Monday Lovin’

Happy Monday! I’ve been busy doing and reading all the things. My mind has been moving a million miles a minute, but here’s the fun part – I’ll be sharing all the things with you!

  1. Two weeks ago, I went on a mini-spring break with my best friend. We drove from Indianapolis to Tybee Island, right off the coast of Savannah. We rented a condo via VRBO and rested for three days. It was the BEST. The weather wasn’t super hot, but we enjoyed plenty of time on the beach. Note: We learned that sunscreen expires the HARD way.

Our favorite restaurant on the island was Huc-A-Poos. It was very affordable, super chill and so yummy!

  1. When I was in Tybee Island, I was able to read. A lot. Both books I read were related to freedom, so it’s no surprise that I love them both. I read Shannan Martin’s Falling Free and Rebekah Lyons’ You Are Free. I highly recommend both. These authors are fantastic at telling stories and giving insights. Both of these authors have been on Jamie Ivey’s Happy Hour, and I recommend both interviews.
  1. I recently made a purchase from Gray Monroe. It’s an online boutique full of feminine clothing. I’m all about supporting women who own their own businesses, and Gray Monroe gives me that opportunity. I was also very impressed with their customer service. I LOVE this kimono, and it’s even prettier in person.
  2. MLJ Adoptions facilitates a summer hosting program for children from Ukraine. It’s become one of my favorite things that we do! The list of children who are participating this summer was just finalized and I’m beyond excited that these sweet children will be able to be part of a family for a period of time this summer.
  3. I know, I know, you may get sick of me talking about my favorite Younique stuff, but man, Suckerpunched lip stain is my new FAVORITE thing in the whole wide world. It’s A LOT of color, but I feel very strongly that any woman can wear color! (I guess it makes me a little bit bossy, too.)

I hope your Monday was full of the good stuff!

Wanting to be Liked

I want you to like me. Yes, you. Whoever you are. I really, really want you to like me.

I want you to like me so badly that I may avoid giving you bad news because I’m afraid. Afraid of your response causing you to not like me, to get mad at me or think I’ve misled you in some way. Even if I’m confident that this bad news is not at all my fault.

The more I like you, the more afraid I am that I’m going to let you down.

This plays out in my friendships, my work relationships and in interactions with prospective client families at work.

Maybe you think I need thicker skin, I probably do. Maybe you think I’m insecure, I may be. But, here’s the thing I’m realizing — if my identity is in how people perceive me and my goal is to be liked, I’m going to live and die according to what people think.

Yikes.

As I’ve been walking through John with a friend of mine, we ask every week, “What does this passage say about man?” Each time we’re reminded that it’s easy to sit back and think we would do differently, but that maybe we aren’t so different.

“Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved human praise more than praise from God” (John 12: 42-43).

The “they” that John is talking about is the crowd. This specific crowd, it is documented, saw “so many signs” performed by Jesus in their presence. But they were afraid of the fallout of acknowledging their faith in Christ.

I’m not so different from the crowd. In wanting people to like me, I’m seeking after that human praise. In running from giving bad news, I’m demonstrating my fear of man.

It’s not all bad to be likable. After all, kindness, compassion and empathy are Christ-like qualities. But when being likable by people is my primary goal, my identity becomes what others think of me and not what God says to be true of me.

So often I’ll think, “I wish I didn’t care so much.” But John’s words about the crowd reflect that it isn’t that simple.

There’s a line in a Taylor Swift song, “Band-aids don’t fix bullet holes,” that applies here. Stick with me for just a minute. We can’t put a band-aid on a serious wound, we have got to get to the root of the issue.

Asking for a thicker skin would simply be a band-aid in the greater issue of my identity. I need to want praise from God more than human praise. I need to value God’s view of me over man’s view of me. I don’t need a new list of goals; the core of my identity needs to shift.

So if I can’t just put a band-aid on or add this to my to-do list, how can I move forward?

  • Notice and acknowledge the behavior.
  • Repent and ask for forgiveness from the Lord. Truly, I wouldn’t see lasting change without confessing that the old/current way that I’m acting is wrong.
  • Pray for guidance and that the Holy Spirit would direct me moment by moment and day by day. When I gave my life to Christ at eighteen, I was given a new heart, but the rest of my life will be learning how to live in light of it. This being a Christian thing is a process.

Monday Lovin’: The Podcast Edition

Words are my love language. Reading them, listening to them, writing them and speaking them out-loud. I can’t seem to get enough of them. I listened to my first podcast about two years ago, and it’s been game over since then. Especially when I’m in the car or on a walk, it brings me joy to listen to other people talk.

In honor of NPR’s #trypod, I’m sharing my favorite podcasts. You’ll see very quickly what my interests are just by learning which podcasts I enjoy listening to.

Jamie Ivey’s Happy Hour is my most recent favorite. Jamie Ivey interviews a different Christian woman each week for one hour. They talk about serious and light-hearted topics. I appreciate that Jamie is willing to get to the root of a person’s story. It’s been super fun to hear the voices of some of my favorite authors and creators. All of the women have incredible stories to tell and insights that I’ve loved hearing. I haven’t listened to episode that I didn’t enjoy yet, but there are several episodes that I’ve absolutely loved: Heather Avis, Rebekah Lyons, Ann Voskamp, all of the episodes with Jessica Honegger, and any and all episodes with Jen Hatmaker. 

Sorta Awesome was the first podcast that I ever listened to. I listened to the first six episodes on a road trip, and it was like my gateway drug to podcasts. Megan Tietz hosts weekly and then there’s a rotation of co-hosts. Some episodes are themed, others are lists, but even themes that I’m not particularly interested in are still loads of fun to listen to. Frequent topics of conversation are books, beauty tips, Myers Briggs and pop culture. My favorite episode is the one on friendship.

The West Wing Weekly delights me! The West Wing is my all-time favorite television show, and I’ve binge watched it at least three times now, so when Josh Malina announced that he would be hosting a podcast that talked about The West Wing episode by episode, I did a happy dance. In recapping the first two seasons of the podcast, they’ve had the BEST guests, including Rob Lowe (!!), Aaron Sorokin, Bradley Whitford and Richard Schiff.

NPR Politics Podcast became a favorite of mine during the election season, but I can’t seem to quit it. So much happens each week in politics, and keeping up with it each day is a little bit much with everything else I have going on, so I appreciate listening to the weekly round-up podcast on Fridays for everything that I may have missed.

There are obviously other podcasts that I’ve enjoyed listening to, but these are my weekly listens. What podcasts are you listening to?

Monday Lovin’

It’s been a while since I did a Weekend Wrap-up or shared what I’m loving lately. A car accident and then a couple quiet weekends will do that, but there are some things I’m really excited about, so here we go with a Monday Lovin’.

  1. I cannot say enough good things about Jen Wilkin’s Women of the Word. Guys, it’s SO GOOD! Women at my church have been sharing about it for years, but I’m just now getting to read it with my friend Katie. We read a chapter a week, discuss it and apply its concepts to some verses in Ephesians. It’s easy to read, but full of applicable stories and practical tools.
  2. I’ve got two recipes that I’ve enjoyed making this winter, and have made them both in the past several weeks. Pesto Caprese Chicken in Foil and Tabasco Braised Chicken with Chickpeas are both AMAZING! I make the Tabasco Braised Chicken with spinach instead of kale because I like it better. The bonus of both of these recipes is how few dishes you need to use… as in, JUST ONE!
  3. This fall, a friend of mine did a make-up fundraiser for MLJ Adoptions. I fell in love with the make up products, and have recently decided to sell Younique myself. I’m so very excited for all the opportunities and hope that my friends will enjoy some of my favorite products, too. I can’t say enough good things about the bronzer, foundation, concealer, mascara, eye liner and lip stains – although you can’t go wrong with anything!
  4. My clean, organized desk. No lie, I couldn’t even see my desk on Saturday morning under the paperwork stacked on top of it. New health insurance, car insurance details and a new car all combined into a hot, hot mess. I took time filing, organizing and purging to make it look as good as new!
  5. Swap ’til you Drop is this week at Harvest North Indy! If you’re in the Indianapolis area and wanting to add a couple new pieces of clothing to your closet for the spring, stop by on Saturday. If you’ve got some clothes to get rid of, we’d love to take them off your hands. Clothing drop off is at the church all week from 9-4 and the event itself is Saturday from 10AM-1PM. Excited is an understatement!

Here’s to hoping that this week is the last week of winter here in Indiana! Happy Monday, friends!

Cars, Contentment & Capability

I was in a bad car accident at the beginning of February. I was driving to a friend’s house from babysitting when a driver ran a red light, t-boned a car that then hit me. Honestly, it happened so fast that I didn’t have time to be afraid. Had it not been for the pictures, I don’t know if I would have even been able to comprehend what happened.

Let’s just say that the month February was a doozy. The initial soreness from being in a car accident, saying goodbye to the first car that was ever mine in a tow yard, the hassle of dealing with car insurance, the bank, GAP insurance to buying a new car that wasn’t planned.

But in the midst of the unplanned, unexpected and unfortunate, were some life lessons begging to be learned. These two specifically are thematic for what God has been trying to teach me for years.

Be content with what you’ve got. Two things about me: one, I loved my Honda CR-V; it was a faithful car, got great gas mileage. It’s the car I drove when I moved to Indianapolis, and I’m very sentimental about that season of my life. I put a lot of miles on it, but it was beloved. Two, even though I loved my CR-V, I thought I was certain about what my next car would be – a Toyota Highlander. Enter the chance to get a new car, albeit sooner than planned, but nevertheless, a the opportunity was there.

But guess what? I ended up buying the exact same car. Why I bothered test driving a second Highlander after I spent the first test drive comparing it to the CR-V and telling the salesman all the ways the CR-V was better is still beyond me. We’ll blame it on being way overwhelmed that week. I ended up being so confident in purchasing another Honda CR-V that the sales guy actually asked me if I was sent from Honda Corporate to educate them on why people should buy the car.

God used this car buying experience to guide me in learning how to be content with what He’s given me.

I’m capable of doing even what scares me. I always assumed that the next time I bought a car, I’d be married. You know what they say about assumptions. But here’s the thing, it all happened so quickly that I didn’t have time to wallow in my timeline being so different than everyone else’s or cry about singleness. I simply kept moving forward.

I handled the car insurance claim and got my rental car covered for a couple of extra days, simply because I asked.

I called car dealerships, explained my situation and asked to test drive cars.

I made a chart to calculate what the difference in cost in gas would be in the Highlander vs. the CR-V over the course of a year.

I negotiated monthly car payments based on what my budget told me I could afford.

I navigated the GAP insurance process, which is exactly what I wanted to do after my first insurance claim was closed, was to open another one. 

And I did it all by myself. Maybe because I’m a little bit stubborn, but also because as I kept getting things done, I realized I was more than capable of doing the next thing, too.

I surely don’t want another car I drive to ever be totaled, but I am so thankful for the unexpected lessons learned along the way. God doesn’t waste our experiences, not for one moment.

Leaning Into the “More”

I spend a lot of my days wondering if there’s more to be had. More than my daily and weekly routines. More chances to advocate. More meaningful relationships. More opportunities to usher in the Kingdom come. Deeper community with my people. More ways to serve. More ways to grow or live into my calling.

Maybe it’s the dreamer in me who can’t be fully satisfied in what today has to offer.

Maybe it’s the encourager in me who wants to coax everyone to a more connected, meaningful life.

Maybe it’s wanderlust or discontentment or just plain desire.

Whatever it is, instead of running from it, I want to lean into it, and see it as a growth opportunity. I’m a little bit afraid that if I ignore the push towards more, I’ll become numb to it. It’s one thing to say I want to lean in, and take the opportunity to grow, but it’s another to actually do it. The feelings themselves can feel overwhelming if I don’t have some direction to give them.

So, I’ve stolen some questions from leaders over time to guide reflection and hopefully lead me to a more meaningful life. It may be helpful to pause right here and say, I don’t believe that a more meaningful life need to be a fuller, bigger, busier life. If anything, I believe the opposite. I believe that it’s our everyday, ordinary lives where the goodness lives, but that if we’re not careful, we can live on autopilot and forget the abundance that surrounds us.

I recently finished reading Ann Voskamp’s The Broken Way, and I loved parts and skimmed other parts. I did end the book hanging onto this quote, “What if living the abundant life isn’t about having better stories to share but about living a story that that lets others live better? What if the goal isn’t to experience more of the world but for more of the world to experience more?” I just keep saying, “YES!” I want to help others find their more in Jesus! I don’t want to live the abundant life if my friends, neighbors and people across the globe can’t have it too. So here’s where I starting with myself and with those who are closest to me. (Sorry in advance for those who will hear these questions from me this year.)

These questions may lead to a 180 degree turn, but more likely, and it’s my hope that they’ll lead you (and me) deeper into who you are and who God has created you to be.

What words do you want people to use to describe you?

If these aren’t words you would use to describe yourself now, what has to change?

What breaks your heart?

What are you doing about it?

When do you feel most like yourself?

What are you most passionate about? If this question is hard to answer, think about the last time you got excited about something or couldn’t stop talking – that’s usually an indication that you’re passionate about it.

What are some tangible steps you can take to make the most of your one life?

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2017 – Create

Have you ever tried to update something that was already good? Maybe it was a habit. Or a recipe. Or a friendship.

For me, making something good even better is possibly one of the hardest things.

As 2017 settles in, we’ve been updating some documents and marketing materials in our office. My boss and I have looked at each other many times at a loss for how to make it better. Because it was already good.

So, several times in the last week, we’ve made a radical decision. We’ve grabbed blank pieces of paper and started new.

It’s made all the difference.

My word for 2017 is create, rooted in Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created…” To be made in the image of God is to reflect His creativity. To create habits, relationships and products that give glory to a Creator God.

Last year was full of so much good for me. But, as I reflect, i’m realizing how much it was also full of grief. Not of a person or even of a relationships, but of my life looking like everyone else’s.

Before you tell me how good I have it, or how much I have to be thankful for, or that I’m still young, please hear me say, “I know.”

I know that the relationships and experiences I have are only because of a faithful, all knowing God. But remember that just as the Christian life is rooted in contentment and gratitude, it’s also rooted in longing.

I sobbed guilty tears in 2016 because I couldn’t understand why in the midst of all the good, it didn’t always feel “right.” I’d guess that I wasn’t the only one.

Maybe it was influenced by weddings and houses and babies, but I also think it’s the reality of the Christian life. The world is not as it should be, and we feel it every day. Some days it’s a dull ache. Other days it’s an aching pain. It’s always going to be there to some degree, some seasons more than others. It’s a mark of the Christian life to long for the Kingdom come.

As the year has started, I’ve found myself thinking about Psalm 51, too, when David after he blows it big time – by committing adultery and then having the husband murdered – says, “Create a pure heart in me, O LORD…” I’m reminded in both Psalm 51 and Genesis 1 that it’s God who does the creating. From either nothing or something in desperate need or renewal, it’s God who does the work.

So as 2017 begins, I’m thinking of that blank piece of paper. And it’s overwhelming to be honest. A blank piece of paper doesn’t have structure or words or even a story yet. I’ve had to fight the urge to create the same thing, just changing a couple words and updating the photos. Fighting for something brand new though, it’s worth the effort. 

I’ll keep thinking of that blank piece of paper. I’ll think of a Creator God who made something out of nothing. I’ll think of what it means to create a life in the midst of the longing.

I can’t create a life based on someone else’s.

I can’t create a life based on how it is, and then alter it to make it how I want it to be.

I have to start new. I have to let God create in and through me.