FAKE vs Vulnerable

I love genuine people.  People who are true to who they are… who know their strengths and weaknesses… who are vulnerable… who ask for help when needed… who are honest about their lives… and who share what’s really going on.  I am drawn to these people.  Oh, you had a fight with your husband… me too!  Oh, you can’t quite get your life together right now… me neither!  Oh, you don’t shower everyday… me neither.  Oh, your extended family drives you crazy… me too!

Sadly, we have too many FAKE people in this world.  I can’t quite figure out who they are trying to fake out… others or themselves?  Most people realize that there is NO way that someone’s life can be perfect.  Why do we pretend we always look put together, our houses are spotless, our marriages are perfect, and our kids never misbehave?  But, in reality… we all deal with communication issues, children who don’t behave how we’d prefer them to, and health issues for ourselves and folks we love.

Many people feel that portraying an image that they WANT to be is better than being who they actually are.  Personally speaking, this is a friendship turn-off for me.  I want honest friends.  People who are vulnerable and know that no matter what they say, I will still be friends with them.  I love friends who share more on social media about their children than just the fake-perfectly-posed family photos.  I love friends who talk about how hard it is to be a mom, share when children are sick, or share work frustrations.

To me, one of the most important characteristics in a friendship is being vulnerable.  Sharing the part of you that is the least “pretty” in the conversation is usually what brings you closer together than any other surface discussion could.  When someone shares something vulnerable with me, I see it as an opportunity to be real in return.  How can I share my past experiences to possibly help them?  Or maybe, I just need to shut up and listen.  Obviously, I don’t know all the answers and “just” listening is ok too.  But, recognizing that someone is being vulnerable is the most important thing in the conversation.  Be respectful of not repeating it again and checking in with them after the fact to see how it’s going.  Many people have a hard time opening up… so when they do, you want it to be a positive experience.  Lift the person and situation up in prayer to God.  Text them when they pop in your mind.  Stay in contact and let the relationship build.  We all need deeper, stronger relationships.

I encourage you to be less fake and more vulnerable with friends.  Be open to what kind of support and growth can happen as a result of your honesty.

In an effort to be more vulnerable myself, you can see my “best foot forward” pic on left and my “didn’t even turn on the blow dryer” pic on the right.  Hopefully it will encourage you to be more honest too… instead of always sharing the best.  If not, at least you can have a good laugh at my expense ūüôā

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love, brooke

Deal of the Day!

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This actually may be the deal of the century… but I’ll be humble and just call it for the day. ¬†I’m a bargain shopper… I come by it naturally from my mom. ¬†She is always on the hunt for a deal.

I was doing a late night Walgreens run for neosporin and just happened to spot the orange clearance price tag and it said $.03. ¬†Upon further inspection, I realized it was for toe warmers and decided to buy them all to donate to a homeless shelter for next winter (they don’t expire til 2020). ¬†When they rang up, they actually rang up for $.01! ¬†I bought them all- which was only 7- but felt very proud of my deal.

Did you know that socks and first aid supplies are ALWAYS needed by homeless shelters? ¬†Did you know that food pantries always need diapers for babies? ¬†Did you know that food stamps don’t cover toiletries so support organizations always need them? ¬†Did you know that some teen girls stay home from school when they are on their period because they can’t afford feminine supplies?

So, the next time you see any of these items on sale- please keep food pantries or homeless shelters in mind.  Their guests would be so appreciative of your donations!

learn, brooke

Lent Wrap Up

Since I so publicly shared my Lent goals, I wanted to share my wrap up.

Trifecta wrap up:

  1.  By far, my most successful action was the prayer journal.  8 out of 10.
  2. The organization effort started off really strong but then lost a lot of steam.  6.5 out of 10
  3. The not texting when driving went ok.  Not as great as I had hoped, but improvements were definitely made.  7 out of 10

How did your Lent exercises go?

love, brooke

How to… Take the Perfect Easter Photo

After scrolling through social media today, I was reminded of how easy it is to take the perfect Easter photo with your family.  Here it is in 20 simple steps.

  1. Spend hours figuring out what each family member is going to wear.  Comb through closets to try to find something that has bright colors, isn’t stained, doesn’t have holes and might fit.
  2.  Remember to drop off dry cleaning 4 days before Easter Sunday.
  3.  If you are unsuccessful in finding something in closets, visit target and spend way too much money.  Be sure to buy two sizes of each item to find the right fit.  Convince yourself that you will return the unused size… one day.
  4.  Have each family member try on their potential outfits two days before Easter.  This will involve lots of eye rolling, complaining about how shoes fit, and trying to get distracted by a book or cell phone every 30 seconds.
  5.  While potential outfits are laying on a bed, remind family members not to sit nor jump on them.
  6. Hang completed outfits on hangers in doorways so they are easily available for getting dressed.
  7. Over the next 2 days, remember to crouch low so you can still enter your closet without knocking down the chosen Easter outfit.
  8.  Don’t forget to pick up your dry cleaning.  Be mindful of holiday hours/closings so you don’t get stuck without your coveted Easter garments.
  9. On Easter morning, make sure everyone has eaten breakfast before getting dressed to prevent stains.  And for the love of everything, make sure all Easter candy is hidden so hoarders can’t get into it while in their carseats on the way to church.
  10. Take pictures outdoors before going in to church.
  11. Find the perfect photo location requirements… outside, with perfect sun light, a green backsplash or flowers.  Try not to make your family hate you during this time.
  12. Once you find the right spot, try to find someone to take the photo.  Hopefully it can be someone who has held an iphone before and knows “which” button to press.
  13. Try to get your children to look at the camera and smile.  This can happen in a number of ways… swearing, bribing, and saying silly phrases… do what is most effective for your crew.
  14. Look at the photo and try not to offend the “photographer” with how bad it is.  Say something like “oh, it’s great… but do you mind taking two more?” (but really you mean five more)
  15. Repeat step 13 way too many times again.
  16. Thank the “photographer” profusely and wish them a Happy Easter.
  17. Rush your family into church to try to find somewhere IN side the sanctuary for the service and promise to fix the photos in post production.
  18. After church, frantically try to edit the photo while driving the lunch with your family.  Use all the tools you can; including filters and cropping.
  19. Pick the photo where you look the best and your family looks “eh, ok”.
  20. Be sure to crop any body parts out of the photo you don’t like.  Arms and bellies are a good place to start.

And that’s it… only 20 EASY steps to getting the perfect Easter photo! Be sure to post it ASAP on social media.  And if you really want to fit in, title the post with either “Happy Easter!” or “He is risen!”

Easter 2013

Here is my 2013 Perfect Easter Pic

laugh, brooke

Uncomfortable

A year ago, my Sunday school class did a wonderful Lenten study called 24 Hours that Changed the World by Adam Hamilton. It completely changed the way I looked at the events leading up to Christ’s death. The part that stands out to me, a year later, was learning about the physical cross. For instance, I knew that Jesus had two stakes in each of his wrists/hands but I did not know there was a seat. The seat was a cruel trick, though, because it was lower than where it should have been to sit comfortably. It teased those hung to it to lower their body to rest on it- but as a result caused more upper body/pain stress. The other image that shocked me was Jesus had his ankles staked to the sides of the bottom of the cross. He was 100% exposed- unable to cross his legs to cover his most private areas. To say that he must have felt uncomfortable was an understatement.

Those images and thoughts were running through my mind yesterday, on Good Friday, and I am reminded that one of the biggest reminders of the cross is to be uncomfortable. But how much of our lives do we spend being comfortable- with our relationships, homes, church, finances, and other pleasures? Being comfortable is easy. It allows us to rest well, not feel awkward, and be able to put our best foot forward. We know what to expect, how to manage it, and how to act. That makes life easier and much less uncomfortable.

But when Jesus was on the cross he was uncomfortable. He didn’t know what to expect, how he was going to feel, who was going to laugh at him, nor what would happen when he died. His picture on the cross is the exact definition of uncomfortable.

God calls us to be uncomfortable with giving of our time, money, conversations, and resources.  He needs us to be His hands and feet on earth doing His will.

What are you doing to push yourself outside of your comfort zone? If you don’t have a quick answer, then I encourage you to pray for opportunities to seek being uncomfortable. God will show you so much about Him in this process and cause huge growth in your faith life as a result. I promise it’s worth it.

I say all of this not to be preachy but instead as a testament of my experiences with God. I’ve experienced being uncomfortable … joining a new church, starting a monthly ministry, writing this blog, being in a leadership role I didn’t feel equipped for, “preaching” during a communion service, and spending time with refugees who don’t speak the same language as me… just to name a few. But I still have a long way to go. I always want to be growing and pushing my comfort zone when it comes to my faith. I pray that you will join me in these efforts so we can all reap the benefits of being uncomfortable.

love and learn, brooke

For Granted

It is such an odd expression.  Yet, we use it all the time.

I have recently been thinking about past experiences and how so many of them I never really considered a special privilege while in the moment.  I considered them the “norm” or expected.  But now, looking back, they may have been promised then but they aren’t promised for forever.  I took them FOR GRANTED.

Examples:

I helped start a ladies monthly wine club.  We had several successful years of meeting in each other’s homes, having a meal together while sampling 10-12 bottles of wine and this was usually all tied together with a fun/creative theme.  It was so much fun to get together with your girlfriends on a Tuesday night and catch up over wine and snacks.  We did this for nearly three years.  As I look back on those nights, I remember enjoying the excitement of being with friends and enjoying the food/wine/evening but it never occurred to me that it may end one day… FOR GRANTED.

My husband (now, boyfriend then) used to go to Vegas each August for the annual major hacker conference.  I tagged along for three years in a row.  It felt like our norm… oh, the first weekend in August?  We will be in Vegas.  Of course, I enjoyed playing penny slots, drinking free booze while playing said slots, enjoying meals at fancy restaurants and experiencing the sights of Vegas.  But it never occurred to me that one year we may not go to Vegas in August… FOR GRANTED.

When I think about loved ones I took FOR GRANTED, I think of several.  I think of my grandmother, Myma, who came to EVERYTHING.  She was always at my tennis matches, school programs, church events, etc.  She was on time, dressed nicely, and full of encouragement.  It never occurred to me that wouldn’t last for ever.  In my mind, it was a given, a “norm, an expected.  But now, she has been gone from this earth for almost 4 years and I am reminded almost daily how much I took her… FOR GRANTED.

Life changes, situations change, opportunities change… as we all know, the only thing constant in life is change.  With this in mind, I am making more of an effort to not take “norms” FOR GRANTED.  We have no guarantees in life… our health, our finances, our tomorrow, etc.  We have to make sure we do not take anything FOR GRANTED.

What are you taking FOR GRANTED?

learn and love, brooke

Magical Masters

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Masters, 2007

As I write this, I am watching The Masters golf tournament live in Augusta, GA. ¬†As a gal who was born and raised in Augusta, there is something so magical about Masters Sunday. ¬†Today is no exception, the weather is absolutely perfect. ¬†It’s fascinating how it’s such a difficult course, changes yearly and yet the pros continually kick its butt with a plethora of birdies, a few eagles and an occasional hole in one. ¬†There is something about the weather, atmosphere, trees, course, and everything else coming together to create this magical day to end one of golf’s greatest weeks.

What do I love the most?  The shadows.  I love seeing the long shadows casting beautiful darker colors on the greens and fairways. The course is so perfectly manicured on TV (and in person) that it seems fake.  The camera folks do such a wonderful job highlighting the never ending beauty.

I also love the tradition and etiquette. ¬†Everyone is on their best behavior because they know if they cause any problems, they will be removed and their badges will not be renewed the next year. That’s a lot of risk for not being on your best behavior. ¬†Also, phones are not allowed. ¬†At all. ¬†I kind of love this- it forces everyone to be present and involved. ¬†To truly remember the moments versus experiencing them with a ton of phones in your view that are also trying to capture the moment. ¬†Personally, I think we need more of that (or lack of) in our world.

I never watch golf on TV and very rarely play it, but I always watch the last hour or so of Masters Sunday. ¬†It’s a tradition that my dad embedded in me as a child and teen. ¬†He’d open up the back door and blinds and turn it on our living room tv. ¬†It was his effort of being able to enjoy the beautiful weather while also watching the tournament.

Growing up in Augusta, I was completely oblivious to how big of a deal it was for the Masters to take place 6.5 miles from my house. ¬†I knew that many of my friends rented their homes to corporate groups to house patrons. ¬†I knew that we never called that week off school, “Spring Break” and instead always called in Masters Week. ¬†I knew that we’d usually get badges to go to the tournament on Friday of Masters week. ¬†My mom always would go get them from our friends who were gracious enough to share. ¬†We’d each go for several hours then meet up to trade with another family so we could all go. ¬†I knew all of this but now, as an adult who lives in Atlanta, I really get it.

Last week, we were walking through the Garden of the Gods in Colorado and I overheard a guy comment on my son’s Masters hat and say “speaking of my bucket list, the Masters is on it”. ¬†As someone who has been to the Masters eight or ten times, I took that fact a little less for granted.

I played tennis in a Masters hat on Thursday at a prestigious club in Atlanta. ¬†Several ladies asked, did you go to the Masters yesterday? ¬†I said no, this hat is from last year, but I’m just sharing my hometown pride this week.

To the world, the Masters is magical and to an Augusta girl, it is too,

Happy Masters Sunday Y’all!

love, brooke

Lent Day 35

Today I took on a project that I SO wanted to keep ignoring… our kitchen pantry. ¬†In my mind, it just needs to be tidied up… but in reality, it needs to be cleaned out. ¬†Thankfully the oldest thing I found expired in 2016… so I’m not too out of it!

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love, brooke

Spring Break 2017

We have spent the last several days in beautiful Colorado enjoying time with friends.  The adventure started last Thursday as we arrived in Denver with mid 60s weather and an afternoon of lunch outdoors and a visit to Tivoli’s brewery for basketball and brews. JB especially loved taking breaks from the brewpub to run around in the green space outside with a beautiful view of downtown.

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On Friday, we packed up and headed south to Manitou Springs.  It was really yucky outside so I googled for best indoor activities in Manitou Springs and found out that the Penny Arcade existed.  Before leaving Denver, we scraped together lots of pennies and quarters so we’d be prepped.  Needless to say, this place did not disappoint.  It had rows of old pin ball machines, the creepy clown shooting game, tarrot card machines, skee ball from the 60s, love test games, and so many machines to ride on.  It was a big hit for all ages in our group.

After the arcade, we checked into our awesome rental house.  We were immediately blown away by the wandering deer who were all around us.

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On day 3, we woke up to a light snow accumulation and more on the way.  It was so beautiful to watch it come down through these two story windows.  Peaceful and relaxing… exactly what I wanted out of this vacation.  We ended the day by walking to a local Cantina for happy hour and snacks.

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Day 4 was a perfect morning to visit Garden of the Gods.  The sky was so blue and contrasted the colors of the rock so beautifully.  I was blown away by how big the “Gardens” were and we enjoyed some hiking to be able to take in even more beautiful views.

After a nap, we headed back to downtown Manitou Springs for the arcade, some shopping, ice cream and a visit to the playground- then home for happy hour while watching the sunset over Pikes Peak!

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Day 5 we woke up early to head to the Cog Railway for a trip up Pikes Peak.  Unfortunately, there was too much snow on the tracks for us to make it to the summit but we were still able to make it to 12,000 feet!  Being above the tree line is magnificent.  I love the breathtaking views and being able to see other mountain chains… 150 miles away!

We had planned to spend the night at the rental house but sadly, Manitou Springs is expecting lots of snow overnight so we wanted to ensure we wouldn’t get stuck by heading back to Denver to stay with a friend.  It was a good thing we did, because we woke up to 2 inches of snow with more coming down!  We spent the last morning playing in the snow- sledding, throwing snow balls, and playing at the park.  It was a great way to end our trip!

We had a great vacation with our buds!  Grateful to be able to explore more of our beautiful country!

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learn, love & laugh, brooke

Lent Day 34

I’m back from vacation and am back at my reorganizing! ¬†Today, I worked on the fridge by cleaning it out and wiping down shelves before loading it up with new groceries. ¬†I can find everything so much easier now! ¬†Sadly, I did not get a before pic but did grab a mid way through pic.

How are your Lenten practices going?

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love, brooke