Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Book of Mark Study: Week 3

I didn't share my Mark journey last week in hopes that you would check out my posts over on my fiend, Jessica Mathisen's blog as her featured Sisters of Influence.

So let's head right in to week 3 now! 

Day 1: Mark 8:1-21

vs. 17 "Aware of their discussions, Jesus asked them: 'Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened?"

Leading up to this in chapter 6:30-44 and 8:1-13, Jesus had performed two miracles regarding bread. How easily they forgot! They didn't ask for eyes to see or hearts to understand what He had been doing in their lives and right in front of their own eyes. We (myself totally included) must ask for our eyes to be open to what He is doing in and around us! If not, we'll be just like them and people will begin to say "how did AllieDanae not see what He was doing in her life?" - I don't want that, do you?

Day 2: Mark 8: 22-38

vs. 31-32 "He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took Him aside to began to rebuke Him. But when Jesus turned and looked at His disciples, He rebuked Peter. 'Get behind Me, Satan!' He said. 'You don not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.'"

Speaking of not having the eyes to see, when I do see what He's trying to teach me, how do I handle it? Do I question or rebuke Him? Do I tells others when He wants me to share or do I keep things to myself? There are definitely areas in my life that I just don't fully understand why/what He's doing in my life. Maybe it is because I haven't asked Him to fully reveal it to me, or because He has been slowly revealing His plan but I have been like Peter, and questioning Him.

Day 3: Mark 9:1-32

vs. 22b-23 "'But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us.' 'If You can'? said Jesus. 'Everything is possible for one who believes.'"

Oh Lord, please turn my 'if You can' mentality & prayers into a 'when You can' ones. I want to learn to pray with confidence (vs 29). That's another reason I love being in the middle of the 40 day prayer challenge while reading through Mark. My prayers lacked some confidence in the God of the universe, but now I want to pray knowing that He will move when and how He wants.

Day 4: Mark 9:33-50

vs. 42 "If anyone causes one of these little ones - whose who believe in Me - to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea."

Well, that is harsh, but so important to remember. There will always be eyes watching us as believers. In this instance, I believe He was talking about not just actual little children who believe, but "young" believers as well - those new to the faith. Paul says it best in 1 Cor 6:12 about how all things might be permissible but not all are beneficial to our lives. We have to be careful of the impact our lives are leaving on others - especially new Christians. We are called to a higher standard of living.

Day 5: Mark 10:1-31

vs. 21 "Jesus looked at him and loved him. 'One thing you lack,' He said, 'Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.'"

Okay, first let's talk about the first part - Jesus looked straight at the man who was genuinely asking a question about a struggle he was having and Jesus gave him instant love. We know from vs. 22 that the rich man was really sad about Jesus' answer, and we don't 100% know what happens to him. But Jesus loved that he was willing to ask the tough questions. Confession: I don't always ask Him the hard questions, because I'm scared of the answer.

The second part is in regards to a message that Priscilla Shirer gave at the Grove one night close to this day. She talked about how her son held on to his tooth to tightly because he didn't realize that he'd get an even greater treasure once he let the tooth fairy have it. Y'all, for some reason that story really resonated with me more than the typical 'if you open your hand, the Lord will be able to take away and put back anything He wants you to have'. [[One note - I do agree that He doesn't always take away, but it is the willingness in our hearts for Him to have it back]]. He really wants to offer us His best, so we need to give Him our best.

Day 6: Mark 10:32-52

I'm breaking this down into 2 parts because they're both so great.

vs. 35-40

The Bible doesn't say He'll give us what we ask for, but our hearts and motives have to be pure and theirs was not. Can I recognize the true motives of my requests and prayers? If they're not pure, am I willing to change them and my prayers as well? That can be ridiculously hard.

vs. 46-52

The blind man had the true faith to ask Jesus for exactly what he wanted (which I struggle to do, but King David is a great example of how to pray badly and confidently). He knew that Christ had the power to heal his eyes if He wanted to. That is the key point here.

Day 7: Mark 11:1-19

The first few verses (1-11) are always hard to read because I know what the same crowd does to Jesus just days later - ask for Him to be crucified, but we really can't say we wouldn't have done the same.

Can anyone explain to me the reason vs 12-25 are in the Scriptures? I totally understand how they relate to prayer and having confidence that God can do whatever we ask (including withering a tree for us) but I feel like He could have said it another way. Whatever. I just think its kind of a funny story, although super serious at the same time. It's serious because the reason Jesus flips the tables (turning God's house into a money scheme) and His explanation of the fig tree and prayer is huge.

Go read it. Then let me know what you think!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Life Post Grad: Upgrading Your Wardrobe

Today, I am so excited to have Carolyn Keating from Heritage Lifestyle Design on the blog to talk about taking your wardrobe from college comfy to career professional. She has years of experience working in the fashion world from merchandising to account management and now she is a personal wardrobe stylist.

So let's get to it! What items can they keep from college?

My name is Carolyn Keating and I'm a personal stylist, business coach and owner of Heritage Lifestyle Design. My career has always been within the fashion industry. I started in merchandising with a well known menswear brand before transitioning to a women's accessories company where I spent nearly a decade as an Account Manager. I launched my business in the Fall of 2015 after working as a freelance wardrobe stylist. Seeing how an outfit can make my client's confidence soar to new heights is  amazing!  Understanding your personal style and how to dress for your body/career/lifestyle is a game changer. When we look great it directly impacts our level of confidence. We’re all creatures of habit and can easily fall into a style rut because we pair the same top with the same bottom, wear it a bunch of times and then get bored. Boredom usually equals shopping! I work with my clients to give them creative solutions that utilize more of what they own and we take pictures of everything along the way. Each of my clients receives their own personal lookbook that references the outfits we created. It saves them time, money and a bit of their sanity when choosing what to wear each day.

What are the must have items new college grads need to purchase?

One of the biggest challenges when transitioning from college to work is developing an office appropriate wardrobe. What a grad needs to purchase will depend on the industry he/she is working in. If they're going to be working in a more traditional industry like finance button down shirts and more conservative pieces are a necessity while creative environments and start ups may allow jeans at the office.  Understanding your work environment and taking note of what others in the are wearing each day, especially colleagues in senior roles, will help you to zero in on the best pieces to invest in. 

What items can they keep from college?

This will also depend on what industry a recent grad is hoping to break into. Good rule of thumb: If it's skimpy, low cut, backless, see through, has holes or stains, or is something you'd wear to a club it's probably not appropriate for a day at the office. If you'd wear it out to a nice dinner at a fancy restaurant with a date or your grandma you can probably hang on to it for a bit. 

Tell us the best places to shop!

There are so many amazing places to shop at every budget. You can find great pieces at department stores like Nordstrom, chains like Banana Republic and on the racks at TJ Maxx. The trick is to look at the material and construction of the garment. If stitching isn't straight or loose or the material is shiny or clingy it's probably not going to wear well. I've picked up blazers at H&M that have been mistaken for Theory and spend more than I should have on a designer blouse that lost a button within hours of wearing it. Don't rely on the price tag to be your guide.

Some of us cringe when thinking about having to wear "grown up" clothes. How do you suggest expressing personality while dressing as an adult?

If you find yourself in a corporate environment where suits are the norm look to accessories to inject a little personality into your wardrobe. Just make sure you're not going overboard, a big pair of statement earrings may be too distracting in the boardroom. Your accessories should help you stand out in the right way. 

In this series, we'll be talking about how to nail the interview, but what should they wear?

This will depend on the job and industry. Under no circumstances are jeans, shorts or short skirts appropriate. When a suit isn't a requirement a dress or pencil skirt works well for ladies while a pair of chinos is a great alternative for the fellas.  Research as much as you can about the company and its culture beforehand and always dress to impress. 

More about Carolyn:
I’m a Personal Stylist and Business Coach who firmly believes confidence is the best accessory. I teach people how to wear more of what they already own because spending a lot of money isn’t necessary to have great style. As someone who struggled for years with defining my own style I know exactly what it feels like to stare at your full closet and find nothing to wear. Before starting my career as a personal stylist I worked in the fashion industry in NYC selling to retailers big and small throughout the country. When I’m not helping build my clients confidence through their wardrobes you can find me with my husband and dog, either hiking in the park, catching up on a weeks’ worth of TV or trying to squeeze in a quick nap on the couch. 

Thank you Carolyn for helping us grow out of our play clothes and learn to dress to impress!
You can follow her on IG and Facebook for style inspiration.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Grieving Process

I still can't believe that it has been 6 months since we lost Momma. Since we were so open with our emotions, thoughts, and feelings while in the middle of the horrible situation, I've been wanting to write about the days and months following and how we (or really I am) are processing, handling/dealing, moving on...whatever word fits. But even now, going back to those days still feels just how it did then as my sister, Amanda described it - "it is truly like an elephant is sitting on my chest".

Yes, 6 months later that heaviness is still there. Of course some things are different, and yes, I know that time heals, and oh I'm praying that's true. But I'm really learning to give myself grace and permission to handle (I hate using that word or even saying 'dealing with it") it the way I need to. I guess the best term is to grieve as a I need to and it looks different every single day. And since I love journaling and blogging, I think this is part of my grieving and moving forward process.

I think I first need to reiterate that we are Christians, and we know without a doubt that Momma is in Heaven. That is not part of my grieving. I know I will see her again and that she is surrounded by His glory and ultimate joy. It doesn't have to do with how strong my faith is, but that my faith means I believe everything He says to be true and how faithful He is.

But I am grieving. Every single day. Not one goes by that at least one tear doesn't fall, and for the first 2 months, I ended up crying myself to sleep every night. I don't see that as negative, but just part of the process. The phrase "Gosh, Lord, I miss Momma" also gets uttered a few times a day, sometimes mixed with a direct "Momma, I miss you". And it hurts. Oh, how it hurts. I don't even know how else to describe the sucker-punch type feelings that just hit when I'm not even thinking about it.
  • Washing my hair - "this was the last extra bottle Momma bought for me" - and wham an onslaught of tears over shampoo. SHAMPOO.
  • Trying to remember a certain recipe or laundry trick.
  • Finishing the last 2 books she wanted me to read. 
  • Crocheting blankets and finishing the last one she helped me design.
  • The scent of a certain candle.
  • Not being able to watch one episode of Fixer Upper since. 
Of course there are so many other things that remind me of Momma or times I just want to pick up the phone and call or text her about something so small and insignificant. 

Momma and I are so similar in many ways. Looks, obviously, but mainly in the way she understood my feelings. How we handled things and what we got excited about. My sister has other parts of Momma that I don't have and what a gift it is to have my sister continue to be my counterbalance in life. I always thought Momma was the only one who truly got me, but I can see now just how much all of my siblings fit right into the perfect pieces of my life.

If you know me, you know how much of a Daddy's girl I've always been. He has always seen the bigger picture of things when I get bogged down by the details. Not that details are wrong, but he always has an eye for what is best in the long term. As different as we 4 kids are, he has and still continues to support our dreams. These past few months have obviously shifted things in our relationship to an even stronger bond. As he's missing his wife, he also has 4 kids who are grieving, and I can only imagine that's a tough role as a Daddy. He's been my rock at every turn in life, and that hasn't changed even with his own grieving.

We've all had to learn how to do life a bit differently. To be completely honest, we've failed sometimes and missed opportunities to support each other. There's a HUGE learning curve. The biggest thing I think we've learned as a family is to keep open communication. Each of us is grieving in different ways and we have to all be there for each other and support even if it seems like an odd way to grieve. When you go through something like this, the worst thing to do, in my honest opinion, is to close yourself off from those who love you. It can be so easy, especially when they are hurting too, but because they are the ones that totally "get it", you/I desperately need them. 

I don't cry myself to sleep every single night anymore, and maybe that is "time healing all things". There will be holidays, weddings, birthdays (some already we've experienced), babies, sporting events (gosh, as a past season ticket holder, she would have loved watching the Falcons in the Super Bowl), tee-ball games, gymnastics meets, etc, that will no doubt cause us to miss her something fierce. She was all about family - her family, then Daddy's family, and if you knew her, probably even your family. That is part of her lasting legacy. Family. And I am ever so grateful for it as it has been the ultimate support for the pain of losing her. 

I don't know what your family tree is like, and I know mine is extremely rare in today's world. And with the risk of sounding cheesy, maybe its time for you to mend some broken ties or strengthen ones that are already there. Life is short folks, and time is precious. Harboring grudges or ill-will does good for no one. I pray that God will begin to move in your relationships with your family and friends.

Also, give yourself permission to laugh as you grieve. Trust me, it goes a long way.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Book of Mark Study: Week 2

I should have linked this last week, but if you're wanting to start the Mark Journey yourself, you can find all of the info here.

Diving into Week 2

Day 1 - Mark 4:21-41

Several times in this passage (vs. 34 & 40) we see that Jesus explained everything to them and they still didn't fully understand. I also imagine that they have the Scriptures like we do and think "gosh, why don't y'all get it?" But the reality of it is two-fold: 1. Sometimes we aren't ready to fully understand and the Holy Spirit is still revealing it to us little by little and 2. We just aren't really paying attention. Lord, may my spirit always be in tune with Your Spirit so that I will understand what it is You're telling me.

Day 2 - Mark 5:1-20

vs. 14 "Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened."

This man needed a miracle to get the demons out of him. But in order for him to be healed, pigs (someone else's pigs / livelihood) were essentially sacrificed as they ran off the cliffs and drowned. Reminds me a little bit of the scapegoats and sacrifices made in the Old Testament. But back to Mark. We need healing as well, and it cost Jesus His life to heal and to save us. There will also be times when it may cost us something - whether time, money, talents - in order to be freed from some of our chains and bondage just like this man.

Day 3 - Mark 5:21-42

vs. 28 "because she thought, 'if I just touch His clothes, I will be healed'."

Y'all, her faith right there is what I strive for, but fall so short many days. She knew if she could just get a piece of Jesus, He would heal her. I've got all of Jesus - the whole entire Bible, the Holy Spirit, access to the Father without a priest - yet, sometimes I still doubt what He can do for me. Oh Lord, increase my faith to match this woman's faith.

Day 4 - Mark 6:1-29

vs. 20 - "because Herod feared John and protected him, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man. When Herod heard John, he was greatly puzzled; yet he like to listen to him."

When I read this verse my mind said "What?! Herod admitted to liking John? Since when?!" We may never know how what we say influences someone. Everything we do and say should always point to God the Father so that others may come to know Him (Matthew 5:16 - "In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.")

Day 5 - Mark 6:30-56

vs. 41 "Taking the 5 loaves and the 2 fish and looking up to heaven, He gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then He gave them to His disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all."

My takeaway from this verse comes from Mark Batterson of The Circle Maker. I've recently finished the book and am on Day 11 of the journey (same day as Week 2 Day 5 of Mark). He pointed out that Jesus gave thanks for the miracle before it even happened. He didn't ask God to make it feed the 5,000; He thanked God for it feeding the 5,000. We / I need to start giving thanks for the answers before I even have them.

Mark Batterson also points out in vs 48 that Jesus has a bit of a fun-loving personality as He "was about to pass them by," as He walked on the water. He knew they'd frighten and He was getting a kick out of it. Mark B says that sometimes we get so caught up on Jesus' character, that we forget to look at His personality. Interesting thought.

Day 6 - Mark 7:1-23

vs. 8 "You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions."

I love traditions, especially holiday and family traditions, and they're not necessarily bad. In fact, they have been what has bonded my family and friends so tightly together. But when it comes to traditions of the faith, we have to be so very careful not to put them above the actual commands of God. I was talking about this with my Flourish mentor about how its not even about what God calls / commands us to do, it is more about our heart and our obedience rather than the act itself. But we can (myself, especially!) get this backwards. You know that whole "being a Martha" thing.

Day 7 - Mark 7:24-37

vs. 37 "People were overwhelmed with amazement. 'He has done everything well,' they said. 'He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.' "

My question for today - Do I truly believe that in every aspect of my life He has done everything well? Hmmm...that can be a tough one to answer. So I'll leave off at that.