Friday, April 29, 2016

The truth about me and grace...

I'm often misunderstood. Most of the time my mind moves as fast as my mouth does and by the time I've decided what I want to say, all of the thoughts leading up to it are already out in the world. So like I said I'm OFTEN misunderstood and understandably so. How can you be upset about people getting you wrong when you can't even reign in your mouth long enough to allow people to get you right.

It's a constant struggle of mine. Whether I'm cutting someone off while they're trying to finish their sentence or blurting out something really ridiculous and uncalled for I sometimes feel like I only understand myself in retrospect.

When I'm uncomfortable or feeling threatened I automatically become very sarcastic and the strangest things come out of my mouth. I'm already pretty quirky which is something I really like about myself but when I'm in this place I become removed and almost hurtful with the things that I say. I often find myself looking back on these moments thinking "Wow, where did that person come from?"

So what? Where am I going with this? As much as I try to be someone who empowers and inspires the people I come in contact with, there will always be times where I'm not that person. There will be times where I say things that are hurtful, when I lash out at someone who doesn't deserve it or from a place of insecurity make someone else feel insecure. Is it on purpose? Absolutely not! But will it happen? Certainly.

That's why I will always be thankful for grace. The definition of grace in regards to Christianity is "the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings." I've seen God's grace manifested in my life in SO many ways and one of those ways is through the people that he's placed in my life.

I don't have a lot of friends, I really don't. It used to be something that I felt really weird about but now I realize that quality is so much more valuable than quantity. The people that I spend my time with in Denver or from home are people that understand me, love me and extend so much grace to me. They laugh at my dumb jokes, call me out when I say something crazy and are forgiving when I allow myself to be dragged into a nasty mood.

I'm blessed two fold in this situation with the realization that I have some areas where I really falter and secondly with friends that support and love me in the growing phases.

The curse of humanity is that regardless of how hard we try, we'll never be perfect and that's where grace steps in. Grace allows for a sinner to be saved, the hated to be loved and the damned to have life. Grace is the foundation of strong relationships whether that be with God or just with friends and family.

I would be lost if it were not for grace and as I understand it more everyday I'm completely wrecked (in the best way) by how incredible it is. Thank you for letting me be so real and direct in this blog and thank you for reading it each week.  The grace that YOU extend to me as readers, with my punctuation errors and run on sentences, does not go unnoticed.

Until next time gang. XOXO

Friday, April 22, 2016

That time I wrote about him.

Three days after I got home from studying abroad with Up with People in 2011, I met a guy. On September 14th of 2013, I wrote this about him.

I planned to write about you
To put you on a page. 
But then I realized that my words
 were nothing
compared to you. 

You were everything and nothing 
all at once
and I don't know how to explain that. 

We developed out of nowhere and ended just as soon

Walking away from you was the only decision I made 
through the whole thing
that was planned, well thought out. 

Being a part of your life was the hardest thing I'd ever done and
leaving it...
was just as difficult. 

I wish we could have started out as friends 
and just stayed there. 

We would have been such good friends. 

But instead we went too fast
people said we'd crash 
and we screamed at them we wouldn't 

But then we did. 

And the fire burned us up
but our bodies were saved
and all that was torched was our hearts. 

My intention was to spit you out and leave you here
but just like all of our plans
it just won't work. 

I apologize for yesterday
and all the day's before
and even more for the tomorrow's that we never had. 

Our choices
OUR decisions
led to our demise
and the dramatics that followed
led to nothing being left behind. 

In the end all I have are memories
and a faint heart shaped scar embedded in my chest. 

You were all of it
and then none of it
and it seemed to happen way too soon and all at once. 

We were drowning with our heads up 
and our eyes wide open
hoping that our feet
would eventually hit the bottom
 of an endless pool

The dreams of an optimist...

If I could go back in time and repack every word
I'm sure it would end the same

You told me that I'd always be the one that got away 
and I can't seem to shake that

But the truth is
I was not your one
and neither were you mine

So I'll say the kind of goodbye that seems temporary 
but somehow just lasts forever
and take my suitcase of words and walk away. 

Behind me is only you

Behind you is only me

But ahead of us...
the road is paved
with untouched concrete and possibilities 

Friday, April 15, 2016

For the record... it's all about the youth.

I mentioned it once before but just in case it didn’t get to everyone, I work in a school. It’s a nontraditional school and something that I love about it, is the amount of freedom that I have there. I’m able to pull students out of class to meet with them, access tons of information and (the part that led to this post) I’m able to sit in on classes whenever I want.

Sitting in on a high school class may not sound that exciting to you but when you have a group like Youth on Record facilitating in your school, I promise you that class becomes way more appealing. Youth on Record is a program that believes that all young people, even those who are at risk or have been written off, have the potential to turn their lives around. Youth on Record works with what they call culturally relevant artists around Denver and use them to reach students and help them to transition to college, the workforce and advanced technical training.

The reason why I wanted to sit in on the class is because every single day at about 1:25, I walk by their room and I hear rap music and a very passionate voice leading the discussion. I don’t know about you but rap music isn’t usually my thing but I’m ALWAYS interested in talking to someone who is passionate about it. Also, anyone who uses rap music in a school day lesson is definitely a person that I want to interact with.

So on Wednesday, I made it my mission to experience the Youth on Record magic. When I walked into the classroom I was met by two African American men leading the group…one tall with curly hair peeking out of fitted hat and the other slightly shorter, moderately tattooed with a welcoming smile hiding behind a full beard. If you know me at all, you know that I was sold the moment I saw them. These guys oozed sincerity and a grounded coolness that I think most kids don’t experience from their teachers.

Notebook in hand and a dorky grin on my face, I asked if I could sit in on the class and they both eagerly said “of course.” They started the class with a story from Greek mythology about destiny. They explained with the illustration that at times your circumstances may try and stand in your way but if you’re committed if you’re invested, you can still reach your full potential and achieve your destiny.

As they concluded the story they gave the class a prompt to write about and encouraged them to be honest with themselves and write from the heart. I initially only intended to observe but the prompt intrigued me so much that I had to participate. They asked us “How do you differ from the stereotype that you’re supposed to be?” So essentially, how do we intentionally or even unintentionally break the stereotypes that are associated with our gender, race, sexuality, nationality and even economic background in our everyday life?

They gave us about twenty minutes or so to write and then asked the class to share. Most of the stories that were shared, by the kids that I have the pleasure of working with, were stories of pain and loss, mistakes and failures. The stories were filled with times where they 100% met the stereotypes that they were associated with despite their initial desires to DO and BE more. Though they're only high school students their stories shared moments of heartbreak and discouragement that most adults will never experience.

As I sat and listened to their stories, I was ashamed by the thought that maybe my perception of them has been skewed by stereotypes. I do my best to come in everyday with a heart full of love for each and every single student that I work with. With that being said, I can’t help but to think that maybe I would treat them differently if I had no preconceived notions or ideas about who they are and the mistakes they’ve made.

This weekend I plan to really examine my heart and what it's filled with. I want to explore it and sit with it and determine if the things inside of me give room for people to show me who they are despite what they look like or the mistakes they've made. I want to give people the same room to be themselves and to break stereotypes and assumptions, that I would hope that they would give me. 

So I guess the point I’m trying to make with all of this is that no one is JUST a “punk” or a “bad kid” there’s always something more to the story always another layer to them. I encourage you to examine yourself the next time you pass a homeless person, or a kid with their pants below their butt or a girl with “slutty” clothes on, what are your initial thoughts of them and where they come from? If you took the time to sit and talk with them would those thoughts hold any weight? 

Until next time gang. XXOXOXX 

Friday, April 8, 2016

The importance of silence.

It's not very often that I sit alone in a quiet room and just listen. Listen to the roar of the silence, the whisper of the Lords voice, the chatter going on in my brain.

I've been trying to figure out what to write about all day. I wrote two different posts and though they're not complete garbage and I saved them, neither of them felt like the right one to present to you. It was almost like I was not being sincere like I wasn't being true to what was really going on, both came across as shallow. As vulnerable as I tried to be in them they just didn't seem to go deeper than surface level.

So I stopped and just laid on the floor. I literally laid down on the floor of my bedroom, on my back and I tried to find the silence in my ever so noisy heart. I tried to find the topic, the poem, the reason for a post that would serve readers and I came up empty handed. So I decided to go out of my comfort zone and to meditate.

I know a lot of people that meditate. When I traveled in Up with People a lot of my colleagues and the students that traveled with us would meditate to get through the tour. I never considered myself to be the mediation type. I'm more of a go for a run and journal to unwind type of gal, I never really understood the importance of sitting in silence, until today that is.

Just this afternoon one of my co-workers told me about an app called insight timer, she told me that she uses it as a guide for her meditations. To be nice, I downloaded the app and told her that I would try it sometime, not expecting to ever use it. Not expecting to come home and to try and write, try and spend a few hours in my passion and instead spend an hour writing and rewriting words that meant nothing.

So I decided to try it. I went on the app and opened up a guided meditation called "Centering prayer:It is time" and I pressed play. The meditation was 34 minutes long and I'll admit I only got through 15 minutes of it, but that quarter of an hour was exactly what I needed to produce this.

The meditation started with soft airy sounds and the voice of a woman, a woman speaking about my favorite thing in the whole world,The Lord. As she spoke she led me through breathing techniques and instructed me to be aware of my body and then said a word of prayer before going into moments of silence. As I set there, on my floor in my completely silent apartment I felt so connected to God and to myself. I went from seeking after something to write about, to the perfect topic finding me.

This week I had a friend tell me that sometimes God speaks to us in a loud booming voice and other times he comes in a whisper, in a still small voice. I think that often times my mind is going so fast and my ears are tuned to so much noise that I miss the whispers, the still small voices, I miss the beauty of the silence.

I don't know if I'll start meditating everyday or if I'll only do it every few weeks but the peace that I feel right now, the calm that is resting on my shoulders is a welcomed feeling. For all my busy millennial friends reading this, I hope that this weekend or even today that you take a moment or two to embrace the silence. Coming from the busiest bee in town, you won't regret it.

Until next time friends. XOXO

Friday, April 1, 2016

How to work your brain while improving your body.

If you ever happen to run into me at the gym you'll find me sweaty, exhausted, focused and with headphones in. What you won't find me doing while I'm working out is listening to the latest Spotify playlist or Pandora radio but rather a Podcast and here's why.

A few months ago a really good friend of mine introduced me to Podcasts. I know, they've been around for  like, I don't know a while but I honestly never even thought to listen to one and didn't really know what would be the benefit of doing so. She told me about Podcasts like Serial and This American Life and that's where I started.

Once I realized that I'm not a Serial girl or murder mystery person at all for that matter, I started browsing different options and asking around. After some investigation work I realized that a lot of my favorite authors, ministers and TV hosts had Podcasts. So I went on a downloading spree and put everything that caught my eye on my phone, I was hooked!

I admit, most of the things I downloaded I didn't get around to listening too and the reason is that I found a solid group of about 5 that I couldn't get enough of. I would listen to them in the car, when I was at my desk at work, in my bedroom before falling asleep and eventually I started listening to them at the gym.

The first time I listened to a Podcast while working out I had planned to run a mile and then to do a workout with weights but I got so into it that I ended up running 3 miles without even realizing it. As I was stretching I kind of felt weird and like it must have just been a really interesting episode but the next day I got caught up again and then the next day and then the next.

After the fourth day, I went home and felt like I had not only had an amazing workout but I had learned something really cool in the process. From that day forward I decided to change the way I saw gym time. Instead of looking at the gym as just a place where I could push my body to the limit it was also becoming a place where I could have my beliefs challenged, learn a new skill, discover a new author and MORE.

I'm going to share with you the three podcasts that I listen to the most. There are other ones that I check out now and then but these three are the ones that I look forward to listening too each week and have impacted my life the most so far.

1.  The School of Greatness by Lewis Howes. This is one that I really enjoy. On every episode of School of Greatness, Lewis Howes, the host,  interviews different entrepreneurs, athletes, motivational speakers, authors etc.. that have made a name for themselves in their industry. He essentially gives them a platform to tell their story and how they've reached their level of success so that others who aspire to follow the same path can be inspired and empowered with real life stories, tricks and advice.

2. Equip the Saints by Chris Cruz. Chris Cruz is a pastor at Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry and Tribe Young Adults at Bethel Redding. The aim of the podcast is to make heaven and earth one and to do that by exploring what an authentic display of Christ looks like in all of our lives and in the lives of the leaders that Chris interacts with. I'm not kidding when I say that the things that I've learned from this podcast have literally changed my life. I would recommend this to any believer or someone wanting to learn more about faith!

3. Bethel Church: This podcast is a little unique in the way that it's not a specific person but rather every sermon that is preached at Bethel Church in Redding. I like this one a lot as well because I really enjoy the preaching staff at Bethel and since I don't live in California it gives me an opportunity to listen in on the services without the travel costs.

I could go beyond three but we'll leave it at that for now. I hope that if you're not a podcast person that you give them a chance after reading this and if you're a 100%, ride or die for podcast type of kid, I would love to know what some of your favorites are so that I can workout to them in the future!

Until next time gang! XOXO