inspiration

Your Kindness is Never Small

Sometimes when I think about how big the world is and how many people are in it, and then how big the universe is and how much left there is to discover, I feel very small. I am just one person, in one place on one planet, in one galaxy in the universe. And when I focus too hard on being that small, it’s easy to feel powerless and inconsequential, as if what I do on a day-to-day basis doesn’t have a huge impact on everything else.

When I think this way, it’s hard to find inspiration to do good things, to show kindness, to dig deep and find empathy, or to reach out to someone who needs help. When you feel small, it’s easy to want to live small. It’s easy to let opportunities for kindness and compassion pass us by. Because what’s the point?

Thankfully, there is always a point. Always a purpose.

And I got a good reminder of that in a recent episode of the podcast, My Unsung Hero.

In the episode titled: Brenda Arnold’s Story, Brenda tells us about a time in the 1980’s when she went to visit her sister in Germany. She arrived on a weekday morning, and got to her sister’s house only to realize that she was at work. Without a cellphone or any knowledge about where she was, Brenda realized she was stuck. She sat down on the front porch, figuring she’d just have to wait there until her sister got home that evening.

As she sat, a few people walked by, asking her questions in German. She shook her head, as she didn’t know any of the language, and continued to sit there, nervous. Then a woman approached her, first speaking in German, but when Brenda again shook her head the woman changed course and asked, in English, if she was alright. Brenda was relieved and explained to the woman her situation.

“Oh no!” the woman said, “Well, would you like to come home with me? I’ll fix you something to eat.”

Brenda was taken aback by her kindness, but graciously accepted.

As they walked, the woman told Brenda that her husband had fought in World War II, and was captured and held in Louisiana as a POW for two years. While there, he was put to work on a farm but was treated very well and given plenty to eat. So when he came home, he told his wife that whenever they came into contact with an American, they would be kind to them.

So Brenda, who had come to Germany almost forty years after this man had come back from the war, reaped the benefit of this kindness. And not just any kindness, but kindness shown to him during an incredibly dark time in history. Kindness that was rare and perhaps unheard of in the throes of war.

And then, that kindness, shown to Brenda forty years ago, inspired me when I heard it on a podcast.

So that one act of kindness, 80 years ago, continues to stretch it arms and dig its roots. It mattered then and it still mattered. Everything we do, every small act of kindness matters.

The world is big, yes, the universe is nearly inconceivable, yes, but you are never small. Your life is never small. Your kindness is never small.

Merry (Half) Christmas!

Every year, come December, a large portion of the world is set ablaze by the joy and terror of Christmas shopping.

We make our lists, we check them 45 times, and then we often procrastinate until the last minute.

Christmas shopping is about finding special gifts for special someones, or perhaps buying gifts for people who you had no idea were going to buy you a gift, and now you feel like a jerk.

Ahhhhh, the magic of Christmas.

All that being said, you may have noticed that today is NOT Christmas. It’s not even almost Christmas—which department stores start to celebrate about mid-September these days.

BUT, it is almost half Christmas.

That’s right folks, this Saturday, June 25th, is indeed half Christmas, which is a very special holiday in my house.

Half Christmas, as we celebrate it, is when you buy a few gifts for yourself.  

Christmas shopping can be stressful. It’s hard to find the perfect gift and it’s even harder to find it on sale, in stock, and available within an appropriate shipping window. And even when we find the right gift, it’s hard to know if it fully expresses how special someone is to us or how thankful we are to have them in our lives.

Half Christmas shopping is the opposite.

It is never hard for me to pick out a few gifts for myself. I know what I like, I know what I’ve had my eye on, and I know I can return something *without* guilt if it doesn’t turn out the way I hoped.

Half Christmas is about me. It’s about you. It’s about thanking yourself, treating yourself, and celebrating yourself for all the hard work you do.

So it is my hope that you celebrate this year.

Buy that thing you’ve been wanting. Splurge a little. Get yourself something shiny or soft or pretty or powerful. Buy something that makes you want to call your friends and family and say, “look what I got!”

In case you are curious, here are a few things I’ve been considering for my half Christmas.

These shoes from Adidas (which are on major sale!)

These sunglasses from Sunski.

This book about Lost Objects.

And this shear bag (since they are required now at many sports stadiums and concert arenas).

.

I am wishing you a very merry half Christmas!

Get something fun! You deserve it 😎

My Weekend Without Context

I went to visit one of my best friends in San Diego last weekend. It was relaxing, fun, cozy, and very much needed, but when I sat down to write about it, I was having trouble figuring out how.

Our days were full, maybe not from going this way and that, but from talking, laughing, and just enjoying each other’s company, so while I couldn’t write one of my usual *travel* type blogs about it, I still felt like it was one I wanted to document. One I felt like you could relate to, or benefit from, even if you weren’t there.

That’s when I realized that I didn’t need to give you specific details, or even context, in order for you to understand or experience it. Because when I thought about the weekend, I saw it in a string of moments that we might all know. Moments that make you sigh wistfully, nod enthusiastically, and say, “YES” understandingly.

So I hope that as I walk you through my weekend in a rather unconventional way, your senses can be awakened, and a few ideas might come to mind, making you think, man, I should do that.

.

When the ETA on your GPS goes down by an HOUR.

The full body stretch after you arrive at your destination.

A shy smile from a little kid.

A hug from a friend you missed.

A comfy couch.

The perfect sandwich.

Easy conversation that can start anywhere.

Detailed daydreaming about future vacations.

Having lots of time to sit down and relax.

Looking at a friend and saying, “I do that TOO!”

The smell of a barbeque.

The feeling of a smile pulling across your lips.

A satisfied sigh at the dinner table.

Turning off all the lights to watch a movie.

Fresh popcorn out of the microwave.

Licking salt off your fingertips.

Cuddling up with a blanket.

Falling asleep hard and fast.

Waking up to the sun rather than an alarm.

Fresh fruit on a slow morning.

A deep belly baby laugh

A breeze on a hot day.

Cold beer.

Finding a seat in the shade.

Hot French fries.

Comfortable quiet.

A long relaxing breath.

Binge watching a tv show that makes you smile.

A sunset hike on the beach.

Pasta.

A fluffy pillow.

An easy Sunday morning.

A bright blue sky.

Inside jokes.

Cozy hugs.

Promises of “see you soon!”

Good music.

An easy drive.

Home.

Take a Nap on the Floor

Yesterday, as I drove home from church, I began to map out the rest of my Sunday in my head.

It was 11:45 a.m. and I was trying to plan my day out by the hour. I thought about going for a walk, or even a run. I wanted to get some chores done, to write for a few hours, to try on the dresses I bought and decide which ones I need to take back, to finish a report, to start doing peer reviews in my writing class, to plan the next big vacation I want to take, to buy a friend’s birthday gift, to book flights for an upcoming wedding—and about 10 more things.

If I did all these things, I thought, it would be a successful Sunday, and I would feel good.

But even as I planned, I knew I already didn’t feel good. I’d had trouble falling asleep the night before and woke up feeling anxious. And with this to-do list buzzing through my head, I felt, for the most part, like I wanted to burst into tears.

I am someone who has often believed that being productive makes me a better person. That living “right”—exercising, eating healthy, achieving things in a timely and efficient manner, checking off life events in time with everyone else—means I am living a successful life. And on the flip side of that, when I am not getting things done, when I’m not doing everything “right”, I feel like a failure, or like I’ve wasted time/days/etc.  I am quick to beat myself up over not getting things done or doing things right, and I am quick to assume that other people are judging me just as hard.

For example, I have an alarm set on my phone on weekends—weekends. This is partially because I like to get up at a decent hour and have time to take the morning slow and fully embrace my day off. But up until recently, I never fully admitted to myself that this alarm was also to ensure that I would not sleep in late and be deemed as lazy by other people.

This is a habit I am trying to break, it is a mindset I am trying to unlearn, it is an alarm I’m trying to turn off. I like to call this process untangling knots, and this is one that’s been double and triple tied for a long time. Having an unproductive day feels like making a mistake, being lazy feels like making a mistake, and I don’t give myself a lot of grace when it comes to “making mistakes.”

But yesterday, after I got home from church, and as I sat on the couch, feeling anxious and overwhelmed, I decided to do yoga.

My body was tired, my mind was tired. I had so much I wanted to do, so much on my mind, so much that was saying “if you don’t do this, you will WASTE your day!” But I rolled out my mat.

At the end, as I lay in savasana—which is just lying flat on your back with your eyes closed—I got tired. I told myself I should get up, I should get things done, I needed to get a move on my to-list or risk wasting the entire day. But instead, I grabbed a pillow and went to sleep, right there, on the floor. And when I woke up, I felt so much better.

Afterward, I walked into the living room and sat on the couch and watched the Dodger game. I did my daily bible study and then wrote this blog post. I ate dinner and then made banana bread.

A lot of my to-do list went unfinished, but I still felt good because I did things that served my soul. Things that helped me slow down and rest. Things that make the more traditionally productive days possible.

There are times when we need to buckle down and get things done. There are times when we can push ourselves to do things we never thought we could do. But what I’m trying to remind myself, is that the value of a day is not based on its productivity. My value is not based on my productivity. And neither is yours. Some days we can muster up the strength to check every single thing off our to-do list, and other days we might need to put the whole list aside and rest.

Both days are important. Both days will add value to your life. It is okay to make mistakes, it is okay to take days off, it is okay to sleep in on the weekends (or whenever your schedule allows.)

The only way to waste a day is to spend it in the past, regretting what you could have done, rather than spending it in the present, taking advantage of what you can do—even if that’s taking a nap on the floor.

To the Families in Uvalde: I Hope the Sea Splits for You

There are a lot of important conversations happening in the wake of the absolutely monstrous tragedy that took place at a Texas elementary school on Tuesday.

The weight of the lives lost—the where and how—is unbearable, and the why remains so far beyond understanding, I have trouble even asking the question out loud.

We all want to fix it, to say something that will take the events of that day back, or, at the very least, ensure that something like this will never and could never happen again.

I understand that want and that need, and I will continue to listen and contribute to the conversations and elections that hopefully will make that difference.

But when I was reflecting on what happened in Texas. When I thought of the families and the children and the teachers. As I bared a fraction of the pain that they are carrying right now, I kept having one image come to mind: The ocean.

I kept imagining being in the middle of the ocean, with no idea where to go or how to stay afloat, all while the waves raged and crashed. That’s how I imagine grief like this—like losing your child to senseless violence, like seeing an unspeakable tragedy unfold in your backyard—must feel. Like unendurable chaos. Like drowning.

While many of us will read about this tragedy online, waiting for the chance to vote or advocate or donate to causes or laws that aim to prevent this from ever happening again, there are people and families that will continue to feel like they are actively drowning. Amongst all of the arguments and social media posts and anger and hatred and blame and desperation, these people will still be feeling the full weight of this grief, holding on for dear life.

And so I’m thinking about them today—thinking about you.

I know that “thoughts and prayers” is practically a cliché at this point. So I want to be clear that when I say I’m thinking about you and that I’m praying for you, it’s not vague and it’s not impersonal.

I am hopeful that I can somehow pray to exactly where you are—right there in the water.

There is a story in the bible when Moses, who is freeing slaves from Egypt, parts the Red Sea so that they can get across. It is perhaps one of the most well-known bible stories, and one that shook me as a kid. I liked to imagine walls of fish higher than the Israelites heads, swimming around like nothing was out of the ordinary, like the sea hadn’t just split in half and humans were walking through it.

And while this notion of “splitting the sea” only literally happened once, the metaphorical experience is referenced a lot in the community of faith.

In the song “No Longer Slaves” by Bethel Music, there is the lyric: “you split the sea so I could walk right through it.” And in the song “Graves into Gardens” by Elevation Worship, there is one that says: “You turn seas into highways.”

And so my prayer is that through the support of your family, your friends, your community, our country, and the world, you will find something to grab onto, something to help keep you afloat as you mourn. I pray that you would not focus on the why—for nothing, no answer, no reason will take this pain away or make it make sense—but rather on the who. Who you lost. Who they were and how not just their death but their life changed the world.

I pray that in time the sea will split for you. That these raging waters will turn into solid ground. That you will find a path—not out, not away, but through. Right through the center, between the high walls of fish. And I pray that you’ll find freedom on the other side. Not from the memory of those you’ve lost, but from the darkness that would gladly hold you captive forever. I pray there’s a sunrise, and every color imaginable, I pray there is good where evil thought there could be none, and I pray there is hope when it once seemed impossible.

I am thinking of you, and I am praying for you. May faith find you, right there in the water.  

10 More Newsletters You Should Add to Your Inbox

A couple years ago I posted this blog about the newsletters you might want to consider adding to your inbox. And since I am a (self proclaimed) newsletter addict, I thought I’d do another round.

I am always on the hunt for a good newsletter. I love the short format, the concise information, and the often thought-provoking content.

They add some happy things to my inbox, and perhaps give me the smallest freedom to *curate* it.

So, if you’re looking for something new, here are a few suggestions:

.

1) Half Baked Harvest

Frequency: Depends on which emails you sign up for

I am subscribed to both her new recipe posts (which come a few times a week), and her “Nine Favorite Things” post that comes in on Sundays. Her recipes are easy to follow and the pictures she posts alongside them are GORGEOUS. I can also confirm that her food is delicious. I made these cauliflower pizzas and loved them. Her “Nine Favorite Things” post is a fun assortment of beauty, clothing, travel and podcast recommendations. I love both!

Find it here.

.

2) The Art of Noticing

Frequency: Every Monday

I mentioned this one is a previous favorites post, but I had to include it on this list too. It encourages you—just likes the name implies—to notice the world around you. Both the big things and the small things. I love this one and I always set aside time to read and absorb it each week.

Find it here.

.

3) More to That

Frequency: Sporadic

This is another one previously recommended but again, it is worth re-mentioning. This is not so much a newsletter as it is an occasional, long form blog. Each issue has a specific theme and message, along with cute and informative animations that act as visual aids. These posts always leave me thoughtful and reflective and I feel better having read them.

Find it here.

.

4) Book Freak

Frequency: About every other week

This newsletter chooses one self help book per issue and gives you quotes and/or advice from that particular book. I like it because it gives you a glimpse into what you will get if you choose to read that book, and it gives you access to some meaningful quotes that, alone, might leave you filled up and inspired.

Find it here.

.

5)  What’s in my…?

Frequency: Weekly

This one is for everyone out there (like me) who is NOSEY. Each week someone sends a list of things that they have in their purse/on their desk/in their office/in their refrigerator, etc., and I love it. I feel like people are letting me peek into their lives without feeling intrusive, and I am always up for a product recommendation or two.

Find it here.

.

6) A Thing or Two

Frequency: Every Monday

Speaking of product recommendations, this newsletter always has me opening up 15 internet tabs, as it’s full of everything you could imagine. There are recommendations ranging from art, home décor, podcasts, albums, plants, flowers, jewelry, clothing, anything and everything Clare and Erica (the writers) are loving that week. Big fan.

Find it here.

.

7) We Like L.A.

Frequency: Mondays & Thursdays

This one unfortunately only applies to my friends who live in the LA area, but that’s not to say there isn’t one out there for your city too. Each week and weekend it sends a list of activities, opportunities, etc. going on in the area, and while I don’t always have time to check everything (or, at times, anything) out, I like being in the know. I like hearing about all the fun things people are planning and doing, especially after going through two years when neither of those things were happening.

Find it here.

.

8) USPS Informed Delivery

Frequency: Everyday (except Sunday)

For all of my US friends, you might already know this, but I did not until a couple years ago. You can sign up to have the post office send you a digital preview of your mail each day! It doesn’t show you what is in the envelope, obviously, but it shows you the front of the envelope so you can get an idea of who it’s from and whether or not you have to make a trip to the mailbox that day. This can be especially helpful if you live in an apartment or condo and your mailbox isn’t right outside your door.

Find it here.

.

9) Vulture Crossword

Frequency: Every weekday

This is my most recent find and I have been loving it. I have always loved crossword puzzles and this is a super fun, relatively easy daily puzzle that is based in pop culture trivia. It’s been a fun addition to my morning routine and helps wake my brain up.

Find it here.

.

10) All the -rdle’s

Frequency: Daily

And finally, this one isn’t a newsletter but can act like one if you work it into your morning routine. You may or may not have heard of Wordle, the word game that asks you to guess a five letter word each day, and always sets Twitter on fire after a particularly hard one. Well, after Wordle, came a world of other “rdle’s” that tried to generate the same kind of hype. And in my case, they did. I like to do the Wordle first, then I play Quordle, which asks you to guess four five letter words simultaneously, and then I play Heardle, which asks you to guess a song based on the first 15 seconds. I usually try to do these each day, but I have also noticed that I come and go in streaks. I will do them every day for a week and then completely forget they exist for two weeks. But hey, it’s all about balance. And I like that there is an online code of sorts—you never reveal the answer (especially to the Wordle) so no one accidentally runs into a spoiler before they’ve had time to do it.

You can find Wordle here. Quordle here. And Heardle here.


Have any newsletters that you would recommend?

You can also check out my initial list of recommendations here.

7 Things Saving My Life Right Now

I recently listened to an episode of The Next Right Thing podcast where host, Emily P. Freeman, shared a list of things that are currently “saving her life.” The list was inspired by a question Barbara Brown Taylor answered in her memoir Leaving Church.

At first, the question was startling to me: “What’s saving my life right now?”

To answer the question, it seemed, one would need to find themselves in dire circumstances and give answers such as: medication, oxygen, a rope that someone threw over the side of a cliff and asked me to grab onto, etc.

But then, when asked to consider how often we say that “______ is killing me”—whether it be work, school, a tough coworker, a moody teenager, finances, etc.—I realized this question is actually a way to bring attention to the good things in our life. The things we look forward to in the day to day. The things that allow us to breathe in and calm down amongst all of the stress and chaos that feels like it is breaking us down bit by bit.

And so, today I want to share with you the things that are currently saving my life.

.

1) My houseplants

I don’t want to say that my mental health hinges on the state of my houseplants, but there is a special kind of relief that comes when they are not actively dying. I have two houseplants: a ZZ plant named Ruth, and a Fiddle Leaf Fig named Figgy Azalea, both of which are currently thriving. And if you’ve read this blog post from a while back where I wrote a series of haikus about my pension for killing plants, you’ll know this is an absolute joy for me.  

.

2) My counted cross-stitch

My calendar has felt full for the entire year thus far, and it shows no signs of slowing down. But on the nights when I’m home and able to sit on the couch and relax a little, I have found such joy in working on my latest cross-stitch. It makes me feel creative and gives my hands something to do other than scroll on my phone. I’m very thankful my grandma taught me how to cross stich all those years ago.

.

3) Phone calls with my friend Nicole

Last September one of my best friends moved to San Diego. On the last night she was in town, we decided that alongside texting and the occasional visit back and forth, we would plan to call each other (at least) once a month in order to stay active and up to date in each other’s lives. We also set up an emoji-based system that, should one person need an immediate phone call for various reasons, they can send that emoji like a bat signal.

Some of our emoji codes are as follows:

The suitcase 💼 which implies, there are things to unpack.

The bone 🦴 which says, I HAVE A BONE TO PICK.

And the dragon 🐲 which suggests: and I quote from our message, “there is too much going on and I feel so overwhelmed I think I’ve grown a tail and whiskers and just need to talk to a friend.”

These conversations have proven to be some of the highlights of my week. On our scheduled day I will pop my headphones in and go on a walk, and then we will talk (and talk and talk and talk) until our hearts are content or until it’s time to eat dinner.

Then, in the hours that follow, we usually send visual aids that relate back to the many things we covered over the course of our two-hour (or so) phone call, giving us each things to dive into and try out so we can reconvene and rediscuss later.

.

4) My mid-morning cashews

I know this one sounds silly. It is silly, but it’s true. Every workday I bring a small Tupperware container full of cashews to have for snack a couple hours before lunch. What started as a solution to mid-morning hunger pangs has become somewhat of a mile marker of my day. Once I have my cashews, I know I’m halfway to lunch. And, visa versa, once I’m halfway to lunch I get to have my delicious, salty, cashews. I try to savor them but always end up barreling through them like they are popcorn during a suspenseful movie. Nevertheless, they are always delicious and I always look forward to them.

.

5) My room in my parents’ house

You may have read this post back in January about the day we have since begun to refer to as “The Great Flood.” It was a very stressful, very ridiculous ordeal. But thankfully, when the time came to pack our stuff and get out so the repair process could begin, my parents offered to let me stay with them. Over the course of the last couple months, this room and their house has been a true blessing. It has lessened the weight of stress on my shoulders tremendously and it has allowed me to find a sense of routine and normal amongst so much chaos.

.

6) My writing class

I took almost a year off of pursuing my Creative Writing Certificate through UCLA Extension in order to work on a big writing project. But at the beginning of April I was able to sign up for another writing class—my fourth of six needed to complete the program. Almost instantly it put me in a good, creative headspace, and the presence of deadlines has helped me get back in a more consistent writing routine. I always love to see what kinds of essays and stories these classes can bring out of me, so I am very thankful to be back.

.

7) Baseball

I grew up watching Dodger baseball, and the pandemic years of no fans and then limited fans were tough. So to have baseball back in full swing this spring has been magical. Plus, baseball season always seems to bring order to my world. It brings my family together and gives us something to root for, and it’s one of the perfect evening watches after a long day at work.


What are some of the things that are saving your life right now?

You can also find the podcast episode here.

I Played Hooky!

When my alarm went off on Friday it felt like any other weekday. I hit snooze once—okay twice—and then I got up and went through my morning routine.

But it wasn’t a normal weekday. It wasn’t even a work day. Because I was playing hooky!

A couple weeks ago, I got an email from one of my favorite places to volunteer, Food Forward, offering the opportunity to pick blueberries.

“Bummer,” I said, reading through the details. “It’s on a Friday morning.”

As a long time Monday-Friday officer worker, 8:00am – 4:00pm are always work hours. They are accounted for. They are booked. So I almost deleted the email right then and there.

But then…I let it churn a bit.

I am not one for taking spontaneous days off. I like to plan vacations and there’s the occasional weekend trip I’ll extend one way or the other, but other than that, I go to work. I’m clocking in and clocking out and wondering a) why it isn’t Friday yet, or b) how can it already be Friday?

And I’ll admit, sometimes work weeks can get monotonous. They can blend together, making time slip by at the speed of light. Which is why, when I really let myself think about it, I decided, why not?

Why not take a spontaneous Friday off?

Why not?

So, on Friday morning I got in the car, and rather than head into work I drove out to a farm in Camarillo, feeling smug as I cruised past all the rush hour traffic going the opposite direction.

When I pulled into the gravel parking lot, I met my group of fellow volunteers, who all seemed as happy to be there as I was. It was 73 degrees, it was Friday, none of us were at work. Life was good.

We walked by an orchard of avocado trees to a large tent that had almost twenty rows of blueberry bushes and a few rows of strawberry bushes right alongside them. We were each given a small bucket and told to choose an aisle.

For the next couple hours, I filled my bucket and then emptied it, dying my hands blue in the process. I’ll admit, there may have been a good handful or so of blueberries that missed my bucket and ended up in my mouth—with the permission of the farmers, of course.

At 11:00 a.m., we wrapped up our pick and calculated that we harvested around 90 pounds of blueberries. Which, when you consider that the average blueberry weighs about 1/128th of an ounce, this would suggest that we picked about 184,320 blueberries. Which would fill about 240 six-ounce containers of blueberries.

*pauses for applause*

(for the blueberry picking, yes, but also for the math I just did)

Our blueberries were donated to a food shelter, and we all left with smiles on our faces, grateful for the opportunity to lend a hand, and to spend the morning on a farm.

When I’d first made plans for my day off, I knew I’d be picking blueberries in the morning and wedding dress shopping with my sister in the afternoon. That left me a handful of hours in between to do with what I wished. So, as I got ready in the morning, I packed a bag with a few pairs of shoes, a change of clothes, and a beach towel.

After I left the farm, I headed north to a sandwich shop called Peebee & Jays. I ordered the Chicken & Greens sandwich on sourdough and filled my Hydroflask, then drove to the beach. I changed out of my blueberry stained t-shirt and into a comfortable crewneck and flip flops, then I carried my beach towel and sandwich bag out to the sand and took a seat.

The beach was nearly empty, with only a few people in sight in either direction. All I could hear was the water. I sat crisscross applesauce and watched the waves as I ate my sandwich, occasionally pausing to close my eyes and feel the breeze hit my face, my hair, my toes.  The ocean was loud but my mind was quiet.

I felt like I had time to think, to plan, to exist, to relax. A lot has happened this year, and there is a lot more year left to live. There will be a lot of work days ahead. A lot of busy weeks and full calendars. There will be a lot of change—some good, some hard, some both—and a lot of new.  But today there was just this. There was just the sound of the ocean, the sand between my toes, and this peaceful feeling that I’d grabbed onto with both hands.

I could have been at work, I could have let that email pass me by, I could have let this Friday blend in with the Wednesday and Thursday before it. But I decided to make it different. I decided to make it special. I decided to play hooky. And I was grateful I did.

If you’re looking for a sign to play hooky, this is it!

March & April Favorites

Spring is in full bloom here at home, which means that all of the birds are happily chirping, the plants are happily glowing a vibrant green, and the flowers are happily blooming in every color you can think of.

Seems like the perfect time to talk about some favorites.

.

Podcasts

I have been absolutely binging Terrible, Thanks for Asking. This might be a little bit strange to hear if you a) know the podcast or b) look it up on this recommendation, because many of the episodes are emotional and, at times, devastating. But I am so drawn to the stories and emotions that this podcast inspires, and I just can’t get enough of it. I am addicted to the feelings it draws out of me, if that makes sense. They are creative feelings, they are empathetic feelings, they are feelings that say, hey, you’re alive, and I just love it.

.

Books

I have a few recommendations based on what you might be looking for here

If you are looking for a romantic comedy, I’d say The Hating Game. This book was cute, strange (in a good way), funny and easy to read. It starts with: “I have a theory. Hating someone feels disturbingly similar to being in love with them” and then follows two characters who toe this line—and cross it.

If you are looking for something you cannot put down, I’d say Verity. I’d heard a lot of rumblings about this book and wanted to read it for myself. After starting, it took about five minutes for me to a) need to know everything that was going to happen, and b) need to have someone to discuss every second of the book with—a task I quickly gave to my mom, who said, “omg let me know what happens,” and allowed me to update her on the drama/horror/shock as I went along. The basic plot is that a woman is hired to finish writing a series of books since the author (named Verity) has been in an accident and is unable to continue writing. The woman then moves into Verity’s house (alongside Verity’s husband and son) so that she can immerse herself in Verity’s notes, outlines, etc. and she finds FAR more than she anticipated.

If you are looking for an inspirational read to change your perspective, I’d say The Gift of Forgiveness. This is a collection of stories that highlight forgiveness and the sometimes unbelievable/unbearable circumstances where people have found themselves in need of forgiving. At the beginning of every chapter I said, “no way,” in regards to the possibility/necessity of forgiveness and was continuously blown away by the human capacity to do so.

.

Movies

I didn’t hear a lot about Everything, Everywhere, All At Once before it hit theaters, but after it did, all I heard was that it was fantastic. And I agree. It is nearly impossible for me to explain to you what happens. But I can honestly say that you’ve never seen anything like it, and that you will experience seemingly every emotion while watching it. Just watch it. It’s incredible.

Also, Father Stu. If you want a reason why you should look up this movie, here is the opening line on the Wikipedia page dedicated to the subject of this true story: “Stuart Long was an American boxer and Catholic priest.” This was an incredible story, that had humor and heart, and took turns I definitely didn’t anticipate. What an inspiring man and a truly meaningful life.  

.

TV Shows

Pam & Tommy follows the beginning (and initial end) of the relationship between Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee, and the theft and release of their sex tape. It is honestly devastating to watch, both because of the invasion of privacy, and the way in which Pamela Anderson was treated afterwards by the media and the lawyers that were supposed to be helping her. Both Lily James and Sebastian Stan put on incredible performances and the makeup team should win an award. (find it on Hulu)

The Girl from Plainville is based on the true story from a few years back where a girl was taken to trial for allegedly encouraging her boyfriend to commit suicide. It is a heavy subject and is hard to watch at times. But I feel like it addresses an important subject and, at least for me, is a reminder of how precious life is— how precious each individual is—and how much is lost, both for a family and for the world, when someone takes their own life. (find it on Hulu)

.

Music

Humble Quest by Maren Morris

Raised by Hailey Whitters

Where We Started by Thomas Rhett

.

Two Dots

I’m not really one for playing games on my phone, but Two Dots has sucked me in. I couldn’t tell you how/when I found it, but it is such a simple concept and has been an easy thing to play while I’m decompressing after a long day at work. Plus, it’s free, so we love that. (find it here)

.

Alabaster Co Meditations

I have wanted to get into a consistent meditation routine for a while now but have had trouble finding meditations that draw me in and keep me focused. So I was very excited to find these guided Christian meditations on YouTube that are all brief and easy to follow. I like to do them after I finish doing yoga or when I just need to refresh my mind after work. (find them here)


Have anything you’ve been loving over these last couple months? Let me know!

See my previous favorites post here.

How to Pray for Other People When You Don’t Know What to Say

Prayer, to me, is very special, but it’s also something that I’m still learning a lot about.

I am not that comfortable with praying in front of other people, and so I mostly do it in private. Sometimes I will pray aloud and other times I like to write out my prayers, both in a journal and in word documents on the computer—sometimes I feel like I can better get my thoughts out that way.

Even so, sometimes I feel like I’m not saying everything I want to—everything I need to. And when it comes to praying for other people, I have often felt completely unqualified. I have heard prayers (spoken both over me and others) that seem to have just the right words. They hit all the right marks, speak to all the important issues, and leave everyone feeling filled up with hope.

So even though I’ve grown comfortable with my own style of prayer, I have wanted to improve upon my prayers for others. And lately, I have come across a lot of people to pray for. People I know directly, people I know through others, and people I have seen on tv or read about online. There has seemingly been this big sign everywhere I look saying: PRAY FOR THEM! And so naturally I have been throwing my arms up in the air and saying, “I DON’T KNOW HOW.”

In the past, I might have just let the prayer requests pass me by. But this year I have felt the pull to pray stronger than ever before.

So, I started making a list.

Whenever someone asked for prayer, or when I saw a friend or acquaintance or complete stranger that I thought needed prayer, I would put their name on a list on my iPhone, and then, occasionally, I’d glance at it.

This counts, I thought to myself.

I was intentionally keeping their names at the front of my mind, I was making God a checklist that he could run down, and thus, I was praying for people.

While I don’t necessarily think this is incorrect, I quickly began to feel like it wasn’t enough. I was being called to do more. To pray more.

So, I started reading their names out loud.

I would say a name and then mention the reasons that person needed prayer. But then, like before, I felt self-conscious that I wasn’t saying enough or that I wasn’t praying the “right” prayer.

But then I realized that God already knows the right prayer. He knows exactly what that person needs, and he knows exactly why I put their name on my list. I don’t have to know or say the “perfect” prayer for it to be a meaningful one. And I can’t let the fear of not saying the “right” words keep me from saying any at all.

So, I wrote “the name prayer.”

It is not the only prayer I pray, but it is one that I pray often. It helps me stick to a prayer routine, and it cuts out a lot of the self-consciousness that I’ve previously felt while trying to pray for other people. When I find a moment of stillness and silence—which for me is often right before bed—I will read this prayer aloud, followed by the names on my list.

.

Dear God,

I lift up each person on this list. They are all on here for different reasons and all need different prayers. So I pray that as I say their names you would hear the prayer they need. I pray that you would comfort those who need comforting, heal those who need healing, and draw close those who feel lost. I pray that you meet each and every person where they are, where they need you most, and that you would fill them with hope and surround them with love.

.

If you need prayer today, I’d be happy to pray for you. You don’t have to explain why, or know how to express the exact prayer you need, just simply leave a comment with your name and I will add you to my list.

And if you are looking for an easy way to start praying for other people, this might be a great place to start. Open a note on your iPhone and make a list, look (and listen) for people who need prayer, and simply speak their name alongside this prayer. God will know what they need. God will do the rest. ❤