they would not bloom every spring. One of my favorite flowers is the tulip. The bulbs need to lie dormant in order to sprout so beautifully when the seasons start to turn.
It is not spring yet, but it will be soon.
I know I write and complain about this winter a lot. However, the annoyances of our little snow storms are nothing compared to the snow down in Atlanta. Abby was one of those who were stranded and ended up sleeping in the Home Depot for a bit.
We have no idea how other people are truly feeling. We should support each other, not play tug of war with each other’s pain.
This six year old, with the help of her family, organized a clothing drive to support orphans. She collected 400 onesies. That is incredible.
It is official. I must have this home tee, even though the letters are in north Jersey.
Endlessly Beloved is joining the ever increasing amount of bloggers who are taking time away from their phones and blogs and living more fully in the moment.
Jenny of Sprinkles and Sunshine went to the most adorable tea party. I don’t even like tea and I want to go there.
The ingenious minds that work at Waterstone bookstore have decided to start Lego Lit. I particularly like how they improvised in the Dracula scenes.
This dress featured on Ruby Girl Blog is stunning. I really like the the sweetheart neckline and the sheer sleeves.