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How to let God choose your relationship

When you were a kid, did you ever try to put something together or fix something, and then you eventually had to ask your parent for help? Originally, you set out thinking you could do it on your own, and then you realized that maybe, just maybe your parent had the skills to make it work. So you asked them for their help. Even if you didn’t want to. Even if you originally thought you could do it on your own.

As Christians, we have the tendency to do the same thing. We try and fix relationships on our own. I mean, we know what a good, Christian spouse should look like, right? While we may have some idea, God has the ultimate way of making sure we are where we need to be and who we need to be with.

If you want to give your potential relationship or existing relationship to God, start by praying, “God, I want you to takeover my life and every situation within it once again. INCLUDING my relationship. I give up my anxiousness and I present every request to you.”

It’s not always easy to hand over what we are going through to God, but when we do, we began to notice the difference.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

- Philippians 4:6

3 Things To Remember When Your Heart Has Been Broken

My friend, your heart may be broken but don’t worry…it won’t stay that way forever. I know it hurts, and I know the pain you feel is REAL, but here are some things to remember in this difficult time:

1. This does not mean you are not worthy of love.

Yes, you have been hurt. Yes, you have been made to feel like you were not worthy of that person’s affections, but don’t let those feelings trick you into thinking that you are not worthy. That person did may not have seen your worth, but remember that your worth is in Jesus, and God will send people into your life that appreciate you, respect you, and love you in a meaningful, godly way.

2. Jesus loved you first and His love for you comes before anyone else.

Think about the time in your life where you felt the MOST loved, when you felt the MOST wanted. Jesus loves you even more than that! His love sees past our mistakes, past our flaws, and past our insecurities. Be sure to pray and ask God to remind you of Jesus’ powerful love for you. Surround yourself with people with show Jesus’ love no matter what.

3. God has something better for you

I know that sounds cliche, and not the kind of thing you want to hear when your heart has been broken, but it is TRUE. 1 Peter 1:7 says:

“These trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold — and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold. So if your faith remains strong after being tried by fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.”

3 reminders for single Christians on sex before marriage

3 reminders for single Christians on sex before marriage:

1. Sex before marriage is NOT like a test drive.

If sex before marriage is supposed to be a “test drive,” then why are there so many nice test-driven cars still sitting in the car lot with no one to purchase them? So many people want to enjoy the benefits of test driving a nice car but without the commitment of buying a nice car. As a result, they walk away momentarily satisfied, but already ready to test drive the next car until they find one that’s cheaper, even if it’s not that nice.

You’re not a car to be test driven. You are God’s beautiful creation, and don’t let any one talk you into thinking otherwise.

“Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation!” – Psalms 139:14 (The Message)

2. Don’t give yourself away for momentary satisfaction.

For Christians who are not married, regardless of what society tries to tell you, sex is more than just fulfilling a physical and emotional need…it’s fulfilling a commitment. A commitment before God.

“Honor marriage, and guard the sacredness of sexual intimacy between wife and husband.” – Hebrews 13:4 (The Message)

3. Your future spouse will be so glad you chose to commit to God

When you decide to make a commitment to be pure before God and marry someone who has done the same thing, there is something worth cherishing there like nothing else.

“Many a man claims to have unfailing love, but a faithful man who can find? The righteous man leads a blameless life; blessed are his children after him.” – Proverbs 20:6-7

“A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.” – Proverbs 31:10

20 Things to Remember as a Single Christian This Summer

Ah, the summer romance. It seems like two-thirds of every film ever made involving romance is set somewhere involving beautiful summer sunsets, expensive bright red convertibles, palm trees swaying in the wind…anything that has to do with summer.

The “summer romance” has become a cliche because let’s face it–summertime does something to us. Whether you love it or hate it, no matter where you are in the world, summer signifies this sense of freedom and many times, a sense of love.

But what is there to make of all this as a single Christian taking on summer? What do you do when the reality TV and chick-flick versions of a summer romance just doesn’t suit your lifestyle?

If you’re a single Christian looking for a little encouragement this summer, we’ve created a list of things to for you to remember:

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Take Your Life Off of Autopilot

Here’s the thing.

wish I was schedule-ey. I wish I was more disciplined.

I’m not good at diets. I’m not good at sticking to exercise routines. My house is frequently in disorder.

At this point, I could go ahead and blame it on my personality. So, I think I’ll do just that!

I’m an “artist” type.. Which is code for “I’m all feely, emotional, crazy, creative, and messy”. I like to do a lot, explore a lot, try a lot, and go non-stop, which can leave me frazzled, disorganized, and drained. Just trying to make it through the day.

But, alas!

Such is the life for a creative type like myself.

Each personality type has different pros, cons, flaws, perks, benefits, strengths, weaknesses, etc.

I frequently feel like my life is on auto pilot. I wake up, coast through breakfast, coast through getting my child up, soar through the morning routine, and it’s off to work. There I fly through the day, glide home, coast through my evening routine, and land at bedtime. But lately, I’ve felt like somewhere in all of this comfortable, easy, chilled out coasting, I’m missing things.

My mom made a good point yesterday as we talked about this.

We’ve all heard the expression that life is like a garden. Well, lets say I planted a garden. I took a whole Saturday, wasted it with working, and tilling, and planting, and watering, and fence-post-putting, and such. I sat back and marveled at the beauty of my botany beginnings. Then I went inside and took a six hour nap. Ha.

For the next few days, all I would do when I saw my garden was smile and walk past it.

Then for the next few weeks, I would just gaze at it as I walked by. Thinking how proud I was that I actually planted something in the ground.

When I came back in a month’s time, expecting to pick flowers, or harvest veggies, I would sadly only be in for a dirt plot of disappointment.

You see, a garden, just like a life, requires work. It’s not for the faint of heart, or the easily tired, or those who just want to lay back and relax.

If you want your life to produce a harvest of blessings and rewards, ex: a well mannered and God fearing child, a marriage that is blissful, a career, or a dream come true- you have to make lots of little choices each day. These choices require you to take off the auto pilot and step in to the messy, work-filled saga that is life.

If I could say one thing that I really want to see happen in my life, it’s that I need to start living more intentionally. Setting standards. Putting things on a schedule. Implementing strategies, and pursuing goals. It is so much easier to just coast through each day, trying to live as work and stress free as possible. But I’m willing to bet that it will only feel good for so long. And that it’s possible, that if we live our lives like this, we may look around and find a whole lot of weeds.

“Despite their desires, the lazy will come to ruin,

for their hands refuse to work.”

Proverbs 21:25

Ouch! Excuse me while I go clean my house now.

REVIEW: Eden BodyWorks Jojoba Monoi Deep Conditioner

Yep, it’s still cold outside.

Sometimes a little oil treatment maintenance just isn’t enough to battle icy winds and arctic walks to class.

One of my favorite ways to give my hair a little TLC is a good deep condition.

My deep condition process has basically been the same since I first “went natural” in 2010. I apply conditioner to damp hair that has been parted into six sections and put into bantu knots. I then cover my hair with a plastic cap and let it sit for three to four hours. If my hair is extremely dry, I might sit under a hooded dryer for a while to amp up the level of conditioning. Afterwards, I simply rinse out the conditioner and…voila! Fabulous, moisturized tresses.

However, our hair can sometimes “get used” to some products and we may need to switch it up. I’d been using the same conditioner for my co-washes and deep conditions for about two years and finally realized I wasn’t getting the same results anymore.

I recently experimented with the Eden BodyWorks Jojoba Monoi All Natural Deep Conditioner.

Check out the video below to see how it went!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xi7wsMlEgeg]—

For more natural hair videos from Ashley, click here.

The Average Girl’s Guide to Posing for Photos

 

 

 

 

 

Contrary to the impression you may have from the 5 photos above, I’ve often been told that I’m rather photogenic.

I know a lot of ladies who hate having their picture taken. They don’t want to be in photos if at all possible, and when they are found in a photo, they are vocal about how disappointed they are in how the camera captures their looks.

No one is immune to a bad photo. They happen. But I don’t think that constant fear of the camera and constant disappointment in your appearance in snapshots and portraits is a very fun way to go through life. I am one of those weird people that likes to get her picture taken. And that’s a very good thing, because I’m married to a man who likes to keep a camera in his hand and take photos every few seconds whenever possible. I’m no model. I’m fairly short, with curly hair that does its absolute best to impersonate a gigantic clump of unruly seaweed if I give it the least chance. I know for a fact that I don’t look my best in every photo my husband takes of me. However, I’ve found that a few helpful strategies for practical posing help me to keep a joyful attitude about pictures, and not start cringing when other people start snapping away.

1. Angles are your friend. Facing the camera head on, with completely straight arms and legs tends to make anyone look wider than they are. Guys might appreciate that if they’re trying to look a little bulkier, but most of us ladies don’t want to look wider, so bend a knee or an elbow, and angle your body slightly toward the camera. Tilt your head a little if you want. You don’t want to look like you are created entirely of zig-zags, but a little experimentation with different angles can create a more interesting and flattering photo.

2. Shoulders back, chest out. Slouching and hunching over does not look pretty when photographed. Slouching and hunched shoulders make you look tired–not generally a look we want to remember. Also, your chest is not the same thing as your belly. I know a lot of store mannequins appear to be posing with their bellies stuck out. It’s not a good look for those of us who actually have heads. Chest out, NOT belly out.

3. Smile! Trust me, if your facial expression says clearly: “I do NOT want to be photographed!” your picture will not turn out pretty. Have you ever seen an attractive grimace? I’m a big advocate for good old-fashioned smiling. Smiles will never be mocked the way the “duck face” is. Some people can probably pull off the emo look or some version of sultry model-esque pouting and look good…but the vast majority of us will look ridiculous. My perspective is, if you look like you’re happy to be there, you probably look pretty good.

4. Wear clothes you like. If you happen to be photographed wearing an outfit that you think is really ugly, you’re going to hate the photo. But the blame really falls on you. Why were you wearing clothes that you hate? If you simply wear clothes that you actually like to wear, you’re not going to be flustered when the cameras come out and you won’t be hiding behind people saying, “Sorry, my sweater is so ugly, cover me up!”

5. Notice which way the wind is blowing. Windswept hair looks great if its blowing back away from your face–windswept hair that is blowing towards or in front of your face…not such a good look.

6. Eyes are a problem point for a lot of people in photos. I’ve found that, even though I don’t wear makeup on a daily basis, if I know I’m going to get photographed, I’ll wear a little eyeliner to help my eyes not disappear. I’m one who naturally squints when I smile, so I make a point of purposely trying to open my eyes a little wider than usual when smiling for the camera, and I end up with a normal-eyed photo instead of a “Are her eyes closed or open?” one. Glasses are notorious for lens glare in photos, so I rarely wear mine (both in every day life and specifically during photo-ops).

That’s it. I don’t believe that Photoshop is the answer to being happy with photos of yourself, but applying few practical techniques in real life can help all of us not be appalled when the camera comes out. Maybe a few of these tips will help you not run away next time someone like my husband starts sticking a camera in your face!

What’s your best strategy when confronted with a camera?

44 Easy and Healthy Tricks To Lose That Weight By Summer

Weight loss can be stressful, time consuming, and can honestly seem impossible.

But don’t worry! These proven steps will legitimately help you slim down as a lifestyle and not just as a quick fix. This way, you can keep the weight off forever!
1. No more eating after 7 pm, especially not after dinner.

2. Cut out sodas and sugary drinks completely

3. Drink a bottle of water when you first wake up in the morning

4. Don’t drink coffee after the morning

5. Eat your heaviest meal for breakfast and lightest meal for dinner

6. When eating on the go, order the kids menu

7. When at a restaurant, tell them not to bring out bread

8. Try a small protein shake with a workout in the morning

9. After breakfast, ONLY drink water

10. Try eating in front of a mirror

11. Try eating on a blue plate (the color blue suppresses appetite)

12. Put your fork or spoon down between every bite

13. Eat most of your meals at home

14. Eat three fewer bites of your meal

15. Stash fruit in places where you would normally keep your junk food

16. Buy a new pair of pants or a dress that is your healthiest size and leave it out for you to see

17. Don’t eat carbs after lunch

18. Go one day a week and don’t eat any fat
19. With exercise, start with 5-10 minute workouts and work your way up

20. Buy some low calorie tasty snacks and keep them in your purse or car

21. Create a handwritten chart to track your weight lost

22. Put a sticky note in your wallet or on your credit card that has your goal weight written on it, so when you get ready to swipe your card for that latte, you think about the calories!

23. If you’re craving ice cream, try healthy frozen yogurt instead
24. If you’re going to eat bread or cereal, eat whole grain and eat it as early in the day as possible

25. Make eating healthy fun by trying new things such as, making your own granola

26. If you love french fries, try baking them and sprinkling them with garlic instead of frying and using salt

27. When you’re craving a hamburger, pass on the bun

28. Plan which day of the week you’re going to treat yourself to a guilty pleasure meal

29. When you’re craving something sweet, offer to split it with someone instead of eating the whole thing

30. Replace your coffee consumption with tea

31. Replace your milk with almond milk, or low fat milk

32.Create alarms on your phone to remind you of meal times, so you don’t end up binge eating at the end of the day

33. If you need something to munch on, try nuts or granola instead of chips and cookies

34. Eat an appetizer as your main meal instead of an entree

35. When you’re at your favorite burrito place, try to go without the rice and the tortilla, and maybe even the cheese!

36. Boost your metabolism with green tea

37. Take the stairs instead of the elevator as much as possible

38. Buy a quality personal indoor grill (like a George Foreman grill) that you’re excited about using

39. Bite the bullet and throw away unhealthy food in your house. Even if you haven’t finished it yet

40. Remove the skin and fat from meat before eating

41. Order a pizza with veggies instead of high processed meats

42. Cook with olive oil instead of vegetable oil

43. Avoid eating meals where you can become easily distracted, like eating while watching TV

44. Try eating 5-6 small meals a day instead of 2-3 big meals

REVIEW: Kera Vada Herbal Oil Hair Treatment

“Death to the Polar Vortex!”

You know, that thing that has been causing my eyelashes to freeze and break off on the way to my car in the morning.

This is what my hair has been screaming lately.

Being a Southern girl with curls for days, this cold air has done a number on my hair. I have learned retaining moisture is critical in keeping my hair soft and healthy, so I love it when I come across a good oil. Sealing wet or damp hair with a nice oil helps fight split ends, “fairy knots”, and basic breakage. Plus, it makes my hair look all extra shiny and fabulous and what not! A few weeks ago, I was contacted by Kera Vada, a natural hair product company, and asked to review their Herbal Oil Treatment.

Click the video below to check out my review of the Kera Vada Herbal Oil Treatment!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B_d_o7hCDBs]

For more natural hair tips from Ashley, click here.

3 Ways to Deal with Disappointment

Ugh.

It’s Wednesday and I’m working today. Usually that would be normal, but today, it’s very un-normal and very disappointing.

You see, I had taken today off from work to go on a field trip with the little Mr. and due to the rain, it was “postponed”.

Even though it was just a field trip, I was looking forward to today. This morning I was singing! I woke him up for school in an unusually annoying way, making it apparent that I was WAY more excited for this day than he was.

Now in the car, after getting word of the cancellation, I tried to talk my son into a peaceful mood before dropping him off for a regular, educational, non-trip-filled school day. I started to think about this thing called disappointment and why we encounter it, and how we can deal with it when it inevitably comes knocking.

Why do we get disappointed? One way to answer the question is to say that we experience disappointment because other people and things let us down, but I think there’s more to it.

Disappointment is something we are all going to face at some point in our lives. But how can we deal with the pain and frustration it causes?

Maybe we could…

1. Accept the world we live in. Our world is a once perfect place gone wrong and is filled with trials, tribulations, and thorns. Our expectation of life can’t always be that we will have smooth sailing. People are flawed and plans often go awry. It’s not promised to us anywhere that everything will go our way and ultimately there is much good that can come from difficulties. We learn how to persevere and endure through tough times and we also learn what things truly matter.

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”

Romans 5:3-5

2. Be careful what you put your hope in. One of the main reasons we struggle as humans is because we look to other people, hobbies, jobs, and passions to fulfill us. We are forever on “the pursuit of happiness” and yet when we get to the supposed “peak” of the mountain, we find we are still left wanting. People, are flawed. Careers can end. Health can fail. The only person who will never fail us is the one who invites us to put our hope in an unmovable, unshakable place, and gives us a firm foundation for life.

“I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken.”…Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken. My victory and honor come from God alone. He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me. O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge.”

Psalm 62:1-2, 5-8

“The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever.”

Isaiah 40:8

3. Let it go! Don’t be fooled. You can’t ultimately control your life or the things that happen to you. All you can do is your best. If things don’t work out as you hoped, release the frustration, knowing that stewing over something you can’t exactly change will only cause excess stress. There is always tomorrow and sometimes losing one thing opens your eyes to see something you wouldn’t have otherwise noticed.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”

Proverbs 3:5-6

Hang in there. Life is an up-and-down kinda ride. Roller coasters would be no fun if they just went up up up. As a matter of fact they would kill you. It’s science.

 

"D Sharon Pruitt" credited as the original owner of the photo listed above

Spring Break Survival Guide for the Non-Party Girl

It’s that time of year again: Spring Break.

(photo credit: getty images and photographer gruizza)

Every year, thousands of students across the country make elaborate plans to go wild and crazy and do things that they know they’ll probably regret later. There are entire songs and movies written around it, and there are entire parts of the world that consider thespring break kids as their number one money maker, due to the way they pack out clubs and buy excessive amounts of alcohol.

But what happens to your spring break if you aren’t a wild and crazy partier?

Maybe for you, the ideal spring break doesn’t involve the crazy things depicted in entertainment and social media as “fun.”

If partying isn’t your cup of tea, we’re going to help you survive AND enjoy your spring break. Even if you’re not a student anymore, here are some fun ways to have fun this spring without the craziness!

 6. Don’t stress yourself out about it

This is especially important if you consider yourself to be a planner. Maybe you’re one to always want to know what’s the plan, and how are you going to make it happen. Resist the itch to plan an elaborate spring break just because it seems like it’s the right thing to do. It’s okay to hang back and a catch up on some rest…or even catch up on some Netflix!

5. Back off of social media

One of the best things about social media is that we get to see and share parts of life that we wouldn’t otherwise know about. However, this can be one of the worst things, too! If you already know who’s going to be posting their Cancun or Panama City Beach pictures of them at clubs, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, and doing things they will regret later, now may be the perfect time to unfollow those people. The more you see it, the more you may began to feel like you’re left out.

Remember that so many people are only going to be posting the pictures that make them look the coolest or the most interesting if they are truly honest with themselves. You can’t compare your whole life to one small photograph on a computer screen.

4. Spend some time working on yourself

Maybe this is a good time to do some spring cleaning, or actually using that gym membership you bought. Perhaps you could get caught up on some reading or try some new, healthy recipes. This way, when people as you, “how was your spring break,” you can give positive productive answers like, “oh, I lost two pounds” or “I did some spring cleaning and got completely organized.” Maybe your productivity will inspire those you talk to!

3. Get Creative

When people hear the word “spring break” they may be thinking one thing, but you can start to change that. Maybe instead of going to the beach you could go to the mountains instead. Perhaps you could go to a concert or a really nice dinner instead of going to the club. This is a great time in your life to start traditions

2. Make the most of what you have

Even if you have to work all during spring break, or you don’t even have spring break anymore, you can still make the most out of the experience. If you have to work, think about the fact that you’re actually earning money while others are going out and spending theirs. If you don’t have school anymore, think about how you get to enjoy a day off at least once a week without having to worry about exams and essays that are due. There’s a bright side to everything. Enjoy it! Even if you don’t have a whole week to spare, find one night of the week this spring just to go have fun. Go catch a movie at a nicer theater than the one you normally go to. If your regular is just a manicure, get the pedicure, too! Go to a spa, watch the sunset…there’s so much that you can do just enjoy life without partying on spring break.

1. Gather up the good girls in your life

“Good girls” often get a bad rep for being boring, but that’s not true! There’s so much to do that doesn’t involve being irresponsible. You don’t have to look back over the years to think back to your nights in the club to reminisce on the past. Instead of the beach, maybe you could go to the mountains. Instead of the club, maybe you could go to a concert or a really nice restaurant for dinner one night. Treat yourself to a mini shopping spree. Go sightseeing. At some point, even the “good girls” need a break. So grab the girls in your small group or your friends from work that you know would keep you accountable and go do something fun, and keep your head up while you’re doing it, knowing that this is what YOU are supposed to be doing!

A Gluten-Free Marriage

How to Survive cooking for a non-gluten-free hubby, while staying sane when you are eating gluten-free. 

I love watching my husband eat. Yes, I know that sounds weird, but it’s true.  I have always enjoyed watching him eat. No, I don’t have some crazy obsession with people eating, or anything like that, I just enjoy watching him eat, period.  When we got married (just about 6 months ago) I knew that the majority of the food would be cooked/baked by myself, and I was 100% fine with that. As a matter of fact, Iwas excitedfor it – because I would finally get the chance to try different foods, and to grow my food menu.  I never thought that I would soon start to resent my husband and start to crave non-gluten-free foods.large-1

Let me back up a little bit. I was diagnosed with Celiac disease when I was 12 years old, which reflecting back was an awesome thing. I am so happy that The Lord blessed me with Celiac disease at such a young age, because it made growing up easier and eating gluten-free just second nature from the start. I always have such sympathy for adults or middle aged folks who all of a sudden have to go gluten-free, I can’t even imagine how difficult that must be.  Anyways, I had gone through High School and College gluten-free and very few times did I ever crave for gluten filled food. Sure, there was the occasional ice cream cone cravings, or my ultimate favorite craving, the soft pretzel (gosh, my mouth is watering) – but they were few and far between.  As soon I married my husband – BAM – all of a sudden I am craving croutons, goldfish, soft pretzels (always), Mac ‘n Cheese, chicken nuggets and even beer.   It made no sense to me that I didn’t crave hardly any gluten for 10 years then all of a sudden I want these harmful foods all the time.  Then I realized; it is because I am making them.

I handle the majority of the food shopping and cooking in our family, so therefore I see the products the most.  Before when I lived away at college and at home with my parents, I wasn’t the primary cooker or shopper, so I wasn’t as affected by the products.  It has and will continue to be a struggle for me to stay gluten-free while providing my husband with his favorite gluten items.  So, here are three ways that I have come up with to stay sane, while keeping my husband filled and satisfied.

Outta Sight, Outta Mind

Put the gluten items, or the items that are only for your husband on a higher or different shelf. That way you can’t reach them and can’t see them. Opening the cabinets and seeing those beautiful tempting goldfish can drive a person nuts – so don’t do that to yourself.

Dinner is Always Gluten-free

Almost every night we have dinner together, so I will usually make that entire meal gluten-free so it is easy for me to cook.  Sometimes I will add an element or item to my husband’s meal that isn’t gluten-free like a roll, or leftover pasta salad, but for the most part, I try to make it gluten-free for both of us to enjoy.  If you get caught up in making two entirely different meals each night you are going to start resenting the other person, that could lead to arguments, and you of course don’t want that happening. 

Will Power!

If you are gluten-free then you know that you can’t have gluten. You can’t have it, ever. So you have to constantly remind yourself that when you are tempted with those pesky gluten foods that your spouse is constantly enjoying.  It can be very difficult sometimes, especially if you are making them gluten filled food and you can’t have any, but that’s what love is all about, doing things for those you love.  I love my husband, and I love serving my husband by making him food that will fuel him so I will continue to make him his favorite pizza crescent rolls (even though I will never be able to indulge in them).

Find the strength the God gave you to be strong and continue making food for your spouse out of love.  God created marriage because he wanted man and wife to serve and love one another.  If you ever start feeling bitter or sour towards your spouse because you are making them something that you can’t eat, remind yourself that you are doing it out of love, (and maybe ask the hubby to do the cooking every now and then).

10 things to remind yourself everyday as a single, Christian woman.

10 things to remind yourself everyday as a single, Christian woman.

1. You’re not the only one

It can be so easy to talk yourself into thinking that you’re the only one who is going through similar things. Just because a lot of the people you know that are your age seem to be in happy relationships, that doesn’t mean EVERYONE is. And even if everyone you know IS in a happy relationship and you’re not, that doesn’t mean there aren’t others out there who are single. Don’t trick yourself into thinking you’re alone. It’s simply not the truth!

2. God DOES know your future

There is a scripture in the book of Jeremiah that reminds of this:  “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11.

Just because you can’t see what’s ahead doesn’t mean nothing is ahead. God has something great planned ahead for you. He knows how it will all pan out. Keep trusting Him. You’ll see.

3. He knows the desires of your heart

Psalm 37 reminds us:

“Do not fret because of those who are evil
or be envious of those who do wrong;
2 for like the grass they will soon wither,
like green plants they will soon die away.
Trust in the Lord and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

Are you really trusting the Lord to give you the desires of your heart?

It’s so easy to start trusting in yourself to get what you want. After all, if we want something to eat from a particular restaurant, we can go get it. If we want to spend time with a friend or a family member, we can make that happen. Our lives are filled with us giving ourselves what we want. Because of this, it can become difficult to fully trust in God when it comes to the desires of our heart. Be reminded that God knows fully well what your desires are. Continue to trust in the Lord and do good, and He will give you the desires of your heart.

4. Not every good, Christian guy is taken

It doesn’t matter if every single good, Christian guy you know is “taken,” it doesn’t mean that they are ALL taken. Has it ever occurred to you that God is working on the hearts of men and women all around the world everyday. As this very moment, God could be preparing the heart of a good, godly man in a completely different part of the country. Furthermore, God could be preparing the heart of a good, godly man right in your very city, or at your job, that you’ve never even thought of that way before. I know it can be overwhelming to think about that, but the good thing is, you don’t have to. Continue to be faithful to the Lord in the life God has given you and you never know who God will reveal to you in the future.

5. No, you’re not ugly

If you’re a single Christian woman who is desiring to be married, you may began to question yourself in certain areas of your life. And even though “ugly” is a strong word, let’s face it–there are some days where a lot of us just feel downright unattractive. But no. You are not ugly.

We have the tendency to be our harshest critics. You can spend the whole day worried about a zit on your face that nobody even noticed. Sometimes we look in the mirror and force ourselves to see a much more scrutinized version of ourselves that simply don’t exist to other people looking at us. I’m not at all saying that you’re perfect, or that you’ll ever be perfect, but if not feeling confident in your own skin is something that you’ve ever struggled with, remember these things:

1. Stop being so hard on yourself.

2. Stop comparing yourself to other women.

These things are easier said than done, but they are so important for all of us to remember because we live in a world that constantly tells us to do otherwise. Every where you turn, you’re being encouraged to join a gym or take a diet pill or buy this cream to “perfect your wrinkles.” Yes, it’s important to be healthy and take care of the bodies God has given us, but as women, especially Christian women, we have to stop putting so much focus on our flaws. So remember that. You’re not ugly!

6. Yes, you are beautiful

Yes you are! Whether you feel like you’re looking awesome, or it’s just “that time of the month” and you’re not feeling so great, your beauty is not determined by your looks. At ALL. There’s nothing wrong with feeling like you look nice, but don’t put so much focus on that. It’s such a small thing and it’s so fleeting. That’s one of the reasons many people get in and out of relationships so often! They enter relationships based on physicality and after the hype wears off, they realize they don’t want to be with that person as near as much as they thought they did.

Put your focus on your heart. Make your heart beautiful. Spend more time in the word of God. Spend more time worshipping. Spend more time constantly thanking God for the good things in your life. When you do these things, you will radiate from the inside out and people will be able to see that. You’ll start to seem more joyful, more pleasant to be around…this is what makes you stand out in the crowd in the best way possible, and radiating with the love of Jesus lasts much longer than a girl with the most impeccable looks, body, or fashion sense.

7. It’s not too late

Whether you’re 25, 35, 45, 55, 65…it’s not too late for you. With each passing day, you are not losing value. You are gaining value. You’re gaining wisdom. You’re gaining the ability to endure. So don’t count these days you spend as a single woman as something less-than. It’s not too late for you.

8. Keep being friendly, happy, and never bitter

If you’re in a period of waiting, it’s so easy to get discouraged. If you feel like you’ve gotten to the point of being flat out tired of waiting and just got wear, that’s okay. You’re human.

But just remember that weariness not only wears you down, but it shows in your face. It shows in the way you treat your friends and the way you interact with strangers. It shows in the kind of statuses and pictures you post on social media. Psalms 55:22 reminds us to cast our cares on the Lord. When we do this, we become free. We have the ability to take more steady breaths, to smile more, and to simply be more pleasant to be around.

So whatever it is that’s bogging you down and keeping you from being the most joyful that you can be, give it to the Lord. He will give you the strength to have a better attitude about being single.

9. Waiting is worth it

Keep your heart pure. Keep your mind pure. Keep your body pure.

Any action you take otherwise will only be baggage you have to take into your marriage.

I know the word “waiting” may seem like it gets used a lot in this context, but just remember that waiting on your future husband doesn’t mean sitting around not doing anything.

While society tells us to view singleness as an opportunity to explore sexually, you can take this opportunity to explore the world. Book a road trip with your girlfriends. Save a part of your paycheck to treat yourself to a nice dinner. Find a young girl to mentor and take her shopping. Start a business!

Just because you’re waiting on your husband it doesn’t mean that you’re wasting your life away.

Waiting is worth it. Remember that.

10. And your future husband will be glad you waited

Ultimately, our goal as believers is to please God, but your husband will be glad you waited, you too. Work as hard as you can to eliminate the baggage right now in your life. Spend your time embracing your singleness instead of trying to find other people to feel that void. You’ll be glad you did!

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How do you handle being a wife when your husband disappoints you?

Written by Rachel

How do you handle being a wife when your husband disappoints you? How do you tackle being submissive and supportive when the man you’re married to is acting in such a way that you don’t even want to be associated with him?

Those are moments when wisdom and grace are desperately needed.

Two times I’ve seen my husband really lose his temper in public. Both have been over dealing with people who were supposed to be fixing the car.

The first time he was arguing with the mechanic, I hid in the far corner of the waiting room and pretended to read magazines and pretended I wasn’t associated with anyone involved in the shouting match going on in the middle of the room. When he called me to go, first I headed toward the door with him, then I turned around and ran back up to the counter to tell the man he’d been arguing with, “I’m so sorry about all that. Thank you for your help.” I felt ashamed. From my understanding of the argument, I knew that the mechanic was actually right, that my husband was the one in the wrong, and I felt awful that there was nothing I could do in the moment to really set things right.

The second time, I could tell he was getting angry before he really started showing it. I could tell that he didn’t like the way the manager of the mechanic’s shop was speaking to him, so I walked up behind him and just put my arms around him–in effect, gently pinning his arms to his sides. His hands were already doubled up into fists. It must have been a funny sight–a little woman apparently engaging in inappropriate PDA by embracing her husband during a tense discussion between husband and the guy in charge of changing our tires. In those few moments, I held him and I prayed for him and I didn’t let go until I was sure he wasn’t going slam his fist on the counter anymore.

An angry man can be a scary thing. Conquering one’s temper is hard, and for many people, temper will flare out occasionally. It’s hard to know how to respond when a husband’s anger is directed at you or at other people who don’t deserve such an outlast either.

I don’t want my husband to get angry with mechanics who aren’t meeting his standards of high-quality work and customer service. It makes me sad when I see him fail like this–I want him to be a Godly man who shows the light of Christ to the world in any and every circumstance–not that jerk customer who the mechanic comes home and complains to his wife about. I don’t control my husband’s actions: he does. But what can I do to be the best wife I can be during the times when I really don’t like the way he’s acting?

1. Pray. For wisdom for yourself, for grace for him, for grace for whatever other people are involved at the moment.

2. Know your husband. We’d been married long enough that I knew, by the time of that 2nd episode, that if I held him, my touch would help calm my husband down, would help him remember that being spoken to disrespectfully is not worth getting angry about–at least it’s not worth showing your anger and being harsh to the mechanic about. I knew that was a way I could communicate with him without interrupting and getting myself into the middle of the discussion. Use your knowledge of your husband’s personality to guide your actions.

3. Know your timing. During that first episode, it would have been a very bad idea for me to try to put my two cents in during that fierce conversation, or immediately afterwards in the car on the drive home. My husband was so angry that he would have taken a, “Honey, don’t you think you overreacted?” as yet another insult and I would have turned his fight with the mechanic into a fight between us. Sometimes it’s much better to wait till the next day, or the next week, till they are cooled down. And sometimes, you don’t need to mention anything, ever. God knows how to deal with His own disobedient children, and that’s not always through you.

It’s hard to know what you do when your Prince Charming doesn’t act so charming. It’s hard to find that balance of saying, “I love you and I respect you….but I have no love or respect for the way you are acting.” This isn’t the easiest part of marriage. It’s a difficult part. Because, in reality, there are no perfect men, and even the best are only Prince Mostly-Charming.

……………………………………………………………………………………….

Also note that here I’m talking about a Christ-following man, a good man who sometimes falls and fails. I’m not talking about men who live by a continual theme of anger or other sin in their lives. If that is the case, and if their anger is regularly directed at you, if you feel unsafe for any reason, do not hesitate to bring in help: your pastor, a counselor, the law.

Photo Credit: panayotis

5 Ways to Be Married by 30 As a Christian Woman

If you want to be married by 30, there’s nothing wrong with that.

Here is a list of things that may help you prepare yourself for being in that place in your life by 30.

DISCLAIMER:
There is NO way for any person or any article on the internet to tell you exactly when you’re going to get married or how it will all pan out, but as a woman who got married at 20 and has been happily married for great 3 years, here are a few biblically based principles that helped guide ME and MY now-husband, and I would LOVE to share them with you if you are interested!

1. Do not awaken love before it’s timing

“Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you
by the gazelles and by the does of the field:
Do not arouse or awaken love
until it so desires.”
SONGS OF SONGS 2:7 (NIV)

Don’t desire to get married just to *get married.*
There’s nothing wrong with desiring a great love story, or a beautiful wedding, but ultimately, marriage is more than just *the spark* or meeting a really good man that has the qualities you’re looking for.

Understand that just like anything else in life that is of great value and importance to you, marriage takes time, and if you’re patient, there will still be days when waiting is difficult to endure, but, ultimately it is rewarding.

Also, remember that when you meet a man who you think you might really like, don’t busy yourself trying to become his girlfriend and trap him into a fast-track-to-marriage plan. Be patient. God is working in his life, too, and if it is meant to happen, it will happen in God’s timing.

2. Show yourself to be friendly

“One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin,
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
PROVERBS 18:24 (NIV)

Be nice! It’s so easier to get bitter while being single about how all the good men are already married, or none of the men you’re around are your “type.”

This might SEEM true, but try not to take that mindset with you when you start a new day. You NEVER know who you’re going to meet that day. You NEVER know what suitable young man is admiring you from afar. You NEVER know who God is going to put in your path!

When you take your friendliness up a few notches, you’ll be surprised at how simply being kind and pleasant toward everyone will not only with help your chances of catching the eye of potential future husband, but with your friendships, family and business relationships, too!

3. Humble yourself

“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up”
JAMES 4:10 (NIV)

Now this can be a hard one. But it’s super important:

Be humble when it comes to your accomplishments and life goals. God will honor that. Even when it comes to your future marriage.

Everybody has some kind of ideal in mind or standard when they start thinking about the kind of person they want to marry.
Now you don’t need to go on lowering your standards, but you may need to reevaluate them. If you have a list of 30 things a man HAS to be before you would even consider THINKING about him in terms of marriage, you may need to reevaluate.

You have to ask yourself, “are my standards high in the RIGHT areas?”

And if they are not, your standards could actually be hurting you.

For instance: Does your list of standards include things like this:

:: He has to make a certain amount of money
:: He has to have a certain kind of job
:: He has to come from a certain kind of family
:: He has to have the same exact interests as you

If these kinds of things are of the upmost importance to you, you will have to realize that a potential suitable husband may be deterred simply because he doesn’t qualify, often times, in areas that he can’t even control.

Don’t lower your standards. You just might need to reevaluate them.

When I met my husband, I made more money than him, and in our three years of marriage, that has changed, back and forth. I could have very easily said that I would not consider married a man who made less money than me. But that’s where humility had to come in. I had to realize that my worth was not in my bank account, or status as an educated young woman, but as the daughter of the King. Money comes and goes, but God’s love for me is why I am the woman I am.

However, I have interacted with many Christian women who say that they desire to be married, but would absolutely not marry a man (even if he was a good Christian man) if he made less money than her. But that’s where humility has to come in, and let’s face it. That can be really, really hard. Especially if you’ve worked really hard in a certain area of your life and you feel like you deserve a certain standard.

But as Christian women, we have to remember that Jesus is the standard. Money and status aren’t wrong, but don’t hold it against the man who works hard, and loves the Lord.

Be humble when it comes to your accomplishments and life goals. God will honor that. Even when it comes to your future marriage.

4. Don’t let people look down on your youth

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”
1 TIMOTHY 4:12 (NIV)

This verse says it all. And really, all of 1 Timothy 4 says it all. We live in a world where people are broken. People are discouraged and they have lost hope. Whether it be a lost hope in humanity or they’ve lost hope in their lives. Either way, try to set an example of putting your hope in God (v. 10). Even when people give you a hard time or discourage you that you can’t get married young.
It’s always great to have God-fearing people in your life that you can go to for wisdom, but ultimately, God is the one in control, and he is the one that you must put your hope in — even when it comes to when, how, and whom you will marry.

5. A wife of noble character is hard to find

“A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.”
PROVERBS 31:10 (NIV)

When you think of a wife of noble character, who comes to mind? Whoever that is, Imitate her. Talk to her. Ask her questions. Be led by her example.
And if you don’t know a wife of noble character, or what that even means, Proverbs 31 is an excellent, excellent start.

With all of the reality TV stars and none stop headlines of what seems to be a constantly lowering standard of morality, it’s easy to start developing a mindset, that no man wants a “good girl,” but that isn’t true!

Sure, if certain men know that you have decided to not have sex without of marriage, you will turn some away. But the one that really, truly deserves such an intimate part of you will stick around.

Being involved in your church, your community, and putting others before yourself are also attractive qualities that are hard to find. And believe me, when you put God first, and allow him to move in your life, you will be surprised at how differently see the world, and how differently the world — and maybe even your future husband — sees you!

Did you get married before 30? What do you think about young Christian women desiring to be married?

5 Things To Do When You Don’t Get Invited To Parties [Funny]

It’s the holidays, and if you spend 10 minutes on Facebook on the weekends, you’ll start to feel like all of the cool people you know are out having fun at cute little holiday parties that you were obviously not invited to.

So other than spending time alone feeling really sad, what do you do?

We have some suggestions!

(click through photo for credit // creative commons)

 

1. Consider it a time to relax.

Order yourself a pizza, find a movie on Netflix, and kick back in your favorite pajamas…yes, the one-piece footie pajamas. Consider it a little *me* time. We all need it every once in a while!

Scjonvu

2. Throw your own party

The Christmas party you saw on Instagram was started because someone decided to throw a Christmas party. Throw your own party! And it doesn’t have to be cost you a ton of money…bake your own desserts, get some Christmas music playing, and a few, fun icebreaker games and you’re good to go!

Scrubs-balloons

3. Do something active

Take your dog for a walk, or go use that gym membership you forgot about. There are lots of ways to “get out” the house that don’t have to involve holiday parties!

Corgi-stampede

4. Finish that project

Remember that scarf you started crocheting? Or the closet you started organizing? Find something fun and productive to do!

Sleeping-beauty

5. Try something new

There’s more to life than “going out!” Take up a new skill!

Lucy-ballet

 

The Road

road-in-mountains

My father and I share a multitude of similarities in our personalities, but one that is the most apparent is our love for adventure. With anything new, exciting or thrilling, my dad and I are always the first ones in line ready to experience the action. This tendency rang especially true when my dad brought home a new motorcycle. Of course, as soon as I saw it I wanted to take that baby out and pop wheelies down the freeway. However, due to my lack of training on a street bike, I found myself on the back of my dad’s new toy with him in the hot seat.  After a few engine revs, we were cruising through our neighborhood and I thought to myself, “Wow this is great, but it would be WAY more awesome if dad would let me drive.” Not surprisingly, I was itching for control within the first five minutes of relinquishing it. I did not know where we were headed, what we would see along the way nor when we would return home. Before I knew it, I had missed a whole section of my favorite tree lined street because I was so preoccupied with my anxious feelings. It was as if I thought my dad would be okay with pulling a Fast and Furious move and switch to the passenger’s seat while we were on a moving motorcycle. (Like that would ever happen.) Thankfully I was able to check myself and realize that in order to fully enjoy the journey ahead, I was going to need to simply hang on and trust my dad. He weaved us through the Malibu Canyons and pointed out things that I had never noticed before. I cannot even count how many times I have driven this canyon on the way to the beach, so to have things shown to me that I have never seen before was exciting but also slightly disheartening. The question, “How many other things have I been missing in life?” twirled through my mind. As we were nearing the highest lookout, another man on a motorcycle nearly clipped ours. He clearly did not know the surprising turns that this road possessed, but my driver did. My dad was in control. The man who has protected, loved and cherished me for all 20 years of my life. That’s when I realized that this was the most gorgeous metaphor the Lord has ever displayed to me. It’s simple: God wants to be in control of my life. He knows the road better than I do and can show me things that I wouldn’t have noticed if I was in driver’s seat; He knows when to speed up and slow down. My flesh’s desire is to control but my soul’s desire is to submit to the perfect power that is Jesus Christ. Think of how fun our lives would be if we let God map out our adventures. The Lord wants to show us roads we have never seen, places we have never been and joy like we have never experienced.

We just have to give him the keys.

5 Reasons I Am Crippled By Indecisiveness

woman-making-a-choice

What should I eat? When should we move? Where do I need to work?

5 Reasons I Am Crippled By Indecisiveness:

1. Fear of making the wrong choice.

There are many quotes that in essence say,”You are tomorrow what you choose today,” and so many other inspirational words that are meant to move us into positive action. And sure, if I workout today, tell the truth today, or smile at someone today, that would  positively effect my tomorrow.

Unfortunately, here’s my thought pattern:

If I make the wrong choice, when will I get another chance to make the right decision? If I make the wrong decision today and regret that decision tomorrow, I’ve lost time and because time is precious and of the essence and the only commodity we can never get back, I can’t afford to make the wrong decision because before you know it I’ll no longer be 18, 21, 24, 25, single, in college, and anything else I can think of and the time I lose in living out my wrong decision is the time I lose to live out my right decision and before you know it my life will be over and I’ll never feel like it started. Where did I go wrong?!?!?

Welcome to the Pity Party and I have two words of encouragement: Forward Motion. Just make a decision.

2. Fear of disappointing others.

This is (or at least used to be) the absolutely biggest one for me and it should’ve been first, but I thought of it secondly, which I am going to attribute to personal growth. Accepting advice from the people around us is a characteristic of wise and successful people.

Proverbs 19:20 says, “Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.”

But if we are not careful, we can grow dependent on the advice of everyone around us, leaving us feeling like nothing more than mere extensions of them and not our own person. When I dissected this fear, I realized that being an extension of someone else is “safe” because 1.) It’s much easier to accept their advice as law than using my own brain to make a decision and 2.) If their advice is wrong, then, they are the failure and I am a victim and therefore not responsible. But this is a false safety.

Here’s the truth: It’s your life. You have to take responsibility for it because you are the only one who has to live with the choices, whether they were your ideas or not.

3. Fear of having to make more decisions. 

This one is the worst. You finally make a decision and then you let out a “WHEW!” in relief only to be bombarded  with a million other questions and an emphatic “I DON’T KNOW” just won’t do.

Coming off of my wedding planning season, this is a scenario that is fresh in my brain. After about 9 weeks of being engaged I thought if I just said “yes” to everything then I wouldn’t be a Bridezilla and surely everything would turn out alright. By week 28 (I’m a stubborn learner) I realized that my “Yes” approach was my worst idea yet and I was left with a mess. Because even though I was just saying “yes, sure, why not, sounds great…” I wasn’t truly getting the result that I wanted, just a temporary fix to decisiveness problem and I was still answering questions.  2 days before the wedding when everything fell apart, I had to make some pretty big decisions. And I didn’t want to because I was so defeated. Fortunately, I was surrounded with love and support that helped pick me up and put this wedding together in less than 48 hours, and it was amazing.

Now, I say all of this for one reason: You can be active in your decision making or passive. Either way you’ll have to keep making decisions, but you’ll like the results if you’ve been actively deciding your future and not letting it happen to you.

4. Fear of failure.

As a self proclaimed perfectionist, failing is the hardest option of them all. This fear is based primarily in PRIDE. And no matter how many articles and quotes I read that tell me that, “Failure is good for success,” or that Thomas Edison failed at making the light build 10,000 times before he got it right, my pride tells me that if I fail then I must’ve made the wrong decision and I need to go back to what I know.

I’ve been married for 5 weeks: Cooking is something I’ve never been especially good at. Being married hasn’t made me an instant expert; we’ve got at least 6 meals to prove it. But because of those failures I’ve mastered a few things too… Because quitting to cook is not an option it’s an adventure every time I enter the kitchen. And the best part, I don’t have to fail on my own and our fails often create some fun memories.

If you throw enough spaghetti against the wall, something will stick. If you have 5 options and you fail 4 times, you are on the brink of success. Keep going!

5. Fear of success. 

And now the most coveted award of all decisions: Success. Or is it all that it is cracked up to be? If you’ve worked hard and you love what you do then OF COURSE IT IS! But here’s my fear – What if I’m awesome? Then, they’ll expect things and want more. I’ll expect more. And what if I can’t top this. What if these are my 15 secs?

A one hit wonder is not someone who only had one hit, made more albums, but could never seem to top the charts again. The true one hit wonder is the artist that topped the charts and then quit for fear of never being able to do it again.

The truth is, with success comes responsibility. And with responsibility, more decisions. You can handle it.

Remember, indecision is a decision that makes you unstable (James 1:8, CSB).  The truth is that most decisions are not so life altering that you would need a time machine to undo the damage. Stand up strong, start walking, and keep it moving.

– CE

Get more post like this at CarolErica.com 

Are you indecisive? Share your fear below.

10 Ways to Make Money While You’re Unemployed in your 20′s

 

The unfortunate thing about not having a job is that you probably don’t have a lot of financial resources to make things happen for yourself the way you want to.

However, the positive side of being unemployed is that while you don’t have much money, you have more time than people who are currently employed. This means that while you’re job searching, you can spend just a few hours a day building up your resume by doing fun, exciting things that can generate a little cash flow, and maybe even spark some new interests!

Even if you don’t end up taking on any of these things as a career path, future employers will be impressed when they look at your resume to find that while you were unemployed, you took the initiative to fight unemployment and create opportunities for yourself!

Of course there are endless amounts of opportunities out there, but we want to help you navigate through a few of those by creating a list of 10 ways to make money while you’re unemployed in your 20′s.
1. Offer tutoring or lessons

If your highest level of education is high school or college, you know something that an 8th grader doesn’t know. Whether it’s pre-algebra, literature, SAT prep, or even the sport you played for four years, there’s something you can help teach or coach an elementary, middle, or high school student that will help them make it to the next level.

Action: Print flyers that include your credentials (college grad, honor roll, dean’s list) and contact information. Take these flyers to local libraries or community centers and also, don’t be afraid to offer your services to family and friends. You never know whose child might need a little extra boost in their academics or other school related activities.
2. Start a blog

Making money on a blog can come faster than you think. Yes, it takes time to build a readership, but it might not be as far away as it seems. You may say “I don’t have anything to blog about” however, if you have something to talk about, you have something to blog about. We’re not saying that everyone has to be a professional blogger, but here are a few different approaches you can take to get started.

⁃    I’m a college student blogging about the music scene in my college town
⁃    I’m a college grad blogging about my journey as I navigate through the job searching world
⁃    I’m a working class twenty-something blogging about finding a dream job
⁃    I’m a young mom blogging about healthy, affordable meals for kids and the art of coupon-ing
⁃    I’m a young man blogging about his various adventures after college working odd jobs

Action: Set up a free blog on a site like Blogger or WordPress and be sure to set up and offer ad space to potential clients through a site like AdProval (it’s free!). Build your readership by spending 1-2 hours a day (this might mean a little less free time) and  simply commenting on other blogs that relate to the general topic of your blog. Don’t just say things like “great post” or “check out my blog.” Leave heartfelt, meaningful comments and show that you actually care about what these other bloggers have to say. Do this for about two weeks and you’ll be surprised how fast your readership starts growing! If you do this consistently, you will find that people will start becoming interested in sponsoring your blog by buying ads. You can also sign up for an account with Google Adsense, which is a way to gain income when people click ads from larger advertisers on your site. Making money while blogging is closer than you think — just spend a little time working on building your readership everyday, and you will be surprised by the results!

3. Start an online store
Are you creative? Whether you know how to make jewelry, sew, or even take decent looking photographs of nature, these skills can create unique gifts that people are searching for all over the internet and willing to purchase. There are people making money online selling things they’ve made that cost as low as 50 cents and as much as thousands of dollars. Surely, there’s a place for you and your talents in there somewhere! So channel that woodworking or home economics class you took in high school and start creating something based on what you already know how to do!

Action: Sites like Etsy, StoreEnvy, FlyingCart, and Big Cartel are great sites to get a store started for little-to-no money. Sites like these will typically charge a small fee up front and/or take out a percentage of what you make, however, these percentages are not usually very much, and the more you began to make a profit, the more it pays off.

4. Sell used items online
One of the many beautiful things about the internet is that is had made the concept of getting out and selling things an easy, user-friendly virtual process. Sites like eBay and Amazon are two of the spearheads for selling things online rather easily. So, what are you going to sell? Let’s be honest: what are you going to do with those textbooks lying around your apartment, or those dresses in your closet that still have the price tags on them? Whether it’s an old iPhone or a brand new skillet in your kitchen that you bought from IKEA and never used, these are just a few things that are likely lying around your house gently used or brand new that you aren’t using and could be sold online.

Action: Create an account on a site like eBay or Amazon and begin listing items. Make sure you give good descriptions and take well lit pictures. Your pictures can even be taken on a smartphone, but just make sure potential buyers can see the product clearly. Stay on top of things by offering your customers good shipping rates and sending them products that match the description. In return, happy customers will give you positive ratings and the higher your ratings, the more comfortable future customers will be buying from you.

5. Get paid to write and create
Sites like Odesk and PeoplePerHour are great resources to find freelance work for skills you already have. These sites, among many others include listings for people looking for all kinds of works from website building to writing blog posts. There’s a little something from everyone on these sites. Take a look around and you just might see something you’re capable of doing.

Action: Create a profile and treat it like a job interview. Even though it might just seem like yet another social networking profile, use the same language you would use on your resume and spend at least 45 minutes to an hour a few times a week actively bidding for jobs.

6. Ask family and friends if they need help with any work
This might be the most awkward suggestion yet, but it can be helpful. Sure, it might not be the easiest thing asking your uncle if he needs help with his lawn care service, or asking a friend if the coffee shop she manages is hiring, but it is worth it to ask. You never know what opportunities may present themselves when you simply ask someone you know if they are looking for an extra hand!

Action: When asking family and friends about work, make your intentions clear. If your uncle will only hire you to work at his lawn care service company under the condition that you are actually interested in lawn care, don’t tell him that you “LOVE working outside” if you don’t. Be honest. If you’re just looking for something temporary, state your purpose. Being honest and having great integrity will take you far, no matter what career path you end up taking.

7. Consider becoming an au pair or nanny
Do you like kids and have any past experience with working with them? There are opportunities all over the world from Paris, France to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania looking for au pairs and nannies. Not anyone can be an au pair or nanny, which means that you if you really have it takes to care for children, you just might be able to have a nice, comfortable job that often pays very well. Even if you don’t end up caring for children for the rest of your career life, working with kids is no doubt a great resume builder.

Action: Join a site like Nannies4Hire or AuPair for a chance to see what families are looking for and if your skills and experiences align with what they’re looking for. As with every other suggestion in this article, practice basic privacy and internet safety rules. It is also important that you are honest about your credentials and maintain exceptional integrity.

8. Get paid to do music
You don’t have to have a record deal or a huge management company to make money doing music. If you’re a musician, start out playing open mics in your city every week. Be consistent and eventually, if you have decent talent, the right people will began to notice.

Action: As stated before, carry yourself like you’re going to a job interview. Just because it’s the music industry, that doesn’t mean people aren’t looking for professionalism. Always be on time and be sure to build authentic relationships with open mic hosts, restaurant managers, owners, etc. If they like you, they are likely to ask you to come back…maybe even for a paid gig!

9. Repair things
Have you ever fixed something? A computer? A pair of ripped jeans? Windshield wipers? You’ll be surprised to find that your knowledge isn’t always common knowledge. Don’t assume that just because it comes easy to you, everyone else knows how to do it, too. That’s what makes us communities work. We all have skills that we are unique to us, and we can use them to serve others, and perhaps generate an income, too.

Action: If you hear that someone you know needs help fixing something that you might be able to help with, don’t be afraid to tell them you have credibility in that area and would be glad to offer help. Their payment to you might be something as small as ten dollars for gas money or as simple as a thank you note, but these small forms of payment will lead to a good reputation around town and higher paid jobs if you stick with it for a few weeks.

10. Start your own business
This is the biggest step yet. But believe it or not, it’s not impossible. Many young people feel that they have to have a ton of experience before they can start their own business. Of course, you will need experience when you have five employees working for you, a company vehicle, and you’re making thousands of dollars in profit a month. However, when it comes to you selling items on eBay, starting a blog, or seeking freelance jobs, you just might be able to use some of the experience you already have and get started right now.

Action: And this is why we love the internet. The U.S. Small Business Administration Site (SBA.gov)  has ever step you needed to properly become a business owner in the United States. Once you’ve worked that way through your list, incorporate other things from this list (starting a blog, repairing things) to build your reputation and make your business work!

And finally, things to remember:

Don’t sell yourself short
Just because you didn’t have a 4.0 GPA in college doesn’t mean you can’t be a tutor. All because you only started photography last year doesn’t mean you don’t deserve the right to take a high school senior’s pictures. You develop and perfect your skills by trying new things and taking the initiative.

Be realistic
Don’t do what you do to become famous or super wealthy. If that happens to be a positive consequence, then great! However be wary of overselling yourself or your product. As stated before, integrity goes along way, and people–meaning your customers–appreciate honesty.

Don’t let other people tell you you can’t do it
Always have people in your life that you can trust and people that are going to be honest with you, even if it’s something you don’t want to hear. However, while accountability is very important, be wary of those who allow fear do the talking. Beware of statements such as “wow, that work you’re doing right now has nothing to do with your college degree at all” or “why not just go and get a real job first?” There will be times when you don’t know  how to respond or what to make of their words, but don’t let it keep you from trying to fight unemployment by creating work for yourself, whether it’s temporary or long term.

It won’t always be easy
Great things take great work. Taking the initiative to find unemployment in your youth will definitely come with its own set of battles. Don’t be afraid to look up to role models that you can actually talk to and ask questions (not celebrities that you don’t get to interact with) and ask questions like, “How did you do [this]?” “What did you do to make [this] happen for yourself and your business?”

It’s okay to start small
“If I could just find a job” is not a valid reason to not work. You don’t have to be hired by a company in order to generate some kind of income. Now, being hired by a certain company might generate a certain KIND of income that you want, but don’t be afraid to start small. You might only make $5 profit from a pair of pants you sold on eBay, but $5 is better than $0.

Have fun!
You’re young! It’s your time to shine! While so many of your peers enjoy spending unemployed time doing irresponsible things, take the time to really enjoy the simple fact that you get to try new things that aren’t only adventurous and exciting, but will help you in the future.

Discussion: Do you see yourself trying any of these things? Have you tried them before? How did it go?

Do you know a 20 something that’s job searching right now? Send them this article!

 

Also posted at The Get Started Project

Do You Know it All?

NIKON D700, AF Zoom 24-70mm f/2.8Gf/2.8, 1/1600, ISO 320, 24mm

 

The day you receive your degree is not the day you stop learning about the field you’ve chosen for your career. Of course not! Rather, in many cases, you can expect an orientation program or a training period when you enter your first job, and over the course of years in your career, you’ll constantly be learning. Occasionally, you may need to take specific classes on how to handle new types of software or in order to be aware of the latest trends in your field.

Just because we’ve received a degree in a certain field doesn’t mean that we now are able to stop seeking to learn more about the field. So why should we think that the fact that we’ve checked “premarital counseling” off of our to-do list and we’ve signed the marriage license  mean that we don’t have any more learning to do when it comes to marriage?

The fact is that marriage itself is a steep learning curve. The marriage relationship is totally unique, it’s different from any other family relationship. In my own experience, I’d say that no amount of pre-marital counseling before marriage can really prepare you for the lifelong adventure that is marriage. Marriage is a good thing. And, occasionally, it’s a hard thing. But in order to be a good marriage partner, you need to be willing to invest your time, effort, and emotions into learning the skills that marriage entails. And, after you learn them once, more likely than not, you’ll have to learn them again! The human brain is such that we tend to forget skills we leave unused, and even well-understood information can fade out of our memory, so there never comes a season at which we no longer need to learn.

An employee who refuses to be taught, who refuses to learn new skills of how to do their job better, is not a good employee. In the same way, a spouse who is unteachable, who thinks that they already know everything they need to know about being a husband or a wife and could do nothing better, is not doing the best job they could be doing as a spouse. It is imperative that you have an attitude of willingness towards learning the skills of marriage at all times throughout  the course of your marriage, rather than simply stopping after you’ve said your vows, and refusing to learn any more.

I believe that there’s often an unfortunate stigma surrounding those who go to marriage counseling, marriage retreats or classes, or those who buy marriage books. Sometimes, it can feel as though, if you give in and buy that marriage book, or sign up for that marriage retreat, you’re admitting that your marriage isn’t a perfect fairytale. You’re admitting that you have problems. Maybe it can even feel shameful to sign up for a marriage class, perhaps as if the very act of signing up means that you’re bad at marriage itself.

But that stigma is ridiculous. Is a nurse who takes continuing education courses and re-certification tests every year a bad nurse? No, she’s a nurse who is doing what the government requires in order to keep her license valid. Is a cosmetologist who attends hair shows admitting that she doesn’t really know what she’s doing with hair? Of course not! She’s making sure that she stays up to date on the latest trends and techniques so that she can give her clients the best possible service.

You don’t have to have a bad marriage in order to sign up for a marriage class, or to buy a book on marriage. It can actually be a little easier on you if you learn the skills needed to deal with hard times before the hard times actually come. I’m blessed with a very happy marriage. Sure, we have our bad days—but we’ve been spoiled in that we haven’t yet had to face any major traumas—the kind that come along unexpectedly and shake the very foundations of life. We haven’t faced anything truly hard yet, but my husband and I still take all the opportunities we are given to learn more. We’ll make time to read marriage books, and when our church offers a class on marriage, we’ll take it. Eight years from now, with much more marriage and life experience under our belts, it’s my intention that we’ll still have hearts willing to learn, that we’ll still be listening to sermons about how best to love and serve each other. Twenty three years from now? We’ll be doing the same thing. You never want to get to a point in your life, or in your marriage, where you can no longer learn.  Continuing education is important to your career, but the same attitude of willingness to invest into continually learning is a key attitude to develop in your marriage, as well.

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Take Action!

Great. You agree that you don’t quite know everything there is to know about marriage, but what can you do to learn more? Here are a few resources that I’ve found helpful:

-          Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas is my #1 favorite book on the subject. He’s not afraid to give us husbands and wives a challenge!

-          The website FocusontheFamily.com  has a large number of articles and other resources addressing specific marriage issues.

-          Check to see if churches in your area offer marriage courses from time to time. In many cities, marriage retreats are offered on a yearly basis, and those can be a fun way to keep learning—you get to go away by yourselves, and also learn and take some time to evaluate your marriage and what each of you can do better.

 

Photo Credit//Creative Commons