Wednesday, February 14, 2018

NCIS: The TV World Connection

There might be only a few TV/Movie loving people out there who will understand this post. And that's okay...this one if for you!

Everyone these days is talking about the TV show called "This Is Us". I am hooked on this show as well. It's in its 2nd season and I think of all the episodes, there have only been 3 where I haven't cried. This drama is deep and was filmed in such a great way that it touches every viewer is some way. The title "This is Us" is talking about the Pearson family and their life...but it could also mean "This is Us" as any family in America. Families that have ups and downs; tragedies and addictions, but love each other in a unique and beautiful way. I don't mind TV shows that make me cry, in fact, sometimes it's nice to have a reason to let the tears flow, you know?

As much as I like "This is Us", there is another TV show that currently has me captivated, and yet at the same time dreading the day where I catch up to current day (thanks Netflix). This show is called NCIS (Navy Criminal Investigative Service). It's a crime show. There are a million out there, but there's something about this one. I've been watching the live seasons of NCIS for the last few years, and the show is mostly designed to be a different story; a different crime to solve each week. Unlike "This is Us", you can jump in to NCIS at any time and not be lost. So that is what I did, until recently when I decided to go back to the beginning and watch the entire (15 seasons) show in order. What I found is that the story line of the core cast is incredibly rich and you get to the point where you feel like you are part of their family. Now that I know this group of people like their my friends and I'm (emotionally) invested in their lives, I find myself both excited to go home and watch more episodes and yet sad that I'm running out of episodes to watch. Don't judge me.

It's funny because I don't relate to these characters (yes, I understand they are characters and not real people) in the same way I relate to This is Us. I'm not from a military family. I feel no need to go into law enforcement. I didn't have a bad childhood. I have no daddy issues (My dad will be happy to hear that). But yet, there is something special about the relational dynamics of this group of co-workers. The team leader, Gibbs, often has to fight for his team and explain why they should not be split up. Because they often have their lives on the line, they have to trust each other completely to have one another's back. And yet, they find ways to use humor and lighthearted banter to lift each other up. The psychology side of me is fascinated, yet also fully pulled in to the emotions of this group.

I applaud the acting of these men and women. They have succeeded in making me as the viewer feel a part of their world. To cry with them and agonize with them. My heart breaks when theirs does, and I laugh along with them. After watching it now from the beginning, I understand how they have made it through 15 seasons without being canceled. It's not a flashy show, and there's no overt sexual encounters like most TV shows these days feel they must have. They simply have been successful at making the viewer (me at least) feel like I want to be part of their world.

McGee has always been my favorite character. He's smart in that computer geeky kind of way. He's picked on as the "probie" yet confident and understated. Most people probably gravitate towards DiNozzo as their favorite. He's charismatic, outgoing, and always cracking jokes. He's never been my favorite character, nor his partner Ziva. But something changed when I watched their story from the beginning. Because they were good for each other. Independent in their own ways, strong, a bit annoying to us (the viewer) and to each other. But over the years as they learned to trust each other, and as we watched how their connection grew, it was easy to find myself rooting for them when their relationship turned romantic (in a subtle way). You just knew, particularly with DiNozzo that his life became better. And that look he gives heart broke into a thousand pieces. To have someone look at you like Spoiler Alert...they don't end up happily ever after. But you know their lives were forever changed by their love for each other. If those two actors never dated in real life...they are incredibly gifted actors.

So I have no real specific point to this post. I guess I just want to capture the moment, and to dream a little about love and life, with the help of a TV show.

Words Matter

Today is Valentine's Day. Surprisingly, it's been a good day. If you've known me for any length of time, you already know I've never been a fan of this "love" day. There are many ways you can "make lemonade" with this day as a single person; calling it "Gal-entine's Day", "Love Day", "Friend Day", etc...but none of that really ever works when you feel alone.

I promise this gets happy in a moment.

I am growing as a person...this year I wore pink instead of my usual black.

Seriously though...

I've had a relationship with Christ since I was 9 years old, and am secure in my relationship with Him. Not perfect, but secure. In the past, Valentine's Day has also been a day of guilt as others have told me if I was really strong in my faith, I wouldn't feel loneliness because I have God to fill that need. So, the guilt placed on me has actually compounded by distaste for the day.

Another year has gone by, and I'm still single, and this still is not my favorite day, but God gave me a little gift this year. Well, maybe a couple.

The first is a knowing in my spirit that my feeling are okay and that I don't have to feel guilty that my heart desires relationship. While I am content in my singleness (finally) and I am excited for my future whether I ever get married or not; I believe I was created to love and be loved. Feeling lonely sometimes or wanting to share my life with another human does not take away from my relationship with God. He created me to be who I am; and he created me to value true love and to desire genuine connection. I'm totally fine with taking just a little bit of time to eat (a lot of) chocolate and wallow just a little. As long as I get up tomorrow and know that God has a purpose for me and I move forward knowing that life is meant to be experienced no matter what part of the journey I am on.

The second gift was a bit subconscious until a co-worker pointed it out in connection to the day. I've been on a bit of a cleaning spree this last month. I finally hit a breaking point with the clutter in my work world. So I cleaned up my email box with the intention of beginning a new time/project management process (I'm optimistic it will work) and I'm cleaning out bins and drawers.

Today I got to the desk drawer where all the things that I no longer have room to display on my cubical walls go to rest. There are past pictures of family and friends, mementos from events I've been a part of, and encouragement notes I've received from co-workers or volunteers that I've worked with. Reading through these notes became the gift today. Love comes in many different ways. I am incredibly "lucky", if you believe in luck, to have met and become friends with some of the most amazing people through my job. I needed that reminder today. These are people that challenge me, encourage me, accept me, respect me, and they are people who are on this special journey of faith with me in ways not everyone would understand. What a special blessing. I have been at the same organization for 13 years, so I don't know what it's like other places, but if I took a poll, I bet I would find it is rare to be able to say that you are loved by your co-workers.

The most special note I found was from one of the volunteers I used to lead, it was dated 2013 (5 years ago). She chose to share with me some thought she wrote down after her very first day as a volunteer and what it meant to her to have been chosen to serve in ministry with us. The day she emailed it to me, she wrote me a note saying she was sharing this with me because she knows there will be days that are hard and days where it is easy to forget our purpose. I know that it was a relevant message on the day she sent it to me...and it remains relevant today, 5 years later.

If you don't think your words matter to people, or if you are questioning sending that encouragement to someone today, please don't let anything stop you. We all know that words have power and that the"sticks and stones" phrase is a joke. Choose to be someone who encourages others. Choose to be someone who is positive and loving. I am so thankful to the people in my life who have chosen to share notes, emails, and words of encouragement with me.

It may even bring light to someone on their least favorite holiday.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

A Year in the Life


Time sure goes by fast! It's now been a whole year since I've written anything. Life has been...well there's really not just one word to describe what the last year has been like.

The highlights:

1) Last March I got a promotion at work. I'm so thankful and pretty honored, but so far it has been the most difficult work adjustment I've ever had. I always enjoy a challenge, and this has certainly been one. Learning how to balance supervising co-workers, managing a couple hundred volunteers, leading the upgrade of two totally separate ministry tools, making decisions and offering input for the future of the ministry. Some days I feel as though I've grown in leaps and bounds, other days I feel like an utter failure. But through it all I have seen the faithfulness of God as well as the love and support of friends and co-workers.

2) Last April I moved into my own apartment after becoming debt free. I have loved having my own space and the ability to have friends and family over. In September my apartment was broken into and my television was stolen. It could have been a lot worse, I am thankful I wasn't home and that they didn't take any else. But the break in itself caused a feeling of vulnerability whenever I am home and for that reason it's been a bit frustrating. Your home is supposed to be your sanctuary away from the stress of life. It is not supposed to be a place of fear. So, now that my lease it up, I will be moving in just a couple weeks to an area of town that makes me feel more safe and up to the third floor where I will once again be able to throw open the windows and enjoy the sunshine.

3) In April of last year I also took my first trip, as an adult, to Boston, MA. I was born there so I've been in the past, but I hadn't seen the city since I was about 10 years old. The trip was amazing! We (my friend Melody and I) saw a Red Sox game in Fenway Park, a lifelong dream of mine come true! We walked the Freedom Trail and toured Old North Church and Paul Revere's house. We had lunch at Cheers and walked through Boston Common. We toured the grounds of Harvard and took a trolley tour. It was a whirlwind of 3 days, but one of the best trips of my life. (Many thanks to my Aunt and Uncle that let us stay with them for free!) Since we drove right through the state of MA to get there, I also got to show Melody where I grew up! Since I moved away from MA when I was 10, she's probably the only friend I have who I've been able to do the whole "this is where I lived, went to school, the playground where I fell off a slide and cut my forehead open" know the important memories. One item off my bucket list complete.

4) The best church I've ever been a part of fell apart. As tough as my new job has been, this development was the hardest thing I experienced in the last year. I didn't know that events that were totally out of my control could break my heart so completely. I've debated whether I should write about this, which is probably the real reason I haven't written in a year. But it is a significant marker in my life and so I mention it briefly because it fills my thoughts often. My previous posts have probably shown how important my church family has been to me. This church was really the first time I truly felt completely at home; with a church family that understood me and accepted me as I am, yet also challenged me to do things outside of my comfort zone so that I could grow. I learned how to step outside myself and serve others whether the homeless, those in drug/alcohol treatment, or those just coming out of human trafficking. I learned I could use my gifts, like singing, for more than just Sunday morning; that there are lots of ways to minister to people with music. As someone who often feels out of place in many social situations, at my church and with my church family, I felt completely okay being me. While I've stayed in touch with several people from my church since it dissolved in December, I already miss what was. While God could surprise me, I have a hard time believing I will ever find anything like it again. Usually I believe that the end of something brings us to even greater things. I'm still struggling to convince myself this is the case here. And while I'm talking a lot about myself since this blog is primarily about me, I am also heart broken for others who were impacted even more than me. I know I still have more to learn, I know God is not surprised my anything and has a great plan for me. I continue to pray about what that plan is.

That is the last year in a nutshell. Because I want this post to be short-ish, I didn't write about everything I've learned as a result of these events. But I will leave you with this.

God is good all the time. He has been with me throughout every up and down, and waits patiently for me in the moments I am a stubborn daughter and don't feel like talking to him. I may not know what His plan is for my future, but I do know He has one for me. I am stronger because He is my Lord and Savior. I have a purpose because He is my father and King. I am a daughter of the Most High God. In the ups and downs of life, this truth never changes. Do you know Him? Do you want to?  If so, please visit

~The Real Me

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


I am convinced it is not a coincidence that I got a flat tire today.

The first reason is because I reached my financial goal on Friday of DEBT FREE!! I should have been looking for something financial to come up that would throw a dent in that.

And secondly, my first thought was to miss church and take care of the tire rather than waiting until after. I am thankful that my ride did not feel the same way. I needed to be at church tonight. God had a message he wanted me to hear.

In our women's group on Wednesday nights, we are doing a 5 week study on our identity in Christ. It's interesting that I am a table leader for this study because I am far from being a leader on this particular subject. Of all the things the Bible teaches about regarding our relationship with Christ, I probably struggle with my own personal identity in Christ the most. Oh, I believe it for everyone else, but for myself I find it is a struggle I wrestle with often.

Years ago, in college, I remember this struggle clearly. And on days where I need some help remembering my identity, I can still hear my sweet friend Christina's voice as she lifted up my chin and said "lift up your head, you are a daughter of the King."

Psalm 139 says God knows my every thought before I say it out loud. He sees everything about me. He knows me deeply and intimately because he created me. All of my days were ordained. I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

These are beautiful words, but at the depths, they are hard to grasp. It's hard for me to see myself this way, or to imagine that God would. I see myself through the eyes of the world, and through the way I perceive others to see me.

Don't get me wrong, I acknowledge positive qualities in myself, I'm not saying I think I'm a bad person or worthless or anything like that. But if I'm being honest, in those deep places of my mind, I don't quite get it yet. How can God know the craziness of my thoughts and my selfish ways and still see me as wonderful. How does he see me as beautiful. And even when writing that, I feel guilty. Because that is like saying he created something imperfect, which I know he doesn't do. So I should see myself as beautiful and wonderful because He made me and He doesn't make mistakes.

And so it is a battle. Which means I need to be listening to messages like we had tonight. Messages that acknowledge that this battle exists.  Messages that remind me who I am in Christ. Messages that teach me how to put on the armor of God so that I can fight the battle and win. Messages that remind me who God is.

So my stupid tire didn't win tonight. I went to church anyway and heard the message I need to hear. Does it solve everything that is in my heart tonight, no. But joining with a group of ladies and learning about the Word of God helps to work a little deeper into believing the things God says about me. And equips me a little more to fight the battle.

This is the kind of week where the phase that makes the most sense is "The struggle is real."

Matthew West- Child of the One True King

-The Real Me


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Life...a Year Later

It's pretty amazing what a difference a year makes. I started this blog exactly one year ago. I didn't even plan this, I swear. 

Saturday was February 14th, that's right Valentine's Day. Before you switch the page because you can't stand to hear me complain again, it was a really good day. Not because I was with the man of my dreams or anything like that, but because I spent the day with friends that love me and was remembered by people who care about me. I have more people like that in my life than I deserve and I need to remember that during times when I am self-centered and whiny...which has pretty much been my mood for the past month. 

The last 6 weeks have been a bit of a tornado; both professionally and personally. Since the professional part is more fun, I will start with that.

Two weeks into the new year the director of my department called one of his famous meeting that no one wants to attend because it always means someone else from our work family is leaving. This time the leaving family member was him. Since then it has been a whirlwind of "structural changes". Change-that word that no one likes to hear, but this time, it has turned into a positive change for me. My direct manager was promoted to our new director and because of a current organization hiring freeze, this requires a significant department change...allowing for the promotion of three of us to supervisors. Starting yesterday I became the new Chat and Discipleship Ministry Supervisor for Internet Evangelism. I know that in the coming weeks...months...I will have a lot to learn, but I'm very excited and honored to lead this team. Supporting people, leading them, helping them succeed, is probably my favorite part of working on a team. I am excited to see how these changes impact our team (not just my change, but all the others too) and grow our ministry. 

On the other side, I'm still struggling through the personal side of my life. Frustrated sometimes with where I am at this point in my life. Lonely and insecure with myself. Struggling to understand or rather trust God's plan for my life. Making the best choices I think I can make and hoping I'm on the right track. But sometimes I just feel stuck, watching others move past. Part of me is hoping that when I move to my own place (happening soon) I will feel more establish, more settled. But another part of me knows that I must learn to be content no matter where I am. 

At the encouragement from one of my bible study leaders, I've started listening to an audio of John 15 from the Bible every night before bed. This is in place of my normal 30 minutes of love songs with Delilah. Listening to John 15 seems to be more beneficial for my head space. This chapter of John is packed with a whole lot to learn and I'm still working on it. Here are a few thoughts:

Verse 4: "Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine."
     Trust- I must trust Jesus in order to remain in him. I cannot "bear fruit" or operate in God's goodness by myself. I can do nothing fruitful on my own. Sometimes I find myself feeling alone. In those moments I need to question I currently connected to the Vine? or am I going it alone? Too much independence is not always a good thing.

Verse 16: "You did not choose me, but "I chose you" and "appointed you" so that you might go and bear fruit-fruit that will last..."
     God chose me. He appointed me. For a purpose. For HIS purpose. God help me to live out your purpose and the bear good fruit that will last beyond myself.

And because life is all about change...there have been changes at my church as well. Starting with the name. It's funny, you wouldn't think the change of a name would be a big deal, but I internally reacted a little more than I thought I would. But then again, when you think about it, names mean a lot to us. Take your last name, it more than just a name, it represents family. When a woman gets married she takes the name of her husband because she become a part of him. I started attending UpsideDown Church about a year and a half ago. The name referenced Acts 17:6 These who have turned the world upside down have come here too." The vision behind that name is what drew me to the church in the beginning. Reaching people in a real, relevant, and radical way. Outreach, loving change in our city. And once I joined, UpsideDown Church became my family. Now, realistically speaking, the vision of the church (to reach people) and my family, is not changing, but the name is. We are now Pathway Church of Charlotte "to point people to Jesus Christ, the only pathway leading to abundant and eternal life"; and I'm slowly embracing it. (I'm good with change most of the time, but not all of the time.) Other changes have come as well, but that is for another day.
Oceans (where feet may fail):

Friday, January 30, 2015

My Heart As A Taylor Swift Song

If my heart was a Taylor Swift mash-up song it would go something like this:

And all I've seen
since 18 hours ago
is green eyes and freckles and your smile in the back of my mind making me feel right
I just want to know you better know

We are alone with our changing minds, 
We fall in love till it hurts or bleeds, or fades in time
And I never saw you coming, 
And I'll never be the same

Loving him is like trying to change your mind, 
Once you're already flying through the free fall
Like the colors in autumn, 
So bright just before they lose it all

I guess you didn't care and I guess I liked that, 
And when I fell hard, you took a step back, 
Without me
And I might be okay, but I'm not fine at all

I bet this time of night you're still up
I bet you're tired from a long hard week
I bet you're sitting in your chair by the window looking out at the city
And I hope sometimes you wonder about me

And I just wanna tell you it takes everything in me not to call you
And I wish I could run to you and I hope you know that
Every time I don't I Almost Do

In my dreams you're touching my face
And asking me if I wanna try again with you
And I Almost Do
And right before your eyes
I'm breaking
No past, no reasons why

All lyrics taken from the Taylor Swift "Red" album

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Welcoming 2015

I guess this will be the last post of 2014. This year has been a year of learning, joy, growth, and heartbreak several times over. But I survived and I'm a better person because of every situation. I have learned so much about myself. I'm thankful that I'm a work in progress, and I'm learning to allow myself the grace to be just that.

I started this blog in February and I'm so thankful that I did. It's been freeing to share my thoughts and feelings. It's also been terrifying at times. The are a few posts I'd love to take back, but I made a promise to myself that I wouldn't do that. I want to live a real and authentic life and so I don't filter my thoughts here. I believe through every embarrassing or awkward thought, I may be speaking something that someone else might need to hear.

Overall, 2014 was a pretty incredible year, and so I don't look at the start of 2015 as being a fresh start, but rather a continued opportunity to live the life God has blessed me with. Are there changes I'd like to make, yes. Are there dreams I'd like to fulfill, absolutely. I am thankful for what I've been through and excited for what is to come.

Some basic goals for 2015:

1) My 2014 "life song" was Brave by Sarah Bareilles. That was interesting to implement. I actually attempted to "say what I want to say" several times this year for better or worse. I can have a tendency to be shy..or fearful depending on how you look at it. The moments of bravery proved interesting at least. I'm not sure if it was always a good thing, but I learned some things. I'm thinking my 2015 song of the year might be "Shake it Off" by Taylor Swift.

2) Conquer the mental side of this weight loss thing. This year my job hired a health coach for employees. I have committed to meeting with her regularly to set goals and have some accountability. If I can work through the mental barriers, I'm confident weight loss goals will be met in 2015.

3) DEBT FREE IN 2015!!! It's looking like April. I'm so excited to complete this goal. It's something that's been hard, required me to make sacrifices, and I'm proud of what I'm about to accomplish.

4) Personal spiritual growth and a deeper relationship with God.

5) Leadership- goal for this year is to stop and think before reacting. I learned a lot this year about how to work with people that aren't as easy to work with. But I desire to get better at working through things while avoiding the initial negative reaction.

6) Self-worth- Make it a point to look my best in every situation. See myself how others see me and how God sees me.

I pray 2015 will be your best year and my best year yet!!! Happy New Year!!