A little gratitude goes a long way

The air is biting, much past the pleasant fall crisp. Streets are blissfully quiet, a benefit of an early-Sunday-morning walk. For once, the air seems clean, instead of its usual putrid, and I am trying my best not to take huge, unladylike gulps of it. It’s delicious, in a very soul-replenishing way, nearly impossible to explain, except that you feel more alive. Joyfully alive.

I was supposed to go to church this morning. I woke up early, everything. And missed the bus. Thinking I could catch a different line, I walked over, and missed that one, too. Some days something are just not meant to be. After contemplating walking back to my apartment and crawling back into bed, I decided to take a walk. Walks purely for pleasure are few and far between these days, when “taking a break” from school work might constitute a brisk walk through the neighborhood, and they don’t do me much good.

Today I did not merely walk. I strolled. I stopped often and as much as I pleased. I talked to God; I admired the skyline. I had nowhere to be and that was liberating. I’m always surprised at how…settled I feel after a long walk. It’s hard to pull myself away from my laptop when I know I have a mountain of work to do, but I’m also coming around to realizing that my best work isn’t done when I’ve been sitting for four hours straight (which I did on Friday). Today when I stood on the Harvard Bridge, I was again amazed and so grateful that I have had the privilege of spending a few years in this city.

Something I have found very effective in combatting worry, fear, anxiety, and the host of negative emotions is the practice of gratitude. A little gratitude goes a long way, believe me. Dreary days become, at the very least, manageable when I practice gratitude. Can I challenge you to do that? You might be surprised.

It’s hard to be grateful when things aren’t going the way you’d like (I’ve definitely been there…and I’m kind of there right now), but seriously, even being grateful for tiny things can make such a difference. Sometimes all I can muster is an “I’m grateful I finished this one task.” Other days, the list could be endless. Gratitude fills me with joy and awe at how well I am cared for. (And bonus: it makes me a more productive person.)

So…what are you grateful for? Maybe you can’t think of anything “big” or “significant,” but I promise, the “small” things count, too. Like, I’m feeling really grateful and content to be sitting on my bed, munching these beet chips I just recently discovered at Trader Joe’s and writing this post. But really—share it below, write it down on some paper, tell someone else and spread the gratitude. It is the seasoning of joy.

You Are Qualified.

Hey there, friends. How’ve you been, lately? I’ll lay it out on the table: I’ve been stressed (a hallmark of a college kid—ha!), feeling small, and feeling very worried. Do you ever feel like things aren’t moving fast enough? Or that they’re speeding by? Right now I’m stuck in both, for various reasons, and that, combined with everything else, is making me question how I’m going to do everything, and whether anyone cares.

One of my love languages is words of affirmation, so it makes sense that I care a lot (even though I shouldn’t) about how people perceive me. It’s a problem, therefore, when I feel like no one sees me. I recently heard that to be loved but not known is superficial, and to be known but not loved is our greatest fear. Honestly, #truth. I’ve been feeling a bit of both, and I’m floundering. I love continuity, but a lot of things are changing. I’m graduating, moving, and all these things that I have little control over are creeping up, and I don’t know how I’m going to do this. It’s safe to say I’m feeling darn unqualified to handle…well, life. And very unqualified to take the leap I believe God is asking me to take.

Last weekend I went to my first (and last) fall retreat with the Navigators and my notebooks says “we confuse visibility with significance. We want temporary affection so badly we forget that God loves us eternally.”

Can I say that again? (Yes, actually, because it’s my blog, ha!)

We confuse visibility with significance. We want temporary affection so badly we forget that God loves us eternally.

Human affection is temporary. It doesn’t matter how many people “love” you now or when you’re gone. Temporary means one day there will be no one left to love us nor remember us. Yet, here we are, simpering for human affection. I don’t write that demeaningly. I, too, have simpered. Society trains us to glorify those with high visibility. Celebrities, “influencers,” anyone who is widely known is also deemed “widely important.”

You don’t have to agree, but I’m going to slap down $15 worth of opinions nobody asked for. To hell with whether or not five, 50, 5,000, or five billion people know who you are. The world might prioritize people whom are widely “loved” and “successful,” but God does not care how many people love you. He loves you enough to account for any human affection many times over.

What does it mean to be known and loved by God? That means you matter and you have a place. It may not be on top of this world, but that matters little because earth is a temporary pit stop. Just because you feel no one sees you (or no one sees you, period) does not make you less worthy nor less loved. You have significance because I believe God is a God who sees and he sees you and me, at our most joyous and our most painful sorrows.

I get it, though, especially because I love words of affirmation. Temporary affection is, I suppose, my jam. It’s easy to get wrapped up in that because I can’t see God, per se. But I can feel him next to me…especially when I’m panicking, of all things. And that is strangely comforting.

So I know (but maybe don’t quite believe) that I matter and that I am qualified. The same goes for you, too. You matter. And no matter how unqualified you feel, you are qualified. Say it again, friend. YOU ARE QUALIFIED. You know what makes you qualified? Willingness. God qualifies us on willingness (which is not always comfortable, and I talked a lot about here), so are you willing? I think I am. I want to be. And it’s ok if you’re not. You are still very much loved. I’m rooting for you.


The Museum of Ice Cream: Dare to Dream

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A couple weeks ago, Haley and I made good on a plan three years in the making: a day trip to San Francisco! The day was anchored by a visit to the very Instagramable Museum of Ice Cream, which was basically all my ice cream dreams come to life. And, I was that extra person who bought an ice cream skirt just for the occasion. The compliments I received made it worth it, ha!

We rode swings surrounded by neon-pastel (yes, that’s a thing) pink cans of whipped cream and under pink-hued bananas and swam in the sprinkle pool, rushing for photos along the way. Surprisingly, for being such and “Instagramable” attraction, the lighting was awful. Mostly artificial and when there was window light, it mingled with whatever bulbs were on. So, not the best conditions, but definitely pints and pints of fun.

At various exhibits there were activities, and a a few required us to get dreaming. Everyone, even “grown-ups,” was asked “what do you want to be when you grow up?,” and “what is a place that makes you happy?,” and “what is your dream?”

This is where things got interesting.

The sprinkle pool was a rainbow of delight; the diner threw us back to the ’50s; and childhood came bounding in the shape of a giant (ride-able) circus cookie. But, it was the answers of my fellow patrons that made the experience incredibly interesting. In particular, I found the responses to “what do you want to be when you grow up?” intriguing. The answers?

“Medicated.” (That one drew laughs.)


“A trillionaire.”

“What, what?” (From a high-school or early-college aged gal, by the looks of her.)

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While I chuckled, I thought it was, well, sad—at least, wanting to be medicated is sad. I think as we get older we lose our ability to dream. And, maybe it’s not dreaming. But our hopeful expectancy of life sort of fizzles out. We’re looking for respite from the grind of work and looking forward to being in a place when we don’t have to work.

As you probably know from my small dissertations, I believe that all work is important, necessary, and contributes something lovely to the world. We’ve turned it into something to run away from, but I think that work is a key piece to who we are and helps us shape the world to what it’s supposed to be.

The Museum of Ice Cream was wild in more ways than one. A psychedelic, Instagram-able, very millennial experience indeed; on the other hand, a stark juxtaposition of those whose dreams have died coming, unprepared to have them rekindled. If the MOIC wanted to bring out the inner child, then it succeed. Not only did it make a “grown up” feel like a kid, but it asks us to again perceive the world with wonder and amazement, excited and eager to see what’s next—even if here, it’s just more sprinkles.

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(me…at the sprinkle pool!)


Review: Glass Houses by Louise Penny

33602101Glass Houses is one of Louise Penny’s best novels in her Armand Gamache series. What drew me to the first book I picked up (A Great Reckoning) was the distinct humanness of all her characters, but in particular, Gamache.

Oftentimes I feel that protagonists lack a bit of humanity. Something is missing, not large, but enough to elevate them above an average human. (At least, that’s what’s happening in the books I’m reading.) They are often characters we can aspire towards or admire. But they are never quite vulnerable enough to make me think deeply.

The quality that elevates Gamache over the host of other characters I’ve gotten know across many, many books is his vulnerability. Penny crafts a character who is at the same time thoughtful, brilliant, and kind with one who is flawed, who doubts himself and his choices, and is at times haunted by his past. Gamache is someone we can both aspire to be and relate to, because he faces his troubles with an unnerving honesty, clarity, and transparency.

All of these qualities were highlighted to their full extent in Penny’s most recent novel, with an interesting delivery. Glass Houses brings us back to three pines with the murder of a mysterious figure. Penny uses flashback to weave the past and present, bringing the reader from the trial in the courtroom to the investigation in the village. Far from being confusing, the back-and-forth gave clarity to both plots. The murder is one, but there is a (slightly) lesser sub-plot with Gamache, now the new head of the Sûreté du Québec, and his new task force working on an operation to bring down the bourgeoning drug trade in the city. We soon find that the murder and the operation are more closely intertwined than could have been imagined, inviting some delightful and unexpected twists that make the novel a page-turner. (I’ve been known to marathon Penny’s books, not sleeping ’till I’ve finished!)

With decisions that toe the line at morality, Penny puts beloved characters in the interesting position of potentially being portrayed as “the bad guy.” The situations ask the reader to question right from wrong, and at what point power is abused. Speaking poignantly to present issues, Penny’s novel questions how we define what is moral and the authority and integrity of the judicial system.


The Hard Places Aren’t Wasted.

This last post has a lil’ to do with Reality SF’s Deliverance series and lil’ bit to do with what I learned spring semester.

First let’s go with the podcast. Hard places. Like Horeb, the desert-mountain place where Moses meets God. Are you in a season of dryness? Perhaps, with your sheep? I’ve been there. Sometimes it feels like I am there. And get this. I never new that Moses was probably around 80 years old when God tells him to go back to Egypt. He was 40~ when he left so…that’s 40 years of desert. Can you image 40 years of (figurative) desert? I would not survive. I’m flattering myself to think that I would.

But, I am super super thankful that our story isn’t wasted in the hard places. It’s not like the author is scribbling over our finite number of blank pages for 40 of them. Nope. God’s building our character so that when he asks us to leap, we can say yes.

This is the final post in my longest (5? parts) series. So I’m going to wrap it up with this.

When I arrived at BU (Boston University, if you’re wondering), I didn’t realize (I suppose, how could anyone) that I was going to enter a season of desert. And, yep, I did cry a lot. But now that I’m looking back (hindsight is 20/20, after all), I think I was being gently chiseled so that starting in January of this year, I could start saying yes to God. It was stressful. I prayed a lot. Barely anything went according to plan. Sometimes, I don’t know how I kept myself from screaming at God and everyone around me. At the end, though, I learned an open hand is essential to approaching God, because we need to be ready to receive what he gives.

Starting in January, God really began asking me to trust him. I didn’t feel ready. I definitely felt unqualified. I was even afraid. But I was willing. And I am so glad I was.

So, my friend, I hope that wherever you are right now, you are encouraged that each page of your story matters; that you see the pressure’s off; that you understand that God is sufficient where we are deficient; and that all we have to do is say yes.

Mini Vanilla French Madeleines

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A new cookbook is rocking the food world right now, written by the women behind The Cook’s Atelier in Beaune, Burgundy (France)! After perusing this gorgeous gastronome tome, I quickly found their Instagram and found myself signing up for their newsletter.

One week later, voilà! A newsletter + recipe for mini madeleines pop into my inbox. The recipe is savory, but I was in a pinch, didn’t have the necessary parmesan, and wanted to try out my new mini pans ASAP. I made my go-to recipe for regular madeleines, found ing—you guessed it—Patisserie Made Simple.

I’m planning on trying out the savory recipe soon (it features chives and parm, yum!), but for now, here’s the recipe for plain madeleines that I love. Bonus to minis? Pop-able like potato chips! May be a minus, depending on how you look at it.

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Mini madeline molds are only 1 to 1.5 inches wide…not much space! I found it easiest to scoop the batter into a plastic bag or piping bag and pipe the batter into the molds. You don’t need much! A teaspoon or less per cavity should do it.

Happy baking, friends! And if you make a different flavor, let me know! Looking for inspiration 🙂


Mini Madeleines

Recipe can be found in Patisserie Made Simple. Also check out The Boy Who Bakes: blog and Insta! I love Ed 🙂


Disrupting Comfortable.

So, remember the post about the danger of comfortable? Welp, on that same vein, my friend also talked about how God disrupts comfortable. Specifically, we talked about Reality SF’s podcast “The Call,” part of the Deliverance series. If you listen to it first, this will at the very least have more context, and at best, make more sense.

Anyways, so we know that we love being comfortable. I’ll shout it, even. I LOVE BEING COMFORTABLE!! I AM A CONTROL FREAK!! But here’s the thing. In “The Call,” we’re talking about how Moses has reached perhaps the epitome of comfortability. He’s hanging out with his sheep; nothing too big is expected of him; life is chill, fine, and dandy.

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I guess the first thing is, what’s your sheep? Like, what’s your comfortable place? I’ll list a few of mine. But, don’t worry, you don’t have to put yourself on the chopping block if you don’t want to.

  • I love being at home alone ignoring the world. Probably reading a book.
  • I love routines so I know what to expect.
  • I squeeze myself onto paths I don’t want to be on, because they look safer than what I really want and am too scared to reach for.
  • My biggest comfortable place? Getting myself into environments I believe I can control well, so that I am not dependent on God but rather can relegate him a conciliatory role while I take care of everything.

The next thing we talked about was the burning bush. That’s Moses’ call away from his old, comfortable life; it’s thrusting him into the unknowns, pushing him into a role he feels he is ill-prepared to accept. And you know what he does? Tries to talk God out of giving him the gig. How many times have you done that? I do it pretty much every day. I’m not ready. I don’t know enough. I’m not prepared. That other person has so many more resources. I’ll never make it. Why me? 

But tell me, friend, what do you feel you’ve been called to do? Have you thought of it? And I’m not talking about the thing you want to be called to do. I’m talking about the thing that maybe makes your stomach drop because you want it or know you need to be there but you just can’t bring yourself to step into that place.

As the podcast notes, this is Moses. He questions God. So. Much. Says someone else should go instead of him. I think every excuse and insecure thought that could be given and had, Moses gave and had. And honestly, that’s me, too.

Santa Rosa Lavender Festival 2018

But you know what the good, good, encouraging news is? God is not looking for the most over-qualified, capable, prepared, smartest person. Here’s the thing that knocked my socks off. God just wants you to be willing. Yep. All you gotta do is volunteer. Because if you think about it, was Israel freed by by Moses’ might, brains, and ingenuity? NOPE. Literally, one of the things that saved them was a plague of frogs. #godsplan

What does this mean for us? We don’t even need to be prepared. Leave the safety goggles at home. As long as you’re willing, God’s going to use you. But here’s the catch. It’s hard to leave behind what we’ve known. Why do you think it’s so hard to start a new project? We’re too comfy on cruise control. The big question is, are we going to trust God is going to be sufficient in our deficiencies? Because like it or not, sometimes he’s just going to blow through like a tornado and disrupt! The only way to be ready? Holding on to him.