the one practice that has benefitted my faith & my mental health most

A few days ago I filled up the last page of another prayer journal. As I did, I looked back to the first page, back to September 12th – almost exactly five months ago. I scanned over the words I wrote to God when I asked Him to meet me within the pages of this journal. I had asked with anticipation for Him to lead me and guide me through whatever would come my way. Little did I know what those five months would hold. I considered how much has changed since I wrote that prayer on the first page. And then I considered how much of that change was processed and recorded within the pages that followed. The processing of decisions about our future, the downward spiral of the gym I worked for, the uncertainty of my next steps after job loss, finding and settling into new routines, further establishing our sense of community where we live – all of this and much, much more were processed at length. And while the processing wasn’t always pretty, and the outcomes of some situations weren’t always tied up with a neat bow, I was still able to fill the last lines of this journal with thanksgiving towards God for the way He has helped me through it all. I was able to say with certainty and with joy that the Lord is faithful.

While journaling my prayers has become a life altering habit in my faith and life, there’s a specific practice within it that has been the ultimate game changer for me. It’s what prayer journaling allows me the space to do. It’s what led me from the first page to the last page of this journal with an ever increasing trust in the Lord, despite a rollercoaster of circumstances. And it’s what has ultimately allowed about the greatest transformation in my heart. What I want to share about with you today is the concept of getting real with God.

What do I mean by that? Well, I mean sharing your whole and complete self with God. I mean opening up and letting Him into the lightest and brightest, as well as the deepest and darkest crevices of your soul. I mean putting it all out on the table – mess and all. I believe that prayer is a gift we’ve been given as a means to communicate with our Father and Creator, Redeemer and Savior. And if we don’t utilize it, we are the ones missing out. If all we do is say fluffy or repetitive or extravagant or forced words that we don’t even really mean, then are we actually communicating? Or, if all we do is have surface level conversations with God, constantly asking Him for things, but we hide our real hurts or wicked thoughts, are we really allowing God to change our hearts?

So I’ve learned to bare it all out there and confess who I am, exactly as I am. I say learned, because it’s often not easy. I don’t enjoy being vulnerable. As an enneagram 1, I don’t like facing my mistakes. I don’t like revealing the messy sides of me. I’d much rather talk about the neat and tidy parts of life. But I started to accept that if I can’t bring my full, whole self before God, who loves me unconditionally and more than anyone else, then I’m never going to be able to share my full, whole self with anyone. We used to attend a church that often said, “Bring the mess, Jesus can handle it.” And while we didn’t stick around that church long for unrelated reasons, that idea has stuck with me. If anyone can handle the worst parts of me, it’s Jesus. And so there is no safer place for me to be real. He already knows my heart and my thoughts anyways – and more deeply than I do at that. He’s not shocked by my sins and secrets. And He already went to the cross on behalf of them. So why not lay them before Him and ask Him to help me deal with them, rather than be consumed with worry that I’m going to be found out?

So I do that by being raw and honest with God when we chat. Sometimes that means I’m overjoyed and full of gratitude, so I pour out my thanksgiving and praise. But other times I boil over in anger, I cry out in sorrow, I dump out my overwhelm, I own up to my failures, I wrestle with my disappointment, I confess my fears, I demand change in what I deem unjust situations, I ask Him “why?”, I beg for miracles. Most emotions humans are capable of, I’ve probably hashed out with God at some point. And if you look back through that list, you can probably guess that it doesn’t always look pretty.

But the more I’ve opened up about the real stuff, the more He has cleared out the crud and transformed my heart. And the more He’s done that, the more I’ve seen His gentleness, and faithfulness, and patience, and grace. I’ve gotten to experience God’s love and mercy for me amidst my harshest moments. And as a result, my faith has grown exponentially as I’ve experienced what feels like His miracle work in my life. There is no specific method to it. There are no magic words to say. There’s no right or wrong strategy. It’s just me laying myself bare and coming before the throne of my Savior and King to seek His guidance.

I firmly believe that by inviting God in, He more easily brings deep change in my heart and life, because I’m no longer resisting. It has given me an incredibly fresh and real meaning to Jesus as my Wonderful Counselor. Because there have been times that I’ve walked away from journaling feeling like I just came straight out of a therapy session.

It’s through this practice and allowing the Holy Spirit to really have His way with me that I’ve realized how much I have a fear of failure. I’ve had my eyes opened to how much of an idol I’ve made of comfort in my life. I’ve recognized my shortcomings in communicating in my marriage and found ways to strengthen it. I’ve found hope and direction in the face of unknown. I’ve gained better understanding of other people in my life, and I’ve definitely gained better understanding of myself. I’ve had the opportunity to see God pull all of the loose threads together in so many situations to complete the fuller picture. I’ve also had the opportunity of finding peace while the threads are all still loose.

By offering up the junk and the mess and the mire within me, God has taken it and used it to teach me, grow me, change me, transform me, and ultimately bring me into His freedom. He knows that there are times I’ve needed gentle correction, and other times that have required a not-so-subtle kick in the pants. Of course there are messy feelings and words that come out that aren’t so honoring to God, but by giving it all over to Him, I have a safe place to sort through them, rather than let them bubble over in even greater sin, and possibly making it worse. By acknowledging that my heart isn’t always in the place it’s “supposed” to be, I’m able to give God the room to mold it and shape it to make it new. THIS is how I become more like Jesus – not by striving to obtain a certain character trait through practice (though that’s not necessarily a bad thing). But by handing over the deepest, darkest parts of myself and letting God do His redeeming work – letting Him get to be the hero that He is. Sometimes that means He eradicates the tough stuff, and sometimes that means He shines through it.

So however you pray, I urge you to be completely and wholly honest with God. Give Him it all. Each and every emotion. Each and every light and heavy thought. Each and every shortcoming and failure. I promise you, He wants to hear from you. He wants to shine light in those dark corners you’ve been working so hard to hide – not to embarrass you or to hurt you, but to set you free. It might still feel uncomfortable to be exposed, but there is no safer place than in the shadow of God’s wings. He is the most wonderful counselor I’ve ever known. I hope you can know Him as that too.

What about you? How do you best connect with God? Do you feel like you could get a little more real with Him when you talk to Him? Or have you experienced His work in your heart because of a time you were real with Him? I’d love to hear in the comments.

Until next time,

ute trail

As we’ve made our way into February and are inching ever so slightly closer to warmer weather, I’m finding myself feeling my first waves of spring fever. Of course, I’m realistic about the fact that we’re still very much in winter here in Wyoming, especially as there’s a light snow falling outside as I type this. But a girl’s allowed to dream about warmer days ahead…or behind, I suppose. Because today I’m sharing about another one of our summer hikes from last year. This one ended up being a doozy, mainly because it didn’t go quite as we anticipated, but we still enjoyed our time in the fresh air and mountains, and I certainly learned a few good lessons along the way.

Back in July I was eager to get back into Rocky Mountain National Park for some outdoor adventures. We live about an hour and a half from the Estes Park entrance, so we’ve spent a fair amount of time exploring different areas of the park while we’ve lived in Cheyenne, and it has become one of my favorite places, with still so much left for us to see. My end goal for the season was to hike up to Sky Pond (which spoiler alert, we did do, and Iim excited to share more about it), but I wanted to work our way up to it since it was a bit of a longer hike, and I was still willing to admit that we’re novices in this hobby, so on this particular day I planned for something more moderate.

At the time, I had just discovered AllTrails, so I picked out a couple options for us, knowing that parking would probably determine our fate. The initial trail I had in mind was actually a portion of the Sky Pond hike, but with the trailhead being in one of the most popular areas of the park and it being peak season, our 7:30am arrival time was too late to get parking – even in the shuttle lot. Thankfully I had another hike in a different area of the park saved in my AllTrails app, so we headed towards Trail Ridge Road for Ute Trail, but considering the starting point was along the side of this heavily traveled highway, we knew that parking was going to be minimal. We crossed our fingers, enjoyed the always spectacular views as we made our way up the winding road, and thankfully found some side road parking a short walk away from the trailhead.

Based on my AllTrails app and the reviews I saw, this would be a 5.6 mile in-and-out hike. We started at 11,430 ft elevation, with the expectation that we’d decline for a bit in the middle of the hike before reaching the end point where we’d turn around and work our way back up. The down, then up format was different than what we were used to, but we were willing to give it a go for the sake of a fun experience.

Since we started the hike so high up and it was still early in the day, the weather was chillier and windier than we had planned for, but we thankfully had enough layers to manage. The weather stayed pretty clear throughout our time though, and it warmed up significantly the lower in elevation we went.

We made our way across Tombstone Ridge for about 2 miles. There was a handful of people along the trail with us, but it wasn’t too crowded. It was a different experience for us to be hiking so high up in the alpine tundra surrounded by seemingly endless mountains, so I was soaking in the views. We reached the point where the descent began (Timberline Pass) and started making our way down the rocky trail. I became slightly concerned that no one else seemed to be following along this path, but I assumed they didn’t plan on going as far as we did, and chose to trust the map as we continued down a steep decline, with no switchbacks in sight.

Along the way, I continued to check the map and the GPS on my phone, and as we appeared to be approaching the end point of the trail we expected to reach some sort of view point or an obvious sign that it was time to turn around. But as we hit the mile marker, that point never arrived. We chose to keep going a bit further, because surely we had to be close to some sort of destination, but the further we made our way down the mountain, the more we thought about how we had to climb our way back up it. We probably ended up going an extra half mile, and then finally stopped for lunch and to rest for a bit. From previous hikes we’ve learned that while descending can be faster and easier on the lungs, it takes a toll on our knees. Considering we just descended about 2,000 ft in the span of a mile, both of us were hurting. We considered our options as we ate, and acknowledged that the Ute Trail as a whole actually continues down into Beaver Meadows, and that perhaps the trail we were following in AllTrails was meant to be just a portion of it. While we loved the idea of finishing the trail out and not having to go back up the mountain, we only had one car, and it was parked up at the top. Our only way out was back up, so going any further seemed a bit illogical, despite not having reached any particular destination.

We slowly scrambled our way back up the trail, now feeling the struggle in our lungs, on top of our already aching knees. I definitely had a harder time than Adam (I’ll credit his marathon training for helping his lung capacity…& of course he’s just naturally stronger than me too), so I frequently stopped to rest. It got to the point where I’d step up a few rocks and have to stop. Then I’d take another few steps, and have to stop again. It was a big slice of humble pie. I mean, I worked at a gym for goodness sake and I was in the best shape of my life – this shouldn’t have been so hard. But the nice thing about hiking is that we spend a lot of time in silence, and I had plenty of time to consider that to get better at anything it takes practice – even hiking. So I kept trudging along, taking my time and listening to my body, stopping when I needed to. And when I stopped, I took the moment to look out at the mountains surrounding us and be reminded of why I enjoy hiking in the first place: to be humbled by God’s creation. I was definitely humbled on this day – just differently than I normally am. But as we finally reached the edge of Timberline Pass and our path leveled out as we started back across Tombstone Ridge, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. Plus those alpine views sure didn’t lose their splendor.

By the time we reached our car, we were exhausted and agreed that this was a tough one, but it was still a good one. It was a learning experience on many counts. I learned that AllTrails is a helpful tool, but since anyone can contribute information to it, everyone’s input doesn’t always match up accurately, so do some extra research when going somewhere new. I was reminded that the only way to get better at hiking is to just go out and hike. I learned that going up, then down is much more preferable than going down, then up. And lastly, don’t forget to pack some toilet paper 😉

If we were to do this hike again, I’d either keep it shorter and simpler, and just hike the 2 miles along Tombstone Ridge and then head back to the trailhead (the views along the way are plenty worth it). OR I’d take two cars, parking one down in Beaver Meadows and one at the top of the trailhead, so we could experience the full Ute Trail. I’d also probably start at the bottom, but that might just be preference. Regardless, I stand behind my mantra that any day I spend in the mountains is a good day.

Have you ever gone for a hike that didn’t go quite as you planned? Join me in sharing and tell me about it in the comments below!

Until next time,

saying no to good things

Last week I saw a job posting for the pilates platform that I’ve been using and loving for the last month. It intrigued me, especially because literally moments before I saw it I was on a walk with our pups listening to a podcast interview with the founder/CEO and daydreaming about what it could look like to work for her and her business someday. So I took a look at the job description and qualifications. As I scanned over the details I considered how perfect of a fit this could be for me. It’s a mobile position that could be done from anywhere; it would only be 20-30 hours a week; the pay is more than what I was making in my previous job; the work itself seemed doable and enjoyable; I’m perfectly qualified for the position in just about every way; and most significantly to me, it’s a business that I can wholeheartedly get behind – one that encapsulates many of my recent passions, experiences, and interests. I don’t know if I could quite call it a dream job, but it sure felt like a dream opportunity.

But before I could even consider clicking the button to “Apply Here” I felt a pause within me – a stop in my mind reminding me of what God has called me to in this season. A calling that I have been so sure of because He has affirmed it over and over again. And He again affirmed me of it on this day when I considered an alternative route. A route that seems to be crafted just for me. A route that would surely allow me to work for the good of others and the glory of God. A route that appears to be a good and exciting opportunity.

And yet, it would be a route different from the one that God has so strategically paved for me. The route that I seemingly lost my job for. The route that has given me fresh faith and hope in the midst of a confusing season. The route that has me so closely clinging to Jesus amidst unknowns and doubts and fears. The route that has roots that go at least six years deep. The route that I feel strongly the Lord has assured me great abundance through.

It’s not that I think God wouldn’t want me to pursue a good opportunity like this because He doesn’t want me to have something good. I don’t think that He’s trying to hold out on me. What I do think is that He doesn’t want me to pursue this opportunity because He’s trying to help me be obedient to the one He’s already placed before me.

Remember that word of obedience I felt so confident the Lord had given me for this year? He’s been extraordinarily clear that it’s been from Him because it keeps coming up over and over again. In podcasts and books, in sermons and instagram posts. The Lord has been remarkably timely in His assurance to me of what my focus is to be right now. Like, so timely that I’ll be experiencing some doubts or fears, and within hours, or even minutes, I come across some words that speak directly against them. I’m not even kidding that it happened via my instagram feed when I was taking a break (cough procrastinating cough) writing this post. You wanna know what it said?

“Oof, ohhhhkay,” I said audibly as I read that and set my phone down, feeling slightly like someone just read my mind.

God has been so gracious to me. In all of my life, but especially in this recent season. He’s been teaching me so much, and uncovering so much within me, it’s almost overwhelming. And it’s established my trust in Him all the more. Because of that trust, I believe that writing and working on this blog is the assignment He’s given me right now. I believe that through this assignment, He is leading me on a path towards abundance. Where it leads and what that abundance looks like, I still have no idea. But when God speaks so loudly and plainly and clearly to you, it means He has a plan. And He’s God, so you know it’s going to be good in the end.

So I told myself ‘no’ to this seemingly great opportunity. And it hasn’t been easy to do so. I could start numerous other conversations about how I’ve felt guilty for not contributing financially to our family, or how I’ve wrestled with insecurity over identifying as ‘unemployed,’ or as a ‘blogger,’ or how I’ve felt bad for having so much free time to do things I enjoy while my husband goes to work each day; so this job could help solve all of those issues. But I’ve considered in Matthew 4 where the devil tempted Jesus by suggesting He do things that altogether weren’t bad and would, in theory, glorify God. But Jesus rebuked the devil because if He was to do any of those things, He would have faltered away from God’s ultimate rescue plan for us (Matthew 4:1-11). It would have completely changed the endgame. I wouldn’t quite consider this job posting I saw as a temptation from the devil, but my reasons for pursuing it would certainly be fueled by fear and doubt and a distrust that God has good plans for me where I’m at.

Saying no can be a hard thing to do in general. Whether it’s not wanting to disappoint someone, or there’s a fear of missing out, it’s just not always a natural thing to do. But it is easier when the option before you is a no brainer. It’s easier when there’s an obvious reason that an option is not the right fit for you, or it doesn’t line up with your plans or vision. However, I’m finding it most challenging when the option sounds like a good one. It’s challenging when it lines up with your passions or it has the potential to be really fruitful.

This job could be a truly wonderful opportunity, but I’m settled in the choice that it’s just not what I’m called to right now. So I’m holding onto the sure promise to those that follow God that, “According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.” (1 Peter 1: 3-4). And that inheritance is going to be better than anything we can imagine.

I’m hopeful that I made the right choice.


What about you friends? Is there something good that you’ve had to say no to in order to remain obedient to what God is calling you to? Or is there something you think maybe you need to start saying no to in order to give God your ultimate yes? Surely I can’t be the only one in the trenches of this. I’d truly love to hear from you in the comments.

Until next time,

how i define minimalism in my life

When I first started this blog, I was in the early stages of my journey into minimalism and simpler living. After first being drawn to the concept when I was living out of a suitcase and feeling a glimpse of freedom from the discontent and decision fatigue my closet was causing, I dove deep into getting rid of all of the things that felt unnecessary in my life. Namely, my excess possessions. At the time we were living in limbo in a two bedroom apartment in California for a five month stint while my husband completed his initial job training. I spent my days as a stay-at-home dog mom determining what kind of excess we had in our home and purging anything I could for the thrill of it.

That was nearly 6 years ago. Since then, we have moved a few times, spending three years in North Dakota in two different rental homes, and now we reside in Wyoming in a house we bought over two years ago (#militarylife). We’ve added another dog to our family, completely eliminated our debts (minus a mortgage payment), and cycled through purging and purchasing items for our life and home. Over this time our circumstances, styles, and needs have shifted. A lot has changed, I’ve learned a great deal, and I’ve grown in many ways, so minimalism looks and feels a little differently for me now than it did back then.

With that in mind, I felt like it would be worthwhile to revisit this topic, because quite honestly it has become foundational in my way of life and it is going to be a springboard for much of what is to come on this blog. So before I dive in any further I think it’s valuable to define my style of minimalism – because not only can it vary from season to season, it can also vary from person to person. I don’t live in a 300 square foot apartment and I can’t fit all of my possessions in a suitcase, but I can still consider myself a minimalist in my own regard. I like how Joshua Becker (creator of Becoming Minimalist) defines minimalism as, “living with things you really need. It means removing anything that distracts us from living with intentionality and freedom.”

Do you see how that can look very different for each person? You don’t have to live in a tiny house or wear the same uniform every day or limit yourself to one set of silverware to be a minimalist. You certainly can if that is what works for you and brings you freedom. But it’s not a requirement.

So what do I personally mean when I refer to minimalism in my life?

I think the best way I can define it is a mindset and way of life that helps me pursue LESS of what bogs me down so I can focus MORE on what fills me up. It often equates to living my life more fully by filling my life with less. Less stuff, yes. But it also extends beyond that. Over the last 5+ years minimalism has led me to:

Own less clothes & get more wears out of the ones I have.
Wear less make up & take more care of my skin.
Have less clutter & therefore more mental clarity.
Waste less money & spend more thoughtfully.
Have less (read: no) debt & more financial freedom.
Eat less junk & consume more nutritious food.
Buy better quality & therefore get more use out of what I purchase.
Hang on to less junk “just because” & find more value in what I keep.
Have less stress & more boundaries.
Have less distractions & more motivation and focus.
Hurry less & have more structure in routines.
Compare less & have more contentment.
Feel less guilt & experience more grace.
Commit to less obligations & connect more deeply with people.

Less of what bogs me down. More of what fills me up.

Simply having less just for the sake of having less is not the point. That will leave me empty the same way having more just for the sake of having more will. But when I narrow in on what I gain from what I shed – that’s where it gets good. I want my time, money, attention, and affection to go towards what matters more in the long run. And I want to ditch the weight of the things that demand so much of those precious resources, and leave me empty.

And so, minimalism has developed into living my life with intention. Because as I clean out the clutter and excess, I gain a clearer vision on what’s working, and what’s not working. I am able to make better informed decisions to live a more meaningful and fulfilling life. Decisions as small as what kind of socks I wear or what kind of food I’ll eat today, to as big as what I want to do for a living or what kind of legacy I want to have. Thought can go into all of it. In fact, I believe thought must go into all of it regularly. Because as I age, learn, and grow, or as my needs or desires change in different stages and seasons, intention can look differently, so there’s always room to reassess.

While at times the elusiveness may feel overwhelming or exhausting, I’m learning to find it liberating. It means there is no one standard of the way life is lived. It means I can shift when something isn’t working for me. It means it is more about the journey than any destination. It means I am still able to be completely and wholly me, even as I change. There’s no box I have to be caged in by in order to be a minimalist. Instead, minimalism has been a tool that has helped me clear out the physical, mental, and emotional space I already reside, and reveal just how expansive my life can be.

So what exactly does minimalism LOOK like in my life then? Well, that’s the exciting part – because it looks like a whole slew of things that I’m looking forward to sharing more about here on this blog. What’s in my closet, how we utilize our finances, how I manage my time – all of these and more are affected by this way of thinking. And I’m so excited to share more about it with you all.

Until then, I’d love to hear from you! What are your thoughts on minimalism? What could you use less of in your life, and what could you use more of? Let me know in the comments below!

the little things // vol. 3

I’m back with another installment of The Little Things. This series was started as a way to share some simple things that have been impacting my life in big ways. Because it’s the little things in life that add up to make the greatest of impacts. I have received some of my best recommendations for products, books, podcasts, or life tips from blogs, podcasts, or friends, so I wanted to be a pal and pass along some things I’m loving with you all.

(For previous posts of The Little Things, check out vol. 1 and vol. 2)

Here are five little things that have been making a big impact this month:

1. The Office Ladies podcast

Calling all fans of The Office – if you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t heard, Jenna Fischer & Angela Kinsey started a podcast last year as they rewatch the entire series, and dive deep into details on each episode. It’s full of nostalgia and behind-the-scenes information of this amazing comedy, occasionally including some of their former co-stars as guests. If you are a fan of The Office and you haven’t given this a listen yet, hop on over to your favorite podcast source and enjoy! (And if you’re not a fan of The Office, then do yourself a favor and soak it up while you can during its last year on Netflix).

2. Pilates (specifically through The Balanced Life Sisterhood)

After being introduced to the Balanced Life podcast with Robin Long, I was inadvertently turned on to try out some of her at-home pilates workouts last fall. I enjoyed the intentional movements that aim to create better posture alignment, core strength, and muscle balance. But at the time I already had a solid workout regime that was working for me, and I didn’t want to invest any further if I knew I couldn’t commit. Fast forward a couple months and I was in search of a new workout routine as the gym I worked at closed. Robin’s motivating mantra of ‘grace over guilt’ and her countercultural approach to health and wellness stuck with me and I wanted more of that pouring into my life, so it felt like the opportune time to give The Balanced Life Sisterhood membership a try. I started on the first of the year, and I am 100% loving it. I enjoy the workouts and the variety of strengths they are helping me maintain and develop. I love the attention to detail on each movement to ensure proper form to prevent injury). I truly look forward to spending time on my mat each day. It’s been an amazing addition to my workout routine.

3. Single Column Journaling Bible (currently sold out, similar option)

I recently invested in what I refer to as my “dream Bible.” I love to write notes in the empty spaces of my Bible to remember the things the Lord teaches me about it, and for the last 6-7 years I’ve squeezed as much writing as possible into the small margins on the Bible I’ve had. I’ve been eyeing a journaling Bible for quite some time, and came across this beauty awhile back, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to spend the money to replace something I already had. This Bible stood the test of time in my mind, though, and for me that often implies a worthy investment. On Black Friday I took advantage of a sale and finally purchased this perfect-for-me Bible. I love all of the extra margin space to take notes, and it is larger print so it expands the space even further. Plus, the cover is a soft leather that I can’t get enough of, and it’s ESV which is my preferred translation. My suggestion is that whether this is the Bible of your dreams, or not, find yourself one that fits what you want, and love it for years and years to come. It makes it all the more thrilling to open up the Word of God.

4. Praying for someone each day

A new habit I’ve been working on establishing this year has been intentionally praying for someone each day. I spend a lot of time journaling prayers and thoughts to God and sorting through some of my own mess, and when circumstances arise I will pray for someone as needed. But in an attempt to increase my compassion and regard for others this year (read more about that in my 2020 goals here), the thought came to me to more mindfully pray for someone each day – regardless of if a circumstance comes up or not. This has looked like praying for someone on their birthday, praying for a friend I spent time with the day before, praying for someone I’m supposed to chat with that day, or praying for someone that showed up in a dream. I’ve only been practicing this habit for a few weeks, and it seems that it’s already helping me think more about others and consider how life may be weighing on them, and in turn helping me to empathize and care for them through prayer.

5. Shark Steam Mop

Now that I have one, I’m not sure how it’s taken me so long to get one, because I am loving the ease and practicality of having a steam mop. Up until this point I’ve been using a Swifer wet jet to clean our floors, and while it’s done a fair job, I wanted something that was capable of some more effective cleaning. I was also ecstatic to realize that I wouldn’t need to regularly purchase cleaning fluid or cleaning pads either. Once I got the mop and started using it, it quickly showed how much better it is at cleaning my floors (i.e. it was able to clean up spots that had been on our floors for months from the dogs that the Swifer couldn’t even do damage on). My only fear is that we have laminate floors and there were many reviews that exercised caution over it, but I’ve been using mine on the lowest setting and following the creases as my mop instructions suggest for our floors, so we’ll see how it all holds up. I sure hope it does because it’s made cleaning the floors 10x more enjoyable, cost effective, and efficient.


And that’s all for today friends – five little things that have been making a big impact on my life in the last month. I hope that one (or more) or these meets a need in your own life and benefits you as much as it has benefitted me. If you give any of these little things a try (or if you already utilize them) let me know in the comments below with what you think!

Until next time,

horsetooth mountain

Since moving to Cheyenne and having close access to the Rockies, we have developed an ever increasing interest in hiking and spending time in the mountains. But growing up in the flat plains of Illinois means neither of us have a great deal of experience with the hobby, so we’ve been patiently allowing ourselves grace to learn and acclimate. Even in doing so, the process has still been enjoyable.

Last summer was our second in this area, so it was our second go at getting out and exploring the beautiful places that we live so close to. One of the first hikes of the season for us was Horsetooth Mountain. Nestled in the foothills just west of Fort Collins, this mountainous area offered us some beautiful views and a different perspective of a town we have spent a fair amount of time in.

We took on this hike in mid-July, so it was definitely a sweaty one. We found parking at the Horsetooth Mountain trailhead, but it seems we lucked out because there were only one or two spots left when we arrived. It was $9 for a day pass. We started our hike around 9-9:15am, and we were done within about 3 hours. We followed the Horsetooth Rock Trail which was about 4.5 miles round trip and had about 1400 ft elevation gain. I would say the hike was appropriately labeled moderate, with the harder, steeper portions being towards the end. At the very top we had to do a bit of scrambling to get to the peak, but it was reasonable for novices when done carefully. The views were definitely worth it. On one side of the ridge was a more lush view overlooking the Reservoir and Fort Collins, while the other side was more dry as it led deeper into the mountain region. We enjoyed a snack at the top before heading down. All in all, it was a fun hike and a great way to spend a morning.

Until next time,

what I read in 2019

I know, I know – It’s the latter half of January. Aren’t all the 2019 recaps over with? But in case you are on the search from some new reads, I wanted to put some options on your radar. Today I’m sharing about the nine books I finished in 2019. It can sometimes feel daunting to determine if a book is worth our time, so hopefully this helps take some of the guess work out of these options. I hope you find at least one that piques your interest!

Reading People: How Seeing The World Through The Lens Of Personality Changes Everything by Anne Bogel | My Rating: 4.5 Stars

This book gives a nice overview of many different personality frameworks (i.e. Myers Briggs, the Five Love Languages, Strengths Finder, and the ever popular Enneagram) in a way that helps you better identify who you are at your core, as well as better understand others. When we seek to really know ourselves and know each other, we can have a greater appreciation for our differences and find ways to come together – each with our own strengths – rather than cast each other apart.

Lagom: Not Too Little, Not Too Much: The Swedish Art of Living a Balanced, Happy Life by Niki Brantmark | My Rating: 3 Stars

This was a quick little read, but it’s more like a good coffee table book. It dips into Swedish culture and how so many aspects of it are impacted by this concept of “not too little, not too much,” which is quite radical in comparison to the American way of life. It’s a concept that coincides well with what I value in minimalism. This book covers how this mentality can affect all facets of life – our homes, our clothes, our schedules, our parenting, our relationships, and more. It gave some simple, practical ideas of how to live life with slow intention.

Discipline Equals Freedom: Field Manual by Jocko Willink | My Rating: 4 Stars

My husband has been a fan of Jocko’s methods of motivation and discipline for years, so I’ve been on the receiving end of many Jocko-fueled pep talks in my time. But I picked this book up for myself because discipline and boundaries truly do bring freedom to my life, so I wanted some extra reinforcement on that. Made up of short essays of motivation and tough love from the perspective of a former Navy Seal, this book is filled with quotable statements to push you to get after it. Jocko also includes his thoughts and methods for nutrition and exercise, even incorporating some workouts of his own for you to try.

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown | My Rating: 4 Stars

This is another book on this list that aligns with the concept of minimalism and how our typical tendencies to live overstuffed, rushed, and busy lives is draining us and preventing us from enjoying what really matters. This book formats practical ways to be more selective in how we spend our most precious resources: our time and attention. It’s about doing less, but better, in every aspect of our lives. You’ll come away from this book equipped with ways to set better boundaries, as well as fuel to chase after what you deem to be essential in your own life.

Imperfect Courage: Live a Life of Purpose by Leaving Comfort and Going Scared by Jessica Honegger | My Rating: 5+ Stars

This was the first of three books I read last year that quite literally shook me. God was just in the beginning stages of revealing to me how much I cling to comfort and this book reached into those dark crevices in my soul that I try to hide and lovingly exposed them. As Jessica shares her own story of fear and struggle, and how her business (Noonday Collection) came to exist through it, she connects strongly with the reader to encourage action, despite the presence of fear, in order to live a more fulfilling and impactful life. This book feels deeply personal and it radiates a vibe of chatting with a friend over coffee. The kind of chat that you don’t walk away the same from.


You Are the Girl for the Job: Daring to Believe the God Who Calls You by Jess Connolly | My Rating: 5+ Stars

Book #2 of 2019 that wrecked me was this one right here. I’m a big underliner when I read, and I’d dare to say that more than half of this book is COVERED in ink. While the title can make you think this is another “you go girl” pep-talk kind of book, it’s rather a disarming, yet equipping coaching session that spurs readers on to live unconventionally in wild abandon and obedience to God. My favorite summary of it is that our obedience + God’s capacity = abundance. Unbeknownst to me, this book prepared and equipped me for the current season I am in, and it has even been shepherding me through it as I just finished it for a second time in six months (it’s that powerful). If I could give you one book recommendation out of this entire list, this would be it, without hesitation.


Something Needs to Change: A Call to Make Your Life Count in a World of Urgent Need by David Platt | My Rating: 5 Stars

This book was a very fitting follow to ‘You are the Girl for the Job’ because it was basically an example of someone seeking to live in obedience to God and trust in His capacity to endure through a heavy journey. David Platt is one of my all time favorite authors and preachers, and it was no surprise that this book was the third one of the year to rock me to my core. Different from his typical book format, this is more story-like as it follows what feels like his otherworldly journey through the Himalayas to encounter people who have never even heard of Jesus, and how it wrecked his soul. While at times heavy, it was an incredible chance to stop ignoring the reality of the broken world we live in. I will say, don’t read this book if you aren’t ready for a solid gut punch that could change your life. Then again, even if you aren’t ready for that, I hope you still do.


The Wellness Revelation: Lose What Weighs You Down So You Can Love God, Yourself, and Others by Alisa Keeton | My Rating: 4 Stars

After three attempts starting in 2018, I finally finished this book last year – not because it wasn’t good, but because it was dense with a lot of truth that I needed to hear and sift through. As I’ve been on a journey to seek health in a way that worships God rather than fueling my own empty, vain pursuits, Alisa provided a countercultural perspective on health and wholeness which helped lead me to even more freedom in this area. The book has an eight week work book format that includes reading, studying the Word, responding to questions, and taking steps towards spiritually healthy eating and exercise. While in the end I didn’t follow the exact format of the “program” for my own reasons, the truths shared within the book, as well as the questions that helped me to deeply reflect, allowed me to shift my motivations and mindset towards my health. This will definitely be a resource for me for many years to come.


More or Less: Choosing a Lifestyle of Excessive Generosity by Jeff Shinabarger | My Rating: 3.5 Stars

If you haven’t already noticed the trends of books I like to read lately, this is another that falls in line with intentional living and focusing on what matters most. Jeff shares about how he found a variety of areas of life that he had more than enough, and then how he and his wife tried multiple “experiments” to challenge their limits and redefine what generosity can look like as a result. Some were simple and easily repeatable, while others seemed out-there and more challenging. Regardless of if you take on some “enough experiments” of your own, Jeff goes first to share how we all too easily live in excess, and we have more than enough to generously give to others.


Well there you have it – the nine books that I managed to start and finish in 2019. They all challenged my thinking in some way or another, and some of them quite literally changed my life. I’m looking forward to another year of reading that will hopefully do the same.

I hope at least one of these books sparks your interest and makes it onto your must-read list for 2020. Let me know if it does! And I’d also love to hear about your favorite reads to possibly expand my own list. Let me know in the comments!

Until next time,