Sunday, January 3, 2016

2016 Resolutions

Now that I've given 2015 a proper recap, I can think about making resolutions and goals for 2016.

But first a story; last night I watched one of my favorite films Julie and Julia. I haven't seen it in quite some time, but somehow it was the perfect movie to set the tone for what I want this year. Now, don't read into this too literally. I don't really liken my current life status to the legendary gourmand Julia Child or the famous self-pitier Julie Powell. But this movie is about two things that I love: cooking and writing. Both ladies take the things they love and do something with them.

Over the past few months I have had the great pleasure of delving more into my hobbies. I've started reading more, wanting to write more, I've been sewing and cooking. All these little things that have been a part of me for so long have started to reemerge since I have been back in Texas. Then of course there is my music, cycling, advocacy and theology; the loves that I have brought with me from Chicago.

My overarching resolution for 2016 is to focus these more. Practice and give them purpose; maybe even make some money from them. Find a side gig. I'm very lucky to have a steady job that doesn't make me want to be an alcoholic, and live in a city where I don't have to remain indoors for six months out of the year. Now that I have established how grateful and happy I am post-Chicago, it's time to do something.

On that note, here are my resolutions for 2016


  • Buy a new camera
  • Buy a new ukulele
  • Develop my advocacy
  • Outline my book
  • Get back into tae kwon do
  • Improve my Spanish
  • Cook new things (just don't eat so much crap)
  • Ride my bike to new places
  • Sew
  • Read
And we'll see what happens. There's always the other things: be healthier, spend more time with family and friends, be better with money, find a nice guy to date. I'm content with making resolutions knowing that they they are somewhat arbitrary. The fact is most of us don't treat our daily lives like an exercise regimen. The real growth happens when we encounter the things in life we didn't plan for ourselves. 

That being said, I'm very curious as to what I'll be writing in my recap one year from now. 


Saturday, January 2, 2016

2015

While this may be coming a day or two late, I wanted to write recap for this past year. 2015 was an important year for me. I knew that I was most likely going to be moving to Austin when it began, but to see it unfold the way it did was a tremendous thing.

Before I left, or even made it official that I was leaving Chicago, I got to costume a show with Fury Theatre. I spent the first two months of 2015 dressing a group of teenagers for a production of Hamlet. I'm so happy I got to do this before I left Chicago. It was one of the most satisfying theatre experiences I have had, and a great one to end on for now.

My church of almost 8 years was very supportive and understanding of my decision to leave. Right as my life was taking another direction, the life of the church was also encountering another major transition. I hated leaving, but it was also very clear to me that this was the right time. I've found a new church here that has provided me with a gentle space to find God. I sometimes miss the community of NPCC, but as I left that body and moved towards another I started thinking about they type of church I need and that might need me. It looks totally different than what I was a part of, and that's just fine with me.

I went to Matthew Hussey live, but I only went on one date this year. So there's that. But I have gotten much better at starting conversations with people I meet, making friends, and trying to open myself to more people in my life.

Before I left, I spent a weeks working on my resume and LinkedIn profile. To look over that resume and see all the things I accomplished; that feeling is indescribable. Some of those moments of anger and frustration over my work, produced some of my most creative content. That's something I can always have, something I will always be so proud of. And for that, I'm thankful.

I've had my ukulele for a while but I didn't really commit to learning it until this past spring. Amidst a sea of moving boxes and whole lists of to do's, I sat on my bed and watched ukulele videos on You Tube. Music does this great thing where it both challenges my brain and transforms my soul with its beauty. Plus, now that I can play an actual instrument I don't feel like such a fraud when I call myself a musician.

Then came the blessed day. I packed up my life, put it in a truck and my best friend and I drove it back home to Texas. I had a three month sublet lined up, a few job interviews on the horizon, but no guarantees. Just like last year, I had 3 roommates in the span of a year. I lived in 3 different apartments. Two were on the third floor, one had a washer and dryer, Lana loved all three.

I found a new job here and a new home. I can ride my bike everywhere just like I wanted and Houston is just a few hours away by bus. There is a Hobby Lobby 10 minutes away from my place, I can craft to my heart's content. I went to my second comic con, didn't get to see Brent Spiner again, but I did make waves with my Weeping Angel costume.

I got Netflix. I got a sewing machine. I got my grandma's dishes. I got all the boxes I left in my parents shed before I left for college.

Becky and I started going to Bible Study Fellowship. I'm getting back into the swing of staying scripture. I've also read some great books by Kate Mulgrew, Nadia Bolz-Weber, Rachel Held Evans, Sarah Bessey, Lauren Winner, Drew Barrymore, and Carrie Fischer.

I built a bar and discovered that I love gin way more than vodka. I made pillows for my couch, and sewed travel bags for my family.

This past weekend my sister Lydia came and we rang in the New Year the best way I could imagine. We got our nails done, went shopping at Toy Joy, and popped fire crackers in Manor, TX. We toasted the new year with sparking grape juice and raised a glass to 2015, Texas, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Han Solo.

2015 gave me a sense of satisfaction and gratitude. This year was not just about the big changes, but the people in my life who supported me through them. My family, my good friends, church and neighborhoods. It's important for me to say thank you, because for so long I was scared to leave Chicago. I didn't know if I could leave there and find something better than what I had. But thank God that I did. I left and my life is so much richer because of it. So thank you.

Thank you to Chicago for what it gave me and letting me know when it was time to leave. Thank you to all my friends there for being so supportive. Thank you to Austin for welcoming me without question or pretense. Thanks be to God for being in all places at all times in all things.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

New City, New Church

One of the first things I started looking at when I decided to move to Austin were churches. After eight years at North Park Covenant Church, I was excited, if not a little trepidatious, about looking for a new church.
I'm not looking for a carbon copy of my previous church, intact I feel quite the opposite. While I love certain aspects of NPCC, I've never been sold on the whole package. But I learned to appreciate or at the very least accept the things about the church that I was unfamiliar with. A great example would be the musical style. I love music and for the last year and a half was a member of the choir. I learned a great deal and appreciated the music, even though it wasn't my taste per say or what I grew up liking. North Park had a terrific use of liturgy, and observance of the church year. They had a good progressive theology, and a strong traditional identity. These are all great things.

One Sunday I visited Austin Stone Church during one of their evening services. It was my first church visit here, and I really didn't know anything substantial about it before going in. I parked my bike, took a complementary cup of coffee and casually wandered over to the info table before being greeted enthusiastically by Benry. Benry is a church's dream greeter. Friendly and very happy to answer any questions you may have. We talked for a few minutes and I gave him my schpiel,  just moved here from Chicago looking for a new church. 

It quickly dawned on me that I could visit every church in Austin, bring my list of requirements, and have it not matter. Maybe it's more important that I come to every church and simply ask the question How is the Holy Spirit at work here? And what is coming out of that work? then ultimately ask the question Would I be good for the work that is already being done here?

Sure there are a few things on my list that make it or break it requirements, but maybe the list as a whole isn't the most important thing. Maybe ticking off the boxes to see if a church fits all of my needs overlooks a great deal of what the church is actually doing.

My prayer is that over the next few months the Holy Spirit gives me eyes to see how and where any given church is ministering. Then hopefully the question will not be Is this church good enough for me? and instead become, Am I going to be a beneficial addition to this church?

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

North Park Covenant Church: A Love Letter

In just a few days I'll be packing my belongings into a Budget Truck and driving them down to Austin, TX; where they will sit in storage for three months until I decide on a permanent place to put them.

There was a time during my eight year stint in Chicago, when I thought that I may just live at 3406 W. Foster Ave forever, and keep going to North Park Covenant Church until I died, then be cremated and inturned in the columbarium.
But No.
My dream of having a wedding in that beautiful sanctuary, having Brian play the theme to Star Trek Voyager on the organ, and walking down the aisle barefoot probably won't come true.
But that is ok.

I have often compared my relationship to North Park Covenant Church to a marriage. We met in the Fall of 2007, dated for a couple of years, then in 2010 I decided to become a member. I remember actually walking down the aisle that day and agreeing to fully be a part of this church body. Then about a year later I wanted a divorce. I wanted to divorce North Park a couple times, but I didn't. I stayed and slowly but surely I saw this church, and myself, grow and transform. I saw things that we had talked about in board meetings and in Veritas sessions come to life. I was proud that I had been there to be a part of that and to witness it.

Being a part of this church for the past eight years has been one of the most challenging and rewarding parts of my life, certainly of my adult life so far. I don't think anything has caused me to grow and change as much as being a part of this church has.

It has made me prioritize what is most important
It has kept me candidly honest
It has given me a wonderful group of friends
It has been my surrogate family
It has been my anchor and stronghold in times of trouble
And it has repeatedly frustrated and angered me to no end

For every one of those things, I am eternally grateful.

I have always loved music. North Park made me realize just how much I loved it, and loved sharing it. I love being in the choir (even though I still think that having a good voice doesn't automatically mean you should be in the choir) I love sharing my voice. I'm so thankful to Randall, Brian, Chuck and Sharon for being my teachers.

I love children. And I love that Harry and Tobin were two when I started and now their ten. I was Minister to Toddlers for only three years, but I have loved seeing them grow from the sidelines. I love that I have seen my friends have babies, and I have gotten to help them raise their babies. I love the trust that exists in the church that we will raise these kids together. I hope one day that will be true for me as well. I'm thankful to Libby for employing me in the first place, and even more thankful to her and Elise having worked with them both on the Board of Christian Formation.

And thanks to North Park, I now love 16 inch slow-pitch softball. And that doesn't have much to do with my athletic prowess or incredible stamina, but it is thanks to Anders Johnson, Pete Strom, Charlie Peterson, The Brothers Meyer and their brides, Jess and Rach, and so many others who I am lucky to count as friends.

I love the people of this church, and I treasure the fact that they've been praying and caring for me not just during this time of transition, but for the past eight years of my life. I couldn't have asked for a better last Sunday to have.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Winterizing

Winter is here!

I've been getting underway with ways to prepare for the ice and snow. Here are some of the things I have been up to.

1. Insulating Windows
Last year my apartment could barely keep it's head above board in the sub-zero temperatures. My gas bills were so high, and I couldn't keep more than one space heater on without blowing a fuse. This year I was determined to get this under control and insulate my windows early. It took my roommate and I over an hour with two hairdryers (and three blow fuses) to just get our living room window done. I also put up some heavier curtains for some added insulation and light control.

2. Bike Ready
My winter bike was in bad shape from last year. I had a friend of mine work on it, and replace a few parts, but even after that I still needed to have my back wheel completely replaced. The whole thing added up to $180 in parts and labor (but hey at least it's not a car) and I'm back on the road. To keep everything running smoothly have to oil my cables and housings, and fill up my tires at least once a week. I always carry my lights, extra pairs of gloves and ear wraps, and use my trusty windbreaker.

3. Skin, Hair and Nails
My skin and hair definitely dry out in winter. Coconut oil has been my balm of choice for about a year. It's great from my skin, hair and nails. I've even been using it to clean my face. Just apply in circular motions and wipe off with a hot towel. I did an oil treatment for my hair last night with coconut and grape seed oils. And with all the oil I'm applying, I just rub the remainder into my hands and nails. I've noticed a lot less breakage, an softer cuticles.

4. Winter Wear
Most of my winter clothes have held up great. But every year I always need stocking, wool socks, and under layers for the season. For work, I just throw on a skirt and sweater and I'm ready to go.

5. Warm Up
I love making soups and stews this time of year. I'm still making my way through a batch of potato soup I've made, and I made a big vat of oatmeal for breakfasts. This is a great way to portion out my meals. This time of year when food is all around us, I try to do my best to keep my portions regulated.

Hope this gives you some ideas for keeping warm this winter.

Currently in Advent

Current TV: Sons of Anarchy, How to Get Away with Murder, Jane the Virgin
Currently Natural: I just got a bunch of product from Ava Anderson Non-Toxic. I hosted a party earlier this month and got a bunch of stuff for free in my order. I can't wait to try it all out. I also ordered some wonderful handmade soaps from Pines and Pineapples. I'm going to write a separate post just about these two businesses.
Current Celebrity Crush: Charlie Hunnam, hot damn. I saw one picture of his bare ass and proceeded to watch 5 seasons of Sons of Anarchy. #sorrynotsorry
Currently Craving: Not a damn thing. I'm still stuffed from Thanksgiving dinner. I just finished the last of my pumpkin pie and and some leftovers. I don't think I'll eat a thing until Christmas.
Current Recipes: Coconut Pumpkin Pie, Potato Soup
Current Drink: Hot Mulled Apple Cider
Current Lesson: About a month ago my current roommate told me she would be moving to campus. I'm bummed, but I understand. This event has prompted me to address a couple things. Do I want to keep changing roommates every nine months? Can my life withstand this revolving door of people coming and going? And if it can't, what can I do to change it?
I'm praying very seriously about some changes for 2015.
Current Blessing: I'm going home for Christmas. That's the biggest blessing I could ask for. I miss my family, I miss Texas, and this is one break I definitely need.
Current Song: O Come O Come Emmanuel, I also picked up She and Him's new album "Classics"
Current Need: I typically keep my opinions to myself on social media when it comes to politics, religion and current events, but this needs to be said. We are in Advent, the season of hope. This world is aching for redemption and reconciliation. Police brutality, high racial tensions, violence, unrest, injustice. Come Lord Jesus, come.
Current Holiday Tradition: My roommate and I went and saw "The Nutcracker" on Saturday night. I grew up watching the ballet on TV, and I saw this performed live in Houston when I was in high school. It was amazing to see it again, hear all the familiar music, and enjoy some exquisite dancing.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Currently October

Current TV: The most exciting this so far about the official debut of Fall 2014, is that my shows are back. OUAT, Castle, Agents of Shield. I'm a big TV buff

Currently Natural: I love finding recipes for natural non-toxic beauty and household products. I just bought a few new essential oils to make Thieves.

Current Celebrity Crush: Scott Michael Foster... yum

Currently Craving: Speaking of yum. Now that a chill is in the air I'm craving fall foods: soups, stews, pumpkin bread, macaroni and cheese.

Current Recipes: Last night I made a banana bread and prepped everything to make mini apple pies.

Current Drink: My pumpkin spice coffee is my go to every morning. I did make a recent beverage blunder. I purchased some apple wine from Gene's, and it's horrible. I don't think mulling could even save it. I may just let it ferment more and turn itself into vinegar. It already tastes like it.

Current Lesson: I don't know if I have ever worked this hard. I have never thrown myself into a job the way I have with this one. In one month I'll have been there a full year. Every job has it's joys and frustrations. And of course this is no exception. I'm thankful for the edification that comes my way through work.

Current Blessing: While this season has been kind of hard on my personal life, I am so thankful that I have great foundation. I have a loving family who I can call on at anytime, I have great friends who have lasted with me for years, and I have a wonderful church family who is right here when I need them.

I did an exercise recently, that feels hokey, but is needed. I wrote affirmations of myself in my journal. Things like, "I am enough." "I deserve love."

It feels weird to write these things out, let alone say them out loud. But I have noticed that I often (as many of us do) think about my self in negative ways. I think I should be doing more, and if something isn' going well, then it's my fault. I needed to take a step back an choose to insert some positivity from myself, not just waiting for others to say these things about me.

Current Song: At work I listen to Pandora. I have a broadway/show tunes station, and my favorite things to listen to are the tracks from Spring Awakening and Avenue Q.

Current Need: A massage

Current Ailment: My allergies are just going berserk. I'm sneezing all. the. time. Big powerful sneezes, one right after the other, where people have to stop and ask me of I'm ok and stuff.