Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Packing for the Holidays (+ Free List!)

Who else has been excited by the return of fall?! In our parts we have had some beautiful weather, just this week turning into a full November atmosphere. It's time to bring out the cozy sweaters and fuzzy blankets and extra boxes of tea. It also means Thanksgiving is just days away! Every year, we travel to my grandparents house for Thanksgiving week - and with all of the thick and warm fall clothes or excessive layering, it can be a trick in and of itself to remember everything that is needed when traveling.  This year I got an extra few days off work and I'll be here eight days - that is  a lot of sweaters to pack! So I typed up a packing list (while at work, because I didn't have time to pack until the night before and was sure I would forget something) and I thought I would share it with you all! I don't know if any of you travel over the holiday, but it is one of my absolute favorite times of the year.  In any case, you can see this seasonal packing list below, or click here to download it for yourself!

Who do you spent Thanksgiving with? 
Are there any travel essentials you have that I missed?
Does anyone else find it harder to pack for fall and winter than for summer?!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

22 - Miserable and Magical

It's happened.  I've finally started to feel older.  Has it really been a year since my last birthday? was a real thought that occurred a few weeks ago when I turned 22.  Right alongside it is the slightly panicked mental commentary screaming "What are you doing with your life?" 

What have I done? Who have I helped? What adventures have I had? How will I make a difference? Will I be remembered? Is there any part of me not being used to bring glory to God?

Now, with all of these thoughts taking up more than their fair share of demanding space in my head, I want to share Twenty-Two life lessons I learned by the time I turned Twenty-Two.  Many of these are reminders to myself of things I need to work on -  I may have acquired the head knowledge, but the actual practice thereof requires, well, practice.

1. Put God First - Life is not about us.  We were not given life to live it selfishly.  If your relationship with God is right, your relationship with everyone else will be right.  If God is not what you are living for, the rest of these are almost pointless.

2. Keep a Balance - I'm putting this one so close to the beginning, because it encompasses so much of life! At the very beginning, God gave darkness and light, water and land, work and rest. Too much or too little of one thing can wear us down.  We were designed with intelligence and purpose to live a balanced lifestyle, with the exception that all of our heart should be devoted to Jesus.

3. Cherish Family - We're young, and many of us are still blessed to have our families with us! Parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles, many people we won't have with us forever.  Cherish the time you get to spend together now.

4. Choose Friendships Wisely - I'm not here to say you should only choose perfect friends, or we would all live lonely lives.  But there are some people who fill your mind with the world, encourage your sin, or simply bring you down.  Be careful how much time is spent with these people, for it will affect you.

5. Forgive - While we're on the topic of relationships, don't forget that people make mistakes, and bad choices, and hurt you.  But it is not our job to punish them.  God is just and He will take care of that.  We are called to forgiveness.  We are not above sin.  Nor are we above forgiving ourselves.  Once repentance has taken place between us and God, he doesn't want us to stop living because we are not worthy to serve Him.  No one is, but He chose us anyway, which is the beauty of Grace.

6. Love Yourself Too - Don't take this to mean I think we should be selfish or vain or thoughtless.  Just remember that God has you here for a reason.  If He was done with your earthly life, He wouldn't leave you here.  You are made in His image for His glory exactly how He wanted.

7. Find Some Projects and Hobbies - You have interests and passions and pursuits.  Look into them! Do it now, while there is time to pursue them.  You never know what God will use as a ministry. And even if nothing seems to come of it, does it make you happy? Because that is something.

8. Have Courage - Adulthood can be scary! Sometimes it is nerve wracking to do even simple tasks that, before, you never had to do. Or at least you didn't have to do them on your own. Sometimes life gets hard, and it requires bravery just to get out of bed and face the day.

9. Be Kind - You might not always feel like it, but honestly, that doesn't give us an excuse.  It just means we have to work harder.  Using the simple but so often forgotten "Thank you" can make a world of difference.  Be helpful, compassionate, and thoughtful of others. This one is so important to me.  A show of kindness in a person is absolutely beautiful.

10. Smile Often - A smile can make a world of difference.  It can save a bad hair day, get you discounts and to the front of the line, make you feel more confident, and encourage friendships.

11. Pick Your Battles - Being a nanny for over four years has taught me this. You will wear yourself out striving for perfection in the material, and sometimes we need to lighten up a little! Life will go on if things are always done exactly how we want.  Sometimes other people have different ideas than us, and there are times when we don't need to insert our opinion.

12. Take The Adventure - We are surrounded by a beautiful world.  There is so much to see and do and learn.  If you have an opportunity, take it! Who knows what the future holds, and when or if you will get another chance.

13. Find Your Style - Who are you? What do your clothes say about you? Like it or not, people make first impressions, and what you wear will tip them off to who you are.  People obsess over stereotypes and judgement, but the truth is, we dress the way we do for a reason. How do you want to be seen? Dress for the person you want to be.

14. Be Aware of Foods - Different foods affect different people different ways.  What we eat can make a huge difference both in how we look and how we feel.  Pay attention to what you eat and how you feel; it may be worth it to cut out a few foods for your overall health.

15. Spend (and save) Wisely - Most of us simply don't have an endless supply of cash.  And now we are faced with more expenses than before.  We'll come to the point when we have to decide if we really need that next item on our wish list. But here's the thing; life is short.  If you have the money to do what is required of you, and keep some back in savings, then who's to say you shouldn't have another pair of shoes, trip to the bookstore, or whatever makes you happy.  Decide what you want - would you rather save the money something bigger, or are you content with the progress of your savings enough to splurge on the smaller item? One last thing: remember the things that will be connected to memories are worth spending more on, because we all want to look back on our life and remember the trips and vacations and dances and holidays, not how many Starbucks lattes we had in the year 2016.

16. Learn to Say NO - This goes two ways.  Firstly, there will be people and things that tempt you in the wrong direction. Whatever this may be, we have to learn to say no now, or it will only get harder in the future.  Secondly, I cannot do everything on my own. I love to help people, but sometimes it simply isn't for me to do.  We need to evaluate our time with God and listen carefully for his guidance in how to direct our schedule. Sometimes this means saying no, even to good things.

17. Be Gracious Enough to Say Yes - The above mentioned "no" doesn't give us the excuse to stop giving of ourselves.  Sometimes we are tired or busy or run down, and someone needs us.  Saying we need to take care of ourselves too shouldn't be the escape from doing what we simply don't feel like doing.  We aren't called to only help when it is easy or convenient.  Sometimes, we give up to easy, and too soon, when God has more work He wants us to do.

18. Don't Stop Learning - However you want to, keep learning! Read books, take a class on something, try a Pinterest tutorial, visit someplace new, go to a museum or theatre. Just don't stop because you've graduated.

19. Make Informed Decisions - Reading news headlines through your e-mail doesn't make you informed. There are unfortunately many deceptions out there, and we need to know what we are reading, watching, or listening to is accurate.  We need to make an effort not to simply shout our opinions at the world when we don't know what we are talking about, thereby simply shouting someone else's opinion.

20. Laugh at Yourself - There is no point getting worked up over little mistakes.  We worry so much over what people think about us.  I have had so much more relief in what I say, do and wear, when I'm not worried about criticism of other people.  If whatever I am saying, doing or wearing fits in with God's standards for my life, then I really don't have to worry about what other people think of me.

21. Don't Rush through this Stage of Life - I was the kid who couldn't wait to be a year older.  Now, I want to enjoy everything I can before I find myself unable to do so.  In spite of this, I still find myself looking for the next best thing. Marriage, children, a house, general success, to be noticed.  If I'm not careful, I will miss this too.  I don't want to spend my twenties looking for the things that will come whenever and ifever God chooses.

22. Have Fun - Sure, life is busy, but if we don't choose to take time for fun now, what makes you think life will magically get less busy on its own? Jesus came so we could have Life, and to have it ABUNDANTLY.  So live.