The Most Valuable Friendship

friendship

Ever have a conversation with a friend, and they tell you about their reaction to some issue, or something someone said, or something that happened? And their reaction was probably pretty normal, but also void of love and grace? Void of representing the Jesus we claim to know? And you respond with, “Yeah, I would have done the same thing.” And instead of calling sin what it is, we say we get it, we’ve been there, and we move on. Continue reading

Wanting What I Have

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Love does not envy. -1 Corinthians 13:4

My husband walks in the door. Another busy day at work, another set of obligations that kept him later than expected, another lengthy to-do list on the agenda for tomorrow. I sigh when he asks how I am. I passively allude to how soon morning will come and he’ll have to leave again. As he settles in for the evening, I scroll through Instagram and like all the pictures of my friends on romantic get-aways and fancy date nights. All we have is a few hours in the evening, I mutter to myself. Continue reading

The Must of Margin (And 5 Ways to Achieve it)

Confessions of a twenty-something whose schedule is constantly filled to the brim

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I drive up to our apartment, eyes weary and head heavy from being gone between the hours of 7:30 AM – 10 PM. In the silence of my car driving home, I prayed, Lord, I want to be everything to everyone, and I fail every single time. My problem is not that I say yes to things that I don’t want to do; my problem is that I want to do all of the things. And so my days swell to maximum capacity, being pumped fuller and fuller until I am about to burst. Continue reading

The Stages in [insert your name here] ‘s Journey

journey

Call me crazy, but I write my future self letters.  Correction – I used to write myself letters before I had a smart phone. Now I make myself videos. Just like I used to write letters about current goals and dreams and revelations, I now record a video to my future self when I think she may need a reminder or guidance or just a smile. Then I save it in my videos folder until whenever. Not kidding – sorry not sorry. Maybe you get this – anyone else with me already? – or maybe you’re wondering what on earth I am talking about. Continue reading

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

How to Spread Love The Eternal Way

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As an imperfect mother living in a world where social media proclaims perfection, it is easy to be filled with constant worry and even, at times,  jealousy. Questions like “Am I doing well enough as a parent?” “Do my children have enough new toys?” “Do my children have as many gifts for birthdays and Christmas that the social media feeds show?” “Are their clothes ‘in style’?” may arise. The list could go on and on about what this world deems great parents to be. It can really make you feel like you are not good enough, when in truth, these things are only things, and they do not measure our ability to parent our children, and do not truly matter in terms of our children’s salvation.

Dear friend, we, as parents –in order to set an eternal example– must set our eyes on things that are from above and not from this earth. Continue reading

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

Restoration Through Rest

Nature

We are your typical church-going family. If it’s Sunday and we are home, it’s not a conversation of “what should we do today?”  We go to church. It’s not a legalistic thing, or an obligation, or an attempt to try to tip the scales in our favor because we’ve been SO  sinful in the past weeks (that was actually my motivation for going to church for the entirety of my early 20s), no, we go because we love it.

Worship in singing with hundreds of other people who love Jesus is powerful; hearing a message that calls you out of your slumber, calls you up to who you really are, reminds you of the God who is bigger than your life, your sin, your trial; I need to be a part of that every week. Continue reading

Devotions That Last All Day

Bible Devotions

If there’s one part of the Christian life that comes easy to me it is doing my devotions. Even as I type it out I can see the Christian-ese dripping from that phrase – doing devotions. As if highlighting Bible verses, jotting down prayer requests, and reading through the latest Christian best-seller for thirty minutes each morning could possibly summate the act of devoting yourself to anything. But you know what I mean. And whatever you call it – quiet time, spiritual contemplation, meditation – I like it. I love reading, I love sitting still, I love pretty pens and notebooks, I love Jesus. And coffee is usually involved. So far I’ve got this devotion thing down.

And then the day happens. I have to get up from my corner on the couch and I go on with my life. I close the Bible, I snap lids on the pens, I say amen and I go forward. Continue reading

The Confidence Game

confidence

So much of life is a confidence game. Creating, loving, learning and giving our best all require us to show up, stand up, speak up, or look up with boldness and belief in our mission. This is one of the reasons why we’re gathering and inspiring this community – to inspire and challenge each other to grow in confidence, both spiritually, and in our business or creative endeavors. Continue reading

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

The Choice of Trust

choiceoftrust

Part two of a testimony on grace + trust

If you’re just tuning in, catch up on part 1 of the story here.

Hot tears pricked my eyes as I struggled to regain composure. The job that we were so passionately counting on for my husband looked like it may not come through the way we were expecting, and I felt abandoned. I began to speak honestly to God, asking Him why- why this, why now, why did you lead us here, why haven’t you provided yet, asking him how- how will you provide, how will this come about, how will we pay our bills, how will we find a job that is a fit for our new schedule, and asking him when- when will you show us your face again, when will we know, when will we be okay, when will we have answers? Last month I wrote about our testimony over the past 8 months, and the incredible peace that the Lord has provided during this time of unsettled unknowns. And while I meant and still do mean with 100% sincerity every word, I wanted to write a follow up post about the humanness of it all. Continue reading

Hope For a Happy Ending

Happy Ending

I love good stories. Real life stories, imaginary stories, memoirs, children’s fiction, movies, TV shows, a conversation with a friend. Any narrative that relates a person’s journey through obstacles and triumphs, sorrows and joys, until they reach the end, the fulfillment of their destiny. Maybe it doesn’t turn out as suspected, maybe it is exactly as planned, but the common thread that ties all these stories together is the redemption that each character encounters. The hardships seem worth it, the rift is mended, the disappointment is no longer prominent, the ugly is made beautiful. These stories are satisfying to our souls, they lift our spirits upward and remind us of a masterful author, crafting all our stories toward their own delightful end. Continue reading

Why I Owe Our Country an Apology: And You Do, Too

black lives matter

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

Prone to Worship

worship

I desire to be a woman that is prone to worship rather than to wander. The Lord, rich in mercy and grace, lavishes immoveable and unchanging love upon me… Yet, even with His goodness and my individual daily pursuit of worship, the uncanny insight into my heart condition is evidence that our desires often go unmet. Continue reading

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.

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

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

Living with Longing

Living with longing

You know that feeling that you got as a child when Christmas was over? When you got under the covers Christmas night and lay still in the dark silence that came with the end of another celebration? It was a hard feeling to pinpoint, especially at age ten. But the taste of it still lingers in my mouth. The taste of unsettled hunger and a gnawing tension in my stomach. That couldn’t be all there was, all that I had been anticipating for months… could it? I wanted more. Not more presents. Not more sugar cookies. Not more decorations. I didn’t know what I wanted. I just knew that I wanted.

That twinge of unmet desire continues with us as we grow from children to adults. No matter what we get in this lifetime – the love, the money, the experiences, the achievements – there seems to be just a little more that we didn’t get. Just a little something that we wish we had. Just a little further until we reach what we’re truly after.

Continue reading

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

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

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

How to Have a Healthy Relationship with Social Media

Social Media

I have an addictive personality by nature. If I’m not careful, I find myself fueling addictions without remorse. Binge eat on that candy- why not? Watch 4 episodes of Scandal in a row? Sure! Stay up until 3 AM to finish a novel? I’ll worry about getting sleep tomorrow. A piece of me feels that this is just part of the passionate side of me- I find something that I love (whether it be a food, a sermon, a book, a song, an artist, an Instagram account- you name it), and I will excitedly tell every person I know before the night is over. But part of me believes that our brains are wired to enjoy habit, and that we are all creatures easily able to fall into addiction. To me, addiction is defined by anything that we struggle keeping in moderation. Continue reading

Sacred Dailiness

Sacred DailinessMost of my life feels fairly ordinary. I wake up in the morning, pour myself a cup of coffee with a little cream, scramble some eggs, brush my teeth, and face another day that looks similar to the ones that came before it. Part time nannying, assisting my husband at the school, house keeping, it all becomes routine after a while. Continue reading

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

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