Sunday, April 6, 2014

The one with a look back on VOTD's

I don't write much here anymore.

Seems that most of my writing has been staying in my journal.

In the past, I knew who read this crazy thing. I could say "most of you reading this know xyz about me." But these days, I don't know who reads, or what you know about me.

Something you might not know about me:

In 2009 I began sending out a morning verse of the day to about 10 people.

There's a whole long story to explain WHY I started doing this- and you can ask me about it if you'd like.

But for the purposes of this post, just know I started doing this in 2009 and have been doing it ever since. The list of people who get this has grown.

Monday-Friday at 8am about 80 people get a text message from me with a morning verse of the day. Last year I even started a Twitter account to accommodate a couple people who wanted the verse of the day- but needed it at a different time of day - and last month- an Instagram account.  @VOTDtweet.

I was looking back through some verses and came across these three.

These were sent in the 2 weeks before the apartment fire:

Jesus had gone to the garden to pray before his arrest: “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Mark 14:36. Such a good reminder for when we pray. Sometimes I feel like I'm only allowed to pray "what you want, Lord!" But even Jesus prayed "don't let this happen!! Figure out another way!....BUT. Your will. Bottom line." Have learned this last year- more than any other season of my life- His plan is best. 
Reading about Gideon this morning & how he was about to fight a battle with 32,000 men. God knew if 32,000 men fought- they'd get the credit. So he sent 31,300 men home. That's right. Only 300 would now be fighting. He wanted to MAKE SURE these men knew Who was REALLY fighting the battle for them.  If it seems your team or resources are downsizing, be prepared for God to show you how much he can do with very little. Believe me. He'll take the victory.  
"Even to your old age & gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you, I have made you & I will carry you; I will sustain you & I will rescue you." Isaiah 46:4. To sustain is to keep one from "giving way" under pressure. He says twice he will sustain us. There WILL be pressure. It will seem as though we can not stand. But know this: he WILL sustain us. 

Seems He had been preparing me for what was to come.  He knew I was about to experience a downsizing. :) And trust me. He took the victory.

Not to sound preachy or anything- but. Seriously. Read your Bible. Who knows what He could be preparing you for. You're gonna need to stand on something. And his Word is a good place to stand.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

The one with a spa weekend getaway

30 feels good.

I had an exceptional weekend in Scottsdale with my sisters and dear friend, Helen, to celebrate.

The weekend included movies, shopping, pool time, surprises, presents, fantastic food, and more. So much more. Thanks to these three beauties.

My actual birthday was crazy amazing too, thanks to some special deliveries made to my office and great DC friends. 
I felt celebrated, loved, and so incredibly special. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The one with a 15 minute drive north

I've been alive three decades. (ok, so I'm 5 days shy of that being a true statement)

The first decade will probably always be known the easiest. I mean, seriously. Age 0-10... life isn't that hard. It will always be the most carefree. 

The second one, ages 10-20. The decade I survived. Really. That includes Jr. High and High school. Surviving those years is something to be proud of. It's a tough go for some people. Me included. I wouldn't say there was anything extra special that happened in those ages for me. Aside from leaving home to start college. That's a big deal. But that's just the beginning.

And the third one. The decade I've just completed. The richest, most thrilling decade so far. Ages 20-30.  

The first half of my twenties were not particularly my favorite. That was the season of finishing college, trying to decide what I would do with my life (especially since nursing school didn't work out for me.) There were many tears in that season. Many.

It was the season of finding my first real job. It was the season of figuring out how to do life after college. For 16 years, my life revolved around activities with people near my own age. You go K-12 with people your age. You go to college with people mostly your own age. Then you hit life after college and suddenly you are working with people the same age as your parents. At age 23, I was trying to figure out how to do life in this new stage. 

At the church I'd attended throughout college- I spent most of my time with the high school ministry leading a group of high school girls. This was one of my favorite years. If any of you girls ever read this blog, seriously. YOU WERE THE HIGHLIGHT of my college years. You made life fun. You made my life more rich. I remember coming to the realization that not getting into nursing school was worth it because that meant I got to know each of you. 

Shortly after college, I made a big decision to leave behind what I knew....for the unknown. Instead of driving 15 minutes south to attend my college church, I chose to drive 15 minutes north. I know that sounds like such a small thing to do. But people. 15 minutes north became a game-changer. 

I started attending Gateway Church and Luke 6:38 became a reality for me. "Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." My community of friends was just this. Overflowing. A good measure. Some may have even called it a crazy measure. But it was beautiful. At any given moment, there were about 130 people I could call and say "Let's hang out." I could call and say "I've just cooked. Come over!" I could call in tears and say "I need you to pray for me." I had people in my corner. I knew who they were. I knew I could count on them. 

Many of my friends fell in love during the next several years and 60 weddings later, I knew the time had come for me to take another 15 minute drive north. Except, instead of 15 minutes north, it would be 14 hours east. 

I landed in Tallahassee, Florida with a job beyond what I would have ever dreamed for myself. Beyond what I could have ever known to want. After a year in Tallahassee, an unexpected 15 minute drive north would take place in the way of an apartment fire. We all know that story. After the fire, the people who had been in my corner from decade 0-10, 10-20, and now 20-30... they all showed up. They. Showed. Up. Some I'd not heard from since I was ten, some I'd not seen since I was 23, but no matter what part of life I'd known them in, I was given an incredible glance as to who is in my corner. It's good to have people. It's GOOD to have people in your life that will show up. 

And most of you know, I gathered the remaining things I had and took another 15 minute drive north...Except I literally drove 15 hours north. 

I've landed in Washington, DC and will finish out my 20-30 decade here. I have no idea how long I'll be in DC or what twists and turns this next season will take. I am more assured today than ever before that 30-40 will bring heartache, loss, celebration, and many joys. I'll be able to face each of those seasons with people in my corner. I am not alone. The first thirty years have proven that. 

I'm anticipating the next 15 minute drive north. 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The one with Joey.

So there's kind of this big thing happening in 17 days. And I must admit, five years ago, I thought this would probably be my feelings toward the event:


But in all honesty- I'm feeling ok about thirty. Today, actually, I was sitting outside in the GORGEOUS weather reading a book when the guy in the chair next to me started chatting. Not sure how it came up, but I casually mentioned the fact that I was thirty. I guess that's a good thing that I'm already saying I'm thirty rather than trying to hold on to 29, right? My actual birthday is on a Wednesday so it will be a ho-hum day at work, but I've got dinner plans with some great friends. Then Thursday evening I leave for Arizona where I'll have a spa weekend getaway with my sisters! Excited about the fun weekend ahead and know that between the two of them, they'll help make it a birthday to remember. Cheers!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The one where I'd been tricked

Reading in Isaiah the last few days and this verse shown in the graphic happens to be one of those 'reward' verses. You know, if you can make it through the doom and gloom of the first 30 chapters, you get a happy verse.

It continues with "They will soar on wings like eagles; they'll run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." (Isaiah 40:31) What's not great about that?! This verse, to me, has been a "make-you-feel-good-with-warm-fuzzys" kind of verse.

This morning while reading, I thought to myself, "I've been tricked!" As the years have passed (and believe me...many have passed), I've grown to realize this verse isn't as 'easy' as it sounds. To hope is to expect with confidence; to desire with anticipation.

If you're anything like me, you've probably placed hope in things or people that have let you down. You've probably placed hope in dreams or ideas of things that might happen. You may have placed hope in your job, your bank account, or yourself, even. And when we're let down- the opposite of strength happens. We're weak, deflated, and probably miserable. And then we just decide to stop hoping all together. We think this 'hope' business is crap and not worth our time. But all the while, not realizing we've just been placing our hope in the wrong thing.

So. Any of those three words describing you this week? Weak, deflated, miserable? I'd say they described me the past couple weeks. Might want to do a check to see where hope is being placed. If in the Lord- we're promised strength. And He keeps His promises. THAT, I do know.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Dad's blog post.

My dad wrote a blog post 36 hours after the apartment fire last year.

I go back and read it often.

Especially on days in which I'm tempted to take the pen back and write my own story.

Here's what he wrote:

Minda is our middle child.  She’s 28 years old, but still,…our middle child.
The fact that she is a middle child is probably worth a blog post in itself; or so she would suggest.
But I’ll save that for another time.
If Minda was writing her own life story, it’s safe to say that she would probably be married and a mother of at LEAST 3 kids by now, if not more.  And there would not be a woman more suited for that role; happily in her own house while her husband was off at work providing for their growing family.  I have no doubt that if you popped in on her at home on any given day, you would be greeted with her radiant smile with a baby on her hip in one arm and probably a phone in her other hand offering some encouraging advice to one of her many, many friends.
Of course, you don’t even have to fall under the category of ‘friends’ for her to offer her time or lend an ear to you.  That’s just Minda.
After being invited in,  you would undoubtedly be greeted with the aroma of something….anything…being cooked up in her kitchen.  And I can also say with certainty, there would be any number of craft projects in various stages out on a dining room table, or on the floor where she would have been working with one of her kids.  Worship music would be playing in the background on some device and when you took in your immediate surroundings, you would think you had stepped in to some picturesque storybook depicting the idealistic, all-American family.  I might add that you probably wouldn’t want to leave.  Ever.
But Minda is not writing her own life story.  She forfeited her right to do that years ago when she committed her heart to following Jesus.
She is a woman of faith, and one of the strongest, most committed believers I know, personally.
She will be the first to tell you that she has an unwavering trust that her creator would do a much better job of writing her life story and has allowed Him to do that these past 28 years.  And it’s safe to say, again, that some of those chapters have been difficult ones.  When God is given permission to direct your steps and guide your life, you don’t have the luxury of flipping to the back of the book because you are too impatient to read through…wanting to know how it ends before you even get half way done.  Our youngest daughter, Caralyn, is notorious for doing that.
This past week, Minda faced what has probably been one of her most difficult chapters thus far in her young 28 years.
Due to scheduling limitations with work and travel, she spent her first Thanksgiving by herself there in Tallahassee, FL.  It just didn’t work out for her to come home for just a few days as she had a scheduled business trip to Washington DC this week for her work’s big annual conference.  So instead of sitting at home feeling sorry for herself Thanksgiving morning, she got up and went to run in some local ‘Turkey Trot’ race.  Then cleaned up and went and helped serve dinner in a nearby homeless shelter.
That’s just Minda.
She flew out later that weekend to join her ‘team’ up in our nation’s capital for what was slated to be an intensive and busy week for her.  Minda, if you didn’t know, works for the Excellence in Education, a foundation set up by Gov. Jeb Bush and she is their social media director.
So Tuesday morning, I was awakened by a phone call from her around 5AM our time here in Texas.  She had just been awakened by a phone call from the police department in Tallahassee and they were quite relieved to hear her answer her phone.  They then proceeded to tell her that her apt back home was fully engulfed in flames.  Need I say, that is not the way you want to start out one of the busiest weeks of your life when you are 1500 miles away from home.
It has been only about 36 hours since this drama has unfolded.  And feeling about as helpless as any parent can feel, Kathy and I have only stood on the distant sidelines and watched with gut wrenching emotions as the reality of all this has sunk in.
I could literally write page upon page of what we have witnessed in the past 36 hours testifying to the grace we have seen poured out on our middle child.  And I know she will do that at a later time on her own blog.  But just to mention a few things that have struck me  personally and move me to tears everytime I think of it –
-one of the first things we all gasped at when pondering the potential loss  was all her personal journals and diaries that she has kept for years.  Yesterday, around lunch, she was sent a text message along with a photo of her Rubbermaid container that had all of her writings, fully entact.  Very little else survived the fire.
-the outpouring of support, emotional, prayer, financial, etc from friends all across the country has just overwhelmed her.  One friend back here in Dallas set up an online donation center where people from all over are pouring in to it.  It is humbling to see the response, and even more humbling to read the comments that people are leaving her.  You can visit that site here:  PAY IT FORWARD SITE
Minda was already planning to relocate to DC later in January.  Needless to say, there’s one thing on her ‘to do’ list that can be scratched off as her plans to move remain unchanged.
With 2013 just weeks away,  Minda will have a whole new perspective on getting a ‘fresh start’ in a new year. But if anyone was suited to take on the challenge, it’s my middle daughter.
I so wish that I could do more for her right now.  But I have no doubt her Heavenly Father can, and is, and will continue to do as He has always done for her.  I know it’s hard to believe I’m not impartial when I say this, but Minda Corso has a remarkable story that would inspire anyone.  She has a gift…to touch people.  And I have never been more reminded of that as I have this past day and a half.   I just never would have seen years ago…this journey …this path…this story she would be living out before our eyes.  But then…I’m not the one writing her life story either.
The picture above was taken about 3 or 4 years ago when her and I went to our first Dallas Cowboy Football game on Thanksgiving.  (She’s a big Cowboy fan…and might I add, that beloved jersey you see her wearing in the photo- it survived the fire.  Go figure.)
One last thing I need to share here- yesterday, well in to the afternoon, as she was trying to maintain her thoughts and emotions, staying fixed on the task at hand, yet struggling internally with all she was facing…a staff member who had no idea of what had transpired passed her in a hall of some sorts and commented on her countenance.  He said something to the effect that:  ”You should win an award for the person with the best mood today!”  Minda’s comment to us regarding that was: “apparently everyone’s prayers for peace are working”
But…that’s just Minda.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The one with a warm meal

"There's no replacement for what happens when we make something with our own hands, directed by our own senses, motivated by our own love for the people we're serving."

It's cold in DC. REALLY cold. And I love it.

After a fantastic ski trip weekend to West Virginia, I came back to DC and prepared for the blizzard they were calling for.

Several coworkers were in town from Tallahassee for work meetings and because of the storm- were stranded and unable to get out on time.

Which means I had the opportunity to have Sarah over to my apartment for homemade soup.

I didn't need to rush home to clean, there was no need to fret about what was or was not in my fridge, I just was able to get what I needed and prepare a meal for a dear friend.

Sarah, thanks for sharing a meal with me. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to "make something with my own hands, motivated by my love for YOU, the person I was serving."