Increase

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Towards the end of last year, God gave me the word “Increase” as my word for the year 2018.  I didn’t know exactly what this would mean for me or for our family, but I went with it and looked up the definition to gain more clarity.

increase – (verb) become or make greater in size, amount, intensity, or degree; add to, make larger, make bigger
synonyms…. grow, get bigger, get larger, enlarge, expand, swell; rise, climb, escalate, soar, surge, rocket, intensify, strengthen, extend, heighten, stretch, spread, widen, multiply

increase – (noun) an instance of growing or making greater
synonyms… growth, rise, enlargement, expansion, extension, multiplication, elevation, inflation; intensification, amplification, surge

So after reading the definitions of the word and the synonyms, I absolutely wanted this to be my word. I was reminded of the Prayer of Jabez, “Oh that You would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from hard times so that I will be free from pain.”
1 Chronicles 4:10

Jabez wanted to succeed and increase his sphere of influence for God. What is important here is that when we want to reach for goals and accomplishments that we have God on our side. Proverbs 16:3 says, “Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.” This has been my prayer this year, that I would increase in my trust and faith in what God has for us, and my plans and thoughts would be established that are aligned with His will for us.

This is April, and I’ve already seen so much Increase in my life for 2018. After losing our baby in December of last year, our response has been worship and trust. We didn’t understand. It wasn’t our choice, but we accepted what God had us go through.

The most beautiful moment for me was worshipping with my husband in the car the evening of my surgery as we traveled to visit with family. The fact that we chose to worship together, amidst one of the biggest struggles we’ve ever faced was an incredible thing for us. I can’t say that I would have always chosen that response, but I just knew that God had greater plans still. I was thankful that He’d brought me far enough along in my Christian walk that I could just fall into his arms and let Him hold us there.

Since then, I believe that we’ve leaned in all the more closer to Him this year to see just what He has in store for us. He’s led us to make some tough decisions, and we don’t know what all they will lead to, but we are trusting Him fully, knowing that He has great things in store for us always, better than we could ever imagine. He has never let us down, and He won’t start now.

One of the songs that we sang together in the car on that ride was Captain by Hillsong United. Music always speaks to me, and since that day, it’s been one that I’ve played most often.

“Through waters uncharted my soul will embark
I’ll follow Your voice straight into the dark
And if from the course You intend I depart
Speak to the sails of my wandering heart”

“Like the wind You’ll guide
Clear the skies before me
And I’ll glide this open sea
Like the stars, Your Word
Will align my voyage
And remind me where I’ve been
And where I am going”

“Lost in the shallows amidst fear and fog
Your truth is the compass
That points me back north

Jesus, my Captain
My soul’s trusted Lord
All my allegiance is rightfully Yours”

“Jesus, my Captain
My soul’s trusted Lord
All my allegiance is rightfully Yours”

This year I have seen Increase in my trust and my faith in the Lord. I have grown. My faith has intensified, strengthened, and it’s a good year.

The Lord has remembered us; he will bless us; he will bless those who fear the Lord, both the small and the great. May the Lord give you increase, you and your children! May you be blessed by the Lord, who made the heaven and earth! Psalm 115:12-15

After our miscarriage, we weren’t emotionally ready to get pregnant again. I needed some time to heal there. Then, God spoke to us, we put our house up for sale, and lots of things are now up in the air for us. It feels like we are following God’s voice straight into the dark, like the song says, because of all of the unknowns we are facing this year and decisions we’ve made. Into the dark, maybe, but still fully trusting. I began to start thinking about our family again a few months ago, and I just began to pray about it and bring those thoughts to the Lord. I didn’t think I was ready to have a baby, and with all of the unknowns we were facing, it didn’t seem like a very wise decision to make. I just voiced my prayers and asked that God would align my heart with his will for us in this area, and that He would do the same for Justin. And with that, He did. We didn’t know it at the time, but God already had plans for us to Increase our family as well this year. We are expecting baby #4 in December.

After our miscarriage last year, we decided to keep this pregnancy a secret until we had a healthy ultrasound. I had full faith that this was going to be a healthy pregnancy, but I guess we just proceeded with caution to make it a little easier for us, emotionally. Today, was that day. My ultrasound tech measured me about a week ahead of what we calculated, and I saw our baby on that screen today. I can’t tell you that relief that I felt just by seeing something in that gestational sac, where last year I saw nothing. And then to see movement, and know that there is a life there, with a healthy heart rate of 166, it’s our baby! We are blessed, and I am so filled with joy today.

I couldn’t help but cry tears of joy on my way home today, as I, again worshipped, and thanked God for this blessing. I guess it’s a trend that I always cry on that drive home from Lucedale, Before it was tears of fear and sadness, but today it was joy and gladness.

We planned three, but we couldn’t see… God’s plan was four, so we’re having one more!

“Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from Him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.”
Psalm 127:3-5

 

My Purposeful Planning: Goal-Setting Worksheet

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Now that we have completed our series on My Purposeful Planning, I’d like to give you a helpful resource for you to use in your goal-setting. It’s a Free Printable Worksheet I’ve created for you!

Note: To make this printable fit perfectly in your classic-sized Happy Planner, print it at 80%.

Click the image below to get your Goal-Setting Worksheet!

 

My Purposeful Planning: Health & Fitness Goals

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We are in a series called My Purposeful Planning where we explore different areas for setting goals and planning to be purposeful and intentional in our lives.

We’ve already explored Spiritual Goals , Personal Goals,  Family Goals , Marriage Goals, and Financial Goals so you can read those in case you missed them.

Today we are discussing Health & Fitness Goals. To me, health goals are a big part of self-care and wellness. If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of others, at least not as well as you could be. I’ve learned that I am able to serve and love much better when I prioritize “me time”, whether that’s time to myself to read or write or even time to work out. I feel better, I have more energy, and I can give my family time and energy that they need and deserve. It comes from the overflow of me taking care of myself first. So it’s very important.

I will be sharing my own Health & Fitness Goals at the end of this post, but I’d like you to think about and make your own. Here are some ideas for you…

Health & Fitness Goal Ideas: 

My Current Health & Fitness Goals:
My goals in this area have shifted completely. Last year when I began to feel insecure and want to lose weight, my one goal was to look better and feel better about myself. I lost the weight, felt better about myself, started CrossFit, and began to love fitness. Then, I got pregnant and had to take some time off with some complications I was having in my pregnancy. I had a miscarriage, and after I allowed myself time to heal, I jumped back into CrossFit with the new year. Since starting back, I think I’ve found a better outlook on CrossFit. Before, I was comparing myself – my looks and my abilities to others, and finding that I couldn’t compete. It was an unhealthy view because there will always be someone that is stronger or can do more than you. There will always be someone that learns the skills faster than you do, and life just isn’t always fair. I’ve learned to just “get a good workout in”, as Justin says. No matter how I feel about a workout or view my own abilities, I’m just doing the best I can with what I have. I want to be a fit mom who can be active and keep up with her little ones and enjoy them to the fullest. So that’s what I’m doing… No more stress if I miss a class or stress if I don’t do as well as I think I should. It’s really not about that.

With that comes my view of food, which I’m honestly still working on. I feel like my view of food is still an unhealthy one – as I view foods as “good” or “bad”. I crave the “bad” ones but still feel guilty when I eat them. I made so much progress in this area last year, and I have made a little progress this year as well in eliminating flavored waters and cleaning up my morning coffee, but with that I’ve also had lots and lots of cravings. I’ve had a lot of stress the past few months, and it has definitely affected me. So my goal in this would be to start again, do my best, and not give up.

I’ve got some ideas of some things I’d like to try, especially for the sake of my children. I’ve heard that there are certain foods that really affect behaviors, and I’d like to see if that proves to be true for us as well. So I might be doing my own study in this area soon, by doing things like removing foods with dyes in them and seeing how my children respond. I have one child that has meltdowns on a regular basis, and I’m willing to do whatever it takes to help him. Of course that means the rest of us will probably go along with it as well to make things easier. We’ll see!

My Purposeful Planning: Financial Goals

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We are in a series called My Purposeful Planning where we explore different areas for setting goals and planning to be purposeful and intentional in our lives.

We’ve already explored Spiritual Goals and Personal Goals, Family Goals, and Marriage Goals, so you can read those in case you missed them. Today we are discussing Financial Goals.

Before I get into the list of ideas for Financial Goals, I’d like to share with you some Financial Absolute Notes I took from a fellow blogger and business-owner, Lisa Rippy.

Wealth is having something compared to nothing. In this case, we are all wealthy. This is something that society has definitely tried to change.

What is it that you need? Write it down, and ask God for it. God possesses every single copper penny to meet your needs.

Key Points: Work, Save, & Plan.

We can absolutely trust the Lord in all matters concerning money.

It is a privilege to care for what God has gifted us.
Will we absolutely empty our heart to Jesus in the concerns of money and possessions?
What will our trust look like?

We can absolutely care and take responsibility of the money God gives.

God gives the power, ability, opportunity, and talent to make money (Proverbs 12:11).

You work, you have. You don’t work, you have consequences. (There are so many scriptures on this.)
We are co-workers in God’s field (1 Corinthians 3:9).
Give yourselves fully to the work (1 Corinthians 15:58).
God works in you to fulfill His purpose (Philippians 2:13).
Work unto the Lord, and you will have all your needs met.

The tendency is overspending… impulsive spending & materialistic spending. The signs of materialistic spending are Anxiety, Covetousness, Selfishness, Preoccupation with Money, Greediness, Flattery, and Idolatry. Materialism is not what you have, it’s how you think. Materialistic actions are a result of materialistic attitudes.

Do I really need it?
Is God testing my trust?
Have I misused what He’s already given me?
Have I violated a biblical principle?
(Stinginess, Hastiness, Stubbornness, Laziness, Indulgence, or Craftiness)

We do the planning. We are wise when we do. We have to have priorities. Planning requires discipline. God requires and rewards discipline.

Write down the priorities that require money... not just the needs, but the things that are priority to you that require money. Ask the Spirit to surface these priorities in your heart.

God has a plan, and we want to get in on His plan. God has a plan for growing wealth, making money, and when we follow through with His plan, we are living as a kingdom resident.


I will be sharing my own Financial Goals at the end of this post, but I’d like you to think about and make your own. Here are some ideas for you…

Financial Goal Ideas: 

  • Begin to tithe 10% of your income if this isn’t already something you do.
  • Pray about increasing the percentage of your current tithe.
  • Make a budget, and stick to it.
  • Avoid using credit cards.
  • Stop impulsive spending. (Pray first, and ask God his decision concerning your spending.)
  • Save up $1,000 for an Emergency Fund.
  • Pay off as much of your debts as possible, starting with the smallest one.
  • Save 3-18 months Living Expenses.
  • Live on half your income. If you’re a two-income family, see if you can downsize and only live off of one of them. If you’re a one income-family, see if there’s a way for you to live off half of that.
  • If there’s something big you’d like to purchase, first pray about it. Then, save up to pay cash for it. (I have countless stories of things God has provided for us that we’ve needed just by answering our simple prayer requests. He can do the same for you.) Save up cash to buy it instead of financing them. Instead of making monthly payments after you sign the dotted line and make the purchase, imagine that you are making payments as you save to buy it instead. Thinking this way and doing this, will keep you from getting into more debt. (We’ve actually done this with both of the vehicles we own, and we’ve never had a car note in the almost 8 years we’ve been married. Our cars are nothing fancy or anything to brag about, but the fact that we’ve never had to make payments on them is.)

My Current Financial Goals:
Our family is mostly debt-free, except for our current mortgage and our student loans. We’ve made the decision to sell our home in order to get ahead in our finances and begin to reach some of our financial goals. We have family that is graciously allowing us to live in their house as we save up money for a while. We would love to be able to pay off our student loans and begin to save cash for our next home. We also really need to build up our savings for things that could come up such as needing a new vehicle at some point or paying for something else that we might need. It’s just smart and wise to have a savings of several month’s of living expenses, in case something ever comes up. Studies have shown that most Americans are only one emergency away from financial ruin, and we just don’t want that to be us. We want to be “more than just making it” and be able to use our money as more of a resource to help us do other things in life that we want to do.

My Purposeful Planning: Marriage Goals

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We are in a series called My Purposeful Planning where we explore different areas for setting goals and planning to be purposeful and intentional in our lives.

We’ve already explored Spiritual Goals and Personal Goals, and Family Goals so you can read those in case you missed them. Today we are discussing Marriage Goals.

I will be sharing my own Marriage Goals at the end of this post, but I’d like you to think about and make your own. Here are some ideas for you…

Marriage Goal Ideas: 

  • Pray for your spouse. Pray for his relationship with God, your marriage, his roles, him as a parent, and anything he may be struggling with or temptations he may face.
  • Love & Respect your spouse. Treat him the way that you would want to be treated. Don’t stop sending sweet texts, doing nice things, fixing his favorite meals, or just spending time with him doing things he likes.
  • Plan monthly or even weekly date nights in advance, and put them on your calendar. (Make room for these in your budget also.)
  • Plan a weekend getaway or to attend a Marriage Conference.
  • Plan time to talk daily and have intentional, serious talks weekly. Work on communication.
  • Study the love language of your spouse and be purposeful in each day about filling their “love tank”.
  • Pursue your spouse like you did when you were dating. Listen to them talk about what interests them, and engage in the conversation (even if it’s not your thing). If they don’t talk about their interests with you, it could be a red flag that you haven’t been a good listener in the past. It’s not too late. Start now, and ask them about it.
  • Plan to be intimate. It’s important, so if it’s not already happening spontaneously, it’s okay to plan for it. (I recommend the Ultimate Intimacy App for tips, tricks, and resources for emotional and physical intimacy. I love that it’s created especially for Christian, married couples so it’s entirely appropriate.)

My Current Marriage Goals: 
We’re in a season of life where we don’t have much time… which means we have to work that much harder to make our marriage a priority. I can easily see how couples could mess this up, and the enemy could come in and do some damage. When you are strained for time or strained for money, it makes things really difficult. Right now, for us, it’s time. We’re making it financially, but we are lacking in the time aspect. And it’s hard. I’m not even gonna lie and say it isn’t.

So here’s how we manage… I may or may not see Justin before he leaves for work around 4:30 am. That’s my wake-up time so sometimes I see him, but not always. Some mornings we go to the gym and catch glimpses of him there while he is busy working,  or else we won’t see him until about 2pm. He’s home with us for about an hour and a half before he goes back to work, and he has to divide that time between 4 people all craving his attention. This is the time that I communicate with him anything that we need to talk about. I don’t know if I should admit this or not, but I actually keep a running list of “meeting notes” in my phone so that I won’t forget to talk about them with him when he’s home and available. He’s with clients and coaching CrossFit classes all day, so he usually can’t text me back during the day.

One of our marriage goals this year was to attend our church’s Marriage Conference, and have a weekend getaway for just to two of us. We attended the XO Marriage Conference in February, and I’m thinking we should still plan a getaway at some point. This semester we are also participating in a marriage small group called Love and Respect. Some of the busyness in our current season is coming to an end so we can now start planning our next date night, and in a few weeks we will celebrate our 8th anniversary!

My Purposeful Planning: Family Goals

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We are in a series called My Purposeful Planning where we explore different areas for setting goals and planning to be purposeful and intentional in our lives. We’ve already explored Spiritual Goals and Personal Goals so you can read those if you missed them.

Today we are discussing Family Goals. Family Goals are those that are directly related to being intentional and purposeful with your family and children. I know that many moms have these ideals ingrained in them for how we want to be as parents and how we want to raise our children. But sometimes our ideals may be very different from what we’re actually doing. It’s easy to say that we want to be life-giving and encouraging to our children, but are we really doing that?  What about when your child acts out impulsively or has an emotional outburst (which they often tend to do)… do you then turn around an have an emotional outburst of your own? Or are you able to be objective, respond in love, and get to the heart of the matter for why your child may be acting out in the way that they are? It’s true that we are often harshest with those we are the most comfortable with, but we cannot let this be an excuse to crush the spirits of our children. I’m speaking to myself here too, because it is a hard, hard thing to learn and to implement. And then every child is different, so there’s also that to think about and consider. Parenting is not easy.

We do need to be students of our children and learn more about them so that we can understand them. We need to see them as the God that created them sees them. Learn their personality types, and see the potential in them. Remember that we are not just raising children – we are raising future adults. Despite what we may say sometimes about wanting this to last forever (am I the only one?), we don’t want them to stay immature children forever. We want them to grow and learn and mature, and we have a vital role in helping them do that.

How can we nurture our children in their unique, God-given personalities and encourage them in God’s specific plans for their lives? We reed to realize how important our job as a parent is. While we won’t be perfect (none of us are), we can still  plant the seed in our children – the seed of faith, teaching them who God is and who He made them to be. There are things we can do to water and fertilize it as we watch them learn and grow into the beautiful creations that God made them. We have to be intentional and do our best to plant these seeds in them and watch it grow and Everything we teach them now will develop them into the adults that they will one day be. We must also be careful not to squash the spirits and personalities of the perfectly designed children God gave us (Have you seen the movie Inside Out?), no matter how much they frustrate us.  
 
Family Goals Ideas: 

  • Be positive. Always. To and about your children. Don’t call them bad. Don’t nag them for how terrible they did on their math test. Don’t embarrass them by yelling about how they missed the catch that was thrown to them on the field. 
  • Pray over your children, not just for them. They need to hear you talk to God about them. This is your opportunity to model prayer for them and to teach them how to take any joys or concerns they might have to God.
  • Establish a family devotional or Bible study time with your kids. Read a Bible story and discuss what it means and how it applies to their lives.
  • Practice grace-based discipline. We should never embarrass them by disciplining them in public or to be so harsh with them that they are scared of us. The goal is to help them learn from their misbehavior and disobedience by discussing it with them. Talk about why it was wrong and what they could do differently next time. Yes, sometimes discipline will include a consequence, but maybe not always. We do need to always let them know that we love them, and end discipline on a positive note.  
  • Learn your child’s personality type. Understanding them better will help you parent them better on so many levels. 
  • Learn your child’s love language. While all children need love from all of the love languages, they usually have one that they have a preference to the most in which they receive love best.  
  • Plan family fun activities to build those life memories with them.
  • Plan one-on-one dates with your children to hang out with them and let them know how special they are to you.
  • Embrace celebrations with your kids and your family – whether it’s for good grades or a good game or just for handling a tough situation at school in the right way. Celebrate the good, and praise the positive.

My Current Family Goals:

I’m studying the personality types of my children, and this is something that has helped me tremendously. I used to have trouble with understanding my oldest, who is the complete opposite of me. I just didn’t get why he wanted to talk the heads off of strangers and why he was always so bored if we stayed home day after day. I’ve learned to appreciate this about him, because he helps me to talk to people I would have never been brave enough on my own to approach.

My second son’s personality is very similar to mine. I’m trying to notice the ways that we are similar and think about how things would make me feel so I can better understand the way he feels at times. For example, one day he acted out at school, and as I was talking to him about it, he told me that he did so because a friend had colored on his paper. I realized that this would have upset me too if it were me. I would have wanted a new page and to start over. So I gave him grace and understanding, but then I also gave him ways that he could have better handled the situation, such as telling his teacher the reason for his frustration, and then she could have helped him to have better self-control in the moment of frustration.

It’s not always easy for me though. Sometimes I can’t easily understand why he’s getting upset, or why he acts out so harshly to somethings so minor and small. I don’t have all the answers, and I think that sometimes parenting gives us challenges that we don’t understand. It’s why I pray about these challenges often and ask God to give me wisdom for how to handle it. I pray about it with him too. I look for the positive things that I can praise so that life isn’t always a lesson to be learned.  I don’t want him to see himself in a negative aspect, because this is the way God made him, and He made him this way for a reason. I thank God often for this child, for his personality, and that He gave him to me to be his mama!

I’m also really glad that I’m able to stay at home with my kids and homeschool them. While this provides an extra challenge for my oldest, who wants to be around people, it’s going to be much needed for my second son when it’s time for him to start school. I feel like he faces more challenges than most kids his age do, and I’m researching and learning ways that I can help him. I can homeschool him and teach him in ways that are great for his personality type and his learning style – it’s not me trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.

In our homeschool and in life in general, I really try to focus on things that really matter – shaping them into awesome adults one day. We study Apologetics, to give them a Biblical worldview and show them why we believe what we believe. We learn catechisms about who God is and our our purpose in life. Another thing we do is with our boys is “Knight Training” which teaches them the lost art of Chivalry. This shows them how to be men – how to live a life of honor and integrity.

My Purposeful Planning: Personal Goals

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We are in a series called My Purposeful Planning where we explore different areas for setting goals and planning to be purposeful and intentional in our lives.

We’ve already explored Spiritual Goals, so you can read that if you missed it. Today we are discussing Personal Goals. A personal goal would just be something that you’ve set out to work on and achieve yourself. It might be something that could really fit into a number of categories, or it could just be one of those goals that doesn’t really fit into a particular category. I think of it as those goals that are helping you to grow as a person – whether it’s by pursuing your own self-care by doing the things you love, or by resolving to just be a life-learner of things and never stop growing and learning. It’s that growth mindset that we’ve talked about before. It may be all of the information we take in and the consistent application of that information that will ultimately bring the transformation in our lives. Whatever it may be, I encourage you to set a personal goal and work on it.

Personal Goal Ideas:
-Read more. (Set a specific goal for how many books you’d like to read per year, chapters per day, etc.)
-Listen to podcasts.  (Make a list, and start to tackle it while you fold laundry, clean up the kitchen, or on your daily commute.)
-Learn more about gardening (or whatever topic interests you).
-Make something new every month (a sewing creation, scrapbook page, new recipe, etc.).
-Run a marathon. (Create a plan of action for your training to be ready to achieve this big goal.)

My Current Personal Goals:
My goal right now is to read 12+ books this year. At this point, I’ve already read two and listened to one audio book (which I’m counting still!). I’m working through two or three others also. One of them is an assigned reading from a class I’m taking, and the other two are ones I’ve chosen. I recently heard an idea while listening to a podcast about having a set time to read each day.  In this podcast episode, it was suggested to have a “Book Basket” of sorts, even for us as adults, so that in that reading time we can choose the book that best suits our current mood. This idea seem genius to me, and ensures that I’ll make progress in my reading, no matter what kind of mood I’m in.

So what will be your personal goal?! Write it down, and tell someone. Studies show that those who write down their goals are 42% more likely to be successful in actually achieving them. If you haven’t read my posts on two great methods for goal-setting, you can find them here and here.