An open letter to summertime

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Dear Sweet Summertime,

The ease of waking up and the welcoming presence of a new day give me peace.

The freedom of laying in bed for way longer than necessary and no pressure to get up at a certain time.

The collection of colorful mugs of cold brew each morning, not those evil travel mugs and their symbols of hurry and busyness.

No make up, no hair brushing, and no contacts for as long as I want.

The uncovering of emotions that I forgot I had because it was nestled safely underneath the more glaring issues of children and parents and learning.

The space in you brain to adequately reflect on the other areas of my life, such as the church group I lead.

The slow walks with Franklin and the quiet mornings watching him on the patio bark on birds.

The energy to enter hard conversations and let it take up my entire brain space.

The capacity to love others with greater awareness and intentionality.

The blank white space on my google calendar.

The quiet music playing from speakers filling the living room and dining room with its’ melodies.

Slow and careful handwriting across pages of journals writing whispers of prayers, shouts of joy, hidden dreams, and anything else that I want.

Hot summer afternoons spent by the pool with a good book and the smell of sun screen.

Vacations spent connecting with my husband and the memories to be made.

Sand between my toes, rhythms of ocean waves crashing with no plans of stopping, and a summer rain shower that makes sure you know there’s no such thing as a perfect day–but it was pretty close to perfect.

The constant process of relearning to relax, slow down, be still, and be present in each moment.

Summer, these are the reasons I love you.

But, I know you can’t stay forever.

Just, please go slowly.

 

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The Top 5 Letters in My Alphabet

My February series was a doozy for me, but I keep thinking about how much  I learned about discipline in my writing from it. I’ve also been reflecting on what caught people’s eye the most.

Here are the most popular posts of the alphabet:

5. B is for Books – 4 Reasons to Pick Up a Book Right Now

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4. C is for Change – How to Make a Change Right This Second

3

3. S is for Start – What You Need to Do Right No to Jump Start Your Passions

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2. F is for Faith – The Beginner’s Guide to Writing About Faith

6

1. A is for Asian Americans – What You Need to Know About the Asian American Identity

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Which one of these stands out to you the most? How about in the rest of the series? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

T is for Thankful

On this dreary Wednesday night, there’s nothing more fitting than a good old fashioned Thank You post!

10 Things I’m Thankful For Today & Everyday:

  1. Good Old Green Car has been a trusty companion for the past several years. I’m thankful it’s still running and doesn’t have any of that modern technology like power locks or power windows.
  2. Franklin the Dog’s jumping to come home to. His ever wagging tail and excessive panting always put a smile on my face the minute I walk in the door.
  3. My Students – between the good and bad, easy and hard, empowering and draining, funny and serious, energizing and tiring – there is always something to be thankful for in who they are and what they are learning.
  4. Coffee – Need I say more? Coffee is always there for me when I need her most. She gives me a false sense of energy and a false sense of confidence, but it’s all I need on any sleepy-eyed morning.
  5. Snapchats full of bitmojis with friends who get me and the true authenticity that these tiny pictures share.
  6. Josh’s hugs. Comfort and safety and love all wrapped together.
  7. Morning Time Bible Reading – no matter how groggy I am or sleepily I scroll the my Bible app, I’m thankful for the power these words and the
  8. The gift of words. If you’ve read any of my other posts,  you know the ways that I’m learning to embrace words strung together for others to read.
  9. The power of reading – the escape it brings, the diversity it shows, and the freedom it gives me to imagine and believe.
  10. Laughter. Always laugh. Find something to laugh at. If nothing else, just laugh at yourself. It makes everything better.
  11. Choice. The opportunity to make a choice on my thoughts, feelings, and attitude. The opportunity to choose what I do and where I go, what my future could hold and the steps I might take to shape it.
  12. Connection. I wrote about my new word(s) for the new year, and this was one of them. Connecting means being present with the environment and people I’m in right here and right now. Focusing on connection – when I remember to – has changed so much for me in my day to day life. I need to remember that more!

O is for Opinion

The opinion of others is something that plagues me. For many years, I’ve allowed the opinion of others to control me, dictate my self worth, and determine my moods. I’ve given over my power and agency to others’ opinions. And for that, my mental health has suffered and my joy has been hastily given away.

I allow others’ opinions of me take over my own opinions of myself. I let their views on who I am dictate how I see myself. If they think that I’m inadequate, invisible, or insignificant, I begin to see myself in that way too. If they see that I’m outstanding, exceeding their expectations, and amazing, I begin to see myself in that way too. It truly is a double edged sword.

The cousin to opinion is comparison. I compare the opinions that people have of another person to be in direct link to me. If she is getting all the attention and I’m not, that must mean that she is worthy of the attention and I’m not. If they see her to be impressive and awesome, they must not be seeing me that way either.

In reality, a lot of what I perceive to be others opinions may not even be true. And, even if it is, how much does it really matter? Josh is a king at not caring about the opinion of others.

If they don’t matter, then their opinion doesn’t matter.  – Joshua Lee

At first, I thought that this was a bit harsh. Everybody matters, at least to me. 😉 But, this isn’t about anybody’s worth or value. This is about specific people’s influence over my life. I can’t walk through life disregarding every single person’s opinion. I don’t think that’s wise or responsible. However, I can’t walk through life regarding and giving whim to every single person’s opinion, either.

When evaluating another person’s opinion, it’s important to ask myself these questions:
  1. Are they in my inner circle? There are few people in my inner circle, to whom I would really allow to help shape and guide the bigger decisions in my life. These are people that know me deeply and fully. These are wise people who want the best for me and are truly in my corner.
  2. Is the opinion real or assumed? It’s easy for me to think that “everyone” has a poor opinion of me when the compliments and affirmation run dry. It’s easy to think that nobody likes me or that everybody hates me when I receive small criticisms or feedback. Yet, I can only go off of what people say to me. I can’t assume the opinion of a large group of people, or project one piece of feedback onto a whole crowd of people.
  3. This doesn’t say anything about my worth. This isn’t a question, but it’s a statement. When somebody else’s opinion of me is confirmed as reality (which, let’s face it, it rarely is…because nobody is criticizing or critiquing me nearly as much as I assume), it doesn’t say anything about my worth, value, beauty, gifts, or identity. Period. Case closed.

M is for Marriage

I wrote this list when Josh and I were engaged. We had been thinking, reading, and talking a lot about how to “prepare” for our marriage. After awhile of talking about something for so much, there’s nothing else to say and there comes a time where you just have to walk through it.

After almost two years have passed, I see that these ideas are more true than I realized at the time. Here they are:

Things I thought I learned about marriage before it even started, but are still true today:
  1. Getting married doesn’t mean you have arrived. *girl tells story about problems in dating* “And look at us now, we’re married! So it all worked out!!!” ………No. Getting married does not make you a success story and it does not mean that you have arrived. It’s just the beginning. Marriage isn’t a trophy you tote around to talk about your success and victory in dating. No.
  2. Your past sin is not going to ruin your marriage. Maybe this one has a caveat. It won’t ruin your marriage…unless you let it. If it hasn’t been dealt with and brought into the light, then yes. If there is unforgiveness, then yes. I get where the idea that it’s going to doom your marriage would come from. But, just because it existed, that doesn’t mean that your marriage will suffer. There is healing. There is redemption. Jesus didn’t command purity so that when we failed he could use our failure to withhold good from us in the future. He commanded purity because it is for our good.
  3. Getting married doesn’t mean you have to have it all together. I’ve had this idea of what I would be like and what my husband would be like when we got married. It included perfection, an absence of sin, unwavering understanding of each other, and unattainable levels of maturity. That’s not reality. Our problems won’t be solved just because we get married. It isn’t some magical fairy land where the world stops and all your problems go away. Life goes on and the world keeps moving.

On this Valentine’s Day, Josh and I spent time thinking about our marriage and what it means. It’s crazy that tomorrow we are are speaking to college students about marriage. I hesitated to sign onto this because I just feel so beginner. Our marriage is in its’ beginnings still, we are finding our footing, and we are learning a lot.

I hope that we never stop learning a lot.

Through it all, I’m thankful for the parallel of Christ and the Church and a husband and wife. I’m thankful that the redemption that is easily seen in marriage, and for the joy it is to journey in the ups and downs with my favorite friend, partner, and husband.

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I’m thankful for this guy and for everything that makes him who he is. Thanks for making me smile this hard every single day. This one’s for you, Josh. I love you so much.