Indulge endlessly in all that inspires your soul. You’ll never get bored.

“When we submit to God’s plans, we can trust our desires. Our assignment is found at the intersection of God’s plan and our pleasures… Each of us has been made to serve God in a unique way… The longings of your heart, then, are not incidental; they are critical messages. The desires of your heart are not to be ignored; they are to be consulted. As the wind turns the weather vane, so God uses your passions to turn your life. God is too gracious to ask you to do something you hate.”

As Christians, we are taught to follow God’s Plan for our lives, and ask for His guidance when we feel lost. Mere months after getting the promotion I asked and worked hard for, I found myself, instead, being pulled down a different, but old and familiar path. So I prayed, asking God for a sign. Days later, I read the devotional above, and knew the path I felt compelled to walk again is exactly where God was leading me.

A year ago, I left my news job in Lubbock to live out my life in Austin. “You’ll miss it,” one coworker told me my final day. Though the possibility of that becoming truth couldn’t formulate in my mind at the time, his words never left me. Now, just 12 months later, I was feeling pulled back into the newsroom. I did miss it.

“The meaning of life is to find your gift; the purpose is to give it away.” I’m not sure whether to attribute the quotation to Pablo Picasso, William Shakespeare, or some other person, but it seemed fitting, reading it the same week I was offered a job back in news – this time where I feel most at home, in Austin. The process of applying, interviewing, and accepting the offer went so quickly, I knew I was not only following the desires of my heart, but also the path God created for my life.

“Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.”

God wants us to thrive, so everyone sees the beauty of Him, through us. I left the news industry because I felt discouraged and distraught, but that doesn’t mean being a part of the industry wasn’t part of God’s Plan; it just wasn’t His timing. I believe God puts passions on our hearts as signs, leading us down the path He has mapped out for our lives. If you wake up each morning and ask yourself what God’s Purpose is for your life, take a moment to think about the scenarios you daydream about, what inspires you, and what persuades you to be a better version of yourself. I truly believe living in Austin and working for the news are two passions God placed on my heart for very deliberate purposes, and at very deliberate times.
And I couldn’t be more grateful that He did.

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New Year: New Outlook

Each new year, as the clock strikes 12, billions of people resolve to change something in their lives (after sharing in a toast… or two of champagne). It’s the fresh start that fills us with the idea of hope. Of course, there are always those Negative Nancys, telling us we shouldn’t wait for a new year to start that diet, or give up smoking – but if indulging in a whole pizza one last time helps you get your health on track, I say, start whenever you want.

Attending church on a regular basis, spending time each morning with God, or somehow growing in faith, is a common resolution. Church on the first Sunday of the year looked like the first day of a new college semester: filled 20 minutes before class by people you won’t see again until finals (or in the case of church, Easter). I didn’t even get to sit in my usual pew. Fellow Catholics out there, you know the struggle.

Vatican on Christmas & New Year

St. Peter’s Square at New Years, 2011. Source: AP

I don’t mean to join the crowd of Debbie Downers when I say, January 1st isn’t the only time we renew our faith. In taking a Bible study class the last few months, one of the real lessons I’ve uncovered is the truth of Purgatory. A scary word to most Catholics, Purgatory is believed to be the place one gets “stuck,” if unworthy of Heaven, though aren’t immediately sentenced to Hell. Many have grown up, fearful of getting “stuck” in this “in between” for an infinite amount of time.

Studying Corinthians in this particular class, I read, “Each man’s work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.” (1 Corinthians 3:13-15)

Like a light bulb above a 1960’s cartoon character’s head, I was suddenly faced with a different, and less scary, picture of Purgatory.
Rather than a punishment for your sins, I wondered out loud to my Bible study group, if Purgatory could instead be a place of cleansing. Like fire cleans gold and silver, Purgatory seems to me more of a “second chance” for us sinners.

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Source: ChinUpLittlePup

I believe in a forgiving God, but not a forgetful God. As humans, we all sin. God can, and will, forgive us of our sins, if we ask for forgiveness and truly accept Jesus Christ as the way to and through that forgiveness. But that doesn’t mean we get a free pass into Heaven. I think Purgatory could be a place for us to completely cleanse ourselves of all our sins. Just as we feel exiting a confessional booth, or walking out of a salon after a facial, we can walk out of Purgatory and through Heaven’s Gates feeling stripped of our Earthly wrongdoings. Instead of fearing Purgatory, I started to feel thankful for the chance to present myself to The Lord “whole” and “clean.”

The idea of a complete, fulfilling and healthy life is just what many look toward reaching and achieving when it comes to New Year resolutions, but whether you decide to focus on health and fitness, faith, career aspirations, or something else in 2016, don’t think of small progress each day the way older Catholics think of Purgatory. Progress isn’t punishment; it’s preparation for the perfect presentation of yourself.

The Power of Written Word

As a writer, journalist, and communications professional, I know the power of words. I certainly endorse written work, if for no other reason than to keep a job – but really we can learn so much, just from reading others’ writing.

I was reminded of this when I reviewed a particular blog post I wrote a couple years ago, after finishing my internship with Indianapolis Monthly. I learned about different writing styles, online, print and digital editing, but also how to scour through information of all sorts, to simply educate myself. You never know when seemingly random information, read during downtime, may become useful. Seize the moment.

You can read more about my time as an Indianapolis Monthly intern, here

Exploring the World Around Me

There is a running joke in Lubbock, Texas (thanks to Texas Tech students) that the city has absolutely nothing to offer but four (or five..or six) years of parties and drinking–while being a studious college student, of course. You get your degree and you move out as soon as possible-or at least you talk about moving out.
I admit, I have fallen into this group of Negative Nancy’s a time or two, but what a difference an internship outside the limits of campus has been for me.

My former boss alerted me to an internship opportunity with an organization known as Texas Plains Trail Region. Before, I had never heard of the TPTR and was unsure of what sort of work they did. I researched it a bit before applying for the internship and was pleasantly surprised to find out they were involved with the travel and tourism industry, in connection historic societies. I thought, “what?! This exists in Lubbock?” I was very excited about the opportunity to practice my writing and communication skills in the tourism industry and was ecstatic when the opportunity was offered to me.

In the six weeks I’ve worked with the TPTR, I have learned so much about Texas and the land around me. I am quick to think, “I can’t wait to travel the world!” And I am still very anxious to do so. But it’s amazing what you will find traveling “the world” closer to your home- the places in your city or just outside. There are adventures, art, culture and history all around us. The greatest lesson I’ve learned so far is to take every new place and experience with an open mind. What may look like a simple museum showcasing farming equipment, could hold the history to the apparel or nutrition industries that I encounter daily.
Each day I work on TPTR work, I learn something new about a place I have hardly heard of or have driven though quickly, without stopping to see what it has to offer. I think it’s about time I take advantage of living in such a large state and state exploring the world I currently live in, while saving to explore the world a little further away.