current location

Some friendships can transcend time and continents. This week was the first time I saw Lindsey stateside and not half a world away in Uganda. We originally bonded over pumpkin scones and chili, and were known to meet fairly very regularly for espresso milkshakes and spicy fries. I’m so thankful for a friendship that can pick up after years apart and one that is never short on laugher and eye-rolls.

This was Lindsey’s first time on the west coast, and I was determined to show her as much as I could in a few short days. While we didn’t make a big dent into the list, we did dip our toes (or our Converse shoes) in the ocean, drank lots of coffee, and ate enough sugar to last a lifetime. Come back soon, please. The best coast is [not so patiently] waiting :)

Also, can we just talk about the iPhone 7+ Portrait Mode? I think I’m in love.

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After the Storm – Published on Deeply Rooted

A blog I wrote back during my time in Uganda, After the Storm, was recently published on Deeply Rooted Magazine‘s online blog. I’m so honored for them to choose these words to share, in hopes they will resonate with someone the way they did with me.

These words were not easy to write. I was in the midst of one of the hardest seasons of my life, and this blog was my attempt at digging into the hope I knew was somewhere in front of my feet. It felt like I couldn’t escape the feelings I was trapped by, but alas, He is good – through it all.


Fear and anxiety. I can finally put words to it.

I spent years and years with feelings I couldn’t place, I couldn’t name. I couldn’t understand these emotions I was experiencing more often than I’d like to admit.

It wasn’t until I moved overseas and struggled on a more consistent basis that I was able to name what I was feeling. Living in a developing country brings out both rational and irrational fears in the best of people, not to mention someone who has an overactive imagination and desires safety more than most. (I was also introduced to the Enneagram and my #6 personality type.) Being there gave me permission, in some way, to validate what I was experiencing in not only a physical sense, but on an emotional and spiritual level as well. Suddenly, I was able to admit what I was feeling, to myself and those closest to me— the hardest and most humbling step of all.

Continue reading on Deeply Rooted Magazine’s blog here…

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at the table

Growing up in a family that was very intentional about sitting down at the table together each night, the transition away from home and into a space without a common table of my own was challenging. While there were often still people gathered around the table, I didn’t have a space of my own to start my own traditions as I was used to doing. At the time, this never specifically struck me as odd or disappointing. While I didn’t have my own table to cultivate community around, there were other ways this manifested throughout those years. And while I still don’t have a table, one practice remains the same.

Coffee.

Steaming cups, frothy milk, perfectly [or not so perfectly] pulled espresso shots, and a table. Not a table placed in the center of a dining room in a beautifully decorated home, but a table, in the middle of a coffee shop, used as a common place for people to meet – to gather around.

In fact, at this moment, I sit at a coffee shop in the Brussels airport, watching people gather together. Some, you can tell, are in a hurry, while others have stopped to linger, making the most of their international layover. But even in moments of the hustle and bustle of airport life, people still sit around a table – sharing words and coffees and moments together. *NOTE: I started writing this blog almost two years ago and I am, in fact, not sitting in the Brussels airport. Unfortunately.*

Community around the table can look different in various seasons and stages of life. But for me, in this season, “the table” is the corner comfy chair with the little wooden coffee table in front of it. It’s gathering and connecting over our commonalities, even if the only thing we have in common is the steaming drink that sits in front of us.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve showed up at a coffee shop, normally earlier than planned, meeting someone for the first time. Though to some this may seem intimidating (and honestly, I still feel this way sometimes), there is something beautiful and life giving about hearing someone’s story, coffees being sipped, and nothing known in common other than the mugs in our hands.

Common ground. That’s what coffee is. It’s the leveling of expectations – stripping down our preconceptions and our fears – creating a space that allows us to get down to the basics. Whether conversation comes easily or if it takes work to get things moving, the vulnerability and courage displayed by simply showing up permeates through the noise around you.

I’ve always said the best conversations happen while sitting on the kitchen floor or driving on a road trip. But after the last few years, I may have one more to add to the list. Honestly, I think some of the best conversations I’ve had, either first meetings or with the oldest of friends, were experienced with mugs in hand. The steam somehow breaks down the barriers put up by unknown expectations or anticipation; removing the walls that so easily place themselves between words and meaningful conversations.

I know for myself, fear creeps into every aspect of life it can. The big and small things alike are all permeated with some level of fear or the anticipation that accompanies it. As it’s something that has been more present in the last few years, I’ve also been much more aware of fear’s ability to impact my life in significant ways. So, you would think the thought of meeting someone I don’t know, in a coffee shop I may not have been to before, to probably make some sort of small talk (which I often dread), would terrify me; to the point that I would use any and every excuse to avoid such event. And to be honest, often times it does. But you know what, acknowledging that, yet stepping out anyway is not only empowering, but rewarding beyond measure.

There’s something about that table, in that random coffee shop, with that piping hot coffee in your hands that screams out “bold” – on both sides of the table. Because let’s be honest, the person sitting across from you is most likely feeling just about the same thing you are. But you know what, you both showed up. You both took bold steps forward – risking vulnerability and possible rejection, all for the sake of relationship and community. And suddenly, you’re both on the same page, at the same starting line, with the same goal in mind.

Relationship.

People going beyond the surface, the exterior, the façade, to truly engage with another human being on a level that is beautiful and God honoring. So many times, we place a big emphasis on “community”, as it’s something we all strive to have in our lives on multiple levels. However, I believe relationship with others, seeking and chasing after The Creator – individually and together – will naturally become “community”. It’s not something that needs to be accomplished, but instead becomes something we are able to experience because we are relentlessly pursuing the Lord together. And it may start with something as simple as boldly saying yes to the unknown waiting for you in that corner coffee shop.

So, whether or not you have a table in your home to gather people around, whether or not you feel as though you’re in a place to invite people in to your space, or whether your “table” is outside of the four walls you consider home, know that the place you find yourself is significant. Even if this is simply the coffee shop around the corner with the person God has placed in front of you, for such a time as this.

Rest in the fact that no matter where you find yourself, boldly stepping out to walk alongside someone else, pursing the Lord together, your “table” will meet you where you are. All you have to do is say yes – and order the coffee.

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need you more

Do you ever have those moments when you think back and wonder whether the last 3 months even happened?

Time seems to be passing more quickly than every before and months have gone by in the blink of an eye.

These last few months have been filled with transitions – work, home, church – but it’s been oh, so sweet. To think of where I was just three short months ago completely blows me away. How life can change before you even realize which way is up.

Work: I started working as an Outreach Coordinator for a small-ish, local non-profit that works to support individuals who support military service members and veterans. It’s been a learning curve working with a population I have little experience with, but it’s also opened my eyes to a new passion and interest. I even wrote my final paper of my undergrad on this topic. It’s definitely something I want to dig more into moving forward – both academically and professionally.

Home: I moved to a cute little apartment in a more central area of San Diego and I love it. As long as I’ve lived on my own, this is the first time I had my own space with roommates. Up to this point I’ve always lived with a family or couple, so it’s been fun making the space my own – although it has a LONG way to go. While I’m not home much, it’s nice to have a place to come back to everyday.

Church: Goodness, this has probably been the most unexpected piece – though I’m not sure why. Ever since moving to San Diego, I’ve been trying to find a church community to pour into and intentionally build community in. I started going to a church shortly after moving where I met some AMAZING friends and plugged into a small corner of the church community. I just never quite felt settled there – which looking back was probably  preparation for the change and transitions coming throughout the following months (or year, really). My attendance was scattered and I never fully invested myself there. After a series of moves all over the county and some time of reflection and prayer – I decided to go back to that church up north and DIVE IN. I’m an all or nothing kind of person, and I finally just decided I need to be all in. I’ve only been back about a month-and-a-half, but I’m so thankful to be there.

Y’all, that’s really just the tip of the iceberg. The Lord has been doing amazing things. He’s been revealing things to me that I’ve been oblivious to or avoiding for longer than I’d like to admit. I’m seeing Him do beautiful things in the lives of my friends, my family, and the church community I’m surrounded by. I’ve never been one to journal or consistently write, but I’ve felt prompted to write these moments down. I want to be able to look back and see EXACTLY what HE was doing all along.

There will be much more to come as I continue to move through this season of putting down roots. It’s something I’ve never really done before. But oh, how sweet it is.

I pray that HIS will is done. That HE will be in each and every moment. In each decision. That HIS glory is revealed. In HIS timing.

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happier

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen that I have started a new, somewhat-crunchy, business venture. I’ve been a fairly avid user of essential oils for the last several years as I’ve heard more and more friends rant and rave about them. Over the last several months I’ve become increasingly interested in integrating them into my daily life and have decided to jump in, feet first, 150%.

I know a lot of people are still skeptical of essential oils, and I must admit, there are moments when I’m in the same boat. I grew up in a medically-focused household and grew up submersed in the less “natural” treatments associated with modern medicine. Do not get me wrong, those STILL HAVE A PLACE in my life and always will. I will never argue with that – ever. On the other hand, if there are ways that I can naturally enhance my health, I am also 200% on board with that. I’ve heard so many stories about the ways essential oils have supported positive health in a multitude of situations all across the world.

For this reason, and many more, I have decided to jump on the essential oil train. If you’ve been thinking about trying out essential oils, I would love to talk with you more about how to make that possible. Young Living’s Premium Starter Kit is LITERALLY the BOMB. You get SO MUCH STUFF for a killer price. It’s actually insane. While it’s definitely still an investment, it is more than worth your while. The ways it can enhance your health and support your body in a natural way is INSANE.

Feel free to email, message, snail mail, or holla at me if you have more questions, need clarification, or decide you want to jump on the essential oil trail with me. If you’re ready to dive in, you can order your premium starter kit here – just make sure you choose the wholesale option so you can take advantage of 24% off the retail price of oils (because duh, why wouldn’t you want to do that!?). Ordering this starter kit will also make you a Happy Oiler and gets you access to an amazing support system and discussion board to answer all of your oily questions. ALSO, I’m offering $20 back when you order a starter kit until SUNDAY AT MIDNIGHT (March 12). More product for even less – how could you even go wrong? ;)

You can follow along with this craziness on my new Instagram, @elisabethmichalessentials where I’ll be sharing my daily routines, specific uses for the most common (and my favorite) oils, as well as some exciting giveaways and incentives that I promise you won’t want to miss.

Y’all have supported me through some crazy life changes, new cities, new jobs, and everything in between – and I cannot thank you enough for it. So here we go with the next phase of the journey, it’s bound to be an adventure :)

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no excuses

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I have finally done it.

I’ve somehow managed to read book after book for the last year or so. Normally, while I’m in school, reading for enjoyment is pushed to the very far back burner that barely even exists. I can never bring myself to focus on a book when all I do each day is read a bunch of information from a textbook that I can’t seem to care less about.

However, I’ve somehow been able to keep myself going with the momentum that comes from finishing one book and picking up another. It doesn’t help that Amazon just keeps sending me all these new books… They really need to get that looked at…

I’ve had a lot of people ask me what’s on my book list these days, so I thought I’d make a big ol’ master list so I can also keep track of what books I’ve read. If I’ve read the book, I’ll add it to my “already read” list with a little description and what I thought about it in general. Then on the “next up” list I’m going to keep adding what books Amazon will most likely send me next. (Amazon is an enabler – and I don’t hate it.) I’d also love any and all suggestions that you may have for my “next up” list. I’m always looking for books that other people have read and love. Let’s see if I can keep this momentum going – I may need a few more book shelves.

COMPLETED

  • The Wounded Healer by Henri Nouwen // This book got me hooked on Henri Nouwen’s writing. My dear friend Riley suggested it when I originally wanted to get back into reading regularly, and it did not disappoint. It speaks to one’s ability to minister to and be in community with those around them through mutual hurt and struggle. One must recognize the heart in their own heart before they can speak into the lives of others, but at the same time, it’s a common foundation which to build a relationship upon. Again, highly recommend this one – it’s full of beautiful truths and hard challenges.
  • Garden City by John Mark Comer // I heard so many good things about this book before I ever picked it up. It was definitely an interesting read that made me actively think and process throughout the whole thing. It poses interesting and uncommon perspectives surrounding work and rest. It’s definitely something I would recommend to anyone.
  • Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl // Guys, I literally read this book in 10 hours. I COULD NOT put it down. I sat on the porch ALL day and just flipped from page to page. Now, as I say that, let me also preface this with saying it’s a very heavy read. It’s not necessarily a hard read, but it’s full of some of the most difficult trials anyone could ever experience. I’d honestly like to read it again to pick out more nuggets that I missed the first time around. Let’s just say that half of the book is covered with yellow highlighter. It speaks so eloquently to the strength, perseverance, and meaning that can be achieved only through struggles and trials.
  • Unreasonable Hope by Chad Veech // I had high expectations when I started to read this book about Chad and his wife’s struggles with their girl, Georgia, who developed a disorder that has affected every aspect of her life and theirs. I love books that are based on life stories and the lessons that are learned through the trials. While it was a good book that displayed the strength and challenges endured by this family, it fell a little short for me. And to be completely honest, it’s probably because I read it right after Man’s Search For Meaning, which is why it seemed to fall a little flat.
  • If You Find This Letter by Hannah Brencher // I’ve been following Hannah’s organization, More Love Letters for years now; from before I ever really knew what it was or why it was stared. Hannah is someone who you can always count on to be honest, yet encouraging and motivating. Someone who lives and breathes for others, but preaches the need to take care of one’s self – even when that seems impossible. Her book walks through her experience in New York City, working for a large non-profit, and the hobby she built encouraging strangers through the writing of letters. She’s one of those people I dream of sitting down for coffee with, just talking and dreaming and speaking life to each other. Let me know if you’re ever in San Diego, Hannah ;) You’ll probably also want to check out her blog here.
  • The Inner Voice of Love by Henri Nouwen // I love everything Nouwen writes. That’s something I discovered early on this year. However, this may be my favorite that I’ve read so far. I don’t even think that I could explain it, so all I’m going to say is GO READ IT NOW.
  • If You Feel Too Much by Jamie Tworkowski // Where do I even start with this book. It is another one I read through in less than 24 hours. I could not put it down. I actually wrote a whole blog post about this book, so you can just head there for a full recap. I also suggest getting the new extended version, which I have yet to read.
  • The Road Back to You by Ian Morgan Cr0n // If you know me at all, I’ve probably mentioned the Enneagram to you. I might be even more obsessed with this personality indicator than the Myers-Briggs one – and that’s saying something. I was originally introduced to the Enneagram while I was living in Uganda a few years ago and it helped me understand so much about my life, personality, and natural tendencies. It’s as if the simple description not only smacked me across the face, but also allowed me to understand the inner workings of my thoughts and the reasons behind them. All that to say, this book is a great resource for those who are interested in the Enneagram. It describes the whole thing in detail, yet in a way that is understandable and applicable. It goes thorough each number (to all the sixes out there, you’re in good company) and describes some background on not only the thought processes and typical actions of each number group, but it also provides more info about where some of your concerns are and how you can spiritually strengthen certain areas of struggle in your life. Full disclosure: I’ve only read the intro and my number group. So I’m excited to dig in and learn more about each personality type.
  • This Momentary Marriage by John Piper // I assure you, this book is killer whether you’re married, engaged, or single. His main theme throughout the book is comparing earthly marriage to the relationship between Christ and his bride, the church. While the verse can get repetitive throughout the book, I think it’s needed. We so often lose what the biblical intention of marriage is – which is evident in our society today. This book described certain aspects of marriage and the relationship between a husband and wife in a way that I had never thought of before. I definitely recommend this to anyone and everyone.
  • Wreck My Life by Mo Isom // Guys, Mo killed it. Like, wow. That girl has a crazy testimony and I love hearing it again and again. While I knew aspects of her story before I read the book, it’s so beautifully written that it draws you in and captivates you from the start. She has journeyed from broken to bold and her book paints a beautiful picture of God’s redemption. There are few people who have made me laugh harder than Mo, and I loved seeing glimpses of that in her writing. Do yourself a favor and pick this up for every athlete you know. Oh, and everyone else, too. Also, you can check out her blog here.
  • When I Don’t Desire God by John Piper // John Piper, man, his books have a way of punching me in the gut while teaching me so much. This book speaks to the ways we can cultivate joy in our everyday life, even if it’s not what we automatically feel. It’s real good. You should also check out the podcasts of his sermons, while you’re at it.
  • The Knowledge of the Holy by A. W. Tozer // This book is packed with the characteristics of God, what he roots himself in, and how he acts towards us. It takes some effort to read, but I tend to think that’s a good thing. I would read one chapter at a time, soaking up as much as I could. It’s one that I’ll definitely revisit multiple times.
  • The Faith of Christopher Hitchens by Larry Alex Taunton // This one was one of the most fascinating books I read all year. It was a recommendation from Keary’s dad (and his book recommendations are always 200% reliable) and it hooked me in and held my attention throughout. It’s about the relationship between a Christian and a self-proclaimed atheist (and maybe one of the most popular atheist of our time) – describing many of the differences of opinion, but also a common longing to know and understand more about a Greater Being. It’s a fascinating read.
  • The Circle Maker/Draw the Circle by Mark Batterson // These books, they’ve been such a cool part of my story over the last few years and I’ve seen it be the same in other’s lives. The Circle Maker describes an old story about Honi, a man who boldly stepped out, declaring that he would not leave the circle he drew in the sand until God brought down rain in the middle of a drought. He fell to his knees and boldly approached the throne on behalf of his people, praying for the rain they desperately needed. As you can imagine, the rain came and the story became a legend. The book then goes on to describe other’s bold prayers and God’s amazing answers – even when they happen in His timing and not theirs. Draw the Circle is a 30-Day devotional that is based upon The Circle Maker book and is a guide for praying boldly and praying often. I’ve gone through it twice and wouldn’t be surprised if I end up going through it again. I would highly recommend both books.
  • The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne // Goodness, this book still has me thinking. It’s a lot to absorb, but it’s also very well written. It’s a longer book, but you’re able to understand the heart and mind behind the things that Claiborne has done over the years. I’m still processing everything I read and how I can apply it and react in my own life, actions, and behaviours. I definitely recommend reading this book at some point in your life. It will give you a perspective that is most likely completely different than your own.
  • The Grandeur and Misery of Man by David Roberts // This is another thinking book. While it’s beautifully written and easy to read, it’s stuffed full of thoughts and insights that are not often spoken about today. We tend to glaze over certain (read: many) things and this book addresses so many biblical things that speak to the nature and character of God and how that plays out in our lives. I think I highlighted half of the book. It’s definitely one I want to go back and read through again. It’s not an easy book to find, but if you can get one, snatch it up real quick.
  • Forgotten God by Francis Chan // While this book is an “easy” read, it definitely makes you think. I started this book MONTHS ago, and finally pulled it out to finish it recently. Oddly enough, the timing was perfect because we are doing a summer series at church about the Fruits of the Spirit. This tied perfectly into the backbone of how the Spirit produces fruit in us. This book had some great nuggets that made me think and was a good reminder for things I often forget.
  • Through the Eyes of a Lion by Levi Lusko // To be completely honest, this book was sitting in a pile for MONTHS. I had heard great things about it, but other books took priority in my mind and there it continued to sit. I decided to open in approximately 36 hours ago and finished it this morning. Let’s just say, it held my attention. If anyone knows me, you know my deep love for the book of 1 Peter. Call me weird and crazy, but I LOVE the description of suffering “with Christ”, but even more so, the redemption and testimony that comes with walking through fire. This book encapsulated that very concept through a very real, walking-through-the-trenches experience. I definitely suggest picking up this book – and be sure not to let it sit too long before you crack open the cover.

NOTE: I included a link to each of the books on Amazon. I always look for a used version there first, but sometimes the new copy is the best option. I tend to buy all my books because I mark them up and highlight like crazy – so that just works best for me.

IN PROCESS

  • Knowing God by J. I. Packer // This book comes highly recommended, so I’m looking forward to diving in. I’ve read the first two pages and I’m already intrigued. Stay tuned.

NEXT UP

  • Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke
  • All Things C. S. Lewis
  • Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
  • The Pursuit of God by A. W. Tozer
  • If You Feel Too Much: The Extended Edition
  • Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

So, here’s my somewhat complete list from the last year. I’m sure there are some I’m missing and will add them as I remember. If you have any book recommendations, PLEASE send them my way. Pretty much every book on this list was suggested by someone – it’s my version of quality control. Text me, email me, leave a comment on this post, beep me, snail mail me, or, if you must, send it via telegram or carrier pigeon. I will accept all forms of communication.

I’ve also turned into a Rory Gilmore in terms of how many books I carry with me and how heavy my purse is at all times. But really, at the end of the day, I just call it an arm workout. Win-win.

My goal is to keep up this habit of picking up book after book. It really helps if you pair the book with a hot cup of coffee and a roaring fire or an iced coffee and a front porch, depending on the thermostat reading. I hear there’s a 96% success rate that way. Trust me.

“Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.” – Lemony Snicket

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26 for 26

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To continue with the tradition after “25 from 25“, I give you 26 things I want to do, experience, or focus on in the year to come. Who even knows what will is to come in the next 365 days, but it is sure to be an unpredictable journey. Here’s to the next year of continued traditions and new experiences.

  1. Travel more. There’s so much of this country and world that I’ve yet to see.
  2. Also, let’s start with the PNW, cause that place looks like the dream.
  3. Buy more coffee brewing equipment. I will get that Chemex this year.
  4. Be more intentional with friendships and connecting with friends who live hundreds of miles away. I think this will be on my list every year.
  5. I would say drink more coffee, but I’m not sure that’s even possible at this point. I feel like I’ve kept this up pretty well to this point. Always room for improvement ;)
  6. I’m going to attempt the surfing and snowboarding goals again this coming year, because I didn’t do so well at those last year… Well, I got on a stand-up paddle board and floundered for a while. And I got a whole lot more comfortable in the water. So, I’ll take that as a partial win.
  7. Continue to explore this city I find myself living in. There are still many unknown and undiscovered areas to find. Slowly chipping away at this one. Yet the list keeps growing…
  8. You know that big exciting project I was excited for in 2016, let’s move that to the 2017 list.
  9. Also, about taking more pictures…let’s add “get a new lens for my camera so I’m excited to take pictures again” to this list.
  10. Cook more. Gather more people around the table and cook for them and with them. That’s when my heart comes most alive.
  11. Start playing a sport again. I miss the teamwork and comradery that comes with that.
  12. Try more local restaurants. This place has some of the best around and I’ve been to embarrassingly few of them.
  13. Visit Australia. This will be the year. IT HAS TO BE.
  14. Continue to read often. I want to keep up this habit I’ve picked up over the last year.
  15. Go to Stone Brewery more. Because pretzels and brussel sprouts.
  16. Also, learn more low carb options of all the carb filled foods. Because that kind of feels like Christmas to the two T1Ds in the house.
  17. Make it to Fresno more often. How am I so close, yet so far?
  18. Play games more often. The sound of laughter in the midst of competitiveness is the best thing.
  19. Stop overthinking things. And by that I mean try to overthink things less. And by that I mean just start chiseling away at that monumental task.
  20. Explore the options when it comes to grad school. Who knows where that may lead…
  21. Work on hand-letting and graphic design more. I need to spend more time learning what I enjoy.
  22. See snow for more than 12 hours at a time. My soul comes alive in the snow.
  23. Invest more money in quality items and less money on things that aren’t sustainable or needed.
  24. See more of California.
  25. Focus more on my writing. I haven’t done nearly enough of that in the last 12 months.
  26. Enjoy 2017. There’s beauty and pain and redemption everywhere I look. See it, notice it, remember it. The pain makes the redemption that much more beautiful.

So as 2017 comes to be, as new resolutions and goals are set, let us remember that each day is fresh and new – as are His mercies. Treat each day as such, as a blank slate with the beautiful opportunity ahead of us to make Him GREATER.

Photo by Christina Jean Photography.

25 from 25

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Last year I wrote a blog around this time called “24 from 24” and then “25 for 25” (which I’ve updated with how well I accomplished this list). I thought I’d continue the tradition and write down 25 experiences/lessons from the year of 25.

It’s been a crazy year, to put it lightly. So many life changes, home changes, school changes, and every kind of transition that comes alongside those changes. It was an unforgettable year, to say the least. It will be one that I won’t soon (if ever) forget and one I want to treasure for years (and through more transitions) to come. So here we go.

  1. Let’s just start with the fact that 2016 is over. HOW DID THAT EVEN HAPPEN!?
  2. This year I saw God work in the most beautiful ways – amidst the pain and confusion and hurt, He brings redemption to the trails we face.
  3. I also saw some of my best friends arrive home with their two kiddos. Gosh, what an emotional and beautiful experience.
  4. Not only that, but I get to see those kiddos each and every day as they learn and grow and change. How they keep growing up, I don’t even know. TIME, PLEASE SLOW DOWN!
  5. Can we just talk about Lake Tahoe real quick? I mean, come on.
  6. I went camping for the first time in YEARS and quickly remembered how much peace comes with living simply in the middle of nowhere. Even while sleeping on the ground in 40 degree weather.
  7. It turns out that when you live in SoCal, you do in fact come to enjoy the rain. It’s kind of dreamy.
  8. I actually kept up with my reading this year. I think I read more books in 2016 than any other year in my life. I never thought I’d see the day.
  9. Life is starting to feel more and more normal in San Diego. It’s crazy what a year can do.
  10. I found a community I love, and I’m beyond thankful for that.
  11. Guys, I actually went ice skating, in San Diego. Dreams do come true.
  12. I learned so much about Type 1 Diabetes this year – more than I ever thought I’d know in my lifetime. I’m thankful for friends who take the time to let me peak into their daily life – with all the struggles and HOPE that each day brings.
  13. When you live with those referenced in #12, you also realize how much of a staple cauliflower rice is. Thank you Trader Joe’s. That’s all I have to say.
  14. Speaking of Trader Joe’s, can we talk about their $6 champagne. Yeah, it’s real and it’s amazing.
  15. Coffee. I successfully consumed a ridiculous amount of coffee. And I’m not even mad about it.
  16. I’ve never been to the post office as many times as I have this year. EVER. In my whole life.
  17. I also never thought I’d be able to look at a box, weigh it, and basically know how much it will cost to ship it almost everywhere in the world. That’s just taking up unnecessary brain space.
  18. I just want to mention Stone Brewery’s pretzels and brussel sprouts again. Because I literally dream about them at night.
  19. Persevering through the most difficult of trials build character and stress – all at the same time. But I wouldn’t trade any of it.
  20. Is there a program for those who struggle with buying too many used books on Amazon? Asking for a friend…
  21. Sitting on the beach at sunrise and sunset, watching people surf and reading, might be one of the most peaceful things one can experience.
  22. Ballast Point Watermelon Dorado Double IPA. I’ll just leave that there.
  23. It turns out that iPhones can bend. Even when you have no idea how.
  24. I think I’m more of a country girl than I ever thought I was. I do love city life, but I love being able to retreat to the wide open space at the end of the day.
  25. Again, how is 2016 over already? I DON’T UNDERSTAND.

What a year it was, and this doesn’t even begin to describe everything that happened this year. Maybe one day I’ll have the words to explain it all, but right now words of any kind escape me. It was hard, it was rewarding, it was beautiful, and it was filled with trials – but redemption is seen through each step, you just have to take note of it. I’m still figuring out what that looks like and I think it will be a lifelong process.

But if not, He is still good.

Photo by Christina Jean Photography.

before it’s too late

If you asked me about Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) two years ago, I would have been able to give you some facts and considered myself fairly “knowledgable” about the disease. Oh, how wrong I was.

While I knew so many of the facts, it’s the lived experience that makes it real. I’ve lived side-by-side, doing everyday life, day in and day out, with two people who consider this disease part of their “normal”. Not there’s much of a “normal” once your pancreas kicks the bucket.

While T1D is manageable when caught, there are FAR too many lives lost due to misdiagnosis or completely missed WARNING SIGNS. Most individuals wouldn’t be able to tell you the signs & symptoms that lead to diagnosis and this NEEDS to change. I remember the exact place I was sitting when I found out Keary was diagnosed. No one should ever have to experience those feelings of complete panic and terror. She was diagnosed less than an hour away from death. It’s a miracle she’s even here today.

This PSA is inspired by true events. These are not paid actors…they are survivors, both diagnosed hours from death. We poured our HEARTS into this project.

Watch. Share. Know the WARNING SIGNS.

It just might save you or your loved one’s life…before it’s too late.

Backstories and a full list of warning signs at www.BeforeItsTooLate.info. 

living proof

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I’ve been thinking a lot about the expectations society so clearly deems as “normal”. It’s no secret that there’s a certain code that everyone is to abide by as well as specific milestones that each individual is expected to meet throughout their lifetime. We are expected to fit inside a box society deems as acceptable and “normal”.

Now, I’m not talking about the milestones set for physical development or intellectual processing, but instead the milestones that have somehow been deemed as expected upon reaching a certain age or season of life. Whether we acknowledge it or not, it guides our thinking, processing, expectations, goals, actions, attitudes, and ultimately how we live our day-to-day life.

I’ve never really been one to conform. While I’m a self-confessed people pleaser, this trait has very seldom caused me to change my opinions, fold into unneeded pressure, or rethink the God nudges that have been so evident, but a little crazy, in my life. I’ve always been strong-willed (my mom would go one step further and call me “spirited”) and able to hold my own amongst the critics telling me otherwise. However, it’s been more apparent to me lately that my life looks vastly different than most people at the same stage of life as me. I wouldn’t call it better or worse than “normal”, simply different. I’ve been so wrapped up in everyday life, just pushing forward in the millions of things I have going on each day, that I didn’t have time to step back and really evaluate my life compared to those surrounding me.

While my greatest mistake may have been looking around me when I finally had a few moments to slow down, it impacted me more than I would have imagined. My life hasn’t lined up with those aforementioned milestones or goals that are viewed as the “norm” for most of society.

I dropped out of the degree program I started right out of high school.

I moved twelve hours away on a prayerfully considered whim.

I travelled to Uganda where I ended up living and working for almost two years.

I reenrolled in a different program and started working on my degree, slowly, online.

I returned from Uganda, travelled a whole ton, and powered through school.

I moved to San Diego to serve some of my best friends and have a job I love.

I finally graduated with my degree, which was oddly anticlimactic.

I still don’t have a car, since I sold mine before I moved to Uganda.

I don’t have a house or a perfectly curated home or a job that perfectly matches with my degree.

As I slowed down and started looking to those around me, I realized how my life doesn’t meet the standards that are set for my age. While I have more life experience than many people at the “same life stage”, there are so many places that I feel inadequate or behind. Like I’m trying to play catch-up because my life path was completely different than I expected. But I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I was able to do things that people only dream of. I was able to meet people that I never would have crossed paths with if I had continued on in my original program. I moved to a city that was completely new to me, and while I still feel like I’m settling in, I absolutely love it.

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So maybe I don’t have the perfect car or the perfect house or the job people would expect me to. So maybe I don’t fit into the typical “norm” that so many people live their life for. So what?

I’m determined to stop questioning my decisions, answering questions on my tip-toes, not knowing how someone is going to react to my unconventional choices. I may not be searching for the job that perfectly fits with my degree, but I’m 150% sure I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. Whether people understand that or not, whether they agree with me or not, I’m learning to be perfectly fine with just that.

Will I automatically stop looking to those around me for validation? Absolutely not – I’m human. Will I continue to boldly chase after our Creator, tripping and falling daily? I’m going to try my best every damn time – because the Gospel is real, and is the basis for my entire existence.

So no matter what society says is “normal”, dare to march forward on the path you are confident of – even if you’re the only one there. The Gospel is messy, it’s hard, and it’s painful – but it’s nothing if you’re not willing get in the trenches; whether you’re shoulder-to-shoulder with the person next to you, or completely on your own. We weren’t put on this earth to be comfortable, we were put here to serve the One who loved us first – to love because He first loved us. And in that there is joy unlike anything we could ever imagine.

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