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my life in my words


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Golden Hour

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So proud of this dude and all he’s accomplished!

Sometimes you just need to take a break from life and rest easy in the peace that comes from a change of scenery and joyful moments with faraway friends while keeping your past connected to your future. Last year when I made the move down from Seattle to Austin one of my youth students (J.Money) accompanied me on the journey. On the road, he read me his college application letter—which included a sweet paragraph about how I was a primary positive influence in his life—and he asked if I would come to his graduation at the end of the school year. I thought it would be a great trip back to take and would be a fun way to celebrate such a special milestone moment in his life. So I told him I would be there and a couple of months later, I booked my flight back to Seattle for the summer of 2018.

In the past month, some family circumstances came up that could have potentially held me back from going on this trip, and I actually considered just canceling the trip altogether. However, thanks to the support and wisdom of my close friends, I decided to go ahead and make the trip happen! Shortly before leaving, I had some difficult conversations with people I loved and their response was not what I anticipated. The whole situation left me feeling weak and defeated. I felt so lost in the muddy mess, and as I boarded the flight to Seattle, I hoped and prayed that God would bring peace and light to my wounds and discouragement. I knew I needed some saturated free time around my Seattle family of friends and I clung to it during my stay.

Each day I got to spend time being refreshed and supported by at least 4 different friends, not to mention my amazing friend Allison, her husband and son, who opened their home for me to stay while in town. I also had opportunities to wander casually around the city I love so much and remember some of my favorite times. The cherry on top was watching J.Money graduate! He was just starting Middle School when he started attending my Youth Ministry in Seattle and as he grew in faith, he became one of our best Kid’s Ministry Small Group Leaders + live storytellers + kids worship leaders. It was an honor to help him navigate faith + life, especially helping him share his ‘coming out’ story to his family, and being able to walk through life side-by-side with him and his family each step of the way. I cannot wait to see all that God does in his life as he pursues faith and education to become a teacher!

My trip to Seattle was definitely needed and it brought new dreams, goals, and a reaffirmation that I am exactly where I need to be in my life and career. If you ever get a chance to get away from your daily routine and just surround yourself with people who breathe life and joy into you, do it—you won’t regret it! Also, if you ever get a chance to hop a flight to Seattle, you’ll be blown away by the beauty of the Pacific Northwest—the tall trees, the stillness of water everywhere, and a wonderland at every turn—you won’t regret that either!

Enjoy some snaps from my trip: 

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Opinions Around Town

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Let is never be said that Seattle is short on words . . .

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Congratulations to J.Money! The principal at his school gave one of the best graduation speeches I’ve ever heard. I wish they had recorded it so I could share.

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LOVED teaming up with my wing girl/best friend Heather to surprise my Bestie mom, Patti for brunch! // The only downside to the trip is that while closing the trunk of my friend’s SUV, I didn’t realize how heavy the door was and didn’t step back far enough. The result was the trunk coming down hard on my nose! Not sure if it’s broken, but it hurt so bad!

 

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Delicate

Can we go back to Easter? Alrighty then, let’s . . . 

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Many might believe that my job is all about pastoring youth—for the most part it is—but it also includes an array of other roles to fill. For instance, I also have the opportunity to participate in our Creative Team Meetings and contribute designs used for message series on Sunday mornings. (In fact, I designed the mosaic pattern used in our Easter message graphic seen above.) I also design supplemental promotional items for events and ministries used inside and outside the four walls of our church. From time to time I get to take on special creative projects that stretch my heart and mind in all the best ways. This past Easter’s creative project was no exception. When our lead pastor explained his message focus for Easter Sunday, he brought up an ancient art form I had never heard of before—KINTSUGI. Kintsugi is a Japanese art form where broken pottery is repaired using gold to highlight the broken pieces, teaching that broken pieces are not meant to be hidden, but proudly displayed in all their beautiful brokenness. 

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When a bowl, teapot or precious vase falls and breaks into a thousand pieces, we throw them away angrily and regretfully. Yet there is an alternative, a Japanese practice that highlights and enhances the breaks thus adding value to the broken object. It’s called kintsugi (金継ぎ), or kintsukuroi (金繕い), literally golden (“kin”) and repair (“tsugi”). This traditional Japanese art uses a precious metal – liquid gold, liquid silver or lacquer dusted with powdered gold – to bring together the pieces of a broken pottery item and at the same time enhance the breaks. The technique consists in joining fragments and giving them a new, more refined aspect. Every repaired piece is unique, because of the randomness with which ceramics shatters and the irregular patterns formed that are enhanced with the use of metals.

— STEFANO CARNAZZI (LifeGate.com)

The focus of our Easter message was about how the Resurrection of Jesus repairs what was once broken and gives us a new opportunity to repair some broken pieces in ourselves to shine the glory and goodness of God. We wanted to use the art of Kintsugi to illustrate the beauty of Jesus’ restoration. I was intrigued by this art form and decided to take on the project, not knowing how it would heal my own heart and mind as I invested time and energy into it. My first task involved tracking down 7 identical ceramic pieces. We needed 5 of them in original condition so that our Pastor could display and break the ceramic onstage in real time during the message. We needed 2 others that would be broken beforehand and have Kintsugi applied to them for a big reveal toward the end of each message. (I made two just in case one of them got broken during transition onto the stage.) So off to Hobby Lobby I went and after cleaning out the stores in San Marcos and some in Austin, I finally found 7 of the same gray ceramic pitchers on sale! After the pitchers were broken, I realized just how difficult this art form was—like putting an intricate puzzle of broken shards back together. The large pieces were pretty easy to tackle, but once you go to the smaller pieces, the level of difficulty increased.

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In the week that led up to the services, I worked hard to creatively repair the broken pitchers through this beautiful art form. (Thanks to this great DIY blog post! and a gold leaf substitution) As I glued pieces back together, I prayed that God would use this illustration to speak truth and freedom to those in the services. I asked God to repair some broken pieces in my own heart as well. I asked God to help me to find beauty in all of my broken parts—and He came through time over time over time. I was able to have some heart-shaping discussions with trusted friends and take brave steps to embrace difficult moments of life. After spending hours and hours of meticulous glueing, epoxy application around each edge, holding pieces to set, and filling in each line and hole with gold leaf, I finally had two beautiful displays of restoration. The patience, perseverance, and dedication finally paid off!

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Was it time consuming? Yes it definitely was. It was also very empowering to discover a new art form that spoke to my creative soul and inspired me to embrace Easter with a renewed hope and joy. Was it difficult? Yes it definitely was. It also gave me a better grip on patience and perseverance. Was it worth it? ABSOLUTELY! As I sat in each of our Easter services and saw the illustration in action, the message came to life more and more. After each service, I was able to have meaningful conversations with others who were deeply impacted by the message and the visual reminder of the hope and restoration they can walk out in their own lives. Through tears, smiles, and wonder, we all embraced the Resurrection story with a renewed sense of grace and truth. One of the final pieces rests on the bookshelf in my Pastor’s office and each time I walk by and see it, I’m reminded of the goodness and beauty of faith in Christ. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to step into this project and create something that revealed God’s goodness to people in our community seeking healing, hope, and acceptance—brokenness and all. 

Here is a video of our Easter Sunday message.
I hope it inspires you as much as it did for me:


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Dig Your Roots

“Blessed is the man who gets the opportunity to devote
his life to something bigger than himself and who finds himself
surrounded by friends who share his passion.”

— Andy Stanley, Deep & Wide

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On July 7th, 2008, I embarked on a journey full of adventures I couldn’t even begin to imagine. I simply knew two things:

  1. God gave me a burning passion to influence faith, hope, and purpose into the lives of young people in Seattle. I’ve always had a heart for youth ministry and the opportunity to impact youth in a city that battled Seasonal Affective Disorder, The Seattle Freeze (it’s legit, y’all), and a disdain for faith organizations was a challenge I was ready to face and embrace.
  2. I felt a strong connection to Westside Church and wanted to pursue ministry there. I had previously visited the church (among others) during a pre-move trip to Seattle and it was the only church that I checked out that gave me the same sense of community as I had back in Texas.

Over the past few years I’ve had the opportunity to fulfill that passionate calling through serving as volunteer youth pastor (building from the ground up) at Westside, and then additionally stepping into a part-time paid position as the Children’s Director/Graphic Design Assistant. Being offered the position of Children’s Director was a new adventure altogether because youth ministry was my first love, but I decided that helping them to rebuild the Children’s Ministry would be worthwhile if I could set it up with a structure and strategy to provide easier connection between kid’s ministry and youth ministry, so I took the gladly took the job. Over the past couple of years, through serving as both youth and children’s pastor, God had birthed a new vision and passion in me—one that played even more to my strengths and opened me up to new challenges. That freshly sparked passion pointed me in a direction to develop myself into a Family Ministry Pastor (aka NextGen Pastor) to help connect each age and phase from birth through college with strategic programming and leadership to build a more lasting and more meaningful faith for ministry leaders, children, and families.

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My first two youth kiddos and their friends at Candy Zone back in 2009!

In the middle of ministry pursuit at Westside, I felt that I was in a good place in my life to begin the fostering journey of training and discovery, which I did. At the beginning of this year, the senior leaders at the church decided it was time to transition me out of the Youth Pastor role completely and have me focus solely on being the Children’s Pastor. I felt like this shift in leadership was my go-ahead to pursue the next step in bringing JoJo into my home to foster. Through that season of life, not only did I love fostering and leading at the church, but those passions to pursue a future as NextGen Pastor increased. Although I did my very best—above and beyond—to be the parent that JoJo needed, it didn’t work out for us. So I was left grieving and picking up the pieces of a broken heart. In the middle of that, I discovered that despite the pain and the strange new season of ministry life, I was still very passionate about two things: foster care and being a NextGen Pastor. Don’t get me wrong, I love kids ministry and I love our Westside Kids, but the dream and passion for something bigger always left me feeling like I had some big energy inside that was being contained in a soda can. I knew that I would never be able to reach my full potential solely in the Children’s Director role. Once I picked up pieces and let the dust settle from all that had happened after losing JoJo, I prayed with open hands for God to guide me to the next right thing and I strongly believed it was to pursue that NextGen Pastor role. However, through many conversations, meetings, assessments, and experiments, over the past year and a half (and more importantly, the last month or so) I’ve come to discover that there is no such role for me in the future at Westside Church.

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My first Sunday at Westside as the Children’s Director

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Dan Matlock (who I had served under back in my hometown of Austin, TX before I moved out to Seattle) gave me a call that opened a door to a new adventure! I had left Austin on great terms and with full support from Dan and his wife, Kelly. We had stayed in touch over the years and they even came to see me when I was recovering from my horrible wisdom tooth surgery fiasco. A few years ago, Dan and Kelly started a church plant in the San Marcos, TX area called EIKON CHURCH. Through the years, Dan and I had many conversations about strategy and leadership development for kids and youth ministry and also shared life insights/struggles, etc. He valued my insight and respected my role in NextGen ministry leadership. So after wrestling with what the future of this burning passion would look like now that I couldn’t do what I wanted to do at Westside, I was relieved to get the call from Dan who presented me with an amazing opportunity. He offered me a full-time ministry position as their Youth Pastor for a season with direct advancement into the NextGen Pastor role. I love Eikon Church—their mission, values, leadership team, beliefs and practices—so after serious thought, prayer, deeper discussions with friends and mentors, I decided to sign on the dotted line and accept the position into the next great adventure that God is leading me on. That new adventure officially begins at the beginning of September, which allows me to wrap up the next couple of months here with Vacation Bible School and special moments with dear friends before making the drive down to Texas over Labor Day weekend. God has completely opened all the doors to make things happen for this next step and I am equal parts excited to pursue what’s next and sad to say goodbye to people that I love.

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Adventure awaits at Eikon Church this September!

With any big transition comes and onslaught of questions and mind games. I wanted to take some space here to clear up some possible questions/thoughts you might have in light of this big move back to Texas:

  • This move is NOT because I don’t love the people at Westside Church. I have been able to build community connections that are so deep and lasting that people aren’t just friends, they’re family. I love the kids and the youth and the families at Westside, but it’s just not a possibility for me to serve them in the capacity that I want to. I believe that God is going to bless Westside with a new Children’s Director who will help to build on what’s already begun and make it even better.
  • This move is NOT because I lost JoJo. I know that she is in a loving, caring, safe, environment where she can get the care that she needs to have a truly successful future. I will miss her dearly and I love her with every ounce of my being, but I know that there are better things ahead for her and I rest assured that God is watching over her and surrounding her with love and healing. I don’t regret parenting her for the season I did and I’m not disappointed in her or myself despite the circumstances. I will continue to pursue foster care outlets in Texas and move toward getting licensed as a foster/adoptive parent there.
  • This move is NOT because of the recent passing of my grandma (Mamo). This decision was actually made before her passing, and while it will be nice to be closer to my family, they are not the reason I am making the move. I will be living with friends in South Austin, about 30 minutes away from Eikon Church. So while it will be nice to drive up to North Austin where my family is on the weekends, I’ll still be able to have space for personal/ministry life.

This move is simply about following God’s direction and pursuing a passion for ministry in a place where I will be able to fully pursue it. This is an exciting season of life and I hope to be able to leave Seattle with even more treasured memories, and to set Westside Kids up for success under the helm of a new leader. It’s been an honor to serve families at Westside and to be part of a greater family of friends here in Seattle. I hope to come back to visit each year and keep everyone updated on adventures over time through this blog and social media. I would appreciate any and all prayers during this transitional season as there are a lot of to-do’s and changes up ahead. Let’s just remember—I’m not dying, just moving a couple of time zones away!

Don’t say goodbye, just say “Good Journey”


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Something Wild

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I did something a few days ago that is equally frightening and exciting . . . 

No, no, I didn’t try to do a cartwheel on my broken toe . . .
Nor did I attempt to make a paper mâché liger . . .

No, no . . . I . . .

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downloaded a Back-To-School Supply List!!!

That’s right, in about a month (or so) I’m going to be a mom—to an amazing teenager!! After my 3rd Homestudy visit last week, we talked timeline and the guesstimated placement of a kiddo in my home will be the beginning or middle of September. Right now, I’m rushing to get things ready for my home inspection this upcoming Friday. At the same time, I’m preparing for our annual Vacation Bible School next week, a visit from my dad over the next two weeks, and prepping curriculum/leaders for Westside Kids and 2Twelve Student Ministries to launch a new school year soon. Did I mention that all of this is happening as I’m recovering from a broken toe & toe surgery? Yeah, I guess you could say I’m an overachiever . . . or insane, either works. 😉

I am beyond amazed by the incredible support I’ve received from friends and family during this time of chaotic transition. The meals, the moving help, the unpacking and building help, help from our Westside Kids/2Twelve team, help from co-workers at #TheOld9to5, the prayers, the laughs, the hugs—all of it has meant the world to me! And now as I am a month away from getting the apartment ready for Kiddo to join the party, I’m reaching out to ask if any of you would consider helping me build a great home by contributing some home furnishing/family needs. Many have asked how they can help and what needs I still have before Kiddo gets here, and to help with that, I’ve created some registries and other support options. Here they are:

PRAYER REQUESTS:

  • A smooth transition from their previous living arrangement into my apartment
  • That the foster/adoption grants that I’m applying for go through, to help offset the agency and court costs
  • For Kiddo to feel welcome, wanted, and valued in my family/friend community
  • Wisdom in parenting, community building, family rhythm setting, and self-care
  • That there will be a lessened strain on ministry/work life in the transition

 

GIFT/CARD CONTRIBUTIONS:

Gift cards in any amount to any of the following places will be greatly appreciated:
Target, IKEA, Wal-Mart, QFC, Fred Meyer, Amazon, Regal Cinema, Starbucks

Additionally, if you would like to write an encouraging/inspirational note to Kiddo, you are more than welcome to!

If you need my mailing address for cards/gift cards, please send me a private message on my FACEBOOK.

 

GIFT REGISTRIES:

At Target: Amo’s Housewarming Registry

At IKEA: Shopping List

At Amazon: AMOdoption Shower

 

I know that we are all in different seasons of life, so please know that any of the supports listed above (regardless of money spent) is greatly appreciated! Thank you for everything you are doing to help build a safe, caring, environment for a precious child to become part of a forever family!

 

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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.

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[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

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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!