September 2018 What’s Up Wednesday

What's Up Wednesday

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Today I’m joining the What’s Up Wednesday Link-Up!

What I’m Eating This Week

I’m not cooking this week! Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday nights I have youth group events that include dinner and Thursday is a work event. The only meal I “cooked” was frozen enchiladas on Monday in the microwave.

What I’m Reminiscing About

Nothing specific, but I feel like time is just flying by. There was one particular insurance renewal we got at work this week that I could have sworn we did two months ago, not a year ago.

What I’m Dreading

We are in the middle of dealing with a pest control situation.

What I’m Working On

See previous question.

What I’m Excited About

Grey’s Anatomy returns tomorrow!!!!

What I’m Watching/Reading

I’m reading Possession by A. S. Byatt and Till We Have Faces by C. S. Lewis as recommended by the Fountains of Carrots podcast. Faces is a page turner (I’m almost done) but the jury is still out on Possession.

What I’m Listing To

Lauren Daigle’s new album Look Up Child is fantastic. I enjoy every song, which isn’t the case with most albums I listen to. I think my favorites are “Rescue” and “Look Up Child,” but it’s hard to choose.

What I’m Wearing

Summer clothes cause it’s still 80-90 degrees in Fresno.

What I’m Doing This Weekend

Cleaning the house and dealing with our unwanted visitors of the insect variety.

What I’m Looking Forward to This Month

FALL!! Check out How We … Fall to see what I’ll be up to!

What Else is New?

I’m back with the youth group after a semester break and I am loving it!

Bonus – My Favorite Pumpkin Thing to Eat/Drink

Pumpkin bread! My family got the best recipe from our neighbor Betty. I have a bunch of pumpkin puree in the freezer, so I should get baking!

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How We … Fall

How We: Wednesdays

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I’m linking up with Erika and Shay for How We … Wednesdays and sharing my four favorite Fall traditions!

Clovis Hot Air Balloons

While I haven’t yet had the chance to go for a hot air balloon ride, seeing them launch sure is fun. One Saturday each fall, we get up before the crack of dawn and head to the Clovis Rodeo grounds for the Hot Air Balloon Fun Fly! Bright flames shoot into the dim early morning sky before the balloons begin slowly inflating to their larger than life size. This event marks the beginning of another year in Fresno for me and I always run into many familiar faces.

Big Fresno Fair

I try to hit up the Fair each year with my roomies on the canned food drive night for free admission. Corn dogs, curly fries, and cinnamon rolls make for a great fair dinner!

Halloween

Costumes and candy – what’s not to love? Pictured above are my brother and me at a college party and me as a Ceiling Fan. I continued the pun theme last year and went as a Social Butterfly (I wore the Facebook logo on a blue dress and wings). Unfortunately I didn’t get a picture but I want to keep up the pattern, so leave your punny costume ideas in the comments!

Come and Dine

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It’s back!!! Come and Dine is a fabulous community lunch my neighborhood puts on in our local park. Table hosts prepare a meal for 10 and we all enjoy good food and beautiful weather with old friends and new. Come and Dine is returning after a two year hiatus and I can’t wait!

5 Podcasts You Should Be Listening To

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Hey all! Over the last year, I have gotten into podcasts big time. I listen on my way to and from work and while doing chores around the house. Here are 5 of my favorites that you should check out.

 

Women’s Work

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Each week Tsh Oxenreider interviews a woman in a different field about her career. There is really something for everyone – law, the arts, non-profits, and more. It is fascinating and inspiring to hear how each woman found her niche with work she loves.

 

For the Love!

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Jen Hatmaker fills this podcast with all the things we love from food to exploring our faith. Jen has deep, meaningful, and fun-filled conversations with each of her guests. Every episode adds a few things to my reading list and helps me engage with tough conversations in today’s world.

 

Fountains of Carrots

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I’m not quite sure how I first discovered Haley Stewart’s blog Carrots for Michaelmas but I was quickly drawn in by her takes on food, books, and the liturgical year. This podcast with Haley and Christy Isinger is more of the same and then some. A couple of my favorite episodes are #3 TV Shows About Dresses and #89, the most recent episode. The ladies interviewed Dr. Stephani Richards-Wilson about Willi Graf who was part of the resistance movement in Nazi Germany.

 

Reading in Church & Other Distractions

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Drs. Robert Wallace and Michael McKeever are reading through the Revised Common Lectionary in this podcast. Each week generally contains four readings – Old Testament, Psalms, New Testament, and Gospel. These professors from my alma mater share their thoughts and reflections on each week’s scriptures. Listening to this show reminds me of why I loved their classes so much, but with the perk of not having to write a paper.

 

Shmanners

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This is such a fun podcast! Travis and Teresa McElroy host this hilarious exploration of manners, etiquette, and culture.  They cover travel, hosting and being a guest, illnesses, sporting events, holidays, biographies, and more. If you have ever wondered how to behave in a certain situation, there is probably an episode of Shmanners to help you out. (Disclaimer: don’t eat or drink while listening to this show. Travis’ commentary may make you laugh and almost spray your mocha all over your windshield.)

 

There are a few others podcasts I have queued up in my Apple Podcast app, but these five are my favorites. They make me laugh, think, pray, and grow and I hope you can find something here to suit your tastes.

How We: Plan Our Summer Vacations

How We: Wednesdays

I’m linking up with Mix and Match Mama and A Little Bit of Everything to talk about vacations!

At this stage of my life, my schedule doesn’t change much in the summer, so I am planning to travel more in the spring and fall during the “off season.”

Right now, I have a long travel wish list and am planning ahead to make the best use of my ten PTO days each year. My priorities right now are to visit family and friends, take an Alaskan Cruise, and explore Europe.

My first step when planning a trip is researching online to figure out costs and tentative dates. I then calculate how much I need to set aside each month to pay for the trip. The biggest expense is usually airfare but I use Southwest rewards to offset this. The next big chunk is housing. I have found my best bargains by getting a bed at a hostel – even in the US. By saving on airfare and housing, I have more to spend on the fun stuff like food!

When it comes to packing, I just think about what I might be doing each day and pick an outfit. The other tip that helped me is making a packing list while traveling. Almost every year I go to youth group winter camp. One year, I kept track of everything I actually used and that was my packing list the next year. Now, my bag is a lot lighter and I haven’t missed anything!

Traveling and exploring the world, though challenging at times, gives me great joy and these are just a couple of the ways I have streamlined the process so I can get the most out of my vacations.

 

The Servanthood of Downton Abbey

Reflections

Awhile back the book my church was studying asked about our perceptions of servanthood and how our culture has influenced those views. The first image that popped in my head was the staff of Downton Abbey. The dignity they serve with and the great pride they take in their work have stuck with me since the show ended.

First off is the way Anna supports Lady Mary throughout the show. Over the years, Anna shows great loyalty to Mary and acts as advisor as well as servant. She helps save Mary from disgrace and ruin, sometimes keeping secrets and performing tasks she may be uncomfortable with. Out of gratitude for Anna, Mary returns this level of care. After Anna is raped, Mary fights her corner through all the aftermath. In the final season of the show, Mary goes out of her way to help Anna achieve and maintain her pregnancy.

The concept of having servants still seems strange to me and I struggle a bit with the idea of a human hierarchy. The show itself touches on servants not being for everyone when Matthew struggles with having a valet wait on him. It seems ridiculous to have someone help him get dressed. But Robert convinces Matthew to keep his valet by pointing out the dignity and pride Molesley finds in his work, no matter how unnecessary it may seem. Over the years Molesley and Matthew develop a deep respect for each other.

Throughout the series, it is clear most of the staff would do anything for the family and don’t feel the work of serving is beneath them. The ultimate example of servanthood at Downton Abbey is Carson. His loyalty to the Crawleys is unmatched. The butler considers them to be his family, while still recognizing his place as staff.

While there is a strict hierarchy of roles at Downtown, the Crawleys never hesitate to meet the human, personal needs of their staff, which demonstrates that all of Downton’s residents have equal value. Everyone has a role and no role is worthless. Throughout the show, several of the staff leave service for other careers, and that is celebrated. But those who stay are not portrayed as those who have settled for less. They are wonderful examples of what it looks like to constantly put another before yourself. And in the end that is not weakness or inferiority, but a quiet dignified strength; a desire to do one’s best no matter the task.

 

Workin’ It Wednesday – Spring Cleaning

Workin' It Wednesday

Spring is my favorite time of year. The days are getting longer, my neighborhood is coming back to life as people get outdoors, and the air feels so fresh.

Nothing beats a fresh, deep cleaned house to go with that weather. March was a whirlwind for me, but this past Saturday, I finally had a day at home and cleaned my living room from top to bottom. My favorite products are from Norwex. All I used was an EnviroWand, the mop system and two EnviroCloths – one wet, one dry.  And when I was done, I threw everything in the washer. It has been so relaxing to spend time in my clean living room this week reading, watching TV and looking through my front window.

The other big project I want to tackle is washing my windows and screens. The plan right now is to hire a couple teens from my youth group to help. This is something I am thinking I will do more often for bigger tasks. The job is more fun with someone else, they get a little spending money, and it is great quality time.

I have begun to observe the liturgical calendar and for next year, I want to plan better so that I can deep clean my whole house during Lent and have it ready for Easter. I like the idea of having my house ready for the resurrected Jesus. I would also like to incorporate a not quite as deep, but still thorough cleaning into Advent to prepare for Baby Jesus.

My roommates and I are all fairly clean people, so the kitchen and bathrooms stay decent, but it is nice to go after the dust bunnies under the couch and scrub the shower at least a couple times a year.

Show and Tell Tuesday – Prom Night

Show and Tell Tuesday

Senior Prom Class of 2009 – no we did not coordinate our outfits.

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All my girlfriends were single so we just went to our prom as a group of ladies plus Alex and his date.

I’m not a huge fan of dances, so I was on the fence about going until I stumbled upon the prom dress I never knew I always wanted.

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It was beautiful, pink, and princess-y. I loved it. Now the thing is, I imagined having my hair in long curls and half back. I made the mistake of getting a haircut the week of prom and when my mom took the rollers out, my hair was about chin length. I was devastated and was refusing to leave the house, but my dad made me. Looking at it now, my hair wasn’t half bad once it was brushed out.

My friends and I didn’t get our act together and realize that driving ourselves in full skirts and heels would not work until about a week before prom. By that time, there was not a limo to be had that we could afford. So Emily’s dad gallantly played chauffeur and rented a 12 passenger van for our little group.

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It was high school, so there was a bit of drama that is not so fun to reminisce about, but we danced the night away. We capped the night off by singing Disney songs at the top of our lungs all the way home. Emily’s little sister who was in the van thought that was pretty lame.

A few of the teens in my youth group are getting ready for their proms and it is fun to reminisce while hearing their stories.

And finally – a photo of my brother at his senior prom. You can’t tell, but she is wearing pink converse to go with his blue ones. They were voted cutest couple.

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Why am I even doing this?

My Story, Reflections

There is something about writing that I find fulfilling. On a personal level, it helps me process the events in my life and untangle all the thoughts floating through my head. But at the same time I don’t want to write just for myself. I have something to say to the world and this blog is, I think, a good way for me to share. The question then is, what exactly am I trying to say?

I am a Christ follower. That is my starting point and my foundation. Above all I want to live my life fully submitted to Jesus and his ways. I believe Jesus’ way is about justice, shalom (which means peace and wholeness) and humbly surrendering my own desires for the sake of loving others and recognizing that everyone I meet is made in the image of God. Over the last few years, God has been teaching me that living into these truths means my life will look different than what I had imagined.

I chose the name Unwritten for this blog because most of my life’s story has yet to be discovered. (You can read the full explanation here.) Now, over three years later, that name has taken on deeper meaning. Much of what I thought and believed about the world around me has been unwritten; I see my community through different lenses than the ones I was wearing three years ago. I had to unlearn some things before I could learn certain truths about God and his world.

So, maybe this blog is about what needs to be unwritten to make room for God’s story. Maybe this blog is about how God’s story is changing the way I live. And maybe writing about these things will inspire others to examine their own lives and how God is calling them to partner with him to build his kingdom. Maybe. Just maybe.

I Used to Think God Could Love Me More . . .

My Story, Reflections

This post is link-up with Sarah Bessey’s blog, whose new book, Out of Sorts, came out this week. I am looking forward to reading her reflections on how she has changed “in response to the unchanging Christ.” Below is a glimpse at what that process has been like in my life.

I used to think God could love me more, but now I know his love never changes.

My journey with God intertwines with my struggle to overcome mental illness, specifically ADD, depression and anxiety. That struggle in turn colors my journey through school. Two years removed from being a student, I now recognize how much I let school consume my life. It was the source of my biggest fears and anxieties. My mental illness twisted school into my Goliath, my giant, and like the Israelites I was too scared to fight. I put immense pressure on myself to be perfect which only paralyzed me and led to numerous failures. While I may not have earned the best grades and fulfilled my academic potential, God used my experience with school to teach me invaluable lessons about who he is.

I hit rock bottom my junior year of college. My sophomore year caused some bruising and I hadn’t recovered when autumn rolled around. I attended my classes on autopilot that semester. I was desperate to leave, but I stayed because I didn’t know what else I would do. I was not doing my work, I was failing, and I was miserable. And I began to see myself, my whole being, as a failure.

My love for myself had become conditional, and that was how I began to see God’s love for me. It was so subtle, that if you had asked me, I would have told you I did not believe I could earn God’s love – it was a free gift. That is what I would have said, but that wasn’t how I was living. My worth and my identity are found in God, I would have said. But deep down, I was only worth loving if I was a perfect student.

Berating myself and tearing myself down quickly became a habit. I would go to class consumed with guilt over the assignments and readings I hadn’t completed. “You are a failure. You can never do anything right. You should just give up, because you will never succeed.” These are the messages I screamed at myself inside my head. Then one day I actually did my homework and came to class prepared, but the voices were still there. “You will never do anything right.” I had done my work, and I still saw myself as a failure. I knew then I had been placing all my worth and my identity in my grades.

During that semester I had been serving as a small group leader for junior highers. Almost every week that fall, the youth pastor ended his talk by saying, “God can never love you less than he does now, and he can never love you more.” Hearing that truth over and over again drove it deep into my heart. It was a spark that grew into a flame and drove out the darkness and lies that had nearly eaten me alive. Because I needed to love myself more, I had begun to believe the same of God. I felt unworthy and desired to earn back the love I thought I had lost. But knowing I could never be perfect kept me from trying.

I needed to hear over and over again that God’s love for me was at its full potential. When the truth that God’s love for me never changes finally sunk in, I was free. I no longer had to worry about being perfect. I no longer had to be fearful of not exceeding past successes. I could live in the knowledge that God’s grace and love are infinite so I should go out and do my best. And God wouldn’t love me less if my best wasn’t perfect.