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Counting Gifts

Counting Gifts/ FAMILY/ Kids/Family

An Engagement, Writing Retreats and Heart’s Desires at Highlands

I’ve had a secret heart’s desire for a few months now.
I’ve wanted a little get-away, some solitude, a writer’s retreat.

I have an important writing project deadline at the beginning of next year, so now that fall is almost over, this desire has been felt a bit more acutely. The idea of a retreat was not a demand or need, just a little nudge of thought in the back of my mind, a desire of my heart that only God and a couple of my besties would know about.

 

Desire of My Heart

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4

“Be faithful in a little, and he will give you much” Luke 16:10

God has a way of weaving stories and heart’s desires and bringing them about in ways I couldn’t even begin to dream up on my own. I am in the middle of a beautiful moment in his tapestry of this life that I get to live.

It is a moment that I honestly can’t believe I get to be alive to see, much less to witness it with my own eyes. It is the moment my OLDEST DAUGHTER GETS ENGAGED!

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Counting Gifts/ FAMILY/ Marriage

A Simple, Practical Way to See the Good in Your Husband and Transform Your Marriage

 

It is my husband Todd’s birthday today, so I thought it would be fitting to tell you how I have been focusing on the good I see in him, and how just tweaking a habit I had already formed gives me all-the-heart-eyes throughout the week for my man.

The simple technique I have been using to do this has opened my eyes to so many good things he is and does, and I’m eager to share some examples of these good things about the man that I love with you.

Maybe, just maybe it might give you a way to find extra ‘heart-eyes’ for your guy, too!

 

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Counting Gifts/ FAMILY/ Leaving A Legacy/ Spiritual

When Apathy is No Longer an Option

I am honored to have Katie Polley, writing for Love Justice International, as a guest here today. Please read about the very important work they do and share it if you feel led to help spread the word about this amazing nonprofit. The world needs to know about it!

–Amy


Love Justice International

by Katie Polley, writing for Love Justice International

In 2016, I started helping a nonprofit with their social media and website content for a couple hours a week. I worked with many clients at the time and had little reason to suspect that getting to know this nonprofit would drastically impact the way I desire to live my life.

Love Justice International is compelled by God’s love to fight the world’s greatest injustices—one of which is human trafficking—an issue I had heard a lot about but hadn’t really ever engaged deeply with. It felt far away from my little world. The numbers were so big (in 2016, the Global Slavery Index estimated that 40.3 million people live in slavery), and felt impersonal. And ultimately, I was ignorant.

This all changed as I began to learn more about the people and work behind Love Justice. As I started receiving story after story from the field, I quickly realized they didn’t just see and talk about the issue of human trafficking, but quite literally they entered into the very trenches of it to stop it. God woke me up.

You see, Love Justice is unique from most anti-trafficking agencies in that rather than working on the preventative or the reactive side of human trafficking, they actually intervene at the exact moment when trafficking is occurring, and they intercept the potential victim before she is trafficked.

 

 

So I began reading account after account of young women, from various countries, who were being taken across borders, bus stations, or airports, but instead were intersected by Love Justice’s trained monitors. Young women like Sanjula who was most likely headed into a life of some form of slavery, marked by unimaginable darkness and despair. But instead, because there were justice-fighters stationed, waiting, and seeking out girls just like her, she was literally intercepted and turned around.

Instead of traveling further with her trafficker, Sanjula was educated on the dangers of trafficking and safe foreign employment. She was cared for, counseled and comforted, and then sent to safety.

 

 

These stories of real people like Sanjula¸were oftentimes girls my age. They were children of God—with names, families, beautiful facial features, unique hopes, and dreams. Their stories deeply affected how I thought about human trafficking, justice, and my role in it as a fellow child of God. I was no longer ignorant, and apathy was no longer an option. I couldn’t deny how these stories of faithful people pursuing the vulnerable girl who was being deceived into a life of slavery and darkness, perfectly reflected God’s pursuit of me.

It’s the gospel—the story I’ve been graced to hear throughout my whole life. The God of the universe passionately wanted to save me from the slavery of the sin I was born with. He wanted freedom and a relationship with me so much that He didn’t stay in the heavenly places and leave me to my helpless estate, but instead, He literally moved heaven and earth to come up with a plan, a strategy, the only way to save me in His son, Jesus Christ.

He pursued me! He entered into the mess, the danger, the pain, and came down to earth, taking the punishment I deserved and made a new way for me. He turned my path around and offered freedom, light, and hope.

This is the reflection I saw in every Love Justice interception story I read from across the globe. In the same way, God pursued justice for me and came to save me, Love Justice was literally placing people right where the injustice of trafficking was happening, so they could intercept victims’ paths towards slavery and instead offer them freedom. What an amazing, beautiful picture of how God pursues us!

 

 

And even more than that, He has made each of us in His own image. So the same heart of His that craves justice is in us. He built in our hearts a desire for justice, a hunger for wrongs to be righted, a quest for things to be dealt with. When we truly know God and His love, and we truly know the reality of injustices like human trafficking, our hearts cannot help but be compelled to be a part of stopping it.

The joy and meaning I’ve found in being able to work alongside and play a small role in what Love Justice is doing have been immeasurable. Simply put, God is using this ministry to bring more of His Kingdom here on earth—to destroy injustice and usher in freedom for the oppressed. To date, they’ve intercepted over 16,000 lives to prevent them from being trafficked. And each one of those interceptions results in powerful intelligence that allows them to assist local police with criminal investigations and arrests of the perpetrators.

 

 

When you see God moving like this, the same God who saved you from spiritual darkness, it’s hard to not jump at the chance to be a part of it. So today, at the very end of Human Trafficking Prevention Month, I want to invite you to be a part of Love Justice with me! Allow your life to be impacted by the beauty of leaning into God’s heart for justice with action. Go to LoveJustice.ngo to learn more about how you can get involved with your time, treasure, and talents.

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human trafficking

Counting Gifts/ HEALTH/ Spiritual

What Have I Done To Deserve Love Like This?

Driving through Monterey, sunroof open, coastal air in our hair.

I’m nestled into the passenger seat of my Karen’s car.

 

It is one of my most favorite places in the world to be.

She brings a soft blanket and pillow for my head, just in case I am tired after my early morning flight.

She brings nourishment in a cooler, just in case I am hungry.

 

“What have I done to deserve love like this?”

{Push Play On Song, Maybe Listen While Reading?}

 

She is my beauty from ashes friend, and I cannot help but think how tangible that is, all throughout this 4th trip of mine to California.

All 4 trips have been a gift, plane tickets and more paid for.

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Counting Gifts

Things I’m Thankful For | One Thousand Gifts

glass vase with pumpkin

Remember the post: The Most Simple Way To Boost Your Mood? I talked about counting the gifts and how it can lift the mood. It seriously does wonders!

Thanks to #Last90Days challenge that I have been participating in, I have picked up the habit of counting gifts more aggressively lately, and again…I’m amazed at how it is such a mood booster!

Thanks to this challenge, I went from daily listing just 3 things I’m thankful for and upped it to 10.

Listing 10 gifts a day causes one to pause and think for a minute on what is good…there are so many things!

Despite being a harder season for our family, there are so many great amazing things to be thankful for.

If you are in a hard season too, try listing the things you are thankful for. It helps so much.

These are some of the highlights of my lists:

 

Things I’m Thankful For | One Thousand Gifts

#1,157 – #1,197 

Change of seasons, from summer to fall.

Connecting with sisters.

60-degree mornings.

Early morning wake-up habit established.

Motivation & revelation.

8 years cancer free anniversary!

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ANTI-PROCRASTINATION/ Counting Gifts/ Emotional Health

5 Things To Do To Thrive #Last90Days

stack of rocks for yoga

Rachel Hollis and her #Last90Days 5 Things To Do To Thrive challenge started today and Instagram was lit with people using the hashtag.

It was inspiring to follow along and see so many people wanting to live their lives in a purposeful way.

5 Things To Do To Thrive #last90days is a challenge that is meant to motivate and keep you accountable for finishing the last 90 days of the year strong.

Why wait for the new year to start? I love the do-it-now approach of this challenge.

 

5 to thrive image

{Image via Moms & Beyond}

HERE ARE THE 5 TO THRIVE

  1. Get up an hour earlier than you normally do and use the time for yourself.
  2. Workout at least 30 minutes a day.
  3. Drink half your body weight in ounces of water each day.
  4. Give up one food category you know you shouldn’t be eating.
  5. Write down 10 things that you are grateful for each day.

When my sister shared the challenge with me, I told her I was pretty much already doing those 5 things. I didn’t mean to be arrogant or boastful, but last June I started getting up 1 hour early.

Honestly the other 5 things just kinda fell into place, just by being purposeful with getting my bum out of bed! A snowball-type effect.

It is fun to have a challenge that will help solidify and zero in on these simple, already life-changing things that help me in my pursuit to live new, live well and live with purpose!

Want to do it too?

 

MY THOUGHTS ON 5 THINGS TO DO TO THRIVE

 

1. Wake Up An Hour Early

Rachel Hollis is quick to add that this does NOT apply to new Mama’s, or those in seasons of life where extra sleep IS caring for yourself.

BUT… if you find yourself saying, “I don’t have time to read” or “I can’t find time to work out” or if you know that things like prayer, journaling or meditation would benefit you more than sleep right now…then get on up!

I started doing this thanks to advice from The Miracle Morning, and after hearing it over and over from people like Brendon Burchard, Lewis Howe and Tony Robbins, it has been a goal on my mind that I wanted to pursue.

I have been doing it regularly since early June and it has been life-changing.

I’VE BEEN WAKING UP EARLY IN ORDER TO LIVE SLOW. A PURPOSEFUL SLOW.

I spend the early morning time doing things I already was doing on a regular basis, but now I am not rushed and have a head start…it has become my favorite time of day!

I get coffee, light a candle, journal, pray, use my Bible app and meditate. By doing these habits an hour early, the rest of my day is so much more calm, focused and productive.

I am getting up regularly at 6, and there was even one week in August that I got up at 5:30 to do some extra writing for a project, and goodness was THAT ever a productive experience!

I had no idea my brain could be so clear and focused that early in the morning, but it was and is. I will write more about this discovery in another post.

Not a morning person? My advice is to try it anyway…you may be surprised and find out (like I did) that maybe you are a morning person after all. It takes time to create a habit, 20 days they say…so try it.

Wake up to do something that you REALLY, really look forward to! This is key for me.

 

2. Workout At Least 30 Minutes a Day

By getting up an hour early, I found myself being able to fit workouts in and quite motivated to do so. The challenge to myself was to simply move my body every day.

I took a break from some cancer medication that I have been on, and my joints felt so much better, so I was extra motivated and thankful to be able to move!

I walk daily for at least 30 minutes, with a goal of seeing my Fitbit reach 10,000 steps by the end of the day. These walks are so enjoyable thanks to nature and podcasts and my favorite Voxer app.

I decided not to put pressure on myself to jog or run, simply because I don’t enjoy it. Because of this I actually looked forward to my daily walk and it became a habit.

I also have added yoga to my ‘move everyday goal’ as it is so good for my joints and learning how to breathe is so good for anxiety. This simple 10 Minute Morning Routine is a fav, and I am on day 6 of this 30 Day Yoga Revolution series on Youtube.

I am going to use the 5 to Thrive Challenge to go from 5 days a week to 7 days a week. Eek! Good thing I really love walking and yoga. Wish me luck!

 

3. Drink Half Your Body Weight in Ounces of Water Each Day.

This is easy for me. Whoo-hoo! So nice to have something in the challenge that does not feel like a challenge. I drink black coffee, matcha or herbal tea, and then it is water the rest of the day.

The key for me has been my inexpensive Bubba waterbottle because it keeps my ice from melting and has a huge straw which makes getting water in a breeze.  Easy to gulp gulp gulp!

It is 24 ounces, so if I refill it 4 times a day I’m pretty much there…especially if I count my herbal tea for hydration.

 

4. Give Up One Food Catagory You Know You Shouldn’t Be Eating

The food category I have been working on is all the white things. White sugar, white carbs –white pasta, white flour, white bread etc. I am great with this until the weekend.

I’ve made exceptions for pizza on Friday family nights (although we have been trying out cauliflower crust pizza the last few weeks) and date nights or social outings.

I’m trying to decide if I am going to give this up completely. I think if I commit to this, I will fail…just being real and honest.

I am good with committing to 90% giving this up, but leaving space and grace on certain family nights and social outings or date nights.

Those really only come on Friday and Saturday evenings, and an occasional extended family get together on Sundays (once a month), so 90% it is!

This is doable and already something I have been putting into place, although saying no to a fun Pumpkin Spice Latte during the week will take some discipline for sure!

 

5. Write Down 10 Things That You’re Grateful For Each Day

I started writing what I call lists of ‘gifts’ in 2010 when I was diagnosed with cancer. It changed me and made the fight bearable. I listed them in an ongoing fashion on this blog and surpassed 1,000!

I have been listing 3/day on a daily docket I use each day and gather them at the end of the week into my journal and reflect on all the amazing things I have to be thankful for.

I can up my game on this…but it bugs me that I only left 3 lines on the daily docket I made…now I wish there were 10! Guess I will need to re-design it.

By the way, I will be sharing this docket with you in the coming weeks. It is another simple tool that creates habits that bring about purpose.

 

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So there it is. My thoughts on the 5 to Thrive Challenge. I’m 90% in for 90Days. 🙂

How about you?

Let me know if you are participating.

I will share my progress with you and give glimpses of what I do on my Instagram stories. Find me @Amy_NewNostalgia

 

Counting Gifts/ Emotional Health

The Most Simple Way To Boost Your Mood

distressed, moody wall

A Simple Way To Boost Mood

A pen, paper and a resoluteness to find my thankful. This is the most simple way I have found to boost my mood.

I know, I know. You have heard it before, it is nothing new — make a list of things you are thankful for and it could change you. It has even been studied. It may seem simple. but sometimes the most simple solution can be the most profound.

Even in my hardest days of cancer and chemo, even in my darkest days of anxiety, choosing to find something to be thankful for and deliberately writing my finds in list form changed me and helped get me through.

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