Friday Favorites!

It’s Friday. More specifically, it’s the first official Friday of summer! It’s my favorite time of the year! In honor of Friday and summer, I’m sharing some of my current favorite things!

Trader Joe’s Shave Cream: Who knew that some of my best finds at Trader Joe’s wouldn’t be food, but would be toiletries. I thought that I hit the jackpot with their tea tree oil, but then last summer I tried the shave cream so that I didn’t have to make another stop at Target, and I realized how amazing it was! It keeps my legs moisturized and skin so soft during the summer when I basically live in dresses.

Books: So much reading, which is probably why I haven’t been writing. I recently finished You Lost Me and Divine Direction, and now I’m working through When Your Twenties Are Darker Than You Expected. While the topics are very different, I recommend each of the books. I’m excited to keep reading and learning from other books this summer, too. If you’re looking for a Bible Study, I strongly recommend Jen Wilkin’s 1 Peter study. It’s kicking my butt in the best way possible.

Desert Song by Hillsong: This song is my jam right now. The lyrics make my heart happy. They’ve become my prayer. I put it on repeat after long days.

San Pellegrino: I’ll be the first to admit that the flavored San Pellegrinos have a lot of sugar, but they are so yummy. They’re like the perfect porch sitting drink (with or without tequila). The blood orange is my favorite, but I also like the lemonade ones.

Starburst Minis: I wish I could tell you that I was eating lots of fruit, and I am (I ate a whole pineapple on Sunday), but I’d be lying if I left out how much fruity candy I’ve also been eating. Namely, Starburst Minis. They’re the BEST road trip snacks. The pink ones are my favorites, I save them for last.

02E0BB18-54B6-464E-A0F4-E9924B04C680

Younique’s Sunless Tanning Spray: I couldn’t get through the list without mentioning one Younique product. #sorrynotsorry Since I spend my days inside, but want to look nice and tan, I’ve had to seek out ways to get a tan. This easy breezy spray lasts almost a week and I can apply one or two coats, depending on how tan I want to be. The best part? It’s $25! Way cheaper than multiple spray tans. (Picture on the left is pre-tanning spray, and picture on the right is after two applications.)

As much as I’m loving all these things, I’m struggling with clothes this summer. The tops are too short (seriously, who decided that crop tops are cool again) and the off the shoulder tops look cute, but are annoying and not realistic for work. The inexpensive stuff seems so cheap and the nicer stuff feels like too much of an investment. I haven’t returned so many items of clothing in one month probably ever. It’s been a struggle. Do you have clothing suggestions?

What are your Friday favorites this summer?

Platforms vs. Influence

I used to think I wanted a platform. In fact, I spent a lot of time dreaming about my platform.

I wrote blog posts. I thought about all the future books I could write. I dreamed about what I could wear. I fixated on what my platform could look like, if only…

It’s that if only that started to kill me. If only I was married to someone whose salary could pay the bills for me to focus on building my platform every day. If only I knew people who knew people who could help me be seen so my platform could be a little bit higher. If only I had more experiences to write about. If only I had a little bit more discipline to actually work on the platform I thought I so desperately wanted.

This year, I decided to stop waiting for my life to be more interesting, for me to be a more disciplined writer and for more flexibility. I paid better attention to what brought me life, energy and excitement.

Yes, podiums are an amazing place of proclamation. Books have a farther reach than I could wrap my mind around. But, as I listened to the whisper of my heart, I started to understand that I did my best work across a table from someone. You can’t look someone in the eyes across the pages. You certainly can’t reach for someone’s hand from a podium. I started to wonder if I really wanted that platform. And if I didn’t what a platform, what did I want?

Maybe what I really desired was influence.

I wanted to influence people for Christ. I wanted them to see that Jesus had called them to live an abundant life, and to help them move towards that. I wanted to see women break out of bad routines, patterns and thought processes, and be able to flourish.

The more I thought about it, I realized that I already had influence. I just had to make the most of it.

I could do that in my right-now life. The if only’s started to fade away. I didn’t need someone else’s salary, or even to be married. I didn’t to know the right people. I didn’t need more experiences. More discipline is always good, but once I was serving closer to my sweet spot, I also had more motivation. My current circumstances weren’t to be resented, but embraced.

My prayers changed from, “God, give me the opportunity to…” to “God, help me make the most of each of the opportunities I have.”

The irony is that new opportunities began to present themselves. Six weeks ago, my friend Kate and I led the first week of a 6-week Disciple-Making Training. We sat around her dining room table, surrounded by women, and our Bibles open. We shared our stories and talked about the Holy Spirit. After a brief activity, I lifted my eyes from right in front of me to across from me. I thanked God as the moment passed, remembering that around the table is where I feel most like myself.

I used to think that I needed a platform to have influence. But, what I’ve learned is that I have influence every single day. The real question is: what am I going to do with it? 

Four Years Later

When I graduated from college four years ago, I felt a little bit lost. Okay, more than a little bit. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was in a holding pattern, ready for someone to invite me into the illusive adulthood club that I was both desperate and not at all interested in joining. I wanted to get started with whatever came next, but I couldn’t figure out what that was, or what steps to take. Thanks to some great friends and a lot of grace, I fumbled my way through those first couple months and years.

The girl who graduated from Indiana University in the spring of 2013 isn’t around anymore, but if I could, I’d give her some advice. First I’d lift her chin, look her in the eyes, wipe her tears and tell her that it was going to get better. Not just okay, but life would be good, again. I’d also tell her that she would feel like herself again. I’d tell her to be so patient with her heart, and to lean into the broken and uncertain because she’d meet Jesus there over and over again. This would probably make her cry because she would desperately want to believe me, but she was also guarded and uncertain.

After I told her that I was proud of her, I’d give her some practical ideas for the next couple of years of her life. Four years later, that twenty-two year old is now twenty-six; she’s got different hopes and fears. While those four years have been full of hard, they’ve also been full of growth. That twenty-six year old doesn’t have it figured out, but she does have some ideas that helped her step into adulthood. Since I can’t share them with my twenty-two year old self, I’ll share them with you instead.

Join a local church and develop multi-generational friendships. I wish I had a secret about how to find a local church, but all I can say is, “Resist the urge to find a perfect church.” Preaching matters, so does theology, and worship is important, too. But you wouldn’t find a perfect church; instead find a good fit; find someplace you can belong. Once you decide on a church, find ways to get involved – serve in children’s ministry, volunteer as a babysitter, join a small group.

Buy a book shelf and learn to love to read. I know, I know, post-college is the first time that you’re not forced to read. But reading is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to learn new things and experience the world beyond yourself. Unless you’re headed back to graduate school immediately, embracing reading can give you the opportunity to continue learning and exploring.

Learn to meal plan and grocery shop. Once you have a couple go-to meals, you’ll find yourself eating out less and experimenting more in the kitchen. Instead of going out to dinner with friends, invite them into your home and cook for them. Your wallet and your relationships will thank you. If you’re eating healthier, you may also find that you want to work-out more frequently – good for you! I’m a BIG fan of the Y, most cities have them and their costs are pretty low, but there are many other gym options including activities that are more like hobbies – crossfit, Orange Theory, Purre Barre and others.

Create a budget and start saving. There are hundreds or even thousands of books and philosophies and blogs about creating a budget. Pin one budget related thing on Pinterest and watch what happens. But the best place to start is by tracking your spending. Once you’ve done that, look back and reflect on where your money is going. Are there patterns? Do you feel like your budget is reflective of your priorities? If not, you can fix it. I promise you. Start saving right away. Have a portion of each payment (even if it’s $50) automatically transferred to your savings account on pay day. Take advantage of any 401K matching that your company does. If creating a budget is overwhelming to you, reach out to one of the elders or pastors at your church or even one of your parents. If they’re not able to sit down and help you, they’ll be able to direct you to someone who can. If you haven’t realized it by now, the habits you develop in your 20’s will carry on for the rest of your life. Make good financial decisions now and you’ll see the benefits later. 

Collect experiences, not stuff. Having a paycheck from working a full-time job is a dangerous thing, if you’re not careful. You’ll be able to justify all the spending in all the world. “I work hard.” “I deserve this.” “I need this.” But here’s a secret: stuff isn’t going to make you happy. Instead of buying another sweater or a fifth pair of flip flops, make a bucket list and start saving towards experiences. A couple of years down the road, you’ll be way more excited about the places you traveled and the memories you’ve made than having another dress that you don’t even wear anymore.

Prioritize the person you want to be instead of focusing on finding who you want to marry. There are many ways to do this, but one easy way to make a list of adjectives you want to be true of you and identify what needs to change. Know your strengths, weaknesses and what breaks your heart, and engage in these things. You may get married in your early 20’s, but you may not. Most of that is actually out of your control, and that’s okay. Use your singleness and this post-graduate season to invest in yourself. Knowing yourself and the gifts you bring to the table will set you up for long-term success.

If you’re a recent college graduate or a 20-something who is floundering, hear me when I say, “You’re not the only one. I promise.” Not only does it get better, it gets good, really, really good. Lean in, friend. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. Don’t wish away the hard because it’s going to shape you into a new you, a you that you’ll end up really liking.

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!