Family Life, Love and Faith

Aslan is on The Move….And I’m Half Terrified/Excited/Can’t Wait!

“When the time is right, I, the Lord, will make it happen.” Isaiah 60:2

I quoted this verse in a post I wrote recently about being a hot mess. I talked about trying to figure out if I was doing life right. Questions like “Am I pursuing what I should be or do I need to let go of that dream?” You know, simple questions.

(Side note, I do believe there are dreams we have that are never meant to be realized and instead its the journey we needed. Like, I was supposed to marry Keanu Reeves. But y’all, I finally let that one go because I accepted this would never come to pass. But don’t worry I can quote Speed like a boss. #TheJourney).

That weekend I also decided to apply to more publishing jobs (true story, about every quarter for the past couple years I would do this. We’re talking ALL THE JOBS in ALL THE CITIES, except really cold states because no) with the thought process of “well, let’s just keep trying.”

You can imagine my excitement when I had a phone interview that very next week and then an in person interview the following week and then a job offer. Y’all WHAT? Was this my life?

And y’all, it was and now is. I am moving from the great state of Texas to the insanely gorgeous state of Colorado to take a position with Waterbrook and Multnomah Publishing.

Internet.

My job will now involve books. All the time!

Yes, I am soooooooo excited, but totally terrified too.

Moving from Texas is different than when I moved from California in so many ways. Leaving California was hard, but I knew I’d always visit. In the 8 years I’ve been in Texas, I’ve created my Texas family. When I think about leaving them, I start crying. #RealTalk. I don’t know when I’ll be able to visit, when they’ll be able to visit (although COLORADO MOUNTAINS FOR THE WIN!), so it’s different leaving. (Plus the food internet. THE FOOD).

Going on an adventure is exciting, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Does that stop me or shut down my excitement? Not at all, because I have seen God’s hand in so many ways through this whole process, He really is just showing off at this point. I LOVE IT.

Being brave and courageous isn’t the absence of fear, but as many have said, it’s the willingness to fight that fear head on. It wouldn’t be courageous if there wasn’t something a bit scary about it.

And so begins the new adventure and new chapter in my life!! #PrayForMeDuringWinter

I can’t wait to share more, the pictures and the all around awesomeness as I explore my new city. Aslan is definitely on the move y’all!

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Family Life, Love and Faith

The Love That Came Down at Christmas

I never want to lose the wonder and awe that is Christmas. I love everything about this season: the family times, the memories with friends, the laughs, Christmas morning…

And yet, there is even more to celebrate no? To simply say “It’s all about love,” seems too easy and too simple. But isn’t that the beauty of Christmas? It isn’t about us and we don’t have to figure it all out. It’s about love and that’s the greatest news ever.

I love these lyrics from Jars of Clay’s “Love Came Down at Christmas”

Love came down at Christmas
Love, a lovely love divine
Love was born at Christmas
Stars and angels gave the sign

This is so encouraging for some many reasons! It’s not up to me. What a relief. I was recently listening to a sermon by Louie Giglio about the friends who dropped their paralyzed friend through the roof to literally land at the feet of Jesus. That was their job, just like ours. Our job is to point people to Jesus. Let Jesus do the rest. We don’t change hearts. We don’t save anyone. We point them to Jesus, talk about how He’s changed our lives, about His never ending love.

Love.

Love. So simple, yet so divine. We don’t need to worry about changing people’s minds, arguing them to faith (does that ever really work?), giving them a list of don’ts. Heart changing – that’s Jesus’ job.

That’s what I’ve been reminded of this Advent season. That Christmas is about Jesus and celebrating the power of His amazing love and how much we can change the world when we follow in His footsteps and love one another.

I’ll close with this piece of my favorite Christmas song (O Holy Night)

Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is Love and His gospel is Peace;
Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother,
And in his name all oppression shall cease,
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful Chorus raise we;
Let all within us praise his Holy name!

Merry Christmas friends!

Family Life

7 Years Living in Texas Y’all!

I don’t even know how it’s possible I’ve lived in Texas for SEVEN years. What in the what internet.

Whaaaaaaa?

People often ask how I ended up in Texas and the quick version is this: One of my closest friends, Mariko, and I both started thinking about doing something different at the same time. You should know up until that point I was “Cali till I die” and the very thought of moving was unfathomable. We started praying about it, visited and prayed some more.

The time between the initial thought of moving till we actually decided to move was about two years. Then the Lord made it clear that was where He wanted us, so we packed up with only an apartment and church home waiting for us with the thought “hey, if things are terrible, we’ll move back!”

Things weren’t terrible and I’m still here! So in honor of 7 years next week, here’s 7 of my favorite things about Austin.

1. FOOD.
Here’s what y’all need to know. Once you try the foods of Austin, you’re ruined for life and nothing else shall compare. I don’t even know where to start with the best place to eat. Mmmm…I think I need some BBQ after I finish this article.

2. Breakfast tacos.
I know I just mentioned food, but since these make any morning a good one, they get their own shout out.

3. I still love California and I’ll always be a Cali girl.
Born and raised internets. #Cali4Life (Granted this isn’t about Austin, but I just needed the internet to know).

4. Life lessons.
I can say without a doubt there are some things I would have only learned by living in Texas. I never expected to change as much as I did. But I’m so thankful I moved here and all that I’ve learned (good and bad).

5. Y’all.
I say it. I do. Recently someone asked me if I grew up in the South because I had an accent. I nearly passed out and begged California for forgiveness ; ). It’s true though, some things creep in without you even realizing it.

6. Austin Stone Community Church.
Where do I even start? This church has shaped me in more ways than any other church before (I loved my previous home churches too!). The teaching is powerful, the worship brings you closer to Jesus and the heart they have for the city of Austin and nations makes my heart full. This would be one of the hardest things to leave if I did move. If, for some reason, that does happen, I’m thankful for podcasts.

7. The amazing people.
Save the best for last right? There really is something to be said about southern hospitality. The friends I have here are friends for life. I call them my Texas family because that’s what they are – family.

What are some things you love about where you live?

Family Life

For Those We Call Brother and Sister

With Thanksgiving in a few short days and Christmas only a few shorts weeks after that, I want to stop, collaborate and listen. Just kidding, I save that for the dance floor.

Back to my post :). This time of year, I find myself thinking often of my family. It’s such a huge part of of the holiday season and one I am so incredibly thankful for, like my brother and sister. From 87 million inside jokes to staying close, life would be incredibly dull without them, so I figured, why not share about them?

And I’m much better with written words than in person, so here we go.

If I ever write a book, these two will definitely be in the dedication. They were forced to love me early on ;), but thankfully have chosen to as well.

Hello 80s and little puppies!

I love that we are each so different. Trust me, we are. Take my brother and I. We might look like twins, but outside of looks we are opposites. Example 1: In a crowd of new people, if I’m by myself, my stress level sky rockets. Hello introvert (unless Tolkien, C.S. Lewis or The Walking Dead comes up, then I’m your bff). My brother? He can talk to anyone, anywhere and become instant friends. I’m pretty sure when we were in Europe, he became friends with the entire nation of France. I actually stress out for him when it comes to meeting people.

Then there’s my sister. I think she’s the Jane and I’m Lizzie. She looks for the best in everyone and is sweet, compassionate and giving. It’s fun to see the traits her little girls have from her as well. She also works in accounting to which I say: No ma’am.

I think it’s these differences that make our sibling-ship (new made up word for the day!) work so well. Where one is weak, the other two step up. By no means do we have it together, TRUST ME, but I know we’re always striving to support and encourage one another.

“I know that in my weakness I am stronger
It’s your love that brings me home.” NEEDTOBREATHE

We are all very close, but that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been or will be hard times and trying times. Whether having to watch one of them struggle while doing my best to encourage and support (wishing I could take on the pain or hurt) or praying as they make a major life decision that changes our dynamics (like when I moved a mere 1,300 miles away). But through those times, we’ve come out stronger and I’m so grateful and thankful (words are never enough) that our foundation rests in Christ. I truly 100% believe that is why our bond has deepened so much over the past decade and a half.

As you can see, we’re also known for our incredible hair and clothing choices.

I’m not saying it’s all peaches and cream in the world of families. We’ve all seen this (whether in our own families or in people we know). People make hurtful decisions, people hold grudges, people are stubborn and prideful. People sometimes don’t even realize they caused pain. But y’all, I just want to say this: choose forgiveness. Choose mercy. Choose grace. Choose love. There is so much freedom in that. Does that mean everything will be mended and healed instantly and everyone will move on in life skipping while holding hands? No, but don’t let that deter you. There’s something beautiful that awaits!

We like weddings.
These two….(plus my adorable niece)

And what do you know, a favorite song from NEEDTOBREATHE fits perfectly for this post (I know I’ve used it before, but I can’t help it if it’s the perfect song). ‘Brother’ is a song I can listen to anytime, but I love it especially thinking about my brother and sister. Because I know I can depend on these two. I know if I needed to call them at 3:00 a.m., they would answer. I know that when I tell them I’m moving across the country, even if it’s hard, they’ll cheer me on. I know they’ll share truth with me and pray for me. I know they’ll always love me.

And you know what? I’ll do the exact same for them.

“Brother let me be your shelter
I’ll never leave you all alone
I can be the one you call
When you’re low
Brother let me be your fortress
When the night winds are driving on
Be the one to light the way
Bring you home.”

I’d love to hear from you as well! What are some relationships you’re thankful for this holiday season?

I’ll close out with one more:

I’m pretty sure we almost knocked down the entire tapestry behind us trying to take this photo. Our bad!
Family Life, Travel Adventures

A Japanese Legacy

One of the favorite parts of my trip to Japan this past summer, was when we went to hang out with Mariko’s grandparents.

We hopped on the train and headed over to their house (which they’ve lived in forever) and spent such a relaxing and wonderful afternoon. Do I speak Japanese? Nope. (Unless you count “I eat rice in my house,” then yes, I’m fluent). Do Mariko’s wonderful Grandparents speak English? Nope. But were we able to have an amazing time? Why, yes we were! With Mariko translating, it worked out perfect.

There was one time during lunch when the chopsticks weren’t being my friend, so I attempted to be stealth and just grab the cucumber with my fingers. I figured that was better than trying to stab it with the chopstick. Totally thought no one was paying attention to me, but nope…totally busted. How’s that for immersing myself in the Japanese culture? But they simply laughed.

But more than that, I’m so thankful and blessed to have had the opportunity to learn from them, be encouraged by them and simply get to know more of their story. A legacy is the only thing you’ll leave behind and I promise you, the one they have started has already made an incredible impact on the world!

My hope and prayer is that this glimpse into the lives of Shizuko and Saichi Ohashi inspires and encourages you as much as it did me.

As a teenager during World War II, Shizuko still can recall the constant bombings on her city and watching the B-29 Superfortresses fly over their city. It’s hard for me to even imagine what that would have been like. To have a never ending fear of a bomb falling from the sky. To not know when it would end. What if my country, instead of unleashing the power of the A-bomb, was victim to it? How would my heart have handled losing such a war? I believe she said it best: That while losing was a blow to Japan, simple put, war is never a good thing.

Yet, even while having lived through that history, joy abounds from each of them.

But our time there wasn’t all sadness and dark times from decades past. Most of the time we spent chatting about family, our adventures and faith. Both came from Buddhist backgrounds, but after their two daughters became Christians, they started going when they were in their fifties. At first they started going because Christianity wasn’t about money (as their experience with Buddhism had been). That led to discussions with several pastors and finally one led them both to Jesus.

Two quotes that stuck with me? “Believing in Jesus and being a Christian is joy” and “We have Jesus to protect us.” Said with such conviction and decades of life experiences behind them, it was such a great reminder of Truth.

What a joy and privilege it is for me to be able to share some of their wisdom, story and to spend time with them, even if only for one summer afternoon.

To end, I’ll close with a very special 4 Questions with Shizuko (some the same, some a bit different!)

1. What is one thing that you would go back and do differently if you could?
When I was growing up, I didn’t have the option or choice to get an education. If I could go back, I would like to study all kinds of topics. I especially want to learn to speak English so I can communicate my grandchildren, great grandchildren and more American friends.

2. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?
As you know it is very important to have a son to carry on the family name in Japan. We didn’t have boys, but God blessed us with wonderful and God-loving son-in-laws.

3. What is one thing you want the next generation to know?
I want the next generation to know this most important thing: If they could, meet Jesus when they are young and memorize as much of God’s Word as you can.

And you know me, being the romantic that I am, tossed in a couple of extras for the interview!

4. How did you and your husband meet?
I was sewing clothes for family and friends with my free time back then. There was a country rail road employee apartment near our house and Saichi asked the apartment manager if he knew a good seamstress to sew his clothes. She recommended me to him, so he started to come over and that’s how we met!

5. What’s your advice for a lasting marriage?
Trust each other. Don’t talk back to each other, but share your opinions. Care for each other, especially when it comes to healthy living.

(Interviewed with the help of Kumiko Barnes)

We’re best friends now.

Thanks so much for reading! I never get tired of hearing people’s stories! So who has inspired you? What about your grandparents?

Family Life

Auntie’s Girls!

I’m currently going through Auntie withdrawals. I miss my girls!

My sister recently had her second precious little girl, so I made my way to Cali just as quickly as I could. It was a great few days helping my sister, hanging with the fam and of course, spending time with the two sweetest and cutest girls on planet earth!

I brought my camera (of course) and had a quick/informal shoot. Most of these my mom took (since you know, I’m in them 😉 ), but I think its safe to say that I’m the luckiest Auntie there is!

I can’t wait to see them again!