2010: A Year In Review

In January, while looking at a fresh year ahead, my mantra was: 2010 try, try again! I had absolutely no idea that my year would be unlike any other and not even close to what I had imagined.

This year consisted of quitting a job at an organization that I love, working through the uncertainty of finding a new job, finding a great new job and getting a whole month off before starting, finding out that new job was ending due to an international location, spending seven weeks in England to top off that job, and doing some travelling throughout the year that I wouldn’t have been able to do without all of the job chaos.  It’s been a whirlwind.  And right now, I am still wondering what is next for me.  But, as I have mentioned before, God is calling me to trust Him.  It goes totally against my need to be responsible, but I would rather be irresponsible at this point if that’s what is required to follow God.

So that’s where I am now.  Still trusting.  Still inquiring.  Still waiting.  2010 has been a year of change after change and lessons of faith.  There have definitely been times when I have been afraid.  But through it all, God has remained faithful and I have been filled with his peace. He has reminded me time after time that He will not let my foot slip, and that I can trust Him.  It has been a roller coaster of a year!  In fact, I have changed my mantra for 2010.  It is now: 2010, what the heck was that?!

But 2011, that is another story.  I am looking towards 2011 with great expectations.  My mantra for 2011?  2011: Surprise me, God!

Other than the posts linked above, here are some of my favorites from this year:

  1. Lessons From Ulysses S. Grant
  2. A Lesson from Napoleon Bonaparte
  3. Why I Am Still Choosing Life
  4. The Consequence of Confession
  5. Maybe Nothing, Maybe Everything

Thoughts On Singleness

In the interest of “speaking now,” I think it’s time to talk a little bit about singleness.

I read a great article this morning from the Gospel Coalition about this and fully intended to come on here and just link over, but I thought I would add a little list.  So along with the awesome article, here is my list to married people:

Things Married People Should Never Say to Single People:

  1. You are such a great guy/girl!  How/why are you still single?
  2. Pat a persons leg and say “Don’t worry, you’re time will come.” or “Don’t worry, you will find someone special soon.” (Yes, this actually happens to me a lot.)
  3. Tell a single person they are lucky that they only have to worry about themselves.  (Chances are they would probably really love your burden of worrying about someone else.)
  4. I can’t think of anyone who would be good enough for you.

I’m sure there are more things to add to that list, so feel free to do so in the comments section!  In the meantime, check out this article!

Speak Now

I have been thinking about words today.  Words we speak to one another.  Words that can be uplifting and encouraging.  Words that can be absolutely destructive.

But what I have been thinking about more are those unsaid words.  I’m not sure why, but lately I feel like I am missing out on something.  It’s hard to describe, but I feel like I am missing out on an opportunity to love the people well that I care most about.  To let others know how I feel, even at the risk of exposing my heart.  I feel an urgency that I can’t explain.  It’s like an urgency not to miss out on saying something to someone, because I might never get to say it again.  I’m not sure what brought all of this on today, but it made me think of this post that I wrote nearly three years ago.  I can still feel the ache that inspired that post.  It’s an ache that I don’t ever want to feel again; a missed opportunity that I can never make up for.

And then tonight, as I am laying in bed about to read for awhile, I decided to read the digital booklet to Taylor Swift’s new album (yes, I am slightly obsessed with this album, but I had not read the booklet yet).  What is written in the second page of the booklet was exactly what has been rolling around in my heart today (I told you that Taylor Swift just gets me!).  Taylor is definitely a wordsmith and these thoughts really resonated with me.  It made me think of Paul’s introduction in Philippians when he says:

“3 I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. 7 It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. 8 God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.”

He holds them in his heart.  And he tells them so.  Once again, I am lacking a bow to tie this one up with.  Since Taylor always seems to have a bow, check out what she has to say below (from her digital booklet).  And I agree with her.  I think it’s time to speak now.

‘Speak now or forever hold your peace, ’ the words said by preachers at the end of wedding ceremonies all over the world, right before the vows. It’s a last chance for protest, a moment that makes everyone’s heart race, and a moment I’ve always been strangely fascinated by. So many fantasize about bursting into a church, saying what they’d kept inside for years like in the movies. In real life, it rarely happens.

Real life is a funny thing, you know. In real life, saying the right thing at the right moment is beyond crucial. So crucial, in fact, that most of us start to hesitate, for fear of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. But lately what I’ve begun to fear more than that is letting the moment pass without saying anything.

I think most of us fear reaching the end of our life, and looking back regretting the moments we didn’t speak up. When we didn’t say ‘I love you. ’ When we should’ve said ‘I’m sorry. ’ When we didn’t stand up for ourselves or someone who needed help.

These songs are made up of words I didn’t say when the moment was right in front of me. These songs are open letters. Each is written with a specific person in mind, telling them what I meant to tell them in person. To the beautiful boy whose heart I broke in December. To my first love who I never thought would be my first heartbreak. To my band. To a mean man I used to be afraid of. To someone who made my world very dark for a while. To a girl who stole something of mine. To someone I forgive for what he said in front of the whole world.

Words can break someone into a million pieces, but they can also put them back together. I hope you use yours for good, because the only words you’ll regret more than the ones left unsaid are the ones you use to intentionally hurt someone.

What you say might be too much for some people. Maybe it will come out all wrong and you’ll stutter and you’ll walk away embarrassed, wincing as you play it all back in your head. But I think the words you stop yourself from saying are the ones that will haunt you the longest.

So say it to them. Or say it to yourself in the mirror. Say it in a letter you’ll never send or in a book millions might read someday. I think you deserve to look back on your life without a chorus of resounding voices saying ‘I could’ve, but it’s too late now. ’

There is a time for silence. There is a time waiting your turn. But if you know how you feel, and what you need to say, you’ll know it.

I don’t think you should wait. I think you should speak now.

Best of 2010

Most Entertaining Book: The Twilight Saga I resisted these for a long time, thinking that they would be really stupid.  Vampires? Really?  I would like to admit, right here on this blog, I WAS WRONG.  I absolutely loved all of these books.  I pathetically sacrificed sleep to read them…and I am very serious about my sleep.  So judge me if you wish, but these books take the Most Entertaining books of 2010 spot.

Most Life-Changing/Encouraging Book: Plan B (by Pete Wilson) I would consider 2010 a plan B year for sure.  That could be why this book impacted me so much.  It’s full of great Scripture and encouragement for when life doesn’t turn out exactly they way we plan.  After all, our plan B, may have been God’s plan A for us.

Favorite Movie: Remember Me Call me a sucker for a downer movie (I totally am), but I loved this movie.  Forgiveness, healing, redemption, restoration…..I loved it.  While I thought the story was very moving, it is rated R.  So don’t use this as your recommendation or official revue.

Favorite TV Show: Parenthood I honestly think this is the best show on TV right now.  It’s honest, well written, well acted, and it’s not a reality show (not that I am anti-reality show).  I highly recommend it.

Favorite Restaurant: The Real Chow Baby YUM!  All you can eat, build your own mongolian food.  I love it.  I chose it for my birthday this year, and at this point, I see myself choosing it again next year.

Favorite Trip: Sorry, I can’t choose.  They were all great! Southern California (including a visit to the Ortegas in Riverside, some time alone in Newport Beach/Balboa Island, and a visit with the Leemans in San Diego), Disney World (Ella and Cooper’s first time!), Cincinnati (awesome week with my Aunt Jenny and Uncle Gerry), England (7 weeks working in a country I had never visited and meeting/spending time with some great people!), and NYC (a great cap to the England trip and an awesome time with my mom, Aunt Jenny, and sister!)

Favorite Non-Profit: charity:water I have mentioned this organization a couple of times on here.  Their mission is clear: get people clean water that don’t have it.  And they make it so so so easy to get involved and help make the idea a reality.  There is really no reason or excuse not to get involved with these guys!  Quick fact: $20 can provide clean drinking water for one person for 20 YEARS.

Favorite Frozen Yogurt: Yoforia I am very adamant about this.  All other frozen yogurts are inferior.  Trust me, I have tried many others.

Favorite Album: Taylor Swift- Speak Now Duh.

That’s all I can think of for now!  What were some of your favorites this year?

The Sea Lion Who Lost The Sea

I found this story in my documents folder the other day and reread it for the first time in a few years. For some reason this story always resonates so deeply in my heart. Probably because in the depths of my heart, I know that this is not my home. It is definitely worth a read.

The Sea Lion Who Lost The Sea

Once upon a time there lived a sea lion who had lost the sea.

He lived in a country known as the barren lands. High on a plateau, far from any coast, it was a place so dry and dusty that it could only be called a desert. A kind of coarse grass grew in patches here and there, and a few trees were scattered across the horizon. But mostly, it was dust. And sometimes wind, which together make one very thirsty. Of course, it must seem strange to you that such a beautiful creature should wind up in a desert at all. He was, mind you, a sea lion. But things like this do happen.

How the sea lion came to the barren lands, no one could remember. It all seemed so very long ago. So long, in fact, it appeared as though he had always been there. Not that he belonged in such an arid place. How could that be? He was, after all, a sea lion. But as you know, once you have lived so long in a certain spot, no matter how odd, you come to think of it as home.

There was a time, many years back, when the sea lion knew he was lost. In those days, he would stop every traveler he met to see if he might help him find his way back to the sea.

But no one seemed to know the way.

On he searched, but never finding. After years without success, the sea lion took refuge beneath a solitary tree beside a very small water hole. The tree provided refuge from the burning rays of the sun, which were very fierce in that place. And the water hole, though small and muddy, was wet, in its own way. Here he settled down and got on as best he could.

Had you journeyed in those days through the barren lands, you might have seen the sea lion for yourself. Quite often in the evening, he would go and sit upon his favorite rock, a very large boulder, which lifted him off the burning sand and allowed him a view of the entire country.

There he would remain for hours into the night, silhouetted against the sky. And on the best nights, when the wind shifted to the east, a faint smell of salt air would come to him on the breeze. Then he would close his eyes and imagine himself once more at the sea. When he lay himself down to sleep, he would dream of a vast, deep ocean. Twisting and turning, diving and twirling, he would swim and swim and swim and swim. When he woke, he thought he heard the sound of breakers.

The sea was calling to him.

The sea lion loved his rock, and he even loved waiting night after night for the sea breezes that might come. Especially he loved the dreams those memories would stir. But as you well know, even the best of dreams cannot go on, and in the morning when the sea lion woke, he was still in the barren lands. Sometimes he would close his eyes and try to fall back asleep. It never seemed to work, for the sun was always very bright.

Eventually, it became too much for him to bear. He began to visit his rock only on occasion. “I have too much to do,” he told himself. “I cannot waste my time just idling about.” He really did not have so much to do. The truth of it was, waking so far from home was such a disappointment, he did not want to have those wonderful dreams anymore. The day finally came when he stopped going to his rock altogether, and he no longer lifted his nose to the wind when the sea breezes blew.

The sea lion was not entirely alone in those parts. For it was there he met the tortoise. Now this tortoise was an ancient creature, so weathered by his life in the barren lands that at first, the sea lion mistook him for a rock. He told the tortoise of his plight, hoping that this wise one might be able to help him. “Perhaps,” the tortoise mused, “this is the sea.” His eyes appeared to be shut against the bright sun, but he was watching the sea lion very closely. The sea lion swept his flippers once against his side, gliding to the end of the water hole and back. “I don’t know,” he said. “It isn’t very deep.” “Isn’t it?” “Somehow, I thought the sea would be broader, deeper. At least, I hoped so.”

“You must learn to be happy here,” the tortoise told him one day. “For it is unlikely you shall ever find this sea of yours.” Deep in his old and shriveled heart, the tortoise envied the sea lion and his sea. “But I belong to the sea. We are made for each other.” “Perhaps. But you have been gone so long now, the sea has probably forgotten you.” This thought had never occurred to the sea lion. But it was true, he had been gone for a long, long time. “If this is not my home, how can I ever feel at home here?” the sea lion asked. “You will, in time.” The tortoise appeared to be squinting, his eyes a thin slit. “I have seen the sea, and it is no better than what you have found here.” “ You have seen the sea!” “Yes. Come closer,” whispered the tortoise, “and I will tell you a secret. I am not a tortoise. I am a sea turtle. But I left the sea of my own accord, many years ago, in search of better things. If you stay with me, I will tell you stores of my adventures.”

The stories of the ancient tortoise were enchanting and soon cast their spell upon the sea lion. As weeks passed into months, his memory of the sea faded. “The desert,” whispered the tortoise, “is all that is, or was, or ever will be.” When the sun grew fierce and burned his skin, the sea lion would hide in the shade of the tree, listening to the tales woven by the tortoise. When the dry winds cracked his flippers and filled his eyes with dust, the sea lion would retreat to the water hole. And so the sea lion remained, living his days between water hole and tree. The sea no longer filled his dreams.

It was in May that the winds began to blow. The sea lion had grown used to wind, and at first he did not pay much heed at all. Years of desert life had taught him to turn his back in the direction from which the wind came and cover his eyes with his flippers, so that the dust would not get in. Eventually, the winds would always pass.

But not this time. Day and night it came, howling across the barren lands. There was nothing to stop its fury, nothing to even slow it down. For forty days and forty nights the wind blew. And then, just as suddenly as it had begun, it stopped. The sea lion lifted himself to have a look around. He could hardly believe his eyes.

Every single leaf had been stripped from his tree. The branches that remained, with only a twig or two upon them, looked like an old scarecrow. And I do not need to tell you that there was no longer any shade in which to hide. But worse than this, much worse indeed, was what the sea lion saw next. The water hold was completely dry.

Three weeks after the wind ceased to blow, the sea lion had a dream. Now, as I told you before, there were other nights in which he had dreamed of the sea. But those were long ago and nearly forgotten. Even still, the ocean that filled his dreams this night was so beautiful and clear, so vast and deep, it was as if he were seeing it for the very first time. The sunlight glittered on its surface, and as he dived, the water all around him shone like an emerald. If he swam quite deep, it turned to jade, cool and dark and mysterious. But he was never frightened, not at all. For I must tell you that in all his dreams of the sea, he had never before found himself in the company of other sea lions. This night there were many, round about him, diving and turning, spinning and twirling. They were playing.

Oh, how he hated to wake from that wonderful dream. The tears running down his face were the first wet thing he had felt in three weeks. But he did not pause even to wipe them away, he did not pause, in fact for anything at all. He set his face to the east, and he began to walk as best a sea lion can.

“Where are you going?” asked the tortoise.

“I am going to find the sea.”

Written by John Eldredge

Winter Snow

This is my favorite non-hymn Christmas song this year. Yes, there is usually a new one every year! There is just something about this song that is really getting to me this year, so I thought I would share it with you! It’s called “Winter Snow” and it’s sung by Audrey Assad and Chris Tomlin. I just searched for it on YouTube, so this is a random video, but I actually kind of like it! Enjoy!

Mercy Calls You; Break Your Chains

This is one of my favorite Christmas hymns!  I think it is one that really depicts the joy and hope of the Savior’s birth.  I hope, as you read the lyrics, that you are reminded of that hope and His unending mercy.

Angels From the Realms of Glory

Angels from the realms of glory,
Wing your flight o’er all the earth;
Ye who sang creation’s story
Now proclaim Messiah’s birth.

Shepherds, in the field abiding,
Watching o’er your flocks by night,
God with us is now residing;
Yonder shines the infant light:

Sages, leave your contemplations,
Brighter visions beam afar;
Seek the great Desire of nations;
Ye have seen His natal star.

Saints, before the altar bending,
Watching long in hope and fear;
Suddenly the Lord, descending,
In His temple shall appear.

Sinners, wrung with true repentance,
Doomed for guilt to endless pains,
Justice now revokes the sentence,
Mercy calls you; break your chains.

Though an Infant now we view Him,
He shall fill His Father’s throne,
Gather all the nations to Him;
Every knee shall then bow down:

All creation, join in praising
God, the Father, Spirit, Son,
Evermore your voices raising
To th’eternal Three in One.

Come and worship, come and worship,
Worship Christ, the newborn King.

Things I’m Excited About

1. The opener from North Point this past Sunday. So proud of my brother in law, Reid (the guy in the antlers), for helping to coordinate this!  It’s all done with iPhones and iPads.

2. charity:water

I mentioned the water bottle that they are selling in my last post, but I love the organization as a whole. Take a look through their site and read about all of the great things that they are doing to get clean water to people that don’t have it. When you are done reading, find a way to participate! They give you lots of options!

This doesn’t really need an explanation. Just know that they are going to be in Atlanta on June 22, my 30th birthday, and I will be there.

These two are coming together for a tour! I can’t wait! July 9 & 10 in Atlanta! I’m not really a concert person, but somehow two concerts ended up on my list, so you know I’m excited!

5. Christmas! I know that most people are excited about Christmas, but I had to list it. I love this time of year! I love that I get to wake up in the same house as my niece and nephews on that morning and watch their excitement. I love the reminders of God’s great love for us. I love the hymn O Holy Night and it’s reminder that “chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother, and in His name all oppression shall cease.” It’s an exciting time of year and there is something magical and hopeful about it. I love it!

Cool Christmas Idea

Are you still trying to figure out what to get some people for Christmas?  Well, here is an idea!

These water bottles from charity:water are so cool!  I am a total water bottle snob and I think it’s awesome.  That should be enough right there ;).  Here’s the deal though.  Not only would you be getting a really cool water bottle, but the proceeds from this water bottle will give two people clean water for 20 YEARS. Yes, I said 20.  If you need other ideas, they have a lot more cool stuff in their store!  If you order by December 10, it will be here in time for Christmas!

2011 Reading List

Here is my reading list for next year! I am really excited about every single one of these books.  There are a bunch of Charles Martin books on here this year because last year I picked up Chasing Fireflies and absolutely loved it, which means now I have to read all of his books!

  1. The Pursuit of God– A.W. Tozer
  2. The Great Divorce– C.S. Lewis
  3. The Shattered Lantern– Ronald Rolheiser
  4. Lament For A Son– Nicholas Wolterstorff
  5. The Power of A Whisper– Bill Hybels
  6. The Road Less Traveled– Scott Peck
  7. Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln– Doris Kearns Goodwin
  8. The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal- David McCullough
  9. Undaunted Courage- Stephen Ambrose
  10. The Endurance: Shackleton’s Legendary Antarctic Expedition- Caroline Alexander
  11. Too Big To Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System–and Themselves– Andrew Ross Sorkin
  12. Let the Great World Spin– Colum McCann
  13. What Good Is God?– Philip Yancey
  14. Radical: Taking Back Your Faith From the American Dream– David Platt
  15. How Now Shall We Live– Chuck Colson
  16. The Mountain Between Us– Charles Martin
  17. Where the River Ends– Charles Martin
  18. The Dead Don’t Dance– Charles Martin
  19. Maggie– Charles Martin
  20. When Crickets Cry– Charles Martin
  21. Wrapped In Rain– Charles Martin
  22. Kane and Able– Jeffrey Archer
  23. An American Life– Jimmy Gentry
  24. Decision Points– George W. Bush
  25. The Grace of God– Andy Stanley
  26. Water For Elephants– Sara Gruen
  27. The Christian Atheist– Craig Groeschel
  28. Life of Pi– Yann Martel
  29. Under the Banner of Heaven– Jon Krakauer
  30. The Male Factor– Shaunti Feldhahn