Welcoming 2020

Lifestyle

I honestly can’t believe that in a few short days we will be welcoming not only a new year, but a whole new decade.  2019 was one for the books. I’m not gonna lie it really had me in the first half and I began to think I’d never make it through, but things quickly turned around and it turned into my favorite year yet.

This year has taught me so much about life, people, and myself. I learned that life isn’t always going to go your way and that’s okay. One of the hardest things I had to learn how to do is to let go and let God. I have to accept the fact that His plans for my life are way greater than any plans I could make for myself. Getting to experience His blessings and some of His plans for my life this year has been nothing short of amazing.

The lessons that I have learned this year have made me so strong, and while they were painful, I am so thankful. I learned that people aren’t always who you think they are in the beginning. People can put on a mask, but once their real colors start to show that is when you have to be careful and sadly I failed to do so. I cared too much and gave too much time and energy when I shouldn’t have. I got my heart shattered and was left so broken. While at first I thought it was the worst thing that could’ve happened I quickly learned that it was the best. I did not need anyone in my life that was going to leave me feeling any less than loved and worthy everyday.

I felt what I needed to feel, I picked myself up and I was determined to be the strongest and happiest version of myself that I could be. I learned to love myself more and more each day. I knew I was a little broken, but I accepted that and let it make me stronger. For the first time I was living life for myself and not for someone else. I went out, I had fun, and I did things that made me smile from ear to ear. I finally felt free and happiness was written all over my face. Little did I know that God had something big planned for me this year…

IMG_8236

In August I met the love of my life. Out of all the blessings I received this year he is truly my biggest one. I thank God every single day for sending him to me at the perfect time in my life. He made everything I have ever been through feel worth it. All the pain, tears, and heartache were all worth it and I would go through it all a million times if I knew he would always be the end result. Not only did I gain one of the sweetest humans in my life, but I gained a second family as well. His family never fails to make me feel welcome and they love me like their own.

IMG_8237

I am so excited to welcome 2020 with open arms. I get to take on a whole new decade with someone who loves me for everything that I am and who is my absolute best friend. I get to learn more about myself, experience new things with my family, and will be closer to graduating college. There is so many exciting things in the decade to come and I can’t wait to see what God has planned. Let’s make this the best decade yet.

Goodbye 2019… thank you for the memories, lessons learned, and blessings you have given me.

-Taylor J

5 Tips For Picking Yourself Back Up When You’ve Been Knocked Down

Devotionals

Life. Will. Kick. Your. Butt.

That my friends, is one of the most true statements you will ever hear. Life is beautiful and one of the greatest gifts God has given us, but sometimes it feels like nothing is going right. A little over a month ago I felt like life had truly knocked me on my face. My whole world did a flip flop and I didn’t know how I was going to get back up again. In the past few weeks I have learned ways to help pick myself back up so I wanted to share them incase any of you all are in the same boat:

  1. Let It Out– Whatever you do, do not keep your emotions bottled up. This is one of the worst things I ever did. I am here to tell you that it is 100% okay to feel. Sometimes you need to sit and cry it out, and that’s okay! Don’t let anyone make you feel bad for having emotions, it is normal I promise.
  2. Pray– Not only is God with you through the good times, but He is right by your side through the bad as well. Let him know what is on your mind and He will ease it.
  3. Focus On Things You Are Passionate About- This has helped me so much in the past couple months. Focusing my time and energy on things that I love put me in the best head space.
  4. Exercise- Not only will this focus your mind on something besides the situation you’re going through, but it actually releases “feel good” endorphins in your brain. It doesn’t have to be anything serious, in fact I recommend trying out yoga if you never have. It is so relaxing and really helps you get in tune with both your mind and your body.
  5. Get Out Of The House– I know this one may seem hard. Trust me there are plenty days where I wanted to stay in my pjs all day and binge Netflix (this is okay every now and then of course), but getting dressed up, putting makeup on, and going out helped me so much. Look good for yourself, take a few selfies, and be the most confident you that you can be.

Those are the 5 things that have been helping me the most lately, and I hope they can help those of you who made need it as well. Even though life may kick our butts sometimes, like I said it’s still beautiful. Life is meant to be enjoyed and God wants us to do just that. He knows we will endure hardships, but He is right there to help us through every single one. When life knocks us down it is hard to see the good in things, but we have to have faith that things will get better because I promise, they will. As the verse below says, we have to walk by faith and not by sight. Things may not always be looking up in life, but God is working in ways that can’t be seen and we have to trust that.

“I will walk by faith even when I cannot see.”-2 Corinthians 5:7 

So, if life has got you down lately try these tips and see if they help. Remember that you are a son/daughter of the king of all kings and you deserve everything that this beautiful life has to offer. The struggles we endure are part of what make this life so beautiful, because many times beautiful things bloom out of disaster. Keep your head up and know that you always have a hand to hold.

-Taylor Johns

Accepting Change

Devotionals

I want to start off by saying I am so sorry that it has been such a long time since I last posted, but I’m happy to be back. The past month of my life has been one full of changes and I’m not going to lie, at first I was terrified. I have always been someone who is scared of change. Once I get comfortable and in a routine I don’t want anything to mess it up. I had to quickly realize that change has to happen in order for you to grow to be exactly who God intended for you to be.

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord. Whose confidence is in Him.” -Jeremiah 17:7

You see, when things don’t work out in our lives it’s not because God is trying to punish us. He instead is in the process of opening new doors in our lives and because of that He has to close others that aren’t helping us grow. I didn’t want to accept the change in my life and for a few days I was angry at God. I thought I had it all together and had my life figured out, but He showed me that His plans are greater. Over the past few weeks I have learned to accept the changes that have taken place in my life, and I could not be happier. Once I started to see it as a blessing rather than a heart ache my whole perspective changed.

(My sweet nana & I, something that has been so helpful through this process of change is spending time with family, in a season of change surround yourself with people who will help you through it.)

I am learning so much about myself in this process. I have learned that for years I broke my own heart by accepting love that was not what I deserved. I became a version of myself that I never wanted to be, but now I am truly glowing. God has shown me my worth and what I deserve and I believe that I would not have realized either one of those things without change. I would have been stuck in the same downward spiral for the rest of my life.

I know change isn’t easy to accept, but if you don’t like the way life is going right now it is something that has to happen! Pray that God will show you the path for your life and allow Him to help change the negative parts of your life that are hindering you from your true purpose. I was worried that the person I became after this change was not going to be someone I liked, but turns out it’s someone I love. Not only have I realized the love I should have for myself, but others around me have noticed the positive effect change has had on me as well. It is so refreshing to hear people say that I look truly happy and full of life, because that is something I haven’t heard in the longest time.

Change may not always be what we want at first, but God will always show you that it is for the better and all a part of His plan. So accept it, trust it, and let Him guide you. Say this prayer with me, “Lord, I thank you for how you are working in my life and the changes you are bringing. While I may not understand now, I know I will eventually and that these changes will shape me into the person you know I can be. Thank you for being the light that guides me down these new and unfamiliar paths, I will follow you and trust you. Amen.”

-Taylor Johns

Healthy Mindset

Devotionals

Happy Monday! I used to dread Monday’s, and every now and then I still do. However, instead of looking at them in a bad light, I look at them as a new start. A start to a new week and a chance to start new habits. One of my goals lately has been keeping up with a healthy lifestyle. I tend to forget that not only does this mean getting my body healthy, but my mind as well. Having a healthy mindset has always been hard for me. Surprisingly it is a lot easier to get your body healthy than your mind. Our minds are one of the most powerful tools we have and if we don’t use it for good it can really harm us.

A lot of times when I wake up in the morning, I don’t wake up with a cheerful heart and mind like I should. I automatically start thinking negative thoughts. I am sure many of you all can relate to this as well. This is a bad habit I would like to change and this Monday was the perfect time for me to start a new one. I have been wanting to start waking up earlier, so last night I set my alarm and was ready to wake up bright and early. Well, come alarm time I must have turned it off because instead of waking up at 8:30, I woke up at 10:30. Instead of beating myself up for turning off my alarm or being angry that I slept most of the morning, I said “You know what it’s all going to be okay, I got some extra rest, I’m thankful to be alive another day, and I’m going to have a great day”.

-4487276298197627928_IMG_2262

You see, things aren’t always going to go right. You may wake up late, or mess something up and that is just life. We can’t let small inconveniences ruin our whole day. If we start the day and the week with a cheerful mind and a cheerful heart it makes these inconveniences a lot easier to handle. It will be easier to recognize them for exactly what they are (minor inconveniences) and to move on from them.

“A cheerful heart is good medicine.”-Proverbs 17:22

Let’s start thinking more positive thoughts than we do negative. It’s a new day and a new week, so you have a chance to start fresh. Having a healthy mindset needs to be at the top of your to-do list, and I am so glad I have put it at the top of mine. I’ve realized that if my mind is healthy it will aid in getting my body healthy. A cheerful heart means a cheerful mind, so let’s work on getting our hearts and minds in the right place.

-3366767790808117702_IMG_2267

Here are a few things to kick start a healthy mindset: 

-Start the day with positive thoughts instead of negative ones

-Don’t let minor inconveniences ruin your whole day

-Be kind to yourself, and to others

-Cheerful heart, cheerful mind

Say this prayer with me to start off your week,

Jesus, thank you for this fresh start. I ask for your guidance as I practice a healthy mindset. Let my heart be cheerful as it will be medicine to my mind. Give me patience to handle the inconveniences in my life. Thank you for the mind that you have given me, I promise to use it for good. Help me Lord to recognize when the devil is trying to get in my mind, and allow me the strength to overcome it. I thank you and I love you, Amen.

-Taylor Johns

Do Not Worry About Tomorrow

Devotionals

This week I started a new devotional study book that I received while attending Sunday school at my boyfriend’s church. There was a verse in the very first lesson that stood out to me and it was like God knew I needed to see it. The verse was Matthew 6:33-34.

Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Lately I have been worrying nonstop about my future. I worry that it will not be as I imagined or that I am not paving the way to a good future for my future self and family. These thoughts run through my head all day long and keep me up at night. When I saw this verse it was almost as if it had big flashing lights around it prompting me to pay attention to it.

A lot of the times, because I am constantly worried about my future I can’t enjoy the present moment. I am determined to make this happen no longer. As the verse says ” do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself”. I want to focus more on living in the present each day and just appreciate the fact that God has given me another day on this beautiful Earth. Each day I want to seek His kingdom more and more, instead of worrying about what tomorrow may bring.

IMG_1885

I have to learn that you never know what tomorrow, or the future may hold. Tomorrow could be the best or the worst day of your life, but that’s okay because God has plans for your today that you need to pay attention to. He is constantly at work in our lives, and most of the time we are to busy worrying about other things to even notice. I want to learn to appreciate each day, appreciate what God is doing in my life, and put my trust in Him for my future and lean not on my understanding but on His.

If you are struggling with worrying about your past or your future say this prayer with me today:

Dear Lord,

I thank you for another day you have given me here on this Earth. I pray that you calm the worries in my mind about the future. I trust in you to lead and guide me down the right paths and I know you will be with me even in times of trouble. Help me God to lean not on my understanding but on yours, for your plans for my life are greater than I could ever imagine. Help me to remain patient in the process, and know that I can always count on you. Thank you Lord for constantly being at work in my life and for loving me unconditionally.

Amen

-Taylor Johns

God’s Goodness

Devotionals

As I was scrolling down Pinterest for some weekly motivation I came across a bible verse that really stood out to me.

“God, you have been so good to me.”-Psalms 116:7 

Some days life gets so busy that instead of focusing on the goodness in my life, I am quick to focus on the things that are giving me stress. I get so caught up in the craziness that is life that I fail to realize the blessings that are all around me. When I saw this verse, it brought tears to my eyes because God truly has been so good to me, and I don’t give Him the “thank you” that He deserves most days.

I read a quote once that said “What if you woke up tomorrow with only the things that you were thankful for yesterday?” This really changed my perspective on things. I am always so thankful for the things and blessings that I receive, however I don’t always show it like I should. So I have decided to challenge myself to start doing two things:

1.Instead of waking up in the morning and have the first thoughts in my head be about what I need to get done for the day, I am going to make them more about what I am thankful for first thing in the morning. This will allow me to start the day with a positive and refreshed mindset.

2. I am going to keep a journal beside my bed and write down 5 things I am thankful for and thank God for those things before going to sleep.

IMG_9543

I encourage you to challenge yourself to do these things as well. It will really put into perspective all the things that we have to be thankful for no matter how big or small they may be.

God has been so good to me, especially just within the past couple of years. I am ready to show Him how thankful that I am for blessing me day in and day out. Having a thankful heart will not only make you shine from within, but people will be able to see it from the outside as well.  I know it is easy to get caught up in the stresses of life, but just keep in mind the goodness of God, especially on days when you feel down. His goodness never fails.

-Taylor Johns

Coping With Stress

Devotionals

These last couple weeks of school have really challenged me when it comes to being stressed. This week in particular…finals week. This semester has been one of my hardest ones in college so far and there have been so many times where I have let the stress get to me. With it being finals week I knew I was going to be more stressed than usual, so I have been doing a few things to help cope with what I am feeling and I thought I would share those today. These tips help with the overwhelming feelings of stress that life may bring and allow you to find comfort in knowing that you are not alone.

1.) Give it to God! 

This one may seem easy, but for me it has been one of the hardest things to do. I try to cope with the stress all on my own, instead of giving it to who wants to help me most! In the Bible it says, “Cast your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you”-1 Peter 5:7  

Praying and talking to God about the things that are giving me stress always leaves my mind in a more positive refreshed state.

2.) Take Your Time! 

For me, when there are deadlines and multiple tests to study for, my mind just wants to rush through everything and get it done. I have learned to space things out and focus on bits at a time instead of rushing to get everything done at once. One of my favorite ways to do this is writing down what I need to do in a planner and spacing it out over my week. I try my best to get everything done on Mondays-Thursdays so that I have free time on my weekends.

IMG_9387

3.) Just Breathe, It Will All Workout!

“Be Still and know that I am God”- Psalm 46: 10

Finally, just breathe! Take a break from whatever it may be that you are working on and take some time for yourself. One of my favorite things to do is sit out on my little balcony and read or just simply listen to everything around me. This gives me a chance to refresh my mind so that whenever I do go back to my tasks, I won’t feel so drained. I can sit and find calmness in the fact that God is in control.

Ollie really enjoys it as well…

IMG_9384

These have been my top 3 ways of coping with my stress lately. Life can get crazy busy and it is easy to feel like the world is on our shoulders, but just remember God cares for you more than you could ever imagine and He is willing to carry that weight for you. Whatever your stresses may be this week I pray that you find comfort in knowing that God is with you and everything will be just fine!

-Taylor Johns

 

 

Beauty In The Sadness

Devotionals

There are so many things in the life that happen that we will never understand. Why people are taken to soon, or why or sweet pets can’t live as long as we do. There is a lot of joy and happiness in this world, but there is also a lot of sadness. It is easy during these times to question God, to ask him a million “why’s?”…but we have to remember that it is all part of God’s plan, and that He will bring beauty out of the sadness that you are enduring.

At the beginning of this year we lost our sweet pup Lulu. She had been with us since I was in 2nd grade, so she was definitely old in age. However, she was still full of life. She loved being outside and always wanted to be wherever we were. It all happened so quickly over Christmas she was perfectly fine and within the matter of days her health began to take a turn for the worst. On January 2nd, Lulu got to cross the rainbow bridge, and while we were all glad she was no longer in pain, our hearts were broken. Pets become like family, and when one of them is lost it leaves a whole in your heart that will never be filled.

IMG_7246

This past weekend my sisters and I went to visit where she was buried. I had been hesitant to visit it, because I knew it would break my heart into a million pieces. However when we walked over, I saw such a beautiful sight. There had never been many flowers that grew on that hillside, but all around there were tons of little purple wildflowers. It was beautiful, and instead of crying, I smiled because I thought “how is it that in sadness, God always finds a way to bring out the beauty in it”.

IMG_8933IMG_8932

Throughout our lives here on Earth we will endure a lot of sadness, because death does exist and with death comes loss. But God does not allow us to feel this way because He wants to hurt us, He knows that it is all part of His plan and that one day something beautiful will come from it. It may not be weeks after, or even months after but it will.

“Weeping may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” -Psalm 30:5

So, if you are currently going through a time of sadness remember this verse. There may be an aching in your heart that will last, but one day the weeping will be over and joy will come. God will make something beautiful out of the sadness, you just have to be patient. He is with you through the happiness and the sadness, and He will never let you down.

-Taylor Johns

 

A Giving Heart

Devotionals

My beautiful mom and I just recently took a trip to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. This house has definitely been on my bucket list to see for years, so I was absolutely thrilled and so thankful that I got the opportunity to go. The true beauty of the home amazed me. Every single detail was so carefully planned and so beautiful. Not only  did we get to tour this magnificant 124 year old mansion, but we also got to hear a little bit about the history of the home and its occupants. There was one fact that surprised me and really stood out to me….

IMG_8777

George Vanderbilt was the owner of this estate, along with his wife Edith. The house and the land around it had many working parts, so along with that meant that there were a lot of “servants” working for the Vanderbilt’s’. Since this family was so wealthy, and had servants within the home one may think that they were “stuck up” or did not appreciate the value of those who helped them. However, this was not the case. In fact, it was just the opposite. Edith Vanderbilt always made sure the servants were taken care of. She would make her rounds through the estate daily just to check on them. Often times she would put together care packages and food baskets for them to give to them, especially around the holidays. She loved giving and taught her family to do the same.

IMG_8694

Each of you should  give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly, or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. -2 Corinthians 9:7

We all should have a giving heart, just as Edith did. Even though the were a wealthy family, they took the blessing they had been given and used that to help others. Giving is so important no matter how big or how small. Giving also does not have to be materialistic. It can be as simple as giving love or kindness. As the verse says, we need to give what our heart truly feels to give and to be joyful in doing so.

Giving more was one of my top goals for 2019, and I encourage you to put in on your goal list as well. The feeling you get knowing that you have blessed someone by giving is amazing. By being a blessing in the lives of others, God will also bless you more than He already has! Some of my favorite ways to give are:

  • Donating clothes
  • Church offerings
  • Donating to charity
  • Buying someone a meal

Those are just a few ways that I like to give, but there are an endless number of ways that you can give! In the next few weeks, practice giving more, not only to your friends and family, but to strangers as well. You never know what is going on in someones life, so   a simple gesture of giving could really make someones day. Ask God to show you ways you can give, and He will guide you. Not only will giving more really impact your life, but it will the lives of others as well. You are setting an example of how to be a light for God’s kingdom. A giving heart is one of the most beautiful things to have. 

-Taylor JohnsIMG_8699

Trusting The Path Ahead

Devotionals

I am so happy to be back writing after a wonderful spring break spent with my loved ones and getting to explore. The first day of break, my boyfriend and I went on a hiking trip and decided to go on a trail that we had never done. This was a little frightening because not only were we the only ones there, but I did not know what lied ahead on the path. Parts of the trail we were able to see what was in front of us, but for the most part we never knew what might be around the corner. However, we trusted it and went anyways. This got me thinking….this is exactly how life is.

In life, we may not always chose the right path and that is okay because there is a God who is ready to be your guide. He wants to lead you down the right path. This being said, it does not mean that path is going to be easy. You may not even understand why God is choosing to take you down a certain path, but you have to trust Him. It is extremely scary to not know what might be around the corner, but just remember that God will be there with you every step of the way.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.-Proverbs 3:5

IMG_8622

God knows just what He wants for your life, and you may have to take many different twists and turns to get there. One day you may feel called to take one path and years down the road God may say it is time to move on. This isn’t because He wants to confuse you, but because He knows just where you should be at certain times in life. He wants you to listen to that calling and to obey His wishes. Everyone of us has a purpose here on this beautiful Earth, and God will reveal it to you in His timing. Finding the right path can be frustrating at times, but we just have to be patient.

For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers the dry wasteland.-Isaiah 43:19

IMG_8628

Thinking of life as one big trail is an exciting perspective. You never know where it make take you, and that is all part of this beautiful journey that God has created for us. We weren’t meant to have everything figured out right off the bat or to understand everything either. We learn as we know and grow in Him, and trust the path that He has put in front of us. Trust can be one of the hardest things to do, especially when you don’t know what the future holds. However, putting your trust in God will be so rewarding. You may not understand now why He is leading you down the path you are on, but He has a purpose and He has a plan. Be patient and trust the path ahead.

-Taylor Johns