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Enough with the Numbers!

As I have said before, I LOVE numbers. Actually, my profession is in numbers. I love crunching, analyzing, and projecting them. I’m not sure why, but I feel like my brain loves the challenge of finding the right answer and there is always an answer when it comes to numbers.You may already wonder where this is going, but stick with me, I promise I have a point!

You see, I am trying to change a habit. First thing my mind goes to when measuring anything – a basketball game, a vacation, or the success of a youth event is — What was the score? How much does it cost? How many youth attended? I think that is pretty normal. We tend to measure success quantitatively.

I want to write about the last one though – How many youth attended? That is the habit I am trying so hard to change. Recently, I took on a youth-group leadership role at my church. A group of adults have been meeting regularly to discuss where God is leading us in encouraging our youth.

As I have mentioned before, this past summer I went to New Orleans for our triennial national youth gathering. It’s the first time I had ever participated in something like that and it was fantastic. My favorite session was in regards to youth ministry – moving from event-based to relationship-based concepts. From what I gather, this is a newish idea. Instead of having a bunch of youth events, adults start to invest in the lives of the youth. I could go on forever about this subject but I’ll save that for another time. I do know I was sold on this idea. The impact can be so much greater when you start to build a relationship versus when you hold an event, send them home, and never scratch the surface of who they are.

I’ve brought this idea back to my church and people are on board and excited to see where God will lead us. I’ve started a small group huddle with a few teenagers and it is everything I had hoped it would be. It’s so exciting to live alongside and support them, to see where their interests lie, to see how God is working in their life, and to pray for the things that bring them stress.

BUT… there is a big BUT here. I still find myself measuring success in numbers. That is EXACTLY what we want to get away from. When talking to people about how a recent youth gathering went, my first response…. “We had 6 but it was still great!” UGH! In that moment I wanted to take it back so badly. Especially the “but”. I measured the success based solely on the numbers.

I wanted to rewind that instant so badly and give an answer like, “We had a wonderful time! The youth all enjoy and care for one another. The adults interacted, laughed with, and encouraged the youth, it was all around a great experience.” That is an accurate picture of where we want to go. Stories instead of headcounts.

It doesn’t matter if we had 1 or 21 youth. If just ONE youth got to know just ONE adult, that is God working. I know habits are hard to break and this is hard work, but I am committed to it! I want to encourage this shift and changing the way I speak about success is a good start.

It’s not always about the numbers. Sometimes, it’s never about them.

I’m Back!

I’m baccckkk! 🙂

It’s been a while since I’ve found the time to write and I noticed recently that I miss it. So, it seems appropriate for my first post back to follow-up on 16 things I wanted to accomplish this year. Here’s the original post with an update on how it’s gone:

Here’s to 2016! I’ve decided to see if I can come up with a list of 16 things (in lieu of 2,016 things!) I look forward to, hope for, or want to accomplish in the New Year:

  1. I cannot wait for Finding Dory! Finding Nemo is one of my favorites and I’m so looking forward to this movie. I LOVED this movie. I also own it.
  2. I get to travel to New Orleans in July with 12 teenagers and 4 other adults from my church. We are going to a national youth gathering. This happens once every three years and there are 20-30 thousand that attend. It will be my first time in New Orleans and the first time I’ve ever been at anything like this. I’m looking forward to this opportunity very much. This was a MAJOR highlight of my year. It was the culmination of about nine months of massive planning, and it was totally worth it! It was amazing to be with 25,000 other people who believe the same thing I do. I was in awe for most of our trip. The experience will stick with me for a long time (including the travel nightmare at the end of the trip, but that’s another post in itself!). I wouldn’t change anything about this trip and I just may be crazy enough to go again in 3 years!
  3. I want to start something new. I’m not sure what yet. Maybe cardio-boxing? Maybe running? Yeah, probably not running. As you may have read, I did try running! Sadly, it didn’t last very long. Maybe I’ll try again in 2017.
  4. My sister is graduating with her Bachelor’s degree in 2016! I’m super proud and look forward to celebrating this remarkable feat with her. Sister did graduate! With honors! It was a wonderful ceremony. I’m so proud of her!
  5. Biking season! I love to ride my bike. Last year I was just shy of 500 miles for the season. This year I’d like to achieve or surpass the 500 mark. Unfortunately, I didn’t get on my bike as much as I would have liked to. Item #2 took a lot of my time in the early summer months, and I really never logged major miles towards the end either.
  6. A great basketball season. I’m in the middle of coaching 3rd/4thgrade boys and our games start mid-January. I hope they have fun and maybe learn a thing or two. Also, the games are pretty fantastic to watch. I love it. Still love it! I’m coaching again and I can’t believe this is my fourth year doing so. The boys are still adorable. This year may be a bit more interesting. We seem to have a wide variety of skill with this group of boys. It’s so much fun!
  7. Let go. Of things I can’t control and things I cannot change. Work in progress, but I’d like to think I’ve done better this year than in the past.
  8. Go on more day-trip adventures. My sister and I did this a few times this past summer and it was so much fun. I like exploring new places and seeing new things. We totally did this! We went to one of our favorite state parks this summer. Even better, in October we took a wonderful vacation on the beaches of Clearwater, FL. We hadn’t been to the ocean in about 12 years and we LOVED it. I would love to live on the water someday.
  9. Lean on God. Pray. Pray some more. Also a work in progress. I can always be better at this.
  10. Play more games. Board games, card games, and puzzles. They are all great pastimes and I want to make more time to enjoy them. I have tried to do this in my spare time. I’m currently working on a puzzle and I love to put them together. My brain likes the challenge.
  11. Step out of my comfort zone. Even just a little bit. I’m not sure what this means or what it may look like, but I think good things could come from it. I think I’ve done this by really taking time to get to know the high school youth at my church. A year and a half ago I would have been terrified to hang out with high school kids. I loved that I started to build relationships with them on the NYG trip (see #2) and I wanted to make sure to continue that when I got back. I enjoy them all so much!
  12. I really like to read and to learn. I need to make more time for it. I’m really looking forward to reading Seized, by Elizabeth Heiter. It came out yesterday and I can’t wait to get a copy! Sad update… I haven’t finished this book! I’m a slug when it comes to reading. I started reading this and “other things” got in the way. The book fell by the wayside.
  13. Say “no”. As a complete sentence and without remorse. I don’t know about this. I think? I’ve gotten better at saying no.
  14. Finishing the Grey’s Anatomy series. My sister and I have been binge-watching to catch-up to the new season. We are currently on season 9 of 12. Of course we finished catching up! Still one of my favorite shows.
  15. Appreciate “my people”. Make some amazing memories with my wonderful friends who care about me. I’m happy with this. This last year has been full of great times with great people.
  16. Enjoy 2016! Live in the moment. I’d like to try to dwell less in the past and not fret about the future. It sounds super cliché, but it’s not so easy to do. Overall, I’d say 2016 was a good year except one major loss. Sadly, after fighting dementia for 15+ years I lost my beloved grandma in August. I miss her. She hadn’t known me for a while because of the horrible disease, but I miss her. I have so many wonderful memories of her. She had the most kind, gentle, loving soul and is missed by so many.

Running – Week one!

Week one is complete! Here’s how it went down:

Day one – last Saturday morning:

It was a beautiful morning for a light jog/walk. The program I’m following is great. I like that the guy that narrates it is very encouraging. Jogging for 2 minutes four times with walking in between really wasn’t as hard as I thought. I felt invigorated when I completed the first day. I didn’t die!

Day two – last Sunday morning:

Sunday weather was even better than Saturday. I ignored the program’s advice to make sure to rest at least a day. It was beautiful so how could I not take advantage?!? Bad idea. I made it through the program but my calves were not happy with me for a few days! My back was pretty achy too, for a couple days. Lesson learned– I’m resting in between running days. 

Day three – this afternoon:

I wasn’t able to get running in during the week. It was snowy and gross or I had plans during the week nights after work. I think this part is going to be the most challenging — finding (making!) the time during the week. I just got back from the third round. I have to say it was GREAT! I felt like I should have been running more and I’m not really tired. I think that’s a good sign. Sister also joined me on this one and she did awesome!

Week 2 is up next… The running intervals only increase a little bit and I’m actually looking forward to it! 

 

To run or not to run?

I HATE running. I would like to not hate running, but that is hard!

The only time I will run is when it involves some sort of team sport, basketball, football, baseball, etc. I don’t really know how people run for “fun”. I’m pretty sure RUN and FUN don’t ever belong in the same sentence.

I do realize there are many people who enjoy running and there are many health benefits of running. I would like get to a point where I can tolerate running as an option for exercise. I know it would help my basketball game tremendously and be good for my overall health. I also think I’m in good enough shape to be able to handle running.

A friend recently recommended a podcast that gradually increases the amount of running, with the goal of finishing a 5K. That would be pretty cool. I think my tendency with programs like these are to skip ahead and go for gold on the first day. Clearly, past experience tells me this is NOT a good strategy to take with running. Gradual increases are probably best. I believe if I have a tangible goal at the end of this, my chances of sticking with the plan go up exponentially.  A color run, or something like that, sounds pretty fun to me. Maybe that is what I will aim for.

I’m holding myself accountable by writing about my progress. If I write about it I HAVE to do it, right? 🙂

Tomorrow is day one. Hopefully I survive.

16 for 2016

We are in the final days of 2015. Overall, I’d say that 2015 was a peculiar year for me. There were major highs – getting a new job, spending time with awesome people, enjoying our apartment, going on road trips, and making new friends. But, also some lows – my first surgery, severed relationships, and my immune system was not my friend for a good part of this year.

Here’s to 2016! I’ve decided to see if I can come up with a list of 16 things (in lieu of 2,016 things!) I look forward to, hope for, or want to accomplish in the New Year:

  1. I cannot wait for Finding Dory! Finding Nemo is one of my favorites and I’m so looking forward to this movie.
  2. I get to travel to New Orleans in July with 12 teenagers and 4 other adults from my church. We are going to a national youth gathering. This happens once every three years and there are 20-30 thousand that attend. It will be my first time in New Orleans and the first time I’ve ever been at anything like this. I’m looking forward to this opportunity very much.
  3. I want to start something new. I’m not sure what yet. Maybe cardio-boxing? Maybe running? Yeah, probably not running.
  4. My sister is graduating with her Bachelor’s degree in 2016! I’m super proud and look forward to celebrating this remarkable feat with her.
  5. Biking season! I love to ride my bike. Last year I was just shy of 500 miles for the season. This year I’d like to achieve or surpass the 500 mark.
  6. A great basketball season. I’m in the middle of coaching 3rd/4th grade boys and our games start mid-January. I hope they have fun and maybe learn a thing or two. Also, the games are pretty fantastic to watch. I love it.
  7. Let go. Of things I can’t control and things I cannot change.
  8. Go on more day-trip adventures. My sister and I did this a few times this past summer and it was so much fun. I like exploring new places and seeing new things.
  9. Lean on God. Pray. Pray some more.
  10. Play more games. Board games, card games, and puzzles. They are all great pastimes and I want to make more time to enjoy them.
  11. Step out of my comfort zone. Even just a little bit. I’m not sure what this means or what it may look like, but I think good things could come from it.
  12. I really like to read and to learn. I need to make more time for it. I’m really looking forward to reading Seized, by Elizabeth Heiter. It came out yesterday and I can’t wait to get a copy!
  13. Say “no”. As a complete sentence and without remorse.
  14. Finishing the Grey’s Anatomy series. My sister and I have been binge-watching to catch-up to the new season. We are currently on season 9 of 12.
  15. Appreciate “my people”. Make some amazing memories with my wonderful friends who care about me. <- That sounds like something an old lady would say… Oh well, I’ll embrace my old-ladyness. 🙂
  16. Enjoy 2016! Live in the moment. I’d like to try to dwell less in the past and not fret about the future. It sounds super cliché, but it’s not so easy to do.

Have a happy new year!

What a year!

I have surpassed the 1-year mark for this blog! That doesn’t seem possible. A lot happened in the last year. My sister and I moved into our apartment, had my first (unexpected) surgery, got a new job, made new friends, went on a few adventures, and learned so much along the way.

I can’t even believe we have been in our home a year now. In some ways the time has flown by. It is probably the best decision we’ve made and I don’t know how we’d be anywhere else. I love our home. It’s so peaceful. This adulting stuff has its perks. Yesterday we decorated our apartment for Christmas for the very first time. I love Christmastime! I’m listening to Christmas music as I write this. Actually, I’ve been listening since early November… my sister thinks I’m crazy!

This year has been pretty great. I am so pleased with my decision to quit my old job and go to work for the local park district. Everyone there is so fantastic. It makes for a wonderful place to be 40 hours a week. A few weeks ago, we had a meeting and afterward…WE PLAYED BASKETBALL! Seriously! Sometimes, I feel like I’m dreaming and if that’s the case, I don’t want to wake up! 😉

In less than a week I will be 26 years old. It doesn’t feel like a big deal. Twenty-five felt like a big deal but 26 not so much. As the year has passed I’ve grown up a lot. I’m more responsible than I was. I didn’t think I’d like that, but I do.

This year has had its fair share of heartaches too. I’ve learned I cannot change people. I have to stay true to who I am and not get lost in what others think I should be. I’ve lost relationships and it hurts. I pray that God will restore these relationships in time.

Looking back on this year, I’m so thankful. Fitting, since we just celebrated Thanksgiving and it was such a great one. I’m so thankful for the people in my life that encourage me, that support me, that listen to me, and that love me. I’m thankful for YOU reading this right now.

Here’s to another awesome year. I want to write more. I want to read more. I want to explore more. I want to learn more. I want to laugh more. Most of all, I want to love more.

Peace amid the Chaos

Lately, my life has felt like it’s happening at the speed of light!  I’ve taken on a lot of responsibilities in the last month.

In early October I was asked to lead the group of students from our church that will be attending the 2016 LCMS National Gathering in New Orleans. This gathering happens every 3 years and includes teens from all over the U.S. Usually the attendance is around 20 – 30 THOUSAND kids. That’s incredible. I didn’t grow up in church and I have never attended anything like this. I am looking forward to this opportunity very much. I am super excited to see how this trip will affect these kids and their faith.

This is a huge undertaking and I really don’t feel qualified. I think God is a fan of using the “underqualified” – at least I hope so! The planning is overwhelming at times, and it is easy to get wrapped up in the details. My prayer is God will use me to the best of my abilities and strengthen my faith in Him. I’m not the best at letting go of control. This is a good opportunity for me to do so. There are some aspects of this trip that I cannot control. I need to lean on God and trust that everything will work out.

For the past few weeks I have also been leading our high schoolers on Sunday mornings for Bible study. Again, I don’t feel qualified. I said “yes” when asked if I would lead for five weeks. I have a tendency to overuse that word. 😉

Here’s the thing – I am not one to enjoy leading a group. It’s uncomfortable for me. At the time I thought it would be good to be out of my comfort zone a little bit. The first two weeks I really had a hard time with not being able to read the kids, knowing if I was on the right track with them or not. The high school youth can be a tough crowd. They don’t always give off the sense of, “that was fantastic” or “that was terrible”. Sometimes I wish they did. However, this past Sunday I felt really reinvigorated. They seem to be warming up to me and we had a really good conversation about some topics that I don’t think they’d bring up unless they were comfortable. I’ve got two weeks left leading this group and I hope my time with them continues to be encouraging. It’s a blessing for me to get to know all of them. I’m really fond of this group of kids. They are great with each other and there is a sense of respect that I think everyone—young and old—could learn from. I think we can connect on many things because I can put myself in their shoes. Not that long ago (less than a decade) I was a teenager and dealing with the craziness that can go with that stage in life.

On top of that, I’ve been co-teaching the 4th and 5th graders of our congregation. My sister and I have done this for the third year now. I really enjoy these kids. I love that they are really a great group and that they have such close bonds with one another.

Last week also marked my first practice coaching boys’ basketball. This is also my third year doing so. My team seems great! They boys really seem like they are going to be a close team, and we are way ahead, skill-wise, than I thought. I enjoy watching them play a sport that I love so much.

Life is a bit hectic for me right now. Some may say a bit chaotic. I enjoy being “busy”. For a while, I thought I may have bit off more than I could chew, and maybe I have. Thinking of everything I am responsible for can be very overwhelming. I don’t want to let anyone down. I’ve prayed over and over for God to lead me in all of these things and I know He has. There is no way I could ever do this on my own.

Today I have noticed something different. I have really started to have a sense of peace. It’s surprising me. I’m not stressing over the 19.7 things I need to get done in the next 4.3 days. God has given me this peace that is definitely not something I could muster up on my own. I think back to just a few years ago when I didn’t have a church, a relationship with God, or the relationships with people I’ve been so blessed to get to know. My life is so much different than it was three years ago. I’m thankful for where God has brought me and I’m looking forward to see where He takes me. I am thankful for this busyness. I am thankful for these opportunities. I am thankful for peace amid the chaos.

See ya, summer!

Holy moly! The end of summer is here. It feels like it has come and gone in a whirlwind!

I’ve had a great summer this year and I’m a bit sad to see it wind down. My sister and I have gone on adventures, made new friends, went on too many bike rides to count,  had tons of fun at church functions and basked in the warm sun.

This year we’ve explored Mackinac Island and Devil’s Lake. Both places were new destinations for us and we LOVED them both. If you enjoy the outdoors I highly recommend checking them out. The scenery is absolutely beautiful.

I’ve been working at our local park district for 5 months now. I love my job, and am so glad I decided to make the switch. My coworkers are awesome and I’ve enjoyed getting to know everyone. The coolest part of working at a park district in the summer is seeing all the different activities that the kids get to enjoy. Everyday I relished seeing the adorable little campers stomping around our parks. This summer I got to do accounting and be around kids. Truly, is there anything better? 🙂

The fall is upon us. I’m a huge fan of this season. The cool weather, the changing leaves, and of course, the start of hockey season.

Fall means we are getting back into the swing of things. Soon my sister and I get to pick back up teaching the 4th and 5th graders of our church. We love that. Mid-fall also means I get to start to coach boys’ basketball. I can’t wait!

Summer… it’s been fun! Bon voyage!

Career Crossroads

My life has been quite eventful lately!

About a month ago, I applied for a business position at the local park district. I didn’t hear anything from them for a while so I assumed the job was filled. Two weeks ago, I received an email that I was invited to interview.

When I applied for this job I wasn’t looking for a job at all. I happened to come across the posting, and the position seemed like it could be a good fit for me. I applied on a whim, truly not expecting to hear back.

Well, I was wrong. I had my first interview last Wednesday. It went very well. I enjoyed the people I met and I was starting to feel like this may be a good move for me. Last Friday, I had the second interview with my potential boss and his boss.

Over this past weekend, I thought about the pros and cons, the impact this could have. cross-roadsI found myself at a crossroads. I would be going from a privately held medium-sized corporation to a municipal/governmental organization. That’s a HUGE change in the way the accounting is done. I debated for a long time.

I’ve been at my current job for almost three years now. I’ve learned so much. I’ve made some pretty great friends. I would miss them. I am secure in this position and I enjoy what I do most of the time. Then the flip side, I’d love to learn more about governmental and fund accounting. I enjoyed classes on the subject in college. The park district seems to fit my personality so much better. I have volunteered most recently as a young boys’ basketball coach for them and I LOVED it.

My current job is VERY corporate, very structured, not a ton of room for growth. My hands will be in a lot of areas if I take this job with the park district because the structure is much smaller. I like that. I like having several responsibilities. I thrive in those situations.

Then Monday morning rolled around. I was offered the job. It all became very REAL. I had a decision to make. Fortunately, money wasn’t a big deciding factor. So it really came to the intangibles. Where could I see myself? What would mean the most to me? Would I regret not pursuing a great opportunity?

I have to say I think my decision really relied on the fact that I think this could be a great step for me. To expand my knowledge and to know I could have an impact. I started to lean very heavily in one direction…

I made the decision. I accepted the offer with the park district!

Then all the “fun” stuff came after–telling my boss, rejecting their counteroffers for me to stay, and giving two weeks notice. I’d say overall it went very smooth. Most people here are very happy for me and wish me well.

I am really looking forward to this path I have chosen.  My prayer is that God leads me in this position and guides me to be the best I can be, all for His glory!

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