21 Things I’m Looking Forward to in 2021

As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more. -Psalm 71:14

It can be difficult to see the possibility of change and blessings in such dark times. Last year sure was a ride! And while the pandemic has turned our lives upside down, it doesn’t mean our future has to look bleak. What are you hopeful about this year? Here are 21 things I’m looking forward to in 2021:

  1. Drawing nearer to Jesus
  2. Finding creative ways to spend time with my family
  3. More game playing
  4. Growing closer to my husband
  5. New adventures
  6. Increasing my trust in God
  7. Coming up with fresh content for my blog
  8. Cooking with our girls
  9. Teachings from God
  10. Being more present
  11. Reading the entire Bible
  12. Writing more poems
  13. Capturing Alaska with my camera
  14. Observing Alaskan wildlife
  15. Catching fat salmon
  16. Writing my book
  17. Continuing to heal
  18. Finding other ways to serve God
  19. Canning salmon and veggies
  20. Moving to the beach
  21. Collecting seashells at the coast

Even when life hammers us, and we aren’t sure what blow we’ll take next, let’s continue to put our hope in Jesus. Let’s praise Him and enjoy what we have been given. Find and cherish the small joys. Sometimes it’s just a matter of wiping enough of the fog from our lens to clearly see all that we have to be grateful for and the opportunities that await us.

So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun. -Ecclesiastes 8:15

Fuel Your Walk Friday

Fuel your walk with some Jesus and Joe.

I love Jesus and I love me an iced cuppa fresh cold brew halved with vanilla almond milk, so I recently started something new on my blog called “Fuel Your Walk Fridays”. What better way to combine the two and perk up the beginning of your weekend, than to “Fuel Your Walk” with some Jesus and Joe. Once a week, I will be posting a little snippet, thought, or questions to ponder in relation to your walk with Christ. So grab your favorite mug, pour yourself a delicious cuppa Joe and get comfy as you let these questions percolate in your mind:

The pandemic we are living through has brought many changes to our lives, including a change of pace and more time spent at home. And as it continues into the new year, it doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. What if God is using this time to draw you closer to Him? Will you heed the call?

© 2021 Aimee Phillippi

2020 Blessings Amidst the Pandemic

I don’t know about you, but I’m so ready for this year to be over. Before it’s over though, I need to remember the things God has blessed our family with. When I sent our family Christmas video this year, my childhood best friend texted back something that struck me- “So happy for all the blessings you’ve been shown this year.” She’s right. Although I’m having difficulty seeing them at this moment while struggling with a bout of depression, we have been shown many blessings. I’m hoping a little reflection on our year will help remind me of the positives and small joys God provided us with. Here are a few things we’ve been fortunate to experience this year:

His Presence-Always there for us no matter what we’re going through, God has been our rock through it all. He never fails us and we’re learning to trust Him more each day.

Family-Living through a pandemic can be a very lonely season, but we have each other to lean on during this difficult time. My husband is always doing so much for our family and our girls are forever trying to put a smile on my face.

Fresh Alaskan caught salmon-In September, right after arriving in Alaska, we caught and froze twenty-two meals of fresh salmon within a few weeks time, right in our back yard.

Safe Travels through Canada to Alaska-During a big move across the country we made it over the Canadian border to Alaska safe and sound without getting Covid.

Tubing in Bend, Oregon-We had a blast visiting Mt. Bachelor for the first time and getting some tubing in at the beginning of the year.

Seeing relatives-We got to visit my parents before our big move.

Finding a new favorite beach-After moving to Alaska and exploring new sites, we found our new favorite beach on the Kenai Peninsula.

A Summer on the river-For the second year in a row, we got to spend the summer off-grid camp hosting in beautiful Central Washington.

Seeing wildlife-On our drive through Canada, we spotted five bear and a couple of moose. Then, shortly after arriving in Alaska, a mama moose and her two calves strolled down our driveway and peeked right in our front window. We have also seen several bald eagles and one golden eagle fly overhead.

Halloween party fun-Instead of trick-or-treating this year, we surprised our girls with a Halloween party that included a fear-factor style game, a caramel apple bar, and a candy scavenger hunt.

New Recipes-With more time stuck indoors, I’ve had the chance to create several tasty new soup recipes. I also tried Shepherd’s Pie for the first time ever (I know, crazy!) and created my own yummy recipe that we can’t get enough of.

Technology-While still difficult, having the technology to Facetime relatives during Covid has helped to make these lock downs not quite so tough.

Craft time-Slowing down and creating upcycled crafts with our girls has brought me joy.

Vitamin B injections and other new supplements-I found some new treatments to really help lessen the fatigue caused by the persistent Lyme disease and chronic fatigue syndrome that I struggle with. This has made a world of difference.

My Yeti mug-For my birthday this summer, my parents bought me a “Duck, Duck, Moose” Yeti Mug that I just love. It brightens my day to drink my daily cold brew from it.

My husband’s job-Having already had a work-from home job before the pandemic, this has been a Godsend.

A new Christmas tradition-I mentioned in a previous post, that we started a new Christmas tradition writing Christmas Kindness Notes to each other beginning in December and throughout the month. We opened our stockings full of notes on Christmas Eve and it was so sweet to hear all the loving words written to each of us.

Doggie snuggles-I can always count on my pups for some afternoon snuggles.

Health-God has protected us and kept our family healthy.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. -Psalm 136:1

While I’m thankful that the year is coming to an end, I’m even more grateful for the adventures and memories He’s allowed us to make. So long 2020! Bring on the new year!

10 Verses to Chew on During the Pandemic

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I don’t know about you, but as someone who struggles with anxiety, living during this Covid pandemic has been extremely challenging. Fear pops up constantly.

What can we do to put the fear and anxiety to rest? Leaning on Him is first and foremost. We can also pray and meditate on His Word. Here are some helpful verses to get us through these trying times:

1. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. -Philippians 4:6

He says be anxious for nothing. NOTHING. Instead, send your prayers up, while thanking Him, and making your requests known to Him. We can thank Him ahead of time too, having faith that He hears us and will give us what we need.

2. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. -1 Peter 5:7

How comforting to know that we can cast it all on Him-every single worry, every single fear, we can throw His way, because He CARES. The definition of care is to look after and provide for the needs of. And He is the Great Provider. He provides for all of our needs, including the need for peace. We must be still and trust, knowing that He is God, and He will quiet our fears.

3. Anxiety in a person’s heart weighs him down, but an encouraging word brings him joy. -Proverbs 12:25

Focusing on our worries and fears will only perpetuate them. If you struggle with anxiety, it’s easy for a single worry to turn into ten and then comes the snowball effect. Pretty soon the anxiety is full-blown out of control and it’s heavy, oh so heavy and hindering. Instead of focusing on our fears, let’s fix our eyes on His word, because it can encourage us. His Word is alive. And He can use His word to uplift us and bring us joy and peace that the world cannot give, even in the most difficult of circumstances.

4. Come to me all of you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. -Matthew 11:28

When we are weary from the ways of the world. and the heavy loads of fear and anxiety are weighing us down, we always have a place to rest. Jesus says “I will give you rest.” Worry and stress can lead to an endless pit of exhaustion, but He will refresh us. Instead of grasping for a temporarily fix, let us rest in Him and be renewed.

5. And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? -Matthew 6:27

If anything, stress and anxiety will lower our immune system and make us more vulnerable to illness. And stress, can actually shorten our lives. So let’s put it ALL in His hands-every anxious thought, every concern, every uncertainty that is causing us distress. Let’s give every bit of it to Him. He will carry it for us.

6. Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all. -2 Thessalonians 3:16

When I am stressing or my anxiety is running wild, I’m not resting in the One who can and will fill me with His peace. When the worry kicks in, I have to make a concerted effort to turn my eyes toward Him and keep turning them towards Him, because it’s so easy to get caught up in the chaos of this world and glance the other way. The world is not where our peace is. He is.

7. A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. -Proverbs 17:22

Let’s break it down. Another word for crushed is overpowered. When our mind is overpowered by anxious thoughts, we can become brittle and more prone to a broken spirit. I think of how overpowering waves crash into land and slowly erode it. Stress and anxiety can do this to our minds and bodies over time.

When I think of crushed, I think of the word defeated. Medicine is used as a treatment for, or to prevent disease. Having a joyful heart can be looked at as being a preventative. It is good for our bodies and souls.

8. Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. -Ephesians 6:10-11

We need to fight daily against satan’s schemes to knock us down with our fears and anxiety. And we do this by putting on the full armor of God. We need to guard our hearts, our minds and our souls from the devil’s fiery darts of fear and stealthy ways of worry.

Be proactive and tighten the belt of Truth, so you can stand firm in the real Truth, rather than the world’s ideas. Put on the helmet of salvation and remind yourself Whose you are. Hold up the shield of faith to protect yourself with His Word. Strap on that breastplate of righteousness, staying close to Him, so that he can give you the kind of righteousness that can come only from Him. Do all you can to live and love like Him, being humble, honest, upright, honorable, and good to those around you. Grab hold of the sword of the Spirit-the Word of God, and pray always. And ready your feet to spread the Good News of the gospel of peace.

9. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. -2 Timothy 1:7

He has not made us fearful. Fear is from the enemy. God gives us peace and a sense of calm that only He can give. And God gives us a sound mind. I like how the amplified Bible expands on “sound mind”. It states:

…[He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgement and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control.]

10. You keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. -Isaiah 26:3

This is my very favorite verse. It’s one I turn to often when I am stressed or anxious. The peace He gives is beyond anything this world can give. He will blanket us with this peace if we keep our eyes fixed on Him and trust Him-but we must not let our eyes wander and let that fear slip in. We must guard our hearts and minds and not allow it to take over. Fear is the opposite of faith. And by putting our faith in Him, we are trusting. If we are in the fear though, we are not trusting.

Acceptance for the Win

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God can bring peace to your past, purpose to your present and hope to your future. -John 14:27

During this crazy, isolating pandemic, I needed a way to serve and God put it on my heart to share my story. Tired of posting snippets of my life on social media, where lives are made to look picture perfect, I took a break and God spoke. So, here I am! And I’m going to be real here, y’all. I want to show the messy, the imperfect, and the struggle in the journey. My journey has never been a straight line or even just a little crooked. It’s been a full on three steps forward, two steps back–again and again, twirls and zigzags, abrupt stops and detours, a cliff drop here and there where I’m hanging by a thread, a long crawl back up, and yet another stumble. I’ve battled abandonment issues, food addiction, chronic illness, postpartum depression and more. I often wonder why I was put on this Earth to begin with, because compared to the amount of suffering I’ve endured, I’ve experienced much less joy in my life. Maybe this blog is why. Maybe it’s not. I don’t know, but I have to believe that He has a purpose for my suffering. Maybe that purpose is telling my story to let others know they are not alone or maybe it’s to bring hope to those who are currently enduring hardships and need some light shed in their lives. Right now, I’m needing some light too. I’ll be honest. Today, I don’t have a lot of hope myself, but perhaps, as I write, I’ll find some in this blog as well, because this last week-heck this last year—or three, have been really, really rough.

A couple of weeks ago, the waves of life came crashing down yet again, just when we were beginning to get settled into our cozy little cabin in Alaska. This cabin, we found out, had toxic mold, so we had to move a second time. Not only that though, less than a week moved in and we have run into problem after problem with this newest abode. I noticed I was becoming REALLY angry-like blood boiling angry, and I know there is always something more behind the anger so I started digging around and realized that I’m struggling with acceptance. I have been in a full blown boxing match fighting with reality because I don’t like the temporary living situation we are currently in and since I haven’t been able to accept it, it’s causing me more suffering and more frustration. I don’t know why our lives have been full of trials-so many, many trials. But as I write this, I can see how exhausting and futile it has been to fight against the things I cannot change, so I must accept our current circumstances as they are for the moment. This doesn’t mean I have to like them or approve of them or that these circumstances are what I’m choosing, but they are what they are for right now. The more I resist, the more I will suffer, so I will choose the less painful road this time. I will be thankful for the things I do have and look for the lesson, while continuing to hope in the One who has carried me this far.

Tonight, as I wrestled with anger and acceptance, I remembered a passage from the A.A. Big Book that had helped me in the past. I pray that this will help you too:

“And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation-some fact of my life-unacceptable to me. I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake…unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and my attitudes.” Alcoholics Anonymous (Big Book), 4th Edition P. 417