#NeverDull2016 Year in Review

At the beginning of the year I was asked by several people, and challenged by several more to come up with a word or theme for 2016. I am not really a goal setter. I do not have enough organization as a personality to plan things out well…Nor do I enjoy it. I more often than not fake being organized, and typically use all of my organizational capacity for my job.

However, this year I decided to try to pick a word or theme. So, I picked “Never Dull”. It felt like a way of focusing on all the big and little things, noticing how interesting and worth while life can be. After having a few hard years, I needed a year not focused on healing or regrowing, but instead a year focused on the life I have, the good, bad, interesting, growing, and adventures that can be found every day!

Thus, #neverdull2016 became my social media hashtag.

You can read my 2015 year in review posts here.

So, what a year 2016 was!

January

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We had a record-breaking snowstorm in DC, with over 30 inches of snow in 24 hours.
My sister came to visit, and I surprised her with a whirlwind trip to NYC.

February

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Uganda team meetings started! #Ugandaexcited
I studied Romans with a group of other leaders.
I got to tour the Capitol building for the first time.

March

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Threw a bachelorette weekend for one of my best friends.
We continued our Easter tradition and several college best friends came and stayed. – We failed again at going to the top of the Washington Monument lol
I started my big side tattoo!

April

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One of my girls from MI came to visit for her Spring Break.
I went to Philly and got to hang out with some of my favorites.
Threw a super fun fundraising house party for clean water wells in Uganda.
I also started having much more regular meetings with other churches to talk about First Impressions things.

May

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One of my best friends got married! #Howboutthemappels
Our Uganda meetings started happening twice a month!
People continued to join us at the gym haha

June

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We had the 2nd Annual Race for H2Ope Run/Walk fundraising event for our Uganda mission.
I went to Nashville, did a whirlwind visit, and helped her drive back to DC for the summer.
I continued my tattoo process.
I got to help teach dance classes throughout the summer with a super fun group of ladies!

July

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I finished my tattoo just in time for it to heal before going to Uganda!
Our team went to Uganda and dug 2 clean water wells! You can read more about it here.
Our house shifted as one roommate left and a new one began living with us.

August

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I spent the first 8 days of the month in Uganda.
I went on my first date in a year – Had a great time, but it didn’t go anywhere.
We did a presentation at the Fairfax JDC about our work in Uganda.

September

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I went to Disney World for the first time! – With a ton of my family! It was awesome!
Family Dinner Mondays started up again for the fall. – It has been such an amazing weekly time!
College friends had a free weekend, so they came to visit and we all headed to the beach!
A group of us undertook project get Amy’s iron up.. which meant a more strict diet than normal; it sucked and was great all at the same time.
I put all of my roommates on a traveling ban because we travel SO much…. it failed miserably. lol

October

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I went to visit 6 churches to learn from them and deemed it my #tourdechurches – It was amazing!
Our church celebrated its 20th anniversary.
My little brother’s wife had their first baby! – She’s so cute!

November

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I was able to go to Puerto Rico for free cause I have lucky friends haha
I had to say goodbye to friends who followed a God-given dream across the country.
My roommates and I are now fluent in food as a love language.
I finally finished my “corner office” for my consulting work!

December

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This is always one of my favorite months in DC. There’s so much happening, fun parties and sweet time with friends.
I got to spend a lot of time with my family for Christmas, it was amazing.
I got to snuggle my new niece.

Overall

I feel like this year was full of adventures, big, small, and everything in between.

How did this year compare to what I thought it would be? – You can see some of my goals and predictions here.

In some ways I feel like it was pretty spot on… In others it was close, and obviously in some ways it was totally different.

In general, my sentiments are: What a beautiful year it has been.

I find myself grateful. Incredibly grateful that I was able to experience such amazing things this year with so many wonderful and amazing people. I feel rich with friendships and people I love. I am grateful for the adventures and the laughter. What an incredible year full of ups and downs and everything in between.

#Neverdull2016

How Beautiful The Feet…

I have never liked my feet.

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When I was a younger child, I disliked them because they were crooked and I had to wear shoes to correct them.

As an older child, I disliked them because they were larger than that of my petite friends.

In high school, I disliked them because they were heavily calloused from the years barefoot I had spent on martial arts training mats.

My feet still are covered in functional callouses from walking around barefoot every chance I get (odd I know given this topic), calloused from high heels, from dance shoes, from a plethora of things.

It is an extremely select few people who I will allow to touch my feet without them being covered in socks first. I dislike people touching my bare feet (not to mention they are intensely ticklish).

Now that I am sans a vehicle of my own, I have walked more this summer than I have probably any other time in my life (except maybe a couple of summers at camp)… I average 10,000-20,000 steps (5-10 miles roughly) a day.

I love the forced walking. I enjoy the space it has created in my daily life to think and process. It takes more planning to get around, but it seems to have slowed my life down just enough in this insane season. Walking has returned to me my much coveted processing time that driving used to afford me years ago.

Not long ago this partial verse popped into my head:

“‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!'” (Romans 10:15b)

When I thought of this, I looked down to my feet and contemplated if I considered my feet beautiful in this capacity. I was indeed walking significantly more as a part of my job… in an attempt to do my part to bring the good news of good things to those who have not heard.

But, did I think my feet were beautiful because of it?

I decided I did not see beauty in my feet, but instead I saw the glorious functionality of them and I was thankful.
Thankful that my tendons and ligaments have held up nicely, and they have not given out like they are prone to do.
Thankful that several years ago I bought the worlds most comfortable and durable flip-flops (Crocs) that have lasted me all summer.
Thankful that I live in a city that walking is an easily feasible option.

So, I found myself satisfied. I did not consider my feet beautiful even still, but they were as functional and actually, more useful than they have been in other seasons of my life.

Then, not long later, I began thinking about the woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her hair. I was thinking about this because I have never had to wash my feet so frequently in my entire life! (It is a fairly well-known fact that I dislike showering… I try to go multiple days without showering if at all possible.)

Yet, walking so much means incredibly dirty feet… which means washing my feet daily. Every. Single. Day. Dang. It!

However, let’s be clear, even still, I walk on paved sidewalks, brick covered sidewalks, and easily avoid the dirt and puddles… Not dirt roads.

How much more dirty were Jesus’ feet than my own?

Every evening, I wash my feet before I go to bed. I have found that as the summer has gone on, my feet are not just covered in dirt, but they are calloused differently, they are stained because of the color of the dirt… It is gross and I have had to take a foot stone to them frequently in order to remove all of the dirt.

How much more dirty were Jesus’ feet than my own?

This woman was so remorseful that she willingly and gladly cleaned Jesus’ feet with her tears and hair, and then poured what was about a year’s worth of perfume oil onto his feet.

How beautiful were His feet to this woman overcome with guilt and remorse?

And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume, and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume.” (Luke 7:37-38)

Then, on top of it all, she kissed Jesus’ feet. I do not think I have never understood the intense emotions she must have felt until I have experienced my own functional feet that never seem to get clean… And yet, all she wanted to do was clean them and kiss them in such an intimate way. So many feels.

And Jesus answered him, ‘Simon, I have something to say to you.’
And he replied, ‘Say it, Teacher.’
A moneylender had two debtors: one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. So which of them will love him more?’
Simon answered and said, ‘I suppose the one whom he forgave more.’
And He said to him, ‘You have judged correctly.’
 Turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, ‘Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave Me no kiss; but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss My feet. You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume. For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.’
Then He said to her, ‘Your sins have been forgiven.’
Those who were reclining at the table with Him began to say to themselves, ‘Who is this man who even forgives sins?’
And He said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you; go in peace.'” (Luke 7:40-50)

This woman is mentioned in Matthew, Mark, AND Luke. She left an impression on these men. Jesus saw her, understood her heart, and forgave her… releasing her of her guilt and remorse…

Go in peace.

How beautiful the feet…

Repairing With Hope and Love

IMG_2198Do you ever get tired of telling the same story over repeatedly?… I feel like that has been the last 10 months.

I am tired of talking about how painful, stressful, lonely, emotional, etc..etc.. the last however long has been.

I wish desperately I could take the next step and move beyond this season, yet I am stuck.

I keep thinking how much I would love to focus on hope and anticipation, but just have no glimpse to grasp on to.

I for a while know have been yearning for when laughter, hugs, friends, and purpose fill my life again.

Recently, I took a break and went on a trip to see so many people I love because my mind was beginning to fracture and my hope for something different had grown incredibly dim. I am my own worst critic, and I hate when I know I am slipping and have no way to improve the state. So, I decided it was more important for me to mentally refresh than to seek out yet more ways to improve my situation.

I am so glad I did.

The trip is over, the finances are just as tight as they have been, but my heart is full of the memory of hugs and conversations from where love met me.

I found encouragement in the oddest of ways, in one instance, just the mere sight of my friend brought tears to my eyes, and then I got to sit and talk about life with her… And, she knows me well enough to know how to ask how I am truly doing, and then create a space that is safe enough for me to share.

I sat for hours upon hours with one friend, and I cannot even recall half of what we talked about, but I feel like she understands me in a truly unique way.

With so many I laughed, hugged, danced, joked and ate fantastic food while talking about anything that fluttered to our minds.

One friend marveled at my story and reminded me that my emotions throughout this process are ok. I was reminded that God is moving, He loves me, and that of course I would not be perfect throughout the stress and struggle. Sometimes the darkness and struggle are so real that the pain just needs time to heal.

How had I forgotten that I cannot handle this perfectly?

So many friends walked, sat and talked, ate food and just connected with the intention of renewing our friendship, and in one way or another reminded me that I am important to them.

As I look back at my trip, I find my heart full. Overflowing with so many jokes, so much laughter, dozens of hugs, but mostly I find that I was reminded down to my core how much I am loved.

I was reminded that I fill a space in their lives that only I can, and that thought rests deeply inside of me; I am so beyond thankful for the reminder.

Each person I spent time with impacted me, replacing, repairing, encouraging, and building my heart up in a way that I have not experienced in a while. I mean, it is not as though others have not encouraged or supported and built me up immensely, but I think God just knew who and when I would hear it best… So, He used this change of place and pace to infuse my heart again.

Physically life is no different, there are no changes, no real updates, and nothing too exciting to report on. However, deep inside my heart, I finally feel stable again, no longer like I am on the verge of disaster trying desperately to hold and put the pieces back together.

As I drove back, I marveled at how much God used these people in such a short time, many in ways they will never understand to begin repairing me with hope and love.

I am overflowing with thankfulness.

Prayer Summer 2013…

My church is doing a summer prayer series, and one of the recommended readings is The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson. While I have already read this book, I am actually really excited to read it again and gain fresh perspective on it.

Yesterday was the start of a summer small group I am leading. I am excited about the group, and I am really looking forward to seeing where God leads each of us. One of the things we are doing is, today we are kicking off a 21 day prayer challenge. I am looking forward to it, but, I am even more excited to see how He chooses to reveal Himself, and all the ways He is going to answer prayers this summer. I am fully anticipating looking back on this summer and realizing how many amazing and crazy things started this summer. I am fully expecting to be blown away, even though I have no idea in what way or what area of my life. I just know I am excited.

My biggest goal this summer is to gain a larger understanding of who God is, and for who He is to be immensely expanded in my life.

I am not looking to do things ahead of God, instead I am praying and expecting Him to show up immeasurably more than I can even possibly anticipate. I figure, my imagination is pretty large and pretty extravagant… And yet, God is bigger than that, which means I think He is going to show up in some pretty intense ways in the next 21 days, 40 days, and over the course of the entire 2013 summer…. (And likely beyond.)

While I certainly have a list of specific things I am praying for and through, mostly I am just focusing on starting new habits. I am purposefully spending more time with God, but also being sure to intentionally pay attention to and create space for Him to speak to my open and listening heart.

If you would like to join the 21 day prayer challenge or the 40 day prayer challenge with me, give me your address and I will be sure to add you!

In case you have not figured it out, July’s blog theme is prayer. Should be interesting!

Share your stories with me!

What are you praying for this summer?