Abide // Being Rooted in God’s Love in 2016

One of the things I love about this time of year is the opportunity that the New Year provides for new beginnings, growth, and renewal. While we can receive renewal any time of year through Christ, it’s just something that makes this season so special. About a month ago, John 15:4 came to mind as I began to think about the Christmas season and the upcoming New Year. The verse, of course, reads;

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.”

We can make all of the resolutions and goals that we want, but if we are not living a life that is rooted in the Lord, how can we really expect for those things to stick? For me, 2016 is setting up to be a year of reflection and a crossroads. I know that I cannot embark on this year without first establishing myself completely and totally in Christ. Ultimately, I know that I want to live a life that fully comes from God’s plan and purpose for me but I also know that this requires faith, trust, and a whole lot of prayer.

It is my hope that 2016 is a year of rest, rejoicing, and abiding in God’s word and truth. Rest, as I look forward to a new season that will hopefully allow me to focus more fully on my job as a teacher. I’m in the midst of my 3rd year teaching and I’ve never fully allowed myself to just be a teacher only, between a part-time job followed by a year of grad school. Rejoicing, as I continue through day-to-day life with a new understanding of God’s promise of eternal life and the comfort that He provides to us through our sufferings. I never imagined that 2015 would be a year of such grief, but the profound and undeniable hope that is found in Christ continues to carry me through every passing day.

While my hope is that I begin to be more centered, keeping Christ at the heart of everything I do, I also know that this is more than just me being more diligent in my quiet time. That is a big part of abiding in the Lord, but I need to not just be completely rooted in Him but also rooted in life. For too long I have allowed work and grad school completely run my life. I shouldn’t be as burnt out as I feel, only three years into the workforce, but that’s where I’ve found myself. Although I live at home, far too little time has actually been devoted to spending actual quality time with my parents. If there’s anything I learned in 2015, it was that we should never take our family for granted and to always make the moments with them count.

What are your hopes and dreams for 2016?

Introducing the Dreams by Design Planner!

I am so excited to share an awesome new planner with you guys! My friend Karen from A House Full of Sunshine has created and unveiled her 2016 Dreams By Design Planner and it is absolutely beautiful and the perfect tool to get the New Year started!

I first stumbled on the planner community around this time last year, just as I invested in my first Erin Condren Life Planner. Who knew that there was a whole community of bloggers, YouTube vloggers, and Facebook groups devoted to decorating their planners?! My lifelong obsession with stationary and planners had finally found a home with fellow devotees. I am currently utilizing an Erin Condren Life Planner as well as a Happy Planner and I am thrilled to add this planner to my collection.

The Dreams by Design Planner is the perfect planner for anyone who wants to start the New Year with some very strategic and intentional goal-setting. Karen has thought of everything here, right down to the nine gorgeous covers to choose from! Check out the video below for an in-depth look at the planner.

I love that the weekly master schedule has loads of room for writing. One of my pet peeves with planners with hourly scheduling is that the spaces are so little! And the best part? This planner is an INSTANT DOWNLOAD! The file comes with printing and assembly instructions so you should have no problem with printing the planner at home, or getting it bound at an office supply store.

Want to purchase the Dreams by Design planner? Purchase it HERE for just $19!

I can’t wait to get started with mine and share my full review with you all!

*Post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own.

2016 Resolutions // Psalm 90:12

“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” // Psalm 90:12
To be completely transparent, I have never made a New Year’s Resolution before. I’ve thought about it, sure, but I think the voice in my head was always counting me out before the year even began. Early in 2015, I discovered Lisamarie over at Paper & Glam and I have come to really appreciate how she lives her life both seasonally and always completely rooted in the Lord. Lisamarie approaches her resolutions in a holistic manner and I thought I would try it for myself this year. 
The six areas that I chose to focus on are Spiritual, Creative, Physical, Creative, Professional, and Financial.

I made this graphic in PicMonkey and printed it as a 5×7 image to place in my two planners (Erin Condren and Happy Planners), as well as my 2016 Project Life album. I absolutely love the Project Life system, and I plan on diving more into that this year as well. Blog posts are sure to come!
What are your 2016 resolutions? Share them in the comments below!

2015 Recap // A Year of Grace, Grief, and Hope

Happy last week of 2015! We all say it every year, but where did the time go?! It’s so hard to believe how quickly time can get away from us. 2015 was a year of many ups and downs, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Let’s look back, shall we?

January

My sister and I got to explore a bit of the Sarah P. Duke Gardens during my MLK Weekend visit! She’s so lucky to have this place so close to her! It was gorgeous, even in the winter!

March

This is one of my favorite pictures that I have with my Grandmother. In March 2015, we celebrated her 89th birthday and I’m so glad we snapped this picture of the three generations that day. Unfortunately, we lost my grandmother in September, making this memory extra sweet.

May

My birthday fell on Mother’s Day this year! It does that every few years or so. My mom’s family has done a “reunion” of sorts every year for Mother’s Day and Christmas for most of my life and I’m so thankful that I got to spend my birthday with my entire family! The night before, my sister and I celebrated with a Needtobreathe concert.

June

I visited Michigan for the first time (and technically Ohio, since I flew out of the tiny Toledo airport to save some money on airfare home)! I spent a long weekend in Detroit with my dear friend Sarah and her precious family.

I even attended my first major league baseball game at Comerica Park! So fun!

August

Note to self: never visit Texas in the summer again. On my first trip to Texas, I visited Austin and San Antonio! My trip also happened to fall during a slight heat wave and the temperatures were above 100 every day. It actually made me appreciate the North Carolina summers just a teensy bit more. Sure, it can get hot and crazy humid, but not prolonged 100 degree days like that.

My sister and I went to our first Panthers game! Which is kind of sad, considering we are from here and the stadium is only about 20 minutes away. We must have been good luck charms because the Panthers have had a fantastic season so far.

September

In September of this year, my family lost my grandmother and my aunt, just two days apart. Even though this later part of the year has been marked by grief, for me, it has also been a season of profound trust and rejoicing in the grace of God. He loves us so much that I only need to say a “see you later” to these two incredible women in my life.

October 

I love taking day trips back up to the mountains! For my Dad’s birthday weekend, we drove up to Boone, where I lived for four years for college, and took in some of the last of the Fall colors.

December 

The first Christmas without my Grandmother and Aunt Shelia was surreal, but if strength is in numbers, than my mom certainly has that. My grandmother’s wishes were for our family to never stop coming together on December 26 for our Christmas gathering, and I think we did her proud,

Oh hi, Graham Gano (#9)
Love this city!

My mom and I always seem to get into the silliest adventures, but this one was pretty fun! The hometown team, the Carolina Panthers, have had a spectacular season so far, despite their first loss this past Sunday. 14-1 is nothing to be ashamed of! I’ve never watched as much football as I have this season, but the excitement and pride in Charlotte is contagious and this season has been a blast! We joined hundreds of other fans at Bank of America stadium to welcome the team home after their loss to Atlanta, which I think surprised a few of the players. Go Panthers!

What are some of your highlights from 2015?

Every Bitter Thing is Sweet // A Grateful Heart

Good Morning, my lovely friends. It’s the last Monday of 2015, can you believe it? As I sit here, curled up with my cup of coffee, I am overwhelmed with the gratitude that I feel. I feel grateful for the precious moments with family from the past few days and I even feel grateful for the hardships that we have faced, not just in 2015, but in the last two years. God has certainly worked within these heartaches to bring me closer to him and I could not be more thankful for that.

This Christmas certainly looked a bit different than those of previous years. Christmas Day is a pretty low-key affair in our house. We wake up around 9 or so and get ourselves some coffee before diving in. When my mom has opened her gifts, she heads into the kitchen to make sausage biscuits for everyone. The rest of the day is spent packing coolers and preparing to drive up to see my mom’s side of the family. My mom’s side of the family does their big Christmas gathering on the 26th, in order to give everyone a chance to spend Christmas with their individual families.

What I love about large, Southern families is that any gathering brings out all of the delicious family recipes. We divide up the cooking responsibilities between the children and grandchildren, although many of my aunts and uncles are passing down their dishes/recipes to my cousins and I. I can see that in the next couple of years, my generation is going to be running the show soon enough.

Despite my Grandmother and Aunt Shelia not being with us, the family carried on as we always do; through lots of love and laughter. I can’t put into words how grateful I am for my loud, crazy family. The best I can do is just say that, growing up, my sister and I were blessed with aunts and uncles that were like “extra” parents to us. I felt a slight pang in my heart when I realized that there were only nine people in this photo, rather than the 11 it was at our last gathering in May, but the amount love here is indescribable.

My mom and her brothers and sisters!

I hope that you all had very blessed and precious memories made with your families this Christmas and I pray that we all begin this new year with a heart full of immeasurable gratitude for this sweet life God has blessed us with.

This post is a part of Ember Grey’s Grateful Heart linkup and it’s open all week long! Check out her blog here and link up your blog post!

A Grateful Heart with Ember Grey

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