Browsing Category

Travel

Bible, Life, Museum of the Bible, Travel, Uncategorized, Work

“Busy” is not synonymous with “Successful” – Managing life well

June 24, 2016

BYP-109 copy

Have you noticed that when people are asked “How are you?” their response, more and more, is “Busy!”? I’ll admit, this is often my go-to response. It is the natural reply that rolls off of my tongue during friendly small-talk conversation. When I began to realize that this had become my typical reply, and dug a little deeper to try to understand why, I discovered that one of the reasons I want to say “Busy!” is because I want to make it sound like I am doing a lot of important things. It is an easy way of giving a #humblebrag. So I’ve decided that I want something better to say.

This is not to say that “busy” isn’t a truthful response, but I don’t want it to be my standard. Honestly, I don’t always even feel busy. I do have a full schedule, but it mostly involves things that I am passionate about and that fuel and energize me. Besides investing in my marriage, relationships, and spiritual journey, I get to work full time for Museum of the Bible, wear my “Hobby Lobby/Green family member” hat at times, live on the road 60% of the time, and try to keep up with my inbox, blog, and social media activities. And for some crazy reason, I just enrolled in two graduate level seminary courses!

Maybe my go-to response will be #blessed or “better than I deserve!”—but those seem trite and too #Christiancheesy. While I continue figure out what to say when asked “How are you?”, here are a few ways that I keep my schedule under control to avoid mental and spiritual burnout.

BYP-99 copy

1. Knowing myself and my limits.

A few weeks ago, I forgot this one. I had some work events that were higher stress than normal, and I didn’t give myself room to decompress afterward. I went from hosting a three-day retreat for women that are speakers and leaders, right into a three-week travel schedule to seven different cities/events, and ending back in OKC just in time for a full weekend of college graduation festivities for my brother-in-law. When I landed in OKC to change clothes and go right into graduation party mode, I was not in a good place—and Michael and I were having conflict. It wasn’t pretty. And it affected half of the celebration weekend. (Sorry to those of you that were around me!)

I needed to let myself have time to recover and rest. I need to make sure I have space in my schedule to allow for recovery when I see that things might be hectic for an extended time. We were not created to work for rest, but to work from rest. And if there are seasons when it isn’t possible to create that space due to situations that don’t allow a Sabbath kind of rest, I need to be sure I lean on God to give me the strength to make it through that time with grace. This leads to my second point.

IMG_9122

2. Not sacrificing my time with God.

I need to keep my spiritual walk a priority. When the schedule begins to fill up, and knocks other things off my schedule, I have to fight to keep this a priority. I need time with my Bible and time in prayer. It should be unthinkable that I can’t find time in my schedule for the Creator of all things.

God sustains me during the busy seasons better than any other gimmick or tip I could write about. I experience a significant difference when I am spending quality time with God than when I am setting aside that relationship as a lesser priority. God, and the truths from the Bible, is my greatest strength and sustainer. Yet for some reason, I still allow myself to forget and sacrifice that time for lesser things.

To this point, the friends of Martin Luther said he spent three hours in prayer every day. I don’t know what Luther’s schedule was like, but I have to assume it was pretty busy, with the-whole-starting-of-the-Protestant-Reformation-thing he did. He made time to pray, and it served him well.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

3. Creating a system that works for managing everything.

Whether its starting the day with reviewing my to-do list, or spending the first 15 minute at the office to say hello to co-workers, has led me to figure out my routines and processes and to use them. Since people have different personality types and temperaments, creating a system for managing things will be different for each person. This is something I learned when I got married, but saw even more clearly as I started working alongside my hubby. I saw that what worked for me as a system of keeping up with friends, work, spiritual life, etc. did not work for Michael. We have very different personality types and skill sets, so our life management strategies differ.

Here is one small practical example: Michael is an external processor, and he also tends to process his thoughts quickly. So for emails, he reads a complex email and can respond fairly quickly with a thoughtful reply. For me, I am an internal processor, and I need time to gather my thoughts. So I have a system that works for me where I read an email, and if I need to process it, I mark it a certain way and come back to it a little later to reply.

Another example is how we prioritize our Bible reading. I’ve found that the best way to keep consistent in reading my Bible is to do it at night. This has become a part of my routine, and I read my Bible and journal my prayers at night before I go to bed. This is not a system that works for Michael, and it won’t be the system that works for a lot of people as I discovered in an informal Twitter poll I took last week. I asked, “When do you read your Bible?” Out of 270 respondents, the results showed that 54% said “Random times,” 28% said “Morning,” 15% said “Night,” and 3% said “Weekends.”

We are all different, and it’s a wonderful thing. Find what works for you, and put your process to work.

IMG_0092

4. Lastly, I give myself grace!

I won’t always balance the schedule and life perfectly, and in those times I am thankful for a God full of grace.

»»««

For a helpful book that provides perspective on how to manage the culture of busyness with a biblical worldview, I recommend Crazy Busy by Kevin DeYoung.

›LM

Bible, Family, Life, Museum of the Bible, Travel, Uncategorized

“Welcome to New York… It’s been waiting for you”

December 22, 2015

I love hearing Taylor Swift welcome me home to NYC every time I land. Maybe someday I’ll even get to meet her. After all, we do live in the same city now – as well as 8.5 million other people (but at least there’s a chance?)

Now that I have lived in Manhattan for a month, here are the top 5 things I have learned about life here:

  1. Sirens are constantly going off.
    • It is surprising how quickly you begin to tune them out.
  2. New Yorkers are actually very nice.
    • In the first few days living in our apartment, we met so many people in our building that were excited for us and sincerely welcoming. It really made a difference and put us at ease.
    • Although New Yorkers can be nice, don’t mess with them if it is rush hour, or in a crowded touristy area.
  3. People sleep on the subway more often than I would expect.
    • In almost every other subway ride, I see a person sleeping. One guy even fell asleep mid-text message. He kept almost dropping his phone as his hand’s grip slowly loosened when he drifted to deeper and deeper sleep. (I was tempted to take his phone and carry on the conversation with whoever he was texting.)
  4. Living near an express subway stop is fantastic.
    • The subway stops every five to ten streets or so, but on the express train it will skip a few stops and only stop every twenty streets or so. Hopping on the express subway and avoiding the local stops = joy. It saves precious time.
  5. Chick-fil-A is a hit.
    • In September we began praying about whether or not to make this move. I felt like we were supposed to move, but I really just wanted a sign to solidify the decision. Not too long after that, we read Chick-fil-A was opening its first store in Manhattan. If that’s not a sign, I do not know what is.
    • As long as I am in a city with a Chick-fil-A, I can survive. We went to their store during our first week here, and it was PACKED. I think they are going to do alright in this city.

IMG_3377

On a more personal note, here is one thing I have learned about myself so far:

I’ve learned to appreciate my relationships and community more. For the first time in my life, I am living in a place where I can count on my two hands the number of people that know my name. Born and raised in Oklahoma City, and never living further than a 45-minute radius from where I was born, I have always been surrounded by family and long-standing friendships. New York is such a different experience since I don’t have quick, easy availability to those friends and family members.

A few highlights of our time in the city so far are definitely our Museum of the Bible (MOTB) events. During our first few weeks, MOTB hosted two events. This provided a great opportunity to introduce the vision of the museum with some wonderful people. Michael and I were also excited about the timing of the events, because it meant we got to meet people, hoping that we could make a few new friends!

As always, the museum events were fabulous. Our events planning team members always do an amazing job at making each event special. Here are a few photos of the evening:

Processed with VSCOcam with b5 preset

IMG_3612

IMG_3617

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

We also loved going to our new friend Scott Harrison’s event – a charity ball for Charity: Water at the Met. It was spectacular.

http://adammason.com

Processed with VSCOcam with b1 preset

28-20151207_MASON_CWB copy

IMG_3801

204-20151207_MASON_CWB

Processed with VSCOcam with b5 preset

One month in, and, New York, you do not disappoint.

It’s a new soundtrack, I can dance to this beat forevermore. The lights are so bright, but they never blind me. (“Welcome to New York” – Taylor Swift, 1989)

-LM

 

Life, Museum of the Bible, Travel

Top 3 Things Every Traveler Should Do Before A Trip

September 28, 2015

This year my travel schedule has really ramped up. I love getting to meet people all over the country and world, and telling them about what is going on with Museum of the Bible. As I have taken on more frequent flyer miles, I have found that it’s helpful to have a good pre-travel routine. Before I get on my flight, here is my must-do routine:

 

  1. Think ahead

I like to be well-prepared for a trip. But I hate packing. I always feel like I’m forgetting something. I usually remember all of the important things, but I’m still prone to forget the obvious things every once in a while! Just last week I forgot to bring any makeup on a trip to NYC! Yikes!

Packing

In planning for the airport, I like to make sure I know what’s in my carry-on. Here are some questions I always ask myself:

  • Is my carry-on easy for me to manage? I like to bring a carry-on with wheels so that my shoulder doesn’t get tired from carrying the bag around.
  • Can I pack everything into one carry-on suitcase so that all I need is my boarding pass and I am ready to go? If not, is there anything I can eliminate for the trip?
  • Are there easy accessible pockets in my travel bag for my cell phones, photo ID, and boarding pass? I like a bag with external zippered pockets to hold these essentials.
  • Are my liquids in my checked bag or in a quart-sized bag that is easy to get to in my carry-on at security?
  • Are my shoes easy to take off/put on at the security station?
  • Do I have an extra layer—sweater, jacket, or hoodie—for when (not if, but when!) I get cold on the flight? I almost always wear this sweater when I travel.

 

These questions are helpful as I am packing and figuring out what to wear before heading to the airport.

 

  1. Prepare for Check-in & Security

I like to have my record locator at hand for a swift check-in, and I often have to check a bag. Helpful tip: Try to lock the bag with a TSA approved lock. I’ve learned this the hard way through a bad experience of having jewelry stolen out of my bag. 🙁

 

Then it is time for security. With these easy steps, I’m ready to go!

  • I have my shoes ready to come off, and my outer layers and liquids bag ready to go in a bin.
  • My laptop is out of the bag and in its own bin.
  • At the security belt, I put my shoes through first so that I can put them right away on the other side. No one likes to be barefoot in an airport, am I right? Then my purse, followed by my laptop so I can grab it and put it back in my carry-on, which goes through last.

 

  1. Get ready for the flight

I always like to have a water bottle handy when traveling. Being in airplanes can dehydrate you, so I recommend carrying a bottle of H2O. The first thing I do after going through security is to buy a water bottle! You won’t be sorry about this. If you don’t want to purchase one, bring an empty bottle through security, and fill it at a fountain on the other side. It’s that easy!

 

After all of this, I head to my gate, check for any last emails or text messages I might need to respond to, and wait to board! I always carry a book or something to read, too.

Airport sitting

What are your travel tips? Anything I should consider adding or changing to my routine? I would love to hear from you, even if it’s a horror story of one of your bad travel experiences. 😉

#Wheelsup

-LM

Airport boarding

Brunch, Church, Friends, Life, Travel, Uncategorized

Brunch: Jacob’s Pickles NYC

September 24, 2015

“Welcome to New York, it’s been waiting for you…” –Taylor Swift

It was a gorgeous Sunday morning in the upper west side of Manhattan. I was in the city to visit a few friends. We had just gotten out of a Sunday morning service and needed a place to brunch. That is when we discovered Jacob’s Pickles.

Walking in, I immediately fell in love with the adorable atmosphere. It is a mix of modern warehouse and urban farmhouse décor. (Does that even make sense?…oh well.)

JP OUtdoor pic

JP tables

Brick Wall JP

JP Bar

It was quiet that first day we visited, which is rare. This place has become even more popular since I first discovered it. Every time that I have gone back during normal meal hours, it is pretty busy. If you’re worried about getting in without a wait, you might want to make a reservation.

coffee cup at JP

We ordered our coffees and started sipping. It was so nice to be able to catch up with my squad. These women became some of my closest friends at college. We were in the same sorority, and have a lot of shared memories. These are the women that were my roomies, that tried to teach me how to dance (sorry C and J, I’m still working on it), and were there to listen to me when I was going through a hard season. Now that we have gone our separate ways, it is a treasure when we get together. (To get to know this group of my friends, you can check out one of my first blog posts, which I wrote about them the week we graduated.)

It makes me smile just thinking of that sweet time.

 

I ordered the French toast the first time. And, yes, I have ordered that exact same dish every time I have gone back. I’ve even gone twice in one week, and ordered the French toast both times. I know there are so many places in NYC that are amazing that I should try, but goodness, it’s hard to pass up Jacob’s Pickles. Yum.

Their French toast is unique. Jacob’s Pickles has amazing biscuits, and they use their biscuits for the toast. I guess the “toast” in French toast should actually be “biscuit,” but whatever. The flaky biscuits are savory and crumbly. With some of Jacob’s Pickles sweet, dark syrup on top, it is truly a delight to eat.

 

One thing about their French toast I love, is the amount of strawberries they put on top. Often when I order something with berries on top, I get two strawberries, or five blueberries total. Not this place. They are not skimpy with the fresh strawberries they pile on their heavenly French toast style biscuits.

 

Their orange juice is fresh-squeezed and tasty. It is good if you are looking to load up on vitamin C and are willing to dish out a few bucks for it. Jacob’s coffee is not the world’s best cup of coffee, but it is a solid cup of coffee.

 

I guess this shop still holds the title to “World’s Best Cup of Coffee”.

If you are looking for the world’s best coffee and can’t find Buddy’s shop, you may consider checking out some of these recommendations of the best coffee in NYC. (I digress… But I personally love Stumptown!)

 

If you’re in Manhattan, I am telling you to check out Jacob’s Pickles. I hear their pickles are actually good, too. If you try them, let me know what you think.

 

Where should I go next time I am in NYC? As loyal as my little heart is to Jacob’s Pickles, I do like trying new places. Let me know what you suggest in the city that never sleeps.

 

-LM

Me then at JP

Brunch, Life, Travel, Uncategorized

Lake Tahoe

September 18, 2015

Have you ever been to Lake Tahoe? I just went for the first time, and LOVED it!

Michael and I celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary at the beginning of August. To celebrate, we decided to take a trip over the long Labor Day weekend, and we chose Lake Tahoe as our destination.

Our schedule included some sleeping in, taking naps, sitting on the beach, getting in the water via paddle boarding and kayaking, going up the mountain for the scenery and hiking, and checking out some of the cute local restaurants and coffee spots. It was ideal.

Taking the time to reflect on the many transitions this year has held for us so far was just what we needed.

With that being said, let me show you the memories we made while in Lake Tahoe.

Day 1:

The first was only a half day, but we made the most of it by checking out the beach, catching a nice dinner, and enjoying the fire pit.

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with m3 preset

Day 2:

We wanted to check out South Lake Tahoe, so we got up early and went down to Emerald Bay to see the sunrise. It. Was. Amazing.

Then we went over to the Heavenly Gondola and went up to the highest peak in the area. The altitude was killer for this Oklahoma girl. I was already out of breath just from walking, so we kept our “hike” pretty mild.

Processed with VSCOcam with x1 preset

Taking a break from hiking, we also enjoyed playing corn hole. (Michael won.)

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

We also had the chance to witness a proposal at the top of the mountain! (She said yes!)

We finished off the day with a nice lunch by the beach, some reading at a coffee shop, an early dinner, and then we were asleep before 9:00pm!

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Day 3:

A number of people recommended a restaurant called The Log Cabin, so we got up and enjoyed a delicious breakfast before heading to a river for some fly fishing. This breakfast was good! And their coffee was the best I had while in Tahoe.

Processed with VSCOcam with m3 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with b1 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

The rest of the day was spent at the hotel. We had fun paddle boarding and kayaking before dinner.

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

LaKayak

It ended with s’mores and sweatpants by the fire. A perfect way to end the day!

Processed with VSCOcam with x1 preset

Day 4:

By day four we had explored as much as we wanted to, and were ready to just sit at the hotel all day! We got breakfast at the resort, did more reading on the beach, kayaking again, and just hanging out until going back down to South Lake for dinner at the restaurant with my FAVORITE view: Edgewood.

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

I should take some time here to tell you my most embarrassing moment of the trip. It of course happened at Edgewood, which was the nicest restaurant we ate at.

Michael and I were seated in a one-sided semi-circle booth, so we could cuddle up next to each other and not be accused of being a “same-side-sitting” couple.  It was just the only way.

During the appetizer, I accidentally pulled on the table cloth, and ALMOST spilled both of my drinks. (This place was the kind of place that gave you your iced tea AND a water.) Thankfully, it was a close call, but I didn’t actually spill.

Five minutes later though, somehow I managed to do the exact same thing, but this time I wasn’t as lucky. Two full glasses of water and tea actually flew all over the table, seat, and me. Oops.

I guess I did it so gracefully that our waiter didn’t even notice. Unfortunately, the tables around defiantly heard the crash, and were giving side glances to check out the disaster while I cleaned up.

Because half of the booth was wet, I had to scoot way over to Michael’s side. (Maybe I actually spilled the drinks on purpose for the excuse to be closer to my hubby.) Thankfully the rest of the meal was less eventful, and we enjoyed watching the sunset together cuddle up rather close in that half wet, half dry booth.

Watching the sun set over that lake was one of my favorite memories. It was beautiful.

Lake Tahoe, I like you. I hope I will be seeing you again some day.

What are some of your favorite vacations spots? Any suggestions I should add to me dream list of places to visit? I would love to hear from you!

-LM

P.S. If you are ready to start planning your own vacation, consider planning ahead for Washington D.C. in 2017. You can have your chance to win a free trip to our Museum of the Bible grand opening by entering in our sweepstakes! Good luck!

Bible, Life, Travel

Real Life vs. Social Life: #NoFilter

August 17, 2015

Social Life: We are living it up with amazing coffee and working in Denver!
Social LifeRender

Real Life: Why am I making that horrible face? Anything for the artsy social pic.
Real Life

I think social media is really cool. I use it a lot. I think there are many benefits with social media. One thing I think is a downfall with social, though, is the ability for people to show what their life is really like. It is so easy to let your Facebook timeline to present the kind of life you want people to think you have. It is definitely tempting for me to put out the best image about my life and how I want people to see me. It’s human nature. Most of us want others to think well of us, and many of us are afraid of being really known in fear of being found out as uninteresting, broken, imperfect, etc.

I have to say, my feed is often filled with posts about the exciting adventures, cool travels, and the interesting people I get to meet. I am very grateful for the path God has brought me on, and grateful for his grace in my life. Nevertheless, I definitely am showing the highlights. We don’t always post the unappealing or ugly things that happen in our lives. We also don’t (usually) make posts about the average, everyday mundane things going on (unless it’s another picture of my coffee—which you know I love!).

#CoffeeOfLaurensInstagram

CoffeeIMG_1284

CoffeeMG_1282

So, I’ll just go ahead and let you know that I am without a doubt imperfect, broken, often uninteresting, and more (or so much less). I am impatient with people when I am in LA traffic. I struggle with feeling entitled when boarding an airplane and I don’t get priority because I’m on an airline that I don’t have status with. I snap at my husband when I am stressed prior to going on stage or TV. I think more about myself than I should and not enough about others. I don’t look put together all of the time as much as I wish I did. And on and on and on.

What I love is the beautiful gift of grace from God that allows me to have peace in the midst of my mess. Anything I’ve done well, I can only credit to my heavenly Father. I am forever grateful that the Bible tells me that I am completely loved by him. This is one of the ways the Bible has impacted me. I love the Bible, and love that for a living I get to invite others to engage with this book.

Grateful,
-LM

Social Life: We are cute sisters bonding over donuts!
SocialLifeDonutRender

Real Life: Feeling sick after these donuts.
PhotoofPhotoMG_1498

Bible, Museum of the Bible, School, Teaching, Travel, Uncategorized, Work

A tour of Ramat Gan, Israel

June 8, 2015

Me and Students

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit a few schools in the Ramat Gan area of Israel. They have incorporated new Bible Curriculum into the schools, and we got to interact with the students and classes that have been using this material. It was a joy to hear from young people as they shared how this new curriculum was impacting their learning.

This Bible Curriculum incorporates new technology called Augmented Reality. Using Augmented Reality allows the students to digitally bring about another dimension of reality with a tablet as they go through their lesson. For students, adding a technological layer to their text-book is a game changer. It allows them to interact with the text, which in turn can help them learn and remember more.

Student

I got to hear from a high school boy who had been using this material for a few months. He said that using this curriculum with the technology component “provides the opportunity to bond with the Bible.”

Another student said “using the technology helps me better understand the Bible. Today we learned about Joshua, and I learned how it can relate to me today.”

I love seeing students connect and engage with the Bible in a new way through this curriculum and the augmented reality!

If you want to see the curriculum and Augmented Reality in action you can watch a video here. In this video, my husband Michael is showing a group of California students the same material that is being used in Israel.

Brunch, Life, Travel

I love Angelina

June 1, 2015

Brunch.

I really like breakfast food. Especially when it doesn’t require me to get up early. If I can enjoy breakfast food late morning it is the best of both worlds. Thus, brunch is one of my favorite things and I want to share with you some of my favorite spots.

When I think of the ideal brunch, I imagine a leisurely meal with lovely people. I often enjoy brunch with my hubby, family or dear friends. It is usually enjoyed on a Saturday when I don’t have anything else to do, and I treasure those Saturdays. Slow Saturday mornings at home are few and far between in this season of life right now, and I am sure they won’t get easier to come by as life continues forward. So, I try to enjoy those lovely Saturday mornings when I have with nothing to do but sleep in and pick a nice breakfast spot with my hubby. I also enjoy them when I am squeezing in a tasty breakfast meal on the go or on the road and pretend like I’ve got nothing else to do.

I have tried many of the places in my home town of OKC, and love them. There are some fabulous places for brunch in OKC. So many tasty local spots. I will share about them in the future. For now, my husband gave me this idea to blog about my brunch places that I get the chance to visit while on the road.

Angelina.

Angelina

I was told by a number of people that I should try this place while in Paris. They all recommended it for the hot chocolate. For those of you that told me to go there- thank you! I went the first morning I had in Paris, eager to try the hot chocolate after all they hype, but also eager to see what their brunch menu looked like. Michael and I had a few days in Paris over the weekend between business trips in Israel and England, so we were excited to soak in the city, but also enjoy the food while we are at it.

The place was adorable. A very vintage sheek tea room. It was definitely girly, but not to the same level as Laduree. Michael was pleased to see there were a few other guys in the restaurant :). We got seated and I was giddy – first because I was in Paris for a long weekend with my hubby, and secondly because I was getting brunch in Paris with my hubby this Saturday morning with nothing else to do but sightsee! A dream.

Atmosphere

Brunch

I check out the menu and after some struggle through translation from French to English, I find that they have the golden dish- French toast! Oh I love French toast. It is so good. I try it everywhere I go. I order the French toast and the hot chocolate. Eek how lovely- French toast, I France!

It lived up to what I would have hoped. Authentic French toast, and it was some of the best I have ever had. It had the perfect texture. The crust wasn’t too crunchy, but it was just lightly crisp. The inside bread was amazing- melt in your mouth, but not soggy. It was only lightly drizzled with some caramel syrup, so it was the perfect amount of added sweetness to the toast. If you like traditional syrup with your French toast, you might miss it- though I think you would still enjoy the Carmel drizzle just fine.

French Toast

The hot chocolate tasted like it was just straight melted Godiva chocolate. Whoa- so good, but really rich! I could only drink half a cup, but it was a good half a cup! They give you some whip cream to smooth out the chocolate. It was amazing, but I could have taken it a little less sweet. I also had their tea the next day- the Angelina special tea, and it was wonderful. A very sweet black tea, maybe a little sweeter than I prefer, but it had a nice smooth flavor.

Hot Chocolate

I definitely recommend trying Angelina if you are around one. It has great atmosphere as well as great food.

Do you have any recommendations for other good brunch places in Paris?

-LAGM