If I’m Honest…

Having a plan always works out, right?! Ummm, not so much. One lesson that seems to always keep showing up is learning to be peaceful and to keep pressing forward despite the challenges of each season.

Staying positive, no matter the circumstances, is very hard for me to do.  I was very good at this in the past, but somewhere along the way I lost this skill.  I am very much a product of my surroundings these days. I feel crazy when my house is out of order or a plan I’ve had for weeks doesn’t follow the course I thought it would. It’s just how I operate. My desire for planning and order increased with motherhood, which is hilarious because that;s probably the worst possible time to crave order and plans.

As I shared with you a few weeks ago in “A New Perspective,”  about a week before the new year I knew it was time to hand it over. I could no longer be lukewarm about my relationship with Jesus. It had regressed back to the “I’ve got this, but having You on the side is nice” kind of thing. My faith and relationship with Christ was my saving grace during my struggle with postpartum, but once I got to the other side after a long 18 months, it was back to status quo, rushing through life not standing still long enough to connect with any consistency.

With many false starts in the past two years, I was throwing my hands up. The weeks that followed were amazing. I was in The Word, I felt light. Then life started to feel like it was unraveling. My grandmother (who is my heart) got diagnosed with Lymphoma, big scary career changes came to light and some serious stress + anxiety set in around making hard calls. The first thing to go was my Bible time. I stuck to prayer, but felt beat up. My written goals to put The Lord first, to work out and make time for my husband were collecting dust.

Surrender

So, I’m calling myself out. I’m not perfect, I fall off track with my goals daily and feel awful about my lack of follow-through on living the life I want to live.

But, He calls us higher. I know this, surrendering to the Lord is not surrendering to the circumstance of life. Surrendering might mean leaning into him more vs. giving up. Surrendering might mean fighting for your surrender. It’s kind of funny that prior to my declaration of surrender things were going pretty well. There were no big waves in life. My circumstances made surrendering easy, the happenings of the past few months are not conducive to meeting a goal of surrendering, if I hold on to the expectation of order and planning.

To surrender in times that are full of uncertainty is a greater accomplishment than to surrender in times of ease. The Lord calls us to master the fruits of the spirit and I will press on toward that goal, fail and try again.

Please don’t be discouraged if you have yet to set a goal, live out the meaning of your 2016 word or take action on any of the things you hoped 2016 would hold for you.

My father gave me some perspective just the other day. He said, “Lay a strip of masking tape down and number it from 1 to 365. Keep laying strips for the next 80+ years.  Each day go and stand on the day it is and realize, you have many days ahead of you.” I’m here to tell you the same thing, you have many more days sister, many more years…”

Let us surrender our hearts, our plans and our circumstance to the Lord. Let us have peace in the understanding that all things work for the good of those who love Him!

Marriage + Friendship

Marriage_Advice_Making_it_work

In honor of February being the month of love, we wanted to do a post on relationships, particularly marriage + friendship. But this post isn’t going to be your typical marriage and friendship advice kind of post. Instead, we enlisted two women we love and admire: our grandmothers: Amanda’s Nana and my Mammaw. They’re both in their 70’s and we admire them in sooo many ways. We’ve looked up to them our whole lives, and we admire their marriages, their strength, and the way they carry themselves as women.  And now we consider them friends.

Let me tell you a little about them… First up, Amanda’s Nana and Grandad: Gloria and Mike. They started dating when they were 16. They married young, did well for themselves earlier on and were then separated for a few years during the war. Gloria had Amanda’s mother while Mike was overseas. Amanda said that her Nana is a fiercely-loyal woman, and contributes their success during their time apart because of this. When Mike returned, life resumed as normal. They both worked and attended school at night while raising Amanda’s mom. Mike moved up in a local company, becoming the head accountant and Gloria was a successful teacher.

Marriage_Advice_Making_it_work

When Amanda asked them their secrets to this long life of love, the first one on their list was: loyalty.

“Understanding marriage is not always a love story… Life gives and takes from you. As a married couple, knowing you have loyalty from your partner gives you solid ground to stand on in uncertain times. Our trust and commitment to one another was not determined by our circumstances,” shared Gloria.

She continued, “Show your spouse a little grace during times that you’re surviving on your commitment and loyalty alone. Love comes in waves…”

Mike jumped in and said, “I would say our friendship was important to our success. We both have similar interests and enjoy experiencing life together. Get out and live life together!,” he added, “Watching you kids today, I don’t see many of you out there getting into things. I see you on your phone and computer looking at a lot of places or watching other people’s experiences. You don’t need a partner to do that. If you have a partner, live a life that engages one another. If you don’t have a partner, well… maybe you need to get off your gadgets.” ; )

Gloria countered his comment with, “Encourage one another to enjoy things outside of the relationship. We have always been supportive of one another having a life outside of each other. Good friendships come in handy when your marriage needs support, an illness strikes, or you have something to celebrate. Don’t cut off your friendships and passions just because you’re married.”

And speaking of friends, the inspiration behind this post came to me a few weeks ago after I attended a viewing with my Mammaw. Her BFF’s (Anna Marie) husband passed away and seeing how they interacted got me thinking about their 45 year long friendship. I never truly stopped to think about what they had been through together until recently. So a few days later, I asked my Mammaw about how they came to be friends + how they stayed friends all these years.

Friendship_Advice Friendship_Advice

They met in 1971 when a mutual friend suggested that my Mammaw start babysitting Anna Marie’s two girls. And so she did just that. Her girls became fast friends with my mom and her brother and shortly after, Anna Marie and her family moved a couple streets up from my Mammaw and Pappaw. They’ve lived within walking distance of one another for 45 years and they STILL log more hours per week on the phone than any two people I’ve ever met. They’ve been through a LOT together;  the one constant in both of their lives has always been each other. They’ve lost children and grandchildren, fought for their marriages and what they believed in, dealt with their own health issues, and now, they’ve both lost the great loves of their lives. Forty-five years. And they seem to have mastered the ever-elusive balancing act of loving themselves + others well, simultaneously.

Here’s how my Mammaw says they did it:

Are you ready for this?…

“I don’t know… we were just always there for each other.”  — So simple and honest and real. I also asked her if they ever fought or went through rough patches in their friendship and she quickly replied: “No. Never.”  THAT in itself is amazing! I chalk it up to both of them being so easy-going and being true to one another during all seasons of life. They had each other to lean on during the tough times; they knew they could count on the other person. That is so rare these days… to find people who can handle you at your worst and still decide to stay and walk with you through the mess.

We loved interviewing our family for this post. They keep us grounded and remind us what life is all about. We hope your relationships are full of grace, loyalty and adventure!

Happy Valentine’s Day! Go out and love on somebody!

Everyday Grace | Introducing Dana Matonak

Contributor Dana Matonak

Hi, everyone! My name is Dana Matonak and I’m so excited to be guest posting on The Wild Revival this month! My husband and I, and our son Rowan, currently live in Morgantown, West Virginia. We are from the Pittsburgh area and are here for my hilarious and hard-working husband’s residency program.  We moved here in 2012, after we got married. Like RIGHT after! We flew home from our honeymoon and drove straight here at 2AM.

So fast forward two years full of highs and lows. And in July of 2014, we added our sweet boy, Rowan to the family.  He is an extremely active, sweet-spirited boy and I feel blessed to be able to stay home with him. Prior to having him, I was a teacher. But after deciding that my heart was all in to staying home with Rowan, we quickly realized we would need another source of income… and that is when my Etsy shop, My Paper Nest, was born.  It began as a paper banner-making business for people’s events and parties, but then after I made a bunch of wood signs for my home and as gifts, it gradually morphed into a sign business, with some banners on the side!

To really give you the fast track version of getting to know me, I thought I would share some random facts about myself.  I’m long winded, I know, but God has gifted me with A LOT of words. (ANDDD also with a husband that hates words, so most of mine come pouring out in spaces like this! HA!)

Contributor Dana Matonak

1.) Making dinner is my nemesis. It pains me each day to come up with what we will eat.

2.) I hate wearing make up and getting ready. I love workout clothes, hair up, and a clean face.

3.) I’m a lover of all things ice cream. Hot fudge milkshakes, sea salt caramel gelato, and moose tracks make the top of the list.

4.) I’ve never really lived in a house that was my own.  I’ve lived in apartments, trailers, townhouses, and for a short span, I lived in a someone else’s house. I’ve never been able to paint, DIY, or “fix up” any sort of space.  The day I get my hands on a house that’s all our own, Josh better watch out!!

5.) I feel torn at times between using no social media at all and then on the other hand, trying to use every outlet that’s available.

6.) I used to be a “save all the things” type person and could never bare to get rid of anything. I’m recently crossed over to “get rid of all the things!” I love decor and sentimental things BUT I love less. Simple and organized.  Everything needs a spot and if you don’t use it, IT GOES!

7.) I love hosting, hospitality, and DECORATING!!  I love making a place for people to come and feel comfortable in my home.  You can read about that HERE in a recent post of mine.  That’s another reason I can’t wait to have a house someday.  I can’t wait to serve people and invite people over to be loved on.  Now I just need that chef so that none of our guests starve or get sick! 😉

8.) There are so many things that set my soul on fire (you can read about them HERE!) that sometimes I get overwhelmed about where to start and how to make a difference in anything.

9.) I have secret plans to write a book someday but I have no idea about what, or how, or when.  I make a joke of it when I talk about it, but it’s a for real thought in my mind.

10.) I love hand-lettering and hand-painting signs for people’s homes but a long term dream of mine is to create a series of journals for kids, and women young and old, to help them through seasons of life.

With all this said, my heart is helping young girls and women find their way through trials and the ever-changing seasons of life. 

Contributor Dana Matonak

I’m only 28, and sometimes that seems so old to me, but then I realize that I’ve just now, finally figured out who I am, what I’m passionate about, and where my value derives from.  I know God has given us all a story to share. He shows grace upon grace to our brokenness. I’m so thankful for all of the fresh starts he has given me. I don’t always handle changing seasons with grace but I am working harder and harder on it and realizing that it will never be done on my own. I can use what I learn along the way for good to make an impact on those around me.  Check out more about my 2016 mantra about grace and how the ladies from The Wild Revival made a huge impact on the way I approached this new year!

In the coming weeks, I will be sharing how I continue to find grace in a season of change. I hope it will encourage you to know all seasons are worthwhile and The Lord’s grace is sufficient.  Please join me in the comments and on social media along the way! 

A New Perspective | Intentional Goal Setting

 This is my favorite week of the year, the in-between time. I don’t place any huge expectation for the week and the house feels fresh after pulling down all the decorations. There just seems to be a feeling of “space.”  This feeling of space leads to hope, I get really excited thinking about all the possibility to come in the new year.  The newness of the seasons to come, leave me feeling full of new perspective. 
 
I must admit though, I put a lot of pressure on myself to make the coming year full of big accomplishments. I have been doing this for years: writing out goals, making vision boards and filling my calendar with check-in dates for my desired accomplishments. These are all wonderful things and have most definitely been good for creating forward momentum in my life. BUT… this past year, more than ever, I have learned the way we have always done things is not the best fit for the current season of life we are in. 2014-2015 was full of wonderful experiences, but it was also full of heart-crushing let downs and half-hearted living. Let downs and unexpected outcomes are inevitable, and bouncing back is a huge part of living a successful life.  
 
After reading “Rising Strong,” I’ve realized its okay to live in the let down for awhile, letting myself learn from it. In the past, I would jump to the next, not really learning from my experience…more like bulldozing into the next thing & ignoring that I needed to take a beat.  
 
 This year I was forced to be vulnerable and hopeful that others would honor my vulnerability. As we all know, this doesn’t always work out. That leads me to the next lesson learned: I don’t need others to validate my successes or failures for them to be real. This was HUGE and a lesson I will be working on for many years to come. 
 
I have always felt the need to explain myself. Why I am not where I “should be” or how I worked really hard to get to where I am. This is a horrible way to live and leaves you feeling empty when you don’t feel understood. 

A paragraph in the Naptime Diaries ABIDE devotional captures my hope and human heart for 2016 so clearly. “Over the past few years I’ve let Him chisel down the hard parts of my works-loving, producing heart. Slowly He’s helped me to strip off my worldview that sees what I can do as most important so I can dive into the ocean of His refreshment. Yet so many days I still find myself trying to earn my place in the Kingdom.”

It would not be an honest statement to say I have let Him do this. I have been kicking and screaming the whole way. 
 

In light of the lessons learned, 2016 is not going to be about reaching for some big goal. No ladder climbing, business-proposing or huge, life-changing endeavors will be making the list this year. I’m accepting the truth I’ve made it. No matter the accomplishment or lack of accomplishment, I’m contributing what the Lord has created me to contribute.  

 

This will be my third year using Lara Casey’s PowerSheets. They have gotten better every year and I’m looking forward to writing my goals with new perspective in her most recent version.  All of my goals will be focused on the things I currently have going on in my life. I won’t be focused on doing them better or making them bigger. I will be living with a mindset of keeping it simple and being grateful for this season.


I will also be using the Abide Devotional by Naptime Diaries throughout the year. I will dig in to what abiding means and allowing the fruits of the spirit – love, joy, patience… to come forth, not from my circumstances but from Him. 
 
I hope you enjoy the possibility found in the New Year. 

Give yourself grace, remember life is not a check list. Its messy, uncertain and full of glory. I would love to hear what your hopes for 2016 are! Share your goals and the tools you’re using to set yourself up for the new year in the comments below!  


Check back next week for a peak into what Marrissa and I will be up to in the new year! 
 
Happy New Year, tribe! We are so thankful for your support and look forward to seeing you right here in 2016!
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