Saturday, December 31, 2016

2017.....A Year of Risks.....

I took a look back over my posts from this past year.  2016, it was supposed to be my year of being Intentional, Grateful, and Authentic.  As I reflect on these things, I have to wonder if they were really what drove me.  If every interaction I had was really about these three words.  I have to admit to myself that it probably wasn't.  I don't know that this was my best year of authenticity.  I was real, but I also wasn't.  I hid behind a lot of insecurities in a lot of different situations throughout this year.  I'm not going to put myself down for that, because I don't think we can fix everything in a year.  I don't think we were meant to.  I think that we are just meant to live better than the year before.  Sometimes there are years filled with lots more darkness than there have been in the past.  Sometimes we get stuck in that darkness for most of the year, but then we begin again. 

So, I'm not going to let go of being authentic.  It is still very much a part of the core of who I am.  It is still very much a part of the process that I want to work on.  Being authentic isn't about always being so open and raw.  Being authentic is about caring about others, developing community, and being open enough to risk. 

My word for 2017 is risk.  This year I want to risk all that I have to live life to the fullest.  I don't want to stop having adventures just because I think that everyone expects me to stay in one place.  I don't want to stop seeing the world, experiencing life on every continent, being a part of cultures that cause me to examine my life and share the grace that I have been given.  Risk isn't about giving up on dreams, or people.  Risk is about not being okay with living a mediocre life.  Taking chances, applying for that job that you might never have applied for before.  Not staying in an environment that is toxic.  Risk means moving mountains and going after the things that I'm passionate about.  Living my life in the most authentic way that I can, and being willing to let go of those things that only cause hurt and pain. 

This year might not be epic, but it sure is going to be a year for a lot of changes.  It sure is going to be a year for me to decide what makes me happy, what fills me, and go after it with all my heart. 

I have a lot of resolutions, and goals for this year.  Drinking more water, reading my Bible more, taking time to hike, writing real letters. 

The most important though is that I refuse to be stuck in a life that is convenient, or a life that doesn't challenge me. 

Here's to 2017....may the risks be worth it! 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Darkness helps the Light...

Never in my life would I have dreamed that I would be in the place I am in, or actually was in because I can say that I am definitely on the uphill climb to this valley.  Sometimes though you have to be in a dark place, in order to see the light.  Sometimes it isn't about the people that surround you as much as it is about getting up out of that hole, allowing yourself to be okay with your truth and letting yourself wallow for just a little bit. 

 I think oftentimes we want everyone to be happy, we don't want to be around sad people.  We don't want to be around people that are depressed, lonely, and unsure of the steps they are taking next.  We just want happiness.  I get it, because I have been one of those people.  I have been a person that didn't want to be around the "Eeyore's" of the world...that is until I was one.   Until I was so deep in darkness that I honestly didn't feel like getting out of bed most mornings.  

I had convinced myself that I was worth nothing to this world.  I had convinced myself that my life wasn't actually worth anything, that when I was created...there was something in me that was created wrong.  I had convinced myself that everyone was only hanging out with me because they felt they had to.  That I had no friends, that I was unlovable.   Then I hated myself for doubting all those things.  And...the wall was put back up.  

I am a strong person.  There aren't a lot of people that have broken the wall down, and I hate to admit, but sometimes the wall goes back up.  It shouldn't, but it does.  Isn't that the case with all of us though?  Okay..maybe it is just me.  Maybe I am the only person in the world that constantly has trust issues.  I kind of doubt it.  

Here's the thing though....if we don't trust people in our life, because they have shown to be untrustworthy over and over we continue to allow them to be a part of our lives?  Do we continue to allow them to hurt us, or live in fear that we will be dropped without a moments notice?  Do we allow that anxiety to continue to drive us?  

That is where the darkness comes in.  Sometimes I think we have to walk in the darkness for a little while.  Sometimes we have to let the world swallow us up, not in a destroying kind of way, but just a way in which we allow ourselves to journey inward.  But then.....we let the light back in.  

We talk to people about our struggles.  We open up, and try to figure out why the world looks so dark.  We realize that we were created for good things, even if it seems like the world and people in our world are against us.  We let people in, reach out even when we don't want to...and we allow ourselves to be loved.  

We all have moments and times when we are walking in darkness.  Even a candle has to be in the dark sometimes.  I think the most we can do is understand where people are at, and admit where we are for ourselves.  Admit when we don't have it all together.  Admit when we are having days where we just don't see the hope, joy, and love.  Then after admitting that we do things that will help us know our worth.  Whether that is passages from the Bible, songs that have worthy messages, or just sitting down to coffee with a friend.   

My light has been pretty dim the last couple of months, but I think that I am finally by God's grace on the journey to full brightness again.  I am not perfect, and the best that I can do is to grow on this journey, search hard for where God wants me, and live out His daily truths.  My days are not always going to be happy, but they can always be full.  My days aren't always going to be full of light, but they can shimmer with hope...always.  

Darkness is necessary...because if there wasn't darkness...we wouldn't understand or need the light. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Hate doesn't Win....

As I watched the election feed last night, I felt this overwhelming sense of dread and horror at the fact that Donald Trump was actually winning.  I thought, it would change...somehow he would not come out on top.  I watched as my newsfeed showed family and friends that I consider to be loving, welcoming human beings rejoice at the fact that the "evil" witch wasn't winning.  "The lesser of two evils." 

It hurts me that this is the state of our country.  It hurts me that I had to walk into school this morning, knowing that many of my students were going to be coming from this mind frame.  That I was walking into a place where a majority of people voted for the man who now holds the office of President-Elect.  It hurts me because I see how much hate has been created because of this process. 

Whether my Bible believing friends want to grasp this or not.  EVERY single person is made in GOD's IMAGE!  Every single person!  So, when you go out spouting how evil one person is over the other, are you really sharing God's love with the world? 

It is funny to me how people who are spouting hate, and making fun of Hilary or her supporters are the same people that think it is a sin to dress immodestly, to drink, to smoke, and to cuss.  I don't get how those two can go together.  You talk about Jesus' love and sacrifice in one breath, while you spew out hate for another in the next breath.  Doesn't she deserve the same love and grace that you are willing to give to him, or to each other?  Doesn't she?  Don't we all???

There are some people who will never grasp what it means to be a minority.  There will be some people who never understand what it means to be grabbed inappropriately, almost raped, called names based on your skin color or sex.  There will be some people that think that it is not a big deal. I am here to say, it is.  It is a big deal how people are being made to feel.  It isn't just something that we should accept.  I have had a  man look me in the eyes and tell me he wanted to rape me.  I have been touched by someone in places I didn't want to be touched.  It isn't a joke to me.  Being treated as if I don't matter, isn't a joke to me. 

It is hard for me right now to understand how people I love can be putting so much pride into the world.  So much gloating is going on.  Like I actually saw a meme where someone posted about the witch being gone.  I can't, you guys...I just can't.  Because, if the roles had been switched, and it was her that had said/done the things that he did.  It wouldn't even be a discussion.  What we need right now is not gloating, and pride.  What we need right now is humbleness and kindness.  How would Jesus be leading?  What would he be posting? 

I will respect Trump as President.  I will pray for him, and support him as much as I have other Presidents, but I will not accept his view of people.  I will never be okay with the words he has spouted against those who are different.  I will never give in to the fear that he has created about immigrants, and refugees.  I will never allow my views to be dictated by fear.

So, if you are reading this...I urge you to pray.  Pray for our country, pray for our future President.  And love.  Love the person that is different from you.  Love the immigrant down the street that is afraid for his/her life.  Love the woman who found out she is pregnant from being raped 2 months ago, and she is considering having an abortion. Love the gay man you met on the subway that feels like he will never be able to be understood or accepted.   Love those around you like Jesus would.  Love till you understand their hurt and pain.  


Thursday, October 27, 2016

Being Broken, and becoming Stronger...

Two months ago I had something happen in my life that literally almost broke me.  I tried to tell myself that it wasn't a big deal, that I was making it a bigger deal than it needed to be, and that I should just get over it.  But then I realized that I needed to deal with it.  This thing that happened to me literally rocked me and made me not want to be alive.  I have often wondered how one situation can make someone want to give up on life, want to not be around.  I used to actually judge people that thought that way...and then it happened to me. 

I lost everything that in the last year I had come to rely on.  I lost my best friend, I lost a group of people that I had come to see as family.  I lost my community as I knew it, and I didn't want to be here anymore.  I allowed myself to believe the words that were written to me.  I allowed myself to believe that I had nothing to give anyone in my life.  That all I was, was this toxic waste of a human being.  I allowed the words to penetrate my heart, and everything that I had worked hard to change about myself especially in the last couple of years.  I allowed myself to believe that everyone in my life felt that I was unnecessary.  These feelings caused me to push people away that I had come to consider family. 

It has taken me a couple of months to work through these feelings, to find the path to where I want to be again...and to see beyond the words written down to me, and the actions taken against me.  I will never think that I am perfect, but without a doubt I know that I am worthy of friendship and love.  I know that the person I am is someone who cares about others, would literally lay down my life for anyone... and matters to this world.  I know that sometimes my sarcasm hurts others, sometimes I am selfish, and sometimes I judge when I shouldn't. 

I can't make anyone want to be around me.  I don't understand why sometimes people choose to only see my weaknesses, but I can pick myself up and say that I have worth and value in this world.  But it is a daily choice I have to make.  No one can make it for me.  No one can make me feel one can even really help me on this journey.  It is one that I have to walk alone. 

I have to choose to deal with what I feel.  I have to look at things as truth or not.  I have to understand that even though I may feel like people don't care about me, it isn't true.  Not everyone is going to be in my life forever.  We all know that friendships go through seasons.  The best I can do is allow situations to break me, mold me, and make me into a stronger person. 

The walls are slowly being chipped away again.  It will probably take awhile before my heart is ready to allow someone in to the inner parts of me, because I am still bruised and tender.  But I will.  I will let someone in again.  I will also be a better friend because of this. 

Sometimes I get tired of trying.  Sometimes I get tired of putting myself out there, but the only way to understand being truly broken, is by diving into sacrificial love.  Love that will do anything, for anyone.  Love that sees weaknesses, and accepts them in spite of.  Love that opens up doors to new rooms, rooms that have never been touched before.  Mostly though, love that doesn't keep record of wrongs, but gives grace.  Love that shows just how much value and worth each of us have. 

My brokenness is a part of who I am, and who I will be in the future.  I have to wake up each day and embrace it.  If I pretend that it isn't there, then I lose a part of who I am.  My strength comes from being vulnerable, and weak.  My strength comes because there is someone greater pushing me, and molding me.  My from my brokenness.  

Monday, October 10, 2016

Giving Up

The wind tosses me to and fro
I am not sure which way to go
I want to live up to the goals in my life
But I continue to feel nothing but strife

Why do I get so lost and confused
Everyday brings me a different mixed-up view
I want to be confident, soar all the heights
I want to let go of the demons inside

I feel like I am lost in a storm that keeps brewing
I feel the waves crashing, eroding, and moving
My life doesn't seem to make sense at all
Am I alone, alone in this walk

This wall that I built back up around myself
Because I kept getting hurt by  loneliness and doubt
The wall is unbreakable, unmovable, without bend
The wall is continuous, it knows no end

I wanted it to be broken, I wanted to let you in
But I can't give in to the vulnerability
The vulnerability for sure has an end

I want to be brave, and face all my fears
But it seems like I just keep falling into the depths of despair
It seems like my moments are prolonged and chaotic
It seems like I read things wrong all the time and can't stop it

Maybe I am worthy of the walls to be broken
Maybe I have what it takes to be successful and outspoken
But inside what it feels like is that I should just give in
Let go of the hope, and expectation within

Inside I feel like I need to give up
Let go of the hopes and the dreams that I have built up
I don't want to let go, I want to keep living
But what if I don't have what it takes to keep believing

Messy Honesty

We have to be honest.  There comes a point when we have to look ourselves in the eyes, and admit that we don't have it all together.  We have to admit that we are lost in a world of trying to please those around us.  Admit that we are lost in a place of expecting everyone including God to constantly judge us.  That our definition of love has been so changed and impacted by the world's definition that we have lost sight of what it truly means.  We have created this messy outlook on life, on love that is defined by unrealistic expectations. 

We have to be honest, and start believing in our beauty, believing in love, compassion, and justice.  We have to understand that life is messy, that sometimes we are going to feel lonely, left out, and want to flee from all of it.  We have to understand that sometimes expectations of ourselves are so high that we find ourselves pointing out failures more than successes.  We find ourselves lost in a place where we think others are only seeing the bad, and not the good too. 

We continue to put our  thoughts and feelings on others that we have about ourselves.  We lose people, and we allow our self talk to become negative.  If only we had been different, if only we had not allowed them to see all of the failures, weaknesses that are inside of us.  Maybe then we could still be friends.  We allow ourselves to believe that it is our fault completely when relationships/friendships are uprooted, or when a best friend becomes nothing more than an acquaintance or perhaps even less than that.... they cease to exist in our life at all.    

The truth is that it is not really about what the world wants us to think.  It is actually not even about what our friends think.  It is really truly about what we in the deepest part of ourselves believe to be truth, and believe to be real.  It is about being honest, the messiest version of honest that we can be. 

To me that means opening up, and talking.  Talking about when I am feeling lonely.  Talking about when I do not feel like I am enough.  Talking about those things that create a large hole inside of me.  Most of all not allowing my view of love, and community to be determined by the world, but rather by God Himself. 

So today's messy honesty.  I am in a rut.  I feel like my life that I had dreamed about slipped through my fingers somewhere along the way, and I don't know how to get control of it again.  I feel like I am not enough for a lot of people.  That I am too big, too loud, too opinionated, too insecure, too strong, too much of some things and not enough of others.  I feel like I don't matter sometimes.  The people that I thought I had mattered to, have pretty much shut me out, and it feels lonely.  I feel like I am having to start all over again, and this time it isn't my choice.  I feel like I am not enough. 

That's my messy honesty.  I know that even just admitting how I feel and talking about it, helps me.  It helps me realize that I don't have to feel that way.  There are greater truths out there.  Sometimes though, we just need time to work through what those truths are. 

So today, I choose honesty, and vulnerability.  Today I choose to look at what my view of love, compassion, and community is from a non-world view.  Today I choose messy honesty, and a different kind of love. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016


Did you ever make that list in high school or college?  That list that had everything you wanted in another person.  You know down to the very details.  Did you ever find that list years later and think....Ha!  There is NO way someone could meet everyone of those details you put on your list. 

Oh sure, I have met people along the way who have that fantastic story of that person that meets everything they ever wanted in a best friend/husband/wife.  They are the perfect couple, and blah...blah....blah.....

But for the mass majority of us....that list is far from reality. Especially as we get older.  Now as I think about that person that I hope is out there...I am amazed at how many guys probably could have worked. 

Okay, so it is no prince charming/Cinderella story....but isn't love messy? 

Shouldn't it be about that person that challenges us to live a better life, not just the one that we have the most chemistry with...or the one that we find the most pleasing to the eye. 

Isn't  love about sacrifice, forgiveness, and growing in it every single day? 

Okay, I'm not saying that there shouldn't be a connection, and some kind of physical attraction, but I am saying that don't we put too much stock in trying to make that person fit that list.  Maybe we are looking at the list so long and trying to match the qualities up that we think that perfect person should have, that we actually miss the person that is right in front of us.  Maybe the person that is right in front of us is the one person that is going to be able to break through all the walls, and fear, but we won't give them a chance because they are holding the wrong hammer.  Or they aren't holding it the right way, or they don't look right when they are holding it the right way. 

Isn't it time for us to put away the expectations that society has for us.  Put away the "perfect" version of people that we want to have in our lives, and accept the messy ones that are in our lives.  Isn't it time that we allow our hearts to be penetrated by someone that can love us the way Jesus did.  Someone that sees our faults, but still wants to be a part of our life.  Someone that we might not have everything in common with, but they know how to hold our hand and say a prayer with us.  Or they might not be the hottest guy/girl on the block, but they never miss an opportunity to help someone in need. 

So maybe he/she doesn't have every single quality that we have looked for, but they have a connection with us that surpasses any we have ever known.  They listen to us, and understand us.  They challenge us to love in a greater way, and they pray with us.  Those are the qualities that I think should surpass all others.  Because those are the qualities that are going into eternity. 

Expectations seem to ruin a lot of things.  Mostly relationships.  Maybe God's best for me isn't meeting everything on the "list" because He has things I need to learn apart from my "ideal" relationship. 

I sometimes think that if we could lower our expectations, then God could do more.  Maybe I'm wrong...but that's how I'm feeling today. 

Why Hatred is Eating Away our Hearts....

For the longest time I wasn't very vocal about how I felt when it came to the #blacklivesmatter movement.  I thought that it was important, but not worth all the controversy of me voicing my opinion.  I mean don't get me wrong I talked to my friends, and family about it.  But that was as far as it went.  It isn't like I didn't care, because I did.  I cared a lot, but it is almost like I didn't truly understand it.  I didn't truly get the fact, because I believed that there was just cause in the shootings.  I believed what the media told me.  I believed that killing was the only way. 

Then I stopped believing it. 

You know why I stopped believing it?  Because it isn't true. 

We have a hate problem right now in America.  We have a fear problem.  It is breaking us.  It is tearing us apart.  It is causing us to lose people that are making a difference in our nation.  It is breaking apart families.  It is a problem. 

It isn't THEIR problem.  It is MINE.  It is each of OURS. 

You know why? 

Because I am a Christian, and I believe that people were created in God's image.  So, if God's people are being gunned down just because they have a different skin color than I do.  It isn't okay with me. 

You know why else? 

Because I believe that EVERYONE is valued and loved.  That's right EVERYONE!  No matter what gender you are, no matter what color your skin is, no matter where you are from.  EVERY SINGLE PERSON that is on this planet, is VALUED and LOVED. 

I don't know how to say it any clearer, but no one knows my thoughts or feelings, because no one has walked in my shoes.  No one understands the fear that I have when I have to walk in a parking garage by myself late at night, no one knows that fear unless you have lived through that fear also.   No one understands what it is like to live in another country and leave behind everything and everyone, unless you have lived that. 

I don't know what it is like to be a minority in the United States, because I HAVE NEVER BEEN A MINORITY IN THE UNITED STATES! 

I will never understand what it is like.  So, I do not feel justified in pointing out how my life matters, when I have never been made to feel like it didn't because of my skin color. 

I sure have in regards to my gender, but that is another situation entirely. 

So, I guess my point is that I have people, people that I respect and love posting things, and saying things that are so degrading to their fellow human beings.  People that claim to hold the love of Jesus in their hearts are sitting their saying so many slang words, about others that I don't even know how to comprehend everything that I am hearing. 

Aren't we supposed to be about love? 

Aren't we supposed to be about putting others needs before our own? 

What if it was your husband?  Your son?  Your daughter? 

What if it was your niece or nephew? 

More than that...what if it was your next door neighbor? 

Aren't we supposed to be treating everyone like our neighbors.  Loving them, no matter what?  Isn't that what we are called to do? 

I can't swallow the hate that is in this nation right now.  I can't just sit back and say that it is okay.  When college students are painting their faces black, and posting things on social media...there is something really wrong with this world.  When the confederate flag is being flown as a symbol of power, and prejudice there is something really wrong with this world.  When we have more love and compassion for a man who raped someone, then one who was murdered there is something really wrong with this world. 

And I know there is!  We live in a fallen world.  We are a fallen people. But the problem is that if some of us don't stand up to the hate that is eating away at our hearts.  If we don't choose love, then what is the point in even claiming His name?  What is the point in even trying to make a difference?

We have to let go of hate.  We have to examine our hearts, and ask ourselves what are prejudices are.  We all have them.  We have to start letting them go.  All of us, no matter what color we are, gender we are, where we come from.  We have to learn to love again.


Sunday, September 18, 2016

One day....

I've been thinking about friendships, relationships, and community a lot in the past month or so.  I feel like this past year I have grown in my ability to do those things well.  I still am not perfect by any means, but I am at least in a much better place than I was a year ago.  But I still have a few hopes...

One day I hope to come across a person that I connect with on a deep level, and we just know. 

One day I hope that I come across a person that can totally get my sarcasm, and not be offended by it...but instead give it back. 

One day I hope that I come across a person that truly wants to serve others, and lead by example. 

One day I hope that I come across a person that tells me I am beautiful, and never stops saying it. 

One day I hope that I don't have to wonder if someone is just going to stop being my friend.

One day I hope that I will not doubt people's intentions. 

One day I hope that I will know what it is like to love a child of my own. 

One day I hope that I get to understand what it means to never give up on someone. 

One day I hope that someone tells me I will never be too much for them. 

One day I hope that I get to fall head over heels in love. 

One day I hope that the world especially the church stops looking down on single people, and instead embraces them. 

One day I hope that I will be able to understand others without getting mixed messages. 

One day I hope that I will be able to say exactly how I feel, when I feel it. 

One day I hope that I will be confident enough to peel away the remaining layers. 

One day I hope that people will start truly caring about the insides of others, and falling in love with souls instead of bodies. 

One day I hope that connections lead to more instead of pushing away from less.

One day I hope that intentions could just be second nature.  

One day I hope that love will overcome all. 

One day....

When God says Yes.

It has been a little while since I have written.  I feel like I have been caught up in a lot of things that are trying to steal my attention and time.  A lot of things that are trying to hook me in so that I forget why I am actually here in the first place.  I forget my purpose, and my dreams.  I forget that I still have so much to accomplish, but that it isn't really about me. 

Do you ever feel tired.  Tired of life, tired of living in a chaotic existence?  Tired of the crazy amount of work that you have to do, all for what?  This week I had to spend a lot of time examining my heart, and my future.  I am still in the midst of some pretty big decisions.  Decisions that will impact a lot of different aspects of my life.  Decisions that need to be made, but I am for once having a really hard time with change.  I usually thrive on it, I usually love it.  But this time, change is really hard.  Because it is going to be so good, but it is literally going to change EVERYTHING! 

How do I continue to go in the direction I am supposed to go, and stay the same?  I can't.  I can't stay the same.  I have to learn and grow from the experiences that have been impacting me.  I have to open up to the future, and what is going to happen.  I have to accept that some people are only in my life to steer me onto the next BIG thing. 

I wish it wasn't that way.  I really do! 

We have to live life to the fullest. We have to open ourselves up to change, to redirection, and to stepping outside of our comfort zone.  We have to finish the race.  We can't get caught up in the things that want to make us stumble. 

That means making changes, BIG changes.  That means making priorities that are not directed towards my own selfish wants/desires.  That means giving up some things that I don't want to let go of. 

But it also means a life that is running the race well. 

Friday, September 2, 2016

Growth and Change....

This week has been a tough week in many ways, but it has been a releasing week as well.  I have so many thoughts and so much to say.  I have had two different people in the past week write things to me, that had the potential to do some damage.  One of them I hadn't heard from in awhile, the other I just had a conversation with the other day. 

It is amazing to me how in our lives we find ourselves on this path to become a better person.  Sometimes in that quest we are faced with letting go of people and ideals that we have.  We find ourselves needing to start clean, fresh, and leave behind the things that have caused us pain.  Sometimes we even have to let go of people that we thought we would fight alongside for the rest of our lives. 

I do not necessarily think that letting go is bad.  I think that sometimes our relationships outgrow each other.  Sometimes we have a different path to take that is leading us to a different destination.  I wish that people wouldn't see themselves as superior when this is the case, but unfortunately I think that is the age we live in.  We find ourselves needing to put others down in order to move forward.  When in reality it doesn't have to be about that.  It could just be about the fact that our values are different, and our paths are leading us to better things that do not include the other person.  Of course it stinks, and of course it is rough.  But.... if the alternative is making each others lives worse, then what other choice is there? 

I believe in being authentic and real.  I believe in other people being authentic and real, but I don't believe in attacking someone's character.  I don't believe in holding things in and unleashing the crackin' on someone.  It isn't me, it isn't what I am about and I don't want any part of it. 

In the past I have been the most sarcastic person you could find, and even now days depending on who I am around my sarcasm can sometimes come out in leaps and bounds.  But I have worked SO hard to tame it in.  I have worked SO hard to be a person who loves others.  I can't always say how much I love someone to their face.  My love language is written notes, and gifts.  My love language is the time that I spend just hanging out and sacrificing those moments for others.  I try my hardest to love without expectation, but unfortunately my humanness always finds a way to bring expectations. 

I am a work in progress.  I have faults, I have insecurities, I am emotional.  Sometimes those things drive me.  Sometimes those things get the best of me.   How do I move forward in a world where people attack my insecurities?

I take one day at a time.  I look into the truths of what I am.  I examine myself  and I do try to strengthen the good, and let go of the bad.  But I also just love.  I love myself for who I am, and who I am evolving to be.  I love the fact that life brings us so many people to learn from and grow with.  I embrace the mess that I am, and understand that everyday is about being given grace.  I give grace and love in a world where people see it as anything but that. 

I also try my best to lose my expectations of others.  I know that there will never be a day where I don't have expectations, because I do hold people to a high standard.  I expect people to treat me decently and humanly.  I expect people that I love to do that.  I expect them to try their very best to be my friend, to love me, and to be honest with me. 

I am in the midst of some major life changes.  I am in the midst of needing to let go of some thought patterns that I have held on to for awhile.  But I am also on the brink of some really great things.  Some of those things I need to let go of other things/people in order to move forward in.  I don't think that it means anything is bad or wrong.  I think that it just means sometimes along the path of growth we have to breathe different air.  We have to be around different music.  I never want to let go of things that should be in my life, but I also never want to hold on to things that shouldn't. 

So today I embrace some change that I know is coming.  I examine my heart and my mind knowing that I am not perfect, but I am so worthy.  I am worthy of love and honesty.  I am worthy of trust and respect.  I am worthy of meaningful relationships that build me up, and guide me down the path of truth.  I am worthy of those things.  I will continue to evolve and change, by taking life one day at a time.  I will never be perfect, but I sure as heck will be a better person today than I was yesterday. 

I also will never let someone shame me into thinking I am anything but a beautiful, created,  living vessel.  My life is valued and loved.  It doesn't matter how broken I am, or how far I still have to go.  My life gives to this world, and makes a difference.  I may be taking a different path than the next person, but that path is still a part of a community, and is still necessary to this broken world. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

35..... and my 40 before 40 list....

Yikes!  I didn't realize that it has almost been a whole month since I blogged!  Where did the time go?  Ahhh....I am so not ready for my life to keep going at this crazy speed. 

Here I am a week away from being 35.  I am not really sure how to understand everything that is the age of 35.  I don't feel almost 35.  I don't even really feel in my 30's.  Maybe that is how everyone feels?  Do we all just feel like we don't ever age?  Oh sure, my body is definitely telling me that the aging process is coming more rapidly then I really want it to.  But here I am sitting down to write my list of 40 things I want to accomplish before I turn 40.  That's in 5 freaking years!  How crazy is that???

When I think about my 35 years, I am pretty overwhelmed by all that I have been through, all that I have overcome.  Even more I am pretty amazed by how much I have changed and grown over the past year especially.  How I have allowed my mistakes to change me instead of define me.  How I have embraced the mess that I am, and grasped a hold of the amazing woman I am evolving into. 

Every single day I understand more and more of why I was put on this earth.  I don't always get things right.  My heart gets hurt, I get emotional, I misunderstand, but you know what I can say this...  EVERY SINGLE DAY I AM MAKING A DIFFERENCE!  That's what matters.  My heart loves life.  My heart loves people! 

This hasn't always been true for me.  There was a time when I thought that I would be better off if I didn't come in contact with others.  There was a time when I allowed the lies that I didn't make a difference, or that I was too much to crush me.  I allowed them to define me.  I allowed them to build a wall around me. 

That wall has slowly been disappearing brick by brick.  It is not completely down yet.  In fact sometimes I feel like the bricks are only loosened just a little, especially the ones that have been pushed in with scoop after scoop of cement.  You know the ones that I just can't quite let go of yet, because they hold the deepest parts of me away.  They protect me, if only a little bit. 

In my growth of my walls being torn down, I have found myself disappointed that others aren't at the same point I am.  I have found myself longing for authentic friendships and relationships with people that just aren't there yet.  It has hurt me, made me sad, and in some cases made me feel like I wasn't good enough for them to trust.  The truth is that we all have our own journey.  We all are at different places.  But, when we find those people...the ones who are willing to let us help them break those bricks...that is when life seems really worth living in community. 

My hope and prayer is that I keep finding those people.  My hope and prayer is that I am able to help others break down the walls that have been broken down for me.  My hope and prayer is that in these next 5 years, I will dive even further into the land of loving people where they are.  Of being a listening ear without trying to solve any problems, and of one day finding someone who can be that for me as well. 

Community, tribe, love, authenticness...these are all words that make my heart swell.  These are all words that have come to have real meaning for me, especially in the last year.  I am so thankful and blessed.  I am so overwhelmed by how God moves to show His love. 

Below is my 40 before 40 list....

I am pretty sure it is set, but I am also allowing myself the grace to change it if I want to.  So there might be revisions as I go about these next 5 years.  But on my list I put realistic things.  Not dreams, but things that I can make happen.  There are some things I would love to add to my list, but they are not in my control.  Those things will continue to be in my heart, and maybe one day they can be added.  But for now, they remain a prayer.....

These are in complete random order.....

#1  Attend a Renaissance Festival

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

#3  Pay School Loans down

#4  Go Skydiving

#5  Get a tattoo

#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

#12  Go to an Art Museum once a year

#13  Visit Napa Valley

#14  Go on a cruise

#15  Learn how to cook Risotto

#16  Go geocaching

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

#18  Be open to new dating opportunities

#19  Take the ultimate U.S. Road Trip (solo)

#20  Read every book by C.S. Lewis

#21  Learn to Knit

#22  Take Spanish and be able to hold a conversation

#23  Read 100 books

#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

#29  Run the Bolder Boulder

#30  Watch every film on AFI top 100

#31  Go to the doctor/dentist/eye doctor as recommended

#32  Complete a 1/2 marathon

#33  Write a short story

#34  Take a 24 hour solitude/no phone retreat 4 times a year

#35  Pray everyday

#36  Donate 2% of income each year to charity

#37  Try yoga

#38  Send 10 letters a year to friends far away

#39  Make something crafty and sell it

#40  Build my business

I'm pretty proud of my list. I think it is doable!  I have a week to prepare!  :) 

Sunday, July 24, 2016

8 Days of Solitude and Why Everyone Should Do It At Least Once

There was no music playing in my head, or words that came to mind as I drove the 2.5 hours that it took to get to my destination, except that the next 8 days were going to have to change my life.  What I didn't know on that drive, but I would soon found out was that completely removing myself from all outside influences created something in me that I had never felt before.  The next 8 days would literally transform the way I viewed my present, past, and the way I see my future.  Join me, on the journey. 

Isn't it true that we are so bombarded with information on a daily basis that we lose sight of who we are?  I think some people are able to balance the information that they give themselves, and the information that they allow others to give them, and how it affects their very soul.  They don't get stuck on putting their value and worth in what others say because they don't need to.  Some of us though, I feel like the sensitive souls of the world, we take things to heart.  Maybe too much so.  Nevertheless I had found myself in a place of hurt, pain, anger, sadness, and wanting to make my heart a little more hard, and a little less vulnerable. 

When you take away all forms of communication with the outside world, do you know what you get?  God.  He smacks himself right down in the middle of your thoughts, in the middle of your distractions, and says, "Here I am, are you sure you want to hear what I have to say?" 

Ofcourse I do, God.  Ofcourse.  But the more aware I got of God's voice, the more aware I was that some things He was telling me, or leading me to were not going to be what I wanted.  In fact they were going to be hard, they were going to be letting go of some pretty big baggage, and they were going to have to truly be dealt with before growth could take place. 

So I started praying, and journaling.  Sometimes I think we put too much thought into praying having to be a certain way, or done at a certain time.  When really all it is, well it is talking to him.  In my case writing to Him because I am just a much better written communicator.  I can write a million times better with my feelings then I can when I looking you face to face.  It is a gift in many ways, and not in others.  So in my journaling I am finding myself praying, Adoring...Thanking, Confessing, and Supplication.  I have been praying this way since college.  I can't even remember what Bible study first drew me to this act of prayerful worship, but I have literally used it ever since. 

You know what I realized.....I had an issue with pride.  My insecurities, my inability to see my worth.  It actually wasn't about being unworthy.  It was about being prideful in my unworthiness.  Using my insecurities to create this need for me to play the victim, or feel less than someone else.  When that is really not at all what it means to humble ourselves and pray, is it?  It doesn't mean that I come before Him feeling like nothing.  It doesn't mean that I allow my story to be that I am nothing.  Humbling myself means that I see the awe of who God is.  That I recognize just how much greater He is than me.  That it is without a doubt amazing that He wants to listen to me, recognize me, and answer me.  That's what my issue with pride was/is.  Not that I don't see my sin and things I need to work on, because I do.  But almost that I had forgotten to revere God.  I had forgotten that He is to be lifted high, to be worshiped, adored and praised.  How had I forgotten that?  Isn't that supposed to be the ONE thing that we get right?  The ONE thing that I as a believer understand to be true?  But for some reason it had been lost in between the comings and goings, the emotional conversations, and broken relationships, somehow I had lost the truth that God is above all and in control of all, yet He still listens and understands me.  I had forgotten how to understand the balance between reverence and love. 

That led me to grasp the fact that because I had lost my reverence for God, prayer to Him has been fleeting and at times almost non-existent.  Sure I will go stints where I journal, then I will lose touch or find something else to occupy my time, like Netflix or film festivals.  Literally anything else that helps to distract me from the reality that I am not giving Him my full attention, that He is not my first love.  I came to understand this a little more deeply on a walk I took my first evening.  The trails were awesome, completely perfect for a solitude retreat.  Not too much ruggedness, but just enough so that you had to actually watch where you were going.  The minute I stepped onto the trail I kept running in to cobwebs.  Literally every 2 feet I felt like my face would plant itself into another one.  Ugh.  It was utterly disgusting!  Yet I just had to keep going.  But now I realize that I was focusing more on not running into the cobwebs, and getting the ones that were already stuck on me off, then I was in actually focusing on the reason I had taken the walk in the first place.  Finally....I found it!   A stick that would be perfect.  I would sweep the stick through the path before I walked.  Yay!  Relief at last. 

Here's the connection.  The path is my life.  I walk it everyday, things happen along my life that are hard, messy, and distracting.  A lot like the cobwebs.  I get caught up in those things.  I let them run my life, I let them change my mood, I even sometimes let them keep me from giving my everything to a person or cause.  But the stick, that is prayer.  You know what happens when you pray?  When you pray without ceasing?  It clears the cobwebs away.  It makes the path more clear.  It doesn't take them away completely, they are still there, but it makes the walk easier, and you are free to focus on the steps you have to take, instead of pulling the problems off of you as you go.  It allows something else to be in control.  It struck me that for quite a while now I have been living my life pulling the cobwebs off as I go. I have not been fervently on my knees praying for what I want in life.  Maybe I had thought that God stopped listening to me, maybe I thought my requests were too silly, or maybe I just didn't feel like making the time to ask.  What I realized is that all of those excuses have created chaos inside of my heart and life. Praying is what clears the cobwebs, prayer is what keeps us going. 

The more you focus on prayer, the more God speaks to you.  In 8 days I heard more from God, then I have heard for the past 5.  I became vulnerable before Him.  I talked to Him constantly, understanding Him, revering Him, and knowing Him more.  God became my first love again, and I wondered why I had ever walked away. 

The thing is that I know why in some ways.  I know the minute I started choosing to distance myself from God.  It was the minute I decided that I knew what I needed more than He did.  The minute I decided that if He wasn't going to answer my prayers, I was just going to do things on my own.  That it didn't matter who I dated, what I did in my spare time, or if I even acknowledged Him, because He wasn't doing what I needed Him to do. He was failing me and I was tired of it. 

At the time I didn't know that this is what I was thinking and feeling.  I am not even sure up until last week I had any idea that I had actually pushed myself away from God.  But I know that in the midst of my solitude I figured out that the reason I felt so lousy about who I am, isn't because of my sin, or my insecurities...really it was because I had stopped finding my worth in Him.  I had started to listen to all those little lies and stories that I make up as I go through my day.  Stories that have nothing to do with worth, and everything to do with rejection and pain.  Stories that would make your heart bleed if I told you some of the lies I was allowing myself to believe.  I think it is so easy to get caught up in those stories.  I think that we have a continuous dialogue going on inside our heads and hearts that bring up all of those past mistakes and sins that cause us to doubt that there is even a loving creator.  Because you see, if you push yourself away from people, eventually they will give up and walk away. 

Haven't we all done that at one time or another?  Haven't we been pushed so far away, that we just don't feel like making the effort to keep trying.  But guess what?  God never tires of trying.  He just doesn't.  He is a God of love, grace, and mercy.  He is a God of redemption, and so many different ways of loving us back to Him that we can't even comprehend all of the ways that He will lead us to His gracious arms.  So in pushing God away, I really wasn't doing anything, but allowing Him to show His love in an even greater way. 

Because our God, He isn't in the giving up business.  He loves His people.  He cares for them, and He chases after them.  Because although He is a God to be revered, and put on a pedestal, He is also a God that meets us exactly where we need Him to, and listens to us with open ears.  He also, believe it or not answers us, always. 

That's the part I have the hardest time with.  The fact that He ALWAYS listens and He ALWAYS answers.  My doubt causes me to not expect Him to answer.  My human mind cannot grasp how He hears and answers everyone's needs everywhere.  I don't get it.  Because I myself do a lousy job of it.  I tell people I will pray for them, and then I go to bed without even bowing my head.  I ask people if there is anything that I can do to help them, and then I am too busy to be there when they need me.  I tell someone that I want to talk to them, and then I don't answer the phone when they call.  These are all my human flaws.  Things that I do because I am not perfect, and I do not do things the way a perfect God does.  I can't place my human flaws on a flawless God.  It doesn't work that way.  He is bigger than that.  He is everything I am not and more. 

I have tried to put into words some of what I have felt, and thought through my 8 days away from people.  I think in some ways I have captured it beautifully, and in others I haven't captured it enough.  But I will say that I think there is so much to be said about getting away from the world, picking up the Bible and a few books and relearning who we are in Christ, what we believe to be true, and how we can live in the world as an awe-inspired worthy because of Jesus human being.  So, if you need a place to go for 8 days or more, or less of solitude...let me know!  A lot of my prayer journey took place journaling, but there were two books that were phenomenal for me: 

Prayer by Timothy Keller and
War Room, The Battle Plan for Prayer by Stephen Kendrick and Alex Kendrick

Meanwhile here are my take-aways, and some quotes from the books I read....

#1  God can do anything...prayer does work!

#2  God needs to be my first love, prayer with Him my top priority. 

#3  I can no longer try to live in the world, but not in the world.  I have to cope with pain and loss from a God-perspective, not a world-perspective. 

#4  Being authentic, sometimes means loss.

#5  My focus should be on God.  I can no longer live for pleasing others, and all the agendas and deadlines that have nothing to do with Him.

#6  In every situation/circumstance, I need to go to God first! 

#7  When I don't pray, life gets way more complicated than it needs to be.  Prayer is vital to my story!

#8  Set goals, live by them.  (prayer, exercise, business, God's people, no pride)

#9  It matters that I love well. 

#10  Don't neglect people, or leave them behind.  Meet them where they are. 

#11  God brings unexpected things to our path, so that we learn to rely on Him and trust Him more. 

#12  Being vulnerable, and authentic is worth every amount of hurt and pain, because it brings so much more growth and love. 

#13  Failure isn't the worst thing I can do, not growing from failure is the worst thing. 

#14  Everyone is truly doing the best they can.  (Rising Strong, by Brene Brown)

Some of the books and quotes from my 8 days....

Rising Strong by Brene Brown

"When we own our stories, we avoid being trapped as characters in stories someone else is telling." 

"The irony is that we attempt to disown our difficult stories to appear more whole or more acceptable, But our wholeness even our wholeheartedness actually depends on the integration of all of our experiences including the falls." 

"Choosing to write our own story means getting uncomfortable, it's choosing courage over comfort." 

"And just so we don't miss it in this long list of all the ways we can numb ourselves, there's always staying busy, living so hard and fast that the truths of our lives can't catch up with us." 

"When we decide to own our stories and live our truth; we bring our light to the darkness." 

"We make up hidden stories that tell us who is against us and who is with us.  Whom we can trust and who is not to be trusted.  Conspiracy thinking is all about fear based self-protection and our intolerance for uncertainty." 

There are so many more!  Love this book! 

What I wrote in my journal during my reading of this book...

There will be times when I feel left out, someone chooses someone else over me, they think I am too much emotionally or otherwise.  In those moments I choose to still be vulnerable, raw, and authentic.  In those moments I choose the hurt and pain over pride, and I love anyways.  I give anyways.  That is Rising Strong to me.  

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

"What mattered more than how hard a man rowed was how well everything he did in the boat harmonized with what the other fellows were doing.  And a man couldn't harmonize with his crewmates unless he opened his heart to them.  He had to care about his crew.  It wasn't just the rowing but his crewmates  that he had to give himself up to, even if it meant getting his feelings hurt."

"There was a straightforward reason for what was happening.  The boys in the Clipper had been winnowed down by punishing competition, and in the winnowing a kind of common character had issued forth, they were all skilled, they were all tough, there were all fiercely determined, but they were also good-hearted.  Every one of them had come from humble origins or been humbled by the ravages of the hard times in which they had grown up.  Each in his own way, they had all learned that nothing could be taken for granted in life, that for all their strength and good looks, and youth, forces were at work in the world that were greater than they.  The challenges they had faced together taught them humility- the need to subsume their individual egos for the sake of the boat as a whole- and humility was the common gateway through which they were able to now come together and begin to do what they had not been able to do before."  

This book taught me so much about strength, perseverance, but mostly community and love. 

The End of Your Life Book Club  by Will Schwalbe

"And yet we constantly interrupt ourselves.  We do it when we check our emails incessantly- or won't simply let a phone go to voicemail when we're doing something we enjoy- or when we don't think a thought through, but allow our minds to fix on temporary concerns or desires." 

"But modern life itself is an interruption machine:  phone calls, emails, texts, news, television, and our own restless minds.  The greatest gifts you can give anyone is your undivided attention, yet I'd been constantly dividing mine.  No one was getting it, not even me." 

"She felt whatever emotions she felt, but feelings was never a useful substitute for doing, and she never let the former get int he way of the latter.  If anything she used her emotions to motivate her and help her concentrate.  The emphasis for her was always on doing what needed to be done." 

This book took me through my whole array of emotions, and led me to a deeper desire to complete all that has been given for me to do.  To fulfill my deepest heart desires.  But to also get away from my phone a lot more! 

There is so much more in my heart to say, yet I feel it is time to close.  8 days away from the world, sure can do wonders.  But the thing is that really a lifetime with a Savior, can change things too. 

My last quote....

"To love at all is to be vulnerable.  Love anything and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken.  If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give it to no one, not even an animal.  Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements.  Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness.  But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change.  It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.  To love is to be vulnerable."      -C.S. Lewis

So I say that the greatest take away I have is to love.  To love through the messy, broken, crazy world that we live in.  To keep loving despite all the wretched things that we encounter, because one day you will realize that all the love you have been brings you greater joy and satisfaction than anything else that you could imagine. 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Why I need to Unplug...

The past month has been pretty rough, emotionally and even physically.  There have been many changes in my life.  Some of them for the good, and others for growth and stretching of my faith.  Sometimes when I think back to this month I can't even wrap my mind around everything that has happened.  In the blink of an eye one of my friendships completely changed.  In the blink of an eye I watched a friend lose a family member.  In the blink of an eye I watched another friend's life change.  In the blink of an eye I witnessed what true verbal abuse, and hatred can be.  In another blink of an eye I realized how fragile health and life is.  In another blink of an eye I saw what prejudice, and racism can do to our communities. 

These things were rough.  They made me question myself, question my God, and question my role in my community.  They made me an emotional wreck.  Mostly because watching people that I love get hurt, or choose to walk away pretty much breaks my heart.  I can't actually change anyone.  I can't make someone want to be around me or understand how I feel.  I can't take away the pain from someone else, or help them make better choices. I can't control anything, sometimes I don't even feel like I can control myself. 

I feel trapped in the chaotic world that we live in most of the time.  I feel judged most of the time.  Because my opinion or my feelings aren't understood by others, and so that means that people feel the need to judge me.  I feel trapped in the world of constant information.  I am bombarded on a daily basis with news feeds from over 5 social media apps.  They are all screaming, "Look at me, follow me, see what this person has to say today."  With each of those apps I find that I lose a little more of who I am, a little more of what I know to be true about myself, and my focus becomes less on God and more on living up to the standards that others have for me. 

So, I find myself in a place where I have to find that voice inside of me again.  I have to still the images, and voices that are screaming for my attention.  I have to take myself out of the social media world, and just be silent and still.  I have to take time to just be.  For it is in the moments of silence and rest, I am going to find the truth of who I am.  The truth of who I was created to be, and the truth of what changes I need to make in my life in order to be the best version of myself I can be! 

I wish that hurt, pain, sickness, and sorrow weren't a part of this world.  I wish that broken friendships and relationships weren't a part of this world.  I wish that we could always tell people exactly how we are feeling, and they would feel exactly the same way, or they at least would understand.  I wish that we would only have strong feelings for those who feel them back. 

Mostly though I wish that people weren't just in our life for seasons.  I hate it, I hate it with every fiber of my being.  I wish that we could just always work through the messiness of the broken people we are, and understand each other.  I wish we didn't have to try to prove anything to others.  I wish that we didn't have to put these people above other people because to the world they are more popular, prettier, or wealthier.  I wish that we could for once truly just look inside of people's hearts, and see who they really are. 

These are the things I wish.  These are the reasons I need to unplug, to work through these things.  I want to see people with love-colored glasses.  I want to see people with the forgiveness that Jesus does.  But how do I do that in a broken-fallen world?  How do I do that when people are going to fail right and left, when I am going to fail right and left?  How do I stay humble, and kind yet not back down when someone needs truth in love?  How do I grasp how fragile life is, when I feel like I can't wrap my mind around it?  How do I not take health, and people for granted?  How do I live a life that is full of love, when sometimes all I want to do is tell someone exactly what they are doing wrong?  How do I plant myself in community, when all I want to do is run away because it is a lot less hurtful that way? 

These are my questions....these are good enough reasons to unplug and focus on Him. 

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Loving with Boundaries...

Today as I listened to the sermon I sat in church pondering the events that have transpired in my life over the past couple of weeks.  It is still really hard for me to know what it means to love people where they are, without letting them completely destroy me.  

Even though I think we are totally called to love others, no matter what, I do think that we are also called to set boundaries.  We are called to not let people walk all over us.  We are called to not allow toxic, or just plain mean people to change who we are, and what we are about.  

I spend a lot of my days wondering what people think and allowing people to do things even when I don't like them, because I don't want to hurt their feelings, or I think that they will leave me if they know the truth behind who I am and what I'm about.  I have spent many days of my life hiding behind this mask, because my sensitive heart gets hurt more easily then some, and I am looked down on because of it.  

The past week has shown me that I can love and still have boundaries.  I can love, and still give of my heart without it being hardened.  I would much rather have a soft, sensitive heart, then be hardened by the world, and evil in it.  

I don't always understand choices that people make.  I get left out of a lot of things, but at the end of the day all that matters is that I choose love.  I will never be the girl that dances with every guy on the dance floor.  I will never be the girl that can step up to a table full of people I don't know and have instant connection. That isn't who I am.  My acceptance and trust comes with time, conversation, and grace.  

I've had to examine myself in the last week, and ask myself if I have made the right choices by putting up the boundaries that I have.  In the end I have to know that I did the right thing.  In the end I have to live life to its fullest.  I may not always love completely and in the right way, but I do love.  I put others first, and I try my very best not to judge.  

One thing I think that I have learned is that love means no expectations.  I wish that I felt differently but the truth is that I think my disappointment comes from expecting too much from people.  Expecting them to understand where I am coming from.  Expecting them to not leave me out of things.  Expecting them to want to love me for who I authentically am, instead of who they would like for me to be.  

So, can I love with boundaries but not expectations?  I honestly don't know.  Weren't we created for expectation? But if we will always fail at those expectations, then what is the point of putting them on each other?  Weren't we created for boundaries? Isn't that how we let someone know that they have hurt us?  Without boundaries people can't break down the walls that have been created, can they?  

In a perfect world we wouldn't need either of these things.  We would just treat people with love and respect and there would be no room for hurt or betrayal.  We wouldn't choose one person over another just because they have a more beautiful face, or they can satisfy a temporary need.  We wouldn't have to give up one friendship in order to gain another.  

The world isn't perfect, it is messy and hard.  Because of that imperfection we have to figure out how to love with boundaries and expectations...don't we? 


Monday, June 13, 2016

Revisiting 2016 Resolutions.....6 months in....

Original Resolution Post

I am a few days early in making my 2016 resolution post, but I want to do it while my thoughts about 2016 are fresh in my mind.  I really love making New Year resolutions, it is the following through with them that I am not so great at.  So, this year my top resolution is to follow through with my resolutions!

I have three key words for this year:  Intentional....Grateful....Authentic

I think authentic is just actually going to be my life word, but I want it to be part of who I am in everything.  I haven't reached it yet, so I still have to make it part of my resolutions.


I want to be intentional in every single relationship I have.  That means that I want to make time to hear what people are really saying.  Spend quality time with them, and not just a hello here or there.  I want to foster those friendships that are one-of-a-kind.  I want to make deep and lasting friendships that are going to be around for awhile, and be able to make it through all the ups and downs life has to offer us. Mostly though this year I am going to be intentional with my family.  I feel like they kind of get the back burner sometimes because I know that they will always be there, but we don't know what tomorrow holds.  I want to make memories today.  I want to get to know who they are on a deeper level.  I want to intentionally spent time loving the people I am with.


Sometimes I get lost in wanting what others have.  I get lost in wanting a husband/family of my own and that sometimes forces me to lose sight of the things that I do have that others don't.  In 2016 I want to be grateful for what I have.  I want to be grateful for my singleness and live it out in a way that I never have before.  I want to be grateful for my friends, family, community.  I want to look at everyday in a positive way and open my eyes up to all that I am blessed with. I don't want to take God's mercy for granted.  I want to wake up every morning feeling blessed and living out that feeling. 


I continue to try to live an authentic life.  I continue to try to be the real me no matter who I am around, and no matter what the subject is.  I feel like it is a process, and will continue to be a process as long as I live.  But this year I am focusing once again on being authentic.  I don't want to hide behind anything.  I want to be real when I am feeling lousy.  I want to be real when I have something to celebrate.  I want to be authentic in conversations and not hide behind the mask or wall I so often put up.

I am excited about what God has brought me this year to focus on in 2016.

"Do not fear for I am with you:  Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."  Isaiah 41:10

"For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (or cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but He has given us a spirit of power and of love and calm and well balanced mind and discipline and self-control."      2 Timothy 1:7

So I look to 2016, that it will be a year when I embrace where I am, who I am with, and the life that I am living as a single 34 year old female.  I will live my life with love, intention, gratefulness, and authenticity.  I will work to build His kingdom through His mercy and grace. 

I always think it is good to go back and look at things that we have written in the past, especially when those things are supposed to be our resolutions!!!  

I'm not real sure that I have done a terrific job of embracing these three things.  So.....

Here I go again.....the next 6 months....

Authenticity, Gratefulness, and Intentionality.... 

A Less Busy Life...

This past Sunday's sermon was pretty much spot on with what God has been telling me here lately.  I have found myself consumed with being too busy for people, and time with Him.  It makes me sad, but not sad enough to do anything about it.  That is...until Saturday night at 3:00 am.  I had been planning a vacation for awhile.  I am actually takinh a week off in July, and at first was pretty much set on going to California to visit friends.  But a $500 plane ticket isn't exactly what I had in mind, plus the cost of housing, plus I would be trying to visit everyone and their mom and I just don't know that it is the best use of my time after the craziness that this summer has already been.  

So I went through about 8 million (okay a bit of an exaggeration) scenarios, before I realized that maybe right now what I need to do is make God my priority.  Maybe what I need to do is spend time in prayer with Him.  Away from social media, away from Netflix, away from all the things that so often distract me from where my focus needs to be.  

Life for me has become about doing everything for everyone all of the time.  Life for me has become about doing my best all of the time, about running myself ragged trying to say yes to everything that is asked of me...and frankly it is freaking exhausting.  I can't keep going at this rate.  I don't need to keep going at this rate.  

I don't have to say yes to everything.  Even the things that I say yes to do not have to be completed perfectly without any flaws.  Because really it isn't about me getting everything right, and doing everything that I can do to be someone important.  It isn't about proving myself worthy.  Because I don't need to prove myself worthy.  I don't need to prove that I have a role in this world.  I don't need to prove.  

Yet, I am always trying to prove.  I am always trying to make a difference but not for the right reasons.  

I am addicted to the Kingdom of Noise.  Trying to accomplish everything in  the world myself.  Trying to make everything the way I think it should be.  Doing things my way  Filling up my calendar with people, Bible Studies, volunteering, coffee dates.  They all look like great, stellar things.  They all seem like things that would bring me closer to God.  Really though, none of it brings me closer to Him, because it all is representing the wedge that I am allowing to be driven between.  

It is easier to stay busy, than to stop and ask Him what I should be doing differently in my life.  It is easier to stay busy than to work on changing the things that I know are keeping me from love.  It is easier to check FB than to sit down and pray.  To communicate with the all-knowing God of the is not quite as entertaining as the banter back and forth about the presidential candidates.  
My life has in many ways become my idol.  I am not often still before God, because I have allowed myself to become accustomed to constant activity and distraction.  

Is that really the kind of life I want to live?  Do I really want to wait till the end of the day before offering up my praise, and requests to Him?  Do I really want to only think of Him when it is convenient for me, or when I have nothing else to read or entertain me?  

What kind of life would I be living, if that was all that I thought of the one who Created me?  

I had someone look me in the eyes last week and say..."There is no way you can help other people, if you are not filled up yourself." 

It's so true, isn't it?  How do we expect to keep giving of ourselves without being full?  How do we expect to make a difference in this world, if we are trying to do it on our own, in our own way?  

I constantly find myself fighting the noise in my life.  I constantly find myself wanting to take moments to hear nothing, to be nothing, to just listen and understand all there is to get from silence.  That's not what my culture values though.  That is not even what a lot of churches value.  We value keeping our lives and our kids lives so busy that there is not time to just be.  There is no time to connect as a family.  There is no time to pray.  

How many of us have said those words, "I'll pray for you."  Then....we don't.  Why?  Because we get so wrapped up in the go, go, going of life that communicating with God about someone else is the lowest on our checklist of things to get done in a day.  

I can't be this busy.  I can't be too busy for people, for prayer, for communication with my Creator.  Because if I continue to let the Kingdom of Noise have the throne, there will be nothing left in me but selfishness, anger, and fear.  There will be nothing left, but all the things that I don't want to be.  

My life has to change.  I have to pass by the illusion that the "stuff" I am doing is the most important.  I have to realign myself with the truth that His Kingdom is the only one that matters.  My busy life does nothing to point others to love.  My busy life only causes others to think they don't matter.  

In the next week or two I will take a step back, and make more time to pray.  I will because it is one of the greatest things in life I can do. In fact it might be the greatest thing in life I can do.  

Solitude and prayer....what could happen to change this world if we all took more time for solitude and prayer???


When we choose love....

Love...sometimes I think I forget what love is supposed to be.  I find myself so caught up in my own thoughts and needs that I forget that love isn't just something that happens to me.  It isn't just this feeling that is floating out there in space.  Love is supposed to be who I am.  Love is supposed to be what I live for.  It is because of love that I am here, isn't it?  It is because of love that I have so many chances.  

Yet I find myself in this pattern of not relying on love.  I find myself wanting to earn love, or wanting others to earn my love.  I find myself wondering if I love enough.  

This past weekend I found myself in tears because of a friend's pain.  I found myself with the biggest heartache that I have had  for another person, in a really long time, so much so that it brought me to tears, the giant sobbing kind of tears.  In that moment it struck me what love truly is.  In that moment I understood that what love's feeling what another person is going through so deeply that you feel it inside of your core.  Then I thought...that's it.  That is what this life is about.  When we look at others, when we listen to them, we love them so much that we truly allow ourselves to feel what they are going through.  We allow ourselves to be put into the position that they are in.  We allow ourselves to love to our core.  

Isn't that what Jesus did?  He felt the pain to His very core that each of us would go through.  Every single time we shed a tear, He feels it....just as much as we do.  That is the depth of love, that is the truth of love.  That is living love. 

I'm not Jesus, I can't attain His perfection...but I am able to love through His grace and mercy.  I am able to tune in to the love that He has for me, and carry that on in my interactions.  

I find myself stopping in moments throughout my day and asking myself if I am truly loving to my core.  Am I connecting with others so much so that I feel their pain and hurt?  Or am I just listening to them, telling them I will pray for them, and then moving forward?  I don't want to be complacent when it comes to love.  I don't want it to be just another emotion that I have.  I want it to seriously run my life.  I want love to be what comes out of me in my most vulnerable moments, when all I want to do is run the other direction.  I want to love others so much that they can't possible do anything else but understand God's love, and sacrifice more after they are in contact with me.  

Love isn't just a feeling that comes and goes like butterflies in my stomach.  It isn't just this crazy emotion that I get when I think a guy is into me.  Love is so much deeper than that.  Love has a depth that can only be peeled back when it is authentically given to the core.  I didn't design love, there's nothing anyone should be able to do to take away my love.  Because love shouldn't come from me, and it shouldn't be filled out of my weaknesses.  Love, it has to be bigger than that.  Love....has to be the very depth of who I am.  Love has to be the force that drives me to my knees, and powers me to understand how to connect in the most meaningful of ways.   

That's the kind of life worth living, that's the kind of love worth dying for.  

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Fear and the place it used to have...

It's 10:37pm.  I have to get up at least by 6:30, so I can get to the store to buy things for our last day of Week 1 of summer school.  Yet I am compelled to write.  I am compelled to tell a little bit more of my story, and be pretty vulnerable tonight.  It is what helps me to grow, it is what I need to do in order to truly work through all the things that I have going through  my mind right now.  

I have had a realization this week.  Much of which I knew was coming, but it still just blows my mind the way things work in my soul and heart.  

What I have come to?  

The truth that.... I AM ENOUGH.  

For the longest time, actually I think probably since before I even knew how to successfully be a friend to anyone I have been comparing myself to those around me.  I have been putting myself down, and I have been feeding into the lie that I will never ever achieve success by anyone's standards because I am not good enough.  I don't know that anyone ever specifically told me those words, but circumstances for as long as I can remember them have led me to develop this inner feeling that I will never, ever measure up.  

It caused me to keep people in my life that only wanted to destroy me.  It caused me to not take chances in relationships, in jobs, in life.  It caused me to run the opposite direction and hop from place to place, all in search of this ideal person that I thought I was supposed to be.  The idea that I would never be enough.  I was constantly searching for the other part of myself that would be enough.  I was constantly looking for others to approve of me, so that I could finally fit into the mold that had been carved out.  

I allowed myself to believe that because I didn't date anyone until I was close to my 30's that I really was not enough.  I convinced myself that I was stuck with the only person that had shown me attention because I was not enough.  I convinced myself that all the other rejections were clearly because I was not what the typical "ideal" woman was like. I convinced myself that I was the worst representation of what anyone would want for a wife, and mother.  I convinced myself that I had messed it up, and that I didn't deserve anyone in my life to love.  I convinced myself that I would never be enough because I might never have everything that other people have.  I convinced myself that the only way I was worth something was to have a husband and family. 

So, all this convincing that I did... you want to know how it has shaped me?  It has turned me into a person that keeps people at a distance.  It has turned me into someone that thinks people are only using me to get to someone else.  It has turned me into someone that uses my trust issues to push people away.  

My realization came a few days ago, when I thought about how I allow my trust issues to be an excuse for me.  How I allow myself to sometimes be a martyr because of trust.  I understand now that I have allowed my trust issues to define me.  I have used them as an excuse to push people away. I have used them as an excuse to not open myself up to love.  To not open myself up to people that will in fact build me up instead of tear me down.  I have allowed these issues to cause me to believe that I screwed up royally and that I do not deserve God's best.  You know what though?  

I choose to not give in to this lie anymore. I choose to take on the love, grace and mercy that has been offered me. I choose to open myself up to whatever it is I am feeling, even if it means I am wrong and even if it means I might get hurt.  I can't live life authentically if I am hiding behind a mask that refuses to trust.  I can't allow myself to breathe in the community around me and allow them to change me if I am locked away inside my world of bubbles. I must choose to embrace all that I am.  I must choose to see myself through the eyes of my Creator.  Knowing that I was created for a purpose.  That my purpose may or may not include being a wife and mother.  But that doesn't define my worth. 

Fear can get the best of us.  It can hold us so tightly that we are choked.  We are unable to breathe, and then we just think that is the way that we have to live.  With shallow, raspy breaths.  It isn't the way we have to live.  In fact it is so much the opposite of how we were intended to live.  

We were intended to live with freedom that comes only from knowing that we are Created beings, made in the image of our Creator.  We were intended to love, and trust.  We were intended to be open and not fit the everyday mold.  We were intended to be our own unique selves.  We were intended to be an example of His beauty.  We were intended to change this world.  

I can no longer live with the fear that I will never measure up, and that I have to hide who I am because I might get hurt.  I can no longer allow those thoughts to be the driving force of how I live.  There is more to this life than that.  So much more.  I choose to trust, I choose to believe in the community that I live in.  I choose to open myself up to show people what love is.  I choose to break down walls, and I choose to not allow my own insecurities define my worth.  Most of all though, I choose to see myself as I was created.  I choose to know that my soul, does not depend on what others think.  My worth does not even depend on the good that I do in this world.  My worth has already been bought.  I am worthy because He is.  I am worthy because I choose to believe.  I am worthy because someone loves me.  I am worthy without proving anything.  

Tuesday, May 24, 2016


Do you ever feel like you are just checking things off of a list?  Like you just need to get these things accomplished and then it will be fine.  Sometimes I find myself in that state when it comes to worship, when it comes to the view that I feel like we have all had of worship.  If I just check it off the list, then I have done what I am supposed to do, and I can go along my merry way.  

That's not really how it should be though, right?  I shouldn't just be checking it off my list.  It should be a part of my whole entire being.  My focus throughout the day should be so in tune with my Creator that my essence breathes out worship.  I don't think I'm there yet.  I think distractions and life get in the way of me being grounded in a mindfulness of constant worship.  I long for the day when worship is just radiating from my very soul.  I long for the day when that is the thing that people look at me and say that I  value.  I long for that day.  


Life's Distractions...

Do you ever find yourself distracted?  Like truly distracted.  You find yourself analyzing every single thing that people say and do, so much so that you lose sight of what you should be focused on.  You are so lost in other people's stories that you forget that God is writing one of your own?  I have found myself distracted a lot lately.  It is causing me to analyze things that I just have no business analyzing.  It is causing me to over think actions that I don't need to be over thinking.  It has caused me to not spend time reading, journaling, and writing.  This in turn has caused me to lose part of myself.  I am truly at my best when I can spend time writing and creating.  I am truly filled up when I can stop myself from being distracted by everything other people say and do to me.  My focus has to be on the Creator, because without that focus I lose who I am. 

There are so many things that we can get distracted by.  We can get distracted by the busy schedules we lead.  We can get distracted by our marital status, or our lack of a marital status.  We can get distracted by comparing our lives to others.  Determining who has been through the most "stuff."  We can easily allow ourselves to be distracted by the fantasies of future life that we build up.  You know that new job, finally having a family, moving to a new place, building a life in a community.  There are so many distractions that allow us to move what should be #1, into the #2 spot.  

One of my biggest distractions lately has been my work.  I have been putting my heart and soul into a new opportunity I have for the summer.  It has pretty much consumed me.  I was convincing myself that I was doing it to glorify God.  In the end though, the past couple of days I have had to check my motives.  I have had to ask myself why I am really working my butt off, putting in so many hours.  The conclusion I came to is not that I was really truly trying to glorify God....I really truly was trying to glorify myself.  I was trying to make my voice known.  I was trying to prove my worth.  

That's the biggest thing isn't?  When we realize that we are once again trying to prove to others that we are good enough.  We work so hard just to prove that we have what it takes to be part of their lives.  Proving ourselves, becomes a huge distraction.  It takes us away from the purpose of the job or activity in the first place.  When I recognized what I was doing, and laid it down, and admitted that everything probably wasn't going to turn out perfectly.  Well....that is when I was able to not be as distracted by proving my worth.  That was when I realized that I could humbly ask for help from others, and that was a part of my growth.  

My worth isn't based off of how others view me.  It isn't based off of me being the best at everything.  I don't have to prove that I am good enough, because that has already been proven for me.  

The best I can do is allow those things to not become a distraction.  The best I can do is constantly acknowledge that I am doing the best I can.  That I am a person that was created and designed for good things.  The best I can do is not put my worth and value in any one thing, but in the LOVE that was shown and given to me.  That is the best I can do.  And that... is enough!