Faith Trumps Fear

Juxtapositional: the fact of two things being seen or placed close together with contrasting effect.

I like to joke and refer to myself as a “tame Type A”. I’ve learned to enjoy surprises, go with the flow, and look forward to spontaneity, but my core enjoys having a plan, being prepared, knowing what’s next. I can take the backseat and let something else make all the decisions (which is nice sometimes, actually), but my friends can tell you I can be pretty assertive and decisive. (I know what I want, dang it!!)

When a dear friend hosted a dinner party several months ago, she had little, glass jars, wrapped with charms and a burlap ribbon placed at each seat at the table. Little did we know she prayerfully placed each jar in front of a seat, beseeching the Lord that each occupant would be matched with the appropriate word to define or encourage their journey.

I got faith.

The crazy thing was, I was led to study the word only a few weeks before as I sensed the Lord desired I come to know more experientially what the word meant.

Anyway, back to “Ms. Tame Type A”, I don’t worry a lot about things or overthink, but I have moments I try to figure out all my finances, habits, social life, schooling, etc. all on my own without praying first or sharing my dissonance. There is no need for me to verbally “throw up” on someone since I can handle it, thank you very much. In theory, the attitude sounds inspirational, strong even. However, I miss out on being vulnerable and involving people in my inner journey. I miss out on being molded by faith and risky ventures. 

The jar has sat on my desk for some time, but only recently have I used it as a coin collector. I thought it apt as each few pennies, though small in number, over time contribute to something larger and more meaningful.

I watched a TedTalk recently about a guy’s quest for meaning and opportunity. He shared it’s important to write down goals to have a visual reminder of what a per

Let Your Faith Be Bigger than your fears

son is striving toward. And you know what? A funny thing happened. He started seeing opportunities in things he hadn’t seen before. (Reticular activation, maybe?) I do work in a place with physical money handled daily, but I started noticing more coins on the ground (don’t worry, I haven’t ever stolen money!) inside and outside the premises. I started noticing the lone coins scattered in different locations and my pocket started making a satisfying little jingle. Haha.

All this to say, although deposited coins in my faith jar is a visual, when you remember that faith should always be bigger than your fears, you start to see the little opportunities for faith building and growing in life. Deposit them in your heart, because little by little the number will grow, the muscle will strength, and you’ll have an ROI you never dreamed of. A penny may look pitiful next to the bold word “Faith”, but wasn’t it little David that slew a big Goliath?

~Lina Marie

First Ski Trip

Indelible: not able to be forgotten or removed

The upside of having a part-time job with hours that differ each week is that you can go on adventures in the middle of the week when many others are confined to their desks or in school.

I road tripped up to Maggie Valley, NC with some friends to ski; it was my very first time and I was thrilled! The weather was chilly but temperate and the ski slope was the only area covered in white. Everywhere else was green or soggy with melted snow. It was not the best conditions for skiing but had its own charm and novelty.

The guy who drove us to North Carolina thought ski poles weren’t necessary (or cumbersome or something), so I learned without them. With a few short instructions and a”you’ll be fine”, I jumped on the lift with anticipation and watched as the distance between me and the ground widened and the people below loski-trip-for-blogoked small.

I finally got to the top and my heart was pounding. I jumped off and veered in a wide circle and stopped. (Yeah, this was going to take some getting used to.) I was glad I didn’t fall yet, but visions of wipe-outs and yard sales quivered my resolve.

Too late. Already up here.

I will-powered my way to the edge, feigning confidence, and slid faster and faster down the slope. Naturally, I didn’t have much experience controlling my skis and shifting my weight, so I was all nerves and “whatever happens will happen.” With the wind whipping my face, my eyes widened as I neared the bottom and I literally thought I would tumble down that hill and maybe get seriously injured. Or die.

Miracle of all miracles, I found myself in one piece and stopped at the bottom. With breathless delight and a release of tension, I penguin-walked to the lift once again. After a few more times skiing down the smaller hill, I went up to the steeper slope to conquer new levels of fear. I barely slid down the mountain when I was already on the ground and clenching my face in annoyance. (Whatever bits of pride you may possess will completely dissolve when you look like a two-year swaddled in Eskimo clothes on the ground and don’t know how to get up.) I was assisted but for some reason couldn’t control my speed at the level I desired.

I went back up on the ski lift with a nine-year-old little girl friend who gabbed in a chipper tone about how great it was for us to conquer our fears through Jesus Christ, and that after this we could conquer other fears (namely roller coasters) and how grateful she was to hang out. (Tears? PSH! No tears in my eyes. Only the wind coincidentally evoking some liquid from my eyes.) I fell down that hill so many times and my skis fell off FOUR TIMES, but she stayed with me the whole way down and I was overwhelmed by the kindness and encouragement of a girl twelve years my junior.

Even though the snow melted into slush and re-hardened into ice, even though I fell too many times to count (both accidentally and on purpose), even though my muscles felt like jello, even though one of my ski boots hit my leg the wrong way causing soreness, even though my best friend had only skied twice and didn’t fall at all and looked flawless, my heart was full and I was the most happy tired I had been in awhile.

~Lina Marie

Surprise!

Hotsy-totsy: about as right as can be; perfect

I turned 21 on January 24. A couple months ago, my mom asked me if I wanted to do anything in particular to celebrate  my “official passage” into adulthood. Up until this point, I’ve always had sleepover parties with my girls and often shared the weekend with my younger sister whose birthday is a week before mine. This year, however, I wanted to end the tradition and imagined I’d either work on my birthday. Or sit and read with a latte or glass of wine. Or sleep.

I wasn’t expecting or hoping for anything and quite frankly, nearly lost track of how fast my birthday zoomed into view. When I saw my work schedule for my birthday week, I was pleasantly surprised my boss took into consideration my birthday and didn’t schedule me the first three days of the week. Sweet!

Two days before my birthday, a Sunday, I had planned to go to my sister-from-another-mister’s house to hang out for my birthday, spend the night, and then go out with her sister (also my best friend) for another birthday outing. Super low key, intimate, and filled with quality time. My mom was to drop me off after church and that would be that.

On the way to this friend’s house, a guy friend of mine who had been at church contacted my mom for an address to someplace. I honestly didn’t pay that much attention and didn’t think much of it. My mom is a super resourceful person and enjoys assisting people in whatever the case may be.

Upon driving up to my friend’s house, I noticed there were a lot of cars parked in the driveway. At first, I thought perhaps house church was in session, but for one, it was too early, and I recognized some of the cars that wouldn’t have been part of the fellowship. My mom tried to distract me with some of the neighbor’s goats, but WHO FREAKIN’ CARES ABOUT GOATS WHEN THERE ARE SUSPICIOUSLY TOO MANY CARS IN THE DRIVEWAY. My heart pounded faster than normal, and I jumped out of the car, ran up the steps, the door was opened for me, and I was met with a resounding — “SURPRISE!!!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY LINA!”

They had pulled off a surprise party and I had no idea. (I guess that’s the ultimate hope for those sorts of things. Haha.)

I gasped in delight and shock and my hand flew straight to my mouth. I could not believe my eyes. Faces I had seen from anywhere to the day before to several months back were all in the kitchen, smiling at me, and there for ME. What in the world.

I’m a serial hugger, so I gave every person in the room a big ole hug, some a kiss too, and lots of laughter. The evening was perfect, filled with lattes, food, friends, Jesus, and thinking about the goodness of God. I’m still amazed that in spite of all my flaws and blunders, so many people would be there for me to celebrate our friendship and new seasons of life. That’s a gift.

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Humorous Intentions Gone Sour

Gauche: tacky, graceless, tactless, rude, boorish, or awkward and foolish

I’ve always struggled with discerning the fine line between conveying information and oversharing personal information. I’m not a reserved person and though I’d hope to not have secrets or embarrassing moments shared freely among friends, I genuinely enjoy people asking about my life, because I’m as nosey as they come (it has gotten better, most assuredly). I don’t share people’s deepest, darkest secrets, but we all have different boundaries of privacy and security.

This past week, a thoughtless incident reminded once again of the need for tact and social graces, especially among people in the same circles. A friend shared with me a joke this person knew I would find funny. It was about someone else, but not in a way that was degrading or backstabbing, but related to something we’ve discussed and this person knew exactly what to say to pique my interest and get under my skin in a playful way.

I casually mentioned the essence of the topic to the person of interest thinking this person would laugh. This person didn’t and was quite flustered, because it was annoying and something this person had made statements about disliking. If something isn’t directly and firmly spoken to me, sometimes I don’t get the hint and forget that I need to be thoughtful in not only what I share but in what someone would find funny.dsc_8539

The simple, shared statement turned into heartfelt (and not the sentimental heartfelt) texts which morphed into two long phone calls and me feeling thoroughly embarrassed. I’m not good with guilt and didn’t sleep well that night, even after receiving forgiveness (sometimes negative emotions linger). I’ve dealt with situations like this before, but it still took some emotional stamina not to cry or entertain less-than-edifying thoughts about myself.

All that to say, in hindsight, I keenly remembered and realized the need to value what others tell us in confidence or not. Relationships are built on trust and in learning what is meaningful to another person. It is not enough to explain away situations with justifications about your seemingly “insignificant” role but take to heart that we don’t often realize how our words sting and could put someone in an unsavory light.

~Lina Marie

Sparkling Holiday Formal

dress-picFallal: a bit of finery; a showy article of dress

Remember that blog post a few months back about my first few weeks of ballroom dance class? (Click here to get your memory dancing!) Thankfully, I’ve progressed greatly since then, in my dance moves and becoming a better follower (Hehe! The assertive, tempered Type A, first-born problems are real). It’s been a real ball and a couple weekends ago, I got to attend a post-holiday dance formal!

The beginning of each, monthly ballroom dance events start with a quick crash course of the basic steps to familiarize newbies to the basics and give more experienced dancers a brush up. Several dances were covered. Hustle. Swing. Foxtrot. Rumba (personal favorite). Waltz. The party-goers who’ve been attending classes were able to dance two-step, bachata, cha-cha, and other classics.

The great thing about ballroom dance events is the people you’ve built rapport with in class, you’re able to visit with and get to know better. Of course, there’s the inevitable happening of meeting new faces or vaguely familiar ones seen every week but never intentionally reached out to. There was older gentlemen in particular who dances competitively, and I had an opportunity to gain a few pointers about form and moves from him. Additionally, every dance event has an awesome dance performance from a different genre of dance, so we had a blast watching a two-step routine. The dancers were geared up in cowboy boots and denim!

Dancing (skillfully) the night away is one of my favorite activities. And which girl wouldn’t want to throw on a glittery, teacup dress to twirl around in?! (Even though it was under 20 degrees Fahrenheit outside. Hahaha.)

~Lina Marie

Passion Planner

Epistolize: to write a letter

If you could compose a letter to yourself dated for December 2018, what sorts of accomplishments and goals would you like to see yourself achieve? What experiences would you like to have? What skills would you desire to acquire? Which relationships would you be delighted to cultivate?

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Back in September, I was enamored with a particular planner a friend had introduced to me. I immediately went online and browsed different options and prices. After some consideration, I realized the brand was a bit pricey and didn’t fully satisfy my wants. I expressed all of this to my mother and in her research, she came across a planner line called the Passion Planner.

I watched the founder’s story. I perused online PDFs at the planner’s format, layout, and purpose. Not only was this planner practical but personal and had lots of space to doodle, plan, and journal. It assists in time management, gives spaces to write down focuses for the months and weeks, and has built in to-do lists for personal and work categories. And at the end of each month are drafted reflection pages for users to ruminate and plan ahead! Amazing.

“I wanted to make a planner that could be the place for all your thoughts by having the structure of an appointment calendar, the potential for creativity of a sketchbook, and the reflection space of a journal. I wanted a planner that not only got people thinking about where they wanted to go, but also help them get there. I wanted to create the planner I wish someone had given me when I was feeling lost, so I decided to make it myself. That’s how Passion Planner was born.”

~Angelia Trinidad (Founder, CEO, and Designer of Passion Planner)

Below are some pictures of the planner and some of the ways I’ve already used it to keep my life organized and purposeful starting this new year!

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My Passion Planner is the Vintage Brown edition. I like that it resembles the color of wood.
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This 20 color pen set did not come with the planner. It’s from the company Staedtler, made in Germany. I love the colors that allow me to color code notes in my planner.
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Here is a glimpse of the founder’s purpose for the Passion Planner.
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I’ve already filled out the one for the beginning of the year, but halfway through the year, it has a place for user’s to rethink their life road map!
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Here is a sample of a the monthly calendar. Aren’t the to-do list, focus, and “not to-do list” neat?!
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The weekly layout is broken into 30 minute increments which is super helpful. Appointments with a particular time are notated, but otherwise, I write down what needs to get done within the general time frame.
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End of the month reflection!
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A sample of my month of January thus far!
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Ironically, the first week of January was not the most productive by any means, but that only means improvements will be substantial and noticeable, right? I love the colors!

real Check out the website! Is it not inspiring or what?! {Happy achieving, planning, growing, and experiencing!} http://www.passionplanner.com/

~Lina Marie

Shoe Shenanigans

edited-shoes-on-front-porchDelectation: delight; enjoyment

Although shopping seems like a regular and insignificant part of our lives, they can have a way of teaching us life lessons. Falling in love with a particular pair of shoes taught me about patience and persistence.

It was a regular Saturday afternoon. The weather was starting to warm up as spring was making her appearance. During season changes, I usually assess clothing and shoes I have currently; if there are any missing or desired pieces, I thrift or shop for specific items. My first stop was Goodwill and after I made a few purchases, I perused the shoe section and was immediately magnetized to a pair of champagne pumps. They looked extremely comfortable, but when I tried to squeeze my foot into one of them, they were two sizes too small to my dismay.

The shoes lingered in my mind as I frequented another shoe shop in the area. I walked past the clearance section and had a double take. Those champagne pumps happened to be ON SALE, RIGHT THERE! Excitedly, I looked for my size only to realize the last five pairs were all the same size and all too small. I toyed with the idea of asking a representative if they happened to have any extra, but I didn’t do so. Whatever was out on the clearance rack was probably it.

When I got home later, I searched on Amazon for the same pumps. I didn’t realize there were different colors, but the champagne ones would go better with my color palette. Those particular shoes were the only ones that happened to be out of stock in my size! Not one to settle for disappointment too quickly, I decided to take the chance and buy one size bigger. Depending on the shoe, I can get away with that. I hoped for the best.

My mom texted me at work when the shoes came in the mail. I could hardly wait to get home! I ran through the door, tore open the box, and proudly held up those beloved shoes. I recently bought a cute dress that would go perfectly with the shoes, so with girlish excitement reminiscent of dress-up days, I put both the dress and shoes on and strutted around my room. The thrill was cut short, however, when I realized the pumps kept sliding off my heels. They were too big! I thought of numerous ways to help the shoes stay on comfortably, but thought it was a hassle to do extra work, especially in regard to shoes. Disheartened, I filled out the return sheet, stating the issue and requesting the pumps in my actual size. Hope filled my heart.

While at work, I received a forwarded email from my mom from the shoe company. They stated the returned shoes had been received, but unfortunately, they didn’t have any pumps my size because the line was being discontinued. I hardly EVER fall in love with shoes, but I did was those, so that was a mighty blow. “Maybe God doesn’t want me to have those shoes for some reason,” coursed my thoughts while I drove home from work. Should I keep fighting or forget the whole thing?

I wasn’t able to shake off the focused desire for those champagne beauties, so I visited eBay. They had lots of sellers offering the same line of shoes that were my size but not color. I pressed on and finally found a seller with the ideal size and color. In breathless disbelief, I clicked on the link, ensured there was no bidding option, and bought the shoes on the spot. I checked the confirmation email multiple times like when you pinch yourself to be convinced of an unreal circumstance.

Dramatic, but that’s how I felt.

When those shoes arrived, it was like Cinderella trying on that glass slipper. A perfect and beautiful fit. Out of curiosity, I went to the seller’s page to see if there were any more of those champagne pumps in my size. I put my cursor over the size selection only to realize it was grayed out. I had nabbed the last pair!

No. Way.

It pays to pursue with persistence and not give up right away even for just a pair of shoes.

~Lina Marie