Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A Prayer for the Fourth Thursday of November

Lord Jesus,

     May You give us grace upon grace whether we're travelling or staying home. Let our minds and hearts be focused on You, despite the details of food and accommodations. May our speech be seasoned with love so that it tastes sweet to others.

     No matter where we are or what we've done, You've redeemed and accepted us. Let us share that grace and forgiveness with others. Help us to hold our tongues or speak up. Help us to be the shoulders to cry on in bad times and the hearts that rejoice in good times.

     Thank You for the blood of Your Son and the peace we have through it. May we thrive in that peace and pursue it. Let us rest in all You've done for us rather than the things You've given us.

     When the last goodbye is spoken and the last plate returned to the cupboard, may we trust that You worked Your perfect ways in and through us. We'll whisper a "thank you, Jesus" and cross this great day off the calendar. Because You were with us and You were in us, and that was enough.


See also: We Can't Forget About Love (Thanksgiving 2014)

Monday, November 23, 2015

How to Accomplish Your Big Goals

     Want to read the Bible in a year? Train for a marathon? Cook more often? Study more effectively?

     There's a solution to finally conquering that big goal you have. Daily habits.

     Daily habits are the backdrop of my life. They direct my days and help me get enough rest at night.
      First of all, I want to say that my habits aren't the best or only way to do things. Make your own habits. I just use my own as examples. :)

     All that just by starting new habits and breaking old ones using these tips:

  1. Start small. Brushing your teeth after every meal. Changing into real pajamas (not soccer shorts and a holey t-shirt) before bed every night. Making a smoothie every morning for breakfast instead of no breakfast. These are all little things, but they will make a huge impact on your quality of life.
  2. The “Don’t Go to Bed” Rule. This isn’t what it sounds like. The rule helps you get things done daily. For example, I never go to sleep without reading my Bible. Every night when I get tired, it’s a memory trigger—have I spent time hearing from God through His Word today? And I don’t go to sleep until I have. Same with brushing and flossing. Even if I can be sloppy about it during the day, every night I brush and floss.
  3. First thing habits. First thing habits are the first things you do in a day. Having an established “wake up” plan helps me accomplish lots of things: I go to the bathroom, take out my retainer, and fix a glass of lemon water. Then I return to my bedroom to read my Bible while drinking the lemon water. This routine orients my day and gets it kicked off just right for me.
  4. Have a place for everything. Show me any random object in our home, and I can tell you where it is supposed to go. The left drawer of my desk is for personal and random papers. The right drawer is for school-related paperwork. Board games go in the coat closet. My comb goes in our one bathroom drawer. Shoes go in a holder on the back of my closet door. Etc. etc. etc Putting things in their place is a habit that will help you so much through college and adult life.
  5. Know exactly what you’re going to wear. This summer, I wrote down my “summer uniform” plan, and I stuck to it. It saved me so much time every morning.
Monday: Blue shirt and grey shorts.
Tuesday: “Happy” shirt and white shorts.
Wednesday: Grey shirt and white shorts.
Thursday: T-shirt and jean shorts.
Friday: “Hello Friday” shirt and pink shorts.
Saturday: Yellow shirt and grey shorts.
Sunday: Church clothes, then later a t-shirt and grey lounge pants.
  1. Do some things all the time. I realized I wanted to wear a ring more often, so I started wearing it and never took it off. At first it was uncomfortable when I slept with it on, but now I hardly notice it. I get so many more compliments on it, and it dresses up every outfit.
  2. Challenge yourself. Once you have daily habits down, try reading a book in a week by reading two chapters a day. Or regulate new habits with your old ones. For example, if I was trying to study flashcards more, I could study them while I drank my morning lemon water and in the evening while I brushed my teeth. In this way, I can work new habits in around old ones.
    Daily habits become just that: habits. So make sure you are intentional in what you start doing habitually. It might just change your life.

     You’ll get to doing them so fast, so well, and so regularly that you can start training for a marathon or take a spontaneous trip to visit your best friend or start a blog. I don’t know what your dream is, but you can chase it by first chasing down your habits.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Dear Introverts

Dear Introverts,

     In the past, I didn't understand you. After three years of observation and study, I see you are just like other people; you have personalities and opinions. You just tend to keep them hidden.

     And that's ok.

     I'm sorry we extroverts tend to stomp all over you. I've seen it over and over. Odds are, you can't fathom why our worlds revolve around people. But some of us can't fathom what you do for hours by yourself.

     I have introverted tendencies, so I understand how you process and how you long for one or two close friends. I have introverted friends, so I understand that you can hold up your end of a conversation and actually have a lot to say if we extroverts will just give you a chance.

     I'm sorry for all the times we don't give you that chance. I'm sorry for the times we crowd you, pressure you into dancing, or shame you. But we also make you laugh louder than you ever thought you could. We're doing our best to include you, and we love those times that--once in a blue moon--you show us your wild side.

     We promise to do our best to give you space when you need it. We'll let you recharge by yourself, and we won't pressure you to share too much of your beautiful soul.

     Thank you for being the peacemaker in the room. Thank you for your quiet in a world that won't stop talking. And thank you for your sweet friendship.


See also: Dear Recovering Perfectionists and Dear Friends of Recovering Perfectionists

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A Snippet of What I Have to Say About Friendship

     She asked me to write about friendship. Oh, gracious!

     Of all things, why this? Why now?

     But writing is therapeutic. And writing helps me understand myself better. It's a disinterring process, with the shovel going into my heart.

     So bear with me as we push away the dirt to get to the root of the matter.

     I've only taught about friendships once. In the summer of 2013, a group of girls entering sixth or seventh grade gathered in my living room every Thursday afternoon for lemonade and a discussion about what the Bible has to say about relationships.
     The week we talked about friends, I remember looking around the room and saying, "Look at the girls in this room. They are pursuing Jesus, and they will be some of the best friends you will ever make." Today that group of girls is the friendliest, most uplifting bunch you'll meet in eighth or ninth grade.
     Those girls go to lots of different schools--private, public, homeschool. They come from wildly different homes. But they are united in one cause: pursuing Jesus.
     And if I have anything to say about friendships, it's that. Find friends who will always prod you closer to Jesus, whether that means encouragement or a gracious exhortation to get back on the right path.
     Your friends can be Christians but not be pulling you closer to Jesus.
     Those friends are easy to find. But the ones who push you, uplift you, and encourage you tirelessly are the ones you'll never want to leave your side. They're true to who they say they are. They're true to helping you. And they're true to their Lord.
     As Hebrews 10:24 says, "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds." When that is the rhythm of a friendship, both sides will find it easier to get along and form a lasting friendship.
     So, young girls out there (and adults too), remember that. Remember to spur one another on toward love and good deeds.
     If right now you feel like you don't have a friend in the world, it's ok. I've been in and out of that boat for as long as I can remember. We'll make it.
     Sometimes we're the ones who will find friends in the strangest places. We're the ones who consider our mom or sibling to be our best friend. We're the ones who can talk intelligently with adults, even though we're teenagers. We're the ones who have time to take girls a few years younger than us under our wings. We're the ones who meet college students at Starbucks to talk about books or careers or life.
     We're the ones who are never "popular," but we know how to serve others well. We're the ones who have the guts to forgive our enemies, and sometimes we find they are the friends we needed all along. We're the ones who discover we were making friendships idols, and we tear them down to focus on Christ.

     Friendships. They're tricky. But I don't think I'll ever stop learning about this topic.


Friday, November 13, 2015

How to Get the Most Out of Your Weekend

     Want to know the secret to getting the most out of your weekend?

     I'll share it.

     Put away the electronics.

     I've written about getting off your phone before, but today is about a special way to limit electronics and take a serious break. It's called an "analog weekend."
Analog weekend ~ n. a Saturday and Sunday without using your phone, laptop, iPad, iPod, or any other small device
     Before you say, "I could never to that," hear me out. The reasons I've been doing this lately are myriad...
  • I need a mental break after seeing all those videos, pictures, and words I am bombarded with every time I get on any device.
  • I need to get outside or do something productive.
  • I need time to reconnect with my family after five days of school.
     Do you feel the same way? If so, it might be time for you to try this.

     We are all way too connected to our devices. It's a problem. This is just one little step in eradicating America's problem.

     Don't let the device rule you.

     Here's how to take an analog weekend:
  1. Stick your phone and small devices in a drawer.
  2. Shut your laptop down! It's great for the computer's battery and your sanity.
  3. Try to limit the TV although I totally understand watching some football with your family.
  4. Do something! Talk to your family. Play an instrument. Go outside and enjoy the fall weather.
     If there is an emergency, people will call you. If you have a project you need to do on your laptop, it's okay to open Word. Do what you need to, but don't let mindless scrolling or games keep you from the most important things and people. The most important things and people will never be on your devices.

     I've been doing analog weekends for a couple months. It's a relief to my brain, hands, and eyes.

     Try it, and you might just have a new addiction.

     Finally! An addiction that is not a screen. An addiction to fresh air and real conversations! Click to Tweet.


Monday, November 9, 2015

7 Words That I've Embraced (and What They Mean to Me)

     Perhaps you've noticed, and perhaps you haven't. I recently changed my bio on this blog and all my social medias to this:
"I'm a 16-year-old writer, embracing a life of beauty, passion, grace, truth, margin, simplicity, and rest through Jesus."
     I loved my bunnies, snickerdoodles, and yellow bio, but I felt it was time to take on something new, something challenging, and something that accurately reflects what I am thinking about on a daily basis.

     Let's break it down so you can see what I'll be talking about, either directly or indirectly, on The Little Decorator in the future.

     I'm a 16-year-old ~ Yes. I can't help that I am sixteen and proud of it. I feel like sixteen is how old every character in every book is. I am sixteen going on seventeen. Sixteen is the age I've felt for so long. It's mature but a little unsure. It's an age of driving, decisions, and delicacy. I also feel like stating my young age captures people's attentions, especially in the writing world...

     Writer ~ I blog (hi! *waves*) and am working on several novels, my magnum opus being The Blue Sky and the Yellow Sun, which you can read an unedited excerpt of here. Having "writer" in my bio and using #amwriting on Twitter attracts lots of fellow writers of all demographics. "Writer" is something lots of shy writers avoid, but I embrace it!

     Embracing a life (of) ~ This may seem like an unimportant phrase, but I am constantly excited about life. Whether making huge life goals or smiling at strangers, I know God has a purpose for every area of my life. Living, laughing, and loving freely is a theme for my life right now, and it is encapsulated in this pretty little phrase.

     Beauty ~ My blog tagline for awhile was "God made the beauty. I'm here to share it with you!" On Pinterest especially, beauty is a key factor in what I choose to immerse myself in. I believe in a beautiful, loving God. I live in His beautiful world. And in our culture, it's especially important to me to emphasize true beauty in girls of all ages.

     Passion ~ I have a lot of passion! It's not mine really. I get it from God. I don't think God wants us to live apathetic lives. He doesn't want us to be bored or to not care. He wants us to live abundantly! If passion was a spiritual gift, I think it would be mine.

     Grace ~ I've learned a lot about grace as I recovered from perfectionism. Grace should invade every area of our lives. It's not just about salvation but about daily letting Jesus overflow into others' lives through us.

     Truth ~ All this negativity in the world needs to be replaced with truth ASAP. God's Word is one of my favorite things, and it contains truths that are as relevant today as the day they were written.

     Margin ~ Simply Tuesday by Emily P. Freeman (my review here) taught me a lot about taking control of my life only to hand it back over to Jesus. What I mean by that is that I am letting Him dictate how I spend my time, so I can spend it wisely on things that are truly meaningful. I'm learning to slow down and allow for blank pages on my calendar.

     Simplicity ~ Whether you've been reading The Little Decorator for three years or three days, you've probably figured out I am a huge fan of simplicity. Keeping every part of my life as uncomplicated as possible is a main theme of my days.

     Rest ~ As I've discovered that I am an ENFJ with introverted tendencies, I am letting myself slow down and truly rest more often. More than ever, I need time alone.

     Through Jesus ~ Possibly the two most important words in my bio. Nothing I do has any meaning without Him. He has redeemed my life and days, so I can do all these things through Him and Him alone.


Friday, November 6, 2015

Weekend Links

     I haven't done one of these weekend links posts in awhile (since 2013, in fact!), but I thought it might be a good way to ease out of writing every day for Write 31 Days.

     So today I'm sharing some reads I've enjoyed recently.