Falling Back – Into Finding Your Passion and Joy

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Passion and joy, two of my most favorite things! So it is no surprise that I am super excited that we will be talking about that today! Our passions drive us and give us purpose and bring us joy—yet our passions seem to be the one thing we let go, let slide or give up on. Why is that? Lack of confidence? Lack of support and mentoring? Exhaustion and time constraints? It could be a number of different things that cause us to push our passions under the rug and assume that our “every day” is more important and needs our focus. Yes, the everyday HAS to be taken care of and the world has to keep turning, but that doesn’t mean we have to completely let go of what drives us and makes our hearts soar. Our souls need us to invest in our passion, because our passions lead to our purpose—and our purpose is what propels us into God’s plan for us.

So, when we have lost that fire, that excitement or that hope to invest in our passions and what brings us joy, how do we recover that? What steps can we take to pour into ourselves in ways that fuel our fire and help us live out our calling? I’m glad you asked! This is where we learn the balance of HAVE TO’s versus NEED TO’s; know what they are, how to tell the difference and when to do which one. We all know what a HAVE TO is—yep, plainly and simply put it is something that HAS to be done, whether we like it or not. For some of us that is going to work every day. For some of us that is taking care of the kiddos. For some of us that is cooking and cleaning. Those things must be done in order to keep your household in order, pay the bills and raise your children up in the right way. They can be demanding and exhausting … but one thing they are NOT is optional. Okay, then you have the NEED TO’S—something that isn’t really imperative or necessary, but something that you feel you should take part in or want to take part in. For some of you it may be joining that Jazzercise class. For others it may be going to that concert you saw advertised that everyone is raving about. And for others it may be sitting down to do that painting project you keep seeing on Pinterest. These are the things that help you find encouragement, connection and purpose—but these things ARE actually optional.

So we spoke previously about structure and scheduling “me” time into our days. So you know all the places where you put your HAVE TO’S—now let’s focus on where and what you can put into your schedule for your NEED TO’S. Because you NEED to have those things that make your soul soar and your heart leap for joy. So whatever that may be (photography, baking, reading, taking walks, a short trip with the family, etc) now is the time to put them into your structure. In those gaps of time (sometimes VERY small, I know) learn to schedule in your NEED TO’S. Allow yourself that kindness and compassion to do things that refresh and renew you so that you have enough steam to give to others in all of your other moments. So now that we know where to put our NEED TO’S, here are some action steps to following through and making them happen, so you can get out of the habit of always putting yourself last:

  • Call that friend that has been on your heart and set up that coffee or lunch date. Not in pencil, in INK. Make it a priority and treat it with the same importance as you would a doctor or dentist appointment. Your heart (and your laugh lines) will thank you for it!
  • Allow yourself to embrace the help your neighbor, family or friend offered you in watching your kiddos so you could get a break—with NO guilt. Whether you sit at home in your pajamas and binge on the Hallmark Channel and See’s Chocolate or go to that cooking class you have been wishing you could attend, allow yourself the help and hospitality to spend that time on yourself.
  • Find a retreat or conference that really interests you and mark it on your calendar, along with a plan for saving and registering. Have a goal date to have the funds by and a plan for how you will save those funds, a goal for your registration date and booking your hotel and get the plans in place for who will help you out in your time away to care for the children or animals. Allow yourself that time to be poured into by wise speakers and authors that will invigorate your soul and set your heart on fire for Jesus again!
  • Go to your favorite store and buy yourself something (no matter how small) that pampers you. It could be a candle, lotion, a new shirt or something else you have had your eye on. You can have a plan for this to and save just $5.00 a week and at the end of the month, take yourself on a mini-spree for just a couple of things that make you feel like “you”. Something that will invite all of your senses to get lost in the moment. If the budget doesn’t allow for anything at all, give yourself the luxury to have a couple of hours to just window shop, see, touch and smell. Browse your favorite shops and make wish lists for the future when you may be able to treat yourself.

These are just a few examples of simple and inexpensive ways we can pour into our passions and joy. There are endless others and you need to focus on what most brings YOUR sense of passion and purpose alive and think internally about the things that bring you joy. Everyone’s list of what that is and how to do it or fit it in will look different—as it is supposed to. We cannot lose our passion and joy in the mundane of life. We need to keep it alive because at the core of us, God gave us those parts to make us each unique and creative individuals. If we don’t feed that or allow it to be fed, no one else will. I hope you will grab your planner, scratch pad or whatever you use and start to INK in some time for your greatest passions and joy!

Join me back here on Monday for step three in our series of falling back where we will discuss another link to this discovery process—Falling Back Into Recovering Yourself. I will see you all then, have a beautiful weekend!

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Falling Back—Into Structure

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Hey guys, I’m back as promised! Today we are going to dive into the first step in our series of Falling Back. Let’s recap on those 4 steps real quick:

❖ The falling back into structure
❖ The falling back into finding your passions and your joy
❖ The falling back into recovering yourself
❖ The falling back into focusing on the right things

So you guessed it—today we are going to be talking about falling back into structure! I know, I know … this totally doesn’t sound like a fun topic. But it CAN be! It can help us to take a little breather time that we otherwise wouldn’t allow ourselves, or don’t even notice we are neglecting. How nice does THAT sound? So, let’s get to it so we can start applying these changes right away!

Structure is important. Structure is necessary. Structure is something we all have and do, even though it may look different for each of us. If you think about it, what we do in a basic day is structure (now granted some days may look a lot better than others, but regardless, there is still structure in every single day). What we need to do is find out how to fall back into a structure that actually benefits our days—instead of draining them. Here are some tips I have for how to implement a routine that will also help you to spend time with God and bring more room to breathe throughout your 24-hour span of to-do’s:

  • Take time for yourself first thing in the morning. How we BEGIN our day is the all-telling factor on how the rest of our day will progress. I have tested this (one too many times) and know it to be absolutely true. When I spend just 10 minutes with God in the morning doing devotionals, journaling, or simply reading an article in my Bible Study Magazine I notice the difference it makes in how I speak, think, act and react. How patient I am, how appreciative I am and how positive I am—no matter what comes my way that day. For me, this means I have to change my routine to go to bed earlier so that I can get up earlier and have that alone time before anyone else in the house is awake (as a single Mom, alone time is VERY scarce)! This was not an easy task, as I am a night owl by nature and going to bed early and getting up early does NOT come naturally to me. But here is the thing, since I have been doing it, I have learned to LOVE it. I can’t wait to go to bed, because I know it is that much closer to that time where I can be alone in the quiet stillness of the dew-dropped morning, blanket and devotionals on my lap, kitty cat curled up next to me and a mug of steamy ground goodness in my hand. I have come to treasure this time and it does not feel like a sacrifice anymore to miss that late night show or to hear the alarm clock while it is still dark out. It is now a joy, and something I highly value.

  • Find a method to organize and prioritize your day ahead. For me this means a planner (okay, several planners). I am a planner junkie, y’all. It helps me organize from the second I wake up in the morning until I close my eyes at night, with dinner and relax time all in there also (yes, I have to schedule in my relax time—but it works for me)! In an average day and week, I am usually scheduled from the time I wake up to the time I go to bed, almost 7 days a week. This may sound overwhelming, but it isn’t since I plan my weeks in advance and schedule in down-time (if I did not actually put it on my calendar, I would not actually do it … and I know many of you are like that as well). Everyone’s day looks different because everyone is in a different circumstance or season. Some may be newlyweds with no children and both people working. Some may be stay-at-home parents and homeschool their children. Some (like me) may be single parents who work full-time outside the home. Some may be empty nesters who are just learning how to reinvest in themselves as a couple again now. Whatever your season of life, there is still 24 hours in each of our days and we are told by God to use them wisely. As we all know, they go so fast! So find what works for you to plan your week out in advance and schedule in “me” time for baking, reading, going for a walk or even watching a TV show. Whatever brings you peace and a little bit of calmness to your already hectic schedule. For some this may be as it is for me, a planner to write everything down as far in advance as you want. For some it may be a dry-erase board that they do the night before and change every evening. For others it may be writing it on a notepad and setting it on their end table. However it works for you, work it! Will there be changes? YES. Will there be disruptions? YES. Will each day or week go as planned? NO. But, you are taking the initiative to organize and prioritize your days as best you can so that when something does come up, you are better able to see how and where you can rearrange other things to get back on track.

  • Find your HAVE TO’s and be sure those are scheduled in. When you have some days with a little more wiggle room than others, that is when you schedule in your WANT TO’s. For example; I HAVE TO go to work every day. I am a single Mom who raises her kiddos 24/7/365 on her own physically, emotionally AND financially (it is not easy, but they are SO worth it)! So that is not negotiable or something I can move around. That goes on my calendar first. Then there are the errands, those are HAVE TO’s … I have no one else that can get my children food, that can cook and serve dinner, that can drop them off and pick them up from school or that can get them to that dentist appointment. It’s a total of one around here, M-E. So that goes on the calendar second. Then we have to have time to clean our homes, as much as we may not like it this HAS to be done (or we will end up on the next episode of Hoarders). So this gets put on the calendar third. There you go—there are your HAVE TO’s. Then you can focus on the WANT TO’s. You WANT TO read that book, bake that fun holiday goodie, join that exercise group, go see that movie with your friends or take that long bath that has sounded good for way too long. So here is your chance! Now that you already have all of your HAVE TO’s listed in your calendar, you can see the blocks of time you are able to fill in with the WANT TO’s. If you have a young one, this time will likely be when they are napping. If you are a stay-at-home parent, this will likely be when your child is at school. Or if you are like me, this time has to be at the crack of dawn in the dark before anyone wakes up, or late at night in the dark after everyone has been put to bed (you see why in tip one it was so hard for me to make that shift to go to bed earlier). If you have a schedule and circumstance like mine, it is VERY difficult to find “me” time. So you have to get creative! If I want to bake that goodie, I ask the kiddos if they want to join in. That way I am still taking care of them and available to them, but I am also doing something that I really want to do. I put on a fun movie for them so I can take that 45-minute bath that I want. I get up early so I can do that reading that my soul needs. I bring the kiddos with me to that movie I want to see—quality time with them while still doing something I want for me. Bottom line, where there is a will, there is a way! Your way will look different than mine, but all that matters is that it works for you!

Well, there you have it … a few tips on what can help you to fall back into structure in a way that allows for the HAVE TO’s to get done, the WANT TO’s to find their place into your schedule and for you to be able to organize and prioritize your days in a way that should bring a little more calmness to the chaos. God gives us all the same amount of time in a day, and He also gives us the free will to choose how we use it. It may not always be fun to give up the WANT TO’s in order to go to bed early, do another HAVE TO or take that time to write in your planner and schedule your meals. But I will tell you this, it will be worth it. In time, you may even find that you enjoy the planning and prepping for your week ahead because you know the relief and breathing room it will bring. I hope you are able to find what works for you, or even tweak some of these tips in a way that better suits your life and season. I would love to hear your insight on your current routine or changes you plan to make to fall back into structure. Feel free to leave a comment so we can all be blessed by your insight!

On Friday we will meet right back here as we move onto the second step in this series of falling back—which will be Falling Back Into Finding Your Passions and Your Joy. I am super excited for this one, and cannot wait to see y’all back here then. Have a beautiful start to your week!

Sign-Ups For “Looking For Lovely” Online Study Start Today!!!

We would love it if you would join us for our next study, Looking For Lovely, that begins the week of October 16th. This study lasts 7-weeks and will end the week of November 27th. We meet in our Facebook group once per week for discussion. Use the form below to sign up and come on this journey with us!

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Happy Fall, Y’All !!!!

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Happy Fall, Y’all !!!!

It’s the first day of a new season, and just as the seasons of weather change, so do the seasons in our life. They are not always beautiful seasons, but they all have a purpose and are designed for us to grow, learn and flourish. When you see a new season approach, take time to reevaluate your own season of life and what may need to change or improve. I am entering a new season myself, the season of falling back.

Most people think falling back is something they DON’T want to do because they think of it as a negative thing and as something that is showing lack of progress. Over the course of the next two weeks, we will be focusing on a series of four areas of our lives that may need a deeper “heart and head” examination. I will be sharing two articles a week as we work through these areas of daily life that seem to bog us down, get out of hand or just make us utterly exhausted. But what I want to do today is just touch on these ways of falling back that are beneficial and necessary before we dive into the series:

 
❖ The falling back into structure
❖ The falling back into finding your passions and your joy
❖ The falling back into recovering yourself
❖ The falling back into focusing on the right things

Let’s expand on each of these for a minute and look at them a little deeper.

 
Falling Back Into Structure—Often times we operate on auto-pilot. We do the same things, same routine and have the same focus day after day. It becomes just what we do and how we survive. Things need to be done and we have responsibilities—that is true for everyone. But we often lose structure as we are enveloped in busyness. We need to prioritize and organize our days, weeks and months in order to not feel overwhelmed or over-extended. Know what HAS to be done vs. what we WANT to get done. Sometimes what HAS to get done is all you need to do, and the rest can wait (trust me…it will still be there for you tomorrow). We have to balance our lives around work, family and obligations in a way that allows us to not over-extend ourselves (in my first article of this series, I will be focusing on some tips of how you can manage this)!

Falling Back Into Finding Your Passion and Joy—One thing we seem to be quick to set aside is time to ourselves and the things that pour into “me” time. We have good intentions and talk about the things we love to do, but we stop making the time and effort of engage in some of the things that can help make our lives a little less chaotic and exhausting. We go here, do this and take care of that. But we are missing the “in-between”. Those moments where you stop the HAVE-TO’S and embrace the NEED TO’S (notice how this ties into the first area of falling back—need vs. want). It is important, even in the midst of your busiest and hardest seasons, to hold tight to the things that bring you joy, comfort and peace. It may be a simple bath at night, an hour locked in a room reading, a coffee date with a friend, etc. They don’t have to be big things but things that help you pour into and invest in yourself (in my second article of this series, I will be giving some ideas of what you can do to pour into yourself and how to find time in your schedule for them)!

Falling Back into Recovering Yourself—You may be a mother, father, teacher, homemaker, elder, sister, wife, husband or mentor. Some of us are multiple things on that list—but really, that is not WHO we are. Those are roles we carry, titles we have and parts that we play in life. WHO we are consists of what drives our heart and our head. True, being a mother or teacher can drive us, but it essentially is not WHO we are. In order to discover who we are we need to have a sense of self, a sense of what we love that makes us “us” and a basic bullet list of goals and purposes. We need do find out what makes us feel whole (ultimately this is Jesus, but he has created us to have purpose and passion for things and blessed us with things on this earth that bring us happiness (notice how this ties into the second area of falling back—passion and joy).Our simple answer is “our family, our children, etc. But we need to dig deeper to discover the core of who we are designed to be and what things are in those deepest pockets of our hearts that make us who no one else can be and help us fulfill a role on this planet that no one else can yourself (in my third article of this series, I will be sharing some Scriptures and insight into what steps we can take to help in the area of self-discovery)!

Falling Back Into Focusing On The Right Things—Right and wrong is something that is hard to discern and comes with a very blurry line in this world and society sometimes. What is right to one person is not right to another. In this part of the series we are not talking about moral right and wrong (the one thing that should be engrained in most of us), but instead the right and wrong for your OWN life and calling. The things God has called you to do; not your neighbor, not your friend, not that other lady in the church that seems to do it all and have it all. But YOU. What is right for YOU? It will look different for everyone, and it will change given the season of life you are in. God does not intend for you to stay on one specific path for your entire life. He will bring twists, turns and detours in order to enrich your life in ways that you otherwise would not have found on your own. But the end goal is for you to be YOU and to live the life that was hand-picked and purposed for your walk on this earth. (notice how this ties into the third area of falling back—rediscovering yourself). So how do we know what is right, and how do we know what is right for US when some days we can barely manage to make it through the day without losing our cool or giving up? Jesus tells us how, and he shows us—and the way he speaks to us is different and unique so that the message we receive is always right for OUR needs (in my fourth article of this series, I will be sharing activities and words from Jesus that help us to be able to recognize what he is saying to us and what he intends for us to do with what he is telling us)!

I am so excited to embark on this journey of falling back with you all—in this perfect season of fresh starts and new beginnings. I hope you all will be a part of this series and invest in yourselves as we follow what Our Savior and Perfect Counselor shows us in this season of each of our lives. I will be back with you here on Monday with the first article in the series! Have a beautiful first day of Fall, sweet friends, and hold tight to Jesus! See you soon!