Training Program for CHOSEN 2017

  Dawn and I have had several requests for what program we are using to train for our half marathons. We have combined several plans into one that has worked really well for us. Last year, we ran a full half marathon TWICE before the actual race day. This was great for me as I had not run a half before and was very nervous about attempting that distance.  We have tweaked a few things for training this year, like adding in hills....lots of hills. The CHOSEN half is run along River Road in New Braunfels, Texas. We call it the Hill Country and this course is all hills. Gorgeous, gorgeous road along a river that flows through heavily wooded hills....but still....lots of hills for these Houston gals. We are also adding in quite a bit of cross training this time to boost our overall level of fitness.

  We officially started training May 28th and race day is November 18th.  I added in seven extra weeks to the beginning of the program for those who need to work their way up to running three miles. For the cross training days, we just look up workouts on Pinterest. You can search 'ab circuits', for example. I do like to record our favorites so that we can do them again. 

  Good luck to all those who are training! Feel free to comment or email if you have any questions about the program! 

 

CHOSEN: Introducing Dawn + Why She's Running for Adoption

WHY?

 

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."  -James 1:27

 In just nineteen weeks we are going to run, walk, and crawl 13.1 miles in New Braunfels, TX at the Chosen Marathon for adoption.  WHY? Why would anyone run a half marathon in the first place? Well, I’ll tell you it’s not because I love to run. Honestly, running is kind of tortuous.  Yes, its great exercise and you can burn tons of calories, but that's not the WHY that will push me to the finish line.  

 I’m running to help bring love, hope and life to a child in Haiti. My precious friends, Josh and Ashley Lee, are adopting their daughter from Haiti and the Chosen race is an amazing fundraiser for families and groups supporting the fatherless.  Our team name is “It’s a Love Haiti Relationship”, I know, right? The training plan is all set; long runs on Saturdays, cross training during the week, hydrate, hydrate, and hydrate.  

 I want you to join me and my wonderful neighbor, Jessica Albers, who most of you know, as we journey to the finish line.  The average cost for an international adoption is $30k.  For that reason we have set a huge fundraising goal, one that seems astronomical for two stay-at-home mommas to achieve, but we both know that with God, ALL things are possible.  We would cherish your support and prayers as we work hard to raise $5,000 for the Lee Family!

 It will be tough. There will be mornings that I will NOT want to get out of bed and lace up. I know I’ll have setbacks and missed workouts, such is life.  However, knowing that we can be a small part of helping to change the life for one very special daughter is all the WHY I’ll need. 

 For the Fatherless.

 Dawn

Chosen 2016

Are you excited?  I sure am!  Here are all of the details for how you can participate and support us:

DIRECT DONATION:  You can donate directly toward our $5000 goal on Dawn's race page. 

VIRTUALLY RUN WITH US: Are you a runner or maybe you would like to try a half marathon with the race day pressure?  You can run with us virtually!  We'll be posting our workouts and would love to know that you're running, wherever you are, with us. Register online and be sure to select our team: It's A Love Haiti Relationship. You can raise money for our team!  Click here for details. 

HOST A CLASS: As mentioned in the video, I will be donating over 50% of my class fees toward our goal.  To be a hostess, go to my Workshops & Parties page for all of the details. If you would like to attend a class, but do not want to be a hostess, email me jessica@reveleighandco.com and let me know. I'll be scheduling a few public classes between now and race day.

SHOP: 25% of all online and custom sales are going toward our big goal.  Shop my online store or send me the details about your custom project. 

PRAY: Most important!  If God can turn a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish into a meal for 5000 people, then he can certainly multiply our efforts and our pennies.  We'll be posting prayer requests on our CHOSEN Prayer Wall page (it's under our About tab). Please check there, leave encouragement, and keep this whole event covered. 

SHARE: This is a biggie. Please share our posts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.  Tag your friends and family.  One person can't change the whole world, but we can certainly change the world for one little girl from Haiti.  

Daily Devotion: Fearless

"But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob; he who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior."
- Isaiah 43:1-3 -

  Fear comes in many forms and it affects most of us on some level in our day to day lives. For many of us, fear rears it's ugly head as anxiety or worry and we know it by it's symptoms: procrastination, avoidance, trouble sleeping, racings thoughts, overwhelming fatigue and a quickening heart rate. Are any of these familiar?  They are to me. Many of my fears are grounded in childhood and growing-up experiences where worst case scenarios did come to life, and just as many more are caused by my imagination taking over where Jesus should be.  All of those 'what ifs'.  You probably have a few of those of your own.   
                  

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
— Franklin Roosevelt

  What I have learned about fear is that it is the number one cause of failure.  True failure, not just a 'fail' here and there. Fear keeps us from stepping out in confidence, or from taking a first step at all. Fear keeps us at home, where it's safe, and limits our ability to influence the world around us. Fear separates us from taking risks and of any lesson I have learned, taking risks is essential in reaping the rewards of success in whatever area of pursuit. Risk tells us to add a little more weight, or to raise that bar just a little bit higher (or maybe to take it up higher than we ever thought we could go). Risk says, "Go!" where fear says, "No!"  Risk is not always certain, in fact, most of the time it isn't certain at all; it's a leap of faith. 
  Are you struggling with fear?  Are your fears based on past experiences or are they future fears, worrying about what might happen?  Following God can feel very risky, after all, for most of us, we have not had a sit down with the Most High outlining the details of our earthly journey. We don't know what it coming around the next bend in the road. Will it be a scenic view or a precarious mountain side path? Will the weather be calm or stormy? Will we be hurt or arrive at our final destination unscathed? What we do have are promises from God. He is the same yesterday, today and forever and he is faithful to his promises. Nothing can separate the children of God from their Father. 

Daily Devotion: FOCUS

"Commit your work to the LORD."
Proverbs 16:3

 

   In that moment when the sea was raging and the sky was dark and thunderous, Peter stepped out of the boat and walked toward Jesus....On. The. Water. His focus: Jesus. Just Jesus. All Jesus. To be near his Jesus, his friend and his teacher.   A few steps forward and he became suddenly aware of what was happening around him.  He was walking on water during a storm. He saw everything else and took his eyes away from Jesus and immediately began to sink. 

  The work is never-ending. While Peter sank beneath actual waves, how often do we drown under the energy-zapping distractions that come with a constantly growing To Do list. The work that we do can become all-consuming.  Whether that work is running a business, working for someone else or raising kids and taking care of the home front (or all at the same time), we can quickly and easily become consumed. Work that was once inspiring and invigorating becomes drudgery. Our priorities become skewed and procrastination, distraction and even depression can set in. We grasp at anything and everything in an attempt to feel some measure of success and stability when we feel like our world is dissolving into chaos. 

Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.
— Psalm 127:1-2

  If you are feeling as though you are doggy paddling in the middle of a stormy sea, working hard but making no progress, here is something for you to try: fix your eyes on Jesus.  How does a person do that?  Through prayer.  Pray constantly, in all things. If it is bothering you, it is of great enough importance to take before the throne of grace. Ask Jesus to step in and assume his place as Lord over your home, your work, your business, your family....you. "Jesus take the wheel," as Carrie Underwood would say. When we align our work with the will of God, it will yield success. Perhaps not in the way that we originally planned, but God is good and he is faithful.  

Daily Devotion: The Pay Off of Hard Work

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men." 
Colossians 3:23

How often do we find ourselves grappling with a challenge or struggle of some kind? We scour the internet looking for answers, for quick fixes, or DIY solutions for our messy houses, our tight budgets, or our not-so-swimsuit-ready bodies. "There has to be an easier way!", we say to ourselves in frustration. Perhaps this situation is also familiar: Our dear friend, Sally we'll call her, gets up early, works out, works from home, volunteers at the school, keeps her house spick-n-span, has four well-behaved and happy children, and brings the most amazing home-baked goodies to mom's group on Monday mornings. Sally has it all together. She must just be gifted at all things domestic.  That's it. It must all come easy for her. 
  What we don't see is the hard work that Sally puts into keeping her world going. We assume that it comes easy because we only see the results and not the effort she puts into keeping all of her plates spinning. This is a common excuse. Oh, she's fit because it's in her genes. Oh, she was born organized. Oh, it must be so nice to be a morning person. Oh, she is SO lucky to have such good kids. Oh, it must just come naturally to her. 
  Oftentimes when things don't come easily to us, we throw our hands up and give up.  This didn't make everything better immediately so I'm just not going to try anymore. How many New Years' resolutions end with a similar sentiment?  The key ingredient for success is simple but it is not easy. Proverbs 14:23 says that, "All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty." Ouch....  We're not just talking about financial gains here. Just searching for diets and workouts on Pinterest won't help me lost those pesky pounds and talking about my business plans with my husband won't actually bring in new clients.  I have to go out and sweat through some tough runs to see any physical change and I'll probably have to adjust my eating habits too and if I want new clients, I'm going to have to go out there and get them. 


    What if we let ourselves go and changed our approach to life in general?  What if we actually did work for the Lord in everything that we do like it says in Colossians? What if we just 'did' and put 100% into whatever tasks needed attention that day? What if every decision we made was prefaced by the question, "Is this what God wants for me?" Partnering self-discipline, which directly links goals and accomplishments,  with hard work is a powerful force and when the two are aligned with the will of God, seeking his approval over anything else, that's when impossible things happen. The results may not be immediate, but results are guaranteed.  It's all up to you. 
  When has hard work paid off for you? What is an area of your life where a little hard work would make a huge difference? 
 

Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.
— Anonymous

Goethe says that, "Everything is hard before it is easy."  This makes starting any new change difficult because we may have to wait for success, but it does make that final goal so much sweeter when we meet it. When we realize that our house hasn't been a total disaster in a while, our jeans are now too big,  or we find ourselves having to turn away clients because our calendar is full....can you even imagine?  It's all possible. 
  What changes are you willing to do to reach that goal that's been lingering out there for a while? Today is a great day to make things happen. Go to bed tonight knowing that you killed it today. Hit the pillow tired in a good way, from hard work, instead of feeling incomplete, unaccomplished and overwhelmed. 

Daily Devotion: Lay Down Your Burdens

   Do you know that feeling when you're laying in bed in the middle of the night, totally exhausted and desperate for sleep, but your mind is racing out of control? Sometimes it feels like a bag of bricks is sitting on your chest and you can't seem to get a full breath. Heart pounding, soul wrestling, body aching and mind whirling.  It's amazing how much agony a struggling soul can cause on the inside while the outside looks just fine. My husband, sound asleep next to me, has no idea that I am being kept awake by this flood of grief and guilt and worry.  
   I worry about my kids.  I grieve over what I have lost and what will never be. Guilt is probably the worst because it just eats away at you; constantly gnawing and nagging.   So many mistakes. So many wrong turns. So many times when I was more than capable and yet chose to do nothing.  Maybe if I worked harder or if I took a different path things would be better.  Should I keep fighting so hard? Is it worth it? 
  "I remember my affliction and my wanderings, the guilt, grief, bitterness and shame. My soul well remembers them and is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:  Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, 'The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.' The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him." (Lamentations 3:19-25)  
  Guilt, grief, shame and worry are not of God and he does not want his children to be kept awake at night by them.  Come out of sadness, come broken and bleeding, come from wherever you've been, come as you are and lay your burdens at the throne of God. 

 I'm working on memorizing this statement below so that when I have these times where life seems so out of control to the point of agony, I will be armed with the truth of who I am and who I belong too.   

I AM the daughter of a king who is not moved by the world. For my God is with me and goes before me. I do not fear because I AM HIS
— Author Unknown

Keeping Pace

   A long time 'Bucket List' goal of mine has been to run a half marathon.  My kids are at an age now where they don't totally depend on me for their every need and I can finally dedicate the time needed to train for a race of this magnitude and I am at a stage in my life whee I feel that I have the mental focus and strength to get it done. In high school and college, I was a sprinter and a high jumper, both being on the opposite end of the track and field spectrum from long distance racing.  In sprinting, you don't reserve anything. The gun goes off and you have to go from 0 to 100% immediately and then sustain it until you cross the line. Long distance is a whole different game. You have to pace yourself. Start too slowly and you'll never catch up with the rest of the runners. Start out to quickly and you will be spent before you cover the full distance.  Pacing has been incredibly difficult for me.  Everything in me says, "GO!" but I have to reserve myself enough to make it to the end. 
  My husband is a distance runner.  He ran cross country in high school and was one of those crazy people who can run a mile in five minutes. Even now, after not running for almost a decade, he can just up and decide to go knock out 3-5 miles like it was a stroll through the park. He has told me that it's all a mental game, more about what is going on in the mind and keeping  thoughts positive and steady, than about what is happening in the legs. He is totally right!  I have realized that even outside of running, I struggle with pacing. That sprinter impulsivity, the desire to GO, right now, nothing held back, is strong.  I get frustrated when I feel like things, at work especially, aren't progressing as quickly as I would like them to and I find that I start reaching for things that I have no business doing yet. God knows what I do not and he has allowed me to run head first into a few brick walls when I had tried to jump the gun and push forward into things that I now see I was not ready for.  "The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps," says Proverbs 16:9. Life is a marathon, not a sprint and God knows what's coming around the next bend. He knows where the hills, valleys and muddy trails are. We may feel like, "Hey! I got this. I know where I want to go and I'm just going to GO!" and we miss that still, quiet voice saying, "Hold up! Slow down! You don't know what's coming!" 


    We usually read the verse "Do not be anxious about anything..." as meaning that we shouldn't worry, but anxious can also mean to desire something very much to a point where we are uneasy. Have you experienced this type of anxiety?  I definitely have and my usual response to feeling this way is to rush into something. I don't rest on God's timing or on his plan. We know that God works to bring about our good in all things, even in seasons of waiting or when we need to slow our pace down a bit (Romans 8:28). It is for us to trust in him, fully and completely, and allow ourselves to depend totally on his wisdom and plan for our lives (Proverbs 3:5-6). When we do this and keep pace with our Heavenly Father, we will finish the race and will accomplish all that he has laid out for us to do. 
   How about you?  Are you a sprinter like me and find yourself always jumping the gun or rushing into things? Or maybe you are a little slow on the take and struggle to keep up or are afraid to join the race at all?  

On Things Above

   Nick and I started a new Sunday School series yesterday about discovering the purpose of our life's story. While Pastor Gene was talking, I reflected about my life and realized that there are still seasons of my life, decades old (that is a scary phrase to say 'decades old'), that are still causing me significant grief and pain. It is so easy to allow negatives to distract and takeover our lives instead of seeking the significance and the blessings that come through these momentary sufferings.  In our culture especially where we are constantly stimulated by images of faux perfection, it can become all to easy to sink back into ourselves and wallow in what we perceive to be our shortcomings.  To ease the pain we justify our misery and why we aren't moving forward by pulling out our long list of 'can'ts'.  Maybe some of these are familiar:
                         " I can't keep my house clean because I have small children."
                         " I just can't get up early." 
                         " I would love to work from home, but I just can't... kids."
                         " I could never run a half marathon/ participate in that sport." 
                         " I can't compete with the others."
                         " I can't do that because I didn't go to school for it." 
   This list is pretty general, but I know that you can relate to at least one. Even if you yourself haven't said any of these, someone you know has.  All of these have been said to me by friends. The things that you aren't doing right or the things that haven't gone your way can so easily consume you and hinder any progress forward.  All of your can'ts are holding you back.  
   Let me share with you something that I have experienced over and over again: Negativity draws other negative people and experiences to you and is about as dependable as gravity. If you think or feel negative and you speak negatively, you will draw others to you who are doing the same thing. It will be impossible to ever achieve anything if you are held down by your own negativity. 
    God is not a god of 'can'ts'.  He is a god of the impossible, of underdog victories and of big 'can dos'.  He has quite a habit of taking the small, the weak and the unqualified and using them to turn the world upside down. See David and Goliath.  Paul even writes about this in 1 Corinthians 1:27  "But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong."  When you are at your weakest, when all hope seems lost and the doom of failure is about the only option you have left, that is precisely when God shines. His strength overcomes and fills in where your weakness has left a void. 


   So, set your minds on things above:

When you're exhausted
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." - Matthew 11:28

 When you've made a mistake
 "There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." - Romans 8:1

When you're overwhelmed by grief
" He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." - Revelation 21:4

When you can't face the person in the mirror
"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." -Romans 12:2

When you're stressed
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." - John 14:27

When someone close hurts/disappoints you
"Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the LORD has forgiven you, so you must also forgive." Colossians 3:1

 When you've missed a goal
 "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me." - 2 Corinthians 12:9


  Not sure how to shift your attitude from negative to heavenward?  Pray. All the time. When those feelings creep up, snuff them out with prayer. God wants our eyes on him, and from experience, he will always answer your calls for help when your desire is closeness with him. 

Early Mornings

How do you feel about getting up early?  Whenever I tell people about my early morning wake up time I get a wide variety of responses.  "Why would you get up that early when you don't have to?!", "Don't you work at home?", "I don't do mornings.", "I get up when my kids do." and my personal favorite, "I wish I could get up early, but I just can't."   Today, I am sharing how getting up early has changed my life in a huge way and why I can guarantee that an earlier wake up time could change your experience with motherhood and your work life. 

*Before we get started let's make sure that one thing is perfectly understood between us.  I am not a morning person and I am not a night person.  I am a sleep person. My parents and husband can attest to my very real need for a solid eight hours of sleep.  Everything that follows needs to be understood in this light.  Okay?  Okay. 

Waking up before my kids.  When I am woken up unexpectedly, i.e. by the screams of a child or the poking of a little finger, my day has happened to me. I did not choose how I woke up, I was awoken and immediately sucked into my day.  No preparation. No time to focus. No choice. No control. My day is now in the power of someone else and that someone else may have woken up on the wrong side of the bed. I am rarely woken up by my kids anymore (because I get up early), but those days when I do sleep in, I find that my whole day becomes lost. I am not nearly as productive, I don't have any quiet moments and I end up frustrated with every human who happens upon me. When I wake up before my kids, I wake up to a quiet, dark house and ease into my day. My coffee pot is set the night before, so I can shuffle out into my kitchen filled with the aroma of freshly brewed coffee. I sit, alone, for a few minutes, sipping my coffee, reading a short devotional and taking advantage of a house at peace to pray over the day. Then I slip into my workout gear and I go for an early morning workout. I get home, shower and get dressed all before my family is awake. Let me tell you: I sleep better at night, my day is more focused and regardless of how my kids wake up, I am grounded and ready for them. They get up to a happy mom who is ready to snuggle them while they finish waking up. 

- Early Saturday mornings too.  I do sleep in a little bit on Saturdays, but still get up at least thirty minutes before my kids usually launch out of bed.  Some of you may be ready to throw a pillow at me, but hear me out.  When do you feel most rested?  While you're sleeping that extra hour, or when you have an hour of quiet (that you're awake for) to just 'be'?  For me, I need that peaceful awake time.  Now, having these early morning hours does mean that I am in bed earlier than most. Lights out for me is typically around 10p.  "That's crazy!" you say, "When do you watch TV or go party or surf the internet for hours?"  Well, it's not crazy and I just don't.  My kids go to bed and my hubby and I spend a little bit of time together. We both love to read so sometimes it's just sitting in bed reading next to each other and I spend enough time on social media during the day for work that I really don't need to stay up late to catch up with anybody.   

Waking up with purpose.  I alluded to this under the first point, but I wanted to focus on this a little bit more.  Do you constantly wish that you had more hours in your day?  Is there always a shortage of time?  I could write a month's worth of posts about how to manage your time, but for our purposes right now I will share this little tip:  Add more hours by waking up early and manage those hours by planning for them the day before.  My work out clothes are laid out in my bathroom while I am getting ready for bed so that in the wee morning hours when I hit the pavement, I don't waste valuable time searching for my shoes, ear buds or Zoe's leash. Same goes for the kid's lunches and clothes, the coffee pot, breakfast, and any packages that I need to drop off at the post office while I'm out dropping off the kiddos at school. If I have errands to run, I make a list and put it in my purse.  Errands are always easier in the morning while everybody else is at work. The second my alarm goes off in the morning, I know what I need to do and I do it. This is that 'huge' habit that has changed my life and I don't use that phrase loosely. 

Sunrise I have been through some pretty dark seasons.  There is something therapeutic, something that touches your soul, about seeing the sun rise. The hope and the promises that are kept each morning when those first rays creep over the horizon bring renewal and healing.  If you've never seen the sun rise, I encourage you to try it tomorrow.  Even if it is grey outside, get up before the sun.  

When do you get up?  Have you ever tried getting up early? Do you think that all this 'early morning' business is crazy talk?  

Attitude

    I love to hear about people overcoming monstrous obstacles to do amazing things.  Nothing inspires me more than watching others pound their own person tragedies into the ground.  Those David facing Goliath, against insurmountable odds, stories with victorious endings for the underdog. For a long time now, I have meditated about what makes these specific people rise above while others wither and are crushed. The circumstances don't necessarily even have to be those of tragedy or struggle. Life for some seems to be all they can handle.  Faith in God is an overwhelmingly common thread to these stories and second to faith is attitude which is where we will be focusing today.  
   There are two components to your attitude:  The first is how you handle obstacles.  If I find a mountain before me, I am going to put my head down and I am going to get over that mountain. Ain't no thang going to stop me.  Others may find themselves at the foot of that same mountain crying and weeping because there is no way they'll be able to get over it. It's too big. They're too tired. Their such-and-such hurts. Their grandpa died climbing a mountain so they can't. It's just too busy here at the foot of the mountain and to try to take on climbing the mountain, well, just forget about that. The great innovator Henry Ford once said that, " Whether you think you can or think you can't, you're right."  How true are those words?  Where are you on the attitude spectrum?  I'll tell you, I am an eternal optimist....which....is quite amazing that I have remained so when you look at a timeline of events over my lifetime.
    The second part of your attitude is your general outlook regarding your day-to-day life. Do you know someone who is negative all the time?  Seventy year old Mrs. Smith at church has ovarian cancer, yet every Sunday she's sitting there in her spot singing away, greeting everyone with a smile and faithfully brings her famous coffee cake for Sunday School. She never complains about her condition, despite the horrible pain she's in and how sick the treatments make her. Then there's Mrs. Jones. If Mrs. Jones won the lottery, she would complain about the taxes she would owe on it. She let's everyone know that her children are giving her a difficult time. She responds to your 'How are you?" greeting with an eye roll and an exasperated, "Busy!" or, if it's a really bad day, you may only receive a moan as a response. She doesn't clean her house because it'll just get messy again so why bother. In fact, she doesn't do much of anything.  


    Your attitude is not something you're born with. You may have a tendency to lean one way or the other and, while you don't have any control over what happens, you are in complete control over how you respond to it.  What you allow to happen in your thoughts come to life in your attitude.  Proverbs 4:23 NCV says to, "Be careful about what you think. Your thoughts run your life."  This verse is so powerfully true and not only just for your individual experience, your attitude affects how others see you. If you are a small business owner, the success and future of your business rests firmly and squarely on your attitude. Stephen Hawking, the famous physicist who is bound to his wheelchair due to a slow onset form of ALS, said, "People won't have time for you if you're always angry or complaining."  I know from personal experience that negative attitudes have end friendships and have hindered the success of businesses. I've seen it and it's a sad thing because it is so unnecessary. 
   Where are you at?  Are you in need of an attitude check?  Walk through the following questions for a little self-check:
1.  How do I speak about my husband/boyfriend, children, job, life in general?
2. Do I look for the good in situations, or do I tend to focus on the negatives?
3.  Am I hopeful about the future or do I fear it/see certain failure?
4.  Do I see myself as in charge of my life or does life happen to me?
5.  Am I consistently seeking commiseration or do I focus on encouraging others?
6. Do I consider myself to be a pleasant person, a joy to be around? 



      

Willingness

Yesterday I wrote about my theme for the year. (Catch it here if you missed it!) Underneath that theme is a whole list of goals and whenever a goal is set, there has to be a willingness in both heart and mind to reach it. Take a look at the goals you have set either for this year or any long term goals that you are working on. Ask yourself the following questions:

1. What are you willing to do to make x happen?
2. Are you willing/able to wait?
3. What are you willing to give up/sacrifice?
4.  What are you willing to work hard for?
5.  How far are you willing to stretch yourself?
6.  What walls are you willing to knock down?
7. Are you willing to trust God's plan for you?
8.  Are you willing to ask for help/seek help?
9.  Are you willing to try or try something new?
10.  What are you willing to overcome?

IMG_3733.JPG

  I have no scientific basis for this next statement, only my own life experience and the experiences shared with me by others, but I will guarantee that the only thing that keeps us from ultimate success is our own unwillingness to do what it takes to get there. Even those things that we are really excited about can be sabotaged by underlying fears or barriers. 

   What goals are you working towards this year?  How are you feeling about them? Are they new goals or do you feel like you've been recycling the same ones year to year? Do you spend time praying over your goals/ the things you are working toward? 

  

Intentional

  The first Monday of the New Year is, in my opinion, the most energetic and purposeful day of the year. For many of us today is the day when our resolutions really start. We're going to finally do that thing that we've been meaning to do or make that change that we've been intending to make. It's going to happen. This is the time to make it so. We're motivated by the energy of all of the other 'resolutioners' around us; an army of idealists who are all hyper-focused on the tasks at hand.  
    However, underneath the festive enthusiasm, we all know the truth about resolutions. By the end of the month, most of us will have thrown in the towel. Done. Did really great that first week, but by week two?  Forget it. This seems to be the yearly ritual, doesn't it?  Every December 31st we eagerly await that day when we can finally lose those pesky pounds or run that marathon or change our lives forever. Every January 1st we wake up giddy with excitement and determination. Maybe we can hold out for that first month, but by February.....what was my resolution again? 
  I've been a resolutioner in the past.  Finding myself all too often caught up in the peer-pressure of having the most epic of New Year's To Dos.  The last couple of years have been different, this year possibly the most of all.  Something clicked and I realized that these resolutions were similar to fad diets. They offer the illusion of hope and success, but in the end, they just don't work.  They may get me started but they don't have the staying power to create a real change in my character or in my life in the general sense. Resolutions won't get you through the tough stuff. They don't hold up when you get sick, or when you experience soul-crushing losses. Resolutions are quickly snuffed out by fatigue, depression and anxiety.  They are forgotten when real life responsibilities require your attention. Why is this?  It is because New Year's Resolutions aren't real. (For the most part. There are always exceptions, but for our purposes let's stick to the general sense of the idea.) They exist to help us get over our disappointments from the year before and to help us feel like we have purpose going into the next. 
   This year, I am trying something different. I chose a theme word and a Bible verse that cover my goals for my family and my business.  I wrote it out and posted it on my mirror, on the bulletin board in my office, on my fridge and in my car so that I am surrounded by reminders of my focus for this year.  Below is my word and my verse:

INTENTIONAL: adj. done on purpose; deliberate, conscious, meant, studied, knowing, willful, purposeful, preconceived
— Merriam-Webster Dictionary
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
— 2 Corinthians 12:9

    Being intentional will be a big deal for me this year.  I found myself sick for almost half of 2015 and felt like the weeks just flew by with me grabbing at moments here and there. Fumbling around trying to create order out of the madness only to have more waves of chaos crash down on me. No more of that nonsense. I will be intentional in my prayer life. I will be intentional about strengthening my marriage and ministering to my husband and children. I will be intentional about keeping my home and about being with my family. I will be intentional about cultivating and caring for my friendships. I will be intentional with my 'yes's' and my 'no's'. I will intentionally choose joy and contentment.  I will intentionally serve in my church and community and will be intentionally generous in my giving. I will be intentional with my work hours and will intentionally build a solid business.  Over all of this, I remember 2 Corinthians 12:9.  My weaknesses are many, and let me tell you....I'm tired. I am always fighting against myself and an, at times, overwhelming sense that I am nothing more than a glorified failure. This year, I will work to set aside the guilt and the worry and the feelings of failure and will instead, focus on God's grace and allow it to flood into all of my brokenness. Oh to feel that peace! 

     What about you?  What goals or focuses do you have for this year?  

  Side note: In my efforts to be more intentional with my time, I will be doing things a little bit differently business-wise beginning this year.  The ordering process for all wedding items and for custom artwork will be changing and I will be also be changing my class format and offerings. My blog format will also be going through a major overhaul (happening this week). The plan is to launch the new offering catalog by the end of January.  

Blessings, Jessica