Saturday, January 31, 2015

2015 Goals Progress: January

Most New Year's resolutions are abandoned by February (or that is at least what I heard from The Office). In an effort to actually reach some of my goals, I need to plan, monitor my progress, reevaluate the plan, and seek guidance when the plan isn't working. You can read about the goals I made for myself at the beginning of 2015 here.

1. Financial

Credit card debt- This month, I really focused on trying to get a handle on my budget and make room for more money to be given towards debt reduction. In January, I had a little extra month from birthday and Christmas gifts, so I was able to put down a lot more than I had budgeted. I reduced my credit card debt by 37%. I won't be able to put that much down every month, but it was a great jump start towards completing this goal.

MoneyCar Loan- My car payment in $267, but I pay a little more than that each month. I wasn't able to put down any more than I normally do, so I am still on track to reducing my loan by 50% by the end of the year.

Emergency Fund- I realized that this goal might be harder for me to reach by the end of the year. If I really want to focus on debt reduction, then this goal might be pushed to the back burner until the credit card debt is taken care of. Still, I was able to put some money towards this goal, so its still progress.

2. Spiritual
Digging into God's Word- I connect with the Chronological Reading plan; I love reading the story of redemption from start to finish. I also like to magnify into one book of the Old Testament and one from the New Testament each year. I am using a study guide on Colossians that was published by Kathleen Nielson in the Spring, and then use on Psalms in the Fall.

Prayer Warrior- I have been using the PrayerMate app on my phone for a few months now, and it has really helped to remember specific prayer requests. This app has helped to keep me focused during prayer and has helped me to be more proactive in asking people for their prayer requests.

3. Physical

In January I was supposed to go fast food free. I definitely eat less fast food, but wasn't totally fast food free. February, I will try the not fast food thing again. The other goal will be to drink only water all day, except for my one cup of coffee in the morning.

During a doctor's visit at the end of December, my doctor had me get on a scale, and the scale read a number I had never seen before. The number was the heaviest I had ever been. It was a little bit of a shock, and I left her office feeling defeated, but also motivated to focus on getting healthy, since my cancer has been taken care of. For someone with a thyroid issue, its not easy to loose weight, or at least that is my experience, so I am still saying that my priority is health, not trying to fit into my size 4 clothes from before my cancer diagnosis, even thought that would be nice.

Since the New Year started, I have lost 8.9 pounds. This loss was a result of making healthier choices and spending less time on the couch. In an effort to be more active, I decided to quit Facebook for a while. I am keeping my blog page up the date on Facebook, but I have stopped using Facebook personally.

4. Other

Hospitality- This goal was the host someone in my apartment at least once a month. This month, I didn't have an opportunity to have someone in my apartment. This next month, I have planned for a friend to stay with me for a weekend.

Volunteering- This month, I have contacted a few places for volunteer, most of which work with students. I work with middle schoolers every day, and an older and wiser teacher suggested that I find somewhere to volunteer that doesn't involved students. She suggested that it help me broaden my horizons, instead of keeping me in my comfort zone. I am starting over this next month to try to find some other places that I could volunteer.

Here is to progress and reaching goals!

Are you new around here? Start here. You can also "Like" the Facebook Page and subscribe to He will be faithful to complete it... by Email. Both are a great way to stay connected and find out when new posts go live. At the end of this post, there will be suggested posts, check them out. Also, you can use the right side of this blog to explore other topics as well. Thanks again for stopping by and I hope that the Lord uses these words to bless you today. If you are blessed by these posts, go ahead and leave a comment, I dare you :)  

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Singleness Saturday: Getting Hurt

Broken Heart Grunge For anyone looking for a spouse, there is always a risk of rejection, pain, and hurt along the way.

This pain hasn't passed over me, and I have felt the pain of rejection and hurt a few times. While in graduate school, I was attending a university in Virginia and my friend was attended a university in Texas. We had met each other in undergrad and we shared a few classes and became good friends. During our four years in undergrad, we had grown to become better friends, and our last semester put us in situations were we were together most days.

After graduation, we still kept in touch, using Facebook and texting to stay connected. Several times, we video chatted for hours at a time. We talked about most things, communicating came easy and we enjoyed talking to each other. Through out the whole friendship, I always had it in the back of my mind that he would someone I could see myself marrying. But he never mentioned any intention to move beyond friendship. Even though we had never talked about dating each other, the amount of time that we did spend in communication starting getting very confusing to me.

Since we lived far away from each other, spending time in person was almost nonexistent. Coincidentally, we happen to be in the same place at the same time, so we planned to hang out. We ended up spending about ten hours together, and at the end of the day, I was even more confused.

I couldn't keep up with the friendship without knowing what he was thinking. So I asked him. I told him that the time we were spending together was leading me to think there was something else other than friendship going on, and I needed to know his intentions. From his perspective, our relationship was nothing more than friends.

It was so painful to hear those words, and my preexisting confusion only seemed to persist with this new knowledge. It left me with more questions than answers.

How can two people experience the same thing, and yet have two different understands of what was going on?

How could I have let myself feel like I was getting left in the dust when he told me that he had tried to muster up some romantic feelings for me, but couldn't quite get there?

How could I possess many of the qualities that he was looking for in a spouse (many of which were of the most importance) and yet he feel nothing?

That was two and half years ago, and it hurt to relive that conversation for a long time. It hurt to know that I wasn't picked. It hurt to know that he tried to have feelings for me, but couldn't. A couple months later, it hurt to see on Facebook that he had changed his relationship status. For a while it just hurt.

Slowly the hurt faded away. "Time heals all wounds".
During that "time" there were a few things that I did to help me through:

1. Seek God
Seeking God in the middle of pain and hurt can dramatically help your perspective and keep you from diving into destructive thoughts. There is a tendency to blame the other person for the failed relationship, but seeking God first helps put it all into perspective. God uses hurt to refine us, so I was able to step back and view all of this as a step in my sanctification process. Seeking God also helped me to not blame the guy for not being able to reciprocate my feelings. I was also very quick to judge him and tell myself that it was his fault for "leading me on", which was untrue. Seeking God helped me realize that I was reading too much into everything and was getting too emotionally involved.

2. Distanced myself from the guy
This situation was unique in that I was not forced to see him every day. If you are in school or work with someone you are trying to distance yourself from it is much harder.
I resisted the urge to text him, and to look obsessively at his Facebook. When he started dating his now wife, I had to "unfollow" him so that none of his updates came up in my newsfeed. Someone had suggested that to me, and I thought it was foolish and kind of immature, but it was one of the most practical and helpful things that I did.

3. Pray for him
I prayed for him to find someone that he would be more compatible with. It was only a few months later that he did find someone that he had a spark with and felt the same away about him. I prayed for his relationship and if it was to lead to marriage, then it would be a Christ honoring marriage.

4. Invite community in.
When I came home from seeing him in person, and I was trying to decide to ask him about his intentions, I asked two of my friends to help me process what I was thinking, they even helped me craft the best way to say what I wanted to say. One of those friends was a guy, it was helpful to have his perspective. It was even more helpful to have my male friend's perspective afterwards. He was able to speak truth into my life, reminding me that my identity is in Christ and not in a guy. Having guy friends and having guys speak truth into your life is a whole another post, but it was very helpful.

Getting hurt is never fun. Its never easy to deal with, but it is life refining. The Lord uses pain to help sanctify us.

Are you new around here? Start here. You can also "Like" the Facebook Page and subscribe to He will be faithful to complete it... by Email. Both are a great way to stay connected and find out when new posts go live. Thanks again for stopping by and I hope that the Lord uses these words to bless you today. 

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2015 New Year's Resolutions

Happy new year HAPPY 2015!

New's Year Eve marks the end of another year. For many people, they use this time off to reflect of things that they could do to make themselves or their lives better in the New Year.

Here are the list of my goals for the New Year and a brief description of my plan to accomplish that goal.

1. Financial
Credit card debt- I have been slowly chipping away at some credit card debt that I have. I am determined to get rid of it this year. In order to achieve this goal, I am taking my credit cards out of my wallet (so that they aren't there to be used) and adjusting my budget so that more money goes to paying down the debt. This means that I am giving up money in other budget categories, like money for entertainment, restaurants and extras.

MoneyCar Loan- I bought a car in 2013, and my month loan payment in pretty low. I have been paying more than the monthly payment for the whole time I have had the loan. I don't know that I will be able to pay off the whole loan in the next 12 months, but I do want to reduce the loan by 50% by the end of 2015.

Emergency Fund- If you are a Dave Ramsey fan, you know that building an emergency fund is one of the first steps in his financial independence plan. His standard is to have an emergency fund that has enough money in it to cover your expenses for three to six months. Right now, I have a little more than one month saved up. My goal is to have at least three months saved by the end of the year.

Each of these financial goals means that I will be making financial sacrifices in other areas. This means less money spent on frivolous things, making phone calls to my insurance and cable companies asking for any potential discounts and canceling of services so that I can free up money that will go towards these goals. I might be giving up my Netflix service. Each individual financial change seems like a drop in the bucket, but together, they can add up quickly. I will possibility be making a change to a cash envelope system to also help reach these goals.

2. Spiritual
Digging into God's Word- I don't really know what this looks like yet, but I am praying for 2015 to be a year where I dig into God's Word like never before. I am going to be using the ESV Journaling Bible this year and the ESV Chronological reading plan for my devotional time.

I used the Chronological plan in 2014 and really connected with the progression through the Bible. I love stories, so I really connect with reading the Bible through in one year in my devotional time, and then spend considerable amount of time studying one book at a time in my studying time. This way I am getting both the big picture of the story of redemption, but also close focus into a book.

Prayer Warrior- I have always admired the prayer warriors in my life and been envious of their relationship with the Lord. I have started to use an app for my phone called PrayerMate and I love it! It has helped me organize my prayer life, and has really helped me remember all the items that I want to pray about.

3. Physical
Now that I have been cancer free for 4.5 years, there is no excuse for me to take my physical health seriously. Doctors have told me for a few years now that they are concerned about my weight gain since my treatment for thyroid cancer. In total, I have gained a total of 40 pounds, but was about 15 pounds overweight to begin with.
I don't think that its sustainable to try to get down to my pre cancer weight, and I am not really willing to say, "I want to lose 40 pounds this year", but I am determined to become healthier. This means taking a look at what I am choosing to eat and drink and making changes. This also means make changes in my schedule to allow more time for exercise.
Each month, I will be making a dietary change. January will be fast food free month. Studies have shown that if you cook at home, the food is considerably better for you. Also cooking at home is considerably less expensive than consistently eating outside the home.
I will also be using an paid app called myfooddiary to keep track of caloric intake and exercise. It also tracks your weight and how close you are to your goal weight. This app will calculate your daily caloric needs and give you guidance on where your food choices might be sabotaging you diet.

4. Other
Hospitality-  I want to make it a point to host more people in my home. Whether that is a meal, coffee, or a movie night I want to open my home it more people. I have a small apartment, so I can't go too crazy with big parties, but I can have a few people over and have them enjoy my home. My goal is to host at least one person at least once a month.

Volunteering- I want to find a place to volunteer this year. I spent a lot of my time in high school and in college volunteering in various capacities. Since then, I haven't really spent much time giving up my time to volunteering. As a goal, I want to find and establish a relationship with a volunteer group before the end of January and then start volunteering in February.

Some of these seem like daunting goals, especially the financial and physical goals. Just looking at my list, I am a little intimidated by them. This is way many of my goals have monthly plans to them, so that at the end of each month, I can evaluate if I am any closer to reaching this goal.

What are some of your goals?
Are you new around here? Start here. You can also "Like" the Facebook Page and subscribe to He will be faithful to complete it... by Email. Both are a great way to stay connected and find out when new posts go live. At the end of this post, there will be suggested posts, check them out. Also, you can use the right side of this blog to explore other topics as well. Thanks again for stopping by and I hope that the Lord uses these words to bless you today. If you are blessed by these posts, go ahead and leave a comment, I dare you :)  

Monday, November 10, 2014

Meditation Monday: Praying for Your Church

A very encouraging inspirational
quote about prayer
Prayer. Its an ancient practice that is meant to help us be in communion with our God. Being in church, it doesn't take long to realize that prayer doesn't come naturally to most people, and even its hard for people to even know how to begin. I have written a few posts on prayer (you can read them here and here ), but I struggle with consistency in my prayer life. Over the past few years, the Lord has taken me on a journey to broaden my prayer horizons. One of those areas that was broadened was my obedience to pray for the local church body. Here are a few things that I pray for my local church.

1. Church Leadership
This includes praying for the lead pastor, any associate pastors, elders, deacons, and ministry leaders in the church. I pray that the leadership of the church would seek God in their own lives before they try to lead the church and seek God in the direction to take the church. I also pray that there would be unity among the leaders of the church and that the Lord is clear about where the leaders should lead the church.

2. Strong Marriages and Strong Families
When families and marriages are strong, that can only be good for the church. I pray for men to be the leaders of their home, and I pray for women to be partners with their husbands in leading their children in knowledge of the Lord. A strong marriage is a great testimony to the Lord and brings glory to God through their faithfulness to each other, and their repentance/forgiveness when they sin against each other.

3. Singles
Many times, singles lead a very different lifestyle than a family, and it can bring a plethora of talents, gifts and spheres of influence to the church's fingertips.
I pray that singles find community within the church, and that they would seek discipleship and mentorship. I pray that the Lord grows singles in both maturity and numbers. I pray that singles pursue positions of leadership and seek to serve the local church in unique ways.  I also pray that singles are strengthened through their obedience to sexual fidelity (faithfulness to God given sexual boundaries) and that they honor God with their minds and bodies.

4. Non-believers
In each church, there are always people that are part of the community of believers, but who aren't believers. I pray for their salvation, and that the Lord would bless their attendance and turn it into repentance and response to the gospel.

5. Finances
Lack of finances isn't something that is unexpected in the local body, but I pray for the leaders to be smart with the money, and they are being good stewards of what the Lord has provided to meet the needs of the church budget. I pray for the Lord to uniquely cover unexpected costs, and for more members to be loyal to tithing.

6. Cultural Diversity
There a famous quote from Martin Luther King JR, and he said that the most segregated hour of the week was Sunday at 11 a.m. This is mostly still true today, and I can see it in the last several churches I have been a part of. So, I pray for cultural diversity. I pray for cultural sensitivity and awareness. I pray that the Lord provides the people to make it cultural diverse. I don't pray for color-blindness, but cultural appreciation and celebration. I pray for grace, and I pray that we focus on Christ being the common ground, not our cultural preferences.

This is not an exhaustive list, but its a place to start.
Is there anything else you pray for your church? Leave a comment below :)

Are you new around here? Start here. You can also "Like" the Facebook Page and subscribe to He will be faithful to complete it... by Email. Both are a great way to stay connected and find out when new posts go live. At the end of this post, there will be suggested posts, check them out. Also, you can use the right side of this blog to explore other topics as well. Thanks again for stopping by and I hope that the Lord uses these words to bless you today. If you are blessed by these posts, go ahead and leave a comment, I dare you :)  

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Singleness Saturday: Why Am I Still Single?

Closeup of a happy young woman smiling isolated on white backgroundDo you ever ponder this question? Does the way you answer this question leave you feeling empty? Does it create more questions than answers? Do you long for a better explanation and more comfort?

I can tell you, the reasons you are single are not because you have done something wrong, or because of the way you look, or because of you at all. Its all about God. The reasons that you are single all center around who God is and how He wants to display His glory among His people.

God's ultimate desire is to see all peoples come to know Him as Lord and Savior. Everything that He lets us experience is to draw us closer to Him.

Here are just a few encouraging reasons you might be single. 

1. God is faithful and gracious.
"But you, O LORD, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness." Psalm 86:15
"Because of the LORD's great love we are consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." Lamentations 3:22-23 
"And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you with bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." Philippians 1:6 
When we as so unfaithful, God is faithful to His promises and to His people. Understanding that God is faithful to His Word, we can be certain that God is going to make complete what He started in each of us, whether or not that includes marriage. God's desire is to make His name known and to bring glory to Himself. Marriage (and singleness) is a gift of grace, meaning that those that are married are married because God allowed them to be, not because of their merit or qualifications, or that God was happier with them than He is with you. In God's unfailing love and faithfulness, God bestows grace upon grace, and its all for His glory and making His name famous.

2. God is sovereign.
"Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases." Psalm 115:3 
"For I know that the LORD is great, and that our LORD is above all gods. Whatever the LORD pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps." Psalm 135:3
God's sovereign is defined as God has the absolute right to do with His creation as He desires. He takes pleasure in everything He does, since He desires to bring glory to Himself. Trusting in God's sovereignty is very comforting, since I know that He is at work to accomplishing the things in my life. Yes, there is human responsibility in all the decisions that I make, but God's sovereignty its always at work.

3. God desires to bless his people.
"But the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love." Psalm 147:11 
"The LORD will again take delight in prospering you." Deuteronomy 30:9 
God takes pleasure in blessing His people. He blesses His people to bring praise and glory to His name. Singleness can feel like a curse sometimes, but if you are single its because God wants to bless you through it, and in turn bring praise and glory to His name. God's blessings are not like a cosmic vending machine, so we don't always get the blessings that we want, since God sees our lives on a much larger scale than we ever could. But God chooses to bless His people so that we bring praise and glory to His name.

4. Singleness brings glory to God.

Church pastors talk a lot about how a Godly marriage displays God's glory and is a ministry among God's people. Very seldom to they then turn around and explain how singleness brings glory to God. Because of the lack of attention singleness is given by churches, those that are single are left feeling left out of being able to bring God glory through our singleness.

Through my walk with God, there are a few things that I have learned about what it means to bring glory to God through my singleness. It includes embarcing where the Lord has placed me, and being obedient to Him in this season. There are certain things that He asks of singles, being pure in both thought and action is one of them, and another is to be undivded in my service to Him. But both of these take their own forms in marriage.

At the end of the day, as I fall asleep, I must trust that God wants to see the best for me. Knowing that He is faithful, sovereign and desires to bless me, and that my life stage does bring glory to God, rest comes easier.

Are you new around here? Start here. You can also "Like" the Facebook Page and subscribe to He will be faithful to complete it... by Email. Both are a great way to stay connected and find out when new posts go live. Thanks again for stopping by and I hope that the Lord uses these words to bless you today.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Stitch Fix Friday: Fix #2 (August)

Here goes my second Stitch Fix experience, in August. I am a little late in getting this post out, the end of summer and the beginning of the school year has been quite the ride. Below are the list of items that I got in my August Fix. 

In the box, there are always several items in it. Of course, there are the five pieces of clothing/accessories, there is always a personalized style card, a return package, and a price list.

In my first fix, I only kept one item, which I absolutely love! This fix, I asked my stylist to find me a few items that are orange, since that it one of my new school colors. Below are the items that I received in my fix. The ones that I am wearing, I kept. The ones that are on hangers, I set back. All items were sent back because they were too small, not because I didn't like them.

The style card! I love these, they give you great ideas about what to pair with your items.

Loved this top, but alas, it was too small in the bust... story go my life!
These skinny jeans were too small, but I would love to try something like this again.
This was a nice skirt, but it was too small and too short.
I love this sweater, it is oversized and it stays open, with no buttons. Its a great orangey/pink color, and its a great addition to my sweater/cardigan collection.
The white and orange stripped sweater is soft and warm, a great idea for a teacher. I loved it and I am excited to wear it this fall/winter.

This was a great fix, if you would like to try it, check out the website! And check out my first fix!

Are you new around here? Start here. You can also "Like" the Facebook Page and subscribe to He will be faithful to complete it... by Email. Both are a great way to stay connected and find out when new posts go live. At the end of this post, there will be suggested posts, check them out. Also, you can use the right side of this blog to explore other topics as well. Thanks again for stopping by and I hope that the Lord uses these words to bless you today. If you are blessed by these posts, go ahead and leave a comment, I dare you :)  

Friday, July 25, 2014

Stitch Fix Friday: Stitch Fix #1 (July)

Are you new around here? Start here. You can also "Like" the Facebook Page and subscribe to He will be faithful to complete it... by Email. Both are a great way to stay connected and find out when new posts go live. Thanks again for stopping by and I hope that the Lord uses these words to bless you today. 

Maybe you have heard about this new website called, Stitch Fix. The way it works is that the company will ask you to fill out a style profile, and give them what kinds of things you would like to see, and how much you would are willing to spend. You can even include your Pinterest style board in your profile. They assign you a personal stylist and they send you five pieces for you to try on in the privacy of your own home. There is a $20 styling fee, and then each piece is priced separately. If you like items, you can checkout right online, and the ones that you don't like, you send back in the provided packaging, which is already paid for. To read more about how it works, you can read it on their website.
At the time I filled out my style profile, the largest size that they carried was a 14. I was currently a 16, so I committed to losing the weight to get me to be a 14. When I had reached a 14, I arranged for my first Stitch Fix in come at the beginning of July.

I was excited to receive my first fix, and excited to see what my stylist would pick out for me.

In the box, you get these style cards to help you match up what your stylist thinks would go well with the pieces. There is also a paragraph that describes why your stylist picked it for you, and any other information. I thought it was so informative and helpful!

So here are the pieces that my stylist picked out for me. Most of the pictures are of the clothes, not on me, because several of them where either too small, or I just wasn't satisfied with the way they fit.

Pieces #1 and #2
This outfit was actually the one I was most excited about to try on. My stylist said that she wanted me to try these on together, so I did. The green pants are skinny, but they have a lot stretch. These pants felt really great as I put them on and they were comfortable, but when I looked in the mirror, I just think that they showed too much. I sent this item back.

The white shirt is a kind of style that I have never tried. Its a flowy shirt that I usually stay away from, since I have this perception it would make me look bigger, or pregnant. I knew that once it went over my head, it was going to be tight. I have a larger bust, so most shirts in my pants size are too small. This shirt was also sort of see through, which I always have a problem with. I sent this item back.

Piece #3
This blue shirt was very similar to the white shirt, except there is a lace back and its not see through, but the same problem that I had with the white one happened with this one... it was too tight. I sent this one back.

Piece #4
Anyone who knows me well, know that I love cardigans. They are a staple in most of my outfits, and I love them! This had a lace front, and a knit back. For me, the cardigan was too short. My torso is already short, so this made look even shorter. I sent this back.

Piece #5
I prefer to where patterns on my lower half, since I have a smaller lower half, the patterns seem to give the sense of more proportion. So when this houndstooth skirt showed up in my fix, I was super excited about it! Its a slip on skirt, with no zipper, and with an elastic waist band. I love this skirt! I kept this one.

My overall first experience with Stitch Fix was awesome! I expected my first fix to have some things that worked and some things that didn't. I can safely assume that in each fix that will happen, but I know as each fix comes, and I send back my feedback, then each fix can only get better. I have told them that I am currently losing weight, so that my style needs and sizes might change, but so far so good.
If you would like to try it out, check out this link and sign up, its a wonderful way to expand your wardrobe and try new things, without having to spend hours and hours at the mall or outlets. Try it out!

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