Days of Rest

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Sunday afternoons are my favorite.

Sunday mornings are busy with church work, volunteer responsibilities and a busy spouse.

But Sunday afternoons?

They are for naps.

They are for catching up on family time.

They are for enjoying each other.

They are for football.

They are for playing games.

They are for naps (wait, I already said that).

We don’t take enough time to rest. At least I know I don’t. One of my twitter friends said something the other day about how she didn’t understand how “just” working 45ish hours a week could keep a person busy. So I started thinking about my days and naming my minutes and hours. Work is just one piece of the puzzle. I am busy. We all are busy. Probably too busy.

So on Sundays, I try to remember to rest. I don’t go to the grocery. I don’t go shopping after we get home. I put on my pajama pants and I rest.

We watch TV.

We watch a movie.

We rest.

We walk Madison.

I read.

I write.

Rest makes me ready for the next week. Rest makes me recalibrate my inner engine to a slower speed. Rest makes me a better person.

How about you?

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On Vulnerability (Or Why People are Awesome)

vulnerability quote

So, just a few weeks ago, I posted a blog that was hard for me to write. It was the saga of a skin issue that, as of today, is still not resolved. It took a lot of courage for me to post that blog, because I knew it would draw attention to me and my skin issues (plus, I felt a little strange talking about it).  What I have learned since then, though, is that vulnerability is what opens us up to really knowing the people in our lives and being known by them.

After posting that blog, I immediately received emails, comments, texts and facebook updates of encouragement, of love and, most importantly, reminding me that it didn’t really matter all that much (in the best way possible). My friends showered me with affirmation, love and compassion, never belittling my frustrations, but reminding me that they are not what people first see when they look at me. My friends saw through the pain of my words and reached into my heart, reminding me that they love me because of the person I am on the inside, not whatever craziness is happening on the outside.

Here’s what else I learned:

  • Vulnerability reminds me that we’re not alone in the world
  • Vulnerability reminds me that we’re not meant to struggle through anything by ourselves
  • Vulnerability reminds me that I’m not in charge
  • Vulnerability reminds me that I’m human; imperfect, impractical, human
  • Vulnerability reminds me that I’m not the one in charge of my story

And, here’s the big one for me:

Vulnerability reminds me that I have to trust the people in my life to love me despite my flaws, to encourage me in my moments of frustration, sadness and doubt, and to see beyond the things I obsess over to who I really am.

Let me say that again:

Vulnerability reminds me that I have to trust the people in my life to love me despite my flaws, to encourage me in my moments of frustration, sadness and doubt, and to see beyond the things I obsess over to who I really am.

I wonder how many times that will have to go through my brain before it sticks? Probably at least 1,000 more times…this week.

So, if you’re one of the wonderful people who has prayed for me, who has sent me messages, who has just been a constant source of encouragement and love throughout this ordeal, thank you. I love you and I am forever grateful for you. Thank you for treating my vulnerable heart so well. I’m a lucky, lucky woman.

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#MADMlinkup: Words Matter

MADM-Circle-FinalI am really bad at negative self-talk. Or, maybe I’m really good at it? Now I’ve confused myself. I’m an expert at talking negatively about myself. What I realized this weekend, however, was that sometimes all you can do is believe in yourself just a little bit more than you have before.

On Saturday, I did my first (and mostly likely only) 1/2 marathon. A dear friend convinced me to sign up. I did. And then winter was hard and we didn’t train like we should and suddenly it was April. And my April tried to kill me. So, I didn’t go into the weekend feeling prepared at all. Instead, I went into it with a little bit of dread. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew I wouldn’t hit the goals I had set for myself when I first signed up. I knew I wouldn’t get the time I wanted. I knew we wouldn’t move as fast as we should have. I knew it would be one of the hardest things I had ever done.

It turns out I was right on all accounts.

we did it

Jenni and I at the finish line. I could be negative. I’m choosing to be positive!

What does this have to do with my Make a Difference Monday posts, you ask? Well, here’s the thing I also learned this weekend – at about mile 9 when all I wanted to do was give up:

I cannot make a difference in the world if I don’t believe in myself.
I cannot continue
to try to inspire people to be the change and light in their worlds when I do not believe I can be the same in mine.
I cannot encourage those I love while silently discouraging myself
.

The negative words I speak to myself about myself have to stop. There is a lot to change in my world. There is a lot that I would like to change about myself. There is a lot that needs to change. But I have to stop talking about myself in ways that I would never talk about other people. I need to learn to see myself through the eyes of the people who don’t see my flaws first. I need to love myself. And by loving myself I can better love my world.

So, that’s how I want  you to make a difference this week. Every time you think about saying something negative about yourself, stop. See yourself like the people who love you see you. See yourself like God sees you.  Be brave! Be strong! Be vulnerable! Believe!

Do you need help getting rid of your negative self-talk? Check out The Gift of Imperfection by Brene Brown. It requires a lot of honesty on your part to do it well. But it’s so worth it.

Love,

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Join the #madmlinkup fun here!

Hello, my name is Emily…

..and I am a technology addict. I’ve known this for awhile, but lately it’s been something I’ve been thinking about more and more.

The realization started a couple years ago when my mom made a somewhat off-handed comment about how Tim and I are always have our faces down in our phones. It really stuck with me. And, what’s more, it really bothered me. I don’t want to be the kind of person who is often disengaged in the world as it happens around me. I want to be present and active for my friends, for my family, for my job, so I’ve been thinking about it a lot. And I’ve been noticing how right she was, and how the world is more and more isolated, even though there are so many people we could actually interact with on a regular basis.

I’ve noticed that my neck is often bent over my phone. Or my iPad. Or looking at my laptop. Or so many things. For me, it’s social media. I check Facebook, Twitter and Instagram way more than is really necessary. I check Facebook and then recheck it just a few moments later. I wait for new Tweets to pop up even though I really really don’t need to be interested.

For other people, it’s news sites, blogs, or photo sites. For some people it’s following entertainment or playing games. For other it’s probably something even darker.

My “need” to always know what is going on in social media means that I spend way too much time comparing myself with other people. I am jealous of successes of friends, even when I should just be happy for them. I feel like I’m not living enough of my life, when I am actually doing a really good job living for the most part.

So, I know something needs to change. I am going to do my best to do something about it. That means less time on Facebook and Twitter. Less time on Instagram and Pinterest. More time engaging with my husband. I will put my phone down more and look people in the eye. I will be better at being in the world.

My name is Emily and I am a technology addict.

Admitting it is the first step to recovery.

Your Story Matters

storyline

This is the first of what I am sure will be several posts on the amazing 48 hours that was the Donald Miller Storyline Conference I recently attended in Nashville. It’s probably good that I’ve had a week to distance myself from the conference and not completely freak out about it. I needed a little bit of time to process and step away from what was one of the most impactful and meaningful conferences I’ve ever attended.

My first notes from the very first speaker on Saturday morning say this:

What would the world be missing without your story? When you hear someone’s story it is hard to hate them. If you want the world to change, do it. Make it happen.

That was the first 15 minutes.
Yeah. Talk about a lot to digest.

In just those first few minutes, I knew something without a doubt. I have been living my life on the fringes of my story. Instead of living with wild abandon the story God would have me tell, I have just shown enough of who I am to make myself feel safe without showing enough to really risk being hurt and being vulnerable.

That changes now. 

Won’t you join me as I process through the next few weeks, the Storyline Book, and what it means to really, truly live the story of my life?!?

Defending Generation Y

There are a lot of articles and blog posts going around right now about how Generation Y is a bunch of unhappy, miserable people. Recently this article from the Huffington Post made the rounds on Facebook and was shared by dozens of my social media friends. Then I woke up to twitter people I follow once again complaining about how entitled, annoying and generally worthless Generation Y is. And, I’ve had enough. I am part of this generation, loosely those born between the late 1970’s and the late 1990’s by some sources, later for others. The lines are not clear on what people exactly make up this generation, but for the sake of this article, I’m including myself and my peers.

Like I said, I’ve had enough. Are there whiny, annoying people in this generation? Sure, there are. But you know what, there are whiny, annoying people in every generation. As far as I know, this is not a phenomenon limited only to people born as children of baby boomers. We are not the only annoying people on the planet. Are there people in this generation who see themselves as entitled, opinionated, worthy of all praise? Sure. But, again, that is not unique to this generation. So please, please, please stop saying everyone in this generation is worthless and a disappointment to the world.

Because, here’s the truth as I see it. For every one person who seems to give this generation a bad name, I can name more people who I know personally who are changing the world. People like my friends Vince and Stephanie, who decided that their responsibility is to go to Africa, meet the people there, and join them in their lives. They did not move to Africa to save the people; they moved to Africa to live amongst and with the people.

Or my friend Elizabeth, who is following her passions and works her tail off in not one, but two jobs. She works hard, loves deeply, and cares about others way more than herself. She doesn’t see herself as entitled to anything other than what she has earned, and she definitely is happy, joyful and leaning into her life. She may not be perfectly content in every area of her life, but she’s working toward being good with where she is right now, in this moment.

Or my brother, Cameron, who worked hard in high school, harder in college, and is in his very first post-degree job. And guess what? He’s still working hard. He gets up every day, goes to work, does his job, and connects with his circle of influence.

Or the girls I went to college with who are working hard being wives, raising families, working jobs and having friends. They don’t strike me as entitled at all. I’m sure it’s hard to feel entitled with baby spit, childhood tantrums, over-bearing bosses, busy spouses and complicated schedules. The only thing I think they probably feel “entitled” to would be a nap and a spa day (and I don’t think they’d be wrong).

Or the dozens of women I met at the influence conference, including self-starters, business administrators, entrepreneurs, writers, and more. They work hard every day to make their dreams a reality. They put in time after and before their “real” jobs. They ask hard questions of themselves and others. They give graciously with their time and resources. They don’t expect anything to come easy. And, if for a moment something does, they know what a unique gift that is.

Or take some time to meet my friend Allison, who works a full-time job helping others be better marketers, is involved and on the board of a civic organization, writes in her spare time, finds time to enjoy theatre and embrace all her city has to offer.

Or meet my friend David, who knows that the only way to change his life is to decide to do it. He’s lost a ton of weight, kept it off, works hard in a job that maybe isn’t exactly his passion, and still finds time to train for marathons, forge relationships, lead a group of high school guys, and stay connected to his family. There isn’t a bone in his body that is waiting around for all the good things to be handed to him on a silver platter.

And that’s just a few of the people in my world who are debunking the myth that our generation is nothing but needy and wanting. I’m sure those people exist. There are grumpy, unhappy people who don’t want to work for what they want in every circle and every generation, including mine. I’m just tired of them getting all the press. Let’s face it – there are businesses being run, classes being taught, children being reared, stories being told and lives being changed because of this generation. Let’s please stop saying there is all this bad and nothing good. That’s just a bold-faced lie.

And to the point in the Huffington Post article about this generation being told they could be and do whatever they wanted to be or do: that’s completely true. We have been told that. My family believes in my dreams and supports every one of them. They support the mistakes and the successes because they have shaped me. I was told that I could be and do anything and everything. But, I was never told it would just come to me. That commission to not dream small was always given with one important caveat that you seem to ignore: dreams take work. Passions take effort. But, if you’re willing to commit and work hard, you can be anything.

I pity the person who doesn’t believe that, quite frankly.

An Open Letter to My Brother…

…On the Occasion of His Graduation from College and Starting His Career.



Cam and I after his Rose-Hulman Graduation

Dear Cameron,

There is always so much I want to say and so much advice I want to give you. But, I also know how smart you are and how confident you are and you will succeed at whatever you do. Still, this is my chance to impart all my big sister advice – sometimes being 12 years older has its advantages!

Be Kinder than Necessary
You are such a good person. You are kind and considerate to people always. I am proud of who you have become and who you are. As you start your new job, you will have abundant opportunities to meet new people, and you won’t always know their stories. Be kind to everyone you meet. They are all fighting hard battles going through who knows what in life. When someone has a bad day, remember it’s not about you. The best thing you can do is repay them with kindness and compassion.

Trust Yourself
You’ve gone through a lot o classes and learned a lot in the past four years. Now is the time to trust that schooling and your education. You know more than you even realize. You will be a huge success at whatever you do, and now is the time to trust all the hours of studying and work that have led to this moment.

Stay Humble
You still have a lot to learn. Knowing that is the first step in succeeding in the workplace and with friends! Admitting you don’t know the answers is hard, but it’s good for you (and for the people around you).

Risk More
We’re not risk-takers by nature. Please, please take some risks. Try new foods, meet new people, say yes to invitations you might otherwise have said no to. Meet people. Be adventurous. I know – you’re just like me. After a long day at work, going home and hanging out on the couch sounds like the perfect evening. And that’s fine, but don’t get so comfortable there you never do anything else!

Laugh A Lot
Life is serious…seriously funny. There is always time for laughter and joy. Find the things that make you happy and do them. A lot. Be the first person to laugh at yourself.

Give Back
Find an organization or charity that you love and give back. Volunteer your time, talents and money to serve the hungry, the homeless, the endangered, the scared…whatever fulfills that passion in your heart. You’ll never regret the hours or dollars you spend helping others, I can guarantee it.

Plan for the Future
Time goes fast. Too fast. Take time now to think about where you want to go and who you want to be. Then do what you need to do to get there. Don’t wait until you think you have life figured out to do this. Don’t wait until you meet the perfect girl – start making plans now!

Don’t Compromise Yourself
You know who you are, what you are willing to do, and the lines you just won’t cross. Don’t compromise yourself to be popular or get ahead at work. Your integrity matters long after immediate success; remember to be who you are.

Call Your Mom
She loves you. And she’s going to be your biggest supporter and your biggest advocate your entire life. Drop her a text, a phone call, an email, a message via carrier pigeon – just drop her a line. It will mean the world to her.

Love,