it’s the world gone crazy

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If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds. C. S. Lewis

Coronavirus has brought the world to a standstill. People are hiding in their homes.  Panic buying. The toilet paper is gone. Shelves are cleared in supermarkets. People are waiting hours in lines. Major League sports have cancelled or postponed their seasons. Around the world gatherings are being cancelled. Churches are putting services online. People are scared to go out of their houses. I have never washed my hands so much, used so much hand sanitizer, or wiped surfaces multiple times daily with disinfectant wipes.

I am really struggling with how to respond to all of this. I have never experienced a global pandemic. I have been in Texas with my aunt & uncle since the beginning of February. I am away far away from my home and my family. Things are so uncertain. Will I be able to get home to Asheville when it is time for me to go home? Will I even be able to cross state lines? Will I be stuck in Texas forever? (GASP THE HORROR) It feels so unsettling to not be at one’s home. Near one’s family, but, I know I am exactly where I am supposed to be. I know God put me here because my Aunt and Uncle are going to need my help, and I am happy to be where I am supposed to be.

But I am a little scared. I am a little worried. Where do you even turn during this. How do you survive a global pandemic? How do you keep two little kids home from school for weeks and entertain them and make sure they don’t spend 100% of their time playing video games? Will people that I love get sick? Will people that I love die?

It is my natural tendency to panic. Not outwardly panic. Google panic. I research everything. I have been checking news updates obsessively. I read one thing and think oh good it won’t be that bad, I read another and think omg we’re all going to die. I walk around the house with disinfectant wipes. I diffuse something random as if it is going to save us…

I read facts and statistics… Ebola killed 11,315 people, Spanish Flu 20-50 MILLION, The Black Death 75-200 MILLION…. surely it won’t be that bad. And the world survived those things… And they didn’t have modern medicine…

I know I need to fall on my knees and pray. PRAY. I know there is NOTHING else I can do. I know that no matter the spread of this virus, God is 100% in control. Take a deep breath Gina. God brought me through a terrorist attack. I thought I was going to die then. And I had such peace about it. What makes this any different? I had time to think about it and prepare for it and stock pile toilet paper (no I didn’t do that really)… But that doesn’t mean God is any less in control.

If corona is coming for us lets do more of these things. Let’s love more and do more good and make more memories. Let’s spend quality time (over FaceTime) Finish that project you’ve been putting off. Write that book you’ve been wanting to write (that’s for me too) Clean that closet you never look at… Read to your kids. Make some amazing memories. If corona is coming let us be THRIVING — “not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs.” [or coronavirus]

God’s got us. We are alive. Right now.

There’s still time for LOVE.

There’s still time for relationships.

There’s still time for HOPE.

Stay safe out there ❤

2019 Book List

I try to read as many books as my age each year. Here’s the list for 2019. I would love your suggestions for books I should read this year!

  1. Elinor Oliphant by Gail Honeyman
  2. The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker
  3. Tender At The Bone by Ruth Reichl
  4. One Day In December by Josie Silver
  5. Map of Days by Ransom Riggs
  6. The Clockmakers Daughter by Kate Morton
  7. The Care & Management of Lies by Jacqueline Winspear
  8. Circe by Madeline Miller
  9. The Last Battle by C. S. Lewis
  10. Indestructible by Ally Fallon
  11. Goliath Must Fall by Louie Giglio
  12. All the Harry Potter Books by J. K. Rowling
  13. A Wrinkle In Time by Madeliene L’Engle
  14. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maude Montgomery
  15. Talking as Fast as I can by Lauren Graham
  16. Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  17. The Gurensey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows
  18. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  19. Delay Don’t Deny by Gin
  20. I Found You by Lisa Jewell
  21. Delicious by Ruth Reichl
  22. My Family & Other Animals by Gerald Durrell
  23. Save Me The Plums by Ruth Reichl
  24. Trauma & Recovery by Judith Herman
  25. Anne of Avonlea by Lucy Maude Montgomery
  26. Sanditon by Jane Austen
  27. Maybe You Should Talk To Someone by Lori Gottleib
  28. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  29. All Quiet On The Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
  30. The Body Keeps Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk
  31. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
  32. The Princess by Lori Wick
  33. Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered by Karen Kilgraff & Georgia Hardstark
  34. The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
  35. The Fellowship of The Ring by JRR Tolkien
  36. The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp
  37. Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen
  38. The Magicians Nephew by C. S. Lewis

 

 

Start Where You Are

“No one lives out an exciting calling without just plunging forward at some point, full of fear and uncertainty.” Shauna Niequist

I think New Year’s can be so anxiety laden. There’s so much pressure to make resolutions. To plan things out. To make the next year better than the last. To grow, to learn, to push yourself into something else. To lose weight, to finish a huge project, to finally meet that person you’re going to marry (as if you have any control over that)…

There’s just so much pressure we put on the new year. And in a few weeks the gyms will be empty again (Thank God) and people will have given up on their diets, and that project will be buried under the junk mail, and you will go on, much as you were going on in December.

Today I was going to be up by 7am and had grand plans of all the things that would be done by 9. My kitchen would be clean, I would have my coffee made, my room picked up, my devos done, 1/2 hour of yoga, and I would be writing by 8 am. But I didn’t sleep last night, so when my alarm went off at 7, I hit snooze, a lot of times. I didn’t get up until 8 and got out of bed already feeling SO behind.

I am reading Savor, by Shauna Niequest and today the title was Start Where You Are and it just hit me. You don’t have to have everything lined up. You don’t have to have a huge plan. You don’t have to dramatically change your life so that 2020 is SO different from 2019. You just have to start where you are. I am not a total failure because I slept in one hour and messed up my whole “plan”. I just started an hour later and I will still have time to get all those things done today. Just not by 9 am.

I have been writing down things I want to pursue and focus on for this next year. Trying to create a clear vision. So I can say yes to the things that are important and more easily say no to things that don’t fit into my goals. I never like saying no to people. I want to help everyone. I want to be there for everyone. Do all the things. But this year I want to try to be intentional. I want to cultivate deep and meaningful relationships. I want to pursue my dreams. I want to create a welcoming and cozy home where people feel comfortable dropping by. I want to excel in my job. I am taking classes at Oxford and I want to do well. These all seem like huge things. But I am just going to start where I am. I am going to say yes to things that push me closer to my goals. And I am going to start trying to say no to things that don’t take me in the right direction. Which I think mostly for me is watching too much tv when I could be using my time more productively.

It’s not about huge goals or resolutions. It’s about starting where you are. Its about baby steps in the right direction. Just doing the next right thing. You look at your goals and you take a step. It’s not I need to lose 50 lbs and when I haven’t accomplished that by the end of January I give up. It’s I need to be healthy so do I eat this cookie or that apple? And take the right step. It not I should have finished writing my whole book by this week, its did I spend time writing today. Did I spend time reading and filling myself up so that I had words to pour out of me onto the page? Start where you are. Do the next right thing. And if you mess up, start again, where you are.

Take a step in the right direction. Put some goals up on your bathroom mirror. I like to use a dry erase marker. That way every morning when you are getting ready you will see them and it will remind you of what you are striving for. Maybe put a sticky note on your tv. Did you read a book today? Before you spend 4 hours scrolling through Netflix? Put a note by your bed. Did you wash the dishes before bed? Or will they sit there until tomorrow? What are the things you want to get better at? And what do you want to be intentional about moving towards? I’d love to hear some of your goals for this new year.

Let’s all start where we are. And see what great things come in 2020.

“You don’t win a year at a time. You win a day and a week at a time. Win the day. Win the week. Repeat.”–Shane Bishop

 

Get off my bus

Imagine you are a bus driver. You have a beautiful new bus that you can design and decorate any way you want. You have spent time making it look so cozy and inviting. There are only two rules about your bus. 1. You have to follow your designated bus route. 2. You have to pick up everyone at the bus stop that wants to get on your bus. You can’t turn anyone away.

You start your first day of work so excited! Your bus looks great, its a sunny day and you are so excited to meet people and drive around your beautiful city. The first stop comes into view and there are three older woman laughing and talking waiting for you. They look like they are having the time of their lives! You are so happy to welcome them onto your bus. Their names are Joy, Hope, and Faith. They chat with you as they board and sit in comfy seats around you and continue their happy banter as you progress to the next stop.

As you approach the next stop you see a man standing there. He is the scariest looking man you have ever see. He looks ANGRY. You hesitate. You don’t want him coming onto your bus. But… rule #2. So you stop and open the door. He GLARES at you as he comes up the steps and sits in the very back right behind you, so every time you look in the rear view mirror you can see him staring angrily at you.

And you move on.

The bus is you. The people on the bus are your emotions, events happening in your life, bad days, good days, chronic pain, migraines, laughter, etc… The point? Who is driving your bus? YOU. You should be driving your bus. You shouldn’t let any of those other things/feelings/events drive your bus. It is YOUR BUS. This is a scenario I talked with my therapist about the other day. Who is driving your bus? The point is you can continue on your day, go through and fulfill all your responsibilities, hang out with friends, go to your job etc, with these things/feelings/events sitting on your bus. They are just passengers. You are still in charge of the bus’ route. But as soon as you let anger, or fear, or pain start driving the bus, you lose control of where the bus is going.

Today my pain is driving my bus. It has been a LONG day. A HARD day. A day filled with a lot of tears. I went to band practice, and then I stopped in at a party. I knew like 5 people and I felt so alone and out of place, so I left after 5 minutes. As I was driving home I looked in my rear view mirror and looked at my pain and said “ MAN I JUST WISH YOU WOULD GET OFF MY BUS!” I know it doesn’t work like that, but in that moment it felt good to yell at it. Tomorrow is a new day. Fresh with no mistakes. Fresh with me starting at the wheel. Hopefully pain will have a harder time taking over tomorrow.

Who’s driving your bus?

I hope it’s you.

Lent Day 1

Growing up I always thought Lent was a Catholic holiday. My grandparents were Catholic and Lent meant fish fries on Fridays and that’s about it. Grandma told me to give things up for lent. One year I think I gave up chewing gum. Another year I might have given up chocolate.

This year for some reason, I’ve been thinking about lent a lot, so I started doing some research. What does it means, what is it’s purpose, why do people observe it? It is observed in preparation for Easter. 40 days, to represent the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert being tempted by the devil, or also 40 days that Moses spent on Mt. Sinai. Ash Wednesday, which is today, is the beginning of Lent for Western Christian churches. It’s a day of penitence to clean the soul before the Lent fast. Lent ends on the Thursday before Good Friday.

The word “Lent” comes from the old English, “lencten,” which means “lengthen” or “spring.” It comes from when the days begin to lengthen as spring is approaching.

Lent is a period of abstinence preparatory to the Feast of Easter. Father J. Michael Sparough says that Lent is a way to “Renew our spirits by entering into this season of holy discipline to prepare for the joy of the resurrection.”

 

I ordered this book by C.S. Lewis to use as a devotional throughout Lent. I’m not sure what I’m going to give up. I think it will be television. This year has been hard and I want to make sure I am doing all the right things. Following the right path. Doing the things I need to do. I’ve been listening to Goliath Must Fall by Louie Giglio and I just love that he said that “We are not David in the story of David & Goliath. Jesus is David. Jesus is the giant killer. Jesus fights the battles for us. Jesus stares down the face of impossible odds. The giant falls because of the work of JESUS.” Louie Giglio (Goliath Must Fall) So maybe there aren’t too many things I need to be doing. But I do know that I need to work on my foundation. My relationship with Jesus.

With my neck and back problems there’s a lot of talk about your brain and your body not working together ad how you need to reprogram it and I see this reflected not just in my body and my mind, but also my spirit. My body and my mind think I have to DO things all the time. I have to keep working and keep trying and keep moving forward, trying to be better, trying to figure it out, but my spirit keeps telling me to be still. And to be honest, I am really crap at being still. Since the bombing especially, I haven’t had too many quiet moments. I either have music, an audio book, or the television on. At the beginning it was because I was scared. The hospital was loud. I did it as a coping mechanism to drown everything else out. I don’t know if that is still why I do it, or if it is just because I am so used to it now that silence seems like impending doom. But maybe that is what I will focus on this Lenten season.

Being still. Being ok with the quiet. Spending time listening. Just being. Without distraction. My phone says I pick it up 116 times a day. I get 714 notifications per day. I spend 30 hours a week on my phone. Yes my job requires me to be on my phone, so a lot of that is work, but that’s still insane. I’ve forgotten how to be still. How to be quiet. How to relax without checking my phone, or my computer. So, I guess for the next 40 days, I’m going to be learning how to be quiet. Are any of you doing something for lent? I’d love to hear about it.

Middle finger to the darkness

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Be loved. Be known. Love people and know people. Be so brave as to raise a hand for help when you need it. Make friends and make sure they know they matter. Be loyal to them and fight for them. Remind them what’s true and invite them to do the same when you forget. If you do some losing or you walk with someone else in their defeat, live with dignity and grace. 

It is a middle finger to the darkness.

Words by Jamie Tworkowski

2018 Book List

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Every year I make a goal to read as many books as my age. I know its not that many yet, but someday when I’m 80…yeah it will be a lot of reading! I probably won’t be able to do much else at that point. Anyway, here’s my 2018 book list. Happy birthday to me! Getting started on my 37 books for 2019…I’d love to hear your suggestions!

  1. The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows
  2. Surprised by Oxford by Carolyn Weber
  3. Side Hustle by Chris Guillebeau
  4. Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
  5. The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
  6. *Harry Potter All 6 Books by J. K Rowling
  7. *The Chronicles of Narnia All 7 books by C. S. Lewis
  8. Spirits In Bondage by C. S. Lewis
  9. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
  10. The Subtle Art of not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson
  11. The Baker’s Secret by Stephen Kiernan
  12. The Night Circus By Erin Morgenstern
  13. The Plantagenets by Dan Jones
  14. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
  15. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
  16. The Little Book of Lykke by Meik Wiking
  17. Wonder by RJ Palacio
  18. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
  19. The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo
  20. Everybody Always by Bob Goff
  21. Scary Close by Donald Miller
  22. Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs
  23. The Shadow of Death by James Runcie
  24. Girl Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis
  25. My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan
  26. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  27. Rare Objects by Kathleen Tessaro
  28. Casual Vacancy by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling)
  29. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
  30. The Eternal Current by Aaron Niequist
  31. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
  32. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
  33. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
  34. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
  35. The Road Back to You by Suzanne Stabile & Ian Morgan Cron
  36. The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
  37. The Broken Way by Anne Voskamp

*  I don’t count the Narnia and Harry Potter books because I read them every year so it’s not like they are new material

British TV Shows

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Yes I know. I quit my job then immediately write a post about television. I promise I have been working on this one for a while. Even before I put in my notice at starbucks.

I am OBSESSED with British TV and I am honestly surprised I haven’t discussed this before now! I wish I lived in the UK. Their Netflix is so much better! I thought I’d make a list for all of you out there who are looking for great shows to watch. Here are some of my current favorites.

  1. Grantchester (really because I just LOVE James Norton)
  2. North & South (is basically the perfect mini series)
  3. Pride & Prejudice (BBC version)
  4. Happy Valley (James Norton again)
  5. Broadchurch (so creepy but so good)
  6. Marcella (another so creepy/good)
  7. Great British Baking Show (they’re just all so nice!)
  8. Sherlock (Benedict. come on.)
  9. Poldark (Ross Poldark. Need I say more)
  10. Endeavor (similar to Grantchester)
  11. The Killing (Danish, not really British, and very scary, but amazing)
  12. Victoria (so perfect)
  13. The Fall
  14. Hinterland (Welsh? The accents took me a while to get used to)
  15. Lovesick (funny and so cute)
  16. Downton Abbey (just watch it all the way to the end I promise. You have to make it to the end!)

This list really could go on and on but these are some of my faves. What are yours? I’d love to know the shows you are into right now!

Thursdays

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“Every single Thursday, I quit something.” – Bob Goff

I have been thinking all week about how to write this, and Bob’s words have been going through my head. “What can you quit today?” I have been feeling this day approaching for a few months, but now that it’s here, it isn’t any easier to put these thoughts down on paper. (or on the computer screen)

It’s Thursday.

So I’m going to quit something.

And that something…

Is Starbucks.

After 14 years, I am walking away. Turning in my green apron. Saying goodbye to free coffee, cheap healthcare, flexible hours, and triple filtered water. But I’m also saying goodbye to so much stress, shifts that are impossible to get everything done, always feeling like I’m a failure, being yelled at by terrible customers about…COFFEE. I’m saying goodbye to cleaning drains, trash runs, Frappuccinos, what size…what size…what SIZE???, 4 am alarms, syrups all over my arms and face and dripping down my leg.

Coco said it best today when we were talking about leaving. “I really just want a job that doesn’t involve windex.”

Yep.

That’s what I want.

So I put in my notice. Saturday is my very last shift. When I started at Starbucks in 2004, it was a different company. A company that was about customers, and community, and loyalty, friendship and great coffee, and connections. Now it isn’t. I miss the “good old days”. The days when I could know 100 customers in a row, their names, and their drinks. We used to test each other to see who could get the most. I definitely made it to 100 or more on multiple occasions. I miss opening SO many days in a row that we thought we were going to die. Doing shots (of espresso) to try to keep ourselves from falling over. Closing at 11 and playing darts at the bar until it closed at 2am. A store that was a family. People I worked with who knew everything about me, who came over for dinner, who called when we weren’t working together just to chat. When we went out for lunch or shopping, we knew everyone. People would pay for our food, come over and give us hugs, yell across the grocery store “hey honey look its our Starbucks people!”

But it hasn’t been that lately. It hasn’t been that for a while. It has been draining me and I am so relieved that it is coming to an end.

I won’t miss the drive through times. I won’t miss Frappuccinos. Happy hour. (which goes from 3-close and no one is happy so WHY is it called HAPPY HOUR??) I won’t miss very much.

But…

I will miss people. Some friends I’ve made. It was a great company for me to work for, for a long time. I learned a LOT. I grew up.

So now, I am pursuing other things. I’m going to finish my book. (books!…yeah I started another one) I am doing social & digital media as an independent consultant. I am going to make my house an air bnb (come stay!) I am just trying to figure out what my adult job is and where I want to go!

It is exciting.

It is terrifying.

But I can’t wait.

And

Since it is Thursday.

I QUIT!

 

black

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for some reason, I kept calling today black friday. not Good Friday. but maybe.

maybe that’s what it really is.

black.

a perfect, innocent man. betrayed with a kiss. sold for silver. whipped. beaten. crowned with thorns. mocked. crucified. killed.

from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. (Matthew 27:45)

And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. (Mark 15:33)

It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45while the sun’s light failed. (Luke 23:44)

He cried out

The veil was torn

An Earthquake

The tomb.

Silence.

I know it was good. I know it was the best day. The day that changed all of history. All of our lives. Forever. Gave us life instead of death. Gave us hope. A bridge. A way.

But the sun went out. The Son of God was dead.

That Friday…

It was also black.