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my life in my words


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Head To The Heart | The PROMISE of 2016

Welcome to 2016, Y’all!

I think it’s safe to say that 2015 was a wild ride . . . and the destination landed me right here at day one of 2016—a great day to be ALIVE! Last year was a good mix of adventure, opportunities for bravery, and beautiful landmark moments. It was also a year to face some great big fears, take leaps of faith, and asking difficult honest questions. I feel like I got a full spectrum that led me to RECLAIM a great number of things. And now that I’ve been able to RECLAIM those things, I am looking forward to a new year of great and wonderful things.

As I thought & prayed about what my theme for 2016 would be, I found myself ever hopeful and expectant for what is to come because of where the journey of 2015 has led me to. Not that I already know what will come in 2016, but anticipating the growth, grace, and joy of blooming even more in the situations that God has re-planted me in after a year of RECLAIMING. With that in mind, the word that kept resounding in my prayers and my heart was the word PROMISE.

BlogPromise

[PROMISE]

  • A statement telling someone that you will definitely do something or that something will definitely happen in the future
  • An indication of future success or improvement
  • A cause or ground for hope; reason to expect something

This next year I want to intentionally focus on the Promises of God and see more clearly how they intersect with my life. As a Pastor sometimes it’s easy to see the promises in the Bible as they apply to others around you that you hope to inspire and aid in spiritual growth. But for me, it’s often difficult to apply those truths to my own situations. Not that they don’t apply, but more so that I tend to believe that great things are available to others and sometimes for myself, but not all the time as God reveals so clearly in His Word. Have you ever seen the movie, THE POLAR EXPRESS? There’s one scene in there that could aptly describe what I mean:

My upbringing and circumstances when I was younger led me to believe that things just wouldn’t work out for me. I constantly saw and heard the great things that would happen for others and never believed that I could experience those things. For instance, when I first bought my new car, I was so sure that the dealership would decline me or swindle me or that the car would break down once I drove it off the lot. This monumental moment soon became drenched in unnecessary despair. I remember driving away a little hesitant and doubtful and by the time I made it home, I reveled in the fact that “It’s actually mine. I get to keep it! It’s something I worked hard for and now I can actually call it my own.” There are somedays that I still find it hard to believe that God would bless me like that, but it gets easier after I shut down the doubt by speaking His truths over the situation.

This past year more than ever, as I had to come face-to-face with fears, doubts, worries, and hurts that helped me to reclaim pieces of my life, my family of friends rallied behind me and God revealed Himself in some remarkable ways to help me step off the train of hopelessness and step into a world surrounded in God’s goodness and grace. So as I walk into this next year, I want to rejoice in the promises of God that I overlooked as beacons in my own life. I want to not only become a woman of faith who speaks of God’s promises, but one who lives fully in them as well. I am looking forward to it and making 2016 a year of PROMISE!

In closing, here’s a song that I’ve been leaning on lately as I contemplate stepping into this new year:

HAPPY NEW YEAR, Y’ALL!


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Maps For The Getaway

Reclaim Banner

Well it has certainly been an adventurous year of RECLAIMING 2015! As I look back on the the journey through the year, I know I’ve reclaimed:

  • Strong boundaries to guard my heart, time, and attention in areas where they were non-existent or weakened.
  • Courage to do brave things in a truly vulnerable way.
  • The resilience to not break in the midst of heartbreak and disappointment in contrast to shutting down/crumbling emotionally in silence as before.
  • A deeper and stronger understanding of who I am a person, a woman, a daughter, a sister, a Christian, a pastor, a leader, a human being, and all the other various facets that make up who I am.
  • Friendships that were once lost
  • The ability to accept that things can be great in my life not only because of what I’ve worked hard to earn but also because God is good and just, and desires to bless His people.
  • A hope for things to succeed and not always fail, even when road blocks pop up.
  • A greater love for myself and the way God made me.

Some of the things that have helped me along the way are:

And now as a I close another chapter in this adventure-filled story of my life, I look forward to taking these things I’ve reclaimed with me into the new year as I focus on another theme. What might that theme be? Oh you know, something timeless and powerful. Something that you can expect in  . . . 

ThemeTeaser

 

 . . . stay tuned to find out! 


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Life Of The Party

Birthday cake is for the birds—it's time for Birthday Pie!!!

Birthday cake is for the birds—it’s time for Birthday Pie!!!

We don’t have to be ordinary. Make your best mistakes. ‘Cause we don’t have the time to be sorry. So baby be the life of the party. I’m telling you to take your shot it might be scary. Hearts are gonna break. ‘Cause we don’t have the time to be sorry. So baby be the life of the party.

— Life of the Party by Shawn Mendes

“I’m twelve years old.” I’ll admit, I say that phrase more often than not. The truth is, I’m not really twelve, but sometimes my mind and heart are. Sometimes they’re even younger . . . and I’m okay with that. That may be why many people find it hard to pinpoint my age when I have them guess. I’ll admit, it’s flattering when you’re in your 30s and people still think you’re a young 20’s gal. Pretty. Freakin’. Awesome!

Still, I am now another year older and though I don’t particularly “feel it,” I know it in my mind and heart because those are things most affected by my aging. I’ve learned a lot in my 34 years of living, and I’m excited for all the other things (wonderful and terrible) that I will learn as I continue to age. As I was driving to breakfast (Birthdays call for fancy schmancy breakfasts at the Whole Foods hot bar!!!) I reflected on some of the things that have shaped who I am as I’ve grown. I thought it might be fun to share some of them with you . . . and since today’s magic number for me is 34, I’ll give you a laundry list of 34!

  1. Fun doesn’t get old and you’re never too old to have fun.
  2. Hurt people hurt people.
  3. If you ever get an idea to write a story about sparkling vampires, don’t. Just stop right there.
  4. You cannot control the way people treat you, but you can control the way you respond.
  5. Flossing IS important! Flossing IS important!
  6. You don’t have to reward yourself with food. You are not a dog.
  7. Life is not a wish granting factory.
  8. God’s silence is not evidence that He’s absent, apathetic, or angry at you.
  9. You need people of all ages, backgrounds, in different life paths in your circle of friends.
  10. It’s a good idea to spend time with people that are not like you. They will help you see who you really are when you’re out of your comfort zone.
  11. It’s okay to cry.
  12. Confidence is silent. Insecurities are loud.
  13. Generous hands are never empty.
  14. Its okay to not be okay, but it is not okay to stay that way.
  15. I know there’s a lot people say who always talk about the youth as, “Yeah, they’re the future of the church, but I say they’re the PRESENT of the church. They don’t get a pint-sized version of the Holy Spirit when they commit their lives to Christ. They get the full deal, so you’re engaged with the future of the church and the current generation of the church.”
  16. Don’t let someone who gave up on their dreams talk you out of going after yours
  17. I am weird and quirky and random and awkward and that is wonderful. I’ve fought hard to stop hiding who I am and I owe it to myself to stay free from the lies that say that those are bad things.
  18. Get fit. Exercise and healthy eating are not dirty words. They are empowering and refreshing and the hard work pays off. Trust the process.
  19. God will never be handcuffed by your failures or unleashed by your successes.
  20. You are not alone.
  21. “I find men who might be giants of faith, who might be leaders of society, who might rise to subdue kingdoms, who might be noble amongst princes, but they go down, because they allow suggestions of Satan to dethrone their better knowledge of the power of God. God, help us tonight.” — Smith Wigglesworth
  22. You cannot out-give God.
  23. When my spouse is my source of life, I blame them as the source of our problems. I try to control him; I try to manipulate him into someone that is more like me. When my children are my source of life, I use them to impress other people. When my parents are my source of life, I make decisions based on how they think and feel.
  24. Bravery feels like wanting to cry, throw up, not sleeping very well.
  25. Adventures don’t come with details – errands do. And we were created for more than errands.
  26. Home is ultimately not about a place to live but about the people with whom you are most fully alive. Home is about love, relationship, community, and belonging, and we are all searching for home.
  27. “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” — Winston Churchill
  28. You cannot please everybody and you shouldn’t have to.
  29. Being a follower of Christ does not make you a ‘doormat.’ Your voice should be heard, your heart protected, and your worth understood.
  30. “Run mad as often as you choose, but do not faint.” — Jane Austen
  31. You can give up on someone as soon as God does.
  32. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
  33. “To be nobody-but-yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody but yourself—means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight—and never stop fighting.” — EE Cummings
  34. Remember WHO you are and WHOSE you are.

To all my friends and family, near and far, thanks for being a part of my life—no matter how long you’ve been a part. You make it awesome and worthwhile and exciting. Here’s to another wonderful year in the 30s!

Thanks for all the Birthday wishes!

Thanks for all the Birthday wishes!


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I Was Made For Loving You

I was a second year student in Master’s Commission in Austin (Ministry Training School) when I was presented with the opportunity to serve at Royal Family Kid’s Camp (RFKC), which was being hosted by my home church (GTAustin). It was there that a fresh part of my soul came to life. After sitting through hours and hours of required training, I wondered what I had gotten myself into and then on the first day that campers arrived, I was presented with the answer: An unforgettable and truly treasured summer experience! Working with RFKC allowed me to make a positive impact on the lives of kids ages 7-11 in the foster care system who had been abused, abandoned and neglected. Spending time with those kids tugged on my heartstrings and caused me to pray hopeful prayers like I had never prayed before. After that first summer, I decided to volunteer another 2 years in a row. I wish I could’ve committed to more. Experiencing life with those beautifully broken kids for just a week each year ignited a burning passion in my heart that has never subsided. I knew from that period in my life, as a 20 year-old, I wanted to adopt.

The more I thought about it and prayed through it, I decided that I wanted to adopt a teenager. As a young adult, I’d always felt a strong connection to teenagers and the desire to mentor them and bring them hope, truth, and a positive voice that would help them discover who they were created to be. Knowing that most adoptive families choose to adopt babies, leaving teenagers to remain in foster care for the majority of their teenage life before aging out, the choice was simple. I will gladly take in all the drama, the boy/girlfriends, teenage heartbreak, student council, puberty, forgetfulness, hangovers, SAT prep, therapy appointments, school clubs, fundraisers, etc. with loving arms to give a special teenager a second chance at family. I will willingly care for them deeply on their best and worst days and do my best to help them become a successful, moral human being who can rise above hardship and pursue their own hopes and dreams with gusto.

I solidified in my heart and mind that even after I was married, my husband and I would adopt our first child because I wanted that child to know that we chose them first. Even after trying out dating sites, joining church small groups, attending various meet-ups with affinity groups, and even invested flirting with baristas and guys at the gym, I was still striking out in the dating department. As I grew older I found myself without the prospect of a boyfriend so I made a promise to myself that if I wasn’t married by the time I was in my 30s, I would move forward with the adoption process as a single mom. After I turned 30, I began moving forward with that decision. I confided in and dialogued a lot of the pros/cons with my therapist and accountability partners. I researched the different kinds of adoptions and read countless stories online. I attended a foster care/adoption orientation at a local adoption agency. I told my parents and certain family members about my decision. After that, I joined a monthly meet-up group for Single Mothers by Choice in Seattle that I meet with regularly. While most of them are pursuing single motherhood via IVF/IUI, there are some of them who are either currently foster parents or in the process to foster-to-adopt. It has been such a relief to share my fears, dreams, hiccups, and victories along the way with the amazing ladies in my SMC group!

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While at home on vacation last month, I told the rest of my family members and friends that I met up with. I would like to say that everyone has been just as excited and encouraging as I had hoped, but that’s not my reality. I even had someone very close to me make a comment about what a shame it was that I would never get to be a “real mom.” Still, the beacon of hope has shone bright through many others who have responded with joyful encouragement and powerful prayers of blessings. And because of that, I’ve been able to stay focused on the positive aspects despite the harsher realities. I know this is an unpopular and rather abnormal route for someone like me to take, but I’ve never really been normal (and I’m totally okay with that) and I really do feel at peace with moving this process along. I have prayed about it, dialogued about it, researched it, and prayed even more. Despite the many discouraging “worst case scenarios” posed by some of those close to me that I’ve told about my decision, I cannot shake the belief that this is the best next thing for me. Many of those I’ve told are worried that this means that I’ll never get married or that I’m giving up on marriage. On the contrary, I believe that God is bigger than that and He will still be able to bring along the right person to parent this adopted child with me. But even if I don’t get to experience my dream of married life, I will be content in knowing that I am building a strong family in a powerful way.

Hands

So why write about this now? Why leave this here? Because tomorrow, I begin the next big step in this process. Tomorrow I will begin my state-required Caregiver Core Training.  I will spend 24 hours preparing myself even more for the rest of this (up to) 2 year process that it will take to welcome a teenager to call my own into my home—who will know that they were chosen in love, prayed for and cared for despite the turmoil they’ve had to endure. I’m capturing this special glimpse into the future here now so that I can look back on this in years to come and thank God for allowing me to be a part of this process—for better or worse and everywhere in between. I want to always remember where this began and watch it unfold in all of its brut-iful glory. My dream and desire is to walk away from this process ready to embrace the most precious gift I could ever ask for—the gift of Motherhood.


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Cinderblock Garden

aliens

Busy, busy, busy . . . that’s what my life can seem like. I like to use the word “FULL,” but y’know, tomayto-tomahto. As I’ve been in conversations recently, I find myself eternally grateful (like those little aliens from Toy Story) for my community of friends near and far. They keep me sane, they keep me laughing, and most of all they keep my life full. Because of them, I find even greater purpose in what I do in life. One of my sweet friends recently asked me, “When do you ever take time off for yourself?” My reply was, “Every chance I can.” 

I realized at that point that it was possible that people considered my work week schedule to be overwhelmingly burdensome, but it’s not. Thinking through that actually helped me to realize how much better I’ve gotten at guarding my life schedule through the years. It can seem a preposterous endeavor to think that my phone would be open to our ministry families and our teens 24/7, but I consider them part of the family (of sorts) and I enjoy being able to use my time to listen to, pray for, and encourage my family. Plus, I’m really bad at reaching out to others, so when I hear from folks it reminds me not to get stuck in my solo bubble. Although it may seem ridiculous now, I’m actually hoping that when I have kids of my own, those opportunities will be equally granted to me and I’ll be able to call on others for a good shoulder to cry on/listening ear/prayer partners.

I will admit that I work a lot, but I never feel that it is burdensome. If anything, my work world only get tough when I don’t offer myself enough grace to rise beyond my failures in each job. For instance, when I make an error in uploading our quarterly journal to our website at The ‘Ol 9 to 5 or when a kids/youth event didn’t go as I planned. I have high hopes that God will continue to work through these situations with me as I continue to grow in Him and in the faith-filled community I am part of. It’s actually quite reassuring to see how much I’ve been able to create good work/non-work divides in my life through the years. I used to be a TERRIBLE workaholic, and now I’m only a mid-level one. ;)

I realize that in the place I’m at in life, my days off look differently than others but I still find time to feed my body, soul, and mind in the mix—you know, like any other normal grown adult. ;) Though some of my days off might include a ministry event, I lucked out with the opportunity to be a part of kids and youth ministry. That means that my events include lots of laughs, fun, and adventure. I feel that if I were a mom with my own kids, I’d be doing similar things on the weekends—I love the idea of having weekly adventures! Also included in my time off is other adulty stuff: trips to get fro-yo, household chores, Netflix binges, family phone calls, working out at the gym, watching copious amounts of YouTube videos, fun research projects, weekly errands, and lots of coffee shop exploration!

Still, there are times that I find my mind focusing on “work” projects during non-work time. Often I find myself watching a TV episode on my laptop and all of a sudden something in the show triggers an idea that I want to incorporate into one or both of my jobs and then my mind just fixates on it, drawing all my attention away from the show and onto the project. I’d be more than open for any ideas on getting better at managing that! In the meantime, I’m taking each battle as it comes.

I really do enjoy being in this season of life where I’m able to have a lot of flexibility in my weekly schedule while still learning boundaries in it. I realize that there will come a time (hopefully soon) where either a guy or a child will come into the picture and in a sense, I’ll be living for two. My life, schedule and focus will change in a lot of interesting ways when that time comes, but right now I am treasuring the life I’m leading here and now.

I enjoy days like today where I sleep in until 10am, watch 3 episodes of Parenthood while eating breakfast & cleaning my room, just before I head out the door to Target, the mall, and late lunch. I enjoy sitting here at Bauhaus coffee shop planning for my upcoming trip to Atlanta and watching people jog and walk around the lake across the street as I enjoy my strong coffee and rice krispy treat while listening to the Bonnie & Clyde soundtrack. I’ll enjoy prepping my meals for the week when I get home later and watching a few more episodes of Parenthood before I call it a night, ready for what awaits tomorrow. But most of all, I’ve enjoyed taking this time to reflect on where I’ve grown in life and the joy I’ve had in writing my thoughts out here for you to read. Thanks for sharing life with me!


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Counting Rope

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The counting rope knots never lie

One. Two. Three. Four. Five.

One brave little girl that dared to dare

Two adults running fast, running scared

Three more days to plan the escape

Four hours spent cutting cautious red tape

Five years of fearful regrets fill my eyes

Another knot now, welling up in my core

Hold out the rope and reach for the drawer

One little lighter fueling this fighter

Two clicks to flame, blaze burning brighter

Three knots engulfed in the sun-kissed gleam

Four burning burdens give way to new dreams

Five tears of freedom lead to something more

The counting rope singed in a pile on the ground.

What was has been burned, new endeavors abound.


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Greatest Love Of All

Winston Churchill once said, “History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.” I was at a youth conference years ago when I heard those words repeated and they have stuck with me since. It was a constant reminder that we have a chance each day to set up ourselves and our world for a bright future. The change and the hope that we push to the forefront of our lives to reveal to others carries with it much merit. Like many, I crave purpose and want to know that what I am doing makes a difference.  For that reason, I have made it a point to keep that mentality posed by Churchill at the heart of the things I invest my life in. I want to have a bright future, and likewise I want the generations to follow to have a fulfilling and bright future.

After grabbing breakfast, we headed over to her school where I got the grand tour, met her teaching teammates and helped set up for the day.

After grabbing breakfast, we headed over to her school where I got the grand tour, met her teaching teammates and helped set up for the day.

One of the simple ways I was able to invest in the future lately was volunteering at a local school. One of our Westside Kids ministry workers is a teacher there and after hearing more about her passion to see kids succeed in life, I asked if I could come in and serve alongside her to bless the class. She works at Seattle’s first charter school in the city. This particular charter school is both an educating school and social services agency for children and families struggling with the risks and realities of homelessness. Their school provides Pre-Kindergarten through 6th grade education for traumatized, abused, or homeless children. For the families, they provide wrap-around social services to stabilize their housing and end the crises which put them at risk of homelessness. This school seeks to break they cycle of poverty and homelessness.

After assisting kids with questions during their Math Quiz, I would listen as the kids would take turns quietly reading their books to me. One boy pulled me over to this pole and proudly showed off that he could say all of the words posted on it!

After assisting kids with questions during their Math Quiz, I would listen as the kids would take turns quietly reading their books to me. One boy pulled me over to this pole and proudly showed off that he could say all of the words posted on it!

It may seem odd to volunteer at a school where I have no kids (because I don’t have kids at all) but I found it valuable to give my time and energy to invest in a crew of kids that my teammate was investing in daily. One of my younger nieces currently attends a different brand/style of Charter School back home and I know that if I lived there still, I would offer the same services to the teachers there. It was an honor and blessing to work with this particular crew of kids and to serve my friend/their teacher in some simple but impactful ways. I walked away with such a positive experience and a renewed passion for the younger generation!

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As a volunteer, I got to sit with them in story time at the Library and lead them in a class craft about Harriet Tubman. The Library time was awesome because two of them crowded around me and snuggled in as the Librarian read the story. Then, they let me help them pick out books (oh Heaven!). It was also great to work with them on crafts and to see their wonder and awe at the flip books that they got to make and take home! 

I am looking forward to volunteering in her class once a month and getting to know everyone better. Her kids definitely think, behave, and feel differently than most kids I’ve worked with in the past, but to see them grow beyond their limitations is exciting. One of the kids in her class particularly has severe learning and behavioral disorders so they have a special aide that stays in class to assist with that one child. Still, their classmates cheered on when progress was noted and made sure that that child felt loved and included. It was also so sweet that the classroom kiddos were asking questions about the kids that go to our church—if we do crafts, what we do to have fun, and if we have church every day. While these kids may never get a chance to darken the door of our church in Ballard, I do love that they get to experience the love of Christ through their daily interactions with their phenomenal teacher, Ms. Reddy!

Social Studies time included a book about Harriet Tubman and her work with the Underground Railroad.

Social Studies time included a book about Harriet Tubman and her work with the Underground Railroad. The kids loved hearing about Harriet Tubman during Social Studies and were even able to correlate the information from the class book to others they had read in their free time. When they heard that Harriet wasn’t allowed to go to school, they chimed in agreement that it was probably because schools weren’t built in her time. It was fun to hear their varying perspectives and to enlighten them as they asked their questions.

What about you? Have you ever volunteered at a local school/community center/church? If so, what was your experience like? If not, what has been holding you back?

I'm super proud of all the hard work that my friend (and teachers like her) put in to give kids a chance to learn and build confidence. If you know a teacher in your life, please give them a great big hug and a word of encouragement—it means a LOT!

I’m super proud of all the hard work that my friend (and teachers like her) put in to give kids a chance to learn and build confidence. If you know a teacher in your life, please give them a great big hug and a word of encouragement—it means a LOT!

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