Chicago Triathlon Supersprint 2015

On August 29, 2015, I kicked 30's butt by participating in the Transamerica Chicago Triathlon Supersprint!  I wanted to write about it so friends and family can hear the story and so hopefully someone like me who is obsessing about figuring out what it's like can find this post and get a little peace of mind for next year's race!

On Friday, Zach and I went up to the race expo.  The expo was neat.  They were selling huge stuff like bikes and wetsuits and $200 shoes and also little things like car stickers (which I forgot to buy-ugh!), shoe laces, and body glide.  We picked up a pair of elastic shoe laces to help make my transitions quicker and a race belt so I wouldn't have to pin my race bib to my tri suit.  We also got an official race tshirt.

Then, we attended my "course talk" which explained details of the course and transitions, the rules for the race, safety considerations, where to park, etc.  Even though I had heard most of the information, attending the meeting really helped put my mind at ease.

After attending the meeting, I was allowed to pick up my race packet.  We followed signs through the labyrinth of the basement of the Hilton and found pick up.  I had received an email early in the week with my bib number and all I had to tell them was my number and show an ID to get my packet.  Inside was my bib, tri-tats (temporary tattoos) of my race numbers for each arm, the numbers to put on my bike and helmet, and my timing chip.  Then we moved to another kiosk where I got my participant tshirt and a "goodie bag".  The bag is a nice cinch sack and had samples of vitamins, beet juice, Gatorade and all kinds of weird stuff.

After leaving the expo it was almost dark, but we drove to Foster Beach to check out the race site anyway.  We parked on what would become the bike course, walked part of the run course, and walked almost the whole path between the swim and transition.  We went down the beach and put our toes into cold, cold, cold Lake Michigan.  I wanted to get an idea of just how cold 60 degree water was.

Then we drove to our hotel from the beach, which was nice so we could see how long it took.  There were no hotels in the City under $100, so we stayed in Skokie.  It was about a 30 minute drive.

The next morning, our alarms went off at 5am and we got everything for the race together and headed down to the car, where we discovered it was raining.  I checked the weather and it was forecast to rain all morning.  We found a 24-hour Walgreens on the way and picked up an umbrella and poncho and a box of garbage bags.

When we reached the parking area, we had a not-so-short walk in the rain to the check in area.  Zach stayed back and waited in line to pay for parking and I went ahead to the site, which was good because the line to get into transition was huge.  They advised us at the course talk to arrive by 6am to transition so we'd have time to get everything settled before transition closed at 6:45.  We arrived in the parking lot around 6am, so by the time I walked down to transition, waited in line, and checked in, it was 6:40.  Thankfully, they recognized this was mostly due to organizational flaws, so transition remained open longer.  It was pouring.

I got my Divvy bike and found a spot right next to the beginning of the run course to set up my stuff.  I put a garbage bag on the ground and then put my transition bag on the back edge of it and my towel (ha!) on the rest of it, so neither would be laying on the wet ground.  I put my helmet on the bike handlebars with my sunglasses ready inside them (double ha!)  I also set my shoes (which were already soaked) out on my towel with socks rolled down so I could just roll them onto my feet and then slide them into my shoes.  I also laid out my race belt with my bib already attached on the towel.  Then I took two more garbage bags and covered my transition bag, towel, and gear and laid the box of garbage bags on top so they wouldn't blow away.  Finally, I put my wetsuit on up to my waist and headed out of transition down toward the beach with my swim cap, goggles, and earplugs in hand.


THE SWIM (375m/not quite 1/4 mi)
We lined up at the starting line on the beach (my wave had 37 people in it) and an air horn sounded to set us off.  We ran down into the water, which was 62 degrees the morning of the race.  We swam out to a buoy, rounded it, swam parallel to the beach, rounded a 2nd buoy and swam/ran back into the beach.  The short description of this is that it was the worst thing I have ever done.   I had trained swimming 400+m, but I was not ready for swimming in Lake Michigan.  The wind, waves, and cold were just brutal.  Every time I got a stroke rhythm going I would choke on the water and have to stop and sputter or turn onto my back.  I backstroked a LOT of the swim.  Also, we were hitting and kicking each other, which I expected but was still annoying.  On top of it, I was wearing ear plugs because I've had trouble with water in my left ear all summer and my goggles were tinted, which was great in nice weather, but on this gray, yucky day, I just felt isolated and sensory deprived.  My goggles also fogged and I could barely see. The girl behind me as we started cried and hyperventilated.  I don't know if she continued or quit.  A woman in my wave had to be helped out of the water near the finish.  It was the real deal. We were never more than about 20 feet from a lifeguard, which was good. The water was only about 5.5ft deep--just deep enough that I couldn't touch. Next year I will train swimming a much longer distance--maybe a half mile or so--and will try to get some training sessions in Lake Michigan so I feel more comfortable with the open water.

THE BIKE (10K/6.2mi)
I expected the bike to be my best event.  I was signed up for the Divvy wave, which means everyone in my wave was riding the rent-from-the-city bikes.  They are 3-speed cruisers.  Great for cruising around Chicago, site-seeing, riding along the lakefront path.  Not race bikes.  They were very heavy.  At home I ride a Trek mountain bike and it is much lighter than these bikes.  The ride would have been easier on my mountain bike and it would have been fine for the race.  Many other people were on mountain bikes.  The Divvy wave was a good choice for this first time, though, because I was unsure when I registered if my mountain bike would be OK and knew buying a road bike this year was out of the question, and I wasn't too keen on transporting my bike up to the city. Mercifully, aside from two overpasses the course was flat and guarded from the wind, mostly.  Again, I would train for a longer distance than required by the race, maybe around 10 miles.

THE RUN (2.5K/1.5mi)
I expected the run to be horrible, but it wasn't.  I choked on my Gatorade on my way out of transition, but after that I did fine.  I did stop to walk for a few steps at a time a couple times during the run, but everyone was very encouraging.  They had people cheering along the way and even some of the athletes running back toward the finish were cheering on the wave that was headed out on the run.  The group at the turnaround was so sweet and encouraging! The run was partially on a gravel path and there were some seriously huge puddles, but my shoes were already drenched so I just ran through. I was tired, but felt OK through the run.  Again, next year I'll train for a 5K to be more prepared. The rain and cool day were a big help on this leg.  On the way back I reached a point where I wanted to stop and walk, but then I could hear the crowd at the finish line and I had this renewed energy and was able to finish strong.  It was awesome.

At the finish everyone was cheering and they announced my name as I crossed the finish line.  Zach and Lynn had been somewhere along each course cheering for me and Lynn had made encouraging posters to hold up and cheer me along the way. They were rock stars standing out in the rain for me! I finished in 1 hr 6 min, which is not very good, in the grand scheme of things (the fastest women did it in about 38 minutes, I think).  But I had estimated based on my training that I would finish in about 1 hr 20 min, so my actual time was quite a bit better than I expected. As soon as you crossed, they showered me with things.  A small towel, chips, pretzels, bottles of Gatorade and water, and, of course, a finisher medal.  I've been on the "get rid of participation trophies" bandwagon before, but man, I feel like I earned that finisher medal!

We weren't allowed headphones or music on the course, so I took a page from my friend Rachel's book and prayed along the way.  I prayed for the sweet babies born recently in my life and for their Mamas.  I prayed for a friend's Mom who was in ICU.  I prayed for baby Luke and his family--who I've never met, but have been following their story on Facebook.  I prayed for the family of the child that will eventually pass and give baby Luke the heart he desperately needs.  I prayed for students in our ministry.  I prayed for my dear friend who recently experienced a miscarriage.  I prayed and praised God that He gave me a healthy body and that He is my strength and provider.  I thanked Him for Zach and Lynn cheering me on and Andee at home watching our kids so they weren't standing in the rain. It helped a lot.

After the race we went back to our hotel (since it was only just after 9am) and sat in the hot tub--glorious!!!!  We splashed around in the pool and did a few laps, which helped relax and stretch out my tight, cold muscles.  Then we packed up and headed home.  I took a 3 hour nap.  Sunday, I was very cranky and tired.  By Monday, I had pretty much recovered.

Bottom line: I will do it again next year.  Registration for 2016 opens October 2015 and I won't hesitate to sign up again.  If you are thinking about trying it, DO IT (I'm looking at you, Jodi).  It was awesome.  It was hard the whole time and scary at moments, but overall it was just an awesome experience.  Worth every difficult moment.  I will also start training earlier, train most intentionally, and train for more distance in each event next year, and then go have a blast as a Supersprint veteran!


Customer Service: The Power of A Name

Image result for customer service icon
I've worked in customer service my entire adult life.  Offering great customer service is something I care about.  I want my customers happy and I want them to think highly of the company I work for.  I could go on and on and on about it.

But I won't.  Today, I just have a few thoughts on the impact of using your name.

Many companies require their Customer Service Reps (CSRs) to use their name in their greeting when they answer a call.  But I think reminding a customer of your name at the end of a call is far more important.

1. It gives them confidence.  When you close a call and remind them of your name, that customer knows you stand by the service you've given them.  They feel confident that they'll receive what you've arranged and will follow through on your end of the responsibilities.  And if something goes awry, they know who to call or who to say they talked with.  You taking ownership of the service you offer makes your customer feel confident.

2. It comforts them.  I work in a service industry, so I frequently talk to people who are distraught.  Offering my name at the end of the call helps them know that I care about their situation.  They know that Joy is working on their behalf.  Tell a customer your name and that they can ask for you if they need anything else.  Often, they don't need to call back again, but they feel more calm and like their situation is under control just knowing you're there for them.

3. It creates personal service.  When you use your name at the end of the call and invite them to call again, they no longer feel they're a customer of whatever-company-big-or-small-am-I-talking-to-someone-in-India.  They're now your customer.  That sense of personal service makes a customer much more likely to "buy in" to your company and stick with you for the long haul.

These are obvious tips for someone in phone-based customer service, but they can go equally as far for someone in retail, out in the service field, executives, home-based businesses, networking, interacting with your children's school teachers/administrators, and beyond!

I know this isn't something I have ever really talked about on the blog here, but it was just on my mind today, so I thought I'd share.  Happy Monday, all!


New Year 2015

What would a New Year be without resolutions?  Actually, resolutions don't need to happen right at the New Year, but I think we are remiss to allow a year to go by without giving some thought to where we've been and where we're going.  I have some friends that do it around their birthdays or other prominent dates in their lives.

I did not do so well with my resolutions last year.  I made too many to keep up with AND I let even the manageable ones fall to the wayside because I didn't keep those goals in front of me.  The ones I met, I met by accident.

But now it's 2015.  New Year, New Leaf is what I'm saying.  My New Year Resolution list could alternately be titled "Kick 30's Butt".  :)

Here are some of my goals for 2015.

Say "How about you?":  Last year I added more "pleases" and "thank yous" into my vocabulary.  This year I'd like to add more "how about yous" and things like that.  I always want to be a good friend and a good listener and to care for others more.  So my goal is to never let a conversation completely center on me.  When someone asks me about my day, my weekend, my plans, etc, I plan to give them an appropriate-for-the-conversation answer (I tend to be long-winded and an over-sharer) and finish with a question back to them.  I feel there's no better way to get to know someone better than to ask them about the things that matter to them.  It's about courtesy, but it's even more about connection and letting people know they matter to me.

Say "Yes?": If I have one struggle in my life, it's having patience and giving grace to my family.  So this year (and I've already started) when someone is calling my name, I don't want to respond with "What?" or, even worse (but all too common), "WHAT?!".  I am going to respond with, "Yes?".  I think it is a simple way to give affirmation to my family, to set the tone that what they're about to say will be received and not rejected before they can speak, that their talking to me is not an inconvenience.  I can see that this is truth in the look on my 3.5 year old daughter's face when I answer her.

Do Something Healthy: I know that health goals are hackneyed for New Year's Resolutions, but I have one anyway.  I would like to lose some weight (20 pounds if I can), but more than that I'd like to get stronger and feel better.  I frequently find myself worn out and feeling blah and I'm over that.  We got a Nutribullet for Christmas and have started drinking smoothies for breakfast.  My Mom and Aunt swear by them (they've been doing it for several months and have both lost weight and report feeling more energetic and physically better).  I think Nora would have a smoothie for every meal if we'd let her!  I just started today drinking Matcha.  It's powdered green tea leaves.  One 2-ounce swig each morning gives all the good stuff of about 10 cups of steeped green tea.  It tastes kind of gross (call it an "acquired taste"...that sounds nicer), very Japanese/Sushi/Seaweed-like.  I also like that because of...something...in it the caffeine is delivered evenly over several hours which prevents the jitters/crash that I get from coffee.  It's science.  I also plan to do the Chicago Triathlon Super-Sprint later this year.  Don't think I'm crazy or all hard-core...it's something like 1/4 mile swim, 8 mile bike and 1.5 mile run.  I will have to do a little training for it (I couldn't run 1.5 miles without stopping even if zombies were chasing me), but I think it will be fun and very rewarding!  My sister is planning to do it also, and I'm hoping Zach will, too.

Practice God's Presence: I have been in on the "Not A Fan" movement since the very beginning, and I've been learning and growing over 2014, but I still feel like something is missing.  As I look at my life, I think that missing piece is communion with God.  I want to carve out some quiet time to connect with God.  Right now I'm going to try several things and see what works well and then make a commitment to it.

Experiences Over Things: It is SO hard for me not to pick up that little toy, book, item, whatever for my kids every time I see it.  But while giving a gift is rewarding in the moment (for both parties), experiences and time spent are so much more valuable.  This comes in the form of playing a game one-on-one with Nora, or taking Judah outside even when I don't feel like it.  It also looks like letting my kids take their time putting on clothes or packing a bag or doing a task even though I could help them or do it myself and get it done much faster.  It looks like redirecting my money away from buying "stuff" and toward doing things--bowling, ice skating, camping.  It looks like re-allotting my time to make space for all these things.

Be A Champion For My Husband: This looks like speaking to and about him with respect.  It's relating with him using his love language.  It's praying for him.  It's encouraging him and being a help mate.  It includes the above-mentioned goals of answering with "Yes?" and asking "How about you?".  It's putting him before the kids (which benefits the kids, too, in the long run).  It's also keeping him in the loop on what's going on in my life schedule-wise, emotionally and spiritually.

So those are my goals.  It looks like a lot written down, but I think it can be done.  How am I doing kicking 30's butt? I think it'll result in a better me all around and having some great experiences under my belt.  In October I'll be able to ring in 31 with no regrets.

So, how about you?  When do you set goals? Do you have plans for 2015?


The Fantastical Story of the Missing Quarter & The Golden Rule

I was in the drive through line at McDonald's today and I dropped a quarter.  Somehow, this quarter magically disappeared somewhere on the floorboard of my car.  So I started looking around, lifted the floor mat, scooted my seat back and had my head between my knees looking for the disappearing quarter.  When I looked up, the line had moved a few car lengths without me.  As I pulled forward I thought to myself, "That person behind me probably hates me right now".  But they shouldn't.  For all they know, I could be distracted by a family member's death, exhausted from being up all night with a sick or scared child, I could have a poisonous spider on me and need to kill it before pulling forward...

Then I got thinking of the times that I make up wild scenarios and feel good about what a gracious person I am.  How that lady with the coupon's husband lost his job and has been searching for a new one for 3 years.  How the guy who passed me doing 80 in a 50 zone is racing to the hospital after finding out one of his family members was in a horrible accident.  The customer who was rude to me on the phone is having a terrible day.  The person driving me crazy on Facebook is lonely or depressed.

But what if they're none of those things?  What if they're just your average mom, a dude who is speeding, an upset customer, has too much time on their hands...or me, just a lady looking for a quarter?

If their scenario is more everyday than elaborate, does that make them more deserving of my eye rolls or passive aggression?  Does it make them less worthy of my helping hand, patience or kindness?

See, I've been seeing a lot of videos and blog posts lately about how you never know what kind of battle people are fighting and you need to treat them with respect and kindness, grace and mercy because of that.  And that's true, I don't know what battles the people around me are fighting.  But that's not the reason to treat others with respect, kindness, grace and mercy.

Jesus gave us what has come to be known as "The Golden Rule", Matthew 7:12, "So in everything, do to others as you would have them do to you."  It's not about fantasizing or romanticizing the other person's situation.  In the long run, that is self-serving.  Your made-up story about the other person only demotes them to be less than you and makes you into a hero in your own mind.

Back up a few verses before the Golden Rule (that's always a good thing to do).
The passage begins with the familiar analogy of the plank:
Matthew 7:1-5: "Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye."

Doing unto others starts with a look at yourself and then a look across at them--as an equal--not a look down at them.  How would I want to be treated if I were in their shoes?  Their missing quarter shoes, not their poisonous spider shoes.

So be kind today.  Because it's the right thing to do.

And by the way...I never did find that quarter.


On Days Like Today...

Usually on a day like today I would say, "Whew!  I wish I could start this day over and try again!". Not today. Today I'm just glad it's (almost) over.

I could list all the things that went wrong today, but the long and short of it is this: today I was not in control of me.

I was unloving, ungracious, impatient and ungrateful with my husband and children. I acted selfishly, my thoughts were on many things other than grace. Many things other than kindness. Many things other than love.

Have you had a day like this before? A day where your heart feels like it is in turmoil. Where if you had to rate yourself on a scale of 1-10 in how "keyed up" you feel, it would be a 12. Where the literal noise of life has pushed you to the breaking point. A day when your inner voice is a liar, scripted by satan himself, all self-filled, all angry, all curses.

I literally thought to myself at one point today about my husband, "he has locked the van doors exactly one time ever and it's now, when I need into it". I would half smile at the ridiculousness of that thought now if I wasn't so embarrassed by it. Both because it is a lie that he never locks the doors and the absurdity of the insinuation that he locked them to spite me, to make my task harder. It just speaks to the condition of my heart.

We each took a kid to bed tonight and when I got mine laid down, I stole a few minutes outside. I needed some quiet, away from the noise of appliances, of voices and toys and the cricket in the basement. I sat down with my Bible and opened to the book of Joel.

I'll admit, I read the short book quickly without a lot of deep thought, but felt better after turning my focus toward God. I came inside and as I fixed a cup of tea, I thought, "God, what are you saying to me?" Suddenly, some words from Joel popped into my head:
"The Lord's voice will roar from Zion
and thunder from Jerusalem,
and the heavens and the earth will shake.
But the Lord will be a refuge for his people,
and strong fortress for the people of Israel." Joel 3:16-17

It made me think of chaos. That's the best way I can describe my day. Everything felt like chaos. But during that, through it, the Lord will be a refuge for his people. 

Now, I know this is out of context, and don't think that I'm telling you what the book of Joel is about. But this is what the Lord was speaking to me tonight.

When life is chaos, when things are out of your control, I am your refuge. I am your strong fortress. 

Even though, when it comes down to brass tacks, there's really not much other than yourself that you're in control of on ANY day, I am your refuge. I am your strong fortress.

When you're not even in control of yourself (especially when you're not in control of yourself), I am your refuge. I am your strong fortress.

There is still plenty of time and opportunity this evening for things to go wrong. But instead of letting my stress level climb, instead of listening to the liar, I'm going to make another cup of tea and settle into my refuge, my strong fortress.


Judah's Nursery--An Almost-Neutral Nursery On A Shoestring Budget.

Seeing as Judah is now 13 months old, this post is a little (ahem) late, but I wanted to share it anyway. These are some pics from Judah's nursery!  When we put it together it was "Baby G2's Nursery" because we didn't know what we were having.  Over the past year we've added more boyish things and it's become boyish, but if he had been a girl we would have added more orange and some pink to make it more girly.
So here's our "Almost-Neutral Nursery".
We also did our nursery on a shoestring budget.  And this wasn't one of those shoestring budgets like some blogs or TV shows where they're like, "It was a tight budget--only $1000".  We thrifted, bought secondhand, and used what we already had to make this nursery happen.  I'll tell you about it as we go. How's that?  Good?  Good.  :)
These little guys were the inspiration for the whole nursery.  They are the hanging toys on our swing and mobile and match the print for the bouncer, pack n play and car seat.  I loved the colors, so we ran with it.

  • This door was already painted with chalkboard paint when we moved into the house, so I searched "chalk lettering" on Pinterest to find a design I liked and just subbed in Judah's name and sketched it on the door in colors we used in the room.

  • I love these ABC wall clings! (above and below)  They were originally from Target (I think), but I found them brand new in an unopened box at Goodwill.  I just noticed the picture below makes them look crooked, but they're not in real life.  They've been up there for well over a year now and haven't budged.
  • The changing pad and cover is the one we had for Nora when she was a baby.  The pads run around $20 (I think ours was originally from Babies R Us or Wal-Mart) and the covers come in a wide variety of prices.  I think the cheapest I've seen them in store is about $12, but always check the clearance section at Babies R Us and I see these often brand new at Once Upon A Child.  A quick search on Amazon shows one just like this on sale for $8.74 and it's Prime eligible.
  • The dresser!  We rented a house the first year we lived here and our landlord told us we could keep/use/give away/sell anything that was in the garage while we lived there and that's where this came from.  This little dresser was a really, weird, ugly green color, but we chose this orange paint and gave it a little makeover.  The drawer pulls are just the wooden drawer pulls that were on it and I painted them the same color as the walls.
  • The hamper (in the shadow on the left) is one of our "boy" touches and is just a pop-up hamper from Wal-Mart.  I've seen similar ones at Family Dollar/Dollar General.
  • The curtains!  They were a lesson in resourcefulness!  We got the white curtains for free from a parent of a friend of Zach's parents (whew!) and Zach's Mom refashioned them to work in our living room.  These curtains were the ones left over from that project.  They happened to fit the window, so we went with it.  The valances were made by Zach's Mom to give it a bit more of a baby feel and cover the tab-tops of the curtains.

  •  We bought the crib, glider/ottoman (as well as a changing table that's in the bathroom and a dresser that's in Nora's room) from a friend for Nora's nursery.  We spent $300 on the whole set.  She was a trusted friend, so we knew we were getting clean, quality pieces.  Don't be afraid to buy secondhand as long as you trust the source!  By the time Judah came around, the chair and ottoman had seen better days, so my Mom recovered them in a nice, soft, neutral fabric (and it cleans well).
  • The green rug was purchased at a wonderful thrift store called R Kids.  I have gotten plenty of quality items there and the owner told me the consignor for this rug is a regular at the shop and always has great pieces.  The rug retails online at JCP.com for $100 and we paid $40.
  • The big basket next to the glider that you can see in several of these pictures was part of a purchase long ago from Menard's.  I think we got 13 baskets in that set and you can spot them all around our house.  It holds toys that the kids have grown out of or haven't yet grown into.

  •  The poster on the wall is a map of the zoo in the town where Zach grew up.  His grandparents bought it for him when he was a toddler and it has hung in both our kids' nurseries.  It's just in a 1 in poster frame.

  •  Books are on top of the basket, and the yellow fabric is a place mat from our dining room.  My Mom put it there so my glass wouldn't sweat onto the basket (the stain on the basket bleeds when it gets wet).  It was in the color scheme of the room and worked perfectly.
  • The sad little bunny is a toy that belonged to my husband as a baby.
  • The framed hand print is a kit that came from Pottery Barn Kids.  My aunt picked it up at a yard sale and gave it to us.  It came with 2 frames and the mats have ages printed on them--Newborn, 6 months, 1 year.  PB doesn't carry this same one anymore.  It could be easily replicated with frames from any store and some mat from a craft store.

  •  Judah loves his WubbaNub. That little paci creature has been awesome.  The paci doesn't bounce when it falls (so it doesn't disappear), it's easy for little hands to hold onto and when he was teeny tiny the weight of the animal helped the paci stay in his mouth while he slept.  You can find them in several stores and online.  They're worth the $13.
  • We have 3 crib sheets.  Two were from when Nora was a baby and the 3rd I bought at a resale shop.  I'm a little weird about secondhand bedding and trust me, I washed and dried the crap outta that 3rd sheet the second I brought it home.  If you're not into secondhand bedding, watch the sales.  Again, the clearance section at Babies R Us is sometimes great, Amazon, and my Aunt scored crib sheets on clearance for less than $2 at JCP a while back.  This is another product that Once Upon A Child ALWAYS has brand new, in the package.  That sheet is not going to make or break your nursery.  Please don't spend $30 on it.

  •  This cute little worm was also from Zach's childhood nursery/bedroom.  It would be a super easy DIY.

  So there you have it: an almost-neutral-nursery on a shoestring budget.  My biggest suggestion is to get an idea of what you want and start shopping early so you have time to shop around (especially if you don't thrift). Thrift, shop secondhand, accept hand-me-downs, repurpose what you already have, use some childhood mementos, DIY.

The nursery is a room that can quickly become like a wedding: having concrete plans for each item that you won't budge on is just going to cost you a bunch of money that you don't need to spend and often won't matter later.  Look for inspiration (or Pinspiration!), don't try to replicate someone else's room.  For some more ideas like these, here's a link to my Pinterest: check out the boards "Nora" (girl ideas), "Judah" (boy ideas), "Kids' Room Ideas" and "Nursery Ideas".


Start Now

I was having a text conversation with one of our students the other night and I confessed something to her that I have not told anyone.

I have a regret.

I know, it's not cool to have regrets.  Just look at Pinterest.  It'll tell you so.

But I do.  And what is it?

I wish I would have started sooner.

I wish I would have started working with youth sooner...
...taking piano seriously sooner...
...worked with missions...
...searched out opportunities to answer the tugs God put on my heart at the moment they were placed there.

Some things I can start working at today.  Other opportunities are altered forever.  Still others have passed me by entirely.

So I implore you, I beg you...no matter what your age.  If you're 15 or 30 or 50.  START TODAY.

Put hands and feet to the things God is calling you to.  Find opportunities to use and follow your passions.  Don't be afraid to start something.  To move away.  To apply for programs or internships.  To work for a nonprofit. 

Two things have made me really face this recently. 
1.  In the first sermon in the "Meaning from Memes" series at FCC, Dallas said his dad told him he wished he'd "done less for my family and more for Jesus". 
2.  This brilliant "Liking isn't helping" campaign for Crisis Relief Singapore

If you want to see human trafficking stop in your lifetime, find an organization who is doing something about it and go work there.  Volunteer there.  Support them financially.

If you care about the homeless, find a shelter where you can work. 

If you want to lead worship, find a church with a worship leader and apply for an internship...or ask if you can shadow.

God called people at all ages.  Samuel was a child.  David and Mary were little more than children.  Timothy was young.  Abraham received his promise in old age.  Moses was something like 500 years old when he built the ark. 

You can be part of something amazing and you can do it now.  So do.

Matthew 28:18-20


Oceans (Hillsong United)
"Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders.
Let me walk upon the waters
wherever you would call me.
Take me deeper than my strength could ever wander
and my faith will be made stronger
in the presence of my Savior."