Archives For January 2014

I love music. Music has a way of setting the mood and changing the atmosphere for any day. When I began to think of music that way, I realized how powerful it can be.

When you’re having a bad day, it can be tempting to listen to music that matches your mood. But man, what a difference it can make when you choose to listen to music that encourages and lifts you up.

This is one thing I put into practice last year that really helped me. I enjoy listening to music on any day, but when I’m going through a hard time, I feel like it is almost vital to my survival (that may be putting it a little dramatically, but I think you know what I’m trying to say).

Last year I put together a playlist of songs that really spoke to me. I almost felt like they were written just for me and what I was going through. On those days that I felt like I didn’t have the strength to go on, I would turn on this music and it would encourage and fill me with life again.

So, I wanted to share this playlist with you! Whether you’re having a great day or a not-so-great one, I hope that these songs encourage you and brings joy to your day.

[If for some reason you're not able to see the playlist above, you can access it by clicking on this link.]

If you love any of these songs, you can find them all on either iTunes or Amazon. I encourage you to go and support the artists listed!

Now, I would LOVE to hear…what are your favorite songs that encourage you?

Pursuing Peace

  Tiffany  January 6, 2014   2 Comments

As I’ve been working through and refining my goals for 2014, I’ve chosen a word that I want to define this coming year for me: PEACE.

In general, last year was not very peaceful for our family. It was quite the opposite.

I used to think that I would only have true peace when difficult things stopped happening, when our circumstances turned around and all was good again. But during the hardest year of my life, I learned that I could have peace in the midst of the storm.

The only way we can truly experience peace in our lives is when we completely surrender our life and our circumstances to God, and trust Him.

It’s definitely not always easy. In fact, holding onto peace can be quite challenging, especially when you’re experiencing great heartache or trouble. But it is possible. Peace is not usually something that just happens. It is something we have to actively pursue on a daily basis.

Let me clarify, peace is easily attainable. God wants all of us to walk in peace, it is a gift that he freely gives and withholds from no one. But too often our thoughts, emotions, our need for answers, our struggle for control, etc. stand in the way of that.

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.” – Isaiah 26:3-4

Peace is a promise. And God always keeps his promises. All we need to do is trust him.

That is one of my major goals this year, to walk in complete PEACE. For me, this means saying NO to worry, fear, anxiety, stress, my need and desire to know what “the plan” is, expectations of perfection, and my need for the approval of others. And it means saying YES to trusting and being still and knowing that HE is God.

What word would you like to define 2014 for you? If you have no idea, I encourage you to take some time to think on this carefully. And feel free to come back and share in the comments below what your word is for the year.

I pray that this next year is peaceful for you as well. May God’s peace wrap around you like a fuzzy blanket on a cold winter’s day (such as today) and may it stay with you throughout the year.

[The same day that I decided that "Peace" was going to be my word for this year, Jonathan found one of my favorite mugs, pictured above, that I had misplaced. I loved that little confirmation, and I look forward to drinking my coffee or tea from this mug throughout the year as a reminder.]

I have to warn you that my nerdy side is going to be widely exposed in this post (although not entirely, because I will refrain from going into great detail of my love of Star Wars and Star Trek today). But this is a place of honesty and transparency, so here I am…nerdiness and all!

I mentioned earlier that I absolutely love this time of year and the newness and fullness of potential it brings. And I also love getting organized and preparing myself for the best year yet. That means a lot of things (and I won’t mention all of them now), BUT for me it does include fun organizational tools.

So that is what I’m sharing with you today! Here are some of my favorite tools for an organized year:

Tools-for-an-Organized-Year

1. An amazing planner. For the past couple of years, I have tried going all-digital and using only my iPhone and Google Calendar for my planner needs. And as wonderful as these tools are, the lack of paper in my life proved to be an epic fail. I do much better when I can physically write something down and cross things off my to-do list. It makes my heart leap with joy! My incredible husband got me The Simplified Planner by Emily Ley for Christmas, and I think all our neighbors heard me squeal for joy when I opened it. That man of mine, he knows the way to my heart. This planner is everything I ever wanted in a planner, and it has helped me so much already this week. (Emily has one last shipment of planners going out at the end of this month, so if you’re going to get one, order fast). Of course, you don’t have to have this specific planner to have an organized year. But I encourage you to get one that makes you happy when you see it and that works for all your needs.

2. Goal Setting. The past week I have been reading and working through Lara Casey’s Goal Setting steps. Go read her posts on Goal setting! Go do it! It’s inspiring and amazing. Lara is one of my favorite people on the internet, she is always so life-giving and full of inspiration.

3. Power Sheets by Lara CaseyThese sheets are designed to help you work towards your goals this year and to purposefully live the life you’ve dreamed of. I ordered mine at the beginning of this week with some birthday money, and I am so excited to get them in the mail! She is shipping this set on January 9th, so you can still order some to receive soon. Lara also makes them available throughout the year at different times, so stay tuned, if you don’t get them before this shipment. I’ll keep you posted on how I use them!

4. Pencil Pouch. I like having little pouches to contain all my pens and doodads. I picked out this one from Amazon, and I’m excited to get it in the mail soon!

5. White-Out Correction TapeI am kind of a perfectionist at times, so I like to have some correction tape on hand in case I mess something up. This comes in handy, so I don’t have to scribble things out.

6. Washi TapeSometimes you just need pretty washi tape to decorate your planner or tape little reminders or lists into it. I am a fan of this variety of colors (and the price tag isn’t bad either!).

7. Pens and more pensI am a fan of pens. The Sharpie pens are my absolute favorite, and Jonathan always gets me some for Christmas (I sure do love that man). I also wanted some colored pens specifically in kelly green and teal colors, so I am trying out these Uni-ball gel pens. I’ve read good reviews on them, and am excited to give them a try.

8. Paper ClipsBecause you’ll never know when you’ll need to clip something (a list, a reminder, a photo, etc.) to your planner. And GOLD paper clips just make everything prettier and more exciting.

9. Post-it NotesPost-it notes have been some of my dearest friends throughout the years. I love writing scriptures, to-do lists, reminders, love notes, recipes, etc. on them. I need more Post-it Notes in my life. And the fact that these come in pretty neon colors makes it even better.

So, there you have it! A few of my favorite tools for an organized year.

Now, I would love to hear, what are your favorite organizational tools? Do you have a favorite planner, pen, or something I didn’t mention? Please do share in the comments below.

Happy Organizing, my friend!

Happy New Year! There is something almost magical that comes with the beginning of a new year. We get a fresh start, a clean slate, another chance to live our best year yet. It is full of mystery and unknown possibility. What will this year hold? What memories will be made? What goals will be accomplished?

IMG_9537-Copy-copy-copy

I realize that every day can be like this. Each day is new, and if we are completely honest, there isn’t really anything special about New Years Day. You don’t have to wait until this specific day to make goals or live your life differently, you can do that anytime, anywhere. But I still love this time of year and the fresh feeling of endless possibilities that come with it.

New Years also causes me to think and reflect on the past year and the ups and downs that came with it. What were the highlights? The lowlights? What have I learned from my experiences in order to grow and be better for this next year?

In all transparency, 2013 was rough for our family. It was the hardest year of my life. We dealt with many health issues, for both me and our son, Liam. Some complicated, some just annoying. We had close friends and family move farther away from us, which felt like a loss in and of itself. But the hardest part of this year was losing two precious babies through miscarriage within four months of each other. I felt as though my heart had been ripped out, thrown into a gorge, and trampled by Wildebeest a la The Lion King style. Ouch.

I share all of this with you, not to drag you down with all the depressing stuff we’ve dealt with, but to be honest with where we have been in order to show how God has been so faithful to us in the midst of it all.

I do not believe for one second that God willed for any of this to happen to us. I do not think that God causes bad things to happen to His children. He loves us deeply and doesn’t want us to hurt. We live in a broken world, and bad things are a result of that. I still don’t fully understand why these things happened, and I won’t pretend to understand or know it all. I asked “WHY?” many times this year, and I still do not have an answer, but I am okay with not knowing.

Because here is what I do know…

God is a good God, He is always with us, and He LOVES us. And this year, I have experienced that goodness, that closeness, and that love greater than I ever have before.

In the midst of my life’s greatest storm, God wrapped me in His arms and sheltered me from the wind. I still felt the rocking of the boat and the sting of rain on my face, but I knew I was safe because He was there and He would never leave me.

And then He said, “‘Peace, be still.’ And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.” (Mark 4:39)

Now, as I stand on the edge of a New Year (with a healthy baby on the way) and the hope and promise that comes with it, I look back on 2013 with gratitude, for I know God’s faithfulness better than ever before. I now know what it is like to completely surrender my life and circumstances to Him and to find joy in trusting that God has very good things in store.

I am sure you have dealt with your own trials and difficulties this year, and I pray that you experience God’s love, joy, and peace like never before. There is something so redeeming about looking back on a difficult season and recognizing what ways you have grown or learned from that experience. Reflection can cause transformation, if we allow it.

So, I would love to hear, what have you learned from your experiences (the good and the bad) in 2013 that will help you grow and live more fully this next year?

IMG_9702 copy

Happy New Year! 2014, you are looking mighty fine already.

[On a related note, my husband, Jonathan, spoke this past Sunday on "Hope for Every Season". He shared some from our personal experience this past year and how God gave us hope in the midst of a difficult season. If you are in need of hope, or just want to be encouraged, it would be worth watching.]

Hope for Every Season from Full Life Assembly of God on Vimeo.

[Photos by Kelsey Harrison Photography]