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!

The Peppermint Mocha Chronicles: O Holy Night.

Sunday at church they put on a Christmas choir and drama production. It included a slew of fantastic, traditional Christmas music and a great message about slowing down and remembering that Jesus came for you, because He loves you more than anyone else.

One of the standout points to me was the idea that as we get older, and life gets to us, the holidays lose a little bit of their shine. So often we become embittered and hurt by the season and it actually becomes more of a dread than a joy (I know I find myself here.) As we were hearing about the importance of going back to the meaning, I started thinking about all the Christmas carols that were being sung, and how much I love them. I remember always singing Christmas songs at home when I was little; at church, dancing around with the record player. They are just a fundamental part of the holiday for me. And I started to wonder if that tradition is sort of evaporating…as we tune out Christmas songs (because let’s be honest, they play the same 15 on the radio for two months…) and everything becomes more mainstream and pop culture…will my kids even know these traditional songs?

The final tune was one of my favorites, O Holy Night. I wanted to share it because the lesser known verses, specifically the third, really hit me this week. It’s so powerful. And as I was thinking about all this music that is so familiar to me, I realized I never really let the words sink in; I’m just so used to the melody. So again in the spirit of being present, I give you some lyrics to think about.

Do you have a favorite Christmas carol?

O Holy Night!
The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Saviours birth;
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
‘Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn;
Fall on your knees,
Oh, hear the angels voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!
O night, O holy night,
O night divine!

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand;
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming,
Here came the wise men from Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus in lowly manger,
In all our trials born to be our Friend;
He knows our need,
To our weakness is no stranger.
Behold your King, before Him lowly bend!
Behold your King, before Him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace; 
Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother,
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name;
Christ is the Lord,
Oh, praise His name forever!
His powr and glory evermore proclaim!
His powr and glory evermore proclaim!

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.

What I’m {not} Giving Up for Lent.

This past week I attended an Ash Wednesday service with some of my best friends. As we sat down, I reluctantly posed a question that I was somewhat embarrassed of:

“So…um…what exactly is the significance of Ash Wednesday?”

* Blank Stares *

A game of telephone progressed down our entire row of 20-something, madly-in-love-with-Jesus, friends. And the answer came back…

No one knew.

Well, at least I wasn’t alone! The service was great; very moving and a deep reminder of the sin that we all participate in and how important repentance is in our lives.

And of course when I got home, I did the first thing I could think of: Googled “Ash Wednesday”

Our good friend Wikipedia cleared up the question a little bit.  It also confirmed what we had pieced together as the purpose of Ash Wednesday: it symbolizes the start of Jesus’ 40 days of temptation, fasting and prayer leading up to Easter and His sacrifice. Otherwise known as the first day of Lent.

Now onto the big reveal of my title…I’m giving up nothing.

I’m sometimes very entertained by what people choose to give up for Lent;  it’s a decision that seems to rank right up there with New Year’s Resolutions.

But believe it or not, Lent is not about survival of the fittest. It’s not a game of “who can be more disciplined” or really how strong you are at all. It’s actually about our complete and utter weakness; remembering Jesus’ sacrifice for each of us and focusing on your relationship with Him.

And for some reason, giving up chocolate or soda just doesn’t do that for me.

The past few years I have made a point to not actually give anything up. I did try. One year in college I fasted on Fridays. What I came to understand was that I spent all day focusing on how hungry I was…on telling people I was fasting for Lent (because bragging is what every good Christian does)…and eventually caving and gorging on an entire sleeve of Thin Mints at work (yes, that actually happened. More than once.) What I came to understand is that giving up something for Lent didn’t help me to focus on Jesus unless I took that saved time and dedicated it to Him and allowed Him to fill me instead of a worldly item. So, I changed my game plan.

Instead, I now make the decision to do what is necessary to make Jesus my focus for these 40 days. I give up whatever I need to give up to make sure I have time with Him each day. One day that might be tv; the next it might be an hour of sleep when I’m really tired. But regardless, I’m taking that saved time and depending on Jesus to give me what I need. And that is the purpose of this season, to me.

So I wonder, what are you giving up? (If anything.) And how are you using that sacrifice/time to go to Jesus and let Him fill you?