Read to Live

 

READ to

I’ve always been a reader. As a result, I am a big believer in the lasting effects of reading on a person’s life. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the knowledge I’ve gained through books.

So many people claim they are not the reading kind and I just sort of chuckle and then change the subject. Because I don’t believe that being a reader is optional. If you want to grow, lead, succeed, and dream, then reading has to become a part of your life.

Take growth, for instance. I’m not the same timid, unaware, insecure girl I was even ten years ago. And I have countless books to thank for that. The Bible tops the list, though, as being the most influential in my maturity as a confident woman. I now know who I am because of what the Word of God says about me. He calls me His beloved one, His chosen daughter, and His beautiful masterpiece.

What about leadership skills? Surely the proof is seen in the fact that so many great leaders of our time are self-proclaimed hearty learners. John Maxwell is one of my favorite authors on leadership and this is what he has to say about being a lifelong student:

“Live to learn and you will really learn to live.”

Without reading, we limit ourselves to what other people have to say. If you really want to learn, discover it for yourself by picking up a book.

Success is one of those words that gets thrown around a lot in accordance with the much sought after American Dream. Whether we are looking for external success through dollar bills or internal success through peace in our souls, we have to take into account the important words of those who have gone before us. Eleanor Roosevelt, former First Lady of the United States and human rights activist, said,

“One thing I believe profoundly: We make our own history. The course of history is directed by the choices we make and our choices grow out of the ideas, the beliefs, the values, the dreams of the people.”

We cannot succeed without gaining wisdom from the voices of influential men and women of yesterday. Our future depends on our remembrance of those that have paved the way. Read a biography about someone you admire. You just might learn that you share some of their passions and therefore be inspired to go after a greater purpose than you could have ever imagined on your own.

Dreaming is a lost art these days. Many times we get used to going and doing that we forget to stop and dream for a minute. But if we aren’t dreaming then we are living a pretty dull existence. So many books have brought the dreamer out in me. From fairy tales to poetry, reading has a way of opening our hearts and minds to a world beyond what our eyes can see. I loved getting lost in the Nancy Drew books as a young girl. I would pretend I was brave like she was and imagine going on mysterious adventures to rescue the wounded neighborhood cat or spy on the mischievous shop owner. Don’t knock the value that comes from lying down in the grass and letting your imagination take you beyond the printed page. I am now finishing up my degree in criminal justice all these years later. It looks like those Nancy Drew books paid off after all…

One of my highest goals in life is to add something of value to this world. I want to make a deposit of outlandish proportions into the futures of generations to come. This may seem like a daunting task to some, but to me, it’s why I’m alive. Where does reading fit into this picture? Well, let’s just put it this way: If I don’t stay presently aware of the needs in my society by picking up a newspaper or clicking on that online article, then I sure as heck won’t know what to do to make the world a better place for the children of tomorrow.

Reading is not only about personal growth and development but also about staying educated so that we can raise up future leaders that wisely take responsibility for their own growth, success, and dreams.

Read to live. One day you will look back at how far you’ve come and be so glad you picked up that book.

Writing-Wednesdays-1

Link up on #writingwednesdays through Write Tribe

Monday Motivation Tips

Monday motivation

I didn’t get to blog about #healthyover30 this past weekend so I thought I’d start off this week with that post. I’m gonna give you all some tips that I’ve taken from a variety of sources that are working really well for me. They are pretty obvious but, hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? 😉

Tip #1- Drink a ton of water. Like, when you think you have had enough water for the day, drink another bottle. 🙂 Sometimes we think we are hungry when really our bodies are dehydrated. This has really helped me stay full longer, too!

Tip #2- Workout in some way, shape, or form every single day. Even if it’s only 20 minutes- get moving DAILY. I walk in the mornings five days a week. I do Zumba once a week and I do at home strength training once or twice a week. Some days I combine things, too!

Tip #3- Go to bed by 10:00pm. Why? Because most of us have to get up by 6:00 in the morning and this bedtime ensures atleast eight hours of sleep. You may not think you need that much sleep per night but, I promise you, you do. Do kids ever seem to run out of energy? Nope. Ya know why? Because they take naps during the day and go to bed early. I don’t know about you but I want to be as energetic as I was when I was five.

Tip #4- Cut out the sugar. This is really hard, but of all the changes I’ve made, it has produced the most obvious results in my weight and energy. Just going without that morning doughnut and skipping the coke with lunch will give you a boost and prevent a sugar crash. Plus, you’ll start to realize that you don’t even need it as much as you think you do!

Tip #5- Have fun with your food. I think that the main reason I’m having success with my vegetarian journey is because I’m incorporating delicious recipes that include a wide variety of foods. The more colorful it is, the more I’m inclined to want to make it! I have never been good in the kitchen. I just decided that I can cook and it’s going to be fun, darn-it! Our attitude has a lot to do with our success!

So, I hope these tips encourage you in your #healthyover30 journey. The most important thing I can tell you is this: Don’t be so hard on yourself. We all have bad eating days. (I ate pretzels with Nutella until I almost hurled last night!) We all skip workouts when we are tired. ( I chose a chick flick and wine over a workout last weekend!)

Once in a while diet mess ups do not negate all the work you’ve done. Just remind yourself that you’re worth the sacrifice and make a better choice next time. You can do it- you know how I know? Because I’m doing it!

What does it really mean to be Wild and Free?

From self doubt to God- confidence

It’s June already. I can’t even believe it. Summer is practically here! As you may recall, I have been reading one book a month as a personal growth challenge of sorts.

My book for May was called “Wild and Free” by Jess Connolly and Hayley Morgan. First of all, let me just say this to start:

EVERY WOMAN, YOUNG or OLD, NEEDS TO READ THIS BOOK. 

Here’s why:

It deals with two of the biggest issues women of all ages have dealt with since the dawn of time. Never being enough or Always being too much. We are either one or the other. Sometimes both!

It takes the reader through the lives of two women, one introvert and one extrovert. Both women talk about their journey from self-doubt to God-confidence. They are real, raw, and relate-able.

Lastly, included is an anthem for women everywhere that raises our eyes upward from our circumstances and fills us with everlasting hope. It goes like this:

“The world may tell us we’re too much and never enough.

But we can walk wildly in who God created us to be and rest freely in the work Jesus did for us.

We do not have to be confined or conformed by cultural expectations.

We are unchained from our past and unafraid of our future.

We choose compassion over comparison.

We love without condition, without reserve.

Our eyes are on God; we hold nothing back; we run fast and strong; we do not hide our light.

We aren’t wild and free for our sake alone; rather we sing life, hope, and truth over the world with abandon- just as our God sings over us.

We are wild and free.

And we are poised to do mighty things, in Christ alone.”

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Check this amazing book out! You’ll be motivated and encouraged to live out your God-given purpose with joy and confidence.

God Don’t Make No Junk

you have been lovingly adorned by the touch of the father

Intricately woven together.Elaborately detailed. Lavishly embellished. Hand-sewn. This is how I was made.

So were you. Every single piece of you was a thought in God’s mind before it was ever on your body. You have been lovingly adorned by the touch of the Father.

To say that we are not beautiful is to tell our Creator that He didn’t do a good job when He made us. Something I tell my kids all the time is this: God don’t make no junk! (And you have to say it with a Madea-esque accent to really make your point.) 😉

It sounds trite and maybe a little bit condescending but, the truth is, You Are Special. Not because of your amazing abilities or your gorgeous long locks or even your dynamite cooking skills. No, you’re special because God is the One who gave you all those gifts. His attention to detail is what makes you so awesome.

I mean, think about it. Every single person on the earth is unique. There are no two people that are exactly alike. Sure, we might share some of the same talents or features with friends or family members but we are undeniably different in how we possess those attributes.

-our lives are an extension of God's creativity.-

Our lives are an extension of God’s creativity. We are the instruments in heaven’s orchestra, the flowers in the garden of Paradise, the gems in the Father’s crown. We are spectacular because we have been made by the un-created yet perfectly creative One.

He came up with the idea of creation on His own. Noone told Him how to do it. He just started speaking life into existence and creating beautiful things everywhere He went. The foundation of who we are is completely original and fundamentally new.

If we could just grasp this then we would never struggle with identity issues ever again. No matter how much anyone tries to be like you, they just CANNOT be you. It’s not even possible because deep inside of you is the God-given knowledge of I’m the only one of me. A copy-cat is just that: a copy. A duplicate poses no threat to the original.

When we are confident in our design, we can live loved and love well. The pressure to be someone else is off. We are each a masterpiece because the Master of every living thing put us together, piece by piece.

Healthy Over 30!

Healthy

Today is a health focused post! Each Sunday I am going to include some health tips from different people in the nutrition/fitness community that I have been following. Feel free to tackle a few tips this week and comment to let me know how they worked for you. I will use the tag #healthyover30 so go ahead and tag your instagram pics, facebook posts, blog pieces, and tweets with #healthyover30 if you’re joining me on this journey. Isn’t this fun? 🙂

Before I get started with the amazing tips I have found for you this weekend, let me tell you my personal goals for this season of my life. I am 35 years old (so not a young spring chicken anymore!) and I feel like I am now at a place where I need to need to go big or go home. My kids are getting more independent and I am finding myself with a little more time to be able to really focus on me lately. (Woo hoo!)

For the past month or so, my friend, Jennifer, and I have been meeting to walk or run about three to four mornings a week at 5:15 a.m. Usually we finish 3 miles. This past Saturday we did a little over 5 miles. We also get together every Monday night and take Zumba from this seriously awesome chick at the YMCA. Her classes have been a huge motivator for me in my recent fitness journey! (I am going to include her FB page link in the tips below so you can watch her videos if you want!) I have also, in large part to Jennifer’s influence, started taking huge steps in the vegetarian direction. She has been a vegetarian for the past seven years and has shown me that there is so much creative freedom in this meatless lifestyle. I am turning over a new leaf, friends!

Here are my current #healthyover30 goals: (Follow me on twitter @Nspiritandtruth)

  1. Get my Zumba instructor certification in August to start teaching.
  2. Run or walk 20 miles a week.
  3. Start eliminating meat from my diet in gradual progression from one day a week to seven days a week. (This is a year-long goal I’ve given myself.)
  4. Post daily pictures of healthy meal options through instagram for accountability. (Follow me at hvheartsong)
  5. Journal the highs and lows of this process every Sunday for you to glean wisdom from along with tips to stay motivated.  

Now, on to some fun links and tips for you to read or watch when you get some time!

Here’s the link to my fave Zumba instructor’s facebook page: https://www.zumba.com/en-US/instructor/Kylie_Edwards/75327

She has her playlist on there as well as step by step video teachings so you can learn the choreography. And she’s a bit spunky so she’s super fun to follow. My fave routine from her class is to the Fifth Harmony song, “Worth It”!  

This is my new favorite Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/MindOverMunch

This girl, Alyssia Sheikh, has some amazing recipe videos and workout tutorials on here. She posts new videos every Monday and Thursday with links to pdf files for the printable recipes. If you’re vegan, vegetarian, or a meat-eater, she is your gal! Take a look at her meal prep video: 

Wanna know my go-to healthy living magazine for recipes, inspiration, and fitness helps? Well, here ya go! Skinny Mom

Lastly, here is my empowering #healthyover30 song choice for that extra push to keep going on tough days.

I hope that you will join in the fun and set some #healthyover30 goals for yourself as well. If you’re not over 30, you can still join in the fun. Just comment below with your hashtag of choice linking to your personal goals page and I’ll follow and cheer you on! Have some fitness or nutrition advice that you would like to share? Comment below to let me know and we’ll be in touch. I love hearing about everyone’s goals and journeys. Oh, and don’t ever forget:

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Healthy

Sing Sweet Nightingale

10 ways ToSurvive YourHigh SchoolReunion

I just finished my April book as I continue on with my reading goals for 2016! In case you haven’t seen my list of books for the year, “The Nightingale” by Kristin Hannah was April’s read. And what an all-consuming book it was! I seriously couldn’t put it down.

For those of you that know me well, you know that I am an avid reader of just about anything. But I haven’t read a historical novel in, like, ten years. So this mighty book was an undertaking for me. I love history, especially french history, and that is exactly what this book is about. I also love any book that highlights women as the heroine or protagonist. This remarkable book does that as well.

It follows Viann and her younger sister, Isabelle, through their individual stories of love and loss during World War II. Both of the women are tough but in starkly different ways. One is a tenderhearted mother and the other is an impulsive young adult. They navigate their struggles with dignity and grace while trying to include each other in their frayed lives. I felt such a pull on my heartstrings as I read what these women had to endure in order to keep their heads above water during this horrific time in history. This book will give you a life-altering perspective on what it really means to be in need (not just physically but emotionally and mentally as well).

To say that I was enormously affected by “The Nightingale” is an understatement. I highly recommend this book to anyone who needs a reality check on just how blessed they are. I also recommend this book to any woman who feels strongly, like I do, that our feminine voices need to be heard. Kristin Hannah does such an amazing job at portraying the softness of a woman’s feelings right alongside the hardness of her role as survivor in a cruel world. We can all learn a few things from this book! Go get yourself a copy today!

Sunday Rest #11

 

“God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.”

– 1 John 4:17-18 (MSG)

 

 

Sunday Rest #10

Psalm 62:1-2

“I wait quietly before God,

for my victory comes from Him.

He alone is my Rock and and my Salvation,

my fortress where I will never be shaken.”

photo credit: Worship Daddy & Daughter via photopin (license)

How to Lead Well

brian-houston

My March book choice from my 2016 Book Challenge was “Live Love Lead” by Brian Houston. This book was an interesting look at Pastor Brian’s life story from childhood to adulthood. If you do not know, he is the pastor to Australia’s largest church, Hillsong Church. I am a huge fan of their worship music!

Anyways, here are the main points I took from this gem of a read:

  1. God has called us to live a BIG life. He wants you to “follow your heart, stay true to the gift that is on your life, go forth in the strength that you have, be comfortable in your grace zone, be confident in your call- and watch as God exceeds your every expectation and leads you into a wide-open and spacious life.” (p. 41)
  2. We are meant to carry a pioneering spirit. Houston says, “Pioneering takes courage, ingenuity, and a sense of adventure. With a pioneer spirit must come willingness to fail and falter, but with an unwavering belief in the long-term future vision.” (p. 58)
  3. Stay committed to the process even when it’s painful. Jesus never said our life on earth would be easy. Dark days do come and we have to be steadfast in pursuing the God-given vision for our life despite opposition and trials. I love this quote: “Each of us must cling to our own revelation of Jesus whenever bleak days try to obscure our faithful path.” (p. 78)

I encourage you to soak this book up if you are in a leadership role of any type. It will motivate you to keep going, to expand your vision and to love relentlessly!

 

Sunday Rest #9

“Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;
    make known among the nations what he has done.
Sing to him, sing praise to him;
    tell of all his wonderful acts.
 Glory in his holy name;
    let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
Look to the Lord and his strength;
    seek his face always.”

1 Chronicles 16:8-11

photo credit: Nothing will ever be more beautiful than the love you have brought into my life. ❤ via photopin (license)