Week 7: Oh for the Love of Coffee!

This week emotionally was incredibly rough.  Don’t worry, it is OK.  In life you will have weeks like this.  It is through these weeks that you can say, “Catie-girl, this week will come and go and what is most important is that you survived!”  This week is the last week I will be at the salon.  I have chosen to step away from something that I love very much.  I was too stressed trying to balance everything.

So in the course of the last month here is what all has occurred:  I had a break-up with a friend I started dating, I broke-up with Starbucks, I stepped away from the salon and I still feel blah.  My current full-time job is what is allowing my bills to be paid, insurance to be covered, and I do like what I am doing.  I just recognized the stress inevitably was going to cause burn out.  I cannot afford to be burnt out at this point in the game.

I gained back 1/2 the weight I have lost at this point in time.  I have been stress eating and indulging without care or flagrant regard to the damage it was doing on my body.  I didn’t work out ONCE this week.  I did walk a lot more which is great but no run or hard workouts to relieve my stress.  Just a simple glass of Cabernet to soothe the edge….

Week 7
Week 7: height 4’8″, weight: 102.0 lbs

I have never in my life ever, EVER, been an anxious person.  I usually have the blood pressure of a dead person.  I can tell you that in the last month my blood pressure and anxiety has been completely elevated!  What is that all about?!  Time to adjust and balance….time to chalk this week up for a learning curve and back on track I go!  “MARCH Catie-girl….MARCH!”

One important thing I should note, caffeine addiction is a very real thing.  It is a problem.  Caffeine makes the morning run smoothly.  It brings clarity to my mind.  It is my spark plugs to my dead battery.  Caffeine is a necessity item and contribution toward Catie Manning having a decent day.  Truly…..

Here are some humorous recaps of what has occurred this week:

While in Chicago Saturday-Tuesday this week at NCDC:
–Caribou and I walked everywhere.  Caribou is my 8 month old niece.  She is alert and loves to be around people.  We were in Chicago so we walked up and down Michigan Ave. as well as in our hotel lobby.  She made a ton of friends.  One sure-fire way to get free stuff is to have a baby with you.  PS: She loved Chicago…

–I went on an adventure in the city.  I walked to Millennium Park for coffee.  What should have been a 1/2 mile excursion ended up being a 2.5 mile excursion!  Oh for the love of coffee!  I Yelped coffee shops near me….and Intellegensia popped up with raving reviews.  It was a matter of seconds once I arrived and ordered before my phone died…let the adventure continue!

–I was able to see places that I never had before such as the Chicago Theatre and the Goodman Theatre.  Stellar!  I also walked past the Chicago House of Blues.  I had been there before to see Lucky Boys Confusion…different statues, gardens, and sanctuaries it was all so beautiful!

–My brother-in-law needed to purchase an extra pair of pants so we went shopping at TJ Maxx.  He found a few pairs in his size and purchased one of them.  They were $80 pants.  My sister didn’t even care because they fit!  Little did we know that we were in the designer section…come to find out they are Versace!  We died laughing because none of us are Versace people especially not my athletic brother-in-law! “Versace, Versace…” (thank you Drake)

…when I got home….

–I accidentally froze my coffee rock solid.  I have been drinking black coffee over ice and I will place it in the freezer for a few minutes (A.D.D. kicked in and it ended up being close to an hour) Microwave 15 seconds (repeat 4 times) and throw over ice anyways!

–Emily D. and I met up for drinks on Wednesday and we ended up getting these delightful flaming donuts.  No kidding, they were set on fire!   Em ordered them…she said I could blame her for the weight gain.  I cannot blame her for all of it, but darn those donuts were delicious.  We had a good belly laugh over that comment.  It was wonderful too.


–I went to a benefit dinner on Thursday where I launched a shrimp tail at my friend…it landed in her sauce and sprayed her face.  That sucker slipped right on out of my hand!  We laughed about that one for a while too. All I hear is my dad…“And THIS is why we can’t have nice things!”

Although this week has been stressful and not ideal, I am still looking on the bright side.  Over all things are OK.  Things will be OK.  A lot of adjustments taking place but it is all positive.  I am still standing and for that I am forever thankful!

Take a seat. Let’s chat.

The warm wind was gently blowing across my shoulders as I sat on a bench under a tree at a beach on Lake Michigan. Contentedly, I was sitting and reading a book, enjoying the fact that I had just taken a day to explore some of Western Michigan (I went berry picking and tried to rent a scooter, but they didn’t have any left!).

An old, foreign, male voice interrupted my concentration as he said, “May we join you?”. Kind eyes stared back at me from a man and his wife, to which I replied, “of course”. He then proceeded to say, with a mischievous look on his face, “ok, my wife and I and our twelve grandchildren thank you…”. A burst of laughter came forth from me as I could clearly see he was joking, and instantly I knew I liked them (even though I instinctively clutched my purse tighter…just in case!).


For the duration of the next hour, Brenda, Saul and I chit-chatted about various topics ranging from the weather, flowers (Brenda kept having me smell a rose she had gotten that morning) and jobs to Apartheid (they are South African). Internally, I was relishing this interaction. Increasingly, I felt privileged to be invited into conversation with such interesting strangers.  I suspect they were trying to set me up with their son (an early forties CPA), but I chose to ignore the not so subtle hints they were dropping. At one point, Saul asked if he could buy me ice cream, and I obliged. The smile wouldn’t leave my face, and my heart was tickled that this was actually happening.

Culturally speaking, we are a connected people. Social media has enabled individuals to connect in ways and capacities previously unobtainable. Yet, many find themselves craving connection on a personal level. I’ve heard that humans need around eight hugs (or physical touch somehow) a day to increase physical and emotional health. Sitting on the bench with Brenda and Saul was actually like a hug for me. The interaction was pleasant, meaningful, and enlightening. They gave me a hug and lifted my spirits without ever touching me. Through my short time with them, I have been challenged to share “hugs” either physically or verbally with at least one person  a day and would like to encourage you to do the same!



Life giving places and spaces

People who know me can attest to the fact that I’m a festival nerd. Currently, I am sitting in a non-chain coffee shop in a western suburb, with a bag of farmers market cherries on the table, awaiting the art fair opening in one hour. Days like this make me feel ALIVE.

I’ve suspected for most of my adult life that I need little “retreats” like this one to feel healthy. Upon graduating college, I struggled with time management and couldn’t figure out what to do with myself once I left work at 5 p.m. I erred on the side of sitting at home, watching chick flicks, and ultimately feeling like I was stagnant. I started exploring my area and contacting local chambers to be kept up to date on events and places to try. How life-giving it was for me to go and experience culture in my community!

In various moves since my initial year in Indianapolis, I’ve kept up the tradition of finding spaces and events that recharge me. Admittedly, I am a learned extrovert, so the stimulation of the festivals coupled with retreating in a corner of a coffee-house, balances out my extrovert/introvert personalities perfectly.

This has not always been easy to make room for in my schedule. I had a stint of three years working two jobs that ate up my energy from 4 a.m. To 7 p.m. or from 11a.m. to 7a.m. Due to that circumstance, I literally didn’t have time to do my “life-giving” activities because sleep won out every time. I was tired and crabby, partially due to lack of sleep and partially due to the fact that I lacked a recharge.

I recognize that not everyone has the luxury to take a day or partial day to do what brings you life. I’ve been there, and I assume the struggle will be magnified once a husband and children and all the responsibilities they entail enter the picture. However, I am convinced that once you find something that is life-giving, don’t give up on working to carve out time for it. I’ve learned that I enjoy others around me much more when I’ve taken time to recharge,(and others seem to like me better too!).

Challenge: make a list of things you like to do and places you like to go. Circle those that you could make time for in your schedule within the month of August. Think realistically about what is actually attainable within the context of your current life situation. Next, put a dot next to ones that you know aren’t feasible within the next month, but that within the next three months you would like to make room for in your schedule. Keep that list somewhere to remind you that life-giving places and spaces are necessary. In a few months, you’ll look back and breathe a deep breath and realize the time management adjustments were well worth it!

We’d love to hear what/where brings you life!

Coffee house/farmer's market

Lake Tahoe!

This past month, Catie and I spent 5 days in Lake Tahoe. Totally. Worth. Every. Penny! Here is a summary of our trip and what we recommend from it!

Heavenly Gondola Ride; www.anchordrop.org

Catie:  3AM wake-up calls are rough.  Really rough.  I drove up to Erica’s apartment the night before we left.  It takes about a little over 3.5 hours to get there and with minimum stops I arrived safely in one piece.  We got to bed shortly there after as our excursion was a cab call at 4AM.

Erica: Getting up early wasn’t the problem for me… it was the staying awake. Catie got to watch me pass out on the plane… you know the whole face smashed into the plane window and drool going down my cheek… she was quite amused.


Catie: Getting an early start was the perfect way to take advantage of another full day.  Don’t be afraid to get anywhere earlier than expected.  Getting through the airport a little early is never a bad thing.

Smokey the Bear; www.anchordrop.org

Erica: While getting up I wasn’t quite sure of it, but once we landed and got to see the beautiful sites I was all on board with the early wake up time.  And then we took a nap.


Catie: Don’t stress out while on vacation.  I, of course, was beginning to stress as our wait seemed endless at the airport.  Erica was calm and reassuring.  there was more times than not that my “type-A” personality was a little shaken at the wonky side of our tentative schedule.  Nothing goes as planned anyways…and that is definitely an alright thing!

Heavenly Gondola Observation Deck: Lake Tahoe; www.anchordrop.org

Erica: Little did she know that I was basically sleeping with my eyes open…


Catie: Groupon– READ the fine print!  We could have saved ourselves $20 if we simply would have read the fine print.  Book 10 days in advance…so by the time it ended up being advance was simply a few days before we left.  What did we end up with?  1 hour on a horse instead of 2 hours and out $20 we didn’t need to spend.

Horseback Riding; www.anchordrop.org

Erica: Also… don’t forget to tip. Being from the Midwest we didn’t think much about tipping for lessons because well for the most part you don’t here. But in touristy areas they live off their tips. Don’t forget to calculate tips into your budget.


Catie: Get yourself out of your comfort zone; you might find that you start to enjoy living life in a world so different from the one you live.   I don’t like horses let alone riding them.  I had one negative experience, but I was willing to try it again.  I cannot swim, yet I fearlessly went paddle boarding while wearing my life vest.  I mean, I tried to dump myself a few times BUT what the hey!  You only live once and it’s not like 39 degrees is freezing or anything.

Paddle boarding; www.anchordrop.org


Paddle boarding; www.anchordrop.org


Erica: The outdoors is where I want to be. I love it. I was in my comfort zone, but I was still trying new things even within my comfort zone. I even considered the zip line even though I am terrified of heights… oh just thinking of being there makes me want to go back!  Catie handled my love for the outdoors and adventure like a champ!


Catie: HYDRATE.  There is nothing worse than experiencing dehydration.  Erica being the awesome friend she is force-fed me water and I am so thankful she did.  The only time I revolted was when I didn’t have access to a bathroom on our hike.  No I was not about ready to squat in a bush and live like the stone ages!  With our luck, we would have used a leaf to wipe, another hiker came and then wound up with poison sumac  where the sun doesn’t shine.  Not a risk worth taking.  Other than that moment, water tasted so delicious.

Crystal Lake; www.anchordrop.org


Heavenly Gondola Ride: Lake Tahoe; www.anchordrop.org
Lake Crystal; www.anchordrop.org


Erica: Seriously Catie?! Peeing in the woods is not bad… Just make sure you look for wildlife before you take a squat. Water is incredibly important especially when hiking or being active at all. And if you plan to be out for more than a half a day make sure you have a filter system with you!


Catie: Take a lot of pictures.  We took so many wonderful shots of the lake, surroundings, and those who were around us.  It was such an amazing place to witness, you must have pictures to remind you to come back to this wonderful place.  Embrace your surroundings.

Hike on Mount Talic; www.anchordrop.org


Hike on Mount Talic; www.anchordrop.org


Erica: I’m a photoaholic… My DSLR was out all the time and I loved having the opportunity to take so many amazing pictures!


Catie: Budget in Tips.  This was a sketchy part of the trip and something we definitely forgot to budget in for our funds.  By the end, we went over budget because of this very fact.

Erica: yeah….

All in all, it was a beautiful and great experience.  We were able to be active and relax.  It was a nice place for balance of the two.  Check out some of the highlights of our trip!  I have Erica to thank for her picture obsession as we have so many fond reminders now of our trip to the beautiful pristine Lake Tahoe…HEY, Erica….when are we going back?

Erica: I vote tomorrow!

Anchor Drop wants to hear about your favorite vacation spot!  Please feel free to share below…

Kenya Teaches Brittany

One of my absolute best friends wrote an incredible blog the other day and has agreed to share it… here is what Brittany has to say…

Dear High School Self….

You’re not going to believe this.  I’m going to Africa this summer and it won’t be for the first time.  This will actually be my third trip to Africa.  Did I just make your heart start racing with panic and fear?  Don’t worry, you have about seven years to prepare yourself (although you’ll never be fully prepared for that first trip).  

Right now, I know you have the rest of your life planned out after graduation.  Your plan starts with going to college to become a teacher.  After you graduate you’ll find a full time teaching job in Avon, move out of your parents’ house, meet an amazing guy, get married, have two kids (a girl and a boy), get a dog, a cat, and be a stay at home mom in your house with a big front porch and a pool in the backyard.  
Well high school self, I have some advice for you and it’s only five words:
“Let go of your plan.”
I know how much you like to be in control, and I know you’ve had your plan set in stone since you were a little girl.  I know how stubborn you are and how much you are going to fight with God over keeping your plan.  I hate to tell you, but God is going to take your world and flip it upside down.  Then He’s going to send you to the other side of the world and rip you right out of your comfort zone.  You will find yourself thousands of miles from home walking through some of the worst slums in Africa.  As terrifying as that sounds right now, I can tell you that Africa was a part of God’s plan all along.  From the moment you step foot in the slums, you will forever be changed.     
Letting go of your plan won’t be easy, but I can tell you that God’s plan is SO much better!  You won’t even recognize yourself in ten years!  God is going to challenge and strengthen your faith in the years to come.  He’s going to take your passion for teaching and call you to teach in the last place you ever expected to be.  He’s going to call you to lead instead of just follow.  He’s going to show you that life is so much more than just the American dream.  
So high school self, I leave you with this verse to remember in the years to come.  Cling to these words, let go of your plan, and let God do an amazing work in you.  
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

Adoption Is Growing Me

Don’t ask me when I first became interested in adoption. I couldn’t tell you. Somewhere between high school or college is my best guess. It really doesn’t matter though. What matters is that this desire has continued to grow and take root.

Me (Emily) & my better half, Nick

I met and married a rather special someone who is also passionate about adoption. It was something we first connected over in our dating days, something we talked about as we made our budget during engagement, and something we’ve saved for since day one of our marriage.

Two and a half years ago we both would have told you we would get married, live life just the two of us for two to three years, then have a couple biological children, wait till they were 10-12 and then adopt. All while saving for this long-term goal of adoption.

Yet God has a way of changing our plans, or at least showing us that our plans are not always His. We hadn’t even been married a year when my heart began breaking more than I thought possible over the fact that are millions of orphans around the world. One of my friends has termed this ‘orphan pain’ and it is an incredibly accurate description. There were days I just wanted to do nothing but scheme and plan how we could help and days my heart was just broken beyond belief at the thought that the word orphan even exists because it represents a very real crisis and very real hurting boys and girls who need care, love, and a family. 

I began to pray. Some days I pleaded for this burden because the timing was all wrong. Other days I begged Him to let us do this NOW! Most of the time though I read and researched and felt compelled to do something all while knowing that wouldn’t happen.There was no way my husband would be on board this early…

Imagine my surprise when he came home one night a month or so later and mentioned that the Lord had been working on him! I hadn’t said a word to him! This whole time I had been in silent turmoil feeling like we would never agree on this. I was wrong.

Courtesy of Kristi Witek. Taken during her trip to Columbia.

We began researching options and trying to think through what we were being called to do. We hit some BIG roadblocks. I remember being very real with the Lord and questioning why He had given us this burning desire only to bring us to an impossible place. We got no real answers. Rather, we continued to talk about it, pray about it, and plan for it.

This fall we were able to attend the Together For Adoption Conference and were challenged by some amazing speakers. We spoke with some true servants in ministry, and walked away knowing NOW was our moment. We were just three days away from our second anniversary. Not exactly what we had planned, but we knew this was where we needed to head. We didn’t even think twice about our old plan of having biological children first and then adopting. This was what we were being called to do. We are so excited (and admittedly a bit intimidated)!

Why adopt? I wish I could sit down with you over a cup of hot tea or coffee and look you in the eyes and tell you about the 5 million orphans in Ethiopia, the waiting sibling group in foster care in your ‘backyard’, the mom who decided not to abort her baby but who isn’t going to mother the wee one either. I wish I could somehow encourage you to educate yourself and be broken to the point of action. I wish I could tell you that there is nothing good in me. This desire comes from the Lord and He is the one who will see us through. God cares for the orphans. I think one of the ways you can see the heart of God most clearly, is through orphans, those who cannot help themselves, those who are alone, loveless, and abandoned. God’s heart is there.  
Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress… James 1:27a 
Let us not lose heart in doing good… So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to ALL people… Galatians 6:9-10 (emphasis mine)
Photo courtesy of Kristi Witek

Orphans are part of that all. Children who just want a home, a warm meal, a mom and a dad or maybe a sibling or two are part of that all. Adoption is a true picture of the Gospel. Our prayer is that just as He has provided for us, cared for us, loved us with an everlasting love, and sought us out, that we would be able to do the same as much as humanly possibly for a sibling group in Latin America.

Did you know sibling groups are considered ‘special needs’ because most people aren’t open to adopting more than one. They aren’t the youngest children available for adoption so they face more risk of never being adopted.

Adoption is not without its costs. Both financial and physical/emotional. The average international adoption will cost between $35,000- $45,000. We don’t have that money. No matter how much we save or sacrifice we just don’t. I could (and often do) get overwhelmed and tell God there is no way this will happen, that just CAN’T. But then that still small voice reminds me I have been called to this. I may not understand the hows, whens, who, why, or be able to control any of it, but it isn’t about me. It’s about the orphan. The children who are waiting to come home, who are waiting on us to come and get them.

We’re not sure how we are going to do this financially. We want to do it debt-free. We’re saving, trusting the Lord, and inviting others to partner with us. I’m selling Jamberry through online orders, Facebook & in-home parties. It’s providing some extra income to bring home children I can’t get here fast enough. We’ve started a Just Love Coffee storefront where the certified fair trade & organic coffee friends and family buy helps give us funds and a Pure Charity account where others can donate money they earn from online shopping. We’ve put off vacations, home decor or house projects, we live a simple life without smart phones or cable/Netflix or newer cars. I honestly don’t feel like any of that is missing (most days), but I do find myself missing the children that are waiting on us. I find myself wishing I could do more to save more to send more money to places right here and around the world that provide care for the orphans.

Not everyone is called to adopt. Yet, I do believe we all have a role in orphan care. Have you considered doing a clothing drive? Sending money to an orphanage overseas? Sponsoring a child through Compassion International? Being a Safe Family?- (You have to check them out!) Being a mentor? Giving to those who are called/equipped to provide a home for orphans? Going on a missions trip to love on and care for orphans even for a few days?

You can keep up with us  and our adoption journey at our blog Sunbeams & Raindrops

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