Thursday, December 18, 2014

Struggle. {advent adoration}

I'll be jumping in today for the topic of struggle.  

Let's be honest, some days, I don't feel like getting out of bed.  The world feels lonely and dark and I'd much rather stay under the covers and hide from it all.  

With the joy that Christmas brings, that still doesn't change much.  

We still have sorrow.  We remember the family member that is no longer with us.  We think of the things we'd wished to accomplish before the year ended and realize they're still not done yet.  

Words are hard and joy is harder.  I think it's easy to think that Christmas will solve everything, and that one gift will change someone's perspective, and that bonus at work will make all the difference.  

But a lot of the time, the truth is that that's just not the truth.  

While struggle is a very real thing during the holiday season, I think peace is, too.  I recently read an article on John Piper's website entitled "Praise We Didn't Plan".  It starts off reminding us of the fact of God's promises, but also reminds us of the fact of Israel's deep idolatry that we can see clearly in the words of the text.  It then brings us to the question: Is God going to keep His promise and do what He said?

I think this is the one thing I would classify as my biggest struggle, not only when it comes to Christmas time, but the whole year round. 

In our times of hurt, we tend to ask God "How here - how, in this moment, are we supposed to bring you praise?" As followers of Christ, we've all asked it.  We struggle with the struggle towards a God who seems so far, but is really walking closely, protecting us as we go, and yet we still struggle with not knowing what's next. 

And that's okay.  It's okay not to know.  He wants us to seek Him in the longing and the hurt.  We were made for Him. 


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Joy. {advent adoration}

I love stories.  More specifically, I love stories that speak life and bring truth and show redemption from a place that was once so dark and lonely.  And I think stories about joy can be a funny thing.  As a fellow #fireworkpeople friend says so well, "Joy will dim, but it will not disappear.  It's not simply a smile on your face, but a deep, beaming grin within your soul." (Amber Thomas)  

But enough of my own words.  

I'm thrilled to give you guys some precious words from Sarah today.  She's a sweet, sweet soul, and I'm blessed to know her. 

Get ready for some joy, y'all. 



For some, the holiday season is full of sweet memories and happy feelings.  For others, it brings on feelings of loneliness or loss.  This time of year can bring to the surface financial fears, relationships that may have dissipated this past year, or loss of family members.  It can be a time of busyness as we try to attend a variety of holiday parties and events, buying gifts for loved ones, and decorating our homes.  Comparison can be at a high as we see other houses either in real life or on Pinterest and we don't think our lives match up.  We want this season to be perfect to create those perfect memories with our spouses or kids.  We want to bake all the holiday treats, decorate all the little spaces, and have the perfect festive outfit. 

But friends, I want to challenge us all to rest in this season.  During this season of Advent, let's remember what this Advent is really about.  We are awaiting the anniversary of the arrival of Jesus.  The picture above was taken during a trip to Israel.  Can you imagine the anticipation in Israel during the days leading up to Jesus' birth?  People were waiting on a savior to be born.  They were waiting on the Messiah.  It was a time of excitement. 

He is our Savior.  And He doesn't care if all the ornaments on our tree match or if we bake that extra batch of cookies.  Honestly, He doesn't even care if our house is clean.  Rest in that truth, friends.  You are enough.  Our Lord and Savior wants us to just rest in His presence.  That is the one and only place we will find pure joy.  Joy only comes from Him.  We can create and experience happiness that is fleeting, but that feeling of everlasting joy comes from Him and our relationships with Him. 

Friends, during this time of Advent, we are preparing for the birth of our Savior.  Focus on that truth.  While yes, creating memories and loving others is important and special, it will come.  The pursuit of perfection leads to comparison which is the thief of joy.  Personally, this is probably the season I struggle with comparison the most.  This is my first holiday season married and my husband and I are both graduate students.  We live in an apartment and almost all our furniture is handed down from our families.  By Pinterest standards, we do not have a "perfect" house.  But friends, this is the home my husband and I created.  This is where we are building our lives. 

Daily we are to come and spend time with our Father.  And friends, that advice is just as much for me as for anyone else.  While I know I should be spending time with Him daily, I'll be honest and say it doesn't always happen.  Especially during this Advent season.  I challenge all of us to come to Him and rest in the fact that joy comes in the morning.  Maybe we had a rough day yesterday, but tomorrow there is joy.  Maybe last month was rough, but this is a new month and there is joy in that.  On December we will wake up and celebrate the anniversary of our Heavenly Father sending His Son to earth to live among us.  He is joy and He came to be with us. 

I'm Sarah.  A Southern girl at heart, a lifestyle blogger, coffee lover, Jesus follower, TV watcher, and peanut butter addict.  I'm also a newlywed - we got married May 2014!  The same summer we also got our first pup and since then she's become a large part of our little family. 

Twitter - @joyfulorganized
Pinterest - @joyfulorganized
Instagram - @sarahapotts

Expectation. {advent adoration}

I'm so excited to share Claire's heart with y'all today.  All of my dear, sweet friends who are posting for me throughout this series are from my community of "firework people", and I can't believe how blessed I've been to get to know each of them. 
Today, there's Claire.  I'll let her do the talking. 


Have you ever waited for something with eager expectation?  As children, the day after Thanksgiving ushered in a season of excitement and expectation as we waited for Christmas morning.  Any engaged bride will tell you that the days leading up to her anticipated wedding day are full of butterflies and sweet expectations of a new life with the one she loves.  Parents awaiting the birth of a longed for child truly know the meaning of patience and expectation. 

Long ago, in the balmy desert of Bethlehem, eager expectation reached new heights.  The savior was about to be born to young Mary and Joseph.  Their unwavering faith in God and each other was about to pay off.  The whispers and stares people gave when they heard who Mary was would soon be over.  The doubt would surely end.  The sympathetic, shaking heads men gave when Joseph walked by with this betrothed on his arm would stop.  Not only were Mary and Joseph expecting the joy of parenthood with the birth of their baby, but they were ushering into the world the One person who would redeem us all.  The Savior was coming! 

No doubt the expectations surrounding this night was palpable. Their baby was expected to change the world. Man and God would finally be reconciled and it would be though their child! Mary and Joseph were so excited they barely noticed the humble stable, the scratchy straw Mary lay upon as she labored, the animals that surrounded them. They were expecting their baby!

The shepherds in their field stood frozen, wide eyed and in shock as an angel appeared before them. "Today the Savior was born! He's here and he's close, go and find him!" Their hearts hammered in their chests with rapt elation. This baby was expected to radically change lives, maybe even theirs. They rushed to find the baby in a manger, the baby that would change the world.

In kingdoms far from the little stable, a star filled the sky with brilliance like no other. Wise men knew at once that a true king was now among us and rushed with their gifts to bow down to the small, rosy, bright eyed King. This baby was expected to be the King of Kings, the one who would usher in unprecedented peace and joy. 

As we move through the holiday season this year with our expectations of that perfect gift or the perfect family outing, take a moment to slow down and reflect on what it must have felt like to expect the Savior, to know that you were birthing or gazing upon or worshiping a wee babe who was expected to do the greatest things the world would ever see.  



Claire Bone is a mother, wife, freelance writer, photographer, and blogger who lives in Tahoe Park with her family.  She is known to binge watch Firefly or Gilmore Girls when she finds herself home alone.  Her perfect day includes the beach, a tall glass of iced tea, and a stack of YA novels or Disneyland -- maybe both.  Claire blogs at


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A New Season {advent adoration}

Friends - I am so excited to be hosting my first series composed of mainly guest posts.  I've recruited some wonderful women who are a part of #fireworkpeople with me, and I'm excited to let them share their hearts with y'a'll, as well as share the wisdom of the Lord as we're journeying in this season of Advent.  

My hope with this series is nothing short of redemption.  I know for me, when I get to this time of year, it's easy for me to get bitter and seclusive.  I don't want to have to spend money on gifts for people, I'm not a huge fan of Christmas music, and I think there's been too much added to the tradition of Christmas and it takes the focus off of the Lord and what He's done for us just in the birth of Christ, let alone what happened in the 33 years following, and even still today.  

There is expectation.  
There is joy.  
There is struggle.  
There is perseverance.  
There is hope.  

These are the things of our hearts, the things that we're passionate about.  There is newness in the season of advent.  It's full of the things that make our heart sing, and sometimes make our heart cry.  There are things we see, things we go through, that make us who we are, and point us to the foot of the cross, where Christ takes it all with the nails in His hands and feet FOR OUR SAKE.  

Advent is about new life.  

Join us?  


Sunday, December 7, 2014

Day 31. [the first thirty-one]

Day 31-Self portrait and explain what you liked most about this challenge.  

Holy cow-another month has already passed?  I'm somewhat refusing to believe that, but I'm also rejoicing in the newness that comes from a different season of life.  

I'll be honest: when I began this challenge, I didn't think I was going to go through with it.  I figured I'd get bored, give up, and decide that it was just another waste of my time.  It was like I expected myself to fail.  But when I realized that was my mindset toward it at the beginning, my thought process began to change a little.  I started becoming intentional about the things I was posting, and I put thought and effort into them, not knowing who it was reading or the things they would infer about my from my words.  

I think the thing I liked most about this specific challenge was the chance the just be myself.  There were more serious posts that I had to let my guard down a little, and then there were ones asking about my favorite flavor of ice cream.  And that's probably what kept me hooked.  I had  variety of things presented to me, I got a cue to go off, and then the rest was up to me.  

I hope y'all got the chance to know my heart, my joys, and my dreams.  I loved sharing this journey with you.  


Saturday, December 6, 2014

Day 30. [the first thirty-one]

Day 30-What's your favorite flavor of ice cream? 

Man oh man, do I love my ice cream!  I could eat it for any meal, and be satisfied by it pretty much any time of year, no matter the temperature.  And mint chocolate chip has my heart.  I love chocolate, but I also love the little twist the mint adds to the flavor.  Because hey, we all need a little excitement in our lives.  

When I was younger though, I was probably the most boring 10 year old on the face of the planet when it came to ice cream.  You could ask my mom.  Chocolate ice cream with chocolate syrup.  That was a staple in our house, and was always a treat for my sister and I at the end of the day when we were watching American Idol or our favorite show on TV.  

I'm glad I've stepped outside my comfort zone just a bit, but I think I'll stick with my mint chocolate chip for a while.  


Friday, December 5, 2014

Day 29. [the first thirty-one]

Day 29-What's your favorite time of the year and why?  

I'm gonna be honest - I've been waiting for this question the entire challenge.  I love getting to share my love for my favorite time of year, and that time is fall.  

The leaves are just starting to change, the weather is starting to be cool enough so that I don't look like I'm constantly drenched in water, and there's a sense of joy and hope in the air.  Fall brings about change that many people look forward to every year.  

But I think the reason I love fall the most is what comes after it.  When the snow falls, then melts, and eventually goes away for the year, something incredible begins happening.  The leaves start growing back.  The grass becomes green again.  And the birds are chirping, the squirrels are scurrying, and there's a warmth in the air that I think is unique to Kansas and the weather it brings.  

Fall can seem hopeless: the leaves are falling and everything seems dulls.  
And winter can seem long: it's cold, nothing looks like it's alive, and it feels like it will never end.  
But after that comes spring: a time of restoration, of new life, of color and joy.  

It reminds me the power that we have in Christ.  That He promises to make all things new, no matter how many times we run from Him.  That no matter how many times we think things will never get better, they always do, and He always proves His heart for us. 


Thursday, December 4, 2014

Day 28. [the first thirty-one]

Day 28-What's your guilty pleasure?

This is a question that I had to think about for a few minutes before I started writing.  But then when I thought about what the term actually meant, mine came right to mind.  

Binge watching my shows on Hulu or Netflix.
Sometimes, if I'd had a long week at work and am given a Saturday with nothing planned, there's nothing I'd rather do than watch every show I have on my queue on Hulu or re-watch a movie or show I've seen a hundred times on Netflix.  There's nothing more relaxing than having no responsibilities, even if for only 12 hours, and not having to worry about getting anything done.  Most times, those days consist of sitting in sweatpants and a hoodie, not putting contacts in, and eating junk food.  And you can be sure that I take advantage of it when it happens.  


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Day 27. [the first thirty-one]

Day 27-List 3 online friends you've never met in real life but hope to soon.

I know what my mom's probably thinking right now:
"You shouldn't trust anyone you meet online."  
And I agree with her to an extent, but I think there's something you can infer from having a conversation with someone that can lead you to believing that they're a good person.  And I like to think I have pretty good instincts.  

Here's my top 3!  I'm going to include their blogs and Twitter handles, because I think y'all need to go give them some love.  

  • Bailey Jean Robert
    • She blogs over at Brave Love Blog, and I'm constantly inspired by her truth, passion, and confidence in life.  
    • You can find her thoughts put into words over at Bailey Robert for Twitter.  
  • Rachel Dawson
    • I got to know her through Firework People, which is an online community of women with the goal set to inspire and encourage other women in their journeys. 
    • You can find her blogging at Rachel A. Dawson.  
    • You can see her heart on Twitter over at Rachel Dawson.
  • Jordan Gage
    • Also another Firework People friend.  She's loves snail mail like me!  And lives in one of my favorite cities in the world - Nashville.  
    • You can hear about her love for everything at The Journey to Trust.  
    • She's also loves her to tweet at Jordan A Gage.  
I love these sweet women and the joy and hope that they inspire.  Hope y'all love them as much as I do!  


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Day 26. [the first thirty-one]

Day 26-What's your favorite food?  

If you know me, you know I'm somewhat of a picky eater.  Jeez, until lately, I'd never liked salad.  I'd pretty much be repulsed by the thought of it.  (Don't worry, I've broadened my horizons)  But when it comes to the foods I enjoy, there's one that I could probably eat every single day.  

Mac 'n cheese.  

Ask my mom.  When my sister and I were younger, we'd probably eat this at least a couple times a week.  So easy to make and so delicious.  It was the first thing I knew how to make on a stove, and I would pride myself in that.  I was the best babysitter because I could make a mean mac 'n cheese.  It was a part of my childhood, and though I've moved past just loving the kind that comes in a box, I enjoy thinking back on the bowls of mac 'n cheese that my sister and I, friends, or family would share together.  

It's the little things in life.