Thursday, September 12, 2013

I Told You So

Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body. Proverbs 16:24

The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. Luke 6:45

 Do you ever look back on something you did or said and just cringe?!  How did you ever think that was a good idea?  Why on earth would you ever justify doing that?  How could you talk to someone that way?  Unfortunately, I’ve had many of those moments...insert foot in mouth.

A few years ago, I used a phrase that rarely brings good things—“I told you so.”  During a large event, a co-worker (not to mention a dear friend) of mine was extremely stressed.  We had discussed an issue about the event, but she had decided not to take my advice—which is fine.  Unfortunately, the night of the event, she panicked about the very issue we had discussed and came to tell me about it.  What an incredible moment for me to have comforted her, consoled her, helped her, done anything for her.  A moment that someone needed encouragement, validation, a hug.  But being stressed out with my own responsibilities, I simply said “I hate to say it, but I told you so.”

Ugh.  My cheeks still flush hot with shame when I think about that.  What a snarky, smart-aleck, insensitive comment.  What a misrepresentation of my heart, and God’s heart.  My dear friend simply looked at me and walked away distressed.

Of course the event went great that night.  But I didn’t enjoy any of it.  I felt so embarrassed and ashamed and guilty that I would belittle someone I love and show such poor leadership and insensitivity.  After the event, I asked if she would forgive me.

The power of words is so profound.  Rarely do our words have a neutral effect on someone.  Unless you say “I told you so—I TOLD you that you were going to be great!”  “I told you, you could do it!”  “I told you, you are so capable!”, don’t ever use that destructive phrase the way that I did.  It is so unhelpful, so unnecessary.  I wish I had that moment again so I could say, “How can I help?  It will be great!  Don’t worry!  Let’s figure it out together.”  Our words can positively or negatively affect people, and I want to choose to build people up with my words.  I want to be a Barnabus…his name means “Son of Encouragement.”  I love that!

I’m grateful for the grace and forgiveness my friend showed me, and for the opportunity, although it was a hard lesson, to learn just how powerful words can be.

Use them wisely…

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Dumb Wedding Traditions

“How’s the wedding planning going?”

This is the #1 question I have been asked this year.  And it’s hard to succinctly answer.  I mean, my Pinterest boards are awesome.  My dress is perfect.  And my soon-to-be husband is the greatest.  So, overall things are going awesome. 

If we’re talking details, I don’t have anything borrowed, blue, or old.  I don’t know to what degree of transparency I want that little sheet of paper over the invitations to be.  And I really don’t know how I should get my nails done—acrylics?  Gel?  French?  Glitter on my ring finger—too trendy?

One great thing about getting married when you’re thirty is that you have a pretty good idea of what you like and what you don’t like.  I went to a lot of weddings in my twenties, and it’s impossible not to take mental notes of what you want your own day to be like…or what you don’t want it to be like.

Now, don’t get me wrong—I like weddings.  I like dresses and flowers.  I really like cake.  But in the process of planning my own wedding, some traditional wedding customs have come under serious scrutiny.  Tradition cannot be the sole reason to do something, in my opinion.

First, let’s talk about garters.  I can’t think of a less comfortable (or flattering) place for a piece of elastic to go on my body.  Nor do I want it to be thrown to a wolf pack of guys, where it will inevitably be flung around as a sling shot.

Second, wedding favors.  Let me ask you a question, because I’m still torn on this one—do you currently own or even remember any favor from any wedding you have ever been to?  I don’t.  Weddings aren’t like vacations where you need to go home with a souvenir.  Take an Instagram photo and call it a day, right?  I like the idea of something cutesy to pretty up the table…but I’m not sold on anything.

Third, apparently the bride and groom are supposed to give each other gifts before the wedding.  Isn’t marrying me enough?  (Kidding.)  We get new rings, pretty flowers, dress up like we’re fancy royals for a day, and then get to go on vacation together for a week.  Ain’t nobody got time to remember to buy presents on top of all that!

And lastly, smashing cake in each other’s faces.  How did this ever become a thing?  I have already warned Nathan that if he smashes cake in my face on our wedding day, I will not be a happy girl.  I’m spending half a day getting my hair and makeup done and wearing a fancy dress…you better be sure that nary a CRUMB is going to end up on me.

I wouldn’t exactly call myself a non-traditionalist.  Actually, I’m really into holiday and family traditions.  Sometimes it’s good to question things, though, and I’m excited to see how our wedding will reflect our own values.  But give me some ideas—what are your wedding non-negotionables?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Get Your Life Together! Make Your Bed!

The other day I was in a cleaning mood.  Does that ever happen to you?  Sometimes—and this does not happen often, just to clarify—I just want to clean everything…some cleaning fiend takes over my body and before I know it, I’ve scrubbed my whole bathroom, cleaned my room, taken out the trash, done three loads of laundry, and gone through my giant pile of old mail.  It’s awesome.  The last time this happened, I actually made my bed, too.  And I liked it so much, I made it again the next day, and the next. 

Confession:  I never make my bed.  Like, ever.  What’s the point, right?  But I've been making my bed for about a week now, and I love coming home to a neat little made-up bed so much that I can’t wait to make it every morning knowing how satisfied it makes me.  I feel like I have my life a little bit more together.  This sounds ridiculous, right?  Well, I actually looked this up to see if the habit of making one’s bed was correlated to happiness or something—some sort of psychological phenomenon—and what do you know, it is!

According to one study, making your bed every day can help you be a more productive person; it even suggests that it can make you a happier person!  Making your bed is known as a keystone habit, a habit that promotes other good habits, like flossing, sticking to a budget, etc.

After a few days of making my bed, I can tell you I’ve been a smidge more productive (and have therefore had some more free time), kept my room neat, and been more organized.  Plus, my room feels more comfortable and relaxing at the end of the day.  All of those things make me happy…so yeah, maybe I am happier now that I make my bed!

Make your bed and see what positive habits it cultivates!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Read and Lead

In a class during grad school, I was assigned to read parts of the book Spiritual Leadership by J. Oswald Chambers.  It’s a compact book about biblical principles of leadership that challenges, inspires, and encourages.  Because the content was originally a series of lectures, the book retained the feel of the spoken word, which I really liked.

One of my favorite sections of the book was Chapter 13—“The Leader and Reading.”  At the church where I work, serve, and worship, we place a high value on learning because we are taught that “all leaders are learners” and that effective leadership flows from a well-rounded, full life.  It’s important for leaders to stay fresh and be knowledgeable about the world in which they live, and one of the easiest ways to do that is by developing the habit of reading.
As a bibliophile, I was drawn to this chapter for deeper insight on how spiritual leadership and reading are connected.  Many of us claim to have no time for reading, but if one works 40 hours a week and sleeps 8 hours a night, that leaves 72 hours a week of “free” time!  Yet, less than 10% of the population reads regularly.  The leader who desires to grow spiritually and intellectually will devote time to reading.  John Wesley was a passionate reader, mostly devouring books propped in the pommel of his saddle as he rode horseback up to ninety miles a day!
The chapter encouraged the reader to read books, but to choose books that “spark our impulse to service and lead us to God.”  Books should also be read for intellectual growth, to cultivate one’s preaching and writing style, and to acquire new information.  Leaders should choose reading material that will “feed the soul and stimulate the mind.”  I appreciated that the importance of reading was recognized, but I think the value of fiction and literature was diminished by barely mentioning those genres and implying that more scholarly works are the ones that “lead us to God,” like historical works, biographies, and science.  The point is to choose books and materials wisely and for their spiritual benefit, but I believe that I have found books to be spiritually beneficial that are not overtly Christian or didactic.  Still, the chapter encouraged me to continue my pursuit to be an active reader while challenging my book choices.  I have decided to alternate reading my beloved fiction novels with other kinds of books.
Reading 30 minutes every day is the equivalent of reading a book a week, four books a month, about 50 books a year, and 500 books in 10 years.  If you were to read 500 books over the next 10 years, in a world where the average person reads less than a book a year, don’t you think it could give you a decisive advantage as you lead others?
It is easy to see why Spiritual Leadership is considered a classic study of the biblical principles of godly leadership.  God has given every Christian gifts and talents that fit the mission to which they were called, and what distinguishes a great leader is the degree to which they develop those gifts.  I found this book to be not only useful as I continue developing as a leader, but inspiring as well.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Blog is Back in Town

So it’s been over a year since I last blogged.  That's embarrassing.  And although I hate blogspot and don’t know how to format anything and feel so totally unhip with this outdated blog, I really miss it!  Writing and blogging allow me to do so much—reflect on what I’m learning, document my life, challenge my writing skills, and encourage my transparency.  And to just be my funny and charming self, of course.

I could try to update you on my life since I last blogged in several posts, but that would be too hard.  Instead, I’ll just tell you in a few sentences—I turned 30, got engaged, was laid off, got my Master’s degree, have an awesome new job, and am planning our wedding.  It’s been one of the hardest years of my life, with some of the most exciting and most wonderful things sprinkled in.  Aside from those major life-changing events, not much else happened :)
Now that we’re up to speed…just know, I’m back in blogging action.

Friday, July 13, 2012

My Hate Affair with Sushi

I will never pretend that I have a refined palate.  I love chocolate-covered gummy bears, still order Happy Meals, and always get the same thing at any given restaurant.  I'm a wannabe foodie, though.  I love the idea of gourmet food (chipotle aioli on the side, please) that leans toward the exotic (what is "wild" duck, anyway? Do they wear leather jackets?), and trying new things (kinda).  But the sad fact is...I'm generally disappointed when I deviate from my food comfort zone.

One food I truly hate is sushi.  The first time I tried it was because a boy I liked in college wanted to get sushi, so of course I was super enthusiastic about trying it ("I've always wanted to try sushi!" = lie), and I wanted so much to like it.  Buuut...I hated it.  Everything about it.

This is the part of the story where anyone who can't believe I would hate something as wonderful as raw fish wrapped in seaweed says, "Well, what KIND did you try? You probably just didn't go to the right place and order the right thing."  Trust me...I have tried enough types on several occassions, paid enough money, and felt gross enough post-meal to know FOR SURE that sushi is not my cup of green tea.  For a while, I kind of wished I did like it.  Boyfriend loves it, and I just eat my weight in edamamie when we go out.  Plus, it's got a cache to it.  I get it...sushi is hip.  And it's undeniably pretty.  But I still hate it.

I hate the temperature.  I hate the smell.  I hate the texture.  I hate the taste. 

And I will never eat it again.

So...does anyone want to go to Rainforest Cafe tonight?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Most Traveled Person in the World

I love documenting my life. I'm constantly collecting and checking things off lists, creating stats out of anything (like how many books I read or movies I see in a year), doing yearly inventories (like my annual blog surveys), making bucket lists (like this one), all that stuff. But some people take that to the Bill Altaffer.

I recently read an article about the battle to become the world's most traveled person.  It sounds like Bill Altaffer is that person. Altaffer and I have something in common, apparently—we both enjoy documenting our lives. Since starting his adventures in 1949, he has surfed every continent, visited both poles, crossed the equator 50 times, held 12 passports, and has been declared the world's most traveled man. This dude has been to every country in the world, plus 300 island groups, disputed areas, territories, and colonies...what?!

I wonder what it's like to be the person in the room who's been to more places than anyone else...all the time. The stories he could tell...the smells he's smelled, the food he's tasted, the places he's slept, the sunsets he's seen and the people he's befriended...I can't imagine!

I might not be the most traveled person in the world, but maybe I can shoot for the Travelers' Century Club (TCC), an association for travelers who have visited 100 countries. (In 1960, the TCC had 43 qualifying members; today, there are more than 1,800.)

The coveted title of “world's most traveled man” is always in dispute and difficult to measure. What about Charles Velay, the youngest person to hit every country on the TCC list? Or Emilio Scotto, who's traveled the world on his motorcycle—twice; or Jeff Shea, who has not only been to every country, but climbed the seven summits? The problem in this weird world of competitive globe-trotting is that lists of territories don't always match up, plus it's difficult to prove who's been where. And if you're jumping off a plane to bop around a country for five minutes to say you've “been” there, and then hopping back on the plane to the next place...who cares, right?

The article (I wish I still had it for reference…it was from GQ years ago) also included the top 4 hardest places on earth to get to. They are:

1.            The Paracel Islands—an archipelago seized by China from Vietnam in 1974, it remains off-limits to foreigners (particularly U.S. spy planes—one was intercepted in 2001).

2.            British Indian Ocean Territory—55 islands and site of a join U.S./U.K. Military and Global Positioning System base.

3.            Bouvet Island—an ice-bound volcanic rock located 1,000 miles from Antarctica, called the most remote land on Earth.

4.            Nicobar Islands—Foreigners have not been allowed since India was founded due to Indian military installations and untouched primitive tribes. Even after the 2004 tsunami, foreign aid workers weren't allowed in.

There you have it, folks. Brush the dust off those passports and get traveling...good luck!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

George Gray

I have studied many times
The marble which was chiseled for me --
A boat with a furled sail at rest in a harbor.
In truth it pictures not my destination
But my life.
For love was offered me and I shrank from its disillusionment;
Sorrow knocked at my door, but I was afraid;
Ambition called to me, but I dreaded the chances.
Yet all the while I hungered for meaning in my life.
And now I know that we must lift the sail
And catch the winds of destiny
Wherever they drive the boat.
To put meaning in one's life may end in madness,
But life without meaning is the torture
Of restlessness and vague desire --
It is a boat longing for the sea and yet afraid.

--Edgar Lee Masters

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Come to Me

Come to Me when you are weak and weary.  Rest snugly in my everlasting arms.  I do not despise your weakness, My child.  Actually, it draws Me closer to you, because weakness stirs up My compassion--My yearning to help.  Accept yourself in your weariness, knowing that I understand how difficult your journey has been.

Do not compare yourself with others, who seem to skip along their life-paths with ease.  Their journeys have been different from yours, and I have gifted them with abundant energy.  I have gifted you with fragility, providing opportunities for your spirit to blossom in My Presence.  Accept this gift as a sacred treasure: delicate, yet glowing with brilliant Light.  Rather than struggling to disguise or deny your weakness, allow Me to bless you richly through it.

Isaiah 42:3; Isaiah 54:10; Romans 8:26

This is from a torn-out page that a friend handed to me during a season of exhaustion last year...a season of exhaustion and frustration.  I happened upon this page tonight as I was organizing my room, and am so thankful I stumbled upon it.  I hate feeling weak, tired, and weary.  But I know where I can find safety, refuge, and rest.

Friday, April 27, 2012

30 For 30 Remix, Day 29: This Necklace...

 Flats: GAP, jeggings: Old Navy, tunic: Anthropologie, sweater: The Limited, bag: Coach, necklace and bracelet: H&M, shades: Ray-Ban.

This necklace...I can't even.