New goals, new year, new words.

Am I the only one that struggles all of January to not write in the previous year’s number??

I’ll go to date a letter, check, or get ready to journal about my new goals, and I can guarantee you that I’ll still be writing in ‘2016’ for the first little bit! ūüėÜDespite my yearly mixup, I really am excited every time we see a new year. New dreams, new goals, new victories… Last year I tried something new. Before I ever started writing down my goals, I picked a word or phrase to focus on, as a overall theme of sorts.

Tokyo Blossom Boutique Brilliant life planner 2017

My words for 2016 were ‘Dream Bigger’. I got to thinking about how often I limit myself and even what I think God can do. I knew in my heart of hearts that God can do more than we can ever imagine, but I would so often freeze up and not take a leap of faith just before things were about to get really good. So with that theme, I focused on asking God to help me let go of my fears and insecurities and help me to trust him when He brought an opportunity along that I was supposed to take.

So with that, I started moving forward, doing things while I was still scared, pushing past my insecurities, and trusting God to grow my faith in the process. I’m so grateful for the growth and opportunities I saw in 2016. It really helped me to realize how often I sell myself short and reaffirmed just how amazing the Lord really is. But with this new energy and confidence, I wanted 2017 to be a new chapter, so this year I chose ‘Intentional’.

I want this year to be a year where I take that confidence, energy, and time, and be intentional about how I apply it to things that God has put on my heart. It’s so easy to get distracted by all the good things we can be doing with our time, that often take away from the great things we are supposed to be doing. Not to say we can’t do other things, but having a theme going into the new year really helps to focus my squirrelly brain!

I hope your new year is full of faith growing experiences, answered prayers, and blessings. If you decide to have a theme, word, or phrase for the year I would love to hear about it! ‚ú®

Love,
Julie

P.S. This beautiful planner is the Brilliant Life Planner! I had the privilege of being on the launch team that get to help pick out the cover options! They gave me a coupon to share with you and you can find it here! 

*This post contains affiliate links. You can read more about it here!

The hardest letter I had to read…

I have so much to tell you about!! I had an amazing time at the Business Boutique conference I went to this week. It encouraged and inspired me to use the gifts and talents that God has given us to bring Him honor and glory. Everything that was said made me want to do more than make my business better. It made me do some soul searching and want to be a better Christian, wife, mother, and friend…

But through all of this amazingness, I got something that was hard… unexpected and difficult for me to receive.

Business Boutique Letter

I was given a letter… Now you’re probably reading this sweet and encouraging letter and wondering why on earth I would have trouble with it, but here’s what happened. Towards the end of the conference, we were told to write a short letter to exchange with another person at the conference. We were told to share our hearts and write words to encourage and bless them… so we did. But at the end of the event, rather than actually exchanging them, we were told to put our own names at the top of the letter.

I cried.

I want to bless and encourage others, but when it comes to my own struggles and accomplishments, that’s a whole different story. While I tell others that they are doing amazing, I look at my own growth and think it’s not enough. While I tell others to rest and take care of themselves, I tell myself that I’m lazy, when I take off from my work when I’m sick. I tell other moms to take it one day at a time, but in my mind I will never be a good enough housekeeper.

And what’s really hard is that none of these harsh words come from my friends or family… it’s all said silently to myself, in my heart and mind.

I don’t know if you struggle with this like I do, but I want you to know that you really are fearfully and wonderfully made. God doesn’t make accidents, He knew your every strength and quirk before you even existed, and He loves you with all of those details in mind. You were made in His image for the purpose of bringing Him honor and glory, so he made you unique.

This letter has my name at the top of it, but I wanted to send it to you, because it’s really meant for both of us. Remember that you are so amazingly made, by an incredible God that loved you enough to die for you! I hope that resting in that thought will breathe life into you like it did for me.

Love,
Julie

P.S. If you have been following along on Instagram or Facebook, my entry fee to have a pop up shop at the Business Boutique event next April got 100% funded this week!! Thank you so much for the support and encouragement. That meant the world to me!

P.S.S. If this post encouraged you, you can join my email club, and get similar, uplifting emails delivered to your inbox once a week!

3.11.11 Has it really been 5 years?

3.11.11… I’ll never forget that day.

I know this is a day early, but in Japan it was already 3/11, so I decided to go ahead and share this today. It’s humbling to think that so much could have changed in my life on 3.11.11, but God protected my family through it all. ‚̧ԳŹ

3.11.11 never forget pray for Japan

I will be getting back to ‘The Ice Cream Maker’ book tomorrow!

My 2016 February Birchbox Review

Remember that system I put in place to reward myself? My February¬†Birchbox came in on Saturday and I did a little review.¬†‚̧ԳŹ

My 2016 February Birchbox Review tokyo blossom boutique makeup skincare

By the way, I am not a Birchbox affiliate. The link is just a referral link to where I get a few points to put towards things in their shop. I’m endorsing the box because I was genuinely¬†impressed with them!!


I have to say that out of everything I got, I think my favorite items were the Pop Beauty matte lipstick and the Mally Girl stick eyeshadow that they threw in the box as a bonus!!

Stick with your goals for good!

goal setting tokyo blossom boutique mompreneur

I don’t know about you, but I always start the year out strong with all kinds of good intentions only to struggle mid February and the beginning of March. There are so many reasons why we can get sidetracked, but with these five tips, it will make it so much easier to stay on track!

Figure out what threw you off.

Instead of saying ‘oh well’ and ignoring the fact that you haven’t worked out in a couple of weeks, or¬†whatever your goals for this year are, stop and think about where you got of track. Did you have some unexpected circumstances?¬†Are you letting distractions get in the way? Whatever the reason, recognizing where you hit a bump in the road will help you to evaluate what changes you need to make to stay on course.

Are your goals still relevant?

Our lives can change so quickly! Sometimes unexpected things can happen that cause us to have to change our goals. Facing an unexpected job loss, a transfer or a great number of other things can affect wether or not our original goals are still realistic, or a good idea to pursue. As with everything, do some praying and soul searching before making any changes.

Is your family on board?

Have you talked to your family about your goals? As with any family, everyone has to work together to make the day to day go smoothly. We can make big plans, but if we don’t make sure our family is on board before we do them, it could cause tension and resentment. Talk to your family. Be open and honest about why you want to pursue these goals, but also be willing to hear them out on why or why not they think they are a good idea. Sometimes they have insight that we might have not¬†thought about.

Find accountability.

Anybody can say that they are going to do ‘X,Y,Z’ but sticking with it, is a different story. Even the most determined person is going to struggle at some point. Having a friend, spouse, or loved one who will be 100% honest with you and wants to see you succeed, will make it so much easier to stay on track.

Reward yourself.

Out of all of these steps, I am the worst about this one! I consider myself a pretty self motivated person, but then I never reward myself for accomplishing the tasks that I did. I would think about rewarding myself and then say things like ‘That’s a waste of money’, ‘I could be doing something for someone else’, ‘Or I could be using that money towards groceries’ and the list of excuses goes on and on. Those reasons sound good in theory, but eventually they cause total burn out. So for me, I found that getting a subscription box¬†was a great way for me to automatically reward myself each month without giving myself an opportunity to make excuses. Obviously if you are not a self motivated person, this approach might be a little counter productive, but find something that works for your personality type!

You can watch the replay right here!

Catch the show live on Periscope weekdays at 3pm EST!

 

By the way, I am not a Birchbox affiliate. The link is just a referral link to where I get a few points to put towards things in their shop. I’m endorsing the box because I was genuinely¬†impressed with them!!

So many blessings…

so many blessings tokyo blossom boutique

Have you counted your blessings today?

Have you ever met someone whose whole world seems to be falling apart, yet they always seem to have a smile on their face and their heart is full of gratitude? Or maybe you know someone who is just the opposite and always seems to have a problem with every little thing that is happening to them?

I’ve met plenty of both, and most of the time, the thankful people I have met have a little secret. You know what it is? They are consciously looking for God’s goodness and things to be thankful for.

I have a dear friend who is currently going through things that I honestly don’t know if I could handle, but every time I see her, she is concerned about me, and wants to know how I am. When her situation comes up, she continues to praise God for the good times and the bad.

What would our lives look like if we practiced ‘in everything give thanks’? We have a heavenly Father who loves us through the good and bad, and while we won’t always understand why certain things happen, think about Job. Through all of his trials, God was still there, Job remained faithful, and when it was all done, God blessed him more than ever. Or look at Joshua and Caleb. Out of all the spies who went to Canaan, they were the only two who were able to see all of the amazing things that God wanted them to claim in the promised land.

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

1 Thessalonians 5:18

Some days it may take more effort than others, but look around you… God is good and His blessings are everywhere. He’s so good to us!

 

Did you miss today’s Periscope show episode of Stand Up and Sparkle? You can watch the replay here!
Catch the show live on Periscope weekdays at 3pm EST!

The gift that changed my kid’s life.

Quality time The gift that changed my kid's life

We live in a¬†world that makes people think that the person with the most toys wins. Even our kid’s are taught to think that. Have you seen all the commercials at Christmas time, targeted at kids? There’s definitely nothing wrong with having things and appreciating what God blesses us with, but sometimes¬†we tend to think, “If I get my kid _____, they will be happy.”

Before I started running my business from home, I taught as a private music tutor for 5 1/2 years. I saw a LOT of families and kids come through the studio doors. I can’t tell you how many times the kids would tell me that their parents didn’t have time to help them with their music homework. I’m talking about little kids who really needed parental help to go over the music assignments that were give to them. Yet week after week, both the parent and student would tell me that “mommy or daddy didn’t have time this week.”

I saw this week after week, and while it made me really sad to see, I realized that I was just as guilty of doing the same thing. Sean was still pretty little at the time, but I would come home from work exhausted, do everything I could to do as little as possible, and put him to bed as early as I could. I no longer have to work quite as much, and it’s definitely helped, but it took more than a schedule change for me. It took a change in my attitude.

Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is His reward.

Psalm 127:3

We live in a busy world, and many of us have to work. But while we make time to buy our kids ‘things’ and to involve them in every extracurricular activity that we can think of, we forget that we have the power to give them a gift that could change their lives… reading a book together, building a blanket fort… 100% focused, quality time. It doesn’t cost money, and it doesn’t have to be extravagant. They just want you.

So we’ve started reading together, going through a devotional that’s on his level, and going to get a little treat after school without rushing off to the next things to do, because it’s the little moments of quality time¬†that communicate that we’re there for him.¬†I’m not a perfect mom. I’m no where near what I want to be. I don’t clean my bathrooms enough, and I’ve been guilty of not making my bed more times than I care to admit. But I’m telling you about this because it’s part of our story, and while every part of my life is a work in progress, I want you to know that you have a precious gift that can change your child’s life… YOU!

Did you miss today’s Periscope show episode of Stand Up and Sparkle? You can watch the replay here!
Catch the show live on Periscope weekdays at 3pm EST!

5 random acts of kindness

5 random acts of kindness-01

Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of photos floating around of people performing random acts of kindness or ‘paying it forward’. Isn’t it amazing how just a small gift or someone taking time out of their day to be thoughtful makes a world of difference? Today I’m going to be sharing some that I have seen and done recently, so I hope this inspires you to come up with some of your own! If you do decide to try some of these, be sure to post a photo and tag me on Twitter or Instagram¬†so I can check it out!

As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

Galatians 6:10

1. Buy someone a cupcake.

No seriously, buy someone a cupcake. I dare you! They won’t be able to help but smile. This happened to me just yesterday. One of my friends at church had found a buy 1 get 1 deal at a local cupcakery, so she picked me up a gluten free one for me to enjoy. Brownie points (pun totally intended) for thinking about food allergies and intolerances.

2. Write a letter.

For those of you who have been following me from the beginning, you’ve probably remember the post I did on how I keep my letter writing organized. In a world of text messages and emails, a simple letter really does stand out. If you have kids, let them scribble a picture in the corner of the card. It gives it an extra touch of sparkle.

3. Pay for the person behind you.

I went to grab a cup of coffee the other day after school, and after all the blessings I’ve been given over the last few months, I wanted to do something nice for the person behind me. I went through the drive through, paid for mine as well as the person behind me, got my coffee, and quickly left so I wouldn’t get any awkward stares. LOL

One time, a lady handed me a five dollar bill with a gospel tract paper clipped to it, and she said, “I’m from ____ church, and I just wanted you to know that Jesus loves you. Please buy yourself a cup of coffee.” This was several years ago, and I was going through a hard time. I don’t remember the lady’s name or the church she went to, but I have never forgotten that act of kindness and the plan of salvation clearly presented on the tract.

4. Tape a dollar to a water bottle.

My sister saw this in a snack shop recently. Someone taped a dollar and a little note that said ‘pay it forward’ to a bottled water in the refrigerated section. She didn’t buy the water, but just seeing it made her day!

5. Help someone who forgot their wallet.

Not everyone can afford to do this one, and you have to be really careful as to not get taken advantage of, but this happened to me about a month ago. I was in target getting ready to buy a new laundry hamper and a few odds and ends. They rang up all of my items when to my dismay, I realized that I had completely forgotten my debit card at home. I had no other cash with me so I ¬†apologized and was getting ready to walk away when a couple behind me said, “We’re going to take care of it”.

I was totally shocked and didn’t know what to say at first. I told them that I couldn’t let them do that, but they insisted and told me that I had better come and get it because they didn’t have room in their car for it. They looked like they had just gotten off of work, and yet after a long day, they still made the time to think of someone else.

How about you? What are you doing for others today? Tell me about it in the comments below!

Did you miss today’s Periscope show episode of Stand Up and Sparkle? You can watch the replay here! Catch the show live on Periscope weekdays at 3pm EST!

Try, try again…

try try again tokyo blossom boutique

 

You’ve probably heard the famous poem¬†that goes,

“Tis a lesson you should heed:
Try, try, try again.
If at first you don’t succeed,
Try, try, try again.‚ÄĚ

-Thomas H. Palmer

Up until recently, I always related the poem to when things didn’t work out or some sort of failure. But you know what I’ve realized? Sometimes it’s harder to ‘try, try again’ on the everyday choices and steps through life than it is to deal with not succeeding on the first attempt or having something not work out.

You’re building a business, and while you are super excited about it, the little mundane steps that help it to grow¬†are tiring and overwhelming. You started with passion, but now you wonder if you can really do it. Keep going my friend… Try, try again.

A parent who has a child who has to have speech or physical therapy might not see the significance in the daily drills and the exercises done at the weekly appointments. But give it a couple of months, a year… little words start to form, phrases, then one day I turn around and my son is having a conversation with me… Try, try again.

“It’s tempting to think ‘a little’ isn’t significant and that only ‘a lot’ matters. But most things that are important in life start very small and change very slowly, and they don’t come with fanfare and bright lights.”

-Fred Rogers

I found this quote by the beloved ‘Mr. Rogers’ while reading his book Many Ways to Say I Love You: Wisdom for Parents and Children from Mister Rogers, and while it pertains to parenting, how true is this of every area in life?

 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

-Philippians 3:14

Sometimes it can feel this way with my walk with the Lord. Simple things like taking the time to spend quiet moments with God and lifting up others in prayer can easily get swallowed up by a busy schedule if I am not careful, but those ‘little’ steps really aren’t little at all. Keep going, press toward the mark… try, try again.

Did you miss today’s Periscope show episode of Stand Up and Sparkle? You can watch the replay here!