Thank: Martha, Martha, Martha!

[I pray you are not to young to understand the pun fully intended with this tagline and featured photo..]

Resolution: To read my Bible at least once per week, although more is preferred.

I want to push myself to continue to grow in my walk with God. I want to prepare myself to be a godly wife. I want to know God; who he is, his thoughts, his desires, his commands. I also want to learn to trust Him.

I looked in to a reading plan for the Bible. There are now several verses sent to my email each day which I can read on the train or my down time. These emails help me achieve my goal of ‘at least once per week’ however, I’m still working on making extra time to meditate and fully reflect on the words I read. It’s still a great start to get me in the word.

One story that I came across this week was one which I heard before. This particular week it stuck with me.

Luke 10:38-42
38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

I am Martha. I can see her running around making food for everyone, cleaning the house, going from task to task to make sure everyone else is taken care of. It is in those moments of busy-ness I can see her asking the Lord to command Mary’s help. I feel as though I would be Martha and I would think the same way.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the busy-ness in my life. I am busy because of the many, many blessings and opportunities the Lord has given me. What strikes me about this story is that the Lord was there for Martha to admire and listen to, but she was still in a state of worry about the non-important ‘clutter’ going on. She didn’t make time for the Lord because she put HER to-do list before Him. This is my struggle.

I worry about the chores and the to-do list I have planned for myself; when I’m in a pinch, I choose MY to-do list over reading my Bible or prayer or meditation on the Lord’s word. This selfish choice leaves me feeling empty and frustrated.

My hope over this next year is to be able to keep the story of Martha and Mary in the back of my mind, realize what is really important and know the sometimes the best thing I can do is simply trust God to handle it. That’s not to say I should just sit around and wait to sense a sign from God. I should continue my journey onward, but when I’m in a pinch, and especially when I’m feeling overwhelmed, I would like to keep in mind my takeaway from this story; Trust God. Sometimes that’s all we need to do!

When you’re in a bind, do you make time to seek the Lord or do you struggle through whatever you’re going through and go back to the Lord once you’ve ‘got it figured out’? What are some ways you learned to trust the Lord when busy-ness sets in and the enemy plants feelings of frustration? Let me know your tips in the comments below!

Until Next Time..

 

Thank: Chicago

Hustle and bustle, flashing lights, horns honking, people walking [their dogs], there’s never a dull moment.

Nearly 3 years ago when I moved to Chicago, I hated it. It was big and scary and I knew no one. I was living with Te and a few friends at the time but I felt so lonely outside of our apartment.

3 years later, I’ve never felt more at home. I am so thankful that God called me to this city.

As 2015 winds down and I look ahead to another year in the Windy City, I can’t help but reflect on the many reasons I am now encouraged to stay in the city and really soak in this experience, because it truly is like no other.

One recent experience in particular has really given  me so much joy in calling Chicago my home.

In June, I began attending Nike Training Club classes. They are a variety of classes, provided by Nike trainers, held either in a Nike store or at the Nike studio on Michigan avenue. I didn’t know anyone before I started attending these classes, but I was comfortable going by myself because of my passion for working out and trying new routines.

( Lucky for me, I met a friend the first day 🙂 )

Throughout the summer, Nike has put on these amazing events to help get me in shape. The events were so over-the-top awesome, from #FindYourFast to #GetOutHere, and the trainers are so skilled and motivating, it’s ridiculous. The motivation the Nike Chicago team has given me is beyond words.

Their most recent event was completely out of this world. Nike created an experience on the Chicago river for all of the NRC (Nike Run Club) and NTC (Nike Training Club) attendees. They created a barge on the river, The Icebox, inspired by the #GetOutHere challenge and held classes on the barge all week long.

 So there I was, working out on a Friday night, on the river, staring at the skyline and I just thought to myself, ‘WOW. This is my life.’ I mean, have you ever worked out with Nike Master Trainers on a boat on the river? It’s really hard to explain the emotion and realization that came to me, but it’s an experience that’s given me so much comfort in calling Chicago my home. In addition, through the Nike classes I’ve met such an amazing fitness community. It gave me a renewed outlook and even more passion for fitness.

Now, dont’ get me wrong, there are a million and a half other reasons I’m thankful to be in Chicago. I know you don’t have time to read all million, but I’ll leave you with a few other things I particularly love about the city:

  • The L – easiest transportation ever
  • People are always outside – walking their dogs, meeting with friends, running errands, working out, there’s always people outside and it is surprisingly refreshing
  • Brunch & Thai Food – because, yum
  • Ipsento’s (Bucktown) Ipsento Latte with coconut milk and cayenne (seriously, go try it)
  • Destination Church – the community I found within Destination Church is unbelievable and I will forever be grateful for that
  • The hustle and bustle mentality- although it can get overwhelming at times, the work ethic of this city has continued to push me even harder than I ever imagined pushing myself
  • Opportunity – there’s so many things to do and see, all of which hold opportunity for a new experience, there’s so much hope in finding your true passion here because no one tells you no, they tell you “go get it”
  • The brick apartments and buildings in the neighborhoods – isn’t Chicago pretty? 🙂
  • The energy of the people – the energy is positive, adventurous, inspiring and contagious

So thank you Chicago, for making me a better person. Thank you for an amazing experience, which I’ll never forget. Thank you for your beauty and inspiration. Thank you for the fast-paced life that continuously leads me to work harder than ever while also allowing me to appreciate the simplicity of being back home.

Thank you God for leading me to this city.

Did you move to a new city? What was your initial reaction? After some time, did you begin to fall in love? What caused that love to spark?

I’d love to hear your experience in the comments below!

Until next time..

Thank: It’s Not On Me

Do you ever leave church on Sunday mornings feeling more refreshed than ever? Not that church isn’t always great, but there are just some Sunday’s that hit you like ‘whoa, I needed that.’

Well, that was this Sunday for me.

Te and I were able to serve Sunday morning in a few different capacities which began the day in a very awesome way. Being able to serve on Sunday’s always adds a little extra love to my day. 

The message though, that hit home. 

Lately, I’ve felt so scared. All of the terror, violence and sad news stories are taking a toll on my thoughts and my hope. With each new story that comes to light, I feel a piece of me becoming more scared and more beat down. I feel as though I’m losing hope in humanity. I walk in constant fear of harm. 

Despite all of the terror, I see people with a big smile on their face; happy all of the time. So I think to myself, how are they coping so well? How do they not hold anxiety in their minds and hearts about the horrifying “what if” situations happening all over our world. 

How do I work on myself to get more hope and less fear? I try to push dark thoughts out, but it doesn’t work and here I am, stuck in a pit of tiredness, stress and question. 

Enter Sunday’s epiphany: God gives those smiling faces the hope that they need. I can have it to, I just have to pray and ask.

💥 Mind. Blown. 

This might sound like a “duh, Leah” type of thing, but for me it was ground breaking. You see, I’m a very independent person who is very hard on myself to be ‘the best’ and to figure things out. I don’t rely on others for very much, including God (I’m working on that). Lately I’ve been striving so hard to find ways to regain this hope that humanity isn’t as bad as the media portrays. Every time I fail, discouragement floods in and I fall deeper into a slum of worry; a lack of faith. 

To be reassured that I don’t have to have all of this hope stockpiled up and ready to go, it is God who provides that for me and I just have to ask.. Whoa. Praise God. What a burden lifted off of my shoulders! Thank you, God! 

I left church feeling so refreshed. Ready to pray. Ready to hope. 

In addition to this awesome message, we had a baby dedication and 2 baptisms at the end of service. It was a really great service to attend and it truly energized me throughout the day. 

If you’d like to listen to the full sermon, click here.

Has the media got you feeling hopeless? How do you cope? What are your favorite bible verses and prayers that help draw you closer to God, faith and hope? Leave it in the comments!

Until Next Time..

Thank: sgiving

I think thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. The sweatpants all day, the food, the family, the thankfulness, the Macy’s Day parade, I mean, what’s not to love? It’s such a great time of year! In honor of my favorite holiday, I want to dedicate this post to all the things I am so thankful for.
1. Every day brings its own flurry of frustrations and worries that can creep in to my heart and mind and make me forget how thankful I really am. As of late, I’ve felt overtaken by stress and worry about how we will afford to have a wedding. It is days like thanksgiving (and Sunday’s at church 🙂 ) which I remember how thankful I am to be in a position to be planning a wedding with my person, who is my best friend. I am so thankful for the love that’s grown between us and this journey which God has us traveling along. I’m forever thankful to God for bringing such a positive, cheerful, supportive, understanding and patient person into my life to reveal Himself to me through the acts of my fiancé.

2. My community and family are also extremely supportive and patient, especially during the hard times, and for that, I am thankful. To all of you who I’ve reached out to and word vomited all over about the same wedding planning drama, thank you for listening. I know it’s respective and probably obnoxious, but without you, I’d feel even more lost and confused. Thank you for letting me spit out all my thoughts, worries, frustrations and fears. You’re all amazing.

3. I come home almost every day to my trash can knocked over or something out of the recycling chewed up and spread across the entire kitchen floor. Sometimes, I even come home to puke on my living room rug, or even better, the couch. In those moments, I’m flustered and ticked off, but I am so thankful that I have Pumbaa in my life, it makes it all ok. I clean up the mess and tell him how naughty he is and then about 30 seconds later I’m snuggling him in my arms because I missed his furry butt all day long! He’s such a joy of mine and I’m so happy I adopted him 5 years ago!

4. It’s foolish of me to not mention how thankful I am for my health, safety and shelter, with so many others who are less fortunate. I pray everyone can find a warm, hearty meal this holiday and stay warm during the cold winter evenings.

5. To wrap up on a lighter note, I’m thankful for the delicious food my mom makes and the leftovers she sends home with us. I’m so thankful for the Macy’s Day Parade – it seriously is like my favorite thing ever. And I’m so thankful for the 6am shred class Te and I are going to take, because then I’ll feel less bad when I’m eating my third slice of pie tomorrow.

There’s so much to be thankful for and I just listened to an article on NPR that gratitude is actually heart healthy. I need to remember to be more thankful more often, not just on holidays. It’s amazing all of the blessings in my life. Even during the stressful times, there is so much to be thankful for.

What are you thankful for this holiday season? What are your holiday plans? Let me know in the comments!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Until Next Time..

Thank: Back On Track

Since being engaged (all of 2 weeks) my mind has shifted from the goals I posted about mere weeks ago to planning a wedding. Instantly, my focus is narrow and clear, ‘we need a venue’. We have been searching high and low for an affordable venue that fits our style. It’s actually quite a difficult feat if you’re on a tight budget.

All of this worry and constant searching threw me so far off track. I lost sight of many of my other short term and long term goals. Thankfully, I was able to reroute by seeking God and community for comfort and patience during this exciting time of our lives.

God has a plan; it’s all His plan. When worry and fear and anxiety set in it’s so easy to let those emotions take over. We can fall so easily when facing the unknown, we forget that God is working on it and we need not worry.

Some of my favorite prayers are verses I know I’ve shared with you before, but they constantly ring true when I’m in a state of anxiety over petty things.

‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:6-7‬ ‭NIV

6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Matthew 6:25-34 NIV

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[a]? 28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

I already feel so refreshed after reading those through another time. To know that I don’t have to worry because God’s got it is an amazing relief.

Psalm 56:3 ERV

3 When I am afraid, I put my trust in You.

I am still planning away, but now with a sense of calmness. I feel back on track; there is balance to planning and living. There is peace knowing God will provide.

I’m so thankful God brought Te and I together. I’m so thankful for all that He’s given us. I’m so thankful that soon, we will be married. And I am so thankful that God forgives me when I am fearing worldly things instead of fearing God.

What has been knocking you off of your tracks this week? Do you have a solid recovery plan for when that happens? When the going gets tough, remember that you don’t have to worry, God has a plan. It’s amazing what God can do for us if we die to ourselves and remember to live for Him.

Until Next Time..

Thank: [full]

Do you ever cop a bad attitude? Everything seems to be spiraling out of control, you lose focus and walk around being a negative nancy? Unfortunately, I get stuck in these ruts from time to time. ‘The journey’ is the part I’m still learning to appreciate.

Maybe it’s the culture we live in, or the city in which I reside. I’m constantly looking for the next thing to happen; the next opportunity, the next move to make, I forget to enjoy the present and cherish every opportunity for what it’s worth; even when the present moment is mucky and difficult to understand.

Eventually, the pieces all fall in to place and I realize, WOW, what have I been worried about? How did I completely forget that God ALWAYS provides. Even when I feel like everything is going wrong, I must remember that He is working in me with each experience.

Today was a day that a lot of my pieces began to fall in to place. It’s just one of those days where everything you’ve been working SO DAMN HARD for, everything you’ve been praying for, everything you’ve needed to keep you sane, happened.

With the blessings pouring in, I realize how much of a sour puss I was the past couple of weeks. Don’t get me wrong, transitions are difficult and stressful, but as everyone (including my wonderfully patient and supportive better half) reminds me, negativity gets you no where; it literally just wastes energy! Being the efficient and resourceful person that I am, I do not like to waste anything, so WHY in the world was I wasting so much energy on stress and negativity??? Things are going to be mucky and hard in life, it’s all about the attitude we use to plow through them that makes all of the difference.

Today, despite my poor attitude, my negative outlook, my anger, frustration, stress, worry, God provided, AS HE ALWAYS DOES. He knew the plan all along and was waiting for me to trust; I didn’t (fully). I still worried and got upset. I prayed and repented; I asked for help and forgiveness at the same time. Despite everything I did wrong, He still provided. He always provides.

Today, I am feeling so thankfull. Yes, thankfull. I am thankful for all of the blessings I’ve been given and all of the lessons I am learning on this journey called life. I am thankful for the journey. I am thankful that my Lord and Savior provides when I need it the most. I am thankful I have a Lord and Savior I can trust. I am not only full of thanks, I am full of positivity, I am full of a little bit more wisdom and experience, I am so full of trust for God.

Through the trials and tribulations, God is there. We are not perfect and cannot be perfect, but we can pray and trust that He will always provide. He is a kind and loving Father and even when times are tough, we must trust that He knows what’s best for us.

If you’re struggling with a situation right now, I pray that you are able to stay positive and trust that God is working it out. I pray that you soak up the journey and learn from the experiences. I pray that you are able to find joy in what may seem like a mess.

I am so blessed. I am so thankfull. There is NO reason for me, or any of us, to be negative, ever. I am pledging to use this experience to turn my negative thoughts and my fear into positivity and hope while realizing that there is beauty in every step and that God always provides.

Have a blessed week.

Until next time…

Thank: Thankful Throwback Thursday

Happy Thursday everyone! I hope your weeks are going very well!

I’ve been meaning to post this message for a couple of weeks now but haven’t gotten around to it. So without further ado, here it is!

Lately, I’ve had a few songs stuck in my head. I’m not exactly sure when it started or how it started, but it did and I’ve felt compelled to share them with you.

Years ago when I was attending youth group, I heard songs by Jeff Deyo. They were up-beat worship songs like I’ve never heard before. I thought, how awesome?! Don’t get me wrong, I love to hear the slower songs that I belt out in my head in my Celine Dion voice, praising God. Sometimes though, I just want to shout out a faster, up-beat, tune because loving God is fun and should be celebrated both ways.

Jeff’s song ‘These Hands’ has been playing in my head nonstop. It’s an awesome #tbt song, as it takes me to my youth group days. It’s a fun song and the words are a great reminder of why we are all here. Check it out below:

As I began to mention, this song truly takes me back to 7th and 8th grade when I was attending a non-denominational church in Wisconsin with some of my best friends. We were an inseparable group of girls who loved each other, Starbucks, and Jesus. It was during this time that I realized church wasn’t always confusing or filled with adults who couldn’t relate to the problems of a 14 year old middle school-er. It was really cool because our youth group was filled with close knit friends, the message was preached in language we understood and, with catchy tunes like the above, it was fun to worship God.

Since then, I’ve gone through seasons where I haven’t been as focused on my relationship with God. I have always believed in Him, I just haven’t always put Him first. Through the involvement in my new church, Destination Church, it’s brought back the realization that God should always come first. It’s also welcomed me in to a community who loves God and encourages one another to continue seeking Him.

If you are in Chicago and haven’t found a church home, check out Destination! We have an awesome worship team who can rock out these throwback songs along with many others! 
The below song, Satisfy, is seriously perfect to describe the up and down relationship I’ve had with God. It’s like, I’ve always known He was there and that He was the one and only savior but I haven’t always been obedient (it’s impossible because we are all sinners) and I knew it hurt God. But seriously, I just want to live for God. He is so amazing and His grace is so amazing and through Him ANYTHING and EVERYTHING is possible.

Learning how to die to my old self so I can dedicate my new self to God was an unbelievably awesome decision. Just like Jeff says in the song ‘But now I’m letting go and reaching out to You’. Such a good jam. Listen below:

In addition to #tbt , this post is also simply, a thankful post. I am so thankful for everything I have and I don’t say it enough. I’m thankful for my life, my health, my job, my family and friends, my happiness, my church and church family, I’m so blessed beyond belief. We all are so blessed. Honestly. And it’s so easy to forget how blessed we are.

I challenge you today to just be thankful. Look at your #tbt pictures and realize all that you came from, be thankful for that. Then look at your present and be thankful for that as well.

I hope the two songs posted above left you wanting more worship in your life today or this week or this year. Below is an awesome playlist I found with an amazing mix of Jeff Deyo songs to get you singing and praising God.

God is good always and for that, I am so thankful.

What are some of your favorite youth group memories? What are some of your favorite worship bands? I’d love to hear in the comments below!

Until next time..