Best of: January 2018

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January kind of sucked – because I was sick the last half of it!

But I’m celebrating what was great about it!

Live Music: May Erlewine

I heard about May Erlewine when my church played a couple of her songs in early December. I was excited to hear her live. She was a part of The Livery + LMC’s Living Room Series. It was so amazing to hear her in person – her music is as magical as her storytelling powers! I also liked her personality and I’d like to think if she planted herself in my area, we’d be good friends. Do yourself a favor – BUY her music. Or if you’re in Michigan, check out her schedule to see if you can see her live. SO GOOD! I firmly believe good music creates HOLY MOMENTS.

Because of this concert, I’ve decided I want to see one concert/month in 2018! YEA LIVE MUSIC!

Fitness: Yoga With Adriene

I love that IT’S FREE – on youtube!

This is exactly what I needed to kick off 2018. Like everyone else on the planet, I’m not where I want to be with health. But I finally found a fitness coach that doesn’t yell at you to put on a cheesy smile as you embrace the pain of getting stronger. She is quirky, funny, and calm. I got through nine days of yoga in January from her True January calendar – and I’m counting that as a win. I had never tried yoga before and actually think my old roommate used to do Yoga with Adriene years ago! Glad I found her; wish I had this in my first year of teaching to calm down after tough days at work.

Books: Quiet

What list would be complete with a book recommendation?!

I don’t know what made me pick it up again, but I reread Quiet by Susan Cain. I don’t normally reread books, but I find so much empowerment to embrace my personality and life from this book. Not apologizing to people for needing time and space away from them!

Drink: Minute Maid Lemonade

I gave up drinking Coke. I haven’t had any pop (other than 7-up when I was sick) since 2017 (but I’m human and have had three Dr. Peppers this week).

Because of this newfound life without pop, I’ve tried fruit punch and lemonades when ordering fast food meals. Jimmy John’s got me addicted to the real deal (no LIGHT!) Minute Maid Lemonade. Yum. I miss their Cherry Coke, but this is a great alternative.

How are you CELEBRATING LIFE in 2018?

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Tension

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Anyone else constantly feel the tension that the last few days of the year epitomize? Reminiscing the past while hopeful and ready for the future – whatever it may bring. Looking back on lessons learned, while hoping with all your might that the year ahead will be just a little kinder than the year that somehow happened so quickly?

I often feel like this – finding it hard to be in the present moment. I remember great times when I had plenty of friends to choose from within five minutes of me at college instead of binge-watching FRIENDS. Or anticipating the time I can get my own place again.

But here. Now. In 2018. I am healthier than last year.

The first six months of 2017 were NOT pretty. I woke up already behind on my to-do list, dreading my commute, and crying almost every day en route. This time last year, I spent FOUR DAYS driving back to DC after Christmas break – crying A LOT – going back to a place that was just breaking my heart. But, God is faithful and helped me be faithful to finish out responsibilities in DC.

I am truly blessed – in this exact moment – to finish out 2017 with six months of living with family. I am not back in my hometown anticipating my next move out of this small town life. I am not back here dealing with a family crisis. I am here because I finally WANT to be here. I am soaking up all the snuggles with my niece and nephews, I am grieving over DC and the loss of the life there, and I am truly embracing family in all of its ups and downs (and believe me, there have been some rocky roads with family in 2017, too – we’re messy imperfect human beings!).

My hope is that I will be better at living in the tension, living my best story and inspiring other to live theirs.

December 10

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December 10 has meant a lot to me for the past seven years. It was the end of my three months living with stepfamily in Italy, checking out mission work opportunities there.

Seven years. (Check out my adventure getting home.)

Too long since I have been in that beautiful country with those beautiful people. Thank God for Facebook, helping me stay updated on some of the people I met while there.

That being said, I just spent four years living in DC, where the nations come to us! It was so amazing hearing so many different languages and seeing the diversity of the city. It is a city that I love, that is misunderstood, and has so many different cultures represented. I met so many people fighting for justice, passionate people who want to be the change in the world.

My favorite DC event is the Embassy Open Houses in May. It was my time to “travel” to European countries without leaving DC. The Italian Embassy has fantastic pizza and gelato for sale, a favorite of mine. (*Sidenote: a favorite DC Italian restaurant was Toscana Cafe by Union Station. It was across the street from Ebenezers, where I worked and spent a lot of time. They changed management but still have legit Italian pizza.)

Italy and DC have stretched me as a person. I am an introvert, and I was surrounded by extroverts in both places. I love being around people who are different than me. I love learning from all people. I once heard in a sermon that Heaven will be filled with Dutch and Italians. Dutch are reserved and Italians are LOUD! Love it.

I think Heaven might be like DC. Not because of a political party, but because of the beauty I saw in the people there. Thankful for my times abroad and home that show me a little more of what the Kingdom is like.

Thanksmas

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I have friends who have their own families and celebrate Christmas and Thanksgiving as one holiday. Sometimes I think that is the simpler, better version of what we have made holidays.

Thank-mas. Thank more.

There’s something to be said for a holiday like Thanksgiving (removing the historical background and all the PC-ness). The gathering of family and/or friends, people COOK REAL FOOD, and watch football.

Sidenote: I’m looking forward to seeing Michigan BEAT OSU this year!

Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes it is a confrontation that relationships are not perfect and we have to work on changing things about ourselves. Being with family can be tough. I’ve had to get used to the fact that everything I grew up with no longer exists – tradition-wise – as an adult child of divorce.

However, there are bright moments like the sweet laughter of my nephew and brother bonding at the dinner table. The sweet pictures my older nephew drew me. The cute bracelet my niece made me. Everyone being comfortable because we like hanging out with each other, which I know is not the case in every family.

What are you thankful for? How can you encourage someone today? How can we be thankful for more of our lives? Thankful for the good, the bad, and the ugly that has shaped us and gotten us to this moment in life? 

It’s Christmastime, Baby!

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I don’t know when it happened – mid-to-late twenties, but I began to like babies. Baby fever is a real thing. Truth: I’m not a baby person. I like people who can talk to me about why they are crying. It also happens that I have a two and a half year old nephew who is one of my favorite people on the planet! So I’m learning to love the youngest people on the planet.

Jesus came to Earth for us…. as a baby. HE LEFT HEAVEN! What other “god” in the world makes the effort? It’s usually by human efforts that we are saved in major religions around the world. With Jesus, He pursues US! Thank God!

Here are a few songs I have heard in the past few days that caused me to stop and ponder the miracle Baby that blessed our world:

Do You Hear What I Hear? Carrie Underwood

Specifically the line: The Child, the Child sleeping in the night, He will bring us goodness and light.

Mary Did You Know? Kenny Rogers and Wynonna Judd

Line that just gets me: Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
And when you kiss your little baby, you have kissed the face of God?

Finances

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One of the most important things I have learned in life is financial management. It was one of my favorite college classes – going through a Dave Ramsey workbook before he got huge!

I firmly believe in getting that area of your life managed well.

That being said, I am one step closer to being debt-free. I paid off my student loan for grad school on Wednesday (happy belated birthday/ early Merry Christmas to me)!

Now all I have is $14K for my car.

The best advice someone gave for this was to pay a little bit every paycheck. It makes it seem not as big and if you can, make double payments.

Celebrating the WIN this week of another loan DONE! 🙂

Why ORANGE should be a new Color

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My church is pretty amazing. And I don’t mean a BUILDING. I mean the people.

Seven people shared how they were using their sphere of influence to further the Kingdom. It is exciting and even though it was from a few years ago, it’s still one of my favorite messages.

There’s a great movement happening in the church called ORANGE. It focuses on what can happen when churches and families partner together to support each other in this crazy thing called parenting. I do not have children, but I want to someday.

Reggie Joiner is passionate about children and the impact legacy can have on them.

What I think is missing from this is a HUGE part of childhood: SCHOOL. We would be missing out on a huge chunk of students’ lives if we did not encourage and support teachers to invest into our children.

You can watch the whole message. Education is 30:45-35:45.

Teachers in trauma-filled areas have the chance to be a safe harbor – loved how Sha put that!

Let’s partner with schools in our area. What better way to strengthen families and the church than to go into the marketplace of children/student ministry – SCHOOLS.