Ponderings

New Things and Old Things

Isn’t it funny how you start off the year with new goals and new ideas and then halfway through, you’re in a totally different spot. There’s many reasons for this, one being outside life circumstances, but sometimes the Lord is simply calling to you and stirring your hearts in new ways.

That’s where I’ve been (as I’m sure you noticed with the lack of posting on both blogs). Part of it has been life (the summer was really busy – I bought myself a house for my 35th birthday. Yay for mortgages!! :)), but also the Lord whispering to my heart. A change of direction.

I promise the next line isn’t “I’m moving to Europe!” (Although, um…so game!), but a shift in my online writing. I’ve had two blogs for a while, but the past several months I haven’t been sure where I was going with each one. It didn’t seem like I should have two, but I still really enjoyed writing for each one. Did I just stop altogether? I admit, that’s where I was for several weeks, but I didn’t feel peace about that either.

I know it probably seems a bit dramatic to talk about blogs this way, but I truly wanted to be faithful to whatever the Lord was asking of me. So what’s the final verdict? One blog, but a combination of the two. Will I be blogging every day? Not quite. My goal is at least once a week and will be a variety of life posts and bookish posts. I’m figuring out other details (like my Inklings), but I’m ready for a change. I’m also slowly moving over popular posts from each blog to have in the archives, so you can still find them. Plus it’s always nice to have the reminders of early blogging days – sometimes it’s cringe worthy, but worth remembering. (Although true confession, sad to lose all the comments – there were some fun discussions!)

When I first started blogging back in 2012, my time and desire fit my blogging schedule. But, as life happens with new chapters, I don’t have the time (and no longer want to) spend several hours a week on blogging (how different my weekends are with a house. Grass Internet. Grass. It likes to grow). I loved the years when I did that – it was exciting starting and pursuing something I loved. I still love it and am forever thankful it opened up doors to the career I’m in now, but I’m no longer in a place to spend my nights and most weekends working on the blog. And that’s okay. I’m excited to still be in the blogging and bookish world, but at a pace that is healthy for where I’m at now.

I’ll still have my newsletter and of course I won’t stop reading and sharing about my favorite reads on other social channels in addition to blog posts, but I’m excited about this new direction.

I’d love to stay in touch! Here’s how to find me:

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Website | Instagram | Facebook | Blog Facebook Page | Twitter | Goodreads  (just note any review prior to 2014-ish may have been during my “everyone gets 5 stars!!” stage 😉
Email: jamie @ musingsofjamie.com

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Ponderings

Some Pick a Word, I Pick a Phrase

Are y’all into the “Word for the Year” trend? I truly enjoy hearing what word people choose and why, but as for myself? My first thought is how I can’t handle the pressure of picking one word for the year and second? Having to remember it the whole year kinda stresses me out too. Totally ridiculous, I admit. But nonetheless, welcome to my brain. But apparently I’ve become all about phrases.

Last year, while it was nothing official, “Aslan is on the Move” became my phrase for 2016. In January, I kept thinking of it and remember telling my community group how I felt that “God was going to move this year, you know, Aslan is on the Move!” I had quite a different idea of how that might have turned out, but as He often does, God totally blew my expectations and dreams out of the water with the move to Colorado (among many other awesome/hard/stretching things).

I wasn’t planning on picking any words or phrases for 2017, but then one of my favorite phrases and quotes kept popping up in different ways, so I went all in.

So for 2017, here’s my phrase.

“Courage, Dear Heart”

I promise I didn’t pick another Narnia quote on purpose. Although, I’m not shocked it turned out that way.

Not only for courage in my career and my writing (I made quite a few changes in my blogging schedule, newsletter, etc), but also for the great unknown. I know God is moving (thus why “Aslan is on the move” has officially become my life motto 🙂 ), but more than knowledge, I want to have the courage to trust that with all my heart.

I want to have courage to not be overwhelmed by what’s happening around me, but bravely step out and reach out to those in need, speak out against injustice and love like Jesus does. And like Jesus often does, a few days after I decided this, I came across this verse:

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

What’s your word of the year?

Ponderings

5 Things 34 Year Old Jamie Would Tell College Jamie

First off, I need to say I totally stole this idea from Wesley. You can read her’s here, but it was so fun to read!

This past month has been all about graduations (naturally) and it’s so fun to see these kids graduate high school and college. While it’s been a few (or more – high five for Class of 2003!) since I’ve walked across a stage, I remember those years so clearly and the fun I had at college.

Oh the things I worried about and the things I thought I knew! I wonder what I’ll tell myself 10, 20 and 30 years from now? I can’t wait!

Walking up with no clue what was coming next. Whoop!

Alright, here’s five things 34 year old Jamie (well, in a month) would tell college Jamie:

1. Can we talk about what you were wearing? I kid! But trust me, you’ll have some laughs at all your fashion decisions. But every time you laugh at those pics, you’ll usually be with your friends you met during those bad fashion years and it’s always awesome. Those people you met during that first year…you’ll still be hanging out 16 years later. Plus, you’re still b/f/fs with your friend from 5th grade and you write each other all the time in college, like letters that go in the mail and require a stamp. Also, this email thing really takes off and that first email address? Totally not cool (lapdogghizzy@apu.edu? Jamie…..). But FOR REAL. The Lord really blesses you on the friendship train.

2. Even though you didn’t study abroad (you’ll have a teeny bit of regret on that), you’ll still get to travel quite a bit and it will be so much fun. You’ll travel with your friends, your family and even by yourself. But just know there’s lots of adventures to come, so don’t worry that those trips in college were it.

It’s official when you walk across that stage!

3. You won’t be married by the time you graduate. OH THE HORROR. And by that I mean, you have several years ahead of you where you’ll make mistakes, learn more about yourself and God’s goodness and trust in the journey and path the Lord has you on. It’s really fun and awesome.

4. You’ll still be a nerd. You just become more hardcore when you hit your 30s and won’t care what people think. Also, why didn’t you discover Tolkien earlier? #Rude

5. There’s this thing called social media that will blow up and you’ll daily THANK SWEET BABY JESUS it did not exist when you were in your education years. Like truly, “praise Jesus with both hands high up in the air” kind of thankfulness. I know you can’t imagine things called “blogs” and “social media,” but it will change the world. Also, it gives you a chance to write and you know you love that (remember the sports column you wrote as editor? Lap’s Low Down? See…you were a trendsetter). It might take you a few years/decade to really *get* what you want to do, but trust me 20-year-old Jamie, it will be awesome and through it all, you’ll learn so much!

I call this REALLY HAPPY JAMIE and my pretty Mama!

How about y’all? What would you tell your college age self?

Love and Faith, Ponderings

The Days of Being a Hot Mess

So true story, I’ve never had just one job. After college, I got a “big girl” job at my church (the 8-5 type) and then built up my photography business on the side. Early on, I also worked for a large photography company on the weekends.

I decided to close out on wedding photography a few years after my move to Texas and then I started book blogging while working full time. And that’s where I am today; two blogs, a Shoppe and podcast. Working a job to pay the bills (although I have to say I love my coworkers – That makes such a difference!), but also writing, blogging, entrepreneuring (having no idea what I’m doing most of the time) after hours and most weekends.

All that to say I don’t get “being bored.” I think the last time I was truly “bored” was maybe at the age of 12 during a long road trip. This was pre all-the-technology and I could never read (and still can’t) in a car because if I did for more than 3 minutes, the driver better be prepared to pull over and let me almost die.

And I’m not claiming this is a good or bad quality, but it’s mine. I don’t know how to not be working on some project or new idea. Blessing or curse, just depends on the day. I guess there’s so many things I want to try and places I want to go, so my brain doesn’t slow down. Also I am my father’s daughter. (He’s amazing. He’s retired and does so much with ministries, being Gramps and changing the world. I’m seriously so inspired everyday by him and my Mom)

And in case I haven’t mentioned I feel like I have no idea if I’m moving in the right direction and feel like I’m a hot mess most of the time. Do I love writing and blogging? 100%! I’m not going anywhere, but I’d being lying if I didn’t admit I question if I’m doing what I need to be.

I think this was brought on by this current very busy season I’m in (both work and personal), but I ask “Am I doing the right things? Is this what God truly wants me to be doing, or am I fighting for something I shouldn’t be?”

HOW WILL I KNOW IF I’M DOING THIS LIFE THING RIGHT?!

Have I mentioned being an adult does not come with the confidence I remember my parents and other “old” folks had when I was 10? Because IT DOESN’T.

I know all the Jesus answers and I believe in them with all my heart, but y’all it’s still hard. Am I chasing a dying dream? Yet, the other side of it would be to only work my “real job” and the thought of that is terrifying. I love writing, photography and everything I do around the internets. But will this be forever ever? Will I be working two jobs for all of my days? Will I one day be able to focus on what brings my heart so much joy?

“When the time is right, I, the Lord, will make it happen.” Isaiah 60:22

Recently my church did a sermon on the Sabbath and I was reminded that everything is only a season. The good, the crazy, the bad, the awesome, the mix, the in-between. Let me tell ya, I grabbed on to that drop of wisdom like nothing else. Do I 100% know if I’m doing exactly what I should be? Let’s just say “not really,” but God is faithful and provides my heart with peace when I need it most and reminds me sometimes trusting in Him doesn’t mean we get to see where He’s leading, but we can trust the Guide.

And more than that, I’m thankful that each and every season of life the Lord uses to draw me closer to Him and maybe even use my life to draw people closer to Him as well.

How do you get through the busy and uncertain seasons?

Love and Faith, Ponderings

The Thing About Miracles

I’ve seen quite a few miracles recently. Big ones too.

Adoptions finally happening.

Family relationships and rifts slowly beginning to heal for the first time in years.

And it’s been incredible. These are things I (and so many others) have been praying for over friends for years.

I tear up thinking about both not only because they are beautiful, awesome and the answers to prayers cried out for so long, but because in clear visible ways in the lives of women I love, the Lord has completely shown me that He is good. Do I believe He is good when He doesn’t answer prayers in the way I envisioned? Oh course He is, but I also don’t want to be afraid to rejoice when He chooses to answer prayers in the way our hearts longed for.

Because if I’m being honest, how often I need to be reminded that He is good. Oh, I know that truth deep down in my heart, but too often in my waiting I lose sight of that. I get restless waiting. Frustrated. Dejected even. It can get like that when you know the Lord has placed certain things on your heart, but you start doubting because the timeline is longer than expected. Or maybe you tried something and it didn’t turn out as planned. And you’re back to square one.

But as I was reading these text conversations recently, it hit me all over again. That these were big things the Lord was revealing right before me. Miracles. None of these were the timeline any of us thought, but they turned out to be perfect and have brought more glory to His name in ways that wouldn’t have been possible if it worked out early, no miracle necessary.

What an incredible God we serve! I’ll end with a few verses that have encouraged and reminded me of God and miracles.

“You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples.” Psalm 77:14

“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26

“He is the one you praise; He is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes.” Deuteronomy 10:21

I pray that if you find yourself like me, these verses and promises will revive your heart and soul.

Love and Faith, Ponderings

Rediscovering “Amen”

One of my favorite worship songs right now is Matt Maher’s “Because He Lives.” It’s such a beautiful and powerful worship song. One of my favorite parts of the chorus is this:

I’m alive, I’m alive
Because He lives

Followed by singing “Amen, Amen.”

I was singing this in the car recently and after, I started thinking about what the meaning of Amen is. I mean, I know the basic meaning, but it’s such a profound part of the song because it’s exclaiming the truths of the song, like these:

  • I believe in the risen One
  • I’m alive because He lives
  • I was dead in the grave, I was covered in sin and shame
  • I heard mercy call my name
  • I can face tomorrow
  • Every fear is gone
  • I know He holds my life
  • My future in His hands

Yes, I basically just bullet-pointed (new word!) the lyrics, but when you read them isn’t it amazing? As I started researching the meaning of Amen, not only is it a declaration of affirmation, but it also means “So be it” and “Truly.”

When I say “Amen!” I’m declaring such statements true. I’m declaring the words unshakable and unchanging. I’m saying that no matter what, this is life. This is truth.

And all for His glory.

For me, this song and research was a reminder I need to not fear living out that truth. My future is in His hand, everything is okay because He is the risen, my past is in the past and I can experience grace freely.

What a beautiful truth.

“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.” 2 Corinthians 1:20

Ponderings

9 Lessons From Abraham Lincoln (Because He’s a Fav)

I have no shame in my love of history, especially all things about the Civil War. I’m a huge fan of Lincoln (and memorized the Gettysburg Address because I love it so much and it’s what all the cool kids are doing these days). So to honor his memory, here’s a few lessons I’ve taken away from good ol’ Abe. Plus tomorrow is his 206th birthday.

1. Surround yourself with people who challenge you.
Lincoln choose men for his cabinet who opposed many of his politics and ideas. Why? He knew he would be challenged. Surround yourself with people who will challenge you in your personal life, your relationships and your work/school.

2. Sometimes short and sweet has more impact.
The Gettysburg Address, one of the greatest speeches in American history, was just over two minutes long.

3. Try things you wouldn’t normally try.
Lincoln studied math because he wanted to sharpen his reasoning skills. Exercise your mind and never stop learning.

4. Honesty always win.
Always.

5. Laugh.
Lincoln was all about a good joke. Don’t take things so seriously you forget what life is really about.

“Live a good life. In the end it is not the years in a life, but the life in the years.”

6. Live fearlessly.
Not recklessly mind you, but without fear. Fear can be a powerful thing if we let it guide us. Don’t let it stop you from trying something new. It’s not always easy, but worth it.

7. Don’t be afraid to fail.
It isn’t pleasant when we do, but some of the greatest lessons learned are from times something has failed. Learn from mistakes and failures. Pick yourself up, dust off your pants and take that step forward. Lincoln once said: “I am not concerned that you have fallen — I am concerned that you arise.”

8. To be truly great, be about something bigger than yourself.
There are lots of people who have tremendous leadership skills, but that doesn’t make them great. Led by his faith and focus on others (like, say, an entire nation), Lincoln led with greatness.

9. And finally: Do what’s right, even when it’s costly.
Lincoln was assassinated because of what he did. I don’t know how many of us will have the opportunity to free people and save a nation, but we can make an impact in our circle of influence, no matter the size. It can be in small everyday decisions or life-changing decisions. Inspiring stories never feature people who cheat, lie or turn their back on others. Doing what’s right is always worth it.

High five President Lincoln. High five.

Who is one of your favorite President and what lessons did their life teach you?

Ponderings

Life Lessons: When Success Leads to Failure

I’ve failed.

A lot.

Whether it’s personal or a professional failure like Nabisco’s recent Watermelon Oreos (WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?! WHY?), it’s safe to say we’ve all experienced failure. Maybe because it’s the new year or maybe because I’m working on new ideas or maybe it’s the weather, but I’ve been thinking about this.

Nope.

But is this bad? Is falling flat on your face such a bad thing? I’m not saying it’s easy to deal with, because let’s keep things real – it’s terrible. It’s embarrassing. It’s frustrating and it can take some of the wind out of our sails. But more and more I’ve learned life is as much defined by success as it is with failure. Maybe even more so. Not only the experience, but what we do with it.

I find myself wanting to give up after failing. I’ve had approx. 87 blogs before this one and Books and Beverages. When an article wasn’t picked up for publication, I told myself I should stop writing. When a guy broke things off, it sucked because no one openly embraces or loves rejection (although praise the Lord Jesus none of those relationships worked out. Have you had those? Yikes. Bikes right? ;). When I managed to burn a crock pot recipe (that takes skill people), I think I ate take out for a week straight. Some hurt more than others (losing a job probably hurts a bit more than burning cookies), sure, but it’s life right?

Gold is refined in fire. Many battles were lost before the Allied troops freed Europe (I blame that reference on the history podcast I’ve been listening to). My Dad asked my Mom out seven times before she said yes (when a man knows what he wants…he knows right? #perseverance 🙂 ). There’s some things we can only learn in failure.

One of my favorite quotes says it best. In 1920, President Theodore Roosevelt gave a speech in France & said these famous words:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

I’ve had this in my wallet since high school.

In The Count of Monte Cristo, Edmond Dantès shares these wise words to a young man coming of age: “Life is a storm, my young friend. You will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered on the rocks the next. What makes you a man [or woman] is what you do when that storm comes.”

When I think of my dreams, goals, things I want in my life, it’s easy for me to want to toss them out the window because it’s scary (i.e. writing this blog!), but I need these daily reminders that life is often hard work and it might not work out as planned. When you’re following where the Lord is leading, while it might not be easy, it will always be worth it.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

It’s not if you fail, for as humans we all will, but what you do when failure meets you face to face. So dare greatly, dream big and don’t let the fear of failure stop you – in whatever it is you’re pursuing!

“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” Winston S. Churchill

Have you experienced this recently? What are some lessons you’ve learned in failure?

Ponderings

14 Lessons From 2014

A few months ago, a post I wrote on an old blog, popped up on the radar. It was titled “Bye bye 20s – it was fun!” My first thought was along the lines of “what in the actual what? How was that over two years ago? That means I’ve been in my 30s for more than a minute and that sounds weird.”

Yet, it was also rather refreshing to read and inspired me to have an end of the year post along the same lines and since we’re in 2014, I’ve decided to share 14 lessons I’ve learned from this year. So here we go…

1. The Lord can move mountains. A few months ago, one of my closest friends moved to Austin and is now my roommate. Y’all, this is something I would never EVER have thought possible (of all my girlfriends, she always had the strongest opinions against Texas ;). So yes, the Lord can do the impossible.

2. When you are hoping for a red light (say to finish a text or write a reminder note), you get all green lights. The time you are late? Red. Every.single.time.

3. I still want to be a Goonie.

4. Sometimes God’s yes is scarier than His no.

5. Texans still don’t know how to drive in the rain.

6. I want to change the world in any way I can. It looks different for everyone and I don’t get why people don’t at least try.

7. There is so much brokenness in this world. Much of what’s happened recently in the US (and the world) has reminded me to urgently pray for the Gospel to reign, for reconciliation and for people’s hearts to turn to Jesus. It makes me sad that battles fought decades ago are still being fought today.

8. I don’t think there will ever come a time when I don’t need my parents. Whether to just text a picture of my cat (my Dad is always thrilled to get those 🙂 or ask about the differences between eggs (Grade AA or A? No idea) or why my truck is making a weird noise or ways to pray for me, they truly are a rock I can always lean on.

9. I recently tried something I’ve never done before and while the jury is still out, it’s encouraged me to try at least one thing that scares the living daylights out of me more often than not.

10. Writing has become such an important part of my life. Even if it’s something I don’t post, it’s therapeutic. That’s an exciting discovery.

11. I don’t know if there is a magic age when you feel like an adult, but 32 isn’t it. 🙂

12. Since I’ve become a Christian, Joshua 1:9 has been a life verse. Since my life in Texas, Romans 12:12 has been added. I’ve experienced and prayed this much in 2014.

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12

13. People can be jerks and selfish, but don’t let their actions change who you are. Learn from it, pray for them, forgive and move on.

14. This year has been an incredible year of blogging and making friendships with fellow bloggers and readers! It’s truly been a blessing. 🙂

How about you? What lessons have you learned this year?

Also, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year friends! Thanks for making this year an incredible one! I’ll be back with all new material on She Laughs with Dignity in 2015!!

Ponderings

Gollum, Japanese Photo Booths and the Battle with Beauty

Once upon a time I was compared to Gollum. Please feel free to chuckle along with me, because if those aren’t the words every woman longs to hear, then I know nothing of my fellow females.

In case you aren’t sure who Gollum is, here he is, in all his glory.

The cliff notes version goes like this: several years ago two friends (a guy and gal) and I were enjoying lunch when one of his friends joined us (it was at event that provided free lunch). In all fairness, he did start by saying “You have nice eyes” but ended it with “…like Gollum’s.” (Yep, he was 100% serious too) Any hope of that coming across in a positive light was destroyed when Smeags was thrown in. Who knows, maybe he watched Lord of the Rings the night before. We shall never know. Yes, it was hilarious, but definitely one for the books.

Fast forward about 10 years when my two good friends and I were exploring Japan. They have photo booths, so we obviously took part:

1. Can we talk about the size of my eyes (see top right). I mean good jolly, I look like a puppy (or Gollum right? ;)) We laughed for a solid amount of time. Do you blame us?
2. We barely figured out how to work the machine, so the captions on the images? No clue. Although we did get the date right. Woot!
3. It blows my mind there are photo booths out there that give you the “perfect” skin, make your eyes bigger and make you and your buddies “glow” like you’ve never experienced uneven skin.

It would be easy to toss this aside and say it’s a cultural thing, but it’s not just in Japan. Recently on Facebook an ad for an app to “fix” your face popped up. You know, so you can have the perfect selfie. I knew this would make for some interesting discussion, so I investigated further and apparently there are several options and one even featured a toddler in the before and after how-to.

Lord help us.

It seems like there’s always something thrown at us about how to look, what looks good and how we should portray ourselves. Will there ever be a day where there isn’t something to make us question if we’re good enough? I think it’s safe to say we all have dealt with this in some way or another. It comes in all different ways too. From the anonymous internet user, to a person you know, to the advertising monster taking over culture.

We all have our experiences. Some are similar, some so very different. But I can’t completely blame the outside world for the battle with beauty and of being enough. For over a decade I didn’t wear a cap because when I was 16, a guy told me I looked like a boy with a cap on. Yep, it took 11 years for me to move past that. Nothing like high school to haunt you right? Or the times after a breakup? Questioned myself for weeks. Or when a pretty woman walks into the room and, even if it’s for a brief second, inadequacy hits?

Am I the only one who has ever struggled with this?

I so often have to do a heart check and ask myself why these things creep on me. They shouldn’t bug me, but when they do, I know it’s because I’ve missed it (once again). Where do I find my value? Where to find my worth?

It’s so easy to get caught up in the wrong areas. What I do or don’t look like doesn’t really matter. Whether I have a six pack (that’s funny) or have to buy a size up in jeans. Whether I love or hate makeup. My value is found in something far greater and more perfectly beautiful than I can ever imagine.

I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:14
That right there. It’s all that matters and it’s a promise.

When you believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:13-14
What a promise!

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows. Luke 12:6-7
The Lord made me and values everything about me. That is enough.

To quote “Crooked Smile” by J. Cole: “We ain’t picture perfect, but we worth the picture still.”

And I just quoted a hip hop song after Bible verses. So there’s that.

But what a beautiful and wonderful hope: I’m God’s chosen – holy and beloved. And He will never leave nor forsake me. What more do I need?

I’d love to hear your thoughts! Has there been a scripture that has gotten you through feelings of inadequacy?