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?

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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?

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?

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

When in a Season of Almost

Have you ever gone through a season of “almosts”? Those times when when you’re praying for guidance, you’re seeking the Lord and feel at peace with moving forward in one direction, things are lining up and then……nothing. The job promotion, the college application, the book idea, the adoption, the fundraiser, the relationship, the whatever-it-is (you can fill in the blank) goes no where. It can be something huge or it can be something small, but it doesn’t change the fact that at first, it’s deflating.

I don’t question God’s faithfulness or goodness in these times, because I know He is good (He’s done more than I’ll ever deserve already!). But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that these times can be trying and frustrating. I wonder why did everything have to line up so “perfectly” (meaning my heart gets involved) to only have things not pan out? Was it once again about “the journey”? And trust me, that is asked grudgingly. What if I just want to have the end result and be done with it? Have you ever experienced that?

This was from one of my runs and it’s amazing how rays of sunshine can be so encouraging! Also, can we take a moment to check out the beginning of that hill I have to defeat with every training run?

So I’ve been asking myself, what’s the point?

Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:14

The easy answer is this proves there’s plenty of room for growth when it comes to my spiritual life ;). I so quickly want to see the end result, that I want to skip right over the middle. Yet, as much as I can sometimes complain about the journey – I’ve been reminded recently of how important that journey is. Yes, there are lessons to be learned, but more importantly, for myself, it’s in times like these (deflated, frustrated, etc) where I have to seek the Lord more than I would have if it all panned out like I thought it was going to.

And that is what’s important.

I believe God is continuing to refine me (and that will be a life long process for sure!). Sometimes those end results come quickly, sometimes they stretch years, but as stubborn and baby-of-the-family I can so often be, the Lord is showing me He isn’t done, He’s preparing me for things far beyond my expectations. And I can’t wait to see!

So while I sometimes get sassy frass in my patience, I know He is still there and won’t give up on a girl like me, who as you can see from the following photo, has always been the epitome of meek and one who listens the first time around. Typing that makes me chuckle. Bless my parents.

Circa late 80s

Have you been there? What were some encouraging scripture and advice that helped you? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Author Interviews

4 Questions with New York Times Jamie Ford | Author Interview

(This interview is part of my 4 Questions Project, where I get the chance to chat with authors and tell stories of people, life, and adventure. Be sure to check out previous interviews here!)

Well. Where to start? Let’s see…I’M REALLY EXCITED that Jamie Ford is here for 4 Questions! He’s writes wonderful stories and has some incredible advice to pass along. Just check out this interview. Plus we have the same name. Need I say more?

Jamie Ford is an American author, who has written two best selling books. Ford is best known for his debut novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. The book received positive reviews after its release, and was also awarded best “Adult Fiction” book at the 2010 Asian/Pacific American Awards for Literature. The book was also named the #1 Book Club Pick for Fall 2009/Winter 2010 by the American Booksellers Association.

1. What is something about your life right now that you would never imagined 5 years ago?
I never would have imagined that my first book, HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET would be read in schools. I’ve grown up and become homework, which is weirdly awesome! I also get tons of emails now from students (because there’s no SparkNotes for HOTEL) and they say things like, “Um, Mr. Ford…I really love your books, Motel on the Corner of Sweet and Sour. And if you could answer these twelve questions for me, I’d really appreciate it.”

2. What is one thing that you would go back and do differently if you could?
I would have asked my grandparents more questions before they died. If you’re grandparents are still around, stop reading this, step away from the computer, take them to lunch, and ASK EVERY CRAZY, PERSONAL QUESTION YOU CAN THINK OF.

3. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?
The month I spent volunteering with my family in Pommern, a bush village in Tanzania. I worked in the AIDS clinic, my wife delivered twins, and my kids worked in the school. No electricity. No running water. But free-flowing kindness everywhere.

Plus, when you put a face on poverty, it changes you forever. I can’t wait to go back.

4. What is one thing you want the next generation to know?
That before reality TV, there was this thing called reality. It’s still out there, waiting.

Thank you again so much Jamie! It was a pleasure having you on the blog!

I can’t say enough how much I agree with his advice about grandparents. I wish mine were still here, but I treasure the chats I do remember! If you’d like to connect with Jamie, here’s where you can find him on the web.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Author Interviews

4 Questions with Bestselling Author Steven James

(This interview is part of my 4 Questions Project, where I get the chance to chat with authors and tell stories of people, life, and adventure. Be sure to check out previous interviews here!)

Today I get to introduce y’all to the excellent and fabulous writer, Steven James! Not only do his books win awards, he’s a bestselling author. He writes books that hook you and have you reading as fast as you possibly can, because YOU HAVE TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS. It’s not just me either! The King was the 2014 INSPY winner for Mystery/Thriller (be sure to check out the giveaway at the end). Anyway, I’m super excited he’s on the site and enjoy!

Steven James is the author of more than thirty books, including the critically acclaimed Bowers Files, an eight-book series of psychological thrillers which currently includes The Pawn, The Rook, The Knight, The Bishop,The Queen, and a prequel Opening Moves. The series has received three Christy Awards and numerous other honors.

4 Questions

1. What is something about your life right now that you would never imagined 5 years ago?
You’d think I would have anticipated the day when I had two girls in college, but thinking ahead has never been my strong suit. Career-wise, I never would’ve thought I’d have branched out into writing two other series besides my Patrick Bowers novels. It’s an amazing life, this writing gig, but my brain sometimes needs a vacation.

2. What is one thing that you would go back and do differently if you could?
Hmm . . . That’s an interesting question. I don’t like to look over my shoulder and get mired in regrets—since there’s often not a whole lot we can really do about them. However, I’d say that when I was high school I had an interest in creative writing but never had a teacher who encouraged me to pursue it—perhaps the opposite. I never felt free to really express myself. Not to blame them—it was my own insecurities that bogged me down, but I’d say I would go back and write, regardless of what other people thought about that, and give my imagination the free rein it wanted so badly.

3. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?
Honestly, the time I felt the most joy was the day I became a Christian back when I was in college. There have been lots of other amazing moments—stargazing while backpacking in the Wind River Range of Wyoming, seeing the look in my wife’s eyes when I proposed to her, being present when my daughters were born, and, yes, receiving the first printed copy of my first novel in the mail—but I believe people are spiritual beings and the day I realized that God had truly saved me from my own boneheaded choices and selfish motives was the best day of my life.

4. What is one thing you want the next generation to know?
Live with both eyes open. Don’t ignore the suffering on our planet and close yourself off from the joy. It sounds a little self-evident to say it, but time is life and life is time. What you spend one on, you end up spending the other on. If you waste one, you’re wasting the other. So embrace the moments you have. Relish them. Life is fleeting. Hope is a gift and eternity is only a heartbeat away.

Be sure to connect with Steven James around the web!
Website | Facebook | Twitter

Thank you again so much Steven! I hope you guys enjoyed this as much as I did :).

Author Interviews

4 Questions With Grammy & CMA Nominated Dave Barnes

(This interview is part of my 4 Questions Project, where I get the chance to chat with authors and tell stories of people, life, and adventure. Be sure to check out previous interviews here!)

Internet, this has been such a fantastic week of blogging. I mean, the discussions and interviews I’ve had with y’all have made my little heart of nerdy smile! So what could possibly seal the deal for an awesome week? Oh, how about one of my favorite artists on the blog????? I’m pretty sure my friends want to delete my phone from all the blog related really excited texts I’ve sent them this week. But do you blame me?! I’m not embarrassed by this.

Yes friends, Dave Barnes has yet again shown his awesomeness by joining the 4 Questions blog. His music is absolutely fantastic and his songwriting is just as awesome (people like Blake Shelton sing his songs, so I’m not riding solo in this opinion). Oh and he is hilarious. Like you’ll actually laugh out loud, not just LOL. Take a glimmer at his Instagram feed and you’ll find proof. Or this inspiring workout video.

Plus he likes to save the world. He’s one of the artists who promotes Mocha Club (they work in Africa doing all sorts of awesome things and you should join my team) and shares about them at each of his concerts.

While his choice in English futbol might be a little sketch ;), he does have the twitter bio ever: Rocker. Roller. Laugher. Writer. Intramural Softball Champion. Ex TCBY Employee.

Enjoy 4 Questions with Dave Barnes!

1. What is something about your life right now that you would never imagined 5 years ago?
That I would have a written a song that was three weeks at number one and nominated for a Grammy and a CMA award. That, definitely.

2. What is one thing that you would go back and do differently if you could?
There aren’t many things I would change. Honestly.

3. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?
When my son Ben was born. A moment of pure joy. Amazing.

4. What is one thing you want the next generation to know?
Enjoy it all. So cheesy, but be present as it all happens. Even the bad. It’s hard to do,  but so beneficial!

Thank you so much for joining in Dave! Be sure to connect with Dave around the world wide web!

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | iTunes

Ponderings

Happy Thanksgiving World!

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People.

I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

“Let them give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for mankind, for He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.” Psalm 107:8-9

Ponderings

Why it’s Better to Admit the Nerdy Things in Life

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m kind of a nerd. And not just because I read a lot (although, increasing your knowledge isn’t nerdy people…it’s brilliant :). It’s because lots of the things I like and do are well, a bit nerdy. I admit I wasn’t always secure enough to freely admit this, but good thing you grow up and become much more wiser right?

Here’s the thing: in the age of the Internet there’s lots of people who portray a persona of someone they’re not. Trying to look “cool” for a world of strangers. It’s bad enough for our kids to fear being who they really are, but if they look to adults for guidance, they sometimes don’t see a difference. I vote no to that.

You do the world a disservice ignoring this because you’re uniquely you. No one else is. We’re wired certain ways for an amazing and incredible purpose only we can fulfill. That’s why I’ve learned to embrace exactly the way I was made.

So this month’s post is where I gladly admit things about me I know are totally nerdy/quirky/only I do, but still me!

1. I memorized the Gettysburg Address for chuckles because it’s one of my favorite American speeches. It’s so beautiful and profound (if you ask me to recite it in person, I might get stage fright and mess it up though). I also have it hanging on my wall.

2. I may have watched Denzel Washington’s Academy Award acceptance speeches on Youtube recently. And teared up.

3. I only eat Vanilla ice cream. It’s not that I don’t like the other ones. I just don’t mess with the best. Hate away ;).

4. I watch Disney classic cartoons on a regular basis. And still cry. I mean have you seen the part when Mufasa dies?? Good golly, I’m a bawlin mess every time.

5. I have ordered the same exact thing at Del Taco my entire life. I kinda wish I was joking, but alas, I am not. It’s the original #3: Bean and cheese burrito with red sauce, fries and a root beer. If I feel like “mixing” things up, I’ll get a Cherry Coke.

6. I buy costumes for my cat. This past Halloween he was a dinosaur. As you can tell from this picture, he was thrilled.

7. Speaking of my cat, I considered creating his own Instagram account. This still might happen people.

8. If someone offered a class to learn elvish, I’d be all over that in 2.8 seconds flat.

9. I recently needed to write a bio for myself and this is what happened: “She wishes she could go to Hogwarts, live in Narnia and hopes one day Gandalf will show up at her door and invite her on an adventure. She also could never part with Dracula by Bram Stoker, The Giver by Lois Lowry or Mark of the Lion trilogy by Francine Rivers.” P.S. If you’re wondering what it’s for, check out this awesome new board I’m on here!

Well Internet, there’s a few to kick things off. Hope you enjoyed them! Now, it’s your turn! Please join in and share what makes you – you! I’d love to hear it!