Wednesday, August 31, 2011

August Wrap Up and September Goals

August: Money
-Read Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
-Buy needful things
-Indulge in a modest splurge
-Make a donation
-Spend out (make the most of what I have)

It makes me laugh how each month of My Happiness Project so far has been exactly what I needed to work on and learn. The topics and themes seem to come up without my meaning them to. This month was no exception. I wouldn't exactly say this month was a success, but I learned a lot about myself and my spending habits.

I want to say a big thank you to my sister for annoying me to death about having to read Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. Because I am in an interesting situation and have been for awhile, (unemployed/no permanent job) I didn't think that Dave's rules could actually apply to me. I think part of it was denial, but once I started reading I couldn't seem to read fast enough.

His techniques apply to EVERYONE and even if your situation is unique (as most are), Dave has great information to share. I appreciate the simplicity of his ideas. Like he said, it's not complicated, but it is difficult. Changing how you treat your money is similar to how you treat losing weight, as he talks about in his book. You know the simple things you have to do, eat right and exercise, but you have to DO those things in order to lose the weight; the same goes for money. Is changing how you treat your money going to be easy? No. Will it be worth it? Absolutely.

(This will be me SOON!)


I think I should have starting reading earlier in the month. I didn't do the best I could only buying needful things. I splurged more than I should have, but I did donate to One Days Wages.

I did make the most of what I have which was great, considering I'm the girl who saves things for special occasions or rainy days. For example I have dozens of perfumes and dresses that I keep saving for some reason. This month I definitely did better actually using what I have.

Like I said before, I did learn a lot this month. I recognize that I do have a skewed perspective where money is concerned and that I need to change. I am terrible at putting off instant gratification. (Hello, beautiful fall collection of Seychelles shoes.) I have learned though that if I live like no one else now, (Goodbye, Seychelles.) that later I can live like no one else. I am ready to put what I've learned into action so that next month will be even better. I am starting to work on my budget and figure out my debt snowball. My ultimate goal is to have all my student loans paid off by the time I'm 30. I know that this will be difficult, but I am envisioning the day when I pay my very last student loan and have a six month emergency fund in place. I am ready to live like no one else.

Be sure to stay tuned for Commandment #7 when I talk more about my money issues.


My topic for September is Education and my goals are as follows.

September: Education
-Take a class (Electrical Systems through work)
-Read Unlimited by Jillian Michaels & re-read Reshaping It All by Candace Cameron Bure
-Learn a new activity (perhaps make macarons?)
-Practice guitar/Learn a song on the guitar
-Learn how to create a budget

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Commandment #5: Don't Make Comparisons

This one ties in a lot with my first commandment to Be Heather. I find it too easy to "examine" other people's lives and think that what I have and who I am is not enough because I don't have the same gifts/talents/possessions/blog/job/body that someone else does. Somehow I wind up thinking that I'm not good enough if I can't do exactly what someone else can do. This is precisely why I don't like talent shows. I always leave feeling like a big, stupid loser.


From that conclusion I'm thrown into a spiral of self-doubt, negative self-talk, all which causes me to question my self-worth. Obviously they are SO MUCH BETTER than I am and their life is PERFECT and I'm just a HOT MESS. Ugh. That is sad, huh? I hate when I do that because I just end up feeling utterly miserable. And really, who wants to be around someone who is constantly doubting themselves and doesn't have confidence in who they are? I don't. It's exhausting.

And vise versa I need to stop the self-righteous talk; it is also easy to "examine" someone else and think that you are SO MUCH BETTER than them because you are not doing such and such like they are. Comparison is a vicious cycle that never ends well.


I am working on loving myself for who I AM. When I start comparing myself with someone else I try to remind myself that God has uniquely created you to be you and me to be me. It is okay if I can't do exactly what you do, because God created me for something else. When I really think about it I bet God is really ashamed of me when I try to compare myself to others. He created ME. How hurtful it must be when I complain about how He made me. I try to recognize my negative self-talk, then tell myself what I like about being me and thank God for making me.

1. I like my creative side.
2. I like that I am a compassionate person.
3. I like my sense of style and fashion.
4. I like the value I place on relationships and my family.
5. I like that I can laugh easily.

What are 5 things you love about yourself?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Commandment #4: Keep It Simple

I have a tendency to be a perfectionist. I hate making mistakes and being out of control. I love when things are in order and done correctly. (Bonus if I can color coordinate or alphabetize.) This makes life a bit difficult, because I’ve come to learn that life is often messy and never perfect. Hello, life experience!


This was an issue that I constantly dealt with in school. I would end up making projects, papers or assignments more difficult than they needed to be. I felt like the bigger, more creative or complicated, the better. This would lead to discouragement, late nights or me hitting my head against a wall. It was usually when I stepped back and looked at the bigger picture that I found the simplest and most direct ideas often produced the best results.


Don’t mistake my saying simple for easy. There is a difference. I am NOT saying to take the easy way through life to minimize the amount of work you have to do. (What you put into life is what you are going to get out of it.) Rather, be open to letting go when things don’t turn out how you think they should. Be open to releasing control. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

I will probably always be a perfectionist to some extent, but that’s why this commandment is so important. I don’t want to ever have a flippant or apathetic attitude towards life and work, but I do need simplicity in my life. Life is complicated enough without me adding to it. Less really can be more.

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Friday, August 26, 2011

Commandment #3: Enjoy now. Enjoy the process.

I've written about this before, but it always seems to elude me. Being present. Being in the moment. If I'm not looking at the past wishing I could change it, I'm looking at the future, worrying about what is to come. What a terrible waste of life.

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I used to rush from one exciting point in life to another thinking that those "highs" were what living was all about. Surprise to me, it turns out that everyday you make choices that affect the bigger picture of your life. (Duh, Heather.) Life isn't all about the BIG decisions or events. I am working on taking each day for what it is and looking for joy in the simple moments, whether it is dinner with a friend, acknowledgement for a job well done, snuggling with my cats or my favorite song on the radio.

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Right now I am in a strange transition time in my life. Four years out of college. No permanent job. Living at home. No significant other. It's weird. This isn't how I saw my life. There are things I wish I could change, but when I sit back and think about things, I am pretty content. I have an excellent education. I have a wonderful temp job which will probably become permanent in the next month. I have generous parents. I have dear friends. I am confident that God is working in my life and that I am where He wants me. I'm done focusing my energy on what I should/could/would have done or what may happen. It is time that I start enjoying this time of transition and this process of growing into who I am supposed to be.

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Seychelles Fall Look Book

I adore Seychelles Shoes. Not only are they stylish, but also comfortable. I am drooling over all the shoes in their fall look book. They are so gorgeous. Must. Hide. Credit. Card.

Hey Seychelles, want to sponsor my life? haha! ;)

Seychelles Fall 2011 Lookbook Video from Seychelles Footwear on Vimeo.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Commandment #2: Be Better, Not Bitter

There are a couple (okay, many) situations in my life that haven't gone how I thought they should. (Example: boys, work, finances, etc.) Obviously God has other plans for me, but the hurt and disappointment is still there and moving on is often easier said than done. My head tries to reconcile with my heart, but my heart doesn't always want to listen. I am not the best at letting go.


I am learning (the hard way) that I have two choices: I can allow the hurt to turn into bitterness and let it consume me OR I can turn those situations into learning experiences, grow from them and become a better person. From now on I ALWAYS want to choose the latter. Holding onto the bitterness is such a heavy burden. I'm tired of living in the past and hoping for a different outcome. (It's like when I watch Titanic and pray that this time it won't sink. Every. Time.) It has already happened, so it is time to move forward.

I want to turn the difficult parts of life around and use them for GOOD and for God's glory. Life is hard enough without allowing the bad to consume you. We CANNOT control what happens to us, but we ALWAYS have a CHOICE in how we respond. This will always be a conscious and intentional choice that I will have to make. In the moment it might be difficult to keep the bitterness at bay, but with a little effort and some perspective I bet it will become easier over time. So from here on out I CHOOSE better over bitter.

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“Am I bitter? No, I’m better. I’m a better person because of the experience, for…
through the pain I learned compassion,
through the doubts I learned to trust,
through the fear I learned faith,
through the rejection I saw God’s amazing hand of protection,
and through the darkness, I saw the Light.”
-excerpt from Wildnerness Skills for Women

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Commandment #1: Be Heather

Being yourself is so much easier than it sounds. In a society where we praise and give attention to those who are talented or skinny or beautiful, sometimes it is hard to feel like enough. I've got to be honest, I excel at telling myself I'm not good enough, that I need to be like someone else and then I will be happy and everyone will like me. I am tired of pretending around certain people because I think that they'll think less of me if I'm real with them.


So often I find myself trying to be like someone else; trying to emulate someone who I think is better than I am. It's easy to feel terrible about yourself and think you are not enough when you listen to Satan's lies. It is important to recognize that those are in fact LIES. And FEELINGS are not a good tool for measurement.

When feelings become overwhelming I know that it is time to look at what I know to be TRUE; it is time to go back to Scripture. Truth trumps feelings. I KNOW that I am God's child and His masterpiece. Psalm 139 says that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Ephesians 2 says that we are God's handiwork. All over Scripture it speaks about how much God loves us. We are His children. I may not have the same gifts and abilities as someone else, but that does not make me less.

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I am ready to embrace myself for who I am, flaws and all, and be confident in who God created me to be. I am not done becoming who I am supposed to be. I still having growing to do and I want to continue pushing myself to be the best I can be, but it is time for me to recognize and accept that who I am is enough. It is time for authenticity.

So who am I?

I am a single, twenty-six year old woman, who loves Jesus with all her heart. I live with my parents. I don't have a permanent job. I don't have a plan for my life. I'm a bit of a hot mess and kind of goofy. I don't feel like a grown up (except for the paying bills part). I enjoy painting and singing, even though I'm not an expert at either. Nothing in life makes me happier than the relationships I have with my friends and family.

This is me.

photo by Ashlee

"God used His creative energy to make you uniquely you, don't spend all yours today trying to be like someone else." -Louie Giglio

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Twelve Commandments

At the end of last year I read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin and was inspired to do my own Happiness Project which you may be following along with. (JAN, FEB, MAR, APR, MAY, JUNE, JULY) As she was working on her resolutions she saw common themes come out and from there she wrote her twelve commandments. I developed and shared my own last December, but I realized that I never really explained them.

My sweet friend Amanda wrote her own as well and she shared about what each one meant to her. I would like to do the same as a reminder for me why I am doing this project and help me become the woman I am meant to be. In the posts that are to come I am going to strive for authenticity because some of the topics are difficult and I know that there are others who share my feelings. It reminds me a bit of Mandy's recent post. It's time to get real and be vulnerable with each other.

No one has it all together; we are all just doing the best we can and that's exactly where my twelve commandments come in. So stick with me for the next couple weeks as I share and explain my twelve commandments. I would love to hear yours as well.

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

goodbye

Late Tuesday night, or early Wednesday morning, depending on how you look at it, I had to say goodbye to a dear friend of mine. Eric is headed off to seminary in Missouri. I am so proud of what he is doing, but it was sure hard to see him go. I have known Eric and his family about 15 years. We have had some fun times together. When I spent a year at Concordia in California, Eric was my person. He was my best friend and saw me through some hard times.

Tuesday night we hung out with him and some friends to send him off. It was a silly night with pizza, ice cream, Munchkins and many conversations about potatoes. I'm going to miss that boy.

This is the mix that I made for his road trip basket. (Click to enlarge.)

Eric's road trip basket. Snacks. Music. Stuff Christians Like.

Last week after dinner at the Matador. Ashlee. Eric. Heather.

We have had the time of our lives
And now the page is turned
The stories we will write
We have had the time of our lives
And I will not forget the faces left behind
It's hard to walk away from the best of days
But if it has to end, I'm glad you have been my friend
In the time of our lives
-Tyrone Wells

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Giveaway Winner

Thank you to all who entered my giveaway! I loved reading your favorite verses! If you haven't, you should read what everyone shared.

The winner, picked at random, is EMILY! Yay!

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Monday, August 15, 2011

mess

Hello friends!

Thank you to all who have signed up for my giveaway. For those who haven't there is still time! It is open until Wednesday, August 17th at 6:00 pm MDT.

I have some posts that I am working on. I hope to begin sharing them this week, but I make no guarantees. Life has been a bit of a mess lately. I mentioned last week that I am recovering from whiplash. My neck and back are still in lots of pain, plus I have been fighting with cramps the past couple days. No fun. I'm hoping that it just works itself out so I don't have to go back to the chiropractor.

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Fortunately I have been able to lay low over the weekend. Saturday night we had some family over for pizza which was fun. Last night Ashlee and I went over to our friend's house for a goodbye party. Our dear friend is leaving for seminary on Wednesday. I am so sad to see him go, but I am so proud of what he is doing. Luckily I don't have to say goodbye for real until tomorrow night. I won't be surprised if I cry. If I do I'm hoping for a Lauren Conrad tear. ha!

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Friday, August 12, 2011

GIVEAWAY! -CLOSED

A big thank you to Jenn, Mandy, Jenny and Ashlee for guest blogging for me this week! When planning for the week I didn't realize how much I would need people to fill in for me.

Over the weekend a group of us from church went boating and I went on the tube, which was so much fun. Unfortunately, I ended up with whiplash that gave me mirgraines. This week I had to go to the chiropractor twice to get adjusted. I am still incredibly sore, but hopefully I'll be feeling better next week.

To end the week I have a very special giveaway! This year I have hit over 60 blog followers, over 500 posts and 4 years of blogging and I figured it was time to celebrate!


A few months ago I got an email from Rob Lantz, introducing me to his wife, Shawn, and her ministry. Shawn grew up in the Democratic Republic of Congo with her missionary parents. Rob sent me a few copies of the Bible study, Living With Unmet Desires, and book, Congo Vignettes, she wrote. I just began studying and reading both and I would love to share a copy of each with one of you!

To enter this giveaway:
1. Share your favorite Bible verse.
2. Include your name and email address.

A winner will be picked Wednesday, August 17th at 6:00 pm MDT.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Guest Post: The Lovelee Girl

Please give a warm welcome to my sister, Ashlee, today! When I asked her to write a guest post she was hesitant, but when I suggested she write about photography she just about couldn't stop writing! I hope you learn something new from her tips and tricks! Thanks Ashlee!


This is Ashlee from The Lovelee Girl, also known as The Other One or Heather’s twin sister. I’m so excited to be her guest blogger today!


When I was in high school I fell in love with photography. It helped that I had an amazing teacher [Hi, Mr. Nichols!]. Back then I was working with black and white film and developing it in a darkroom. There is something so raw about working in that environment, versus using a “digital darkroom” aka Photoshop on my MacBook Pro. The darkroom is still my favorite, but not as practical for me right now.

In late May of 2008, I was accepted into an online MFA Photography program the day before I lost my job. I hadn’t pursued photography in college because my school didn’t offer a program, or else I’m sure I would have done it sooner. This spring I decided that the MFA wasn’t where God wanted me. I knew that I still wanted to do photography, but needed to go in a different direction that He was leading me.

Until January of this year I had been unemployed [besides a random temp job last summer] since I had lost my job back in 2008. Long story short, my dad wanted to help me find a job. After what seemed to be an obvious nudging from God, I applied for a position with Bella Baby Photography in Boise and was hired at the end of my phone interview.

The company based in Illinois and currently in over 30 states, started in Boise at the beginning of this year. We’re currently in two hospitals in my local area. Bella Baby captures baby’s first photographs in the hospital room. It’s something I never thought about until the opportunity approached me, but it is an amazing job. I feel very lucky to be able to capture such a special time in people’s lives. I know I’ve done my job, and done it well when I make the moms [AND dads] cry while showing them their online galleries.

With the advent of digital photography, EVERYONE and their monkeys can take pictures. While anyone can take pictures, not everyone can be considered a photographer. I wanted to share a few tips that will [hopefully] help you take better pictures.

Tips:

Read Your Manual: Seems like an obvious thing to do, but easy to overlook. Get to know how your camera works! Read it through once without your camera, then re-read it with your camera in-hand and get to know where everything is and what everything does. Refer back to your manual in the future if you have questions or want to try something new.

The best camera is the one with you: There’s a chance that you’re not always going to have your camera on you, but you may have your cell phone or even some other device with a camera. Utilize what you have and get to know the different settings on your various cameras so you’ll be comfortable when you need to use it.

Get close: Don’t be afraid to get in someone’s face [with their permission] or end up in an awkward position to get your picture.

Lighting: I’m the biggest fan of using natural light. Be aware of how the lighting looks in your picture. Don’t be afraid to move around and find the best light. Lighting can make or break a picture.

TURN OFF YOUR FLASH: If you remember anything about my post today, please remember this tip!! This is my biggest pet peeve! Whether you’re at a concert [especially if you’re at a concert] or any other low-light setting, turn off your flash. Chances are if you use it, it will bounce off of something in front of you, other than your subject, which defeats its purpose. Obviously there are times when a flash is absolutely necessary, but as a general rule: keep your flash off.

Be aware of your framing & what’s in the background: This is pretty self explanatory, but you never know when you may accidentally be giving someone horns or there’s something random in the picture you don’t see at first glance.

Experiment: Don’t be afraid to try new things with your photography.

Here are a few ideas of things to experiment with!

Focus: Fyi, your pictures don’t always have to be in focus. Also related to this, you can experiment with your depth of field.

Light: Some of the best natural light comes in the early morning and the early evening. The light is softer and has more of a glow. In one class we took a series of pictures at different times throughout the day in order to understand it better.

Perspective: Get up high, get down low, turn sideways, upside down. How do you see the world?

Movement: I love experimenting with slow shutter speed [how long the lens is open].

Recently I played with movement, light and focus on the 4th of July [see HERE].

Have fun: Take your friends out and play. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Have fun with it!

Take your photography to the next level by incorporating elements of design:

Line: the visual path that enables the eye to move within the piece

Shape: areas defined by edges within the piece, whether geometric or organic

Color: hues with their various values and intensities

Texture: surface qualities which translate into tactile illusions

Form: 3-D length, width, or depth

Value: Shading used to emphasize form

Space: the space taken up by [positive] or in between [negative] objects

A few of my favorite photographers include:
Richard Avedon
Annie Leibovitz
Mary Ellen Mark
Steve McCurry
Sarah Rhoads
Allister Ann
John Keatley

Here’s a list of some of the equipment I use:
Epiphanie Lola Bag
Canon 50d
Canon 35mm f/2
Canon Speedlight 580ex ii
15” MacBook Pro
Photoshop CS5
Formula One Actions

On my wish list:
Kelly Moore Libby Bag: A bag that hold my camera AND my laptop.
Formula One Organics Collection Actions
Canon 5D Mark ii

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this. I hope you've learned something that you can put into practice the next time you pick up your camera!

See my Bella Baby Photography HERE.

Find me:
The Lovelee Girl Blog
Twitter
Pinterest
My Photography favs board on Pinterest

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Guest Post: K. Jenny Nelson

Hello friends! Today I am pleased to welcome my "sister" to my blog. I met Jenny in college and have known her for eight years. We have been through A LOT together and I don't know how I'd survive without her. She is one of my very best friends and I love her dearly. I hope you enjoy her post. Thanks for sharing Jenny!

P.S. Say a prayer for Jenny today as she is traveling back to Savannah for three weeks to complete her Master's program!


Hey lovely readers of Heather’s blog!

I’m Jenny, Heather and Ashlee’s other twin; you might have seen me pop up on here every once in a while (I’m the one who made them drive across the country with me this Summer hehe).
Anyway Heather asked me to write a guest post for her, so I thought I’d talk about how to live a “greener” life. I am currently in the last three weeks of my master’s program at Savannah College of Art and Design; I’m getting my M.A in Sustainable Design, so sustainability is near and dear to my heart. I know it can seem daunting when you hear all the problems with our environment today and thinking what can I do to actually make a difference? But really just doing small things to start makes a huge difference, and you can tell your friends about it and they’ll start too and suddenly hundreds of people are making better changes and we’re changing the world!

I’m a poor grad student so obviously I can’t buy a new hybrid or put solar on my house (since I don’t have a house….) but I do seemingly small things that are not only healthy for the environment but for me as well!

Instead of buying new clothes all the time I’ve started buying vintage and going to thrift stores when I need some. And actually I’ve just pared back my spending on fun items all together. One of the major principles of sustainability is to not just have stuff or just buy stuff for the sake of buying stuff! And being a poor grad student who has moved three times in the past year and half has taught me this lesson well! I only buy what I need (with a few goodies thrown in every few months). It’s kinda liberating to be able to fit your entire life into your four door car!


I also try to use less plastic bottles in the body/hair care department. I started buying shampoo bars; there are great ones on Etsy or at local health food stores (if they’re all natural they’ll be fine for your hair). I even found conditioner bars on Etsy! Also I’ve started making my own castor and olive oil face cleanser so I re-use bottles constantly (see Heather’s post about that). And I make my own toner so again am re-using random bottles I had sitting around! The less packaging I have to throw away the better!


Finally over a year ago I went vegetarian not only for health but also as a way to lead a greener lifestyle. Now don’t get you’re feathers all ruffled, I don’t tell anyone how to eat or what to eat, you can eat meat if you want I honestly don’t care, it’s all a totally personal decision! But I do encourage people to eat less meat and to eat meat of better quality. Most meat in the US comes from factory farms that don’t treat animals well and don’t treat the environment well. So by consuming less you are lowering your carbon footprint and hopefully sending these bad farms a message. Also by finding local and healthfully grown meats you are supporting local farmers and a local economy and doing something good for the environment! These farms (if they’re a good one) pollute less, don’t feed their animals bad GMO foods or shoot them up with crazy meds so in turn the meat is much healthier for you (and probably tastes better too!).


Well those are just a few tips to get you started! I hope you take the first step in leading a greener life; it’s really not that scary, I promise! Thanks for reading along, have a gorgeous day!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Guest Post: She Breathes Deeply

I am so pleased to have the lovely Mandy sharing some words of wisdom on my blog today. Mandy is a fashionable, tattooed, Jesus-loving, holy-yoga practicing, mother of Lily and wife of Kyle. I have been reading her blog for almost a year and I always enjoy what she has to share, I hope you do too! Thanks Mandy!


Hello Heatherlydee readers! My name is Mandy and I run a blog called www.shebreathesdeeply.com . Heather asked me to do a guest blog today, and I am so excited to be here with you all.


Two years and two months ago I married my best friend, Kyle. He is my soul mate, and my match in every which way.
I can see God's fingerprints all over how we met and fell in love. Before I met Kyle, I had a hard time imagining that there would ever be such a man as him out there for me. (This is a whole other story in itself.) In the years before I met him, I started writing letters and cards to my future husband, and storing them away in a box to give to the man I would marry someday… and that is what I want to talk about today… Writing letters to your future husband.
So, all you single ladies-- listen up!

I think I must have been 14 years old when I wrote my first letter to my future husband. I am sure the letter was completely cheesy, and dripping with 14 year old girl sentiment. But looking back I am SO glad I wrote those letters. Over the next 4 or so years I continued to write tons of letters to the man I would someday marry. I had quite the collection awaiting my man of mystery, who was out there somewhere in the great abyss. Sadly, I became a little more jaded towards relationships as I grew older. My letters tapered off. I made some bad decisions relationship wise. But by the GRACE OF GOD, Jesus made all things new and beautiful in my life. And THANK YOU JESUS I didn't throw away all my adolescent letters to my future love.


When Kyle and I were engaged to be married, I remembered my box full of letters, and I gave them to him. Be still my heart... Ladies, let me tell you… Every single letter I wrote was worth it. Kyle and I sat and read years of love letters wrote to him, even when I didn't know my future husband's name. I watched my husband-to-be light up with joy. I watched tears roll down his face as he carefully read each letter. He hugged me tightly at the end, and it made all the years of writing letters worth it.

So. My point here is this. If you are a single lady who is prayerfully awaiting her knight in shining armor… don't give up, and don't become jaded. Follow the Lord with all you heart, mind, and strength. Write your husband love letters. Store them away for that special man you dream of. Only the love of your life; the man God designed for you deserves to read those letters.


I promise… if you wait for the right man that God has for you… every letter will be worth it.

Love,
Mandy

p.s. Come visit my blog if you like, and say hello! www.shebreathesdeeply.com


She Breathes Deeply

Monday, August 8, 2011

Guest Post: Joyful Jenn

I am so pleased to welcome Jenn to my blog today. I have known Jenn and her family for nearly 15 years! I can't believe it's been that long! Jenn is one of those special people who is truly authentic and genuine; you won't meet a sweeter young woman with a heart for God. She has been through a lot in the past few years, which she will talk about, and I admire her unwavering faith so much. Thanks Jenn!



I'm Jenn ( Joyfuljenn.com ) I'm a wife, teacher, blogger, designer and dog - mom. I love Jesus with all my heart. I'm a very sensitive person, but I'm strong and genuine. I have a gentle spirit. I love to write, and find blogging to be very therapeutic, so I write about anything and everything no matter how significant or insignificant it may seem. 

I initially told Heather I was going to write about marriage, but I've had it on my heart to write about Perseverance and Endurance  instead, I promise I'll tie all three together. 
- - - - 

A little over two years ago, I exchanged vows and made a commitment to my best friend. I'm lucky to have found my best friend. When I made that commitment, and spoke my vows, I didn't know what the future would hold for us, no one does for that matter. I was optimistic in thinking that nothing bad would happen. I believed the "In sickness" part of our vows might come, but not for 20, 30, 50 years.  

The first 6 months of our marriage were bliss. After we'd been married six months and before we celebrated our second wedding anniversary, my husband had underwent 4 ankle surgeries, and was diagnosed with type one diabetes. I was in the middle of my student teaching year, and underwent sinus surgery. As I'm writing this, my husband is healing from his fourth and hopefully last ankle surgery. We are thankful how careful this doctor has been. This recovery period has been the longest of any of the previous surgeries. My husband has been on crutches for over two months now. This has left him unable to walk, drive and do many of the other things he loves to do and has left me trying to do everything he does in addition to everything I do. Type 1 Diabetes is a never ending journey (at least not yet). There is no cure and it changes Shawn's life every day (and mine). He tests his blood sugar multiple (6+) times a day and injects himself with insulin 3-4 times a day before he eats -- just to live. We changed how we eat, and made many adjustments to our lives schedules. 

All of these things are difficult, but doable. There are still days that I cry, because it's hard and I get upset. I wonder, 
"Why Us?" 
"Why Now?" 

As I'm sure you can imagine, this has put a large amount of stress on both of us. It has put stress on our marriage in every way imaginable. The other day I think God finally got through to me. 

 God never said our journey here on earth  would be easy. 
I believe at times, God WILL give us more than we can handle, but that is why we have family,  local churches and other christians out there for us to reach out to for  love and support. 
At the end of the day, WE NEED GOD. 
We cannot do it alone. 

In addition to learning that I need God and I need to learn to reach out to other people -- 
 I believe that God has been teaching me to persevere through my struggles and to endure through hard times. 

Perseverance: continuance in a state of grace to the end, leading to eternal salvation.
Perseverancesteady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.

Endurance: The act, quality, or power of withstanding hardship or stress.

There have been so many times I have wanted to sit in bed and not face the day -- but I have gotten out of bed, gotten dressed and faced the day anyway.  
There have been many days that I have cried and cried, but I have pulled myself together, sought help and guidance and moved forward. I have endured the hardships and persevered with God's help. 

Shawn and I have set goals -- we talk about the future and we are moving forward each and everyday.
However, it's important to note that we are moving forward with God's help and provision.   

I believe that aside from my own situation and life that endurance and perseverance can apply to nearly every facet of everyday life for everyone. 


Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. 

Romans 5:3-4

Where can you use a little more endurance and perseverance in your life?