Zero-Waste.

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Zero Waste.

I’m sure you’ve seen this phrase floating around the internet. It seems extreme, impossible, and only for the craziest of hippie freaks. It sounds like something far more time-consuming and expensive than any of us have the resources to explore.Well, don’t let the name overwhelm you – going zero-waste, or making zero-waste choices is awesome.

What is Zero Waste?

Zero Waste is a philosophy that encourages the redesign of resource life cycles so that all products are reused. No trash is sent to landfills or incinerators. The process recommended is one similar to the way that resources are reused in nature.

Why Zero Waste? 

For me, it’s the environment. Please don’t take my word for it – do your research! Look up “Trash in nature” or “trash in the oceans” in Google Images. Check out THIS video by National Geographic. Read a lot and make your own decisions. Personally, while I believe in a sovereign God, I also believe that He lets us make our own choices and allows us to live with the consequences of those choices. When I’m 75 years old, I want to croak my way to a clean and beautiful beach with my grandchildren to watch them swim in the waves – but what if it’s so filled with garbage and waste that it’s un-swimmable? What if trips to the beach become a thing of the past because we’ve filled the oceans and beaches with our garbage? How many animals are going to go extinct because of our poor choices? “Oh I remember when there were dolphins…” We have a responsibility as residents of this planet to take care of it as best as we can – and one of the ways I’m choosing to do that is to make zero-waste decisions in my life. And believe me, I’m not a purist! I don’t keep all my trash in a jar like Laura Singer from Trash is for Tossers, I don’t buy everything in bulk and I definitely don’t use reusable feminine products. I make a couple simple easy substitutions – and if we all made those small, easy substitutions we, as a collective, would make a huge difference on the amount of trash in our world.

Another good thing about zero-waste, it goes hand-in-hand with a couple other Pillars of the natural lifestyle: healthy chemical free products, living on a budget and minimalism. Without zero-waste you go to Ulta and buy a bunch of chemical laden make-up, lotion and hair products. This is costing you quite a bit of money (even if you’re cheap, like me!), it’s bad for your skin and it takes up a lot of space in your cabinets. What if you exchanged it for the zero-waste option? Bulk Dr. Bronners soap in the shower, a jar or two of homemade make up (or Lush products which are fabulous), and a pretty glass spray bottle of homemade salty spray hair texturizer. Zero-waste, minimalist, healthy, non-toxic and, for the most part, budget friendly.

What I Do

  1. Take a look at your trash. I just want you to start thinking about how much trash your putting out each day, each week. Make a mental note when you take the trash to the dumpster – when was the last time you took it out? What’s in the bag? Lots of things that could be composted or recycled? Assess and evaluate so you know where you can adjust.
  2. Use reusable grocery bags. Keep a few reusable tote bags in your purse or the trunk of your car and simply use those over and over again. The key here is remembering to use them, and seriously I’ve forgotten so many times. But that’s ok! Just do your best. One less grocery bag dancing in the wind is a win in my book! You can buy some really pretty reusable tote bags and produce bags online, but I bought mine at the thrift store for like 25 cents each, after a thorough washing they are perfect and ready to go. I also have an amazing compact bag that fits in even my smallest purses and carries a lot when it’s open. (P.S. one more tip if you do forget to use your cloth bags – ask your grocer to fill up the plastic bags as much as possible so as to use less of them, or ask for paper bags and use them for wrapping paper)zero waste2
  3. Say “No” to paper towels and paper napkins. Get a bunch of old towels at the thrift store to use for your messiest household needs. Use cloth napkins instead of disposable ones. I haven’t had paper napkins at my house for like two years and seriously, we’ve been totally fine without them.
  4. Get a reusable water bottle. The plastic disposable ones are seriously littered everywhere and also, hello! made of crud plastic. Get a cute reusable one! I had a gorgeous glass water bottle for a while, metal will also work, but my favorite so far is my Nalgene. Yes, it’s plastic, but it’s BPA free (MAKE SURE YOURS IS BPA FREE). This is also a much cheaper alternative because, guess what’s free?? Tap water! If you’re a water snob (no judgement here) get a water filter.
  5. Choose the thrift store. This is my favorite tip. Thrift stores are sustainable, fair trade and really really fun (see my post HERE on thrift store tips). Take your old stuff to the thrift store, then turn around and buy what you need. Everything doesn’t need to be new! And if your coat button falls off, for heaven sakes just sew it back on. Make do and mend.
  6. Choose something besides plastic. I’m looking around my house right now and happily, not seeing much plastic. Instead I’m surrounded by smooth wood tables, glass and ceramic decor, metal dining chairs, stainless steel appliances. Choose metal, glass or other strong, recyclable materials.

What if we all did a couple of these things? Imagine the impact! I promise, I’m not a conspiracy theorist or a crazed environmentalist – but I truly believe that if we all just make a few intentional choices in the way we do life that we can truly make this world a cleaner and more beautiful place.

If you want more on Zero-Waste, here are some of my favorite places to look:

Zero Waste Home – this woman, Bea Johnson, is a pioneer of the zero-waste sustainable movement. And I love her tips! Doesn’t she make this lifestyle sound minimalistic and beautiful?

Trash is for Tossers – Laura Singer, lots of great tips and resources on her website. She’s a big name in the zero-waste world.

Going Zero Waste – This girl has so much information! Lots of good stuff.

The Picture of Mary – Lots of great videos. This girl is more “normal girl” to me then a lot of zero-wasters and I appreciate that a lot.

Let me know what you think! Have you adopted any sustainable zero-waster lifestyle choices?

7 Little Steps for Pep

Bad days are the worst. Even more annoying, when a bad day turns into a bad week, nothing goes right, you’re stressed up to your eyeballs and all you want to do is binge Netflix and eat junk food. Little steps for pep aren’t going to solve all your problems, and, disclaimer, these little tips aren’t going to cure anyone’s depression or illness. But I can also almost guarantee that these steps will brighten your spirit, even if just for an hour or an evening. And everyone could you use a sunshine break when their head is full of clouds. Consider this your bad-day restart:

  1. Turn off the TV. Put away your phone.
  2. Brush your teeth, brush your hair, put on real human clothes (PJs don’t count.)
  3. Turn on your happy music. You can find My Happy Music right HERE.
  4. Clean up. Set the timer for 15 minutes and tidy up your home or your bedroom. You’ll be amazed what you can get done in 15 minutes and you’ll already feel so much better with a made bed, clear surfaces and washed dishes.
  5. If it’s a nice enough day (read: not blazing hot, snowing or in the middle of a hurricane) open the windows, let some fresh air blow away all those netflix-inducing cobwebs.
  6. Light a candle. Stare at the flame for at least 15 seconds, take a few deep breaths.
  7. Take your time as you brew some coffee, a cup of tea, hot chocolate or whatever beverage you love. Something to make you two hand sip and go, “Mmm…” In fact, I want you to actually two hand sip that drink and give me a verbal, “Mmm”. Close your eyes, savor the heck out of that moment.

Not that you’re pepped, here’s a few great, healthy things you can do:

  • Go for a walk.
  • Call your mom, best friend or sister for a chat.
  • Cook up a yummy, nourishing meal.
  • Bask in some sunshine (always a win in my book!)
  • Write in your journal.
  • Do a fun project, embrace your DIY side and don’t even think about worrying if it turns out perfect or not.
  • Organize a drawer, your closet or even a whole room.
  • Read a good book.
  • Draw something, even if you think you’re bad at it.
  • Go out with friends!

Take some time for self-care on a bad day. You don’t have to be a tough guy all the time, sometimes it’s ok to step back, step down and truly pause.

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Thrifting (an exhaustive study)

I’ve been thinking about this post for years. I really feel like we’ve talked about this already, but I am obsessed with thrifting. It’s a version of self-expression for me and it’s so much more fun than shopping at any “basic” store. If you go into American Eagle or Charlotte Russe, they tell you how to wear their clothes. And, as much as I love the American Eagle style, I end up never buying anything because in order to wear one of their pieces you have to wear it with another one of their pieces. And I’m really not interested in being an advertisement for any company or business (besides my own, of course).

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Note** If you don’t care about style this post really isn’t for you! This isn’t a guideline for all women, this is a “if you care about style like I do, if it’s fun for you, here are my findings”. If you don’t care much about style or shopping or what you wear I have a lot of other posts about other things that you might enjoy more :)

I thought about my reasons for thrifting and realized that I really only have two:

  1. Price. I can buy 5 items for $25 at a thrift store or one item for $25 anywhere else (on a good day). You do the math.
  2. Self expression. I get to choose my own style without a store agenda being shoved down my throat.

 

So yesterday I went to Goodwill and The Salvation Army to find some mom jeans (a blog post for another day!) and here are some tips I thought of along the way… (Also I’ve added a few pictures of me sporting some of my favorite thrifted pieces)

Before You Go

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Before you go thrifting you need to arm yourself with the knowledge of two things:
1. what’s in style and
2. what works for you and what doesn’t.

Let’s begin with point number one…“What’s in Style”. I am not talking about what’s in style at Abecrombie or Target. If that’s the style “standard” for which you hold yourself to than I can guarantee you won’t find anything at a thrift store to your liking (or if you do it’ll be “so 5-7 years ago” or grungy and you’ll give up all faith in thrift stores which is not ok!!). Your standard for trends needs to come from a bigger industry, the fashion industry. The fashion industry guides Target in the details, but why not just go straight to the source for your guide? According to several articles I’ve found online, a couple of Autumn 2016 trends that I’m interested in are: shearling, lace and velvet. I’ve also seen that denim trends are leaning away from the skinny jeans of our mid-2000s past and leaning more toward a thicker, all-cotton denim with a high waist (mom jeans). Another thing to keep a look out for is silhouette. Remember the leggings, tall boots and big flannel trend of 2010? That was a silhouette. Now, and you can see it everywhere, the silhouette is more high waisted and crop tops with ankle boots or sneakers. Hello 90’s! Having an idea of what’s on trend right now will keep you looking modern. Thrift store shopping isn’t a faux paux, but looking like you walked out of a 1980’s catalog is! You want to be able to find quality thrift store pieces that still look modern and stylish.

Secondly, what works for you and what doesn’t? This, again, needs a post of it’s own. But there are a few basics to figure out – Style, Color and Body Type.

– What’s your style? Are you a classic? Edgy? Glam? If you prefer classic pieces you will shop very differently from someone who is more eclectic. For example, I am not at all “Glam”. I will go into a thrift store, try on a fabulous sequin dress, look amazing and still not buy the dress because I will never feel comfortable in it (and I actually did buy the dress and never wore it, bad choice). I prefer more of a natural, soft, eclectic, vintage look with a touch of edgy, it’s what I’m drawn to and the style I tend to create out of the items in my closet. Knowing this allows me to not waste time or money on pieces that aren’t “me”.

– What colors look best on you? Are you a “summer”, “winter”, “fall” coloring? Within the last 6 months I figured out that I am what’s known as a “soft summer”.
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These colors on the left are the ones I keep my eye out for in thrift stores (and everywhere), and they look amazing on me and make me feel my best. The ones on the right I steer clear of (even my beloved black! sob!). Thrift stores are often sorted by color, so this makes my life much easier. I’ve learned that for a color to be right for me, it must be dusty, soft and slightly gray. Another trait of a “soft summer” is soft and delicate patterns and textures and shapes. So while I originally loved the sharp minimalism look and edgy “off duty model” styles, I learned that I won’t look my best in these. But, going back to finding your personal style, keep balanced and be true to what you love and feel good in. My personality isn’t ruffles and rosebuds, but I can still buy a chic dusty purple leather jacket or a soft gray tee, staying true to my colors, my style and my personality for a look that is perfect for me. Like I said, there’s so much to this, enough for it’s own post. I’d love to help you find your colors and personal style, so just ask me if you need some help! You can also look at Pinterest (where I found the image above) and online for “Seasonal Color Analysis” to help you find your color profile.

– The last thing you need to know about yourself is body type. No, I didn’t say body hate, I said body type. Every body is different and beautiful, especially if you choose the pieces that work best for you! I’m a pear shape, I have rounded shoulders and a big booty, I’m 5’8″ with long arms and legs and size 10 feet. I understand that I’ll look great in structured jackets, clavicle bearing scoop neck tops, (no crew-neck tees for me, please!), slim pants, high waisted items. Babydoll dresses will always be too short. I need to show off my waist and not wear super baggy things. Obviously, I don’t dress “perfectly” all the time! I wear what I want to wear. BUT, when I’m shopping, I don’t want to be distracted by a cute item that won’t work for me. What works for you? What doesn’t work for you? It’s ok if you don’t know these things now, it’s a fun learning process.

OK! Now, you’re armed with this new knowledge, you know the basics trends that you’re interested in, you know your personal style and preferences, you’re aware of what colors and textures look best on you and you know your body type and what makes it look amazing. Awesome! Let’s go shopping…

The Thrift Store

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When to go? Early morning is best! It’s quiet and the employees are generally pushing around big racks of new clothing that hasn’t been picked through yet, jackpot!

What to shop for? I usually go for jeans, sweaters, shirts, skirts and dresses. These are my favorites and where I’ve had the most luck.

What to steer clear of? Being a size 10 foot I never have much luck with shoes and, though I’ve seen some cute ones, I rarely see any that I would purchase and wear. Definitely steer clear of undies and PJs (gross). I’m going to put shirts here too for sake of value. I can find a fabulous pair of Lucky jeans at a thrift store for $5 when in the Lucky store they’re $65+. I rarely find a shirt for $5 that I couldn’t find somewhere else brand new for $10-$15, so the “deal” isn’t quite as amazing.

How to Shop? LOOK EVERYWHERE. Going to your specific “size” on a rack really doesn’t exist in the thrift store world. In fact, sizes don’t really exist in thrift store world! In thrift stores I’ve purchased jeans anywhere from size 2 to size 12 and both look amazing. So throw the number out the window and shop visually. Go to the color that you like (and that fits within your season), feel the textures, go through every single item (something might be hiding!), if you like the color take it out and look at it – does it look like it’ll fit you? Yes? No? When shopping for jeans I seriously pay ZERO attention to size. Instead my thought process goes one of two ways, “I think my booty will fit into these pants!” or “There’s no way my booty is fitting into these pants!”. Sometimes I’m way off on what actually fits, but that’s ok. Other things to look at, hows the neckline? Sleeve length? If you like the way it looks and if you think it’ll fit then try it on. Always try it on. Do this around as much of the store as you like, fill a shopping cart, take your time. This is different than shopping at Target or the mall. This is an art form.

In the Fitting Room

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I usually do a fast try on. In thrift stores knowing when something for sure isn’t right for you is often really quick. Put it in a pile of “no thanks” items (better yet, hang it up and put it on the hook please, you’re friendly thrift store employee will thank you) and move on to the next thing. If it fits you (read: if you can get into it or if you’re not swimming in it), look in the mirror a minute to check out the details. See any stains? Is the fabric old and stretched or faded? Hows the neckline? How’s the color next to your skin, your hair? Check the booty on pants – where are the pockets? Where’s the waist band? For me, low rise and low pocket jeans make my booty look saggy and lifeless. Do a little dance, squat, look over your shoulder, check yourself out. If the items passes all these tests, is your color/style/preferences than by golly PUT IT ON THE “I LIKE IT” HOOK! (did you think I was going to say, “buy it”? Ha! Wait and see.)

Once you’ve gone through all your items I want you to take one more look at what’s on your “Like it” hook. Hold up each piece and ask yourself if it’s really worth the price. Ask yourself if you’re really going to wear it. If the answer to these questions is “Yes” then you buy that thing and don’t look back! If you like an item and think you can come back for it later, you’re wrong. Especially since theirs not a bunch of one item, there is ONE. So if you love it, buy it.

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A couple other tips:

– Stick with almost new or vintage pieces. 9 times out of 10 that item from 2009 is going to be faded, stretched and not in style.

– Go by yourself or someone who doesn’t mind you taking forever. Because it just might take forever. You never know until you start looking!

– Have fun! Because guess what, no size 0 model is breathing down your neck showing you how amazing she looks in those booty shorts or that bodycon dress. This is where YOU can express yourself and dress for happiness and fun, however that looks for you, without anyone dragging you down. So enjoy yourself and explore! (and let me know if you find any good thrift stores, I’ll want to check them out!)

Simple Hospitality.

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I used to think hospitality was my “thing”. I mean, I seriously love the concept – always have. I was the 8 year old reading Martha Stewart Magazine and studying how to set a proper table, so obviously I thought hospitality would be as natural to me as breathing.

Recently, we’ve had a lot of people over and almost every single time they say, “I’ve never been inside your house before!” Seriously. Every time. And these aren’t mere acquaintances, these are people that I consider close friends. Heck, even my sister-in-law said it! (Yeah, we JUST had them over for the first time. We’ve lived here over a year.)

Then it hit me, maybe I’m not as good at hospitality as I thought I was.

I realized like I had been a miser over my own home, keeping it close to my heart instead of pouring it out as an offering to the Lord.

And then God really opened my heart to some harsh realizations about myself:

1. I’m obsessed about cleaning my house. I clean it every day. I can’t handle messy. The word “perfectionist” comes to mind.

2. I’ve never wanted to be one of those wives that keeps her husband on pins and needles in the home (“don’t put your feet on the table!” “can you not lean on that pillow?”) but I am one of those wives that keeps herself on pins and needles. I wasn’t letting myself do anything because it would be a mess.

3. I would do a huge rush around clean up anytime anyone said they were coming over resulting in stress and strife between me and David (so not worth it!)

4. I shut down the “make it special” side of my brain and just “make it meh”, out of fear. So instead of a home cooked meal, I order pizza. We all know, pizza is amazing and totally ok to order when you have people over – but it’s the heart behind the pizza. The heart of “I’m afraid to try to make this special because I think I’ll either fail completely or end up being stressed and unhappy (and thus, fail at the happy hostess aspect)”. I think this also stems from me being a Culinary school graduate. People have expectations when I cook, they think it’ll be the most amazing thing ever since I’ve had training (and it’s not always! I’m still just a normal girl!). I combat this by making the dumbest, easiest thing possible. Then it wouldn’t be a “you tried and failed” but a “oh, I guess you didn’t even try”.

Now I’m in training mode for myself – letting of of a perfectionist standard and leaning hard into true, beautiful hospitality over “design” and “entertaining”.

In my mind’s dictionary, “Entertaining” sparks the visual of a celebrity party…fancy snacks, cocktails, a band. In home terms, it = stress for the hostess.

Hospitality sparks a different vision for me…it’s laughter around a table. Simple food made with love. It’s not having an agenda or a plan or a schedule – but letting the night flow in fellowship and comfort. It’s not trying to “impress” with fancy recipes or a perfectly decorated home – it’s trying to “express” a love for others and a love for Jesus that flows from a thankful, gracious, hospitable heart.

Here are some tips I’ve found or discovered in my quest for hospitality:

– First of all, it’s a Biblical call on your life. THIS article by John Piper says it better than I ever could. If you’re struggling with the desire to be hospitable (I’ve been there!) please seek the Lord, read the Word and pray for a changed heart. It is the Lord in our lives that allows us to truly welcome people into our homes and hearts – otherwise we’re just posing and I promise you will get burned out if you rely on your own efforts.

– Let your house be imperfect. People will actually be more comfortable and more apt to snuggle in for some conversation and fellowship (The Nester is all about that). Light a candle and turn on some soft, conversation inducing music, this cures a multitude of sins.

– If you don’t typically keep a clean house, or don’t care about a clean house (you know who you are) then at least, at LEAST, have a clean bathroom and clean kitchen (and a clean place to sit!) for your guests.

– Relax in your home. You aren’t putting on a show, you’re showing love. If someone wants to be entertained they can buy tickets to a Taylor Swift concert. If you relax, your guests will relax. Offer them a drink (it can even be just water!), give them the best seat in the living room and then, here’s the kicker, sit down with them and talk.

– Have some easy snacks ready for drop-in or last minute guests. If someone dropped by my house right now, I’d be able to offer them coffee/tea and a sit on the couch or a popsicle out on the deck watching the kittens play. Neither is huge, elaborate or amazing – but I can imagine it would make someone know that I wanted them there and that I wanted them to stay a while. You could also do something as easy as always keeping a lemon on hand – that way when someone stops by you can offer them water with lemon, it’s simple and actually an easy practice, but it still says “you’re special”.

– Have a couple “go to” recipes for dinner parties. I really love this concept, I don’t know why I haven’t done it yet. I guess one of my “go to” meals is spaghetti with homemade sauce, usually served with bread of some kind, salad and red wine. Nothing invites people to sit and stay around the dinner table more than carbs + carbs + wine.

– Don’t be afraid of a potluck. You provide the main dish and the drinks, another couple brings sides and another, the dessert. I promise you, people don’t mind. If David and I are eating steaks for dinner and a couple of our guy friends want to join we just have a BYOS deal (bring your own steak), and we’re golden!

– Don’t be afraid, as I have been, to try to make something extra beautiful and special. Even if you fail, most people will still appreciate your efforts.

– S t r e t c h your food. In school we learned that a meal is made up of balance. “If your protein is breaded, maybe lean off the starchy vegetables.” “You can’t have corn and mashed potatoes – too heavy.” “If you have something spicy hot, you need to pair it with something more on the simple flavor side.” – and if you are trying to learn how to be a chef or creating something for a restaurant then definitely live by those rules! But in a home that is open and welcoming you probably should throw those rules out the window. Let’s say I’m making grilled chicken, rice, green beans and a salad for a couple that David and I invited over. Then, for what ever reason, another couple stops by OR the lonely girl from church texts to see if anything fun is happening that night OR your neighbor walks over because they smell the chicken OR your kids bring a couple unexpected friends…WHATEVER the situation. How cool would it be if you invited those people to stay for dinner. What if you welcomed them with open arms and then heated up a couples cans of beans or chopped up the chicken into halves (so it’ll go farther) or bring out a bag of chips you had in the cabinet or whip up the 99 cent box of mac and cheese from the pantry. Your guests won’t care if their plates aren’t “balanced” but you would 100% bless their socks off if you just rolled with it with a smile.

– Have something fun to do. A lot of times David and I have invited people over to play some of his vintage video games – competition, excitement and nostalgia. (I personally would suggest the fun vintage options so it doesn’t turn into everyone just zoning into the TV while one or two people play Halo or Assassin’s Creed. We usually play Mario Party, because we’re all still together while we play. It really won’t suck you in.) We also keep some of our favorite board games on hand, some dice, a deck of cards…We’ve even had friends over to put together a puzzle (We worked on that puzzle for EIGHT HOURS).

– One of my goals is to get some small toys for my little guests to play with. In the past, when my 3 year old niece and 1 1/2 year old nephew have come over, I’ve gotten out a big bag of beads, or our bean bag chair for them to play with. I’ve recently covered the front of our fridge with colorful letter magnets, kids of all ages love playing with these. My brother likes to make bad words out of the letters for me to find later (thanks bro). You could also paint a chalkboard wall for kids to draw on and adults to write fun notes or quotes or pictures.

– Read “The Nesting Place” by Myquillyn Smith, “The Hidden Art of Homemaking” by Edith Schaeffer and THIS article by She Reads Truth – all amazing resources for “big picture” entertaining and hospitality.

I’ll leave you with this, Shauna Niequist, one of my favorite authors, said, “The heart of hospitality is when people leave your home they should feel better about themselves, not better about you.” My prayer is that we can all take our eyes off ourselves, that we can stop being embarrassed or insecure or too busy, but that we can open our hearts and our homes to the people that God puts in our lives.

How to Be Happy || Pt. 4

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MOVE HOW YOU WANT.

Our bodies need movement.

We need strength and stretching.

So move. Move how you want.

You think you want to sit on the couch and browse instagram for an hour? Go for it. How does it make you feel? Bad? Lethargic? Uninspired?

Sometimes we need to sit and rest.

Maybe you want to get up. Maybe you want to run. Maybe you want to walk.

Listen to your body.

 

How to Be Happy || Pt. 3

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GO IF YOU WANT.

Stay if you want.

Travel. How does it make you feel?

Good? Than go.

Bad? Than stay.

It’s that simple.

God put different heart beats inside all of us.

Follow the rhythm that He put in your heart.

Follow His lead on your life.