Category Archives: My Job

No More Mister Nice Guy


My workplace has this incredible tradition of honoring people on their work anniversaries. They do it slightly differently for each person, but essentially an anniversary at my job means that they’re going to buy you a nice, really personal gift, and most likely everyone will all get together in the same room and say kind things about you.

When you’re planning someone else’s anniversary, often we will ask everyone the same personalized-to-the-anniversary-ee question. “What do you like best about working with Ryan?” “What makes you think Derek may not actually be human?” “How has Russel helped you this year?” “What has Shyam taught you?”

My one-year anniversary was in November, and everyone answered a question about the nicest thing I have ever done for them. It was thoroughly overwhelming to sit in a room and listen to some of the people I most respect in the world talk about things I had completely forgotten that I had done that had evidently meant a lot to them.

(Also they gave me a kickass bluetooth speaker that I take everywhere with me because the sound quality is pristine and also it makes me feel loved every time I use it.)

Niceness is nice, and I am grateful that my colleagues associate me with that trait.

But then, there’s the other side of niceness. The side where you can get walked over by someone who will take advantage of it. The side where people don’t take you as seriously as they could. The side where you’re only doing it because you feel like you have to, or should. The side where your friend will yell “WOMAN UP!” at you semi-jokingly when you’re being insecure about making a decision because EVERYBODY NEEDS TO BE OKAY WITH IT IS EVERYBODY OKAY ARE YOU SURE THOUGH BECAUSE IT’S REALLY OKAY IF YOU WANT TO DO SOMETHING ELSE.

A friend pointed out something I had done out of niceness the other day that discredited me some. That caused me a little more work than it should have. He recommended I stop being quite so nice. He told me it gets in my way. It led us to a discussion about niceness and the need for it (or lack of need for it) in the world.

And the thing is I agree with him. “Nice” is never a thing I am trying to be, because I have spent a lot of time thinking about the very big difference between “nice” and “kind.”

A nice person will do something for you because they’re supposed to.

A kind person will do something for you because they care about you.

(Fun Fact: I thought “Care” was my word last year. Nope. Apparently it was 2 years ago. That’s how much I needed that word. It lasted two whole years.)

I texted Alece a few weeks ago about how I couldn’t get my shit together to pick a word and could it just be “wine” this year? Because I know I can rock the word “WINE.”

(She said absolutely it could. One of the many reasons I love that girl.)

So maybe my word this year is “Kindness.” A reminder that I can be kind without always being nice. A reminder of the loving God I serve and also of the ass I want to kick at my job and my life.

The world needs kindness. People need kindness. I want and need to be kind to others to show them who my version of Jesus is. My Jesus who meets people where they are, who loves and serves who is in front of Him no matter what. And that same Jesus who flips tables over in the temple and rebukes Pharisees because He was not here just to be nice, yo.

I can be kind without being nice. I can be empathetic without being weak. I can love without being less.

Maybe this year, I will figure out exactly how to do that.

Wouldn’t that be nice?

I don’t think it was worth it

I had a conversation tonight in which I was able to reflect on the past two years. The brother-with-cancer part. The loss part. The grief part. The horror part. But most of it was the part where God came through.

I have this story to tell now, a story where God came through despite the cancer and the loss and the grief and the horror. I wouldn’t have had this story otherwise. I wouldn’t have known this version of God otherwise. A version who inexplicably works all things together for good. All things. For good. Inexplicably.

I wouldn’t have gotten to know this version of my God if Shane had lived. I wouldn’t have had this story to tell if Shane had lived. And it’s an extraordinary story. An extraordinary God. I believe deeper now, am more sure now. Because Shane didn’t live.

But I don’t think it was worth it.

I’m seeing life turn out differently because he’s not here. I’m seeing good things happen despite Shane being gone. Every time I realize the good things that are falling into place are as a result of my brother’s death, I reasonably have mixed feelings.

I may or may not have made the career changes I made. I’m finding a deep fulfillment in this new job that I don’t think I could have ever found in the previous one. I’m being challenged and I’m growing and I’m learning and I feel alive.

But if it’s because Shane’s dead, it wasn’t worth it.

My sister-in-law wouldn’t have met Jeremiah, who makes her laugh and introduces her to new hobbies and loves my nephew fiercely and does all those things differently than Shane would have, but he’s the kind of person you feel thankful to know.

But I don’t think it was worth it.

I wouldn’t have thought to use my photography to serve others with cancer, and I wouldn’t have met some really wonderful people as a result.

But I don’t think it was worth it.

My mom wouldn’t be so diligent about taking her Betaseron shots, since she promised him right before he died that she wouldn’t miss any more. Maybe as a result, she’ll live many more years without her MS symptoms progressing. I’m really thankful that he had that stern talk with her right before he died.

But I don’t think it was worth it.

There are more, I’m sure. Stronger faith. Deeper relationships. Better perspective. But if I could change it all right now, I would choose Shane over any good God has done with these circumstances.

That’s the truth about God working all things together for good. I don’t think He expects us to think it’s worth it. I just think He works it together for good.

And that’s going to have to be good enough for now.


I have been at my new job for one month today.

People keep asking me how I like it.

The answer is “lots.”

I am overwhelmed. I am exhausted. I am just trying to get through most weeks.

But I am learning a language I couldn’t speak before, and little by little, word by word, jargon web term by jargon web term, I am starting to understand. I am starting to envision what it will be like (in a year? Maybe?) when I don’t suck at everything anymore. I am starting to think maybe I could do this someday.

(And then I think I can’t. And then I think I can. And then I think I can’t. I live in a constant state of “whatdididoilovethisjobbutwhatdididoilovethisjobbutholycrapwhatdidido?”)

I am getting on airplanes in pointy shoes and attending meetings with incredible clients (I don’t talk in the meetings, no, but I’m there! In my pointy shoes!).

I’m watching other women KICK ASS in the professional world and I’m being inspired by them.

I’m working with people who are flat-out brilliant and working hard to keep my mouth from dropping open when I listen to them speak.

I’m walking into work and making jokes with new co-workers and being overwhelmed by the feeling of this is right.

(And also by the feeling of sweet goodness, this is going to be alright, right?)

(But mostly the first one.)

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go Google 60 of the words I heard today.

My new job: a summary

Boss-man, on the way out the door: “How’s it going this week?”

Me: “Good!”

Boss-man: “You overwhelmed?”

Me: “Extremely.”

Boss-man: “Cool! We’re doing it right then. Have a good night!”

(I love this place.)

There is no cohesive way to title this post.

You know how you ask somebody how they’re doing, and they’re like “I’m SO BUSY.” Or, even worse, when they say “I’m tired.”

I find that irritating. Everybody’s busy. Everybody’s tired. It’s called “life.”

But, you know, if you were wondering why I never blog anymore, OH MAH COW I AM SO BUSY.

See what I did there? Annoying, wasn’t it?

But, true, nonetheless. So, I present to you, bullet-point post. Yay!

  • I turned 26 on Sunday. I’m supa-old now. For my birthday, I asked for BikeMS donations and I’m linking to that once again because I am intensely shameless.
  • What I did not ask for but TOTALLY GOT was the Kitchen Aid mixer that I tweeted about a while back. Just showed up at my door a few days later with the note “Happy beautiful appliance birthday, mofo.” That kind of super-sentimental note can only come from my brother and sister-in-law. I texted him that he spent too much money and he texted back “I Grandma Barbara‘d your ass!” Haha. So true. So true.
  • I made banana chocolate chip muffins and I think the Kitchen Aid and I are going to be VERY HAPPY TOGETHER.
  • I have been working from home twice a week. It is so ridiculously awesome. I’m a very big fan of the “roll out of bed, walk to dining room, start editing” thing. A very big fan indeed. Plus, I’m at least 50% more productive at home on account of not having friends to play with here.
  • I miss my workie friends. But it’s still not worth putting on real pants to go to work and see them on my work from home days.
  • Jack has started running. He’s all “I want to be in shape, and healthy.” What a weirdo. And you know how the only thing worse than running is listening people talk about running? He and I used to agree on this! What is happening!? Who is this man??
  • However, he runs on the mornings that I work from home, so I have been enjoying watching the show. He gets up, gets into his running clothes, spends about 20 minutes telling me he doesn’t want to run, plays on the computer, and then sings the Rocky theme song for a little while, then finally leaves. It is quite a process.
  • The first day he came back from his run, he collapsed on the floor and sang the Rocky theme song. Now he asks that I have it cued up on my computer for when he comes back so he can do the Rocky “arms up in the air prancing around” thing when he gets home.
  • I took a video of it Tuesday. He would not like me sharing that here. But he probably wouldn’t like that I’m telling you any of this anyway.
  • No really, I’m not posting it here.
  • (He’s so darn cute though.)
  • My nephew, Devin, arrives in about 3 weeks. This is SUCH A BEST CASE SCENARIO. My mom gets her grandbaby, I get to play with and spoil one, and I do zero pushing to make it happen. SCORE. Yay, Cassandra!
  • The other day at dinner, Jack and I started listing off all the trips we have scheduled, and I realized why people are always like “You travel ALL THE TIME!” March is Vegas. April is Colorado. May Jack has Little Rock. June we have Little Rock again. July I have Indiana. August we have San Fransisco. October we have Orlando. Holy wow.
  • Five out of seven of those trips are takewondo-related.
  • The school is going well. People ask me that sometimes – “how’s the school going?” And I’m like “THERE ARE SO MANY STUDENTS.” Because there are. Which is supremely awesome, especially since every one of them are super-nice and amazing. We currently have the largest ATA school in Texas. I mean, woah.
  • So, uh, BikeMS is happening in less than 2 months. I don’t want to talk about it.
  • Speaking of BikeMS, I was scheduling my hotel room for that weekend, so I logged on to Jack’s Marriott account to get his Marriott number, and I saw his upcoming scheduled hotels – one for this weekend. That I didn’t know about. That coincides with my previous weekend’s birthday and the next weekend’s anniversary (4 years, yo!). So, I plan on acting very, very surprised when he tells me to pack a bag this weekend and whisks me away for a relaxing birthaversary celebration. Surprise!!
  • Mah husband rocks.
  • I’m sorry you had to read that last bullet point. And the eleventh one too. That one was gross too.

In which we are cheap labor

Did you ever wonder what it would look like if Jack and I had a fight, sat on a bench for a while, and then Jack bribed me into liking him again with a cup of coffee?

Well, wonder no more.

Most of it was acting. Except the part where Jack could buy back my affection for $4 if I was mad at him. I don’t need much in life, but I do need Starbucks.

It was eerily similar to this hilarious clip from “Happy Endings,” but without all the references to getting naked, because, you know, I was with work friends:

(If you don’t have a lot of time, skip to 1:16)

So much

There is so much to be thankful for.

Like friends who text out of the blue.

“Just thinking of you,” they might say. “Praying for you. Believing for really good things for your marriage and your life. Proud of you. Lots of love.”

And you think it another time even though you have thought it a thousand times that day.

There is so much to be thankful for.

And jobs where you have the freedom to organize everything you feel like organizing and take on projects that let you be both nerdy and creative. You get to feel smart and needed and yeah, even loved, because you work with a really great group of people and not everybody gets to say that.

And it will make you think.

There is so much to be thankful for.

Like husbands who help you cook and make you laugh so hard when you drop a bunch of cucumbers on the floor, because GOOD RIDDANCE, cucumbers! Those were gross anyway!

And you will argue that cucumbers are good and you like them quite a bit and as a result, somehow you get compared to Satan because cucumbers are actually evil, I guess?

And then he’ll kiss you like he means it and, just like he always does, follow that kiss with a boyish smile and the phrase “that was a good one.”

And you’ll say “I knew you were going to say that!”

And one more time, you’ll think about it again and know it’s true.

There is so much to be thankful for.

A list of good things

  • Welp. My house is a mess. And that wouldn’t belong on my “list of good things” except that the reason it’s a mess is because there has been much relaxing and Jack and Mandy together-time and not a lot of cleaning time around here lately. We have The Happy.
  • I feel like I should clarify that that “Jack and Mandy together-time” I just wrote about in the previous bullet point wasn’t supposed to sound dirty. Because, you know, if it was dirty, I wouldn’t be writing about it on this here blog. Yeah. Moving on.
  • I slept until after noon today and yesterday. These are the kinds of things that make me really, really, really glad not to have kids right now.
  • And the reason I slept until after noon? Eric and Laura Baesel. They told us to watch Friday Night Lights on Netflix, because we never watched it while it was on. And oh jeez, I’m watching a show about football (!) and I just. can’t. stop. And so we stay up all night watching “just one more episode.” DARN YOU, BAESELS. Darn you.
  • Did you guys know that “The Guild” is on streaming Netflix now? Nerdy score!
  • I rode a bike yesterday. Seriously, can somebody just cure MS so I don’t have to wear spandex anymore? At least the weather is beautiful, and my awesome neighbor helped me change my tube before the ride (I have been doing this ride for…uh… seven years now, I think? And I still don’t know how to change a tube on my own. I mean, sheesh.)
  • Uh, THIS happened to my friend because she is brave and amazing and I can’t even stand how excited I am for her:

    If you are as enchanted by this amazing girl as I always am, you can download that song for free here and “like” her music Facebook page here. I can’t wait to see what God does with this video in her life. I’m so proud of you, Jess!!

  • We are going to Vegas for our anniversary in March! Wait. Back up. We are going to Vegas for a tournament! On our anniversary! But hey, I’ll take it. Vegas isn’t my very favorite place but they do have shows (Jersey Boys, here I come!) and fancy hotels and great food. So, happy anniversary to us!
  • Speaking of travel, we’re also going skiing with my brother in Colorado this month. Jack has never skiied before so I fully expect the opportunity to laugh at him when he falls a lot. Because I am a loving and supporting wife and also I just hope I get it on video so you guys can see it too.
  • T-minus 3 months until my nephew arrives. Can I get a “SQUEEEEEEE?”
  • To answer your question, I picked the red dress. Wow, that was delayed, right?
  • We are moving offices at work this month. It will mean less space and sharing an office rather than having one to myself (how spoiled have I been anyway, my goodness), but it also saves the ministry lots of money and could mean that we’ll be able to work from home more often, so I’m in. Plus, I work with quite a fantastic group and if we’re all smushed a little closer together? That’s probably okay. Also! The new place has ovens! OVENS! Freshly baked cookies. ANY TIME WE WANT.
  • I need to go clean my house now so that the next list of good things I write can include that.