Monday, June 29, 2015

June Favorites

So You Think You Can Dance // These two men have to be some of my all time favs and I am in love with the concept of this year's season with Stage vs. Street. It's super entertaining and has been highlighting completely new versions of street dance. This show has always been one of my favorites of all time and this season it is only getting better as it's going on.

The Best Yes // by Lisa TerKeurst. I'm part way through this book right now and I'm loving it/it's wrecking me (but in an amazing way). The premise is understanding how to follow God's best yes for your life, instead of every yes that seems helpful or right while secretly burning you out. You do not have to burn out to be an extravagant lover of people and to know God's purpose. You simply need to follow His will, and your Best Yes. It's wrecking me ya'll. You gotta pick this one up!

Zoe's Kitchen // Ok, not to be a trend hopper, but I am absolutely loving this new restaurant. (Well new to our area at least.) I tried super hard not to jump on the band wagon with this one, but I finally caved and it really is worth the hype. I even dragged my hubby in and he seriously agreed with me. Two thumbs up for this. If you have one in your area I would absolutely go check it out.

#FruitfulSummer // with Lara Casey and friends has been such a wonderful read this summer. It is a full on summer guide on how to create beautiful friendships by creating intentional relationships in your life. The guide comes straight to your email weekly (for FREE) and it's chock full of encouragement from Lara and a ton of contributors explaining how to cultivate fruitful friendships. You really do not want to miss out on this amazing summer guide and opportunity to grow.

A Short Blonde // Written by the lovely Catherine, this blog has quickly become one of my favorites to read. I've recently stumbled upon this delightful and beautifully written gem and I truly look forward to catching up on her story whenever I can. Her Nashville adventures are filled with vibrant pictures, encouraging thoughts, and a great glimpse at life. Seriously check her out if you enjoy a wonderful lifestyle blog.

The Influence Network Podcast // The Influence Network is an incredible resource that equips women with classes, a blog, conferences, podcasts, and more to encourage them on their creative journey with God by helping them to be the influence our society needs. I've fallen in love with the podcast recently and listen to it relentlessly as it consistently inspires me in my growth and personal life journey. It is a small fee to join the network but absolutely worth it in my opinion. (However the podcasts are free). Give them a good listenin to. You won't be sorry.

What are some things ya'll have been loving this month?? I would love to hear about them!


Friday, June 26, 2015

3 Delicious and Healthy Lunch Options

Hey there Friends! It is fantastically summer time out and I love this weather so very much. If you have been a follower of my blog for some time now then you already know that I am obsessed with the warmer weather. Yeppers.

But during this warm weather time comes out all of the shorts and tanks and dresses (oh my!) and eating a bit healthier to maintain a good physique in those tinier clothes is always super helpful.

Now don't get me wrong, I am not some kind of a health nut obsessing over my food or anything. I just really enjoy a nice fresh salad, quinoa bowl, or sandwich throughout the summer. It helps me to feel lighter, energized, and ready to continue my day. So here are 3 very yummy and pretty healthy ways you can enjoy the delicious tastes of summer without expanding that waistline. 

The Avocado & Tomato Sandwich

Now I know I just said avocado but it's really more like guacamole and tomato, but either way it is absolutely delicious. So, here's what you will need

1 Avocado
1 Slice of an Onion
Garlic Powder

So first of all, my husband will be the first to tell you that I am the absolute worst person to be creating recipes because I am so extremely liberal with the amounts I put into things. So please don't hate me for not giving you exact measurements, but I truly feel like food should be tailored to the individual eater and their tastes, so have at it friends!

The first thing that you want to do is slice open the avocado, take out the pit, and then use a spoon to scoop out the super yummy avocadoness into a bowl. Use a fork to really mash that sucker up. 

Next you are going to chop up your onion into really tiny pieces (so it's not crazy strong) and then mix in the desired amount with your already mashed avocado. Add in your fresh cilantro, slightly chopped, and then stir that puppy into scrumptious heavenlyness.

Finally you want to add your spices, so shake in the garlic powder, salt, and pepper (all to taste) and finish stirring your guac. If you want to get really creative with your design flavor, you can squeeze a lime over top of it, but again it's all about preference. 

Once your guac is ready to go, you're going to put your bread into the toaster. I personally like to use Ezekiel Sprouted Grain Bread, since it tends to be a bit healthier for you in the arena of good carbs for your body. Then I am going to lather up my toast with some of the delicious avocado concoction, place some freshly sliced tomatoes on that, and place a nice layer of spinach on the top, and wallah! Fresh and delicious avocado and tomato sandwich.

Berry & Goat Cheese Salad

This recipe idea I got from a local restaurant in a cute little town called New Hope. I took it home, made it my own, and now it is one of my favorite quick fix and delicious lunch time meals for the summer. So let us start again with ingredients!

Romaine Lettuce
Goat Cheese
Raspberry Vinaigrette

So this one, like I mentioned, is a fairly easy quick fix lunch and you want to start by mixing in a large bowl together the spinach and romaine lettuce. Next cut up your strawberries into fours and toss them and the blueberries into your lettuce mixture. Finally sprinkle on some goat cheese and top it off with your raspberry vinaigrette and you have a light and delicious salad for those warm summer months.

Mexican Quinoa Bowl

This lovely recipe was inspired by a breakfast item my sister-in-law made for us while we were visiting her at the end of last summer, and it has honestly become a staple around our home these days. It's a Mexican style quinoa bowl that has nothing but super fresh ingredients and is incredibly energy filling. So what are you gonna need?

1 cup of Quinoa
1 can of black beans
1 can of corn
1/2 packet of taco seasoning
Mexican Cheese

So you are going to start by cooking the quinoa. We cook ours in the rice cooker we have, but you can also cook it on the stove, you just need to follow the directions on the packet. Usually a cup is great to serve two people and have a bit of leftovers (round two!). 

Next you want to dump the black beans, corn, and taco seasoning into a pan to mix together. It works best if you drain the water out of the corn but cook with the liquid in the beans. Then slice up your onion (to your desired amount) and add that into the pan so it can all cook together and flavor itself.

While all of that is going on, take this time to cut up your tomato, avocado, and cilantro.

Once all is cooked, then you get to assemble! I usually place the quinoa on the bottom, layer the black bean and corn on top of that, and then place in my cilantro, tomato, avocado, and spinach. You can finish it all of with some salsa for a bit more flavor, add a light sprinkling of mexican cheese, and then squeeze some lime juice over it all. Trust me when I say that this meal will not disappoint!

I hope these all have inspired you to create some fun and healthy lunch concoctions of your own. If you do I would love to hear all about them! Please feel free to link any of your favorite healthy lunch recipes in the comments below. I absolutely love sharing recipes with my friends. Love ya'll!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Other Side of the Storm // My Testimony

Last night we got hit pretty hard by a literal storm. And it was nasty. The wind whipped relentlessly through the trees while the rain beat down harder then I've seen in a long time.

The thunder bellowed in the air and the lightening cracked through the center of the sky. It was a sight, and a scary one at that. I remember another storm a bit like this one, where the lightening crackled so hard that it literally shook the ground and ultimately changed my entire life. 

We were sitting at the "dinner table" one night several years (and I air quote that because at the time we were actually eating off of TV dinner trays in the living room, but that was essentially the dinner table to us) and my mother and I heard the loudest crack of thunder and lightening I had ever heard in my life. I'm honestly not exaggerating when I say it shook the house.

We peered out of the side window in our home to see if anything was hit, but noticed very little, so we decided to proceed back to our meal. As we sat back down to continue with our marathon of The Office, it suddenly occurred to us that the TV picture was a weird shade of bluish green. 

That's odd.

But then came the smell. There was something off within in the home and my nose was the first to pick it up. "It doesn't smell right in here," I explained to my mom.

We stood and wandered into the back of our home to investigate. No sooner did we reach the end of our home, then we realized that there were large flames shooting out of our dryer that were quickly spreading throughout the back family room. We scanned the rooms around us and noticed the walls starting to slowly turn black.

It was in the walls.

I scooped up my cell phone and our family dog and booked it outside into the storm all while dialing 911. I was panicked to say the least. After waiting what felt like a lifetime (an all of 3 minutes and 48 seconds), the fire engines arrived on the scene. But it was essentially too late. 

It took the local fire department over 2 hours to finally put the fire completely to rest and the inside of our home was scorched beyond repair. Most of our things were destroyed by either the fire or the water damage.

But we were alive.

God had pulled us out of the fire and kept us (and our pets) safe. The fire that could have eaten us whole took from us only possessions and I am eternally grateful for the new outlook in life I received from the experience. I had been saved.

Five days later, at a local Christian summer camp, I clearly heard God call me back into a relationship with Him, and I chose to devote my life to His purpose. It was scary, new, and I honestly had no idea what the heck that was going to look like, but I knew that if He could pull me out of that terrifying storm, then what couldn't He save me from with my life fully dedicated to Him.

That was nearly 7 years ago and my life has not been the same since. And believe me when I say, that does not by any means, mean the storms have stopped. It simply gives me the understanding that I am not going through these storms alone.

That experience has also taught me perseverance through the storms of life, because after my life altering storm, my life was just that...altered forever. I learned that getting through that storm with God by your side, leads you to a thousand blessings on the other side. Persevering through that rough time taught me a lifetime of lessons about the benefits of sticking with things, not quitting, and not giving up hope.

Last night was scary, but I had prayer to comfort me and an incredible man of God by my side to physically walk with me. Both things provided to me by my Lord and Savior. Both things a blessing provided after weathering the previous storms of life.

Are you in the middle of a particularly stormy season? Please let me encourage you to lean on the only one who can lead you out of it. He is so good and will bring you to the other side of that storm.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Understanding Love as a Verb

Love truly is the greatest thing our world has to offer. We were created in it, by it, and for it. Love is our highest and greatest calling in this world (Matthew 22:36-40). I would like to think that I am great at being in love. That I hit it out of the park every time without cause for concern.

But then I come across a rough patch in life and begin to realize that I'm not even a rookie at love, I'm still in little league (and that awkward kid who spins in a circle three times while at bat, completely and totally missing the ball anyway). Yep, that's me.

I personally would like to believe that when I love someone, I'm loyal. I do nice things to surprise them. I would go that extra mile for them. I'm the person they can always call when they're down. And while these qualities are not bad ones to have, they are more of what our world constitutes as full  and meaningful love, not really God's version.

As I was reading my bible this morning I felt pulled to 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8, the love verses. I know that there are tons of people who are not even regular church goers or bible readers, who can recite the love verses, because they are so widely popular. 

But just because we can recite something or know it, doesn't mean we have fully let it settle in our hearts to put into practice. That was where I found myself this past weekend. In a place when knowing had to translate into doing, as a verb, and I honestly fell flat on my face. Three strikes and I was totally out.

This weekend Josh and I got in a bit of an argument over normal husband and wife, getting to know and understand each other kind of stuff and this morning my handicap pup had her 3,719,854th accident. Nether of these were pretty. Nether of them went the way I ultimately would have liked them to go. Nether of them went God's way.

That being said, this was most likely the reason God brought me straight to 1 Corinthians this morning. To review and soak deep into my heart the love verses once again so they could not just be words on a paper but every day verbs in my life.

Love is Patient.

Patience. While a beautiful word and concept, definitely not always a strong suit of mine. But if I am going to be someone who loves my family well, I need to continuously strive for patience. 

Love is Kind.

Whereas I would like to think on a regular basis I am a fairly kind person, in the heat of the moment, I am fully aware of the not so kind words that fly out of my mouth. Words have the ability to hurt deeper than any physical wound, therefor I need to continuously strive to be kind with my words and actions.

It does not Envy.

While I would like to believe that I love on my friends and cheer them on in the triumphs of their lives, I am well aware of that green little monster called envy creeping up in the background. I need to get him in check and fully love people by not being envious of them.

It does not Boast. It is not Proud.

These two almost walk hand in hand for me. I hope to strive always to be humble before my God and man, giving all of the glory, honor, and praise to God alone. Your pride will try to wreck your relationship daily. Josh and I have already learned this in our short time of being married. Our relationship is more important than the pride we want to cling to. We need to consistently choose love over pride every single day to make our relationship work, no matter how difficult that is in practice.

It is not Rude.

While I was raised to always have manners in every situation, we do not live in an Emily Post society, and I fail constantly at being rude and hurting people's feelings. Remember that thing I just mentioned about words hurting, well rude words really hurt, and I am not showing love to someone if I am being rude to them. Rudeness has no place in love.

It is not Self-Seeking.

If the first thing that I can think about in a particular situation is, "what am I going to get out of this?" than I am thinking all wrong. If the first thing I am thinking during an argument is, "how can I manipulate this situation to get the very best outcome for me?" than I am thinking wrong. Real love is never selfish, but rather places the self aside to serve others in all things. I need to be consistently placing others first to show them real love.

It is not Easily Angered.

Those select few people who have penetrated the deepest levels of my heart, know that I struggle desperately with this at the bottom of my core. Being angry is not something to be proud of and it is an evil that can truly hurt those around us if we let it. Being easily angered over little, insignificant things can tear a relationship apart. I need to consistently strive not to let my emotions rule my life.

It keeps NO Record of Wrongs.

Grudge holding will never be healthy for my relationships. After I have handed out grace and forgiveness to that person, the wrong doing is not to be placed on a tally sheet to be pulled out later as a weapon. It's over. Let it go. (Let it go)

Love does not delight in evil but Rejoices in the Truth.

Truth (God's Word) is greater and more powerful than anything you will ever come across in life. Period. Even if Truth is not what that person wants to hear in the moment, it will ultimately be the healthiest for their life to have Truth spoken to them over mindless agreement. If you truly love someone, you want them to live the healthiest life possible by walking in Truth.

It always Protects.

I need to protect those I love around me from gossip, slander, anger, selfishness, rudeness, and only I can step into the situation and make the decision to follow the crowd or protect my love.

Always Trusts.

To love someone I need to surrender. And by this I mean I need to let go of control and trust that they have the best interests for my life. I can not consistently dig my nails into a situation because I believe that I can control them, or the outcome. I need to surrender, let go, and trust.

Always Hopes.

There is always hope in every situation in life, no matter how dark. So to love well, I need to carry hope with me as I embark through each season of life.

Always Perseveres.

This one is a constant battle in our culture who has made it all too easy to walk away. Love perseveres. It perseveres through every hard and difficult season, no matter what.

Love Never Fails.

Love never fails, we do. If we consistently strive to follow all of the above (and I do mean all, not just the select few that we prefer), then it can NEVER fail. Because we are promised that it will never fail and in trusting my God's Word, I know He is always Truthful with me.

I think understanding love comes down to recognizing the attributes that make up love and striving to live them out daily. Love is not just a feeling of butterflies in the bit of our stomach as that cute person walks by, but it is an action. Love is a verb that we need to walk out daily. 

If you have not yet read Love Does by Bob Goff, please please go buy it and read it. It will honestly wreck your life in the best way and help you to realize the beauty of Love, the verb. It's a perfect summer read. Have a great week my friends!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Pinspiration for Your Weekend Pleasure

I'm pretty sure the art of pinning has become a favorite of the masses recently. I love being able to see what others have pinned, great DIY ideas, home design, party design, I mean you can literally find anything you want in this magical land.

Pinterest helps us create our wedding themes now, decorate our homes (or redecorate them after we've seen everyone else's), find great furniture pieces, paint schemes, you want it and they have it for you.

So if you love pinning as much as I do (and let's face it, who doesn't) then here is some Pinspiration leading into your weekend that may inspire a redesign, summer party idea, or simply make ya laugh. 

Hope everyone has a fantastic weekend! If there are any pins that you have been drooling over at the moment, that give you pinspiration, please feel free to link them below. I would love to be able to share with you what you are loving as well!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Brightening Up Your Space for Summer

It's summertime!! (Well nearly, few more days.) And I believe that some of the best ways to set your home up for summer is by brightening it up. Now if I'm being honest I like a bright home year round, but there are some fun ways that you can decorate your home for summer that can really make it feel light and airy.

So I put together three little easy to do, DIY weekend projects to help bring new life to your home as we usher in that gorgeous summer season.

The first one is to paint the old wood trim in your home (if you have any) to bring a lighter and brighter feel to your space. Our home is over 100 years old! And because of that we had alot of the original wood casings and molding everywhere. This simply made our space look super dark. So we have been working on painting it to liven it up.

While most of the painting has been done for some time now, we still had a window in our stairwell that was in it's raw, dark wood form. This past weekend we brightened it up with some fresh paint and added breezy window coverings to give the landing an overall soft feel. And I'm loving it.

Although I sadly forgot to take a picture of the window before I started painting, I do have some pictures from when we first started painting the dining room, which will give you a feel for how dark the space was when we first moved in.

As you can tell from the picture, the only thing that was bright in our space back then was the outside. This same dark wood surrounded the landing window in our stairwell also. So after dedicating only a few hours, we had a gorgeous result that looked like this.

This white color is also what all of the wood in our home looks like now and I think it enhances our home a thousand percent. I'm in love!

Next we need to add the new window coverings to give it a soft and flowy feel. Josh helped me out with this one by screwing in the brackets for the curtain rods and making sure everything was even.

While he finished up with that, I ironed the curtains. A necessary evil, I'm afraid. I really am not a big fan of ironing curtains. It's a huge pain in the butt, however, trust me in this one, it makes all of the difference in the end, not to have all of those creases. I purchased these curtains from Bed Bath & Beyond for a really affordable price.

Once the curtains were all sorted out, Wallah, a fresh space fully brightening up your home.

The thing I wanted to do to brighten up our space was to add some potted plants around our porch. We had a few pots in our basement, but when I purchased a rather larger hydrangea, we did not have a pot big enough for it. 

I ran over to my favorite, yes you guessed it, Home Depot, to pick up another ceramic planter. However, they were a bit out of budget at the moment and I chose to grab a clay one instead (you know, the slightly obnoxious bright orangey colored ones, yeah that guy.)

This leads me straight to weekend project number 2, brightening up a clay planter. I wanted it to fall in line with the color scheme of my already purchased, purple and light blue ceramic planters that already grace our porch (and not be so much of a gigantic eye sore).

Luckily I love blue and have a ton of blue paint samplers in my basement from when we painted our home. I think that it is so great to reuse items as much as possible when they are available, so I sorted through a few of our samplers and found a color I thought would compliment our porch and the hydrangea beautifully.

"Swan Sea"
Next I simply started to paint that sucker.

The paint dried almost instantly and I was ready to give my plant a new home immediately. When all was said and done, I had a gorgeous and bright planter for my hydrangeas.

The last thing I love to do to brighten up my home for summer time, is to add fresh flowers around different rooms. I believe greenery adds the perfect little somethin somethin to your space that practically pulls the gorgeous colors of summer right through the windows of your home, depositing them all around the house. I love seeing fresh flowers and arrangements throughout someone's space and I truly do believe that it brightens up the area instantly.

You don't have to go crazy expensive with fresh flowers either. I purchased both the bouquet of roses and the eucalyptus from Trader Joe's for less than $4 each. And I simply separated them all out into multiple jars around my home. Easy peasy!

Let me know what it is you are doing to brighten up your space this summer. I always love finding new ways to bring life to our home!


Monday, June 15, 2015

Tips for Moving Forward When You are Feeling "Stuck" in this Season

I personally feel like most of us come across a time in our lives where we just feel stuck. I know that I have personally been in this place multiple times in my life. (Maybe even a little now).

I think I would define "stuck" as living in a season of transition and not fully being sure or confident of what is on its way next. That in between where we question what we're engaged in while wondering what is on the horizon for us.

It is really easy to feel stuck, confused, and even a little frustrated throughout unclear seasons in life, but I also believe we can actively take steps to pull ourselves out of this muck and into the next fantastic season of purpose that we were all created for. 

One of the first things I would suggest while trying to figure your next move would be write out some of your strengths, weaknesses, and future goals. It's helpful to see what you are good at, lessons you've recently learned, what things have worked (and haven't worked) in your journey, and where you see yourself.

An amazing resource I have found that helps me to organize all of these thoughts and ideas are the Power Sheets by Lara Casey. I'm not even kidding, the Power Sheets have been such a lifesaver with aiding me in creating intentional steps to develop my purpose filled life. I love them and would highly recommend them to anyone who needs assistance getting their jumbled thoughts all down in one place, help truly recognizing strengths and weaknesses, and developing a goal following system that actually works. I use them and I think they are super beneficial. 

Creating a list of action steps is another great way to help you begin to feel unstuck. Once you have had the opportunity to recognize the things you feel you would be great at, the dreams you wish to start pursuing, or even the direction you are really hoping for your life to go, it's then time to create some action steps on how to achieve these. Baby steps though, Rome wasn't built in a day.

Now that you have a list, no matter how small, place it where you will see it every day so you are reminded to consistently strive in following your steps.

Now I know what some of you may be saying, "I feel stuck when it comes to a relationship, or maybe even lack there of. What possible action steps could I create for this?" And I would say that just because you may not be in a relationship yet, doesn't mean that you can't record actual steps to help prepare you for the time of being there.

If you're looking for a partner to share life with, then maybe write down the qualities you are desiring for that person, and then start living those out yourself. If you're looking for specific qualities, then that means other people are searching for those aspects as well. So start now, being the person that would make an incredible spouse for your future husband or wife. Pray for them now. And begin laying good foundation in your life that will make you one incredible spouse to someone.

So maybe your not stuck in the relationship department. Maybe you're seriously ready for a career change, or a big move across the country (or to another country), or even expanding your family. All of these things can have action plans created for them to help you move in the direction you want to go. One small little step at a time. Writing it down helps so much.

My next suggestion would be get out there and do an activity you truly love. I know for so many people, being in a season of stuck tends to lead to depression. When this hits, you need to stop for a breath and then head out into the lovely world to participate in something enjoyable and fun.

Engaging in the activities that excite us, is one of the best ways to pull yourself out of a depression. I know the hairy little green monster who tries to convince you that curling up in your pjs, on the sofa, with a netflix series (possibly a pint of ice cream) is the way to go, but I'm telling you, step back into the light my friends. He has attacked my life one too many times and nothing good comes from his little reign of terror. He's a jerk. Turn off the tube and head out into the sunshine. It'll help. I promise.

Stay positive! Words really do have power. When you consistently speak negativity over your situation or season, that season will turn negative. Keeping a positive attitude is the very best way to move forward and engage in a positive result.

Now I fully understand that this is not always easy. There are some days where it may seem that you are going to be stuck forever. You're not. Let that seep deep into your soul and really allow your heart  to know it. This is only a season and all seasons pass with time. You will get through this and doing it with a positive attitude will make it that much easier. 

And finally, we all must remember that sometimes we truly need that season of "stuck" to teach us lessons we may have been to busy to recognize otherwise. There is beauty in the stuck. Whether God is trying to teach us patience, perseverance, or simply the ability to take notice of what surrounds us in those moments, there is always much to learn from each season.

Take time to learn in your season of stuck. Soak it all in, each beautiful moment, because this may just be what leads you into an incredible season of life, health, growth, and purpose.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Awesome Summer Reading List

Reading is absolutely a favorite pastime of mine that I tend to get even more amped for during the summer. I love stories that can transport me into another world. I also truly enjoy reading books that help me to grow as a person. They make me stronger and challenge me to live a more purposeful life.

So with that I wanted to share with you some of my top reads that I plan on diving into over the next few months as I lay out under the hot summer sun. I hope this is helpful to anyone who is interested in finding some great stories to entertain them this summer.

Trim Healthy Mama ~ Pearl P. Barrett and Serene C. Allison

Hope you are able to pick some of these up and enjoy them as well. I've also been thinking about starting a virtual book club here on Enjoy this Beautiful Season, so let me know in the comments below if anyone would be interested in reading right along with me! Have an incredible weekend.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Reviewing My New Years Goals

At the beginning of 2015, I sat down and wrote a post describing small (ish) steps that I wanted to take throughout the year so that I would be able to achieve some of my top goals moving forward. Now that we are halfway through the year (holy Toledo!) I wanted to take the time to revisit these thoughts to examine just how well I was living out each step so far.

For me, it's super important not to just simply write out needed steps, but to look over that list, and be real with myself. How much of this am I actually doing? Where can I find areas of improvement? Am I truly lining myself up the best way possible to achieve the goals that are important to me?

I also think it is necessary to live life with accountability partners. People you can look to, that will help lift you up when you may be falling a little short. And what better accountability partners then my completely incredible Enjoy this Beautiful Season fam. So here is my 2015 New Year's goals revisit. 

1. Setting aside quality time, on the calendar, for dates just with my hubs. 
     * I want to say that minus the whole living abroad for a few months thing, Josh and I have been pretty good at making us time. Whether that looks like gardening dates, dinner dates, catching a Sunday night movie, or simply snuggling on the couch, we keep set quality time a standard for our marriage.

2. Accounting for the food I eat.
    *If I am being perfectly honest here (as much as it pains me to be) this has not been something that I have been doing well with at all. I fully understand the benefit it would be in my life to focus on accounting for a healthier life, but the overwhelming time consuming part gets me every time. Headed into the next 6 months, I truly hope to begin down a more consistent pathway to health.

3. Scheduling time to be physically active as well as doing activities I really enjoy. 
    *This one I feel like I have had a much better handle on. I still try my best to get to Zumba as much as I possibly can. I also absolutely love the nice warm weather and jump at the opportunity to take long walks with Josh around our neighborhood as much as possible.

4. Keeping an up to date planner.
     *I'm actually amazed but this is one I have fully stuck to so far. Crazy! I keep all of my plans, blog posts, and appointments in my nice little paper planner. And I love it!

5. Sit down with Josh and organize our incoming money and outgoing expenses.
    *This is something that we still have yet to do, although we have been getting a better handle at our finances and paying things off. Josh has been teaching me alot about interest rates and all that shabang so I feel as if I'm getting a better handle on things. But yeah, we definitely need to sit down for this one.

6. Organizing my 2015 trips!
    *Yeah this one is probably one of my favorites (can you see the travel bug all over me??) and I'm proud to say that I already had a blast in Uganda and Disney World. Three more trips planned (so far) for this year and I'm super excited for them all. Keep an eye out for the upcoming adventures. Some may even be apart of my wishlist here.

7. Scheduling dates to write out and post my Blog posts.
   *I'm actually really proud about this one, but I have managed to not only stay consistent throughout my blogging career thus far, but I've also managed to add an extra day from when I had first started. Blogging is not always easy and can be a bit time consuming but I am absolutely in love and enjoy growing in this new season of life.

8. Organizing all of my Blog ideas. 
   *Again, another thing I have been keeping up with fairly well. Each post is written out in my calendar before it comes to life on the internet and I'm thrilled that I have been keeping up with it

9. Read my Bible more. 
   *I want to say that I may be lacking in this a bit right now. I'm absolutely still reading my bible, but I don't really believe I could constitute it as "more." I believe my feelings when I wrote this was to read more than in my previous history and that is something I have not been consistent with if I am being honest. So this is definitely a step I want to devote more time to over the next 6 months.

10. Continuously run after God's will for my life. 
    *This is a goal that I am doing my best with in every aspect I feel that I can. Now let me tell you, I mess up with this constantly. Like cooooonstantly. But with each mess up, I learn from it and continue to move on by listening to that still soft voice whispering in my ear and leading me toward the best paths. And all I can say about that is, for every time I follow God's direction, beauty instantly springs to life, and it makes my life so much more worth while. 

Monday, June 8, 2015

The Introverted Extrovert

I'm sitting on my couch super antsy.

I know that there is no way I'm staying home tonight.

But I have already called my best friends and they're all busy with something to do and can't hang out with me. So I guess I'll just sit on this couch and watch another marathon of Fixer Upper.

But I've already been on my couch three other times this week and I reaaaaally wanted to go out and do something. I mean, I could always call that one girl I'm constantly "making plans" with (but have never actually set a concrete date to do so.)

She's probably busy tonight anyway.

But what if she isn't, then I'm ruining an opportunity to get to know someone new (not to mention an opportunity to get off this couch.)

But what if I don't want to get to know someone new. I mean, I do have several friends already and chatting it up with someone new could possibly just add another person to the social rotation and who really has time for that??

Oh my goodness, I'm just making excuses. Just call her!

(Completely holding breath while dialing the number.) The phone is ringing.

She picks up and of course she would love to go get some coffee with me. That's awesome!

But now what am I suppose to say when I get there??? We always say "Hi" when we see each other at church but never actually talk about many things of substance. I should have at least 10 talking points in the Notes section of my cell phone, in case there is a lull in the conversation.

Better go prep for this!

*   *   *   *   *   *   *

I can not tell you how many times I have had this exact conversation with my self over the years. And I'm even sad to say that there have been many-a-times where I have chosen that TV marathon over the possibility of connecting with another soul sister.

I feel like in life, many of my close friends would call me an outgoing, extroverted kind of gal. When I am around the people I love most I'm loud, opinionated, joyful, and carefree.

But put me around someone I hardly know in a one on one situation and I tighten up like a clam, palms sweating, can't breath sort of deal. For the longest time I never went anywhere without one of my closest friends by my side. I truly didn't know how to do it. 

This is what I would like to describe as the introverted extrovert. And I am very much aware of how that describes me down to my core.

Over the past several years I've gotten much better at it. I actually actively engage in asking new friends for some of their spare time. That doesn't mean it started to become easy or natural, it just means I pushed myself into that uncomfortable zone. 

I remember one year when I truly wanted to make that new connection, heard God pushing me to make that new connection, and it still took me over 4 solid months to send that person a little text asking them out for breakfast. It was terrifying.

But ya know what? Breakfast was awesome. We chatted for almost two hours without there ever being a lull in the conversation or the fear of awkwardness I was sure there was going to be.

I think I underestimate myself sometimes and the deep rooted confidence that God has grown in my soul since I was a child. I spend so much time worrying about the possibility for awkwardness that I consistently allow myself to pass by the incredible friendships that could bless my life or even theirs.

For me it's easy to get into a room of people and be that person who crawls into a corner so no one can see me. But this year I am challenging myself to step out in faith, boldness, and confidence, and walk up to the person that I may have passed by before or simply smiled a quick Hi to, and ask them for coffee, brunch, or even some farmer's market shopping. 

Anything to build those new relationships. 

And by doing this I am hoping that one day I will graduate from that introverted extrovert, to a full on extrovert. Hopefully. Maybe. We'll see.

Are you struggling with creating deeper relationships due to a desire to run in the other direction and hide? If so then I am challenging you as well, to step out of your comfort zone and make that heart felt connection with a new friend.

Friday, June 5, 2015

What I'm Looking Forward to This Summer

Heading to Florida to see my family and having some quiet time there.

Girls nights with my besties. I truly think there is nothing better in the world then an amazing summer night out with the ladies I love like crazy. We always have a blast.

Josh and I are headed to Italy in the fall so I'm super excited to plan all the cool places we will be going to visit and all the gorgeous sites we'll see.

Joel Osteen is coming to Philly this summer and I am thrilled to be able to see him live. And since we are in his network of churches we have been given the opportunity to serve at his event. So stinkin cool!

Spending time down the Jersey Shore. This has been a long time tradition (probably for every family in Jersey) to pack it up for the day and enjoy the sunshine, food, and fun. I can't wait!

Antiquing with my hubs. It is such a blast to check out some of the local craft and antique stores in and around our area and we always find super cute stuff while we're out.

Longwood Gardens trips. This is my absolute favorite place in the world and it's where Josh proposed as well. We are yearly members and love to spend time walking through the different garden areas.

My churches annual summer conference Invade. We always have incredible speakers that help me to grow enormously and preps me for the upcoming year.

Cheerleading to start! For those of you who don't know, I am a cheer coach and I love it. Can't wait to be back with my girls this summer.

Coffee on my front porch. Seriously nothing is better then a nice relaxing Saturday morning, coffee in hand, on the Dortch porch.

Catching up on some reading. Whether it is on the porch, at the beach, or down in Florida, summer always seems to have a few more still moments of sitting in the sun and catching up on a good book. If you're interested in what I will be reading this summer, you can check it out on the blog next week!

The opening of The Tattered Dragonfly, a gorgeous refurbished antiques store with amazing pieces that I can not wait to get my hands on!

Summer BBQs with family and friends.

The local custard spot. It is very much a tradition for those who live in my area. The place is always packed and the ice cream is delicious!

DIYing some furniture for our home. Josh and I have already purchased a bunch of fun pieces we want to refurb, like I did our night stands, and I'm super excited for us to start them.

Watching our garden grow. This has been a serious blast and I can't wait to eat all of the fresh food that will be ready mid summer.

What are some exciting things that you are looking forward to this summer?!


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

And a New Fridge to Match // Issues with Perfection & Value

So this little beauty right here is the newest member of our household (isn't she just glorious?!). 

When Josh and I purchased our house nearly two years ago (wow, how time flies), our new kitchen came with basically all stainless, and I guess bits of black, appliances throughout it. So our stove/oven combo, microwave, and dishwasher all matched beautifully. 

And then we had this little old white fridge. Kinda out of place among its peers, but still very much apart of the family. A few people made some comments when we first purchased our home, asking if we thought it was weird that the fridge didn't match. But to be honest, I was so darn excited to have our first home (and not have to purchase any appliances) that I really didn't mind in the slightest. 

I learned alot in the two short years we had that fridge. First off, Josh will be all to quick to agree with this, but I'm kind of a perfectionist. I have a hard time with things being out of place or looking any less than beautiful. This all too often leads me to create goofy life expectations or rules.

Example: No magnets or pictures on the fridge. It's tacky. 

But as I stared at my lonely little white fridge, completely unmatching from all of its mates, and as we consistently received photographic cards with family and friends decorated on them, I thought to myself, "Well one picture can't hurt that much."

Cut to almost two years later and our little white fridge being completely decorated with cards, pictures, and lots of love from the people we care so much about. And it's growing on me, this whole perfect imperfection thing. Baby steps.

But alas, our family love affair with our cute fridge has coming to a screeching halt. The cooling mechanism inside has officially decided to live no more and over the particularly hot weekend we just experienced, our fridge's temperature rose to over 70 degrees inside (and this after we had just purchased a full load of groceries). 

Josh and I weighed the pros and cons of having it fixed vs. simply purchasing a new fridge, and decided to head down the road of acquiring something new. For multiple reasons, 1) this was not the first thing to break on our little man, the ice dispenser never worked and the water took ten minutes to filter out a glass for you, and 2) I'm serious when I say it was little. Whenever we would have a family party or BBQ, we could never get a tray of anything into it because the width of the side by side fridge and freezer may it simply impossible.

So new fridge it was. And while we were headed into new fridge territory, we may as well get something that matched its siblings. 

We headed over to our local scratch and dent appliance spot and found a gorgeous stainless steel beauty to balance our kitchen perfectly. 

Now this whole "scratch and dent" phenomenon has honestly gotten me mystified. (And this is actually the second point for this post lol). We were able to get our lovely fridge for a third of its original price because of this teeny tiny little ding here on the freezer handle.

Right there. Do you see that? Yeah I almost couldn't either. 

As I really contemplated this, it started to make me a bit sad that this oh so minuscule imperfection made our brand new, perfectly working fridge, a third of its original value. 

Now let that soak in for a second.

One tiny little imperfection made something that is beautiful and impeccably functioning, seem that much less valuable to the buyers in the original store.

But remember my adorable little white fridge? He already taught me that there was beauty to be found in the perfectly imperfect. That there was still value in those imperfections. 

I know that so many times in life we can feel less valuable when we are unable to live up to the high standards this world places on us. But let me just encourage you that there is so much beauty to be found in all of our imperfections. God created us with all of those little intricacies and "worldly defects," but He sees us all as perfect and lovely despite them.

If you're like me and struggle with consistently trying to live up to perfect standards, please let me encourage you to take a look around you today at all of the perfect imperfections surrounding you and just love them anyway. It will begin to change something inside of you as you do it.

And yes, there are magnets and pictures on my new fridge as well.
Perfectly Imperfect!
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