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.

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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!

 

5 years

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It’s been 5 years. Can you believe that? It’s so crazy! Sometimes it feels like yesterday and sometimes it feels like a dream that never happened. I think this week it’s been feeling close because I had to have a small surgery on the toe on my bad leg and have been driving my car with my amazing left foot gas pedal. Brings back so many memories. Remember when I was trying to learn to drive with my left foot and I thought I would surely kill someone? Now it’s second nature and I don’t even have to think about it.

Five years is a long time. But it is also not that long.  A lot of things have changed. I moved away from NY. I bought a house last year! I have (almost) 3 nieces and 1 nephew since the bombing. My parents have also moved to live near my sister and I. I’ve travelled to so many places since the bombing. I’ve grown in so many ways. I think I still have a long ways to go. A lot to learn. But who doesn’t?

I thought I’d share some clips from 2013. In case you haven’t known me long, and don’t know what I’m even talking about. Here’s a BLAST from the past. (pun intended) It’s long so I won’t be offended if you don’t read it all! (there’s some pics at the bottom too!)

4-23-13

Today I met Steve. Steve was in the ambulance with me when we rode to the hospital. He was watching the marathon with his 4 year old son. He was hurt far worse than I. But all I remember from the ambulance ride is him holding my hand and alternating a between telling me it was going to be ok, and yelling at the medics to find his son who was now all alone. He held my hand the whole way. i have been wondering about him. How he was doing. Did they ever find his son? So today, then the nurse told me the man who rode in the ambulance with me was hoping to see me before he left for rehab, I was of course eager to see him. He came in on a stretcher, on his way out of the hospital. when he saw me tears formed in his eyes and rolled down his cheeks. I of course started crying as well. his son had been missing when we were together in the ambulance so I inquired after him first. They foun him and he only had a small scratch on his head an was fine. Thank God. And Steve? He said he was fine. But I pushed. Really fine? No. His leg was missing from the knee down. I cried even more. My leg is useless and probably will be for a very long time, but at least I have it. Steve is going to the same rehab center that I am so as he was pulled out of my room we promised to find each other. I don’t know Steve. But I know he held my hand during some off the scariest moments of my life. And for that I will be eternally grateful.

4-28-13

When the bomb went off, something made a huge gash in the back of my right leg right near the bend of my knee. It is about a 9-10 inch horizontal cut. It was so deep that it severed my main artery and 2 main nerves. I lost a ton of blood. I think I got at least 4 units, but I’m not sure if I got more than that. My left leg has some cuts on it as well, but nothing that required stitches or anything. It is all black and blue and ugly with scratches and cuts, but it will heal fine. Back to my right leg. So in my first surgery they repaired my artery and cleaned it all up. A portion of my calf was also cut off/blown off? But it was small so it’s not like I’ll have a huge gap in the back of my leg where my calf should be :-). Ok so second surgery I have no idea what they did. Third surgery they reattached my nerves and closed up the wound. My entire leg is in a splint with my knee kept bent at an angle. The reason for this is so that the nerves don’t get stretched while they are trying to heal. I also have a boot on my foot. I am getting a hard cast on Tuesday and it will again be my entire leg. And I’m sure I will keep the boot on my foot.

My foot has no feeling. I have a small spot in the arch of my foot where I can feel if someone is touching me, but other than that, nothing. I also can’t move my foot or my ankle. This is because of the nerves being cut. Nerves repair at a very slow rate. In my case, since the nerve now has to “grow” from my knee to my toes, they said it will take roughly 400 days for the nerve to get all the way down. So I may not feel, or be able to move my toes for over a year. I’m not sure what this means for walking. Also, since it is my right leg this also means I may not be able to drive for over a year. Which is a very frustrating thought!

Since the nerves have been reattached I have CRAZY nerve sensations going on all in my foot and toes which is a really good sign, but still no feeling.

4-29-13

The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.
Psalm 34:7

 

First of all, there must have been hundreds of angels all around us. The new Chris Tomlin song Whom Shall I Fear kept running through my head. “The God of Angel armies is always by my side”. So yes, I believe there were angels all around us. We were so close to the bomb, we should be hurt much worse, or even dead. Although our injuries are extensive, they should have been much worse. Second, Colton brought this up to me today. People keep asking “where was God in all of this?” Just look at the pictures. Look at the chaos and then look at me or Rebekah, or Peter or Kim or Colton. That’s where God was. We are His children, filled with His Spirit. In the midst of chaos, He WAS there. Third, I believe that God gave us so so much grace. Grace to think clearly. To know how to respond in trauma. To know to tie tourniquets. Or to coach people to breathe. Or to know how to communicate with the first responders. Not one of us lost control or freaked out.

Someday I’m sure I will look at the pictures. But I just want you to know today, that God was there. He was with us. We would not be where we are today if it weren’t for Him. And as we are experiencing more and more of His grace everyday, we are amazed and speechless and we just keep clinging to Him.

I know who goes before me
I know who stands behind
The God of angel armies is always by my side
The One who reigns forever
He is a friend of mine
The God of angel armies is always by my side

left footed gas pedal installed in my car

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Toe off AFO that I wore after my leg brace. I had this on my leg for almost a year.

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After the wound healed, it looks a bit better than this now, but these are my scars.

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Full leg brace for MONTHS and crutches for 8 months.

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These two are COMING TO SEE ME TODAY! But they were my first outing I think. They took me out for coffee after they flew in from Kansas to visit me when I got out of the hospital. (yes I’m in a wheelchair)

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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.

 

2018 Book List (So Far)

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  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 And the Sorcerers Stone by J. K Rowling
  7. *Harry Potter And the Chamber of Secrets by J. K Rowling
  8. *Harry Potter And the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K Rowling
  9. *Harry Potter And the Order of the Phoenix by J. K Rowling
  10. *Harry Potter And the Half Blood Prince by J. K Rowling
  11. *Harry Potter And the Deathly Hallows by J. K Rowling
  12. *The Magicians Nephew by C. S. Lewis
  13. *The Horse & His Boy by C. S. Lewis
  14. *The Lion Witch & Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
  15. *Prince Caspian by C. S. Lewis
  16. *Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C. S. Lewis
  17. *The Silver Chair by C. S. Lewis
  18. *The Last Battle by C. S. Lewis 
  19. Spirits In Bondage by C. S. Lewis
  20. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
  21. The Subtle Art of not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson
  22. The Baker’s Secret by Stephen Kiernan
  23. The Night Circus By Erin Morgenstern
  24. The Plantagenets by Dan Jones
  25. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
  26. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
  27. The Little Book of Lykke by Meik Wiking
  28. Wonder by RJ Palacio
  29. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
  30. The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo
  31. Everybody Always by Bob Goff
  32. Scary Close by Donald Miller

* I read all these but I don’t them count towards my goal because I have read them so many times before.

17 Books left to go before my birthday in September. I always love your suggestions!

breathe

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Today started all sorts of wrong.

My Fiddle Leaf Fig tree has not been doing well, so I have been trying to hard to help it. I bought it a warm-mist humidifier and when I got up this morning it had dropped two more leaves.

I picked up the tree skirt and vacuumed up all the needles from the tree, put the tree skirt back and a million needles fell all over my vacuumed floor and clean tree skirt. Fail.

I put Christmas lights up on my front porch and they look so cute, but they KEEP FALLING DOWN. As soon as the tree dropped needles all over my freshly vacuumed floor a noise outside startled me. Most of the lights had decided to give up and fall down onto the porch.

At this point I decided to put on some music as loud as possible because I just needed some Jesus in my frustration. But my speaker, which normally works just fine, would not play the music. It was in and out, every other word. OH MY GOODNESS. I finally just let my phone play the music.

I had to print something to mail for a friend, and it needed to be mailed today. Of course, you guessed it, my printer will not work.

So now it is 11 am. I have cried three times and feel like I have accomplished NOTHING because everything keeps going wrong. I wonder why I even got up this morning. Should I just go back to bed?

I gave up on everything, sunk down into my desk chair and started reading the devotional for todays advent.

“This is the gift that wraps up all the stresses quiet:

I will bless you.

…the weight of everything melts like thinning snow in the heat of His words: “I will bless you.” He will not burden you. He will not break you. He will bless you…”

“So slow down to feel the wind. Listen to the carols just a little bit longer. Linger in the quiet and taste the grace of now, and know that He is good and He is God. Name them in this moment – gift upon gift upon gift – and listen for the echo in everything: I will bless you.

Sigh

Breathe

So here I am at noon, with nothing accomplished in my day, but with this reminder now wrapping me up and reminding me that I am blessed. God will bless me. And all my stupid, trivial, annoying things that go wrong don’t really matter. I just need to slow down and breathe.

Breathe.

The Greatest Gift

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I know Thanksgiving was this week, but now that everyone is in the Christmas mood, I wanted to put this out there so you could get it in time. I have read this book the past two Christmas seasons and I think its the perfect way to put your heart and mind in the right space for remembering what Christmas is really all about. Ann has a poetic voice, and the short devotionals for each day leading up to Christmas are beautiful and bring peace and focus to this crazy holiday season. There’s one short chapter for each day of December, be sure to get your copy soon so that you have it in time! I’d love to know what you think!