What’s Making Me Happy This Week

pexels-photo-106223Well, folks, you win some, you lose some.  In the past 8 days, I failed to post not 1 but 2 scheduled blog entries.  There is no dramatic circumstance to explain my failures.  It was just good-old-fashioned imperfection.  

My natural instinct to failure is to withdraw or isolate.  Ask any of my close friends.  Ask my husband.  Ask my dog.  Failures, big and small, paralyze me with shame.  This is not a healthy response.  This is not a Christian response.  

The blog, however, has challenged me to change my response.  It has forced me to move forward, regardless of my setbacks, regardless of my shame.  And, since “shaking it off” isn’t my first instinct, I’m trying to make it my habit, instead.

So, today, I’m back at bat.  Some of what is below made me happy last week, but I hope it brings you a smile just the same.  And, if you’re holding on to any shame that is keeping you from smiling, consider giving yourself a little grace… God already has. 

What’s Making Me Happy (Last) Week

My husband and I spent some time at Madeira Beach recently.  In addition to visiting Bubba Gumps (perhaps my favorite chain restaurant of all time), I devoured the past few issues of Vanity Fair.  It was amazing.

The Dave-Ramsey-Love-Bug recently bit my husband, and he passed it along to me.  Thanks to Dave, we have already had some really important conversations about our money and our marriage.  I’m so excited to see where this journey leads up both financially and spiritually.

This is the best (only?) commercial for insurance I’ve ever seen.  If you’re looking for some warm-and-fuzzies, watch this video of a little girl dancing joyfully and carelessly around the house.  She makes me want to do some dancing of my own.

Where my married ladies at?  Politics aside (and, believe me, I ramble on for days about Trump-Pence politics), I admire the Vice President’s the strong commitment and close connection to his wife.  Andrew Exum’s recent essay in The Atlantic thoughtfully examines the pro’s and con’s of the so-called Billy Graham Rule. 

Finally, the last week has seen a lot of depressing news about the environment (even the Pope is upset!).  Manatees, however, just came off the Endangered Species List, so let’s cling to that happy news and keep the hope.  #seacowsmakemesmile

Wishing you a weekend full of faith, hope, love, and wine.

What’s Making Me Happy This Week

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Happy weekend, dears!  I was spoiled silly this past week.  A dear friend came into town for a long weekend, but the snow storm in the Northeast cancelled her flight and extended her stay.  We had great fun during the first part of her trip, visiting the beach, a brewery, and various restaurants.  I think I most enjoyed, however, the second half of her stay.  We sat side by side on the couch, with our laptops, working away.  We chatted as we watched The Bachelor, played Ticket to Ride, and scrolled through OldNavy.com.  We made dinner at home and took the dog to the park.  It was not the thrilling side of friendship; it was the fulfilling side.  We just got to do daily life together, and it was lovely.  Below is more loveliness that I stumbled upon throughout the week:

 What’s Making Me Happy This Week

Goodness.  This is a hard-hitting article from The Washington Post, but it does raise some good points about the timeless and timely tension between church and culture. Katelyn Beaty reviews a The Benedict Option and asks whether Christians should withdraw from the mainstream.

The Great British Bakeoff finally came to Netflix, and I am obsessed.  I enjoy the pretty, yummy creations, but I love the British accents and personalities even more.  They all handle their victories and defeats with SUCH GRACE.  With each episode, these amateur bakers are teaching me how to maintain a more positive outlook.

I recently told a friend, “Many people feel the Holy Spirit telling them what to say in difficult moments.  Usually, when I feel the Spirit, it tells me to shut up.”  Jodie Pine’s Divine Silence on (in)courage elaborates on the beauty and necessity of silence in relationship and ministry.

Ruth Simons’ GraceLaced’s Instagram always encourages and inspires me.  Her recent print of a prayer from St. Patrick is gorgeous.  It also nicely echoes the prayer practice I wrote about earlier this week.

Finally, I have so enjoyed preparing and hosting Evening Prayer on Facebook Live.  It’s not a perfect prayer, but I always walk away feeling the peace and joy of Christ. Feel free to join me each evening at 7pm throughout the rest of Lent at on our Facebook Page.

Wishing you a weekend full of faith, hope, love, and wine!

 

What’s Making Me Happy This Week

What's Making Me Happy This WeekWelcome to the weekend, loves!  One of my dearest friends is coming for a visit, and I’m looking forward to a long weekend of girl talk.  I imagine we may do some other things (like eating doughnuts or drinking margaritas), but we’ll mostly be talking.  Such is the life of good girl friends.  

Tell me: what’s on your schedule for the weekend?  What will you be doing to refresh and rejuvenate your spirit?

What’s Making Me Happy This Week

If you’ve never spent anytime with Kendra of the Lazy Genius Collective, do yourself a favor and pay her a visit.  She believes in being “a genius about the things that matter and lazy about the things that don’t.”  I owe her great thanks not only for all of her wise words (like these), but also for letting me know that Jeni’s Ice Cream has a cookbook.

In all honesty, I more or less sat out International Women’s Day earlier this week.  As Bruno says on an episode of the West Wing, “I have only so much RAM in my head. I have to prioritize. I have to throw some things overboard.”  For me, right now, I just didn’t have the RAM for International Women’s Day.  That being said, I loved this video from World Relief.

I’ve been following the work of Chris Hale at Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good for the past few months, and I really appreciated his recent essay in Time, I’m a Christian Man and I’m Acknowledging My Privilege for Lent.  He invites us all “to open our broken and confused hearts to authentic conversion and to see what it is inside of us that constantly allows us to debase and devalue women.”  This good read will get you thinking.

For better or worse, it’s always bathing suit season in Florida.  This year, I have my eye on this scalloped bikini, this one-piece, and this high-waisted bikini; all from Target.  In the past, I’ve gone for monochromatic suits, but, clearly, I’m a feeling a fun print this year.  

Each Friday evening, I join a small group of women and gentlemen in our church basement for Centering Prayer.  In addition to spending 10-20 minutes in sacred silence, we also share some of the insights from Thomas Keating’s Intimacy with God: An Introduction to Centering Prayer.  One of my favorite lines thus far: “God is beyond all that exists as well as in all that exists.”  Amen.

Wishing you a weekend full of faith, hope, love, and wine!

 

What’s Making Me Happy This Week

What's Making Me Happy.jpgHello, dear friends!  Right now, I’m drinking a nice, big cup of coffee and staring at a very long to-do list.  My first instinct upon consulting my lengthy to-do list is to put my head down on my notebook, close my eyes, and ignore each and every task.  I know this because I texted my husband a picture of me doing just that earlier this week.  

After a few minutes of desperation, however, my spirit and my shoulders usually lift.  I look back at the to-do list and, while it hasn’t gotten any shorter, it has gotten a bit brighter.  Almost every task brings me joy in some way: I get to spend my days writing, reading, and praying.  That’s not so bad!  As for the tasks that I dread, I know that doing them will, at the very least, bring this procrastinator a sense of accomplishment and relief.  That’s not all bad!

I imagine there are lots of tasks on your to-do list, too… maybe you’ve been too busy to even write a to-do list!  I imagine you’re clutching your own big cup of coffee, wondering how it will all get done.  Fret not, friend.  I promise that there are blessings buried amidst all the chores and errands.  And, I pray that the Holy Spirit would reveal those blessings to you, especially when you feel too burdened to tackle all your to-do’s.  

Below are some of the blessings I stumbled upon this past week.  I hope they offer you a bit of refreshment and encouragement as well.

What’s Making Me Happy This Week

The Book of Hosea, which I wrote about earlier this week, is a perfect scripture to spend some time with during the Lenten season.  I recently came across Irving Bible Church’s video series on Hosea on Crystal Twaddell’s site.  The thought-provoking series, which includes six 3-minute videos, imagines what Hosea’s story would look like in modern-day America.  A must-see.  Preferably with a box of tissues.

One of the most difficult things about moving to a new city is missing out on good friends’ big events.  Some of my lovely lady friends in DC and Atlanta are getting married later this spring, and I was crushed that I couldn’t attend all the various bridal showers and bachelorette parties.  Thanks to the magic of the Internet and the US Postal system, however, I was still able to send them some fun aprons (like this, this, and this) from World Market.  

I’ve read a lot about Lent over the past week, but this reflection hit me hard in the best way.  If you’re observing Lent for the first or millionth time, visit (in)courage and check out “Burying the Alleluias” from Jen Bradbury.

A few weeks ago, while Sean was at a work event, I bought myself a giant tub of popcorn and a ticket to La La Land.  Oscars controversy aside, I loved this upbeat chorus number and this melancholy solo.  Both songs, with lyrics like “when they let you down/ you’ll get up off the ground” and “here’s to the ones who dream/ foolish as they may seem” encouraged my inner struggling-artist.  I recommend singing along at the top of your lungs 🙂

Wishing you a weekend full of faith, hope, love, and wine!

What’s Making Me Happy This Week

What's Making Me Happy_1Each Friday I like to share some of the things that have made me happy over the past week.  Oftentimes, it is an article that gave me guidance on my spiritual journey. Sometimes, it is a new gadget that has made my journey easier.  Sometimes, it is just a fun drink or a funny card has helped me to take myself and this world less seriously.  

Today, however, what is making me happy is something much more beautiful and meaningful than anything you can find on the Internet.  Today, what’s making me happy is my mom.  She made the trip down to Tampa from DC yesterday morning, and we’ve spent the past day, talking about life, walking the pup, and eating at all the best restaurants.

Even though I am almost 30 years old, when I see my mom, my soul breathes a deep sigh of relief.  I hug her and remember: I am loved, I am cared for, I am not alone.  The world, despite all my anxious thoughts otherwise, is actually not on my shoulders.

There were other things that made me happy this week.  Some more incredible articles, some more lighthearted reminders.  And, I will return to share them next week.  For today, however, I am going to hang out with my mom.  Today is her birthday, and we’re going to celebrate with a fancy dinner at the Columbia, a local institution.  We’re going to reminisce about the past year and dream about the year ahead.  

Meanwhile, I invite you all to reflect on the relationships that have made you happy over the past year?  Consider your relationship with your partner, your siblings, your friends, your parents, your small groups. Who has lifted your spirit in times of distress?  Who has joined in your joy in times of celebration?  Who has walked with you through times of transition?  How can you express your gratitude for these relationships to them and to God?  I pray that, through these relationships, we will all learn how to better give and accept the perfect love of Christ.

Wishing you a weekend full of faith, hope, love, and wine.

What’s Making Me Happy This Week

What's Making Me Happy This WeekYa’ll.  I loved Valentine’s Day this year.  Yes, my husband did surprise me with lovely tulips.  Yes, we did enjoy a steak dinner with a nice bottle of Virginia wine.  My favorite part of Valentine’s 2017, however, was the gratefulness, the tenderness, and the downright joy that flooded my social media feeds.  I loved the pictures of babies in pink onesies.  I loved the photos of couples – young and old – laughing, kissing, and cuddling.  I loved the long odes that husbands and wives, boyfriends and girlfriends wrote to each other.  I loved that, for a blissful 24 hours, the typical anger, hostility, and hatred faded from my feeds.  Coming from DC, I appreciate and support political awareness and involvement.  The constant barrage of negative news, however, isn’t good for the soul, and much to my surprise, Valentine’s Day was just what I needed.  I hope that you also felt some love (and relief) this past week, and I hope that it continues to encourage you in the days ahead.  Here are some of the other things making me happy this week:

What’s Making Me Happy This Week

I came across Ann Voskamp’s The 1 Secret to Destroying Anxiety and Fears This Year during my own recent bout of severe anxiety.  If you’re feeling stress or sadness, please, please take a few minutes to read her reflection.  My favorite line: “the answer to anxiety is the adoration of Christ.”

I am many wonderful things, but, if I’m honest, trendsetter has never been one of them. So, I know that I am a little late to the party for the Fitbit, but I just got one, and I am obsessed.  My husband’s company is the middle of a Step Challenge (Go Team Fighting Maniscalco’s), and we’ve enjoyed some nice, long walks along the Hillsborough River and Tampa Bay.

I did not have a romantic Valentine until I met my husband, so the first 25 Valentine’s Days of my life were all about my family and friends.  As a devout Parks and Rec fan, I am forever grateful to Leslie Knope for formally establishing Galentine’s Day.  (We know that it is now an official holiday, because Google Docs marked Galentine’s as misspelled until I added an apostrophe.)  The next time you feel like celebrating your female friendships, I recommend that you check out these buttons and these cards.

As you can likely tell from my recent posts, I am a big fan and advocate of sacred silence. I’m not the only one, however, who’s been craving some quiet time.  Sarah E. Frazer’s 3 Steps for Finding Quiet Time When Life is Loud offers some practical tips for establishing (and protecting) your prayer time.  While her advice is geared specifically to mothers, it truly applies to anyone on the spiritual journey.  Aliza Latta’s If The World Feels Too Noisy from (in)courage also resonated with me.  As she writes, “In the quiet, when I meet with God, He tells me who I am, not who I should be.”  Amen.

Wishing you a weekend full of faith, hope, love, and wine!

A Letter to Lorelai Gilmore: On Happiness and Holiness

I watched the scene in shock.  

A mother, in her late forties, and her daughter, in her early thirties, sit opposite each other in a hotel room.  The daughter, with her hair slipping from her bun, says she’s been sleeping with a man who is engaged to someone else.  The mother, wearing a sweatshirt that reads “HAPPY,” grimaces, scrunches her nose, and sighs.  “Well,” she tells the daughter, “that’s way sluttier than a one night stand.”  Then, the conversation moves on. Surely, I think, they’ll return to this subject shortly.  Surely, this is not the mother’s actual reaction to her daughter’s affair.  Surely.

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Late last fall, I began re-watching the first seven seasons of Gilmore Girls in preparation for the Netflix revival, A Year in the Life.  I went back to Stars Hollow for comfort.  I went back for the twinkle lights and the smell of snow.  I was in high school when the show debuted, and I watched it with a deep admiration for the mother, Lorelai. I loved her hair, her fearless fashion choices, her optimism, her volunteerism, her pop culture knowledge, her childlike spirit.  Her story inspired me.  She started her own business!  She bought her own house!  She encouraged and supported her daughter wholly and unconditionally!

During my re-watch, however, Stars Hollow struck me as less idyllic.  Lorelai struck me as less perfect.  She encouraged her daughter, but never really challenged her.  Why, in that shocking scene, did she not say, “I love you and because I love you, I need to tell you: you made some poor decisions.  You did some bad things.”  

In high school, I would have heard Lorelai’s reaction (or lack thereof) as coolness.  Some ten years later, however, I hear it as cowardice.  I hear it as a silent endorsement of a dangerous sentiment: that it is more important to get what you want than to do what is right; that it is more important to be happy than to be holy.   

I don’t point this out because I think Lorelai Gilmore is a bad person.  I point this out because I can be a bad person.  I’m wildly imperfect, and I desperately need people in my life to tell me when and where I’ve fallen short.  I need to hear the words, “I love you and because I love you, I need to tell you: you made some poor decisions.  You did some bad things.”  Those words don’t immediately make me a happy person, but they ultimately make me a better person.

I still admire Lorelai.  When I doubt my ability to start my own business, I think of her persistence.  When I doubt my intelligence, I think of her wit.  When I doubt my inner and outer beauty, I think of her self-confidence.  I will let her example encourage and challenge me.  

Unlike Lorelai, however, I refuse to treat happiness as the ultimate goal and self-sacrifice as the worst alternative.  Surely, with the help of friends, we can be good people.  Surely, with the grace of God, we can be holy people.  Surely.

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