If: Plano

If:Plano recap | www.amusingmj.com So this weekend my awesome sister-in-law (and some other rockstar ladies) put on a women’s conference called If:Plano.  There was a huge women’s conference in Austin called the If: Gathering.  It is put on some women who have an amazing heart for God and wanted to ask the question If God is real what does that mean for our lives?  But then all across the world other churches are putting on programs called If:Local.  So ours was If:Plano, but there were TONS of others around the US and the world.  Anyway, last year, my sister in law went to Austin and really felt God calling her to put on an If:Local event at our church, so this past year she has been working so hard to bring this even to St Andrew and I was so happy to have been able to be a part of it.  And because I feel like all great events like this need a little decompression and recap, I thought I would share some of my favorite tidbits from the weekend.  And also, they did such an amazing job of making all of the tiny little details beautiful and I wanted to share them with you all! (ps one of my good friends made ALL of those cookies for our gathering! Talk about a labor of love!! She is amazing!)

If: Plano recap | www.amusingmj.com

The event is centered around streaming these talks from the Austin conference and some of them were truly amazing.  I had 4 favorites: Jo Saxton, Eugene Cho, Bianca Olthoff and an Indian woman who spoke about her experience as an abused woman. I’ll talk a little bit more about why I liked them, but one of the things that I realized is that they said some great things, but none of them were so profound that I had never thought of them or been told similar things, but rather that it gave me some time to take a breath, refocus and think about my life, my faith and where God really wants me to be.  It was more a time of allowing myself to Be Still, which lets be honest DOESN’T HAPPEN often enough.  I think it was a God thing that the If:Gathering was this weekend, there was something very powerful about all my worldly possessions being on a truck and out of my reach while I was listening to people talk about how to live a more faithful life.

If: Plano recap | www.amusingmj.com

Alright, some of my favorite thoughts from the weekend (and yes I’m paraphrasing all of these, so apologies if these were just my interpretations of what they said!).

From Jo:

  • Learn to let go of the perfection and need to live up to other people’s standards. Jesus wasn’t insecure.
  • When God is moving, IT MAKES A DIFFERENCE.
  • God doesn’t look at us and say Come on… Get it together, he is instead interested in the renewal of all things
  • Take the resurrection personally. What you see as broken, he sees as beloved.

From Eugene Cho:

  • Sometimes we are more in love with the idea of following Jesus rather than to actually follow in his steps.
  • The world is cacophonous and drowns out the fact that we are the image of God.
  • If you believe that someone is outside of God’s redemptive power of Grace, you need a refresher course on his grace.
  • If you think the grass is greener on the other side, maybe the spirit is telling you to water your own grass!

Bianca: I mostly found Bianca highly entertaining and enjoyed her perspective on the story of Lazarus… and now I will never hear that story without thinking of Martha as a fiery Puerto Rican woman.

The woman in a Sari (someone told me we weren’t supposed to put her name out on the internet… so I’m not calling her by name):

  • Her story as an abused Indian woman was POWERFUL and her work to end slavery across the globe is inspiring.  I want to learn more about IJM and their work.
  • “Sometimes we are willing to let the wound rot instead of being willing to open up to our shame.
  • What we really need is for people to JUST SHOW UP.  If:Plano recap | www.amusingmj.com

It was sort of amazing that the speakers that I expected to be blown away by, I was actually underwhelmed with their talks; but the people I had never heard about were very POWERFUL.  I think there is a lesson in that! We talk about loving the least and the lost, but then our society idolizes certain people and makes us believe that their word, their story is more important than someone else’s.  And I’m definitely not saying their story and their knowledge isn’t important, I just think I sometimes need to be reminded that there is a lot to be learned from EVERYONE in every walk of life.

I think one of my favorite parts of the weekend was the worship music.  We had our local church’s contemporary band play, led by  Shana Saint who has a PHENOMENAL voice.  I LOVE the music from The Well and that band did NOT disappoint.  Listening to a group of women singing “It is well with my soul” and “My chains are gone, I’ve been set free”, sometimes as a declaration, sometimes as a plea, is one of the more amazing experiences.  And it is well with my soul.  If: Plano recap | www.amusingmj.com

The If:Gathering also is a big supporter of Noonday Jewelry and my sister-in-law got to share about how amazing this jewelry is and the marketplace it creates for women in third world countries who are provided a living wage because of the jewelry that is sold through this program… and it is beautiful, fantastic jewelry to boot!

If: Plano recap | www.amusingmj.com

I feel like I have a lot of other thoughts from the weekend as well, but I really appreciated the opportunity to take a break from the busy-ness of my current life and refocus.  One of the things Reese and I have talked about in this moving process is being intentional about our lives in Wichita.  We want to take time to really invest in our family, invest in our new church and invest in some sort of service to the community (yet to be determined).

This weekend also gave me the opportunity to say goodbye (for now) to quite a few of the friends and people from the church who have influenced my husband and I over the past few years.  There was more than one tearful goodbye and the If: Plano felt like the perfect way to close this chapter and start a new one.  I especially loved getting to share the weekend with Becky and my mom! (my twin brother also helped prep/serve during the weekend too, even though it was a women’s conference) I have the best family… church and family family!

If: Plano recap | www.amusingmj.com


Saying Goodbye to my House

Pardon me while I write a completely personal and extremely sentimental post.

I am sitting in my house, surrounded by boxes that the movers packed up yesterday  (when they showed up a day early… eek!!) and I have a plethora of emotions running through my head.  But it occurs to me that even though we have lived in this house only a year, it is home. I have LOVED this house. In just one short year I have a ton of memories from here. I want to remember those memories, and cherish them.  So I’m going to share them with you all.   frontofhouse

First and foremost I love that it is where we brought Taylor home for the first time.  I remember walking to the front door in utter and complete exhaustion, my body being weak and in pain from the surgery, but elated at coming home with my husband and daughter.

I do not want to forget the nights sitting around in my living room with my small group. Small group sounds so cliche and shallow for the strength and depth of these friendships.  Those nights are how I have survived this year. Their friendship, their support, their food, their love, their wisdom… they are as much a part of me as anyone else.

I want to remember floating in the pool on a hot summer day… 9 months pregnant and loving every second of the cool water and floating.   outdoorfurniture1

I want to remember the two Christmases we had in this house, our last as just my husband and me and the other Taylor’s first Christmas and Reese’s few short days home during training.  I always feel extra emotional during Christmas with the traditions and beautiful church services, but these two have felt extra special.  Both years we have had a huge family dinner with my parents, my brother and sister-in-law and my sister-in-laws family.  And those are exactly what Christmas dinners should be… endless stories, loud laughter, good natured-teasing and a whole lot of love. Coral and Gray Nursery | www.amusingmj.com

I don’t want to forget my baby shower- a room full of friends who love my little girl.  I still look up at my wall of alphabet letters that they all made for me and think about the love they have for Taylor and me.  I am so lucky to have women like that in my world.    housetourlivingroom1

There are tons of little memories that have happened over the last year, but those are the big ones.  And as I watch all my material possessions being loaded on a truck, I have to tell myself that the house is not what makes the memories.  It is the people and the life lived inside.  I will love my next house, as I loved this one;  but for now, I’ll shed a few tears that this chapter of my life is ending and I’m starting a whole new one.

So I’m doing a little grieving today for this house that I love and the life that has been lived inside its walls.

2016 Goals

I’m not usually one for New Year’s Resolutions (and yes… I’m aware that New Years was over 2 weeks ago… BUT, I’m not usually a fan, mostly because I know that if I were to make them… I’d break them in 2.7 seconds.  It is like my brain takes my decision to change something in my life as a challenge to see how fast I can break it. Oh… you want to go on a diet… how about you drink 3 Large Dr. Peppers instead? Okay… cool.

Amusing MJ New Year's Resolutions | www.amusingmj.com

So I don’t usually make them.  But for a whole host of reasons, this year feels like a good year to make some generic goals for the year.  Maybe it is that we are moving and will be in a new city.  Maybe its because it is Taylor’s first full year and I want to start good traditions and have been thinking a lot lately about what kind of parent I want to be.  Or maybe I just miss having a list like my 30 before 30 to focus me on the things I want to do. I’m not sure what exactly, but I find myself really drawn to the idea of challenging myself this year.  So without further ado, my goals for 2016.

  1. I want to learn to code.  Like webpages.  I took a computer science class in college and loved it; I’m also sort of the default tech person at our small business because i’m the only one who knows anything much about computers.  But I think this is something I could be good at and I love learning things like this.  So I’ve already kind of started this one by signing up for Codecademy and you know… in all my free time, I’ll be working through it.  I’ve done a few lessons already and love the step by step process.  We will see how I feel when it gets more complicated!
  2. Run a half marathon. I have run 2 1/2 half marathons (the half is a long story that involves me signing up for too many things on one day and deciding I’d rather watch KU play in the Elite 8 but not wanting to bail on a friend) but it has been a few years.  I’m wanting to get back into running post baby, so I have a jogging stroller and so as soon as the temps warm up… she and I will be pounding the pavement and starting the slow process of building up endurance again.  My goal is the Prairie Fire Half in October as a way of getting to know my new city better!
  3. Blog More. In the insanity that has been my last several months–sort of single parenting, getting the house ready to sell, finding a house to buy, my normal day job, blogging has taken an understandable backseat.  But I truly miss logging my life online and working on projects and updates.  I’m guessing that this year it will be more parenting/crafting than projects and house updates (I promised my husband I wouldn’t buy a fixer upper–despite my addiction to everything Magnolia–so our new house doesn’t need much updating), but I still have the goal of being more semi-regular in posting than I have been.
  4. Say No more often.  Moving to this new city feels like somewhat of a fresh start, and while absolutely LOVE my life in TX and all of the things I say yes to, I want to be intentional in this new place about thinking through what I want to be involved in.  My husband will have a much more demanding new job and with our little family I want to make sure that the things that will take away from our time as the 3 of us are something I really want to do, not just something I get asked to do.
  5. Have more Lazy Days.  Sort of related to item #4, I am so guilty of over-scheduling my life and I want to have more freedom to take long walks, go play at the park, or just have a lazy day at the house without feeling the need to GO GO GO or finish an obscenely long list of to-dos.

So those are my broad goals for 2016.  Who knows what life will throw my way, but for now those have been on my mind… and there is nothing like throwing out to the old inter-webs to keep you accountable.

What do you think? Can I do it? Or am I too hard wired to be who I am?