Issue 12: people who inspire me | 2-year Bible plan | Brussels sprouts recipe View in browser
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Issue 12: January 1, 2020
people who inspire me | 2-year Bible plan | Brussels sprouts recipe

[7-minute read]

Dear Sisters,

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

― Howard Thurman

Think about someone who inspires you. Not someone you envy; not someone who makes you feel like a pathetic human in comparison—someone who gives you hope just by spending time with them in real life or following them on social media.

What makes that person inspirational to you? What habits do they practice that you admire? What do they specifically inspire you to do?

For me, these people all share a few common qualities that I pray I can emulate one day:

  1. They unashamedly pursue their dreams, passions, creativity, calling, career, etc. because of intrinsic motivation, not for the praise of others, money or any other externally focused reason.
  2. They do this with humility alongside joy—they can’t help but share about what they love, but they aren’t self-aggrandizing OR self-deprecating. They’re just really into their thing.
  3. They're not constantly second-guessing themselves.
  4. They don’t manipulate or use others to achieve their goals or make themselves feel good about what they’re doing.
  5. They are generous and kind to and about others in public AND private.

I could name dozens of people who I have witnessed “come alive” in various capacities—motherhood, marriage, friendship, career, spirituality, creativity—and who inspire me to do the same. I wish I could list them all, but just to illustrate my point, here are a few.

💥 In last week’s Helpful Happies, I mentioned my friend Michelle, who loves her family so joyfully and intentionally. Michelle's kids, husband and life are not picture perfect. But they are hers, and she treasures the privilege and responsibility of loving them. She worries about her kids like any other mom, but she genuinely ADORES THEM. She talks so positively about her babies—not just “I love my kids,” but things like, “Paige is a magical girl. She always has been. She’s so nurturing and kind… etc.” Michelle does things like paint a wall in her kitchen with chalkboard paint so she can do huge seasonal drawings that make her kids happy. When her daughter was little she planned things like “Tutu Tuesdays,” where they’d wear tutus and have tea parties every Tuesday. In the summer, she clears her schedule and plans adventures with her kids. I could go on, but you get it.

✨ Michelle inspires me to ENJOY my kids and husband and to be more intentional with how I love my family. Making memories for our kids, showing my husband I love him and creating a healthy family dynamic is NOT something that just happens without effort. We naturally treat those we are closest to with the most flippancy, so Michelle’s example teaches me intentionality is essential to creating a home full of joy, unconditional love and beautiful memories.

💥 My friend Ally is a public relations professional and is so passionate about what she does. She has two small kids and works full time. She recently received an important certification that took over a year of studying for a big test, putting a huge portfolio together and going through an interview process (at least that’s my understanding of what she had to do… there was probably more). This kind of determination is astounding to me.

✨ Ally inspires me to play the long game in pursuing my professional/creative/career goals and to stay dedicated to improving and learning. I lack a lot of focus professionally, but I know I love to write, so I want to pursue my craft like Ally pursues her public relations expertise.

💥 My friend Blair has been a foster parent and also does a lot of advocacy work on behalf of the foster care system. When we fostered, I shared a lot on social media and was really kind of self-centered about it. I never see Blair complaining, patting herself on the back or really talking all that much about it. She just does what she’s called to do in a super humble way and makes a difference without centering herself.

✨ Blair inspires me to question my motivation for serving and ask myself if I could do it without shouting it from the rooftops. People who quietly or even anonymously serve others are huge inspirational figures to me because I have always struggled so much with pride in this area.

💥 This isn’t my story, but it’s so good I have to share. We have a friend named Jonathan. Like Scott, Jonathan is an engineer. Engineers have two big tests/certifications they can to take to further their careers: the Fundamentals of Engineering exam and the Professional Engineering exam. The FE covers everything engineers learn in school, including stuff like calculus and physics. The further you get from engineering school, the more difficult the FE becomes… because you forget how to do calculus. The PE is discipline-specific and tests on high-level concepts used in an engineer's job every day. 

When Scott graduated, he missed the FE exam because… well, we went to a party the night before and he overslept. OOPS. He ended up going into sales, so these exams weren’t essential to his career like they are for other engineers. 

✨ A few years after we met Jonathan, he shared that he, too, had never taken the FE or PE exam. He decided to study for and take both back-to-back, an unusual and difficult task that requires a ton of time and discipline. Jonathan passed both. Scott was so inspired that he decided to do the same. He took both exams in the span of a year, and he passed! This accomplishment was HUGE, and even though it’s not required for his job, it helps him establish credibility with his customers, most of whom are PEs themselves. Without Jonathan’s example, Scott probably wouldn’t have had the motivation to pursue this hard and optional thing.

+++

What makes these people inspirational, while others make us feel inadequate or suck the life out of the rooms they’re in? I think the answer is simple and kind of paradoxical: comparison is the thief of joy. Despite their obvious impact on others, these people aren’t doing what they do solely to impress or inspire. These folks are not insecure or overly prideful. They’re not sabotaging their gifts because they’re worried about what people will think, and they’re not sharing thinly veiled humble brags, either. They’re appropriately proud of their accomplishments while also rooting for others. They’re just staying in their lane and doing what makes them come alive.

For me, a huge part of living this way means accepting this truth: pursuing goals with excellence isn’t selfish. My insecurity benefits no one. Sometimes, I hide behind this idea of humility when I’m really just scared to take a step because I worry too much about what people think.

Building a platform to grow this newsletter isn’t conceited. Striving to be a thoughtful wife and mom isn’t prideful. Enjoying my life isn’t sinful. And what’s more—like that Howard Thurman quote so beautifully expresses, embracing what makes us come alive is an act of generosity. It gives everyone around us permission to come alive, too. Imagine a world full of people who have fully embraced what they were created to do.

What do you love? What responsibility has been given to you? How can you do that thing in a way that fulfills you and inspires others? 

Blessings on this New Year’s Day, friends. I can’t wait to witness how we all come alive this year.

Love, Jill

A very random fact 😅

I feel like I've been traveling and doing Christmas stuff for weeks and haven't done anything or read anything interesting lately, so I am really reaching for helpful happiness today, to be honest. Ha.

Anyway, I was giving Julia some ibuprofen the other day (cutting 2-year molars 😥), and as I was drawing up the 5 mL in a syringe, I had this memory of measuring out medicine in a regular spoon when I was a kid (old enough to get my own meds but not old enough to take pills, I guess? Maybe it was one of my parents, not me. The details are very fuzzy, but I know at some point I took medicine from a regular spoon). I'm pretty sure everyone did this in the 80s and 90s. It was like, "the big one is a tablespoon, and the little one is a teaspoon," right?

It got me wondering, how much do these spoons actually hold? In addition to just being curious, this knowledge could come in handy for cooking purposes. I'm sure everyone's spoons are different, but my big spoon holds almost exactly one teaspoon. Good to know, I guess? 🤷‍♀️🤣

Bible Reading Plan

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen a few stories about our church hunting experience. When we officially join the one we ended up choosing, I'll write more about that, but for now, I wanted to share a resource I found from one of the other churches we visited. 

First of all, if you ever move to a new city or are looking for a church home in your city, visit around! After visiting at least 10-15 churches in our area over the past six months, we are now signed up for email newsletters for all who have them and follow them all on Instagram. I even subscribed to a few of their podcasts. This means we're not just receiving information, teaching and resources from one church and one perspective. I think Christians are too often so loyal to the church we join that we become territorial and skeptical of others, causing us to live in a bubble. We miss out on strengths other churches have to offer when we do this. But here I am writing a whole essay, so I'll stop now and just share the resource. 🤣

One church we really loved, but wasn't ultimately the one we chose to join, is Resonate Church. They *really* focus on expository teaching (line by line through a book of the Bible instead of topical sermons) and the teaching always includes lots of historical and contextual information. 

Resonate recently announced via their email newsletter that they are launching a 2-year Bible plan with an accompanying weekly podcast in which their pastor and executive director break down that week's text for you. I've listened to the three introductory podcasts that explain the overview of the plan, how to read your Bible and the different genres of Scripture, and all three were excellent. 

I'm very excited to begin reading through the plan with them on January 6. Check out twoyearbible.org if you're interested. 

I like this idea because I'm needing to gently push myself to get back to reading Scripture on a regular basis, but I'm not ready for a super in-depth, in-person study. This is a happy medium—more than just reading, but less than a traditional Bible study. It's also five days of reading a week instead of seven, hallelujah. Plus, I've never done a "read through the whole Bible" plan so I'm looking forward to that. 

On a random note, I love that they did not put their church's name on ANY of the branding for this project. It seems like they are wanting to make this accessible and useful to people like me who are outside their congregation instead of using it solely to draw people to their church. Bravo!

Recipe: Brussels sprouts with pomegranate and pecans

Brussels sprouts with nuts and pomegranate

Start-to-finish: 35 minutes

  • 2 pounds Brussels sprouts (rinsed, trimmed and cut in half)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil 
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup walnuts or pecans, toasted
  • 1/3 cup pomegranate arils 
  • 1 cup finely chopped mushrooms (button, baby bella, or cremini)
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses (this is a common ingredient in Lebanese cooking that is becoming more popular in the US. You can order it online or find it at any store that has a great ethnic food section. If you can't find it, no worries- just use honey or maple syrup instead)

Heat oven to 450 degrees F. Toss Brussels sprouts with olive oil, salt and pepper and spread onto a large sheet pan (you might need 2).

Roast for 10-15 minutes, stir and finish for 5-10 more minutes, until the Brussels sprouts have some good caramelization and are soft. 

Transfer to a serving bowl and combine with nuts. Drizzle with pomegranate molasses and sprinkle pomegranate seeds on top. 

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