2021 Verse and Intentions.

Hello everyone, and Happy New Year (18 days late). This year so far has been a whirlwind. This weekend has been the first time I feel like I’ve actually taken a breath and it has been much needed. Every year, I pick a verse that I feel led to be my verse for the year and share on the blog. My verse this year is 1 Peter 4:10-11 (NIV)—

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”

Over the past couple of years, I feel like God has blessed us in some pretty profound and unique ways, and I want to make sure I’m stewarding that well.

I’m not going to lie, I love the idea of a fresh start. It doesn’t have to be at the beginning of the year either. It can be in June for all I care, so I always get excited about the possibilities of what lies ahead. Here are three main intentions I want to carry with me this year—

To make vision and mission-based decisions rather than fear based decisions.

To love rather than judge; to serve rather than criticize.

To see as God sees, so I can do as He says.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Also—here’s my verse for 2020, and 2019, and 2018.

What 2020 is Teaching Me.

“If you want to change the world, go home and love your family”
Mother Teresa

We’ve been through this before, friends, and I’ll say it again—2020 was quite the year! There was some very low lows, but also some very high highs, and I think it’s important to remember both! I’m taking this week to reflect, rest, and prepare for the new year. I hope that this holiday season has been restful for you, filled with people that matter, even at a distance. I hope that you’ve eaten cookies and turkey and mashed potatoes without one concern for how many calories were consumed. I hope that you have slept in at least one day, rose with no agenda other than to just… be. Here’s what 2020 is teaching me.

2020 is teaching me that there is nothing more important than faith and family (hence the quote from above). This year, I was quarantined with the love of my life and I truly treasured our time together. We’ll probably never have that opportunity again. We both lived and worked from home and it was beautiful. The world seemed to be crashing around us, but if there’s one take-away I have from that season, it’s that I was allowed time with my wife that I normally would’ve never gotten.

2020 is teaching me about rhythms. The world is training us to run a rat race, non-stop. Holidays aren’t holidays anymore. Evenings after work are filled with email notifications and I just don’t think this is how we’re designed to live. So, I’m learning to turn to things off when I need to rest.

2020 is teaching me a new love for cooking. I dabbled into the sourdough craze before it was cool. I started my sourdough starter in February, completely oblivious to the looming pandemic that was coming in the next month. 2020 gave me (and is still giving me) the opportunity to try new recipes and time to perfect old recipes.

2020 is teaching me to make my health a priority. I began my attempt to change my lifestyle in January of 2019, and 2020 just further carried me through that journey. This year, I’ve learned to love running—to truly crave it as a form of therapy. It’s no longer just about exercise, although some days it still feels that way. It’s about feeding my soul.

2020 is teaching me that a healthy balance is key. Along with making my health a priority, if you think I’m going through this life without donuts, you’d be mistaken. This year, I’ve learned that moderation is key when maintaining a certain weight. I’m still learning this, but I’ve come leaps and bounds this year.

2020 is teaching me to hold disappointment in one hand, and gratitude in the other. We can truly have both. There’s something beautiful about looking disappointment straight in the eye with gratitude surrounding you.

2020 is teaching me that our world—our ecosystem, our government, our strands of communication, and above all, humanity are very fragile.

2020 is teaching me that God is still up to something in our lives. We’re on the cusp of a transitional year—I can feel it. I also imagine it won’t look like anything we have planned, as in true fashion. I’ve been around long enough to know that typically, God never opens doors the way we expect them to be opened, but they’re always better than what we think.

I hope in the midst of all the negative events this year, you will choose to see the positive and walk boldly in 2021.

Thoughts on Rest this Holiday Season

What a year! Am I right???

You’ll have to forgive me—I simply don’t know how else to start this post. I’m sitting here, having coffee as the lights of my Christmas tree radiate the dark room. The sun still hasn’t come up. I’m awake, partially due to the curse/blessing of being a morning person, but also because we live with a dog that specifically requires a potty break and his breakfast at 5:30a.m. sharp.

These mornings give me an opportunity to slow down a little and reflect on this year and what has happened and what will happen in the future. This year was a lot. I think we can all agree that this year has shook us in one varying degree or another.

This year feels different, and not just because we’re in the midst of a global pandemic and don’t know what to do with ourselves. This year, I find myself craving a break. A break from the norm. A break from work. A break from the day to day—probably more so than ever. The onset of the pandemic has completely turned our lives upside down, which is why I’m intentionally creating the space in my life for rest. Real, true, deep rest on the soul level that my body needs to be the best person I can be in 2021. I’ll be honest—I’m tired, mentally, emotionally, physically tired. This year has been a rollercoaster—ups, downs, curves, flips, all while going what seems to feel like 85mph on a track that we can barely see in front of us. So, I need it. I need it for me. I need it for my wife. I need it for my family. I need it for my work. I think a lot of people confuse rest with laziness, but I find that it’s completely the opposite. We’ve turned into a society that thrives on fast-paced workaholism, but it only leads to burn out in the end. My work has always been extremely important to me, so much so that I’ve always struggled separating it from my personal life, but my family is number one. Always has been, always will be. What we must do is figure out what is non-negotiable in our lives—the things that are crucial to who we are and what define us. For me, it’s my faith, wife, and family. In order to give my very best, I have to choose to make rest a priority. Rest is an essential component to productivity. This Christmas, what I”m craving most is spending time with people I love the most. I’m craving time doing the things that fill me up and give me life. These are the things that will carry me into 2021 able to do the things I need to do.

So, I’m getting off the ride. I’m stepping off of the roller coaster. I’m not going to flip and turn and spin. I’m going to rest. My body needs it and maybe yours does too. I know the world says something different, but I believe there is much value in choosing to rest. Choosing rest doesn’t make us stagnant. Rest allows us the opportunity to move us from what we’ve done to what is yet to come in our lives.

I hope this holiday season finds you on the receiving end of what you need most, whatever that may be. Our well being shouldn’t be contingent upon the opinions of those around us or how our choices may appear to others. When we settle ourselves on the shoulders of other’s expectations, we begin to sacrifice our own needs. So, this Christmas, I hope you take time to take in what’s around you, to choose to remember the good this year, and learn from the bad as we look ahead to 2021.

We Need Each Other.

Hello Friends!

It’s been a little while since I posted on the ole blog, but I wanted to break my silence to share some things that have been on my heart over the past 24 hours.

Yesterday, we received what felt like a massive amount of bad news from several friends and family members. We heard from one family member, then another, then a friend, then a co-worker. This morning, things feel… heavy. I just don’t have any other word for it.

We have friends and family that are facing illnesses, sudden deaths, news that they feared the most, and when I think about all of this, combined with what 2020 has been so far, it reminds me of a very important truth—we need each other.

We need each other, not to tear one another down, but to lift each other up. The scrapes and bruises of life are hard, some stinging more than others, which is why we need friends and family to stand beside us and walk with us and encourage us. I really believe that’s who God has called us to be. We were never designed to be alone, whether we think we were or not.

Stay safe, friends!

New Orleans

Summer is definitely in full swing and we’re out here trying to make the most of it. What have you been up to so far this summer? We’ve been in Mississippi the past few weeks visiting family and basically eating all the fried catfish I can find.

While in Mississippi, we decided to take a quick trip down to New Orleans for a night. New Orleans holds a special place in our hearts. We have family not too far from the city and we also took our first trip as a couple there when we were dating for her birthday!

When we arrived, it was lunch time, so we stopped at Louisiana Pizza Kitchen for pasta.

I got the gulf shrimp and crab pasta with roasted tomatoes and basil in a lemon butter sauce. Ashlynn had the Bolognese. Both were incredible!

After lunch, we walked down through the French Quarter to Cafe Du Monde for dessert. If you’ve never had a beignet from Cafe du Monde, it is an experience all in itself. Sitting in the French Quarter, covered just about head to toe in powdered sugar is pretty close to heaven in my opinion.

Next, we headed to our hotel. We stayed at The Eliza Jane, a boutique hotel on Magazine. If you ever want a centrally located hotel, we highly recommend.

The hotel is only a couple of years old. They have a restaurant on site, but it was closed due to COVID-19. We really enjoyed our stay here and will stay here again next time we’re in New Orleans.

We decided to stay in rather than going out to eat, so we ordered delivery from Oceana Grill. Ashlynn had a sampler of crawfish étouffée, gumbo, and red beans and rice, and I had the shrimp po-boy.

The next morning, before heading out, we stopped and had brunch at Stanley in the French Quarter.

I ate the crab cakes Benedict and Ashlynn had bacon, eggs, and grits. They also had incredible coffee!

This trip was so much fun and a much needed getaway! There were so many places friends recommended that we weren’t able to get to. One of the best guides I found is on Joy The Baker’s blog. If you’re planning a trip, it’s definitely worth taking a look!