Happy 2018! Let it be a New Year

New Year New Me - it's a phrase that I'm taking as my motto for 2018, I'm leaving things of my past in the past in 2017, and bringing forward the lessons learned and leaving the baggage behind. That's what the Devil wants - for us to continue to drag our baggage forward with us into each new day, new year, and new experience. 

I'll be honest that 2017 didn't end the way I wanted it to end. I had plans for myself and relationships that did not come to fruition the way I planned. So when the ball dropped at midnight I sat regretful about what didn't come to pass. The next morning I was still hungover with regrets. What a way to start the new year! So as I sat doing my morning devotional (which is one of my 2018 intentions, spending my first thoughts of the day with God) I was struck with a message about my own contentment and pride. 

During my devotion I had a heart moment about my pride. It was my pride that believed that I had better plans than God. It was my pride that allowed me to try and plan out my future. It was my pride that was upset when it didn't happen on my timeline. So it was my pride that opened the door for Satan to come in and use my insecurities to drive me farther into regret. It was also my pride that didn't allow me to be content in the experiences that God gives me in each day.

Proverbs 16:18 "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall."

Boy had I fallen!! So I decided in that moment I was going to stop feeling sorry for myself and start being content in my situation.

The apsotle Paul has this overwhelming desire that he is being called to go to Rome and preach, and if you follow along through Acts, you'll see that Paul's journey was not a direct route, nor was it a particularly glamorous or well received. when get to Acts 27 Paul is finally on his way to Rome, but as a prisioner, and the ship he was on hits a storm, the boat is destroyed, and he and the crew are washed to shore. Paul's dream of going to Rome had been YEARS in the making, only to be delayed further by a shipwreck.  But that didn't stop Paul from being content in the situation God placed him in, God needed for Paul to experience that storm. I believe God doesn't always stop the storm or remove us from the hurt and discomfort. in fact I know that he uses that storm to draw us into experiences we need. Because if you finish reading into Acts 28 you'll see that God uses Paul's shipwreck on Malta to heal people and preach the word  

Paul, now in jail, writes to the church in Phillippi: 

Philippians 4:11-13 " “Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”

‭‭Dont miss the meaning of this verse and it's place in the text. Paul is not content because he has what he planned for or the perfect life! No! Paul's a prisioner! Paul was content because he knew God had it all handled  

 

So I decided to make a change in myself this new year, and instead of it being a resolution, I want it to be an intention. I intend to be content in everyday and every experience. In the good, bad, ugly, joyous, sad, happy, fearful, whatever it is... I will be content. Because if I constantly focus on the future or past, I lose the meaning of the experience I'm in and I lose my focus on God who has it handled.  That doesn't mean I don't prepare for the future or I'm complacent, it means that each thing that happens I know that God is sovereign in handling. So no matter what happened in the past or happens in the future, I know that God has it all in his sovereign control. And if I get so busy looking at past and future and comparing, I won't be content in the moment I'm in, and I miss the opportunity to be in the moment and experience what I need for the next season of life.  If a farmer misses a step in the planting process - the harvest is not there. In being content I know that what happens can be handled by God and I will be ok; if I get a job or don't, if I get married or not, if i move or don't, if I have much or I have little - God is sovereign! 

So I intend to be content in everything that happens, what I'm called to and away from, knowing I have a sovereign God who holds my past, present, and future!   

PAUSE & JOURNAL: what do you intend to leave in your 2017? What do you intend to bring forward with you into 2018? What does being content look like to you?  

PRAYER: Heavenly Father and sovereign God... you are the Great I AM! You were there in the past, in my present, and future. You know all things and can do all things. I confess that I've not always allowed you to be in control and I've tried to do it myself. But yet so lovingly you comfort and correct me. thank you for your grace and mercy. I pray Lord that you will lead me not just into a new year, but every new day and new moment and experience with contentment. Give me a spirit of peace knowing your sovereign over all things! Amen 🙏🏽 

 

"God works for the good for those who love him and are called according to his purpose " Romans 8:28 

 

 

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Thirty and Flirty - Lifes Greatest Treat are Dear Sweet Friends

One of the hardest parts of getting older is making new friends. As we get older we get stuck in our ways and accustomed to the people who know us. So when moving to any new place making friends is hard. No matter how old you are moving is hard, and having no friends in your new place can make it lonely and boring. I mentioned in an earlier post that I picked up everything and moved across the country to a place where I knew no one. One of the hardest parts of moving has been meeting friends. 

When we are younger we take for granted the natural places that we make our friends. Growing up I had my friends from church, school, sports, and summer camps. Some of my friendships overlapped categories but I had these wonderful built in opportunities for meeting friends. I have been blessed to retain some of these friendships and had opportunities to build others, the one constant was staying in the same place I grew up. so when I decided to move I knew I would have to work hard to hang onto these treasured people! 

As I write this I'm listening to a group of women brunch and share stories and themselves with each other. They are laughing and having a good time and I feel a little like saying "Hi, I'm new and I would like be friends with you and brunch together." For whatever reason I dont say anything and they leave. I never want to replace these treasured best friends of mine that I left when I moved, but I know that I need to build new connections here in my new place. 

Now naturally most people would make friends in a new place potentially through their spouse, like coworkers or mutual acquaintances, or children through sports, school, or neighborhood. But when you are single, those opportunities aren't available. So being the thirty and vibrant single woman I am, I have to think outside the box! (Like asking random people at brunch to be there friend)

One place I have started working to meet new potential friends is church. This is a big part of who I am and feel that having women with a heart after God in my life is vitally important. I believe that God puts people in our lives to draw us closer and deeper to him. So it's important that we have those women who can grow with us in friendship and in Christ. 

I have also gotten involved with my local sorority alumnae chapter and The Junior League. These are great places to meet other women because they often share your values and their membership is often a range of women in age, lifestyle, professions, and interests. There are often monthly socials and opportunities to gather and meet. The upside of this is that there are instant conversation starters about how and why you joined, and in case of sorority, a shared ritual and sisterhood. 

Another place I've looked to meet people is through fitness avenues. I love dancing and even tried out for an NFL cheerleading team. So I knew that it was something I could get involved with that would be fun and maybe meet people. I just did a google search of adult dance classes in the area and found one that fit my schedule, price, and dance level. It's great because I'm getting in a good workout and find other women who share that same interest. I also joined a softball league and was put on a team with random people and this has opened doors to meeting other people, not just friends. There are tons of opportunities for organized sports and fitness. So Even if you aren't into organized sports there are places to be active and meet people, and it's just so important as a thriving 30 something to have an active lifestyle (I will talk about this in my next blog post). 

Its also important to branch out and meet people from work, or at least in your profession. I have found that having a few close friends at work help with reducing stress and job related tension. They help you to vent about work related issues because they understand your work environment or profession. So find a couple ladies you can go to happy hour with or find a professional networking opportunity. These will also help with life and career plans in the future.  

I love my friends from home and the memories we have and the connections we've developed will never go away. I know that I can call them up anytime and share my struggles or joys. We have regular text conversations and getting regular FaceTime chats scheduled, is hard but not impossible, but nothing replaces meeting them face to face for brunch, laughing, and hugs. I also know that if I'm going to be happy in this new place that I can going to build a new network of support and friendships.  

Pause & Journal: do you have several important friends in your life, who are those people, how did you meet them? What is one thing you value from each of those people? How do those people keep you grounded and help you grow? What is something you struggle with in making new friends?

Pray: Lord, I pray that would put women in my life whom I can call friends. I pray Lord that these women would have a heart for you and help me to grow as a woman and friend. I also pray Lord over my current relationships and friends that you would bless those relationships, build them stronger, and grow them deeper. I pray that no matter the distance between us you would bind the ties together into an unbreakable chain. Thank you Lord for these strong, intelligent, wonderful, caring, and beautiful women you allow me to call friends, watch over them and keep them. Amen 

“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” Proverbs‬ ‭27:17‬ 

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While these are all the beautiful, talented, intelligent women I'm blessed to call friends, these are some and the pictures I could find that were good 😃 So if you aren't here don't worry I still like you! 

Thirty and Faith - Being Content in this Season

It is so hard in society today to not want to keep up with the person next to us. We want to keep up with their clothes, accomplishments, achievements, and milestones. Except we dont want to keep up with their heartaches, hurts, and struggles. We want all the good blessing but none of the hard work or heartache. I will tell you the specific struggle I face is looking at all my friends with their beautiful families and marriages and wondering when that will become my blessing. For several years I let this consume me and eat away at the joy and happiness I was supposed to be having in that season.

I can remember one specific day where I broke down into an ugly cry for almost a whole day. It wasnt pretty but it was real, it was something very real that I had to deal with. I was so consumed with how unfair it was that there were people who I believed didn't deserved to be married or have kids who did, and they were taking them for granted. It was painful to watch and I thought it was so unfair that I was a good person and it wasnt me getting the marriage proposal or kids. And then as if he were standing in my bedroom God said to me, "Fairness ended in the Garden, now get up and do as I've called you!" WOW, thanks God that was harsh, but in that moment, so what I needed!

And He was right... several months later I was given a specific call to start the process of moving across the country. I was being called to pick up and leave everything, friends, family, job, and house - to leave the place I had called home for 32+ years - and move to California. God has used that experience to grow me into the woman he has needed to fulfill a specific mission here! But we need to be partners with God in creating those experiences and that means being CONTENT in the season he has placed us in for now. If I had dragged my feet in his calling, I would have missed all the doors he opened along the way. Its almost like a divine street of green lights - if i would have sped up or slowed down at the wrong moment I would have missed all of Gods green lights and would have had to wait for the next opportunity.

We are all called to endure different seasons in our lives for different reasons. Things will not happen on our timetable, they happen on Gods timeline. Believe it our not God has great plans that are so specific that only you can fulfill! How awesome and scary is that! That God has so woven me into his plans that there are things only I can accomplish in His kingdom! But dear woman if we are constantly worried about when, where, and how the next season will arrive and what it will bring, we miss the mission and purpose of this season.  When we are all in with God he allows us to be tested and tried so that we will be strengthened in him. I can tell you that some of the hardest seasons of my life have prepared me for the next season, either of blessing or trail.

Philippians 4:13 says "I can do all things through Him who gives me strength." and yes that versus is SO TRUE, but read the versus leading up to it "... for I have learned to be to CONTENT whatever the circumstances and that no matter what I have or do not have, hungry or fed, living in plenty or want, the secret of being CONTENT, is that I can do all things through HIM" (Philippians 4:11-13, paraphrased). YES, I can do all things but only when I am CONTENT in the season God has put me in for his purpose! He will provide all I need for that season in preparation for the next, all I have to do is be obedient and trust him.

Pause & Journal:  What season has God placed you in that you are either trying to move out of or into? Read Psalm 40:1 "I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry" Do you feel God has heard your cries, why or why not? What are some things you are struggling with in this season? Do you take these struggles to God through prayer and petition?

Prayer: Father, I thank you for the season that you have me in now. I thank you that you have a plan so enormous that as creation but yet so detailed that you have a specific plan for me. Thank you Father for knowing me and having a part for me. Lord, I pray that you would help me to be content in this season you have me in and that you would use this season to prepare me for the next. I pray that you would strengthen me when I want to give up and encourage me on days when I succeed. Help to do what you have planned for me to bring glory to your name, Lord! Amen

 

 

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Happy Fourth of July

I hope everyone is enjoying their Fourth of July 🇺🇸💥 Take time to celebrate with your family and friends, but remember to take time and reflect on today. We should continue to fight for what we believe - our values, our principles, our freedoms, and against persecution and oppression! 

Spending the fourth in the place that started the Revolution, on the banks of the Charles River, Boston, MA

Spending the fourth in the place that started the Revolution, on the banks of the Charles River, Boston, MA

getting ready for fireworks 💥    As we celebrate Independence Day let's remember it's a time to celebrate and remember the true freedom to not to do as we please, but the liberty to do as we ought. We are free to shine and share the love of Jesus!   

getting ready for fireworks 💥 

 

As we celebrate Independence Day let's remember it's a time to celebrate and remember the true freedom to not to do as we please, but the liberty to do as we ought. We are free to shine and share the love of Jesus!   

 “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people he chose for his inheritance.”  Psalm‬ ‭33:12‬ ‭NIV‬‬

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Thirty and Fashion - Update Your Style

One of the great things about turning 30 is the ability to flip and switch and reinvent yourself ... and your CLOSET! Turning 30 was a chance, and excuse, to switch up my style without justification. There's also the added bonus that you get to buy some new clothes. The important thing in updating your new style is being true to yourself and your personality while also finding clothing that fits your age and body type! 

One way that I took to updating my style was using Pinterest! This let me explore styles and see how other people out the pieces together. I started by searching for something I already had in my closet, like blue dress pants. I then pinned outfits that I liked that I thought were professional, appropriate, modest, and reasonable for me to do without stylist. I would look at the pieces they paired together and would look through my closet to find the same or similar pairings. Then I started to put together outfits I pinned with items I already had in my closet. The great thing about Pinterest is that now it starts to recommend things based on previous pins. So I can keep updating my look as I go and can search for outfits before I before I buy something. When I go shopping I don't just grabbing anything and everything off the shelves, I now have a plan for what I need to add to my closet. I can also explore what trends were best for my lifestyle and the brand I wanted to portray. If an outfit that I wore didn't get quite the reaction that I was looking for or didn't look right for me, I would just unpin the outfit from my lookbook and find another pairing.

I also go through my closet and get rid of outdated, old, tattered, and wrong size clothes; while I kept the staple pieces I already had in my closet. Every time I add something new to my closet I get rid of something in the same category. So if I buy a pair of new shoes I need to remove a pair that are worn, broken, or unused; and the same things goes with shirts, pants, and YES BRAS!!! This helps your closet from getting crowded and unused. Its also important to be realistic about your size. I know its hard to come to terms with but keeping those "when i lose 20lbs jeans" or outfits are just taking up space for the new things that will make you look stunning now. Also, lets be honest when you do lose that 20lbs do you want to go back to jeans you had 10yrs ago, or would you rather celebrate with a pair of new, better fitting jeans!

Some of you might be saying, "well i just don't have the fashion eye that you do and I end up looking like a peacock!" It took me a couple years for my fashion eyes to come into focus. I had to train myself to look at fashion differently, as not just clothes to put on but as a way to communicate my personality, mood, and presence. I started to look at fashion as a way to make a statement about myself when I entered a room, was I going to enter PUT TOGETHER or thrown together. I wanted my style, both professional and causal, to speak for me even if I couldn't say anything. The most important part of changing up my fashion style doing it for myself. I had to get out of the mindset of just throwing on jeans and t-shirt or yoga pants, and really take pride in how I looked. I'm not dressed to the 9s everyday but I do make an effort to be intentional everyday. 

I find that I like Lauren Conrad from Kohls to help add signature pieces. She provides updated styles and trends for my age and body type. I also like Banana Republic and Old Navy pants for their professional look and fit. If you have the time and energy going to places like Nordstrom Rack, Marshalls, and TJ Max you can get some great top of the line pieces, but you have to be willing to sort through all the racks. Step up your Target game and stop just buying clearance, their Merona line is great professional, they have comfy t-shirts and camis, and they also have really great shoes. There are also some great boutiques through Instagram like Dottie Couture and Magnolia that have trendy outfits for us 30-somethings.  Now when I go shopping I have a plan of things I'm looking for, I will wait for sales and discounts, and I know what makes me look and feel good.

If you don't have that fashion eye there are great personal styling options now through Stitchfix.com, wantable.com and trunkclub.com offer great options for both men and women!

Here are a couple of my looks:  

Thirty and Fitness - Regular Exercise Habit

I grew up being very active playing sports. I was a gymnast, cheerleader, played softball, basketball, and even dabbled in bowling. I was always doing something active. When I got to college I now had the freedom to manage and coordinate my schedule - when I would eat, sleep, and play. I stayed relatively active with dance and softball, but I did not maintain my regular workout routines. I also discovered that I was now in control of what I could eat whenever I wanted. Let's just say there were several late night pizza and taco runs, not to mention I turned 21 my sophomore year. So no matter how fit I thought I was, my lifestyle was not conducive to keeping my weight at bay. 

After college I went straight into graduate school for two years and then into a full-time professional career. Neither of those experiences left much room for regular exercise. I was also constantly surrounded by more college food, and the kicker this time is that it was mostly free! So add up 50-60 hour work weeks and free pizza and burgers, and you get an extra 30lbs! wow!  

I have mentioned, and will continue to mention that turning 30 is a milestone. Whether it's a milestone that we create or society creates for us, it's a marker moment in our timeline. For me, turning 30 pushed me to make some changes, particularly to my lifestyle. One lifestyle change was learning to say no to food I didn't need or want. I also decided that it was time to start investing in my health and fitness. This meant I had to make the decision for me and not to please or impress others. Here are a few of the practical steps I took to lose 40lbs and keep it off:

1. Make the decision FOR YOU that you are ready to engage in a healthy lifestyle. Set a realistic goal for yourself and then start working towards that goal  

2. invest in products to help you reach your goal. I bought in a FitBit because I needed to know how many calories I was burning daily with just regular activity. I also started using the MyFitnessPal food tracker app to monitor not just WHAT I was eating but also HOW MUCH of it I was eating. Portion control is a big hurdle that I'll address in a future post

3. Be CONSISTENT. Track Daily. Exercise Daily. Smash Goals. Repeat!

4. Set up a challenge and reward for yourself. I challenged myself to run a half marathon and i needed to work towards that goal. Once I finished that half marathon I rewarded myself with a gift to mark my accomplishment. I bought myself tervis tumbler that says 13.1 so every time I use it remember what I overcame and what I am working towards.  

5. Get an accountability partner or coach. I told people my goals and I let them into my fitness journey. My fiends, coworkers, and family could then support me at meals, during workouts, and on vacation to stay true to those health goals.  (I'll do regular fitness posts but you can check out my page at www.beachbodycoach.com/meganbottoms or @30flirtythrive for tips and workouts)

6. Remember it's a process and journey, Be realistic!! It took me 10 years to put on that weight, it was not going to take me 10 days to get it off. I had to set realistic goals: first I started by walking, then running, the yoga, then weights. It's a constant journey that I will never be done with but I know it's a road I need to travel. 

Pause & Journal: Give yourself an honest health appraisal, how satisfied are you with your overall health including diet and exercise? Are you willing to make lifestyle changes? What are two health goals you have for yourself? What are three lifestyle changes you need to make? Who is someone that you trust to keep you faithful to your health journey?

Pray: ‬ ‭Lord, you have given us these lives as a means to glorify and honor you. Please help me to take care of my body, mind, and spirit and to have the discipline to fill it with good and healthy things. I ask that you give me the strength to push through the physical and mental difficulties. Put someone in my life who will help to encourage and support me. Amen

“Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.”
— 3 John‬ ‭1:2
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