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Peace

I have always marveled at those people who choose a word for their year. They’ll end one year by picking a word they want the theme of the new year to be, or they’ll pick a word of significance, maybe something God is teaching them or leading them to. I can never do that. My year always ends up being vastly different at the end of the year than when it started. This year, however, I feel God leading me towards peace.

I struggle with anxiety a lot. It’s like a roller coaster for me; some seasons in my life are consumed by anxiety and some seasons feel like calm waters. This season of my life goes in and out, but I find myself anxious more and more. I know that I can’t do life alone, but sometimes I forget that I can’t beat anxiety alone. I can only do it with God through His peace. I was reminded of this scripture this week:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

~Phillipians 4:6-7

The peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds. I need that. I need the peace of God to guard my heart and my mind. How do I get that? By talking to God. By letting my requests be known to Him in prayer. He already knows what I want and what I need. He knows when I am anxious, and He knows what to do.

Sometimes, I feel like I am too sensitive for this world. I feel too much, too strongly. Things hurt me and bother me more than they do other people. I feel like my heart wasn’t made for this world, but then, maybe it was. Maybe my heart was made exactly as sensitive as it needed to be. Maybe there is purpose in that.

For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.

-Psalm 139:13-16

Today, I am choosing to let God’s peace fill me. I am choosing to put my faith in God, His timing, and His ways instead of in myself, my abilities, and the world and it’s standards. When I do this, I don’t always feel peace crashing over me like a wave. I don’t always feel guarded. I know that I am. I am letting that be enough. I am refusing to let anxiety be the captain of my boat, and instead, let God lead me by still waters.

Do you need peace today? Speak to God. Let your requests be known to Him. Tell Him you are anxious/stressed/mad/sad/whatever. Then trust in Him, because He is faithful, and He will make you a table in the wilderness. May you be able to sing with all of us “it is well with my soul”.

When peace like a river attendeth my way,
when sorrows like sea billows roll;
whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
“It is well, it is well with my soul.”

It is well with my soul;
it is well, it is well with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
let this blest assurance control:
that Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
and has shed his own blood for my soul.

It is well with my soul;
it is well, it is well with my soul.

My sin oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
my sin, not in part, but the whole,
is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more;
praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

It is well with my soul;
it is well, it is well with my soul.

O Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
the clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
the trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend;
even so, it is well with my soul.

It is well with my soul;
it is well, it is well with my soul.

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Doing What’s In Your Hand

“If you are envying someone else’s gift, then you are not accepting the way God made you!”

-Paul Milligan

I am working a Christian conference this week in the UK (*screams internally* It’s ridiculously beautiful here. It’s also very cool!) and so the speakers got to preaching and I got to working. I was typing along on my computer, doing some things for my boss, and then I heard this word spoken: “If you are envying someone else’s gift, then you are not accepting the way God made you!” I had to stop and focus my attention immediately. He said, “You think you need understanding, but what you really need is peace!” Yes and amen and hallelujah.

I am easily influenced by people doing cool shit. I am easily influenced by other people’s dreams, goals, and accomplishments. I see other people doing what God created them for, and I am so proud. I am so happy for them, but then I wonder why I don’t do that. I wonder why I’M not as gifted as they are, or why God didn’t make me like them. Well, that’s because what’s for them WASN’T FOR ME. God has a plan for you (and me), God will use you (and me), and God has given you gifts that are uniquely yours for you to use like only you can. Living in the shadow of someone else’s gift cripples us from using our own. Instead of wanting what God has given someone else, cultivate what God has given YOU!

That sounds all nice and dandy if you know your gift. What if you don’t? What if you are looking at everyone else’s blessings, but you aren’t sure what your purpose is? How can you live in something that you don’t know exists yet? I’m going to tell you, this is one of the hardest things I’ve done, but it’s also one of the easiest. First, I feel you girl. I was there, like, a week ago. I’m still there now sometimes, but God listens. Second, you have to seek. You have to press into God and you have to do some work.

“Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.”

-1 Kings 19:11-12

God’s voice was not in the great and powerful wind, or the earthquake, or the fire. God’s voice was a still, small whisper. This means you have to tune your ears to hear. You have to be listening for Him, and you have to be intentional with talking to God about your purpose. He will reveal it to you. The other work you have to do is grow.

“And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled out, and the skins will be ruined. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins.”

-Luke 5:37-38

If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough. You must grow and change, and that may be uncomfortable. You may feel growing pains, and you may feel like you want to quit. Just stop. Let your wineskins be stretched and grow. There, you will discover and use your gift as God has intended.

Whenever you feel yourself envying the gifts of others, remind yourself of this: you don’t need their gift. You need YOUR gift. The world needs your gift like only you can give it!

Get after it 🙂

~j

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3 Main Training Styles

So, you want to start working out. The biggest question people have when just starting is “what do I do at the gym?” That is a huge question, and most people are too afraid to ask it. You found this post, so I’m proud of you for doing your research!

The first thing you need to identify for yourself is what type of training you want to commit to. Scientifically, there are 3 main styles that correspond with 3 main goals.

3 Main Training Styles

1. Endurance

Endurance training typically involves body weight or very low weights and high repetitions. This training style gets your heart rate up and is typically used for loosing weight or burning fat. Programs like Tone It Up and Kayla Itsines’ BBG typically use this style of training. HIIT (high intensity interval training) also falls under this category.

Typically, you would do 12-20 reps with over 3 sets. Rest periods should be short, 30-60 seconds between each exercise.

2. Hypertrophy

Hypertrophy training is what most “body builders” do because it build lean muscle mass. This involves challenging weights at a moderate rep range. With all the styles of trainings, you want to feel fatigued and challenged at the end of your set. Choose a weight you can successfully complete the set at, but is challenging.

Rep ranges for hypertrophy training stays usually between 8-12 with sets of 3-5. Again, choose something that is challenging but possible. The training split for hypertrophy training usually focuses on each body part a different day, or PPL (Push, Pull, Legs). On push days, you train chest and triceps. On pull days, you train back and bicep. On leg days, you obviously train legs. Some people split this up by focusing on hamstrings/glutes one day and quads the next. Find what works for you, but this split allows for each body part to have adequate rest before you train it again.

3. Strength

Strength programs are utilized by powerlifters, or individuals that just want to increase the amount of weight they can lift. Because of that, this style of training involves high weights at very low reps. It also involves longer warm up periods to make prepare your body for heavy weights.

Strength rep ranges are usually fewer than 6, and 3-4 sets. It’s important to have someone who can spot your lifts as well, because strength trainers often “fail” and drop the weight! Most people focus on the “Big 3” here: bench press, squat and deadlift, with some accessory work (leg lifts, lat pull downs etc) after the compound lift to encourage muscle growth.

I hope this post helped you identify your goals when you go to the gym and the type of training style you should commit to! Do you have any burning fitness questions? Leave them in the comments below and maybe I’ll write a post answering it!

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Fix Your Gaze

I’ve been reading a lot of A.W. Tozer recently, and man I have learned so much! One thing that really hit me, though, was his definition of faith. He makes the point that there is no definition for faith in the Bible, that it rather is described as an act but the focus is on the result of the act of faith. From his study of Scripture (which is extensive), he concludes…

“From all this, we learn that faith is not a once-done act, but a continuous gaze of the heart at the triune God.”

-A.W. Tozer

Once I read this, I thought “I have never heard a more accurate description of faith”. I think our lives change just by looking at God. Our hearts begin to look like His heart, our thoughts begin to look like His thoughts. Our actions align with His will (hello, WWJD), and our desires begin to become like His desires.

We cannot force ourselves to become like God, and we cannot will ourselves to be like God. If the goal of life is to become more like Jesus, then we better figure out how to do that. I believe the secret lies in looking at God.

Think about it, we are the way we are because of who we look at. We want to be like this girl on Instagram who’s slaying life, we think what the news tells us to, and we get our beliefs from our parents who we’ve watched our entire lives. Tozer goes on to say…

“We imitate each other with slavish devotion and our most strenuous efforts are put forth to try to say the same thing that everyone around us is saying – and yet to find an excuse for saying it, some little safe variation on the approved theme or, if no more, at least a new illustration.”

-A.W. Tozer

What would happen if we imitated God as much as we try to imitate each other? What if we took time to look at God and admire him; to seek to be more like Him? I believe that no only our own lives would change, but that we would have the opportunity to change others. So, how do we do this?

1.) Read your Bible

The best way to get to know God, and to gaze on His heart, is to read His word. I believe the Bible is Holy, that each word was breathed by God and approved by God. I believe the stuff in there, He wants us to know it. Why else would He leave it for us but to actually read it? Get into the Word daily. I know it can be a struggle to find time, but even reading one chapter a day will only take 5-10 minutes from your day. You can do this as soon as you wake up, or right before you go to bed. Find what works for you, but read something! His Word is a gift that allows us to look upon Him daily, so use it!

2.) Get in Community

Okay, I know, this is cheesy. However, have your heard that saying “you become like the 5 people you spend most of your time around”? Take a quick inventory of who that is. Are they the sum of everything you want to be? If not, something needs to change. I truly believe this saying is true, and it goes with that Tozer said about us gazing upon and imitating each other. If you are in a community that follows Christ and is also seeking to be like Him, you are more likely to become like Him as well. Community focuses our eyes on Jesus, as we think and talk about Him and His work in our modern lives. Now, this doesn’t mean that you can only hang around Christians, because then we would just be monks, out of touch with the world around us, but you should surround yourself with a community of believers.

3.) Get your Butt to Church

Some of you reading this will be like “duh!” and other will be like “do I have to?” The answer is yes. Not only because the Church is the Bride of God and every other phrase you’ve heard, but because it helps us to focus our eyes on God. Each week we get taught on the modern application of Christian life, we learn more about God and how He works, and we study Jesus. In this way, we are committing to gazing at the heart of God weekly. Combine this with your daily “gazing at God” Bible reading, and your periodic gatherings with a Christian community, and you’re pretty set.

These three steps are pretty easy, right? Faith wasn’t meant to be difficult, Jesus was the embodiment of the message that God is for everyone. Though we will never be able to comprehend God in His fullness, He is knowable to all. I challenge you to draw nearer to Him this week. Let me know in the comments how you plan to do this!

 

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Fat Loss versus Muscle Gain: The Basics

Welcome to #WellnessWednesday, where every Wednesday, I will upload posts on fitness, nutrition, and overall wellness! Today, I wanted to start from the beginning of fitness. At the most basic level, your fitness journey will either be about weight loss or muscle gain. Sometimes, you may be in one season, and the next you will change your goals. Wherever you are at today, you have to know where you are headed. In this post, we are going to cover each of these goals so that you can clearly define what it is you want, which is the first step of any journey.

Fat Loss

If your main goal is to lose weight or cut down your body fat, this category is for you! The key to fat loss is expending more calories than you take in. I want you to be really careful here, though, because to a lot of people this will mean starving yourself and eating absolutely no carbs. That doesn’t lead to positive results! You can still eat plenty of food and still lose weight. Instead of putting yourself on a strict diet of only vegetables, I suggest looking at your macros and necessary caloric intake. If you click here, you can calculate your macronutrients (proteins, fats, and carbohydrates) as well as caloric intake for fat loss, muscle building or maintenance. Once you see your numbers, follow them! By far, my favorite app to track foods is MyFitnessPal. You can download this, and it will calculate your caloric intake as well as output, and give you your numbers at the end of the day. This is the easiest way to track your caloric intake/output to reach your fat loss goals!

So far, we’ve mostly only talked about nutrition, which plays a huge role in fat loss. However, your exercise routine does as well! Again, both of these fitness goals are centered around your caloric input and output. When you eat, you add calories. When you exercise, you subtract calories. It is important that you track this as well! You can get a fitness watch to track this for you, you can use the caloric measurements on cardio machines, or you can download this graphic for the average caloric burn of each exercise. MyFitnessPal allows you to put these numbers into the app as well, so I highly suggest you download it!

Finally, the most effective workouts for fat loss center around cardio. This doesn’t have to mean running on a treadmill for 2 hours (ouch!). In fact, there are a ton of fun cardio routines you can do! The most common ones are HITT workouts, which center around fast-paced, high-energy circuit routines. Basically, you do a certain amount of reps of several exercises with no rest in between. Then, you rest for a minute or two, and then you do the same circuit over for a couple of sets. If you want me to do a more detailed post on HIIT training, let me know in the comments below! You can also do sprints on the treadmill, take a spin class, or simply get your body moving! The key here is higher reps, and lower weights. Whatever you do remember, Fat Loss = calories in < calories out!

 

Muscle Gain

So you want to grow your muscles, huh? If you want to lose fat, you need to be in a caloric deficit. If you want to gain muscle, you must be in a caloric surplus. This means that you need to be taking in more calories than you are putting out. Now, this may seem scary, but the fact of the matter is that your muscles need the energy to rebuild and get bigger. The way that they get this energy is through food. Of course, you shouldn’t get your “energy” from only chocolate and wine (the dream, am I right?) because that doesn’t aid your muscles. Your diet, typically, should contain 60% protein, 30% carbs, and 10% fat. I am not a certified nutritionist, so don’t take my word for gold here, but this is what I have learned in my studies. This may not work for you if you have dietary restrictions, and it goes against certain diets, such as the Ketogenic diet. However, this is the most basic plan for muscle gain, so you just have to find what works for you. In order to ensure you are feeding your muscles and not just gaining weight, you need to eat the right types of food. This includes, of course, fruits, veggies, and protein sources. My philosophy is the more whole foods you are eating, the better. I try to eat only what is grown in the ground or natural animal sources. Again, you have to find what works for you, but this is what I have found to be the most effective nutrition advice for muscle gain.

Training wise, you want to make sure that you are focusing on higher weights and lower reps. You want to burn our your muscles here, so make sure you are weight training more than you are doing cardio! There are five main body parts you can train: chest, triceps, back, biceps, and legs. Of course, you can break these down into smaller groups such as hamstrings, calves, glutes, quads, delts, etc, but these are the main five. You want to train all of them at least once a week so as to get a somewhat symmetrical body composition. You may train one part more often than others, but don’t neglect one! The most typical “bro” way of breaking down this training is PPL: push, pull, legs. This means one day, you will train chest and triceps, the next day you will train back and biceps, and the following day you will train legs. This is a three-day workout split, and you can change it to your goals such as PLPL for a four-day split focused on the lower body or whatever suits you.

Again, the most important thing is that you are in a caloric surplus. If you do cardio, you want to make sure you track how many calories you expended during your workout, but I find tracking can be more flexible while muscle building. You just have to remember: muscle building = caloric intake > caloric output. I would follow the same nutrition tips as I laid out in fat loss: whole foods. Gaining muscle does mean that you can be more free with your diet, however, so don’t be afraid to have cheat meals and doughnuts (as long as they fit close to your macros!)

 

I hope this post helped clear up the basics of fat loss and muscle gain! If you have any questions, comments or future post requests, feel free to leave them below!

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The Necessity Change

It is said that people will only change when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of becoming new. I am facing lots of changes at the beginning of 2018. I feel like God is really challenging me to fine tune who I am and what I want. I know He already has plans for me, and I believe He’s calling me to chase after them. Jeremiah 29:11 sounds all nice and dandy, right?

“‘For I know the plans I have for you’, declares the Lord. ‘Plans to prosper you, and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future'”

-Jeremiah 29:11

Listen, it sounds a lot less nice when you actually have to make the jump, the leap of faith. God having a plan for your life is great, until you actually have to trust that plan.

If you know me at all, you know I like to be in control. I like safety, and I like routine. I don’t mind doing the same thing every day, as long as it does me good. God doesn’t call us to a life of safety, though. God doesn’t call us to a life of complacency. God calls us to a life of abundance and adventure (John 10:10).

“People do not like to risk venturing out into the darkness of the unknown, even if the unknown is full of hope, even if what is out there has the potential to improve their lives. Change is risky, but we must learn to take that risk.”

-A friend

If you feel even the smallest inkling that God is calling you to more, don’t shut it out.  I’m a practical girl, so here are steps I like to take when I feel God urging me.

1.) Be Still and Listen. In 1 Kings 19, we learn that God’s voice is not in the fire, and it’s not in the earthquakes. God’s voice is not a clanging symbol, but rather a still, small whisper. I don’t know why He does this (probably so we’ll shut up and listen…aka seek Him), because it would be a lot easier for me, personally, if He would make His will known. He doesn’t, though, so I am resigned to sit and listen. I encourage you to take even 10 minutes out of your day to pray. You don’t have to talk the whole time, in fact, I think it’s better when you talk a little and listen a little, but ask Him for clarity. He won’t hold back on you.

2.) Consult those you trust. One of the most powerful things you can do when you hear God speak is to speak that truth to others. You are far more likely to achieve a goal, hit a deadline or make a move if you have to be held accountable to what you told others. It also helps because those around you know you better than you know yourself sometimes. Friends and family can be great bull sh*t detectors, so don’t be afraid to get their opinions!

3.) Trust in the Lord (and ONLY the Lord)! Okay, I know I just got done saying to consult those in your life, but at the end of the day, it’s God’s call. Sometimes, people can discourage you from following God because it’s too risky, or they just want what they think is best for you. At the end of the day, you need to follow what God has laid out for you. Trust is hard, and trusting in a path you cannot see is scary. I promise you it’ll be worth it, though, because God will never let you fall.

“He will not let your foot slip– he who watches over you will not slumber”

-Psalm 121:3

If this helped you at all today, share with a friend! You never know who your words and encouragement can impact.

Thank you for reading! Do you feel like you are currently struggling with change/trust/faith? If so, let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear your story.

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Happy New Year!

My favorite holiday, by far, is New Years! Every year you get a fresh start to make goals and do things. Honestly, my goal was to get this up a week ago (aka the first of the year) but things don’t always go as planned. My boyfriend and I were flying back home after visiting family for the holidays, and we had to take a trip to the emergency room that night. Yup, that’s how my 2018 is going. Not to a great start, but I believe everything happens for a reason. I believe God is trying to show me patience and grace when things go wrong.

As you probably guessed, the first week of 2018 wasn’t my best. I failed at pretty much 80% of my New Years resolutions, and I only made it to the gym once. Here’s the thing though: you don’t have to wait for the beginning of the year, month or week to change your life. You can get started anytime you want.

My pastor at church this week was talking about how life is like running a marathon. There are times when you sprint towards the finish line, times when the excitement of just beginning rushes through your veins, and times when the fear of failure or unworthiness cripple you completely. You stop running because you can only think about catching your breath. The beautiful thing is that God doesn’t leave us there. God also doesn’t make us go back to the starting line when we mess up. He picks us up, and helps us start from where we are.

So, if that is you today, take heart. If you have screwed up the first week of the new year and feel overwhelmed by goals and intentions and change, take a breath. Slow down and listen to the beat of your heart. It will tell you where to head next, you need only to be still. Know that there is grace for you this week, this month, this hour. Stop giving yourself a hard time (I am queen of this as a perfectionist, people-pleaser). It’s all gonna work out fine. Kick some ass tomorrow, even if that means just getting out of bed.

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How to Pray

Prayer is something that I used to struggle with a lot. I didn’t grow up a Christian, so no one taught me how to do it. When I became a Christian, it felt like everyone knew how to do it, and no one was teaching me how. I also felt confused because of the denominations. Some denominations pray off the liturgy, some pray the same prayers all the time, and some freestyle it. Did I really have to say “in Jesus name we pray” before I said “amen”? What does that even mean? Because of all my confusion, I didn’t pray that much. I read my Bible every day and went to church every Sunday, but my prayer life was dead.

One day in college, I decided to get serious about it. I am a huge reader, so I figured a book on prayer would probably help me out a lot. That is how I found Prayer by Timothy Keller. It is an incredible book, and I encourage everyone to read it. In reading it, I also found similarities to God’s word. Did you know in Matthew chapter 6, Jesus actually teaches us to pray? Here’s how the combined knowledge of these two resources helped me understand prayer:

Praise/Adoration

Start your prayer by declaring who God is in your life. There are so many names for God in the Bible, like Abba Father, Jehovah Jireh, Immanuel etc. You don’t have to know all these fancy ones, but get your heart right by stating the bigness of God. When you realize God is above and before all things, prayer seems powerful. Prayer seems like a gift, and you will begin to use it like that.

In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus started by saying

“our Father, who art in heaven

Hallowed be thy name”

-Matthew 6:9

God is our Father, and that means He will take care of us like one. He will protect us, guide us, and discipline us. He is in heaven, ruling over the Earth. He has dominion over all things and control over all things. This puts us in the perspective that God cares, and He is able.

Thanksgiving

Then, Keller suggests, thank God for all He has done in your life. Gratitude journals, or writing 3 things every day you are grateful for, is really trendy right now. There is a reason for that. Again, it gets your heart right. There is so much I could pray and ask God to fix, but He has already given me so much. I am so blessed as it is, and this practice really helps me to see that.

Secondly, He deserves it. I know every good thing I have comes from God (James 1:17). There is nothing that I can give Him to measure up to all He has done for me. The least that I could do is thank Him for it.

Thirdly, this gets my heart into the space of reverence. In modern Christianity, we see God as our friend. While that is true, I think we have gotten too far away from giving God the respect He deserves. He is Holy and Good and Above all things. He has given us everything.

Though there is no “thank you” directly in the Lord’s Prayer, I believe “hallowed be thy name” could step into that. Again, it’s about recognizing who He is, what He has done, and thanking Him for that.

Confession

I think we have also lost this in modern day Christianity. We are flawed human beings, so we make mistakes every day. I confess to God because it is mandated in the Bible, because it is the right thing to do, and because it teaches me every time.

I remember this day when I was really frustrated with this girl. She couldn’t do what we had asked her to do, and I figured it was because she couldn’t understand what we were asking, even though we made it very clear. I was so frustrated, I started complaining about her, calling her stupid, incompetent, lazy, and so full of herself. God checked me in that moment, and I was like “Whoa. That’s God’s child right there. That’s His baby girl, who He smiles upon. He loves her. I am supposed to love her.” I had to confess that sin to God, and I learned so much about respecting others and treating them well, even when they don’t reciprocate.

Recognizing where you are wrong leads you to become a better person because you can see where you need to improve, and then you do.

“And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors”

-Matthew 6:12

Supplication

Here is what most people think of as the “purpose of prayer”. While I believe God is here to help us with our problems, and He cares about our struggles, I never wanted to make God like Santa Claus. I thought it was so disrespectful to go to Him and just ask for stuff, which is why I do the other three things first. He tells us to ask for what we need (Matthew 7:7), so do it! I often ask for help in life situations, for opportunities, health, whatever you need in life, ask Him for it! Remember,

 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

-James 1:17

Most people know what they need and how to ask for it so I won’t go too deeply into it, as there is no “right way” to pray. This is what the Lord’s Prayer says about supplication:

your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.

     .   .    .

And lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from the evil one.

-Matthew 6:10-11;13

So, that’s how I learned to pray, and how I pray now! There is no “right way” to pray. Sometimes, I pray the rosary with my boyfriend (repeating the Lord’s Prayer and Hail Mary’s). I encourage you to incorporate the aspects of prayer here, as laid out by Tim Keller, and interpreted by me, though, as they really have revapmed my prayer life!

How do you pray? Let me know in the comments below!

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How To Be A Good Christian

When most of us think of how to be a good Christian, our thoughts automatically go to the 10 Commandments, right? At least something along those lines. Don’t kill people, don’t cheat on your wife, don’t have sex before marriage, don’t eat pork, offer sacrifices to God for your sins etc etc etc. We have a whole list of things that we aren’t supposed to do, and if we abstain from those, then we are a good Christian. That is so wrong. 

Sure, would it be good if you never killed someone in your life? Totally. Does God love you less if you do? No, I don’t believe He does. We could open the whole “God hates the sin, not the sinner” can of worms, but that’s another post. For this one, I pray you get a revelation of God’s love. Let’s read HIS word, and what it says about being a good Christian:

Create in me a clean heart, oh God

and renew a right spirit within me.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation

and uphold me with a willing spirit

~Psalm 51:10-12

 

1.) It’s a process

Adam and Eve were the first humans, and they had it perfect. They walked with God every day, they had dominion over all living things, they could eat of every delicious tree (except one). God had created a paradise for them…but it still wasn’t good enough. HUMAN NATURE got in the way. We see in Genesis 3 that when Adam and Eve were caught, their first instinct was to find someone to blame. Adam blamed Eve, and Eve blamed the serpent (v. 12-13). Does this sound like a good Christian to you? So here lies the beauty and the struggle of life. Human nature will always get in the way. We will be greedy and envious, angry and boastful. We will fail God all of the time because we cannot possibly live up to the Godly standard. The beauty of it, though, is that we can try again. The author of this Psalm didn’t start out with a clean heart, but he begs God to give him one anyway. Look at the verbs he uses: create, restore, renew, uphold. We don’t start out good and perfect Christians, and we won’t always be either. The important thing is that you keep trying. You keep trying to get better, and you let yourself be renewed. You stop letting human nature take over, even if it’s in baby steps.

 

be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

~Romans 12:2

 

2.) God is here to help

Notice how the author of the Psalm doesn’t say “I’m just going to try harder!” Being a “good Christian” isn’t about willpower, it’s about allowing God’s power. HE can create a clean heart. HE can renew your spirit. HE can restore your joy. These are things only He can do, so don’t be afraid to ask. Cry out to Him in prayer, bring Him your needs. Ask that He restore and renew, and He will.

The beauty of God is that He doesn’t leave us alone. I got this tattoo a few years ago, and it’s the Hebrew version of Immanuel. That is the name of God in the Old Testament that means “God is with us”. It’s a beautiful reminder to me that wherever I go, He goes too.

tattoo

 

Remember, God is with you, and it’s a process. Pray it over.

Much love

~J

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Why Millenials Have It All Right

Hi, I’m Jordan. I can’t deny the fact that I’m a millennial, but to be honest, sometimes I try. If I were to ask you what you think about millennials, what would you say? Lazy? Technology-dependent? Stubborn? Know it alls? As a millennial, I know my fair share of millennials, and I can’t say you’re wrong…to an extent. Most of the reason that millennials are this way is because we are young. We need to be reared in and taught that there are plenty of things we don’t know, just like every generation before us had to do. I would argue that these grievances aren’t generational as in millennials versus Gen Y or X, but generational in young versus mature. I do think as millennials, we’ve had to grow up faster because of the world we live in. I also think that we have some stuff right that other generations could learn.

 

1.) Passion

How many of you love your job? How many of you are passionate about what you do? How many of you wake up excited to go to work more often than you are dreading it? My best guess? Probably very few of you. One thing we have seen in millennials is that we’re not afraid to go after what we want. This may seem greedy or entitled, and I want to warn against that, but once you have the perspective that you REALLY can do anything you put your mind to, you try to do it! We grew up hearing our parents say that to us, and because of the advanced civilization we live in now, we ACTUALLY believed it. There are millennials with youtube careers or businesses they built themselves without actually ever going to college. That isn’t birthed out of stupidity. That is birthed out of passion and pursuit.

 

2.) Fearlessness

Countless millennials go skydiving, jumping off cliffs and out of airplanes. Many would call this stupidity again. I think it’s because we have this unwavering trust in the world that everything is gonna be okay, even if it isn’t. If things don’t go to plan, then we change our plan. Maybe this is naive or privileged thinking, but I believe it’s something different. We EXPECT things to go wrong, so why not make the best of it? Do what we can until we can’t anymore, then we will adapt.

 

3.) Action Oriented

I think this goes along with the other two quite nicely. So many people dream about what their lives could be like and who they could be if they just… People told us to stop dreaming and just go for it, so we did! We take action on what we think is necessary, and we don’t worry about traditional rules. Now, this could be a good or bad thing. However, when it comes to chasing your dreams JUST DO IT!

 

just do it

 

I don’t think any of these things are exclusive to millennials, but I do think it is more prevalent in us. Moral of the story: find what you want to do and do it. Anything is possible, and we owe it to the generation before us of parents and teachers who helped us believe that. 

What is your opinion on the millenial way of life?

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How to Set Goals You Will ACTUALLY Accomplish

If you’re like me, you’ve read handfuls of self-improvement books, wrote down all the goal setting guidelines one person could handle and set out to achieve all the goals everyone told you would make your life 100000% better. Here’s the thing: THAT WILL NEVER WORK. Here’s why:

1.) Set Goals that Reflect What YOU Want

Plenty of fitness bloggers will tell you the secret to muscle growth and amazing skin is a gallon of water a day (PSA: don’t just drink a gallon of water a day. It depends on your height, weight and activity level among other things) I agree drinking enough water for you is incredibly important, so I thought I would set this as one of my goals.

Can you guess how many times I tracked my water intake? NONE. Not a single time. Why? Because I was doing what other people told me was good for me. It’s good to drink water, and I like to bring water bottles with me wherever I go. Tracking every day doesn’t work for me, and making it a goal in a long list of other (more important, to me) goals isn’t effective. I bypass it every time. So, you have to find goals that truly reflect what you want to accomplish in your life.

 

2.) Limit the Amount of Goals You Set

Here’s the thing: if you set too many goals at one time, you will never be able to accomplish them. Again with the water story, I had too many goals and I couldn’t do them all. So I let myself fall off the wagon. I will talk more about time-based goals in the next section, but here’s how I do it:

  • 10 BIG Yearly Goals (i.e. Start a blog, visit 15 national parks)
  • 5 Monthly Goals (i.e. start editorial calendar, take blogging course, exercise 3x/week)
  • 3 Weekly Goals (i.e. One bible study video, 1 blog post)
  • 3 Daily Goals (MY HOUR OF POWER)

Again, please don’t use my numbers if they don’t work for you! If you find 5 monthly goals are too much, then lower it! If you find you don’t like having weekly and daily goals, cut it out! FIND WHAT WORKS FOR YOU.

 

3.) The Hour of Power

Every day, I institute an hour of power. I guarantee you have at least one hour a day to do something for yourself. I choose to break it up into 3-20 minute segments that reflect daily habits I want to create.

  1. Devotions
  2. Read
  3. Practice Spanish

I know some of my bigger goals are to become fluent in Spanish, grow in my relationship with Christ and read lots of books! These aren’t listed anywhere in my bigger categories because they show up here. If you have a goal/habit written down in one section DON’T repeat it! This will help keep things streamlined. Small, daily habits are a great way to reach big goals!

 

Steps to Fleshing Out Your Goals:

  1. List out every goal you want to accomplish. Brainstorm! GO CRAZY!
  2. Be realistic. Knock out some goals you realize aren’t really yours in the first place.
  3. Organize by Size. What goals are year-long projects? (Becoming Fluent in Spanish) Which ones are smaller habits? (Going to church every week). Filter out your goals by yearly, weekly and daily goals.
  4. Consolidate. As I said earlier, one of my big goals is to become fluent in Spanish. I realized to do that, I needed to practice every day. That goal, while big, could be consolidated into a daily habit. Which goals are similar? Lose weight and go to the gym? Make categories and narrow your goals even further.
  5. Organize by Time Frame. Which goals should you focus on each month/week/day? Again, make sure you’re not setting too many goals for yourself! You can use my 10-5-3-3 template, or make one of your own!
  6. Be Accountable. Write your goals down! Keep yourself accountable. This can be a daily habit tracker (there’s a fun notebook at Micheals, or download an app!) Write your monthly and weekly goals in a notebook or planner and do a reflection at the end of that time period to see what you lived up to and what you didn’t.
  7. Re-evaluate. If you find yourself consistently missing a goal, then re-evaluate it. Why did you want it in the first place? Do you still want it? Can you find some balance between routine and spontaneity? Think of my water story. It’s not like I never drink water anymore. I’m just not obsessive about it. And guess what? I FEEL FREE. Don’t be afraid to let goals go and create new ones. Or not!

Find what works for you 🙂

 

xoxo,

~j

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Authenticity

You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.

14 “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.15 No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

-Matthew 5:13-16

Another theme in my life recently has been authenticity. I am inspired by the likes of Glennon Doyle Melton, Dr. Brene Brown and Cheryl Strayed. I think we all could use a little authenticity in our lives. Jesus calls us to be the Salt and Light that lead the way for others.

The purpose of salt is to GIVE FLAVOR TO. In Biblical times, Salt was the only seasoning that most people had. Without salt, life was bland and boring. It is our job to bring flavor and vibrant and love like no one has ever seen to this world.

And light? Light HELPS US SEE. We are there to guide people and show them the way. How can we do that if we’re not being who God created us to be? If we’re not sharing the story God wrote on our tablet, how can we expect to lead anyone?

BE THE SALT. BE THE LIGHT. BE AUTHENTIC.

Short again today, but that’s all I got. Love you all to pieces. Let’s all encourage each other to be brave in this journey.

~J