Baby Remington Is A...

Well I never thought this was going to be a blog post!

Actually I would have loved to blog about this so much sooner! However, there's a little story about my best friend's husband who challenged me that I couldn't wait until the birth to find out the gender. Yeah, I'm talking about you, George!

And because of my fiery red personality, I had no choice but to prove him wrong.

(By the way, take this test to find out what color personality you are! It's super interesting and makes a ton of things make sense!)

Eli and I had actually entertained the idea of not finding out when we first knew we were pregnant, but oh my goodness it's so hard! You don't know what to call the baby–he, her, hims, hers, thingydo. You don't know what to buy. I spent SO much time looking up girl/boy names.

My biggest problem was that I felt like I couldn't connect with the baby. I wanted to talk to him/her by his/her name. I talked to Ellie all the time when I was pregnant with her. I'd tell her what we were doing that day, ask what we were craving (the answer was always boneless buffalo wings), and sing to her. I didn't realize how much I'd miss that. Obviously I still do those things, but I wanted to know WHO I was talking to.

What ultimately made us give in?

Well, we've had some health concerns come up with baby. So we have had several extra ultrasounds done so far as well as an extensive appointment with some specialists. We're hoping for the best scenario to play out, and we'll keep you friends posted!

However, with these health concerns and ultrasounds in that region...it was inevitable we'd find out the gender. And thanks to a new ultrasound tech's slip, now we know!

So...

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Baby Remington is a BOY!!!

 

 

We are SO excited! If you've been around me at all this pregnancy, you probably know I had the strongest feeling it was a boy. Just like I knew early on that Ellie was going to be a girl! I can't explain the feeling you get–you just know. Not to mention this pregnancy has been polar opposite of my pregnancy with Ellie!

I am 35 weeks pregnant right now. My due date is September 4th. Although at our last ultrasound we found out that he's HUGE.

Already almost 7 pounds...
In the 84th percentile for overall size...
His belly is in the 99th percentile...

Based on those facts, he could come as early as August 15th!

Regardless of when he comes, I am so excited to meet him. I'm also really looking forward to having a natural water birth this time! NOTHING about Ellie's birth was natural. I let the doctors make decisions for me and I didn't know any better. This time I have a midwife and a doula and I love them both! I also have an in-depth birth plan plus my beloved essential oils to get me through what I'm anticipating to be an intense labor. I'll definitely be blogging his birth story and the essential oil protocol we used after he's born!

As far as baby boy's name, we are keeping that a secret! (wink) There were a few names we had been going back and forth between for months and we just couldn't decide. We finally came across a new name and both happened to love it!!!

We can't wait to share his name with you when he arrives!

Thank you all so much for following along this amazing pregnancy journey with me. Your excitement and encouragement is so appreciated! We can't wait to meet baby boy Remington in just a few weeks!

 
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7 Essentials for Your Next Beach Vacation

If you know me at all, you know it’s not a vacation unless there’s a beach involved. I am a beach girl through and through.

We are in the last week of our annual family vacation to Florida so I thought this would be the perfect time to share my favorite things that I couldn’t have gone without these last 3 weeks.

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Over the last 2 years, I’ve been researching and swapping out toxic products in our home. Sunscreen was at the top of my list since my family loves to be in the sun so much. Last year on a vacation we tried a natural sunscreen that did not work for us at all  and left poor Eli covered in blisters. This year we did much better, thankfully!

So the first two products are all about sun protection!
 

#1 | Hynt Beauty Sun Prep

This is my first bottle of this moisturizer/SPF and I am in love. It’s gentle and perfect for everyday use. It has SPF 25 and protects your face from UVA/UVB rays. I've only worn makeup a couple times on this trip, but it is also considered a primer—making it perfect to wear under your makeup. A little goes a long way—I only need one pump to cover my entire face and neck. It’s also super lightweight and not greasy at all. Don’t worry, it rubs in completely transparent so you won’t look like a ghost!

I promise it's worth every penny! I purchased this from The Organic Bunny where I get most of my skincare products.

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#2 | Thinkbaby Sunscreen

I was recommended this sunscreen by one of my best friends last year. She loved it for her kids. Ellie and Eli both have sensitive, easy-to-burn skin so we decided to give it a go this year. We love it! It's 50 SPF and is rated a "1" by EWG. It's free of any yucky, harmful chemicals with the highest level of broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection. It's also a non-nano formula which is important to me. We got ours here!

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has some informative articles on safe sunscreens that you can read more on here if you're interested.

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#3 | Hubalou Hair Wrap

I've been hearing more about how drying your hair with your regular bath towel or terry material is damaging. Thanks again to The Organic Bunny, she introduced me to the Hubalou hair wrap! They're made of bamboo fibers–which eliminates frizz–and somehow magically dries my hair in less than half the time. As soon as I get out of the shower, I apply my leave-in conditioner and wrap it up. If I'm going to be putting on makeup, this is when I'll do that while my hair is out of my face. The other benefit of the wrap is that it soaks up any excess product that you may apply to your wet hair. I only leave the wrap in for about 15 minutes. After that, I'll let it air-dry if I can. But even if I need to blow-dry it, I've greatly reduced the amount of time needed which ultimately saves my hair from more heat damage. I've noticed a huge improvement in my hair (especially the amount of split ends) just within the last 2 months of using the wrap.

You can find the one I have here.

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#4 | Wet Brush

This one is pretty basic but Ellie and I both really love our Wet Brushes. They have something fancy called IntelliFlex bristles so they don't pull or tug your hair whatsoever. It effortlessly glides right through your hair, dry or wet. And that, my friends, is super handy when you have a toddler who can be kind of a baby when it comes to brushing out tangled hair.

Bonus: it's super inexpensive! I got ours here and it comes with a tiny travel size, too—which Ellie has claimed as her own.

Another tip is to start brushing your hair from the bottom and work your way up rather than starting at your roots. This also helps keep your from ripping through tangles and causing breakage/damage.

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#5 | LavaDerm After-Sun Spray

Never, ever, ever will I go to the beach without this stuff. I've only had sunburn a couple times in my life, but Eli burns SO easily. However, your hormones go wack-o when you're pregnant which causes your skin to be more sensitive and burn easily. Super. My midwife did warn me but I kinda shrugged it off.

No bueno.

Day 1 of vacation and I burned bad. Red as a lobster/second degree burn blisters bad. I should note that I did not use the ThinkBaby sunscreen because I thought I could get away with 15 SPF... Wrong again. The burn was all across my chest and my belly (sorry, baby R!). So this after-sun spray saved me those next few days. People would actually wince when they saw it, but thankfully I didn't have any pain besides when putting on a shirt or bra. Not only is this soothing/cooling when you spray it on but it relieves the pain! And after a couple days of healing, it completely took away the itch that you normally get with sunburn. I applied it 2-3 times a day. (Tip: Since it's good for relieving itches, too, it'd be perfect to have in your arsenal if you like to go camping!)

LavaDerm is exclusive to Young Living. You can read more about it here. It’s 100% plant-based, vegan, and contains natural menthol, aloe, Lavender and Helichrysum essential oils. I'm so glad that I brought 2 bottles. I've actually used it a ton but haven't even finished the first bottle yet!

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#6 | Yeti Tumbler

Since I'm pregnant, I also try to drink a ton of water each day. When we got down to the beach, we found these pretty WHITE Yeti tumblers at Surf Style! I've never seen a white one before, so Eli and I each got one. I got the larger 30-ounce size just to keep from having to refill it so often.

They are amazing! We have a few of the 20-ounce ones back home, but I completely forgot to bring them. (I'm secretly happy about that or else I never would have bought these white ones!) They keep ice frozen and water cold all day, even in the boiling sun. I don't have to worry about freezing water bottles and hiding them in my beach bag away from the sun, or them getting condensation on everything. Eli loves using his for mixed drinks by the pool!

They're glorious and totally worth the investment. Eli got this size and I got this one.

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#7 | Reading Material

I have become an undercover hoarder of books...and then never actually reading them. So I brought some from home and we also made a trip over to Barnes & Noble to pick up a couple more. My mom will read approximately seven 1,000-page books on vacation. I was never like that, unfortunately. I enjoy reading business, leadership, and relationship books that inspire me to make changes, lists, and write down new goals.

Obviously, this category is very subjective since we all have different taste in what we enjoy reading. But I wanted to share just two books I really enjoyed reading.

Start With Why by Simon Sinek – This one is super popular and I think everyone should read it at least once. I've highlighted and taken so many notes in my copy. I personally love it since I lead a wellness/essential oils team (love you, Flora + Sage!). However, it has such valuable information even if you don't own your own business or lead a team.

Girl, Wash Your Face  by Rachel Hollis – This book... Every woman needs to read it! This is one I picked up at the store here and I finished it in less than 48 hours because I couldn't put it down. Rachel talks all about the lies us women believe and tell ourselves and why they're a bunch of bologna, basically. I love when someone tells it like it is, and she does it with a splash of sarcasm. #lovelanguage

Your own happiness is up to you.

Definitely pick this one up, ladies!

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Bonus #8 | Lash Extensions

I'm throwing these babies in as a bonus because they obviously aren't a necessity, but totally worth it if you have the means!

I really didn't think I would love lash extensions as much as I do. A friend of mine got hers done last summer and I couldn't believe how beautiful they were! So I went to the same person to get mine done before we left for vacation. Since we had our family pictures done on the beach, I thought it'd be nice to have them for that.

You guys...these somehow cut my time IN HALF for applying makeup. I don't know how that is possible since you would think the only step it replaces is applying mascara, right? It's magic.

I can count on one hand the number of times I've put makeup on this trip because I feel put together with nothing on except these lashes. I have terrible skin so normally I would wake up and apply a full face of makeup to attempt to hide it all. It has been such a nice change to not worry about that because I still feel like I look like a woman with no makeup on! Since I've kept my skin clean and makeup-free, it's actually healed so much! Typing that literally makes me want to cry. In the pictures below, I have only the tiniest layer of foundation on—that's it! And it's been exactly 3 weeks since I had them done!

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I hope this post helps you guys find some new summer staples! Thanks for reading! Let me know in the comments what you plan on trying, what you have tried, or even other summer essentials you recommend!

 
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Why I Switched To Organic Skincare

Ready for a little story time? 

All my life, I was never a girly girl. I wore cheap makeup from Target and bought whatever cleanser or toner my friends were using at the time. I had certain issues as a teenager (I'll spare you the details, lol) that I regularly saw doctors for treatment. Never did it cross my mind that the parabens and hormone-disrupting chemicals that I was unknowingly slathering on my body could be the culprit for all of my issues. Because everything on the market must be safe, right? Well, I was clueless, so that was my routine until my early-20's.

Fast-forward to when Eli and I decided to start a family, I expected it to happen right away. I was young, healthy and it took over a year plus seeing two different specialists to get that positive pregnancy test finally. FYI, Eli likes to make it known that he was not the problem, haha. Something was going on with my body that I was just not aware of at the time.

Shortly after Ellie was born, I started getting into essential oils. If you've been following me for a while, you've heard me talk about them and how buying that starter kit was truly one of the best decisions of our lives. I was intrigued by the "weird, hippie, natural" stuff my friends were posting about day after day. I dove in and began reading anything and everything I could about health and natural remedies. That led to me deeper into research about synthetic fragrances, dyes, petrochemicals, parabens, phthalates, carcinogens, and other toxic sludge that companies were permitting in their products and wreaking havoc on our bodies.


The Scary Stuff

Did you know that by applying makeup daily, you're subjecting yourself to 5 POUNDS of chemical absorption every year? Did you know that women apply over 80 chemicals to their body each morning just from their skincare, body soap, deodorant, perfume, and makeup? By the end of the day, it's over 300 chemicals that are now on and inside of your body.

I felt sick when I read those statistics. I took a trash bag and went through my bathroom, looking up the ingredients on the back of every bottle and piece of makeup. I ended up with three trash bags full of products (and a very concerned husband, haha)! But that was the most freeing feeling—and also overwhelming considering I was now going to have to find clean replacements for everything! Gradually we did. We needed fewer products than before, and we ended up saving tons of money. I'd be happy to help you work through that if you're looking to make the switch, too!

If you're feeling like clean skincare and makeup won't work as well, hold up throughout the day, or look as fab as everyday makeup, I promise you're wrong! Since switching to entirely green products, never once have I missed an old product or thought about sneaking into Sephora. If I can do it and love it, I promise you can, too.

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Making the Switch

There have been a few incredible resources for helping me through this entire switch. Last year, I attended Young Living's Beauty School which was insanely eye-opening to how toxins affect our bodies and for learning what is truly safe for us. Our skin is our largest organ, and what goes on it is absorbed into our bodies. I don't know why that never clicked in my head before. I learned the importance of each step in a skincare regimen: cleansing, toning, moisturizing, and target treating. Young Living has an incredible skincare line, and now a complete makeup line called Savvy Minerals. What I love most about Young Living is that they're an overall wellness company. They are the only place we order house cleaner, hand/dish/laundry soap, supplements, and many other things. No more rogue trips to Target where I need one thing and come out spending $250. I order it all online from YL and get it delivered. Plus they have a rewards program that gives me 25% back on each order–take that Target!

The other place I've learned a ton is an Instagram account, @organicbunny. Her name is Amanda, and her mission is to prove that an organic, lifestyle can still be glamorous! I watch her Instagram stories daily. She does makeup tutorials while teaching you about the product she's using. She has an online store, www.theorganicbunny.com, where she's researched companies and their products, and pulled them all into one place–which makes it so easy for us to shop! I've recently purchased all new skincare and makeup from her online store. I'm three months in and LOVING what I'm using. (I'll be sharing my routine in a future blog post. Stay tuned!) She is vegan, and all of her products are organic, cruelty-free, and I believe even gluten-free. She partners with an esthetician who you can email, send pictures of your skin, explain your problem, and she'll work with you to put together new skincare + makeup regimen, all within your budget. The products I'm currently using are all things she recommended for me and let me tell you...I've been thrilled with the results in my skin! A little tip: Your skin will be it's absolute best when you couple a clean skincare regimen with clean makeup!

The last resource I want to point you to is EWG.org. Not only is their blog super informative, but they also have their Skin Deep rating system where you can look up different products or specific ingredients and view a rating for how toxic it is. I highly recommend browsing their site and referring to it before you buy any new skincare product!


The Bottom Line

I wish I had known way sooner about all of this. I let corporations determine my health for 21 years of my life. And what else is there if we don't have our health? Thankfully, I started this wellness journey shortly after Ellie was born. I honestly can't explain the peace I have knowing that her body is taken care of from the inside out. We're still working on her veggie intake, haha! #pickyeaterprobs

I hope this helps even one person to look closer at what they are using on their body. I promise it doesn't have to be overwhelming–or expensive! Start with just one drawer/cabinet each month. Or only one product! Find a clean face cleanser, foundation, or moisturizer. You don't have to do it all at once. But you have to start somewhere! Once you've tossed all the toxins, you won't believe the difference you see and feel. I promise.

Anyone looking to make the switch to clean, organic skincare/makeup? Share your thoughts, and tips if you have any, in the comments below! This lifestyle change has become something I'm super passionate about talking about and helping others through, so know that I'm here to help!

Thanks for reading!

 
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And then she was 4...

I can't even believe the day had come. Just over a month ago, my big girl turned 4 years old. How is that even possible?

Eliana Marie.

I love her so much it actually hurts. I love the wonderful, caring, thoughtful tiny human she is becoming. She willingly gives out kisses and "I love you"'s. She is the cleanliest toddler I've ever met. She makes her bed, picks up her room, and puts all of our (not just hers) laundry away without being asked. She can be pretty spicy and sassy, but always makes up for it when her sweetness comes out.

Baby #2 will be arriving in early September! We CANNOT wait! But I was also having a hard time grasping the idea of Ellie not being my only one–my entire world. How could my heart possibly make room for another? I've been trying to slow down the moments and soaking up every possible second of time I have with just her. That's why I wanted to have pictures done of just my girl and I...pictures that I love and can look back on knowing it was a special time for just Ellie and I.

I can't thank Molly Watson Photography enough for these images. This was the day Ellie turned 4. They mean the world to me. I look through them on my phone everyday and am so thankful to have these.

Here are a few of my favorites!

 
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My Word of the Year | 2018

I don't know how many of you do this, but each year I choose one word that I want to want to improve and focus on for the coming year. My 2017 Word of the Year was intentional. I feel like I did okay but know I could have done so much better. At some point it just slid to the back of my mind and old habits kicked back in. I was originally thinking that I should try again for 2018, but I think I came up with something better.

I love the word "intentional." I love being intentional with my time, money, relationships, conversations––but that's a lot to work on all at the same time. Even with a rocky start to 2018, it's actually helped me to finally figure it out.

My 2018 Word of the Year: Self-Care

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If you're anything like me, your world starts to fall apart when you stop taking care of YOU. I've heard sayings like that, but for some reason I never applied it to myself until today. As a mom, we tend to put ourselves on the back burner to make sure our family's needs are taken care of. My family will always be my priority; the solution is also making at least a little bit of time to take care of me. We are able to love, care, and be intentional with those we love so much more when we are taken care of. If you are empty, you have nothing to give to anyone else. You're left exhausted. So it's time to change that this year.

You can’t pour from an empty cup.

Rather than spending the little free time we do have with endlessly scrolling our phone, pointless Target runs (gasp!), or watching Netflix, why not read a book, take a bath, have a spa evening at home, mail your best friend a card/letter, or just turn off all the screens and have some peace and quiet. I have approximately 20 books sitting in my office closet that I've read the first 2 chapters and never touched again. I'm going to pick up my camera for personal work again. I bought a tripod so that I can actually be IN the frame––mostly so Ellie will actually know I was there during her childhood, haha. I just want to spend more time to simply BE––with Ellie, Eli, or whoever I'm with.

I'll stop myself now before this becomes a novel. But I hope that this inspires someone else to set priorities for this year (even though it's already February). Better now than never! If you aren't happy with an area of your life, change it! Figure out what you need to find more balance and make adjustments. I promise it will be worth it.

2018... Yeah, I think it will be your year, too.


What changes are you making in 2018? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments and we can cheer each other on!


Eliana Marie | 3 Years & 8 Months

Hey, stranger! It's been a hot minute since I've written on here. While I was putting Ellie to sleep tonight, though, I had a huge urge to get all of this out somewhere. So here we are.

Rocking Ellie to sleep has made me more and more emotional these last few weeks. If you know me, that may sound shocking. I've been trying so hard to soak up every ounce of her as she is right now and the routine we have. She brushes her teeth while I get her diffuser ready and turn her sound machine on. Then, we go in her room to the chair and she lays in my lap with her bunny, we say a prayer, I sing "Wheels On the Bus", and I stroke her hair as we rock just a few minutes more. I'll carry her over to her bed and she asks, "Can you lay with me for a minute?" every single time.

This is my favorite part of every day. I wrap my arms around her and pull her as close to me as I can. She rests her tiny, warm hands on top of mine. I smell her hair, her skin, her perfectly stinky, little breath. I love it all. Before I get up, I tell her how much I love her and she turns her head toward me, closes her eyes as she puts her forehead to mine, and in her perfect, tiny voice she says "I love you so much, Mommy."

Nothing instantly brings me to tears like thinking how badly I want to bottle it all up and wishing she could stay at this age forever. What a privilege it is to have a child, teach them about life, watch them grow and to witness all the things that bring them joy. But it's incredibly heartbreaking at the same time to want to freeze time so badly so they stay little forever.

Moms, I know you're right there with me and you feel all of this too.

In my next blog post, I'll be sharing about my new Word of the Year and my goals I have that maybe you have, too. One of those is to just BE with Ellie more, in every phase she's in. I want to take more pictures. And I'm currently learning video because in 5, 10, 20 years, I really think those will be more precious to me.

While I was laying with her tonight and tears running down my cheeks because I wanted her to stay this small forever, I thought to myself... Who says I can't freeze time right now? I have a device that allows me to literally freeze time. Why am I not carrying it around with me everywhere? I can document every moment if I want to and look at them everyday, forever. So that's exactly what I'm going to do.

I get to choose every moment that I want to stay.

I also want to start journaling more on here––the vacations we take, the adventures we have, the mundane, the great, and everything in-between.

I miss every phase Ellie has as soon as it's gone. I want this to be a place that I can show her years from now so she can see everything we did together, what she was like as a little girl, the outfits she put together herself, and how we do our best to give her the best life she possibly can. I want us to remember her characteristics as they change, her silly/serious faces, her favorite outfits...everything.

And I'm starting now!

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Ellie at 3 Years & 8 Months old:

  • Baby girl, you are SO smart. We can have full conversations, and I love watching your mind work. You pick up new words so quick. And you never forget when I promise you a cookie after lunch.

  • You love when we do school work in your classroom downstairs. You're really good at recognizing numbers and letters. Your favorite number is 22.

  • The very second you wake up, you must put on a dress (for some reason you love the ones that are too small and can't where anywhere else), your "sparkly shoes" (because without them, how can you be a princess?!), and your headband (that's too big but you don't mind).

  • You basically live on peanut butter toast, Ramen soup, PB&J, and french fries. You get your extreme pickiness from Nana and I.

  • Since it's winter, we brought up your tricycle and you ride it around the house all day long. You call it "Spirit", which is your current favorite show.

  • You (hopefully unintentionally) scowl at anyone and everyone. They all think it's hilarious thankfully. You're very shy but I don't think that's a bad thing. It takes you a while to warm up to people (especially men) but once you do, they're your best friends and you remember everything about them.

  • I love you so much it hurts. I love our lazy days at home together. I love that you love to come in the ministry with me. I love that you cuddle with me for a few minutes when I ask. And how you're always handing out hugs and kisses. I'll never get enough.


Love you always,
Mom

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5 Tips For Making Bible Reading a Daily Habit

"I'm already like a week behind. There's no point in trying to catch up."

"I'll try to read the Bible in a year, but I'll be happy getting through even a few months."

"I am so busy! I don't think I can add one more thing on my plate each day."

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Those were all excuses I told myself over the years every time a new year rolled around. Maybe you can relate to one of them, too? Many of my family and friends make it a goal to complete the Bible in a year. It's a wonderful goal! But it seemed like most of us would get just 3-4 months in, life would catch up with us, and we'd fall out of routine.

I was tired of that happening. So I made a strategy, and I've finally stuck with it. I thought I'd share some tips that have helped me in hopes that it encourages you to complete reading the Bible in a year!

Tip #1 | Make The Decision

You have to make completing the Bible a serious goal. If you view it as something that's just for fun, you probably won't get very far–at least I didn't! Have your heart and mind set on it and you're off to a great start!

I know it's most common for ones to start on January first, but you don't have to! Start on the first of the month, or whenever you're ready. It's also helpful if you have someone doing this with you. Ask your spouse, parent, or friend to complete this with you. The buddy system is always a good idea!

Tip #2 | Keep A Notebook

Whether you're a pen/paper person or you prefer digital, have a place where you can jot down personal gems or scriptures that really stick out to you. Whenever I come across a verse that is really applicable to me at the time, or just something I needed to hear, I'll write the verse out and say why I loved it. Don't be afraid to give yourself some tough love either. I always include verses that I know are something I really need to work on.

You also might like to note scriptures that might encourage a friend or someone you know. You always feel better when you comfort, encourage, and build someone else up, right? Doing these things will make sure your Bible readings have meaning. I have the tendency to skim a chapter over just to get through it, but doing this has made me slow down and really think about what I'm reading (and remember it!). I honestly look forward to the new gems I'll find the next day.

Tip #3 | Decide Your Schedule

There are a few options when it comes to a Bible reading schedule to follow. Some like to read it chronologically or by topic/category.

This year, I chose to read by each topic–Songs & Practical Wisdom, Jesus' Life & Ministry, The Prophets, Writings of Moses, etc. I am using the schedule provided on the JW.org website (click here to download it). Here is a screenshot of what it looks like. Right now, I'm working on completing the section of Books of Songs & Practical Wisdom. I use an app called PDF Expert, so all I have to do is type in the dates and check off the days as I go!

You can still use this schedule if you'd rather read the Bible in chronological order. Or if you'd like something simple that you can print out and cross of physically, I created one for you! Just click here to download it, and print it out at home!

Tip #4 | Make The Time!

Time. There's never enough of it. #canigetanamen

However, this is the most important tip I have.

You have to dedicate just 15-30 minutes every day to your Bible reading. Maybe you can set your alarm a little sooner. Or hit your snooze button 5 times instead of 8... #guilty You can do it while your spouse puts the kids to bed. Or go up to bed sooner and do it there. 

Obviously, you know your own schedule best. Just decide what time of the day works best for you. I am NOT a morning person, so I like to do my reading after Ellie is down for a nap. If I'm busy getting housework done, then I'll do it in the evening either while Eli is putting Ellie to bed or while we're relaxing before heading up to bed ourselves. If you're an essential oiler like me, diffuse Frankincense, Clarity, or Palo Santo to help you relax and focus.

The very best thing you can do is to never get more than one day behind. If you do, it will feel too overwhelming to catch-up, and you'll put it to the wayside. Obviously, you'll have days that are chaos (especially if you have kids), but you have to make it a point to make time for it the following day if you miss one. If there is only tip you follow, make it this one!

Tip #5 | Meditate & Share

This goes hand-in-hand with Tip #2. But what good is your notebook full of encouraging notes if you never refer back to them?

Each week during my personal study time, I make time to reread the verses I wrote down and the notes I made. Or even if you're just having a bad day, read through your notes and I guarantee you'll find something that lifts you up. This always keeps me excited for the next day's reading and the spiritual gems I'll find.

Meditate on the verses throughout the week. Share it with your service group. You will draw closer to Jehovah, and I bet you'll even start memorizing more scriptures! I'm terrible at remembering scriptures, so I love when I'm able to recall them.

If you wrote something down that you thought would encourage a particular friend, share it with them! Make their day by writing them a short card and put it in the mail. Who does love getting something in the mail (that's not junk)?! They will be so encouraged by the fact that you were thinking about them and that you took the time to write them.

If you set the goal to read the Bible daily with your family or friends, why not start a group text message! My family does this for the Daily Text, and we have to summarize it in just three words. It's tough, but it gets you thinking! You could do something similar by summarizing the Bible reading for the day into your own sentence.

And that's all I got, friends!

My hope is that these tips helps you or inspires you to read the entire Bible in a year! Comment below if you currently have the same goal so we can all cheer each other on!

What does your daily Bible reading routine look like? Do you have any other tips?


Simplifying Our Life

Balance is something I've never been able to master. It's a unicorn as far as I'm concerned. One of my weaknesses is that I'm a workaholic. I have so many passions and I truly love what I do, but my free time has been gone for a while now. And when I get an idea, I have to begin working on it RIGHT NOW. Because of all the work I was taking on, my anxiety was through the roof. For the first time in my life, I was having panic attacks daily and constantly needing Eli to calm me down. I didn't understand why! I was busier with work than I had ever been–my calendar was full of sessions, I was getting published in magazines, and I had a gorgeous studio in the middle of downtown. Yet, I was nowhere near feeling fulfilled in any of that.

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I failed to rest. I never took the time to recharge. It was the worst case of burnout I had ever had.

But it was more than that. This was more than burnout. I had completely lost my desire for everything I was doing...

Several months ago, Eli and I were talking one evening and I said, "I don't remember the last time I wasn't busy or feeling overwhelmed." It was as easy as having that one conversation that spurred us to make big changes. We set goals, prioritized, and wrote down dates to make some radical changes.

We had both been praying for changes for our family, especially spiritually. We were doing okay but we weren't thriving. The decision we made was so simple...everything was getting shut down. Well, almost everything.

This will be Brittany Marie Photography's last year! It is so bittersweet to write those words, but I feel so good about the decision. The studio did incredible things for my business, but it was still an overhead that added stress for me. August will be my last month in there!

What we're not giving up is our essential oil business, Flora + Sage. One thing I have definitely not lost my desire for is living toxin-free and sharing how others can do the same. Also, there is such great potential for us to reach in this business, and the reason I'm okay with saying that is because I can work part-time hours and have the flexibility to work when I want and as much/little as I want. The income will never be what this business is about, but it could be a wonderful blessing for our family. I can get back to being a fully present mom, wife, and be able to volunteer more time as a Bible teacher in our community.

New priorities: Spirituality, Family, Work (in that order)

Eli can't make too many changes with his company, but he was recently able to go down to working four days a week so we can spend another morning in the door-to-door ministry together. Just imagine me squealing with excitement right now to have him home with us another day of the week. :)

Beyond work, we've been simplifying our home, too. Physical clutter causes mental clutter for me. We've gone through each room getting rid of things we haven't used or don't need anymore, and it feels so good!!! We've been working toward a minimalist wardrobe, too, which has been hard but fun. It definitely saves time choosing what to wear each day!

Another change we've made is what we do to hang out as a family. Last year, it probably would have been just being lazy at home, watching a movie. This summer we have taken a huge change in direction–in a good way! We bought kayaks (!!!) and have been going out as a family at least twice a week, and we've been going on long walks and bike rides. The kayaks may have added to physical "clutter" but there is something so mentally freeing when you go kayaking. It's been so good for us, and it just makes me so happy.

Well friends, thank you so much for caring enough to read this short novel–haha! I apparently had a lot I wanted to get off of my chest and share. I feel so good about the changes we've made as a family, and like we're heading in the right direction. I can't wait to see what the rest of this year brings.

And I really hope this maybe encourages someone to make changes that they've been wanting for themselves or their family, too!

XOXO.


What are some of the ways you've simplified your life recently? Feel free to share, along with your tips, below in the comments!