coffee date // vol. 3

Well hey friend, it’s been a little while since we’ve caught up so I’m thrilled that we were able to carve out some time for a coffee date today. When we last did this, I was on the cusp of a new season of life [read more here], so it’s only natural that the first question that rolls off your tongue as we cozy up is regarding that.

You ask what I’ve been up to and how I’m enjoying staying at home right now. And while it’s truly been good, it also has felt slightly complicated. In the grand scheme of things, it hasn’t felt like I’ve been up to much, and yet I constantly feel like I don’t have enough time to do all the things I want to do. I’ve spent the last few months figuring out new routines so I can continue to be productive and live my days intentionally, especially when it comes to blogging – which I’ll get to in a minute – but I still feel like I’m finding my footing with it, and figuring out the most successful rhythms. I’ve been trying to capitalize on this time and space that I’ve got by taking the best possible care of myself and setting up a good structure to build off of in whatever season is to come next. But I can’t help but feel that everything I’m doing is very basic, because I was maintaining many of the same areas of life while I was still working. And I’d be lying if I said that being unemployed hasn’t rocked my identity a bit. But I keep finding myself overly grateful for the extra time to invest more into these valuable areas of life. I’ve had the space to figure things out amidst the changes, to process all that is happening in my life, and to prepare for whatever might be next. And the timing of it all has proven to be graciously not-so-coincidental.

You see, I recently recognized that we’re in the midst of a limbo season, and it primarily hinges on our timeline with the Air Force. In short, we were due to move on to our next base this fall, but there’s now a good probability that we could be extended here longer and would then expect to move next summer. But, in true military fashion, we don’t have a definitive answer one way or the other yet. And even if we’ve been told that the odds are high that we will be staying put a little longer, I’ve learned to not let myself believe that something is certain with the Air Force until we have it in writing, or until it actually happens. So that leaves us still waiting on a final answer.

I’m not necessarily stressed about the outcome – there are positives to each option for us, so I don’t think I’ll be disappointed either way. But what I have been finding to be a bit more weighty is that every other life decision feels like it is on hold while we wait. Our travel plans, our involvement in our church and other activities, home improvement ideas, my employment status, purchasing a new car, and just overall decisions for our family – they all feel dependent on when we will be moving. Because there is a big difference between moving in seven months, and moving in fifteen. And so at this point I’m coping by not making any further big decisions until we know the answer to that. Hence, our limbo season.

But we seem to be doing okay with it. We’re hoping to know more by the end of the month (maybe…), but until then, I’m trying to just lean into the tension of the in-between by taking whatever next right steps I can. I might not know the exact destination or timeline we’re headed towards, but that doesn’t mean I should stop living.

And one way I’ve been trying to lean in is by figuring out my blog. You might remember that as a result of my strong sense of calling to invest into this space, one of my 2020 goals is to treat blogging like it’s my job – AKA I’m trying to take it seriously, devote time and attention to it, and give myself some structure to work on it. And I’m still very much figuring this out. I came out the gate in January full speed ahead with pumping out two posts a week, which was my goal, but as I continued that pace into February, I felt myself burning out quickly by the middle of the month. While some things were going well, it was evident that other things weren’t working on the back end, so that led me to reassess my tactics. And in doing so, I came to the epiphany that it is okay for my blog to be a work in progress. It is okay for me to experiment with different tactics until I land on what works best for me. While I benefit from resources and wisdom from successful bloggers, I’m accepting that I can pave my own path and write my own story – especially because my measure of success is likely a bit different than the norm.

So I’ve recently felt a bit freed up to figure out what works for ME. And in doing so I have given myself permission to embrace experimentation; to allow myself to trial and error; to let go of my fear of failure because the only way I’m going to figure out what works for me is to actually put things to work. I recently read the quote “Be brave enough to suck at something new.” And while blogging in itself isn’t entirely new to me, growing it into what I want it to be is. And so it is okay for me to flail and get scrappy and get a bit roughed up if in the end it leads to me knowing exactly how I want to continue with it. The only person that is demanding anything of me and my blog right now, is me. So it’s time I take the pressure off and allow myself to figure out how I can sustainably enjoy it. And oh, let me tell ya, what a sense of relief that’s been.

As we continue to chat and sip on our coffees, I exhaust the topics of my life, and start asking about you. I want to hear all about what you’ve been up to lately. What’s been bringing you joy? What’s been hard? It’s always so rejuvenating for me to connect over the realness of life, and I’m so glad to have a friend like you to do that with.

We finish our drinks, wrap up our conversation, and give each other a big hug, agreeing (like we always do) that we really should do this more often.

Until next time friend,

the little things // vol. 4

As we end off another month, I’m here to share another installment of The Little Things – an ongoing series where I 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 from blogs, podcasts, or friends, so I want to be a pal and pass along some things I’m loving with you all, in case you might find some value in them too. Here’s what’s I’ve been enjoying in February:

The newest addition to my skincare routine: Primally Pure Cleansing Oil

Back in December my face hit an exceptionally high dry spell. I think it was due to a perfect storm of our typical dry climate, the cold weather, and possibly an overuse of some of my skin care products. As I worked to revive my skin, I tried a few different tactics, but one in particular was Primally Pure’s Cleansing Oil. I have done oil cleansing in the past with coconut oil, but strayed away from the habit awhile back (if you’re unfamiliar with oil cleansing, you can read more about it here). I had recently heard numerous recommendations of this specific product, and my overly dry face was desperate enough for some rejuvenation that I ordered the dry skin blend. After two months of use I can officially say that it has become a new staple in my skin care routine. My skin feels much cleaner, softer, and hydrated when I use this in combination with a handful of other products. It feels like I’m giving myself a small spa treatment each night when I use it. It smells lovely and is made with all natural, organic ingredients. If you’re interested in giving it, or any of Primally Pure’s products, a try you can get 10% off your first order here (and I’ll end up getting a little bit of store credit as well).

A tried & true healthy habit: Starting my day with a full glass of water

Along the same lines of combatting dryness, this habit has been benefitting me in a variety of ways. Ever since we moved to Cheyenne over two years ago, the elevation and drier climate have increased my body’s susceptibility to dehydration, so I’ve been working to maintain a high water intake ever since. One way I do that is by starting off my day with a full glass of water before I do anything else. Before a cup of coffee (which I’m actually taking a step back from), before I eat anything, before I settle in for my morning quiet time, I drink a full glass of water. There are what feels like endless benefits to drinking enough water each day (I myself have seen it improve my skin, hair, digestion, energy, mental clarity and more), but most people are drinking far less than the suggested amount. So I’ve found that a helpful way to ensure I kickstart my intake is getting a full glass in before anything else. I’d suggest giving it a try to see what it can do for you.

My all time favorite candle: Yankee Candle’s Pink Sands

As the days slowly become longer and the sun is shining a little bit brighter, I’ve been getting my first waves of spring fever. Even though winter will still be around for a bit here in Wyoming, my mental state is shifting, so I’m preparing myself for warmer days ahead. One way I’ve been doing that is by setting the mood in my house with one of my all time favorite candles: Pink Sands. While I typically opt for Bath & Body Work’s candles, this one has been a favorite of both me and my husband for at least ten years, and it still holds strong. Between it’s satisfying scent and the nostalgia I have for it, it helps foster some warm weather feels, which I’m all about right now.

An encouraging podcast episode: What to Do When You Doubt You Have What It Takes (She Podcast)

I very recently was introduced to Jordan Dooley on Instagram, and quickly found the She Podcast in lieu of that. I’ve only listened to a couple episodes so far, but this episode in particular was a huge dose of encouragement for me as of late. It’s fairly short but it packs a punch. I’ve listened to it twice through already, and I found myself taking notes of a few things she shared. I’d highly recommend it if you are in any way struggling with some self doubt.

My 2020 Planner: Get To Work Book

I’ve been following Elise Cripe online for 5-6 years now and I’ve witnessed the creation of her planner business, but I didn’t take the plunge and purchase one until this year. I’ve learned that I’m a bit of a planner snob and when I was in the market for a new one for 2020, I took another peek at the Get To Work Book and realized that it checked all the boxes for my preferences. It’s minimal, simple, sturdy, and has plenty of space for making notes in the margins. Plus there are extra pages for project planning and goal setting. I’ll be honest that I was hesitant at first with the price tag, but it’s proved to be a quality planner that I’ve loved so far, and it’s supporting the small business of a pretty awesome gal. If you haven’t gotten a planner yet for this year, the Jan 2020-Dec 2020 Get To Work Book is currently on sale so now is a great time to snatch one up.

Honorable Mention: Pilates…again

I know I shared this last month, but pilates through The Balanced Life has continued to be an incredibly life-giving practice for me, and they have an offer right now that is too good not to share. They just announced a FREE online 5-day Pilates challenge designed to build strength and reduce stress in just 15 minutes per day. If you’ve been considering giving pilates a try, or if you are looking for simple, quick & effective workouts to fit into your busy life, NOW is a fantastic time to check out The Balanced Life. I honestly can’t recommend it enough. You can find out more details and sign up here.

And there you have it – five (well, technically six) little things that have been making a big impact in my life this month. I hope if you give any of these things a try that they add value to your life and make a big impact for you too. You’ll have to let me know if you end up trying any of them OR if any of them are already little things in your own life!

Until next time friends,

P.S. For previous recommendations from The Little Things series, check out vol. 1vol. 2, vol. 3

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,