Browsing Tag

inspiration

How To, Inspiration

My 2017 Vision Board + How to Make Your Own

2017 felt like the birth of many big dreams for me.  And not just dreams that I wanted to start chasing, but dreams that I wanted to start living.  I actually wrote about all that, here-my dream to really commit to growing this blog.  I also set goals for myself in areas like motherhood and family life.  In the midst of realizing my dreams and goals, and determining that I was going to start living them out now, I began making a plan of how to keep myself inspired.  I don’t know about you, but I am a very visual, have-to-see-things-on-paper type person.  I am the type of a person that if I don’t write out a to-do list, nothing will get done!  (bad bad, I know!)  So I knew that my plan to start living my dreams would not become much of a reality if I didn’t create a “roadmap,” of sorts, of how that was going to look.  A vision board seemed to be the perfect tool!

I love creating “mood boards” in my house!  I have so many bulletin board collages of pictures that just inspire me, scattered throughout my house.  But for this, I wanted to create a vision board for 2017.  I wanted to fill it with words that inspired me and pictures that motivated me.  This vision board is to encourage me every time I sit down to write on my blog, to remind myself of why I am doing it and what I want to accomplish.  It is to help me take a breath when motherhood is overwhelming me and remind myself that I am enough.  This board is to reassure me that it is okay to simplify my life, to do less with more focus, and to say NO sometimes.  And more than anything, I want this board to remind me that God is making a way in my life, that He has plans for me, that I only have to have faith and take the risk!

On my vision board, I included pictures of my little family (because they are my biggest motivators), images of coffee and flowers (because I feel energized and focused by both), quotes about taking risks and going after things (because the fear of stepping out can psych me out), and pictures of cameras (because I want to become better at photography and I want to finally start a YouTube channel).  I could probably fill up 10 vision boards full of inspirational things, but this was a good start!

If you want to make a vision board to get inspired to start living your dreams, here is a list of what you will need:

  • Framed cork board or other board of your choice
  • Fabric to cover board
  • Staple gun
  • Ribbon
  • Push pins or spray adhesive to attach your pictures
  • Pictures, images and quotes that inspire you!

I recommend that you take some time, sit down with a cup of coffee or tea-planner, journal, inspirational books in hand-and write down your goals for 2017.  Just take some time and envision your life.  Think about where you are right now and where you want to be.  Once you have determined this, you can fill in all the in between steps.  Don’t create goals that are unattainable within a certain time frame.  Create small, achievable goals you can meet along your journey.  Remember, life is not just about an end destination-this one place or thing that will finally make you happy.  It is about the journey-what you learn along the way through trials, missteps, triumphs and success.  I firmly believe that when we envision the life God has for us and truly believe that He wants great things for us, we will succeed and flourish and live a fulfilling life!  Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish: . . .”

Friends, I believe that God wants us to dream and dream big.  He wants us to have a vision for our life.  There is nothing wrong with making plans for your life when you are following God’s prompting.  If He has given you a talent, a calling, a prodding or a dream, go for it!  Follow after it!  Live it!  Live your life with intention.  Live it to the fullest.  Don’t believe the lies of the devil or the discouragement of others when they say you can’t do something; because, you can do anything you put your mind to.

So fill your vision board with words and images that will draw you closer to your goals and that life you envision for yourself.  Every time you look at it, be inspired that you are capable to achieve and live out your dreams.  This first month of 2017 was great, and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the year holds for my family and yours.

If you create your own vision board, I’d love to see it and be encouraged in watching you live out your dreams!  So tag me @thegrowingnest or use the hashtag #growingthenestvisionboard on Instagram so I can see your creation!  Remember, we rise by lifting others; let’s lift each other up and cheer each other on as we live our dreams in 2017.

 

Encouragement, Inspiration

Remaining Faithful While You Wait on God

Have you ever been in a season of waiting in your life?  You know the place.  Like, that awkward in-between of not knowing what is coming next but knowing things will change.  That place of “limbo” where you are waiting on something great, but maybe going through something bad.  Maybe you’re waiting for something you love to become successful (a business venture, a blog, a passion). . . Maybe you’re waiting on a career move or a job promotion.  Maybe you’re waiting on love and your future spouse.  Maybe you’re waiting on a baby.  Maybe you’re waiting on a prayer to be answered, a friend to come your way, or a relationship to be restored. . .

Maybe you are waiting on God and it is a struggle to remain faithful.  Maybe you are having a hard time trusting that He sees the bigger picture, that He holds the future, and that He has good plans for you.

Friends, I’ve been in that place.  I’m there right now, actually.  My family will be moving in 6 months or less and we currently have no idea where we are going.  The unknown is looming so close ahead of us.  It would be so very easy for me to succumb to anxiety and frustration, but I know that won’t help.  Because the truth is, God knows what is going to happen.  He knows where we are moving and where we will live; because, His plans for me are good.  What I want is to learn to be faithful in this time of waiting-faithful to God and His timing and control over my life.  I want to trust Him more.  I want to experience peace, even though there should be a bit of panic; and assurance, even though there should be a bit of doubt.

Many times when we find ourselves waiting, we feel like God abandoned us, forgot about us, or left us on our own.  Because we don’t see the end in sight, or because we haven’t received immediate gratification, or because the unknown is confusing us, we think God must have overlooked our needs and prayers.  God is slowly teaching me, though, that there is so much beauty in the waiting!

It is in the waiting that we gain courage.  It is in the waiting that we become brave.  It is in the waiting that we grow and learn and change and develop.  Maybe it is in the waiting that God is preparing us for our moment in the sun. . . Maybe what we are going through now is preparing us for what we will deal with later.  I love Psalm 37:34 when it says wait passionately!  Wow!  God wants us to find passion in the NOW, and He urges us not to leave the path.  It might be tempting to try to find our own way when God has us waiting, but friends, that path is leading you right where you need to be-into the light, into the sun, and into goodness.

So as I wait to find out where my family will be moving, while I wait for my little blog to do big things, while I wait for my husband’s career to advance, while I wait for things my heart desires to become a reality, I am choosing to find passion right here, right now.  I am going to passionately wait and diligently seek the face of God.  The closer I get to Him, the more my desires will become aligned with His.

Are you in a season of waiting?  Has God just saw you through to the other side and into the light?  Feel free to leave your story in the comments!  Let’s encourage each other through the waiting!

Encouragement, Goals, Inspiration, New Year

Living New: Embracing 2017

There is just something about the start of a new year. . .  Maybe it is the feeling of positivity that is swirling around or the idea of getting a “do-over.”  Whatever it is, it is nice and fresh and new and exciting.  I am not one to make resolutions.  I just don’t feel the need to.  I guess because resolutions seem to be so temporary.  But I love setting goals and having aspirations for the new year.

Before moving forward, I think it is important to take a look back and reflect on the year past.  2016.  2016 will be a year that I never forget.  It saw the birth of our baby girl-the greatest blessing of my life so far.  There were so many incredible highs, and there were also quite a few lows.  2016 was a year of change and discovery and newness and amazing-ness and struggles and weakness. . .  There was so much bottled up in those 12 months.  Giving birth to my sweet baby, dealing with postpartum hormones, battling postpartum anxiety, struggling in my personal relationship with God, accepting that our family and closest friends were a thousand miles away from our new little family, adjusting to motherhood, becoming a SAHM, learning SO MUCH about my marriage, starting this blog. . . 2016 was a whirlwind!  I’m looking back at 2016 thankful for what I learned; I learned so much about myself.  And now, I’m going to carry those lessons learned with me into this new year.

When I sat down to think about what my goals were going to be for this year, I wanted to choose a word for the year.  A word I could carry with me throughout the year to motivate me and inspire me, and to remind me of my goals.  I thought this would be really hard to come up with, but the first word that stuck out to me and kept coming up was EMBRACE.

EMBRACE (verb):  To take or receive gladly or eagerly; accept willingly;  To avail oneself of, to adopt, to welcome, to seize.

I think this word held special meaning for me; because, in 2016, I did a lot of running and a lot of ‘backing down’. . . I got comfortable living timidly and running from and fighting the hard stuff.  This year I want to embrace all that gets placed in front of me.  I want to embrace the journey.  Embrace the struggle.  Embrace the change.  Embrace the surprises.  Embrace the beauty.  Embrace the love.  Embrace THE NOW.

On January 1st, I opened my Bible app praying that God would lead me to a passage of hope and promise, and this was the verse of the day:

I felt God speaking to me so clearly, that what happened in 2016 is nothing compared to what He will do in 2017.  He is working on something new in me right now!  Friend, if you think you are waiting on God, think again.  He is waiting on YOU!  He has already begun a work in you.  Maybe 2016 just didn’t feel like “your year.”  Maybe it was full of heartache and struggles and trials.  Or maybe it was the best year of your life, and you don’t know how any other could top it.  Let me tell you, God loves making things new.  He creates beauty out of ashes.  He makes paths in the wilderness.  He makes rivers in dry wastelands.  He is waiting for you to live new!  Whatever goals and dreams you have for 2017, He wants to lead you to them.  He wants to give you the desires of your heart.  And friends, the path to our goals is not going to be easy.  That path through the wilderness. . .well, it might be dry and bumpy sometimes but its leading you to where you want to go.  So embrace the journey, not just the destination.  Embrace the struggle.  Embrace what you will learn along the way.

This year, I am committed to LIVING NEW and loving well and embracing ‘the now.’  I am holding onto the promises of God’s goodness in my life, I am praying over my goals and dreams, I am living in the freedom that God gives me to live and love, and I am trying to bless others along the way.

I’d love to hear from you!  How are you living new in 2017?  What are your goals and resolutions?  Do you have an inspiring word to live by this year?  Let us know in the comments!

 

Encouragement, Monday Motivation

Unfailing Love

I like to start off my Mondays with a great thought, something to meditate on and live out during the week ahead.  It is so easy to dread Monday when we let ourselves get overwhelmed with to-do lists for the week, things we need to get done, places we need to go. . . I think it is so important to take a moment every day to find quiet time to read the Word, pray, meditate, and THINK.  Some of our best thoughts and greatest intentions are born in moments like this.

This week, I want to talk about God’s unfailing love-a love that sustains us and revives us-and praise, thankfulness for all that He has done.

O God, you are my God:
I earnestly search for you.
My soul thirsts for you;
my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land
where there is no water.
I have seen you in your sanctuary
and gazed upon your power and glory.
Your unfailing love is better than life itself;
how I praise you!
I will praise you as long as I live,
lifting up my hands to you in prayer.
You satisfy me more than the richest feast.
I will praise you with songs of joy.
Psalms 63:1-5

Have you ever just felt empty?  As if you spend all your time and energy pouring yourself into others that there is just nothing left?  I think as a mom, we probably all feel this way sometimes!  We pour ourselves into our children every hour of every day, we pour ourselves into our husbands, family, and friends as much as we can-oftentimes neglecting ourselves.  And when we come up dry, with nothing left inside us, we wonder what went wrong.  We feel empty and frazzled and weary and dry and parched. . .  The truth is, we need to be filling our hearts and lives with the unfailing love that God wants to give us.

I love how this psalm started out with the believer searching earnestly for God.  They were thirsting for and longing after Him.  They knew God, they had visited Him in His sanctuary.  They had a relationship with God, and they recognized their need for sustainment through His love.  Not only did they celebrate God’s love; they also saw the importance of praise.

Praise and worship is a by-product of an intimate relationship with God.  Satisfaction and fulfillment is a by-product of praise and an acceptance of God’s unfailing love in my life.  A heart in-tune to God will naturally want to praise and worship Him, and will be filled with His love.  Once we drink deeply of this love God offers, we then will have a love worth offering others, a heart full of praise, and a life of satisfaction and contentment.

If you are feeling empty, like you are at the end of your rope-like there is nothing left inside yourself for you or anyone else-I challenge you to reach out to the God who abundantly loves you.  The God who offers unfailing love.  Let His love fill you to the brim, and then some; because when you do, you will be overflowing with love and grace and goodness to give to others.

sean (1)

Encouragement, Monday Motivation

Monday Motivation: Living Loved

It’s Monday!!!  Isn’t it crazy how quickly the weeks pass by?  As a mama, the days are long and weeks and years are short!  Today I wanted to share with you another “Monday Motivation.”  If you are feeling a little empty and your past week was long and hard, if you need a little inspiration and motivation, hopefully you can find some truth within these ramblings.

I don’t know about you, but every time I spend quiet time with God, I leave feeling so refreshed, rejuvenated and on fire!  I feel God impress truth onto my heart and I want to share it.

What I love about the message of Jesus Christ is that it is completely and undeniably centered on love.  The theme of the Bible, of the life of Jesus, of our calling as believers is LOVE.

“Long before He laid down earth’s foundations,
He had us in mind,
had settled on us as the focus of his love,
to be made whole and holy by his love.
Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into His family
through Jesus Christ.
(What pleasure he took in planning this!)
He wanted us to enter into the celebration of
His lavish gift-giving
by the hand of His beloved Son.”
Ephesians 1:4-6 MSG

Wow. . . that love just blows me away.  Before I existed, before the world was even formed-we were on His mind.  We are the focus of His love.  And at the center of this love is the theme of adoption.  He chose to adopt us into His family.  The word adoption literally means ‘to choose.’  God’s love and acceptance of me as His child was not and is not dependent on who I am as a person (He had me in mind before I was a person), it is not dependent on what I have done or what I do (His love makes me whole and holy), and it is not dependent on where I have been or where I’m going (He has adopted me from an old, neglected life to a new, lavish life).  God’s love for me is a fierce, unselfish, holy, identity-giving, life-altering love!  God’s love is the very essence of adoption-to choose someone as your own, to love someone before you even know them and to give someone a new life and identity.

And with this knowledge, with this promise, I am able to live loved!  I can live in the overflow of God’s love for me.  I can live in the knowledge that I will never be neglected.  I have a Father who wants to pour blessings into my life, who wants to give me more than I can fathom, who wants to prove Himself holy in my life.  As I am the focus of His love, I can, in turn, love others well.  I can live wildly, freely, abundantly. . .

If you are living a tame, safe life and questioning your purpose and identity, if you are living as if you are an orphan instead of a child of the King, grab hold of God’s promise that you are on His mind, you are the focus of His love, and you are adopted into His family.  And start living, loved.

sean (1)

Encouragement, Monday Motivation

Monday Motivation: When You Face Troubled Waters

I wanted to start a little series on my blog called “Monday Motivation.”  (I know today is now Tuesday, but my computer has been on the fritz and I have to buy a new one!) My Monday Motivation series will feature a short, hopefully inspirational post about what I am learning in my quiet time with God.  It is kind of like a daily devotional!  I know that sometimes Mondays are hard, the start of a new week, the end of the weekend.  But Mondays are just that-a fresh start!  So this is to help your Monday get off on the right foot!

When troubles of any kind come your way,
consider it an opportunity for great joy.
For you know that when your faith is tested,
your endurance has a chance to grow.
So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed,
you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
James 1:2-4 NLT

None of us want to experience trouble, am I right?  None of us want to go through hard times.  It’s challenging, uncomfortable, difficult, hard. . . But to God, experiencing trouble is a lot like conditioning for a sport.  I’m sure we all have been watching the Olympics lately (Go #TeamUSA !).  We all know that those athletes didn’t just go out on their fields or arenas and just perform at the level we see, right?  Absolutely not!  They spent hours, days, weeks, and YEARS preparing for this ultimate challenge.  They spent this time conditioning their bodies-preparing it, getting it ready for the biggest event of their life.

If you have ever played a sport, you know that conditioning is not fun.  It is not fun, but it is absolutely necessary.  Conditioning is long and tiring and hard, but it develops endurance!  Without it, you would likely be unprepared and fail when the time of competition comes because you wouldn’t have the endurance necessary to complete the task.  Proper conditioning will go above and beyond what you will actually face.

In life, sometimes troubles come our way-our faith is tested, our resolve is shaken, our strength is weakened. . . While it is easy to think that troubles happen to make us fail, they happen to make us stronger.  Trouble comes to bolster our confidence in what God has done, to reveal the strength of our faith, to grow our resolve, to absolve our doubt. . . To cleanse us, to perfect us, to make us whole and complete, to give us the opportunity to experience great joy.

God sometimes takes us into troubled waters-
not to drown us,
but to cleanse us.
-Unknown

It is in the midst of trouble that our true selves our revealed to us.  When we are tested and pushed to the limits of what we think we are capable of handling, that is when we usually find another ounce or two of courage, motivation, inner strength, stamina, and the ability to go on.  Or if we find we are at the end of ourselves, that we have nothing left to give, that we are in over our heads, that we have no more strength to move on, let yourself be washed in the flood of God’s grace, love and protection that promises to make you whole and complete-even in your troubles.

When you face troubled waters, God will not let you drown, He will not leave you broken.  He will cleanse you, care for you, grow you, and make you complete.  Don’t be scared to face the waves today!

sean (1)

Encouragement

Invest in YOU

Hi lovely friends!

I’m not sure who is reading this–maybe someone who knows me, maybe someone I have never met, or maybe someone who accidentally stumbled upon my page.  To anyone who is reading this, though, I wanted to take this time to just be real with you and to share what is on my heart.  This post may be a compilation of jumbled thoughts-so I apologize in advance-but I felt impressed to share it.

I started this blog as a creative avenue of expressing myself, as a way to capture the fleeting moments of motherhood with my baby girl, as a way to encourage myself to live a little more-soaking in ordinary moments, but also experiencing big ones.  I started this blog because I wanted to share encouragement on marriage, my experiences on motherhood, my perspective on being a military wife, the spiritual things that move me and inspire me.

I want this blog to be refreshingly honest, encouraging and inspiring to all of you who read it.  After starting, I haven’t uploaded posts consistently.  I was having trouble figuring out what I wanted to write about.  Words generally come pretty easy to me, so I was really frustrated with this writer’s block.  I took some time to examine myself, and what was in my head and heart.  Life changes so drastically after you have a baby and in a way that you really cannot prepare for.  In the midst of gaining the new identity of ‘Mom,’ I definitely lost my identity as ‘Faith.’

Things that I had time for before I had a baby, were not so easy to do after having a baby.  I’ve realized that if I want to be productive and truly get things done, I have to plan out my day.  I have to be intentional with my time and create a list of priorities.  Avary has and always will be my priority, but in those first several months, I was neglecting myself.  I stopped reading my Bible, I didn’t pray consistently, I didn’t write or journal anymore. . . I had stopped taking time to just be quiet, reflect, think. . . If I took spare moments away from Avary, I felt a sense of guilt.  I thought, ‘I’m a stay-at-home mom, I’m home all day with my baby.  I’m so lucky.  I shouldn’t need to take a break.’  But that thought cannot be farther from the truth.  Being a stay-at-home mom is no less a job than the one my husband leaves home to do.  Not to mention, it is a 24/7 job.  I did need time to myself.

So within these last few weeks, I have recognized the importance of making time for myself.  Even if it just a few minutes here and there.  When I take time for myself-when I fuel my heart and my mind-I have so much more to give.  I am not only a better mom, but a better wife and a better person.  I am prioritizing time with God, first, because without that, I am a mess.  Taking time to read a devotion, read my Bible, and journal my thoughts is where I will find clarity, strength to make it through baby-filled days, and inspiration to write here to all of you. . .

This morning I started writing in a new journal I picked up from Marshalls, (guys, I have a serious journal-fetish problem!  I find a cute one and I have to buy it!  And Marshalls never lets me down) and it had a Bible verse on the top of the page and it was Jeremiah 29:11, “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.”  I’ve heard that verse a million times, but I was sure that God wanted me to see that verse today and was speaking hope and truth into me.  God placed a passion and a desire inside my heart to share my life in a blog, and I believe he has great plans for me and my future!

I say all that to let you know that I’m going to take you along this journey with me.  I want to be honest, genuine and authentic with all of you, and if that means baring my heart, that’s what I’ll do.

I just want to encourage you that if you are in a place where you feel like you are pouring all of yourself into something or someone or someone(s), take a step back.  Remember to invest in yourself so you have the energy and strength and grace and love to invest in others.  And don’t forget that God has big plans for you, too!

sean (1)

Uncategorized

Clarity in the Midst of Confusion

Silver Linings

I am sure you have heard the saying, “Every cloud has a silver lining.”  The saying seems to suggest that despite negative circumstances that may appear dark and cloudy, there is positivity and clarity that can be found in the form of sunshine and light.  Having experienced my fair share of ups and downs in life, in faith, in marriage, in friendships, in work, in education, and really every facet of life–I have found that you truly can find clarity in the midst of confusion.  In fact, I think it is in the darkest nights that we become most enlightened, or on the cloudiest of days that we truly recognize the sun.

I believe that life is the most unique ride any of us will travel.  It is full of highs and lows, mountains and valleys, darkness and light.  We each travel our own path and experience these at different times.  For me, I was recently going through a valley–confused about where my life was headed, feeling not content with my work situation, wondering if the degree I was pursuing was what I was supposed to do, and questioning whether my God cared. . . Let me just say this–valleys are a struggle for me.  I am the type of person who wants to plan out my life.  I want to know every detail and have it organized in perfect place.  I like things to be done in my timing.  I guess you could call me a “control-freak.”  It is just really hard for me to relinquish control of “my” life and my plans to someone else.

What I have realized though, is that the valley is when God is trying to remind me that I cannot manage my life on my own.  I cannot be content within myself if I am not content where God has placed me.  I think the valley is God’s way of pushing us to see the light.  It is easy to think that God is “punishing” us with things aren’t going the way we want, but God doesn’t work like that.  A friend once told me, “I know that God is my loving Father, not a “dead-beat dad”, “alcoholic father”, or absentee, or punisher.  We are His daughters and are seated in heavenly places through Christ.  We are covered in His precious blood.”  Because God is a loving Father, He wants to pour out blessings on our lives.

I used to think that God’s blessings were somehow dependent on what I did–whether I was good or bad, but that is not the case.  God’s blessings are dependent on His love for us, and what He accomplished through the cross.  “Every good gift and every prefect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (James 1:17, ESV)  Because of God’s unchanging nature and His constant love for us, He blesses us.

When I opened up myself to the idea that God wants to bless me, not punish me, and that it was all about Him and not me, the blessings He began to pour into my life have overwhelmed me!  The Bible says, “I will open the windows of heaven for you.  I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!” (Malachi 3:10b, NLT)  I know what it is like to live life in darkness–surrounded by negativity and sadness and confusion–but if you can just remember that God is not the author of confusion, nor the creator of darkness, but a loving Father ready to bless you and provide you with clarity and contentment, that valley won’t seem as bad or as long, the mountain top will be just around the corner, the light will be right at the end of that tunnel, and the sun breaking behind the clouds.