5 Uplifting Songs to Start Off Your Week

5 Uplifting Songs to Start Off Your Week (1)

I like to start my Monday off by hitting snooze 7 times, snuggling up to my husband, and whining before we have to get out of bed and face the day. For some reason, Mondays are the hardest to get out of bed! One thing that is for sure to put me in the right mindset, though, is to tune my heart with some uplifting worship music.

Why Do We Worship?

For many of us, worship is something we do on Sunday mornings while listening to the music being played at church. We close our eyes, sing along and sway along without truly paying attention to what we are doing. I find myself guilty of this often. As I’ve grown in my faith, I have found worshipping to be something I can do every day without even listening to music. Like I have said before, worship is anything we do intentionally to give glory to God.

I love how Jonathan David Helser, a worship leader affiliated with Bethel, talks about worship. I have been listening to the Helser’s podcasts a lot while I’m at work, and it has been quite a treat. 10/10 would recommend. In one of his podcasts, “The Presence is Greater than the Pressure,” he says that “worship is not a genre of music, but a position of the heart. [Worship is ministering to God, and] those who most effectively minister to God allow God to minister to us.”

And sometimes on a Monday morning, I am not in a position to minister to God/anyone else. I’m grumpy, I’m sleepy, and I just want to crawl back under the covers. So I have a list of songs that I love to listen to that remind me of who I am, whose I am, and why I am loved. I’m excited to share those with you today!

5 Uplifting Songs to Start Off Your Week

Catch The Wind

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll have noticed that I screenshot and Instastory this song probably once a week. I can’t stop with this song. It’s a great declaration of strength, courage, and boldness.

Reckless Love

If you want to be absolutely wrecked, give this song a listen. We’ve been singing this at church for the past couple of weeks and I walk away overwhelmed and reminded how much God loves me.

Starlight

The first time I heard this song was at a Bethel worship night last year with Pai. I was amazed by the beauty and intimacy of these lyrics. It’s a song of hope and longing, but knowing that your Savior is coming soon.

Sinking Deep

In case you haven’t guessed by now, my favorite attribute of God is his neverending, continuous love. I’ve found in my life that I don’t love myself or others very well until I know that I am loved by my creator. I love to listen to this song when I am feeling particularly numb or unlovable. When I remind myself that I am washed in the love of Christ, I can go throughout my week loving others and myself better.

Out of Hiding

A sweet friend who loved on me during my senior year of college introduced me to Steffany Gretzinger and her music (I wasn’t as big into worship music as I am now.) I was having a season where I was being particularly hard on myself, so she encouraged me to listen to this song every day. I found myself in my car, sobbing on a Tuesday afternoon listening to this and allowing God to remind me that I was his child.

Listening to worship music to start off the week, or any morning, reminds me of my purpose. My purpose is not to just go to work, do the paperwork, talk with the students, and go home. My purpose is to be the hands and feet of Jesus, love others like He loves me, and to serve others.

What do you do to get out of the Monday grump slump? 

Setting Your Purpose

Setting Your PurposeGood Monday morning! Who here feels like the weekend needs to be a tad bit longer? I’ve loved July because we spent 4 out of the 5 weekends here in town rather than out traveling and beyond. For a long while, I thought July was the first month where we had not traveled at all in over a year, but then I realized we did, in fact, spend 4th of July weekend nestled in the mountains of North Carolina. But I’m not complaining. It’s been a good month of rest and relaxing before the start of fall and all its busyness. Which, by the way, I’m so pumped for fall that I might just start burning my fall candles tomorrow. The mornings are getting cooler and it’s making my pumpkin spiced coffee heart happy.

I’ve been thinking about the word PURPOSE a lot lately. Last week you’ll remember that I talked about running your own race, finding your purpose and fulfilling what you have been called to.

It’s hard when you don’t know what your purpose is, though. I’ve been in one of those “What is my purpose?” seasons for the last 2 years.

My first year after graduating college, I was caught up in learning the ropes of my new job. My second year after graduating college, I was caught up in planning a wedding. And now we are starting year 3 since graduation. I see everyone around me with fulfilling jobs, chasing their dreams, and spending countless hours in coffee shops writing papers (the dream.) In all of this, it seems like everyone knows what they are doing and where they are going. However, if you sit down with someone and ask them, “What is your purpose?” You might find that they are just as clueless as you are.

One thing the yogis do really well is setting intention. I love reading up on how they take time out of their day to sit, meditate, and set their intention. The intention can be “to love myself to the fullest,” or “to speak kindness to myself and to others.” You get the gist. I’m not into yoga particularly, although I do the child’s pose quite frequently when I’m trying to coax myself out of my cozy bed.

Even for those of us who aren’t yogis, we can take a page from their book and set our purpose (or intention) for the day.

5 Steps to Setting Your Purpose

5 Steps to Setting your Purpose

1. Wake up 15 minutes earlier.

I enjoy hitting snooze as much as the next guy, but the key component to setting your purpose is waking your brain up and giving yourself the space to think and reflect on your day/week.

2. Pull out the planner

I’m such a planner freak. It’s July and I’m already looking at the planners I want for 2018. (If you have planner suggestions, leave them in the comments!) One of my very favorite things about Mondays is pulling out my planner and looking over the week, adding and tweaking important appointments, to-do lists, and blog posts. When setting your purpose for the day, pull out your planner and see first of all what your day beholds. Is it a nice, relaxing day? Or is it a day full of meetings and appointments? Knowing what you are about to face will help you to mentally prepare.

3. Reflect

Reflection can come in a multitude of ways. You can sit and stare off into space, journal – whatever. The most important aspect is that you take these quiet few minutes of solitude with your coffee or tea to spend some quality me-time before you rush about the day.

4. Meditate

When I’m meditating, you won’t hear me sitting cross legged saying “Ommmm” and clearing my mind. Instead, whenever I do meditate, I like to pick a Scripture or a prayer and repeat it to myself whether as a whisper, in my head, or out loud. If I’m distracted by the silence, I may put on some worship music quietly to help me focus on the task at hand. The Scripture I pick out for the day may, in fact, lead me towards setting my purpose.

5. Set Your Purpose

What is it that you feel you are being called to today in this moment? That is your purpose. Write your purpose down, speak it over yourself. Live it out for the day.

Setting Your Purpose

Your purpose is not just for yourself. Your purpose is for others as well. If my purpose for today is to find a unique way to love myself, then I am loving others as well. When I learn to love myself better, I learn to love others better. If my purpose for today is to seek an opportunity to serve someone else, I’m not serving someone else for the feel-goods, but I’m serving someone else because I want to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

 

 

 

Run your Own Race

run your own race

With social media at our finger tips, we are invited more and more into people’s lives – not their every day lives, but the best of their every day lives. You see a picture of my coffee, but you don’t know that I had a complete melt down because the coffee pot wasn’t working that morning. You may see me post something sweet about my awesome husband, but you don’t know that the night before that picture that we had a huge fight (regardless of when we do fight, I still think my husband is awesome.)

As a blogger, I want to be as authentic online as I can without selling my soul, and I think other bloggers may feel the same. There are just some things that shouldn’t go online. But because we don’t air out our dirty laundry, we only ever see each other’s highlight reels, and then we compare them to our own mundane lives.

It’s hard when you’re 25 and you see everyone getting married and you don’t have a boyfriend. Or when your feeds blows up with squishy babies and you get can’t pregnant. You may feel a tinge of jealousy when you see everyone going to these fancy islands and all you can afford is a weekend at the lake. And when your friends are working in fulfilling jobs they love, it’s hard to have an attitude of contentment.

The Marathon

I once heard Donald Miller (author of Blue Like Jazz – a great book for millennials who are questioning everything already) explain marriage like a marathon. A successful marathons require intense training, extreme discipline, a positive attitude, and persistence. This is why I’m never going to run a marathon. But I like the analogy.

Paul also likens life to a marathon in the book of Hebrews:

“. . . Let us lay aside every weight and sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. . .”

We Christians see life as a race. Sometimes I think people see it as a race to the finish, with heaven being the goal. That’s great and all, but there’s life here. So if we are constantly looking towards heaven as our goal, then we’re missing out on the beautiful scenery here in our life. Each and every one of us was born for a purpose. And we are racing to complete our purpose. 

Run Your Own Race

The Weight

You know how some people run with ankle weights? I think this is dumb. It’s harder to lift your legs and hurts your knees. Maybe I’m just lazy. I know for a fact, though, that whenever I ran, I tried to have as little on me as possible. I didn’t even like to run with a water bottle when I was training for my half marathon because carrying something was a hindrance.

When we are running life’s race, we end up picking up so many things. Insecurity, Comparison, a Broken Heart, Hurt Feelings, Toxic Relationships, Too Much Netflix, Other People’s Opinions – I could go on and on and on. We don’t think of these things as weights, but they are. Nursing hurt feelings takes WAY more energy than letting go. Toxic relationships add WAY more strain onto our emotions than healthy. Too much Netflix pacifies us. It’s hard to run a race when you’re carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders.

Looking Ahead

We can’t complete our purpose if we are looking to the right and to the left. As the oldest of 6, a control freak, and a bit of a bossy pants, I like to look around and make sure that everything is going the way it should be. When I see someone doing something they shouldn’t, I have to fight my innate urge to tell them what they are doing wrong and why it is wrong. Because I want people to like me and be my friend, I often keep my mouth shut.

I’m not just looking at people to see what they are doing wrong, but I’m also looking to see what they are doing right and I’m doing wrong. I see bloggers who have been doing this thing for 6 months with 30k Instagram followers. I see friends accomplishing their dreams while I’m still trying to figure out mine. My mind becomes consumed with what other people are doing, and I’ve lost my focus. I see everybody killin’ it while I am afraid to take a step because what if I step in the wrong place! When I am looking at other people, I’m not looking ahead. And when I’m not looking ahead, I’m likely to stumble.

The Scripture doesn’t tell us to look ahead at our purpose, or to look ahead at our goals. It tells us to look ahead at Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. He already ran this race. In fact, he was the first one to run it. He knows the best route, he knows the pace, he knows where the water stations are. And He is perfect. So many times I beat myself down for not being enough. But I don’t have to be enough, I just have to rely on Jesus because He makes me enough in Him.

run your own race

Run Your Race

So maybe you don’t know your purpose. I ask this of myself a lot. What is my purpose? What am I here for? Who am I? These are the great soul searching questions that keep us up at night. And I love it. It’s annoying, but it also shows that we believe in something bigger and better than ourselves. I came to a conclusion one afternoon while I was searching.

My purpose is to worship. Plain and simple.

But what is worship?

Worship is anything I do that glorifies God. Making dinner for a family who just had a baby is worship. Singing worship songs loudly in my car is worship. Spending intentional time with my siblings is worship.

Even if you don’t know your life’s purpose at this very moment, you have a purpose for your day. Mine is to worship and love people well. What is yours?

 

Be Prepared to Fail

Be Prepared to Fail

My summer goal is to make a loaf of bread. Homemade. I’ve been diligently researching the best Pinterest recipes . . . and the easiest. Saturday evening I took my KitchenAid on its maiden voyage and baked my first loaf of  bread. It was an “Easy Crusty French Bread” I found on Pinterest that I will not link for you here because I did the author such a disservice by making the most difficult, crustiest French bread there ever was. It was like a communion cracker.

Like any millennial these days, I walked confidently and in faith that my first bread would not be as terrible as everyone said there first bread making experiences would be. But it was terrible and hilarious and I found that even though I failed, I wasn’t all too disappointed in myself.

I’m somewhat of a perfectionist, and when things spiral out of control, I find that I hold on even more to what I can and do the very best at what I have at hand. I recently had an instance where someone went to my boss to discuss the way I handled something. I was devastated to discover that doing the best I could in an uncontrollable circumstance still left someone unsatisfied. Failing bread is one thing. Failing a person is another. This got me to thinking about all the ways I failed this month.

Be Prepared to Fail

Ways I Failed This Month

I tried to wake surf at the lake. I managed to stand up in the wake, but quickly fell over.

I tried to make bread and it went disastrously.

I went to the grocery store 3 times this weekend and still failed to remember to pick up a couple items.

I failed at a couple of things at work.

I failed baking a lemon blueberry yogurt bread.

 Fear of Failure

I was recently reading Unrivaled by Lisa Brevere. In one of her chapters, she mentions that she wishes she risked more when she was younger. So many opportunities come our way but we are stifled by fear and by fear of failing that we turn back into our comfort zone where it’s cozy and safe.

Good things may happen in our comfort zone, but extravagant things happen in No-Man’s Land. (Wonder Woman reference, anyone?)

As I’m taking this online Jane Austen seminar, I am seeing how much I am out of my league. I get onto these discussion boards with college students and realize that in two years, I’ve already become rusty in my close reading skills. I feel as if I’m typing out fluff while these other students are creating intriguing and thoughtful content. Some days I feel like I am failing. . . and that is okay. We have to let go of our fear of failure.

We have to let go of our fear of failure.

Be Prepared, and Be Proud to Fail

Failing is not something we are generally proud of, but it is something that happens to everyone. For perfectionists, failure is particularly scary because perfectionism is not just a way that we handle things, but it is a part of our identity. It doesn’t help that fail is attached to shame in our society.

It’s good to recognize that you aren’t good at something. And then it is good to continue in that something. And while we continue, we do the best that we can, and if we fail, then we fail.

For instance, I am a shame to English majors and want to be English teachers everywhere because I am horrid at Words with Friends. I would like to blame the tile distribution, but games like Words with Friends, Bananagrams, and Scrabble frustrate me. I can never think of words that earn me more than 10 points. As someone who has studied the English language her entire life, Scrabble is something I should be good at. But I’m not. And my husband beats me into smithereens every. single. time. I used to just ignore my Words with Friends notifications until the timer ran out and I would lose. But this time, I’m playing. And losing. Maybe I’ll get better at it, maybe I wont.

If I succeed, hoorah. But if I continue to fail, well then I’ve learned to fail gracefully.

Rather than hide under the cover of shameful failures, celebrate that you stepped out, were brave, and tried something new. Everyone fails, but the ones who make it are the ones who got up again.

So Tell Me, Readers. . .

What is one thing you tried and failed at?

 

5 Ways to Fight Loneliness

5 Ways to Fight Loneliness

I spent Friday getting my nails done with my friend, Saturday with my husband at a nice dinner and at a bonfire with friends, Sunday with my family and grandparents, and Monday with my Zim family and spiritual parents. I celebrated quite the birthday weekend filled with non-stop action, laughter, and a whole lot of cheesin’.

On Tuesday night, after spending quality time with quality girls studying our God, I got into my bathtub and waited for Pai to come home. I was feeling slightly anxious and sad. But why? After some introspection, I pinpointed the feeling of loneliness. But loneliness? That makes no sense. I just spent an entire weekend surrounded by the people I loved and who loved me. I just spent 3-4 hours being vulnerable with ladies who have a common goal as me – to find out who God is. So why, after they left and I was by myself, was I feeling lonely?

I remember being a senior in high school, on my couch with my dad holding me, crying because I hadn’t been invited to something (I honestly don’t even remember) and feeling lonely. I had people to talk to at school, but only my family to hang out with on the weekends. Granted, my family is awesome, but as a teenager, we all desire that acceptance from our peers.

Do we ever outgrow that desire for acceptance? I don’t think so. And I think that striving for that acceptance leaves us lonely at times. I always say, as an ESFJ, I need affirmation. I’ll make a decision and then say, “What do you think?” It drives Pai nuts, which cracks me up. He says, “Just make the decision!” But as an ESFJ, I say, but I need you to affirm this is the right decision!

Relationships require vulnerability

This is not just an ESFJ thing. It’s a human thing. We all were created with the desire for relationship, and part of being in relationship is being vulnerable, mirroring conversation/feelings, opening yourself up to constructive criticism, and opening yourself up to positive affirmation. Some days it feels like we have opened ourselves up and been left on the operation table. The vulnerability door has been opened, but no positive affirmation has stepped in. It’s in these moments when we start to question ourselves: Am I worth it? Do I have any friends who love me enough? Do I have any friends? 

On being left behind

Some days loneliness doesn’t stem from a lack of affirmation, but instead from a feeling that everyone is moving on without you.

I always felt slightly stressed in elementary school when my best friends were placed in a different class than me. When my friends graduated and went to college before me – stress. As an adult it’s a little different. We’re not in different classes, but we are in different stages of life. Everyone is married and you’re single. Everyone has a baby and you and your spouse do not. Someone achieved their dream job and you are still in the waiting room.

Being in our 20s is like the teenage years of adulthood. We had time as a teen to figure out who we were, and then we hit our 20s and our bodies started changing again, relationship dynamics change, and you find yourself liking things you never thought you would (like broccoli, and salad, and vegetables.) Everyone is in a different stage even though we are all relatively the same age, and it’s hard to measure up.

A disconnect in communication

Another stream of loneliness is feeling like there is a disconnect between our head and our mouth. It can be incredibly lonely to know in your head what you are wanting to say, trying to communicate it through your mouth to someone else, and they are not understanding you. Why do you think there is so much teen angst?

So how do we fight loneliness?

First, we don’t fight loneliness.

Loneliness is a part of life – always has, and always will be. See above: I was feeling lonely even though I spent so much time with all the people I loved. I’m secure in my friendships, but I still feel lonely at times.

Learning to live with loneliness in a healthy way will help us to learn to love ourselves in a different way. When we wallow in loneliness, rather, we wallow in self-pity. And no one wants to hang out in your pity party.

Find something to do when you are feeling lonely. Go for a walk, read poetry, take a bubble bath.

Help someone else feel less lonely.

One day I have this dream of starting a ministry that just goes and hangs out with people in the nursing home. I imagine how lonely they must be – sometimes the only physical touch they receive is the nurse coming to change their bed sheets or help them to the restroom.

I have found that on days when I am feeling lonely, if I do something to get out of my head, I then find I am no longer lonely and immensely blessed.

Write a letter to a loved one, ask a friend out for coffee, check with your elderly neighbor to see if they need help grocery shopping, weeding their garden, etc.

Get off your phone.

How easy it is to be lonely when you are by yourself, in your house, eating ice cream out of the carton and you’re scrolling through Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, and see that everyone is hanging out. Perhaps without you. Let’s reality check for a second: what if those people just put up that picture reminiscing about the weekend while they are in their house, by themselves, eating ice cream out of the carton and scrolling through Instagram. You’ve done it and I’ve done it, too. We’re all guilty of making our lives seem cooler than they actually are.

So get off your phone, and put your nose in a book, or an adult coloring book, or something else that will remove you from the world of social media.

Because that’s what it is. Media. And we all know that the media is slant – even your social media.

Get creative.

They say that Emily Dickinson was a recluse, likely one of the loneliest people. Her art was underappreciated at its time. Maybe you’re the next Emily Dickinson. Loneliness is OK. It gives us a chance to explore ourselves, explore nature, and explore our creativity. I find that my best poetry comes when I am a) all alone b) feelin’ some type of way and c) not feeling like I can express myself to anyone else in a way they would understand.

When you are feeling lonely, grab your pen, grab your paper, and write. Even if you’re not great at writing! Draw – even if you don’t think you can draw! Dance – even if that means you have to Youtube some dance instructional videos!

Know you’re not alone.

The thing about loneliness is that it isolates our experiences. We are feeling lonely, therefore we are alone and no one else in the world ever feels lonely. Except that everyone experiences loneliness. Even Chrissy Tiegen. Accepting that loneliness is a reality in life allows us to take it in stride with the good times, too. Because after all, if we didn’t have the lonely days, we wouldn’t appreciate the full of friendship days as much either.

Have you experienced loneliness?
What is something you do to occupy yourself when you feel lonely?

PS – sometimes if I’m feeling lonely, I like to treat myself. So treat yo’self with an entry to win this opal gemstone lariat!

24 Notes of Encouragement

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