Why I Choose A Word Of The Year & Why You May Want To

There's not one specific New Year's resolution' I can point to and say ' I did that.' For the majority of us, New Year's resolutions fall to the wayside by mid-Febrauary. That's how it works (for everyone!).
We make New Year's Eve resolutions on a whim, openly hold ourselves accountable to every person we know and then? And then, those resolutions we made on a whim fly out the window.
Friends, these resolutions had no root in your life and no chance of being fruitful!

But if we take a 360 view of the year behind & ahead and choose an overarching goal, our hearts & heads feel more capable to grasp that big-picture notion and put it into action. One word. Just one. A small but mighty goal/emotion/mission that will fill the year to come with a life rich in what matters most.
Over the last few years I've put into practice choosing a 'word of the year' instead of 'resolutions.' And now, as we sit on the cusp of 2015, I glance down at the words that covered our family for the last two years: inspired, intentional, and 2015's word of the year TBA January 1.
The seed sown with each word of the year takes me back to my closest family, friends, trials, teachings & hopes. I can see how God used those words, the time spent in prayer choosing those words, and spun their goodness into our years.
From month to month days are still sticky, some goals (resolutions) are put on the sideline, but our overarching word of the year keeps me grounded, coming back to what matters most for me and my family.
Take some time to think through your 2014. What worked? What didn't work? What do you want to have lived when you sit in this seat December of 2015? Where is God calling you? Dig deep and dream big!

Never is a woman so fulfilled as when she chooses to underwhelm her schedule so she can let God overwhelm her soul. -Lysa TerKeurst

Unrush yourself, friend. Let Him overwhelm your soul, encourage yourself to underwhelm your schedule and focus in on what matters most. 

Year in Review. Be Honest. Dig Deep. Dream Big.

As we come down from the Holiday high, our hearts fizzle from the anticipation of Christmas Day. But friends, this is my favorite part of it ALL! The anticipation of Christmas is special, but it doesn't stop there, in fact it's just the beginning. 
We pray and gather and silence ourselves in the weeks before the celebration of Christmas and that's great, but I think it's the potential filled in the days immediately following that we're missing out on!  
He is here! Now what? Take down Christmas decorations and move on? No!
It's time to seek Him, friends. 
Don't lead yourself into the new year without first preparing yourself for the days ahead. Seek Him. Ask for clarity on what you've learned in the last year. Ask for guidance as you charge into the new year. Praise. Repentance. Prayer. However you do it, just do it. 
It's not about being the perfect you. It's about accepting that some things worked this year, some things didn't and that's all okay because His promises are still true
I'm a fan of the big-picture look at a year and thought I'd share a free Year in Review worksheet with y'all today!
What didn't work? What did work? What did you learn? Top three takeaways? 
Friends, I want this to be your best year yet. I want you to see the goodness in your days and the Hope He provides. Click the image below to get the printable version of the Year in Review worksheet.
A few friendly guidelines for filling out your worksheet:
  • Don't overthink it! You can print it multiple times. Write out whatever is on your heart!
  • There are no wrong answers. 
  • It's a fresh year, a fresh start. Be honest. Dig deep. Dream big. 
Here's a snippet of what my worksheet lists look like:
What didn't work:
  • social media distractions
  • playing into the comparison game
  • missing days in His Word
  • procrastination
What did work:
  • putting Jesus at the center
  • putting fear on the sideline
  • making & executing smaller, more attainable goals
  • stepping out of comfort zones
  • building community
What I learned:
  • I need set hours each day to disconnect from my phone and social media.
  • I will never be someone else. My story is mine and it is worthy. 
  • Open the Bible every day.
Top Three Takeaways
  • It's all for His glory. 
  • He is always good. 
  • Joy doesn't just happen for me. And? It's okay to need to take intentional steps to cultivate joy.

How Are You Today?

It's the day after Christmas. My heart is a bustle, my house a tornado zone.
Friends, it has been a busier Holiday than expected. You too?
Emotions are overflowing as we slide out of the Christmas season. On one hand, I'm an exhausted, over-worked mama. On the other hand, I rejoice in His coming and know I am made full in Him. I'm hopeful for what's to come & grateful for the days that filled this year. 
At times I feel the flood of life, but am constantly clinging to my Anchor. A fire has been set in my soul this year and I'm prepared to fan that flame through continued surrender. 

More of Him, less of me. That's what I keep coming back to. 
I want to live this life for Him, not me. I want to serve where He calls me. I want to love those who fill my community. I want to love myself the way He loves me. 

“For from His fullness we have all received grace upon grace. ”
— John 1:16
How are you today? Share with us in the comments. We'd love to encourage you in your week.

The flame lit in my heart this year has me set to cultivate an intentional life of joy, a life focused on building His Kingdom, seeking His heart. Join me here in the coming year as we wade through the thick of it together.
In the coming weeks, we'll dive into the new year with open hearts, vision casting, tips to cultivate a life of joy, tools to simplify, and our hope in growing in community rather than comparison. You can find the blog here on our site or follow our feed through Bloglovin'
Friends, from my little family to yours, Merry Christmas. I hope you were surrounded by loved ones making memories of a life rich in love and grace. 

Goal Setting & December Goals

I began the year with an intentional goal setting spree. This wasn't just a 'let's choose some resolutions to share on Facebook' goal. This was digging deep, asking why, what didn't work, what fires me up & where do I see the end of my days. Whoosh! Talk about a game-changer, friends!
I was determined to cultivate joy in 2014, and knew it was going to take sincere effort on my part.  

Through breaking down my goals into smaller attainable steps, I've made what matters most happen this year. We're meant to live life on purpose, and if we're ever going to get to the good stuff it's going to take a little planning :)
Each month I'll be sharing my monthly goals on the blog. This is an opportunity to gain insight on setting attainable action steps & necessary white space.  AND, for us to hold one another accountable in making those big dreams happen.
Intentional time with goal setting has been huge in my mission to cultivate joy.  Your dreams don't have to be scary. Creating margin is absolutely attainable. Let's be brave together, friends.

December Goals:

  • Host a no-fuss Christmas for our family
  • Send Christmas cards to loved ones
  • Clear some clutter
  • Be present in community
  • Love on my people
  • Read along with She Reads Truth Advent plan
  • Disconnect from my phone for 2 hours every day

Coffee Date: Weekly Truth To Fill Your Cup

'Joyful parenting' seems like an oxymoron many days.
In the trenches of parenting, no matter the season, there are moments of deep struggle. There are moments you hide in your closet with the last of the Halloween candy wondering why God even gifted you with these children. Are you even capable? How did He think you were equipped for this job?
Truth time, friend. You are a good mom. In fact, you are a great mom. And He has chosen you for this holy work, knowing full-well you are capable in Him. 

“He tends to His flock like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young.”
— Isaiah 40:11
Mama friends, He knows this is not an easy job and as such He gently leads those that are with young. He sees us. He knows us. And He wants joy for us in this holy job of parenting. Let's look to Him this week when we find ourselves deep in the realities of parenting. Let's allow His grace to be our portion as He guides us. 

A sweet friend shared these prayers from Ann Voskamp with me last week and I just knew they needed to be passed on to you. 
10 Grace Prayers for Joyful Parenting
1. Just for today, I will ask for His grace to make our home a house of prayer. I will pray at set times. And I will invite our children to come move into an interior space that lives with God.
2. Just for today, I will ask for His grace to transfigure all things into beauty. He's working to redeem all things, in His time, into the image of His Son.
3. Just for today, I will ask for His grace to see that life is not an emergency. Emergencies are sudden, unexpected events— and is anything under the sun unexpected to God? I can slow and I can trust.
4. Just for today, I will ask for His grace, that when stress mounts, I'll dismount it with gratitude. My stress coping mechanism will be verbal intervention with verbal thanks. It's impossible to simultaneously feel stress and gratitude at the same time and I choose to give thanks at all times. Fight feeling with feeling!
5. Just for today, I will ask for His grace to speak words that are only strong words, words that make these children feel strong. Grace words. Grace is the only non-toxic air.
6. Just for today, I will ask for His grace to be consistently consistent. I will create safe rhythms that our children can find security in. I will create daily ceremonies because everyday we are CELEBRATING the gift of now!
7. Just for today, I will ask for His grace, the moment when I am most repelled by a child’s behavior, that is my sign to draw the very closest to that child.
8. Just for today, I will ask for His grace to hug each of my children as many times as I serve them meals — because children’s hearts feed on touch. I’ll look for as many opportunities to touch my children today as possible — the taller they are, the more so.
9. Just for today, I will ask for His grace to make my priorities all Things Unseen.
10. Just for today, I will ask for His grace to laugh! And I will let the little children laugh! I will create a culture of JOY!
 Find her full post here

Coffee Date: Weekly Truth To Fill Your Cup

November is an interesting time of year. We're somewhere on the corner of respecting "the Turkey" and dancing around decking the halls. I'm a Christmas lover. It's always been go big or go home around here at Christmas, but there's something about the thanks part of Thanksgiving that's really gotten ahold of me the last few years. 
If we were sitting down for coffee today, I'd probably pour out a whole lot of wild tales about my pre-schooler's awful behavior lately but despite the hurdles we're facing I'm overflowing with gratitude.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
— 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (ESV)
It's tough to cultivate balance in any season. To have the hustle of life bustling around you while also being still in front of the Lord with an open heart. Friends, we are imperfect, empty vessels fit to be filled with a perfect God. To have a consistent dialogue with God, I'm talking prayer, with God gives us that opportunity to be filled with Him. It allows us to tap into the fruits of the Spirit He's already equipped us with. 

When we still ourselves in these seasons of busyness and focus in on Christ, we're steadying ourselves in a place to live out this Truth. Joy, consistent prayer and thanks will flow from us when we're intentional about our time in prayer. 
“I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time- waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God- it changes me.”
— C.S. Lewis
Join me this week as we meditate on this piece of scripture. Let's be convicted to rejoice always, pray without ceasing and to give thanks in all circumstances. Let's not just glance over this Truth, let's lay it on our heart by memory as we walk into our daily routines this week.

Outlets Of Encouragement

The saying, comparison is the thief of joy, rings so true these days. As I look around to the other women, creatives, mothers, boss ladies, etc., it’s far too easy to fall into the trap of comparison. 

I’ve been immersed in social media since journalism school. This was well before it had even been coined "social media." Blogging was just getting feet, Twitter had all of 300 members comprising of major news outlets & journalism students, and Pinterest was a distant discovery. 

In the seven years since journalism school, I’ve made a conscious decision to remain part of the social media world. But better yet, I’ve decided to make my online life mean something. That is, if I’m going to be  here in this generation of social media then I’m going to utilize it to feed my spirit not drain it.

Let’s put comparison on the sidelines and start filling up on goodness as we scroll through our social media feeds. In the last year, I’ve weeded through every last social media outlet to intentionally follow people who scatter encouragement & joy and unfollow those who don’t. 

Here are six resources to help you cultivate intentional, joy-filled social media feeds. If we're filling our white space with social media, let's be intentional about it. 

Friends, if you aren't familiar with this community I'd make some time to do that after reading this post. They host an annual conference (I'd love to attend), run a blog, online community groups and are an overall awesome ministry. I'm pointing you specifically to their new Podcast series though. Y'all, it was love at first episode. There are now TEN different podcast episodes each one filling for your spirit.

Thrive Moms Blog & Newsletter  
This group of women are such an encouragement in motherhood. Their Instagram feed is one of my favorite, but I think their greatest little gem is their newsletter. Motherhood is no easy season, and while it's a blessing it really does take a village!  
(in)courage blog and Bloom book club 
This site is relatively new to me, but it's hard not to be drawn to this community. With an active blog drenched in the Good News and a book club currently reading through Annie F. Downs' Let's All Be Brave, there's a lot to get into. 
Jess Connolly & Naptime Diaries Blog & Newsletter 
Jess Connolly has such a beautiful heart for encouraging women in their walk with Christ. Her Thursday newsletters are something I look forward to, and each and every week I savor every last word of that email.
This ministry has a special place in my heart and daily life. A group of women who originally came together through a hashtag on social media has grown into so much more. At the heart of it though, She Reads Truth is simply a place for women to be in the Word together daily. It's changed my life and relationship with the Bible. Their website offers free daily readings and this year they've launched an app for iPhone and Android users!

The Well Studio
A space specifically created for the faithful entrepreneur. YAY! Their blog and shop focus on living life well, not perfectly (but well) with a whole lot of grace. I could go on about the necessity of community in growing a company, but if you're doing that then you probably already know it's vital. 

What are your go-to outlets for encouragement online?

Coffee Date: Weekly Truth To Fill Your Cup

We've been deep in the trenches of stressful work days, family travel and "threenager" behavior that would tire any parent.
Hand out sincere compliments often, and receive them with grace. When the general atmosphere of our days are trying, it's tough to pour out gracious words much less sincere words of gratitude.
But, friends, gratitude changes everything. 
Speaking a few words of sincere kindness to your co-worker, your spouse, even yourself can be just what's needed to flip the script on your day. 
“Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”
— Proverbs 16:24
Jesus always spoke from a place for love and compassion, and as such we should go out and do the same. Let's go into our communities with gracious words this week. Each person we interact with is juggling more than we know, let's choose to be a reflection of light in their day.
When gracious words pour from our lips, we're giving others the chance to see the light of the Lord and take one more step in bringing God all the glory.

Coffee Date: Weekly Truth To Fill Your Cup

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10
Most days it's hard to wrap my mind around the idea that God knows me much less that He prepared good works for me in advance. Of all the people. Of all His children. Of all the things He could know and love, He chooses me. He chooses us.
He has set us apart, chosen us as His holy people. (1 Peter 2:9)

Let's build on His promise of salvation by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8). By walking in this promise, good works will spring from our actions not in seeking His approval but in authentically building His Kingdom and bringing glory to His name. 
When we remain in a static place of comfort, our lives become just that - static. It's only when we break down our walls of insecurity & fear that we allow the Spirit to lead us closer to Christ. It's when we step outside of our comfort zones that we're able to act bravely in doing the work the Lord prepared for us to do.
“But be doers of the word not just hearers only, deceiving yourself. ”
— James 1:22
God doesn’t call the equipped; He equips those who He calls. Friends, He has prepared our good works in advance! His plan is good; it is sovereign. 
Let's break down our walls and seek the Lord outside our comfort zone.
That's where He's calling us.
That's where we'll bloom, friends.

Celebrating My 27th.

Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the Fall. (F. Scott Fitzgerald)
The first cool breeze filled our home this weekend signaling the coming of many things. Without fail, the winds shift and the atmosphere of our everyday changes in the first week of October. The first cool mornings of Fall mean my birthday is on the horizon. For me, life truly starts all over again when it gets crisp in the Fall. 
Today, I celebrate my 27th birthday. 

In the last 365 days, I have stepped back, taken note and truly assessed how I want my life story to read. By intentionally creating margin in my schedule (and some weeks a lack of margin), I'm coasting into a beautiful new season in my story. 
I set out to take intentional leaps out of my comfort zone this year, and that's just what I've done. Bit by bit. Day by day. Leap after leap. I sat down yesterday with a full heart as I look to the potential this year holds.

In the same way, let your line shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
— Matthew 5:16
My husband knocked it out of the park with my birthday gift. Lara Casey's Make It Happen print. Gracious, I'm thankful for that woman's heart. The simple encouragement to make it happen has been what I needed this year. That "it" will be different for each of us. In fact, for each of us "it" may even change from season to season. What remains constant, though, is God and His grace.
God is moving in my life. He's presenting blessing after blessing - the kind that send you to your knees. He's showing up, even in my failures and mess, and He's spurring me to live boldly and humbly in Him.

At the end of the day, my goal is Jesus.  
More Him, less me. 
That's what I want as I celebrate my 27th.

Coffee Date: Weekly Truth To Fill Your Cup

I'm excited to share the first in this weekly series! Meet me here each Wednesday for a coffee date. Nothing formal, just friends filling our cup with a weekly scripture verse.
I'll share an iPhone lock screen free to download so that we can carry this scripture with us throughout the week. I've found I need gentle reminders of Christ's love and grace not just daily but hourly, perhaps the same is true for you too? Feel free to use this download as many times as you'd like and share with others. 

Paul shares one of my favorite God-breathed truths in this week's verse. It's here that we are given the Good News our God has saved us not by our good works or merit but by grace through faith.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.”
— Ephesians 2:8
This is a point where Paul has laid it out on the table. We are sinners dead in our trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1). But God. God, and his great love, covers us. Salvation found by grace through faith in what Jesus accomplished on the cross. Our salvation doesn't depend on us, but on our God who is mighty to save. What a beautiful gift from our Redeemer.
By trusting in this promise, good works will spring from our actions not in seeking His approval but in authentically building His Kingdom and bringing glory to His name. 
Take this Truth with you as we weave in and out of the traffic of life's everyday chaos this week. Let this Truth take root in your heart and allow you to shine into your homes & communities as an active light for His glory.

Cultivate Joy

Happiness is pursued by women & men, teens & adults, introverts & extroverts alike. Insecurities such as self-doubt and comparison are planted in our minds, and over the years we begin to base our happiness on external circumstances when in fact the external pursuit will never fully satisfy.
We're in a habitual chase of happiness, but in my experience this has been a fruitless endeavor. To chase, by definition, is an earnest or frenzied seeking after something desired (Merriam-Webster). And as such, the chase of happiness will create in your life a never-ending marathon.
Thankfully, though, in a slight transfer of focus our spirits can find satisfaction in cultivating joy. To cultivate, in contrast, is an improvement by labor, care or study (Merriam-Webster). Friends, what a beautiful difference this creates in how we can choose to live out our days.

In cultivating joy, we shift our chase of happiness from an outside-in pursuit to an inside-out contentment (this would be joy) which the Lord calls us to. If we sow our seed in good soil we'll see the Good News begin to take root in our life (Mark 4:20). This, friends, is where we will find our portion. This is where we cultivate our joy.
Life presents a whole lot of white noise. During a five-minute phone conference you may receive 10 new emails, acquire five new items on your to-do list, a gaggle of new Instagram photos in your feed, oh and you're preschooler has dropped his mac&cheese on the floor to which the dogs are now feasting. White noise of our generation abounds producing a need for us to be intentional about cultivating joy in things that really matter. 
We should approach our cultivation of joy much like we would a garden. Once planted in good soil, you'll require tending like a plant requires water, sunshine and weeding. Break up your fallow ground for it is time to seek the Lord, that He may come and rain righteousness upon you (Hosea 10:12). 

Cultivating joy requires daily study and care to root our hearts in the beauty & blessings of life's everyday moments.

In The Thick Of It & Exciting Changes

Friends! Hi. Hello. How's life for you?!

It seems, per my Insta account, that everyone has welcomed Fall. The weather here in South Carolina, though, is not so convincing - yet. For now, I'll continue to pull myself out of this summer and prepare mentally for all things football, pumpkin and, well, family.

My sweet blog sat a bit quiet these last few months, but that's mainly due to the exciting things we've been cooking up behind the scenes! Oh, the joyful announcements we have in store, y'all!

I leaped into this year with a sense of intention laying heavy on my heart. I knew this year was set for action in making what matters most happen. After much prayer, we've landed in a far different place than I'd expected January 1.

Where you expect to go, isn't always where you land, and oh my stars what a great blessing that can be!

In May, I jumped headfirst into the beginning stages of launching a creative company featuring print designs. Digging deep to the core of our company poured out a mission for cultivating joy in the hearts and homes of this community.

As we come out of our Summer hibernation, we're going to hit the ground running with BIG announcements:

As of THIS Friday, I'll be switching some of my social media accounts over to a new name - my new creative company shop name! HOORAY!! 

To top off that exciting announcement, NEXT MONDAY, September 15, I'll be launching a new website and blog. 

Any blogger knows that these transitions are scary, and no I don't intend to abandon this space, BUT I do hope you'll join me over at our new site, shop and blog. It's going to be an intentional space to stir the spirit into actively cultivating joy and making what matters most happen.

Fall is a season of fresh starts and as I sit in my new home office, our shop products strewn around me, I can't seem to shake the bliss. Taking this leap so far from my comfort zone has been such a joy, and I hope you'll see the heart we've put into and have backing this company.

Come back on Friday when our new social media name becomes official and be the first to get a sneak peek of our new website!

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Worthiness & A Testimony

It’s in the belly laughs of my child as the Genie bursts from his bottle full of pizazz and satire that I'm able to pinpoint my reason for choosing joy every day. Laughter shared through the generations thanks to a movie is such a sweet realization in the seemingly small, mundane moments. 

I couldn’t help but choose Aladdin for movie night with Jackson this week. In the wake of Robin Williams’ passing, we’ve shifted quickly from sadness of this great loss to the stigmas surrounding depression. 

It seems, apparently, that people are taking strong stances on the topic and I guess this is our chance to be open about depression. This is our time to spring from the platform which says it supports depression and mental illness and dive into physical action of walking with those living with the disease. 

It’s our time not to judge, but to say, “come, share, speak to me and I will walk with you.”

My psychiatrist once told me this is simply the way I’m wired, this is my chemical imbalance and how I want to manage it is up to me. The dark cloud of depression ruled me in a severe manner for the better part of my early adult life. And in looking back, there were likely many sunny days, but all I can recall is the darkness. For where my mind and heart were concerned, there was no light.  

What took me too long to realize is that depression is not a mind over matter disease, depression is a heart over mind disease. Let me say that again, this is a heart over mind disease. It's okay that we are chemically imbalanced; there is no shame in sickness. Jesus spent much of his life embracing the sick, healing those who reached out their hands and lifting those who were shamed in self-doubt. 

Why then should we continue to walk in this darkness? 

Each depression diagnosis is different. Each carries its own burdens. Each carries its own demons and darkness. And, in turn, each diagnosis needs its own journey of treatment. You cannot begin treating your disease until you recognize it, though. 

My husband has been my rock through severe depression. He has stood aside concerned but constant. He's let me cry and have my moments. He's also held me up. He's listened when I made no sense. He's been silent when I just needed a presence of support. 

It will not be easy, but saying the words "I'm depressed, something is off," will be freeing and, more so, it'll be that leap towards healing. The longer we hold onto the darkness enveloping our days, the further we get from the light. 

Take yourself out of that little box of self-doubt, self-pity and grave darkness and know that God is your hiding place. He will be your shield; dress yourself in His armor. 

This is where joy lies.

This is where the healing lies. 

This is where life begins. 

It's not all praise hands and puffy hearts every day. This is unfortunately true. In fact, some days, it's bringing yourself broken and weary to your Redeemer in need of a place to rest. "There’s no stigma in saying you’re sick because there’s a wounded Healer who uses nails to buy freedom and crosses to resurrect hope and medicine to make miracles."Ann Voskamp

This is the Good News. 

Friends, wherever you find yourself today, know you are worthy. Know the Lord is fighting for you in those dark places. We need to speak out and speak up. We need to join together to walk with those suffering and acknowledge the depths of depression. 

If you are struggling with depression, I encourage you to tell someone -your significant other, a friend,  pastor. I'm praying for you in this season and those to come. There is hope.

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The Mid-Year Pick-Me-Up

Without fail, June and July roll around and cause me to take a good look back at the first half of the year. We move into the new year with such a high from the Holidays that usually by the time you're six months into the year that buzz has worn off, that sparkly list of resolutions is a bit hazy and you're spirit is tired.

You've finished out the school year, you've celebrated through a good portion of Summer and the impending new school year is evident thanks to every aisle at Target. Hello weary spirit, there's no better time for a pick-me-up than now!

As a little happiness test, I jumped back to my Word of the Year Post to bring me back the core of my mission for 2014. What I found in that post, aside from several typos, was a list of goals I've met, exceeded and continue to humbly work towards.

For reference, here's my 2014 Big Picture Outlook from January:

I want a happier house. More laughter, less worry. I want to be intentional with parenting, marriage, work, friendships & family and stepping out of comfort zones. I want credit card debt free in 2014, and working down student loans. Top of my list, I want us to be intentional about seeking Christ as a family.
I went searching for this post because my spirit was thirsty. Oh my, how quickly I realized how much my cup runneth over! We have worked and prayed and seen His grace this year and this list surely reminds me to be humble.

Let's unpack this list real quick.

I want a happier house. More laughter, less worry. Raising up a three year old is surely different than age two, but has presented an entirely new level of love in our house. The belly laughs shared this weekend while often shared between moments of discipline are the best source of pure joy.

I want to be intentional with parenting, marriage, work, friendships & family and stepping out of comfort zones.  Parenting - check. We're working on our team work every day. That seems to be key for us. Marriage - check. This Saturday is in fact our six year marriage anniversary and I'd say we're sliding in on a really great note (weird mixture of metaphors, but just track with me). Friendships & family - many realizations on this front and an in progress/learning-a-new-phase-of-adulthood-status. Stepping out of comfort zones - just about the best and most encouraging item on this list! We've spent the good part of the last three months jumping out of our comfort zone and it's been such a beautiful result for our family.

I want credit card debt free in 2014, and working down student loans. As of last week we are credit card debt free. ALL OF THE PRAISE HANDS!!! Vet bills and a bad luck run with our cars caused some financial turmoil in 2012-2013, and we were determined to get it past us this year. We've pinched pennies and lived a very, very tight lifestyle, but it has been so worth it to get to this moment. Though, all the glory for this milestone goes to Him and the blessings we've seen this year.

Top of my list, I want us to be intentional about seeking Christ as a family. Oh yes, the very best most gracious of the goals for last. We had been missing something so key to each aspect of life listed above: a community focused in the Gospel. For the first time in years, we have been regularly attending a church. Not just any church, a church that is Gospel centered and fueling a renewed joy in Church for both myself and Brandon. The advances in each of our hearts to be rooted in Christ individually as well as a family, are a clear indication of His sovereign hand and perfect timing.

In reflecting on my goals set out in January, I was a bit taken aback at how far we'd come already. My exhausted self was having a hard time focusing in on all of the progress made during the last seven months. I set out to be intentional and though it has been daunting at times, the payback for digging sincerely into my life and mission for our family has my heart rejoicing with praise.

Jump back, spend ten minutes reflecting on your resolutions and see how it will mold your heart for the closing months of the year and be grateful for where you've come in these seven months!

Happy day, friends!

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30 is not the new 20. Hear me out.

30 is not the new 20, she said, quickly catching my attention. Hardly, I thought. 30 is most definitely the new 20. This girl was obviously misinformed. Then she said again - 30 is not the new 20

At this point, my near 27-year-old self was just about to jump out of my seat. She couldn't be right? Right?! I mean, I can't pin point the exact date, but I'm fairly certain that 30 has been the new 20 for several years. 

She had my attention. 

Meg Jay, clinical psychologist, is preaching otherwise about our theory on good ole 30-year-olds, and I was having an internal clash of emotions just on the title of her TED talk. But while viewing this 14-minute video, it clicked - she's right! You must watch this, whether you're a 20 something or 30 something. Hear me - and Meg - out on this. 

Meg informs us that claiming your 20's is one of the simplest yet most transformative things you can do for your work, love for your overall happiness. To top it off she rattles off research to back this up. 

The theory of 30 is the new 20 allows us to justify all of our "I'll do that tomorrow," "When we have more money," "I'm just looking for Mr. Right Now," "Babies can wait," even, "Careers can wait." This idea that because 30 is the new 20 we can brush off the richness of responsibility that comes along with this decade, or any decade, of our lives is a troublesome message we feed ourselves. And really, we're only creating static within our own lives by not living on purpose!

Yes, things happen later in life - babies, work, marriage, but why let these days go fleeting by without true purpose? As Meg says this is our developmental sweet spot! Y'all, let's dig into this sweet spot!

Our timeline as modern women has expanded, there's no doubt. The thing of it is, no matter what age you are, if you're not living with intention, mission and love you're trivializing the purpose He's provided in your story.

Tips to Make the Most of Your Years (20-something or not):

Get identity capital: Do something that adds value to who you are, and is an investment to who you want to be. 

Take advantage of your weak ties: As Meg says, half of new jobs are not posted. You're not going to find that job online, not even in the 21st century. It's still about getting yourself out there with face-to-face networking. 

The time to start picking your family is now: This pertains to your partner, your choice of friends and loved ones. You should be as intentional with love as you are with work. Amen.

30 is not the new 20.
Claim your adulthood, get some identity capital, use your weak ties, pick your family.  
Don't be defined by what you didn't know or didn't do, you're deciding your life right now.
-Meg Jay

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