Just Be Kind

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We pray every day on the way to school. The boys share prayer requests and I pray. As he has gotten older, the youngest developed quite the long list of prayer requests he likes to share. This year, he added this prayer to his daily requests:

“That the boys and I would be good friends to others.”

I’m feeling the weight of the world this week with all the negativity and meanness floating around amongst adults, but when he shares that hope and prayer in his sweet four-year-old voice, I can’t help but feel lighter.

To be clear, I don’t think we have to be friends with everyone, but in his heart and mine is this plea to all of humanity:

JUST BE KIND.

That’s all I want. Disagree, stand up for your beliefs, defend your rights, but I beg you to do it in a civil manner and treat one another with kindness.

Just be kind. We can do this, friends.

Want to spread the message of kindness with me? The “Be Series” from Cents of Style is just the way to do it and it is all on sale today!

be-kind

I shared my “Be Brave” tee and story before, but I think it’s time to add this “Be Kind” sweatshirt to my closet! Yep – there are sweatshirts now and they are fabulous!

be-sweatshirts

The whole “Be Series” is 50% off this weekend with the code BESERIES1 at checkout! This includes tees, sweatshirts, bracelets, and brand new designs! I’m grabbing a sweatshirt for less than $20 and shipping is always free!

Be kind. Be the good. Take some time to be still this weekend. And spread the word of the message you love most by grabbing it on sale and wearing it for all to see! Remember – this weekend only, use the code BESERIES1 for 50% off and free shipping!

Which “BE” message is your favorite and why?

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Life Is Tough, But So Are You

This post contains affiliate links. I received the tee to review for this post. All opinions are 100% my own.

I have a problem when life sends tough stuff my way. I tend to focus on the tough stuff and not on the way through it. I wallow. I worry. I complain. Life is tough, and I don’t like it.

I’m really thankful God is growing me in this area and doesn’t allow me to stay in that place for long. Life IS tough, but so am I. I didn’t always think this way. Strong and tough were not labels I would have always claimed. That has changed over the past fifteen years because I’ve been through moments that required strength I didn’t even know I had. Rather than focus on the fear, worry, or discouragement I felt in those tough moments, I choose to focus on the toughness inside of me that carried me through and brought me out a better person on the other side.

What are those tough moments in your life that uncovered your strength?

For me, three particular times of my life come to mind. These are all very positive events in my life, but they each required (or still require) all the toughness I could pull together.

  • Childbirth
  • Motherhood
  • Running a marathon

Childbirth and running a marathon tested my body beyond what I ever imagined, but they also maxed out my mental toughness. I have so much joy associated with the memories of giving birth to our boys and crossing that marathon finish line, but I also knew that I could do just about anything if I could make it through those exhausting feats.

Motherhood is a whole different kind of tough and this is where I needed (and still need) the biggest mental adjustment. It is also where I need the strength of God inside me most. Raising children is no joke, people, but it is some of the most important work I will do. My children will make mistakes, butt heads with me, and need the same lessons taught to them many times. We’re all sinners and life together is messy. When it gets tough, I need to not feel defeated or discouraged, but rather repeat to myself: “This is tough, but so are you.”

Now I have the shirt to remind me:

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When I don’t have the toughness I need, I know God is there to strengthen me and to surround me with family and friends that will hold me up and call out that strength. We need to be those people for each other.

I know so many people going through hard things – illnesses, divorce, natural disasters, job loss, etc. I wish I could give each of you a great big hug, pray with you, then remind you that you are just as tough as those circumstances. Let’s be done with despair and defeat and worry. I’m ready to embrace my toughness with a smile.

life-is-tough-full-outfit

The new “Life Is…” t-shirt line from Cents of Style captures all of life perfectly. Life is tough, but it is also beautiful, sweet, grand, and an adventure. However you see life or WANT to see life, one of shirts will speak to you!

life-is-shirts

The “Life Is” collection launches today with a fabulous sale! Pick your favorite shirt and use the code LIFEIS1 at checkout to get it for just $15.95 with free shipping! That is a huge steal for these gorgeous, high quality tees.

life-is-shirts-long

How do you see life? How do you want to embrace this life? Grab a shirt today to claim that vision!

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A “Be Brave” Update & Sale!

I received the featured product to review from Cents of Style. All opinions are 100% my own. This post contains affiliate links.

It’s been two months since I first wrote these words…

I feel just about everything except brave today.

I felt brave seven months ago when I decided I would train for my first marathon the following spring.

I felt brave when I filled out my registration for the Fargo Marathon and sent it in.

I felt brave as I started my marathon training plan in February with my eyes set on conquering my next running goal.

I even felt brave as I finished my 20-miler a month ago, the longest run I would do during my marathon training.

Today, the day before my first marathon, those brave feelings escape me, so I’m writing this now to remind myself of the brave moments that led me to this one.

I’m also writing this to remember that I am not brave on my own. I am brave because my God looks at me and says, “You can be brave because I am with You.”…

Be Brave 1

I’m wearing my Be Brave shirt from Cents of Style today as we drive north to Fargo for my first marathon. It is just the encouragement I need running through my head as the time to run (a REALLY long way) draws closer. Be brave – embrace it with me (and maybe pray for an extra does of it for me?!) today!

Just a few days later, I completed my first marathon and it was incredible. You can read all about the race here, but you should know that running those 26.2 miles made me feel like I could do just about anything. Two months later and I’m still feeling that bravery. I even signed up for my second marathon!

Do you need a reminder to be brave? Or be still? Or be kind or bold or true?

Be Series tees

The whole line of “Be Series” tees from Cents of Style is on sale today only for just $15.95 each + free shipping with the code BRAVE1 at checkout!

Pick your word and grab your tee during this great sale – I know you will be inspired wearing your reminder!

Which of these words do you want to BE?

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To the Person Who Wants to Be Great “Someday”

This post was sponsored by Nature Valley as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central.

When I ran my first marathon in May, I was overwhelmed by the support, encouragement, and congratulations I received in the days leading up to and following the big day. Our world really can be full of kindness and joy and I felt every bit of it!

Run Happy

Amongst the congratulations, I also heard many people say, “You’re making me want to run a marathon someday!” These statements made me excited because I would love for more people to find a love for running and accomplish a huge goal like running a marathon or race of any distance. But I couldn’t ignore the “someday” part of their comments.

Here’s the deal: when we see people doing great things – writing a book, running a race, going on a grand adventure – we think these things are out of our reach at the moment. Since we can’t do them right now, we tuck these things away in our “someday” file, never sharing them with someone else. Most of the time, our “someday” dreams of greatness never happen.

How do we fix this? How do we move past “someday” and towards being great right here, right now?

First of all, I needed someone to tell me that I didn’t have to wait to pursue my dream. A marathon slowly worked its way on to my bucket list, but making it a reality seemed so far off until my husband said, “I know you can do this.” I didn’t full believe in myself, but he spoke those words and I suddenly couldn’t wait to prove him right.

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There is power in our words. You never know when your encouragement, like my husband’s, will be the catalyst to someone else doing something amazing. Be the one to encourage someone else to pursue their dreams and surround yourself with people who will do the same for you!

Secondly, my idea of “greatness” needed to change. Being great doesn’t magically happen in an instant. The reason “someday” often stays “someday” is because we don’t see the greatness in getting started on our dreams. I would have never been able to run a marathon unless I took that first step on the first day of the Couch to 5K program four years earlier. That first run/walk didn’t feel so great, but when I look back, it really was. Committing to a program, getting started, and putting in the work IS being great.

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For those who dream of running a marathon, I say, “Get out there and run!” 1 mile, 3 miles, 10 miles – every mile is another closer to your dream. The first step is just as great and important as achieving the dream and the latter wouldn’t happen without the former!

This is what I want you to know: you don’t have to wait to be great. You can be great out there today. Your great will definitely look different than someone else’s, but it is just as great. Go get it.

When you do take that first step of greatness, please tell me, because I want to cheer you on!

General Mills Nature Valley® and Facebook are partnering together to give you the opportunity to speak words of encouragement and support to that important person in your life looking to tackle a huge challenge or chase a dream. Nature Valley focuses on giving you the energy to do great things and now they want you to pass on those good vibes! It’s super easy – just visit their Facebook page to find our how to send a positive, encouraging video to your loved one! If you need some extra inspiration, check out this awesome video from Nature Valley!

You can also get involved in this movement by sharing supportive messages on social media with the hashtag #BeGreatOutThere. Wouldn’t it be awesome to see our timelines and feeds filled with words of encouragement?

Nature Valley also wants to share some of there wholesome goodness with you – just print this coupon to save on your next Nature Valley purchase! The Hubby and I have gone gluten-free lately and I was pleasantly surprised to find some yummy gluten-free options from Nature Valley. The Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate Protein Bars are amazing!

Nature Valley Gluten Free

You can get connected with Nature Valley and the #BeGreatOutThere movement on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, but let’s get the encouragement started right here!

Who has inspired you to #BeGreatOutThere?

Who could you encourage to #BeGreatOutThere right now?

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Miles for Mercy + My First Marathon

I haven’t mentioned it much around here, but I’m running my first marathon this year.

I started training in February, the race is in May, and I already have a million thoughts about the process. This weekend I ran 17 miles – my longest run yet – which meant I also had almost three hours by myself to think. That’s a lot of thoughts!

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I’m going to try to write more about the marathon training journey here each week because I don’t want to forget what all of it felt like, but I wanted to start with one of the things keeping me motivated and a way for you to join me in the journey!

Mercy House, a maternity home in Kenya, has been close to my heart since it first opened several years ago. I was a reader of Kristen’s (the founder) blog and, through her writing and photos, she took us along as girls were rescued, buildings were purchased, babies were born, and God showed up through it all. My heart is stirred each time we hear of a new girl in the house or a new baby being born. This is life and beauty out of a hard place, which makes it even more beautiful.

I’ve shared the story here before many times and now I want to take your involvement one step further! This marathon I will be running will not be just about me. I’m running for Mercy House and I need your donations!

#MilesForMercy

Here’s the deal:

I want to raise $10 for every mile of the marathon for a total of $262! I’m setting small goals along the way with my training, so let’s do the same with our fundraising goals!

I have signed up for several shorter races leading up to the Fargo Marathon on May 21. My first is a 10-mile race this weekend. I’m looking for TEN people to donate any amount before my race on Saturday morning! Will you be one of those TEN?! Just click below or head over to my fundraising page to get started!

Fundraising Websites – Crowdrise
When you donate, you are supporting the amazing work of Mercy House, but I want to help you get even more involved. As a donor, I will email you a specific prayer request for the ministry that I will also be praying for during my race. 26.2 miles means 27 different people and needs to pray for along the way!

So many others are taking on this #MilesforMercy challenge, as well. In fact, most of them have already finished their races and I’m feeling a little alone on the tail end of the challenge, so I need you with me cheering me on and making a difference for the women and children of Mercy House! Let’s do this together!

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Longing for Paris

I received this book to review as part of the Longing for Paris launch team. I was not compensated in any other way for this post and all opinions are 100% my own. This post contains affiliate links.

I love to travel. I was fortunate enough to go to Europe for the first time when I was just 18 years old and I’ve been back twice since. I love getaways with my husband, road trips with my family, and traveling to conferences. New places and experiences are exciting to me.

Longing for Paris

When I heard the title and topic for my friend Sarah Mae’s new book, Longing for Paris, I knew I would relate. Because sometimes my soul just wants to wander to the newest place or experience or thing. I’m an ENFP who gets distracted by “bright, shiny things” and can sometimes miss what is right in front of me.

Long for Paris Architecture

Before I get to the book, I have a confession: the first time I visited Paris, I wasn’t really crazy about it. It was beautiful and interesting, but overwhelming as a new high school graduate. I wasn’t too excited about going back five years later. But the second time was different. I was with a similar type of group, but this time I was a chaperone and was with my husband. We were able to make our own plans. We wandered and visited some smaller, lesser-known places. We searched out a great loaf of bread. We sat outside of Notre Dame and watched Parisian life happen in front of us. And this time, I really loved Paris.

Longing for Paris Notre Dame

Had I not gone back to Paris the second time, I think I may have avoided this book. I wouldn’t have known the beauty of just sitting and watching and soaking in the culture. I would have only know the hustle and bustle of a whirlwind tourist visit. I would have felt no connection to Paris. But I’m so glad I picked this book up, because it’s really not about Paris, but about what Paris represents.

My longings are the reminder that there is more – another world, another place where I am meant to be.

Longing for Paris is about what our souls long for: beauty, passion, confidence, light. These are all things I witnessed firsthand in Paris, but as Sarah Mae points out, they are not only found in Paris. We can find the things we long for right here because they are all found in God. And when found in God, they will satisfy like nothing in this world.

Paris will leave me thirsting for more, and it will ultimately let me down, because I wasn’t made for Paris. I was made for all the things that I long for in Paris: beauty, art, culture, romance, light, and joy.

Sarah Mae talks about how our longings and reality meet. This can be a tricky place full of discontentment when we are not surrendered to God’s will.

I want to know how to not shut out my longings, while at the same time giving myself to the daily work of raising my children well and not being so divided to neglect them.

I was deeply impacted by the way she has searched for the beauty God has placed around her right where she is AND included her family in these discoveries. It doesn’t have to be one or the other, but our longings do need to be directed and filled by our wonderful Creator.

Longing for Paris Courtyard

Longing for Paris touches on so many aspects of our life that I can’t possibly mention all of them in one post, but I know that it has helped me open my eyes to the wonders surrounding me in my home and community. God has given me an appreciation for beauty and discovery. I don’t have to travel far and wide all the time to fulfill this longing. I just need to look to Him, then look around.

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This weekend, I tried a salted caramel macaron from a French bakery in my hometown and I thought of God and beauty and Paris and Sarah Mae. This is where my life is happening and He is leading me to everything I need and long for in His perfect way. This is beautiful.

Today is release day for Longing for Paris! Hooray! The paperback is less than $8 on Amazon right now! Grab your copy today!

What are some things you long for more of in your life? What longings has God fulfilled in your life right where you are?

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It’s Freeing to Know Who You Are

This weekend I discovered the freedom of interacting with others when you know who you are.

Taking the StrengthsFinder test back in February opened my eyes to giftings I “kind of” knew were there from the Lord already, but I didn’t know how to name them. It was as if God called them out of me in a new way through that test and the study I did of my strengths in the time that followed.

This past weekend I attended the Declare Conference in Dallas, Texas. The Lord revealed an even greater blessing while there of walking in my strengths in community with other women, women who also know or are learning how God has made them and how He wants to use them for His kingdom.

God has built within me a strong desire and gift to connect with new people, to learn new things, and to communicate them with others. This is who I am.

At Declare, I had a chance to do ALL of these things and my heart leapt at each new opportunity to meet someone new, learn something new, or share what I know. I can see now how this has played out in previous experiences of mine, but this year felt different.  I felt more free, more bold, more connected with what He was bringing my way and why.

There are hundreds of personality tests and assessments out there to discover “who you are,” and it might be so overwhelming that you’re never touched one. But I’m asking you to reconsider.

In conversation after conversation with old friends and new friends this weekend, I heard women celebrating their God-given strengths and walking in wild obedience to do what He has asked them with those strengths.

Declare Heather Crystal

It looked like Crystal wildly obeying God’s call to share her love and gift for cultivating authentic community online to a room full of women.

It looked like Heather embracing her extroverted-awesome to emcee the conference with such humor, such life, such Jesus-love.

Declare Brooke Kate

It looked like Brooke + Stacey each sharing their own gracious, loving words about how to keep going and keep writing when the world seems to crumble around you complete with their own hard stories.Declare Stacey

It looked like Jessi holding on our hands and telling us she’s in the thick of it, too, and that’s ok because Jesus is enough to pull us through.

It looked like Lisa-Jo bravely telling her motherhood stories that made us all feel a little less alone and a lot more ready to fight for the things that matter to us, including our children.

Declare Sally

It looked like Sally and a lot of tears, understanding, prayer, healing between the two of us because she was willing to open her heart.

Declare Workout

It looked like Alisa leading us in a God-centered workout that brought us to throne of Jesus AND made me the good kind of sore for days following 🙂

It looked like the listening ears and wise words of Denise and Alia into the wee hours of the night, two women with very different strengths than me, but exactly what I needed to connect with at that moment.

It looked like so many other beautiful women saying, “Yes. THIS is who I am. THIS is what God wants me to do.” And every single woman’s wild obedience looked different and beautiful and free.

The first blogging conference I went to, I walked away wanting to be more like this woman or that blog. I hadn’t spent enough time asking God, “Who am I? What are the strengths you want me to use for You?” I spent years online trying to figure out how I “fit in.”

This year, I was so comfortable with me. And I felt so free. I led a session on affiliate marketing and I joked that it was the least “Jesus-y” session of the whole weekend. My session wasn’t about Jesus, but it was about using our strengths for Him. He gifted me in the area of connecting with people + businesses and sharing them with others, so I stepped out into this calling and LOVED it.

Instead of walking away from Declare wanting my blog to look more like this woman’s or my Instagram pictures to look more like that woman’s, I walked away ready to be me to the fullest, to fulfill MY place in His Kingdom.

Do you know how good that feels? I want you to know how good that feels. We all have different gifts but they are ALL important. The woman who listens well is just as gifted as the woman who speaks in front of thousands. But you have to know where your strengths lie if you’re going to embrace them and use them for His glory.

I don’t want to add another thing to anyone’s to-do list, but at least consider taking a personality or strengths-finding test today if you’re wrestling with your place in this world, in His Kingdom. And if you’ve taken these tests, find a way to use what what He has built inside you. Revisit those strengths often.

Because it’s freeing to know who you are and DO something for Him with it.

*****

My favorites for discovering more about your personality and strengths:

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June Goals

I have included affiliate links below. When you purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting this site and our sponsorship of our Compassion child, Samson!

June Goals

I love accountability, so here I go, posting my June goals for all to see! There is something about making it public that adds to the motivation and I can always use an extra push!

I also feel like I’m in a place where life is just ready to burst out of me. Remember my word for the year? Vitality. And that bud in the picture above? That’s how I feel – ready to bloom with possibility! I’m putting goals in place to help this forward momentum have some direction. It’s really exciting and fun and just a tad scary…but that’s really the best combination of feelings!

Her’s my check-in from last month…

May Goals

1. Run another half marathon – check! And with a PR, too!

2. Read 4 books – check! Follow my Pinterest board to see what I’ve been reading this year! SO many good ones!

3. 2 date nights with The Hubby – 1 for 2…unless…Does race weekend without the kids count?! We had a fabulous date last weekend with a really yummy dinner, Captain America: Winter Soldier, and lots of yummy popcorn!

4. Paperwork purge – Um, not as much as I would have liked. Can’t check this off in good conscience.

5. 6am wakeup – nope. Double J has been waking up several times in the night {what is with that?!} and this mama will take every ounce of sleep she can get! And this is not on my June goals because I’m not sure what I want my goal wakeup time to be anymore!

6. Pray daily for my guys – check! I keep going back through Praying for Boys over and over again for my sons. For The Hubby, I love Kathi Lipp’s Praying God’s Word for Your Husband!

 

June Goals

1. Read 3 books – I’m going for two fiction and one non-fiction this month! I have several on my list, so I hope to read more, but this is my goal!

2. Learn more about podcasting – I am super giddy about learning this new skill and using it for ministry! Watch for details early this fall!

3. Clean out the school room – You guys, I can’t even tell you how bad it is. It’s not functional AT ALL. It needs major decluttering and and rethinking so we can all use it, even if just as proper storage for all our school books and supplies.

4. Plan and host Little J’s 6th birthday party – We’re alternating years for big parties, so this is his year! Tossing around a few ideas in my head, but I need to just settle on one and get to planning!

5. Don’t freak about Big J going to camp – Breathe, Erin. He is SUPER excited and it will all be ok…

6. Take a risk in home decoratingThe Nester is doing her best to make me brave in this area. I want to spruce things up, make it more creative, more inspiring, more welcoming, more US. I also picked Young House Love for some extra inspiration.

7. Keep up the good eating habits I’ve established with the 21 Day Fix…with grace – The eating plan during during the 21 Day Fix is not meant to be kept up for longer than three weeks, but the focus on more real foods and portion control as been GREAT for me. I’m hoping to keep a good eating plan on a regular basis with room for fun indulgences here and there!

8. Make a big decision with The Hubby about our future -Prayers, please, people. All good things, but I’d finding myself praying the words of “Oceans” a LOT lately as we pray and seek God’s will. I’ll share when I can!

9. Spend 60 minutes outside every day with the kids – We started this at the end of May and it might be my favorite goal of the month! I’ve got a whole bunch of activities planned and lots of free time for them to just be boys!

Honestly, I have several other goals in my head, but I think I need to keep the list at this for now so I don’t get overwhelmed or discouraged! Nine goals is still a lot, but some of them aren’t new, so that helps it seem more manageable!

The Tiny Twig

I’m joining Hayley’s Goals with Grace link-up – why don’t you, too?!

What are your goals for June?

 

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When My StrengthsFinder Results Made Me Cry

I have included affiliate links below. When you purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting this site and our sponsorship of our Compassion child, Samson!

I’ve been on a journey these last few months to really embrace and step out into the life of adventure God has for me. I’ve become more of a goal-setter, but always seeking His will when making these goals. His glory and a life of vitality are my constant pursuits.

Some fabulous resources have come my way in this journey, many of which I will be sharing with you soon because they are too good to keep to myself. One such resource was mentioned by person after person, in several books and blog posts I read, and I finally had to break down and get it for myself.

That book was StrengthsFinder 2.0.

I like to take free personality tests and such online, so I balked a little at paying for a book and test that would probably tell me more of what I already knew about myself, but I finally caved. You have to buy the book to get your special code to take the test – I have to admit that is kind of top-secret and fun.

I read the intro of the book and was quickly inspired by the words I was reading. Tom Rath points out that so many of the learning and development programs we encounter are based on pinpointing our weaknesses and trying to improve in those areas. When you think about this, there is SO much truth there. And I’ve generally seen that as a good thing – trying to get better at the things I’m not so good at – but not after reading this book.

When we’re able to put most of our energy into developing our natural talents, extraordinary room for growth exists.

Putting most of our energy into what we’re already good at? I’ve had a basic understanding of what I’m “good at” for a while, but this understanding was just surface level. In this culture, we want to fix our weaknesses more than we want to make our strengths stronger. And those strengths end up being under-utilized.

Our natural talents and passions – the things we truly love to do – last for a lifetime. But all too often, our talents go untapped.

After reading quotes like this…

Across the board, having the opportunity to develop our strengths is more important to our success than our role, our title, or even our pay.

…my desire to know more about my strengths, or natural talents, grew quickly, so I tucked myself away at a coffee shop on my “writing night” and took the test. And as I read the results thirty minutes later, I cried.

StrengthsFinder

No, I wasn’t disappointed with what I was reading. I was overwhelmed. These test results – extremely accurate results – felt in that moment like a little note from God saying, “I created you exactly as I wanted, with these beautiful gifts with which to love me and love others. Stop focusing on what you lack and use these talents to change the world around you.”

Yep, I was welling up, dabbing tears at the little coffee shop table, realizing how little we love the good things about ourselves. I’m not talking about anything we can see, but about who we are. I think so much about how I wish I wasn’t so absent-minded or selfish or messy. I don’t like it when I’m reminded of my tendency toward laziness or my inability to finish projects on time. Our culture of “self-improvement” has probably made us dislike ourselves more than anything else.

I had a similar emotional reaction last week when, as part of an “assignment” from one of the great resources I mentioned before, I had to ask several people close to me what I do well. As they texted me back, I almost wanted to stop reading because I found myself not believing what they had to say. “They have to say nice things because they are my friends and family,” I told myself. But when two or more people start pointing out the same things they see as strengths in you, it’s hard to push that away. And I cried on my bed in that moment as well…lots of good tears.

Romans 12:3-8 lays out so well what God intends for the gifts He places inside of us:

Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.

In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.

This whole process of discovering of my strengths is not about puffing up my ego, but an honest evaluation must include good with the bad. If I were to continue to only focus on my deficits, I would never get to what He lays out next – using my gifts, natural talents, strengths for the body of Christ.

Strengths

And as Rath points out in StrengthsFinder 2.0

We’ve discovered that the most successful people start with dominant talent – and then add skills, knowledge, and practice to the mix.

Success looks different for everyone, but for me it is a life that points to Christ and exudes love. And I’m going to start focusing on and using my dominant talents with that success in mind.

*****

I’m not going to go into detail with my StrengthsFinder 2.0 results because I just got them and I’m a newbie to all of this, but I will tell you what my Top 5 strengths were:

  1. Woo
  2. Positivity
  3. Learner
  4. Communication
  5. Input

I’m sure this is not the last you’ll hear from me on this topic! And if you’ve taken it, I would love to hear what your Top 5 are as well!

So let’s talk about this… when was the last time you really thought about or focused on your strengths? Is it easier for you to focus on your talents or your weaknesses? If you can’t think of any natural talents, ask some friends and/or family to help you get started!

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

VITALITY in Self-Care + Personal Growth

As I was exploring vitality as the my word for 2014, the areas for goal-setting were clear to me: faith, marriage, motherhood, ministry…

…and wasn’t there something else?

What about exercise? nutrition? rest? reading?

There were all these little but important leftover areas I wanted to see changes in for 2014, but they didn’t fit in anywhere.

Except…wait…they all had to do with ME. My personal growth, taking care of myself, my health and well-being, both physical and mental.

I’m at a place in my life where I’ve finally realized how much better I am all around – Christian, wife, mother, friend, writer – when I take care of myself. DUH!

So that’s where I’m wrapping up my vitality goals for 2014 today: self-care and personal growth…

Vitality in Personal Growth

food as fuel

I really like eating. I am not a dieter and I never will be because I LOVE food and I don’t like being told I can’t enjoy the yummy stuff. But I HAVE to take a different approach with food this year. Since becoming more active, I am much more aware of the effects food has on my body, both positive and negative. On a regular basis, each and every day, I need to think of food as fuel for my body. For me, this means more real food, more protein, vegetables, and fruits, more of what my body NEEDS not WANTS. You bet I will still thoroughly enjoy some of my favorite indulgences, but only in the context of a much healthier diet overall.

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

~1 Corinthians 10:31

challenge myself

Last year, I tried several new things in the area of fitness, but I also had a few periods of time lacking motivation and gusto. Not this year. I’ve got a plan to attack my physical fitness and strength, and if I ever feel myself dying off, I’m coming back to this goal. As of now, I’m not planning on any new distances for races, but I would like to set a new PR for a 10K. A half PR? Maybe! I broke 2:00 last year and that was my ultimate goal! We’ll see about getting faster!

And I’m not just challenging myself with events, but with a few tougher or new workouts a week. It might sound crazy, but my Tuesday evening speed work runs at the gym are super hard but make me feel AWESOME. I want more of that this year.

Those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
    They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
    They will walk and not faint. ~Isaiah 40:31

water, water, water

There isn’t much to say here: I just need to drink more water. The winter months have me reaching for coffee much more often, but I’m trying to down a whole Camelbak of water in betweens cups of coffee. I also grab a glass of water FIRST when I feel hungry to see if that satisfies me. Lots and lots of water this year, people. Bring it on.

motivate others

I have seen firsthand what taking better care of myself has done for every aspect of my life and I want to tell the world. Well, really I just want to come alongside other women, especially other moms, to say, “If I can do this, you can do this.” I was not an athlete growing up. I only started running less than two years ago. We have three kids, my husband is a resident, I homeschool and write and… I still find time to workout and my body thanks me for it!

I want to dedicate time this year to cheering on women who want to get started on this path or want to reach a new goal or need to get back on the treadmill or bike or whatever they were doing to improve their health before they stopped. {If you’re one of these women, please email me at homewiththeboys at gmail dot com and you will have yourself a health + fitness cheerleader!} This may not seem like a goal about personal growth, but I feel more alive and inspired myself when I’m connecting with and encouraging others, so there you go!

Then, by the will of God, I will be able to come to you with a joyful heart, and we will be an encouragement to each other. ~Romans 15:32

finish more books

I made this big long list of books I wanted to read last year, and I read many books, but not the whole list. I also started a lot of books that I never finished. I’ve started this month with finishing off a few books I didn’t quite finish in 2013. I’m fitting more reading in here and there, keeping books all over the place to grab for five minutes of reading here and there as suggested by Crystal Paine in her book Say Goodbye to Survival Mode. And my appetite for reading has definitely regained vitality. And I’m not putting a reading list out this year because new books keep popping up all the time and I don’t want to be tied down!

rest

Sleep. Analog weekends. Family cuddles. Feet up, deep breaths, stillness. I need more rest in 2014. Earlier bedtimes are in order. I take a “quiet time” in the afternoon while the boys do as well and all of me breathes easier for the rest of the day. I’m finding at least one day a week, usually the whole weekend to unplug and just be. Taking time to rest used to seem to me a hindrance to getting all the things done. Life has shown me differently.

And so dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice-the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him. ~Romans 12:1

*****

Hmmm…turns out I had a lot to say about taking care of myself!

On the topic of self-care, can I share a few of my favorite reads for moms? Jessi from Naptime Diaries and Hayley from The Tiny Twig have been writing many encouraging things lately in this area. Please take some time to read and be inspired by these ladies.

How are you doing with taking care of YOU? What do you want to focus on for your personal growth this year?

 

Read more about my goals for vitality…

The VITALITY Series

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook