Be Mine, Valentine!

What a sweet day filled with LOVE

Happy Valentines day sweet friends! You are so loved by a God so much bigger than anyone or anything. I hope, you know that more then ever. 

Enjoy these Valentines with all the ones you love! 
Download or Screenshot these sweet cards to share with your gals & guy! 

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!
1 John 3:1

Intentional Living Today

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As I'm sure you've seen by now, the month of February has introduced something amazing; and no, I am not talking about the chocolate and candy hearts that have filled the aisles in Target. If you follow us on social media, hopefully, you've seen the #IntentionalLivingToday challenges we've been posting. Each day, early in the morning, we're posting a 'challenge of the day'. Each one is designed to push the boundaries of your heart and lead you to love others well. Really, it's as simple as it sounds: we post, you serve!

With each new challenge, you'll notice not every task will apply to the specific season of life you're currently in: maybe it's a post geared towards moms and you don't have children, or it's focused on serving your coworkers but your only colleague is your little baby...make it your own! Allow each of the days to challenge your heart. No coworker? Love on your neighbor instead! 

Serve like Jesus...Love like Jesus. 

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This little challenge is just a small part of The Journal of Intentional Living. Throughout the journal, Intentional Living Today, is a running theme. In the quiet time section, 'Intentional Living Today' is a space to set one intention, which sets your mind and heart for your day.  There is so much joy in getting your mind off of yourself and loving others.  As women, we can lay down at night, reflect on our entire day and not be able to think of one thing we did right (but oh how the thief reminds us of all we didn't do).  Not any more!  You can rest well knowing you brightened someone else's day through your intentional living.  Let this be a space to grow and challenge the boundaries of your heart comfort zone.

We'd love for you to join along with us! Each day, peek at our Instagram story to see that day's challenge. Then, at some point in your day, complete the task. If you feel led, share a picture using the hashtag #IntentionalLivingToday on your social media to let others know you're joining in. We are expectant that God will work big in our hearts this month. 

 
 

Heavenly Father,

You sent your Son to serve. You sent Him to give His life for me. Let that same spirit of service and love awaken in me. Let me not seek gain, instead show me how to let others go before me. Make me humble, so I can give my life away like Jesus: willfully, obediently, and faithfully.

Amen. 

#ATLMRKT

Hey Friends!!

 Peak at the backdrop of the main stage...looks like ours, Laura is ahead of the design trends!

How good it feels to be home; baby & puppy snuggles were definitely missed! If you've been following along with us this past week, you'll know we've gotten our foot in the door with retailers across the country at AmericasMart, a huge trade show in Atlanta, that retailers attend & purchase items for their stores. There are so many treasures to be found, and let me tell you, we found them! The Living Joy team met amazing new friends, learned a TON and laughed even more. Our goal when planning what our space would look like was to bring a breath of fresh air to a place of busy & that's exactly what we did! 

 

Thinking about going yourself as a wholesaler?

Here's our list of 11 things you NEED to know before you go... 

1 - COMFY SHOES! COMFY SHOES! COMFY SHOES! Let me scream this one from the rooftops! You're doing a lot of standing/walking, so those dogs will be barking if you don't wear the right shoe! 

2 - BE PREPARED: It comes and goes so quick. We were ready for Market about a month ahead. We had everything we needed & were ready to set up. Plan, make a list, & plan some more (& make another list, lol). Having everything ready to go allowed our setup to be really quick and easy. We had our booth design & everything we needed to make it happen way in advance. So, once the day arrived to put it all together, it was a breeze! 

3 - GET A HOTEL CLOSE BY. We stayed a little less than a mile away, and this was wonderful. However, since we had some bad weather, walking was not possible. My hubs, Greg, was such a trooper & drove us right up to the door each morning. There are connecting hotels that allow you to just walk through a tunnel & you're there, we'll do this next time!

4 - HAVE A TALKING POINT. We had pens, really pretty pens, made prior to the show. This + our information pamphlet (with all our info on it) was an amazing way to catch peoples attention. It was an easy way to better serve potential retailers. Also, sweet Mary Blair passed them out in the freezing cold, bringing those in who might not have passed by otherwise. 

5- BE INTUITIVE. I am a HUGE rule follower. Like, HUGE! However, there are always ways around guidelines. Making time (& your team) work in your favor allows for quicker setup & tear down. Instead of waiting hours to load and unload our uhaul, we took a few trips with our hand truck which was parked in a nearby lot; pure genius.

6 - LAUGH MUCH! Man, I wish you could have been a fly on the wall in our hotel room. Now looking back, I'm not sure if it was the lack of sleep or the pure comic genius each of is, but the Living Joy team did NOT stop laughing. 

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7 - BRING GOOD FRIENDS: Yall, my sweet hubs, best friend & our LJ creative director joined forces together and rocked this week; and what a crew we were! Seriously, Mary Blair (my bff) & Laura became besties! Not only did this make the trip more enjoyable, but these three are passionate about what Living Joy stands for. Their hearts are in it for the long run. God worked through the Living Joy team. They served like Jesus! It's true what they say, time flies by when you're having fun.

8 - MAKE GOOD FRIENDS! & we really did! There are so many others bringing the Lord to the marketplace, and this brings me such joy. It's encouraging to know that we are not alone in this fight. Our business is not for our flesh, but for eternity; we are growing the kingdom one journal, tee shirt, tattoo & card at a time!  Our hearts are all about community; look for a post soon about who we met.

9 - WOMEN NEED QUIET TIME. Now, I know I'm extra passionate about quiet time, after all, that's what pushed me to start LJ in the first place; but, if there is one thing you take away from this is that YOU WILL NEED TIME AWAY. 10 hour days are no joke. It's like you have to "be on" and ready to go at all times. It is physically and mentally draining. Time alone with Jesus is needed. Take time away with Him. Trust me, you'll thank me later! #RestInHim

10 - EAT WELL! Next to coffee, there is only one thing that's a must: ya gotta eat! Why not eat well! Here's a list of our favorite bites in downtown ATL:

- Antico - the BEST brick oven pizza (& I LOVE brick oven...this stuff is good!)
- STATS - "Voted the best sports bar in ATL" for a reason! Such good food, even better beer. It was a great way to catch up on the NFL playoffs! Get the hummus, you won't regret it! Also, they have beer taps on the tables, how fun is that!
Max's - Because pizza once a week is never enough! This time it was cooked in a coal oven...& it was soooo yummy.
- Polaris - This restaurant is atop a hotel; it spins around the city & with 360-degree views of ATL & such delicious food, this is a must. 

11 - IT'S ALL IN GOD'S HANDS. After all, we were at Market to sell our journals to retailers. My one hope for the show was to see if others were receptive to the idea of our journal. I know I love it, but would others? & they did! It makes my heart happy to know other women desire to walk alongside Living Joy to bring simplicity & intention to time with Jesus. I am so excited to announce we are in 10 states & over 20 retailers! 

take a peek inside our booth

Until next time ATL,

 
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Let Us (Re)Introduce Ourselves!

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Hello! You may have stumbled on this through a happy accident or maybe you've been a "Living Joy" lover for a while now! Either way, I am so glad you're here! 2018 is going to be a big year for us here at LJ & I am so excited to see it all unfold. We've spent time planning, preparing, and praying over this company & are expectant that The Lord's hands are in it all! If you've never heard of Living Joy & you've come to learn more, welcome! If you've gone through a journal (or two!) already & are excited to get your hands on another copy, welcome back! 

The Journal of Intentional Living was created with each and every woman in mind. Mom, grandmother, daughter, friend...it has intentionally been designed to meet women right where they are in life & encourage their quiet time with God. We believe that, just like any relationship, God desires time spent with Him, focused on intimacy and growth.  

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The journal is broken into eight different sections. All the times you need a journal: quiet times, church, bible study, prayer...now its all in one space! No more shuffling through church bulletins and sticky-notes to remember that important thought you jotted down! 

I can hardly wait to share more about The Journal of Intentional Living with you! Joining our newsletter gets you a front row seat to everything we're up to (all the good stuff!) and special resources designed to grow your relationship with The Lord! I'm glad you're here!

 

Love,

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Advice to New Christians

I've enjoyed going along side women and encouraging them in their personal relationship with Christ.  I have met so many women that want this personal and intimate relationship, but aren't sure exactly what to do.  That is the beauty of it.  There's not a list of rules to follow and not to follow.  It's your own.  It's your personal daily communion with God. 

Many of these women are enjoying the new beauty of turning their life to Christ - those first years of salvation.  This transformation is a funeral to yourself the day you surrender.  The word funeral is scary really, but it is truly the best description of what happens.  And trust me, if you were/are anything like me, I was ecstatic to die to myself because I was screwing up everything on my own anyways!

I've been researching about advice for New Christians, what to expect, recommendations and I loved this blog post by Frank Viola from  "Beyond Evangelical".  http://frankviola.org/2013/07/17/advice-to-new-christians/

This is a list of 12 recommendations that go beyond read the Bible, pray regularly, join a church for you new sisters in Christ.  Since I am in my early years I will also describe how I have implemented these recommendations in my own walk with Jesus.  My prayer is they will be helpful to you as you continue on your journey.

1. Christians will break your heart. The greatest pain you will receive will be at the hands of fellow and professing believers.

Heartbreaking.  How sad but true.  I have had more Christians hurt and reject me personally and professionally than non Christians.  Judgmental, holier than thou attitudes, self righteous Christians exist in packs.  It is not a representation of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  If you have experienced this, my best advice is always respond to evil with good.  Look to Jesus in how to respond:  love, love, love.  If you think that is weak.  Try it - it's harder than you think.   

On the contrary, I have also found Christians to be the most forgiving and loving people.  A time in my previous marriage, I returned home and my family didn't just open the door and welcome me home - they ran and met me in the driveway.  I had hurt them all.  They would have every right not to open the door.  Truly, it was the story of the prodigal son (daughter in my case) in current times.  I will never forget the way they greeted me, hugged me, didn't ask questions.  Only crying, "How can we not forgive you as God forgives us?"  My life changed, I came to know Jesus, this blog was birthed and is helping hundreds of women all because my family gave me the same grace Jesus had given them.  I witnessed an unconditional love that I knew didn't come from them - it came only from above.

2. Not everyone who professes Christ knows Him. The fruit of real faith is love – treating all others the same way you want to be treated.

I accepted Christ in 9th grade but didn't know Him until 3 years ago.  I didn't know Him.  I didn't know His word.  And from an outsider looking in, it was obvious, because I bore no fruit.  I loved, but not if you did me wrong.  I never had joy - only happiness.  Joy is much deeper and based on faith not circumstances.  Peace was only after I finished a bottle of wine and the list of my unfruitfulness goes on. 

Matthew 7:16 says you will know one by His fruit.  Now, I hold tight to "Love your neighbor as yourself".  Not just your best friend and family but the person that drives you nuts at work, the mom that you cannot stand to be around, the sinner that doesn't need more judgment but to be loved.  Not just the people it is convenient for you to love.  Treat ALL others the same way you want to be treated.  No exceptions.

3. God will not meet all of your expectations and will sometimes appear not to fulfill His own promises.

Ok, God...I have surrendered.  I confess with my mouth and believe it in my heart.  NOW, can I get what I want?!  God's ways are higher than our ways and thoughts higher than our thoughts.  Thank goodness - maybe now, but definitely not when you are going "through" the yuck.  If I would have gotten everything I was praying, more like begging or even telling God years ago - I now know - it wasn't His BEST for me and HE was preparing something better during the storm.  Maybe He is doing the same for you now.  There is no storm so deep that the arm of God can not reach you out of and set you in a better place than you were before.  NONE.

4. You will experience dry spells where there is no sense of God’s presence. Learn to live by faith, not feelings.

For months I heard, "Be Still and know I am God".  It is fine for a day or two, but when you feel forgotten you become unsettled and lose trust.  During recent dry spells I think, what was the last thing God pulled me out of or saved me from.  Or maybe reflect on the last answered prayer.  Living in His faithfulness will help us step over our feelings and live by faith.  God saved me from myself and I will never ever forget it.  Mine was so dark that anytime I go through dry spells...I Know - that I Know - that I Know...God is always listening and is FAITHFUL.  He is always present in our lives.

5. Build a library and read the best Christian books in print. Don’t waste your time on “pop” Christian books. Go for depth.

I'm always reading a book with Christian teaching that relates to what season in life I'm in.  I've also found I love reading books to prepare for future seasons.  I've ordered some mothering books recently.  I'm not sure how God has planned me to be a mother:  maybe my own, maybe adopting, or maybe raising kids at church, in the neigborhood or loving my nieces and nephews.  His will - not mine, but if I'm going to be a Godly mother in any role - I need some Christian education now.  =)

6. Write your goals down (goals = dreams = prayer requests). And document when a prayer/goal is answered/fulfilled

I have loved the prayer section of the Journal of Intentional Living for this very reason.  I can write down what's on my heart and write in His answers when they're fulfilled or maybe not fulfilled.  One of my greatest joys is to read prayers from days or even years ago and see God's faithfulness in it.  It is a beautiful beautiful thing.  Living in a mind frame of His faithfulness brings contentment.  Contentment brings Joy.  And Joy is the place He calls us to live from.

7. Never judge another Christian unless you’ve walked in their shoes. Always think the best of others (Matthew 7:12).

I heard Joyce Meyer preach not to judge and only give an opinion when asked.  This advice has done me well over the years.  I fall short often and when I'm quick to judge the person that cuts me off in traffic my initial reaction that God has taught me to do..."She/He is a child of God.  Made in Your image and I am called to LOVE and not judge."  It turns my limited judgmental prideful mind back to truth and right thinking. 

8. Choose a mentor, but never choose one who is insecure, speaks negatively about others, and has an inflated ego.

Jenny, or I call her my soul sista' is my sister I call on to pray and for advice on the daily.  She is a constant encouragement and faithful prayer warrior.  We both grew up in the same town and didn't know each other until we moved a city 60 miles away and ten years later.  There was no mistake God knitted our hearts together.  She is a huge blessing in my life.  I also listen to many other older women teachings:  Beth Moore, Joyce Meyer, Christine Caine, Lisa Bevere, Lysa Terkeurst, to name a few.  My other mentor, is my pastor Lisa.  Once you've joined a church get to know someone on staff that you can go to.   They are educated in theology and can help you in real life circumstances using truth.  I call on her so much for advice and guidance in everyday life.

9. Some of the things you struggle with now you will struggle with when you are old. Resist condemnation (Romans 8:1).

Anything God is working in you and through you is by the power of the Spirit and comes through conviction.  Conviction should bring awareness, but only lift you up higher.  It should not bring you down.  Recently, I was convicted of backing out of things I had on my calendar based on my feelings at the moment.  I canceled at least one thing a week because I was tired and didn't feel like it.  It might have been Bible study or workout or dinner with a friend.  I sat with God and really worked out my schedule with what He was calling me to do.  I was overscheduled and it was no wonder I couldn't do it all.  Now, if it's on my calendar - I've talked with God about it and unless I am sick or a last minute emergency - I am there.  This could have condemned me, "Why can Sally Sue do all that she's doing and I cannot".  We all have different rhythms of life and God is helping me find mine.  I signed up for 3 Bible Studies this Spring.  When I began them, each was getting a little bit, but none were getting my best.  God convicted me and I had to drop one of them.  I could have felt like a failure, instead when you struggle in an area with God on your side, it should only encourage you and lift you up.

10. Many of the answers you have now will prove inadequate later in life. Always be a student and a child in is the Kingdom.

We are God's children.  He wants us to continue to come to Him with childlike faith.  The only way to continue to mature in your sanctification is to learn and grow in the Bible.  I have a Study Bible - I've had it for years.  I have scribbled, highlighted, and wrote notes all over it.  It is my favorite possession I own.  However, when I start a new Bible Study or go to a conference I bring a new clean Bible so I learn the material in a new way.  Scripture can mean something to you in one season and mean something completely else in a different season.

11. Never bluff an answer to someone’s biblical or theological question if you don’t know the answer. Learn to say “I don’t know.”

We aren't called to know everything.  I was so thankful, when I began Living Joy, a woman told me - you don't have to know everything Mary.  I don't and I never will.  And I'm ok with it.  The best thing you can do is be honest.

12. Discover who you are in Christ and learn what it means to live by His indwelling life.

I had such low self esteem when I first began my walk with Christ.  Mainly due to my self worth coming from self accomplishments and outside beauty.  Learning who I AM in Christ was one of the first things God did with me.  I recited these scriptures every morning and out loud, looking at my image in the bathroom mirror.  I noticed when negative thoughts came to mind during the day - I would cast them out with the I AM's.  I started believing these on the inside and living them on the outside.  Oh, it is a beautiful thing to know who God made you to be!  I would encourage anyone that suffers from negative self talk, depression, anxiety, people pleasing - to write these truths on your heart!

 

I've had so much fun sharing my personal advice for new Christians.  I pray for you to continue to walk closely with Jesus and live the life He died for you to live.  If you ever have any questions or need guidance please send me an email at livingjoytoday@gmail.com.  I would love to hear from you!  It is a blessing and my honor to serve you!

Love,

Mary