Wednesday, October 18, 2017

40 before 40 update.....

40 before 40 update....
I know you all have been dying to see this list again!  Ha!  But I have some things to add to it!  :)  I know, I know..... you can't wait!  My latest updates are in Purple!  :)

 #1  Attend a Renaissance Festival  This happened last weekend!  It was so much fun!  My sister and I had a blast.  I loved seeing everyone, and experiencing the renaissance culture. 

#2  Celebrate New Year's in New York City and watch the ball drop!

#3  Pay School Loans down   Yay!  This is on the right track, but still working on it! I am making payments each month.  Whew sometimes it is  so hard to only spend money on my loans!  I'm still taking donations if anyone wants to pay them off for me! 

#4  Go Skydiving 

#5  Get a tattoo  I have TWO tattoos now!  Yippeee!!!!  Love my elephant and owl!   I really want another one!!!!!!

#6  Drive the Pacific Coast Highway all the way down California

#7  See a show on Broadway

#8  Get to know 5 good wine and cheese pairings, and host a wine tasting

#9  Hike some of the PCT

#10  Get in the best shape of my life

#11  Go skinnydipping  I changed this one back ;)    No updates though. 

#12  Go to an Art Museum once a year (Yikes, I need to get on this one for this year!)  Oh man!  Anyone want to go to an Art Museum with me? 

#13  Visit Napa Valley

#14  Go on a cruise

#15  Learn how to cook Risotto  (going to try to get this done before August 30th)  I need to get on this! 

#16  Go geocaching

#17  Meet a hero (Mandy Hale, Glennon Doyle, Cheryl Strayed)

#18  Be open to new dating opportunities  (I did well with this!!!)  I am going to change this one.... Be open to new dating opportunities, but don't just take any of them, because some of them are CRAZY! 

#19  Take the ultimate U.S. Road Trip Not solo.... I need a friend or two....

#20  Read every book by C.S. Lewis  Screwtape Letters, Mere Christianity are checked off!  Yay! 

#21  Learn to Knit  (Still working on this, but I am a great loom knitter)  Work in progress

#22  Take Spanish and be able to hold a conversation  (Ugh, not so great with this)  Hmmm.....

#23  Read 100 books  (Need to make my list) 

#24  Get a hair cut at a fancy salon

#25  Cook/Bake all my gma's recipes

#26  See a show at The Fox

#27  Read the Bible Cover to Cover each year

#28   Drink tea instead of coffee in the afternoon  Changing this  #28 Drink MORE tea!!!!! 

#29  Run the Bolder Boulder

#30  Watch every film on AFI top 100

#31  Go to the doctor/dentist/eye doctor as recommended  (Getting better with this)

#32  Complete a 1/2 marathon

#33  Write a short story

#34  Take a 24 hour solitude/no phone retreat 4 times a year  (I didn't do this at all)

#35  Pray everyday  (More work needed with this)

#36  Donate 2% of income each year to charity

#37  Try yoga

#38  Send 10 letters a year to friends far away  (I will do this)

#39  Make something crafty and sell it  (Yay!  I did this!  )

#40  Step out of my comfort zone at least once a day. 

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Sometimes the fight is hard...

Yesterday I had such a great time, after a pretty crappy week.  So when I woke up went to church on little sleep and started my day I wasn't really expecting to feel the way I do today.  What happened?  Why do I feel so alone, and unable to cope with just common events?  It usually happens when I go to something that  I feel like I should have plenty of people surrounding me and I don't.  Tonight was one of those times.  Sometimes the most alone I feel is at a family event at church.  I had volunteered for two shifts so that I wouldn't have to go through that.  But then things got changed, and so I found myself walking around by myself.  Something that I can handle at pretty much any other time, except for some reason it hit me super hard today. 

I just left, and as soon as I got in my car tears just started streaming down my face.  It isn't that I feel sorry for myself, it is just that I have this deep ache inside of me that feels like something is missing.  I don't belong at family events, because I don't have a family.  I'm not a single mom, I don't have relatives or super close friends with kids.  So, I end up just wandering around aimlessly. 

So, I had to come home and think through why these feelings are hitting me all of a sudden.  It seems like every time I get close to thinking that singleness might cease to exist for me...I realize that I'm wrong.  And that is where this aloneness stems from.  The past month or so I have allowed myself to start to have hope again that there's hope of someone.  That I am not this awful person, that I am not unlovable. 

I know I am not the only one who goes through cycles like this, and I know that it is a cycle.  It will pass, and I will once again know that I am loved and valued, but for tonight I just let myself cry and pray, and feel lost in this despair of never being good enough. 

So, how do I get through this cycle.  How do I understand what God wants from me, and how to make the most of the life he has given me?  How do I get rid of feelings of doubt that I shouldn't have such high standards when it comes to relationships? 

Why does it seem like I always get things wrong?  Read too much into a text, or friendship?  Why is it that the ones I want are the ones that don't want me?  Why is it that I am single?  Oh sure we like to say that it is better to be single.  I have heard that from so many people, even this week.  I know and get why it is being said, but you know what?  Sometimes the fight doesn't seem worth it.  I mean the fight to not just give in to the urge to just go out and date like the world says you can.  The urge to just try on a bunch of losers to find the right one?  The urge to go out with someone that isn't spiritually where I need someone to be in order to not feel so alone.  Or the urge to not wait for God's timing.  Because right now I am tired of waiting.  I am tired of not having a best friend. 

How do I break this cycle?  How do I stop myself from allowing the lies that I am not worthy to keep creeping into my heart and soul? 

It starts with Jesus.  It starts with spending time praying, reading and journaling.  It starts with putting those things first instead of FB, any kind of social media, and second guessing every decision I've ever made.  But it also starts with realizing that no one's life  is perfect.  That we all have desires, and that one day I will be blogging about an event like today in a different context.  My desire for being with someone is another's desire to get one second alone.  My desire to have a family and kids is another's  desire to be able to see the world. 

I know God has me.  I know that His promises are true and real.  But I know that I have made a billion mistakes and I make more everyday.  I try too hard, or not hard enough.  I long for a best friend.  I long for the void of that best friend, that family to be filled. 

Somedays no matter what we say it isn't enough to just depend on Jesus to fill those voids.  It should be, but it isn't.  I want it to be.  Maybe this week that can be my focus.  Cut down on social media, and just look up everytime my heart and mind drifts.  Look up when I try to fill that void with things I shouldn't.  Look up when I am reading into something that doesn't mean what I think or hope it does. 

I won't give up the fight, because I can't.  I don't want to.  But maybe for today I take a deep breathe, step out of the ring, and let Jesus take the fight back.  That's the best that I can do, that's the best that he asks me to.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Aloneness, concerts, and shootings...

My heart is so heavy today for Vegas.  Even more so because of where the incident happened.  I have walked those streets, I have been in that hotel.  I have friends that frequent that area of the world often, and it hurts.  It hurts that there are so many people dead and injured.  It hurts because somehow it could have/ should have been prevented.  I am not going to get into gun control because I don't honestly want to, and I know that a lot of people are hot over that right now.  What I want to get into is thinking about other people.  It seems to me that we are so wrapped up in ourselves, and what we want that we forget to look people in the eyes.  We are so determined to point out what everyone else is doing wrong that we forget to see how we should be living and the changes we should be making.  My heart hurts for people that lost loved ones, and my heart hurts for that man who thought this was his only hope.  Who for some reason thought that this was what he was supposed to do.  What I want to know is could someone have changed his mind?  Was there something somewhere in his story that happened that if circumstances were different his path would have walked down a different road and told a different story. 

What if he just needed to know that he wasn't invisible?  What if he just needed to know that he was loved for himself, and not for anything but that.  What if he just needed someone to look him in the eyes, and see him?  We are so quick to be about ourselves.  We are so quick to use things to our advantage, to not stop and at least try to understand where the other person is coming from.  We are so quick to put ourselves first. 

It's human nature to be self-absorbed, and we have to constantly check ourselves and seeing if we are making mini-gods of our own needs and wants.  The hardest thing to do, is to put someone else first.  I am not an expert at it, but I do feel as though I put others before myself a lot.  Maybe too often.  It causes me to be taken advantage of more times than I care to admit.  It causes people to think they can run over me, and I just don't like living like that.  So, I continue to grow in sticking up for myself. I continue to try to put others first while still maintaining that I deserve to be treated with respect, and decency. 

It isn't enough to just live life, and let people do whatever they want.  We weren't made for that kind of community.  We were made to enrich each other's lives.  We were made to love beyond what even we know we are capable of, and we were made to make a difference.  We were made to help each other, be honest with each other, but most of all be kind. 

Last weekend I went to Roots N' Blues, I volunteered to get in free.  Then I spent the rest of my time there by myself.  I did talk to some friends that I knew along the way, but I was there alone.  I find that there are a lot of things I do alone.  Mostly because I love volunteering, and haven't yet found anyone who wants to share in that experience with me.  There were two ladies that I see just about every year.  They volunteer, but they put on their application that they have to be together or they won't volunteer.  In reflecting on this, I never want that to be my reality.  The minute I can't do things alone, is the minute I have lost some of who I am.  Sure I love company, even more when it is company that encourages me, strengthens me, and challenges me to be a better person.  But I don't always have people that have the same interests as me.  So, do I give up what I enjoy because I don't want to be alone?  Or do I just keep living and enjoying so that I can be the best version of me?

Life is hard and confusing.  There are moments like yesterday when I don't understand the world we live in and I just want all the horrible things to disappear.  There are moments when I don't want to have to deal with conflict, or hurt feelings.  But there are moments of greatness.  Moments of snapchats, that light up my day, text messages of encouragement that help me understand I am not as crazy as people claim I am.  These moments I treasure. 

So I will put one foot in front of the other today, I will be thankful that I am alive.  I will be thankful for the people that show me love.  I will be thankful that I have a place to rest my head at night.  But mostly I will be thankful that in the midst of loneliness, I never truly have to feel alone. 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

How did I turn out this way?

As I was driving to work this morning there was a thought that crossed my mind.  In the past few days it has become apparent that I am not as conservative as some of my friends, and family.  I mean I kind of knew that anyways, but it has become even more apparent in the last few days.  As I was driving I was thinking about this, and how everything about the way I was brought up, and where I lived, where I went to church (Southern Baptist), all those signs point to me seeing the world with a very narrow minded view.  All of those things one would think would make me just like those that grew up in the same fashion I did, mid-west roots, conservative values. 

As I drove and thought about this, I went through some of my life choices.  Maybe it was me being overseas, and the experiences I have had over there.  Seeing first hand, experiencing first hand what it is like to be looked down upon because of your class, skin color, or beliefs.  But my sisters I feel like see the world in a similar way and neither of them have ventured to live in the four corners of the earth.  I also have friends that have lived overseas that are just as conservative and narrow-minded as those that have never left.  So, what is it?  What is it that allows me to see the world in this way that others don't?  Why don't I hold to a flag the same way that my fellow Americans do?  Is it because I am not patriotic?  Is it because I was gone for so long during the time in my life that most likely would have shaped my sole American identity?  I love America, I love that I was born in America, but I would die for a person from another country even a Middle Eastern country before I would die for a flag.  I will never put a flag over valuing someone's life.  It's not in me, and it is not who I am. 

Everything about my life had the makings of a conservative, Southern Baptist Christian girl, but I am not your typical anything.  I don't see the world the way that most do.  I see people for who they are.  I admit to myself that sometimes I am racist, sometimes I have prejudices, sometimes I hold my purse a little tighter when I walk in "that part of town."  I admit those things to myself.  But you know what I also admit to myself, that there is no way that I will ever agree that I am the best, or that my country is superior.  Maybe God just chose to put this in me from early on, or maybe the experiences He has allowed me to have were to shape me into this person that is able to understand things from many different sides.  If that is my one thing... I will take it! 

I don't want to ever come across as being superior, because I don't think that is who Jesus was/is.   He called people out, yes.  But you know who He called out the most?  The hypocrites, the tax collectors, people that were using their authority to take advantage of others.  That's who He was calling out.  Jesus wasn't one to just stand back and watch the world fall apart, He got into the midst of the pain and suffering.  He took it on himself. 

I guess today's post is really just to say that I am thankful.  I am thankful that I was brought up the way I was, that I have been able to experience people of all kinds of backgrounds, nationalities, and political foundations.  I am so thankful that I know just how lucky I am to be born in a place where people can kneel during the national anthem, and not get arrested or killed.  I am thankful that I don't have to agree with everyone, and I am thankful that all of it can be done in love. 

So for today, I look at my experiences, and see how things could have been very different.  I am thankful for the grace I have been given, and the everyday opportunities I have to see things from more than one perspective. 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

He is >

I have moments in life when I do things that I instantly regret, because I am scared to death that one thing will be enough to send someone running in the other direction.  Why does it scare me so much?  Probably because it has happened.  Probably because we live in a world of messed up relationships.  A world where we want to be the boss, be in control, and have everyone agree with everything.  We want everyone to see life, see the world the way we do.  We give in to the fear of being rejected or alone, and allow ourselves regrets for what was said or not.  We compare ourselves to this person or that person, and we forget that it isn't actually about any of that. 

I was reminded again today how easily it is for me to do things that I instantly regret.  A word here, a look there.  Or maybe it is just the words of self-doubt that I allow myself to continue saying over and over again, instead of truths that will build me up.  The words that I allow to echo in my mind as I try to push past them and live the best way that I can. 

For some reason when I always think about putting God first, it seems like that means that I have to be in this lowly position.  That I have to allow myself to not feel as worthy as others, or continue to compare myself to them.  I feel like I am required to just let people beat me down, believe them when they tell me or show me I am not good enough, and ultimately let their words run my life. 

These past few days the more I have thought about and pondered what it means that Jesus is greater, I can't help but think that my journey in this area has only just begun.  My life is too busy.  I can't be busy every night of the week, and still take time for prayer, reading, and pondering.  I can't fill every spare moment I have with people, and events, and keep Him as greater.  My life needs to be less focused on what I look like to everyone else, and more focused on the only one that truly matters.  For as long as I keep going on empty.  As long as I keep trying to fill every second of my day with things that aren't growing my relationship with Him, I will just keep feeling empty and unsure.  I will just keep seeing every action as a mistake. 

It is through growth and time with Him, I will be the best version that I can be.  Not filling every second of my day with stuff to do, doesn't mean that I am less worthy or popular.  It simply means that I need Him to be in control of my life more so than I need my own self to be in control.  I need to be able to stop, breathe, and just be sometimes. 

I need His love, grace, mercy to be at the foremost of my being.  So that my selfish, harshness is constantly being changed and deleted.  One day I hope that all people see of me is Him.  Until that day I have to just do the best that I can, knowing that my mistakes only make Him love me more. 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Why Being on My Own Isn't My Greatest Fear

As I sit here typing this I am listening to a podcast on Singleness.  There are so many things in this podcast that I am latching on to that I want to share, but really I don't even know how to understand all that I am learning.  What I do know is that I am constantly trying to fight the fear I have of being alone forever.  Yet, that is not my greatest fear.  I don't fear being alone.  For I don't ever truly feel completely alone.  I know that I have a God that loves me, I know that I have people in my life whether they are here or across the ocean that I could call up, send an email to, or message and they would be there for me in a second.  I know that God ALWAYS provides for me in way of community.  Every single time I am praying for Him to show me what community means, He goes out of His way to help me see all that I have, and all the people I have.  He always shows me what it means to live in community.  Sometimes community shifts, sometimes there are misunderstandings, but I have grown through those times too.

I long for marriage, for that one person to come in to my life that I just click with, but I also have come to the realization that I don't want to give up my calling because of it.  I also don't want to be looked down because of it.  No matter how many times I say that singles in their 30's-40's don't feel welcome in the church I don't think we are still getting it.  I think that there is still this misconception that the best thing to do with singles is to try and marry them off, or give them extra ways to serve in the church because they don't have as many "responsibilities" as their married counterparts.

But I think that it starts with me.  It starts with me not looking down on my life or myself because I am single.  It starts with me not allowing the words that I have been called by those that rejected me, "whackadoodle," "piece of shit floating down the river," "golddigger" just to name a few to not keep replaying in my mind.  It starts with me understanding that I am not going to ever be perfect, but I was made perfect for the work I am to do on earth.  I was made perfect for those that are in my life.

I don't want to pretend like every day I am just fine being alone, because not everyday is easy.  Not everyday do I wake up thinking that I am SO glad to be single.  But you know what?  I don't mind the life that I am leading, in fact I am happy.  I am thankful for the opportunities that I have, and I don't look down on my singleness as something to be scoffed at.  I don't look down at my role as something that is lower than those around me that are married and trying to raise kids.

My life doesn't have less meaning because I am single.  Nor do I have less of an impact on this world.  One day I hope and pray that God brings someone into my life with the same desire for the nations that I have.  Someone who would jump on a plane at a moments notice to go share His love in the deepest part of the world.  To sacrifice time, money, and a comfortable life for furthering the Kingdom.  That's my prayer and hope, but until then I will be thankful for my singleness, and I will keep showing the church how to welcome singles.  I will keep having conversations with my married friends, teaching them  that saying "God's timing" doesn't really help.  Guiding them to understand what it truly means for singles over 30 in the church to be accepted.

For my greatest fear isn't being on my own.  My greatest fear is that I will allow my singleness to become a bitter way that I keep myself from loving God with my whole heart.  My greatest fear is that I allow my singleness to become my focus, instead of my desire to go to the nations.  My greatest fear is that I forget who my King is and replace Him with something that is less than.  That is my greatest fear.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

What does it mean to be focused on Jesus....

Do you ever come to a place where you wonder what you have been believing in?  You wonder how you continue to walk down the path of faith when everyday seems to be a struggle to understand who Jesus is, what He did, and if you even really believe that it is true.  Not too long ago I thought I was the only one.  I thought that this struggle to understand my beliefs was an original thought for me.  Little did I realize just how wrong I was/am.  Every day I encounter people that are perplexed by faith.  They feel like the deeper they get into knowing who God is, the more they get away from understanding Him.  It seems to be this crazy battle between what we want to believe, and what is truth.  We want to make our own way, figure it out, but we are unwilling to sacrifice time and people to do it.  We don't want anyone to look down on us for our beliefs, we don't want to stand out.  We just want to keep going on this path that makes us look good to the world, but is doing just enough to get by with Jesus.

I am guilty of it.  Guilty of wanting to "fit in."  Wanting people to like me, and so I don't stand up for my faith the way I should.  I give in when it is convenient, and I let others determine what my faith means to me.

Today's sermon had an illustration about water.  Righteousness is obtained by thirsting for it.  Thirsting for it like nothing else.  When I examine my depths, and look at who I am.  My thirst isn't for Jesus.  Not like that.  Not like He is the only thing I want and need.

My thirst is often times for things that easily distract me.  Drinking my problems away, or gossiping, or just filling my time with people before I go to the throne of my King.  Leading a life that is trying to fill the voids with anything and everything but the love of Jesus.

How different would my life look if I found as much joy from  getting up early to read my Bible and pray, as I do getting up early and teaching kids in China.  I don't know how to describe how happy it makes me.  I hate mornings.  I really hate them, and I never once hit my snooze button and go back to sleep when I have a class to teach.  Why can't I never hit my snooze button when it comes to getting up to read my Bible and pray?

Why am I not longing for time with Him the way that I long for time with my students?  Why is He not bringing that kind of joy to my life?

Sometimes I think it is because I don't feel Him all the time.  I don't always understand his presence, and I can't just check him off a list of things to do.

It takes time and effort.  It takes moments of longing.  Moments of quiet.  Moments of pondering who I am, and where I come from.  Moments of understanding that I don't deserve to be saved, but I have been anyways.

Mostly it takes moments of boldness.  Boldness to sacrifice a little bit of sleep in order to pray and read.  Boldness to stand up for what I believe, even if I am going to get scoffed at.  Boldness to love from the deepest part of me.  Boldness to be a follower of Christ.  Boldness to hunger and thirst for righteousness.

Boldness to stay focused and keep moving forward on the journey.