Saturday, February 27, 2016

simplicity 2016: grandpa charlie

I collect grandpas.

Now, before you get all creeped out and envision a basement full of old men, smoking and listening to jazz (which would be amazing), let me explain.

Almost everywhere I go, I run into cute, wrinkly, grandpa-esque old men. Who love to chat and tell stories about life. 

Sometimes you get a creepy one, but usually they are adorable and precious.

And most of the time I view my encounters with them as little reminders of my grandpa.

He passed away a few years ago, but man, he was the sunshine on a cloudy day for me.

We always had such a great time together. 

I'd make him blush whenever he'd ask about my love life. I'd say, "Grandpa, I can't get married yet. I haven't met anyone as nice as you."

He get embarrassed and bashful, while beaming a little bit. He thought I was joking, I wasn't. He was that wonderful.

Anyone that kisses your hand each time you get an answer right in "Wheel a Fortune" is a keeper.

For some reason I just missed him a lot today. I also kept seeing grandpas that reminded me of him. So that didn't help.

On my way to the gym, I popped into Half-Price Books to look at their records. 

I will forever be poor, simply due to my music and book obsession. 

I found some good ones and went to check out.

Standing behind me in line was a man who looked to be in his 80s. Blue collared shirt, gray sweater vest, black beret and a permeating haze of pretty good cologne.

I turned and smiled. Because I saw him trying to see what records I was buying. No discretion either. Just all up over my shoulder.

I turned and pointed them in his direction so he could see, and he said, "Is that a real Glenn Miller recording? The Mills Brothers? Beach Boys? You've got good taste!"

Why thank you. I do. My dad and grandpa would be proud.

But, it didn't end there. And that's what I love about these moments.

The story was just getting started. I learned all about what his hobbies are and what his wife does for a living. 

I also learned they have an apartment in...Paris...

He talked about music and gave me a full history lesson about clarinets. Specifically the man who was the instrument repairman for the Glenn Miller Orchestra. 

It was delightful. 

And hilarious. Because I didn't say more than twenty words. And I didn't ask a single question. 

He was so excited to share this information with someone, that when it was his turn to pay, he was throwing change around and whipping hundred dollar bills out of his wallet like they were nothing.

Calm down Grandpa Charlie. You're going to get mugged. 

He was so delightful and I'm so glad I stopped to listen. 

For as much as I love technology and the perks it offers, I find myself nostalgic for a time I never knew when I spend time with Charlie's generation. 

Hours spent on Google will never give you the education or experience that ten minutes in a bookstore with Grandpa Charlie will. 

After we both left the shop, I got in my car and cried for a minute.

Because I miss my Grandpa Wally. 

I miss his laugh and his jokes and just the chance to sit with him and learn.

And though I can't sit with him today, I'm going to run into the gym, get my sweat on and then head home to listen to my "great taste in music." Because it helps me feel close to him. 

I wasn't looking for a moment to point me towards simplicity today. But it kind of creeped up on me anyway. And it was lovely.


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

simplicity 2016: tshirts and chuck taylors

Yesterday I had a conversation.

It went like this....

Me: Hey Ellie, how was your day? Amazing?

Ellie: It really was! I started my internship and it was great.

Me: That's awesome.

Ellie: How was your day?

Me: Honestly? My day was great!

Ellie: What made it great?

Me: Well, I'm wearing my favorite shirt and my favorite shoes and my favorite pants. My hair looks pretty legit... Oh, and I ate cake for lunch."


When I was in the 3rd grade, I had this sweater. It was amazing. Machine woven polyester, covered in what we're supposed to be patterns of Yorkshire terriers. This sweater was my jam. And I absolutely HAD to wear it with my pleated plaid skirt. Because how else would you wear it??

I could do anything in this outfit. Talk about confidence for dayz... So of course I wore it three out of the five days in the school week. Because #homeschooled.

I was also completely oblivious to what anyone else thought, and had not yet had to start wearing deodorant. So clothes went farther between washes...


A few weeks ago I watched a YouTube video of a little girl named Jessica. She is standing in front of a mirror and shouting at the top of her lungs all the things she loves about her life.


Some of these things she loves so much she has to mention them twice. And even three times. It was amazing and I think Jessica and I should be friends.

What makes the perfect day? Is it everything going the way we want? Is it being surrounded by people we love? It is never having to worry about anything?

Personally, I think it is a little bit different for everyone.

For Jessica it was shouting personal affirmations at herself in the mirror and then continuing to shout aforementioned affirmations as she ran down the hallways in her favorite pajamas.

For 8-year old me, it was wearing my favorite sweater every day to give me confidence. Because school is fun, but 9-year olds are scary.

Last night I was reminded I don't need a lot to be happy and joyful. 

Slowing down isn't always possible. And simplicity isn't always the first option we have available.

But it was a good reminder that sometimes it only takes a pair of purple chucks and a slice of cake to make a perfect day.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

simplicity 2016: pray for sunsets

I love prayer.

I love the peace that surrounds me when I am deep in it.

I love the mystical sense of wonder that fills me when it's taking place.

I love knowing that Jesus hears me and honestly gives two craps about what I have to say.

I also love the all consuming feeling of giddiness that fills me up when a super specific prayer gets answered.

On Monday morning, I drove a van full of people to Rockaway Beach, OR. Which by itself was loads of fun. But the amount of precipitation that fell from the sky while I was driving, was not.

Now don't get me wrong, I love a good rain shower. When I am inside. On a couch. With a warm blanket and a hot cup of coffee.

I do not enjoy driving in it.

Especially when I am surrounded by semi trucks and looping through windy roads.

Because I choose life. 

It then continued to pour off and on for the next two days.

Until Wednesday night.

But wait, let me back up for a minute.

On Monday afternoon, I spoke a super specific prayer for our group and our trip. And at the end of the prayer I said, 

"Jesus, can you please give us the most beautiful sunset ever on Wednesday night before we leave?"

Fast Forward to Wednesday...

Wednesday was a rough day. Actually, let me correct that. Wednesday was a day I probably could've used an N-A-P.

I'm not usually a crabby person, but as my aunt would say, "You probably just had your panties in a wad about something."

I was a little tired, my legs were sore from hiking, I was probably hangry and just needed a good hug.

So while I marinated in my little mood, I completely forgot about my prayer for a sunset.

Thankfully I had told my friend Melissa about it, because around 6pm on Wednesday evening, she grabs my arm and says, 

"Elizabeth! It's your sunset!!!"

Everything shifted in that moment.

We all ran to get our jackets, shoes and cameras. Then, we took off towards the beach.

I honestly don't know if I can put into words how unbelievably happy I was in that moment.

It was like everything else stopped and it was just me, God and the sunset.

Magical. Simply magical.

Then Jesus and I had some real talk. Because that's what happens when you stand on a beach in the middle of winter and stare at a sunset that absolutely blows your mind.

I don't know if other people hear God or even how He communicates to them. But with me it's pretty direct, a little sassy and slightly uncomfortable. All in a good way.

His words to me that night on the beach went as follows:

"When you asked Me, I gave you a denim couch. I gave you a free piano. I gave you a place to live, a dream job and NOW I have shifted the heavens for you to create this gorgeous masterpiece. 

So, when are you going to start asking me for what you REALLY want?"

Ouch. Don't hold back or anything, okay? #hateitwhenthathappens

He was right though. 

I haven't been asking for the things I really REALLY want. I've been asking, but there has always been a hesitation and a pause. 

Because sometimes asking is hard and uncomfortable. And even though I shouldn't, I still feel some shame when I ask for big things.

However, I believe in the power of prayer and I believe that my Jesus hears me. 

So I did it. I asked. And I am going to keep doing it. Because it works. Scary? Oh yes. Worth it? You bet.

So pray big.

Pray really big.

Pray for sunsets.


Friday, February 12, 2016

simplicity 2016: community = thai food

I say often, usually as a joke, that I eat way too much Thai food.

Which is probably true.

I also probably don't care.

Yeah.... I don't care.

Sure, I could say that for "simplicity's" sake I should probably be making dinner from scratch. At home. For around $2/plate. #beingfrugal

But, I'm finding that simplicity isn't just about saving money or cooking at home.

Sometimes it's about choosing to do things a different way because you want something greater, better or different.

So tonight I went and ordered some takeout Thai after spending two hours with some of the best girls in the world.

I walked into the restaurant and waited at the counter for my order. While I was waiting, a lady walked in and stood next to me. 

I smiled at her and she smiled back, while sheepishly saying, "You know you order out too much when they know your name AND they notice you are ordering something different when you call ahead..."

If she hadn't looked so embarrassed I would've laughed out loud. 

Instead, I reassured her that it wasn't bad at all and that it's kind of nice when people know your name.

Mostly to justify my own Pad thai obsession.

But then I paused, and she said the very words running through my head.

"Yeah. It is nice. Because it shows you have a community. When people know you."

I smiled as she walked away and thought about how very true that is.

We live in a world where you can order and receive your food without even having to communicate with another human being.

You can do all your shopping from behind a computer screen.

You can build an entire freaking farm without even breaking a sweat.

We have totally lost the art of creating community.

But some people and some groups are finding a way to get it back. 

A year and a half ago, I never would have thought community would mean so much to me.

And as sit here eating my delicious Thai food (which is not a Level 2 spice by the way #liars), I'm basking in the warmth that still lingers in my house from having my community come hang out.

It will embarrass them if they read it, but Erika, Alana, Alix and Courtney are gems in my heart bracelet and I adore theme

Also not sure if heart bracelet is a thing. But it's allegorical and pretty and I like it.

So get over it. 

And even though it's also my job, I can't imagine a family or community more wonderful than Serve Seattle.

I'm thankful for the simplicity (see what I did there Cody Pearce?) with which Jesus reminded me that community is not just within the four walls of the church. 

But that it is also at the gas station, at the grocery store, and on the empty bench at the Thai place where creepy old grandpas hit on you while you wait for your fresh rolls and peanut sauce. 


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

simplicity 2016: lent

I will be the first to admit I don't know much about Lent or the spiritual history behind this practice.

If you asked me a week ago what I thought it was, my answer would be as follows:

"Lent is a Catholic/religious holiday that involves fasting."

And that's about all I know.

In a nutshell, my definition is accurate, but I know there is more to it than that.

So as part of my simplicity challenge, I am choosing to participate in Lent.

In my head I totally thought that Lent was only for a week, so naturally I was not concerned about it at all.

Nope, it's 40 DAYS....

(I have so much to learn...)

Since I am in unfamiliar territory, I will keep my intentions short and attainable.

I truly want this to be a time where Jesus has full creative freedom in my life to teach me lessons I've been too "busy" to learn.

From what I have read so far, the habit of fasting for Lent is intended for the practicing of self discipline in preparation for one of the most holy of days - Easter.

And while fasting is usually connected to food and water, I have something else that is a bigger distraction in my life.


I cringe even writing that, because I don't want to be that person.

I don't want to be the person who comes home every night with the intention of reading a mountain of books, only to be distracted by the quippy comebacks on Parks and Rec.

To be fair, they are pretty amazing. Not the point of this at all, but still...

If I am honest with myself, television is a HUGE distraction in my life.

A distraction from my goals and from the opportunity to be alone with my thoughts and with God.

I mentioned in a previous post, cutting my technologyusage way back was actually quite wonderful.

But then I got lazy and un-motivated because it got hard. And I am a creature of habit.

So, in the spirit of self-discipline and a heart to learn more about Jesus, here are my 3 commitments for Lent:

1) no tv during the week (exceptions might be made if I'm with friends, but no watching alone)
2) no social media after 8pm (this includes any app that isn't texting or making phone calls)
3) follow a 40 day Bible reading plan (leaning towards a plan from the SheReadsTruth app)

While I know fasting is typically private and you shouldn't talk about it, for accountabilities sake I'm going to blog about my experience and hopefully open the door for others to share what they are learning and what God is showing them.

Nervous and excited about the next 40 days, but also stoked to see where I am at the end!


Sunday, February 7, 2016

simplicity 2016: a free shirt

Back in October I went to a staff meeting and got a free shirt.

Actually, I got two shirts. But I only kept one. Because it was soft. And the other one was scratchy.

Due to the softness of the shirt I kept, I sleep in it. And it's amazing.

Totally not the point of this post, but I decided to tell you anyway.

You're welcome.

On this shirt, there is a fairly creative logo of blue hipster frames and a scripture reference. Followed by the word "zealot."

And if it weren't for the aforementioned softness of this shirt, I probably wouldn't have kept this shirt either.

Because the word zealot makes me uncomfortable.

It makes me uncomfortable because of the picture I paint in my head.

The picture in my head is of a scruffy old guy with a sandwich board that reads "everyone is going to hell."

My picture is of someone whose beliefs are so ingrained that the feelings and thoughts of other people don't matter at all.

And I don't like that picture.

But if I hear the word zeal, my picture takes a 180 degree turn.

The picture in my head then transforms into a blonde haired, blue eyed girl with a flower crown in her hair, running through a field of daisies, toward a basketful of puppies.

And that's frigging adorable.

On this shirt, underneath the word zealot is the reference Matthew 25.

And for almost I have had this shirt and never looked up the reference.

So today I did.

And now I'm even more confused that I was before.

Which isn't necessarily a terrible thing. 

Confusion prompts me to ask questions and learn. 

To seek the answers for the questions that are constantly pinging around inside my head.

The confusion lies in the type of people described in this chapter. I won't go into a deep explanation, but basically there were two types of people.

Those who were prepared and those who were in the process of preparing.

Neither group was loud, arrogant, rude or obnoxious.

They weren't shoving a message down anyone's throat.

They were simply going about that which they felt called to do with dignity, intentionality and integrity.

They were being faithful with what they had and happy in how they were living out their purpose. 

So while I'm not quite ready to call myself a zealot, I do want to live my life with zeal and joy.

I want to be purposeful and focused with what I have and what I feel called to do.

And I want to do it while wearing my new shirt.

Because it's soft.