Needing rest to function

Monday, October 28, 2013

I think I am finally realizing, or maybe finally admitting, that in this season of my life, Mondays are most definitely my lazy days. The day where I struggle the most to get out of bed.  [Though quite honestly, it is a pretty significant struggle every day.  But that’s for another post].  The day where my motivation is somewhat lacking, and where I fight the list that forms in my head.  But what I’m discovering remembering, is that I am a girl who needs balance. 

Some people thrive on being really busy, who love the go, go, go, and have a hard time letting themselves just sit and relax even if the moment presents itself.  I am very much the opposite.  I am really good at relaxing.  I love settling in on the couch with a good book, a movie, or the latest series on Netflix.   But I’ve learned that I don’t just love relaxing, but that I actually need it.

When I worked as a Ministry assistant for a college ministry, as part of Elmbrook church, I loved my job.  I loved the people I worked with and the opportunity to have a career focused on the Lord day in and day out.  But what I didn’t realize at first, was that even in a job in the church you can get burnt out really really easily.  In college ministry, my job was not like other professions.  Most of my working hours were at odd times of the day, especially in the evenings when students were free from school, and often on weekends for events, or retreats.  So when my week quickly filled up with something every week night, I started to get burnt out. Going going going for weeks on end, I got overdone… unless I had at least one day where I could sit with nothing on the docket begging for my attention- a day where I could simply relax.  

In this world, sitting and allowing time to relax is often seen as weakness.  As if not having every day filled to the max is a bad use of time.  It was really hard for me to admit to my boss, that I needed to re-work my schedule so I could have at least one night of the week where I got to simply “be.” But as I discovered more and more how extremely important that day was in order for me to function at the best of my ability and for me to really pour my heart into what I was doing, I began to fight more for it.  
I now know that I crave balance in a world of busyness, and that I really do need those days.  So when it comes down to it, my Mondays are much more than my lazy days- they have organically become my breathe and recover day.  That one day that I need oh so badly in order to function to the fullest of my ability throughout the rest of the week. 

Now you know what I’m up to for the rest of the day! ;)  

I know that not everyone is in the season that I am in, with the ability to choose my day of rest, but my prayer is that whatever your week looks like, that you might be able to make time to simply be.  And that through those moments you feel the peace of God refreshing you, equipping you for whatever the rest of your days hold.

[Are you good at resting?  I’d love to hear if there are any other “needing rest to function” sort of people out there.]


Fall Field Trip Photographer [& Blogstomp! ]

Monday, October 14, 2013

First of all, I have to say that fall is most definitely my favorite season.  I love seeing all the beautiful fall colors as the leaves start to change!  I can't imagine living in a place where you don't get to experience the lovely colors of fall, it seems so weird to me.  With that said, when my sister mentioned that she was taking her 4-K class to a pumpkin farm for a fall field trip, I pretty much jumped on that opportunity and offered up my services to be her class photographer for the day. 

My sister works at Cross Trainers Academy, a choice school for at-risk-youth which is part of the Milwaukee Rescue Mission.  It is a great school, with a really stellar, hard-working staff that pours their hearts into the lives of their students.  I am so proud of my sister and the way that she cares for the little ones in her classroom, so it is always my honor and pleasure to be a part of what she's doing in one way or another.  Okay, that's kind-of not true, it's not always my pleasure at first... I must admit I'm somewhat terrified of small children.  Maybe terrified is a bit strong, but there was definitely an incident one of the days I volunteered in her classroom.  At one point, the entire classroom of littles collectively mocked and laughed at what I had so kindly asked them to do.  I'm pretty sure twenty 4-year olds successfully bullied this 20-something.  hah.  And, it may or may not have left me a little chicken to volunteer in the future.   But I am working through that traumatic experience ;) , getting braver with each visit, and despite the fear, I really do enjoy being able to watch my sister in her element and spend time with the kids she loves on.  

This field trip was a perfect fall day of fun.  The weather was fantastic, and the kids had a blast.  They were able to feed goats, go through a corn maze, ride on a hay wagon, and pick out their very own pumpkin to take home.   And that's where my part came in.  After picking out their pumpkin, each child came over by me to get their picture taken.  They were SO cute as they proudly showed off their hand-picked pumpkin for the camera.  I am soo thankful I was able to be a part of this cool opportunity and give them a piece of their experience to take home and show their parents, something that they don't often get to do.  

It was a really great day.  I got to work on my fear of 4 year olds, and also continue to grow in my hobby of photography.  I was pretty proud of the pics I took (fully in manual! boom.) and look forward to my next opportunity to be the field trip photographer.  Since I can't show you pics of the kids (for privacy reasons), instead, enjoy a few of the lovely farm.  

P.S. If you are looking for a quick and easy to use tool to help you resize your images and have them web-ready, I highly recommend purchasing Blogstomp!  I heard about it through Arielle a wedding photographer at the Influence Conference and I am so glad she told us about it because it is awesome.  For only $49.00 you are able to quickly import your photos and in just seconds have them crunched to the right width for your blog.  Also, you can easily adjust the borders, backgrounds, round the corners, and even add a watermark if you'd like.  You should definitely check it out!  [I'm sharing this quick review with you just because I thought it was great, no other reason.]

Link Arms with Jesus and Walk Forward

Monday, October 7, 2013

It is really difficult to quickly summarize the affirmations, encouragements, and challenges that God impressed on my heart through the Influence Conference.  I shared a little bit about it here, but I'd like to try and give you just a little glimpse of the bigger picture.

Much can be summarized with the words shared by the lovely Hayley Morgan as she encouraged us to link arms with Jesus and walk forward.  Hearing these words at the opening session was like music to my ears and joy to my soul. Finding myself in a place of in-between, unsure of exactly what I'm doing or where I'm going, I really needed this simple reminder to focus not on my lack of direction but on simply walking forward with Him.  Being in this place, it is so easy to get caught up in the lies of the world, the concerns about no direction and the strivings to be as cool as so-and-so or to do something greater.   But as Hayley boldly put it, “If you are believing the LIES you cannot enjoy the FREEDOM of the TRUTH.”

What I know to be true is that He created me. He created me as a good thing in the widest sense of the word.  He has given me passions- He has given me dreams. And it is my duty to own my identity in Christ, and obey the call to action to FOLLOW HIM.

The questions beyond this, the ones that are so easy to get caught up in, like: okay, so I know to follow Him but to where?  What does following Him look like when I really don’t know where He is calling me?  How am I going to be successful and cool and make Him known all at once?  Yes, these ones that so easily and so frequently plague my mind and threaten to throw me off the path... these are the ones that I must work hard to defeat.

Lara Casey, one of the speakers, (and might I add an incredibly talented, God-honoring, and inspiring woman) helped me to counteract these questions and lies as she so beautifully reminded me- the goal in our lives is not to be successful, not to follow our dreams… the goal is HIS GLORY.  This puts it all back into perspective.

Proverbs 19:21 says it simply, “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”

One of the coolest things, and something that gets me pretty fired up about God, is that He loves us so much that He wants us to be a part of His purpose- to be a part of his incredible plan to reach all nations- to be a part of making His name great.  He could do it alone, He's a mighty God.  But He doesn't, because He wants us to be a part of it!  I love this!

God doesn't give us passions and dreams for no reason- He plants them in our hearts because He wants us to use them for Him, for His glory! I love love love this reminder because it means that this dream that is deep in my soul to use my words for Him, the crazy desire to write a book and maybe even be a speaker for His name- He put that there!  This is one strong affirmation that I so needed to hear.

Jeff Goins was such an encouragement as he said, “If you have a dream, pursue it, protect it, and take care of it—it’s a gift from the Lord.” My dream is not about me, but it needs me.  Well if this is in fact the case, then who am I to disobey what the Lord has put on my heart?

When God puts something on your heart, don’t hesitate- just GO!!!

Reflecting back on all these words and challenges that were shared at the conference, I can’t help but feel my joy begin to overflow. God really did want me at this conference for a reason. He wanted me there to affirm me in who He created me to be.  He wanted me there to remind me that what I am doing is ALL about Him.  And He wanted me there to encourage me that I am so not alone.  This journey is not just to link arms with Jesus, but to link arms with others, to build a strong community where we encourage one another, build each other up, and spur one another on to reach the dreams that God has prepared for us so that we might truly MAKE MUCH OF HIM.

As I settle back into “normal” life, and come down off of the conference high, I know that the days ahead will not be easy. That I will need to work to defeat the lies of the world, and that I will need to intentionally and whole-heartedly pursue Him, no matter what happens. But I am SO excited for the journey ahead- I can't wait to pursue and protect the dream that He has placed in my heart.

My prayer is that you might be encouraged by this little glimpse of what I learned through the Influence Conference.  And that you might join me in linking arms with Jesus and walking forward knowing that  no matter where He leads, with Him there is freedom.

I am so so thankful for the Influence Conference, for each of the women who make up the Influence Network core team that made this happen for us, and for each of the speakers who so beautifully glorified the Lord as they shared where He is leading them in their lives. 

A new sense of Community

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

This past weekend, I had the amazing opportunity of attending The Influence Conference- a conference all about “making your online life mean something” and making much of Christ. It was an experience that I will never forget; one that has left a life-long impression on my heart.

Spending two solid days soaking up knowledge, challenges, and encouragements from the speakers at the conference, there is so much to be processed and so much to be taken in. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve even begun to process what I’ve all learned. But there’s one strong feeling that I walked away with, and that is one of community.

Signing up for the conference one week before it was to take place, didn’t really allow me the time to find someone to sign up with me, or to make friends over the web to connect with. So going into the weekend not knowing anyone, it felt like there was a very strong chance that I might feel pretty lonely at times. But honestly, other than the first five minutes, it felt like quite the opposite.

Being a believer, we are soo blessed because God gives us an automatic sense of community with each and every other follower of Christ. Through his Son, we are unified by the Holy Spirit, which gives us an indescribable and immediate sense of community that could not be traded for any other. This is one of my favorite things because it’s like an automatic bond, a strong “common interest” that instantly makes it feel like, although we’ve just met, we've known each other for years.

But beyond having this connection, there was a new sense of community that I had never experienced before. Ever since starting my blog a year and a half ago, I have always felt a little bit like the odd one out. Sharing with friends and family that I started a blog, I often got the “deer in the headlights” look, followed by a response like “oh, that’s cool.” Other than one other girl, the lovely Cari over at A Sailor, his girl, and their dog, I have most often felt like the only one in the state of Wisconsin who felt strongly called to be a blogger. Now, I understand that is very much not the case- but when there aren’t any other people who share this interest in my direct circles, it begins to feel this way.

Coming to the conference, it was like a breath of fresh air. For once, I felt like someone else got it. It felt like this was God’s way of saying, “See Mindy? You’re not alone!” I absolutely loved being surrounded by others who, just like me, have their own little space on the web and are trying to understand God’s calling for that in their lives. [Not to mention, I met sooo many sweet and amazing women. Three of whose feet are pictured in the image above: Tanya, Meghan, and Ashton.]

Not only was it affirming and encouraging for where I'm at as a writer in the crazy world of blogging, but it was also a challenging reminder that God really did create us to live in community. He created us to need each other, to challenge each other, to "encourage one another and build each other up." He created us to be just like the word’s definition, “a unified body of individuals” who are so on fire for him that others can’t help but be drawn into the beautiful community that we have with Him.

As I made the 5 hour trek home from Indianapolis, I couldn’t help but feel a little sad as I left what felt like a sweet, protected, little bubble of women, unified through our love for Christ and passion for sharing words on the web.  I am so grateful for each of the women that I met, the awesome team who made it happen, and the community that I'm now excited to be a part of.  Even though we are spread all over the states, this community does not need to come to an end.  In fact, I am pretty certain that this is just the beginning.  

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