My Favorite Podcasts

What did I do before podcast came into my life? I either sat in silence at work or listened to the same current Top 20 country songs on repeat during my commutes. These days, I listen to podcasts as I get ready in the morning, while I’m driving, when I meal prep for the week, and when I’m at my office desk. I hook up to the living room’s Bluetooth speaker and turn on a podcast as I clean the house or do laundry. I laugh. I nod my head. I’ve cried once or twice. And the time flies as I learn new things with every episode that passes.

In case you may be new to podcasts or if you just want some fresh ideas, I compiled a little list of my weekly listens. I use Spotify as my main podcast listening space as I have an Android, but there are apps out there specifically for podcasting listening (such as Stitcher.) When you find a podcast you enjoy, you are able to subscribe and receive the newest episodes when they’re released. So here are some of my personal favorite podcasts:

Feel Good and Life Lessons

For the Love! with Jen Hatmaker

Jen has such an easy-listening voice, and her discussions are relevant to all areas of life. I had not heard her name prior to being recommended her podcast, but I can imagine we’d be good friends should we ever meet — I could easy talk about my love for wine with her.

Description: “For the love” of…People. Home. Stories. Shoes. Family. Jesus. Community. TV. Travel. Food. Culture. The hilarious best-selling author and star of HGTV’s “My Big Family Renovation” invites you to drop by and catch up with her friends as they laugh and chat about all the things we love

Fun Therapy with Mike Foster

A guy after my own heart, Mike focuses his podcast on imperfect guests and events and where to find hope in the darker places of life. Mike talks about depression, lost love, and painful struggles and taking radical ownership in order to transform those setbacks into personal successes. His gentle voice helps me relax, so this is not an office-listen, but oh how I love to unwind at the end of the day to this podcast!

Description: Fun Therapy with Mike Foster dives into the beautifully messy parts of our not-so-perfect lives. Each episode features a candid “therapy” session with a key leader, influencer or artist. With the kindness of Mr. Rogers and the intensity of a Navy SEAL, Mike’s unique style reveals the truth and beauty residing in all of us. With a lush musical score by Sleeping At Last, consider this your guide to turn your setbacks into super powers.

Strangers by Lea Thau

Strangers is one of my newer podcast finds, but it has been around since 2013. I have become a big proponent of talking to random people I bump into throughout my day-to-day interactions. Everyone has a story and everyone has something to share. Lea is another advocate of this movement, and takes her meetings with strangers a step further by sharing their stories through her podcast.

Description: Each episode is an empathy shot in your arm, featuring true stories about the people we meet, the connections we make, the heartbreaks we suffer, the kindnesses we encounter, and those frightful moments when we discover that WE aren’t even who we thought we were.

That Sounds Fun with Annie F. Downs

A friend recommended Annie to me a few months ago and I have fallen into quite the fan crush over her. Annie is not picky when she chooses who or what she enjoys in life, and makes beautiful connections through her interviews with her subject, listeners, and faith. On days I need a pick-me-up, I tune into Annie and always leave with a smile. My personal favorite episode of That Sounds Fun is E126 with Lysa TerKeurst — what an empowering episode for Christian women!

Description: Christian author and speaker Annie F. Downs shares with you some of her favorite things: new books, faith conversations, restaurants, travel stories, musicians not to miss, interviews with friends. Pretty much, if it sounds fun to Annie, you’re gonna hear about it.

Hustlin’ in Heels

Yes, I know I’ve mentioned HIH in previous posts. Yes, I know I’ve expressed my love for these girls and their talks numerous times. Yes, I’m going to say it again. Stacey and Angie are from my little corner of Michigan, so their guests are typically women in my area whom I know personally and highly respect. I not only love their empowering messages to women juggling responsibilities, but I enjoy learning about the bigger stories happening in my friends’ and colleagues’ lives.

Description: Every Hustler needs a Tribe, and we want to welcome you to ours. Each week we sit down with a bottle of wine (or two) and chat with a different guest about the realities of “slay all day every day” culture. We deliver real talk about business, relationships, life and the celebrations and struggles of being a Hustler.

 

True Crime/True Stories

Small Town Murder

In all honesty, I began faithfully listening to podcasts when I found my first true crime one. Like many people in the world, I am intrigued by the horrible things humans can do to one another — during one of my Netflix binges bouncing between Criminal Minds and Dexter, I decided to find some true crime podcasts to fill my workdays. There are A LOT of true crime podcasts in my library, but Small Town Murder is one of my Top Two. The hosts are comedians and, though they share tons of information on the murder and victim, they also target the suspect with their wit. They do a great job lightening the mood on some of the darker moments of mankind.

Description: Two comedians look at a small town, what makes it tick, and a murder that took place there. In depth research, horrible tragedy, and the hosts’ comedic spin on the whole thing. 

Crime Junkie

The other true crime podcast in my Top Two, Crime Junkie may be my Number One Podcast. I absolutely love the hosts and that they discuss both new and known cases. Ashley does a great job researching the cases she covers, and I love their little updates  that happen in real-time.

Description: Every Monday, Ashley Flowers will tell you about whatever crime she’s been obsessing over that week in a way that sounds like you’re sitting around talking crime with your best friends. The storytelling is straightforward and free of rabbit holes so the cases stay suspenseful and are easy to follow.

Dumb People Town

One of my newer finds, this podcast is true to its name: three comedians talk about some of the dumbest stories headlined in the country. I have gotten quite a few good laughs out of their stories, and enjoy knowing that no matter what I may be going through on a certain day, there is someone else out there having a rougher time. I’ve made note not to ever move to Florida also — lack of self-control must be in the water down there.

Description: It’s as much an exploration as it is a celebration of dumb people doing dumb things (often in Florida).

 

Literary and Fantasy

Imaginary Worlds

Ugh. I love this podcast so much. As someone who lived her childhood in imaginary worlds, Eric makes me nostalgic by talking about some of my favorite fictional worlds and the masterminds who created them. I’ve also grown my reading list by listening to this podcast, so fantasy junkies beware!

Description: Host Eric Molinsky talks with novelists, screenwriters, comic book artists, filmmakers, and game designers about their craft of creating fictional worlds. The show also looks at the fan experience, exploring what makes us suspend our disbelief, and what happens when that spell is broken. Fantasy worlds may be set in distant planets or parallel dimensions, but they are crafted here on Earth and on some level relate to our daily lives.

Bald Move’s Game of Thrones Podcast

I have been a GOT fan since day one, and though I’m not going to enter into my review of Season 8 on this blog post (redo, please?), I will say that listening to this podcast following the television episodes was a real treasure. This podcast is still relevant even though the series has ended as the guys will be reviewing all the spin-off shows in the future. Plus, if you’re like me and are planning to rewatch GOT from the beginning, this little podcast might be a fun addition during your workdays following your binging.

Description: Jim and A.Ron review each week’s episode of HBO’s Game of Thrones and your feedback.

Unspoiled: Harry Potter

I have attempted to listen to a few different HP podcasts, but none of them compare to Unspoiled’s version. I love hearing my beloved texts being experienced by someone who has never experienced the Wizarding World before. I can imagine Roshawn’s reactions as my own and it takes me back to my first read-through of the series as well. For any Potterhead’s out there wanting to reread the Harry Potter series, do so with these girls!

Description: Natasha and Roshawn read the Harry Potter series one chapter at a time. Natasha knows everything, Roshawn knows nothing!

 

Celebrity Talk Podcasts

David Tennant Does a Podcast With…

I have been listening to this podcast since it began because 1.) David Tennant is the host and 2.) David Tennant is the host. Tennant sits and talks with some very famous actors and celebrities, and basically just bullshits for an hour or so. I always love seeing/reading/hearing celebrities talk and discovering how completely normal they are. Plus, is there any better sound than Tennant’s voice? Rhetorical question, friends.

Description: David Tennant gets talking with the biggest names from TV, movies, comedy and elsewhere. Revealing conversation, surprise stories and lots of laughs.

Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard

Basically, this podcast is Dax Shepard being Dax Shepard and there really isn’t anything more to say than that this needs *clap* to *clap* be *clap* in *clap* your *clap* library *clap* NOW.

Description: Hi, I’m Dax Shepard, and I love talking to people. I am endlessly fascinated by the messiness of being human, and I find people who are vulnerable and honest about their struggles and shortcomings to be incredibly sexy. I invite you to join me as I explore other people’s stories. We will celebrate, above all, the challenges and setbacks that ultimately lead to growth and betterment. What qualifies me for such an endeavor? More than a decade of sobriety, a degree in Anthropology and four years of improv training. I will attempt to discover human “truths” without any laboratory work, clinical trials or data collection. I will be, in the great tradition of 16th-century scientists, an Armchair Expert.

Life is Short with Justin Long

A very new podcast that has been shared by numerous other podcasts, Life is Short is hosted by Justin Long. You know, the awesome kid from Dodgeball and Jeepers Creepers? His first episode was with Dax Shepard, which obviously won me over right away. The podcast is another sit-down session with some famous people and Justin isn’t afraid to ask any and all questions that may be on his mind. This, along with all of the celebrity talk podcasts, are great to have in the background for a genuine laugh here and there.

Description: Is it just me or is time flying by? How do we make the most out of our short time here on Earth? That’s what we’re here to find out. I’m Justin Long and I’ve been an actor for most of my life, so I’m used to getting inside the heads of the characters I play. But now that I’m getting older (I’m 40 now, yikes), I want to peek inside the heads of real people to learn how they find meaning in life. I’m also very curious what their favorite snack food is, and what emoji they use most often — ya know, the REALLY important stuff. Every episode I’ll get personal with all kinds of people, from actors to musicians to deep thinkers who fascinate me. My brother Christian is on hand each episode to keep me honest, and occasionally remind me about some of the embarrassing things I’ve done over the years. Join us, or if you have more important things to do, that’s okay too — life is short!


Not in my library but one podcast I’d love to start listening to is Off the Vine with Kaitlyn Bristowe. I was a big Kaitlyn fan while she was on the Bachelorette, and any podcast involving comedy, taboo topics, and wine is a winning in my book.

Do you have any podcasts that are your go-to’s each week? Please share below — I’d love to grow my library!

Happy listening,

What Love Isn’t

At the beginning of this week, I had a conversation with a dear friend of mine on the topic of heartbreak. Though not a topic I’ve discussed in awhile, it brought a lot of memories to mind as I recollected on my past. Then today as I was driving to volleyball I heard the song Love Ain’t by Eli Young Band on the radio. The song portrays what love is by giving examples of what “love ain’t.” It had me thinking even more deeply on the topic. Add this with the knowledge that this weekend marks six months of married bliss — something which I once could only dream of achieving — I formulated my own version of what love is not.

Playing off the idea from the song Love Ain’t, I began to take note of instances in my past which I thought were love but turned out to be a mirage. Fleeting and forced feelings, endless questions, and a myriad of memories where silver-linings are hard to find.  With all these circulating thoughts, I began to consider the misguidance and mishaps of my past which shaped what love truly means to me.

My love-journey captures a variety of things: from snippets of hurt I’ve seen in my friends’ lives to the pain of my own, as well as my own failings in relationships and regrets of what I could have done instead. Pain is unavoidable through Life, but I’ve always aimed to learn from the hurt. Without knowing what love isn’t, I would never have discovered what love is. As I move forward with joy over the true love I have found and relish in knowing the pain it took to realize what I deserved, here is my own version of what love is not…


Tears are meant for sad movies or happy occasions, and wine can be used to forget. Rebounding is allowed in basketball. You can save a space on your plate for dessert. Use a cabin to getaway, use yoga to reset. But one thing that is never a cure for loneliness or measure of escape from your past? Love.

Love is not something that must first start with someone else. It is not magic for the mirror. It is not an antidote for the heart or mind. It is not a one-size-fits-all fix.

Love is not a remedy when you find yourself alone. Love is also not a status quo or a way to keep up appearances and stack your popularity ratings.

Love is not what you should have by such-and-such a time. It is not the missing piece to your happiness. It is not your only reason to be alive.

Love isn’t questioning your worth every time he has a bad day. And it’s not asking, “What more can I do for you?” when he cancels another date.

Love is not being at his beck and call, or dropping what you’re doing as soon as he finally asks to see you. It’s not wondering why his friends, family, dogs, sports, job, hobbies, health, car, or the bar push you down the list of priorities. Love is not a reflection in the mirror with an open question as to what more you can be. And love is definitely not changing who you are to fit the mold he has set for his ideal partner.

Love isn’t a quickly beating heart as you read another cryptic text. It’s not mixed signals and trying to “break a code.” Love is not worrying yourself to death.

Love should never mean you struggle to know where you stand. Are you together today? Can you call him now? Does he want to hear from you? Love should never be stressed.

Love isn’t changing Valentine’s to Galentine’s because your date canceled the day before. It’s not wearing that new dress alone as you sip drinks to a text dated 5 minutes past your meeting time, “I don’t think I’m going to make it after all.” Love isn’t having plans but changing them when something better comes along.

Love is not forgetful.

Love is not resentful.

Love is not spiteful.

Love is not a place-card holder while waiting to see if feelings arise. Especially not while chatting up other girls in case there may be sparkles in their eyes. Love does not give up easily or walk away with no care. “The grass is always greener,” they say when things turn dark and dim. But before moving on, you might try fertilizing and sprinkling water from your own tin.

Love is not jealous. Love does not question every motive and contemplate every word. It does not entrap or possess. It is not narrow-minded. It is not short-sighted.

Love is not looking for a mistake to be made or a toe to step out of line, and love is not fear of consequences in those moments your humanity shows through. It is not constantly demanding apologies and never asking to forgive. Love does not condescend, rolling eyes instead of cheering on. Love does not mock the highs or scoff at the lows. It does not focus on every failing. It does not see every character flaw.

Love is not yelling when you’re drunk and begging forgiveness the next day. Love is not holding your tongue and always watching what you say. Neither is love shrinking back from an angrily raised hand, nor is it sitting idly by when you need to make a stand.

Love is not purely physical. Love is not purely beautiful. And Love is never perfect.

Most importantly, love is not painful. Love will not cause harm knowingly nor will it hurt to prove a point. Love will not leave you on the floor, crying, and wondering why. It does not cause turmoil or stress or heartache. If you’re finding your love is causing hurt or coming at a great physical cost… Then you need to question what is in your life, because that is not love.

Love can be a lot of things, but there’s also a lot it cannot.

When it comes to love, it is not easy. Love is a messy, trialing road. But with persistence, patience, and selflessness, love wins. You’ll have to put aside some of yourself to be obliging to another, but love will never ask you to change the very foundation of who you are.

Find a love you deserve. Find a love who deserves you. 


If you’d like to hear Eli Young Band’s song, here it is: 

To G, the love of my life, I am so thankful to have found my matching soul. Here’s to a lifelong winding road with you by my side. 

 

 

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You – G&A

It is crazy to think I have been married for almost two weeks already. As most couples would say, the wedding day itself flew by and there is so many parts I wish I could go back to in order to snap more memory shots of them. Though the day was a humid, sunny day with temperatures into the lower-90’s, our wedding was absolutely perfect. There is not one thing I would change and everything flowed so incredibly well. Plus, we are still hearing from guests on how exceptional the ceremony and reception were. Family and friends have said it was the most meaningful, most beautiful, and best organized wedding they have ever attended. My heart is soaring! Yet there are some very key individuals I would like to thank because without them, the day would not have been half as amazing as it was:

G
First and foremost, I am so thankful for my wonderful husband. How many times have we looked at each other and wished we had just eloped? Far too many, right? Well, the Big Day has finally come and gone and I could not have been more excited at the prospect of walking down the aisle to you, even if it meant I was the center of attention. You have been my rock through this entire experience and I love our partnership in this planning because it has given me a secret look into what our marriage will be like. And I am ecstatic. You gave my dreams wings far before we even started talking about weddings, and you continue to do so every single day. XOXO

My Parents
Following close behind my groom are my parents. Mom and Dad, I cannot express how thankful I am to have you as my parents. I know I can be a handful of emotions and stubbornness, but I love you both so much and am so appreciative of all you have helped me get through up to this point. G and I would also like to thank you for going above and beyond in terms of catering for the wedding. The food was an absolute killer and I know that guests will be talking about this “Wall Party” for years to come. And lastly, I hope I’ve made you proud as a bride-to-be and will make you proud as I move forward as a wife.

My Parents-In-Law
It is only customary to thank my new parents-in-law for raising the man of my dreams which is exactly what G is to me. I am thankful you raised a man passionate for God, strong in his values, and fully invested in his relationships. G would not be who he is today without your nurturing, guidance, and love. Besides G, though, I am grateful for the love you have both shown me since the beginning of our relationship. You were my parents before this wedding, and now the government can attest to that sentiment as well!

My Godparents
What. A . God. Send. Seriously! My godparents were completely open to G and I hosting our reception at their farm from the very first message I sent. Even though I didn’t know much past “we want something rustic” and “we’re paying for this out-of-pocket, so inexpensive would be nice” when I first began researching venues, my godparents were more than happy to assist us. As the wedding grew closer, they also helped us with a number of projects to get the reception set-up which we could not be more grateful. Mowing, being present for the tent vendor, allowing us to barn-dive for decorations, etc. G and I could not have pulled our Big Day off remotely close to how wonderful it turned out without you two!

Luke & Leia
Luke and Leia not only stood up with G and I at the altar, but they were our best worker bees. No matter what new project I brought to the table — be it constructing invitations or building a DIY photo booth — these two never complained and only offered more help. As a couple, they’re amazing and as individuals even more so. Leia was the supportive girl friend I needed to get through all my planning breakdowns and to remind me to have fun during it all. Luke was my comic relief (#typical) and calming voice when the nerves finally hit the week-of the wedding. All in all, I don’t think I could have made it through the past few months without you two, so thank you from the very bottom of my heart. Next DQ visit is on me!

My bridesmaids
All of my girls were amazing. All were willing to give advice, share supplies, and provide support whenever it was necessary. I couldn’t have imagined the day without any of you standing beside me, and I am so thankful for your friendship and love.

Our Day-Of Coordinator
A friend from the Winery, our coordinator offered her services graciously the day she found out I was engaged. G and I were floored by her generosity, and honestly cannot imagine how the day would have flowed without her expertise. I’m a very organized woman and I know weddings, but being the bride at this wedding made for a very different experience. Obviously, I could not be at the reception venue early to be sure everything was set and ready for guests’ arrivals. Our coordinator went above and beyond in making sure the reception was absolutely perfect and that the itinerary for the day moved along at the right pace. When its your day, girl, you know I got your back — wine date soon!

Then there are those who helped in such amazingly large ways, and G and I just want to mention you all and how appreciative we are of you:

  • Aunt Patti for your delicious cupcakes — they were so good and the guests all want your recipes!
  • Saki for my “something borrowed”
  • Roxanne (and Bill) for all your help in and out of the kitchen
  • My House Girls for providing much-needed chatter while working on small (but necessary) projects
  • David and Crystal for your loving support and memorable counseling and mentoring
  • Cindy and Steadfast for all your musical abilities
  • All our guests from far and wide who journeyed into the Michigan heat and showed us your love and support

(I know I’m probably forgetting some very important individuals and I apologize — vacation brain is a real thing and I’m still reeling in how much has happened in less than two weeks.)

However, G and I could not be more thankful for everyone who suffered in the heat to make our day the very best ever. If there is one thing I will forever remember about June 16th it will be how loved and supported I felt being surrounded by those family members and friends who are most dear to us. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your continued encouragement and care as G and I move forward into newlywed life.

YOU are what made our day spectacular. 

xoxo,

Women’s Day Retreat of IF:Gathering

It has been almost two months since I left the event industry and began a new career. And I have to say, I’m quite in love with my new arrangement. Not only have I found necessary time for myself and my loved ones, but I have found abundant free time for writing, reading, and experiencing life which means many scheduled posts in the upcoming months. God is good!

When I still have those urges for event planning, though, I am also in very good hands. On March 3rd I was lucky enough to assist in orchestrating an amazing women’s retreat called If:Gathering at my church for 300 ladies passionate for God, strengthening their faith, and performing discipleship. IF’s mission is to equip women with gospel-centered resources, events, and community so they may learn more about who God is and disciple other women. (You can find out more about the organization here.) Talk about an amazingly inspirational day, and some seriously deep thoughts coming from asking “What IF…”

IF began with a heavy discussion on the darkness of Life: doubt. (Literally this was the topic covered minutes into the first speaker’s speech, guys, so talk about a solid foundation for the day’s agenda.) Questions such as “How would you describe the season you’re living?” and “What makes you weak?” were asked. Imagery of sparking fires within ourselves to grow and flourish were mentioned. Each woman’s purpose in Life was explored. And a stirring occurred within me which made me reevaluate a few of the only negative things still hanging around in my life. It was quite the day, friends!

Let me back up a bit though and start from the beginning. The first speaker was a ridiculously motivational woman by the name of Jo Saxton. Jo, while leading IF into the discussion of doubt in our lives’ purposes, created the acronym WEAK. It was following her explanation of the things in our lives which make us WEAK that I began to think of the Worries, Expectations, unhealthy Appetites, and things that Knock me down in my own day-to-day living.

Disappointing those I love was top of my list, followed closely by not meeting the demanding expectations I place on myself and those which I perceive others to place on me. If anyone is their own worst critic, it’s me. Yet when I considered my “Season in Life” I had to raise a brow to how easily Life seems to be moving lately. Perhaps its the removal of harmful relationships, the addition and focus on uplifting friendships, a new outlook on my role in the community, or simply leading a life with an actual direction, but my life really hasn’t seemed much better up to this point.

Though with more internal focus, I had to admit that something still felt out of place in the fullness and positivity I seemed to have found in Life. But what?

I couldn’t play dumb for long.

As Jo continued, any sort of weakness in our lives allows for doubt to trap us and “stick us in the middle.”

I knew exactly what my weakness was — what was keeping me stuck in a place that had a hint of darkness still — and it quickly became apparent that I would be facing my own darkness head-on at IF…

All in all, the day’s first discussion brought a clear picture to mind that I cannot control my circumstances, but I can definitely control my attitude. However, I’m guilty of not always controlling my attitude in a God-pleasing manner. Sarcasm and disconnection have been my first calls to action in the past. Instead, I would like to become more understanding, more patient, and more expansive in all aspects of my life, especially in cases where a trial hits me with full-force. This is something I have been working on and intend to keep growing.

With those thoughts in mind, I traced back to the question, “How would I describe the season I’m living?”

Currently, I would say I’m in a Season of Transition. Life has been continuously changing around me over the past year: a new career, a new marital status, a changing friendship pool, new responsibilities, new community groups, new ideals for every day life. I’ve had to adapt to all these things and am preparing to adapt more in the very near future.

This concept hit me pretty hard at IF though. I anticipated the hit somewhat — I mean, some sort of revelation is supposed to happen at a retreat, right? — but I did not expect to get emotional and tear-up throughout the day. Mostly, I came to grips with the realization that I had lost one key thing within the past year which I never foresaw losing: the monumental relationship I had with my best friend, a girl I viewed as my own blood. That one-on-one girl time of true heart-to-heart talks, late-night wine dates full of ranting and venting, the inside jokes, the many hugs, the laughter, and the carefree silliness that was our relationship. I lost my sister, and I’ve never really come to terms with that loss or mourned her.

IF was the first place I finally let all the emotions felt from that loss out. I relived our parting, our final words to one another, and the aftermath of losing my closest girlfriend. And I openly admitted to myself — as well as to my mother — that I feared I would never find a friendship with another woman that strong again.

It was like a punch to the gut.

But as I was wallowing in that pain, God granted a true blessing to be heard: the next speaker began discussing the passage of Life. She spoke on God choosing the times and seasons of our lives, and the fact that He also gives us the gifts and talents to pass through each of those periods with grace and poise.

Over the past several months I have been holding such sadness and resentment towards my old friend. Yet in the end, that black void has kept me trapped. IF helped release me from my own thoughts and emotions. It allowed me a space to mourn my friendship. It allowed me to grieve.

And it also reminded me that events and other people are outside my control.

I had been telling myself that she made me feel upset, that she had hurt me, that she was to blame. When in actuality, it has been me all along. I allowed that one circumstance to control a part of me and I decided how I felt about that loss and decision to leave a friendship.

There was also the underlying feelings of disappointment and failure in myself. The fear that I can not manage a good friendship and truly make it last. That I had failed as a friend.

Yet just as these self-harming thoughts began to replace those of resentment, the speaker made a statement which brought my attention back into focus:

If something is causing you to sin — as in be angry, anxious, jealous, etc. — then it may be time to back away so you can be set free to run your own race which God has set for you.

There.

THERE!

Another reminder as to why I should be persisting forward without that darkness of grief, resentment, and pain in my life.

Right then and there I was so incredibly thankful I had been lead to IF. I have no doubt that IF was God’s way of tossing the truth in front of me and realigning my thoughts and feelings to Him and full happiness.

IF provided the epiphany that I had a weight dragging me down. That weight was my grief and resentment, and it was holding me back from moving forward towards ultimate success. That weight was stirring inside me, full of anger and depression and self-hatred — all emotions that are not God-driven. And I decided, as I hung my head for the final prayer, that I no longer wanted to carry that weight around with me.

With that resolution, I am moving forward.

I am moving towards my finish line, towards my ultimate success.

Now when I say “ultimate success,” I mean a life that is pleasing and in complete devotion to God. Ultimately, this results in complete happiness and an overall healthy — mentally, emotionally, spiritually — life as well. So what I am moving towards is the greatest goal I can conceivably imagine!

As IF ended, there was more imagery of starting a fire and spreading God’s good news. Though IF’s purpose was to stir passions of discipleship among the women in attendance, for me IF was a well-needed reminder as to the purpose of so much change in my life and a promise that God is working for my best. Perhaps that is my message to fan into flame right now; perhaps this little blog post will help someone else out there who is struggling to understand their current circumstance and needs a little reminder as to why things happen the way they do…

Perhaps, but who am I to say? I’m still struggling myself, friends, but at least now I’ve chosen to move forward and continue on the path God has directed me — it just took a little bit of guidance from some amazing women to get me back on track.

However, if you are someone in a challenging Season of Life and want more guidance, I highly recommend IF and its tools. IF even has a Vimeo channel which houses some inspiring footage. Check it out here!

Then, when you’re ready, I want to ask you to answer the following question as you choose to move forward with your own God-given purpose:

Capture

I still don’t have a concrete answer myself on how I plan to be a flamethrower, but I do feel I’m on the right route by attempting to lose my personal weights in order to run a little bit faster towards the finish. I’m thinking of my journey to find my purpose as my own little marathon training — minus the shin splints and unnecessary crying.

With all this being said, I do have something to say to my old friend: I am sorry.

I am so incredibly sorry for my part in our goodbye… I’m sorry for the way things ended and the hurt felt on both sides.

But more importantly thank you for who you were to me. Though the departing hurt immensely, I have more fond memories of our friendship than damaged ones and those positive moments are what I choose to hold onto from here on out. I miss you, my friend.

And ultimately, I wish you nothing but happiness, good health, and much (much, much, much) love in the future. Sig

In Memory of Denise

It is hard to forget someone who gave you so much to remember.

Today the world lost a special person, my dear friend Denise. We’d been friends since the day we met, only two years ago at a planning meeting for Little Black Dress. I didn’t know then what kind of impression she would make on my life and it is with a very heavy heart that I grieve her loss.

Denise was the type of person who was adored by everyone she met. She had a contagious smile, a loving heart, a fighter’s strength, and a glorious soul. She was never more than a phone call away, even with her crazy schedule of juggling motherhood, work, and being a breast cancer awareness advocate. There is no way to fully express her impact in the community and in my own life.

This past Friday I was blessed to have spent time with Denise over one of our shared passions — wine. During those few hours we shared together, Denise offered me a compliment on how inspired she was with all my “running success”. Thinking back, I have a heavy heart that I was not able to verbally share with her how inspirational she has been in my life and thank her for the many moments of wisdom and advice she has offered me.

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This is something I will always regret, not telling her that she was more than just a good friend to me, but also a mentor. Every moment spent with her urged me to be a better person. As one of the numerous sentiments said on her Facebook profile, “This vibrant woman taught me so much about living life, caring for one’s self, and caring for others.” This says it simply and clearly; there are few people who made a better role model than Denise.

A breast cancer survivor and advocate, Denise was one of the strongest women I have ever met. She put her entire heart into every aspect of her life. From planning social events to kick cancer’s butt to sharing her infectious laugh on the local radio morning show to being an awesome mother to her three kids, Denise was a superstar. She was the very definition of “inspiration”.

Only yesterday I received an email from Denise that not only showed her energy and fun-loving spirit, but also demonstrated one of her passions: “Not a day goes by that I don’t think about the fact I had breast cancer…not one single day. (even though I was diagnosed 8 years ago) That’s probably because despite the fact you can beat the disease, it leaves behind scars, not only on your body but your mind.  Thinking about my cancer journey daily isn’t bad, it’s just become part of the routine…like brushing your teeth, putting on perfume and picking out what bad-ass pair of shoes you want to wear that day to go take on the world!” The tragedy of her loss has sent shock waves throughout the entire Michiana community.

For someone who fought so hard to make sure she was present to watch her children grow up, and in turn fought for others to also have that same opportunity, her death is crushingly depressing. It is confusing. And it is unfair.

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As Denise’s family and friends begin their journeys of grief, its difficult to know how to move forward. It’s difficult to imagine a world without this warrior in it. There will always be a crater in our lives where Denise once stood, but perhaps with thoughts of her laughter and good works we may attempt to find understanding in this stunning event.

Even with the imminent sadness, it is heartwarming to know that the world is a better place having known Denise. So many lives were touched by this wonderful woman, and I hope her passionate work fighting against cancer is carried on by those she leaves behind. Many prayers to her friends, family, and especially her children during this hard time.

Toasting a sweet white in your name, my friend. You will truly be missed.

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