Monday, November 30, 2015

to retreat.

Luke 5:16 "But He would withdraw to desolate places and pray."

I love Christmas, but if I'm honest I would have to say that it makes me feel anxious and overwhelmed. I've realized the reason for that overwhelm is because of the culture's view of Christmas, and not Christmas itself. Making a budget for Christmas gifts alone is enough to make that anxiety flare up. Then there is all of the decorating, shopping, wrapping, family gatherings, packed weekends with events to attend, etc. Pretty soon I can become a frazzled mess exhibiting zero characteristics of the King I claim to serve.

So last year, I claimed a low key Christmas for our household. We spent less money and time on decorating, pinterest-worthy gifts, and having a packed schedule. Instead, we intentionally carved out some white space in our December. I took some time to dig deeper into Christmas by doing an advent devotional, spending time in prayer, and even creative writing. All of these things helped my conversations, thoughts, and heart focus completely on Jesus.

That low key Christmas is exactly what I needed, and I can honestly say that I felt lighter during the month, and I felt rested after the holidays were over. I also left the holiday season with a hunger for the Word. It was the first Christmas where I really feel like my heart got it.

As the holidays are approaching, I want to keep a low key Christmas as my practice to remind myself of that first low key Christmas long ago. I wonder if you are feeling heavy and weighted down as Christmas is approaching this year? I encourage you to take some time to retreat and focus your heart back on Jesus. Spend some time in scripture, praying, and meditating on who Jesus is this year.

We are told in scripture that Jesus would often retreat to pray and be alone with His Father. How much more do we need to withdraw and spend intentional time with the Lord? If you're anything like me, by the end of the year your soul needs rest. Let it rest in Him.

Jesus came to literally be with us and walk among us. He was all in. As this advent season begins, let's be all in this year. Don't be afraid to say no to some events or traditions, so you can say yes to Him!

what does retreating look like for you this Christmas season?

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

dixie's corner | what i'm thankful for

last week my mom shared a thanksgiving acrostic poem, and i thought that was a pretty good idea! as a dog, i don't do a whole lot of thinking about what i'm thankful for. i normally just take every day as it comes and don't do a whole lot of reflecting. 

but this year, recovering from my surgery i've been laying around more than normal. (i know that's hard to imagine!) and during this time i've been doing some thinking, mostly about how i'm glad this mass is gone from my foot, and how i wish mom would stop telling me not to lick my incision. the thing itches, okay mom? but i know she just means well. so i thought i'd make a poem like she did!

Treats, and tons of them!
Hugs from my parents & grandparents!
A comfy serta to lay on! (this is very important because i do a lot of laying!)
New chew toys, like this Benebone Wishbone chew toy (pictured below)!
Kisses, giving them & getting them!
Food that my parents leave laying within my reach!
Understanding parents when i steal their food! ;)
Long hikes and adventures with my people!

so, that's what i'm thankful for, this year and every year!

i received the Benebone wishbone compliments of for review purposes. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

the great lake erie

the cool thing about my business trip from last month is that the office is only an hour drive from Lake Erie! i mean Cleveland is cool and all, but the real reason we drove up there was to see the lake! it's the only Great Lake i've ever seen, and Thomas had only seen it in the snow so it was cool to be up there without snow on the ground! (although it was 32 degrees and super windy!)

we went to a few different places on the lake while we were up there. we made it the first night just in time for the sunset at Huntington Beach. the next morning we went back to Huntington Beach to get some pictures and there was a guy and his dog playing frisbee out on the beach. i love Huntington Beach because there's a really cool view of the city in the background! 

Thomas found this other place on the way into Cleveland called Edgewater park where we stopped to watch the waves crash against the rocks and hang out with the seagulls. there were tons of seagulls just flying around in the sun and over the city scape. it was kinda dreamy and tons of fun for this animal lover! 

how many of the Great Lakes have you seen?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

the circle | thanksgiving acrostic poem

remember back in elementary school when the cafeteria served pizza? it was always the best day of the week! but if you think about it, when we were kids... pizza days were just given to us & we didn't really have any say in it. now that we're older, we are able to create our own "pizza days" that can be the best day of our week! and that's pretty cool too! or maybe that's just me trying to convince myself that i don't miss being a kid!

and do you also remember acrostic poems from elementary school? where you use each letter of a word to begin a line of a poem? well, that is Kiki's prompt for The Circle this month and i just think it is so fun! i have always loved cute little poems & kinda wish i got to spend all day doing fun stuff like this again! so, here's to creating my own "pizza day" & having child-like fun again! 

Thomas comes to mind first when i think about what i'm thankful for
Having family and friends to go through life with.
An ability to make pretty things and craft words together.
New experiences and adventures.
Knowing how amazing chai tea lattes taste. ;)
Furry little animals, especially our basset, our elder rabbit, and our baby holland lop Finn
Unconditional love from God who showers us with grace upon grace.
Little things in life like lazy mornings, cuddles, and a good cup of coffee.

so tell me, what are you most thankful for?

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

a bunny named Finn

this past weekend, we added another bunny to our family! ever since the first time i laid eyes on a holland lop, i've thought they were super adorable. and it worked out that we were able to get one, so i jumped at the chance!

it all started when Thomas brought up that he'd like to keep Albus the bunny outside. i don't really like the idea, but it would no doubt make things a lot easier, so i agreed on the condition that Albus could get a friend. and Thomas obliged.

so, we researched how to bond rabbits, and then we started looking around for holland lop breeders. we found one in North Carolina and started the journey to Finn becoming our newest pet!

he is a blue eyed white holland lop and i just think it's so cool that some rabbits have blue eyes! they are super pretty with his white coat and he is just so cute with his lop ears and smooshed face. he was 8 weeks old when we got him and he is so tiny!

it worked out really well that we were able to get him this weekend because i'm off work this week and will be able to spend lots of time with him! we had a really fun weekend hanging out and getting cute pictures of him! and i'm even taking him to meet my coworkers one day this week. 

we named our first bunny after Harry Potter characters, so we decided we'd keep that same tradition. we decided on Finnigan Hedwig as his full name. Finnigan comes from Seamus Finnigan, and Hedwig is Harry's snowy owl. we will call him Finn for short! :)

Thursday, November 12, 2015

writing | on waiting

Chelsea over at The Girl Who Loved to Write does a post series called just write, where she writes short little rhyming poems that just flow so perfectly. i love when she posts a new one because poems just make my heart so happy. seriously, the other day i was just reading back through her entire series and wished i could comment the heart eyed emoji on every single one. so it inspired me to try my hand at my own poems! i may post these periodically whenever inspiration strikes! :)


you spend your whole life waiting
but for what, you do not know
what you're waiting for constantly changes
like the seasons, sunshine to snow

you can never appreciate the moment
because of the longing deep inside
and so you spend your time waiting
as life quickly passes by

as one dream comes to fruition
a new one is birthed that same day
so you start to chase after this next dream
yes, you're already on your way

you don't even realize that you're missing
the sweet slow time in between
somehow you have it in your head
that you must always be chasing the unseen

but what if you just took some time
to reflect on & appreciate all that you had
what if you stopped longing for the next big thing
and realized life right here, right now isn't all that bad

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

halloween hiking

we don't get trick-or-treaters on halloween because we live on a busy, curvy road that is impossible to walk down. so while we don't have kids to take trick-or-treating, we escape to the mountains for the day. it's nice because it's not super crowded, and there are still lots of pretty leaves on the trees.

it's so nice to get out and enjoy the fresh air and the cool temps that have finally arrived in the south! even though it takes almost the whole day when we venture to the mountains, it's definitely a day well spent! we went on a short hike to Moore Cove Falls which is a waterfall that you can actually walk behind. it's not a super impressive waterfall by any means, but the fact that you can walk behind it Last of the Mohicans style makes it pretty darn cool!

after our hike, we drove up to Black Mountain, NC to go to this cool coffee shop Thomas found called the Dripolator. only to find out that they close early on halloween so our plans were foiled. however, we had fun walking around the small town and seeing all of the kids trick-or-treating at the places that were open! and that just means we will have to visit again when the coffee shop is open!

do you have any out-of-the-norm halloween traditions?

Monday, November 09, 2015

easy ways to beat stress

i don't know about you, but stress seems to have been a constant theme in my life the past few years with college, planning a wedding, and now a stressful full time job. i said a few weeks ago that i am done with stress ruling my life. so i've been doing a lot of thinking about what that will really look like. in addition to focusing on Jesus, there are little habits i can instill to make sure that it doesn't completely take over again. 

i know these may sound obvious, but i need little reminders like this all the time. sometimes when i'm really stressed i don't think about obvious ways to help reduce the stress in the moment. it's one thing to know it and another to do it. so the more reminders i get the better! :)

i also realized a few weeks ago that i haven't taken more than 1 day off of work at a time since May 2014. that's a year and a half without a decent vacation from work. and since this past year and a half has been super crazy at work, it's no wonder that i've been so stressed out. so, i am taking a full week off of work this month and taking some time for self care and rest. and i'll definitely be instilling these 5 things into my week!


1) exercise
instead of spending our energy on stressing, we should spend it on exercising. exercise releases endorphins that make us feel better and more positive. plus if we exercise regularly, we'll be too tired to be stressed out ;) if we exercise outside, it's even better because we get that extra endorphin release and vitamin D from the sun! 

2) pray
i don't mean for us to just pray to God for the stress to be taken away, but spending time in prayer regularly. when we pray, we're focused on God and it takes our focus off of whatever is stressing us out. praying also invites us to change our perspective from our self-centered nature to seeing things as God does. which can do wonders for reducing stress! ;)

3) getting away
whether it's taking a walk, taking some vacation days off work, or actually getting out of town for the weekend... taking a step back from the daily routine really helps to relive stress and get a fresh perspective. it's called "getting out of dodge" for a reason! ;) it's not good to always run away from our problems, but every once in a while it is needed.

4) eating healthy
i think this one is obvious, but it's a good reminder because when we're stressed, we're tempted to go for fast and convenient over nutritional. foods high in fat actually lower our energy levels, raise our cholesterol, and do tons of harmful things to our bodies. stress actually makes us crave junk food and sweets, but in the long run they make us feel worse. so it's good to remind myself to use these other methods of reducing stress, rather than resorting to addictive junk food.

5) coloring
yes, coloring! it isn't just for kids! lately i've taken to coloring and it has been very therapeutic. sometimes i'll color while we watch tv, or i'll just color and listen to music. it gets my whole self concentrated on something else and the stress goes away for a little while. it is also nice to just focus on something so simple for a bit!

it's even better when i can combine multiple ways at once. like two weekends ago when Thomas & i escaped to the woods to hike & then spent some time coloring in the great outdoors. or at least i did the coloring! ;) another way to combine these is to color a scripture based coloring book. like this one pictured, Heroines of the Old Testament! i love that something simple like coloring can incorporate scripture and that i can focus on the truth of these women's faith while coloring! there are also so many details in these drawings that it's like coloring in stained glass!

i've been super into coloring lately & it really has helped me to just relax and let my mind take a break from the worries of the day. i am definitely set on the coloring front because i bought a Lisa Frank coloring book a few months ago, then i won an adult coloring book in a giveaway, and i've pre-ordered the Harry Potter coloring book that's coming out tomorrow! because i will never be too old for Harry Potter! ;)

how do you take care of yourself & reduce stress?

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Cleveland, Canton, and Canal Fulton

in October my company sent me up to our Ohio office for a business trip. i found out about it a week before i had to go, so it was kinda last minute but Thomas was able to take off work and come with me! so, we went up the weekend before and had a mini-vacation of sorts. 

it had been in the 80s still in SC, so i was all excited for amazing fall weather like when i went up there 2 years ago.... but it ended up being in the 30s during the weekend! it actually sleeted a little bit while we were driving up to Cleveland, so there's that. but it was still a welcome break from the hot weather! the leaves were really pretty on the trees & it did warm up to the 60s so we had great weather during the week. 

i was thinking about all of the places we went and realized that Ohio must be obsessed with C's or something. we drove up friday night and stayed in Cincinnati, then passed through Columbus on our way to Cleveland on Saturday. my office is in Canton so we stayed there during the week, and drove over to Canal Fulton one night. we did end up driving through Akron too just to visit at least one city without a C name! ;)

while we were in Cleveland, we went to this outdoor shopping center called Crocker Park and it is just the cutest thing! it even has wizard chess outside that you can play! we also visited the James Garfield memorial which you can go to the top of and see an awesome view of the city. so that was really neat! in the same cemetery there's a chapel that is filled with Tiffany glass so we saw that also! and since we were in Cleveland, we drove by the A Christmas Story house!

there's a lot of cool little shops near the office in Canton, but not much to see in the city itself. we did drive by the Football Hall of Fame while we were there though. i guess that is Canton's claim to fame! Canal Fulton is a little town next to Canton that is along the Ohio and Erie canal so we drove there to walk around one night. it's just a small little town and there is even a tea room there called The Dragonfly so i felt like i was in Stars Hollow for a moment. it was magical! :)

have you ever visited Ohio? what's your favorite part of the state?