taking time for myself

I think this next week I'll be taking conscious efforts to slow down a bit. I'm not one of those people who likes to have a constantly full schedule. I thrive off of down time. I love having time to rearrange trinkets, read a good book, and browse my favorite blogs. These last two weeks have felt a bit all over the place and I haven't had much time to do those silly things. I call them silly like I should be defending my love for them, but in reality I think every one could use to settle down their crazy schedules and read a good book or redesign their dusted mantle. My heart feels rested and creative juices reenergized when I make time for these things, it's really not so silly when you think of it like that.

With that being said, there's a cozy blanket and page-turning book waiting for me on the couch :)

here's to books, and reading lots of them

After my last post, I think today calls for something lighter, and a bit more colorful. Thus, books. 

I talked about this in my goals post, but for the sake of avoiding link overload, I won't link that post here. However, it's about 2 down from this one if you wanted to check it out.


I want to read more of them, and especially these colorful classics. I usually get a bit lost in the classic novels, but I'd like to push myself a bit more this next year and navigate my way through the difficult language they often use. 

I have always loved to read and only within the last couple of years have I struggled to find books that keep me hooked for more than 7 or so chapters. I read a lot of great books last year, but I also started and never finished a lot of so-so, "B list" books. A possible future blog post topic?? I need a page turner to keep me interested, I can't have any of that Nicholas Sparks mushy stuff. Throw me a thriller with intense, controversial topics and you won't move me from the couch!

In addition to the classics, here's a few of the books on my list this year: The Divergent series [namely because it's said to mirror the Hunger Games trilogy with it's Utopian feel], Salem Falls, and I'd really like to finish the Harry Potter series! I don't know about you, but sometimes I suffer from impulse book buying. It's a real thing! I love to buy books, so I'd also like to work my way through the many piles of unread books stashed on my bookshelf. 

Do you read books? What are some of your favorite authors? Sure I have tons of "to-reads" stashed on my shelf, but I'm always happy to impulsively add to that collection :)

If you don't know where to start

Sitting down for a daily devotional time has always been a struggle of mine. And before you click the "X" in the top corner because you're not trying to read another boring blog post about church and Bibles, just hang with me for a minute. It's never been that I didn't believe, or that I sought to discover truths elsewhere. In fact, there have been brief periods in life where my personal study time was thriving and my Jesus thumping heart was popping out of my chest. But like most people, that excitement fades in and out over time when life picks up and more or less, gets in the way. However, I think there were multiple factors involved in my lack of Bible reading.

You see, I grew up with Bible teaching Christians all around me. I grew up in a Baptist church [until 8th grade] and went to a highly conservative Christian school starting in 5th grade. It wasn't until my freshman year in high school that I ventured into a world quite unfamiliar to me, that of public school where political correctness and talking about Jesus didn't really coincide. That year of my life is another blog post in and of itself, so I won't get into that right now. Needless to say, I found my way back to the conservative Christian school and into my comfort zone of Bible teaching Christians.

There were a LOT of things I didn't agree with in my private school and even more things I didn't agree with from the Baptist church I grew up in. But the constant presence of "good people," and the Bible really put me into a comfort zone of sorts. It was so easy to keep up on everything because it was fed to me everywhere I looked.

This isn't a post to say that I lost it once I stepped into the real world because I had been so sheltered all of my life. In fact, that couldn't be further from the truth because I had an amazing support system of friends and wonderful parents that didn't "hide" the real world from me during my youth. But it is a post to say that I lost my groove for a period of time.

There were months, if not years where I didn't open my Bible outside of church. I would leave my Bible in the car just to avoid the guilt I faced each time I saw it sitting on my nightstand collecting dust. Rest assured, I'd remove the dust each Sunday morning so it didn't stare me straight in the face while I sat in church. During this so to speak dry spell, it wasn't that I stopped believing. But the thought of opening my Bible and digging into it just seemed daunting. I mean, I had to do this on my own now. I had to figure out what stuff meant and how genealogies connected, which translation was correct and decide where to start.

The all to familiar stories like Noah's Ark, Jesus feeding the five thousand, and The good Samaritan became fuzzy to me and facing the facts that I had actually forgotten details surrounding some of the most "famous" stories in the Bible embarrassed me. So instead of trying to remember these stories I just shut down and decided it was just "too confusing," to seek out answers. Instead, I read a lot of really good Christian books. I let other authors do the hard part. Instead of opening the Bible for myself, I relied on some of the best Christian authors to interpret who Jesus was to me. Woops.

God has been working on my heart for the last few months though. He's been working on it in so many ways that I had no idea even needed "working." He's really shown me the importance of opening the Bible and reading it. Not opening a book from your favorite Christian author and reading it, not listening to sermons from your Pastor on podcast, but the Bible. Don't allow another person to interpret who God is to you. Find out who God is on your own! It's great that Max Lucado and Beth Moore have created such a wonderful line of helpful books to read. But that's really all they are, just books with slanted opinions. The things mentioned above are all wonderful tools that help us grow, but they should never replace the good old fashioned concept of actually opening your Bible.

So if you're like me and looking at your Bible scares you and seems daunting, just know that it's normal. It's a huge book full of history, stories, love, grace, and so many other things. But the secret I've discovered in the last few weeks is just doing it. Something changed in my heart and I decided that I was tired of saying no so I just said yes!

I found an amazing online community of other women studying the Bible called She Reads Truth. The studies from SRT have been really encouraging and I'm so glad that God dropped that gem into my lap. I also picked up a Daily Reading Bible from the bookstore which will take me through the entire Bible in one year. I don't remember the last time I was this excited to read the Bible every day, but something clicked and God really stirred up a desire in my heart to see this goal through.

So, if you don't know where to start, just start at the beginning. I encourage you to make it easier on yourself and grab a daily reading Bible or a One Year Bible as a tool to help you dive in! I've found that in just the few weeks that I've started doing these things I've seen huge changes in my spirit, and I know you will too :)

The year of intentional living | 2 0 1 4

2 0 1 4  is here and although I, nor any other person is awesome at keeping resolutions, I’ve decided that it’s fair to give myself and my business a few goals to acknowledge through out this next year!
Okay self, listen.
G o a l   O n e  | Maintain a steady quiet time through out twenty-fourteen, at least once a day. If you’re feeling crazy then aim for morning and night but if nothing more, at least once. Let’s be real, the least you could do is offer your Heavenly Father an hour each day. Right now you’re on day 3 of studying women in the Bible and it feels fantastic, remember how much better your day is when it starts and ends with God.
G o a l   T w o  | Time management. To be frank, your time management skills are near awful. Set office hours, set timers, focus, be organized. Be conscious of how your time is spent, away from work. It’s okay to relax and it’s okay to take time off but laziness isn’t okay. Limit yourself to checking instagram twice per day, an nothing more.
G o a l   T h r e e | Unplug once a month [eventually once a week?]. Be present with friends, family, and especially your husband. Pick your day at the beginning of the month so you know it’s coming. Make this day together special and don’t cheat. No phone or computer.
G o a l   F o u r   | Your business will only grow if you tend to it. Blog, network, practice, learn, grow, give Jesus all credit and praise. Set monthly goals for Nicole Dianne and keep up with those goals. January goals: blog twice per week & update images on your website [your galleries are almost a year old, let's catch up]. 
G o a l   F i v e  | Read more books. You love books, they’re all over your house. Commit to finishing one of them for goodness sakes. This rolls back to goals two and three, managing your time and unplugging more often. The more you unplug and manage your time better, the more time you’ll have to enjoy the luxury of reading a good book.
If I were to sum up my goals for 2014 into one word, it would be intentional. ”Intentional: [done on purpose; deliberate].” With out intentionally thinking through and praying over these goals each month, it’s likely they won’t be carried out to the fullest. It’s my hope that I’ll remember to check in each month and cross things off the list as better habits form.  Though I intend to keep up with everything mentioned above, intentional living will go beyond these five goals, and dip into the deepest desire of my heart. I desperately want to show those closest to me and those who are mere acquaintances the love of Christ, and how drastically He changes lives. God has been speaking to me a lot in this area, urging me to share my testimony and “do the uncomfortable.” So if I randomly talk to you about God, just go with it…I’m only trying to obey the One who created you and I, and I want you to know Him too :)

Here’s to an intentional 2014 filled with blessings for you and I both!