New Year, New Goals

Happy New Year, everyone!

I hope your holidays were full of fun, love, and peace these past couple of months. I have been quite busy myself with work and the holidays, but it is nice to take a moment just to sit and think.

Like many other people, the year of 2016 has been a pretty crazy one for me. I had a stressful time with school, I struggled with food, and I was overcoming some insecurities. To top it off, this year was pretty crazy with the national election and not really knowing how to process many of the things done and said by people close to me.

However, there have been many good things that have happened this year. I graduated college with my Bachelor’s of Science, Mr. Yell and I have started new camping adventures and rescued a cat, and I started a new job which I love. Personally, I have overcome many fears and issues that developed in my heart and mind, and overcoming those alone are enough for me to celebrate this year.

With all that being said, I have been trying to think of a new “Word of the Year” for 2017. If you have been following me for a little while, you know that last year my word was “Kind”. I wanted desperately to work on being kind to myself and to others. I believe that over the course of the year I was stretched in this area in many ways and that having the simple mantra of “kindness” helped me to remember my goal for the year.

This year there are so many things I want to accomplish. I want to love more, learn valuable skills at my job, be warm and encouraging, and I want to be content with life. After thinking about the things I hope to accomplish in 2017, the word “Peace” has been laid on my heart.

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I need to find peace in the busy moments.

I need to seek peace in times of anger or sadness.

I need to have peace with what I am doing and how I am able to do it at a point in time.

Peace is what I need to seek.

After about a week of praying and thinking, I am learning that this type of peace comes from wisdom. A righteous, pure, wisdom is what brings true peace.

James 3:13-18

13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth.15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving,considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.18 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

I hope you will join me this year as I yearn to remember peace in my life and peace in my relationships with others. I hope that I can live by the wisdom the Lord gives. I pray that the simple word of “peace” will bring to mind what wisdom looks like for this upcoming year.

Bring it on 2017, I am ready for ya.

Much love. Much grace.

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Married Christmas

I am loving this Christmas season! I mean I do every year, so that isn’t much of a surprise. I just really love the holidays. I love the decorations, the food, and all the joy. Around Thanksgiving and Christmas, I feel like the joy is just contagious and people can’t help but to feel a bit of happiness.

This Christmas marks Mr. Yell and I’s second holiday season as a family and it has already been such fun! Yes; the holidays are always stressful trying to figure out whose house to go to and what times we need to see everyone; but this year has still been wonderful. This year we decided to dive into the Christmas spirit by making some new Yell family traditions. Making these traditions has been one of my favorite parts of being a “newlywed”. By making these fun little things to do each year, we feel like we are becoming more like our own little family and it literally makes me giggle with excitement!

It’s been an interesting process trying to find things we want to carry over from our own families into our new one. My family has several traditions that I have enjoyed putting into Mr. Yell and mine’s holidays; and Zach has some new ones he has invented for us to do.

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Decorating for Christmas

Mr. Yell and I started decorating the Saturday right after Thanksgiving. We put up Christmas lights, decorated our (live!) Christmas tree, and decorated the kitchen with cute little towels and other little Christmas things. It has been such fun getting to decorate together in our new home and it looks so cozy now! We even managed to get Mru, our cat, a little stocking for Christmas this year. Too cute, right? 😉

12 Dates of Christmas

This year we each created 6 different dates and put them into envelopes. Each day that we open an envelope, we get a surprise date that is Christmas themed. It has been such fun so far! Some of our dates have included: driving to see Christmas lights, getting hot chocolate from Starbucks, and …

Christmas Party

For the past couple of years Mr. Yell and I have hosted a small Christmas party in our home. It is a fun time of sharing Christmas cheer and just spending time with friends before the holidays. It also helps me get some good practice on making Christmas goodies and deserts!

I hope this Christmas season fills you with warmth and love and joy.

Much love. Much grace.

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Be Encouraged.

When I started this blog, I intended to let it be an outlet for my thoughts and feelings. I wanted to encourage people; to let them know that there are people who struggle with life and the crazy things that happen. To balance the negativity and bring forth light and joy.

My life has not always been happy, joyful, or loving. And at times it is very hard to be that way. It is a hard job being encouraging in a world full of discouraging and judgmental people.

To all my fellow encouragers out there:

YOU CAN DO THIS.

Seriously. You can. I know how it feels, you are constantly encouraging others to embrace who they are, be confident, and to feel loved; and sometimes you don’t have enough encouragement left over for yourself. You can feel left out or forgotten at times, and that is normal. Because, like I said… being encouraging is hard. It takes work, discipline, and optimism that most people don’t have in our culture or in our world today.

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Friends, when I was a teen, life as an encourager was really hard for me. I loved writing as a child and up until my Sophomore year, I believed I was good enough to use writing as a talent to help others. I would write notes and letters, both signed and anonymous, to random people who needed a little extra loving. I would give them to teachers, peers, family… anyone who I felt like needed a happy note.

Then my Sophomore year of high school I took an English/Literature class at a new school. My teacher told me repeatedly that I was a horrible writer, that I had neither skill nor talent, and how I could only coast through her class with a C at best.

Talk about rough.

There I was, new kid in school with no friends, family, or connections and I was being put down by someone I believed could be on my side. Like I said, rough.

For two years I struggled with writing papers in every class. I stopped writing letters and I would stress so much over papers that I would have stomach aches.

Then my freshman year of college, I began writing again. I started to journal every week. Slowly working up to multiple times a week, gaining confidence and just enjoying writing my thoughts on paper.

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Guys, that has morphed into what I am doing today. No, this blog is not famous. The average views my posts get is around 30-60 each week. I don’t even own my domain name. But I am able to sit down, type out about a page and a half, and then post for the entire world to read. I share my emotions, thoughts, and struggles through this blog, and these sometimes intimate details are here to stay on the internet… Forever.

I guess what I am saying is this: just because someone tells you that you don’t have skills, talent, or any way of succeeding does not mean that person is right. Even if that person is a mentor, leader, expert, or well-liked.

You do what you have to in order to do what you love. Take a chance and don’t worry about how others view your talents (or lack-thereof).

You’ve got this.
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Needing Contentment

“I just want to see you content”

Seven words. Words that cut me to the core, and yet are loving at the same time. A phrase that says, “hey, I not only care about you, but I want to see you happy where you are and with what you have.”

But that word… Content… it is just so foreign.

I need more. More time. More money. More friends. More sucess. More adventures.

“Content” and “more” don’t go together. A person can’t live with both.

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I have been struggling with wanting to go to a new place to live for a while now. With marrying Mr. Yell and seeing most of our friends leave, it has been very hard to stay in our small town. I have been angry, jealous, and hurt; with myself for graduating late, and with God for not taking us to another place. He has been silent for almost a year now; and that has been the hardest thing to experience.

Then just this week my husband said something that woke me up. It made me rethink this past year’s emotions, complications, and stress.

“I just want to see you content.”

That’s it. That was the moment I realized that maybe, God wasn’t silent, at least not at first. Instead of listening to what He wanted me to do, I have been trying to push myself to do things that I feel I need to do. Things that will make me likable, smarter, or bring my life more meaning. I have been trying to make my life “better”, when instead I just  needed to learn how to be content.

Contentment is hard, guys. So hard. It is very hard to live in a world that is built on comparing ourselves to others and yet seek contentment. It is hard to see people in your same place in life who seem like they are doing it all, or that they are more likeable or needed or whatever. But can I just say that finding a way to be content is just so much better?

Even if you aren’t a believer in Christ, I challenge you just to take this week and find ways not to want more.  I want you to think about the things and people you have, and I want you to think everyday that you have enough. That you are fine where you are, and that the desire for more is not needed. For me, this is made infinitely easier when I remember that my relationship with God is all I need. I can lose everything and still know that He is good. He is enough.

This year has been rough, that is for sure. But this week has been the best week I have had in such a long time just on the basis of seeking contentment. I am learning, like I am sure much of you are, that I am pretty enough, strong enough, smart enough, loved enough, and happy enough.

I am doing my best to help those in need and make the part of the world I am in a brighter place to be. And that thought can only come from being content.

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Friends, are you content? If it means anything… I not only think you can be, but I want to see that happen for you.

Much love. Much grace.

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Little Things

Life is hard.

There is no doubt about it. Sometimes it feels like life is not just handing you lemons, but continually slapping you with those lemons… in the face… for no reason.

At least that is how it has been feeling for me for about a month now. I have had so many issues with my schooling, emotions, and just finding joy in general. I have just been feeling like I was being continually washed in sadness, despair, and hopelessness. There was no end in sight, no reason to be positive or optimistic. Basically, I was “Sadness” from the new movie Inside Out… (like, you-will-have-to-drag-me-everywhere sadness.) 

Not a pretty mental picture.

But you know what… there are so many other things to be than sad. So many more places to be, people to greet, and things to be thankful for.

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In honor of life’s disappointments (not just mine, but maybe your’s too?) I’ve made a list of all the great things in life. Maybe not all, but four sounds like a great place to start. So be sure to enjoy:

Life’s Little Goodies

1.) I am alive.
        Honestly, you and I are both breathing and our hearts are beating right now. This moment you are having thoughts and living a life (even if you don’t think your life is great.. it’s yours.) We are in this together. I want love and acceptance, and I am betting that you do to. These are facts that we are alive and conscious of our desires and that we have a life to live at this moment. Take a minute and just breathe. Feel your heartbeat and feel thankful for this life.

2.) I can read.
       And yay! So can you! We are the select few in the world who can read about people, events, and emotions. We can interpret squiggles that create stories of adventure or information about the world we live in. Reading helps us to be informed, empathetic, and help those in need. Without the basis of reading, we would be so limited in what we can do to encourage, love, or help others.

3.) I have necessities.
     I not only have water, but food and shelter. No, it’s not a pinterest house and I am not the best at creating art from the food I make, but I am well cared for in all of these physical needs. Not everyone has these things, even in the United States. In fact, about 633,782 people in 2012 were found to be homeless (US Department of Housing and Urban Development) and 17.5 million households are food insecure (Coleman-Jensen 2014b, p1.). This isn’t even the poverty number. Poverty in the United States as of 2013 went up to 45.3 million people…. So to be thankful for the necessities is a big deal.
If you find yourself in need please let me know.

4.) I am so very loved.
    Friends. Please know that you are very deeply loved. I haven’t met you, but know that I love you and want to encourage you to keep going! This life is so hard, but it feels infinitely harder when you feel alone. Know that you are not alone, we are all in this together. While some may want you to fail, or if it just seems that way, others are rooting for you. We want you to do your best and live your best life. You are so loved!

While that may not seem like much… at this moment I know that I am going to make it. I have these four things to get me through.

One more thing, even if you don’t believe in God, I just find these words to be so encouraging:

“Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will praise Him, my Savior, my God”
Psalm 42:5

I love you all so much. Be encouraged.

Much love. Much grace.

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