Sunday, January 31, 2016

The one with the revelation

I had a revelation this weekend that is so elementary I almost feel silly sharing it with you.

I've actually had a couple of those recently. I'll start with the one I REALLY shouldn't share- and then move to the one that I'll share simply in case it might encourage you. 

I was dropping off a few items at the dry cleaner a couple months ago, when I looked around and realized I didn't see any washing machines, etc. The sweater I was leaving behind for them to take care of was one that REALLY could not go in the washing machine. As I walked away, I had the realization... (yes, I'm truly about to admit this on my public blog).... that's why it's a DRY cleaner. Water is not used. Hmmm. 31 years old and just making that connection. Now. There is a solvent used at the cleaners, but I'd recommend for your own sanity you not google that mess. Trust me.  

But seriously. I walked around for probably the next 24 hours baffled at how I could just be having that revelation. I may or may not have muttered to myself several times as well..."a DRY cleaner..."

Now that you realize how slow I am for some revelations, this next one might not sound AS bad. 

2016 has not been the easiest year. And we're only one month in. 

It's not really the month that's been bad- but several things leading up to the month of January have made for an especially hard month. 

There is a lot of uncertainty right now for me. In more than one area of my life. And I honestly have NO clue what my life will look like in March. (one. month. away.) 

There have been many moments in my life where I've been in a similar position that I'm in right now. BIG decisions needing to be made- but having no clue as to what I'll be doing or where I'll be. Reflecting back on those moments from years past, I'm more confident and more aware that never once has He left me on my own. He's never let me walk that road alone. 

So this time around, I've had a confidence and calmness. 

Yesterday, at leadership retreat for National Community Church, Pastor Mark was talking about our theme for this year: So far, So God. 

He referenced a story from Genesis 33 where Jacob is traveling after a crazy family/relationship/life drama situation and on his way, he stops and sets up an altar and calls it "El Elohe Israel" which means 'Mighty is the God of Israel.' Pastor Mark made note that the name Israel isn't referring to a location or to a country. It's him. God had changed Jacob's name to Israel a couple chapters back. (really. it's a great story. you should check it out.)

But in that moment, all I heard was "Mighty is the God of Minda."

Friends, readers, strangers.... when I heard that, all I could do was weep.

The revelation is this: Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus. 

When we trust, it really is sweet. 

When we fear, there is no sweetness. 

There have been times that I've trusted through tears and through nail biting. It was more fear and little trust. 

This time around, the tables have turned and it's more trust and little fear. I can truly look back on the last decade of my life and say "So far, So God." His fingerprints have been all over my life. 

I cried a lot yesterday. Not out of fear. But out of the understanding that it truly is sweet to trust in Jesus. 

Mighty is the God of Minda. 




Thursday, January 7, 2016

The one with a good surprise

I'm a sucker for a good surprise. Always have been, most likely always will be. I love when an author can write a story line in such a way that keeps me guessing until the last minute. I've been known to yell out loud while reading when such a surprise happens. I'll keep reading the book even if I guess the plot/villain from chapter 1, but it's more exciting to read when I don't know the outcome. Granted, I always like a good ending. But still.

The surprise I remember most clearly was on my 26th birthday. Two friends were taking me to dinner. I had a hunch a few other friends would "surprisingly" be at the restaurant. And they were. Then in walked my parents. Wasn't expecting that. We went to Laura's house after dinner for dessert and I had a hunch a couple more people would be around. And when I walked in- I was STUNNED. The room was full of people. I thought that was it. They did it. They surprised me.

But then.

Out came the biggest surprise. You know the one. The present you've not told anyone you want. The present you've been dreaming about.  The one- that if you actually got- would be a miracle because you hadn't even hinted around about wanting it.

My friends pitched in and got me a red KitchenAid mixer. For some- that doesn't seem like a big deal. But if you know me at all- you know it's a big deal.

I can't imagine being more surprised than I was in that moment.

I've talked some on this blog about how I have not been very good at "asking." For various things. Asking for help, asking for gifts, making a Christmas list, etc. I've known for quite some time that asking doesn't mean I will receive what I ask for. And when you ask for something and receive it- an element of the surprise that I love so much is gone. I contradict myself. I'm aware. :)

So in my unanswered, or seemingly unheard prayers, I wonder if God–who knows my desires more than anyone– is thinking to Himself "she loves a good surprise. That's the Minda I want to speak to today."

So. Today I'm deciding whether or not I should ask or if I should anticipate a surprise.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The one with Valero.

At the beginning of the year, several friends arranged a trip to a Virginia winery to enjoy the budding spring weather. The plan was to leave after church on a Sunday and drive out. My friends Jason and Dan were stuck with me this particular drive and after fighting with DC traffic to get OUT of the city- it was way past our lunch time. 

The further we drove, the more we thought "surely we'll see something." 

But no. 

We were approaching 1:30pm and none of us had eaten breakfast. 

Hangry began to settle in.

We were on a rural road headed towards the winery, seeing no hope of any sort of food, and up ahead was a Valero gas station. I declared from the backseat "ooooh! Maybe they'll have some legit tacos!"

The guys looked at me as though I had two heads. As we drove past and realized this gas station would, indeed, NOT have tacos, I yelled from the backseat "SUCK IT, VALERO!"

Remember. Hangry had set in. 

The guys doubled over in laughter at my outburst. But I needed FOOD.

We ended up turning around and finding a grocery store. We ate. We lived. We lived to tell about it too. 

Throughout the year, we've found ourselves saying "suck it, valero!' when something isn't going the way we want it to. Or just because we need a laugh. Either way. The guys think I was making up this taco thing. 

UNTIL.

Jason. He's in Texas right now. And I just received a text message from him saying "I can now confirm that yes, they do sell tacos at every gas station in Texas. Even this one:" 


Validation. Yes. That sign does, in fact, say "Habaneros Tacos"

Suck it, Valero!



Thursday, December 10, 2015

The one with journaling tips

Over the years, I've been asked multiple times about journaling, how I stay committed, and how I even made it a habit. Here are some tips you may find helpful. 
  • First: Buy a good journal -This is probably the MOST important, yet tricky step. It has to be a comfortable journal for you. It has to have good paper, appropriate line width, and ease of access to suit your needs. I'll explain what I like and why i like it to help you understand the importance. 
    • Decide if you want to write on both sides of the page. This will help determine if you need spiral bound or a stitched spine.
      • If you want to write on BOTH sides of the page- spiral bound is better. You don't have to fuss with a spine that isn't flexible. (This was a major frustration for me in the beginning. I would try to MAKE the spine flexible and end up damaging the spine and paper wouldn't stay in.) Spiral is my go-to. I can flip the journal any which way and write comfortably.
      • If your choice is to write on only one side of the paper- then a stitched spine OR spiral is ok to use. 
    • Decide if you want lines or no lines on your paper.
      • If you are a creative and lines make you feel restricted- go with no lines! If you need structure (that's me!) then go with lines. But make sure they are a comfortable width for your handwriting style. I had several journals with lines that were very narrow and I felt my handwriting ended up being ugly and uncomfortable. I never ended up writing in that journal more than 5 pages. Some people write very small and a narrow width of lines is great for them. Not me. I needed wider lines to accommodate my handwriting mood. 
    • Decide on thickness of paper:
      • This is mainly determined by which sort of pens/pencils you prefer. If you like super inky pens that bleed (totally fine) then you need a thicker paper. Just make sure to take that into consideration when purchasing your journal.
      • I prefer a thicker paper as my writing utensil of choice changes frequently. I like writing with sharpie pens some days which will bleed through. Also- if you are opting to only write on ONE side of the paper- this isn't as important of a decision. But if you want to write on both sides- pen choice and paper thickness is key.
    • Decide on size of journal:
      • If this is your first journal or you know in the past you've not been able to complete a journal- don't go for a huge journal! Pick a smaller option that will be easier to fill.
I have been using an Ecojot journal since 2007. I started out with their regular journal (5x7, 80 pages) and then moved to the jumbo journal shortly after (6x9, 150 pages). The jumbo journal is a big commitment for a newbie- so I strongly recommend something smaller to START with- but if you see journaling working for you- then go ahead and move to a bigger journal 
  • Second: Find a time/place. I love to start my morning with a cup of coffee, my journal, and my couch. This wasn't always the case. In the beginning- I needed to get OUT OF MY HOUSE so I wouldn't fall back asleep. Starbucks became my place. I'd get ready for work, drive to the closest Bux, and read/journal for 40 minutes. THEN I'd go to work. If you know me at all- you know night time wasn't the best time for me. I go to bed early. If you are at your best at night- then that's the time for you. If mornings are when you are on your game- try fitting 30 minutes in to your routine. Grab some coffee, a cup of tea, a diet dr. pepper….whatever it is you need to feel right- grab it  and make it happen. Find your spot. In a comfy chair or couch, outside on a patio, at a coffee shop...find your spot. 
  • Third: Don't limit your writing to one specific thing. Some people feel they need to clarify if it's a daily journal or a prayer journal, etc. Don't limit yourself. If some days you need to write about an event that happened, do so. If some days you need to write out a prayer, do so. If you need to use your journal to take sermon notes, do so. 
    • Journaling prayers: Confession. I'm not a good prayer-er. I get sidetracked. I get sleepy. I've found that journaling prayers helps accomplish several things. It helps me to actually pray. And it documents the things I've asked of God….and when I go back and read- I see how He's proved himself faithful. Also. When i 'pray journal' for friends/family, I can write for DAYS. If you are needing to get in the habit of writing- I highly suggest this. I start with people that I love and just go to town. It's easy to ask things of God for people that I love. 
    • Life events: This is often an area that trips people up. They don't feel as though they have enough exciting things in their life happening to warrant writing about. Write about your day if you feel like it. Did you meet someone new? Jot their name down. Did you eat at a new restaurant you loved? Write it down and list what you had. Did something at work frustrate you? Write it down. Did you get an email/text from a friend that encouraged you? Write it down. Life events doesn't have to be the BIG things. And when you write it down- you're making the small things BIG things and then life ends up being more exciting :)
    • Song lyrics: Not feeling like you want to write? Not feeling inspired? Is there a song you've been listening to on repeat? Write the lyrics down. No need to expound on them. Just write them.
    • Verses: A verse that encouraged you? Write it down.
  • Fourth: What to do if you forget to write several days or even several weeks in a row: Open the journal and just start writing. What to do if a REALLY big life event happens and you don't have the time or the hand strength to write that much? Type it out- print it off- and tape it to a page in your journal. I do this often. Some days I want to write a LOT more than what i have time for or my handwriting will allow for. Type it- Print it- and tape it. I've received text messages that were encouraging or funny- or just something I wanted to remember and I'll screen shot the text- print it out- and tape it to a page in my journal.
  • Fifth: Be Honest. Be Real. Be You. Your journal shouldn't have a filter. This isn't to say it should be a black box and you can write hateful things about other people, but be honest. If you are upset- write it. If you are over the top excited about something- write it. I'll be honest- I cuss in my journal. Some days I am so confused by what God seems to be doing in my life- and I let him know. I think he appreciates the honesty. I think he WANTS that from us. Think of your journal as a best friend. The person you would tell anything to. It's good to be open and honest about life. Don't sugar coat how things are going. Writing the honest and real thoughts can spur you on to pray for certain things. It can encourage you to deal with certain things rather than keep it all inside. Some days- you just need to write it out to get it off your chest. Once you write it- you'll find life is a bit easier. It helps put things into perspective. It doesn't solve the problem- but it allows you to get out your thoughts and make a game plan to attack your problems. If life is grand- it documents that and reminds you that life is good, that God is good. It helps you to remember to be purposeful about seeking God and thanking him for the GOOD things- not just when we need something. 

Friday, November 27, 2015

The one where three years have passed

I don't think it's possible for me to ever forget this day.

I can't imagine ever forgetting that 5am phone call.

I can't imagine ever forgetting the feeling of seeing the images for the first time.

The one year anniversary of the fire was a hard one. I was in a rough place.

The two year anniversary of the fire was sweeter. I'd come farther, I'd begun healing.

On this three year anniversary of the fire, it is well with my soul. 

If you don't know me at all, and you had no idea about a fire....you can read here:

The fire, part 1

The fire, part 2

The not-so-pretty-almost-one-year-update 

The One Year update


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The one where the escalator wins

The city is out to get me.

Last week, I began my Monday morning commute by walking to the metro. As I normally do.

I stepped on the escalator to go down to the platform, and within 2 seconds, I realized that was a horrible decision.

The platform was PACKED full of people. So full- that the people exiting the escalator had no where to go. They started to pile up on each other. I heard them yelling and decided my only option to delay my impending doom was to start running UP the escalator that was sending me down.

I knew I had to be faster than the escalator so I was going as fast as I could; all the while, telling people at the top NOT to get on the escalator. Someone finally came to their senses and hit the emergency stop button.....but without warning. So my body- which was being projected upward fast- was projected down. I slammed into the escalator stairs. Someone helped me up, I walked over to a corner, and assessed the damage. There were tears. There was blood. But I pulled myself together and made it to work.

THEN.

On Saturday. I'd finished running with my #OwnPaceSamePlace group, we enjoyed a cup of coffee, and all headed to our respective homes. It was a particularly windy and cold morning in DC. So instead of walking home as intended, I decided I could run.

While running down Louisiana Avenue, a huge gust of wind knocked a large branch out of a tree and it just so happened to land on me. The branch was probably 5 feet long. I tripped, staggered, and then stopped to look around. Did that REALLY just happen? Yes. Yes it did.

While I may have bruises, pulled muscles, and a nervous twitch, I'm alive and well.

That's all.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

The one with the sighs.

I've had a lot of heavy sighs lately.

At home and at work. Just a lot of deep, heavy sighs. As though I've forgotten to breathe. Or as though I've been carrying a heavy load, have finally set it down, and taken a deep breath to regroup.

I only mention this because in the last several months, people have noticed my sighing. I don't mean to do it. It just happens. And people have made comments. "You good? You ok? Everything alright?"

This morning, a pastor at my church made a passing comment about a verse his family loves.

"Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my sighing." (Psalm 5:1)


Consider my sighing.

I absolutely love this.

I mean, I know the Bible talks about how our tears have been recorded and the number of hairs on our head are numbered. But our sighs. Consider my sighs.

He is so deeply aware of every part of us. And cares about each and every part.

There is nothing that has been overlooked.

Consider my sighs, Lord.