Looking back and looking ahead

Looking back and looking ahead

In the 2013 movie “About Time,” the film’s lead, Tim, learns that all of the men in his family have had the ability to travel through time. He uses this ability to serve several purposes including an attempt to get a girlfriend. Tim learns various lessons about how to best use his ability, lessons about life, and lessons about happiness.

Tim eventually takes his father’s advise for the “key to happiness” — live each day just like anyone else, but go back a second time and notice all of the good things that filled his day.

In the end, however, Tim shares a lesson his dad had not learned — he went one step further than his dad. He says, “the truth is I now don’t travel back at all, not even for the day. I just try to live every day as if I’ve deliberately come back to this one day, to enjoy it, as if it was the full final day of my extraordinary, ordinary life.”

We are all particularly reflective this time of year. As midnight of January 1 approaches, we evaluate our year and look to what we hope the next year might hold for us. We don’t have the gift of time travel to change our day-to-day circumstances, or even have a second chance at noticing the joys and gifts of each day we are otherwise too distracted to notice. We can’t know what the next 365 days will hold for us, but we can try to live intentionally with each new day.

So my prayer for myself (and for us all) this year is that I may be more intentional with all the gifts God has given me, with each day, and with each moment. The year may not play out like I hope it will, but I pray that I will be intentional in noticing the numerous ways God answers prayers and shows his faithfulness in all things.

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Friday Favorites: Podcast edition

Friday Favorites: Podcast edition

Do you ever have those moments where you ask yourself “How am I just now hearing about this?” or “Where have I been?” Well, that’s how I feel about podcasts.

Now that’s not to say I didn’t know what a podcast was or had never heard of them. I knew of podcasts, I’ve heard of Serial, and have even listened to many church sermons and lessons via podcast. What I didn’t know was what giant world of podcasts that existed.

Essentially, podcasts are people having conversations about any given topic. There’s something for literally everyone. That’s an oversimplification of podcasts, but you get the idea.

Last summer, a friend of mine told me about a podcast called “Gilmore Guys.” In a nutshell, it’s two guys talking about every episode of Gilmore Girls. One is a long-time fan of the show, the other is new to the show and watching each episode for the first time. They invite writers, comedians, and other people from the entertainment world to talk all things Gilmore Girls. They even have live shows which a friend and I got to go to when they were in Dallas in December. Lots of fun and they are hilarious! Check out their podcast!

Since then, I’ve started listening to other podcasts, trying to find others I like — and with varying degrees of success. There’s so much to wade through, so I’m always open to suggestions from any genre.

In the mean time, here are some that I’ve enjoyed:

Gilmore Guys                                       Best of Friends

Gilmore Guys podcast     Best of Friends Podcast

Pop Culture Happy Hour                  The Nerdist

Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast        nerdistpodcastv2

 

I’d love to hear what you’ve been enjoying lately — podcast or otherwise. Let me know in the comments below!

Project: Read Through Your Bookshelf

Project: Read Through Your Bookshelf

Confession: I love going to bookstores, buying books, and looking at pretty books….but I don’t read very often. In fact I have a bookshelf full of untouched or partially read books to prove this. Sometimes I like the idea of reading more than actually reading.

I watch movies such as You’ve Got Mail and join in on Kathleen Kelley’s romanticizing of literature. I see Instagram photos with the perfectly lit book next to a cup of coffee and I think, yes…I can be that person, too.

When I graduated from college two years ago, I would constantly tell myself how great it was that I would have so much more time to read what I actually wanted to read rather than what I was required to read for school. I’ve started many books, bought many books, but have yet to finish one book.

Well, I’m changing that now. I am cutting back on my Netflix time and Hulu time (and even some YouTube time) that some how sucks so many hours of my week that I could actually be reading.

So, I’m starting my Project: Read Through Your Bookshelf. There’s really no need to go to the library or buy another book for some time (although I probably will still do this) when I have dozens and dozens of unread or partially read books on my own bookshelf.

Are you just as bad as I am? Do you also have some books sitting on your bookshelves left to just collect dust? Tell me about what you’ll be reading from your own bookshelf!

Here are some of my bookshelf that I will be tackling first:

                                   Women of the Word        Prayer - Timothy Keller

   Harry Potter       Ella Enchanted

I’m excited about all four of these books, and for different reasons.

Women of the Word is written by Jen Wilkin, who is on staff at The Village Church and is someone I’ve admired and looked to as an unofficial discipler. Her blogs, speaking engagements, teaching, and writing in general has always been so encouraging and helpful as I grow in my faith and learn to love the Lord with both my heart and mind.

Prayer, written by Timothy Keller (pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City) is a book that was highly recommended by many people from different areas of my life. When I get recommendations from different types of people, it definitely goes on my must-read list.

Now, as for Harry Potter…you’re probably thinking “WHAT? How are you just now reading this?” And your judgment is most deserved and welcomed. In fact this could be the start of a new category called “Books You Should Have Read” or “Elementary School Revisited.” The Harry Potter book series was first introduced to me when I was in the fourth grade and I even read the first book then. But it just became yet another series of books that I never got around to. Better late than never? I am actually almost finished with the first book, and it’s been great. Even though it was written with the main target being children, it is definitely a book that can be enjoyed by all ages–great storytelling that really engages the imagination. (And gives you so much more detail than any movie could–for those who have not read these books yet.)

Finally, Ella Enchanted is a book recommended to me by my friend, Jennifer. It is one of her favorite books of all time and don’t even bother mentioning what she deems to be the disgrace of a film adaptation with Anne Hathaway. This is a book that could probably be included in the “Books You Should Have Read” category. Nevertheless, here we are with a children’s novel on a 25-year-old’s reading list.

Happy Reading!

Best performances of the Star-Spangled Banner

It’s Independence Day weekend and that means red, white, and blue; fireworks; and the Star-Spangled Banner. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of awkward (or just bad) performances of the Star-Spangled Banner. So when someone gets it right, it’s magical and should be noted.

There are a lot of great performances of the national anthem including the Cactus Cuties and the US Army Academy Choirs. I started to make a list of my top five favorite performances, but this performance by the Gaither Vocal Band is so brilliant, it needs to stand on it’s own. Five-part harmony, classic performance(no unnecessary frills), and David Phelps hitting some impressive high notes–what’s not to love?

Enjoy.

Would you like some guilt with that breakfast sandwich?

Would you like some guilt with that breakfast sandwich?

Would you like some guilt with that breakfast sandwich?

This might as well have been what the drive-thru employee at a popular restaurant asked me when I picked up my order one morning.

One day, I decided to get some breakfast from a restaurant I love.  I didn’t really need to be buying anything, but I wanted to treat myself that morning. So I pulled up to the drive-thru and placed my order. When I pulled up to the window and got my food, the employee told me that the person in front of me had paid for my order. I thought, “How exciting!” Who doesn’t like a surprise free meal? But then the employee gave a subtle look that implied people had been doing that all morning. Well, I proceeded to drive away, quickly feeling guilty about not continuing the chain of pay-it-forward breakfast payments.

It was hard for me to really enjoy my ‘breakfast of shame’, thinking about how the employee probably judged me for not “doing a good deed”.

We’ve all seen those stories about how hundreds of strangers have paid for each others meals in pay-it-forward style. It’s fun to see stories about people doing nice things for people they don’t even know. However, I recently saw an interesting article on Yahoo about the topic that really frustrated me. (When will I learn that nothing good comes from reading an article from the Yahoo front page? Well, that’s an article for another day.)

The title of the link read, “Ok, so who spoiled the Florida pay-it-forward?”

A Starbucks in Florida had reach 378 people who payed for each other’s drinks. However when it came to one woman, she said she only wanted to pay for her own drink. The writer of this article and many others criticized her for not paying for the next person’s drink like all the other people.

The Barista later told a reporter that he thought she didn’t understand the concept of paying it forward.

I have a few thoughts on this:

  1. When did acts of kindness become a competition? Essentially, they were trying to beat a previous record of people paying for each other’s drinks. It’s not always about doing something that people will see. The first person who paid for the drink did it because they genuinely wanted to do something nice for someone else, not because they felt pressured to or wanted to keep something going.
  2. Let’s be honest. If people are getting something from Starbucks, they’re most likely not suffering for money. 
  3. Sometimes people won’t acknowledge your “good deed” or may even try to reject it, but that shouldn’t stop us from ultimately extending kindness and love to one another.

Really, “pay-it-forward” acts are all about grace. It’s remembering that you have been given something you don’t deserve and doing the same for someone else.

Acts of kindness don’t always have to be big gestures. It’s all about doing something for someone else; showing kindness and love to another human – not always getting anything in return or even receiving any acknowledgment.

Hipsters and Cowboys

Hipsters and Cowboys

I’ve only every lived in two cities: Fort Worth and Denton, Texas. I lived in Fort Worth from the time I was born until I moved for College.

Denton is home to two universities: Texas Women’s University and the University of North Texas (go mean green!). The city is filled with quirky people that make living here a lot more fun. Some people describe it as a mini Austin. Hanging out on the square listening to good music(and occasionally bad music played with equal passion) is one of the best parts of Denton. There is so much people-watching material there. After 5 years of living here for school, it’s felt like home.

Fort Worth is a bigger city in the metroplex full of cowboys and pockets of hipsters…occasionally hipster cowboys, if that’s possible. It has such a unique city culture. It kind of has the personality of a smaller town, but in a much bigger city. Never lump us in with Dallas, we’re very passionate about not being Dallas.

I could go on and on about the different things I love about each city, but that would take a long time. Instead, these are a couple things I’ve particularly enjoyed recently about each city.

The Dime Store

Denton, Dime Store, Only In Denton  The best way to describe this shop is that it’s Etsy in building form. The store features different artists, crafters and makers from the Denton area. Denton is all about supporting local businesses and makers. The shop is full of a variety of things for your home, clothing, art, and so many more beautiful items. If you are ever in Denton, you definitely need to check it out.

I’ve made a few different trips there and bought two different things. The most recent item was this illustration from Mandy Cave. I’ve always loved her style and this cute little piece was something I had to buy once I saw it.

Mandy Cave watercolor, Cavely


Fort Worth Cats baseball

For Father’s Day, my family went to a Fort Worth Cats baseball game. It’s an independent minor league team that plays at LaGrave Field just a mile north of Downtown Fort Worth. We had so much fun, we decided to go again for the Fourth of July, because what’s more American than baseball, hot dogs and fireworks?

Fort Worth Cats

Friday Favorites

Friday Favorites

Sometimes it’s the little things in life that make you smile or just put you in a better mood. So, every other Friday I will be sharing at least two things that have made me smile or have just particularly enjoyed lately.

Gilmore Girls

For the past two years I haven’t had television. That is, television without holding the antenna in just the right spot and maybe standing in a funny position because even the slightest movement would throw off everything in the middle of an important moment on Parenthood or NCIS.

So, as a substitute for the lack of TV (by the way, I kind of miss commercials), I have watched a lot of movies, episodes of Friends and Gilmore Girls

But I’m not complaining because these quirky characters that speak a mile a minute are never disappoint. They seem to know every pop culture and current events references there are.

Czech Stop

Last Saturday I was home in Fort Worth hanging out with my family and we spontaneously decided to make our first ever trip to the Czech Stop and bakery in West, Texas. This bakery and convenience store is located in a town known for its Czech heritage. They serve kolaches and other tasty Czech treats.

Well, all I can say is I’m sad that I had not yet experienced the awesomeness that is their kolaches and breads. I’m not sure you’ve really experienced delicious bakery goods until you’ve experienced this.

These are some pictures my sister took. She got the strawberry kolache and one of their Hot Chubbies with cheese (sausage on the inside). I got the pumpkin kolache and their ham and cheese puff.

Czech Stop, West Texas

So, if you ever find yourself on I-35 near Waco, make a stop. That’s an order. And hey, even if you’re not in the area, you should make a trip.

The World Cup Bandwagon

The World Cup Bandwagon

Hi. My name is Katie. And I’m a World Cup bandwagon fan.

Yep. I’m one of those people. Today is the USA versus Germany match and I found myself today trying to figure out how I could watch it.

I love big-event sports. Superbowl? Awesome. World Series? You know it. Olympics? Heck to the yes. And now the World Cup. The huge crowds, chants, songs and ridiculously dressed and decorated people.

I really don’t know all of how soccer works and its rules. I would probably make any soccer fan crazy with my bandwagon spirit. But I say, who cares. The more the merrier.

So I say, don’t be shy. Jump on the bandwagon. Red, white and blue. Toot-toot!

Also, USA! USA! USA!

Dear future me…

Dear future me…


I did a little spring cleaning recently. That kind of cleaning where you pull everything out and purge. The kind of cleaning where it gets worse before it gets better.

Well, in the process of cleaning, I came across some old notes and journals. My journals usually end up being an eclectic collection of notes from church sermons, events, rants on frustrating days, quotes, and just general thoughts written down.

I came across a specific entry where I was writing about that day and how bad it was. I kind of laughed to myself because now that I’m more than a year a way from that day, the problem of that day was really insignificant and something I was able to recover from. As I went on, I saw the ups and downs of life; funny stories and good memories. I found myself laughing at the immaturity in my thoughts about things.

It’s fun to look back at old notes and look at how much I’ve grown and changed and what all God has brought be through. I have to constantly remind myself of God’s sovereignty in all things and that He is constant and good.

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.Are you not of more value than they?”
– Matthew 6:25-26 (ESV)

This is such a wonderful piece of scripture and reminder of God’s faithfulness and love for us.

Maybe it’s okay we’re not Texas A&M

Maybe it’s okay we’re not Texas A&M

Many will agree that UNT is not the most tradition-oriented or event-oriented school. We’re not exactly known for our cult-like following of our sports teams like Texas A&M or exciting nightlife on campus like other schools. But maybe that’s okay.

When first visiting UNT as a high school senior, I had a friend tell me that if I cared about school traditions that this was not the place to go. I thought she was exaggerating.

It wasn’t until I arrived at UNT that I realized how right she was. Most activities, games, and events are free for students. However, at any given event, one would not believe they attended a school of more than 36,000 people. Very few people come to these events. Football and basketball games fail to fill the student sections.

The Student Government Association and University Program Council have recently made more efforts to see that students are more involved. Students will vote on who they want to perform at a concert in the spring.
Some might say the lack of involvement reflects negatively on our campus, but there is so much that makes UNT unique that has nothing to do with involvement in events.
UNT is diverse: in its ideology, ages represented, religiously, and ethnically. There are nearly 2,000 international students representing more than 100 countries.

The NT Daily recently reported that about 5,300 students identify themselves as non-traditional students. Some of these students include individuals older than perceived traditional college age or have families of their own.

With a large emphasis on music in Denton and at UNT, students don’t need university-created events to find great music. On any weekend, a local band is performing either at a public venue or house show. Throughout the year, there are several musical events and festivals that bring in a variety of musicians. Also, UNT has one of the best music programs in the country with its jazz band and other programs.

College should be more than just going to class and getting a degree. There is a social learning aspect that is important as well. This is why students are encouraged to be involved on campus. However, with such diversity and opportunities beyond planned events, students have the chance to connect, interact and network in a culture that students at other universities do not experience.