An Epiphany About Sweatpants & Comfort

I realized something the other day: I love sweatpants. In fact… I wish I could wear a onesie. Like my boy.

IMG_6877
Like his mom, he wears comfy everywhere.

I love being comfy. The second I get home and realize I have no where to go after dinner, I dive into my PJ’s. I love the feeling of wearing nice, soft clothing, putting slippers on my feet and walking around with a blanket. I sound like a toddler… But you guys, I love this. And I’ve realized how odd it is, because a lot of people stay in their work clothes for a while or at least wait til after 5 PM to get “scrubby”. But I’m pretty quick. I want my yoga pants. My soft shirt. My fuzzy socks. I’ll choose pajama party over cocktail party any day.

And then I had a little epiphany: what about all those people who don’t have the luxury of cozy? What about the man that lives under the bridge, only about 100 ft from my apartment… what about him? Does he have the option to ‘get warm & snuggly’ outside in the freezing weather?

What about all the others in the world with no home? no family? What about the millions of women involved in sex trade… where are their ‘homes’? What about those who live in an unsafe home… do they get the luxury of comfort? What about the immigrants who have to work from before sunrise to late at night in order to make ends meet… do they get to relax? What about all the refugees who’ve had to flee their homes in Syria (& all the other countries in the world)? What about them? Who will care for them and their children? The CHILDREN. As I tuck my own boy in at night and pray over him, I can’t help but think of all the CHILDREN who are displaced. afraid. in poverty. and have no one to care & pray over them.

There are millions… tens of millions… who do not get the luxury of comfort.

I sat there feeling two things: sad & privileged. There is a great imbalance in our world and it’s not difficult to see that things aren’t right.

As I sit here feeling desperate for change and eager for a solution, I remembered this verse:

From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.
-Luke 12:48

Now that I have become aware of my privilege, what will I choose to do with it? God promised that there would be abundance in this world, but He did not promise that it would be distributed evenly. And so He says, “to whom much has been given, much will be demanded.

Right before this verse, Jesus also talks about our knowledge… what we know & what we don’t know. When we DO know the truth, we are expected to act accordingly. What will I do with this truth? How will I choose to respond to injustice? How can I use my privilege?

It is still something I wrestle with every time I go to pray for the world’s injustices. What I am grateful for is that when Jesus says “Abide in me”, the word abide means “to make your home in”. There is promise, even for those who don’t have an actual home… because Jesus says our home is in Him.

I know that I can’t end world hunger… but I can choose to feed someone who’s hungry. And hopefully teach my kid to do the same. As Mother Teresa said, “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.”

I’ll leave you with a Katie Davis quote, author of “Kisses from Katie”:

“I have learned that I will not change the world. Jesus will do that. I can, however, change the world for one person. So I keep stopping and loving one person at a time. Because this is my call as a Christian.”
-Katie Davis

 

Advertisements

Sitting in the Sadness: What I’m learning about Suffering

I know what you’re thinking: kind of a weird topic to write about the day before Thanksgiving. But I was reminded today about the Thanksgiving I had 4 years ago: me & my parents spent the entire day in the hospital. My mom was nearing the end of a long & tedious battle against a terminal illness. And I remember thinking: “I can’t muster up any gratitude today… this is just too painful.”

I didn’t think that I could actually choose gratitude & joy amidst the loss & turmoil we had been through that year. And I’m sure many others may feel that way today.

Let’s be real for a second: the last three weeks have been hard. Both personal and global strife has caused my heart to ache. I’ve felt emotionally & physically exhausted… and I’ve found myself continually asking God one question: “Why?

Why, oh why, does He let his beloved children suffer? From the deadly attacks in Paris to the millions displaced in Syria to the individual loss that each person endures on the daily… I do not know where His sovereign hand is.

And when you look at the world, suffering happens every. single. day.

The last four years have been a roller-coaster ride and there’s much to say on this topic. For now, I’ll take a de-tour from the ‘personal’ and simply write about suffering as I believe it relates to each one of us. Here’s what I’ve been thinking about-

4 Lessons I’ve Learned:

  1. Our need for “quick fixes” & “how-to’s” makes it really hard for us to tolerate suffering.
    I remember the first time I saw a therapist after my mom passed away. I distinctly remember asking her, “Could you give me a to-do list to complete so that I can grieve and just be done with the pain?” I’m pretty sure she laughed.
    Suffering should never come as a surprise, yet it always seems to completely delineate & traumatize us. We want the path of least resistance. We want the easiest, most pain-free journey possible… and there’s only one problem with that: suffering is inevitable. And when it comes? We want it fixed and we want it fixed now. We are afraid of sitting in the pain… Yet that’s the only place where real transformation happens. That’s the only place where we can access our emotions and begin to heal… quick-fixes don’t work here.
  2. Seeking distractions & numbing the pain usually doesn’t promote healing.
    Just to make a disclaimer: I don’t believe that it’s always wrong to numb pain by watching a show or doing something to stop thinking about it. A friend recently reminded me that it’s absolutely ok to give your mind a rest… distractions can be helpful.
    But at some point, we need to confront what we feel. This may be the hardest part of suffering (or maybe that’s just me), but allowing my soul to be still & quiet is unnerving. I’m restless. And prone to numbing. I want to keep myself busy, preoccupied & constantly in the presence of others… there have been nights where I’ve needed the TV on to fall asleep.
    In Brene Brown’s book, “The Gifts of Imperfection“, she talks about how you cannot selectively numb emotions. We cannot say, “I choose to not feel pain, but I will allow myself to feel the happy stuff.” That’s not how it works. If you numb the bad emotions, you numb the good ones right along with it. So consequently, allowing yourself to sit and work through the pain (without seeking distraction) builds your capacity for love and compassion. It’s amazing isn’t it?
  3. Suffering allows us to more fully experience joy & celebrate life’s treasures.
    Let’s take Jesus for example: Could Jesus have resurrected without dying? In order to experience the glory of his resurrection, we had to endure the pain & brutality of His death. Enduring the hard times is what makes the good times so so good.
  4. Our character is built when we suffer.
    We grow in humility. We grow in patience. We grow in gratitude. Our compassion for others becomes so much greater. We are filled kindness and grace.
    Suffering is vital for our character growth. And God is way more concerned with our character than with our circumstances.

And now to address my final question:

How can I suffer well?

Suffering looks different for everyone (of course). But I’ve noticed Christians always talk about “suffering well”… Which I believe refers to our suffering being used for our betterment & not for our detriment. How can I suffer in a way that builds me up rather than tears me down?

In churches, we sometimes hear advice that sounds like this:
Lean on God!
Trust the Lord!
Just pray!

Huh?? What does any of that even mean??

I have 5 points that I think can indeed help people suffer well, but before I get to them, I want to mention something I learned from a book I’ve been reading.

I recently picked up “Joy in the Journey” by Steve & Sharol Hayner. This book is a collection of their journal entries during the 9 month period where Steve battled terminal pancreatic cancer. And I must say that I am floored. I am in awe. Up until reading this, I am not sure I truly believed that you can actually have joy & peace in the face of death. Not just plain old hardship… but death. I did not know that while sitting in intense pain, you could still experience supernatural rest in God’s presence. Yeah, okay, I know that in scripture Paul talks about God’s sustaining peace & joy while he’s being beaten & locked up in jail. And Jesus himself offers praise & adoration to God while being persecuted by everyone. But those are bible people… super heroes… or so I thought.

I now know that even amidst intense trial, joy & peace are absolutely possible with Jesus. There’s space to grieve & be sad, of course… but we must never underestimate God’s power as our ultimate hope and comforter. He truly is all we need.

Here are the things I’ve found that help me endure trials & draw near to Him (aka “suffer well”):

  1. Praying
    Which is, honestly, one of the toughest things for me to do. It’s so much easier to talk to visible people. People that will readily speak back and give me a real-life hug. But praying is vital. It is our life-line. It is our primary means of communicating with God and ultimately, allows us to better see & hear Him.
  2. Reading Scripture
    My heart remedy. This one’s easy for me because I’m a reader. I love words & stories. What better words to imprint on your soul than ones from the Big Guy, himself? Jesus’ stories remind me to keep an eternal perspective… that I am not alone in my suffering and that it can indeed be purposeful.
  3. Seeking Community
    Because this is where community really comes into practice: walking with one another in our pain & suffering. God guarantees an abundance of joy in this world, but it’s never distributed evenly; we are called to be vessels of joy & comfort for one another. Of all the times in my life where I’ve desperately needed to be picked up, I have had incredible friends & family, whose prayers, encouragement & wisdom have carried me through difficult times. I often wonder, “where would I be if I didn’t have people that sat with me, loved me & prayed for me during that time?” Money can’t hug us. Clothes can’t love us. And characters from TV shows we love (i.e. Jim & Pam!)  won’t actually be there for us. We need to start putting time & energy into the stuff that matters: real-life community.
  4. Practicing Gratitude
    Because we CAN choose gratitude, even in the worst of times.
    “All life on planet earth is terminal, and while we can certainly contribute to our own well-being in amazing ways, none of us is ultimately in control. One day, my life will be swallowed up by Life. And for today, I am choosing truth, joy and love wherever and however I can. I am resolute in my desire to learn, to fulfill my calling and to engage each day with as much joy as I am graciously given.” -Steve Hayner

Today, I choose gratitude. I am grateful for this abundant, full life that I’ve been given. I am grateful for a God who offers me rest & freedom, even amidst circumstantial chaos. I am grateful for friends. for coffee. for Harry Potter. And for my little family ❤ There is much to be grateful for.

IMG_6709

The Thing About Money (& Jesus)

Money has become a super hot topic in my circles recently. I’ve wanted to write about it for a while now, but my indirect Persian upbringing makes me get all squirmy… Money is a tough topic to bring to the table.

And because I prefer bullet points and lists (& have a huge exam to study for), I’ll keep things short & sweet… and in list format of course 🙂

  • Money has an incredible power over us.
    It affects the way we think, the way we view things, the way we view people.  It changes our emotions, it impacts the social circles we’re a part of… Without calling money good or bad, there is no denying that it is certainly powerful.
  • We don’t realize how much excess we live in.
    I’m so so guilty of this: calling things “necessary” when they’re just not. I remember a few years ago, I walked past a homeless man who had a little boy with him… I remember my thought process went something like this: “Do I have any cash to give them? Hmmm… I think I have a 20 dollar bill in my purse. But I’m getting a mani/pedi tomorrow with a friend and I need it. Oh man, what do I do? Eek… oh well, already walked past them”. And that’s it. I’m not saying to give out money to all the people you see on the street… I’m just saying to observe what’s going on internally. What I didn’t realize in that moment is that I chose paint on my toes… instead of food (a necessity) for that father and son. Consumerism tricks us. It tricks us into believing that material luxuries are necessities.
  • Christians have “selective hearing” when reading about money in the bible.
    I’ve seen this in bible studies before: people gliding over the verses about money… as if they’re not there. Hm… So let’s address everything surrounding the money part, but not the actual part where Jesus says: “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:24). I’m not saying it’s bad to have money… I’m just saying we are following a faith that was birthed from a savior who literally had no place to rest his head at night. A man who walked barefoot, had nothing and instructed us to leave everything and follow him.
  • Sometimes, we don’t think these verses apply to us.
    A lot of rich people don’t think they’re rich… well here’s something I’ve learned: If we’re not rich, then no one is. I didn’t think I was rich… and then I learned how little a majority of the world has… how 25,000 people die PER DAY for lack of food. I learned that if you make more than $30,000/year, you’re in the top 4% of wealth in the world. More than $50,000/year? Top 1%.
  • Children are the biggest temptation for hoarding wealth.
    Nothing has caused me to want to hoard my money more than having a kid. I want him to live in a nice house and have the best education, classes, books, toys, sports, you name it… I used to walk to the grocery store near my house… a route that requires passing by a couple homeless people. I used to converse with them, sometimes bring them food. But now that I have Josh? I drive. I always drive. And I see this pattern of “protecting” him play out in so many areas surrounding money. It concerns me.

IMG_6602
My child enjoying the luxuries of Disneyland (does he know what’s happening? No. Did I have to bring him out of “necessity”? Apparently.)

I certainly don’t know much. But I’ve learned enough over the past year that’s caused me to question the way I spend my money… the way the American church spends it’s money. I think it’s time we start taking a good hard look at the way we view money and the way we choose to spend it. And stop pretending like we’ve earned things, when the majority of us are born into privilege (whether it’s financial privilege, racial privilege or any other form of it).

I don’t have much else to say. I’ll leave you with a passage I read in Jen Hatmaker’s book “7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess“… there’s so much more to this passage, but I didn’t want to write out her whole novel:

“What would the early church think if they walked into some of our buildings today, looked through our church Web sites, talked to an average attender? Would they be so confused? Would they wonder why we all had empty bedrooms and uneaten food in our trash cans? Would they regard our hoarded wealth with shock? Would they observe orphan statistics with disbelief since Christians outnumber orphans 7 to 1? Would they be stunned most of us don’t feed the hungry, visit the prisoner, care for the sick or protect the widow? Would they see the spending on church buildings and ourselves as extravagantly wasteful while twenty-five thousand people die every day from starvation?
…I think the early church would cover their heads with ashes and grieve over the dilution of Jesus’ beautiful church vision. We’ve taken His Plan A for mercy to an injured lost planet and neutered it to clever sermon series and Stitch-and-Chat in the Fellowship Hall, serving the saved. If the modern church held to its biblical definition, we would become the answer to all that ails society… When the fast, the death, the sacrifice of the gospel is omitted from the Christian life, then it isn’t Christian at all.”

On Motherhood, Fasting & Waiting

It’s been a while since I’ve written a real post. You know… one that isn’t a list of things I’m “currently into”… As most of you know, I was working full-time at a skilled nursing facility all summer, while trying to mother a not-sleeping 18-month-old toddler who is also constantly testing his limits. It’s been exhausting and I haven’t had the mental capacity to write about anything real. But now I do 🙂 Let motherhood update commence.

IMG_6468
F
irst of all, can someone explain to me how my baby now looks like this? He’s a little man now! So handsome. My heart can’t take it.

On looking for work & mothering:

Well, I’m back to being at home full-time with my son. But this time I will be simultaneously studying for my board exam and looking for a job (which may as well be a full-time job in and of itself). I am realizing more and more how much I love being home with Josh and have decided that I don’t think I can work more than 30 hours a week (MAX). I love too many other things. I love being involved at church. I love reading. I love going to mommy groups and hanging out with my boy. I consider motherhood a ministry and one that I really don’t want to take lightly. So as great as it would be to make a full-time salary, I would really rather not.

So for the next month or two you’ll mostly find me running around with Josh, studying for my board exam and getting to know other mommies.

On Fasting:

Some of you know, many of you don’t: I will be fasting most forms of media until September. This includes Facebook, instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, TV & movies (if you see my blog link posted on FB, my husband did it for me). Obviously I’ve decided to keep blogging, as I find it’s more therapeutic for me than it is distracting and mind-numbing.

But why am I fasting media? Well… a lot of reasons. It started with this book I’m reading (“7: an experimental mutiny against excess”) and I’ve become obscenely aware of how much of the noise in my life distracts me from the things that really matter to me: my time with God. my time with my family. my time with my son. I’ve come to realize how superficial everything has become. How superficial I’ve become. And I don’t like that… I don’t like looking back at my day and realizing how much time I’ve spent mindlessly searching the internet, looking at YouTube videos and stalking everyone’s Facebook. I’m ready for a media detox. It’s only been 6 days and it’s been both harder and easier than I expected. Harder because I LOVEEEEEEE my shows. I just want to watch Mindy Kaling all day and laugh. Easier because I don’t miss social media that much… I may even delete my Facebook when the fasts over… but we’ll see.

On Waiting:

This is an interesting transition in my life. Waiting to work… waiting to make money… waiting for “our lives to resume” (or so that’s what it feels like). I am eager to just move forward and get everything in place, but at the same time, I love where we are right now. And I am constantly learning to stay mindful of the present. Life almost always feels like it’s in a transition phase. For once, I’m going to embrace now.

A few tid-bits you need to know:

  • I started “Something Borrowed” (the book that was on my Fall reading list) and instantly quit. I got to page 30 and couldn’t really handle all the adultery (sorry for ruining the book for you, but that’s the whole premise and it starts within the first 3 pages). I’m okay with putting down a book if I know I won’t like AND it will make me crazy. Just thought I would let you all know.
  • Speaking of books, “7: an experimental mutiny against excess” is messing me up. In such good way. Go read it.
  • Disneyland won major points yesterday. My son had a huge accident in his diaper that went all over his onesie and bottoms (something that actually hasn’t happened since he was less than a year old). One of the ladies who was working at the baby center gave us a slip that let us buy $40 worth of baby pajamas at the Disneystore. WHATTTTTTTTT? Major points, Disney.
  • I finished my “capsule wardrobe” timeline (3 months) and loved it. I’m probably going to keep going (although I threw some of my old clothes back in the closet). I did say I was going to write a post on how it went. Hopefully I’ll get to that soon. Just know, I really liked it.

That’s all for now! Guess that turned into another “list” type post… oh well 🙂 off to mommying! Here’s another snapshot of Josh, just because 🙂

IMG_6398

On Graduation & Overcoming My Fears

Finally! The day I’ve been waiting for. The moment I never thought could actually happen… This past Friday, I stepped on stage in my cap & gown and acquired my master’s degree in occupational therapy.

FotorCreated

What a long & trying journey it has been to get here.

Although many know the shear fact that I got pregnant during my first year of graduate school and had to take time off, most do not know that, at one point in time, I had actually decided I would not finish graduate school… that after my summer internship in 2013, I felt it was more pressure than I could bear and that it would be best for me to take a different route with my life. The time, energy & emotional exhaustion it would take to acquire my degree WHILE having a baby and paying endless tuition was simply not practical. How was I to finish grad school with a baby at home… no extended family around… and living off of one income? It felt improbable that I would finish and unlikely that I could even go back… So I decided I was done.

Luckily, I had (& have) very honest people in my life. People that listened and understood, but also pointed out my fears & questioned my motivations. They gave me personal insight and wisdom on how this might feel in retrospect. They encouraged me to go after my degree if it is what I want and to not throw in the towel simply because my timeline got shaken… No one has to give up a vocational calling simply because motherhood came sooner than anticipated.

Looking back now, I can confidently say that circumstantial obstacles were not reason enough to give up on my calling. We are not supposed to look at every road block and merely say, “I guess God has a different plan for me.” Obstacles are meant to be endured and overcome. And although I viewed my obstacles, initially, as signs to stop, I’m so grateful I had people in my life to advise me otherwise.

And as a side note, I certainly do not condemn any one who decides to stop pursuing a dream. In fact, I believe that in some cases, it takes a lot more courage to stop than to keep going.

In my case, however, the day I decided I to finish graduate school was the day I named my longing and went after it. I said “YES” to finishing what I had already started, despite wanting to quit… I am overwhelmed with joy when I realize that I actually did it.

Graduating, walking in my cap & gown and FINALLY getting my master’s (my dream since I was 18) felt like a huge accomplishment. Despite getting married, pregnant and having a baby during my program, I cannot believe I am finally finished.

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU to my incredible family, friends, mentors & all others who helped me get here and walked on this precious journey with me. I could not have done it with out your support.

Confessions of a mom: Feeling the Gap

When people ask me what I like to do for fun, a million responses come to mind:

I love to travel (anywhere & everywhere). I always crave a quality girls night, obviously involving chocolate, fancy cheese & wine. I like yoga and dance, reading and writing. Anything that involves socializing and getting real, quality time with people I love may be at the top of my list.

But when I think about the past year or so, here’s a more accurate depiction of how I’ve spent my time:

Photo on 4-23-15 at 12.07 PM #7

Photo on 8-6-14 at 2.42 PM #2  Photo on 5-15-14 at 4.14 PM Photo on 7-22-14 at 1.36 PM #4

Yes, that’s me and the babes 🙂

Becoming a mom obviously changes your life in every imaginable way. But there was one transition I did not prepare well for: the gap in my social life.

Although I have been a mom for a little over a year now, I have just recently come to the realization that there is a predominant struggle in my social life: my expectations are not aligning with reality (you know… like that scene from ‘500 Days of Summer’).

9a74ce40c4659da18ad0798e79152807

The changes that were to ensue in my friendships (post-motherhood) were unavoidable, yet they strongly affected me, in a way that I did not see coming.

I crave to be with people, yet my mental and physical fuel is empty. If a moment comes where I actually have the stamina for going out, there’s a good chance I am unavailable, either with my head buried in the textbooks or with my hands covered in sand from running around with the little one. I’m often in need of a date night, but time, energy & childcare is not always at my beck and call.

How was I to know that, despite having a full schedule, I could feel so isolated? How could I have foreseen that becoming a mom would change my relationships with people, not just in closeness, but in depth and quality time spent together? It surprised me to see my happy-go-lucky, extraverted self become unendingly tired and turning down countless social events for the sheer fact that I need some serious R & R… with me, myself & I.

After reaching out to girlfriends, mentors & fellow moms, I’ve come to realize that there are seasons of loneliness accompanied by motherhood. No mom is alone in the struggle. And although becoming a mom is one of the best things I’ll ever do with my life, it is also exceedingly life-changing.

Social life inevitably changes. And I am slowly allowing my expectations to align with reality: It is not that I need to be less of a friend or that I cannot love as much… I simply need to love differently. I need to find more creative and intentional ways of getting quality time or showing someone I care. And for my own sanity, I need to realize that it’s okay to not be at everything and keep up with everyone.

I am grateful for supportive & loving friends that can walk through this transition with me!

What changes have you encountered in the social world since parenthood?

On Change & Redemption

Since Easter just happened, I think I will write on the topic that’s most significant and purposeful regarding this holiday: Redemption.

If you had told me two years ago that my life would look like this today, I would have said you were crazy.

IMG_4753

These pictures were taken exactly two years apart: Easter 2013 & Easter 2015. And although Nick and I have two beaming smiles on our faces on the left, we were actually engulfed in a mess of pain, exhaustion, and brokenness. And little did we know that only a few weeks after this picture was taken, we would become pregnant with a little baby boy.

If you had asked me, at the time, where I thought I would be in two years, I would have never guessed that our family of 2 would actually become a family of 3. I could not have imagined that, in light of such a change, we would actually feel more joy and freedom… guess God really does know infinitely more than I do.

The first year of our marriage was spent figuring things out (to say the least). I would ask myself: Will we ever figure out how to communicate well? Will we each have the time and capacity to work through our personal baggage? Who knew each of us had so much baggage? Is this what the rest of our lives will look like?

Sometimes I wonder how I’m capable of writing about our marriage in the “early stage” as if it were ten years ago. How is it that we are only two years out from that time? Well…. the most definitive and concise answer I can think of is this: God’s redemption.

What’s changed since year one?

I used to say: “I deserve more than this!” (old, selfish me)
Now I say: “I have been given beyond what I deserve.”

I used to say: “God, how can you allow us to conceive a child at this time?!”
Now I say: “God, thank you for blessing us with a child!”

I used to say: “Doesn’t God want me to happy??”
Now I say: “God wants me to be whole.”

I used to say: “Excuse me, hubby… What’s in it for me?”
Now I say: “Hey hubby… How can I serve you?”

I used to say: “I know what’s best for me.”
Now I say: “God knows what’s best for me.”

I used to think it was absolutely bananas that God would allow us to have a child during such a rough time… and then I remembered that one time, long ago in history, God sent a baby to save the world. (That was Jesus, by the way 🙂 )

God is in the business of redemption. He cares about restoration and knows exactly what I need in order to be made whole. Although it seemed ill fitting to me (& to most people) for us to have a baby, it ended up being God’s biggest tool in healing my soul, my marriage and to my relationship with Him.

What I know now: Nothing is past redemption. Nothing it outside the reach of God’s healing hand. This is what I choose to remember on Easter and through the resurrection of Jesus.

My 100 Day Project

#The100DayProject is an awesome challenge that several of my friends are doing right now and I decided to join in on the fun 🙂

This project encourages everyone to participate in 100 days of making. It’s about finding or choosing something that you’re passionate about and showing up day after day for 100 days. It’s ideally about doing something that stirs passion in your soul, brings joy and is realistic.

Many have chosen something artistic and truly creative such as drawing a picture a day, taking a photo of something beautiful, writing a short memoir each day etc. (you can read more about it at http://thegreatdiscontent.com/100days)

I have chosen 100 days of prayer.

FullSizeRender-12

You  may be wondering why I have chosen this, as it is not necessarily creative, nor does it involve “making”. However, after thinking it through, I felt extremely excited about starting #100daysofprayer. Here’s why:

  • It gets me praying.
    Prayer is incredibly important to me as a Christian, yet it’s something I do very little of (I must sheepishly admit). But this has given me some direction and discipline in my prayer life and keeps me showing up everyday.
  • It gets others praying.
    I hope that others will join me in praying for whatever it is I’ve put up on the chalkboard each day… God hears us when we pray. Every. Single. Time.
  • It taps into my passion for social justice.
    am committing to something that’s a passion of mine.
  • It allows God to heal & bring rest to my pained & burdened heart.
    For those of you that know me, you know how weary and achy and burdened I feel by all that’s going on in the world. The shooting at Garissa University in Kenya… the pilot that took down GermanWings flight into the Alps… all the racial injustice right here in our very own backyard. I know that the more we pray for these things and intercede on others’ behalf with God, the more he lifts these burdens off of our hearts. He enters into our pain.
  • It’s a way to serve from afar.
    There isn’t much I can do right now about the world’s injustices (given the fact that I am a wife, mother and graduate student). But I can certainly pray. And prayer is powerful.

Morning Routines

I haven’t always considered myself a morning person, necessarily… but when you become a parent, you’re sort of forced into it. And for that, I am incredibly thankful.

2014-10-17.finding-our-brave
Photo Courtesy mops.org

Sometimes, waking up early feels terrible. But almost every single time, I look back and am so grateful that I had the morning. Mornings are rejuvenating for my soul. And when I get things bright and early, then nothing else can interfere with it later. I’m able to get in quality prayer time. Quality workout time. And I always feel refreshed afterwards.

The more and more I read up about leadership, habit and self-care, the more I see the importance of a morning routine…. I don’t know if this is true for everyone, but I certainly feel sharper at 7 am than at 7 pm (maybe that’s a mom thing).

It took me a while to figure out what’s most important for me to fit in in the AM. Here are some habits that create a perfect start to my day :

1. Yoga
In case you were wondering, I am still doing the 30-day Yoga Challenge with Erin Motz (& it’s spectacular). Everyday she works on something different (chest & shoulders, back and gluts, legs, etc.) I LOVE that I can do it in my living room with josh chillin’ in the pack ‘n play. Some people may prefer running or other forms of working out… find what motivates you.

yoga

2. Read, Pray, Journal
I snuggle up on my couch with a bible, my journal and a warm cup of coffee. It’s important for me to read my bible at the start of my day, rather than the end because that sets the tone for my day.

coffee-and-writing

3. Breakfast
Brain food! I used to hate eating breakfast (I have zero appetite in the morning), but by the time I’m done with yoga I have both desire and TIME for food. I generally grab some cereal or oatmeal and of course coffee, coffee, coffee.

4. Go on a walk
This one is especially great if you live by a beach or a park or anywhere green… I absolutely love walking along the ocean and admiring God’s creation. I’m not close enough where I could do this a ton, but with Venice and Santa Monica so close, I certainly want to make more a habit out of this. And if I lived closer to Disneyland, I kid you not, that is where I would go on walks.

My Word for 2015: Courage

This year, my friends and I decided that, instead of resolutions, we would each pick one word that we want our year to be defined by. The simplicity of one word, we hope, will be more effective than a resolution… to be remembered and exuded in everything we do.

For 2015, my word is courage.

IMG_6360

I know we’re a few months into the new year, but I finally began making my collage today (what you see above) that I will put up on my bedroom wall to remind myself to be courageous. It will also remind me of the things I desire for this year… things as little as reading, journaling, yoga, coffee & bubble baths… things as big as being vulnerable, loving my husband sacrificially, parenting my son whole-heartedly, and leading where I feel called to lead.

More than anything, I realized it’s going to take courage to become the person God’s created me to be.

  • I want the courage to be creativetry things that I’ve never done before.
  • I want the courage to be me in every situation without fear of what others might think.
  • I want the courage to initiate reconciliation & conflict resolution (I’m terrible at this).
  • I want the courage to parent my son whole-heartedly without concern of how others might do it.
  • I want the courage to ask for what I want & to stop apologizing for things I don’t need to be sorry for.
  • I want the courage to make time for myself and pursue hobbies I love.
  • I want the courage to share my faith with anyone & everyone I interact with.
  • I want the courage to speak up against injustice & allow my voice to be heard.
  • I want the courage to lead where I feel called to lead.
  • I want the courage to be firm in my decision-making, without looking back.
  • I want the courage to forgive whenever I feel wronged.
  • I want the courage to obey God’s voice when I hear it.

What word do you want to define your year by?