Encouragement Needed?

Honestly, lately, I have been feeling a bit discouraged. I know the old adage that “when God closes a door, he opens a window,” but recently I have been feeling like it’s taking Him an awful long time to show me where that window is :)

I know there is a plan and a purpose for me, but sometimes it is really hard to see. I thought I would share a few things that have been encouraging to me. My hope is that it will encourage you also….

I am reading an excellent book entitled, The Mindful Way through Anxiety: Break Free from Chronic Worry and Reclaim Your Life. I HIGHLY recommend it for anyone who struggles with anxiety. It has been a great help, and I am enjoying learning to practice awareness and acceptance. In Chapter 10, the authors present an excellent analogy of how to deal with thoughts and feelings. They begin explaining this analogy by asking:

Who is driving your bus?

They go on to explain that often we let our feelings “drive our bus” instead of letting our values and what we know to be important control our actions. They explain that we can visualize ourselves in the driver’s seat, guiding our bus in the direction we want it to go, regardless of how loud our feelings (the passengers) are shouting. They explain that we should not try to ignore our feelings, but rather accept them. We may be feeling sad or anxious, but we can still choose to act in ways that get us where we want to go. It is important to give ourselves grace in the times when we allow our feelings to drive for a short time.

I have found it important to understand where my feelings are coming from, and what they maybe trying to tell me; however, that does not mean I need to let them dictate my actions. This has been a powerful analogy for me, and seem to keep asking myself, “Who is driving my bus today?” Am I avoiding something out of fear? Am I doing something just so I will feel good about myself? Or, am I making decisions based on who God says I am and who He has called me to be?

I may not know the specific vocational step God is calling me to take, but I do know that He calls me to be faithful with everyday He gives me. For me, at this point, that means being diligent in taking care of the tasks in front of me (schoolwork and household management) and to research and pray about my next career move.

Also here are a few bible verses and quotes I have found helpful:

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith….”
-Hebrews 12:1-2

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race”
-Calvin Coolidge

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
-Winston Churchill

“Little by little one walks far”
-Peruvian Proverb

Tips for Success at the Farmers Market

Today, Michael and I took and impromptu trip to the large farmer’s market here in Nashville. We learned a couple of important things I thought I would pass on:

1) Pay attention to where the produce is coming from.
For example, at one of the stands a vendor was charging $2.50 a pint for strawberries that were actually from California. I found the same thing at Aldi for $1.50 a pint. Just because it is at the farmer’s market does not guarantee that it is local or organic. Be sure to ask questions!

2) Farmer’s market employees can be a valuable resource.
There is a garden center at our farmer’s market, and I was able to ask an employee a lot of questions about locally growing vegetables. We will be moving to a house with a fenced in backyard in the next few weeks, and I needed advice on what to plant in the garden I will be creating. I was able to learn what works at this point in the season for the area we live in. Don’t hesitate to get to know the people who work at your local farmer’s market; they can often provide you with a wealth of information.

3) Make sure to comparison shop.
Not all vendors are created equal. We always take a least one trip around the whole market before we make any purchases.

4) Only buy what you will realistically be able to eat.
It is so easy to get carried away when you see all that delicious fresh produce. However, getting carried away and buying more than you need almost always results in waste. If you go in with a plan of what you want to buy, it will help you prevent waste and overspending.

A Quick & Healthy Treat

Friends, today I thought I would share a quick and easy recipe I have found very helpful.

We have been out of fresh fruit for the past few days, and I am committed to getting my coupon binder caught up before heading back to the store. However, I hate going even one day without at least one serving of fruit. Thankfully I had a couple of cans of pineapple stored in the pantry, and have been able to make these delicious smoothies.

A staying healthy tip: Always keep some canned fruits and frozen veggies in stock, for times when the fresh items run out. Something is better than nothing in my book :)

Anyway, I thought I would pass on the recipe we have been enjoying so much over the past few days:

Refreshing Pineapple Smoothie
1/2 cup pineapple (crushed or chucks)
1/2 skim milk
1 tsp coconut oil (or coconut if you have it)
1 tsp sweetener or more to taste (we have been using Truvia we got on sale)
5 or 6 ice cubes

You can also add orange slices if you have them. I hope you enjoy this refreshing treat! It is a great fit for a hot summer day.

Learing to Risk

Today, I would like to write about something that has been on my mind a lot lately….learning to take risks.

It seems that my journey lately has been full of risky choices. I am learning to take the risk of sacrificing tradition in order to achieve my health and financial goals. I am realizing more and more that living a healthy life is quite counter-cultural. I also had to take some relational risks in the past week. Vulnerability and honesty are risky, but they bring a beautiful depth to our relationships.

Living life as we were made to live, will always involve taking risks. Without risk, we have no need for faith. Trying to live a risk and anxiety free life will only result in bondage. I am not saying we should be foolish, actually quite the contrary. Taking well calculated and informed risks requires much more wisdom than always choosing safer but ultimately less fulfilling choices.

“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.”
-Andre Gide quotes

-Are there any changes you know you want to make in your life, but have been avoiding them out of fear?

-Are there any patterns you are stuck in because they have become the safer way?

My challenge for myself this week is to try to take a fresh look at my life with eyes of trust and faith. If God is calling me to a seemingly risky decision, I am learning to trust that He has gone before me and prepared the way. He hasn’t brought me this far to leave me now :)

Here are a couple of verses that always encourage me:

“….you whom I have upheld since you were conceived, and have carried since your birth.
4 Even to your old age and gray hairs
I am he, I am he who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you;
I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”
…Isaiah 46:3-4

“The Lord will fight for you. All you have to do is be still”
-Exodus 14:14

Faithful Friday!

It’s official, I really miss blogging! This silly summer class is kicking my butt! Only 3 more weeks until the hard class is over. Also, I have dedicated tomorrow afternoon as “blog time” so I am hoping to get re-organized and get some great posts written. For today, I just wanted to share a quick quote from Erwin McManus’s book entitled Unleashed” Release The Untamed Faith Within.” I will be writing more about this book later in the week; however, for now, check out this beautiful quote that really inspired me this morning:

McManus is detailing a conversation he had with his fourteen year old son, who just said:

“Dad, I think that if I had not been raised in a Christian home, I would not be a Christian.” You can imagine the rush of emotions going through me. It took all the restraint I had to not panic and stay calm. “Why do you think that?”….Aaron continued, “I have way too many doubts and questions.” “Oh,” I said, sounding as relieved as I could. “I have those too. So what are you going to do?” I’ll never forget Aaron’s answer…..”Well, I’ve met God. So what are you supposed to do?” I affirmed, “That’s a dilemma, isn’t it?”

So many of us have put our hope in teaching our children about God rather than guiding them into an experience with God. “ (emphasis mine).

Isn’t that beautiful. Even though I don’t have children, this passage spoke deeply to me. How much do I long for my life to be characterized by actually experiencing God, not just knowing about Him.

Use Your Words

For today’s Working On Relationships Wednesday post, I would like to share a powerful concept that I have been thinking about lately. It is a phrase we often say to children when they acting out. I believe that this phrase , when applied to adults, has the power to transform and energize our relationships. The phrase is:

Use Your Words

In the last few days I have had the unexpected blessing of receiving some encouraging words from friends and family. I had a light-bulb moment where I realized how lucky I am. How easily I forget the power of encouragement. I am reminded how often I neglect to tell those around me how much they mean to me and why. I think the why is a very important part of encouragement. Being specific about the good you see in others really brings home the truth of how valuable they are.

I want to be someone who is consistently speaking blessings into the lives of others. I have been given the gift of encouragement, and I want to pass it on.

Just a simple reminder to use your words to encourage those around you. You never know who might need it :) Thanks for reading!

The Truth About Healthy Living

For Today’s post, I wanted to share a really important truth about healthy living….

It’s not always easy, and sometimes it is downright hard!

I know, I am so uplifting today, right? You must be thinking, “Wow, Angie that was un-insightful and kind of depressing…this is not why I read this blog”

And, you would be right. I try to be uplifting and positive in my writing, and I always try to find new, exciting, and easy ways to incorporate healthy choices into our lives. However, the truth is that living a healthy life isn’t always new, easy, and fun. Sometimes, it takes sacrifice, hard work, and perseverance.

In light of this reality, I have recently been convicted about one of my bad habits: complaining. Lately, I have found myself doing this more than usual. I think we all go through seasons of life, and I think right now I am just in a season of experiencing the more challenging part of choosing to live a different way.

Preparing whole foods is time-consuming. Gone are the days of baby carrots and pre-cut fruit. We, as a family, have made a choice to try to eat more whole foods. Sometimes. I love being in the kitchen knowing that I am investing my time into the physical and financial health of my family. But other times, I just get frustrated with how long everything takes, and I just want to run to the nearest drive thru (and occasionally I do:).

To combat my complaining habit, I am challenging myself to remember; to remember why we are making these choices. I frequently need to remind myself that eating whole foods is better for our health, our budget, and our planet. I also have to call to mind the truth that these efforts will pay large long-term dividends. I also want to remind myself to embrace the joy of serving others. I am blessed to have the time to serve my husband in this way. I have been given the gift of time to learn about sustainable and healthy living, and I want to be mindful of this gift.

I hope you find this post encouraging today, in whatever challenging situation you may find yourself in,

Encouragement from Scripture:
The entire book of Philippians an excellent resource for anyone struggling with issues stated above. Here are some of the parts that have been a specific encouragement to me:

Chapter 1:3-6
I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Chapter 2:12-16
“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.”

Reminder: Mail Freebies

Oh blogging, how I how I miss you! The good news is that the Lord has been providing some great work opportunities for me, which have been a huge blessing. The downside is that I have much less time and energy for blogging. I am still trying to figure out the balance :)

Today, just wanted to share a quick update to share about recent freebies I have received in the mail. I continue to be amazed at the companies that are willing to give you free products in return for your opinion about them. There are quite a few programs out there that make this process quick and easy, and I wanted to share a few with you today:

In the mail today, I received a free coupon for Kraft Touch of Philadelphia Cheese from the KraftFoods First Taste Club. I have already tried the mozzarella variety of this product, and it is wonderful! I am very excited to try another type. If you haven’t already, I recommend signing up for the KraftFoods First Taste club (click the link above see what I have previously written about it) This is the third or fourth free sample they have sent in just a couple of months.

I also received a coupon for a free International Delight Breve Creme coffee creamer. I am so excited about this one too, because I have had to cut creamer from the budget recently. I received this coupon through my participation in Vocalpoint. Vocalpoint is another online community that often features free products for you to try and review. So far I have really enjoyed my experience with them.

In addition, a few days ago (as a result of being a BzzAgent) I received two free full size CoverGirl NatureLuxe cosmetics (see picture). I love both of them! The foundation is lightweight and smooth, and the lip balm/gloss is moisturizing yet shiny. BzzAgent.com is also a great site to join, although a little bit more work is involved in writing product reviews. However, I have really enjoyed the process so far :)

Overall, these programs are simple to sign up for and simple to use. They don’t take much time at all, and for me, the cost of a bit of my time is worth the benefit of new and free products :)


Oh friends :) I have so many thoughts rolling around in my head right now that coming up with a coherent post for day has proven fruitless. So, instead, I will point you a couple of people who have put together some excellent thoughts that I found very encouraging.

Check out these posts recommended by Crystal at Moneysavingmom.com

Do You Have What You Want?

For today’s Working on Relationships Wednesday post, I wanted to share a quick thought I heard on TV today. I was watching a show about positive living on the ION life channel and one of the guests began discussing gossip and complaining. She said something to the effect of:

“When we find ourselves gossiping, it is often really a complaint against another person or system. This complaint is often a result of a request we have yet to make. Many times if we would just ask for what we need or want, the reason for our complaint would dissolve.”

I thought this was brilliant. I rarely think of complaining in this way, and upon reflection, I think this is really true. How many times do we allow unspoken requests to fester inside of us. I know that I sometimes expect those around me (especially my husband) to “just know” what I need and want. This simply isn’t fair. The more we are both able to communicate our desires and wishes, the better our relationship will be.