Community! What I Used to Believe and Why I Have Changed my Mind

Good morning everyone!  As we begin this semester, I can’t help but look around and take a look at all of the people I have around me that support and love me.  All from the wonderful church community that I have where I am blessed to live. 

Here is the deal, I used to have no idea what the word community meant.  Even more, I didn’t understand why every Christian I met was always talking about it. 

I would see people post a picture with a group of church friends with a caption about how much they appreciate their community.  Then I would have a conversation with a good friend who was trying to get me to come to church and talking about how great community had been in their life. 

What I used to believe, is that those Christians who were active in their church and spent time fellowshipping, serving, and worshiping together, were actually just attention seekers.  I thought that they desperately wanted a long list of names that they could call friends.  

Until I myself finally got plugged into a church community.  Since then, I have reaped the benefits and begun to understand with the help of the mentors and friends around me what living the Christian life is supposed to look like. 

If you didn’t grow up in a church, it is so easy to not understand the way that we have to change our hearts and focus our motives to glorify God in our daily lives.  It becomes a habit to read secular voices on social media that are claiming to be coming from a Christian heart when they are actually extremely unbiblical. Without the guidance of the community, it is so much harder to be able to distinguish a biblical voice from a secular one.  It is hard enough even with the community!

Before finding a church, I did not have; women mentors, couple mentors in my dating relationship, accountability partners, and people to share my biblical studies and prayer life with.  I am not sure how I functioned without all of this loving, godly support in my life.

What is even more important than the ways I have been supported and seen my own faith grow, is what we can be doing for our church and community in our cities.  It is so important to pour into the lives of people in our lives as children of God. We are meant to do this with other people. The power that a group of people who love Jesus, and therefore others, can bring to a town is one of the highest callings that we have.  

As Christians, we are not meant to go through our faith alone.  We desperately need the support that God provides through the community to resist the devil and the natural draw that we have as sinful humans towards earthly pleasures.  

Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him-a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

In Ecclesiastes, it is written as clear as day.  You need other people in your life in order to build one another up in love and encouragement.  

We are meant to be a community of people living for God! Not a single person of God.

 

With love,

Mattie

 

Related:

My Personal Growth With The Lord

Letting Your Friends Know You Are There For Them

 

Boston for the Frugal Traveler: I Spent $500 for 6 Days!

Hey y’all,

This past week I had the privilege of visiting the wonderful city of Boston with one of my best friends! The city was so full of awe-inspiring architecture, mouthwatering food, and years of US history.

While the city is known for being one of the coolest to visit in the US, it is also known for being one of the most expensive. That was not going to deter me. I did my research and planned to visit and participate in only free or financially reasonable sites.

We individually spent:

Budget: $210

Total without flight: $200

Total with flight: $520

We hit right on our budget! The biggest way we were able to save money was by not having to pay for a hotel for the week because we were staying with family. Score! Shoutout to my grandad for meals and a place to crash.

What we saw:

uss

On the Freedom Trail:

  • Boston Common
  • Faneuil hall
  • Custom house
  • Mass statehouse
  • USS Constitution
  • Bunker hill
  • Park Street Chruch
  • Granary Burying Ground
  • Kings Chapel
  • Benjamin Franklin Statue
  • Old City Hall
  • The old corner bookstore
  • Old Statehouse
  • The Paul Revere House & Statue
  • Old North Church

A couple sites we visited that were not on the Freedom Trail, yet just as much fun, were:

harvard

  • Fenway park
  • MIT, Harvard, BU
  • Free tour of the Sam Adams brewery
  • Local beach
  • JFK museum ($)
  • Charles River
  • Little Italy
  • Chinatown
  • Beacon Street

It is probably no surprise that this city was everything that I anticipated. The people were kind and the yummy food came in a wide variety because of the diversity and culture that has filtered through New England. My favorite part of our trip, other than spending time with one of my best friends and my family, was little Italy. Those who know me best know that one of my favorite foods since I have visited Italy studying abroad is pasta. However, it is so hard to find a good Italian place that feels and tastes authentic! Both the food and atmosphere in little Italy were very authentic. Chinatown was likewise!

bo

I am a bit of a foodie traveler. The history was cool and the city so commuter-friendly, that I really enjoyed our time learning about the history of the founding colonies while standing where our ancestors once stood. Being able to experience the city on foot made all of the new things I was learning all the most interesting.

Yes, Boston is a ridiculously expensive city, but, that does not mean you have to spend a lot of money if you are visiting. If you visit, do things like to art galleries that are free on Thursday nights, stargaze at the Harvard Observatory on the first Monday of the month for free, walk the Freedom Trail and use a free online map.

We were able to save so much money by finding free activities so that we were able to splurge on food! If you plan on visiting Boston or may one day, check out the list of sites I was able to see while there.

When you travel, where do you spend the bulk of your money? Food? Museums? Trinkets to bring home?

With love,

Mattie

Is Hillsong Teaching a Secular Version of the Gospel?

Hey, y’all!

I had the awesome experience a few weeks ago to see Hillsong, Elevation Worship, and Casting Crowns with a couple of friends in Tulsa.  The concert was so amazing and I felt blessed to be able to be in a room with hundreds of people praising and worshiping our amazing God.

As I sat there listening to the little bit of discussion that each band had in between songs, I couldn’t help but feel a little scared.

Yeah, that’s right, scared.  No, I don’t know the relationship that these bands have with God on an intimate level.  All we really know is what we can see and hear because we can’t see into their hearts.

However, one thing I did notice about both Hillsong and Elevation Worship, is that they really seemed to make Christianity about what God can do for us, not about what we should be striving to do for our almighty God.  When you are a group with the ability to influence hundreds of people’s mindsets in a room, it is important to remind people of the truth of the gospel.  

While it is comforting to hear over and over that we are loved, not forsaken, treasured, etc, it is also not what being a Christian completely entails.  Being a Christian and putting our faith and trust in Jesus Christ is about a lot more than that. This is why it makes me nervous to hear a group of people as influential as Hillsong talking about what God is doing for us throughout 90% of a concert.  They are playing into the very societal idea that if you become a Christian, then God will provide us with wealth, material possessions, worldly goals, and an easy life.  

We should be praising and excited about everything that He does for us though we are not worthy.  For the sins He has washed away and the reconciliation He has brought us.  But we are also not just here to be focused on what God can do for us, but focused on who God is and how we can dedicate our lives to Him.

Now, I realize that this is a lot simpler to say than to make conscious decisions every day to give our lives to Him.  To make these decisions is one of the greatest struggles for many Christians. We must together make choices to deny ourselves and love others for Him.

It is remarkably easy if you are someone like Hillsong to get on stage and decide to focus on what God is doing for us because it’s effortless for many Christians.  If someone who is not Christian hears about all the amazing things that God can, will, and has done for those He loves, why wouldn’t they praise Him? One important thing that people forget to mention when they are sharing the gospel is that being a Christian is not just about loving God and appreciating what He does for us, but also about giving up ourselves for Him.  Completely.

Jesus was the only perfect being.  So we will fail again and again in this world.  Day after day. But that’s why Jesus took up the cross for us.

For us!  How exciting is that?!

So yes, it is important to recognize and celebrate Jesus’ sacrifice, but it is also important when you have an abundance of power over hundreds of people that you make it clear that being a Christian is also about giving up ourselves for Him and being selfless- not self-serving in our actions and mindset.

Living for God is not light-hearted.  It isn’t easy. The word of God is not something you share without being meticulous with your words.

To be frank, I really like Hillsong’s music.  We have to share the sweet stuff about the gospel, but also the tough stuff.  Again, it is a lot easier to say this than to live it out- but I believe it is an important decision to consciously lead people towards the truth when you are in a place of power.  The truth that God is the way. He is the light, which comes with the price of living with the understanding that we will not be loved by the world because Satan is here to try to defeat us.

But he won’t- we know how the story ends.

With love,

Mattie

 

Ps. Please leave a comment with your thoughts!  Do you think Hillsong is using their voice correctly?

Merry Christmas!!!

 

Related:

What Is Your Golden Calf?

Be Strong, Be Independent, Be Empowered

He Always Comes Through

And God Remembered His Covenant

 

What Is Your Golden Calf?

Hey guys, 

Finals are finally over!  Whoop whoop!

I struggled through mine.  I mean really struggled.  The past couple of weeks I have found myself putting way too much of my heart and soul into things of this world and I have allowed school to become an idol in my heart.

I have let my grades rule over the emotions, actions, and thoughts.  This has led to a heart heavy thinking about the destructive habits that we conform to as broken humans when we worship the things of this world.

We sin and repent.  A cycle begins as we then come back to the comfortability of our sins that have been our false hope, identity, and safety.

In Exodus 32, the Israelites worship and abandon God after He has shown his allegiance by periodically delivering them from the land of Egypt and further on their journey. They cry out to Aaron to craft a golden calf to worship. God says in verse 8 full of anger,

They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said. “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”

We pick up and find comfort in our pride, greed, lust, anger, sexual immorality, idolatry, etc. again and again. We find a way to run from God as He calls out to us.

The story of the Israelites repeatedly turning to idols of this world brings me to tears when I sit and think about the sin and idolatry in my own life. Sins that I am ashamed of and have been hurt from. Idols that I am worshiping and relying on. Feelings that when I allow myself to dwell upon have left anguish, resentment, and detachment in my heart. It is quite arduous to admit- we are not complete, whole, or perfect and we all battle with weaknesses that our past selves never thought we would.

Every time I feel this, God draws me back. He calls out to me and reminds me that He adores me. He loves every single one of us and He deserves our adoration, love, and complete commitment to sacrificially living for Him alone. Not ourselves.  He deserves more than we could ever give him.

Let’s work together to break our cycles! Declare it in Jesus’ name, we will not be overcome because our hope and strength come from the Lord!

We are in a fierce battle to allow God to protect our hearts and souls.  This battle is won by putting on the armor of God every single day. It is won by regarding any slight decision in our lives that we are making without counsel as one that may cost us our souls.  

What are you running back to repeatedly in your life that you are placing before Jesus? What are you avoiding out of fear and shame because you do not want to brave that sin?

God sent Jesus to die for me. For you. For believers and unbelievers.

How wondrous is that? The enemy will be defeated and He will not let me feel shame or allow the enemy to reign in my heart.

Lord, thank you for bringing me and all of my brothers and sisters in Christ out of the darkness and into your mighty love. Thank you for your kindness, overwhelming love, and for being the keeper of our hearts. Forgive us for running back to the hurt and cycles in our lives that bring us temporary comfort, but will never fill what only you can. Give us the strength to overcome our cycles and equip us to grow in our faith a little more every time we turn away and run back to your open arms. You are good and you deserve all of our praise.

With love,

Mattie

The Stages of Dating: Data Collecting

Good afternoon everyone!

I had a conversation last week with a friend who has recently become a confidant and a great friend to me.  She was stressing about meeting up with someone for coffee who she barely knew. The man she was meeting did not make it clear that what they were doing was a date and he didn’t clarify what his intentions were or if he was even interested.  

This caused my friend to be unsure of where the relationship was going.  I assured her that she need not stress about just going to grab coffee with someone.  This naturally lead into a conversation about what dating is.  

Honestly, what is dating?  Why is there so much pressure and unease when one hears the word “date”?  I believe it is because of a lack of communication.  

So I began to think.  When I go on dates, I don’t necessarily sit down and draw out a map of where this person and I are in our relationship.  But subconsciously, I organize what the meaning behind our hang-outs are.  

That is when I began brainstorming about what the levels of dating are.  These are going to be different from person to person, and there are quite detailed, drawn-out, and organized.  Really, you should not be analyzing every step of the way with your relationships, they should flow naturally.  

However, I hope this gives anyone who isn’t very comfortable with dating a general idea of how I break down the process. 

Disclaimer: These are my opinions on dating.  Read this, and then make your own decisions on what dating should look like for you.  Everyone’s dating life will be different because everyone has different emotions and seasons that they are at in their life!  Prayer is the most important thing that will support and help you be guided by the holy spirit while dating.  

As I have spent time as a single dating in a pro-couple world, I have intentionally observed the interactions between individuals around me.  You can watch an individual’s eye, mouth, arm movements, breathing patterns, etc, and be able to understand a little bit how they feel about the company around them.

Dating begins this.  By observing the way someone reacts and interacts with the people around them.  

When you go on a first date, it is kind of exciting, isn’t it?  When you get asked pointedly and very clearly: 

Hey, would you like to go out for coffee sometime?  I really have enjoyed getting to know you and would like to pursue a potential romantic relationship with you.  

Okay, maybe that is a bit wordy, but that is the gist behind the intentions of what dating someone looks like. 

What many people tend to ignore, are the stages between exclusively dating someone and just beginning to get to know someone.  I believe that a great term that should be used for dating, that I heard from a great podcast (Simplify Complexity), is Data Collecting.  

Think about those words put together for a second.  Another way to word this would be- gathering attributes, qualities, and understanding the inner workings of another individual.  

This is what I believe dating is.  It begins with getting to know someone, typically in a group setting and then potentially progressing to exclusively dating.  Dating is a means to two ends- either breaking up or continuing a relationship potentially towards marriage, and I will talk about this more in number 4.  Here are the stages of dating that I have always seen as telltale ways to figure out where you stand with another individual and where I think it is important to clarify these lines so that you do not have confusion between one another: 

  1. Eyeing
    • Eyeing begins for me, typically in a group setting.  At church gatherings, friends’ parties, etc. Anywhere where you have the opportunity to observe an individual from afar as they interact with other people.  You are beginning to see how this person conducts themselves on a public level. Maybe you observe their interactions with others and think to yourself, this could be someone I am interested in getting to know on a deeper level.  
  2. Data-collecting friends
    • This is a stage that I think is very important for people to understand that there is not yet a mutual understanding of the intentions of a romantic relationship.  Maybe in the back of your mind, you know you are interested. You have been eyeing, talking to friends of this person you are hanging out with. But you are not yet “talking” as many people would say.  This step is important to distinguish that you are just friends hanging out. You are getting to know the other person but as friends. Watching how they react to waiters when you both are craving the local Italian place and decide to grab a bite to eat.  Observing their interactions with challenging people who don’t think or act like them. Talking about their faith and discovering where they are in their walk with the Lord.  
  3. Data-collecting friends with a clear understanding of romantic intentions 
    • With this one, we have to be careful to guard our hearts and not move on to this stage too fast.  This is the point where it should become obvious- we are friends but I am perhaps interested in a future relationship with you.   It means hanging out one on one, probably in public settings so that you are not tempted to get too emotionally close.  
    • I thoroughly believe in being friends with a person before you decide to date them.  What I like to consider this stage are intentional hangouts. You need to be able to understand how they are when they are more comfortable.  Even if we try not to, most people will act differently if they are hanging out with someone who they are interested in and knows the other person is interested as well.  We naturally will hide things that embarrass us or only show our best selves. If you let the relationship grow naturally- you will be more comfortable with the end result.  
      • However, the important thing between data-collecting friends and friends with romantic intentions is that you have to be clear where your intentions lie.  If not, it could be easy to get caught up in the comfortability of a friendship, even though you are really in more of a romantic relationship.  This can lead to hurt on both ends of the relationship when feelings and intentions are not defined. Keep this in mind before you get too far into a relationship and realize you are leading someone towards a relationship. Especially when you do not intend on committing which could lead to you both having feelings and habits that are too hard to break.
  4. Dating 
    • This is the next step- the one that I feel people make a bigger deal than it is.  So when you go on dates, what should you be keeping in mind? 
      • You are opening up your eyes to the possibility of the future spouse and what qualities you would like to see in that spouse.  
        • Not that you should enter every date thinking- what if I marry this person.  But you should think, am I wasting my time and this other person hanging out when we have different important beliefs.  
          • One thing about dating is that you are looking for your future husband/wife.  You should be observing the qualities with the person you are hanging out with and seeing if they are in line with the Bible’s description of a spouse and in line with the qualities you want out of a spouse.  You want to know what their personal relationship with Christ is and if they are continually seeking to increase their knowledge of the Bible and encompass the attributes of Christ while he was on this earth.  
      • This person is still just another human being trying to get to know you and see if a relationship between the two of you could be successful and glorify God.  There is no need to be nervous to the point that you are not going to have fun. There is no point treating them like someone who you can’t share information with because of a stigma to only share things that will make you look good.  
      • There is no commitment at this point.  Let’s say you skipped steps 2 and 3, maybe you saw someone at church or local events and decided that you want to go on a date with this person and you made it very clear that you were asking them on a date.  You can go on one of two dates with a person, and then decide that hanging out with them is not going to be the best thing for you, them, your relationship with God, the people around you, etc! There is nothing wrong with going on dates and learning things about a person that makes you realize they would not be a good future spouse.  It is better to clearly end something early if you know you are no longer interested instead of dragging someone along and hurting them.
  5. Dating exclusively 
    • Finally, there is dating exclusively.  Very few times do I get to this stage with anyone.  Why? Because who you are exclusively dating is very important!  This is someone you want to spend a lot of time with. The person you want to grow emotionally and spiritually with.  You want to build each other up and glorify God in your actions as a couple.  As boyfriend and girlfriend and maybe one day something more.  If you cannot see yourself getting married sometime in the next couple of years, you are not ready for exclusive dating.  This is where I know I personally am more at risk of giving too much of my heart to someone. It is still so important to guard your heart and constantly be praying that God uses your relationship to grow with each other.  

I know a lot of people who believe that you cannot hang out one on one with someone of the opposite sex because it is misleading and will lead to emotions on both ends.  If you are the kind of person who believes that hanging out with the opposite sex will automatically lead to romantic feelings- then maybe dating like this isn’t for you.  I have always had guy friends and I have never fallen in love just because they are a guy…and I am a girl…hanging out alone. MY emotions don’t work that way but that doesn’t mean that everyone elses don’t.  

Now let me be clear- by alone I mean going to grab a coffee to chat, studying together, going to the movie theatre, hanging out after a church event, etc.  I do not mean alone as in, cuddling on the couch while watching a movie. I would not do that with just a guy friend.  

I believe that communication is key– ha, how many times have you heard that one from me- to any successful relationship.  That is what these steps are all about!  Understanding and successfully communicating your relationship in a way that may look something like this:

Hey- here are my feelings and here is what I have felt God speaking to me about.  What is your understanding and are your intentions in our relationship?

This is how you have a successful relationship.  

  • Guarding your heart.  
  • Communicating well with the person you are interested in.  
  • Knowing the person to the point that you know if they are someone who could potentially be a future spouse.  
  • Trusting God with your relationships.

And this doesn’t just mean communication with the person of interest, but even more importantly communication with God.  Constantly praying for this person and your relationship can be the difference between being led by false feelings into a toxic relationship or following the path towards a healthy and successful relationship that is God-ordained. 

While all of these steps are important to think about when you start dating- it is absolutely a must to make sure you are trusting God and listening to His guidance.  

Don’t start dating if you have feelings for an ex.  Don’t date if you have felt God telling you that you are still in your season of singleness.  Don’t start dating to fill a hole that only God can fill.  

Pray and seek sage wisdom from the people around you who will be able to give you godly advice.  Don’t make dating scary! In my opinion, it is supposed to be fun, exciting, and loving.

 

With love,

Mattie

Related:

Texting! Don’t Let It Smother The Fire In Your Relationship

My Dating App Experience: 4 Things I’ve Learned

4 Things Not To Do With Your Phone While On a Date

We are Highkey Spoiled Americans

We are living in a day and age in the United States where we have the accessibility and opportunities to freely share our thoughts and express our emotions on a multitude of public platforms.  

Is this something that you think about when you casually wake up on Sunday morning and drive to church without fear that you will be prosecuted?  Or when you share a post on facebook in seconds that has vulgar language, bashing a political party that is not yours? 

I know I don’t.  I don’t stop to think about what dangerous consequences I could be bringing upon myself.  

We can highkey be spoiled Americans.  And you know what, I did not fully understand that until I experienced life outside of the states.

Everyone tells you that when you study abroad you will gain a better world view and the experiences you have will change your life.  I thought, “yeah, yeah whatever I guess I will see things differently”.

It wasn’t until I got back and realized how much that we as Americans are blessed with, that I began to understand this very important truth about traveling:  traveling absolutely does change the way you see the world.

I remember walking down the Champs Elysees on our first night in Paris, absolutely annoyed that my friends and I could not find a bathroom.

The first restaurant we stopped in, we strolled in and spotted the sign for the bathroom in the back of the restaurant and headed towards it- trying to act cool and not like we had not been holding it for far too long.  Immediately the bartender began yelling at us in French, stopping us in our tracks. We had no idea what he was saying and we had to grab our friend who speaks French (thank goodness we had Mack) to help us translate. We then began to understand that we had to pay to use the bathroom.  The french man was so mad at us for trying to use the bathroom without paying. Like how dare we….need to pee???

We began hopping from store to store butchering the french language pronouncing our one-word saving grace- “toilette”.

I couldn’t believe that we had to pay to go to the bathroom everywhere.  It felt absurd, as I am used to stopping at the local Starbucks, QT, or whatever is in sight to use the bathroom…for guess what…free!

After our first rude encounter with the Persians, I began to notice the things that we as Americans take for granted.  Something as simple as paying a couple of cents to go to the bathroom could mean that someone with less then us would have to walk miles for a bathroom.

And then I began to see on a deeper level how spoiled we are when it comes to our freedom of more than just bathrooms- but also things that define who we are.  Things like religion. Of course, there are parts of the United States where there are major roadblocks and persecution for those who wish to express their religious and political beliefs.  The hate and bigotry over these issues is tearing our country apart.

For the most part, however, Americans are able to freely share their opinions.  We can practice whatever religion we want. We hold the power to tweet hideous hateful things without fear of repercussions.

Last week I spoke with a friend from India.  She brought up experiences from her own childhood that helped me understand how different even things such as school systems are.  

From my understanding, in India children with even the most common disabilities are sent to go to school separate from public schools so that they do not disturb the general public.  Even a child with something as slight as ADHD would be separated in school and would, therefore, grow up without the social interaction of being around people that are different from them.  

While my friend explained that this system has progressively gotten better, there is still stigma and isolation for students with disabilities in India and many other eastern countries.

We take this for granted.  Schooling, housing, freedom of speech, religion, and hospitality are so different in every part of the world.  

Instead of spreading hate on social media and in our lives, we must remember that we are so blessed to be able to share our thoughts with the people around us.  Think about all of the people out there who are not able to- and let us as a community make a better effort to use platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for good. While there is a lot of hate and issues with corrupt systems in the states, we are also so blessed.

Let’s be better worldwide citizens. Let’s remember those who do not have the freedoms that we do and appreciate that freedom by spreading positivity, love, and hope.  If we love Jesus Christ and are dedicated to him we also must, and should want to, show empathy and love towards our neighbors. 

 

With love,

Mattie

 

Related:

Tips for Traveling in a Foreign Country As a Newbie Traveler

Paris, the City of Lights, Pickpockets, and Undercover Cops: Part One

 Dear Christians

 

 

 

 

Be Strong, Be Independent, Be Empowered

Be strong ladies and gentlemen.  Be independent.  Be bold.  Be Empowered.  Be Brave.

When you are living this life for the one true God, you cannot be afraid of sharing His love with those who you come in contact with.

Here are some thoughts I have had on my mind the past few weeks that we must work on together to be careful of misinterpreting:

We are called to be independent.  But we are called to be independent of the world, not of Christ.

We must still be dependent on Him.

We are called to be strong.  But we do not have our own strength because our strength comes from the Lord and the Lord alone.

We must follow Him and ask that he gives us the strength to fight the enemy and actively seek the company of a christ-centered body that we can all draw strength from.

We are called to be bold.  But not bold for ourselves, bold for Christ.

Be bold.  Share, explore, and learn with every opportunity.

Be bold, strong, independent, and keep God the focus of your life.  I know some days it is hard.  It would be so much easier to run to our earthly comforts, but it is so worth the reward and Jesus is worth the cost.

 

With love,

Mattie

I’ve Been Doing a Light Workout 4 Days a Week- Here is What I’ve Noticed

I have been working out and eating healthy for the past month or so, and I have not felt this good in a long time.  Here is what I have felt change that has kept me motivated and wanting to workout:

  1. I am less tired.  At least one of these four days I get up at 5:30 and go for a run.  Even a 20-minute run wakes me up and I feel the energy all day.  On the days I am not running in the morning, I feel sluggish and tired all day.
  2. I am sleeping better.  My muscles are so tired that my body and mind are exhausted after a run in the morning, a 10-hour workday, and then errands and cooking in the afternoon.  Now that school has started, I have added in my classes, two jobs, and on-campus research.  So as soon as I am able to, I go to sleep and unless my schedule is thrown off, I fall asleep quickly.
  3. I drink way more water than I used to.  I started drinking 96 fl oz a day at the start of July.  Water makes me feel more awake and helps me not overindulge when I am eating.  So not only am I energized and hydrated, but I am eating less and therefore losing weight.  At the beginning, drinking this much water was difficult for me.  I have now come to the point where I am craving water and have cranked my intake to a little over a gallon a day!
  4. I lost body fat.  I don’t weigh myself typically, but I have been recently to see what running will do to my body.  I have discovered that I have lost weight, but more importantly, I have lost body fat.  I am not one to track my calories and body fat percentage, so I did not do this.  But I have noticed that my jeans are not quite as tight on my stomach and thighs.  I wore a dress this week that I would not have before I started this routine.
  5. I feel empowered and confident.  I have always considered myself a pretty confident woman.  However, up until a couple weeks ago, I have found myself not feeling good about my body.  Not because of the way I look, but because of the way I feel.  I missed feeling strong and capable of intense workouts.  I feel a lot better about myself now that I am working out again and eating healthy because I know that I am taking care of my body the way we all should.
  6. It has surprisingly become fun! Every time I stop working out, I forget how much I love it until I start back up again.  I love the ache the next day and the feeling that you know you are challenging your body past what you think it can go.  I love the stress release and the feeling that I can forget all of my worries and just focus on the burn.

On days when I am not doing a quick run, I instead substitute the run for some kind of light workout.  Whether it is 100 squats or a 15-minute intense yoga routine, I am making sure I am feeling a burn but not taking up more than 30 minutes of my day.

It has been amazing to see what tiny little changes in my schedule can do and how great I have felt in doing so.  I wonder how much more I will have lost in another month!

 

What are your healthy habits and workout routines?  How does being a college student/ young adult affect your habits? Share in the comments below!

 

With love,

Mattie

 

 

Call Up The Friend

Recently I spent some time with a good friend drinking coffee and talking about life.  

We haven’t caught up in quite a long time, because we were both scared.  Scared that when we sat down in front of each other, we would not be able to hold back our tears and stories from the past couple months that have been major roadblocks in our lives. 

We both went through some tough times, during the same season.  Not only did we go through this at the same time, but we were hitting a lot of the same roadblocks

When we feel defeated and alone in our struggles, remember that sometimes God answers our prayers by bringing people into our lives who He is using to serve us.

We sat and talked and cried because, let’s be honest, we are both hardcore criers.  As we did we started to remember why we used to have such a special bond.  We both have Jesus in our hearts and that is a bond deeper than any other connection or similarity in life.

By the end of the night, we were both chiding ourselves for going so long without a chat.  God wanted us in each other lives to serve each other and be a shoulder to cry on, literally.

Don’t avoid your friends who you know will pull out the truth in you.  Don’t avoid the emotions and feelings that you know you will have to tackle if you confront certain people.

This is an unhealthy habit that we are all guilty of.  Emotions and relationships make you strong!  Emotions are not a weakness.

Call up the friend who you know will see straight through your “I’m doing good” to the truth.  Maybe they can help.

With love,

Mattie

 

Related:

Long Distance Best Friends

Defeated, Broken, Hurt Thoughts

Letting Your Friends Know You Are There For Them

Feeling Overwhelmed? Spend Some Time With Your Loved Ones

 

Best Attractions in Edinburgh, Scotland

Scotland has been at the absolute top of my “To Travel To” list for YEARS.  While I did not have even remotely enough time there, there will be plenty of opportunities in the future to visit again. 

I loved almost everything about the city of Edinburgh.  The culture, the kind people, great history, and let’s be honest, those adorable Scottish accents.

Here is a list of some of the top attractions in Scotland that I visited and adored.

Edinburgh Castle
Scott Monument

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tours:

  • St Giles’ Cathedral & The Hub: My friends and I walked by both of these and they are stunning and worth spending a few minutes admiring!
  • Edinburgh Castle:  This was one of the neatest things that we saw in Scotland.  Taking a tour of this castle while in Edinburgh is a must.  Not only is the history amazing, but the tour guides answer all of your questions and are extremely nice.
  • Ghost tour:  This tour was an absolute blast and one of the most fun things I did in the UK.  I am a huge baby when it comes to ghosts.  I would love to tell you that I sucked it up and was not scared, but that would be a lie.  My friends and I did the double-decker tour with the City of the Dead company.  This meant that we went underneath the city, the Greyfriars Graveyard, and into the Covenanter’s Prison where there was a poltergeist.  It was one of the best experiences I had there.  I learned so much history about the town that I would not have learned about had I chickened out. 
  • Royal Yacht Britannia:  I debated for a while if this was something I wanted to do because it was so much money, but it was for sure something that surprised me.  It was really interesting walking through the yacht and listening to all of the histories of the royals and the time that they spent on that yacht.
  • Holyrood Palace:  This is somewhere I myself did not get to visit because I wanted to walk along the Edinburgh beach instead.  However, I had a couple friends who did a tour of the Queen’s palace and loved it.

If you are on a budget:

  • Arthurs Seat: Absolutely my favorite thing that we did in Edinburgh!  This was a short hike, yet a very steep one.  I did not feel like I had my fill of hiking in England so when I finally got to do this hike, I felt alive.  The entire trail was absolutely beautiful and picturesque, and although a bit difficult at times, not as bad as it looked like it would be.
  • Museum of Edinburgh:  If you are on a budget and need to kill a little bit of time, this is a cool place to visit.  The museum is free, and although small, is very interesting and has some cool little nuggets about the town.
  • Calton Hill:  It was a little bit of a hike to get to the top of the hill, but it had a spectacular view.  Architecture nerds, do your research before you go up here.  At the top is the National Monument which has a pretty neat history.
  • Beaches:  Hit up one of the local beaches!  While the water may be freezing, even in the summer, it is fun to walk along the shoreline and people watch.

Where to eat:

  • Deacon Brodies Tavern:  We ate here for lunch one day, and I absolutely loved the food I ordered.  I had a selection of fish that was a marvelous choice because of how fresh it was, along with a local beer that was great.
  • Elephant House:  Harry Potter fans!  You have to do see this.  The Elephant House is the coffee shop that JK Rowling wrote the books in.  Too cool!

 

Even if you are on a budget, there are some great things that you can find to do in Edinburgh.

What do you like about this great city?  Comment below!

 

With love,

Mattie