Friday, September 28, 2012

career women.

I survived my first 55 hour work week, and my first 12 hour Friday, and I have a feeling this will be the first of many ahead. The office really transforms at 8pm on a Friday night! My mouth was watering at the thought of a cold beer, and my heart was racing at every odd sound echoing throughout the empty building...yikes!
This may be a common event for you, but holy cow, I'm feelin' it. I can't imagine doing that and then coming home to entertain a husband and care for screaming children. addition to staying healthy, maintaining a social life...Lord help me. I'm lucky to have a strong mom that set an example, but my hat goes off to all of you. I hope to join the ranks some day. 
So here's my shout out to all of you career women, especially the working moms out there that can somehow do it all. Ya'll are SAINTS! 

powerwomen are babes.
photos via

Enjoy a relaxing weekend, you deserve it!


Thursday, September 27, 2012

something new.

I'm trying something new. Usually I post about all things pretty, but my blog is about to receive a little depth...just on the occasion :) If you don't mind talking about faith, keep reading. If this topic offends you, then wait for future posts that will likely contain more pretty pictures and/or music :)

So I joined a LIFE group last week. I told one of my girlfriends and she said, "LIFE group!? What the heck is a LIFE group?! For life support?!" Well...kinda! It is a group about life...and it is very supportive, but it revolves around life in faith. It's a Christian group for young adults in the city, coming together to share and grow in our faith, and broaden our sense of community. This is something I've never had before, and it's a term that is relatively new to my faith vocabulary: Community. 
I have friends that are Christians, but for whatever reason this was not an active part of our relationships. We'd have side conversations on the occasion, but we were never consistent about it. After my sophomore year in college (the most un-Christian year of my life), I learned what it means to have a relationship with Jesus and to live as a Christian. When you're doing this without a strong community, it can often be very lonely, challenging, and confusing. I've since been searching for a group that can act as accountability partners, simply to share and support each other as we strive to follow Christ. A group that I can be my whole self in, that won't be freaked out if I suddenly want to comment on God's grace or the beauty in His creation, or dive into prayer for someone in need. This lack of community is my own fault: a lack of boldness and confidence in my faith, a lack of follow-through. Really, a lack of identity in Christ.
Nearly 5 years later, I've finally found it (in more ways than one!) *fist pump*

Coincidentally (or by God's design, you decide ;)) the theme of my LIFE group is Identity. Last week we spent a few hours introducing ourselves and getting to know the 8 other people that will share in this vulnerable and fulfilling group. I could honestly tell already that this group was going to have a profound impact on my life and faith...really, my life in faith. So after discussing the thrills of the Tough Mudder and other crazy mud runs (these people are nuts), we dug into what it means to have an identity in Christ, and how that identity changes when we accept Him fully. Our sinfulness has been replaced with a pure identity, a new creation.  Just as the song says above, "It's always like springtime with You, making all things new, your light is breaking through the dark. This love is sweeter than wine, bringing joy, bringing life, your hope is rising like the dawn. This is what You do, You make me come Alive."

If you've wholeheartedly accepted God into your life, you probably have felt that newness.  If you haven't, I hope this lies within your future. It's an overwhelming sense of peace and security, sprinkled with joyous hope.  Fear is removed, because no matter what happens on this Earth, we have a Creator that loves us and will welcome us Home with open arms.

We started our devotional with a story about a boy that was raised as a Christian until his mother died, forcing him to work with his father on a ship.  The boy lost his faith and grew into a very cruel man, working as a captain of slaves.  He lived a very corrupt life until one day he came across a reading that completely transformed his heart.  His life and his heart turned a complete 180, and we now know him as John Newton, the writer of Amazing Grace. !! As we started reading, I thought it was just a cheesy fable, but it's a true story! Listen to the song with new perspective and let the lyrics rest in your heart, "Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now I'm found, was blind, but now I see." !!! Crazy! Then we read about the story of Saul/Paul, how he killed Christians until he suddenly had a revelation that transformed him into one of the greatest leaders of the early Church. Must've been quite the revelation to turn a murderer into an iconic spiritual leader.

These transformations were necessary in the lives of these individuals, so dramatic and so telling of God's overwhelming power and love. But who believed it while it was happening?! How did John and Paul act on the first day of their new life?? I just wonder what this looked like on a day to day basis. I imagine them slowly having conversations, first with those they love dearly, and then slowly gaining courage to share with the rest. Or was it more aggressive? A darkness that you suddenly wake up from, immediately quit your job, and shout your new beliefs from the rooftops? Did they get laughed at? Mocked? Ridiculed? When a transformation happens so rapidly, there is often skepticism that follows.  We started to discuss transformations that we've witnessed in our immediate worlds.  My new friends started sharing stories of siblings and friends enslaved to drugs or sex, and have since had an awakening and turned their lives around. Some are in the thick of it, slowly shaking themselves out of their old ways, but falling back when the pressure is too great. When you are sure of a story's ending, it is much easier to accept it's beginning.  Looking backwards at the stories of John and Paul, it's easy to see that God was working powerfully in them, making real genuine changes, successfully transforming their hearts for the better. But when that change is just beginning and the road ahead looks so mountainous, it can feel nearly impossible to expect a positive outcome.  When you're in the thick of it, things get fuzzy. I only wonder how their family and friends felt while observing this. Is this real? Is this true? Or will this all be forgotten when he wakes up tomorrow and goes back to his old ways? They were probably skeptical, even uncomfortable or annoyed by this change. Not quick to accept it out of fear or disbelief. The change was so sudden that it may have felt like a knee-jerk reaction, lacking all validity and genuineness. 
I'm watching this in people close to me. I'm standing by with a hopeful heart, but with a dark and skeptical mind. 
But who are we to judge? Who are we to doubt the power of God, and determine what is real and what is not? Should we not simply lift them up to the Lord, and trust that they are safe in His hands? That God will use this as an opportunity to show His grace and mercy? 

I'm reading Beth Moore's study of James (amazing), and she discusses the transformation of James, the brother of Jesus.  We're introduced to him in the Bible as he mocks and doubts Jesus as the Messiah.  Essentially, he thinks his brother is CRAY and is embarrassed by his bold statements of being Christ, the son of God. Later in the Bible, we see him join Peter as one of the most influential spiritual leaders "in a mind-spinning flash of time.  Facts like these ought to flood our faith over the certainty of Christ's resurrection," says Beth. She tells us to not doubt a new creation just because it happens quickly. 
Instead praise God, trust, and have faith in Him as He creates a "holy interruption" or "divine intervention." Don't we all want that grace? Don't we all want to feel that abundant love? We all root for the underdog, and overcoming the odds often makes the victory taste that much sweeter.
But does it? Just because our own personal stories might not involve some dramatic burning bush or hearing God beckon to us from the sky, doesn't mean that our journey isn't as strong, or that we receive a lesser victory. Do not belittle your testimony if you're a Pastor's son and raised as a Christian your whole life.  We are all the same at the foot of the cross. 

We went on to discuss what this new creation means in our hearts. When we accept Christ into our life, we are saved no matter what. No matter how we foul or how many times we screw up, God's love will never give up on us, and we will always be accepted into His kingdom. Think of when someone you love wrongs you, again and again and again. A typical reaction is to eliminate them from your life. To break that connection so the pain and betrayal can never happen again. But God opens His arms, always welcoming us back. We are loved, forgiven, and saved, and we never deserve it.
I struggle to accept this concept. I understand it intellectually but I can't get myself to truly know it, to truly wrap my arms around it. But I guess to know something is to master it, and I can never master the works of God. But to me, it feels like you're taking advantage of a friend, not worrying about screwing up because you know you'll be forgiven. I feel like have to earn that grace and love, but that's not true. It's a gift that God loves to give us, a gift of undending grace and mercy. None of us deserve it yet we receive it daily. 

I hear this and imagine a few scenarios around Christmas time that just make me squirm with discomfort. You know when you get together with friends over the holidays and you're happy just to spend time together, as you may do on a regular or not-so-regular basis. Then this dear friend pulls you aside and says, "I have something for you!" Your heart drops and your body instantly clams up, sweating from each orifice. "What!?" you say. "You didn't have to get me anything!"
"But seriously, WHAT!? SHOOT! I didn't even THINK of getting you ANYTHING!" you think - a silent thought, I hope. 
Your friend turns around with this enormous package, beautifully hand-wrapped with loving care. You stand there like a fool, empty-handed, blushing and stuttering as you take hold of this wonderful gift. 
You have nothing to give in return. You are not deserving of this gift. But you are urged to open it and enjoy its contents, as the other person watches with a ginormous smile and overflowing heart.
That is God.
That is God watching us live every single day. Francis Chan spoke at Passion 2012 and painted this amazing image of God sitting up in heaven, watching us and rubbing His hands together mischievously as He says, "Oh you have noooo idea. You have no idea what I have in store for you!" 
Isn't that it?!
And instead of of feeling guilty and awkward in its reception, we should simply show love and appreciation by using this gift. Don't try to earn it, because we can't. We will never be worthy. Simply share it, live it and glorify God, the ultimate gift-giver, by living for Him each day.

Our group then discussed how it feels to know that we don't have to try harder to be saved, that God wants us just as we are. For whatever reason my mind equated this to having a coach that constantly builds you up, having so much faith in you that you think you can do anything. You don't need to try harder, but because they have that much confidence in you, you simply want to be better in honor of that faith. 
Imagine if I was on a basketball team (HAH! my hand-eye coordination is a joke), but I was on this team and my coach thought that I was such a superstar, that I should start dunking. (HAH! even bigger joke). When someone keeps telling you something, good or bad, you can often start to believe it and take it on as your own thought. With such encouragement, you are pushed to try harder, dream bigger, and live better. That faith in you can go a long way. I might actually try to dunk. And because of that confidence, I might actually succeed. (...haha, not happening to me, but it could happen to someone else!)
But my group leader took it here: Imagine God is your coach. AH! Can you imagine playing a soccer game, and instead of the fantastic Andy Kasik (high school coach) on the sideline, you have God screaming your name as you "get on your horse and go" to the goal. And then He gives you a huge high five, hug, or slap on the butt as you score or make a nice pass. WHAT!?! The creator of the universe just gave me an 'atta girl!? 
I imagine wearing my jersey and having a big G on the back, only it doesn't stand for the Green Bay Packers, it stands for God.  (though its easy to see why they're so often confused ;)). 
We are sponsored by God. Not Nike, not Gatorade, not any other sweet sports brand. This is GOD we're talking about! This is the sponsor of all sponsors! 
He provides for us, just like a sponsor would. He fuels our body. He puts His name on our back and brands us as His. He gives us what we need to be successful, and He covers us with His armor. But His love doesn't stop there. He continues on as our coach. He pushes us and makes us work really hard because he believes we can go the extra mile. And most importantly, He's by our side until we cross the finish line, with us until the very end, congratulating us as He says, "Well done, my good and faithful servant." I've gotta think He'd also be the first to hand you the typical finish-line cup of beer, saying, "K, kid, gotta reload on carbohydrates cuz tomorrow's another big day." But maybe that's only in Wisconsin ;)
I run marathons and do triathlons, and I honestly would not have finished any of my races without calling out to God in constant prayer. "New legs, God, give me new legs, carry me to the finish." I repeat this through every mile. But to imagine myself as being on God's team?! For whatever reason, that image blows my mind. 
He is what gets me through each race. He carries me. So why would it be any different in day to day life? If He carries me on the field or on the race course, and I can accept His grace from mile to mile, why shouldn't I accept it as I walk through each day!?

The point is that when we accept Him fully into our hearts, He makes us new. He never leaves our side. He loves us unconditionally. And even though we don't deserve it, we must accept this gift and live in such a way that glorifies Him. 

"I am with you and all around you, encircling you in gold rays of Light. I always behold you Face to face. Not one of your thoughts escapes My notice. Because I am infinite, I am able to love you as if you and I were the only ones in the universe. Walk with Me in intimate Love-steps, but do not lose sight of My Majesty. I desire to be your closest Friend, yet I am also your sovereign Lord. I created your brain with capacity to know Me as Friend and Lord simultaneously. The human mind is the pinnacle of My creation, but so few use it for its primary purpose - knowing Me. I communicate continually through My Spirit, My Word, and My creation. Only humans are capable of receiving Me and responding to My Presence. You are indeed fearfully and wonderfully made!" 
-Jesus Calling by Sarah Young

Transformed in Christ. Made new, and wonderfully made. We simply have to accept it, and then live it out. It's a battle, but the victory is sweet.
It's pretty amazing to be on God's team. 

If you read all the way through, you're an allstar. Thank you for letting me share in my faith, and I'd love to have you as part of my Community.



It always sounds glamorous to live on a coast where there is only one season of endless sun,
 but I could never miss this time of year. 
Crisp air, crunching leaves, and crackling fires (with chili and football somewhere in between). 
I love this season. I keep hearing it referred to as the "nesting" season, and I suppose that explains my constant desire to snuggle in and read, cook, and drink red wine. 
And can consuming red wine be considered nesting? 
If so, then yes, let the nesting season begin.
And the fashion...oh, the fashion. I prefer to be swaddled in as many layers and cozy fabrics as possible. So bring on the sweaters, blazers, trenches, scarves, and tall boots...all to wear at the same time :) 
all photos via 


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

wisco weekenders.

Cheers to the weekend.
Impromptu Badger games. (they won!) 

 A pitcher of a local brew while sitting lakeside on Monona Terrace.

Old friends that need no explanation, and never cease to make you laugh.

Walking adventures with the serious question of, dude, where's my car? 

Overgrown ivy. 

And ending it all back at home with a beautiful mass and a hopeful encounter.  

What do they call that? Oh yeah: Blessed. 


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

little things.

I seem to be one of many that are going through a tough season in life right now. I know that God is with me every step of the way, and I'm thankful for the challenges as I know they only make me reflect longer, pray harder, and praise more fully. Regardless, everything seems to happen at once, only emphasizing the saying, "when it rains, it pours." 
Luckily I like the rain sometimes :) 
Here are the little things that have gotten me through the more challenging days:

 A PR omelette. Yes, I mean Personal Record. Just look at that beauty.

New shrubs. An adorably soft yet spikey little plant that I hope I can keep alive. 

 Beth Moore's study of James, the brother of Jesus. Mind blowing.

 My dad's discoveries from his last summer weekend as a wannabe scuba diver.

The beautiful sight of walking up my apartment stairs to see a package waiting at my door. 
Hello, fall shopping. 

I hope you are finding hope if you're one of the many enduring a challenging season, or counting your blessings as you soak up a season of joy. Either way, I hope you're able to find happiness in the little moments that create our life. 


i need to say what my soul is singing.

My sweet friend Beth passed on this song and I'm awestruck by the contagious Joy. 
Can't quite turn off the repeat button.
Soak up the sound and acknowledge the source. Hint: look up :)

Love endures, it will never fade away.
I need to say what my soul is singing
I need to say what my heart is screaming
that I love you, my dear.


hence the title.

Just some favorite shades, simply 'cause they're pretty:
all images via


Thursday, September 13, 2012

white on wood

I was inspired by the lovely Nicole at Me Oh My! to create my own wooden wall art.  I spent months thinking about the perfect quote or set of lyrics, and I finally decided on an excerpt from Times by Tenth Avenue North, and I'm so happy with how it turned out!

Here's how I did it:

Step 1. Retrieve scrap wood from local hardware store.
Or your parents' garage :)
Step 2: Purchase stain in the shade of your preference. I went with the darkest shade I could find (right option), all others were too auburn for my taste.
Step 3: Use a paint brush or old rag to lightly brush stain onto wood surface. I felt I had more control by applying with the rag. I'd definitely recommend doing a trial run on the opposite side of the wood or on an additional piece of scrap wood. It can be tricky to distribute evenly!
Step 4: If necessary, wipe off the entire surface to even out the tone or clear excess stain. 
Let sit and dry for a few hours.
Step 5: Get ready to paint! I've seen so many cute color combinations, but I decided to stick with classic white for my first try.
Step 5: Use a ruler and pencil to map out your content and make sure your words are evenly spaced.
Step 6: Get painting! My brush was about 1 centimeter in width, which provided natural block letters.  Again, I'd recommend practicing on the other side of the wood or on scrap paper beforehand!
Step 7: Fill in and fix letters where necessary. 
Step 8: Let dry and hang. 
Wa Lah! 
(how do you spell that?!) 
This was surprisingly easy and is perfectly paired with James Morrison Pandora radio and red wine :)
I can't wait to do it again!
Be sure to let me know how it goes if you decide to try it.



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