Lizzie McGuire: Far from Home

Yesterday, after spin class, I decided I wanted to eat mozzarella sticks in an air-conditioned room full of strangers, so I went to see Spiderman: Far from Home. 

It’s worth noting that I did not know that it was the movies first day in theaters, I just had a hankering for warm cheese, and it was this or wait three hours for “Yesterday.”  

I am no Spiderman expert, my most recent exposure to our webbed friend was the first 45 minutes of “Into the Spiderverse” before falling asleep on a plane. But I did have a Lizzie McGuire enthusiast podcast. I watched the Lizzie McGuire movie six times over the course of a month this Spring. I know the film backwards and forwards. And I am here to say Spiderman: Far from Home is a Lizzie McGuire Movie knock off. 

From the jump, the connections are right there. The school trip to Italy. The dynamics of sitting next to your crush on an airplane. The just friends trying to become more than friends, but oops sharing your feelings is hard. The chaperone shenanigans. The close call with the tour bus. The use of remote controlled robots. The being tricked by an older, handsome, foreign man who at the beginning feels sketchy and then you’re like “ok I was wrong, OH WAIT I WAS RIGHT.” The fashion; Jake G’s onesie, I am looking at you. 

Spiderman: Far from Home will no doubt have more box office success than our dear Lizzie, it’s not difficult to do. But can it take hold of  the zeitgeist in the same way, “Lizzie McGuire, you are an outfit repeater!” has? Can the London Bridge peck between Zendaya and Tom Holland (this time with arms!) hold a candle to Lizzie finally realizing her feelings for Gordo? Can whatever was happening in that final fight scene compare to the suspense in disbelief that watching Lizzie power through “This is what dreams are made of” requires?

Double P did accomplish what we are all supposed to get when we go to Europe; adventure, romance, total confidence. 

It’s 2019, there is nothing new under the sun. We should expect nothing more and nothing less. We should however expect our movies to be demonstrating care for the environment, and not just blatantly using plastic straws with nary a care for the sea turtles.


February and March Five Things All Stars

Sorry this blog post is months late! I really have no excuse.

Great Reads

Amazon Buys

Music

  • My Soul has Found a Resting Place by Indelible Grace

  • Hey Mamama

My New Go-To Dinner

Chop up the following and set on a baking sheet:
-One whole sweet potato
-2/5 of a red onion
-1/2 of a red apple
-A handful or so of broccoli 
Douse the whole thing with olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic salt. Bake at 425 for 17 minutes. Enjoy!

it's me again, this time about the Chacos

I joked about writing this think piece, and now I'm actually doing it. Welcome to my Reba year.

Sunday afternoon I read a review of "Us," Sunday evening I found myself in a theater watching "Us" wearing my favorite Athleta turtleneck and my Chacos. Are my toenails ready for Chaco season? Probably not, but you have to live the life you want. 

Approximately one hour into the movie when Tex is stumbling down the stairs towards Gabe, I leaned over to my friend and said, "he's definitely wearing Chacos." This was the first complete sentence I had been able to utter the whole time since I leaned over and shared a story that had nothing to do with what was happening 50 minutes earlier. 

Since that moment I have not stopped thinking or talking about how the men in "Us" are wearing the sandal people love to hate until they finally buckle in their big toe. Then came this piece.


Really, I'm not sure why the costumes team for “Us” is trying to suppress that they absolutely put Abraham and Tex in bona fide Chacos. As the pool boy in Legally Blonde can spot last season's Prada shoes, so too can this former employee of Kanakuk Kamps spot the rubber soled sandals that just won't quit. 

I know Chacos. I have a degree from Baylor University. After college I went to work for RUF - in the same way Tom Marvolo Riddle is an anagram for I am Lord Voldemort, so too is Reformed University Fellowship an anagram for Chacos, ESV, half-up half-down ponytail. I once wanted to get married wearing Chacos, but God was kind enough to keep me single until I would decide that that maybe wasn't a cute look. 

Look I get it, they needed something durable, something that people who have been living underground for who knows how long could run in - it wasn't going to be platform Tevas. And they were no doubt prophetic in deciding not to go with flip flops (the think pieces, yikes) or close-toed Keens (not affordable, they needed to drive home the lack of privilege for the Tethers - these people had toes exposed to the elements! Scary!).

Chacos meet the need. I have accomplished so much in my Chacos. They’ve seen me through the best of times (too many positive memories!) and the worst of times (the day before Baylor graduation I dropped a TV on my toe while wearing them and had to cross the stage in a boot) (one bad night in Nashville). 

Furthermore, I would bet my current Venmo balance that Red is wearing those sandals from J. Crew that were everywhere two summers ago the same way these bad boys were ubiquitous on Baylor's campus fall 2012....

I will not rest until Jordan Peele himself tells us what the Chacos mean. Until then, thanks for reading this. "Us" is great, and worth the watch. 

January Five Things All-Stars

Back around the ninth addition of my newsletter, I decided that every tenth newsletter would be an “All-Star Edition.” At that point, I was also telling myself that I would consistently update a list of everything I had ever “five things-ed,” as neither of those has happened, I’m switching gears and doing a monthly All Star blog post.

If you haven’t already, you can sign up to get future editions of Five Things here.

With that said, lets get this party started.

Lifestyle Upgrades

Round up to pay off student loans

Use Google Photos - game changer

Listen to Audible at a 1.25 speed

Music

This festive mash up

Waiting on the Summer

Shout to the Lord

Articles worth talking about

This article written as a recap to the 52 Places was so insightful and wonderful

Products that will see you through Winter

Lemon essential oil

These off brand Uggs

My new favorite vacuum

Infiniti Pro by ConAir

Books

A Prayer for Owen Meany

Bad Blood

Spending Freeze 101

Last week in my 5 Things Newsletter I talked about how I am putting myself on a spending freeze for the month of January. There was enough follow up, and as a matter of accountability for myself, I thought I would write a little blog post about it.

Exactly one year ago I started tracking my finances - like actually putting every expense into a googledoc, categorizing it, and justifying it, not just opening my banking app and hoping for the best. I had just moved to Kansas City and was making more money, but also spending more, and I felt like I just needed to make sure I knew what was going on. I keep a list of “expenses I had this month that I won’t have next month” and a list of “anticipated expenses next month.” I then use that information to set a categories based budget for myself.

I loosely, and I mean, loosely follow a Dave Ramsey-esque plan, but I also use credit cards because I am a fan of cash back. My parents did put the fear of God in me re: credit card debt, so yes dad, I pay my full balance every month.

Twice in the past year, I’ve looked at my spreadsheet and thought “oof, that’s not cute” so I put myself on a spending freeze. It’s not fun per se, but I do think the challenge of being more thoughtful and creative, is rewarding.

Ok now for the how-to:

Pick an amount of time and tell a trusted friend what you’re up to. Elissa Temple is my designated spending freeze friend. She is very disciplined and gracious, so she’s the perfect accountability partner. I like to shoot for a month because it’s doable, but decreasing spending over that amount of time will actually make a difference.

Take a good look at the month ahead and expect the the speed bumps. Who has a birthday this month? Is there any travel? Are you running low on toothpaste? Are there any appointments already set that will include expenses?

Take a good look at the past few months and be honest about where money was spent when it could have been saved. Too many manicures? You bought toothpaste when there was already five things of toothpaste at home? You bought a sale package of spin classes right before your sister gifted you ClassPass? Do you buy five books at time from Amazon and then only read one? Are there certain stores you need to all together avoid?

Decide if you want a slush fund, and if so how much. This month, I am letting myself use $100 cash, and some gift cards from Christmas for eating out. This will be gone before you can say, “can you really spend that much on eating out that quickly?”

Now get ready to tell yourself it can wait. Getting a haircut can wait. Buying that book can wait. Those shoes can wait. Groceries, gas, actual necessities more than likely cannot wait. But almost everything outside of your needs can wait. Almost all of your subscriptions can wait - put that Audible on hold, baby. Loft will in fact have a sale like this again, that sweater can wait.

I read this quote in the New York Times, and I think of it often, “there is joy in using what you already have.” One of the best things I’ve learned from spending freezes is that I already have a lot. I already have a stockpile of mini toothpastes. I already have six unused birthday cards bought many moons ago. I already have tweezers, so this month I don’t need to pay someone to fix my eyebrows. I already have books to read. It can wait, and I will experience joy in using what I already have before getting my hair colored in February.

All the Podcasts

I love podcasts. I listen to at least one a day. I have a podcast. I’ve told other people to start podcasts, they’re great. And today I thought it would be fun to take inventory of every podcast in my library. Turns out there’s a lot, like I’m having to come to terms with the sheer amount of content I consume. And here they are.

My rating system for this blog post:

***Podcasts are podcasts I listen to the day they come out

**Podcasts are podcasts that are binge-worthy

*Podcasts are catch-up worthy

No star podcasts are podcasts I listen to when I’m in the mood for them

****Podcasts are podcasts I am the production team for, so I listen to them before for anyone else does

 

**30 for 30 - they did a whole series on Bikram Yoga and the scandal surrounding that community. Truly fascinating and graciously reported. Their older episodes are a good listen as well.

**A Very Fatal Murder - If you have ever, ever listened to a true crime podcast, you gotta listen to this one. Perfect for a road trip with a friend that’s a good hang, but you don’t want spend four hours talking to each other.

*All Nighter Movie Review Podcast - My old friend Emily and my new friend Emma recap the movies we all watched at sleepovers. There’s even an episode on Raise Your Voice featuring yours truly.

And the Runner Up Is - I started listening to this podcast because an early episode featured my FiveThirtyEight crush, Walt Hickey. It’s easy listening. Perfect for listening while you sort laundry.

Arc Stories - Fabulous stories told live that will make you laugh and make you cry. I recommend any episode featuring Jamie B. Golden.

Around the World with the Archibald Project - Stories of adoption and the world of orphan care that will for sure make you cry.

*Art Curious - I wanted to be an Art History major, but never got around to it. The host is a little too-scripted at times, but the content is fascinating.

***Be There in Five - I feel like Kate Kennedy is my best friend and she is the reason I don’t hate the Kardashians anymore. It’s like meeting up for margs with your friend that reads People AND Us Weekly.

***City Church Eugene - The sermons from the church in Oregon I love the most. Shaynor Newsome is an all-star preacher and the reason I love Jesus.

**Crimetown - It’s like a good PBS special on Providence, Rhode Island. Like the kind my dad would watch, and I would roll my eyes, and then be totally into.

Criminal - Well produced, well told crime stories. My favorite episode is A Bump in the Night, so creepy.

Doodie Calls - Just stories about pooping your pants. My favorite episode is the one with Erin McGown.

Ear Hustle - Stories about prison told from inside prison. It’s a little over-produced at times, but it does an excellent job humanizing a part of the world I know almost nothing about.

***FiveThirtyEight Politics - I’ve become a FiveThirtyEight junkie, so much so that I considered asking them to help me come up with a quantifiable rating system for this list, but I think they’re busy getting ready for the midterm elections or something. Really though, this podcast does a great job breaking down the national political news of the week.

Freakanomics Radio - I’ve pretty much stopped listening to this one, but I check back in every once and awhile to see if there’s a topic that interests me. My favorite episode is the one about how Uber is an economics researcher’s dream.

Give Grace - Heartfelt interviews about giving yourself and those around you grace as we all go through life’s trials.

Good Christian Fun - Two California Christians unpack relics of Christian pop culture. It’s at times irreverent, and at times annoying, but also really funny and interesting. The Lecrae and Rebecca St. James episodes are my favorite.

**Group Text with Erin and Melissa - I LOVE Erin and Melissa. So many other podcasts on this list are because they guest-hosted. They’re no longer producing new episodes. But the ones they do have are so fun and funny. Worth listening to while you’re getting ready to go out with friends.

How I Built This - Stories of successful entrepreneurs. My favorite is the episode on Southwest Airlines because that is my favorite airline.

****It’s 4 O’Clock Somewhere - If you know, you know.

*Love Thy Neighborhood - I just started listening, and I really like it.

Modern Love - Stories of love read out loud by famous people. Lots of heart.

**My Brother, My Brother, and Me - This podcast is funny, but you kind of have to have the stomach for it. My favorite episode is Which One Vapes.

***RUF Baylor - I love RUF at Baylor, and I love Way. Today I will tell you three reasons why…

***RUF at Pitt - I love love Pitt RUF, and I love Derek. Calm down, Jesus is steering this ship.

**S-Town - If you haven’t listened to this by now, you probably won’t like it.

*Saw Bones - A fun medical history/myth debunking podcast.

**Serial - Season one is the reason we’re all here.

***Slow Burn - slightly more juicy than a PBS special. If you know me, you know I’m fascinated with White Collar Crime, and this is about two presidents that did just that.

Tell Me Something I Don’t Know - A game show type podcast where you’re bound to learn something new.

**That Sounds Fun - Her interview with John Crist is perfect. The only other episode I’ve listened to is half of the episode with Jess Connally.

***The Lab - FiveThiryEight’s NBA podcast. I don’t super care about the NBA, but this is a good podcast to fall asleep to.

**The McElroy Brothers will be in Trolls 2 - This romp. It’s funny if you listen to MBMBaM.

***The Popcast - All time favorite podcast. I love Knox and Jamie. I’m a $7/month Patreon supporter, and won’t stop until they do. It really has educated me on the things to do and do not matter.

***The RFK Tapes - If you love a good political conspiracy theory, this podcast is for you.

***This American Life - An oldie but a goody. This podcast hits home runs 98% of the time, and the 2% it doesn’t, they at least hit a double. The recent episode on church planters is fascinating.

***Truth’s Table - If you need the voices of smart women of color in your life (and you do) you need to listen to this podcast. Man, it’s good.

Typology - An Enneagram podcast. It’s good. Not wow. But good.

I cannot believe you made it to the end of this list! If you know me in real life, text me your favorite podcast recommendation, and I’ll venmo you a dollar.

A Year of Yes

Technically my "word" for 2018 is brave. And I remind myself of that any time I have to talk myself into doing something. Going to the dentist? Be brave. Going to bootcamp class? Be brave. Joining a small group? It's 2018 baby, it's time to be brave.

Somewhere back in February, I read an Instagram post by Jenn Jett about how 2017 was her "year of yes." And scrolling through her feed, it looks like she had a pretty ballin year! So in the dredges of my first-months-in-a-new-city I decided, that, yep, 2018 was going to be my year of yes.

Pretty much after it wrote it in all capital letters, I forgot about it, and carried on being brave.

The good news for February Katherine, is that I have a social life now, which at the time seemed impossible. I have a social life, and I'm volunteering, and I've suddenly become interested in investing in my career, and my skin, and my health. Oh and I have a podcast and a newsletter. And there are only 24 hours in the day. So I was talking with a friend about how I need to sit down and figure out what I say yes to, and what I say no to. A system, because I thrive in systems.

And in that way, it has become my year of yes, and my year of no. And my system is, "is this yes taking me where I want to go?" If it's a yes, it's a yes. 

Where exactly do I want to go? That's somewhat to-be determined, somewhat in my list of "ten hopes for this fall," which includes running a 5k for time (@ my journey as a slow runner). 

An example for today: I was doing my nightly ritual of laying in bed watching Instagram stories, when Brighton Keller told me to buy new facewash. (Brighton is one of the few that survived the great Instagram purge of 2018 where I unfollowed everyone I don't know in real life - highly recommend doing this.) Do I need new facewash? Not exactly, I'm a Glossier evangelist to my core. But my skin hasn't been great lately. So I said yes to the facewash because, 1. Where I want to go involves having great, healthy skin, and 2. Where I want to go involves investing in products that work great for me at a reasonable price point. 

So I'm saying yes to more blog posts, yes to new adventures, and no to feeling overwhelmed by it all. 

3 Things for a Thursday

Welcome back.

The past, I don’t know nine months, has been wacky shack, but I’ve been feeling the itch to get back into a writing rhythm (can never spell that word right on the first try), so here we go.

I’ve had six different blog posts swirling around in my head for the last month or so, but those are all on a spreadsheet right now, and I figured I would kick off a new season of blogging with some life updates.

About a year ago, Steph Poe gave me the word “brave.” I thought this was cute, but unnecessary, because I am self-assured, oftentimes foolishly. I’m not afraid of embarrassing myself, except for oh boy yeah I am have you seen the way I avoid shame like the plague? But I needed brave, the past year, more than ever, I’ve seen my need to have people call me higher, push me further, and for the Holy Spirit to convict me beyond what I am comfortable with.

Here’s the big one:

I moved to Kansas City to take a job in the fundraising world at the beginning of the year. For those of you keeping track at home, that’s two cross-country moves in 8 months, I work in Kansas, live in Missouri - I’m just as confused as you are. I have transition-whiplash, decision fatigue, and still hate snow. But I am so grateful to be here. There have been hard things about leaving full-time ministry behind, but I feel confident that I love what I get to do, I love the structure, I love benefits, and I love having a standing desk.

If you’re thinking, wait, hold on what? I know, I promise, I am too. I recently told someone that in my memoirs I would title my chapter on living back in Waco as, “Oops! I did it again…” But that’s not true. There’s no “oops” in God’s economy. Sometimes I think that would be easier, if we could chalk things up as a mistake and move on. God has been kind and purposeful in what feels and looks like confusion. I want to say, “I have to believe that’s true,” but honestly, it’s just true. And really, it’s not oops in my book, I loved being back in Waco, I loved my students, not an oops, just a quick turnaround.

Budgeting like a baller:

Three things necessitated me being brave when it came to my finances. The first is that I’m totally type A and should thrive on a budget (I do). For a long time I’ve been afraid to face the music, and if I’m being honest I was kind of living like one day some rich doctor would sweep me off my feet and take all my money worries away. But I need a new car, and there’s no rich doctor, yet, and really, you can’t live like that. Lastly, moving is expensive! And in January I was saving a ton of money in some areas and spending a ton in others, and I just needed to know where it all was going, what started out as “let’s just see if I can keep this up for a month,” has turned into three months and whole lot of freedom.

I have a whole blog post in the pipeline about my method and why I love it, but for now, if you’re a rich doctor interested in marrying me - I now have a highly-detailed, color-coded system.  

Minimalism

There’s something about having all your possessions into boxes that makes you want to have fewer of them. It feels like all I’ve been doing for the last seven years is an endless cycle of donating bags of clothes, only to roam the aisles of Target, end up with more things, needing more hangers, then wanting to get rid of it all again. I’ve sold things on eBay, I’ve sold things at Plato’s Closet, I’ve mailed bags to ThredUp, I’ve had a garage sale instragram account, but now I just want less.

I’ve long been fascinated with the idea of capsule closets and minimalism in general - and my last post was about capsule closet-ing my products. But I am sentimental to my core, I find an excess of choices comforting. And for me, working in ministry meant I could just continue to dress like a college student (yoga pants), so since high school, I haven’t thought a lot about what my style is. There is nothing quite like moving to a new(ish) climate, with no professional clothes for a professional job that’ll get you thinking about style.

I am quickly realizing that I am far more casual that I let my Pittsburgh friends believe, and I don’t mind being an outfit repeater. So I am embracing that capsule closet life. I signed up for Stitchfix, read approximately 99 blog posts, and have been scouring Madewell, ABLE, and Nordstrom for my anchor pieces. It’s so fun, and seriously so freeing.

Well, what was going to be a quick lil post across five topics, ended up being 3 mini blog posts. And I’m picking at my manicure, which means it’s time for me to change activities. I never could tell a short story. You’ll just have to keep reading in the future.

A Capsule Closet for my Products

This past summer at RUF Summer Conference, I walked into the tiny house I was sharing with 17 other interns with a basket full of lotions, and hair goods, and washes, and my new friend Dre took one look and said, "Oh, you love products too!" We then quickly bonded by comparing all that we had brought. 

One of the benefits of being a young adult that moves cross country too much is that it forces you to get rid of a lot of stuff. In theory, at least. I've got a pretty good rhythm of selling clothes on ebay, at Plato's closet, then donating. For the most part, the only books on my shelves are books I would actually recommend. But as a 7 on the Enneagram, I find security in excess. It's somewhat not a big deal, somewhat problematic, somewhat hilarious. 

I could open a cute little paper store with my stationary collection. I have four pairs of regular scissors, a pair of kids scissors (why?), haircutting scissors, and kitchen scissors. What? Like I'm going to cup up all that paper? No single person needs this many scissors. I have at least seven water bottles and almost bought a new one over Thanksgiving. I also have close to 30 plain white wash cloths, but I've decided that fresh wash cloths is a luxury I can afford, so that's not going to change.

And then there's what is under my bathroom sink. For the last three years, I've had my own bathroom, which just means I can spread my products all over the place. But this year, I share a bathroom with my sweet roommate Emily, and because the holidays make me want to get rid of things, I am giving my products a "Capsule Closet."

I've long been fascinated with minimalism and capsule closets, but again, I'm a 7 on the Enneagram, so I have two yoga mats. Here's the deal though, I have a ton of products, but I'm really a low maintenance girl. I have three make up looks: just concealer and mascara, that plus tinted moisturizer and maybe eye shadow, and oh crap I'm going to a party and I'm not totally sure how to do my make up. So there's no reason my bathroom sink should look like what's left of a Sephora sale.

This is how I'm separating the wheat from the chafe: 

General policy I gave myself: 

  • I am not rolling in money, but I do have finances to buy what I need, so if I am holding onto something, "just in case," it needs to go. (two years ago, I found myself buying a $7 sewing kit to fix a hole in $10 leggings, then I had an epiphany that I could just buy new leggings, I have tried to roll this over into other areas of life; don't want to be wasteful, but I think it can be just as wasteful to hang on to something I'll never use)
  • I asked myself, if I were to go on a three week vacation, would I take this? If the answer is no, it's almost a straight shot to the trash can. 
  • Just because something came in a Clinique gift box two and a half years ago, doesn't mean it needs to be kept now. Almost every product I have is under $10, and I don't need to honor the past me that bought it by keeping it. 
  • I am not that into make up. I'm just not, and maybe in the future I will be, but that doesn't mean I need to hang on to a Mary Kay eye shadow I got in 2008. These unused things are really just collecting bacteria. 

Oral hygiene: this is the important to me, so I'm keeping my toothbrush, my backup toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, and mouthwash. 

Skin: you can read about how I started washing my face here. But I'm keeping my Glossier face soap, rose spray, moisturizer, and balm dot com. I'm also keeping Aquafor for my tattoo (hi mom), and my eyelids sometimes get super dried out; and my big ole vat of cocoabutter lotion. I'm getting rid of every other lotion because even though I work in ministry and have student loans, I can still buy new lotion when I need it.

Hair products: have I used it in the last two months? Oh I've only used my $4 bottle of hairspray and dry shampoo? Ok, every thing else can go.

Nail polish: I feel like I'm constantly getting rid of nail polish, but really I get rid of one, buy four, and two of those look a lot like colors I already had. For a product that cost no more than $8, it sure is hard to get rid of this stuff. I told myself I was only going to keep six colors, but it's more like sixteen.

Makeup: In Pittsburgh I had a drawer full on makeup I never used, and I thought I got rid of most it, but I still have way to much for a girl that hasn't tried new makeup techniques since 8th grade. So I'm only keeping the stuff I wear on my fancier days, and two things of lipstick. I want to be that girl that wears bold lipstick, but actually I don't. I would rather train for a marathon. And for everything else, see collecting bacteria comment. 

Scents: I kept my nice perfumes, because they are expensive and last. I threw away the bottle of body spray I got for $3 three years ago and is still 89% full, I am no longer interested in smelling like sensual amber. 

Travel sized things: I do travel a lot, and it's nice to have sample sizes of things to take on weekend trips. But I just don't need to pretend like I'm ever going to use the tiny lotion that smells like apples. I like to keep my travel things in my travel make up bag, but I don't need to pretend like I'm going to use something on a trip that I don't use at home. 

Other products: I'm keeping all my make up remover/nail polish remover that I actually use. I got rid of almost all my make up brushes because they are old. And I threw away all my broken hair clips/stretched out hair ties, those things are so cheap, so it's like the hole-y leggings. 

I think oftentimes I buy things because I want to be a certain type of person. But in getting rid of unused things, we give ourselves the freedom to not be that person. I don't have to be bold lipstick girl, or silver eye liner girl, or leave-in-conditioner-that-supposedly-protects-hair-color-but-I'm-not-so-sure-girl. I can just run in my lane, and do it well. 

Anyone need any scissors?

A-Ok with a Cliche

If you've just been clicking through my Instagram stories, that's fine, but I recently started Lizzie McGuire recap podcast with my good friend Lilly. And we are having a blast. It's seriously such a fun project, and to get to work on it with a fun friend - even better! It's ok if you've always hated Lizzie McGuire, or if you listened to the podcast, and decided it's just not for you - we've set ourselves free from needing to be career podcasters, so we're just enjoying the ride. But if you do want a party for your ears, start with the most recent episodes first, they're better. 

Each week as we've broken down to the minutiae fashion statements, character developments, and quick cutaways I've found myself being the cliche police. It feels like the worst thing you can be today is a stereotype and the show Lizzie McGuire relies somewhat heavily on them. There's an irksome little brother that in the end you love. There's a mean-girl cheerleader that used to be a best friend (until she bought a bra), but really her bullying is just a guise for her insecurity. There's loving friends, and just enough racial diversity for us to talk about how there should for sure be more racial diversity. 

No one wants to be a cliche, and yet, we know they are safe. We know what we can expect. We can roll our eyes, but quietly rest in the predictability. 

The fiercely independent side of me has long kicked back at cliches (I am self-righteous about not having a curated Instagram), while desperately wanting to fit in (ok, but do I have too many weirdly filtered photos?). And as all things do, this has spilled into my heart for scripture.

I've spent most of my Jesus-loving years rolling my eyes at Psalm 23. Even if you've never opened a Bible you know it...

The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.

He lets me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters. 

He renews my life; he leads me along the right paths for his name's sake.

Even when I go through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no danger, for you are with me; your rod and your staff - they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

Only goodness and faithful love with pursue me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. 

It's read at every funeral, both in reality and in TV. It's just played out.... like there's just so much other scripture, can't we be a little creative? Every time I've heard it preached, I've thought, "cool, so you just didn't want to prepare a sermon for today."

I'm not sure I have the words to describe the season I'm in right now. It's good. It's hard. It's exactly what I needed, and seems totally unfair at the same time. Just, for the first time in a while, I don't have a "this is what I'm going through let me tie it in a bow for you," or even for me. 

But for the past month and some changed, I've prayed Psalm 23 everyday. And everyday, it has become more and more rich to me. It's like a piece of cheesecake that you bite into, and you're already sad that it's going to end, except that it doesn't end. 

Last night in my high school girls Bible study we talked about the profound truth that God is for us. He loves us more than we love ourselves. And I was rolling around with that thought today, when a sweet Pitt student was texting me about her future plans, and said, "I hope God turns my life upside down so that one day I don't even end up where thought I would."

My first thought, was "wait, I skipped something... Kaleigh skipped something, no one wants God to turn their life upside down." Then my next thought was, "what faith." What faith that she (I, we) would trust the goodness of the Father, that we would hope for the inevitable. No one's life turns out the way they planned. (And if it did, congratulations on your boring life.) 

Because really this season has been me leaning on one cliche wishing that God would give me any other cliche than "24-year-old single girl trying to figure it out."

Why not hope for surprise? Why not hope for the unexpected? Why not rest in the goodness of the Shepherd trusting that he wants goodness for us even in the darkest valley? Why not love the cliche while open-handedly not let it define you?

 

In other news, my Pitt girlies will be please to know I'm still recommending the SheReadsTruth app like I'm getting paid commission. 

Habits of Grace

I'm not a huge fan of talking personality types, but if we're talking personality types, I'm big time "J" on the Myers-Briggs scale. I love me some structure. I thrive in routine. I want things to start on time and end when they are supposed to. I don't always handle unanticipated change well. I like my way of doing things. And I love planners, agenda, and itineraries in maybe an unhealthy way. 

Long story short, I signed my life away to a bougie fitness studio here in Waco, and I am LOVING it. I've been able to work out every day, but still only wash my hair every other day, and I feel like I've tapped into the discipline I need to thrive. 

Except this morning I slept through two alarms and woke up to my room being lighter than it usually is at 5:30 and through a slew of words not worth repeating I realized I missed the barre class I signed up for. (sidebar: barre work outs used to scare me, but I'm on this new kick of doing things that used to scare me, and now I love them; so if you're scared just try it) I decided to channel my annoyance with myself into a run. On my drive to Baylor I was quietly hoping that this would turn into a beautiful sunrise view of campus, and I would redeem the whole thing with an Instagram story, and wow aren't God's plans better than our own?

They are. But the whole sunrise thing did not happen. My run turned into a walk because my legs were tired, and I came home and spiraled into an all too familiar, "why can't I just get my life together?" Why can't I just hear my alarms? Why can't I just run the whole Bear Trail? Why can't I remember to post on the Youth Group's instagram account since that is my one quantifiable responsibility? How is it possible that I'm only a month and a half into a new Bible reading schedule and already a month behind?

I used to live my life telling myself that tomorrow I would be better. That tomorrow I would wake up earlier/read more Bible/be nice to more people/do my homework on time. Then Jesus took a hold of me and told me to calm down because he already loved me not because I had anything to offer but because I was his. Exercise was one of the biggest areas of my life that needed to be evangelized to. I need the Gospel to help me run out of love rather than out of loathing. And this sweetly happened my senior year of college on the very Bear Trail where I first got the Gospel into my bones my freshmen year of college. 

Six years later, I still use habits as a matter of holiness, when all I actually need is Jesus. It's great that I regularly floss my teeth (#nogingivitis2017), but that is not what justifies me. I can wake up early every day, but the cross bears my sins, not my response to my alarm clock. 

So in this new season of life back in Waco, this is my prayer, that my habits would form out of an overflow of identity in Christ rather than out of a need for self-justification or self-loathing. That the structure I build into my life would point me to Christ and not to myself. 

Other life highlights:

  • Absolutely loving the new job. It's so good to be back in Waco. It's so good to be back at Redeemer. It's so good to not have to street park all the time. 
  • Bought a battery powered fly swatter, and gang, it's the best. 
  • I'm trying my darnedest to meal plan/cook more - send your easy small batch recipes my way!

Things in Waco worth checking out if you inevitably give into the Magnolia-craze

  • Baked Bliss - only open Friday's 7am-2pm, but golly their stuff is good
  • Butter my Biscuit Cafe - owned and run by one of my mom friends. ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS. 
  • Refine31 - the fitness studio, really it's amazing. 

Rugs, Squirrels, and Vacuuming Baseboards

I officially move to Waco next week, but I'm traveling in the mean time, so today I cleared out my bedroom of the last two years.

As far as bedrooms go, this one does not legally qualify as a bedroom, or even come close. It has no closet. There are significant cracks in the floor. The ceiling is low enough that if I stood up, I couldn't stretch my arms all the way, this is not great for someone like me who likes to pretend to be good at yoga. 

as clean as it will get without a fire hose

as clean as it will get without a fire hose

 

Through the window I would watch the snow fall, or gaze at my favorite squirrel. Or wonder just who left that ping pong table leaning up against the back of the house. 

A side story about my favorite squirrel: There is a squirrel that lives in my backyard and it is the saddest looking thing. It is quite skinny. It is black all over except two identically stripes on it's sides where it is bald. It's tail hardly has any hair. Something happened to this squirrel, and I have my theories. But right now it's leading a good life eating my next door neighbor's birdseed. I think the next S-Town type podcast should be done on figuring out this squirrel's story, if you or someone you know works for This American Life, please contact me. 

Thanks to RUF Summer Conference, Pitt's early summer, and my June first start day, my packing process has been long and slow. Thanks to my servant-hearted guyfriends, it's been mostly stress-free. And for that I am very grateful. Moving is supposedly next to divorce as far as life-stresses go (I'm not sure that's actually true, but I read it once, somewhere), but this move has been easy-peasy. 

The crying has been minimal, and for that I am also grateful. Really since my last Large Group, I haven't had a big ole weep, until today. Today I rolled up my bedroom rug. 

Overall, basement living has been an adventure. It's let me really feel the humility of my call to ministry over the last two years. I've gotten pretty good at ducking, ignoring smells, and avoiding exposed wires. When, five years from now I have some mysterious illness, we'll probably be able to trace it back to this basement. 

My room used to be a single car garage, and the floors and walls glow green. I knew immediately I would need a great rug if this place was ever going to be livable. I had my eye on a gray quatrefoil pattern at Target and grabbed RUF student-turned-friend, Rachel, to come with me. At Target (my favorite one with the escalator) we discovered that that store did not carry the rug I wanted. My options were: ask for help locating the rug elsewhere or take home a different rug. When I am tired and stressed the last thing I want to do is ask for help, so we grabbed a 8x11 foot rug with a pattern I felt was kind of noisy, but whatever, my room needed something. There was this whole thing at the check out where my credit card didn't work because I hadn't informed my bank I was moving. Then while I was on the phone with Chase, a woman got very upset because her cart toppled in the cart-escalator, and security had to be called and it was this whole thing. Rachel and I took the elevator down to the parking garage. 

In the pouring rain we pulled the rug into my room and moved furniture so it could be unrolled. I cried. I cried because I was eight days in and already so done with Pittsburgh. I cried because this rug deeply diminished the green-glow of my room. I cried because it felt like I knew I was going to be ok. 

I loved that rug. It gave life to my room. It hid the approximately 8,000 hairs I shed each day well enough. I got compliments on it. But it is too big and too pointless to take to Texas, and none of my students bought it. So today I rolled it back up and placed it on the curb. It felt like the end of an era. 

And then I got to vacuum all my baseboards and it felt so good. Vacuum cleaner extensions are the best. 

In many ways, my bedroom is a reflection of my time in Pittsburgh. It was shambly, it was kind of scary, but God was faithful in it, I was kept safe, and it was mine. It's really not that hard to leave, except also yeah it is. 

I wash my face now

Sub-heading: and other ways I am trying to be a grown-up.

Note: this post contain affiliate links which means if you make a purchase with the included links, I get a little kickback. It has never been my goal to monetize this blog. However, if you’re not mad about me getting $10 off on my next bottle of face wash, I’m not either. 

This week on the beach, my friend Jayna and I were talking about our blogs. We talked about what we want out of the future of our blogs. We talked about how I won’t be doing my Wednesday e-mails, but I still want to tell people about things I like and encourage them in the Gospel. Then I was washing my face, thinking about how I love washing my face now, and I thought I would write about it. Then I thought I would write a couple lifestyle-blog type posts, and just see where it lands us.

For me, the journey of adulthood has been much like swimming lessons when I was five, I’ve had some practice, still not competition worthy, I’m surviving and mostly having fun. But it’s a good thing my mom is looking out for me. 

The Katherine Corliss face-skin journey all started back in the summer between seventh and eighth grades; I ran my world. I was first chair in the flute section. I knew who I was, I was semi-regularly remembering to wear deodorant, but I knew there was more to being an adult: I needed to start washing my face. So I picked three bottles out of our bathroom closet (which by the way, I can smell that closet now as I’m typing this, it had a very distinct smell) and went to town with some Clarisol Ultra or something, I thought the burning sensation was it just cleaning my pores. Three days later I looked like Quasi Moto. My mom, my pediatrician, and I determined that I was allergic to face wash. After trying a few brands meant for sensitive skin, I lived the next ten years like if I washed my face I would die, or at least have to live in a bell tower for a while. 

Fast forward to 2016 and between posts about the election and how to get your kid to stop biting in the Skimmbassador Facebook group, there’s a post about how if you use a loufa, you’re just asking for a skin eating bacterial disease. No thank you. One commenter on this post said that she just loves a fresh wash cloth, so she buys the ten packs at Target and washes them after each use. That’s how I ended up with 20 wash cloths which I now travel with. 

Since avoiding face wash for so long, my skin has been fine, not great. Usually it’s not an insecurity, and I take off my make up at night, but something was missing, and I just wasn’t using my wash cloths enough. In January, I started using a face mask a few times a week that was just one of life’s little luxuries, and my skin actually reacted well. Then my sisters got into Glossier, and I wanted in on the fun packaging. Listen, us Corliss girls like marketing strategies, they work on us. Looking at you, Patagonia.

I started with the Milky Jelly Cleanser and Super Pure Serum - I mostly bought the serum because I wanted to qualify for free shipping, I will use this as a bad example on a future post about budgeting. (I am still a huge fan of my Mary Kay Anti-Aging Moisturizer.) I love me some MJC, let me tell you what. It smells amazing. I feel so clean after I use it. It does not turn me into Quasi Moto. It’s gotten me in the habit of taking care of my face, which is nice, plus those wash cloths. Honestly, I’m not sure if the serum is doing much for me, but it makes me feel fancy and like I maybe have a little more control over my skin.  

I also started using cocoa-butter Vaseline on my eyelids which sometimes get super dry, and it’s healed that stuff right up!

Stay tuned for my adventures in budgeting, deleting Snapchat, trying to pursue ethical fashion, and more!

A Swan Song with Whitney's Help

Since I started fundraising for my internship with RUF, I've told people something along the lines of "RUF matters because college students needs a safe place to fall apart." I experienced as a student, and now I have experienced it as an intern. 

Last Thursday was my last RUF Large Group. And I fell apart. Our Campus Minister, Derek, gave me ten minutes to talk about how God has worked in me for the last two years, and I came undone in front of sixty friends and strangers. I'm a lifetime crier, so this isn't a total surprise, but it was a total Gospel Comfort to be surrounded by a caring community.

It was honestly one of the sweetest times in Pittsburgh. My friends came and stayed the whole time despite it being super late on a weeknight. Student who don't normally attend Large Group showed up. We sang my favorite song.

I went off script for some parts, but for the first time in my public speaking career, I stayed mostly on course, my off-scriptedness is included below with help from my memory. After saying that if we didn't get to sing "For All the Saints" I was going to flip a table, I started this thing off saying I was going to try to not cry and then wiped tears from my face the whole time. 

I've been writing this thing since the Senior Banquet last year, and actually typing it out since October. But I'm standing here at a loss for words. Which is really a theme of my internship, if you're a girl in this room, you've heard me say, "I don't know what to say," because I don't. 

Brad, you once made an offhand comment about how I must be good at goodbyes… get ready to eat your words.

According to Wikipedia, the central theme of the book of Habakkuk is, "moving from perplexity and doubt to absolute trust in God." And that seems like theme of my last two years. Habakkuk 1:5 has become like my theme verse, "Look among the nations and see, wonder and be astounded for the Lord is doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told." [then I talked about how I would never have believed I would be standing in Pittsburgh with a whole row of friends in the back.]

There’s not a lot that I love exclusively about Pittsburgh. I have no favorite restaurant. Ever since I found out that my barista crush is married, it’s like what’s the point. But y’all call me KC, and that’s my favorite. I just love it. Everyone else calls me Katherine, but you call me KC. I feel so loved. You are what I love exclusively about Pittsburgh.

In preparing for this I read through some old journals and it’s been really sweet to see how the Lord has been with me the past two years. Even when I have felt utterly alone, I have not been abandoned. The Lord has answered a lot of prayers. And now an excerpt from my journal from March 30th, 2015:

Aahhhhh!!!! I visit Pitt this week! I’m super nervous that I’m going to hate it… At the end of my internship I want to look back and say:

  • I was sanctified by the process
  • I built lasting and meaningful friendships
  • I had fun
  • My students saw growth in grace
  • The ministry reached a new type of student
  • Ground work was laid for future ministry growth.

*****It it not my goal to be a super intern**** 

And another from August 6th, 2015, so two days before I moved here,

“Lord, give me a chance to be happy exhausted. Worn out from pouring into others, laughing with friends, seeing you at work. May I say, ‘what an unexpected blessing.”

But I am standing here at the finish line. After six years with RUF, I have a lot of feelings. As I’ve been writing this, I’m aware of the ways I’ve failed you as an intern. Or maybe RUF has failed you as a ministry. Or Pitt has failed you as a University. Or you have failed you. Or you're just really aware of disappointment in life. But Jesus Christ has not failed you. Jesus has not failed you. And he has not failed me.

I have many memories from my time here that I will treasure. Trying to build a table with Leah. Our secrecy vault in St. Louis. Two semesters of leading freshmen with Josh. Singing All Too Well with Julie at the Lip Sync Battle at #GirlParty2016. Making HGTV Instagram stories with Paul in Washington, that may actually be the highlight of my internship. Coffee Mondays with Bethany. Pizza Fridays with Molly. Reading through Life Together with Morgan. Making a dance audition video for Abby Lee Dance Company with Morgan. Watching Caroline make friends. Visiting Punxsutawney with Cassie. Yelling at y’all to line up for Flannel Panel. [off script: which, by the way, y'all always grumbled at me when I made you take a picture, but then you would be like, "hey can you text me that picture we just took?"] Cutting the Bates kids hair. Just anytime I got to order my salad at Hello Bistro, which they just changed the mozzarella cheese there, so I'm not sure anymore. Carrying around a megaphone at summer conference. Thank you all for being willing actors in my snapchat stories. 

There are things I would like to forget. The time I literally stomped my foot at Derek because he made me stay in Pittsburgh over the summer. The unkind and harsh things that should have been left unsaid. The times I showed up to Greek Life Bible study, but no one else did, which was fine, but I had to walk back through a Trump rally. The times I spoke too soon, or didn’t speak up soon enough. 

I really wish I was paid commission on how many times I’ve recommended the Starbucks and SheReadsTruth apps. 

I feel like the last two years have taught me a lot. And frankly, it’s been really hard. It's been really hard. I’ve seen tragic things happen to people I love. And it’s been hard. It’s been hard to walk with you in your sin, your own tragedies. Life is hard, and yucky. And I feel like I’ve seen why y’all need a place like this. You need a place that reminds you of the Gospel. You need community. You need people to pour into you, to pick you up when you fall down. You need Jesus. 

You can’t know what all you will face and go through before you leave this Earth. But there is a loving God who is making all things new. If you are in Him, he is necessarily working in you. When you wake up tomorrow and fail again, you can know that your place before the throne of God above has not changed. 

Girls. Jesus Christ did not die on a cross and defeat sin and death to rise three days later so you could date losers. Stop it. Look, I know there are only a few men of God, but date them. You can change haircuts, you can’t change hearts. So stop. I'm not going to be here next year, so you need to hear me say it again, stop. 

Freshmen. Keep coming to RUF. You need these people. You’ll only realize it more and more. But I promise it’s worth it. 

I have been sanctified, by fire. I have built lasting and meaningful relationships. I’ve had fun. I’ve had the privilege of see you all grow in grace. We’ve reached a new type of student through Greek Life Bible study. And Serena is taking over t-shirts for next year, so I guess you can say that ground work has been laid for future ministry. I am happy exhausted. What an unexpected blessing to be your intern. I only wish there was a Sonic closer. 

Callie, thank you for sprinting with me. For being a role model, someone who is not afraid to speak the hard truth. It’s been an honor to do ministry alongside you.

Charles, it’s not the same without you here. Thank you for redeeming the role of co-intern in my heart. [Charles showing up was supposed to be a surprise that I got tipped off to, so I included this, but then he wasn't there when I talked so I skipped this part.]

I would really like to thank my friends. In many ways I’ve not loved you all in the way you deserve, and you’ve let me be a literal potato an unfair amount of times. You guys are the best.

Brad, Seth, Jake. None of you really take compliments well, so I’m not going to say anything nice.  But Jake, you are a man of your word.  Seth, you are a man of your word. Brad, you are a man of your word. Thank you for being my friends.

[I then fully planned to make this joke about how they had all once told me that "being a man of your word" was the highest compliment they could ever receive, so if it wasn't, they weren't really men of their word. But I didn't because I was choking on my words.]

And Derek Bates. Derek, you did not give up on me when I really should have been given up on. I have been a real poophead intern, and you loved me with the unchanging, relentless love of Christ. Thanks for not letting me quit when I wanted to. 

Last year I started crying at the senior banquet out of nowhere, and so did most of the freshmen girls. I have no idea why they were crying, but I started crying because I had been thinking how one year before I was sitting at Baylor graduation feeling like a total failure because I didn't have a fiance, but I wouldn't trade a ring on my finger for having spent the year with those girls. God is good in that way. You’re my girls. And I love you. I am so proud of you, and the women you are becoming.

[I then read all of the below lyrics to Whitney Houston's "I will Always Love You," which was one of those things that seemed like a super fun idea until I actually started doing it, and then I was sort of sad. But #WhitneyForever]

If I should stay

I would only be in your way

So I'll go but I know

I'll think of you every step of the way

And I will always love you

I will always love you

You

My darling, you [mmmmhmmmm]

Bittersweet memories

That is all I'm taking with me

So good-bye

Please don't cry

We both know I'm not what you, you need

And I will always love you

I will always love you

You

I hope life treats you kind

And I hope you have all you've dreamed of

And I wish you joy and happiness

But above all this I wish you love

And I will always love you

I will always love you

I will always love you

I will always love you

It’s been an honor to be your intern. I have called you my friends. Thank you. 

Afterward I made all my non-student friends pose for a photo, that's who I am. 

 

I would also really like to thank my parents. They trusted me to apply for a ministry job, raise money, and move across the country. And really they've trusted the Father with my life in a lot of ways since day one. Working in student ministry, I am well aware that this is not everyones' situation. They're just really good parents. 

The campus ministers I had at Baylor are the best of the best. I would not love Jesus were it not for Shaynor Newsome. I would not be an intern were it not for Way Rutherford. Absolute solid gold.

There were many times that I did not feel welcome or known in Pittsburgh, but several families really pushed back on that lie. Thank you to the Poes, the Girards, the Barkers, the Biancos, the Bauldaufs, my whole community group, for having me into your homes. And obviously the Howard family for being the actual best. 

I would not have eaten, slept, or blasted Whitney Houston from my car since June of 2015 were it not for the extreme generosity of God's people in my life. Thank you so much to my financial supporters. As I'm now fundraising again for my next steps in Waco, I'm well aware of your generosity and grace towards me. It's actually crazy how blessed I have been. 

College students need Jesus. They need a savior that defeated sin and death and rose again three days later. They need the promise of Glory. And so do I. 

Things I kind of like in Pittsburgh

The last few weeks I've lamented to my friends that I do not have a favorite restaurant in Pittsburgh. There's not place that I'm like, "yes, let's please go there!" No place that's the absolute first place I've taken my family and friends when they've come to visit. There are Mexican food places that CHARGE FOR CHIPS AND SALSA, it's bad. Really the only place I'm eager to go back to time after time is the the salad bar at Whole Foods, but that's really neither a restaurant nor uniquely Pittsburgh. Meanwhile my first night in Waco I am going to feel just so torn between Chuy's, Torchy's, D's, and Shorty's.

But yesterday morning I waved at my mechanic on my run, and today I wistfully thought about how much I love my yoga studio, so despite my lack of restaurant favor I do have some locales that I would love to share. Here are some of the places I will miss when I move.

Yoga Studio

Since October I've been regularly practicing hot yoga at I Am Yoga in Squirrel Hill. Other than being from Lawrence, Kansas it's pretty much the second most hippie thing about me. It's hot, and it's challenging. But the amount of lady armpit hair I see lends to the judgment-free-zone vibe. They almost always have a Groupon deal that's worth checking out. Plus I can touch my toes without bending my knees and a couple weeks ago I accidentally did the full splits, which was crazy and has not been repeated. 

Mechanic

Other than my friends, students, and community group, Homer's Automotive is the thing I will miss most about Pittsburgh. I brought my car there by recommendation of Derek Bates, and they've been amazing to me the whole time I've been here. They're the only mechanic I've taken my car to that doesn't make me feel stupid, or try and rip me off. They're honest and kind, and have even thrown in a few free oil changes. Plus when I run by in the morning Homer waves. 

Hair Salon

After a great stylist in high school, I jumped around from place to place in college, but once I landed with Jess at B Salon + Bar, I haven't looked back. Jess does an amazing job of understanding what I want despite my inability to describe it. She's fun to talk to, and I even let her do my eyebrows. I happened into this salon because I walked by and saw clients drinking wine and thought, "my kind of place." I scheduled my first appointment a week later.

Nails

My latest treat to myself is manicures at Envy Nails II or Envy II Nails (the sign is kind of vague) in Shadyside. It's everything you would expect out of a typical nail salon: they act like I'm a princess, are affordable, and I haven't gotten a weird infection. I'm not sure what else I could ask for. 

Target

You already knew I was going to talk about Target. My favorite is the one in East Liberty because it has an Escalator and the novelty of that has not worn off for me. 

Saturday Morning

I LOVE the Strip District on Saturday mornings. It used to kind of scare me because it's basically sensory overload, but last Spring I started going by myself to get out of the house during a time when I don't typically have plans. Now I love the crowds, the smells, I love to just walk into the shops and touch things; you really cannot beat the people watching outside of an airport. I've made a routine of it, and it's the best. 

Pretzels

Hough's is by far my favorite bar, the beer selection is awesome. Their food is perfectly fine, except their pretzels, their pretzels are ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE. 

Running Spot

Most days I just run around Greenfield, but North Park is well worth the drive. They have a great five mile loop that is just hilly enough. If you go on a nice weekend day, there are a lot of people out, but it's just crowded enough to be fun.

Coffee Shops

Every Wednesday morning you will find me drinking drip coffee and eating a croissant at Espresso a Mano. Love that place, not super comfortable chairs. I also love the lattes at Big Dog (because they are served at a drinkable temperature, other coffee shops take note), and the vibe at Tazza D'Oro. I do not like the Commonplace in Squirrel Hill, but the one on Penn Ave. in Friendship is great. 

Soft Serve Ice Cream

On the dumpster outside of Rialto's in Greenfield is an ad for Bud Light and a sign that says "best soft serve ice cream in town" I would agree. The machine is rarely on when I get there, so you have to wait, but it's worth it. 

 

I would love to know what you love uniquely about where you live!

When a Snowflake's got a pretty good chance

This morning a giant snowflake flew up my nose and I tried to cherish the moment despite the fact that yesterday I was able to run outside in shorts. 

Ever since there's been a tug on my heart to move back to Texas, I've been thinking a lot of about cherishing snow. Snow reminds me of the time my car got stuck so I yelled about how I didn't choose to live here (which I thought I blogged about, but apparently I didn't. Basically, one time my car got stuck in the snow, and I acted like a five-year-old until my very gracious guy friend helped me out, not a shining moment for me, but a shining moment for guy friends and God's mercy.). Snow reminds me of how I used to say, "there's a snowflake's chance in (place where snow wouldn't last very long) that I ever work in youth ministry."

Turns out, I should stop underestimating snow. 

If during my first year as an RUF intern I felt like a college freshmen, this year has been senior year. Just trying to figure out what I want to do with my life, make the most of my time with my friends, and wearing yoga pants a little more often. It's been particularly interesting to figure out what I want to do with my life. Since August, I've turned down or not been offered some fifteen job opportunities that all for a time seemed ideal until they didn't. It's been confusing, and exhausting; and I've thrown the proverbial dart at the map on more than a few occasions. 

Back in February I prayed, "Lord if you could just let a job fall into my lap, that would be great. I know that's not really how this works..." The next day the associate pastor at Redeemer Waco, the church I attended in college, e-mailed me asking if I would be interested in coming on staff doing full time youth ministry. 

I've tried to narrow down why I decided to take this job into a compact anecdote, but there's too much. God has been so gracious to flood me with affirmation and encouragement, and I am so excited.

So here are some sound bites:

  • I'll be the first full time assistant youth ministry director. I was the first intern at City Church Eugene, and the first RUF intern at Pitt. I love paving the way.
  • I love Redeemer. I used to say I would take a job there if what they offered me was just sweeping the floors. I was loved so well as a college student there, and I am so excited to jump back in. 
  • My friend Sarah who works with middle schoolers in Knoxville said of her youth group experience, "I don't remember what they said, but I remember that they were there." Which is pretty true of me too.  I love being there, I am not half bad at kickball, and I am so excited to talk about One Direction with a whole new age group. 
  • I'm so excited to walk alongside parents as they pour into their students in the "wet cement years"
    • I love being in the ministry of seed planting. There is so much that I wish my RUF girls had heard before they got on campus, and now I get to be that person for the girls of Redeemer.

I used to think of youth ministry as "God's Junior Varsity Team." I loved my own youth group leaders, so I have no clue where this thought came from. But people who worked with the youths just seemed to have too much energy and patience and bad haircuts to work with other age groups. But since when did I get too good for God's JV team? 

As far as my responsibilities go, I'll mostly be hanging out with middle and high school girls. I'll be a part of Sunday school classes, Wednesday night programming, leading small groups, driving mini-vans, going to track meets, brainstorming outreach events, telling girls to be nicer to their moms, and walking the line of encouraging modesty without making modesty THE thing. 

This job comes as a partnership through RYM, which will provide me with training and support. Redeemer is providing over half of my financial support, the other $15,000 I'll be raising through my already existing support network, and readers like you. You give can now here and I'll be continuing to send out regular ministry updates which you can sign up for here

God has done more than I could have ever imagined in me and through RUF in Pittsburgh, and I am eager for what's next. 

 

A picture of me and some Pitt RUF students enjoying the snow for your entertainment. 

A picture of me and some Pitt RUF students enjoying the snow for your entertainment. 

Bumper Stickers of the Heart

I have a shelf in my room that serves as a place for candles and my craft box. The other day I noticed that the second shelf was essentially a tribute to my last (almost) six years with RUF. 

Please enjoy this high-qual photo. Taken on an iPhone 6. 

Please enjoy this high-qual photo. Taken on an iPhone 6. 

 

On this shelf is a framed photo from Martha Kate of my senior class in RUF at Baylor; lifelong friends, and tender memories of growth. Like the 30th outline of the state of Oregon makes it's appearance to remind me of my incredible summers I spent working for my former RUF campus minster Shaynor, and thriving within the care of his family. And finally, my carbon monoxide detector, which I check every week. This is both an ironic, and quite literal picture of my experience in Pittsburgh, where I've spent the last year and a half as an RUF intern.

When my internship ends in May, I will have spent one fourth of my life attending weekly Large Group. Twenty-five percent of my life, I will have been under the care of an ordained PCA minister. There are literally hundreds of people, in every continental timezone, who seem now critical to the fabric of my life that would not know or care for without RUF.

The RUF bumper sticker on my car may or may not make it to my next season of life. But the RUF bumper sticker on my heart has some pretty strong glue.

Back to the carbon monoxide detector. When I first realized this was my "Pittsburgh" of my RUF shelf, I laughed. Other than my PA plates, one Pitt sweatshirt, and a Pennsylvania REI sticker, I have no mementos. This isn't intentional, but interns don't make a lot of money, and it's taken a while for Pittsburgh to move out of enemy territory and into the friendzone. And frankly, I think yellow is a tacky color and I'm ok with not having a yinzer-special closet. 

But the carbon monoxide detector is the perfect reminder of what God has done for me in Pittsburgh. Through His grace I found a really sweet living situation in a shambly basement, with precious neighbors, and a not-that-bad parking situation. This carbon monoxide detector was given to me by Sarah, one of my wonderful mom friends who providentially also loves KU basketball. You can't live 1,600 miles away from your actual mom without some amazing mom friends. Sarah cares deeply for my safety, and just me, and this carbon monoxide detector reminds me that I have people looking out for me here. I have been protected from so many things, especially carbon monoxide since our landlord came and fixed whatever on the furnace that was letting off too much carbon monoxide for our hot water to be turned on whenever we first moved in. 

I am so grateful for RUF. Two weeks ago at Large Group I teared up thinking about how blessed our students are to have a place to gather every week to hear the truth of the Gospel on their campus. And on a campus where community and objective truths are not necessarily celebrated, that's incredible. 

I am so grateful for my friends through Baylor RUF, my treasured time in Oregon, and for my carbon monoxide detector. But mostly for God's grace, provision, and protection through it all.

On that note, RUF interns don't make a lot of money, so may I encourage you to do one of the following for your local intern (really, not necessarily me, I'm actually like 97% funded through May, pay it forward):

  • Give a carbon monoxide detector with fresh batteries
  • Give gift cards. Especially to Starbucks, Target, or Trader Joe's. Or Amazon. 
  • Pay for their meal on the sly. My precious friends here do this for me regularly, it is my favorite.
  • Let them know you're praying for them. 
  • Do not ask them how many kids go to Large Group at church. 
  • Sign up to get their newsletters and e-mails.
  • Slightly overpay them for babysitting.
  • Give to their RUF account so they can get a raise and maybe afford a t-shirt or something.

Goals, Goals, all types of Goals

I love goals. Goals make me feel purposeful, accomplished, and productive. I love to have short-term measurable goals, and long term abstract goals. And of course, I like running goals. 

Goals make me hopeful. As I sat down to write my goals for 2017, I thought through several things:

  • What happened last year that I want to happen again?
  • What didn’t happen last year that I want to happen this year?
  • What does it look like to wrap up my time with RUF well?
  • When I’m 30, what do I want to say I did when I was 24?
  • How do these goals fit into my walk with the Lord? 

For 2016, my long term abstract goal was “have more fun.” I honestly think “have fun” is one of the most important goals you can have. When having fun is my goal, I am free to not get my way in the small things. The significance is on having enjoyment, not on getting the cutest picture. Even when getting a cute picture is a secondary goal, the primary goal is to have fun. 

Which is why “have even more fun” is my primary abstract goal for 2017. Under this I have three other abstract goals: celebrate, thrive, and adventure. 

Adventure was a word in 2016 that I hated. It just annoyed me. I felt like it was overused. I'm still not a huge fan of it but "take fun risks that will have last memories, but not last consequences" was a little wordy. So sometimes you have to use words you hate. 

Alongside my goal to have more fun, I want to have fun without feeling like I need someone to validate that I had fun, recognizing when it is and isn't helpful to post to social media. 

Any goal-person will tell you incremental, and measurable goals are important. I agree. Which I why I like to break down my monthly goals into measurable tasks that lend themselves to my abstract goals. I also have weekly goals, but that's mostly just a to-do list. Calling it goals makes me feel more intentional, so whatever you gotta do to slice the cake, ya know? 

My running goals for the year are to run one race each month, and run another half marathon (and finish it without crying). The first goal was all fine and good until the forecast for my January race was a high of 22. So we'll see. I also like editable, flexible goals. Maybe 11 races for 2017.

I'm currently working on 17 bucket list items for the new year, if you've got suggestions, let me know. 

Really, I love talking about goals, so tell me yours! 

Oh. And I stopped tearing my fingernails in 2016. My last 2017 goal is to keep that up.  

Life Less Crowded

In my conscious effort to stay off social media this month, I've noticed a theme - a deep, barely there feeling - my life feels less crowded. I'm not sure how else to describe it. It's feeling more like a dinner party with just the right amount of people, and less like I'm not sure where to sit or set my drink down. 

It's not like the significant relationships have become 300% more meaningful, or I've finished that book I've been meaning to read, or I started a non-profit for disadvantaged kids in my neighborhood or anything. It's more like there is 300% less useless information in my brain. 

I'm grateful to have lived in five different states with tons of different experiences,  I know a plethora of people with a diverse set of beliefs. And I can access those beliefs, stances, and thoughts at any given moment on social media. But I can also get annoyed and overwhelmed by those beliefs, stances, and thoughts at any given moment. I am a deeply-rooted people pleaser, and it is so easy for me to feel a simmering burden on my heart every time I scroll through my Facebook feed. 

Here's the deal though, people just don't need my cheap affirmation. They don't need my likes. And I don't need the cheap affirmation of others. I like it. But I don't need it. 

I'll have to write a blog post at a later date about all the redeemable things with social media, because I think there are a lot. 

But for now I want to say, I do not feel any less validated or important because I have no idea who liked my most recent Instagram post. I am sure to have missed out on some things over the past couple weeks. But I have lost little. 

There's me, then there's me wearing a poncho - thoughts on Twitter

Confession time: I've been everything since my last blog post. But my sweet friend Maci has changed some passwords, and overall I'm still loving my slowed-down social media intake. 

Twitter has been my longest love. After begrudgingly starting an account for my high school newspaper (our sponsor told us Twitter would soon be how most people got their news, and we were all, "there's no way, twitter is for old people") I soon found 140 character quips to be the perfect outlet for my snark. 

I feel like I can honestly say, I get joy from Twitter. It makes me smile, if I'm chuckling at my phone it's either a Tweet or a message in the group text with my girlfriends from college. I get most of my news from Twitter. I keep up with sports on Twitter. There are several friend that I have lost touch with that I still feel close to thanks to Twitter. At least once every other day I say, "so I saw this tweet the other day..."

But Twitter is also a safe place to complain, to make fun of others; it's both a catalog of derpy thoughts I have throughout the day, and comments I would normally say to a close friend about a less than fabulous situation. Whereas on Instagram I feel pressure to be cute, I feel an unspoken expectation on Twitter to be witty, and just shambly enough for it to be funny. 

The title of this blog post is actually a tweet I had rolling around in my head all day Saturday. Me wearing my poncho is much like when Michael Scott wears his jeans, I'm just a whole new brand.

But honestly, just shambly enough to be funny is easier to be than granola-cute. Getting a favorite, or retweet is a prized affirmation in my heart. And my tweets that stand un-favorited in my timeline don't last long. 

On Twitter, I am choosier about who I follow, and my audience is the smallest of all my social media accounts. If you're not funny, or you retweet too much, or sub-tweet; sorry sister, I have no problem unfollowing. 

However, moving forward with Twitter, I want to have better boundaries about my snark.

  • Is what I'm saying helpful?
  • Am I being more negative than necessary?
  • Is this better left just said to a friend than thrown out into the universe?

Really, it's been a refreshing time to be on social media less. So far it's not like my life has hours more free time, or all of my friendships suddenly became richer. But I am spending less time looking at my phone. I noticed that when I'm watching movies, I no longer feel the need to also have my phone screen glowing. Some mornings I wake up to zero notifications on my phone and it's amazing.