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My Favorite Things of 2014

It is hard to believe that 2014 is just about over! I decided to share some of my favorite things that I have discovered throughout the year! I have been loving all of these things over the past few months, and I think you will too!


The ESV Single Column Journaling Bible  has been one of my favorite things this year. I love the wide lined margins that have space to write and record what God is teaching me, and what I am learning as I study. I get so many questions about this Bible. I love this brown leather version with the strap.

Women of the Word was one of my favorite books of 2014. I love Jen’s writing, and we have very similar methods for studying God’s Word. If you are a beginner at Bible Study, or if you have been studying God’s Word for years, you will learn something in this book. It is so good, I read it in a day, and I think I need to read it again at the start of the new year.

Before this year I had heard of Elyse Fitzpatrick, but I had never read any of her books. That soon changed when I read Because He Loves Me. This became one of my all time favorite books after I read it this year. It is just so good. This book is just saturated in the gospel, and is a sweet reminder that we are accepted by God not because of the good things we do, but because of who He is.

Pretty Journals always make my quiet time so much better. My favorite is this Botanicals Notebook Collection from Rifle Paper Co. Could they be any prettier?

The CD Love Displayed from the Liberty University Campus Band has been on repeat in our car literally since Easter when we got it as a gift from my sister Kendra, who is a student at Liberty University. These songs helped us so much to focus on the Lord after we lost Sophia, and it is Stella’s favorite!

The Purity Facial Cleanser has been my go to cleanser for awhile, it is gentle and never makes me break out. Especially with pregnancy skin, it has been amazing!

I use the Purity Cleanser with my Clarisonic Mia 2. I know this product gets a lot of hype, but in my book this is a product worth the hype. It gets my skin feeling so clean and soft. I definitely notice a difference when I use it.

I received the It Cosmetics Naturally Pretty Palette as a Christmas gift from my Mom last year, and it is amazing. It is a fabulous go to palette for basically any look I ever want. It is super wearable and the shadows are the creamiest I own….and I own a lot.

I was still loving my white Ektorp furniture from Ikea this year…I love the fresh clean look and the slipcovers are so easy to wash. You can have a white couch, even with kids!

I have always loved home decor, but since we bought our first home this year I have been a little bit obsessed. I have been reading home blogs like crazy, but I am in love with The Nesting Place by Myquillyan Smith. It is the perfect combination of home decor and inspiration on how things don’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.

What have been some of your favorite things over the past year?

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Nancy Zirbas

Love “The Nesting Place”, got it from my daughter for Christmas and needless to say, I did nothing but read it all day. So inspired!!!

Erin Ledbetter

“Freefall to Fly” by Rebekah Lyons! Favorite book this year! Came just when I needed it. “Chase” Bible study by Jennie Allen.

How To Study Scripture

I wrote this post two years ago, but the New Year seems like the perfect time to share it again. I know that there are lots of methods for studying Scripture, but this is what has worked for me!

The question that I get asked most often is how I spend time in Scripture.  Though I had grown up in a Christian home, gone to a Christian college, and even gone to Seminary, I had a hard time consistently reading Scripture each day for a long time. When I became a Mama I realized just how much I needed to be in God’s Word if I wanted to be an example to my children. So I made a commitment that Scripture was going to be a huge part of my life.

Several years ago a friend recommended that I listen to this talk about studying Scripture by Matt Chandler. This message along with a  bit of tweaking has helped me to find a method of studying God’s Word that makes it stick for me.

I don’t usually use any type of devotional guide, but instead I read through books of the Bible. It is so amazing how much more we understand about Scripture when we read entire books instead of just jumping around to isolated verses. I sometimes will alternate reading a New Testament book and then an Old Testament book, but you can choose a book however you want.  I found that I really struggled finding Bible Studies or devotionals that I loved and I sometimes felt like I was not allowing God’s Word to speak to me, but instead relying on the person who had wrote the devotional to show me what I was suppose to learn.

The basic system I use is the SOAP method. All you need is your Bible, a pen, and a journal.

S – Scripture. First I read the passage. Sometimes a few verses, other times a whole chapter. I try not to focus on reading a lot of Scripture in one day just to check it off a list, but instead “eat until I am full”. I then write out in my journal the verse or two that stuck out to me most when I read the passage.

O – Observation. Then I take a moment to think on what I read. I write down how the context plays into what I read, who the verses are speaking too, when it is happening, etc.

A – Application. Next, I meditate on what I have read and how it applies to my life. I try to be specific about how I can apply what I am reading to my life. I write a paragraph or two about what I have learned and how it applies to my life. How does this Scripture change me?

P – Prayer. The last step is prayer. If you are anything like me your mind wanders. In a way to combat the million thoughts that are swirling in my head, I write out my prayer, or at least a shortened version of it at the bottom of my page.

That is my basic process. It has been so helpful to me and I hope that it will be to you as well. It has definitely helped me move away from reading Scripture and just going through the motions and not even being able to remember what I read because there are so many things to think about. If you have been looking for a better way to do things, I hope that this will be helpful. It is simple, and it doesn’t take long, but it is so important. I want to focus less on the silly little things that waste our time (Facebook anyone???), and more on making what matters happen. This is definitely one of those things.

Scripture is life changing. I have walked through many wonderful things, and also some suffering, and being in God’s Word has made all of the difference.

What is #lampandlight?

At the beginning of 2013 when I made a commitment to get really serious about being in God’s Word I decided that I needed a way to hold myself accountable. So I started the hashtag #lampandlight on instagram. I post a picture each morning of my time in Scripture or what God is teaching me and use the hashtag it helps keep me accountable and lots of other women have joined in. It is simply a hashtag to use to seek to be more intentional to spend time in God’s Word. It isn’t a specific Bible study, but just a way to keep yourself accountable and to encourage others. The name comes from Psalm 119:105 “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” I started it because I think we all need to remember that we aren’t in this alone. I would love if you would join.

How do you find “quiet time”?

How do you find time? I get asked this question a lot from moms when it comes to spending time in Scripture because life can be a bit hectic and alone time is definitely at a  minimum when you have little ones.  I wish that I had a magic potion to guarantee that I get an hour to myself each day, but it isn’t realistic. So instead of a formula, I will tell you what I do and maybe give a few ideas.

For me the best time is in the morning, my little girl likes to sleep in most days which means that I have a bit of time to myself to read and journal. Sometimes she is awake and will sit quietly and read her books along with me or will eat breakfast while I finish. I want her to see me in Scripture, because my action of being in God’s Word shows her that it important to me, more than any words I could say to her. If your kids are early risers, but go to bed early as well, the evening might work better for you.  Sometimes naptime or a lunch break is a time to squeeze in a few minutes. On those crazy days when there just doesn’t seem to be any extra time, you may have to break it into a few small segments throughout the day.  This may mean having an open Bible in several places around the house or in the car, or a Bible app on your phone, I love the You Version app.

Remember your season in life, and be flexible, throughout the years your time may change. A mom with an infant may find time while she is nursing a newborn, a college student might find that a free class period works best and that may change each semester. If you are working outside the home, a lunch break might be the perfect time to get some alone time. Though I do think that it is very helpful to have a set time each day, it is also important to give ourselves grace when things slip through the cracks, and at 10 at night we realize that our morning devotional time never happened. We all have seasons in our lives where we struggle. For me, the first trimester of pregnancy is hard, I struggled to stay awake, much less accomplish anything. Find what works, in those times I simply had to wait for a time in the day that I had more energy. We make time for what is important to us, it may take some trial and error to see what works best, but keep at it until you find what works for you.

Ultimately, this isn’t about punching a clock, but becoming more like Christ, which means that we must learn grace for ourselves and others just as He has shown us grace. Through every season of life 2 Corinthians 12:9 has been such an encouragement to me and a reminder to seek His strength and not my own.

“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9


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[…] scripture daily-This has always been so difficult and intimating for me. However, I recently found this post and I’m really hopeful about making this happen this […]

[…] do, and make preparations to actually do it. I’m going to spend time daily in Scripture. I found this wonderful post that gives great tips on how to get in the Word […]

Elaine Anderson

Thank You

Sarah Elizabeth Nice

I know this is an older post for you, but I fell upon it on Pinterest and it gave me the inspiration I needed to pull out my Bible again. I’m sitting here in the office and won’t get home until late in the day, but I am craving that alone time with God again. Thank you so much for that.

Sarah Elizabeth Nice

Stop Glorifying Busy

For some reason, being busy is the in thing these days. Your success is often judged by how much you do. As women, we chat about other women, and we make comments like “how does she do it?”, and “she has so much on her plate”. We make those comments like it is a good thing, but is it? We post pictures on instagram and Facebook of our busy, edited lives…but not so much of the quiet moments. For some reason we think that we are successful women, Christians, business women, bloggers, moms, and the list goes on, if we are running around non stop, so overwhelmed with a million things on our plate. But are we doing what matters well, or are we just doing a lot of stuff?

There are so many choices that we are faced with daily, and the best choice is not to choose it all, but to choose the best things. We must choose the things that God has called us to do and leave the rest behind. My relationship with God, my marriage and being a mama are the most important things to me, I must think about how every decision, or new activity will affect these things. I have lots of other things to think about, but when these things are in order everything else will fall into place.

I found this quote a few years ago, and it is just so good. What are your priorities and are you making those things happen, or doing lots of things that keep you busy, but don’t really matter?

thesecrettodoingitallThis is reposted from a blog post written in 2013.
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So good, Kristin! It’s so important to choose the BEST things.

Victoria Wilson

I LOVE that quote. These past several days, I’ve been reflecting on what “all” he has called me to do. Praying I do all of that well in 2015.

I so agree. A lot of friends look at me weird because I won’t pack my schedule full but the less busy I am, the more time it gives me for my family. If an opportunity arises, I pray about it before I say yes.

A Conversation with Lauren Hooker

I am super thrilled to be launching a new blog series interviewing some women that have been inspiring to me in different aspects of life. I was interviewed by Lauren over on her amazing blog Elle and Co. a few months ago, so it is so fun that she is going to be the first interview in the new Conversations series. I am not sure how I stumbled upon Lauren on instagram, but her feed is one of my favorites. She blogs a lot for bloggers and entrepreneurs, and I always look forward to reading her daily posts. She is a talented graphic designer, blogger, and woman of faith. I hope you enjoy getting to know her!

1. Tell us a little about yourself.

I truly don’t remember a time where I wasn’t finding joy in creating and organizing. I was the little girl who could stay occupied for hours with a box of crayons and blank copy paper and practiced my handwriting often. I never grew out of it, and I followed my passion all the way to a graphic design degree and now my very own design business, Elle & Company. I spend my days creating brands and websites for creative entrepreneurs, and I blog each weekday about design, blogging, and entrepreneurship. I love what I do and I’m blessed to call one of my greatest loves my day job. When I’m not coming up with something for Elle & Company, you can usually find me exploring Charlotte with my husband, hanging out at the coffee shop, or snuggling up on the couch to watch one of our favorite shows.
2. What does a typical day look like for you?
Each morning, without fail, I wake up to our Heidi cat laying on my chest and purring loudly in my face. Once she’s fed and the bed is made, Jake makes coffee and we spend some time in the Word and in prayer together. Our simple morning routine is my favorite part of the day; it always gets our schedules off on the right start. Once Jake leaves for class or work at the seminary, I get to work answering emails, blogging, meeting clients at the coffee shop or on Skype, and getting lost for hours in design projects. No two days are the same, and it’s one of the things I enjoy most about my job; the variety is good for my creativity and productivity! Once Jake gets home in the evening we make dinner together, head out the door for church or hanging out with friends, and then watch a rerun or two of The Office or Parks and Rec before bed.
3. What helps you stay organized?
My planner, countless to-do lists, Google Drive, and a type-A, perfectionist personality that just can’t feel at ease until everything is in it’s proper place! I probably take it to an extreme in some cases (like my color-coordinated closet) but I’ve found that creating a system for things is key. I work much better when things are in order.
4. You blog a lot for bloggers, what is your biggest blogging advice?
Content. When I first started blogging, it was a way for me to journal about my season of life (graduating from college, starting a 9 to 5 job, and getting married). I began adding in my design work when I started my business, but my blogging style never changed; I still focused mainly on my life, my goals, my projects, etc. Not only did I have trouble gaining new blog followers, but my readership started to decrease because there wasn’t anything in it for my audience – it was all centered mostly on me. It wasn’t until I started providing helpful content for my readers that my blog began to gain more of a footing. I’ve since learned that high quality content is key to blogging success. My husband, Jake, recently guest posted on my blog about this very topic and the post is full of great insight on content!
5. You have designed a planner, how do you use it to stay organized? Any tips for balancing life?
Because I love having a system for staying organized, I’ve always taken great joy in finding a great planner. But it seemed like I could never find one that fit my needs to a T, so I designed one! My Ellebook Planner has plenty of white space, to-lists, and sections for me to organize all of the parts of my day, week, and month. I also designed worksheets so the planner could be customized, and I make great use out of my day planner, menu planner, client detail sheets, and blog calendar. I’ve found that keeping everything all in one place has helped me stay organized and helps my productivity.
As far as tips for balance, I still struggle in that area. I’m a yes-girl and a people pleaser, and I tend to take on too many things at once. I’ve learned that I can’t do anything well when I’m trying to do everything; one of the keys to balancing is saying “no.” I’m still working on that one!
The Daybook Planner-Elle Co 2015-0011
6. What is the biggest thing God has been teaching you this year?
God has really been impressing His trustworthiness and faithfulness on my heart during this season. I’m reading the bookTrusting God by Jerry Bridges with another women in my church, and I’ve been reminded of God’s will and purpose: His glory and our good. I’m amazed and comforted to know that He never sacrifices one for the other. Learning more about God’s sovereignty, love, and wisdom in Scripture has made it easier to trust Him, even when my circumstances aren’t what I had planned.
7. What are your must have products?
I’m an Apple fan through and through, and I would be lost without my MacBook for design work. I also love Staedtler pens, peppermint Chapstick, Herbal Essences shampoo, large Yankee candles, and I’m a sucker for Martha Stewart office supplies.
Follow along with Lauren
Website  |  Facebook  |  Instagram  |  Twitter
 Photos by Andrea Pesce Photography and Jessica Mae Photography.
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I’m honored to be your first feature in this series! Thanks so much for having me, Kristin. I can’t wait to keep up with your Conversation posts!

This was a great post! I love following along with both of your blogs. Can’t wait to read more Conversation posts. It will be good.
– Katie Fleming
Cotton Belt Press

Elda Ortiz

Awesome interview…this has inspired me to get organized at home! Will start with my closet. GOD give me the strength!