Browsing Category: Intentional Living

31 Verses to Write on Your Heart {a Review}

31 Verse to Write on Your Heart

How often have you said that you really need to start memorizing scripture, because you know that your heart needs the truth burned into it? I have, a lot. I have a few verses that I have memorized, but I’m by no means vast in my knowledge. I can barely remember which books go where in the bible. It’s horrible.31 Verse to Write on Your Heart

The problem for me is that I have no idea where even to begin or with what, so I get easily overwhelmed and do nothing….always the worst choice possible. When I was perusing the books available for review from WaterBrook Multnomah I stumbled upon Liz Curtis Higgs new book “31 verses to Write on Your Heart” and figure, that might just be a great place to start!

There are 31 chapters in the book, each with a verse to memorize and a helpful tip on how to make memorization a bit easier. She goes on to dissect each verse, clarifying its meaning and giving you little tid-bits about it. The best part is that each of these chapters will literally take you just a few minutes to go through, but obviously memorizing it will take a bit longer.

This is such a great place to start at memorizing more scripture, and isn’t starting half the battle.

* I received this book for free through WaterBrook Multnomah’s Blogging for Books program. My opinions are my own. You can read my disclosure policy here.

A Lenten Dare: Finding God’s Gifts in the Everyday

A Lenten Dare Finding God's Gifts in the Everyday

We’re so often concerned with the self denial aspect of Lent, that we completely forget about what the purpose of that self denial is: To draw us closer to God. What if there was a way to draw us closer to God, without our feeling resentful that we’re missing out on caffeine and chocolate? There is.

Intentionally seeking and finding God’s gifts in the everyday.

A Lenten Dare Finding God's Gifts in the EverydaySix years ago, I read Ann Voskamp’s One Thousands Gifts. During the reading of it I had decided to take up Ann’s challenge of counting the gifts that I received from my heavenly father. The timing perfectly coinciding with the beginning of Lent. What if, rather than giving something up for Lent, I took something on. Did something that ACTUALLY drew me closer to God, rather than filled me with resentment.

Every day I challenged myself to find 25 things that were gifts from God. Sometimes they were big huge things. Sometimes they were just little mundane things (more me grasping for filling 25 spaces). All were gifts. At the end of Lent I had a list of 1000 gifts.

“Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves
and take up their cross daily and follow me.”

Luke 9:23

We focus so hard on the denying ourselves part that we completely ignore the later: FOLLOW ME.

All the self denial in the world amounts to nothing, if we don’t follow Him.

That dare took me on a journey: A journey of seeking and seeing God and His gifts to me, in the everyday. I got more out of Lent that year than I ever did before. In the taking of time was the giving from God, showing me just how abundantly He has blessed me.

There were days when it was easy to think of 25 gifts (both good and bad days). There were days when I struggled to think of 5 gifts, praying for God to open my eyes to what I knew was staring me in the face. On those days He knew I was desperate for His presence. That I needed to see His gifts and feel His love; and He was faithful, always revealing His heart for me. I truly believe that if you open your eyes to His gifts you will see them. They are all there, just waiting: Seek and ye shall find!

Our brains have an incredible way of rewiring themselves. The more we seek, the more we will find. We can move from being people who “know” that we are blessed, to people who know just HOW we are blessed. How much greater can our faith be in a loving and caring God, when we are wholly aware of His presence in our lives?! When we’ve trained our minds to seek His gifts not just when everything is “coming up roses”, but also when things aren’t going according to our plan?

This dare is not meant to create a list of favorites or special moments. But to be a conscious recognition of all the ways in which God bestows His gifts during and through ALL circumstances: Reminding us of His constant goodness, grace, and generosity. It’s meant to really make us think, to make us aware of the world around us, to make us aware of God’s His presence and His love.

This Lent I dare you.

Can you find 25 gifts each day of Lent? Or even just 5? Ask the Lord to open your eyes and heart to His goodness. You can following along on Instagram with me as I share my discoveries this Lent (@JessicaM.White)

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh
down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”
James 1:17

How I Afford My Very Expensive Habit

How I afford my very expensive book habit without spending a penny

I have to confess something: I have a potentially VERY expensive habit. I’ve tried to kick it, I’ve tried just being OK with it, but it’s not going anywhere. Now, I just need to deal with it, because nothing seems to be able to put this thing behind me. I love…LOVE….LOVE books. I can’t NOT read them or buy them. The newest Christian non-fiction? Gotta have it. That highly recommended children’s book? It’s in my amazon cart before we finish talking. That book from the library that I really liked? Bought it already. It’s bad.

How I afford my very expensive book habit without spending a penny

I’m scared to figure out just how much I actually spend a year on books (outside of school books) because, quite frankly, the number would probably kill my husband. Fortunately, I haven’t figured out how to itemize my Amazon order history to do this.

But there is HOPE!

This is how I afford my very expensive book habit.

I’ve come up with somewhat of a solution that seems to be helping, at least a bit. Here it is: DON’T PAY FOR THEM! That’s it, very simple. Now, before you freak out that I’m suggesting that you steal books (whether it’s socially acceptable or not, I can assure you it is still illegal). There are several ways to get your books for free; these are the two methods I use.

Method 1: Review Them

This method used to be available only to bloggers, but in recent years, since social media has overwhelmed the blog and e-readers have become so popular, many publishers and authors have opened their reviews to anyone. Some do require that you have a certain sized following or a website on which to post your reviews, some don’t. I’ve had a lot of luck with getting really fantastic books simply by reading and writing a review.

I’ve worked with the following:

 

Method 2: Buy Them

I know I said that I’ve managed to not have to pay for most of my books. This is true. But there are ways to buy books, without having to foot the bill yourself.

Introducing….cash back bonuses!

Chances are your credit card has a cash back bonus option. Find out and use what you earn for book purchases. I have an Amazon Prime visa, which means I get 5% cash back on every purchase I make on Amazon, and 1-3% on purchases made elsewhere. Being that I rely pretty heavily on Amazon and my Subscribe and Save (we do live almost an hour away from any chain stores), that’s a hefty chunk of change every month. Sometimes I do have to force my self to wait a month or two to make a purchase, but that’s really OK.

Look into Click-Thru Cash Back Websites.How I afford my very expensive book habit

I’ve had a ton of luck with click thru websites! There are several out there, but the ones I’ve had the most luck with are the following (these are my referral links):

  • Ebates.com – I’ve earned $344.77 since I’ve had an account with them a couple of years ago (I use this for almost ALL of my online purchases)
  • Ibotta (smartphone App) – $31.65 since November 2016 (I use this for any of my purchases on iTunes and more specifically for grocery shopping)
  • SwagBucks – Another really well known one…I haven’t focused too much energy on them though
  • TopCashback – Just found out about them, but all the reviews say they’re fantastic, better than Ebates

My recommendation on this method is pick one that works great for you and stick with it. Yes, you could go through all of them, but you’re more likely to forget to use your links and it will take you longer to save up your earnings. However, I do recommend that you cross reference who is giving the most cashback on certain websites, especially when you’re making a big purchase (when I wrote this up I checked Lands’ End…ebates was 2%, TopCashback was 4%; Lowes was 2.5% on Ebates, 5% on TopCashBack – so definitely do your research).

One of the best things about any of the click thru websites is that they very often they will give you cashback for any friends you refer that sign on….which can add up quickly. Another fantastic thing is that just because you’re going to a brick and mortar store don’t assume that you can’t get a cashback. Most major chains offer in-store pick up. Use a click thru website to place your order, get the cashback and very often the websites offer their own coupon or discount codes.

Where To Start

I know this is a lot of information and a lot of methods to sift through, but start somewhere. I recommend signing up for an account with Ebates.com or TopCashback for your online purchases, and start following your favorite authors on social media. Before too long you should start seeing the results of a little bit of effort.

Don’t limit yourself to books with this either! Think of all the things you could be putting extra money toward, without spending a penny more than you are already:

  • Vacations
  • Clothes
  • Christmas and Birthday Gifts
  • Groceries
  • Memberships (gym, book, website, etc)
  • Fabric
  • Coffee
  • Ministries, Charities, and Missions
  • THE SKY IS THE LIMIT! Use your imagination.

A Weekend Trip to Dublin: Proving to Myself that I am Capable

The end of a year often results in retrospection and the creation of new plans moving forward: Those very ideas stress the bejeezers out of me. The very idea of dissecting the good and the bad and thinking that somehow I’m going to do “me” different in the next year has, in my experience, resulted in more failures and disappointments than not.

I kind of take each year as it comes. Of course, I toy with the idea of hitting up the gym to lose those pesky last 50lbs post babies or setting up a new morning routine, but I know me…at least a little bit. Those kinds of “resolutions” just are not going to be what motivate me to do anything. I have to come to things by a much more….organic method.

I was listening to the SortaAwesome podcast while cleaning church this afternoon and they were talking about the personal growth and development that each of the hostesses experienced in 2016. I rolled my eyes, in my direction…not theirs, and though to myself: I think the only growth I had could be measured on my scale.

Then as I listened something started to whir inside of me…a few gears were beginning to tick and something began to foment in my mind. 2016 was LONG…not just long, but LOOOOOONNNNNNNGGGGGGG! Or at least December was. December alone was incredibly hard, not for me personally, but for our family, specifically my sister (she’s been in and out of the hospital with what can only be described as a medical mystery seeing as no one knows what’s going on).

But there was January. A whole year ago.

Last January, I did something crazy and completely out of character for me…something that some would consider borderline irresponsible/crazy. At the time it was just a fun idea, a pipe dream if you will, but it quickly progressed past that into one of the greatest gifts someone could have ever given me.

My parents and sister went to Ireland last January for a 10 day vacation. I have loved Ireland since I was a tween…like L.O.V.E. it. I studied abroad there the summer of 2014, Matthew and I went in 2016. It truly is my second home, and some place I would not be at all surprised to find myself living when I grow up.

On a particularly hard Mom-Wednesday I was googling airfare on a whim, because honestly I was done with the screaming and shouting and arguing about doing school, and I found an incredible deal on airfare from JFK to Dublin. I giggled, texted Matt I was going, and chuckled. Then I kept thinking about it….my parents were scheduled to be in Dublin on Friday and come home on Sunday. And I kept thinking about it. I mentioned it to Matt. He chuckled too.

But I kept thinking about it. All. Night. Long.

I sat at the computer on Thursday morning and looked again, it was still there. I bravely mentioned it to Matthew and kind of made a joke about it, because SERIOUSLY there was no way I was going to go Ireland that night. Who does that?! Matthew texted me back a little later:

“Do you really want to go?”
“Well YEA! Who wouldn’t? But I know that’s completely unrealistic.”

30 minutes later Matthew called me, telling me to book the airfare, his mom would take the kids that night and Friday (he’d be home on the weekend). I was dumbfounded. Like seriously could NOT say anything. My hands started shaking, I was thinking the airfare would be gone, I’d do something and book the wrong thing. I started texting people to find out where to park my car, how to navigate a last minute flight out of JFK.

I managed to book the airfare and received my confirmation (hoping that my passport that would expire the following month wouldn’t be an issue).

“It’s booked. I can’t leave without saying good-bye to you first.”
“I know. I’m hurrying to get home. – My dad is going to take you to the airport.”

There were no words.

Matthew got home in time to not only see me off, but drive me to the airport too. I was off to my second home!

I landed in Dublin the following morning and walked out in the frigid sunshine, all smiles. I found the bus that I needed to take to get to where the AirBnB was that my parents were renting, hopped off, and began my meander through the city center and Trinity Colleges campus. The cold air filling my lungs, my thighs feeling frosted and warm from walking in the cold, and it was WONDERFUL!

I was completely alone without a schedule or anything else, and I had successfully navigated an international airport, and a city bus system without getting lost!

There was something that I desperately needed to learn on that trip…

While I am a wife and a mother, I am not defined solely by those things: I am a capable adult.

I am a capable adult outside of those titles, and I can do things that I’ve sort of forgotten that I could. It’s not that I became incapable at anything besides being a wife and mother, it’s that I forgot who I was as just me.

Finding Your Rhythm of Rest

I’m a mom…there’s no rest for moms. We are among the ranks of those who are on duty 24/7/365. While there’s definitely no rest for moms, we are most certainly among those who most desperately need rest. We cannot function in a manner that is glorifying to our God or an example to our children if we DO NOT REST.

Last winter I was burnt out, and it WASN’T from the baby! The triplets had stopped napping, we were homeschooling, we were trying to work through things that had crept up in our lives and needed to be intentionally dealt with. All of it left me feeling drained. I had nothing in me to give, nothing in me to share. Nothing.

I’m still a work in progress. I still fail miserably at getting and giving myself time to rest. BUT there is hope!

For the past few years I’ve been following Shelly Miller of Redemption’s Beauty (she has a beautiful IG feed), when she shared about a book that she had been working on for the past year or so, called Rhythms of Rest: Finding the Spirit of Sabbath in a Busy World.  I could use a little advice on how to find rest amidst the busy.

289793_rhythmsofrest_meme-2Sabbath-keeping not only brings physical refreshment, it restores the soul. God commands us to “remember the Sabbath,” but is it realistic in today’s fast-paced culture? In this warm and helpful book, Shelly Miller dispels legalistic ideas about Sabbath and shows how even busy people can implement a rhythm of rest into their lives–whether for an hour, a morning, or a whole day. With encouraging stories from people in different stages in life, Miller shares practical advice for having peaceful, close times with God. You will learn simple ways to be intentional about rest, ideas for tuning out distractions and tuning in God, and even how meals and other times with friends and family can be Sabbath experiences.

Ultimately, this book is an invitation to those who long for rest but don’t know how to make it a reality. Sabbath is a gift from God to be embraced, not a spiritual hoop to jump through. ~ From Amazon.com

Shelly does a beautiful job of wrapping all of the wisdom of Sabbath living into one package; easily navigable, easily applicable. Through a collection of letters and stories and scripture, alongside Shelly’s own words, she has crafted a beautiful guide to how we can find and create a rhythm of rest in our own world-weary lives.

It’s a wonderful book and it releases TODAY!

I’m hoping that my hard copy arrives in the next day (the digital copy just isn’t so easy to make notes on).
You can order your copy on Amazon (last I checked it was discounted, selling for $8.92!)