may 19 . 2017

momma’s birthday

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My momma turned 60 last month. I know – what a shock. She could pass for 42, at least.

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White dishes, navy and cobalt blue vases, linens, and pillows, and lots of fresh, pure white flowers adorned the gorgeous dinner table made by my brother’s hands.

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• Momma’s 60th Birthday Dinner Party Menu •

hors d’oeuvres
parmesan thyme crackers with goat cheese spread and grapes

salad
roasted butternut squash salad with warm cider vinaigrette

entree
Coq a vin with focaccia bread

dessert
chocolate birthday cake

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As a child, you never think for a moment about how important your momma’s presence is to your entire existence. There is nothing cognitive that goes into crying her name when you’re lost in the grocery store, falling into her arms sobbing after a heartbreak or hard day at school, or even opening the refrigerator and always seeing something to eat to calm a rumbly tummy. It takes growth, maturity, and awareness to sense deep gratitude for all of the ways mommas are there – providing, supporting, praying, loving, holding, caring, and listening.

I love you, Momma, deeper and with more appreciation every day. Happy 60th year of amazing life!

may 12 . 2017

My friend Carrie created, developed, and published a gorgeous daily planner called the Codex Planner for women who want to intentionally integrate spirituality into their weekly agendas. Being a lover of physical planners myself (I’m all-about yet another reason to stop looking at my phone so often) and appreciating it’s simple beauty, I wanted to share it with you today. 

I was delighted to write a blog post for her website last month on the theme of Surrender. Check out the introduction below and follow the link to read it all. 



 

I hate this. If this is the love story You’re writing for me – I hate it. This is not better than I could have possibly hoped or imagined; this is the most unnatural thing You could have asked me to do and I am so mad at You for it.

Who in their right mind looks at the God of the Universe and says those words to Him?

Um, me. I did that.

That moment of angst, pain, frustration – and yes, anger – is forever captured in my journal pages. Reflections of a season when the Lord had gently ushered me into taking steps that felt miles beyond my comfort zone.

Everyone has their stretching experiences, right? It’s different for all of us. For me – it looked like starting an eHarmony profile and putting my 26-year-old-single-white-girl-self out on the internet for all to see.

keep reading here. 



 

may 5 . 2017



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// VOX Podcast – Mike Erre

If you’re comfortable with your life, theology, and thoughts about faith and the evangelical church – and you’re happy that way – do not listen to this podcast. Fair warning.

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I’ve been listening to Mike for about a year now, at the encouragement of my buddy Jace who attends Mike’s church in southern California. It took me awhile to warm up to him, but now I’m hooked.

A few things I appreciate are the candor, the forthrightness, and the commitment to scriptural authority. I am grateful for the insights which have pushed me to ponder why I believe what I believe and challenged me to consider Jesus’ perspectives on a range of important areas of life and culture, specifically how His seem to differ from mine.

If you were raised in evangelical church as I was, you may need to prepare to be offended – and then keep listening. 🙂

// Garden City – John Mark Comer

In the spirit of challenging a lot of things I used to think I believed about my faith and church, why not overhaul my theology of work too?

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I picked up this book after finally facing the reality that I am supposed to stay in my current job; two failed attempts to get out of it in a six month period of time proved to be convincing enough. A JMC fan already, I was drawn to this book like a magnet, approaching it with a heart full of hope that he would enlighten me to truths that I wasn’t aware of and/or unwilling to grasp.

Expectations fulfilled, and I’m only halfway through it.

Surprisingly (maybe to no one else, but me), I didn’t have a theology of work. I fell into the group that JMC describes as those believing that work is just something we have to put up with until our life/God brings about a change that allows us to do what we actually love.

As it turns out, that’s a lie.

In fact – we (humans) were designed to work (see Genesis 1). Work was not the Curse after the Fall, as I formerly thought; work is actually good and beautiful and to co-create and co-labor with our Father is actually a privilege, if we accept it as such.

This concept was pretty life-altering for me, in that after processing and praying through what I was reading, I realized I was excited to get up and go to the office everyday for the first time in two and a half years.

Read this book!

// liquid Vitamin D

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Image by Dylan Erickson

Talk about an instant attitude shift! Living in the PNW basically guarantees that I’m deficient in Vitamin D, but I didn’t make the connection between the deficiency and my slight decrease in “happy” during the winter months – until now!

You know it’s effective when your high school students comment about how peppy you are at 6:30am Bible study.

This is the one I take – 5 drops a day!

// Darling blog

Even as an avid blog reader, I don’t typically read any one blog every single day. Except for this one.

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First of all, what is not to love about the first printed (and online) magazine to feature un-retouched photos?

Second of all, they are consistently writing really good articles about things that I (and my people) care deeply about and things that matter. So it’s applicable, inspiring, interesting, and informative.

Here are links to a couple of my favorite posts that I shared multiple times with girlfriends (yes, I’m that girl) to whet your appetite.

Why Embracing Sorrow Paves Our Way to Joy

How to Wait (For Anything) Well

Should You Detox Your Armpits? A DIY

The Most Important Time of Day to Digitally Disconnect

// high schoolers

This year, I did something crazy and launched/wrote/taught/led 24 high school students in my church through a Leadership/Discipleship program. We just wrapped up the program last weekend and I am feeling all the love for them and the other amazing students in our youth ministry.

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Student Leadership Retreat

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Supporting our boy, Cory, at his roller hockey game
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Photo scavenger hunt – photo with a Fireman
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Girl’s retreat
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Redding trip
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Me and my girl, Paige

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Professional photograph in title image taken by Madison Kay Photography © 2017

april 28 . 2017

I picked up running while I was in college.

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It started out sporadic, maybe once or twice a semester, until my senior year. Senior year began with a broken heart from a broken relationship and I had begun working out more to deal with the angst and frustration. I ran 5 days a week for most of senior year, but never ran further than a mile or so.

The mountain where I grew up had narrow and winding roads with cars that would drive too fast around sharp corners for it to be safe to run there, my mom said. My brother and sister didn’t pay attention to that warning and would run on our roads anyway, but I usually opted for the treadmill or driving a couple miles down into one of the neighboring towns where there were sidewalks and more people around. Even still, my running habit wasn’t serious; when talking about it with friends who were beginning to train for half marathons and full marathons, I would always say, “I just don’t have the stamina for that. I’m more of a leisurely jogger, anyway.”

Two summers ago, I decided to actually set a goal and see if I could make this sporadic habit into more of a lifestyle, more of a rhythm for me to relieve stress, strengthen my heart, and accomplish something begun.

I downloaded a “couch to 10K” app and went to work.

The cool thing about a training program is that you start slow. You start small. You literally start with running sixty seconds, walking for ninety seconds, then running again for sixty seconds and repeating that pattern for twenty minutes. You do that three days out of the first week.

The following week, you run ninety seconds, walk for two minutes, run again for ninety seconds, repeating for a total of twenty minutes.

By the fifth week, you find yourself running for five minutes, walking for three, running for five, walking for three, and it’s working.

Around the mid-way point of training, I was running on a treadmill when the app crashed unexpectedly, but I didn’t know it. I was letting out some pent-up stress and jamming to good music and I didn’t even realize that I’d run for a mile and a half without slowing down or stopping. It was that moment when I realized, this works. Stamina isn’t something that you are or aren’t born with – it can be built.

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I learned that my body could recognize a rhythm and rise to the occasion, and even be pushed further than I thought possible.

I also began to feel more comfortable in my life when running was a part of it. Something would feel off and unnatural when I wasn’t prioritizing it. My muscles and emotional being began to crave it, desire it. I get to run tomorrow, was a more frequent thought as I would fall asleep at night.

And that’s when I knew: I’m a runner. This is not just something I’m playing around with, trying out, seeing if it’ll stick.

This is part of me.



 

Several months ago, I was teaching my high school students about the importance of developing a “secret life” with God – a history with God. You can only ride the wave of your parent’s faith or your youth pastor’s faith for so long; if following Christ is of value to you, it’s vital that you prioritize and cultivate your own relationship with Him. If not, you may graduate from high school and move away to college, away from the burning lights of believers that surrounded you for years, and wonder why it’s so hard to see.

I was trying to communicate that you have to learn how to keep your own flame going, that it’s not going to happen with the flip of a switch or a radical emotional encounter at a camp or a conference, but with consistency over time.

All of a sudden I realized – that building of consistency, of history, of a connection with God that stands alone from any experience of your family, your leaders, or your peers – it’s like training for a race.

It’s built over time.

It’s built slowly, and sometimes in fits and spurts.

It takes effort that may feel foreign, uncomfortable, or frustrating at first.

But the truth is, in those spaces that you create for just you and Him, He begins to show up in ways that draw you deeply into His goodness … His nearness … His acceptance and breath-catching love.

And you want to go back to that space – to Him – again and again and again. Being with Him and hearing His voice, sensing His feelings about you, picking up on His cues and direction and insight begins to feel like the most natural, most comfortable, easiest place to be, and you wonder how your life ever happened without Him before.

I told my students, it feels awkward right now. It feels like you show up, fumbling around in your Bible, maybe spewing off a laundry-list of prayers to this unseen being that you know somewhere-deep-down has a vested interest in you. It feels strange and like you’re doing it out of obligation – but stick with it. Press on. Soon – very soon – you’ll be desperate to come back. And you’ll be experiencing more of the abundant life He has in mind for you than you ever have before.

The effort is worth it.

The time is worth it.

Things are changing in you for the better – whether you’re immediately aware of it or not.

 



Photos by Madison Kay Photography © 2017

march 31 . 2017

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I am a birthday-loving person.

I have always believed in taking the entire day to celebrate. It wasn’t until a couple years ago and working a professional job that I realized – oh – it’s not normal for other people to take the day off from work on their birthday? Whomp-whomp. There goes that tradition.

Luckily, this year my birthday fell on a Saturday. And there was never a more perfect birthday. I do find myself saying that every year, so I guess they just keep getting better and better. Continue reading “march 31 . 2017”