Monday, September 8, 2014

Monday Lovin'

After a jam-packed month of August, I forced myself to breathe this weekend. With clean sheets, freshly shaved legs and a rested soul, I feel ready to face the week with gratitude and enthusiasm. Instead of wanting to flip Monday morning off, I’m ready to greet her like a best friend because this Monday I’m lovin’…

1) Mexican food: Bakersfield lived up to all the hype. Margaritas, tacos and great time with friends was a perfect start to the weekend. A group of us met in downtown Indianapolis after work and re-connected. We’ve decided to make it at least a monthly tradition! What a great way to end a work week – wonderful food, tasty cocktails and beautiful friends.

2) Two of my best friends celebrated birthdays this weekend. Oh how thankful I am for each one of them! Waking up in the morning and saying a sweet prayer to Jesus for putting them in my life put a smile on my face all weekend long. These two women have reminded me of who Jesus is, even during the darkness, hardest seasons of my life. Even when life is tough, and not meeting my expectations, I’m reminded that God sees, knows and loves me because of friends like these two. I wish I could have celebrated with each of them on their special days.

3) The Needtobreathe Pandora radio station has been my soundtrack for the past couple weeks. It’s full of fun, upbeat songs and some great Christian artists. I’ve loved listening to it in the background as I’ve worked and on long runs. It’s always fun to hear new songs and new artists that I wouldn’t ordinarily stumble upon myself. I highly encourage taking a listen!

4) I’m a summer girl, so as everyone gets excited about fall – fall clothes, pumpkin spice lattes and cooler temperatures – I roll my eyes a little bit. But, the color chartreuse (read: mustard) is a dominant color in the J.Crew fall color palate and I could not be more excited. I cannot wait to purchase an Expedition Vest in this super fall color! While the thought of party tanks, chino shorts, sundresses and flip flops going back in the back of my closet makes me want to cry, I am excited for some new colors to add into my closet.

5) I celebrated one year at MLJ Adoptions last week! I’ve loved working for this company that believes that children belong in families and is passionate about finding families for children in need. Over the past year, I have learned so many valuable lessons about advocacy, poverty, international relations, families, parenting and God’s love. I am thankful for the special stories that God has invited be to witness – stories of strong, resilient children being given a chance to thrive in a loving family environment. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


August has been a whirlwind of a month. It started lakeside with some of my most favorite friends. We spent Saturday night catching each other up on our lives. The real stuff, the nitty gritty, not the Facebook/Instagram versions of who we are. We got real. We shared some dreams and some frustrations. I told my best friend that I wanted it to be Lake Weekend every weekend; she kindly reminded me that it wouldn’t be real life, and that we all have a threshold for vulnerability. That weekend really set the tone for the past couple weeks. I felt like I left the weekend with more questions than I arrived with, even though my heart was incredibly full.

No one told me how difficult grown up life was going to be. It’s hard, gut wrenching work to wrestle with your life’s calling, to discern the difference between good and right and to live in the present, taking into account when bills are due. Add in actually living life and it’s enough to make me want to throw in the towel on adulthood. Note: I’ve tried throwing in the towel, but everyone keeps telling me that it’s impossible. I’m learning about some of my big-time insecurities that I’ve spent the last 7 years trying to ignore. Scary fears that have been causing me to walk with a limp and not even realize it.

Last week, while reading Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly (shameless plug), I asked myself the questions: What are you afraid of? What are those fears preventing you from doing? I think the first question is fairly easy to answer, but it’s that second one that pierced my already fragile, tender heart. It’s a good thing to put a face on our fears. Our teachers and parents have been telling us to do that since we were in elementary school. But, putting a face on a fear doesn’t mean it is not still crippling. It was asking that question when I realized just how much I’ve let fear rule my life. I’ve let fear dictate the path and set the pace. Have you ever tried to run at someone else’s pace? It’s hard, even if it’s slower than you normally run; it’s uncomfortable and sometimes more tiring. Fear’s been doing that to me for as long as I can remember.

I keep asking myself where do I go from here? This weird, uncertain, really raw place where I sometimes cry in my car. Who do I become once I’ve stripped away fears that I’ve let define me for the majority of adult life? Who am I, really? And, can I sort all this stuff out by Monday morning since it’s the start of a 60-hour work week?

I wish there was a ten-step plan to work through on my own timeline, which would obviously be the next week, not the next few years. I also wish it were easier, or just less painful. But there’s not ten-step plan and there’s no quick fix, although I try to prove that shopping solves some of the problems.

I think the first step choose to be brave. Brave has to mean different things in different contexts. Brave for the Apostle Paul was returning to Jerusalem knowing that persecution awaited him, but that he could not be disobedient. He was brave because he obeyed and he showed up in an uncomfortable situation.

I’m not marching into persecution and three years in prison, at least that I know of, but I still think brave right now for me means to keep showing up. Showing up for my friends. Showing up for my jobs. Showing up for myself. Being present in this moment knowing that this moment is enough. Knowing that I’m enough. Learning to run at my own pace. Just let me figure out what my pace is first.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Monday Lovin'

It is a Happy Monday! With a full heart and refreshed spirit, I head back into work this morning feeling encouraged by deep friendships and beautiful backdrops. When you have a friend whose parents have a lake house within driving distance, invite a fun group of people and GO! I promise you wouldn't regret it. Oh, and wait until the second night, after a full day in the sun, to ask a deep question. Sit back, listen, share, and encourage as people talk. It’s a sacred thing to watch. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Summer Reflections

As July winds down, summer is almost over. Which breaks my heart. Summer is a special season to me, full of wonderful memories spent at my grandparents’ house when my family came back from Japan for 8 weeks each summer. Summer is when it’s socially acceptable to eat ice cream for many meals. Summer sunsets are very special to me. It’s summer when I feel God closest to me, when I know that no matter what my heart is going through, it’s all going to be okay. And even though the summer isn’t quite over, no matter what this 75 degree Indiana day wants us to believe, I’d love to share about what I’ve learned this summer.

1. Busy is not a way to describe how I’m am. It doesn’t count. It may be true of my schedule, but it’s a cop out. It says that what I fill my calendar with is more important that who I am, which is a lie I’m trying to fight hardcore in my life. Busy has a negative connotation, almost to say that I’m a victim to the things I’ve said yes to. These things I’ve said yes to are good things – I need to quit making myself a victim to them. Working a second job is not something that has happened to me; I’ve made the conscious decision and I truly do love working there, I need to stop complaining and start celebrating. I am not and will not be a victim to this culture of busy. Yes, there are times when I may need to say no, or slow down, but that is not a reflection of who I am, simply of what I choose to do. 

2. Adoption changes lives. It’s been a busy summer at work, and some evenings I’ve taken work home, or I’ve gotten up early to get to the office to get stuff done. I’m beyond thankful that I have the privilege of working a job that changes the lives of children in need. For older children and children with special needs, when a family chooses to adopt them, their lives are changed. In some cases, adoption means that a child gets to live. I love that I get to work in an industry that actually changes lives.

3. Goals are a good thing. I want to get out of debt and pay off my student loans. If you’ve met me in the past year, I’ve probably shared that I have a second job to pay off my loans, or how I can’t wait to be debt free. I’ve tried to put my money where my mouth is and get serious about paying off my student loans. I’m making progress and it’s so empowering! It’s silly, but I love being able to make progress and meet goals on something that I’ve decided is very important to me.

4. God wants me to be healthy. This means that I put good food in my body, make sure I’m working out enough and also setting healthy boundaries. It’s easy to want to say yes to everything, or be all things to all people, but God wants me to give the things I’ve committed to the best I can and this requires me to set boundaries. I also cannot fix people, I must draw a healthy boundary to love people well. Boundaries bring freedom. Emotional, financial and physical health bring freedom.

5. Those who were part of the early church were brave. I’ve been hanging out in the book of Acts this month and my mind continues to be blown at the ways the followers of Christ responded to God’s commands immediately. Incredible results follow radical obedience. I want to obey quicker, and with bigger faith. As I’ve been reading, I keep asking God to help me develop my “faith muscle”. Like with any muscle, I have got to work at it slowly and surely, even when it’s uncomfortable.

I’ve been reading my way through 2014 and this summer, I have enjoyed numerous books with a glass of wine sitting on my patio, or with my tumbler on the beach (the best place to read). Some of my favorite books of the summer are:
Behind the Beautiful Forevers (Katherine Boo), Deepening Community (Paul Born), Boundaries (Cloud & Townsend) and my new favorite book – The Ragamuffin Gospel (Brennan Manning). I highly recommend all of these books!

What have you learned this summer? 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Monday Lovin'

Happy Monday! Man, Mondays are tough, especially after a fabulous three day weekend getaway. I spent the weekend in Cleveland hanging out with two of my favorite people! I’ve known Sami for about 5 years; we met my freshman year at IU and I had no idea at the time the role she would go onto play in my life. It was Sami who introduced Jesus to me, and shared about just how much He loves me (while sitting on the floor of Ballentine Hall eating paninis). It was Sami who greeted me when I ran off the Rush Bus on Bid Day. It was Sami who I cried to over the phone the night before my grandmother’s funeral. It was Sami who introduced me to Mad Mushroom cheesy bread. It was Sami who came out with me at midnight on my 21st Birthday, even though she had to student teach in the morning. 

Sami and her husband, Chris, now live in Cleveland, which is the perfect destination for a weekend away. Cleveland has awesome restaurants, breweries, parks, a beach, a cool skyline, and lots of green space. I loved getting to lay-out and eat some good food while spending time with sweet friends. We also watched Law & Order: SVU -- my favorite! 

Sami and Chris also recently got a dog, a golden-doodle named Graham, who is ADORABLE! He was a blast to take on walks and since he’s a puppy, he’s super playful. He’s literally the cutest thing I’ve ever seen!

Thank you Sami and Chris for hosting me this weekend! I loved having the opportunity to see Cleveland, and spend such great time with the two of you! It is such a gift to have friends who have known me over highs and lows in my life. I'm thankful for lifelong friends who remind me of just how good God is

Monday, July 21, 2014

Monday Lovin'

Happy Monday! The morning came early for me today, and now I’m off to start another week. This week I want to choose joy over frustration, disappointment and worry. Here are some things that help me choose joy.

1. Great friends: There is something special about deep friendships that is good for my heart. Friends unafraid to ask hard questions, friends who can jump from a serious topic to a witty one-liner without notice, friends who tell you what you need to hear without prompting. Relationships are worth the fight.

2. My job: Adoption comes at a high cost, both emotionally and financially, and with risk. I believe God honors the risk. There are two specific stories of kiddos whose lives have been changed by adoption and for them it has meant life. On days when it’s hard to get out of bed or the monotony is a little draining, I think of the faces of the sweet kids to whom adoption is one of the ways God is redeeming their pasts.

3. I am enough and I have enough: This new saying of mine is helping me remember that things aren’t going to make me happy and to not use spending money to escape from reality. Real life is hard work, the mornings come early and there’s always another bill due or meal to cook, but mixed in with the real is really rich moments that I miss if I’m trying to numb myself to the hard stuff. 

Friday, July 18, 2014


I’ve been hanging out in the Early Church with the Apostles this month. No, but really. I have not learned time travel, but in spending time the book of Acts I’m learning about these brave, bold men and women who were followers of The Way before Christianity was officially Christianity. Each person fits into the story in a special way, as if the story depends on him or her to play his or her role. And the dependence on the Holy Spirit is undeniable; I want to live more like the Early Church, open to the true power of the Risen Christ in my life, Him living in me and through me.

I usually camp out in the Pauline Epistles with Paul. I love me some Paul. Freedom, grace, love – these are a few of my favorite things. But right now, I’m captivated by Ananias. It’s Ananias who speaks to Saul, after Saul has encountered Christ, and Ananias says, “Brother Saul, the Lord – Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here – has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 9:17). This, seemingly small moment, is a bold act of obedience for Ananias; no one really knew if Saul could be trusted, or if the Holy Spirit was going to soften Saul’s heart. Saul could have ordered Ananias to be put to death, or even acted indifferent towards the words Ananias spoke. And yet, this act of obedience for Ananias changes history.

We don’t know much else about Ananias, but we do have lots of additional information about Saul, our friend Paul who, led by the Holy Spirit, authored about half of the New Testament. I’m blown away by Ananias though. His obedience means so much in light of we get to know on this side of history. Yes, in the vision, Ananias is told that Paul is going to be God’s “chosen instrument”, so he has some idea of what could happen, but God tells and Ananias obeys.

God uses this ordinary act of obedience to produce extraordinary results.

Not all acts of obedience are made equal. Sometimes it takes years or generations to see the fruit. Sometimes something that seems big doesn’t take a lot of thought or second-guessing. Sometimes obeying is the last thing we want to do. But we obey. After reading and thinking on Ananias’ radical obedience and the boldness of the Early Church, I want to obey better, in the small stuff and the big stuff. I want to live knowing that has created a special role for me in the building of His Kingdom, but I need to say yes, to be able to step into it. It may be a baby step, a seemingly unimportant conversation, or huge leap of faith, but as Ananias demonstrates, obedience leads to something extraordinary.