4 Things You Should Do Every Morning

School has begun, life is crazy, and its easy for stress to start creeping up. About a year ago I made it a goal of mine to enjoy my mornings more. In result of being an athlete my entire life, I had become so accustom to waking up and getting out the door for practice in 13 minutes, that mornings were more of a blur than a time to appreciate.

When I stopping rowing, it took me a good 4 months before the sound of my alarm didn’t make my heart race and my stomach drop. I had to make a conscious effort to make mornings slow and enjoyable again. Here, you can read here about my morning routine (its kinda funny too, gifs and all), but today I wanted to share more about what I do to put myself in a healthy headspace for the day.

Say a prayer as you brush your teeth 

When you’re standing over the sink, looking at yourself in the mirror you should pray. Something quick and to the point. One of my mentors gave me the idea of having a certain topic to pray about, for every day of the week. For example: Mondays I pray for my family, Tuesdays for international issues, Wednesday for my relationships, etc. I find that when I start the day off with prayer it is easier for me to continue staying in connection with God for the rest of the day.

Do some positive reading before putting on your clothes 

I sit on the edge of my bed before changing clothes and I do a quick devotional, or a read a few pages of whatever inspirational book I’m reading at the time. Usually there are some good nuggets included and it becomes something I can meditate on for the day.

Set a healthy intention as your coffee drips 

This is one that really challenges me. You can read my journey on becoming more healthy here, and here, but really it takes small lifestyle changes to make any long term changes. So, in the morning I set one intention or goal for the day that specifically relates to my eating habits (I have no problem going to the gym, but if you do maybe that could be your thing). Lately, my two goals have been to only “indulge” when it is a social occasion with my friends, and to really pay attention to my hunger signals and eat only when my body is telling me it needs food (aka chill on the snacking, ‘lysse!).

Have a sense of gratitude for necessary appliances 

One of my co-workers planted this idea in my head and it really stuck with me. She told me that every morning she thanks her toilet and her shower for being there and doing their job. Simple and important huh!? So now I do this with my sink, shower, running water, toilet, and especially my coffee machine. In addition, I also say quick prayers for the farmers and the countries that my beloved coffee beans come from.

Are there any morning rituals you partake in?

Much love,

‘Lysse

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Guest Post by The Sister: Neg-a-tiv-i-ty

Neg-a-tiv-i-ty: the expression of criticism of or permission about something

Negativity is an epidemic that’s spread all around the world. It can be the most contagious and the most fatal. You never know what might hit you on the way to work or just to go out for the night, so it’s important to have the perfect vaccine.

When you walk into the doctor’s office to get your vaccine, you should know that you’re basically getting injected with a little of the virus. It’s almost like the same thing with negativity. It’s everywhere and it’s not going anywhere. Its going to get to you somehow, you just have to have the immune system to overcome it.  In my opinion, there are four ways to best overcome the plague; negativity.

First and foremost, you have to surround yourself with the right people. There’s a quote by some genius that reads, “You can’t keep dancing with the devil and ask why you’re still in hell.”  That pretty much sums it all up.  If you continually hang out with people who tend to bring you down or stress you out, don’t be surprised if you go home overwhelmed. If you ever feel irritated, anxious, pressured, or nervous around a certain group of people, they are not your people. Take a moment, realize how the negative energy is making you feel, and exclude yourself from the narrative that you probably didn’t ask to be a part of (lols T-Swift).  You are constantly being influenced by the people around you and you don’t even know it.  It could be as simple as everyone wanting to go see a horror movie and you following along even though you know darn well, you’ll sleep with the lights on and lose at least three hours of sleep. All that does is increase your electric bill and takes cash out the wallet for the Starbucks you’ll actually want to get in the morning. Try to neighbor yourself with people who uplift you instead of weigh you down.  Who do you laugh with the most and stress with the least?

Second, you can’t be a negative person. There is another quote by another genius that reads, “You can’t litter negativity everywhere and wonder why you have a trashy life.” Once again, that pretty much sums it up. Take note of how negativity makes you feel, and then, focus on not inflicting it on anyone else. Negativity is just as easily given as it is caught. If you’re having a bad day, don’t distribute that energy everywhere. When you constantly go around with a poor attitude, you are literally negativity in its truest form. If you feel like things around you are constantly ticking you off or you’re simply just not having a good day, channel you’re animosity into something productive. In the end, it’s better to center your “bad vibes” into something that will benefit you, rather than undermine others.

Last but most definitely not least, try you’re absolute best not to stress about it. Everything you do and everything that happens to you, happens for a reason. Wondering what the reason is, might be the most frustrating part, but knowing that there is a reason can be very reassuring. Continue to remind yourself that God has a plan for you and he is in absolute control over your life. Everything you go though is meant to happen and is meant to help you grow. All your roughest battles and biggest hardships are just road bumps on the way to a better you. It even comes down to remembering when Chick-fil-a forgets my Chick-fil-a sauce, it was for a reason. The Lord says in Jeremiah 29:11-14, “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you, and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” If that’s not comforting, I don’t know what else to tell you! Keep in mind that God has your back every minute of every day.

All in all, negativity is such an issue these days. Its spread through physical contact, social media, day to day conversations, and even the way you carry yourself. Know that by learning to stay away from it, not being it, and not stressing about it, is the fastest way to a cure.

xoxo,

Selea (The 16 year old sister to Lysse)

He Holds The Whole World in His Hands

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes..  Jeremiah 29:11-14

A conversation I had the other day reminded me of this book I read a few years ago, that preached the idea of having “audacious faith.” That if the plans we had for ourselves seemed easily attainable, or even realistic for where we are now, then they were not grand enough. That we should have so much faith in the God we serve that we would aspire for more. I do think goals and dreams are specific to the individual, and what seems “big” to one person, may not to another, but it got me thinking about my plans for the future.

As a college student, there is so much about my future that is unknown, and that in itself is scary! I don’t know when my boyfriend and I will ever live in the same state. I don’t know where I am going to get the money to carry out the dreams I have for after grad school and teaching. I don’t know if I will ever have the income to afford a farmhouse on a plot of land with a white farmers sink. In the process of thinking about all the steps and obstacles  required to reach my goals, I get suddenly overwhelmed with fear and doubt. In those moments I turn to the Lord. I lean on Him and I remember that I serve a big God, a God that provides, a God that can do exceedingly more than I can ask or think.

I know that if I have faith and put my life, my hopes and my dreams in God’s hands, He will show up for me, and for that I am thankful! I also know that what my dreams are may not be aligned with the plans God has for me. So, I pray that I will have an obedient heart. That I will have a relationship with the Lord that puts me in position to hear the directions God has for me, and that I will listen.
Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 2.03.31 PM I encourage you to put your future in God’s hands. To have faith in the power of God, but to also work hard and pursue what you want wholeheartedly. I promise you, it will give you a sense of freedom unlike anything else!

xoxo,

‘Lysse

Sunday Night Routine to Kickstart Your Week

 

 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28

Screen Shot 2016-07-16 at 4.29.41 PMSundays have become my favorite day of the week this summer. The ultimate day of rest and relaxation, just as God intended it to be. The week gets hectic and we often forget to take time for ourselves. Sundays are a great time to center in on the Lord, as well as your personal needs. When I pause and set aside the day for me, I always end the day feeling at peace and prepared for the week ahead. After church, and maybe brunch and shopping I come home to prepare for the week ahead. Here is my Sunday routine to start you week on track!

Write in your planner

If you’ve been a reader for a while you know how I feel about my planner. I like to have a solid picture of what is required of me for the coming week. Where I need to be, who I need to send a follow-up email to, who I need to remember to contact. As well as more personal things like, remembering to read, or buy milk, or study for the Praxis (tears).

Pick out your outfits

This is something I used to be better at, but picking out your clothes for the entire week is so helpful for getting ready in the morning. When I am really on my game, I pick out the earrings and necklaces I plan to wear as well. You don’t necessarily have to know exactly what day you are going to wear whatever outfit, but having complete options to choose from can take a crazy morning to a more organized one.

Plan meals for the week 

Alright, most of y’all know by now that I am “de-fluffing.” This has required that I am very attentive to each of my meals, which has led to me meal prepping. When I get home from church it seems as if I walk straight to the oven to preheat it to 350 so that I can start preparing my baked chicken. Yes, I do spend a good amount of time in the kitchen on Sunday’s but it pays off when I can just pull some tupperware out of the fridge when you’re in a rush on Thursday evening.

Wash your sheets 

It has probably been awhile, huh? Yeah, go ahead and wash them. You’ll thank yourself tonight.

Take time for yourself

Paint your nails. Deep condition your hair. Put on a face mask. Drink tea. Read a book. Sundays can be very busy, but all in all, it is suppose to be the day of rest and I really try to channel that at the end of my day. When 6pm rolls around and you are have freshly painted nails, moisturized hair, smooth skin, cuddle up in a clean bed with tea and a book you will feel SO FREAKING GOOD about yourself. Use this time to breathe, reflect, mentally prepare for the week.

Remember, you can always find rest from Jesus, for He is gentle and humble. Do you have your own Sunday night routine? Do you think you could try one of these steps? Let me know below!

xoxo,

‘Lysse

 

 

All You Have To Do is Slay

Untitled 1Oh hey guys! My name is Aubree Surrency and Lysse finally convinced me to create a post
as a guest blogger. I’ve never done this before so hang in there with me, it’ll be short and sweet…maybe. First of all, I would just like to mention that Lysse is a wonderful, God- fearing woman that I am blessed to call my friend. So the slogan of this post “All you have to do is Slay,” is dedicated to her. If you’re wondering how we came up with this slogan, it is actually an interesting story. One day we were in the car, traveling to McDonald’s, (the place you can always find Alysse) and she was playing Taylor Swift’s song “All you had to do was Stay.” I glanced over to look at the song and because I attempt to relate anything to the Queen Bey (Yes I am a Beyonce fan), I saw “All you have to do is slay.” I guess you can say it’s been our slogan ever since. So I hope y’all enjoy this post about ways to slay in your daily life, just like the Queen Bey herself.

  • In order to slay you first have to pray

Slaying and praying is extremely important, it is a daily activity. In order to slay you must first pray because praying is one of the most powerful acts you can partake in. Whether you wish to slay in your academics, social activities, relationships, or just life in general, praying is imperative to your success. God has a plan for you, one that you may not know at this moment. However, I want to tell you today that God has a plan for all of us and that plan is for us to slay, all day-every day. At times it seems as if no one is listening to our plans and aspirations for the future, but it is important to remember that God is always listening. So, just remember that when you are not slaying as much as you wish to, in whatever aspect of your life, just pray and God will hear you.

Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

 

  • In order to slay you must be confident in yourself

Queen Bey’s confidence in herself radiates through her performances, and is one of the reasons why she is such a powerful Black woman. Despite the criticism about her Formation video, she continued to stay true to herself and her beliefs. I believe she taught us the lesson that you must have confidence and love for yourself despite what others think of you. Of course everyone goes through hardships, but overall you must believe in yourself and then slaying becomes a lot easier. Therefore, you must conqueror life with an “I ain’t sorry” attitude (reference to “Sorry”-Beyonce). Now, this does not mean to partake in harmful activities. Instead, it suggests that we should stop consuming ourselves with what others think about us or who is going where and doing what because honestly, will it matter in 5 years? We should use this valuable time to think about what we are slaying at in our own lives and are proud of, instead comparing ourselves to the standards of society. Love yourself, what you do, and continue to slay at the amazing things you are awesome at.

  • Slay with your friends

Lastly, it is important to slay with your friends! This tip is a shout out to my lovely friends in S.A.A.A. Shontell (read her guest post here), Alysse, and Alexis; I had no idea how wonderful our friendship would be when we met first year. However, their love and support has gotten me through these three years and I am excited for our last year together at the University of Virginia. Slaying on the daily with them has made school less stressful, hardships more bearable and life tons of fun. So guys, slay with the friends of yours that encourage you, challenge you and love you. Slay with the friends who will support you in all your decisions, correct you when you are wrong and love you through it all. Slay with the friends that have the same passions as you, for example a love for the Lord. Slay with the friends that you can trust and lean on at any hour of the day. In order to slay you need a support system, what better support system is one with your friends?

Well, that’s all I have for you guys, but I hope you’ve enjoyed slaying 101. Eat, pray, slay and do it with friends! Also always remember, as Beyonce stated, “Always stay gracious best revenge is your paper.”

xoxo,

Aubree

I Don’t Know What’s Coming, But it’s Gonna Be Good

Alright so its been 3-days since seeing my favorite band, Johnnyswim in concert. In August, the beginning of this school year, I got to see them in concert for the first time and it was a magical experience. It was in a small intimate setting, and it just gave me so many feels. One of my favorite songs of theirs is called Adelina, and I can remember hearing them sing:

“I don’t know whats coming, but its gonna be good, gonna be good…” 

After they repeated that 3-4 times I decided this is officially worship time (lols) and I stood there with tears running down my face really meditating on the lyrics, sincerely hoping that whatever comes next is better than what I’ve been going through.

On Monday, almost 8 months later, I saw Johnnyswim in concert again. When they sung Adelina I teared up again, but not because I was overwhelmed by life and school, or heart broken and frustrated. This time I cried because I was so proud of how far I’ve come. I stood there and reflected on all I’ve accomplished and gained this year because the Alysse 8 months ago had none of this planned. But you know what, I serve a great God and He is always working.

If this is you, then keep your head up and stay faithful to the Lord. He has plans bigger than you can even imagine but we must learn to operate on His time. Be encouraged, you are the Sun, and you will rise again.

A Look Back at the Letter to my 3rd Year Self

Ain't no rain getting in my way What's broken

In August, the day before the first day of the semester I wrote a letter to myself about what I wanted to accomplish that semester. Below are some quotes and reflections from the post, but feel free to read the whole thing here.

Your second year was a marathon, and you were crawling at the end, so don’t put yourself in that position again.

  • This quote is referencing how emotionally draining second year was for me. I’m proud to say last semester was a 1,000 times better. I did a way better job at keeping in touch with what I needed and at knowing what would be too much for me. The adversity I dealt with has really helped me learn more about who I am which sounds cliche but is actually really helpful when doing life.

Work hard in school, and know that you are the queen of time management and will get everything done. Do well on your first midterm so you don’t have to stress later.

  • Last semester was the best semester I’ve had so far and I was finally able to get all A’s! Doing well on the first midterm/paper is so important because it literally sets you up to do well the rest of the semester because you don’t have to stress about pulling yourself out of a hole.

Love Jesus and know His grace.

  • This will always be something I want to get better at! This semester I want to simply be more intentional in how I love Jesus, and how I show his love to those around me.

Never stop loving as hard as you do. But protect yourself.

  • With each  “situation” I find that I am getting better at the protecting yourself concept. In my opinion, having walls up in the name of self-care is not always a bad thing. I am really happy with where I am right now, and I am not looking to mess with that.

 

I’m proof that the Sun definitely rises again.

Its not me, It’s Him

Hey friends! So, I had planned to drop a new post I have been working on, entitled: “My Thoughts on Becoming a Teacher” (check back later this week) but then I went to a Christian ministry service here on Grounds and it gave me some time to reflect. In the service tonight we were asked to reflect on some ways God has been faithful in our life? Immediately, I thought about school.

Many of my prayers for the past 5-7years have been surrounded around doing well in school and getting into school (wahoowa!), in order to set myself up for my future goals (grad school? a job? both? see next blog post!) As of right now, I feel I am in a really good space academically, and for a while there I was giving myself all the credit. People ask me, “Alysse, how do you balance all your clubs, meetings, schoolwork, (sleep maybe) and keep such a positive attitude?!” My response would usually be, “well it’s all about planning, being organized and efficient with your time” and then I would probably go off on a tangent about how important planners are.

But I was wrong. Jesus is the reason I am able to balance everything so well. Its not me, its Him. 

I lean on Jesus in my moments of stress. I draw strength from Him. I know I can call on His name and He will be there. I would not be where I am today without the grace of God, and I need to do a better job of giving Him that glory. So next time someone asks me how I handle it all, Jesus will get the credit first, then my planner.

2 Months and 1 Day Later….

Tonight, our Athletes in Action/Fellowship for Christian Athletes student leaders group, had bible study and reviewed a passage, (Isaiah 26th) that we previously worked through a day before the semester started. August 24th, exactly 2 months and 1 day ago. As we talked about the chapter we worked through a handout that had questions such as:

“What is God calling you to trust him with this semester?”

“What do you need to give over to Him so that you can walk in the goodness of his ways?”

“What in your life is taking God’s place?”

Tonight, I answered those same questions again and then reflected on how God has worked in my life this semester, what I still
need to be praying about, and also things I completely forgot I wrote down. I really enjoy doing activities like this because it gives me concrete examples of the growth I’ve made. I write a lot so I always have material to reflect on, but if you don’t often put your feelings on paper I recommend finding/creating a list of questions and answering them every 2-3 months to track your own growth, as a person and/or in your relationship with the Lord.

I would love to hear about different methods you use for reflection, and/or prompts you might use for journaling!

In Case You’re Feeling Like a Fake

Have you ever sat in church and felt like you shouldn’t be there? Do you ever feel so distant from God that you don’t see why or how you are going to fix things? Do you ever blatantly disobey the Lord and feel little remorse?

Do you ever feel like a “Fake Christian”?

Over the past month or so this is exactly how I have been feeling. I could blame not being in school and therefore not being in my routine for why I haven’t been reading the Bible. I could blame not being around my christian community for not having anyone to keep me accountable. I could blame my work schedule for leaving me busy and tired, but no. It is really my fault and there are no excuses. Screen Shot 2015-08-10 at 10.24.52 PM

The other week I met with the women who has been discipling me over the past year and she asked how my “Jesus life” was going. In efforts to be honest I just came out and said that I was feeling like a fraud. I went on to explain how far behind I am in my Bible reading plan, and how far away I have felt from God. She immediately reminded me that this is happens to everyone and that the devil is who is making me feel like I am a fake. In reality, God is trying to draw me back in, and I just need to cancel out one and focus on the other. In the moment I felt relieved and encouraged but the feeling didn’t last long.

That conversation was at least two weeks ago, and I still have not given a real effort to spend time with the Lord, and I think I know why. I am hiding. When I sin, and I know I am sinning I feel as if I need to hide. Like who would I be to sin, then open my Bible later that night and stand directly in God’s spotlight?! Well guys, it turns out that God can see me no matter what. Obviously I know that but it doesn’t make things easier. I also tell myself that when I decide to stop sinning I can run back to the Lord, repent, then get back on track. I am right, I can do that, but that is taking advantage of God’s grace, that is not how it is suppose to work.

So here I am feeling like a fake and feeling like it’s the wrong time to turn back to the Lord. But really, there is no better time then now. I am reminded of the story of the prodigal son. He turned his back on his family and did everything wrong, but when he decided to come back home, he was celebrated and welcomed with open arms despite his obvious mistakes! Beautiful right? 

God knows what we have done, it is impossible to hide, and because we know we are wrong, and because we know we need Him it is time to come back home. Run back into the arms of the Father. Let him celebrate your homecoming, and realize that you were never a fake, you are a child of God and He will always celebrate your return.