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?

Author Interviews

4 Questions with Award-Winning Katie Ganshert | 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!)

I’ve said this before on the blog, but Katie’s contemporary stories are some of my favorite in that genre. She has a way of captivating the reader and make you fall in love with reading all over again! I hope you enjoy this interview as much as me.

Award-winning author, Katie Ganshert, graduated from the University of Wisconsin in Madison with a degree in education, and worked as a fifth grade teacher for several years before staying home to write full-time. She was born and raised in the Midwest, where she lives with her family. When she’s not busy penning novels or spending time with her people, she enjoys drinking coffee with friends, reading great literature, and eating copious amounts of dark chocolate.

4 Questions

1. What is something about your life right now that you would have never imagined 5 years ago?
That I’d be a coffee lover! Seriously, five years ago, I hated coffee. I couldn’t even stand the taste of coffee-flavored ice cream, and I love ice cream. But one morning a while back, I was desperate for an extra kick. So I mixed hot chocolate with coffee, and you know what? It wasn’t the worst thing. Plus, the caffeine kick was great. Then I discovered the world of flavored coffee creamer. My morning cup used to be roughly half creamer, half coffee. Now I just use a little dash, and I drink coffee every morning.

2. What is one thing that you would go back and do differently if you could?
I wouldn’t do anything differently, because every choice I made—including every mistake and failure—made me who I am and brought me to where I am today. Since I like where I am and believe God has me here for a reason, I wouldn’t do anything differently. However, I would worry less. I’ve wasted a lot of energy worrying about things that a) never ended up happening or b) wasn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things.

3. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?
I’d say it’s a toss-up between the day my husband proposed, finding out we were pregnant with our son while in New York City, holding my Congolese daughter for the first time, or the day I got the call from my agent that I was going to be a published author.

4. What is one thing you want the next generation to know?
Be careful with technology. If you let it, it can rob your life. Turn off the phone. Get away from the screen. Have actual conversations with people. I guarantee when you’re old you won’t regret it.

Thank you so so much for sharing your heart and some of your story Katie! I am most definitely inspired by your journey so far. 

P.S. Katie also recently released a YA series and you should check it out! I have the first one ready for me to read and can’t wait to dive in!

Where to Connect with Author
Website | Twitter | Facebook

Author Interviews

4 Questions with Hillary Manton Lodge | 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!)

Not only has it been a short week for many of us, but it’s Friday! So how about a fun 4 Questions to kick off the weekend?

I thought it was a great idea too. If you haven’t met Hillary yet, you’re in for a treat! One of her recent books, A Table by the Window, is an INSPY shortlist winner and her second in the series just released! So please, enjoy!

Hillary Manton Lodge is the author of Reservations for Two, A Table by the Window, Plain Jayne, and Simply Sara. A graduate of the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism, Hillary discovered the world of cuisine during her internship at Northwest Palate Magazine. Her next novel, book three in the Two Blue Doors series, will release May 3rd, 2016 from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishers. In her free time, Hillary enjoys experimenting in the kitchen, attending indie concerts, and finding new walking trails. She and her husband make their home in Portland, Oregon, with their Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Shiloh.

4 Questions

1. What is something about your life right now that you would have never imagined 5 years ago?
To be honest, when I was younger I’d planned on starting a family, but it just hasn’t shaken out that way. So while there are hopes and dreams that children might factor into the future, I’ve had the opportunity to focus on writing in a way that I hadn’t anticipated. It’s been a different, but no less worthy path. My fifth novel will release late next spring, with plans – as always – for more.

2. What is one thing that you would go back and do differently if you could?
I would have done a B.S. degree rather than a B.A. in college. And that’s pretty much it. I don’t much believe in regrets, or letting your headspace camp out in them. Grace covers our past; faith and courage inform our future.

3. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?
I really, really liked getting married. I was so excited to marry my husband, and all my favorite people were there, and I loved my dress. I suppose it’s a cliché to cite one’s wedding, but it’s true.

4. What is one thing you want the next generation to know?
I have a niece and nephew who are in middle school and high school, respectively. We have a lot of conversations about the transient nature of popularity and the importance of kindness.

Thank you so so much Hillary for joining in!! Hope y’all enjoyed hearing from her as well and be sure to connect with her around the web!

Where to Connect with Author
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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?

Author Interviews

4 Questions with Award Winning Kristy Cambron | 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!)

In case you missed my reviews of Kristy Cambon’s novels, I’ll just say it’s safe to say I’m a fan. Her books are heart-wrenching, yet so incredibly beautiful! I count down the days until her next novel. So of course I’m SOOOOO excited to host her on the blog for a 4 Questions! She’s awesome and I hope you enjoy! Oh and don’t miss out on the giveaway at the end!

Kristy Cambron fancies life as a vintage-inspired storyteller. Her debut historical novel, THE BUTTERFLY AND THE VIOLIN (Thomas Nelson, 2014), was named to Library Journal Reviews’ Best Books of 2014, Family Fiction’s Top Ten Novels of 2014, and received nominations for RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards Best Inspirational Novel of 2014 and the 2015 INSPY Awards for Best Debut Novel. Her second novel, A SPARROW IN TEREZIN (Thomas Nelson, April 2015), was named Library Journal Reviews’ Pick of the Month (Christian Fiction, February 2015) and a Top Pick from RT Book Reviews.

Kristy is an Art/Design Manager at TheGROVEstory.com and holds a degree in Art History from Indiana University. She lives in Indiana with her husband and three football-loving sons, where she can probably be bribed with a coconut mocha latte and a good Christian fiction read.

And y’all – we’re mixing things up with this 4 Questions! Enjoy!

1. What is something about your life right now that you would never imagined 5 years ago?

2. What is one thing that you would go back and do differently if you could?

3. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?

4. What is one thing you want the next generation to know?

Here’s a bit about what’s next! Yay!

Isn’t she the best y’all?! Thank you so so much Kristy! So glad to hear from you and get to introduce you to my readers!

You can connect with Kristy at:
Facebook: Kristy Cambron | Twitter: @KCambronAuthor | Instagram: kristycambron
Pinterest: KCambronAuthor | Web: KristyCambron.com | TheGROVEstory.com

Author Interviews

4 Questions with Award Winning Gina Holmes | 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!)

Today is kicking off with award winning author Gina Holmes! If you’ve read her books, you know they pack a punch of emotions, but are so incredible and such deep reads. I recently read her debut Crossing Oceans and cried all the tears and last year had the chance to read Wings of Glass, which was another incredible read. So yep! I’m super excited to host her (and of course a giveaway!). Enjoy friends!

Gina Holmes is the founder of Novel Rocket, regularly named as one of Writers Digest’s best websites for writers. Her debut, Crossing Oceans, was a Christy and Gold Medallion finalist and winner of the Carol Award, INSPY, and RWA’s Inspirational Reader’s Choice, as well as being a CBA, ECPA, Amazon and PW bestseller. Her sophomore novel, Dry as Rain was a Christy Award finalist. Wings of Glass has been named as one of the best books of the year in 2013 by Library Journal and was a SIBA Okra pick and a finalist for Romantic Times’ Reviewers Choice Award. Her latest novel, Driftwood Tides is in stores now. She holds degrees in science and nursing and currently resides with her family in southern Virginia. She works too hard, laughs too loud, and longs to see others heal from their past and discover their God-given purpose. To learn more about her, visit www.ginaholmes.com.

1. What is something about your life right now that you would have never imagined 5 years ago?
Right now, my youngest son is 18 and getting ready to graduate high-school. I knew it would be emotional, but I had no idea just HOW emotional it would be. When he was a little guy, I would cry just thinking of the day he would leave home. Then, he went through the typical teenage years, where I began to think I might survive him leaving home just fine, ha. Now that it’s fast approaching, I find myself crying and mourning the loss of him as a child I can protect from the world. I have one more son who is 13 and I imagine his flight will be even harder since it will be an empty nest situation. It’s good too, don’t get me wrong. Bitter sweet like most of life.

2. What is one thing that you would go back and do differently if you could?
Wow, you ask some tough questions. Even after I became a Christian, I didn’t always live out my faith. I still don’t at times. If I could go back, I’d have tried much harder to live within the parameters God set out in the BIble. I used to think God was kind of a kill-joy. Now, I realize He just wants to protect us. I could have saved myself and others a lot of grief.

3. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?
My children being born of course and getting married, the usual wonderful stuff. Since this is a book blog though, I’d have to go with the moment I was working as a nurse and got the call that my first novel, and personal favorite, Crossing Oceans, was being offered a contract by Tyndale House. I still remember my agent telling me, “It’s okay to scream.” I was working in the newborn nursery at the time, so it really wasn’t, but it was okay to cry, and I did.

4. What is one thing you want the next generation to know?
Wow, there’s so much. That’s the right of passage for middle-age, having the desire to share what you’ve learned the hard knock way, with a younger generation (who won’t heed anymore than we did at that age). I guess my best piece of advice ties along with my biggest regret. Put God first, right now. Heed His word because it’s the answer to everything.

Thank you so so much Gina for sharing some of your heart with us! I was so encouraged by this and can’t wait for what ever you pen next!

Where to Connect with Author
Website | Twitter | Facebook

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