Challenge Yourself…Intentionally

Challenge Yourself...Intentionally - How to use challenges to better your life this year and every year.

“New year, new me!”

Did you see this in your Facebook newsfeed a few weeks ago? How about the posts of varying levels of making fun of such posts? I had both in my feed. It’s kind of amazing to me how pessimistic so many people have become about things like resolutions and goals.

I’ll say it again, I’m a fan of goals and resolutions, or whatever you want to call them. I believe them to fall in the same vein as Proverbs 29:18a – “Where there is no vision, the people perish“. Goals give us a vision of what the future can look like.

Does that mean our future WILL look like our vision? Not always. Sometimes we start out with certain goals for specific reasons and along the way we realize that God had different reasons. And sometimes that reason is for us to fail.

Yes, I believe that God wants us to fail sometimes. Is that scandalous? It totally flies in the face of any prosperity or candy-coated gospel, for sure. Life as a Christian isn’t all sunshine and roses. If it was, why would we need faith in God? Why would we still need a savior?

Yep, I believe God wants us to fail sometimes because it reminds us of three things:

  1. We can’t do this alone.
  2. His grace is sufficient for our shortcomings.
  3. He is always working in us for a greater good.

Actually there are more reasons, but suffice it to say that we learn a great deal from our failings and God is more concerned with growing us in our faith than He is with our earthly circumstances.

This is why I don’t mind setting new goals, even if I didn’t meet a previous goal. I want to always be learning and growing.

Enough backstory, now I want to challenge you.

One of the best ways to jumpstart change in your life is by taking up a challenge. What kind of challenge? Well, that depends on what problem you want solved and your end-goal. Let’s break it down a bit by common areas people look to make change in their life.

Faith

Does your faith feel stagnant? Don’t be satisfied with that! Listen for that still small voice in your heart and see where God wants to grow you. Consider challenging yourself in these areas:

Prayer

Reading the Bible

  • Pick a topical study of the Bible and do it daily.
  • Read through the Bible or a portion of the Bible in a set timeframe.
  • Commit to reading the Bible daily for a week or month (baby-step it, whatever you need to do to create a better habit with this).
  • Choose a book of the Bible and read it every day for a week.

Service

Daily Life

If you want to see improvement in some area of your life, challenge yourself to start today. Are you miserable in your job? Map out a plan to change jobs or even career fields. Set a time frame and get going! A few other ideas:

  • Reduce your spending. Challenge yourself to not spend any money for a whole month (outside of necessities that you decide upon BEFORE starting).
  • Save more money. Do you have a daily purchase like coffee or lunch out? Or maybe a bigger weekly/monthly purchase like dinners out? Commit to skipping that for a month (or 2-3 if it is a bigger/more sporadic expense) and saving the money in a special account.
  • De-Clutter. Are you overwhelmed by the amount of STUFF in your life? Try out a de-cluttering challenge, there are a LOT of options out there. A few to consider – 10 Minutes a Day, 31 days to clutter free, or do a mini challenge.
  • Better food choices. Give up sugar for a month. Drop your daily coffee or soda. Try meatless Monday for a month. Add a green smoothie to your day for a week. Pick your weakest area and challenge yourself to make better choices (spell it out better than that though).
  • Move more. Sit at a desk job? Commit to standing while talking on the phone for two weeks. Or use your break time to take a quick walk outside all week. Work at home or are a stay at home parent in a rut? Set a timer each hour for 10 minutes and climb steps, stretch, bounce on a rebounder, or go outside and pull some weeds in the garden.
  • Keeping a clean home. Try leaving your sink empty each night for a week. Or challenge yourself to clean something everyday that you won’t have to touch again for at least 2 weeks.

Health

  • Weight loss. If you are struggling with weight loss, commit to no sugar for a time of at least 21 days. This will help reset your cravings and likely jumpstart your loss.
  • Drink more water. Try setting a goal of 6-8 glasses of water each day for a week or more and then see how you feel at the end.
  • Exercise. If exercise is a 4-letter word to you, but you want to lose weight, tone up, or boost your energy…you’re going to need to add exercise to your list. Challenge yourself to try a new form of exercise every day (or 3-5x’s per week) for a couple weeks. By trying new things, you may find a form of exercise that you just love to do!
  • Kick bad habits. Pick one and hyper-focus your efforts to kick it to the curb. Replace bad habits with good ones. It takes 21 days to create a new habit, so be patient with yourself.

Intentional Living

The whole point of these challenges is to try something new. Make different choices to see different results. It really isn’t about the goal, it is about the day-to-day decisions that lead you there. Be intentional to challenge yourself this year and see where God takes you!

Living the Intentional Life

Living the Intentional Life

Life goes by so fast. These kids keep just growing up. Birthdays just keep coming. And it is GOOD. It’s just so easy to get wrapped up in the details and miss the big picture. Or is it just me?

Every year I choose one word to set the tone for my year. I have varying levels of success with this, but I continue on because I find it helpful.

Previous Years:

The year 2015 is another big year for me in some ways. The most bittersweet happening is that my oldest child will enter her teen years. I have been hit in the face with the realization that she will be entering the adult phase of her life in 5 years! Five years seemed so far away when she was born, but now that I’ve been a parent for awhile, I realize just how short those years will feel.

The big milestones are just going to keep coming. I don’t want to miss them! So this year’s word is Intentional because I need practice with this. I’m not a very intentional person. I tend to float through daily life.

Don’t get me wrong, I love goal setting and working towards meeting those goals. I’m just really bad about thinking ahead or outside of the box of right now. It’s probably why I’m so drawn to the idea of goal setting. Or something.

Living the Intentional Life

Since choosing a word alone doesn’t change anything, I have chosen some areas I want to focus on being intentional with and will spend time this year working on these.

  • Building my foundation. Over the last year, I came to realize that I do have a routine…and it’s not exactly efficient. The very first thing I want to be intentional about is building my foundation, putting first things first. I’ve not been very good at this traditionally because the things I want to do are not necessarily what is actually best for me. As cliche as it is, this means focusing on my health – spiritually and physically.
  • Stepping up my game. I have some big goals for 2015. I want to travel more. I want to have a successful garden again. I want to grow my blogging towards my goal of a full-time income. This will require consistent efforts in some areas that I have been kind of spotty with up to this point.
  • Focus on relationships. I am an introvert that lives a lot in my head. This doesn’t exactly build relationships. Add in that I get overwhelmed with lots of people interactions and I end up resembling more of a hermit than a person. I want to stretch my box and be intentional about building the relationships that matter in my life, with particular emphasis on my husband and children.
  • Identifying and utilizing my strengths. I have them, I know I do. At least, I think I do. I’ve not really given much thought to my strengths. Now, my weaknesses, those I am intimately familiar with…

Documenting the Intentional Life

If you have been around long enough to remember that I once entertained the idea of being a photographer, this will make you laugh. I am terrible at taking pictures! I am even more terrible at printing those pictures I DO take. This year I decided, NO MORE EXCUSES!

I now have an iPhone, iPad, a point and shoot camera, AND a DSLR that all take good to great pictures. Seriously.

Since I want to be intentional about taking photos of daily life, I decided that Instagram is the perfect tool for this. When my friend Dollie announced that she was looking for bloggers to partner with her for an Instagram challenge in 2015, it seemed like God was lighting up a big neon sign for me.

Capturing Life, Laughter, and Love is a subscriber Instagram challenge that provides a daily prompt (via a monthly graphic) to inspire your Instagram photo taking. I would love to have you join us! You can read more about it on the Capturing Life, Laughter, and Love page.

Or you can sign up below.

Holiday Style With Lilla Rose

Holiday Style With Lilla Rose

Lilla Rose is one of those companies I had never heard of before entering the blogging world. I did a giveaway series last year and one of the giveaways was for a Lilla Rose flexi clip that I received to review. After trying it out, I ended up signing up as a consultant because my girls and I loved it.

I’ve accumulated a small collection over the last year and in that time also found the world of Polyvore. Strange segue? Sorry, I’m awkward sometimes.

Polyvore is this fun place where people compile collections of items to make outfits. Kind of like a dream board for fashion. I found them through Pinterest last year when I was filling my New :: Style board with ideas for updating my lacking wardrobe.

Today, I have put the two together and have created some sets built around some Lilla Rose products. You can order them at my Lilla Rose Shop if you find one that strikes your fancy.

First up is Ruby Bouquet, built around the Ruby Bouquet flexi clip.

Ruby Bouquet

 

Next is one that is a little more glitzy, but not terribly flashy. This one features the Lovely Circle Gold bobbies.

Simple Glitz

 

You can check out the rest of my sets on Polyvore, too. I have a few so far.

Please tell me what colors you like to wear during the holiday season! I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Don’t forget, you can pick up all of your Lilla Rose needs through my link. 😉 If you have any questions, please let me know!

Sunday Psalms – Psalm 3:3-8

Sunday Psalms - Psalm 3:3-8 | Vicki-Arnold.com

I don’t typically write any additional commentary for the Sunday Psalms, but this one is a little special to me. This particular passage of scripture came to mean a lot to me and was my prayer many, many times when I was struggling with panic attacks. I pray it is a blessing to you, too.

“But thou, O Lord, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head. I cried unto the Lord with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah. I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the Lord sustained me. I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about. Arise, O Lord; save me, O my god: for thou hast smitten all mine enemies upon the cheek bone; thou hast broken the teeth of the ungodly. Salvation belongeth unto the Lord: thy blessing is upon they people. Selah.” – Psalm 3:3-8

My Top 5 Favorite Jeremy Camp Songs

My Top 5 Favorite Jeremy Camp Songs

Quite a while ago, I reviewed Jeremy Camp’s memoir called I Still Believe. I loved the book so much that I bought and gave away three copies. After reading the book, certain songs of his held more meaning because the stories behind them were so moving.

Book aside, the number one reason I love Jeremy’s work is that there is no doubt who he is singing about. His work is decidedly Christ-centered and I love that. My favorite Christian songs are those that a.) worship Jesus Christ and/or b.) could be prayers. Kind of like the psalms of the Bible (my favorite book of the Bible…probably not a surprise at this point).

Today, I’d like to share my favorite Jeremy Camp songs. This is not a countdown at all because I don’t think I could pick what order I like them.

My Top 5 Favorite Jeremy Camp Songs

Reckless

This falls in the heart prayer category. This is the life I desire to live, it’s also one that scares me a bit because of how I’ve seen that play out in the Bible.

My God

A declaration of faith that celebrates the resurrection of Christ and how it is only through that self-less and undeserved act that I can have hope.

Overcome

This song never fails to move me to tears. Christ’s death and resurrection is such a horrible and wonderful thing that amazes me when I think about it…which should probably happen more often.

The Way

“Lift high the King of Kings and Great I Am.” Ack, I love to worship with this one.

We Must Remember

I think one of the hardest things to let go of as a Christian is the guilt and shame that comes with past sins. This is a good reminder for those dealing with that.

I hope this post blesses you as much as it did my heart while putting it together. Do you have a favorite Jeremy Camp song?

Sunday Psalms – Psalm 113:3

Sunday Psalms - Psalm 113:3 - vicki-arnold.com

From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the Lord’s name is to be praised. – Psalm 113:3

Sunday Psalms – Psalm 104:13

Sunday Psalms - Psalm 104:13

He watereth the hills from his chambers: the earth is satisfied with the fruit of thy works. – Psalm 104:13

Teaching a Biblical Worldview

Teaching a Biblical Worldview | Vicki-Arnold.com

Everyone has a worldview. It is the perspective from which we view, process, and analyze our life experiences. It is a culmination of what we’ve been taught and what we’ve experienced. There is no avoiding having a worldview. It’s like a brain, everyone’s got one. It’s how we each use it that varies.

The way I see it, we have two options. We can choose to look at the world and make decisions about right or wrong, how we treat others, etc. based on our own feelings and experiences alone. Or we can look at it through the lens of what God has to say in the Bible.

I am striving for the latter. I am also attempting to guide my children in this way. By the infinite grace of God, it seems to be working bit by bit. Change is hard, yo.

Obviously, I am still in the process of raising my children so I can’t give you a bullet-point list of sure-fire ways to raise kids with a biblical worldview. However, I don’t think I will be able to do that even when my kids are grown, so there’s that.

What I can do is tell you why having a biblical worldview is important and share the resources I’m using to prayerfully achieve that goal.

Why is a Biblical Worldview Important?

If you aren’t a Christian, having a biblical worldview isn’t going to be important to you. If you ARE a Christian, it should be very important. As a Christian, you are professing to be a follower of Jesus Christ. You are a representative of Him to everyone you meet. How you respond to situations, how you treat others, how you live your life will have an impact on how others view Him.

That’s a lot of pressure, isn’t it?! Thankfully, it isn’t really about us, it is about the grace of God. Our lives can either be a hinderance or a help to His work. I’d rather be a help.

Now, if we are professing to be Christians, don’t you think we should actually know what directives He left us? Shouldn’t we know how He expects us to represent Him? We are only going to know this by reading His words. It is important to read, meditate on, and desire to live out.

But, what about worldview? Why does it matter if our worldview is biblical?

It boils down simply. Is God right or is man? If it is man, then which one? Aside from Jesus, can you name a perfect human being? I can’t.

Biblical worldview = God is right, He is Truth. Man’s worldview = a matter of opinion, truth is relative. Which of these seems more stable? Which one is a reflection of Christ?

Tools to Teach a Biblical Worldview

If you have made the decision that you want a biblical worldview, here are a few resources I am using or planning to use, along with the reasoning behind them. My goal is that these will be a good foundation of training for both our kids and myself to look to the Bible for answers in easy and tough situations.

  • What We Believe series – We have started with Volume 1 – Who Is God? this year. The series is aimed to build a foundation of a biblical worldview for kids aged 6-14. We are using the corresponding Notebook and Jr. Notebook as well. The book is written in an conversational tone and my kids have found the stories used to illustrate key points to be funny, which keeps them engaged. We have enjoyed going through this and it has presented us with many opportunities to discuss our faith and why we believe what we believe.
  • Child Training Bible – I’ll admit, I haven’t used this one as well as I should. It isn’t intuitive to me to bring out the Bible when correcting the kids. However, 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” The Child Training Bible is a great tool for this, you can read my full review for more information.
  • Virtue Training Bible – This is the other side of the coin, the Child Training Bible addresses behavior that needs correction. The Virtue Training Bible is focused on the behavior we should be attempting to live (through the strength of the Holy Spirit, not our own).

Beyond these three resources, we are utilizing curricula that connects this world with it’s Creator. Our science books start from the position that God is Creator and then explores his wonderful creation from there. Our history weaves both “biblical” history and “secular” history, connecting them together in the time line of the world. You know, like they happened.

Do you have any tools that you use or have seen for teaching a biblical worldview to kids? I’d love for you to share them in the comments!