Live Every Day Loving and Being Loved

A lot has been happening in the last couple weeks! We moved some of my things up to my new condo, my grandmother turned 80, and we’ve had lots of family in town! I love that we got to end my time at home, and my eight month “spiritual retreat” with a bang.

Having family around, is one of the most crazy, fun, and tiring things ever. And with my family, it is anything but quiet. We’re loud, we love food, and the conversations are ever filled with laughter. It makes my heart so full. What makes your heart feel full?

Something else that made my heart so happy is the surprise party for my grandma who is EIGHTY! Holy wow, when did that happen?? We’ve had this secret planned for like five months, and we got her good! She had no idea! And she couldn’t believe we did it.

On a side note…. does this woman look eighty???

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Also, this is the best picture I had with them all night considering I was behind the camera most of the time and my mom doesn’t like using my “fancy camera.” HA!

Point being, just having all the attention on her and celebrating was great. But my favorite part of the night was after we’d played her a video of everyone who couldn’t be there (she loved it)!

I went and asked my grandpa what he thought of the video. And he sat silent for a second only to say, well it was good. But, November 18th, 1956 was the best day of my life. (It’s their anniversary). He followed that by saying it is going to be 61 years this November, and that he’s thankful to be here, and that this year is better than last.

Two things about this, this man does not get emotional. He loves his wife, kids, and family, but he’s not always one to be sappy. I think his 82 years has brought that out of him.

But the second on is that last year, he was in the hospital, for a few weeks, and came out of that weak. We all weren’t sure if that would be the last times we got to spend with him. His first few days were spent there, while my other family was in town for my grandma’s birthday.

He talked a lot to my mom about how he felt bad for ruining the day for her. When we all got home that night before her birthday, I stayed up late making her a cake, that I know, that next day when she blew out the candles, even without her saying so, she wished for him to get better.

My grandparents have never really been outwardly affectionate people, but those few moments of little notions of love (deeper than you can post about on Facebook), are the ones that fill my heart with the fondest memories.

I know that someday they will not be with us anymore, but I hope I can live a long happy life, where I can look back and say that my wedding day, and every day since, has been among the best days of my life.

Friends, our time is short. But I want you to know today, that you are loved. So so loved.

“For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” -John 3:16-

XOXO,

Alie

Faith Over Fear

Lately I’ve been really focusing on giving my fears to the Lord. Because friends, I am a worry wart. I didn’t really used to think so, because I do trust the Lord’s plan and I know he’ll guide my path.

BUT I’m talking about the everyday worry. The what if worry. The ridiculous thoughts that control your emotions type of worry. The waste your time throughout the day worries. The ones that usually don’t even matter. I have stuff that will creep in my head and grow to be huge issues because I LET THEM. Instead of just giving them to the Lord and living for today!

So today, I decided to share some of the things I worry about with you, (seriously don’t laugh) some are big, some small, some that are genuine fears in my heart of hearts.

Though not to belittle them, I trust god right? Right! So I shouldn’t feel the need to stress or worry myself silly over these things!

-Afraid of being not good enough or looking silly while doing something. (This is something I work at daily, not worrying what other people think, because most of the time they aren’t even paying attention to me at all- in the negative way I perceive it that is)

-Afraid of not being able to have children someday. Am I ready for that? No. Am I married? No. I just have always wanted them, so it’s things I think about. (And in my heart of hearts I know, if I can’t physically have them, there are plenty of other options to extend your family. The lord has a plan)

-Afraid of spiders, snakes, sharks…. (okay this one might seem silly, but fear paralyzes, it is a weapon of the enemy. And sometimes it makes it to where I over think about what’s in the water around me at the beach, and I get out! Also something I’ve been working on!)

-Afraid of darkness while walking, because of stepping on something. Y’all I use my phone flashlight everywhere!!! I don’t know what people did without them. Seriously.

I’ve slowly started realizing that the enemy will do everything he can, to twist God’s promises and word to be something you question, and don’t understand.

I’ve realized how good he is at sending you on a goose chase, for happiness that this world appears to be able to offer. But, it’s when we slow down, take a step back, and realize that God is in control, that there is freedom.

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Freedom from the worry, shame, or guilt. Freedom from the lies of the enemy. Freedom to be happy, and live your life on purpose!

Can I just tell you today that you are loved! There is a plan for you. And yes, there is an enemy that hates you, and will seek to ruin your existence, BUT if you seek truth in the Lord he will answer and rescue you. He will show you your worth. Everyday. Forever.

Can I remind you that if you feel like no one gets it, he will. If you feel lost, he is the light. If you feel hopeless, he gives hope. If you feel dead inside, he is life!

Friend, I encourage you today, talk to Jesus, tell him your fears, big or small. Lean on him, for even the tiniest things, he’s there. He’s waiting, ready to make your fearful heart, into a fearless one!

“for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of Jesus will be saved.'” -Romans 10:13-

XOXO,

Alie

Words That Speak Life

A while back I heard about a study showing that if you write down positive things in your life, things you are thankful for, or just happy things, you’re more likely to be happy and have better health in then. I’ll attach the article here:

http://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier

The great part about this is, that having a thankful heart can truly make you feel so happy for the day you’re about to endure.

I keep a journal with my bible, I write down notes from church, prayers, things I’m thankful for, thoughts, etc. I can’t tell you how much it helps to start writing what you are thankful for. You start to realize there is so much more you have to be thankful for too!

Sure, life isn’t always cupcakes and rainbows, I get that. But people who walk around in the doom and gloom of life, are typically pessimistic people, who tend to look for the bad things.

I’m not going to belittle anyone’s circumstances. Because, life is tough! BUT. You are in control of your attitude! You can choose to be happy, and if you don’t think that’s true. I challenge you to start writing down a list of things you’re thankful for! (And please don’t tell me there are none).

Life is so sweet and precious, and every thing is working for our good. We have a god who tells us so! Here are a few things I am thankful for today:

*The sun rose this morning!

*For my shower, for real y’all. Hot showers are the best. We are so blessed to have running water!

*For family (we currently have family driving from Texas to come see us! How fun!)

*For a job

*For food on my table

*For Coffee, honestly this should’ve been like on this list seven more times.

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*For my car! (Even though the windows in the back don’t work, and the AC is broken. It still works! Praise God!)

*Thankful for Free Will, and the choice to choose God every morning.

Need I keep going? I could all day! There are so many things in our daily life we forget so much about. Like the fact that in some countries they make one to two dollars A DAY doing back breaking labor, where here in America, we could easily spend that, plus some, on 1 coffee. How blessed are we to have that chance!

(But also how cranky are we when they accidentally put 6 pumps of hazelnut and 2 pumps vanilla when we specifically asked for 7 pumps of vanilla and 1 hazelnut?! Being thankful for every aspect of your life will also help you not sweat the small stuff!)

Life is sweet if you remember to think that way!

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” -Psalm 107:1-

Xoxo,

Alie

Loving Yourself

Before I talk about me I just wanted to say a few things I constantly need to remind myself, that maybe someone else needs to hear too. You are beautiful. You are on purpose. You are beautifully and wonderful made.

Though for men it may not need to be the same sentiments. We’ll go with. You are strong. You are built in the image of God. He created you to be love and be loved too.

Lately I’ve been having deep prayer, and just lonnnnng conversations with the lord. Asking him to wash parts of me away that need cleaned.

Some I didn’t even know were there. I’ve been struggling with sin just like anyone else. A few months ago we had a section of sermons for the new year that were about finding the dead places in our hearts, and letting god work what only he can in them.

TRULY letting God into your inner heart and thoughts. And expose what’s in there. Yikes. I know!

Let me tell you what. It’s not always pretty. It’s caused a lot of uncertainty, and a lot of questioning about how I view love. And if I’m really honest. I’ve spent the last couple years looking to the world for that advice.

A world that tells you to be sexy, mysterious, and seductive. That if you don’t have a raging sex life, that you’re doing it wrong. And as a girl who has struggled with insecurities, sometimes you just don’t feel sexy. Or beautiful. Or like anyone could feel that way about you.

These last few months, of being on my what I like to call, a spiritual retreat. God has opened my heart to the fact that he designed love, sex, and marriage to be so much more than the lies that this world whispers.

He’s built and designed it to be beautiful. Within the constraints of marriage. He’s designed a husband and wife to love him first. To know that he loves each of us, as we are created in his likeness. And to know that this life will not be easy. But with him we can do ALL THINGS. In him we can be STRONG AND COURAGEOUS. Through him, we can love, and be loved. Through him, all sins and stray thoughts can be controlled and forgiven.

He has also shown me, that sometimes forgiving yourself can be the hardest of all….

On the days you don’t feel worthy of the things or people he’s placed in your life. On the days you feel less than good. He’s shown me that there truly is an enemy of our souls. Who comes to do NOTHING but steal, kill, and destroy. He wants you to feel alone, and like no one could possibly love or forgive you.

Can I tell you he’s wrong? And the crazy thing. He KNOWS he’s wrong, but he doesn’t care. He’ll use any excuse to twist gods promises, and make them seem like you have no hope of being forgiven, saved, or worthy.

Friends, if you’re in a season of change, and you feel like you’re just clawing your way through the mud. Keep going! Fix your eyes on the creator who created you to be like him! Remember that you can choose joy, even when you don’t feel it. You can take control of your emotions and focus on the true promises. Read your bible, they are there!

And a few reminders that I’ve been telling myself lately.

-It’s okay to not have the answers.

-It’s okay to feel like you aren’t perfect (news flash you aren’t)!

-You don’t owe anyone an explanation, or excuse.

-Sometimes you’ve got to retreat, and pray it out.

-Getting out the icky parts, is not at all fun, but it produces the overflowing healing tears that bring a new hope.

Friends I pray that if you’re in that season. Of needing to be cleaned. Or forgiven. Ask! And you’ll see you already have been! Just like that! Grace is pretty amazing that way.

Just remember. You have to forgive yourself too.

You are worth it.

“But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household we will serve the Lord.” -Joshua 24:15-

Xoxo,

Alie

Enough.

Lately I have seen a lot of heavy hurting hearts. Looking for love in ALL the wrong places. I can’t tell you how sad it makes me. Not because I’ve never done it. (Because I have.) But because I wish I could show you your value! You are enough. Period. You are good enough, smart enough, beautiful enough, strong enough, bold enough. You are enough because He is enough. You have someone who loves you beyond anything you could ever dream. A good, good father, who created us to be like Him. To love Him, to be close to Him. He created us to Love and be loved.

If you are out there today, and you are hurt. That boy never called back, that girl doesn’t feel the same. Your mom or dad is not in the picture when they should be. Someone has let you down time and time again. Your over it, done, beaten, worn down. Can I tell you, I’ve been there? Can I tell you it gets better!

Friend, can I tell you, that we are all human. And relying on humans…someone will ALWAYS let you down. BUT, take heart, because we have Jesus, someone who loves us, and protects our hearts. Who will never let us down. There will be trial and heartache in the world. But lean on Jesus. Let Him tell you that you are enough. Let Him show you that He is enough.

That empty hole inside you, that you can’t seem to find anything to fill…no matter how hard we try. Let the Holy Spirit fill it, and let God fill your heart with Joy. Pure JOY!

Friend of mine, can I just tell you. You are beloved. You are beautiful. You are on purpose. You are worthy. You are enough. SAYING LOUD FOR THE PEOPLE IN THE BACK!

YOU     ARE    LOVED!!!

This song I’ve been holding close to my heart today… it’s a good one. Hopefully it’ll encourage someone like it does me.

 

“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.” -Psalm 55:22-

XOXO,

Alie

Coming Home

Home. Sometimes it’s not only a place, but a feeling. Coming home means peace, finding rest, and comfort. Coming home from college, years of crazy roommates, tiny beds, walls that are boring, that you try to make your own for the time being…

My house, always the comfortable place, the place I could breathe, and relax, be myself. Not that I couldn’t in the other places, it was just familiar. I think we all know that feeling. I long to give my children that feeling someday. To be the place they love to come home to.

Another place I’ve reminded myself feels just like home lately is the feet of Jesus. I’ve spent a good majority of the last seven months on a spiritual retreat, of sorts. Just talking to God, finding, and trying, to follow His will for my life. This has let to some very uncomfortable days, weeks, and months. Some tough conversations with people I love, and distance with others. I’m still not one hundred percent sure where I am going, I only have a sliver of the destination.

But, over these last seven months, I’ve learned so much about myself. Though, church and the Lord have always been a big part of my life, I have reminded myself that He is the Good, Good Father. And, that through him all things are possible. I have learned that as much as I love feeling that earthly feeling of “home.” That my true home awaits me in heaven. This is NOT my home. (Though, enjoying what he gave us here on earth is wonderful too, we need to realize this is all temporary).

I challenge you today, that if you need that place of rest, and comfort. Solitude. Find Jesus, and sit at His feet. Talk to Him, get to know His plan for your life. You will not be disappointed. He will never let you down, he will give you such Joy! Seek his kingdom, and the ways of this culture will fade away. Find your way home. You’ll be SO glad you did!

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

-Matthew 11:28-

XOXO,

Alie

 

It’s Not a Diet, It’s a Lifestyle

So here’s a not so little secret about me if you know literally anything about me, I love to take pictures of my food. Almost as much as I love to eat it. Though over the last five or six years my family and I have learned so much more about nutrition! I’m no expert by any means, and I can still shamelessly eat an entire bag of chips (I think it runs in the family). I’m not a huge fan of people who don’t like the dessert menu at restaurants, and I totally believe no matter how full you feel, there’s a separate place for desserts in the stomach!  However, I’m also not a fan of people who really don’t have a reality about nutrition, or who make excuses as to why they eat poorly. SO…Without further ado here’s some actual truth to regard before you talk about how healthy something is, or try to give me excuses as to why eating healthy is hard! (Because like most things in life it isn’t easy!).

Just because something is gluten-free or organic doesn’t make it automatically healthy! Shocker, I know, but y’all they have organic Doritos! Like what? No one would say that chips are really a healthy choice, unless they are buying the fancy super expensive organic chips. And in some ways I think it just makes us feel better. What we should realize is our diet should be otherwise good enough that when you want to splurge and eat chips (or fill in the blank with your go-to-snack) that you’re not worried about healthy junk food  there’s not such thing. If you’re going to eat it, go for it and don’t tell me how healthy your organic, non GMO, gluten-free chips are, please!

Calories DO NOT matter! If you are truly eating the whole foods that are good for your body, the actual number of calories you intake is not nearly as important! This is because when you’re eating fruits, veggies, meats, and nuts there are not nearly as many things outrageously high in calories. So again, those 100 calories packs of paper thin cookies that you feel like eating ten thousand of because you’re starving, pass and grab something that will have lasting energy!

Healthy food CAN and DOES taste good. PERIOD. I’m so sick and tired of the “I’m on a diet so I am eating celery and drinking a gallon of water for the entire day” nonsense! Ever heard of seasonings? Or I don’t know veggies that you actually like? If you don’t like at least one vegetable, you’re doing it wrong. Healthy food does NOT have to be boring or bland in flavor!! (Saying it loud for the people in the back)!

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Almost a weeks worth of lunches full of flavor and good stuff! All of this was made of one pan in the oven. With prep and cook time, took maybe an hour and a half!

Healthy food really isn’t more expensive. Make your food count! Do so by eating more whole foods (and no, whole pizzas don’t count…most days). It really isn’t any more expensive if you are buying it IN PLACE OF the other junk! You aren’t supposed to buy double to the food, you are supposed to CHANGE what you are buying! Shocking. I KNOW.

“I don’t have time to eat healthy or make meals” MALARKEY. Instead of buying a bunch of highly processed pre-made dinners, try cooking something in advance, or plan time to make good choices. If time is the issue, then set aside time. Y’all… what you put into your body is important. The last couple weeks I’ve needed to take my own advice on this subject! If you want healthy results it takes discipline and time. I know you don’t like to tell yourself no…but someone has to?

Realize the this is not a “Diet” it is embracing a new Lifestyle. Dieting is associated with quick fix, lose weight fast, quick fixer food. It usually has a lot of weird rules of things you can or can’t eat. Cinderella story anyone? “The Norwegian Salmon diet?” Yeah, because that’s healthy? But how many people do we know who do these weird things!? One guy came through my line buying two huge bags of juicing apples, and so I asked him if he was going to juice them? He responded with no, I’m on an apple only diet and I’ve already lost 20 pounds in four days! Um…duh, you aren’t getting any nutrition!!! Eating healthier is an active on going, choice, find the things that are worth splurging on, and the things that aren’t. Chances are, like our family, once you get good things going in your life food wise, all the junk won’t sound as good. Highly processed things will taste that way! You’ll prefer the better choices!

Most of all this was just as much of a reminder for me as hopefully it can help someone else. The last few weeks have been busy and it is easy to get off track, but we still manage to have healthy meals majority of the time. Even when I am on my own away at school cooking healthy meals was a big part of living better, being happier, and feeling proud of my semi-adult self. Your body will thank you, your hormones will thank you, and YOU will thank you! When you put good into your body, it will give you benefits threefold! Even when it is hard, push on! Do everything you do for the glory of the one who made you! Who gave you this wonderful body!

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own.” -1 Corinthians 6:19-

XOXO,

Alie

Monday Yellows

Ah, Monday, something our society has so quickly made the enemy of the week! The beginning of the end of the weekend which is oh so fabulous! Well let me tell you what, it’s Monday, it is currently around 5:30 am. And I’ve been up since 4:30. Don’t get me wrong waking up isn’t the easiest at this early (regardless of being a morning person). But every day is a gift, every day you have the choice to choose your attitude for another day, and every day you’re given is so so good. So instead of your typical “Monday Blues” or instead of sharing that oh so cute “Monday’s stink” meme, why don’t we stop and appreciate the day we are so blessed to have. Not everyone woke up this morning, be thankful you did!

I challenge you today and every Monday to wake up and experience what we can call the “Monday Yellows,” (or at least the concept of it) the Monday that says Good Morning world I’m coming for ya! The Monday that is life giving, and that makes your day a good day no matter what the day of week may be called.

See, we can find the bad reasons so easily, why we shouldn’t be awake yet, how it’s still dark, etc etc. How about we be the one who searches for the good reasons! I don’t have ac in my car, so early mornings mean cooler air! I get coffee, one of my favorite parts of morning. I have a job that is rewarding, and at times fun (I know shocking, but it’s attitude not circumstance). I have another day to bring joy to my little corner of the world, or at least try! Regardless, of how hard some days feel to find the good things… find one. I mean anything. Dig to the bottom of that one small positive thing, and speak life to it. Be thankful for it, and slowly it’ll be easier to find them. It’s the little things y’all! Make those Monday Yellows bright and sunny! Be joyful and happy! Choose Joy!

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-“Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength” Nehemiah 8:10b-

XOXO,

Alie

 

NOLA

Two of my favorite things coffee, and food. NOLA already was capturing my foodie heart. Authentic Red Beans and Rice the night before. Chicory Coffee, and a plate full of beignets in the morning. The air smells of, well, NOLA. Which is mostly a smell of the after mass of the nights before, mixed with Pinesol to mask the odor. If you aren’t sure, you’ll know what I mean if you walk down Bourbon street in the morning time!

Today, I was reminiscing the road trip we had last summer, and all the fun that came with two weeks trapped in a car with some of the people you love. Everyone said we were crazy, or that we’d kill each other before the two weeks was up! BUT, we had SO MUCH FUN! I still find myself dreaming of another road trip, to more new places. More crazy food, more coffee, more laughs, more fun.

For those who don’t know much about me or my family, we love food! Trying new food, finding the best food, but mostly, the family time that is associated with dinner time, and family meals around a table. I looked forward to those times as a kid, as a teenager after school, a college kid home for the weekend, and still now as a soon to be grad student. Family time is my favorite time. Immediate family, distant family, extended family, non-biological friends made into family. I don’t care. Sharing food with the people you love is the best. Some of my favorite memories are made at the table. Wherever that table may be! So here’s to more food and travels, more memories, laughs, and dinners together. Let your heart dream of the things that make you feel happy! What is the thing that you hold so dearly? What are your favorite memories made of? Let this summer be full of them!

-“We love because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19-

XOXO,

Alie

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