Dec 31, 2011

Nice to Meet You 2012...

So, while I have always said I do not typically make new years resolutions (if you need a resolution.. do it now.. today.. don't wait for a fake time to start one), last year I had a couple, that I am proud to say I accomplished! I wanted to blog more (check!) and I wanted to get in better shape.. (double check!)

Typically I have feelings about the year to come.. a lot of hopes.. but often times my feelings are fairly accurate about what is to come. Now, I do not mean specifics or situations.. I literally mean feelings. What is interesting to me is I do not have ANY real feelings or direction for 2012.. Other than it being pretty apparent this next year is going to be... different than what I have been experiencing lately (last couple years), I realistically have no idea what to expect from the next year. You see, it is not that I feel like God has me in a fog so I CANNOT see what is coming... but, much more that God literally is just asking me to be in the here and now... and take things as they come.

Which leads me to my New Years Resolutions... I would like to continue the 2011 resolutions.. get/stay in shape, and blog as many days a week as I can. It is really nice to have this running history, especially since I have now been blogging for several years.

Ok, so, this year I want to really focus on being in the here and now.. I do not want to worry about tomorrow nor borrow tomorrow's trouble today (yup, I said the same thing two different ways..).

I want to exercise more compassion, grace, mercy, and love than I have in years past.

I want to diligently complete the next year of my double masters program, which will mean I will have one or two classes left at the end of 2012.

I want to work better at controlling my mouth.

And, I want to draw closer to my sweet savior Jesus Christ, and I want to learn more about who He is, and subsequently who I am supposed to be... I want to learn how to love people on behalf of him better this year... 2011 was a year that caused me to struggle with this more than I am ok with, I want 2012 to be better.

So, those are my "New Years Resolutions"... Not your typical resolutions, but that is sorta how I roll... Now to pray them into existence!

Dec 30, 2011

Something New...

I have had an interesting few weeks, I have been experiencing and walking through, and into some new situations and feelings, and it has brought on some new thoughts and revelations about myself.

Typically, I am a very confident and self assured person. I know who I am and what I believe in when it comes to most any area of myself or my life. However, there are a few circumstances (ok maybe just one) where I begin to allow doubts to creep in.. in fact, it is less that I allow it and more that the devil and I have our own special code for what I should feel or think.. or in reality doubt about myself. I have found myself in that situation again recently, but this time it has caused different reactions or responses than what I have experienced in the past. For example, while all the emotions are still there, the freak outs are very minimal because I have very little guessing to do which keeps my mind from running away like a crazy person... I am finding that I am getting the chance to process through things before I need to react, and thankfully, I have begun to realize where some of my emotions or fears have come from.. which allows me the chance to work through them instead of merely ignore them, only to then have to deal with them at a later inconvenient date.

I have had a few revelations.. or things told to me recently, some of which I know, but often forget, and others I have simply not every considered before. For example, it was brought to my attention that I am of "amazing" character, morals, convictions, care, and love.. (aww thank you) and then it was pointed out that this person thinks part of the reason I am still single has more to do with how intimidating my stance on me not having sex before marriage is to the guys who pursue me... It was an interesting thought that I had never really considered before.. Not that it changes anything, but is just something I had never thought of... Thankfully the person who told me also affirmed their respect and admiration for my position on it, which meant I was not confused about their position or reason for telling me...

I also have realized lately how much I am used to taking care of myself.. I mean, I know that being single sort of brings with it a level of self-centeredness and independence (neither of which are necessarily bad things, but more just a byproduct of not having to run things by someone else). In the process of realizing my natural tendency towards taking care of myself, I realized how much of a struggle.. and I mean legitimate struggle it is for me to let someone else take care of me.. I almost view it as my responsibility to take care of others, not let them take care of me... That's been an interesting thing to learn, and try and walk through.. Graciously.

In addition, I have begun to really process through some of my fears and some of the things that have happened to me in the past. Ways I have been hurt, ways I made poor decisions that lead to additional pain, and ways that I had no idea situations affected me until I had an emotional reaction about them later. It is incredibly interesting to discover things about yourself that you just had no idea existed until the emotions take over.. it is very humbling and difficult to acknowledge.

What I do know at this point is there are new things in my life that are good things, but not easy things that will prove to force me to grow in ways I have never had to before. Should be interesting...

Dec 29, 2011

Christmas 2011...

Christmas at home was wonderful.. I got to snuggle with my three favorite midget people.. I got sooo many hugs, laughed so much, and got to have some really great conversations with so many people I love about topics I am passionate about.

So, here are a few highlights from my Christmas time at home 2011 style...

Three little munchkin faces light up my life unlike anything else in the entire world.

My sister and I had a FANTASTIC talk about God, Africa, our worldviews, what does it look like or mean to judge others, and how loving others as a way of life affects everything and is really challenging.. It was a fantastic conversation :)

I got to talk with my mom and sister about life.. just things going on, what I am thinking, things that I working through or struggling with.. Loved it.

I got to see a dear beautiful friend and my cousin and we had the chance to talk for hours over coffee (or hot chocolate) about relationships, the good, the bad, the ugly... and the confusing...

We played a hysterical game of pictionary/telephone (Scribblish) and we all just laughed at each other and the ridiculousness that people would interpret or draw... It was a lot of fun.

I loved getting the chance to talk with my mom, brother, sister in law, and sister about things that our family has been through and hearing each of our perspectives on any given situation. It was really neat to hear about the different things.. Especially since I spent most of that conversation with my niece cuddled in my lap.

We watched several moves (all of which I have seen before) but I got to cuddle with my sister and make comments throughout the movies... While my youngest nephew would come, bring his dart gun, and "fix it" so he could go shoot someone over.. and over.. and over..

At the Christmas Eve get together I got to talk and give special undivided (ok mostly undivided) attention to each family member that I really do not get to see much.

I got to spend most of one of the days with my absolute longest friend in the entire world to celebrate her birthday, and we just had fun talking and catching up.

And then, of course, there is the epic family Christmas present opening marathon that my family loves so much.

It was a great break, it was so nice to be home and see everyone. Love. My. Family.

Dec 22, 2011

Hello, Good-Bye 2011...

I really love keeping a blog, I enjoy the outlet it gives me to speak my mind, the comfort it offers in getting out the thoughts that are both dear to my heart or frivolously in my head. I made a serious concerted effort this year to blog 4-6 days a week, and for the most part, I am surprised to say I have kept that up.. Not perfectly, and sometimes only because I almost always have my phone in tow and shared pictures of my travels throughout the summer.

However, I have two favorite posts that I have posted annually, the first one looks back on the year and the second one looks forward at the next year. In preparation to write this year's 2011 review I went back and looked at the 2010 look back, and the 2011 look forward. These two blogs really serve as a perfect little reminder of where I am and where I want to be going... Plus, it allows me the chance to update on the goals I had for this year. Christmas just always proves to be one of the best and most memorable times to review and take an internal check so that I can then move forward next year.

So, as always, this year in review will likely be a fairly long post, and while I almost never review the year the same as I have in the past, it remains my favorite post to make each year.

January
The year started off surrounded by so many wonderful people in my fairly new house. Two of my best friends got engaged (to each other) seconds after the 2011 ball dropped, which commenced all of us into seven months of wedding planning and excitement (more on their wedding later).

We got our fifth and final roomie (for a while), and we welcomed into our lives a wonderful and incredibly broken person. Another roomie and I began having serious issues, and as much as I tried, I could not seem to communicate in a manner that helped either one of us... And, eventually the relationship sadly dwindled into co-existence at best.

I began another difficult class in my double masters program, and proceeded to sit on the couch for hours every night having near melt downs trying to understand finance...

My very best friend in the whole world got married in Georgia, and I was so thrilled and honored to stand up in her wedding with eight other beautiful girls and nine great guys. It was a fantastic trip down, and a great celebration!

I joined a gym, and ended up signing up for what turned into five months of personal training sessions twice a week. I looked forward to and loved these couple hours a week because the trainer was a great match to my skill, passion for martial arts, humor, and he improved my body in ways I was unsure could happen... Well worth the money for the time period I was in and how I was feeling.

My birthday... dun. dun. dun. Was actually amazing this year. (whew!) I have had so many issues with my birthday over the  years that this year I was just too scared to hope for anything good, and just decided I wanted one thing. For one of my best friends to come and stay the weekend with me. She surprised me (by showing up late.. haha) with two more girl friends that I love to death sitting on my couch when I got home from dinner.. Which, because of the stress level I was under, I began to tear up just seeing and hugging them.. I then turned around to another friend creeping across the living room, which of course sent me into more tears being just so excited that he too was there... THEN, I was tapped on the shoulder, turned around to find my little brother holding a dozen roses (hands down my favorite birthday gift every year are these roses from my brothers). I just stood there dumbfounded and silent, then finally blurted out "Why are you here?!" then proceeded to hug the life out of him.. and SOB. As in, I could not breathe, I could not talk, I could not see.. I just sobbed and hugged my brother while everyone laughed at my reaction. THEN, the next day my friend/sister/old roomie showed up with cake and two more of my good friends.. and we proceeded to have a perfect weekend around DC exploring the Spy museum and getting Thai food. It was perfect, and I was reminded I am loved.

The day after my birthday we had 30 (or so) people laid-off from my workplace...

February
February is a bit of a blur, I mostly just remember hating life, arguing with one of my roomies a lot, sitting on the couch under blankets, and trying to understand my homework.

I also really remember struggling with my job situation and being totally and completely unhappy.

 But, the most overwhelming thing I remember from February are the feelings of total despair, being stuck, miserable, and totally feeling forgotten and unimportant. I literally remember feeling like I was not myself, but having no idea how to FIND myself again.

March
The most significant thing that happened in March was an out of the blue friend was made from reading my blog. I have no idea why or how she found me, but we began e-mailing several times a week about life, Jesus, pain, hurt, brokenness, Christianity, Christians, etc.. I was totally unsure how to handle the situations she presented me with, but what did end up coming from it was a lot of prayer on my part for her. I was amazed at the honesty she had when talking to me about her life and situations she has been in. I was humbled by the trust she had in me and broken for her and her situation. (I have not heard from her much in the last several months, but I still pray for her, her salvation, and that Jesus would do, what Jesus does in her life.)

I spent a great deal of March trying to figure out how I fit in the DC area. I did not like DC, I did not like my life here, and I really did not like that I felt stuck here. I had little to no friends, and had even fewer people who understood me.

I continued to hate my online class and felt more and more belittled and frustrated at work.

The biggest feelings I have from March are that of feeling unsafe and like the best I had to offer was to "keep it together."

April
April brought my best friend and his wife to visit for our annual Easter weekend together. I needed them more than I think they will ever understand. They understand me, they laugh with and at me, and more than anything, their friendship is solid no matter where we are in life. We had a great weekend in DC, we even went roller blading (old school I know, but it is our thing!).

April also brought with it an acute understanding that I was missing my Savior at my very core. I knew something was missing, I knew I felt lost, and I also knew I had no idea what to do. I felt empty and broken, and felt like I was completely directionless.

What I do remember though on a positive note is how pretty DC is in the spring. The flowers, trees, warm breeze.. it was truly beautiful and I finally found something I enjoyed about living here!

April also kick-started my insanely hectic always busy weekend summer schedule.

May
May brought a lot of wedding showers.. Several friends were getting married, so I traveled to and from Lynchburg a lot in order to feel like I was much more a part of something than I actually was.

I realized in May that I truly was beginning to hate my job because of a couple particularly challenging individuals, and I really was struggling with the Lord on my attitude towards my job and the people causing the issues. I also began seriously searching for a new job...

I spent most of May exhausted. I had almost every moment of every day for the entire month planned out, down to how long it took me to get places. It was all rather ridiculous really... But, the busyness allowed me to fake ok. It is easier for me to fake that I am ok because I was so busy every "not ok" moment can be blamed on exhaustion and not getting enough sleep, and then anything that did not fall under that category could be lumped in with the stress of school and being incredibly busy at work...

I hid my heart and refused to acknowledge the pain going on at my core to anyone else for the entire month.

June
One of our roomies moved out, and another one replaced her. It was both sad and exciting at the same time.

I went home for the first time since Christmas to surprise my brother for his birthday, loved being home and seeing everyone, and it gave me a good reprieve from not feeling like I belonged or fit anywhere.

I left from MI back to DC for a night, then down to FL for a week-long annual convention for work. I spent the better part of the entire month traveling, I acquired a cough I could not get rid of, and spent the majority of my time doing homework in the hammock we had set up in our backyard... I am pretty sure that hammock saved my life this summer haha :)

I had more wedding showers and more traveling back down to Lynchburg, and I honestly have no idea how I found the time to do my homework.. much less understand and pass the class...

I spent a great deal of June trying to do an internal check and figure out what I needed to do to make my life "ok" again. At this point I really realized how much I disliked my life, and I knew I needed to make a change, and I knew a lot of it was that I was not willing to humble myself enough to talk to my Savior about the things really bothering me.. So, God and I began having some pretty serious "what the hell" conversations.. It was actually quite liberating to know He was listening to me spout off like a little child, and that He still cared and loved me..

Also, while this is my first mention of it in this post, I L.O.V.E. my church, and throughout the whole year they really were the one lighthouse that I had. Over the summer, they did a series called the God Anthology, they picked and talked about nine attributes of God. While I was crazy busy, my church remained the one thing about DC I loved and was (and still am) unsure I ever wanted to give up...

The one thing that began to offer some genuine reprieve that I did not even know I needed was having a friend from Lynchburg move to DC. While we were in the same group of friends there, we were not super close.. But she has become such a God send to me. Her friendship, loyalty, humor, adventurous spirit, and level headedness... as well as her love for fun and doing things has been exactly what I did not even know I needed.

July
The two best friends that got engaged on New Years got married over the 4th of July weekend. It was a pretty epic weekend.. One that included a lake day, 11 other bridesmaids, 12 groomsmen, several flower girls and ring bearers, three pastors, and a sneak attack surprise of chucks shoes for the dance off at the reception... I got to see so many old friends, meet new ones, and party like crazy celebrating the union of two of my best friends! It was a pretty epic and fantastic wedding weekend :)

It was about this point in the year that I finally began realizing I (while crazy busy) was finding my place in DC. I did not particularly like most of the things going on, and it was not my ideal, but I was able to say that I had friends and that maybe I was making a life here after all... With the exception of the fact that I was still job hunting... and still really wanting to move to Atlanta...

I also realized in July exactly how stressed out I was... So, I took a couple day trips or mornings to relax.. I really thought a couple times I was going to lose it on some poor unsuspecting soul...

I had a period of time in July where it seemed that my virginity came up over and over in almost any situation. I found the conversation empowering and very intriguing as well. I was quite surprised by the interest others had in my choice to remain a virgin until I get married... the reactions were.. priceless and pretty much spanned the gambit. Some were not surprised in the slightest, some thought it was purely accidental, others were completely blown away because apparently I do not seem "the type." However, it really caused me to begin looking at those areas of my life and realize that not only am I not ashamed or embarrassed by them in the slightest, I am very thankful and proud that God and I have this story together.. and that I have the boldness to talk about it with others, and explain eloquently why I am still a virgin.

August
I went home in the beginning of August to help plan and celebrate my parent's 30th wedding anniversary, and it was awesome. We had a blast, and I was reminded once again how absolutely amazing my family is. I am always amazed at how close we are and how much we all genuinely LOVE to be around each other, joking, laughing, reading, talking, watching movies.. whatever.. we love it.

I also went with one of my friends to the Bachata congress here in DC, and we had SO much fun. We were so sore, tired, and our poor feet suffered greatly, but overall it was a fantastic experience, and one that helped me learn so much more about dancing, and helped renew my love for it.

In August we also had an Earthquake in DC (which you can see the destruction my place suffered here), and a hurricane... although I left to visit my best friend and her husband during the hurricane, and helped them move.. It was a long and tiring weekend, but I loved every minute of it because I was with them!

I could tell by the end of August I was really getting antsy for life to FEEL normal. I wanted to feel like I belonged, like God and I were close again, like I was important, like I had value to offer, and I longed to enjoy my job once again...

September
I spent the first half of September really evaluating where I was, and really ready inside to take a moment and breathe. I felt like I was drowning and like nothing anyone said was relieving my stress.

Thankfully I had a free airplane ticket to use and some extra time off, so I peaced out to California to see my cousin. We spent four days in southern California doing whatever we pleased to celebrate her 3rd anniversary (even though her husband was deployed at the time). We laid on the beach, played in the VERY cold water, got pedicures, ate amazing food, walked down the beach, took paddle boarding lessons, made amazing homemade food, and watched movies.. not to mention talked and laughed for all four days. It was during that break that I FINALLY felt something break. It was like God had released the pressure valve on my stress level and I could finally think, feel, and process clearly. I felt content inside my soul once again... I had almost forgotten what that felt like.

We also celebrated the 10th anniversary (has it REALLY been that long?!) of the 9/11 terrorist attacks...

I was reminded during September how much I am loved, and for whatever reason I was finally able to start understanding it deep down.. I am surrounded by friends who love me and send flowers just because they knew I was having a rough week..

October
I finally knew what contentment felt like, and it was like a dew kissed morning.

I became debt free except for my student loans in October, and the new found freedom is awesome!

The biggest thing I remember from October is feeling like I finally found my groove. I finally felt like I was BUILDING a life.. and while I was not too thrilled with certain situations with work or school still, I had peace once more, and knew I was going to be ok.

I made the decision to sign the lease at the end of the month, which essentially meant I was committing to another year here in DC... I was a little worried I was making a mistake, but knew I needed to make a choice regardless and let God do his thing and figure out what was going to happen.

I also ran my first 10k.. and I RAN the whole thing.. the furthest I have ever run.. in my ENTIRE life.. I was pretty stoked.. then I walked like an 85 year old man for several days haha!

November
November seemed like it FLEW by to me. I am not entirely sure where the month went..

I think the most unique thing about November for me was all of the things that felt like they began settling into place. For starters, it went down in record as the longest I had lived in one place for the last nine years (whoa!). I had not realized how transient my life was, and how almost bizarre it felt to live in the SAME place not having to pack up or move anywhere... Such a unique feeling.

I was able to reconnect with an old friend from Freshman year of college, and it has become such a welcome surprise and rekindling of a friendship.

I cooked my first Thanksgiving dinner with the help of a friend... and it wasn't easy, but we had fun and only had a few minor mishaps..

I began reading and finished reading Start Something That Matters by Blake Mycoskie (the founder of TOMS Shoes) and was incredibly inspired...

Work became suddenly significantly easier and less stress filled due to staffing changes, it was almost a visible change in my stress level and it could not have come at a more perfect time. This made it easier to decide that I can stay where I am until God really moves me elsewhere...

Overall it was a good month, not void of frustrations or annoyances, but definitely one of the best months I have had in around a year in a half...

I also met a guy through a mutual friend that I have been on a few dates with, he has proven to be much nicer than I am used to in the men I typically date. I have absolutely no idea where it is going, but after a few (somewhat minor) freak outs I have settled into trusting that God knows what He is doing and walking through this door and seeing what happens.

December
I cannot believe December is almost over... Where did this year go? The most challenging thing about this year is there were so many reoccurring feelings and frustrations that it makes the entire year blend into itself...

This month I have spent a great deal of time feeling like life is normal.. Well normal aside from trying to figure out if I like this guy while at the same time understanding that the emotions do not accurately reflect reality and just enjoying it is really the key.

What I do know is that the Lord and I are reconnecting.. Prayer comes easier again, and just sitting and being with my Savior is something I am enjoying again.

2011
Hands down of the most stressful and pressure filled years I have ever had... While I would NEVER.. ever choose to re-live this year, I can honestly say I am so thankful to have been through this year and survived. I learned so many things about prayer, stress, pressure, friends, and know without any shadow of a doubt that patience was created and increased ten fold in my life this year.

While this is a gross exaggeration of what has happened this year, I feel like Job at the end of his book in the Bible, an overwhelming sense of peace and an acute awareness of the blessings in my life.

Please Lord, do not ever make me repeat this year, but thank you for all the times you carried me and comforted me while I struggled. Thank you for proving once again you are faithful and that no matter where I am, what I am going through or who I am dealing with you not only care, but you hear me when I talk to you. Thank you for giving me the chance to learn and for putting the people in my life I needed to survive. Thank you for teaching me another thing or two about humility and compassion, and for growing my heart for the lost and broken.

I have no idea what to expect for the next year, I would love for it to be a fantastic year, but I have no sense of what is to come at all. But, what I do know is, if the last couple years are any indication, it is going to be a very... interesting year!

Dec 21, 2011

Uncle Mark...

Six years ago about this time I was out Christmas shopping to help distract my roomie who's uncle had committed suicide. I was a junior in college and home on break. While we were out shopping my dad called and told me that he needed to talk to me, and wanted to know where I was and if someone was with me. I knew instantly something was terribly wrong.. and true to form I always assume the worst. However, this time, the worst wasn't even close to what I had imagined. My dad began explaining what little information he knew, which was about the sum total that my uncle (his little brother) had committed suicide by hanging himself on a door knob.

... and then I just remember wandering aimlessly around the mall not really hearing him as he explained what little information he knew at the time. I remember hanging up and calling one of my best friends from college and telling him what had happened and while I do not really remember what he said, I remember him sitting in silence with me on the phone for what seemed like a very long time as I continued to wander and tell him I didn't understand and I couldn't believe it...

Why would my uncle do this? Didn't he know how much we all needed and loved him?.. How much I needed and loved him? How could he be THAT stubborn?.. How could he be that depressed? How could he do this to us?.. To me?.. Didn't he know he was my favorite uncle? No, there must be some mistake, the uncle Mark I knew would never do that... There is no way he did this DAYS before Christmas.. Didn't he know he has three small boys that need him!?.. Didn't he know I was almost done with a degree he talked me into at 15?!.. How?... Why?.. What was he thinking?..

The thoughts were incessant for days...

I cried a lot the next few days...

One of my most vivid memories from the viewing and funeral was a moment that I had snuck away to cry again. I needed a moment to cry and I was trying as hard as I could to not cry in front of the family... We didn't need more tears. I was sitting down a side hallway at the church and I heard someone coming, knowing they were looking for me I began to compose myself.. Only to discover it was my older brother. He got it. He knew how I was feeling. We shared so many of the same memories of playing with our beloved uncle. We shared so many laughs with our uncle Mark, the same schemes we had pulled off, the play fights, and the long talks... My brother came to find me when he saw me missing, and knew instantly that I needed him. I remember walking up to him with tears in both of our eyes and him just saying "I know..." and we hugged while we both cried.

I don't remember the last time I saw my uncle. I was in college, back and forth between school and home, and summer camps... I have no idea what the last thing I said to him was...

I miss him all the time, and it took me months before I could even think about him without crying.

It was made worse the following December when a good friend of mine was hit and killed by a car during exam week of my Senior year. That death marked the third death in a row during the Christmas season I had experienced, and I was beside myself with grief... making entirely new and raw the old wounds... It brought all of it back, the pain and grief...

My uncle struggled with a lot of things, a lot of issues... But, what I remember the most is how much I loved him, and knew he loved me. He called me "Sister Mister" for as long as I can remember with a particularly high octave voice that was not natural... He was the only close family member that did not forsake us when I was little, and he was the one that taught me to shoot guns, climb trees, play video games, and drive a stick shift truck (sorta haha)... He helped spark a love for the marital arts and learning to be stealthy in the woods.

He is the reason I went into communications as a major in college, and subsequently is the reason I am doing it still almost 12 years later.. He sold me on the concept, the idea, and the excitement it would have... He also talked me into taking scuba diving lesson when I was 14... haha

I remember always feeling special and treasured when he would come and whisk my brother and I away to go play or help him demolish the inside of his house... I can still hear his voice in my head, I can still see his face when we would light something on fire and it wouldn't go as planned and we would all scatter and laugh hoping grandma and grandpa didn't catch us... I miss his laugh... I miss his hugs and having to be alert just in case me made a swat towards my head that I needed to block or duck.

Suicide is never easy, but I literally have no idea how someone who does not believe in Christ gets through it.

I miss him a lot, and I cannot believe it has been six years.

Dec 20, 2011

Distractions...

Focus is something I am lacking as of late.

Maybe it has something to do with my new found (and despised) sleeping pattern, possibly because of a new relationship in my life... or maybe it has to do with the fact that I am heading to the mitten state soon to see my favorite little people and loved ones who fill my heart to overflowing..

Maybe it really is just that I have lacked discipline in my life lately and my body and mind are rebelling..

Whatever it is, I feel like focus is eluding me.

Dec 18, 2011

Re-Doing Church...

A friend on Facebook posted this not long ago, and I am really intrigued by this thought provoking sermon by Francis Chan. First, let me say, one of the biggest reasons I love Francis Chan's speaking is his humility. I appreciate his perspective on the Bible and on Christ and what it looks like to lead a Christian life. I do not pray for him as often as I should, but his ministry is amazing.

So, please watch, thoughts?


Not My Own...

Several weeks ago, Dick Foth spoke at my church for a two part series "Hallowed" which roughly means "Holy." He talked about the Lords prayer and just what exactly are we asking for when we say the Lords prayer. In case you have never heard it or just want a refresher:

"Our Father, who art in Heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy Kingdom Come,
Thy will be done on earth, as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
And, lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For thine is the Kingdom,
The power,
and the Glory,
For ever and ever.
Amen."

Even though this is old English, I still like this version the best.
There is a different cadence to it that I enjoy, which is ironic since I do not really like any other verses in old English.

One of the things that was pointed out was "Thy will be done.." and how even in the Garden of gesthemany where Jesus was crying, praying, and basically asking God to find another way to save us He essentially said "Thy will be done.."...

"...he fell with his face to the ground. He prayed, 'My Father, if it is possible, take this cup of suffering away from me. But let what you want be done, not what I want.'" -Matthew 26:39b

This has really been sticking with me lately after Dick Foth made mention of, how different would our lives and the lives of those around us look if more people said more often "... not my will, but yours..."

So, what if?.. What if I said that more times a day than I can count? How different would my life look if every prayer, everything ended with "but, not my own will, but yours be done here."? Would my life dramatically change?
I dunno, maybe.

Maybe I would stop stressing so much,
Maybe I would be less afraid of getting hurt again,
Maybe I would stop trying to keep everything together perfectly,
Maybe I would stop paying attention to the wrongs against me,
Maybe I would stop trying to control everything,
Maybe I would be more patient,
Maybe I would be more compassionate,
Maybe I would see someone else's hurt before my own,
Maybe I would be less selfish,
Maybe I would begin to be more fulfilled in every situation,
Maybe I would have more peace and contentment in my life,
Maybe I would hurt more because I was seeking God's will more,
Maybe my life would get harder,
Maybe I would cry more,
Maybe my heart would be broken more for what breaks God's,
Maybe I would get hurt more,
Maybe I would get my heart broken again,
Maybe I would love unabashedly,

Maybe more people would come to know Christ,
Maybe God would change the world with my life.

Lately I have been thinking a lot about this concept, and just working through the idea that I want to walk through any door and any path the Lord has put before me regardless of what is going on or the result.

This was aided by today's sermon by Mark Batterson about how sometimes God's plan does not make sense for 55-1500 years... He listed several stories in the Bible that the individuals would likely have said "thanks but no thanks" and would have chosen to write it differently, but that later, and sometimes 1500 years (and however many generations that is) later it all makes perfect beautiful sense as to why something happened the way it did. He also pointed out that when God does miracles, they never are convenient, and often really get in the way of life and our plans. Such an interesting thought.

Am I open to be inconvenienced for God?.. Gosh I hope so.

I guess I just feel like I am at this place right now where I know that some crazy things are coming around the corner, some probably scary, others exciting, likely some stressful things, and everything in between, but what I know above and beyond that is I desire God's will over my own. With Him directing and taking the lead I have no reason to fear...

Not my own, but yours my King.

Dec 17, 2011

Personal Christmas Traditions...

I have a method to the way I Christmas shop, it tends to be one of the last weekends before Christmas, I have a list for all 11 family members to help guide me and keep me from getting distracted or forgetting anyone (terrible.. but there's a lot of them!). I prefer to be shopping exclusively for Christmas, I do not like having other things on my list because it just ends up distracting me.. And finally, I always would rather go by myself, this allows me to get in and out or mosey as long as I want to at each store. I love it because I end up spending the entire day thinking about my family, what Christmas will be like, the possible reactions they will have, the gifts they will love or react to the most, the laughter that will go with the explinations as to why I bought something or the story behind the wrapping... Then, I get really excited to wrap all the gifts and make them look perfect.

I also prefer to go by myself because I get less impatient by all the people rushing to get in lines and the last of whatevers to get the best deals... I find my blood pressure is always lower when I am by myself, and I have the chance to smile and say excuse me over and over... It is Christmas after all, why be a jerk about anything?

Once I have everything bought, I love to take an evening to wrap everything at once.. It usually takes me several hours because I decorate each gift making it its own special brand of perfect. I tend to have themes, sometimes they are clearly Christmas, other times they are just festive, and still other times they resemble modern decoration more than anything else. Everything tends to match, and, while I am sure my family appreciates my effort, the reality is I enjoy spending the couple hours to do this more than I think any of them like getting perfectly wrapped gifts. For me the presentation and the "wow, that looks perfect" is part of the excitement of opening all the gifts..

Not to mention, with the size our family is quickly growing to it tends to look like our Christmas tree had a volcanic eruption of gifts and they have flowed beyond the base of the tree like lava... haha The gifts to and from everyone literally take up half the living room.

Merry Christmas! May you find the reason for the joy of this season, and the truth about the birth of a precious baby that we celebrate.


Dec 15, 2011

Internal Pause...

"Above everything else, guard your heart.
      It is where your life comes from." - Proverbs 4:23

 "And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." - Philippians 4:7

"He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake." - Psalm 23:3

"O God, restore us and cause Your face to shine upon us, and we will be saved."

"O God of hosts, restore us and cause Your face to shine upon us, and we will be saved" 

"O LORD God of hosts, restore us; Cause Your face to shine upon us, and we will be saved." - Psalm 80: 3, 7, 19 

"Keep me going as you have promised. 
Then I will live.
      Don't let me lose all hope." 
- Psalm 119:116

Dec 14, 2011

Practical and Efficient...

There is no doubt that I am a complete and total product of my environment. I am my mothers daughter, and practicality makes me happy. I am my fathers daughter with a propensity for efficient actions. I will choose both over most other things when it comes to what my preferences are.. even if in, order to have something be more practical or efficient means I will have to go out of my own way to accomplish those tasks.. I will choose it every time.

Today is not a day where I will be getting either practical or efficient in the way I desire.. and it is causing some serious annoyances in my outlook today. I know none of these things are a ultimately a big deal, and I know I will feel different in a few hours, but currently the lack of practicality and efficiency is on the verge of driving me bonkers... Awesome.

Dec 13, 2011

Connecting Again...

I have been doing a lot of praying lately about all sorts of things, friends, family, a wide variety of health, schooling, relationships, safety, salvation etc..etc.. I have really grown to love my getting ready for the day/bed time while I wash my face, do my hair, make up or brush my teeth because it gives me a chance to pick one or two of the things on my 3x5 prayer cards to focus on and really touch the face of God. While I pray throughout the day, I tend to view these 30 minutes to an hour a couple times a day, just before I fall asleep, and while I drive to or from work as real anchors in my talking moments with my sweet Savior.

I have felt a serious sense of connection once again to my sweet Jesus, partially because He clearly has overcome a lot of things in my life and it is fairly apparent we are on to new and as of yet unattained heights. But, with that comes a lot of prayer for relationships, not just mine, but also the ones my friends (or family) are in. Friendships, dating, engaged or married relationships, and just really asking that God take over and overwhelm their (and my) minds and hearts..

What is interesting to me is how much peace and contentment comes from these moments I am connecting with my Lord. I have no idea what is going on in the minds and hearts of a lot of my friends or family that I am praying for but, what I do know is everyone I know could use some additional prayers.. Including myself.

There are a lot of things going on that I did not see coming and certainly was not expecting, and since that just wreaks of a loss of control, I am slightly prone to freak mentally... Yet, in reality I know that freaking out does nothing to aid the situation.. And still, even in the midst, at my very core, at the center of my internal storms I know that my God is here, walking through and guiding me speaking words of "peace be still." I realized last week that no matter the outcomes of things going on in my life right now, I would always choose to walk through these doors.

Last night I was talking to someone about the idea of pain, frustration, brokenness, and how much people often try to drowned out the thoughts and feelings with various methods... drinking, movies, games, incessant noise, drugs, sleep etc..etc.. What I realized is, I never want to forget these moments of pain, fear, brokenness. I do not want to undo the memories and let them fade away like the mundane memories I have already forgotten throughout my life. I want to always remember both the good and the bad things that I have been through. I have learned so much about what I believe and who I am through these instances that, forgetting would be not just tragic, but devastating to me. I realized last night that even though I have had some serious shouting matches at the Lord (I've yet to have him shout back), I always knew He is still here, He loves me, and one day it all will make perfect beautiful sense. I also realized last night that while I never actively choose the painful mistakes I have made again, I know that the only way I will be able to keep from repeating the same stupid things over and over is by remembering... even if remembering is really painful, I will still choose it... It is such an intense motivator for me.

I want to be better tomorrow than I was today. I want to love better, care more, have more compassion, and draw closer to the one and only Lord.

Dec 9, 2011

Philly Weekend...

My friend and I are headed to Philly in the AM to get some private salsa lessons from our favorite professional dancer Darlin Garcia, and attend a grand opening of a dance studio. This is sort of our Christmas gift to each other.. which really we are both paying for ourselves, but it is more about the set aside time we will get to spend together, catch up, and share in some dancing.. which we love doing.. but love doing together even more!

I cannot begin to explain how excited I am to spend the weekend with her. She is such a blessing in my life, constantly encouraging, checking in on me, listening to me ramble about the most obscure things, and most of all we end up laughing together so much about all kinds of things. She surprised me by her friendship and loyalty, her dedication to me when I have gone through some really rough times just amazes me, and there is no doubt that I am blessed to have her as a friend..

And, I love her more than she loves me ;)

Dec 8, 2011

Expectancy Violation...

"Expectancy Violations Theory sees communication as the exchange of information that is high in relational content and can be used to violate the expectations of another, who will perceive the exchange either positively or negatively depending on the liking between the two people. Expectancy Violations Theory attempts to explain people’s reactions to unexpected behavior. Expectancies are primarily based upon social norms and specific characteristics of the communicators" (Thank you Wikipedia)

I feel like I have had a lot of Expectancy Violation Theory in my life lately...

(I am aware that this highlights my nerddom when it comes to communications and why I love it so much.. but I cannot help the fact that this is a great descriptor for me lately!)

Dec 6, 2011

Fear Altering...

Fear has an interesting way of pervading our view, obstructing reality, and coloring life differently. I have realized in the last couple weeks how much fear really can completely change how we see life; it easily becomes the sole focus of my mental energy and leaves me feeling both frustrated and over-reactive.

I also realized about a week ago that, I have essentially two options with my fear, I can do what comes naturally and act as though it is life as usual or I can actually process the fear out... I naturally want to hide the fear due to the fact that it does not require me to be vulnerable.. It is the easier path for me to walk because I can fake confidence... However, if I actually process the fear out and figure out what is causing it, and where it came from to begin with, then I can actually work towards letting it go, taking active steps to release the fear and then move on.

It took me a solid week of flipping back and forth between what is comfortable and safe for me to do and what is quite honestly the best thing for me regardless of my feelings... And then, tonight I realized, I need to process through my fear before it consumes my entire perspective on life... I have never been a fearful person, I love and embrace adventure and the unknown typically, but in a few very out of my control situations the fear paralyzes me... I absolutely refuse to be paralyzed in my life, there are way too many experiences to be had, too many people to love, and way too many things to learn for fear to be the default reaction.

So, with a lot of prayer, a lot of talking, and probably a decent amount of blogging, God and I will work through this fear, and He will pull it out of my unsure and unsteady hands only to replace it with a peace that only He can give... That is what I aim for, regardless of if the fear has any substantiated reality in my life in the future.

Should be a wild and scary ride... oh gosh...

Blog Auction...

My friends Rachel and Doug are adopting from Ethiopia!!.. To help offset some of the cost they are having a blog auction on their site. Head over and take a look, post a bid, and get lots of great things!





They have such a huge range of things in their auction, and it's perfect timing for Christmas!

The auction closes 7pm EST on Friday!

Dec 5, 2011

Cannot Be Repaid...

I have had a bucket list of things I want to do for pretty much as long as I can remember.. it has gone through various phases and updates, taken the form of barely more than excited thoughts of adventure to a running list with accomplishments crossed out.

Tonight I want to focus on one small one that I put on my bucket list because it would serve as a forever reminder that life is bigger than me.. That I am selfish, but if I can truly pull this off, then it serves as yet another reminder that Jesus makes me new and more like Him every day.

"Do something for someone they cannot repay."

That is on my bucket list. I want to get in the habit of doing things for people with literally no thought of reward for myself. Sometimes things I do come with a subconscious understanding that I will reap some sort of reward.. Sometimes, I know that through my actions God will bless me.. and other times, like in the case of this item on my bucket list.. The sheer idea of it is too big for me to accomplish on my own and that is partially why this is one of my favorite things on my bucket list. Because this is the type of thing that really is so beyond myself that I just want to be a part of it...

A few weeks ago, I think I found what will fulfill this. I do not know if it will pan out, but I really want it to and I am scared for it to turn out at the same time.

I know that by posting the specifics, it puts it out there for criticism, judgement, and concerns from those who are convinced that I do not think things through or that I act rashly often times.. or because they are just natural worriers.. But, I also know that it gives me the chance to share this process regardless of how it turns out, and it all gives Jesus another chance to shine... 

So, here goes, a couple of years ago I met a now friend and her husband through a mutual close friend of ours. I found out then, but did not think much more about the fact that her husband had kidney failure and has been dealing with it for (now three) years. Anyway, thanks to social media I have been able to keep up (ok more like stalk) her and her husband, their recent pregnancy and birth of their first beautiful baby (a girl!).. and of course all the adorable pictures that ensure with cute babies!

However, he has begun to seriously look for a kidney donor due to his kidney failure. So, I thought about it for about a week or so, and decided that I would go get tested to see if I am a match. That was the least I could do since the first step is to be the same blood type, and since I am O- and he is O.. first step is done. I have sent in the first of what will likely be numerous documents in the process of getting tested to see if I can donate one of my kidneys to him.

Which means that now begins the heavy lifting of my prayers about this whole thing.. For me, for him, for their family, and for anyone else who I have no idea will be touched because of Jesus' hand on this whole situation... That last part is what excites me the most.

I know there are lots of risks, life would be different, more challenging, and there are a serious number of risks and medical complications later in life for me with one kidney...

I. Know. It. Is. Dangerous.

But, how can I say no if there is a chance I could save his life... or dramatically improve his quality of life at the very least? How can I say no to someone's new baby girl? How could I say no to my friends?..

And, it all comes back to "God's will, not mine." So, if this is supposed to happen, and it is a part of God's plan for my life and the life of my friends, then all of the steps (and there are a lot of them) will work out seamlessly, there will have no doubt that this is supposed to work out exactly this way. If this is not God's will, then there are plenty of doors to close along the way... So, in this process, I am going until God says no... Which tends to be my mode of operating the last few years anyway... I have just enough faith to know my savior is capable of anything, and this is just a fraction of how he could use me to change the lives of others.

If you think about it, please pray because this situation is gonna need a lot of Jesus to work out.. whether it works out with my involvement or someone else's...

Dec 4, 2011

Start Something That Matters Winner!...

I really had to think about this one because I loved getting the stories on my blog, facebook, and twitter! It was really challenging, especially to read through the impact that people make on others lives and usually without even realizing the difference they are making. To me it is so encouraging to read about the small things making all the difference.

I loved the story shared by Jess about the huge impact it made on her life to have someone treat her as an equal as such a young age.

The story of the friend who was above all else loving and caring towards her hurting and broken male friend is very dear to my heart and one that I take as a great reminder that often times we stand in the gap for those who cannot handle the weight of the hurt in their lives alone.

The simple and utter faith of friends who make distinctions between our own hopes and the will of God.. the little prayers that bring us closer to the Lord in the smallest of moments but in the biggest of ways.

And finally, the woman who has genuinely created a "pay it forward" concept by taking a month that is typically used to celebrate herself, and instead choosing each day to love and care for someone else.. How incredibly inspiring!.. So inspiring that I too think I will start this tradition.. I love it!

So, thank you thank you for everyone on my blog, on my facebook, and on my twitter that responded and shared these amazing stories that really encourage and touch me.. Ahhh! It makes choosing a winner so difficult! However, do not worry, I have come up with a solution!...

The winner is all four of you (Jess, Patrick, Dan, and NanasNibbles)!.. Instead of merely sending the one book I have, each of you will receive a book.. which means that three children will receive new books as well "One for One." Why would I do this? Because I think it is a good enough book that if you took the time to think about and respond to my questions, then this book is a great read for you and has the potential to make a huge difference.

Please email me your addresses by December 10, 2011 so I can send you Start Something That Matters by Blake Mycoskie.

kpbback@gmail.com

Occupiers...

Dear Occupy Wall Streeters,

Let me start with saying, I am so glad to see that people in my generation giving up their apathy and actually caring about something. I feel as though our generation has been succumb by apathy for too long. So, from that standpoint alone, I am glad that you are raising your voice and wanting to be heard, I am glad you are caring enough to take some sort of action.

With that being said, let me offer a few pointers that could potentially gain you a larger group of people agreeing and supporting your cause...
The biggest struggle I am having with agreeing with anything to do with "Occupy Wall Street" is there is no clear solution, and everyone I ask or anywhere I read gives their own personal opinions about what the movement stands for and the things it is hoping to accomplish. Which means, no one understand what the 3, 5, or 10 bullet point things are that the movement is seeking resolution for, meaning there is no solution. I know that you are passionate, I know that you care, and I know that you are frustrated and upset with our government and big businesses... However, simply protesting those things without a clear plan for resolution just annoys the crap out of the rest of us who are working and trying to make it, it actually causes us to refuse to "join" the movement or cause because of those annoyances alone.

I would like to see 3-5 clear cut goals and resolutions to emerge with one voice. I would like to see "Occupiers" actually begin meeting with prominent people to figure out steps, ways, and things that need to be done so that we can measure success.. Which means there needs to be S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely) goals, and that is how you would begin to know if your movement is successful, needs adjusting, or needs to make a 180. Please, begin to seriously assess how to move forward because whether you like it or not, the media is not "for" your movement right now, but it COULD be if you play your cards right. Begin to disseminate information to all the supporters so they can accurately and fluently talk to the media and begin to flood social networking sites with one common voice and goal instead of individual thoughts and ideas. Be unified in voice instead of just in location because as it stands right now, the unified in locations is actually working against you, people are focusing on the crimes being reported of (what I hope is) a few, rather than the over-arching purpose of the movement. The frustration those of us who have to go to work or school.. or both every day find you occupying our parks in so many cities frustrating and insulting rather than inspiring. Whether we would ever join your movement becomes more difficult every day when your movement is hindering the small businesses and restaurants in those areas you are occupying, which for some of us means we are getting a cut in pay because people are avoiding the areas you are occupying.

So, please find your SMART voice and begin to take action to find resolutions, otherwise this is all for nothing, and you just make our entire generation look foolish. I would love to support specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely goals if you could as one unified voice tell me what that looks like.

Lastly, please do not take this as an attack on the movement, a "hate again occupiers" or me asking you to shut up, this is merely a plea to begin to organize and move forward.. People are listening, but that window of opportunity is quickly closing.

Thanks,
Young, working, and frustrated with the government too.

Dec 2, 2011

My Men..

The last few days I have been able to talk to my dad, brothers, and one of my uncles..

The men in my life are amazing men of God. I am so amazed at their wisdom, care, compassion, love, and genuine desire to seek the Lord and care for those around them. I am so blessed.

My dad is ever learning and finding life fascinating, I always love talking to him cause he always has interesting things to talk about, and he always is so inspiring and helpful when I am worried or concerned about things. My dad's faith and knowledge of the Bible and Christ amazes me.. He is my hero.

My brothers are two of the funniest people I know.. ever. While we used to argue all the time when we were little.. and sometimes still do today, they are always quick to tell me they love me, and I know if I ever needed them, I would have to merely utter the words. They are amazing men.

My uncle is one of the most caring men I know, he's always trying to figure out ways to help people. He has a great sense of humor, and knows how to make each person in his life feel special and unique.

I could go on and on about the guy friends in my life that I love dearly, or the other men in my family... But, I mostly wanted to highlight a few this time since I have been thinking about them this week :)

The amazing Godly men in my life vastly outweigh the men I know that are jerks or some variety of untrustworthy.

Nov 30, 2011

Win A Free Book...

So, I have been thinking about the possible options for how to give away Start Something That Matters by Blaky Mycoskie. In case you do not know, I was sent two of his latest books, asked to read it, review it, hold a contest, and give the second book away. I. Am. So. Excited! I cannot wait to give this second book away and (hopefully) hear how it has impacted your life.. (kinda like a pay it forward concept)

Ok, so here is the deal, comment below or send me a message on my twitter and tell me about something that someone ELSE has done that has either changed your life or how they "did something that matters." Feel free to get as specific or as general as you are comfortable with, but I would like to know three basic things, "who, what, and why" (who it was, what they did, and why it mattered or why it changed your life).

I am so excited to hear your stories!! The best part will be that instead of hearing how awful people are (hello Black Friday), all the stories will be encouraging and about things people are doing to help others (whether they know it or not) and I am so excited because it is inspiring all on its own!!

So, think, post (once, twice, 45 times) and tell me who, what, and why someone has impacted your life in a positive way!

Post away!!

I will choose the winner on Sunday, December 4, 2011, and send you your book on Monday (or Tuesday if I can't make it to the post office).

Nov 29, 2011

Starting Something That Matters...

This is essentially my "Part 2" of the review for Blake Mycoskie's Start Something That Matters book I just finished reading. The first review was my thoughts on the book itself (which I loved, and seriously I recommend you get it and read it!) , this is going to focus more on the impact the book has had on me, and the way in which I plan on working towards starting my own something that matters.

But first, a little background...

I have been in my career field for around 7-8 years now, I have known that I want to be doing exactly what I have been doing since I was 15 and my uncle painted a gloriously magnificent picture in my mind of what Communications/PR/Advertising (and business) looks like... exciting, energetic, fast paced, hard, challenging.. and mostly just different and adventurous all the time. So, almost 13 years ago I settled on this as my path. All throughout college I knew what I wanted to do, I got a degree and worked in my field throughout college, graduated and jumped right into my field and have been in this field of study ever since... A little over a year ago I felt like I was supposed to go back to school (*tears*), so I have been pursuing a double masters in Business Administration and MS in Leadership.

I have worked in jobs that I loved, hated, was apathetic about, or incredibly passionate about. However, I have always loved helping those who have small businesses or new businesses understand things about communications, marketing, PR, advertising etc.. It has always struck me as sad and frustrating because they typically do the best they can, but there is no way new and small businesses can afford graphic designers, communications people, web designers, etc.. So, I love helping them where I can with whatever I can or at the very least directing them to the friends I have in the particular area they need help in. Essentially I have been doing some form of consulting for five or so years now.

So, while reading Start Something That Matters, I began thinking, why am I not actually pursuing consulting?.. I love it. I love everything about consulting... It is different every day, I get to help people with my skills, I get to network, I get to learn, I get to give business to my friends who are in various different fields.. but mostly, I love the fact that I get to help new or small businesses succeed, which makes a huge difference in the lives of the employees and their families.. The trickle down effect is astronomical!

One of the things that struck me the most about Blake and his approach to business and the philosophy's behind TOMS is how much he truly mixed profit and social responsibility. However, the social responsibility is really what sets the business side apart and makes it successful. The loyalty that is built when a business makes social responsibility one of the main goals is amazing to read in his book, and confirmed for me that everyone wants both of those things, to do something that has a greater purpose and provides/pays the bills. So, due to this, and the fact that I 100% agree with this in my own life and my own desires, the first 10% of income will go to organizations of the "clients" choosing (even before bills are paid).

So, my new business will look something like this... You are a new/small business, you are struggling, need help with a website, advertising, etc.. but you're working on an extremely tight budget. You would hire me to create a package that works for your needs.. after we have spent a decent amount of time building our relationship, my understanding of the needs and goals, I would coordinate with the various professionals (who all have businesses of their own) to help with the specifics needs of your package (web design, graphic design, photographer, videographer etc..) and you would then pick the ones with the styles that match your own tastes... We would work out the payment plan/options, and you would pick which charity you want your 10% going to (everyone has favorites)... but I would of course have a list of my favorites to choose from just in case (because I know so many people who work for amazing charity's as well). Then, I would commence to working to help your business succeed.

My something that matters is helping new and small businesses succeed whether by consulting for them or with them, while also supporting charities that make a difference.

This is a slow process to get this started and going, but I am pumped... Especially since I can start and grow this slowly while I am still working full time and getting my double masters (oye vey.. clearly I don't have enough to do). But, I now have a purpose behind the double masters and the things I am learning working for a national organization, all of these skills will be vitally important later.

Currently I am working on finding a name that captures my idea (feel free to send me any ideas you have), then getting the business squared away both legally, identity wise, and the look and feel of what I am doing (I cannot start a business claiming to help others without first following my own advice and getting websites and things)... Then (and until then) I will also be working on building my network of experts and professionals to partner with me (let me know if you're interested in partnering with me and joining my network). And of course, lots of prayer will be taking place in the next while for this whole thing.

Should be exciting!

Nov 28, 2011

The Review Part 1...

Several week ago, I saw on Twitter that Blake Mycoskie was doing a book give away, I popped over to the Start Something That Matters site and entered to win Blake Mycoskie's new book. I wrote a couple short paragraphs about why my blog or twitter would be a great platform for me to receive two copies of Blake's books, read one, review it, then give away the second with a contest of my own creation. I found out a couple weeks later that I was one of several people picked! (which is awesome, cause I am fairly certain my sister is actually the lucky one in my family) Once I received the books, I began reading every night before bed, which is typically my nightly pattern with whatever book (or books) that happen to be on my nightstand.

Last night I finished the book, and while I am giving a bit away by not holding you in suspense, I absolutely loved it... Now on to the review; I have been thinking for the last week or so as I neared the end of the book about how I wanted to review it... I came up with all sorts of extravagant ideas, lame ideas, and probably really boring ideas, but I finally settled on breaking the review into two parts. The first part will actually be my review and thoughts of the book, the second part will be the way the book has inspired me to start my own something that matters.

Start Something That Matters is a very easy read, it has the feel of sitting down with a friend over a great cup of coffee and listening to him excitedly and passionately tell the story of how TOMS came to be where it is today. Blake talks about the lessons he learned along the way and the people who have inspired or helped him make TOMS what it is today. Blake does a fantastic job of walking you through his story with passion and ease, the chapters are concise and make sense, and the pictures of key moments or from his journal of a specific moment help make the story come alive even more. I really enjoyed the basic story of TOMS, which is both inspiring and exciting all on its own, but really the most helpful part of the book is reading about the lessons he learned along the way, whether through happenstance, intentional choices or because of mistakes. Blake also gives advice and resources that can help you start your own something that matters, and thankfully his advice is not another self-help to becoming a millionaire, but rather practical advice for a balanced and passionate life and career. The advice comes in all sorts of stories or bullet points, it speaks to the still in college person just as much as the retired and re-evaluating things person. I was amazed at how easily the points are transferable and meaningful for everyone regardless of their position where they work currently or their stage in life.


The advice Blake gives as he details his TOMS journey is not only entertaining to read because of his honesty and sense of humor, but it also strikes a chord because of the practicality and the fact that it appeals to your own desire to want to make a difference and be a part of something that matters. Throughout the book, I had this intense sense of appreciation for the perspective Blake has towards TOMS, business in general, and the way his goals for growing his business and what his goals are with TOMS (or how they have changed throughout the years).

Start Something That Matters does a fantastic job of giving timelines and information that allow you to connect with the story even more from your (my) own perspective... I was able to connect the book's timeline with my own timeline and story, all of which made it feel as though I had an even deeper connection. I was able to pinpoint in his timeline when I was first introduced to TOMS, when I first saw the video from their first shoe-drop (and when I posted it to myspace, before Facebook allowed that kind of sharing). I really enjoyed reading the stories of other people that were shared in the book of how excited they were to be a part of TOMS in their own way, and how they too are making a difference, but even more than that, I liked hearing Blake's perspective and reactions to the stories. They all reminded me of how even for myself, a large part of my connection to TOMS is that I love the story and feel connected too.

The book was the type of good, that I actually wrote in it, circled, underlined and dog-earred pages, and mulled over what I was reading the entire couple weeks it took me to read the book... Not only did I feel fully engaged in the book while I was reading it, but I have begun to think about people I want to buy copies for (because I want to keep my own, and I only have one to give away later).

Start Something That Matters sticks with the "One for One" model that was originated with the shoes, migrated to eye-ware, and continues with this book, for every book bought, a new book will be given to a child in need. I cannot even begin to explain how much I appreciate the consistency and continuity that Blake is exhibiting with all of his ventures.

In short, buy this book, read this book, absorb the message, and share it with others. You won't be sorry.

Stay tuned, next is part two of my review, where I will talk about how this book has made a difference and inspired me to start something that matters...

And then, the give away of the second book!

Nov 26, 2011

Post Game..

My roomie and I agreed to this picture for whoever lost... haha we had fun :)



MI v. OSU...

The roomie and I watching the MI v. OSU game today.. Having a blast razzing each other :)

Currently less than one quarter left, 30-27 MI.. Oh man!.. Such a fun game! :)

Nov 25, 2011

Toodling Around...

Some of my favorite days are the ones that are full of random toodling around. I enjoy doing nothing planned or be-bopping around with friends, painting my nails, watching a couple movies.. Whatever. Days like that (or today) make the rush of life seem less pressing.

It doesn't hurt that I also have a four day weekend.

Nov 24, 2011

I Am So Thankful...

Thought I would post a bit about the things I am thankful for since it's Thanksgiving.

I am pretty sure I say this every year, and I plan on saying it every year until I am no more, I am so thankful for my family. My parents are amazing people, my brothers are the absolute best (sorry to everyone with brothers), my sister and sister in law are hands down two of the most amazing girls I know, my nephews and niece are hands down the cutest kids ever (again sorry to everyone who has kids in their life). I am so thankful for each one of them, for how close we are, and that we all serve our Savior passionately. I am thankful that I do not have to worry or stress about their salvation. What a blessing.

I am thankful for the lack of health issues I have had this year, especially since last year I struggled with a lot of back pain, this year it has been almost a non-issue. So grateful!

I am very thankful for my job, and the ability to pay bills, pay off debt, and help others.. As stressful and full of tension the last year has been at my job, I know that I am fortunate to not just have a job, but have a well paying one that allows me to take care of myself and others.

I am thankful for being in school again, as much as I am not a fan of school at all, and as much frustration as I have been through trying to understand accounting, finance, economics etc.. I am thankful for the opportunities that I am getting educated to take on later.

I am thankful for my friends, the ones I have had struggles with, the ones I have grown close to, and the ones I have grown apart from. I am so thankful for the things my friends have taught me, the ways they have helped me grow, and I am so thankful for all the ridiculousness they put up with to be my friend!

I am so thankful for the way God has provided in the lives of those around me.. For the faithfulness He has shown to my friends that got married, had babies, adopted, or found jobs. My God is amazing and through good times and bad He has proven Himself faithful time and time again.

I am so thankful for my church, for their humility, their passion, their love, and how passionately they seek after Christ.

I am thankful for the struggles I have been through in the last year.. that seems counter intuitive, and I certainly was not thankful for them as I was going through them, but I also knew at the time one day I would be thankful. I am so thankful that I am beginning to see the whys behind the struggles and all of the things it has begun to cultivate in me.

I. Am. So. Thankful.

Nov 23, 2011

Stripped Away...

It is interesting to me how slowly, methodically, and calculated the Lord pulls away things in your life that distract you from Him. Sometimes I think He does it fast, but more often than not I feel like God does it slowly with me. As though He pulls away the layers in such a fashion that not only do I not have a choice but to let go, but it causes me to turn to Him a little bit more each layer.

Sometimes I think God moves so slowly because I am just that stubborn... and other times I believe He moves that slowly because any faster and I would break.

It is a wonderful thing though to come out on the other side, healed, new, and closer to my savior than ever before.

Nov 21, 2011

Self Control...

This little app keeps me from absent mindedly wandering to Facebook or twitter.. Or google.. Or my website.. Or my Blog.. Or hulu.. You know, any site except my school/homework that needs to me done.

Sometimes you just have to know when to ask for help!

I recommend the Self Control App!

Nov 19, 2011

Doubts...

I was thinking a little bit today about doubts and fears. I am not talking about basic doubt or fears, but the ones deep down inside that really can impact a lot of areas of your life... I was also thinking a bit about how doubts and fears grow, change, or reduce... For example, my biggest fear in college was "ending up alone," meaning I was worried I would be the scary, slightly crazy cat lady at the end of the road.... (or dog lady as it would likely end up ;) I had serious doubts that God heard my pleas and cries for Him to bring me someone so I would not have to do "this" (life) alone. These thoughts ebbed and flowed depending on what was going on around me and how busy or fulfilled I felt. But, one thing remained, there was fear in (what I thought was the worst thing possible) being alone.

What is interesting to me, is, I have found myself genuinely coming out of that fear and those doubts in the last couple years, but mostly in the last year or so. Part of it has been because of my need to focus elsewhere, which removal from the feelings and situation long enough always allows some distance from the thoughts or desires (for me at least). Other parts of it have to do with needing to comfort those around me that I am in fact not lonely at all, not in the slightest... And, finally, I realized that I honestly, whole heartedly trust God's plan for my life. Whether that means I will be the cool fun aunt that never has a husband and family of her own.. or whether that means some day I will adopt my own kids as a single woman... or if I find myself in love, married, and a family of my own. I do not in any way regret or find disappointment in my life so far regardless of the future. I realized sometime in the last year that I genuinely am enjoying my journey, and no part of me feels lacking or that God has left me wanting...

I was marveling the other day at how content I am with life as a whole. I have had some serious struggles, issues, and fires I feel like I have been through the last couple years, but currently I find that I am just content. I love my life... If God chooses to bring me a man.. then He's really gonna have to work on that one, cause not only am I busy (no really, that's not even an avoiding a date line), I am not particularly looking in a guy entering my life in a manner beyond just friends (kiss of death for guys, sorry). You see, it is not that I am against dating or having a guy pursue, I just do not have any, nor know of any that I am hoping will "come get/find me." I like my life just the way it is, single, difficult, busy, and (surprisingly) in DC. If God's will or plan is for me to find "the one" (I am not really sure I believe in that anyway), then I have total and complete confidence that God will work it out... and the guy will be perfect for me haha.. Meaning, he will have no bones about pursuing, and work to get/have me.... thus making me fall deeply and madly in love with him.... haha maybe someday... but not today, and likely not anytime soon.

So, whether you are single or you simply are worried about a single friend, let me encourage you to definitely be praying for the situation, but do not doubt God's plan and the perfectness of how it will all work out in the end. "Do not worry about tomorrow" including worry about the singleness of your loved ones (or yourself).

Trust God.

Nov 18, 2011

Glitters....

"With every pair you purchase, TOMS will give a pair of new shoes to a child in need. One for One."

These are my new TOMS, black glitters. Love them because I can wear them to work and still be dressy!


Nov 17, 2011

Interesting Week...

It has been such an interesting week.. It started out incredibly frustrating and annoying. I had a couple high points of getting a new book to read, began cultivating a new idea, and has ended with a complete bait and switch of a situation.

First, I want to say, several chapters into the Start Something That Matters book by Blake Mycoskie, I am very much enjoying this book, and finding myself underlining and writing notes in the margins... I will write a (probably a couple) review on it soon. I am definitely getting inspired.

Then today, in the midst of normal chaos at work I discovered that an individual who has caused a lot of stress, turmoil, and angst in my life over the last while was let go. What weird emotions to experience... I never felt a "jump for joy" or "time to celebrate" emotion, mostly I just felt relief.. and suddenly conflicted about the idea of "is it ok to celebrate over someone else losing their job?"... Is that ok? I sent some updating text messages to a few people and expressed my conflicted emotions... My dad wisely suggested that celebrating someone else losing their job is understandably something to be conflicted over, so instead, wait to see who will fill that position moving forward, and celebrate that. Another friend suggested waiting to see if there is room for promotion and celebrate the positive in the situation, not someone else's negative. And finally, another friend suggested that maybe celebrate is the wrong word entirely, but that it is okay to feel relief that there is a degree of struggle no longer playing a role in my workplace environment. So, I have settled on feeling relief that the stress and turmoil I had been experiencing for the last while is no longer a factor, but recognizing that someone (no matter how frustrating to work with) has lost their job.

What a weird week.. which was preceded by last week that just felt crazy, like the world had lost it's mind.


Nov 15, 2011

Something That Matters...

When I got home from work, this is what I found...
Which of course means my new books are in! I am excited to start reading this and then have my giveaway of the second book!

Should be fun!.. and is a great way to come home from a frustrating day at work!

Hello Annoyance...

I have been seriously annoyed the last couple days. Not at anything in particular, but I find myself having to exercise way more control with my reactions to things that are ultimately minor but leave me feeling ready to rip someone's head off. I, as one of my friends put it, had to put myself in adult time out yesterday to avoid laying into someone for a couple of rather minor situations. The problem is I logically know none of the situations matter, and I realize that my feelings towards them are rather silly or petty, but I also have found that knowing that has not helped improve my feelings towards the situations.

Last night, I found myself really just praying about the whole thing admitting that I wanted someone to pick a fight with me so I could tear them apart... and then recognizing how not ok that perspective is, and that I really was powerless to change my perspective and needed some divine intervention... Which ultimately put me to bed instead of talking to anyone.

I hope that the rest of the day and evening pan out in such a way that allows the remaining shreds of totally unfounded annoyance to waste away.

Nov 11, 2011

Nov 9, 2011

Start Something That Matters...

I am so excited, I got this today in my inbox:



So, soon and very soon I will be reading this book, and then having a contest to give the second book for free!

Stay tuned!

Nov 4, 2011

The Saga Continues...

So, surprisingly, I am 3/4 of my way through the last book in the Twilight series. Since I am coming to a close, and have read the majority of the saga now, I thought I would post a few additional thoughts and comments.

First, I can totally see why my father HATED these books... And, at moments, I echo his sentiments entirely. However, as a whole, I do not hate them with the fervor that he did/does. Part of that could simply be because I was actually expecting to hate every bit of the series.. so, mildly better than I was expecting is still better than I was expecting.. Or possibly it has to do with the fact that sometimes I feel like my (maybe all girls) emotions seem to battle irrationally sometimes, and this series certainly gives you a glimpse of the inner workings of a girls mind.. aggravating and all.

Secondly, Alice Cullen is my favorite character. After her, Carlisle and Esme.. But, I appreciate the less morose and depressing aspects her character brings to the story. I enjoy the excitement she gets from the little things, but how much she is an "all in" type person (vampire), whether protecting, party planning or simply because of her enthusiasm.. She makes the story more enjoyable for me.

I also enjoy Emmett's sense of humor about everything..

Now, on to the books, plots, and other characters. In New Moon, I enjoyed the relationship that was built between Bella and Jacob, and understood why there even was such a thing as a "Team Jacob." However, by the end of Eclipse I was ridiculously annoyed with Jacob (and even more so at Bella for that matter), and I was glad out of spite (is that a weird feeling towards a fictional character??) that they did not end up together. The mental torment that Bella put herself through and the hot and cold, back and forth drove me absolutely insane.

I mildly enjoyed the banter between the vampires and werewolves, although both Edward and Jacob's possessiveness simply did not sit well with me. Which, could also have something to do with the fact that I am nearing my 27th birthday, and do not react kindly to being told what to do the way they both were dictating and manipulating Bella. Edward's over protective and possessiveness got really obnoxious quickly.

However, I appreciated how eventually Edward was able to see the usefulness of having werewolves as allies, and genuinely enjoy the friendship he built with Seth due to their battle together... But, in the process was really annoyed at Bella for manipulating him during the whole planning for the attack of Victoria part...

Now that I am most of the way through Breaking Dawn, I am ready for the story to be over... The over-detailed descriptions of post-vampire-turning Bella are getting old, there is just a little too much not going on to keep me overly interested other than wanting to finish the story. However, I will say, I am glad there has been only slight hints, innuendos etc.. of the love scenes.. I was unsure how that was going to play out, but thankfully Stephanie Meyer left more to the imagination than explaining what happened. Now a days, that is a serious plus in my book (pun intended).

Yet, through it all, I still stick with my original thought that, the back and forth Bella expresses and the emotions get old after a while... And, the "self control" Edward has is even more ridiculous than the thought of a vampire (lol weird I know..). Thankfully all of the books are incredibly easy reads, otherwise I probably would not have made it.

I will say though, that throughout the whole series, there is still a (unhealthy in my opinion) draw and a significant amount of attention that this saga points out in regards to the desire girls/women have deep down in the very core of who they are. I can see very easily how any sort of insecurity in the "love" area of a girl/woman's life could lead to an unhealthy obsession with these books, "Edward" or "Jacob" and the fact that it brings up the desire to be fought for, loved, cherished, protected, and part of a wonderful adventure... etc..etc.. Which means, ultimately the craze these books have generated really just show the level at which girls and women are wounded. That breaks my heart.

Overall, I think this series is just ok. Not great, not terrible, about the mediocre at best line..