Stayin’ Alive.

I’m running out of witty titles for this series, can you tell?

As the year is winding down (good golly, can you believe that?) I thought I should do another check-in on my One Word 365 challenge. It’s been awhile, right?

This year has certainly been Alive (my word) though at times I’ve felt like I might be on life support. A few highlights of my journey…

– In March I took a new job for the first time in almost 5 years. It was hard. I cried for days. Sometimes I still cry about it.

– And then 6 months later…I took a different new job. (Good things always happen when you’re not looking, right?) Entirely new field. Entirely new responsibilities. But, oh so much fun to learn.

– I got involved with the Komen Young Professionals Board and Dress for Success Columbus. One of my goals this year was to get involved with a nonprofit where I could not only give to a local cause I care about, but also use some of my professional skills and event planning interests. Bingo!

– Not only did we start dancing again and The Movement Mission was formed, but I’m choreographing a piece for our show in February. This dance has been in my heart for nearly 5 years and it’s slowing figuring itself out. It’s nerve-racking but also so satisfying to put yourself out there.

– I started making intentional “me” time…simple things like quiet times in the morning, actually taking a lunch hour, going to yoga, early Saturday morning walks. Things that refresh my heart.

– I’m going to NYC for Thanksgiving with my momma and I CANNOT WAIT! Macy’s parade, Broadway, the Rockettes and so much holiday fun. If you have suggestions on places to visit or eat, please leave a comment!

– I really started to look my relationship with God in the face. I stared down some bad choices I had been making the past few years and made some hard decisions. I decided to stop throwing a temper tantrum with Him and pursued Him instead. And though I don’t completely feel fixed, it does feel incredible not to feel like I’m constantly swimming against the current. It feels good to see beauty in the world again.

And now we’re almost to my favorite time of year…Peppermint Mocha Season! I’ve been pretty selfish this year (which I don’t always think is a bad thing. You have to take care of yourself so you can take care of others) but these last months of the year are my favorite to look outward and focus on relationships and others. Are you ready, people? November is coming! Let’s do it big this year.

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That Time James Gave it to Me Straight.

Have you ever had one of those moments when you take a good, long look at yourself and you’re like…

“Oh man…that’s ugly.”

Now let’s be clear that I’m talking about your internal self; because you, my sweet friend, are gorgeous no matter what. 

I had one of these epiphanies the other day after a conversation with a friend that left me feeling a little convicted. There’s a disconnect sometimes between what we I believe and what  we I portray our my beliefs to be to others. It’s so easy to get swept up in other people’s opinions, the gossip, the negativity and all those other things you think will get you accepted. 

Big life transitions (for me, my recent job change) have a tendency to make you analyze yourself. It’s a chance to start over and re-vamp problem areas. After the aforementioned conversation, I went to my home base, the Bible, to do something I honestly haven’t done much of lately. Read it. 

And of course, per usual, it kicked me in the stomach. In a good way. Right there, in the pages of James, were the words I needed to read. The ugliness I have let grow in myself for far too long. That’s the interesting thing about toxic behavior…you don’t realize how big it’s getting until it’s grown out of control.

Take a read with me (this is long and kind of random, I apologize. But it just kept jumping out!)

James 1:21-26
“Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.”

James 2:12-26
“Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment. What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless ? Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone. In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.”

James 3:3-12
“When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.”

James 3:17
“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”

My tongue is ugly. How about yours? And my actions? They sometimes stink too. 

Words AND deeds. Both are part of our faith and beliefs. You can’t be fully committed without both, as in any relationship in your life. And on the same note, both affect each other. They can build each other up or they can tear the other one down. Hypocrisy is not a fun place to be, but it’s often where I find myself when both my tongue and my actions aren’t aligned.

But I think this is all part of The Year of Alive, right? We grow by moving forward in places where there is work to be done.

And as I tell my student tour guides…”Think about what is going to come out of your mouth before it comes out of your mouth.” Is it really what you want people to hear? Would someone who has never met you before understand your message? Do your actions match what you’re saying?

Suppose I better listen to my own advice, ya think?

MonthlyOneWord150

I’m linking up with my One Word 365 friends over on Only A Breath! Be sure to check out the monthly updates.

Happy Friday…love you friends!

2013: The Year of Alive.

It’s here already. Holy moly. Is it me, or did 2012 go faster than any year on record?

Anyway, it’s here. December 31, 2012. Out with the old, in with the new right? We’re winding down the holidays, closing out the books, reflecting and setting new goals for a new year. Just like every other year.

Just like every other year.

I have a confession. I’ve been in a rut. Like, a massive crater of a hole. And the reality is I dug it myself. I’ve been comfortable (which is by no means a bad thing.) I have good friends, a good job, good parents, a good house…you get the picture.

It’s all good.

But I’m not ready to settle for good. That’s what I’ve been doing. I’ve been o.k. with life just being comfortable. I mean, I worked a lot of years to get to comfortable! I survived high school, I freaked out through college, and somehow managed to crawl through the past few years transitioning into adulthood (which, PS, no one tells you is going to be the HARDEST TIME OF YOUR LIFE. Praise God for our friends.) Let’s not lie, it’s still hard. But, as I’m about to turn 28 later this week, I have had a realization.

I’m not dead.

(Alright, I can see this is where you start thinking that I’m being a drama queen. “No Heather, your life is not over just because you’re in your late twenties.” I know, I know. But you should try spending majority of your time with college students…trust me, I feel old. There are slang words and dance moves I don’t know!)

Annnnnyway. I’ve been treating life like I climbed to the top of some grandiose mountain top and here I shall now stay and find a way to be content. Because clearly this is all there is.

Um, excuse me. No. (Sometimes you have to get a little sassy to life.)

For years I’ve been hanging onto one of my favorite bible verses: “Be still, and know that I am God;…” Psalm 46:10. And yes, it’s still one of my favorite verses. Contentment in God is one of the core truths of life. However, not too long ago we were talking with our life group and I remembered one of the greatest pieces of advice I have ever heard in my life.

Pray and move. 

For the love of it all, be still for a time, but then do something! Talk to God about it. Pray, pray, pray all day, everyday. But do something as you’re praying. Faith in God means faith in the reality that He will divert any plan that isn’t His. He’s not going to let you do something harmful to your life as long as you’re in Him. Pray and move.

Ok, so this was a really long, drawn out way for me to get to my point. My point is, I’ve been trying to change my prayer. Away from my usual: “Why is this happening?…what do you want from me?…what am I supposed to do now?”

Do you see the main problem there? Yep. That’s right. Me.

So now here’s the new goal: “What do YOU want my heart’s desire to be?…what do YOU want from me?…what do YOU need me to be doing?”

Ahhhh. Better. I’m by no means claiming to be the queen of praying and seeking (on the contrary, I’m actually really bad at it) but I’m trying.

So this is probably about the time you’re wondering about the title of this post, am I right? What does Alive have to do with anything? Well, remember what I said? I’m not dead. Yippee!

Alive is what this year is about. In all sense of the word. Celebrating being alive (this week is dedicated to that…Birthday Girl!), finding passions that make me come alive, rejoicing in the fact that I (and YOU) are alive, and FEELING: joy, pain, hurt, love, anxiety, all of it. Being real and being alive. Experiencing new things. Not just sitting and being content. And of course, all with some sass and sarcasm (come on, this is me we’re talking about.)

This has been one of my favorite quotes in recent years…

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” 
–Howard Thurman

So here we go. Alive in 2013. Who’s with me? Will you explore being alive? Will you try something new with me? Will you choose your own word and share it with me?

I decided to be part of a blog project this year, One Word 365 (see the logo over there —> Look, and come back to finish reading!) It’s a community of people who each choose one word to live their years by and share their experiences. I started following it last year and decided to jump on board this year.

I believe in this year. And my goodness do I hope it goes a little slower than last year!

Here we go, loves. Here we go.

The Peppermint Mocha Chronicles: A Sabbath Day.

Sunday morning my three best friends and I set out to Dawes Arboretum in search of some quiet time. We piled in the car with a breakfast picnic (of course I forgot my contribution at home in my fridge) and a plan to relax and catch up. And we were greeted by some spectacular colors.

After a bite to eat, we started out on the trails. It was a perfect day to be outside! (and probably one of the last we’ll have this season.) It wasn’t long before we ran into nature at it’s finest.

Earlier last week we were talking about a Sabbath  and what exactly that means. So often parts of Christianity are adorned with so many rules and regulations that the point gets lost in the “how to.” After some discussion and sharing, we came to the concept that a Sabbath is a day set aside for you to rest; whatever that means to you. A day for you to reconnect with God and yourself, to enjoy what you’re doing and to allow yourself to relax. There’s a difference between being lazy out of exhaustion or depression and choosing to let yourself enjoy some downtime. And believe me, the latter feels much sweeter than the first scenario. No matter how busy, we all need to take time out to recharge…because an empty tank of gas won’t get you very far.

So that’s what Sunday was about…getting out of the norm with each other and taking a couple of hours to just unwind and chill. We got to talk about some of the junk going on in all our lives. And we got to remind each other just how wonderful our little family is.

And of course, it was a great way to spend the start of the holiday season and live in the moment. Do you remember my challenge? How are you doing on that?!

Here’s to a great week and some restful time for us all.

Today, revisited.

Approximately a year ago I wrote the following post about one of my students, who lost her mom after a valiant fight with cancer. A year later, my feelings couldn’t be more true. I continue to be proud and impressed by the young adults I spend my days with. They challenge me everyday to live in the moment and be better than yesterday.

So, I thought it worthy of a re-post. To remind us to keep loving, wherever you may be in life, because you never know where it will take you.

Today my heart broke. Today I cried through a memorial service for a woman I never knew; a mom of one of my students, who lost a battle with cancer last week. Today I stood in front of some one I met three years ago, as a 17-year-old high school student; one of several hundred I would come to know that year, never thinking that I would be standing with her during one of the hardest points in her life. I also watched her peers, students who not too long ago were strangers, stand up and support her. I have never been more proud to know these students. I was so inspired by the message encompassed in the service. Today I’m reminded of the journey life has taken me on the past few years and the purpose it serves.

Today my frustration over “I feel like my job is my life” paused for a few moments. Because yes, my job is my life. It’s not just how I pass the time in my day. It’s not just a mindless motion I go through. My job is the people and relationships that have become intertwined in who I am. It’s the idea that we can never really know the impact we’ll have on another human being or the roll we’ll play in their life.  My job is to love. 

And so is yours.

I was reminded of the phrase “You may be the only Jesus some people will ever know.” How true. Each of us exists in a specific place for a reason. Use that time well. Encourage. Support. Savor all that people are. Show some one what it means to be loved well. Take advantage of the opportunity to leave a mark on another person, no matter how small. Because it’s not about our plan, it’s about His plan. And we each have a part to play in it.

While discussing the news of the above situation with a friend last week, we had the following exchange…

Me: “…I get way too emotionally attached.”
Lindsey: “No such thing as being too attached.”

Thank you, friend. You’re right. We can never care too much. But it sure would be interesting if we all tried. Maybe we should give it a shot?

You can read the original post here.

Gratituesdays: Reminder.

I’ve had kind of a rough past week and, admittedly, gratitude was not always in the front of my mind. But then I found this little phrase that reminded me of the exact inspiration what started the Gratituesday posts.

So as a reminder to myself, this week I’m focusing on being thankful for all that I have and not being frustrated for what I feel I’m lacking. Because in my heart of hearts, I believe in God’s perfect plan and timing (even if it is UBER-frustrating to be patient for that.) And there is nothing else I could ever want more than His unending love.

How are your Gratituesdays going?