2015 In Review

Hey Y’all! Happy New Year! I totally started writing this post last week last year but I put it aside for a few days….

Last year In December 2014, I wrote a post outlining my goals for 2015. There were three (marathon number 2, coaching certification and cleaning up my diet).

Not gonna lie, reading this post now makes me laugh!  I have only partly accomplished one thing on the list. Just ONE (half)!

While a normal person would look at this as a major failure, I am giving myself a bit of grace this year. Am I letting myself off the hook too easily? Probably… but I am okay with that.

I was dissatisfied with myself last year in 2014.  I was stressed to the max, ready to snap at any moment!

This year… I don’t really feel that way…at least not as much. Am I perfect? Heavens NO! Of course not! But I have made some progress. While I am still striving to make improvements and I still have stress, I’m not obsessing over it and I am enjoying this chapter and what God has planned.

One of the major changes of 2015 was on the work front. I am in a job that I love. Is it easy? No. Absolutely not. But I know this is where I need to be. This is where God wants me, a place where I have to fully rely on Him.

A hard part of my work is that it requires me to work on Sundays. Unfortunately, this means no racing on Sundays….and all of the local(ish) half marathons and marathons take place on Sundays (except one…which I was and will indefinitely be unable to attend due to another work conflict).

As a result, not only did I NOT accomplish marathon number 2, but I also did not do ANY races this year. Not a single one! I realized this the other day… am I little bummed out about this? Yes, but it’s not the end of the world.

Another change that 2015 brought was going back to school. I started taking classes for my minister’s license in August. This means that a typical day (while classes are in session) starts around 7 am and goes until 2 am, when I finally finish my homework. I’m still working on my schedule and how to fit in regular life activities (including exercise and dinner!

While finding my footing with a new job, classes and the many changes that occurred (and are still)  with our head pastor’s death, I had many days where I was just trying to hang on… But even in that, I am amazed at the work that God accomplished. I haven’t written about this (on the blog) very much, and I am not entirely certain that I will, but it’s been a very good year. Tough… but good.

Will I ever get that run coaching certification? I think so. I get updates about upcoming courses and I would still like to take the certification course, but my reason for wanting it is a bit different than it was last year. I guess I will let that one roll over to 2016.

2015 was also a year of friendship.

This afternoon, I sat around my kitchen table with five other women for our monthly book club. As we laughed together, I realized how lucky I am to call them friends. When I started the book club, I never knew how much of an impact it would have on me. When I was first approached about working at my church back in February, I sent an email and with the click of the send button, I knew that I had (at least) 12 people praying for me, asking God to give me direction, even though they didn’t know the details.

When our pastor was sick, and eventually passed away, Ben and I knew that we had friends we could grieve with and walk through this chapter with.  We’ve been blessed to have support in many areas of our life and are glad to offer our support to the people in our life.

Ben and I have an ongoing group text with our friend’s Ben and Ashley. There are many times throughout the week when these texts will absolutely crack me up… but we can also send out a group “Hey, can we pray about XYZ together in the next few minutes?” It’s comforting, knowing that we have friendships where this is a normal occurrence. God is so good!

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image via She Reads Truth.

To be honest, 2015 was a huge blur! There are a few moments that stand out, but honestly, I have no idea how it is already January 2016!

I had no idea what was in store when I wrote this post last January….but I hope that I don’t lose that boldness and that desire to speak life!

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I’m looking forward expectantly, wondering what God has planned for us.

 

Cheers to 2016!

Let’s chat! Favorite moment in 2015? Did you accomplish all of your goals? 

 

 

 

 

 


Confessions: On Turning 28

Today is my 28th birthday. Ever since I turned 25, I have begrudgingly gotten older, panic setting in as I realize that I am hurdling toward my thirties and there is no turning back. As an example, I vividly remember a conversation with an old friend last year. They wished me a happy birthday and asked how my day was. My response? “Thanks. I’m okay… I just thought that I’d have my sh*t together by now.”

But this year is different. I am totally okay with 28. I feel that I have fully used my 27th year and am ready for the next adventures that God has for me. I want to celebrate this life that I was given!

As I reflect back on the last year of my life, I smile at that conversation. I had no idea of the wild ride that God had in store for me.

I am so incredibly grateful. Not that it was an easy year, by any means, but I (eventually) chose to be joyful. And I am so grateful for the blessings that came with all of the hard things.

Year 27 was a year filled with loss. Ben and I left the restaurant; we lost a great mentor and friend and closed the book on jobs, projects and relationships that meant a lot to us. I struggled with not feeling my best and not doing things that I enjoyed doing. Not gonna lie, the first few months of 27 were spent very angry, upset and feeling as though I could snap like a rubber band.

But then something changed. I surrendered. And I let go of the fear and the bitterness that I was holding onto. Life didn’t get any easier; I simply chose to be grateful for whatever good I could find. I sought contentment and it changed my life.

Because of that choice, year 27 was filled with blessings, renewal, strength and so much love! Looking back, I realize that these things never would have happened if I had not decided to find joy and to submit to God’s plan.

I am absolutely amazed and humbled by how much God has done in my life as a result. He has blessed my marriage, my career and my friendships. Everything! I’m not saying that I have it all figured out, and there are definitely hard days where I would rather choose a pity party than gratitude, but I am actively seeking Thanksgiving and Joy.

I took a chance to start a book club, and have seen so much growth, friendship and wisdom come out of this.

By clearing out our schedules, Ben and I were able to spend more time with another couple. As a result, Ben and Ashley are some of our closest friends and we can’t imagine doing life without them! We’ve been through a lot with these two and are so grateful for their friendship.

We were also able to spend more time together. This year, we were able to have dinner together almost every day. Before my 27th birthday, I don’t think we ever did that more than 1 night a week. We’ve been able to take walks, to try new things together, to read and just be together in comfortable silence. I know that it won’t necessarily be like this forever but I am so grateful for this season of life.

I also took risks. I left my comfortable, secure job and am trying something new. Every day is filled with new challenges but this is exactly where I am supposed to be. I am doing something that I’ve always wanted to do, but it is not anything like I imagined it would be.

So, this year, instead of groaning at the thought of turning a year older, I am smiling. And I’m looking forward to what year 28 will bring. Because God has a plan.

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Real Talk: Every Body Matters Book Review

If you’ve seen my last few posts, you already know that I’ve been working through this Gary Thomas book. I finished it a couple of weeks ago.

I typically read very fast–I am totally guilty of rushing through a book to finish it and not taking enough time to think critically and reflect on it. I couldn’t do that with this book. It’s not incredibly long, but it is FULL. I have about 2/3 of the pages dog-eared with information/quotes that I want to go back and read.

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The basic premise of this book (at least from my point of view) comes from 2 Timothy 2:20-21:

In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. 21 Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.

As Christians we are called to be:

  • Instruments for special purposes
  • Made holy
  • Useful to the Master
  • Prepared to do any good work. 

That’s a lot of responsibility.

As Gary puts it:

 “Desiring a silver soul means that we stop treating our bodies like ornaments-with all the misguided motivations often displayed by those who build their bodies out of pride and ambition-and start treating our bodies like instruments, vessels set apart to serve the God who fashioned them. Whether we have strong or weak bodies, healthy or sick, overnourished or undernourished, how do we begin moving from where we are now to more purposefully building bodies that function like instruments?” 

Um… treating our bodies as ornaments? Guilty. This means that we must put our vanity aside. That we stop beating ourselves up or worshiping our looks and start treating our bodies as something that God has given us…and use them accordingly!

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This is heavy stuff. And that was only the first chapter!

I mentioned before that this really hit home. I’ve been a bit lax about taking care of my physical health the last few months. Not that I’ve taken up binge drinking, smoking and eating bacon cheeseburgers for dinner every night (How fun would that be?)… I just haven’t made a concerted effort to get out and move. And I was starting to feel it.

With my new-ish job, being healthy and physically fit is important. I have to be on the move at any given time…I never really know what I’m going to end up doing during the week (Seriously).

And then there is the other aspect of my job; As much as I don’t like to admit or think about it, people are watching what I do and say. Especially younger people. And their parents.  What I do directly impacts my accountability. How is that for scary responsibility/reality? Wow.

There is a chapter called The Three-Hundred Pound Pastor that hit the nail on the head in this regard. Let’s just say that my Gross But Necessary posts came back right around the time I read that chapter.

To quote the book:

“Let’s be honest: There were times when I was discredited because of the way I looked. When I talked to the kids about self-control in other areas, they could look at me and understandably ask why I wasn’t addressing my issues with food…” 

The chapter goes on to talk about how the church can actually enable people who struggle with food/physical fitness. Farmer Ben and I have definitely noticed this before-someone always brings cake/cookies to a group function, there are donuts and coffee on Sunday mornings, and so on.

As the books states;

“Please don’t misunderstand. Making delicious meals is a wonderful way to serve and love others. There’s nothing wrong with communal meals and tasty snacks. There is something wrong, however, about enabling someone who is trapped in an unhealthy pattern of living…

…Let’s create room in our churches for conversations rooted in love as we show concern not just for a person’s emotional well-being but for the physical well-being of that person too. Let’s be more concerned about someone walking in right relationship with God than with whether that person thinks we are loving accepting, and tolerant.” 

Now, I realize that I may have a slightly different view because of my employment and my personal areas of struggle…but I think this is definitely something that needs to be talked about.

And the author is not saying to go around and criticize someone’s eating choices/physical appearance. Not at all. But he is saying, that maybe we shouldn’t be so accepting, so nice about letting someone continue an unhealthy lifestyle. There’s a balance.

Moving on, the book has many stories of people who were spiritually strengthened as a result of becoming physically stronger and as I mentioned before, there were many inspiring quotes.

There was also some tough reading.

Gary Thomas doesn’t mince words. He’s very honest about what he feels is the role of the church and its members And he doesn’t excuse a total focus on spiritual health:

“All this talk about fitness, facing the pain of getting in shape, actively combating indulgence and laziness, is in many ways an appeal for the church to get tougher. We are soft. We often cave in at the slightest challenge. Men are lost to superficial sins; women are lost to superficial cares, and the work of the kingdom is neglected. If we don’t get tougher, the work will never get done.”

He has a point. Being a Christian isn’t easy. Heck, being human isn’t easy! If we can’t suffer through an hour of strength training, how will we suffer through persecution?  A crisis of faith? Or worse?

It’s pretty clear that I loved this book.There is so much more that I could go write about but we’d be here for another week! That being said, it was not an easy read. Did I take everything in this book as an absolute? Of course not. But it gave me a lot to think about.

There were many pages that made me say, “Amen! Yes…Absolutely!,” There were slightly more that gave me pause… that caused me to ask if I am really living up to the standard to which God calls us.

It’s definitely a process.

Because I loved this book so much, I’m going to give one away!*** Update: Giveaway closed! 

To enter, simply comment on this post and tell me what gets you motivated to improve your physical health!

(US or Canada Only)***

For additional entries (1 entry for each item): 

  • Tweet about the giveaway and leave a comment telling me you did so.
  • Follow me on twitter and comment telling me that you did. (@noellesnotebook)
  • Follow my blog and tell me how you follow (email, WordPress, BlogLovin, etc.).
  • Follow me on Instagram and let me know in the comments! (@noellesnotebook)

I’ll pick a winner on Saturday, August 29! Good luck!

*I purchased this book (and the giveaway copy) with my own money. No affiliation, I just really loved this book and want to share with y’all!  


Confessions: Be Bold!

Hi Friends! Happy 2K15!

I hope you and yours are safe, happy and healthy today (and hopefully not nursing too much of hangover–from food or drink).

This year I decided to join the #365daysoftruth reading plan (reading the entire Bible this year) with the She Reads Truth community. I’ve never read the entire Bible  and felt today was a good day to start. I’ve got a lot to learn and fully admit that!

It is so amazing how God works; I’ve really felt it pressing on my heart and soul to be more of a sign that points to HIM and less of … Myself, if that makes sense. That sentiment has been a constant subject of prayer lately and I’ve been wondering exactly how I’m supposed to accomplish this.

Part of this morning’s reading on the 365 plan was John 1. Though I’ve read the book of John several times, the first chapter really struck me this morning.

Though John was a great man of God in and of himself, he always made it so clear that the world was waiting for someone far greater than him. He “was not the light; he was only a witness to the light (John 1:8, NLT).”

The whole chapter was the perfect place to start this journey that is the new year.

My favorite verse was John 1:23.

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NLT

A voice shouting in the wilderness! That is our purpose… Not to conform to this world but to stand out and to give glory to Him.

Wow! John empowered me this morning and though I’m still not entirely sure what this means, I’ve got these words to push me closer to that end goal.

That’s all for today friends, have a great day!

Be BOLD!


Confessions: A Hiatus Explained

Oh Hi!

I’ve been meaning to write this post for some time, but I haven’t been sure what to say.

You probably noticed that I briefly disappeared from this little corner of the internet (And by “briefly,” I mean a two month hiatus) and when I came back, I made no mention of said disappearance. It may seem strange because I blog about my life, but in “the real world,” I am actually a pretty private person.  

That being said, the reason for the hiatus is this; Ben and I had a lot to deal with and I wasn’t ready to discuss it, especially not in this space…but, because I am big on being open and honest (at least on the internet), I owe you an explanation.

Long story short, Farmer Ben and I left the restaurant. It was a great opportunity and learning experience, but it turns out, it was not the right place for us. We wish everyone there the very best.

While I still had my regular job, Farmer Ben started job-hunting.

Not gonna lie, parts of the last two months were extremely stressful, but it was also a time where God forced us to slow down, deal with some things and take care of ourselves. We were both completely burnt out, over-worked and not living to the fullest extent (or at all). So, God stepped in. During this time, we said “no” to a lot of things (including blogging). Some of them were really difficult to give up, but it was for the best.

It was a period of prayer, re-evaluating our priorities and soul-searching.

I must add, God took amazing care of us! It is crazy how many “God-things,” occurred. Perhaps the biggest area was in our finances. Yes, we had savings, but money was still tight. However, we always had just enough. We always got a little bit extra at just the right time–without any real explanation. He knows.

Anyway, Ben started working at a different restaurant a few weeks ago. It’s a complete change of pace for him but he is up to the new challenges. So far, he is liking it, especially the schedule!

As for me, for the first time in a long time, I am only working one job. I’ve thought about picking up another job to kill some of my free time (and okay, I do miss the extra money), but honestly, I don’t think that I am supposed to….at least not right now. In the meantime, I’m open to something new. What that is, I’m not sure yet.

So what else have we been up to during this hiatus?

·  We moved into a new place. It’s a cute little mini-house and we love it.
·  We bought some new and new-to-us furniture (my mother is the queen of finding a good deal).
·  We did the Adirondack Ragnar Relay (with minimal training).
·  We took a road trip and attended a good friend’s wedding.
·  We took another road trip and I ran my third half marathon (again, with minimal training).
·  We spent time with family and friends…including some new friends!
·  We read a lot of books (and I started a book club!).
·  We drank a lot of wine.
·  We drank a lot of coffee.
·  We rested.

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From the wedding we attended

In the end, we’re doing pretty well and are truly blessed.

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Shereadstruth.com

So, that’s where I’ve been. Let’s catch up, what have you been up to??? 


Six Things, A List for #elf4health

Today’s #elf4health challenge is to list six things I love about myself.

I always have a hard time complimenting myself, even though I’m a relatively confident person and have been for most of my life. I don’t what it is, but whenever someone compliments me on something—whether it be an ability or physical attribute–I’ve always brushed it off, while simultaneously putting myself down. How silly is that?

Recently I’ve made a conscious effort to simply say, “thank you.” And that’s it.

Needless to say, this list (even though there was a similar challenge last year), has taken a bit of thought, but, here we go!

Six Things I Genuinely Love About Myself:

The crazy lady wearing red lipstick.

The crazy lady wearing red lipstick.

  1. The ability to rock red lipstick. I’m not one of those women who wears a lot of makeup…in fact, most days I barely brush my hair. It’s not that I don’t like taking care of myself, it’s just that I don’t focus on my looks very often. But, when I do take the time to get dressed up and put some makeup on, I love to make a statement. Red is one of my favorite colors and I love wearing red lipstick because it makes me feel confident, bold and classy at the same time.
  2. My legs. They’ve carried me through a marathon. They keep going when my brain is ready to give up. My legs aren’t perfect, but they’re strong and they’re perfect for me.
  3. My (obnoxious) laugh. One of my best friends always teases me about my laugh. Mostly because when we get together, we spend about 95% of the time laughing out loud—cackling! Cackling that probably causes dogs around the neighborhood to go into a barking frenzy…but I wouldn’t trade it. It not only announces my presence, but it also shows that I’m happy and that I have a sense of humor (and don’t take myself too seriously).
  4. My voice. I don’t share this with many people, but when I was a little kid, I had to take speech classes. I could understand what people were saying to me perfectly, but I was unable to articulate my thoughts. I knew what I wanted to say, but I’d trip over my words and just couldn’t get it out. I only went to speech therapy for a few short years (up until and for part of Kindergarten), but I’ll never forget that time. Because of my early struggles with communication, I’ve learned to use my words well. It’s one of the reasons that I love writing–and started blogging. It’s also one of the reasons that I don’t really get nervous in front of large groups-I’m just happy that people can understand me! I guess you could say that once I learned how to speak well, I never stopped!
  5. My Singing Voices one thing that I am sure I do well is sing. I work hard to learn new songs, harmonies and techniques. Some of my fondest memories are associated with choir/a cappella practices or just singing with my sister.  I’m part of the praise and worship team at my church (if you’d asked me 4 or 5 years ago if I would be doing this, I probably would have burst out laughing)… it overwhelms me when people come up and tell me that something I sang really spoke to them or touched them. I’m not a perfect Christian, but one of my favorite ways to connect with Him is through song…and having that come across to others is a wonderful thing.
  6. My Faith. I’ve always believed in God. However, having that personal relationship with Him is still relatively new… but it’s gotten me through a lot…and it’s changed me for the better.

So there you have it…there’s my list…. What are some of your favorite things about yourself?


Notes to Self for Friday…

Happy Friday!

It’s going to be a busy weekend… Here is a look at what’s going on in my brain:

1. This is one of the most unproductive work weeks I’ve had in a long time…which doesn’t make sense because it’s also been one of the quietest.

2. My body is so confused from all of the crazy things I’ve eaten lately. Weird things are happening. Oy Vey!

3. There is so much snow!!! Finally…

4. The snow isn’t so bad, but all the wind is killing me!

5. I’m craving more of this granola. Quinoa…cocoa nibs.. pistachios. So good. Make it!

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6. In case you’re behind on the blog, here is what you’ve missed:

7. I’m still working on the last Daniel Fast post… it’s coming soon!

8. I also still owe you a post on the Food Experiments Championship and the rest of Farmer Ben’s birthday! Stay tuned.

9. I can’t believe 2012 is coming to an end. What a year.

10. I also can’t believe that Dick Clark won’t be around to ring in 2013. How sad.

11. I can’t participate in today’s #elf4health challenge because I don’t own a microwave. Bummer.

12. On second thought… I’m okay with that.

13. I have a really bad habit of putting my foot in my mouth. Not good.

14. I impulsively bought Taylor Swift’s Red cd at Starbucks yesterday. I’ve been jamming out in the car ever since. Latest guilty pleasure? Yes. Am I ashamed? Not at all.

14a. Where was this in 2009 when I so desperately needed it?!

15. One of my Christmas presents was a giant bag of pistachios. Probably my favorite gift. #nuts4nuts. See number 5… I hope you’re getting the point!

16. I know that I caved and joined Twitter (@noellesnotebook)…but I still don’t get the hashtag thing. How do I know if I’m doing it right?! This is the stuff that keeps me awake at night.

17. I have so much to do in the next few weeks. I can’t even deal.

18. I’ve been really bad about logging on myfitnesspal lately. I’d appreciate some help-add me! nre820

19. Looking outside is really discouraging the running part of my brain.

20. My body is really mad at me for being a bum about running lately. Vicious Cycle.

21. 1 Corinthians 13 has been all over my brain lately. There needs to be more love in this world. Seriously. I’ve been keeping these words close to my heart and whispering them to myself when things have been tough.

22. After spending a couple of days in Boston for Christmas, I’ve come to realize that my two teenage cousins are way cooler than me. 

23. They also make me feel old.

24. Farmer Ben and I had a wonderful heart to heart on Wednesday night. One of the many reasons why I love this man.

25. Shout out to my friend NM. Your email made me smile and I am so glad things are looking up. Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers. 2013 is going to be your year. Red lipstick and all.

Happy Weekend!