day sixteen : top 20 declarations

Originally published Friday, 17 October 2014.

i know i'm likely not alone in my mega girl-crush status on the extremely inspiring lara casey. i am completely captivated by her. not because southern weddings is incredible and i'd give every limb on my body to be a part of that team, but because she's genuine and humble and because even though she's accomplished so much, she's unbelievably open about how and why she's accomplished it, and the answer is Jesus. she inspires me and so many other women and she captures everything i want to be when i grow up. a devoted wife and mother, a creative entrepreneur, an artist, an author, and a passionate follower of The Lord's calling on her life. i am so unbelievably excited about her new book, make it happen, because i swear it was written exactly for me.

today, her extremely popular powersheets came available for pre-order and i received an email from her site sharing the importance of intentionally saying yes and intentionally saying no. i think the word intentional is one of those annoying over-used christian words, but i also think that's partially because it's so unbelievably important. especially for people like me who are such over-analytical people pleasers and who struggle to say yes to the right things, no to the wrong things and to stop worrying about trying to do everything. i had no idea what to blog about tonight and then i read lara's email about saying yes and no. she even asked a pointed question in her email - a rhetorical one of course - but i felt like The Lord was speaking her questions directly to me. "living on purpose is worth saying no so you can say yes. what about you? what are you saying no to? what are you saying yes to? i encourage you to make a no/yes list today and see how it helps you focus on what matters."

so guess what? it's top twenty day on bbb (blooming branch blog) and you can probably guess what that means. not using the words "want to", "try to" or "going to" on this list was extremely challenging, but i am saying YES to being bolder in all areas of my life. that doesn't allow for lukewarm verbs and i say NO to using them. so, here goes. my first yes/no declarations:

1. i say YES to intimacy with The Lord. activity for Him is not the same as intimacy for Him. even if i say no to literally everything else, i am saying YES to this.

2. i say NO to guilt when i take time to myself to recharge. i'm blessed with such a beautiful community, but i know alone time is necessary for my sanity (textbook infj, here). i find investing in community and balancing my own emotional well-being to be extremely difficult and i choose to say no to guilt when i know i need to retreat.

3. i say YES to blogging or writing at least three times a week. i know how much it centers, challenges and inspires me and i am making it a priority, no matter what.

4. i say NO to impatiently judging others. the more i live, the more i realize how everyone is struggling and our frustrations with one another are merely a result of our perceptions, wounds, differences and trials. we all need Jesus and none of us has it figured out.

5. i say YES to taking care of my health.

6. i say NO to negativity at the office. sure, we have our issues, but i am so certain that God has called me to my job, even if He is beginning to call me elsewhere. i choose to faithfully rejoice in the responsibility of my role for as long as i am in it.

7. i say YES to giving grace to myself and to others, and to accepting it.

8. i say NO to ignoring my heart, even when my mind tries to tell me otherwise.

9. i say YES to one-on-one, face-to-face time with friends and family.

10. i say NO to fear. lately, i've realized how much fear is gripping me. fear of disappointment, fear of loss, fear of loneliness. it's robbing me of my joy and distorting my perception of My Savior. it's dangerous and sneaky and disguises itself as rational thought. it's completely the opposite of rational and it traps me, drowns me, stops me from living fully.

11. i say YES to finding, committing to and engaging in a church body. i'm unsure as to whether it's my current body or another, but i refuse to sit in the pews every week wondering if i'm in the right place.

12. i say NO to needing validation from others. it's fleeting and empty and yet i thirst for it.

13. i say YES to laying my heart and my plans before The Lord in prayer. i really struggle with prayer. but i say yes to it.

14. i say NO to perfect. i refuse to use it in my vocabulary, or to define others by it, myself by it, my work by it.

15. i say YES to creating, painting, crafting, designing.

16. i say NO to needing to be the best or do the most. it's not a competition.

17. i say YES to books (and to reading them).

18. i say NO to cynicism. about the true nature of The Lord. about our world. about my future.

19. i say YES to honesty. to openly articulating my needs and my heart to those who care about me without fear of rejection or judgement.

20. i say NO to a lifetime of critiquing my appearance, comparing my appearance, letting my perceptions of my appearance control my confidence. i am enough.

i realize this post might seem like a motivational speech, or the power of positive thinking or whatever you want to call it. but sometimes i think just declaring our goals or intentions is the first step to achieving them. declaring our fears and setbacks the first step to overcoming them. at least for me, who has ten billion thoughts swirling around in my brain at any given point. writing things down, for me, creates clarity and focus. lately i feel like i'm on the cusp of so much change and that the Lord is doing so much in my heart. i'm saying NO to complacency and YES to letting the Lord take hold of my future. it's not about positive thinking or motivational self-talk. it's about focusing on Jesus in everything and giving Him complete control in every part of my life. i'm becoming more and more convinced that my own abilities aren't really part of the equation. He's the one making it happen, and i'm just along for the ride.

image via lara casey