Tuesday, May 31, 2016

what I learned in May '16

Oh how I love learning new and random things so I'm back again joining up with Emily P. Freeman for her monthly reflection of what we've learned.

Here's five things I learned in May!

1) Spring cleaning is a real thing.  I've never had the desire overtake me and so I never understood it.  But this year that all changed.  I naturally love to organize.  Yes, my room often maintains a 'messy/cluttered' state 70% of the time but there is something so good about organizing a space.  It's like setting yourself up to win. I spent most of a Saturday alone, in the kitchen doing just that.  Lovely.

2) I do better with headphones when running by myself.  I tend to be over ambitious in the beginning and poop out pretty quick if I don't have someone to help pace me.  Having solid beats has become a good solution to running alone.  Don't get me wrong, I definitely wanted to stop running (and did) at times but having a good song to keep me distracted from the fact that I was running and wanting to quit gave me some extra oomph I needed.

3) Two words: Asian Snacks.  I pass by two Asian markets everyday so when I saw this Asian Snacks Roundup I knew I had to give some a try.  The two that stood out to me were the Koala Bites and Shrimp Chips

Asian Snacks Roundup, by

The Koala's were delicious and made me feel like a kid as I ate them.  Before you wrinkle your nose at the Shrimp chips I have to say they were not as 'shrimpy' as I was expecting and I really enjoyed them.  Take this list with you on your next Asian adventure!

4) Fireflies do still exist.  I remember when I was little fireflies (or lightening bugs) were always everywhere; now its like I rarely see them.  Turns out there is a reason why.  My brother sent this link as we were preparing to spend some time in New Braunfels for Memorial Day.  I had no idea they had such a long breeding process.

Thanks to the rain last year its like we were dropped in the middle of fairy land. It was so fun to be surrounded by something that seems so magical. We couldn't help but just stop and soak it in.

5) There is a water park here in Texas that has a ginormous slide.  Its called the Royal Flush and I really wanna check this out.

This looks like so much fun! Gotta love Texas.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

dont get caught sleepin - music

Music has a strong effect on me.  You know how they tend to build up a scenes in movies? Whether its to make you cry, make you wanna skip with happiness or make you scream for the fear of it.  No matter the type of music it is, I will feel all the feelings its trying to bring.

Because of my musical empathy I tend to gravitate towards real chill or upbeat music as my go to.  (I have yet to listen to Adele's new album for fear that it would send me into an emotional tailspin. Don't judge me.)

Here are a few artists that aren't big in mainstream but have great music.  Whenever I just want something familiar where I can count on liking the whole album I reach for these. They don't seem to get old.  Don't get caught sleepin on this music. ;)

Tori Kelly - This girl is soooo underrated for her talent. I COULD NOT believe that Megan Trainor won Best New Artist at the Grammy's (I mean she's not even new anymore) instead of Tori. She is a powerhouse and has some serious vocal control.  Her music has a nice blend of R&B and Pop. I'm dying for her to actually release this one in an album. Her songs are about more than her body and partying so you gotta appreciate that she's bringing something fresh to the table. ;)  Check out Unbreakable Smile and Dear No One. I wanna link more but that will get you a taste.

Us the Duo - I actually heard about this group from their 2014 mashup and had to hear more.  They are a neat mixture of Folk and Pop. I feel like their music has a sweetness to its upbeat tempo.  Their harmony together has this pure, clear tone. They're well known on vine for singing clips of popular songs showing them from the mouth down. I've found the more I know about artists the more I enjoy them and they don't disappoint with humor and quirkiness. Check out No Matter Where You Are (ignore the oddness of the video) and Close To You.

Johnnyswim - You guys, I'm not the fan-girl type.  I'm more the, "these people are humans just like you and me, so all y'all need to chill out."  However, I'm pretty darn close to fan-girling these two.  I learned about them over two years ago and love them more with each new song.  I saw them in concert earlier this year and it was my favorite concert to date. Their's is the first record I invested in and love to throw it on while I'm cleaning or for a lazy afternoon.  Their music has folk, blues, lots of soul and nods at pop. What makes them special is the heart behind their lyrics.  They sing like they mean it and you just can't fake that. Oh and they have harmonies like none other! Check out Diamonds and Make.  (And then get lost in their New Music Monday YouTube Playlist.)  And if you're curious about their name you'll love this (and if you don't fall in love with them after that video there is nothing I can do for you).

Hollyn - Let me just say when you look at the related artists list in Spotify her style is seriously absent which is such a shame. For being her first record and only having six tracks, this album has a good variety of get up and move as well as take it slow and let it hit your heart.  Its got Pop, but not like in the teeny-bopper kinda way which is impressive considering she is 19.  Her music has maturity with solid beats that leave me eager to see how she will grow on her next release. I'm impressed by the soul that comes out in her voice. Check out Alone and Steady Me.

Whoo! That's some major linkage happening up there.  Hope you enjoy.

Now go get lost in some music.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

what I learned in April '16

I'm joining up with Emily P. Freeman for her monthly reflection of what we've learned.  Since I love to reflect but tend to forget random goodness that happens all the time this seemed like a great way to remember the little things that are important too.

Here are five things I learned in April:

1) Vacuuming my car is an automatic trigger to clean the rest of my car.  If its not vacuumed I have no motivation to wipe it down or get it washed.  In my mind its like, "what's the point, the carpets dirty."  Something about the carpet being free of all the things makes it feel special. The carpet can't be special alone.  Cue the windex and lysol wipes.

2) I love making homemade pizzas.  I saw a this recipe on a blog I follow and just went for it one night.  A few days later I couldn't resist this recipe.  So light and fresh. (If the smoked salmon weird's you out, I saved some pennies and made it with prosciutto too.)

Y'all, it is sooooo easy. (And just to uncomplicate things more, can I get an amen for the just-add-water-dough-mix?) I always thought it was so difficult but its easy peasy.  Even if neither of these recipes look even remotely desirable to you, look around for one that does. Just go for it!

3) I write things I have already done on my to do list just so I can check 'em off.  For real, everyday at work, even if its a seemingly minor task that took up significant time it gets written.  I had been feeling discouraged about not feeling like I was getting anything done at work lately and seeing a long list of completion has helped reassure me that is not the case.  The minor things matter.

4) The Summer Olympics are coming!!!!!!!!!!!!!

big crowd huge crowd rave crowd woahdude

Y'all, this has reignited my love for sports, specifically artistic gymnastics, in a whole. new. way.  I am constantly watching gymnastic competitions online. My roommates are tagging me in videos. It's a beautiful obsession.

Does anyone else glue to the TV and ignore anything happening around them during the Olympics or is it just me?  Check out who the hopefuls are.  If Simone Biles isn't on the team...nah that's impossible.  I mean check her out.  She hasn't even made it to the Olympics and already has a pass named after her.  #powerhouse

5) My roommate could easily be a weather reporter.
I leave you with this.  Tell me if you don't agree. :)

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

six years ago

Wednesday December 23, 2009.  Six years ago today.  It was so unexpected.  Nobody could have seen it coming.  I mean you had just been cleared that past Friday.  I stood there and watched as you rang the victory bell in the cancer center.

I remember insisting on a picture which was uncharacteristic of me at the time and was always your least favorite thing ever. I had no way of knowing it would be our last…otherwise I might have rethought what I was wearing that day…or you know, fixed my hair.  Oh the awkward/un-coolness that I carried through to college.

I think what stands out most though is your face, it shows the storm you had just weathered.  You took a mighty beating in conquering that cancer.  Your neck a bit toasted from all that localized radiation but man other than that, it never looked better.  I mean who knew you were gonna get a neck lift in the process?

But saying goodbye to you that following Wednesday, I just never saw that coming.  None of us did.  I can remember running my fingers through your beautiful salt & pepper hair.  It was always so thick and fell just perfectly thanks to your careful training over the years.  Holding your strong, big hand.  I hadn’t realized how big they were because even though they had callouses from all of the years furniture refinishing and piddling around the house there was a softness to them.  They were makers hands. 

I remember always thinking it strange that people would want to still be near to someone who had passed away.  And yes, even now it does seem strange but I wouldn’t trade those last few minutes just looking at you one last time.  We’re never ready to let go of someone we love when the time comes…

Some years are heavier than others and this seems to be one of them.  It feels hard to get into Christmas this year.  Perhaps it’s just the heavy season of learning I’m going through or the 77 degree weather outside. Whatever it is I couldn’t help but think this morning as I woke up that I just don’t feel “Christmassy”.  Fully aware of the feelings of loss that were coming fast and furious, and hating that they were there just two days before Christmas. But then…feelings of receiving started to break through.

Yes, 6 years ago I experienced loss but 2000 years ago we all were given a gift.  For the first time this month it felt OK to not feel “Christmassy” because I might have missed it.  Missed the sweetness of Christ’ coming to Earth.  If it means not being all caught up in the cold weather, lights and presents I’ll take it.  I’d rather sit in the wonder of the humility of Christ’ coming as one of us but still being God.  I am overwhelmed with gratefulness.

I am learning that the best way to fight the weight of loss is to respond with gratitude.  There have been so many days in the past few weeks where I have felt the pull to sit in heaviness.  It creeps up in such a way that I don’t even realize what’s happening.  But wow, that’s a crummy way to live life. 

Maybe your struggling too this Christmas.  It doesn’t have to be for the same reasons but you know there is a heaviness that you just can’t seem to shake.

Choose gratitude…even when you don’t feel like it.  This much I know, the more you fight for joy the more it will come.  I choose to praise God for who he is and his deep love for me even when I don’t feel it.  I know it’s true because he has promised it in his Word and he has proven himself faithful.  I don’t always feel it after telling myself the first time.  Sometimes it takes 5 times and more.  Keep reminding yourself of his goodness this season.  I have fallen in love with the verse below and find it to be one of the most reassuring things to me. 

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.  Hebrews 13:8

There is power in the coming of Jesus.  Power in his words. Power in his death and resurrection. 

There is power in the name of Jesus.  

You and I are loved more than we can comprehend.

Merry Christmas

Thursday, September 10, 2015

fashion cycles, a new season and the lion king

Well a new season is coming.  Your thinking back to your walk into work this morning and recalling the heat and humidity that will maintain itself for the next couple of months and thinking, "she must be crazy." Not that season, I'm talking fashion (stay with me). Its that time of year where the new fashion trends are coming out as people prepare for the Fall (obviously only those who can expect to experience a full Fall season).

My mom told me in high school that styles always come back around. Like most teenagers in high school I didn't really believe her or give it much thought.

Then I started receiving email updates from my favorite stores with pictures of these:

You see, I remember these about ten years ago...and I am just not quite ready to jump back into them for multiple reasons.

1) I am ummm...what some might  You will note that those lovely ladies above are rather long and lean.  Not my reality, which I'm quite content with until unflattering styles become the majority.  In fact I commented to a friend of mine, who looks like she could be one of those models, that the styles are totally changing in her favor. High fives for her! 

2) Flare jeans require that heels be worn. As much as I love heels for work, church, special occasions etc. I no longer associate them with jeans.  This starts to make jeans feel like a burden which should NEVER be the case.

3) Skinny jeans have become a beloved friend in my wardrobe and you can bet your sweet Bippy I will be stocking up before they suddenly disappear.

(side note: I don't doubt they will become a part of my wardrobe but I'm still gonna ride out the skinny's as long as I can.)

Seeing those flare jeans I couldn't help but think about how life has its own seasons.  I hear you, " Yes, thank you Captain Obvious." I know, this is nothing new...but man this year has carried a long period of dryness so I'm pretty happy to see signs of change in my life.

The first thing that came to my mind was the scene at the end of Lion King. You know when Simba returns back to Pride Rock to fight Scar and the land is cracked and dry? While he's fighting Scar a fire starts burning the land. Then as he walks up Pride Rock to take his place rain is gushing down and you see the land change from dry, unable to sustain life to luscious and full of growth.

Before you try to connect the dots of symbolism with Simba my focus is on the land.  

I feel exhausted of resources, dried out.  And you know what?  It's OK. Its fine to admit that I am transitioning from one season to another.  This is OK for you too.

The most difficult part of this transition for me has been stepping back from things, much of it being good. 

I do not doubt what the Lord can do and that he can use anyone no matter where they are but, I am learning to observe when the seasons change in my soul. 

We often encourage one another to rest and take a step back but rarely allow ourselves to do so.  

I have noticed that I am quickly depleted on a regular basis. This has led me to take a step back.  

I love something Gary Morland said on this Hope*ologie podcast.

"No matter what season you’re in the seeds of the next season are already there and are already going on, and the change that is gonna come has already started. Ya just can't see it yet."

Sometimes we just need to be reminded that new things are coming.  Growth can be happening even though you can't see it.

May we not diminish the value of growth under the surface that's not all showy to the world. Hope is in the seeds that have already been planted. We will see them soon.

Aaaaaand, if you would like to relive a moment of your childhood this is just for you. Gotta love the musical build up.

Now don't mind me as search for the fastest way to get me hands on a Lion King DVD since I no longer own a VCR.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

a long season...

I can't seem to stop dwelling on how long it has been since I have posted know how absence only makes you want to slink away and disappear all the longer? I'm feeling it. This has been an interesting season of life.  One that I believe will be a mile marker in the grand scheme of things. I say will because...its not over yet.

I have not really been able to find my words during this season. There is so much to process and I feel like I can't keep up.  Each lesson standing alone and holding its own weight of importance. Rather like an over stimulation of learning.

This looooooong season has been hard and there are so many times that I have wanted to tap out (and would've if God had/would let me) but deep in my soul I know I am grateful for the learning.

I have been asking so many questions lately, trying to understand what God is doing or at least what my role is supposed to be.  This constant searching makes it difficult to offer up anything here that seems finished and so I have not written. But I am learning...learning that it is ok to share without it feeling complete or finished because its the middle and we all need to know that there are others around us experiencing the middle to.

One thing I have learned over the past year is that when I have taken time to write in this season, the better I am for it. The more I recognize God's goodness and purpose.

I missed writing but could not figure out how to begin again, but that pull to be here, to share in the experiences we all face, has been building. It is time.

And so I muster up these words that I myself need to believe. No regrets friends.  Let us move forward.  Let us share in each others stories. Let us remember that we are not alone and are creatures created for community. Let us not feel the need to make it perfect before sharing by recognizing that we are a work that is not yet perfect until we meet God.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

when you haven't folded clothes for two weeks...

(Hammocking with Jen, whom I begged to read to me since I left my book at home.  She sweetly obliged)

You thought you would see a picture of unfolded clothes didn't you?  Yea, well I don't feel like a picture of my clothes piled high sitting on the internet for eternity so I figured I'd surprise ya instead.  It relates though, I promise. ;)

I have had a pile of clean (yes, clean) clothes on my bed for two weeks.  Each night I crawl into my bed thinking, "ugh, I need to fold those tomorrow".

It is a rather large pile because it is now about three loads worth of clothes that were only washed so that there would be clean underwear.  I mean lets just be reeeal honest for a moment, that is the only reason most of us wash clothes on a regular basis right?

You might be thinking, "goodness how much clothes does she have that she doesn't need to wash often"?  Well, there has been lots of unnecessary digging for that shirt or those pants in this pile...

You also might be thinking, "is this all she is going to write about? unfolded clothes"?

Nope, it's not.

I just about died when one of my friends came over this weekend and started walking towards my room as she announced, "she hadn't seen my room in the handful of times she had come over and wanted to see it now".

She had arrived at my bedroom door before I could stop her. For that I am grateful.

Even though at the time I was ashamed of the cluttered surfaces, pairs of shoes scattered around and the royally huge pile of clothes on the bed I can reflect back on that memory as beautiful for a few reasons.

1) She didn't judge.  Ok, she might have a little but then quickly let it go.  (thanks Jen!)

2) I had to quickly get over myself and my quest for showing the "neat" home to people.

3) I can climb into bed with a happy, guilt free heart lying next to that pile of laundry.

Lately I have been choosing relationships and sleep over tidiness.  This may seem like a slap in the face to my desire for discipline I shared at the beginning of the year, BUT it has actually been a source of freedom.  Freedom to allow life a little flexibility in discipline.

I realize how contradictory this seems but as God takes me through a season of learning in relationships, I would much rather choose to be present in that season than hold myself to an ideal of discipline.  I believe that he is focusing his attentions of discipline for me in that place right now and I have no intention of turning my back on it.

The neat freak inside of me still cringes a bit when I walk into the clutter and the time to do something about it has almost arrived...but for now I choose to sleep a little more and reflect on the conversations that would not have been had should the clothing be tucked in its proper place.

Sometimes that which is left undone is a reflection of things that have been done.  And so that pile of laundry is a reflection of the friendships which have been given time to grow deeper.

P.S. - I'll be sharing a little bit about how the Whole30 went later this week, but first...some folding. :)