BRB… Waiting for Baby Steiner

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Aloha friends!

Jason and I are anxiously awaiting the arrival of our precious baby girl and will be taking a brief hiatus for her arrival this summer! We can’t wait to catch up with you and share our many life updates in the fall. Thank you for your continued support + prayers for our ministry and our baby girl. And be sure to connect with us on Instagram for baby updates throughout the summer!

Have a blessed summer!

in Him,

Laura

PSST! Our store is still open!

Aloha, Coffee, Jesus Tank TopGrab your “Fueled by: Aloha, Coffee, Jesus” tank while it’s still hot!

SHOP NOW! Take me there

 

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Shannon Melek Photography

 

 

Laura is the co-founder + editor behind SWS. She is currently living on Maui with her husband, where they’re passionate about serving and glorifying Jesus. She loves naps, surfing, adventuring with their border collie, Mowgli, and is an advocate for the fact that #GraceNeverRunsOut.
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How to Crave More of God

I looked out the window bewildered at the sound of rain. After spending the last week and a half in a pool of my own sweat, the hard rainfall felt like an answer to prayer after a long, dry drought. I did what I always do when it actually rains in Hawaii (we’ve always lived on the dry side of the islands), I lit candles and opened up every door and every window to take it all in. Out one window were dark clouds, and out the other was blue sky and palm trees. I knew it wouldn’t last long. I wanted to do all the cozy things and pretend we actually lived somewhere with real seasons, which I often crave here on this tropical little island. Continue reading

Laura is the co-founder + editor behind SWS. She is currently living on Maui with her husband, where they’re passionate about serving and glorifying Jesus. She loves naps, surfing, adventuring with their border collie, Mowgli, and is an advocate for the fact that #GraceNeverRunsOut.
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Moving to a New Island, Baby Gender Reveal, and God’s Plan

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We just got home from a magical and lovely weekend spent with loved ones on Kauai. It was the perfect break after a long month of home renovations, termite tenting, and making arrangements to move from Maui to Oahu next month. And I had to shake myself and wonder when island hopping became a Monday morning norm, and how Hawaii has been home to us for nearly 3 years now. Regardless, Jason and I still debate regularly where we’re going to eventually “settle down”. Where do we want to live? How far do we want to be from family? Where do we want our kids to grow up? What do WE want to be when we grow up?

Can anyone else relate? Continue reading

Laura is the co-founder + editor behind SWS. She is currently living on Maui with her husband, where they’re passionate about serving and glorifying Jesus. She loves naps, surfing, adventuring with their border collie, Mowgli, and is an advocate for the fact that #GraceNeverRunsOut.
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My New Years Day Meltdown: An Honest Letter About 2017

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Hi Friends!

I took a much needed hiatus from social media this last week. My family was here visiting from California, and instead of documenting every moment with them, I savored it and drank it in. And I didn’t blog about 2016. Or my thoughts about 2017. Or my resolutions. And to be honest with you, it was so freeing. We had a week full of food fights, sunsets, and card games, with never ending laughs as we rode around in a rental van that barely ran. It was glorious.
And when my family left on New Years Eve, as much as I tried to shake it, there was no doubt a dark cloud looming over me all weekend.

I love the turn of the new year. The fresh, clean slate and promise of hope are inspiring. I’m a goal-setting, list-making dreamer with a perpetually restless soul that’s always aching to be part of a greater purpose.

So when I woke up on New Years Day, I never expected that our 2017 goal-setting session would end in the meltdown I had.

The truth is, 2016 may be in the past, and it may be last year, but it was also just last weekend. Problems and hurts aren’t erased. Stress and work and worries are still there. I wish the turn of the new year really wiped those things clean.

My sweet husband has so much grace and patience with me. I cried about missing my family. And being overwhelmed with more condo renovations, and going back to work, and hosting visitors, and vacations that may never come to fruition, and big life decisions: it’s no wonder the afternoon ended in tears for me.

I feel silly writing this now, but I know many of you have similar hurts and struggles. The New Year doesn’t mean everything is perfect and new. It’s not a magical day that fixes everything when the clock strikes 12.

But as believers in and followers of Christ, we are offered a new start daily. And with Christ, that does mean peace in the midst of chaos and overwhelm, comfort in the hurt, and hope in the future.

Friend, you’re doing just fine where you are. Don’t put pressure on yourself to live up to expectations this year that are going to end in stress or disappointment. Keep going on the road you’re on, and seek God all the way.

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Isaiah 40:31

In Him,

Laura
founder + editor

Laura is the co-founder + editor behind SWS. She is currently living on Maui with her husband, where they’re passionate about serving and glorifying Jesus. She loves naps, surfing, adventuring with their border collie, Mowgli, and is an advocate for the fact that #GraceNeverRunsOut.
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Forgiveness and The 5 Words That Crushed Me

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A little less than a year ago, I sat blindsided in a then-friend’s kitchen, getting insults hurled hastily in my face. This woman was enraged. And wrongly so. I sat there, however, dumbfoundedly taking in every word like another dagger to my heart. “And you call yourself a Christian?!” She screamed with disgust.

This isn’t a story about all the mean things that were said to me. This isn’t a story about justifying my side of the story, or even explaining the backstory of the turn of events that led me to sitting there that bleak January day.  Continue reading

Laura is the co-founder + editor behind SWS. She is currently living on Maui with her husband, where they’re passionate about serving and glorifying Jesus. She loves naps, surfing, adventuring with their border collie, Mowgli, and is an advocate for the fact that #GraceNeverRunsOut.
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His Banner is Love: Truth You Need to Hear

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Written by the lovely Kaci Nicole

I’m a big words girl.

I love writing, and I love the feeling of finding a perfect quote.  Goodness, “Words of Affirmation” is even my top love language.

My love for words stems from the fact that I believe in their power.  Power to influence and power to change.  Think about God’s first recorded words in Scripture, as He is creating the world.  Of all the methods He could have chosen (which is oh yeah, anything), He chose to speak the very universe in which we live into existence using words.  This means that His words have the power to change reality.  I think He has instilled in our words the same capacity. Continue reading

Laura is the co-founder + editor behind SWS. She is currently living on Maui with her husband, where they’re passionate about serving and glorifying Jesus. She loves naps, surfing, adventuring with their border collie, Mowgli, and is an advocate for the fact that #GraceNeverRunsOut.
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Seeking Adventure in the Midst of the Mundane

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Do you ever feel yourself craving the air of a new season? Not just the leaves changing from vibrant green to rich auburn, or the crisp caress of cool fall nights, but the shift of life events, a new journey, a fresh start. Sometimes my heart focuses on an event, a project, or a goal just because I’m craving the “next thing”.
Continue reading

Laura is the co-founder + editor behind SWS. She is currently living on Maui with her husband, where they’re passionate about serving and glorifying Jesus. She loves naps, surfing, adventuring with their border collie, Mowgli, and is an advocate for the fact that #GraceNeverRunsOut.
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3 Things to Stop Believing About Marriage

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I never wanted to get married.

When I used to hear about or see pictures of people I knew getting engaged, I cringed on the inside. “That sucks for them”, I would think to myself. I feel like I have to mention this was before recommitting my life to Jesus, and I was much younger back when I felt it necessary to feel bad for people who were getting engaged. I viewed marriage as something everyone was doing because it was trendy, and I wanted nothing to do with it.

Little did I know, a few short years later, I would be married and living on Maui after a 7 week engagement. Continue reading

Laura is the co-founder + editor behind SWS. She is currently living on Maui with her husband, where they’re passionate about serving and glorifying Jesus. She loves naps, surfing, adventuring with their border collie, Mowgli, and is an advocate for the fact that #GraceNeverRunsOut.
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Called to be an Uncomfortable Mom: Guest Post by Ana Nelson

   
“What if my children resent me in the future?

…I just don’t have the time for this!

I could lose so much sleep over this, and plus I’m sure I won’t be able to attend the gym”.

All these thoughts and many more ran through my mind like wildfire as I tried to find any watered down excuse to extinguish them.

What was the question? “Honey, I feel the Lord is calling us to foster children”. 

These words flowed out of my darling husband’s mouth with such peace. So much peace that it bothered me. How can he ask me to change my life for this? Continue reading

Laura is the co-founder + editor behind SWS. She is currently living on Maui with her husband, where they’re passionate about serving and glorifying Jesus. She loves naps, surfing, adventuring with their border collie, Mowgli, and is an advocate for the fact that #GraceNeverRunsOut.
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4 Unexpected Times the Enemy Sneaks into Your Spiritual Life

glassesWhen I first re-dedicated my life to Jesus, I didn’t think much about the topic of spiritual warfare. To be honest, I’m not sure I even knew what it was. “I don’t think that’s applicable to me”, I thought. “I’m saved.”

As a “new” Christian in my early twenties, I was interested in meditation, the power of the mind + visualization, and I was 100% in a relationship with an eating disorder, which I didn’t even realize was sinful, harmful, or detrimental to my health at the time.

I was caught in a web of the enemy’s lies, even though I knew and accepted the truth. Continue reading

Laura is the co-founder + editor behind SWS. She is currently living on Maui with her husband, where they’re passionate about serving and glorifying Jesus. She loves naps, surfing, adventuring with their border collie, Mowgli, and is an advocate for the fact that #GraceNeverRunsOut.
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Artist Feature: Bethany Joy Art

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This post is brought to you by the lovely and talented Bethany Joy, of Bethany Joy Art. We hope you find inspiration in her story and her beautiful art!

Hi, friends! I’m Bethany Joy, a painter of color and “joy.”  The feeling of paint on my fingers, wearing my favorite denim paint shirt, squeezing a new tube of paint, watching paint drip down a canvas, even waiting for paint to dry…those things make my heart smile.  But, I didn’t choose painting, at first that is… Continue reading

Laura is the co-founder + editor behind SWS. She is currently living on Maui with her husband, where they’re passionate about serving and glorifying Jesus. She loves naps, surfing, adventuring with their border collie, Mowgli, and is an advocate for the fact that #GraceNeverRunsOut.
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When You Thought Summer Vacation Was Supposed to be Relaxing

Summer is meant for relaxing pool days, sleeping later, sipping iced tea and kids away at summer camp. Right?


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This sounds idyllic. It’s the storybook summertime we dream of as kids. The picture-perfect movie-esque summer we long for all school year long. The break we all need. But unfortunately for most of us, this isn’t the case. Continue reading

Laura is the co-founder + editor behind SWS. She is currently living on Maui with her husband, where they’re passionate about serving and glorifying Jesus. She loves naps, surfing, adventuring with their border collie, Mowgli, and is an advocate for the fact that #GraceNeverRunsOut.
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Why I Owe Our Country an Apology: And You Do, Too

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I have to apologize.

I have to apologize for remaining silent. I have to apologize for retreating and choosing to hide instead of taking a stand and speaking out. I have to apologize for being at a loss for words, and instead of just coming out and saying that, I opted out completely. It’s with a heavy heart that I feel burdened to say something about what’s been happening in our country and our world. I’m sorry for all the lives that have been taken, whether it was at the hands of ISIS or others, they’re all straight up clothed in hate. Whether the victims were black or white or in uniform or gay or straight. I’m sorry for the lives we’ve lost, for the hurt that’s been inflicted, for the pain that is permanent, and for the lack of Jesus in all of it. Continue reading

Laura is the co-founder + editor behind SWS. She is currently living on Maui with her husband, where they’re passionate about serving and glorifying Jesus. She loves naps, surfing, adventuring with their border collie, Mowgli, and is an advocate for the fact that #GraceNeverRunsOut.
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24 Life Lessons + Embarrassing Newlywed Stories Learned in 2 Years of Marriage

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Since getting married and moving to the middle of the ocean two years ago, our lives have looked something like this: 9 job changes for me, buying our first condo and completely gutting + renovating it while residing in it (still a work in progress), one stress-induced seizure, 12 house guests, a few unfortunate burned bridges, 4 trips back to the mainland, a couple of racked up credit cards that have since been chipped away at, 3 hurricane warnings, selling our beloved Jeep, adventures and jumping off waterfalls, planting a garden that we can’t keep alive, and a partridge in a pear tree.

Despite life’s inevitable messy speed bumps, we have been showered with God’s grace, provision, and blessing after blessing. And the one thing I have to say for it all? We are so grateful our outside circumstances never got the best of our marriage. Because people like to say scary things, like your first year of marriage is going to be the worst, and “just wait”.  All we can attribute our strong relationship to is our faith in God, and the work of the Holy Spirit that has been alive and well in our relationship since day one. And also, I’d like to give a shout out to my incredibly patient, humble, and understanding husband, who has put out more fires with his patience than he’ll ever admit, which has saved us from numerous ugly fights. (Cha-ching! Deposit in the love bank!)

So without further ado, here are 24 lessons + life hacks brought to you by newlyweds who still feel like they’re 12 year old kids trying to navigate life.

  1. Take the risk and buy the fixer upper. You may not have bathroom doors up for a while, but this can grow your intimacy very quickly and bring you closer than you ever imagined.

2. Buy her flowers. Pick up a six pack. Watch the big game. Treat each other to what you know will make their day. 

3. It’s better to get 2 hours of sleep hashing it out instead of going to bed upset.

4. Anything can be accomplished with YouTube and a “never give up” attitude. (Even hanging your own drywall.)

5. God always provides. Always. Like the time a 100 dollar bill blew into the backyard.

6. Prayer changes things.

7. Island fever is best cured with ice cream.

8. Re-watching your wedding video never gets old.

9. Moving boxes make excellent makeshift nightstands.

10. Warning: newlyweds may come with extreme over-consumption of frozen pizza.

11. No job is ever worth the stress, tears, or misery. Live on rice and beans and find something different.

12. A hug and a cup of coffee are the best ways to start off each morning.

13. It’s always worth it to splurge on friends.

14. Never take for granted weekends off together, even if they’re spent running errands and doing laundry. Sometimes, those are the sweetest moments.

15. Write each other love notes and hide them in unexpected places, like the silverware drawer or in their wallet.

16. Getting married doesn’t cure your restless soul syndrome, but ice cream comes pretty close.

17. Budget hack: Use the bathroom sink box and a Lowe’s bucket instead of buying a desk and chair. 

18. Hold hands. Hold hands when you’re sitting, sleeping, driving, walking, watching movies, in church, reading, eating, shopping; just do it.

19. Decide who’s going to kill the bugs and never look back.

20. Invest in Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University and change your lives forever.

21. Join a Bible study. Join multiple Bible studies. Get involved and stay involved. Accountability is everything.

22. You can never say “I love you” enough.

23. Over-communicate to avoid silly miscommunications. And be honest about what it is you really want!

24. Tell each other what you love about each other regularly, and share what your favorite parts about being married are.

Bonus: Take walks together. This is our favorite time to have life talks, dream big dreams, debrief from our day, and just be together.

Bottom line: All you need is love.  …Even when you’re driving down a volcano with burned out brakes or you forget to pay HOA for 5 months. Wait, what? I guess those are stories for another time.

Laura is the co-founder + editor behind SWS. She is currently living on Maui with her husband, where they’re passionate about serving and glorifying Jesus. She loves naps, surfing, adventuring with their border collie, Mowgli, and is an advocate for the fact that #GraceNeverRunsOut.
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Knowing Where God is Guiding You

Where is God Guiding YOU

Written by Kaci Nicole Piccillo

After three long hours of traveling for work, I was more than ready to pull into the hotel parking lot and dive headfirst into that fluffy king-sized wonderland. Having just exited the freeway, only a few more turns stood between me and my destination.

Unfamiliar with the area, however, I was relying heavily on my GPS. I turned right as instructed, only to be confronted with an immediate fork in the road, and good ‘ole Siri hadn’t quite caught up yet; the next direction was still loading. Traffic closing in behind me, I didn’t have time to wait. A decision had to be made, one I couldn’t be sure of. Using my best judgement, I channeled my inner Beyoncé and gently turned the wheel to the left. Continue reading

Laura is the co-founder + editor behind SWS. She is currently living on Maui with her husband, where they’re passionate about serving and glorifying Jesus. She loves naps, surfing, adventuring with their border collie, Mowgli, and is an advocate for the fact that #GraceNeverRunsOut.
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When Grace Met Imperfection

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Hey friends, I’m so excited to share with you a sweet friend of mine’s story. Shannon is a joy and encouragement to know, and I hope you find her story as inspiring as I did!

Hey, my name is Shannon and I’m a twenty-something-year-old born and raised Washingtonian whose love for green grass, white linens, garden veggies, puppy kisses, and God’s grace is 100% unapologetic. It was an honor to be asked to share some thoughts with you, on this cozy corner of the Internet. I encourage you to grab your favorite beverage, a fluffy blanket, and stay awhile. Thanks for reading!

My journey towards living an authentic, grace-filled life is nowhere near completion, but my goodness it sure has a come a long way from where it first began…

I was 4 years old. My papa and I were driving home from church on a warm summer evening when I asked him the most intelligent question a 4-year-old could possibly ask: “Dad, how do I get Jesus to actually live inside my heart?” Without hesitation he maneuvered the car over to the side of the road, put it in park, and turned to face me with the biggest smile. From that night forward, Jesus became more than just a story, He became the leader of my story.

Faith has always been a key component of my identity – it literally defines how I see the world, attempt to react in situations, and most importantly offers me the promise that my future is just the beginning of a divine legacy. I picture faith as a golden thread, intricately woven throughout the years, remaining vibrant in color despite human tendencies to dull it. The concept of faith has not always been easy for me to comprehend, especially as a “scientist”. You see, my background is heavy in the sciences. With only 1 year remaining between a medical doctorate degree and my future in healthcare, the majority of my life has been spent learning, pondering, and researching in the fields of biology, chemistry, physiology, mathematics, etc. Thankfully, a faith-based upbringing, partnered with the decision to pursue my pre-medical undergraduate degree at a small, private Christian university, provided me with a solid foundation on which my faith continues to grow.

Shannon 1As a physician-in-training I put my faith to the test every.single.day. My position on a healing team grants me total access to the most vulnerable, ugly, and joyous moments that human life has to offer. I find this level of stranger-intimacy truly humbling.  Medicine is a beautiful and messy journey, one that requires faith. Faith to hold a patient’s hand as they take their last breath, faith to bring a tiny life into this world, and faith to understand that the human body is not something to be “mastered” but something to be respected. My admiration for God’s divine creation spans beyond the awe-inspired complexity of the body, but also runs deep into the dark soil where my “baby greens” grow. As a wanna-be-green-thumb enthusiast, I can’t help but become giddy with excitement when I see a leafy green stalk emerge from the soil below. The concept that delicious life can grow from a tiny, seemingly life-less seed, never ceases to amaze me.

Similarly, I compare life without Jesus to be like the inanimate seed – buried, cold, and struggling to simply survive the harsh environments before realizing that it has a purpose for living that gives life to others. That being said, I encourage you to pause, look around at what fills your daily life and gives you purpose. Is it your job? How many followers you have on your social media accounts? The car you drive? What your significant other does for work? The list could go on and on, and on. Instead, I now challenge you to pause again, take a moment to jot down what really matters to you, and make a second list of what you know matters to your Creator. Do your lists align? If not, prayerfully ask Jesus to help you break out of the darkness and into His light, so you can become a life-giving fruit to those around you. More frequently than not, I, too, have to press pause and re-evaluate the situation at-hand. Clarity doesn’t always come with a quick prayer, and often requires a painful struggle before I emerge with a renewed perspective that 99% of the time also comes with a sense of peace, His peace.

I pray for that same sense of peace to find you, right here, right now. You are loved. You are cherished. And most importantly, you have a purpose for living that is unparalleled. Your Heavenly Father created you perfectly and desires nothing more than to be in daily conversation with you. Silence the cell phone, close the laptop, and take the time you need to reconnect with your Creator. You imperfections are perfectly welcomed in His presence.

Praying abundant blessings over you as you continue to navigate this imperfect journey we call life, and seek to accept the grace that eagerly awaits you.

Blessings,

Shannon

Follow Shannon on Instagram: Dynamic_DO

Email: emaildynamicdoctor@gmail.com

Laura is the co-founder + editor behind SWS. She is currently living on Maui with her husband, where they’re passionate about serving and glorifying Jesus. She loves naps, surfing, adventuring with their border collie, Mowgli, and is an advocate for the fact that #GraceNeverRunsOut.
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Meet Kaylie Hodges: A Story of The Unexpected and God’s Blessings

Kaylie Hodges

I never wanted to get married and have kids.

Don’t worry. This isn’t coming as any surprise to my husband since I looked him in the eye after knowing him for only six months and spoke those words very clearly. I was going to be free. I was going to travel and live big. I’d seen just enough brokenness in being tied down that I believed healing was found in being untethered.

Less than seven months later I was looking that same man in the eye as I walked down the aisle. That’s pretty much how my entire adult life has gone. I keep finding what I’m looking for in the most unexpected places. Continue reading

Laura is the co-founder + editor behind SWS. She is currently living on Maui with her husband, where they’re passionate about serving and glorifying Jesus. She loves naps, surfing, adventuring with their border collie, Mowgli, and is an advocate for the fact that #GraceNeverRunsOut.
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The Secret to Contentment

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I’m cozied up on the couch this morning on my only day off this week. I’m treating Tuesday like Friday, because that’s what my Dove chocolate wrapper told me to do. (You’re lying if you don’t take advice from chocolate, too.) I’ve been so inspired after being a part of mini, devotional-style Bible studies the other night in discipleship class, and I am using today to process through what we talked about. Continue reading

Laura is the co-founder + editor behind SWS. She is currently living on Maui with her husband, where they’re passionate about serving and glorifying Jesus. She loves naps, surfing, adventuring with their border collie, Mowgli, and is an advocate for the fact that #GraceNeverRunsOut.
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Meet Erin Nausin of Primavera Studio


Erin Nausin

Hey friends! Today’s post is brought to you by the wonderful and talented Erin Nausin of Primavera Studio. We hope you’re as encouraged by her story as we are!

Truth be told, I come from a family of planners. Not only did I know what we’d have for dinner any given night of the week, but I also picked out the college I’d attend long before the applications were due.

And it totally worked. I was a good student with good friends and a good future ahead of me. Having a plan meant I had my junk together, and that was important. Way too important. Continue reading

Laura is the co-founder + editor behind SWS. She is currently living on Maui with her husband, where they’re passionate about serving and glorifying Jesus. She loves naps, surfing, adventuring with their border collie, Mowgli, and is an advocate for the fact that #GraceNeverRunsOut.
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The 101st Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide

Armenian GenocideCorpses lay in the streets, dead bodies piled so high it was impossible to walk through. People were doused with gasoline and burned alive. Death marches through the desert to concentration camps led them to more torture and death, if they didn’t die sooner. Men, women, children, young and old were tortured and brutally murdered. Churches were burned to the ground. Young children watched as their entire families were shot and killed before their eyes.

This is only a glimpse of the 1.5 million Armenians who were massacred in World War I by the Turkish government, referred to at the time as the Young Turks, who were comparable to the Nazis who would rise to power only 25 years later.

April 24th, 2016, marks 101 years since the beginning of the genocide of the Armenian people.

Continue reading

Laura is the co-founder + editor behind SWS. She is currently living on Maui with her husband, where they’re passionate about serving and glorifying Jesus. She loves naps, surfing, adventuring with their border collie, Mowgli, and is an advocate for the fact that #GraceNeverRunsOut.
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An Encouraging Word from Elise Hodge of She is Light

She is Light founder Elise Hodge

She is Light founder Elise Hodge

At the very mention of ‘social media’, the neurons in my brain start firing in a hundred different directions! And if you ask me what I think about social media, I’ll tell you that it is a fantastic tool to build community, share creative pursuits, meet other like-minded women and cheer each other on. But with the wonderful world of social media comes a whole bunch of challenges.

The truth is that young women and teenagers are constantly bombarded with an alternative reality. They may be alone, sitting in their room, mindlessly scrolling through image after image – pictures of fitness models, yummy food, breathtaking images of travels to the far corners of the earth. Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with these pictures – they can be beautiful, aesthetically pleasing and creative! Continue reading

Laura is the co-founder + editor behind SWS. She is currently living on Maui with her husband, where they’re passionate about serving and glorifying Jesus. She loves naps, surfing, adventuring with their border collie, Mowgli, and is an advocate for the fact that #GraceNeverRunsOut.
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Our 7 Week Engagement: A Love Story

EngagementPhotos

“Can you come over tonight? We need to talk out life.”

I knew he wasn’t breaking up with me, but my mind was racing out of control nonetheless.

Why did he have to send that text in the middle of the workday? The anxious, nauseous feeling never left me for the remainder of the day. Continue reading

Laura is the co-founder + editor behind SWS. She is currently living on Maui with her husband, where they’re passionate about serving and glorifying Jesus. She loves naps, surfing, adventuring with their border collie, Mowgli, and is an advocate for the fact that #GraceNeverRunsOut.
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The Media’s Version of Beauty and How to Find Your Worth & Value

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After I struggled with an eating disorder and first began recovery, I wanted nothing to do with diets, fitness, or health & wellness. I was overly sensitive to the “food chat” that took place among groups of women constantly, wherever I went, and I just wanted to crawl under a rock and not think about food. I would get upset, frustrated, and would totally shut down. Can you ever relate? It seems everyone has input on what not to eat, why they shouldn’t eat the last piece of cake, or how much time they’re going to have to spend in the gym after they finish their burger. It’s a constant need to justify to ourselves and everyone around us what we’re eating or how we stay healthy. And sometimes, we think our way is best. Continue reading

Laura is the co-founder + editor behind SWS. She is currently living on Maui with her husband, where they’re passionate about serving and glorifying Jesus. She loves naps, surfing, adventuring with their border collie, Mowgli, and is an advocate for the fact that #GraceNeverRunsOut.
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Prayer Series: A Prayer for When You Need Confidence

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This is the first in what will be a monthly series of prayers.

We all have days when it’s hard to find our worth in Jesus. It’s easy to get caught up in how we look, what we don’t have, and what we wish we were better at. We’re great at throwing ourselves pity parties and wallowing in our weaknesses, and our confidence gets beaten into the ground.

I had a lot of difficult, dark days when I struggled with an eating disorder. Much of the prayer below is excerpts from my prayer journal during that time. And what I found time and time again is this: His word is filled with truths about seeking Jesus confidently, that He is sufficient for us, and that we are going to struggle with desiring the things of this earth. But He is faithful, and He doesn’t want us to live that way. Continue reading

Laura is the co-founder + editor behind SWS. She is currently living on Maui with her husband, where they’re passionate about serving and glorifying Jesus. She loves naps, surfing, adventuring with their border collie, Mowgli, and is an advocate for the fact that #GraceNeverRunsOut.
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5 Dangers of Following a Branded Jesus

branded Jesus

brand /brand/: the promotion of a particular product or company by means of advertising and distinctive design.
These days, we seem to like Christianity packaged up as pretty and staged as we like our Instagram feeds. I’m not here to harp on the talents and efforts of the many incredible Christian organizations and small business owners who work hard to brand their businesses; we at Seasoned with Salt are no different. But I am here to warn of the dangers of following a Jesus so overly-branded that we forget who He really is, and our faith becomes just as staged as our Instagram posts.

Continue reading

Laura is the co-founder + editor behind SWS. She is currently living on Maui with her husband, where they’re passionate about serving and glorifying Jesus. She loves naps, surfing, adventuring with their border collie, Mowgli, and is an advocate for the fact that #GraceNeverRunsOut.
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Gossip vs Venting: Is There a Difference?

Relationships. They’re what life is all about. We were designed to be relational and in community with each other, to love and lift each other up as followers of Christ. We learn this early on in life, and as we grow older and more mature, so do our relationships. Most friendships start out young & innocent, “Hi, what’s your name, let’s be friends”. But soon, the innocence wears off and sin sets in. Kids can be mean and malicious, and so can adults. The difference is, adults become better at hiding it. Continue reading

Laura is the co-founder + editor behind SWS. She is currently living on Maui with her husband, where they’re passionate about serving and glorifying Jesus. She loves naps, surfing, adventuring with their border collie, Mowgli, and is an advocate for the fact that #GraceNeverRunsOut.
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No “Resolutions” Necessary: 3 Steps to Creating a Meaningful & Successful 2016

NEWYEAR

The contributing author hails from Southern California and is passionate about helping others. Currently in a counseling psychology masters program, look out for more posts from her on how to elevate different facets of your life in a Godly way here at SWS.

Let’s hit RESET on our resolution-ridden mindset, shall we?

In my experience, I’ve found the problem with “resolutions” to be this: Once a year I used to come up with tons of surface-level goals because of the culturally provoked pressure to do so. The result? My aspirations became corrupted by societal “shoulds”, leaving no room for grace or a more authentic pursuit of a meaningful life. I would make empty goals without any planning, detail, or personal insight into how I would make them happen, what I would do when I lost motivation, and most importantly, why I wanted to be successful in achieving these goals in the first place. These are all critical aspects involved in seeing aspirations come to fruition. Personal awareness and looking at your life from a larger, eternal perspective are vital tools that foster an environment conducive to success, and are often overlooked in the goal-setting process.

These days, minor lifestyle tweaks and making small improvements multiple times a year, paired with insight into personal strengths, weaknesses and patterns (both negative and positive), help me stay focused and productive all year, not just in January. Here’s how to begin working toward resetting your resolution-ridden mindset:

1. Praise The Lord + yourself for your past accomplishments.
OK, so you may or may not have landed your dream job (or similarly large goal you were shooting for this year), but chances are you did something really great in 2015, and it probably didn’t come easily. Try not to overlook even the smallest of victories and remember to give yourself credit for completed tasks you may have labeled as “no big deal” or “easy”. (Careful with labels, folks). Keep your heart grateful and remember who ultimately gets the credit for every success and accomplishment by praising and giving thanks to the Lord.

I try to be conscious of what I call the “but now” syndrome. This can happen when you accomplish something and move on to your next goal without giving your success proper acknowledgement; i.e. “I got a 4.0 this semester, but now I need to get that internship I want…”. Using the word “but” disregards, and furthermore, sweeping past that victory takes you out of the present moment. (Slow your roll and have a celebratory ice cream!). You made time, you expended energy and you achieved something. Stopping to acknowledge that is bigger than you think.

Not only does praise cultivate a joyful, more grateful you (dopamine rush, anyone?), it also helps you focus your attention on Jesus, as well as your productive processes that led to success so that you can maximize your strengths and repeat positive patterns in future endeavors. The more detailed you can be when figuring out what contributed to helping you achieve your accomplishments, the better. (For example, were you working with a mentor, sleeping better, praying, advocating for yourself more in your workplace? etc.). Take a look at the success in context to develop a personal groove.

2. Re-assess aspects of your life that may need improvement to create more authentic, reachable goals.
I highly suggest taking a little time to process the things that didn’t go so well last year. This can be hard because many of us either entirely avoid looking at what we have probably labeled as a “failure”, or we’re too hard on ourselves and completely self-condemn. But black and white thinking like this moves us further from being truthful with ourselves and what the Bible teaches us, making progress nearly impossible and increasing the chances of repeating mistakes that we do not properly deal with spiritually or emotionally. (You’re gonna keep hitting potholes if you refuse to look down at the road, ya know?). Be gentle with yourself, look at your “mistakes” without judgment (enlist a close friend to talk to as an objective party if you’d like) and then decide if you want to accept or change behaviors that may have contributed to your struggles or goals that didn’t take.

Another important aspect of this process involves asking yourself if the goals that you didn’t reach were internally or externally imposed. If you’re like me, you may not even remember the origin of some of your recycled goals. Sometimes we need to re-assess and decide if certain aspirations even make it on the goals list a second time around. Change is not always the answer, but we often jump toward it as our only solution because in our society we haven’t been wired to accept imperfection. This is where, as Christians, a hefty helping of grace comes in as we continue to push forward toward our goals: it’s important remember as we go through this process we are not called to be perfect, and our accomplishments and failures do not define us.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith. And it is not your own doing; it is the gift of God. Not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

As with examining your strengths, knowing your weaknesses enables you to either accept them and learn to live more flexibly, accepting the grace we’ve been given, and react differently in the future, therein producing different results if you decide the goal still fits. Decide what you really want, and be aware of the one-size-fits-all model promoting change that often accompanies resolution jargon.

3. Check-in often and let things happen naturally… without expectations.
This is the hardest part, but it’s where the magic happens. Trusting the process and the Lord will ultimately help you grow into your goals. This shift in thinking promotes flexibility, which allows for mistakes and creates resilience. The idea of growing into your success instead of expecting quick results produces a more realistic mindset, especially surrounding what you’re expecting in the results pool right away. Most importantly, be patient. Remember, you’re planting seeds, not magic beans, and you may not see the results right away.

If you’re not great at keeping motivation alive, consider writing and then framing notes or Bible verses that you make for yourself while processing steps one and two and placing it somewhere you’ll see it everyday. Small reminders encourage you to stay mindful of your goals and keep your motivation throughout the year.

Happy New Year, everyone!
Laura is the co-founder + editor behind SWS. She is currently living on Maui with her husband, where they’re passionate about serving and glorifying Jesus. She loves naps, surfing, adventuring with their border collie, Mowgli, and is an advocate for the fact that #GraceNeverRunsOut.
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Homesick for the Holidays

landscape-926540_1280It’s an odd feeling to have multiple “homes” and yet still feel like something is missing in each one. By home, I mean a home base. A place where loved ones reside. A place that when you visit, you feel rejuvenation stir in your soul a feeling like you’re yourself again.

My husband’s family lives in Indiana, and I absolutely love and adore them. When we were dating, my first visit to Indiana may have offered a bit of culture shock from the hustle and bustle of Southern California. But after meeting the family I now get to call my own, the place has stolen a slice of home in my heart that’s reserved just for them and is totally irreplaceable. My family is scattered throughout California, and that will always be home to me. But something odd has been happened as we’ve settled in more and more on this little island: we’re creating a new home. A home where church and friends and neighbors have formed a community that bears a strong resemblance to the other homes we hold so dear. And when we’re away from one, we long for the other. Continue reading

Laura is the co-founder + editor behind SWS. She is currently living on Maui with her husband, where they’re passionate about serving and glorifying Jesus. She loves naps, surfing, adventuring with their border collie, Mowgli, and is an advocate for the fact that #GraceNeverRunsOut.
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The Holiday Blues: A Spiritual Perspective on the Season

I’ve been feeling blue lately and quite frankly a bit depressed. Maybe it’s because it’s our second year being away from family for the holiday season, or because I have a retail-working husband who works weekends and most holidays. It could be a combination of being inundated with work, social obligations and feeling like there’s no time for ourselves, as much as I hate to admit it at the risk of sounding selfish. The envious side of me says it’s because most of our friends get to go home for Christmas this year. Or, maybe it’s because there are more and more loved ones missing with each year that passes, which makes my heart hurt in a completely broken way.

All I know is my spirit is aching and I can’t pinpoint just one reason why.

Which leads me to believe it’s a spiritual matter. Can you relate? Continue reading

Laura is the co-founder + editor behind SWS. She is currently living on Maui with her husband, where they’re passionate about serving and glorifying Jesus. She loves naps, surfing, adventuring with their border collie, Mowgli, and is an advocate for the fact that #GraceNeverRunsOut.
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4 Questions to Finding your Purpose

I’ve been asking myself some difficult yet crucial questions lately. I’ve been digging in deep, tromping through the trenches, and struggling along the way. Since re-committing my life to Jesus 4 years ago, I’ve beaten myself up, created unrealistic expectations, pursued “dreams” that didn’t work out, and put mountains of pressure on myself in all areas of my life: spiritual, financial, physical, and social. I’ve dealt with anxiety, restlessness, and learning to love myself, which continually proves to be as much of a challenge as it is a vice. Continue reading

Laura is the co-founder + editor behind SWS. She is currently living on Maui with her husband, where they’re passionate about serving and glorifying Jesus. She loves naps, surfing, adventuring with their border collie, Mowgli, and is an advocate for the fact that #GraceNeverRunsOut.
Liked this post? Share it!