Better Life Bags + What I Wore

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I took a little break from What I Wore posts but I’m thinking about bringing them back starting in August because I’m rethinking wardrobe and buying practices and I’d love to share more of that journey with you on a regular basis. I’m easing back in today with a business I’ve been giddy to share with you…

When the words ethical fashion and fair trade are mentioned, most people think of employment for men + women who wouldn’t regularly have jobs in OTHER countries. Rebecca Smith and her family saw a need for this kind of employment right here in the United States. Rebecca and her family live in a low-income area of Detroit. The unemployment rate is 20%. Jobs are scarce and many people in the community are first-generation immigrants with few connections to finding these jobs.

Better Life Bags logo

Rebecca and her company, Better Life Bags, are changing the outlook for many women in the Detroit area by renting out sewing machines, teaching sewing skills, and providing an income for these women to support their families. What Rebecca and her family are doing in Detroit is an amazing example of seeing and meeting a need right in her own community. We don’t have to travel far to make a big difference.

I adore Rebecca’s heart {and her cute family} and her mission…and then I saw the selection of bags made by the women of Better Life Bags and I just fell in love. While there are ready-to-ship bags in the Better Life store, the real fun and beauty is in the custom bags, where you pick the colors, fabric, and finishes!

I was looking for a bag to travel with – not too big, but able to hold my laptop, Day Designer, and a few other travel essentials. Rebecca pointed me towards the Brynnda and it is JUST PERFECT.

Meet my Brynnda…

Better Life Bags Brynnda

I knew two things when I was picking out the custom features of my bag:

  1. It had to include green somewhere.
  2. I wanted fabric that wouldn’t show dirt easily.

At first, I thought the pattern I chose was in black, but Rebecca clarified it was actually navy and I didn’t know if I would love it…but I do. I love it. It is like no other bag I have ever owned. The size is just what I wanted – big enough to travel with, but small enough to use every day.

Better Life Bags Brynnda Inside

The interior is a heavy-duty navy canvas which will hold up to my abuse very well and I’m SO glad there is a zippered interior pocket! The clasp on the outside is super strong, so I’m not worried about my bag accidentally falling open on an airplane! There is also a shallow pocket on the front {the green fabric is the top of that pocket} and a deep pocket on the back exterior of the bag – places for everything!

Better Life Bags All

Because I switch bags a lot during a week – gym bag, diaper bag, purse – I decided to get some matching nesting pouches as well! Aren’t they adorable?!

Better Life Bags Nesting Pouches

I’m currently using the small one for lip gloss and the medium one for the ridiculous array of pens I like to carry everywhere for my planner + Bible study. The reinforced leather bottom is so gorgeous and each pouch also has the same heavy-duty canvas as the interior of my bag.

Better Life Bags Styled

This gives you a better idea of how big the Brynnda is – such a great size! I’m wearing it here with my She Does Justice “Speak Life” shirt {designed with Jessi from Naptime Diaries}, Levi’s skinny jeans, The Root Collective pink striped peep toe flats, fashionABLE Teshome bracelets {and my Fitbit!}, and Johari Creations earrings!

I’m obviously head-over-heels about my new bags, but the best part of the whole package was this…

Better Life Bags Nadia

I know this post is about beautiful bags, but it is also about beautiful life change that happens when the bags are purchased. Nadia is just one of the women who are employed because of Better Life Bags, but hers is the tag and story I will carry with me.

Which bag and story will you carry? Find the Better Life Bag that fits your lifestyle and needs on their site! There are literally bags for everyone – diaper bags, camera bags, pouches, purses, phone cases, laptop sleeves, and more! Make your way over to Better Life Bags and create your own masterpiece to support the women of Detroit today!

UPDATE: Through the end of July, use the code ENJOYJULY to get 15% off your order! Expires at midnight, July 31, 2014!

Which Better Life Bag would you love to carry?

 

I received the Brynnda bag to review from Better Life Bags. I was not compensated in any way for this review and all opinions are 100% my own!

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Spiritual Mothers + Messengers

I knew there was a reason I wasn’t able to write about the #SheSharesTruth topic of spiritual mothering yet. It’s because what He had on my heart for it was just perfectly in line with the Five Minute Friday word: messenger. So I’m combining the two…

It’s Five Minute Friday with lovely Lisa-Jo!

Set a timer and just write. Don’t worry about making it just right or not.

For me? An exercise in letting go and letting words flow. Five minutes only. {yes, I do set a timer and it quacks like a duck at 5 minutes, which totally makes me smile}

Today’s prompt: Messenger

And the #SheSharesTruth topic…

How is spiritual mothering already taking place in your community? Has a godly woman influenced you in your growth in the Gospel, or has mentoring a young believer impacted your life? How would you like to see Titus 2 shape your relationships moving forward?

*****

And go…

These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the word of God. ~Titus 2:4-5

The call in Titus 2 to us as women is very clear. Older women are to teach the younger women, and not just older as in years, but further along the path, if even just by a little bit.

I have seen so many women floundering with no one leading or encouraging them in the ways of Christian womanhood. And I’ve heard lots of excuses from women why they aren’t being these mentors to younger women: work, too busy, not “good enough,” nobody wants to hear from me. Yes, they do, and knowing and experiencing all this makes me want to be a spiritual mother even more when the time is right.

Spiritual Mothers

We need messengers, ladies. Women who aren’t there just to say, “Cherish this time.” We need honest messengers of hope and Truth, women who have raised families well in the name of the Lord, not perfectly, but with His grace. Women who know the struggles of the daily motherhood grind and looked to the Lord to sustain them.

My heart is burdened to tell the next generation of women and moms that it is all worth it, but it is NOT easy and that is all the more reason we need Jesus. I love all the things Titus mentions – marriage and home and family – but I could not do a single one without the Spirit guiding me and giving me fresh strength when I’m all out.

I’m grateful for the honest spiritual mothers that have brought these messages to me – not sugarcoated with “You can do it!”, but rather messages full of understanding and the reminder to always look to Jesus to guide me and get me through one day at a time.

Wherever you are in your journey, FIND those messengers and BE those messengers, sisters. Spiritual mothering is a holy call.

Stop.

*****

Read the beautiful words of my fellow writers over at Five Minute Friday and She Reads Truth today!

How has spiritual mothering been important to you? If you don’t have a spiritual mother, what would you hope to gain from one?

 

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Life-Giver {and a KraftyKash Sale!}

life-giving: imparting, or having the ability to impart, life or vitality

God built into all of us as women the ability to give life. When we talk about this in relation to motherhood, thoughts of pregnancy and childbirth come to mind. But the role of a woman as a life-giver goes far beyond those moments of waiting and labor, and most of the time, the life-giving has nothing to do with the physical act of birth at all. In the Five Aspects of Women, Barbara Mouser says:

“All of us are lifegivers. We have a created capacity in our bodies and in our spirits to give life, to nurture, to heal, to comfort, to encourage, to make things alive. Motherhood is important, but it is not the sum total of lifegiving.”

I wrote about the life-giving aspect of women in a series several years ago and all of that still resonates deeply within me, maybe even more so this year as I am focusing on vitality. Not only do I want more life in my days for myself, I want to spread and speak more life to those around me.

Give life. Speak life. That’s the kind of mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend I want to be.

Let’s celebrate the life-giving ability of all women this Mother’s Day.

Life Givers

This gorgeous new leather dictionary cuff from KraftyKash is serving as my reminder that, when filled up with by the Holy Spirit, I can be a giver of life to those around me, especially my family, by the way I speak, act, serve, and love. I can’t believe she was able to find my word, but I also can because God makes things work just like that, doesn’t He?!

Life Giver Close

I love this cuff because it has meaning, but also because the leather and snaps are tough enough to stand up to life as a boy mom and the accents are very feminine! It is also has two snaps to make it adjustable for any wrist size! But the very best part about the work of Kashoan at KraftyKash is the personalization. You can choose just about any word that has great significance to you or the person you are giving it to and she will find it if it is out there!

This would be the PERFECT unique Mother’s Day present! And with that in mind, the vintage dictionary leather cuff, normally $30, is on sale for just $25 PLUS free shipping in the United States when you use the code homewiththeboys at checkout now through April 23, 2014! Go! Order one or two or ten now!

Who has been the biggest life-giver in your life? What word would you order for that person?

 

Thank you to Kashoan at KraftyKash for this beautiful cuff bracelet to review and the sale to share with you! I was not compensated in any way for this post and all opinions are 100% my own!

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That Pesky Love Idol

I mentioned Jennifer Dukes Lee’s Love Idol back at the beginning of Lent. I had just started reading it and even the first few pages spoke to something I’ve struggled with, well, for all time. I like to be liked. I like to be heard. I wouldn’t always call myself a people-pleaser, but the applause and approval of other humans often edges out the approval of the only One who matters.

“I knew what the Bible said about me, but I measured my worth by other barometers – the mirror, report cards, and my performance among peers – even if it broke well-established moral rules.”

Reading Love Idol has been like therapy for me. With each chapter, I identify with another piece of Jennifer’s story – the striving for good grades, the saying “yes” so you don’t disappoint someone, being wrapped up in what others will think and riding the roller-coaster of their reactions.

“We ache to live our Christ identity more fully, instead of living a life yielded to our approval ratings. It is not a popularity contest. It is not a materialistic chase for medals, money, or Twitter @mentions.”

Unfortunately, the approval-seeking has been my default for so long. It’s a pesky love idol to shake. Pesky, but not impossible.

Preapproved Blog

As part of my Lenten journey this year, I gave up looking at my blog statistics. I did a lot more writing from the heart, not for numbers or comments. It felt a little bold and scary, but also felt like it was less about me.

“God’s Word compels us to choose the Holy Trinity, not the self-centric trio of Me, Myself, and I.”

Can I tell you what I love about Jennifer’s message so much?

Love Idol

It isn’t about denying any praise or compliments that come your way. It’s Jesus and our hearts. It’s about refocusing. And all of this leads to freedom. I need that daily. 

“When you and I no longer rely on praise or approval for our performance, we find new freedom: We can enjoy affirmation without craving it.”

The whole idea of being pre-approved? I’ve plastered those genius little signs on my computer, my bathroom wall, my planner. I can’t write anything that will make Jesus love me more or less. My appearance on any given day has no weight in His eyes. There is no planning or scheduling or working my way into a better place in heaven. I am and always have been pre-approved by Him.

“I yearn for us all to know the deep, deep love of Jesus – that it would be enough, that it always has been enough, and that it’s a love that can never be over matched by anything or anyone in this world.”

Love Idol is marked with many underlined passages and stars in the margins. It bears the soul of its writer in such a way that I felt as though we were confessing and story-sharing over coffee. It spurs me on in my desire to be less about me and ALL about Him. It will be in my nightstand for a long time as I continue to let go of my pesky love idol and hold tight to the love of my Savior.

If you haven’t yet, make sure you join the Love Idol Movement on Facebook! So inspiring!

 

I received a copy of this book to review from the publisher. I was not compensated in any way for this post and all opinions are 100% my own! All quotes are from the book!

 

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Be Generous With Your Words

I have to pinch myself sometimes when I think about how incredibly blessed I am by the amazing women God has put in my life. It really is like a dream. Women far and near who love and encourage and pray for me, each put there for a reason.

Being a “gifts” love language person, I want to buy them all beautiful, thoughtful gifts in appreciation for the ways they’ve spoke life and love into my world. Well, really, I’d like to fly us all to a private island for a week where we could laugh and cry and be refreshed. And eat anything we want. And not change any diapers. And get a tan. But those things kind of cost money…a lot of it…and that’s just not possible.

What I do have is words. Words are free, but they carry so much value. When we want to bless others in big ways on a small budget, words are the way to go.

God laid it on my heart as I approached my 33rd birthday to be generous with my words. I started a list of the women who have blessed my life over the years and pretty soon I was at 33. Family, friends, mentors, colleagues. The list kept growing. And I started writing.

A few cards a day, with carefully chosen words, filling ME up with joy and gratitude and being sent on their way. Friends, I thought I was doing this because God wanted me to bless the women in my life, and I’m sure that was part of it, but He just heaped more blessings on me in the process. And I’m still going. This cheering on of others is addictive.

Notecards

The value of a cute notecard and stamp, when paired with a little time and an open, encouraging heart, multiplies infinitely in the hands of God. And when we are generous with our words and obedient to His calling to share, His timing is always perfect. I can’t even tell you the number of times a handwritten card has shown up in my mailbox with just the words I needed to hear on that very day. He is so good like that.

When you feel like you have much to be thankful for, but don’t have much to give, can I encourage you to be generous in the giving of encouraging words to those you love? Don’t hold back in speaking words of life to others. Tell them they matter to you and to God and you are giving them something worth more than anything money could buy.

Be Generous With Your Words

How do you give your words generously? Are an email or snail mail encourager? Which do you prefer to receive?

I love to use little blank notecards like the ones above, but my favorite cards in the WORLD to send are always from DaySpring. They are unique and sweet and faith-filled and I can always find one with just the right words. Now through June 30, 2014, all DaySpring boxed card sets {affiliate link} are buy two get one free with the code B2G1Cards at checkout! I especially love the Holley Gerth Heart to Heart boxed set!

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A Gift from the One Who Sees Me

In elementary school, the teacher would sit us all in a circle, criss-cross applesauce, for an ice-breaker activity.

“Think of a word to describe yourself that begins with the first letter of your first name.”

Ooh, how I loved these circle times. Exciting, excellent, enthusiastic! I even liked when the challenge varied a little bit. Favorite animal? Elephant! Place you want to visit? Europe!

“E” words were special to me from a young age. They felt like mine.

I spoke at my first conference this weekend – two sessions on finding freedom in healthy living at the Refresh My Heart conference – and loved every single minute. Lelia, the founder of the conference, put together an amazing weekend of Jesus and brave, inspiring women. I was so honored to be a part of it and found myself renewed as I left.

Over and over again, my fellow speakers shared stories of our God who sees and knows us better than anyone else has or ever will. Stories of God showing up and showing off His great love for us in ways only He can. The way He uses clouds and running and notebooks to say, “I see you. I love you.”

And then He showed up and showed off for me, right there in the middle of a general session.

A Gift from the One Who Sees Me

Michelle, Lelia’s sister, had been praying about a way to bless each of the ladies attending Refresh My Heart and this is what happened next… {in Lelia’s words}

She ordered wooden hearts and bought a wood burning kit. Michelle and our mom burned the edges of each heart. Then my sister found 60 words and was going to use each word twice, but my daughter Alyssa insisted that they find a word for each woman.

They found the words and Michelle began to engrave a word on each heart. Then she turned the hearts over and prayed about them for weeks about what name to put on what heart. She never flipped the hearts over to see what word was going with what name, not even on her own heart. She engraved a name on each heart then she placed it in a little box and they tied a ribbon around it.

She had no idea what I would be talking about and how well this went with my message, about how God sees us and how we need to believe what He thinks of us. 

After my message, I told everyone to open their boxes and see what God thinks about them…

One woman shouted, “No way!” Some smiled. Some laughed. Some cried. It was absolutely beautiful. Only God could do something like that. Something to let us know, “I see you.”

What a God!  

What a gift of time and love from Michelle and Alyssa to each of us women. I was moved even before I opened my box.  And then I did…

Gift From God

…and flipped over my heart…

Exquisite

Exquisite. An “e” word. Just for me. Because only He could know. My breath was taken away for a moment. And I was that little girl in elementary school again, treasuring a word that seemed to be just for me.

The Hubby would later tell me “exquisite” has always been one of his favorite words.

A sweet friend I met at the conference learned of my word and texted me the definition:

exquisite: of special beauty or charm, or rare and appealing excellence

He sees me. He thinks I’m exquisite. He knows just what I need right when I need it.

I may be turning 33 today, but inside, I am His little girl treasuring the “e” word He picked just for me.

What a God. What a gift.

 

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Giving Up My Love Idol

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 could give up coffee. Maybe.

I could give up Facebook.

I could give up all number of things, but that’s not where God has led me this Lenten season.

I’m joining the Love Idol Movement and giving up a love idol in my life. And I’m hoping it’s for more than just 40 days.

What is a love idol? My friend Jennifer, author of Love Idol {releasing April 1!} describes it as this…

Paul wrote to the Cornithians: “These three remain: faith, hope and love. And the greatest of these is love.” Yet we take God’s “greatest” and contort it into an idol. We twist our desire for approval into a false god.

So there it is: looking to something or someone other than God for love. For approval. For validation. That something or someone is a love idol.

Mine has been staring me in the face for too long, but I am just SO done with it being what makes or breaks my day. I almost hate to admit it here because my love idol actually has to do with all of you.

Preapproved Blog

I’ve been seeking approval, validation, recognition through the reach of this blog. How many pageviews have there been today? Who is commenting? Why aren’t they commenting? What if I pour my heart out and NOBODY CARES? And what if they do care? Does that matter more than what God has to say about me?!

There it is. Ugly. Vain. A brazen love idol.

Even confessing this now, here, on the first day of Lent, feels freeing, but I know God has led me to lay more down to rid this love idol from my life. And I have a feeling this love idol won’t go away easily, so these will be daily sacrifice:

1. Deleting the blog tracking apps from my phone – there is absolutely NO reason I need to check how many people have visited the blog or commented on the blog when I’m on the go or with my family.

2. Starting my day with God – I have a knee jerk reaction of grabbing my phone the very moment I wake up to see what’s happening in social media. This just sets me up for a day centered around the online world, and I want my whole world to revolve around Jesus. The tweets, posts, emails can wait until I’ve had time to put my heart, mind, soul where they need to be – in His presence.

3. Putting down the phone – This has been a work-in-progress for a while now. It started with boundaries during homeschool. And now I’m feeling the pull for even more. Reading Love Idol as well as Hands-Free Mama – that’s just a recipe for leaving my pursuit of approval in the wrong places behind!

I want to rid my heart of this love idol of numbers and recognition to make room for more of Him – His love, His will, His glory. In her book Holey, Wholly, Holy, Kris Camealy says, “Your life is not just about you – your life is about Christ in you – about the work He can do through you, when you yield to His will.” I’m done being about what I can do and jumping full into what HE can do through me.

PreApproved

Friends, He has pre-approved us. There is nothing we can do to make Him love us more and we don’t need to search for love anywhere else – His love is more enough.

I don’t wanna tell some arrogant story, or let myself believe I’m you. I don’t wanna be a thief who’s stealing your glory. Will you help remind me of what is true? The only hope I’ve got is you. ~Ellie Holcomb, “Only Hope I’ve Got”

I’m taking this Ash Wednesday to repent and reflect on the heart changes I desperately need. Join me? And find the hearts of many other women giving up their love idols poured out over at Jennifer’s blog today. You can add yours if you also feel led!

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Pulling Back the Shades {Review + Giveaway}

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!

Being a reader, I should have taken notice when Fifty Shades of Gray was released, but it really didn’t register on my radar…until several women I knew started talking about it. Naively, I looked it up and was quite stunned at what had become popular with my peers, friends, relatives.

Yeah, TOTALLY not what I expected. At 32, I can still be surprised. And I’m a little uncomfortable even bringing up the topic here…but God has shown me the importance of this topic for women right now in our culture, Christian or not.

pulling back the shades cover

I have not read the Fifty Shades of Grey books and I pass no judgment on any who have, but I am applauding Dr. Juli Slattery and Dannah Gresh for taking on what those books represent in our culture heading on in their new book, Pulling Back the Shades.

This book is not ultimately about Fifty Shades of Grey or even about erotica. This book is about the spiritual battle for the hearts and souls of women. Our prayer is not just that you throw out the junk that enslaves you to the world’s thinking but that you join a call for revival among God’s women. {p. 147}

There is so much I could go into about Juli and Dannah’s words of wisdom and advice on the topic of women, sexuality, media, but there was one main message I wanted to highlight today.

I believe one of the great failures of the church is programming women in singleness for sexual repression by hiding from them the notion that they are created to be sexual. That is not God’s plan for purity. {p. 111}

We as women don’t have to be only spiritual or only sexual. We were designed to be BOTH.

Your sexuality was never meant to be separate from your deepest spiritual and relational longings but to be an expression of them. {p. 46}

There has been so much separation put between the spiritual and the sexual that we have come to believe they cannot or should not coexist. And this is where we find temptation and sin sneaking in.

Don't Have to Choose

The important things discussed in this book include Dannah and Juli’s answers to many women’s questions about what is “right” and “wrong” in regards to sexuality, what it means to be both spiritually and sexually satisfied, and lots of thoughts on what our culture and media have made us think is acceptable and natural – when it’s really becoming a substitute for God.

I know Pulling Back the Shades is going to be a powerful book for women seeking answers and trying to live lives that glorify God in all areas. And as uncomfortable as I may be even bringing up this topic, the light is the only way to freedom and that is just what this book does – shines His light.

Thanks to Dannah and Juli, I have five copies of Pulling Back the Shades to giveaway today – for you, for a friend, for your own awareness as you minister to other women! Just enter below to win by liking the Authentic Intimacy Facebook page and/or following the Authentic Intimacy Twitter account! The work these women are doing is so needed!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

* I received a copy of Pulling Back the Shades to review. I was not compensated in any way for this post, and all opinions are 100% my own!

 

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Growing Vegetables + Children

This is where I usually tell you that today is another Five Minute Friday, where Lisa-Jo gives us a prompt and invites us to write for FIVE MINUTES ONLY, no editing, no rethinking, no shame.

But this isn’t just any Five-Minute Friday. Yes, it IS Friday. Yes, it’s Valentine’s Day, but the kind of love we’re sharing here today goes beyond a one day holiday. You’ll see…

Today’s prompt: Garden.

*****

And go…

The gardening analogies were lost on me until we bought a house with landscaping that needed to be kept up. I had always said I had a black thumb but that wasn’t really the issue – the issue was my own lack of persistence, patience, diligence.

Garden Kids

There is no garden quite like motherhood, where I am toiling to produce the fruit of Christ in my children and He is working to produce the fruit of the Spirit in me. There is daily planting, daily digging, daily weed-pulling, and if I don’t remember His call to not grow weary in doing good, it might all just be too much.

My mama soul has been turned over and over again just like the dirt. Every part of me feels the joy and pain, the lift and weight of the toil of parenting, and I live in a place where everything I could ever need is in reach for me without physical labor.

God is working on my heart, pulling up the weeds of selfishness, bringing forth new growth of love and service, showing me beauty and joy in swept floors and folded laundry.

Garden LisaJo

The work of beautiful women around the world, literally planting and harvesting to nourish their families, body and soul, is finding root in my heart, giving me a vision for true service to my family.

Garden Women

They grow vegetables AND children, even children who aren’t their own, loving them as if they were. And while I haven’t latched on to the whole vegetable garden in my own backyard, I am a mother who is growing children and, as Lisa-Jo says, “There is nothing ordinary about being a mom.”

Stop.

*****

Today a bunch of not-so-ordinary moms are linking arms and running forward in love to show the world LOVE is a VERB. It goes out and does crazy stuff like build a center for a community in South Africa in need of a safe place for sustainable food, child care, economic empowerment, job skills trainings, a gathering place for church, classrooms for HIV/Aids education, and a playground for their kids. THAT is love and we can show it today.

It all starts today with a garden. A vegetable garden. And that’s just Phase One.

You can donate through the project on Pure Charity. And you can also purchase a gorgeous necklace through one of my favorites, KraftyKash, from her “Fall in Love With the World Next Door” line and $12 from each sale will help fund the Maubane Community Center in South Africa.

I’m just giddy and teary and overwhelmed by so many coming together to love on these kids, this community. Love IS a verb. Let’s do this.

 

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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