Ask Boldly

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{photo from our trip to Vietnam}

I have a confession to make. Recently, my prayer life has been pretty weak and as a result, my heart has lacked the love, joy, hope, & contentment that I am called to have as a believer. I’ve been stuck in my routine and just coasting. Days have been long & busy, yet as I lay my head down at the end of the day, I have nothing to show for it.

I’ve spent a lot of time dreaming. Dreaming about my future, goals, ambitions, adventures… As I was staring out my window the other day the Lord nudged my heart. I could feel the Lord reminding me to pray and to be bold in my prayers.  “You do not have because you do not ask God” {James 4:2}. He reminded me that “we can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps” {Proverbs 16:9}.  I was discontent because I was not listening for the Lord’s direction. I wasn’t asking for His guidance.

Each day we have a choice. We can coast through life or we can pray big prayers and pursue Abba’s plan. I’ve been coasting, but starting today I am choosing to pray big prayers. I want to be bold in prayer and bold in my dreams, love, and hope.  I don’t want to hold back. I want to boldly ask God for His direction and for Him to show me the steps- no matter how big or small. I believe life can be a grand adventure; we just have to ask for it and be ready to not only listen, but also respond when He gives our next step.

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Fully Alive

Life is short- beautiful, but short. I was reminded of this by an event that took place in my office earlier this week. Life can be changed or taken away in an instant. As I sat there wishing I could do more than just pray, I began to reflect on my life and the purpose of life.

I believe God created us to be fully alive. If Jesus is our example, then we are to be fully engaged and spending our time doing what matters. Even though Jesus had access to unlimited and unfathomable resources, He worked with simple tools- tools we all have access to. He used His time, His love and His purpose. That was all He needed to change the world.

Each day we have the opportunity to make someone feel special, to help them recognize their worth & to know the love of Yahweh. We don’t have to do anything extraordinary, just stop what we are doing and share a moment of our lives with them.

I once read a quote that says ‘how we spend our time is how we spend our lives.’ I want to make the most of my time and my life, don’t you? How we spend our time tells the world what is important to us, what we value most. Our lives tell a story and we should be using our time to create a story worth reading. The story we write through our lives may not end up printed in a book, but it will be read by those who live alongside us, those whom we interact with- even if just for a moment.

God has placed a unique design inside your heart to make moments unlike any other.  Let’s make each moment count. Let’s choose to live fully alive and fully engaged.

What do you want your story to say about your life?

If you haven’t read Bob Goff’s “Love Does” or Donald Miller’s “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years,” then you are missing out! Seriously. These two books touch on this subject and are well worth the read. I would give them away to everyone if I could- they are that good!

 

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Art Adventures

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New York is full of fun things to do and beautiful places to visit. While I do believe we are good about enjoying the city we live in, I do wish that we went to the museums more often. Over the past few weeks Caleb and I have been very intentional about trying to visit a few of the local museums. In January, we visited the Met on the Upper East Side and the Cloisters {which is a branch of the Met} located in Upper Manhattan.

I love these two museums. The Met is the largest museum in the US and the Cloisters is made up of various pieces of different castles in Europe. They literally numbered the stones and rebuilt pieces of castles, brick-by-brick here in Manhattan {which, I think is really cool- don’t you?}. If you come to New York, you don’t want to miss either of these museums! You could literally spend hours in each one.

In 2016, one of my goals is to be more intentional about returning to these museums. The exhibits change frequently and it gives my adventurous heart a little glimpse into other cultures.

{camera use inside these museums is not encouraged, so most of the photos are outside- but can we talk about how incredible the sunset was after our time at the Met? it was seriously swoon worthy}

The Met

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{yes, I did feel like gossip girl sitting on the Met steps, soaking up the gorgeous golden-hour sunset, & eating my snack}

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{if you haven’t tried FLYJOY bars yet, you MUST! They are vegan, gluten free, non GMO, delicious & they donate 10% of their profits to HOPE International. What’s not to love? Also, readers get 25% off when you use the code ART25 at checkout!} met-001

{ hat :: jacket under $100 :: boots :: scarf :: leggings :: FLYJOY }

The Cloisters

My parents even joined our adventure to the Cloisters!

IMG_3308IMG_3117{during this outing i learned my favorite FLYJOY flavor is coconut macaroon! seriously delicious!} IMG_3309

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hat :: jacket custom in Vietnam- similar here or this one for under $100 here :: boots :: scarf :: leggings :: FLYJOY }

Do you have a favorite museum in New York? Or any other ‘must-see’ places?

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Adventures in the Snow

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Did anyone else absolutely love the snow storm that just hit almost half of America? There is truly something magical about the snow. I believe it brings out the inner-kid in all of us.

Caleb and I spent almost all weekend in Central Park walking hand-in-hand, watching cross country skiers and kids {and many adults} sled down hills. Even the stairs in the park were covered in so much snow that they were all turned into designated sled areas. {it was actually quite funny to see the stairs at Bethesda Terrace being used as a sled racing zone. who would have guessed one of our city landmarks would be such a source of fun in the fresh powder?} The  snow made the landmarks, statues, and sculptures even more romantic than normal. It was like God smiled down and decided to show off how artistic He really is. To say it was beautiful would be an understatement- seriously, pictures don’t do it justice. We even had a cotton-candy sunset the day following the blizzard!

After a long day of playing in the snow, Caleb and I realized we forgot to eat. Luckily, I had packed my new favorite snack. If you haven’t tried quinoa FLYJOY bars yet, you MUST! Normally I’m not a big energy bar person, but FLYJOY bars are made with all-natural ingredients, are non-GMO verified and are gluten-free. They even donate 10% of their profits to HOPE International. Yes, I’m a fan. {bonus: readers get 25% off all orders by using the code ART25 at checkout!} 

I’ve said it a million times before and will continue saying it- everyone must visit this magical city at least once in their life! And when you come, let me know so we can meet up for coffee or tea!

{some photos were taken on my DSLR
& others were taken on my iPhone ,
so please excuse the quality of some photos}

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{coat: Tahari | boots: Hunter | boot socks: Hunter | hat: Miuk}

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A Day to Celebrate

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Last year I wrote a list of 20 reasons why I am thankful for my husband. As today is his birthday, I decided to re-share that list. Happy Birthday Caleb! Hope your day is filled with infinite blessings!

Here are just a few reasons why he is such a gift.

  1. How well he loves others.
  2. His passion. He is passionate about everything from Jesus to sports. Caleb doesn’t do anything half way.
  3. His positivity. He is always smiling and never speaks poorly of others.
  4. He encourages me to spend time in the Word and leads us in our daily devotional.
  5. His spontaneity.
  6. He brings out the best version of myself. He makes me want to be a better person and to serve more.
  7. Watching him teach, love on, and play with his students. He will be such a wonderful father one day!
  8. He supports my crazy dreams & dreams up his own big, crazy dreams.
  9. His sense of humor. No one makes me laugh like he does.
  10. He tells me he loves me all the time.
  11. He is a man- not just a grown boy. He knows what it means to be a man and the importance of living by a higher standard. He is a man of incredible integrity and I trust him completely. He is brave, strong, a leader, caring, and humble.
  12. Watching his love for Christ overflow as he interacts with strangers. {we have literally had strangers come up to us while we are eating or walking and ask if they could practice speaking english with us… this has happened at least a dozen times. Caleb lovingly accepts with a smile- even if he is caught with his mouth full.}
  13. His adventurous spirit.
  14. Caleb has never met a stranger.
  15. He loves to celebrate everything- big & small! {almost as much as I do}
  16. He randomly dances with me in our kitchen. Sometimes he even turns on our wedding song, takes me by surprise, and dips me.
  17. How he serves- not only me, but everyone around him. {and he does it with such joy & sincere love}
  18. He knows me and knows how to best love me. He listens to my ramblings and always know when I need advice or when I just need to be held.
  19. Seeing him still gives me butterflies.
  20. Most of all- he loves, follows, and pursues Jesus with all his heart.

Happy birthday Caleb! Here’s to another year of adventures!

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What I Learned from the Snow

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{yes, we do love our selfie stick… we are those people}

Anyone else love the snow? While I am definitely a summer girl, I do love the winter. I love that with the winter comes a slower pace of life- especially when it snows. The snow brings a kind of silent beauty that forces life to freeze, to stand still- even if just for a few hours.

Whether walking through the fresh snow hand-in-hand with Caleb or nestled inside with a warm cup of hot cocoa, the snow reminds you to soak up time with loved ones. Rather than focusing on my to-do lists, I find myself living in the moment. I cherish these times.

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This weekends snow reminded me that time goes by quickly. We have to live in the present and soak it up before the moment passes. Time will pass even more quickly than the snow will melt. Life is short. Let’s choose to live in the present.

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Why the Subway is the Prettiest Part of NYC

Do you ever have one of those days where your heart is just filled with gratitude? This week has been full of them. As I walk around New York in this absolutely freezing weather, I can’t help but smile and praise the Lord.

When in Thailand, I would watch the sunset and ponder how omnipotent our God is. How incredible is it that the Lord created such beautiful scenery. There is something majestic about watching a sunset over the ocean or enjoying a cup of coffee while looking out at a vast mountain range. Just thinking of these views make me smile and thank Abba for these sweet memories, these beautiful reflections of His great work.

On Wednesday I was reminded of something even more beautiful. Normally, we think of the subway as being gross and dirty. But on Wednesday I was reminded that my morning subway is filled with men and women who reflect the image of our Heavenly Father. We were each created in His image. As I sat in the subway this week, I couldn’t help but tear up as I looked around. How beautiful is it that in one small space, we can have men and women of so many different nationalities? Each of these men and women reflecting just a small glimpse of our omnipotent God.

On one morning commute I noticed the man siting to my left was reading a book in Russian and across from me was a young jewish boy wearing a kippah and a young Indian girl wearing a sari. On that same train I heard French, Spanish, and another language I did not recognize. It was heartwarming to know I am such a small reflection of Abba. We are all made in Him image. That is why the subway is the prettiest part of NYC. For a short moment, we are all sitting still and sharing in each others journey- each reflecting one small piece of Yahweh.

Yes, the mountains and the ocean reflect that God is an artist, but WE reflect pieces of Him. That is far more beautiful than any sunset will ever be.

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Choosing Awesome over Average

Recently, I’ve thought a lot about time and the quote “how you spend your time, is how you spend your life.”  Quite a sobering quote. Think about it for a moment.  I like to think I spend my time well, but in reality- I’m not too sure what I have to show for it.

As I re-read Jon Acuff’s bookStart: Punch Fear in the Face, I am reminded that I need to stop and look at my life map. Jon states “when it comes to figuring out where we’re headed in life, [most of us] never stop to ask the simple question, ‘where am I?’…The best map in the word doesn’t matter if you don’t know where you are.”

Jon is reminding me that most people wake up one day to realize they have been walking down the path of ‘average.’ It’s not that they intentionally chose the path of ‘average,’ it’s just that they didn’t intentionally choose to work for the path of ‘awesome.’

In 2016, I am choosing to walk the path of ‘awesome.’ Notice I said walk, not run. The Lord is teaching me that you don’t just wake up one day to ‘awesome,’ nor can you skip the work it takes to get there. But that’s okay. Because in reality, how awesome can it really be if you don’t have to work to get there?

Do I know what ‘awesome’ looks like for me? No, not yet. But I’m excited to find out. I’m choosing to live on purpose until the Lord reveals my purpose. {tweet that} I’m choosing awesome over average.

What does or what would ‘awesome’ look like for you?
What is your goal?

p.s. if you haven’t read Jon Acuff’s book Start you can buy it for Kindle here or for Nook here! I highly suggest it!

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How to Set Good Goals

{Ashley Monogue Photography}
{Ashley Monogue Photography}

Can you believe it is 2016 or that we are almost half way through January?! Where has the time gone? As most people do this time of year, I have spent a lot of time thinking about my goals for 2016.

When Caleb and I were first engaged, my parents sat us down and gave us a set of goal sheets. What I love most about these goal setting sheets is that they not only help you outline the steps needed to take to achieve each goal, but they asked one key question- whyWhy do we want to set that specific goal? How will achieving this goal impact your life for the better and how will it further God’s Kingdom?

Goals are great but if there isn’t a deeper intention behind them, what good are they really? Donald Miller reminds us “the ambitions we have will become the stories we live.” I don’t know about you, but I want my goals, my life, and my story to reflect that I serve a great God. I want my goals to have a good “why” behind them. And once you have a good “why,” it’s easy to stick to your goal- you won’t want to give up on your new years resolution.

Each year we are presented with a choice. We can choose to set goals that help mold us into the individual Abba created us to be or we can set goals that will play into the “American Dream.”

I encourage you to sit down, really look at your goals and ask yourself the {sometimes hard} question. What is the why behind each of your goals?

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Christmas from Thailand

Christmas in New York City really is magical. The lights, the decoration, the celebrations… everything. While I adore Christmas in the city, my favorite Christmas was in Thailand. I miss our precious Thai students something fierce, so today I want to share our video from last year. Our Thai students are truly talented and I am beyond blessed to have spent a year with them.

 

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