Friday, November 30, 2012

Balloon Rooms and Serving Others

This past week, when I was in Ohio, I went to the Cleveland Museum of Art. They had a balloon exhibit. The whole room was full of balloons; something like 20,000. That seems a little crazy to me, that many balloons in one room. Still, a pretty great idea. They were all purple balloons. I heard the artist loved that color most. I think he had good taste.

The line for the exhibit was like an amusement park ride. We couldn't wait the hour and a half to walk through the balloon room, but I peered closeby just to see what the fuss was about. Maybe someday I'll walk through a room of balloons. Or have a room in my house with balloons in it. Who knows.

This experience reminded me a bit of a new book by Bob Goff called "Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World." I'm pretty excited to read this book. If you get a moment, watch this video. The museum apparently isn't the only place filling up rooms with balloons.

My friend from bloggy world, Amy Sullivan, has an amazing heart for serving others, and I wanted to share this recent post of hers with you. It's worth reading, I promise. I just had to share: 99 Ways of Serving Your Family and the World This Christmas. 99, are there really even that many to name? Yes, it just goes to show about finding the extraordinary in the ordinary, of ways we can share life with people and love and giving in this season, down to taking what seems ordinary and making it not so in this holiday season. Think you have nothing to give? Think again.

You can do a lot in this colorful balloon world.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Five Minute Friday/ Thanksgiving : Thank you

Happy Thanksgiving (a little late). It’s been a year of counting gifts, here, anywhere. That hasn’t always been successful, but it keeps changing my heart as I search for how there are multitudes everywhere. 
There are so many more multitudes than I can count. It's not Monday, but everyday is a day to say Thank You.
-journal-list-gift reminders, showing me what matters is that I remember
-the people I have come to know in NC, old and new
-the familiarity of Ohio & family who never stops loving
-a small moment to shift my perspective
-sun – in Ohio even!
-re-reading "A Place Called Here"
-skipping rocks
-all, all, all is grace
-friends who remind me of thanksgiving
-home, how it can mean so many different things
-1000 Gifts this year
"You have made known to me the path of life. You will fill me with joy in your presence."
-Psalm 16:11

Inspired by Five Minute Friday : Thank You

Friday, November 16, 2012

FIve Minute Friday: Stay

At the time I didn't want to stay, those tired feet *almost needing a break from traveling. Looking back, I see myself staring for a few moments at the mountains one last time, and realize, staying is what I wanted to do. Maybe just a little longer.

There was something of home that became in me there, in the sense that yes, I could completely settle somewhere I knew nothing familiar. Scary, unfamiliar but still home for a little while. Somewhere that if I tried, I could always find a road back to. The picture is clear. And as much as I struggle at times to map out my next destination, there are some spots that stay vivid in my memory. They might have German names, they might be villages without much meaning to many people. They might fly by and you'd miss them if you weren't looking on the train. But those are the ones that stay.

Linking up with some lovely ladies for Five Minute Friday.

Happy Weekend!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Birthdays, Sisters, and Quiet

College is not a quiet place. It's not quiet when you have to wake up at 6 a.m. for tennis workouts and it's not quiet when you and your roommate are sleepers rather than party animals (we still had a blast). College is not quiet when you get infested with bugs. College is not quiet when you live in a room so small you try to rearrange your room a dozen times to figure out where to put your bed.

College can leave you with things you soon forget and often don't mind forgetting. You don't forget the people you grew up with, the ones who love you and who you stay connected with no matter where you go.

You don't forget the roommate who becomes a sister and calls you her own even though she already has five. You don't forget the times you stayed up and counted your dreams and dished out your fears and found someone else who said, "Me, too."

In the end, quiet is good, but in the loud, flurry of life we meet experiences and people who will always stick out among the clamor. 

Happy Birthday Tomorrow to a sweet sister :).

*Linking up for Five Minute Friday on the topic: Quiet

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


"Do everything without grumbling or arguing,  so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.  But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you.  So you too should be glad and rejoice with me." - Philippians 2:14-19

I was excited to complete the(Nearly) 31 days on Inviting the Uninvited, and yet, some things feel very unfinished, especially as it relates to that topic. What do you do when parts of life have no resolution?

That is probably a good thing.

I might need to tell myself this a few more times. 

There is room for sweet friends, new opportunities, purple nail polish, yes. Grumbling, no.

"For all the thirsty in need of the river
For all the sleeping hearts waking from their slumber
For everyone still standing at the shoreline, come"

-Matt Maher, "The Spirit and the Bride"

What is unfinished in your life? Can it be okay?

Friday, November 2, 2012

Roots - Family Style

“But Julie, you’re Greek, so why does your last name sound French? You should be French.”    – student I tutor who knows what’s up.

Except, I shouldn’t be French, that wouldn’t make any sense. Greek. Only Greek. On my dad’s side. Irish on my mom’s.  If you know my family, this makes plenty of sense.  We are who we are, and it fits.
I love roots. Not the kind in the ground (sorry, plants, don’t come near me, I will only kill you!), the kind I can trace back to where my great-grandfather came in from Velvando, Greece, when our name switched from Tsitsimiklis (still the coolest last name ever in my book), and how the Irish side is late everywhere they go (is that an Irish thing or just a character trait?), to stories of how Greek those ancestors were.  My brother went to Greece and it took him a few donkeys and a couple hitchhikes to get to the village we’re from. I say we’re as if I’ve been there. I hope to someday.
I’m convinced my now-love for anything Greek/Mediterranean comes from my dad’s mom, even though sadly when I was little I was far too finicky to have a taste for all the lovelies she concocted in the kitchen.
I love learning about my family, seeing my own when I get the opportunity, and even, getting to see people who resemble the crazy background I come from.  This year was the first time I went to the Greek festival in the south. It was different. I didn’t know the people there. But, something was slightly familiar, universal about the roots there too, if you looked hard enough.  And, because I couldn’t resist, I think I came home with a few pounds of Greek food J.
Question about roots, because I love learning about YOU too, any interesting facts about where you come from?
 Linking up for Five Minute Friday with Lisa-Jo Baker and others - Happy Friday!
me, Irish grandma, brother

Thursday, November 1, 2012

31 Days of Inviting the Uninvited: Old Shoes and The House He's Building

God, I know you have me on an adventure, and it's good. I can take a step back and look at the big picture, I can see that you have a purpose inside every journey and that my steps are planned by you.

It is exciting to think about all the uncharted waters yet to come, those places I often consider uninvited from the start but you are teaching me to look with a wider lens.

As we move from October to November, I can't help but think about transitions. Some transitions in our lives can be fast, but often they are slow for us when we are moving out of one season and into another, or preparing for another. To notice the subtle changes happening around us or in us during these times can be hard. It's not without the Lord doing something in my heart that I become amazed again at the bigger story at play. His story. Knowing my story is part of His.

I pray, friends, that you can see the story in your own lives as it unfolds, too.
I pray all different uninviteds are ushered in: joy, trials that give birth to hope, laughter, friendship and community, new experiences and places you might never have thought to go.

I pray a kicking off of any "old shoes" you've been walking in and rest for the tired feet.

As gifted singer/songwriter Audrey Assad says during this live performance of "The House You're Building, "God chooses us before we're perfect...He picks the broken stones to build the house with."

God knows what He's doing with what He's building.

"If God is sovereign, then he is in control of all the details of my life. If he is loving, then he is going to be shaping the details of my life for my good. If he is all-wise, then he's not going to do everything I want because I don't know what I need. If he is patient, then he is going to take time to do all of this. When we put all of these things together - God's sovereignty, love, wisdom, and patience - we have a divine story."
-excerpt from "A Praying Life"

This is the last day in the series, yet I have not "arrived" with the uninvited. It's been a learning experience to write about it for (close to) 31 days. Still, the uninvited can be hard for me. I need to remind myself that sometimes the uninvited is there to remind me what I place my trust in; where is my identity? God truly is a shelter for every "misfit soul." And for everytime that something or even me does not feel like it "fits" into the organized box I'd like to place it in, I am reminded there is always a place for me in front of God, who knows exactly what He is doing and is "the solid rock we are built on."

*Catch the posts you missed from the 31 Nearly 31 Day series here.