Driven by Heavenly Thinking

I used to buy into my own lies that if I wanted a particular path in life too much, I would become too focused on myself and my desires to be a participant in the highs and lows of the lives of the people I cared about. I told myself in order to pursue my dreams of being a fashion designer in the buzzing hub of New York City, I would certainly have to give up friendships and family ties and my fantasy of being a mother to babies with chub rolls galore. I thought, in order to make it big, I had no choice but to toss out every other element that fueled the joy in my life in order to collect enough stored up energy to put nothing short of 100% of me into my life’s work.

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Series Introduction: Ambition

We are only a few days into this new year and I don’t know about yours, but my social media feed is consumed by cliché resolutions and novel-length reflections of the year gone. Sure, I’ll appreciate the idea of a fresh start as much as the next girl — but so what? Setting goals to better yourself and pursue your passion is great, but at the end of the day it’s not enough. The bottom line is: you cannot have ambition without action. Period. End of story.  So, if you’ve set a resolution for yourself in the new year, then you’ve got ambition, girl! That’s the first step.

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Intentional Joy Leaves No Room for Grief

Loss and grief is a painful season life brings. Enduring those tear-filled, heart-shattering moments when reality sets in can absolutely alter anyone’s spirit. Although when 31-year-old Sarah Sligar lost her mother to metastatic lung cancer in 2011, her hurt led to unsurpassable amounts of joy. Like most precious mother-daughter relationships, Sarah and her mom, Nancy were incredibly close — best friends even. Whether it was having a conversation two or three times a day or hitting the mall for a bit of shopping, every moment together was undoubtedly cherished. So, when Nancy’s two-and-a-half-year-long battle with cancer was laid to rest, Sarah couldn’t help but feel devastated, lost and a bit angry.

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Leaving Apathy Behind

Getting caught up on the stress of life produces a wide range of terrible emotions. I get scared I'll never catch up. I get sad that I might never feel like I'm enough. But I think the worst thing I often feel in those moments is nothing. Apathy is a frequent opponent of joy. It's also one of my favorite modes of survival. Just a few days ago, I noticed I get frustrated a lot less than I used to. I used to cry when my son woke me up at 3 a.m. for the third night in a row. I used to contemplate the meaning of my life and get a little snippy with God. At face value, the level of calm I've managed to reach seems like a positive change. However, after a few minutes of thought, I realized I hadn't matured in my ability to process.

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Sharing the Joy in Your Heart

Don't take joy for granted, but keep growing your relationship with God and you will have more and more joy throughout your life. Of course, following God doesn't mean you're going to live the perfect life. You're still going to go through tough times and hard struggles, but at least you're not doing it alone. Share your joy and blessings with others, because you don't know how much that could change their day.

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4 Ways to Let Go of Comparison and Hold onto Joy

How often our thoughts are consumed with the belongings and blessings we lack. What we don’t have, another does — that’s just the way the world works. But, we grow consumed with the idea, in order to be happy in life, we must have everything we desire — even if it isn’t for us. So, we bow down to envy and unleash this terribly ugly part of ourselves we should have just kept hidden to begin with. And, all for what? So deep down we can feel better about our life because we’re at least “holding onto” a dream or goal that sure looks good on someone else — so naturally, it’d look good on us.

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Happiness or Joy? Does it Really Matter?

December is known as the season of joy, but what does that really mean? Is there a difference between happiness and joy? I guess I've never really thought about it. In preparation for this blog post based on joy, I did some research and found most agree happiness is more of a temporary emotion, but joy is an attitude of the heart. However, it's also said happiness is a synonym of joy. OK, so let's go with that train of thinking, because I don't tend to separate out joy and happiness — in my mind at least. December is said to be the most wonderful time of year, bringing us the most joy.

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How to Find Joy in Every Season

In those early parenting years, I experienced God’s strength and grace to operate on torturously few hours of sleep — and yet, I was able to because God’s grace flowed through me. I was able to love a screaming child after he had bit me, slapped me, and screamed bloody murder just because I was trying to wipe the dirt off his face. That was God’s love flowing through me. I think the key to finding joy in the difficult moments is not a guilt trip that “you better enjoy these moments because someday you’ll miss them.” All that ever did was make me feel bad — and real joy doesn’t make you feel bad.

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Contented Joy

I didn't begin to understand the joy that can be found in contentment until life got real. Dealing with the stress of taking care of a home and family, raising a gorgeous boy with special needs, and reaching a clinical level of anxiety, all had a way of changing my perspective. Living in my real, grown-up life, I yearn for contentment. I still have goals. I'm still striving to live the life God has prepared for me, but my greatest accomplishment is feeling the blessing of every second.

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5 Reasons Why You Should Be Joyous During the Holidays

Tis the season! The holidays are here which means everyone is struggling with something. Whether it’s the shopping, the cooking, the travel or even just a pesky cousin, everybody feels pressure around the holidays. And as impossible as it may seem, you can find some joy… even in the moments that seem most trying. At the end of the day, holiday celebrations are just that: a celebration. It’s the end of yet another year—remember this time of year gives you the opportunity to relax and get a little space from your everyday routine.

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Series Introduction: Joy

I’ll be blunt and say I don’t agree with the dictionary definition of the word “joy.” In my opinion, they’ve missed the mark and lost out on the true meaning of a word with the power to impact and change lives. The dictionary definition reads, “the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure.” Two things, joy is not an emotion nor is it the reaction of something. At surface level, if you were to simply accept “joy” as another form of “happiness” then this definition would fit the bill. I’d like to dig deeper and challenge this vaguely cliché understanding of joy, so you can use this word to its full potential.

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What a Disastrous Thanksgiving Morning Taught Me

Friends, this is no joke — I was IN TEARS sitting in my window seat thinking to myself just how bad things had gone. To top it off, I could hardly take a solid, life-giving breath without my stomach quivering from that awful odor. I felt low. LOW. I was trying to figure out for the life of me why God was testing me on a holiday that should be filled with gratitude and smiles. I’ll tell you right now, I was in NO way thankful for anything other than my fuzzy sweater and the adorable, sleeping man next to me. Thank God for him. Now that I’m removed from this terrible start to my day and now that it’s only a memory, I can see how it actually added value to my life.

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Grateful in Love

"I'm sorry you have to love me." These words have fallen from both mine and my spouse's lips more than once. Nothing makes you feel more challenged and more inadequate than taking on the responsibility of jumping into a lifelong commitment with someone. I never saw life coming when we fell for each other. It all looked like bliss. But Disney lied, y'all! Being in love is hard, and I have yet to meet my fairy godmother or get my animals to talk back to me. Feeling love is simple but living that love is a lesson in humility, compassion, patience, and growth.

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Displacing Worry with Thanksgiving

Worry knows no bounds, limits or exceptions. Each and every one of us experiences worry — for some, it’s every single day. One moment we’re cool as a cucumber, the next we’re such a hot mess it’s a wonder we survive the day without blurting out four-letter words. OK, maybe we don’t… it’s fine, no one is perfect. But, worry and anxiety is a beast. It consumes every thought, and sometimes our actions. You might be asking, “Nikki how does worry tie into thankfulness?” Bear with me, I promise I’m getting there. I recently attended a ladies night at a local church and the amazing woman on stage discussed peace in reference to Philippians 4. She touched on this chapter with perspectives and teachings I’ve never heard before.

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In My Identity, I Am Grateful

It’s easy to take something for granted — most of us do every single day. Think about it. Your morning cup of coffee or the four wheels sitting in the driveway patiently waiting for you. We take things for granted because they are those things that are always there, until one day they won’t be. I often lose sight of just how precious my health is. When my body is able to keep up with my non-stop schedule, I forget the value in its strength.

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Find Happiness, Gain Thankfulness

Despite all the chaos of everyone’s day-to-day life, I believe there is always something to be grateful for at the end of the day. Whether it’s the fact you have a roof over your head or the fact you have a job, or a family, or even a good friend you can rely on, there will always be one thing in your life you can cherish and be thankful for. In the midst of a hectic work week, a stressful project or even a slight existential crisis at age 23, I always try to find time to look at the world around me, pay attention to my breathing. and just be thankful for the fact that I am alive and well.

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Choosing to Be Grateful

I woke up crabby this week. Nothing was really wrong, but nothing seemed right either. I just wanted to sit on the couch and do nothing, say nothing, be nothing. Have you ever had one of those days? Where you just feel blah. You can’t really put words to it, but you just know that you don’t feel right. If I’m not careful, those types of days can take me down a dangerous rabbit hole of emotions. Suddenly things that were a little annoying are world shattering. Emotions I had been keeping successfully at bay, are right on the edge of eruption. Tiny failures become gigantic roadblocks. Missed opportunities feel like throw-in the-towel, it’s-never-going-to-get-better, why-do-I-even-bother-trying, do-I even-have-a-purpose-on-this-earth moments.

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Whatever You Do, Give Thanks

It's 6 a.m. and you start bargaining in your head. If you just dry shampoo your hair, you can get 15 more minutes. If you skip the makeup, you might even make it 30. You're desperately tired and already planning your nap for after work/school/mom-life. Dark circles and puffy eyes are your badge of honor — telling the world you try every day, and you've got the sleep deprivation to show it. It's in those moments you may thank the sweet Lord for the invention of concealer. Does this look like anyone else's life? Is it just me that's running on fumes?

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Series Introduction: Gratitude

Ahh, November... the time of year we begin to feel all kinds of thankful. While it seems ridiculous to embrace gratitude for only one month out of the year, at least we take time to slow down and do so. Am I right? If we didn’t have November, would we truly sit for a moment, away from our busy schedules, to think about what it is we are thankful for? In all honesty, I don’t know if most of us would. So, while we might think it silly of us to only exercise gratitude to this degree once a year, let’s utilize every little bit of time we get to be thankful. Over the course of this month, Crowned Chics is diving into all things gratitude. So, expect a bunch of really thankful ladies over here.

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How to Have a God-Honoring Breakup

Perhaps this breakup isn’t the end but a new beginning. God found me in my mess and I met Jesus throughout the darkest times of my life. He changed me, when I shifted my perspective onto him. Back in 2015, I wrestled with depression and anxiety after a breakup with a guy who at that point, as far as I was concerned, was the love of my life. There aren’t words to explain all the emotions I rummaged through. I felt empty, worthless... I felt broken and stressed and had nowhere else to look.

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