14 April 2014

The Tragedy That Defines Us

Our memory and our vision are often least reliable when it comes to the things we are closest to and care about the most. We are often the last ones to see what is obvious to an outsider…saintly Mrs. Bebe and her family had forgotten the tragedy that defined them
Matthew Sleeth, 24-6 a prescription for a healthier, happier life

The excerpt above is from Dr. Sleeth’s book “24-6” a book about the Sabbath and how we need that seventh day of rest in our lives. I downloaded a sampler of this book from NoiseTrade books and it truly is amazing. However, totally outside of the topic of the book, the underlined portion above is what caught my eye. The tragedy that defined them. The story he is referring to is Mrs. Bebe and her family’s history and how it affected her physically. One cold night in January Mrs. Bebe came into the emergency room via ambulance complaining that her chest hurt “right here” (heart vicinity).  Dr. Sleeth could find nothing wrong with her and began asking the family about her history and finally, if anything significant had happened at that time of year. He found out that many years ago Mr. Bebe had passed away in a horrible home/barn fire while trying to rescue the animals. The children and his wife stood there and watched while the house and barn burned down with no way to help their husband. Mrs. Bebe’s complaint and pain was due to a broken heart, not a medical condition. The quote above was referring to the fact that the entire family had forgotten what occurred that snowy night even though it had re-shaped their world forever. It truly was a tragedy that defined, or redefined rather, their existence.

It made me think of the things that shape who we are and the choices we make. I’ve read that the choices we make and the opinions we form are often due to negative influences rather than positive ones, or that negative influences can hold more weight than the positive. Tragedies impact us more than the happiest of occasions. Accidents on the road make us drive more cautiously. Seeing the way alcohol and drugs can ruin a person’s life make us more cautious in pursuing destructive behavior. Relationships gone wrong encourage us to renew the communication and commitment in our own lives. It’s the tragedies that force us to make some of our most important decisions, not always the successes.

“Tragedy doesn’t stop you from living.
Tragedy happens to let you remember why it is important for you to live.
The only way tragedy can stop you from living is when its force is so strong
that it causes your own life to end.”
-Lloyd Moffat, The Decisions that Shape One’s Destiny

This concept is so huge for me in learning to weather life’s storms. I can choose to respond to the tragedies in such a way that I am constantly reacting to life or I can choose to respond in a way of creating an alternate decision or opportunity from that tragedy.  Learning to use tragedy as a preparation for something greater. Learning to use the moments of pain and brokenness as stepping stones to completeness. I am learning to trust the process of the Lord’s working in me as I navigate my personal trials and the tragedies that happen as a result of faulty human decisions. We are all imperfect, yet we have control over the decisions we make. We will make decisions that hurt others, but it’s what we do upon the realization of causing that pain that will define who we are. The tragedies we face define us, through our response to those tragedies.

Peter said it this way: “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials [tragedies] , so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:7, NASB) Everything we do is to be done unto the glory of the Lord. Everything. To bring glory to Him. Every decision we make should be based on the foundation of bringing glory to Him. In our everyday work, relationships and lives, we should seek to bring glory to Him. When we walk through the valley, He is with us, in every decision, He is there. In every tragedy, even when we don’t feel Him, He is there, holding out a hand to help be the defining power in our lives.


09 April 2014

Hello from Hiatus!

Happy Wednesday!  Here’s what been up since I’ve been on hiatus…an unplanned and unexpected hiatus (thank you BART, faulty internet and lack of sleep + rainy last week). Doesn’t rain just make you want to snuggle up in front of the fire with a mug of something warm and toasty? Of course Spring is inconsistent so we've had high 70's weather this week to swap out last week's rain. Isn't that a fine pickle! 

I’m really into free stuff and NoiseTrade has been one of my favorite sources of new music in the last couple years. It’s been great seeing several artists transfer from their relatively unknown status to mainstream culture, such as Jason Poe (Looking for You is still his best as far as I’m concerned). Anyway, Noise Trade cameout with books and excerpts in the last couple weeks and they have some awesome books on there! The client I was working at this week was in the city and I took BART in every day so I had about 30 minutes of “reading time” and made the most of it. I reached my limit of downloads several days in a row…so worth it! You have to check it out!

Top three favorites from the new NoiseTrade book site:
Moment Maker (Excerpt, can’t wait for the whole book!)
Passion & Purpose (Another excerpt that is just totally awesome)

Coffitivity. Did I blog about this before? Can’t remember, but I really really realllllly love Coffitivity when I’m in the office (which is rare, I’m normally out at a client) and there’s all sorts of chatter going around. Check it out, it gives that great feeling of being in a coffee house without the actual distractions (ahem, people watching).

Thrift Store Shopping. I haven’t done much of this as of late, but I went the other night and found some great stuff for work. I loathe spending on full-price items for work when you can find great stuff at thrift stores. I work at a “conservative” firm meaning they don’t really want us to dress all Madewell, J.Crew, gorgeous colors and patterns. Le sigh. But that’s okay, I’m finding some inspiration, even within the limited colors and styles offered. Or I’m working on it anyway (ever look in your closet and realize you have nothing to wear legitimately? That’s where I’m at in this moment). Just FYI, for us business gals, thrift or consignment shops can be a great way to find deals on gently worn items from Ann Taylor, the LOFT, Banana Republic and J.Crew (seriously, I refuse to pay full-price for button-up shirts that I could potentially spill or rip at a client’s office. I work at labor unions, not exactly high-rise status.)  It seems like most people buy full-price and get rid of it the next season, therefore I have zero problems wearing used clothing if it doesn’t look like it! (This Refinery29 article pretty much covers my feelings on clothing right now.) How about you? Anyone have suggestions on conservative appropriate business wear? 

Trench Coat Addiction. I really love coats. And jackets. And sweaters. Especially because it seems like every client enjoys subzero temperatures in the office. What is up with that? We’ve also had an inordinate amount of rain for this time of year (Hallelujah, we need it!) which is putting a damper on normal spring wear. I have a black trench that is a bit wintery but I love, and a cotton trench that is definitely not waterproof. Currently trying to find a basic trench coat in a good price range. This article ran through my inbox and made me very happy!!

Puppy Love. I never posted about this little gal but I’ll have to share the photos from the day we brought her home. What a doll! Petra, you are a goofball but we love you.

Anyway, hope your week is bright and shiny and filled with lots of inspiration!


27 March 2014

Listen Learn Love

LISTEN: Random 
Brothers McClurg Just Say
Kristy Starling Something More (I need to praise you)
Building 429 This is Not My Home
U2 Invisible
Martina McBride Anyway
Scattertones Let It Be
Josh Vietti Empire State of Mind
John Legend All My Love
Kari Jobe You Are Good {I can't stop listening to this song!}

Learn: Purpose
I’ve been thinking about Purpose in connection to work especially in the way that the amount of work we do in order to live (i.e. pay for our home, clothing, food and cars) can take up our time for our true callings and purpose. Do you get paid to do a job everyday that you feel is part of your purpose? Mine is currently stepping into my purpose and it’s totally challenging and draining, but in a fantastic way. But, I know that I have a greater purpose than simply number crunching as well. How does that fit in? How do I make time and room for it in my schedule? Do I write in on my to-do list? Does that make it just one more item to check off? Should I schedule it in my planner?
One of the ways I’m making this work is by documenting what I’m taking in and absorbing in my moments off of work. What am I reading? What am I listening to? What am I doing with the spare moments? Are they edifying? Are they lifting others up? Am I continuing to learn? I know my blog has taken a hit with this new job and I want to make time to share my heart and passion still here, but that’s one of the bigger changes as well. The things that I choose to look at and read throughout the day color my world and I think you’ll that reflection on the blog as well. (I know, I’ve made multiple changes on this poor blog over its lifetime, sometime we’ll get settled. Maybe.) I’m remembering my why and working on the how.

LOVING: My family
Even more than ever, being a different kind of busy has made me appreciate the down-time and support of my Mama and my Sister. I live with them but I don’t get to spend a whole lot of time with them and they’ve been awesome. Especially the first month of this job when I literally came home, showered, said goodnight and flopped into bed. Now it’s better. Now we get to talk, and I get to hear about them too! There are other people in my life who I consider family that I only really see on the weekends but they are definitely a shot in the arm when I get to see them. Being around people you don’t really know makes you appreciate those you do. Oh. And I’m loving learning more about the people I work with and hearing their stories. Everyone has a story! 

What have you been listening, learning and loving? Any new artists you've discovered? 

26 March 2014

A Fierce & Awesome Pursuit

 “God gives specific callings to specific people.
That means God wants ME for my particular calling and life.
And we can’t escape God and His storm gale of purpose.” -#shereadstruth

I’ve been receiving She Reads Truth emails for awhile, basically since the plans stopped showing up in YouVersion Bible app. (I think they’re remedying that soon.) I love getting the emails because it reminds me daily to read them and to study God’s word. And sometimes they hit home just like this.
The current plan is in the book of Jonah. While I’m doing another plan with a special Bible from a minister mentor and some other single ladies, I love the She Reads Truth plans because they’re just a short snippet and enough to read either in the morning or at lunch, etc. throughout the day in short chunks. And because the devotions are written by awesome women who spend time studying God’s word and sharing their revelations from those passages.
A fierce & awesome pursuit.
Back to this. God pursued Jonah even when Jonah made it clear that he did not desire nor even care about going to Ninevah. God pursued him. He pursued him onto the ship, he pursued him through the casting of lots. He pursued him to the belly of the whale and all the way into Ninevah. His was a fierce & awesome pursuit.
This pursuit brings to mind my own doubts and fears about my abilities to fulfill my calling(s). I’ve come to the realization that my doubts don’t hinder God’s work, they hinder me. See, God doesn’t need me. Surprising fact? But he really doesn’t. He made the earth without me. He created humanity without me. He controls the wind and seas and stars…and the entire world without me. He doesn’t need me, He wants me. When I start doubting myself I’m hindering the work God wants to do through me. (Remember, He doesn’t need me, He can just as easily find someone else.)

Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.” (Isaiah 43:1, ESV)
When we take it upon ourselves to doubt our purpose and position, we are not just doubting ourselves—we’re doubting God and His calling of us. Sound like a scary position? I think so. If I trust the creator of the universe to keep the world in order, don’t you think I should trust Him with my small corner of that same world? The impact that I can make, regardless of how large it seems to myself or others, is small compared to the impact of our Creator. When He calls someone, it is without remission. Without repentance. Simply put, it is without a return policy. We can’t get a refund on our calling. “Oops sorry God, it’s the wrong size for me, do you think you have something a little smaller? Maybe with less responsibility? Perhaps in a shade a bit less confrontational?” God doesn’t work that way. He created YOU with specific capabilities so that you could fulfill His calling…with effort.
So how do we apply this? We start by acknowledging our God-given callings in prayer. It may be as simple as “Lord, I know you want to do something special with me. With my skills and capabilities. I know you don’t need me per se, but I know you want me to do your work. Will you show me what that work is? Will you help me to know you more? Will you give me the strength and desire to continue to learn so that I can live in a standard of excellence worthy of my calling?” Let the words come from your heart, because He will hear them. He’s not a Grammar Teacher, He’s  a Grace Leader.

Lastly, remember. Whatever you’re going through, it’s part of His fierce and awesome pursuit.
Isle of View,

25 March 2014

Getting through Cold Season

Hello everyone! For me, it's that time of year: ugh. I usually make it okay through the really cold months but then it hits me right at the beginning of spring: everything is getting gorgeous outside and I have this yucky cough/sore throat/nasty feeling that just won't go away! Even worse, I'm a singer and I have the hardest time telling people "sorry, I can't sing, I'm sick." I blew out my voice on Sunday night at church by singing so this week I'm simply croaking by (sorry people who keep giving me weird looks, it's part of life). I've compiled a list of things that actually work for me and things I picked up from vocal coaches and teachers when I was getting my music degree They work whether or not you're a singer because hey, we all talk right?
(this stuff is my absolute life saver)

  • Drink lots of fluid: alot of times we forget to drink the water we were drinking in summer, but we need it in winter more than ever because it’s easy to allow our throats and vocal cords to dry out, making it painful or damaging to sing/talk.
  • Avoid ice or hot fluids because the extreme temperatures can be damaging to your vocal cords
  • Get plenty of rest (this can be a bit of a joke!) the more rested you are, the more rested your vocal cords are (they are a muscle like the rest of your body)
  • Never clear your throat or cough in order to continue singing/talking: DRINK WATER
  • If you feel like you’re getting sick, I advise taking MucinexDM (as advised by all of my voice teachers) because it helps to keep all the phlegm and extra mucus (I know that’s gross, hello reality!) together so you can cough it up one time rather than stripping your throat all day long trying to cough
  • Avoid Lemon or Citrus, Caffeine, Peppermint, Menthol, Dairy & Sugar  (Energy Drinks are a big one too!) before you sing: it strips your throat/vcords of their elasticity and moisture
  • If your voice is hurting, don’t sing (or talk, really)! God gave you one voice, and quite frankly, if you blow it out you’re of no use to Him or anyone else. He doesn’t expect us to give what we don’t have!:) . If you are sick and you sing, you will only get sicker (take it from someone who knows!). (This is scientifically true, when we talk or sing through the pain we are actually opening up our muscles and throats more than we should be and it's easier for bacteria to attack a weak spot than a strong one.)
  • Chloriseptic or any medicine that numbs your throat masks the pain, which is masking the symptom of being sick. Why is this bad? If you can’t feel that your throat hurts, you’ll forget and possibly push too hard and lose some of your range or depth that you can’t get back.
A few weird remedies that can help:
  • Throat Coat Herbal tea (or anything with Licorice Root, Slippery Elm or Echinacea)
  • Breathe Again Herbal tea
  • Vocal Sprays without Alcohol (drying agent) or Menthol
  • Salt & Vinegar Potato Chips (if your mouth is dry)
  • Not speaking when your voice is tired (if your leg hurts, we usually give it a rest, why don’t we do the same for our voices?)
  • Minimal screaming, whispering or coughing (this is horrible for your voice)
So ladies and gents. What works best for you when you're sick? I'm open to suggestions! 

24 March 2014

Transition Time: My 9 to 5

Remember the graduations I've posted about? I finally got a job that fits with my accounting degree. As of February 3rd, I am a certified auditor. The one class I never thought I would actually use. It's actually quite laughable really! Isn't it funny how we end up places we never saw ourselves before?

This job itself was quite a miracle. Less than a week after learning about the job I had signed the papers for the background check! It's awesome how God knows just when we need things and how He always works them out for our good!

It's a learning curve. I never even realized how much of a learning curve it would be. The first week, training, was alot of information but relatively a piece of cake. Week 2 was difficult. Very difficult. The fellow who hired on with me mentioned that he thought the week would never end. Not just the commute but the work itself. In accounting, auditing or other related finance fields you learn by doing. Your degree counts, yes, but it's the fact that you cared enough to actually get the degree that counts more, as well as your ability to process the information (aka GPA). The real world of auditing, etc. is light years different than what you learned in school...in some ways less detailed, in all ways more complicated and involved (I realize those adjectives contradict each other, you have to be there to understand, not sure I can put it into words). The Type A in me loves the organization and all the detail involved. The reaction when people ask what you do and you say "I'm an auditor" is completely hilarious. They don't know whether to say "I'm sorry" or "good for you." The look on peoples faces has ranged from mildly horrified to downright bored, but that's okay, as long as I like my job, they don't have to!

But back to business. This is my first 9-5 40+hour work week job. I've worked 40+hour work week jobs before but in a volunteer capacity. This is completely different. Who knew sitting for eight or ten hours straight could make your body ache in ways exercising all day can't? Amazing. So. In light of that, my March goals have changed significantly from what I sighted them being in the onset of this year. My March goals connected to work are below.

1. Be Well: If you follow me on Instagram (@isleofview) you might have seen my post about this random surfer dude who asked if my mom, sister and I wanted a picture in front of this random wall. His parting comment was "be well." I loved it. But it applies here. The sedentary lifestyle of an auditor is really not healthy on the body. So under this heading.
More rest (go to bed earlier) ~ Eat Healthy (greens, fruit and grains) ~ Exercise (walk whenever possible)

2. Prioritize: Literally every night in February I came home from work, took a shower and went straight to bed. Like I said, I'm not used to sitting that long and rather than be energized to do something I was so de-motivated from inaction that I didn't want to do anything when I got home! I need to work on prioritizing my time so that I have a plan when I come home. Sooo, my Simplified Day planner, we are getting you all filled up!

3. Plan: To be totally honest I love planning. I get this wild thrill out of seeing things come alive on paper and then watching them happen three weeks later (yeah, Type A for sure). Buuut, I've gotten a bit lackadaisical in my flexible time in the last few months about planning. If it happens, great, if it doesn't? Ehh, oh well. I have to change this. I work six days a week for the next month and if I want to enjoy springtime and my family I have to prioritize that time in!

I think I've posted about it before but I believe in the rule of threes: I can do three things well at once. In this case, work is obviously one of those. Second is family. Third is what I'll lump in as "life." That includes eating, photography, music, exercise, sleep, and other things none of those in order of importance. But I  realized something in reading a friends post recently: I typically prioritize those things by way of asking myself three questions.
What is most important? 
What is most timely? 
What is most life-changing?

So in planning, these are the questions I want to ask myself. Obviously work doesn't really fit in any of those categories, but it's work. So it's one of the three. The other two, family and life, can be framed by those three questions. Right? I'm realizing what it means to be a proactive planner! My main goal is not to let the rest of my life get swept away in the starting of a new job. As a friend told me when I was lamenting my loss of life "We work to live, we don't live to work." It's all in perspective right?

How about you? There's alot of "I" in this post, my apologies for that, but being absent so long I felt like I needed to give a bit of an explanation and wanted to get some of my thoughts out there too. How have you handled the transitions that life throws at you? Do you have a process that works? I'm all ears!

xo // iov

17 February 2014

Who do you Weep for?

As a pastor's daughter I know first-hand the horrific things people do to each other-both in the church and out of it. Christians are humans, that doesn't excuse bad behavior, but it reminds me that I am not better, I am not whole and I am not any more put together than anyone else. I am not saved until I make it to heaven (Wow, even writing that and clicking publish is scary).

Why am I saying all of this? I read an article last week that brought me back to my knees. Weeping with Gangs describes Pastor Paco Amador's journey as a Pastor in Little Village, Chicago, Ill, the largest Mexican community in the Midwest. He describes his foray into reaching the gangs and how God has led Him. Here are the words that moved me:

"There are many who weep in my city, but that day I realized that we pastors have been given the special privilege to weep for our cities. We weep on heaven's behalf. We share in Jesus' ministry of tears. Called to become fools for the sake of the King, we mourn with those who mourn." 

All of those statements are true--I know--I've lived it. But the pastor's family weeps also. The leaders weep also. As Christians, we are called to minister wherever we are, even if you don't consider yourself a preacher.

Who do YOU weep for?

What moves your heart to the point of weeping? Uncontrollable tears that just won't stop.

I found myself weeping in January for my personal situation, it seemed so bleak and hopeless. But when I looked at all I had to be grateful for, I felt guilty for weeping on my behalf. We speak of authenticity and transparency and yet we often try to talk about the tears that are "popular" within those topics. Is that true authenticity? To weep about anxiety or fears? When something really moves you what is your reaction? Does it have to be popular to stir your soul?

"Jesus wept." (John 11:35)

Jesus wept for Lazarus' death, yet He also wept for Martha's unbelief. He wept. In our calling as Christians we too often brush the surface of things without fully engaging in our souls or feelings on the matter. So, I leave you with this.

What do you allow yourself to feel so deeply that the tears flow freely down your face? What do you do with those tears? Who are they for?

Who do you weep for?


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