An Assortment of Thoughts II.

An English bookshop across the street from our hotel in Paris.

This song: Hoping by X Ambassadors. Is uplifting without being sugary sweet. The melody has me humming along. Particularly this: It all feels broken, but keep your hope alive. The story goes, the band wrote this song after the election.


The top knot: is it a real style – or is it just a way to wear your hair when you haven’t washed it in a week (asking for a friend).


I’m obsessed with all Audiobooks – they have been my saving grace with packing. Currently Googling: How to Become an Audiobook Narrator because wouldn’t that just be the best? Although, I read that it takes about 2 hours to every 1 hour read aloud, in addition to the time the author has to pre-read and check pronunciations and then edit later… but still… it is reading aloud for a career! Don’t fret, I’m happy to share my findings:


The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson. Read it instead of Small Great Things immediately. I’m obsessed by the quirky characters and profound lines that caught me off-guard. It didn’t hurt that I love the South, and “got” the many references to Baptist churches, cookouts, and small towns.


The latest thing that reminds me I’m actually an adult: buying a mattress.


A story: Last week, I was walking Franklin (who is often on high-alert just in general). All of a sudden, he tenses on the leash and backs away from the woman further up along the sidewalk. “C’mon, buddy,” I tell him and tug him along. Suddenly, the woman – whose boldness in pairing striped harem pants and polka dotted shirt I was admiring –  turns around and yells at us. Shocked I stand to the side, and Franks skids away. She then opens an umbrella and jabs it toward Franklin screaming “Get away! Get away!” Startled Franklin hides behind my legs and we jog a wide circle around her while she continues to yell. I shout a warning to a blonde-haired woman and her white dog ahead.

Today, I found out the polka-dotted lady subsequently slapped the blonde and poked the dog with her umbrella.

Turns out, sometimes dogs have a sixth sense. They can predict behavior better than we give them credit for.


Abraham’s Hope as Faith.

From our hike to Lac Blanc from Chamonix-Mont Blanc, France.

“In hope [Abraham] believed against hope.”
– Romans 4:18

I love this phrasing. According to the Greek commentary, one is an objective hope (the impossibility that Abraham could be a father of many nations) and a subjective hope (faith that God would fulfill his promise).

PS: More updates and photos on all the travels to come.

Running Moods.

HIKINGAs someone who is easing myself back into running after being out for a while. And, as someone who is consistently dragging a 55-pound dog behind me on the leash (he thinks 3 miles is a marathon), I’ve been needing some audible motivation. Different days call for different mood music. And I don’t always know quite what mood I’m in before I run, so I end up changing the songs quite a bit before I find that “just right” tune. But I’m always looking for new music. So I’m sharing some of my fave playlists for running (or working out!), and hope you’ll share your motivational music, too!


  1. Walking on Broken Glass by Annie Lennox
  2. This is How We Do It by Montell Jordan
  3. Homegrown by Zach Brown Band
  4. Drops of Jupiter by Train
  5. Fast Car by Tobtok
  6. You Are the Best Thing by Ray LaMontagne
  7. Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Deep Something Blue
  8. September by Earth, Wind & Fire


  1. Love Yourself by Justin Bieber
  2. 7 Years by Lukas Graham
  3. Who Says by John Mayer
  4. Gone, Gone, Gone by Phillip Phillips
  5. When We Were On Fire by James Bay
  6. Home by JohnnySwim
  7. Take a Bow by Rihanna
  8. Treat You Better by Shawn Mendes
  9. Wake Me Up by Avicii


  1. Work This Body by Walk the Moon
  2. Sail by AWOLNATION
  3. Can’t Hold Us by Macklemore
  4. Can’t Stop the Feeling by Justin Timberlake
  5. Body Like a Backroad by Sam Hunt
  6. Fight Song by Rachel Platten
  7. Testify by NEEDTOBREATHE
  8. On Top of the World by Imagine Dragons


  1. One Night Town by Ingrid Michaelson
  2. Brother by NEEDTOBREATHE
  3. Ship to Wreck by Florence + The Machine
  4. Hold Back the River by James Bay
  5. Hello by Adele
  6. Sons & Daughters by Allman Brown
  7. Take a Moment by Will Reagan
  8. All the Pretty Girls by Kaleo


  1. Soul on Fire by Third Day
  2. Old Church Choir by Zach Williams
  3. When My Days are Done by Green River Ordinance
  4. Farther Along by Josh Garrels
  5. From This Valley by The Civil Wars
  6. Head to the Heart by United Pursuit
  7. Set a Fire by Will Reagan
  8. This is Living by Hillsong Young & Free


  1. Shut Up and Dance by Walk the Moon
  2. Geronimo by Sheppard
  3. Domino by Jessie J
  4. Closer by Chainsmokers
  5. Homegrown by Zach Brown Band
  6. Sight of the Sun by fun.
  7. Pompeii by Bastille
  8. Brighter Than the Sun by Colbie Caillat
  9. Here Comes the Sun by The Beatles
  10. Classic by MKTO

Recent Happy Diversions. 5.17.17.

It has been a while, friends. I’m currently off today because of a variety of India-preparatory appointments (could only get a doctor appointment today this week!). So, in an effort to catch you up on life lately, I’ll share a few things that are making me happy – or that are occupying my thoughts. You’ll also find some cute outtakes from our weekend with Franklin’s best Corgi friend, Huey:


  1. Allman Brown. I love starting out with music to listen to while you read. I don’t know much about Allman Brown, except that he is on Spotify and has  a lovely voice and haunting lyrics. I can’t stop listening to all of his songs. Particularly these:
  2. Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst. This book is saving my life. I’m in a book study with some very honest and sensitive ladies, and it is changing my heart to view myself as loved, whole, full. I’m also working to remind myself of this everyday so I start off with a cup full. I’m not great at it yet, but I’m glad to be focusing on it and to have women who share the same struggles.
  3. Our “California Salad” invention. Bryan and I had the most delicious (filling) creation while visiting Laguna Beach earlier this year, and I’m not obsessed with recreating it. You don’t need precise measurements, but if you throw the following ingredients together you will be full of happiness and summery thoughts:
    • arugula
    • basil (lots of it!)
    • rice
    • feta cheese (or goat cheese)
    • chopped apple (I recommend pink lady)
    • prosciutto (this is KEY!)
    • dates (optional)
    • lemon vinaigrette (lemon + EVOO + S&P)
  4. Being generous with “taking days.” I’m usually a very strict “must-not take any days off,” person, but as I grow older and you find it’s more difficult to reschedule a doctor’s appointment, or a conference call, I’ve decided to just use the 7 extra days I have before the end of the year, and not let myself feel bad about it!
  5. India Pants. aka, Harem Pants. They are just so comfortable. And I’m growing more comfortable wearing them in public. They slightly look like pajamas, so it’s a struggle against feeling self-conscious. Wearing them has the added benefit of reminding me of those adorable kiddos and all the curry-jasmine memories, which I love. Speaking of, have I shared that I’m going back this summer? In a month, actually! I’m sure you’ll be hearing more about this.
  6. Rose. Just so refreshing.
  7. The SUNSHINE. All the sunlight, the early morning sunrise, the sun shining long past 8pm. I love all of it and it makes me feel energized, happy, focused. I will forever stand by the idea that sunlight is essential to happiness (so long as there’s a bit of rain mixed in).
  8. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell on Audiobooks. File under, Classics I haven’t yet read. This has made walking Franklin about 10x’s better (and I’ll walk for twice as long – so we both win).


Rejection as a Liability.

“Rejection isn’t just an emotion we feel.


“It’s a message that’s sent to the core of who we are, causing us to believe lies about ourselves, others, and God.


“We connect an event from today to something harsh someone once said.


“That person’s line becomes a LABEL
That label becomes a LIE,
And the lie becomes a LIABILITY in how we think about ourselves and interact in every future relationship.”


– Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst

{unconditional} Love Begats {unconditional} Love.

“The spiritual man can love only when he knows himself already loved IN his self-preoccupation.

“Only if man finds that he is already accepted in his sin and sickness, can he accept his own self-preoccupation as it is; and only THEN can his psychic economy be opened toward others, to accept them as they are – not in order to save himself, but because he doesn’t need to save himself.

“We love only because we are first loved.”

– John Cobb, The Structure of Christian Existence (as quoted in Abba’s Child)

The POWER of Redemption. 

“No,” they said. “We’re not here for redemption. We’re not here for revenge of last year. We are a different team.”

And yet, the reporters kept asking the Tar Heels if their efforts were founded on a desire to reclaim last year’s loss. To redeem a tragedy. Because that’s the story their audience wanted to hear. That’s the story that resonates with every human; a tale as old as time.

I rolled my eyes at the questions. Focus on this year! I wanted to shout. The players have nothing to say. I even doubted this year’s basketball team was focused on last year until I that heard one player kept a photo of the loss as his phone screen saver, and a group text message between the players was titled “Redemption.” And even then, I thought those were just like motivational quotes to keep them going. The way they talked, they were focused on just this year. But that’s the thing about redemption. You can’t can’t really talk about it until it happens. And for the Tar Heels this year, it did. And then, I saw the video (above) of the team’s celebration after winning the championship in Phoenix. I saw Isaiah Hicks and Theo Pinson, and Justin Jackson, and on their faces, written in Arial Bold was: disbelief, and raw, joyous relief, their minds focused internally, their eyes unable to take in the crowd or the stadium, or the confetti, and it struck me: This team wanted this year’s win because they knew last year’s loss. They wanted redemption. And this, trying again and doing things differently, is what it means to be human.

Redemption is a deeply felt experience, because it is a victory that carries, alongside the shine of triumph, the not-yet-completely-healed scars of failure. The redeemed know what it means to come so very close to victory and yet miss the mark, and they carry this with them in their journey.

The journey of the Carolina basketball team through the NCAA tournament this season was a raw emotional experience for me in many ways. I became so invested in the games, I felt my heart palpitating at times. At the risk of idealizing this team of young players (for certainly that is the risk of loving college basketball), I want to hypothesize that 2017 is the year of the sweetest Carolina victory. Every time I watch the video above I tear up. The hurt of last year is written across their joy. It is more real because they know what it feels like to lose. Unlike the child who gets everything she wants, this grand gift is not taken for granted. It is a product of hard work that could have failed once more.

Redemption is hardly a new narrative for anything, but it is the greatest story there is.

I’ve felt my own share of redemption moments in my life. My first year of undergrad, I couldn’t run a 5k without stopping. I ended my college career by running a half-marathon. And, perhaps what I struggle with the most now, is my self esteem, not valuing myself the way God sees me. I believe my friends see me in the way I see myself (read: not good enough), and I’m working to change that. I may not be putting in days in the weight room, but prayer, The Bible, books, and encouraging words from strong friends are strengthening me for sanctification. I know I’ve already been redeemed.

The Tar Heels’ failure last year was broadcast across the country – they hardly had the choice to keep it a secret. But that publicity could only call attention to the passion and drive behind this entire season. And now it feels worthwhile. Hiding mistakes behind perfection means the world misses out on the sweetest victory. Pain, hurts, scratches, injuries make victory that much more powerful and well-earned. We are beautiful when we overcome. Perfection is boring, unrelatable, and syrupy sweet like raw sugar. Redemptive victory is the complex, multilayered sweetness of honey, composed of its surrounds. It lasts longer, it tastes of its history.

It is what dredges up deeply relatable emotion in me.

It is what makes me want to throw up a Joel Berry-bicep reading, “Believe.” We should all believe that we are strong enough, good enough, and capable of experiencing redemption. We are never too far, too beaten, too hopeless. Christ debased himself in human form to redeem what he saw worthy: us. And we are stronger and our love for Him and for each other should be that much sweeter because we know what we had been and what we could now be, but are most assuredly not. He lives in us and we are no longer our failures.

Redemption. It is so sweet.


PS: And, if I may posit, there is something to be said about sharing these emotions collectively; though our redemption stories are individual, catharsis comes when we’re heard and loved.