Singleness

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Art creds Joe Webb

 

I was standing on the edge of the dance floor. The lighting was soft and romantic waltz music wafted from a hidden speaker. A few dozen people had coupled off, including most of my friends and siblings. I watched as they danced and laughed and looked each other in the eyes and didn’t even try to hide their affections for each other. I was trying not to look desperate or lonely, because I didn’t exactly feel that way. More aware of my current life position, yes. But not in a negative sense.

Had this happened a few months earlier I know I would have felt just awful. Autumn and Winter were painful for me. I allowed the negative feelings and thoughts to overcome me, and the hurt and bitterness poured out of me in the form of tears and sharp words. I was surrounded by people falling in love and yet for some reason God decided to withhold it from me. It felt personal. And. It. Hurt.

For as long as I can remember I have wanted two things: to be a wife and to be a mother. And I wanted those things as soon as possible! I remember thinking I’d probably get married at the age of eighteen and have my first kid by age nineteen or twenty. My parents and grandparents had all gotten married young and so I thought this was extremely normal. If you told twelve year old me that I would turn nineteen without ever going on a date I probably would have freaked out a bit! I prepared a lot to be a good wife and mom, but I didn’t really prepare for being absolutely single.

To make a long story short, singleness turned out to be a much bigger struggle than I anticipated. And while I am dealing with it in a much healthier and God-glorifying way now than I was a few months ago, I did not, by any means, come to this place easily or of my own power. Three things brought me to this place of contentment that I am currently resting in.

  1. God’s wisdom pouring out of those around me
  2. God’s wisdom in the form of books
  3. and God’s wisdom from His Word

I have a few amazing, Godly, and wise older girl friends who have poured into me tremendously during this rough season. They understand where I’m coming from but provide a different perspective and give me Biblical encouragement and advice. Reading the same things out of a book would have been good too, but I think having people you’re able to go to with your frustrations and heartache is important. Just be sure they are the right people: people you can trust and people who are kind but firm in their convictions and won’t let you wallow in self pity.

Passion and Purity by Elisabeth Elliot was such an encouraging book to read. When I was younger I read a lot of books that talked about how to be the kind of woman a Godly man would be on the lookout for, and they were good books! But I wasn’t really equipped for unwanted singleness. This book is, in my opinion, a must read. Whether you are in a relationship or want to be, you should read this book.  Page after page of gut punchers that were also somehow healing balm for an already sore heart. Elisabeth Elliot tells it like it is, there is no beating around the bush even when it comes to sexual struggles. I wish she could’ve been my best friend, but I’ll have all eternity right? 😉

The Bible is full of promises of God’s will for our lives. It says again and again that He has a plan in EVERYTHING and thinks so high above how we think. It tells us to be content in everything, to be patient, to not be self centered and focused on our own personal struggles. If you don’t or can’t get wisdom from the aforementioned places, get it from here. God’s Word is true and raw and undiluted. Convicting to your core but also comforting and healing. When you find yourself wanting to dwell on hopeless, joyless, and anxiety-ridden thoughts and feelings, remember these promises and remember Who is the ultimate Author of your life story.

 

Has singleness been a bigger struggle than you had anticipated? What has helped you grow through it? Leave a comment!

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7 Steps to Creating Your Blogging Business Plan! Guest Post by Livy Lynn

Did you know there’s a vast variety of ways you can earn income from blogging? 

If you spend much time on Pintrest I’m sure you’ve seen the flashy articles claiming to teach you the secrets of six-figure blogging, or how to explode your web traffic. While the sparkly titles sound promising, the content is usually disappointing as you discover you’re either going to have to: 

  1. Buy something 
  2. Become a full time, 7 day a week blogger. Or
  3. Devote the rest of your life to mastering the algorithms of Pinterest!  


And while learning that you you might have to spend the rest of your life on Pinterest isn’t necessarily a bad thing (can’t get enough of those cute puppies and stellar shoes! Hehehe,) there
 is a better way to go about this.

The truth is, you can develop a plan to slowly start earning income on your blog even if you’re not a full time blogger. Isn’t that exciting?!  

And that’s exactly what we’re going to talk about in this post! Today, I’m going to walk you through the 7 steps of Creating your Blogging Business Plan! 

Deciding What Works Best for You

One of the dangers in attempting copy-and-paste formulas from Pinterest, is it doesn’t give you room to do you. Every blogger is different, with a vast variety of goals, dreams, and ideas of what they’d like to get in return for all their hard work.

I think it’s important for each blogger to have personalized plan, something that works within their time restraints and truly helps launch them toward their goals. That’s why as much as I love writing articles about this topic my favorite thing to do is sit down, one-on-one with authors and bloggers, and ask them where they’re at right now, where they’d like to be in the future, then create a customized Game Plan, a road map to help them achieve their goals! My amazing friend Bella and I do this with our Cheerleader Sessions via Skype (we’re giving away a FREE session at the end of the post, so keep reading!) and if you’re really serious about developing a business plan for your blog, I’d highly recommend that. 

But, even if you never do a session with us, I’d invite you to grab a pen and pad of paper as we dive into these 7 Steps! 

Step #1. Examine Your Foundation 

The truth is, not every blogging platform is ideal for earning income. With my clients, I usually I recommend using WordPress. I know there are like a million options; Square Space, Wix, Weebly, Blogger and while those options aren’t necessarily bad, they’re not always ideal if you want to earn income from blogging. Is it impossible to earn income on those sites? No, not at all! But I will say that WordPress is going to make things a lot easier for you, depending on what your goals are. 

Throughout this post, I’m going to ask you a few questions, so be sure to jot them down and take time answering as thoughts come to your mind! 

My first question is: would you like to host ads on your website?  

This option can include both Google adsense ads, and self-hosted ads, where you sell space on your side bar, or create sponsored content for a client. 

Bloggers have mixed opinions about Google ads. Some LOVE the fact that you can earn passive income, and others get frustrated with the idea of messing up their pretty aesthetic with flashy ads. That’s why, just like I mentioned above, you have to do you! If the idea of having Google ads on your blog makes you shudder: then no worries! Skip this idea, and write a big fat NO, when answering that question! 

But, if you love the idea of earning passive income without having to do, well, pretty much anything other than continuing to create amazing content on your site, then Google ads might be perfect for you! 

Keep in mind that if you desire to implement Google Ads into your blogging business plan you have to have your own domain name. Google won’t allow you to place their ads on a website with a sub-domain, such as livylynn.wix.com or livylynn.blogger.com, livylynn.squarespace.com, etc. This is why it’s important to re-examine your foundation and make sure you’re using the right platform. 

Another option for hosting ads on your website, is to sell banner space, sidebar ads, or sponsored posts, working exclusively with clients that you pick and choose. This option works with any platform that allows you to customize your website and it gives you full control over what your readers will see! I believe that any blogger can implement self-hosted ads into their blogging business plan, if they so desire! If you’re interested in learning more about this option, I would love to talk to you more about it!

2. Think about Brands and Companies You’d Like to Work With   

One of my favorite monetization options is the Amazon Affiliate Program. As you know, Amazon.com boasts millions of products. It’s a popular, well trusted website that nearly everyone shops from! They sell books, movies, CD’s, toys, and even adorable little clothes for your puppy dog. Basically, they have something for everyone. They also have something for every website. Whether your unique niche is focused on raising the perfect puppy, Bible journaling, or Christian music reviews, you can find a way to earn some extra income with Amazon! 

I would challenge you to write down 5 Brands or Companies you’d like to work with. Is there a product you use on the daily, that you’d love to be a spokesperson for? Do you have a favorite clothing brand, makeup company, or Bible-Journaling maker that you’d love to rave about and earn some extra income while you’re at it?

Make your list of your top 5, 10, or even 20 brands you’d like to support, then find out if they have an Affiliate Program, or if their products are listed on Amazon. 

I’d recommend applying for the Amazon Affiliate program before experimenting with any others, because they’re far less picky about who they allow into their program, and if your blog is still super small, it’s not likely you’ll be accepted into other programs right away. Affiliate marketing is something you have to grow into, but you can totally do it!    

4. Physical Products 

Here’s another question. Do you desire to earn all your income strictly through digital, online means, or would you like to create and distribute physical products?   

I have several friends who are bloggers that also love sewing, crafting, and making adorable Etsy-worthy stuff. Using their blog as a platform to market their goods is an amazing way to earn income! 

If the answer to the question above is no, I have another thought for you. 

Do you desire to create a brand of your own where you could sell physical products such as mugs, phone cases, notebooks, etc. with your logo on them? 

Creating print-on-demand, physical products is another possible avenue for income.  

4. Are You an Author? 

Are you an author, or do you aspire to be one? (Even if you’re not an author, don’t skip to #5, because you ARE a writer, if you’re a blogger! ;)) 

Another highly lucrative idea, is to write ebooks. 


“What? E-books?” I hear you question, “How can someone possibly earn money off of e-books when they’re only selling for .99 cents?!”  

Many authors have been successful with selling e-books, but I’d like to invite you to think beyond these small price points, into something bigger. Something much, much bigger, which applies to you, even if you’re not a fiction author. 

Creating a non-fiction e-book chock full of valuable information which your blog readers are already craving, can be marketed and sold with huge profit margins. I teach bloggers how to do this in my online course, Fire Starter: Launching a Blog that Blazes! 

Ask yourself, Is this idea appealing, or not?

Creating and launching a successful, high-profit, non-fiction e-book might sound overwhelming, but it’s actually easier than you may think! Especially because, you have everything you already need. I would love to talk to you about how to look at the topics you’re already blogging about and design a plan to recycle that information, package it together in an amazing book, and serve it to your niche audience! 
 
 

5. Take Stock of What You Have 

I believe that what you have to say, matters. And so do your readers! They’re following you for a reason. They love your heart, believe what you have to say is helpful, and desire more of your wisdom! 

What are five topics my readers have enjoyed the most about my blog, or asked for more of? Take a few minutes to think about your most popular posts, what topic/s you’ve gotten the most responses on, or certain questions your readers ask you. 

For me, when I did this, I realized that everyone was asking about how I started my blog and wanted advice on how to grow theirs. Perhaps for you, your readers ask questions about growing closer to God, how to have Christ-centered relationships, or how to organize their room the way you do! 

If you’re not sure what your readers are enjoying the most and benefiting from, consider sending them an email survey, or even posting it directly on your site, so you can find out what they’re enjoying and would like to see more of in the future. 

Then, ask yourself. Based on my data from previous posts, and my audiences responses, should I consider creating an Online Course or Profitable Ebook to invite readers to dive in deeper on the topic?  

In today’s day and age, so much of our learning happens online. You can learn pretty much anything on the internet! Creating an online course for your blog followers is a great way to package everything you wish to share, for those who desire to dig deeper into your content, and this has very large profit margins as well! 

The next question to ask yourself is: 

What is it that you’re really, really good it? (Designing web pages? Editing or offering feedback on the writing of others? Creating recipes with yummy organic foods? Helping your family get organized? Painting? Interior design? Crafting? Writing songs?)

Your special, unique giftings are needed by the people who read your blog! The more you can zero in on ways you can offer helpful, unique, valuable services to your readers, the closer you are to earning some more income!

7. Formulate Your Plan 

Based on the answers to the questions above, it’s time to formulate your plan. 


If you have an organized mind and enjoy setting goals for yourself, you’ll be ready to dive in and set this plan in motion!

But if you’re like the rest of us, you might need a little help thinking through things, and deciding exactly where to begin. Setting goals are so important and sometimes it can be hard to know what they should be, how long of a time frame we should allow ourselves to get there, and how to keep ourselves accountable along the way.  

If you’re serious about making your blogging dreams become a reality, I would encourage you to enter our giveaway for a free Cheerleader Session! (Don’t worry, if you’re camera shy, we can totally do it via email.)  

Bella and I know that growing an online platform takes work and patience. But we also know that when you have a clear roadmap with consistent, daily steps, you CAN accomplish your goals and dreams!

Entering for a chance to win is super simple! Just hop on over to my blog and sign up for my free email updates (and I’ll throw in a free e-book, just to say thanks!) and you’re all set! Link: https://livylynnblog.us14.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=52a89184eecb2e965d9ddfa27&id=4e615b60ba 


Or, if you don’t want to wait until March 1st to discover who the winner of the Giveaway is, feel free to reserve a Cheerleader Session for yourself, right now!
 https://www.livylynnblog.com/2018/01/15/cheerleader-sessions/ 

Good luck! Bella and I can’t wait to meet you and help create your Game Plan! 

Or, if you’re a blogger who’s looking for a pre-made Game Plan, we have that too! 

I’m SO excited to share my 20 Day video series for bloggers! It’s called Fire Starter: Launching a Blog that Blazes! This interactive course teaches bloggers (both old and new) how to create their dream blog or website, monetize their site, AND give them all the tools, encouragement, and support needed to be truly successful on their journey! 

You can check that out here: https://www.livylynnblog.com/2018/08/21/fire-starter-launching-a-blog-that-blazes/ 

I hope this post has been an encouragement to you and that you’ll follow through with grabbing your Game Plan by either entering the Giveaway above, booking a Cheerleader Session, or checking Fire Starter out! 

Love and blessings to you all! 

~Livy Lynn 

About the Author: 

Livy Lynn is a twenty-something author, singer, and songwriter. She enjoys crafting YA fiction that is pure, lovely, inspirational, and of course, entertaining! When she’s not writing, you can usually find her playing guitar, blogging, drinking peppermint tea, connecting with new friends, planning her next trip to Disney, or pinning images of Europe and Golden Retriever Puppies! 

Come get connected at www.livylynnblog.com 

The Land of Enchantment

The Land of Enchantment. New Mexico is strange. And yes, it is a part of the US. Many probably consider New Mexico a “nothing” State, while nothing could be further from the truth!

I’m going to divide this into at least two posts because I have a lot to say about my current home State!

I’ll start with one of the more well known places. Santa Fe, the capital, is a trendy city teeming with culture and amazing food and art and history. It has a richness to it’s culture few cities I’ve been to capture, and I’ve been to many.

While New Mexico is a relatively young State, Santa Fe is the oldest capital in the US. First settled in 1607 by the Spanish, it also holds some of the oldest buildings in the US. The Palace of the Governors, built in 1610, is a must see for history lovers. It’s now a museum, so you can wander around the 400+ year old building and look at artifacts that predate our country, and see how some of the first governors in North America lived!

If you’re more into food, there are top rated restaurants everywhere.

The Shed has delicious food and a cozy atmosphere that reflects the State so well. They serve New Mexican food, which is completely it’s own category. A staple of New Mexican cuisine is the chile, and you absolutely MUST try at least one dish that’s smothered in it to fully experience New Mexico. I prefer green chile, but there are many out there who prefer red. If you want to try both just ask for your burrito, enchilada, huevos rancheros, etc. “Christmas style.” You’ll get it with a bit of both kind of chiles and decide which you like best.

If you’re more into tea or coffee, this is the place to be. Collected Works Bookstore and Coffeehouse is a must visit. On a perfect day, you could be browsing books, sipping on delicious cold brew, while live jazz is being performed, warm sunshine pouring in each of the windows and reflecting off copper accents. It’s a magical experience everyone needs to have, trust me! They have tea but if you’re looking for an eclectic loose leaf shop, ArtfulTea is your place. There are so many blends to smell and admire, and all kinds of lovely tea accessories for a true tea connoisseur. The atmosphere is warm and inviting and the service is pleasant (yes, even after you spill coffee on their floor. I’m not speaking from experience or anything…)

There are plenty of places to shop and lots of souvenirs, but beware of fake souvenirs. Please make sure if you take something home that reflects Native American culture, it’s made right here in New Mexico by people who lovingly handcrafted something that represents their beautiful and enduring culture and history. Look for tags and signs that show authenticity. And don’t forget to pick up some postcards with photos taken or art made by New Mexicans. Trust me, the authentic stuff is much more special.

By far my favorite experience in Santa Fe is the Santa Fe Farmers Market, located right by the train station at the railyard. Overflowing with local grown and made fruits, vegetables, meat, honey, flowers, bread, and so much more, it’s the essence of my happy place. Here you could also pick up a breakfast burrito (a NM staple, you’ll soon learn), a cup of coffee, a pastry, and make a morning and early afternoon out of it! I guarantee you’ll see some adorable dogs too, and maybe enjoy some live music. What’s not to love?

It’s best to experience Santa Fe on foot. My family likes to come in on the Rail Runner Express, departing Albuquerque around 8:30 Saturday morning and arriving at the Santa Fe Depot around 10am. From there it’s a short walk to the Farmers Market, and a 10 minute walk to the downtown. Just make sure you give yourself enough time to walk back to the station and get on your train on time!

Now here are some things I recommend bringing with you on your Santa Fe trip.

  • Sunscreen and sunglasses – the sun in New Mexico is intense. We’re at a higher elevation most of the time and you will feel and see a difference! Wear plenty of sunscreen (here’s my favorite kind) and reapply as the day progresses.
  • A light jacket or long sleeve button up – even if you go in the summer, the temperatures drop considerably with the sun. My Santa Fe uniform in the summer is a tee shirt with a long sleeve collared button up and shorts. I start off with the shirt unbuttoned with the sleeves rolled up and roll them down as the day progresses. It’s also helpful to protect my neck, shoulders, and back from the sun.
  • Water – you can get free water at places like Starbucks but you will definitely want to bring your own refillable bottle. New Mexico is extremely dry and you will need all the hydration you can get.
  • Lip balm – like I said, it’s dry here! Lip balm is a must have. (Read about my favorite brand here!) Reapply every few hours. This will also help protect your lips from the sun! Sunburnt lips are. the. worst. Prevent them!!!
  • Hand purifier – it’s always a good idea to protect your immunity but especially when you’re traveling! Have hand purifier on you all the time (my favorite here – it’s non toxic!) so you don’t have to pause before eating an ice cream cone to find a public restroom and wash your hands.
  • Thieves Roll-On – keep this lovely in your pocket or purse and roll it on your forearms and the back of your neck throughout the day for germ protection and an added immune boost, especially if you take public transportation!

Enjoy Santa Fe, the slow pace, the gorgeous architecture and surrounding nature, the delicious food, the unique buys, the delightful people, and the glorious sunshine!

I’m Back… Again

 

 

IMG_9644Can I even call myself a blogger anymore? *sigh* Someone needs to be twisting my arm to blog more!

Well it isn’t 2019 yet but I’m going to try, so hard you guys, to post at least every two weeks all next year. Y’all keep me accountable ok? Ideas are always appreciated!

I think I’m going to ramble a bit and give you all a few updates about what’s been going on in my life. 2018 wasn’t nearly as crazy as the last 4 years. Nothing apparently earth moving happened. At the beginning of the year I just really wanted something to shake up my life. I’m not sure if I even prayed for it because I didn’t know what I really wanted, but my heart was wanting something. Then, in early-ish January I was recommended for a job. My first outside-the-home, non-private babysitting job. I did paperwork, typed up a resume, and had an interview. You know I was nervous beyond belief! But God gave me the job. It’s still crazy to me how fast my life changed because of it.IMG_0215Soon after I turned 18, which was weird but not weird enough. Ya girl still feels like she could be 14. How am I an adult with a job already? Where did time go?

In May I graduated and was blessed by my friends and family in ways that I will never forget. I still cry over some of the sweet, encouraging notes I was given. I have never felt so loved.

This Summer was one of the strangest but still one of the best of my life. I made so many new friends and went on adventures, enough to almost tire this low energy homebody. It could’ve been an 80’s movie honestly, minus most of the drama and romance. I went to an amusement park (armed with pain medicine, bandaids, sunscreen, and peppermint essential oil for nausea – I became the ultimate Mom Friend), on a train to Santa Fe when I was the only actual “adult” in the group, to my last youth camp as a student, to the State Fair, and so many other places that I lose count. IMG_9363The Fall was… odd. Full of soaring highs and deep emotional lows. Something about the season made me feel lonely and really, really single (TMI? Maybe. But you all know I try to be as honest and vulnerable as possible with the platforms I have). I witnessed love blossoming all around me, in real life and daily on social media. I couldn’t check my Instagram without seeing another proposal, wedding, new baby… I wasn’t jealous or angry, just painfully aware of my current state. And it is painful! I know I am still young, and I have a “lot of time,” and I know I should use this time I have as a single person to God’s glory, but I am still a weak, fragile, sensitive human. God is working on me though, always!

One of the best things that happened during the Fall, and really all year, was starting to regularly attend a college Bible study group, although I am not in college. Which was a bit awkward for me at first but no one else thought so. I last minute decided to go on a retreat with the group, and its definitely a contender for best decision I made all year.  Stargazing for hours in an empty field we had to hike to may have been the highlight. I’m still baffled I experienced it and didn’t watch it in a movie. It was one of  the best weekends of my entire life.

This Winter has been a blur so far. Thanksgiving came and went and never really felt like Thanksgiving, and Christmas did the same. It wasn’t awful by any means, I still enjoyed the holiday season, but I was lacking those very distinct feelings. I’m still not sure why but it seems to be an epidemic! IMG_0411I’m going into 2019 (somewhat reluctantly, I know it’s awful of me) optimistic. So many people have spoken into my life that this year will be “my year.” It scares me and fills me with so much excited hope at the same time. I don’t know what God has in store but I’m hoping and praying. For what? I’m not exactly sure yet. He’s given me small, but oh so tender signs that He has a plan for me and all I need to do is be still before Him and allow Him to work without worrying, wondering, or complaining. IMG_0435Please tell me about your year, and/or drop me a post suggestion! I love to hear from you all and your thoughts.

5 Things To Do When You Miss Someone, And 1 Thing You Definitely Shouldn’t Do

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Friends moving, siblings going to college, family that lives far away, deployed parents… These are things a lot of us have to deal with. Some, like me, experience or have experienced all of them. And its not easy. It IS easy to fall into damaging patterns and habits though, so I thought I’d share a few tips that have been beneficial to me!

Get busy!

When you can’t seem to get that person off your mind, try doing a productive activity like re-organizing or re-decorating your room, starting a big art project, gardening, or things like volunteering at your church to help in childcare or paint sets for VBS. Group projects are even better, because you can have other people to keep you company and keep your mind occupied! When my brother left for college I moved into his room and it was extremely bittersweet. It made me a lot less sad when my mom and I took a trip to Hobby Lobby and got some things to turn the teenage boy room into a bright and girly room for me.

Get out of the house!

Get together with a friend for coffee. Go see a movie with your family. Take a picnic to the park. Go bowling with a big group of friends. Go to your local farmers market every weekend. Have a Treat Yo Self day at your favorite store. Buy yourself flowers and chocolate from Trader Joes. Whatever sounds fun! When my dad was deployed in 2014, I made new friends that I did things several times a week with. It gave me something to look forward to and helped the time go by faster!

Be hospitable!

Invite people over for a movie or game night. Host a dinner party or a spa night. Have sleepovers or throw birthday parties! Hospitality can be as simple as having a friend over for tea or as extravagant as planning a huge surprise party. It makes you think about others and motivates you to keep your house in order!

Pray for the person you’re missing!

When you think about them, pray for them! They’re probably missing you just as much as you’re missing them. They may be going through a hard time as well. Pray that God would comfort them and lead them, and give them wise and loving new friends to lift them up and encourage them. Thank Him for whatever plans He has in separating you! I remember asking God, almost angrily, why He was sending my dad almost 10,000 miles away for over half a year. But then I immediately realized that God had a plan beyond my understanding, and I needed to trust in that and keep my dad in prayer.

Send them mail!

Everyone likes getting mail, right? A simple “I’m thinking about you!” note could really make someones day. A long letter telling them all your goings-on would probably be well appreciated!  If you have the means, care packages are also really nice. Send them a box of their favorite things! There are so many creative and fun mail ideas online that you couldn’t run out of ideas.

And now, one thing you SHOULD NOT do…

Don’t dwell on negative thoughts!

I, being the worrier I am, can go very quickly to extreme and negative thinking. This led to disturbing dreams when my dad was deployed. Trust me, you don’t want to go there! Don’t allow your mind to trick you into thinking you are isolated and devastatingly lonely. Instead, set your mind on things that are good and true.

“Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, thing about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me — practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8-9 (ESV)

If we keep our minds God-focused, He promises to give us His peace, something all the chocolate and hanging out with friends can’t give us.

 

I hope this blesses you all, in whatever season you’re in and whatever hardship you’re going through! To read my post about friendlessness on Crown of Beauty Magazine, click here.

 

The Four P’s

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Two years ago everything seemed perfect in my life. I had a new city to call my home, a new church with so many potential friends, a gorgeous house… by that summer, my dad had lost his job, I lost an unborn sibling, and I had no close friends. During the good time, Jesus seemed so near I could almost feel Him. He was blessing us CONSTANTLY and I could see it! I could feel His love for me so deeply! I was on fire for Him! But that summer, He put me through deep waters. I asked Him “why?” so many times. “Why did You take my dad’s job away? Why did you take away that baby who would have blessed us so much?” I struggled. My fire went so low, I wondered how it wasn’t quenched sometimes. I tried my hardest to keep my tears and doubts hidden, but sometimes they came without my welcome. At one point I felt this deep darkness so heavy and physically somewhere behind my forehead. I stumbled upon a quote about spiritual attacks, and realized I was under siege. I cried out to God, and I sobbed and asked for Him to rebuke the darkness that was so heavy upon me. I asked for His love and protection from evil. I asked Him to take away my doubt and to keep me close to Him. The heaviness went away miraculously. I felt so free. But my fire didn’t come back with a fury, as I expected it to. It had never left, and it was bigger than before, but it wasn’t huge like I wanted it to be. Days went by when I didn’t read the Bible. I had failed to stick to a reading plan so many times, so I decided to go the passive route instead of one of perfection. I forgot to pray, and when I remembered that it had been days since I had really talked to God, I felt too ashamed to pray. And yet I wondered why God felt far away. I was missing three major things:

Passion

Praise

Patience

and Perseverance

I failed to realize I didn’t need to be perfect or passive about my relationship with God. I needed to be PASSIONATE. My passion and love for His Word should outdo any passivity. I should have realized that perfection is never commanded, nor is it possible. Perfectionism is a form of pride, a way of showing how much I can handle on my own. God wasn’t angry at me for failing to read the Bible through two years in a row. But I know He delights in us delighting in His Word, no matter in what order, how fast we go through it, or how many chapters we get through. 

I failed to praise Him. I have so much, you guys. I have a beautiful house, running water, food, clothing, family, friends… and yet I took the time I could’ve spent praising Him for those things and instead I complained about the things I don’t have. I HAVE JESUS AS MY SAVIOR AND BEST FRIEND. AND YET I TAKE THE TIME TO COMPLAIN ABOUT NOT BEING ABLE TO BUY ORGANIC BEEF. Goodness y’all, I am a fallen human being.

Patience is something we learn when we’re little right? Well, I’m still learning. I was taught a huge lesson in patience when I was 12 years old, and it was one of those times when I saw God work extremely directly in my life. Like, no coincidences possible, it was GOD. I had been praying diligently, every day for something for five months, and God hadn’t answered my prayer yet. I was extremely discouraged and wondered why God wasn’t answering me. That Sunday a quote was on the church bulletin about delayed answers to prayer, and that moment I gave everything to God and told Him I trusted His will completely. The. Next. Day. Literally, my prayer was answered. And yet, I’m still struggling with patience.

I was lacking perseverance. When I got two days into diligently studying my Bible, I would make excuses and waste time doing something else. I would be convicted, start doing what I knew I needed to be doing, and then realize I wasn’t perfect enough and I would quit. You can’t get far in your walk with Jesus without perseverance. 

“Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away.”

Matthew 13:5-6 (ESV)

I don’t want to be rocky ground. I don’t want to abandon the God who loves me, ME, a horrible sinner who can hardly go a moment without sinning in some way, no matter what I go through. Jesus was crucified for me. I can do the littlest things that He asks of me, like reading my Bible, talking to Him, loving those around me, and most importantly loving Him. But its a struggle, I’m not even going to pretend its easy. It’s hard to speak kindly to my family. It’s hard to keep from gossiping to my friends. It’s hard to pick up my Bible. And it’s hard to go to the Lord in prayer for anything and everything, especially if He’s making me wait for what I ask Him for.

I’m fighting every day, every moment not to fall into passivity, criticism, impatience, and apathy. I’m fighting to be a passionate, praising, patient, and persevering child of God. Are you struggling similarly? What are you currently fighting for? Leave a comment, I’d love to know and pray for you!

My Top 18 for 2018

2018 IS HERE!!!I’m excited about the new year. I wanted to put together a list of my top 18 things for 2018 in hopes that maybe these things would also improve your year! Enjoy!The Magnolia Journal! I’ve never seen a more beautiful magazine ever. It’s so inspiring, the little stories always bring tears to my eyes, and the recipes look divine.Girl Defined Ministries. Sooo convicted and encouraged by both their videos and written posts.NingXia Red, I love you. THE tastiest supplement ever, its jam packed with antioxidants and all kinds of amazing nutrients.Savvy Minerals Makeup. I’ve never been more excited about makeup than I am about this brand. Its gorgeous, healthy, non toxic, and cruelty free. Basically it’s the best makeup I’ve ever had.Super Cal Plus. I just got this in the mail and I’m so excited to use it! It has vitamin D and magnesium in it, which I’m 98% sure I’m deficient in so I’m excited to see how it’ll shake things up. All I’ve heard about it is how amazing it is!!Lemon, because I’m using it constantly and I want my life in 2018 to be just as fresh and happy! Joy, because who doesn’t need that? This happy oil keeps my brain where it needs to be, in a state of joy. Frankincense. Frankincense always. This amazing oil has helped boost my immune system, it clears brain fog, and smelling it makes my mood elevate like 127%.Vanity Fair, a Christmas present from my parents. It’s a big, classic book and I’m so excited to read it!North by Northwest. We started this movie and never got to finish it! I want to rewatch it this year.Dunkirk. A movie my dad raves about that I want to see. So. Bad.My Nikon D3200 camera. It was a gift from my great great uncle and I love taking photos with it!Thrift stores/flea markets/antique stores. I love finding treasures at places like these.Golden Pothos. After the disasters that succulents turned out to be, these beautiful, easy plants are encouraging. If you want to shop plants in 2018, steer clear of succulents and most cactus and head towards Lowe’s to get a Golden Pothos.Dewdrop diffuser. My diffuser is almost always going. I love mixing up different oils and experimenting with scents and benefits. Right now I have Cedarwood, Grapefruit, and Cinnamon Bark diffusing in mine. It smells AMAZING.RNI Films app. Thank you to Nina for introducing me to this STUNNING PHOTO EDITING APP. It’s my favorite photo editor ever. It makes your photos look vintage and lovely. (I used it for all these photos.)Lady Grey tea. I love tea, and this flavor in particular. It’s so fresh and light! How I want my year to be!Update: I no longer recommend the Ref Guide 4 EOs app. And that’s it! My 18 favorite things for 2018!

Winter Wonderland Tag

Another blog tag y’all! I love these. I hope my readers do too. 😂 Thank you Amaris for tagging me!!! Go check out her blog my peeps it’s amazing. ❤️

Here are the rules:

  • Link back to Chronicles in Bloom
  • Answer the questions
  • Tag at least 3 other bloggers, or however many you want!

1. Name a few things you love about winter, and a few things you don’t love so much about it. I love how everything slows down a bit! I love the coziness and how it’s more acceptable to snuggle up and spend a day reading or watching movies. I love cold, fresh air and SNOW and as a low-energy introvert I sometimes like how it ruins plans. I also like not having to show my legs for months on end. TMI? I really dislike cold feet and I have them almost constantly in the winter. 😭 I don’t like wearing a coat because BULKY AND CONSTRICTIVE. I also dislike having to find socks all the time. I owe that to laziness though.

2. When you were a child, did you “believe” in Santa Claus? I didn’t. My parents never told us Santa was real. Sometimes we joke around that Santa is coming but never seriously. 😄

3. Is there a book or movie that you really love watching or reading in the Winter as opposed to other times of the year? I like to read Tolkien books and Austen books in the winter. They’re just so cozy!

4. Is there a particular Christmas movie that you watch EVERY year as a tradition? So many. 😂 Elf, The Nativity Story, It’s A Wonderful Life, The Grinch, A Christmas Story, A Christmas Carol, I could go on.

5. Do you usually get a real tree or a fake tree for Christmas? Who’s in charge of decorating it at your house? We’ve only gotten one real Christmas tree that I can remember… We normally have a fake one and we decorate it as a family.

6. Does your family usually stay at home or go visiting (relatives, friends, etc.) on Christmas Day? We stay home because our family lives far away.

7. What does your family do on New Years Eve? Any traditions? Do you ever stay up till midnight? We always stay up late, sometimes we’ll watch the ball drop and we eat snacks for dinner.

8. Do you get snow where you live? If so, have you ever built a snowman and named him Olaf? We do get a little bit normally, but it’s either been cloudless on the really cold days or too warm for snow so far this winter! It snowed up on the mountains but they’re all the way East of here. 😭 I haven’t built a snowman in yearssss and I probably wouldn’t name him Olaf. I’m not exactly a Frozen fan. 😂

9. If it’s snowing outside, would you prefer to go outside and build snowmen and enjoy it, or would you rather stay inside with a blanket and something hot to drink and maybe a movie or a book? I’d probably rather… stay inside??? I’ll normally choose indoor activities over outdoor. 😂

10. When do you start looking forward to or getting excited about Spring? Ooooo. Right after Valentines Day. I still always look forward to Valentine’s Day even though I’m single as all get out and I haven’t been to a Valentines party in like 11 years. 😂 But my birthday is March 2nd and I consider myself a Spring baby, plus it’s my favorite season. ❤️

I’m tagging anyone who reads this!!!

Here is the list of questions:

1. Name a few things you love about Winter, and a few things you don’t love so much about it.

2. When you were a child, did you “believe” in Santa Claus?

3. Is there a book or movie that you really love to read in the Winter as opposed to other times of year?

4. Is there a particular Christmas movie that you watch EVERY year as tradition?

5. Do you usually get a real tree or a fake tree for Christmas? Who’s in charge of decorating it at your house?

6. Does your family usually stay home or go visiting (relatives, friends, etc.) on Christmas Day?

7. What does your family usually do on New Years Eve? Any traditions? Do you ever stay up till midnight?

8. Do you get snow where you live? If so, have you ever built a snowman and named him Olaf?

9. If it’s snowing outside, would you prefer to go outside and build snowmen and enjoy it, or would you rather stay inside with a blanket and something hot to drink and maybe a movie or a book?

10. When do you start looking forward to or getting excited about Spring?

Christmas on a Budget

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Holidays, Christmas especially, can be expensive. But they don’t have to be! Thanks to Pinterest, the Dollar Store, sales, and creativity you don’t have to drain your bank account.

 

The Dollar Store

You can get so much here and not spend more than $15! After some quick Pinterest searches we got enough inspiration for how we wanted to decorate using things that only cost one dollar each. We got several tubes of assorted ornaments, lights, plastic snowflakes, a little gold tinsel tree, faux flowers to make a wreath, bells, tinsel strands, and some suction hooks. We hung the ornaments from an arched entryway to our living room with some white thread and it turned out so pretty! We did the same with the snowflakes on the light fixture in our dining room. The lights, tinsel, and everything else got sprinkled here and there around the downstairs

But you can get much more than decorations from the Dollar Store! I was surprised by the giant selection of wrapping paper, and now that all my presents are wrapped I can say it is decent quality. There were several sizes of rolls so be sure to get your money’s worth with a 50 yard roll instead of a 15 yard roll for the same price. They had so many cute designs to choose from, it was a hard choice! They had a good nerdy selection too, for the Star Wars, Disney, or superhero fan. They also have two packs of tape, bags of bows, and all kinds of ribbon

I didn’t do any actual Christmas gift shopping there, but there’s definitely some great things you can use for gifts! Mugs, candy, hair accessories, nail polish, stationary, mittens… Sounds like the perfect start to a girly gift basket to me!

 

Homemade gifts

Since I’m not good at sewing or knitting/crocheting, I like to make things like cookies, truffles, candied or spiced nuts, peppermint bark, essential oil roller bottles, body scrubs, sprays, creams, whatever I can think of! Sometimes I give my art away too. My paresnts and grandparents still have my ooollllddd (cringey) paintings out as decor. If you’re good at poetry or scrapbooking or photography or anything creative you could use those talents and make a lovely, heartfelt gift.

 

Sales and Discount Stores

Keep an eye out for things on sale and don’t shy from places like thrift stores or flea markets! Books are amazingly cheap at most thrift stores and it doesn’t take much searching to find a gem. Antiques are also super cool to give as gifts, and if someone you know has a record player, a record would be a neat gift! I also love places like TJ Maxx, Ross, and Target if I’m looking for new gifts for cheaper or on sale. Amazon is also a great place to find almost anything and if you have Prime you get free shipping AND you don’t have to leave your nice cozy bed— ehm, I mean, house. 

 

FreebiesGiveawaysetc. 

Last year after Christmas we threw away our artificial tree. It was old and dusty and ratty, and my parents just decided they’d get another one this year. Come Christmastime this year, we weren’t able to get a replacement! We just accepted it and were all fine, but I did pray and I told God that even though it’s silly, it would be really awesome if my parents found a tree for free or even very cheap. Two days later my dad dragged in a GIANT prelit tree that is barely an inch from our ceiling. It was free from someone in our neighborhood who didn’t want it anymore. I kinda choked up when I told my mom about the prayer that I was a little embarrassed to pray, that God answered so beyond what I imagined. It may seem silly to us but God knows how to bless! Keep an eye out for freebies and enter giveaways for decorations and/or gifts. Every day it seems like one AMAZING giveaway (at least — sometimes there’s more!) shows up in my Instagram feed and it doesn’t take more than a couple minutes or less to enter!

 

Secret Santa

Since there are so many of us kids we’ve had a tradition of Secret Santa for almost 10 years. Each kid is assigned a sibling and they get to be that persons Secret Santa, which includes buying that person a gift with a price limit ($5, $10, $15) and some years we’ve done little things like made each other little snacks or secretly helped with chores. It’s fun and mysterious and, if you have a lot of siblings, it would help you save money!

 

I know these tips are too late to help this year, but hopefully you can use them next year if you have a limited budget like me!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Book Lover Tag

Helloooo my lovely readers! I have a fun tag to do today that my bookworm friends will hopefully enjoy. Thank you Amaris for tagging me! I love doing these. Even though it takes me way to long to get to them.

Here are the Rules:

• Answer the questions

• Have fun (don’t worry)

• Tag some book-loving bloggers

 

1. If you could rewrite the end of any book, which one would it be?

For me it would probably have to be Little Women. I have always disliked that Laurie and Jo never ended up together. It never felt right! Especially since he ended up with Amy. It just felt forced. I feel like Laurie could have helped Jo fulfill everything she wanted in life, like taken her traveling and supported her family and helped them live in comfort.

 

2. Which fictional character are you most like?

Fanny Price, Meg March, Jane Bennet, Bilbo Baggins… there are quite a few but definitely those ones. 😂

 

3. Do you have any signed books?

Sadly, no. I’d love to have one someday!

 

4. What’s the best book you’ve read so far this year? 

It’s hard to pick especially since I *hides face* didn’t read many books this year. But I definitely enjoyed Mansfield Park by Jane Austen, Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, and Heartless by Anne Elizabeth Stengl.

 

5. Do you have any bookish pet peeves?

People not being gentle with books. Folding pages, spilling stuff on them, AGH. In the books themselves though, I don’t like cliché villains who have no motive.

 

6. Out of the books you’ve read this year, which has your favorite cover?

Mansfield Park. It has a gorgeous cover.

 

7. Is there a book that releases this year that you cannot wait to read?

I can’t think of one… I mostly enjoy classics and all my favorite authors are long gone. *sniffs sadly*

8. What is your favorite non-fiction book?

Besides the Bible, I was really touched by The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom and Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret by Dr. and Mrs. Howard Taylor.

9. Do you have a favorite location and/or time period to have a book set in?

Ancient Egypt, Israel, Greece, or Rome. I love ancient history more than any other and I just love feeling so transported into those times and places.

10. Is there a book that reminds you of something else?

This question is pretty vague so I’m going to answer creatively. Every time I read Narnia I’m reminded of when I was really little and my dad would read Narnia to me while we snuggled on the couch.

Once again, thank you so much Amaris, my blogging buddy! ❤️

I’m tagging Nina, Leah, and Halee. I hope you enjoyed reading and I hope you enjoy doing too!