Give the gift that gives back

In a recent study, Facebook discovered that those who passively consume their newsfeed are more miserable than those who interact with others—especially with comments.

Surprised? I’m not the least bit surprised!

Here’s why…

Because, *most* (I realize it is not all) people who comment on FB are saying nice things and lifting people up.

I believe with all my heart that it comes down to the following principle…

Blessed are those who bless others.

I try to do this—to bless others with my words and actions, in social media and all of life. Now, I admit, I do not do this perfectly. I’m human and I have messed up big-time in the past.

BUT, in recent years, I have prayerfully attempted to be very intentional about using my words for good. And I have found that as I encourage and lift up others, I rarely, if ever, feel miserable or jealous! And when I do, it’s because I have grown slack in this area.

When we lift up and bless and encourage people around us, we lift up ourselves. Every single time.

It’s impossible to feel jealous and miserable when we want good for others, when we cheer others on, when we use our words and actions to bless.

And if the person doesn’t respond or appreciate our kindness? It’s OKAY!! It really, truly is.

It’s always, always better to be a person who blesses others—even when they won’t or can’t (for whatever reason) reciprocate or appreciate kindness. I know it can sting a bit in the moment. But in the long-run, it’s so much better for YOUR heart and soul to let their behavior GO and continue to bless others. It’s healing, even, to do so.

Because, when we are stingy with our words and actions, we become miserable and jealous. Ironically, when we withhold them from others and cling to them for ourselves, we actually end up with LESS. Less joy and peace and contentment.

INSTEAD, when we choose to pour out our words and deeds to bless others (even those who don’t “deserve” our kindness), they are multiplied and poured down  onto our OWN heads as well. Not only is the other person blessed, but we are filled to the brim with joy and peace and contentment. It becomes the gift that gives back.

And that’s something that can’t be manufactured or wrapped in a box.

Wishing you a VERY Merry Christmas,

P.S. This is not a principle I came up with on my own. My own natural inclination is to think about myself and only be kind to those who are kind to me. It’s something I have learned and applied from studying the Bible and through prayer.

P.P.S. If you don’t have your own copy of the Bible and would like one, I’d love to give one to you. Just leave a comment below!

4 things to keep SAD away

SADIt’s here! The darkest day of the year! Most people aren’t celebrating it. But let’s! Because it only gets brighter each day from here on out, right? And we’re that much closer to glorious spring.

Unfotunately, today also marks a time of year when many people struggle with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).

It affects millions of people a year. And if you happen to be female, like me, you are more likely to be affected. Although, there are plenty of guys who struggle with it as well.

I’ll never forget experiencing SAD the first winter I lived in Boston six years ago. It hit me like a ton of bricks. We had a toddler and baby at the time. I remember feeling like I could hardly get off the couch, much less accomplish the long list of things I needed to each day.

Brance and I decided to research what I could do naturally to help first. If how I felt didn’t improve in a reasonable amount of time, I planned to visit my doctor.

Thankfully, once I began to make changes, things almost immediately improved for me!!

Here are four simple things I did (and continue to do) to keep SAD away.

1. Supplement with Vitamin D3 (3,000- 4,000 IU daily).

I do this in the summer as well, usually taking a little less because I’m getting some D3 naturally through sun exposure. (Although, word to the wise, sunscreen will block your ability to absorb D3)

2. Spend 20-30 minutes outside every day.

I even did this during the coldest months while living in Boston!! I’d bundle up in a down coat and many days wear snow boots too, ha. It’s so important to be exposed to natural light and especially in the morning, if possible.

3. Exercise for 15-30 minutes a day.

I have been so, so good to do this for the last six years… until 2 months ago. Ugh. We moved and I have been balancing a lot. I want to get back to this, though. Because it really does help!

4. Supplement with Magnesium (200-400 mg) or soak in Epsom salts (to naturally absorb Magnesium).

I swear by this. I have struggled with anxiety for years. And when I finally added this to my regimen (Vitamin D3 supplementation helps a lot as well), the anxiety completely disappeared. In my book, anxiety and depression are evil twins of the same mother. They often accompany one another.

I hope these 4 things help you enjoy this darker time of year more!

SAD can become a serious condition. If it has for you, I would recommend seeking medical help.




4 Homemade Beautiful Kid-friendly Ornaments

The girls and I have plans to make ornaments twice this December. Once with another homeschool family and once with their AHG troop.

So I scoured the web looking for ones that are cute AND can be made mostly without grownup help. Because isn’t it a lot more fun for kids if they make it all on their own!?

I hate that so many of the actual cute homemade ornaments out there basically require grown-up assembly from start to finish—with hot glue guns or sewing or cutting with a knife etc.

And I didn’t want to compromise in the cuteness department. You know, opting for something that would look chintzy or fall apart before Christmas.

So, here are four I found that are adorable and can actually be made by kids. (Some of them do require some grownup prep and/or a few adaptations to be totally kid friendly.)

I found these cinnamon ornaments on Wholefully. Aren’t they great?!

We had friends give us something similar as a Christmas present two years ago. The girls loved them, they smelled delicious (ahhh…cinnamon is heavenly), plus they’re much prettier than the traditional salt dough ornaments I made as a child. Don’t you think? A win all the way around in my book.

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