7 Years After Loss of Fiance — “It Is Well (With My Soul)” 

7 years seems like such a long time, yet it also seems like such a small amount of time as well. 
7 years full of birthdays, holidays, weddings, birth of nieces amd nephews, beginnings and endings of friendships, and cross country moves. 
March 9th is the 7th anniversary of my beloved Greg being with Jesus. 
I wish I could say that loss gets easier as time passes. Truthfully the grief just gets different. 

Life goes on and I have just learned to live without Greg being physically present in my life. I have a full time job and a part time job; I go to church and bible study and a recovery group; I have an amazing tribe of people who love me and encouragement and support me. I am blessed! 

During one of our last moments together and one the last things that Greg said to me was, “I will never leave you”. He then sang the hymn “It Is Well” to me while he held me in his arms. 7 hours later he died in a car accident on his way to work. 
I have held onto this hymn and the phrase “It is Well With My Soul”. 
While Greg is not physically here on Earth. He is still with me in my heart and in the memories that we shared. It was not all rosey but I hold onto the good moments that we shared.

 
Loosing Greg was one of the worst things that have happened in my life but it was also one of the greatest. 
I know it sounds strange to say that the death of the person I had planned to spend the rest of my life with had good things come from it. It is true. 
I learned a lot from the time that Greg and I shared together. I learned about sacrificial love, living out the fruits of the spirit, and acceptance. Greg was so good at these things. 
I learned how to love someone who struggled with different sins than my own and to accept him for who he is; regardless of my own viewpoints. I learned from Gregs example of how to love others. He never met a stranger and went out of his way to show Gods love to others. Greg was by no means perfect but he sure did practice the fruits of the spirit (Gal. 5:22) daily. I do not know his secret but the Lord sure did make Greg unique! 
Loosing Greg taught me so much about life, love and myself. It has been another example of the Lord breaking me down and building me back up piece by piece. 

I wish I could say that it has been a positive experience all the way around but I can say that in the last 7 years one of the lessons the Lord has taught me is how to have joy in the midst of difficult seasons. This is a lesson the Lord continues to teach me. Those who have been readers of my articles from early on know the significance of this lesson! 
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
I grieve differently than most and that is ok! I go head and heart first into the grief and feel and process it. With that comes deep valleys. Learning to be joyful in the valleys is a positive step for me. 
In the last 7 years I have been able to do things that Greg and I wanted to do together (such as live outside of TX. I know Greg would not have chosen CA to live! The plan was Arkansas! His homestate) and also continue to persue goals of my own (such as working on a Masters Degree, creating art again). 
The grief is no longer constantly in my face on a daily or weekly basis anymore. However, Greg is obviously still in my heart and thoughts. 
We were young when he was alive (he died at 25), we loved watching movies, listening to music, talking about muscle cars, dr.pepper (Gregs favorite), road tripping and so many other things. 
In the years since Greg’s death: his favorite movie series (Harry Potter) completed, new superhero franchise began (Avengers, Captain America), the Razorbacks had a better season, Christian Bale is no longer Batman and Obama is no longer President; Mark Walberg is the lead actor in the Transformers reboot, Playstation & Xbox released new consoles to fuel the debate we had on which platform is better and of course the IPhone 7 which Greg would have had the day it released; his favorite bands have released new alblums and Greg would more than likely have the new mustang (instead of his 2006). 
All those things obviously bring Greg to my mind, what would his thoughts be on the new mustang specifications?, would he have disliked the Iphone 5 as much as I did?, would he think TMac’s last two alblums were as fly as I think they are?, would he be annoyed by my love for John Legend music? or would he dig it too?, would he support my love for Golden State Warriors (even though he didn’t care for basketball), what would his thoughts be on the last two Harry Potter movies? and so on and so forth. 
Those are examples of events that have occured in the last 7 years that we would have discussed in our own little world. 
While those events have come and gone, I have learned to hold onto the sadness less and while it still does hurt not having Greg here and I miss him; I know that I will see him again one day. 
I know that I have built a life for myself after his death. I have a wonderful tribe of close friends and famiy. I am apart of an amazing church, where I serve others and I am spiritually fed as well. I carry on Gregs legacy of loving others and loving them well. 
While life still has and will continue to have difficult seasons in the future; through the lessons over the last 7 years that began with Greg’s death, I can say “It Is Well With My Soul”. 
@Brandi R

#CultivatingWhatMatters– March Tending Goals 

Welcome to March and another month to #CultivateWhatMatters !! 
2017 is my first year to use the powersheets goal system developed by Lara Casey and her team! 

Read about my journey to finding Powersheets at my previous blogpost (#Cultivatingwhatmatters2017 – Powersheets Goal Planning)

As this is my first year using Powersheets my approach each month is to try, modify and edit for the next month. If something does not work I take it off my list. If the goal is important and something that I really want to learn to cultivate than I make the goal broader or more specific depending upon which is better suited for the particular goal.  

After going through a major life transistion at the end of December, my tending lists for Jan/Feb/March have basic-living needs (finding a job, finding a place to live, getting health insurance, finding bible study group, etc). 

Now that some of those basic needs have been met and there is foundation, my March tending sheet is a little bit more flexible in the spreading the wings department! 

Since I began using Powersheets in January, I have changed/ edited some of my daily and weekly goals. I have eliminated some but I honestly try not to do that. I try to examine why the goal has not worked. 

For example the weekly goal “creative art project” is broad because in January I started out too specific and I want to cultivate my creativity and felt my specific weekly goal was keeping me from doing that, as it was originally only tied to that specific outlet for my art. Now with this broader goal any type of art that I do counts! 

My water intake goal began at 32oz and when I consistently meet that goal, I up the oz so that I can gradually get back to drinking 80oz of water daily! 
Follow the series #CultivatingWhatMatters2017 as I blog about my journey to reaching my goals and cultivating what truly matters in my life. Monthly posts with Tending Sheets! 
Do you use Powersheets? 

Share your story in the comments below!!

@2017 Brandi R

Having a Joyful Heart During the Struggle

There is a truth common to all mankind, regardless of faith and religious affiliation: 

  • you are either in a season, 
  • coming out of a season or 
  • preparing for the next season. 

A common misconception of the Christian life is believers have an easier life than nonbelievers. 

Christians have a hard life. Our life does not get easier the moment we accept Jesus into our heart and the Holy Spirit dwells inside of us. If anything being a believer is hard from a societal aspect.

Numerous believers are shunned from their homes, villages, their family turns against them and they are outcasted. 

Outside of the United States, Christians have to attend church at “underground”and secret churches every week; out of fear that they and or their families will be imprisioned and or killed. 

In recent years anti- Christian movements capture, torture and kill Christians to prove a point. 

For Americans in some ways we have it easy. We are free to practice Christianity without persecution. We do not have the constant fear of the possibility of capture and death. 

However, our lives too are full of seasons of significant and difficult times. 

I do not know about you but the life the Lord has given me is full of one season after another with barely any room to catch a breath before going into the next struggle. The Lord has taught me numerous truths during these seasons:

  • God is always with me (Psalm 46:10-11 “”Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”
  • I am never alone. Jesus is my only constant companion! (Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”) 
  • God is Faithful! (Deuteronomy 32:4 “The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is He.) My life is a testament to this truth. 
  • God can and will carry me through every season. (even if I am kicking and screaming during the process!) — (Psalm 34:19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.)
  • God knows the plans that He has for me (Jeremiah 29:11) 
  • Lord “Thy will be done”. Your will Lord, not my own (Psalm 25:4-5 Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.)
  • Having joy regardless of the struggle (James 1:2-4 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.) 

Having joy is a daily practice. Having joy is a result of knowing Christ. Having joy is a reflection of your relationship with Christ.  

It took many years of the Lord being patient with me, breaking parts of myself down, molding me & building me back up and repeating this process for me to actually have joy in the midst of the struggles. 

Joy is a reflection of the heart.

Your world may be falling apart around you.  

You may be at your own personal rock bottom.

Take heart! There is healing in this process! The Lord HAS A PURPOSE in this season. 

God is good all the time! 

How has the Lord shown you how to have Joy in the middle of the storm? Share your experience in the comments! 

@2017 Brandi R.

#CultivatingWhatMatters2017– Powersheets Goal Planning

For most of my life I have been a planner. I am a recovering planner. I used to have OCD so badly when it came to planning and all the energy I spent color coding everything. It was exhausting. A few years ago, in 2010, I lost my beloved and my desire to be excessive in planning went out the window. Takes too much energy to be so OCD about it. 

In the years since I have now come to a happy balance when it comes to planning! And that has been so refreshing! 

2017 is a year of working on myself. I kkow that sounds selfish but as a people pleaser I tend to put everything else first and myself second (aside from my self care day). (Sidenote: working on that and will share more in a future post). 

My first exposure to Lara Caseys Powersheet system was through her “Goal Setting” blog series! And this could not have come at a better time for me! 

(you can read the blog series here –> Lara Casey Goal Setting Blog Series

At the end of December I had another huge transistion in my life (job loss, a messy breakup, moving to a new town, sleeping on a friends couch and no job). 

I really needed a change of pace and a fresh mindset. I really needed to dig deep and down to the core of what really matters to me, what I really want to cultivate in my life and focus on those things. 

In the past I have tried numerous goal and planning systems but something about Lara’s system really resonates with me. Maybe it is because she gives permission to have grace with myself in the process, Lara is a believer and while this system is not just for believers her love for Jesus and Christs love for us and His grace is shown throughout all that Lara does. 

In a difficult season in my life, I connected to that. 

After lots of digging deep and messiness here is a “neat” copy of the goals that I want to cultivate in 2017! 

One of the parts of the powersheets system that I love is through the process of developing goals, you also develop a “why” for the goal and an “action plan” with steps to reach those goals.

It is great to want to cultivate “Being Healthy From the Inside Out” as my health goal but how do I get there? Digging deep and coming up with a list of steps to reach that goal is helpful in staying on track to reaching my goal! 

Here is an example of my Action plan for my Health Goal of being “Healthy From The Inside Out” 


I have since added additional steps to my daily action plan (drinking 68oz of water, taking vitamins, effective REST) 

Each of these smaller steps leads to my bigger goal! 

Follow the series #CultivatingWhatMatters2017 as I blog about my journey to reaching my goals and cultivating what truly matters in my life. Monthly posts with Tending Sheets! 
Do you use Powersheets? 

Share your story in the comments below!!

@2017 Brandi R

Soul Hygge 

Happy Saturday! 

I read this lovely article by Rachel Wojo this morning and wanted to share it with y’all! 

It’s a great reminder that “We Can Not Pour From an Empty Cup!” it discusses the Danish concept of “hygee” or the english translation of “coziness” and putting this into practice in our spiritual life! 

Click the link below to read Rachel’s article! 

https://www.dayspring.com/articles/you-cant-pour-from-an-empty-cup?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20170304%20You%20Can’t%20Pour%20from%20an%20Empty%20Cup&utm_term=Most%20Engaged%20Last%2030%20Days%202/16/2016%20KEEP

What ways do you practice “soul hygge”? Share in the comments below! 

Grace Upon Grace 


Do you struggle with extending the same grace to yourself that you graciously give to others? 
I know I struggle with this daily. 

I am my biggest critic. While I am a huge advocate of self care and practicing lovingkindness towards oneself, somehow grace is not in my toolkit. 

This year I have been intentional in my commitment to my recovery from anxiety, control, emotional reactiveness and people pleasing (and a long list of other things but here I will practice grace and keep the list to four!) 

Until now, I have believed the lie that my anxiety is just apart of how God made me. Anxiety has been my companion since childhood. Psychology would attribute parental divorce, abuse, an absent parent, conflict, disapointment, continuious grief loss and traumatic events to what I have been diganosed with as Generalized anxiety disorder. 

GAD and I know each other quite well. 

The life the Lord has given me is one of one thing after another; a constant struggle (which in and of itself is not necessarily a bad thing) however, my reactions and my emotional state can be. 

After a trying 2014, 2015 and 2016 full of loss, grief, major health diagnoses, cross country moves, breakups and brokenness leading up to a large transistion this past December; enough was enough. 

Enough of the anxiety …

of the need to plan and have timelines and the endless desire to want this to be acomplished by x time and then this and then that etc.

of the reactiveness … 

I am an emotional person. I am an empath. I am a highly sensitive person (an HSP — look it up its an actual thing); my spiritual gifts are all intertwined with these traits as well. All of this is a blessing and a curse. 

Hence my need to heal, to learn the root causes of my responses and to learn new strategies for my toolbox. 

One example that I struggle with has become one of balance. 

When I was first diagnosed with several chronic health issues in 2014 it was reallydifficult  for me. I was so sick at the time and it was hard for me to acomplish daily tasks, work, masters program etc. 

My illness took over when it was untreated. Once I knew what was wrong and there was a name to all of this; I was bound and determined to 

  1. Never let my illness control my life — sure I can not do everything that I used to “before” but I can have a normal life 
  2. Live life to the fullest — not be bound by the limitations but to thrive in them

This is a tall order on a good day! 

A constant example is my need to control having a normal life and not letting my illnesses keep me from working, going to bible study, serving in church and going to recovery group. I have learnes my body’s limitations yet, I push them all the time — usually leading to a flare up. 

As previously stated, I am my own worst critic. I rarely cut myself slack. 

When I have to miss something in the evening afterwork I typically beat myself up about it. 

This is kind of ironic as I typically am very good about self care on my days off of work and free of commitments! A few years ago I started implementing an actual Sabbath day, a legit day of rest. 

Saturdays are my favorite day of the week and I have no guilt over affording myself the need of a full rest. 

The last few weeks the Lord has been teaching me more and more about grace and extending grace to myself, as part of lovingkindness towards myself.
This will be a lesson the Lord will be teaching me for awhile; maybe even for the rest of my time on earth. But what a joy it is! Thank you Jesus for grace! Thank you for your faithfulness. Thank you for your love despite my sins and flaws. 

Self Care – Balance, Grace and Lovingkindness


In the years since I first began sharing parts of my journey with y’all, I have developed several chronic health illnesses. They are my thorn. 

In the midst of all the ups and downs that is living with chronic illness, I put a lot of energy into leading as normal of a life as possible. Currently, I still attend church, bible study,  re:generation recovery group, work full time and help in childrens ministry twice a week. It is A LOT; and I know something is going to give soon. Possibly in the next week or so. I put a lot of energy into not letting my chronic illness define me and/or take over my life. I was there in 2015; and I try my hardest not to get back to that point. Having too much contributes to this as well. 

One part of learning to embrace this part of my “new normal” is BALANCE. Balance is key. We all struggle with balance and harmony in our lives even when we do not have chronic illnesses waging war within us. When I add or subtract something from my life there is always this period of learning what I am able to handle physically, mentally & emotionally. 

Another aspect of this journey that the Lord is showing me is GRACE. Lord am I willing to extend it to others and yet so inclined not to extend it to myself. I have such high standards for myself. Fueled by the desire to live my life. Yet, the Lord has been teaching me this past year about being patient with myself and extending myself LOVINGKINDNESS and grace. 

As I sit here (ok full disclosure: laying in bed) writing this, I am missing a bible journaling group that I have been so eager to attend but have yet to; in addition to my weekly recovery group that I was going to miss due to the bible journaling group. In 6 weeks, this is the first time that I have missed my recovery group. The work that I am doing is very important to me. There are days I have gone looking like The Walking Dead and did not want to miss. We can only miss so many and I wanted to save those for emergency type days. Like bedridden days. 

While bible journaling & recovery are both very important, so is REST. Letting the body just stop going and be still. In this learning to give myself grace and not beat myself up. Self care has always been important to me and through these thorns the Lord is showing me just how important self care truly is.

In what ways has the Lord taught you Self Care — Balance, Grace, and Lovingkindness in your life? 

What is your favorite self care tool? 
Answer these in the comments below! 

@Brandi 2011-2017