50 Journal Prompts

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50 Journal Prompts

How Journaling Can Help

Journaling can be a wonderful way to discover yourself. Journaling is a record of your feelings and perceptions at a certain point and time. You can learn a lot about yourself when you pose questions that challenge you to be truthful about life events. Some people don’t know where to begin, so I’m providing 50 journal prompts.

Years ago, my psychologist encouraged me to write in a journal. I was surprised at my emotional arch while writing. It was awkward at first. It makes your feelings real and tangible. Putting it down on paper challenges you to face how you really feel about something. Subsequently, it brings hidden and undiscovered feelings to the surface. In short, writing helps you to process those emotions.

To clarify, you can start journaling by simply writing about your day. However, there may be times when you may have an uneventful day or simply don’t need to write about it. That is where journal prompts can be valuable. Here are 50 journal prompts to get started!

How to Get Started

You don’t need anything fancy. Ordinarily, some people like myself, love using a beautiful notebook in which to write. However, you certainly don’t need that. A simple spiral notebook is all you need! That said, maybe you don’t care for actual writing. No problem! These days, there are lot of digital options. For example, the iTunes app store has great digital journals like Momento, Daylio, and Day One Journal.

50 Journal Prompts

  1. Describe your earliest childhood memory
  2. What do you want your children to remember most about you?
  3. Who do you want to be in five years
  4. What are three things you would do if you weren’t afraid?
  5. Where would you live if money wasn’t an object?
  6. A moment you wish you could change
  7. What do you love most about your hometown?
  8. How do you picture retirement?
  9. Something that still hurts you.
  10. What were you doing ten years ago?
  11. When were you most proud of yourself?
  12. Write a list of 25 things that make you feel good.
  13. Describe a time you learned from a mistake
  14. What was your first impression of your significant?
  15. Who do you look up to right now?
  16. What scares you most about dying?
  17. Write about your first kiss.
  18. Describe your best memory of your maternal grandmother.
  19. Give your younger self advice.
  20. Recount a time you were falsely accused of something.
  21. What do you love most about your hometown?
  22. How do you picture retirement?
  23. Something you wish people knew about you.
  24. Write about your greatest childhood fear.
  25. What would be used against you if you ran for political office?
  26. Something that still hurts you.
  27. What were you doing ten years ago?
  28. Explain how you’ve changed in the last year.
  29. Recount at time you most proud of yourself.
  30. Describe a time you learned from a mistake
  31. Detail a nightmare that still disturbs you.
  32. If you were president of the United States, what would you change?
  33. Write about someone who is difficult to get a long with in your family.
  34. What was your first impression of your significant other?
  35. Who do you look up to right now?
  36. If you could speak to someone you’ve lost in death, what would you tell them?
  37. Express what scares you most about dying.
  38. Write about your worst habit.
  39. How do you feel about your marriage / relationship?
  40. What advice would you give your younger self
  41. Write a “letter” to someone with whom you are angry. What would you say?
  42. When was the last time you were angry?
  43. What needs forgiving in your heart?
  44. Recount the first time you defied your parents.
  45. Describe what it was like to be a child of your decade (60’s, 70’s, 80s, 90s)
  46. If you won the lottery, what would you do?
  47. How do you feel about the world today?
  48. Write about a book that changed your life.
  49. If the world was ending today, what would you do?
  50. How would you describe each of your children?

Looking for other ways to stay mentally and emotionally well? Learn more about 30 Day Facebook Detox

The post, 50 Journal Prompts, first appeared on My Beautiful Mess.

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Tomato and Cucumber Salad

Learn how to make this refreshing tomato and cucumber salad with a homemade red wine vinaigrette.

tomato & cucumber salad

Today I’m sharing one of my favorite salads. I love having this salad in the summer because it’s so refreshing, but it’s great for all year. It combines tomato, cucumber, red onion with fresh basil and flat leaf parsley.

It’s easy to make your own red wine-balsamic vinaigrette for it which you can create in a salad dressing shaker or mix directly in the salad. Personally, I think it tastes best when you let it chill in the fridge for an hour after making. It gives a chance for the flavors to marinade together.

I love this tomato and cucumber salad because it fits all diets. Whether you’re doing Keto, Atkins, Whole30, Weight Watchers, or Paleo, it’s full of clean ingredients.

This salad is a great alternative to the same old, boring lettuce style salad. But I often have it as a lunch. If you need something heavier as a meal, try adding avocado, shrimp and/or feta cheese (if you aren’t doing paleo).

tomato and cucumber salad

Tomato & Cucumber Salad

Crisp cucumber and juicy tomato make this delicious summer salad. Similar to a Greek Salad, this recipes calls for all natural ingredients 
If you aren’t following a paleo diet and would like it to be more filling, you may add a half cup of feta cheese
Course: Salad, Side Dish
Keyword: atkins, basil, cucumber, gluten free, greek, keto, paleo, red onion, red wine vineger, tomato, whole30
Servings: 2

Ingredients

  • 1/4 Cup Red Wine Vinegar
  • 2 Tsp Balsamic Vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil Extra Virgin
  • 2 Lrg Cucumber Chopped
  • 1 Cup Tomatoes Chopped
  • 2 Tbsp Red Onion Finely Chopped
  • 2 Tbsp Fresh Italian Parsley Chopped
  • 2 Tbsp Fresh Basil Chopped
  • Salt To taste

Instructions

  • Chop all veggies and herbs and transfer to a mixing bowl
  • In a small bowl or salad dressing shaker, combine all your wet ingredients to make your dressing
  • Mix well and pour on your salad
  • Toss gently to blend
Tomato & Cucumber Salad

The post, Tomato & Cucumber Salad, first appeared on My Beautiful Mess.

Looking for more recipes? Try Roasted Root Medley

How To Make a Clubfoot Bar Cover

This post, How To Make a Clubfoot Bar Cover, contains affiliate links. Should you make a purchase through one of the links I provide, I may receive a small percentage at no cost to you. This allows to offset the costs incurred with this blog. Thanks for your support.

clubfoot bar cover

If you’re reading this, you may be a clubfoot mommy. Believe me when I say, I know what an emotional roller coaster it can be. I share our story in the post From One Clubfoot Mommy to Another. Today, I’m sharing how to make a clubfoot bar cover for a Ponseti bar, but it can easily be adapted for other bars.

As you’ll discover, the bar is heavy and a little sharp. It doesn’t seem that way until you see your child brings his or her feet – and the bar – to eye level. That’s when you realize the bar needs some cushion. Also, your child will kick and scrape your legs while on your lap. It took some bruising and a cut before my husband and I decided we needed a solution.

Making a Clubfoot Bar Cover

To make a clubfoot bar cover, I found pipe insulation to be the best thing for padding. I tried several things like pool noodles, but pipe insulation was the best – hands down. You can purchase it at any hardware store like Lowes or Home Depot. In a pinch you can get it from Amazon. Link provided below.

When it comes to the velcro I tried different options. I tried self-adhesive velcro, but honestly, it would come off when I took the cover off. It also didn’t withstand washing well. Therefore, I recommend using sew-on velcro. If you aren’t comfortable using it, I recommend the following velcro:

Supplies

  • Pins
  • Fabric of your choice
  • Pipe Insulation
  • Measuring tape and strait edge
  • Rotary cutter or fabric shears
  • Cutting mat
  • Thread
  • Velcro
  • Needles if hand sewing or a sewing machine

Instructions

  1. Measure the length of your bar inside the shoes
  2. Cut the pipe insulation to fit. Adjust as necessary.
  3. Next, slice the side of the pipe insulation lengthwise. Place it around your bar and make sure it’s a good fit.
  4. Taking your bar length, measure your fabric, allowing a half inch – whole inch on all sides (sides, top and bottom) to create your seam. Wrap it around the pipe insulation to make sure it fits all the way around the circumference.
  5. Fold in the edges to create a clean seam. Secure with pins.
  6. Iron your fabric.
  7. You can choose to hand stitch or use a sewing machine
  8. Sew all four edges.
  9. Finally, sew your velcro across the top and bottom. If using the one-wrap straps, skip this step. Your velcro will wrap around the outside.

That’s it – how to make a clubfoot bar cover. It took me about 30 mins for this project, but them, I’m a beginner at sewing.

clubfoot bar cover
clubfoot bar cover
clubfoot bar cover

The post, How to Make a Clubfoot Bar Cover, first appeared on My Beautiful Mess.

10 Books That Will Strengthen Your Marriage

Whether you are doing well or struggling in your marriage, everyone could do with a little fine tuning! Here are 10 Books that will strengthen your marriage.

10 books that will strengthen your marriage

How Books Helped Strengthen Our Marriage

Let’s be honest, marriage is really hard work! One of the things I’ve learned in marriage is that you have to be deliberate about growing together. Additionally, if you have kids or a busy work schedule, you really need to prioritize intimacy. To clarify, intimacy doesn’t just mean sex either. Intimacy starts as an emotional connection. In fact, if you don’t have an emotional connection, it’s harder to be intimate physically – at least for many women.

One of the things my husband and I have always done is to read together. It doesn’t take a lot of time, just a couple of pages at night before we go to sleep. Believe it or not, it actually does work! One of us reads aloud and the other listens. For whatever reason, it is very different from the same ole’ staring at the tv screen.

Today, I’m sharing several books that help us work through hard times and understand each other better. Here are 10 books that will strengthen your marriage. These books, with the exception of one, is Christian themed. In a future post, I’ll provide secular titles we read.

The Love Dare, Alex & Stephen Kendrick

This is by far one of the best books I’ve ever read. If you are struggling to love your spouse, if you are running out of reasons to keep giving them chances, you need this book. This 40 day devotional teaches you how to lead your heart back to loving your spouse. Based on 1 Corinthians, the book guides you through a daily instruction on love, providing principles and scripture to contemplate and pray. Then it provides you with a daily challenge and encourages some journaling for self-discovery. I can’t tell you how many times this book has helped me. I’ve even used it with another family member, other than my spouse. My copy is worn and I’ve probably bought 5 or six copies for other people whose marriages were crumbling.

The 5 Love Languages, Gary Chapman

This classic book was really pivotal in learning how to love my spouse. If you feel like there are a lot of unmet needs in your marriage, this book is for you. Most of the time, it is simply a disconnect between you and your spouse. This book describes the five ways people show love. It also explains that people generally show love in the way they like to be loved. For example, maybe your spouse need gifts to feel appreciated. Gifts mean nothing to you, so you never think of giving them. Meanwhile, your spouse begins to feel you don’t care because you “never think of them.” This book teaches you and your spouse how to figure out what it is you need to feel loved and how to meet your spouses needs.

Toxic In-laws, Susan Forword, Phd.

If you’re struggling with invasive, overbearing or controlling in-laws, this is a great book to read. And let me be clear – this book isn’t just great for in-laws. To clarify, this book is written from a psychological perspective instead of Christian one, but I never found it’s advice at odds with my Christian beliefs.

Using real life examples, the author illustrates the main types of toxic parents and carefully outlines their qualities tactics, including guilt and emotional blackmail. It then provides sound, practical advice on how to keep peace, set boundaries and protect your marriage.

The Peacemaker, Ken Sande

This is a must-have book on your bookshelf. If there is anything I’ve learned in life it’s that conflict is unavoidable. Most people tend to fight back or run away, but there are healthy ways to deal with conflict. There is a presumption that any sort of conflict is bad. This book provides biblical principles for navigating conflict and controlling emotions. It provides real solutions for how to be a peacemaker and more importantly – how to act as your own mediator even when emotions are high.

Red Hot Monogamy, Bill & Pam Farrel

This was a fun read. My husband and I actually read it together overnight. This book it based in scripture and uses the Song of Solomon to demonstrate that God wants you to have passionate sex with your spouse. That’s right! Christian sex is supposed to be steamy, fun, and intense. This great book by Bill and Pam Ferrel show you how to get in the right mindset to keep those embers burning!

The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, by Shelia Wray Gregoire

Piggybacking on Red Hot Monogamy, this book teaches you hot to ditch shallow, mechanical sex and trade it in for steamy sheets! I might describe this as Cosmopolitan without the raunchiness! This entertaining book describes the differences in how men and women approach sex and how to find your rhythm and connection as a couple – in particular once the newness wears away. Married for 20 years, the author gives real life examples on how to keep your love life flirtatious, fun, and sexy.

From Anger to Intimacy: How Forgiveness Can Transform Your Marriage, Dr. Gary Smalley

If you are married, you will get hurt. It’s a fact. You can’t spend a lifetime with someone and never get hurt. We are human and we will fail each other. If you are stuck in a place of unforgiveness with your spouse, I recommend this book. This book provides biblical techniques for both recognizing and processing anger and resentment. This book cuts strait to the heart and will stretch you to challenge yourself to move forward and start loving your spouse again.

Love & Respect, Dr. Emerson Eggerich

As you may already know, men and women view love differently. Men actually need respect. For them, that equates to love. This book was actually recommended by our pastor and we really enjoyed reading it. When we get into the “crazy cycle” as this book calls it, I stop and recalibrate how I’m responding and reacting to my husband. I’m not sure I would have really been aware of my behavior if I hadn’t read this book. The same goes for my husband. Similar to The 5 Love Languages, it defines the different needs of men and women and what we can do to give our spouse what they need. Why would we want to do that? Because we respond to love with more love! It’s human nature. Instead of spinning out of control in our own selfishness, learn how to stay in a healthy love/respect cycle with your spouse.

Sacred Marriage, Gary Thomas

This book, different from the others is more on the philosophical side, even existential. It considers a deeper reason for marriage and how it is a tool of the Lord to teach us and challenge us to become holy. Sacred marriage calls us seek out holier lives together as a couple and this book provides practical tools and advice to do that.

Wired For Intimacy: How Pornography Hijacks the Male Brain, Dr. William M. Struthers

This was a very interesting read. If you are struggling with pornography invading your marriage and you have a partner willing to start healing, I highly recommend reading this together. This was the best combination of both religious / spiritual perspective but also psychological and neurobiological effects of pornography addiction and how to combat it. Written by a professor of Psychology, the read itself is a bit academic, but he combines spiritual principles that will help you and your partner.

The post 10 Books That Will Strengthen Your Marriage, first appeared on My Beautiful Mess

Looking for other marriage help? Learn more about Setting Healthy Boundaries in Your Marriage

Roasted Root Medley

Try this easy, sweet and savory roasted root medley, perfect for weeknight dinners

Roasted root medley

This is by far one of my favorite vegetable recipes. First, this roasted root medley is very easy to make. In fact it is so simple, you may wonder why I’m sharing it. That’s because it is one of my favorite side dishes ever!

It’s so easy you almost don’t need a recipe. It’s just chopped vegetables with olive oil. However, the pairing of sweet potato, carrots, and sweet onion make a sweet & salty combination.

In the past, I’ve also made this with sheet pan dinners. I know I’m not the only person who loves one pan dinners!

I discovered this recipe about five years ago during a cleanse diet. That’s the other great thing about this dish. It’s Keto, Paleo, Auto-Immune Paleo, Whole30, Atkins and Weight Watcher friendly. As a variation, you can add other root veggies like beets or parsnips.

Personally, I line the baking pan with parchment paper. It makes clean up a breeze. I also recommend turning the vegetables about half way through baking for perfect tenderness.

Carrots
Jump to Recipe
Roasted root medley

Roasted Root Medley

You’ll love this sweet and savory side dish. Easy to make for weeknight dinners. It’s Keto, Whole30, Paleo and Weight Watcher friendly. 
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time50 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: carrot, olive oil, onion, sweet potato
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 1/8 Cup Olive Oil Extra Virgin
  • 5 Large Carrots Peeled, Chopped
  • 2 Small Sweet Potatoes Peeled, Chopped
  • 1/2 Cup Sweet Onion Chopped
  • Salt & Pepper To taste

Instructions

  • Wash and peel potatoes and carrots. 
  • Chop vegetables and place in a mixing bowl
  • Add olive oil to the mixture and toss until vegetables are fully coated
  • Spoon vegetables onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper
  • Add salt and pepper to taste
  • Bake at 425° for 30 minutes or until tender. Turn vegetables over with a spatula about half way through cooking. 
Roasted root medley

Looking for other weeknight recipes? Try Perfect Spanish Rice

The post Roasted Root Medley first appeared on My Beautiful Mess.

50 Things To Throw Away Right Now

Decluttering can be overwhelming, especially if you don’t know where to begin. Don’t fret. Here are 50 things to throw away right now.

Confession time: I’m a recovering hoarder. Okay, well maybe not that extreme, but I was definitely a clutter bug. I have a hard time letting go of things. What if I need it later? What if I finally get around to fixing it? After all, I paid good money for this! I totally get it.

Saying goodbye to things can be difficult and it’s very easy to start justifying why you should keep something. If you aren’t sure where to start, here are 50 things to throw away right now.

There are definitely things of value you may very well try to sell. But today, we’re just going to focus us on what can go into a trash can right now. These are things that have lost their usefulness and can therefore be tossed strait into a trash can.

Once you get into the habit of decluttering, I’m sure you’ll find it liberating!

So grab a trash bag and let’s begin!

50 Things to Throw Away

  1. Old Magazines
  2. Stationery you no longer use
  3. Developed photos that are blurry, bad shots, or are duplicated
  4. Goopy nail polish
  5. Wrinkled / torn gift wrap
  6. Old party supplies
  7. Tattered gift bags
  8. Financial paperwork older than 5 years
  9. Instruction manuals & out-of-date warranties
  10. Old phone cases
  11. Pens that no longer write
  12. Coupons, mailers, etc.
  13. Glasses and contact lenses that are not your prescription anymore
  14. Old Checkbooks
  15. Broken jewelry
  16. Scratched sunglasses
  17. Stained or torn clothes
  18. Cosmetics older the 3 months
  19. Bath loofahs & sponges that are looking worn
  20. Newspapers
  21. Earrings that don’t have a pair
  22. Socks with holes or no partner
  23. Frayed device-charging cords
  24. Old sponges and dish wands
  25. Phone books
  26. Catalogs
  27. Expired food in your pantry
  28. Out-of-date batteries
  29. Puzzles and games that are missing pieces
  30. Warped food storage containers or ones that have no lids
  31. Toiletries with old or very little product left
  32. Expired medicine
  33. Worn out hair ties & accessories
  34. VHS tapes or Cassettes that you can’t play
  35. Old toothbrushes
  36. Stockings or nylons with runs
  37. Old underwear or bras
  38. Empty Bottles
  39. Expired vitamins and supplements
  40. Receipts
  41. Old invitations and greeting cards
  42. Planners and calendars from previous years
  43. Brochures
  44. Business cards
  45. Spent gift cards
  46. Dried up paint
  47. Free return address labels
  48. Notepads you don’t use
  49. Pet supplies you don’t use
  50. Gloves with no pair

Looking for other decluttering tips? Learn more about 5 Steps to Decluttering Books

The post, 50 Things To Throw Away Right Now first appeared on My Beautiful Mess

Make Your Own Laundry Detergent For Pennies

This post, Make Your Own Laundry Detergent for Pennies, contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through this post, I may receive a small percentage at no cost you

Have you ever noticed how ridiculously expensive laundry detergent is? Making your own detergent is a great way to reduce your grocery bill. I’ve been making my own laundry detergent for about five years now. It is just as good as any commercially made detergent, but it is a fraction of the cost! Today I’m going to show you how you can make your own laundry detergent for pennies! I’ve figured out it costs about 5-10 cents per load based on where you buy your ingredients!

This 100 year-old recipe is tried and proven to clean clothes. You can make it in both liquid and powder form. Today, I will show you the easiest way to do it – powder form. I prefer powdered form because it is faster to make. The liquid form requires cooking and is a slower process. 

The greatest thing about this recipe is that you need very little for a load of laundry. Only two tablespoons for a large laundry load! I have found the cheapest place to get these supplies are at Wal-mart. Many grocery stores carry the ingredients, however they are often obscured on the bottom or top shelf since they aren’t as common. For your convenience, I’ve also included an Amazon link. 

About the Ingredients

Fels-Naptha can also be used on it’s own as a pre-wash stain treatment or to hand wash delicates and sweaters. In existence since 1893, Fels-Naptha is a home remedy for poison ivy, poison oak, and other skin irritants. As a result, it is suitable even for people with sensitive skin. Most importantly, it is a powerful stain remover, particularly for tough stains like oil and grass.

Borax is a natural, mild alkaline salt. It works as a gentle abrasive, therefore making it a great cleaning product outside of laundry. Firstly, it’s already in many cleaning products and cosmetics you may already use. In laundry, it has a wide variety of uses! For example, it stops dyes from transferring or bleeding. In addition, Borax softens water as well as enhances bleach and stain removing. Furthermore, it also works as an additional agitent. Lastly, Borax also works as a natural mildicide and fungicide, by retarding bacteria growth.

Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda is also an amazing cleaning product! It has so many uses! For example, in laundry, it increases detergents cleaning power and it eliminates and neutralizes odors. In addition, you can also use it with warm water to clean tubs, sinks, cookware, even silver, copper and brass.

Now lets get started making laundry detergent!

Supplies

  • Fels-Naptha Laundry Soap
  • Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (not baking soda)
  • 20 Mule Team Borax
  • Large Mixing Bowl
  • Cheese Grater
  • Large container to store your soap
Borax, Fels Naptha and Washing Soda

Recipe

  • 1 Cup Borax
  • 1 Bar of Fels-Naptha Laundry Soap
  • 1 Cup Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, grate the entire bar of Fels-Naptha. This takes some elbow grease!
  • Add one cup of washing soda, followed by 1 cup borax. 
  • Gently stir until evenly combined. Transfer into storage container.
  • Repeat as necessary for more laundry detergent.
Fels Naptha Laundry Soap
Make your own laundry soap for pennies

That’s it! Making your own laundry detergent for pennies is that easy! Save money and lower your grocery bill by making this quick, low-cost detergent. I’ve been pleased with the stain-removing power of this recipe and I know you will be too! I’d love to hear what you do to save money in your household. 

Make Your Own Laundry Detergent for Pennies first appeared on My Beautiful Mess

Looking for other ways to be organized? Learn more about 5 Steps to Decluttering Books

January Scripture Reading: Identity in Christ

Are you struggling with self-esteem and confidence? Maybe you are disappointed in yourself or struggling to forgive yourself. In those moments, it helps to remember who God says you are. This year, I’ll be offering a monthly scripture reading plan. Join me for the January Scripture Reading Plan: Identity In Christ

Identity in Christ

Photo courtesy of Unsplash

Today, I’m sharing something close to my heart – our identity in Christ. I wish I could say that 2018 had been kind to me, but honestly it was a hard year. First, I had a complicated pregnancy, followed by a hard birth and my son’s club foot treatments. Secondly, I’ve had severe postpartum depression. Lastly, I experienced a toxic friendship which ultimately left me without friends or my beloved mom’s support group.

Harsh words were exchanged and sadly, the situation made me question every aspect of my personality, my qualities, and my identity. In those moments, we can believe the enemy’s lies or we can choose to remember our identity in Christ.

Losing Our Identity

It is very easy to get caught up in what the world thinks about you. Our image and reputation becomes important to us starting as children. It’s formed by assumptions, accusations, criticism, popularity, and rejection. Soon, it becomes our inner voice and how we see ourselves. It’s the ground work for insecurity, negative self-talk, and low self-esteem.

Maybe a parent or teacher didn’t think much of us. Those words have a way of haunting us even years afterwards. But here is the good news. Our non-Christian identity is not our true identity.

The world is quick to label us. For example, the world says I’m a woman. I’m a minority. I’m middle class. The world has called me a “know-it-all,” fat, an overachiever, and condescending. According to the world, I’m not normal because I have bi-polar. The world will say I don’t measure up and that I’m unworthy of love and acceptance. Maybe you have heard similar things. But your identity in Christ is far from what the world thinks.

God’s Unstoppable Love For Us

The beauty about our identity in Christ is that it is not dependent upon our accomplishments or failures. The love and acceptance we have in Christ is not dependent upon us or our deeds. It is freely given by a loving and perfect God.

It’s hard to remember, especially when we don’t have the love of the world. After all, if people can’t love us as we are, how can a perfect God? He sees everything I do. He watches me when I’m haughty and self-righteous. He knows when my tongue goes from surly to downright venomous.

Thankfully, God does not love as people love. His love is unconditional. He loves us even when fail to measure up. Mankind revokes grace and mercy when we repeatedly fail. But His grace is new every day (Lam 3:22-23).

Certainly, I have asked if God truly loves me at my worst. Isn’t that what we all want to know? How much does God love us and does He love us when we fail at everything we touch? When Paul asks, “can anything separate us from the love of Christ,” haven’t we all wondered that?

The apostle Paul professes in Romans 8:38-39 (NLT):

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The Enemy’s Voice

People are going to say mean, hate-filled things to us and over us. We will never be able to stop people from doing that, but the enemy will try use it against us. He knows how insecure we can be and therefore, he will remind us of every fault, mistake and flaw to keep us trapped in a web of self-loathing. He wants us paralyzed, convinced we are unloved.

It’s almost embarrassing to say, but I was there. Over the last several months those words haunted me every day. I truly felt hated – like I was the worst person alive and I just wanted to crawl into a hole and never come out. That’s just what the devil is hoping for too.

The enemy wants to steal your joy, kill your confidence and destroy your spirit. He wants you broken, confused, defeated, desperate and exhausted. Christ however, wants to give you goodness and give it in abundance. If you doubt that for one second, read John 10:10:

The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy, but I have come that they may have life and have it to the fullest.

God has good plans for us (Jer 29:11). To clarify, this does not mean we never experience hardships or cruelty from others. It means those things no longer have power over us.

Remember this – no matter what someone calls you, no matter what someone says you are – God says different!

Who God Says You Are

Finding these scriptures was a fun exercise, because honestly, I could have done this for a year! The more I read, the more excited I get.

God says you are:

  • Anointed (1 John 2:27)
  • His child (1 John 3:1-2)
  • Accepted (Rm 15:7)
  • Included (Eph 1:13)
  • Forgiven (1 John 1:9)
  • Justified (Rm 3:24)
  • Adopted (Eph 1:5)
  • Blessed when you come and go (Deut 28:6)
  • An oak of righteousness (Is 61:3)
  • Marked with His Seal (Eph 1:13)
  • Chosen (1 Pet 2:9)
  • Fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:13)
  • Worth dying for (Rm 5:8)
  • A conqueror (Rm 8:37)
  • A soldier in the army of Christ (2 Tim 2:3-4)
  • Ordained and Sanctified (Jeremiah1:5)
  • A citizen of heaven (Phil 3:20)
  • Appointed (John 15:16)
  • His heir (Eph 1:11)
  • Free (Heb 9:15)
  • A priest (or Priestess) (1 Pet 2:5)
  • Redeemed (Is 44:22 / Ps 111:9)
  • Precious (Is 43:4)
  • A Saint (Eph 2:19)
  • An Ambassador (2 Cor 5:18-30
  • Without blemish (Col 1:22)
  • A temple of the Holy Spirit (1 For 6:19-20)
  • Reconciled (Eph 2:8-9)

Feel better? Me too.

Though my mother and father forsake me, the Lord will take me in. (Psalm 27:10)

The post January Scripture Reading: Identity in Christ first appeared on My Beautiful Mess

Join me in February for Love and Kindness Scripture Reading. In the meantime, learn more about making wellness a priority in the post 30 Day Wellness Challenge

100 Goal Ideas for the New Year

Learn how to avoid failed resolutions and get goal setting ideas with the help of a free printable and 100 Goal Ideas for the New Year

100 Goal Ideas for the new year
(Photo Courtesy of Unsplash)

Goalsetting. It can be a daunting task. Some people avoid making resolutions altogether because they didn’t accomplish them in the past. If you’re looking to set goals, but don’t know where to start, I’m going to give you some hints on how to achieve them and 100 Goal Ideas for the New Year.

Deciding to Change

First let’s be honest. January 1 is not a magical day. Neither is Monday, for that matter. The truth is, you can begin where you are right now. I think humans are innately inspired by organically occurring changes, like seasons or the new year. Certainly, there is something about the newness of Spring coming and the desire to become clean and organized. 

Once fall starts, it seems like we are perpetually busy – even more than the rest of the year. It’s a constant stream of obligations, parties and events. Therefore, finding time to create habits in an already frenzied season,
is extra challenging. Many people are discouraged by that and consequently choose to wait until the New Year to begin.

Changing Your Mindset

Our brain is a recorder. It remembers how we handled commitments and resolutions in the past. If you never buckle down and finish anything, your brain remembers that and it prepares to be flaky. If you have failed at goals in the past it might be because your drive is based on motivation rather than commitment. Motivation is temporary. It fizzles out. It’s based on feelings. Commitment is different. Commitment means that you do something regardless of how you feel. It isn’t dependent upon inspiration.

That’s why keeping small commitments to yourself is so important. You may not realize it, but you are creating a habit. Following through on obligations not only builds integrity, it builds character and it creates the habit of accomplishing things. If you habitually flake out, you’re programming yourself to be a quitter. I used to have this problem. To be clear…I was lazy. I put as little effort as possible into things and I constantly backed out of obligations.

People who know me now,  might find that hard to believe because I’m the exact opposite today. These days, I’m often called an “overachiever!” But that is because at the age of 23, I decided to change that deeply rooted flaw. 

How To Set Goals

If you’ve ever worked in a corporate setting, you’ll often hear about the acronym S.M.A.R.T. Initially, I rolled my eyes at another corporate buzz word. But over time, I have found it to be incredibly helpful when it comes to setting goals. S.M.A.R.T. Basically asks the questions: Who? What? How? When? 

Specific

Goals should be specific. Being specific helps you map out exactly how you plan to get to the desired result. For example, instead of saying, “I want to be healthy,” break down exactly what that means to you. Does it involve losing weight? If so, how much? Does it mean cutting out carbs or replacing soda for water? Maybe it means you work out 3-4 times per week. Be specific about what it is you actually want. 

When I decided I wanted to be a cleaner person, I made a list of what that meant. Where was I habitually messy or lazy? For me, it meant putting things away immediately after I used it. It meant doing the dishes every night. No excuses! It meant putting my clothes strait into the hamper instead of leaving them on the floor or draped over something. What specifically do you want to change?

Measurable

Goals should be measurable. You should know when you’ve reached the end. You should also know if you are making progress. I have found the best way to do this is by writing goals down and finding someway to track progress.

First, if you have a large goal in front of you, I suggest breaking them down into smaller milestones. Secondly, consider there may be many ways to measure your progress. For example, if your goal is weight loss consider tracking inches and dress sizes as a way of measuring your progress. Some weeks the scale may not move, but your tape measure will!

Attainable

This should go without saying, but your goal should be attainable. No, I’m not trying to be a dream killer. I want you to dream big! Seriously, set your sights high! But lets be clear. Dreaming and goal-setting are not the same thing. Goal setting is about mapping out a realistic way to attain that big dream!

To clarify, let me get personal for a minute. My dream, my big dream is to grow this blog you’re reading. I want it to become my full time job! That’s good, but first I need to set some attainable goals. Subsequently, my goals should be to grow readership and commit to an editorial schedule. Goals should stretch you, but should also be within reach.

Lastly, consider obstacles. What stands in the way of obtaining your goal? Perhaps you tried before in the past. What caused you to fail before? If it’s time management, think about how you will prioritize your schedule. Create a “plan B” or give yourself options for when you get stymied. In other words, if you are prepared for obstacles beforehand, you’ll be less likely to give up when they stand in your way.

Relevant

Relevant simply means that it is germane to your overall business or life outlook. For example, if you want to live a long, active, healthy life, then fitness goals and nutrition goals are going to be a part of reaching that life aspiration. If you want a greater income, then that promotion goal is going to be necessary. In other words, look at the big picture and decide why these goals will help you create the life you want. If you don’t have a strong “why,” you are less likely to follow through to the end.

Time Bound

Finally, your goal should be bound by time. In other words, you need to give yourself a deadline. That doesn’t mean a random date. It should be carefully calculated. For example, let’s say your goal is to lose 50 pounds. To set a deadline carefully consider how many pounds you can reasonably expect to lose each week, then calculate how many weeks it will take to get to that goal. 

On the other hand, you may be doing a goal only for a certain amount of time. For instance, maybe you decide to drink only water for 30 days as a detox. Similarly, you may commit to a 90-day exercise challenge. Either way, your goal should have some sort of time boundary. Even if your goal is a lifestyle change, set a time frame and once you reach it, reset the time again.

100 Goal Ideas for the New Year

Here are goal ideas. You should consider how to specificially tailor them to you. I’ve broken them into ten life categories.

Mental Health / Wellness Goals

  1. Address addictions (smoking, drinking, overeating, pornography, social media, etc)

2. Stop negative self-talk

3. Stop procrastinating

4. Learn a new hobby or skill

5. Take a “me day” once per month

6. Start a journal

7. Take a break from social media

8. Schedule screen-free time every week

9. Go to bed at 10 p.m. every night

10. Get up before the kids everyday

Organizational Goals

11. Organize yourself with a planner

12. Donate one trash bag of decluttered items per month

13. Create a cleaning schedule

14. Figure out a system for keeping a messy area, clean

15. Create a pantry or freezer inventory

16. Keep obligations and be on time to events

17. Completely reorganize a closet

18. Create an organization system for paperwork

19. Reduce waste and disposable items in your lifestyle

20. Give everything in your home a place

Financial Goals

21. Reduce “eating out” budget by $X

22. Create and maintain a budget for 12 months

23. Reduce or pay off one of your debts

24. Save for an emergency fund

25. Track every dollar spent

26. Save for a vacation

27. Create multiple income streams

28. Create a retirement plan

29. Use cash instead of debit and credit cards

30. Reduce your student loan debt

Diet & Fitness Goals

31. Eat less fast food

32. Reduce calories

33. Exercise 3-4 times per week

34. Learn a new sport

35. Do a 30-Day diet challenge

36. Lose one dress size

37. Drink 8 glasses of water per day

38. Reduce / cut out carbohydrates

39. # of Steps per day

40. Participate in a half marathon or full marathon

Spiritual Goals

41. Make a war binder

42. Keep a gratitude journal

43. Commit to going to church every week

44. Read one Bible verse per day

45. Complete an act of kindness or service every week

46. Commit to a ministry for one year

47. Keep a positive attitude

48. Practice and make time for regular meditation or prayer

49. Make friends within the church

50. Read the bible from start to finish.

Relationship Goals

51. Have better sex / Sex more often

52. Commit to a regular date night

53. Replace couch potato time with engaging time together

54. Complete couples devotional together

55. Practice supporting your partner

56. Travel together

57. Show regular appreciation & squash out complaints

58. Focus on practicing regular forgiveness

59. Volunteer as a couple

60. Pray together

Hobby / Skill Goals

61. Learn to draw

62. Learn one new thing a day

63. Learn  a new language

64. Learn woodworking

65. Complete a DIY project

66. Learn how to cook

67. Read more books

68. Learn photography

69. Learn to grow your own veggies and herbs

70. Learn an instrument

Business / Career Goals

71. Update your profile and stay active on LinkedIn

72. Produce more “x”

73. Read one business or career-related book per month

74. Create and organize your paper or digital filing system

75. Go completely paperless

76. Increase social media followers by “x” amount

77. Mentor someone

78. Learn a new aspect of your industry

79. Send thank you notes to people who help you

80. Create a healthy work/life balance

Personal Development / Psychological

81. Become more proactive

82. Stop dwelling on the past

83. Remove false / toxic friendships

84. Practice being more agreeable (getting along with others)

85. Increase confidence / self-esteem

86. Become more generous

87. Accept flaws

88. Overcome anxiety

89. Practice being slow to offend

90. Live with an attitude of forgiveness

Intellectual Goals

91. Learn a new word a day

92. Increase your IQ

93. Learn one history lesson a week

94. Improve geography skills

95. Take online classes

96. Refresh your grammar and spelling skills

97. Read a book a month / join a book club

98. Learn about a subject you’ve previously struggled in (physics, math, etc)

99. Read classic literature for one year

100. Read poetry

I sincerely hope that this post, 100 Goal Ideas for the New Year helps you slay goals. I would love to hear what your goals are for the New Year. Make sure to subscribe via email to receive your FREE Goal Slaying Worksheet to help you obtain your goals for 2019!

The post 100 Goal Ideas for the New Year first appeared on My Beautiful Mess

Shrimp & Crawfish Étouffée

Shrimp and Crawfish Etouffee is a delightful seafood dish with peppers, onions and Cajun spices. Serve over fluffy white rice.

Shrimp crawfish Etouffee

Etouffee is a classic Cajun dish. If you’re a beginner to Cajun cooking, this dish is for you! Crawfish Etouffee is the most common combination, but this dish also incorporates shrimp. Crawfish Étouffée is perfect for weeknight dinners because it’s made in about 30 minutes.

Make Etouffee with a simple roux. To make a roux, brown flour with oil or butter. A dark roux makes a darker the sauce. Tender onions and bell peppers sautéed with garlic and paprika, round out the dish.

Hint: When using shrimp, remove excess water by draining in a colander before cooking

Serve Etoufee over white rice. You don’t need a rice cooker. Make perfect rice by adding one cup of rice, 2 cups of water and 1 tbsp of olive oil. Do not stir rice. Stirring makes rice clumpy. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until all water is gone (about 15-20 mins).

Shrimp and Crawfish Etouffee

Shrimp and Crawfish Etouffee is a classic Cajun dish. The secret is in the roux. Crawfish and shrimp are slowly simmered in a light roux sauce with garlic, onion, bell pepper and Cajun spices. 
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Main Course
Keyword: bellpepper, cajun, crawfish, etouffee, onion, shrimp
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp Butter
  • 3 Tbsp All purpose flour
  • 1 Lbs Crawfish meat
  • 1/2 Lbs Shrimp Tail off, deveined, drained
  • 1 Sm Onion Chopped
  • 1/2 Cup Bell pepper Chopped
  • 1 Tsp Garlic Minced
  • 1 Cup Chicken broth
  • 1/3 Cup Green Onions Chopped
  • 1 Tbsp Paprika

Instructions

  • Rinse and drain crawfish and shrimp in colander 
  • In a deep skillet, on medium heat, add oil.
  • Slowly add flour. Continue cooking until brown, stirring constantly so it doesn’t burn. It should be a deep golden brown.
  • Add onion, garlic and bell pepper. Cook until tender.
  • Slowly add chicken broth, stirring between pours to make sure there are no clumps. 
  • Add Paprika, shrimp and crawfish and bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover and simmer until sauce thickens.
  • Serve over white rice

Looking for more recipes? Try White Chocolate Raspberry Muffins

Shrimp and Crawfish Etoufee first appeared on My Beautiful Mess