Sunday, August 25, 2013


I shared not too long ago about a conversation I had with my sister in which she told me she couldn't remember a time when she had seen me this happy. I don't give all the credit for that to any one thing or person. But I will say that coming back to Tampa was the beginning. 

This weekend I was called by my college and asked for donations. The irony is that I can't even believe I paid for four years there. I didn't donate. I doubt I ever will. My time at Purdue was not my better years. While I'm thankful for some of the friends I made that are still a big part of my life today and of course for the opportunity to learn while I was there - I can safely say college was not the best years of my life. 

When I think about my time here, in Tampa, I am most grateful that I have finally learned to trust myself. I lived in fear of disappointing people, of failure, and of trying anything I wasn't sure I could succeed at. It was a limiting and honestly rather exhausting way to go through life. I was reminded of how far I've come since those days this week as I was talking to a friend who just moved back. He went away for a few month to try living somewhere else, away from his family, and pursing a career in an industry he hadn't tried before.

As I said, he's back now. And I couldn't help noticing he seemed down about the experience. As I was driving us to our plans for the night I said, 'you know, I think sometimes trying is the win. Trying in and of itself can be a success. So it didn't turn out the way you thought, right? But I don't see that as a failure. You put yourself out there, you took a risk, and you experienced something ... I don't see any failure in that'.

I am a big proponent of practicing what you preach. While I am always growing, I will say, my time in Tampa has really changed the way I define success. Better still, along the way I've learned to give myself room to try. And most of all I've quit seeing everything I didn't accurately predict as a failure. Sometimes the win is what you learn in the experience. Turns out when I take risks, my wins are bigger and better. 

As I said my years at Purdue were not my best years. But, I will say I wouldn't trade the experiences that I had or what I learned. Though admittedly when asked this week by our middle school youth Pastor if I got the chance to relive my life is I would, the answer is an easy no, it's probably not for the reason you think. Each year for me is better than the one before. I don't want to go back and I don't want to change the journey. What I do want is to keep growing, learning, and experiencing. I want to try. I want room to be creative and daring.

Perhaps one of my favorite books this year was 'Love Does' by Bob Goff. As I was talking it over with a coworker, we realized we loved the same thing about the story. Bob wasn't afraid to take chances and he wasn't afraid to be bold. Even more I love that he has raised his children to be daring and creative - that few things are impossible or out of reach. I want that. I want that childlike sense of adventure. 

The craziest part about taking chances and giving yourself room to experience? You start dreaming again. Like A kid, I wake up with crazy ideas running through my head and sometimes, I give them a whirl. As a girl whose biggest fear is failure, it's refreshing to dream. I guess if I'm being completely honest, I'm still figuring out what I want to be when I grow up. But I'm also enjoying the road to get there.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Ever After: Life Lessons Learned in my Castle of Chaos.

We all rolled our eyes as children as our parents told us life wasn’t fair, right?  But for many of us we didn’t realize just how unlike we imagined life could turn out until we were adults.  For me, this became abundantly clear after college.  For four years of high school we were working towards college because getting a college degree would secure our future and our jobs.  Right? Wrong.

While I was able to secure a job before graduation I watched as it took some of my closest friends nearly 5 years to get in their first professional jobs.  I watched them live at home and defer loans while waiting tables and saying, ‘I went to college for this?’  Well, this and a mountain of student loans and a facebook page full of memories – but yes.

Vicki Courtney’s book, ‘Ever After’ is a real, honest, and humorous look at real life.  She’s not afraid to tell it like it is and to show her own flaws while talking through the real phases we’ve all been through or are likely headed.  She offers great perspective as well as practical tips for surviving each phase of adult life.

One of my favorite chapters was when Vicki talked about weddings v. marriages.  If you’re in my age group, this will ring true for you as well.  Vicki writes, ‘Our culture has made an idol out of the wedding day and a mockery out of marriage’.  She goes on to point out that we have a website full of unrealistic wedding expectations by girls who don’t even have boyfriends yet – here’s looking at you, Pinterest.  And while there’s nothing wrong with big dreams of beautiful wedding dresses we miss the bigger point of the actual marriage!  The relationship you’re committing to for the rest of your life.

Vicki writes out of personal experience of unmet expectations as a woman, a wife and a Mom.  She relates to us but also challenges us to make the right things a priority.  I love her fresh perspective and biblical basis for her advice and counsel.   Most of all I love her wit as the wades through real life.

Who should read this book?  Anyone woman who's life hasn't turned out exactly how she imagined.  Not just married women, not just Moms, but all women who are dealing with unmet expectations about how your life has turned out and where it's headed.  You won't be disappointed and I promise you'll each take something away.


Disclaimer:  This book was donated to me for review.  This review however, is all me.  

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Lessons from a Recovering Yesaholic.

I am in the midst of reading a book I was sent to review. I've greatly scaled back book reviewing in the last 2 years because it turns out the library lends them free and I can read whatever I want. But one particular publicist has sent me several great ones over e past year so I continue to consider everything she sends my way. Actually, I would kind of like to be her friend in real life since she didn't even judge me when I turned down Beth Moore books with an honest, ' I just can't read her'.

You'll have to hang tight for me to reveal the book and the review but one chapter if the book hit particularly close to home. The author, Vicki Courtney talks about yesaholics. This is when I stopped and looked for her on twitter so we could be friends. Those of you who have known me for a while won't be surprised when I say this was me! I am a yes girl. I love to say yes so much I use to commit to things and immediately think - wait, what?

Let me give you an example. A few years after I started going to my church which would later also become my employer, they asked me to work with middle schoolers. Our middle school youth pastor is amazing and so are the gals who work with him, as I've learned since being on staff. But God bless people who love middle schoolers because as it turns out - I do not. I mean, from a distance sure but not in a way that requires me to interact with them. See where I'm going with this?

I said yes and a month later I had to come back and say a very firm no to continuing. I love people but it turns out that excludes most people between the ages of 12-14. Later I plugged into women's ministry and it was a much better fit. But I not before saying yes to several other ministries that weren't! I just didn't want to say no.

Saying no continues to be a battle for me even though I now consider myself a recovered Yesaholic. Two-ish years ago our pastor did a series called 'creating space' that rocked the way I see my time. See, I was so busy working two jobs (to get debt free), buying a house, leading a bible study, reading 2 books a week, working out, making friends, traveling, and saying yes to every single opportunity to do anything that I was missing out on everything. Track with me here. I wasn't doing anything great, I was sliding by doing just enough at everything.

After that series about creating space for a heathy relationship with The Lord and with other people I caught the vision and decided to buckle down. I swung far onto the other side at first. I said no, no,no, no, no like a two year old first learning to talk. But I refused to be a crappy Christian and a lazy friend because I was saying yes to a bunch of junk I really didn't even want to do!

It leveled off after a while. I didn't keep saying no forever. Eventually the space I created allowed me to say yes to the right things. To the things I'm passionate about. Most importantly it gave me time to listen. Listen to my Savior. Time listening to my friends. And to really be there for my family. I finally started to do the right things well.

I still catch myself from time to time. Even this week as I was preparing to be one of the point people on a 1,000 person event I caught myself saying I would do everything instead if recruiting volunteers or delegating. 'Oh I'll just do that myself'.  They do say once an addict always an addict right? I guess I'll always be a Yesaholic it's just a matter of staying recovered. Vicki Courtney shared this verse and I am going to be placing is all over the plCe (probably starting with my color coded planner I take everywhere with me):

Better is a handful of quietness than two hands full of hard worm and striving after the wind' - Ecclesiastes 4:6

Create space for a handful of quietness friends. Great things happen in those quiet moments but it turns out they don't happen by accident.  For me it's first thing in the morning. And I know y'all are already making excuses in your heads as to why your couldn't possibly get up 30 minutes earlier than you do but I don't want to hear Em! Few things if value come easy kids. I don't love the crack of dawn either but it turns out that time is like money - if you plan to save what's leftover there never is any.


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Lessons I Learned From A Thief.

In June I went on a retreat at a beachfront Hotel. It was for work and we spent our days in planning meetings. The last morning of the retreat I woke up early and read my bible on my iPad before heading out to walk on the beach for some exercise and to pray for my friends (some of you will remember getting those texts: this is where I'm praying for you today).

What haven't shared yet is  that while I was on this retreat my iPad stolen.

When I got home that night and unpacked my car, I realized  I didn't have anymore.  I immediately called the hotel and let them know. Later I was able to ping it to the location the thief had taken it (and possibly lived) with the Find My Phone app. The police went to the home and tried to recover it but weren't able too. I spent 2 weeks anxiously waiting for another ping but of course none ever came.

In the 5 weeks that followed I continued to pray and tell The Lord that I wanted it back but I wasn't unwillingly to learn a hard lesson if he was trying to teach me. See, the beauty of growing in my relationship with The Lord is that is has greatly impacted my reactions to things I would had formerly lost my religion over. I will speak for myself and not my amazing closest guy friend who called I. My behalf a few times when I say The Lord allowed me to be gracious and kind through the whole ordeal (and believe me when I tell you it was an ordeal).

I waited on the Lord's timing. Three weeks went by with no contact. Finally I felt the Lord prompt me to write one last email. I woke up early and wrote the email before work. By that afternoon my new iPad was ordered.

So I've been asking myself this week as I celebrate the Lords provision for something I wanted but certainly didn't need and his favor in a frustrating circumstance, what was he teaching me?  I continue to believe this year is about learning to count all circumstances as joy. This has been incredibly challenging for me at different points along the way. But I believe that the Lord gives and it's within right to take away. I believe that he is sovereign and good times and frustrating. And most of all I believe that he continues to remind me that I don't get to lose my joy when I am mad, sad, frustrated, or fed up.

Also I think that it's interesting I spent the month I was focused on simplifying and eliminating excess  for my house and my life being without my most used electronic. Maybe The Lord needed me t be without during this month of July so he could have my attention, fully, and so that he could be heard.

It is an incredible blessing to have one again, especially as I write this blog on it, from home. And I have so desperately missed being able to FaceTime with my niece from here (I've already done that twice this week).

Do I hope I go the rest of my life without being stolen from again? Yes. It probably goes without saying how violating it feels to have something taken from a locked hotel room. And certainly having your information, photos, etc be taken from a stranger is alarming. But thankfully I was able to erase things remotely and none of my personal information seems to have been effected. It has been an annoyance but graciously, only that.

I am working at not allowing anything to distract me from living simple and being ambitious about the right things as Bob Goff says. And I continue to work at seeing every challenge or bump in the road as an opportunity to choose to be joyful. Can I just add that sounds so easy but as a lifestyle choice is rockier.

Ok.ok on a serious note y'all: getting your stuff stolen stinks and I may have prayed that the thief would feel sick everyday until they return it to the hotel. Yah, so there's that.


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Books You Can't Put Down.

I like to describe things in extremist form.  If I bake something for you I will always ask if it changed your life a little bit.  With books I define a great book by whether or not I can put it down.  I actually mean this literally as I nearly chopped my own toe off with a ceramic coaster this week because I wouldn't close my book to walk upstairs and as I grabbed my coffee cup, didn't realize the coaster was stuck to the bottom until it fell off and stabbed my toe on the way down.  So there's that.

Here's my book I couldn't put down list from this summer for those of you who keep asking me what you should read next:

First and foremost read this one:

Now only could I not put this book down, I raved about it so much 3 of my friend finished the same copy of my book within a week.  Yes, that good.  Buy it, read it, pass it on, rave about it and repeat.

Here's the summary from Amazon:

A pilot's wife is taught to be prepared for the late-night knock at the door. But when Kathryn Lyons receives word that a plan flown by her husband, Jack, has exploded near the coast of Ireland, she confronts the unfathomable-one startling revelation at a time. Soon drawn into a maelstrom of publicity fueled by rumors that Jack led a secret life, Kathryn sets out to learn who her husband really was, whatever that knowledge might cost. Her search propels this taut, impassioned novel as it movingly explores the question, How well can we ever really know another person?

This next one is a 4-in-1 recommendation and actually Amber of Brunch with Amber the blog gave me this set so thanks girl - you're the best.

I started this on Monday and I'm almost done with book 3.  Yeah, so there's that.  And no, I haven't been home sick in bed, I've just been staying up too late and getting up too early to work it in.  Oh and reading in the gym, at stop lights, and every other chance I get.  My warning on this one is some parts of the book are a little 'racier' than my usual recommendations so if that bothers you, steer clear.  You've been warned.

I love the theme of the friendships in the books though and I have to say I'm a sucker for friends who turn into couples.

I'll skip the amazon on this one and tell you that it's about 4 best friends who go into the bridal business together.  They are: an event planner, a florist, a baker, and photographer.  Each book follows a different friend on the path to love and romance.

Ok, 5 books is enough for now kids.  I'll get back to you with more soon since I have the most amazing friends in the world and they gift me books (oh hey, maybe I'll get a whole new stack for my birthday next month?).


Tuesday, August 6, 2013


In prep for a blog I’m writing for my work (our women’s ministry blog) I’ve been on a mission to purge.  I shared a few years back about reading the book Seven: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess.  My friend Meagan and I read it together and immediately caught the vision of life on the simple side. 

Over the last two years I’ve tried to stick with it and not revert to my old ways.  Mostly I’ve picked simple ways to keep the crap from piling up like: giving away every book after I read it, going through my closet once a month and pulling out things I haven’t been wearing, etc.  But no matter how hard I try, I always realize that I could do better.

So as we went into a month of living the Seven Experiment as a women’s ministry I tried to decide what I wanted to do.  Some women did the section on food, some did spending, still others gave up media, but for me I kept coming back to the same thing: I have too much.  Could I improve in all of these areas? Sure.  But I don’t have cable or Internet at home which limits my media intake anyway.  And I could certainly spend less, shop less, or eat less. But I really just want to live simpler.

When I say purge I should tell you that it was a little untraditional.  I’m not a clutter keeper by ANY stretch of the imagination.  So it’s not your typical ‘stuff’ I needed to purge.  But I am excessively OCD and therefore I keep a stash of everything.  So, for a month I didn’t restock my fridge, or my pantry, or my hall closet (which holds 3 of everything from shaving cream to cleaning supplies to light bulbs).  I am constantly couponing and bargain shopping and squirreling away.  But honestly, it’s excessive. 

I started the month by purging my entire garage.  My parents were in town, I’d just traded out my vehicle and gone bigger so I had a great excuse.  While my Dad was away with friends for the morning my Mom and I went to town.  Everything that was ‘on the border’ as in ‘I should probably keep this because I may one day use it’ got pitched.  Gone. Done.  Don’t need it. We cleared out an entire driveway full of stuff so obviously I’d been hanging on to more than I thought.

Next came the pantry.  I pulled up an e-mail from one of my favorite coworkers who runs our food pantry.  Everything on their need list that I had – I gave them.  Pasta, canned goods, snack foods, peanut butter, pancake mix, etc.  Bagged it up and gave it to someone who actually needed it because Lord knows I’m not about to starve to death.  The fun part about this was my entire bible study got on board – and we were able to stock the food pantry at church, many of us using only things we already owned!  I did make myself eat even the expired food in my pantry.  I survived.  So don’t stress.

There’s really one other category I really wanted to share with you all about because this has been a fun one for me.  In the process of purging I’ve been able to sell a ton of the extras I have around the house and put that money into other things.  I really wanted new dishes which sounds silly but I had this vision in my head of what I wanted to do with my new color scheme.  So, I sold 2 sets of dishes and bought the ones I really wanted.  I sold a bunch of used books and I bought a few new ones that I would leave with people along the way on my vacation this summer.  It’s been incredibly fun to hear back from each person I’ve hand-me-downed a book too and be able to talk to them about their takeaways. 

This wasn’t the most intense Seven Experiment I could have chosen but I have to tell you it’s been a blessing and it’s been fun.  I’ve made it fun.  This is obviously a lifestyle change that I have to continue to choose, to live simply, but as one of my goals for this year this has really been a great way to renew my efforts.  Jen Hatmaker’s book is really interesting and I highly recommend it. Also, stay up with our women’s ministry blog and read all of our writers experience with the experiment –

Lastly, I should note that I’ve committed to keep giving away 2 things a day for another month with Meagan.  So the purge continues.


Monday, August 5, 2013


This year has been one of spiritual growth for me.  I have pursued the Lord harder than ever before and He has shown up big.  I’m reading through the bible in the year and I’ve been having these amazing coffee times in the morning just reading the word.  It’s amazing that even though I’ve been churched my whole life and I’ve read the bible all the way through three times before – I am learning so many new stories and verses.  The best part is, suddenly my life is relating back to scripture because I actually know it.

That’s my preference to share what the Lord has challenged me with this year. He is teaching me what it looks like to choose joy. One of my favorite verses to come out of this year in my bible reading and from my summer small group which studied David faithfully for 7 weeks is this: The Lord is my shepherd: I lack nothing’ from Psalm 23.  Any of you in a season where you need to wake up every morning and remind yourself that the Lord is your shepherd and you lack nothing?

I am. 

Now hear me when I say that I don’t mean that to say this is a bad season of life.   In fact, it’s a great season of life.  It is not however an easy season.  Good, big, healthy things are happening but on the day to day there’s been some hard days.  I am walking through a tough season alongside my family.  I have recently walked away from a close friendship.  I am going through some transition in my job that has challenged me and stretched me.

I am learning in this season to choose joy daily.  The bible is so clear that we are meant to be joyful in trials of ‘many kinds’.  But as I was talking this thought process through with my Mom I said, ‘I’m learning to be steady’.  That’s what choosing joy has looked like for me.  To be steady in my joy no matter what storm I’m weathering.

As a kid I had a lot of attitude.  I know this shocks you all but it’s true.  When I would tell my Mom just how mad I was she would say, ‘well, that’s your choice’.  I hated that.  Actually I’m feeling annoyed just thinking about it now.  The worst part?  She was mostly right. I don’t know that we really can choose to turn off an emotion completely, but I do think we choose our attitudes.

I think it every season of life we have to choose to be joyful in our circumstances.  For me, the best way to do this?  Stay grateful.  Whenever I particularly crummy day or circumstance I call up my best friend and we play ‘high/low’, a game a few of my fellow bloggers will appreciate came from a great fiction read.   You talk about the high and your low of the day.  It’s nice to be able to acknowledge the crummy but even better to celebrate something that went right about your no good day.

If you’re in a tough season try it – a high and a low everyday.  Teach your heart to be grateful for what you do have, who you have, and what’s going right.  Somehow it makes the crappy other stuff seem smaller.