My Encouragement Playlist

My Encouragement Playlist

Good morning!

This weekend went by WAY too fast for me. On Friday  night, Mr. M and I had a movie night date night with our couple friends from church. They have two littles, so we waited until the kids were in bed before we snuck over for cookies, cheetos, and popcorn. We felt like we were in college all over again staying out late. Because we forgot to have dinner (I was engrossed in a book; he was engrossed in FIFA), I binge ate Cheetos and then thought I was going to get sick to my stomach. I stayed nauseous all day on Saturday and will not be eating Cheetos again.

Saturday I threw a launch party for skincare products that I started selling. I had a great afternoon doing a spa day with some great friends. Then on Saturday evening, Mr. M and I FINALLY put our bed frame together. We are officially no longer sleeping on a mattress on a floor. We’re moving on up in the world.

Sunday was dedicated towards unpacking some more boxes of Mr. M’s – mainly boxes of books – and color coordinating the bookshelf in our office. Mr. M was away reffing for the day. And while I’m not saying I like it when he’s gone, I get a whole lot of organizing and cleaning and podcast listening done.

Mondays come way too soon, and some days, I just wake up on the wrong side of the bed.

To combat those Monday grumpies, I like to drink my coffee extra strong and get some encouragement in my head. Today I’m sharing with you my favorite podcast and sermon playlist that I listen to for a good mood.

My Encouragement Playlist

Rooted in Delight

This the most recent podcast from Jonathan David and Melissa Helser and as soon as I finished the podcast, I knew I needed to give it a second listen. I was floored with the message Melissa shares about grounding our identity in God and how he is a GOOD father who delights in us. Melissa is like my spiritual aunt. I’m touched and moved by everything Holy Spirit says through her. She is so creative and talented and open to the move of the Holy Spirit. You can check out a little preview of the podcast here. To listen to the whole podcast, check them out on iTunes!

Managing Your Emotions

If Melissa Helser is like my spiritual aunt, Abi Stumvoll is like my spiritual sister. A few weeks ago when I was having a particularly rough time with my work/life balance, I listened to her sermon on Managing your Emotions. This was another sermon I quickly put in my back pocket to pull out whenever I need an encouraging slap in the face to woman up and calm the heck down. The thing with Abi is that she is a very vulnerable and emotional person, but she also leaves room for Holy Spirit to speak through her. You can check out her podcast on soundcloud or iTunes here.

My Encouragement Playlist

Renewing Your Mind

This is a series of short videos from Abi Stumvoll about renewing your mind. There is also a Todd White sermon at the end that I haven’t had a chance to listen to yet. But I gave this series of videos a listen while I was getting ready on my Sabbath day last Wednesday. In today’s world of busyness and routine, it is so easy to become set in our way of thinking. Often the rut we can get into is not always healthy, so it’s always good to do a heart check and mind check whenever we feel as if our emotions are getting out of whack. (Which, for me, is almost every Monday morning.) Check out the Youtube series Renewing Your Mind.

Embracing the Seasons

I almost always share sermons by Kim Walker Smith when I’m talking about sermons or podcasts that impact my life. As soon as I type in “KI” into Youtube, it automatically brings up Kim Walker Smith sermons. I have her sermons bookmarked to listen to again and again. All of these ladies speak so much to my heart and soul and the seasons I’m in. Kim Walker Smith’s sermon on Embracing Seasons shares wisdom that I often fail to remember, so I have to go back time and again to remind myself that the season I am in is not a forever season. The season I am in is preparation for the next. Because when you’re in an exhausting season, it’s easy to lose sight of where God is moving in your life. You can view Embracing the Seasons on Youtube.

My Encouragement Playlist

The Starlight Album

And to cap it all off, an amazing worship album. I’ve been listening to the Starlight album nonstop in this season of my life. My favorite songs are Catch the Wind, Take Courage, and The War is Over. These are great songs to listen to at your desk, in the car, or on blast while you’re cleaning your house. I love how it gets me in the heart of worship, even when I’m in the grump slumps.

What do you do to encourage yourself out of the grumpies? Tell me in the comments below!

*All of today’s photos come from Unsplash. Because I own an iphone, I’m not a photographer, and I’ve not been doing any iphone photography lately because I am uninspired, too tired and lazy. 

Your Body Shouldn’t be Your Kryptonite

Friends! I am so pumped to share one of my all-time favorite encouraging bloggers with you. Megan writes for Apron Strings and Sticky Fingers, but she has gladly done a switcharoo with me. (After you read today’s post, head over to her page to read about Life’s Transitions!)  Today I have her on Hugs & Lattes to share an important topic that 97% of us women struggle with: Body Image.

Negative Body Image is something I started to encounter in my post-grad adult years. So I turned to my dear friend, Megan, to encourage us and speak into our lives about loving our bodies. She is a gorgeous lady with a gorgeous heart, so I am thrilled she is gracing my page with her wisdom!

Your Body Should Not Be Your Kryptonite

I was thrilled when Christina asked me to write a post on this topic because basically it’s my thing. You know how you have that one thing (or maybe multiple things if you’re a teeny bit of a hot mess) that always slip you up. That one thing that is your kryptonite, your weakness, the devil’s foothold in your life?

Yep that’s body positivity for me. Or really the lack thereof.

For those of you who know me, you know I’ve got a little bit of history with loving my body. We haven’t always been the best of friends. Back in high school I developed an eating disorder and was trapped in a terrible cycle of restrictive eating, obsessive calorie counting and not very fun amounts of exercising (although to be honest no amount of exercising is really fun.)

 

Looking at photographs of myself back then always horrifies me because I can still remember how awful I felt and how much I hated my body, when in reality there was absolutely nothing wrong with it. I was a waif. I was wasting away day by day. I was so painfully insecure and I thought changing the shape of my body would fix that.

 

Well five years on and I am happy to say that God has done a marvelous job of healing the damage I caused. I’m at a happy weight (very happy thanks to my love of chocolate.) I no longer restrict what I eat or exercise like a mad woman. And most days I can genuinely say that I love my body.

 

But this body loving stuff…it’s hard work. And nothing is more annoying than someone saying just love yourself. As if it’s as easy as flipping a switch.

 

If you are really struggling with body positivity you need more than just an airy fairy answer, you need some practical ways to make this change. So I wanna share a few things that have worked for me.

Your Body Should Not Be Your Kryptonite

 

How to love your body:

 

Be mindful with the media you consume

Your Body Should Not Be Your Kryptonite

Stop reading women’s magazines.

 

Bummer I know because it’s fun seeing what Beyonce’s mansion looks like or who Jennifer Aniston is gonna marry next but these magazines are the worst.

Not only are they airbrushed, photoshopped and touched up so that nobody is even the slightest bit real. They also promote fad diets, body shaming and food fear. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Get rid of the fitspo

Hands up if you are guilty of having one of those fitspiration pinterest boards…because I sure was. A little bit of motivation never hurt anyone but the just do it, go hard or go home, nothing tastes as good as skinny feels (lies!) stuff is one of my pet peeves.

 

Exercise should be about feeling good, not going until you pass out from exhaustion. I say get rid of the fitspo.

 

And while you are at it, unfollow all of those fitness models on instagram. They’re just trying to sell you gross skinny teas and that nasty chalk dust, protein powder anyway.

Your Body Should Not Be Your Kryptonite

Surround yourself with truth

First of all by reading what God says about you because obviously that’s the truest words you’ll find.

But secondly, follow body positive and encouraging people on social media. Fill up your newsfeeds and timelines with people of all different races, shapes and sizes. Broaden your definition of beautiful.

 

Stop trying to fit into your clothes

 

You know that pair of skinny jeans that are a little too tight around the thighs and make you feel awful every time you struggle to zip them up? Yeah well they’ve got to go.

 

Stop feeling guilty for not fitting your clothes. You are constantly growing and changing and so is your body…it just means an excuse to go shopping!

Your Body Should Not Be Your Kryptonite

Treat your body with respect

 

This one is kind of intuitive. You know what your body needs best. Start listening and taking cues from it.

Try to eat a vegetable every once in awhile. Make time for exercise that you love. Drink plenty of water. Sleep as much as you can. Laugh often and much.

 

You’ve only got one body so you should probably take good care of it!

 

Every time I’m having one of those days where I’m feeling especially crappy because my skin is breaking out or my hair’s a mess, I remind myself that right now I’m in my prime, this is the best I’m ever gonna look, it’s all downhill from here.

 

Right now I can get away with eating another piece of cake and not putting on foundation and sweeping my hair into a ponytail but one of these days that won’t be the case.

 

One day I’m gonna be wrinkly and need mascara to make my lashes even visible. I’m gonna be wobbly and unable to enjoy a brisk walk. And I’m gonna be on a bunch of medication that probably means I can’t eat as much cheesecake.

So I’ve decided that I’m gonna enjoy these fresh faced twenty-something years and not let a pimple or bad hair day stop me from living fully.  

 

Love your body but remember it’s simply a shell that holds all of the rest of you.

 

Megan is the sunny personality behind Apron Strings and Sticky Fingers a lifestyle blog for twenty-somethings who are learning to become the best versions of themselves. Megan is a sucker for cute shoes and paperback books and she lives all the way at the bottom of the world in New Zealand. If you wanna connect with her, you’ll find her on Twitter, Instagram and of course on her blog.  

 

4 Steps Towards Living a Full Life

4 steps towards living a full life

Last week I passed by an oak tree – branches heavy with leaves. The house behind it peeked through its fullness and I thought, I want my life to be like that, Lord. Full.

And then the thought came: Your life will be as full as you want it to be. I get the choice. I can choose to live a full life or I can choose to live a small life. What does living a full life look like?

4 Steps Towards a Full Life

Become Uncomfortable

The older I get, I find myself more cautious. I am neater, more organized, and more aware of consequences and implications. All these things are an important part of development and maturity, but sometimes overthinking and staying too rigid leaves little room for adventure and the ability to be uncomfortable. It’s amazing the little things that make me uncomfortable these days: a change in routine, a small inconvenience. I’ve turned into a persnickety 83 year old in my early-mid twenties. When I get too comfortable with my routine, who I am, and where I am at in life, I limit myself.

One reason I knew I Mr.M was the man I was going to marry was the sheer fact that I was uncomfortable. From Day 1 of our relationship, he pushed me outside my comfort zone. I was uncomfortable at the level of spiritual vulnerability. I was uncomfortable navigating the intercultural nuances. I was uncomfortable with the leadership that came with our relationship. But my life was full. Being outside of my comfort zone pushed me in ways that I could never have imagined. I experienced intense growing pains during the beginning part of our relationship, and I loved it.

What is one area you need to get uncomfortable?

4 steps towards a full life

Establish Deep Roots

The second thing that came to mind as I considered the full oak tree is the roots. A tree cannot grow into adulthood and expand its wings, so to speak, without a deep root system. Likewise, we need our roots to grow long and deep into healthy soil.

How do we get our roots to grow?

We drink deeply, feed our soul, and press into our foundation.

Drink deeply of the life you are given, and press into your foundation. My foundation is my faith. I drink deeply of the wisdom of those older than me and of the Scriptures. I notice a change in myself when I’ve isolated myself from my roots. When I neglect to take time to feed my soul – whether that is refusing to take time for a bubble bath sans Netflix, going on a walk outside, or reading my Bible at night – I feel my leaves start to wither.

How do you feed your soul?

4 Steps Towards a Full Life

Healthy Soil

For those of you who grew up in Sunday School, you likely heard the parable of the sower and the seeds.

A sower threw his seeds into four different areas. The seeds fell onto the path, where they were eaten up by birds – they were denied the chance to grow. Other seeds fell into rocky soil. The plants quickly took root and shot up, but the roots were shallow and the plants were scorched by the heat. Some seeds fell among the thorns, where they were choked up, and the seeds that fell on good soil grew strong and healthy and produced a large crop.

Our soil is our community. Who are we surrounded by? Who do we have to lift us up? Who do we have to nourish us, encourage us, and give us the space to grow?

There were times when I felt as if I was on rocky soil. I feared that if one more thing happens, I would give up. During these times, I wasn’t surrounded by a strong community. I had isolated myself. And even worse, I allowed people who didn’t have my best interest to speak into my life.

There are growing pains that come with a full life. We go through various seasons, and if we are not rooted in a strong community, we will wither and die. What does a strong community look like for you?

For me, a strong community looks like peers who are ambitious. They are pursuing their dreams, their calling, and most importantly, the Lord. A strong community also consists of allowing people who are older and wiser to speak into my life – to call me out when I’m being crazy and to encourage me when I’m weak. In a strong community, there are also people who may be different than me – whether it be younger, or living with a different (but holy) perspective from whom I can learn.

What does a strong community look like for you?

4 Steps Towards a Full Life

Duration

When I think about how long it takes for an oak to grow, it’s exhausting. Oak trees can take up to 100 years to grow to their full potential. Some days it may feel like we see little to no growth at all in our lives. We wonder when we will reach our destiny and fulfill our potential. But we remember, growth comes little by little. We may not see it in the moment, but we get to look back and see how far we have come.

Living a full life takes patience. We must weather through various seasons, year by year, in order to grow. Like the oak tree, we experience high winds, torrential downpours, snow, the hot sun year after year after year. But one day, thirty years from now, when we look back, we will see how much we have grown.

4 Steps to Living a Full Life

Life is like Salt Water Taffy

Life is like Salt Water Taffy

You know when you go down to a candy shop and you see that they are making saltwater taffy? It used to be that two people would pull the taffy apart from each other, creating that tension, stretching it. Now there’s a machine to do that for us, and it’s quite mesmerizing to watch.

via

Seriously, I watched that gif for a solid 5 minutes.

I’m going to propose something to you similar and contrary to what Forrest Gump said: Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get. Yes, there are so many circumstances you will walk into and receive that you never could have imagined. Some are chocolate creme filled and delicious, some are nutty, and some are surprisingly nasty (like those orange ones that came in the cheap Valentine’s Day hearts? BLEGH.) Yes, I agree with Mr. Gump. But I also have another theory: Life is like salt water taffy.

What do I mean by this? I mean we are stretched and and stretched and then we come back together, getting closer to our goal: what we want to do, who we want to become, etc., and then are stretched again. It can be exhausting. Do you ever feel like, OK God, I conquered this area. WHY AM I BEING STRETCHED AGAIN? Because the stretching never ends. I finally figured out what I wanted to do. And then I had to wait – the waiting being sretched and pulled while still staying stationary. I found myself comfortable for a moment, and then the Lord was like, “Alright, time to move you out of your comfort zone again.” Stretched and pulled again.

It’s feels like we’ll never truly “arrive.”

It’s a depressing thought. 

We’re exhausted and we’ll never arrive. We’re constantly being stretched and will never fully be the ultimate person we thought we were going to become.

But it’s also an encouraging thought.

We will always be stretched; we will always grow. Pai tells stories about us when we first started dating –  I was awkward, insecure, and a little dramatic. OK. . .so I’m still a little awkward and dramatic, and let’s face it: do we every truly grow out of all our insecurities? No. But I have noticed growth in how I respond and who I am today is not the same person who I was 3 years ago. And who I am today will not be the same person I will be in 3 years from now. I have the potential to grow out of my personality flaws, I have the time to become who God has created me to be.

And even when I’m seventy-five, I will still have things I can improve upon.

This is the beauty of the different life stages. When we enter into a new stage in life, we’re confronted with new challenges. When we are confronted with  new challenges, we succeed and fail. We grow.

So while it’s exhausting to always be stretched, in the end, we’ll become something good.

What was once Illegal

hugs and lattes

Pai and I enjoyed a leisurely brunch (at 2pm. . .) since I had the day off. Before I started dating Pai, I didn’t give Martin Luther King a lot of thought. I studied slavery throughout the colonization of America up until the Civil War and read all about the Civil Rights movement growing up in school, but none of it resonated with me as much because I grew up an upper-middle class white girl. To me, MLK was a just great guy who brought to our attention the horrors of racial inequality and racism.

In the middle of college I started dating Pai. I had always been attracted to men with darker skin. I’m not 100% sure why, but maybe it was because Will Smith swooned my eleven year old heart as I watched reruns of Fresh Prince of Belair until the wee hours of the morning.

Pai is a sociologist, so he studies why people act the way they do, and lets me peek into his mind as he unpacks his thoughts and theories.

One afternoon before we were officially “dating” he and I went on a run together through downtown. We walked the last mile back to my car hand in hand. It was the first and last time I felt people staring as they passed us. I had lots of different thoughts running through my mind.

What are people thinking when they pass us? 

Is it okay for us to be doing this in somewhat-rural East Tennessee?

What if someone gets angry and runs up on the sidewalk?

Ok. . .  that last one was dramatic, but I often think of worst case scenarios. I decided right then and there that I wasn’t going to pay attention to the looks we would get when we are together. I’m sure I’ll have to re-remind myself of this one day when I’m alone at the grocery store with my adorable caramel skinned babies.

As Pai prayed for brunch today, he thanked God for Martin Luther King and the path he foraged for people in the United States. 60 years ago, it would have been illegal for Pai and I to be together. It would have been wrong for us to go to the same restroom, or even drink out of the same drinking fountain. I can safely say that it was quite safe to drink after him. And kiss him. (But only for me. No one else is allowed to kiss him.)

MLK Day used to just be a day that enabled me to enjoy a long weekend. Nowadays I am thankful for the sacrifice Martin Luther King made along with his family and the countless of civil rights activitsts that stood by his side.

My heart breaks for all of the racial inequality and the whispers of pain that still course throughout the American community because of the injustices of racism that are still obvious today.

As white Americans, we don’t want to say, “We don’t see color.” Color is important. We want to embrace each other’s heritage. We want to celebrate the differences in culture, differences in skin tone, and differences in the way we communicate.

Color is important.

Love is important.

Nayyirah Waheed