Naming a child is an immense privilege. For your son or daughter's entire life people will be hearing this name, asking about this name, thinking about this name...especially your child! This sobering reality makes me wary to name my kid the next trendy name that sounds cool. I want each of my kids to be proud of their names and the stories behind them. I want them to aspire to live up to their names. So here are some ideas for first names, organized by category and gender. I'm sure you'll think almost all of these are way too weird to ever fit your family, but maybe, just maybe, you'll choose one. Let me know if you do and I'll send your uniquely-and-meaningfully-named baby something :) And then of course I had to throw in a list of dumb-on-purpose names because I've got plenty of those up my sleeve as well.
For the book-lovers and dreamers:
Eowyn (epic female fighter in Lord of the Rings)
Flannery (O'Connor; incredible, deep-thinking female writer)
Lewis (C.S.; world-changing 20th century author and thinker)
Aslan (majestic Christ figure in C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia)
Rowling (J.K.; author of Harry Potter series)
Walt (Disney; enormous inspiration and dreamer!)
For the nature lovers:
Spring (source of refreshing water or life-giving season following dead of winter)
Dawn (light after darkness)
Gaze (beholding grandeur!)
Aurora (Aurora Borealis, beautiful northern lights; bonus points for Disney princess)
Magenta (a really lovely blend of colors)
Aroma (a fragrance; also see 2 Corinthians 2:15)
Hyacinth (beautiful flowers that thrive in community)
Laurel (nice-smelling, glossy leaves that are used for adornment)
Rosegold (when copper and silver are added to gold and make it a really lovely hue)
Flame (be a light)
Blaze (be passionate and change the world around you)
Aspen (a beautiful tree that makes lovely sounds in the wind)
Beautiful names with great meanings:
Adelaide (means "nobility"; Christians have the highest status possible in the whole universe)
Alice (also means "of nobility")
Evangeline (means "good news"; from the root of the word "gospel")
Mercy (not receiving the wrath you deserved)
Amy Elisabeth (Amy Carmichael - missionary to India; Elisabeth Elliot - missionary to Ecuador, wife of Jim Elliot, inspirational role model and writer)
Clay (in the hands of the Potter)
Tyndale (William; translated the Bible into English and was martyred)
Pilgrim (on a journey/this world is not our home/Pilgrim's Progress)
Revere (be in awe of, respect; bonus history points for Paul Revere)
Matthew Mark Luke John
Panta ta Ethne
I have several goals for vacations and travel:
- Take vacations with healthy regularity
-Have a meaningful and memorable time
-Use frugality and wisdom so you're freed up to go more often!
Since my husband is a business owner, I usually only have a couple weeks' notice to plan little trips, and I take great delight in doing so. We recently had an incredible little getaway in the Georgia mountains and I would love to share some tips for taking memorable and frugal vacations:
Please don't just call up Red Roof Inn or the Hilton and stay in a hotel. If you have to stay in a hotel, use Hotwire and at least get a great deal and make your location a mystery :) But try using AirBnb (click here to sign up and get $35 off using my link) for staying somewhere really interesting. It cost us $82 to stay in the basement of a cabin and get a gorgeous and delicious breakfast, and check out this view:
Also, state parks often offer cabins, cottages, and even yurts. Our lakefront yurt at Sweetwater Creek State Park cost $85 (and could've slept 6) and it was gorgeous. (But we didn't bring linens so we had to buy some at Walmart real quick. We were able to bring our sheets and blankets back home but it hurt to throw away $8 worth of pillows that we only used one night. Oh well, it was worth it.)
2. Find the best deals.
Rome2Rio is a site that shows you the cheapest way to get from one point to another. If flying, use Google Flights or a similar site that shows you a calendar and even bar graph of the cheapest rates at different dates and from various airlines. I feel uncomfortable with paying more than $100 for a round-trip plane ticket to anywhere on the east coast. It's far too easy to find them cheaper. (This morning I found round-trip tix to Cleveland for $40!)
I love discount airlines such as Frontier and Spirit. People complain that they nickel-and-dime you for everything, but I see that as A La Carte pricing rather than a ripoff. If I choose to only bring one carryon, I don’t care about where I sit, and I don’t expect food on my flight, I don’t want to have those luxuries added onto my ticket. And if I do want to pay for those things, I can factor that into the cost of my ticket and it will still probably be cheaper.
Also, Costco is an amazing resource for acquiring rental cars and they throw in some good benefits. And check back every once in awhile because you can cancel your rental car without penalty and book it more inexpensively if possible.
3. Pack light.
More stuff, more problems. If possible, avoid checked baggage because waiting for your suitcase can be pain, and only use a carryon. Max out their sizes for a personal item so you can fit more stuff and avoid paying for extra baggage.
4. When you arrive, head to a grocery store and buy some essential foods so you won’t have to eat out as often.
-A gallon or 1.5-liter of water and a nice drinking bottle for each person (smartwater makes really quality water bottles.)
-A bag of apples or oranges (or some other sturdy fruit)
5. If you see a glorious brown state park sign or scenic overlook, it’s probably worth pulling over to see it.
There's a hefty chance it might be one of the most breathtaking things you’ve ever seen!
6. Talk to park rangers.
My husband calls them “rangels” because they’re so nice. Ask their recommendations for the best views.
7. Talk to locals.
When you’re getting frozen yogurt, ask the cashier where she likes to get a good burger. Ask her how she likes living there. Connecting with people will greatly enrich your vacation (and it might enrich them too!)
8. Eat out 1 meal and 1-2 snacks each day. And try to avoid fast food.
Eat at a cool restaurant (like Burger Bus, as pictured) and get a filling meal. Splurge on a pretzel or apple cider slushy. But eating out all the time will rack up the cash and make you feel sick. If you munch on snacks you bought or brought from home (I love buying snacks from Graze for this type of thing), you’ll feel better and have more time and money. And please save yourself from going to Wendy’s. Eat real food and your body will thank you.
8. Try to implement minimal amounts of time spent on social media.
Nothing makes a moment forgettable like spending it all on your phone. Be present. Set a goal, such as “No Facebook more than 2x a day”, and stick to it. Breathe in nature, make conversation, sit, pray, think, read. Almost anything we do is a better way to spend time than on our phones, especially when on vacation!
9. Visit a solid local church and hang out afterwards.
The Gospel Coalition, 9 Marks, Sojourn Network, and Acts 29 all have directories you can use to find churches that might be solid. Check out the church's website, read their values. I signed up for an email list of a church we were planning to visit, and the pastor reached out and asked if there was anything he could do for us. I told him we were visiting that weekend and would love to grab lunch with people afterwards. He offered us a place to stay (but we already had accomodations) and reached out to several couples in the church and arranged for us to have lunch with some of them! It turned out that we had some really awesome and random things in common with these people (most of all our love for the gospel!), we had some rich conversations over good BBQ, and we hope to stay in touch with them. That was a super encouraging highlight of our trip!
10. Plan times of praying together.
I remember being greatly encouraged hearing about John Piper’s times away with his wife and how they would pray through scripture. Choose some passages beforehand (John 15 is amazing!) and take turns reading those scriptures out loud and worshipping God through them, begging God to help you apply them. This might be your favorite part of the trip!
11. Plan times of peacefulness and gazing.
As a business owner, there isn’t such thing as a true “vacation”, really—especially when you have employees who are depending on you—so my husband still had to spend several hours on the phone and computer each day of our trip. That was fine because it afforded me the opportunity to be alone and just behold. I sat on a rock for a long while gazing at mountains. I laid on a bench and gazed at the leaves above me for an hour and a half. Those moments of quiet peacefulness and worship were healing for my body and soul.
12. Bring a meaningful audiobook.
Before we left I bought a 7 Men and the Secret of Their Greatness audiobook by Eric Metaxas and we were able to make it through some of the book as we drove in the car. It was informative, interest, and thought-provoking and helped enrich our time and conversation.
13. Go Geocaching!
Geocaching is basically a treasure hunt that takes place around the world. It's free using an app and it's an awesome way to get yourself to go outside and explore places you've never been. Sometimes they have logs for you to sign or little treasures to swap. It's really fun! See that little ammo can peeking out between the twigs?
14. Pray beforehand!
You can spend hours planning and preparing, but your trip can still be really lame. You and the people you’re traveling with can be argumentative, whiny, ungrateful, sick, etc. I don’t usually pray that my trips will go smoothly because a lot of times disruptions, inconveniences, and even sickness might be the very things that God uses to increase my joy on the trip. Beg that God will lead you in worship on your trip and strengthen the relationships of those with whom you’re traveling. Pray that God will give you grace to love Him more and see Him as the source of all the beautiful things you’re about to encounter. And enjoy Him! :)
I hope this was encouraging to you! Let me know your tips and tell me about your travels! :)
And now for a few more pics of our trip:
I am one of the most ambitious yet least disciplined people I know. I dream big but don't like to do mundane work. I'm a Myers-Briggs ENFP and an Enneagram 7 to the max.
Lately, my shortcomings in responsibility have been really hurting myself and others. The house has been a perpetual disaster, making my home quite unhospitable (we're talking gross, not just "imperfect") and hindering my desires to have people over. Homeschool was inconsistent. I've been struggling with my personal disciplines too, and laziness had begun to rule me. I have started so many new systems and plans and bought or created so many organizational tools that I thought would help, but I haven't stuck with any of them. At the beginning of the year I read a really helpful book by Tim Challies called Do More Better that has helped me see why and how I should seek productivity, and what really changed everything was early this summer when my friend Rachel asked me if I had heard of Bullet Journaling.
Basically, a bullet journal is what you make it. You create an index at the beginning and you can use any notebook and turn it into your personal planner/accountability partner/diary/savings tracker/whatever you want it to be. Any short search on Instagram or Pinterest will overwhelm you with all the different ideas for how to implement Bullet Journals. Many of the bullet journals on Pinterest scared me, because with three kids and house that's at least twice as large as I can manage, I don't have very much free time at all. Spending hours color-coding and maintaining complicated keys and legends and focusing on artsiness (the skills of which I do not naturally possess) would be counterproductive for me.
So, as all BuJo users are encouraged to do, I've made it my own. And it's seriously changed my life.
This will be a large post so skim as you see fit.
Pens: I've tried Microns and Sharpie pens and Staedtler, and guess what I found: they're expensive and get stolen by toddlers and they're simply not conducive to my lifestyle. Plus, if I'm going to rainbow-color everything in my book, it will be really frustrating if my pattern is calling for a purple and I don't have a purple on hand. The inconsistency will stand out and I therefore might quit.
So guess what pen I've been using for my Bullet Journal:
Whatever cheap ballpoint pens are lying around! Usually they don't even have caps. But guess what, they work great, they deal well with water (unlike gel pens) and they look consistent.
Post-It Notes: Or their generic counterparts. You can spend money on various sizes or you can rip them to the size of your choosing.
Washi tape: You don't need much, but they will prove very helpful for making tabs. As you read this post, notice that I folded over pieces of tape to create tabs on the pages that I visit the most. I like to get mine from Raindrop Washi Shop on Etsy. Sometimes they sell a discount grab bag of slightly damaged rolls, and slightly damaged is my jam!
Separate planner: One of the most impractical things about the Bullet Journals I've seen are that people are taking the time and space to make them their weekly planners. That takes so much time. I will show you how to do otherwise.
So I recommend having a separate planner for your week. I use the Passion Planner for scheduling my week and choosing my meals and prioritizing my tasks. It is not overwhelming to have a weekly planner in addition to a Bullet Journal. By the way, you can print out the Passion Planner PDF for free.
Let's take a peek at the first page of my current journal's index.
I found it important to include in the first few pages of my journal why I'm doing these things in the first place, what my roles and goals are, and how I'm hoping to achieve them.
Bottom line: I want to glorify God by enjoying Him forever. But from that comes another way of phrasing why I want to be productive: Bless the World.
The scriptures I included to motivate my productivity were:
1 Corinthians 15:58
2 Corinthians 9:8
I divided my roles into spheres of influence, or spheres of blessing, and I included their ministries:
Self - Nurture my own body and soul so that I may enjoy Jesus and welcome others into this joy.
Family - Disciple and educate my children, strengthen my husband, and actively pursue all aspects of healthiness for each member of our family.
Neighbors - Be a good neighbor to all the people I know and meet by sharing and reflecting the gospel.
The World - Let my faithfulness in closer spheres of influence extend to far-reaching ministry.
This is the single most useful thing about the Bullet Journal for me. I'm able to use a chart and track how frequently or infrequently I'm actually accomplishing the things I really want to do. It was quite humbling at the beginning to realize that I thought I was much more disciplined than I actually was. "Oh, I actually only read out loud to my kids twice in the past week?"
"I never really have private prayer."
"Yikes, I'm not as consistent doing ___ as I thought."
It's excellent accountability for many different things about my life that I'm trying to improve. And I'm improving! That's so encouraging and I feel so much better getting more done each day.
Of course I recommend putting some things on your list that are a piece of cake to get done (such as making your bed or taking your vitamins.) And some things should really challenge us.
I don't think it's wrong to set a timer and make sure you spend 10 min in prayer or 15 min reading the Bible. That doesn't necessarily make a duty out of what should be a delight. If you've already decided that you delight in those things and know that you'll only delight in them more if you actually do them, that's evidence that this is not a dutiful task. But oftentimes we just get distracted and it's easier to scroll down Facebook than do what you know your soul needs.
As I look at my older notebook, it's neat to see that I'm shading more and more blocks over time. Some habits were set in and I was able to remove those from the list when I made this one. I hope to always be challenging myself and making new habits.
On the adjacent page I have stuck the following Post-it notes:
-a To-Do List post-it note of time-sensitive items that are not habits (such as "email this person" or "buy this thing")
-a lift of people I'm trying to remember to encourage
-the week's scripture memory verse
-the references to previous week's verses.
I also recommend putting your habits in order so you can move down the list as you go about your day.
For example, I want to read my Bible as soon as I wake up, so it's near the top of my list, but there are some things I plan for doing while the kids nap, after lunch.
Here's my list:
I also keep a tracker of my weekly habits; things I want to accomplish each week. (Don't judge me for how pathetic I am at keeping habits! Lol!)
Affirmations/Daily Truths:The popular thing lately is to repeat "affirmations" to yourself to begin your day. The idea is that you tell yourself things that you want to be true and they will therefore actually become true, such as "I am will love myself no matter what because I'm worth it" or "Wonderful things are going to happen to me today." If you want to see a list of examples, click here.
My personal belief is that the "love-yourself" mindset is not only selfish and foolish but also ineffective in actually helping your self-esteem. So, to be clear, I think self-focused and wishful-thinking affirmations are harmful, and I hate them. Also, denying that suffering is going to happen in no way prepares you for suffering.
But I like the idea of repeating things to yourself so I have come up with my own true affirmations, taken straight out of the Word of God. It's helpful to wake up each morning and remember eternal reality that changes everything for today.
So here are my daily affirmations. (I underlined the highlights for if I'm in a hurry.)
I am not strong in the area of private prayer. That shows a lot about my pride, yuck! So I've found it helpful to organize my prayer foci by week:
Sunday - my church
Monday - my family
Tuesday - people who don't know Jesus
Wednesday - the world
Thursday - my community group
Friday - my city / my country
Saturday - prayer requests gathered from the week
The prayer requests I wrote on the other days are general; I embellish as I pray. But Saturdays are for the more recent struggles; sickness, natural disasters, current events, friends who suffered loss, etc.
I like the way this works and I don't feel bound to the list. If it's a Thursday but I really want to pray for my family, that's okay. If I want to pray for multiple days that's great. I want to be led by the Spirit but also make sure that I'm actually praying for people.
Child Translation Guide:
Anyone who lives or works with young children will have a blast with this one. Sometimes kids really mispronounce words. It probably doesn't make any sense to other people who don't know them, but, for example, every time my daughter sees a buffalo and calls it a "buffafo", I want to cry happy tears because it's extremely cute. I want to always remember the cuteness. My parents remember words my brother and I mispronounced as young children and it makes us feel loved.
I printed some of my favorite hymns or songs and stuck them in the pocket in the back. Recently my heart felt really overwhelmed by some news from a friend, but the lyrics to William Cowper's "God Moves in a Mysterious Way" were right in the back of my bullet journal, so I was able to quickly turn my heart to the Lord through song.
Here are a few other peeks into my present or former bullet journal. I will post much more later but these are just some ideas to get started. Please let me know the creative ideas you have! I might feature them in a future follow-up post about bullet journals!
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My name is Hope.
I'm 25, married to a rad guy, and raising three little people ages 1,3, and 5...and I'm now expecting my fourth. I like chartreuse, calligraphy, Coke Icees, childbirth, crocs, Studio C, and...alliteration.
Quick links to some of my posts:
Articles I've Written on Other Sites:
Youth Ministry's Family Blindspot - Christianity Today