Friday, May 31, 2013

Crazy Days of May

WOW. I cannot believe May is at it's end. It seems like just yesterday the month began and I was wrapping up my regular meetings and Bible studies with student athletes on campus. But, here we are, approaching June.

May was a month of many blessings. It hit me what an incredible treat it is to live in a small state, able to travel to so many (new for us) places with ease. Growing up in Florida spoiled me in many ways. I've seen more sunsets than I can count, swam many a times in both the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean, and have owned an annual pass to Disney World. Some, if not all, of those things many people will never experience. But now, living in New Jersey, I am overwhelmed with gratefulness to have such quick and easy access to so many new adventures! 

For instance, in early May, we headed to Philadelphia (a mere 65 miles from our New Jersey home) as staff team to end out the semester. It was a new experience for both Tyler and I... as we had never been to Philly. During our day there, we devoured cheesesteaks and broadened our understanding of our country's history. And let me say, we will be back. On my "Living in New Jersey Bucket List" is to attend an Eagles home game!

Later in the month, my Mom visited! She had never been to New Jersey and was excited to see our new home. We gave her a well rounded tour of the surrounding areas and spent one day in New York City! She absolutely loved Princeton, and I don't blame her. In about 45 minutes, we can be in downtown Princeton-- a quaint, historic town with so much character! We also were able to visit some family history while she was here. One of our ancestors fought at a battleground here in New Jersey during the Revolution! So cool to see and experience some deep family history.


To end the month, Tyler and I hit New York City for a Walking Cupcake Tour we found on Groupon. An easy (yet exhausting) day trip. We hopped on the train and were soon walking the city enjoying sweet deliciousness. We sampled several desserts and walked new-to-us streets in New York. After the Cupcake Tour, we spent some time sightseeing -- the Empire State Building, the "Friends" apartment building, the apartment stoop used as Carrie Bradshaw's in Sex and the City, and the New York Public Library. Needless to say, it was a day of much variety!

While I was counting on May to be a time of extended rest and rejuvenation before our hectic summer of work and travels, I am glad to have gained a true appreciation for our current home and taken advantage of what our diverse country has to offer!

What do you appreciate about where you live? Get out and enjoy it!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

This Is How We Do It

Life change. It's inspiring, contagious, and exciting! Depending on your generation and music taste, Montell Jordan may or may not be a familiar name to you.

Regardless, Montell Jordan has experienced a positive life change. And even if you're not familiar with who he is, I think you'll appreciate this. 

Here, in short, is his story. I find it super encouraging, and hope you do too! Love the redemption!! 

Here's how we came to know Montell Jordan.

And here's how he got....



"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." 
- 2 Corinthians 5:17

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Nobody Wants a Wasted Summer

For many, summer is a time of relaxation, family vacations, and days spent in the sunshine! And by God's grace, we are blessed with this warm, sunny season every year. This summer, I want to invite you to more than the status quo -- a summer with more than laughter and tan lines. Now, I know what you're thinking, "if I end my summer with a glowing tan and a ton of fun Instagram pics, I'd call that a good one!" And I wouldn't necessarily argue with you. But what if there's MORE? What if you could have a great summer?

This year, my summer will involve lots of travel. I will spend extended periods of time in a total of 4 states, all while living out of a suitcase. If you know me, you'll know this has been stressful from the time it was even just an idea, let alone an actual plan. But, I am trusting God to give me the grace, patience, and strength that I need to persevere! Throughout this time of traveling, I will experience God in a couple different contexts -- first on an Athletes in Action summer opportunity (Urban Project Los Angeles). I'm eager to love on students and folks in the LA community, grow in my faith, and learn more about who God is. I'll also have the opportunity to experience a time of refreshment, learning, and growth at Cru's National Staff Conference. In conjunction with planned events, Tyler and I will have a chance to catch up with friends and family! All in all, I'm looking forward to what lies ahead.

If at the end of my travels, I've made it through all I've listed above, I would say it was a good summer. A success. But I long for much deeper. A summer of intentionality. I invite you to join me! Ok, so practically speaking...

Make a plan for your Spiritual growth. I recently heard wisdom shared comparing our Spiritual lives to our "athletic" lives. When you desire to gain muscle or lose weight, do you just wish for it to happen? No! You make wiser food choices and get into a workout routine (or at least you should, because wishing to get in shape while actively doing nothing about it will get you no where, sorry). Same goes for our Spiritual life. We can't just wish we could grow more mature in our faith -- we must workout our Spiritual muscles! How? Read your Bible. Start a Bible study or devotional, even just something on your own [I'd highly recommend Shannon Ethridge's Completely His series or Beth Moore's Breaking Free]. Get connected & spend quality time with other Christians (church, Bible study groups, etc.).  Saturate your mind with things of God. Spend time in prayer -- both speaking and listening. Check out a sermon series online. How will this look for me this summer? Well, aside from whatever curriculum will be provided for me at Urban Project and at Staff Conference, I am looking at going through Kay Arthur's Lord, I Want to Know You to deepen my understanding of who God is. I also plan to continue  my Bible in a year reading plan, praying for miracles, and trusting God in my daily life. How will it look for you?

Pick up a good book! Summer is a great time to read. I know I find myself with more free time in the summer months -- or at least in more "prime reading" situations (travel, beach, pool). Although I read regularly as a part of my job, summer reading allows freedom and a time for more light reading. Some I've recently read and would recommend are (although, not all are fun and light reads):

As (an early) birthday gift, my Mom gave me a Nook HD+ which I am stoked about, especially doing so much traveling this summer. I've been browsing the "under $2.99" ebooks and came across one I just began reading, so I don't know that I can recommend it, but as of now I'm enjoying it -- How to Eat a Cupcake by Meg Donohue. I also plan to grab a couple paperbacks from my bookshelf that have been collecting dust, waiting to be read, to accompany my journey this summer.

Intentionally catch up with friends. With more time, spend some of it with the people you love! Browse LivingSocial or Groupon for fun, discounted events to embark on with local friends. Plan Skype dates with family and friends across the country or overseas. Download the SnapChat app and stay connected through silly photos, across the miles. Or send a card or package to someone, just because you've been thinking about them! You won't regret investing time into your relationships! I know I'm eager to see friends and family this summer, and looking forward to making memories with them!

Don't waste your summer. Bottom line, I do hope you choose to join me in seeking to have a great summer, one full of purposeful plans to grow in your walk with Christ! 

"But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen." - 2 Peter 3:18

Monday, May 27, 2013

Do I Have to Say Thank You?

Many of us often seek to...... Do the right thing. Give to one in need. Go above and beyond the expected. Or do we seek to simply be caught doing so? Do we so badly want to be seen for our good acts that we lose sight of the pure motivation?

We live in a culture that places high value on being recognized, appreciated, and thanked. Now don't get me wrong, I am all about showing gratitude and appreciation. But I'm afraid there is too much emphasis on that and not enough on simply doing good.

I have experienced this personally-- been accused of not appreciating one and all they've done for me enough. Now, this could be true. And I need to search my own heart for the sins of pride and entitlement. But the same could be said for the one accusing me. Could they be experiencing such entitlement for serving and loving me that they feel I now owe them something? Because then it isn't service and love at all....

It seems as though people do not want to offer to help, give, or do unless there is something in return for them. Is this true of you? When you help somebody out and they don't thank you [in the way you believe would be best], how does that make you feel? I know I find myself wrestling with this at times. It takes supernatural power for me to serve, wholeheartedly, without hoping for or expecting anything in return -- even within my own marriage! But I know when I don't get anything in return (or what I'd hoped to get in return) I do gain God. I learn more about who God is when He alone sees and rewards my deeds. And it's in those moments that God reminds me that we don't deserve a thank you (our pride just tells us we do).

Being under appreciated can either tempt me to complain and expect, or push me towards gratitude and godliness. I would much prefer, in the long run, gratitude and godliness! How about you?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Heartbreaking Changes

Recently, my husband and I were having a conversation about friendships and how they change. We decided, we don't like it.

We do not like that friendships come and go, and with time and distance undergo changes. Both of us highly value friendships. And since moving to New Jersey, we have experienced a change in the tides of ours. We are obviously much farther away from many of our close friends, which means, we are not spending time with them near as much as we did when we lived in Florida. Often, we find ourselves busy and caught up in what is going on in our day to day lives, that we don't reach out to connect with friends.... or we find ourselves waiting to hear back from a friend we left a message for. Either way, we rarely catch someone at a good time, which can be discouraging (and TOTALLY understandable!!!). There is just this natural change that occurs when a friendship is not nurtured by both parties, and I think we have seen it's magnified with distance.

We have also experienced loss of friendship recently. This has caused my heart to really grieve the loss of someone who knew me deeply. I can't stand to be at odds with others, especially those whom I once considered close friends. It's taxing. And I don't think it's how God intended for relationships to be! But again, another unfortunate change that occurs.

And we have both (separately) come face to face with the saddening reality of being more invested in a friendship than the other person. Or even to have misinterpreted a friendship relationship. It is truly heartbreaking to realize someone you deeply cherish doesn't value you or your friendship the same way. And awkward, I mean, really. What do you say? "I like you more than you like me"? We're not kindergartners. But we are humans. And it hurts to discover you're not appreciated, loved, or valued in the same way.

Is there a solution to these changes? Can't we all just be friends?

Unfortunately, no. I know I only have so much emotional energy and it's impossible for me to maintain every friendship I have ever had. But oh how I wish it weren't so. I long for deep conversation, quality time spent, and vulnerability that can only come with time. And I suppose I'm stuck to figure out these changes until heaven, where I trust friendships will be perfect.

"My heart throbs; my strength fails me, and the light of my eyes--it also has gone from me. My friends and companions stand aloof from my plague, and my nearest kin stand far off." - Psalm 38:10-11