New Series: Queen of Hearts

New series y’all!

Hey friends, just wanted to let you know we are starting a brand new series this month called “Queen of Hearts”, exploring our own hearts. The good, the hard, all of it – so I hope you’ll join me on this adventure.

When I think of the ultimate Queen of Hearts, I think of the character from Alice in Wonderland and her favorite phrase, “Off with her head!”. At every turn, this Queen would bark an order out of anger and rage while her card-shaped attendants fluttered and scurried about, running into themselves. Those same subjects just wanted to appease their Queen and prevent her from exploding into a fit, so they carried out her commands – painting the roses red, because they planted white ones on accident. She was agressive, impulsive, and had only one idea that came to mind when things didn’t go her way…get angry.

I’ve felt like the Queen of Hearts before.

Too many times I have felt like I had to respond to a situation or a person with anger, when deep inside I wasn’t angry; I was hurt, or frustrated or straight up disappointed in myself. But instead of figuring out how to name the correct emotion, or pausing to take a breath, a reaction came out instead of a response. The emotion I felt was the wrong one expressed.

Have you ever felt like that?

Friend, it’s our job to grow to a place where emotions and frustrations can be named and solutions can be thought of. It’s on us to seek His help and look for the hope He alone can give. We all want to experience internal rest, knowing we can trust God with every hurt that has gone unnamed, and every emotion that has gone untamed. We are offered a continual learning process from God; one that points us toward the finished work of the Cross.

I will be the first to admit, I haven’t “figured it all out”. However, I want all of us to take Him up on that offer – to find what the root cause is for our heart condition (though it may be many little things compounded over time) AND to live knowing that He made a way for us to live with hope; hope for ourselves and hope for our hearts to be restored.

So here is my challenge for us this month: To look into our hearts, uncover some past hurts, talk about strategies to break some bad habits, and begin to live from a place of hope. Why? Because the condition of our heart matters to Him, so it should matter to us.

Want to join me? 🙂

If you are raising your hand, then be sure to check back each week as we dive into this new series together! And comment below to let us know where you’re joining us from!

Go The Extra Mile: I love this song by Riley Clemmons because it says, “You want all I have with no holding back, when I’m hurt, at my worst, You see the beauty…”. Click the link and let’s blast it loud together as we embrace the fact that God wants every piece of our hearts – because He sees beauty and is writing an amazing story with our lives.

I’m Back! And I’m 40!

#40

Hey friend:), first things first: It has been a loooooooooong minute since I have taken the time to put together a post, and for that, I am truly sorry. Finding my new rhythm in my new location, with a few new seasons had me really digging deep to find the words. Words which are usually easy for me to pour out into a note or onto a rough draft on my phone suddenly became hard for me to publish.

However, there was always hope:).

Hope never left my heart, I just let it sink down further than normal. But after some months trying to wrap my brain around life and new seasons up ahead, hope gently floated to the surface reminding me that there is still a voice within me with stories to tell and messages to shared right here, with you. So thank you! Thank you for sticking with me in this writing journey and most of all, for sticking with me just to share life no matter how near or far we are in miles!

Last year, some big milestones happened:

– I was published 2 times in an awesome online magazine! (Yay Dearly!)

-I embraced being brave and auditioned to sing for the local GJ Rockies and was asked to sing the National Anthem at a game! (Yay to being brave! Go GJ Rockies!)

-I was invited to speak at a local women’s conference (Yay Flourish!)

-I was able to visit with family & friends under the best of circumstances and under the toughest of times (Seriously, let’s give it up for life-giving community!!!)

This year, something super awesome happened:

-I turned 40 …TODAY! (Yay Life! L’Chaim! Insert confetti here!)

Yes…I am now able to check the box that says “40 and Over” on all kinds of paperwork (Yay Getting Older! Haha!)

Birthday tradition of coffee with the fam:), plus an honorary daughter:)

In the lives of many people, this is usually the time where one questions their life and purpose and wonders what they have accomplished thus far. If I’m honest, I’ve been doing that for a few years now; looking back at all that God has entrusted me with, all the dreams and goals He’s placed in my heart and mind, all the messages He’s planted in my heart, and all the people He’s entrusted me to love and serve. I’ve also been thinking about how faithful I’ve been with the life He’s invited me to pursue; writing, speaking, listening, and encouraging, leading, remembering…all of it. And I come back to this one phrase:

Be Faithful.

In this new year of life, how can I be a more faithful steward of all that’s been given to me? Where can I be more faithful in the assignments I have been entrusted with? In what ways can I demonstrate more faithfulness to those under my roof & under my care? Where is God asking for a renewed commitment of faithfulness in my diligence in seeking Him and His ways?

Faithful is actually my word for 2020:)

Not just because of the questions I am processing though, but it’s the word that most reminds me of Him. Over and over I read and I know God to be more than faithful. He’s faithful to show up, faithful to come onto the seen, faithful to visit with me, faithful to recognize my cry and need. He’s faithful to provide for every need. He’s faithful to complete the good work that He started in me. He’s faithful to help me when I am weak, and He’s faithful to provide the community I need and crave every single day. He’s faithful to bring alongside friends and warriors who have gone before me that have wisdom to share. He’s faithful to provide mentors near and far from whom I can glean wisdom. He’s faithful to help me pause and soak in the moments that are passing faster than I would like. He’s faithful to remind me of the joy it is to cheer on friends making big strides in their own lives. He’s faithful to me, and I know He’s been faithful to you too.

He is faithful! Because of His Faithfulness, my first response will be praise to Him.

Friend, my bit of advice from my 40 years of life: Look for His faithfulness.

I invite you to pause and reflect on your life (just like I’m doing today), and look all around for examples of His faithful and strong love in this life. Let’s take a moment to soak it in; the enormity of His great love, and the beauty of His sacrifice for us. I’m not going to take this new year of life for granted, because it has been gifted to me by Him, the Creator and Sustainer of Life.

Will you do me the honor of leading us in prayer today? Let’s pray:

Dear Heavenly Father, we take time today to just thank You for Your faithfulness… You display Your commitment to relationship with us in so many beautiful ways- through faithful sunrises and sunsets and rainbows; through the strength and mercy that is new each morning, through family bonds and friendships that endure and grow…Lord, we thank You for all of it. Today, we choose not just to look for Your faithfulness, but to praise You for being faithful. We choose to look at the life within us and around us and say, “Thank You”, with grateful hearts. We choose to look at the dreams and goals and assignments that You’ve entrusted to us and embrace them fully – knowing that You provide the inspiration and hope and strength to accomplish each step because they have been given to us by You. God, as we hold onto Your faithfulness, help us to become living examples of Your faithful love to everyone we come in contact with. Everyone is our neighbor, everyone is deserving of love, and because Your love is enduring, ours should reflect the same intensity and longevity. Lord, embolden us to share of Your amazing faithfulness in all we say and in all we do. Amen.

Go The Extra Mile: It wouldn’t be a blog post without a song, so enjoy this current favorite of mine with a slice of chocolate cake in honor of my big day! This song by Sarah Reeves & The Belonging Co is on repeat in my personal playlist and it’s my prayer in this new season of life- ” to pour out my affection” as sweet incense to my faithful God. Enjoy and celebrate friends! #40yearsofLiz

peace-liz

Caps & Gowns

my hubby on his graduation day with our girls:)

We are in the thick of a season brightly colored with caps and gowns, tassels and cords. There will be pomp & circumstance a plenty as we are seated in stadiums, event centers, and auditoriums. Friends and family members shouting names and blasting airhorns, teachers and administrators clad in dress attire. You know who else will be there?

Graduates.

The tall kind, the small kind, the loud kind, the quiet kind. Every kind of graduate you can think of. The ones who were heavily involved in academics and athletics. The ones who were involved in the arts and clubs, and the ones who walked along the edge of the hallways, trying to blend in.

Graduation brings up so many amazing emotions, but it also makes me reflect on some parts in my own life’s story. I’ve shared it before but for those who are new to the blog – I didn’t wear a cap & gown until I was 35:). I didn’t walk across a stage in completion of a degree until I lived some life and birthed 3 babies:). I vividly remember the feeling of being told I was 1 credit short of graduating, just weeks before my actual high school graduation day. So trust me when I say I understand how it feels to come so close, only to realize you still have some work to do. Be it through summer school, or night school, correspondence courses, or a whole school year to make up for it. I’ve been there. In my case, I finished up a few months later, and my family threw me a great party to celebrate:). No stage or cap & gown, just documents to prove I met the necessary requirements.

In 2015, I did hear my name called while I was waiting in the wings- dressed in a purple cap & gown…and a bright yellow tassel:). That’s why when graduation season comes around, it means a lot to me. I like to spend time watching all the details unfold and the reactions on people faces. I like to see tears of joy and smiles beaming as names are called. I like to see families taking pics with their graduates as balloons fly in the air. I like to listen closely to valedictorian speeches and music played by the band. Why? Because it all matters. Those caps & gowns matter.

I see graduation as a huge accomplishment; so much studying and learning in just a short amount of time. I see every student – no matter at which age they graduate in life- with the potential to change their world, because they have an education. When I see students in caps and gowns, I see hope; I see persistence. I see individuals entering into a new phase of life- be it college, the workforce, the military, or whatever else comes next. I see dreams and goals starting all over again as grads deck themselves out in new attire for a new season.

As we enter into these next few weeks of seeing colorful balloons and confetti in our neighborhoods for these outstanding graduates, let’s remember to speak hope into their future.

Whatever path these graduates are taking, let’s encourage them to keep learning, to keep putting 100% into pursuing their passions and discovering their potential. Let’s celebrate the accomplishments and help them dream even bigger dreams while cheering them on from the sidelines. Let’s remind them that they can make their next season in life even more memorable and impactful with hard work and determination. Let’s hug them and high-five them at their ceremonies and parties. Let’s take lots of pics to remember the moment that they could finally say, “I did it!” and “On to bigger and better things!” all in one breath. Let’s write meaningful cards and stuff them full of wisdom (and maybe a gift!) for the journey ahead. Let’s bombard them with joy and hope and excitement because they worked so hard for these moments.

Let’s also show the students behind them that it can be done. That hard work and determination does pay off, and they are worth being celebrated. Not just for what they’ve done, but for who they are.

Let’s Pray: Dear Heavenly Father, this season is so special. Lord, we get to celebrate so many wonderful people who are accomplishing great things. We get to celebrate with all of these amazing individuals and cheer them onto even greater things. As we prepare to celebrate with these graduates, Lord help us to speak life into dreams they still have. Help our words to be uplifting and encouraging, hopeful and heartfelt. We never know what they may have walked through to get to this point, and we want to bless them as they embark on new adventures ahead. Lord help us to also look for those who might be watching from afar instead participating in the ceremony- help us to come alongside them and encourage them to finish well and to dream again. For every graduate who might be leaving home to pursue a calling or degree they’ve planned for, we ask for You to protect them and guide them with wisdom and love. For all those joining the workforce we ask that You establish the work of their hands and that whatever they find to do, that they would do it with all their heart. For those entering into the military, we ask for Your peace and protection to surround them, and for their comrades to become a system of support and hope for them. For all those graduating and still trying to figure out what their next right step should be, help them to watch for the right doors of opportunity to open, and to know and trust that Your plans are greater. Lord, thank You for all the late nights of studying, for the friendships made and memories shared, for the lessons learned and the lessons still ahead. Thank You for these lives that will impact communities for good, and for legacies that impact generations to follow. Help us to celebrate well this season- amen.

Go The Extra Mile: Check out this song and begin to think of how you can dream alongside your grad! I LOVE THIS MOVIE! I LOVE THIS SOUNDTRACK! And I hope it encourages you today! Peace- liz:)

I Didn’t Forget You!

Hello and Happy Monday Tru*Lifer’s!!! It feels like forever since I last posted here, so up front- I am sorry it’s taken me so long to get new messages to you! I appreciate all of you, every single like, comment, share, encouragement and prayer and I am trying my hardest to get back into the writing rhythm after being on hiatus for literally the whole month of April.

I’m continuing the Funky Series, most recently with my own message for it, so check it out! I’ll also be bringing you new messages in the coming weeks, so STAY TUNED!

I also wanted to shout out to all the mama’s out there, in any & every form – I hope your day was filled with joy and love and reminders of your amazing contributions to this world. I also want to let all those who are in the process of fostering and adoption, those who are in the process of fertility treatments, those who are single parents, those who have lost a mama or a child and are walking through grief, those who are separated from loved ones because of miles or decisions made…You are seen, you are remembered and we honor and admire you too. These kinds of days always come with a mixed bag of emotions and realities, but none the less, we honor and celebrate you, not just yesterday, but everyday.

All of you have been on my mind; every reader in every city and country represented, and I can’t wait to share more messages and thoughts with you, as well as share some amazing messages from dear friends! Stay tuned people- this summer is shaping up to be great!

peace-liz:)

Funky: Me Again

I was reminded a few weeks ago that I am getting back to my normal self:).
As I was making lunch for my family on the weekend, and decided to bake. It might not sound like a monumental moment for some, but for me it was huge.

I like to cook.
I like to bake.
I just hadn’t really been doing a whole lot of it since we moved.
There is something so therapeutic about combining ingredients and watching what they do when everything comes together. 

A little of this, a little of that, some time to rise, and some time to bake…voila! Fresh bread with an aroma that fills the house and heart.

mmm….so good!

Unless you’re on the Keto diet- then it’s probably torture;).

There was a beautiful rhythm that I felt in my kitchen that day as I mixed and kneaded; as I waited and waited again. It felt like me just being me. Not me trying to just make it through the day, or me just doing it as a “have- to”. It felt like I was remembering my name, remebering my heartbeat again, remembering my song. I felt like me – in the moment I was in, in the season I was in, in the atmosphere I was in.

Friends, some seasons in our lives, we will not feel quite like ourselves. We will feel like someone else trying to figure out who they are and how they got there. Sometimes in those funky seasons, we will need to listen to our heart and do what we know we should, so we can regain a sense of who we are, and who we have been called to be.

That day, for me, I needed to bake. Some days, I need to go on a walk around the block…or around Target:). I encourage you to go back and do what gives you life. Maybe your thing is running – Run until the rhythm of your feet matches the beat of your heart. Maybe your thing is going for a drive – fill up your tank and hit the road and enjoy the view in the process. Maybe your thing is writing – be intentional with your time and jot down your thoughts as the words flow out of you. Remember who you are. Remember who you are called to me.

For some of us, it may take a friend calling us and reminiscing about what we’ve done together that made us laugh. It may take some of us asking our friends for advice or for wisdom in these tough seasons. It’s ok, everyone’s season is so different and no one thing is going to work for everyone as we walk through these funky times.

The point is to keep breathing, keep living, keep walking, and keep reminding ourselves who we are. I love what the Psalmist David wrote:

 Lord, you have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I stand up;
you understand my thoughts from far away.
 You observe my travels and my rest;
you are aware of all my ways.
 Before a word is on my tongue,
you know all about it, Lord.
 You have encircled me;
you have placed your hand on me.
 This wondrous knowledge is beyond me.
It is lofty; I am unable to reach it.
 Where can I go to escape your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
 If I go up to heaven, you are there;
if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
If I live at the eastern horizon
or settle at the western limits,
 even there your hand will lead me;
your right hand will hold on to me.
 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me,
and the light around me will be night”—
 even the darkness is not dark to you.
The night shines like the day;
darkness and light are alike to you.
 For it was you who created my inward parts;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
 I will praise you
because I have been remarkably and wondrously made.
Your works are wondrous,
and I know this very well.
 My bones were not hidden from you
when I was made in secret,
when I was formed in the depths of the earth.
 Your eyes saw me when I was formless;
all my days were written in your book and planned
before a single one of them began.
 God, how precious your thoughts are to me;
how vast their sum is!
 If I counted them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand;
when I wake up, I am still with you.
” Psalm 139:1-18 CSB

I’m confident that The One who knew us when we were formless, knows how to redirect us to the point where we remember our form and fortitude during funky seasons. And if you’ve been walking through some different and challenging seasons like me, I can assure you that taking time to turn our focus to Him is a great place to start.

Let’s pray friend: Dear Lord, in the midst of all that feels funky and uncertain, we choose today to put our focus on You- Our Creator, and Life-Giver. These season that we are walking through might seem difficult to navigate, but Lord, we’ve been reminded in Your Word today that You see everything God- nothing is too difficult for you. Lord, we ask You to take us into Your arms and remind us of who we are and who You created us to be. Remind us of the goodness that you’ve placed inside of us to share. Remind us of dreams we might be putting off because we don’t know where to begin. Remind us of the tender and loving care you took to create us and form every part of us inside and out, and how to return to Your loving embrace for strength and direction. You Lord, are Light and can help lead the way as we rediscover ourselves in You and how we are to live in these moments. We give you our time today Lord, speak to us and help us listen as we go about our day. Jesus, help our hearts to lean into all that You ask us to do as we spend time with You and as we get back to the rhythms that You created to sustain and support us. Thank You Lord for all that You are and for Your goodness in every season of this life. Amen

Peace-liz

Go The Extra Mile: Friend, on your drive today, or at your lunch break, take a few minutes to just listen and surrender with this song. I love this song, so much that we actually played it at our wedding ceremony years ago, but this version…it’s amazing. Check it out!


Love: Loving Your Tribe Well

Tribe… in my nomadic lifestyle I have defined tribe as an ever-growing group of people that are on this similar life journey. Those who have been geographically detached from their pre-established support systems. Most of them living thousands of miles from the ‘free babysitter’ and the auntie that swoops in to play dress up and make silly faces when you aren’t feeling the mom gig. This tribe congregates out of necessity for nothing short of needing a local emergency contact number for that form you inevitably get at your child’s school registration. The subtle beginnings of what will become late night phone calls when your washer has flooded your whole house and your husband just happens to be ‘unavailable’. The secret cry sessions as you share the heartache of missed birthdays and delayed return dates. The undertones of knowing that this military life changes our spouse in ways we can’t even put words to paper. This is the stuff that establishes the tribe of military wives and the families they bring in tow. This is, for the better part of the past 18 years, the fertile ground for me to grow in my understanding of what tribe is and how to love them well.


“You do hospitality so well! That MUST be one of your giftings.” Says a well-meaning pastor friend of mine. My gut wrenched and I immediately word vomited out… “NOPE! I just live a life where entertaining is part of my gig… this is a trained behavior.” Although the second part of that statement was true, I adamantly believed the first part… well because as a woman who is called to ministry as a lifestyle, as one who preaches, mentors and pastors… there are a few boxes my wounded heart did not want to be placed in… I bet you can guess at least one… you know all the places it is acceptable for women to serve among any body of believers… if it involves a kitchen, food, children… you get my point. I had no desire to be labeled as hospitality because to me, from the view of the church structure, hospitality looked like standing behind a coffee bar handing out a donut and facilitating meal trains… this was just not my jam. (Please let me take a minute to clarify… ALL of these works are amazingly valid and a ministry to me and to those whose needs are met! We are all a part of the body… knee, shin and ankle.. all are needed and valued. This was just not my place… so I thought). Back to the comment… it sat with me. This friend, I had come to learn, does not just pay nice compliments but speaks to what he sees done well, with joy, and fullness of God’s glory. This observation was not because he had seen me fill up a few snack buckets and provide some bottled water. So I have sat some more on this comment… I got still before God and asked forgiveness for my harshness towards any good gift He has given me and asked for a revelation of what my friend saw. I asked Him to show me a little bit more of how He designed me to be. This is what I learned about me and how hospitality has flown naturally:


Loving my tribe well is not in the pictures of my Instagram feed where you see women drinking wine and sitting around a campfire. Loving my tribe well is in the many mini moments to see a need and choose to be a part of filling it. This is done best within my circle of influence… I get overwhelmed by needing to love on every tribe, but I must focus on loving mine well and trust that it will trickle over. I have learned the necessity of observing well and paying attention to the subtle clues others leave. This is my fact-finding mission, Intel only, all stakeout. (I even keep notes in my phone) I write out likes, kids names, important facts and yes I reference back to them. As a nomad, the need to be known runs deep and this helps me fill that need in others. It helps me build relationships with intentionality and purpose, to allow who God is in me to spill out on them so God can increase in them too! Then I wait… I pray… I ask God for organic opportunities to intersect His love and grace into their life and sometimes I get to be a part of that.

Sometimes that’s sending a text of encouragement, sometimes it’s talking over coffee or a margarita, sometimes that looks like driving 4 hours round trip to get 2 hours of quality face to face time. Sometimes it is sitting next to her crying as we mourn the loss of a child, sometimes that’s babysitting, sometimes it’s a late night run, sometimes its rib-splitting laughter as we play hide in seek in Target. Sometimes that’s putting encouraging notes in the bathroom at prom, Sometimes that is going to someone else’s’ kids sports game. It making the most of those simple everyday encounters. You see, hospitality, per Webster, is the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.

How do you receive your tribe? Are you friendly with those you receive within a 10 ft radius of yourself every day? (Yes those people are your tribe too, even the one who gives you dirty looks). Are you generous in the way you meet others needs? There is a difference in meeting a need and meeting a need well. One is a reaction and the other is a response. Responses are thoughtful, planned, and intentional. Do the little things that help you be a responder. Make space in your calendar to slow down a little for that phone call, keep a basket in the closet of small “thinking of you” gifts, always have coffee ready to brew, have the extra meal in the cabinet for the sick friend, take the time for rest and spiritual nourishment regularly so you a serving from a full cup… make the most of the opportunity presented to you, after all YOU GET TO be the avenue of God’s love directly into that person’s world.

And what does that get you??? Well, over time, you will find that your hospitality has opened an access to share your story and God’s story and how those stories have connected with their story. This is the principle I have found in studying how Jesus loved his tribe well. He most often met a tangible need before addressing the spiritual need. Loving your tribe well doesn’t end in intentional responses; those mini-moments add up to this field of grace where God’s heart is vividly seen time and time again in the midst of the community that has been created within the tribe. This is where healing takes place, mentorship begins to happen, dreams are obtained, hardships are mourned and joys are celebrated… love and grace abound and God’s glory is known. – Liz Bossard

Meet Liz Bossard: Liz is a reservoir of wisdom and truth. She has battled a lifetime of paving her way through understanding her identity in Christ, and rising to be a light house for others to break out of the box of female stereotypes in life and ministry. She loves to laugh and enjoy her military life with her husband of 18 years and their 3 children. Making many moves across the country, she has gained lots of life experience, amongst the many cultures of the U.S. Liz longs for others to know their true calling and to embrace the path God has set them on.

~~~

Tru*life: It’s me, Liz Trujillo again:), and I am so grateful for the opportunity to bring you my friend Liz Bossard! I’ve known her for close to 18 years both in the same town and across many miles, and I can tell you- she’s the real deal y’all. I’ve been able to watch her grow into this amazing communicator and have also been a recipient of her love and friendship since my early days of marriage, motherhood, and ministry. She was the obvious choice to share with us about loving our tribes well. I sure hope you took notes from her words of wisdom- I know I did today! A huge shoutout to all of her family for their continued service to our country!-Liz T

Go The Extra Mile: I’m a sucker for a Southern Rock Band, and NEEDTOBREATHE has a special place in my heart because they are from SC! Listen well to this song and be encouraged to love your tribe well today!

Love: Loving Yourself & Discovering Joy by Gigi Hahl

Love Part 3

My children screaming at one another does not bring me joy and unfortunately it is a sound that I hear daily. I used to envision myself ripping my ears from my head and throwing the bleeding ears to my children and yelling: “now I don’t have to hear you anymore!”—my kids would then be diagnosed with PTSD and probably taken from me, and I would have no ears. So, there goes that idea! I tend to be a bit dramatic, maybe that’s where my children get their histrionics. But I hear SO much more of their bickering since quitting my job after the birth of my fourth child. Having children brings out the best and worst in a person, or maybe that’s just me. I was starting to see more days with the worst person than the best.

Some moms are better at patience. Some moms are better at talking calmly to their kids and baking sweet treats and making crafts. But me, sometimes I would want to lock my kids in a closet and give them Benadryl and have them take a long nap—speaking in hyperbole here! I would never harm my children. I love my children. Very much. I love them so much that at every birth I would let go of some special part of myself—including valuable braincells. The other day when I went to buy sleds, I couldn’t think of the word sled. S-L-E-D, a four-letter word that is very simple, but I had to ask the cashier:
“Do you sell those things that kids ride in the snow with?”
The 17-year-old, looked at me with a dumbfounded look and said, “Sleds?”
“Oh yeah! That’s what their called!” I laughed back.

My brain is not what it used to be, and neither is any part of me. Some days I would daydream about the old me; living life to the fullest, laughing, telling jokes, and looking good. Some days I would long for a simpler time. My daydreams wouldn’t last long because I would be jolted back to reality by my two-year-old screaming at her older brother, “you’re not my BEST FRIEND! NO ONE is my BEST FRIEND!” I realized that I was becoming a new person and I had to stop pretending like I was going to get the old me back. This new person, I didn’t like too much. She didn’t have as much fun. This new person was very frustrated and controlling. I realized that either I needed to change my attitude or accept my new grumpy self.
I started to change my attitude.
I began by falling back in love with me and being grateful for what I had been given.

And thanks to Marie Kondo, I started asking myself what brings me joy? And not just regarding tidying up, but to experiences and everything else in life that matters. I decided that being a passive player in this game of life wasn’t cuttin’ it any longer. I needed to dive in. I needed to experience love and joy and not just watch from the sidelines. I wanted to live out my gratefulness by living life to the fullest, as cliché as it may sound.
So, what brings me joy?

Puzzles bring me joy! I love to solve puzzles and I love my introvert time. I love sitting at my counter for hours and days at a time and completing a puzzle. I am not able to do this as often as I like, but I love it.

Audiobooks and library apps bring me joy! I love listening to audiobooks. I never would have thought that I would love listening to books, but I do. I have finished ten books since January.

Swimming brings me joy! I decided that I needed to do something for a workout. I have always wanted to be able to swim laps as a cardio and lift weights to build muscle but just always came up with an excuse of why I couldn’t. SO, I signed up for an adult swim lesson. I was so scared at my first lesson. I was thinking about what other people would think of me, but to my surprise, no one was thinking about me. I love swimming! I had a minor setback last week but I’m okay. I went to practice what I had learned through lessons, and I panicked and couldn’t swim in the deep end. I kept telling myself that something was in the water like a shark, alligator, or a scary clown —I was the only one in the pool, it was six in the morning. The lifeguard just watched and said nothing. I did one quarter of a lap and then I did the walk of shame and left the pool. I was crippled by this irrational fear. This setback didn’t stop me, I went back two days later and swam in the deep end.

I started writing again and stopped caring about my missing braincells. I love to write and who cares if some people don’t want to read what I have to say. Writing brings me joy and gives me life.

My body brings me joy! I started looking in the mirror while I’m naked and telling myself: “This body is mine. It was a gift to me, and I love it.” This is not easy for me. Why is it so darn hard to look at myself naked and genuinely say “I love you”? Because when I look at my naked body, I immediately start to critique it. I say: “Look at those love handles! Say goodbye to ever wearing a two-piece swimsuit again, MY GOSH those stretch marks. Goodness, those nipples are different sizes, they don’t look anything like the original.” And this self-deprecating talk would continue until I verbally told myself to stop. My inner critique is a monster and not just about my outward appearance, but it has some nasty things to say about everything. How I parent. How I eat. How I work or not work. The best way for me to combat this is by telling myself: “This body is mine. It was a gift to me, and I love it”.

My body has birthed four beautiful children. Stretching and releasing with the marks to prove it. This body has gained weight and lost weight; it has been fit and been flabby. This body, my body is mine and I need to love it. I need to love it because I have four children that I am trying to teach how to love their bodies.

My family brings me joy. I enjoy them more. I stop what I am doing and play with them. I kiss them more and rub their heads. I talk longer and laugh louder. I am intentional but I am not perfect. I still have moments of crazy. But I am trying.

Lastly, God brings me joy! I started checking in with God more regularly. He is my ultimate sustainer and if I am not right with God, I quickly find myself losing patience quicker. It’s not just about reading my Bible, it’s more one-on-one talks and finding the time to just be with him and worship.
I desire to live a full life and experience joy! -Gigi Hahl

Meet Gigi: Jillian “GiGi” Hahl is a chauffeur, financial analyst, strategist, and storyteller, or as some call it SAHM (Stay At Home Mom). She lives in Denver, Colorado and enjoys learning anything new. She once had a cat named Kitty because the name slightly paid homage to one of her favorite movies Breakfast at Tiffany’s. She loves meeting new people and experiencing new cultures. You can find her at roaming the aisles of Costco on the first Sunday of the month.

Meet Gigi Hahl!

*Hey everyone, it’s me Liz again:). I’m so thankful for the beautiful and honest message that Gigi shared with us today! I know for my heart, it was encouraging! I’m so grateful for the opportunity to connect everyone with Gigi’s work and I can tell you, I’ve admired her writing and her mothering skills for the last several years! She’s the real deal ya’ll and what an honor it has been to have her as part of our blogging community:). P.S.-I too wish to roam the aisles of Costco with her:)!

Go The Extra Mile: Check out “Lean Back” from Capital City Music, one of my new favorite songs- so so good, so… listen all the way to the end. A great reminder of the love of Our Heavenly Father, and the joy and goodness we can experience in Him!


Love: Build Some Bridges

We started a mini-series on love last week (in honor of the month of love), and this week’s subject is very personal to me. So personal, that my husband and I sat down with our children in our living room a few weeks ago and began to have a deep talk about how our family will operate. Not just how we will operate for every day routines, but how we will choose to function when the world around us seems to do the opposite.

We will include others: We will look for outsiders. No matter where they come from, who their family is, what they look like, what they sound like…we will choose to be the first to reach out and connect with others. We will be inclusive and invite others to share life with us; no matter if they have little or lots, no matter if they talk differently, have different customs or traditions, we will include them, surround them, and share life with them.

We will love our neighbors: No matter if they have the same beliefs as we do, or if they disagree with us on many levels- we will try hard each day to demonstrate love.

We will build bridges to connect to others: Much like a bridge connects and extends, we will choose to connect to others and extend hope and love to them. We will build relationships that can connect others to the resources, inspiration, and relationships they need.

We will build bridges. We will build bridges. We will build bridges between us and not walls to divide.

Walls offer a false sense of security in which the builder imprisons and isolates themselves instead of keeping themselves safe. We will not build walls between ourselves or others – we will build bridges.

Why did I type it so many times? Because that’s how many times I said those words to our children. We needed them to know that being a part of this family means loving and serving others. Being a part of this family means protecting those who need protection, and providing support to those who have no one to support them. We had to stress the fact that there are so many in our own little world who don’t have a voice to be heard or an audience to cheer them on. We had to. In the middle of a tv program, we had to stop and talk about how we will choose to operate as a family. How we will love, who we will serve, and why it all matters.

You see, Love is an action and a choice and our choice is to build bridges relationally because that is what Love did for us; Love himself left heaven and embraced humanity. Love gave us direct access to mercy and grace and compassion and forgiveness and hope. Love built a bridge between the divine and the mortal. Love took on our brokenness and frailty and gave us strength and healing. Love lived, died, and came back to life so we could live and become bridge builders for those who need to experience unconditional love. Love builds bridges, love builds up people, love builds up communities.

My children know the message now. They see why we choose to make these statements and who our actions affect. They are growing up in a world that wants them to do the opposite. Our hope is that they will choose love and choose hope, no matter the cost. So that by doing so, others can feel accepted, embraced, remembered, supported, and above all else, loved.

Let’s Pray: Dear Heavenly Father, we want to be love to those in need today. Lord, so much of our culture pushes the image of isolation as a means for protection. So much of what we see or how we operate in society is to keep everyone at arms length and pretend to not see needs staring us in the face. Forgive us God, forgive me. Lord, help us today to open our eyes and hearts to those around us. Help us build each other up with our words and with our faith. We ask for You to show us opportunities where we can lavish love on others – whether they are in our home or miles away. Help us to live by the example You set for us. Lord, we want to live lives that honor You – lives that point directly back to the unconditional love that You alone provide for us. Today Lord, we desire to be living, breathing, bridge builders for all of those around us who need to feel connected to community. Thank You for reminding us today that Love will go out of its way to build a bridge relationally. Amen. Peace – liz

Go The Extra Mile: Today, Listen to this awesome anthem from Switchfoot about Love! It’s so good and will get stuck in your heart and mind!

Love: Small Actions

Happy Valentines Day Everyone!!! I wanted to be sure to send you this amazing message about love from my dear friend Melissa! In the next few posts you’re going to read about, you guessed it, LOVE. Not the commercialized version of love and gifts we see on the store shelves. No, I’m talking about the real deal- love in it’s greatest forms. So to kick-us off, I’ve invited Melissa to share her thoughts on love. I have long admired her wisdom and strength and heart of service. I know you will be inspired by her too. Friends, my hope is for each one of you to be encouraged, challenged, and active with the love you can share with this world! -Liz 

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I was asked by Liz to be a guest blogger and she said I could talk about love. Now I thought that is going to be easy because love is an easy topic; there is so much to say about love. But after mulling it over several days, it feels that love is not so easy after all.

For those that know the Bible, there is a whole chapter dedicated to love. “Love is patient, love is kind, love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” (1 Corinthians 13: 4-7 NLT). Phew! That was a mouthful. And if we were honest with ourselves, some days it feels like love is exhausting and love is overwhelming.

I want to show love; I really do. I repeat this scripture over and over in my head especially when I’m dealing with a difficult situation. I remind myself, “You must be kind. Stop wanting your own way. Please don’t get irritable!” I find myself busily putting little check marks on my love checklist ready to feel satisfied once I’ve marked every action complete in this love chapter. But before I know it, I have turned love into a task instead of a way of life.

The checklist doesn’t apply just in difficult situations though; unfortunately, the checklist has also applied in the purest of desires to find a way to change the world. State Farm has summed this up very well. Yes, you read that right, State Farm. About a year or so ago they aired a commercial titled “Following”. It begins with a man on the subway seeing a wall advertisement to adopt a pet. Immediately he turns to his side and sees a cute, little white dog that begins to follow him. The man’s computer screen displays an ad to help a veteran and then a tv to be a mentor to a child. The shot pans out to a following of vets, homeless people, children, and animals behind a weary man everywhere he goes. With the hand of a child on his shoulder, the man chooses to make one small decision to walk into a community mentoring center; and just like that the following is gone.

The commercial wasn’t about getting rid of the weariness of love but rather show that one small action, turning a checklist into a lifestyle, can release that burden of love. Love does not place the responsibility of changing the world on your shoulders but rather it is allows Christ to use one small action from an honest heart to have a ripple effect in the world. There is no burden, no task, and no brownie points to be earned. Love is just love and oh how amazing love is. –Melissa

State Farm Commercial- “Following”

Melissa lives in Southern Colorado with her family. She is a Forensic Chemist by day, but she prefers to spend her free time riding elephants, swimming with the piranhas, and serving those in need:).

Funky Part 3: Get Out

When I was a teenager with a fresh drivers’ license, I would often ask my mom for the car keys and just drive around because I could. Not because I was going anywhere particular, but just because I wanted to explore. Growing up near the Front Range of Colorado, I was blessed to see the majestic Rocky Mountains in full view, right next to the spans of crops on the plains. And if your have ever been near my hometown, you also know there is a very pungent aroma that fills the air:). Many say its the smell of money, but the rest of us know its just the smell of manure:). But anyway…

My times of going for a drive were actually a means to explore and decompress; to put my thoughts in order and take some time to clear my head. This week as I was reflecting on this series of walking through seasons of feeling Funky, I was reminded of the beautiful effect getting out has on us.

You see, I often found myself driving to the nearby open fields in my hometown. Today, most of those fields are subdivisions, shopping centers, and gas stations (I see you Greeley, growing and industrializing:). But to me, those areas hold a special place of clarity and calmness. The open roads around them remind me of the times I would empty my mind as I drove around, thinking and praying.

Sometimes when we feel Funky, one of the best steps we can take to move forward is to get out into nature.

I recently read 2 different studies from Stanford University, that suggest getting out into nature provides great benefit for our mental well-being. A walk outside in a natural environment can help reduce our feelings of anxiety and internal negativity, and helps us to generally feel better.

Will our circumstances change immediately with a walk outside? No. Will our difficulties immediately vanish if we hug a tree? Nope. Can our outlook on life, as a whole, improve because we took time to get some fresh air, and submerge ourselves in the beauty of nature and in the faithfulness of God, Our Creator? Absolutely.

Isaiah 40:28-31

Friends, Nature itself was meant to draw us closer to Our Creator. The splendor of all that God has created and the beauty and majesty we find all around us are direct reminders of the majesty and might of our God. If He put so much detail into the very creation all around us, individual blades of grass, multiple varieties of each plant and crop and animal and insect, how much more detail has gone into the creation of our heart and minds? How much more care has He put forth for tending to our needs? I’ll tell you: a lot.

As you think over the Funky season you may be in or have previously experienced, remind yourself of this: Our God, Creator of all, has a beautifully tender way of speaking to us through the times we can pull away into the very nature He created for us. Reflect back even further: When Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden, God came to walk in the garden(Genesis 3:8). He was looking for them there; He already knew where they were, yet He still went to meet them right where they were and showed them where they were physically and spiritually. Friend, Our Creator has that same amount of love towards us, to know exactly where we are, to come find us and meet us where we are in our time of need. No matter what kind of a Funk we find ourselves in.

I encourage you to go for a walk today; clear your mind and give God your thoughts and concerns. He will meet you there, and will renew your strength.

Let’s PrayDear Heavenly Father, Thank You for reminding us today that it’s ok to stop and get out for a moment. You are always willing to meet us, and listen to us. Lord, for these seasons in our lives that feel uncertain, we choose to trust that You will help us to clear out thoughts as we place our focus on You and Your faithful love and perfect strength. Lord, when we feel weak, help us to remember to run to meet You. When we feel faint of heart, help us to move closer towards You; to look around us and see Your peace sustaining us. Be it in a field, a forest, or a flower bed, help us to run into Your arms. Your hope and strength are real and just as You created the heavens and the earth and all that is within them, You created us and You know us better than we know ourselves. Lord, we lean into You today and hold tight to Your promise to renew our strength when we wait on You Thank You Lord for Your love and for reminders of renewal all around us in creation. Amen.

Go The Extra Mile: I’m taking it way back to 1912 with this incredible hymn “In The Garden” by Charles Austin Miles. Listen as “The Church Sisters” sing it. My only other favorite rendition of this personal favorite is when my mom and her sister sing it:).