Day 8: Wishfully Being Who You Were Made To Be.

I think often times we meet people who inspire us,

but the ones that mean the most are the ones who inspire us while honoring who we are.

I first met Nalin in the fall of 2012.

She came to Faulkner University as a freshman and quickly became a beloved classmate.

But it wasn’t until after I graduated and got married that I really struck up close friendship with Nalin.

She randomly invited herself, along with her now husband husband (then boyfriend) and a few other friends over for dinner,

at a time when I needed community desperately. 

There’s just something incredible about a friend with a heart like that.

She swears she didn’t know, that she simply wanted to see where we lived, but I am almost certain that the Lord nudged her to do that simple act of kindness.

You see, my favorite thing about Nalin is that she doesn’t stray from being and doing EXACTLY what she loves.

I love her story.

Her story is pretty inspiring, but what I love most about it is that it is still being written.

There are so many blank pages left for Nalin to fill in with her art, her words, and her culture.

Nalin is a first generation American, the daughter of an incredible man who sacrificed everything to get to America.

She grew up in a Laotian home smack in the middle of one of THE MOST southern towns in the USA.

But, Nalin’s heart and perspective allows her to see beyond walls and boundaries in community with her friends and within her art.

She sees life through eyes that know how to be true to who you are and where you come from, all while honoring the people in her life so willingly and selflessly.

I went over to her apartment to hang out with her one afternoon last week and we chatted about her journey to simply  figuring out what she wanted to do with her life.

Nalin shared:

Well, I went to college for marriage counseling and quickly found out that was NOT what I wanted to do. But then Ben pushed me to pursue designing some greeting cards.  In High School I would make these little cards for Ben, personalizing every single one of them with weird pictures and designs. So Ben pushed me. He pushed me to start making greeting cards for people.  I think that’s kind of where it all started. That’s what eventually pushed me to pursue graphic design.” 

Ben and Nalin recently got married.

The two were high school sweet hearts and I am pretty sure they were made for one another.

“Ben always encourages me, telling me that I am my own worst critic.  I couldn’t do it without him. In fact, he works so hard so that I can pursue my art.”As I went through all of Nalin’s art work I noticed such variety.

She makes wedding invitations + programs.

She makes calendars.

She makes greeting cards.

She makes animated videos.

She does film photography (as pictured above).

She illustrates all the Children’s books I’ve written.

Of all the amazing things Nalin can create, I asked her what her goal was.

What is your vision for your art?

What do you want people to experience when they get work from you?

“I want people to feel encouraged.  I want my work to be work that leaves people feeling happy. I know my style. It’s quirky, it’s bright, it’s me. I want people to feel like they have gained some sense of encouragement from working with me.”

Nalin loves to illustrate.

And dang, she’s good at it.

But I think my favorite thing about this incredibly powerful friend of mine is that she is good at being herself. 

She is good at knowing what she loves, what she’s good at and chasing after it.

Dearest Nals,

thank you for teaching the people around you how to be powerfully themselves by living out of a place of honor and grace for the world around you.

You teach more people than you know.In 30 Days of Wishful doing, I hope we can challenge ourselves to be who we were made to be.

May we be fearlessly ourselves.

Days 6&7: Get Soaked.

Recently it has been raining a lot in Alabama.

April showers bring May showers?? 

In fact the other day there was torrential down pour as I was frantically trying to get to the Montgomery Prayer Breakfast.

I had anxiety about what I was wearing, how I looked, and for alllll my curly headed ladies out there, we all know that when it rains outside, you hair is a hopeless cause.

I rushed through the house, down the interstate in horrible traffic and blinding rain, and found a parking spot.

I had to meet my husband there and I frantically got out of my car.

My rain coat hood wouldn’t go completely over my head , to which I later realized was because my side sling purse was weighing down a side of it.

I grabbed an umbrella and used it for extra strength as I ran down the hill of Dexter Avenue.

Halfway down the hill I went to grab my phone to call my sweet, selfless husband and realized it was in my car.

I was already frantic because I was on the verge of being late, I was in a terrible storm, I was soaking wet, I had NOTHING together…. you know those mornings.

I started running back to my car for my phone so that I could find my husband efficiently, without stress, HA!

As I was running towards my car, I crossed the street in front of a LOT of traffic and my umbrella flipped inside out, my dress blowing in a million directions, and the only thing I could do was talk to myself saying , “Do NOT have a panic attack, you are fine, do not panic, you will NOT have a panic attack today, you are okay, this is rain, those are strangers, if you are late the world will survive, in fact Laura you will survive, do NOT have a panic attack.”

I got my phone, found my husband, and probably gave the large crowd of people blissfully sitting in their morning commute traffic a big laugh.

I still hurried to the breakfast trying to escape the rain that had flooded my day.

I raced through it.

I panicked through it.

I struggle with anxiety a lot of days.

So rain never helps an anxious driver, a person who doesn’t want to be late, a person who doesn’t feel put together.

As I reflected on those moments this morning I laughed because how HILARIOUS did a 5’11, frizzy headed, woman look running through downtown Montgomery talking to herself?? 

But as I reflected the Lord stopped my thoughts and said, “My rain is a symbol of my spirit in your life. Stop running through it, somedays it’s worth getting soaked.”

I imagined standing in that rain.

I imagined getting soaked by the Holy Spirit.

I also saw a picture in my mind of myself standing there, talking myself out of a panic attack best that I could and realized that Jesus was there with me.

When my hair was imperfect, when I was all out of sorts, when anxiety had decided to be a companion, Jesus was there.

Holy Spirit was pouring down.

And even then, I was soaked by His presence.

Even when anxious thoughts suppressed my ability to even have a clear thought,

He was there.

This weekend, rain or shine.

Take a moment to soak these words and let Heaven drench you.

Nehemiah 2:4

And the King granted me what I asked, for the good hand of my God was upon me.”

Happy Wishful Weekend.

Do incredible things.

Day 5: #foodfriday Mrs. Wendy’s Sweet Tea

I know sweet tea isn’t food.

But in the South, it’s a staple.

Growing up, my Mama never let sweet tea run dry in our refrigerator.

I am pretty sure there was sweet tea in our sippy cups. 

I can’t even count on my fingers the amount of times people came over to our house just to sit + sip tea and just simply visit.

My friends would come over and immediately open our refrigerator asking for “Mrs. Wendy’s sweet tea.”

People were always coming to their house, some blood related, some not, coming just to be there.

Some were just killing time.

Some wanted wisdom.

Some came for just time together.

But no matter the reason,

it was at their house that they had that tea. 

That tea that my mama mastered.

She learned it from my great grandmother.

And it is, it really is the best sweet tea.

I’ve tried my hardest to be able to make my tea taste like hers.

But it NEVER tastes the same.

But I think the reason that tea tastes so perfect is the reason we all drink it.

Because yes, I’m not lying y’all, its amazing.

And yes, mother, if you’re reading this I know the key is to “let it sit” before adding water.

BUT

We drank that tea at supper every night as kids.

We drank tea when we had a bad day at school and my mama fixed us a glass to make us feel better.

We drank that tea when all my friends came over after school or church.

We drink that tea at #PlunkettTuesday dinners.

My mother stewards hospitality in the most honoring way.

She opens her home every single week for everyone to come over and sit around her + my Dad’s table.

She is a mom to those whose parents live in other cities, states, and countries.

She has spent her life allowing her home to be a haven for people to comfortably walk into without knocking…

Just to sip on some sweet tea.

Her sweet tea really is the best.

BUT

Her hospitality is what makes us all crave it.

Because,

It means more time learning from her.

In 30 days of wishful doing, I challenge you to be a person who loves people well.

A person who allows the world around you to experience the power of Jesus through your kindness, your joy, your listening ear….

and maybe just a glass of sweet tea.