September Heart to Heart

Hello friend. How are you handling all things pumpkin and apples? Honestly, I am just not quite there yet. I know, I really need to get it together or it will be winter before I am finally able to admit its fall. I don’t know why I am having such a hard time, I love fall, my brain just wont catch up with my heart I guess.

Anyway, lets catch up about September shall we?

The Highs

Besties from B-lo

Our best friends Mariah and Ty were in town for a weekend visit with his family and we had the freaking amazing honor of spending a whole day with them. My heart was overflowing guys. You know that feeling of home you just have with certain people? The easy, the peace, the laughter? It’s just so sweet.

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Class is in

I am back in the classroom and LOVING it! Seriously, being a student again is exhilarating. I know it sounds like and exaggeration, but I literally (really literally) was on a cloud for every minute of that 8 hour class day.

Metal Madness

I was dragged privileged to join my hubby for a metal show in Clifton. A band called Convictions headlined, and even though I have zero authority in this arena, they put on a great show. I can’t say I have become a metalhead, but it was definitely a unique experience I am glad to have tried it once.

‪We are going live on Facebook tonight @10! Come hang out! ‬

A post shared by C O N V I C T I O N S (@convictionsrock) on

Last Wedding of the Season

A long time friend of Hubby’s tied the knot just this past weekend. It’s been a while since we attended a wedding as nothing but guests, so we had a great relaxed, reconnected time. IMG_1719

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Everything about the wedding was absolutely beautiful. Honestly they are two of the most beautiful people, all around really.  We could not be happier for the new Mr. and Mrs.

 

New projects!

This month I started a few exciting new things. At the risk of being annoying, I think I am going to wait to tell you more until they make a bit more progress. (If you look closely you may spot one of them!)

The Lows

Last day at the beach

Okay so this is a low high. I was able to sneak away for one last day at my favorite place in the world. High because I didn’t think I was going to get that closure day and, its the beach! Low because its always hard to say goodbye to my sweet spot until next year.IMG_1185

What I Read

Rising Strong by Brené Brown

“The physics of vulnerability is simple: If we are brave enough often enough, we will fall. The author of Daring Greatly and The Gifts of Imperfection tells us what it takes to get back up, and how owning our stories of disappointment, failure, and heartbreak gives us the power to write a daring new ending” (Goodreads)

Brené Brown is truly a gift to my heart. I have never listened to her speak or read her work without gaining incredible and crucial insight. Seriously I would read her grocery list. I will admit, I tried to listen to this one on audio, and had to stop so I could get my hands on the actual book. There was just so much I needed to stop and listen to over again so I could process (in the best way) which is not really the best thing to do while operating a vehicle.

So, besides teaching me how to recover from failure, Brené also helped me decide that audiobooks will now exclusively be fiction or memoir from this point forward.


The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

“Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.” (Goodreads)

This was the first in my newly declared fiction/memoir only audio and it was an excellent start. Timely, engaging and eye opening. Challenging and serious but not overwhelming.


Joy Unspeakable by Martin Lloyd-Jones

“. . .a classic call to submit afresh to the Spirit for power, purity and assurance, while keeping our heads in the face of pitfalls that might distract or ensnare us.” (Goodreads)

Full disclosure, Joy Unspeakable was required reading for the class I am taking, and I am so glad. Lloyd-Jones ministered in the early to mid 1900’s, which is reflected in his writing style, but the book is a classic for a reason. Honestly, it is so relevant to my own church experience and maybe yours as well. I found my soul challenged, comforted, encouraged, and inspired. If your curious about the Holy Spirit, make this a first stop.

What I Watched

Vietnam Ken Burns

Would you be surprised at all if I told you that Hubby and I were majorly geeking out over this one? We were seriously counting down for it all summer. This picture was taken 2 months ago and excitedly texted to Hubby so we would not miss it. IMG_1001 Ken Burns is the documentary king, and he did not disappoint.

Atypical 

THIS SHOW IS SO GOOD! A Netflix original that details the life of a teenager with high functioning autism and his family, it will absolutely have you laughing and crying and thinking and learning in every single episode. Watch it, watch it right now.

What I Listened To

Chance the Rapper, always killing it.

Some Things I Loved

I was too excited to get pictures, but Wegmans opened ten minutes away from where we live. My own little piece of Buffalo right in my backyard. How sweet it is!

What I am Looking Forward to

We have got some fun weekends ahead of us. Hubby and I will be speaking at a conference this weekend in New Hampshire. Then we have a visit to Little Rhody (one of my absolute favorite places) with my brother and sister in law (some of my absolute favorite people)!

Un-Masking

Honesty.

Vulnerability.

Authenticity.

We hear these words thrown around quite a bit. Maybe it’s just in my world, but I am guessing if you stop by these parts they are in your world as well. Maybe, like me, they are values you hold in high regard, values you seek to embody.

I don’t want to give you another post about how the world needs YOU, the authentic you. I don’t want to spend too much time reminding you (and me) that all your vulnerable places are beautiful, or that your vulnerability brings freedom, that it shakes the world up. I don’t want to go on for paragraphs about how the only way to be fully known and embraced by others and by God is for you to invite them in to embrace your true self, all the dirt and grit and flowers of it. (Okay, when I say I don’t want too, that is not true, I want to, I could go on for days really. But I am pretty sure you know all this already.)

What I want to do, is be honest with you about something I have seen in myself, maybe something within you too.

It almost seems like vulnerability is trendy right now doesn’t it?  We wear our flaws like badges of honor, present them on instagram with clever captions and a funny photo. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ll take it. I would much rather live in a world where it is okay to be flawed, to be broken and human and share in that with others than a world that insists on shaming our imperfections and hiding. Also I don’t dare believe we have this vulnerability thing down, there is still a long way to go.

But I have noticed something… slimy, sneaky, ugly, in me as vulnerability becomes the cool thing. I guess you could call it a new mask, one with just the right amount of manipulation to make it stick real well. As I sit here trying to put a name to it, I can think of no better way to put it than to say that the very thing I seek to be has become a mask itself.

“Hello, I am Megan and I hide behind vulnerability and honesty.”

“But that’s a contradiction Meg, how can that possibly be?”

Well, have you ever found yourself being just vulnerable enough, just honest enough, just authentic enough. You know, just enough that the people around you are impressed by your “bravery” that they wouldn’t believe that there is any more to the story because “look at how raw that was?”

Like when I talk about how I struggle with body image. That is authentic and real, and it sure takes bravery to be honest about it. But often I will digress into all the ways the world imposes rigid beauty standards and all these other lofty things that are true, but I won’t tell you about the things that I think of myself when I am having a down day, I won’t reach out to you for help when I am at a particularly low moment. But you see, I was vulnerable enough back there that you wouldn’t think twice that there is more to the story, because I am “so vulnerable” that I would have told you on my own right?

That is only one of a million examples.

My thoughts on this might surprise you. Maybe it just surprises me because I am an all or nothing kind of gal. See, I don’t think the answer is to go wild with vulnerability, to share all your deepest darkest with the whole world. I think that the “vulnerable enough” place is not all bad. I think that “vulnerable enough” still shifts things, it still pushes the bigger picture in the right direction, you know? Also, I believe there is something to be said for sacredness and safety. The real point of all these ramblings is to encourage self awareness, to make me (and hopefully you too) recognize the places where you are choosing “just enough” when you should be going wild crazy all the way real. The world of social media or every person you have a conversation with may not be safe for all the depths of your honesty, but I am willing to bet there are a handful of people who are.

Don’t hold back on them.

Choose reckless vulnerability before them. Choose telling the personal, ugly, shameful, details of your hurts. Choose walking with them through the unfinished process, not just the hard moments you have wrapped up on your own. Choose bringing the dark places to light with them.

You know what else, chose to be that safe person. Free your closest to be in process. Let them make mess of your shoulder with sloppy wet tears. Let them rejoice over victories big and small.

Take that mask off friend, the air out there sure is sweet.

August Heart to Heart

I am still really struggling to admit it, but the truth remains, it is September. The struggle has been so real, its 11 days in to September🤦🏻‍♀️. August came and went in a big old blur.  Did it for you too? Though the cold mornings have been creeping in, I am not ready to trade my iced coffee for all the pumpkin things just yet. So I am going to tell you all about August from under a blanket while stubbornly sipping an ice cold coffee.

The Highs

Welcome to New Jersey

We had the best kind of busy this month with so many visitors!
First we welcomed some dear hoosier friends. We served alongside Conner in ministry a few years back and though Kristin has always felt like a great friend, this was the first time we were able to meet face to face!

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IMG_1105.JPGThe following weekend we had a sweet couple days with other dear friends from New Hampshire. We cherish every minute with Daniel and Natalie. They are the kind of people that make you feel right at home and let you breathe deep you know? They also the kind of people you have wacky pool competitions with.

Then to top it all of, we had the privilege of hosting miss Kinsley Marie after her first road trip! Mom, Dad, sister, brother, baby. My heart friends. Isn’t there something so sweet about sharing your places with the people you love who aren’t in that place with you? Does that even make sense? Regardless, it was so so good.

IMG_0785Not update update, she still loves her Uncle Bobby.IMG_0794
I dare you not to laugh at her mohawk, and the face though!IMG_5441
Her little legs never stop kicking out of the water, so you know she had a blast kicking away in the pool.

 She is the sweetest friends. Just a little love bug. But for the sake of authenticity, you know you cant always just get love and cuddles, sometimes you get a little bit of this mixed in.

Greetings from Michigan

At the end of the month we cashed in on an incredible Christmas gift from the Hubby’s parents with a week vacation to Lake Michigan. Stunning does not even cover it. We reconnected with family, we dreamed, we kayaked, we learned Euchre, and someone (me) bought a souvenir shirt that says “great lakes, unsalted and sharlkess.” yes, you are reading that right.

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The Lows

Hmm. . .

It was a busy month, but overall it was great. The one low I can think of seems to occur every year around the last week of August. An already wild and unstructured summer schedule seems to just go totally bonkers in that last week, anyone else? Honestly I get to the end of my rope with inconsistency by then so it feels like a punch to the gut. But if thats the worst thing August could throw at me I am in pretty good shape.

What I Read

 Hunger – Roxane Gay

I ate and ate and ate in the hopes that if I made myself big, my body would be safe. I buried the girl I was because she ran into all kinds of trouble. I tried to erase every memory of her, but she is still there, somewhere. . . . I was trapped in my body, one that I barely recognized or understood, but at least I was safe.

So many emotions over this one. Roxane tells her story with such jarring and beautiful honesty. She walks in the tension of having grace for her body, yet wanting to change, embracing her story and the struggles she faces because of it, but also seeking to overcome. Roxanne definitely doesn’t hand you easy answers, but sets you up well to think for yourself.

 Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn

Lets not talk about how late I am to this party but OH MY GOSH THIS BOOK IS INSANE! I listened to it on audio, reached the first plot twist right before vacation and had to download it on my phone because I could not possibly wait a whole dang week. You know I watched the movie as soon as I finished! Get your hands on it for a captivating “for fun” read.

 The Boys in the Boat – Daniel James Brown

A synopsis from GoodReads “Daniel James Brown’s robust book tells the story of the University of Washington’s 1936 eight-oar crew and their epic quest for an Olympic gold medal, a team that transformed the sport and grabbed the attention of millions of Americans. The sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, the boys defeated elite rivals first from eastern and British universities and finally the German crew rowing for Adolf Hitler in the Olympic games in Berlin, 1936.”

The whole family listened to this on audio on our drive to Michigan (Edward Herman, aka grandpa on Gilmore Girls is the reader, and I for one would listen to him read an encyclopedia, he was made for it!) Its engaging, heart wrenching, and inspiring. We were all reading to take up rowing when we got home.

 Why Not Me – Mindy Kaling

Okay, I am going to be honest and say I didn’t love it. I am all about championing powerful women, and I appreciate Mindy’s honesty in some places, but in a lot of places I just wasn’t on her humor page. Still love her though.

 Woman Code -Alisa Vitti

Ladies, there is just so much to learn about our bodies. This book
1. Made me FURIOUS at the way women’s issues are handled in our culture and by standard medicine.
2. Made me sad that it wasn’t until my 26th year of life (and therefore roughly my 14th year of menstruating) that I got my hands on this information, and
3. inspired and encouraged me to know more about my body and work with it instead of against it. (If this interests you, I also highly suggest Taking Charge of Your Fertility)

What I Watched

Black Mirror – Again Hubby and I are late to the party, but we finally watched Black Mirror. I like to describe it as a modern take on “The Twilight Zone ” (but I have a feeling I got that description from someone else). If you want to be horrified about the future, empowered to live in the woods somewhere off the grid, and really think deeply about issues in our society, this is just the ticket.

The Mayweather v. McGreggor Fight.
We watched it, it felt like a cultural necessity. It was more interesting than I was anticipating. That is all.

What I Listened To

Andrew Belle – Dive Deep
Andrew Belle dropped a new album, and hubby and I are digging it.

Some Things I Loved

Cold Brew Pitcher
With my love of cold java can you believe it took me this long to invest in one of these? I used to make cold brew by steeping the beans and water in a big bowl than used filters or a cheese cloth and it was so. much. mess and so. much. time. This thing is amazing.

What I am Looking Forward to

Routine

See “the lows.”

Back to school

I am taking a class this year and we kick off on the 16th. I always say my dream job would be to get paid to be a student, so you know I am counting down. The class is called Empower at Alliance Theological Seminary and it is specifically for women in the church. I feel like the timing could not be better for me and I just feel GOd moving in it deep in my bones.

All. The. TV.

Call me a loser, but I am STOKED for all our TV shows to return for the season.

Being On Purpose

Maybe you have noticed things have been a little sparse around here. More Monday’s have passed without a post than I want to be honest with myself about (and I will just casually gloss over the fact that it is now Tuesday…) Oh and remember the good old days when I was posting workouts? That was a great five minutes wasn’t it?

Here we are at another week, and to be totally honest, I started writing feeling entirely uninspired. The idea of writing a post felt way more like an obligation than a joyful desire. I had a real urge to just say “screw it” again this week, to play the “oh well, how many people even notice” soundtrack in my head.

As the mind loop started, something in me decided to stop, slow down and ask myself a few things. Why am I feeling this way and what do I need to do about it?

You know what I realized? I have lost sight of the vision, have totally neglected the intention of this thing, and surprise surprise, chasing the wrong purpose has me tapped out.

I began this experiment with the purpose of exploring, processing, trying new things and sharing what lights my heart up. Somehow, over a short few months I have been treating this as though the goal was to be a “blogger” to find a niche and get myself in it. I have been treating it like the intention was to post for your approval, for your attention. I mean, sure, if there wasn’t any desire for this to help you somehow I wouldn’t be doing this thing publicly, but that intention to help and encourage got twisted into a desire for praise and “likes.”

This isn’t really about the blog though. It started there, but asking myself that why question made me realize just how critical setting (and sticking to) your intentions is.

News flash, life is freaking hard (she says with extreme sarcasm directed at herself). When we set out to do something, anything, there will be obstacles to overcome, decisions to make, and days when you just. don’t. wanna. In those moments, intentions guide you, they fill the gap.

When your purpose is clear, and that purpose is valuable to you, obstacles become much less daunting. Or, if you find those obstacles consistently being too much, perhaps that purpose is not valuable to you, then you know it’s time to think about making a change. Perhaps the whole endeavor should be scrapped, or like me, the obstacles feel overwhelming because the methods aren’t matching the purpose.

When your intentions are set, you can stand your options up against them, and make the choice for what lines up best. Should I stick to one specific niche on this blog? If my purpose is approval and blog-o-sphere success, absolutely. If my purpose is trying new things and sharing my passions, that doesn’t seem so important.

Clear intentions become the bootstraps you pull yourself up by on the “I don’t wanna” days. Like when I just would rather not work out, I remember the purpose is to be healthy in mind body and soul, so I can ask myself why. Why do you not wanna wittle baby girl? (Just kidding about the baby stuff, try to have compassion for yourself mmkay.) Am I just in a mood, or does my body need rest? If I am in a mood, skipping the lift sesh doesn’t meet my purpose, but if my body needs rest, you bet I am taking it because whole health is the point!

So I am going to ask you, what is your intention?

What is the intention in your friendship/dating relationship/marriage? Are you thinking about it in the middle of that argument? Are you fulfilling it?

What is your goal in your work? Is what you are doing and the way you go about it the best way?

What is the heart behind your side hustle? Does your effort ignite that flame?

What is the point of your faith/spirituality? Is your practice in alignment?

What are your health goals and why? Do you consider them when you chose a workout, or go grocery shopping?

I am going to get existential on you, brace yourself.
What is the intention of your life? Not the pieces that make up your life (like all the stuff up there), but the whole shebang? Do all those pieces align with that purpose?

You want in on my life purpose? I want to deeply love God and deeply love people. I want my life to be marked by authenticity, vulnerability, depth, and helpfulness.

So let’s bring it around shall we? I have been feeling self conscious about the all-over-the-place-ness of this blog, but the purpose is to explore and share what ignites passion in me, and you know what, that happens to be a whole bunch of all-over-the-place things. More importantly, in this season, doing the blog thing (when that purpose is squared up) is lined up with my life purpose. So, I will get myself back on track and keep on keeping on.

Bobby’s World – Heroes – Coach Taylor

I present to you Bobby’s World, monthly musings from the one and only Hubby!  A few months ago he introduced us to his Hero series. Check it out here is you want a little refresher.


 

“Are you talking about him, again?

The unexpected question instantly stopped my intense conversation. I was immediately flooded with a sense of guilt and shame, but I felt a surge of pride rise above it. I looked at my co-conspirator, whose eyes were looking down at his shoes. I puffed out my chest and responded to Megan’s question with a classic, “Yeah? What’s the big deal?”

My middle school retort was returned with a mighty one-liner, “I just don’t get it… he’s not even real.”

What a blow. I was staggering from her profound point of truth, coming to terms with the fact that she was right while simultaneously reaching for something quick to respond with. I settled for a weak parting shot; a soft, emotionally-charged, “Well… he’s real to me,” and I walked away before Megan could throw another sick burn at me.

First, let me say that this story is probably highly inaccurate, as it is told from my perspective which is often relived and retold in a highly embellished and romanticized fashion. Nonetheless, this is how I remember Megan calling me out for constantly talking about one of my most beloved heroes. Yes, I admit he is not real, but as stated earlier, “He’s real to me.”

And I am not alone in my admiration (or in my belief/hope in his actual existence) for this next hero. Here are the words of a few of my close friends in their description of the legendary Coach Eric Taylor.

“…he wants good things for other people. That’s not usually sincere, but it is with him…”

“…the way he puts others above himself…”

“…he’s a man of character. He holds fast and stands up for his principles even when it’s going to cost him or it’s uncomfortable… He’s not perfect, but the things he says and does show his compassion for others… I want to be a man like that…”

“Coach Taylor has the immeasurable talent of being able to make even the lowliest of football players feel like the biggest asset to the team… and the ability to look into the eye of the struggle and say, ‘I will come out on the other side a stronger and better person,’… He isn’t afraid to fight for what he believes in.”

With references like that, you don’t need a resume.

Coach Eric Taylor is the central character on NBC’s beloved series Friday Night Lights. For those of you who have not yet revelled in the glory of that which is FNL, go to Netflix right now and watch the pilot episode. Straight shekinah glory. If you don’t have the time, you can watch the trailer here, but I strongly recommend you make time to watch the first episode. I’ll see you in forty-five minutes.

The story of FNL focuses on the small town of Dillon, Texas and its high school football team in all its glory. For better or worse, the town revolves around football, making gods out of its players and a place of worship out of its high school stadium. The series is full of characters who are consistently faced by their own demons; escaping generational cycles of uneducation, fatherly abandonment, the allure of significance and success in sports, physical tragedies, romantic infidelity, questions of identity and feeling lost, and the seemingly unquenchable desire to flee the small town of Dillon. Amidst this small town bubble of conflict, chaos and football, Coach Eric Taylor steps in. He is the proverbial rock of his family, team and community at large.

For me, Coach Taylor is so mythic, so legendary, that it is almost impossible to describe what makes him who he is. Anyone who has watched FNL before knows exactly what I am talking about. I beg your forgiveness for my feeble attempt at trying to describe “Coach.”

Coach Taylor is the hard-nosed coach figure that seems to be of a bygone era. He has no problem setting a fire under his players with some well peppered “motivational” talk. (You can check out some of his most powerful quotes here) He’ll let you know when you’ve messed up, and you’ll be better for it. His standards are high, and if they’re not met… well, there’s always next season. And by standards, I mean physical as well as moral. Character and integrity are not an afterthought of his athletes, they are an uncompromising expectation. Even with the immense pressure of having to win games in order to keep his job, Coach continues to cultivate an unwavering ethos of total excellence that lifts up everyone around him. And for many of the young men that play for him, that is just the kind of man that they need in their lives.

Coach is a father to many fatherless boys, both physically abandoned and emotionally neglected. The Art of Manliness perhaps said it best;

Coach Taylor loved to win football games. But watching the young players he coached mature and develop into good, strong men gave him even more satisfaction. Coach Taylor knew that many of his young players looked to him not only as a coach, but also as a mentor and father figure. Eric Taylor didn’t ask for that role, but he took it on because he understood that the greatest thing a man can do is leave behind a legacy of manliness by nurturing and fathering young men into manhood. (Brett and Kate McKay)

For some, Coach offered space on the couch when they had nowhere else to live. For others it was playing table tennis late into the night or throwing a football around out in the street. And for others still, it ranged from intense conversations calling them to step into their manhood or reverent silence as he stood next to them through their darkest moments. Any growth that these young men underwent is partially owed to the molding and shaping effect that Coach Taylor had in their lives. In fact, Tami Taylor (Coach’s’ wife) speaks this truth to him when she says, “You are a teacher first, and you are a molder of men.”

Speaking of which, one of the great successes of FNL is that I cannot talk about Coach Taylor without talking about his powerhouse wife, Tami Taylor. The guidance counselor at Dillon High and right arm to Coach, Tami is strong, passionate and focused. She keeps Coach in line and keeps him balanced in the decisions that he makes. Having two strong personalities in a marriage definitely makes for some very raw conflict between the Taylors, but both Eric and Tami are deeply committed to the marriage that they have. It is so refreshing to see marriage lifted up, realistically depicted and not bashed. It’s sad but it was almost shocking to see something so incredibly normal; a marriage of between a man and a woman who, though each flawed, have strengths in their own right and love each other deeply. For me, Coach Taylor represents a man committed to building a good marriage, even when it is not easy.

Consistently throughout the show, Coach Taylor is faced with situations that require him to dig deep and fall back on what he has committed himself too. He doesn’t always get it right, but more often than not, Coach Taylor is a man who refuses to abandon what he holds as deep convictions. His principles rise to the surface when pressured by the media, the school district and individuals of influence in the town and on the team. Ironically, Coach Taylor suffers some stretches of low public approval during his time as head coach of the Dillon Panthers. Often his decisions are second guessed and exploited by those that seek to cause him difficulty or get him fired. But popularity is not what he’s concerned with; it’s the integrity by which he coaches and the example he sets for others. In perhaps what is the greatest FNL quote, Coach Taylor says “Every man at some point in his life is gonna lose a battle. He’s gonna fight and he’s gonna lose. But what makes him a man, is that in the midst of that battle he does not lose himself.” Coach Taylor certainly lost many-a-battle, but he refused to lose himself. Resolving to live by one’s convictions regardless of the outcome or by what others’ think or by what is popular is in high demand these days, and one of the greatest lessons that Coach Taylor has taught me.

Though I hate to admit it, Coach Taylor is not real. But writing this post had me thinking about some real life coaches and mentors that helped me become the man I am today. The influence of others in my life has been immeasurable, and the following people are only the tip of the iceberg with regard to who has helped to mold me. Here is to the real Coach Taylors of my life.

Coach Larry Strothers – The first real Little League coach I ever had. I played for him on nine separate teams over the course of my time playing baseball. He taught me that being great at anything had to begin with doing what is right, playing with class, integrity and sportsmanship.

Coach John DeJager – My JV baseball coach in high school. No way around it; our team worshiped this mountain of a man. He taught me what it really meant to be part of a team, part of something bigger than yourself and to lay down your self interests for others.

Mr. Sean Cosgrove – USI & AP Government teacher in High School. He’s the reason why I became a history teacher. He taught me to be a free-thinker, to love the Constitution, to care about people, and to live passionately for something in this life.

Dr. Stephen Bennett – My Old Testament professor at Nyack. He was foundational for my faith, helping to pull me closer to Jesus when I was far away. His Monday morning five-minute sermons did more for me than he will ever know.

Tim Binkele – Pastor of The River and my mentor for the last three years. Tim has helped me process an incredible amount of change and has continued to patiently listen and speak life into areas of my life that need it. He’s the kind of guy I want to be someday.

Nic Lines – Church planter moving from the UK to NYC. One of the most incredibly intentional people I know, Nic has taken precious time to speak prophetically into my life and to call out the good in me through great conversations and practical exercises. A genuine, life-giving friend who lifts up everyone around him.

In the final episode of FNL, one of my favorite extended scenes (I’ve watched it close to 300 times, no joke, ask Meg), occurs when Coach Taylor squats down next to one of the key players on his team. He looks him in the eyes and says, “You may never know how proud I am of you.” The player responds, meaning every word, “You changed my life Coach.” Those words were not only the admission of one young man in Dillon, Texas whose life was steered away from violence and delinquency. For many viewers, we would say the same thing. I can honestly say that Coach Taylor makes me want to be a better man. He has offered me an image of a loving husband, a strong mentor and a good man. He has caused me to want to live my life with clear eyes and with a full heart, so that I might never lose.

And so, though I may have never played a single game for Coach Taylor and never will, I can and will always say from the bottom of my heart, in honor of the “Kingmaker” and epic hero to tens of thousands…

Texas Forever.

*Note* This blog post was produced while listening to the Friday Night Lights soundtrack. I suggest reading this post while listening to the soundtrack, or a playlist compilation by Explosions in the Sky, who contributed heavily to the soundtrack.

*Note* Here is an easter egg I came across for FNL fans everywhere. Enjoy! 

*Next Hero* Born of German immigrants, this steadfast and humble athlete would earn himself the nickname “The Iron Horse”  

Photo by Sandro Schuh on Unsplash

Friday Finds 8.10.16

Happy Friday friends!
Today is an extra happy friday for me, since my family from Buffalo is invading New Jersey
as
we
speak!

Here is just a small taste of how I am feeling;

Anywho, how about some links for your weekend?

  1. Are you interested in being encouraged, challenged, surprised? This podcast had me thinking about some unhealthy habits I have picked up in thinking they were healthy/helpful. Seriously, listen to this.
  2. Want to know what hell is for your personality type? Mine was spot on.
  3. Anyone out there know how to code and want to hook a girl up?
  4. Wait, what? Check this clever idea for tomato sauce (yum).
  5. Have an off shoulder top, but hate the constant tugging back in place? Try this hack and thank me later.
Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

July Heart to Heart

Hello dear friends.

Are you completely blown away by the fact that it is August? I am going to be honest, I can’t handle it. Maybe I am the only one, but as soon as August rolls around, I look at the calendar, and immediately feel like the summer is over. Hubby and I have got so much more summer fun ahead, but the feeling that its flying by just seems to intensify.

If you cant find me, chances are I am in a corner taking deep breaths and doing my best to live in the moment and not think away the next couple weeks.

Anyway, lets catch up on July shall we?

 

The Highs

So much adventure

Bobby and I were fortunate enough to get a few good trips in this month. There just isn’t anything quite like getting away for some rest and reconnection.

Over the 4th of July weekend, we rented an AirBnB in Neptune and spent a glorious 5 day weekend at the beach. We were beach bums by day, and little city explorers by night. We hit the boardwalk in Asbury Park, explored Red Bank and saw the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra perform in the park, and had my first authentic carnival style boardwalk experience at Point Pleasant.IMG_0512

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IMG_0513It was a perfect way to officially usher in summer, to reconnect after a busy end to the school year, and to celebrate 5 years of marriage (we killed a lot of bird with that one stone). Also, we caught up with some college friends at the beach on the 4th!

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A few weeks later we headed to Massachusetts for the Celebration Conference. Our network of churches gathers from all over the northeast to worship, pray, and celebrate! This one was a game changer for me. I received prayer and counsel from some of our very best friends, and really feel like the Lord used them to heal me of living offended at God, and began the process of healing some other places in my heart. It was nothing short of amazing.

Love and Marriage

We celebrated 5 years married this month. I still don’t quite believe its been that long. I’ll spare you any more mushy stuff, since you already got it a few weeks ago. We celebrated the day exploring Hoboken, drinking good coffee, eating good food, strolling and chatting and dreaming, all our favorite things.

Facial First Timer

July always ends with a weekend trip to Lancaster PA to celebrate the birthday of one of my very best friends, lets be real, she is one of the very best humans on this earth. This year we celebrated with good food, great coffee, encouraging conversation, and facials!

Both of us were first timers, and it was so, so good. We got the validation treatment at the Lush Spa in Philadelphia. The treatment space was made to look like an english cottage, it was perfectly comfy and homey. It was such a relaxing and immersive experience we both left feeling pampered, relaxed, and beautiful.

Bethany is one of the most thoughtful and generous people, and spending time with her is like water to my soul. It was a good day indeed. My only regret is that the time was so short.

The Lows

I feel like I have a harder and harder time remembering the lows by the end of the month. I want to be authentic and not come across all rainbows and sunshine, but the honest truth is God has been doing a work in me to embrace positivity and hopefulness more and more. Praise Him! Thats not to say there haven’t been hard days, but those days weren’t caused by things I can summarize in quick post. Does that make sense?

Hubby had a couple grad classes cancelled, which is a mix of low and high. No class means he gets to hang out with me and the little man, but it also means more time until the finish line. So I guess its short term gain for long term pain. Womp womp.

IMG_0653Working for the summer hasn’t been bad at all (like I said, me and the little man have been spoiled with lots of Bobby time, and also the little man is so much fun), but saying yes to work has meant saying no to some other things and that has been a bit of a bummer. The largest bummer being missing my cousins wedding in Buffalo. Thank God for pictures right?

What I Read

Okay, I don’t want to brag or anything, but pretty much I am killing it on the reading right now. Full disclosure, audiobooks and a 45-minute-each-way commute have been a major factor in that killing, but books are books right? (I will mark books I did on audio with an *)

Shrill – Lindy West This book totally challenged me and I ate it up. I will admit, I was expecting the emphasis to be more on empowering women to have a strong voice in the world, and while there was some of that, there was definitely a heavier emphasis on body image. Lindy gave words for so many things I have experienced and really empowered me to unashamedly take up space in the world.

Girl Up- Laura Bates– This one caught my eye on the “new releases” shelf a the library. Laura writes to young women about sexism, mental health, sexual health and the like in a funny but direct way. I found her candor refreshing and wish that I had access to a book like this in my teens. I will readily admit there were some ideas I disagreed with, but I was so impressed by Laura’s ability to present all sides of an idea in a way that made space to decided for yourself. I think it could be a really helpful resource for parents of young girls as a way to start conversation about difficult and sometimes uncomfortable conversation.

When Food is Love- Geneen Roth Crossing this one off from my summer reading list. As always Geneen provides some great little nuggets to challenge you and open your eyes to the reasons why you behave the way you do. Of all her books I read, I struggled most to relate to this one, but the revelations it brought were well worth it.

The Bell Jar- Sylvia Plath* Maggie Gyllenhaal reads this audiobook, and she did a fantastic job. I find audiobooks are a great way to get more classic literature into your life, if thats something  your interested in of course. The Bell Jar was certainly interesting, and I can only imagine how groundbreaking it must have been for its time. If I am honest though, I wanted more from it. I enjoyed being let in on the story, getting a picture of a woman in crisis, but it felt a little impersonal, like I wanted more insight into her thoughts and feelings.

Hillbilly Elegy – JD Vance* Woah. This one really got me thinking. On a practical note, I really enjoyed the way Vance wove statistics and case studies with his own personal story, his writing is relatable and accessible. On a personal note, I was really challenged to have more compassion for a people group I easily put myself at odds with, and even place myself as superior to, especially because I found myself relating to and understanding much more than I anticipated.

 The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving -Jonathan Evison* Okay, full disclosure, I did not love this book. I picked it up because the Netflix movie based on it is one of my favorites. The book was SO DIFFERENT, and not nearly as funny or endearing. I don’t know if I have ever said this about any other book turned movie, but go ahead and skip the book, just watch the movie.

What I Watched

The Big Sick – find it in a theater near you and run, don’t walk to see this movie! It is heartwarming and funny and just. so. good.

Dunkirk – Hubby was so amazed by this movie, he saw it twice. It really is a powerful display of bravery and sacrifice and unrelenting perseverance.

What I Listened To

I don’t have much new to report here. Still loving Chance the Rapper.  Andrew Belle released a new track I am digging, and it has me pretty stoked for the new album coming later in August.

Some Things I Loved

Lush Cosmetics – Okay I am so late to this one, I know, but their products are wonderful and it feels so good not to worry about rubbing harmful chemicals into my skin. If you have one nearby, the stores are so worth visiting, the employees are so helpful and you can sample any product your little heart desires.

What I am Looking Forward to

Our summer is going to close out with a bang! August is jam packed and we have so much to look forward to! Top on the list, visits from friends, a Wojo family invasion into New Jersey, and Callamari-Bishop family vacation!

How was your July? What are you looking forward to for August? What are some tricks you found for taking deep breaths and being present in the moment?