How to Meal Plan (Free Printable Included!)

Meal planning is a great way to save money and stay accountable with healthy food choices. With the busy hustle and bustle of everyday life, it’s easy to swing into the McDonald’s drive-thru if we don’t have a meal plan. However, creating an organized meal plan can be difficult.

 

How to Meal Plan

1. Decide on the Meals You Will Have

The very first step of meal planning is, well… planning your meals! Look through Pinterest or your favorite blog and pick out recipes you will enjoy. You will see many registered dietitians (which I am not) recommend eating foods you actually enjoy. Unseasoned chicken breast with a side of brussels sprouts may sound like a healthy idea, but ask yourself if you will feel satisfied with that meal. If it doesn’t sound delicious and satisfying, leave it out of your plan.

If you have some fitness goals or have been recommended some macros by a doctor or registered dietician, keep those in mind when planning. There are many recipes you can find on Pinterest that suit certain macros goals. For example, you can find many low-calorie pizza crust recipes made of Greek yogurt and flour. Or, you can find high fiber pasta dishes with a lot of greens or beans. Whatever your goal is, find a recipe that sounds delicious and nutritious!

2. Tally How Much You Will Need of Each Ingredient

Once you have picked out some recipes, you should tally up how much you need of each ingredient. I always try to stick to about five main ingredients when meal planning to make my grocery bill less expensive. Typically, you will see me picking up bread, garlic, broccoli, chicken, and tofu. No matter what, you will want to tally up how many of each ingredient you will need. Do you just need one of everything? Or, do you need five chicken breasts, two white onions, and just one bottle of wine?

3. Go Grocery Shopping!

Now that you have completely planned your meals and ingredients, you are ready to go grocery shopping! Hit the store and look for your ingredients. Using your tally chart you made, shop for those ingredients. Try to steer clear of any extras if you are on a tight budget and stick to your list. I always get caught up in the chocolate and potato chip section.

4. Meal Prep if Desired

Many people choose to prepare their meals they planned ahead of time. This helps to save time in the kitchen if you have a busy schedule. For me, knowing I have a healthy and nutritious meal waiting for me keeps me from spending money on fast food.

 

Free Meal Plan Printable!

To make your meal planning easier and more organized, I have designed a printable. It should help you remember your meals and keep track of what ingredients you need from the store. Feel free to download it or use it as inspiration for your own printable!

Meal Plan.jpg

 

Working From Home Must-Haves That You Can Get on Amazon

Working from home can be the biggest blessing, but it can also be a challenge. It’s important to be comfortable and productive in your space so you can be an efficient worker. When I first started working from home, I had a really difficult time staying focused on my tasks. This was because I was in my home, with my comfy bed and sweet dog, and I kept getting distracted. Additionally, I wasn’t comfortable with my workspace. I knew I needed to make some changes. Here are my working from home must-haves that truly helped me be more productive.

Disclaimer: I am in no way sponsored by Amazon or any of the sellers of these products. These opinions are my own and I have purchased these items with my own money. Even if I was sponsored (which I wish I was!), I would still be very honest with my recommendation of products.

Working From Home Must-Haves

If you don’t know already, investing in home office supplies is very important. In our culture, we work very hard for most of the day. If we are going to be spending eight to ten hours working, we should invest in our environment. Some websites recommend spending $400 to $3,000 on transforming your home office space… Wow! If you read my blog posts frequently, you will know I am very frugal and am always trying to save money. So, these products I mention in this blog post are very affordable for most budgets.working from home must-haves from Amazon

Comfortable Desk

Your desk is where you will be doing most of your work at home, so it needs to be comfortable. Personally, I prefer to use a standing desk, because of the negative effects of sitting down for long periods of time. Additionally, when I was saving up to purchase my standings desk, I got so antsy when I was sitting all day. My body started to ache and I noticed how I would be hunched over trying to see my laptop better. Ever since I purchase my standing desk, I am able to work for very long periods of time without getting uncomfortable.

The standing desk that I purchased from Amazon is the SDADI Mobile Standing Desk. It is height adjustable and is very easy to put together by yourself. At only $70, I have so incredibly happy with this desk and I even recommended it to my mom. I will definitely be holding onto this desk for when I move to my new house.

Bluetooth Keyboard and Mouse

Along with your standing desk, you will likely need a Bluetooth keyword and a Bluetooth mouse. For me, both of these are working from home must-haves. Not having to be inches away from my laptop’s screen at all times helped my posture and made me much more comfortable. If you go on Amazon, you will find hundreds, if not thousands, of Bluetooth keyboards and mouses. I spent a lot of time researching the different products ad looked at prices and reviews. I decided to go with the Arteck Bluetooth Keyboard and the Tsmine Bluetooth Mouse. Both are rechargeable, which saves me money on batteries and are under $20.

With my standing desk, I have my keyboard and mouse on the bottom shelf, and my laptop on the top, set to be eye-level with me. This helps me to stand up straight without having to bend my neck. Both of these products are incredibly inexpensive, so I highly recommend purchasing them.

Laptop Tray Table

I have a couch in my home office for when I take a break from standing. If you have ever sat on your couch with your laptop in your lap, you know how much you have to bend your neck when looking at the screen. This is why I decided to purchase the GreenForest Portable Laptop Desk. It is height adjustable, so you don’t have to worry if it will work for your couch. I will also use this for when I’m sitting in one of my chairs instead of the couch. This is definitely a working from home must-have because it helps my posture so much.

working from home must-haves for home office

Inspiring Decor

There’s something about a dull and boring environment that makes it so difficult to work. When I started working from home, I made sure I had inspiring decor so keep me motivated and focused. While I either make my decor, or I order it from Etsy and Hobby Lobby, Amazon has some great products. I prefer to fill my space with inspirational Bible verses and other work-related quotes. Here are some that I found that I would definitely purchase:

Again, there are thousands of office decor products on Amazon. These were just a few that caught my eye and seemed to have great reviews. Please remember, I have not purchased those products, so do some additional research before buying them. I will likely purchase them because I love them all! Having inspirational quotes or even things that make you smile when overwhelmed with work is a big must-have for your home office.

Fitness Tracker

Before you roll your eyes, let me explain. When we work from home, it is easy to only get 200 to 400 steps in before we buckle down for eight to ten hours. This lack of activity is very unhealthy, as movement is very important for our heart. If I didn’t have a fitness tracker, I know I would only get 2,000 steps a day maximum. Since I have a reminder set on my watch to move each hour, I am able to move much more than I would without it. I also make sure I take my dog for one or two long walks each day so I can meet my 10,000 step goal.

I personally have a Fitbit, because I love how fitness-oriented they are compared to the Apple Watch. Fitbit’s products are also much cheaper, and from what I have heard, last much longer. Amazon and Spotify have actually partnered with Fitbit to bring more “smartwatch” features to their products. Their newest watch, the Versa 2, has Amazon Alexa built into it as well as Spotify music. I still have the old Fitbit Blaze, which is no longer sold (that’s how long it has lastest me!). When I decide to upgrade, I will be purchasing the Versa for sure.

There are also very inexpensive Fitbit bands sold on Amazon that allow you to customize your watch. There are all different styles, colors, materials, and patterns you can get for your Fitbit band on Amazon. If you just type in “Fitbit band” on Amazon, over 8,000 results come up. Crazy!

What are your working from home must-haves?

Those are all of my working from home must-haves! I hope you find these helpful for you and your productivity. Each person will need something completely different depending on the space, budget, and job, so I’m interested in hearing what your must-haves are! Please let me know in the comments below because I am so interested, and I know others will be too!

While you’re here, have you read my blog post, “10 Working From Home Tips to Keep You Productive and Happy“? In that blog post, I go through my entire schedule with you and point out what helps me stay on top of my work. If you liked this blog post, I think you’ll like that one as well.

How to Get Organized at Work TODAY

Have you ever noticed your productivity dwindles when you feel unorganized and uncomfortable in your workspace? I know I have. There is something about having a Pinterest-perfect desk that makes you excited to get your job done. However, it is incredibly difficult to stay organized for many people. Between a busy meeting schedule, too many tasks and not enough time, and many other distractions, being organized at work is close to impossible. This is why I want to share how to get organized at work in a short amount of time.

How to Get Organized at Work

Get Comfortable

Getting organized at work also means getting comfortable. If you are uncomfortable with your chair, desk, or anything else you use at work, you should make an effort to change them. Some companies are willing to improve their employees’ office furniture, so be sure to ask your admin if they can get you more comfortable furniture. If you work from home, be sure to invest in some high-quality and comfortable furniture. Also, look for furniture that has built-in storage to help you get more organized. When you are comfortable in your space, you will be equipped to get organized at work.

how to get organized at work

Get Creative

Go on Pinterest when taking a break from knocking out tasks and find some pins that spark your creativity. These pins could be of organized desks, of cute quotes, or beautiful pictures. You can print these pins out and tape them to your desk. This will help inspire you and give you ideas for how to get organized at work.

Here are some great pins that inspire me to get more organized:

Throw Away or Donate Unnecessary Items

Now to the actual organization tips! We all have papers we haven’t looked at in months and pens that have been dried out but we just haven’t thrown away. Don’t hesitate to throw away or recycle these items, as they are just clutter in your workspace. If you are unsure if you will need a piece of paper in the future, scan it and save it to your computer, or at least take a picture of it. This can help ease some anxiety you have about throwing away work documents.

If you have broken headphones, unused notebooks, random cords, or anything else that is just taking up your space, throw them away or donate them. You can also see if anyone in your office needs the items you would like to get rid of. Most of the time, desk clutter is made up of unused and unnecessary items, so be sure to get rid of them.how to get organized at work

Properly Organize the Items You Do Need

Now that you have gotten rid of the excess work supplies that you do not use, you should only have items that you do need. With these items, do your best to put them with similar items in your draws or other organizers you already own. If you do not have a paper organizer or a drawer in your desk, be sure to purchase one. As mentioned above, most workplaces will provide these for their employees, but you may need to purchase them. Typically, Amazon has the best deals for desk organization pieces.

Dedicate Time to Organize Your Office

It is very important for your productivity to work in a clean and organized environment. For this reason, blocking off 30 minutes in your work calendar to organize your desk is completely appropriate. If anyone questions you, explain to them your unorganized desk was hindering your ability to work. This is understandable and should be respected by your coworkers.

Use this time to organize your papers, electronic chargers, writing utensils, and whatever else you may have on your desk. You can also wipe your desk down to ensure it is a healthy environment for you to work in.

Get Organized at Work!

At the end of the day, being unorganized and having to sift through your belongings every time you need something wastes time. To increase your productivity and improve your workplace environment, get organized as soon as possible. All you need is the time, inspiration, and resources to do so.

Vote With Your Dollar: Why and How

With the current state of fast fashion, unethical practices, and mass production, the idea of voting with your dollar has been reaching popularity. It’s for those of us who want to see a change and cringe at the thought of supporting a company we don’t agree with for various reasons. This blog post is going to discuss what it means to vote with your dollar, why you should, and how to do it.

What Does “Vote With Your Dollar” Mean?

When someone tells you to “vote with your dollar”, they usually mean support businesses you agree with. This could mean you agree with their working conditions, their devotion to sustainability, the organizations they donate to, etc. Just like with normal voting, the way you vote with your dollar will differ from the way other people do. And that’s completely alright, as long as we all can agree to not support companies who run off of child or slave labor and horrible working conditions (sorry, I had to get that out of the way now).

The way I vote with my dollar is going to look completely different than the way you vote with your dollar. This is why I’m not going to openly state what I avoid in brands and specific reasons I avoid them–outside of those who partake in universally unethical practices. At the end of the blog post, I will add some links to websites and articles that will help you make decisions on where you spend.

Why Does it Matter?

When you vote with your dollar, you are telling companies that you disagree with their ethics. You are telling them that you don’t appreciate them donating to an organization with your money. When you stop funding a business, you stop funding behavior that you disagree with. This is why it’s so important to do a quick Google search and see how a company gets its materials and ingredients before shopping. Here are just a few things companies get away with:

Child Labor and Forced Labor

Many large companies have their employees working under harsh or even dangerous conditions in countries like China or India (see below for a link to a list of all countries affected). When you spend money on these businesses, you are directly funding this behavior. This is one of the most common reasons people decide to kick their favorite fashion company or chocolate manufacturer to the curb.

Funding Organizations

Today, many businesses have taken political stances and donate to organizations with your money. To me, this is very important because I don’t want organizations I 100% disagree with to be funded with my money. Businesses aren’t always vocal about where they donate their money to, so you will have to do some searching. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to find a company who doesn’t donate to the same places as their competition (phone companies or grocery chains).

Working Around Laws to Save Money

It’s obviously illegal to partake in forced labor, slavery, and excessive child labor in the United States and most developed countries. You may be wondering how your favorite running shoe company, chocolate company, and inexpensive fashion company (cough) can get away with profiting off of slavery. When a company decides to not give Americans jobs because they want to keep 90% of the profit for their products, they usually outsource their jobs to countries in Asia or Africa. Most of these countries do not have strict laws against slavery or child labor, thus making it easy for a company to get around laws.

Most companies hide their practices from their consumers because they know they are partaking in horrible practices. Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to reprimand a large business for doing shady dealings in other countries. Luckily, the United States Department of Labor has many different articles about what to avoid when voting with your dollar.

Vote With Your Dollar

 

How to Vote With Your Dollar

The short answer to this is: do your research. When I’m shopping, you’ll see me whip out my phone to look up a brand’s sustainability, employee working conditions, and sourcing. Often times, there are alternatives to businesses who aren’t engaging in, quite frankly, crappy practices and dealing. You will have to put in some effort, and maybe even some more money, but it is SO worth it.

Shop Local

You know how your neighbor’s cousin owns a local clothing store that’s downtown? Go and support them! Okay, maybe your neighbor’s cousin doesn’t own their own business, but my point is, support local families instead of huge corporations. When you shop at a local business, you are supporting your local economy and you are supporting a family. Often times, the items you find at local businesses haven’t been produced through slavery. You can look up the brand names of items while you are in the stores if you are not convinced.

Shop on Etsy

Etsy shops are usually family-owned businesses who have high-quality and ethically made products. If you are looking for handmade items like furniture, clothing, and jewelry, Etsy is perfect. The shop owners run off of and rely on good reviews, so they usually produce amazing items. When supporting a large corporation, your one bad review isn’t going to damage their image, so they don’t put much care into their products. The next time you need something, check out Etsy and see if you can find what you’re looking for.

Steer Clear of Fast Fashion

If you have never heard of the term “fast fashion”, it is essentially cheap clothing that you will throw away within a few weeks or months. Are several brands popping into your mind? Not only has clothing waste increased drastically from all of the clothing being produced, but these companies are usually involved with forced labor as well. It is much more sustainable, ethical, and cost-effective to purchase long-lasting clothing items instead of paper-thin shirts that will get ruined in two weeks. Please look at the links below for articles filled with facts about specific companies.

Support Local Farmers

Most large grocery chains donate their profits to organizations that you might not agree with, or get their food from different countries. Depending on your state, there is a good chance you can get your fruits and vegetables from a local farmer’s market. Just like with shopping local, you are supporting your local economy, and let’s be honest, 99% of farmers are super sweet people.

If you are a meat eater, you should really support your local farmers. We all know that animals are not treated very well by large companies who are just waiting to sell them. I’m sure many people would disagree with me, but local farmers truly care about their animals. They make their income off of their couple of cows and chickens, so they treat them with respect. The farms in my area are off of our highway, so everyone can see what the cows look like, what they are eating, and how they are treated. So, support your local farmers and support animals being treated fairly.

Check Company Policies

Many companies are open about where they donate to and their sustainability. For example, Sprouts donates their food that isn’t up to their selling standards (bruised or misshaped) to local food banks. When I volunteer at my local food bank, the shelves are always filled with Sprouts products. If it is not up to consumable standards, they donate the food to local farmers so they can feed their livestock. How awesome is that!? Always check the policies of businesses in your area before shopping.

Do Your Research

As promised many times above, here is my big section of links. The information listed in these articles could be inaccurate because fortunately, companies are improving their ethics every day.

U.S. Department of Labor:

Articles on Child Labor:

Articles on Forced or Slave Labor:

Fashion Industry and Sweatshops

Donation Tracking

  • 2ndVote: Lists where each company has made donations.

I will be sure to add new links whenever I find articles and websites. Please leave any that I missed in the comments below! I hope I helped you understand what it means to vote with your dollar and stick up for what you believe in.

Best Local Businesses in Frisco, Texas

Frisco, Texas. One of the fastest growing cities in the state of Texas at roughly 2,000 people per month. With all of this growth, many corporate chains are moving in and kicking local, family-owned businesses out. It’s getting difficult for families who have owned their small businesses for multiple generations to keep up. I’m not sure if it’s just me, but I think we should help them keep up!

Frisco Businesses to Support Today

Below is a list of amazing businesses that operate out of the Frisco area. They are run by local families and are passionate about their work.

Local Businesses in Frisco TX

The Blushing Bride Boutique

This Frisco bridal boutique is located in the heart of historic downtown Frisco. They opened their doors in 2011 and have seen a lot of future brides in their doors since then. They have almost a dozen bridal designers in their boutique and also offer alterations. If you are engaged and are still needing to pick out your perfect dress, visit their website to make an appointment today!

The Amish Furniture Showcase

Amish furniture stores are known for their amazing quality and handmade furniture pieces. Frisco, Texas is blessed to have the Amish Furniture Showcase on Preston Road. Since 2002, they have been making great furniture that will last a lifetime, which cannot be said about other furniture stores. There are dozens of furniture stores in Frisco, but this local business is definitely one to try out.

Classique Jewelers

We are all aware of the dozens of big chain jewelry stores in Frisco, Texas. Did you know that there is a local “gem” that sells beautiful jewelry? Classique Jewelers has been serving the Frisco area for over 21 years and is family owned and operated. They have every piece of jewelry you could need–engagement rings, wedding bands, bracelets, earrings, watches, and so much more. They have some of the big name designers just like the big corporate chains, but you are supporting a Frisco family when shopping at Classique.

ASP Frisco

ASP stands for America’s Swimming Pool Company, which is a pool maintenance company with many locations. The difference between ASP and other pool service chains is that they are owned by local families. That means ASP Frisco is owned by a local Frisco family and when you hire them to clean your pool, you get to support them. Since they own their business, they are dedicated to providing their neighbors with quality services. They have many before and after pictures on their website and their Facebook and Instagram profiles. Instead of hiring one of the corporate chains, support a local family and have them clean your pool.

Frisco Mercantile

You didn’t think I would write a post about Frisco businesses and not mention the Frisco Mercantile, did you? The Frisco Mercantile opened their doors in 2007 and have been very successful ever since. They are very different than the other businesses mentioned in this blog post because they are a home for different small businesses to sell their products. Many different business owners, who are often Frisco locals, will pay Frisco Mercantile a fee to sell their products. This means you are supporting multiple Frisco families with just one purchase. How amazing!

Adam Aleksander

Adam Aleksander is a high-end men’s clothing store located on The Star Boulevard. They have styling consultants who provide a luxury styling experience. Expect to feel like a king when you walk in their doors as they give each client a custom experience. Their only location is in Frisco, making it convenient for men who need luxury clothing items.

Local Businesses in Frisco TX

Summer Moon Coffee

Who doesn’t love a local coffee shop? It’s a known fact that local coffee shops use higher quality beans than large coffee shop chains *cough cough*. Summer Moon Coffee has beautiful wood-fired coffee in historic downtown Frisco. This is the perfect location for those early mornings trying on wedding dresses at the Blushing Bride Boutique! Summer Moon has a beautiful shop that is very warm and inviting. Don’t miss out!

Local Businesses in Frisco

There are dozens of local businesses in Frisco, I just wanted to highlight some that stood out to me. When looking for high-quality services or items, always shop local. With all of the large corporate businesses in Frisco today, these local businesses rely on quality to keep them open. For more local businesses in Frisco, visit the Frisco Chamber of Commerce website. If I missed a great local business, please leave it in the comments below so others can enjoy it too!

 

*The above opinions are my own. I was not asked to mention any of the businesses above, I decided to on my own. I would never advertise a business if I was not confident in their abilities. Shopping local is very important to me as I love to support my neighbors.

An Honest It Works Cleanse Review

If you clicked on this blog post, chances are you have been contacted by an It Works distributor to try their 48 Hour Cleanse. I know it can be hard to trust someone who is trying to sell you a product. I get it. That’s why I am writing this honest review about my experience doing the cleanse.

Before we get into the review, I also have reviews over the It Works Keto Coffee and the It Works Wraps. You can click those words to be brought to those blog posts. Now, onto my honest It Works Cleanse Review!

The Taste

This is what we’re all wondering, right? To be honest, I really enjoyed the taste of the It Works Cleanse. It’s refreshing and almost bubbly. It’s on the sweeter side and does not taste like vegetables. I’m not sure why It Works distributors use captions like “You just have to chug this product for two days!” That implies that the product that’s bad when in reality, it doesn’t.

It Works Cleanse Review

The Ingredients

There are tons of great ingredients in this cleanse. I counted 36 different fruits and vegetable complied into this little drink. But, there are three different preservatives in this drink. The preservatives are potassium sorbate, sodium hexametaphosphate, and sodium benzoate. Obviously, we shouldn’t be filling our bodies with a large amount of preservatives. However, the number of great ingredients may outweigh the negative of the three preservatives.

What the Cleanse Does

The It Works distributor that contacted you probably used the phrase “Get rid of up to 10 pounds of sludge”. So obviously, this product is meant to remove the yucky leftovers that are not meant to linger around. I’ve had some people ask me, “Does it make you get sick to your stomach?” or more bluntly, “Does it make you have diarrhea?” For me, my answer is no. I experience no tummy gurgles or abnormalities when using the restroom. I pray this doesn’t happen to you if you try the product, but keep in mind that every body reacts to ingredients differently. I just felt “flushed out” and the frequency of restroom usage was increased (if you know what I mean).

I’m not sure of any scientific research that proves this cleanse removes toxicity or “yuckiness” from the body, but with all of those fruits and vegetables, it must do something good. It’s definitely one of those products where it can’t do more harm than good, so if you can afford it, why not try it out.

It Works cleanse Review

The Results

I just looked a lot less bloated from taking this cleanse. It is recommended by It Works to eat the same amount of food, so I did. I usually bloat quite a bit after eating, but I did notice I was much less bloated afterward. Did I lose weight? Probably not. I don’t own a scale, so I can’t tell you for sure.

The results I saw were very similar to the results shown in the picture below. A lot less bloating. You are flushing your system, after all. I think it’s a great product to use if you consumed too much sodium eating hot dogs and nachos at the sports game, or went to a tailgate and ate way too much barbeque food.

Cleanse Photo

I don’t recommend taking this cleanse to lose weight. You will gain it back as the results are not long term. I also do not recommend taking this product to bloat less at a special event. You don’t know how this product will affect your body, and you don’t want to be stuck in the restroom as your best friend’s wedding.

The Price

The retail price for the entire two day cleanse is $60. When you become a Loyal Customer, you get 40% off all of It Works products. That brings the price for the entire cleanse to $36. I have found that most cleanses are expensive, and with the 40%, this cleanse is in the middle range of prices.

That wraps up my It Works Cleanse review! The cleanse works, but don’t expect results to be long term. If you can afford it, and if the three preservatives don’t bother you, then give it a go! If it’s out of your price range, then you can live without it. Consider buying a green smoothie from your local smoothie shop if you want a large serving of vegetables in drink form.

Continue reading An Honest It Works Cleanse Review

Things to Do When Your Military S.O. Is Away

Whether if you’re a girlfriend, fiancee, or wife (or vice versa for males), when your significant other leaves for several weeks or months, it’s hard. Really hard. Especially when talking with them is extremely limited. There are many ways you can make the time go by faster and take your mind off missing them.

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1. Volunteer

There are so many ways you can volunteer in your local community. I personally volunteer at my local church and food bank. You can volunteer at a homeless shelter, animal shelter, hospital, youth program, and so much more.

I’m willing to bet there is something you are passionate about, so use that passion and make a difference. Many of these places rely on volunteers to stay open. Make a quick Google search and see how you can help out your community. I feel so humbled when I volunteer, and it’s one thing to look forward to each week.

2. Take Care of Their Things

If you do not live with your significant other, set aside some time each week to clean up their home. Can you imagine being gone for several months and coming back to a house filled with dust and germs? I make sure I clean my boyfriend’s apartment at least every other week so it stays clean for him.

If you do live with them, you can wash their car while they’re gone. Cars can get so dirty when they sit for several months. It’s also good to start vehicles every week or so. Spend some time hand washing your S.O.’s car or truck and make sure it doesn’t need any servicing.

3. Hang Out With Friends

I’m mostly preaching to the introverts out there. It can be easy to sit at home and block out the rest of the world when you’re dealing with something. I know I’ve been there. Ask a friend to coffee or dinner at least once a week. At first you may think, I’m so upset, the last thing I want to do is get ready and see people. The truth is, you feel great afterward. Time flies when you’re having a great conversation with a good friend.

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4. Get Healthy!

The most common excuse for not working out is a lack of time. Now that your S.O. is away and you have time on your hands, make a point to get in shape. Spend at least an hour a day walking, running, or lifting weights. You can also spend time making your own healthy meals at home, instead of spending money on unhealthy fast-food.

If you have read my blog before, you know that I consider mental health as general health. When you have a cold, you go and see the doctor. When you aren’t feeling great mentally, you should also see a professional. If you are having a hard time coping with your S.O. being away, visit a counselor once a week. Take care of yourself!

5. Spend Time in Prayer

You may feel lonely. You may be overwhelmed with worry and sadness. If you are a believer, God promises us that we can turn to Him as a refuge. He promises that He will give us comfort when we turn to Him. Take this hard time and turn it into a way to develop your relationship with God.

6. Vlog

When my boyfriend is gone, I do a weekly vlog for him. We have found that it helps him not feel so out of the loop once he gets back. It also helps me because I feel like I’m talking to him as I’m talking to the camera. At first, you may feel ridiculous filming yourself as you get dinner, but it becomes second nature.

The great thing about vlogging is that you get to keep the memories forever. You can show your kids what life is like when Dad or Mom is gone. You get to document all of the raw emotions you felt when your S.O. was gone.

7. Send Them Mail

If the whole vlog thing doesn’t sound very fun, try doing a daily journal. You can mail them your entries once a week and it will help them stay in the loop. Even when you do the vlog, you should still make a point to send them letters and care packages. They appreciate you thinking of them when they are gone. My boyfriend has said that when he gets mail, it completely boosts his morale and his mood.

Some Encouragement

If you are reading this because your S.O. is gone, I want you to know that I am praying for you. If you would like to request a prayer, feel free to leave a comment below or contact me through email or social media. I am always open to talking with my readers, especially when we have something so big in common.

You can do this. You are doing something that most people couldn’t do. Some people underestimate the strength and courage of a military S.O., but I know it is one of the hardest things. Stay strong and thank you for the sacrifice you have made as a military S.O.

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Jesus Forgives My Sins, So I Can Do Whatever I Want, Right?​

Wrong.

This blog post is going to step on some toes. It’s going to be convicting. I hope that if you feel offended by what I say in this blog post, you will recognize it as conviction rather than getting mad at me. I’ve lost friends over this topic, but the Truth has to be spoken.

Sinning vs. Living in Sin

There’s a huge difference between sinning and living in sin. We cannot continue with this topic without discussing the two. I also want to be clear about the difference, so feel free to comment a question if you have one.

What is Sin?

While the definition of sin seems to vary from pastor to pastor and from website to website, we can all agree that sin is something that goes against the Word of God. There are the 10 Commandments, which we can look to as a general list of sins to avoid committing. There are many other things that go against the Word of God, like doing drugs, watching pornography, judging others, and more. If you study the Bible and read through the Words of Jesus, you will get a great idea of what sin is. All sins are equal in God’s eyes, which is important to note as well.

Once you accept Jesus as your Savior, you should avoid sinning at all costs. As humans, sin unfortunately lives inside of us. There’s not a single human being on this planet who hasn’t sinned except Jesus Christ himself. I sin, you sin, your pastor sins, we all sin. And guess what, Jesus died for us to receive Grace, so we are forgiven for our sins. We are forgiven for the sin we committed 10 years ago, and we’re forgiven for the sin we commit in 10 years. This is great news because followers of Jesus are going to go to Heaven! But, should we take advantage of this Grace and lie, steal, cheat, do drugs, and continue to live in sin? No.

What is Living in Sin?

Living in sin is living for yourself and for the world. It’s living as if you do not believe in Jesus. You can absolutely believe in Jesus Christ but continue to live in sin, which is very important to know. Do you make zero effort to steer clear from sin and temptation? Do you still do recreational drugs and partake in sexual sin frequently? Do you wear promiscuous outfits to get the opposite gender to notice you? Do you still cuss during every single conversation you have? You may be living in sin still.

Again, we all make mistakes. To be transparent, instead of saying, “Oh my gosh,” I accidentally said, “Oh my God” just this past Friday. That’s blaspheme that I committed. As soon as it came out of my mouth, I repented for my sin because I felt horrible. If you say the ‘a’ word on complete accident one day, if you make a huge mistake and fall back into sexual addiction, as long as you truly repent for that sin, you are forgiven.

What’s the Difference?

In my opinion (which could be completely wrong and I will find out when I go to Heaven one day), sin is the accidental or unplanned mistake against the Word of God due to temptation. Once someone commits a sin, they repent for their sin because they regret defying God. Living in sin is the purposeful, way of life that defies the Word of God where frequent sinning occurs. With living in sin, there is a lack of forgiveness and repentance once sin occurs as well. I hope that makes sense. I do not want to shame a fellow sinner and make them feel as if they are living in sin when they are not.

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Jesus Forgave My Sins. Can I Live in Sin Anyways?

NO. Please do not continue to live in sin. When you continue to live in sin, you are allowing Satan to win and control your life. As a believer in Jesus, you should strive to have Him control your life and live for Him.

Will I go to Heaven Either Way?

I cannot answer this question. Only God knows the answer to this question. I can tell you what the Bible says about this topic though.

Jesus made it very clear that he forgives all sins if you accept Him as Lord and if you repent for your sins. If you remember what I said about living in sin, those people do not feel any regret for their sins, nor do they seek God for forgiveness.

“Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.’” Mark 1:14-15 NKJV

Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit…'” Acts 2:38 NKJV

The Bible is clear, you must repent for your sins and truly feel sorry for defying God’s Word. You may be thinking. Okay, I’ll sin and just say sorry and I’ll be fine. This worldly mentality has been spoken about by Jesus Himself.

“But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say? Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock. But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great.” Luke 6:46-49

So, according to Jesus, if you accept Him as Lord but continue to live in the ways of the world, you will fall like a house with no foundation. So please, stop living in sin. Hear the Word of God and change. Jesus does not say that those who continue to live for the world go to Hell, but His commands are clear. Even if Jesus said “If you continue to sin without repentance but still believe in Me, you will go to Heaven” you still shouldn’t. As a follower of Christ, you are called to put aside your life for Him.

Following vs. Believing

You have probably heard both “following Jesus” and “believing in Jesus”. Let’s be clear about this: You can believe in Jesus but not follow Him, but Jesus calls you to do both.

“Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. Matthew 16:24-25 NKJV

My goal of this blog post is to bring awareness of the difference between these two common words. Please, ask yourself, Am I following Jesus along with believing in Him? If you hesitate, you might be living in sin. The great news is, it’s never too late to change your life and be a follower of Christ. Jesus did not come to judge us, but he came to save us.

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Please feel free to let me know what you think about this topic. Did I get it right? Are there some things I didn’t get right? I hope this blog post was helpful and convicting. Jesus loves you no matter what, and I hope I made that point clear in this post. If you’re ready to dive into your relationship with God, I have a blog post that will give you a quick guide on how to get started.

10 Working From Home Tips to Keep You Productive and Happy

When God put it on my heart to work from home, one of my biggest fears was that I would become an unproductive hermit. I am also aware that I have a horrible habit of isolating myself from the world. I’m here to report that I am still an extroverted, social butterfly, who is very productive at my four jobs (praise Jesus honestly!). Here are my top 10 working from home tips so you can do the same.

1. Routine, Routine, Routine

Setting a daily or bi-daily routine was crucial for my productivity (your girl likes to watch YouTube, okay?). I highly recommend using Microsoft’s Outlook Calendar because you can use it on both your phone and computer. You can easily edit your appointments and meetings for the day, and it sends you helpful reminders for your activities coming up. I have a tangible paper planner that I use as well, but unfortunately in 2019, tangible planners can’t send you notifications.

I have just about every single activity scheduled on my calendar. Here’s a look at my daily routine according to my Outlook calendar:

6:00 AM – Coffee and Bible Time

6:45 AM – School Work

8:15 AM – Freelance Work

9:00 AM – Break or Walk (I’ll explain this later)

10:15 AM – Different Freelance Work

12:00 AM – Lunch!

1:30 PM – More Freelance Work

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I do blog work at 3:00 PM, and just keep writing until I get writer’s block. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Friday, I will either do more school work, or I will go do something fun like laundry or grocery shop.

Setting an hourly schedule and managing my time keeps me accountable and helps me to remember all that I have to get done in the day. I’m not going to lie, it helps my ego a little bit knowing that I got so many tasks done (I want to say I’m kidding, but I’m not).

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2. Take a Break

One of the most important working from home tips I have is this one. I take over an hour-long break to take my dog for a walk, watch YouTube, do my nails,  meet with a friend, whatever I want to do. One of the amazing things about doing freelance work is that I’m able to take long breaks like this. If you have a job where you cannot take such long breaks, then I recommend taking 15 to 20 minutes breaks throughout the day to take a quick walk around the block, pet your dog, or even just make some fresh coffee. Don’t brush this tip off, because it’s important for your mental health to take time to not focus on work.

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3. Socialize

This point is geared toward the introverts who need the extra reminder, or those like me who have a bad habit of isolating themselves. Schedule time to socialize with people other than your significant other and your dog (I’ve mentioned dogs three times already… oops). Even if this means only serving at church and talking to the cashier at the store. Make a point to socialize and have fun. I try to meet with at least one friend a week for coffee, in addition to my other socializing activities. Don’t become a hermit. Been there, done that, it’s sucky.

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4. Get the Proper Equipment

If you’re reading this, I’m guessing you work from your computer or laptop. If you are working from home, you should have a designated workspace and great equipment. After two days of working from home, I realized typing on my laptop hurt my neck and made me have a double-chin from looking down. So I ordered this Bluetooth rechargeable keyboard and this Bluetooth rechargeable (rose gold) mouse. Being comfortable and happy is priceless, but both of those combined were about $30.

5. Fill Your Kitchen Healthy Foods

Working from home gives you two opportunities. You can eat healthy because you’re not getting free donuts in the office, or you can be unhealthy and eat an entire bag of Doritos every day. Don’t even let the temptation of eating unhealthy food creep in, and stock up on cashews, veggies, hummus, and your other favorite healthy snacks.

6. Work Out

I’m sorry, I had to do it. You don’t have to go to the gym and power lift to work out. As mentioned earlier, go for a walk and get your heart rate up. Do some yoga. Go on YouTube and look up some at home workouts. Just do something to get your heart rate up.

7. Listen to Music

By music, I mean music that’s good for your soul. I love listening to worship music when I’m working. You should steer clear of worldly music anyways, but listen to uplifting music to make your workday more pleasant.

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8. Get Out of Your Pajamas

Sitting around in your pajamas is super comfortable, but it may decrease your productivity. I always feel more productive when I change out of my pajamas and start working. It can really mess with my mindset if I’m still wearing the clothes I slept it. I’m not saying put on real clothes, leggings are my daily attire, but just change your clothes to change your mindset.

9. Open Your Windows

Let the outside world break its way into your home by opening your windows. The first thing I do is open my blinds in the morning and I let the natural sunlight shine in. I find that this boosts my mood and my eyes feel better when they’re not relying on artificial light.

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10. Recognize Your Blessings

Yep, I did it again. Working from home is an incredible blessing that a lot of people wish they could do. You don’t have a long commute. You don’t have to deal with (as much) office drama. You can sing as loud as you want to. God placed you in your position, and there’s a reason for that. If you aren’t exactly pleased with working from home, then pray and ask God to guide you in your career. You got this.

Thanks for reading! I have a blog post that lists eight ways you can increase your productivity this year that you may find helpful. Do you have any working from home tips to share? Let everyone know what your secret to being productive and happy is in the comments below!

Psalm 91: Making God Your Refuge

“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’ Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked. If you say, ‘The Lord is my refuge,’ and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. ‘Because he loves me,’ says the Lord, ‘I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.'” Psalm 91:1-16 NIV

What does it mean to make the Lord your refuge?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “refuge” as a “shelter or protection from danger or distress.” Psalm 91 repeatedly tells believers to make God their refuge–their protection from distress. All throughout the Bible, you hear stories of Jesus healing, saving, and protecting His followers. He even calmed a storm and saved His disciples from dying in a boat wreck! If you believe in Jesus, you should trust Him to save you just like He did in the stories we read in the Bible.

How do you make God your refuge?

It’s human instinct to yell for help when we’re in distress. Remember when you were a kid on the playground and a huge bee flew near you? You would let out that horrifying scream that surprised every adult that such a small person could make such a horrible noise. Now that we’re older, we still find ourselves in distress. Stress from our job, anger at one of our family members, (and maybe a little bit of road rage) are some common causes of distress. When we feel that stirring in our mind that makes our hearts pound, we must take refuge in the Lord. Call on His name as soon as possible. Say, “Lord, be my refuge and protect me. Shelter me. Save me.”

When do I call on Him?

You should call on Him any time the idea pops into your head. God does not get annoyed with His followers. He wants us to call on Him and he does not get angry with us when we trust in Him. The Lord is faithful and will not abandon us because we call on Him “too much”. If you’re anything like me, you may get a little bit insecure and feel too needy when you call on God for reasons that are less than distressing or dangerous. The Truth is, the Bible calls on believers to do this in so many verses (Psalm 91 for example).

Call on God whenever you’re scared, stressed out, anxious, sad, and even when you’re happy. He cares for you greatly and will draw near to you when you call on Him.

What will happen?

Psalm 91 says, “[God] will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.” These are some big promises made by the Bible. It continues to say, “no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.” I don’t know about you, but the words that I bolded are words that I find comfort in. Reading these promises make me emotional because I can feel God’s love for me.

When you call on the Lord to rescue you from whatever is causing you discomfort or distress, he promises that he will protect you. He may not deliver these promises in the way you expected. The Lord works in mysterious ways and He does have a plan for you. It may be difficult, but do not get angry with God when He does not save you “the right way”. His way is the right way.

Prayer: God, You are so good. Thank you for promising me that You will be my refuge whenever I call on You. Please help me and guide me to call on You the next time I am in a bad situation. I trust You and I want to put my comfort in You and not worldly things. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Did you like this devotional? Let me know what you took away from it and give me feedback in a reply below! If you’re looking to read more, try reading my blog post, “Dive Into Your Relationship with God: A Guide for Development“.

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