Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Sick & Tired

Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again: rejoice!  |  Philippians 4:4

I'm so sick and tired of being sick and tired. It seems like the past six weeks I've spent more time in bed recovering from various types of sickness, exhaustion, and anxiety than ever before. Flu season is no joke, and neither is urge to go into deep hibernation during winter months. Summer, hurry back to me.

Normally I would kick the winter blues by burying myself in work and packing my schedule with social events. But since I've been making relaxation a priority lately, those things no longer seem like the best solution.

This year in his annual Christmas letter to me, my dad challenged me to learn how to spend time with the Holy Spirit. I talk to God all the time and rely on Jesus daily—but sitting in the Spirit has always been a tough one for me. I do love a good challenge and knew I needed to try a new way to invigorate my day-to-day, so I made a plan.

Each morning I wake up 15 minutes earlier than needed to read and focus on what the Spirit is saying. Since I have always loved sleeping until the last minute, I've been amazed at how dramatically this new practice has transformed each day. Don't get me wrong—I don't jump out of bed and bounce around the apartment—I'm always tempted to skip a day due to mental and emotional exhaustion. But as I go about my normal routine after quiet time, I can feel my spirits slowing raising to greet the day. By the time I'm walking to work, my mind and heart are refreshed and expectant for what's to come. And when I go to bed, no matter how sick, stressed, anxious, or tired work made me, my day feels complete and I fall into a peaceful sleep. I'm embarrassed to say it, but I doubted something like quiet time could actually transform my day. But it's true and I'm so thankful for the daily refreshment.


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Love the New Year, Hate the Winter

Romans 12:2

I'm a summer girl through and through. If it were 80 degrees and sunny all the time I would tan like nobody's business (don't judge) and never complain about a single drop of sweat.

Winter is the worst. December is bearable with the flurry of social gatherings, Christmas, and my birthday. But after New Year, there's not much to look forward to and time creeeeeps alongggg.

So I tend to throw myself into New Year last-hurrah style. From elaborate NYE plans with sparkly outfits to an extensive list of resolutions for January 1st, I'm all about it. This year, a stomach ache kept me from executing my perfectly planned party. But it wasn't the worst. I actually used the downtime to edit my growing list of 2015 goals.

I'm not super strict about sticking to every detail of my resolutions, but I do try to keep them in mind as I make decisions throughout the year. Especially in the realm of health, I love to see how I can push myself harder as each year passes. Last week, my party of one on the couch led to an extra long list.

Zzz...yes, I'm well aware that I have now bored you to sleep. Stay with me! Resolutions aren't just for overachievers.

One of my favorite conversation starters this week has been, "Have you set any interesting New Years resolutions?" 75% of the responses include rolled eyes and a profession of hating NYE. I just don't get it. Why would anyone want to pass up the chance to improve their life? "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will." I believe and practice that by reevaluating and setting yearly goals for myself.

Okay okay, I know that January 1st is just one day out of 365. I know that anyone could choose to alter their life at any point of the year. But I also know that humans, organized or disorganized in nature, are creatures of memorial and habit. We could celebrate St. Patrick any old day of the year, but instead we honor him (or green beer) on March 17th. So I see nothing "pointless" about renewing the purpose and direction of my life on the same day, year after year.

Here are some of my goals:

  • blog every-other week (Tuesdays)
  • travel at least three times (Chicago, Nashville, other Landor office, Michigan)
  • read three books (started one last year but I'm still counting it)

  • workout 2x a week (ballet at two different studios)
  • curb sweet tooth (read labels for corn syrup, eat sweets only once a day)
  • eat several fruits and veggies every day
  • drink a glass of water every morning
  • quick sun salutation in the morning and evening
  • begin bedtime routine at 11pm (instead of 12pm)
  • audition for something dance-related

  • learn how to relieve stress and combat anxiety
  • look into essential oils
  • mantra: "You are brave"

  • get up 15 minutes early for quiet time and meditation (instead of doing it before bed)
  • explore Isaiah
  • strengthen prayer rhythms and pray for my friends and family constantly (joined the Crossroads Clifton prayer team)
  • learn how to strengthen my spiritual gifts

  • stick to my budget (less eating out, less impulse buying, more thoughtful purchases)
  • save for a laptop
  • put all under-the-table earnings toward savings (babysitting and freelance)

  • practice hand-lettering
  • take more photos on my camera, not phone
  • learn more braids

  • prioritize others' birthdays
  • share more about myself
  • ask more about others
  • deepen female relationships

It's not too late! I challenge you to renew your mind by setting a resolution or two. Make it concrete and practical. Give yourself grace when you fail. And look back on how it effected your year next NYE. 

If you have any thoughts on the value of resolutions, I'd love to hear them!


Thursday, January 1, 2015


2 Corinthians 5:17

Last night I spent New Years Eve essentially alone on the couch, nursing a stomach ache and thinking about my goals. It was a roller coaster ride of a year if I've ever had one. The highs came in the form of many awesome opportunities and the lows had to do with some emotional wells that began to crack open.

But despite my lack of human company when the clock struck 12, I didn't feel alone. Yes, the kitten was nosing his way around my glass of water and my roommate was coughing in her distant corner of the apartment. But beyond all that, I felt aware. In tune. Alert. I was waiting for the new.

And when 2014 finally rolled over to 2015, I wished the Person who was with me a happy new year. (Super corny, but stay with me.) The past twelve months have done a thorough job of breaking me down, making me vulnerable. I've been getting sick and stressed out so frequently in the past few months.

So I'm looking forward to the year of restoration and fulfilled promises. I know His timing looks different than mine, but last night's serenity gave me a small, sweet taste of the year to come. He tells me we are together in this—that this is our year and the beginning of many more to come. And I believe him. I'm in. We got this.

2014, you caught me off guard. Dear 2015, I'm ready for you.

(I resolved to post every other week so look for much more from me this year! I promise to fill you in on 2014 and keep you up to date in 2015.)

With much hope, 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Easy = Hard

I promised myself, someone, or everyone to write this particular post in August. Truthfully, I've been working it in my head for a long time. However, I felt like I never had enough "final answers" to write a comprehensive piece about the current state of my life. Not that I have all the answers now, or will ever know my future. But a few things have been decided for the next chapter of my life.

Rewind: I got a superfantasticamazing offer to live at a summer camp (Maranatha) for the rest of my life and love on people, plan giant events, design some cool things, and have quiet time on the beach under the setting sun each night. That happened in July. After realizing I might want to move away from my community, post-grad panic began to set in. I did a really excellent (read: miserable) job communicating to everyone what I was really thinking during that whole process because I honestly just didn't know.

I decided a long time ago that I never wanted to settle for anything. I use that driving thought as a sort of compass for most of the decisions in my life. Am I taking the easy route? What am I willing to sacrifice? Will this make me stronger? So naturally my new job offer in a state far, far away from the loving arms of my Cincinnati community felt like true north on my adventure compass. It hardly sounded like a piece of cake, but the job description was pretty close to my dream job. Working closely with people in a ministry, using my gifts of design, organization, and even dance to have a meaningful impact in the Kingdom.

job option A

On the other hand, I had begun mentally preparing to make Cincinnati my home since my fourth year of college. I loved that tiny NYC wannabe and its huge heart for brave little entrepreneurs and fearless creatives. After attending Crossroads Church for over 5 years, I was weaving dreams about all the ways I could infiltrate their community of servants to really give myself away, in the best sense. And finally, through a string of impossible events, my best friend picked up her life in Cleveland to move in with me. Could I leave all those possibilities for new ones?

job option B

Summer: I gave myself an ultimatum to come to some sort of decision by the end of the Maranatha season, even though I hadn't received an official offer yet. Hannah and I worked it out at Taco Bell, the best place to make any life-altering decision. I left Maranatha peaceful; deciding to wait for the official offer, pray about my future, and consider the possibility of one day moving to Michigan. That was easy to go along with for the first month of being back in Cincinnati. I missed that perfect strip of beach more than anything in the world. Who dreams of an office desk anyway? But if anyone could change their mind every single day, I certainly would.

Fall: For six months, I wrestled daily with the question, Where do I belong, Lord? By mid-October it was almost agonizing to answer my friends' kind inquiries. I wished the decision would disappear. My greatest fear has always been letting other people down or causing them great pain. Surely my absence from either place would cause that for someone?

I got the email on a Thursday during the busiest, best, most confusing week of the fall, "We're officially extending an offer at Maranatha to you." Sheer panic enveloped me. I was thriving at work by throwing myself into a charity event Landor was building from the ground up. I worked 55 hours that week and hardly noticed I was tired to the bone. New and old friends found me everywhere and my extroverted heart was overflowing. But still my mind jumped back to the sweet faces of the kids I cared for like siblings. Hannah, Ellie, Jack, Zac...I missed them so much it hurt.

"I don't want to leave," I confided in Emily the next week. I was avoiding calling Maranatha back "But the hardest things in my life have always been the right choices." She knew what past decisions I was referring to.

That weekend I turned the offer down, cried a little, and put on a happy face. Nothing was any clearer after I hung up the phone.

Winter: By December I was sick and tired of my divided mind. I took two weeks off of work, packed five bags, and skipped off to Michigan. Visiting four of my favorite Maranatha families was the vacation I needed. Although it came with more confused feelings and giant fears. After a week of bliss, I arrived at home an emotional mess. "How do I leave them behind?" I sobbed to my dad.

The beginning of the year started unusually. "Landor would like to extend you an offer," They told me. "You just have to wait." That was the catalyst. If I was still jobless (as in a freelancer or self-employed) by May, I would go to Michigan forever. I allowed myself to dream a little of a new start. But wait, what was I running from? The offer letter showed up a month later. No more stalling.

Present: "What if the easiest thing to do is actually the hardest?" I peered over my meatballs at Emily. "I finally know that staying here in Cincinnati is the thing I want the most. But I'm grieving over the idea of closing the door on adventure." Remaining here, as the city girl, close to college friends, and working in a corporate, consumer office, felt like defeat. Surely forsaking my beloved life for the wilderness and solitude of a Michigan ministry was the nobel choice. After all, the kid in me longed to run away to my safe haven once again. But...could God possibly want my wild heart right where it was?

Do hard things. Or, stop living by mantras and lay down your life before the King of Kings.

How strange to realize in this moment that I knew the His desire of my heart all along.

Today is my first day (after three years of interning faithfully) of big kid, real deal employment. Guess I'm gonna be a daughter of the Queen City King for a little longer.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Sacred Storm

"I finally finished this book." I thought to myself, flipping to the last page of the Sacred Romance by Brent Curtis & John Eldredge. Then, I saw it: Epilogue. "Eh, I probably don't need to read that." I had started this book two summers ago when I first worked at Maranatha—I wasn't about to let 15 pages of afterthoughts get in the way of crossing this piece of Christian literature off my list.

"Read it, my daughter." He said.

So I did. And that's when things began making sense.

"While our heart grows in its capacity for the pleasure, it grows in its capacity to know pain. The two go hand in hand. What, then shall we do with disappointment? We can be our own enemy, depending on how we handle the heartache that comes with desire. To want [more out of life] is to suffer; the word passion means to suffer. This is why many Christians are reluctant to listen to their hearts: They know that their dullness is keeping them from feeling the pain of life. Many of us have simply not to want so much; it's safer that way. It's also godless. That's stoicism, not Christianity. Sanctification is an awakening, the rousing of our souls from a dead sleep of sin into the fullness of their capacity of life." (pg. 201)

I'm in pain because I want much from life. In fact, I want more than this life can give me. I desire to live the sacred romance.

And then the storm broke above my head.