Happy Birthday to Me

My birthday was January 11th.  I had an epiphany that day that I’d like to share…  I love the new year.  I get so busy between Thanksgiving and Christmas that the new year often becomes this beacon of hope shining out in promise and rest and newness.  I’m not so big into new year’s resolutions, but I do sense a feeling of starting over every January 1st.

Birthday Dinner at Chuy's

The trouble is, my Christmas vacation is usually still going on when January 1st hit.  Now, the only “trouble” with this is that I’m usually out of pocket, not at home, with my family, still indulging on sweets and such, etc.  Then I arrive home around the 5th and have to get my home back in order, unpack, go to the grocery store, etc. before I can think about applying anything of the new things I want to do or the undone things I want to pick back up.  I wonder if that makes any sense to anyone else…

Anyway, I often find that on my birthday, I look up and think, “Geez!  We’re 11 days into this new year and I haven’t begun ________ or _______ or finished ________.”

Birthday Dinner at Chuy's

This year, I had a different thought:  January 11th is my new year.  That is so often the day I’m ready to jump in with both feet and do all the things I’ve been wanting to do.  Talk about a sense of relief!

One of those things I planned to do in the new year was take part in Anne Voskamp’s Joy Dare.  To hit the goal of 1000 listed gifts in a year, I need to do about three a day, but by my birthday, I had done zero.  I started to feel behind.  “I should give up!  I can’t even stay current this early in the year!  Oh well…it’s too late now.”  (I know, a little melodramatic, but some of you are with me, right?)  The birthday epiphany gave me the encouragement I needed when I realized I always feel behind when I hit my birthday and haven’t hit my stride for the new year.

So I started where I was and have my list underway.  I’m finding it easiest to post my Joy Dare list in Facebook, but I’d like to keep a running list somewhere, so maybe here…my first 20:

1. delicious Paleo meals
2. the first Hope Student Life of 2014 last night
3. coconut soup for lunch
4. tulips in the morning sunlight on my kitchen table
5. allergies (yes, I’m thankful for them because they remind me me of how good I normally feel when I don’t have them…and *everything* from God’s hand is a gift…)
6. successfully resisting temptation
7. forgiveness for failing to resist temptation
8. Braving the allergens to enjoy this beautiful day
9. Lunch with great, fun, and silly friends
10. Church at Hope Chapel with these fine folks (and a few others…):
11. yet another beautiful day in Austin
12. persistent faith that clings to God’s promises in His Word
13. an optimistic tree already in bloom as if it’s spring
14. lessons from Malcolm Gladwell’s “David and Goliath”
15. parents who are willing to learn new things, despite their children giving them a hard time!
16. homemade laundry detergent
17. fresh flowers on the kitchen table
18. sunlight through purple bottles on the windowsill
19. prayers to a loving, compassionate Father
20. ending a list on a nice round number…

What are you thankful for?


101 Ways to Be Happy

This is my 101st blog, so I am going to share with you my ideas for101 ways to be happy. In no particular order…

  1. Go outside
  2. Examine a ladybug
  3. Drink a soothing warm drink
  4. Call your mom (unless she makes you unhappy, in which case, see #5)
  5. Don’t call your mom (unless you can encourage her to be happy and remain happy yourself, in which case, see #4)
  6. Call your dad (ditto from #4 and #5)
  7. Smile at a stranger
  8. Be kind
  9. Watch something funny
  10. Look at something beautiful
  11. Say something beautiful
  12. Light a candle
  13. Smell a rose
  14. Get a massage
  15. Look forward to something
  16. Hope
  17. Read the Bible
  18. Take a walk
  19. Do something silly
  20. Plant a flower
  21. Play with your kitty
  22. Paint
  23. Fall in love
  24. Stay in love
  25. Dance
  26. Go for a walk in the rain
  27. Share
  28. Play
  29. Color
  30. Do a puzzle
  31. Tell someone you love them
  32. Let someone tell you they love you
  33. Splash in a puddle
  34. Kick rocks along a dirt road
  35. Go swimming
  36. Do tricks (handstands, hold your breath a long time, etc.) in the swimming pool and insist someone watch you
  37. Go to the beach
  38. Go camping
  39. Tell a funny story to someone who loves to laugh
  40. Tell a funny story to someone who snorts when they laugh
  41. Eat a grilled cheese sandwich
  42. Use different colored pens on your calendar
  43. Pick daisies
  44. Watch the sunset
  45. Watch the sunrise
  46. Get away from the city’s light pollution and stargaze
  47. Make homemade pizza
  48. Eat chocolate-covered strawberries
  49. Go on a picnic
  50. Look at Pinterest
  51. Send someone a hand-written note
  52. Say, “Thank you.”
  53. Say, “Please.”
  54. Say, “I appreciate you.”
  55. Say, “I love you.”
  56. Get a pedicure
  57. Choose a nail polish in a color you wouldn’t normally choose
  58. Go on a weekend retreat
  59. Make chocolate chip cookies, eat them fresh out of the oven with cold milk
  60. Watch your favorite movie
  61. Run through a sprinkler
  62. Sit by a fire on a cold night
  63. Go on a campout
  64. Go on vacation
  65. Go on a hike
  66. Try coffee ice cream with chocolate chip cookie dough crushed in it
  67. Try something new
  68. Go to a museum
  69. Tickle a child
  70. Tickle a grown up
  71. Make a new friend
  72. Call an old friend
  73. Blow bubbles
  74. Make homemade ice cream 
  75. Finger paint
  76. Make homemade play dough
  77. Do a project with someone you love
  78. Plant a garden
  79. Tend a garden
  80. Wash your neighbor’s car
  81. Mow your neighbor’s lawn
  82. Talk to your neighbor
  83. Go to a movie
  84. Sit in the sunshine
  85. Watch snow fall
  86. Exercise
  87. Use fancy dishes
  88. Use colorful paper plates
  89. Sing along at the top of your lungs to the radio in your car
  90. Play a game
  91. Look through photos from a vacation
  92. Daydream
  93. Walk through a garden
  94. Go to a park
  95. Doodle
  96. Wear your favorite shirt
  97. Draw
  98. Write
  99. Read
  100. Pray
  101. Laugh!

Oh, interval training…how I’ve missed you!

In my training for the half marathon, I pretty much abandoned all other training except for running.  It was time-consuming and brain-power consuming and sinceI’m limited in both of those areas, I needed to focus to accomplish my goals for the race.  It was a conscious decision that I believe was the right one for me.

However, I am glad to be done with it.  As the miles got longer, the time spent (obviously) got longer and more often than not, it was about completion more than anything else. The worst part about the training was the time commitment.  Sounds kinda odd, but the runs were never so hard that I dreaded doing them for the physical toll – just the time-toll. (Note: I didn’t do hill training or tempo training, as my coach advised.  I just got the miles in.)  My body was spent at the end of them, but even that wasn’t a big deal to me.  I suppose intense cardio exercise that gets your heart really pumping is the kind of exercise that I categorize as “hard,” and so this just wasn’t hard for me in that way.

I’m only just realizing this today, so let me see if I can convey what’s rattling around in my mind…

For the last two weeks, I’ve been giving my body a break.  With the exception of leading a couple of exercises classes and going for walks with my husband, I haven’treally done any serious exercise.  I’ve been thinking about what’s next, exploring some options, and pondering new goals.

Friday, I threw in an interval-training DVD a our friends – David and Shuna Norton – produced awhile back.  David gave us the DVD several months ago, but I had never looked at it.  Today, I just felt like doing it, so I did.  David’s a goof-ball, so it made the routine fun, but he’s also seriously fit, so it was definitely a challenge.  Heart rate was up, breathing was heavy – just like you’d expect from an interval round.

What I had forgotten was the way I feel after an interval training session.  The endorphins kick in and I feel just great.  Really great, in fact.  Full of energy and enthusiasm and ready to GO!  I don’t recall ever feeling that after a long run (or any run!).  Ironic that what some call the “Runner’s High” I’ve never had after running…  Pride and sense of accomplishment, sure, but more tired than anything else.

Anyway, it was an old, familiar feeling, reminiscent of the good old days doing CATZ sessions, one-on-one training sessions with Lauren Sparrow Meyer, anddiscovering what my body is truly capable of.  Like a flood, those memories came rushing back in on me along with their emotions and hopefulness.  Sounds like it’s time for something entirely different from what I’ve been doing for the last 4-5 months, but a return to a forgotten love. This is the (re)start to a beautiful friendship.  😉

until we get there

I’ve started writing a book.  It is the chronicling of some of the amazing things God has done in my life, my husband’s life, and our relationship over the last 10 or so years.  Recent turmoil has brought my heart closer to God and reminded me of how much He has done for us – how He has always provided for us, given us wisdom and guidance, and just generally taken care of us.

It has been a long-time dream of mine to write stories of how God moves in the lives of His people.  Our testimonies begin with salvation, but that’s just the opening act.  It’s all the amazing stuff God does between here and eternity that make up the story of His goodness and realness in our lives.

I’m finally doing it – writing our story.  It is wonderful to remember the lessons God has taught us, the places of fear and doubt where He took us by the hand and showed us His better way.  The seasons of change vs. constancy.  The seasons of ease vs. struggle.  The opening of our eyes to the hand of God in our lives.  He really does have an amazing plan – what a privilege to see it unfolding!

But I can’t decide what to call it.  The phrase “intersection of faith and life” has been floating around in my brain the last few weeks, but so has “life lessons…so far.”  Both seem a little cliched at this point and I keep returning to Exodus 10:26 ~ “Until we get there, we will not know what we are to use to worship the Lord.”

That’s been the ‘theme verse’ of our lives for years now.  It comes from the story of Moses trying to get Pharaoh to let the Israelites go and worship their Lord.  It’s in the middle of all the plagues and Pharaoh’s wishy-washiness.  He gives in and tells Moses they can go, but without any livestock or possessions.  But they need the livestock as part of the sacrificial ceremonies for cleansing, so Moses says they need everything because until they get to the place of worship, they won’t know what they will need in worship.

As our lives unfold and we do things and experience things and face trials and triumphs, we just never know what God is going to put in our lives next so that we can worship Him with that new thing.  Seeming defeat often opens the door for a greater victory.

So, until we get “there” – wherever there may be – we just don’t know what God is going to do in our lives that we’ll get to use to worship Him with.

What’s your vote for my book name?



i have a confession to make.

i already confessed it to God last night and now i’m confessing it to you in the hopes that this will make me even more accountable.

a little history… last year in BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) we studied Isaiah.  it was amazing and convicting.  if i had to sum it up in one thought it would be this: “don’t worship idols.”  seems pretty simple, right?  i have no little wooden or metal statues of weird gods around my house that i pray to or bow to or leave food for.  so, check that one off the list and move on.

fast forward to this year as we are studying Acts and several other New Testament books.  idol worship is again an issue only now the definition is a little more in your face: “an idol is anything or anyone that takes your focus from God.”  hmmm.  not quite so cut and dried.  a little more pokey.  that can mean that something that was not an idol yesterday may be an idol today and not tomorrow.  it’s all in how i respond to it.  it’s about my treatment of it, heart toward it, motivation in having it.

i confess that i have an idol in my life.

if i’m perfectly honest, this has been coming on since last year.  last year.  geez…i’m a little slow.  quite often, i would hear the question, “is there anything in your life that could be considered an idol?” and, “is there anything that causes you to take your focus off God?” and then, “remember that if something came quickly to your mind, that’s most likely the conviction of the Holy Spirit.”  sure something popped into my mind and just as quickly the justification monkeys start explaining it away.

justification monkeys.  i just came up with that just now.  i kinda like it.  think kooky chaos and loud screeching to distract you from whatever else is going on.  monkeys creep me out – especially when people dress them in clothes.  i recently saw Wicked – those monkeys in Oz really creep me out…always have.

sorry.  tangent.

so last night i was watching some show on Netflix.  it was an interesting show, but it was foul.  the language, the innuendo, the topics.  foul.  i kept watching – several 30-minute episodes.  i was almost ready for bed and kinda had an icky feeling.  i get icky feelings when i watch icky stuff – it’s like i have a physical reaction to it.  so i decided to watch something less icky to get rid of the ickiness i had just ingested for the last two hours.

and that’s when it finally hit me.  what God has been telling me over and over.  it was like a punch in the stomach and a lightbulb in the brain.  IDOL.

i can’t explain it fully.  i can’t really give you all the reasons or explain my thought processes or reason through it.  i just knew, in that instant that television had become my idol.  i was turning to it for comfort, for relaxation, for escape, for encouragement, for happiness, for a lot of things that A) it can’t provide and B) God provides truly and deeply and fully and really.

i turned it off and prayed.  i confessed.  and i made a decision.  i am giving up television.  indefinitely.  i tried to bargain with God and put a timeframe on it, but He was deafeningly silent about the length of time i was to fast from tv.  i have a feeling it will be until i don’t want to watch it any more…

i realize this may come across as fanatic, crazy and down-right un-American.  i’m sorry, but i just can’t do it.  i just can’t continue to ignore God’s request.  He is my Lord and that means He gets to make the rules.  frankly, i’m a little surprised He’s been so patient with me.  i mean, He is known for His enduring patience, but i’ve been really dense and blatantly disobedient to His nudging for awhile now.  i’m a little surprised my tv didn’t just die sometime over the last year or mysteriously stop working or burst into flames…  i think the results of my disobedience have been a little more personal, but that’s a blog for another day.

if you’ll indulge me, i’ll keep you posted as to how it’s going.  i’ll let you know what effect tv has on me by blogging about what the reverse is doing for me.  future posts will not be this long.  and they will have pictures.  promise.

note: please do not take this as a judgement on you if you watch tv.  this is a personal conviction.  we are each answerable to God for what He directs each of us to do.  it is not our place to assume the role of the Holy Spirit in the lives of others.