Honesty

Take Good Care Of Yourself

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The other day someone in passing said to me when saying goodbye, “take good care of yourself”! Their words made me think: what does “take good care of yourself” actually mean? How does one do that well?

TAKING CARE OF YOURSELF…

…means different things for different people at different times. But man oh man, is it important. Our loving Lord of course is our great caretaker; He takes care of us in multiple ways from His throne. I believe though that He equips us to take care of ourself AND in His great provision, surrounds us with people who will also care for us. It’s our responsibility, though, to care for ourselves to the best of our human ability. This includes caring for our physical bodies, emotional selves, spiritual souls, and our God-focused minds.

I PRAY…

…for all of us to fight off the guilt that the enemy uses when we do focus on and care for ourselves. Don’t be surprised when the devil tries to tell you you are selfish or you should be doing something else for someone else. It’s simply NOT TRUE. Taking good care of yourself by rest, relaxation, taking time to do your favorite hobby, investing in yourself, doing something that makes you smile…all of those things fill up your energy tank in order to take care of others in your life well! You have to be filled up in order to fill others up.

xo

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Five Questions With Bianca Olthoff

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Friends! We are so excited to bring to you an amazing Q&A we had the honor of participating in with author and speaker Bianca Olthoff. While we have not met Bianca in person, we feel as though we know her from interview her, reading her new book, and following her on Instagram and that is because she is real and honest in everything she writes and says and THAT, my friends, is a gift and a treasure. Her new book, How To Have Your Life Not Suck: Becoming Today Who You Want To Be Tomorrow, is one of those books that you think about constantly once you start it and one that you tell all your girlfriends about. Bianca is encouraging, inspiring, and convicting; she writes in such a way that makes you want to hit your knees, praying and crying out to God, praising Him for all he has done, and trusting Him for all that He will do. Her words makes you want to stand firm in your faith, obey with endurance, and step out in courage. Keep reading to meet Bianca Olthoff and be inspired to read her incredible book.

TAKE A READ…

Let’s talk about your Instagram. We are loyal followers and your posts always do things: 1) make us LOL so hard and 2) inspire us beyond words, motivating us to fight the good fight and love the Lord with all our hearts. What do you love sharing and interacting with others on your Instagram platform and what has inspired your approach to your IG posts?

First of all, I don’t have followers—I have FRIENDS! I love that we are cyber friends. Secondly, the fact that you laugh at my posts SOLIDIFIED us as forever friends.

But the reason I love social media is that it has really leveled the playing field of communication within social class, nationality, and popularity. Within seconds you can commenting and engaging with a superstar in Brazil by leaving Instagram love, Snapchatting your roommate in the bunk bed next to you, or inspiring someone you’ve never met via Facebook live. Social media has many pitfalls, but there’s a lot of amazing ways to connect, inspire, and be encouraged by new friends we wouldn’t have otherwise met if it wasn’t for the good ol’ world wide web.

For me personally, I  know my online friends don’t really go to church. And if they do, it’s not very consistent. So I  bring church to them! Yes, I post silly things that I love, but I also posts clips of me teaching the Word of God, sharing inspiring quotes, or sharing stories of life transformation. Why? Because we have this awesome tool called the internet and we can make a really big world feel really small if we take time to engage with people.

Tell us about the title of your new book, How To Have Your Life Not Suck: Becoming Today Who You Want To Be Tomorrow. Did it come to you right away or as you started to write? It is an extremely powerful title and fits so well with the content. Did you always intend for it to a guidebook to living one’s best life? Because that is definitely what is was for us when reading!

First of all, can I put y’all in my pocket and pull you out anytime I need encouragement?! All this flattery will get you EVERYWHERE. Just kidding! (Well, half kidding.)

The very first bible study I taught was on the book of Ruth over 15 years ago. I discovered that the Bible was FULL of practical wisdom, truth, and humor that could have me not just survive my quarter-life crisis, but THRIVE in a difficult season. So I guess you can say it was a 15-year process to write this book! But I set out to write a playbook that I wish I had when I was in a really sucky season of life. Being single, moving back home, not working my dream job—those were all very normal struggles, but no one talked to me or mentored me in a way that impacted me.

This is my playbook for women who want to get their life together and a primer for those who want to understand and connect with the next generation.

As we started to read, we couldn’t put the book down! Your vulnerability and willingness to share your story, as well as your strong faith and passion for God’s Word, are so evident in these pages. I am sure there are many, but if there is one thing that you want readers to take away from your book, what would it be?

YES! Without a doubt, I  want people to understand the power of legacy. This isn’t fully obvious in the book of Ruth, but in the New Testament we see that this pagan, barren, widowed Moabite (basically she was HOT MESS EXPRESS) ends up in the lineage of Jesus Christ?! The decisions she made in her everyday effected her tomorrow—she wasn’t living for a good weekend, she was building a good legacy.

If people read one chapter of my book, I would suggest reading the very last chapter. Go ahead! I give you permission. My hope is that people understand that all decisions, all disillusionment, and despair can be redeemed. Because if you are not dead, then God is not done.

Your writing style is the perfect balance of straightforward, tell it like it is, preach it type of wisdom, with a side dose of humor that makes what you say incredibly moving and memorable. Your relationship advice in particular is always spot-on! What is it about single women and the dating world that inspires you to speak into their lives with such Truth and passion? It is such a gift!

Hand to heaven, I  told Jesus that when I would preach, teach, write, or create, I will NEVER ostracize my single sisters. I love the Church, but it felt like I was less-than, unwanted, or diseased during my single years (I didn’t get married until 30 and instantly inherited two step kids). The enemy will have a field day with our mind if we believe that narrative. So I’m always intentional to include as many voices to the conversation as possible. And dating SUCKS, man. Let’s share wisdom and stories with humility and candor so we can learn how to date well!

Did the story of Ruth always hold a special place in your heart? You weave Ruth and her story so well into your personal stories throughout the book. When did you first realize that God had placed on your heart to write this book and how did Ruth become a central role in it?

I’m a first generation American with a family that wasn’t religious. My parents came to this country with nothing, but chose God to be their God, the United States to be their land, and God’s people to be their people. That was Ruth’s story. Scrappy, hard-working, and not like those in her community, she showed up. Her chutzpa inspired me and I hope everyone who reads this book finds a piece of their story in her story. Redemption isn’t just for the perfect, polished, and pretty. Redemption is for all of us.

follow Bianca on social // buy her book

A Wellness Story: Stop Eating Gluten & Pray

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Hey LSK readers!

Melissa, here- Lauren’s friend and blog contributor! When Lo asked me to share this story with ya’ll on the blog, I was so excited and thankful for the opportunity. As you know, health and wellness are at the heart of LSK! My wellness journey and migration toward mostly clean living started several years ago, but I have learned SO much through Lo in the past couple of years, especially through the creation of her Clean Sweep Program. It’s SUCH an incredible resource for everyone who is on their own wellness journey. Speaking of wellness journeys, my health took a major turn south this past March. When symptoms set in and I started to feel very unlike my normal self, I was shocked and a little scared since I have always felt “good” and am pretty healthy.

Without boring you with too many details, I basically all of a sudden felt awful. With what I now can clearly see as the perfect storm of bad allergy season in Maryland, high stress, delayed response to emotional trauma, not fueling my body with the proper nutrients, not resting enough + a very busy schedule, I was left feeling completely depleted and pretty convinced that I was going to receive a diagnosis of some kind. When it came to symptoms, here is the summary: one morning and almost all at once, I experienced extreme fatigue, daily headaches, major moodiness and emotional rollercoasters, bouts of depression and anxiety, an extremely irregular menstrual cycle (when I am ALWAYS a 28 day cycle), constant digestive struggles, incredibly bad brain fog, muscle weakness, some tingling in my feet and hands, body aches, sinus problems, dizziness, and probably a few more things that I have mentally blocked out. These symptoms came in waves of intensity, on and off, but occurred on most days over the course of four months, leaving me in a pretty consistent feeling of being unwell.

After MANY frustrating doctor’s appointments including an anti-anxiety prescription that I never filled, a colonoscopy and upper endoscopy that appeared fine, a negative celiac test, and a negative lyme disease test, I felt answerless and frustrated. Then came a life changing statement from a very well-respected doctor here in Maryland that my brother had recently become connected with through work. He told the doctor all my symptoms and his advice? Stop eating gluten and pray. Despite testing negative for celiacs, he still thought eliminating gluten could help me. It’s worth noting, too, that he referred me to an amazing endocrinologist to rule out autoimmune and thyroid issues as well. Again, everything came back fine. Blood tests did show though that I was on the low end of some important nutrients, including iron.

On July 4th, I stopped eating gluten and stepped up my prayer game when it came to my health, telling the Lord that I surrendered to not feeling good right now and trusted that this season of feeling so bad was temporary. I spoke my trust that He would lead me to green pastures of feeling healthy again. I spoke it and prayed it until I really believed it. A week after cutting out gluten, the thought came to me that I needed to supplement my diet since I had cut out some foods. Side note: months ago when I first told my wise and loving older brother, Doug, that I didn’t feel well, he semi-sarcastically (but mostly seriously) told me to go eat a steak. I laughed because I didn’t eat red meat and hadn’t for years. He told me the same thing again (and again!) and finally one day I listened. I walked over to Whole Foods, bought a grass-fed tenderloin and cooked it in my cast iron skillet in ghee. And it made me feel good. My stomach didn’t even flinch after close to 10 years of not eating red meat. In fact, I felt like my body was literally soaking it up. Note: it was grass-fed, high quality, and well-sourced meat, of course, but at that moment I started to regularly incorporate red meat in my diet.

Also, I started to really pay attention to my protein intake in general from red meat, to chicken, to fish, to plant protein powder, and more. I apparently missed the protein train along the way and am pretty positive that for years, on most days, I was not getting enough protein to fuel my busy days. How insane is that!? Essentially, I was felt like I was running on E and I pretty much was. Now, I consciously make sure I am getting adequate amounts of protein (from quality sources) at every meal. Important to note, this remedy might not be for everyone and I am not a doctor! What works for me might not work for you, but there is power in sharing our stories of healing and figuring out our own personal health stuff. Every situation is different and every body is different, but hearing stories of healing is inspiring and empowering.

To summarize: removing gluten and increasing protein has made a world of difference in my life. All of the symptoms I listed earlier have literally disappeared…all of them, including my irregular menstrual cycle (within a month of the diet change) + a lifelong rash I’ve had on the back of my arms…poof, gone. Even more than all of that good news, I feel better than I ever have before: strong, happy, healthy, sharp, positive, calm, and equipped to take on the challenges of life. The photos in this post are from a trip to Aspen, Colorado that I took in August; once I was feeling like my new, strong, healthy self!

Whatever you might be going through health wise, I pray that you find people in your life to help you get good advice. I pray that you give yourself time to figure it out for you. And I hope this story, plus Lauren’s Clean Sweep program, encourages you that food is powerful and medicinal. Food is not always the answer of course, but in my case and many cases it is. Explore what foods you are fueling yourself with and see where the journey takes you. It might just surprise you and lead you to feeling better than ever before.

Thanks for reading 🙂 xo, Melissa.

7 Non-Fiction Books To Read This Summer

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Happy July 5th, friends! Hope everyone had a happy fourth full of fireworks, yummy food, friends, and family. Who agrees that summer is such a sweet season to start a new book? Whether you are traveling, on the beach, at home, or at the pool, taking time to dive into a new book feels so right during summertime. Below is a list of 7 books to read this summer including pages we have read and loved, ones we are reading as of now, plus books that are our own to-read list this summer and beyond.

The Next Right Thing

on moving forward by making decisions while trusting the Lord

Suffering

on walking through comfort victoriously thanks to God’s presence

Box Of Butterflies

on hope, encouragement, and comfort from the Lord

The Body Keeps The Score

on understanding the physical impact of emotional stress and trauma

You Are Free

on embracing our God-given gift of freedom in all aspects of life

The Tech-Wise Family

on putting technology in its proper place within your family

Love Letter Life

on the beauty of Godly pursuit, intentional dating, love and marriage 

How To Get Unstuck From Emotional Quicksand

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Disappointments. Frustration. Trials. Fears. Worries. Doubt. We all have them and if we don’t have them now, we will have them soon. We have talked about these tough emotional spots before on the blog in several faith-based posts on handling stress, becoming fearless, trusting the Lord, and so many more. In these tough times, our faith will be tested and holding on to Jesus will be a necessity! Today, though, we feel called to address the easy trap that we can all fall into when things aren’t how we want them to be, and that trap is something we are going to call emotional quicksand. You know what we mean…those pity parties, that everything is horrible forever type of thinking, and the general downward spiral of doom and gloom. Don’t go there! However, if you find yourself slipping, keep reading for my tips on how to get unstuck from emotional quicksand. 

1. Process Emotions Properly 

Letting yourself feel your emotions is a healthy start. Don’t hold on to emotions, but rather acknowledge them, feel them, and let them pass through you so you don’t get stuck reacting from a place of emotion that is void of rational thinking, sound counsel, and good wisdom.

2. Take Space

In order to react well, sometimes a deep breath or fresh air will be necessary. Give yourself permission to take space, both physically from someone or something, and definitely mentally for a moment or two so you can center yourself, fix your eyes on Jesus, and handle the situation as best as possible.

3. Have Necessary Conversations

Need to have a hard conversation? Talking about it face to face is always a good idea, once you have had time to process your emotions and take space. Speak out of love and from a place of Truth, with a peaceful voice and ears open to hear. The phrase “listening to understand” is always so helpful in a confrontation.

4. Release Control

Is a situation out of your control? As frustrating and scary as that may feel, release your desire to control what you can’t. Give it to God and thank Him for handling what you cannot. You will hopefully find the freedom that comes from the release and in turn, trust that He has your life in His complete control!

5. Move Forward In Prayer

No matter the situation, it is important we move forward and don’t stay stuck where we are. Say your prayers, ask for God’s wisdom, and take the next step forward in faith while embracing your current reality. God knows our needs before we express them, but we are called to ask! It’s pretty cool. Not to mention, this further develops our relationship with God.

6. Count Your Blessings 

Focusing on what you have to be grateful for is such an important step to get unstuck and pay attention to the positive. Trust and faith open up the door to counting your blessings, which enables you to appreciate where you are right now (despite what is happening) and bloom where you are planted.

images: Camille Styles Website / Teal Tomsen Photography 

Pausing To Pray

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As we all know, life gets pretty busy. Am I right or am I right!? God is so gracious, though, and has given us an amazing, restful gift as a tool to navigate the busyness of life and that is PRAYER. No matter what we go through, prayer is always ours to practice and it is a direct connection to our Father. In a moment of stress at work? Put the phone down and pray. Unable to make a decision? Turn your eyes upward and pray. Overwhelmed by your to-do list at home? Step away from the pad of paper and pray. Frustrated with someone you love dearly? Excuse yourself momentarily and pray.

It sounds easy, right? Yes, except for the fact that in the moment we can sometimes forget to pray. No matter how much we love the Lord and trust Him wholeheartedly, as humans, we can get caught up in life and seriously forget that we have the amazing gift of prayer, of direct communication with our Maker, available to us at all times. All we have to do is remember whose we are and call out to Him.

Jase and I have been extra busy with the home renovation we are doing, so prayer has been an absolute blessing to help handle the task. We were both a little in over our heads the other day, and we got so caught up in the frustration that we forgot to pray. I was driving in the car, and it hit me! What peace it brings, almost immediately, when we pray in the midst of feeling overwhelmed. Prayer releases us from the cycle of frustration (or the feeling of wanting to control something) and reminds us that God is sovereign over all the things and he’s with us! We are not handling this alone- He is supporting us, comforting us, and guiding us every step of the way. PRAISE JESUS! 

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