Tuesday, January 26, 2016

52 Lists | (4) Current Goals & Dreams

Today's list was not hard for me. I am a daydreamer; my head is always in the clouds! I already posted about my new year's resolutions, but here are some other things I would love to see happen in the near future. (A few of them are already on the calendar!)

Week 4 - Goals & Dreams

Stick to Weight Watchers.
Complete a few photo books.
Be a good friend.
Buy a coffee mug shelf.
See a play &/or musical.
Finally get some curtains for the house.
Finally get some furniture for our little porch.
Finally get a mirror or pictures up in our entryway.
(Clearly I am thinking about home d├ęcor right now!)
Go on a hike.
Go to the beach.
Lead worship.
Minister to the brokenhearted.
Be a prayer warrior.
Visit some new (to us) restaurants.
Read the books I have that I still haven't read.
Become a mommy!

So there you have it! What are your dreams?!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

2016 | Goals for the New Year

I love a new year. I love the hope that comes with it. I start to dream about how things might be different, how I might be different. I look at the pages of my planner, most of them empty, and wonder what events will take place throughout the year. There is so much expectation. It's exciting to me.

I always make New Year's resolutions. I know MANY people who do not believe in New Year's Resolutions, but I have to tell you... I like them! I am not saying I always stick to every single one. And I'm not saying I don't make other goals throughout the year. But there is something I love about starting fresh with a brand new year.

I also must add that the notion that nobody ever succeeds with their resolutions is simply not true. So many people set new year's resolutions that are completely unrealistic. But make realistic ones, and you might actually succeed at them! I can't remember what all of my new year's resolutions were last year. I know I planned to complete several photo books, and that didn't happen! I know I wanted to incorporate an 80/20 lifestyle with eating... eh, that didn't happen either!

But I did set a goal to take a picture a day! And while I know that isn't a big deal, this was my 3rd or 4th try on this, and I always failed! But in 2015, I did it! No cheating... one pic a day. (Thanks to those who humored me during this process! Haha!)

The other resolution I had was to quit coca-cola... my absolute favorite drink! It was my addiction! I cannot believe how many cokes I used to drink everyday. It was a LOT! I loved that drink so much. Well, guess what. I stuck to that resolution 100%! And I didn't have any other soda either, with the exception of when we visited the Coca-Cola Factory in Atlanta on our vacation. I tried a few of the foreign ones, for the experience of it. Most of them were disgusting! Blech! But I am very proud of myself for sticking to that goal!

My other resolution was to really focus on making the word BELIEVE my word for the year. Just to really study it, read about it, and get it into my heart and mind. I would say I definitely stuck to that one too, and it made all the difference in my perspective when it came to our walk through infertility.

So anyway, enough rambling. Here are my resolutions for 2016.

I talked about this in my post about my word for the year. My word this year is TRUST. I know that in the Hebrew, the words believe and trust mean basically the same thing. But from my modern American viewpoint, they are different. Believe, to me, is about knowing He is able & that He will fulfill His promises to me! Trust is a whole different ballgame! For me, trust is about not only believing He can & will, but also about surrendering my will to His, knowing that how He does it and why it is taking so long is His business. I want to really focus on trusting Him and keeping my eyes on Him. I know that when I do that, I am in a much better place.

2. Read the Bible & spend time in prayer everyday.
Pretty self-explanatory. How am I supposed to make trusting God my focus if I am not spending enough time with  Him? I want to get in His word everyday, even if it's only a few minutes. I feel like my worship & prayer life grew a lot in 2015, but I want that area of my life to continue to grow. Wouldn't mind having a War Corner! (We do not have an extra closet or room for a War Room!)

2. Stick to Weight Watchers!
My health has got to be my priority, once and for all. I joined weight watchers and I cannot even tell you how excited I am about this program. It works! And for the first time in my dieting life, I do not feel deprived. I could go on and on, and I will in an upcoming post. But I definitely feel like this is something I can do long-term. So my goal is this: Stick to weight watchers, go to the weekly meetings as much as possible, do not go over my points, and track everything I eat. I feel like this is completely reasonable. I realize that life happens. If for some reason I cannot afford it anymore, or if I have to quit for some other reason, then I will have to do it on my own for awhile. But I don't plan on quitting! This program is worth the money, and it is definitely something I want to stick to throughout the year.

3. Get moving!
This is one resolution I never keep, but I still want to make it a resolution! Haha! I need to get moving. I sit at a computer everyday for work, and then many nights I go home and either sit at another computer to edit pictures, OR I sit on the couch to watch netflix. NO GOOD! I have to set some type of goal for this. Weight Watchers gives you a challenge of so much activity to do each day. They start you off small, but increase it as you go! My goal is to just to earn the activity points set for me, at least 2 days a week (to start. I realize I need way more exercise than that!).

4. Improve my Photography Skills.
I am loving photography lately! I mean, duh, right? But I just feel like it has gotten to be something I enjoy even more! I still feel like I have areas where I need to improve, so I definitely want to work on my skills. I would like to learn more editing techniques, among other things. Maybe a class is in my future. We will see! I also want to get in the habit of blogging my photo shoots (on my photography website). Check out my latest posts here!

Y'all. I have never made blogging a part of my new year's resolutions, but it really makes me sad that I hardly blogged at all in 2015! Sad face! So I am here to tell you, I really want to blog on a more regular basis again! Wish me luck!

So there ya go!! Look out 2017... you may not even recognize me. :)

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

52 Lists | (3) Things I Should Be Proud Of

At first I was a little unsure about today's list. Things I should be proud of? What? I have to tell you that there are a bunch of things that I am NOT proud of. I didn't finish college, and I wish I did. I racked up debt in my twenties because I could not/would not stick to a budget. I tried and failed too many diets, ending up heavier than I ever thought I would. But the more I thought about it, I have some things I should be proud of too. And this post isn't about my failures, it's about my accomplishments. So here we go, in no particular order...

Week 3 - Things I Should Be Proud Of

I have a good job, and have been there almost 3 years now.
I paid off all of my student loans, plus other debt.
I am a photographer.
I started my own photography business.
I/we have a wonderful marriage.
I waited for God's best when it came to my husband.
I kept my commitment to save sex for marriage, even though my husband came along much later than I thought he would!
I auditioned and was cast in a few musicals at Theatre Baton Rouge.
I am a darn good stage manager (if i do say so myself!)(although it's been awhile!).
I have struggled and failed many times with losing weight, but I always get back up and try again.
I have not had a Coca-Cola since December 2014.
I always look for the good in people.
I am compassionate towards others and their struggles.
I/we are good tippers.
I am a loyal friend.
_ _ _ _ _ _

So there you have it, although I have to say that some of these would not have been possible without God's strength & grace!

What things are you proud of? :)

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Hello, 2016. So glad you're here.

Yes, it is halfway through January and I am just now writing about the new year. Ha. Better late than never, right? Honestly, there is so much to say about 2015, and about my hopes for 2016, I really don't even know where to start. I feel like while 2012 and 2013 were hard, 2014 was harder, and I was desperate for a good year in 2015. For me that meant one thing: a baby (or two). Obviously that didn't happen. Was it a bad year, though? I don't think I can say that. While our dream of becoming parents was not fulfilled, and while there have been many, many nights where I felt angry and hopeless and heartbroken, I cannot deny the fact that God has been with me.

 He comforted me through the really hard days. He helped me to keep believing and keep trusting Him. He had people praying for me, and they would let me know it, and I cannot tell you how that makes me feel. He sent me little reminders of His faithfulness and His promises, often through friends, through people at church, through scripture, and through gifts being sent to me with my word for the year, BELIEVE. All of this encouraged me so much. And I think one of the best things about 2015 was the friendships. So many good friendships. We made new friends with people who became very dear to us very quickly. And friends we already had that became more like family. I have been putting together a photo book from my picture-of-the-day project. A picture every day of the year, and I was putting it together with a week on each page. By the end of it, my heart felt like it might burst with joy for the good, solid, God-given friendships we have. My cup overflows!

Last year, I had a word for the year: Believe. I had never done a word for the year before. I was always more of a resolutions girl. But the word "believe" was on my heart and would not go away. It was one of those things where I knew the Lord was speaking to me. I have no doubt He is the one who gave me that word. He was telling me to make that word my focus. To believe Him all year long, even when it was hard. To just keep on believing... that He is able, that He will do it, that He keeps His promises, and ultimately that He is capable and WILL give us our miracle. So that is what I did. And I have to tell you, that word alone got me through many tough moments throughout the year.

I have been asked a few times if I have a new word for 2016. The answer is yes, and no. I am keeping the word believe. It has come to mean so much to me, and I want to keep on believing Him for our miracle. However, I want to adopt a new word to focus on, and that word is TRUST. The phrase that comes to mind is "eyes on Jesus". I think of the story in the Bible where Peter walked on water. As long as His eyes were on Jesus, he was good. But as soon as he took his eyes off of Jesus and looked at the waves around him, he began to sink! This is me. I know, not only from the word, but also from experience, that as long as my eyes are on Jesus I am in a much better place. I want to really focus on that this year. Continuing to believe him, but also trusting Him on the when and the why. Because to be honest with you, I thought our miracle would come in 2015. To be honest with you, I thought 4 years of infertility was enough. I thought our miracle was truly right around the corner. And while a new year brings so much hope, this year there is also a little bit of fear. Fear because the thought of going through another Mother's Day, another family reunion, another anniversary, another Christmas without a new baby (or one on the way)...I cannot find the words to express how that makes me feel. But it's not a good feeling. It is a feeling of dread.


Most of the time I just do not understand. I don't understand why my battle with infertility has to go on so long. I don't understand why most people can have babies whenever they want, but not us. I don't understand why God refuses to bless us with children when we did things "the right way". I don't understand why He very freely gives out this miracle... to everyone but us. I realize this is all very transparent, and it makes me nervous to put it out there. I don't want to be judged! But three truths come to mind... 1-all of these feelings are completely normal, 2 - God already knows I have these feelings and He understands them. And 3- It is impossible to understand my feelings unless you have been through this yourself. And even then, all of our stories are different. I have to be real with you for you to understand why "trust" is a good word for me this year. I want to keep my eyes on Jesus, believing and trusting Him, even when it's hard. I know that no matter how I feel, His word is always true. I can trust it. I can trust Him.

I have always loved a new year. Always. Just something about it. A new day, a new season. A new year just whispers hope to my soul. It makes me wonder what is ahead. I had a difficult December; the holidays are tough. It is crazy to me though, how at the end of a year, I am hurting, I am broken, I am depressed, I feel like things will never change. But come December 29th or 30th or 31st, my entire perspective begins to shift. By January, I am full of hope and excitement, and I am not feeling quite so broken. I'm so thankful for that.

This year I happened upon a planner by doing a random search on instagram. I found the one. I wanted it because I loved the cover which reads, "The best is yet to come!", and from what I could see, I liked the layout, too. So I ordered it. Well, I just could not believe my eyes when I read one of the first pages. Pretty much exactly what I needed to read. It's kind of blurry, hope you can read it! Click on the picture to see it larger.

I mean, how perfect is this?!

So I find myself starting 2016 with excitement and hope, but also with just a little bit of understanding that my miracle just might not happen this year. Am I still believing Him? Yes, absolutely. But my timetable is different from His. I am concerned about my age, but He's not. I am concerned about how another year of this will wear on  me, but He's not. He sees my future. He knows the plans He has for me. He knows our next steps. He knows our  miracle, and how perfect he or she will be. He knows them by name. And that brings me so much hope. So 2016, I'm ready for ya. Can't wait to see what the Lord has in store. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

52 Lists | (2) Greatest Comforts

If you are just catching up, I decided to follow a few of my friends by joining up and posting a list a week! Hopefully this will help me get back to blogging! (Honestly, I have a good post in drafts, just got to finish it!) Anyway, the first list was Words that Touch the Soul. Today's list is about COMFORT.

Week 2 - My Greatest Comforts

what I call "brad-hugs"
encouraging words
my mom
my sister
sweet friends 
a hot bath
a cup of coffee
Brad playing piano 
cozy blankets
cozy PJs
a good book
an encouraging quote or verse
worship music
my bed

P.S. Thought I would add that since I have returned to Facebook (sigh - that didn't last long, did it!?), I have decided not to post my picture-of-the-day here. It is too much to post in all three places (Facebook, Instagram & my blog), and it is much more convenient to just post on social media. If you want to keep seeing them (and many, many more pictures), follow me on instagram! My user name is melpvenable. :)

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

52 Lists | (1) Words that Touch the Soul

A list a week. Sounds like a good thing to get me back in the blogging groove? Maybe. Also, you will probably get bored with weekly list posts and daily picture-of-the-day posts, so maybe I should, I don't know, write something with actual sentences and paragraphs?! I'll work on that. For now, you just get a list. And once a week!

Check out Laura's & Jessica's lists, too!

Week 1 - Words that Touch the Soul

i love you
i am thankful for you
you are on my heart
home sweet home