Monday, December 27, 2010

Giving Thanks

Christmas decorations are officially coming down today. I honestly can't believe how quickly the time went. Christmas was a whirl-wind of traveling, celebrating, best friends, family, laughing... it was simply perfect. Probably the best Christmas I've ever had. My hear is full of thanks when I look back and realize just how beautiful my Christmas was. I'm thankful for a family (both biological and "adopted") who loves me without limits. I'm thankful for God's ever-present hand in my life. I'm thankful for the way my heart felt full for the first time in years. I'm thankful for the diversity that is my life. I'm thankful for what's next. Ringing in the New Year is something I absolutely love. Not only is it a time to look forward to the new possibilities and potential ahead of me, but it is also a time to stop. To look back. To reflect. To give thanks. To CELEBRATE the trials I've come through in the past year. To acknowledge that it was a hard year, but I survived it. Not only did I survive it, but I lived through it. I kept taking steps. Even if they were itty, bitty, tiny baby steps, they were steps that I continued to take. It would have been so easy to hide it, to bury it, to deny the reality of the things I needed to face and to push it back under the rug. And walk away. But instead, I faced it head on. It was hard. There was nothing easy about it, but I'm thankful to look back and see the progress. See the growth. See the joy. See that God doesn't give up on his children. See that he will always redeems his promises. I love what Paul says in Philippians 1 ...."And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns." This is a verse that, in this past year, I took with me. I would post it on my mirror, in my bathroom, on my desk, in my car. I'd take it with me. In my pocket. A constant reminder that God's work is NOT done, and he will continue his good work in me.
So today, I am excited. I am thankful. I am full of hope. A new year is just around the corner. I couldn't be happier. Not happy in a "I'm-so-stinking-glad-this-darn-year-is-over" kind of way, but in a "Look-at-what-God's-done-in-a-year" kind of way.
I can't wait to share some of my goals for 2011... but that's another Blog.

Here's a picture of me celebrating my 26th birthday. I'm 26. That's wild.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Living from the present

My days have a certain familiarity to them.
Tuesdays and Thursdays I wake up before the sun, hit the trails (usually 2-4 miles)
Home by 7
Eat breakfast
Head to "my spot" (AKA Eureka Way Starbucks) for an hour or so of journaling and reading.
Then head to work!
After that, the routine just consists of work-type stuff... meetings, e-mails, copies, phone calls, more meetings... you get the gist.

The rest of the week is pretty similar... there are things that I do every week at the same time in the same order. I like order. I like structure. I like routine.

That's why trips home are hard for me.
Not sleeping in my own bed, not sticking to my schedule, no structure, no routine, no familiarity. It can make me turn into a bit of a grouch.
SO, today among the chaos that ensues during this season, I found some familiarity. I hit the trail bright and early (letting myself sleep in a whole half an hour!!) then headed to Starbucks... it felt good. It felt familiar. I needed that.

You see, home doesn't really feel so much like home anymore. I was born and raised in Arcata, CA. I went to elementary through high school with the same people. When I moved away, I began to form new friendships, new families, a new "home". So, when I come back, the old memories rush back to me. The places of my youth almost seem to haunt me. I drive by places and remember the time spent there, the times associated with the places, the pain associated with those times. You can see how it would become a bit overwhelming.
But this year, this trip home, I vowed it would be different. I vowed to take the work God's been doing in me and let it stand as a new foundation in my life. I wouldn't be knocked down this time. I would bring my new routines and my new, healthy life along with me and let it meet the "ghost of Christmas' past" if you will.
And today, that's exactly what I did.
I'm no longer that scared little girl.
I'm no longer that wounded high schooler.
I'm no longer that confused 18 year-old.
My life is a new life. And that's where I'm living from today. Not from the past that always tries to haunt me, but from the present, and from the place that God has brought me.
What a beautiful day it was.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Home for the Holidays

This morning I headed West to the city of my youth: Arcata, CA. Every year, I dread the drive but am pleasantly surprised by how quickly it goes!! I found myself racking up a list of things I was thankful for as I braved the snow-covered mountains and the crazy semi-truck drivers. Here it is:
Today, I am thankful for
-The 2 Highway Patrol officers who didn't ticket me, although they caught me going WELL over the speed limit. (They didn't pull me over, but I know that they knew that I knew that I was speeding!)
-The kind truck driver who pulled over FINALLY, after me impatiently following him for MILES.
-Brandon Flowers, who sang to me the entire car ride.
-Dutch Bros for supplying me with caffeine to brave the trip.
-Small pockets of cell reception right where I'm stuck for the 4 different one-way controlled traffic stops.
-My insane ability to "hold-it" even though I desperately needed to pee 45 minutes into my 3 hour drive. (I didn't want to get stuck behind that dang truck AGAIN!!)
-HUGE rock slides (aka 300 giant boulders in the middle of the highway... crazy!)

All in all it was a delightful drive. I made it safely (although, NOT in record time... thanks one-way controlled traffic!!) and am excited for a few days of rest and relaxation over here behind the "Redwood Curtain" with my beloved familia. Merry Christmas y'all.

Here's a picture of the rock slide the FIRST time it slid... it must have slid a few more times because when I drove by it was much bigger! Crazy.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Chaning of Seasons

Today was perfect.
I woke up late, spilled my coffee, got to church late, forgot a bunch of stuff, misplaced my keys, misplaced my half-spilled coffee (about a dozen times), forgot to give multiple people multiple things, left my breakfast on the kitchen counter, didn't remember that ONE really important thing for that ONE really important person... but amidst all this chaos,
Today was perfect.
Why, you ask?
Because I'm full of joy.
It's been a while.
This past season of my life has been a difficult one. For many reasons.
During the hardest parts, I remember asking the people walking the closest with me "Will I ever just have JOY again?" because, during those agonizing times, the joy wasn't there. I was full of hurt. And sorrow. And grief. And anger. And unforgiveness. And pain. Lots of pain. I never thought the joy would return. It was like, one day it was just gone. And in it's place were all of those other, difficult feelings. I couldn't figure it out... WHY pain? WHY so much of it? WHY me? WHY now?
I found myself on my face before God asking these questions everyday. So angry with him. So confused. So frustrated. Will I ever just have joy again? I began to think the answer was no.
I was wrong.
Because today, there I was, sitting in a blue pew, looking out at a group of kids, singing songs about Jesus, and my heart was overflowing with joy. Not just the "I-fee-so-happy-right-now" kind of joy. No, it was much bigger than that. That's just an emotion. This, my friends, was more like a change of season.
From a season of pain to a season of joy.
The great part about this is that, although hard times will come, they won't seem so hard now. When your posture is that of joy, even the most impossible things have a way of working themselves out.
That is why today was perfect.
It marks the beginning of a new season for me; a season of joy.
That, AND my kids (not really MY kids, but I feel that way sometimes... that's another blog I've yet to write...) got up and kicked some major booty singing this morning. There were some major bloopers, but that's what makes it so much fun.
I love what I do.
Here's a great picture captured by the lovely Georgia.
It was a good time.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Starting Over

I overheard a conversation between a one of my Sunday School teachers and a 2nd grader this past Sunday. The issue was that free play was over, and all of the toys needed to be put away. This particular student was in tears. She was devastated. She did not want to put her puzzle away. She had been working ALL morning on that puzzle. She skipped out on the fun group activity and a handful of other things to diligently work on her puzzle. When her teacher announced that free play was over, she was told to put the puzzle away. The rest of the day would be spent doing guided activities and lesson time; no more time for the puzzle. This was the point in which this well-behaved, sweet tempered little girl lost it. She started crying, sobbing, protesting this sudden change in activities. When her teacher caught sight of what seemed to be an unprovoked melt-down, she pulled this little one aside, and this is the conversation I heard:
teacher - "What's up? Why are you so upset??"
little one - "I'm not ready to put it away!!"
teacher - "Put your puzzle away? But it's time to move on, we have a lot to get done today sweetie."
little one - "But I don't want to start over... I CAN'T start over. It's too hard, I worked really, really, really hard on it. I don't want to start over. Please don't make me start over..."
To which her teacher simply replied "I know sweetie. I know..."
I'm not sure how the teacher resolved this problem because at this point my eyes were brimming with tears, and I had to walk away.
There was so much truth in this 7 year-old's declaration.
Some days it seems too hard.
We don't want to start over.
We simply think we CANNOT start over.
It's too confusing.
We've put too much work into our lives, into our past, our puzzle.
We beg and plead with God to let us continue living our lives.
But he always calls us to start over, doesn't he?
At some point, he tells us it's time to start over.
I've been spending a lot of time in the book of Romans lately.
Today I was reading in Romans 6, and all I could think about was the conversation I'd heard on Sunday between the 2nd grader and her teacher.
Isn't Romans 6 all about starting over? Isn't it telling us of the amazing, new opportunity we have right in front of us? Sin's power is broken! We are slaves to it NO MORE! We are given the chance to start over. To leave that old, broken, messed up life behind and start new.
Sure, we've probably put a lot of work and devotion into that old life. But it's a broken life. It has no promise. It holds no good thing for us.
Sure it's hard to walk away.
It's scary
It's confusing
It's painful
It gives us doubts
But the reward.... oh it's so beautiful.
If you know me, you know I have a pretty large tattoo on my arm. It took hours to complete. It's something I thought about for over a year before pursuing. To me, it depicts the freedom I found in Christ. The way he set me free from my past, from my old life. It basically captures the essence of Romans 6 in a picture through my eyes.
People look at it, and they see a million things... they try to guess what each thing symbolizes. When they ask me what it means, or what it represents, I simply say "God gave me a new life."

Isn't that what starting over is really about? A new chance. A new life.
And do you know what the greatest news of all is? It's never too late to start over. It's never to late to say YES to God and start over with this new, beautiful, wonderful, free life he promises us.
I know, for me it seemed impossible. My past seemed TOO ugly, TOO messed up, TOO hard to be forgiven. For a long time, I felt like I needed to live in the pain of my mistakes and the wreckage of my old life... until finally, one day, a friend of mine helped me realize that no matter how bad I felt, I could never feel bad enough. Christ paid the price for ALL of it. Everything. Even the stuff I thought was too ugly and hard and awful to be forgiven. It was all forgiven, and it was time for me to start over. Because, you see, I'd been rescued.
I'd been given a new life.
And it was from THAT life that I should be living.

I know it all seems a little all over the place... the Sunday School conversation, the tattoo, the puzzle, new life, forgiveness, starting over... but in my opinion, they are all related. Wouldn't you agree?

Monday, December 13, 2010

It's Monday again

The good news is I don't have jury duty tomorrow... I've got to check in again at 5 tomorrow to see if I have it Wednesday.
The bad news is I'm still sick. And it's getting worse. Still a mouth breather. Gross. In the last few days, I've found myself thinking "Ahh, I can't wait to blog about this!!!" but due to my sickness, I'm uber-exhausted and my brain is still functioning at about a 65%. I listened to an amazing pod cast from Rob Bell. It was insane. I took about 15 pages of notes. I can't wait to share. Maybe tomorrow. For now, it's more NyQuil and Puffs Plus. And some sleep.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

It's official

I have a cold. Not like a little, baby cold. This is the real deal. I've become a mouth breather. Gross. My lips are chapped beyond repair due to the inability to breath out of my nose. My nose hurts from excessive blowing. I walked around church this morning in a bit of a haze. The NyQuil hadn't quite worn off, and the DayQuil hadn't kicked in yet. So I wandered about, not making much sense when talking to people. If you saw me today, and I appeared to be in a different universe, I apologize. I blame the cold meds :) I'll tell you what though, having a cold makes you thankful for a few things. Such as:
-Puffs plus aloe and lotion. Those tissues are luxurious to my poor nose
-Travel-sized puffs plus. Yep, they make them. And I have them. It's a good day
-NyQuil and DayQuil (but mostly NyQuil)

I'm hoping this sickness passes. It's turned my brain to mush! I couldn't hold a conversation with ANYONE. And I sure couldn't remember anything I needed to ask anyone. Bummer. Here's to hoping I don't get Jury Duty on top of my nasty cold...

Friday, December 10, 2010

Feeling thankful today

Since my "Gratitude Challenge" has ended, I've found myself overwhelmed with thanks, and anxious to share it! Today, I'm very thankful. Thankful for friends who have shared in this journey with me, all of the journey (even the unbelievably hard parts) and who are MORE overjoyed than I am to celebrate what God's brought me through. Thankful for the people God brought alongside me during the times that seem unbearable, who cheered me on when I was just SURE I couldn't go through another day. Today, I was able to sit with a dear friend and celebrate the progress and the way God's used the past season of my life. At one point, we both fought back the tears, talking about how faithful and GOOD God has been to me... talking about how, only months ago, I was in such a different, much more painful place. We were able to rejoice together, and I'm thankful for that. I'm thankful for who this woman has been to me through all of this pain and all of the struggles. She's held my hand, prayed countless prayers for me, cried with me, laughed with me, cried some MORE with me, told me "it won't be this bad forever"countless times. Today I am thankful for tears of excitement, joy and thanks instead of tears of pain, grief and heartache. Thankful for moments where all is right in life. Thankful for the aligning of my mind and my heart. Thankful for my friend Alyssa and the way the Lord has used her in my life. Today is a good day. I'm full of hope. And thanks. And pumpkin scones :)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


In my last post, I talked about how God chose me. A girl without all of the credentials. A girl who didn't have a clue, but a girl who said yes to God. And meant it.

When I said yes, it changed everything. In one moment at a Life Group in a stranger's living room, God changed everything. I said yes, and my yes meant so many things for me.
It meant walking away from a group of people who I thought were my family.
It meant leaving the only place of work I'd known for 6 years.
It meant entering into a position where I felt clueless and unqualified 99.9% of the time.
It meant facing some big challenges and obstacles with boldness, faith and confidence.

Now, please hear me right, no one in my life was asking me to quit my job at Red Robin, walk away from friendships and start over. That wasn't the case at all. Through a series of events (well, one event actually; back surgery) I had to leave my job. After leaving my job, it became clear to me that the people I left behind weren't exactly the family I had once thought them to be. I mean no disrespect. I love many of them still, but by saying yes to God, I began to realize that He had so much more for me. He wanted more for me. Which made me begin to want more for myself.

My yes to God was a difficult yes. One that I questioned time and time again.
"Am I REALLY cut out for this?"
I found myself asking that question out loud on a daily basis... waiting for someone to finally say "NO, YOU'RE NOT!!" so that I could pack up and head back to my old life, where things were easy and comfortable and familiar. Instead, I had people telling me everyday "There's no doubt in our minds that you're the one for this position. We wouldn't want anybody else doing what you're doing." I began to realize that, although I didn't fit the typical mold for what a "Children's Ministry Director" was supposed to look like, God chose me. And he made that clear to those around me. You see, it didn't matter that I'd never attended a day of Sunday School in my life. God wanted to use me, and because I said yes, he would continue to lead me.

I've been told on more than one occasion that I have an "Esther" calling. I'd have to say, I agree! Not because Esther was bold or had the Lord's favor, but because Esther was different, but she was different on PURPOSE! I've been placed on a team of people who have grown up in church their entire lives. They've gone to Christian colleges and attended countless retreats and Bible studies and Worship nights and Sunday School classes. They come from Christian families, with fathers who are pastors. Not me. I'd never stepped foot in a church until I was 22. I had no idea who Moses was, or what the Lord's Prayer was, or why people were raising their hands while they were singing, or why a bucket was being passed around and people were putting money into it. I was clueless. But God chose me. He made me different on my team, but different on purpose. My life is different and my story is different, but God chooses that life and that story too. He wants it all, and here I am, still saying yes to him.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Sunday: Part II

My last post talked about Nate's message from Sunday. I talked about how, sometimes, we need to be reminded that God sees something in us that we don't see. That he knows we can get through all of the turmoil and pain and discouragement and healing and struggling because he's the one that chose us.
Another part of Nate's message focused on WHO God chooses. Nate said it best: "He chooses nobodies from nowhere."
He chose a girl from a Non-Christian home
Who didn't know him at all
Who made way too many mistakes
Who struggled and stumbled and fell
Many times
Too many times
Who had a very messy past
Who had never been to church or Sunday School or Bible Study
Who didn't (and doesn't) know all of the fancy "Church Lingo"
Who had been hurt
Who had a passion and a calling but didn't realize it
Who said "yes" in a moment, and everything changed.

God chose me. I'm not sure why. I didn't fit the bill. I was all wrong. From the wrong family, the wrong town, the wrong past. But He chose me. He saw something in me. And I said yes to him. My yes meant so many things for me. Hard things. Painful things. Sad things. Amazing things. Powerful things... but I'll leave that for tomorrow's post.

I have to share a "blooper" from today's Christmas Card photo shoot with y'all.

Yep, that's Rocky attacking me. Sweet thing.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


Today was a whirl-wind of business!
Up at 5:30
At the church at 7:15
Set up
Team shows up (well, the part of the team that wasn't ill!)
Kids Meeting
Prep classrooms
Kids show up
Christmas song practice
Christmas craft picture-taking
Parents up up kids
Repeat the last 7 steps for the 11:00 service
Tear down
Lock up
Lunch at Chipotle
Bake scones (yum!)
Talk w/ Roomies
And here I am. Sitting in bed. Blogging away.
PHEW, Sunday's are a BUSY day!

Tonight, Nate spoke out of Luke 1. The part of the story where the angle shows up to Mary and tells her that she's going to give birth to the son of God. And Mary says yes. Nate really landed on the fact that Mary was a young, YOUNG lady from a no-where town. But God chose her. And she said yes. The part of Nate's message that really struck me was that when God chooses us, He knows what he's doing. He knows that we can get through the extremely hard, discouraging times, because WE didn't choose us, HE chose us. And when he chooses us, he sees something in us that we can't see. He knows the men and women we're becoming, so we have to trust him. Trust that when he chooses us, and we say yes, that he really knows what he's doing. Am I making any sense? This was such a profound and pertinent realization for me tonight.

I want to elaborate, but I'm exhausted, and my brain seems to be shutting down. I'll leave you with this, because it's something I've been meditating on all week:

"For the Lord God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right." Psalm 84:11

Friday, December 3, 2010

Car wreaths and lint rollers

I'm noticing a trend at the beginning of my last few posts: Confessions. It's true, there are a lot of quirks that make me, me. I am a passionate person, and an opinionated one as well so chances are I either LOVE something or despise it. And I'm all too willing to share my feelings on the subject.

Today's confession: I hate wreathes on cars. I may of may not have blogged on this topic before. Here's the fact of the matter: Cars do NOT need to be decorated. Decorate your house, your pets, your children, your shrubs, your offices, your bodies, but do not, under any circumstance, decorate your car. Now please, don't get me wrong, I'm no Scrooge. I love Christmas and everything about it. I just firmly believe that NO car needs a wreath, reindeer antlers, Rudolph nose or anything of the sort. It's just unnecessary and excessive.

Okay, enough of that.

If you know me, you know I own a multitude of black clothing. I also own many bright, colorful outfits, but let's be honest, black dominates the color spectrum of my closet. (I enjoy accessorizing with color, okay?!) I also have a cat who just so happens to have EXTREMELY long fur. That gets everywhere. And all over me. All the time. No matter what. Needless to say, the two (black clothing and LONG cat fur) do not mix well. A few years back a friend introduced me to this. It's pretty much saved my life AND left me smelling downy-fresh! It's quite amazing. I do recommend it. Especially if you're like me and find yourself and your lovely black shirts/pants/jackets/sweatshirts/tshirts/leggings covered in Rocky's darn fur. So today, I am oh-so-thankful for this handy, dandy master-fur-removal tool :)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Day 32: Encouragement

Confession: Escalators freak me out. When I was young (maybe 8?) I tripped and fell on the escalator in the airport with my Grandma. She yelled at me. I scraped up my shin something fierce. I've never forgotten that moment. Every time I'm exiting an escalator, I freeze up until the LAST second and I jump, no wait, I LEAP off the escalator to my safety. PHEW. I feel much better now that that's off my chest :)

Something really cool happened to me yesterday; a friend of mine (whom I greatly respect) called me a writer. Not only did he call me a writer, he said I'm a great writer! I was totally shocked by this comment. I felt like a stuttering fool. I was stumbling over myself, trying to explain that this is just something I do for fun, and that I'm in NO way taking myself seriously (obviously!!) and that I'm not really that great, he must have just misread one of my posts. I couldn't get the excuses out there fast enough.
I'm not a writer
I'm for SURE not a GOOD writer
This is a blog
It was someone else's idea to begin with
I don't even think people read it
I usually just ramble about unimportant things like kids and my various pet peeves

Once all of these things had run through my mind, I didn't feel any less shocked. I think I was expecting to feel a bit relieved when I got all the excuses out there. Like they would change his mind. Why was I trying to change his mind? Did I think he was saying it just to make me feel good? Very doubtful, not his style. I think what it comes down to is that I never expected anyone to actually read my blogs. Don't get me wrong, they're here for JUST that purpose! I announce them on Facebook and Tweet about them so that others will read them, and hopefully take something away from my various non-insightful postings. But when, later that day, TWO OTHER PEOPLE told me the exact same thing, I began to wonder.... What is it about my thankfulness that has people hooked? I'm not sure the answer to that, but today, when that same friend again told me how much he enjoyed my writing, I simply said "Thank you".

Today I am thankful for simple words of encouragement. I'm thankful for the way encouragement brings people to life. Don't believe me? Encourage a child. Compliment them on their new shoes or their pretty skirt or their sweet new hat. They will light up right in front of you. They come to life. There's something about encouragement that is just so life-giving! It washes away all of the self-doubt, and all of the lies that we begin to believe about ourselves and replaces it with truth. With courage. In Romans 12:8 it says "If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging."
So simple!
I think we are ALL gifted in encouragement.
It's one of the simplest gifts you can give.
And it goes a lot farther than you think.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

December: Birthdays and Staff meetings

Confession: I hate the smell of ketchup. It makes me gag. I don't mind the taste of it (as long as it's accompanied by something... french fries, tater tots, grilled cheese, whatev) but the smell gets me every time.

Once a month, our entire staff comes together to talk through the month's happenings, and to celebrate any birthdays that happen to fall on that month. Today was our day together. It was amazing for 2 reasons. The first reason is because we got to celebrate my birthday :) I'll be turning 26 on Christmas Eve (yeah, yeah, yeah, bummer deal, I know... it's not all that bad though). I selfishly enjoy my birthday. I enjoy being sung to, I enjoy eating cake (Amy hooked us up with some great cup cakes), I enjoy having people snap pictures of me :) Say what you will, but I know that every one of you, deep down inside, LOVES to celebrate your birthday. It's your day.

The second reason our staff meeting was amazing was because our team is incredible. I was sitting there today, looking around the room, and found myself overcome with appreciation.
Appreciation for having a job where I get to live out my passion EVERY DAY. Appreciation for the individuals who sit next to me and laugh with me, cry with me, tell me I'm being a brat (it happens sometimes... don't judge me).
Appreciation for the leaders who sit with me and ask me the hard questions, who walk with me through some of the hardest struggles I've faced yet, who celebrate on the amazing days and encourage on the hard ones.
I'm just so thankful to be part of a team where we are all rooting for each other. Where I know I'm loved and supported and accepted. I love the moments when we get to come together and laugh as a team. Where we get to put all of the details and demands on the back burner and just enjoy each other. I love the way Aaron and Nate bust out in song about Jenna and Kendall, and the way Sean always has something SUPER sarcastic, yet amazingly funny to say, and the way Meg never misses a single detail, yet she always has the most witty and clever come-backs, and the way we always get off on tangents, and Dan (being the one deemed most responsible) has to reel us back in and get us back on track. I'm thankful to be part of this crazy team of dreamers. And I'm thankful that in 23 short days it will be my day of celebration.

Here's a pic of the three December babies. We're pretty great, aren't we?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Day 30: Moments

Today is the last official day of the Gratitude Challenge. It's hard to believe that November is over. It's hard to believe that I've been blogging for close to 30 days straight. It's hard to believe that I STILL have things to blog about (that people will actually read!!) Each day, each item of thanks comes to me in a moment. One minute I'm just working away in the office, the next I realize JUST how thankful I am for a job that I truly cherish and look forward to every day. One minute I'm chasing Sofia down, trying to get her to wash her hands, the next I'm moved to tears with my thankfulness I have for the 4 year-old who has my heart. One minute I'm driving in my car, rocking out to some Jimmy Eat World, the next I'm struck by the power of music, the ability it has to transport you back in time, to a specific moment.
Today, on day 30 of this 30 day challenge, I am thankful for these moments. I'm thankful for the awareness of my blessed life. I'm thankful for the ability to pause, for just a moment, and truly feel the gratitude I have for the things in my life. This challenge has been so much more than just a clever way to broadcast my witty sense of humor. It's been a change in posture, a true transformation of the mind. Because, you see, when I started this challenge, I wasn't sure I could find something to be thankful for every day. I was bitter, and angry, and focused on the hard and negative things in my life. I was so overtaken by the amount of grief and trauma that's been my last 25 years. I was so wrapped up in the past that I couldn't see the incredible and wonderful things that made up my life TODAY. I'm not sure what I'm more thankful for: These perfect, freeze-frame moments that bring me so much thanks and gratitude, or the clean slate, the fresh canvas that lies ahead of me. This new life that I've been given, where no one else holds the brush; where I get to decide the story that's written. I'm thankful for this challenge. I'm thankful for the eye-opening effect it's had on me. I'm thankful for the people who have been reading these blogs, rooting me on. The challenge may be over, but don't stop reading! There's plenty more gratitude where this came from. Like I said before, I plan to keep on blogging, keep on growing, keep on sharing. Hold on people, you're in for a ride!!

Now, any blog of mine wouldn't be complete without a picture of one of my favorite little people!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Day 29: Peace of mind

What a day today has been! Mondays, as you may know, are my days off. I get to sleep in and lounge around all day, and do whatever my little heart desires! Usually, Mondays involve a trip to the grocery store, multiple loads of laundry, and lots of coffee! I find it ironic that Mondays are the only days I don't have an alarm set, and I'm wide awake at 6 am. Every time. Go figure.
I headed up to the snow with the Lance/Gafner crew today. What a blast. There were crazy moments, but all in all it was a fantastic day! Dan cut down a great personal-sized Christmas tree for my room. The kids played in the snow (some enjoyed it more than others). On the drive home, we got to enjoy the most BEAUTIFUL sun set I think I've ever seen. Bright pink clouds set against the dark, strong mountains. It was amazing. I found myself totally awestruck by this sun set, not able to rip my attention away from it... for once my mind was totally still, peaceful, NOT preoccupied. I found myself so thankful for this. There were times, months ago, when my mind would be going a mile a minute. I would wonder if it would ever stop. If I would ever be able to escape the negative, untruthful thoughts and have peace of mind. So, today on day 29 of my Gratitude Challenge, I am thankful for peace of mind... for clear mindedness. It's been a long time since my mind wasn't racing with uncertainties and self-doubt. It's a big deal that I'm able to take these thoughts captive, and find the peace I've been longing for. What a fantastic day. So much Shalom.

Here are some great pictures I snapped up at the snow. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Day 28: Waiting with Hope.

The house is quiet. There's something I love so much about a quiet house. Don't get me wrong, I love my roommates and all the noise that goes along with... but on these rare occasions that I have the house to myself, I like to turn the noise off and just listen.
Today was a beautiful day. The mountains were freshly dusted with snow, the river this morning was creating glorious fog that covered the roads and bridges and sidewalks, the cool air was full of potential and the new possibilities that the day held. I loved today. Dan brought a great word at the Stirring... we began our Advent series, preparing for the arrival of Jesus. Dan talked a bit about the background, the story that leads us up to the amazing event we celebrate on Christmas day. He talked about how when you know the story, the WHOLE story, it makes it so much easier to enjoy the seasons of life. Every season. When we know that God will show up, that he will fulfill his promises, it makes it possible to wait. To hurt. To question. To anticipate. To long. When we know the whole story, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. We can weather the hard times because we know the pain will lead to healing, and the healing will lead us to Jesus and all that he promises us.

Something Dan said today really struck me: We need to hear each others stories. It reminds us that we're NOT alone. Not alone in the pain. Not alone in the struggles. Not alone in the grief. Not alone in the aching. Not alone in the waiting. When we share stories, it gives HOPE to people. The hope that Jesus does answer our cries for help. The hope that God hasn't forgotten us, that his faithfulness endures even through the hardest of times. When we share our stories, our testimonies, it reminds people who are waiting, to be waiting with hope. You see, people connect with stories. Stories of broken addictions, stories of answered prayers, stories of healed pain, stories of restored relationships, stories of changed lives. It gives them something to hope for.
Waiting with Hope.
Our stories help others to continue waiting, but to wait with hope.

Today, I am thankful for my story.
It's not perfect. Far from it actually. But it's mine. It's a story of all of the above things: broken addictions, answered prayers, healed pain, restoration, and most importantly a changed life. God has rescued me, and I hope that some day I can share my story and others will be reminded to wait with hope. Because there was a lot of waiting, a lot of longing, a lot of hurting in my story, but God came through. He rescued me. That's something to be thankful for, huh?

"Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever... The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine." Isaiah 9:1-2

I think this is something we can ALL be thankful for today. That the waiting won't go on forever. That there is a promise of a Great Light that will shower those who walk in darkness.
So we wait. But we wait with Hope.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Day 27

Today was an incredibly productive day! With a planned trip up to Lassen canceled, I decided to knock some stuff off my to-do list! The house got cleaned, loads of laundry got done, Christmas decorations got put up, room got rearranged, ALL carpets got vacuumed (less of a chore, more of a treat!). It felt good to stay at home and get things done!
Days like these make you thankful for the little things. Today, I'm thankful for:
-rubber dish gloves
-scented candles
-washers and dryers (what in the WORLD would we do without these??)
-flannel sheets (yep, that time of year!)
-seasonal decorations (I love it because you almost forget what you've got... and then it's like a surprise each year!!)
-leftover turkey (for the fourth meal in a row! I love it!!)

I love days like these. There's really nothing like getting stuff done!!! This week holds many exciting adventures, one of which I'm SUPER looking forward to: Staff Christmas Party! It's going to be the best. It always is. Is it Friday yet?!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Day 26

And so the Gratitude Challenge continues! What a wild day today was! Up at 2:30 am to hit up the stores. I got some great stuff! It was SO much fun too. People watching, chatting with strangers in line, milling around in HUGE crowds of people. The claustrophobia only kicked in once.... We were in Target, in the electronics department and I literally could not move. People all around me, squishing me, stepping on my toes... I freaked and pushed some guy over to break through and get free. It was a close call, but all in all, it was a really enjoyable experience!

Yesterday, as we were thumbing through the Black Friday ads, I came across my one and only TRUE dream purchase: A Dyson vacuum cleaner. Some people grow up and have hopes and dreams to start a family and own a house. And I have those hopes and dreams too, but they are right behind my dream of owning a Dyson vacuum. Don't judge me. It's a legitimate dream!!

Back to the Gratitude Challenge... In the beginning, it was just an easy and clever way blog daily. It gave me a purpose to my blogging, and a focus... but as the 30 days are winding down, I realize it's something I really enjoy. I love looking for things throughout the day to blog about. I love sitting down and sharing those thoughts with those of you who are following me through this journey. All that to say, I don't think I'll be stopping after the allotted 30 days. I think I will continue on, looking each day for something to be thankful for, something to reflect on, something to share with all of you!

ANYWAY, today, on day 26 of this 30 day challenge, I am thankful for:
-left overs
-the excitement kids have about Christmas decorations
-3 hour naps
-chill evenings with my roommates
-having the office all to myself (very, VERY rare!!)
-hot tubs
-my new boots!

Here's a pic of us girls from Thanksgiving. I'm VERY thankful for these two women. They're amazing role models and such caring and loving friends. Their friendship is something I am CONSTANTLY thankful for. And they're pretty dang fun to hang with too!!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Gratitude Challenge: Day 25

Day 25- Happy Thanksgiving! I am officially full for a month... so much delicious food. I spent the day with two families who have truly become family to me. What would Thanksgiving be without the Lances and the Gafners and all of their beautiful children? We ate amazing turkey (thanks Alyssa!) and stuffing and potatoes. Followed by pie, cake, cookies... MAN, I'm full again just thinking about it all! It was a day that opened my eyes to just how blessed I am. It's so easy to say (especially on Thanksgiving day) that we're thankful for our friends and family... but today, day 25 of this challenge, I'm thankful for these two families, and they way they've adopted me into their lives. I hope they know just how much I love them!

Here's my favorite shot from the night. This boy, he is so near and dear to my heart. Hmmm, maybe he'll be the topic of day 26. I'm off to bed now. We're hitting up the sales tomorrow. My first time EVER! I'm pretty excited :)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Day 23 and 24

Yesterday was a hard day. To be honest, I wasn't thankful for a whole lot yesterday. I mean, I know I have many things to BE thankful for, but I was having a hard time finding the silver lining yesterday. Sue me.

Today is shaping up to be less hard, but not altogether fantastic... However, I WILL be thankful today. I will find the silver lining today. I will worship through the hard days :)

Today, I am thankful for:
-minestrone soup
-passionate people
-my lovely scented candle on my desk
-a quite office

That's all. Tomorrow is the OFFICIAL day of thanks. I'm pretty stoked. Happy Thanksgiving y'all!

Monday, November 22, 2010

GC: Day 22

Today is day 22 of this Gratitude Challenge. I'm getting pretty excited for Thanksgiving and all of the festivities that go along with! We're running the Turkey Trot this year, and I'm really looking forward to it. Plus, I'm making my mom's famous cheese cake... should be GREAT!

Anyway, today I'm thankful for:
-Shopping trips with my crazy roommate
-Stormy nights
-Successfully making something new for dinner
-Monday mornings with my ladies
-People who read (and COMMENT ON) my blog :)
-Getting mail of any kind!
-Painting my nails.... which I never do because I bite them too... oops!
-The excitement that Thanksgiving holds... I love the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Gratitude Challenge: Day 21

Yikes. The week got away from me. I think I missed three days. Yowza! Well, that's okay. I've still got a lot I'm thankful for. Today, I'm thankful for...:
-freshly washed blankets
-game nights
-genuine hugs from children.... especially ones you haven't seen in a while
-Hearing a 7 year-old tell you, that because of YOU, he's just had the (and I quote) best day of his life
-knowing you're loved because of who you are. Period.
-funny moments that are STILL funny days later
-torturing your cat by dressing him up :)
-the smell of peeled oranges
-Hearing parents tell me that their children literally RUSH them out the door to get to Church :) They love us.
-Monday mornings
-baking treats
-hearing stories of lives changed

I was at church tonight, and during one of the last songs of worship, I spot a familiar face through the crowd. We make eye contact, and I see her maker her way through the isle, zig-zagging around people to get to me. When she reaches me, she wraps her arms around my legs and hugged me. I love hugs from kids. Especially this nine year old. She is near and dear to my heart. I found myself fighting back tears while she hugged me, realizing that, for whatever reason, I had impacted her life enough for her to seek me out in a crowded room and show me such genuine love. Moments like THAT are why I do what I do. Impacting children's lives. It's that simple!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Gratitude Challenge: Day 18

Yep, skipped a day yesterday. I left my laptop at work, and it's seriously impossible to blog from my phone. Anyway, back to the giving of thanks.
Today, I am thankful for:
-finding that missing five dollar bill in your freshly washed pants pocket
-reading old journal entries that are proof of God's goodness and the insane amount of growth I've gone through over the past few months
-exchanging a genuine smile with a stranger
-the happiness that comes over a surprise visit or surprise cup of coffee :)

It's funny, because I've been thinking a lot about the "thanks" part of Thanksgiving... but recently I've found myself really drawn to the "giving" part of it. I love to give. Give gifts, give my time, give words of encouragement, give hugs, give smiles... Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to say I'm the MOST generous person around. Because I'm not. But recently, God's been showing me creative and thoughtful ways to give.... and sometimes I think THAT is more important than the "thanks" we are always so focused on. Being thankful for things is great, but isn't it ALSO great to GIVE people something to be THANKFUL for?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Day 16

Today is day 16 of this Gratitude Challenge. As I was driving home today, my blog topic came to me... today, I am thankful for my education.

The two may not seem related to you (my short commute home and my thankfulness for my schooling) but today, they are. It dawned on me that at this time last year I was making a lengthy commute to Chico two times a week. That commute was killer. There were times when my alarm would go off at 5:00 am, and I would literally want to cry. I hated that drive. It was so early, and so boring, and I was always so tired. But I got through it. I completed that semester with a GPA of 3.85. I survived the semi-scary (okay, REALLY scary) Chico campus, and even made some friends! I got to enjoy the beauty of the "City of Trees" and spent countless hours cooped up in the CSU Chico library. It was the hardest semester of my life (both the commute, and the 18 units I was taking) but I did it.

Looking back, it was actually kind of fun. I mean, I'd never volunteer to do it again, but for that season of my life, it was exactly what I needed. I remember the long drives home, I would usually put on my latest downloaded Pod Cast, set the cruise control and enjoy my drive home, knowing I was one day closer to being done with the semester.

Completing college took me a few extra years, and I graduated with a bunch of extra units, but I am so thankful for all of the classes I took. I am a wealth of (somewhat) useless knowledge. I know more than I care to share about child development, and I could whip up a mean lesson plan in no time. I find myself using the knowledge I acquired over the years all the time throughout the day. Although I didn't finish the path I set out on, my education is getting put to use all the time.

So, even though there were times when I wondered if I would survive the bi-weekly commutes, today I am thankful for my education, and the looooooooong rides that went along with it!!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Gratitude Challenge: Day 15

Throughout the month of November, I've joined a few friends in a "blogging challenge" if you will. We are carving time out of each day to post one blog of the things we are thankful for on that day.

Today, I am thankful for:
-inside jokes
-Mondays (my day off)
-checking things off of my "do-to" list
-meeting new people
-finding missing earrings

Mondays, as I stated above, are my days off. I love Mondays. While the rest of the working world is headed back to work, I am taking a much-needed day of rest. I think rest looks different to everyone. For me, it means I don't look at my ever-growing e-mail inbox, I don't answer my phone (well, sometimes I do), I don't busy myself with all of the things demanding my attention; I just hit the snooze button. Mondays are like the "snooze button" day of my week... and I love my snooze button. I was talking with a friend today, and it occurred to me that I either 1. get a TON accomplished on a Monday, or 2. get NOTHING accomplished. It's an "all-or-nothing" kind of deal. And I like it that way. There are some Mondays when I wake up and feel extremely motivated to get things done. Then there are other Mondays where all I really want to do is drink coffee and read my book. Mondays are important. Rest is important. Do you have a "Monday" in your weekly rhythm? I would highly recommend it :)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Gratitude Challenge: Day 14

You might have noticed I missed a couple of days... OOPS! Looks like I've got a bit of catching up to do!
Today I am thankful for:
-Ice water
-The Office (the TV show)
-Sunday mornings with my INCREDIBLE team and all the wonderful families I get to see!
-My Tuesday and Thursday early morning jogs with my ladies
-Remembering to use my coupons
-My leather jacket
-Hugs from Julie Read
-The December issue of my Real Simple magazine (okay, ANY issue of Real Simple to be honest)

Something I'm really excited about is that I signed up for the Turkey Trot yesterday. A few of us are running it this year... I'm really stoked!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Gratitude Challenge: Day 11

I'm 11 days into this Gratitude Challenge, and I'm finding that some days it's easier to be thankful than others. Today is one of the days where I'm thankful for a multitude of things:
-ice packs (for my aching back)
-pre-sliced apples from Trader Joe's
-good conversations with people who really, truly know me
-funny roommates
-Netflix instant queue

One thing that I'm extremely thankful for today is smiling children. During a conversation this afternoon, I was struck with a question: What brings me joy? The very first thing that came to my mind was a child's smile. In my opinion, there's nothing better. Children in general bring me joy, but there's something so incredibly life-giving about their smiles. Here's a picture of me with one of my favorite smilers. This little guy, he brings me a LOT of joy.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Day 10

This one will be short. I'm exhausted, and posting from my phone (too tired to turn the computer on!!). Today I'm thankful for the promise that tomorrow is a new day. Today's been good, but tomorrow.... tomorrow will be great.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


As I journey through November, pausing each day to give thanks for something near and dear to my heart, I hope you enjoy my posts... finding them both witty AND thought-provoking. (Maybe that's a reach, but there, I said it...)

Today, the 9th of November, I am thankful for my most FAVORITE household cleaning device... the vacuum cleaner. Now, some of you know my deep, deep, passionate love for vacuuming. To others, this may come as a shock, but it's true; I desperately love to vacuum. I love the beautiful lines the vacuum leaves on my freshly cleaned carpets. I love the instant gratification that ensues a day's worth of vacuuming. I love the way it just makes life a little more enjoyable to plug that puppy in and freak the cats out while madly pushing the vacuum around. Any room looks better after it's been vacuumed. Seriously people, you should try it one of these days. It's therapy to me. Maybe you're more of a "do-the-dishes" kind of person, or a "scrub-the-bathroom-floor" gal yourself. Not me. I'm a vacuumer through-and-through. Call me crazy. Say what you will. I stand by the fact that it brings me joy. Need your house vacuumed? You know who to call.

OH, and a huge shout out to my pals (Mackenzie, Shannon, and Niki) who have joined in the Gratitude Challenge with me. So happy to have inspired y'all!!!

Oh, and Anna, I know you've been waiting for this one :) Let's just say I've dedicated this post of "thanks" to you my friend!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Gratitude Challenge: Day 8

Day 8
Thanks to all of you who are following my Gratitude Challenge. I'd like to think I'm bringing blogging back... maybe I'm a little ahead of myself, but hey, a girl can dream, right?

Back to the thanks-giving... today I think I am most thankful for this sweet and sassy little girl, and the priceless conversations we have. Like the one we had on Saturday night where she informed me that she was Jesse (from Toy Story) and I was Bullseye (Jesse's loyal sidekick/horse) and she MUST ride on my back to see "her Buzz" (her little brother Moses of course) in the Toy Store (AKA the bedroom). When I agreed to the adventure she squeezed my neck and announced in one big breath, "Oh Emee, Iloveyasomuch!!"

She may only be 3 years old, but every minute I spend with her, she teaches me more than I could ever imagine... about love, patience, nail-painting, imagination, tea parties, compassion, Barbies... and Disney Princesses of course! As adults, we'd like to think that our presence in a child's life influences and changes that child, but in this case, I think it's indeed the opposite: I hope one day she reads this and knows that, at the age of 3, she had already changed my life forever. Today I am thankful for Sofia.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Week one

Day 7 of this challenge.
I'll be blogging every day for the month of November, and each day I will be sharing one thing I am thankful for. Today's post will be short. Although I am thankful for the extra hour of sleep I got this morning, I am NOT thankful for the way the clock's switching affects my life in various ways (really cranky babies and toddlers at our AM gatherings, the exhaustion that sets in at 8 pm because my body thinks it's 9 pm, the way I get a splitting head ache EVERY year when the clock's change...). Wait, that doesn't count as my item of thanks today. Today, what I'm thankful for is this incredibly beautiful and breath-taking city I live in. As I was out the past few afternoons, I snapped a couple of pictures... they only capture a sliver of Redding's beauty. I mean, the colors on the trees that line my neighborhood are enough to stop traffic. The mountains that surround our busy city should be gazed at DAILY. The clouds today, did everyone see the clouds today? They were unreal... The sharpness of the evergreens against the crystal blue sky... boy-oh-boy, I am thankful I get to live in this gorgeous city. Take a minute tomorrow to notice the beauty that surrounds you.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Day 6!

Picking only ONE thing I'm thankful for today seems to be impossible, so here is a short list of the things I'm stoked on today:
-the crunchiness of the leaves falling outside
-the smell of my dryer sheets and my fresh laundry
-freshly-vacuumed floors (my fave)
-sweet e-mails from far away friends
-"I love yous" out of the mouths of little ones

I love this Gratitude Challenge because, even in the face of discouragement and hardship, it forces me to recognize the wonderful things in my life. And let me tell you folks, I have countless wonderful things in my life!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Close to the brokenhearted... day 5.

Psalm 34 says The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Today, day 5 of my gratitude challenge, I am thankful for the closeness of God. When we feel the worst, God is always closest to our hearts.

A dear friend passed away today. He fought cancer for over 2 years. Up until the moment he passed, he was fighting. He will be missed greatly by his family and friends. I wish I had the perfect words to say, but I think Psalm 34 sums it up pretty well for me. God is close to us when we are broken. He saves us. He heals us. Today, along with my thankfulness, I hope that God is close with the Miller family.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Day 4: my love affair...

I'm spending a little bit of time each day in the month of November to recognize one thing I'm thankful for. I've heard it called "30 days of Thanks" or "30 days of Thanksgiving" but I'm calling it the "Gratitude Challenge."
So today is day 4.
Today I am thankful for sticky notes (of any shape, size, color and brand).
I know, I know... it seems kind of insignificant. However, if you know me, you know this is NOT the case in my life. I love sticky notes. A friend of mine even once told me that I have a love affair with sticky notes... :) I use them for everything. I have an entire drawer dedicated to them in my desk. They make the perfect book mark, love note, reminder, or attention getter. I love sticky notes. What in the world would I do without them? There would be torn up pieces of paper littering my life if I didn't have sticky notes. Some friends of mine, who knew my obsession with sticky notes, decided to cover my entire car with sticky notes in the middle of the night. Needless to say, I woke up surprised and EXTREMELY excited. Best. Prank. Ever.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Day 3

Today is day 3 of the Gratitude Challenge:
Today, I am thankful for my deep passion for children. God has given me a CRAZY passion for kids. For loving them, teaching them, celebrating them. When people share stories about their kids, I am most likely going to end up in tears. There's just something about hearing these stories that moves me. For a long time, I thought EVERYONE had this burning passion for kids... that it was just part of everyone's make-up. I quickly realized that this isn't the case. Not everyone's heart breaks for kids like mine does. Not everyone gets energized by children like I do. I think if you know me, you know that I've given my life to see children know they are loved. Today, I'm thankful for that :)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Day 2

Gratitude Challenge: Day 2 (check out my last post... it explains what this Gratitude Challenge is). There are a lot of things I am thankful for every day (clean water, my health, having all of my limbs, my eye-sight, etc.) so it's difficult to pick ONE thing to say I am the most thankful for today. It needs to be something great. Something perfect for today. So, today I am thankful for laughter. It is one of my favorite sounds. Some people like the rain, others like the ocean, I like the sound of laughter. It is possibly one of the MOST contagious sounds ever. When I hear it, I'm intrigued; I want to know who's laughing, why they're laughing, and I want to join in the laughter. If you know me at all, you know that I'm pretty generous with my laughter. There's something almost therapeutic about laughter. So today, on day 2 of this season of thanks, I am thankful for laughter.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Gratitude Challenge

A friend of mine had a genius idea, and I decided to copy her... every day in November until Thanksgiving, I will post one thing I am thankful for. There are so many reasons this idea is wonderful, but I'll let YOU decide why you like it so much, and I'll inform you of my first item of thankfulness: I am thankful for the rain. I know, I know. It seems like a no-brainer... EVERYONE should be thankful for the rain. But I'm thankful for the ran for a different reason. I love the beauty and symbolism of the rain. The washing away of something old, the changing of seasons, the new life that follows the rain.

So there you have it: Day #1, I am thankful for the rain.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Things that I love about this season:

Fall scented candles
The rain
Trader Joe's Pumpkin Bread
Rain boots
ANY boots
Cozy blankets
Leaves changing color
Jogs in the rain
Fall-ish decorations
Chamomile Mango tea
Dutch Bros. Peppermint hot chocolate (my FAVE!!!)
French Press

This is the best season of all.

What do YOU love about this season??

Monday, September 20, 2010

More than just a bracelet

I have this bracelet.
It's a simple bracelet, really.
It's silver.
Real silver.
It's skinny and round and delicate.
It fits perfectly on my wrist.
It spins around a bit, and sometimes gets caught in my pocket.
It moves freely about when I'm running, or writing, or e-mailing, or blogging, or talking, or laughing, or telling a story, or shaking a new friend's hand, or texting, or facebooking, or putting on my shoes, or holding a baby (or a toddler, or a child or ANY size!).
I'm constantly reminded that it's there.
A stranger gave it to me.
She didn't know the way it would change me, the way it would help me, the way it would remind me.
But in a moment of kindness and obedience, she handed me this bracelet and told me God wanted me to remember the word that was written on it.
Etched in the middle of this beautiful bracelet is the word "Loved" in perfect cursive.
For the last 3 months I've been wearing this bracelet day and night, and every time I feel it against my wrist, I remember that I am loved.
Loved by my family, by my friends, by my God.
I am loved.
To me it's more than just a bracelet, it's truth that I can see every second of every day.
Before this bracelet, I had convinced myself I was unlovable.
I believed there was no way I could be loved, or deserved love.
But in a moment, God spoke truth that completely wiped that lie away.
In one moment, a stranger sitting next to me changed me.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Life this May

I realize there are still an entire week left in the month of May, but I felt the need to reflect on the happenings of May... so here we go:
- May 1st Sarah and I ran the infamous half marathon. What an accomplishment. We'd been training for months for the day, and it came and went leaving behind many blisters and some rather bitter sweet memories.
- I said an extremely hard goodbye to Sarah only days ago. She's headed to Jordan for a year. I'm no good at goodbyes, this one especially. Sarah's been such a consistent part of my life for the past 2+ years. She's that friend. Everybody has THAT friend. The friend you can call anytime to just come and hang. The friend who you never really make "plans" with, but she always ends up on your couch watching Intervention or Mean Girls. The friend who's always up for a fire-pit night with only a moment's notice. Sarah's been THAT friend for me. Not to mention she's the greatest running partner. EVER. I'm not quite sure what I'm going to do without her. She's celebrated with me, cried with me, laughed with me, prayed with me... There's a Sarah-sized hole in my life at the moment.
-Summer Life Groups started just last week. I'm extremely excited for this season of Life Groups. I'm in a mixed group that is made up of incredible people from across the board: high school students, college students, college grads, singles, dating, engaged, married, married with kids, married with grandkids... I have a feeling God's going to use these people in a very specific way in my life right now. I couldn't be more anxious/nervous/excited.
-I GRADUATED FROM COLLEGE! This reality still hasn't set in yet. I find myself running through the things I need to get done for school, then quickly remembering that I'm done. Walking across that stage brought a rush of emotion. I remembered the countless sleepless nights I spent drafting and redrafting essays and reports. The hours upon hours I spent studying for midterms, finals, exams, quizzes. The numerous group projects I poured my energy into. The excitement that came with an outstanding grade, and the disappointment that came with a not-so-outstanding grade. Along the way, I've made some pretty incredible and memorable friendships. There will always be a special bond made with classmates who share the same pain and dedication you do. Here's a picture of all of us Distant Education Liberal Studies CSU Chico grads.

Last night I hung my graduation tassel on my bookshelf right next to my 1/2 marathon medal. It's crazy to me that two of the biggest accomplishments in my life came all in the same month. I'm ready for new things and for whatever it is God has planned next for my life. There's never been a dull moment thus far.... the possibilities are endless at this point!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Life lately...

It's late. I have to be up in a few short hours, but I wanted to catch y'all up on the recent happenings in my life:
-Sarah and I ran the Sacramento half marathon. We pushed through the pain, and finished the race. We weren't even last :)
-Graduation is creeping up. Only two weeks left, then I will be a CSU Chico graduate. I can't believe the day is actually here. I'm looking forward to celebrating with all of my friends and family. It will be a good day for sure.
-The Stirring staff went together to the Catalyst West Coast conference. It was an unreal experience. I had only ever heard one of the speakers (Andy Stanely) speak before. Let me tell you, they were all incredible. It's hard to put into words the amount of excitement and passion I left that conference with.

That's about it for life lately... here's a pic of Sarah and I after the race. The smile on my face was half excitement from being done, and half fake because my body hurt SO bad!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Running, running, RUNNING!

In the summer of 2008 I had back surgery. It was quite a world-stopping moment for me. At the age of 23, I felt invincible... untouchable... but when the shooting pain in my back turned out to be a herniated disk, my life came to a crashing halt. When my chiropractor told me I needed to seek a Neurosurgon consult, I was in disbelief. A week passed, and I found myself prepped and ready for surgery (the dr. I saw informed me that I would eventually lose ALL feeling in my leg, and probably mobility if I didn't proceed fairly quickly.) After a grueling 3 month recovery that consisted of MUCH bed-rest, session after session of Physical Therapy, and frustration you couldn't imagine, I was due for my last dr. appointment. After watching me walk (pain free) up and down the hallway, my dr. told me I was good to go. He informed me that I could continue with a light workout, but nothing too strenuous. I asked when I would be able to get back to running (a deep love of mine). Then, to my shock and surprise, the dr. began laughing at me. Laughing. Out loud. To my face. Laughing. He informed me that I would NEVER run again. That I was crazy to think I would ever have the strength to do so.
Here I am, almost two years later, training for my first of many half marathons. I've been able to successfully complete a 9 mile run. In your face Dr. (who will remain nameless)! I plan to run and finish my half marathon on May first. Don't laugh in my face and tell me I can't do something. I've been back-pain free the entire training process, and proud to say I'm still going strong. I'll be sure to post a picture of my successful achievement... maybe I'll even send one to said Dr. Wouldn't THAT be a laugh?!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Just an update on things as of late:
- the marathon training is coming along nicely. Sarah and I ran 9 miles on Monday and it took me a few days to recover. The race is May 1st, and I'm freaking out just a little!
- I moved across town and in with 2 of my friends from church. It's going to be one FUN house!
- I had Amy (my INCREDIBLE hair lady) chop all of my hair off. She's rad, and knows just what I like. I'm almost used to it... almost!
- I'm two months away from graduation. Only 35 days of school left. Yes, I'm counting down!
- I'm loving work, and learning a LOT. With more kids than ever at the Stirring, I'm quite a busy lady (and LOVING every minute of it!)

That's all for now. As more changes happen, I'll be sure to update y'all! Here's a pic of my haircut.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

New things, old things

So, I was just reading my LAST list of 10 goals, and realized I accomplished 2 of these... maybe 3. I got another tattoo (a bit LARGER than the last) thanks to Mel Metz at Tattoz Ink. I planted a garden in my backyard, but then had to move, and leave behind all of my well-tended tomatoes. I am officially running a half marathon May 1st... crazy. It was pretty satisfying reading that old list of goals and realize not all was lost in my last crazy year. So much has happened, and God has been faithful the entire way. There were moments when I thought I'd never get through it. What I'm starting to realize is there's always something. There's always something God's teaching me, or showing me, or forcing me to face. I love that though. I hope my life never gets to a place where I'm satisfied with just "being". I want to LIVE my life, I want to grow and change and become more like Christ with every passing day. I'm more and more appreciative for the wise and patient people in my life. You know who you are. I've been living in this for the past few weeks now, and I thought I'd share... "I will thank you Lord with all my heart. I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done. I will be filled with joy because of you. I will sing praises to your name, O most high." Psalm 9:1-2
Sometimes I have to remind myself multiple time a day to THANK Him and to be filled with joy because of Him, and to praise Him. I have realized that, although there are really rough seasons, I have such a reason to thank and praise and be filled with joy. I am a changed person. If you knew me years ago, you would not recognize the person I am today. If you know me now, you would be blown away by who I used to be. I'm okay with that. I find joy in that. I am a blessed woman, and my goal for this year is to REMEMBER that.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

River Trail Etiquette

During my 7 mile run, which ended up being more like 7.7 miles, I came up with quite a clever and informative idea for a blog. I feel there needs to be a proper code, or etiquette if you will, for people utilizing the Sacramento River Trail. Here's what I came up, feel free to add to it:

1. Please don't let your dog poop on the trail. That's just gross
2. If your child is riding their bike, please don't allow them to take up the entire trail while people are trying to pass them, and just stare adoringly at them instead of moving them out of the middle of the trail. That's just kind of annoying.
3. Please don't smoke on the trail. My lungs are already working hard. They don't want your second-hand smoke in them to slow them down.
4. If you are riding a bicycle, please don't zig and zag around on both sides of the trail practically RUNNING OVER the river-trail-etiquette-abiding runners on their proper side. That's just rude.

I think I'm going to write to City of Redding and see if they'll post this on their Sacramento River Trail page... I think there's a chance!!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The things I love...

In honor of Valentine's Day (even though it's long past now) I'd like to share with my faithful blog readers a few things that I love...
.I love making people laugh
.I love my crazy, head-butting, sometimes rude cat Rocky
.I love getting mail. Any kind of mail. E-mail, snail-mail, junk-mail... any of it! All of it!
.I love watching little children eat. The way their mouths work SO hard, the way their entire concentration goes directly to getting the food from their napkin to their mouth, the way silence falls in the classroom (the Toddler room in this case) when all of the children have their Goldfish crackers... except for Sof, of course. She's our humming girl :)
.I love meeting new people and hearing their stories.
.I love listening to children pray. There's such an innocence behind the prayers of children... it makes me laugh and even cry at times.
.I love writing about my day in my journal. I can be totally honest. No one will read it, my thoughts are safe there. Protected from judgment and criticism.
.I love my job
.I love my job
.I love my job - But really though, I love what I do.
.I love holding a sleeping baby
.I love the feeling I get after accomplishing my LONG runs on Saturday
.I love checking things off of my "to-do" list

I'm sure you can imagine that this list has the potential to go on, and on, and on... but I will stop here. What are some things that YOU love??

Friday, January 1, 2010

Farewell 2009...

I love how excited people get about the new year. All over Facebook and Twitter are excited people proclaiming their love to this new year. This year, I'm challenging myself to remain this excited about the new year ALL year. It seems like everybody hits the gym in January, determined to stick to their resolutions and shed some lbs in the process... but come February, their "go-get-it-ness" has faded into a small voice in the distance nudging them to trudge on. This year, instead of stating boldly what I WILL achieve in 2010, I'd rather look back at the past year and see what I DID achieve:
-Although one of my goals was to run a half marathon, I never did make it to the finish line... or the starting line for that matter. I decided that, while I do love running, I love running shorter distances :) I'll stick to 5 miles. I can do 5 miles, and still walk in the morning.
-I overcame so pretty huge struggles this past year, and am walking with my head a bit higher this year, and with MUCH more confidence.
-I fully recovered from a crazy-sudden back surgery. And am living life to the fullest, while not lifting anything TOO heavy :)
-I gave up Diet Soda. In fact, I gave up all fake sweeteners. If you look at some of my past posts, you'll realize just how huge of a feat this is.

This year I'm promising myself to live a little louder. I want to spark my creative side. I want to worry less and enjoy more. I want to have more fun (even though I have loads of fun ALL the time). I want to live with purpose and passion every single day.

What do YOU want to do this year?
Images by Freepik