life beyond the well…


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Hope for Hubbard: A Love Initiative

“And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love.  But the greatest of these is love.” -1 Corinthians 13:13

Since the end of last year, I’ve been feeling pressed to find a way to demonstrate love to a group of people in Jacksonville.  I wasn’t quite sure what to do, and while I had some ideas, none of them “stuck”.  It wasn’t until the new year (literally, the beginning of this year) that I had clarity on what to do and how to move forward.

Which brings me to Hope for Hubbard: A Love Initiative.

My big goal: to increase the faith and hope of the women of Hubbard House by showing love on Valentine’s Day.

From their website:

The mission of Hubbard House is Every Relationship Violence-Free. Our priorities include providing safety for victims and their children, empowering victims, and social change through education and advocacy. Every woman, man, and child who comes to Hubbard House finds support, counseling, and education as they begin the difficult and dangerous transition to safety and peace. Victims of domestic violence and their children are not charged for the life-saving services they receive at Hubbard House.

Here’s what I want to do:

For Valentine’s Day 2016, I want to provide each of the 75 women who are currently finding shelter at Hubbard House with a token of love–specifically a silver or gold wishing bracelet from Stella & Dot along with an encouraging note.

AND I NEED YOUR HELP TO DO IT!

Will you partner with me to help increase the faith and hope of these women by purchasing a bracelet?

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Order the silver or gold wishing bracelet.
  • Include a note of encouragement in your order in the gift section (to be shared with the recipient).
  • Have your order mailed to me at the following address:
    • Erin Almond
    • KIPP Jacksonville Schools
    • 1440 McDuff Avenue North
    • Jacksonville, FL 32254
  • Believe God with me that this gift of love will plant seeds that increase the faith and hope of these women.

Are you in?  I sure hope so!

Please feel free to comment with your email address if you have any questions and I will reach out to you directly!

Thank you in advance for helping me show love to others this Valentine’s Day!

Be encouraged! Peace and Blessings!

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Note to Self: On Vacation.

Dear Erin,

You need that vacation.  You need that time to unplug, to veg out, to read books endlessly, to watch HGTV on repeat, to laugh and love Preacherman, to live without being tied to your Outlook Calendar and the endless demands that create a home in the dungeon known as your work email account.

You need it. And it doesn’t make you weak to acknowledge that. You are a better woman, a better wife, a better steppie, a better friend, a better employee when you have taken the time to recharge your battery and make sure that you are overflowing with the things that really make your heart full.

You are not your work. Your work is what you do, it is not who you are. And while what you do is important, who you are matters more.  Are you taking the time to develop who you are so that you can be the best you for the people who need you and are there for you before 8am and after 5pm?  Are you making sure that you’ve put aside some time in your schedule for the things that you enjoy? What are you reading for pleasure? When was the last time you decorated your planner? Have you downloaded the many ideas in your brain into your blog?

Take the vacation. Self-care is not selfish, it’s necessary. Reflect, rest, rejuvenate- and then when it’s time to go back to life as usual, you’ll return as a better, stronger, healthier you.

Those people that you do life with deserve to have the best you.  And you deserve to be the best you.

Love,

You

 


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Worth the Wait.

I married Preacherman at 29- which was about 4-5 years longer than I wanted to be single.  In my perfect life plan, I would have been married at 24 or 25, with babies coming along around ages 27-28.  I’d have finished having babies by 32 (at the absolute latest).  And we’d live happily ever after.

So, based on my own perfect life plan, I’m a little behind.  And while I generally hate being behind on things, I’m okay with it, because it has been worth the wait.

I love that I know and see so many young women who desire to be Godly wives; who spend their time committed to their church, and pursuing God so that they can be who God has called them to be.  And while I know from my own experience that waiting to be found can be a struggle, let me encourage you- IT IS WORTH THE WAIT.

I know that you get tired of hearing it. I know that while you’re happy for your friend, you’re not excited about adding another bridesmaid dress to your closet. I know the excitement of welcoming your friend’s newborn into the world, while wondering if you’ll ever have that life for yourself.  But please know, that it IT IS WORTH THE WAIT.

There’s nothing wrong with you for waiting.  But don’t wallow.  Enjoy your single time.  Travel. Shop. Save money. Start your business. Finish that degree. Follow the dreams that God has placed in your heart while you’re waiting- because when you get married, it’s not the same.  Marriage requires a consideration that isn’t necessary when you’re single–a consideration of another’s thoughts, dreams, purposes, and plans, and you have to proceed with prayer and caution.

I wish that I could say that I waited patiently to be found by Preacherman. If only that were the case. There were times where I would be content with my singleness, and there were times where I tried to force relationships that I knew weren’t for me.  But once I truly committed myself to my singleness, and becoming the best person that I could be, things (slowly) fell into place.

Please know, you are worth the wait- and it’s better to be alone than in bad company. My prayer is that you are able to enjoy this season for the blessing it is and understand the purpose it serves in your life and for the husband and family that you will soon have.

Be encouraged!  Peace and Blessings!


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Wait, it’s December?

Y’all, I CANNOT get over how fast 2014 has flown by.  How is it December 1? I still feel like there’s so much left in this year- so much that I’m still believing God to do; so much that I have left to do.

Preacherman and I just wrapped up one of the best Novembers on record.  We celebrated our anniversary, went to a Lecrae concert, headed to North Carolina for Homecoming at UNC, enjoyed time with family and friends, worshipped with friends at Hungry Church, ate entirely too much for Thanksgiving…and reveled in how much God has blessed us with this amazing life.

We’re starting December in Birmingham, Alabama, attending a conference on church-planting.  We are so excited to be launching Higher Definition Church in 2015, and there is MUCH work to be done.  Nevertheless, we are working, praying, fasting, and believing.  There are truly great things to come!

This December won’t be any less busy than November- but I am excited for this season that we are in.  Though we often feel stretched and pulled, those times force us to lean in to God, to trust where He has us and where He is taking us.  This journey, this life, is such an incredible gift.

Anyone else surprised that it’s December?  What are you grateful for in this season?

Peace and Blessings!


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Celebrating TWO

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Dear Preacherman,

It’s been two years.  Why is the time going by so fast?  At this rate, we will have to live to at least our 120 years, so that I can feel that I will have had sufficient time with you.

You are amazing; more than I bargained for, beyond what I imagined, the answer to my prayers.  Thank you for your love and your faithfulness, your leadership and your kindness, your relentless drive to pursue and fulfill God’s purpose for your life. You are absolutely one of the best people that I know and I am so glad to call you mine.

In these short two years of marriage, we have changed jobs and addresses; gained and lost weight, traveled to quite a few states, partially eaten our way around Jacksonville, figured out how to make salmon in a way that rivals Vin Rouge, gone to our first professional football game (and made it on the big screen), and shared more laughs than I can remember, nor that I ever want to forget.

Year three is sure to be an exciting one for #TeamAlmond and I’m while I’m excited about the things to come, I’m even more grateful that I get to face them all with you. Love you to the moon and back, Boss.

E5


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Green is for Grandma

I hated the color green as I was growing up, and it was all her fault.  She loved it in the most ridiculous, passionate way.  She had green EVERYTHING.

Green sweaters.

Green dresses.

Green pants.

Green church suits.

Green church shoes (to match the green church suits).

Green LEATHER outfits (yes, outfits- as in more than one).

I should also mention that it didn’t matter which SHADE of green it was.  If it was in the green family, it was good as gold. I didn’t much mind the green for her. I mean, you like what you like.  But what I DID mind was the fact that she spread the green to us by way of our GREEN summer camp shirts.  You see, for a huge chunk of my childhood, my grandparents ran the Harriet Tubman Summer Day Camp in the basement of their church.  And we had camp shirts that we had to wear–and our camp shirts were green. AND, since my grandparents ran the camp, that meant there was no shortage of green shirts for me to wear. I could never ruin my shirt. I could never lose it. I couldn’t forget it. There was always a green shirt for me.

But now, things are different. They’ve changed. And I’ve grown and changed, the color green has become less of a subject of my distaste and more of a comfortable and familiar association with someone who I loved deeply, and who deeply loved me.

Now when I see the color green, I am reminded of faith, family, strength, dignity, purpose- all things that she embodied. I am reminded of the value and necessity of education. I am reminded of the responsibility of serving others and lifting as you climb, lest no person be left behind.

Green is for Grandma.

In honor of my grandmother, Mrs. Mildred Eleanor Roberts-Davis

August 20, 1935 – July 8, 2006

 


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Friends for the Duration

I was completely surprised to realize that this post from almost six years ago has been one of the most popular posts I’ve written.  I figured it was time to do an update, and I did, explaining my thoughts about friendship and how life causes things to change.

But I also hinted at the fact that there ARE people in your marathon of a life, who will be with you for the duration. How do you know if people are with you for the duration of your marathon? I guess “you just know”.  But if I had to quantify it, reflecting on the people in my life who I know are with me for duration, here’s what I think:

  • They like the “old” you, but they love the “new” you.
  • There’s no conversations that are off limits- good/bad/ugly, you can (AND DO) talk about it all without judgement.
  • They make you better-they don’t let you get too comfortable or complacent.

Looking at this closer, here’s what I mean:

They like the “old” you, but they love the “new” you: One of the best things about my friends who are with me for the duration, is that they have fond memories of me from “way back when”.  But, even with those fond memories, they really LOVE me as I am now.  They have accepted that I have grown and changed, but their friendship and love towards me HAS NOT changed.

No topics are off limits, and it’s judgement free: I appreciate having the freedom in my friendships to be my complete self: good/bad/ugly, and know that I’m not judged for who I am, how I’m feeling, or what I just said.  They know that AT MY CORE, I’m not the person I may sound like I am on the phone or via FaceTime, and they provide a safe space for me to vent my concerns or frustrations without fear of judgement.  Also, it’s a safe space for me to ask any/all questions without fear of judgement.

They make you better: So, while they don’t judge me for what I say or what I ask, they respectfully push back and challenge my thinking and my behavior to help make me the best version of me that I can be. They let me whine, but they don’t let me wallow. I can complain, but I’m challenged to not be complacent. And often times, they provide direct feedback on HOW to be better.  Not just saying “you need to do better” (I mean, that DOES happen), but “have you tried this?” Or connecting me with actual resources to be better and to make better decisions.

I realize that I have been incredibly blessed to have a strong circle of people who are running the marathon with me, and it’s not something that I take for granted. I pray that you have the same “circle of love” in your life.

But how about you? I’d love to hear how you determine who’s with you for the duration.

Be encouraged!  Peace and Blessings!


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The Orange String

This morning as I was finished getting dressed, and was preparing to gather my things to leave, I noticed a string hanging from the last button of my blazer.  While this normally wouldn’t stop me, I paused because the string was orange.  My blazer (and pants) are tan.  There’s no reason for any stitching on these garments to be orange, especially in this one place.

I started to pull the string, thinking that it would just be a stray from another item in my closet.  But as I started to pull, I realized that it was attached to the button.  Under closer inspection, I saw that in some kind of way, this orange string had been used to tighten the button to the blazer.

And once I saw that, I immediately knew the culprit was: my aunt.  You see, as Preacherman and I were preparing to completely uproot our lives in Durham and move to Jax, my aunts came to our home nearly EVERYDAY for two weeks, to help pack, clean, organize, and reorganize our belongings. They did this while we were away at a conference for our new jobs, while we were back, but working the final days at our old jobs. But not only did they help pack, clean, organize, and reorganize; they fixed stuff.  Stuff like this button, which I don’t even recall being loose.

I’m thankful for the orange string, which slowed me down this morning, and allowed me to reflect on God’s love for me through family.  Both Preacherman and I have been incredibly blessed to have our families love us beyond the miles, and having these little reminders just makes the distance seem that much shorter.  I’m grateful for the gift of family that God provides us, and I’m thankful for my family.

Where have you been reminded of God’s gift of love for you through your family?

Be Encouraged! Peace and Blessings!


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25 Questions to Ask Yourself Before the End of 2013

I have my dear friend Jovian to thank for this.  She sent these questions out in an email to a bunch of us, and I thought I’d tackle them in this space…because I feel that doing so makes me slightly more accountable than just answering them in my head or replying via email.

So, let’s have at it (warning- this is long):

25 Questions to Ask Yourself Before the End of 2013

1. What am I most proud of this year?

I am most proud of my growth as a wife.  Every day, there are new challenges and new opportunities for growth.  In our first year of marriage, we had experienced changes beyond what either of us could have imagined.  I’m proud of handling the change with faith, and by being on the same team.

2. How can I become a better person?

I ABSOLUTELY must be better by asking for help.  Note to self: It takes a strong person to admit where they are weak, and to ask for help to become stronger.

3. Where am I feeling stuck?

In my pursuit of having a more healthy lifestyle. My current reasons have not been compelling enough, nor has my discipline been where it needs to be. I’m looking forward to overhauling this area, and really understanding my “why”; as well as creating SMART goals to make sure that I see the progress I desire.

4. Where do I need to allow myself grace?

In my role as a wife. Preacherman knows this more than anyone, but I am incredibly hard on myself.  I’ve decided to adopt Emily Ley’s motto as my own: “I will hold myself to a standard of GRACE not PERFECTION.”

5. Am I passionate about my career?

Yes! I love what I do, and who I serve. It’s been a huge area for growth, but it’s been rejuvenating and fun. I’m grateful for the opportunity to help students see the possibilities, and then make them realities.

6. What lessons have I learned?

Not so much lessons, but reminders: God is a faithful. God is love. God is a provider. God is…

7. What did my finances look like?

I’m extremely proud of our saving this year- we came up with a plan that works, and with God’s provision, we were able to handle a huge move in the short-term without taking much of hit.  This year, the goal is to live lean, save more, and to look for ways to build wealth.

8. How did I spend my free time?

Pre-move: lots of time was spent serving at church, and fellowshipping with friends and family.  Post-move: lots of time was spent on organizing our new home, getting acclimated to new jobs and a new area, and creating systems to make us more efficient.

9. How well did I take care of my body, mind, and soul?

I started out on a roll with all three- exercising and eating healthy, striving to learn new things, and purposefully seeking growth in my relationship with God.  As things got busy and life happened, I didn’t do as great of a job at balancing all three- I would maybe have 2 things going well, but missing the third one.  Again, I believe that creating SMART goals for 2014, along with clarity about what’s most important in this current stage of life will help me be better at all of these in the coming year.

10. How have I been open-minded?

In seeking, hearing, believing, and trusting the promises of God beyond what I can see or feel.  The circumstances of my life this year have required that I be more open to seeing, hearing, believing, and trusting the promises of God.

11. When did I feel most creatively inspired?

I don’t know if I can identify a time, but I know that I feel more creatively inspired to write (for this blog and otherwise) when I’m most balanced in my relationship with God and can hear Him clearly.

12. What projects have I completed?

Getting the new home organized and decorated.  It’s great coming home to a place that you love.

13. How have I procrastinated?

Dissertation.  See also #15.

14. In what ways can I re-structure my time?

Reducing some of the social media activity (although I LOVE the debates and conversations that take place on Twitter and FB), Scheduling meetings in the mornings, blocking out my day tasks- and not being afraid to say no to someone else’s “urgent” (your emergency is not my emergency) when it could be detrimental for me.

15. How have I allowed fear of failure hold me back?

Dissertation- the feedback that I have received while working on my dissertation has been the most critical feedback that I’ve ever received in academic work.  I’ve always enjoyed school, and I’ve always done well at it.  While I enjoy this, I find myself in a situation where I’m doing a ton of work that is extremely time consuming…only to get a significant amount of feedback of where you can improve.  It can be paralyzing to know that you’re doing all that you can to submit your best work and you KNOW that you’re going to get  a return email with your document…and even more corrections to make.  I definitely let this affect my mental approach to this work, and that CANNOT happen this year.  I need to keep the end goal in mind.

16. Where has self-doubt taken over?

In appearance- turning 30 in a workplace where the average employee is a female around the age of 23 or 24 and has their college metabolism and college body really forced me to think about what I wanted 30 to LOOK like and feel like for me, and how to really get to “my best self”.

In competence- my school work transitioned from classes to sole work on my dissertation.  I thought that without having classes, I’d miraculously have more time and the ideas and words would flow freely.  But that’s totally not what happened…and while I had moments of progress and inspiration, it wasn’t nearly as much as I’d hoped for.  When I coupled that with my inability to really master my time in the best way, I began to doubt my ability to complete the task at all.  I ended this year on a high note, making much progress and getting positive feedback from my dissertation chair.

17. When have I felt the most alive?

In moments with Preacherman and/or our little- working on math problems, making funfetti pancakes, watching the Cosby show, helping to wrap Christmas presents, singing “Jesus Loves Me” before bed, reciting our confession of faith together in the mornings.  All the little moments that I won’t always have.

18. How have I taught others to respect me?

Setting appropriate boundaries- especially at work has been extremely helpful here.  Being vocal about what I need, and refusing to take on too much has been incredibly helpful here also.

19. How can I improve my relationships?

Be more diligent in maintaining and creating them.  This is a challenge as an introvert, but it’s one that I need to overcome…particularly if I want to keep friends and make new ones.

20. Have I been unfair to anyone?

I hope not (LOL!).  I’ve probably been most guilty of being unfair in not extending the same grace to others that I would want extended to me.

21. Who do I need to forgive?

There are a few people who really hurt me over the past few years, and while it doesn’t hurt anymore; there are times where I find myself angry or frustrated about the way things panned out, especially after doing what I could to reconcile the situation. I need to be better about taking any negative thoughts captive and committing my mind to complete forgiveness.

22. Where is it time to let go?

Overworking/being a workaholic.  I need to place better energy on being productive while at work, and not always allowing things to carry over into home life. My first responsibility is to be the wife and steppie that God has called me to be.

23. What old habits would I like to release?

Being mean to myself/being too hard on myself. Grace, not perfection.

24. What new habits would I like to cultivate?

Consistency in reading: The Bible, devotionals, and other books to promote learning and growth

25. How can I be kind to myself?

As mentioned above, I think Emily Ley’s motto sums it up perfectly: “I will hold myself to a standard of GRACE not PERFECTION”


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Hosting Thanksgiving

“In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NKJV)

Today Preacherman and I will host our first Thanksgiving as a married couple.  Last year we celebrated our first married Thanksgiving with his family, and this year we are excited for them to make the trip to visit us in Jacksonville.

While I love spending time with family and friends, I also enjoy time to myself.  It’s something that I have accepted as a result of being an introvert.  I’ve never been one to host events or have lots of people over, so today is a huge stretch for me, and I’m determined for it to be a good experience.

I recognize that devil can manipulate great situations, forcing us to miss the blessings in front of us.  Because of that, I prepared the following reminders to help me navigate this first thanksgiving hosting:

Lord, when I feel overwhelmed by the presence of people, help me to remember the blessing of family and fellowship.

Lord, when I feel annoyed by the dishes and the laundry, help me to remember the blessing it is to have food to eat and clothes to wear.

Lord, when I am disturbed by the noise, help me to rest in your quietness and remember the blessing it is to be able to hear.

Lord, when I feel frustrated and cramped in my home, help me to remember the blessing of having a home and having those to share it with.

Lord, let my fellowship and my conversation encourage others and bring You glory.

Lord, let us seek ways to serve others as a demonstration of our gratitude for all that You have provided for us.

Lord, let me remember that in every circumstance, you are in control.

Lord, let me have fresh eyes to see the beauty and blessings in every moment.

I’m believing that today will be a great day.  Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours!

Be encouraged!  Peace and Blessings!