Friday, December 30, 2011

Inspiration & Motivation

"It's all about self-motivation because at the end of the day, you can have all the trainers and all the money in the world, but if you don't have that mindset, it's not possible." Jennifer Hudson

Jennifer Hudson has always been gorgeous to me. Curvy, beautiful, and talented. I always said I'd rather look like Jennifer Hudson rather than Jennifer Aniston. Now here she is, with 80 lbs lost and she went from, as Tim Gunn said "stunning to staggering." She is beautiful at any size, and I love how she said she's always been comfortable with her body, but acknowledges the changes and differences that come with her slimmed down look.

Watching her on the Oprah show (I know I'm behind) really inspired me. She's totally right about the self-motivation. Only I can set a goal and stick to it, and really know what I want. It's a mindset thing, and if I want it, really want it, I can get it.

I want, to be a size 8. Seriously. Just once in my life as an adult I want to be a one digit size. I want to be scared and say size 10, but I'm going to go for it. I've accomplished SO MUCH. I can do this. Whatever comes first, 50 lbs or size 8. I'm going for it. 

I want, to run a half marathon. I want to be a runner and my ultimate goal is a half marathon. 

I want, to run 15 miles a week by the end of the year.  That's really only a 5k every day. But I'd ideally like to run only 3-4 days a week.

I want, to hold a plank for 2 minutes by the end of March. Seriously ya'll, I'm getting my upper body TONED. 

I want, to eat healthy, whole, yummy foods, and to be open to appreciating foods I don't normally like. 

I want, to learn how to sew my own clothes. And when I get smaller, I'll need less fabric :)

I want life in every word to the extent that it's absurd. Seriously. I do. 

"It's our choices, Harry, that show us what we truly are, far more than our abilities." Albus Dumbledore 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Bad Dreams

I've had bad dreams for the past two days! Boo. Usually when I have a bad dream, I get out of bed, go into the living room and turn on the TV with my blankets, and let the characters and stories on the screen lull me back to sleep. There's something comforting about other people--even if they're just on TV.

Today, my dream involved a lot of fears that I have, and unlike those other dreams, it's hard for me to let it melt into nothingness-all I can do is think about it. Several fears surfaced--my fear of elevators and heights. We were in a swanky hotel and the elevators were acting funny, opening between floors, stopping when they weren't supposed to, etc.  Being stuck in a malfunctioning elevator terrifies me. I have images of me plummeting to my death in an elevator or elevator shaft--pretty gruesome I know.

Anyway, we escaped out of the elevator onto the roof of the 99plus story bldg (I know this cause we were trying to get down but the 'normal' stairs only went up to floor 99 and we were higher than!?). The top of the bldg was moving. Swaying like crazy in the wind, and I was like "how the hell are we getting down." My brother suggested going down the stairs on the SIDE of the bldg and I quickly squashed that idea. My mum said that stairs inside we would have to "drop into" and I was like "what??" so somehow, in my dream I decided to get on the elevator and go down...even though they were on code black and weren't supposed to be working...I made it to the bottom (yay dreams).

But then, I was separated from my family. I didn't know if they were ok, and I didn't have my phone on my. Now my dream got weird with this whole storyline about someone stealing my phone, and names of people from VA in it and all that stuff but it connected up when I ended up in a Starbucks like restaurant, and these girls from my childhood were sitting at a table in the busy place having a party. The recognized me and were like "Hey" and were all friendly and chittchatty, but none of them really LOOKED at me. If you know what I mean. None of them were really, truly, happy to see me. They were all fake, and I obviously was not going to be in the inner circle. Then Bridgett (a wonderful friend from college) was suddenly there in line with a blonde wig on, and she helped me out with her phone (so I could call my fam), and directing me to a table with people that I knew. And it was amazing because I had this huge wad of gum stuck in my mouth that I was trying to pull out, and one of the girls was laughing with me and trying to help me pull it out.

And then the dream was done. I broke away and woke up, and I have been thinking about that dream ever since. When I lived in Virginia, there was always this sense of not belonging. I wasn't black or white, so I didn't fit. I had some good friends, great friends in fact, but I knew that in the overall scheme of things, I didn't fit. That I wouldn't be accepted by the majority. And there are so many factors that go into that, that I don't want to unpack here. But that knowledge was there.

So here I am 13 years after I left that place, and I'm realizing that I'm still living as if I'll never be accepted. I'm still living, afraid that people are never going to truly acknowledge me, or accept me for who I am. Even though I know that I'm a great person, and have a great circle of friends. I have this general distrust of the population, of the majority, and I've let that affect my interaction with that perceived majority.

"There is no fear in love." B-I-B-L-E

"Only when we are no longer afraid, do we begin to live." Dorothy Thompson

"Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we might often win, by fearing to attempt." Jane Adams

My past is something that I want to learn from. I don't want it to define me, and I don't want to carry the burdens from my past. I want to be better, stronger, happier, more confident because of my past. I don't want to let it cause me to draw back in fear, uncertainty, or doubt about who I am. I am good enough. I am a whole, complete, wonderful, beautiful, incredible person. I'm not second rate, and I fit exactly where I need to. These bad dreams are going to go away.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Healthier Choices

Three weeks of vacation is a lot. I never thought that I'd say that but it is. When you have so much time on your hands, at least one of those weeks is spent just "laying around." Which is perfectly fine. But I'm not getting paid for a week of work so I probably could have spent that in Seattle. Ah well. I also miss my cat. My friends are giving me updates on how unhappy she is and I think she misses me too--which makes my cold little heart melt a little.

Laying around here means access to a ton of unhealthy food. I quickly got sucked in to the chips, cookies, candy and all sorts of yummy (and terrible for you) snacks around here. But, this week, I'm trying to be better. The parents and brother are going to another movie--two movies in two weeks is enough for me. Instead of sitting on my bum eating the inevitable popcorn and slurping a cold bubbly soda, I'm going to do some yoga.

I'm trying to be better about not comparing myself to others. Specifically, beating myself up for not doing what other people are doing.  This year, I'm going to try to keep my focus solely on myself. In the healthy way. I'm going to focus on my goals, not other peoples goals. I'm going to focus on what I'm achieving, not criticizing myself for not achieving what other people are doing.

I'm excited for what the new year is going to bring, and I'm truly excited for how this year is going to unfold.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Goals, goals, goals

Ah, it's almost a new year and it's that time again! New Year's resolutions, goals, whatever you want to call them, I'm ready for the new year to come so I can start. And actually, I don't need to wait for the new year. I'm going to start today. I'll be 26 in a couple of days, so how about 26 goals for 26 years?
--My overall goal is to be open to new experiences. Whether it's a different exercise, restaurant, activity, style, etc., I want to open myself up to new experiences, and enrich my life a little bit more.
1)Learn to sew.
--I want to get a sewing machine, and learn to make at least ONE thing. At least.
2)Get a passport.
--I've been procrastinating on this for so long, I just need to do it.
3)Stick with my budget.
--I'm pretty good at that, but I could be better. I want to stick with it (especially with the paying off bills) every time.
4)Lose 50 lbs
--Yes, it's that weight loss goal that's pretty standard for every NY resolution. Well I've done it once, let's try it again.
5)Attend church 2/4 Sundays.
--I know I should probably be shooting for more, but considering I haven't been in forever, this seems like a good start.
6)Learn what a serving of fruits and veggies is, and eat at least 5 servings every day.
--People always say eat such and such servings of fruits and veggies, but I'm unsure what an actual serving is. So there's some learning in order.
7)And speaking of food, I want to find a way to eat beans more.
--This sounds strange, but I really don't like beans, but they're such a healthy protein so I need to figure out how to incorporate them into my diet in a healthy way.
8)Have 3 meals a week be vegetarian.
--Hence the bean thing. I know I'm gonna need protein so. yea. And it's cheaper :)
9)Stick to my eating out budget.
--Either budget more moolah or eat out less. Something's gotta give.
10)Try new restaurants.
--I tend to stick to my favorites, so, I need to try new stuff. This includes new pubs :)
11)Plan out recipes and stick to them!
--I really want to a)find some yummy recipes and b)actually make them.
12)Buy less clothes.
--Seriously, I'm going to cut down on my clothes budget. I have way too many right now, and I need to be more creative.
13)Do 30 for 30 at least once, and stick to the no shopping for 30 days.
--I was weak before, but I think I can have some self control...maybe.
14)Blog more.
--Blogging is cathartic. So I'm going to figure out WHAT I want to blog about, what my goals for my blog(s) are, and possible consolidate. I know I'm interested in recipes, fashion, weight loss, and good maybe I can make some "themes." Outfit of the day might have to be incorporated as well.
15)Develop relationships with new people.
--I'm so that girl who can be happy with just her circle of friends. I need to reach out and be friendlier. I especially want to meet more people I have things in common with.
16)Do a monthly "goal" check up.
--I love making long term goals, but I keep on track better with short term goals to help my long term goals.
--I don't know where, or what, but I do know I want to make the time this year.
18)Run a 15k. You know, without stopping.
--I did a year of 5ks, I've done a 10k, and this year, I want to do that 15k without stopping. I'm out of shape so I gotta start small. 2013 half marathon?? I'm going to plan out some 5ks, then a 10k, then a 15k by mid year. If I'm going strong, I'll plan for the half marathon.
19)Buy better quality food.
--Buy what matters organic. But the best meat. Don't be cheap on what I put in my body.
20)Remember birthdays for all my family.
--I have been terrible at remembering to send stuff for my aunt, uncles, and grandparents. No more.
21)Send a care package every quarter.
--I know this sounds weird, but I want to do it. I'll have to figure out who I'm going to do it for.
22)Write my sponsored children more.
--I am that sponsor who sends 3 cards all at the same time. No more!
23)Work on my relationship with God.
--This should technically be number one, but sadly I've put this on the back burner. No more. I don't want to be religious, but I want to be a better person--more patient, kind, loving, know...all those things.
24)Develop a cleaning schedule.
--I'm going to be 26, I need to learn how to keep my apartment clean.
25)Be more outdoorsy.
--I want to hike, kayak, canoe...I just want to be outside more. Oo, this includes ride my bike more :)
26)I'm not sure what I'm going to put in here quite yet. I want to have a goal here by July 2012.

So there we go. 26 goals achieved by age 26. I'm so proud of who I am, and decisions that I've made. I haven't been perfect this year, but I do know (mostly) what I want, so I'm going to go after it.

Friday, December 16, 2011


They say "home is where the heart is." As I was traveling to Hawaii, thinking of my impending doom on my flight (where did this flying phobia come from??), I was struck by my thoughts of "coming home." Hawaii, for those of you who don't know, is not home. This is only my third time being here, but, two of my most favorite people in the world live here--my parents. These are the people who love me, support me, spoil me, teach me, and guide me. These are the people who raised me, who taught me how to live. These are my role models, who I aspire to be like. I love my parents more than I can say. And they are home. Being with them, with my brother by my side, is the epitome of home to me. They are my heart.

I never thought that I would have another place that I would consider home. But over the past five years, Seattle has become a home to me. My friends, who have loved me, encouraged me, challenged me, and laughed with me, have become a second "home" to me. My job, my church, my pub, my cat...they've all become a part of this home that has enveloped me and made me content and thirsting for more at the same time.

I know this isn't a life changing post, and certainly not the most exciting for getting back on the wagon while blogging, but I'm immensely grateful for my homes and the people who make them.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Wake Up.

I seem to cry at the drop of a hat these days. The other day on the news I saw a story about a teen who punched a older homeless man in the face. Unprovoked. I cried. I've been watching a lot of Grey's Anatomy, which has all sorts of tragic situations, and I cry. I just sent my brother a facebook post saying how much I loved him, and I cried.

There are so many ugly things that happen in this world. People hurt others for fun. People get sick. People suffer. People are homeless, and hungry. People are sad, and incredibly lonely. It's enough to make me weep just to think about it. I honestly have to not think about it so that I won't get overwhelmed by all of the sorrow and pain and darkness that is prevalent in this world.

We, I, am called to be a light in the darkness. I am called to help, not to hurt. To have hands of healing and hospitality. To feed and encourage. To be a friend, and to reach out to the hopeless. That is my calling. That is my place in this world. Not to be overwhelmed, but to love in such a way that people can see a little light in the darkness. So that they can hope, and so they can see and feel something that is good and real.

I feel like I've been stuck in this rut. This rut that appreciates what I have in life--including hope--but I don't know that I've fully understood how lucky and blessed I am. I have a tattoo that says "freely you receive, so freely give." What have a received in life? A wonderful family. How can I bring people in to make them feel part of MY family. Great friends. How can I be a better friend, and more loving, kind, and open friend? A job that gives me flexibility. How can I show my thankfulness and appreciation to my bosses in trying times like these?

I think for the past couple of months, I've thought about me, and mostly me. I've thought about my happiness, and how maybe something else could make me happy, maybe a change could make me happy. But you know what I think will make me happy? Living my destiny. Being the person I was called to be. Faith, hope, love. It's time for me to wake up. It's time for me to open my eyes to life, the life that I have been blessed with, and the life that I have been called to. I think I'm ready, help me to be ready. Help me to act and to live like I'm supposed to live.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Remembering What "IT" Feels Like

I've completed a whole week of getting back on track--and can I just say it feels amazing?!? Eating healthy, making good choices, allowing myself to make some not so good choices, exercising, trying new things...I feel amazing. I feel like I am in control of my life--at least my health, and it's not like a vice-grip kind of control, but a "I know what I'm doing and I'm doing well" kind of control. 

I'm continuing to build the foundation for what I want my life to look like in the future. I want my life to full of fruits and veggies, balanced meals, exercise, fun times with friends, laughter, sleep, relaxation, and all over FULLNESS and BALANCE. I'm creating the person that I want to be, and living the life that I want to have. And IT feels good. So, I'm going to keep going. I'm going to stay on this road, and I'm just going to follow it where it leads me. God is good. :)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


I started my day off with a piece of zucchini bread from Back To Her Roots and a smoothie packed full of fruits and veggies. My tummy is happy and full, and hopefully this will be a great start to the new year.

One other goal I have for the next six months...try new recipes :)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

A Fresh Start

I'm excited for the new school year. I love the fact that I still have that little marker to look forward to. When I was younger, it was all about meeting new classmates, and buying new clothes, and getting all of my fresh new school supplies. Now that I'm older, it's about planning fun activities for my afterschool program, prepping programs like SMART Girls, mentoring kids and volunteers, and really getting our overall program into tiptop shape.

It's also about getting myself into tiptop shape. This past year has been like a flat line for me. I've started, and stopped, had great intentions, and didn't follow through. It's as if I'd forgotten all that I had learned before with the whole lifestyle change thing. And while I know I can never forget, I do know that I started to ignore the things that I knew and the things that I learned. What's worse than never knowing what's good for you is knowing and consciously choosing something different.

I'm realizing once again that I choose what my life is. I choose whether I'm active, and I choose whether I'm engaged. I choose whether I run everyday, and I choose what I spend my money on. So, I have some goals for the new school year. I actually specifically have goals for the next 6 months. These next six months are going to figure significantly in where I go and what I do next, and what I want to do in these next six months, is live my life to the fullest.

1) I want to eat less meat. I want my meals to consist mostly of whole grains, fruits and veggies, and a little meat. I do love meat, but I'm finding that I CAN live without it. I don't want to live completely without it, but I do want to cut back. Another part of this goal--I want to eat organic/local/happy meat. I want to be more conscious about what I'm putting into my body, and how it's treated before it becomes a big steak.
2) I want to lose about 40 lbs, or 1.5 lbs a week. I would love to be a solid size 12 or 10.
3) I want to be able to run a 10k without stopping, preferably in less that 1 hr and 10 mins. I know this 10k coming up on Sunday is not going to be my best. But I do know that I want to progress in such a way that I'm running 10ks, then 15ks, then a half marathon by next year.
4)I want to finish that dang 100 days of Weight Loss book. Seriously, I know it shouldn't be that big of a deal, but I want to do it. I want to finish it, and say I completely it.
5)I want to eat a great breakfast, and healthy lunch and dinner. I want to have snacks during the day that make sense.
6) I want to go to the gym at least 3 days out of the week, and I want to exercise 5 days out of the week.

1)I want to get our 2-5th grade program up and running smoothly.
2)I want to continue with the foundation that I laid for K-1, and make it even better.
3)I want to run a really successful, fun SMART Girls program this year.
4)I want my staff to feel fulfilled and happy with their jobs.
5)I want to get our volunteer program up and running efficiently.
6)I want the kids to enjoy a really quality program.

Spiritual Life:
1)I want to continue to discover how my relationship with God is going to thrive. I want to be open to new things, I want to be open to what he wants, and I want to grow and be closer to him.
2)I want to meet new people from church and begin to develop solid relationships.
3)I want to be committed to Tabitha, and I want to volunteer 2 times a month.
4)I want to be more patient, kind, generous, and self disciplined... :-/ This is going to take a lot :)
5)I want to stick to my budget, and continue to remember that what I have was given to me.

1)I want to keep my apartment clean--and not just for a couple of days!
2)I want to get rid of the clutter and random stuff I have lying around.
3)I want to be regularly involved with a board games and/or poker group :)

Six not a very long time. This year has gone by so quickly, and I want to make the most of what I have left. These are my plans, these are my goals, and hopefully they're in line with what God wants for my life. I'm just going to live, and try to be in tune to where I'm supposed to go next. God is good, he is faithful, and he is good.

"Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart." Psalm 37:3-4

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Sure Thing

Breaking out the guitar after almost a year of not playing is hard on the fingertips. I'm just sayin'.

Anyway, in the midst of all this confusion, and decision-making and general unsettled-ness, I am sure of a few things. One, that I have the most amazing, supportive, friends in the world. Two, ditto for my family. I am so thankful for them and I hope I never take them for granted. And three, that in all of this, God is there. He is listening, and counting every tear, and he is guiding me through the craziness of this life.

In my younger, more devoted years I would memorize scripture, and that dedication has paid off in my older years because it's those verses that strengthen me, the comfort me, and that remind me where to turn to. As I was talking to God today, I ended my ramblings with this verse, a verse that I normally end my prayers with, but it just really stuck out to me:

"Show me your ways, and teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth, and teach me. For you are God my savior, and my hope is in you all day long."  Psalm 25:4-5

I realize that his ways, and his paths are not necessarily what I might choose, or even see at this moment. And I know that that is scary. It's scary for me. It bothers me that I don't know where I might go next, and that I might have to give up all that I've worked for and spent my life doing. It makes me anxious to think that the plans that I have for myself are not as great as I thought they were, and in reality, are not the plans he has for me. But, but, but, he is God. And not just God, he is my savior. He is the one who never lets me be consumed, who has provided for me and pulled me from my darkest moments. So what else can I do, where else can I turn? My hope is in him.

I have some cards in my hand that I'm not quite sure are going to win the pot. They could, but I don't know. The cards he has in his hand, are a sure thing. I know it. So I'm folding my hand, and putting all of my chips in his stack. I'm betting on God. I'm betting on faith. My hope is in Him.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Searching For God Knows What

It's days like these, dreary, rainy, cool (er) Seattle days that make me want to write. I'm pretty sure it's not the weather.  Let's be honest. I'm still in that slump that I was talking about. Oh yes, I'm making an effort, and I'm happy that I have, but I'm just wondering, what do I want? I've come to a point where I have no idea where I want to go or who I want to be, or what even my purpose is in life. I'm feel like I'm at this crossroads and all I want to do is close my eyes and just point. I don't want the responsibility of choosing.

Do I want to stay in Seattle or move to Hawaii? I have built a wonderful, beautiful life here. I have wonderful friends, a job that pays with benefits, an apartment that I adore, a church that helps me to grow, and a social life that is only lacking when I want it to be. I have opportunities to do so much, and I see so many fun things on the horizon. But to be honest, I feel, stuck. I feel lonely, and I feel restless. I feel like I have all these things but that I was made for something more.

My whole life I have been dutiful. I got good grades, I graduated from high school AND college in 3 years, I landed a full time job that I've worked at for 5 mostly wonderful years, I have my own apartment, I work as a manager, I've had boyfriends, the whole nine yards. I've been responsible. I've achieved so much. I've worked hard, been loyal and diligent, and I have reaped the rewards. So why does it feel so meaningless and empty? What else could I want or desire?

Here's what I do know. I want to work with people. I want to help them, and I want to serve them, and I want them to know that they are cared for. I want to feed people. I want fill their bellies with food, and fill their hearts with confidence and love and self worth. I want to welcome people. I want to have them in my home, and I want my home to feel like their home. I want what's mine to be theirs, and I want to live openly and generously. I want to share life with others. I want to share my life, and I want others to have a happy and content life.

This post, is so mixed up, and so fuzzy. I'm struggling with so many thoughts and doubts and wishes and prayers and hopes and dreams and sometimes, many times, I just feel exhausted. I feel lonely. I feel scared. I feel hopeful. I feel full of life, and energetic. But mostly, I feel a burning desire for something bigger than I am, and more wonderful than I can dream. I don't know if it's in Seattle, Hawaii, or wherever. What I do know is that I want it, I need it, and I'm going after it. Even if it makes no sense. Even if it seems foolish. Even if it doesn't follow all of the rules. I'm going after life. A full life, a life that I can share freely and openly with others.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

End Of Summer Slump

There's always a point in my happy go lucky life when I decide to focus on everything I DON'T have. This results in me sulking and contemplating how I can change everything and basically wasting time being bummed out. I'm struggling with the whole 10k training, which is bumming me out. I'm missing my bff who's unavailable because of health reasons, and I feel loathe to make an effort to do or see anyone. Then I feel guilty about it :)

I can't change everything with a snap of my fingers. What I can do is focus on what I do have. I have friends who love me and want to hang out with me. I need to call them, and make an effort instead of declining invitations and being antisocial. I have people who want to be friends who repeatedly contact me to hang out. I need to return those calls and let some new people in my life. I have food in my fridge. I need to cook it (which I did make collard greens and fajitas today). I have cleaning that needs to get done (dishes...check!). I have a bike, I can definitely take it out for a nice ride. I have greenlake right next to me and people who want to run with me.I have community groups and game groups that I am a part of--I need to go, and I need to make an effort.

I want and NEED to get out of this summer slump. I think fasting is going to be a really good idea for the upcoming weeks :)


I listened to a teaching from Richard the other day about fasting, and why we fast. He said that consumerism has taught us to live by our appetites, but that this is a false kind of satisfaction. We need to control our appetites, not because they're bad, but because if we let them get out of control, they control us. It's an act of moving into freedom.

He made some really good points. One, that fasting is normal. It's something that's expected of us. In order to fast, we need to recognize where our appetites go first. Where do we go for comfort? Do we go straight to food, the internet, naps, sex, shopping? That's where we need to go first. I love that he says that our appetites aren't wrong, and that they're a gift from God. The point is not to destroy them, it's to let our spirit be in control rather than our bodies.

His next point was that when we fast, it's not just about "not putting on a gloomy face," it's about celebration. We fast with the intent of being a blessing to someone else. He said that when we fast, and quiet our hearts, God gives us agendas--ways to bless others--and that life becomes so full that we don't have time to focus and obsess over what we're NOT getting.

Lastly, that we can't serve our appetites and God at the same time. When we're led by our appetites, our hearts become hard, and he can't see the goodness and provision that is given to us. We always want more, and our appetite is never satiated. God calls us to this "upside down kingdom," this life of living generously with our time, energy, and possessions. Fasting, and other practices of discipline helps our focus to be clarified, and it helps us to see what God is doing and the fullness of life he is giving us.

I thought at first of shopping when I thought of fasting, but right now, with my new budget and the ways that God is changing my mind with money, it doesn't seem like something that I go to for comfort. I think right now, media is the one thing that I really need to take a break from. I need a break from facebook, from reading blogs, from watching TV on DVD while cruising the internet, from games that the kiddos get me addicted to, from craigslist and my eternal job search....I just need a break. I need to break away and engage other senses, as well as people.

So, after work, I give myself 1.5 hours a day to watch a T.V. show, or cruise the internet, or play games, or do whatever it is I do wasting my time on the internet :) 1.5 hours actually seems like SUCH a long time, but I know that some days I come home and just lay down on the couch and veg. And I want so much more than that. I need so much more than that. I don't think that includes workout videos--I'm actually doing something active and beneficial when I do those, but everything else is limited to 1.5 hours for the rest of August. Let's see what God can do eh?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Cash Flow...

So this whole tithe thing is freaking me out a little bit. It's like I'm finding money everywhere in my apartment. I sold that phone, I just sold a nintendo ds lite that I got for free for $60, and I just got together a bunch of books and textbooks that I haven't touched in years (or know I won't read again) and sold them for $150. Well, I've tentatively sold them for $150. I'll have to see if they're all accepted. Good news is that shipping is free :) That's over $300 in the past 24 hours or so. Craziness. God is good.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Test Me In This

Malachi 3:6-10

6 “I the LORD do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. 7 Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the LORD Almighty.
   “But you ask, ‘How are we to return?’
 8 “Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me.
   “But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’
   “In tithes and offerings.  
9 You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. 11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the LORD Almighty. 12 “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the LORD Almighty. 

My parents always quote this verse when they talk about tithing. They say it's one of the only places in the Bible where God says to "test him" and see how his faithfulness unfolds. Well I decided to do that very thing, and God has already shown his faithfulness.

I was headed to the AT&T booth because I saw a bunch of people with backpacks and I thought "hmm, maybe I can get something to carry my stuff." So, I headed over there and got in line, and saw they were giving away free phones to some people who won the little game they played. It was random, and people were getting backpacks. When we first walked up someone got a phone, but everyone else was getting backpacks. So, we're waiting in line patiently, laughing and joking around, when a guy comes up and starts counting people in line. Then, the people in front of us won a phone. We cheer, and then the guys says "AND EVERYONE IN LINE WINS A PHONE!!!!" All of us got a phone, and mobile projector to go with the phone.

I just sold that phone and projector for $150. Money that I never would have had if I hadn't done that race (and stuck to my commitment), if I hadn't decided to get in line, and ultimately, I believe, if I hadn't decided to"test God" and see how he would provide. Some may call it coincidence, I call it God's faithfulness and provision. God is good.

**I have to say that I just realized that the money I'm getting from ebay is exactly equal to the tithe that I'm paying this week. It blows my mind!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Finishing Strong

On my last day of my 30 for 30, I was talking with a friend about being so tired of the project, and just throwing an outfit together and not really caring what it was, just that I was finished. He said something to the effect of "way to finish weak" or maybe he sarcastically said "way to finish strong," I'm not sure, but basically he was commenting on my lack of enthusiasm for my commitment near the end, and how I didn't want to really put any real thought or effort into it. That comment really stayed with me, and it's something I think about often.

I'm definitely the kind of person who gets an idea, or a vision, or a goal, and goes for it with everything that I have. I'm the kind of person who gets excited and inspired and wants to go after things, and is always looking for ways to improve and be a better person. This is something that I like about myself, it's something that for lack of a better word, I'm proud of. I like that I'm a dreamer. The not so glamorous side of a dreamer is the disappointment, the loss of "steam," and the motivation to keep going, even when the "dream" isn't going as expected, or it's lost it's new luster.

I felt that with college, I felt that with the 30 for 30, I feel that with work sometimes, and I feel that with my 5k commitment. What I do know, is that I finish. I'm proud that I finish. I'm glad that I follow through. I'm glad that I have shown that I am committed, no matter how I feel, and even when I want to give up--I don't. I'm not sure if "finishing strong" is important to me. I mean, I want to finish strong, but if I finish tired, or depleted, or with less enthusiasm, it doesn't diminish all of the hard work and enthusiasm and energy that went into the rest of it.

It's funny how words can have such impact on people. I'm tired of people making me feel bad for not being 100% all of the time. I'm tired of LETTING myself feel bad for not being 100% all of the time. I am human, and I have weaknesses, but I am also strong, and full of life. And I am proud of who I am--weaknesses and all :)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Faith is...

For me, faith is something that leaves me completely vulnerable. It's something that pushes me past the limits of where I think I can go, and who I think I can be. It strips me bare, and breathes life into me. I wouldn't say at this moment I'm scared of what's going to happen--I know God is good and faithful and will take care of me--I'm just curious. Anxious to see what will unfold in my life. Anxious to see how he will change me, and open my eyes to new things. It reminds me of that Kierkegaard quote "Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom." It's not the anxiety that encourages fear and despair, it's the anxiousness that accompanies the opening of a present, waiting for a loved one to get off the plane, or seeing a baby born into this world. It truly is "being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see." It's good.

Building My Life

Richard has been teaching on the sermon on the mount, and let me tell you that I have had the distinct pleasure of revelation, and now I have the oh so easy pretty difficult task of coming face to face with how I'm going to obey, and start changing my life.  Richard talked today (and other days) about how there's this gap between what we think is normal, and what God deems normal.

He gave this great example of how he went to the Dr., and the doctor found another problem and said "well that's not right." He then talked about how it didn't just happen at once, but bit by bit until Richard's body finally adjusted to the problem and accommodated it instead of it getting corrected. Richard points out that physically this happens, is normal, and is ok, but spiritually, we need to be on guard against this. Letting lies and things that aren't true slowly infiltrate our lives until we accept them as normal is NOT ok, and is really damaging.  Not that we can't recover from these things, but sometimes recovery takes a long time, and it's best to identify and deal with the problem when it's new rather than letting it change you for the worse.

Now in the sermon, Richard talked about many things, many great points, and I don't want to focus on one part while leaving others out. But, well, I am. If you want to listen and you can find all of his sermons plus little discussion questions afterwards :) I, myself, was really hit hard when Richard was talking about giving.

Money is something that I have struggled with all my life. I remember when I was in fifth grade, myself and a couple of classmates started making bracelets, and selling them to friends and other kids. We made probably about $10, and to make a long story short, I made off with the money. I took it. I don't know why, maybe I thought I deserved it for coming up with the idea, but I did. In college, I was roped in to the awesome terrible idea of getting a credit card. One grew into two, which grew into many more. My parents paid off ALL of my credit card debt, and what did I do after college? Wracked up a bunch more. Over the years I've developed a shopping addiction--bargain shopping mostly, but if you don't NEED it, it's not much of a deal right?

The thing is, is that I've always been great about knowing what to do with money. I can whip up a fantastic budget for you. I've done it for myself. I know all the right things to say, and many great tips for how to handle your money. All this time I've thought that I've had a handle on money, and I'm realizing now that all of these years, it's had a handle on me. And it stops today.

For the longest time I've struggled with giving my money, not with the idea of giving, but with actually being consistent with my giving. I sponsor a bunch of kids through World Vision. It automatically goes out of my paycheck, I don't think of it. For the longest time, I counted that as part of my tithe, and in my budget, I took that out, and said, the rest goes to my church. What do you know, but the stuff that doesn't automatically come out of my paycheck conveniently ends up being spent on food, or nights out, or clothes, or books, or basically just things that I don't need. And the rest of my money? All of my other well laid plans...aren't going exactly how I want them to either. Surprise surprise huh?

Richard said this today: "First, you give. And give sacrificially. Then, you build your life around the rest. Unless you order your life to put God first, you leave yourself enslaved." That "seek first his kingdom" goes for the whole money issue too. I've sought first what I wanted, what I thought I needed, what I said was important, instead of putting the kingdom first, instead of honoring God, instead of REALLY trusting him to take care of me and provide all that I need. I've been living enslaved to money for all these years, instead of living in the freedom of generosity.

I have a tattoo that says, "freely you receive, so freely give." It's something that I felt like God spoke to me very clearly, and it's a lifestyle that I've always wanted to adopt. So I'm doing it. I'm catching hold of this whole kingdom thing. I'm choosing to live a life of freedom, and I'm turning over my finances and plans to Christ. He doesn't get what's leftover after I've had all my fun. He gets the firstfruits, he gets my best, and he's the FIRST that I think of when it comes to my money. It's so funny, I'm giving my money away, but I feel free, finally free of financial burden and what to do next. Because I know, God is faithful. I know he is good. I know he is generous in every way.

Over the years my body has slowly been twisted by the love of money, it's caused me to take what I've learned and partially adapt it to what I do, and to limp along in life, accepting that "this was the way it is supposed to be." Today, I've finally accepted that this limp is not normal, that I don't need a crutch, that I need to be (and can be) completely whole. It's just about taking those steps to recovery. Behold, and be changed.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Life In Every Word

I've been burdened by thoughts of how I should act--how I should love, how I should serve the poor, how I should not react in anger, lust, envy. I've been very aware of my shortcomings, and increasingly aware of my lack of willpower in certain areas. Everything that I can't and couldn't be has been brought before me, and I have felt pretty helpless, seeking ways to make myself feel better, to feel SOMETHING, to rid myself of this need for change. When the only change that was needed, was in my heart.

I am hopelessly flawed, and ever so aware of how I come short, but with Jesus, it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter that I come to him unable to love completely, to rid myself of jealousy, lust, selfishness, and bitterness. It doesn't matter that I fall short in the areas of serving the poor, and helping those less fortunate than me. What matters is that I believe God. What matter is that I have faith in Christ, and that I come to him, and let him forgive me and change me for the better. I'm right, I can't do these things that I long and know to do, because I haven't put my faith in him. I've put my faith in myself. I've put my faith in my job, my friends, my lifestyle, my family and other things.

It's so simple: "We who are Jews by birth and not 'Gentile sinners' know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified." Gal 2:15-16

"Consider Abraham: 'He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." Gal 3:6

It is belief, that saves us. It is truly believing, that saves us, and living in that belief that gives us a full life. How can I ever think to love and be all that he wants me to be without coming to him first, by believing, and letting him change me? I can't do this on my own. I can't follow all the steps and then viola! step into this new phase of enlightenedness. No, it is him moving through me, him living in me, him breathing life and truth. What a wonderful, freeing, breathtaking truth. My next step is easy, coming to him daily, knowing that he is the way to this "Life In Every Word" that I've been wanting so desperately.

God Speaks

Today, was most unproductive for me. I was extremely tired at work, went out for an early dinner and dessert with a friend, came home and read for a bit, then passed out. Five and a half hours later, around 10:30pm, I wake up, finish reading the book, and here I am around 1:30 in the morning blogging. It doesn't seem like the most productive day, but I know it's going to lead to productiveness in a way that is good for me.

I was laying in bed, thinking all of the thoughts I've been thinking for the past couple of months or so--what am I to do next? What do I need? Where am I supposed to go? What am I supposed to do? When all of the sudden, I found myself praying. Thanking God because he has brought me here with everything that I could need, and mostly what I want. He has given me everything, provided for me, and still, here I am, worried in my bed about my future. Why, when he has taken care of me SO WELL so far, would I ever doubt that he has a plan, and that everything will be ok? Because I'm human, yes. Because I'm arrogant, yes. Because I have forgotten what it's like to trust, yes.

All of these things are true, but one thing is even more apparent to me, and that's that I need Jesus. In my humanness, arrogance, and mistrust, I need him. I've tried so hard to figure out how I could be close and garner the comfort that I need without actually doing what I need to do, and I've come to this point, realizing that the simple answer is this--I need to spend time with Him. I need to read my Bible. I need to sit in silence. I need to pray. And I need to be disciplined in these things.

What do you know, I decided to pop up on Richard's blog to see what he's written, and it was exactly what I needed to hear, and confirmed what I knew as I was lying in bed, praying for guidance. As Richard states, I need to 1)Turn and behold, and 2)Listen, and respond. I need to take time every day, to put away my facebook, my novel, my movie or tv show, and just spend time with God. "I need to see that I’m changed into a better person by spending time with Christ." And I am, fully and completely I am. When I've taken that time, God will show himself to me. He will teach me, and guide me, and give me the answers that I need. He will show me my shortcomings, and the love and grace he has.

"As I develop habits of beholding (through coffee with God, or walking with God, or Verse of the Day as an e-mail, or whatever), God begins to speak to us.  He reminds of relationships that need repairing.  He invites us to confess our failures and move off the ground of shame and fear, onto the ground of boldness and confidence.  He invites us to change our financial priorities, or our time use, or he speaks to us about vocational matters, or marriage, singleness, parenting matters.  God, in other words, REVEALS!  It’s not as clear on some days as others, but I promise you this:  keep showing up, and God will bring guidance to your life."

From there, it's just obedience. "Just" ha. I know that it can be hard to take those steps. But knowing what I know about God, and what he has for me, it's really the only step that I can take. Right? It's funny how God speaks to us, and confirms to us what he wants through other people. I'm thankful that I'm up at 2am in the morning, even though I know I may be groggy at work tomorrow. God speaks, and it took this most inconvenient time for me to hear, but I'm glad he seeks me out whenever he can. God is good.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Lowered Expectations

There used to be a show on Mad TV called "Lowered Expectations." If I remember it right, it was a dating show, and it was basically for people who had given up on the "tall, dark, and handsome" route and were like "give me whatever." So of course they have a myriad of crazy, delusional, unattractive people to pick from and people laugh, and onto the next skit.

This weekend Richard talked about how we lower our expectations when it comes to holiness--specifically this week, rage, lust, and unfaithfulness. We were in Matthew talking about how Jesus says "it was said" not to kill people or commit adultery, but Jesus turns around and says anger, and lust are just as bad. He talked about how we draw lines in the sand saying "oh, I didn't sleep with that person" when in reality, Jesus is trying to get to the root issue--what is leading up the sin. What are the patterns of our heart? If we're constantly letting anger take root in our heart, would murder be possible? If we're constantly lusting after that sexy man with the beard, would adultery suddenly be an option?

'Failure is not the problem--making peace with failure is the problem. Don't lower the bar. Jesus raises the bar to show us our brokenness.'  Jesus is showing us these things to show us "gap" between his ideal and where we are. He's showing us that there is a better way, that our hearts need to be transformed by not just doing "the act" but understanding and going to the root of the problem. When we say "oh, that's just how it's going to be, I can't be any better," or "well this is who I am here, but I'm totally different here" it's lowering the bar of who we can be.

I am a girl who definitely has some struggles with lust in my life. I can't even count the times when I've appraised a man with lust in my heart, or given into lustful desires or thinking. If I say, that's just the way I am, at least I'm not a whore who sleeps with anyone, it's lowering the bar, and basically being at peace with the road that I'm taking. Yea, I'm not like the slutty girl down the street...yet. If I'm living a life filled with lustful thoughts and occassionally lustful actions, what's keeping me from becoming someone who just erases that line? God is calling me to something better, and I'm cool with that. I like the fact that I can fail. I like the fact that there's grace and mercy when I do. But I love the fact that Jesus has called me to be more, and says I can be more. I want life, and life to the full--everything good and wonderful that my life can be with him.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


I went on my first HOT SUNNY DAY RUN yesterday and let me tell you, I was woefully unprepared. I had my new workout gear, a little headband to hold back my chopped hair, and I even popped ate a luna bar an hour or so before with those little gel energy bites. I mistakenly only drank 40 oz of water before the run. Plus, I was out running playing tag with the kids beforehand. I was tired, hot, and exhausted. I forgot how much the sun can and will drain you of all of the energy you have if you aren't properly hydrated--heck even if you are properly hydrated it'll kick your ass.

Every part of my body is sore--even my throat--but it's that good sore. You know the kind where you know you did something good? Yea that kind of sore. I remember feeling it last summer when I started running, and it's a good feeling. Now I just have to keep going, stay on track, and I'm pretty sure I'll be running a 10k in September. Woohoo :)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Independence Day

Today, was such a relaxing day. It was actually a very relaxing weekend. I was able to take some time, reflect, hang out with friends, and REST. Rest was really what I needed. Rest, and time to restart. I've been really contemplating on how blessed I am--I have a great family, good job, wonderful friends, my health, a more than adequate roof over my head, and much much more. I am able to go and do anything I want, and I feel so free.

I'm so thankful for all that I have, and it's days like these that remind me that I need to live life to fullest. That I need to KNOW who and what I'm created to be, and to take hold of that and be that person. I'm so excited for the future--heck I'm excited for the present and what I have before me. I feel my life coming together--and it's not like anything has changed drastically, just my outlook I guess.

Today I started my 10k training. I'm so excited. I've filled out my calendar so I know what I'm going to be doing, have my 5ks scheduled, and am super stoked for the IronGirl 10k on Sept 11th! I think that my goal for this upcoming year is to run one 10k every 3 months, and to run a half marathon next year around this time. This time last year, I had never even run a lap around a track, and now I'm planning on running a half marathon. I feel amazing. Life is good, God is good. Ok, time to go to bed. Gotta start going to be closer to 10pm so I can get a full 8 hours :-/

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Heaven Meets Earth

There are days like these, dreary, overcast days, that I feel most at peace. Maybe it's the fact that I'm sitting in my newly cleaned and curtained living room, having eaten breakfast, listened to some worship songs, and woken up in my own bed. Or maybe it's the knowledge that I have a God is who very real, who hears all of my whisperings (and shouts), and who loves me wholly and completely. It's times like these, times of peace and comfort and rest, that I'm reminded of how good God is.

I've been given some opportunities to widen my horizons, and really take on some responsibility and get involved at the church I'm at. It's what I've wanted--to be involved with a community of people who share the same values as I do, as well as share my life with those people. But I'm nervous.Afraid is the more telling word--afraid that I might not be liked, afraid that I won't be good enough, afraid of rejection. Sigh. Fear can have such a hold on me. It prevents me from putting myself out there, and it causes me to miss out on opportunities that could be great. It's done that all my life.

But the thing about me today, that's different from me 5 years ago, is that I'm not going to let fear win. The difference is, is that I'm stronger, smarter, and understand the backing--the love--that has always gotten me through and will always be there for me.  I'm still scared shitless to put myself out there, to walk into a room full of people I don't know, to possibly open my home, to be vulnerable and open to rejection. But fear isn't going to hold me back. Because what's on the other side, the possibilities, the richness of relationship and community, is too good for me to pass up.

It's days like these, when everything fits together and becomes clear, that I feel like heaven has met earth, and my heart is at peace.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Speaking of Priorities

So after that general post about priorities and needing to get mine in check, I've been wanting to write a blog talking about what my life priorities are. It's hard because I'm sure they're going to change as I grow and change, and honestly, sometimes I think I know what I want--but I really don't. Yep, I admit it, I don't always know what's best for me. However, that is helped by the fact that my faith says that I have a helper--someone who has an amazing future, all the resources in the world, and an incredible, infallible love for me--and so with that guy by my side, I'm feeling pretty confident.

A priority is something that you set as important--your number one priority is something that is set in importance over everything else. My priorities have been screwed up lately, and I just want to state for the record--my record--that I want my priorities to change. I want to be a better person. I want to live my life to the fullest. I want to be everything that I was made to be.

So what does that mean? It means my number one priority has shifted back to my faith. Seeking God, and what he wants for my life takes precedence over everything else. It shapes all of my decisions, and my faith with help guide me. I know for some people this is unfamiliar, and probably seems foolish. I'm ok with that. Let me just say that I know that christianity has been represented and lived out by many people in offensive, hurtful, and unattractive ways--including myself. I know that the Bible can be confusing, and that it seems to contradict itself at times, and that it's stories seem far fetched and sometimes pretty crazy. I know pretty much all of the slams and reasons why people don't like christianity or christians. I've experienced some of those same feelings, been mistreated by people who were supposed to be "loving" and have questioned my faith multiple times.

But there's something in me, something that just knows God is real. There is something inside of me that clings to the hope and faith in a God who is good, loving, trustworthy, faithful, kind, merciful, generous, and forgiving. There's something inside of me that can't help getting excited about a faith that lifts up the underdog, that celebrates and embraces the misfits. There's a whole part of me that is intrigued and challenged when I hear things like "turn the other cheek," and "love your enemies." There's a part of my heart that soars when I see that Jesus came to help the poor, set the captives free, and bring equality to all people. There's that fact that I can identify with so many flawed people in the stories and chapters that God loved and used in wonderful ways despite their inadequacies. I can't get away from it, and no matter how hard I've tried, I can't deny that what I've experienced, seen, and just KNOW, is that God is real. So that's what shapes my life.

So there's that. My faith is going to obviously going to have an influence over my other priorities. And I've been (kinda) thinking about it a bit, and these are the ones that I've mostly come to:

Healthy living. I want my body to be healthy. I want to be strong, fit, and full of life. Exercise and eating well are going to be made priorities in my life. Getting enough sleep is also on the list.

Being generous with my time and money. I know how to give what's comfortable. I know how to have money automatically deducted from my account to causes that I like, but don't really have to think about. I want to be better about being conscious of what I'm doing with my money, as well as being better at giving my time to important causes. I don't just want to throw money at things, I want to be involved, and to truly CARE about those things.

Being there for my current friends, and developing new and deeper friendships with others. I love the people that I've surrounded myself with, and I want to be better at being open and friendly with others, as well as consistent with the friends I've lost contact with or who aren't in my immediate life vicinity.

Being financially responsible. I have a wonderful budget that I follow most of the time, and it's helped me pay off multiple debts. I want to be better at following that budget, and really getting my spending habits under control. I'm a shopaholic, and I want to be better at saying no to things that I don't need. I also want to continue to save, invest, and give more. I also want to live a life where I'm able to have fun, travel, and have all of what I need, and what I want in moderation.

Praying. Hmm, that just randomly popped in my head. I feel like I'm pretty terrible at prayer. I'm a rambler, and it's easy for me to get sidetracked and distracted. But after that experience during 40 days of prayer, and recently with everything that's been happening with friends--where I feel totally helpless--I'm finding that prayer give me comfort and peace. And hey, I believe it never hurts to ask right? Right. I'm not sure how this one is going to look, but I'm just going to go with it.

Alright, I think those are some good priorities. They speak to who I am, and what's important to me. Ok, I gotta start my yoga, then it's off to bed. Yay for 3 days weekends!!!!

Monday, June 27, 2011

One Of Those Days

I feel like I have so much to say these days, but don't even know how to put everything that I'm feeling and going through into words. I think about writing on this thing everyday, literally everyday. But whenever I think of putting all of the jumbled thoughts together, I just feel exhausted. Emotionally and mentally exhausted. I need a change. Do I need a different job? Do I need a different routine? Do I just need a change of heart? I don't know, but I really need to figure stuff out.

One more thing, that I have to just say. It's about love. We speak about love, we make movies about love, we dream and sing songs about it. Lately, I'm really having to "face" what real love is--how to Love others completely and totally. Love is not just a word, or something that should be taken lightly. Love is an act. And it's shown in so many different ways, but recently for me, I'm learning once again that the people that you love are going to make choices that will slowly destroy their lives. And Love, love is patient. It doesn't judge. It doesn't condemn. It listens, and it consoles. It supports, and it speaks truth. The hardest part about Love, is that it doesn't force. It doesn't force people to change. And it isn't conditional. If people don't change, it doesn't abandon them. And maybe these are the best things about love. But I can honestly say that it's so hard to Love when you see people hurting themselves and there's nothing you can do about it. It's so hard not to judge and say "Why can't they see what they're doing to themselves." It's so hard to hear the stories of abuse and very unloving actions, to see them go back to it time and time again, and not give up.

It's funny I've been praying to have the kind of love that Jesus has for us. And it's exactly that kind of love. Unconditional, ready to accept us back even when we've fucked up again and again, ready to hear our woes and stories over and over (even when we're doing it to ourselves), gentle, kind, generous, full of truth. Even when I am being terrible, Jesus still loves me. When I'm hurting myself, he still loves me. When I intentionally or unintentionally hurt others, he still loves me. I should always be careful what I ask for right? If I knew how it would feel, how much it would hurt, how devastating it was, I don't know if I would have asked. But now that I know, now that I know, I want to better. I want to Love others better, and I want to be appreciative and open to the Love that is offered to me every day.  If that's the kind of love that I want, that is offered to me, it's the kind of love that I should give right?

8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,”[a] and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Rom 13:8-10

So even though it's hard to see a friend hurting, and making decisions that may very well crush them, I am going to try out this whole Love thing. I am blown away by Love, completely and totally blown away.

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  8 Love never fails. 1 Cor 13:4-8

Monday, June 20, 2011


And, I'm back. It's been awhile. I have been...what's the word...busy. Busy, busy busy. Funny how it creeps into our vocabulary, making excuses for what we don't do. Oh, was I reminded of that this week.

One of my absolutely favorite blogs Back to Her Roots talked this week about the bare necessities, and other than the fact that The Jungle Book is one of my favorite disney movies, the post really challenged me. She talked about how for her, when life gets BUSY, exercise is one of the first things to go. Which is ironic because exercise helps her to recalibrate and de-stress. Through another woman's blog (I love how we all inspire each other), she realized that exercise is a necessity, as necessary as breathing, sleeping, eating, etc. You should go read her blog. Like now. Or at least save it and read it when you're done here :) I loved this quote:

"The truth is not that I’m lazy. The truth is that as important and empowering as exercise is to me at times, in my mind, it was never vital. A fun thing to do, but easily tossed aside if something better came along.
Now that I recognize my views toward exercise, I can start changing them. I’m not sure what my plan of attack will be. After all, how do you change your outlook? But I at least know where I am and where I want to go to. I know I need to view exercise as a vital part of my life."

I am so with her on this, and not just on exercise and eating responsibly. Yesterday I went to church and Richard ever so gently and eloquently gave my mind a little shake talking about this same exact thing--priorities-the bare necessities. He talked about the kingdom, and how everyone's idea of the kingdom was so different...and so wrong. Jesus' kingdom makes the least, greatest. It changes everything. It causes our priorities to change and it asks us to live differently.

 I've been living life, and adding Jesus on. I've been seeking my priorities and the things I want, and saying "oh yea, Jesus fits in there somewhere." But in the meantime my values have been muddled-even in my own head sometimes. The things that I was passionate about, my beliefs, my faith, have taken a second seat to the kingdom that I created. My own little world in which I seek what I want, desire, and feel like I need. Instead of putting his priorities for my life first, I'm making my own.

So where do I go from here? Repentance. It means a total turning around. I was going one way, and now I'm going the total opposite. It doesn't just mean SAYING what I'm going to do, and it doesn't mean just KNOWING the right thing to do--it means acting on it. It means that mundane details such as time won't let me so easily kick my beliefs to the curb. It means that I no longer just say I have a faith, but that I truly act on it. It means that my shop-a-holic tendencies are going to take a backseat to the priorities that he sets in my life. Not that I can't have the things that I enjoy, but that if it comes between clothes and giving generously and I feel like I'm supposed to give, that clothes will have to wait.

Richard said two things more things that really resonate with me, first, you don't know where you land. People seeking the kingdom live different lives. Some are plagued with sickness, some are healthy as horses. Some are persecuted, some live without that fear. Some are rich, some are poor. Some are missionaries, some live in their homestates. God calls us to different things--we're supposed to seek his kingdom and see where he wants us. Second--it you try to live into the kingdom only when it fits, you're not getting it. This is a commitment. It's a complete change. It a total a complete shift and re-prioritization of my life.

So, where do I go from here. God only knows (ha, literally). But I'm ready for the change. I want something different. I want that burn that I feel when I'm running and feeling good. I want that proud feeling that I have when I eat healthy and choose to say no. And I want my life to be a reflection of hope and love in the world.

"I’m not sure what my plan of attack will be. After all, how do you change your outlook? But I at least know where I am and where I want to go to. I know I need to view exercise (faith) as a (the) vital part of my life." Back To Her Roots (italics mine :) )

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Weight Of Glory

How is it that when I read the Bible, I occasionally will catch a moment in which things are totally illuminated, and I learn and grow, but it seems every time I read C.S. Lewis, I end up blubbering my prayers? And this may be an exaggeration, but today, it was most certainly true.

I've been reading a lot. I'm pretty sure I've read at least 15 books this year--probably more. When I was in school, the majority of my books were christian theology books because, well, I was studying christian theology. Even when I got out of school, I didn't seem to tire of reading them (the good and interesting ones at least). Then, I rediscovered the joys of reading books like Harry Potter, and Tolkien, and girl books like Confessions of a Shopaholic and somehow my enjoyment of the other books went away. Or so I thought. That in fact was not the process, the process was that somehow along the way, the passion of learning and growing in my faith somehow gave way to me just holding on to the things I knew.

And that doesn't mean that I haven't learned or grown in my faith over the past couple of years, but sometimes I think that I have recycled the same things over and over again so much that they are yes, engrained, but in some senses, don't mean as much to me as they meant when I first learned them. There are so many things that God has shown me through people, blogs, MUSIC, regular books, nature, and just life over the years, but sometimes you need a little C.S. Lewis to bust you over your head and remind you of the basics. Right? Right.

And in his ever loving and simple way, Lewis showed me how self centered I am. But let me back up and say that he also reminded me of a desire in my heart, so simple, so innocent, so, almost boring that I forget that I have it--it's a desire to be known. It's a desire to be known, acknowledged, accepted, and let in. It's a desire to be seen and appreciated for who I am. It's a desire to be welcomed. And he talked about how that is a part of the perks of the faith--glory, being known and acknowledged by God.

In a particular part of the reading he's talking about how scripture supports the idea of glory as being known by God. He talks about how in Corinthians a promise is that we will be known by God, and that in other parts of scripture, the other part, the opposite is God saying "I never knew you. Depart from me." He talks about that deep longing within each of us, and the unspeakable fear that many of us have.

"We can be left utterly and absolutely outside-repelled, exiled, estranged, finally and unspeakably ignored. On the other hand, we can be called in, welcomed, received, acknowledged. We walk every day on the razor edge between these two incredible possibilities. Apparently, then, our lifelong nostalgia, our longing to be reunited with something in the universe from which we now feel cut off, to be on the inside of some door which we have always seen from the outside, is no more a neurotic fancy, but the truest index of our real situation. And to be at last summoned inside would be both glory and honour beyond all our merits and also the healing of that old ache." pg.42

To be known, is an ache in my soul. I want to not only be known and seen by God, but also by the people around me. Lewis says that it's very possible for us to focus too much on our own glory, but that it's pretty impossible to think too much of our neighbor's glory. He talks about how everyday we are helping each other become creatures of beauty, or creatures of horror, and that instead of treating each other with flippancy, and judgment, and worst as all--as if that other person doesn't even exist, we should be treating each other with such care, such love, such goodness, that it's encouraging each other towards the goodness and beauty rather than the horrors. I don't know if I'm even describing this right, but in his words:

"There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilisations--these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit--immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. This does not mean we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously--no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be a real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner--no mere tolerance, or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment. Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbour is the holiest object presented to your senses." pg 46

Which brings me back to my self centeredness. I've come to realize that I don't treat people as I should. And maybe it's fear of rejection, but I tend to hold people at arms length, and not really take the time to know them, let alone see them. If I see them, I might see them as someone who has something I want (like that woman with the cutest purse), or I might see them as someone who can get me somewhere. For the majority of strangers in my life, I see them as faces, not people who have the same desire to be known and seen. And I find that disheartening, and sad, and incredibly enlightening.

I am at a point in my life where I can choose to continue to pass by, live in fear of rejection, and not engage people in a real way, or I can choose to see people. I can choose to step out of my own self centeredness and appreciate, love, acknowledge and not prejudge people. It's so hard for me to not defend myself--because I want to say all the good things that I do, and how much I love the people who I know and how I volunteer and buy real change and blah blah blah. Fuck that. Seriously. It's not enough to love only those you KNOW. It's not enough to do good to those who do good to you. It's not enough to smile at someone who's homeless and hand them a dollar or buy them food. EVERYONE needs to be loved. Everyone needs to be seen, and I need to take a step out of my own world and begin to see people, and treat them as I truly want to treated. To know them as I want to be known. As Lewis says, "There are no ordinary people."

"Now I see you, til kingdom come you're the one I want, to see me for all the stupid shit I've done. Soil and six feet under, killed just like we were, before you knew you'd know me, and you know me. Blooming up from the ground, 3 rounds and a sound, like whispering you know me, and you know me." Blind Pilot, 3 Rounds and a Sound

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Case Of The Mondays

Oh man I need to do something about this whole waking up after 6 hours of sleep and then reading and trying to nap for the next 2 hours. It's killing me when I'm trying to actually wake up. Plus that dang snooze button-- "5 more minutes" turns into 30. Well, it's Tuesday. That three day weekend was entirely too short, but this week is pretty much going to whizz by with our event this Friday.

It's been hard for me to be motivated at work lately. We just did this "culture" survey about how we feel about the organization, and after filling it out, it made me really wonder whether I want to stay where I'm at. Don't get me wrong--I love the Club where I'm working. I love the people, I love the kids (most of the time), and I love the atmosphere that has been built up over the past five years of working there. I don't trust the organization as a whole, and when filling out that survey and writing in some of my answers, I realized how discontent I am. I keep hearing "things are changing," and I believe it; I just wonder how I'm going to put my trust in an organization that mismanaged and didn't hold people accountable, and then let it's employees suffer for it. I don't know, maybe that's an oversimplification, but it's the way I feel. It's hard for me to even want to go to work some days. But maybe it's just this crazy weather we're having. It's almost June. When is the sun coming out?!?

On a lighter note, I had a mini getaway to Portland two weekends ago, did a little remodel of my bedroom and now--you can see floor woohoo, and tackled the backyard to prepare for summer bbqing...and a whole lot more. I unfortunately am still not done completely dominating my apartment into a clean, organized, beautiful living space, but it'll get there soon! And Portland. Portland was so empty! We were there and the downtown area(s) were totally devoid of people. Nobody really walking around on the street (except homeless and they were nice), but other than that it just seemed so barren. We found people at the Saturday Market, and then encountered a small bustle of people near Powells, and oh my goodness had a great breakfast at By The Way Cafe, but other than that, I wasn't really digging it. Maybe I need to go with a local next time? Who knows.

Last thing on the whole catch up list--I'm going to start doing my 100 Days of Weight Loss blogging over at my other page Dynamic Leap It's where I started this whole weight loss adventure, and I don't want this blog to turn into a weight loss journal. So, if you're digging that type of stuff, you will find it there.

Welp, I'm off to get ready for work. Weekend come quickly!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Blue Wednesday

Do you ever have those kind of days when you just want to curl up in your bed and hide from the world? Today was one of those days. I don't know if it's the rainy weather, my general discontent with my work life, or just a blah mood--but all I wanted to do was go home. I figured I should check in and say I'm still alive...stagnant on Day 4. I'll get back on track...just need to get rid of these blues :)

Sunday, May 22, 2011


I've been away for far too long. I have a lot to write about but alas I shall have to finish absorbing the weekend then write about it later this week. What a weekend!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Day 3: Frustration!

I was awoken at 4am this morning by some irrational, angry tenants. I don't want to relive the details, but everyone knows how much I hate having empty apartments, and I want their apartment to be empty right now--that's how frustrating they are! But, there were some pluses to waking up early. I cleaned all of the common areas in my apartment, and I cleaned the entire apartment building. I got some filing done, and I'm feeling caught up and good about life in general. I think the BFF and I are going to take a spontaneous trip to PDX this weekend with our bikes! I'm super stoked!

Today's 100DOWL topic was "Do it anyway." It talked about how we get all stoked and motivated, but at some point or another we're not going to FEEL like exercising, or cooking a healthy meal, or staying away from the sweets, and the book's advice--do it anyway. This is one of my favorite chapters because it reminds me that there are plenty of things that I don't want to do all the time--but I do them because they're important. Am I important to myself? Is my health important? If so--I stay committed and "do it anyway." Yoga-check. Eating healthy-check. Mostly staying away from sweets--half check. Ate two unplanned cookies today, but stayed away from other sugar temptations :)

Today I read the first part of Matt 6 (1:18). I stopped at 18 because I feel like there's so much to say about the last half of the chapter, plus these first verses have so much in common. The basic message is if you do good things in order to get recognition from people, that's all the recognition you're going to get. If you give to the needy and shout it from the rooftops, pray to be seen by men, or fast so people KNOW you're fasting, all the props and admiration you get from said people are your reward. If you do these things discretely, God rewards you. I think it goes back to the fact of letting your light shine so people can see your works and praise God. If you're doing things purely to bring attention and admiration to yourself, you motives aren't pure and you just don't get it.

There's always that question of--if you're doing good, what's the difference anyway? I kind of think about it in the way of kids doing good only because someone's watching. When people aren't watching, they don't behave, but when they know an adult's watching, or they get a prize, they behave. They don't do it because they understand it's the right thing to do, or have the right motives--they do it out of fear of getting in trouble, or because they only want props--but 99% of the time in their downtime they're doing something completely OPPOSITE of good. God wants us to give, and pray, and fast, because we understand his heart behind it. We give so that others can feel his love and compassion. We pray so that we can hear from him. We fast so that we can be more in tune with him...something about pushing aside our physical wants to become more connected to the spiritual. Anyway, if someone's doing these things for props or to avoid hell, they're not really getting it. The behavior lasts for a moment, but isn't true...and that's not what God wants.

He wants us to understand love, compassion, generosity, and the amazing feeling of giving up what we want and getting something so much more amazing in return. His motives are good, and what he has for us is amazing. I pray that I will not do things because it's "what I'm supposed to do," but because I understand and believe in the motives behind it. It's good to be reminded :)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Kicking Butt

Today, was a great day personally for me. After talking about being interested vs. committed, I realized there were 3 things that I was merely interested in but not committed to: tracking calories, staying away from unplanned sweets, and exercising consistently. Today, I did all three--and I ran 4 miles again and shaved off 2 mins at 46:32. So I'm at an 11:38 mile. My goal is to get to an 11 minute mile whenever I run.

I feel so much better about myself when I am eating healthy, exercising, and saying no to things that aren't so good for me. Better choices make for a better life. It makes sense, but sometimes it's hard to get in the groove :)

Day 2: Committed vs. Interested

"When you're truly committed to achieving our goals, you have an entirely different outlook. Unlike being interested, where it doesn't take much to detract you from your goals, being committed means you stick with it, no matter what." 100DOWL

Today the book talked about the difference between being interested vs committed in this journey. If you're just interested, any little thing will throw you off. I admit that as I've restarted this thing, I'm been easily distracted by snacks, chips, cookies, and donuts brought into work. Of course I say "whyyyy did you bring these?" but then commence to snacking on them--way more than I should. This time last year--when I was truly committed to losing weight, I either wouldn't have touched them, or I would have had a small serving--then tracked it.

I was reading one of my favorite blogs the other day and she had a quote that said "Goals that are not written down are just wishes." I feel like one of the biggest differences between me last year and this year was the fact that I was desperate to prove that I could lose weight, but also that I had really specific goals and I stuck with them. I've now proven that I can lose weight, and the pressure is off now that I'm in a size that I'm pretty comfortable in. I'm back in the interested phase, and I really want to move into the commitment phase, but I'm not sure how to get there. And the biggest thing that's hurting me right now is my eating habits--eating junk food at work and not tracking my intake. So, hm. One of my goals will be that I track my calories at least 4 days a week. Hopefully getting into that small habit will keep my on track and remind me that that 300 calorie donut is NOT worth it.

Whenever I read Matthew I marvel at how much Jesus calls us beyond normal response and behavior. He says things like "anger is like murder, looking at a woman with lust is like adultery in your heart, turn the other cheek, and love your enemies." He calls us to a sort of righteousness that is seemingly impossible. It's interesting, because he asks us not to respond like everyone else would respond, but to take it to a higher level. I admit that I struggle with lust, anger, revenge, and dislike for people who aren't like me just like everyone else. This call to have a better response is pretty radical, and it makes me aware of just how good God is--because he wants us to love and respond in the way that he does. He wants us to respond with the unexpected, to show what his love is like--full of grace, compassion, mercy, forgiveness. Is this not why it says at the end "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." This is his character coming out, and it's good.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Day 1: Salt

FYI this is the book I'm referring to when I write 'the book' or '100 DOWL.' It's a great tool, and even when I'm restarting it for the third time, it's still relevant.

"Rather than being fearful that you'll repeat the past, build a new way of thinking." 100 DOWL

Today the book talked about not letting your past failures get in the way of your future success. I feel like that is some kind of quote--I swear it just came to me like that haha. When it comes to weight loss, it's easy to say "oh, I messed up by eating that donut, I might as well eat this piece of pizza, and also these cookies" and then to get on a spiral of self loathing and ultimately giving up. The book talks about changing that cycle by saying 'I used to be that way, but now I'm different.' It encourages us to make new patterns in our life, by saying and thinking positive things about ourselves rather than negative.

Words bring life and death--and our words to ourselves are so important in living healthy successful lives. If I told myself I was ugly, stupid, and would never achieve the goals I set I am 100% sure I would live those words. The opposite is absolutely true. I've seen this in my life, and am blessed to somehow have realized this at the ripe old age of 17 when I realized that everything that I didn't like about my appearance and my differences were beautiful, unique, and wonderful. I don't know what brought about the change, but when I believed it, I began to be more confident--and you could see it in the way I dressed, talked, was just so apparent. So, lesson for today--speak positively of my future success and of myself. Don't focus on the failures of my past--learn from them, and move on.

"You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men." Matt 5:13

Salt--it flavors food. It makes things taste better. So I'm supposed to be the flavor of the earth. I'm supposed
to make this world taste better. How am I doing that? How am I making the world a better place? It's a good reminder for me. It's easy for me to go through the motions and say 'oh I give, oh I volunteer' but forget why I'm doing these things:

"In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." v. 16

It's to show how awesome God is. It's to reveal his love, his compassion, and all the goodness he offers and brings. It's not because it's the right thing to do--it's because he gave. It's because he volunteered. It's because he fed, and healed, and loved. He did these wonderful things, and inspired them in me. He was the example. Why do I do it? Because he did it for me, and I want others to experience the same love and goodness that has been shown to me. It's not about me, oh thank GOD it's not about me. It's about revealing real love and truth.

100 Days

It's hard for me to commit. I'm just one of those people who always has to have other options, or the ability to choose something different. I think a better way to describe my fear of commitment, is to say it's an inability to make a decision or feel satisfied because WHAT IF I find something better. Also, what are the lifelong ramifications of my decision? I can seriously remember all of the fear and conflicting feelings once I finally got a dog that I had 'planned' for for 6 months. I was terrified. I had this life, this other being that I had to care about. Commitment is the beginning of the end of selfishness and just thinking of myself. And that, ultimately, is why I think commitment is hard for me.

The end of selfishness. I live my life for me. I love my friends, and family, and cat. But ultimately, all my decisions are for me--my desires, my health, my happiness, my image. Now, a large part of my happiness and contentment comes from my relationship with others. I'm not so fully engrossed in myself that I don't recognize and appreciate that and put aside some of my selfish desires for the good of others. But I'm mostly selfish. I have to be honest.

I got a big smack in the face yesterday when I realized that I've been selfish and consumed with money recently. It was so subtle and had just enough elements of generosity and good deeds that I didn't even realize it. I thought I was doing well. Well, if I'm honest, I knew I was dissatisfied, but I didn't realize it was because I was obsessed with money--I thought it was because I didn't have enough. ha, ha, ha. So here I am, working through this issue.

My goal by the end of this week is to take my wonderful budget, tweak it a bit, and actually follow it. I don't know if ya'll know, but I have a kick-ass budget. I just never follow it exactly how it's written. Annnnd, I think I should cut down on my personal spending line. Sure I pay down my credit cards, bills that I can't avoid, rent, and student loans, and allow 6% of my income to go to worthy causes, but after that it's pretty much a big muddled mess. Savings? goes auto into my account...until I need it because I've overspent on clothes. That other 4% that I want to give? Yea...that also gets thrown in the pot. So that's goal number one. Re-evaluate my budget, and commit to that budget.

My second commitment--I want to read my 100 Days of Weight Loss book & either a scripture or spiritually edifying article/book/whatever. I think I got through 70 days on my last jag with the book, and it really helped me stay focused on my healthy lifestyle goals, and it also helped me identify and work through food issues. What better thing to pair it with than spiritual health. Right? Right.

I was going to pair this with "working out 5 days a week" or some other such goal around that. But, I feel like getting my head and heart in line will get the rest of me in line. I still am training for a 10k. I'm still trying to eat healthy. Those go right along with these other commitments. So, August 23rd is 100 days from now. I was able to commit to 30 days of wearing the same clothes--more if you count the days I pretty much dressed in the same thing as the day before and was lazy around the house or town. I can commit to 100 days of spiritual, mental, and physical health.

Here's to a turn around in my thinking and overall living. Here's to me living a life of commitment. I'm going to seriously need help on this ;)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Seeing Clearly

I went to church today. One of my new year's resolutions was making it to church 3/4 Sundays of the month. I have failed at that, but I'm always glad when I go, because I am always challenged by what Richard is teaching. Let me just take a sidenote and say that the reason I go to Bethany is not because of the people (I haven't fully connected yet), it's because they have a great leader in Richard. Now, don't get me wrong, I don't follow him blindly or think he's everything I need to get me through life. However, he is like no other pastor that I have "been under" in the past 10 years of my life. He is so well balanced, open to differing opinions, well traveled, intelligent, thoughtful, LOVING in word AND deed, as well as strong in his faith. He does such a great job of opening his arms to everyone while embracing his beliefs and living them fully. And he has a church that serves the community, houses the homeless, feeds the hungry, serves the needy, builds wells in Africa, gives generously, and is committed to their spiritual walks. It's not perfect, but it's exactly what my wandering, hopeful heart needs at this point in my life.

Today he talked about the kingdom of God, and how it is "now and not yet." How when Jesus comes, there will be no wars, no tears, no hunger, no oppression, reconciliation, and earth will basically be everything this it was created to be. He will come to fix everything. That time, obviously, is the not yet, because I don't know if you're living in the same world I am, but there is still war, tears, hunger, oppression, homelessness, poverty, and injustice all around. However, we have this opportunity to bring the kingdom now. We have the opportunity to wipe tears away, put down arms, feed a hungry child, stand against violence, and give all that we have. That is our job--to bring about this kingdom as much as we can.

However, we get caught up. We get caught up in three things: "Jesus...and," "waiting," and "power." Some people wait because they have this attitude "if jesus is coming back why should I do anything?" Why should I try to save the environment, be an educated consumer, etc. when it's all going to be gone and 'done over' when Jesus comes back? But that's not what Jesus did when he was here. He healed the sick, he fed the hungry, he raised the dead. He lived very much in a 'kingdom now' kind of world. And that's the same one we're living in. Some people think it's about getting power. They think "if I can align with the right people, then we can take over and MAKE everyone believe what we want." If I can bully them into believing it counts right? Wrong. So very wrong. And there are countless times in history that Christians have had this mindset, and many still do--and it's evident in our world right now.

For me, 'waiting' and 'power' are not big issues. It's just not been the way I've thought after living in this world, questioning my faith, and coming to my own conclusions. "Of course," I say to myself, "these are obviously not how we bring about the kingdom and people who think that" Oh, but then there comes the "Jesus, and.." and I am stuck with a big fat "F" on my head as well.

Richard talked about the fact that Israel's problem was never a rejection of Jehovah, it was always the fact that they wanted to have Jehovah AND another god aka an idol. They thought they could have Jehovah and Asherah but really, what they were becoming most like was Asherah. Their focus, was Asherah. Idols. Idols, idols, idols. We talk about them all the time, I've heard the speech before and identified idols in my life in my younger years (men, media, etc.), but it seems like it's something I needed to hear again because whoa do I have a big idol in my life: money.

It was surprising to me, because I pride myself on giving to worthy causes. I pride myself on being generous. But when I really look at money, and how I've used it, and how I focus on it, and how much I THINK about it and where it goes--I realize that it's a huge idol in my life. I thought it was clothes shopping--whoops back to money. I thought it was my job and getting more education so I can make more--whoops back to money. Everything that I've been thinking about and that my life is centered around is money. Shopping, job, clothing, eating out, travel, bills, tithe, giving. None of these are bad things. None of these things are inherently evil. But my focus on money has been eating up and taking over my life. It's been about Jesus...and what I'm doing with my money. Am I saving enough? Am I paying my bills on time? Do I have enough to travel? And in the end, really, it all just has been about money. Jesus, and the awesomeness of his message and everything he has been about has been pushed aside by my own personal Asherah--money.

Enough. I'm tired of my inner thought life being consumed by cash. Richard said "the kingdom resonates and offends." What the kingdom brings is so appealing, but what I have to give up to bring it about, what it throws in my face, is not so appealing. I know that I cannot end all war, and that I cannot feed every hungry person, but what am I doing to make the kingdom visible to people? What am I doing to bring the kingdom? And most of all, where am I "opening up the vicegrip of my life" so that I can see and experience the kingdom better? For me, I feel like it starts with money. It starts with me re-evaluating my budget. It starts with me tithing fully, not partially. It starts with me paring down my spending habits on eating out and clothes. It starts with me letting go of money as security, and opening my eyes to my role in this kingdom that God wants to bring to the world right now. 

I've been finding myself saying more and more these days 'I'm not perfect.' I'm starting to see very clearly that it's true, but there's hope. There is love, there is compassion, and there is life to fullest at the end of that realization. Awesome.