I do my best to ensure my first meeting every day is with God. Sometimes we meet on the patio, in my home office, on the couch, or while traveling. But he always has something to say.

These are my meeting notes.


peeking peaking piquing through

There are some things you can’t change. However, there is a lot you can change if you’re brave enough to take the chance to change something small and be consistent about it.

anxious

Do not assume one sentence, one word, one photo, one post, is the entire story. Hunt for context.

balance

Jesus… without u, there is only Jess. And she’s a mess. Imbalanced. But this week, in between the home cooked meal and the burnt frozen pizza there were sunrises, Dolly Parton, local coffee, squirrels and 90s grunge. There was balance. There was Jesus.

anticipation

God gave us another day. Another sunrise. Another opportunity to choose better. To respond with character, integrity and a patience… that will wait for a sunrise. What will you choose?

go make a sunrise

The sunrise exists because blue and yellow remain who they are, yet hang out together. Together they create a gradient. Go make a sunrise.

it’s easy

Sometimes it is helpful to admit that being an adult is hard. Self-control is hard. Choosing to respond with kindness is hard. Choosing to be silent when the world shouts, is hard. Choosing God’s way is hard. But the hard stuff? That is often where the world needs you to be. Where God asks me to be.

fear

I quit my job. But I wasn’t unhappy. I wasn’t running away from anything. I was running toward something.

I wanted to hug her

It was my birthday. I wanted to hug her. We awkwardly stood 6 feet apart and smiled. It will be normal again. We will hug again. Until then, I’ll keep coming back.

until the bubbles end

Some things never seem to have an end. Work. Email. Information. It’s overwhelming. So I stepped away, and remembered it’s possible. I remembered it’s okay. And I stayed.

responding

We often miss how much control we have in our response. We claim “we had no choice,” but it’s our response to their words, no matter what those words are, that reveals our character. We have an opportunity, you and I. To receive feedback with curiosity and compassion. To choose a better way.

planning meeting

Meeting Notes: It’s been a long time since we had a planning meeting. They were scheduled but I wasn’t showing up because “I had a conflict.” I was the conflict. So we met and we started at the beginning.

funk

It’s a weird thing to read something you’ve written and not recognize your own voice. To wonder where that person went and how to find her again.

boiling

I don’t want to be perpetually agitated… quick to anger, easily set off by poorly timed red lights, political posts, rearranged super market aisles, incomplete reporting, the wrong kind of ranch dressing… I want to try something different. With you.

porch swing

If I had a porch swing someone could sit with me, and in that moment we could be a blessing to each other. But I don’t need to wait for a porch swing for that. It’s my excuse. I don’t know what your porch swing is. But stop waiting for it. You are enough as you are right now.

influence

You don’t get to decide what will or won’t leave an impression on someone else. You don’t get to decide what will or won’t leave an impression on you. You do get to decide whether to care. Whether to try. Whether to be better.

Haley A Photography

anthem

The concept of an anthem, a personal musical anthem, first surfaced in college. When I had to choose what song would play when I came out on stage for the date auction. Yes, a date auction. Men and women were auctioned off to the highest bidder for one date night, and all of the proceeds… Continue Reading →

thank you card in the rays of the sunrise

high five

When you’re having a no good very bad day, can you still praise someone else for a job well done? When you’re having a no good very bad week? Very bad month? Very bad season? Can you still praise someone else for who they are? What they’ve done? For delivering a stellar presentation? For making a… Continue Reading →

choose

I cried this weekend. I experienced envy. In envy I longed for the clarity of direction from God. In envy I wanted to be pursued to participate in something bigger than myself with Him at the center. In one of the moments where this shade of green took over my emotions, I did what any… Continue Reading →

start slow

I chose to sit in the dark. Sometimes darkness is not a bad thing. It slows things down. In the evening after the sun sets and the sky darkens, your body prepares for sleep. For rest. It slows down. So I chose to sit in the dark. To listen to the rain. To start slow…. Continue Reading →

layover

I people watch at the airport. With enough distance that I can’t hear; I can only see and I write poems, imagining their stories and their lives based on body language. I. I look for you in between the pages of the novel how novel you never write back II. the secrets pile on layers… Continue Reading →

a listening hug

It was over a year ago. And it was a bad day at work. I still remember. I felt inadequate, anxious and not quite smart enough to do what was being asked of me. There did not seem to be enough hours for meetings and email and people and the work I was supposed to… Continue Reading →

your roots

Digging around the internet trying to piece together my family tree has been a scavenger hunt like no other. Deciphering handwritten census lines, attempting to translate Danish baptism records, and sheepishly reaching out to strangers to ask if we just might be related somewhere down the line. Finding your roots can be a challenge. As… Continue Reading →

in spite of

This is about focus. In spite of the bad things. In spite of the loss. In spite of lost opportunities. In spite of the things that slipped through your fingers. Because in between those “in spite of” moments, were good moments too. Moments worth recalling, worth remembering and being thankful for.

i don’t know

I don’t know what it’s like to be you. Something about us is different. So I don’t fear the same things you do in the same way. I don’t take the same precautions that you do. Something about us is different. So I don’t see opportunities or limitations in the same way. I don’t make… Continue Reading →

connected layers

I love this little hut over the ocean. We dubbed it our coffee hut, the spot we claimed each morning after a walk on the beach. And the roof of this little hut is rather impressive. A patchwork providing shade. One branch would not have been enough. But connected tightly and layered multiple times, it… Continue Reading →

well & good

Some of you are grammar nerds. No judgment, honestly, I love you all. There their they’re… you are keeping us from spiraling into lazy language. But I must ask you… Did you do good? (I can hear you cringing)  or… Did you do well?  My college president felt it was possible to do both and… Continue Reading →

radiant gradient

It started to spit. I looked up at the cloudy sky and started to place my bets. Should I pack up and run to a covered shelter or wait it out… I chose the former and watched as the soft rain fell all around me. And then the sun came out and I smiled. A… Continue Reading →

love fights

Have you ever had someone fight for you? Not the “step in and beat someone up for teasing you” kind of fighting… rather the kind of fight where someone pursues you and your love because despite whatever is going on, you are that worth it. This is the kind where someone chases you, (not in… Continue Reading →

no filter

I wanted to use a filter. To brighten the shadows, bump up the contrast, enhance the saturation. I wanted to click edit and adjust the tint on my face to better match the lack of color on my neck. To shrink my nose. To make my eyes more blue and my face more smooth. I wanted… Continue Reading →

reach out

On the heels of Christmas, one fire destroyed my cousin’s house and all of their belongings. Nothing is left. All the new things just gifted and opened are gone. All of the previous Christmases, birthdays, anniversaries, and every day momentos are gone. But… they are alive and unharmed. All eight of them. And then it… Continue Reading →

resolve

I sit here at the tail end of a cold, head pressure filled, mouth dry, teeth oddly achy, nose plugged (and yet miraculously runny at the same time). Laying in bed no longer felt good, so I made some coffee and cleared some space at the table for time with God. I open the Bible… Continue Reading →

different winds

The clouds are still rolling in, at 30 mph apparently (so says the weather channel app). It was worse all night, sustained ridiculous winds that never ceased and kept me up. My cup of coffee is pretty important this morning to get me going. And despite my whining over being tired, I am so thankful…. Continue Reading →

cream puffs & chili

I printed out my calendar for work on Monday. A color coded rainbow of where I need to be and who I need to meet with. Looks daunting. Should I dread it? Is work bad? Is it the necessary evil we make it out to be? Just a decades long drudgery until we can retire? No…. Continue Reading →

push pause

There is a lot of background noise (and foreground noise) in life. A lot of things going on that want or demand our attention. And when we’re in the middle of a tough time, a tough relationship, a tough job… (fill in the blank)… every ask seems louder, every task more daunting. So what are… Continue Reading →

leaves change

I love fall. The trees go through a season of change every year. They don’t freak out when their leaves fall off. The world is not ending. This change sets them up for something beautiful next year. Next year they will be taller and stronger than before. We have the opportunity to be stronger after… Continue Reading →

i hope

I love (understatement) the food at Epiphany Farms restaurant in town. They switch the menu every season based on what is fresh at their farm. I never want to look at the menu. I just order the multi course tasting menu and ask the waiter to tell me nothing about it. You could call that… Continue Reading →

be noble

Being noble is not reserved for old men from the Middle Ages who conquered lands. I am called to be noble and so are you. Our character matters more than the money we make or the things that we own. Choose dignity, intelligence, virtue, graciousness… choose to take the harder road of looking at the… Continue Reading →

bring coffee

I complain that I’m too busy. Too many meetings. And now I laugh. Jesus was ridiculously busy. Everyone was scheduling meetings with him, speaking events, miracle performances, one on one sessions, interrupting his day… and yet he made time for God. Relationships require investments of time. Invest time every day with God (and bring coffee)… Continue Reading →

look up

I see a lot of screens in my life these days. This morning I am watching leaders on a big screen, typing notes on a tablet, and tweeting on my iPhone. So at lunch I took a moment to step outside, lay in the grass and look up. And in this moment I was thankful… Continue Reading →

one body

Today is a new day, but this body I am sitting in is the only one I get on this earth and there is a lot God has for me to do. Do I treat his gift with respect? Not often enough if I’m being honest. What choices will keep me alert and healthy so… Continue Reading →

approval jar

If I could store up “approval from others” in a jar, that would be the treasure I hold on to. That’s my guilty pursuit and the thing that drives my decisions most days, unfortunately. I worry more about what you (reading this) will think of me. My boss. My coworkers. My employees. My parents. My… Continue Reading →

rebuild

It takes more than a day to rebuild. But it’s worth it. There is a lot of history (and even recent stories in the news) of people destroying buildings. But the stories we hear about less, though they happen, are the people coming together to rebuild. Those stories aren’t as enticing. Being patient, determined and… Continue Reading →

trust directions

One of my favorite scenes from Indiana Jones is when he has to walk across a chasm and trust there is a bridge beneath his feet even though he can’t see it with his own eyes. That first step was a step of faith. He had to trust the directions and the instructions even though… Continue Reading →

dignified strength

I take way too long to get ready. To pick my clothes, do my hair, put on makeup. It’s really a sloth like pace. I am under this assumption that what I wear and what I look like matters, and it will somehow impact the way others treat me and think about me. Unfortunately there… Continue Reading →

perspectives change

My life is not the only storyline in this world. Everyone starts from a different place. Everyone has different circumstances. Everyone has different hurts and pains and joys. In 1 Corinthians it says that love does not demand its own way and yet so often we are frustrated because people don’t see a situation the… Continue Reading →

follower

He changed. I changed. We’re not the same people we were when we got married. He is a better man than he was when I met him, and he will tell you I am a better woman. So what changed? The advice that we listened to. There was a paralyzed man who was told that… Continue Reading →

dramatic lighting

I am thankful. It’s been a rough 2-3 weeks for me. But today I find myself looking out the window and genuinely smiling. Not much has changed in my circumstances honestly, so why the smile? I can see colors. It sounds silly, but looking at the pond and the trees and the sky I realized… Continue Reading →

accomplished heart

This morning I wrote down the following prayer before I opened my devotional, “Thank you God for the morning & the sun. Quiet my heart and my mind to focus on you and not rush through you like a checkbox on a to-do list.” Then I open my devotional and the title for today, “The… Continue Reading →

be available

“to be” is a verb. (Sorry for the impromptu grammar lesson but it’s important.) When someone asks you if you are available or if you have time, the real question is will you make time? Will you make yourself available? Because “being” available doesn’t just happen. It is the result of your choices, and the… Continue Reading →

reflect

I am a talker. I know this is a shocking revelation to many of you. I believe that words matter a lot, and should be chosen carefully. Our words can confuse, clarify, anger, hurt, help, encourage, support or repair people. It’s part of why I loathe curse words, and recoil at myself in horror when… Continue Reading →

build intentionally

I always had to build a tower with the creamers, or the jelly, at the restaurant. Papa used to do it, too, and the memory of that makes me smile and miss him this morning. Building a tower of creamers, or jelly, or Legos, or Lincoln Logs gives you a childlike sense of accomplishment. Look… Continue Reading →

focus

Life is not “fake it ’til you make it.” God doesn’t ask us to pretend. It’s about seeing the world (and most importantly people) through God’s eyes. Anger, pain and anxiety can be like blinders used on horses. You only see what’s in front of you. So either turn your head or take the blinders… Continue Reading →

it’s simple

We tend to over complicate things. Should I stay here, go there, take this job, buy/sell this thing? What if I told you it doesn’t matter. Not really. No matter where you are or go, your job, your purpose in life is to love God and love others. Period. The rest is just window dressing…. Continue Reading →

patient trees

I spent part of my morning admiring the trees. They used to be seeds. But they stayed planted, weathered the storms and grew. So will I. So will you. (We already have.) Stay focused on God, planted firmly, and seek him for guidance more than any other source. Make him your first source.

dialogue

I don’t know if prayer “works”. Mainly because I don’t know what it means for a prayer to be “effective”. But I know there are moments when I feel God nudging me to say something, to be somewhere, to be silent… But that requires me to slow down and be still for a moment (several… Continue Reading →

you woke up

I hate my alarm clock. But it’s so easy to forget that we are not promised another day. God gave me another day. God gave you another day. Choose today to be the best version of you. To everyone you meet bring good, not harm, in your thoughts, words and actions. Help others at your… Continue Reading →

choose direction

When your alarm went off did you hit snooze? Or did you turn it off, get up, and start your day? No matter what you’ve already done, start from right now. Today is filled with micro moments and decisions. Choose. Be selective with your time and your words. Choose time with God and set the… Continue Reading →

suns out

Note: Attempting to take a bicep selfie at work is highly awkward, I do not recommend it… But as the saying goes, suns out guns out so here we are. The sun is up and it’s a new day, a new gift I get to decide what to do with. Will I recoil in fear… Continue Reading →

refuel

I’m beginning to think coffee is hot just to force me to slow down. If I chugged that cup of lava there would be no joy in it, just a burnt mouth and no more taste buds. But it’s scolding hot beginning gives me an opportunity. We rush around from meeting to commitment to errand,… Continue Reading →

hit pause

Stress is a mood killer. A day killer. A sleep killer. A relationship destroyer. It lies to you and tells you the world is too much and you are not enough. So I colored. Literally I took out a pen, drew a picture and colored it in with crayons. Why? Because I would never see… Continue Reading →

leave room

“Do you want to leave room for cream?” Though I drink it black, I do need room. In my calendar and in my mind. I need space and margin so I don’t see opportunities as interruptions. Leave space to listen to others, to hear the gentle nudges of God, to help others, to notice the… Continue Reading →

distracting opportunities

I have a love hate relationship with doing the dishes. On one hand, I’m super grateful I have dishes and food and a kitchen and a home at all. On the other hand, it’s a time consuming chore that leaves my hands dry and raw. I finally understand what that Palmolive lady was talking about… Continue Reading →

sunrise possibilities

I sat in simple wonder this morning. Not trying to solve a problem, make a to do list, or build my schedule for the day. I took a moment to sit, and see and listen. To feel a slight breeze in my hair and the warming sun on my face. To smell the faint hint… Continue Reading →

walk alongside

I’ve heard it said a few times that you become a reflection of the five people you spend the most time with. So if you want to become more kind, patient, loving, giving… it seems logical that we should ask whether the people we surround ourselves with exhibit those qualities or not. We walk through… Continue Reading →

eye contact

I switched tables this morning to move closer to the sun. I feel closer to God when the sun is out. I wonder at times if that’s what he looks like. The sun, bright and blinding yet warm and beautiful at the same time. And as I sit here blinded without sunglasses, I read a… Continue Reading →

wait & see

My coffee is way too hot to drink. The steam rises like the sun behind it. So unless I want to burn the roof of my mouth (again) or my tongue (again) I need to wait. What do you see while you’re waiting? How often do we see anything beyond the inconvenience we perceive? Today… Continue Reading →

positive voice

I couldn’t get the phrase “build each other up” out of my head. So I just let myself start to write. I read 1 Thessalonians 5:11 a few times and kept writing. There is a lot of noise and a lot of silence in the world. A lot of criticism and cynicism and jump to… Continue Reading →

insert here

I looked up from my reading this morning at the empty chair across from me and smiled at the thought of what it might be like to share a cup of coffee with Jesus. How would he take it? Black? Sugary latte goodness with whipped cream? When you talk with him does he look you… Continue Reading →

leave joy

When wet grass is mowed, the lines are so obvious, marking where you’ve been, where you turned, stopped… went back. Honestly you made quite the mess of ruts and mud and its obvious. You have an entire day ahead of you and I have an entire day ahead of me. We can both choose not… Continue Reading →

your path

There are days I want to be antisocial. I want to escape into a little spot of solitude and just be. But if I all I do is go from one extreme of running around from meeting to meeting to errand to event… to the other extreme of solitude I’m missing the best part of… Continue Reading →

listen understand

“Listen.” Over and over again this morning the word that kept popping into my heart was “listen.” On the surface that can seem so passive, especially if you’re in a crowded meeting room and you keep wondering why that one person (or no person) is talking. But “listen” is a verb. It implies you are… Continue Reading →

super powers

I always thought it would be awesome to be a super hero. I always wanted the ability to fly. Or to swim underwater without ever having to take a breath. Turns out we each have the same set of super powers. The ability to make people laugh, or cry, or fear. The way we talk… Continue Reading →

different lens

You were meant to change the world. You are meant to change the world. Wherever you are, every day in every interaction you have a chance to be an answered prayer. Changing the world doesn’t have to be an international service project. It can be a backyard barbecue. Most people long to be loved, to… Continue Reading →

best version

The world tells us to be who we are. But that is so limiting. I can’t imagine being forever stuck as 12 year old me or 21 year old me in all of my drama filled nonsense. If I stayed who I was ten years ago, I would still be selfish only looking out for… Continue Reading →

joyful timing

In some situations waiting is easier now that I have a smart phone to keep me distracted. But that doesn’t work for everything. I can’t make my hair grow faster, or snap my fingers and give my single friends the husbands they long for. I have to wait for those struggling through addictions to find… Continue Reading →

make your mark

My husband doesn’t like when I wear lipstick. Not only does he dislike the texture when he kisses me, but more often than not, it leaves a mark. I don’t blame him, he’s not the one who chose to wear lipstick (thankfully) and yet my choice leaves a mark on him. Our choices leave marks… Continue Reading →

through the fog

Another week of humidity is upon us, fogging up the windows with long drips of condensation. So much that sometimes it’s hard to see. My view is obstructed and I get a fuzzy incomplete picture of reality. Life is way too often like that. Things get in the way of the truth. We see one… Continue Reading →

do brave

Yes, I am the weirdo in a lawnchair in my front yard, in 4 inches of snow, wearing a snowmobile suit and drinking a beer in front of the snowman I built. It takes bravery to put yourself out there. Do brave.